HC Deb 30 July 1924 vol 176 cc2058-9
59. Major CHURCH

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the speech made by his military secretary, Lieut.-General Sir William Peyton, in opening a memorial hall at Bradwell, to the effect that the desire for war is an integral part of human nature, that another war was imminent, and that the League of Nations is not an effective instrument for the preservation of territorial integrity; and whether, seeing that His Majesty's Government is engaged in the task of attempting to create the conditions for a lasting world peace, he proposes to take any action to prevent such speeches on the part of those holding official positions?

Marquess of HARTINGTON

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies to this question, may I ask whether the alleged extract contained in this question is not very misleading, and does not convey a fair impression of the general tenor of the remarks of General Peyton?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Walsh)

I must answer first of all the question on the Paper. I have only just obtained a. copy of the report of the speech referred to, and I have not since been able to consult Sir William Peyton. I understand, however, that he regarded the occasion as almost a private one, and that his intention was to inculcate not the war spirit, but the spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice. In that part of his speech which is reported in the first person he made no suggestion that another war was imminent or that the League of Nations was ineffective. I regret, however, that the speech was such as to occasion misunderstanding.


Is it not a fact that fuller reports of the speech of General Peyton show that he began by deploring the existence of war?


I really cannot say, because I have only, as I have informed the House, just seen within the last few hours—being engaged elsewhere—the report, of the speech in the "Sheffield Daily Telegraph," of Monday. In that paper he is reported in the first person in a small paragraph, and in that part of the speech which is in the first person he makes no reference at all to the fact that another war was imminent or that the League of Nations was ineffective. As I say, I cannot, not having seen fuller reports, say what they contain.


On a point of Order. The general was perfectly right. The League of Nations is no use at all!