HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc2016-7

I now come to the last problem for investigation, and that is the important question of Finance. When you come to the question of finance a good deal of wild talk is mixed with much sound sense. But that is true of every topic, and finance is no exception. Here again we must face the facts. It is the only sound foundation for any reform. What are the facts? There are, first of all, what I may call the temporary financial conditions. What are they? This year, although we have demobilised millions of men, you could not reduce your Army and your Navy to their normal size until Peace had been signed with all the belligerents. We could not have signed the Peace with Germany one hour sooner than we did, but it has not yet been ratified. I hope that Peace will be ratified about the beginning of September. Until Peace be signed, it would have been a piece of idle recklessness on the part of the great victorious countries to withdraw the troops to such an extent as not to give them an overpowering force in the event of Peace being rejected. The Peace with Austria has not been signed. The Peace with Bulgaria has not been signed, and. what is more important from our point of view, the Peace with Turkey has not been signed. The Peace with Turkey has not been signed, not because of any delay on our part, but because we are waiting for the decision of America. We want to know whether America is pre pared to take her share of guaranteeing protection for peoples who, if they are not protected, will be subjected to torture, mis-government, and massacre. We have not yet had our answer, and until the answer comes, you cannot formulate your peace with Turkey. As soon as it comes, we shall have to adjust the settlement to the answer which America gives. Meanwhile who is to occupy these countries? When it is expected that you should cut down Army and Navy expenditure to normal, I want those who urge us to do that to bear in mind that there are vital British interests involved. There is no settlement in which Britain is more intimately concerned than in that of Turkey. The future of the Empire depends upon the settlement of Turkey.