§ 3.50 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)
I beg to move,That this House approves the Statement relating to Defence [Command Paper No. 5682].The White Paper which we are discussing this afternoon is the fourth of its kind. It is significant of the state of international affairs and international relations that for four successive years we have been discussing these subjects and turning our attention to figures of such magnitude. I think it is no less significant that, generally speaking, throughout the country there is a conviction that the course we embarked upon when we began our rearmament was one which could not have been avoided, and one which must now be carried through to the end. The White Papers of 1935 and 1936 were devoted largely to explaining the circumstances which had led His Majesty's Government to the conclusion that the deficiencies in our armaments must be made good, and they also defined in broad terms the objectives which were aimed at in the plans which we were putting forward for the reconditioning and the modernising of our Forces. The White Paper of 1937 gave some indication of the extent of the field to be covered, and pointed to the total sum which we might expect to have to spend in the course of the next five years.
The White Paper of to-day is in the nature of a survey of the progress made, and it contains also some account of the measures taken by the Government for the protection of civilians against the effects of air raids. A statement of this kind must necessarily, for purposes of preserving the public interest, be on somewhat broad lines. On the Estimates which will presently come before the House, it will be possible and desirable to go much further into details; but this afternoon I propose to avoid details as much as possible, and confine myself to more general observations. I would like to begin by saying a few words about the work of the Minister for the Coordination of Defence. I remember that when he was appointed, a good many doubts were expressed as to whether, in fact, any such Minister could have the authority which was requisite for the purposes which the House had in mind when the appointment was called for. Even 1556 after my right hon. Friend's appointment, doubts as to the capacity, not of my right hon. Friend personally, but of any Minister in his position, to carry out those duties still persisted. Some hon. Members appeared to think that, in fact, he was to act more like a Minister of Munitions than like a Minister whose duty it was to see that plans were prepared for contingencies, and to see that the Services were so co-ordinated as to allow each Service to play its appropriate part. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has played merrily on more than one occasion on the meagreness of my right hon. Friend's staff, which he alleges consists only of a typist and an office boy.
§ The Prime Minister
My right hon. Friend does not deny that he made merry. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence is not, of course, an executive officer, but a co-ordinating officer, and, in fact, his staff does not consist merely of his personal assistants, but it is to be found in the whole machinery of the Committee of Imperial Defence. I think probably most hon. Members are of opinion that my right hon. Friend has performed invaluable services in the work of supply. He is not, of course, the Minister who places contracts, but he has a great work to do in allotting priority of orders among the three Services, and of making sure that their programmes are kept in proper balance and not thrown out by deficiencies in one section or another. He has, then, in that direction performed invaluable services. But after watching his activities closely, I feel that I can with complete confidence give the House an assurance that the original object which we had in mind in appointing him has been achieved. Co-ordination, which already even before his appointment did exist, has been greatly strengthened and improved. The system of control, which has been described on a previous occasion, is working smoothly and efficiently. As hon. Members know, it is based upon the Committee of Imperial Defence, of which the Prime Minister is Chairman, and the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence is Vice-Chairman. He is responsible, on behalf of the Prime Minister, for the supervision and control of the whole 1557 of the organisation and activities of the Committee of Imperial Defence.
On matters of Defence policy and strategy the Committee is advised by the Chiefs of Staff, who are themselves advised by a Joint Planning Committee. The Joint Planning Committee consists of the Directors of Plans in each of the three Services, and that Committee, in turn, is assisted by three further officers drawn from the Army, Navy and Air Force, each of whom is a graduate of the Imperial Defence College. As a result of this strengthening of the machinery of planning, there has been an enormous speeding up of the process of planning and of strategical appreciations both those that are designed to meet emergencies and those which take account of long-range policy. In a word, I can say that never has planning for strategical purposes been brought to so complete a state as it is at present, and never has any Government been so well served with co-ordinated advice and information on strategy as is the case at present. But there is another phase of the work to which I would like to refer in which an important part has been played by my right hon. Friend. At this time of the year, it is customary, and indeed necessary, to make a review of the requirements of the Services before the Estimates are prepared and laid before the House; but recently a more intensive survey than usual has been carried through by my right hon. Friend, in conjunction with the heads of the several Services. This inquiry was originally initiated last Summer by myself when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, in consultation with the Minister, and the purpose of it was to establish the relations of our Defence programme with the total resources available to us—resources of man power, of productive capacity and of finance.
All those three factors are closely connected with the credit of the country and the general balance of trade. All of them are important, but all of them are especially important and need to be weighed with particular care in times of peace, when we are trying to avoid any undue interference with ordinary trade and commerce. I know that there are some who have thought that perhaps it would be better that we should devote the whole of our resources to the production of munitions. That is a course which any 1558 Government would hesitate to take in peace time, unless they were convinced that matters had become so critical that it could not any longer be avoided; but, of course, to do that would be to deal a terrible blow at industry. It would not merely mean the loss of orders on hand or immediately in prospect; it would mean the loss of the good will which, if it once disappeared, it might take a very long time to recover, if indeed it ever were recoverable. The fact is that wars are not only won with arms and men; they are won with the reserves of resources and credit. That is what we mean when we speak of the staying power of a nation. Staying power depends upon the maintenance of those commercial and industrial activities. When we glance over our past history we see that our staying power has made important contributions to victory.
There is another point, too. The economic stability of a country, its possession of staying power, is recognised to be a powerful deterrent against attack, because unless a nation can feel that it is possible to knock out its opponent by a sudden blow—and recent experience is not encouraging to that theory—then the strongest people may hesitate to risk a struggle with a country whose staying power may be able indefinitely to prolong their resistance. From these considerations I draw the conclusion that in a period of protracted and heavy expenditure, such as we are passing through now, we must be careful to preserve our economic and industrial stability. So in making this investigation to which I have referred we thought that it should embrace all the factors that were relevant to its consideration—the international situation, the policy for which the programmes were designed, the productive capacity of the country, our resources in labour and especially in skilled labour, the armaments of other countries, and, finally, financial considerations. After weighing up all these factors the results of this investigation have been translated into a balanced plan of Defence preparation and expenditure, based upon the full consideration of all factors, strategic and otherwise. These results are shown in the White Paper and in the memoranda which accompany the Estimates. Knowing, as I do, the careful and thorough work which has been put in upon that inquiry, I can assure the House that the 1559 money which we are asking them to spend is being spent wisely, and that we are, I believe, obtaining full value for it.
In this connection perhaps I might take the opportunity of assuring the House that the effort of the Defence Departments to secure their needs as cheaply as possible and to avoid the possibility that excessive profits may be left in the hands of manufacturers, has not in any way been relaxed. In earlier debates the House has been informed of the general nature of the arrangements that have been made for this purpose. The Treasury Inter-Services Committee meets at frequent intervals, and of course Treasury control has been fully maintained. The House may remember that last year the Estimates Committee went fully into the question, and they reported that they were satisfied that the methods followed were soundly conceived and fair both to the taxpayer and to the contractor. They also recorded their opinion that, so far as an estimate could be formed, the methods have been effective in preventing profiteering at the taxpayers' expense.
I said a little while ago that I wanted ths afternoon to avoid going into detail, but without doing that there is one point in connection with the Air Estimates on which I would like to take the opportunity of saying a word in fulfilment of a promise which I made the other day to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour). The question which my hon. and gallant Friend asked was:Whether the present Royal Air Force expansion programme for completion by March, 1939, is still anticipated to provide parity in first line strength with any European Air Force within striking distance of our shores?In so framing his question I imagine that my hon. and gallant Friend had in mind a statement which was made by my predecessor, Mr. Baldwin as he then was, on 8th March, 1934. This is what Mr. Baldwin said:This Government will see to it that in air strength and air power this country shall no longer be in a position inferior to any country within striking distance of our shores.The House will see that my hon. and gallant Friend, in confining himself to first line strength, has taken a much narrower view of parity than Mr. Baldwin took in the phrase that he used, of "air 1560 power and air strength." Although I am aware that first line strength has on many occasions been taken as a yardstick of parity, I am bound to say that the more I examine into the conditions the more I am forced inevitably to the conclusion that first line strength is only one of a number of factors which go to make up the air power and air strength of which Lord Baldwin spoke. Apart from the difficulties of deciding what machines or what squadrons you should include in the first line, there are also to be considered the reserves of aircraft, the reserves of bombs and equipment, the war potential which could be used in aircraft or bombs, the access to raw materials which will be required in their manufacture; and also I do not think we can leave out the value of an anti-aircraft defence, including any special devices which may have been developed by one country or another.
Then, of course, we must take account of personnel and the morale of the force. I believe Napoleon once said that in war the morale was to the physical as three to one. We have to take into account the training of air pilots and their racial temperament and characteristics. And of course we must also include the quality of the aircraft, as measured by their speed, their range and the nature of their equipment. I do not think we can stop there. Even in the case of capital ships parity of tonnage and parity of gun power do not represent any complete measure of equality, but in the case of aircraft we cannot set one aeroplane against another as you can set one capital ship against another. In examining the problems of war the Committee of Imperial Defence must take into account all the elements that come into play, of which air power, though it is of the first importance, is after all only one, and one which cannot be considered in isolation. I think, therefore, that to attempt to measure air power and air strength simply by first line strength is a delusion and a snare, that we have to look at our Defence problems as a whole from a wider aspect. We must take account of the aggregate and effectiveness of our resources, and in the various programmes which we have put forward I can tell the House that we are satisfied that we are making the best and most effective use of these resources.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
It is a very important matter and one which the Prime Minister 1561 ought not to be allowed to pass. However small a part of the whole programme the right hon. Gentleman may consider first line strength to be, I think it is vital, before the House can assess the value of the point he has made, that he should tell the House what is his information with regard to the first line strength of the German and British air forces.
§ The Prime Minister
I do not propose to enter into details in this opening statement. I have no doubt that in the course of the Debate a great number of questions will be asked by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, and there will be an opportunity, before the Debate closes, for a reply by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. That will be the time for the hon. Gentleman to get answers to such questions as should be answered, and it is not now desirable that I should interrupt the general statement I was going to make by going into matters of detail.
The question arises now, what is the policy for which these programmes are designed? I will try to put that in the form of a general statement. The comer-stone of our defence policy must be the security of the United Kingdom. Our main strength lies in the resources of man power, productive capacity and endurance of this country, and unless these can be maintained not only in peace but in the early stages of war, when they will be the subject of continuous attack, our defeat will be certain whatever might be the fate in secondary spheres elsewhere. Therefore, our first main efforts must have two main objectives: we must protect this country and we must preserve the trade routes upon which we depend for our food and raw materials.
Our third objective is the defence of British territories overseas from attack, whether by sea, land or air. I would remind the House that our position is different from that of many Continental countries in that we have the necessity at all times of maintaining garrisons overseas in naval bases and strategic points in different parts of the world. That makes it necessary for us to have available forces which can be despatched on what may be called Imperial police duty. In war time there would undoubtedly be substantial demands for reinforcements to be sent to these strategic points, but, taking them in order of priority, they are not 1562 as vital as the defence of our own country, because as long as we are undefeated at home, although we sustained losses overseas we might have an opportunity of making them good thereafter. The fourth and last objective which I will mention can be stated quite shortly, namely, co-operation in the defence of the territories of any allies we might have in case of war. These objectives have been before us in the preparation of each of the Service programmes. We have endeavoured to give to each Service means adequate to the role it is expected to play. Taken as a whole the programmes represent a careful balance struck after due account has been taken of the considerations I have mentioned, and when they are added together I think they form an impressive picture of the armed power and economic might of this country.
I think I must here interpolate something about the cost. In February, 1937, when I was still at the Treasury, I said to the House that the expenditure before us could not, in my opinion, be met entirely from revenue, and afterwards a Memorandum of the proposals of the Government was circulated to the House and subsequently received Parliamentary sanction in the shape of the Defence Loans Act, 1937. I should like now to repeat one or two of the outstanding points which were put before the House on that occasion. In the first place, we said that expenditure on Defence in future years would undoubtedly be very much higher than the £188,000,000 which was provided in 1936–37. It was not at that time possible to say which year would see the peak of the expenditure, but we indicated that it would be very imprudent to anticipate that the total sum required over five years would be much less than £1,500,000,000. We said then that neither the amount nor the period of any borrowing could at the moment be predicted. AU that we could do was to put a limit to the amount which might be borrowed, and in the Defence Loans Act that limit was fixed at £400,000,000.
In connection with that we laid down certain important principles: First, that the Estimates should show the total expenditure of the amount of money to be borrowed as well as the net amount which would be required to be found by the Budget. Secondly, we declared that the loans should not be used to relieve current expenditure on the maintenance 1563 of the Forces, and, in the third place, the Act provided for a fixed rate of interest to be charged to Defence expenditure upon the money borrowed, and that after five years arrangements should be made to repay the capital at such a rate as would result in the entire redemption in the course of 30 years. The time has now come to review these arrangements, but the Government, having reviewed them, see nothing to change except such necessary modifications of the total figures as have arisen out of further developments since they were first announced. In 1938 the Defence Estimates amount to £343,500,000; in 1939–40 they must inevitably be more than that. That year may see the peak of our expenditure, but it is too soon yet to speak with certainty, and further increases or diminutions must depend on the circumstances of the time. One thing we can say with certainty is that the £1,500,000,000 which we contemplated only a little time ago is now not sufficient for our purpose. It is too soon to say what figure will be substituted for that £1,500,000,000, but I am afraid the House must expect a substantial advance upon it.
I need not impress upon hon. Members the gravity of these figures or of the prospect which lies before us if no alleviation of the situation takes place. Hitherto we have endeavoured to avoid undue interference with trade, and I think that, on the whole, we may congratulate ourselves upon a very considerable measure of success. It is interesting to observe that while in 1935 our exports amounted in value to £426,000,000, in 1936 they had gone up to £441,000,000, and in 1937 to £522,000,000—nearly £100,000,000 more than in 1935. I trust we may be able to maintain that attitude, and that we may be able to pursue the course of our rearmament without undue acceleration, though we fully realise the burdens that must mean for the people of this country. Although we shall not cease our efforts for an amelioration of the position, we ought to make it known that our desire for peace does not signify a willingness to purchase peace to-day at the price of peace hereafter.
Nor can we abrogate our moral responsibilities to our own people or to humanity in general. We cannot divest ourselves of interest in world peace. 1564 Quarrels which begin in a limited area may be a deep concern to us if they prove to be the starting point of a general conflagration, and, therefore, while we have neither the desire nor the intention of embarking on meddlesome interference with other people's affairs, we shall from time to time think it is our duty to raise our voice on behalf of peaceful discussion and negotiation rather than the use of force, or the threat of force, and we shall have the more confidence in doing that because we are convinced that our aims command the sympathy of the most part of the world. In conclusion, let me repeat my earnest hope of the success of our efforts for European appeasement, to be followed in due course by disarmament. In the meantime we cannot afford any relaxation of our exertions, but if in the end we should fail to re-establish confidence and peace we shall not hesitate to revise our programmes or the rate of their acceleration, and we are confident that in doing so we shall have the support of the country whatever may be the sacrifices demanded of it.
Let me turn for a moment to a consideration of the Amendment put on the Paper by the party opposite. I could not help wondering when I read it whether it was really necessary to use 100 words to try to conceal a meaning which, after all, has not been concealed. We can paraphrase the Amendment in one or two short sentences. What it means is this. "We want to vote against Defence, but we do not think it prudent to go to the electors and say so. We will, therefore, tell them that we should be delighted to vote for the Estimates if only we could be convinced that the motives of the Government were pure and honourable like our own. Since, instead of coming out in favour of the side that we favour in Spain, they will persist in pursuing the detestable policy of neutrality, we are going to do the best we can to prevent the country from having any arms at all." I think I see also in this Amendment some evidence that it is to be used as part of a campaign of misrepresentation.
§ The Prime Minister
It proceeds on the assumption that the Government have changed their policy, and, in particular, have abandoned the League of Nations. I, on the contrary, claim that I am a 1565 better friend of the League than some of those who speak of it. The League to-day is mutilated; it is halt and maimed; and those who, like myself, do their best to build it up afresh to be a real world League—
§ The Prime Minister
—which could protect the weak and limit the powers of the strong, serve it better than those who would attempt to put on it in its present state tasks which are manifestly beyond its strength. What is, in fact, meant by this phrase that peace can be attained only through collective security under the League of Nations? We have never said that in no conceivable circumstances could collective security under the Covenant be provided, but I ask what small country in Europe to-day, if it be threatened by a larger one, can safely rely on the League alone to protect it against invasion? I challenge hon. Members opposite to answer that question. There can be only one honest answer to it, and that is "none," although a small nation may have powerful friends who will act as its guardians and protectors, and so preserve the peace. If that be so, why should we try to persuade small nations that they can rely on peace where there is no peace? Why should we mislead them by giving them an assurance of security when any such security can be only a delusion?
The ideals of the League are grand and magnificent, and I will never believe that they are not ultimately attainable. We shall not bring them nearer by pretending to ourselves that they are within our grasp, because it will require prolonged and sustained effort before that can be achieved. In all such efforts the Government will take their full share just because we believe in the possibility that the League may some day be the salvation of the world. Since we must recognise that that day is still far away, we shall do well to take thought for the perplexities of the hour, which will not wait.
A study of the White Paper, and perhaps much more, any observation of what is going on in the country to-day, will convince people of the enormous progress that we have made in the building up of our defensive forces. It has made a deep impression upon foreign nations. 1566 I remember that in 1935 the Leader of the Opposition said that our armaments programme was rattling us back to war. It has had exactly the opposite effect. The sight of this enormous, this almost terrifying, power which Britain is building up has a sobering effect, a steadying effect, on the opinion of the world. Everyone knows that these forces, great and powerful as they are, are not going to be used for aggression. We cannot regard the prospect before us with satisfaction or even with equanimity. We have glimpses revealed to us from time to time of vast expenditures going on into the dim spaces of the future. This is no time to sit idle while the boat drifts on to the cataract, and I desire to see our country strong, because I believe that in her strength lies the best hope of peace. Side by side with a process of building up her strength I will lose no opportunity of trying to remove the causes of strife or war. Neither past memories nor present misrepresentations will deter me from doing what I can to restore confidence and tranquillity of mind in Europe. This is no change of policy. These are the views I have expressed both in private and public at any time during the last three or four years. They were well known to all my colleagues when I became Prime Minister, and they have not changed since.
Because I do not share the views of the Opposition that one has to take sides with the party they favour in Spain, they charge me with having a bias towards dictators.
§ The Prime Minister
There is no foundation for the charge. But I have to deal with a world in which dictatorships exist. I have no interest in other forms of government, except in so far as they react on other countries. I have no bias in favour of Nazism, Fascism or Bolshevism, because all of them seem to me to be inconsistent with what is all-important to me, because it is the root of my political creed, and that is individual liberty. No sensible man will ask that liberty, even the liberty of the individual, should be completely unfettered. That would merely be to allow one individual to gratify his own selfishness at the expense of others. But subject to reasonable restrictions, I believe in liberty of thought, of speech, of action. Without that there 1567 can be no true democracy. I do not believe that a democracy need necessarily be less efficient than other systems of government. It may, indeed, sometimes lag behind in time in making its decisions, but, at any rate, democracy can do what no dictator can permit himself; democracy can afford to make mistakes. For the preservation of democracy, which means the preservation of our liberty, I myself would fight, and I believe that the people of this country would fight. I am convinced in the innermost core of my mind that the course we are pursuing in putting forward our present programme for Defence is the surest way of avoiding the grave necessity of fighting at all.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "House," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:believing that the safety of this country and the maintenance of peace can only be attained through collective security under the League of Nations and, being willing to provide the arms necessary to implement such a policy, condemns the provision of immense armaments to further a dangerous and unsound foreign policy undertaken by the Government in defiance of its election pledges, and, moreover, cannot approve a defence programme which fails to provide for effective co-ordination in strategy, administration, and supply, and permits private manufacturers to make huge profits out of the nation's needs.The Prime Minister in certain passages of his speech showed towards cur Amendment a certain temper, a certain petulance, and indeed I can understand his reason. I shall come later to those passages dealing with the pure problem of Defence. We are moving this Amendment because it gives us an opportunity which in fact we do not get in an ordinary general Debate, of dealing with foreign affairs. Practically every Debate dealing with foreign affairs is a Debate on the special topic or crisis of the times, but this Debate deals with the results of the expenditure which is the result of a policy pursued over the last six years. We have put forward our Amendment because we wish to examine the series of events beginning in 1931 which have led to the calamitous consequences of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke in his passages on Defence, and which terrify him about the future of the country; and at the same time this historical survey 1568 will enable us to judge by facts the professions which the right hon. Gentleman made about his faith in the League.
If we survey the last six years, there have been two major disasters which have led us to our present plight. The first was the handling of the Disarmament Conference of 1932, and the second—which leads me to the main topic of our Amendment—began with the series of events which began with the speech delivered on 11th September, 1935, by the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in which he made the League of Nations the centre of European diplomacy and called upon the country to rally to the Government in its support. The right hon. Gentleman has just said that our Amendment has been put down in order that we might have some phrases for the General Election. Let me then refer to some of the phrases which the National Government used at the last General Election about this very topic of the League of Nations. This is from the Government manifesto, on which the Election was fought:The League of Nations will remain, as heretofore, the keystone of British foreign policy. … We shall therefore continue to do all in our power to uphold the Covenant and to maintain and increase the efficiency of the League. … Our attitude to the League is dictated by the conviction that by collective security by collective action can alone save us from a return to the old system which resulted in the Great War.
§ Captain Harold Balfour
I also have a copy of the manifesto here. Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that in the words:National armaments should be measured both by the needs of national Defence and by the duty of fulfilling international obligationsthere is anything inconsistent with what we are doing now?
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
If I were arguing that national armaments should be reduced, the hon. and gallant Member's quotation would be to the point, but I am arguing that the Government gave pledges about the League, and the consequences of those pledges I propose to examine. The nation was invited to rally to the Government in support of the League of Nations. The nation did rally, and it was because in a great number of constituencies hundreds of thousands of people believed that in supporting the Government they were supporting the League of Nations, 1569 that a number of hon. Members on the benches opposite, who had small majorities, are sitting where they are to-day.
I believe that we won because the country was determined not to have a Socialist Government.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
Then I will read to her a passage from the speech delivered in the Debate of 19th December, 1935, by the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson) from those benches. The statement which I made and which the Noble Lady denies, is that a number of Members who were returned by small majorities, were returned because of their support of the League of Nations. This is what the hon. Member for West Leicester said:Some of us who had only been returned by a small majority felt a more personal despair. … Our small majority had been due, we knew, to the League of Nations policy which was pledged by the Government. I know myself that … if this White Paper"—that was the White Paper about Abyssinia—had been published … it would not be I who would be sitting in this House, but my Socialist opponent.These are the words to which I invite the Noble Lady's attention:I remember thinking in stress of conscience whether I should not resign my seat and return my mandate to those who had voted for me."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1935; col. 2077, Vol. 307.]I wish to follow up these events. That was the mandate upon which the Government were returned. The Prime Minister himself has told us, as we have always been told and as we admit, that if you accept the policy of the League of Nations and collective security you must face the fact that you are accepting certain risks and also certain commitments which you may some day have to make good. In our Amendment, we state that we are willing to accept the full responsibility which adherence to the League of Nations and collective security would involve. But 1570 I would put this to the right hon. Gentleman. When on behalf of His Majesty's Government the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made that famous speech at Geneva, he must have been as aware as we are of these facts regarding the League of Nations. He knew that there were risks involved and he knew the forces for and against the position which he was then taking.
What were those forces? Let me recapitulate them. He knew on the one hand that M. Laval was Prime Minister in France; he knew that Signor Mussolini was the head of the Italian Government. On the other hand, there were mighty forces on his side. The nation which was the aggressor, at which he was pointing his finger, was the weakest of all the great Powers. It was the aggressor in an indefensible—indeed I suppose one of the most execrable causes the world has ever seen—and had scarcely a sincere friend throughout the world. At the same time, the strategic position of this aggressor Power was almost a nightmare. They had an army locked up in Abyssinia, and, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) once said, dependent for its food and provisions upon a drainpipe. If that drainpipe were blocked, even if the port of Masowa had been denied them, if eventually war came, it is well-known now and was well-known then, that within a few weeks, without food, without provisions, the whole of the Fascist army would have been dead. Those were the forces on the other side. At that time we had the great test between the nerve of the dictator and the sincerity of the Government in its belief in the League of Nations.
What was the consequence? The consequence was that this episode ended with the British Government actually providing a portion of the oil for the machines which obliterated the Abyssinians. I do not believe that any hon. Member will honestly or seriously contradict me when I say that this episode has been, by far, the greatest humiliation in the story of British foreign policy since the loss of the American colonies. It is a humiliation of which, perhaps, the next chapter is beginning to be written this week or even to-day. For even if these negotiations proceed, what do they mean? They mean that we shall recognise the King of Italy as de facto Emperor of Abyssinia, in 1571 return for which Italy may withdraw some or all of her troops from Spain, where they have no more right to be than in Abyssinia.
The Prime Minister is very fond of throwing across the Floor of the House the accusation that we on this side use mere phrases. If we are to speak of phrases, has the right hon. Gentleman ever tried to measure some of the consequences of the phrases which were used about the League of Nations before the General Election and in the speech of the then Foreign Secretary? Remember that these phrases about the League of Nations and the phrases in the Foreign Secretary's speech were not only read by the electors of Leicester. They were read and marked in Abyssinia, and I believe I could make out the case that had it not been for the expectations which that speech and the attitude of the British Government held out, Abyssinia might have made terms with Italy which would have left them the Amharic bloc in the heart of their country and there would have been a native Emperor of Abyssinia still. How dare the Prime Minister, then, accuse us of mere phrase-making, when it has been these empty, meaningless, treacherous phrases from his own Government which have lured a small nation to their doom?
Now I come to the second part of the Amendment. I propose to deal with some of those problems of strategy to which the Prime Minister addressed himself in the earlier part of his speech—although he will find that from the point of view of strategy alone, you get back to the League of Nations very soon. Of course, this White Paper is a mere munitions report. It deals, so to speak, with the question of how much money can buy. It does not, as did the first White Paper, deal with the principles of Defence and the problems of military doctrine to which the Prime Minister addressed himself this afternoon. I would like to say something too about the problems of military doctrine. It is becoming more and more clear that if there is another war and if it lasts for more than a short time, the economic factor will, in the long run, be the determining factor. The immense exhaustion of iron, rubber, petrol, vegetable fats, non-ferrous metals and other raw materials, which a war of a modern 1572 type requires, was unimaginable even in the last War. It is becoming clear that no nation could, for more than a short time, conduct a war on such a scale unless it was able, so to speak, to draw the resources of the whole world to its assistance. I notice that General Ironside said the other day that the nation likely to win would be the nation that could get more of everything from everywhere.
That brings me to the attitude of the Prime Minister towards some of these questions. He is, I can see, very apprehensive that we may in fact be drawn into a war in the Mediterranean, where vital British interests would be at stake, but rather for the time being he says that, for practical purposes, you must leave the League of Nations out of your reckoning. The Prime Minister, I think, prides himself on being a realist, but the people in the United States of America, whence we should have to draw our resources, have a very large element of idealism in their nature, and that idealism is not something to which the Prime Minister is making the slightest appeal. In the last few days I have noticed, since he has expressed his opinions, that there has been a good deal of cheapness and smartness at the expense of the League of Nations, a cheapness and smartness for which we may well pay a heavy price. Let us not make the mistake of ignoring in our days of extremity the possible assistance to us of the moral forces of the world, of which the League of Nations is the only expression left alive to-day. Let us not make the mistake that the German General Staff made during the war: "Let us have an unlimited 'U'-boat campaign." "Oh, but think of the conscience of the world," they were told, "think of American feeling." "What are they? They cannot be measured, therefore they do not count."
We have here a Defence Paper on armaments, but as a matter of fact armaments do not consist simply of steel and stuff that you can bury in a pit. Armaments consist of good feeling, of the cooperation of other nations, and of the unity of the nation at home. The Government are committed, and we know that the Government would go to war, on behalf of British interests in the Mediterranean and elswhere, but I would warn them that British interests—and this is what is behind our minds—are part of the system of the world, and only as part 1573 of that system can they be defended; and the Government will find that if they flout the League of Nations, they will not secure—we cannot guarantee them that they will secure—a united nation to fight a war merely on behalf of British Imperial interests of the old-fashioned type. The right hon. Gentleman will find that the people of this country will respond to a call, but they will not respond to the kind of speeches that he has been making in the last week.
Now I wish to turn for a short time to some of the more technical aspects of the Paper, to turn indeed to the second part of our Amendment, which recognises that, although this is a debate which must cover the foreign policy of the last few years, it is also a debate on defence. I would, therefore, now specially address myself to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, and put to him a series of questions, but in order to give them their framework I would make some preliminary observations. The dictator nations are building up a system of self-sufficiency, and it appears to me that self-sufficiency means that they are gambling on a very short war. It is impossible for any nation nowadays from within its own borders, from the principle of self-sufficiency, to provide the enormous equipment and munitions which war would require and at the same time to keep some millions of men under arms for war purposes. The dictator nations, by their doctrine of self-sufficiency, are doing that. They are cutting themselves off from the foreign trade, from the foreign contacts, from the foreign credits which would enable them to draw on other nations in time of war, and I am bound to say that, if I were a thoughtful German citizen, I would look with the greatest anxiety at this system of self-sufficiency by which, as it appears to me, unless the war is a short one, the dictators of Germany are boastfully leading themselves to disaster as a result of a false military doctrine—self-sufficiency, which is the nemesis of a nation where nobody is allowed to criticise, discuss, or think anything out for himself.
It means that if the dictators find themselves involved in a war, they are, from this very circumstance, bound to gamble on a short war, and indeed I believe it is the speeches of Field-Marshal Goering which have led to this talk of the six-weeks war which has been so frequently 1574 referred to in the discussions in this House. This is the conclusion to which this brings us: The peril of this country would be a knock-out blow at an early stage, because if we got through an early stage, then all the long-distance forces would be on our side. For that reason I have for some time said that I think it has been a profound mistake on the part of the Air Ministry that for years they have accepted, and indeed preached to the country, the doctrine that there is no proper defence against blows by a bombing air force, and that the only defence is to deliver corresponding blows at the enemy population. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence shakes his head. That doctrine, I think, was expressed when the last Prime Minister, no doubt acting with the authority of the Air Ministry, laid down the maxim that the bomber would always get through. This is the quotation:Up to now, however, the only deterrent to an armed aggressor has seemed to be the possession of adequate means of counterattack.I think it is a wrong doctrine. Of course, the bomber may get through, but the whole position is this, that bombing squadrons may get through at such losses that they become suicide clubs, and they cease to count. That is what happened in the last six months of the War, when not a single machine appeared over London.
§ Mr. Churchill indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Churchill
The reason was that the progress of the British Armies and of the Allies generally was such that the Germans no longer wished to make attacks upon London.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman may say that, but there have been published reports of high officers, sent to the German General Staff, in which they say that one of the reasons was that they found that bombing attacks over London were too dangerous and that it was not worth while to incur the loss of life. As the right hon. Gentleman made that interruption, I would remind him that in the great attack by 30 bombers over London about six months before the end of the War, no fewer than 10 were destroyed before they got back, and these reports to the German General Staff, 1575 which are in our archives now, give that as the reason why the attacks ceased. In any case this doctrine has been completely falsified by events in Spain and even in China, and by our own Air exercises last year, from which it was made clear that with a virile population and with only fairly elementary anti-aircraft defence the bomber does not achieve anything approaching the results which were feared three or four years ago.
This leads me to two or three questions that I would put to the right hon. Gentleman, all in connection with the possibility of an early defeat by air attack. The Committee over which he has presided came to the conclusion that the battleship could be protected against air attack. I would ask him whether he can give the same assurance with regard to cruisers, and particularly with regard to merchant ships which are proceeding under Naval convoy. The next point is this: I understand that it is now very widely thought that the greatest danger to our supplies from abroad would not be while they were on the sea at all, but when they were actually in dock in this country. I would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can say what provision has been made for re-routeing our merchant fleets to the ports on our Western shores, how far those ports have been adapted to receive this merchandise, and how far the road and railway systems of the country have been correspondingly adapted for its distribution.
Finally, there is one subject in regard to anti-aircraft defence on which there is now an opportunity, for, I think, the first time, for the House to be given fairly full information. I myself said two years ago—and I remember that the hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Sir H. Seely) said the same thing—that I believed that the final reply to the bombing aeroplane would probably be found in a balloon barrage. When I spoke there was only £4,000 in the Estimates for a balloon barrage; last year there was £750,000; and this year it is indefinite. My views on this subject have been immensely reinforced by an address given to the Royal United Services Institution a short time ago by Air Commodore Hearson, in charge of the balloon barrage. The position now is that the modern balloon barrage will consist of balloons with wires hanging to the earth. Balloons with 1576 wires would be stationed 100 yards apart, and those wires would be lethal, so that any machine which struck them would be brought down. If they are 100 yards apart and the span of an aeroplane is about 25 yards, an aeroplane passing through and coming back will have one chance in two of being hit and of coming down. They look forward to the time, I understand, when the barrage can go up 25,000 feet, and as that is the greatest height at which a bomber can carry a serviceable load of bombs, it opens up a new vista on this subject.
There is one aspect of the barrage which was not referred to in this address but which has impressed me. It must be extraordinarily inexpensive. Wire, hydrogen and cotton are cheap, and if Air Commodore Hearson is right in saying that 600 balloon barrages can protect London at 100 yards apart, they can be provided at less than the cost of a cruiser. It is, moreover, a passive method of Defence which involves practically no risk to our own lives. Therefore, I come back to my belief that, if this system is perfected, the balloon barrage will probably become the main system of Defence in anti-aircraft equipment, and that searchlights, sound detectors and fighters will be auxiliary to it.
Some surprise has been expressed that we have taken this opportunity of putting down an Amendment dealing partly with foreign affairs. Our reason is that we regard armaments as an expression of foreign policy, and these armaments, this bill, is an expression of the foreign policy of the National Government for the last six years. The Prime Minister and other speakers are very fond of asking us to judge the National Government by results. We do judge them by results. The right hon. Gentleman issued a challenge to us. This Amendment is a challenge to him and calls attention to the results of the administration of foreign affairs during the National Government's period of office. The results are that after six years of National Government we are faced with the most crushing expenditure upon armaments that has ever confronted us in time of peace, and that, in spite of that, we are nearer to the edge of a European war than we were ever before the National Government took shape.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
Even those of us who most dislike the Prime Minister's 1577 policy must admit that he is not stinting himself in the service of the country and of the House, and that we were fortunate in the speech with which he opened the Debate. It is not an easy Debate in which to take part. We do not want to use up time in discussing points of detail, or even important questions of principle, which can better be discussed on the Estimates for the Departments concerned; and I shall endeavour to make as brief as possible my reference to those large questions of policy which must underlie our discussion to-day and which we shall have other opportunities of discussing, namely, finance and foreign affairs. It is, in the main, the question of the effective co-ordination of our Defence Services and the need for a combined Imperial and National Defence policy, to which not only the fighting Services, but also the civilian Departments concerned, will contribute, that is the appropriate subject of discussion to-day.
The Prime Minister has told us to-day that co-ordination always did exist but that it has been strengthened and improved. To that extent he admits that the strong pressure which this House had to exercise before a Minister for the Coordination of Defence was appointed has, indeed, been justified by results. He then went on to reintroduce us to our old friends, whom we always meet on these occasions, namely, the Committee of Imperial Defence, the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Joint Planning Committee, and to assure us that as a result of their labours the need for co-ordination was being effectively met. I think we want more. I believe that the majority of the House want more. We want initiation and direction by a responsible Minister with an adequate staff. Careful study of the Defence White Paper leaves me with the impression that we have not succeeded in getting rid of the vices of the old system of Imperial Defence in watertight compartments. It still seems that the most powerful Department gets the most money, while a vital need like that of food storage, represented by a humble civilian Department, is overlooked. Too much trust seems to be put in quantity. There is too little evidence that we are still leading in quality and technique.
Take the Navy for example. In all the most important categories of ships our 1578 numerical lead over every other country is substantial. Indeed, I would go further. I may assume that if we are faced by a combination of enemies, we shall not be found altogether friendless—although I admit that that is perhaps an unsafe assumption to make in view of some of the speeches we have listened to recently from leading members of the Government—if, however, I may make that assumption, I would say that our numerical lead in every category of ships over any reasonably possible combination of enemies is enormous and increasing. Yet in some important categories of ships, our latest ships, notably in the Mediterranean, are in some cases not so fast and, in the case of battleships, not so heavily gunned, as the newer ships of other countries. Yet, if we are to make this colossal effort in rearmament we need to be assured that our lead over other countries in naval strength will be assured not only in quantity but in quality and design.
Again, while we seem not only to be maintaining but even increasing our margin of naval strength, at least numerically, over that of our competitors, and while we can check that calculation by the Fleet's return, it is less clear—and after the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon it is much less clear—that we are making equal progress if, indeed, any progress, in reducing the adverse margin between ourselves and our competitors in the air. I hope that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence will be able to elaborate the somewhat vague and, I must say, rather alarming references which the Prime Minister made to the subject of our relative strength in the air. It is some years now since Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, announced as the Government's policy the attainment of a standard of air parity with any force within striking distance of these shores. I gave my reasons at the time for doubting the value of that standard. Nevertheless, the Government have chosen it and we have to consider what progress they are making towards their own chosen standard.
The Prime Minister, in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour), asked us to be precise as to what the undertaking of Mr. Baldwin was. It was not, he said, first line strength, but it was that we should be equal to the strongest power within 1579 striking distance of these shores in air power and strength. He then quoted a large number of criteria which we should have to take into account. They included the war potential of personnel and material and the moral of the respective forces. I must say that the latter would be a very difficult factor to evaluate. Then the anti-aircraft defences of the two countries, training and racial characteristics are other criteria we have to seek to evaluate. I am afraid that the long passage in his speech which the Prime Minister devoted to this subject really meant that the Government had abandoned the criterion which Mr. Baldwin chose. I would like to know what other criteria they have and whether they can give us any estimate, taking into account the factors which the Prime Minister mentioned, of our air strength relative to those of other Powers within striking distance of our shores.
I would ask the Minister for the Coordination of Defence whether he could give us any assurance that we are making relative progress, that we are gaining in strength in relation to, for example, the Air Force of Germany. Both the White Paper on Defence and the Memorandum which accompanies the Air Ministry Estimates are silent on the subject. Unless we can get more information on that point and some clear evidence that the respective contributions of the fighting services to our total defensive strength at sea, in the air and on land, have been freshly assessed, we cannot help entertaining some doubts whether our effort at rearmament in the air is not less than its due proportion in relation to our effort at sea.
It is apparent from the White Paper that the efforts of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence have borne fruit in some directions, for example in cooperation between the Air Ministry and the War Office in active defence against air attack on this country, but there is no evidence that the strategic plans of the three Services have been integrally combined for the purpose of Defence against the principal dangers by which we are threatened. The Prime Minister gave us four objectives in our defensive policy. First, we have to protect our own country; then to protect our trade routes; thirdly, to protect our overseas possessions; and, fourthly, to co-operate in protecting 1580 the territory of our allies. He went on to say that the White Paper presented an impressive picture of our armed power and economic strength; but I am afraid that a good many of us think that the picture is not clear enough, and gives no indication how that armed power and economic strength are to be organised to meet the dangers by which we are confronted. After all, those dangers are new. No longer is our principal danger that of invasion by hostile armies, or an attack upon our naval supremacy by European naval Powers with strong battle fleets. Our principal danger is from the air, and attacks by submarines, and perhaps other small craft, upon our shipping, docks and harbours, upon our sources of supply and our centres of distribution, upon our communications and upon our munitions factories.
Now it is clear that the Air Ministry and the War Office are co-operating in measures to meet attack from the air upon land objectives, but no mention is made of naval co-operation. Yet now more than ever, since the Navy has obtained complete control of its air force, is a combined plan of defence essential, embracing the Fleet Air Arm as well as the Home Defence Air Squadrons and the Territorial Army. From figures given in answer to a question in Parliament last November it would appear that the strength of our Fleet Air Arm is almost double that of France, and about three times that of the combined fleet air arms of Germany and Italy. Surely it is indispensable that the use of this great weapon to protect, as it must in part be intended to do, though of course not wholly, our dockyards and our shipping in the narrow seas, should be combined with the use of our other defensive measures against air attack.
Then, it is not clear from the White Paper or from the Memorandum accompanying the Air Ministry Estimates how many squadrons of the Home Air Defence Force we can rely upon for home defence. One squadron has already been sent abroad. Where is it? When will it return? Are other squadrons liable to be ordered abroad? I see that included among the 123 Home Defence Squadrons are 10 Army Co-operation Squadrons. Will they always be available for home defence, or are they liable to be ordered abroad? Nor must we neglect measures 1581 of passive defence against air attack. When I was discussing this question of passive defence with an hon. Friend of mine on the opposite side of the House he said, raising his arms above his head, that that was not a military gesture. I am afraid that is the gesture we may have to make if we have not made effective preparations for passive defence, but if we have got an effective system of passive defence it would be as much a military gesture as a man with a rifle and bayonet taking a firm stance to resist a charge.
The more effective our measures of passive and, therefore, non-provocative defence, as well as of active defence, against air attack, the less tempting, as the hon. Member who preceded me pointed out, will this country be as a target to enemy aeroplanes, and the more likely that enemy would be to spare our civilian population the horrors of air bombardment and to concentrate on military objectives, and the freer our own ships of war and our other military striking forces would be to attack hostile objectives. In July a whole day was devoted to a discussion on passive defence, and I think it was a very fruitful Debate. The result of it was that we did have the Air-Raid Precautions Bill as the first Measure of the present Session. Public opinion was informed on the vital aspects of this problem, and the discussion undoubtedly influenced the deliberations and the actions both of the local authorities and the central Government. A certain amount of progress has been made, but there is not sufficient indication in the White Paper that the urgency of still greater progress is realised.
There are only two points I would raise in connection with passive defence. On a previous occasion I have drawn attention to the importance of transport, and to the immense dislocation which would be caused in the event of war if no plans had been made for the efficient use of available motor lorries and other motor vehicles, according to the service which each type of lorry is best adapted to perform. I have drawn the attention of the Minister to the fact that there is in this country a national body called the Road Operators' Association, with branches in every district. I am informed that from time to time the Government have approached individual road hauliers and 1582 asked them for information about the type and size of their lorries, and that, of course, has been supplied, but that the offers of active assistance by this great organisation, with its branches in every area of the country, have never been accepted. I would suggest that this method of making plans for the proper use of the available road transport should be adopted, and that no time should be lost in taking a careful census of vehicles according to size and type, making sure that each will be given the job for which it is best fitted in time of emergency.
The other question connected with passive defence to which I wish to refer is food storage. That was the subject of a recent Debate, and my own belief at the time was that the Minister, although unable to give the House the assurances which we required, had been impressed by the case which had been made out both by the two hon. Members above the Gangway who moved and seconded the Motion, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter). The Minister showed that in many ways, in particular by a curious interruption which he made in the speech which I delivered after he had spoken. I had said that his speech seemed to me unsatisfactory in two respects, in the first place that the system of food storage which he contemplated was not conceived on a sufficiently large scale, and, secondly, that he did not seem to realise the importance of dispersal. To that he replied:The right hon. Gentleman must not say that. I specially referred to the value of the dispersal of stocks as contrasted with concentration in areas, none of which were very easy to describe as safe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1938; col. 1140, Vol. 331."]As a matter of fact he did not really say that at all. What he said was:However you may organise your storage you must in the nature of things largely concentrate it in few main centres."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1938; col. 1126, Vol. 331.]He went on to say that home production has a great advantage, the advantage of dispersal. He was dealing with home production when he referred to the advantage of dispersal. It was in dealing with food storage that he suggested that they had been thinking of storing in the main centres, instead of, as the hon. Member for Oxford University had suggested, dispersed storage throughout the 1583 country. Nevertheless, we were somewhat comforted by the speech, and even by that interruption, because it seemed to show that his mind was working in our direction. But if we were right, his interest in the subject is represented by nothing more than a very perfunctory reference to it in the White Paper on Defence. I believe that these problems, the solution of which is essential to a sound system of passive defence—including food storage, transport, and I may add the location of industry, which has been shelved by referring it to a Royal Commission, and many others—demand the concentrated attention and study of the Minister, assisted by an economic general staff which will enable him, on behalf of the Government, to undertake prompt action.
The House has frequently expressed the opinion that our defence plans ought to be made by a central authority possessing powers not only of co-ordination but of initiation, and that the Minister at the head of that organisation should have an independent staff composed of some of the ablest men, drawn not only from the fighting services but also from the civilian Departments mainly concerned. We have not got that now; yet in no other way can waste and overlapping be prevented and can the country obtain the maximum amount of defensive power from the immense effort and financial sacrifice which it is making.
Another point on which the White Paper is silent is the role of the Army in the Government's plan. In a White Paper in 1936 the Government said that it was so essential to mitigate the strain which has now been thrown upon the infantry in our Army for garrison duty that four new battalions should be raised. That statement was repeated in the White Paper of last year. Now we are told that only two new battalions have been raised, and that it is not meanwhile proposed to proceed with the other two. It would be interesting to know the reason for the delay in raising those other two battalions. I do not criticise the decision, but am only asking for the explanation. That by the way, for now I want to ask the Minister for the Coordination of Defence what role is assigned to the Army. We know that the Army has to provide the garrisons for our naval bases and overseas territories, that it is responsible for home defence, and that 1584 it may have to furnish a small expeditionary force for some centre of disturbance like Shanghai was in 1927, or some limited operation based upon our sea power and in co-operation with the Navy; but I hope the Government have abandoned the idea of waging warfare on land on the Continental scale, as in the last War. In any case we ought to know what the Government's plans are, and for what role the Army is being designed.
I believe that Britain's contribution to the defence of the rule of law against aggression should be confined to those elements in which the main effort of rearmament is imposed upon her by natural conditions, that is to say, the sea and the air. If we try to carry too heavy a burden we shall sink under the financial strain, already immense and unparalleled in peace time. If we try to exert our power in the air, at sea and on land we shall end by being strong in none of those elements. Our main contribution in a world war would have to be at sea, in the air and in the munition factories; and if we are prepared to send an expeditionary force to the Continent it should be sent not by the War Office but by the Air Ministry, and it should never go except in discharge of our obligations under the Covenant and at the request of the Council of the League of Nations; and, on the Locarno principle, it should be available to co-operate with other States-Members of the League in defence of whatever country was the victim of aggression.
The final paragraphs of the White Paper, perhaps the most ominous paragraphs, are those which disclose the full nature of the burden which this programme is throwing upon our finances. The anxiety with which we read those paragraphs must have been deepened by the speech of the Prime Minister, in which he made it clear that the total burden would be substantially more than the £1,500,000,000 which was originally contemplated.
There are only two ways in which that burden can be minimised, apart from the pursuit of a wise foreign policy. The first is the effective co-ordination of all Departments, military and civil, concerned in Defence, and the second is rigid economy in carrying out our Defence plans. I have dealt with the first way. On the second, there is a growing disquiet 1585 about the wastefulness and the extravagance with which some of this expenditure is attended. It is difficult to obtain accurate and precise information. We are advised that particular firms might be struck off the list of Government contractors if it were known that they had given information. When we first discussed the financial position of rearmament we were told that the Government were quite satisfied with the strictness of their financial control, but the Royal Commission on the Manufacture of Armaments, which the Government had themselves appointed, reported that the control was weak and inadequate. Nevertheless, the Government rejected the recommendations of the Commission.
Then some doubt seemed to have crept into their minds, and they co-operated with the Federation of British Industries in the appointment of a small liaison committee, to facilitate co-operation between industry and the Government in rearmament and to prevent—as the communiqué which announced the appointment of the committee said—extravagant profits from being piled up. The appointment of that committee with those terms of reference was an admission that Treasury methods of financial control over the rearmament programme were not sufficient by themselves to prevent extravagant profits from being piled up. The country will not be satisfied with the safeguard provided by the Federation of British Industries, and we press the Government again to accept the report of the Royal Commission and thus to prevent avoidable waste and extravagance in the carrying out of the rearmament programme.
Meanwhile, the most tragic aspect of this great effort is that by itself alone it can never give us security and peace. Indeed, as the Government move away from the League and as the Prime Minister expresses his disbelief in collective security and calls on other nations to abandon their belief in it too—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—those nations tend to turn away from us. What does it profit us if we gain a battleship or a few squadrons of aeroplanes and tax our financial and economic strength to do it if the Army and the whole resources of even a small State are turned over in the balance sheet of world power from one side to the other? Collective security does not now exist, and none of us would 1586 assert that it does. But it could be created—[HON. MEMBERS: "How?"]—as it nearly was by the present Home Secretary when he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and gave that great lead to the League of Nations in September, 1935. The Prime Minister comes before the House to-day and tells us that Prime Minister Codlin is a better friend to the League than the Labour party Short, but meanwhile he is showing his lack of faith not merely by denying the present existence of collective security—I shall not quarrel with him about that—but by declaring, in his last speech on foreign affairs, that he no longer believed in the possibility of creating it.
He is spreading discouragement and disillusionment among the smaller Powers of the world, who are lying between the dictator Powers on the one hand and the League Powers on the other like filings between two powerful magnets. Through one magnet, that of the dictatorships, is passing a great current of energy and will. Yet the military resources of the League Powers are greater than those of the dictatorship Powers. Their economic resources are infinitely greater, even if we leave out of account the friendly democracies in the Western Hemisphere. The cause of the League Powers is greater, for they seek to base international relationships not on the shifting sands of international interests and power politics but on the moral law. What they lack is faith, energy, will and leadership in their Governments. When the record of His Majesty's Government comes up for judgment their epitaph may well be written: "Oh, ye of little faith."
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Captain Balfour
The speech of the Prime Minister was one of the most important that we have heard in this Parliament. It raised a question which I asked him the other day and which, like so many other questions put at question time, remained unanswered. The Minister of Agriculture recently said that foreign affairs would be all right without any foreigners; I think equally that question time would be all right if there were no back benchers to ask questions and no questions were asked. I know that it was an embarrassing question because it went to the root of a matter which is worrying all the citizens of this country. I am glad that the Prime 1587 Minister has dealt with it. As I understand his answer it is that I was referring in my question to the pledge given by Lord Baldwin that we were to have an Air Force of such a size as to be at parity with any air force within striking distance of our shores. The Prime Minister threw over that definition, and I am rather glad he did so because it was poor and vague and dealt in vague phraseology with a vitally important matter.
The phrase "striking distance of our shores" does not bear analysis. Not one right hon. Gentleman responsible for Service Departments, or the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, or any other Member of this House, could say what the really effective striking distance of an Air Force is to-day. It depends upon so many variable factors such as operational conditions, weather conditions, type of aircraft and others. You cannot define "striking distance." So far as that part of Lord Baldwin's statement is concerned, it is nebulous and should be abandoned now, if we are to get closer to reality. We were told by Lord Baldwin that we were to have a first line Air Force equal in strength, but first line strength, as the Prime Minister pointed out, is an extraordinarily difficult thing to define. Our first line strength may be taken upon a conservative basis, not allowing for reserve machines and mobilisation of stores, but some other country may calculate its first-line strength upon an entirely different basis, mobilising for political purposes great numbers of aircraft many of which would be of no use in war. From the point of view of definition, the statement about first line strength is also not very good, and it is just as well that we should again face reality by throwing this second part, which has no useful purpose because it is too vague.
Then the Prime Minister went on to give us a wider definition of air power. He gave us a catalogue of quantities and qualities which, in his opinion, went towards making the national strength in air power. He touched upon the moral of personnel, the ability of industry to fulfil our needs and the amount of skilled labour available. I agree that all those factors are very important in assessing the air power of a country, but they are almost impossible to define at the present time. If we confine ourselves to the wider definition of air power, while we can 1588 accept it entirely from a Government which we trust, there is the danger for this country in the future of our having a Government who may wish to make the most in Parliament of their efforts while doing the minimum in actuality. They might be able to say that our potential industry is so strong that the actuality of our strength does not matter. There is the necessity, therefore, of having a rather closer yardstick than the Prime Minister gave us this afternoon.
We come to this, that on the one hand we throw over something which is useless, as being too vague and inaccurate, the pledge of parity in first line strength with any air force within striking distance of our shores, and, on the other hand, we have the rather unsatisfactory position that we have no accurate definition to which we can tie the Government of the day as to what is our air strength. I suggest that we should try to devise a new and better yardstick. In spite of what the Prime Minister says are the factors which lie behind the aircraft and the Air Forces of the world and go to make up air power, the final deciding factor is how many aeroplanes you can put into and maintain in the air with efficient pilots, the aircraft being efficient and modern.
Can we not have a new measure, and call it "squadron strength"? No one will put into a squadron aircraft which are entirely useless for active purposes, although in times of replacement some squadrons might be equipped with partially obsolete aircraft, while other squadrons might have the most modem types of aircraft. Any definition has some form of weakness about it, but I suggest that "squadron strength" would probably fulfil the needs of the House and the country by enabling information to be given of the strength of our aircraft and of our Air Force at any one time. The Prime Minister said that we were using all our resources to the full. That was a measure of comfort, but I still believe that we should like something a little more closely defined than that all the industrial resources of the country are being adequately used.
Any Member who studies the Air Force expansion programme, by and large and generally speaking, finds it satisfactory. There are inefficiencies, and it is, as 1589 always, possible to cite particular instances and then to draw general conclusions, but there is not a single programme of industrial expansion, whether of Air Forces or for civil purposes, in which inefficiency could not be found if you looked for it. I expect that my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) would agree that in his day in the Ministry of Munitions—and we all pay a great tribute to his work—there were inefficiencies in his Department. Nobody would have based general conclusions as to the efficiency of that Department upon specific instances to the contrary which were brought up in this House or anywhere else. The other day—I cite this as a specific instance of inefficiency—some friends of mine went to a shadow factory in the Midlands which is in use for building air frames. I am not in the least afraid of exposing any inefficiencies, but I do not think that any aeroplanes will come out of that factory for months yet. It was full of motor cars stored in it. A lot of men were standing about and I believe they were drawing full pay. A large conveyor was going round and round the factory, conveying nothing, but in a few months that factory will be turning out aircraft. I cite this instance in order that we shall not ride off in this Debate by saying that this or that is wrong and then drawing a general conclusion.
I believe that the general conclusion we can draw to-day is that the aircraft industry, the Royal Air Force and the expansion programme are, in spite of isolated instances here and there, broadly speaking, satisfactory. I would like to pay a personal tribute in this House, of which there will probably be some echo in the minds of other hon. Members, as to the driving force and the administrative ability of the Secretary of State for Air, who has piloted this expansion programme through during the past two years.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence have said in the past, and I think we all fully agree with them, that we have been able to develop our rearmament programme with one advantage that other European countries have not got. We have not had to interfere with trade and industry; we have not mobilised labour; we have not been governed, as it were, by decree; our trade and industry have been able to pursue their normal lines, and, therefore, 1590 have been able to produce the wherewithal to pay for the expansion of the rearmament programme. But that very advantage is at the same time a disadvantage. To-day our aircraft industry is full to capacity, whereas, although the aircraft factories in certain other countries on the Continent of Europe are full, they are only working single shifts, while our aircraft industry to-day is working night shifts, and sometimes on Sundays.
It seems to me, therefore, that it is going to be difficult to superimpose a further expansion programme upon this industry and to compete in the race in production of aircraft with other countries which to-day are turning out as much as we are, having, as it were, mobilised their industries under Government, and are not even having to work overtime. I believe that we shall soon have to superimpose an additional programme on our existing Air Force programme, and I think that, with the help of the shadow factories when they come into production, it can be done; but I would appeal to the Government not to let the curve of demand on the aircraft industry go down at any time, because, if once it is allowed to go down, we may not be able to get it up again in order to cope in time with the additional programme which will have to be placed upon it in the not distant future.
That is all I wish to say about the situation as regards aircraft production in this country. I would repeat, and I hope the Prime Minister will agree, that, while we accept fully everything that has been said, and while we are glad to know that the resources of the country are in full use, nevertheless we would like to have a somewhat closer definition than the mere statement that the resources of the country are in full production; and I personally would like to have a definition of squadron strength—if the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence can give some better definition, well and good—in order that this House may always be able to call the executive to book.
I turn now to the Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith). I should like, if I may, to congratulate him on his wonderful achievement of skill in obscurity and of saying the minimum with a maximum number of words in the Amendment. The Prime Minister counted up 100 words. It 1591 may have contained 100 words, but it said hardly anything, and I do not think it will bear analysis. Let us look at it for a few moments line by line. The first sentence is:Believing that the safety of this country and the maintenance of peace can only be attained through collective security under the League of Nations.I read these words in conjunction with the words that the right hon. Gentleman himself used when he said that British interests are part of a world system and cannot be defended alone. Then we can look at the Labour policy in "Socialism and Peace," and we see that they say they must refuse to accept the Government's unsupported claim to use force in self-defence, and insist on submitting this claim to the test of international judgment. If that is analysed, it means that, if attacked, we have to report to Geneva and ask leave to use our own defence forces for the defence of our own shores. If it does not mean that, will the Opposition tell us why on earth they put these words in their policy? I think we are entitled to an answer to that question. The right hon. Gentleman talked about vague phrases. That is indeed a sample of vague phraseology, and I think the House is entitled to ask for a closer definition. The next line of the Amendment is:being willing to provide the arms necessary to implement such a policy.What arms are necessary for this wonderful policy, which is undefined? We come back to the questions which have been asked in this House but have never yet been answered: What arms would the Labour party provide for their policy? Do our arms in this programme exceed the needs of the Labour party, or do they not? If they do, are we asking for too many aeroplanes; are we asking for too many battleships; is our Army too big? I think we are entitled to know. Otherwise, it is again just a case of that vague phraseology of which they try to accuse us. It is not unfair to ask those who condemn the Government and put forward an alternative of their own to define their alternative rather more closely.
Take the question of air power. Do the Labour party, under this policy of collective security on which our country is to depend for its security, take our first-line strength, whatever it may be, 1592 and then take the Czechoslovakian air force, the Soviet air force, and the French air force; and then do they make a calculation of the total first-line strength within the League, and compare it with the strength of the air forces of the world outside the League? They must make some sort of calculation, unless they are just talking in vague phrases and have not at all made up their minds as to what arms are needed. If they have not made up their minds as to what arms are needed, why put these words into the Amendment? The Amendment goes on:to further a dangerous and unsound foreign policy.What does that mean? Does it mean that we have an aggressive policy, and, if so, against whom is aggression proposed by us? Where does the danger lie? I think we are entitled to ask that question. Does it mean that the Labour party think it wrong for us to negotiate with countries outside the League which have political views and forms of political government alien to those with which we agree? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) nods his head. He considers that we should not undertake political negotiations with any countries which have a form of government alien to ours—
§ Captain Balfour
Unless they appear in a white sheet first. I have looked up the Debates of 1922, at the time when the Labour party were accusing the Tories of allowing their political prejudices to interfere with the recognition of Soviet Russia, when they were saying that the form of government in Russia was nothing to do with us, and that Conservatives should not object to the recognition of Russia because Russia happened to have a form of government which we did not like. Surely we to-day can say the same to them as they said then to us—that it is not for us to judge what forms of government other countries have, and that, if we are to narrow down our foreign policy to dealing only with those with whom we have some political affinity, then indeed our foreign policy is going to be one of isolation in the extreme. The Amendment goes on to speak of adangerous and unsound foreign policy undertaken by the Government in defiance of its election pledges.1593 Did those who drafted this Amendment, did the right hon. Gentleman who moved it, read all of the National Government's Manifesto which was issued at the General Election, or did they read just the little bits which suited them? Perhaps he had had not the time to read the whole document, but I would like to read it to him for a moment. It says:The Covenant itself requires that national armaments should be measured both by the needs of national defence and by the duty of fulfilling international obligations.That is what we said at the General Election. What is there in it that is inconsistent with what the Prime Minister has said? He reiterated the pledges that have been given with regard to our international obligations, defined at Bradford and Leamington, which we are willing to fulfil. What is there in what we are doing that is inconsistent with the statement thatnational armaments should be measured by the needs of national defence.Is not that just what we are doing? I hope that when the Leader of the Opposition speak to-night he will tell us exactly where we have broken the pledges set out in this National Government Manifesto. The Manifesto went on to say:The fact is that the actual condition of our defence forces is not satisfactory. We have made it clear that we must in the course of the next few years do what is necessary to repair the gaps in our defences which have accumulated over the past decade, and we shall in due course present to Parliament our proposals, which will include provisions to ensure that the programme is carried out.Are the proposals of the Government today breaking that pledge? I submit to the House that they are not. They are entirely consistent with the pledge that was given at the last General Election in the National Government Manifesto. The fact that we have to present larger proposals because of world causes which are outside our control does not mean that we are in any way breaking that pledge. Finally, this wonderful Amendment speaks ofa defence programme which fails to provide for effective co-ordination in strategy, administration and supply, and permits private manufacturers to make huge profits out of the nation's needs.Actually, the profit control which at present prevails in the armaments industry is generally so effective that many firms are not getting any money out of the Government at all, but are actually financing the Government's programme 1594 themselves, and there is the danger that the investigations into accounts may actually cause delays in delivery. I believe it is only because of the private manufacture of arms that we can finance the cost of this programme. Do the Opposition mean in their Amendment that this programme should be carried out by a nationalised armaments industry? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] Then hon. Members must also agree that, when the rearmament programme started, there were no possible facilities for the production of armaments except those in private hands, and apparently the Opposition would now say that we should have nationalised the armaments industry at the beginning of this programme.
Unfortunately, however, you cannot nationalise motor car factories three-quarters of whose production consists of cars and the remainder of some particular part for one of the Services. You cannot nationalise a factory turning out heavy engineering products, like pumps, on the one hand, and particular products for the armaments industry on the other. It is only because we have had the industry, not controlled, but in the hands of private enterprise, that we have been able to turn out the arms that have been turned out up to the present, and, what is more, have been able to pay for them. The Labour party had better tell us where the taxation revenue would have come from if they had tried to nationalise and take over one half of people's factories and allow the other half to run under private enterprise—a course which is entirely impracticable.
This Amendment is full of vague phrases which will not bear analysis, and which, I believe, will carry no weight at all in the country, which is grateful to the Government for the Defence which they have provided, and which hopes that their efforts will not in any way be slowed down, but, on the contrary, will even be speeded up.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes
I feel that I must ask the indulgence of the House on this occasion, in the hope that all hon. Members will carry their minds back to their own feelings on similar occasions, perhaps in some cases many years ago. I am bound to admit that the turmoil which was going on inside me before I got up somewhat resembled the sensation that some of us 1595 experienced 20 years ago, before zero hour; but in this case there is an added disadvantage, for, whereas in those days an ever-thoughtful Higher Command, sympathising with our discomfort, saw that we set out before daylight, here, unfortunately, one has to face the headlights of publicity. Armaments and the degree of profits in armaments seem to me to be so much a matter of concern to-day that I hope the remarks I am going to make will be considered of sufficient importance to warrant my taking the time of the House.
I stand as one of those who would like to see the abolition of the private manufacture of armaments altogether; and, if that cannot be done, I would like to see the abolition of profit. I do so not for any political wish, but because I sincerely believe that if you take the profit out of armaments you put some obstruction in the way of war. I speak as one who fought in the last War and who may be young enough to take part in the next. If there is any question as to whether profit in armaments is right or wrong, I would remind hon. Members of the resolution passed by 8,000,000 ex-service men at Geneva in 1932, when they voted for the complete suppression of private manufacture of armaments. They must have done that because they thought it would make war more difficult. However, there has been a Royal Commission, and that has reported that to do away with private manufacture of armaments is at present impossible. I am bound to say, as a practical man, that I agree with their finding. But I do not agree with the admission that profit in arms is still necessary. I do not wish to get away from the Debate and discuss the various points that have been made in that report, but there is one section to which I would like to refer, because it deals with what seems to me to be the most evil side of the armaments trade. I refer to the export trade.
It is contended on behalf of private firms that if they are to manufacture arms they must be at liberty to sell their excess products overseas. I question whether that is sane, because the armaments industry, unlike any other industry, is a self-promoting industry. If you succeed in selling a submarine to one country, you can immediately sell a destroyer to a larger number of others; and after selling a destroyer to them, you can immediately 1596 sell a cruiser to a still larger field; and so on. I suggest that it would be saner that their surplus products should be purchased by the Government and kept in readiness for some emergency, or, failing that, destroyed and thrown into the sea.
I wish to confine the remainder of my remarks to the question of profit because I feel that the Treasury have ceased to function in the way they should as watchdogs of the nation's purse. As facts are always considered better than fancy, I hope that I may, with the permission of the House, refer to the instance with which I was connected, when a firm which I guide made a certain offer to make shells without profit. I do not wish to raise the issue in any controversial spirit, but simply because I believe that a great deal more can still be done. The reason of that offer I need not go into here. I approach the matter with some diffidence, because I am so closely connected with it; but I want to use the figures to show what can be done when savings of that kind are equated to war expenditure. Our first offer was for a shell at 17s. 11d. The offer contained two provisions: a contingency provision and a provision for rejects. Had that contract gone well, I have no doubt that the shells could have been reduced to 14s. 10d. Had the use of a German lathe been allowed, we could probably have turned them out at 3s. below that.
§ Mr. Stokes
3.45 inches. In October, 1936, the market price was 21s. 6d.; that gives a saving of 6s. 8d. The shell expenditure in war-time becomes perfectly terrific, and may not be within the knowledge of everybody. At Passchendaele in 1917 we used to reckon—and I was a gunner at that time—that there was a gun for every yard of front. That may be an exaggeration; let us divide by five, and say there was a gun for every five yards. The battles were extended over 10 to 20 miles. Let us call it 10 miles; that means 3,520 guns. The average consumption of shells per day was 500 per gun. This would mean with a 6s. 8d. saving, a total saving of £600,000 per day, or £20,000,000 per month, of intensive operation. That is on the basis of one gun for every five yards; if you come down to a basis of one gun per yard, the saving becomes £100,000,000 per month. It may be contended that my figures are all 1597 wrong, and that that saving could not possibly be effected; I can only say that the figures are available, and if any hon. Members want to see them I will arrange for them to do so. I wish to call the attention of the House to the report of the East Anglian Munitions Trust, in which it is shown that, owing to the patriotic action of the writer of that book and one of his associates in East Anglia, they succeeded in 1916 in reducing the price of shells from 22s. to 12s. 6d. That shell weighed 18 lbs.; and the approximate weight of the present shell is 20 lbs. I, personally, am of opinion that, given the right machinery and tools, it would be possible to effect a reduction of that kind.
The racket, so to speak, does not stop there. I would call attention to the cost of raw materials, because that does not seem to me to be receiving sufficient attention. I want particularly to refer to the effect on munition costs of the cost of pig iron. In January, 1931, the cost of pig iron from blast furnaces was £2 15s. per ton, and in 1938 the cost of similar material is £5 5s.—a difference of £2 10s. Part of that increase is met by the cost of coke. But coke has gone up by only 15s. a ton, and it takes only a ton, or perhaps 25 cwt, of coke to make a ton of pig iron; so, making a liberal allowance of 25 cwt. of coke for each ton of pig iron, this would account for only 18s. 9d. of that increase. I submit that the immense cost of the rearmament programme is, to a very considerable extent, due to lack of control of these raw materials. Further, I could not leave out of account what happens in connection with the land. My quarrel to-day is with nobody, but the statement of facts shows that the Government has paid for 26,500 acres of land £1,225,000; and that was land which was mostly derated because it was considered valueless.
I suggest that, possibly, the approach to this question of profit has not been done quite in the way which is likely to yield best results. I believe that if manufacturers were asked to come in at a time of acute crisis such as this, a great number would do so. That they do not offer to do so, is easily explained. It is difficult for directors of a company, who, after all, are only servants of the company, to come forward and offer; but I believe that if the Government said that they would welcome that form of 1598 approach quite a number of people are sufficiently patriotic to come forward and offer their services to the Government for a nominal sum, or recommend to their companies that they should do so. Even if that is not possible, I suggest that the present method is wrong, the chief reason being that we in this country dislike what are called "nosey-parker" methods. I am referring to the methods of control exercised by the Government in interfering with the directors of firms, of whom I am one. This system costs the Government quite a lot. The Government have a nuisance value, and everyone puts his price up to allow for that nuisance value. It amounts to a very considerable sum when you are dealing with a figure of twenty thousand million pounds. It certainly is equivalent to an additional 1 per cent., and, in a large number of instances, 5 per cent.
I believe the best way of controlling profit would be to insist that all firms who are taking part in the rearmament programme should employ a member of a fixed panel of auditors as their company auditor. I am not criticising in any way the efficiency, capability or integrity of civil servants, who come down and visit the works and carry out a difficult and thankless task. I recognise that they do their job manfully; but they have not a chance. You can defeat them very easily; and I back myself not to be caught by anybody. If a firm taking part in rearmament were obliged to employ a firm of auditors of integrity—I do not mean any old auditors, because there are auditors and auditors—and those auditors were made to render a certificate of profit at the end of each contract, I have no doubt that the profits would be limited and that the rearmament programme would cost a great deal less. The War Office have recently made a gesture in that they have introduced what they call their "target" scheme. It is a very sporting offer, but it is really far too simple, and there again, I am confident that the average manufacturer, unless he is asked and agrees not to do so, will certainly walk off with the difference and you will not hear very much of the benefits of that "target" proposal.
Before I sit down I want to refer for a moment or two to the air-raid precautions here. I have had the good fortune recently to visit Germany and I have seen what they are doing there and the degree 1599 of defence which they claim to have put up. How truthful all their statements are, it is impossible to say. All foreign governments, when you visit them, are extremely good salesmen and see to it that you do not see more than they intend you to see. But it appears on the surface that they regard themselves as immune from aircraft attack in so far as injury to life or limb of their civilian population is concerned, that is, in Berlin. My complaint against the condition of things here to-day is that, while we have heard a good deal about gas masks, gas schools and gas wardens, and a good deal about gas generally, as far as I know quite insufficient instructions have been given to industrial concerns, especially as to the steps which they ought properly to take to protect their own personnel against bombing from aircraft. I speak with a certain amount of feeling in this matter because the Government have advised us that the town from which I come is in a highly vulnerable position on the East Coast, so that I take it we shall get it in the neck first. On account of the fact that I feel that inadequate control has been exercised in the profit element in this rearmament programme, and because I feel that the steps so far taken for the protection of the civilian population against aircraft attack are inadequate, I beg to support the Amendment.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill
The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) is, I am sure, entitled to the compliments of the House for his maiden speech. Not only did we sympathise with him in those internal tremors which are so often the prelude to excellent preformance both in this House and in the field, but the House, I think on all sides, will have felt that we may look forward in the future to contributions from him to our Debates of a sensible, solid and practical character. I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Gentleman into the topics which he specially selected, though I think he was quite well-advised to speak to us for the first time on subjects which he had studied particularly and of which he had had special experience. I do not wish to be drawn into details on this occasion, neither do I feel very much inclined to discuss those rather fearsome Amendments 1600 by which it is sought to overlay this Debate.
This is not the occasion for parties setting their caps at one another. It is almost one of the only occasions we have in the year when we are supposed to be able to survey in a general fashion the great problems of Defence, picking out the salient points, but keeping ourselves above either a tangle of technicalities or ordinary controversial party policy. The question which lies before us to-night above all others is, What are the best steps we should take to deter an aggressor from breaking the peace, and for our survival, if we should be the victims of an assault? Owing to the excellent relations which have grown up with the United States of America, and the fact that the United States Navy is not being allowed to fall behind British naval expansion in any way, we are, I think, entitled to measure our naval power against the naval power of European countries. We are, therefore, in a far stronger position on sea relatively to any navy in Europe, or to any likely combination of navies in Europe than we were with the much larger fleets we had in 1914. In those days I was forced to work upon the basis of 16 ships to 10, and two to one in cruisers, but now we have a ratio with the Germans of three to one operative for the whole Fleet, except only submarines.
In the Army we are, of course, weaker in every respect, relatively and actually, than we were in 1914, but the Army is not at the present time a prime factor in our safety, so, therefore, I come at once to the more decisive and crucial element in our defences. About £280,000,000 has been spent on Defence Services in the last financial year, and we are now asking for £350,000,000 in 1938. These figures are rightly judged enormous, but they acquire their significance only in relation to what is being spent elsewhere. £350,000,000 for 1938 compares with at least £900,000,000 in Germany, and it must be remembered that for the last three years in succession German defence expenditure has been running at about that level. On the other hand, the prime charge on German defence expenditure is the gigantic army, which they are now so rapidly forming and enlarging corps by corps. We have no similar liability. No figures are published as to how German expenditure is divided between the different Services. One can only speculate 1601 upon that subject, but I hazard the suggestion that, upon the German army, navy, air service and air defence, which is included in that service and upon their munitions supply, including roads and fortifications and other ancilliaries, it would not be unreasonable to assume three-quarters of the total German military budget was consumed, that is to say, £625,000,000.
Therefore, on this assumption there would be £275,000,000 left over for the comparable German Air Force and the German Navy, as compared with the British expenditure of £250,000,000.
As the German expenditure upon the Navy is presumably only about one-third of ours, we should deduct from this £275,000,000 about £35,000,000, leaving £240,000,000 available for the possible German expenditure in 1938 upon the air force. Our comparable British figures are somewhat over £100,000,000. It would therefore not surprise me at all if Germany were going to spend in 1938 more than twice as much upon their air force as we, and it must be remembered, as I have already indicated, that this expenditure follows upon several years of even much larger preponderance of German expenditure upon the air compared with British air expenditure. Therefore, one may apprehend that German air power was at least double that of ours, and is being expanded at least at double our rate, allowing for expanding upkeep. I freely admit that these conclusions are highly speculative. The truth may be better, or it may be worse. One looks for cross-checks.
I noticed a few months ago that General Weygand, who had just before given up a post on the Supreme Council of Defence in France, gave some figures of the relative strength of the air power of the different countries. He put Germany at 3,000, Great Britain at 1,500, Italy at 1,200, and France at 1,000. I was impressed by these figures, because I know that this distinguished officer would not have mentioned them except as the result of deep knowledge, and also because I am sure that he would not have made that statement, placing the French figure at only 1,000, unless those circles concerned with the safety of the French Republic had thought it desirable that such a statement should be made. But to what basis do these figures refer? I look upon 1602 them as symbolic figures, and I agree that they may be variously interpreted, but they were called by the General, "first-line aircraft," or in our expression, "first-line air-strength."
The Prime Minister to-day has told us that first-line air strength is not a good method of measuring the relative power of countries, but it is the criterion which His Majesty's Government themselves selected some years ago. When four years ago I made the statement that the German air force was already equal to ours, we were told later on that you must consider first-line air strength, and it is on that basis that these discussions have always proceeded. By first-line air strength I mean always the number of machines which the air force of any country can put into action on a given date, and can keep in action, in respet of both personnel and material, month after month for quite a long time in spite of the enormous monthly wastage. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister now abandons this criterion, and I must say that I was disquieted by the vague and reserved passage in his speech with which he dealt with this extremely important feature. Does anyone suppose that if a thoroughly satisfactory answer could have been made on first-line air strength it would not have been made? Can anyone suppose that we should have been invited to adopt a new standard if the position of the Government could be thoroughly vindicated upon the old?
My right hon. Friend now alters the yardstick. He adopts a different measure altogether, and he brings in a great number of matters which certainly are not capable at any time, as the hon. and gallant Member for Thanet (Captain Balfour) has said, of being analysed or reduced to terms of precision; but even in those which my right hon. Friend has mentioned, I doubt whether a more satisfactory showing would be obtained than on the first-line air strength which has been abandoned. Take the question of reserves; take the question of stores of bombs—using the items to which my right hon. Friend referred—take the war potential, the full blast, when the factories are let out so that they can assure, month after month, aeroplanes in time of war; take the anti-aircraft defence which my right hon. Friend mentioned: is it really suggested that if we have fallen behind 1603 on the somewhat narrow criterion of first-line air strength, we shall make up for it by our great lead over another Power in respect of these other items which my right hon. Friend mentioned?
No, Sir; I am bound to say that I feel a very great deal of disquiet, although I feel that the Prime Minister has placed us in his debt by making a statement, carefully guarded, but which nevertheless reveals that the former position of the Government in regard to parity is now no longer maintained or argued. However one judges the figures which I have ventured to give, it may well be that German air power is above double that of Great Britain. What has become, in that case, of the pledge of the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister on 8th March, 1934? It was a very serious pledge, it was a pledge of a most solemn character; and I do not feel that if, after all these years, that pledge cannot be held to be maintained in any effective manner, it should be passed over by us as a mere casual incident of debate.
I pass to the next section of my argument. At what rate are we fulfilling the programme of air expansion which we have set ourselves? Let me give the brief time table. When late in the summer of 1935, after the miscalculations and mistakes had been fully admitted, it was at last decided to make a great expansion of the Air Force, we were promised that 124 squadrons would be ready by 31st March, 1937. It was made plain, and it was generally understood, that those squadrons were to be complete for war purposes in all respects. Great play was made of the fact that as we had started late, all our squadrons would be equipped with the best and latest patterns. In fact, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence excited the amusement of the House by his ingenious argument that we had really stolen a march on our rivals by not starting sooner.
In addition, we were assured that British reserves of aircraft on a much higher scale than abroad would be in existence, and of course the magnitude of those reserves must be kept secret. Therefore, we were promised 124 squadrons, fully equipped with guns, instruments, and reserves, in a really efficient state by 31st March, 1937. As time passed, it became evident that that programme was 1604 not going to be achieved by the date mentioned; and on 27th January, 1937, a Debate was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Duddeston (Mr. Simmonds) in the course of which the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence made a very important statement. He admitted that the programme was in arrears, but he said that 100 squadrons, 22 of which would be on a one-flight basis—if you are making squadrons on a one-flight basis it does not show a very large plethora of reserves—would be completed by 31st March, 1937. My right hon. Friend spoke with the greatest frankness and candour, as he always does, when-even he can, to the House. He said:I am going to take the risk, which may be brought home to me in six months' time, of saying that, if our expectations are fulfilled, the remaining 24 squardons, or at any rate, 20 of them, will be completed by July next."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th January, 1937; col. 1001, Vol, 319.]My right hon. Friend was careful not to guarantee that they would be up to full strength by that time. That statement was made about 13 months ago; but what is the position as described in the White Paper?—Rearming will be substantially completed during the coming financial year.That is to say, the completion and first equipment of these 124 squadrons with modern types will not be even substantially completed until 31st March, 1939, two years later than the date promised. That is a fact which is openly and plainly admitted by the White Paper. I may add that if all the 124 squadrons had been completed in all respects as proposed by 31st March, 1937, our Air Force would still have been considerably smaller than the German Air Force. The House can judge for itself what the proportions are likely to be when a delay of two years has occurred. It must be realised that everything is relative, that everything is moving simultaneously. This boast that because we had started late, we had scored by getting new types of machines—where is that, when rearmament with these new machines will not be achieved until 31st March, 1939? Does the House really suppose that in this long interval the Germans have not bent new types on to their vast mass-production plants and that we shall not be confronted—I use the word "confronted" purely for purposes of comparison, for we are not now 1605 talking about the possibilities of war, but on questions of Defence, as far as this country is concerned, in a detached and impersonal manner; we are not discussing the political or diplomatic side in any way, and when I say "confronted," I speak only in the sense of a comparison. [Interruption.] I see no reason for merriment; it seems to me to be one of the most correct remarks I have ever had the fortune to make in the House. We know that they have, in fact, made these new types on a great scale, and that by the time our new patterns of specimen aeroplanes, now made by hand, are multiplied sufficiently to equip all the squadrons and provide the necessary reserves, we shall once again be behind in quality and modernity, irrespective of our undoubted inferiority in numbers.
It would be unfair to throw the blame on any one Minister, or upon Lord Swinton, for our deficiency. Anyone who was put in his place in July, 1935, would have made a great many mistakes, and would certainly not have been able to discharge the programmes which were proclaimed within the limits assigned; but he certainly does represent—and I say this with a great feeling of sympathy for him in his task—an extremely able and wholehearted effort to do the best he possibly could to expand our air power, and the results which he has achieved would be bright if they were not darkened by the time table, and if they were not outshone by other relative facts occurring elsewhere. Every country admires what it is doing itself, but what is not always seen is what is being done by others. I say that the hard responsibility for the failure to fulfil the promises made to us rests upon those who have governed and guided this Island for the last five years, that is to say, from the date when—[Interruption]—well, somebody must say these things—German rearmament in real earnest became apparent and known.
But while I do not attempt to throw the blame on any single Minister, for, after all, not only the Cabinet but Parliament is responsible for any neglect or tardiness in making proper preparations, I hold strongly that the House of Commons should satisfy itself more thoroughly than it can do in these Debates about the exact condition of our Air Force and expansion programme. We have had an inquiry, much resisted, but soon to be published, into civil aviation. The least we 1606 can do at the present time is to have a similar inquiry into the state of our military aviation. It might well be that the results of that inquiry would not be a fit subject for publication to foreign Powers; in that case, the Prime Minister could do as his predecessors have done in such matters, he could summon to the Committee of Imperial Defence the representatives of other parties, and there should be an agreement, such as one would expect under a National system of Government, both upon what should be said and upon what should be done. When the Air Force Estimates are considered, I shall certainly press this request—whether by Select Committee, or by a committee like the Cadman Committee, or by the Cadman Committee itself, I care not. There should be some tribunal, independent of the Executive, before which statements of detail could be made. They certainly cannot be made in this House, where we cannot converse about our vital affairs without having it all read abroad.
I come to the question of munitions supplies. In this field, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, like hope, told us a flattering tale. Three years ago, two years ago at the very latest, a Supply Department should have been created and the whole industry of the country brought into simultaneous review. This does not mean, of course, that the whole of civil industry would have been stopped. I thought my right hon. Friend, who is always so extremely fair-minded in his arguments, slipped a degree or two behind his usual exceptionally high standard when he represented this request for a Ministry of Munitions or a Ministry of Supply as being the idea that the whole industry of the country was to be devoted to making munitions. That would be impossible, and nobody ever suggested it.
§ Mr. Churchill
The last thing in the world I should wish to do would be to repay an injustice by an injustice, and least of all when probably there is no foundation for either. But I did imagine that he put it that those who had asked for a Ministry of Munitions had, so to speak, wished completely to absorb the whole industry of the country on munitions. If there had been a 1607 Ministry of Supply, plans could have been made upon a nation-wide scale as other countries are doing, and there would have been no need for the successive afterthoughts and readjustments following from short and partial views. Those afterthoughts have marred the whole of this period. The Government refused to create a Ministry of Supply, but the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, intended for quite a different purpose, has laboured hard to do the work. We are told, also, that he has done all his other work, too. I hope so, and, if so, he deserves cordial thanks and most unstinted admiration, because the tasks which he had to do seemed to go beyond the capacity of any human being that we know of alive to-day, or even read about in the more expansive days.
We were assured two years ago that there was no necessity for a Ministry of Supply, but soon Admiral Brown was appointed with a very large staff and was given a large portion of the field. Again we were assured that all was now perfect, but when the present Secretary of State for War was appointed to his office he found the conditions in the Department of the Master-General of the Ordnance—a most tremendously important sphere—in such a state that the most drastic changes in personnel and organisation had to be made, and the whole of this great section was amalgamated with Admiral Brown's staff. And so after two years we have built up something very like a Ministry of Supply, but built it up piecemeal, and covering little more than half the whole field. Meanwhile preparations have proceeded without a sufficiency of nation-wide organisation and without a thorough application of nation-wide priorities, both in respect of the various forms of munitions, and in respect of those munitions compared with the requirements of civil life. I say even now, create your Ministry of Supply, provide it with an effective staff and effective powers, let the Minister amalgamate the necessary organisations concerned, let him unite in his own hands design and supply without which you will always have vexatious alterations in your supply, and then see what can be done to overtake the lamentable lag which manifests itself at the present time on all programmes. It is no use complaining about the weakness of democracy, or accusing the inefficiency of Parliamentary institutions 1608 compared with the dictatorships. They will work all right if the Government appeal to them and give them the necessary apparatus.
In this position what are the foundations of our security, and what action still remains for us to take? It is commonly supposed—I think I had an argument on this with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) out of doors a few days ago, conducted with some vigour, though happily leaving no after scars—it is commonly supposed that we extend a good-natured, benevolent protection to France, and that out of our strength and security we stretch out a friendly hand to help those poor people in case they are set upon by an aggressor. Both the great parliamentary democracies of the West certainly have need of one another, but are we quite sure that it is France that is more dependent on us at the present time than we are dependent on France? Are we quite sure that the French Republic and the French Army, which to-day stand, to their glory, as the prime guarantee for European peace, do not also stand to a considerable extent as a British security against the air menace? I see France as a self-contained and exceedingly formidable military proposition. She has 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 men trained as soldiers; she has long-matured formations of an army which embraces the entire population as it is required; she has built, in days when we were urging her to disarm, a perfectly modern line of fortifications extending hundreds of miles across the invadeable portions of her frontier. Her people are much dispersed about their country, and not so exceptionally vulnerable to air attack as some other countries. She is almost self-supporting in food supplies, and she has a stronger fleet than her most probable rivals. Altogether, France, even if isolated in defending her soil and life, presents, as I say, a most formidable character to any aggressor.
Now, Sir, what is our defence, I should like to know, against a Continental Power which has an Air Force—if there be such a Power—at least twice as strong as ours, and which has a bombing capacity deliverable over here at a far greater ratio that any retaliation which we could make, especially if we were launched in a war which we had to conduct alone? What is our defence? Is it the Navy, which for centuries has been our shield? The 1609 Admiralty representative would certainly not guarantee that. The Navy cannot stop concentrated, long-continuous air attack on Great Britain, on our enormous cities, our munition factories, our feeding ports, our women and children, our merchant ships in the narrow waters. Will the Admiralty undertake to protect us against that? What about the Secretary of State for War? He has added, I gather, no fewer than two battalions to the Army in the last two years and, by a very happy development, for which he is entitled to much credit, we have increased and improved our recruiting so that there maybe 20,000 or 25,000 more men in the Regular Forces. Armed with this accretion of strength, would the Secretary of State for War guarantee us security from the most frightful ordeal by which a civilised population was ever menaced? Are we to suppose that the Air Force in its present position, or our air-raid precautions in their present stage, could give us complete immunity? No doubt they would make a gallant fight and strike back in a very severe degree, and no doubt, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) said, we should show ourselves exceptionally virile in enduring air raids—at least, I hope so.
But none of these things gives us any answer to the question of what is our main security, and I submit to the House a conclusion which I do not think will be at all popular, but which I am sure should not be absent from the minds of those who are thinking about national Defence and national policy. What is the deterrent to an air aggression which gives us some feeling of reassurance? It is the French Army. That is the fact. Let me illustrate this. Let us conjure up the circumstances of an air attack on Britain, because all this densely populated island is exposed. Such an attack could take place only if we were the victims of unprovoked aggression, because we are not going to commit an unprovoked aggression on anyone. If we are the victims of unprovoked aggression we are under the Covenant of the League of Nations, and short-sighted are those who mock it. [Interruption.] Certainly I have listened to every word the Prime Minister has spoken on this subject, and he has certainly not mocked at it. It would be a great mistake to try to magnify differences on that subject when, perhaps, 1610 they are not very large—a great mistake, because in my view the Covenant of the League constitutes a most important element in our practical military security.
As I say, under the Covenant we are entitled to the aid of all the covenanted Powers. France would, therefore, be bound to side with us, although under the Covenant her degree of intervention is not defined. But, apart from the Covenant of the League, though in full harmony with it, we have a military agreement with France. We are bound to go to her aid in certain circumstances, and France has publicly declared her intention of coming to our aid in similar circumstances. There was a great scene in the Chamber 15 months ago when the French Foreign Minister announced that if Great Britain were the victim of unprovoked attack France would come to her aid with all her forces by land, and sea and air. And I was told by one who was there, an ex-Minister in an important position, that what was so remarkable about this declaration was that the cheers that greeted it went from Monarchists on the extreme Right, right round to the Communists on the extreme Left. When one wants to preserve one's life and freedom and to see the peace of the world maintained, it is pleasant to dwell upon episodes like that.
Thus, unless our policy were to change—and I do not conceive that it would change in this matter—an air raid on England would only take place under conditions when France was our ally, that is to say, she would declare war upon the aggressor, and the mobilisation of the great armies would begin. Whatever air raids or mechanised interruptions might mark this preliminary phase, you may be sure that the first dominant event would be the mobilisation, assembly, and deployment of the great armies. Everything else, however horrible, would become subsidiary to that. If, therefore, the British Air Force and the French Air Force, instead of making reprisals upon women and children, however great the provocation, consistently strikes at the mobilisation centres, the depots, the roads and railway communications upon which the mobilisation and maintenance of the enemy's army depend, that enemy would be forced to do likewise, and, unless his air force is so overwhelmingly superior that it can do likewise, and at the same time maintain a major attack upon this island—which is not the case, 1611 and ought never to be the case—you will find that you will get an immense measure of protection here in the island from air attack from those facts. And you will get from this fact of our association with France a measure of protection which we could not get for ourselves for many years to come, if indeed at all.
As I said a few moments ago, what we ought to aim at in the first instance is the prevention of war by the accumulation of deterrents upon an aggressor. In this alone lies peace and the avoidance of horrors which the mind can hardly conceive. Now the fact that a dictator Power has to mobilise its army is a serious deterrent. You cannot always be sure, when ruling by party force and political police, whether all the people in whose hands you place rifles for aggressive purposes will have the same ideas about their use. But apart from this, no dictator can mobilise and embark upon a great aggressive land war without his power passing very largely to the generals. That would be particularly true in the case of a Power upon whom my mind has perhaps sometimes been dwelling to-night. We saw how the Kaiser faded out as the dominant figure once he had launched the armies into war.
What do I deduce from this? Not too much I hope. All I deduce is the certainty of having to engage in a major land war will be a powerful deterrent upon dictators to begin a war or to begin an act of aggression. They might risk an air war quite easily if the conditions were such that a nine-days air war and victory at the end of it was a possibility. That might well be tried. They might risk a local war, they might put up with a naval war, they might absorb small States one after another if they are left to be devoured in succession; they might, by what are called power politics—there are other terms for it—gain many minor advantages, but there are a great number of good judges who think that not in the present year, at any rate, and probably not in 1939, will the dictators be ready for a major aggressive land war. The condition of their armies will not have matured to that extent. And, after all, that is a very considerable period. That is why I say that the influence of the French Army in preserving the peace of Europe and aiding importantly in the exertions we are making for that purpose, 1612 and also the exertions which we are making for our own Defence and the close military association of the two countries, are our surest safety and our strongest hope of having no war. That is the first and the last word I would offer in any Debate upon the general question of national Defence.
What, then, are the two conclusions which I venture to suggest to the House? The first is that we cannot in times like these, and in view of past neglects, secure our safety, our possessions, and even our freedom, unless we are willing to modify increasingly our easy comfortable British manner of life and make it perfectly clear that everything that is needed for munitions production carries with it overwhelming priority. I agree with the Prime Minister as to the importance of other aspects of our national strength, but it must not be forgotten that we are dwelling side by side with countries which for years have concentrated the whole life of their peoples on preparing for war and which are developing, no doubt under conditions of greater strain, war power to an extent which has never been dreamed of before.
There ought to be renewed effort on our part, and no complacency. Looking at the newspapers one would think that everything is all right, that there is nothing to worry about, that now we have voted the money and given orders for aeroplanes to the contractors everything is all right, and that we shall get deliveries at the time promised. Just because we have voted the money we are deluding ourselves when thinking of these large figures, irrespective of the larger figures elsewhere. This complacency astonishes me, and I do not mind if I am much abused for endeavouring to shake and disturb it. There ought to be renewed effort on our part. Even the signs of it will have beneficial effects abroad, and will help the Prime Minister in any measures of appeasement he takes. There must be a renewed effort, laying aside every impediment, which delays the completion of our Defence services in respect of personnel and material.
The second conclusion I offer is that whatever we do, whatever exertions and sacrifices we make, we shall not be strong enough for a long time to preserve our national independence and our Empire by acting alone. We must on this occasion, as so often in our byegone history, 1613 seek firm and sure allies within the ambit of the League of Nations, so as to enable us to present in the aggregate a genuine and sufficient preponderance of force to deter an aggressor. Then, when we have regained what we have not got now, and marshalled and organised superior strength among the nations and in our own country, then, and then only, shall we be able by good-will and wise magnanimity to find our way back to those domains from which we seem to have been driven, those domains of assured peace, of freedom and even of sanity.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Lansbury
The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) told us of his feelings when rising to make his maiden speech. I am not making my maiden speech but I feel very depressed in speaking at all in this Debate, and it is only the overwhelming sense of my responsibility as a Member of the House and my responsibility to those people outside who think as I do, that I enter into the discussion at all. No one will quarrel with the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) for making an alarmist speech, if he really believes in it. He seemed to take it for granted that we ought not to discuss policy during a Defence Debate, but I would point out that those who take the same point of view as I do maintain that there is no defence in armaments, and we contend that the world today is reaping the result of depending on armaments. The right hon. Gentleman has said some hard things in a rather oblique manner about Germany. The other day when I tried rather humorously to call attention to the stupidity of the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs going to Berlin to investigate how we can defend London against German air bombing, the right hon. Gentleman interjected a remark which I thought was rather uncalled for. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not remember the occasion. We were discussing air-raid precautions, and I said that it seemed to be a sort of Alice in Wonderland business for the Under-Secretary for the Home Department to go to Berlin to find out how we could defend ourselves from air attacks by the Germans.
The right hon. Gentleman has devoted his speech entirely to a series of statements as to how we shall defend ourselves against the Germans. Everyone 1614 who considers these questions knows perfectly well that the conditions which produced a dictatorship in Germany are conditions for which this country and France are primarily responsible. We are reaping only what we have sown when we depend on force, and I say that more than ever to-day the youth and early manhood of this country ought to refuse once more to follow the false prophets who told them that by piling up armaments and going to war we could secure peace. You can do no such thing, and the lifetime of men under 30 years of age has proved it conclusively. If the right hon. Member for Epping can say that this huge expenditure of money, which is comparatively nothing to the sacrifice of human life and human values, if the right hon. Gentleman can truthfully say that if France and Britain were again victorious the world would be better because of their victory, he would be able to silence me and those who take my point of view. He knows, and the world knows, that there is absolutely nothing to be gained of any worth by this policy to which the House is almost unanimously agreeing. Therefore when the right hon. Gentleman says that we ought not to challenge this from the point of view of policy, I say that logically it is the only point of view from which it should be challenged.
The people of every country of the world, the statesmen in every country of the world, the Prime Minister, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence and the late Foreign Secretary, all of them have denounced it as futile and folly. If it is futile then tell me why you are embarking upon it? Tell me why you are preparing for it, and trying to outbid others in horrors and bestiality? You are hoping to succeed by being so much stronger than other nations. The piling up of armaments in this way must inevitably lead to the catastrophe. It is not pacifists like myself but the militants, the politicians and the statesmen, who have told the world that if war does happen then every one will be the loser. The story of the last War proves that conclusively. I belong to the Labour party, and I should very much like to feel the Labour party was with me in the policy I advocate. At by-elections and anywhere else I have always said what I am saying to-night about war. I did not speak or vote in the last two Debates 1615 because I am glad indeed that the Prime Minister has had the courage to take one step which I hope will be tremendously successful. I do not care two straws in what way peace comes so long as peace does come; and I want to say to my colleagues that I cannot support in any sort of way the campaign which is being waged against this particular part of the Prime Minister's policy.
There is no one in this House who has fought the Prime Minister on social policy harder than I have, but I should be very much less the person I hope I am if I did not stand here and say that if there is any chance for the world to-day it lies in the fact that the Prime Minister is trying—not on my lines, I cannot help that—on lines which he thinks will at least bring a breathing space to the nations of the world. I hope he will be able to bring about a standstill in armaments even if he cannot start disarmament at once. I know what is said in the country—we have to catch up, we have to be stronger, or at least as strong as the nation with 60,000,000 people in Europe. I do not take that view. From the realistic point of view if we could get a standstill in armaments now I believe it would be a jumping-off place for a reduction later on.
It is very easy for us here to talk about war and the possibility of war. It is very easy for the right hon. Gentleman to talk to us about how we shall be protected by France. But when I was in Poland and was taken about, not by the Government but by other people, the men and women whom we met told us of the tens of millions of men who marched and re-marched across Poland in the last War. We know nothing about that. In Czechoslovakia, a country where the Government is struggling very hard with a minority problem, created, not by themselves, but by the War, and when I have discussed the matter with Hungarians, I found that what is at the bottom of the present situation is nothing but semi-starvation. If this House, for one afternoon, could devote itself to considering the condition in Europe, and in this country, of the ordinary working masses of the people, you would at once see the truth of what people like me have been trying to say in this House—that the root of the problem is the economic condition of people who are unable to get their 1616 daily bread. They are starving to-day as a result of war and the conditions imposed by those who sanctioned and made what they called the peace, and you cannot hope even to begin to settle that by piling up armaments and preparing for war.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the years that had been wasted in getting these preparations forward. If the right hon. Gentleman would turn his tremendous talents—I pay my sincere tribute to them—to this problem of the economic life that the Treaties have imposed on South-Eastern and Central Europe, and would devote his energies to trying to discover how these people could be helped, he would do more for peace than anything else in the world. I know speeches are made about what the Germans are going to do with their great air force. We say the same thing in a different way. But the difficulty in Czechoslovakia is an economic one. The people who suffered most from the economic blizzard there were the German people, but it was not the fault of the Czechoslovakia Government. The people in Hungary are in much the same condition—and the reason they suffer is that Governments have to spend so much on armaments, and, pile up armaments relatively as great as this country, the people are beggared.
In 1935 the House discussed this question on a Motion which I moved, and the Government said that it was an important question. They had already said at the Economic Conference that the economic condition of the world was the root-cause of war and must be dealt with. I am told that I am an unpractical idealist and pacifist, but ever since that conference, from that Box and up and down the country, I have been trying to rouse our people on that issue. Last year the King of the Belgians implored the nations to take that question in hand. If you had started in August dealing with the subject you would have done something to turn men's minds away from the folly of thinking that only another Armageddon could get them out of their difficulties.
Knowing a little about the feeling in this country, I believe there will be a most tremendous upheaval in the country once it is known that both parties are united in believing that war is inevitable. The Government ask support for peace. My hon. Friends here do the same, and 1617 yet all of them know in their hearts that they are piling up preparations for war and taking no steps to remove the causes of war. When there was an epidemic at Croydon everybody wrote to the newspapers and created discussion in order that the causes might be found out. The other day a smallpox patient on a ship caused quite a flutter in this country and we moved heaven and earth, as far as local authorities were concerned, to find out all about the person and to remove the cause, and to prevent the spread of the disease. If the Black Plague came, all the nations would unite in saying, "We must stamp this out." But here is this abominable business of war, which every man in the Government says ought to be prevented, and we are allowing it to grow up until we are almost overwhelmed by it.
I am sure the people of this country do not understand that this House is united in saying that war is nearly inevitable. Once they understand it, I do not believe you will be followed. Talk about a united nation! They will be divided enough then, when they understand how they are being deceived, and you will have short shrift indeed. No man dare make a political speech to-day without saying that his policy is peace, and here to-night, if one thing has come out of the discussion, it is that every one has suspected the possibility, if not the probability of war. There is no way out of this except the way I advocate—the removal of the root-causes and the economic conditions which bring about war. Wherever you look that is true.
I would not feel so strongly about this, I would not dare stand here and be so certain, if it were not for the fact that the President of the United States and Mr. Cordell Hull and M. Leon Blum have said that the world should direct its energies to dealing with the economic causes. They have said this to me both publicly and privately. Mr. Van Zeeland, long before he was selected to go to the United States to make his inquiry, also said it. When you go to Scandinavia they say the same thing. So do the dictators. The people of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria—which you cut up and left like a torso without arms, without head, without legs—are crying out for some relief, not from their own quarrels, but from the quarrels of the great men and the great States.
1618 I say to the House: You ought to tell the people what you are going to fight about. It is not good enough to say that France will come to our aid should we be attacked. The nation should be told what are our commitments in Europe and elsewhere. There has been a lot of talk about the immorality of recognising the conquest of Abyssinia. Nearly half the members of the League of Nations have recognised it. France says that if it is part of a general settlement, it will be recognised. So that it is not a matter of morals; it is a matter of what suits at the particular moment. [Interruption.] All I know is that that unhappy nation was led astray by the great Powers of Europe, who encouraged them to fight and then left them there. In this business of France and ourselves I think perhaps the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence would tell us, or the Government might bring out a White Paper and tell us, exactly what the nation is going to fight about, and why.
Finally, I want to read something to the House. It has come to me from some friends, and I am reading it because of the perpetual chant that goes up against myself and my friends that we are people who only put a negative on war. I repeat, we do not. We denounce war and we say we must remove the causes in order to prevent war. This is what my friends have sent me:The Great War to crush militarism and to end war led to the pitiful and desperate world of to-day. Just as it is impossible to end war by war, so it is morally and materially impossible to defend national democracy against Fascism by war. Democracy itself must perish in that process. The defence of democracy against Fascism by war means that the workers of one country are to engage in the massacre of the workers of another country. In order to contend with Fascism by arms, a democracy must surrender itself to totalitarian regimentation.Fascism springs from the belief that in the world as it is violence is the only means by which the intolerable injustices under which nations suffer can be redressed. The ringed fence of arms which the democratic nations provide against Fascism encourages it in its evil ways. Fascism is thus fed and strengthened by every effort to quarantine it—'to have no truck with it.' We therefore appeal to our fellow-citizens who have any concern for peace and democracy to consider the claims of constructive pacifism. We welcome the growing recognition that the policy of 'collective security' is now impracticable. Our own increasing military power involves a competitive race in armaments and inevitable war. We are left with the choice between 1619 this and a policy of complete and constructive pacifism.The most pressing need is to take immediate steps which will lead ultimately to the establishment of an acceptable League of Nations. The maintenance of Imperial interest and economic advantage for ourselves literally means that we are living at the expense of the people of other countries. It also necessitates domination which makes peace impossible.The new League must be based on provisions designed to meet the economic requirements of the large masses of poverty-stricken people to be found in varying degree among all nations of the earth. The satisfaction and security of each and every nation must be, and can be, obtained in the well-being of all. Here is the essence of real collective security. Now is the time when every democrat should concentrate upon and call his Government to confront the real and pressing economic needs of the people of the world. The Van Zeeland report has been drawn up a statesman appointed by the Governments of Britain and France to consider the economic and political causes of friction in the world. M. Van Zeeland's conclusions should be investigated at once. They may be modified. When the causes are faced, a solution will be found possible in other terms than those of war.We urge that a new Peace Treaty should be drawn up, this time before another war begins instead of after it, when hideous consequences must lead to increased hatred, increased revenge, and renewed conflict—if indeed civilisation survives. We urge all those who are not prepared to put their trust in methods of violence to turn their backs on hatred, exclusiveness and national self-righteousness, and to concentrate all their energies upon positive peace-making.That summarises what the Peace Pledge Union is standing for. You may jeer at the late Dick Sheppard's Peace Pledge movement, but it is growing week by week and it will grow by leaps and bounds when the people read the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, and when they know that this House is to-night going to vote for what is called a Defence programme, which is founded on the belief, accepted by the House almost generally, that a war which is regarded as inevitable, a war which will destroy civilisation, is being prepared for.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Grigg
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) has spoken with his usual eloquence on the theme which lies nearest his heart. He will forgive me if I do not follow him on that theme. I should only like to say that I believe that this House loses nothing by the fact that it contains 1620 a much respected Member who is prepared to state that case, and to state it with such sincerity and eloquence. Those who have attended this Debate have been privileged, I think, to hear two speeches of exceptional impressiveness and force. I refer to the speech made at the opening of the Debate by the Prime Minister and to the speech made not long ago by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). The Prime Minister's statement on Defence was by far the broadest and most informative I have yet heard from that Box. All of us who heard it were grateful to him for putting the Government's view of the situation so clearly before us. I also feel grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping for stating so clearly the other view of the case, and for calling attention so forcibly to what we know to be the great deficiencies still existing in our system of defence.
What struck me was that in both speeches there was the same omission. Both dealt broadly with our system of defence, yet both omitted to deal with what is surely one of the most vital aspects of defence, namely, the organisation of the civilian population to resist air attack. In this country that is more important than it is anywhere else, because everybody knows that we are more vulnerable to air attack. Whether we follow the policy of the Government, in which I wholeheartedly concur, of trying to come to some suitable understanding, if we can, with the countries which are at present threatening Europe with war, or whether we follow the policy favoured by the Opposition, which is apparently to stand up at once to any further aggressive action in Europe, whatever it may be—I am convinced that whichever policy we follow, we must at once deal with this question of the organisation of the civilian population in this country to resist air attack.
There are appearing in Germany at present cartoons which I wish our newspapers would reproduce. One of them is a cartoon of British rearmament which shows a warrior, clad in shining armour from the plume on his helmet to his armoured feet. He looks, from the front, a magnificent specimen of war knight, but a back view shows the armour held together by leather straps and nothing inside. What does that mean? It means that the Germans know that we can spend 1621 money in vast quantities upon everything that money can buy in the way of defence, but that we have not, as yet, faced the moral necessity of showing that our population, apart from the paid professional forces, is equal to the trial of modern war. I am not one of those who believe that compulsory military service, or conscription as it is called, is necessary in this country at the present time. But let us face the fact, and I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping would agree, that if we have not to face the necessity of conscription in this country, that is largely because there is conscription in France.
What we do need, and I believe need immediately, is some much more effective organisation of our people to resist air attack. I insist on that because I very much doubt the justice of the forecast which my right hon. Friend made just now about the character of the early stages of a European war, in which the Powers to which he referred were engaged. No doubt the armies would mobilise, but I very much doubt whether a Power which found itself opposed to us and which realised that if we had time to gather and organise our resources we should win in the end, would do anything but strike at once with all the force it could at our most vulnerable point. What is our most vulnerable point? Clearly it is not the Navy. No one supposes for a moment that a Power engaged with this country could hope to secure a decision at sea. Clearly it is not the Army. It is very unlikely that our Army would be engaged at all in the early stage of a European war, but if it were it would not be upon the defeat of that Army that the defeat of this country would depend. Nor, I believe, could a Power engaged with this country rely on destroying our Air Force. There would be a tremendous conflict in the air, but the enemy's air force and our's would, I believe, continue to fight and there would be no decision in the air.
How then would a decision be sought? There is only one way in which this country can be brought to its knees and made to accept defeat before it had time to gather its immense resources behind it, and that is by ruthless, totalitarian air attack upon ports, munition centres and upon the civil population. Attack upon the civil population is not new. We did it ourselves in the blockade of Germany. 1622 Do not let us be surprised if the civil population here should become the primary military objective of an enemy opposed to us in the next war. I am convinced that that will be the case. It will be the civil population which will have to bear the brunt of the attack and prove its capacity to resist if we are to survive the first phase of a war and gain time to gather our resources behind us. I do not believe that even if our civil population were subjected to that kind of attack it would be beaten back. I believe in the spirit of our people. I believe we should get through somehow or other. But what we have to do is to avert that possibility and prove to people who might try it, that the gamble is not worth the throw. That is the vital thing at the present moment.
If we pass from the consideration of Defence policy to that of foreign policy, it seems to me that the argument is the same. The Prime Minister is trying to come to honourable terms with those two countries in Europe which I think most seriously threaten European peace. He is not the first to attempt it. It was attempted by his father in the days when the nineteenth century was passing into the twentieth. After his father had failed, despite all his courage and resource, the same mission passed into the hands of Sir Edward Grey, as he then was. Time after time, Sir Edward Grey attempted to come to terms with the German Government. Never could the German Government be brought to agree. Why was that? How was it that those two statesmen, anxious from the bottom of their hearts to succeed, always failed? I think the reason was that the German Government believed they had always more to gain by keeping a free hand, and that shock diplomacy would always get this country at a disadvantage; that we were not sufficiently prepared to be able to resist the squeeze which shock diplomacy would exert. There was always the idea that morally we were inferiors; that morally we would not stand up to a challenge if that challenge were strong enough.
That, I am afraid, is the story of negotiations with Germany during the last years leading up to the Great War, and it looks uncommonly like that situation again to-day. We have to convince Germany that we are not morally inferior. 1623 Let us then remember that cartoon. Let us remember that picture of the splendid facade of all that money can buy, and let us also remember the background. That represents the danger in our dealings with Germany at the present time. I do not quarrel with the German people for taking that view. I do not believe the German people want war. I do not believe even the German Government want war, but I do believe that it is prepared to pursue its ends in Europe by using to the utmost the democracies' loathing of war. I believe it is again pursuing the policy of shock diplomacy and trusting to other peoples' love of peace to get what it wants without war. There is only one end to that, the same end as we faced in 1914, unless we can persuade the German people that this time, and in time, we are morally their equals. That is what we have to do. It is no use appealing to the higher morality in this matter unless we face that fact, because they will say, "What are your morality, your speeches, resolutions, perorations; what do we care about them?" That is the danger that we have to face.
I say, therefore, that from that standpoint the speech of the Prime Minister and that of my right hon. Friend, and the White Paper, are all three unsatisfactory, because this real issue of the organisation of the civilian population is not faced. What is necessary to convince a Power like Germany, which would aim, if she went to war with us, at knocking us out fast, that that gamble is not worth trying at all? I think the first thing is to make certain that our anti-aircraft services are adequate and that they do not contain men, for instance, in the Territorial anti-aircraft units, who are key men in industries or needed elsewhere in the case of hostilities breaking out. That is not the case at the present moment. I have been told by many employers that their key men are going into the Territorials and into the special units, and it is natural that they should go, but when the moment comes, if it does come, those men will be needed in industry if munitions are to be made, and they will also be needed in these anti-aircraft units, and the same confusion which caused so much loss and trouble in the last War will occur again. The first thing then is to see that these anti-aircraft units are brought up to strength and 1624 that they contain no men who will be needed in other occupations in the event of war.
The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Opposition Amendment seemed to attach a great deal of importance to the balloon barrage. I hope the balloon barrage is as good as he said it was, but I think that he forgot one factor—wind. I do not know what happens to a balloon at 25,000 feet when the wind blows, but I doubt if it stays where it is put. I cannot believe that we are going to get easy security in that way. We have to organise security and to see that we are morally capable of getting it.
The next point, after the anti-aircraft units, is to see that the essential industries are capable of carrying on, that is to say, the men who will be required, not only the key men, but all the men, and most of them to some extent must be told off. We must not find that the labour in essential factories melts away on other jobs, anti-aircraft jobs, air-raid precautions jobs, or, if you like, looking after their families. Men must be told off to carry on this work if it is to be effectively performed, and they must be assured that their families are being properly looked after. Obviously no man will desert his family unless he is sure that everything is being done that can be done to look after them and make them safe. We have also to see that industry is so organised that it is not stopped perpetually, as it was in the last War, simply by air-raid alarms. Hours and hours of factory time were lost in the last war, I believe, despite the silly nature of air attacks in those days, by air-raid warnings, during which all the work ceased; and we must see that during air-raid warnings our industry in this country carries on.
Thirdly, and most important of all, is the organisation of the civilian population. If it is to be resistant to air attack, if we are to minimise losses, if we are to see that panic does not take place, there is really no time to be lost. I do not believe that Parliament will be doing its duty to the country unless it sees that this question of air-raid precautions, fully and effectively organised for the whole population, is really in working order before it adjourns in July for the Autumn Recess. I, for my part, cannot see how we are to get that organisation at all, and 1625 in any case how we are to get it in time, unless we have a universal emergency register. Whenever one mentions compulsory registration of any kind, one is called a conscriptionist. I do not care. I believe that one has got to face all the suspicion, all the prejudice, that is aroused, and argue now for this absolutely essential measure to be taken at once. I believe that there must be compiled a national emergency register, and that at the same time Parliament should enact a universal liability for service in air-raid defence, so that everybody can, at least in the places where the danger is greatest, be told off to what he should be doing in the case of attack, and undergo the very little training that is required for the services that will be necessary in an emergency.
The greatest need is, I believe, that of very large numbers of auxiliary police, special constables, of various kinds. The training required for them is not very great, but special constables, organised in units, in advance, ready to turn their hands to anything, will be the greatest need to prevent panic movements of the population, to control communications, to see that food supplies are going right, and to give people, what our police always manage to do in emergencies, confidence. If we are to get the numbers on democratic principles, and to get them fast, I believe that universal liability for that service should be laid down. With such a register, it would be possible at once to eliminate from those trained in anti-air raid services the whole of the Territorials. They should be cleared off, so that there would be no question of overlapping. Then there should be cleared off from air-raid services all men required in industry; they obviously should be exempt. When you had sorted out the register in that way, you would have what was left, and, after all, Germany at this moment has 12,000,000 of her civilian population trained—no wonder she is not frightened of air bombardment—and she has, I believe, inside those 12,000,000, a special 800,000 trained to lead and guide the rest.
That compulsory measure of universal liability is, I believe, absolutely necessary to establish the moral front that I want to see established in this country in the difficult times into which we are about to pass. I do not understand the fear of it in this country, because almost every 1626 other democracy in Europe has faced this necessity, and we are practically the only one that has not. There are Bulgaria, which is still prevented by the Peace Treaties, and Hungary, but if the Peace Treaties were torn up—and they will probably tear them up very soon—they would not be limited in that way. The only other countries in Europe which have not got universal liability of this kind are Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, the Vatican City, and Monte Carlo. Those are the four, and all the other democracies in Europe—Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland—have this liability. Why can we not have it here? How can we pretend that, by having it here, we should be in some way destroying our liberties or menacing our democratic ideals? Really, that kind of argument will not work. I realise to the full that we cannot get this universal liability, this compulsory registration, without the support and the approval of the working class and particularly of the trade unions. Therefore, I want, in this Defence Debate, to appeal to hon. Members above the gangway, who are, I think, quite rightly, from their point of view, appealing to the high moral principle in the European situation, to face the moral issue, and to see whether a measure of this kind cannot be taken by Parliament in the next few weeks, by agreement between all the parties, a process which would really show in Europe at the present time our united moral strength.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I am sure the House listened with great interest to the plea for compulsory service which has just been made by the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), and there can be no doubt that there is a great deal of logic in his argument. He rightly said that it would be impossible to carry out this proposal without the support of the working classes of this country and those who lead and advise them. I believe, so far as I understand their feelings, that there would be one condition which they would seek to impose before they would even consider the question of compulsory service in the form of conscription, and that would be that the same all-comprehensive measures which are applied to conscript the lives of the soldiers should be applied to conscript the wealth of the country.
§ Sir E. Grigg
The hon. Member surely understands that I am not arguing in favour of conscription in the sense of military service, but purely for non-military training, in order to deal with anti-aircraft defences?
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I well understand the distinction which the hon. Member seeks to draw, but I cannot accept that there is a great deal of difference between his statement and mine. He would divest the training of the actual weapon, and substitute a shovel, or a spade, or some other form of—
§ Mr. Garro Jones
—or truncheon, as my hon. Friend says, but I assure him that before either of those two proposals will be acceptable by the working classes of this country, they would want to remove from the back of their minds the conviction that, whereas the lives and the services of the people are to be taken, the same ruthlessness is never shown towards those who supply their wealth and their money, and until that situation is thoroughly cleared up, I think it will be a forlorn hope, certainly in peace time, to attempt to carry any measure of conscription through this country. I thought the hon. Member dealt with a very grim subject when he referred to the cartoon which he had seen in the German newspapers, which indicated their opinion that, in spite of the vast sums which we are spending on re-armament, we are not obtaining for that money the substance of security. I think if they were to rely too greatly on that supposition they would probably have a reckoning for the mistake.
The House ought to appreciate the fact that we are not getting as much for the money we are spending on armements as is being obtained in the dictator countries. The reasons for that are simple. In those countries, if they can house the producer and feed him, and obtain their raw materials, they deem themselves able to pay for any volume of armaments that the situation may require. They are not tied to any international currency system, they are not tied to any obligation to pay a profit to the manufacturers, and they are not tied to any necessity to settle what shall be paid for the armaments. Both in Italy 1628 and Germany the armaments factories are increasingly doing what the Governments tell them, and so long as the men are being fed and housed, that is all they require in order to produce the ever-increasing volume of armaments. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) tries to draw a comparison between the expenditure of this country and that of Germany, and to deduce from it the relative strengths and outputs, he is making a serious mistake, grave as he recognises the situation to be. So far as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping complained about the Government neglecting to give us full information, I believe he is thoroughly justified.
This White Paper, which is called "Statement relating to Defence," is really a device to quiet the minds of the public. It is completely silent on almost every essential question connected with the rearmament of the country. I want to read three sentences to indicate the type of information which is given to us in it. Here is one general statement:The difficulties hitherto encountered have been largely met and the rate of production is now rapidly increasing.Again,The stages of design and development are already ended, or are within sight of completion. The present year should see warlike stores of modern pattern in growing use.Again, reorganisationhas enabled new types of aircraft to be delivered to squadrons much earlier than would have been possible under the methods used in the past.None of these sentences means anything, and yet they form the substance of the reassurances which are offered in this White Paper. In regard to the sentence that the difficulties hitherto encountered have been largely met and that the rate of production is rapidly increasing, we know that one of the most vital raw materials is duralumin in sheet. It is betraying no secret to say that it takes nine months before any factory requiring duralumin in sheet can get it for the purpose of manufacturing air frames. How can the Government show themselves so colossally complacent in matters of this kind and try to pass on their complacency to the public?
I am sorry to say that the Prime Minister did not show himself willing to reply when I, with no motive other than 1629 the desire to face the reality of the situation, interrupted his speech to ask him whether he would give the House such information as he had regarding the front line strength of German aircraft. However much we may comfort ourselves with feeling that in a war of endurance we should be able to overcome all our enemies, that is not going to be the acid and immediate problem we shall have to solve if a calamity overtakes us. The hon. Member for Altrincham was right when he said that the truculence, the determination and the ruthlessness of the dictator Powers is based on their belief that by the sudden blow they can bring the democratic nations to their knees. If that, indeed, is to be the test, no amount of economic power, no amount of money power, no amount of raw materials in reserve will save us. I happened to be reading the other day an old story in which King Solon was invited by one Croesus to examine an enormous quantity of gold which he had in his store. Solon was asked what he thought of it, and he said, "If anyone comes with better iron than you this gold will be his." That is a fair illustration to indicate that if we are unable to withstand a sudden blow, not all our latent resources will be of any use to us.
In my view this White Paper is the culmination of a policy of suppressing vital information by the Government upon all questions of rearmament. I will give three or four examples, because it is important that we should be informed of the truth of the situation. I asked a few months ago whether I could be given the names of two steel firms chosen by the Government out of 40 firms which had all tendered precisely the same price for a contract. I asked to be given the names of two firms which had been chosen for their reputation and efficiency. The Government replied that it would not be in the public interest to give that information. I am unable to conceive what public interest would suffer, or what private interest would suffer, if the names of two firms chosen for their reputation and efficiency were given to the House so that we could see whether they were an effective safeguard against profiteering when 40 steel firms tendered the same price.
I then inquired, with a view to seeing whether an adequate amount of flying training was going on, what price we were 1630 paying for the enormous amount of oil that was being used by the mechanised services. The information was refused on the ground of public interest, notwithstanding the fact that other countries which have an equal regard for the sanctity of their military secrets can publish this information, and the fact also that only a year or two ago that information was given in the House. On yet another occasion I questioned the Government about the steps taken to organise a substitute for the Air Ministry in the event of its destruction by enemy aircraft—a most likely event that would probably be the first contingency to arise if there were a conflict. I was unable to be informed that there was an effective alternative. We are simply met by a non possumus attitude that refuses to give us any information at all.
I have a complaint to put forward even more strongly than that, because it is more serious. I inquired of the Post Office on 29th November what steps were being taken to ensure that the broadcasting services, with their tremendous importance in the event of a conflict, would be maintained if one or more stations happened to be destroyed. I was told by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Postmaster-General that it was not in the public interest to say what action His Majesty's Government intended to take in regard to the broadcasting service in the event of war. Whereupon I asked whether the Postmaster-General was in communication with the Minister for the Coordination of Defence. At that point my inquiries were forestalled by the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) letting the portcullis fall by asking what the B.B.C. did op the 7th May. I failed to get that information, but happening to read the "News Chronicle" one month later I found the complete story of what the B.B.C. would do in the event of war published under the signature of one of their broadcasting correspondents.
The article said that Colonel Stafford, a mystery man, had been seconded from the War Office to make preparations, that the preparations were complete; the name of the most recent transmitting station, which would be used in war time, was given, and the defensive preparations at each of the stations were given in full. That was information which it was said it would be contrary to the public interest 1631 to give in the House of Commons. That is only one example out of a dozen. How can we effectively carry out the duty of public criticism, which is the only substitute for the authoritarian direction of affairs in dictator countries, if the Ministers shelter themselves from public and Parliamentary criticisms on the plea of the public interest? I hope that it will not be necessary to raise this matter on any further occasion, but I can assure Ministers that I shall take whatever Parliamentary means are open to me on a future occasion to obtain information which it is in the public interest should be given and not concealed.
Now I want to put forward two suggestions—it is almost inevitable that we should offer one or two suggestions—and the first is in connection with the supply of oil. The White Paper says no word about oil, although everybody knows that under the mechanised system in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, we shall require 20 or 30 times as much oil as has ever been required before, even at the peak of our military operations. Both we and the French are in an equally difficult situation for obtaining that oil. One has only to look at the map of the world, and the sources of oil supplies, to see that all our efforts might be brought to nought, and the whole services of the Army, Navy and Air Force immobilised, if not paralysed, by a deficiency in the supply of oil. I want to ask whether it is not possible—I put this forward only as a suggestion, because I know it may be difficult to carry it out—to construct a pipe-line from the Western seaports, which are far less vulnerable to air attack than ports on the English Channel or on the East Coast. It sounds a very large task to construct a pipe-line—I do not know whether it could be carried under the Irish Sea, which would be an even greater task—but in the United States there are 90,000 miles of pipe-lines. They are not used to carry oil from the wells to the tideways, but an enormous number carry oil from the refineries to the market. I am not aware that there is a single pipeline in this country, although the amount of transport which would be saved if we had not to transport the oil the whole way to the English Channel, but could land it at western ports, make this a question to which the Government might well give attention.
1632 Finally, the Prime Minister said the issue would be decided in the narrow waters. I think that point has not even yet been fully appreciated by the country as a whole. We are producing less food, our lines of communication are more threatened, we have a smaller navy and that smaller navy has to face far greater perils, and unless the country as a whole realises that provision must be made against a sudden blow against the civil population and our communications in the narrow seas we are, indeed, in a grave peril. I hope that we may still be told by the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence what our position is in regard to front line strength, which is the most important of all the questions affecting the military situation.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Mabane
It is very clear that this Debate can be approached from two different angles. It is possible to deal with technical points in connection with Defence, or to relate the present scheme to the policy on which our Defence programme is founded. Some speakers have taken one course and some the other, but there are two Amendments on the Order Paper which demand an answer, and I shall do my best to approach the problem of Defence principally from the point of view of our general policy. There have been many suggestions from the other side that our Defence programme cannot be supported, at any rate by hon. and right hon. Members opposite, because our foreign policy has changed, but from my point of view this White Paper is a complete justification for the new initiative of the Prime Minister in the realm of foreign policy. Taken together with the Estimates it is, indeed, a staggering document. We have got used to millions, and we take them easily, but as I read through this White Paper and realised the burden it was going to place upon the country I realised too that it was almost impossible for the country to contemplate a burden of this character being borne almost indefinitely.
We have before us a paper which predicts an expenditure of £352,000,000 during the current year, and we know that unless something unforeseen happens the expenditure next year will be greater. The Prime Minister has told us that the expenditure in years ahead may be greater still. I would ask the House to 1633 compare that expenditure with the expenditure on armaments in the year 1913–14. In that year the country spent £77,000,000. Correct it for the change in values, and make it £115,000,000, and we still have a threefold increase in the expenditure on armaments. Let me put it in another way. In 1913–14 Defence cost us £1 15s. per head per year. In 1938–39 the cost is £7 16s. per head per year. Putting it perhaps even more strikingly, Defence to-day is costing £35 a year for each family in this country.
When we analyse those figures and compare them with past figures we realise the tremendous increase in the cost of modern methods of warfare. The fact that we are spending £352,000,000 this year does not mean that more people in this country are engaged in warlike pursuits. The personnel of the Forces is, indeed, smaller. There are fewer men enrolled in the Services than in 1914, notwithstanding that the Air Force has since come into being. In the year 1913 we had 796,000 men in the Regular and Territorial Armies and in the Navy, whereas in this year the figures in these Estimates show that we shall have only 531,000 men in the Regular and Territorial Armies, in the Navy and in the Air Force. Notwithstanding this enormous increase in expenditure we are not, by that measure, more militarised, but less.
I, therefore, say that if we are to continue to look forward to an expenditure of this kind, there is a bleak prospect ahead, and any initiative on the part of His Majesty's Government having for its effect a reduction in this burden of armaments ought to be supported. I was not in the least surprised when I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) supporting the new initiative of the Prime Minister. Clearly he wants a reduction in armaments, and he sees the way to reduction by a general appeasement and settlement in Europe. These figures do not represent the whole story, for we know to-day that in any war every citizen is embraced and that, in the language of General Ludendorff, a war to-day is a total war. We have been brought up in this country on the idea that war is carried on by our mercenaries. Some of us too easily use the words "We must send the Army," or "We must send the Navy," on this or that task, but we have 1634 to recognise that in any future war every man and woman, and indeed every child, will be concerned in one way or another. The very fact that we have the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, and this White Paper, are an indication that the change in the nature of war is being appreciated.
Yet notwithstanding what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley, I am satisfied that the nation demands Defence. I am certain also that, while it demands Defence, it demands a policy which will make possible relief from those burdens. I am satisfied that the new initiative taken by the Government is a policy which has for its object that general pacification from which alone general disarmament can flow. In the Amendment moved from the other side it is asserted that in the new initiative there is some change of policy. Very few Members opposite have seemed willing to refer to the Amendment, but it is on the Order Paper. We have observed from the efforts of the Opposition in the country that they are trying to persuade the country that there has been a striking change of policy. It is suggested that the Government have abandoned collective security. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An hon. Member says, "Hear, hear," but I looked up the Amendment moved from the Opposition Front Bench on the Second Reading of the Defence Loans Bill last year, and found these words:This House views with misgiving the massing of huge competitive national armaments without any constructive foreign policy based upon collective security under the League of Nations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1937; col. 2226, Vol. 320.]Does that indicate a change? How can the Opposition now accuse the Government of suddenly abandoning a policy which, in their own opinion, the Government were never pursuing? That quotation reveals the hollowness of the manner in which the Opposition are endeavouring to make party capital out of the situation I observed where the Opposition Liberals were on that occasion. [An HON MEMBER: "Where are they to-night?"] They were in the Lobby on that occasion in support of the Opposition Amendment I also observe that a questionnaire on this matter is being prepared by the organisation called the Council of Action. Had any opposition Liberals been present at this moment I would have asked them 1635 whether they approved of the questionnaire which is being submitted by the Council of Action. As two hon. Members of the Liberal Opposition have now come in perhaps I might read them the questionnaire which is being sent out by the Council of Action, and which, I understand, reads:Do you approve of Mr. Anthony Eden's stand for good faith in international affairs, and will you support his demand for the establishment of peace and security through the League of Nations?It is important to ask them whether they approve of that document. As there are no replies from them, I conclude that their minds are not yet made up.
§ Mr. Mander
The document expresses the true essence of the situation, although I myself should possible have worded it rather differently.
§ Mr. Mabane
Very well. Further, were the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) present I would ask him whether he would add to the questions one other question, which would be this:Do you approve of Mr. Lloyd George's declaration that the people of this country will never go to war again for an Austrian quarrel?Would that be a surprising question? I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten his speech of 18th June, 1936, when he said in this House:Austria? Well, Austria is always with us, always full of trouble. But there is one thing the people of this country have made up their minds definitely about. Whatever Government is in power it will never go to war again for an Austrian quarrel."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1936; col. 1226, Vol. 313.]Now he sends round a questionnaire like that. What is the good of his talking about international good faith?
I would approach the suggestion of a change of policy from another angle. I think that the foreign policy of this country was defined in a famous speech made at Leamington by the former Foreign Secretary. That speech was endorsed by Lord Baldwin in this House when he was Prime Minister on 18th February, 1937, and it was also quoted and endorsed in the Debate on the Defence Loan policy, by the present Prime Minister. That famous declaration is so well known that I will not worry the House by 1636 reading it, but I ask: Is there any conflict between the Leamington declaration and the recent statement—and indeed to-day's speech—by the Prime Minister? I have examined both speeches with the greatest care, and I think there is not. There is certainly no change in the text. Hon. Members might ask whether there is any change in interpretation, and for my own part I would say, "No." I do not think that the Prime Minister would say that there is any difference at all.
Duchess of Atholl
The hon. Member must remember that in the Leamington speech the right hon. Gentleman, after enumerating the countries on whose behalf we should act, went on to say:We may have to fight for them"—meaning countries who were members of the League. On the other hand, the Prime Minister said, I understand, that we had no obligations at all.
§ Mr. Mabane
I did not want to weary the House by repeating the words of the Leamington declaration, but I have them here. What the right hon. Gentleman said at Leamington was:In addition, our armaments may be used in bringing help to a victim of aggression in any case where in our judgment it would be proper under the provisions of the Covenant to do so. I use the word 'may' deliberately, since in such an instance there is no automatic obligation to take … action.I should be very surprised if the Prime Minister dissented from that declaration in any single word.
§ Mr. Mander
Did not the Prime Minister say that it would be wrong to lead any country to believe that they could rely upon the security of the Covenant of the League of Nations?
§ Mr. Mabane
I have tried to make my meaning clear. Having heard the Prime Minister and having read the document which we are discussing to-day, it is my view that there is no change of attitude. On that declaration, in the Debate last year, the Prime Minister asked the Opposition two "simple, straightforward, honest-to-God questions" about the matter. The Opposition did not answer those questions. The questions were:Do the Opposition consider that our arms should not be used for any of the purposes described? … Do they consider that our arms should be used for any purposes in addition to those which have been de- 1637 scribed? "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1937; col. 2221, Vol. 320.]On that day, and since, the Opposition have always failed and feared to face those two plain, straightforward questions. Instead, we have heard the repetition of a phrase which they have converted into a cant phrase, "collective security."
§ Mr. Mander
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but he has said that the Opposition will not answer certain questions. May I remind him that "may be used" should in our opinion be "will be used"?
§ Mr. Mabane
If the hon. Gentleman will look up the Debate last year, he will find that those questions were not answered. They are quite simple, straightforward questions. Is that a complete definition, or is it not? The hon. Gentleman says that it is not. Then perhaps he will at some time say in what further manner our armaments should be used. I think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley was very apposite in this connection, for on what does collective security depend? On force. We hear about the necessity of bringing overwhelming force against an aggressor. I think the Prime Minister hit the nail on the head when he said this afternoon that the Opposition's interpretation of collective security really meant little more than an alliance with those nations whom for the moment they liked, against those whom they for the moment they disliked.
In my view, and in the view, I think, of any sensible man, collective security cannot possibly depend upon force alone; quite clearly it depends on justice. The League of Nations Union frequently cites as an analogy for collective security the functions of the police, but I think that that is very wrong. Surely, the authority of a policeman is not derived from his truncheon, but from the fair verdicts which have been returned down the centuries by British juries. The League is in decline, and collective security is ineffective, because the League has not acted as a court of justice. I observe that for the first time in the Opposition Liberal Amendment the expression "collective justice" is added to the expression "colective security." But I also observe that the Leader of the Opposition Liberal party devoted not a single sentence to 1638 explaining why this sudden new thought has come into the minds of that party on the matter of foreign policy. I think that the maxim quoted some time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) gives a true view of the matter: The grievances of the vanquished he said, should be redressed before disarmament of the victors was begun. I myself, in a Debate on the Disarmament Conference in December, 1933, ventured to say:The real issue in a Debate on disarmament is not that of the armaments possessed by the nations of Europe, but the post-war settlement which prevents Europe from disarming.In my view the new initiative of the Prime Minister is an indication that at last this issue is going to be met and, I sincerely hope, dealt with. It has been complained that direct approaches will never serve the purpose, but I am very hopeful that these direct approaches will lead to that general settlement of Europe which alone will enable expenditure on armaments to be reduced.
I remember the negotiations with Germany in 1936. When, after the speech of the Chancellor in March of that year, a German peace plan was submitted to us on 31st March, many of us felt that a more direct approach might have succeeded in laying the foundation for a new European settlement; but, without wishing to be in any degree offensive to those who prepared the document, it seemed to me that the reply to the German peace plan was something in the nature of a crossword puzzle. The result was that there was no reply. If I may put it in simple language, I regard the new spirit as an end of that sort of diplomacy, as an attempt to cut through the punctilio and by more direct methods achieve a more rapid and more successful result. That is the only change that I can see, and it is a change, I believe, which may well result in a reduction of our expenditure on armaments. So far as I am concerned, it is a change which I am prepared to defend, and which, I believe, were the Opposition given their present demand for a general election, would secure the overwhelming support of the country. For it is an initiative which, if successful, may lead to a general European settlement and as a result, may enable the great burden which is now being borne upon the shoulders of the 1639 nation to be reduced, and reduced at the earliest possible moment.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) that this is merely a question of cutting through punctilio and coming to a more direct method of approach. Surely the hon. Member does not allege that the former Foreign Secretary severed his immediate connection with the Government on such a very small matter as that? If this is only a question of punctilio, it is rather remarkable that not only the former Foreign Secretary, but the former Under-Secretary—that is to say, the two experts on the subject—should have resigned on this particular matter. I must confess that I prefer to take their opinion of the seriousness of the event rather than that of the hon. Member. It is not a matter of punctilio at all; it is a very serious fundamental cleavage of ideas. I did not, however, rise to speak on that subject, but to refer to the portion of the Amendment which records the fact that the Government's policyfails to provide for effective co-ordination in strategy, administration and supply.In the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon various statements were made about the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy, and one or two words were said about air-raid precautions. He spoke also of munitions, to which reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). We heard nothing very much, however, about air-raid precautions, food storage, or any of those civilian services which are at least as important, especially from the standpoint of resistance to invasion, as the Fighting Services. It is rather disconcerting, and, indeed, alarming, to find that criticism can justifiably go to great lengths with regard to the Air Services. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping showed, there is certainly a deficiency in the Air Force. But, if there is a deficiency in the Air Force, there is a greater deficiency in the air-raid precautions service and in the food storage service, which latter, in fact, does not exist at all. If one is to measure the efficiency of the Fighting Services, of which I do not profess to have much intimate knowledge, by the efficiency of the service of which 1640 I can claim intimate knowledge, that is to say, the air-raid precautions service, the deficiencies in the Fighting Services must be very serious indeed, because at the present time—and the time has come in this Debate to speak quite plainly on the subject—the country is not at all ready as regards air-raid precautions. It is not ready because the Minister responsible has not given the necessary directions to the country.
It was all very well to pass the Air-Raids Precautions Act and lay the responsibility on the local authorities for taking certain precautions to protect the civil population, to protect property, and to protect public services, but the Minister, in addition to getting that Measure through the House of Commons, which he did with the concurrence of all quarters of the House, should deal with the question of laying down the lines of policy on which the powers given by that Act must be used. Until a definite plan of air-raid precautions has been indicated to local authorities, and some assistance given to them as to what they are and what they are not to do, it is impossible for them in practice to carry out the duties. The right hon. Gentleman probably knows that even the City of London at present have not appointed an air-raid precautions officer, because they have not been able to agree on his duties and qualifications. The City of London is not protected; in fact, no part of London is protected as it should be. The vital problems have not been considered.
I will refer only in passing to food storage. When there was a Debate in this House some time ago the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence made a reply which only convinced the House that no plans for food storage had been made. That is the fact. And with regard to air raid precautions I assert quite definitely and categorically that although plans have been considered and consultation taken with local authorities, plans of a general organisational kind were not made which should have been made. There are many matters which are matters not of equipment or training of volunteers or anything of that sort, but of Government policy, matters of administration. There has, for instance, been no system of air raid warnings arranged, and no general system of extinction of lights in the event of an air raid. There have been, also, no proper arrangements made with regard 1641 to the enlistment of volunteers. There will be required for the air-raid precautions services from 500,000 to 1,000,000 persons. How are they to be obtained? I am very sorry that neither the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence nor the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs is here at the moment, because they both know the facts of the case intimately and they know quite well that what I am saying is, unfortunately, true. Quite a number of other matters which are only matters of arrangement, have not been arranged.
With regard to storage of food, when the matter was raised the other day the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence—I do not say he put up somebody on the Government side, but at any rate somebody rose on the Government side, to talk about a perfectly ridiculous scheme for providing £1,200,000,000 worth of food, which no one considering this matter seriously would ever have considered doing. The fact is that one year's storage of food would cost about £5,000,000, the capital cost not being so important to calculate, as food is a consumable commodity, unlike tanks and guns. I think that when the Minister makes his reply he might tell the House whether any cold storage companies have been consulted about the matter, why only 10 per cent. of the accommodation of cold storage companies is being used, what is being done with the rest and why the statement has been made that foods cannot be stored. I have made inquiries from those best qualified to give information, and I find that the amount of fats required for one year's storage can be obtained and can be stored with comparative ease. There is also not so much difficulty about other kinds of food as the Minister led the House to believe.
The whole question of the alternation of ports and the diversion of traffic from one area to another has not been adequately considered, not to mention a whole series of other important questions. The Minister for the Coordination of Defence can, with his great abilities, co-ordinate services which exist; he can co-ordinate the Army, the Navy and the Air Force; but, with all respect to his great abilities, he cannot co-ordinate services that do not exist; and there is no service which deals with food storage unless that which he has himself improvised. With regard to air-raid precautions, it is true that the 1642 Under-Secretary for Home Affairs is particularly concerned with that branch of. Defence; but the Home Office is the most over-burdened Ministry of State, and it would certainly be much better if air-raid precautions were looked after by some Minister who is not so fully employed—one might say, over-employed.
Then there is the whole question of the arrangement of transport in time of war, including not only trains and lorries but private motor vehicles, and the question of the supply of oil and of coal. None of these can be co-ordinated by the Minister because they are spread over so wide an administrative field. This matter will not be adequately dealt with, and the Minister will not have an adequate chance of exercising the abilities he possesses, unless air-raid precautions, food storage, transport of various kinds, including the very important service of evacuating all civilians from threatened areas, and other cognate matters are placed under the control of a Minister of Passive Defence. Passive Defence—that is to say, the organisation of services which will enable the civilian population to resist and endure an air attack—is at least as important as the balloon barrage, anti-aircraft guns and other matters of that kind, and it has the incalculable advantage of being considerably cheaper than all these things, done properly. At present, it is not done properly. No proper outline plan has been given to the country, and the local authorities are left in the very greatest difficulties.
If this Ministry of Passive Defence were formed, the whole matter would be able to go forward much more quickly, and it would give the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence a real opportunity to understand and knit together the factors of the problem affecting particularly the civilian population, which at present are spread over so wide a field that it is impossible for him to do it. I am tempted to diverge into a still wider field and deal with the question of economic appeasement, the economic organisation of the world referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury); but I only mention that to say that we on this side are most emphatically in favour of economic justice to the world, and that we most emphatically believe that it is lack of this economic justice which is the root-cause 1643 of the difficulties of the world at the present time.
The attempt to get patchwork agreements with those who have frequently dishonoured their pledged word in the past is not a way that attracts us as a method of economic appeasement, or of political appeasement. When we find, in the sphere of foreign affairs, that the expert is discharged from his job in order that the amateur may take over, and when we see, on considering the Army, the Air Force and the Navy in detail, how deficient the organisation is, we find ourselves thoroughly justified in having put down the Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the Labour party, and all of us will vote for that Amendment with sincerity and with conviction.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) beyond saying that I deplore any tendency to introduce a spirit of party politics into this vitally important question. Each of us can find a lot to criticise in the attitude of others.
§ Mr. Nicholson
If this question is to be dealt with as it ought to be, and the situation is as grave as we all appear to think it is, the sooner we leave party politics out of it the better. I admit that I find the position exceedingly disquieting, apart altogether from the facts which have arisen in the course of this Debate. We have had a series of speeches culminating in the magnificent speech of the Prime Minister to-day, which is a declaration of policy such as this country and Europe have awaited for many months. It will be most helpful in the cause of appeasement. We have had the White Paper on Defence, which is reassuring and speaks of the very good work achieved on all sides, especially by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. But what I find disquieting is that it is almost impossible to get at actual facts and figures and, what is even more important, at the comparative figures of the armaments of other Powers, either in speeches or in the White Paper. That would be a disquieting aspect at any time, but it is particularly disquieting 1644 in view of the re-orientation of our foreign policy which was adopted a fortnight ago.
May I say, in parenthesis, that though I voted rather reluctantly for the Government a fortnight ago, every day that has gone by has made me ashamed of that reluctance and more and more convinced that the Government are following the only possible policy. I am convinced of that without any regard to the prospect of its success or failure. Particularly am I convinced that it is right because this is the first time in recent years that we have tried to look at things from our opponents' point of view instead of adopting what I believe is the perfectly right and sound attitude, but which other people may think is a self-righteous attitude of waiting for them to come and confess their sins.
I think the new policy is right, and the country thinks so too and will do so increasingly. It is a policy of definition. It not only forces us to face the facts but it forces the facts upon us. It was this facing of the facts which made the Government initiate their new orientation of policy, for they say that in a very short time we might find ourselves at war with Germany, Italy and possibly Japan, aided only by France. What I am trying to lead up to is that, if this effort fails and the negotiations break down, a great war on the Continent from being a possibility will become a probability. I do not believe that either this House or the country is sufficiently allowing itself to face the appalling consequences of a possible breakdown of negotiations. As I see it, quite definitely within the next few months or perhaps few weeks, we shall know what fate has in store for us; and being a democracy we must prepare the electorate for what may come in the realm of Defence preparations. If negotiations break down, it may well be necessary to put this country upon a war footing.
Will the hon. Gentleman explain why a breakdown of the negotiations with Italy should cause a war.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I did not say that it would cause a war. If the hon. Gentleman had been listening he would have noted that I said that a great war on the Continent from being a possibility would become a probability.
§ Mr. Nicholson
It is a considerable emendation. If we fail to come to an accommodation with Italy, rendering her at the worst neutral and at the best a potential ally; if we fail to do what we are attempting to do, namely, to break the Rome-Berlin alliance, then I say the position will be menacing. If hon. Members opposite do not regard this as menacing, I must admit that I do. I turn to the question of facts and figures. At present on these questions the ignorance of the electorate is appalling. We have hon. Members opposite as well as less informed people throughout the country suggesting that collective security even at this stage can provide a sufficient answer to the German menace, and that the united forces of the States which border on Germany can overcome Germany in the event of aggression. If the House will bear with me for a few minutes I will give a few figures. I will not touch upon naval figures, because they are easy to find. Air figures are more speculative, especially those of potential industrial production. It must be borne in mind that the experience of the last War has shown that it is necessary to be able to reproduce a whole air force once every month if it is to be kept in the field in a state of efficiency. I do not accept the rather pessimistic figures of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). I think that there are well qualified people who are of the opinion that our Air Force even now is superior to that of Germany or at any rate equal to it.
I want to turn the attention of the House to the figures of the military forces of the chief Powers on the Continent. I have made inquiries in quarters which I consider to be exceedingly reliable. I give these figures in order that they may either be contradicted or substantiated, and because I believe that the people should be told the truth with as many facts and figures as possible. On the 16th March, 1935, Herr Hitler said that the German army would consist of 36 divisions. Since then it has become known that there are four armoured divisions which are unique in the world. They are different from mobile divisions. They are armoured divisions in the sense that they are tank divisions. They form in this a unique and almost overwhelming force. Of the 36 other divisions, from four to six are motorised, that is, they are capable 1646 of rapid transport from place to place, without being what are technically called mobile divisions. It is generally assumed that the first line forces of the German army consist of 700,000 men. Now if one compares the pre-War German military policy and the pre-War military machine, and takes all the other evidence into consideration, it is safe to say that each one of these divisions will have two divisions dependent upon it. I believe, therefore, that it is safe to assume that the 700,000 will not be duplicated, but will be triplicated, and that it is possibly triplicated already. These figures are exceedingly serious. I do not believe that the electorate in this country are aware of them. One has also to bear in mind the vast reserves of the army. If you go into Germany you will see every man in uniform. Preliminary training is done in the labour camps and the Hitler Jugend, saving about from two to three months training in the event of mobilisation.
The French Army consists of 20 divisions, which admittedly are good ones. As for the Italian Army, the metropolitan army consists of 37 divisions; and there are four divisions in Libya, and 15,000 Colonial troops. Of the four divisions in Libya, two are motorised, and it is in them that lies the menace to Egypt, since much of the desert between Libya and Egypt is of such a nature that it can be motored over. Those two divisions constitute a striking force which is a real threat to Egypt. There is one division in Abyssinia, and in addition there are 39,000 men in Spain. Three of the Italian divisions are fully mobile divisions, and not merely motorised. We know the figures for our own Forces. What are we to think about them? Of what will the next British Expeditionary Force consist? How many divisions could we put on the Continent of Europe in the event of another war, even at six weeks notice? What is still more serious is that the very function of the Army is not decided upon.
I think all those things should be explained to the electorate. It should be explained that in the event of war, we cannot limit our liability to a small token force fighting on this front or on that front. Moreover, in conjunction with the figures which I have given, we are faced by the central position of Germany and 1647 by the German strategy based on the fine old principle of the concentration of the maximum force at a given place at a given moment. I maintain that the figures and the position generally should be made known to the electorate. I do not wish to bring party politics into this question, but I cannot help feeling that if the plain figures are laid before the people of this country, they must see that it is purely chimerical to claim at this stage that collective security can be so organised that it is a sure refuge, or indeed even a practicable alternative to the policy of large armaments.
I find the situation exceedingly disquieting, and I feel that it gives us cause to believe that our present rate of rearmament should be accelerated and that we should husband our economic resources. I have been horrified to see in a Budget forecast that we shall spend £22,000,000 on roads during the coming year, when it is possible that in order to achieve a reasonable rearamament programme, we may have to go beyond anything we can afford, and even take skilled men out of industry. I hesitate to say fully what is in my mind, but in effect we may have to put the country on a war footing if we are to maintain peace and security. I urge upon my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence that the Government should do their best to enlighten the voters by giving them bare facts and figures and the plain truth, and above all that they should accelerate our rearamament policy.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks
The hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. G. Nicholson) said that the Prime Minister's speech was a great declaration to Europe, but I confess that that speech had the opposite effect upon me, for I thought it was a very disastrous declaration. There was a series of sentences in it which were so cynical and dangerous that they might even have been composed by Herr von Ribbentrop. When such statements are made and broadcast throughout Europe, they may have a very dangerous and disastrous effect. The right hon. Gentleman's speech convinced me that, as is stated in the Amendment, which I support, the policy of the Government is dangerous and unsound. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) said that we must not magnify the difference 1648 between those who believe in collective security and the League of Nations and those who believe in the policy of the Government; but after the speech of the Prime Minister, I do not think it is possible to magnify that difference too much, because the Prime Minister showed clearly that, in the present situation of the world, he had no further use for the League of Nations and the principle of collective security. The right hon. Gentleman swept away the hopes held by a whole generation of people that by the institution of a system of collective security, by maintaining the sanctity of treaties and by seeing that disputes between nations are settled peacefully within the framework of collective security, a war such as occurred 24 years ago should not come again.
But there are people and statesmen who do not think that this conception is unpractical even to-day. On 1st January this year, General Smuts, in his New Year's message to the world, said that the conception of the League of Nations is the most realistic vision yet seen in the affairs of the world. On 31st December last year, Dr. Goebbels, in Germany, made a speech in which he said that the League must die. On the following day, General Smuts said that the League must live. It is for the House to decide which of those two ideas it will follow. It seems to me that the Prime Minister stands by the idea of Dr. Goebbels, for he has stated that the League is mutilated, and now he is going to have conversations with those who mutilated it. We know very well that the policy of Germany is to destroy the League; Germany not only wants to destroy the whole conception of collective security, but she wants other nations to resign from the League as she has done. I understand, for instance, that money has been expended in South America to induce small nations voluntarily to leave the League. In his speech to-day the Prime Minister told the world that small nations, if they are attacked, need hope for no further protection from the League or from collective security, and by telling them that, he told them that they might as well leave the League altogether, because it will give no help to them. Thus, the Prime Minister is supporting the policy of Herr Hitler.
I agree with the hon. Member for Farnham that there is cause for alarm in the present state of the world. Europe is 1649 under a great shadow which is darkening every day. Owing to the aggressive tendencies of certain Powers and the utterances of certain rulers, the danger of war seems very real and imminent. If the Prime Minister thinks that by taking this new initiative, by cutting through old diplomatic methods and leaving aside for a certain time the experience of the Foreign Office, it is possible to bring about some reconciliation and a state of peace based upon a just settlement, I agree with the hon. Member for Farnham that one cannot blame the right hon. Gentleman; but I feel that when one considers the Machiavellian policy which has been pursued by Signor Mussolini in the past, and the whole development of his methods of diplomacy during the last few years, not only is this attempt bound to fail, but the approach at the present time to this statesman is extremely dangerous. I remember reading an interesting account only a fortnight ago in one of the papers about the Prime Minister's early attempt at commerce in the West Indies in growing sisal. Having grown that crop, he found it suddenly faded away and died, because the plants had exhausted the very thin layer of soil in which they were planted, and there was no hope or remedy. I feel that the Prime Minister is planting in a very thin soil at the present time, and I do not think there is very much prospect of his bringing back a harvest of peace.
I want to give certain examples of the methods that have been employed by Signor Mussolini. He has given two examples in recent years, the first in the case of Abyssinia and the second in the case of Spain, and in both cases his methods were exactly the same. After all, Abyssinia was attacked. It was one of the most cold-blooded attacks in history, for we know that not only was Abyssinia a fellow-Member of the League, but she was actually introduced into the League by Italy herself. Only 10 years ago, in 1928, a treaty of amity and arbitration was entered into between Italy and Abyssinia, providing for perpetual peace between those two nations and pledging each government not to engage under any pretext in any action calculated to endanger the other. That was in 1928 only. We know now from the books published by Marshal Badoglio and Marshal de Bono that in 1932 Signor Mussolini gave orders to prepare war in Abyssinia. The 1650 preparations were secret, and the date of the attack was provisionally fixed. In 1934, before the Wal-Wal incident, the Italian Government confirmed their decision to cultivate friendly relations with Abyssinia. In the following January, after that frontier incident, the Abyssinian Chargé d'Affairs was received by Signor Mussolini in Rome and was assured that Italy had not the slightest idea of attacking Abyssinia. However troops were sent out to the Italian colonies adjoining Abyssinia, and when Italy's attention was called to that by the British Government on 17th March—the date is rather interesting—the Italian Government assured the British Government that the troop movements were purely precautionary and that a solution would be sought on the basis of moderation and peace. I say the date is interesting because we know now from those books that nine days before Signor Mussolini had told Marshal de Bono the attack would be made in October with an army of 300,000 men and 300 to 500 aeroplanes. Then when the League finally took up the matter the ruler of Italy employed all the devices and arts of Italian diplomacy to prolong discussion and delay decision until the hour arrived to strike and blot out the liberties of the last independent African State with poison gas. He flouted the League and broke his word, won the victory, and, in my view, lost his honour.
Take the case of Spain. Three days after the sanctions were taken off Italy the Franco rebellion, which was assisted from the beginning by Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, broke out in Spain. Exactly the same tactics were employed. The British and French Governments proposed a policy of non-intervention. Germany and Italy agreed. On 28th August, 1936, both agreed to abandon the export of arms to Spain. On 15th February, 1937, both agreed to a ban on the sending of volunteers to Spain. To make the hypocrisy more complete, Signor Mussolini issued a decree stating that any Italian who dared to leave Italy to fight in Spain would be committing an offence and would be subject to a penalty of three months' to one year's imprisonment. And yet all the time, as we all know, assisted by Germany, he had been pouring munitions and men into Spain in a continuous stream—not merely volunteers, but whole divisions under 1651 their generals and officers. Then when the Committee for Non-intervention was set up, exactly the same tactics were employed as in the case of Abyssinia—interminable discussion and nothing done. There were many adjournments, and everything was done to delay progress. That committee has been meeting now for a year and a-half and has held nearly 100 meetings, and not a single thing has been done either to prevent men and munitions going into Spain or to get out of Spain the men and munitions already there.
In the interval pirate submarines have been sent out to sink British shipping and other people's shipping—submarines which never dared leave harbour during the last war. In both cases the same methods and technique have been employed. Everything has been done to prevent progress until certain things were accomplished—in the first case the conquest of Abyssinia, and in the second case the possible, or the hoped for, victory of General Franco in Spain. Seeing that Signor Mussolini had not kept his promise to prevent arms or men being sent to Spain, and has certainly not kept his promise to stop propaganda in the Far East, it seems to me that the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was perfectly right, not in saying that Italy should come in a white sheet and sit on the penitent form, but merely that it should be asked to keep the promises which it had made and was breaking before we entered into other discussions leading to other promises, which might equally be broken.
Another point I want to make is this: I do not believe a word of those promises made to withdraw troops from Spain. On 1st July Signor Mussolini made a speech in which he said: "Volunteers will not be withdrawn. The last word will be spoken by the guns." On the 24th September he went to Berlin and there was a meeting between Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler. The object was to strengthen the Berlin-Rome axis. Certain engagements were entered into. What were those engagements? On 6th November the "National Zeitung," a paper in Germany owned by Field-Marshal Goering, said, "The time will soon come when we shall put into execution the agreement made in Berlin between Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini 1652 —to the former Central Europe, to the latter, Spain."
§ Sir Patrick Hannon
On a point of Order. Hon. Members are a little vague as to the line of argument of the hon. Member. I understand that we are discussing a Motion by the Prime Minister that the contents of the White Paper shall be approved by the House, and the hon. Member is discussing the situation in Spain and all over Europe.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)
The course of the Debate, with the general assent of the House, has gone considerably outside the Question on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Cocks
We are also discussing the Amendment of the Opposition which refers to the dangers of the unsound foreign policy of the Government, and it was to that aspect of the Amendment to which I was referring. I do not know whether the hon. Member has been in the House during the whole course of the Debate, but several criticisms have already been made on these lines before I rose. On 20th February, the very day of the resignation of the late Foreign Secretary, Herr Hitler, after expelling the moderates from the leadership of the German army and taking the extremists into his counsels, after sending an ultimatum to Austria and making her a vassal State, made a speech in which he attacked the League of Nations, demanded the return of colonies without any quid pro quo, threatened Czechoslavia, recognised Manchukuo, cheered Japan, for the good work which he said she was doing in China, cheered General Franco in Spain, cheered German and Italian co-operation as far as Spain was concerned, and ended by saying:Italy and I have the same objectives. It is to secure a national Spain in complete independence.After such a declaration how can the Prime Minister expect to get a general settlement on Spain except on terms which assure the victory for General Franco and the National party?
§ Captain McEwen
The hon. Member is talking about the withdrawal of troops. I presume he is aware that Italy and Germany were the first to suggest the withdrawal of volunteers, and that the proposal was turned down by ourselves and France?
§ Mr. Macquisten
Volunteers are all right when they are on the Government side in Spain. If volunteers support General Franco it is very wrong.
§ Mr. Cocks
My point—if the hon. and learned Member would listen to my argument—has nothing to do with the merits or the demerits of the war in Spain, but that the dictators with whom we are proposing to negotiate have not been keeping their word. That is the whole point. I think the Prime Minister rather misrepresented the attitude of his critics when he said we wanted Italy to make an act of penitence. All that we want is that promises shall be kept. We have been asked whether we meant that we should not carry on conversations until Italy has withdrawn from Abyssinia. That is not the point. Italy has never promised to withdraw from Abyssinia, but she has promised to withdraw from Spain and has not kept her promise. The Prime Minister has said that a great country can afford to be magnanimous. So she can; but not at the expense of other countries. We cannot afford to be magnanimous at the expense of Abyssinia, Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, or at the expense of international confidence and good faith. A great country cannot afford to bow to the bully or surrender to the tyrant. I was glad that the Prime Minister said he intended to continue our friendship with France. That means that he does not at present intend to withdraw from our frontier upon the Rhine, but I think the Prime Minister by his policy is sending considerable moral reinforcements to the Elbe and the Tiber. When the Prime Minister says that he intends to pursue a policy of friendship with France I am not sure whether the France he means is not the France of M. Laval, a very small and discredited France indeed. The policy of the Prime Minister is identical with the policy pursued by M. Laval, which was to make friends with Italy and Germany by unilateral agreements ignoring the principles of the League. They failed. In a book which, I understand, has had a large circulation in this country during the last few weeks "Blackmail or War" a well-known French writer says: 1654The great danger of M. Laval's policy lay precisely in the fact that it seemed sound and logical to the general public, which had no proper knowledge of the points at issue and were only given muddled accounts. It was a plausible kind of policy which shirked the root of the matter, the lessons of history and the necessities of geography in favour of window dressing and appeal to sentiment. It is a matter of common knowledge that Napoleon III paid heavily for just such a weak-kneed policy as this.Alter the name of Laval to the name of the Prime Minister and you have an exact description, in my view, of the policy pursued by His Majesty's Government. We know with regret that the policy of M. Laval was followed by the invasion of Abyssinia, and I only hope that the sequel to the Prime Minister's policy will not be the invasion of Czechoslovakia. I notice that the Minister of Agriculture who was speaking in the country yesterday said that the Government were not afraid of anybody. He said:When I look round at the faces of my colleagues I think that he is a very bold man who should think he could easily frighten them.I have looked at the faces of hon. and right hon. Members opposite and I do not think the answer is completed. It may be that we have been mistaken. It may be that the Minister of Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Members of the Government have features cast in the heroic mould, that they are "tough, mighty tough, in the West," just the type of people who held the impregnable squares at Waterloo. I have tried to imagine the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a white charger, his face grimed with gunpowder, a broken sword in his hand, and shouting, "See how a Marshal of France dies on the battlefield." I cannot picture that, but perhaps my imagination is somewhat defective. When I look at the faces on the Government Bench I am more reminded of a statement made by, I think, the Duke of Wellington:I do not know how they affect the enemy, but by God they frighten me.It is more than the valour of His Majesty's Ministers which is at stake. The whole principles of international justice and the League of Nations are at stake. The serious point is this: There has been formed by three countries, Germany, Italy and Japan, what is called an anti-comintern pact. In my view this is directed as much against Geneva as 1655 against Moscow. It is directed as much against collective security as against Communism. All these countries have resigned from the League. They are denouncing the League. They are recognising each other's conquests and supporting each others claims—for Japan, China; for Germany, Central Europe; for Italy, the shores of the Mediterranean. They have now engaged in a violent campaign against the League, to tear up the Covenant and destroy collective security. And why? In order that the will of the stronger may prevail in future disputes—that the mailed fist and the jack-boot and the will of the strongest-armed nation—in modem language, the one with clouds of poison gas, and the will to use them ruthlessly, shall succeed in the world to-day. There is a danger that the world may think that the Prime Minister has joined that campaign because the right hon. Gentleman in his speech to-day encouraged the small nations to disbelieve in the League, telling them they need no longer expect any defence from the League. I do not think this is the time to leave the League. Surely this is the time for us to rally round the Covenant and get all the help we can from the nations who still belong to the League, and whose resources are great. Surely it is time for us to rally together in a final effort to stand for the principles of international justice against aggression. By so doing, I believe we may save the world from barbarism and from war.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes
When a Motion to call attention to food storage was moved by the Opposition on 9th February three hon. Gentlemen opposite paid me the compliment of saying they would like to hear my views on the subject in relation to naval strategy and Defence. But they left me no time and gave me no opportunity to state my views, though I had to listen to long speeches by people who knew nothing about the subject. This evening I have been listening to the last speaker's remarks on foreign affairs which had very little to do with Defence, though it may have something to do with the Amendment. I have some claims to speak on this subject. During the last months of 1917 when the food question was very critical I was Director of Plans at the Admiralty and our energies were directed 1656 to devising means of defeating the submarine menace which threatened to overwhelm us. In the early months of 1918 every ton of shipping from overseas that entered the Port of London through the Channel passed through my command, the Dover Patrol, which was the nearest area to the enemy. Vitally important cargoes were subjected to great dangers and risks there, and the development of air bombing would of course add greatly to the risks which shipping would run in narrow seas and at focal points.
During the first and most critical months of 1918 I had a powerful naval air service under my command which absolutely dominated the Air Forces of the enemy within reach of the Channel ports and the approaches to the Port of London, during daylight hours. I do not think any ships suffered from daylight bombing. Such aerial attacks as the enemy could make at night on darkened ships and ports were not very effective. It is true they killed non-combatants in congested areas but, from the military point of view, they achieved very little. Whether the development of aerial bombing will or will not be counteracted by the development of air defence remains to be seen. There can be no question whatever that the transferring of as much trade as possible from the congested ports of London to the less exposed ports in the West of England is now a matter of vital importance. When things were at their worst in 1918 I urged the diversion of trade to the Western ports but I was told those ports could not berth any more ships and that it would be impossible to unload or distribute any additional imports.
I welcome, therefore, the statement in paragraph 19 of the White Paper, but I cannot help wondering how much is being done and when the schemes that have been prepared will be put into action, without which there would be a very dangerous interim should war be forced upon us. While food storage and greatly increased production of home-grown food cannot be an alternative to a strong Navy and an efficient and sufficient Mercantile Marine, the more food that can be stored and produced, the more freedom there will be for the Navy to exercise its proper function at the outset of war, namely, to destroy the enemy's sea communications and to seek and destroy his sea forces or 1657 contain them. During this period, until we have command of the seas, our sadly depleted Mercantile Marine should not be unduly risked. In the course of the Debate to which I have referred, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence made a statement, I believe, on the strength of a report from the Liverpool Shipowners' Association, to the effect that the cargo-carrying capacity of the Mercantile Marine was as effective as in 1914. With the greatest respect to the right hon. Gentleman, whom I admire for his devoted service in undertaking his thankless task, I do not share that view. Neither does the merchant service, and it is certainly not borne out by statistics.
I do not propose to quote statistics now, but any hon. Members who are interested in the subject should read two interesting letters which appeared in the "Times" on 1st and 2nd March last. The last letter was written by Sir Archibald Hurd, who was official historian of the Mercantile Marine in the War. He gave incontestable figures to show that the merchant navy has declined and is inadequate for the transport of Britain's food in war under the conditions which we may expect. He concluded his letter by reminding us that there are 4,000,000 more people to feed in this island. I would like to say a good deal more on that subject, but I promised to finish my speech before 10 o'clock. I have not followed hon. Members opposite in their excursions into foreign affairs, but I would conclude by mentioning that during my career I have been naval attache in four countries in Europe and made many friends in foreign nations. Curiously enough I had a letter this morning from one who rendered distinguished service to his country when Yugoslavia became an independent State. His letter is so apt to this Debate that I venture to give a quotation from it:I follow England's splendid rearmament on sea, land and air with great interest. It may sound funny and you may not believe me, but I feel like shouting 'Hurrah' with every new British ship and I have the impression that in the present critical situation every such ship should be considered as one more guarantee of the maintenance of peace so necessary especially to small nations such as we are. The world War destroyed the idea of international law pacts and treaties and therewith a good deal of moral and now a new war would undoubtedly throw civilisation back a thousand years.All I can say is thank heavens the Socialist Opposition is not in a position 1658 to commit this country to a foreign policy which would be bound to lead to a war and which would place a terrific burden on the personnel of the fighting forces if war were forced upon us before the rearmament for which we are voting to-night could be carried into effect. That rearmament has been opposed at every turn by the Opposition, and I suppose they will oppose it again to-night.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
The hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Sir R. Keyes) made a very interesting contribution to the Debate, and I was particularly interested in his quotation from his correspondent in Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, that correspondent was apparently unaware of the Prime Minister's declaration that henceforward the small nations could not look to the League for any support. I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Member because he has brought the Debate back to the subject of Defence. In March, 1936, Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, said:Defence requirements and foreign policy are so closely and so firmly inter-related that one cannot be considered apart from the other."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1936; col. 1827, Vol. 309.]That is true, but it does not mean that in a Debate on Defence we should not hear something about Defence, and this is the first time that a Minister opening a Debate on a Defence White Paper has said hardly anything about Defence. I remember long allocutions by the previous Prime Minister and by the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, but no one would have guessed from the Prime Minister's speech to-day that he was chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence. He dealt with one Defence item only, and that was the question of air parity, and then went on to make a merely partisan political speech. He told us a great deal about democracy. He said it could make mistakes, but that there are limits to the mistakes which it can make—just as there are limits to the mistakes which a Prime Minister can make. He seemed mainly to be endeavouring to correct the mistakes of his previous speeches on foreign affairs a few days ago. I think he only made another mistake as I shall show before we come to the end of the Debate.
I wish, however, to return to the White Paper. After all, we have a White Paper 1659 before us though few Members have alluded to it. Those who have done so have been rather doubtful about its contents and about whether things are going on just as well as it represents. The Prime Minister dealt with the question of air parity and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) said that the abandonment of that standard of air parity raised doubts in his mind. I confess that is precisely how it strikes me. In all the Debates we have had, there have been great interchanges between Ministers and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping on this subject and that has always been taken as a standard. Why has it been abandoned? I am not at all satisfied about the position of the Air Force. I shall have more to say about it on the Air Estimates, but I think we should have some reply to-night as to the provision which has already been made. We are given figures as to the provision of a certain number of aeroplanes, in a certain number of squadrons. I should like to know whether those are aeroplanes fitted for service now, with modern instruments and modern weapons.
I was rather suspicious when we got that idea of the number of aeroplanes, and I was more suspicious the longer the Prime Minister continued. It seems to me that he excused himself too much. He began by referring to reserve aeroplanes and then to reserve potentials, and so we went on and on, until we almost got back to the earliest days of this country. I do not think I am much more satisfied when I look at the White Paper. I do not know whether any hon. Members have examined the series of four White Papers to see what progress has been made. It is worth considering. I think it will be found that the War Office goose-step starts in March, 1935, with the statement that the Army required to be modernised by the provision of up-to-date equipment. A year passes by and in March, 1936, it is discovered to be urgently necessary that Army formations should be equipped with the most up-to-date arms and materials. In February, 1937 "Steps are now in active progress"—goose-steps, I suppose. In March, 1938:In the production of nearly all the major articles of armament and equipment for which new designs are being adopted the 1660 stages of design and development are already ended or are within sight of completion,and a hope is expressed that some time this year some of these warlike stores will actually be in growing use. Let us look at the Home Office and Air-Raid Precautions. On 30th July, 1934, His Majesty's Government decided to take steps to protect the civil population. In May, 1935, we got the Air-Raid Precautions Department established. In February, 1937, the preparation of local schemes of air-raid precautions and the organisation of the necessary personnel were being undertaken on an increasing scale. Finally, we have the present White Paper, in February, 1938, in which a triumphant note is struck:The local authorities have already received information on the matters which they should include in their schemes.I was not surprised at the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth being a little disturbed. I think he must have been reading all these White Papers with great care, because if you look at the terminology of paragraph 39 of the White Paper, you will find just those same things that indicate that something may be done three or four years hence:Schemes are being prepared to ensure the sufficiency and operation of the various transport services. … The maintenance of adequate supplies of food and feeding stuffs … has occupied a prominent place in the work.Everything seems to be thought of, but nothing seems to be done, and this White Paper is one of the most woolly documents I have ever seen. The composition of it does not suggest that there is a master mind behind it. Take another thing, the balloon barrage. Shortly, they are actually going to find recruits to man it. All these things suggest that there is not that kind of vigorous pushing-on which we are told is necessary.
I want to turn now to a matter which has been rather left out of this Debate. We have had nothing whatever with regard to the co-ordination of strategy. We have had speeches on this before. Lord Baldwin spoke on it, but the Prime Minister to-day said nothing at all about it, and the White Paper says nothing. It refers us back to the last White Paper and the White Paper before that, and it makes the amazing statement thatthe essential features of the policy underlying the Defence programme remain unchanged.1661 They do not. They have been altered very seriously. The principles were laid down in 1935. That was before the election:The objective of the foreign policy of the United Kingdom and the end to which every endeavour is being steadfastly and continuously directed may be summed up in one sentence: to secure peace for the peoples of the British Empire and for the nations of the world, and the means of obtaining that objective are collective security and friendship.Collective security has now gone. The objective of the armament programme was set out. The first objective of all was to fulfil our obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations. Those obligations have gone now. The Prime Minister has told us that the small nations cannot look for protection under the Covenant of the League of Nations. If the small ones cannot look, the big ones cannot look either. The hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. G. Nicholson) quite rightly talked about a reorientation of policy. We should really look a little into the basis of our defence policy, because we were entitled at the time these White Papers were put out first of all to regard collective security as a reality. It meant that this country had accepted certain responsibilities and gained from it certain advantages. It gave us very big obligations, it is true, but at all events there was a fixed point at which we could say, "We are building up our armaments for a definite purpose, to serve a system of collective security of which we are members, and we can look to the support of the League."
That has gone now. We have left collective security altogether. We have now embarked on a system of alliances, and the Prime Minister told us that we have to think of our Allies. It is new for us in these Debates to have our Allies talked of. Those Allies are not specified. Is a new Ally to be Signor Mussolini? Is it to be Herr Hitler? Are we to join together under the banner of the swastika, or will it be the double cross? The only thing that stands is Locarno, and we have already got Belgium talking of neutrality. I want this House to realise that it is a dangerous adventure on which the Prime Minister is embarking. He is again playing the game of the balance of power, but in conditions very different from those in which it was played in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. You are embarking now on a system of alliances in a very 1662 heavily armed world, with an intensely vulnerable Great Britain, vulnerable since the advent of the air force, with commitments all over the world, and we have had no exposition whatever from the Chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence on the defence strategy. He made a reference back to a previous White Paper, but we know nothing now, nothing, because even air parity has gone, upon which any calculation can be made as to the size of the forces which we require.
We have had no indication whatever from the Prime Minister as to strategic considerations. All that we have had is a reference to the White Paper of 1935, which merely refers to the increase of certain forces which themselves were merely the result of the disarmament after the last War. We have the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, who is always modestly disinclined to tell us anything of his activities in this sphere. We all admire modesty, but that is not a right position for the Minister concerned with the defence of this country. Civilian Ministers have to take responsibility for these things in this House, but the right hon. Gentleman has never yet told us any of the results of those conferences which he has had with the three Chiefs of Staff.
This is an exceedingly dangerous position for this country. Armaments without policy cannot bring safety. On the Government's own showing we are back in the anarchic world of 1914. I suggest that when you are considering Defence you have to consider something more than just armaments, though the Prime Minister did go as far as to consider economics and business. What he did not consider was the question of the morale of this country. The Prime Minister is a little blind on certain points. I do not think his predecessor would have failed in that way. Lord Baldwin was like a kind of very fine receiving set—he felt what was happening in the country. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to get much beyond the Midland Regional. In his speech to-day he entirely ignored the question of the morale of the people of this country. I do not think he really understands in the slightest what he did the other day when he threw out the Foreign Secretary. You can pile up armaments as much as you like, but they are no use unless you have the spirit of the people behind you.
1663 The Prime Minister has offended the spirit of a vast number of people in this country. The people were willing to stand for the League and for collective security. What they are not willing to stand is to be dragged into another war of alliances. We have had no exposition of this policy by the right hon. Gentleman. It is all right talking at large and saying that he is going in for the appeasement of Signor Mussolini, but what is coming next when he has appeased him? He has not dealt with the vital elements of the situation. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) that you will not get peace until you deal with the fundamentals of the world situation. The fundamentals of the world situation are the lives and the standard of life of the ordinary man, woman and child in all countries. By making imperialist deals with dictators, or by sharing colonies with another dictator in order to get a momentary breathing space, you are not dealing with fundamentals. We have seen no sign in all these years since 1931 of any attempt by this Government to deal with fundamentals and to lay the foundations of peace. These armaments are not connected with any clear foreign policy at all. They are not directed to the preservation of the rule of law in the world, but are now being diverted to a dangerous policy of adventure which cannot bring peace. Therefore we oppose it.
§ 10.19 p.m.
§ The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence (Sir Thomas Inskip)
No one can say that this Debate has been confined to narrow limits. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition claimed some credit, which I willingly give him, for bringing back the Debate to the real question which we began to consider, but I should like to ask him who took it away from that point. I should have thought the answer was to be found in the somewhat comprehensive Amendment which has been moved by the Opposition. We have had a number of discussions as to our foreign relations and our foreign policy, and I may, if time permits, have a few words to say upon one or two of the criticisms which have been made. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) gave us a most interesting review of our relations with France, both political and 1664 military, and also gave a tilt to the supply aspect of Defence. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition dwelt a good deal on the profits of arms, and the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), whom we all congratulate on a most successful and attractive maiden speech, if he will allow me to say so, gave us a dissertation on what he called the "nosey-parker" methods of the Government accountants, and promised that he, at any rate, would be able to circumvent them. Those are all interesting topics, and some of them, of course, deserve more than a word in passing, and I will try to deal with them.
I am bound to say that I thought one of the most direct and important speeches from the benches opposite this evening was that made by the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). In his speech he declared his wholehearted agreement with the policy of conversations with Italy undertaken by the Prime Minister. That, I thought, was both courageous and important, and I commend it to the attention of the party opposite. The right hon. Gentleman also expressed the opinion, as I understood him, that the policy of collective security is impracticable in present circumstances. That also is a matter to which I would direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I venture to think that perhaps a little injustice has been done to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—more than a little injustice—in the references made to his statements in former Debates as to the League of Nations. I should have thought that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they intended to do him full justice, or if they had succeeded in doing him full justice, would have referred to his emphatic declaration on 22nd February:I still believe that there is important and valuable work for the League to do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1938; col. 228, Vol. 332.]Hon. Gentlemen may be pleased to laugh, but surely my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is not departing in any way from the spirit of that declaration when he recognises the bald fact that in present circumstances the task of the League of Nations in enforcing collective security is an impossible one.
I have heard, as the right hon. Gentleman also heard, less than I expected about the broad questions of Defence. The 1665 right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) raised some important points, and I propose to say something about them in a moment. The Labour Amendment refers to the failure of the Government to provide for effective co-ordination in strategy, administration and supply, and I listened to the right hon. Gentleman to hear what he had to say upon that point. It is true that he complained that the White Paper was a mere progress report. I would ask him, Did he expect the White Paper to declare in detail the plans prepared by the Chiefs of Staff? If so, I am afraid that we were quite certain to disappoint him. I agree very much with his references to the economic factors in another war. I agree with him that it is necessary to concentrate upon measures that will prevent the knock-out blow in a short war. That lends point to the reference made by the Prime Minister to the importance of the stability of staying power which has taken this country through so many struggles. It is indeed an important factor in the Government's policy that we are conserving the staying power to which the right hon. Gentleman referred as being important.
In his speech, in which he dealt more particularly with supply, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping asked for a review by a Ministry of Munitions of the whole industry of this country. I think that he and perhaps some other hon. Members have forgotten what I have told the House more than once, that this is precisely the task that is being carried out by the supply committees of the Supply Board. There are seven of those committees reviewing from day to day the whole industrial capacity of this country, with a view to completing the efficiency of the programme and to registering and organising what we call the war potential, if an emergency should overtake us. I am bound to say that I detected in the demand of the right hon. Gentleman that we should have this review, in spite of his disfavour, a fundamental difference of opinion with the Government, for he contemplates a great deal more interference with industry than has hitherto taken place, and he calls for an alteration in the whole mode of life in the nation.
I do not believe that this nation will ever be unwilling to make sacrifices, even of personal discomfort, if that were called 1666 for by the circumstances. The circumstances to-day are grave enough as I recognise, with the rest of the House, but I believe it would be contrary to the wish of every hon. and right hon. Member that we should decide at this moment to go into what I may call the precautionary period and to put the industry and the life of this country upon a war footing. If the time should ever come when that is necessary, it will be done, but I hope and believe that the Prime Minister's policy, though less dramatic, is more satisfying, will be more fruitful and is the right policy at this present time.
I would argue this matter at another time, if the right hon. Gentleman would argue his proposal in relation to labour, economic conditions, the location of industry and to the revenue which is to pay for all this rearmament programme, but I shall not embark upon that task this evening, if only for the one reason that in the past I have perhaps dwelt upon supply too often, as the Leader of the Opposition has said. I shall not lay myself open to that criticism this evening. It it not and has not been my fault that that was so; it was the result of the very natural anxiety felt in all parts of the House as to the progress of our rearmament programme. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping himself made a speech about 15 months ago which was important and constructive and was helpful to me even in its criticism, but the whole of it dwelt upon questions of supply.
I join with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in regarding the task of coordination as one that must be carried out as faithfully and efficiently as possible. It is not only the character of the organisation that exists to-day, but it is the spirit of the Services to-day as it never has been before. I would remaind the House of what many may have forgotten, or perhaps are not aware of—that any proposals which any hon. Member may still entertain for the establishment of a Ministry of Defence were rejected, I do not say finally, but emphatically rejected, by the Salisbury Committee in 1923. The amalgamation of the three Service Departments was equally rejected. What was proposed was the establishment of something like the office which I now have the honour to hold, and I believe that, in the words of my right hon. 1667 Friend the Member for Epping, recorded somewhere in that report, a great stride has been taken towards creating a common staff brain.
A common staff brain is to be found working and expressing itself in those deliberations to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. He seemed to think that I could come down to this House and narrate to hon. Members the conversations that take place between the chiefs of the Staff and myself. If, of course, he was only asking for the results of those deliberations, I may be able to give him enlightenment on one or two points this evening. I believe I am in accord with the great current of authority on this question of the co-ordination of the Services, beginning with Lord Haldane himself and coming through the Salisbury Committee to all the different Debates that have taken place in this House, when I say that the Ministers, the chiefs of Staff, the politicians and the technical advisers all have their part to play in developing this common staff brain. The politician must define the problems for the chiefs of Staff, and the chiefs of Staff, when their problems are defined, will apply their great experience to the proper solution of the problems presented to them.
That is precisely the task, if hon. Members will accept it from me, which the chiefs of Staff and I myself attempt to discharge. That is why I am from day to day, and the Prime Minister himself, of course, also, almost in daily contact with the chiefs of Staff, that they may know what we want them to advise us about, and that we may know what their advice is. Whatever shortcoming there may have been in this task is due, I am aware, to the personal factor. The right hon. Gentleman charges me with the atrocious crime of modesty. I am not going to be modest this evening. I am going to say that I do not accept for a moment the contention or complaint of the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the work has not been done, or has been ill done. Is that modesty? The right hon. Gentleman makes it his common complaint, every time he speaks, that there is no indication of co-ordination of the work of the Committee of Imperial Defence. I say, on the other hand, that there is scarcely a point in our Imperial 1668 Defence policy that is not from week to week the subject of the most searching review. The places of the forces necessary for particular operations, or for particular occasions, are carefully calculated and reviewed, and within our capacity action is taken with a view to the proper preparations being made.
I fully accept all that the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite have said, and always say, as to the necessity for interlocking of the Services. The Prime Minister himself has stated the foundations of our Imperial Defence policy. He has told us that our first and main effort must be directed to those familiar objectives, the protection of Great Britain against attack, and against air attack in particular. But the corollary to that is axiomatic and equally important. I quote some words from a great authority, Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, who points out that:There is one necessity both common and vital to every nation of this scattered Commonwealth; that is their communications. The defence of the territories overseas, as well as the defence of Great Britain itself, depends upon the adequate discharge of this task.When the task is stated in that way, I think everybody will recognise at once that, for its proper discharge and proper completion, the effective co-operation of all three Services is necessary. No longer is this a time—if ever it was—when the Navy could say, "Leave this task for us to do," or the Army could say, "This is a task on which we want no assistance." Each of the three Services must fill up whatever deficiencies may be felt by any of the other Services; and the plans must be not only prepared, but they must be plans in which all three Services thoroughly understand their several parts.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition asked me to define the roles of the different Services. Most hon. Members will be able to give a definition, as I hope I can; but I should like first to say, as regards the Navy, that it is a great mistake to suppose that great naval battles will be a thing of the past. Security, first of all, lies in the cencentration of forces represented by the main fleets, but that is not the whole of the proper task of the Navy. The defence of the widely scattered trade routes must be undertaken by those scattered units of the fleets, in addition to the discharge of its task by the main fleet. When we 1669 come to the Army, the Leader of the Liberal Opposition deprecated too heavy a burden being placed on this country in respect of operations by the Army on the Continent. I am not quite sure that that quite tallies with his keen anxiety that this country should play its part in the system of collective security on the Continent of Europe. The two propositions are not quite so easily reconciled.
§ Sir T. Inskip
But I accept what he has said, and I declare, in terms which will be very brief, because my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War will deal with it on Thursday, that the Army must be available both for the defence of British territories and for the defence of our interests overseas, including whatever obligations have been undertaken by the Government. Those two tasks fall on the Army, which is perhaps necessarily small in comparison with Continental armies, but has a reserve behind it, in the form of a Territorial Army which will be able to supplement the Regular Army as soon as training and equipment are complete.
The Air Force holds a place second to none in our preparations to resist the "knock-out blow" to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley has referred. The sufficiency of our Air Force is a pre-eminent condition of our safety. The object of our policy must be to create an Air Force which is a really effective instrument for all the rest of the tasks with which hon. Gentlemen are familiar; but it is really a misconception to attempt to divide this Air Force into three watertight compartments. They are all part and parcel of the air power of this country; they are necessary and must be available to discharge the tasks of the Air Force. The Fleet Air Arm is part and parcel of that unit of our forces one of whose main purposes is the defence of our trade and trade routes.
Let me say in a sentence or two what we are doing. There has been approved a further progressive expansion of the Air Force. It will be progressively increased both by increasing the number of squadrons and increasing the size of the individual squadrons. The increase will secure the maximum of efficiency in the Force. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked how many of these squadrons are available 1670 for mobilisation and complete equipment? That is a question which could not be answered in a general statement here this evening, and I am not supplied with the information in this Debate. The right hon. Gentleman will be able to put this question again perhaps on the Air Estimates. Suffice it to say at the moment that the vast majority of the squadrons are fully equipped. Some no doubt are not fully equipped at the present moment, but that is not the fault of the Government. It may be inherent in the difficulty of obtaining some of the equipment, which is not all of it easy to obtain from the contractors. [Laughter.] I do not know why hon. Gentlemen should laugh at that. Everybody knows that there are what are called bottlenecks in production. You may make as many Ministries of Munitions as you like and pass as many resolutions as you like. Take one illustration of what I call a bottleneck—the optical industry. The training of skilled workmen takes at least five years. There are no short cuts to that result, and unless we had gone to foreign suppliers for some of these instruments which are so urgently required, we should have been still shorter than we are at the present time of adequate supplies.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping will no doubt try to follow me when I say a word about his calculations of what was promised and what had been performed. I understand the right hon. Gentleman said that what we could get in 1939 in terms of machines or in terms of squadrons were the machines promised for 1937, plus 250. What were promised for 1937, I may remind the House, were about 1,500 first line machines. They were promised by March, 1937, and in fact that number of machines was available by July, 1937. They were not the modern machines. It was never promised that they should be the modern machines. What was promised in March, 1936, was 1,750 machines. It was identified in the White Paper as Scheme "F," and the whole of these machines were to be provided, and will be provided, by March, 1939. These machines, unlike those which were promised by March, 1937, will be up-to-date machines and relative to the best possessed by other nations, with the highest possible standard of power and capacity.
1671 I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me in thinking that that puts a somewhat different impression upon the figures which he gave as to the performance, and will be fully equal to the promise which the Government have made. As I have already said, the Government have taken decisions for further expansion, with the full consciousness of the importance of the part that the Air Force must play in our plans.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley asked me some particular questions. He asked me to give information about the balloon barrage over London. It is organised in 10 squadrons. There will be four depots for storage and administeration. Three of them are now being constructed, one of them will be completed in a very short time, and recruiting will begin early in May, I hope, for three squadrons. Four-fifths of the balloons and the whole of the winches have been delivered. That in itself is a considerable achievement on the part of those who have organised this new arm. The personnel will be voluntary. A nucleus of regular airmen is being trained at Cardington, and 70 per cent. of them have already been trained; and when the recruitment begins, as it will in May, for three squadrons, we shall be quite sure that progressive and swift realisation of what has been proposed in connection with the balloon barrage will take place.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Air Force had made a great mistake in always assuming that the bomber will get through, and in treating counter-bombing as though it were the only policy to meet that attack. I could not help overhearing some of his hon. Friends behind him who differed from him in his assertion, and interposed that, of course, the bomber will get through. I suppose that none of us would be prepared to make a confident assertion that every bomber can be caught, defeated and brought down before it reaches its objective; but I would like to say to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that, in the course of very elaborate discussions whtich we have had about strategy, we have never made what he would call the mistake and what I would call the mistake of neglecting the value of close defences. I say that they stand very high indeed in our Air strategy.
1672 The measures of expansion which I have mentioned contemplate a further increase in our already-powerful close defences. The fighter forces and the antiaircraft guns for the protection of London and other cities will be a very effective instrument, together with other resources of our. defences which I must not mention this evening. They will be a very effective close defence against invaders. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Air Ministry are not making a mistake on this point; but it would be a profound mistake to place exclusive reliance upon close defences. To do that would be to present the enemy raiders with a wholly unmerited advantage. The role of the fighters, strenuous, exacting and unremitting as it is, will be greatly relieved if the raiders can be smothered in their lair. Attack them at their depots, at their aerodromes and at the places from which they start and to that extent you will relieve the tasks, difficult and anxious, for which only men of great courage and tenacity are fit, of the close defences, and so supplement those close defences in preventing the bombers from getting through. The weaker our attack, the freer will be the enemy to concentrate on his attack. Aggression with impunity from reply is likely to be very tempting to an enemy. Therefore, I assert that certainly we must perfect our close defences, but as certainly we must not neglect our counter stroke.
Turning now to another element, the right hon. Gentleman asked me a question about the protection of our merchant shipping. I am not free to declare to the House precisely the plan that will be followed on the outbreak of war, or the plan that might be available to take its place if experience so required. Nothing is more necessary to remember, even in making and co-ordinating these plans for our Defence, than that we have very little practical experience as far as the air is concerned. We try to draw lessons, I think some useful lessons, from what is going on in Spain, but to a great extent we shall have to wait—and I hope we shall have to wait for ever—for that experience which alone will enable one to be dogmatic about the proper strategy or the proper tactics.
I can say, however, that whether a convoy system is or is not used to guard our shipping in narrow waters against air or submarine attack is a question that can 1673 be decided only by the proper authorities when the occasion comes and experience teaches, and it would not be in the public interest for me to say definitely what our intentions are. I can, however, assure the House that the combined staffs have not only fully considered this; they have discussed it over and over again, if only for this reason, that in the early stages there was a certain amount of difference of point of view and of opinion, which has, I am happy to say, been wholly dissipated by the further discussions that have taken place. Complete agreement has been reached, and the plans can be put into instant execution.
Somebody asked me what arrangements have been made in case of an attack on our trade, our shipping, and our food-bringing ships, if it is successful. I was asked, What have you done for re-routeing the ships? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Sir R. Keyes) has given us the benefit of his interesting and valuable experiences. I am a little shy of referring to schemes, because I have been laughed at for making references in the White Paper to schemes, but, after all, I thought one of my duties was to advise on schemes or plans, and I can say that port emergency committees have been set up at the 45 principal commercial ports. They consist of representatives of the port authorities, coastwise shipping, home trade and overseas shipping, the railways, the road users, the traders and the canals—I think a group of representation which will ensure the consideration of every aspect of the use of these ports.
But one principle that we have determined on, and which I hope the House will accept, is this, that even in war time the port authorities must continue to exercise their normal control. When I speak of their normal control I mean you cannot substitute a new authority for those familiar with the local conditions, but what is needed of course is a proper consideration of the increased demands that may be made upon the ports in question. Is there enough quay space? Is the rolling-stock likely to be adequate? Are the railway sidings laid out in a proper way? Is labour likely to be forthcoming? The whole of these necessities have been borne in mind, and calculations have been made which enable us to say that when the arrangements as a whole have been made in the ports there is capacity 1674 there to handle any traffic that may be diverted. No doubt a great deal will be diverted from the East Coast to West Coast ports.
§ Sir T. Inskip
The right hon. Gentleman is a member of the Advisory Committee which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has set up to advise upon schemes, and I believe the question the right hon. Gentleman asks me has been under discussion lately, and I am not aware what decision has been arrived at. [Interruption.] I was not attempting to do anything but give what I thought was a perfectly candid statement. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth challenged me about the statement I made a little while ago concerning the efficiency of the merchant service for our trade and food carrying services. All I can say is that I know no greater authority than the Liverpool Steamship Owners' Association, which I quoted in the speech that I made, and the statement which they made is that:Having regard to the increase in carrying power resulting from improved methods of construction there is no reason to think that the present day British Mercantile Marine is any less an efficient cargo carrying instrument than it was in 1914.One must bear in mind certain facts, which are not always appreciated, as to the way in which we supplied other countries with tonnage in the last War, and when it is realised that there has been a vast increase in the tonnage of other countries besides Great Britain, it will be seen that we shall be able to call upon this pool of foreign tonnage to some extent, just as we did in the last War, and it may be that we shall not have to provide 23 per cent of the requirements of other nations out of British tonnage.
My time is up, but many of these questions can be raised on the Estimates for the three Services. A year ago I appealed to hon. Members opposite to make common purpose with us on the Defence Loan Bill. They went into the Lobby against the Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway led his party into the Lobby against the Bill. Despite their vote against the Government I believe in their hearts they are with us. There are indications that hon. 1675 Members opposite are like Dryden's Jotham in his well known satire, "Having tried the worse, he chose the better." I believe that in their hearts they are as anxious as we are that we should make progress. If the right hon. Member opposite is making a book on the possibility of persuading the country that the Prime Minister's policy is likely to be defeated, I would commend to him a sentence in the "Manchester Guardian" to-day of Mr. Gollancz, who is not unknown, when addressing a meeting at which Labour Members were present in Manchester last night. He expressed:The fear that the agitation against Mr. Chamberlain's policy was dying down and spoke of the difficulty of sustaining the protest.Perhaps a Defence Debate is not the best and most convenient place for an examination of the Government's policy,
§ but it is perfectly clear that if Great Britain is to play a part in any system of collective security she will want these forces. If hon. Members opposite realise their ambition and are called upon to determine the combination in which we join for enforcing collective security they will thank Heaven and us for having provided these armaments for their assistance. Meanwhile, these forces are wanted for our own Defence, and I believe there is substantial unity upon the policy of defending ourselves against whatever aggressor may come. The cost may be great but we have set our hands to the task. The Government have declared their policy; let us without flinching complete it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 351; Noes, 134.1679
|Division No. 121.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. C. J.||Burton, Col. H. W.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Lees, W.)||Butcher, H. W.||Doland, G. F.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Butler, R. A.||Donner, P. W.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Dower, Major A. V. G.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Cartland, J. R. H.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Carver, Major W. H.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cary, R. A.||Duggan, H. J.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Assheton, R.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Eastwood, J. F.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Eckersley, P. T.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Channon, H.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Christie, J. A.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Emery, J. F.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Entwistle, Sir C. F.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Errington, E.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Erskine-Hill, A. G.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Colman, N. C. D.||Everard, W. L.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Fleming, E. L.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Fox, Sir G. W. G.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Furness, S. N.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Craven-Ellis, W.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Critchley, A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Craft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Gledhill, G.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Crooke, Sir J. S.||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Goldie, N. B.|
|Bracken, B.||Cross, R. H.||Gower, Sir R. V|
|Brass, Sir W.||Crossley, A. C.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Crowder, J. F. E.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Cruddas, Col. B,||Granville, E. L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Davidson, Viscountess.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Dawson, Sir P.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Bull, B. B.||De Chair, S. S.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||De la Bère, R.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Burghley, Lord||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Denville, Alfred.||Gritten W. G. Howard|
|Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Scott, Lord William|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Macquisten, F. A.||Selley, H. R.|
|Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Magnay, T.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Maitland, A.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Hambro, A. V.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Hannah, I. C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Marsden, Commander A.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Harbord, A.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Harvey, Sir G.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswlck)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Somerset, T.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hepworth, J.||Moreing, A. G.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Spens, W. P.|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Munro, P.||Storey, S.|
|Holmes, J. S.||Nall, Sir J.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark. N.)|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Hunter, T.||Patrick, C. M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Peat, C. U.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Hutchinson, G. C.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Peters, Dr. S. J.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Petherick, M.||Touche, G. C.|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Pilkington, R.||Train, Sir J,|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Porritt, R. W.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Turton, R. H.|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Procter, Major H. A.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Kimball, L.||Radford, E. A.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Ramsbotham, H.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Latham, Sir P.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Rankin, Sir R.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Leech, Sir J. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Rayner, Major R. H||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Reed, W. Allan (Derby)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Levy, T.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lewis, O.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Llddall, W. S.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Lipson, D. L.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham-||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Rowlands, G.||Wise, A. R.|
|Loftus, P. C.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Lyons, A. M.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Mabane, W, (Huddersfield)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Salmon, Sir I.||Wragg, H.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Salt, E. W.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|McKie, J. H.||Sandys, E. D.||Captain Margesson and Lieut.-|
|Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Colonel Kerr.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Bellenger, F. J.||Cocks, F. S.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Cove, W. G.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Benson, G.||Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford|
|Adamson, W. M.||Bevan, A.||Daggar, G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Broad, F. A.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Burke, W. A.||Day, H.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Cape, T.||Dobbie, W.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Charleton, H. C.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)|
|Batey, J.||Cluse, W. S.||Ede, J. C.|
|Edwards, Sir G. (Bedwellty)||Kelly, w. T.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Kirkwood, D.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H||Lawson, J. J.||Shinwell, E.|
|Foot, D. M.||Leach, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Frankel, D.||Lee, F.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Leonard, W.||Simpson, F. B.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Leslie, J. R.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Logan, D. G.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Gibson, R, (Greenock)||Lunn, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||McEntee, V. La T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Maclean, N.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbre, W.)||MacMillan, M. (Western lsles)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Mander, G. le M.||Thurtle, E.|
|Groves, T. E.||Marshall, F.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Montague, F.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Hardie, Agnes||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Walker, J.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Naylor, T. E.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hayday, A.||Oliver, G. H.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Owen, Major G.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Parker, J.||Westwood, J.|
|Hicks, E. G.||Pearson, A.||White, H. Graham|
|Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Hollins, A.||Price, M. P.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Hopkin, D.||Pritt, D. N.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Jagger, J.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Ridley, G.|
|John, W.||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Robinson, W A. (St. Helens)|
§ Question put, "That this House approves the Statement relating to Defence [Command Paper 5682]."1680
§ The House divided: Ayes, 347; Noes, 133.1683
|Division No. 122.]||AYES.||[11.13 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Cruddas, Col. B.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Burghley, Lord||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Burton, Col. H. W.||Dawson, Sir P.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Butcher, H. W.||De Chair, S. S.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Butler, R. A.||De la Bère, R.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Denville, Alfred|
|Apsley, Lord||Cartland, J. R. H.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Carver, Major W. H.||Doland, G. F.|
|Assheton, R.||Cary, R. A.||Donner, P. W.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Dugdale, Captain T. L.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Duggan, H. J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Channon, H.||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Eastwood, J. F.|
|Balniel, Lord||Christie, J. A.||Eckersley, P. T.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Clarke, F. E. (Dartford)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Elmley, Viscount|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Emery, J. F.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Colman, N. C. D.||Errington, E.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.)||Everard, W. L.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Findlay, Sir E,|
|Boulton, W. W.||Courthope, Col, Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Fleming, E. L.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Fox, Sir G. W. G.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Craven-Ellis, W.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Critchley, A.||Furness, S. N.|
|Bracken, B.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Crooke, Sir J. S.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gledhill, G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Cross, R. H.||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Crossley, A. C.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.|
|Bull, B. B.||Crowder, J. F. E.||Goldie N. B.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Sandys, E. D.|
|Granville, E. L.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Savory, Sir Servington|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Scott, Lord William|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||McKie, J. H.||Selley, H. R.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Macquisten, F. A.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Magnay, T.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Maitland, A.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Marsden, Commander A.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Hambro, A. V.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Smith, Sir R W. (Aberdeen)|
|Hannah, I. C.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Somerset, T.|
|Harbord, A.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Harvey, Sir G.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswlck)||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Spens, W. P.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Moreing, A. C.||Storey, S.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Hepworth, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Munro, P.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Nall, Sir J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Holmes, J. S.||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Patrick, C. M.||Touche, G. C.|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Peat, C. U.||Train, Sir J.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Hunter, T.||Petherick, M.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Pilkington, R.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Hutchinson, G. C.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Turton, R. H.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Porritt, R. W.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Han. Euan|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Procter, Major H. A.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Radford, E. A.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Ramsbotham, H.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Wayland, Sir W. A|
|Kimball, L.||Rankin, Sir R.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Latham, Sir P.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Wise, A. R.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Levy, T.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Lewis, O||Rowlands, G.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Liddall, W. S.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Wragg, H.|
|Lipson, D. L.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Salmon, Sir I.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lyons, A. M.||Salt, E. W.||Captain Margesson and Lieut.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Samuel, M. R. A.||Colonel Kerr.|
|Acland, R. T. D (Barnstaple)||Barnes, A. J,||Brown, C. (Mansfield)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Batey, J.||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Bellenger, F. J.||Burke, W. A.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Cape, T.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Benson, G.||Charleton, H. C.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bevan, A.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Broad, F. A.||Cocks, F. S.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jagger, J.||Ridley, G.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Ritson, J.|
|Daggar, G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||John, W.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Davits, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Day, H.||Kelly, W. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Dobbie, W.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Kirkwood, D.||Silkin, L.|
|Ede, J. C.||Lawson, J. J.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Edwarde, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Leach, W.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Lee, F.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Leonard, W.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Foot, D. M.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Frankel, D.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Lunn, W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Stokes, R. R.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||McEntee, V. La T.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Maclean, N.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Thurtle, E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Mander, G. le M.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbre, W.)||Marshall, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Mathers, G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Montague, F.||Walker, J.|
|Groves, T. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watson, W. McL.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Hail, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Hardie, Agnes||Oliver, G. H.||White, H. Graham|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Owen, Major G.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Hayday, A.||Parker, J.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pearson, A.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Hicks, E. G.||Price, M. P.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Pritt, D. N.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Hollins, A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Hopkin, D.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Adamson and Mr. Anderson|
That this House approves the Statement relating to Defence [Command Paper No. 5682].