§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add, instead thereof, the wordsthis House regards with great concern the vast expenditure upon the Navy and the development of the submarine, and, being of opinion that all such expenditure in preparations for warfare is wasteful and futile, calls upon His Majesty's Government to set an example to the world by bringing about a policy of disarmament through the League of Nations.This Amendment is not a proposal for a reduction of armaments. It is a proposal to obtain the support of the Government for a call upon the representatives of other nations as well as our own to confront squarely the complexity of this problem as a whole. In previous Debates in this House reference has been made 2698 to the futility of the submarine and aero-plane to secure the defence of this country, which is said to be the object of the whole of our armaments.
Before I touch that particular phase of the matter, it is just as well to face the fact that the figures have risen. In 1923–24 they were £54,000,000; in 1924–25 they were £56,000,000; and in 1925–26 they were £60,500,000. That is a steady advance. It is said by the First Lord that he is providing to-day what for the present shows a reduction, but, as the "Times" has this week put it, it is a question of placing on short commons the present requirements of the Navy in order to build up the Navy of the future. The "Times" in the same article makes specific reference to the Admiralty Headquarters and the cost thereof as being the despair of the economist. The £1,220,000 which it represents now is nearly three times the sum voted before the War. Lord Derby quite recently, in referring to another subject, said:If there is any question of saving a regiment or a cruiser by encroaching on the Road Fund, I do not hesitate to say that I am for that encroachment. I am for the efficiency of the Empire before the maintenance of any particular Fund.I am satisfied that the policy which we and other nations are pursuing involves us in a vicious circle which, unless we smash through it, will bring about the absolute collapse, not only of our own nation, but of other nations of the world. I have here some quotations which deal with that particular phase of the question—the futility of what are called our up-to-date arms. We have had a speech from the other side—I understand it was a maiden speech—to the effect that what we need is up-to-date arms. I am satisfied that the Government are going on that line. They are prepared to expend money. There is a little retarding of the procedure now, but it is going on. Up-to-date arms are to be provided. There is one thing certain as a result, and that is that the people are to be entirely out-of-date as a whole. I like to think of the efficiency of the Empire as it confronts all of us in the queues as they stand at the Employment Exchanges. In following this discussion I am trying to imagine what the Government could possibly contemplate as being meant by the efficiency of the Empire. Visualise the man who comes to the Bar 2699 of the House on behalf of his wife and family and says: "Give me proof of the efficiency of the Empire."
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to those vicious weapons, the aeroplanes, and what they may be able to bestow as blessings upon man, woman and child in the next war. The argument appears to be that what we have to keep in view is that the Navy must ensure protection for the stomach, or rather of provisions for the stomach. I take it on that basis. The answer of the Government to 1,300,000 unemployed people, representative of three or probably four times that number, is: "We have practically no defences for the Empire so far as you are concerned. We have not any work for you to do. We have no intention of expending specialised funds in order to guarantee you a chance to earn your daily bread. We have no possibility of giving you that chance for the present or for years to come. All the millions that we are now expending on the Army or armaments in general will mean nothing to you so far as providing requisites for the stomach are concerned." You cannot expect a body of people to get very enthusiastic about your ideas, about the efficiency of armaments, on that. They say: "Will you please provide something for our stomachs? As a result of a vacuum there, I feel my heart becoming somewhat weak. How would you feel yourself?" There is a vein of humour in it, but tragedy behind it.
If you tell me that you feel quite satisfied yourself, if you say that it is essential and imperative to provide these powerful weapons which guarantee death to multitudes, then I ask, if that is your one strong position, how can you be surprised that there are sections of the people in this country—to whom the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) made reference in her speech—who are restless and discontented, and are convinced that you are right. God forbid that it should be so! I stand against it. I am not simply backing a resolution which talks to the League of Nations. I back quite frankly, as I have done before, the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), what proves, so far as we are concerned, that we stand straghtforwardly for complete disarmament.
2700 It was pointed out recently by the "Daily Herald" that the first Dreadnought was launched at Portsmouth. We then had 40 battleships and 35 armoured cruisers, while Germany, our only serious rival at sea, had 20 battleships and eight armoured cruisers. Our Dreadnought by creating a new standard of fighting power made our 75 ships as obsolete as galleons, and thus gave Germany the opportunity of beginning a naval building race on level terms. The nation had been told that its first Dreadnought would give the British Navy a permanent advantage over all rivals. The Fisher school said that Germany would be out of the running, because of the prohibitive cost enlarging the Kiel Canal, then too small to accommodate Dreadnoughts. I immediately, however, Germany began building Dreadnoughts and also the eight years' job of enlarging the canal. As far as that was concerned we came to the grand climax in the great War—the War for righteousness, the War for holiness, "the War to end war." The first two statements were blasphemous. We condemned the Kaiser because he claimed to have God operating on his side. We condemned the German Armies because of their singing "Germany over all," apparently oblivious all the time that we had been in the habit of singing "Rule Britannia." I am trying to show that the one thing produces the other. There is not a move that you can make or that any other country can make, but that it has to be checkmated. There is no way out on the basis of armaments. We hear a great deal about Locarno. That has become a blessed word like "Mesopotamia." But what is to come out of Locarno, when as is shown by that great climax to which I have just referred, we make all our arrangements on the ground that we can only secure our safety by the strength of our arms? All the time we are paying the penalty and other nations are paying the penalty of this policy. It is a situation enough to make angels weep, and devils laugh. Reference has been made to Washington and we have been told,The accord reached at Washington only affected battleships, and one unforeseen result had been to precipitate a race in the building of cruisers, and, to a lesser extent, of submarines.The hon. and gallant Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter), in a pre- 2701 vious discussion, made it very clear that so far as battleships were concerned he would wipe out the lot. If a pacifist were to make a proposition of that kind it would be regarded as very much out of place. The hon. and gallant Member also said that if operating 3,000 miles from our base our own Fleet, even with the Japanese Fleet and the American Fleet, would be unable to produce effective results. In a most interesting article which I read recently the hon. and gallant Member discussed the question, "Should the submarine be abolished?" In that article he tells us that in 1797 submarines were suggested by Professor Fulton, and that Pitt, then Prime Minister, appointed a Commission. Admiral Earl St. Vincent, the First Lord, opposed the development in emphatic language, saying Pitt was the greatest fool that ever existed to encourage a mode of warfare, which those who had the command of the seas did not want, and which, if successful, would deprive them of it. That action, according to the hon. and gallant Member, undoubtedly postponed submarine development for nearly 100 years. Then the hon. and gallant Member added:It was quite unpardonable for the Kaiser to decree unrestricted warfare and foul the fair name of a fine weapon when used for the first time in a great war.Is not that beautiful language? Of course, anything that the Kaiser might have touched at that time was certain to be foul. All the atmosphere round Germany was then supposed to be representative of the nethermost regions, but as for ourselves and our Allies we were a people arrayed in robes of righteousness. The hon. and gallant Member in his article proceeded:I feel confident the best German submarine commanders bold the same opinion as I do, of unrestricted warfare being a step back to the manners of barbarism.I have no hesitation in saying that the barbarians have superior credentials, compared with those who support Governments in the use of a machine of this kind. Take the case of the M.1. Talk about steel houses. Here was a steel trap, the men in which had no hope of escape, and the first people to come to their rescue were the wicked Germane. Let us face the situation frankly, and see whether or not we are entitled to make any criticism 2702 of the barbarian. The barbarian is not conscious of doing anything out of the normal in pursuing methods of violence. That is his usual habit. He is commonly addicted to attacking his fellow man, and sometimes goes the length of eating him, but here we find in the statement presented to-day by the First Lord of the Admiralty that elaborate research is being carried out by his Department and the finest brains are being applied to the discovery of the readiest way and the most effectual plan of wiping out humanity on a large scale. Are we to be told that that is merely barbarism? The hon. and gallant Member for Hertford also denies any acts by the Allies inconsistent with the laws of war and the dictates of humanity. As I asked him in a friendly conversation which we had on the subject: Who are the jurors who determine the laws of warfare?
Are these laws determined by a Judge such as the Judge who tried a case the other day in which Sir Edward Marshall Hall appeared and who with the black cap on his head condemned a man in the dock to be hanged by the neck until he was dead, because he had taken the life of a fellow man. Sir Edward Marshall Hall, who defended that prisoner—a Chinaman—said we were the only civilised people who did not acknowledge degrees in murder. With all deference to that distinguished representative of the legal profession, I take exception to his statement. We do recognise degrees in murder. That is what we are discussing now. When a man acting under the orders of his Government takes the life of his fellow man he is not sentenced by a Judge or a jury. Very often, in proportion to the number of lives he takes, medals are placed upon his breast as tokens of appreciation for his success in the degree of murder which is recognised internationally as the only way of settling our differences. It is an appalling situation. Is this the result of the trend of Christianity and science? I do not speak of the science which is engaged in discovering methods of death. I refer to the science which is trying to eradicate cancer and get down to the cause of tuberculosis, and discover the agencies which are decimating the human race. Yet here is a fixed policy which is counteracting all that science can do in that respect.
2703 The Minister of Health might put forward his best efforts, his Department might be utilised to the widest possible extent to discover means for uplifting the human race phsically and mentally, but here we have a fixed policy of Governments and parties, a sort of political Calvinism, which determines our future, and we are told it cannot be otherwise—"human nature being what it is." That is the phrase we hear on every side. Doctors argue and in some cases are able to show to the patient's satisfaction, that by taking the elements of a given disease and introducing it to the human system, a cure of that disease may be effected. Here we have a different process.
§ 8.0 P.M
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I was only trying to illustrate my argument, and I was led into that line of discussion by previous references, but I recognise the necessity for restricting it. The hon. and gallant Member for Hertford also tells us that when the submarine A.1 went under, Lord Fisher ordered further manœuvres to be carried out and continued the construction of vessels of an improved type. That was Lord Fisher's way of dealing with an accident of this nature, and according to the hon. and gallant Member, it was "a good way, too." The hon. and gallant Member, in the article to which I refer, also mentions the statement made by the chairman of Lloyds, advocating the abolition of this deadliest weapon of destruction. The chairman of Lloyds wrote:All the great maritime nations have suffered heart-breaking losses by this deadly machine which treacherously destroys those in charge of it, and inflicts slow torture as well as death.The hon. and gallant Member's comment on this statement is:Our submarines are the best in the world, our gallant officers and men in that service are most highly trained, and they do not like this sort of sob-stuff.We have heard great appreciations of the personnel of the Fleet and no one is going to make any deduction from those appreciations, but I think it is not doing justice to these men to say that they, as prospective victims of this machine, would regard a statement of the kind I 2704 have quoted as "sob-stuff." The hon. and gallant Member has a Golden Rule of his own. The Golden Rule that he commends to the men is not "Trust in God,' but "Trust your boat." Sir Alfred Hopkinson, K.C., plumps for Prohibition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members must not get excited—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Really, I called the hon. Member to move an Amendment for which he obtained first place in the Ballot, and he has been half an hour without coming to it.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I am at this stage, Mr. Speaker, quoting Sir Alfred Hopkinson on the question of totally prohibiting the submarines, which is part of the Amendment.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
That is why I made the interjection to hon. Members opposite not to get excited. I stopped at the word "Prohibition," for the sake of humour, but I was keeping to the water all the time. I want now to concentrate as much I possibly can. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am moving an Amendment, for which I have obtained first place in the Ballot, and I have not taken much more time than some other Members who have been speaking on general propositions. I am putting the case forward in special circumstances, and I, therefore, ask for the consideration of the House. Besides, some of us do not talk as often as others, and when you come out first in the Ballot, you are entitled to some consideration. You have to wait a good while for it, and I have no prospect of ever becoming a Front Bench man. I will continue my quotations. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard says:The aeroplane is the most offensive weapon yet invented, but a shockingly bad weapon of defence.That is considered to be a separate subject of discussion, but it is still a part of the Estimates, as we have an Air Ann in the Navy, and here we have a declaration by such an authority that it will not really be an effective defensive weapon, yet it is considered to be the most essential in view of the kind of war that we are going to have to face. I find 2705 these declarations in "Naval Defence," a publication issued by the Navy League:'It is upon the Navy that, under the good providence of God, the wealth, prosperity, and the peace of these islands and of the Empire do mainly depend.' … The British Navy is at present suffering from the post-War reaction from war-time enthusiasm, and there are even some who consider that the days of war are over, and that the last titanic struggle has exhausted the world, and has tought it the futility of armed forces for the settlement of international disputes. Nothing could be further from the truth.That is the Navy League, so that I am perfectly correct in my diagnosis of the case. They say also:It is a fallacy to suppose that we shall be given due warning of the next war.These are fatal pronouncements for the British Navy, coming from a quarter that knows. God knows more than the Navy or the Admiralty, and there are some things that God above knows now about the methods of the Admiralty in regard to some great questions that took place during the War. Here is another quotation, from a Navy League pamphlet, setting forth the "Peace duties of the Royal Navy of Great Britain," among which are:Civilisation of remote places and the bringing under law of native tyrants.Native tyrants? Where are the tyrants that are to be sought for by the Navy? In Japan, China, India? It could not possibly be here. There is no prospect of that. All is "Peace, perfect peace here. Another peace duty of the Navy is:Suppression of piracy and the slave trade; the British Navy has been the chief instrument in this work, and still continues it—e.g., Persian Gulf.What about the British flag having to make its escape when the American Navels chasing it to see what is under the flag? I am told, and we are told—andthe generality of us, I suppose, profess to believe it—on the highest authority that "The meek shall inherit the earth, "but it is a matter for serious consideration whether—
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for being so considerate in wait- 2706 ing, but the hon. Member opposite is uneasy about the meek. I go the length of saying that if this or any great nation were to take its stand on the strength of that proposition, and disband entirely its armaments, that nation would be far better provided with defence than anything it could get on the lines now being followed. We were asked during the War: "What would you do if the Germans came?" If you engage in war, then, of course, there is no saying what is going to happen, and in a certain sense it is perhaps an advantage that man, woman, and child, old, middle-aged, and young, are going to have to face the next war, and that we are not going to have old men pushing young men to the business, but old men are going to get a share of it. In Buckingham Palace, or anywhere else, where they sit watching the clock at 12 o'clock to see whether the blow is to be struck, they may get it before that hour is struck.
But what is going to happen when you are not at war? If this nation said: "We are not going to war; we are not going to fight; we are not going to kill; we have no object of that kind in view," would it not be well? Should not the Church take that position? If the Navy League itself quotes in its first declaration a recognition of and a trust in God, with the ultimate idea that they will use the Navy to make up for the weaknesses of God Almighty, what about the Church? If the Church professes that God Almighty is sufficiently stronger than all the armaments, the frail, weak instruments that man can produce, should not the Church take its stand and declare that that is its position, even though we do go to war? I submit that it is a national scandal to the Church of Christ that ministers should be available for going to hound young men whom they have taught "Thou shalt not kill," on to a hell upon earth. Viscount Cecil, in his latest appeal concerning the League of Nations, says that it is not sufficient that we should be urgent to disarm, but that the people themselves should rise and pronounce their determination in the matter. Here are his actual words:It is vitally important that there should be in this country a great and instructed public opinion in favour of disarmament, and not merely in favour, but burningly in favour, so burningly as to set the Continent of Europe alight.2707 To start here with the burning operations is a stiff job. This is an ice store, but we have got to break through. It is not, as the hon. Lady opposite said, that we can only talk about disarmament if other nations talk about disarmament, and that we can only disarm if other nations are prepared to disarm. Is that the position of professed Christianity, that we can only be Christians if other nations will be Christians? Is it only possible for us to stand for Christ if other people are going to do so? Were those who are recognised to-day as martyrs fools? No. To-day we recognise them as martyrs, and we all appreciate them and glorify them, but we are called upon to be fools to-day for Christ's sake. Is He a Prime Minister upon whom we can depend? Is He a factor that can lead us in the paths of righteousness and peace? Is it true that we get, in God's own Book, thatThe wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God"?Have we forgotten God? Is there evidence on every hand that the general stand of the people is that after the War there is no indication of realistic holiness or righteousness in the operation of our public reputation throughout the land? It is not a question of whether other people are going to do this, that, or the other thing. I submit that, in presenting this Resolution, I am delivering a message that I feel, as Viscount Cecil put it, burningly, and not only do I feel it, but I shall vote for it, and I ask and urge everyone to make that impression in every part of the country with all the influence that they can command.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am very pleased to be on this subject in the same company as the hon. Member and Viscount Cecil, whose declaration he has quoted. I am not prepared with a speech on this subject, and I am very pleased that the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) himself has made two speeches, one on his own behalf and one on mine. My duty will be simply to second the Resolution formally, and to be allowed to say very briefly that on the ground of expenditure alone, which is mentioned in the first sentence of the Resolution, this subject of naval armaments merits the attention of this House. There have been this afternoon other 2708 speakers who have given comparative figures showing the enormous increase in expenditure in recent years. The hon. Member's Amendment is designed to call attention not only to the present expenditure, but to increased expenditure, unless we take steps to divert expenditure from the competitive race in armaments. The use of submarines is a particularly objectionable form of armament. It is the most inhuman form of armament that the world has known so far.
It is, possibly, not the last word in inhumanity, but the average cleanminded man does regard the submarine as a weapon not fit even for times which called forth the extreme combative instincts of man. I have no detailed knowledge of our own submarine position or of submarine building in other countries, but I do know there is a very keen and a very menacing rivalry between ourselves and our Continental neighbours in the provision of submarines, which, if anything, is likely to lead to a breach of peace anywhere in the immediate future. There is nothing so dangerous as the use of the submarine to prevent food supplies being carried from distant parts of the earth to this country. We, in our geographical position, surrounded by the sea, can never be quite safe in a competitive struggle for submarine supremacy by nations of approximate economic power, and we can never maintain our large sea communications with the facility that some other countries can maintain theirs. On these grounds, the House should pay attention to the growth of expenditure, and to the risks of our position in the provision of submarines. I would prefer to come to the last sentence of all in the Amendment:calls upon His Majesty's Government to set an example to the world by bringing about a policy of disarmament through the League of Nations.This question merits much more attention than I can give it. There is a very grave danger facing the whole of the civilised world to-day. Rivalry in submarine armaments, rivalry in air armaments, rivalry in territorial and economic ambitions are driving the world nearer every day to inevitable conflict, and it is only by the minds of the people of the world being applied to this question of disarmament through the League of Nations that 2709 this haunting menace of war can be removed. We have a conference at Geneva this week. The League of Nations can never be an effective instrument for the control of international affaire until we can go there with clean hands and minds free for the greater problem of guaranteeing peace. We cannot go to Geneva if we are surreptitiously piling up submarine armaments either against France, Italy or Germany. We cannot go to the League of Nations with any expectation of making that League what it might be if we go with a full knowledge, not only that we ourselves but that other nations are trying to build up armaments. Civilisation is impossible while we have this war cloud hovering over our heads all the time, and it is imperative that we should endeavour to bring about disarmament if civilisation is to be maintained. Without having prepared a speech, and without having intended to speak, I wholeheartedly commend this Amendment to the House, because I believe the contents of this Amendment are most deserving of the attention of every Member of this House, of the British public outside and of the public and Parliaments of the whole world.
§ Major GLYN
I am sure the whole House listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour), because we recognised his sincerity, although at times it was a little difficult to follow his argument. I rise to-night to ask the attention of the House to the suggestion that there should be a reconsideration of the political organisation governing the administration of the three Services. This proposal, I think, has been welcomed from all quarters of the House, but, in particular, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Salisbury Committee's Report, because it is no use dealing in generalities; we must rather get down to particulars. That Committee stated, among other things, thatThe present system makes no authority directly responsible for the initiation of a consistent line of policy directing the common action of the three Services, and taking into account the reactions of the three Services upon one another, except the Prime Minister, who can only devote a very small part of his time to questions of defence.If that is the recommendation of an ad hoc committee set up for this purpose, I think it should deserve the atten- 2710 tion of this House, because we do not want to add to Ministries, but we want to see that the money voted by the taxpayer for all purposes of defence is spent in the best way to provide for the defence of this country and the British Empire. We have had experience in recent years of difficulties which have arisen as between the Air Force and the Admiralty, and difficulties which have arisen in the past in regard to transportation between the Navy and the Army. I think that the last War taught all of us the great advantaies of co-operation, and the necessity of the staffs of the three Services working together.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
There is an Amendment before the House with regard to disarmament. I do not quite understand that the hon. and gallant Member's argument deals with that Amendment.
§ Major GLYN
I understood the discussion was going to be allowed to be general on this point, and I am speaking to the Amendment standing in my name on the Paper. I understood from the Chair that discussion would be allowed on it.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Possibly when I was not here some general agreement might have been made. I am not sure. But the position at present is that we have a specific Amendment, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Amendment will not be relevant to that.
§ Major GLYN
I quite agree, but I thought that I should be in order in dealing with the Motion which stands in my own name on the Paper. I thought I could bring it into line with the Motion of the hon. Member for Dundee, and for this reason: that all of us on this side of the House are just as anxious as any Member on the opposite side to see less money spent on defence by the civilised nations. But we believe that if you have not got a proper system of expenditure on defence, the chances are that a small nation with relatively less money, may be able to be a great danger to this country's trade by constructing a small fleet of submarines. It is because this country has taken the lead at the Disarmament Conference in Washington and elsewhere in urging upon the nations to agree to a reduction of armaments that we believe that by establishing a common general staff 2711 under the direction of the Minister who will be responsible to the Prime Minister it will be far more easy for all the nations to agree upon a common policy of disarmament.
If you get the three Services each working against the other it is infinitely more difficult to arrange a common policy of disarmament. Nobody on the other side, I am sure, would suggest that unless we were perfectly certain that our trade and our defence would be safeguarded ! It is obviously ridiculous that a country like our own, which depends for its existence entirely upon sea-borne traffic, should rely upon any new arm, even the Air Force. Look at the map and realise the number of points where you could establish aerodromes, and, taking a radius of 200 miles, how many thousands of miles of the sea routes, of our transport of food by ships, would be exposed to the danger of an attack by enemy submarines! The hon. Member for Dundee, in his very eloquent and lengthy speech, does seem to realise one point; that it is very easy for a small nation which means mischief secretly to construct submarines which would do irreparable damage to a great country like our own.
There is one thing we can undoubtedly say, and that is that we have set the lead in desiring disarmament, and that when we came to the conclusion we did at Washington we really carried out what we said we would do. It does seem tome, when we have set the lead in this way, that we have a right to claim that France should carry out her promise. We all hope from the benefits which will be conferred by the League of Nations we shall gradually get that peace idea which will enable nations in common to agree to a certain amount of disarmament. With great respect I would, if I may, once again urge that we should not consider these problems of defence in water-tight compartments, the Air, the Sea, the Land. The whole of the defences since the War generally have been drawn together because each Service must be inter-dependent on the other. If, therefore, we are going to do anything to carry out what the hon. Member for Dundee—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am not at all sure that the hon. and gallant Gentle- 2712 man can go into that at all. We are now busy with the Navy Estimates, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman must direct his attention as to whether they are sufficient or redundant.
§ Major GLYN
I have endeavoured, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to keep within the limits of your ruling in pointing out that the Resolution of the hon. Member for Dundee was to the effect that there should be a reduction in a certain branch of the defensive armament of the country. I am trying to point out that it is very bad to concentrate upon one particular Service, when to get real disarmament we have to consider the whole scope of the general defensive measures. Therefore, I should like, in conclusion, to say that I do agree absolutely with the theory expressed by the hon. Member for Dundee. I would urge upon the recognition of all that we have already taken the lead in this business of disarmament, and until other nations follow our lead, I am not prepared to place this country, with all its responsibilities, in such a position that it might be unfairly attacked by an unscrupulous nation which might be unwilling to carry out the pledges it gave at an international conference.
§ Mr. CLUSE
I should very much like to be able to support the Amendment put forward by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley for total disarmament and the rest; but unfortunately there are reasons which prevent me from doing so. The Amendment seems to me quite a legitimate attempt to concentrate interest in this House, in the country and abroad, upon what is necessary for disarmament among the nations. Some people are brave enough, or foolish enough, to suggest that this country could disarm. I have great respect for that opinion and that point of view, but I cannot support it. It does seem to me, when we remember the promises of peace that were put forward after the Armistice, the statements made during the War that the struggle would be the last struggle and the last war—when, I say, we think of these statements we think also of where we find ourselves in the years since the War, still piling up armaments, still creating with other countries an armed camp on the Continent—practically throughout the world.
We often in this House hear arguments about economy; statements that 2713 rates and taxes ought to be reduced in order that our captains of industry may be able more effectively to compete' in the markets of the world. When these suggestions of economy are referred to, and the cost of the social services, very rarely, in my judgment, is pointed out one of the strongest or greatest means of decreasing the production cost to the country. I refer to the cost of the Navy and the other Services. We go on from year to year spending this tremendous amount of money which, unfortunately, always seems to me to be leading to an attempt to "try out" new methods which can best be put forward when declaring war. All over Europe we have populations crying out for peace. We have Christians of all denominations officially believing in peace. I hope they do believe in peace. Every country is being brought, into the position of almost inevitable bankruptcy by the great cost of armaments. And it seems to me that the time has come when we must beg all other nations to sit round a table with us at the Conference of the League of Nations, and hammer out methods of cutting down this tremendous expenditure which is ham-stringing the nations of the world.
We have also to remember—I do not suggest that we are the only people who think of it—the needs of the country. We walk through the streets of London. We see boys and girls coming out of school-and thank goodness they look better than they used to do. We see the bright kiddies and we look at them with pleasure. Yet we have to remember that the cost of armaments is doing harm to them and their education, and that possibly these children, whom we love to look at, may in the future be driven into that blood-bath that some of us have been in, while others have died for their country. We are not attacking any legitimate ideas of patriotism. We are not saying that people should not fight for what they believe in, if necessary, but we do say that all over the world people are tired of war, that all over the world people have got photographs at home of those who died in the great War. I appeal to hon. Members to support the Amendment as one who is not an ultra-pacifist, but one who does want to see universal peace, and thinks it can be obtained upon the lines of this Amendment, by urging the nations of the world
2714 to sit down together and hammer out the possibilities of peace by the reduction of the burden of armaments.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I think the House ought to register a protest against the action of the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) because, after taking 55 minutes to move his Amendment, he does not trouble to wait to hear the reply to it.
§ Mr. BARKER
On a point of Order. May I say that the hon. Member has been called out of the House by one of his constituents?
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
The hon. Member is back now, but I do not think he was back a moment ago. Now that he has returned, I would like to ask him if he has ever read of Pizarro's conquest of Peru? In his speech he stated that he objected to all kinds of armaments. I wonder if has ever read the history of the Incas, when Pizarro, with 150 men, practically conquered a whole nation?
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Yes, that is the whole point—a defenceless nation. I was wondering whether he would like to see the British Empire, and this country in particular, and the women and children about whom he delights in giving us streams of sob stuff, placed in the same position as those Incas were when Pizarro conquered Peru.
§ Lieut. Commander BURNEY
I am not arguing as to whether two nations equally well armed and equally able to defend themselves will not settle without fighting. It is often the case in a legal action that when neither side knows it is going to win, that both sides are usually ready to settle out of Court; but when one side has an unanswerable case, it is very unlikely it will agree to settle out of Court, but will demand the maximum 2715 damages. Equally so is it in war: if one nation is entirely unarmed and another nation is armed, it is quite certain that the armed nation will practically subjugate the other nation into practical slavery, economic or otherwise.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I do not mind whether it is a Mohammedan nation or a Christian nation, or what kind of nation. We have got to realise that human nature is human nature, and if people can obtain an advantage, they usually obtain it, just as a trade union will utilise its power to upset the whole life of a community in order to extract from another section, the employers, advantages which it is endeavouring to obtain. It has no regard for the women and children in that case. It is using its power to hold the nation up for ransom.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I have been led away from my point by the Argentine and Chile being brought into the discussion; I do not think either of them have any submarines at all. A point this House should consider is that the senior Member for Dundee said in his speech that although he was moving this Amendment he entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), that although his Amendment asked only for the abolition of submarines, he entirely agreed with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
My Amendment is not merely for the abolition of submarines, it is for disarmament as a whole.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I do not think that is what the Amendment says. I will read the Amendment, as the hon. Member does not appear to understand it. It is:That this House regards with great concern the vast expenditure upon the Navy"—
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I dare say the hon. Member agrees with that.—and the development of the submarine, and, being of the opinion that all such 2716 expenditure in preparations for war is wasteful and futile, calls upon His Majesty's Government to set an example to the world by bringing about a policy of disarmament through the League of Nations.That is rather different from proposing that the British Navy be reduced from a force of 102,000 men to 2,000 men. This Amendment calls for a policy of disarmament through the League of Nations, and it is viewed differently by the leaders of the hon. Member's own party, although he may not be aware of it, because the hon. Member who spoke for the Labour Opposition earlier in the evening said the Labour party were going to support the Amendment of the senior Member for Dundee but not going to support that of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. Although the difference in the Amendments may not be apparent to the senior Member for Dundee, it is evidently apparent to the leader of the Opposition. [Interruption.] He may not be the leader of the hon. Member. I do not understand the internal organisation of the Labour party, but that is what the hon. Member said when he spoke for the Opposition.
Although the Opposition are officially going to support this Amendment, it is perfectly evident that in the minds of the majority of their supporters the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley has the same effect and will, in fact, do the same as this Amendment. It looks as though the Labour party, as a whole, are attached to the idea of doing away with the British Navy entirely. I will go further than that and say that a very large number of Members on the other side of the House appear to think that because they do not like war they can get rid of it by calling it bad names. They cannot. The fact that other nations may make war upon us is the only reason which necessitates the Government of this country making preparations for war. It is really childish for speeches of that kind to be made upon the basis of this nation disarming in front of the whole world. No responsible Government of any kind could contemplate or allow such a thing to happen. It was quite obvious that when the Labour party were in power they had no conception of allowing anything of that kind to take place.
Now let me turn to the question of the abolition of the submarine. I put it to 2717 the House that Amendments of this character are detrimental to the best interest of this nation. There is no competent naval authority in this country who does not desire that the submarine should be done away with because it is very detrimental to the naval power of this country that a submarine exists, but that fact does not help us to obtain its abolition. This nation is the one nation which suffers most from the menace of the submarine, and we are the nation that is continually advocating its abolition. In this respect there is nothing more futile than that which the hon Member for Dundee is doing, and by the action he is taking he is making it quite certain that the submarine will not be abolished. The more this kind of Amendment is moved the more likely it is that the submarine will remain a weapon attached to all the Fleets in the world.
The hon. Member for Dundee says that even if the other nations do not take the lead in this matter there is no reason why we should not lead the way, but why not do away with the whole British Navy? We know that the real meaning or the idea which the hon. Member for Dundee has in mind is not to do away with submarines, but with the whole British Navy, and he would like to abolish it as well as the Army and the Air Force and the police. He might also wish to do away with fire insurance and old age insurance and every other method which a civilised nation devises for its own protection. It is futile for these idealists to put forward Amendments of this character because they have such a parochial view that they do not realise the damage they do to the foreign outlook in regard to this country. If hon. Members wish to ensure the continuance of the submarine as a naval weapon they cannot do it more effectively than by supporting this Amendment, and if it had been moved by a group of big armament firms who wanted contracts I agree that this is the way to do it.
I will take another point which was raised by the hon. Member for Dundee. The hon. Member stated that this Government should show some signs that it was ready to consider a disarmament policy. Is the hon. Member not aware that as a result of the Locarno meeting it was arranged that there should be a meeting to consider disarmament last 2718 February, and it has been postponed until May. The present Government has always been ready and anxious to attend that meeting, and therefore what purpose is served by pushing at an open door. It is obvious that no responsible Government is going to agree to disarmament unless it is simultaneous disarmament, and it is futile to expect that any nation can disarm unless other nations agree to do the same. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Dundee, in his sober moments, expects this House to agree to a proposition of that character.
§ Lieut-Commander BURNEY
But thehon. Member for Dundee is pushing against the open door of the Locarno Agreement. I do not think that the Opposition can have appreciated what is the actual position in regard to the submarine question. At the Washington Conference Great Britain suggested that the submarines should be abolished. The United States was in favour of that abolition, but the naval powers who were not so strong in capital ships, cruisers and so forth were against the abolition of the submarine largely owing to the fact that France would not agree to the abolition of the submarine, and I think France was backed up by Italy. The idea of the abolition of the submarines which was put forward at Washington by Great Britain was turned down. Therefore what is the use of the hon. Member for Dundee moving an Amendment of this character when if he had made himself acquainted with recent history he would find that Great Britain had done everything she could in regard to the abolition of the submarine. What is the case which the Opposition are putting forward? They are really endeavouring to put forward a case for the abolition of the British Navy, but the official Opposition say that it is only an Amendment for the abolition of the submarine. The hon. Member for Dundee has already said that he wants to do away with the British Navy.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
That is not what this Amendment says, or what the Amendment of the Member for Bow and Bromley says. We have already heard that the hon. Member for Dundee 2719 is in complete agreement with the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley on this question, and they are willing to do away with the Navy at once without any other country doing away with their Navy. The point is that the framers of this Amendment have in mind the fact that in practice there is no difference between the Amendment they have put on the Paper and the Amendment which the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley has put down, and in regard to which the official Opposition are going to put their tongue in their cheek and say they will not support it. They say that they wish this country to set an example to the world. Does that not mean that we are to take the initiative and do something first? I listened to the greater part of the speech of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, but experiencing that feeling in the stomach to which the First Lord of the Admiralty has referred, I went out to get some refreshment, and I did not hear the end of it; but, from the first 45 minutes of it to which I did listen, I understood that what he wanted was that we should set an example to the world. The only method he suggested of our setting an example to the world was that we should do away with our submarines, irrespective of what other nations did. I think I am correct in my recollection of his speech, and that it will be within the recollection of the House that that is what he said. There was no question of simultaneous disarmament.
If this were an Amendment to the effect that there should be simultaneous disarmament, no Member of the House would be against it. Everyone on this side of the House realises, just as much as any Member on the other side, that all expenditure on armaments is unproductive expenditure. It is only undertaken because no other way has so far been devised of protecting our own interests as a nation. If any Resolution were put forward, at the League of Nations or elsewhere, that simultaneous disarmament was proposed and would be enforced, I do not think any Member in this House would disagree or would vote against it. Therefore, I think that this Amendment which has been moved is nothing else than a lot of cant and claptrap. It is moved in a spirit of petty parochialism, which does not realise in the least degree 2720 the danger it is doing to the interests of this country as a whole, and all that the hon. Member has done has been to secure that submarines will continue to be built, and will be built for a great deal longer because of this Amendment that has been moved in the House to-night.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
By far the best thing—of course, it would have to be done by international agreement—would be to take all the warships of the whole world into deep water, and, after a suitable religious ceremony, to 6ink them; and I gather that hon. Members opposite would agree with that policy if it were brought about by general agreement. They are very simple, however, if they think that that would ever happen. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) will excuse me for calling him simple—I mean, simple, politically—because we know that his character is really very complex; but the powers behind the party opposite would never agree to that course, because they want the Navy, in the last resort, as a strike—breaking weapon. They sent the sailors to work the pumps in the mines in a previous coal stoppage.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
That is one example. I listened, like other Members of the House, with great pleasure to the maiden speech of the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. A. Williams). I am sorry he is not here at the moment; I would like to put it on record that I and other Members of the House enjoyed his speech very much, and hope he will speak again on naval subjects. I am going to vote for the Amendment which has been moved by the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour), although I shall find myself unable to support the Amendment which is to be moved presently by my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), because, although I shall vote for the present Amendment, I do not think we can possibly afford to abolish the British Navy until other Powers are prepared to abolish their navies as well; but I think that that might well be done in the near future.
I am also supporting this Amendment because it draws attention to unnecessary 2721 expenditure. I am astonished, for about the seventh time, at the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty in introducing the Navy Estimates. Year after year we are told that the last economy has been made, that the Navy has been cut to the bone, and even now it is admitted that efficiency has been sacrificed. Seagoing practice has been given up, and the Navy will not be so efficient as it should be. Where is the money being spent? On unnecessary dockyards, for one thing. In spite of the reductions at Rosyth and Pembroke, the Navy is over-supplied with dockyards. The hon. Member for Dundee is perfectly right when he talks in this Amendment about unnecessary expenditure. In his defence against the irate Scots and Welsh in regard to Rosyth and Pembroke, the First Lord of the Admiralty said that the reductions there would be followed by reductions in the English dockyards, and every student of naval affairs knows that we have too many dockyards' for the needs of our reduced Fleet in home waters. The Admiralty are saying that the basis of naval power is now in the Pacific, and they are going ahead with the Singapore policy. There should be compensating reductions in home dockyards.
What do we see in the First Lord's statement? Three cruisers of the "Dublin" class—the "Dublin," the "Chatham" and the "Southampton"—are to be scrapped. I see that last year, in order to provide work for these unnecessary dockyards, £72,917 was spent on the "Dublin," and that on the "Chatham" £63,691 was spent. That is to say, £136,000 was spent on these two ships, the "Dublin" and the "Chatham," which the Admiralty are now going to put on the scrap-heap. What sort of policy is this? They talk about economies and about reducing the Navy to the bone, but now I see that repairs are being undertaken on the "Dartmouth," which is a sister ship to the three vessels which are now to be scrapped, laid down a year later, in 1910. She is 16 years old, and the Admiralty's scrapping date is 20 years, and yet we are spending this year £168,380 upon her. Can anyone really defend that? This is a ship one year older than the three vessels about to be scrapped, and, in order to provide work for these unnecessary dockyards and dockyard staffs, this considerable sum is being spent.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
All I can say is that there are many other ships which would be much more suitable, without this expenditure. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman not to fall back on the argument that this is a matter for the admiralty Staff. Again and again we find this wobbling policy on the part of the Admiralty Staff, and again and again criticisms in this House have been justified, and we have seen carried out certain economies which were suggested here. There are many more ships that can be used for wireless experiments without spending money on this obsolescent vessel.
I regret to say that the economies are taking place in the wrong direction. I interrupted the First Lord, during his speech, to suggest that he had actually reduced the sum to be spent on the Chemical, Experimental and Research Department, which I rather think is the most important Department of the Admiralty. The problem of modern war vessels, which are dependent on artificial ventilation, being attacked by gas, either from gas shells or from bombs dropped by aeroplanes or released by submarines, is very acute. I do not know what the Admiralty are doing to counter such a menace, but it is very serious. The more modern and faster ships are absolutely closed in, and the men below are entirely dependent on artificially induced draught. Therefore, they are a clear target for poison gas attacks. We did not have these poison gas attacks in the late War, because there was not a Fleet action after Jutland, and the German War Office gained dominance over the German Admiralty, and got control of the chemical equipment in Germany. Otherwise we should have suffered in that way then. In the next war, if ever one should come—and we have to reckon upon that, or why do we spend these vast sums upon armaments—that will be one of the problems that will have to be faced, and the Admiralty, as far as I can make out from the Estimates, are actually reducing the small sum allowed for experimental research in chemical warfare. That is a retrograde step which is much to be regretted.
2723 Reductions are also taking place in sea training and in the Naval Air Service. After all their agitation to get control over their naval wing, the reserve of aeroplanes is being cut down. It is a short-sighted and ridiculous policy. They are not increasing, as they should do, the money on research. Where they are spending money is on keeping on the useless yacht, the "Enchantress," which they use for three weeks in the year, if at all. When they went to Malta for the last inspection they went by railway train and took the mail steamer from Messina. Of course, the cost of the "Enchantress" is small compared with the whole Navy Estimates, but it is the spirit of the thing and the discouragement to give to the other Departments to economise. It is like the £200,000 for the playing-fields for the Civil Service. They have actually more flag officers employed on shore than they have afloat. There were 27 admirals and other flag officers, including commodores, employed in shore billets against 21 employed afloat on the eighth of this month. That is one more example of the excessive expenditure on non-effective services.
What is the result? We have only two battle fleets at sea, a comparatively small Fleet of six battleships and one battle cruiser, our only home defence squadron, and a moderate Fleet in the Mediterranean for this vast expenditure, and the sea time of the Navy is being cut down. The economy takes place on oil fuel and economy takes place in the wages of the seamen and the marriage allowance of the officers. I think the Admiralty's record will not bear close examination. For these reasons, and others with which I will not trouble the House, I propose to support the Amendment.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Davidson)
I understand that if I refer to expenditure I shall be in order in coming within the first sentence of the Amendment. I shall therefore reply to arguments which have been adduced on all sides of the House, mostly criticisms of the Admiralty in the matter of expenditure. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) complains that we have spent a great deal of money on the "Dublin" and the 2724 "Chatham," and within a very short time the Admiralty are scrapping those two vessels. The reason for this scrapping is the fact that the Admiralty have now a settled building programme, and even though we have spent a little money on these two vessels, we did not give them a large refit, and are saving a considerable sum by scrapping them, and it was an obvious course to take once we were satisfied with the programme which the House approved, and which is now in force.
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is a little ungrateful. His memories of the "Enchantress" ought to have burnt right into the bosom of any member of his party, for if what history relates is true, they had many a pleasant trip overseas before the War. He ought to be grateful to us for the economy we are practising by laying the ship, which I do not say is unsaleable, but would be worth very little if we did sell her, and not expending public money upon her. Criticism has been levelled against the Admiralty in the matter of the co-ordination of the various Departments. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) complained that the figure for this year was not in fact a true representation of the Admiralty policy, and he compared it with the figures of 1924 to show that we were spending something like £2,000,000 more this year than in 1924. That is perfectly true, but the answer is this. The expenditure on new construction this year is £5,000,000 more than it was in 1924, and if you take that into account it is quite obvious that the savings which we claim to make are in fact true savings and the sum the First Lord gave is the correct one.
I listened with some surprise to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Bristol (Captain Guest). He is an ex-Minister, and he took the opportunity of delivering a calculated attack upon the naval members of the Board of Admiralty. I cannot allow that to pass without protest. They are not able to defend themselves, and he knows that perfectly well. I am sorry he is not in his place to hear what I am saying. He complained that the Estimates were extremely difficult to understand, and that we were not at all lucid, so far 2725 as our spoken words were concerned, in our explanation of the figures. He complained of the bulk of the volume he held in his hand. The bulk of the volume is due to the fact that I believe we have met a criticism which has come year after year and a request for more and fuller information on the various topics and the subheads of the Votes. The bulk of the volume is because we are trying to do what we think is the right thing and to give the fullest information to the House of Commons.
Yes, but we want to put all our cards on the table and give as full information as possible to the House. The hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Amnion) said we were living on our stores. That is not so because we are actually withdrawing from stocks about £128,000 worth less than last year. With regard to tobacco and soap, which he also criticised us for saving, we are only agents, as no doubt he knows. If the men of the Royal Navy do not buy soap or tobacco we are only agents to sell, and if there is a saving it is a voluntary saving on the part of the men and it has nothing to do with any cheese-paring policy of the Admiralty.
I do not know what the reasons are, except those incidental to Supply. With regard to the Amendment, which after all is the main matter before the House, it divides itself into various parts. First it is a complaint of the growth of expenditure. It goes on to complain of the futility of expenditure on armaments, then it particularly condemns expenditure on submarines, and lastly it deals with the desirability of the Government producing a policy of disarmament through the League of Nations. I think I can best show what is the Government's view on this subject, and the subject of submarines generally, by reading to the House a statement which was made by Lord Balfour on behalf of the British Government and the British Empire:The British Empire delegation desires formally to place on record its opinion that the use of submarines, whilst of small value for defensive purposes, leads inevitably to 2726 acts which are inconsistent with the laws of war and the dictates of humanity, and the delegation desires that united action should be taken by all nations to forbid their maintenance, construction or employment.That is a very categorical statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government, from which we have not in any way changed. Therefore, no complaint can justly be lodged against the Government with regard to their policy. The only complaint which hon. Members opposite may have is that we have been as unsuccessful as they were when they were in office in getting it carried out. We still adhere to that policy, and hon. Members opposite must know that at the present time we are sending representatives to Geneva to take part in preparatory work, which was initiated by the Council of the League of Nations, in order to pave the way for a Conference on the limitation of land, sea and air forces.
Therefore, I feel, and I think the House will feel, that there is something unreal about this Resolution. Rome was not built in a day. The opinions which are expressed in the Resolution so far as submarines are concerned, everybody in this country will heartily endorse, but it is obvious that, as far as that part of the Resolution goes, which says:all such expenditure in preparations for warfare is wasteful and futile;it is impossible for the Government and Members on this side to accept it. If ever there was an opportunity given to the world for what the right hon. and gallant Member for North Bristol called a naval holiday, it has been the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to submarines since the War. Since the War, there have been laid down by the United States of America, 33 submarines; Japan, 61; France, 28; Italy, 4; and the whole of the British Empire, 4. If that is a race in armaments, we ought not to have started, for we would never get a place. It is quite clear, and this applies to all the Governments that have been in power in this country since the War, that what we preached at Washington we have been practising as far as we could. But it is obvious, from the figures which I have just read that the response has not been as good as many of us would have hoped for. Therefore the Government has, with full responsibility, to consider its position and the position of the Empire and its defence, 2727 and must decide on the policy which they believe to be the policy which gives the maximum of security with the minimum of expenditure.
Many hon. Members opposite no doubt feel, in fact they have said so, that if we disarm completely we would make such a gesture to the world that everybody else in the world would follow our example. We have had a small experiment, perhaps not a small one after all. We have been the slowest of any Power to start building ships of war of any sort since the War. Our proportion compared with the ships which have been laid down and built by other Powers is very small, when one considers the size of the Empire and its responsibilities. All the indications are such that we must look with great gravity at the position and do what we think is necessary to produce security, facing the situation as it is, and not as we would like it to be. We have therefore laid down the policy, which the House has endorsed, of a building programme.
I always feel that if hon. Members opposite—with one of whom I had not very long ago a debate on this subject—applied the same principles in their private life which they would apply to the public life of the country, they would be very sorry. I think the last thing that hon. Members opposite would do would be to cut the fire insurance on their house. The British Navy is an insurance for the trade and life of the nation. If one looks at the amount of our trade and the amount which the Navy costs to the taxpayer, it will be seen that the premium which the taxpayer pays in order to keep the security of our trade routes and an even flow of trade across the seas is small. The Navy only costs 2.69 per cent. of the whole of our overseas trade passing to and from this country.
That may be so, but this is not only a fire insurance, but an insurance against burglary and other things.
A general policy which covers everything. For these reasons, I must ask the House to resist the Resolution. The time has not yet 2728 arrived when we can take the risk of laying our necks bare, not because there is anybody in the street ready to cut our throats, but when you are in a situation where other people have weapons in their hands, I prefer, and I am sure the House will prefer, at least to wear a collar.
I am afraid that I cannot answer that question. It would not be competent for me to answer it. In the first place, I do not know, and, secondly, in the nature of things it must be a hypothetical question. Until we know what the circumstances of the particular action would be, it is very difficult to answer such a question.
§ Mr. DALTON
I confess to some disappointment at the utterances that have been made by the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Parliamentary Secretary. The First Lord made no mention of disarmament at all in his speech. He spoke of the next War with comparative equanimity. He was chiefly concerned to know whether the blow would be at our heart or at our stomach. Since he said nothing about disarmament, I naturally hoped the Parliamentary Secretary would deal with it in some detail, but he has not done so. I am sorry to find that there is no evidence on the part of the Government spokesmen of any really keen desire for disarmament. There are certain academic assurances about being willing to follow other people if they will take the lead, but there is no real drive to achieve disarmament. I was at Geneva last summer, and I had a humiliating experience in listening to the spokesman of the British Government—Sir Cecil Hurst—who did his best in my hearing to block every advance that was attempted by other countries towards disarmament. Sir Cecil Hurst in my hearing—it was not very fully reported in the British newspapers and perhaps I may be allowed to tell the House what he said—first of all objected even to the setting up of this Preparatory Commission to prepare the way for the disarmament conference. When he had to withdraw from that position, in the face of universal disapproval by delegates of all the other nations, he did nothing very striking in the way of 2729 facilitating any advance in the right direction.
The question to which I would like an answer is, whether the First Lord of the Admiralty has yet given any definite instruction to the naval experts under his control to prepare a bold and concrete plan which we might submit to other nations in order to secure, not unilateral disarmament, but some approach towards disarmament all round among the naval Powers of the world on a greater scale than we have yet seen? Sir Cecil Hurst said last September that one reason why we could not make any advance towards disarmament was because the naval, military, and air experts had not prepared any plan. I wish to know whether that is still true? Can the First Lord tell us whether he has instructed the naval experts of the Admiralty to prepare plans? If he does not reply, I shall assume that the statement made by Sir Cecil Hurst last September is still true, and that plans have not been begun.
§ Mr. DALTON
I am not criticising the utterances of a civil servant but the utterances of a member of the British Delegation to the League of Nations, who on this occasion was the spokesman of the British Empire.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is to be deprecated that an hon. Member should refer in this House to those who are not able to reply.
§ Mr. DALTON
Let me make it quite clear for the benefit of the hon. Member for South Leicester (Captain Water-house). Sir Cecil Hurst has my commiseration. The year before last he made a very able defence of the Geneva. Protocol, acting then as spokesman of the Labour Government's Delegation. I was sorry that no political member of the British delegation had the courage to get up and face the music at this last gathering of the Disarmament Commission, and that they fobbed off the job on a civil servant who, as the hon. Member rightly said, cannot defend himself. He is a civil servant for whom I have great respect. As the First Lord has not given us any assurance that any steps are being taken to prepare the way for disarmament, I can only hope that the omission, if there 2730 has been an omission, will be made good before the preparatory commission meets.
In advocating this Amendment I would like to submit to the House that what we are after is security. We believe that security can only come about as the result of all-round disarmament. We do not believe that disarmament will come as a result of security. We believe that you cannot have security in an armed world. If I may adopt the analogy employed by the Parliamentary Secretary in his speech, I quite agree that as long as anybody is wandering about with a knife there is danger your throat may be cut. That is why we wish to enter into a general compact to get rid of knives, so that we need not wear collars on a hot day. If I may apply an analogy of a domestic kind, we all feel secure this evening because we believe that no hon. Member has a bomb in his pocket-not even the strongest advocates of naval expansion. If we did believe that any hon. Member had a bomb in his pocket, we would not feel secure even if we had two bombs, one in each pocket, because he might throw first. That is the analogy of the international situation. You have a vicious circle: every country afraid of another; the United States and Japan, the British Empire, France and Italy. That vicious circle will never be broken until we have succeeded in achieving a policy by which those five great naval Powers, and the smaller ones, scrap their armaments to the last possible degree.
When economy is so much in the air, I am amazed that there is no move on the other side of the House towards an all-round scheme of naval disarmament which would enable further reductions to be made in the Super-tax, to allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to continue his policy in the interests of the wealthy taxpayers in this country, and to remit further burdens which press heavily on the well-to-do. When we see that the cost of the British Navy has increased from £10,500,000 in 1880 to £40,000,000 in 1910; £50,000,000 in 1914; £60,000,000—allowing something off, of course, for the rise in prices—in 1925; and only £2,000,000 less this year; and when we see there is a building programme to cost £58,000,000in addition—[An HON. MEMBER: "Who started it?"]—I am not talking about who started it, I am talking of what is the cost—to be spread over four years for an additional building programme, 2731 and an additional £12,000,000 spread over eight or 10 years for Singapore, the opportunities there for a cut in expenditure, if we would only persuade other countries to join us in making cuts, are enormous.
To sit still and say you will be content to follow other countries is quite a new departure in British policy. It is hardly worthy of a great Power and hardly a policy which should command enthusiastic support from hon. Members opposite. We are asking here for disarmament to be brought about through the League of Nations. We believe that the League of Nations, through its permanent machinery, periodical meetings of the Council, and Assembly, is the best means at present available to the world for continually focussing public attention on this question and keeping world opinion mobilised in the interests of disarmament. The argument that the United States is not yet a member of the League has no application because the United States has agreed to participate in the preparatory commission and in the full Disarmament Conference when it comes along. I only wish we were participating not only in words but with a little more active enthusiasm and vigour.
I would further like to submit on this point, that the adherence of the United States to the League's work on disarmament suggests that one of the best ways to get the United States into the League is to give America some evidence that the League of Nations is really at last going to do something big. If this disarmament conference is active and were to result in a success it would be one of the most hopeful ways of bringing the United States into the League. It would make an appeal to the idealism of the Protestant Churches and also to the material aspirations of the American taxpayer, who would see an opportunity of a further tax reduction by a decrease in the expenditure on armaments. Something has been said on the subject of the Ministry of Defence and I think I shall not stray outside the terms of this Amendment if I say that on this point we are quite in agreement with the statement made by an hon. Member on the other side of the House, to the effect that we do need more co-ordination between the sea, land and air forces and that disarmament must include disarmament in 2732 all these three directions. We need a Ministry of Defence in order that it shall become a Ministry of Disarmament, coordinating the disarmament efforts of the Navy, Army and Air Force.
But, that having being said, it is important to add that we have a special responsibility in the matter of naval disarmament, and a special opportunity of doing really valuable work in order to secure the acceptance of disarmament by other nations. In the first place, although it is admittedly true that air disarmament and army disarmament are problems of some technical difficulty, it is much less true of naval disarmament. I do not think that will be contradicted. In naval disarmament the essential thing to do is to limit the type of ships, the number of ships, the tonnage of ships, and the armament of ships. British naval experts have shown that this is a perfectly practicable problem. We have two working models of naval disarmament: the Treaty of Versailles and the disarmament of Germany under that Treaty, and the Treaty of Washington, of 1921. They are both wonderfully simple, and they are both standing proofs of the fact that, where there is the will and the power, there is a way to disarmament. Under the Treaty of Versailles the German Navy was reduced to very small proportions indeed, and it was largely the work of British naval experts. The fact that they have shown how simple it is encourages us to hope that, if the First Lord of the Admiralty would only instruct them to go ahead on a larger and more ambitious scale, they could easily suggest plans for making big reductions in the naval strength of all the Powers of the world by international agreement. I hope the German Navy, limited by the Treaty of Versailles to a few relatively small ships, may be regarded in the future not as a minimum, but as a maximum above which no other nation shall go, and that progressively below that we shall get a greater measure of disarmament verging towards complete and total disarmament which alone is the final solution of this problem.
With regard to the Washington Conference, there you have within certain limits a perfectly complete watertight and efficient system, due largely to the skill of British naval experts, as regards capital ships; and surely those experts are capable, if the First Lord will only 2733 give them their head, of preparing plans for an extension of this system to other nations not included in the Washington Agreement, the smaller nations. Instead of encouraging disarmament, we are sending cut a Naval Mission to Chile, to naval advisory staff, consisting of five naval and one air officer. Have they gone to advise Chile how to disarm, or have they gone to encourage Chile to pile up armaments and so start an armaments race in South America, which has hitherto been free from this disease? Perhaps they have taken with them an agent of one of the armament firms to get a few orders on the South American Continent. Meanwhile, I submit that the experience of the Treaty of Versailles and the Washington Conference has proved that naval disarmament is technically a comparatively simple problem, and a problem on which British naval experience, if only it was enthusiastically enlisted by the political head of the Admiralty, could make a great deal of difference to its success.
I come to submarines, and here I was delighted to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary that we are still in favour of the abolition of submarines. This Amendment asks for the scrapping of submarines. I entirely associate myself with it, and am glad to know that on that point, at any rate, we are in agreement. Further, I find myself in agreement with the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) when he said that a certain warning was necessary when this country asked for the abolition of submarines. It is intelligible that the chairman of Lloyds should be moved by humane impulses when a discussion of submarines is proceeding, but after all submarines are particularly objectionable to us in the same way that capital ships are particularly objectionable to certain other Powers, and I submit that, if we are to escape a suggestion of cant and insincerity when we ask for the scrapping of submarines, we shall have to go further and make an offer for the scrapping of capital ships as well. I would like to dissociate myself from the view which is held by some supporters of the abolition of submarines that you can transform war into a kind of parlour game which can be played according to humane and gentlemanly rules. I do not believe myself that the submarine is more 2734 an instrument of frightfulness than a capital ship in action or a light cruiser blockading and starving non-combatant women and children. They are all in their own way instruments of frightfulness, for all war is an exhibition of frightfulness. Our ultimate object is not to make nice moral distinctions between one weapon and another but to abolish the whole lot.
Take another illustration on the same point. I have never been able to understand why death and disablement resulting from poison gas is supposed to be more cruel than death and disablement resulting from shrapnel or bayonet wounds, or machine gun bullets. They are all of a piece. We have to go the whole hog and seek to sweep them all away. That is what we have to fight for, and what we are aiming at in this Amendment is total disarmament by international agreement. If we have to take it in stages then that is all the more reason why we should get a move on with the first stage at once and not wait for someone else to make a suggestion with which we can agree, a course which seems to be the present policy of His Majesty's Government. When we talk about this increase in the expenditure on armaments, against which we are protesting, we recognise that one of the darkest features promoting this continual increase are the intrigues, the corruptions and the briberies of the armament firms. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Streatham (Sir W. Lane Mitchell) appears to be somewhat of a specialist on this subject and has, no doubt, read a most remarkable speech, an historical speech, delivered by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) on the Naval Estimates in 1914, in which a complete and ruthless exposure was made of the proceedings of the armament firms in the pre-War period. only wish that that could be brought up to date, as, no doubt, it could be at the present time. It exhibits, amongst the directors of the armament firms, leading Conservative and Liberal politicians, retired civil servants, retired generals and retired admirals, and, among their shareholders, Bishops still on active service on behalf of the Prince of Peace.
§ Mr. DALTON
That only shows that they had not secured the services of the hon. and gallant Member. The case against the armament firms as agencies for increasing expenditure and embittering international relations is that they have fomented war scares, that they have told lies through the Press, and that they have attempted to bribe Government officials in many countries.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Can the hon. Gentleman give any practical example whatever to prove his statement?
§ Mr. DALTON
I was just coming to one. This is all very interesting to those who are inclined to defend British armament firms. I am not suggesting that British armament firms are worse than Krupps or Schneiders or any of the other cosmopolitan fraternity. But this will interest the hon. and gallant Member, as a loyal British citizen. In 1913 the Japanese Admiral Ito was sentenced to a considerable term of imprisonment, by the judgment of a Japanese Court, for accepting bribes in connection with the building of a battle cruiser for the Japanese Navy, from representatives, first, of Messrs. Vickers, second, of Messrs. Yarrow, and, third, of a firm whose name has been familiar in recent Debates in this House—Messrs. G. and J. Weir, who supplied the minor adornments of the battle cruiser. Full accounts of this trial will be found in the newspaper "Forward," in case the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not read Japanese, but fuller accounts will be found in the Japanese Press of that date. Am I asked for further examples? [HON. MEMBEBS: "Yes!"] In 1923, in the course of the summer, I found myself in the much disputed Port of Fiume on the Adriatic, once a Hungarian and now an Italian port. I saw there the desolate ruins of the Whitehead Torpedo Works. That was a factory for the making of torpedoes, in which the controlling interest was held by our armament ring and notably by the firm of Vickers. Torpedoes had been made there for the Austrian navy, dividends on their manufacture had accrued to British share holders, and the torpedoes themselves sank British troopships in the Mediterranean during the War. So little does it matter, with the international ramifications of defence—so little does it 2736 matter who gets killed with these weapons, as long as the shareholders receive their dividends.
Yet one more example. A little while before the War Armstrongs got a large order to fortify the Dardanelles. They built the forts of the Dardanelles, and put the guns into them. The dividends on that achievement were drawn by British shareholders. The guns from those forts helped to sink the British battleships in their attack upon the Narrows. [HON. MEMBERS: "Mines!"] I dare say the mines were made by the same firm. Even if they were not, there is this further to be added—that Vickers had been supplying artillery with shells which were fired into the Australian, New Zealand and British troops as they were scrambling up Anzac Cove and Cape Helles. Did it matter to the directors of these armament firms, so long as they did business and expanded the defence expenditure of Turkey, that their weapons mashed up into bloody pulp all the morning glory that was the flower of Anzac, the youth of Australia and New Zealand, yes and of the youth of our own country? These men, these directors of armament firms, are the highest and completest embodiment of capitalist morality. The hon. Member for South Leicester (Captain Waterhouse), like myself, is an ex-service man. Perhaps it was his good fortune, as it was mine, not to be in Gallipoli. Had he been there he might not have survived to sit and grin in this House when matters of this sort are discussed. This system, of which I have been giving a few examples in answer to requests, had its defenders before the War. I do not know whether it has defenders still.
Article 8 of the Covenant of the League says that the members of the League agree that the manufacture by private enterprise of munitions and implements of war is "open to grave objection"—that is the anæmic language of official documents; I would have used a stronger term. I would have been glad if the Parliamentary Secretary or the First Lord could have told us in their speeches today what steps, if any, the Government are taking for the further control of the manufacture of armaments by private firms and of the arms traffic which still goes on. We believe that the only final 2737 and drastic solution of the problem is to wipe out these accursed armament firms altogether, and to say that, what ever armaments are required, they shall be manufactured in State factories and State dockyards, and that private shareholders—
§ Mr. DALTON
No. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) understands me. We fought an election together, and he won then. He will allow me, I am sure, on this occasion to finish my argument so as to allow a Division to take place at 10 o'clock. The principle for which we stand is a perfectly simple one—that the munitions of war should be manufactured, not by private enterprise, because it is evident that you lead shareholders in these firms into temptations that they cannot resist, but should be manufactured in State factories and State dockyards and that no export whatever should be allowed to backward peoples, to small nations who have lived quite peacefully and happily without large armies and navies and who should have no occasion to receive these benefits of civilisation from the richer countries. A beginning was made with the control of the arms traffic in the Convention of 1924 at Rome, which has not yet been fully carried into effect, and in the Washington Agreement so far as the signatories to it were concerned, and I hope that the Government, although they have given us no sign of it, are prepared to press forward along what is now, to a very large extent, a path of common agreement. We simply cannot tolerate, after the lessons of the War and the experiences we have had, a continuance of this gross abuse by the armament firms of their opportunities.
The Amendment which we are putting forward calls for an effort by His Majesty's Government to take the lead in this matter and to take the lead, not so much in itself disarming in advance of other nations, but in showing that it is willing to disarm with other nations; and to take an opportunity of putting all its naval experience and expertness at the disposal of the International Conference in order to carry out the largest amount of disarmament we can get. I believe the prestige of this country 2738 is sufficiently great to enable us to put the job through at Geneva, if we only pull all our weight. The trouble is that we are not pulling all our weight. If we did so the prestige of this country, the strength of this country, the example of this country would be sufficient to make that Conference a tremendous and dramatic success. If, on the other hand, we are backward, the Conference may end in smoke and nothing may be done. My appeal is that Britain should lead in this matter; that we should lead in preparing for the achievement of disarmament along the lines already laid in outline before the Conference.
If we set an example to the rest of the world, I believe we shall get a tremendous rally of support from practically every other nation, or, at any rate, from all the decent elements in every other nation, which will be sufficient to carry that policy to victory. We are a Great Power not only in material wealth, but, if we will, we are a Great Power in daring and in imagination and in righteousness, and now is the time to prove that we can lead in these respects. Let us give an even stronger lead at Geneva than that given by Mr. Secretary Hughes for the United States in 1921 at Washington. Those who have studied the proceedings of that Conference know that the chief reason why it succeeded so easily, within its limited sphere, was because the United States came forward at the start with a big, daring, concrete, detailed, worked-out plan. If we do the same at Geneva the same success, I believe, will be ours. I appeal to the House to support the Amendment in order that those who fought in the War to end war may have some hope that they will die happy, having seen the world made safe, at any rate for their children, by the action we take to-day, and that when our time comes we who have sur-vised the holocaust of that War can say that we strove our hardest to make secure the supreme sacrifice of those who laid down their lives upon the battlefields and oceans of the world.
§ 10.0 P.M
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I am sorry to intervene at this late hour, but I find it necessary to express my views on this Amendment which appears to have some bearing upon the Amendment standing on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). 2739 I appreciate the spirit in which the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) introduced his Amendment; yet, I find that it is inadequate and incomplete compared with the other Amendment to which I have referred. I feel that the present Amendment, while it has strong points in its favour, contains subtle elements of danger, and opens an avenue for the ambiguous phraseologist who can support it without supporting its logical consequence in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. As was said by the last speaker, there is very little difference between the cruelties and murders carried out by means of submarines, and the cruelties and murders carried out by long-range guns and other weapons.
When the representatives of the Admiralty were to-day pointing out that Britain emphatically demanded that submarines should not be used, they did not point out that the whole world appreciated the fact that the submarine was becoming a weapon against the British Admiralty bullies. Those nations who could not afford to spend large sums of money on naval armaments, found that the best weapon with which to keep off the British battleships, was the cheaper and most effective submarine. The demand by the British nation and the Admiralty that other nations should cut down their submarines is a very transparent piece of hypocrisy. It is a claim by the British Navy to smash up everybody and to advocate only those vessels which Britain possesses and which it is impossible for small nations to build. Britain hypocritically runs down the submarine, which is the only weapon of self-defence against the British bullies ruling the waves.
Though I admire the spirit and appreciate the good intentions of the Mover of this Amendment, I see in it nothing but hypocrisy and cant. In the second part of the Amendment we find that the wording provides a refuge for the ambiguous phraseologists—the people who talk of disarmament and five cruisers at the same time; the people who talk of peace and naval armaments at the same time. It sounds very well to stand up to-day and say that this question is to be settled simultaneously by all the nations of the world through the League of Nations. Within a few weeks we shall be told that 2740 the League of Nations cannot discuss the problem because America and Russia are not in it. If the other nations do settle down to discuss it, then we shall be told by those who, as a mere political phrase, believe in the League of Nations, that there are dangers in this discussion, that France wants to curtail her own Navy and set up another Navy in the name of Poland, or that Italy wants to curtail her own Navy, but wants to set up another in the name of some other Power.
We have an example of that to-day in connection with British policy. The First Lord complacently told us that British naval policy was towards curtailment and disarmament, but that there was going to be an Indian Navy. Why deceive the world by such untruthful phraseology? It is not an Indian Navy; it is to be another instrument for bullying the Asiatic nations by the British naval power in Eastern waters. The people of India never asked for it, and have no voice in it. The only reason for calling it an Indian Navy, as the First Lord said, is that India will have to pay for it. The people of India will not be permitted to vote upon it, but will be told it is a reserved subject and that the Viceroy can help himself to as much money as he likes for it, while you deceive the world by saying you have created an Indian Navy. That means the British Admiralty are preparing for the Disarmament Conference by creating a second edition of the British Navy camouflaged as an Indian Navy.
That policy will be adopted by other nations on the League of Nations, and it is on this account that, while I support the Resolution in its spirit and intentions, I find that, when it comes to the actual test and working, it will again be a sort of putting off of the evil day and never taking any practical measures. It is on that account that we, who are sincere in our intentions, and who believe that this is a step towards disarmament, should equally be ready to vote for the Amendment, which means what it says and puts the whole position quite clearly. I was quite pleased with the hon. Member for Dundee, who is responsible for this Amendment, for making it clear that it will only be completed by himself going into the Lobby in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, and we hope that everybody will 2741 follow the same example. We are told by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), that we who oppose armaments are merely talking to the mob and the gallery. I personally confess to it. I am talking to the "mob," and I am talking to the "gallery." I candidly confess that I am not coming to this House to talk to the social snobs and swankers. I am coming to talk through this House to those whom you now describe as "mob" and "gallery," but whom, on election day, you describe as the democratic electors and citizens of Great Britain.
I am putting the point of view to this House which I would put to the mob and to the gallery, who are among themselves far more honourable and honest individuals than the average members in the top of society who do not call Themselves the mob and the gallery. The view of the persons in the mob and the gallery is to be taken into consideration, and from that point of view we should ask the Admiralty to explain clearly what they mean by the British Navy being absolutely essential to safeguard the ships bringing food. I quite agree with the Admiralty that the British Navy would be performing such a function if a war broke out, but the Navy is first provoking the war and then proving its usefulness in the war. But during times of peace what is the meaning of our food ships being guarded by our naval ships? It is nothing of the kind when there is no war going on. The ships of the nations go about freely, except when intercepted in Eastern waters by British armed forces. There is nothing in our experience in ordinary life to show that when the ships of trade and commerce are going about the seas certain nations come along and attack them or capture them. We have not seen, in modern days, a wholesale practice of piracy, and we have not seen that the British commercial vessels are always accompanied by torpedoes, cruisers, and battleships.
That is merely a talking point to frighten the ordinary person. The food ships and the commercial ships are quite, safe without any naval ships protecting them day by day in times of peace, and that argument in itself is not only incomplete, but very misguiding. About 85 per cent. of the people of this country find that their food is not safe and that 2742 the abundance of their necessities of life is not secure, not only in spite of the big Navy, but on account of the big Navy, and the capitalist interests which are guarded and protected by that big Navy and the big Army. From their point of view, they require a machinery which would battle against the profiteers in foodstuffs, and not battleships which watch from a distance the ships carrying food to and fro. That is merely a talking point without any practical experience proving it to be true. It was suggested that we are there only for defence, but there is always a hilarious cheer when we say that the British Navy is to keep up the British principle ofRule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves.Therefore, you say two contradictory things at the same time. You pretend that you are keeping a Navy for the defence of your own little island home, and at the same time that you are keeping the same Navy to rule the waves of all the seas and oceans in the world. We find an example. The First Lord of the Admiralty told us that now for the first time a ship was going into Chinese waters with an aeroplane service attached to it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—Yes, we were told that for the first time a ship equipped with aeroplanes was now going out to Chinese waters. That is an indication. There were no ships bringing food from China to this country which were in danger. There were no ships that had sent an "S.O.S." to the Admiralty saying that the Chinamen were attacking them, yet we are told that this ship is going there in order to secure the safety of the British citizens in the country of the Chinese. If a Chinese ship came to Liverpool to safeguard the interests and safety of the Chinese citizens in Liverpool—
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
On apoint of Order. Has this anything to do with the Amendment on the Paper?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think it is related to the words of the Amendment:That this House views with great concern the vast expenditure upon the Navy.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
If we now forget the old spirit of the Navy being kept for ruling the waves of the ocean, and fall back on the claim that the Navy is kept 2743 because other people have got their naval forces and we have to safeguard ourselves, I want to suggest quite seriously that it is not a practical measure to wait till the League of Nations calls a meeting of all the nations to come to an honest and a sincere conclusion for disarmament. They will not do it; hon. Members know that very well. There will be some intrigue, some plot, some hitch, some rearrangement of balance of power, some grouping within the League of Nations of smaller groups of allies, and so on. The only practical way, it seems to me, is that the Admiralty should now devote itself sincerely to coming to terms with large naval Powers individually. If, for instance, you claim that America and Britain are life-long friends, that they are never going to war with each other, then you should enter into a sort of partnership by maintaining common naval forces. You might even take into partnership Japan, and even have one-third of the personnel American, one-third Japanese, and one-third British in each ship.
If you are sincere in your professions that you do not intend to go to war with Japan, if you are really truthful and honest in saying that you are not building a dock at Singapore in order to attack Japan, if you are quite sincere in believing that England and America will never go to war, that it is unthinkable, then why is it so ridiculous for
§ America, Great Britain, and Japan to go into partnership, and to maintain one naval force, so that each of the three countries can be relieved of two-thirds of its naval expenditure? By such process of partnership, and by extending it, you would induce the League of Nations to adopt a measure for complete disarmament.
§ The other point which strikes me is this. Why should we be afraid, not only of discussing, but even of accepting quite frankly Amendments similar to that of which the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley and others have given notice? Those who vote for this Amendment, by voting simultaneously for that Amendment, encourage the League of Nations in the thought that there is a large and influential section of British opinion which not only wants other nations to do something, but which is prepared to face the risk, which believes in peace, which believes in the spirit of friendship, which does not believe in bombs and battleships, and is prepared to go forward. I, therefore, beg to support this Amendment, not in its wording, but in its spirit, and I also mean to support the other Amendment when it comes up.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 196; Noes 113.2745
|Division No. 87.]||AYES||[10.19 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Fielden, E. B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Finburgh, S.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Caine, Gordon Hall||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Campbell, E. T.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth.S.)||Gadle, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony|
|Atkinson, C.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Balniel, Lord||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Gates, Percy|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Christie, J. A.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bonn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cope, Major William||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Couper, J. B.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Blundell, F. N.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Gunston Captain D. W.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Brass, Captain W||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davison, Sir w. H. (Kensington, S.)||Harland, A.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks,Newb'y)||Elveden, Viscount||Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd,Henley)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fairfax, Captain J. G||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Henn. Sir Sydney H.|
|Burman, J. B.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. S Wh'by)||Mitched, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, C.)|
|Hohler, sir Gerald Fitzroy||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Murchison, C. K.||Storry Deans, R.|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Nelson, Sir Frank||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Howard. Captain Hon. Donald||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Strickland, Sir Gerald|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Nuttall, Ellis||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hurd, Percy A.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Jacob, A. E.||Peto. G. (Somerset, Frome)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pilcher, G.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Price, Major C. W. M.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Ramsden, E.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Bees, Sir Beddoe||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Locker Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Rentoul, G. S.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Rice, Sir Frederick||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lougher, L.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Luce, Major-Gen. sir Richard Harman||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Ruggles-Brice, Major E. A.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Macintyre, Ian||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Rye, F. G.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Malone, Major P. B.||Salmon, Major I.||Withers, John James|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Mason. Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Sandon, Lord|
|Meller, R. J.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Viscount Curzon and Captain Bowyer.|
|Merriman, F. B.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hardie, George D.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks. W. R., Elland)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Rose, Frank H.|
|Amnon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scurr, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barr, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesday)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hutchison, Sir Robert(Montrose)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|cluse, W. S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lansbury, George||Townend, A. E.|
|Connolly, M.||Lawson, John James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lee, F.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lowth, T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||MacDonald, Rt, Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Warne, G. H.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Mackinder, W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||March, S.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Maxton, James||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dennison, R.||Montague, Frederick||Welsh. J. C.|
|Duncan, C.||Naylor, T. E.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gillett, George M.||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gosling, Harry||Palin, John Henry||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Paling, W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Potts, John S.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Riley, Ben|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland||Ritson, J.|
§ Questions, "That Mr. Speaker do now2746
§ leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.2747
§ Supply considered in Committee.
§ [Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That 102,675 Officers, Seamen, Boys, and Royal Marines be employed for the Sea Service, together with 450 for the Royal Marine Police, borne on the books of His Majesty's Ships, at the Royal Marine Divisions, and at Royal Air Force Establishments, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by 100,000 men.
The reduction I am moving is similar to one which has been moved on two previous occasions, except that on those occasions it was on the Army and the Air Force Estimates that the Amendment was moved. But the reasons are just the same, and the only difference in my position in moving this reduction lies in the fact that I am in a different geographical position from what I was on the last occasion. I am one of those persons who cannot quite alter my mind according to the place I happen to be in, and on this question I hold exactly the same view as I did 25 years ago. On that account, no matter what position or what place I am in, I shall still try to carry out those views. It is perfectly true that the party with which I am associated, and of which I am a member, at the Labour Conference turned down the following resolution:That this conference is of opinion that it should be the policy of the Labour party in Parliament to vote against all Military and Naval Estimates.I know that decision was supported by some of my hon. Friends who are now Members of this House, and amongst them was the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee). That resolution was defeated by 2,229,000 votes against 808,000. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Probably only some two or three hon. Members will go into the Lobby with me upon this Amendment, but I have known causes supported at one time by a very small minority which afterwards have become big majorities. No doubt the vote will be heavy against this Amendment. Although the speeches made from this side, with about two exceptions, are speeches which, if they mean anything, mean that they should be voting with me in the next Division.
2748 The position of some of us was that when Labour came into power our first duty would be to call a world conference for peace, and we should not start by reducing the Army in order to increase the Navy, or by reducing the Navy in order to increase the Air Force. We knew that we could not demobilise all the Armies in one week, and there is all the difference in the world between that and making a temporary arrangement until you can do away with armament altogether. The Government are now carrying out a policy to which the Labour party is opposed. I would like to point out that during the War the Labour party was divided as to whether we should support the War, and there were a number of conscientious objectors who suffered imprisonment for their opinions and who refused under any circumstances to take up arms. I appreciate what those men did, and I have honoured them for it, but I would like to point out that a good many are likely to refuse to take up arms in the next war, and if there be another war I hope it will be a case of "the old men first and the young men last." I am quite certain that if it is a case of the old men first there will not be any war.
Any man who is of military age, and would be likely to be eligible in the next war, has, however, no right to plead a conscientious objection to taking part in that war if he votes for the provision of armaments for other people to use. On that there cannot be any two opinions. If a man objects himself to use armaments, he has no right to vote for the manufacture of armaments for other people to use. Being in that position, although I am not young enough to be of military age—but I hope I am young enough in spirit to fight for anything I believe in—I want to call the attention of my own comrades behind me, and of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches, to the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Ponsonby) has been engaged upon what is called a great "peace letter" campaign; and, although it is perfectly true that the party to which I belong has decided, as a party, against the policy I am advocating, yet there is in our movement a very large number of men who support, at any rate in words, the principle that I am standing for here to-night. All those who signed 2749 this peace letter pledged themselves that, if another war takes place, they will not take any part in it whatsoever, and I believe some tens of thousands of signatures have been obtained to that letter, which declares that those who signed it will take no part in the next war.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The House, I know, at this time of night, is not a very good atmosphere in which to deal with a serious subject. The hon. Member for the Sutton Dvision of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is at all times very eager to, as it were, put herself in the wrong as regards her attitude of mind. I am not responsible for the class war, which is a part of the industrial and social conditions that have grown up, and I mean in this House, whatever I have done in public life, to help to get rid of the conditions that produce the class war. When the Noble Lady is as old as I am, and has done as much as I have to try to remove those conditions, she can chip in and say whatever she pleases, without the assistance of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir L. Scott). I would point out to the Noble Lady that, whatever her consistency may consist of, my consistency on this matter cannot be questioned. I will not support, and never have supported, violence in any shape or form, by workers or anyone else. I am denounced by many people outside this House because of my attitude on armaments and violence for the working class to use, but if I, like the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth, believed in the use of arms at all, I should fight with the working class to turn those arms against those who oppress them at the present time in this country, and not in any other country.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am arguing against the Navy and against the need of a Navy. The Noble Lady asked me what about the class war, and I have tried to tell her that I want to remove 2750 the conditions that make for class war. If, like many hon. Members opposite, I believed in the use of arms at all, I should support those who want to use those arms against the possessing classes of the country and should never dream of going abroad to fight those who are not my enemies at all.
When the Noble Lady, with her usual politeness, interrupted me I was saying the hon. Member for Bright side has conducted a campaign in support of a peace letter that is to be presented to the Prime Minister, which pledges all who sign it to take no part in the next war. All those hon. Friends of mine behind who have signed it cannot with any consistency vote against this reduction, because if they are net going to take part in the next war they have no right to expect other people to take part in it. Mr. Ernest Bevan, Miss Margaret Bondfield, Mr. C. T. Cramp, the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Smillie), and Mr. A. V. Swayles, who was then President of the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, signed this letter:The peace letter to the Prime Minister recently issued for signature, which contains a refusal on the part of the signatories to support or assist a Government which resorts to arms for the settlement of an international dispute, appears to us to be a good means of allowing people to express their abhorrence of the brutality, immorality and futility of modern war. We recommend it to the favourable consideration of trade unionists, who must realise that all prospect of social and industrial amelioration is vain so long as any possible menace of war remains.That proves that there are a considerable number of trade unionists who, like myself, believe that the production of armaments and the organising of the means of war really means that there will be war. It was said just now that the British Navy was an insurance. I have heard that. I used to hear Lord Grey, then Sir Edward Grey, and I heard that famous speech of Lord Haldane, who spoke for three hours on the reorganisation of the War Department, and the whole argument used on those occasions was that we were to ensure that if we had a big Navy and an efficient Army that would really mean that there would not be any war. We know that it did not come off. We had a war. I suppose we are not going to deny that the War took place, and I suppose it is as true now as it has been at any time in the history of this country 2751 that every war that Britain has been engaged in, certainly in my lifetime, and every war that I know anything about has had for its object not the uplifting of people, not the freeing of people, but the plunder of people by the most powerful class.
In order to bring that home to the Committee, I should like to point out what had happened in regard to a country where there is likely to be interference by the British Government, namely, China. I should like to point out the treatment that country has received at our hands. I will take the case of India first. I am sorry that the Home Secretary is not present, because I intend to quote a speech which he made, in support of what I have just said:We did not conquer India for the benefit of the Indians. I know that it is said at missionary meetings that we have conquered India to raise the level of the Indians. That is cant.I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I very seldom agree with him.We conquered India as an outlet for the goods of Great Britain. We conquered India by the sword, and by the sword we shall hold it.Someone in the audience had the decency to call out, "Shame." The right hon. Gentleman proceeded:Call shame if you like. I am stating facts.I am stating what the right hon. Gentleman said, that we go into countries for plunder.I am interested in missionary work in India, and have done much work of that kind, but I am not such a hypocrite as to say that we hold India for the Indians.I do not know what the Under-Secretary for India thinks about that.We hold it as the finest outlet for British goods in general, and for Lancashire cotton goods in particular.What of our dealings with China. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Navy?"] We are told that we need the Navy to keep the seas and to carry our troops where they are needed. We wanted our Navy in 1840 to carry on a war against China. What was that war about? The Navy was used to insist that against the will of the Chinese people they should be compelled to allow the importation of opium. When that war broke out Dr. Arnold said: 2752The war was so wicked as to be a national sin of the greatest possible magnitude.Those were days before such pacifists as I talked about these things. [Interruption.] This was the first war against China, and I am quoting in support of my statement that the British Navy is used in order t:-plunder weak nations. Mr. Gladstone said:A war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated to cover this country with permanent disgrace, I do not know of and have not read of. The British flag is hoisted to protect an infamous contraband practice.Sir George Stanton, one of our representatives at Canton who, I suppose, would be able to give facts and would not be likely to give them coloured against his own country, said:I never denied the fact that if there had been no opium smuggling there would have been no war. Even if the opium habit had been permitted to run its natural course, if it had not received an extraordinary impulse from the measures taken by the East India Company to promote the growth which almost quadrupled the supply, I believe it never would have created that extraordinary alarm in the Chinese authorities which betrayed them into the adoption of a sort of coup d'etat for its suppression. Prom 1842 to 1858 the Chinese Government steadily refused to consent to the expansion of the trade.Here is what a poor heathen Emperor said. [Laughter.] I am astounded that some people will grin at this sort of thing. If I were a patriotic Englishman like some hon. Members opposite I would go and hide my head in shame. This House boasts of its Christianity every morning. This is what the heathen Chinese Emperor said. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Navy?"] The Navy was the means by which you forced this iniquitious traffic on the Chinese people. This Emperor lost three of his sons through the vice of opium, and we are told that he died of a broken heart. That is something for the jeers of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He said:It is true I cannot prevent the introduction of the flowing poison; gain-seeking and corrupt men will for profit and sensuality defeat my wishes, but nothing will induce me to derive a revenue from the vice and misery of my people.Our people, Christians, were not above getting plunder out of forcing these vices on the Chinese people against their will.
§ Mr. HANNON
On a point of Order. May I ask what these arguments of the 2753 hon. Gentleman have to do with the Amendment before the Committee for the reduction of the present personnel of the Navy? Is he entitled to produce material of this quality in support of his argument?
§ Mr. HANNON
Is the hon. Gentleman entitled to quote a whole series of historical statements in support of the reduction of the personnel of the Navy to-day?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I want to prove my contention that the British Navy has been used, not in defence but for offence, and in the most disgraceful manner. If the Committee would only bear with me, I think they would see that I will bring it right up-to-date.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Is the hon. Member merely proving that if China had a strong Navy she would not have been forced to have this traffic?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Here is another quotation:When we steamed up to Canton and saw it covered with evidence of unrivalled industry and neutral fertility, I thought bitterly of those who with the most selfish object are trampling underfoot this ancient civilisation.He says again:Canton doomed to destruction through the folly of its own rulers! This abominable East, abominable not so much in itself as because it is strewn all over with our violence and cruelty. In our relations with China we have acted scandalously.One Chinese is reported to have said to a missionary:You foreigners exhort us to virtue. First take away your opium, and then talk to us about your Jesus.
§ Mr. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Is the hon. Member really in order in criticising the Navy for what it did in 1860, when it was acting under the orders of the Government. He should move a Vote of Censure on the Government of 1860.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
If there are any Service Members here, I should like to 2754 say that I am perfectly aware that when they join the Forces they are under orders and have to obey them, and I do not hold any single officer or man responsible for this.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Sir William Mitchell-Thomson)
What did you say at the Albert Hall?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Captain FitzRoy, you must really protect me from these interruptions. I should be out of order if I dragged in the Army, but what I said at the Albert Hall I am perfectly prepared to stand by if anyone challenges me upon it. I pass on to bring hon. Members a little nearer the present time. [Interruption.] The Marquess of Hartington, the late Duke of Devonshire, speaking in his capacity as Secretary for India in 1880—[Interruption]—said this:I must make a protest against an invitation to consider this question from the point of view of the dictates of morality and to altogether neglect the subject as it relates to India and our Indian policy. My hon. Friend says he should be sorry to be suspected of judging this question on the low standard of Indian finance, but it is a question of Indian finance.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It was the Navy which made it possible for British merchants to make fortunes out of the opium traffic and push it on to the Chinese people, and I do not want the British Navy to be used in the same way again now. I point out another thing. The celebrated Li Hung Chang—[Interruption]—said this—[Laughter]. It is typical of an Englishman to laugh at other people's language and names, and I am certain my pronunciation of this name was perfectly correct. All you ignorant people can do is to laugh at the name of one of the greatest Chinese that ever lived. I am astonished at your ignorance. This celebrated Chinese said what I think you are proving to-night:A gentleman regards what he has got; a vulgar person what will pay. No man ever rivets the chains of slavery around his brother's neck but God silently rivets the other end around the neck of the tyrant.And all that the chief or boss of hon. Members opposite can do is to laugh at—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Hon. Members or their fathers sent to China—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or mothers!"]—That is a very sensible remark. I suppose you had a mother too. [Interruption.] I must ask you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, to protect me—
§ 11.0 P.M
§ Mr. LANSBURY
No speaker on the other side of the Committee has been subjected to anything like the treatment I have received. I do not want to notice interjections, but if a Member opposite, when I am quoting a Chinaman, chucks in a word about his mother, I think he ought to be ashamed of himself. The Gentleman whose ancestors have made fortunes out of opium might have the decency to remain quiet, or I shall say something. [Interruption.]
I must ask hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee to refrain from interruptions.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I was about to tell the Committee why I quoted China. It looked, after 1840, as if, with the cession of Hong Kong to this country and the settlement that we were able to make there, our position in China could never be shaken. I think that to-day we are reaping in China exactly what we sowed. I have read a book which I daresay other hon. Gentlemen have read, written by an American who stayed in China for some time. It is entitled, "Why China sees red," and the reasons he gives are very largely the reasons which I have given, though he mentioned many more which I have not time to specify.
No forcible means can save a nation or maintain what is wrong. It is because I hold that belief that I am against this Vote. China is a case in point. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have shouted because I quoted China. Let us take something much more modern. There are those present who will remember the time of which we have been reminded by the memoirs of the late Queen Victoria. I refer to the Russians and Constantinople. I remember sitting up in the 2756 Public Gallery of this House and hearing the most famous of the speeches made by Mr. Gladstone and others during that controversy. At that time we were being urged to fight in order to keep the Russians out of Constantinople. We fought the Crimean War for exactly the same reasons.
My hon. Friend the Member for Peck-ham (Mr. Dalton) called attention a few minutes ago to the Anzacs and others who lost their lives in Gallipoli. I suppose the House knows that we fought that fight in the hope that we should capture Constantinople and be able to hand it over to Russia, in fulfilment of a pledge to the late Czar that he should have Constantinople. I have had the advantage of having read the memoirs written by Sir George Buchanan, by the late French Ambassador at Leningrad, and by Signor Nitti, the Italian statesman. No one will deny that in 1856 and 1876 this country fought in order to keep Russia out of Constantinople. The men whose graves are all along the Crimea died for that purpose, but those who died in the last War fought to put Russia into Constantinople.
When I am told that the British Navy is necessary for British interests, I want to know what British interests really mean and of what they really consist. I desire, in conclusion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am not concluding because of anything hon. Members opposite have said. I am against enlistment in the Army and the Navy and the Naval Air Force because, as I see it, men are conscripted by hunger. They are not free volunteers. The great bulk of the men who join, according to the figures given from the Front Bench opposite, are unemployed. They are conscripted by unemployment; but, even so, those men when they enlist, and go out in the ships, do so, not for their own interests, but for the interests of and in support of capitalistic exploitation in every quarter of the world.
Mr. GOODMAN ROBERTS
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member entitled to give this description of the armed forces of the Crown?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
During the last War we were told again and again—and people 2757 who contradicted it were locked up—that it was a war to end war, that once German militarism and the German Fleet were destroyed, we would have peace in the world.
We know that was a lie. We know that those who said it knew it was a lie. We know that it was propaganda in order to keep up people's spirits. We know that that war was waged, just as every other war is waged, on behalf of plunder and loot in Europe, in Asia, in Africa—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw !"]—and we know it was an abominable lie to say we went to war on behalf of little Belgium. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw !"]
I think we should get on faster if hon. Members would allow the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley to continue.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am not. I am denouncing the diplomacy, secret and otherwise, which led to, and the cant and humbug of prelates and others who supported, the most predatory war in history.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The Navy played a great part in the War. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Well, I have not said otherwise. I have nothing to say except in praise of the men who joined the Navy and did what they thought right. I am challenging the use of the Navy in the late War which was engineered on behalf of the British capitalists. If anyone wants to know how the British Navy was used in the War, I commend to them the book just published containing the intimate letters and diary of Colonel House and I ask them to lead the statements of Signor Nitti, the Italian Minister, M. Paleologne—I think it was—the French Ambassador at Leningrad, and Sir George Buchanan, our own Ambassador at Leningrad.
When you have finished reading them you will know that the British Navy and the men whose lives were sacrificed, were sacrificed for some of the meanest and most contemptible policies of which this country or any other country has been 2758 guilty. I challenge the whole position that one country or one nation was wholly responsible for what happened in that war between European nations, but I do maintain that the wars are never ware that help the workers or are wage don behalf of the masses of the people, who, however, pay, as they are paying to-day. I have been interrupted several times by being told that I dishonour the men who fought in the late War.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] What cant and humbug that is! Where is the man of you who can deny that this night 200,000 of the men who fought in your capitalist war are in Poor Law institutions? You talk about honouring the men—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
There are men who fought in the British Navy in the workhouses of this country, and when I am told by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite about honour, ask the Minister of Health about honour.
I have asked the hon. Member to get back to the subject of the Vote, and he has gone further from it than before.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am arguing that the men who joined up to fight in the late War, as a result of joining up, are, hundreds and thousands of them, now in Poor Law institutions, living on what hon. and right hon. Members opposite call pauper relief, and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health does his best to cut down that miserable portion that is given them, and the reason why I am objecting to this Vote is, first, that wars are conceived only—
I would ask hon. Members to allow the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley to proceed with his speech without interruption.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I should have finished some time ago but for hon. and right hon. Members. I was saying I am against this Vote, and am asking it to be reduced because wars when they are waged by the Navy are waged on behalf of capitalism and exploitation, and when the men come back home, instead of 2759 being decently treated, they are treated as paupers with nowhere to live, or with their dependents living often in barns, workhouses and other institutions of a like character. I am also against it because whatever this House may think or say, I am sure that nations which depend upon this sort of force and this sort of methods in order to maintain themselves, in the end go down, and to-day, after the last War, we are reaping the result in poverty, in penury, and the destitution of multitudes of our people. Instead of falling victims to those who say, "Think of what will happen if you do not have armaments." I want the British people to consider what they do get when they do have the armaments and when they do have war. It is for those reasons that I move the Amendment.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
If the hon. Gentleman who has moved this Amendment had confined himself merely to arguing on pacifism and on the question whether it was better for all countries to do without armed forces, I should have had a good deal more respect for the Amendment than I have for some of those who, while paying a sort of lip-service to the Navy, spend all their time trying to vote against any sum which would make it efficient. He has not risen for the purpose of arguing on that line at all; he has risen to-night for the purpose of provoking and hurting the feelings of everybody who believes that we entered the War in a righteous cause, harassing the hearts of those who have lost what is dearest to them. He has attacked, not the capitalists of the whole world, not the armed forces of the whole world, but he has singled out his own country for his attack. I can only say that I think the House has listened to the provocative speech he has made with the greatest patience he could possibly have expected, and I am not going to argue the question with him. I am only going to appeal to the Committee not to be led into an angry discussion into which his speech naturally would tempt everybody. He told us when he got up he only expected to get two or three people to follow him into the Lobby. That shows the amount of support he thinks he will get. Against his arguments, so far as the Navy is concerned, I will simply say that if he thinks 2760 this country is going to submit to abolishing the whole of our naval forces while other countries are keeping theirs, he has very much mistaken the temper and feeling of this House and country. I, therefore, hope we shall show our contempt for the arguments he has used, and the attacks he has made upon his own countrymen, by giving a silent vote against this Amendment.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
This Debate gives me the opportunity of raising the general question of disarmament before the Committee and the public opinion of the country. Many of us regard the experiences we went through from 1914 to 1918 as of really decisive importance. I regard that experience as being in a fundamental sense a test, for in a real sense a critical point was reached in the whole development of modern civilisation. If the Committee will bear with me, I should like to put forward three reasons why I think Great Britain should, in this affair, embark upon a policy of disarmament as a pioneer State in the setting of civilisation. The first reason I should like to bring forward in supporting this Amendment for a restriction of the British Navy is that we have not carried out since 1919 the solemn Treaty obligations into which we entered. The Committee will remember that when the Peace Treaty was drawn up, based on the experience of the preceding five years, we entered into a solemn agreement to deal with the whole problem of disarmament. I venture to remind hon. Members of the text of the Covenant. Article VIII reads:The members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement by common action, of international obligations.The Council, taking account of the geographical situation and circumstances of each State, shall formulate plans for such, reduction for the consideration and action of the several Governments.That Covenant was translated into the German Peace Treaty, and applied by the compulsory disarmament of the defeated Powers in the late War. When the Covenant was applied to Germany, it was made perfectly clear that disarmament was a general obligation. The Preamble to Part V (Disarmament Clause) of the Versailles Treaty deals with the appli- 2761 cation of this general question of disarmament. It reads:In order to render possible the initiation of the general limitation of the armaments of all nations, Germany undertakes strictly to observe the military, naval and air Clauses which follow.The first draft Treaty was submitted to a good deal of criticism. Germany, it will be remembered, pointed out with regard to the disarmament clauses of the Treaty that she was prepared to agree to the basic idea of the Army, Navy, and Air Force regulations, provided it was the beginning of a general reduction in armaments. I know that the opinions of Germany on Disarmament, after 1914–19, have never been highly valued in this House. We did respond to the claim however put forward by the German nation at Versailles in 1919. We responded in a definite document on these lines:The Allied and Associated Powers wish to make it clear that their requirements in regard to German armaments were not made solely with the object of rendering it impossible for Germany to resume her policy of military aggression. They are also the first steps toward that general reduction and limitation of armaments which they seek to bring about as one of the most fruitful preventives of war and which it will be one of the first duties of the League of Nations to promote.In the six years which have gone by since Germany and the other defeated Powers were disarmed, we ourselves have taken no serious action to promote even the smallest measure of disarmament at home, to reduce our arms in conformity with the principles we solemnly covenanted in 1919. In view of the enormous importance of that solemn declaration, not merely signed by the responsible statesmen in 1919, but underwritten by the lives of many millions of men, and of the fact that nothing has been done for six years, I put forward as one of the reasons for supporting the reduction in the personnel of the British Navy our omission to carry out the most important obligation underlying the Peace Treaty of Versailles itself.
A second reason for supporting this Amendment is that the conception of security of the modern State is shown by our experience over the last 20 years to be based upon an entirely wrong foundation. In the period before 1914 we supported British arms and promoted a policy of progressive increase in the expenditure on armaments on the 2762 broad ground that we were confronted with an aggressive military nation. From 1906 to 1914 the main argument brought forward to support extensions of British arms was that we had growing up across the North Sea a military nation which was not content with passing an act for universal conscription in order to build up the most powerful army in Europe but had actually challenged the supremacy of the British Navy by developing a definite German naval policy. Year after year Conservative and Liberal Governments here declared that in spite of our professed desire for peace and for keeping down expenditure on armaments, we had no option, in the face of that growing military and naval power across the water, but to undertake a corresponding policy of expansion both on land and sea. That policy resulted in an expenditure by 1914 of something like £79,000,000 a year, and other civilisations broadly speaking, followed in the same direction, so that between 1881 and 1910 we had in the 7 leading industrial civilisations of the world a developing military policy. In those years from 1881 to 1910 the annual expenditure of those seven Powers on armaments went up from £132,000,000 to £350,000,000. I suggest that the idea lying behind this extraordinarily rapid increase in expenditure on armaments was common to them all, that of achieving security against a possible aggressor by the expansion of their fighting Services. I submit that the experience of the last ten years proves that we have destroyed that aggressive civilisation and the military power against which we were building until 1914 and we have not obtained that security which was our chief aim. The late war led to the colossal expenditure of £40,000,000,000, and at the end of it, with 10,000,000 killed, we still have to face the problem of security. We are just as far off a solution as we were in the old days before the German aggression. Even this year we are spending £117,000,000 on armaments and that is nearly as much as the whole of the seven great Powers spent collectively in 1881. Not only that but the whole outlook is one of progressive increase. There is a programme of naval construction which will involve an expenditure of £58,000,000 in the next four years, and we know that we are committed to an expenditure for a naval base at Singapore of £12,000,000. Although there is to be a 2763 slowing down in the Air Service this year, later we are going to have a steady increase in the actual expenditure on the Air Service, so that we are still confronted with the same kind of policy of defending the British nation against hypothetical enemies as in pre-War days. Instead of Germany we have Japan, France, the United States and Italy as potential enemies. Therefore, I submit that the search for security by modern States through progressive armaments does not bring any kind of success, and all through the last 25 years it has been a failure. The fact is during that period we have gone through the greatest war in the history of civilisation using the same kind of motive of seeking security through defence and arming for security. I submit on that second broad issue we have the most grave grounds for being sceptical as to the political value of the method of armaments we have followed during the last 25 or 30 years.
I want to support this amendment in the third place because I believe that the greatest single problem with which we have to deal in the development of modern civilisation is the problem of peace and war. It has become even a commonplace in this House that a war in the future will actually lead to the destruction of civilisation, that is to say, that the use of military force by modern States carries with it the greatest single evil and menace which confronts modern civilisation. I want to put forward the view that the last 125 years have caused such a profound change in the drawing together of civilisation and in the essential interdependence of all parts of civilisation throughout the world, that we cannot pursue the national policy of armaments which may have been a good policy in the Middle Ages and before the Middle Ages.
The essential problem from the point of view of the modern State is that, because the several States of the world are building up a national or Imperial military policy, they are bringing about a profound division in the unity of civilisation, and, unless we can learn to rationalise this power which the State possesses, we are heading for complete disaster in the course of the 20th century. We have in the civilisation of the world plenty of examples in favour of the view 2764 that it is possible to organise the common life of civilisation without this tremendous handicap of competing State organisations which have the exclusive power to use military force to settle their problems. The common people furnish the example, showing how we can deal with those problems internationally without this power. The international co-operative, trade union, Socialist, Church, cultural, or scientific movements and associations all give evidence of the common unity of civilisation and of ability to solve their problems without being driven on to the rocks of militarism.
The biggest problem which the British House of commons has to deal with is how to escape from the essentially evil traditions of the State which have been inherited from a time when there may have been something to be said for the use of force. We are face to face with this use of military power for national and Imperial purposes, and are, in its exercise, breaking up the whole fabric of civilisation. I do not see any way out of the difficulty. The First Lord accused my hon. Friend of attacking British militarism and neglecting the larger militarism which exists throughout the world. We have the obligation, as Members of this House of Commons, not so much of dealing with the policy of other nations. I believe that, just as Britain has been great in promoting forward movements for research and invention which have made for the progressive uplift of civilisation, so it is possible for Britain again to become a leader, a creator and an initiator. We have had far too much talk in this country, during the last 10 years, of the militarism of other people; our real problem is the consequence of our own Imperial Policy. Because I believe that there is in us, as a people, the international capacity to solve these problems, I want to oppose strenuously the continuation of the British Navy in its present size, and to put forward the proposition that it should become our chief interest and concern in this British House of Commons, in our lifetime, to take the view that it is possible for us to convert our huge expenditures upon armaments into peace expenditures, and transform our State from a military State to what it ought to be, and can be if we are only willing and work for it. We may 2765 expend our energy and power, not in extending the British Empire, not in pursuing economic policies which mean the degradation of people in other parts of the world, but in organising in order to make our British Empire, not necessariy large, but something of which we can he proud, because of the spiritual, mental and moral qualities of the men and women in it, and bringing definitely to an end the habitual assumption that we white people have the right to degrade and subordinate yellow people and black people. If we do not alter the essential outlook of our political policy and change it we are tending inevitably to war in the very near future. Just as men have gone' out on crusades to get rid of slavery, just as men have taken up a pioneer position to challenge the essential evils of the wage-earning class under modern capitalism, so we in this House have a duty to try to formulate a new attitude towards the fundamental problem we have to deal with, that of peace and war. It is no use in the 20th century, in the light of the experience of 1914 to 1918, resorting to half measures. The time has come when this nation can take a great naval lead, not waiting till France or China or Russia comes along, but trusting to the higher forces of human nature instead of dissipating our strength in naval and other ways that can only lead to disaster.
§ Sir HENRY SLESSER
This Amendment is in effect one that must have for its purpose the destruction of the British Navy. My hon. Friend, the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) will fully agree that a reduction of 100,000 men in the Navy would bring it to an end.
§ Sir H. SLESSER
I would point out in the first instance, as my hon. Friend has perfectly frankly said, that the Labour party has decided at its annual conference, by a majority of nearly 2,000,000 votes, that the party should not, as a party, vote against the Navy, or Air, or Army Estimates. A reduction of the Vote by 100,000 men, in my opinion, is a vote against the Navy Estimates. Therefore, whether I am right or wrong, no one can say that in opposing this Amendment 2766 as I do, I am doing anything other than the Labour party conference has decided to be the policy of the Labour party, and if there are Members here who take a different view, which they are entitled to do, they cannot say the view I express is contrary to that of the Labour party, as expressed at its annual conference. Another point that moves me to oppose the Amendment is this. I cannot understand how anyone who has been a Member of a Government can consistently vote for the Amendment. My hon. Friend is perfectly within his rights, but those who have been Members of a Government and have taken an oath allegiance to the King must have understood when they entered the Government, that they were making themselves responsible for the defence of the nation. No doubt my hon. Friend would decline to accept office on such terms, but as I happened to be a Member of the Government, I feel it would not be right, taking the view that we were right to form a Government, not to take upon ourselves the ordinary obligations of national defence, one of which is at present the maintenance of the Navy. The speech we have just heard was very relevant to the question of mutual die-armament by all the nations of the world. I voted for the Amendment the Labour party supported a few hours ago in favour of a general reduction of the armaments of the world, but to ask this nation alone to disarm when other countries are fully armed seems to me quixotic, and not a view that can possibly by taken by people who are or may be responsible for Government or for their representatives in this House.
My third and last point is this. I have spoken of the Government and of the Labour party. I now want to speak personally of my constituents. I was not returned in order to abolish the Navy. I never made it a point in my programme that if I were returned I would propose to abolish the Navy. I have no mandate to abolish the Navy or to reduce it by 100,000 men. For these reasons first because my party has, in its Conference, decided against this policy; secondly because my party, by forming a Government, has undertaken the defence of the country; and lastly because my constituents have not given me a mandate to vote for this Amendment, I shall vote against it.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I propose to support the Amendment. Everything that my hon. and learned Friend has said about the position of the Labour party is accurate. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) did not attempt to convey the idea that he was expressing more than the views of a minority of this House. He admits that it is a minority section of the House, but realises that it is a minority which has a perfect right to be heard and to be heard with a little more courtesy than has been shown this evening. My view differs somewhat from that of my hon. Friend. I cannot claim to have any other than the same low ethical standard which obtains generally throughout the House. I do not say that in all oases I would refrain from the use of physical force. In many cases I should be very strongly inclined to use it, and I think it might be used to very useful effect. But I do not believe that the working classes of this country, as this country is at present run and as wealth is distributed, have anything to fight for. Sixty per cent. of the wealth is owned by one per cent. of the people. The other 99 per cent. of us have to scramble for the 40 per cent. of wealth, and a big proportion of the 99 per cent. get a very small amount in the scramble. Very few of the working classes whom I represent own one scrap of land of the British Isles, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have no desire or intention that they shall own any part of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] If they have any such desire I cannot see any evidence of it in the legislation before this House. The big proportion of the people whom I represent have no rights except the rights that they can obtain in relief from the parish councils or boards of guardians in Scotland. Therefore, I hold the view very strongly that the working classes have no primary interest in the maintenance of a Navy to defend the land which they do not possess. I am not going to ask working people who have not money enough to get their breakfast, to indulge in the luxury and expense of a Navy. If this were a country in which the mass of us had something to defend, I would call upon the working people to defend it. The position at the present time is that they have nothing to defend, and if they are not to have something to defend I am 2768 certain that the people they ought to fight are not black men in India or yellow men in China, but the capitalist class in Great Britain. For their own advantage and the ultimate advantage of the nation they ought to destroy the power and privilege of the land-owning class, to knock down the capitalist system, and to get control of the land for themselves. When they have obtained the ownership and control of their own land it will be time for them to consider how they will defend it. I propose to support my hon. Friend in the Lobby.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I have listened this evening with very great interest to speeches which have been more or less of a sentimental character. I am one who has belonged to the Socialist movement ever since I was a boy of 17. I was brought up to believe in my own country—a country in which we are particularly interested. We are Nationalists first and internationalists afterwards. Probably that may not be accepted by some of our friends as being good philosophy; but I find the greatest Nationalists in this House are those who come from particular parts of Great Britain. You must not touch White-chapel with a 40-foot pole, and no man may interfere with Scotland. I am one of those who believe if a country is worth having it is worth fighting for; if it is worth living in it is worth defending. The workers of this country have the power, if they have the will, to make any form of Government they like. There are 20,000,000 electors; 15,000,000 of them are men and women who have to work for their living. A large number of them see more dinner-times than dinners.
As far as we are concerned the Navy, as it has been described this evening, is not merely a force that is going round the world seeking what it may devour. For good or evil under Capitalism; this country has not been able to provide for its own needs in the matter of food and one of the principal functions of the Navy is to keep the waterways of the world open for the supply of our necessities. I have no desire to see Armies, or Navies. I am as pacifist as anybody, except when somebody hits me. I want to realise where we are. I should to-morrow or at any other time vote for any resolution which will mean the dropping of arms and the people of the world 2769 coming together on the basis of brotherhood and fraternity, but I am not going to shake hands with a man who has behind him a dagger. There are some countries who are not quite so advanced in civilisation as my friend below and I am not going to trust the other fellow until I quite understand where my trust is going to lie. To carry this Amendment to-night means the abolition of the British Navy. We cannot make such a move until we get an understanding with other peoples. The world is not made up of sentiment. Facts count for more than theories and if theories do not fit the facts, so much the worse for the theories. The fact is there that we are not living in a world where everybody wears bobbed hair. We have to take the world as it is.
Some of us on these benches have a free hand, and we are willing to hold out the hand of friendship to all countries of the world. We are prepared to carry out an honourable understanding, and to say that the day of the sword has gone and the day of brain has begun to dawn. We are willing to make all the sacrifices necessary, but we are not going to be the first to turn all our weapons down and allow other nations to have the advantage. That is all I can say. I joined the Socialist movement at the age of 17. I am still a Social Democrat. I believe in democratic Socialism and am prepared to fight for it. I am not arguing whether we are right or wrong. In the late War some of us took a certain attitude for which we have been condemned. Our attitude was that this was the best country we knew. It was bad enough, not as good as we should like it to be, but some of my friends on this side would take the first passage across the water if the Germans ever came here. I do not say we are as good as we ought to be, but we are as good as the next, and with what little interest we have we are prepared to co-operate together for a common end. Everyone wants peace; most of my friends opposite want the pieces. So far as I am concerned I object to the abolition of the Navy which is what the Amendment means if carried to its logical conclusion. The British Navy is not a mere predatory force. I am sorry for what has happened in the past, but if the British Navy were scrapped tomorrow some other power would take its place; and would the 2770 world be any better? I suggest we should go on working in the direction of peace by international arrangement. Let us understand where we are. The world cannot afford to spend its money in riotous living. We cannot afford to go on building battleships, developing armies and forces for destroying human life, but as long as other countries are not prepared to meet us, we have to protect ourselves. Therefore I am opposed to a proposition which means the abolition of the British Navy.
§ 12.0 M.
§ Mr. BARR
For some years it has been the habit to submit an Amendment of this kind on the Army, the Air, and the Navy Estimates, in order to afford the anti-militarists an opportunity of putting forward the principles that some of us hold. On former occasions we have been able to use the opportunity to greater advantage than we have this evening We are not opposed to what seems to be the most practical way of reducing armaments; that is, by general consent, but we wish to take this opportunity of voicing our opinions on this general subject. No doubt the Amendment in itself can be held to be crude and absurd and impossible, but proposals just as crude and absurd have been the precursors of the great things in the history of the world. We hold that it is for our country not only to speak of peace, but in a very real way to "allure to brighter worlds and lead the way." It has been stated from the opposite side that some of the things said in support of the Amendment have wounded those who had suffered, or whose friends had suffered, in the War. I think we share common sorrows in this House. We who are seeking to lead the forward movement towards international peace at least are seeking to fulfil the high ideals of those who were so dear to us, who laid down their lives that war might be no more; that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, we should be "here dedicated to the great task remaining for us; that we should here take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion."
The noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) referred to the class war. I wish to say what has been said before in this House, that the upholders of class interest are the real fomentors of class war. Hume Brown in 2771 his "History of Scotland" said there never was any class war in Scotland but there never was anything else. It is the provoking of class distinction that makes the real class war. We cannot get away from it. The noble Lady does not understand the fundamental position of the Labour party if she does not know that we stand for the achievement of our ends of equality and brotherhood by pacific means and by no other.
§ Mr. BARR
Certainly. But I will speak for myself, though I can also speak for the great body of those who form the Labour party. Anyone who knows the Labour party knows that it seeks to achieve its ends, not by violence, but by constitutional means. As to what was said about nationalism, I claim to have as keen an interest in that, as keen a love of my country as any one. He is "the true-cosmopolite who loves his native country best." But we wish to assert that you can never put away war by preparing for it. You cannot extinguish a fire by laying in paraffin oil, and pouring it upon the conflagration. The more you pile up armaments, the greater is the unrest created. Cavour said that you could do everything with bayonets except sit on them. The hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) spoke about the defence of the nation. It is difficult for many to realise that we hold that a nation which will go forward in the path of peace as a pioneer will have the greatest possible security; and that a country confident in its justice and righteousness and love of peace, has the surest defence—a defence which armaments can never provide. I take, as an illustration, the fact that when duelling was common in this country, it was held that the only safe man was the man who carried arms; that human nature being what it was, men must carry arms, and that duelling was inevitable. Now the position is quite the reverse. The man who carries arms gives and gets challenges; the man who does not carry arms walks in safety. [An HON. MEMBER: "With the force of the law behind him"] Exactly—he walks in safety because the law courts have come in—and we are in favour of international law courts. When international law courts have been established navies and armies will be as 2772 obsolete for the nation as the blunderbuss and the pistol are for the individual to-day. When I was in the United States, near Niagara Falls, I saw a great monument to Sir Isaac Brock who fell in the war between Canada and the United States in 1812, but now for 100 years there has been no war between the United States and Canada, and there is not a single fort along 3,000 miles of boundary. The security lies in the fact that there are no forts. In disarmament they find security.
It may be there are risks to be taken. Somebody has said it would be a fearful risk if we were to act in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount. Many of us hold there are greater risks in defying it and neglecting it than in following it. Reference has been made to the backward races of the world and the need of defending them. We have an ideal of service in relation to the backward races, the ideal which William Penn had when he went among those races saying that it was not his custom to carry arms. What was the result in his case? Did the savages fall upon him? No, on the contrary, their chief immediately called upon his warriors to lay down their arms, and for 70 years there was unarmed security in Pennsylvania. Our missionaries go unarmed; some of them have fallen, but far more would have fallen had they gone forth armed. We want to set before these backward races the ideal of a nation seeking to fulfil the highest Christian principles. During the American War of Independence the Bishop of Peterborough made a remarkable declaration in another place. On 7th December, 1778, speaking of the barbarities of war and the excesses of our armies in North America, he said:If such is the Christianity we are henceforth to propagate among the Indians, it is better for their teachers, better for themselves, that they should live and die in ignorance. If they are to be involved in OUT guilt, take not from them their plea of mercy. But let them have it still to urge at the Throne of Grace, that they have never heard of the name of Christ.It is because we desire to advance in the path of a real Christian Commonwealth that we are prepared to cast our vote with the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley. We are not the first in this House to advocate such principles. As you go near the Central Lobby you come to the statue of John Bright, and I never 2773 take visitors round the House without repeating to them the words John Bright used on the outbreak of the Crimean War, and with those words of his I will close, because they express at least the spirit that lies behind us in our Amendment this evening. He said, that but for the wars of the previous "seventy years:This country might have been a garden, every dwelling might have been of marble, and every person who treads its soil might have been sufficiently educated. We should indeed, have had less of military glory. We might have had neither Trafalgar nor Waterloo. But we should have set the high
§ example of a Christian nation, free in its institutions, courteous and just in its conduct towards all foreign States, and resting its policy on the unchangeable foundation of Christian morality.
§ That, after all, is the only lasting security for any Nation.
§ Question put,
§ "That 2,675 officers, seamen, boys, and Royal Marines, together with 460 for the Royal Marine Police, be employed for the said service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 19; Noes, 186.2775
|Division No. 88.]||AYES||[12.12 a.m.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Potts, John S.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Barr, J.||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfeil, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Scrymgeour, E.||Windsor, Walter|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scurr, John|
|Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Lansbury and Mr. J. Hudson.|
|Maxton, James||Stephen, Campbell|
|Paling, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Duncan, C.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Albery, Irving James||Eden, Captain Anthony||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Elveden, Viscount||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||England, Colonel A.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Everard, W. Lindsay||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Catheart)|
|Atkinson, C.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Macintyre, I.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Balniel, Lord||Fielden, E. B.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Finburgh, S.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W.||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Forrest, W.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Merrilman, F. B.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Ganzoni, Sir John||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Gates, Percy||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gee, Captain R.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abrahan||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Gilmour. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Buchanan, G.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Oliver, George Harold|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Gretton, Colonel John||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pilcher, G.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Harland, A.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'tt'y)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hartington, Marquess of||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hawke, John Anthony||Rose, Frank H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hayday, Arthur||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillip||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Samuel, A M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cope, Major William||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Couper, J. B.||Hills, Major John Waller||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A.D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hurd, Percy A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Crookshank, Col. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon F. S.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Jacob, A. E.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Jephcott, A. R.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Stanley, Lord (Fyide)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Storry-Deans, R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Strickland, Sir Gerald||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wood, E.(Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyene)|
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Watts, Dr. T.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Watts Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Templeton, W. P.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Harry Barnston and Captain Viscount Curzon.|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
Question put, and agreed to.