§ Commander BELLAIRS
Before the discussion starts, may we have some indication as to the field over which the Debate may roam? I understand that this token Vote will come before the House very shortly, and that not one penny of expenditure or liability will be incurred meantime. Therefore, I am somewhat at a loss to know on what grounds the Adjournment has been granted.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member will be confined to the terms on which he claimed leave to move the Adjournment.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think there will be agreement in all quarters of the House that rarely have Members been taken more by surprise than they were by the reply given this afternoon to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty to a private notice question for which he had 2115 made arrangements. The answer he then gave—I regret that I can give it only from memory—was that, with a view to making some provision for unemployment, the Government had decided to take the necessary steps for laying down five new cruisers immediately, and in the course of further cross-examination the hon. Gentleman indicated that the Government intended to take these steps, committing the Government and the country to further expenditure, without securing in the first place the assent of this House.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Ammon)
Perhaps I can clear up this matter right away. In the first place, it was not stated that we would proceed immediately, and it was definitely stated, in the reply that I gave to the question, that tenders will be invited at once from contractors so that it will be possible to proceed with the work as soon as the necessary Parliamentary sanction has been given.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
That was not the impression left on the House. I can quite conceive how misunderstandings may arise, because there was a considerable cross-fire of questions at the time, and I am merely giving the impression which was conveyed to my mind. It was as a result of that impression that I thought it necessary that the opportunity should be taken of obtaining the views of the House by the formal method of moving the Adjournment. As the Adjournment has been granted, a very useful purpose will be achieved by ascertaining exactly what the Government intend to do, and what exactly it is that they are committed to, because, apparently, there is some doubt now as to whether the commitment is as great and as definite as was indicated by the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary. This, of course, is not the first time that the suggestion of building cruisers for the purpose of relieving unemployment has been made. It was first mooted in a famous, if ill-fated, speech at Plymouth by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he said that for the purpose of relieving unemployment in the shipbuilding industry the Government of that day had decided to lay down several cruisers. He then explained that the laying down of these cruisers was overdue, and he indicated, 2116 in a way which, seems rather inconsistent with that statement, that this was merely an anticipatory measure, and that this was work which would be taken in hand in two or three years' time. If the right hon. Gentleman opposite had been returned to power everybody would have expected that programme to have been carried out. But the situation was very different when a Labour Government took office, in view of the commitments of that Government, and it was in view of the commitments of that Government—
§ Mr. HAYDAY
On a point of Order. The matter upon which the Adjournment was obtained does not hold good now, in view of the statement which has been made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. I understand that the Adjournment was obtained on the ground that there was a suggestion of expenditure without first consulting the House.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
May I ask whether the Motion for the Adjournment was ever handed to Mr. Speaker in writing? I understand that that has to be done.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Sometimes, if it is a complicated Motion, I have it in writing, so as to be quite sure. But this was plain and simple, and, therefore, I accepted it. On the point raised by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), the Adjournment has been given, and it is not in my power to withdraw it at present. But there appears to have been some misunderstanding in the House at the time as to whether the words "necessary Parliamentary sanction" were understood by the House. We must proceed with the Debate now.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I humbly submit that the point upon which the Adjournment was secured was a very definite one and on the ground of urgent. public importance. Now that the question has been cleared up by the Parliamentary Secretary's statement surely that ground no longer holds?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I can make this quite clear. Those words certainly did not reach my ear, or they might have affected my view about the Motion when it was tendered. That does not make any difference now, the Adjournment having been given, but the misunderstanding is a reason for a shorter Debate.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
The reason why you did not catch the words read out was the row in the House at the time.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
May I submit very respectfully that the Parliamentary Secretary read out that tenders were at once to be invited. There is no question, therefore, of Parliamentary approval, because, if my memory serves me aright after a considerable acquaintance with the methods of the Admiralty, tenders are never invited by the Admiralty until Parliamentary sanction has been obtained.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
May I say that the terms of my Motion contain no reference to the question whether there was to be Parliamentary sanction or not. The Motion was in the perfectly general term, to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the decision of the Government to lay down five new cruisers. It is on that topic I intend to speak, and when I was interrupted by the solicitous gentlemen who have raised these points of Order, I was pointing out the position of His Majesty's Government in this matter, particularly in reference to their former declarations. These I am not going to quote at length, but I will point out that, at the General Election, they specifically stated in their manifesto that their policy was one of disarmament and reduction of naval and military expenditure. Further, I draw attention to the fact that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 12th March, 1923, placed a Motion on the Paper on going into Committee of Supply on the Navy Estimates, and it was in these terms:That this House regrets that the sum proposed to be spent on the Naval Services during the coming financial year is not consistent with the pledges of retrenchment given by His Majesty's Government"—that is the Government of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite—and makes no approach to a redemption of the war-time promises of a great reduction in expenditure on armaments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1923; col. 1107, Vol. 161.]Again, on 23rd July, the right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister, then 2118 Leader of the Opposition, secured a day expressly for the purpose of condemning the growing expenditure on the Naval and Air Services and for military purposes. In these circumstances, we are entitled to ask from His Majesty's Government what has happened? What change has taken place to bring about this new declaration of policy? There was certainly not the slightest indication during the Election or since, that they adopted the views of the late Government as to the necessity for laying down light cruisers, either for the purpose of naval defence or with the object of relieving unemployment. Now that the decision has been taken, I propose, very briefly, to put the case as it appears to me on both grounds —in relation to the needs of Imperial defence and in relation to the relief of unemployment. The question arises in the first place, whether, having regard to the naval needs of the Empire, there is any case for these new commitments? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sparkbrook Division of Birmingham (Mr. Amery) when he last presented the Navy Estimates, with his usual lucidity stated the position. He said there was no immediate prospect of war. I think on a former occasion he said the Admiralty were working on the basis that there could be no great war for 10 years; that the policy of the Admiralty was to work on a one-Power standard and that for that purpose, the United States was selected as the strongest naval power but with no suggestion whatever of any rivalry with or any hostility towards the United States. If we examine the position as then stated by the right hon. Gentleman we had a largo superiority in light cruisers over the United States, though the right hon. Gentleman's statement then, may not represent the facts to-day. He said:Of cruisers and light cruisers we have 45 completed, or 50 if we include the Dominion Navies, as against 20 on the part of the United States; and four building as against nine."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1923; col. 1088, Vol. 161.]
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Last year. The quotation is taken from the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman on 12th March, 1923, in presenting the Estimates, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman himself quarrels with my quotation. I 2119 am not. suggesting that it represents the position now or that the figures the right hon. Gentleman then mentioned give a true account of the number of effective modern cruisers which are at the disposal of the Admiralty, but I am told by a friend who has examined the Navy List that we have at the present moment 37, and I do not understand that the figures for the United States have changed. If we look to Japan, I am told Japan has 22, so if we consider either of the two great naval Powers, we find that this country has a large superiority which is not likely to be overtaken for some time to come. What has happened in the interval? Has there been any change? Remember it was on this basis that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer challenged the expenditure of the late Ministry 12 months ago. He then made a very admirable speech. I believe he adheres to the sentiments of that speech, but it is interesting to discover that in the opening sentences of that speech he called to mind the fact that the late Lord Randolph Churchill resigned rather than give his assent to swollen military and naval Estimates.
The change that has taken place in the interval has been such as to make it less rather than more necessary to embark on further naval expenditure. Japan, as a result of the disastrous earthquake, has been put into a position in which she is likely to be a less effective competitor. Further, in the Japanese Estimates which have just been presented to the Japanese Parliament, and of which an account appeared in the "Times" a fortnight ago, we find there is a reduction of expenditure on the part of Japan of £4,500,000. If there is any other consideration which should be taken into account I think it is that only during the last few days this country has shown its friendship for Japan by lending her a large sum of money. Under these condition's, if we consider the effectiveness of Japanese competition and the risks that are likely to arise in that quarter, or the atmosphere of the relations between the two countries, we have every ground for reducing rather than increasing our naval expenditure. These are the facts as they have been disclosed to the House up to the present time. We have then the problem of unemployment. It was on 2120 that ground this proposal was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister and, apparently, from the answer of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty this afternoon, it is on that ground the new expenditure is to be undertaken by His Majesty's present Government. What are the facts regarding unemployment? Unemployment was worse a year ago, a great deal worse.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Take the figures for shipbuilding. It will be found that there has been an improvement in employment in the shipbuilding trade, and there are indications also of a slight revival in mercantile shipbuilding. Many orders have been given during recent months.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The hon. Member is not familiar with what is going on in his own constituency. I was in Newcastle on Saturday last, and I spoke with several people who are closely associated with shipping and with shipbuilding, who told me that at Blyth, and Wallsend, and Shields, and Sunderland, new orders have been given by shipowners, even although they anticipated very little profit accruing from building under present conditions: and shipowners are following that practice in other parts of the country. If you look at the guarantees that have been given under the Trade Facilities Act, you will find the same thing going on, so that there is actually an improvement in employment in the shipbuilding industry.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I have given facts as to orders being given, but I did not expect that on such an elementary matter as that. I should be challenged. The orders have, in fact, been given, and I think any hon. Member associated either with merchant shipping or with merchant shipbuilding will bear out what I say. I am making this point, that there was a stronger case for laying down cruisers, on the ground of unemployment, a year ago than there is to-day.
§ Viscount CURZON
Can the hon. Member give the figures of a single fresh order that has been placed?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am giving to the House what I ascertained by personal investigation only a few days ago, and what is common knowledge, I say also, among people who are associated with merchant shipping and merchant shipbuilding. The next question is, What is going to be the effect of building the five light cruisers? It may have a, slight immediate effect on employment at the favoured ports, whose representatives were so much in evidence at question time to-day, but what will be its general effect upon shipbuilding? The owners who to-day are giving orders for ships are doing it with little prospect of profit. [Laughter.] Hon. Members above the Gangway may regard that as altruistic on the part of anybody connected with the capitalist system, but it has happened, and if the Government, at such a time, is going to enter upon a policy of construction—and we do not know whether the five is the limit or not—you are going to make it more difficult for the owners who are now contemplating orders. On the present basis of prices, there is a very slender encouragement to anybody to lay down ships, but if the Government is going to take this action, it will discourage any further development of mercantile shipbuilding, which would be far more profitable than employing men on unproductive work of this kind. These considerations may not commend themselves to hon. Members opposite, but they at least, I think, should awaken some favourable response, both from hon. Members on the back benches above the Gangway, and from hon. and right hon. Members on the Treasury Bench. I have not sought to delay the House by making any unnecessary quotations from their speeches. There is only one which I would inflict upon the House, as I think it fairly represents their general attitude. It is as follows:I am uncompromising on this matter.2122 That is, expenditure of a naval and military character—I came into political life on this question of disarmament and peace, and I feel very deeply on this matter, because I see the same thing beginning again to-day. The curtain was rung down on one great tragedy, and it is being rung up upon another.That was said by the hon. Member for Brightside (Mr. Ponsonby), the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I quote that, not as against the hon. Gentleman, but because it fairly represented the attitude of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench. I have quoted their two Resolutions. Nearly every hon. and right hon. Gentleman on that Front Bench voted for these Resolutions, as I voted for them myself, and as many of my hon. Friends voted likewise. I submit that, apart from their declarations, we have established this, at least, that the Government up to the present have disclosed no case for undertaking these new commitments, that there is no case so far published that such construction is necessary in the interests of naval defence, and that, if you take the ground of unemployment, while certain immediate advantages will be conferred in favoured areas, the general effect on mercantile shipbuilding and mercantile shipping cannot be other than injurious. It is on these grounds that I beg to move.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I would ask the Government to reconsider this whole question. I have been examining the figures of our naval strength in light cruisers and other craft, and I think the case against building light cruisers to-day is overwhelming. I am going to trouble the House with a very few figures. These quotations are from a recognised work of reference, "Brassey's Annual" for 1920–21. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I will deal with the most recent figures, in this month's Navy List, as well. "Brassey's Annual" of four years ago, dealing with the question of the most modern fighting craft, gave the following figures for light cruisers built and building: Great Britain, 69; United States of America, 13; France, 11; and Japan, 13. Looking myself in the various works of reference of a later date, including the Navy List, I find these figures—and I am quite prepared to be corrected by the Civil Lord of the Admiralty or the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty with their official 'figures— 2123 but this is what I make it, and I do not think I am very far out:
In light cruisers we have to-day—not counting ships like the Encounter and obsolete ships kept on for special services, and not counting the Chatham and Weymouth class, although they are very fine sea-going cruisers, and very useful for cruiser work on trade routes—I make it 37 light cruisers of the most modern excellent type. There are, in addition to them, 11 Chathams and Weymouths, which I did not count in that figure, but which are nevertheless of very great value in trade protection. And we cannot leave out the fact that we are very strong in flotilla leaders, which do for fleet work, and are as good as cruisers for certain kinds of work. We have 16 flotilla leaders. We have five aircraft carriers, and there is a growing school of opinion in the Navy that would rather have this money spent on air scouting vessels of various types, including aircraft carriers, and we cannot leave those five aircraft-carriers out of our calculation. We have already building four light cruisers, including two of the Hawkins class, magnificent vessels, as fine as anything building in any foreign country.
What are the latest figures I can find of our possible enemies? It is very undesirable to talk of countries with whom you are on terms of the greatest friendship in this way, but, unfortunately, it is the fashion. I suppose it will be used to justify this building programme, and it is necessary, therefore, to deal with this matter. Japan, I take it, has 20 modern light cruisers—some people say 22—and most of them are armed with 5.5-inch guns, in comparison with 6-inch and 7.5-inch guns which most of our vessels carry. France has, really speaking, only four modern light cruisers. They are of the ex-German Town Class—the Metz, Strasburg, Thionville, and Mulhouse—and France has two or three cruisers building with 6.1-inch guns. The United States of America is notoriously weak in light cruisers, and, according to my figures—perhaps the Admiralty Intelligence Staff have better information—the United States has only 10 cruisers which can be described as modern, armed with 6.inch guns. On these figures, 2124 I declare most emphatically that these five cruisers are not necessary at all. I am borne out by no less a person than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sparkbrook Division of Birmingham (Mr. Amery), who was First Lord of the Admiralty when he spoke on the Debate that led to the defeat of the last Government. Speaking then, he used these words—he admitted, in fact, that the programme was being anticipated—We considered whether it would not be possible to anticipate to some extent our normal, and, in any case, necessary programme of naval replacement.I think that shows that even the Admiralty War Staff admits these new vessels are being speeded-up simply for the purpose of relieving unemployment, and are not required this year, or next year, or the year afterwards on the comparative tables of strength.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
or this, I rather think, will be the more correct way of putting it—to restore the normal programme which, under the pressure of the calls for economy, we have been prepared to some extent to postpone."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st January, 1924; col. 607, Vol. 169.]I do not want to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman in any way, but he did use the words "to some extent anticipating the programme." He went on to speak of an average building programme of five cruisers a year. If we like so to read it, the Washington Conference left the door open to a fresh race of naval armaments in regard to light cruisers. It was laid down there that the limit of light cruisers should be 10,000 tons, and the heaviest gun 8 inch, but surely that did not mean all cruisers of less than 10,000 tons and armed with lesser guns were obsolete, because, if so, it meant that we must wipe out many vessels of our possible rivals. It is fashionable, unfortunately, nowadays, to compare our strength with France. She is the strongest air Power, and we have to build aeroplanes against her. I suppose Japan is the strongest Power in light cruisers, and we have to build light cruisers against Japan. But France, today, is engaged in a large building programme of ocean-going submarine cruisers, and I agree that such craft are a possible 2125 menace to the trade routes of this country. But against submarine cruisers, cruisers armed with 8-inch guns are useless, and you must have aircraft or anti-submarine vessels. Certainly these light cruisers do not meet the menace—which, I agree, is a menace, unless something is done—of the French submarine cruiser programme. I noticed last night the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the Debate on the pensions for poor widowed mothers, said:I am beset, on the other hand, by clamant demands of all kinds for an increased expenditure. We, as a Government, are committed—and we are glad to be committed—to an increase of expenditure upon certain schemes of social reform and amelioration."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1924; col. 1891, Vol. 169.]If the right hon. Gentleman has got money to spare for armaments for preparation for war, we shall be told by France that this is a case of perfidious Albion talking about unemployment with tears in her eyes, and building cruisers against them, and it will be used as an argument for armaments on their side. If we have money to spare, I ask the Cabinet to consider whether it ought not to be spent in a different form of defensive and offensive weapons. If we have this money to spend on armaments, why are we not building aeroplanes? If it is a question of finding work, aeroplanes can be built at Barrow, on the Clyde, at Plymouth and other shipbuilding centres.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member seems now to be opening up the full width of the discussion which we usually have on Vote A of the Estimates for the year. That must not take place to-night. The hon. Member will please keep to the question of light cruisers.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg pardon. I intended only to mention that in passing, but I was led away by my indignation. Already our naval distribution and our naval forces are giving alarm to some of our good friends on the Continent. There is a movement of alarm to-day in Italy because we have concentrated on the Mediterranean Fleet, and the Italians are approaching France, according to the Press, with invitations to join them in meeting this threat from England. This building programme, I am afraid, must be interpreted as a threat by people with whom we are at present on very good terms, and, since my right hon. Friend took office, on 2126 better terms, I am glad to say. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I think it is admitted that we are on better terms with France. We are certainly on better terms with Russia.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I will not offend again. I must however trouble the House with one more figure. On the 20th July last, I asked the right hon. and gallant Member for Evesham (Commander Eyres-Monsell), who was then speaking for the Admiralty, how many light cruisers were in commission by the various Powers, and the figures he gave were astonishing. Japan had 11, France four, and the British Empire 34. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Then why are these extra cruisers necessary? I come to the most potent argument, namely, that the building of these cruisers will relieve unemployment. In that case why are we building only five? There are four Royal dockyards—Devonport, Portsmouth, Chatham and Pembroke—and all the private yards—Barrow of course—and five cruisers will not go round. If it is such a splendid thing for unemployment, why not build 20? Why not 25? What is the limit? I must confess that I think this is a very dangerous argument. Followed to a logical conclusion we might as well relieve unemployment by embarking upon a first-class war! These cruisers will have to be kept up. They will have to be manned, equipped and maintained. They will lead to great expenditure. The whole of that money must come out of the money needed for social reform, housing, etc.
It is said to be necessary to employ men to build ships that are not required. Why not build something more useful? Could not we build locomotives and railway wagons, with long credit, for those European countries which need them? [AN HON. MEMBER: "Russia."] There are other countries besides Russia. There are many other more useful engineering projects that could be put in hand for the benefit of the unemployed instead of these cruisers. The advent of my right hon. Friend and his Government, which, personally, I was delighted to see, sent a wave of hope across Europe, and to all people of progressive and democratic minds, to all the peoples who want to see an era of peace in the world, to these 2127 people who look for better international relationships! This is not a good start in that pacification of Europe, in the resettlement of the world, and in bringing more closely together mankind into what I hope will eventually be an organisation that will finally prevent war. This, I say, is a bad start, and does, I think, justify my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) in his Motion. I hope it will give the Government pause, and that this matter will be reconsidered.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
I confess to a good deal of amazement at the speeches which have just been delivered. First one and then another assumed that this was an increase in Admiralty expenditure. They never asked; they do not know; they had simply reached the assumption that this was an increase in armaments, and they did not inquire. I am bound to confess that I think it is a very good example of apparent haste to criticise on any pretext whatever.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I should just like to observe in relation to the apparent haste that, until it became known that the Prime Minister was going to make a reassuring statement, the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. J. H. Hudson) intended to second my Motion.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Far be it from me to claim that every hon. Member who sits behind me is above falling into mistakes. The hon. Member who moved the Motion himself admitted that he had done so by mistake. He informed the House that he did so under the impression that the Government was to begin building these cruisers without asking the sanction of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman, in excusing himself for that mistake, said he did not hear what the Parliamentary Secretary said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Mr. Speaker did not hear!"] I have a document in my hand from which the Parliamentary Secretary read his answer. [HON. MEMBERS: "It was the supplementaries!"] This is not 2128 the supplementary. I am now reading from the original document—Tenders will be invited at once from the contractors so that it will be possible to proceed with the work as soon as the necessary Parliamentary sanction has been given.Then there was a supplementary question. My hon. Friend said it might not be necessary to put down a token Vote. My hon. Friend assumed—and I am not sure he assumed wrongly—that, in the ordinary course of affairs, the matter had been discussed in the Estimates, or would be discussed in the Estimates. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I hope hon. Members on all sides of the House will be good enough to remember—perhaps they may need it when they come into office some day—that it may take them a week or two to understand all the intricacies of Parliamentary procedure But whether a token Vote is, or is not, necessary, that statement made by the Government stands—and nobody knows that better than the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle). No keel can be laid down; no preparation can be made for laying a keel down, until this House sanctions it—that is if the House does sanction these cruisers. That is the first point.
I would submit now with all due deference, Mr. Speaker, that that point having been disposed of, the conditions under which the Adjournment Motion can be granted have been removed. Since that point has been proved to be false, the Debate has been deprived of reality. I advise, my hon. Friend to read the Estimates before he begins to make speeches in a matter like this on the subject of the Admiralty. I would take this opportunity, however, of explaining exactly how the matter stands. The building of these five cruisers is no increase of Naval expenditure.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
We are not quite certain as to exactly how far the reply of the right hon. Gentleman carries us. He used the expression, "No keel will be laid down." I suppose the critical question is whether any tender will be accepted? No doubt that is the primary point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I do not think my right hon. Friend objects to me asking him if he means that no tender will be accepted?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Does my right hon. and learned Friend imagine 2129 that the Government is so foolish as to accept tenders, with all the consequences, if they are not to be carried into effect? Of course not. I answer, if a tender he accepted responsibility follows. And does my right hon. and learned Friend suggest that the Government is merely quibbling with the House of Commons? I may explain why this unusual procedure has been taken. The question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. G. Lambert) was perfectly sound, and there is no equivocation on this matter. I am not saying this for the purpose of misleading anybody. The lenders will be put out, will be received, and will await the decision of this House. There is no increase in our naval strength if we begin to build those five cruisers this year, because they are purely for the purpose of replacing a certain type of cruiser, with a wide range, which is wanted. We want five of them now, in order to keep up what is practically the existing standard.
Among the cruisers in commission 10 are now over 15 years old, and I am informed that 15 years is the life of a cruiser. Ten of them are practically dead, and 17 more will be over 15 years old within the next five years. I want the House to understand what is the position. Are we going to be told—and I would like a straight answer on this point—that the method of bringing about disarmament and of carrying out pledges —I am very glad the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) has referred to the pledges given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself—are we going, to be told that the way we are going to carry out those pledges is to allow the Navy to disappear by wastage from the bottom? I withdraw nothing of what I said about disarmament—that the nation which trusts to armaments is bound to be deceived. But what a magnificent conception of pacifist principles are held by hon. Members who think the best way to do that is to allow your ships to fall to pieces! That is not my view, and it never will be my view.
The second point is this: There is no question of policy involved in the building of these five cruisers. The question of how many cruisers we want, the type of cruiser required, the question what is to be the standard we are to build up against are questions not involved in anything the 2130 Government has declared to-day it proposes to do. The whole of those questions are at the present moment under exploration, and until that has been finished no decision will be come to. Whatever the policy is, we must work upon a scheme. There is nothing more wasteful and less efficient than to build a number of ships one year and a number of ships another year, because we must know exactly what we are driving at, and how our policy is going to be co-ordinated into national relationships. And the League of Nations, and the Government, is not going to be hurried into making up its mind as to how that is going to be begun. But we want to replace, and no foreign nation—whether France, Japan or America—can ever protest with the least effectiveness if our building simply means replacement.
Now as to the other point. It is perfectly true that we did have unemployment in our minds. Again I am amazed at some of the arguments. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) asks what is the use of building five ships, because they will not go round. Has my hon. and gallant Friend become so idealistic that he does nothing but what is perfect? I have already explained that five is the replacement number, and that is all.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is perfectly true, and they were always going to be replaced. The County class is a type of the large radius, and the time and place to discuss that matter is on Vote A. Hon. Members know very well that in the mass of cruisers now in commission there was an over-preparation built for North Sea purposes during the War. The light cruiser only is fit for very short distances, because the base of supply of North Sea operations was always quite close, and those cruisers were built in order to accommodate themselves to these circumstances. My hon. and gallant Friend knows perfectly well that that type of cruiser is of no use for trade rout e purposes. Therefore, a part of the County class must be replaced, 2131 and that replacement will simply fit into a general scheme of wastage which has to be taken in hand year by year as the Estimates come up. I know we cannot put a ship in every yard, and I have explained why we took five.
In what position do we find ourselves—and here I deal with the innovation which I confess the Government have made? For the last three months, until towards the end of January, there has been practically no Government in this country. We had the election. We all knew that an election was coming, and no Government was in a position to commit itself to any large or important scheme. The election came; then there was the vacation, then we met, still in a great uncertainty; and only at the end of January did we come into office. We found ourselves thus faced: We were informed —I can only give the information that was placed before us—that, on the 22nd of next month, 2,250 men would have to be discharged from our dockyards, and that, if no fresh construction were to be put in hand, those 2,250 men would have to be supplemented by 2,500 up to March of next year. Suppose that we wished to close our dockyards. Would any Government choose that way of closing them, at a time like this, when about 1,200,000 people are unemployed, and a large part of those unemployed people are connected with engineering and with the iron and shipbuilding industries? Assuming for argument's sake that we were going to close the dockyards, is the way that would be adopted by any responsible Government to take 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 men within 12 months, and throw them out on to the streets at a time of very severe unemployment? At any rate, no Labour Government would ever do anything of the kind. Now we have to meet that, and we are informed that, by putting this replacement programme in hand at once, we can save that situation, and tide over that difficulty. Why should we wish to increase armaments, to begin that very fatal race which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs had in mind when he was making the statement quoted by the hon. Member for Penistone? If we were to do that, then there is no justification whatever—
§ Captain BERKELEY
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question on that 2132 point? Have the Government considered the prejudicial effect which this announcement may have upon the Conference on the Limitation of Naval Armaments in Europe, which is now sitting at Rome?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is exactly the point I took before. We never can protect ourselves, and if the hon. and gallant Member sat on this Front Bench and produced his policy, he never could protect himself, against misunderstanding and foolish conclusions. We have been subject to that since we came here. If this matter were to influence the able men at Rome, we are in a position to explain the misunderstanding away. But I do not believe for a single moment that a Convention such as that which is sitting at Rome would consider that we are violating anything, or that we are menacing anybody, by rebuilding to fill up—not to complete, but to fill up a substantial part of—the wastage which we have allowed to go on during the last few years. I must assume that those gallant Gentlemen have sound common sense, and are able to put two and two together.
Suppose that there were 2,250 men next month on the streets. I can imagine the criticism that would come upon us from below and above the Gangway, and from the other side of the House; I can imagine the telegrams if, in three weeks from now, we were discharging 1,000 men at Chatham, 1,200 at Devonport, and so on. I can imagine the questions; I can imagine the supplementaries; I can imagine the attempts to get the Adjournment Motion. But that would not have mattered. We have to face, quite apart from what hon. Members of this House may do, this simple fact. We are struggling hard to do something to alleviate unemployment. Could we take upon ourselves the responsibility of hardening our hearts and setting our faces against the building of ships which, I repeat, do not increase our fighting force? Could we harden our hearts against the building of those ships, and allow these men, with their wives and families dependent upon them, to be turned out on the streets? It might have been done in ordinary times, but, provided that the military policy is sane, then I maintain that the thought which ought to dominate the minds of the Cabinet is 2133 the thought of preventing that very disastrous step having to be taken.
My final point is this: Since we came into office, we have addressed letters to municipalities, to all sorts of public authorities, and to private people, begging them to put work in hand. We gave instructions that the War Office should explore the possibilities of putting work in hand, and we gave instructions that the Air Ministry should do the same. Are we going to be told that we have deserted our principles, or have done something wrong, because we also addressed that request to the Admiralty? Why? We asked the Admiralty, "Have you any building? Have you any stores that you want replenished; have you anything undone in hand that you can do now, either to replace blanks or to keep up stocks?" And this programme was suggested. I hope that with that explanation—I may be expressing a vain hope—but I hope that the House will allow us to get on with real business It is very often necessary, I know, to have these Motions for Adjournment., but they are a great drain upon time. We have only two full days a week, Monday and Thursday, and taking away one half of to-night to discuss this matter has certainly embarrassed us as far as other business is concerned. We have to get our business through, and, if I may say so, with great respect, I think this Debate might quite well have been postponed until the ordinary occasion for raising such matters. I should like very much, if it were possible, to let this matter go now, so that we may get back to the Estimates, which must be completed, as preliminaries to the equally essential financial business which we want to finish before Easter. I hope I have made my statement in such a way that it will be informative without being too aggressive. If I have said anything beyond that, it is because I think that these opportunities should be taken with a little more care and a little more reason than, I am sorry to say, this one appears to have been.
§ Mr. AMERY
I have some hesitation in intervening after the Prime Minister's address, but, hon. Members have clearly shown their intention of continuing this not very necessary Debate, despite the Prime Minister's appeal. We, on this side, little thought when he hauled down our flag a month ago, that we should be 2134 called upon so soon to support the Government—[Interruption]—against a treacherous surprise attack on the part of a squadron that the Government had at any rate some reason to regard as entitled to support them. I do not say the Prime Minister, as far as the Debate is concerned, needed our support. He stated the case, as I knew it only a few weeks ago, perfectly clearly and quite concisely. And if I may say so—and I hope it is no presumption on my part—he and his colleagues have in a very few weeks, mastered the facts of many difficult situations, and have had the courage to show that they have mastered these situations. That some of their supporters may have failed to face the same realities may be a perfectly natural circumstance, but it is a circumstance of which, apparently, certain ingenious Members below the Gangway are trying to take the fullest advantage. The hon. Member for Pentstone, for instance, has now day after clay been exercising his skill in endeavouring to make mischief. Like another ago he is continually trying to insinuate into the minds of the single Othellos of the Labour back benches the poison of suspicion against the innocent Desdemonas of the Front Bench.
I need not attempt to repeat the main points the Prime Minister has made. This Debate is, in this sense, unnecessary. There was never any doubt in my mind when I listened to the answer and supplementary answer of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, that nothing would be done without Parliamentary sanction, whether on a token vote or on the ordinary Estimates. On the issue of Naval policy again let me say that I think the Prime Minister stated the case quite fairly. The decision is entirely independent, both of the general Naval policy of the future, and Perfectly consistent with such hopes that we, on this side, as well as on the other, entertain as to the possibilities of future limitations of armaments by common agreement. He has also made it clear that, on the basis of our present naval policy, these cruisers are absolutely necessary as mere replacement. When I introduced the Estimates, nearly a year ago, I pointed out that the figures were entirely exceptional; that we had postponed many things which were essential to be carried out, and for which we would have to ask the permission of the 2135 House in subsequent Estimates. One of these was the replacing of cruisers. I pointed out at the end of January that in the next 10 years we should have to replace 52 cruisers. As the Prime Minister has pointed out, in addition to 10 more or less obsolete, now in reserve, another 17 will become obsolete in the next five years.
As it takes fully three years to build cruisers, obviously we have to lay down 17 within the next three years. I have made it clear that, while in deference to a very difficult financial situation, we might have been content with laying down only five cruisers this year, we believed that the unemployment situation justified us in putting forward the programme of eight. If there was any anticipation, it was in respect of three cruisers only, and the present Government cannot be accused in respect of that.
I think I need not delay long on the question of unemployment. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) put a question which, to my mind, was perfectly absurd. He asked, "If you build five cruisers to remedy unemployment, why not build 25? The answer is perfectly simple. There is no justification in building cruisers or doing anything at the taxpayers' expense which is not wanted. To build unnecessary cruisers is clearly a waste of the nation's money. It is only because these cruisers were wanted that we felt it was justified from our point of view. The programme which we put before the House on the last day of office was one which would have given full employment to some 32,000 men, not only in the shipbuilding yards, but in the great factories where shipbuilding material is made and where there are a hundred and one auxiliary requirements that go to make ships of war. I am very sorry for my part that the Government have not seen fit to carry out the whole of that programme. That programme was one of eight cruisers and a very considerable number of other vessels—submarines, an aircraft carrier, a mine-layer—I need not enumerate them in detail, but it is sufficient for my purpose to say that the programme the Government has put forward is not quite half, from the point of view of employment, of the programme which 2136 we put forward, and to that extent I greatly regret it.
There is the further difficulty to which someone has drawn attention, that if you give three cruisers to the dockyards there is really very little left to meet the requirements of the many private yards. No one can deny the extent of the unemployment and misery in the great shipbuilding centres, and in spite of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Penistone has said, no one can suggest that there is going to be a substantial and speedy recovery in the shipbuilding world. According to the Annual Report of the Chamber of Shipping, just published, there are 6,750,000 tons of shipping idle to-day. Sir Norman Hill, in his evidence before the dock strike inquiry, pointed out that 600,000 tons of our shipping are lying idle in British ports and the great majority of the companies carrying cargo are carrying it at a loss. In those conditions you cannot expect an early revival. If in these conditions we can find skilled work, not relief schemes, which may be largely waste, but skilled work, in the very industries which are most in need of that skilled work, tiding them over the time till ordinary shipbuilding gets better, surely it is preposterous that this attack should be made on the Government when they a[...] carrying out, as I consider in regrettably incomplete fashion, a programme which is in no sense inconsistent with any general scheme of world peace which they may have in view, but which is urgently required by the working population of the country.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
It is with no desire to make a technical or small point that I ask the attention of the House for a few moments. When I sat on that bench I took precisely the same point that I am going to take to-night. The Prime Minister evidently has a very heavy load on his shoulders. I say with all sincerity that I do not wish to embarrass him, but this to me is a point of principle. I sympathise with the Financial Secretary. I know full well that for a few months he will be at sea at the Admiralty. But the Admiralty is not at sea. They know full well all the procedure of this House. He stated that tenders will be invited at once from contractors. But there they have singularly 2137 badly misled the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's argument was, if we do not invite these tenders from the contractors we shall have to discharge 2,250 men from the dockyards. Unless I am greatly mistaken, to give work to the Royal Dockyards does not require any tenders from contractors.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I never suggested anything of the kind. The tenders are to be taken from private contractors. I am afraid I omitted really to finish what I was going to say on account of interjections. Tenders are to be taken because it will take another month, and we want to speed up the beginning of work, not in the Royal Dockyards, but as regards private contractors.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I am sorry if I misrepresented him. Knowing the difficulties of sitting on that bench and coming in contact with new business, I will not attempt, to make any petty point, but I must say this is an extraordinary Parliamentary situation. Where did this policy come from? From Plymouth. I happen to be a Devonshire Member, and therefore I read the late Prime Minister's speech at Plymouth with a great deal of attention. This is what he said on 25th October:The Government have decided to lay down several light cruisers.That. is the Conservative policy. He said also:It is merely anticipating work which must have been undertaken in a couple of years time.Not for immediate defence, but in a couple of years time. Then the right hon. Gentleman said:I am not a clever man. I know nothing of political tactics.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Why, if the right hon. Gentleman did not know anything of political tactics, did he go to Plymouth, which is adjacent to Devonport, a great shipbuilding centre, and say he proposed to lay down several light cruisers? That is the policy which the present Government is following. I object to this policy. I objected to it when the Prime Minister made it. In the old days Parliamentarians used to bribe the electorate with their own money. To-day it becomes 2138 the fashion to bribe the electorate with the taxpayers' money. I object to this bribe. If hon. Members pay the money out of their own pockets well and good, but it comes out of my constituents' pockets, and why should my constituents be taxed in order to provide bribes for either Government? This is a system of political debauchery. It seems to be imagined that to spend the taxpayers' money will cure all ills. To my mind that is a very great mistake. I put this economic argument to the Government bench. You do not increase employment by these orders. You simply divert it. You give employment to the shipbuilders it may be, but you take away from the taxpayer the power to use his own money in his own way. That is a sound economic argument which my right hon. Friend will have to realise. The money for these cruisers will not come down from Heaven, like manna. It will have to be taken from the taxpayers. I hate taxes, and I do not propose to allow this Government of any Government to put more taxes upon me or upon my constituents when I feel that they are not justified.
To lay down cruisers from a defensive point of view before they are wanted is waste. I learned the lesson when I was at the Admiralty—[Laughter.] It is very easy to laugh, but those hon. Members who laugh cannot correct me in what I am saying. When I was at the Admiralty I learned the lesson that you should never lay down a ship, especially a battleship, until it is absolutely necessary, because if you do it will be obsolete. These cruisers, I have not the smallest doubt, will be obsolete before they are finished. [HON. MEMBERS: "Like the Liberal party!"] My hon. Friends need not bother about the Liberal party. The Liberal party is not obsolete. May I put this point to the Prime Minister, that in considering the naval programme, we do not want these small instalments. We want to consider the naval programme as a whole, when the Naval Estimates are presented. We cannot criticise this to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why are you doing it?"] We cannot criticise this to-day as to whether it is sufficient or insufficient, because we do not know what the Government are going to propose on the whole. Therefore, I say, wait until the Naval Estimates are out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why do you not wait?"] Will you wait? Will 2139 the Government withdraw these tenders? They began this rush.
In this matter of naval defence, let us remember the Debate we had on Tuesday night. It is not cruisers we want. London can be bombed by French aeroplanes, and cruisers will not keep them away. I say to the Government that I am sorry they have embarked upon this policy. I should be false to my own pledges and to my opinions were I to support them to-night. I shall go into the Lobby against them, for I do not believe, and it is well for the Conservative party to understand it, that spending the taxpayers' money will permanently relieve unemployment. Let that get into their minds. I know there is a good deal.—[Interruption]. If hon. Members provoke me, I shall say a good deal more. I do ask the Government, and I ask the House, to remember that building unnecessary battleships will not be a permanent cure for unemployment.
§ Major Sir BERTRAM FALLE
It is never easy to follow the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle), and it is not easy to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert). The hon. Member for Penistone was kind enough to recall a number of election cries. He said that disarmament and the reduction of naval expenditure were election cries. We never heard anything about those subjects at Portsmouth or any of the other Royal Dockyard towns. The hon. Member wanted to know what was the use of cruisers. He seemed to think that they would injure the mercantile marine. What a curious notion. The cruiser is built to protect the mercantile marine. It is its object, and practically its whole object, to keep the path of the mercantile marine open and to see that we get our food from other nations. The work of our cruisers is world wide, while the work of the cruisers of the other nations he mentioned is only in their local waters. He spoke of our possible enemies. I should like to have heard him tell us who are our friends. In my experience, this country has very few friends. Our friends could be counted on the thumbs of both hands.
I would ask the hon. Member to remember that no social reform is possible unless these shores are safe. What was it that protected these shores and kept them in- 2140 violate, not only during the last War but during the past centuries The Royal Navy. What enabled us to win the War? The Royal Navy. The Army could not have fired a shot if the Navy had not conducted them to France and fed them when they were there. I had the honour of serving in the junior service, and I know that perfectly well. Not one soldier would have landed in France, and not one shot would have been fired, if the Navy had not kept the sea for the Army. If it was difficult to follow the hon. Member for Penistone, it was much more difficult to follow the Prime Minister, for he knocked the whole bottom out of the Debate. There was one ominous passage in his speech in which he told the hon. Member for Penistone to wait for the Navy Vote before making his speech on the reductions of the Navy. I trust that no speeches that he may make on the Vote for the Navy will show any further reduction in that grand cause. Wherever we could save money—and I could tell many places where money could be saved—it would be the height of folly to starve the Navy, on which this country entirely depends. I am glad to see from this quotation that he is not one of those who, if they wish for peace, prepare for peace. He had the far wider and far wiser idea, the idea, of the old peoples who were masters of the world, that if you want peace you ought to prepare for its alternative.
§ Sir B. FALLE
In placing these cruisers it is understood that one cruiser is to be placed in each of the Royal Dockyards. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I do not know why hon. Members opposite seem to think that because a Member represents a dockyard constituency, therefore he should not be fair to other dockyards and other people. It is a mistake to judge other people by themselves, unless their ideas and standards are high. Whatever constituency did me the honour of returning me, I should make the same speech as I am making now. We depend on the Navy and we must keep it up to standard. When the War ended we had a Navy as strong as any two navies in the world. Now we have not a Navy as strong as that of the United States; but if we do not build ships in our Royal 2141 Dockyards, remember that, we place ourselves entirely in the hands of the private yards, those yards which hon. Members opposite are never tired of abusing because they say they are part of the ring of armament makers which force this country and other countries into armaments and bring on war, as if armaments ever brought on war. What kept the peace of Europe for the last 40 years was the fact that Germany was so strong that nobody would attack her.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now getting to be a little wide of the subject under Debate. I have reminded the House that this Debate was to be confined to the specific point upon which the Motion for Adjournment was raised.
§ Sir B. FALLE
I will try to remain inside your ruling. I believe that the Navy is the greatest necessity in this country. It has kept her free for hundreds of years. It has kept her soil inviolate all through dissentions, and all during the last War, and if we do not keep our Navy up to a proper strength it will be the end, not only of our Empire, but also of this country herself.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Major HORE-BELISHA
One fact of great significance emerges from the programme which the Government has put before the House. Two successive Governments, differing in principle and in personnel, and opposed in theory, particularly in the theory of defence, have successively put forward the same policy, one in a less extensive form than the other. To my mind that is the most conclusive of arguments, that these two political parties, being supported and guided by the same advisers, having access to the same information, should lay an identical policy before the House, and I have very much pleasure in associating myself with the Labour party, or that section of it which is prepared to support this policy.
I had hoped, and I still hope, that when the Labour Government laid before the House this policy, it was some indication that we had at length reached a period when the question of national defence must he removed from the narrow area of party polities. As long as I remain in this House I shall never record a party vote on any question of foreign policy or on any question of the defence of this 2142 country. There are issues which transend the narrow considerations which my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone, making an exception from his usual course, adopted. It is possible to lay down certain principles of defence, as it is to lay down certain principles of insurance, which should commend themselves to all sections of the House. That is not a matter which is appropriate on this occasion. But the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) has supported his Motion with the lamest arguments it is possible to advance in support of any Motion. I took the precaution of noting down some of them. Before passing to them let me say that this, programme commends itself to me on grounds of economy. The late First Lord of the Admiralty, in the course of a very admirable and lucid speech—and few knew more about the position than he does—made it clear on the address that this was really a question of economy—and the Prime Minister has reinforced his point to-night, He said:There will moreover be a particularly heavy drop in the next six years, and to prevent a serious deficiency in 1929 in subsequent years we ought to lay down as many above that average"——that is the average of five per year-—as in the immediately preceding three years. Apart from strategical considerations there are also very strong reasons of administration and economy in favour of expediting to some extent our cruiser programme. In 1927–28 and subsequent years we shall have to keep the yards well occupied with considerable replacements of destroyers which by that time will have become obsolete.That is an argument which is quite unanswerable. You have the unemployment problem to-day. It may be bettor in years to come. Then why should you subtract men from industries of a productive character to put them on the construction of these vessels? Now is the time to utilise to the full the labour you have at your disposal. I would point out to the hon. Member for Penistone that this does not involve putting men into the shipbuilding industry. It gives employment to men who have always been employed in the shipbuilding industry.
It is not only a question of economy, it is a question of national safety and unemployment, and unemployment is the main question before us to-day. That divides itself into two categories, the private yards and the national yards, 2143 which brings me to the further extraordinary argument of the hon. Member for Penistone, that if you build these ships you stop commercial shipbuilding. Was ever such a. ridiculous argument placed before the House? What are the Royal Dockyards for? What are the men maintained there for? They can never get private tenders, and that is the gravity of the whole question. The commercial yards will be revived when shipbuilding is revived as a consequence of the revival of trade, but the national yards will not be revived when trade is revived I should be the last person in this House to advance arguments in favour of this programme, merely because I think the dockyard towns would be satisfied. That would be a deplorable thing to do, but you have the national consideration. These yards have been built with the taxpayers' money; the capital is the taxpayers. You are allowing the machinery of those yards to go rusty, and you are letting the men go rusty too. You have an obligation towards these men because there is absolutely no alternative employment for them. For generations these men have lived around these yards, and they depend on the policy of the Government for their livelihood. If this Motion goes through it will bring despair to 2,500 families in the Royal Dockyards and to 32,000 in the Royal Dockyards plus the commercial yards. If my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone thinks the national yards should be done away with, then it is up to him to put up some alternative policy, but we cannot simply scrap the men and the yards. You have to find them alternative employment.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) said, "Why do you not build railways and something that is useful?" But they cannot build anything but ships. The shipbuilding industry is the most important industry in the whole country. It is absolutely essential for the prosperity of the country that we should maintain skilled men. As a consequence of the reductions made already, our best men have gone to America. Apprentices from the dockyards, trained at tremendous expenditure, selected with tremendous care, the very finest men this country could produce, have gone to America and there they are earning £9 2144 a week instead of 30s. You have a responsibility towards those men from the point of view of national safety. The programme for which we are asking your approval is one that I approve wholeheartedly. A reduction of this programme would involve the greatest distress in the country. This programme seeks to give employment not only directly but indirectly by preparing a scheme of insurance without which there would not be any employment at all. In the interests of those employed in those yards, both commercial and national, in the interests of their families, I support this programme with all my heart and I oppose this Motion with all my heart. My hon. Friend has no conception of the anxiety which a speech such as he delivered to-night will cause in the shipbuilding centres of the country. If my hon. Friend proposes to reconsider what he has done, I hope he will take the very earliest opportunity to withdraw his Motion.
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
I am glad to hear that the Labour Government have decided to adhere, at any rate, in part, to the policy of the late Conservative Government.. I wish to protest strongly against the suggestion of cutting down the number of cruisers from eight to five. I do not propose to touch on the question of defence, which will be dealt with on another occasion. What I am solely and most heartfelt in worrying about is the question of unemployment and the retention in this country of the skilled mechanics who have built up the trade of the country. I wish to refer to the very definite pledges given by the present Prime Minister. In a speech he made in this House on 12th February he said:There is not the slightest doubt about it that whatever Government faces the problem of unemployment ought to face it first of all with the idea of putting the unemployed men back in their own work. Therefore in so far as the Government can influence trade, that should be the first point of attack.You will notice that the Prime Minister expressly states that the Government ought to face this problem with the idea of putting the men back to the kind of work to which they have been accustomed. Is this another of the pledges of the Labour party about which there is to be same discussion? Talk about nibbling—an expression which the Prime Minister 2145 used. I say it is nibbling to talk about rive cruisers. Three of these cruisers are to be placed in the Royal Dockyards, and I am very glad to hear it. But that leaves only two cruisers to be divided among 11 yards. It almost makes one think that as a sop to the back benches of the Labour party these two odd cruisers are to be sent to the Clyde. Frankly, that is the only assumption to which I can come, as the Labour party have always held that it is their policy to do away with naval armaments altogether. I was very glad to see that when the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) rose to move the Motion a goodly number of Members on the back benches of the Government rose to support the Motion. As for the Liberal party I think that this has driven another nail into their coffin.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
The right hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) made one or two extraordinary and rather amusing statements, one being that these cruisers would be obsolete before they were finished. We all know that the Liberal party is finished. It is certainly obsolete. Whatever section of people there may be who believe in disarmament, I am convinced that the main body of opinion in this country is in favour of having a Navy which will be able to look after the interests of the country and protect her trade. One of the subjects in which I am particularly interested in connection with Barrow and other shipbuilding centres, is the great peril of allowing skilled men, who have spent the whole of their lives in mechanics, who can grind down a casting to 100,000th part of an inch, to remain unemployed. What good is road-making or housebuilding to such men? In Barrow, fortunately, there is no want of houses, and we have built there all, and more than all, the roads that we require. None the less, the position is absolutely desperate. We are frankly relying upon Government assistance, and when the last Government was in power, we had a pledge that one of the eight cruisers would be built at Barrow. Barrow has been living on the hope of getting that cruiser.
There are now two cruisers to be placed in private yards, and I appeal to the 2146 Prime Minister to consider most carefully whether one of those cruisers cannot be sent to Barrow. The expense of these cruisers, as stated by the late First Lord of the Admiralty, would be a matter of £5,000,000, which would carry out the whole programme of eight cruisers, gunboats, submarines, minelayers, etc. This £5,000,000 would employ about 32,000 men or on an average 4,000 men per shipbuilding centre. In Barrow it would be an absolute Godsend to take 4,000 men off the streets and out of a position in which they are losing their skill every day; out of a position in which they are becoming miserable, losing heart and giving up hope for the future. The money would be well spent in such a scheme as this. It would be spent for Imperial defence and for the good of the country and, while it might not be devoted to productive articles it would be productive expenditure in this sense, that the men carrying out this skilled work would be available in the event of any call on the country for the materials and the things which they have been used to producing.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I understand that one of the questions at issue in this Debate is whether or not we shall retain five cruisers on the shipbuilding programme with a view to providing employment for people who, otherwise, will be cast out on the streets in a short time. According to the statement of the Prime Minister there is a further issue, namely, whether a shipbuilding programme on the basis of five cruisers is any departure from the general and the normal. I speak as a private Member of this House, and I think I should be proud to claim that right, after all that the Prime Minister has said upon the matter, and, as a private Member of the House, I feel myself compelled to take towards the Labour Government's attitude upon this subject a line similar to that which I was compelled to take, quite conscientiously, before the Election, when I was confronted by the programme of the late Prime Minister. I agree that the late Prime Minister spoke of more cruisers than are contemplated by the present Prime Minister. He spoke of that cruiser programme being used in the same way as is now suggested, for the purpose of relieving unemployment. I took the line in my own constituency that expenditure upon war vessels of any kind at this time of 2147 day, when we have had a Great War to end War, would in the long run have its reactions abroad; would be an encouragement to other nations whom we want to influence towards the disarmament and would make it difficult for us to accomplish those things which we desire, ultimately, to accomplish.
I realise that the Opposition Benches make complaint to us—I am rather glad they have—that the programme now contemplated is only about half of that which they on that side contemplated, that instead of being the eternal cry, "We want eight, and we won't wait," they are now content to do some waiting while the programme of five cruisers is proceeded with. [An HON. MEMBER: "A first instalment!"] Yes, I see the danger in that, and it is for that reason that I urge to-night that the Government should take into account the reactions that will follow if this programme should be proceeded with.
I am not altogether moved by the view that the building of these five new cruisers is actually replacement of a greater number of cruisers. Cruisers that are replaced are old cruisers. Before the War, when hon. Members in this House used to discuss the question of Dreadnoughts, it was the new, not the old, Dreadnoughts of Germany or on our side that were in question during those discussions, and it is because I feel that these five cruisers, if completed, will make in themselves a special menace in the world, and possibly encourage, to take one example, America, the people who are now demanding new naval appropriations for the purpose of getting a cruiser programme in America as well, it is because I fear it may lead to that result, that I hope, before we come finally to settle this issue, that some new statement may be made by the Labour Government in the direction of a further reduction upon the general number of ships proposed to be built.
I wish to say also a word upon that particular point of the provision of employment. Personally, I feel that it is rather unfair to the community as a whole that, in order to deal with unemployment, you should take special measures which will be of special advantage to dockyard towns, when the unemployed in other industrial centres in the 2148 country have to be content, even when the gap is removed and with the other improvements that I am glad to say the Labour Government is determined to effect, with nothing like so effective treatment and help as is accorded to workers in dockyard towns by programmes of this sort.
I wonder, for example, what might be done in my own constituency of Huddersfield for the assistance of engineers there, if the wealth that it is proposed to spend upon cruisers in Devonport, or Barrow, or elsewhere, might be used, through trade facilities, through credits, to enable the engineers in Huddersfield to get on with the job of making transport machinery and agricultural machinery for export to Russia and other parts of Europe. That would be more likely to carry out the policy that the Labour Government generally has in mind. I suggest that it is a wise policy, a policy less dangerous to the community as a whole, if it could be accepted. Though I had the intention, through a misconception it is true, of seconding the Motion that is before the House, I learnt during the Debate that there is a distinct reduction in the programme as it was originally proposed. I have made my plea that that reduction may go further still. I believe by taking this attitude I shall best assist those pacifist ends that I have in view in all the work I have to do as a Member of this distinguished House. I do not, therefore, propose to vote to-night for the Motion of the hon. Member for Penistone. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) has also confessed that he put this Motion under a misconception.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
When I began I was commenting on the surprise with which the statement of the Under-Secretary was heard, and I referred to a reply to a supplementary question. I did not, however, make that the ground of the Motion, but the Government's decision.
§ Mr. HUDSON
For myself, that did appear to me very strong ground for action, but having misconceived what the Government had in mind, I do not propose to support the hon. Member. During the course of this Debate we have been brought up against the fact that these questions of building new cruisers can no longer be debated on the merits of whether they serve for defence. You have to bring in all sorts of extraneous con- 2149 siderations. You have to justify them with pleas about unemployment. I am glad to know that. I believe there is a growing feeling in this House, as there certainly is in the country, that neither by cruisers, nor submarines, nor aeroplanes can you any longer defend the safety of these islands. War has got to such a point that human beings can no longer withstand the forces that have been let loose, and there never will be peace, safety and security for our country, or for the world generally, until we turn our backs definitely and finally upon these methods. I hope the Government will make further reductions, and make them quickly, and that they will also go on quickly with those other steps they have in mind, the development of international understanding by diplomatic processes. Thereby I hope we may come to that day of peace for which we have striven so long.
I do not intend to detain the House for more than one moment, and it is to say this: This Debate arose, because it appeared to me, and I am sure to most of us here, that the Government proposed to expend public money without the consent of the House. I have not the least idea on what ground you, Mr. Speaker, gave your permission, but I hazard the conjecture it must have been done upon that ground that the decision was given. It also appeared likely, too, that this new expenditure was of a new kind. Therefore, there was a double reason why the Chair should allow this Motion for Adjournment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I have been many years in this House and have seen many Adjournments moved and given, and I believe that is the reason, though I have no other reason for saying so except my experience of this House. Both of these reasons—and I think my hon. and learned Friend is quite right in moving—both these reasons have been demolished by the speech of the Prime Minister. First of all, he has definitely said that no expenditure whatever will be incurred on these cruisers without the House has had an, opportunity of giving its consent. Secondly, he has made it plain—at least he made it plain to me—that if we build these cruisers we shall not be exceeding by one single ton the Washington Pact. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question!"] I know something of the 2150 Washington Pact. Cruisers are not included specifically, but battleships: it is also understood, it is an honourable understanding of the Washington Pact, that the general naval strength between the contracting Powers shall not be appreciably disturbed. We do not propose to disturb that. If we were debating Vote A I should have something to say as to the need for aeroplanes rather than battleships or cruisers, but we are not debating Vote A, and I hope my hon. and learned Friend, having gained his point, will be satisfied with it.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the Washington Pact says that the general naval strength shall not be disturbed. Is he aware that by 1929 the cruiser strength of Japan will be doubled, the submarine strength of Japan will be doubled, and destroyers will be added to the number of 32?
I was interrupted by the hon. Gentleman when I was at the last sentence of my few remarks, and it was to say that if my hon. and learned Friend does, in spite of what I venture to say, go to a Division, I shall unhesitatingly vote against him, and I hope most of my hon. Friends will do so too.
§ Viscount CURZON
We have witnessed this evening one of the most amazing episodes that have happened, I think, in the politics of our time. In the first part of the Session the Liberal party put the Socialist party into office but not into power. They have continued their performance tonight, their "Rake's Progress," by endeavouring to raise the wind and to discover another mare's nest in connection with this matter! First of all the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) suggested that the Japanese earthquake had impaired the naval strength of Japan. Of course, he has not read his OFFICIAL REPORT of last Wednesday, when I put a question to the Secretary of the Admiralty asking could he state whether the standard of strength of the Japanese Navy must be considered 2151 to have been materially affected by the earthquake, and he said:I am glad to say there has been no very material damage done.I would commend hon. Members to column 1720 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the day before yesterday, and there they will see the facts. This Motion was seconded by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), who started by giving a lot of figures three years old, and therefore they are not of much value to-day. He also cited the "Navy List," and said that we have 37 light cruisers fit for commerce protection. As a matter of fact, we have four ships of the "Hawkins" Class, including aircraft carriers, and two of the "Emerald" Class which can be used for commerce protection. We have a number of other cruisers of a. smaller type, which are very much worn in consequence of the last War, and the fact is that they can only be used for this purpose with the Fleet while actually manœuvring. The, hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull says that we should use the flotilla leaders as light cruisers. It is astonishing to me to hear a. destroyer officer suggesting that flotilla leaders should be used to do the work of commerce protection on our 80,000 miles of trade routes.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I suggested that the flotilla leaders should work with the Fleet, and leave the other ships free to protect our trade routes.
§ Viscount CURZON
Then the suggestion is, that these flotilla leaders should go to sea and meet light cruisers of 10,000 tons, carrying guns of 6-inch, 7.5, and 8-inch calibre. The hon. and gallant Member for Hull is a naval officer, and knows all these facts and, therefore, it is important that the House should also know the facts. He suggested that aircraft carriers should be used instead of cruisers. He knows these facts which I have referred to, but he does not state them. As a matter of fact, the aircraft carrier is the most vulnerable of ships. She has no armament; she is of exceptionally large size, and forms a huge target which could not be missed, and all the aircraft carrier can do in action is to get out of it if she can, and, as a matter of fact, all our aircraft carriers, with the exception of the "Furious," 2152 have not got speed enough to get away from light cruisers.
With regard to foreign ships building, again the hon. and gallant Gentleman gave figures, but his figures were quite inaccurate. He said that France had only four ex-German light cruisers; the fact is that she has five. He said that she had two, perhaps three, building, but the fact, again, is that she has three building, and, besides that, a programme for six new ones to be completed by 1927. They are ships of 10,000 tons, carrying an armament of 7.6 and 8-inch guns. The hon. and gallant Gentleman forgot to state that. Then he went on to refer to the United States, and said that they had 10 cruisers, but their naval programme authorises six more, up to the very limit entailed by the Washington Conference, which will give them 16. I venture to think that these facts should be borne in mind. We have only six light cruisers, and, with the five proposed to-day added, 11. The French have 14, the United States 16, and the Japanese are to have 22, or, with the Japanese Fleet cruisers added, 25.
Those are the facts, and I would ask hon. Members opposite to bear them in mind. They may think that the Coalition Government and the Conservative Government were militarist in their policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear! hear!"] Very well. Will they study the facts, which are these, that, since the War, the Governments of the United States and of Japan have completed 46 light cruisers, and we have completed one. Would they also bear in mind that these two countries are completing, or have completed, 120 submarines, and we have completed one. I submit these facts for the consideration of hon. Members, and also this, that we have 80,000 miles of trade routes, and that this country has to import every week, I believe, about 6,000,000 tons of food and about 20,000,000 tons of raw material. That has got to be protected. The friends of to-day may very easily be the enemies of to-morrow, and in this matter a country which is so highly industrialised and centralised as this cannot take chances. Therefore, I would ask hon. Members opposite, who are as keen as any other party in the House upon the poor man's breakfast table, to consider where the food for that breakfast table is coming from. The Government have justified this programme on the score of relief of 2153 unemployment, and the late Government fell into the same error. The light cruiser programme is necessitated not alone by unemployment, though that need, God knows, is bad enough; it is necessitated by the facts of the naval situation, and I challenge hon. Members opposite to controvert, if they can, the figures I have placed before the House. I hope most earnestly that the House will support the Government in turning down the Motion of the hon. Member for Penistone, and I hope the country will remember the action of the Liberal party to-night.
§ Mr. AMMON
I have deferred my intervention in this Debate until this late hour because, in the main, there is very little left for me to reply to. One felt, immediately after the Prime Minister's statement, that the whole bottom had been knocked out of the attack embodied in this Motion. As has, I think, been admitted in all quarters, the Motion was moved under an entire misapprehension. My answer at Question Time had, apparently, not been clearly caught by some hon. Members, though evidently it was fully appreciated on the benches opposite me. I stated then clearly and distinctly that the whole programme would have to come before this House for approval before any money could be spent. Everyone knows that, as an ordinary business proposition, one gets ready and invites tenders, so that one may put the work in hand with as little delay as possible should final consent be given to the expenditure of the money. That was all that was contained in the reply that I gave, and, further, I would remind the House, if I may with respect, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) himself put a question to me as to whether I would agree to a token Vote, and I replied that I saw no necessity for that, because the Estimates would be before the House very soon. That was what I had in my mind, namely, that the whole matter would come under review and the decision would be ratified by this House. The position laid down by the Prime Minister is the position taken up by the Government at this present moment. We do not propose, by the announcement which was brought before the House this afternoon, to add a single ton to the armaments of this country. It is simply for replacement of old craft, which have 2154 long been outworn and should long ago have been scrapped.
§ Mr. AMMON
No. We have to replace many that are now obsolete and practically useless, which, from sheer old age, as judged by naval requirements, are falling out of use. Those are the facts of the case that we have tried to put before the House this evening, and, over and above that, I want to take up what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Hudson). We have no reason to think that foreign nations will in any way misinterpret the Government action as it has been misinterpreted by a section of hon. Members of this House. The Government are quite confident that other countries appreciate that we are, in the letter and spirit of the Washington Agreement, carrying out its obligations. I want to state clearly that the position is simply that as stated by the Prime Minister. The Government will endeavour to come before the House with a definite policy and with definite proposals. I submit to hon. Members on both sides of the House that there can be no objection to the fact that the Government is keeping the letter and spirit of all that is embodied in the Washington Agreement. I wish to put to the House the fact that they have had a clear statement from the Government. There was a considerable misapprehension arising out of the answer given this afternoon. We have shown that these fears are entirely without foundation. The Government will not shirk the issue. We have taken the one point that we are not increasing in any way our armaments, that it would be the greatest folly which would be misunderstood by tens of thousands of people at a particular moment like this when you have unparalleled unemployment in the country to increase it by throwing large bodies of working men on the market. Surely that must be taken into consideration. We shall be on surer ground if, when economic circumstances are better than they are now, we can then face, as the Government will if it is in a position to do so, the larger question of disarmament or reduction of armaments. That is a pretty fair statement. I would remind the hon. Member who talks about utilising the machinery in the Govern- 2155 ment dockyards and factories for the making of those very necessary articles in connection with our housing programme, that while I agree with him in the main, his argument at present is based or a fallacy, because under the present circumstances you would simply redistribute the work in the engineering trade, having regard to the market, without making any appreciable difference in the amount of unemployment. That is the position. It is an entirely different position when, to use a Biblical phrase, you have turned your swords into ploughshares and your spears into pruning hooks and then use this machinery for
§ the promotion of this other work. I have tried to meet the few points there were to meet and I think the Government has the right to claim the support of all parties in the programme they have laid down.
§ Commander BELLAIRS rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 73; Noes, 372.2159
|Division No. 6.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Hobhouse, A. L.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. G.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hogge, James Myles||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Black, J. W.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bonwick, A. J.||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W.Derby)||Simpson, J. Hope|
|Briant, Frank||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Spencer, H. H (Bradford, S.)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Kay, Sir R. Newbald||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Keens, T.||Starmer, Sir Charles|
|Chapple, Dr. William A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Collins, Patrick (Walsall)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Stranger, Harold|
|Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Laverack, F. J.||Sunlight, J.|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Livingstone, A. M.||Terrington, Lady|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Loverseed, J. F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Dodds, S. R.||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Vivian, H.|
|Dunnico, H.||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Morris, R. H.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Entwistle, C. F.||Murrell, Frank||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Falconer, J.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Willison, H.|
|Finney, V. H.||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Franklin, L. B.||Phillipps, Vivian||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|Gorman, William||Raffety, F. W.|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Rea, W. Russell||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Rendall, A.||Mr. Pringle and Mr. Linfleld.|
|Harris, John (Hackney, North)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Charleton, H. C|
|Alden, Percy||Birkett, W. N.||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Blundell, F. N.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas. C.)||Bondfield, Margaret||Clarke, A.|
|Allen, R. Wilberforce (Leicester, S.)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Climie, R.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brass, Captain W.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.|
|Apsley, Lord||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brittain, Sir Harry||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Broad, F. A.||Compton, Joseph|
|Ayles, W. H.||Bromfield, William||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Cope, Major William|
|Baker, W. J.||Buchanan, G.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cove, W. G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Buckle, J.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)|
|Banton, G.||Bullock, Captain M.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Barnes, A.||Burman, J. B.||Crittall, V. G.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Band)||Calne, Gordon Hall||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)|
|Becker, Harry||Cape, Thomas||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovll)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||James. Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Potts, John S.|
|Dickson, T.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Dixon, Herbert||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Jephcott, A. R.||Ralne, W.|
|Duckworth, John||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Dukes, C.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Duncan, C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F.W. (Bradford, E.)||Richards, R.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chortsey)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Kenyon, Barnet||Ritson, J.|
|Egan, W. H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)|
|Elveden, Viscount||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Kirkwood, D.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Lamb, J. Q.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Lane-Fox, George R.||Ropner, Major L.|
|FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Lansbury, George||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Fletcher, Lieut.-Com. R. T. H.||Law, A.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Forestier-Walker. L.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Royle, C.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lawson, John James||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Leach, W.||Russell-Wells, Sir S. (London Univ.)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Lee, F.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gates, Percy||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Locker-Lampson, Com.O. (Handsw'th)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Lowth, T.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Gillett, George M.||Lumley, L. R.||Savery, S. S.|
|Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lunn, William||Scurr, John|
|Gosling, Harry||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen.J.E.B.(l.ofW.)|
|Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||M'Connell, Thomas E.||Sexton, James|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Greenall, T.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||MacDonald, R.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||M'Entee, V. L.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Mackinder, W.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McLean, Major A.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Groves, T.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr, T. J.||Smillie, Robert|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||March, S.||Snell, Harry|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Marley, James||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-In-Furness)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Harland, A.||Meller, R. J.||Spence, R.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Middleton, G.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Mills, J. E.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Stamford, T. W.|
|Harvey,C. M.B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Stanley, Lord|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Steel. Samuel Strang|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Moles, Thomas||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hayday, Arthur||Montague, Frederick||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Morse, W. E.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hillary, A. E.||Moulton, Major Fletcher||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Hindle, F.||Muir, John W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Muir, Ramsay (Rochdale)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S J. G.||Murray, Robert||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Naylor, T. E.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon.S.)|
|Hodges, Frank||Nesbitt, Robert C.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thurtle, E.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Nixon, H.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||O'Grady, Captain James||Toole, J.|
|Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Oliver, George Harold||Tout, W. J.|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Howard, Hn. D.(Cumberland, Northrn.)||Paling, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hudson, J. H.||Penny, Frederick George||Viant, S. P.|
|Hughes, Collingwood||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston on-Hull)|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Perry, S. F.||Warne, G. H.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)||Wise, Sir Frederic|
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kenningtn.)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Josiah C.||Williams, T (York, Don Valley)||Wright, W.|
|Weir, L. M.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Wells, S. R.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Welsh, J. C.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Westwood, J.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Wheler, Lieut.-Col. Granville C. H.||Windsor, Walter||TELLERS TOR THE NOES.—|
|Whiteley, W.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. T. Kennedy.|
|Wignall, James||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|