§ 3. "That a Supplementary Sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1945, for expenditure beyond the sum already provided in the grants for Army Services for the year."
|Sums not exceeding.|
|Supply Grants.||Appropriations in Aid.|
|1. Pay, etc., of the Army||10||160,000,000|
§ First Resolution read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Linstead (Putney)
I hope that on this Vote we shall be permitted to have a reasonably wide Debate, in order that one or two matters may be raised which may not appear on the face of it to come within the terms of the Vote. The record which the Secretary of State for War had to present to us two days ago must have given great satisfaction to the House, and certainly put an end to the old story of this country always "muddling through" to military achievement. Against a background of so much success one hesitates to draw attention to minor defects in the great organisation of our Army, but this is an occasion when anyone with specialised knowledge can make useful suggestions which may help 417 towards improving a machine which we all recognise to be, broadly, most admirable.
The particular point to which I wish to draw attention this afternoon is the organisation of a certain section of the Royal Army Medical Corps. The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) has paid a compliment to the medical services of the Army, but there is one respect in which I believe those services to be capable of very substantial improvement, and that is in the supply of medical and pharmaceutical equipment. The R.A.M.C. is peculiar among Corps in the Army in that it is very difficult for the private soldier or non-commissioned officer to get promotion to commissioned rank, because, broadly, commissions in the R.A.M.C. are reserved for medical men. There is a small trickle of promotions, usually after long service and through the quartermaster grade, but not otherwise. The result is that the greater part of the administration and the organisation of the equipment side of the R.A.M.C. is in the hands of medical officers under whom medical equipment and medical stores are dealt with by Army dispensers who, by the nature of things, practically never reach commissioned rank. Even in a great hospital like the Cambridge Hospital at Aldershot, which is to all intents and purposes a civil hospital, dealing with the wives and children of those in the Army, there were before the war only almost primitive arrangements for the supply of medicines.
Our organisation is in complete contrast with the organisation in Dominion and foreign Armies. There they have followed the policy that the doctor does doctoring and that the supply of medicines and pharmaceutical equipment is the responsibility of pharmacists. In this war we have in the Army some 800 pharmacists, but practically all of them are used as sergeant-dispensers and not as pharmacists, and they have no real responsibility for the organisation of the medical stores as a whole. On three occasions, in 1918, 1920 and 1921, the War Office have appointed committees to look into this question. Two of the three committees were composed entirely of R.A.M.C. personnel. Each of those committees recommended to the Secretary of State for War for the time being that pharmacists of commissioned rank should be appointed to undertake the supervision of the phar- 418 maceutical service, in other words to bring our Army into line with the Armies in our Dominions and in foreign countries. For some reason none of those recommendations, although they were the recommendations of officers of the R.A.M.C., has ever been adopted by the War Office.
In this war we are seeing the results of that policy. In the first place a certain number of medical men in the R.A.M.C. are being used for medical supply administration, although there is an extreme shortage of doctors both in civil life and in the Army. Secondly, there is a waste of pharmaceutical manpower. At the present time pharmacists who have been called up from civil life, although they are badly needed in civil life, are waiting about in the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Millbank or in Edinburgh or in Leeds for six or nine months or even a year for posting as sergeant-dispensers because it is not the job, apparently, of anyone in particular to see that that section of the R.A.M.C. is efficiently organised.
Squadron Leader Fleminģ (Manchester, Withington)
Could the hon. Member tell us how these pharmacists are employed while at Millbank or Leeds?
§ Mr. Linstead
They are employed in the kitchen very largely, or with a pail and scrubbing brush in cleaning barrack floors. The Christmas before last, when we were faced with the prospect of a severe influenza epidemic, we still had men in the R.A.M.C. awaiting posting while civilians were badly in need of their services.
The other respect in which weakness is showing itself is in the matter of equipment. In London recently there was an exhibition of Army equipment showing the modern methods of packing which the Army are adopting to save bulk and weight, but nowhere in that exhibition was there any demonstration of new methods of packing drugs or surgical supplies, or anything to indicate that the Army had improved their technique in that respect since the last war. Recently a man with experience of the R.A.M.C. told me that so far as field ambulances are concerned there had been no substantial change in equipment between 1918 and 1939. The reason, I think, is that it is the job of no one in particular to do the thinking about this.
419 I have had many reports from those serving in the R.A.M.C. and from those who have seen in France and Holland how things are working on the spot, reporting for example that drugs are supplied in paper bags to our Forces abroad, just as they would be sent from a wholesaler in London, let us say, to a chemist five miles away. I could give many examples but I will take two or three. There is a dye stuff used for burns called crystal violet. About five grammes at a time are needed. That is being supplied to our Forces overseas in 1 lb. and 2 lb. lots, and they have somehow to make up five-gramme quantities for the field ambulances. The Americans recognise that five-gramme quantities are needed and supply this preparation wrapped up in five-gramme lots. Ointments are being supplied in 10 lb. and 7 lb. quantities, although they have to be given out, probably, in 4-ounce quantities.
As regards hypodermic syringes, time after time one hears complaints that a particular type of syringe widely used in the Army is fitted with loose pistons, that the graduations cannot be read, and that the cement with which the nozzle is fixed to the barrel crumbles. The position was brought home to me by an unsolicited report from a Canadian pharmacist officer whose field ambulance lost all its equipment while it was proceeding abroad. It was refitted with English field ambulance equipment. The first thing he had to do was to scrap his syringes and to get a fresh supply. Being a man of some resource he did that by begging or borrowing or otherwise obtaining a supply of whisky and trading that to the Americans for 200 or 300 syringes. There is ample evidence that more thought is needed in this matter of medical and pharmaceutical supplies. I am not suggesting that there is a great scandal, but I am suggesting that there is inefficiency and lack of imagination.
The reasons why these reforms have not been brought about by the War Office I believe to be two-fold. First, they are afraid lest if they were to open the door to promotion for the pharmacist, from sergeant to commissioned rank, they would have to do the same for other groups of professional personnel: the radiographer and the physiotherapist, and a number of others. I believe that the R.A.M.C. have to face that issue, and to 420 realise that the time is past when they can limit commissioned rank, broadly speaking, to the medical officer. In any case, the equipment side is such a large side of the R.A.M.C. organisation that it justifies special consideration, apart altogether from the individual professional service which the pharmacist may be able to render. We are spending much public money in graduating men, from four or five universities, as pharmacists. They are going into O.T.C.'s in those universities, and are the very personnel that one would think the R.A.M.C. would be glad to employ. Instead, when they leave the universities they go into any other branch of the Service, rather than into the R.A.M.C. They are going into the infantry or the guns, because they know that their powers of leadership will not be used in the R.A.M.C. I hope I have not presented this as being merely a question of the status of the pharmacist. It is something much greater than that.
I would like to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the fact that in India circumstances took charge, and, presumably because they were further away from Whitehall there, the pharmaceutical service has of necessity passed into the hands of the pharmacist. A pharmacist, who is a lieutenant-colonel, has taken charge of the pharmaceutical supplies in India. Each of our Dominions has its pharmaceutical service, looked after by pharmacists. The United States has its own Pharmacist Corps. For a long while the War Office had the support of the Air Ministry in refusing to have specialist pharmaceutical officers, but even that support has gone. The Navy has a pharmaceutical service, manned by pharmacists. They are civil servants, but if they go afloat they are commissioned. The Air Ministry has now deserted my right hon. Friend, and recently has commissioned at any rate seven pharmacists as medical store officers. So our Army remains the only army fighting in this war, and the only one of our three Services, in which this reform, recommended by three War Office committees, has not been carried out. One feels that the present, which is a time of transition between war and peace, is the time when this question should be examined again by the Secretary of State for War and his advisers.
Should we be faced with another war, an important question will be that of a 421 proper allocation of man-power between the Services and civilian life. I am certain that it is only by organisation of the pharmaceutical service of the Army by pharmacists that you are going to get that proper allocation of these specialist people. Then my right hon. Friend will have an efficient service, where at the moment I fear he has only a second-rate service; it will give the man in the Army the same pharmaceutical service that he gets in civilian life; it will prevent waste of manpower; it will free doctors from administrative work, so that they can do their real work of doctoring; and it will bring the British Army into line with other armies. I hope that my right hon. Friend, who has already given some time to examining this matter, will appoint yet a fourth War Office committee to look into it, particularly in its relation to the Army after the war, and that he will see whether this small unsatisfactory corner of the great organisation for which he is responsible cannot be brought up to the same pitch of efficiency as the rest of the British Army.
§ 4.52 p.m.
Mr. Bellenģer (Bassetlaw)
I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) has taken this opportunity to raise what is evidently a matter of importance, not only to him but to the class of individuals for whom he has spoken to-day. Before the war it was customary to have a two-days' Debate on the Estimates, because one day in the year was insufficient, even in those days, to deal with the wide number of questions affecting the Fighting Services in which hon. Members were interested. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State rather took umbrage last Tuesday because many hon. Members had particular points to put to him, which they had perhaps already put to him in the form of Questions on Tuesday mornings, or, as he called it, his "Tuesday serenade." I wondered why my right hon. Friend was, as I thought, a little petulant towards hon. Members because they raised these subjects, and I wondered why he should have referred to the Tuesday morning Question Time as his "serenade." I took the occasion to look at the Oxford Dictionary for the definition of "serenade." I found that it isAn evening song or instrumental piece, sung or played by a lover at his lady's window.422 The right hon. Gentleman is usually adept in his use of words, although he does not always utter them in those dulcet tones which one would associate with an evening song sung before a lady's window. Far from being harmonious on Tuesday mornings, or even during the Estimates Debates, my right hon. Friend, I am afraid, sometimes indulges in discord. But I think the House would rightly resent any attempt by the Executive or the Secretary of State to prevent hon. Members, even during the war, urging on the attention of Ministers those matters which we, at least, think are very important, and to which we require an answer. We are concerned also with the exploits of our Forces—and we were indeed pleased to hear a very good recital of those exploits by my right hon. Friend last Tuesday.
My right hon. Friend had various points put to him in that Debate. We all recognise that he was at some disadvantage because, as he told us, his ration of voice, at any rate at that late hour, prohibited him from giving us full answers to the questions which had been posed. I hope that he has improved in health and that he will be to-day a little more forthcoming. For instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) not only brought prominently to the attention of this House the question of tanks—with which my right hon. Friend attempted to deal—but also gave chapter and verse for something which I consider is very serious, namely, the attempt which, he said, was made to interfere with hon. Members' rights by a form of censorship by a military commander. I do not know whether what my hon. Friend wanted to say to the troops in Cairo was something that we could all agree with, but we should be very careful to see that whenever an hon. Member is permitted to speak to the Armed Forces, and does not say anything subversive, he should have the same freedom of speech as he has in any other place, and that there should be no interference with him by a military commander, and in particular that he should not be asked to submit his speech to censorship in advance. I can think of nothing more derogatory to the dignity of Parliament than that a military commander should force a Member of this House, who is elected by thousands of electors, to submit what he has to say, 423 before he is allowed to speak to troops. Other questions were put to my right hon. Friend. He gave the excuse for not answering my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich that he could not deal with the matter because he had not the facts at his fingers' ends. Has he got those facts now? If so, will he say something to the House about the matter?
My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) brought up the question of prisoner of war camps in this country, which the Secretary of State dismissed by saying that he could not give an answer then, although he rather doubted the accuracy of my right hon. Friend's statements, but he said that he would examine the accusations of misleading that the hon. Member had made, and would take steps to see if they were correct. If an hon. Member alleges that the Government give a wrong impression in this House, or that Ministers make misleading statements, surely it is both in the interests of Ministers and the duty of Ministers to put us all in possession of the facts, so that we can judge if the matter needs our attention. My hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) brought to the attention of the House a question which affected only his constituency, but it is discourteous for the Secretary of State or the Financial Secretary not to take the trouble to give some answer to an hon. Member, even if the question affects only the hon. Member's constituency.
§ The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Arthur Henderson)
Can my hon. Friend say when I have refused to answer questions?
I am not suggesting that my hon. and learned Friend refused to answer questions. What I am saying is that the Secretary of State did not give an answer on this matter.
The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Griģģ)
I think that the hon. Gentleman is, quite unintentionally, misleading the House. I said that the facts of this case had not been brought to my personal attention. I said I would certainly look into it and I could not give an answer without looking into it. That is the position still. I am looking into it. There was no intention of burking discussion or of being discourteous, but I 424 really cannot answer questions at short notice and without an opportunity of investigating them. I am investigating the matter.
I accept that unreservedly, but all I am asking is that the right hon. Gentleman should tell the House.
Sir J. Griģģ
I did at the time and if I conveyed a contrary impression I am very sorry. I intended to convey to the House that the case had not been brought to my personal notice, and that I would do everything to investigate it.
I accept that too, but my intention in introducing this issue was to see whether my right hon. Friend could answer the question. He has given an answer and I am satisfied as far as that case is concerned.
I am going to raise a matter of great importance to the Army and of considerable importance to the general public. It is as to whether the War Office and the Army Council are taking adequate and appropriate steps to recruit the postwar Army. I said—and I think others too shared my opinion—that I was not in favour of a prolonged period of conscription for the Services. My right hon. Friend merely dealt with the case that I put, at, I regret to say, greater length than usual, by saying—the actual words will be found in col. 198 of the OFFICIAL REPORT—that he was going to make some remarks about my speech. He got the same impression of my remarks as the hon. Member for Thirsk and Mahon (Mr. Turton) but because I had tried to disabuse the hon. Member of opinions he then held of my speech, the right hon. Gentleman said he would reserve his observations until he had had an opportunity of reading it in cold print. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has done me the honour and the privilege of reading my remarks in cold print and that, therefore, he will today take the opportunity of making some reply to those remarks. I am concerned in this matter, not only with the point of getting a proper Regular Army after the war, but with the fact that now there are huge numbers of compassionate cases, with which all hon. Members have to deal and which seem to be dealt with very scantily, perhaps owing to force of circumstances during the war and so long as the National Service Acts operate. Many of us feel that, even if those cases cannot 425 be given more sympathetic consideration than they receive now, when the war with Germany comes to an end there should be greater elasticity in the Services, so that many of these very hard cases—many of which I and, I am sure, other hon. Members have personally investigated—shall receive better consideration than they are getting at the present time.
I wish to say no more to the House this afternoon but I do invite the Secretary of State in the right spirit to give an answer as far as he is able to hon. Members who come to this House and voice in some cases the grievances of the Services and of their own constituents and to urge improvements in the manner in which those Services are operated. We certainly can use the "Tuesday serenade," to put our questions and to get some sort of answers, though the answers are, so often, unsatisfactory. That is why we take this occasion not only of repeating our questions but of elaborating them.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)
I have listened to a number of speeches on the Army by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). They are generally rather longer than the speech he has given to us this afternoon and I have always wondered why they were delivered. I do not know what his qualifications are to speak for the Army. He may have very great qualifications—I do not know them—and he may really be advocating matters which are of some importance. I listened to his speech this afternoon and, for the life of me, with the best will in the world, I have not the slightest idea what he was talking about.
§ Sir C. Headlam
I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will be quicker in the uptake than I am. My only object to-day is to put forward two or three matters which seem to me to be important when w e are considering the post-war Army. I believe that I am entitled to do so and I am certain that you, Mr. Speaker, will call me to Order if I am wrong in bringing forward the two matters which I have in mind. We had, during the Debate the other night, a most interesting speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Smeth- 426 wick (Lieut.-Colonel Wise) with regard to the post-war Army and in the main I am in agreement with most of what he said.
We must in the future have, there is no doubt about it, an Army that will be ready for action should the occasion arise. In any case, whatever kind of settlement is arrived at for the future control of armaments throughout the world, it is clear that we, as a nation, as a Commonwealth of Nations and as an Empire, must be prepared to play our part in that concerted action against an aggression, whatever it may be. Therefore, we cannot afford to be in the position in which we were in the last decade before the present war.
When we talk about the Concert of Europe, or combined action against an aggressor Power, we must be prepared to be in a position to play our part in any such collective security. It is surely obvious, then, however much we may dislike it, that we must be prepared to play our part in a land war. Whether there is going to be another great war on land or not is a matter which none of us can foretell, nor can any man foresee what such a war may necessitate, but we shall have to be prepared for any eventuality. We must maintain a post-war Army. It has taken us a long time, in this country, to realise that an Army is of little avail unless there are men to serve in it. The whole teaching of the so-called experts of war before this war began was that defence was so much stronger than offence that we really did not require large numbers of men; that trenches and small mobile offensive forces were all that we needed. We know what this school of thought resulted in.
How are we to build up our Army of the future? I, personally, believe that we shall have to do what every other country is doing, and Lave a national Army of some sort; whether it is to be based on the Territorial system or, whether, as I gathered the hon. and gallant Member for Smethwick foresaw, we should have a conscript Army and a regular professional force for the defence of the Empire in general, and on the top of that a Territorial Army for all and sundry, I do not know. I am not prepared to give an opinion at the moment. But one thing seems to me absolutely inevitable. We shall have to maintain a regular Army for the defence of the 427 Colonies and the Empire of sufficient strength for the purpose. Before the last war the system was that troopers went forth at a certain period of the year, every year, and deposited so many relieving battalions in so many outposts of the Empire, at Hong Kong, at Singapore, at Aden and other places. Every year two or three battalions were dropped and two or three battalions were taken away and that is all we did for the defence of the Empire so far as the Army was concerned. The war with Japan has shown us that it is not a very satisfactory way of guarding a far-flung Empire and we must realise henceforward that our regular Army must be strong enough for the military defence of the Colonies and the Empire as a whole.
How is this to be accomplished? This is the question which, I think, the Secretary of State for War is now considering. He told us as much in his speech on the Estimates. He said that he and the Army Council were busy considering this matter, and I only venture to suggest one thing to him. I suggest that when we are building up our new regular Army, the Army which is to be responsible for the defence of the Empire, it should be built up on the traditions of the past. Those of us who have studied military history and who know anything about the glorious history of the British Army know that its whole force and character and discipline depend upon regimental tradition. Therefore, I say to the Secretary of State for War that I hope when he is making his new Army he will bear that fact in mind. There is a tendency to change to-day what is called in France the "esprit de regiment" and substitute for it the "esprit de l'Armée." Such a policy would be a mistake so far as the British Army is concerned. We all of us should read the records of the British Army, what each regiment has done in the past, what is each regiment's tradition of service, what is its history, and then we would realise what all this means to the morale and discipline and esprit de corps of a regiment and renders it a real force in battle.
I am certain that we shall be making a tremendous mistake if we do anything to jeopardise the regimental spirit and tradition in the Army. Equally so, I am certain of another thing, and that is that the local associations and connections 428 which link regiments in the British Army with particular counties and cities should be maintained to the utmost. The Territorial system was derided when it first came into effect in this country. Believe me, the territorial association to-day is something which counts tremendously with soldiers; men do fight better and work better together if they come from the same part of the country. I hope therefore that the Secretary of State and the Army Council in their planning for a new Army will bear these things in mind.
There is one other matter which I should like to air in the House to-day and that is the question of pay. There is no doubt that—
§ Sir C. Headlam
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I had hoped to say something on the subject of pay because it seems to me a matter of the utmost importance and, when the time comes, it will have to be looked into most carefully. But of course I cannot pursue that point now. I will only say once again that when this new Army of ours is brought into being, its constitution should be based upon the traditions of the past and upon the spirit of the regiment with all that it means to the soldier.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Bartle Bull (Enfield)
I do not intend to follow the theme of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North Newcastle (Sir C. Headlam) or the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) on the question of talking to the troops. In my experience of Army life, they had too much talking to them and too many lectures. What I do want to say is on the question of profiteering abroad as it affects our troops. I do not think the pay of our soldiers will stand up to the profiteering which takes place abroad, in Egypt, in Palestine, and, I understand, to a large extent in Italy, I do not know about the Continent, but no doubt our Allies on the Continent will follow the example which has been set to them in the other countries, and I am wondering if the Secretary of State for War, or the Government, has done, or will do, something in an attempt to make representations to the Governments of 429 those countries about this profiteering. My right hon. Friend has only to ask a few soldiers who have recently returned, and I think he will find that I am by no means over-stating the case.
When I returned from the Middle East, I asked a number of questions on this matter, and suggested to the Secretary of State for War that we might try to persuade the Egyptian Government and individual traders to be satisfied with a profit of 100 per cent., but I understand that that has not yet been accomplished. I saw in the "Daily Express" of 3rd February—and whether this is a Socialist or a Conservative newspaper I have not been able to make up my mind lately—a short note which said, in a message from Cairo, that the price of whisky in the N.A.A.F.I. had been raised by 10s. per bottle in Egypt, making it 22s., and that the reason was increased Egyptian taxation. I do not know if this only applies to whisky, or to beer supplied in tins and bottles and also to beer brewed in Egypt.
§ Mr. Bull
Perhaps my hon. Friend will afford us another opportunity of an hour's speech from him so that he might, perhaps, explain himself. Both the Egyptian Government and the people of Egypt have already made vast sums of money out of our war effort, and I seriously submit that something might be said to them so that they might be content with a little less profit. Having said that, the hon. Member for Ipswich will no doubt be aware that I shall not last long in what I am about to say. Ever since the Western Desert Campaign, I have been rather worried and wondering if by any chance we would ever get a tank big and strong enough, both as to armour and gun, to take on the big German tank.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Major Kimball (Loughborough)
I wish to raise a matter which concerns our present-day Army, and particularly those serving in the B.L.A. In common with many other Members of the House, I have received letters from members of the B.L.A. which very often contain "grouses," and one of them is with regard to the quality of the tobacco supplied by N.A.A.F.I. I took occasion in December to put one or two Questions to the 430 Secretary of State asking if he was aware of this grievance. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman was to the effect that he was not aware of the grievance and that he did not think that the supplies of pipe tobacco were insufficient or of poor quality. Subsequently I asked him to supply a list, and, in answer to another Question, he provided a list of the tobaccos which were alleged to be available, and which would have been very creditable to any large tobacconist's shop. Unfortunately, on making inquiries from various friends, I found that, although that list of tobaccos might be available in this country, in fact these particular brands did not reach the troops in the B.L.A. The great complaint is that the very few brands which are available are of very poor quality and are not popular. It is not fair to judge the demand for these tobaccos by the quantities consumed, because the quality is such that most men, if they can afford it, have tobacco posted out to them. It is not fair to say that transport difficulties are responsible, because, as has been pointed out by my correspondents, the inferior and unpopular brands arrive with the regularity of clockwork. Last week I was given a small sample of one of the issue tobaccos which has the resounding name of somebody's Cut Golden Bar. As a tobacco it is miserable; as a smoke screen it might be of some service to the Army. I ask the right hon. Gentleman once more to look into this grievance, and I would ask him if I might send him a sample of this tobacco.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ Colonel Clarke (East Grinstead)
I want to follow the speech of the hon. Baronet who represents North Newcastle (Sir C. Headlam), and who spoke of postwar service, and to tell the House the views of certain of the rank and file of the Army as I knew them, although I am afraid that was some nine months ago. I tried to find them out before I left my unit, because I thought they would be of interest and value later. It was done through the ordinary methods of the Army Bureau of Current Affairs. I think the men's reactions could be taken as average ones compared to those of men of other units. In the first place, they all feel that, if another war is to be avoided, our Armed Forces have got to be a great deal stronger than they were 431 between the Great War and this one. They feel, further, that this cannot be achieved without some form of compulsory service. They realise that probably all young men would have to do a period of between one year and two years—I think a year or 18 months is the most usual estimate—of service before they went into their civilian occupations. They believe that some system rather like that of the Militia Act, which came into force six months before the war, will be necessary to meet the case. They were also of opinion that the Regular Army will have to be larger and that it could be sufficiently recruited if the conditions of service were improved, and if all the young men of the country had the chance of seeing what service in the Army under good conditions could be, as these men were doing under the Militia Act. I think it might be of interest for the House to know that, less than a year ago, that was the opinion of a good many British soldiers. I realise that directly one leaves the Service one gets out of touch, and that their reactions may have changed, and so I say that with full diffidence.
Might I add one thing as an old Territorial soldier, and say that I would like to see the Territorial Army re-formed after the war, although I realise there may be all sorts of difficulties. I would say that, during those rather weary years between the wars, in order to keep the Territorial Army going we had to do a great deal of work that was not strictly military. It was really more a sort of entertaining in order to get recruits in those years of trying to make bricks without straw. Our two greatest difficulties in the Territorial Army were, first, lack of basic training, and, second, lack of recruits. I believe that both these difficulties would have been solved by the Act passed just before the war—the Militia Act. If we had not had the war, immense changes would have taken place in the Territorial Army, and it might have had its basic training, and might have had officers chosen from amongst those who have had this basic training. It might also have had longer training and would not have been short of recruits.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Sir Stanley Reed (Aylesbury)
I would not have intervened in this Debate but for the point raised by the hon. Member for 432 Enfield (Mr. Bull)—the point of profiteering at the expense of the British soldier. The hon. Member spoke of the countries he knew—Egypt, North Africa and Italy. I want to speak of the country I did know, India. The Secretary of State has a certain knowledge of that country but I think that probably the House—
Mr. Deputy - Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
I am afraid the hon. Member cannot say very much about India.
§ Sir S. Reed
It was only on the general question of profiteering, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I bow to your Ruling.
That makes it worse. We cannot discuss the general question of profiteering here. We can only deal with Army matters.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I rise to put in a warning to the House against some of the speeches to which we have listened this afternoon. I hope that, on this occasion at least, the troops in the field will not have these speeches brought to their notice; otherwise, it is probably going to have a most pessimistic effect on the morale of the Army, because some of the speeches would give the impression that the House of Commons, even before this war is brought to a conclusion, is engaged in making preparations for a conscript Army for some future war. I notice that the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North Newcastle (Sir C. Headlam), who has just gone out, could not understand what the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) said. Unfortunately, we understood what the hon. Baronet said. What he said was that he hoped we were going to set about creating an Army in the future based upon the traditions of the past. Those of us who went through the terrible years of 1939, 1940 and 1941 in this House, when we met disaster after disaster, not owing to the absence of effective military preparation after the war but owing to the stupidity of the War Office generally, hope to goodness that we shall never organise another Army on the basis of the traditions of the past. Those traditions let us down in a most hopeless fashion at that time, as everyone in this House knows 433 full well. The assumption that we shall make preparations almost immediately for another war machine assumes, in its turn, that all the attempts we are now trying to make to organise a system of collective security are bound to fail.
After the last war there was one assumption made which was perfectly sound, and that was that the preparations of the British Government should be based upon the assumption that we should not face a major war within ten years. I remember the present Prime Minister coming down to the House and telling us that that was the assumption that governed every plan of all the Services. Apparently even that limited optimism is now to be foregone, and we are to base our plans in the future upon the possibility of an immediate war. The advocates of a strong Army come along on these occasions and advocate the claims of the Army. When we come to the Navy Estimates, the naval experts will advocate the claims of the Navy. When we come to the Air Force, the air experts will advocate the claims of the Air Force. Not one of these optimistic gentlemen ever considers what will be the economic situation of this country if we are to base our plans upon a great Army, a great Navy and a great Air Force, and depend upon that war machine for the defence of these Islands and the British Empire.
The fact is that this country could not conceivably sustain a war machine so large as to find a sense of security behind it. Really, we ought now at this time of the day to be getting a little more realism into our discussion of war preparations. We will be able after the war to rest secure not behind the size of the war machine but behind the wisdom of our international policy. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why is that?"] I do not know. How can I tell? But is my hon. Friend going to base the preparations for our war machine upon the assumption of no international system of security? If that is so, the sky is the limit.
Let me put one or two questions to my hon. Friends Who have talked so glibly about this matter this afternoon. All these experts, to whom I have listened in the House now for so many years, and who know so little about what they are talking, will they feel confidence in the size of the Russian Armies? If the 434 Russian Armies are greater, will we feel more secure because the Russian Armies are great? If the American Armies are great, will we feel more secure in the size of the American Army? Will America feel secure in the size of Russia? Will Russia feel secure in the size of America? Will Great Britain feel more secure in the size of Poland? If each nation in its turn tries to arrive at feelings of security behind the size of other nations' armaments, then obviously we do not need any at all, because the only possibilities of war—the Prime Minister has told us and the British Government have already made it perfectly clear—come from the possible aggressions of the four great Powers. Yet neither one of those four great Powers will feel secure because of the size of the armaments of the others. Each will feel insecure because of the size of the others' armaments unless we achieve a foreign policy wise enough to bind all those war machines into a security system. If we can achieve a policy of that sort—
I am very sorry, but the hon. Gentleman must not go into questions of foreign policy on these Estimates.
§ Mr. Bevan
But with all due respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am bound to say that before you arrived speeches were made by hon. Members on the other side, the basic assumption of which was that we were caught napping this time because we were not strong enough—which was one of the silliest statements ever made in British politics—and that therefore in the future we must, in the case of the Army, be strong to meet the possibilities of the future.
The hon. Gentleman can speak on the need for a strong Army, but foreign policy is going too far. I did not stop the hon. Gentleman going a certain way, but obviously we cannot make this into a Foreign Office Debate.
§ Mr. Bevan
I have not the least intention of discussing foreign policy, but I am entitled, I think, to call attention to the assumptions behind the speeches which have been made to-day and the other day. What I am pointing out is that hon. Members have been arguing in the course of these Debates that we ought to base our sense of security in the future upon an expansion of the British Army. I am 435 denying that behind that expansion any sense of security can be found. On the contrary I am asserting that behind an expanding war machine in Great Britain a mounting sense of insecurity will be created and an intolerable burden placed on a nation of between 46,000,000 and 50,000,000, with a white population in the British Empire of less than 70,000,000. To think that we can possibly build up an Army, in competition with 140,000,000 in America, with 200,000,000 in Russia, behind which we can ever hope to feel any sense of security is surely so silly that grown-up people ought not to indulge in it any more. What we must strive for—and that, I agree, I cannot enter into—is to establish an international system so strong, so co-operative, that the great nations composing it can think in terms of a progressive reduction and contraction of their war machine, and therefore find a sense of security behind international co-operation and not behind the steel walls that we are continually talking about today.
I do really hope that we shall not have very much more of that. It is all based upon the notion which the Conservative Party are trying to spread throughout the country that we were landed in this war because we had not prepared for it well enough beforehand. We were landed in this not because we were too weak, but because they were too stupid.
§ Mr. Bevan
My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) made some very serious allegations in the course of his speech the other day. Among the allegations was that a directive had been sent out, I think to the Middle Eastern Command, that hon. Members of this House who happened to be addressing 436 troops should first of all provide the commanding officers with a written script of what they proposed to say. I want to know from the Secretary of State for War whether that is correct. I have not any personal interest in this matter at all, because I have never been invited to address the troops.
§ Miss Ward (Wallsend)
Would the hon. Gentleman forgive me for just one moment because I may be able to clear up the point? I addressed several parties of troops in the Middle Eastern Pay Force and I was not asked to supply any script at all.
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Lady thinks she is clearing up the matter. I should have thought that what she was doing was importing a whole torpedo-load of prejudice. Of course she would not be asked to provide her script beforehand. The question I asked—and the difficulty with my hon. Friend is that she always has such an oblique mind about these matters—was whether a directive has been sent out to that effect. I am not talking about when she was out there, I am speaking about the period when the hon. Member for Ipswich was out there. I asked whether it is the case that someone in the War Office, either on his own responsibility or on the responsibility of the Government or the Secretary of State for War, has sent out a directive that Commanders-in-Chief are entitled to receive the script of the speeches that hon. Members of this House may make to the troops. I am not satisfied to know that all hon. Members are not asked to supply their scripts. I know there are a large number who can be relied upon to speak with the utmost innocuousness as well as boredom to the troops. It is not the non-controversionalist, it is the controversionalist; it is not the people who are known to be traditionalists, who are known to be 100 per cent. supporters. They are all right. We know beforehand what they will say, but I hope that no hon. Member of this House will assert that they are more entitled to talk freely to the troops than I am.
§ Mr. Bevan
And now the hon. Members can have it, and I hope they will like it when they get it. We have had in the Press and in this House references made to the statements of troops in Greece. In fact, Sir Walter Citrine made a broadcast in which he spoke about the conversations he had with members of the Forces in Greece. It is well known in the Army and in the other Services that if you make statements and write letters which are favourable to the Government, you get every publicity for them; if you make statements which are critical of the Government, you will be posted to another station. I can provide the House with letters from officers in the Army, in the Air Force and in the Navy that have been censored by the unit censor, and the men posted to other stations because they have written private letters criticising the conduct of the Government. It is really the most humbugging kind of propaganda to come to this House and give us the evidence of serving soldiers. Serving soldiers know very well that their chances of promotion, that their chances even of remaining where they are, disappear if they give evidence hostile to the policies of the Government.
§ Colonel Clarke
I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I can assure him that that was taken with the utmost fairness, and that the men will welcome the fact that it is "put over" in this country. They knew it was going to be done, they wanted it "put over," and it was taken with the utmost fairness.
§ Mr. Bevan
I was pointing out that that evidence is worthless because the opposite evidence cannot be used, although I am perfectly prepared to give to certain hon. Members and to the Secretary of State for War concrete evidence of where Servicemen have been victimised for expressing in private letters policies hostile to the Government. Everyone knows that, and everyone in the House knows it well. In those circumstances, what justification have they for telling us about what serving soldiers are saying in Greece?
In any case, soldiers engaged in actual operations are the very last witnesses whose word ought to be taken into account. They have had their friends killed and wounded, and they are not in a fit state of mind to give evidence as to the politics of the enemy. You would not take evidence from the family of a murdered man as to the character of the murderer. Neither would you, if you were judicially minded and wished to have a proper and objective understanding of what is happening, take the evidence of troops engaged in warfare as to the politics in Greece. What nonsense.
Hon. Members opposite know very well that they are doing this to import the utmost political prejudice into the matter. Sir Walter Citrine did neither the British Army, the Government nor the British public justice in making the broadcast he did; in fact, he would not have been sent out to Greece unless the Government knew that he could be relied upon to say exactly what he did say. He did the same thing over Finland. I want the Secretary of State, in his reply—because he did not reply the other day—to say whether it is a fact that the speeches of hon. Members to troops are censored. I have been invited to address a rehabilitation centre hi one of the Services. I do not know whether that prohibition applies, and I want to know beforehand.
§ Mr. Bevan
The Royal Air Force. I went, the other day, to address an A.A. Battery in London. I spoke frankly, and I thought the men were fine chaps. I did not notice that they resented what I was saying, although some of them disagreed. I would be very distressed to learn that if I am asked to talk to Servicemen I should have to look over my shoulder all the time. I certainly would not address them at all if I was told that I had to write out what I was going to say, submit it to the commanding officer, and get his approval before I said it. That is an appalling situation.
Finally, I want to say this to hon. Members opposite; they should remember that a large number of members of the Forces, particularly the privates, have some association with us. They are miners, steel workers, agricultural labourers and engineers, and they have slightly more identification with us—I put it no higher than that—than with the point of view of hon. Members opposite.
When the hon. Member said "with us," did he mean that he was speaking as a Member of Parliament, or as a trade unionist?
§ Mr. Bevan
I am talking about myself as the representative of a constituency from which a large number of steel workers, engineers and miners have gone into the Forces. When the Election comes the arbitration of the Election will decide the point. I have a much closer identification with serving men from my constituency than hon. Members opposite. When it comes to a question of who would be the most popular speakers we have no reason to be afraid of any plebiscite of the Services in that matter. We know that these proscriptions are imposed in order to secure an unlimited opportunity for hon. Members opposite to talk their "blimpery" to the troops. We want to know from the Minister whether these instructions have been sent out and, if so, whether he proposes immediately to withdraw them.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I intervene for only a few minutes in this Debate partly because of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), and partly because I would like to pay a tribute to the Army education scheme. I apologise to the Minister for not being present when he made his original speech, but it happened that at that time I was on a visit to Brussels, and I would like to tell the Minister that the conditions of welfare I saw there are such that they can never have been bettered for the British troops. It is so different from anything we remember in the last war, and I would like to pay a tribute to those responsible for making the arrangements. I was listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale with some interest, because I have spoken scores of times to different units, usually by invitation, and I have never been asked to supply a script. I do not quite know what the rule is, and I would he grateful for information as to whether there is anything in this allegation.
In the Army as I have seen it from outside during this war, and especially more recently, under the guidance of Mr. Philip Morris, there has been something quite new in education and training. Whatever our views may be about conscription after the war, I agree that if we are to relate commitments to strength we must think the matter out more clearly than we did in the past. But that enters the field of foreign policy, and I will not go into that question now. In the field of education it seems to me that what has been experienced at places like Wakefield, Colig Harlech and Preston, where thousands of officers and men have been through courses, shows that there has been worked out perhaps a new technique in the science of training. It is also true that in young soldiers' battalions, especially during the last few years, the same thing has been evident. I read with interest the Financial Secretary's remarks about post-war schemes, and I would like to make this suggestion: Would it be possible for the Army—it could also apply to the other Services—to collect the best experience which has been gained in this war in the field of technical training as well as general training, because I believe that the collection of such information would be extremely valuable to our 441 post-war considerations? Not only that, but when one talks of conscription and National Service I do not know whether anyone has any idea of what should be the content of that service. It is not necessarily going to be anything like prewar suggestions, even if it is modelled on the Swiss system. I think there is enough material which, if it could be collected and sifted, would be of great value.
May I recall this little incident from earlier days? It happened in the last war that we had a group, of which I was leader, called "the Blighty League," meeting at Harfleur Base Camp, whose members were determined to come back and do something in this country. We were full of high hopes. There was an attempt to suppress a certain amount of discussion, and the only effect of that was to make us more keen than ever to get on with the job. What he hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. H. Lawson) said the other day worries me a bit, if it is all true. It seemed to me somewhat alarming. I suggest that the utmost freedom should be given, and that in the "Formation Colleges," to which the Financial Secretary referred, and also in our postwar schemes, the vocational element should be fully taken into account. Men are very anxious to make their training directly related to the job they want to pursue when they re-enter civil life. It is not enough to leave the matter to the Ministry of Labour, although that is a technical point and I will not pursue it now.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
I make no apology for speaking in this Debate at this late hour 'because I have not spoken in any of the Debates on the Service Estimates for two years, although I have had wide experience of military operations. I think I am the only Member of the House who was twice, on manoeuvres, attached to headquarters staff so long ago as 1906. I rise for the purpose of saying a few words in praise of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the War Office. Very properly, both on this stage and on the previous stage of these Army Estimates, right hon. and hon. Members, as is their undoubted right, have raised certain points affecting the personality of the soldiers, questions like preparation for civilian life and the 442 like. This would not be a proper deliberative assembly if that was not so. While I disagree almost in toto with what my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has said, this House of Commons would be an ill place if Members were not allowed to put their point of view. I do not want to criticise the House, but questions of whether Private Jones should get is. 2d. or 1s. 1d., or whether Private Brown ought to be prepared for civil life, are infinitely smaller than the fact that in this war we have succeeded in building up the greatest and best British Army we have ever seen. That is a big question, and one which is much more important—if I do not appear to be a "blimp"—than the welfare of Private Robinson.
A word of praise in due to the War Office, that much abused assembly, and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I think we have done more in that respect than any other country. This House—especially individual Members—is prone to forget the attitude which was taken up in the past. I remember all the nonsense talked outside, which was a pale reflection of what was said in this House, about "spit and polish." It was said that it was wrong to make a citizen soldier into a soldier, that he ought to be treated as a bright blue-eyed boy and patted on the back. The only way to turn a citizen into a member of the Regular Army is by "spit and polish" [An HON. MEMBER: "Ask Field-Marshal Montgomery."] My hon. Friend had better not tell Field-Marshal Montgomery to his face that he does not believe in battalion discipline. There is no man in the Army who believes in it more. Let it be remembered that the Brigade of Guards, who are always keen on "spit and polish," have not least contributed to our successes in this war. We have not had a word of apology for all the complaints in the past about how our Army was wasting its time on "spit and polish." It is high time that Members of this House, especially the civilian Members of this war and the last, paid some tribute to the Army and its fighting qualities, and to my right lion. Friend and to the War Office. I think they have done a remarkably good job, which reflects the greatest credit upon them—
§ Mr. Bevan
I think it is rather intolerable that we should be reproached for 443 not having prefaced our remarks by paying tributes to the Army. It would lengthen our speeches enormously. This is a controversial Chamber, and we are supposed to address our remarks to points of difference and not points of agreement. If we are to be reproached in this way, I shall prepare a standard form of preamble—which I will read out every time I make a speech—of praise for everyone deserving praise in order to protect myself from the Noble Lord's reproaches.
§ Earl Winterton
That was a most courteous interruption and I have no objection to it. The hon. Member is entitled to his point of view, and I know he will not be offended when I say that I infinitely prefer the soldier to the civilian. I am certain that he will not object to my personal preference, because no one is more inclined to share his view than I that we have a perfect right to put our own points of view. That is why I have paid a tribute to those whom I still regard as my old colleagues, and I am sure the hon. Member will not object. I think the greatest asset of my right hon. Friend opposite, which I share with him in my humble life, is that he and I have suffered fools as ungladly as we could.
§ 5.1 p.m.
The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Griģģ)
I do not know that I was ever more tempted to follow immediately upon a speaker's last remark, but it is a temptation that I had better resist. I will deal with some of the points of detail which have been raised, in the main, in a humdrum uncontroversial way. First, let me take the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead). I apologise for not having been in my place when he began his speech, but I think I am sufficiently informed of the purport of it. It was that there has been serious inefficiency and lack of imagination in that part of the Army medical services dealing with medical stores, and that that could be attributed to a lack of officer pharmacists. In the first place, I do not think it is true that there are no officer pharmacists. The organisation for the supply of medical and surgical stores is almost entirely officered by quartermasters of the Royal Army Medical Corps, and most of these have the Army dispensary qualification, and many are pharmacists. The number of pharmacists who are 444 being commissioned as quartermasters from the Royal Army Medical Corps has increased, and there are two employed as technical assistants in the Army Medical Directorate. Apart from that, judging by results, I think there has never been a great war in which so little complaint has been made of the Army medical services and so much praise has been given them. I do not think there can be any doubt that they have stood up to five and a half years of war in a manner beyond praise.
Perhaps my hon. Friend means that what is required is a separate pharmaceutical service, with its hierarchy of other ranks and officers. If that is what he means I do not think I agree with him, but, as he suggested, it is a matter that can be examined in the light of his speech and various memoranda that he has furnished to the War Office in connection with the studies that are going on as to the structure of the post-war Army. In the meantime I really cannot accept any suggestion that the Army medical service is a second rate service. I agree much more with the opinion which the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) expressed on Tuesday.
§ Mr. Linstead
I was rather careful to distinguish between the medical and the surgical side of the R.A.M.C., in which I agreed with the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for North Islington. I limited my remarks to the equipment side.
Sir J. Griģģ
I would not agree with my hon. Friend even there, as I maintain that in the main we are doing what he advocates, unless he is advocating a pharmaceutical service quite separate from the Army medical service.
Sir J. Griģģ
On that question my position is very much the same as about a separate pharmaceutical service. I am opposed to the claims that have been made. I do not think they have made out a case. On the other hand, this is a matter that can be considered in relation to the whole general range of problems connected with the post-war Army.
445 Now I come to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). I understand that he has to catch a train so that, if he departs, it will be clearly understood that there is no question of incivility. I should like to remove a certain misunderstanding which he appears to entertain about my remarks the other night, or rather early in the morning. I did not in the least take umbrage at questions being raised, or at my being bombarded on Tuesdays. What I said was that on this annual occasion, when we talk of the Army as a whole, the message that the House might wish to send out to the Army was one of praise and gratitude. My complaint, if complaint it was, was not that I had to spend a large part of my time answering questions of detail, but that those questions, on this particular occasion, might have been accompanied with a greater measure of praise and support and recognition of what the Army had done and suffered in the last years.
Several Members have raised again the question asked by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) about certain instructions which he said were given by the Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East. I understand that he has written me a letter, though it has not yet been shown to me, about what he considers a similar order in one of the commands in this country. I can give the House an absolute and categorical assurance that no such instructions on the subject have been issued by me or by the War Office. Beyond that I know nothing, but I will certainly inquire and let the hon. Member know when I am ready to answer a question on the subject straightforwardly, and with as little controversy as may be appropriate. In the meantime, hon. Members have, no doubt, seen an answer given by the Prime Minister on this question yesterday. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) asked the Prime Minister:if he is aware that there is doubt about the position of Members of Parliament who are given permission to visit the war fronts overseas in regard to their rights of addressing the troops; and will he make a statement on the procedure to which Members are expected to conform.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER
I hardly think it necessary for me to suggest how Members of Parliament should comport themselves. I should suppose that a visiting Member of Parliament would only address troops on authorised occasions, and when doing so that he would refrain from taking advantage of the opportunity to further purely party 446 interests or to express contentious views likely to introduce an element of discord among men who are fighting under military discipline, and perhaps likely to be engaged at short notice with the enemy."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 14th March, 1945: Vol. 409, c. 223.]
§ This is the gospel on the subject. In the meantime all I can say is that I will inquire into the two specific cases which the hon. Member for Ipswich has brought to my notice.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal also with the point about the requests from the Army educational authorities to have representative speakers from all parties?
Sir J. Griģģ
The only thing that has come to my knowledge is a request from there that lecturers on all sorts of subjects of general interest, people who are undoubted authorities on their subjects, should be sent out in considerable numbers to lecture to the troops. That is being done.
When I was in Italy L was told by a senior officer that he had asked for me personally—that I should be allowed to go out. My hon. Friends were not there when he told me this, and that is probably why he did so. He asked that I should be allowed to lecture to the troops, but the request was refused because he said it was felt that no political speakers, or Members having political associations, should be asked.
Sir J. Griģģ
That again is, I regret, not within my personal knowledge. The hon. Member complained that I had not answered the question of the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who, I understand, said that the facts I gave in an answer some days earlier were inaccurate. I have tried to verify the facts. As far as my present information goes, my answer was accurate. Members can put Questions down on Tuesdays. This business of challenging information without giving notice is a matter that I cannot be expected to deal with at the time without further inquiry.
447 I dealt with the question of the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) in his absence. I was accused of discourtesy for not being ready to answer his question.
Sir J. Griģģ
That is what I understood from the hon. Member for Basset-law. I explained at the time that I had not got the facts, but that I would go into the question and give an answer as soon as I knew the facts. There is nothing that I would wish less than to be discourteous to any hon. Member, particularly over a case of such tragic import.
I come now to the question of the postwar Army. I am afraid that I shall not satisfy the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, who made it clear that he was not in favour of compulsory service. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) made the same point. May I say in passing about the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale that I really thought myself back 25 years ago after the last war when I heard the arguments he was using, such as, "If you want war, prepare for war," and all that sort of thing. I should have thought that those arguments had been absolutely and crushingly disproved in the last five years. The only other comment I would make to him is that he might remember that, for a year in this war, we were absolutely alone, and that, unless we are prepared on occasion to stand alone, we shall not survive.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
I do not believe that at all. Are you going to have an Army on a professional basis, and how big is it going to be?
Sir J. Griģģ
It stood alone anyhow, and with not an awful lot of help from the hon. Member from Ebbw Vale.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
The hon. Member must not use that expression, and I must ask him to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
No, the word "lie" is the word I am objecting to, and the hon. Member must withdraw—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman must withdraw the word "lie" before we deal with the other matter.
Sir J. Griģģ
All I said was that I did not think the British Army had received a great deal of help from the hon. Member. If the hon. Member thinks that I am wrong over that, perhaps he would like to submit a list of his services.
Sir J. Griģģ
Let me get back to the subject of the post-war Army and the remarks of the hon. Member for Basset-law. Quite clearly, he is not in favour of compulsory service. What is clear to everybody, I think, is that the question of compulsory service or no compulsory service is a very material element of the problem of the post-war Army. As I said the other evening, everyone will admit that that is a decision of major importance. When that decision has been made, the War Office are perfectly ready to 449 produce a complete scheme for the postwar Army for the consideration of my colleagues. A great deal of work has been done on this on a variety of hypotheses, but I do not think it is in the least possible for me to make declarations on any part of the subject before the major decision has been taken. Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to say that I have now read his speech in cold print, and I still think that some of it was very regrettable. Some of it seemed to me to convey an impression—I will not say it was calculated to do so, but it was capable of conveying the impression—which I think he would wish an early opportunity of removing. This impression can be interpreted as a strong suggestion to soldiers that they should refuse to go to the Far East and that, if they did refuse to do so, it would be right for them to refuse.
I am really surprised at my right hon. Friend. He was present the other night when the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) made the same charge. I got up and denied that straight away, and the hon. Member accepted my explanation. The right hon. Gentleman was there at the same time, and yet he has the audacity and the discourtesy—and he does me no justice—to come and repeat the same charge to-day.
Sir J. Griģģ
I think the matter is so important that it is extremely desirable that the hon. Member's denial should be repeated. I have read his remarks in cold print, and they seem to me more capable of carrying that meaning than any other meaning. I am glad to hear what the hon. Gentleman says, and I hope that his second denial will strengthen the effect of the first.
The hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Bull) raised some points about profiteering abroad. I think it is reasonably true to say that in most countries abroad—I am not talking about India, where the canteen service comes under the Government of India and not N.A.A.F.I.—but in most places abroad we endeavour to provide the N.A.A.F.I. a sufficiently wide range of goods. It is not necessary for people to go to the bazaar or the local shops to buy goods. It is undesirable in the liberated countries for troops to buy goods because there is only a limited supply of goods for the local population. There are hostels and entertainments provided for them on a large and generous 450 scale. If in places like Egypt they do not want to buy expensive goods in the bazaars they have their own remedy; they just do not buy them.
§ Mr. J. J. Lawson (Chester-le-Street)
In Egypt, notably, it is difficult for the soldier to buy anything, particularly if he wants to send presents home, without being charged exorbitantly. I believe that the problem has been solved in Italy by gift shops.
Sir J. Griģģ
Yes, the problem has been largely solved there in this way, and the gift shops in Naples and Rome are magnificent examples of this policy.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster)
Are the gift shops in Egypt and the prices controlled in the same manner as the gift shops in Naples?
Sir J. Griģģ
Perhaps the hon. Member will put down a question about that. I cannot carry in my mind all the places where there are gift shops. I know there are some in liberated Europe and in Italy, but I will not commit myself off-hand to their being on the same scale.
§ Earl Winterton
It is contrary to the Egyptian Constitution. You could not do it in Egypt. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It would be best it all Members addressed the Chair. The Noble Lord is contributing with his interruptions.
§ Earl Winterton
The interruptions have mostly come from the rather heated hon. Members for Bassetlaw and Ebbw Vale.
Sir J. Griģģ
The hon. and gallant Member for Loughborough (Major Kimball) asked me to smoke a sample of pipe tobacco which had been sent from abroad. I have not the slightest desire to submit myself to any unnecessary pain, and 451 therefore I beg him not to send me the sample. If he will send me the places and units to which this particular infliction has been issued, I will investigate the matter and any other cases and places he has in mind. But I do not consider it as part of my duty to be the dog on which any particular poison is tried. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) said a word in praise of welfare services in Brussels and of the Army Educational System, and he hoped we would collect the results of the work which had been done during the war for the benefit of the science and technique of education after the war. That is a suggestion I will certainly consider. What the hon. Member said gives me the opportunity of paying a tribute to the officers and directors of the Army Educational Service. They have done a great work over recent years and have a great work still to do in the release period. I think that under the new Director-General it is an extremely good service; we were very lucky to get Mr. Morris, and I was grateful to the Kent Education Authority for letting him come to us.
As I aroused some ire the other night by my remarks about the character of the Debate, perhaps I should make them again, but make them in a less controversial way, particularly as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham and Worthing (Earl Winterton) said a great deal in praise of the Army. What I was saying was not in the least that the work of the War Office or the Secretary of State should be praised, but that the troops need and deserve all the support that this House can give them, and that from this House, at least on this one occasion of the year, there should be as much as possible of praise, commendation, assurance and support in major matters and not solely in the smaller matters of administration.
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.
§ Second and Third Resolutions agreed to