§ Mr. G. HARVEY
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsin the opinion of this House, either the effective striking strength of the Air Force should be increased or the ground personnel and Ministry staff should be reduced.I should like to take the first possible opportunity of congratulating the Minister on a very lucid and very outspoken speech. The point that I wish to take to-night is simply the point of view that concerns the taxpayer or the man in the street. Anyone can destroy. There are very few who think they can build who are able to do so. The Air Ministry is a War creation much in the same way as D.O.R.A. was a War creation. Dora is staying with us, and from what the Prime Minister said to-day, in spite of the remarks of the hon. Member who has just sat down, the Air Ministry is going to stay with us. The only thing we want to do as members of the public, is to get the best possible value we can for the money we expend. I do not pretend in the least degree to know anything about the merits of unified control and cordiality between the Services. I quite agree with what the Minister said, that when it is definitely stated that something that is temporarily established is to be permanently established, it will find its place in the scheme of things. I would like to make a remark about a Motion made in this House by the Minister with regard 814 to the Air Force when the Opposition were in office. The Motion was made on 19th February, 1924, and it was as follows:That this House, whilst earnestly desiring the further limitation of armaments, so far as is consistent with the safety and integrity of the Empire, affirms the principle laid down by the late Government and accepted by the Imperial Conference, that Great Britain must maintain a Home Air Defence of sufficient strength to give adequate protection against air attack by the strongest air force within striking distance of her shores."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1924; col. 1660; Vol. 169.]Then, on 11th March, of the same year the present Under-Secretary went into some harrowing details of poison gas and incendiary bomb attacks and made the remark, in conclusion, that the ordinary elector was beginning to understand this new phase of war. The ordinary elector is the man for whom I am endeavouring to speak. The point is, what is our position at the present time? From what I can make of it, we are in a position of doing nothing in particular except to stand still. I am not a Jingo by any manner of means, but, with the spirit of Locarno abroad, I do think it is very evident that the only people who are studying the spirit of Locarno at the present time are the British people themselves. Other people do not seem to be taking the spirit of Locarno as it should be taken. What I have expected from the spirit of Locarno is much the same as that indicated in the remarks which have been made by other hon. Members this evening. I cannot understand why the resources of France, Italy, and Great Britain cannot be pooled. Both are considerable debtors to us, and, if we could be relieved of any portion of the expenses of the Air Force, or the £120,000,000 which the armed forces of the country will cost this year, it would be a considerable inducement to us perhaps to make some amelioration in the amount of the debt they owe to us. Perhaps that is a point of view which may be examined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he comes to make final arrangements.
I am also one of those who do not believe excessive armaments are conducive to peace. I remember when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was at the 815 Admiralty in pre-War days he made gestures to Germany, but Germany took no notice of them, and the consequence was that we were building one against the other right up to the outbreak of War My only fear is that we may be tempted to do the same thing in the air. From the taxpayers' point of view, I would like to point out the position we actually do stand in compared with the position we were led to expect when the Air Minister moved the Resolution which I read a minute or two ago. France is stated by competent authorities to have 1,542 active service machines. She is stated also by the same competent authority—it is not hearsay—to have a reserve of 4,000, not counting machines under construction. She also made up her mind that she was going to have as many as 2,500 first-class service machines in use by the end of 1925. They were all said to be of post-War design and construction. I daresay the figures are fairly well known. In the middle of June last year Italy was supposed to have 1,500 and was aiming at 2,000 by the end of the year. The United States are regarded as having 1,423, but, according to my hon. Friend behind me and the Report I saw upstairs yesterday, America seems to have a little trouble about the composition of her air force. Japan is regarded as having 1,300, but apparently have 1,053, including reserves.
There is one thing I would like to ask the Minister, and that is how many of the machines that are on the active service list to-day are of pre-1919 design. Our position, therefore, is very evident. We are standing to-day in the position, according to the figures I have given, as a third-rate Power. I am very glad to hear the remark made to-day by the Minister that our position has vastly improved recently. I know that the new machines are very good. At least, I am told so by competent pilots, and I happen to be very intimately associated with one who piloted machines during the War. Our pilots are intrepid and are not bettered, even if they are matched by any other pilots in the world. I have no figures concerning Germany, but I know Germany was restricted by the Treaty of Versailles. She does a lot of good commercially with her small-powered machines. With regard to 816 Russia, I have no doubt that our Friends on the Opposition benches were shown everything there was to be seen with regard to the air service of Russia. The position in that country is doubtful.
The Minister has declared that when he took office in 1922 there were only three home defence squadrons. To-day we are told there are 25 squadrons on the home service, and two or three more are in prospect this year. So I think we ought to be very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, as taxpayers, for the fact that the country stands in a better position to-day in this respect than it did when he took office in 1922. The point of view which I take, however, is that to remain where we are is a practical impossibility. Either we ought to extend the striking force, or else we should have the courage to go to the other extreme and do away with it. If we are not competent to defend ourselves against a strong air Power situated within half-an-hour from the City of London, I cannot see how we could ever have the opportunity of building, when the other nation was being dominated in the air. Of course everybody hopes that such a thing as a war of that character will not happen, and God forbid that anything of the kind should occur in our lifetime! The alternative is to rely upon the civilians, with Departmental supervision. Everybody knows, however, that an Air Force cannot be built up and equipped in a day. Machines can be built quickly but engines cannot, and if we have to resort at any time to frenzied building we shall be again in the hands of the profiteer and burdened with extortionate costs.
I should like to comment upon the question of personnel. The Estimates show that we are to have this year a total strength of 35,500, at a gross cost of £20,864,000. According to the figures given to me, the pilot strength on 1st February, 1925, was 2,099, and on 1st February this year it was 2,203. That appears to form rather a striking comparison from a civilian's point of view. There is practically no expansion in the number of pilots. We only seem to have an expansion in the numbers of the ground staff. There is another arresting comparison in these figures. The Directorate of Operations and Intelligence employs 44 people at a cost of £24,535. As a civilian I should pass that figure as very reasonable and proper, but 817 by comparison the Directorate of Works and Buildings employs 231 persons, and the cost is £94,089! The Directorate of Equipment takes 134 persons and costs £59,378. The Secretary's Department employs 282 persons, the Accounts Department 159 persons, and the typing staff is 155.
There is another point which is rather striking to me. In connection with the Air Force in Egypt, Palestine and Iraq there is a statement regarding the Audit Department—a business about which I know something, from my experience. I find there is an audit staff of 67, at a cost of £32,636. I hope the Minister will not think I am cavilling in the least degree. I am examining these matters as a taxpayer, and I suggest it is all the better that they should be aired. There are 67 persons employed on this audit staff for 12 squadrons, and taking the squadrons at the usual standard of 12 machines each, I find that there is this audit staff for 144 machines—which is very nearly one audit employé to every two machines. It seems to be that each employé has a rather easy time. When I was engaged in that business, I should have considered myself as having a very easy time, if I had five or six times that amount of work to do, but in my time hours were of no consequence. I worked all the hours that God gave or I should not be here. The total Ministry list of employes is 2,085, and the cost is £751,000, an increase of £10,000. But in the serious item of planes, engines and spare parts there is a decrease of £513,000.
I know it is an oft referred to subject, but I suggest that a remedy for our problem may very largely be found in connection with the effective use of civil aviation. The present Vote for civil aviation is £462,000 but nearly half of that sum—£216,500—is for building and lands. I understand there are only 20 firms left in the aeroplane business, and each one of them has its own drawing offices, and its own skilled designers. I am rather afraid that the official aim is to crab the efforts of the civilians. I see that at Farnborough there is employed a staff of 447, and my information is that it is very difficult to get designs passed and that very often the time occupied in passing them is such, that when the machine has been commented upon it is very nearly obsolete. I observe that France votes 818 approximately four times as much as we do to civil aviation, and Germany nearly as much as we do, but they both seem to go in for encouraging general business, and the export of machines. I was very glad to hear the Minister's remarks on that subject to-day. It has always seemed to me that we were rather hidebound in that respect and that the firms were simply being tied down to the Ministry, whether there was any work for them or not—which meant eventually that some of them would have to go out of business. I observe an article written on 20th February, 1924, in the "United Service Magazine" by Air-Commodore Clark Hall in which it is stated:The published figures show that from the outbreak of War in 1914, it took us something like a year to work up from an output of practically nothing to 200 machines a month.We know to-day that we could not meet the necessities of our case even with our present resources under about six or seven months. The same officer used another remark which is rather striking:Casualties to air-craft and their engines may be expected to be so heavy that only a strong and healthy aircraft industry will be able to cope with the problem of replacements. The building up of such an industry is, therefore, probably the greatest service which civil aviation can render to the fighting Service.We know that in peace time a machine lasts from three to five years, according to the care taken of it. From information received in my own family, I gather that a pilot, if he has good luck, may be of considerable service and perhaps at his best for only six years. The Minister will contradict me if I am wrong.
§ Mr. HARVEY
In war time, however, I think a pilot is lucky if he can "stick it" for two years, and it is stated that the wastage of pilots in war amounts to 25 per cent. per month, while machines may be expected to disappear at the rate of 40 per cent. per month. I am very sorry to see that we have only 130 or 140 registered pilots outside the Royal Air Force, and we have therefore little or no reserve in that respect, while the number of outside machines available is something under 100. They are of a great variety of types and I think the Minister will agree they would be of no practical 819 use whatever. We devote for the benefit of civil aviation, something like £137,000 a year to the Imperial Airways, as a subsidy. Up to a little while ago, I think I am right in saying they were using nothing but old machines. I suggest that up to recently most of these machines were four years old or thereabouts. I see, however, in "The Aeroplane," that they are now using the new D.H.'s, which have a considerable reputation, and we may expect from now onwards some value for our money. It seems a reflection upon our business acumen that we have not had very much from our money so far, but perhaps the directors have been taking no fees during that time. Another phase of economy which I should like to see developed is the use of Army units, as in France, for ground work. This seems to involve a considerable saving of expense, and I notice that whereas the French air strength compared with ours is as three to one, the cost is very nearly in the inverse ratio. That seems to indicate a considerable amount of overlapping on our part and consequently needless expense.
We seem to be sitting on the fence. How long we are going to sit there I do not know. We have a very costly insurance policy—it is costing us £20,000,000 a year—and yet we are not insured. Either we must have a stronger defensive Air Force, or we would be better without one, and in the latter alternative we would save a lot of money. My feeling is that we have not enough pilots or enough machines. It is no good talking about the spirit of Locarno to people who are not willing to listen, unless we are strong and determined enough to force your views upon them, and I do not think we shall get very much further than we are to-day until we are able to come into line with our Continental competitors. When they find that we are determined to come into line with them, we shall still sooner approach to a real Locarno agreement. Therefore, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name, that if we cannot bring ourselves into line with our Continental neighbours, it would be much better that we should make a drastic cut in our expenses, because, as matters stand, I consider we are wasting a considerable amount of money.
§ Sir FRANK NELSON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I shall do so with brevity and with some diffidence as I realise that the custom of this House is that 90 per cent. of the discussion of a subject like this shall be carried on by those who have the prerogative of expert knowledge. I was hoping the Minister would be in his place, because my chief reason for intervening in this Debate is that up and down the country in the last year or two there has undoubtedly been a most prevalent impression—whether right or wrong I have not yet made up my mind—that the Air Ministry is unduly extravagant. When I entered this House a short time ago I found two things. I found first, and very quickly, that a back bench Member had very little if anything to say or do with Money Resolutions, and, secondly, that it was impossible for him to make up his mind, by listening to Debates in this House, as to the merits of the question whether there was or was not extravagance in the Air Ministry. Therefore, in common with a few other Members of my seniority in this House, owing to the courtesy of the Air Minister, which I should like to take this opportunity of acknowledging, we decided to see what we could do, to the end that we might place ourselves in a position to decide for ourselves, as far as it was possible, whether or not there was extravagance in certain aspects of Air Force administration that were brought to our notice.
I would like to express my thanks to the Air Minister, and also, through him, to the Air Vice-Marshal at Halton, both of whom extended to those of my party and myself who went down there the greatest courtesy when we examined that particular institution. When I visited Halton Camp, there were, I think, 1,781 apprentices. It is expected the numbers will rise in a short time to 3,000, and building is going on now, to be completed, I understand, in September, which will enable Halton Camp to take on to its establishment 3,000; but, taking the number as it is to-day, 1,781—the Under-Secretary,for the Air Ministry will correct me if I am wrong—the total staff of officers is 66, with 737 airmen, 106 civilians, and 31 educational staff, making a total staff of 940. It seems to me, and also to some of my hon. Friends in this House who have been looking into this ques- 821 tion, that with a roster of 1,781 apprentices, a staff of 940 requires, if I may say so with the greatest respect and deference, some explanation. The cost of an apprentice to the country is about £230 each per annum. I gather that the figures on which that estimate is based are such as to make it—and here again I put it with all deference—completely unreliable, but assuming that £230 per annum (and if incorrect this figure is likely to be more rather than less) is the cost to the country of an apprentice at Halton Camp, there again, I think, a certain amount of explanation might be forthcoming.
I would ask hon. Members above the Gangway to believe me that I do not say this in any class sense, but £230 is probably more than it costs a parent to send a boy to any of the four or five leading public schools of England. I have personal knowledge of Winchester, and my bills for my son at that school there average £60 to £70 a term. In addition, these apprentices at Halton get 1s. a day pocket money, which, when they number 3,000 will cost the country £55,000 a year, and even now it costs between £30,000 and £35,000 a year. I submit, with all deference again, and putting forward the suggestion, I hope, in a constructive sense, that rather than pay 1s. a day to the apprentices, most, if not all, of which is spent in the canteen, a certain amount of pocket money per week, say, half-a-crown or a little more, for lads of from 15 to 18 would not only be sufficient, but better for their digestions as well. I am not telling the Under-Secretary anything that he does not know. He will know without my telling him that on Friday, which is pay day, the evening meal at Halton Park is completely knocked off, because there is so much pay received that they find that no meal is needed at all.
Reverting for one moment to the question of the cost to the country of each apprentice, and the numbers of the staff, I have already compared the cost of an apprentice to the State with the cost to a parent of sending a boy to a public school, and on that analogy, if the Under-Secretary will go into the Establishment of any of the big public or private schools, he will see that the relationship between the pupils and the masters is nothing like in the same proportion as it 822 is at Halton, where, as I have indicated, it is one member of the staff to every two apprentices. I hope I am not drawing an unfair inference or criticism; I know, however, that the Minister or the Under-Secretary will tell me later on if I am, but if you take any ordinary school in England of, say, 100 boys, and allow six masters and a headmaster—I have gone into these figures very carefully—with five maidservants, a butler, a gardener, and a groundman, you will find that the average relationship between the pupils and the staff works out at about five to one. and in many cases at as many as 10 to 1. These lads at Halton do not do their own fatigues, and I do not see why it is necessary to employ there 737 airmen, who presumably, as far as we were able to understand, undertook fatigue work in dormitories, kitchens, post office, and so forth. I should have thought—and I put it forward with the greatest humility and deference—that those boys of from 15 to 18 years of age,. even if their course had to be extended for a month or two, should do their own fatigues, and that this would almost certainly be a great economy to the country.
I freely admit that the finest technical education, I suppose, in the world is now given in the three years' course at Halton. There is no doubt about it, and my only doubt is whether the country is not paying too much for it, and whether we could not give just as good a technical education for a very much less cost. But, that being so, it is rather curious that still the number of recruits is below what is designedly aimed at. I understand the Government, as a recruiting measure, have what is known as a Parents' Day at Halton, and last year, I believe, through the generosity of the Government, no fewer than 7,000 parents received tea. It may be a most excellent recruiting measure, but will the Under-Secretary tell us why it should be necessary? There surely must be a tremendous class of boys in this country whose parents and themselves would jump at the finest technical education that I have ever seen given them for nothing plus 7s. per week pay, and yet, apparently, it is not possible to keep the numbers up to scratch. There is an aerodrome there, which, I think, has 15 aeroplanes. I understand that these apprentices are not compelled to go up, but can go up if they so desire for 823 what is known technically as a flip once a year. The flying staff have a number of regulation flying hours every year to do in accordance with Regulations. I should not have thought it was necessary, having regard to the fact that the apprentices are trained for a profession in which they will not normally have to do any flying at all to keep a large aerodrome there with 15 aeroplanes. I should have thought that the regular flying of the staff could be done at one of the neighbouring aerodromes, and if I am incorrect in stating that the apprentices do not have to do any compulsory flying, surely they could go also to a neighbouring aerodrome, and when they so desire do their one or two hours' flying there.
In conclusion, I would ask the Air Minister to accept what I have said in the spirit of real, constructive criticism. My own personal predilection would be, not to vote £16,000,000 for the Air Force, hut anything that the Minister liked to put forward, provided he could satisfy me—and I should not be difficult to satisfy—that we should have, in return what I hope we shall eventually have, the finest Air Force in the world. I am only concerned in seeing that, whether we spend £16,000,000 or £60,000,000, we spend it to the best advantage and do not waste it.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Major Sir Philip Sassoon)
I rise to reply to the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. G. Harvey). The hon. Member for Stroud (Sir F. Nelson), who seconded the Amendment, did not quite, as far as I could gather, follow on the lines of the first part of the Amendment, so, if he will excuse me, I will not deal with his remarks at the same time as I do with those of the hon. Member who moved it, but when I have answered the Mover, I will, to the best of my ability, endeavour to answer the many conundrums which the Seconder has put to me as the result of that visit to Halton to which he referred. The first part of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kennington complains of the inadequate squadron strength of our Air Force compared with that of certain other countries. I should like to say that, if this branch of his Amendment means anything, it is a criticism, not so much of 824 the particular Estimates that are now before the House, but of the whole programme and policy adopted by the Government, after very careful investigation by the Committee of Imperial Defence, in 1923.
That programme, which was carefully adopted by the Government and confirmed by this House, is the policy we are pursuing. As regards the second branch of his Amendment, that relating to the apparent inadequacy of our numerical flying strength compared with ground personnel, I should like gratefully to acknowledge the moderate and restrained terms that he used in support of it, but it would seem to be the same line of attack as we have seen lately occupying so much space in many sections of the Press.
§ Sir P. SASSOON
Certainly, I quite realise that, only the hon. Member perhaps does not realise that behind the words of his Amendment there is a certain body of opinion which might not be put forward in the same straightforward manner as the hon. Member adopted, which is, perhaps, less enlightened than the hon. Member, but more vocal, vocal in different ways, vocal behind closed doors, vocal in anonymous pamphlets circulated around, or vocal in articles that bear no signatures. Still, that is the gravamen of the attack against us, and I should like the opportunity of dealing in a few words with it. inasmuch as the words of the Amendment imply that there is a disproportionate amount of ground personnel as compared with flying personnel.
In so far as the second half of the Amendment can be taken to assert that the ground personnel is excessive as against the flying personnel, or that the number of available pilots is not adequate, having regard to the stage which our programme of expansion has, or should have, reached by now, or that the Air Force is controlled by, or consists of, men who do not fly, that is absolutely inaccurate. We are to-day about half-way through our expansion programme. We have 25 squadrons out of our allotted and authorised limit of 52. At the end of the current year we 825 shall have 28. We have a higher proportion of qualified pilots available than any other country in the world. The recent American official report—the Morrow Report—gives, with what I believe to be sufficient accuracy, the proportionate number of pilots of the five principal Air Powers. It shows that we have two-thirds as many pilots as France, half as many again as the United States, more than double as many as the Italians and, roughly, three times as many as the Japanese. It must not be supposed that these pilots do not get adequate flying experience. The amount of flying which is done by service machines in the first line does not by any means represent the sum total of the air activities of the Royal Air Force. The amount of flying done for testing and research work is very considerable indeed.
My hon. Friend, perhaps, is convinced from what I have said that there is not a disproportionate number of ground personnel compared with flying personnel, but there are others who may not be so convinced, and I should like to put these facts before them. We are in the midst of a large programme of expansion. Where should that expansion begin? Should we buy engines and machines before we have sheds, hangars and depots in which to store them, or aerodromes from which to fly them? An aeroplane costs between £3,000 and £15,000. Some twin-engine bombing squadrons carry as much as £250,000 worth of technical equipment. Are we to sink that amount of capital on these machines unless we have mechanics and engineers to look after them, and unless we have pilots to take them into the air? Three years are required to train an aircraft apprentice, and even an enlisted man takes from 12 to 18 months to become fully qualified. Are we to start training apprentices and engaging mechanics and engineers until we have the schools and workshops in which they can learn and work? Some of the hon. Member's supporters are asking us to build a house by putting on the tiles before we have cut out the foundation. I do not think my hon. Friend would himself under-estimate the value of discipline in any walk of life, and least of all in the Services. Nor do I think he would under-estimate the importance 826 of drill as a means of inculcating discipline and of promoting physical efficiency. But I have seen in the papers lately large photographs, occupying much valuable advertisement space, of Air Force cadets marching past at a review, and being held up to ignominy as "The Royal Ground Force." Is it the considered opinion that discipline and physical fitness are unnecessary in an air force?
I do not know whether hon. Members realise how little drill is done as a matter of fact. At Halton, as the hon. Member for Stroud (Sir F. Nelson) knows, there are only two and a half hours a week When they go out, and are posted to their squadrons, they do about half an hour a week, and that includes any ceremonial parades and inspections. Those who visited Wembley and saw the smartness, the discipline and the intelligence of the Air Force performance there last year must have thought it must have taken many months to accomplish. As a matter of fact, the men who took part in that were men who had only just enlisted at Uxbridge. They were doing their first three months' training there previously to being posted. None had been more than three months at Uxbridge, and some only a few days, and the fact that they were able to give such a good performance is only another example of the fact that the Air Force is able to attract to it such very intelligible types of men.
If there is any hon. Member who thinks that the members of the Air Force, whether they are pilots or mechanics, lead a sedentary life, I should like him to visit some of these aerodromes or training establishments. There is no walk of life in the services or out of them where discipline and fitness are so essential as in the Air Force. We do all we can to develop the technical skill of our personnel, and to maintain the highest possible standard of discipline and fitness, for on our degree of success in these respects depends from day to day the lives of our pilots in peace time, and in time of war the safety of this country. The men who control our Air Force, the swollen staffs of whom we have heard so much, are not military autocrats. They are not sergeant-majors in brass hats. They are men who have flown and still fly regularly. They are men who have watched the development of the Air Force from its very earliest days, and are directing it to-day with the 827 whole experience of the War behind them. They are men who have learnt at least that you cannot build a new force, even though it be an air force, from the top downwards. In this connection I should like to mention that in the Report of the Finance Commission of the French Chamber of 25th July, they say that the object to aim at is the provision of aerodromes and the necessary buildings; because without properly equipped bases the technical equipment would be thrown away.
The Army and Navy, as has been already said, have had their dockyards and barracks for generations. At the time of the Armistice, the Air Force had practically no permanent accommodation at all. The Air Force officers in the Middle East now live in huts made out of old packing eases and old petrol tins. In this country 80 per cent of our personnel, officers and men, even including the Staff College at Andover and the Cadet College at Cranwell, are still living in temporary buildings. In three years' time, about 50 per cent of them will still be living in that way. In these circumstances, I do not think the gibe is deserved that these men are pampered parasites, living in grandiose palaces and battening on an impoverished nation. I am not suggesting that the hon. Gentleman said that or suggested it, I am only saying that it has been said. Statements that there has been extravagance in building for the Air Force are not accurate. Only half the sum on the Building Vote is to be spent on accommodation for personnel. The rest is for technical buildings, aerodromes, workshops and things of that kind.
To judge from statements in the newspapers and elsewhere, many strange things are thought about airmen. Why should airmen need any facilities for sport or exercise upon the ground? Let them go into the air! They do not want to be physically fit. What does an airman want with bricks and mortar, with barracks, canteens and mess-rooms? If he is not in the air, he can roost. What does an airman want with any education or, for that matter, any intelligence at all? Even a goose can fly. It is no whit less ridiculous to condemn the present administration of the Air Force upon such bald statements as that 828 50 men are too big a number to keep one flying machine in the air. There is much more in it than that. At the end of the War 84 men were required to keep a machine in the air, and there was not very much criticism to be heard then. I think very few people realise how many things are necessary, and what a wide range of activities is needed to the fitting out of a military aeroplane station, apart from the engine and its various accessories, apart from its structure and fabric of the machine itself, there is a host of fittings and articles of equipment, varying according to the machine and the purposes of the aircraft. There are things like wireless, aerial guns, bombs, bomb-racks, parachutes, equipment for photography, oxygen apparatus, compasses, automatic or semi-automatic controls, and one hundred and one other articles which are needed, each one requiring its own special ground organisation.
Further than that, elaborate arrangements have to be made at all the aerodromes to prevent fire. There is the provision of fuel, stores, the building of workshops, sheds, roads, etc.; so that a numerous, highly skilled and well equipped ground force is essential to maintain an effective fighting force in the air. It is just as absurd to complain that 50 men are needed to keep an aeroplane in the air, as to complain that 125 men, irrespective of dockyard personnel, are needed to bring one of the "Queen Elizabeth's" 15-inch guns into action. It is just as absurd to complain of the number of platelayers, porters and officials that are needed to keep a train running on the line, or to cavil at the number of messengers, officers, officials, stenographers, policemen, waiters and—last, but not least—of reporters that minister to the comfort, security and efficiency of a Member of this House.
I ask the House not to be led astray by comparisons with foreign countries. Here in this country practically every man that has anything to do with the maintenance or the equipment of our Air Force is shown on the strength of the Royal Air Force, but abroad air organisation is interwoven with naval and military administration, and statements of personnel, no less than of cost, specifically assigned to the air arm, take no account of the men or money employed 829 on the air forces which are borne on naval and military votes. It would be merely deceiving the country if the Ministry were to lay down as a principle that the idea of reduction in the proportion of ground personnel to flying personnel, or of personnel to aircraft can be properly pursued as an end in itself. We would never get a home defence force on those lines. The people who cry out now, at this stage of our aerial development and of our home expansion schemes, for more aeroplanes and more flying and less ground personnel, without taking the trouble to find out what is actually being done, are doing a grave disservice to their country and, if their wishes were realised, would endanger the lives of our pilots. We have got pilots than whom there are none finer in the world and we have a good store of them. Thanks to our training schools we have got much promising material coming on. It would be a crime to do anything which would compel those fellows to take unnecessary risks, and it would be folly to do anything that would in any way undermine the confidence that they have either in their machines or in their equipment.
The hon. Member for Stroud asked me a few questions about Halton. So far as I can remember, one of the questions was the disproportionate amount of staff as compared with air apprentices there. He will, of course, remember that Halton is a very special school. There are so many highly technical and various schemes of training going on at once that those can only be carried out by very small classes. It is also in process of expansion, and at the end of this year there will probably be 3,000 apprentices there. He will be the first to realise that it would not be fair to compare a school of that kind with an ordinary public school, where the curriculum is less variegated.
§ Sir F. NELSON
When it rises to 3,000, will the staff remain at the present figure, or will it be increased?
§ Sir P. SASSOON
I suppose it will rise to a certain extent, but the proportion will not be anything like what it is now. Then with regard to the shilling a day which the hon. Member said was spent week by week in the canteen, I believe it is not all spent in the canteen. At any rate, a certain amount of it is spent in paying for the tickets that the appren- 830 tices have to take when they go home. If they did not pay for them in that way, we would probably have to issue warrants.
§ Sir F. NELSON
I hope he will not think me unduly factious. Does it not not strike him that a shilling a day or 7s. a week pocket money for a boy of 15 is very large?
§ Sir P. SASSOON
It has been exhaustively gone into by people who are much more competent than myself. I do not think very much would be saved if that were taken away. We would probably have to pay for the warrants of these boys to their homes. As to the maintenance of an aerodrome there, it is not a very large aerodrome and the nearest aerodrome is 25 miles away. The officers on the staff have gone through a certain amount of flying, and if they had to go to an aerodrome 25 miles away there would be the expense in transport. Added to which, a very important side of the training of the apprentices is a certain period that is spent at the aerodrome learning to swing propellers, handle aeroplanes, and do all the duties which they must perform when posted to their various units. As regards fatigues, to which I think a hon. Member referred, if the apprentices themselves had to perform their fatigues, they could not, as a matter of fact, perform all their fatigues because certain orderlies have to remain all day in barracks. It would mean a certain amount of time taken away from training and probably me in an extension of their course.
§ Sir ROBERT HUTCHISON
I only want to intervene for a short time in this Debate to point out one or two things which have been already dealt with by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hallam (Sir F. Sykes). On the whole he ought to be very pleased that economies in State financies have slowed down the expenditure on the Air Force because undoubtedly it is giving the staff time to digest what was, in some cases, being hurried on too quickly. It should not be forgotten that the Air Force is a young 831 force, has got a young staff and, if I may be forgiven for saying so, is a one-man show and that one man can only tackle a certain amount at once. Therefore a very rapid development is bound in the end to lead to advancing on lines which experience would probably show are not the correct lines. For that reason I am glad it has been necessary to slow down the expansion from the 25 squadrons up to the 50 squadrons.
I was very glad indeed that the Prime Minister thought fit to make the statement he did in the House this afternoon, not because it is the right thing to say that the Air Force is a separate force-that I do not enter into at all—but it is undoubtedly true that the Air Force has suffered from the unsettling effect of a change of policy. They are never quite sure whether this service is going to continue as a separate service or not. Therefore this declaration by the Prime Minister is, I am sure, welcome by all who serve in that service and all who contemplate going into that service. I am one of those who think that possibly in a number of years the flying service may have to break up into its component parts. But at present, under the stress of developing our resources in the air, it is undoubtedly best to keep the service as a complete service, to develop to its completion as a unit.
I am not at all satisfied that the personnel of the Air Service will be able to continue as airmen. You have officers going now into the Air Force, young officers, and there is such a thing as air fatigue, both physical and mental. Undoubtedly, over a period of a few years, perhaps six to ten years, an officer becomes worn out from the point of view of actual air work, taking his part in the medium of the air. I am not at all sure that a linking up with the other services, both Army and Navy, may not be necessary from that point alone, because an officer who enters with all the vitality of youth may, when he becomes a moderately old officer, find that his services in the particular arm in which he has engaged have failed and that his services are no longer required. Therefore, it is worthy of thought whether it would not be better to employ officers from the Army, such as artillery officers and cavalry officers, and naval officers to do so many years' service and then go back to their arm. I 832 am satisfied, from my experience, that officers in the artillery and cavalry, who did some years of service like that, would be of greater value to their units when they came back.
This question of personnel is going to have a very serious effect on the entrants into the Air Force at present. If officers and men know, from the experience of those now serving, that their life in the Service is going to be a short one, there will be no encouragement for the best type of young man to go into the Service. The Ministry would be well advised to consult with the War Office and the Admiralty to see how far an interchange of officers could take place on a definite basis. We have all listened to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Hallam about the co-ordination of staff. I am not at all sure that what he recommends, with regard to giving executive power to the Committee of Imperial Defence, is really practicable. It may be that we will arrive at a Ministry of Defence, in which all the Services are concentrated under one head, but I for one see no immediate chance of such a change. I do think that there is a great chance, not only of saving money but of getting greater efficiency by combining or pooling the Administrative Services. The Air Service at the present moment, being a young Service, is naturally jealous of its prestige, and undoubtedly, if the Army or the Navy have certain frills, the Air Service will also want them. The Air Service would feel that whatever was granted to the other Services should also be granted to them.
For years, however, I have thought and have recommended, not only in this House, but outside to those people who have been in positions to listen, that administrative services like transport, clothing, the handling of food, the mobilisation of equipment, education, perhaps lands and buildings, which are common to the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, should be co-ordinated and so run much more cheaply than they are at present. Anyone who has had any experience of the services would admit that there is no reason why we should have different staffs for the transport branches of the three services: that is to say, different types of wagons, different personnel, and the duplication of various things connected with these. You have the same thing with 833 the supply services. You have there the necessary reserve of mobilisation equipment kept in the stores, and the thing is duplicated in the way I have suggested. But I do not require to elaborate once I name the matter. You have got hospitals and doctors, and you have a thousand and one things which are common to the services. Surely it is possible to institute what was instituted during the War on a sound and level basis, that is the position of a Surveyor-General of Supplies. Under him could be collected all the administrative services of the three arms, and there would be his representatives to which those concerned would apply from the various services for the necessary supplies. In that way this Surveyor-General of Supplies would be able, not only to co-ordinate supplies but to reduce the reserves, place contracts to the best advantage, standardise the various equipment, and thereby reduce the cost of production. The more different types you have in artillery wagons and things like that, the more costly they become. If you standardise them, as you could do under a single head, you would, I am sure, save a considerable sum of money—which we all want to save.
I would suggest that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary should pass on this idea to the Prime Minister and ask for some sort of Committee like we had after the South African War. When we came back from that war we realised that our Army system was wrong. We then formed what is known as the Esher Committee that went thoroughly into the matter, taking evidence from all sources and ultimately recommending the creation of a new form of control in the Army. It is time, I think, to form a similar Committee with wider terms of reference. It could inquire into how far they could co-ordinate and bring together the various administrative services of each arm at present duplicated. The Committee would see whether we could not get any advance towards co-ordination and so save money.
I do not want to criticise these Estimates in the least, but if there is one part I would offer a word of criticism about, it is Vote 3, where you have £500,000 less for technical equipment. Here, I think, you are going on dangerous ground, because it is common knowledge that our equipment is not as good as it 834 might be. If there is one thing we have to do it is to provide the very best equipment possible for our Air Force. It is only fair that those who go into the air should have the very best equipment for flying. It is a bad policy to keep bad machines. I do suggest that this economy—which I hope is only a temporary one—may be—shall I say—supervised and possibly done away with next year? At any rate, I voice, I am sure, the opinion of these benches when I say that although we stand for economy we do think the Ministry would be well-advised to give the very best equipment to the men who risk their lives in the air. We should scrap all dud equipment as soon as possible. I shall only conclude by saying that I was delighted to hear that our Air Service as as efficient as it is. I believe, so far as the efficiency of officers and men are concerned, they are second to none in the world. I do, however, think, a good deal of money could be saved by the better application of the principle of coordination in the administrative services.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I want in a very few words to reinforce almost every word that has fallen from the last speaker. I do not know if the Ministry are aware of the practically universal feeling throughout all the Services that sooner or later a Ministry of Defence will be necessary, and the sooner it comes the better for the Services. Everyone who has heard the Debate realises and recognises the moderate tone with which it has been conducted. No Member who has spoken has failed to pay a tribute, in some form or another, to the efficiency of the Air Force. Everyone knows it contains many officers and men who have done their best, and continue to do their best, for the Service, and also that their efficiency in the air is second to none. At the same time the charge of extravagance has not been met by the Under-Secretary in the speech which he made, nor was it in any way touched upon by the Minister in his speech. There can be economy secured without any loss of efficiency. I believe it can be secured, and it is well that the attention of the House should be directed to this extravagance. To all who are serving the facts are, of course, perfectly well known.
If you take the unit of a thousand men maintained and a £1,000,000 expended, 835 you find that in the Air Service the cost is, practically speaking, double what it is in the other Services. Take the administrative and secretarial staff. You find that the cost per £1,000,000 for the Air Service is £7,619, while for the Army It. is £3,382 and for the Navy £3,094. Taking it on the basis of a thousand persons, you find the comparison even worse, for in the Air Force the amount is £4,444, while in the Army it is £1,284, and in the Navy £1,932. In the matter of finance and accounts you get the same results. All the way through, as has been pointed out in the course of the Debate, and as in the matter of scholastic establishments, you find the comparison from the economic point inevitably as I have suggested. It is no answer to that charge of extravagance to say that the Air Force is efficient in the air. It is no answer to say that it is doing its best, and that we shake the confidence of the officers if we suggest any change. It is essential that we should have absolute economy in all our spending Services, and it is right that in this House Members should bring to the notice of the Minister their sense of the necessity for economy, and their knowledge that extravagance is going on and cannot be concealed.
I said the Debate had been conducted in very moderate terms, and so it has, with a possible exception of the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter). He, if I may borrow a word from the speech of the Minister, rather assumed to himself the part which the Minister called the "booster and supercharger," and I think that on the whole his speech lost by its violence. It was unworthy of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. It was unworthy of any Member of this House to cast a reflection on the Army, to talk about the Army making people wear spurs, as if the heads of the Army, even after the experience of the Great War, were so lost to all sense of self-respect as to put ceremonial beside efficiency. I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not mean it in an unworthy sense, but it was a little unworthy of him.
The suggestion of another hon. Member that the Air Service might be brought back into its component parts is not, on the whole, so ridiculous as the hon. and gallant Member appeared to think if 836 extravagance can be reduced, and if efficiency can be maintained by a change of that nature, which many officers in the Service and many Members believe to be inevitable in time unless there is a Ministry of Defence.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that we have already tried this plan? We have had a Naval wing and a Military wing, and the system did not work. It was very expensive, there was competition in personnel, in matériel, in engines and everything else, and that is why we now have a unified Air Service—because the other system was tried and failed.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
It is all very well for the hon. and gallant Member to say it did not work. It was with that organisation that, in the main, the War was won. The War was fought with the Service as it then was, and it is rather ridiculous to say that it did not work, when it did, in fact, for the first three years of the War carry all the strain thrown upon it by the greatest war in history. But I am in accord with the hon. and gallant Member in his advocacy of a Ministry of Defence as the best solution, and the Motion on the Paper standing in my name was put down with the intention of calling the attention of the House to the extravagance which is going on inside the Air Ministry, and in the hope that some explanation of that extravagance would be given. We are still awaiting an explanation of such figures as have been given for Alton, and figures such as those I have read out regarding the expenditure per million pounds and the expenditure per thousand men. We want explanations, also, of the fact that at Halton the administrative staff, apart from the instruction staff, in that small establishment is higher than the administrative staff for the whole of the Aldershot Command. There may be an explanation for these things, and we hope there is, but we have not yet heard it, and I think that, in the light of the facts submitted, we are justified, and more than justified, in bringing the matter to the attention of the House and asking for an explanation.
§ Mr. CHARLETON
I should not have intervened in this Debate but for some remarks by the Minister for Air this 837 afternoon. I was struck by the way in which he was apologising for being unable to give private firms as much work in the coming year as in past years. I was also somewhat alarmed when he told us that private firms are now allowed to make aeroplanes for markets abroad. We have at Farnborough a large area of land with acres of sheds, in which 24 designers and 87 draughtsmen, amongst other people, are employed, and where experiments are carried out. The hon. and gallant Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter), who has just gone out, said we got no return for our money. I had occasion to examine Farnborough in 1923, and I found that the experiments going on there were of a very useful nature. There was metal testing; there was a mechanical starter for aeroplanes; there were experiments with Diesel engines to obviate the necessity for the magneto; there was the "booster" we have heard so much about, and now there has been a statement by the Minister that we are on the verge of a new discovery. All that has gone on, I take it, at Farnborough. Then, last but not least, there is the famous helicopter. I saw that at a private view. I have had some mechanical training, as has also the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Mr. Rose), who asked a question about it yesterday, and when we conferred upon the helicopter we both agreed that we did not think it would work. I would like to tell the House that for the benefit of those who were to see it working in the shed canvas screens had been put up, in order that we should not get deluged with oil. It appeared to me, as one with some mechanical training, that we should want about as much oil as there is in Iraq to keep the thing going. Seeing how much oil was thrown about while it was in the shed, anyone could imagine how much it would need when it got outside.
Quite a large number of inventions and improvements in connection with aeroplane engines have been made at Farnborough. I would like to ask the Minister whether all these new inventions are patented, and, if not, why not? What is the position of these private firms? Are all the improvements and experiments that have been effected at an expenditure of public money handed over as a sort of free gift to 838 the private aeroplane makers, who, we are now told, are being allowed to manufacture for the rest of the world? The Minister said, and those in the Service agree, that we have the best aeroplanes in the world. These private firms are making these aeroplanes for our potential enemies, and as the hon. Member for Limehouse (Major Attlee) said, we shall be bombed by aeroplanes that are the best in the world, made by English firms, as the outcome of the experiments in our publicly-supported station at Farnborough.
I would like to know also whether the same method of purchasing machines is being pursued as was in operation when the Select Committee on Estimates took evidence on this matter. The Select Committee asked for tenders, and the answer was that there was only one tender. Of course, that is not an ideal system from the point of view of economy, because investigations are carried out, and the manufacturer is beaten down in his price to what is considered by the experts to be a fair price. It seems to me if we go on in that way it is like going to a cheapjack market, because the makers will put up the price in the first in stance when they know the expert will come round to knock something off. The result will be that you will have aeroplane rings, and instead of getting full value for your money you will find that out of the question, and you will have combines as a result, and firms out to make profit rather than to give efficiency.
I would like to ask how, under the present system, our experts can get their experience. At the present time we are not making aeroplanes on a large scale, and what guarantee have we that they are experts unless we know they have had some real experience. Under these circumstances we cannot feel that we are getting real satisfaction. I know it is argued that we are bound to keep the outside firms going in case of war. I should like to know whether, as in the case of the great shipping and armament firms, we are subsidising these aeroplane firms in order to keep them going in the slack times. Why not make aeroplanes ourselves? Why put them out to private enterprise where they make profit on them, and we have to buy them in a very blind sort of way. If we made the aeroplanes ourselves we 839 should save the cost of the experts, and the expense of sending people round to see that the work was being done according to the specification. The Government is the largest user of aeroplanes, and we want efficiency and security. As a nation we are doing all the research work in connection with aeroplanes, and it seems very foolish after we have spent our money in experimenting that the result of our experiments should be handed over to people outside who build the aeroplanes.
Not long ago I paid a visit to the Halton training ground, and I must say that, as one who has had a mechanical training, I was delighted with what I saw there. There was no such thing as a square peg in a round hole. The lads were tried at all angles, in order to see what they were particularly suited for, and if a lad could not get on at carpentering, he was put to the forge or some other trade, and I saw these lads doing some very good work. The officer pointed out to me that one lad who was doing such excellent work now had been a failure at three other jobs. I saw one job being done at this training centre, and a visitor said to the officer "If this was being done on my railway, we should do it by machinery." The officer replied: "Yes, but your machinery would not be in the Sahara Desert or on the plains of Iraq, and we are training these men to do the work without machinery." If we can produce such excellent mechanics, why do we not produce aeroplanes? If it were a case of war, we have the best trained men in the world and the best improvements, and it seems to me that it would be a very easy thing to build our own aeroplanes. Then we should not have to worry about knocking the manufacturer down in his price, or watching him closely to see that he puts the best stuff into his aeroplanes. If you want cheaper aeroplanes and the very best, and you want to keep the secrets as to how they are manufactured, it seems to me that we should make the aeroplanes, and not allow people for private profit to use the brains of the nation, in order to manufacture the best aeroplanes, and then enable other nations to use them against us.
§ Brigadier-General WARNER
I could net help feeling when I saw so many dis- 840 tinguished officers of the Air Force in this House how gratified they must have been to see the number of hon. Members rising in their places to speak on the Air Force, to take an interest in the subject we are debating this evening. In the explanatory Memorandum issued by the Minister of Air which is so lucid and clear, it is laid down that it is necessary to call a halt in the Home Defence Force because of the stringent necessity of keeping our finances in check, and also on account of the international situation. I think that besides the hon. and gallant Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter) I am the only Member in this House who considers that it is a mistake at the present time to stop the development of the Home Defence Force. On the last occasion when we had a debate on these Estimates, the hon. and gallant Member for South Hackney (Captain Garro-Jones) saidA well governed nation recognises that semi-security is a useless thing,and to-night I am wholly in agreement with the remarks he made, because we are a well-governed nation at the present time, and we have a magnificent Government. Therefore I think it is a mistake to jeopardise our safety in any way at present, by cutting down the plans which have been issued for an increase in our Home Defence Forces when we have had no practical gesture from any other country in the world in that direction.
In 1923 it was decided that it was necessary to keep up a force capable of meeting a strong force which was then, with its aeroplanes, within striking distance of this country. The Committee of Imperial Defence endorsed that decision, and it was decided that it would be necessary for this country to have 52 squadrons in the Home Defence Force. In 1924, the Under-Secretary in the Labour Government which was then in power also endorsed it, and said that they would carry on this policy. Let it be remembered that last year we rather reduced that Defence Force, and to-day we are calling a halt in these squadrons. The reason why we are calling a halt is that at the moment we have, as the Minister said, 25 squadrons in the Home Defence Force. But only 12 of those are regular squadrons. The other five are auxiliary squadrons, purely for training pilots, and, although in the organisation for this year we are to have one regular squadron 841 added from abroad, and two auxiliary squadrons formed, at the end of this year we shall only have for our Defence Force 21 squadrons, with a very small number of aeroplanes, as against the big force which is close at hand on the other side. Of course, we must allow that in our Air Force there is great efficiency, but efficiency cannot counteract swarms of aeroplanes and pilots from the other side in much greater numbers.
I will now turn to the personnel of the Flying Corps, because to-night we are talking on the Estimates, and the discussions to which I have listened have taken rather a wide range and gone off the subject. I welcome the formation of the two University squadrons, which I advocated when I spoke at this time last year. The hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Saklatvala), whom I see opposite me, said afterwards that it was rather a sinister plan—I cannot quite quote his words—to encourage at the Universities the formation of these squadrons. I can only say, having been in India for many years, having some of my greatest friends, with whom I still correspond, in India, and having served with troops out there, that the hon. Member for North Batter-sea would not have made that remark if he had known me personally. I thought that it was very necessary, if we were to develop the Air Service in this country, that we should draw upon those men who were most suited to fill the best positions in the Air Force later on, and that in that way, if we could endeavour at the Universities to create this spirit, we should be able to gather them in, not only for flying, but for the research work which is so necessary.
We owe to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir G. Butler) and the University authorities a very great debt for having started these squadrons, because, as I have said, when in the future they develop into really flying squadrons, and have the opportunities afforded by the aerodrome which is so close to Cambridge at Duxford, we shall get a splendid reserve of flying officers for the Royal Air Force, and, what is more, we shall in all probability develop flying as a sport in this country. That I consider to be one of the most necessary things that we can do. It is supposed to be a dangerous sport, but I asked a question not long ago in this House as 842 to the percentage of accidents in 1925 as compared with the previous year, and it must interest the House to know that the accidents, in comparison with the hours flown—because that is the only way in which you can get at a proper percentage and a proper basis—were 90 per cent. below what they had been.
The hon. Member for South Leeds (Mr. Charleton) referred to Halton Camp, and there has been some criticism to-night regarding the expense of training these young apprentices. I am all in favour of the training that these lads get there. They get the very best training that it is possible for any boys to obtain. They are not only trained in the line they choose to take up—that is to say, in engines, or in aircraft woodwork—but they also get a good and intelligent school education, they live a healthy life, and the idea that they spend all their time doing drills is absolutely wrong. I went there recently, and I found that the amount of drill they put in during the week is only four hours. I talked to many of them, and I consider that they are very fortunate to be undergoing this training. It must be looked at in this way, that, in recruiting and enlistment for the Air Force, it is necessary to get, not the skilled man of a trade who has only practised in that one branch of his trade, but the man who is capable of running an engine in circumstances, perhaps, where he is more or less by himself. He has to learn everything about it, and so there is very great difficulty in getting suitable men to enlist in the Air Force. Certain of these apprentices who go to Halton and who excel at their work and show special ability are selected, as I am sure the House knows, for cadetships, for which they get commissions at Cranwell. But, when I saw those boys there the other day, I was so struck with every one of them that I saw, that I recognised that they would form a fine basis of pilots for the Royal Air Force if, when they left there, they were given the opportunity of flying, and I would suggest to the Minister that every one of those boys who go through this apprenticeship, apart from those who go as cadets to Cranwell, should be given this advantage.
A great deal has been said in the papers about buildings, and about the houses which have been erected for the 843 Air Force. This is a new Force, and it is most necessary that the men who work in it should be given comfortable and proper conditions. We always talk a lot in this Chamber regarding housing conditions; why should you not look after the men who come to serve you in the Service, and do the best you possibly can for them? What is more, in these new stations, at present, there is a great want of housing accommodation for the married men. I asked a question about it the other day. You have the married men there, and there are not quarters in the barracks in which they can live, so they have to go out and live in the surrounding villages, and, as they are a bit better off than the land workers, they take up the places, which are rather overcrowded at present. Therefore, I am exceedingly keen that we should take no notice of these criticisms as to housing, and I would say to the Minister, "Go on with housing, and get your stations comfortable and properly settled, be cause, if you do that, you will not only have your men in the barracks, but you will be able to get your married people there." Why should they not live under those conditions?
But there is another matter. A lot of this money has been spent on the hangars, that is the sheds in which they keep the aeroplanes. Does it not stand to commonsense that when you have these highly-expensive machines you should house them in suitable buildings where they will not deteriorate? During the War the life of an aeroplane, which was not crashed or anything of that sort, but had to live out in the open and not in a proper covered house, was only about a month. Now it is three years, and I am sure by having these proper buildings to keep the aeroplanes in the life will be extended to four or five years, which will mean a great saving of money.
The effect of this slowing up in the Home Defence Force and the other portions of the Royal Air Force is likely to have a very bad effect on the aircraft manufacturing companies. Perhaps hon. Members are not all aware, as I am, that at the close of the War there were some 150 aircraft manufacturing companies, and these have gradually got whittled down until there are now about 20, 844 Those 20 are at present doing very well, but they are only doing well, as you heard the Minister say to-night, on the orders they are getting internally in this country.
For some reason or other—perhaps the aircraft companies blame the Government; perhaps they are to blame themselves—we see all over the world that the German companies, restricted as they are in the building of their aircraft, have somehow got in and taken the trade from us. I read recently in the "Argus," a paper published in South Africa, that a new company has been started there, the African Aero Company, which flies aeroplanes from Johannesburg to Cape Town and to Durban. They get a subsidy of £8,000 a year from the Government, and the aeroplanes employed are German built. There seems to be something wrong when you discover foreign aeroplanes in these countries. We build the best aeroplanes in the world—there is no doubt about that—but they come and filch what should by rights be ours. This very same German company, I believe, is endeavouring to get in in the West Indies on the service that is going to be worked to Columbia and Venezuela. There are great possibilities for aviation within the Empire. Anyone who has been in Canada recognises that they do all their surveys there now over the great lakes by aeroplane. In Australia it has also been recognised.
How are we to help these companies in this country who will suffer from the Air Force not requiring so much material from them? Could the Minister not summon a conference of representatives from these different countries, simply to discuss the question of aviation and to secure that when they place their orders, as they do many other orders, those orders should come to this country? These German companies are subsidised, but I am sure, if the brains of our Air Ministry and the brains of the gentlemen who come from overseas are put together, some way might be discovered of helping the aircraft manufacturing companies, which will be very necessary to tide over the time for the present when we do not want to order so much material from them. The Minister referred to scientific development. At present the research work is limited to Farnborough and one or two 845 other stations. Might I suggest the feasibility of helping, by some of this money that is granted for research work, some of these private firms. Some of them have their designers and their draftsmen, but they may have among them brains which have not thoroughly developed because people have not got the chance. They have not the money to do it. If some of this money that is voted for research work could be diverted to some of these private companies, we should probably be great gainers.
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
In the midst of the interesting details with which hon. Members have been dealing during the last hour or two I am afraid the issues of this Debate have been lost sight of. I have no doubt that it is extremely important that the proper education of the apprentices of the Air Force, and proper provision of housing, and these other questions should be thoroughly ventilated. I hope the great enthusiasm which has been shown by some hon. Members opposite for effective education may cross over to other quarters and that education will be provided for some of our apprentices in other walks of life, and that proper housing accommodation will be provided for those upon whom ultimately the welfare of this country depends. We shall, however, have opportunities to discuss those matters in connection with other Votes. The matter we are discussing to-night is, roughly speaking, an increase of £500,000 to a net Air Estimate already about £16,000,000. This increase is to be provided under the apparent delusion that it is to secure the defence of the country. The right hon. Gentleman insisted that this was the first duty of the Air Force, I wish he had stayed longer to examine that question more closely, and I wish some of the experts who have followed him had given some time to it.
We are already spending, if we take the average expenditure per family, on the defence of the country, by one arm alone, the Navy, £7 per family per annum. By this vote we shall be spending another 35s. per family per annum to secure the defence of the people in time of war. No one knows better than the members of the Government, particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that if ever the contingency arises in which these so-called weapons of defence 846 are required to be used, you might just as well have armed the people with sticks and stones from the point of view of any effectiveness that will be obtained. That is the charge that we make against the Government in connection with the Estimates now put forward. The Committee is engaged in a sorry game of make-believe. We have the lives of the people as the pawns. We are pretending to prepare for a game of chess, which will be played not according to rules but played in a tornado, and the pawns will be swept off the board when the tempest begins. You will not secure the defence of the people by £16,000,000 spent on the Air Force, or even if you quadrupled the £16,000,000 now proposed.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has a particularly clear idea of what it is that confronts us. Speaking at Bolton recently, he referred to the fact that the peace of Locarno had been the greatest contribution towards preventing a recurrence of a catastrophe which, he said, if it were repeated would mean the destruction of civilisation. He did not tell that Bolton audience that if the catastrophe were repeated he was providing 16 million pounds for an Air Force to guarantee their defence and 60 millions for a Navy which would guarantee their defence. He knew the truth and stated it, that if the catastrophe recurred for which this Air Force is being prepared, defence becomes a sheer impossibility. I remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer on one occasion making a point in connection with the Naval Estimates, that we were justified in spending the enormous sum of money that we then agreed upon, because we had to keep the one-Power standard. He said that we must be prepared to meet the strongest enemy that we might be likely to confront. What was true of the Navy then will be true of the Air Force; in fact it will be doubly true of the Air Force. The Under-Secretary of State for Air, in a lecture which he has been giving recently in Brussels, if I may quote from a report in the "Times," said:The fact that Great Britain was an island was more of a danger than a protection in the event of aerial war.If it be true that because of our insular position that the enormous expenditure which has been agreed upon in regard to the Navy is necessary, then, according to the Under-Secretary's findings, it is 847 infinitely more true that a much greater sum should be spent if anything like the minimum of defence is to be provided.
Let me examine the scheme of defence a little more closely from the point of view of the experts. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, lecturing on the subject of the Air Force as a means of defence, at Cambridge, some time ago, made this statement:The aeroplane is the most offensive weapon yet invented, but a shockingly bad weapon of defence. Yet aeroplanes are the only defence against aeroplanes, and it is doubtful whether any other defensive weapon will take its place for a hundred years. Although it is necessary to have some defence in order to maintain the moral of our people, it is far more necessary to lower the moral of the enemy people, for nothing else can end war.During the last debates on this question I brought to the notice of the Air Minister the official view of our military headquarters regarding the use of weapons of war in the event of another war. In the Army Regulations it is stated that it is the duty of commanders to bring to bear such pressure upon the enemy civilian population that at the earliest moment they will press their Governments to sue for peace. According to this expert opinion, the only use to which our Air Force will be put in another war will not be to secure the defence of our own land, but to bring pressure to bear upon the enemy civilian population. I ask that a little closer attention should be paid to the question of the defence of our towns by air weapons. One hon. Member has asked the Air Minister whether there have been effective arrangements to defend a certain part of London. The Air Minister, quite rightly according to the rules, replied that it was not in the public interest to say what had been done for this area or that area. If the Air Minister had felt himself free to give a full and unvarnished statement of the position, he knows that no part of London is secure in the case of another war. That is the charge I bring against the Government in connection with these Estimates.
With the development of high speeds and explosives, with the use of poison gases and of germs, there cannot be any sure guarantee in the case of another war that the security of our people can be obtained. The difficulty you would 848 be in, and I believe the military experts fully agree with this view, would be not merely that you would be pre-occupied with the defence of London, but with the defence of 100 other towns, which it is equally important should be considered from the defensive point of view. You would be pre-occupied with the question of the defence of your means of communication, from the point of view of the mobilisation of your armies and your supplies. You would have so many places to provide for that only by an extremely superior Air Force could you guarantee any sort of defence against those who might launch an attack on you.
The Government have practically admitted this evening that the countries near to us are, in several instances, superior in the numbers of their aeroplanes. France has twice as many or more than twice as many. I see from the reports of what is taking place in America that the House Naval Affairs Committee has proposed a five-years scheme for aircraft building at an expenditure of £20,000,000, the Committee having in mind the creation of 100 new planes. Italy is contemplating a similar addition. France, although so superior in numbers, also proposes to make considerable additions to her fleet. In view of these things, how can the right hon. Gentleman leave so easily that which he said was the first duty of the Air Fleet, namely, to provide the air defence which the people have had promised to them? I submit that what actually is taking place is that more and more people in our land are realising the truth of what the then Under-Secretary of State for Air said so well in this House on 11th March, 1924:The first people to bear the brunt of an attack upon the security of these islands will be the man and woman in the streets going about their round of daily business It will be the ordinary citizen whose lungs will be the first to be affected by poison gas, whose body will be rent, and whose home will be destroyed by the bombs of the invaders. I think the ordinary elector is beginning to realise with acute anxiety this new fact of war."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th March, 1924; cols. 2232 and 2233, Vol. 170].I can assure the Air Minister that the electors of this country have had no assurance given to them by the Debate to-night, or by the proposals of the Government, that if another war should come anything like security has been obtained 849 for them. I therefore plead, as I have done so often in these Debates regarding military preparedness, that we would be far wiser if we cast off all fooling and told our people the simple truth, that the weapons of war have been so developed by science that you will never again use them for the purpose of defence. They have got out of human control, and if humanity is to be saved from a catastrophe which will overwhelm us all, it cannot be saved by the expenditure of either £16,000,000 or £116,000,000 upon an Air Service. There can only be an addition to a confusion which becomes worse confounded by all the efforts which you make in this direction. Unless we can make the Locarno spirit a reality instead of a pretence, unless we can secure by agreement, if it be possible, or, if not by agreement, by enterprise on our own behalf, and by setting the example ourselves, a reduction of the armaments with which we are surrounding ourselves, we face the greatest catastrophe that the world's history has known. I hope that as the electors realise more and more the truth of these things, as the Under-Secretary for Air in 1924 suggested, at last we shall get a state of mind in this country which will give us a Government that has courage to travel in the direction for which I have pleaded.
§ Captain BRASS
I agree with the last remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, as far as the Locarno spirit is concerned. I only hope that at an early date we may be able to have some conference on disarmament, and may in that way be able to reduce all armaments all over the world. But until that time comes, I do not think we are quite wise in saying that there is no defence against a hostile Air Force. It may be true, as was said by Air-Marshal Trenchard, that the only defence against a hostile attack is an offensive. Personally, I think that that is a certain amount of defence. I feel that if we have a large number of mobile squadrons in the vicinity of any area that is to be attacked, especially squadrons with fighters and scouts, it will be very difficult for some of the hostile bombers to drop their bombs in the places in which they want to drop them, when there is a swarm of other aircraft fighting them in the way in which they would undoubtedly be fought if they came to attack this 850 country. The hon. and gallant Member for Limehouse (Major Attlee) said that we had an Air Force because someone else had an air force, and that he considered it was international snobbery. I wonder what he would have said if we had not had a Navy and an Army and an Air Force before the last War? I wonder what the position of the hon. and gallant Member, and of all hon. Members, would have been, if we had taken up that position before the last War? We should not have been here, I am afraid.
Before saying one or two words about the Air Force, I would like quite humbly to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Air on the very explicit statement which he has made. We have been attacked in various quarters. I am thinking more of the attack in the Press about the Air Force, which is now called and quite wrongly called, a ground force. We must remember that the Air Force is a developing force, as the Under-Secretary has said, and that through the development stages we must build new aerodromes and have a large number of people on the ground during the process of the construction of an efficient defensive force. If an airman is to be an efficient airman he has to be trained on the ground. It must be remembered that we cannot do fighting, bombing, map-reading and other things up in the air. It is absolutely essential, if we are to have an. efficient Air Force, to have schools in the aerodromes where pilots and observers are taught the things that are necessary when they get up in the air. They have to be taught bombing. They can learn that on the ground. They have to be taught photography, fighting, reconnaissance, spotting for guns, navigation and wireless. They have to be taught all these things on the ground. It is necessary in that way that they should be on the ground during a certain time.
I do not believe in the theory that every airman should spend a certain amount of time in the air. I do not think it is a right policy. I do not think an airman should necessarily be an air-taxi driver. There is no reason why he should not spend only that amount of time in the air which could teach him to fly in the way he ought to fly, and teach him to fight and do all the necessary things that become an airman and are necessary for the particular part he is going to take. 851 Some people have an idea that the only way you are going to judge the efficiency of the Air Force is to find out how many hours each pilot has flown during a year. That is a perfectly ridiculous system. It does not show whether the Air Force is efficient or not. What we want to know, and I want to ask the Secretary of State for Air one or two questions, is whether the Air Force, for which we have to pay £15,000,000 this year, is really an efficient force. I would rather have a quite small efficient Air Force with efficient machines and officers than a large Air Force with a large number of rather dud machines, and a lot of officers who have done merely flying and have not gone into the question of bombing, fighting, and so on. What we want is a really efficient Air Force.
I am told—I do not know if it be true—that some of the squadron leaders, and flight commanders in the Air Force, spend too much time in checking stores and doing a lot of paper work. They have to go into all sorts of things, and as a result of that they are not able to fly as much as they normally would do. I want to ask my right hon. Friend why it is that the number of flight commanders and flight flying officers in this year's Estimates has gone down by 150? If you look at page 6, Vote 1, you will see that the reduction in the number of flying officers is 150, while the wing commanders, on the other hand, have gone up by 6. I presume—I may be wrong—that the reason why the number of wing commanders has gone up, is because we are forming in this country a large number of extra squadrons and building a lot of extra aerodromes to take those squadrons, and as the result of that we shall require an increased number of wing commanders.
Another question which I want to ask my right hon. Friend is whether the officers of the Air Force are going through a very large number of courses? I remember at one time it was the practice in the Air Force to send officers to courses of different kinds. The result of that was that every officer was a sort of jack of all trades and master of none. He went to all sorts of places and through all sorts of courses, and at the end of that time he came back, having rather a muddled mind and understanding a little 852 about many things but not a great deal about one particular thing. I hope that is not the case at the present time. There is another point which should be raised, that is the question of how many bombing crews we have, and whether we are really teaching our Air Force officers to do the things which they will be expected to do in the event of war. Do we teach them not so much actual art of flying, but do we teach them bombing, enough bombing, do we teach them to fight in the air and use the photographic gun? That I think is a very important thing. I was told some time ago that a certain number of hours had to be flown and also that pilots had to use the photographic guns for a certain number of hours in the year. I am afraid I do not quite agree with that policy. It may be a right policy or it may not. It depends to a very large extent as to whether the man behind the gun understands what he is doing. First of all, he has to go through the course of fighting on the ground and understand that, and the photographic part of it. When he has done that, then he may be useful in that particular exercise. But to make every air officer, whether he really understands that particular business or not, pass through a certain process of taking photographs seems to me to be rather a waste of money if it is done in that way.
I want to know whether the Air Force is really a mobile force. I wonder if the Air Ministry has ever considered having an alarm of an air raid, and what would happen if it was suddenly announced that hostile aircraft were coming over this country and were going to attack London. I wonder whether that has ever been thought of as far as an exercise is concerned, so as to try to get the Air Force as mobile as possible to concentrate at one particular place. The air raid might be planned to take place in the Midlands; it might be planned to take place over the London area; but wherever it was planned to take place, I do think it would be a good exercise for the Air Force, as far as their mobility was concerned, and their ability to grapple with that state of affairs if, unhappily, it should arise in this country. I make the suggestion to my right hon. Friend that manœuvres of something of that kind should be considered by the Air Ministry.
I want to know what is happening to the ex-service pilot, the men who fought 853 during the War in the Air Force, who got a temporary commission in 1919 and who, after his temporary commission lapsed, was forbidden or unable to get a permanent commission and had to go to the reserve. That seems to me to be rather an unfair way of treating officers of the Air Force who were pilots during the War. I understand—I stand to be corrected—that about one-fourth of the officers who served during the War as flying officers and who since that time have got temporary commissions in the Air Force, hold permanent commissions in the Air Force at the present time. I wonder whether the principle of having a short-service commission is really good for the esprit de corps of the Air Force. We have a young fellow joining the Air Force quite young and he gets a temporary commission for five years. It is not like an officer going into the Army or the Navy. A boy who goes into the Navy hopes one day to be an admiral; a boy who goes into the Army hopes one day to be a Field-Marshal; but a boy who goes into the Air Force with a temporary commission for five years, does not entertain the expectation of becoming an Air-Marshal. Therefore, I ask, Are we going to get by this system the right type of individual in the Air Force and when they are in the Air Force are they going to have the same esprit de corps as that which is shared by officers in the Army or the Navy? I am afraid it is not likely. The system of short-service commissions leads a boy to think less about the future of the Air Force than about his own future.
What is to happen to such a young officer at the end of the five years? He is paid very well during his service, and at the end of the time he may be fortunate enough to get a permanent commission, but it is more likely he will not get a permanent commission. He has then to seek work elsewhere, and the result is that officers holding temporary commissions cannot put their heart and soul into the work of the Air Force. Air Force officers are paid higher than officers of the same rank in the Army or Navy. That is perfectly right because there is a greater risk attached to the work of an air pilot than to the work of an officer in the Army or Navy, but when these young men leave the Air Force at the end of five years, they may have acquired 854 a certain amount of extravagance and they now expect to get positions of a better kind than they will be able to get. The Minister might consider if, instead of giving high rates of pay to young flying officers, it would not be better to keep back some of the money and give it as a grant to these officers when they are leaving the Force. On the question of the unified Service, which has been raised by a number of hon. Members, it seems to me rather strange that we should have a Director of Operations in the Navy and the Army and the Air Force and that the Navy should always get fresh meat while it is not considered necessary for the other Services. I understand that in the Navy fresh meat is alway supplied now.
§ Captain BRASS
I am glad to be corrected if I am wrong in that particular, but I suggest that, before we go into the question of unification, the Report of the Colwyn Committee should be placed before Members of the House. I understand that Committee went into the finance of this question in order to see whether there was extravagance or not, and it would be a good thing if we could have that Report. I hope the Minister will take into account what I have said and will answer the questions which I have put, even if they have seemed to be in a slightly critical spirit.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for Air and the hon. Baronet the Under-Secretary of State for Air have defended their Department with great skill this afternoon, but they have failed to convert me to their point of view. I do not share in gibes against the Air Force. I do not blame the people in the Air Force, because they are only the victims of the system, and the system is wrong. The Air Force has a small but efficient flying service, and the rest of it is glorified welfare work. It is very nice to have these thousands of picked young men of good education, and so on, and to put them through an intensive training as mechanics and aircraft apprentices; it is very nice to have new barracks and camps and hangers, and so on; it is delightful to see that we have a dental squadron leader, and dental flight lieutenants, and also the Air Force's own parti- 855 cular nursing system under an air chief matron. But the net result is that we have 20 regular squadrons for home defence of about 12 machines each, or about 230 in all, and a reserve of only about 100 per cent. Not counting the machines which we have in Iraq and which we must keep in Egypt and India, that means that at the outbreak of a war we could put in the air only 600 or at the most 700 machines in the first few days as against 4,500 French machines.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The right hon. Baronet shakes his head. I take his own figure. He says he hopes to have 25 squadrons of 12 each, and I say the reserve is only about 100 per cent. and I do not see where he can get more than 700 machines at the outside. According to figures given in a Presidential Report in the United States, the French first line and reserves in the first few days of a war are calculated to produce 4,500 machines. And, as for being the second Air Power in the world, I differ with the right hon. Baronet, and say that is absolute nonsense. From the same Report I find that Italy is calculated to have about 2,000 machines on the same basis, the United States about 1,400, Japan 1,300, and ourselves about 1,050.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
It was presented a few weeks ago. If it is not correct then let us have the actual figures. The Minister has his own intelligence department, and as these figures have been given to the United States Senate, why cannot we have a similar report in this House? I am certain that the policy laid down in 1923 by the Conservative Prime Minister—the same right hon. and much-esteemed Gentleman who now occupies the position—namelya home defence force of sufficient strength, adequately to protect us against air attack by the strongest air force within striking distance of this country—has not been followed out and is not being followed out. The right hon. Gentleman, at Colchester, on the 17th October, 1923, then, as now, adorning the office of Minister of Air, used these words:The British air power must include a home defence force of sufficient strength 856 adequately to protect us against air attack by the strongest air force within striking distance of this country.And the right hon. Gentleman has not carried out that policy. He has deliberately departed from it, because of Locarno. Have the French cut down their Air Force because of Locarno, or the Italians, or the Americans? Of course not. The fact is, in cold truth, that if the Navy had been played the fool with like this, and let down in this way—because, remember, we had the finest Air Force in the world at the end of the War, and we have allowed it to melt away—and if we had a naval strength one-third that of our nearest neighbour and greatest potential opponent—I am not talking of politics, but of strategy—if the Navy had been let down in this way, and if we were the third or fourth Naval Power in the world to-day, the Government would not last 14 hours, and the Minister responsible would probably be hanged by the mob. It is only because the country does not understand the awful terrors and horrors of an air attack, and the way in which this new force can leap over armies and navies and wipe out the means of communication and of replenishment of the beaten Air Force, that this sort of thing can go on. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Locarno?"] I mentioned Locarno just now, and I asked whether the French were cutting down their Air Force because of Locarno, or the Italians, and the answer is, of course, in the negative.
The fact is that if we are not going, with this very great and rising expenditure, to get a force that, if it cannot defend the country, can at any rate hold out such a terror of reprisals that nobody dare attack us, it would be much better to disband the whole thing, to disarm completely, to save the money, to reduce taxes, to strengthen our financial position, and to help our trade and commerce. If we are not going to get security, it is ridiculous to spend £16,000,000 on a glorified welfare service, because that is what it comes to. The hon. Baronet the Member for Hythe (Sir P. Sassoon) talked with great feeling about the poor officers in Iraq who are living in houses made of packing cases and petrol tins and all that kind of thing. I feel very sorry for them. but I notice that he does not do it, that he 857 does not live in such places at all. The Minister and he were not content with offices at Adastral House, but must needs take Gwydyr House in Whitehall. I dare say a good case can be made out for it, and it is more convenient to be near Westminster and in the Whitehall area, which gives a certain prestige which does not attach to other districts, but it must be extremely inconvenient to have these two offices, and before the expense at Adastral House was incurred I think the hon. Baronet might have seen that his beloved airmen in Iraq and at home were adequately housed in stone buildings, if these stone buildings are necessary for their comfort.
The whole system is wrong. In France they do not have these vast ground forces. All the mounting guard, the fatigues, the officers' servants, and so on, are provided by the Army or Navy, as the case may be, and we ought to do the same in this country. I know it requires a great change in organisation to do anything like the same thing here, but I do not want to interfere with the independence of the Air Force at all. I want it to be an independent strategical force, and I think it will become the most important force in our whole defensive system, but I want it confined only to what is required for flying, fighting, research, and the proper equipment and outfitting of the force. The hon. and gallant Member for Hallam (Sir F. Sykes) made a speech that has not been answered, and that was indeed unanswerable, in reference to this particular question. The vast ground army that is complained about should be drawn from men not specially entered and trained for flying. That is where the waste comes in.
With regard to the question of drilling, let me draw the attention of the Air Minister to the fact that the Air Service has too slavishly copied the Army and Navy in non-essentials. It is a great mistake too rigidly to discipline and drill mechanics. The mentality required for a mechanic is very different from the mentality required for a foot soldier. We found that out in the Service in regard to the engine-room artificers. After a man becomes a qualified mechanic, the more infantry drill you give him and the more mounting of the guard and parade ground drill and ceremonial you give him, 858 the worse mechanic he will become. It will sicken him of his job. The mentality required in a man to look after an aeroplane engine is very different from that required in a man who is trusted to be a smart sentry on guard outside an Air Marshal's country residence. Honestly, we found that out in the Navy. We have in the Navy the very finest engineer-artificers in the world, and we never think of giving them any unnecessary drill. We look upon them as artificers and as men whose soul and life are in their engines, and we object to them forming fours and drilling all day long. It really spoils them.
That is the fault of the Air Service as I see it to-day, and the net result is an immediate fighting force of about one-third that of the nearest striking air force within reach of our shores, and a going back on the policy laid down and indorsed by all Governments since 1923, even the Government of my hon. Friends above the Gangway, who were practical in office, and yet this policy has been departed from by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Air. I repeat that it would be much better to save the whole of the money and strengthen the finances of the country instead of spending over £16,000,000 on a force which gives us neither security nor, at present, the hope of security.
§ Captain REID
I listened to the very interesting speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air earlier in the Debate, and must say I appreciated what he was able to tell us. The only cause for criticism that I might have was more in regard to what he left unsaid than in regard to what he said. While he was speaking, I could not help feeling that had he been a back bencher, a free lance, like myself, we might have had some of his innermost thoughts upon the situation. Anyhow, I am a free lance, and, consequently, I am going to be presumptuous enough to guess at some of those things which the right hon. Gentleman left unsaid.
Having spent a considerable portion of my career as an active flying officer in the Air Force, I naturally take a great interest in the subject, and approach it, perhaps, from the pilot's point of view. I think, perhaps, the best way to approach my objective would be to state the fact that this country strategically is 859 peculiarly situated from a geographical point of view, and even though in the future we had a greatly decreased Army and a greatly decreased Navy, the fact would remain that, provided we had a larger Air Force and an efficient Air Force, we would in that case be free from all hostile attacks. It so happens that we are in a position different from that of any other country, inasmuch as we are completely surrounded by water, and I often wonder why it is we do not take more advantage from the fact. Other countries have not the same necessity as ourselves to take full advantage of it. Perhaps I may cite, as an example, Italy. We have only to look at the map, and we see that Italy geographically is very similar to ourselves inasmuch as she is wholly surrounded by water, except for her northern territory. Signor Mussolini, evidently recognising the importance of the air arm, recently has concentrated upon the Air Force, to the presumed disadvantage both of the Italian Navy and the Italian Army.
If we turn to France, we find that she is now leading the whole world as far as air record is concerned. Only last year she spent no less than £450,000 on subsidising her civil aviation. On the other hand, we, who during the War led the whole world as air pioneers, only intend to subsidise our civil aviation to the extent of £127,000 in the forthcoming year. If we turn to so-called bankrupt Germany, we find that last year that country spent no less than £244,000 upon her civil aviation—the country that is supposed to be down and out—and I understand that her machines are increasing to an alarming extent. I am told on good authority that it will only be a matter of a few years before German civil aviation machines will be more extensive in number than our own military machines. I understand that we at present have a matter of 710 aeroplanes, that is including all those which are stationed in Iraq and Egypt, and also those that are attached to the Army.
I should like to impress upon the House of Commons this somewhat important situation, that every one of those German machines, which are growing in number every month, can, with a few hours' work expended upon them, be rapidly converted into hostile raiding machines. You have 860 only to fix a bomb-rack and a machine-gun and they are ready for active service. An even more serious consideration, of which, I think, we are sometimes inclined to lose sight, is that if a colossal hostile fleet of machines were allowed to come over to this country, or rather this city, unhindered, that war, so far as we are concerned, would be over in a very few hours, to our disadvantage. As has already been said by speakers, all our communications would be broken. It would be impossible to send out mobilisation orders of any sort; in fact, there would be chaos throughout the country, as London is somewhat peculiarly situated and is different from the capital of any other country, inasmuch as it is the key to the whole Empire.
I know it can be argued that we are not in a position to prevent it, because even if we had as many machines as any other country, the fact remains that the hostile raiding machines could get over our shores before we could get up to their height and prevent them. That may be so, but as a pilot I somehow feel that if one were told that one had to raid a certain objective, unless there was a very good opportunity of getting back, one would never be prepared to start. And, after all, in warfare, as so many hon. and gallant Members in this House know, it is the moral effect that is so extremely important.
Many hon. Members will remember, towards the end of the last hostilities, those mysterious suspended aprons which came along, and I may explain in a few words to those who do not remember about it what that means. As soon as hostile aircraft was approaching our shores, the fact was immediately communicated to headquarters in London, and their approximate height. Immediately captive balloons were sent up in a certain area of London, and between those captive balloons were suspended nets, the principle being that you could catch the hostile oncoming machines as you could catch fish in a fishing net.
I agree that no machines were ever caught, but the authorities were, on that occasion, extremely clever. They told everybody that these suspended nets existed, and, at the same time, told everyone to keep it a dead secret. The result was that in a very few hours the whole world knew of it, and that was exactly 861 what the authorities wanted. They wanted the Germans to know, and if one examines the annals of the Air Force, one finds that after the system of suspended nets was started, no German machines actually came over the heart of London. Time and again they raided our shores, but the German bombers, feeling that discretion was the better part of valour, dropped their bombs on the countryside, and returned to their posts, no doubt telling excellent stories of how they bombed Buckingham Palace and the War Office, apparently leaving out the Houses of Parliament in case of severe reprimand. I only mention that to show how important is the moral factor in war.
I would like to mention that it is very difficult to discuss air policy without making a comparison between the Air Force and the Army and the Navy. This is a question that has interested me ever since the War, and I have come to one or two conclusions on the subject which may not be in accord with the conclusions of every hon. Member in this House. As far as I can see it in the future, the main reason for our having such an extensive Army as we have at the moment is to fight other people's battles. As for the Navy, the naval experts tell us that they are quite capable of protecting our shores, and I presume that is the reason why we have such an extensive Navy, as a much smaller Navy would do to protect our trade. A growing percentage of people, however, are realising that the wars of the future are going to be in the air, especially 10 years ahead, and we have got to look 10 years ahead. That being so, what use are a large Army and so expensive a Navy going to be to us for raids made in the air? Even if these shores should be attacked in the old romantic way by means of a hostile fleet. I am not so sure that the best way to meet it would not be from the air by means of our machines. We have seen the interesting experiment that one machine can put out of action entirely the largest battleship, and these conclusions make me think that undoubtedly in 10 years from now the main use of our Fleet will be to act as a target for hostile machines, hostile submarines and mines.
I make this suggestion in all seriousness. I look forward to the time—in fact, it is my ambition—when the Air Force, as far as the number of aeroplanes 862 is concerned, will be double the strength it is now. I go further than that and I say that I also look forward to the time when both the Army and the Navy are at the same time decreased in size. That, no doubt, may seem a somewhat sweeping statement. Let me qualify it if I can. Looking at it from the material point of view, it means that we can carry out considerable disarmament at a saving to the nation of millions of pounds. It is recognised that both the Army and the Navy cost considerably more than the Air Force. More than that, the Air Force is the only Service whose experience and progress is of advantage to us materially and commercially; that is to say, in civil aviation. It is quite different to the other Services in that respect. If I may turn for a moment to the practical side we have got to remember that we have got to think of all contingencies, and that if in the future it should ever be necessary for this country to assert herself in Europe, I sometimes feel that the best way of doing it would be for our augmented and efficient air fleet to make a visit to the capitals of the countries concerned, and I am convinced that that would put a very different complexion upon any argument.
It was during the Armistice that I acted as staff captain to Air Marshal Sir John Salmond. I remember on one occasion it was necessary for me in the course of my duty to fly from Cologne to Brussels, from Brussels to Paris and from Paris to London. This was done with ease in one day. I merely mention this to emphasise how extremely mobile is the aeroplane these days. If in future wars we have to send our infantry and also our artillery to a range of 400 miles from this coast, just as we did in 1914, it would take them days, if not well over a week, to do it, whilst our aircraft could do the same journey in a little over three hours. That is a good comparison showing the mobility of the Air Force these days. Many of us must have been struck by the fact, looking through the history of this land, that Great Britain in the past has seldom won a war before she has practically lost it. I do not think we can bank on our good fortune or, shall we say, our stoutness of heart in that direction very much longer. After all, times move much more rapidly than they used to. When in years to 863 come I retire from being the father of the House, and my only occupation no doubt will be drinking port—provided I can afford it—and blaming the Socialist party for my gout, I have no ambition to be one of the "I told you so" brigade. I want to see us realising the importance of this arm. I want to see us moving with the times, and really at the moment getting ourselves in the position to meet such an attack as I have suggested.
Only a few days ago I remember that Members worked themselves into a frenzy about the proposed, or supposed, future raiding of the Road Fund. I only wish just a quarter of the same amount of thought was given to the future raiding of these shores. It is high time we put away our antiquated conceptions and got down to solid bed rock on this particular subject. It is for that reason that I claim that it is no good the Pacifists saying that we must have disarmament, because unless we have complete disarmament the only way to prevent war will be to be prepared for war. It is a platitude, but it is none the less a true platitude, and there is no getting away from it. It is for that reason that I have suggested that we should greatly increase the size of our Air Force, and at the same time decrease the size of the other Forces. I feel that that has many advantages. We will have achieved considerable disarmament at a saving of millions of pounds to this country without any loss of security, and in fact with a great addition to the security of this land. Last but not least, I look forward to when once again this country can lead the whole world as an air pioneer both in regard to civil and military aviation.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I think it would be a convenience to the House if I now attempted to answer some of the questions that have been raised in the course of the Debate. Let me say, at the outset, how grateful I am to the House for the good nature with which they have made any criticisms that they felt bound to make and fox the reception they have given to my Estimates. The Debate has covered a very wide ground and, I suppose owing to the fact that my Estimates are the first of the Service Estimates, certain general questions have been raised upon them, affecting not the Air Ministry in particular or 864 the fighting Services generally but indeed the whole policy of the Government. There is, for instance, the great question of disarmament that has been raised by Member after Member, particularly by hon. Members sitting on the benches opposite. Quite obviously that is not a question with which I can deal in any detail in a Debate of this kind Let me only assure the House that we are just as anxious to see a reduction of the great expenditure on armaments as any hon. Gentleman opposite. So far as I myself am concerned, realising as one is bound to have realised, if one is brought in daily contact with them, the horrors of air warfare, there is nothing I would like to see better than a restriction of air warfare and air armaments over the whole of Europe.
There was the other big question of scarcely less importance which was raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Ton-bridge (Lieut.-Colonel Spender Clay)—the question of a Ministry of Defence. There again, that is a question for the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and one on which I as one of the Service Ministers, and speaking for the Air Ministry obviously could not make any pronouncement. But I can say this, that I shall certainly convey to the Prime Minister the arguments the hon. and gallant Gentleman used, and add the fact that they were supported by hon. Members in every quarter of the House. It was quite obvious, in the course of the Debate, that there is a growing feeling in all questions of the House for much closer co-operation between the three Services than at present exists. To-night I can only make these two passing observations. The first is that I believe that in pressing the case for co-ordination my hon. and gallant Friend is pressing an open door. So far as my Department is concerned one wishes to see the closest possible co-operation between the Services and also between the three Chiefs of Staff. I am inclined to think that the best line of advance is to push forward the movement that already exists, and which will make sure of every great question of defence being first considered by the three chiefs of staff not as individuals but collectively. Secondly—and this is the only other observation I would venture to make—I am of opinion that before you can have a centralised Ministry of Defence you must 865 have a greater community of feeling between the Services themselves. You must build up from below this greater community of feeling, whether by the lessening of duplication in the Administrative Departments or by the making of the relations closer between the two Services than they are at present. The starting point is that of creating a common feeling in favour of much closer co-ordination than exists at present. Then we shall see something coming into being which may more fully meet my hon. Friend's suggestion. In any case, I will undertake to tell the Prime Minister that hon. Members on all sides of the House have pressed for this closer co-operation.
There has been a series of questions put to me by hon. Members in connection with the administration of the Air Ministry. I do not know whether I have time to deal with all of them, but if I have not, I will undertake either to deal with them on the Report stage or in any other way that hon. Members may desire. I will only allude to a certain number of them which seem to me of great importance.
Then there was the reference of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter) to the creation of an engineer brand in the Air Force. I scarcely ever disagree with my hon. and gallant Friend, and when I do I must have very good reason for setting my opinion against so expert an opinion as his own. Weighing one thing with another, I am bound to say that it is better not to split up a comparatively small service like the Air Force into a number of different sections, and I would much rather try for the ideal, even though it may be difficult to attain, of spreading our engineering knowledge through the whole service and trying to make all our airmen to some extent engineers. That is the reason why I disagree with my hon. and gallant Friend in the suggestion, which he has made before and which he renewed this evening. I am inclined to think our policy of not creating a separate branch is showing not unsatisfactory results, for we find that the engineering standards in the Air Force are going higher every year. Take the test of accidents: the number of accidents in proportion to flying hours, is falling year by year. But this is a 866 big subject, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, and I do not propose to go into it in greater detail this evening.
Then there were a number of questions asked by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Captain Brass). On the question of short-service officers, there is a great deal to be said both for and against it, but the more I study the problem the more certain I am that we cannot obtain a satisfactory Air Force unless we have a large number of officers upon a short-service basis. If we have all our officers upon a long-service basis we shall have too many senior officers in a force that should be, principally, a flying force; and further, we shall not be able to build up so quickly the Reserve that is essential in any efficient Air Service. Our system of having half our officers on a short-service basis means that after five years they go on to the Reserve for another period of five years. That is the answer I make to my hon. and gallant Friend's observations about short-service commissioned officers. With reference to the other details he raised, I do not for a moment suggest they are not important, but I will, with his permission, give him answers when next we resume the Debate, or send them to him after this Debate this evening.
There was a proposal made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bedford (Brigadier-General Warner) that we should have an Imperial Conference for discussing air questions common to the Empire as a whole. I am glad to think that the Imperial Conference will be meeting in October this year. I shall certainly bring up the question of air policy at the meetings of the conference, and I will see that it has a prominent place in the agenda of that conference. Some questions have been put to me by hon. Members opposite. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) asked me various questions about the garrison in Palestine. That is a question more for the Middle East Vote than for the Air Estimates, but I may say in passing that the evidence of the peaceful state of Palestine and Trans-Jordania only necessitates a total Air Force garrison there of a single squadron.
There was also a long series of criticisms of the Ministry made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for 867 Hallam (Sir F. Sykes). Here, again, one hesitates to dispute the statements or the conclusions of one who has himself held such high responsible posts in the Air Force. I find myself in some difficulty with my hon. and gallant Friend, because I find that year after year, whatever I do and whatever attempts I make to develop the Air Force and aviation in the country generally, I am always wrong in the view of my hon. and gallant Friend. For instance, I remember two or three years ago my hon. and gallant Friend was clamouring for an increase in the strength of the Air Force. On that occasion I followed his advice, and I am now charged by him with setting up a great military organisation. He has pressed me in the past, as he has done this evening, to devote my attention to the development of research and leave nothing undone in the interest of scientific development.
I am asked in the interests of research to make a small purchase of certain now notorious American machines and American engines. I may say that I have created a squadron for the purpose of research that will be many miles quicker per hour than any squadron that exists in any Air Force in the world. In the interests of research I have made that experiment, and I think my hon. and gallant Friend should be grateful for the action I have taken in this respect.
I could go on through a whole series of similar episodes, but let me now come to the main basis of his criticism against my administration, criticisms which, while they were stated more moderately to-day than some people have stated them outside, none the less appear to represent a body of opinion, if not extensive in this House, at any rate are not inextensive in the country generally.
First of all, there is the charge that we devote too much money to buildings, and too little money to the flying side of the Air Force. My hon. and gallant Friend made that charge this evening, and I had hoped that he would nave shown rather greater sympathy with the difficulties that confront any Air Minister than he did show in his somewhat negatively critical speech. Here am I to-day, faced with the problem of building up, for a period of years, an Air Force three times the size of the 868 Air Force that existed three years ago. When I first undertook the task, I found that, as a result of action that had been taken by a previous Government, with which I was in no way connected, almost all the aerodromes had been surrendered or sold, and the Air Force had been reduced to an almost insignificant size so far as this country is concerned. What was I to do with the new squadrons if I had no buildings in which to house them and no aerodromes which they could use?
I might have taken the easy course, and have set up a great paper Air Force, with a large number of machines upon paper, and the men that were behind them. I thought—and I am glad my policy was subsequently supported by the Secretary of State for Air in the Labour Government—that a sound policy was to begin at the beginning, and not to order the machines or form the squadrons until I had the aerodromes for the Air Force to use, buildings for the men to live in, and hangars in which to keep the aeroplanes. I wish very much that I had not got hanging round my neck this great problem of finding these buildings. I should like, just as much as any Member of the House, to spend all my money upon the fighting squadrons, and no money at all upon buildings, but there is the fact that the Air Force is a new Force, created at the end of the War, with no permanent buildings of any kind; and, even with the expenditure for which I am asking the House to-day, and with similar expenditure in future years, part of the Air Force in 1929 will still be housed in temporary war huts. I would ask hon. Members how I could possibly defend a policy that, while providing houses for every other section of the community, which we are trying to do to-day in other branches of the Government's policy, did not provide houses for the airmen and officers of the force we are trying to build up?
Then I come to another charge, the charge that we have set up at the Air Ministry and at some of our headquarters grossly excessive staffs. There, again, I welcome any practical suggestions as to the reduction of staffs. I should like to see those staffs cut down to the lowest possible limit, and so would my advisers. So far as the Air Ministry is concerned, there we have had inquiry after inquiry into our administration, and inquiry after inquiry has come to 869 the same conclusion, namely, that, upon the whole, the administration is sound and economical. If I need give an example of that, I would draw the attention of hon. Members to the fact that, although during the last two years we have been greatly expanding the operations of the Air Ministry, and although we have been building up an Air Force many squadrons greater than it was two years ago, there has been an altogether insignificant rise in the staff of the Air Ministry, and this year, if it had not been for ordinary increments in salaries, there would have been a substantial reduction.
With reference to the headquarters staffs, there, again, during the last 12 months we have had a most drastic scrutiny into the headquarters of our principal commands, and I am glad to think the result of that scrutiny is already showing itself in the Estimates and that we have been able to make substantial reductions over a large branch of this part of our administration. Speaking generally, we are all anxious—I as Minister and my advisers at the Air Ministry—to keep staffs down to the lowest possible limit.
The last charge, which has been repeated over and over again now for many years in an exaggerated form, is that we are a ground service and not a flying force. All sorts of calculations are made to prove that the greater part of our activities take place on the ground and not in the air. Sums are worked out to show the number of men that it takes to keep an aeroplane in the air—calculations which are very often extremely misleading. But if there is anything in them I would point to the fact, for what it is worth, that while my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hallam was at the Air Ministry the percentage was 83 ground men, if I may use the expression, to one aeroplane in the air. I am glad to think that we have been able, first of all, to bring it down to something over 50, and we have now brought it down to something under 50.
§ Sir F. SYKES
That, of course, was under war conditions, and not under the peace conditions, which have obtained during the last eight years.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Yes, but I think my hon. and gallant Friend has himself 870 stated time after time that, at the end of the War, our Air Force was the most efficient in the world. If that was so, I should not have thought there could be anything in the nature of a waste of men on the ground. But a calculation of that kind is really worth very little. It is not a question of how many men you have upon the ground. It is a much broader one. Is your Air Force an efficient Air Force, or is it not? I claim that, judged by every standard, our Air Force to-day is much the most efficient of any in the world.
I can easily make that clear. I could give comparisons which would show much better figures than those I have given the House, but I prefer to take the most rigid basis of comparison, that of first line machines. If I wanted to give hon. Members a better showing, I could throw in training machines and experimental machines, and I could make the comparison look a great deal better with foreign Powers than it looks with the figures I have given the House. It seems to me that in a matter of defence of this kind it is much better to give the Committee, not the best possible figures, but the most stringent figures. On that account I have given the House the most stringent figures of comparison between first line machines.
§ Sir S. HOARE
A machine that can not only be put into the air without delay, but can be kept in the air with reserves behind it. I could appear to have many more machines. I could press further with alternatives for making the number of squadrons appear to be greater. I could lessen the amount of training that is undertaken by airmen and pilots. What would be the result? If our pilots were worse trained, if our mechanics did not have the full instruction that they now receive, you might for a moment or two appear to have more machines in the air in proportion to ground staff, but you would have machine after machine crashing, and the result would be not economy, but much greater expenditure.
More important than that, I am not prepared to run the risk of unnecessarily losing the lives of pilots. I am quite certain that if we adopted the easy way of restricting our training and cutting 871 out the full instruction that our pilots now receive, the result would be appalling accidents, which I am glad to think we do not now experience, and a great rise in the loss of lives of pilots generally. When I hear these charges that we are a ground force and not a flying force, I would ask hon. Members who believe those charges to go to Iraq or to the North-West Frontier of India and see the flying work that our squadrons are doing there. No squadrons in any other country in the world can carry out work as efficiently as our squadrons at Iraq and the North-West Frontier of India are doing. That is the answer to the charge that we are a ground force and not a flying force.
The fact that hero our squadrons are yearly improving in efficiency can be proved by every test placed upon them. Go to Hendon year after year and see what they can do there. You will find that they maintain a standard that has not been reached in any other country in Europe. Go to Iraq and see there a great country garrisoned by a few squadrons from the air, and garrisoned with extraordinary efficiency. Take another test. Take the test of the number of our pilots. It is a fact that we have half as many pilots as the United States. We have com paratively more pilots than France, which, it has been admitted this evening, has a much greater Air Force than we have. Lastly, I would say to the hon. and gallant Member for Hallam and other hon. Members who may be inclined to make a charge that we are a ground force, that, to-day, we are flying proportionately twice as many hours as any other Air Force in the world. If comparison be made between us and the greatest flying Power in the world, our nearest neighbour, with a force twice as great as ours, I would say that, last year, we actually flew more hours than the whole of the force of that country put together. In view of these facts, I ask hon. Members to pay little attention to the charges so lightly made against this splendid Force. There is a grave risk that if unsupported charges of this kind—
§ Sir F. SYKES
The charges are not at all against the Force itself. The Force is the most magnificent Force in 872 the world. The charge is against the policy which handles that Force. The policy, as I see it. as I said before, is upside down. There is too little flying and no reserve. That is the trouble.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The policy is the policy of having as many pilots, as much flying and as much flying efficiency as possible. I disagree with my hon. and gallant Friend, who seems to think that when he was at the Air Ministry everything went well, and that since he left everything has gone badly. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"] I agree that it may be impertinent for me to put up my opinion against his.
I feel I have already taken up too much time of the House. I have tried to give hon. Members concrete answers to the charges that have been made. I ask hon. Members to believe that the Air Force to-day is the finest flying force in the world, and that upon the whole we have been not unsuccessful in holding a balance between the various claims upon expenditure; and I would venture to ask hon. Members, now that we have had a long general Debate, to allow the Motion to be put that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair, upon the undertaking that we have a resumption of this general Debate in the early future on the Report stage.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
May we be clear on the last point? I understand that if we go on with this Debate now, you, Mr. Speaker, would give the Closure at 11 o'clock, and then we could go on with the Debate on Vote A, after 11 o'clock? If the House agrees to finish the Debate now, do we understand that we shall have a full day at a later date on the general question, when we can discuss Vote A? The right hon. Gentleman did not give any definite undertaking on that point. Do we understand that we have a full day on the general question at a later date?
§ Sir HARRY BRITTAIN
May I also press for that, as there are many Members who are anxious to speak on this subject, which is of great importance? None of us wants to keep the House any longer to-night, although we have a right to do so.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am happy to give the House an assurance that there will be a full day, and, if Mr. Speaker will allow it, a general Debate will take place when we resume our discussion.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
As far as I am concerned, if the House be pleased to pass the Committee stage of the Votes to-night—on the same day on which I am moved out of the Chair—I shall be prepared, on the Report stage, to allow a departure from the ordinary rule, that is to say, that, on the Report of Vote A, the discussion should be of the same full width
§ as it has been to-day, on the Motion to move me out of the Chair.
§ Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 220; Noes, 98.875
|Division No. 50.]||AYES.||[10.51 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mac Robert, Alexander M.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Albery, Irving James||Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Apsley, Lord||Gibbs, col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Mason, Lieut.-col. Glyn K.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Merriman, F. B.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Meyer, sir Frank|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gower, Sir Robert||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Balniel, Lord||Grace, John||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Grant, J. A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Grotrian, H. Brent||Murchison, C. K.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hammersley, S. S.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Hanbury, C.||Oakley, T.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Harland, A.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Harrison, G. J. C.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hartington, Marquess of||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Havery, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Harvey, Major S. e. (Devon, Totnes)||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Haslam, Henry C.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hawke, John Anthony||Radford, E. A.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Henderson, Capt.R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rains, W.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bottle)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hogg. Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Rye, F. G.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Holland, Sir Arthur||Salmon, Major I.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Samuel, A. M. (surrey, Farnham)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||samuel, Samule (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hudson, Capt. A.U.M.(Hackney,N.)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hudson, R.S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington,N.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Sandon, Lord|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Sassoon, Sir Phillp Albert Gustave D.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Huntingfield, Lord||Savery, s. S|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hurd, Percy A.||Shaw, Lt.-Col.A.D.Mcl.(Renfrew, W.)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Shaw, Capt, W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Galnsbro)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Sheffield, Sir Brekeley|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Jackson, sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jacob, A. E.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Dalziel, Sir Davison||Jephcott, A. R.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Spender-Clay, colonel H.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lamb, J. Q.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Stanley, col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden,E.)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Loder, J. de V.||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lougher, L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Lumley, L. R.||Thompson, Luke (sunderland)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||MacIntyre, Ian||Tryon, Rt. Hon. Geroge Clement|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||McLean, Major A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Macmllian, Captain H.||ward, Lt,-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Finburgh, S.||McNell, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Watts, Dr. T.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Wood, e. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Walls, S. R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Wise, Sir Fredric||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Withers, John James||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||Womersley, W. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Major Cope and Lord Stanley.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hardie, George D.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Rose, Frank H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hayes, John Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Sexton, James|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Batey, Joseph||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromley, J.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Snell, Harry|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Stamford, T. w.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Compton, Joseph||Kirkwood, D.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Connolly, M.||Lansbury, George||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lee, F.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lowth, T.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Evan (Evan Vale)||Lunne, William||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Wallhead, Ricard C.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Mackinder W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Dennison, R.||March, S.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dunnico, H.||Maxton, James||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morris, R. H.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Gillett, George M.||Owen, Major G.||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Palin, John Henry||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Groves, T.||Potts, John S.||TELLLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Allen Parkison and Mr. A. Barnes.|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Purcell, A. A.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Richardson R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Supply considered in Committee.
§ [Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]