§ The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Mr. Churchill)
I beg to move, "That MR. SPEAKER do now leave the Chair."
This is the third time that I have been responsible for presenting the Air Estimates to the House, and the Air Force for the first time in its history, not perhaps a lengthy history, has actually been under substantially the same administration for more than two whole years. We have had the same Chief of the Air Staff, we have had the same Controller-General of Civil Aviation, we have had the same Director of Personnel, we have had the same Director of Equipment, we have had in the main the same officers in command in the different areas or schools, we have had the same Secretary of State— that is an announcement which, no doubt, will be received with mingled feelings— and undoubtedly we should have had the same Under-Secretary of State but for the wayward proclivities of my right hon. and gallant Friend. I pointed out two years ago that, quite apart from clearing away the gigantic debris and enormous mass of material which the War had left, and which had to be dispersed in one way or other, it would take, in my opinion, five years to make an efficient, self-respecting, well-disciplined, economically-organised Air Force. About 18 months of these five years have now gone, and the progress has been very much greater than I had ventured to hope. It has been rendered possible solely by the fact that during the whole period we have had continuity of administration. There has been no chopping and changing either of men or of plant so far as the Royal Air Force is concerned. Everything is being carried out step by step as was intended, every superior officer or official is pursuing his work with a sense of being accountable, not for a week or for a month, but for the year after next, and possibly the year after that. Every subordinate 1656 is doing his duty with the sense that he has got to give satisfaction to superiors and seniors who are not going to be shifted and changed with every gust of service intrigue or of newspaper agitation—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Or of anti-waste agitation. I have often felt, when listening to someone else speaking, that I could improve the speech by adding a third point. I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend for contributing a very real and effective and extremely well-chosen point. Instead of being removed by any of these causes, to which my hon. Friend has added a third, these subordinate officers will feel that their work will continue to be judged by the same men and valued by the same men, and that praise and blame may be made to be factors which are definitely worth striving to achieve or to avoid. There is absolutely no other way in which you can form a disciplined force worthy of the name or worthy of this country. There is no other way in which you can form a service which will be a real source of strength and honour to the nation, and which, moreover, will give some trustworthy return for the expenditure and labour which it demands. If this be true of armies and of navies, or of any great organisation requiring a high standard of efficiency and obedience, it is true in a particular degree of the Air Service. No more complicated service has ever been brought into existence in this world.
There are few people who have any idea of the complexity of the organisation of an Air Force. There are, for instance, no less than fifty-four trades, of which thirty are highly-skilled trades, involved in the production and in the repair of an aeroplane. That gives an idea of the immense complexity from a technical point of view. Almost every known science and art practised among men is involved in aeronautical research. The whole of this extraordinarily complicated material side of aviation, almost without compare in a technical organisation, is now brought into contact with an entirely separate set of complications, namely, all those arising from the art of war, almost indefinite in their scope and variety, and all the interplay of war considerations upon this very complicated material constitute, in your 1657 ultimate product, the complex proposition of an efficient Royal Air Force. The Navy and Army can each specify a large number of separate and particular functions, each requiring a special type of machine, each requiring a specially trained pilot, which they demand to have fulfilled for them by the Royal Air Force. For instance, machines are required for the Navy to spot the fall of shot fired at vessels which are completely concealed below the horizon owing to their great distance. Large machines of an amphibious type are required to scout far over the seas and take the place to a considerable extent of the far more expensive cruisers. Large machines are also required to attack the heavy ships of the enemy in their harbours and at sea with torpedoes and bombs and thus compete with the torpedo boat destroyers which have bulked so largely in the past. Small machines of high fighting quality and manœuvring power are required to rise up from the decks of ships and afterwards to alight upon them again, in order to attack the torpedo carrying, bomb carrying, and reconnoitring machines with which you are bound to assume a modern hostile fleet will be equipped.
So much for the Navy. With the Army the types are already well known. You have got to have machines to mark for the artillery, machines to reconnoitre for the infantry, machines to fight with the infantry, the armoured machines which come very low down to fight, as they did in the last War, the machines which are to reconnoitre with the tanks, the machines which are to bomb at short distance or at a great distance, the machines which are to fight the aeroplanes of the enemy of different types in the air, and so protect not only all your own aeroplanes but the regular services of the Army. Everyone of those various applications of air power require a special type of machine, and the special training of men, and if you are to have an Air Force which is an integral, effective, scientific, military unit, you cannot afford to be ignorant of any of these duties or incapable of performing them. It is difficult to make an officer, to train men for the responsibility and bearing which an officer requires. It is difficult to make a pilot, to secure that extraordinary facility in the conduct of the machine in the air; but in the Royal Air 1658 Force, when you have trained a man both to be an officer and to be a pilot, trained the same man to both these important functions, even then you are not by any means at the end. The pilot, with all his skill in flying, with all his knowledge of his machine, would be a mere prey to an enemy unless he could, in addition, fulfil at least one of the highly specialised functions of aerial war-gunnery, bombing, torpedoing, photography, wireless telegraphy, spotting for artillery, observing, and other functions-of that kind. Our organisation must therefore provide for a large number of varied schools and training establishments, and this is what we have been steadily building up in different parts of the country, according to one scheme, in the last 18 months.
Now I will tell the House about some of these establishments, because it is necessary that they should realise the complexity of the Air Service, compared with the Army, or even with the Navy itself. At Halton we are going to train 3,000 boys to be skilled mechanics, with' an eventual output of 1,000 a year, and here and at Manston adult recruits are now undergoing an intensive course of technical training. At Cranwell we are training cadets to be officers, and simultaneously a large number of the boy mechanics who are eventually to be accommodated at Halton. At Upavon we are teaching men to be instructors in flying, and officers are also given a course of practical engineering. At Netheravon and five other training schools, one of which will be in Egypt, we are training officers to become highly skilled pilots, not instructors, but pilots. At Andover a school will be opened to teach air pilotage and night flying. Eastchurch will be a station where armament, aerial gunnery, and bombing are taught. At Gosport they will learn torpedo dropping from aircraft, and experiments are being conducted to improve the methods of observation for naval guns, and the wireless control of surface craft, that is to say, of self-propelled vessels which move without any man on them through the sea and are directed in their movements by an aeroplane in the air with wireless. At Flowerdown there is an electrical and wireless school. I need scarcely say that each of the schools which I have mentioned is the head of an extremely elaborate, complicated, and mentally dominat- 1659 ing study and art, which has its relation to the general purpose we have in hand. At Larkhill kite-balloon training is undertaken. At Farnborough, photography in all its forms, that is to say, the taking of photographs, the reproduction of photographs rapidly, the understanding and reading of photographs, and the detection of the meaning of photographs taken from the air—a wonderful science in itself, which would, I am certain, fascinate any Member who had time to go and see even what its general scope is.
At Uxbridge is the Air Force depot, and there we have a physical training school. At Salisbury and Farnborough artillery and infantry co-operation are taught to work with the aeroplanes of these two other Forces. At Calshott, air navigation over the sea, long-range flights by the stars or by other methods, and sea-plane flying. At Felixstowe, and Leuchars, in Scotland, are stations where the co-operation of the Navy is carried on. Then there are the great experimental stations at Martlesham, Grain, and Biggin Hill. Then there is the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, an institution most vital for the general development of flying. There is a research laboratory with schools for medical officers at Holly Hill, to enable them to study the medical problems which are peculiar to aviation. There are a whole set of medical problems peculiar to aviation, which comprise the effects on the human being of the different altitudes, and an infinite study of the kind of tests to which recruits and would-be pilots are subjected before you can be sure they will stand the particular strain to which they will be subjected without risking their lives and the lives of others dependent on them. Lastly, there are courses of general instruction which we have arranged at Cambridge, Oxford, London, Capetown, and Sheffield in the great universities in these cities. These courses deal, firstly, with the theories underlying aviation, and, secondly, they provide specialised engineering instruction.
I have unfolded the whole of this picture to the House, because every part of this complicated organisation is very largely interdependent. Like the organs of the human body, all are necessary for healthy life. I wonder how many of our critics have taken the trouble even to 1660 learn the exact articulation of an Air Service. Sometimes I think they are wise, because there is no doubt that the first effect of knowledge is to cramp the style. Our organisation has now been carried to a point where its entire scope can be discerned. It is still very new; it still wants the rest of the five years to complete it; but, at any rate, it is all blocked in, and you can see in actual working the whole of this organisation, and it constitutes what is, upon the whole, I venture to say, one of the most remarkable educational systems for imparting practical skill and scientific knowledge to young British lads of every rank and class in life which has ever been called into being in this country, or, as far as I know, in any other. Leaving war purposes out altogether, leaving the idea of war and the military application of the science out altogether, there can be no doubt that the enrichment and cultivation of national aptitude resulting from the educational and training establishments of the Royal Air Force are a great national asset, and an asset which, let me point out, is shared by all classes, which is designed to offer, and capable of offering, to the poorest lad clever with his brains, nimble with his fingers, stout in his heart, an opportunity to rise by industry and by conduct, grade after grade, to important and useful positions in the Service, or to pass out at any stage into the world when his Air Force Service is completed, highly equipped for the battle of life here in this country, and still more highly equipped for the battle of life open to the young lads of Britain in the great wide regions under the sway of the British Crown which need more than anything else these men who have this skilled, practical, quasi - scientific, quasi - disciplined training at their disposal. The training organisation of the Royal Air Force will, as it develops and perfects itself, become a great technical university for the nation, with the glamour and traditions of a gallant service super-added, and I should like to say this. Although only 18 months of the five years are gone, already the fact that there have been stability, continuity, something that people could look to and make their way towards and be sure it would not have changed before they had got there, the mere fact that that has been established has enabled us to obtain an extremely 1661 good type of boys coming forward to join as young mechanics, and other boys coming forward to be trained to be cadets, or to be officers, or to be pilots, and I should like in this connection to acknowledge the help and aid we have had from the local education authorities. They have secured us a flow, and an increasing flow, of young men who will be a credit to any organisation which this country is capable of calling into being.
This whole system, with all its complicated establishments, has just been laboriously brought into being and is just beginning to work as a whole, and, of course, it has just reached the point in its development where it would be possible to do it the greatest amount of harm in the shortest possible time. When one looks at it as one sees it now, one cannot help saying to one's self, what an irresistible temptation this must offer to ignorant destructiveness. Now is the time when a change of policy would more completely, and more easily, and more swiftly throw away all the work that has been done; now is the time when those who never can pursue a single object for more than a few months or even a few weeks together, and always come hurrying forward with new projects and wish to scamper off with raucous cries in pursuit of some new hare, now is the time when such persons will find an irresistible temptation to destroy this nation's organisation, just as it is reaching effective but still juvenile life. Two years of consistent policy in the Royal Air Force? Why, how shocking! One can imagine them saying: "Is it not time that we had a new stunt?" You could not have a better moment for the impatient and shallow element in public thought and public expression—I am not, of course, referring to any hon. Member of this House—you could not have a better moment to swoop down upon this highly complicated and very delicate organisation and break it all up.
Upon the foundation which I have described if these training establishments are maintained the fighting squadrons upon which we are relying to keep peace and order throughout the Empire and to preserve for us the means of defence at home. Without a complete training organisation you cannot have any efficient force of air squadrons; once you have got that organisation it will carry a few more or a few less without any 1662 particular inconvenience or additional expense There are 28 fully formed service squadrons, of which six are in Egypt and Palestine, five in Mesopotamia, eight in India, one on the Rhine, one at Malta, the last not yet fully equipped; thus 21 out of the 28 squadrons are overseas. The equivalent of three more squadrons are in Ireland, three are working with the Navy, while one is employed at home in giving refresher courses to pilots. The four additional squadrons which are the residue of the five sanctioned by the House a few months ago, will begin forming on 1st April, and that brings our total up to 32. These additional squadrons are wanted in many directions. They constitute the only reserve for all contingencies that we possess in the flying service. These fighting squadrons and training establishments comprise 2,900 officers, about 25,000 men, with a certain number of civil assistants. That is the Air Force upon which, rightly or wrongly, we have been labouring for the last two years.
I think there is a possibility in the future of a higher degree of economy being achieved through our being able to make squadrons undertake more of the work of the training establishments. But we have not yet been able to do that because firstly, the squadrons have themselves been forming, and, secondly, because all these squadrons have been engaged in actual fighting, or in operations which have many of the unpleasant elements of actual fighting, during the currency of the last twelve months. In addition, we propose this year to begin the formation on a very small scale of a Territorial Air Force, for which £20,000 is taken in the Estimates. Our idea is to have six squadrons, stationed near centres where there is a large engineering population, and where aerodromes are available. Each squadron would have a small nucleus of regular air mechanics, and it hoped that the skilled voluntary element in the neighbourhood will form this small nucleus.
Such is the organisation of the Royal Air Force. To repeat a metaphor which I have used before and which on subsequent occasions I have not been able to improve upon, I would say that the training establishments are the plum-trees and the fighting squadrons are the plums 1663 themselves. If the tree is mutilated or starved or poisoned you will have to pay for the trees but you will not get any fruit, you will not get any plums. If the tree is well nourished and well grown you can, within considerable limits, by pruning or otherwise—and no tree has been more severely pruned than the Air Force, which has been subjected to the most searching and rigorous pruning in every detail to endeavour to secure the result for the limited sum of money which has been placed at our disposal—if the tree is kept healthy you can increase or diminish the size of the crop of fruit which you wish to obtain from the tree.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I say this not for the House but for the public at large, and for those members of the public who are certainly very much at large and who write about these subjects with the very greatest economy both of knowledge and of thought. I am very anxious to illustrate to them how foolish and wasteful it would be if we were to take advice which is pressed upon us from more than one quarter at present. It is said, for instance, "Is not the war over, was not the last war the war to end war"—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
"And has it not ended by leaving such a feeling towards one another among all the nations of the world, among all individuals of every class in every part of the world that all idea of violence is entirely removed from human affairs? Has it not put an end to all international rivalry, has it not led to general disarmament? Has not our Empire become so quiet and tranquil in every part that we really could afford to rely solely upon moral suasion?" and so on. It is also said, "What do we want all this service aviation for? Instead of this let us go in for some splendid new development of civil aviation. Let us take seven or eight millions from the Royal Air Force and devote them to the pursuits of running airships and aeroplanes all over the country and all over the world." I do not say for a moment that those are not good objects in themselves if only we had the money for them, but when it comes to cutting in 1664 upon necessities in order to provide what, after all, at their best are conveniences, surely we should be committing a very great folly.
Let us see what would happen if such a course were adopted. First of all the present Air Force, moderate in scale, modest in demeanour, modern in outlook, would go to pieces. Its organisation would be completely broken up. The vital elements of the machine would be destroyed, the processes would no longer work, and you would have half your expense, but you would not have half your Air Force. You would have nothing that could be considered an integral organisation or an Air Force in any sense of the word. You would not be able to discharge any one of those duties of garrisoning the British Empire and maintaining order in the wide regions which the Air Force is showing itself increasingly able to undertake. Those duties would either have to be abandoned, or discharged by a large number of soldiers. You would not be able to discharge any of those duties in regard to the Navy which are essential to modern science and in which, in many directions, the possibilities are enormous. You would not preserve even in your own island the nucleus of an efficient force to enable us to protect ourselves against what is, after all, the most deadly attack, attack from the air, if ever such a danger arose again. You would still have a heavy expense and it would not be an expense which would produce any intelligible result, but the defensive arrangements of the Empire would receive a crippling injury and they would be permanently relegated to a position the future of which would be at once very costly and wholly unscientific. In place of what you had lost there would no doubt be a gain. You would no doubt establish some very convenient and imposing air services by airships and aeroplane, communications would be improved, mails would be carried quicker and a limited number of persons who could afford to pay very high rates would be carried and would be able to cross the world at unprecedented speed. I should very much like to see that done, I will do everything in my power to help that forward, but to say that such results are comparable to the solid and indispensable work done by the Royal Air Force m helping with the Army and Navy to 1665 defend our country and our Empire is an absurdity. You would throw away the one essential of your life in order to adopt what is undoubtedly a great convenience and an advance in civilisation.
The story would not end there. A day would come when powerful nations, beginning to recover from the War, and to gather their power together again, would become the cause of rumours in this country. There would be rumours that in the heart of Germany or Russia there were great aerial developments of a very serious character, or of a character which might easily have a military complexion. Then you would have a war scare, and I have no doubt you would have a leading article in "The Times" on that subject—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The people of this island would be told that there were a large number of machines in existence which at any moment could begin shattering the houses of London, and more important still, the dockyards, the power stations, the magazines, the oil tanks and the technical armaments upon which the scientific life and defence of this country depend. There would be a frantic effort to revive the Air Service and you would have more articles in the "Times"; I can even foresee the character of those articles—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That is very clever, but it is not relevant at all to the live criticisms which I am endeavouring to meet. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is always very ready to cast an informing interruption on the course of the Debate, should really, having so much practice, study interruptions a little more no as to make them more effective in point and more relevant. I have no doubt it will be said that in the year 1921 a great mistake had been made. I shall he told by those who are advocating the exact opposite to-day, that a very great mistake had been made in breaking down the Royal Air Force just at the moment when, by the skill and labours of Sir Hugh Trenchard and others, it had been 1666 carried into complete existence, and that the Minister of the day, giving way to his volatile temperament, had been lured into all sorts of vague and airy schemes of civil aviation and had cast away the solid security and buckler of the State which an efficient Air Force presented. I have no doubt the leader writer would go on to say that it is no use recriminating about the past, that we must leave that and close our ranks and open our pockets to meet the difficulties that are before us. Money would be poured out like water to re-create what had been thrown away. But you would not have the science, the training, the disciplined and skilful men. We should begin making all over again the same blunders that we made, in the early years of the War, and perhaps we should not even have time to complete our blunders before the maroons and the sirens, almost forgotten now, broke once again upon the cars of our unhappy and justifiably indignant people. If that happened, I expect there would be some more of these articles, that is to say, assuming that Printing House Square, and Bouverie Street had been miraculously and providentially spared by the destroying hand.
Therefore I say it would be most unwise to break up the Air Force which has been slowly and carefully re-created. I have gone very cart-fully into the matter and I do not believe that you could possibly have an Air Force which would discharge the essential and vital naval and military duties of the Empire for less than £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 a year, that is to say, £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 a year at the pre-War value of money. There is one kind of decreptitude and moral dishonesty which inspires me with indignation, and that is the form exhibited by persons who write and speak about the cost of the fighting services now without any reference to the change in the purchasing power of money. I see it stated to-day in a newspaper which always has rather prided itself on proceeding along-rational lines of thought on public subjects, that the Air Force was costing practically two-thirds of what the Army cost before the War. Nothing of the sort. The expense of the Air Force now, compared with pre-War, is not more than £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 sterling. You cannot have an Air Force for less than that, which is the very minimum. If there are to be great developments in civil aviation 1667 at Government expense the additional money must be voted by Parliament for that purpose. I should, of course, be delighted to receive from the House and from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, larger sums of money for civil aviation, but in view of the grave financial stringency I do not feel justified in asking at present for more than the £1,000,000 a year which we are spending. Properly used, a great deal ought to be accomplished within the limits of this £1,000,000. We must do everything that is possible to help those who have it in hand. They have a very hard task to perform, and they have shown great courage and persistency and perseverence in their discharge of it. I think, however, that in view of the limited sum which is available it will be necessary to go on concentrating on a few routes and a few services to make sure that they are established and maintained, rather than to spread out your contributions on plans of a general character, not one of which can be carried more than half way to success.
Last year the Admiralty reached the opinion that, as the need for economy was so great, we could not afford to develop both airships and aeroplanes for naval purposes, and that we had better give up the airships and concentrate on the aeroplanes. It was a melancholy decision, when you consider that, as a result of so much expenditure, we had reached almost the first place in the world in the construction of rigid airships. But I think it was a wise decision. It seems to me very probable that that will involve the abandonment by the Government of airship building in the civil sphere. We have hitherto been engaged in completing airships under construction when the War ended, in experimenting with those ships, and in building a new ship for the United States, for which we receive a sum of £500,000, owing to the enterprise and commercial activity of my right hon. Friend, in training their crew in the handling of this ship, and in carrying out certain experiments with mooring masts which are of great interest and importance. Unless, however, within the next few weeks private companies are willing to come forward and take over the airships and run them for commercial purposes, I shall not feel justified in continuing expenditure upon airships for civil purposes. If any company will come forward and give a 1668 reasonable undertaking to operate the vessels and to continue to experiment, they shall have all our airships free of charge, together with all the spare parts in our possession, and the necessary ground establishments. They can have them as a free gift, with any assistance that we can give, if they care to come forward. More than that we cannot do. There is nothing new in this. During the whole of this year we have been trying to induce commercial firms to come forward and take over the airships on very favourable terms, and I trust that in the next few weeks some proposal which can be taken up will be made to us.
The task of fostering civilian aviation in the British Isles will be attended with much difficulty. The fogs and mists and other climatic conditions are a terrible hindrance. Moreover, the country is covered by a network of railways and roads, which constitute a most formidable competition with the air. Travelling by air does not mean travelling from one city to another, but from one aerodrome to another; the aerodromes are on the outsides of the cities and it usually takes from 15 to 30 minutes to reach or return from an aerodrome. Then you have to compete in an aeroplane with trains which carry passengers into the heart of the cities, and with motor cars which take them actually from door to door. If you add to that the danger and uncertainty induced by climatic conditions, it will be seen that we are much less favourably circumstanced, so far as domestic civil aviation is concerned, than countries like France, Italy, Spain or, I dare say, the United States of America. Therefore, I should not expect to see a very large or a very rapid development of domestic civil aviation within these islands. I think the Government might easily pour out very large sums of money with that object, without achieving any permanent result. There is, however, one route which we should keep open, and which certainly offers superior prospects of success. I mean the air route from London to Paris and the Continent generally. Here the British aeroplane, although still hampered by the weather conditions of these islands, has the enormous boon, the almost inestimable boon to bestow on a traveller, of eliminating the crossing of the Channel with its attendant delays and discomforts. It is not simply the incon- 1669 venience of the sea voyage which will be saved, but the long delay which takes place both before and after the passage. There is no more striking experience than to travel by air from London to Paris for the first time to one having been accustomed to make many laborious journeys by rail and sea. One really has a sense of enchantment when, in less than two hours, almost before one would have reached Dover, there is the beautiful city of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Dome of the Invalides, revealed in the sunlight far below. I cannot conceive that with a sustained effort to popularise this service it will not succeed, at any rate during the summer months. I think we should concentrate upon this now, when our funds are so limited, instead of dissipating our strength in enterprises which we may not be able to carry through.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has accorded to the Air Ministry a very wide discretionary power in the spending of the £1,000,000 allocated to civil aviation, provided that the total is not exceeded and that no commitment is made which involves future increases on the £1,000,000. The sum of £60,000 is included in the Estimates for subsidies to civil aerial transport firms, and this was based on a scheme proposed by Lord Weir's Committee for subsidising such companies to the extent of 25 per cent, of their gross earnings. Now, however, that the French Government have decided to grant to their own companies assistance on a most generous scale, I fear that if we adhere to the scheme of Lord Weir's Committee our firms will be so heavily undercut that there will be no encouragement for British lines to continue. I propose, therefore, to set up immediately a Committee, including members of the aircraft industry and the aerial transport firms, to devise the necessary alternative methods which will meet these changed conditions, and to make proposals for immediate action. If a saving can be effected on other parts of the civil aviation Vote, the inducements we now offer will be made much greater. More than that I cannot say at present.
I am bound to deal with at least one further question. We are often asked, Is the Air Force to be simply an addition to the pre-War Army; is it an extra burden on the taxpayers of every 1670 country, or will it gradually become a substitute for an important portion both of the Army and the Fleet? There is no doubt that, properly handled and developed, the Air Force will become a substitute to a very important extent both for soldiers and ships. It may not, however, become a substitute first of all until it is formed and perfect, and it cannot become a substitute except in so far as it proves by practical steps that it is able to discharge the function which has hitherto been and is now being discharged from day to day by the Army and the Navy. So far as the Army is concerned, we are convinced that the Air Force has it in its power at the present time very sensibly to reduce the numbers and costs of the garrisons of certain Oriental territories for which we are at present responsible. We know that in the recent rebellion in Mesopotamia whole districts were prevented from rebellion by the mere fact that aeroplanes were seen cruising over those areas. So far as coast defence is concerned—the defence of naval ports and defence against invasion—there is no doubt that the Air Force can afford a real protection that will take the place of far more costly vessels necessary in the pre-War days. So far as the Navy is concerned, it is quite true that no sensible or well-informed person contemplates the Air Force being able in the next five or ten years to take the place of capital ships that have formed the British line of battle on sea. Harm is done when claims are made on behalf of the Air Force either in regard to maintaining order and security, unaided, alone, single-handed, in large disturbed countries or in regard to the prime defence of these islands and of our Empire on the sea. The Air Force can only at the present time act as a supplement, as an increasing supplement, but still only as a supplement to the Army and the Navy, but it should be a supplement which, from now onwards, should enable the number of types of warships to be reduced and considerable reductions to be effected in the number of troops we have hitherto employed in certain parts of the world. It may well be, for instance, that the capital ship will be increasingly watched and protected by aircraft in the future instead of by the larger number of small vessels, cruisers, 1671 destroyers, trawlers which have been found indispensable to its safety in the late War. It may well be that reconnaisance at sea by aircraft may be found a substitute for far more expensive types of sea-going ships. It may well be—this, perhaps, will be thought an extraordinary suggestion—that the submarine will find in the aeroplane another of those deadly menaces which threaten to curtail its sinister intrusion into the foundations of our naval security. I do not wish to prejudge those matters. Obviously, these questions of air and of naval and material are at present very largely in flux; but I am sure of this, and this is the point and the only point which I have been endeavouring to put before the House during the whole of the observations they have permitted me to address to them—this is the sole point to which all my arguments from whichever quarter they have originated, have been directed—I am sure that to scrap and break up the Air Force which has been created laboriously, which has just reached the effective stage, would not only rob you of an essential and vital means of defence, but will also cut you off from the possibilities of future reductions in the other services through the substitution of air power for man power and for sea power, which reductions may indeed be an essential part of our future security.
That is all I will trouble the House with at the present time except to say this: I suppose I shall be asked to refer to the future of the Air Ministry, and I shall refer to it by saying it is a matter which ought to be dealt with by the Prime Minister or by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) rather than by me. I do not wish to seem to be making out a case for myself. To begin with, it would be difficult to do justice to the subject—[Laughter]—I mean without being accused of want of modesty. I can assure the House I shall be absolutely ready to hand over the seals of the Air Ministry at any moment that it may be found convenient to create a new Secretary of State for Air with a separate seat in the Cabinet. That is a matter to which I would raise no sort of obstacle of any kind, but so long as I am responsible for the Air Ministry the policy which I now submit to the House will continue in essentials, if the House supports me, to be what it has 1672 been during the last two years, that is to say, it will be first of all to spend £1,000,000 a year on civil aviation in whatever manner may be found best, but with particular regard to the importance of maintaining the Cross-Channel Services. Secondly, to build up in all its details a properly combined, efficient fighting service, a healthy, skilled, and well-disciplined body of officers and men; and, thirdly, to maintain a unified, separate, independent Air Force as a third and equal arm in the Service with the Army and the Navy, and to act continuously in close and harmonious co-operation and combination with them.
§ Major-General SEELY
I am sure the House listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but I think they were amused and, indeed, amazed at the conclusion of it. He told us that he proposed to retain the seals of the Secretary of State for Air at the same time as those of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. A more extraordinary arrangement I think the House has never heard of. There were many of us who thought that the combination of the offices of Secretary of State for Air and Secretary of State for War was an indefensible arrangement, but to say that a man could be Secretary of State for the Colonies and Secretary of State for Air at one and the same time, seems to be indefensible, comic, but it may be in the end somewhat tragic. I am sorry to have to ask the right hon. Gentleman to leave his somewhat rollicking mood of cheerful optimism, and look at the bedrock facts of what has been the effect of his maladministration in the past. He began his speech by saying everything was going on just as before. So it is, but it is going very badly. May I draw his attention to this? I do not propose to go into any details. We shall be discussing these Estimates to-morrow, and perhaps it is proper now to ask who will be replying for the Air Ministry tomorrow, when, as we understand, the right hon. Gentleman is going off on his proper business to Egypt. Will he tell us who will be the representative of the Secretary of State for Air in this House?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My right hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Guest).
§ Major-General SEELY
There will be basis no one representing the Air Ministry except the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, who has a great many other things to do, and who does not in any sense represent the Air Ministry. Let us see what exactly has happened as the result of the indefensible arrangement of the combination of the offices of Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air, and we can then consider what will be the result of the comic and tragic position. The plan which the right hon. Gentleman laid before the House when he first became Secretary of State for Air was that a certain sum should be expended in maintaining the military establishments, and he impressed this point that the only way to really maintain a powerful Air Force was that it should rest upon a commercial industry in this country. General Sykes, Controller General of Civil Aviation, who speaks for the right hon. Gentleman, said not many months ago:The nation which is strongest in commercial air traffic will be the strongest also in the cardinal warfare of the future.Thus we see clearly that the object of the right hon. Gentleman was to maintain an adequate Air Force of a naval and military kind and, as General Sykes says, based upon a strong commercial aviation system in this country. All other countries concerned in this matter have taken the same view. What has happened? Would the House believe that when the right hon. Gentleman was describing how well flying was going on, that this commercial traffic which he himself says through his own subordinate is absolutely essential to our national safety has not only decreased in volume, but has from to-day absolutely disappeared. There is nothing left of it whatever. A year and a half ago there were many great concerns building aeroplanes, and above all with their designing staffs all busily trying to find out the best way to conquer the air for peaceful purposes. We were told by the Controller General of Civil Aviation that so many hundreds of thousands of miles were flown—it was nearly a million—and providentially also hardly a life was lost. Now no miles are flown; no aeroplane leaves these shores; and the right hon. Gentleman sits there with smug satisfaction, and asks the House to give him this grant of £18,000,000 when the whole 1674 basis on which the fabric was to be created has absolutely vanished away.
When I resigned from the office which I held because of the fact that to attempt to do two things at once would mean failure, I never thought my prophecies would be justified so soon. All sorts of absurd things were said when I resigned. It was said- I wanted to usurp the place of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Churchill), and that I differed from the Prime Minister. That is absolutely untrue. I never differed from them on any other subject but this. I do not think any man, unfortunately, was ever so swiftly justified by events, for it is now the fact that the basis upon which the whole fabric of flying in this country was to be built up has absolutely disappeared. The House of Commons is entitled to demand an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. It will not accept, and the country will not accept, these, airy statements. He seems to assume that nobody cares about it but the "Times" and papers under the same control. It is the greatest delusion as far as the Press is concerned, because papers as different as the "Manchester Guardian" and others are equally keen, and as I go about the country myself I find that every man sees the dangers we are running through the extraordinary course we are pursuing. It all arises from the fact that a Government office must be controlled by a whole-time man. When I said that was necessary before, you did not believe it, but now you see it is true.
The present proposal is one so astonishing that I do not think the House of Commons ever listened to it before. It comes to something like this: The right hon. Gentleman tells his servant in the morning, "James (or whatever his name is), I am thinking of moving. I am going to Downing Street." James replies, "Yes, Sir, will you take the Air Ministry with you?" "Yes," replies the right hon. Gentleman, "put the seals in my bag." The right hon. Gentleman walks about towing the Air Ministry about with him as a sort of appanage, and he takes it with him wherever he goes. I suppose he will take the seals of the Air Ministry with him when he goes to Egypt tomorrow. When I had concern in this matter, he used to give about an hour a week to it, and now he is at the Colonial Office I suppose he will not be able to give more than 40 minutes. The Leader 1675 of the House has said—and this is a serious matter, in which the House has been misled—"I do not agree with the theory that you must have one man one job." He told the House that it was possible to combine these things, and for the offices not to come to grief. But it is not so, and it cannot be so, because any Government office is in the position of a public company which has a meeting of shareholders every day, many of its shareholders being hostile. The Minister responsible cannot allow anything to be done without his knowledge, because he has to defend it here. The consequence is that in the Air Ministry decisions can never be obtained from the Secretary of State, and that is the reason why the whole basis and foundation of the right hon. Gentleman's policy has absolutely disappeared, and we are left in the extraordinary position that the nation, which has most to gain and most to fear from aerial progress, which two years ago was in the forefront in every development, is now lagging behind all others, and the vital matter of keeping the industry going by fresh brains has disappeared altogether.
I will not labour the necessity for having a strong Air industry in this country, because it has been said so often by the right hon. Gentleman himself and by the Leader of the House. It has been referred to by the Prime Minister. The policy was endorsed by this House when the Air Ministry was formed. I believe there are no two opinions about it. All that skill, knowledge and industrious and careful thought have practically disappeared. Yesterday for the last time an English aeroplane left these shores. Of course, this ought to have been foreseen. It could easily have been avoided. If the right hon. Gentleman says, "How can you expect us to keep this going in these hard times?" I answer that you are spending £200,000,000 on armed forces in this country. The foundation of the newest and the most important, which the right hon. Gentleman himself says may one day supplant the others, is civil aviation, and is it not madness to allow the whole foundation to disappear? I deeply regret to have spoken so strongly. Nobody has a greater regard for the right hon. Gentleman opposite than I have, and I say that quite openly. I believe him to have done most wonderful work for his country in the past, as I hope he will 1676 do in the future, but I am sure that, so long as he tries to do two things at once, he will lead us into trouble, and I will go further and say, if he does not change his mind, and devote his whole mind to one business, he will land the country into disaster.
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsto promote efficiency and economy, a closer co-operation between the Air Force and civilian air services and aircraft manufacturers is essential.While congratulating the Secretary of State for Air on his speech, I must confess that I approach the discussion with a certain amount of terror. The right hon. Gentleman told us at the beginning a good deal about those who wanted to start new projects and who ran stunts. As a back bencher I try to represent the general public outside, and I will say this at once, that there are comparatively few outside this House who have the opportunity, or, indeed, even the wish, to study the 68 pages of highly technical matter in the Air Estimates. The average citizen will notice that the Air Estimates are down. He will, perhaps, read in his newspaper the resumé supplied by the Air Minister, and, at a time when a good deal is spoken about stringent economy, he will say that at any rate in the Air Service there is one brand saved from the burning. But if he thinks about it further he will say to himself that economy must mean spending the sum at your disposal to the best possible advantage, and that is where I am up against the Air Minister. These Estimates, like the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, are severely military from the first to the last page. The salaries in them range from £3,375 for the Chief of the Air Service down to £200 odd, which is given to temporary employés in the Air Historical Branch. The total numbers on the Vote are 30,880, and all these are on the establishment. I want to ask the House what on earth can all these people be doing? How many of them actually fly? I would also ask this question: Do we want an Air Force in this country of 30,880 whole-timers? I may be perpetrating something in the nature of a bull when I ask this further question: Should not our aerial force be, in the main, a territorial force?
1677 I recollect in the last couple of years of the War, after I came back from France, I listened to a speech in this House delivered in a Debate on the Air Force by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil). He was then a member of the Air Force, and he compared the air pilot with the knight of chivalry in olden days. Let us remember that those knights of old were not whole-timers. They were not part of an established army. They were Territorials, and when they were not called up on their military oath, they were able to devote their time to their own private quarrels and their own private affairs. Surely we want something like that in our Air Service in this country. We want these firms or individuals who had established these air services, we want those who are capable of turning out aeroplanes in their hundreds to act the part of the great feudal barons of the old time, and to hold at the disposal of the country, if need be, numbers of civilian pilots who can be called up to act as pilots of fighting machines; and to hold for the State vast numbers of artisans who would be enlisted on something of a Territorial basis. The directors and managers of these aerial services should have at the disposal of the State a large number of machines ready for flying, and in return, of course, get something in the nature of a national subsidy. You may have, besides, a comparatively small established flying force, absolutely up-to-date, absolutely efficient, consisting of a sufficient number of squadrons which, at a moment's notice, can go anywhere and do anything. That is what we want, and it may be said by those who listened to the right hon. Gentleman that that, in a way, is what he is aiming at, because he did speak of a Territorial service, and there is an Air Force Reserve mentioned in the Estimates; but how small it is! The total expense of the Territorial Air Force in the Estimates is £20,000, and of the Air Force Reserve £115,000. Within five years the Air Force is to reach maturity. After that time all we have spent on our Territorial Air Force will be the beggarly sum of £20,000, and, as the right hon. Gentleman has informed us, this Force is only in its infancy, and will grow very slowly.
1678 About the Air Force Reserve he told us nothing at all. But he told us a good deal about the amount in the Estimates to be spent on civil aviation. He mentioned the sum of £1,000,000—I think it is £880,000. Out of that, a very big slice indeed is taken for what is called "Meteorological Services," which cover many pages of the Estimates, and such things as Headquarters' Staff. In fact, there is everything, apparently, included under Civil Aviation except flying. A couple of years ago it seemed as though we had the ball at our feet for those great far distant aerial flights to India and Australia, and that we had established on a firm basis a service between London and Paris. That was two years ago. To-day, the right hon. Gentleman reminded this House that our last aerial service has closed down, unless it is revived again under the hints which were thrown out by the right hon. Gentleman the Air Minister. But, at the moment, our last aerial service has closed down. What does that mean? It means that we lose the services of an enormous number of skilled pilots who are accustomed to fly in all weathers. We lose a great number of machines. We lose the chance of making improvements in a great number of machines, and we see it taken from us by other nations. France, with a heavily subsidised service, is going to take over a service from Paris to London and London to Paris, and I daresay hon. Members will have noticed that Franco only yesterday inaugurated a service from her shores to Casa Blanca, one of the chief ports in the Mediterranean. We do not know what Germany is doing, but we can imagine that the air services in Germany are not being neglected. In America, the American postal service maintains no less than 35 distinct air services. This state of affairs we can hardly allow to continue, and it is for that reason I have put down the Amendment which stands in my name.
I want closer co-operation between the Ministry of Air and our civilian air services, and our manufacturers of aeroplanes. I may be advocating a big change. I know it is a big change to have the present system torn up by the roots and turned into more of a territorial force, with a small established service capable of very quick and rapid extension, but for the main part my suggestion is that it should be based on what we call the territorial idea. That is a big change, and it 1679 is an ideal which it may be hard to reach. I am convinced, however, that if we were to put some scheme of that sort before the average patriotic ratepayer, and also allow the Air Minister to put his scheme forward at the same time, I am convinced that the taxpayer who wants to get the best value for his money would be inclined to take the scheme I suggest. I have not used in my Amendment the word "subsidy." I have used the word "co-operation" which is what we want. The taxpayer grants to the Air Ministry money, and the civilian air services and the manufacturers can and will give to the Air Ministry pilots, machines, and mechanics of the very best if a working agreement can be arrived at, and I trust it will be. Sir Charles Syke once said that the nation which had supremacy in civilian time would have supremacy in military time. It is foolish to let down our civil flying and to look only to our military flying, and it would be much better to devote a certain part of this £19,000,000 to subsidise in the best way we can some of these aerial services which will be of so much use in the future.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to second the Amendment. Before I deal with civil aviation, I should like to congratulate the Secretary for the Colonies on the speech he has made. I think, however, that his criticism upon leading articles was a little out of place, because I seldom heard a speech which read more like a leading article. It used to be said of articles written by George Augustus Sala that whenever he wrote an article he did not mention the subject more than once but other subjects at least quite a hundred times. Although the right hon. Gentleman said this was the third time he had brought in air Estimates, I am afraid that it is the eighth time that I have criticised air Estimates in this House. I do not know that there is so much to criticise now, and I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the speech he has made showing the work which has been done by the military side of the Air Ministry. There are one or two points not of destructive but constructive criticism which I should like to make. The right hon. Gentleman raised a question of airships. It seems extraordinary that the whole of our airships are to be scrapped altogether and that the hangars, buildings 1680 and apparatus are to be handed over as a free gift to any company that likes to take them over. I wonder if the naval authorities have been consulted upon this matter. I know that when the airships were taken from the Navy and given to the Air Force a definite pledge was given that the future of all the naval officers would be thoroughly looked after by the Air Service. I want to know what is going to be done with those officers now. If the airship service is going to be shut up there must be a large number of officers who were trained for that purpose, and who were not trained in any other branch of air work. I would like to know what is to be their future.
I want to know also what we are going to do in the event of another war. Of course, the whole of these Estimates must be debated on the basis that there may be another war. If, in the event of the possibility of another war what are we going to do for airships? We have had the Report of the Battle of Jutland and other naval battles, from which it is clear that the Germans derived the greatest benefit by the observations made from Zeppelin airships on account of the enormous height, and the great radius of vision which those airships afforded. The right hon. Gentleman said he was going to give up the airships, but he did not tell us the views of the Navy on this question. I must associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ilkeston (Major-General Seely), as to the necessity for a separate Air Ministry. I want the Government to realise that the proposal for a separate Air Ministry was definitely considered by the Government, and it was thought to be so essential that the Government took the risk of altering the whole system in the middle of a great war, and they constituted then a separate Air Ministry. Now the War is over, and my right hon. Friend is occupying the dual post of Secretary of State for the Colonies and Air Minister, and I cannot help feeling that the original view of the Government was correct. If the Air Service is to be one which may ultimately take over a great deal of the work now done by the Army and Navy, it is essential that there should be in the-Cabinet one man who can speak for the Air Service not fettered with any preconceived ideas of the Army or even the Colonial Office.
I do not think my right hon. Friend made out a case for still retaining himself 1681 in a dual capacity as Secretary of State for the Colonies and Minister of Air. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is going to Egypt to-morrow, but he did not say a word from the flying point of view, except that we were going to have a training school in Egypt. At the recent Air Conference in London, where all the great air authorities were present, Air Marshal Trenchard said:One cannot look at a map of the world without seeing that Egypt is the centre of it from an aviation point of view.That is admitted on all hands by anyone who has had anything to do with the Air Service. The right hon. Gentleman said that England is a bad place for the Air Service, but England is not the Empire. The Empire is a marvellous field for the Air Services, and the whole of them must impinge upon our position in Egypt. Whether you want to go to Palestine, Mesopotamia, India, South Africa, the whole of those great countries which owe allegiance to ourselves, the air routes meet at Cairo. The House knows, owing to the publication of the Report, that Lord Milner has made some kind of proposal for giving back complete Home Rule to Egypt, and I have heard no statement on behalf of the Government that the position of the air control, the aerodromes, and the air arrangements so vital to our air connection with our Colonies and Eastern Dominions has been thought of and considered, and certainly not preserved in anything that has been proposed.
My right hon. Friend is going out to Egypt like some new Columbus on a voyage of discovery, and, although we were told that he will have nothing to do with the future of Egypt, he is still responsible for dealing with Egypt from an air point of view, and I trust he will see for himself the vital importance of Egypt as an air centre. My right hon. Friend, I notice, agrees with that, and I hope he will come back with such information as will determine the arrangement and the position of the Air Service, and that its future in Egypt will be completely preserved. I do not propose to criticise in detail the military side of my right hon. Friend's speech, because we shall have another opportunity to-morrow of going into 1682 further details. I want, however, to refer to two points. First of all, the naval side of the Air Service, and, secondly, the point which has been raised by my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Newman), the civil side of the Air Service. There has been a controversy in "The Times" on the question of "Big ships, or?" We know that Admiral Percy Scott, and Admiral Scheer, of Germany, have both laid down that the big ship is likely to disappear, owing to the enormous improvement of submarines in the near future. I want to tell my right hon. Friend that the reason why I dived into that correspondence was because I found that the Cabinet Committee appointed to go into this question had not anybody upon it qualified to consider this question of the future of the big ship and the torpedo.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Chief of the Air Staff and the Controller-General of Aviation gave the Committee full advice in regard to that matter in a long discussion.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am pleased to have elicited that statement, because it has never been made public. Many of us who believe in the enormous possibility of an air attack have no idea that this position had been placed by Air Marshal Trenchard before that Committee. I want to tell the House how enormously the Air Service has developed. Hon. Members know how, at the beginning of the War, with only a few officers we were able to carry on until we had established our Air Service. The House knows what an enormous advance we have made, but I wonder if the House realises how much more effective our service would be if we had had an efficient torpedo-carrying aeroplane during the War. Nobody disputes the enormous power in naval warfare of the torpedo whether in attacking big ships or little ships. It is possible to have to-day torpedo-carrying aeroplanes flying at a height of over 10,000 feet, shutting off their engine so as to make no noise, and then gliding down at a speed of 140 miles per hour. They can carry a torpedo weighing 1,500 lbs., with 1,000 lbs. of T.N.T. All these details have been published in a technical paper so I am not giving any information away to possible enemies. I do not think that anybody yet realises the enormous possibilities of these aeroplanes. They would 1683 be absolutely invisible until within two or three minutes of the vessel to be attacked, whereas a destroyer is visible 10 or 12 minutes away. Then by means of an aeroplane letting out a smokescreen the unfortunate battleship can be surrounded, all the while knowing that there may be four or five or even ten of these hideous wasps about to attack it, travelling at a rate of 140 miles per hour, very difficult to hit even if they can be seen, and practically impossible to hit when they cannot be seen. After having discharged one of these great torpedoes, it can escape being hit by twisting and turning. No battleship could possibly cope with them under such circumstances.
That is as far as we have gone at the present, time, but I see no reason to doubt that within another ten years we shall have aeroplanes carrying torpedoes weighing 3,000 lbs. Engines are being made to-day capable of lifting a torpedo-carrying aeroplane of that size. There is indeed very little limit in the possibilities of attacks by torpedo-carrying aeroplanes on battleships of the line. I realise, of course, that our Navy will make efforts, as in the past, to counteract all that. But just note for a moment the difference between the money we spend to-day on 100 destroyers and that which would have to be spent on these aeroplanes. There were, I believe, about 100 destroyers at the Battle of Jutland. A destroyer costs £350,000. A torpedo-carrying machine costs from £5,000 to £7,000, and one could have almost as many torpedo-carrying aeroplanes as he liked. In lieu of the 100 destroyers we had at Jutland we might have had several thousand torpedo-carrying aeroplanes. What would have been the fate of the German Fleet when trying to get away from Jutland if instead of being followed and attacked by our destroyers they had been attacked by 6,000 or 7,000 torpedo-carrying aeroplanes? Assume, even for a moment, that one-half of the aeroplanes were shot down. I venture to say that the remaining aeroplanes, flying at the rate of 140 miles an hour would have made short work of the German Fleet.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Of course there would have to be ships to carry the aeroplanes, but we know there are magni- 1684 ficent vessels in His Majesty's Navy, with great level decks from which aeroplanes could get off and to which they could return, and it is quite possible that there will be ships in the future capable of carrying from 50 to 100 of these aeroplanes. Pictures have been published showing the enormous decks from which these aeroplanes will go off. But I might give an illustration showing how these torpedo-carrying aeroplanes could be used without any necessity for having carrying-ships. We had several raids on the East Coast by ships of the German Navy during the War. We know that many of these raiders got away practically unharmed after having bombarded women and children in our coast towns. It would be possible to give these ships a two and a half hours' start and then send a squadron or two of these swift flying torpedo-carrying aeroplanes which could overtake them in an hour and a half. The distance would be well within their radius, and having discharged their torpedoes, they could get safely back again. All this would be well within their limits of petrol supply.
I was proposing to speak further on the naval side of this subject, but the right hon Gentleman has said that that is under consideration. I rather missed from his speech any reference to what is being done in the Air Service with regard to research. I think I am right in saying that practically every pre-Armistice machine is now obsolete, or if it is not so to-day it certainly will be by the end of this year. That at any rate is the view of most of our experts, and it is distinctly the view of the American Air Service. There is a tremendous improvement going on. In America, engines are being made much more powerful, and I should like to tell the House of a machine which is being built in that country, and 10 of which the American Government has given orders for. We have heard nothing of the orders which are being given by our Government here. The machine to which I am referring is a new armoured three-seater triplane, carrying two 12-cylinder engines, eight machine guns, and one cannon, and the crew and engines are protected by armour. It is infinitely more powerful than any machine used on either side during the War. The American Government, I say, have ordered 10 of them in order to try them I should like to know what we are doing, 1685 and if our Department are making any experiments either in building now machines itself or giving orders to those unfortunate manufacturers of whom we have heard so much of late. During the War I prophesied that before very long flying would take place at 200 miles an hour. Since the Armistice Lecomtè recently flew in France at a rate of 190 miles per hour and recently an officer of the American Navy flew a distance of 135 miles at the rate of 178 miles an hour, and at several times during the voyage he touched 220 miles per hour. I mention this in order to show that vast as were the improvements made during the five years of war, aeroplane effort has not stopped, and machines still more powerful are being rapidly built at the present time.
I want to say a few words on the civil side of aviation. My right hon. Friend, in his speech, seemed rather doubtful as to the future of civil aviation in this country, but if he really is doubtful, why should he keep this great organisation going? Here we have, an Estimate for salaries of £178,000, £59,000 for stores and transport, £120,000 for technical equipment, £356,000 for building and lands, and £37,000 for petrol. Bearing in mind all these items, I cannot think civil aviation is in such danger as one might imagine. With regard to the petrol item, I confess I cannot understand the enormous expenditure on that account. I do not think the Department does very much flying. Still, the Estimate does show that much is being done on the civil side of aviation. We have a great Port at Croydon on which £2,150 is to be spent this year. Then there are stations at Kidbrooke, Lympne, and Pulham. There are also the Meteorological Offices and services, and if hon. Members will look at the Appendix they will see that there are about twenty different establishments which are kept up as meteorological stations in Great Britain. If my right hon. Friend is doubtful as to the future of civil aviation, why is he proposing to spend all this money on building hangars, buying petrol, and establishing meteorological stations, unless he intends to make civil aviation a possibility? My right hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston (Major-General Seely) suggested that it was practically dead. We have, however, got a big organisation, a Controller, and a headquarters' staff. There were four 1686 aviation companies operating across the English Channel in October last year; two are in liquidation. One of the others ceased operations last week, and another one ceased operations yesterday. It is quite true that things are in a bad state at the present time. You cannot expect a baby to run unless you give it some help.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am sure my right hon. Friend is really a believer in the possibilities of civil aviation, and I suggest that a little help from the Government is very desirable. Air routes must be made. You cannot fly from here to Cairo or from Cairo to Mesopotamia unless the route has, so to speak, been blazed out, aerodromes provided and supplies of petrol laid down. There are 20,000 miles of air route being projected this year. Someone is going to carry out the work. Yesterday we had under our control 100 miles of air route from London to Boulogne. France is giving a subsidy to different companies which enables them to carry passengers from Paris to London for five guineas and to take goods at from 1s. down to 7½d. per lb. Services are being started to Brussels, Antwerp, and to Scandinavian towns. There are routes being laid out to Strasburg, Nuremburg and Prague, and before the end of this year there will be a route to Belgrade, Bucharest and Constantinople. France-has also obtained a monopoly in Roumania and Hungary. There were possibilities there for our own manufacturers to have entered into arrangements with the Governments of those countries and to take-over the civil aviation of both of them. The House knows that they are a vital link on the route to Constantinople. That has fallen through as far as we are concerned. An hon. Member asked just now what Germany was doing in civil aviation. Two years ago an International Air Traffic Association was. formed at the Hague, and the chair was taken by General Sir Sefton Brancker, one of our foremost flying officers. Last month that Association met at Berlin, and the chair was taken by a German. The English companies are out of it altogether. Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Holland were willing to come in with Great Britain, to link up their civil aviation with ours, and to take their machines 1687 from our manufacturers. The whole of that is lost and gone, and before very long—probably this year—Herr Fokker, whose machines we used to know something about during the War, and who has since devoted his genius to the commercial side, will be running a line from Amsterdam to London, and, in all probability, on to Liverpool. The first thought that comes to one's mind is that we will not allow him to do it, but I am afraid we must. Situated, as we are, on an island, it is essential to us that we should retain the freedom of the air over foreign countries. It is no use our saying to any foreign country, "You may not run a service over England," because the natural reply would be, "Very well, you keep to your own island; you shall not run an English service across our country." It is vital to our future in the air that we should retain by agreement with foreign countries the right of running air services across them.
It is humiliating to find that there is more than a possibility—a very great probability—of a German air service running across England in this way, while we here in England have no commercial air service at all. Mr. Handley Page and Mr. Holt Thomas have, as we know, done their best to keep going. I am told that a few months ago a new commercial machine was evolved, the D.H. 18, but my right hon. Friend has not given an order for one. During the War we said over and over again that the essential of an Air Service is that you should keep your factories in existence. You cannot institute factories by the wave of a magician's wand. You cannot get back the designers and staff necessary for making aeroplanes or air engines. You must keep your factories going. Ours have almost disappeared. Mr. Holt Thomas's is practically gone. Shorts, who made naval machines, are now making omnibuses, and have practically stopped doing air work. Sopwiths were broken up some few months ago, and eight of their best men, including the chief designer and the assistant works manager, have been taken over by Japan. They have gone there, and are working for the Japanese Government, which, I may say, is spending far more money on aviation than we are.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Military, probably, but I believe both. I do not wish it to be assumed for a moment that I say that the civil side is the more important. I strongly agree with my right hon. Friend that, while civil aviation is of importance, military aviation is of vital importance. The House knows that I am, and have been for eight years, the strongest believer in it, and the War proved the correctness of many of the forecasts which some of us made in 1913 and 1914. I am as strongly convinced as ever that the future success of any country in war will be in the air. Whether the success will be Great Britain's will depend entirely upon how the leaders of thought in the Cabinet deal with this matter. I plead for civil aviation, not merely because I think it would be fatal to have no civil aviation lines while other countries have them, but because it will provide a reserve in personnel and on the factory side of aviation for our military aviation when we want to increase it. It cannot be increased on an emergency unless there are the factories and the reserves of men. If we had ample civilian air services, the pilots would provide an ample reserve for military aviation, and could be called upon in a time of sudden emergency to fill up the ranks of the military air service. If, however, you have no civilian air service to-day, if your men are going to Japan and your factories are shut up, how are you going to expand?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I know it is money, money. My right hon. Friend is a little too frightened of the "Times." It never struck me before that he was either unduly modest or unduly frightened, and I should have thought that he would be able to stand up for the service in which he believes, and ask, if necessary, for a somewhat larger allocation of money. I really do not think, however, that any more money is necessary. We are spending £1,000,000 on civil aviation, and £880,000 of that is being spent on organisation, staff, meteorology, and so forth. What is the good of it unless you have some air routes? I am bound to confess that I stand here quite frankly in a white sheet. I have been against subsidies. I have spoken against subsidies. I have felt that the idea of subsidies is foreign to the whole trend of British opinion. In the 1689 past we have managed without them, but I have been forced, such is the position of the Air Service, to change my views, and say quite frankly that I cannot see how, for the next year or two, we are to have a commercial air service without some subsidy. My right hon. Friend has told us that he is going to appoint a Committee. I hope that that Committee will get to work at once, and will be a strong Committee, in which the manufacturing and the travelling side of the Air Service will have confidence; and I hope that, even while he is in Egypt, he will project his great mind into that Committee, and tell them that it is essential to get on quickly. If he does not do that, he will find that the civil side has gone from bad to worse, and, if we once let it go altogether, it will be a bad day for military and naval aviation.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
I should like heartily to congratulate the Secretary of State for Air on his admirable statement, with which I almost entirely agree. He referred to the complexity of the functions of the Air Force, and I thought that, in detailing them, he made an admirable case for a separate Naval Air Force. I have always been in favour of such a separate Naval force, and I regret that it ceased to exist after having been so ably started. That, however, has come about, and I am not speaking now with any intention of, to use the right hon. Gentleman's phrase, sweeping down upon and breaking up this delicate organisation. I agree that we must do nothing to break it up at the present moment. Sir Hugh Trenchard, however, in his memorandum of last year, referred to the Naval wing as having almost a separate constitution. I foresee that the Naval wing will gradually become separate from the other, and will eventually drop off and go back to the Navy. In the meantime, until that position has developed, I am by no means for breaking up the force as it stands to-day. After all, there are only three squadrons at present attached to the Navy. That is a very small item, and probably would not be a severe loss to the Air Force as a whole, but until the control and development of the Naval Air Force is in the hands of the Admiralty there will be no true development in that force. I associate myself with what 1690 was said by the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) as to the lack of development and experiment in connection with the Naval Air Force. I believe that if it had been dealt with by the Admiralty its development would have been greater. I understood from the right hon. Gentleman that the Navy has given up the airship. I regret that very much, because I am a great believer in the airship for all sorts of purposes in connection with the Naval Air Force. For example, an airship that can cross the Atlantic in conjunction with a convoy would afford the most useful means of detecting submarines. An airship can hover over its object and practically do as it likes with it. I am not, however, going to find fault with the decision of the Admiralty, although I regret it. The hon. Baronet referred to the value of the aeroplane carrying a torpedo. I presume that he meant an automobile torpedo, or was it a bomb?
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
I agree. I was associated with a party who put forward that idea eight years ago at least. The hon. Baronet was, however, corrected by the hon. and gallant Member behind him (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). He referred to the possibility of some thousands of aeroplanes dealing with the German battleships in the battle of Jutland, instead of a few destroyers. Those craft have got to start from somewhere, and, if they are carried in ships, how many ships would it take to carry them, and are not all of those ships susceptible to attack, with the destruction of everything in them, just as much as any other vessels? Furthermore, it must be remembered that in the future we shall not be dealing with short distances, such as that from here to Jutland. We shall be in the Pacific, with distances of thousands instead of hundreds of miles. The circumstances, therefore, will be very different, and the hon. Baronet's idea of one carrier in the middle of the Atlantic achieving the most extraordinary results was very far-fetched. That one carrier would have been an easy victim of any light cruiser with a speed of 35 or 40 knots.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will forgive me 1691 for interrupting him, but I proposed a carrier in the Atlantic for the purpose of stopping contraband traffic to Germany, and at that time, of course, there was no German fleet in the Atlantic at all. My suggestion was that an aeroplane carrier with a sufficient number of aeroplanes would have been a far cheaper means of stopping boats carrying contraband of war.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
I did not quite grasp that from the letter which the hon. Baronet wrote. The point I wish to make is that the carrier is as susceptible as any other vessel to attack, with destruction of everything in it. I trust that sooner or later—not immediately, by any means—the Naval wing will drop off and become a Naval Service pure and simple under the direction of the Admiralty, who, I am sure, will develop it much more rapidly and effectively than it is being developed at the present moment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel BURGOYNE
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that this is a young service, and that we must not anticipate that everything connected with it will progress at the same speed as in the Army and in the Navy. Last year, in the course of his speech on the Air Estimates, he referred to the possibility of utilising aircraft where at present we have to use the forces of the Army and Navy, and it seems to me now that we should ask him to tell us what has been the result of his efforts in that direction. This is what he said on 25th February, 1920:I have directed the Chief of the Air Staff to submit an alternative scheme for the control of Mesopotamia, the Air Force being the principal force or agency of control, while the Military and Naval forces on the ground and river would be an ancillary power. Up to the present, the general staff have not been able to offer any solution of the problem of Mesopotamia except by the employment of a military garrison, the cost of which will crush the country. I propose to invite as it were competitive tenders from the Air Staff."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1920, col. 1354, Vol. 125.]That is one of the points on which I think this House has every right to have information from the right hon. Gentleman. The other point I desire to make is to suggest that he has not given us all the information he might as to the dual capacity in which at present he is working. First we have the right hon. Gentle- 1692 man as Secretary of State for War and Secretary of the Air Ministry. Now we have him as Colonial Secretary and Secretary of the Air Ministry. He is rapidly becoming what Rudyard Kipling would call a Ministerial "harumfrodite." I do not know how far this thing has got to go. I quite anticipate that in the next Academy we shall see a picture of him with a wideawake Colonial hat, smoking a corn-cob pipe and leaning against an aeroplane, entitled "Portrait of an officer by himself." We cannot anticipate that if he changes from his present post and goes to another he can still take the Air Service with him, but all we have had from him is the suggestion that if it is intended to take the control of the Air Service away from him he will not object. I do not think we can read it in any other way than that. Surely he knows perfectly well whether or not he is going to retain control of the Air Service in the future, and it is fair on this occasion that we should ask before he goes away, when he is leaving the Patronage Secretary to reply, that he should tell us precisely how he stands in that regard.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
I rise to join my right hon. Friend (Major-General Seely) in deploring some, but by no means all the effects of the right hon. Gentleman's administration. But I cannot altogether accept his diagnosis of the case. The right hon. Gentleman ascribed the present condition of the Air Service to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was undertaking two tasks at once, and possibly that was detrimental to the success of his work. But I cannot help feeling that an even more fundamental cause lies at the bottom of these troubles. I fear that even before that interesting volume, which I understand is to be entitled "My Part in the Last War," has seen the light of publication the right hon. Gentleman is completely obsessed with the preparation of his task in the next. I am sure that will be an equally magnificent task, but I entreat him, as far as civil aviation is concerned, to set aside these anticipations of the future for a very brief space and devote a little of his great energy to furthering the cause of civil aviation and research. I should like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to his previous remarks on the question of undertaking the dual functions of the 1693 War Office and the Air Service. In those days the right hon. Gentleman argued that it was entirely essential that the War Office and the Air Service should be under the control of the same chief. This matter was raised on the Estimates last year, and the right hon. Gentleman then explained that the public interest demanded the smooth working of the two Services and the building up of an independent Air Service working harmoniously with the Army and the Navy. He went on to say:It the control of the two services is kept under one Minister at the present time, and in the near future, that can, I believe, be done, and it is being done at the present time, and in my judgment it is the only way it can or will be done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th March, 1920, col. 1623, Vol. 126.]If the union of the War Office and the Air Ministry under the same chief is the only way of preserving the harmonious working of those two Departments, why are the War Office and the Air Ministry now separated and the Air Ministry and the Colonial Office linked up? The right hon. Gentleman described, in his customary vivid manner, the working of the Air Ministry. He took the analogy of the human body and compared its organs with the component parts of the Air Ministry. The only part I can see for the Colonial Office in that happy scheme of things is that which is occupied by the organ known as the appendix in the human body. It is inconceivable that there is any connection at all between the Colonial Office and the Air Ministry. I will not; stress the point, because I believe the right hon. Gentleman can fulfil a two-man job as well as most people can fulfil a one-man job when his great energy and extraordinary ability are employed in the right direction. But in this case, in my opinion, they are not altogether utilised in a direction beneficial to the Air Service.
The question I desire to dispute in these Estimates lies in the realm of civil aviation and research. No one has touched upon research. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman himself did not mention at all the most vital topic of all, the topic of aerial research. The outlook of the right hon. Gentleman in these matters is reflected very vividly by the headings of this year's Estimates. We find that over' and above the amount spent last 1694 year there is an increase of £336,320 in the amount devoted to civil aviation and research, while on the military and mechanical side there is an increase of £1,615,450. I only wish some of the increase in the military expenditure could have been devoted to the more vital side of civil aviation. That desire is enhanced when one studies the figures prevailing in France in this connection. France this year is allowing £3,400,000 to civil aviation at, the present exchange—on the normal exchange, of course, about £7,000,000. £600,000 is devoted to aerial transport. In this country the whole amount devoted to civil aviation is £880,000, while to aerial transport you are allocating the piteous sum of £60,000, with the result that now all the private companies in this country have been forced to close down.
But even more serious than that is the fact that, compared with our great expenditure on the immediate military-demands of the moment, we have allocated a very small sum indeed to experimental and research services. Under research we find only £1,835,000. That really is the crux of the whole situation. We have formed five new squadrons. We have now 32 squadrons in all to meet the immediate military situation. But to pay for those squadrons—the immediate outlay of the moment to meet troubles which we encounter through causes which are beyond our control all over the world—we are sacrificing the aerial development of the future and very possibly, looking at it from the right hon. Gentleman's own standpoint, the safety of our fighting services in the future. After all, aerial matters are in their infancy. Types change from day to day. Far more swift than changes in the construction of battleships are changes in the construction of aeroplanes. Types become obsolete far more quickly. In my own very brief connection with the Air Service, I should think at least six types became quite obsolete and new improvements and new designs rendered them quite useless. So in the light of these considerations, the ever-changing character of aerial discovery and aerial development, what is the use of expending our money on the immediate situation and starving research, which at any moment may throw out a new type which will not only render all existing 1695 aeroplanes entirely obsolete, but may revolutionise naval and military warfare? At any moment aerial experts, I believe, hold that we may, by diligent research, alight upon some discovery which will render the capital ship even more vulnerable to aerial attack than it is at present, and which may indeed occasion the waste of millions of money if we were so ill advised at this early stage of affairs as to embark upon a great programme of expenditure on capital ships. Surely it cannot be impressed too strongly that this side of research, in the case of a science which is in its infancy, is everything. Compared with that nothing matters to anything like the same degree. I deplore most strongly not only the right hon. Gentleman's utter failure to keep going civil aviation, on which in former days he informed us he intended to base the whole aerial power of the country, but the entire failure to allocate a proper sum or make proper provision for aerial research. Last year he appropriated practically the whole sum which was destined for research work and devoted it to the creation of these five new squadrons, for the maintenance of which we are paying this year. This year we find again a sum which I should imagine was totally inadequate to the claims of aerial research and all this because through a mistaken policy we are obliged to maintain military establishments totally beyond our means. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to turn his attention for a moment from the prospects of the next war to the immediate prospects of developing civil aviation and a research department by the aid of which in the future we might very possibly retain an aerial supremacy commensurate with that which we have maintained in the past.
§ Mr. BARTLEY DENNISS
I listened with the greatest possible interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which was a most brilliant, oratorical and literary effort, describing the perfection to which he has brought that delicate and elaborate machine, the fighting Air Force, during the last eighteen months. He begged, and that was the burden of his beautiful song, that nobody should come and thrust a poker into the delicate machinery and upset it just at the time when it promises to be the nucleus of what some day will 1696 become, perhaps, the supreme Air Force of the world. He began and finished on the same note, "Please do not scrap or injure the Air Force. It is mine. It is my own creation as it is to-day. I believe that it is as near perfection as the Treasury would permit me to bring it, and uninformed criticism, added to that which has already been made in the Press, might be very injurious to its future." Nobody who heard the speech would for a moment dream of doing anything that the right hon. Gentleman deprecates in that direction. Anybody who has the safety and the welfare of this country at heart must support an Air Force which we hope will be superior to that of any of the great countries of the world. I am sure that no well-wisher of this country would hesitate to vote any sum that was necessary for the purpose of achieving that most essential object.
When the right hon. Gentleman came to the civil side of aviation, he did not tell us what had been done during the last eighteen months for commercial flying. I believe that nothing has been done, and I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us in a few sentences what has been done. Certainly, nothing has been done to help the commercial companies, which last year started under very favourable auspices and actually made profits in the first months of flying between London and Paris. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is for the first time, in 1921–2, about to devote one-tenth of the amount that the French are devoting to their commercial air service in subsidies for flying companies. It has come too late. Those companies have all stopped business, and it is extremely doubtful whether, even if they wished, they could ever get to work again, because France is now flying a sufficient number of airplanes to take all the possible traffic between this country and Paris at a price with which the previous air companies could not compete, even with the £60,000 subsidy. How are they going to start again in face of this competition? I hope the right hon. Gentleman when he goes to Egypt will make some arrangement by which, if anything can be done for them, it will be done whilst he is away, and that this arrangement will be absolutely effectual, because that there, all that he can do for flying, I suppose, is to mention the fact to those delegates from the 1697 Dominions and the various parts of the Empire who will meet him in Egypt for other purposes. The right hon. Gentleman says he will make arrangements. I should like to know if he would toll the House what the arrangements are likely to be, and whether the committee which he proposes to set up will have power to act. If ever the companies are to commence successful flying this year between London and Paris, Easter is the time when they ought to begin, because then the holiday season is on and people will be wanting to go to Paris. That is the time when the right hon. Gentleman will be away in Egypt.
I have been speaking more particularly of the London and Paris route. What about the great routes which connect the various portions of the Empire. Out-side the defence of this country, that is the finest and best object that civil aviation could have. I know that the right hon. Gentleman thinks a great deal of a route from Egypt, and I agree with the hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) that that is the centre of the flying world, not only of this country, but of the whole world. There is a route which the right hon. Gentleman could well start from Egypt to Karachi in India. Will the right hon. Gentleman when he is in Egypt try to lay the foundation of that route, and see if it can be put into force immediately? If the only objection is that there is not sufficient money, will he have the courage to come to the House and say so, and in a Supplementary Estimate include what he should have included now as provision for such a route. I understand—I got it on very good authority—that such a route would shorten the voyage from Australia to this country by a month.
Well, ten days is something. The passengers would come from Australia to Ceylon, take the railway from Ceylon to Karachi, fly to Egypt, and then come by boat and train in the usual way. Surely in the favourable atmosphere of an eastern clime it would be quite simple to have a route from Karachi to Ceylon, and save another week or so in the route from, the underworld to this country. I hope the right hon. Gentleman in Egypt will try to lay the foundation for an air service between Egypt and Karachi as an experiment. The importance of the Air Force to this 1698 country is so great that I am astonished, and always have been, at the apathy with which it has been regarded in this-country. If it had not been for the "Times" newspaper, I do not think there would have been any mention of it. Lately that newspaper, in spite of the animadversions of various Cabinet Ministers, including the right hon. Gentleman, has really performed a great national service to the country. Before the War we had practically no aeroplanes. I went to the War Office in 1914, where I saw a very fierce major with an eyeglass. He was one of those gentlemen who were called dugouts, and he had something to do with the Transport Department. I spoke to him with regard to Bosch magnetos, which were very much required in those days. I told him it was very important to have them made and how they could be made. He said he did not want any more; he had quite enough. I said that the present Minister for Air had stated that he wanted to have 1,000 aeroplanes immediately to go and bomb Berlin. That was in 1914. I very much wish that the right hon. Gentleman had been Minister for Air then. In that event we should have done a great deal better than we did in the War. We certainly did marvels, chiefly owing to the magnificent way in which the youth of this country displayed qualities that were scarcely to be expected in the circumstances.
We were never supreme in the air. We were superior, but not supreme in the air. If we had had the right hon. Gentleman earlier in the War at the head of the Air Department, if there had been such a Department created, I believe we should, by the end of the War, have been supreme in the air. I believe that, because I am sure that my right hon. Friend who, in 1914, conceived the idea of sending 1,000 aeroplanes to Berlin, which idea the Cabinet did not realise until 1918, and they were prevented from carrying it out by the Armistice, would have had the right spirit for an Air Minister, and would have succeeded in making the Air Force very much more powerful than it was during the War. What is the present constitution of the Air Force? It is the very minimum that can possibly be provided, and simply on account of the present craze for economy. Economy is vital. Let us have economy by all means, but economy at the expense of national safety is a crime, or very near it. We 1699 have an irreducible minimum Air Force at the present time. It is totally inadequate for war.
The right hon. Gentleman agrees, and I am glad to hear him say so. At the present time the whole of this country, leaving out Ireland, which has three squadrons, has only three or four squadrons to defend it. The rest of the squadrons are scattered all over the world. It is, therefore, the very minimum force that it is possible for us to have. Now I come to the real point of my speech, and that is, What would happen if we were plunged into another war in the next few years? How would the right hon. Gentleman expand the Air Force? From what quarter would he draw his reserves? Can he answer that question? I shall be very much surprised if he can, unless he answers it in this way: that he would look to the creation of a large and successful mercantile air fleet in the same way that the Navy looked upon our immense mercantile marine, which comprised more than one-half of the total tonnage of the world, as the source from which to draw good men. Without them where should we get our reserve of pilots, our mechanics, our designers, our factories ready to produce the large amount of aeroplanes that would be required?
The right hon. Gentleman says in connection with the Air Force that there are no fewer than 54 industries to be studied and practised and employed, and the amount of scientific knowledge that has to be brought to bear he describes as being very great. Every argument that he put forward with regard to the fighting force applies equally to the commercial air force. Those 54 industries will be all required for the commercial air force, and in those industries you will have the means in time of war, which may be sooner than the right hon. Gentleman or the country expects, of expanding the Air Force, and in that you will have a large, reserve. At present we, have got an army which is more or less one of boys. The right hon. Gentleman was responsible for it until recently. He has done his very best, and I do not believe that anyone could have done better, but after all it is an army of boys insufficient in number. It has no reserve 1700 any more than the Air Force. As to the Navy we have not yet made up our minds whether capital ships are or are not required. We have not got capital ships. The others are getting obsolete. The United States are building 18 warships at a cost three or four times as great as each of our warships. They may be building on wrong or on right designs, but in the war in 1812 we were beaten by America with frigates, and America may become the great naval power in the future. The right hon. Gentleman may remember what appeared the other day in the "Times." [Laughter.] My hon. and gallant Friend may laugh at the "Times," but it is the finest—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I was laughing at the allusion to the right hon. Gentleman and the "Times."
The news service in the "Times" is the most reliable of any paper. It was stated in the "Times" that the "Chicago Tribune" the other day said that those battleships which America is building, the Navy which she is building—
I bow to your ruling, Sir. I quite agree that I was going a little wide of the subject, but it is in a sense germane. I apologise if I have gone too far, but I will certainly get back into the air again. I wish that we could have a commercial air fleet which would provide a proper reserve for the defence of the country. Let us have if necessary a Supplementary Estimate for the purpose which I have mentioned. I say this because the Air Force is the most economical force which we can have. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that it saves an enormous number of troops in the field, particularly in countries like Mesopotamia and India. So we might very well commend it to the country on the ground of economy. We want rapid communication between the different parts of the Empire, which might be of the greatest possible value in the future to the Empire and to this country. For that purpose it is unwise to find the right hon. Gentleman taking up a small Estimate of this kind for the commercial side of the Air Service. I hope that he will consider the whole matter, and take 1701 care that in future Estimates or in some Supplementary Estimate the importance of commercial air flying is not disregarded by him or by the Cabinet.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I listened to my right hon. Friend with the admiration which one always conceives for an address which, as I understood it, is a farewell ceremony, and it was couched in language which I thought entirely suitable to that, preparing the way for his successor, suggesting to the House that the work which had been done was work which was soundly founded, and if let alone, with no rude breath of criticism, would bear rich fruit very soon, and would have larger fruition in the seasons yet to come. But the speech filled me with deepest alarm, because it indicated quite definitely the hope, for at any rate sometime to come— the length of the life of this Government, be it short or long—he was still to preside over the destinies of the Air Service. I find some confirmation of that, because on page 27 the salary is set down at £2,500, and the Note says, "Also Secretary of State for the Colonies."
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I would be glad if my right hon. Friend was about to get £7,500 a year. He is worth whatever he gets. I concede that with the greatest possible pleasure. But the whole burden of his speech was, "Here is this Ministry in its early stages, and so important is this present stage that an unjust and too hostile criticism may destroy this tender growth which requires the greatest possible care from those who are in charge of it," My right hon. Friend (Major-General Seely) said that when he was at the War Office the right hon. Gentleman managed to give about an hour a week to this.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I did not contradict my right hon. and gallant Friend (Major-General Seely) on that point, but that does not at all represent the exertions which I made. I was very much surprised that my right hon. Friend made a statement of the kind. It is obviously one that 1702 could only be based on personal experience of his own.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Whatever it was I know that the duties of Secretary of State for War demand the whole energies of the Minister in charge, and whatever the abilities of my right hon. Friend—and they are great—even he is not able to do justice to both these Departments. He is Secretary of State for the Colonies, and, for sometime to come at least, he i3 to remain the Minister for Air. Clearly the Ministry for Air requires the whole energies of some Minister specially set apart to look after it. He will have a special salary, and the House is entitled to demand that that man when appointed shall give the whole of his time in that special effort. This House is particularly concerned in that, as the Under-Secretary for State is in the other House. What about the Secretary of State for the Colonies? There has not been a more important year for the Secretary of State for the Colonies than the year on which we have now entered. In the course of a few weeks we shall have here the representatives of the Dominions beyond the seas and they will be here for the best part of two months and will be discussing the most important questions affecting, not only the civil side, but the military side of the British Empire
When it last met the chairman of that committee was the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I remember what trouble he took, and the immense expenditure of time which he gave to it. This same attention must be given this year to that overmastering duty. My right hon. Friend will be the chairman not only in the immediate sessions, but he will have to look after the preparations for it which must be very important, requiring immediate and close attention. In addition he is going to take over from the Foreign Office a new department for the Near East. That requires organisation, thought, and the whole of the work which is necessary to create such a department. In addition to doing all these things, to-morrow the right hon. Gentleman proposes to go to Egypt and this House is to be left to go through all these Estimates, which are in hands today comprising six or seven Departments, complex, important, varied, requiring not the casual attention of some 1703 Minister who is brought in to answer questions and say he cannot go any further, because his right hon. Friend the Minister is not available, but requires somebody who understands the business thoroughly. I am very much mistaken if this House will not insist, when these Estimates come before it, after you have left the Chair, on the Minister being here, or these Estimates being postponed until he is here. I shall move to report progress the very instant we get into Committee on these Estimates unless the Minister responsible is here to answer for them. As far as I am concerned I will use every Parliamentary opportuntiy open to me, subject to the control of the Chair, to prevent these Estimates being dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary, though with no disrespect to him, as he well knows, but for the reason that he cannot know anything about them. I do not know of any greater affront dealt to this House since this Parliament began. Is there no warning in Friday last? This House is at last beginning to have some touch of self-respect about it, and quite time too. Here is an example of what they think of you, my fellow Members of the House of Commons. You have the Minister for this Department proposing to go to Egypt to-morrow, and to fling these Estimates into the hands, willing and able as they are, of my right hon. Friend one of the Patronage Secretaries of the Treasury. Is the House of Commons going to stand that? Is there no limit to its patience and docile apathy? The proceedings in the days of Charles, when the King treated Parliament with contempt, are fully equalled by the manner in which the present Executive propose to treat this House on these Estimates. I speak strongly on the matter because, as a House of Commons man, I feel strongly. These Estimates amount to nearly £20,000,000. They involve matters of high policy in respect of the relation of civil aviation to military aviation, a matter of really vital importance, but they are going to be disposed of by a quarter past eight, as far as anybody who can tell us anything about them is concerned. I will say no more about that, but if this House of Commons submits to it it will submit to one of the greatest affronts which have been placed upon it for the past 25 years.
§ Mr. E. HARMSWORTH
As far as the dual position of the right hon. Gentleman in the Colonial Office and the Air Office is concerned I think we have something to thank ourselves for. If he had not his interests in the Colonial Office to occupy him, we might find ourselves saddled with far greater Estimates than we have to-day. As regards the right hon. Gentleman not being present in Committee, I should like to add my protest to what we have just heard. Surely it is essential to the House of Commons to have the person responsible for the Estimates present, so that we can ask him questions and gather information concerning various items. I listened with some surprise to a speech by an hon. Member opposite who said we should have to prepare for another war which might come upon us in a few years. It must be obvious to the House that if we are to have another war in three or four years and we do not husband our financial resources, we shall not have the money for that war. If we had spent in 1914 as we are spending now I very much doubt whether we should have won the late War. The late War was won by the silver bullet—behind the scenes—as much as by the fighting forces in France, and it is essential for this country to husband its financial resources for any similar occasion. As regards these Estimates, the point I should like to criticise is the fact that they are bigger than last year's. I have listened to a great number of speeches this evening, and every Member has advocated more expenditure, in either one way or the other. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Oh, yes. I am myself in the happy position of having never advocated any expenditure whatever in any speech in the House, and I hope I never shall. We have quite enough as it is at present without private Members advocating expenditure. This year we are asked to vote on these Estimates a net total, excluding War liability, of £16,940,000. Last year it was £14,998,230. So we are asked to vote an increase of almost £2,000,000. I know it is a new service, and I am just as keen on the Air Force, and on its being made a great arm of defence, as other hon. Members, but at this time, when our finances are in the state they are, I strongly deprecate spending more on the Air Force this year than we spent last year—on the actual running of the Air Force.
1705 In the explanatory statement issued with these Estimates the right hon. Gentleman said the most stringent scrutiny had been applied to them. By whom was the scrutiny applied—by the Treasury or by the heads of his own Department? Looking through the Estimates, I do not think the scrutiny has been very successful. In my view, the whole point is that the Air Force is costing the country practically two-thirds of the total expenditure on the Army and Navy before the War. I quite appreciate the argument that the Air Force will take the place, or might take the place, of some portion of the other arms, the Army and the Navy, but I cannot see that the increased expenditure on the Air Force this year brings any decrease in the expenditure on the Army and Navy. If the right hon. Gentleman could say, "We will spend more on the Air Estimates this year, but I will show you that, by having a better arm in the air, we can economise on the Army and Navy," I could understand the argument; but it appears to me that we are to pay a larger bill for the air without either the Army or the Navy bills becoming any smaller. An argument has been used that defence by air is cheaper than by the Army or the Navy, but I have not seen any proofs advanced that that is the fact, and I doubt it in view of the heavy cost of running aeroplanes at present. I should like to put in my protest against this increase in expenditure, because I have not heard tonight any argument sufficient to warrant the spending of so startlingly large a fraction of pre-war defensive expenditure.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not want to stand between the right hon. Gentleman and the House for very long, but I have one or two comments to make, and I should like him to hear them, as he will be away to-morrow. First of all, it is no good the last hon. Gentleman complaining about this expenditure. As an hon. Gentleman opposite said, with our present policy it is probably too small. We have only about four squadrons in this country, and they are insufficient for the defence of it. If we were suddenly involved in a European war, the squadrons in Ireland would have to be recalled, and if our present policy of being a benefactor all over the world, and trying to expand our Empire in every direction, is to be carried out, I think we have not a sufficient Air Force, and that the present 1706 expenditure is all too little. If in the future you are going to rely on force and trickery instead of reason and negotiation which the Minister for Air jeers at so eloquently, you have got to pay the price, and you have got to pay pretty dearly to-day, on account of the tremendous advance in scientific invention and its application to war, especially to war in the air. I agree with the Minister for Air that we shall get alarums about aerial navies preparing in Germany or Russia or other countries which he has taken jolly good care will be at enmity with us in the next generation. We will get these alarums, and we shall have to prepare to meet them, and to spend very large sums, until the peoples of the world learn a little sanity and get rid of their false leaders. The right hon. Gentleman jeered at us who think we can order the affairs of the world by reason and negotiation; in other words, he jeered at the whole idea of the League of Nations, and not for the first time, by saying, "Think of the amount of good feeling left by the last great War." There is a great deal of ill feeling, and the right hon. Gentleman has taken very good care that there shall be plenty of ill feeling, for if there is one individual who has had more to do with rousing ill feeling, hatred, and distrust of this nation it is he, with his ridiculous speeches and his still more ridiculous newspaper articles.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. and gallant Member for Stoke says that I have aroused ill-feeling. I do not know. I could show him a few scores of letters from a good many different countries thanking me for standing up for the oppressed.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
General Botha said that South Africa was saved for the Empire by three words, "Methods of barbarism." I hope we shall have saved this country something by protesting on these benches against one or two of the enormities that the hon. Gentleman opposite supports. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Air when he replies to tell me why he is spending money? Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will. Of course, it is 1707 very easy for a Minister to raise a laugh against a new Member by rising and leaving the House, but I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will pass on my question: "Why are we spending money to-day on stations where training and co-operation between the Navy and the Air Force shall take place at Felixstowe and at Leuchars?" I presume the force at Felixstowe will co-operate with the naval base at Harwich, and Leuchars, I presume, is for training pilots to co-operate with the Navy from the Firth of Forth. In other words, the Ministry has still got a North Sea outlook. They still think, like the Admiralty, that the next war is to be fought in the North Sea. Nothing is more unlikely. As has been pointed out, the next war will be fought in the Pacific, and if not there in the Atlantic. To spend money on stations for co-operating with the Navy at Felixstowe and Leuchars is pure folly. It shows what I have suspected, namely, that there is no thinking department at the Air Ministry, and perhaps because it is a new Department, the most energetic officers have been overburdened with considerations of material, of training young cadets and mechanics, and of developing their arm in accordance with the lessons they have just learned. When the Air Ministry are spending money at Leuchars and the Admiralty are saving money by scrapping the new submarine base in the Firth of Forth, it shows that the machine is still grinding out a North Sea policy instead of a Pacific or Atlantic policy. I am still further fortified in that belief when I see that the right hon. Gentleman, in mentioning the different stations where these squadrons will be placed abroad, mentioned Malta, and Egypt and India, but did not mention the Straits Settlements. Above all, he said nothing, and I see nothing in the Estimates either, about the most important strategical point for us in the world, namely, Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. I referred to this subject last year, and on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman spoke about my solicitude for an isolated coaling station. The fact that he referred to it as a coaling station showed that his study of the strategy of any possible war in the Pacific had been the most meagre, or that he could not have applied himself to the problem at all, if he has any 1708 strategic sense, which I have more than once doubted.
I am sorry that an hon. and gallant Member talks of the naval wing dropping off the bird of the Air Ministry and being taken up by the Admiralty. I hope there is no such intention. If the Air Service gets once more under the deadening hand of the Admiralty, Heaven help them? The Admiralty will strangle development and to take this step would be to take the most retrograde, step possible. The present policy of having the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the head of the Air Service is transitory. Give the Admiralty the wing and expose it to jealousies, and you will kill it. It would be a terrible mistake. The future of flying for the next few years will depend, as regards sea warfare, on efficient carriers. Owing to the short range of action of seaplanes, you have to rely on the right type of carrier. The policy at the Air Ministry for developing the naval wing of the Ministry should allow for the taking over the carriers. Just as the Army has its own transport for troops, so the Air Ministry should have the control of its own transports for aeroplanes, and those are the seaplane and aeroplane carriers. They carry guns, certainly, and there are naval ratings. But there is no difficulty at present in accommodating Air Force pilots on battleships and cruisers, and there should be no more difficulty in taking seaplane carriers under the Air Ministry and carrying naval gunners for the fighting of the gun armaments of the ships. I put that forward as a constructive suggestion which may have far-reaching results.
The question of civil aviation has been dealt with very fully. I regret also that last year we managed to save £500,000, which was voted by this House for civil aviation, but owing to neglect of some sort was not applied to that purpose, with the fatal result that we see to-day in the closing down of so many aeroplane firms. The line taken by most critics of the neglect of civil aviation has been the necessity for having a reserve for our fighting forces. That is a legitimate line to take, but there is an even stronger reason for fostering civil aviation. Flying is going to bring about better relations between peoples by obliterating frontiers. It is the great reason why civil aviation should be developed to the utmost. In it lies the 1709 greatest hope for the future peace of the nations. The right hon. Gentleman jeers at the idea of settling the jealousies of the peoples of the earth by other means than war. I believe it can be done by-one people getting a better knowledge of another. We must check the atavistic tendencies of the Minister of Air and the parochial feeling, miscalled patriotism or super-patriotism, which has led to deadly wars. It is because of that that I hope the House will insist on more attention being paid to civil aviation.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope the House will now be prepared to allow us to get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair. We have had a Debate about which there is very little complaint to be made as far as the Government are concerned. It is quite true, as the hon. Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harmsworth) pointed out, that the tenor of nearly all the speeches has been a reproach of the Government for not spending more money on the air, either in its military or its civil branch. Some have wished for a different allocation between one branch and another. My hon. Friend (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks) wishes for a different allocation which would facilitate further the development of civil aviation, without in any way prejudicing the importance of military aviation. That, means, I presume, that he would be in favour of spending more money.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I referred to the fact that £880,000 has been spent on civil aviation, and a great deal of it on bricks and mortar. It was the better allocation of that sum for which I asked.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
With the one exception of my hon. Friend, it is quite true that the general trend of the comments during the Debate was criticism because we are not doing more. There were tremendous arguments which it would be wrong for us to ignore, pointing to the cruel pressure of taxation now, and the imperative need of denying ourselves oven the most attractive and desirable forms of public expenditure and of confining ourselves to those primary necessities on which the security of the country depends. So far as that part of the Debate is concerned, I have certainly no complaint to make. But I do think the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) 1710 was a very unfair speech in every way, in its spirit, in its expression, and in its grossly extravagant emphasis. My right hon. Friend, knowing what the facts of the situation are, says that the fact that the concluding stage of the Estimates should be taken to-morrow is an affront to the House. It may be a great many things; it may be fortunate or unfortunate, but it is certainly not an affront to the House, and it is an abuse of language to use such a term. What are the circumstances? I have been requested by the Government to take over responsibilities in the Middle East, and those responsibilities in the forthcoming year are not far short of £30,000,000 of money. I am endeavouring to make an inroad on that and to secure a great curtailment of it. I cannot possibly do that unless I can see the men on the spot and procure their acquiescence in the withdrawal of the large bodies of troops from Mesopotamia. It is for that purpose, and not for my satisfaction or pleasure, that I have to undertake an exceedingly inconvenient journey to meet the officers, military and civil, who are coming to meet me half-way. They have to return at an early stage to Mesopotamia in order to conduct those very operations of contraction and in order to secure the safe return of the forces we are withdrawing from Persia, and I have to get back to my duty. This has been fixed as a perfectly simple and straightforward measure to secure some abatement of the public burden and to bring these matters more under control. I have not fixed the rendezvous.
I was not aware when I undertook to go to Mesopotamia that I should be responsible for the Air Ministry at the time when these Estimates had to go before the House of Commons. I have been asked to do so, and I certainly expected, judging by the experience of two years, that practically every controversial question would be disposed of in the first day's discussion. That is what has always happened, and it is exactly what would happen now if my right hon. Friend did not think that here was an opportunity of taking advantage of a difficulty, and so making a great parade of the Parliamentary virtue and a great exhibition of the worked-up, mock indignation which we daily see. Owing to Parliamentary exigencies, a Debate on the Adjournment 1711 is coming on in the course of a few minutes, and consequently this Parliamentary day, which according to all experience would have disposed of all the controversial questions on the Estimates, certainly on the Committee stage, is cut in half by this unexpected Motion. I am not disputing the right of the House to claim the presence of the Minister when the Estimates are discussed; certainly not, and it is only with the permission of the House that the Minister could absent himself. But to say that this sort of thing constitutes an affront and a want of respect to the House, and that I am depriving it of its constitutional rights is an unfair attack to make, a very unfair and unfounded attack, and I leave it to the judgment of the House whether it is not in fact taking an undue advantage of fortuitous circumstances. That is all I have to say about that, and I regret very much that my right hon. Friend was led to try and take such an unfair advantage, with all that pompous language about Parliamentary procedure, language almost worthy of the Parliaments which preceded the great Civil War.
I have no complaint to make of the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend the late Under-Secretary for Air. I do, however, make one exception. I think it is not a proper statement for him to make when he says that in those days I gave only one hour per week to the Air Ministry. It is absolutely untrue. My light hon. Friend has no knowledge whatever of how and where and when I acquainted myself with my task. But if he says I was less than an hour a week inside the Air Ministry, that is true, and the reason also is quite true, and I shall tell the House what was the reason. My right hon. Friend objected violently to my even setting foot inside the Air Ministry. Although I could not help, by virtue of my office, being the President of the Air Council, my right hon. Friend objected and protested personally and formally to me whenever I appeared at the Air Ministry, and it was my right hon. Friend's conduct which made it very difficult for me, a long and intimate personal friend of his, continually to present myself there when I knew it caused him pain, and when I knew that in him I had a highly competent and skilled subordinate, a man of very great experience in public affairs, 1712 who had held the highest offices of the State with unquestionable distinction; and when, to meet his wishes and not to hurt his feelings, I did not obtrude on what he considered his own peculiar domain, I think it is an unfair point for him to come down here and say, "You never came more than a hour a week into the office."
§ Major-General SEELY
My right hon. Friend's presence never gave me pain, and I never said—and he will see if he looks at the OFFICIAL REPOET—that he only gave an hour a week to the Air Ministry. It would be most unfair to make that criticism. I said he could only give an hour a week to air affairs, and, indeed, how could a Secretary of State for War, with all the strain of that Department upon him, give more than that time? I do not suppose he did, although he gave more than any other man could have done. If he thought I made an unfair imputation, of course, at once I say I did not mean it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have said my say, and my right hon. Friend has said his, and if he has no ill-feeling about me, I can assure him I have no ill-feeling about him. But I would seriously and most respectfully ask the House for their permission in this matter. I have laid the Estimates before them, and explained them, with very little opposition or criticism. I would in these circumstances crave of the House their permission to discharge this other public duty, which I am very anxious to execute, and for which arrangements have long been made. I suppose it would have been possible for me to have had a warship sent, but I thought it better in these hard times, as far as possible, to use the ordinary conveniences, and it was that, and that alone, which placed me in this position of embarrassment. Therefore, I would submit to the House that there is not the slightest disrespect or want of consideration in my request that they should allow my right hon. Friend (Captain Guest), who has been giving a good deal of attention to preparing himself for the discussion, to take the Estimates through the remaining stages. As I have said, in ordinary circumstances, one day has sufficed, and the other stages have been practically formal on the Air Estimates, and I think I might in all these circumstances ask the indulgence of the House in that matter.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1714
§ Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ The House Divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 50.1715
|Division No. 12.||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gretton, Colonel John||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hallwood, Augustine||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hanson, sir Charles Augustin||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Perring, William George|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n,W.)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Pratt, John William|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barntaple)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Reid, D. D.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Brown, Captain D. C,||Hunter-Weston, Lieut. Gen. Sir A. G.||Renwick, George|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel A. H.||Hurd, Percy A.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||[...]llingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Rodger, A. K.|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Johnstone, Joseph||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Clough, Robert||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cope, Major Wm.||Kidd, James||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Davidson, J. C. C.(Hemel Hempstead)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Lloyd, George Butler||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lioyd-Greame, Sir P.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Elveden, Viscount||Lorden, John William||Taylor, J.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Lort-Williams, J.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lynn, R. J.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Fildes, Henry||M'Guffin, Samuel||Waddington, R.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Magnus, Sir Philip||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Forrest, Walter||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Middlebrook, Sir William||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mitchell, William Lane||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Moles, Thomas||Willoughby, Lieut-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Molson, Major John Eladale||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wise, Frederick|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Gregory, Holman||Nail, Major Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Neal, Arthur||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Finney, Samuel||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Glanville, Harold James||Mosley, Oswald|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Briant, Frank||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Myers, Thomas|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Cape, Thomas||Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Royce, William Stapleton.|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Irving, Dan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Spencer, George A.|
|Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbrdge)|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Waterson, A. E.||Wintringham, T.||Mr. Hogge and Mr. George Thorne.|
|Wignall, James||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]