§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House, realising the important part that civil aviation can play in bringing the peoples of the world together and in promoting mutual understanding, urges that past-war plans shall not regard national facilities for this means of air transport as a bargaining point between the nations, but be based upon the need for full international co-operation.I was very interested in the concluding remarks of the Under-Secretary. I was also a little interested when he told us about his experiences in the helicopter in which he took off and flew backwards. I hope that, in this matter of civil aviation, neither he nor the Minister will go backwards in any way. We have got to go forward with a realisation of how tremendously important this matter of civil aviation is. For the first 2½ hours of today's Debate we have been dealing with the Royal Air Force and military air power, and now I think it is appropriate to change over from the military side to the civil side. I think I might not do better than quote a statement made by Lord Baldwin, then Mr. Baldwin, at the time of the Disarmament Conference in November, 1932. He said this:I am firmly convinced myself … that, if it were possible, the air forces ought all to be abolished, but, if they were, there would 1322 still be civil aviation and in civil aviation there are potential bombers. … In my view, it is necessary for the nations of the world concerned … to devote the whole of their minds to this question of civil aviation to see if it is possible so to control civil aviation that such disarmament will be feasible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th November, 1932; cols. 635–6, Vol. 270.]I propose to try and divide my speech into a review of past experiences of civil aviation in the world, but particularly in Europe, and then to give some estimate of what I believe, on very good advice, is likely to be the amount of traffic, passenger and freight, which one could reasonably expect will be carried by air in the post-war years, and then the solution of my party on this side of the House far dealing with this problem, namely, the complete internationalisation of civil aviation.
Anybody who has any experience of pre-war civil aviation will realise in the first place how very important were the effects of the International Air Convention of 1919, which provided for full and complete sovereignty of each State over the air space above its territory and territorial waters. It also gave the right to any State to decide—it was implicit in that declaration—whether any foreign aircraft were to be allowed to fly over its territory. They could also lay down, if they decided to allow any foreign aircraft to fly over, where and between which points on the coast or on the frontiers, as the case might be, foreign aircraft would be allowed to enter or to depart. It was also permitted that they could absolutely prohibit aircraft of another nation flying over various parts of their territory which they regarded as prohibited areas from a military point of view.
If one, therefore, examined the amount of flying which took place, in Europe in particular, before the war, one found that these aircraft divided up their flights and were very seldom able to fly straight between one capital and another, and, oWinģ to the bad and disjointed form of organisation, it was impossible to have really long night flights at all. The right hon. Gentleman, if he did not travel in military aircraft, would really and truly have been unable before the war to fly from London to Istanbul during the night oWinģ to the failure to develop beacon lights on routes and so on. The result was that business men and others who 1323 desired to travel either had to travel by night by train and boat, or travel by day by air. That situation was the direct result of the International Air Convention of 1919, for nations were allowed to develop their own particular air transport companies, and generally, the position was a multi-coloured pattern over the general face of Europe. This position did not obtain in U.S.A.
It was admitted in 1935 that it would be possible to provide between any capitals in Central Europe—I am leaving out Moscow and possibly Turkey—a 12-hour postal service at the cost of an extra halfpenny, or, in other words, threepence instead of the foreign postage rate of 2½d. before the war. Nothing was ever done about this; there were too many people concerned. It followed the old cliché or adage that what was everybody's business was nobody's business. There is a point to be made. We rightly say the "United States of America," and the "un-united States of Europe." The air postal service, as far as the United States is concerned, started as long ago as 1918—immediately the late war was over. I would also remind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who, with me, on various occasions used to take some interest in civil aviation, that one found in various capitals of Europe no less than six operating companies. They had their inquiry and administrative officers. If you went to the Air France offices, for instance, and asked a question as to when the next Imperial Airways machine was departing, they would not tell you. It was not uncommon to find in these various capitals half a dozen of these inquiry offices, who would not give information as to what aircraft was operating, or the times of operation.
I would also draw the attention of the House to the result of all this management and disorganisation. In pre-war Europe the amount of traffic which was carried by air yearly amounted to 1,000th of the amount taken on the four mail railways of this country. It is worth while remembering what the taxpayers of Europe had to pay for this. It disclosed a very serious situation. M. Bouché, who was the French air expert at the League of Nations in 1935, said this—and this is the answer to people who believe that we are going back to the old pre-war civil aviation: 1324In Europe as a whole subsidies to air lines were so heavy that the taxpayers between them were having to pay nearly 2,000,000 French francs a day for European air lines. The total load carried in the whole of 1932 was only equivalent to the load carried each day of the year by three or four ten-ton trucks for a thousand kilometres. That is to say, from the north to the south of France, or from London to Berlin. After 15 years of organisation and technical progress air transport still required in 1932 a subsidy of 14½ francs per kilometre, while the receipts from customers per kilometre were 4.75 francs, each passenger obviously receiving on an average a contribution from the taxpayers of Europe amounting to many pounds for each air journey. Altogether we have a system which is far more in the nature of propaganda than of economic utility or the fulfilment of permanent needs—apart from the Paris-London service. The network is just as far away from independence, and the economic activity is no higher at the end of 1934 than it was two years earlier.He went on to say that civil aviation in Europe was waiting for one inestimable gift, namely, the gift of collective organisation, and it never came. Even in the years 1933 and 1934, after the slump in 1931 and 1932, subsidies were reduced very little indeed, and even then, with that tremendous subvention by the tax payers of Europe, they were still needing the one thing which, as he points out, would be the most valuable gift—the adoption of collective action calculated on a European scale to meet European needs on strictly economic lines. There was no body to plan or control the network of Europe as a whole or to organise and finance the necessary services on a continental scale. There were no less than 50 air lines competing for this little bit of air traffic. The development of civil aviation was also very largely hindered oWinģ to the fact that manufacturers were concerned to pay some regard—and perhaps a fairly reasonable regard—to the military interests of the various countries in which the machines were made. It was also a good talking point for the manufacturer of aircraft to be able to say that his machine could easily be converted into a military machine. If my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State or his right hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary would care to look at "Jane's All the World Aircraft" of 1932 onwards he would almost invariably find that the manufacturers drew special attention to the convertibility of their machines into military or civilian aircraft. These facts disclosed such a shocking 1325 situation before the war that it would be lamentable if there were influences in this country, or on the Conservative side of this House, to try to compel us, or even to allow us, to go back to that kind of thing.
I find that people are exaggerating tremendously the real importance of civil aviation after the war. It is important that one should have some sense of perspective. So long as air travel remains so very dear it is obvious that it can attract only the real cream of the rail, road and shipping traffic. The cabin or first-class passengers of liners will be the only people who will be able to afford air transport. In spite of the enormous technical improvements, reducing passenger costs, but improving comfort, air travel can only be considered as a serious competitor to first-class travel on a luxury liner. Between 1932 and 1941 the number of transport planes in the United States of America fell from 564 to 450 because the average number of seats by then had gone up from 6.58 to 18. We are now designing planes to carry 100 passengers or more and, therefore, I ask that that point shall be taken into account.
The real bottleneck, as far as post-war civil aviation is concerned, is fuel. There cannot be an enormous development in passenger transport as long as the large plane of the type now being designed requires, for one mile of flight, at least 14 lbs. of fuel, costing, on the most conservative estimate, an average of 1/6d. I understand that the weight of a gallon of octane petrol is about seven lbs. That means that you require two gallons of petrol to fly one of these large transport planes for one mile. It is not only the question of cost with which I am concerned; to fly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic you would need to carry 20 tons of fuel. That is really and truly a most serious bottleneck and should be recognised by both right hon. Gentlemen who are talking—as did the Lord Privy Seal in another place—about what is really going to happen after the war as far as civil aviation is concerned. Major R. H. Thornton, who is known to my right hon. Friends, has calculated that giving the aeroplane the full benefit of the allowance for extra speed, it still takes 89 times as much fuel as a ship to do the same job.
From a most careful examination as to the number of aircraft required for trans- 1326 porting all the passengers who travelled before the war, either by air or by first or cabin-class steamers, between this country and points more than 1,500 miles away, taking into account all relevant factors, such as seasonal variations in traffic, serviceability of aircraft, utilisation of existing capacity, a certain amount of mail, etc., could be comfortably carried in less than 100 aircraft. This figure is low but the right hon. Gentleman will remember that Dr. Warner, Vice-Chairman of the United States Civil Aeronautics Board, suggested that he did not expect more than half of these passengers to travel in this way. That means that about 50 aircraft would be all that would be needed to carry that cream of traffic which is likely to travel by air after the war.
The position as far as freight is concerned is very much more serious. The average cost of freight by air is 40 cents per ton mile, and the best so far managed is 35 cents. The most optimistic estimate made of post-war cost is 10 to 12 cents, and that should be compared with a cost of about one-fifteenth of a cent per ton-mile by sea. The cost of shipping one-third horse-power electric motors from Chicago to Brisbane by rail and sea is about four per cent. of the export value of the motors; by air the cost is 530 per cent. It is true that the development of micro-photography technique may substantially reduce the weight of mail, and bullion may not be moved at all after the war because it is likely to be frozen. The main hope of the air enthusiast is the development of glider trains. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend went in a glider in the States. The technical difficulties of glider toWinģ for long distances are still a long way from solution. We have talked about pre-war subsidies, and as regards post-war subsidies I am dead against any private enterprise at all being subsidised, because one of the things it always does is to blot out differences and degrees of inefficiency, and if there is to be any subsidy after the war it will result in competition in lobbying the Treasury.
In view of this true statement of affairs as existing before the war and, I think, the careful and reasonable anticipation of what is likely to happen for some years after the war, it is most important that one should have regard to what really is 1327 likely to be the development, militarily and economically. We, on this side of the House, believe that the future of civil aviation lies in internationalisation. We believe that a world air authority must be set up and we welcome with enthusiasm the joint declaration made at Canberra in January, 1944, by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand that the air services using international air trunk routes should be operated by an international air transport authority, and full control of the international air trunk routes and the ownership of all aircraft should be invested in the international air transport authority.
§ Sir Alfred Beit (St. Pancras, South-East)
May I interrupt? Did not that agreement go on to say that it would be extremely unlikely that this internationalisation could take place in the immediate future, and that in that case it would be preferable that the Governments concerned should operate? They agreed there was no likelihood of an international covenant.
§ Mr. Bowles
That is quite true, but they may be a little more pessimistic in the Antipodes as to what is going to happen in this country after the war. Because they are so far away they may think that some kind of coalition of parties will come into power, but I say quite frankly that we on this side wonder very strongly why it is that the British Government is holding up any declaration at all of its plans so far as post-war civil aviation is concerned. There is a rumour going about that the Government are waiting to see the result of the Presidential election in the United States. I say this to the House, and to interested people outside the House, and modestly to the world that here we have Australia with a Labour Government, New Zealand with a Labour Government, and, after the war, we shall be the Government here and this is the Labour Party's policy which I am adumbrating to-day, and that we three will be a very large nucleus standing for the principle of internationalisation of civil aviation after the war. I believe that we will get assistance and support and understanding from the peoples of the world. Of course there may be vested interests opposed to us—I have seen a circular from some Chamber of Shipping in which the chairman said 1328 that, after all, the shipping companies have had some experience in carrying people about the world and they should have their little nibble at what is going.
§ Mr. Bowles
They will not, because we are coming into power next time. We believe, therefore, that in the British Empire alone we have the nucleus of two Dominions and the Mother Country and we feel certain that we shall be able to persuade—where there is not too much rottenness—a large number of other countries to come in with us on this. If I am making a case at all, it is that if we go back to what happened before, which did not provide security at all but resulted in a tremendous amount of throat-cutting, and in 21 years we found ourselves in another war we shall be most foolish.
We believe that the world air authority should employ and own all aircraft run for transport purposes. We believe that it should own the aerodromes and that the aerodromes should have extra-territorial rights. We believe that the personnel, the pilots, the ground engineers, the personnel staffing the aerodromes, and so on, should all have extra-territorial rights. Further, we believe that we should naturally develop the world airways authority if we want peace and if we want to get rid of the kind of thing the world is suffering from at the moment. We should go further and, in due course, build up a world communications' authority by which every form of communications—not only air, because this is only a testing question and is not as big as has been suggested. The right hon. Gentleman, the Lord Privy Seal, talked about 1,000 planes crossing the Atlantic every week—I think he saw some report in the New York papers and used it without verification. It was a little bit of rhetoric, I imagines, but with great respect, it is a long way from reasonable anticipation. We believe, therefore, in a world communications' authority by which postage, telegraphs, cables, trains, shipping and everything should be controlled with, if you like, regional authorities such as Europa Airways—the details can be worked out later. I say to my right hon. Friend and to the House that if that can be established I am perfectly certain of two things. First, we would solve the question of disarmament, because one of 1329 the great difficulties found by members of the Government who attended the Disarmament Conference was the absence of observers. Under this scheme we should have observers with extra-territorial rights who could see whether Germany or any other country were building up illicit aircraft or other weapons of destruction. What is more, if all communications were in the hands of this world communications authority, they could employ the most effective sanction against any nation which did that. Imagine reporting to Geneva—or wherever this particular international authority might have its headquarters—that Germany was building surreptitiously in various sheds aircraft which might be dangerous. The people of the world could say "Right, we will cut you off completely. We will not let anyone telephone to you, post to you, fly to you, send by train to you, or communicate with you in any way at all." That is a form of sanction which no nation, to my mind, would like to incur.
Therefore, I say to the House, to the country, and, if I may be so bold, to the world, that we as the British Labour Party are initiating this proposal as a real, definite issue, and we are in absolute contradistinction to hon. Members on the other side of the House who believe either in the national ownership of aviation or in the private ownership of aviation. We believe that the scheme I have tried my best to make clear to the House is the only one which will satisfy us and save the peace of the world.
Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes (Carmarthen)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I have been for some time interested in the topic of civil aviation. The moment one takes an interest in it one realises that there are very considerable forces from different quarters of this House also interested in seeing that civil aviation should get its proper place after the war. Therefore, it may be germane to analyse the arguments that are urged for this country taking a much larger place in civil aviation, and a greater interest in it, than has been the case hitherto. First and foremost, among the arguments adduced from every quarter is the fact that here in Great Britain we are the centre of a mighty Commonwealth and Empire spread throughout the four quarters of the globe. Therefore it is important that civil aviation should have its place. Another argument which 1330 has found favour in many quarters is that which points out that in the development of civil air transport in the future this country is in the very fortunate situation of being at the centre of the land mass of the world. Therefore it possesses advantages of which, as an energetic nation, it should be seized, and advances should be made in accordance with its opportunities. Another argument is that this country has had for many years now the biggest merchant service in the world. As a race we have learned to travel all over the globe, to supply services for transport all over the globe; we have had a merchant service covering all the seas, and, having shown those qualities, it follows that we should display them in the air.
One further argument in connection with the advance of civil aviation which has been used in many quarters on the Floor of this House is that we should expand in civil aviation as a measure for dealing with the post-war employment problem. I must here endorse the remarks of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) and say there has been far too much light optimism as to the possibilities of post-war civil aviation. Some Members have spoken, and some people outside have publicised the idea, of post-war civil aviation until one imagines that round the aerodromes of the world will be found people in sidcot suits holding up their fingers and saying "What about a pound on the Lancaster Lass or 10s. on the Manchester Maid?"—folloWinģ up the good tradition of the Brighton Belle.
Let us look at it closely. What is the estimate for this country for post-war civil aviation? Speaking in another place last Session, the Lord Privy Seal gave what he described as a tentative figure of 2,000 aeroplanes that would be wanted for the use of this country in civil aviation. There has appeared in America an account of the pre-war American production of civil machines, and if you analyse the figures you will find that pre-war it took a labour force of 100 men over the year to produce one civil aircraft. This is not taking into account all the improvements that have taken place since. One hundred to produce one civil aircraft. Take the Lord Privy Seal's figure and you find, on the only estimate yet given by the Government, that the maximum number that you would require is 200,000 men. Members of this House have some 1331 idea of the number of persons engaged in aircraft production in this country at the present time. I am giving nothing away if I say that the number employed is more than ten times 200,000, and we ought, in approaching this figure, to be very careful on that employment issue. What we ought to say to those who are producing aircraft to-day is, "Nine out of ten of you, as far as civil aircraft is concerned, will not be wanted."
I leave the argument for employment, but, going back to the arguments adduced and from our past experience, we can add the fact that at least we have shown that we can produce first-class aircraft, and that we can produce the men and the teams to fly them. Further, taking into account all these weighty arguments, on top we find the fact that, before the war, we were exceedingly backward in the development of civil aircraft. It seems, therefore, from all this, that on the grounds of geography, history, political economy and geodesy, we are impelled to move. [HON. MEMBERS: "What 1S geodesy?"] So far we can all be agreed, but the real question is not whether we ought to move, but in what direction are we going to move? The implication for most of the arguments adduced in many quarters of going forward energetically has been rather on the basis that all we need to do is to get the Dominions together, get them to agree, and then, as a Commonwealth and Empire, go straight ahead. Arguments have been adduced in this House to the effect that we should dismiss the international approach which the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) has so cogently put. "Brush it aside," we are told, "it is impossible. It is something idealistic. It is something for the future."
When international approach to this problem is brushed aside in that way, it means, in effect, that those who use that argument are saying: "You have to get on with civil aviation anyhow." In other words, the British Empire has to get its place in the air, an argument which seems to me too highly reminiscent of a Power in Europe which once insisted upon its place in the sun. It is an argument that derives only from the urge for power and prestige. It is an argument which leads eventually to war. It could be more forcefully put than it was by the hon. 1332 and gallant Member for Watford (Group Captain Helmore) in his maiden speech in this House on 1st June, 1943, after he had listened to some of the arguments that I have been summarising. I do not tie him to the inferences I have drawn from them, but he had listened to those arguments and his conclusion was—I cannot better his own words:I believe that our peoples are fighting for this ideal of freedom and for the ending of war, but if one might judge from the tone of some of the remarks which have been made to-day, civil aviation might well tend to become one of the most productive instruments for the promoting of wars ever conceived."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st June, 1943; C01. 63, Vol. 390.]There speaks the voice of one with more knowledge than most of us in this House. The reaction of his mind to all this weight of argument directed towards getting back civil aviation anyhow was that it was leading, not to peace, but to war.
Is international control really impossible? For the purpose of my argument I limit myself to the matter of the main traffic routes and ask whether it is impossible to get international control in the full sense over these main traffic routes. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Nuneaton has already given the House the views of some of our Dominions. That is a commencement. I do not know what will be the views of the United States of America, and I do not want to say a single thing that will imperil the possibility of an agreement with them. But we have to be frank and say that the tendencies, as far as one can discover them, in the United States of America at the present time are clearly against the idea of an effective international instrument. [Interruption.] The hon. Member opposite says "Of course they are." That is confirmation of the view which I have formed, that they do not desire international control. Very well, does the House say that the United States of America, or any other single Power in this world, is going to have the right to veto for all time a peace-time international control of civil aviation?
We have had enough of arguments such as that from the hon. Gentleman who said, "Yes, you can have your international control so long as you get everybody in." It is the best argument for delay and for doing nothing, that they can find. I am prepared to see international civil air co- 1333 operation established, even if the United States does not come in, and even if we cannot get Russia in. I am prepared to start it off with liberated Holland and liberated France. I am asked from the other side how do I know whether they will come in. We shall know whether they will come in or not when His Majesty's Government have the courage to stand up and ask the world whether it will come in. So far, they have never given any lead or direction of this kind. I say until they have done so it is not right for anybody to say, "How do you know whether anybody will come in or not?" You will know the answer when you ask them. It is up to us to take the lead in this matter.
It is true that there have been references in another place to an international air transport authority. The Lord Privy Seal said there that an international air transport authority had been agreed upon at a conference he had held, a conference with representatives of the Dominions. But all we know at the moment is that the Lord Privy Seal has been in one of his back rooms, playing a game of poker. I do not know what skill the Noble Lord has at that game—and that may not be relevant—but, at least, we are entitled to know what the stakes were. What was the ante? We have not been told. Everybody in this country has an interest in this matter but, as I have said, all we know is that an international air transport authority was agreed upon by those who were at that conference. We do not know whether this authority is only a regulatory authority, which would establish various tests to be applied to machines, the various qualifications to be expected from pilots and crews and so on—in other words, whether it was limited to what one might call the rules of the air.
But that is not taking us anywhere. After all, if we are going in the direction of peace, what is the good of talking about rules of the air? The largest battleships ever made obey the rules of the sea. The true test is ownership and operation. If they remain national, they lead, inevitably, towards war; if they remain in private hands, we know what that means. Private interests will operate one against the other. If the private interests of our country conflict with those of another, the Government, with all their forces will follow, the Foreign Office will back us up and the United States Government and other Governments will back up their own 1334 concerns. Business will establish a bridgehead and the Armed Forces will be called in to consolidate. If it is in private hands—and I cannot understand why this query has not been raised before—does it mean that we shall then get proper development?
We have had conflicting statements supporting the view that air transport should be privately developed and that the shipping companies should be allowed to come in. But are the shipping companies the persons to be trusted with the development of our civil aviation? If we look over our shoulders a little, we can see how much encouragement and development came to the canals of this country after they had been bought by the railways. Therefore, we should see how much development the civil aircraft industry would get from the shipping companies after their traffic cream had been skimmed off by aeroplanes. But even if our civil aviation in this country were nationally owned that would not, of itself, be a guarantee of future peace. Even then, there would be a danger of the national interest of Governments stepping behind a national economic interest of their own civil aviation. Neither the one nor the other meets the case of preparing for peace. Still less would it read to peace if civil aviation were kept under the control of the Air Ministry. How could it fail to breed suspicion and distrust if civil and military aviation were linked and administered from under the same roof? It would mean that every development would be suspect; every effort to expand and increase facilities would be regarded by suspicion by the rest of the world as some clever method of expanding our air power, and not as a genuine attempt to increase our civil aviation.
It would also prevent the growth of a really civil type of aircraft. There is good technical ground for saying that if you divorce civil aircraft completely from military aircraft it is only a matter of a few years before the types would become so different that you would not be able to confuse one with the other. Further, it is said that the convertability question will die down and that civil aviation can grow healthily as a servant of peace. I dismiss those two contentions and I ask Members to realise that the only solution is civil aviation, internationally owned and controlled. That is the only possible 1335 method of moving towards peace and removing suspicion. It is the only way of getting freedom of the air and it is impossible to achieve this unless you have in the air machines that everybody knows cannot be connected with military effort and destruction. That is the only way to bring about the change I want to see. It is a big change but it is one we must create. The Under-Secretary stated just now that the Air Training Corps will be a part of our programme after the war, especially in connection with the training of pilots. Very well, but let us not forget what the A.T.C. exemplifies to-day in the minds of our youth. What do our children say of the machines in the air, what do they think of them? They think of how many guns they can carry, their fire power, the damage they can do and the weight of bombs they can unload. Those are the questions they ask. That is what the vision of the aeroplane means to them.
I remember when I was a boy, on the hills of Pembrokeshire, watching the ships coming down the Irish Sea, ships of all sizes—liners, tramps, and small coasters—and my interest, along with that of other boys, was: Where do they come from, where are they going, what are they carrying and who are the lucky peöple travelling on them? That was a vision of peace and service to mankind and we have to see to it that our children shall see the vision of aircraft as something harmlessly carrying goods and persons for the benefit of man-kind. It is only on the line of an international air service, civilly owned and controlled, that we can bring back to our children that vision.
Group Captain Wriģht (Birmingham, Erdington)
The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who moved the Amendment, and the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Huģhes), who seconded it, have made speeches which were full of inaccuracies about the past and will prove inaccurate as regards the future. Perhaps because they were talking about the air, they both got their heads into the clouds and I hope I may bring the discussion back to a rather more realist state.
Group Captain Wriģht
Yes. I always thought I rather favoured the idea 1336 of an international air organisation until I tried to visualise the picture which was built up by the mover and seconder of the Amendment. As I heard about this body of control, presumably by an individual or a group of individuals, and was told that they might order all my transport to be cut off I began to wonder why we are fighting this war. If we had not bothered to fight the war, Hitler would have done that very thing for us. No, that is not the picture of international co-operation as I see it. I should like to think that we could go a good deal further than it is obviously practicable to go to-day. It is no good getting up in this House, in this tiny corner of the world, and airing these idealistic views, saying that we will defy America and Russia and get together with liberated Holland and—
Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes
I cannot allow my remarks to be represented in that way. I never suggested an alliance with any of our Allies. I said that if we suggested a certain course to follow and they did not agree, then we might go on alone.
Group Captain Wriģht
It is no good talking as the hon. and learned Member has been talking; we have to face the world as we find it. Whether it is a pity or not, there is no question that there could not be any internationalisation, so long as America and Soviet Russia hold their present views. After all, these two great Powers and ourselves will be the three strongest Powers of the United Nations when final victory has been won. If we are to reconstruct the world, we shall have to work together in the closest co-operation in order to attain that end. Otherwise, we shall slide back to conditions which will eventually produce another war. When I and some other hon. Members initiated a Debate on this subject last June, I was appalled at the lack of vision which was shown in many of the speeches that were made at that time. Civil aviation was then referred to as though it were merely a rich man's pastime. To-day, I notice, the tone has changed. Both the mover and seconder of the Amendment started their speeches by saying that civil aviation was a good thing, and then proceeded to spend their 1337 time in saying what an unimportant part it would play in our future.
Group Captain Wriģht
I suggest that the value of civil air transport cannot possibly be measured in terms of money. It is not only the number of machines that are built, the number of bases which are manned, and the number of factories making ancillary parts which come into being. It is the great results which are brought about by this new form of transport, which will bring mankind all over the world so much closer together. It will enable us, for instance, to develop emigration. I have always felt that one of the reasons why emigration was not very popular was because that people living in a country like this, with such a high standard of living, were inclined to get a little soft and were not anxious to become pioneers and to develop great tracts in the Dominions and other parts of the world which are waiting for development. People felt that they would be cut off from their own land, but the advent of a proper air transport system will change the whole of that outlook. It is developments of that kind which we have to bear in mind and not merely the comparatively small monetary effect of the actual civil aircraft industry itself.
Since that Debate in June, some of the things which I and my hon. Friends asked for have been done. We asked, first, that the direction of the policy of civil aviation should be put into the hands of a Cabinet Minister. The Lord Privy Seal has been entrusted with that task, and I think we can say that, for the first time for a very long while, we have someone who, at all events, is trying to do something. He called together an Empire conference. We do not know very much about it but we hope that it was on the whole satisfactory.
I am rather distressed when I hear suggestions that some of the Dominions may not be willing to play all together, in the British Commonwealth of Nations, in this matter of civil aviation. I hope those suggestions are not true, because it seems to me that, if we are hoping to develop a big industry in air transport, merely from these small British Islands, we are certain to be disappointed and we cannot hope to be more than a fifth-rate Power in the air. Obviously, when we consider ourselves, as we must, vis-a-vis the United States and 1338 the great Soviet Republic, we find that these two nations have territories within the confines of which they are able themselves to develop a very large transport industry. We have nothing of that kind. Air transport inside the British Islands can never be a very great matter. Our own distances are so small and our present communications so good, that there are very few routes inside these islands which will enable us to develop a sizeable undertaking.
But, if you look at the globe and study the geographical position of the British Commonwealth of Nations, you see an area which is almost ideally laid out for the development of a great system of air transport. I wonder whether it is that our brothers in the Dominions are fearful that we should want too large a share of the control. Just as it is certainly impossible for us to develop as a single country to any great extent, vis-a-vis the United States and Russia, how much more difficult would it be for each of them? I wonder whether it is not the old fear that playing with the Mother Country means once more coming under its domination. I feel that the Government should make it as clear as they can, that our desire is to work together as one great unit, in this matter of development in the air, as equal partners, each having its own proper share and sphere. I cannot but think that, if we could get each constituent part to realise that that is what we mean, we should have no great difficulty in acting together. I hope it may be so.
Our next move, obviously, must be towards a world conference. I hope that we shall consent to be represented at it only provided all the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations are present, because I feel that we must bring them into this in order to show them that we really want to work as one unit. At that conference, we have to decide just what is meant by this rather loose talk of freedom of the air. The mover of the Amendment pointed out the absurd situation that existed before, the war, when he could not fly from this country to Istanbul except by going all round the Mediterranean. That state of affairs must be done away with for ever after the war. We must have the free right of innocent passage, and we must have the right of landing in an emergency and for refuelling.
1339 The next matter that is going to cause a headache is the question of bases. Certain factions in America have been demanding unofficially in the Press that, because certain bases have been built with American labour and American money, they should continue to have the right to use them indefinitely. I think it is quite a wrong view that, because something has been built up for the defeat of the enemy, it should be used as a lever for an advantage in the post-war period. After all, material and labour have been expended in the building of aircraft carriers, and it is just fortuitous that the one development will be useful in peace, while the other, we hope, will not be required after the end of hostilities. Therefore, I hope that in all our negotiations, we shall insist that things of that kind, which have come about through our joint action in fighting the common enemy, shall not be taken into consideration when we are negotiating for the postwar period. My own feeling is that bases should be open all over the world on a reciprocal basis.
The third thing that this international conference should tackle is the setting-up of an international body for the standardisation of control and the fixing of all matters to do with pilotage on the technical side. Such a body might have the power to call regional conferences for the purpose of settling schedules and rates, so as to do away with that undesirable feature of air transport before the war—subsidies. The only way in which you can really deal with the question of subsidies is by the fixing of rates.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman now agrees that the time has come for the divorcement of civil aviation from the Air Ministry. I do not blame the Air Minister for any lack of development of civil aviation. With the niggardly amounts that have been doled out to him from the Estimates, he would have been failing in his duty if he had done anything else but put first and foremost the building up of the Royal Air Force. There is no doubt that that had its effect, with the result that civil aviation, always, has had to play a second part. The time has come, indeed has passed, when it needs to be put under a Minister whose mind will be entirely divorced from fighting the war and building up the war machine, and whose one desire will be to think about the future 1340 and the development of civil aviation as a means of peace. It is nonsense to talk about the air as though its greatest potential were war. By far its greatest potential is the bringing of peace, because it has the one necessary attribute for peace, quick communication. We want someone who will not be frightened by Air Chief Marshal Harris when he says, "I will not have a man or a piece of material diverted from the production of my bombers." All the civil air transport that we need worry about at present could be produced by the diversion of not more than one per cent. of the effort of our great aircraft industry.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman compare what he has just said with the fact that it has taken us three years to produce two agricultural labourers' cottages? Does he think that expensive aeroplanes are more important than the Housinģ of the people after the war?
I certainly do not think they are so important, but one thing does not depend on the other. I hope we can have a clear statement from the Government, first as to a supply of adequate air transport machines now, and, secondly, as to the principles of British air line operation both in the Empire and to foreign countries.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
One could only feel that the proposer and seconder of the Amendment were living in a world of fantasy in regard to this proposal of world ownership of civil aviation. It seemed as if the last 25 years had not passed at all, as if we were still living in the same idealistic atmosphere as that in which we lived when we gave every encouragement to the League of Nations and as if we still relied, just as we did then, on the co-operation of the rest of the world. Until the rest of the world co-operate, and we know that they are prepared to co-operate, we must not take the risks that we took long ago and in which we failed so badly. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend in thinking that State ownership could not possibly be a solution of the problem because, instead of having great corporations competing with each other in different parts of the world, you would have States competing against each other. If the purpose of hon. Members who have made this proposal is to avoid war, they are taking the 1341 very quickest way to bring war about again.
I want, however, to confine my remarks to a much narrower issue. Whatever the developments in civil aviation—and of course they are bound to be wide—they will depend upon suitable terminals. There is one important terminal at present in Great Britain and it is located in Scotland. I will not be more specific in my reference to its location for security reasons, though I understand that the B.B.C. have failed to observe similar restraint. Still, this terminal has been in existence for the period of the war and some time before.
Owing chiefly to the imagination, enterprise and capacity of its original station commander, fostered and aided by the Air Ministry, it has become the most efficient, adaptable and suitable terminal for its purpose in and around these islands. Nature has also lent a hand in the provision of this most suitable terminal. It is free from fog, it has a good terrain, surrounded, I need hardly say to those who know Scotland, by lovely scenery, and it is adjacent to a suitable sea base. The Scottish people have been filled with a very natural desire to complete the gaps that nature, or the Air Ministry, or the station commander has left unfilled. Therefore, suitable hotels have been created in the district, there is an efficient transport system, and there are also, although this may not appeal to hon. Members, an adequate number of distilleries in the neighbourhood.
It might, therefore, well have been thought that this terminal would be unanimously adopted as the post-war terminal for this country. But that is not now a certainty because some doubts have recently arisen, largely due to rumours in circulation which have associated the Azores and Iceland as terminals for west to east traffic. If that is the case, it is time that we in this House registered our view on the suitability of Britain for the terminals for all Civil Aviation proceeding from east to west or west to east. There may be financial or international interests involved, but we would be failing in our duty if we did not make sure that Britain, which will in all probability be the bridge between the United States and our Russian Allies in political matters, is reinforced in that position by having an air terminal for Civil Aviation which will help to unite these two great countries in the future. 1342 We in Scotland are not greedy. We recognise that though we have much merit and worth, there are others who have rights. What I feel, and I am sure the rest of my Scottish friends will agree, is that in Britain—and I insist on "Britain"—there should be two terminals, one for the Northern route, say, from Canada and the United States to the Scandinavian countries and Russia, and the other for the Southern route between South America, the Latin countries and India.
I want to make certain that, in view of its geographical position and of the political duties and responsibilities that Britain will have to fulfil in future, there should be placed in Britain, and in Britain alone, those terminals which are to play such a vitally important part in the future peace of the world. I am glad that my hon. and gallant Friend stressed the fact that civil aviation is and should be designed for peace. If there is to be peace—and real peace may be a long time off yet—it will surely be by the rapid bringing together of the various peoples who were formerly at war and at cross purposes with each other. Here we have the instrument, the weapon of peace. Let us keep it and use it for peace, but let us make sure that we are provided with the machinery by which its purposes can be secured.
§ Mr. Granville (Eye)
We must be nearer to some ideal of what civil aviation should be when hon. Members begin, as several have, to make claims for their own parts of the world as the air terminals of the future. My own feeling is that we are not near yet to such a practical basis for discussing this question. An hon. Member said that he hoped the Dominions were not afraid that there would be too much control from London in international aviation. I do not think that this is what the Dominions are afraid of. They are afraid that they will not get a lead from us. If that is the case, the likelihood is that, instead of coming to London to get co-operation in international civil aviation they will do what they did in regard to aviation before the war, and make a close association with the United States of America. We have had a number of Debates on civil aviation, but some of the best Debates have been initiated in another place. Therefore we are grateful to the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who was fortunate in the Ballot, 1343 for having raised the question of the international aspect of civil aviation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), in a previous discussion said, referring to the international ownership and control of civil aviation, that "that bird won't fly." We have had the opportunity of listening to contributions from the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary, whom we are glad has arrived safely back, and we have discussed routes, airfields, engines, air-frames, and so on. We have discussed every conceivable problem connected with post-war civil aviation, but the Government have never yet become air-borne on this subject.
As a result of discussions in this House and another place, the Lord Privy Seal was, as a Cabinet Minister, given a special responsibility, because there is considerable interest in the question of what plans the Government have for future civil aviation. As far as we have heard from the Debates in another place and reports in the newspapers, the Lord Privy Seal was to take a hand in the tentative and, I suppose, delicate and difficult discussions and negotiations. There were to be discussions, I understand, with the United States and the American Press was full of the matter. There has been a lapse of time since then, and I would like to ask my right hon. and gallant Friend whether anything has happened. Have the discussions with the United States taken place? Are we to understand that the Lord Privy Seal has been to America to initiate them? If they have not taken place, we ought to be told what is the obstacle that prevented them. Have the Government changed their policy and have we to witness a spectacle of seeing what progress has been made shelved? I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us exactly where we now stand with regard to the first steps towards agreement on international post-war policy. I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft Production is attending this Debate. Perhaps he will enlighten us and tell us something of the new prototypes that have been built and of the progress made by his Department in the design of new types of civil aircraft. We are grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton for raising this aspect and I do not share the opinion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who 1344 spoke later and who said that he was talking so much in the air.
If we are to have a United Nations policy after the war and mean it, and if it is not to be merely lip service, and if we are to have a United Nations or international air police, it seems to me that, whether we like it or not, we shall have forced upon us international control or international ownership of civil aviation. I have heard hon. Members say that there must be complete control of the production of aircraft and its allied industries after the war, not only in Germany and Italy, but in other countries. I have heard it argued that Germany cannot be allowed to produce her own aircraft on the hypothesis that the production of civil aircraft quickly becomes bomber production. The suit case goes out and the bomb goes in. In the days when the late Chancellor was Secretary of State for Air, those of us who used to raise this subject advocated that the real power in the air is not aircraft, guns and bombs, but the air industrial war potential. Germany's great effort was made largely behind the shield of the Luft Hansa. She was producing civil prototypes, and we know now that these were in many ways the basic design of some of the bombers she produced for the present war.
I should have thought that one of the lessons we have learned from what has happened in the Far East is that there is no security with a long line of bombers, pilots and crews ready in the event of aggression. The only real security is a decentralised industrial war potential throughout the Allied Nations of the future. We had to cart our aircraft to the Far East on the decks of tramp steamers. This must not happen again, and it is here that international civil aviation must play its part. After the war we must decentralise our civil aviation industrial potential throughout the British Commonwealth. You can no longer have central production of aeroplanes, engines, equipment, radiolocation and so on, in one single spot, because in that case we should be repeating the mistakes of the past, and there would be no real security. We must decentralise. We must tell the Dominions and the Allied nations, and those who co-operate with us on an international basis, that there must be a comprehensive arrangement which will mean something like a redistribution of our international economy. For security 1345 against aggression, this must be the basis of closer co-operation. When we come to discuss whether the Government are to have all of their civil prototype production in this country, I hope they will tell us the answer is "No" and that they are going to encourage production in Australia, South Africa, India, and even Palestine, and in other parts of the world.
One hon. Member referred to the question of the airfields being constructed throughout the world. We read from time to time of the construction that is going on, and the reports about this coming from the United States. What is to happen to the tremendous number of airfields that have been built by the United States and by ourselves all over the world? No doubt the Under-Secretary of State for Air remembers the days when it was a very great struggle to find a good airfield in this country or abroad, and when it was very difficult to get facilities for wireless direction. We had never even heard of radiolocation. He remembers also the days of the small, struggling air line. The situation is completely changed now, and we have vast airfields all over the world erected by the Allied Nations. There is also tremendous technical development in radiolocation and meteorological research. When we are talking about international co-operation, surely one of the first things that the United Nations can do after the war is to put these facilities and these airfields, which are the great links between the old and the new world, upon a basis of international control and ownership.
During the war, we have found it very easy to Exchanģe technical war information among the members of the United Nations. We have Exchanģed all our aircraft industry secrets with the United States. I hope we do so also with the U.S.S.R. Surely it is possible now for the Government to begin to Exchanģe information which they have at their disposal with regard to radiolocation and the various safety devices which have recently been developed, and the technical information at their disposal with regard to de-icing. I would like specifically to ask the Under-Secretary of State to give us an assurance on this matter. The Secretary of State referred to the dangers of icing up. This is an important question, vital to the future of civil aviation, because we shall have to persuade a large 1346 number of people who are not airminded that flying is safe. Can we have an assurance that we are making strides on this? This recalls a dark page in the history of civil aviation in this country before the war. That was the question as to whether Imperial Airways had effective de-icing devices at their disposal. We must not allow this sort of thing to happen in the future, and the Government must be prepared to make sure that any improvement in safety equipment is available, not only to this country, but elsewhere.
In regard to the coming conference of Dominion Prime Ministers I would like to ask whether the Government are going to discuss this question of co-operation between the members of the Commonwealth of Nations. We have raised this matter in the House of Commons over and over again. Replies from the Deputy-Prime Minister told us that the Government would consult with the Dominions when they got an opportunity. It is vital that we should get together, because if we do not, I am certain—and the evidence is now before us—that the nations will go to the United States for their co-operation. Therefore I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give the House an assurance that co-operation in international civil aviation will be discussed at the coming conference of Dominion Prime Ministers. I realise that the question is closely associated with the vast production effort which is going on in the aircraft industry at the present time in this country. I hear of all kinds of committees to deal with this matter in the future, official and unofficial, to consider the future of civil aviation and whether there is to be a turn over of bombers to become airliners.
In any disarmament arrangement at the peace table I should like to see the complete scrapping of military aircraft at the end of the war. It would have many arguments to support it. If I had my way, I would see all military aircraft scrapped, so that Germany would not be in a position to say that we were producing another Versailles, If we were going, upon that basis, to set up an international police force through the United Nations, we could be certain of having the newest prototypes available for an international police force. I am convinced that, in so 1347 doing, we should help the younger generation in this country to see the aircraft of the future, not only as destroyers but as a great service to mankind.
Fliģht-Lieutenant Teelinģ (Brighton)
I listened with the greatest interest to the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), especially when he was talking about the future of civil aviation. He gave us the most pessimistic possible idea of what will happen, so much so that I was tempted to rush to the Library to read the speeches that must have been made in this House when railway trains and motor cars first came. Can the hon. Member really believe that there is such an appallingly small future for civil aviation in the years to come after the war? He spoke about freight, saying that it presents problems of great difficulty. My mind goes back to the days before the war in New Guinea, when you could not possibly get places for airfields, but now there are new airfields there and others being developed. All made by flying-in freight and it will be done again. The Northern part of Australia is being made habitable by air development, and there are the same possibilities in Canada. What is to happen in the Northern territories of Canada? Surely the air must count in its development. These things are not only possibilities for the future, but absolute certainties. If it is the policy of the Labour Party to decry the future of the air, I do not think they will ever get young men or young women to join them.
When he came to the question of internationalism, I was amazed to hear the hon. Member talk about sanctions and to praise the internationalism attempted before the war. He talked on the line that we were, presumably, going to give up, after this war, all our air advantages, and possibly we would wait until Germany starts all over again—and then I suppose we are to have another armaments and air race after her.
Of course he did. We get on very dangerous ground in talking about internationalism after the war if it means forgetting all about what we have done since the war started and what the whole Empire is doing now. 1348 Surely the hon. Member has plenty of time these days to meet pilots from foreign countries who are in this country. There are many from the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and so on, and many of them were connected with the great air lines in the past. No doubt they have ambitions of greater air lines in the future. Can anybody tell us who, in Holland, Belgium or France, is able to learn to fly to-day or to do any flying? So far as I can see, no pilots are being produced that can be used by those countries except the pilots who are here at the present time, fighting with us. We can satisfy ourselves by talking to them that there is very little internationalism about their ideas for the future. Every one of them is longing to get back again, the Dutch to develop Java, Sumatra, or the Belgians to fly to the Congo. I cannot help thinking sometimes that our own young pilots may be looking out for jobs of that kind for themselves after the war. These boys are not going to settle down in small towns in this country. They cannot do it, after having flown all over the world. They will want to get out to other places, such as the Dominions, and work and fly there. I hope it is going to be possible, and I want my right hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State to do something to make it possible.
For instance, young pilots from South Africa or Canada, say, may be in our squadrons, in North Africa or elsewhere. They may make friends with other young pilots from this country. I know that on more than one occasion the boys from Great Britain have been asked to go out and work in the countries of these newfound friends after the war. These pilots want to know whether there is any set policy, so that all these young fellows can go out and do their flying in the Dominions after the war. These are the more practical points which we have to think of at the present time. What is to happen after the war to these young men, who are very anxious at the present moment? The speeches that we have heard from the other side so far will depress them more than you can imagine, and will make them believe that nobody in the Labour Party is going to think of their future, if the whole of flying is to be pooled, in some odd way, internationally. They are afraid they may have to go back to the old muddle that 1349 existed before the war, and to the old jobs. That is a frightening prospect.
The other day, speaking in this House, I pointed out that many foreigners abroad were looking to the British Empire, even more than they were to Russia or to the United States, because these foreigners feel that in their many ways the majority of the people abroad have a great deal more in common with us that perhaps with those two other countries. They are wondering how we and our Dominions are going to develop and carry on together. They have seen in this country already, I think, in more than one Bill produced by this Government in the last few weeks that we have a great post-war future. As regards programmes for the post-war period, would it not be possible to give still further encouragement to these foreigners? If they could read that the British Dominions and Colonies have got together with Great Britain and have produced a civil aviation plan which will be the first of the great plans of Britain and the Dominions working together in the future—could they find that, then I think they will be encouraged to believe that Great Britain and the Dominions are going to work together closely in many other problems as well. Civil aviation might be the first great Empire programme. It could happen, I think very soon.
I would beg that everything possible should be done at the earliest possible moment. I would not be keen to go to the United States and make arrangements with them yet. To my mind it is not the time to bother them with this sort of thing. They have far too much to think of in the next few months about their own affairs. But if we could get down to this question with our Dominions and Colonies that would be the first step taken. I know that the Dominions are as keen as we are and have basically the same ideals as we have for post-war developments. I am sure they want to keep the traditions and ideals of their own civil aviation and not internationalise it straight away, if at all. If we can get them working with us now, and then go to the United States in a year's time we shall be conferring the greatest possible benefit on aviation for the future.
I think it would be an excellent idea if we could possibly have all preliminaries undertaken by a separate Ministry as soon 1350 as possible. Our Service transport after the war will require to be looked after by the Air Ministry. There will be plenty of transporting of troops, policemen and so on to be done, and that should remain the Air Ministry's function, but the civil aviation side, the planning of aircraft and so on, should be separate. I do not suppose that the civil aircraft we shall have after the war are likely to be ready for the next four or five years—we ought therefore to get on with our planning now. We have to get more money, more encouragement for the actual planning, for research and for design. Do not forget that in this war we have shown ourselves to be the best possibly of all countries in the design of war aircraft. We had not really done much about civil aircraft before the war because there was not such a field for it. Now that field is opening up more and more day by day, no matter what the hon. Member opposite says. The time has come when far more money and time must be given, not only in this country but in the Dominions as well, to enable us to go on producing and developing and inventing as we have done in the past, thus perpetuating the reputation which we have gained throughout the world, during this war.
Mr. Bellenģer (Bassetlaw)
I must congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brighton (Fliģht-Lieutenant Teelinģ). He has evidently learned some of the art of debating before he came to this House. It is a well known method to put up an Aunt Sally and then knock it down, a most effective way if you want to reach a certain conclusion. He raised, in the case of my two hon. Friends on this side of the House, a very useful Aunt Sally for his purpose of demolishing an argument which was never put to the House by them. I do not, however, propose to spend any time in trying to convince him and the House that my hon. Friends did not say what he said they said. With the very laudable intentions which hon. Members on all sides of the House have urged that our civil aviation should, after the war, operate for the benefit of the whole of mankind, for peace and all that sort of thing, I think we are all in agreement. What we are not quite in agreement with hon. Gentlemen opposite about is how we are to own and operate these wonderful instruments of peace. My knowledge of history is not so voluminous as that of my 1351 better educated hon. Friends opposite, but I do seem to remember that when I was being taught some of the history of my own country in the days, I think it was, of Good Queen Bess, we were always told of the wonderful exploits of Raleigh, Drake and those who laid the foundations of our modern shipping industry. How did they do it? In two ways. One, they operated from a base that was the gateway to Europe in those days but which will not necessarily be the gateway to Europe in civil aviation after the war. Secondly, they proceeded to despoil the Spaniards, who had got to the West Indies before we had.
When we come to deal with civil aviation after the war we shall not be able to put our air transport on that basis. If we attempt to do so we shall be beaten. The Americans are far better at that game than we are. The air will not be as free as the sea. It is, therefore, obvious that we have to come to some amicable arrangement with other countries, including America. How are we to do it? Are we to set about it in the way the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Huģhes) has referred to in the matter of playing poker, of holding certain cards in our own hands which we do not disclose to the other side until we attempt to call them or they attempt to call us? I do not think so. I think we must do it, in spite of what some hon. Members on the other side say, from the idealistic point of view. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) suggested we were talking the same language as we talked 25 years ago when we spoke of the League of Nations. There is no finer instrument in international honesty to-day than the Covenant of the League of Nations, and sooner or later we have to come back to fundamental principles like that in international relations.
All that my two hon. Friends suggested was that although we must start off on an idealistic basis that does not necessarily mean it is unpractical. Various things were suggested about the business methods or the bargaining methods of America. I do not intend to say whether they are good, bad or indifferent, but I believe that the peoples of the countries all over the world, including America, will have more to say after this war in the control of such potential enemies of 1352 mankind as air power than they did before the war. In this country I hope that it will be the policy of the party to which I belong to see that the people of this country are fully seized of all the ramifications of free enterprise, private enterprise, when it comes to air instruments which can act to their detriment and torture, as they do in wartime. Therefore, I am fully in agreement with my hon. Friends here that we should attempt to devise some financial and operative instrument that will be international and not entirely national after this war. I am not going to say that we shall get it in five minutes. Rome was not built in a day, nor was our wonderful air superiority. Therefore, I do not attempt to lay down any conclusion that we shall be able to get an easy agreement with America and Russia, but I believe in the case of Russia that she is actuated, as I hope my own country will be, by the highest possible motives, namely, utilising all her raw materials, all her air transport, and all the methods of production and transport, for the benefit of peoples and not for one exclusive set.
The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs and the hon. and gallant Member for the Erdington Division (Group-Captain Wriģht) talked of the high standards of living in this country and the necessity, therefore, of a well-developed civil aviation in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I quite agree, but I think hon. Members opposite are living in a fools' paradise if they think that all these wonderful benefits of quick and cheap transport will come to the average person in this country for many years after this war. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because it will take a long time before we are able to reduce the rates and prices of air transport, taking into account the safety factors, to the level of the average person whose income will be £3 or £4 a week. Hon. Members opposite know that aviation was a rich man's sport before the war, Many of my hon. Friends opposite who owned and travelled in their own planes know that it was right out of the reach of the mass of the people of this country before the war, and I imagine it will be for many years after this war.
§ Mr. Wakefield (Swindon)
Is the hon. Member aware that nowadays a light aircraft can be obtained more cheaply and 1353 run more cheaply than a small-horse-powered motor car?
That sounds rather like the £100 "People's car" in Germany—it sounds all right on paper. But the people in Germany never got their £100 car. I do not suppose that in this country they will get their light-powered aeroplane. My hon. Friend ought to know that there is something more involved than owning a light-powered plane. The question, especially of landing facilities, etc., will help to put private flying beyond the reach of the ordinary individual. I am not concerned with private ownership, however, but with what most people are concerned with—going to a ticket office, putting money down and getting a ticket to where one wants to go. Is that impossible under some international arrangement? I should think it is more probable under an international arrangement than it would be if we leave the development of this industry to the sort of organisation which the Under-Secretary knows about and was interested in before the war. That could not produce cheap air travel for the mass of people of this country. Let him get up and say that, with all his knowledge, especially the knowledge he has now through his stay at the Air Ministry, that that is a feasible proposition for our own people, within our lifetime, after the war and I shall be very surprised. What my hon. Friends have suggested is this: allow as much development as possible, permit it, encourage it, but do not limit it to the shipping companies which are now getting ready to secure all the profits they can out of it. They are not concerned with air transport as a primary factor in their operation but as a subsidiary factor.
Let some hon. Members cast their minds back to the way in which we dealt with the film industry. We passed an Act that a certain quota of films shown in this country be British made. What has happened? American finance has got into this country and is making films in this country for us to-day. We do not want anything like that. What we want is to see that the aeroplanes we have are produced by British money and by British effort, but not to the exclusion of any effort that may be made by our friends and present Allies overseas.
I look forward to the time when, in spite of my hon. Friends opposite, we 1354 shall be able to make these arrangements with other countries. I believe, although I have not any evidence to produce at the moment, that Russia at any rate will play in with us in this matter. [Interruption.] Well, I believe so: let hon. Members opposite produce evidence to the contrary. The Russians have shown by all their pre-war efforts that they were prepared to play with us if we played with them, but we did not; we fooled about. So far as America is concerned, I am not so confident, but I believe that our Dominions, which offer excellent facilities, landing grounds and so forth, will be prepared to work in with us. Every action they have taken to support us in the prosecution of this war points to that conclusion. But we shall have to offer them, not the jerry built financial arrangements we had before the war but something better. I have the greatest hope for the future of civil aviation everywhere in the world so long as it is based on all those idealistic principles which some of my hon. Friends opposite have done so much to decry.
§ Major C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)
Most hon. Members who have spoken so far have outlined in some detail their own hypothetical plans for the future of civil aviation. I want to get back to realities. I want to delve for a short time into the ramifications, the constitutional and legal position, of the British Overseas Airways Corporation. This must, necessarily, be somewhat technical, but I hope hon. Members will bear with me while I try to explain the present position. British Overseas Airways Corporation was established in 1939 by the British Overseas Airways Act. That Act provided for a chairman of the Corporation, a deputy-chairman, and nine to 15 other members. Although the Act of 1939 provided for this, the Corporation was not, in fact, formed until 1st April—I ask hon. Members to note the date—1940. The members of the Board of British Overseas Airways Corporation are appointed by the Secretary of State, and he fixes their remuneration. There is now a chairman, a deputy-chairman, and there are five other members of the Board. At the moment the Act is not being implemented. As I have said, the Secretary of State is empowered to fix the remuneration of those directors. I would ask whether he fixes only the directors' fees, or whether there is any managerial 1355 remuneration due to any member of the Board apart from his director's fees: also, whether any member of the Board has a contract for a term of years, and whether the remuneration is the same over the period of years of the contract.
This is the important point. The Board of the Corporation fix the remuneration of the employees of the Corporation. I would like to know how many senior executives the Corporation employ, whether all those executives are doing active jobs, and whether they are working on the jobs they were appointed to do or on some hypothetical jobs affecting Europe or America after the war for which they are now being paid out of public funds? The functions of the Corporation are extremely wide. The Corporation are the chosen instrument of His Majesty's Government and are able to undertake any of the activities which were formerly carried out by Imperial Airways or British Airways. Any other air operations in which they indulge must receive the approval of the Secretary of State. The Act of 1939 goes on to say that, of course, British aircraft and engines must be used, unless the Secretary of State approves to the contrary. Actually, of course, the aircraft that are used and the engines that are used, in the main, are American or converted British Service type machines.
I rather want to delve into the financial aspect of the Corporation. At the moment, as far as I can understand, it is entirely supported by public funds.
Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes
On a point of Order. I had the privilege of seconding this Amendment, which I read with considerable care, and I would ask how far the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member are in Order, in view of the terms of the Amendment?
§ Major Taylor
On that point of Order. I would point out, with the greatest deference, Sir, that this is the chosen Corporation of the British Government in dealing with matters concerned with civil aviation. With the greatest respect, I think that, as it is the only organisation dealing with civil aviation and the only organisation in receipt of public funds at the moment and until 1953, it is certainly related to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will proceed, and, if necessary, I will intervene.
§ Major Taylor
I do not want to labour this point, but I now come to a matter which worries me very much. Grants from public funds not exceeding £4,000,000 a year may be made to the Corporation up to 1953. The Act also states that a balance sheet and figures of the Corporation shall be produced. I believe that this House should be in possession of this balance sheet. Large amounts of public money are being expended, and we should know where that money is going. I am very concerned about the legal and constitutional position of British Overseas Airways Corporation. The Act of 1939 has been whittled down by Orders in Council and Sub-Orders and various Rules and Regulations, and I do not think any of us knows what the true legal position is so far as civil aviation is concerned, at the moment or for the future. It is important because, as I explained when the hon. and learned Member raised his point of Order, it would appear that the whole of our civil aviation plans are tied up in this Corporation, which is the chosen instrument of His Majesty's Government. I understand that at present something like £5,000,000 a year is provided in the Air Estimates—
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of Order. I think many of us are beginning to wonder how fat the legal and financial details of the organisation of a particular Corporation in this country can possibly be brought within the terms of this Amendment. They may be very proper considerations to raise on the general Estimate, but how can they be proper to my hon. Friend's Amendment?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I understand that the hon. and gallant Member is saying that the present organisation is that on which the Government found their future policy, which I understand is the point raised by the Amendment. That, I think, is in Order. I indicated that I would intervene if necessary.
§ Major Taylor
I am finishing now, but I must submit that this is relevant to the discussion. I should like to hear what the British Overseas Airways Corporation actually do. I should like to hear a little more about whether they actually own 1357 aeroplanes, whether they own any airfields, or whether they merely employ personnel, perhaps some very highly-paid personnel—we do not know what they are paid—as employing agents for the Government. I think we should also know the salaries of these officials. I apologise for intervening at this moment, but I feel that, as the Corporation was given power by this House in 1939, and still has power, to continue until 1953, unless the Act is repealed, as the only and chosen instrument for the development of overseas civil aviation, and the only body that will be in receipt of a subsidy at all until 1953, we should know more about the Corporation.
Mr. Quintin Hoģģ (Oxford)
We are engaged in debating an Amendment which deals with the principles upon which post-war aviation will be conducted. I trust that we shall return to the consideration of those principles rather than the particular consideration of the structure and functions of the chosen instrument to which my hon. and gallant Friend has very properly referred. When the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montaģue), on 1st June last, started upon the depressing process of what he then described as debunking much of what was said about civil aviation, he made it clear that he was speaking only for himself. Now we are told that the same position is officially taken up by the party of which he is a Member. I am grateful to those hon. Members who spoke from the opposite side of the House for making that situation so plain. The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), in moving this Amendment, asked why the Government did not get on with a civil aviation policy. He himself made it only too plain what the reason is. The reason is the Labour Party, who have now produced a policy of their own, a restrictive policy, not a policy of development. They have persistently refused to permit any development of civil aviation whatever unless it strictly conforms to their awn doctrinaire approach. Let me say at once that I have no personal financial interest in civil aviation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nor have we."] I feel it necessary to say that because, when hon. Members opposite find that someone disagrees with them, they nearly always describe him as having a financial interest in the matter, but, 1358 when we disagree with their ideas, they proceed to come down with their tablets of stone, engraven, as it were, on Mount Sinai, and say that the only reason we disagree with them is that we are not idealists. The truth is that we do not agree with their ideas at all. We think their policy is a silly policy, we think it is a cowardly policy, we think it is a defeatist policy, and we think that, above all things, it is an ignorant policy—ignorant of the industry with which it proposes to deal, ignorant of the nature of the problem, ignorant of the traditions and interests of this country and ignorant of the essentials of the international co-operation which they themselves pretend to support. We believe that such a policy, if carried into effect, would not only do nothing to further the ideals of international co-operation, but would actually do harm to those very same ideals and would cover in ridicule and contempt both the party and the country which attempted to put the policy into effect.
The first problem we have to consider is, What is the future of civil aviation? Is it to be the poor, limited, narrow thing which hon. Members opposite believe? Of course, we know why they believe it. It is to their political interest to do so. They are here to propagate a policy of restriction, and, in order to justify a policy of restriction, and not of development, they come here to invent a depressing future for the industry which they propose to restrict. As a matter of fact, we, on this side of the House, do not believe in a policy of restriction, and, therefore, are not bound to accept the depressing outlook which they put upon us. We think, on the contrary, that the future of civil aviation is a great future. We believe that civil aviation in this country has reached a point to be compared with that of the railways and steam shipping in the 19th century. It is true, of course, that it has its limitations. We knew, and did not require to be told by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) that aeroplanes burn high octane petrol in considerable quantities. We knew that already. We knew also that fees are related to pay-load, and we did not require to be told, either, that these things cost money and take time. But we know also that, since the war, the development of air transport, quite outside 1359 the range of operational military aircraft, has been phenomenal.
We are not impressed by the argument as to how much of shipping transport will be taken by aircraft, how much of rail transport or how much of pedestrian transport, either, because we happen to have observed that aeroplanes are used for journeys never undertaken at all before—journeys like that of the Prime Minister to Teheran. It is not a question of how much of the existing system of transport you will take away. We are creating a new system of transport for a new type of journey and a new type of communication. We believe that the future of air transport is of great importance to the future of this country, and will be a glorious one if we take the opportunity so depressingly rejected by the Labour Party. The fact of the matter is that the hon. Member for Nuneaton and his hon. Friends are completely obfuscated by the continent of Europe, and by the future of civil aviation in the continent of Europe. When the hon. Member for Nuneaton propagated his ideas in the earlier Debate, he suggested an international authority, as he has today. He said:The next principle—and this may take the breath of some hon. Members away—
He went on:—"is that the directors should be nominated by the small countries—Sweden, Norway and Switzerland and not be nominees of big Powers such as America and ourselves. I see no reason why, if Norwegians, Swedes and Swiss find an internationally-minded Englishman, no doubt like the hon. Member for Nuneaton, he should not be put on the board.Small countries should have the right of nomination—this is the hon. Member's solution for the civil air transport of the future. Do we not know that the real question, as regards the future of civil aviation, has to do, not with the continent of Europe at all, but with the great trunk routes linking all the continents of the world together?
§ Mr. A. Edwards (Middlesbrough, East)
We want to see the point of this argument. Is the hon. Member suggesting that these countries should be excluded? I listened to his argument on the last occasion, and he developed a serious argument.
The hon. Member said:… nominated by the small nations and … not be nominees of big Powers.It was we who were to be excluded, not Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. I should like to know what the value of a nomination by a few small European Powers would be considered to be by the great air Powers of the future. This is a policy of Bedlam, not a policy of reality at all. It is not a policy of idealism, but a policy of fantasy. But let us take an example. Of course, it is perfectly true, as we in this country of more than one political view have pointed out, that a small, nationally-subsidised, nationally-owned, Socialistic enterprise is not the true way of developing international air transport. Of course, it is not, because the key to the whole business, and to any industry in the process of early development, is not restriction, but freedom of development, not necessarily limited to private enterprise or a chosen instrument or even an internationally-owned concern.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
Does the hon. Member mean private enterprise unassisted by State subsidies of any kind?
I propose to develop my meaning. The hon. Gentleman used his argument against nationally-controlled air companies of pre-war days. How much more could that argument be used against a company, perhaps with a world monopoly, which no one will be allowed to infringe anywhere in the universe? The key to development is, of course, increase in freedom and not in restriction. I am glad to think that we have a Liberal Secretary of State for Air. I feel sure that, true to the traditional principles of his party, he will support, against hon. Members opposite, freedom of the air, of development, and freedom from restriction, which has always been the very core of Liberal tradition.
But I feel myself that there is a very serious side to this case put before us. The hon. Member for Nuneaton put forward as his ideal an international world authority. Now let us face the facts. 1361 We have been told again and again in this House, with answering cheers from both sides, that the future of international relationships in this coming decade is going to lie with the question whether we can co-operate with the United States and with the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics. That is the question, but, over and against that possibility of co-operation between the three great Powers of the world, perhaps with the addition of a fourth, namely, China, the hon. Member puts up his bogus international company with directors nominated by Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. What evidence have we got that the United States would co-operate with such a company, with such doubtful means of selecting its directors? Do we not all know, as a matter of fact, that the United States would refuse to have any part in such a scheme, not because it was not idealistic, because the Americans' idealism is as great as the hon. Member's, but because the scheme is bogus from its inception?
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Member uses words I do not understand. What exactly does he mean by "bogus"?
I mean it exactly in the same sense as applied to other companies which failed because founded on false financial and directorial conceptions.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Member is really suggesting that the proposal of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), made in his speech here to-day or on the last occasion, in which he set up a kind of international organisation, was false or bogus or fraudulent?
I did not use the word "fraudulent," but the word "bogus," but I say it is at least as bogus as any of the great financial bubbles in history and will receive the same fate. I hope that is language which the hon. Member can understand. It seems to me that hon. Gentlemen opposite are setting aside this great possibility of real international co-operation for a curious conception of their own of a little directorate of tiny countries, instead of the real interests in this matter, which must inevitably break the prospect of international air co-operation, as it will. I have noticed also the argument that any alternative to their bogus scheme is an incitement to war. I 1362 think we have heard too much of that argument lately. This country has not, I believe, been the cause of great wars. It has been, as I understand it, prepared to fight to defend the small interests in the world against world aggression. It has done so very largely because it is a nation of carriers. If we are to continue that function we should continue it as air carriers in future. Countries bent on aggression, like Nazi Germany, deliberately used the air or sea carriage of their goods as a means of building up their air force or navy, but we know that the genuine carriers of the world, like Great Britain, which has always pursued its particular trade successfully and in the interests of peace, have never, in fact, done so, and I hope never will do so.
I was challenged by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on the question of subsidies. For years our Merchant Navy has, in fact, received assistance through the amount of mail contract and bullion carried. I should like to know where we would have been in this war if it had not been for the assistance of the Merchant Navy. Are we to be asked now, in the present state of the world, which no one would call particularly peaceful, to offer no assistance to our merchant fleet? I ask this House to go back to the great principles which made us great, and declare for freedom of the skies as we have always supported freedom of the seas. There should be enterprise in the interests of public service, newer of financial interests, in which I have no more concern than hon. Members opposite; freedom in the sense of real development without restriction; experimentation rather than monopoly; and an increase in the volume of trade throughout the world as a means of peace, instead of this doctrinaire conception of one monopoly of three small European countries, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland, who have not even been asked if they are willing to co-operate.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
It is always a delight to listen to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hoģģ) but it would be easier to listen to him if he did not lose his breath and his temper at the same time. I would like to answer one or two observations made by one hon. Member from whose speech I understood that one of the main reasons why we should develop civil 1363 aviation after the war with enthusiasm was that we had trained a large number of pilots and other air-minded people, who would not be satisfied to remain at home and pursue more humdrum occupations. They had spent their time riding the skies and going to all parts of the world and were able to ignore distances with great abandon, and therefore we had to provide for their peculiar psychology. I have a large number of friends who have learned to drive tanks. They are impatient of the impediment of rivers and streams, lakes and mountains, and they go all over the place. They have a nostalgia for distance. But are we to go on building tanks because we have a large number of people who want tanks? It is a nonsensical argument. The future of civil aviation must depend upon its services to mankind. If it is to be a good service and people want it and if we can be persuaded that it is a necessary ancillary to civilisation, then, of course, we will defend and promote civil aviation. But we are not going to build expensive aeroplanes because young men have learnt to man them, any more than we are going to have any other forms of transport merely because, in the limited years of war, it has been necessary to train people to drive them.
My hon. Friends here have been entirely misrepresented. They were trying to point out that this problem en masse is not as great as it is suggested and that entirely exaggerated notions have been given of the amount of civil aviation traffic which will exist after the war. But that is not to say that we ought not to do our very best to develop civil aviation, to promote in our factories and workshops up-to-date designs and to make ourselves, if we can, the pioneers in this industry. We should do this but it is absurd to suggest that any very substantial volume of the passenger traffic or freightage traffic of the world will be carried by aircraft in the future. It is no good using a parallel like the development of the internal combustion engine. [HON. MEMBERS: "Like the tank."] That was not a parallel but something exactly on the same lines. A great many people wrote volumes about the future of the balloon and used exactly the same arguments. They said that the railway had gone far and, therefore, why should not the balloon go the same distance.
1364 The real test is that we are concerned about the future of civil aviation after the war not only from the point of view of British participation in civil aviation, but of the extent to which the development of that instrument will promote international co-operation and to what extent the rivalries about it will promote national antagonism. The hon. Member for Oxford is impatient. He says we are not forward-minded enough; we have old-fashioned ideas. Here is this great new industry and instrument of modern science, and it is a new thing about which everybody should be enthusiastic. What does he want to do? He wants to exploit this new industry, as was the case with regard to the East India Company. Once more we can see where the Tories are going. They say that there is a great future for the industry; it is going to expand and everybody will want it. They can see the opportunity for putting their fingers into the public purse once more. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, certainly; the Tories are not suggesting free competition, free enterprise in the development of civil aviation. They are suggesting that the State should subsidise a whole crowd of air bandits. That is their statesmanlike contribution to the future of civil aviation. It is that everyone who wants to build aircraft should be given a subsidy. [Interruption.] Of course not, but only some favoured people. It is not a question of pouring out public money to everybody who can get it, but public money for somebody who can grab it. That is the statesmanlike contribution of these people. It is to be for selected companies who can use political influence to obtain subsidies from the State.
"Mails," said the hon. Member for Oxford. Has he examined the history of mails in America and reports of Congressional Committees on mails? He has not. All his contribution to the Debate was derived from his hatred of the Labour Party; he rushed up to the Library to get a book, not having examined the subject at all but thinking that all that was necessary was a forensic ability developed at the Bar. There is no problem in the modern world that can produce more bitter hatreds than the development of civil aviation after the war. There is nothing that can create greater corruption in British politics than the suggestion made by the hon. Member. He derided 1365 my hon. Friend for making his suggestion last June. If he will read the American Press he will see that there are very large numbers of people, with considerable sums behind them, writing and thinking and speaking in terms of exploiting, for American purposes and American private enterprise, the future of civil aviation. Books are being written and papers are being read at technical institutions in this country designed to pit Great Britain against America and suggesting—and that is why the hon. Member derided Europe—that the British Empire, with bases all over the world, has the advantages that are analogous to the land bases of America. We have in our Colonies, in our home bases and in our Dominions, so wide an area of the world in our control—including New Zealand and all the other places—that, if we organise them as a single aviation unit, subsidised by State funds, we can present to America an area unit surpassing even those governed by the continent.
Here is the crux of the argument—America has that, we have this. This sort of thing will be organised with State funds, mark that, because it is not an individual here pitted against an individual in America; a State organisation here or in the Dominions pitted against the State organisation at the back of the President of America. With all the propaganda, all the bitter taunts flung from one side of the ocean to the other, and all the nineteenth century national antagonisms behind it—with the one pitted against the other in that way, ask yourselves what would be the position of British and American relations after 10 or 15 years.
§ Sir A. Beit
Did this happen in the development of the shipping lines? Was it not a peaceful development?
§ Mr. Bevan
Have we not had two wars in one generation for exactly those reasons? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members opposite have played that game now for a century-and-a-half and they want to play it again. If they do not believe that, let them read the controversies which have occurred over the whole of the century between America and Japan—expansionist policy in the Pacific, one subsidising the Mercantile Marine against the other, and America losing the battle in the Pacific.
Mr. Coleģate (The Wrekin)
Is not this a tremendous argument against any form of State enterprise?
§ Mr. Bevan
The reason why State enterprise is not open to exactly the same dangers is because the suggestions from the opposite side of the House have been carried out, with private interests pushing the State apparatus along in order to promote their own private interests. It is entirely different if the State is operating the matter. You have not behind the State a number of interests privately organised and using the State apparatus for their own private purposes. In any case, we are not suggesting that in this case the unit should be the State. We are saying that here you have a service which, because of its technical character, is international in all its implications.
Viscount Hinchinģbrooke (Dorset, South)
What possible cause of friction, leading to national antagonism between us and the United States, can there be in developing our own air lines in the Empire?
§ Mr. Bevan
I will give the answer at once. Are we going to provide air bases for America, and is America going to give all her air bases to us? If America and Great Britain could agree to pool all their air bases, then they could pool the airships themselves. Hon. Members opposite have been talking about realism, knoWinģ that behind this whole thing lurk the most sinister dangers. If you are really going to operate this great instrument of international communications without international antagonism, it can be done only by the mutual sharing of all bases. If you can reach that measure of co-operation, there is no reason to stop there, you can internationalise civil aviation. Then he went on the next point. If you had internationalised civil aviation—and that was the assumption my hon. Friend made—if you had reached a point where you had actually got an international airways corporation established, it would not be the nations who had shares in it but the individuals in the nation. It is all the difference in the world. The difference lies in that individual nations would have a block of shares in it but that it might be possible for individuals in those nations to take shares in International Airways Limited.
§ Mr. Bevan
Then the hon. Member ought to agree with it. I promised I would not keep the House long on this matter. If you have individuals all over the world who identify themselves individually with an international structure of that sort, instead of having nations with blocks of shares, you do not get that antagonism between nations which you get when the individual nation is the unit. Now my hon. Friend said that if you have an organisation of that sort, you must take the next step by putting this organisation into the hands of those of whom there is no suspicion, because, remember, we start off with an incipient antagonism. The antagonism is between the great Powers, the fear among all of us that this great service might be used for national aggrandisement, that it might be used in power politics. To have this great instrument managed by the nominees of the great Powers is really to transfer to the management board of this new authority all the antagonism existing outside, and therefore it is not the strong who can be safely trusted with this but the weak. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is fantasy."] The hon. Member calls it a fantasy. The fact of the matter is that in these circumstances the small nations are the most internationally-minded, and therefore the small nations are the only ones that the world can safely trust to manage an international organisation, whereas large nations are pursuing all the while their ancient rivalries and would use this international organisation merely as an arena in which to fight out their national conflicts. The hon. Member suggested that is a fantasy and an idealistic solution. The fact is that there is no practical solution of this problem except the idealistic one; every single attempt made, and I have read them all, to solve this problem of national aviation after the war is bogged in the swamp of national rivalries and power politics. Hon. Members, therefore, are making no contribution to this problem at all; they are merely asking us, 1368 behind all this façade of concern about a great modern instrument, to agree with them.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
I always thought the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Quintin Hoģģ) was an ardent supporter of the electoral truce; and my memory is charged with his impassioned pleas in the country, and indeed in this House, for a continuation of friendly and helpful co-operation between the two parties not only during the war but in the more difficult times that, as I have heard him say, are bound to follow this war. All I can say is that the ties that bind us together will have to be pretty strong to survive many of the things he has said to-day. I am sure he will not mind my saying that he took a stick and put it into the wasps' nest.
§ Mr. Boothby
And one rather cross wasp has come out this time; but, if he does not take care, a whole swarm of wasps will be after him in the near future; and then I suppose we shall all have to go into action, and I shall not be able to answer for the electoral truce lasting long. I disagree with a number of things that the hon. Member for Oxford said, and particularly when he spoke with some contempt of the small countries of Europe. I would just ask him one question. What about the Dutch in this matter of aviation? I think they had about as good a reputation before the war as any other country in the world.
§ Mr. Boothby
Yes, the K.L.M.; and the Swiss were also very good. I do not think we should eschew them in this question of international co-operation after the war, if we can get it; and I am not even quite sure that the United States of America would turn it down as emphatically as my hon. Friend seemed to think they would. He suggested that they would not look at an organisation of this kind, with representatives of Nor- 1369 way, Switzerland and Sweden. I am not so sure. I am not saying they ought to run the show—
My hon. Friend will forgive me for interrupting, but I was discussing a particular arrangement under which the Great Powers were to be clearly excluded. I was not discussing an arrangement which would allow those who were interested to have representatives, nor was I making the mistake that my hon. Friend seems to be making of calling the Dutch a small Power.
§ Mr. Bowles
If my hon. Friend had taken the trouble to read a bit more, he would have found the nominations were made by these small Powers, not necessarily of their deputies.
§ Mr. Boothby
I hasten to beg my hon. Friend's pardon, because I did not know he was only referring to this particular proposal which has been put forward. I thought he was rather throWinģ cold water upon any form of international co-operation. If that was the case, I think he will be quite glad I raised the paint; because I am sure his speech must have given that impression to quite a large number of people, and he will therefore be glad that it has been corrected.
When I listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenģer), which also raised some heat, although nothing like the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford, I could not help hoping that we are not now all going to work ourselves up into a frenzy about providing the masses of our people with facilities for cheap and easy air transport inside this country after the war. Again, I am afraid I cannot follow my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford in his advocacy of a policy of no restriction in this field. In a small country like this you can get from one part of it to any other in one night, and in considerably greater comfort than you can do in an aeroplane; and therefore I do not think there is really an urgent necessity for a vast development of civil aviation inside this country. The international aspect, of course, is of vital importance; and you also want a much better service to the islands around our coasts. If, however, after this war we are going to have the air full of air-liners doing one-hour hops, in hot competition 1370 with each other, and, on the top of that, unlimited "Moths" falling all over the place, all I can say is that the brave new world is going to be an even greater nightmare than it promises to be already. I think there must be some limits to civil aviation inside this country.
My object in rising was to reduce the temperature, and bring the question down to quite a narrow issue, about which I am sure I shall have no opposition from any quarter. I do not want to deal, on this occasion, with the question of international ownership, or indeed of any kind of ownership; although I am inclined to think that this is only another example of the difficulty we are going to get up against, as between unrestricted competition on the one hand, and some form of State control and assistance on the other. I agree with the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) that it is going to be very difficult if we are going to allow the State to give subsidies, in one form or another, to certain selected companies, without accepting any responsibility for their control and conduct to this House. You must either have unrestricted competition and no subsidies, or a very considerable measure of State control; and there is no satisfactory compromise between those two. I have always taken the view that it is in functional and economic international organisation, as against purely political organisation, that the best hope for the future lies. And I would say to my hon. Friends behind me: "You will not get that merely by making pious speeches; you will have to take into serious consideration the views both of the United States of America, and of the Soviet Union."
It is, however, the geographical aspect which I want to raise, and I will start with my good native earth, if I may. Whatever form of ownership may be evolved in civil aviation, you can take it from me that there is a good chance of Scotland being left out in the cold, as she has been on most occasions during the last 200 or 300 years. The hon. and, gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) put up a strong plea for a great air terminal port in the South-West of Scotland. For security reasons I will not give its name, although I think most hon. Members are aware of it. There is no doubt whatever that that offers by far the 1371 best facilities for a trans-Atlantic base, so far as this country is concerned.
§ Mr. Boothby
Well, I will not continue that argument, on the basis of inadequate information possessed by both parties; but I have no hesitation in saying that the proper air terminal on our Eastern coast, for the conduct of the vital Scandinavian traffic, is Aberdeen.
§ Mr. J. J. Davidson (Glasgow, Maryhill)
May I ask the hon. Member to make one important point clear to the House? Will he explain that the aerodrome in Scotland to which he was referring, and with which our hon. Friend disagrees, was built by an English contractor?
§ Mr. Boothby
I cannot be led away into that argument. It is only another example of what I said a little earlier on, that for many years Scotland has not had very good treatment: but we are now hoping to alter that. I only want to say in conclusion, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will agree with me, that the importance of Scandinavia to this country after the war is going to be very great, not only because we must co-operate with the countries of Western Europe politically and economically, but also as a very important link with the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. That is why I want to see something like a ferry service with Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm after the war; and that is why I would like some assurance that, in this very important connection, Scotland is not going to be forgotten.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Captain Harold Balfour)
We have had an interesting Debate, enlivened by some of those interchanges across the Floor of the House that many of us remember in the past and, from the tone and implication of the hon. Member for Nuneaton 1372 (Mr. Bowles), some of us must look forward to again in the future. Let there be no mistake about it. On this side of the House we are not seeking that opportunity, but if and when it is forced upon us, we shall not be backward in taking it up. I must confess that when I had listened to the speech of the hon. Member, and when I had listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. M. Huģhes), reinforced by the speech of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenģer), pepped up a little bit by the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), all of which depressed the prospect of civil aviation, all of which were of a tempo saying that the world will have a comparatively limited use for civil aviation after the war, and that this country has a pretty poor chance of getting anything out of nothing, and that if we tried to get something we were rather wicked and anti-social, I began to wonder whether it was really necessary to have the Debate at all to-day.
But then I was reinforced and encouraged by the statement of the mover of the Amendment when he said that he was speaking not only for himself but for his party. He said, to quote his own words, that he was "making a world declaration." So, at last, I felt that we were justified in having listened to that speech. The hon. Gentleman said that he was speaking for the Labour Party and that their policy was for, as it were, a World Airways Limited. I do not think he will quarrel with such a definition as that. But he did not make clear, and neither did subsequent Members, speaking on behalf of that policy, what would happen to World Airways Limited supposing those citizens of the United States, who are great individualists, refused to participate? We would go on, presumably, but would be quite a bit weaker. I would say that we should be a good bit weaker. Supposing Russia, folloWinģ her own policy, declined to associate herself with World Airways Limited. What would happen? Again, presumably, we would go on. Supposing other countries felt that World Airways Limited was ahead of its time and they, too, refused to co-operate. What would happen? We would be the only country left unable to own any aircraft or have any expression on civil aviation for ourselves or the British Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Bowles
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman remember the conference which took place at Moscow between representatives of this country, Russia and America which declared, among other things, that the establishment of a general international organisation for the maintenance of peace and security was an urgent necessity?
§ Captain Balfour
Certainly, but what the hon. Gentleman must accept, in conjunction with his remarks and with that declaration, is the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen who said that the keystone of the Labour Party's policy was international ownership and operation. He rejected international regulation as being no good. As I understand it, we then go forward with the world declaration made by the mover that the post-war policy of his party rejects any form of international regulation. In other words, if they cannot get the whole loaf of ownership and operation then none.
§ Mr. Bowles
What my hon. and learned "junior" said was this: that we had all this code of international regulation before the war, but that it was not enough. He did not say he would not accept that if we could not get the whole.
§ Captain Balfour
The hon. Member must not answer for the seconder of his Amendment. I accept entirely his attempt to get out of the confusion he and his friends are in at the present time. I took a note of his words and I would ask the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen whether he will deny that he said that the keystone of his party's policy was international ownership and operation and that international regulation was no good?
§ Captain Balfour
Therefore, regulation without ownership or operation is no good. I think we are further entitled to ask in the event of any further similar world-declarations, whether for instance, international ownership and operation are essential, and international regulation no good, in connection with such a matter as the future of the Mercantile Marine? So far as I know the Labour Party policy is for international post-war regulation on that matter.
§ Mr. Bowles
The answer to that question is that this Debate is confined to civil 1374 aviation policy. Our policy is not the same so far as all forms of communications are concerned.
§ Captain Balfour
Yes, this is a Debate on Civil Aviation but I think it is most instructive and illuminating to find where we are getting. We are now getting to a rejection by Labour Party spokesmen, in their world declarations, of international regulation and the expression of their view on behalf of international ownership and operation of all forms of transport. How that would appeal to the workers engaged in the various transport industries in this country, I do not know.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman replying for the Government, in which there are a number of Labour Ministers, or for the Conservative Party?
§ Captain Balfour
I am replying on behalf of the Government. But we must be careful in framing our policy for postwar civil aviation to see that we get the maximum amount of agreement and in order to attain that I think we are entitled to ask what is meant by those on the opposite side of the House.
§ Captain Balfour
No, I cannot give way. I did not interrupt one Member during the whole of the Debate and I think I ought to be left to make my own speech. Any one of us who has any responsibility for assisting, even in a minor way, in the framing of any policy, is entitled to ask what are the opinions of those to whom that policy will have to be submitted in due course. Now we have heard that the policy of international regulation is rejected and that only the policy of international ownership and operation is satisfactory. We have learned a great deal.
§ Mr. Bowles
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said repeatedly that I have made a world declaration—[HON. MEMBERS: "You said so."]—and I certainly have. But he must not perpetuate his misrepresentation of what was said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Huģhes). We are not just casting aside international regulation. My hon. and learned Friend said that regulation by itself was not enough.
§ Captain Balfour
Yes, and it follows, therefore, that if you get international regulation, you want to go yet further. However, we will leave it to HANSARD to see who is right. To the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen and to the jolly quips of the hon. Member for Nuneaton, who said, "It will be all right because the Labour Party will be in office and it will not matter what others do," I think I am entitled to reply by making jolly quips in return. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen reminded me for a moment of military menace speeches made in 1934 and 1935 when he talked about the menace of Air. Training Corps boys looking up at aircraft to-day and asking themselves how many guns and cannons they carried. I do not think he could have meant that seriously because the A.T.C. boys of to-day are thinking only of one thing—how to serve their country in the best way they can.
Nevertheless, having made one or two remarks on the speeches of the mover and seconder, the Amendment, if it is read not in conjunction with those speeches, calls for a civil aviation in the future which will bring about a closer understanding among the peoples of the world and for a policy of international co-operation in order to achieve that purpose. With that we are in complete agreement because the aspirations of the mover and seconder are entirely in accord with the declarations made, and the actions carried out, by the Government. They will thus see why I was so anxious to analyse what was meant by international co-operation and why I am so glad to elucidate that international regulation does not fit in with their picture of international co-operation but only international ownership and operation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State told the House in March last, and the Deputy Prime Minister stated it again in June, that the approach of the Government in their preparation for post-war civil aviation is to ensure, through international collaboration, that air transport is developed in the interests of mankind as a whole. It must not be used, as it was the tendency for countries to use it before the war, as a political weapon. Some hon. Member opposite seemed rather to talk down the prospects of civil aviation and while I do not dispute their right to do so I do dispute their conclusions. I believe that any constructive policy must be based on the realisation that civil avia- 1376 tion is a good thing and that the more there is of it the better. In spite of all talk to the contrary it need not necessarily be, and is not, a threat.
Some Members said there were exaggerations as to the number of civil aircraft which might be used by the travelling public in the future, but every new form of transport not only attracts a certain number of travellers who have been accustomed to using other means of transport hitherto but it also creates for itself new markets in travellers. To that extent, therefore, I am a complete optimist in rejecting any comparison as to future traffics by bisecting and trisecting the traffics which go by other forms of transport. It seemed a little inconsistent to say that there would be little market for civil aviation, and then for the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville)—who associated himself with many of the views of the mover and seconder of the Amendment—to say that we must decentralise this great industry throughout the Dominions and Palestine. What is the industry to build if there are no passengers? We must realise that once a system of civil world lines has been established, governments, commerce and travellers in general can be in closer contact with each other than has ever been thought possible in the past. This fact is going to make necessary fundamental adjustment in our methods of government, of commerce and opportunities of travel. The measure of distance between two focal points of some problem has given way to the measure of time in terms of hours from one end of the world to another.
Therefore there is going to be a big need for us to adapt the human mind and the human body to this gift which is put into our hands to use properly if we do well. Air transport is indissolubly bound up with future world security and the varied important and complex questions of international relationships of post-war trade and reconstruction. If we try to tackle it solely on the lines of national self-interest we should not only fail in the primary objectives of our policy, which is in agreement with the terms of the Amendment, but we should seriously jeopardise the prospect of international agreement on other points of equal or greater importance for a better ordered world in the future. Nevertheless, I cannot agree that the only solution for that international co-operation lies in what the hon. Member for 1377 Ebbw Vale says. His contention was that the only solution was in the ideal rejecting anything else.
I do not think we can consider this problem in isolation. Certainly it cannot be solved by one country alone and the Government intends to play a leading part in the task of ensuring the fulfilment of our objective and we have taken various steps to this end. The Government instigated exploratory and informal conversations between the countries of the Commonwealth last autumn. It is a demonstrable fact that we are not only theorists but that we are actually practitioners of the policy that we plan to achieve and furthermore that we are giving that lead which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye said he hoped we were going to give and asked for some indication that we were so doing. He asked me whether the Dominion conference of Prime Ministers would discuss civil aviation. I can give no assurance one way or the other because, fortunately or unfortunately for them, and for the House, I do not prepare the agenda. During our talks with the Commonwealth representatives general agreement was reached as to a possible broad basis on which the Commonwealth countries might best make their contribution to the future development of civil air transport in the general interest of peaceful humanity and thus seeking international co-operation in accordance with the policy which we aim to achieve. The Lord Privy Seal stated on 2nd October that unanimous agreement was reached on every issue discussed during the conversations. I have said what the purpose of the conversations was and that we have reached agreement and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brighton in an admirable speech asked me whether we were getting together with the Dominions. That is the answer. We have got together with them and have got agreement on the general issues that were discussed.
The mover of the Amendment said there was some rumour and suspicion that the Government were holding back from producing our plans. That is not so. It has been our intention folloWinģ these talks to proceed with the Exchanģe of views on an international basis. The next stage depends to a very large extent on the convenience and readiness of other countries. We cannot do it all but the 1378 House will be glad to learn that we are now discussing with the United States and the Dominions Governments the possibility of holding further exploratory conversations in the near future. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington (Group Captain Wriģht) expressed the fear that we were trying to dominate the Dominions. We are not. We are trying to forge a partnership with them in consideration of the problem and are "ganging" up against no one. The time, place and detailed arrangements for those conversations have not yet been settled but the House may rest assured that the Government have formulated their views and the principles which they consider best suited to the achievement of international co-operation in this new field of endeavour.
§ Captain Balfour
For reasons which the House will appreciate I am not at this moment able to say more and sometimes when you are trying to develop a situation with a lot of partners and parties it is best not to be pressed at an early stage and certainly not to accede to the pressing to give details as to the suggestions and proposals that you hope to formulate with them.
§ Mr. Bevan
You are not negotiating a treaty? We understand that negotiations are about to proceed with other countries in which the Government will express their views on the future of civil aviation. It is bad enough when the Government can enter into commitments with other governments involving treaties. We can then only reject the Government by rejecting the treaty when it is made. In this case we are entitled to know what the Government is saying on our behalf.
§ Captain Balfour
I do not think the hon. Member is quite entitled to expect that at this stage. I did not say we were entering into any form of commitment. I said, "further exploratory conversations." An exploratory conversation is one that takes place at a fairly early stage when you are trying to find out the degree of common agreement that there is amongst the various parties. So long as all nations are prepared to accept the necessity for the development of world air transport on a flexible basis subject to international 1379 regulation, which is rejected by the mover and seconder, possibly through the administration of an international convention which might lay down certain standards of safety, a common airport policy, radio aids and other things, I believe there will be opportunities within the framework of international regulation for each country to express its policy in the form in which it feels it can best make its own contribution to international co-operation. International co-operation and regulation need not exclude lines run on an international basis. It need not exclude national lines run by States. It need not exclude lines run by State sponsored corporations or lines run by private enterprise. A world scheme of regulated civil aviation should be big enough to embrace each and all of these alternatives according to the individual wishes to the co-operating nations. The war has already given a forced growth to technical development in aircraft and ground aids towards post-war services of regularity and safety. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Erdington said that one hundredth of our bomber output would satisfy the need for civil transport. There can be no question of delaying bomber construction for the purposes of civil aviation.
We are doing what we can in constructing prototypes of civil aviation and we are building certain transport for war purposes but first and foremost we have a long way to go before we reach the target of beating the enemy. Many millions of pounds have been spent which could not have been justified on purely commercial grounds and here I come to the question raised by my hon. Friends the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) and East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby). Terminal X, I think, is the best description I can give to it, though we all know exactly what it is. Terminal X is somewhere in Scotland and I understand it is not in Aberdeen. My hon. Friend said he had not seen all the reports of it. My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Perkins) gave a very appropriate reply—neither had he. I have seen all the reports. All I would say is that I think Scotland has got to have a Western terminal because Scotland and the industrial North will require to be served in traffic needs and not only that but in bringing air liners into Great Britain from the Atlantic there are a few occasions in the year when you want an alternative air 1380 port. When it is blacked out here it can be all right in the North or vice versa.
Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes
This is most important from the point of view of Wales. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has told us categorically that he is satisfied that there must be a Western airport in Scotland. I suppose he means a seaport from which aeroplanes will fly to the West. Does that mean that the possibility of a Western airport in Wales has been excluded?
§ Captain Balfour
The answer is "No." We are still formulating our ideas, but it is my duty to tell the House how far we have got. We feel that there must be two widely separated terminal airports in order to achieve the maximum of safety in bringing aircraft in in bad weather conditions. It is fortuitous and it is right that one of them should serve the need for the alternatives for safety and at the same time serve traffic requirements in Scotland and the industrial North. There may well be other terminal airports according to technical needs. I can give an assurance to the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs that the Atlantic terminals are not going to be Iceland or the Azores.
§ Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)
Will not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say that the principle will be to choose places where there is the least possibility of any conditions which require any alternatives to be used?
§ Captain Balfour
We have one basic principle. It is to bring the maximum number of passengers over the Atlantic and land them here with the minimum of risk. This forcing ground of war-time for aircraft is going to help us tremendously after the war because millions of pounds have been spent which could not be justified on commercial grounds for years ahead. The world is going to start with these advantages and it is up to us to use the results of these war years wisely. I have sketched the purposes of our policy which is not at variance with the policy laid down by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment in the terms of his Motion. I hope that, with the support of the House, we can now go forward to achieve it.
§ Mr. Boothby
My right hon. and gallant Friend did not say, although I imagine 1381 it is the intention of the Government, whether they intend to develop the Scandinavian and North European routes as well as the Western routes.
§ Major Taylor
May I ask whether there is to be only one chosen instrument in the future for civil aviation, or whether the British Overseas Airways Corporation Act is to be repealed?
§ Captain Balfour
I did not answer my hon. and gallant Friend's speech because he gave me no notice of the technical points that he raised, and I did not think they were in accord with the general trend of the Debate, but I will undertake to write to him on all the points he has raised.
§ Mr. Bowles
I think that the Debate has been worth while, even if it has only had some educational results for the Government. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, however, I shall do my best to be successful in the Ballot next year. In the meantime, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," again proposed.
§ Sir Lindsay Everard (Melton)
I wish to say a word on behalf of the Auxiliary Air Force. Not very much has been said during the war about that Force, but I think that everybody in the country realises the wonderful show they have put up in the war. I am certain that throughout the country they are held in higher esteem than ever before. Those of us who are closely associated with the Auxiliary Air Force, whose members include the Prime Minister himself, and the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Group Captain Wriģht), are anxious to get some idea what is to be the future of the Force. It is part of the Territorial arrangement of the country and it was formed long before the war with about 20 squadrons. Some of them had been special reserve squadrons and they were afterwards turned into Auxiliary Air Force squadrons. The time has come when some announcement might be made as to the future of the Force. While the war is on there are great possibilities of earmarking personnel who are willing to serve on a Territorial basis after the war in order to start 1382 squadrons in various counties and districts where they are not in existence. It would be a great pity to lose the voluntary service of this arm, which has done such wonderful service in the war with the Royal Air Force, and many of them would be willing to form new squadrons in their own counties. There should be no district in England or Scotland—Wales is only rocks, but even it would have an Auxiliary Air Force somewhere—where we should not have an Auxiliary Air Force. I would like to ask the Secretary of State whether any plans have been made for the future of the Force which many of us hold to be of considerable importance.
§ Mr. Arthur Jenkins (Pontypool)
I should like to ask the hon. Member exactly what he meant by his reference to Wales being only rocks?
§ Sir L. Everard
It is a question of the placing of aerodromes. I should not like to land on most parts of Wales.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I am not prepared to make any pronouncement to-day on the important subject raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Sir L. Everard). It is one of the subjects that will come up for consideration in its due place in the studies which we are giving to the shape of the future Royal Air Force. At the moment, all I can say is that I have listened with interest and respect, and a substantial measure of personal sympathy, to the views which my hon. Friend has expressed.
§ Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Supply accordingly considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS in the Chair]