HC Deb 21 March 1922 vol 152 cc423-4

Resolution reported, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £100,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1922, for the Cost of certain Miscellaneous War Services.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

This is a Vote of £100,000 for the relief of the Russian famine, and in spite of the late hour I cannot allow this Vote to pass sub silentio. The Committee stage was taken on Friday. I am sorry that on this occasion the Minister of Education is not present. We had a very painful Debate, and a Debate that I would like to forget. However, we cannot forget what is going on out there, and, although I do not propose at this hour of the night to develop the arguments that have been stated very fully and frequently, I do wish to take this opportunity of expressing such dissatisfaction and indignation as I can at the very unpresentable policy that we are following with regard to famine relief in Russia, especially in comparison with the United States of America. One of the most humiliating things I have heard of is the refusal of the Government to ask this House for a Vote of Credit in order to remedy the state of life in the areas for which we assumed the responsibility, and that we should appeal to a charity organisation in the United States for the money.

I suppose in no case could there have been shown more clearly the helplessness of the Prime Minister in doing nothing right. At this Dispatch Box last November he described, as only he can, the most terrible sufferings of the people in that part of the world and said it was our bounden duty to humanity to come to the rescue of the people who were suffering through no fault of their own. It is notorious that the Prime Minister has wished that we should do more in this direction and feels the humiliation in which we are placed in asking the American charitable private organisations to undertake the work, because, as a result of the over-representation of the Conservative interest in this House, and now in the Cabinet, he is impotent. We have heard a great deal of the Prime Minister's intended or rumoured resignation. If he resigned on this issue it would be something to be proud of. He ought to have resigned on many other matters. [Laughter.] I am afraid the time is getting rather too late, and I do not want my hon. Friends to laugh at the suggestion.


They may laugh at you.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

You may laugh at me if you like. I do not mean that the Prime Minister will not have to resign even if a question of this sort were eliminated. We are also told to-day that on 20th April the Genoa Conference will meet. What is the use of talking about the economic restoration of Europe if we allow 10 millions of potential workers and producers of food and wealth to perish? What is the good of sending our experts to discuss ways and means of restoring the markets and commerce of the world and setting the wheels of industry going and having food and wealth produced when we could help to prevent this destruction I We have passed a Vote of some 10 or 9½ millions for the Air Services, but unproductive expenditure will not improve the wealth of the world. When it comes to doing something that will help our unemployed by keeping our potential customers and doing something to help the helpless who are sick and weak, we send them our unwanted stores and the surplus of our Army disposal dumps. That is all we can send out. Late as the hour is I wish to make a protest in the strongest manner I can think of against the action of the Government which is cowardly and contemptible. They can ask a vote of confidence for the Genoa Conference if they like, but I will resist them in that by every means that I can, as will also every man who has some respect for the honour of this country.

Question put, and agreed to.