§ 5."That a sum, not exceeding £97,549 12s. 3d., be granted to His Majesty; to make good Excesses on certain Grants for Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ended 31st day of March, 1926:
in order to formulate our programme upon this subject, we put a Motion on the Order Paper which represents the opinions of the Labour party, and I will begin by reading its terms.
That this House, whilst welcoming the proposals of the Government of the United States of America for a further limitation of Naval Armaments and the declaration of His Majesty's Government in relation thereto, is of opinion that National Security, and therefore international peace, can only be assured by international agreement for a substantial all-round reduction in Naval Armaments, including the abolition of capital ships and submarines and the reduction of the maximum tonnage of cruisers to that necessary for police purposes, and accordingly urges His Majesty's Government to initiate without delay proposals to this end.
One part of our policy coincides with the policy the Admiralty has already
adopted. The Admiralty has already, at the Washington Conference, put forward bold and fundamental suggestions for the abolition of the submarine, but what is the use of this country putting forward proposals of that kind by themselves? Proposals for the abolition of the submarine put forward in isolation merely mean that the strength of our Navy is to be increased as against the strength of all the other important navies in the world. The submarine happens to be a type of vessel on which we do not concentrate. The United States has double the number of submarines that we have, Japan has more, France has more and Italy has about the same number. What does our proposal then mean? Of course we wish to see the abolition of the submarine, but if the Government propose nothing else at the same time, we are not surprised that their proposals are received with complete cynicism in other countries, which realise that they merely mean that every other navy is to be weakened in comparison with our own. So other proposals ought to be made at the same time, and of these in our opinion the first should be the final abolition of the battleship.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ At the present moment this country and the United States are allowed an agreed ratio of battleship tonnage of 525,000 each. But the battleship has only one purpose, that is to fight other battleships, and our equality with the United States would be equally well maintained if the battleships of both Powers were to disappear simultaneously from the seas. In the last Debate it was suggested that, even though this were carried out, there would be no great or immediate reduction in our expenditure, because we are not building any new battleships in the forthcoming year; but there would be an immediate reduction, because you would reduce the number of destroyers, and cruisers, and bases which exist for the battleship and without which the battleship would die. The first step in this direction, and the most natural step would be the expansion of the present naval holiday. That holiday is now drawing to an end, and, if no fresh proposals are made, it means that in 1932 we shall lay down the keels of two new battleships. The very idea that we are soon to contemplate the building of two more of these mammoths costing 62 £7,000,000 each is unthinkable. If this holiday has lasted 10 years, it can last for 20 years, and, if can last for 20 years, it can last for all time. We wish the First Lord of the Admiralty to take the initiative in making this suggestion. Why should it always be left to the United States to take the lead in the world on these questions? We want the First Lord of the Admiralty to get in first this time and make a speech which will stagger humanity and send him down to history as one of the greatest naval revolutionists of the world. As a matter of fact, that would be very wise policy. Anyone who has followed the attitude of the United States on this subject will recognise that such a proposal would have a terrific reception by public opinion in the United States and would create the favourable and friendly atmosphere which we shall need when we come to discuss the special position with regard to cruisers which the Government maintain.
§ The competition in cruisers is undoubtedly now the crucial difficulty in all these negotiations, and it is also the greatest menace that confronts the future peace of the world. Just what the competition in Dreadnoughts used to be before the War, the competition in cruisers is becoming to-day. Look at the programme this year. We are laying down three new cruisers. Last year we laid down three; the year before, four; the year before that, five. Next year we are to lay down three and the year afterwards three, until finally, including the two Australian cruisers, we are to have a Fleet of 73, all of which but nine or ten will have been laid down since the outbreak of the War, and which, the Admiralty tell us, will give us the margin of security at which they are aiming. These 73 cruisers will not give us security. There is no finality in this process, because this very increase in the strength of our fleet is bound, in its turn, at an early date to bring a corresponding increase in the strength of the fleets against whom our increase is being calculated. That is shown in the Fleet Return. Look at what is happening in the United States. The figures published in the Fleet Return of last year show that in the United States, in addition to their existing fleet, they had eight cruisers building and projected. The return published about a week ago shows that this year the United States cruisers 63 building and projected have increased from eight to 18, an increase of 10 directly put before Congress, as the Debate showed, as an answer to the expansion programme which the right hon. Gentleman put before the House last year.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Bridgeman)
It was not my expansion programme; it was the programme put down by the Labour party.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
This is an interruption which is made by the right hon. Gentleman on an average once in every speech delivered from these benches.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
There is a distinction. The programme put down by the Labour party was one of five cruisers for one year—
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
—bringing us up to something like an equality and ending there. The programme of the right hon. Gentleman is a programme, not for the year only, but for next year, the year after, and right on into the future, and it was in reply to this programme that the United States have now laid down this programme for 10 cruisers. There is all the difference in the world between the Labour party's programme and this programme of the right hon. Gentleman looking years ahead. What does it lead to, apart from the past? Where are we getting? The United States have now introduced a Bill for 10 new cruisers. When that Bill is implemented, then the First Lord, in his turn, will come down to this House, as he is bound to do, and ask for another expansion programme in reply to the United States. Our 73 will become 83, and the whole process will begin again. I think all Members will agree that the Washington Conference is really defeating itself. It has prevented the competition in battleships, but it has simply shifted the competition on to the next largest type. The result is that the right hon. Gentleman in his last speech referred to the similarity of his Estimates to-day and the Estimates of 1908. There is an exact similarity between his speeches and the speeches of the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1908. There is the same concentration on one type of 64 ship, on Dreadnoughts then and on cruisers to-day, costing about the same as Dreadnoughts used to do in those days. There is the same competitive rivalry, against Germany then and against our Allies to-day. There is the same argument, that everyone is building for defence. No one is building for war. But it is leading gradually and inevitably to the same result. We therefore wish the Government to put forward definite proposals with regard to cruisers, and first of all proposals with regard to their size or tonnage. Before the War, when one spoke of cruisers, one always meant a vessel of from 4,000 to 5,000 tons. That was the normal cruiser, and during the War the vessels that were built for commerce protection were of from 4,000 to 5,000 tons. That is in the Fleet Return. The majority of vessels built during the War for commerce protection were less than 5,000 tons.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
I am talking of the majority, whether for the North Sea or anywhere else. The majority of the vessels were less than 5,000 tons, and for commerce protection we relied on those vessels and on destroyers of less than 1,500 tons. But these great vessels, including stores and fuel, are 12,000 tons, or 10,000 tons without stores and fuel, and they are not required for commerce protection; they are due to the Washington Conference. What has happened has been that the Washington Conference, by laying down a maximum of 10,000 tons, has practically compelled the Great Powers in Competition with each other to make 10,000 tons the normal size for their future construction. Therefore, at the forthcoming Conference, the Government should suggest that the maximum tonnage of cruisers in future should be 5,000. That is quite large enough for any commerce protection.
Vice-Admiral Sir REGINALD HALL
When the hon. Gentleman says 5,000 tons, what does he include? Does he mean total displacement, including munitions, fuel, and everything?
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
I mean 5,000 tons using tonnage in the sense in which it was used at the Washington Conference.
Sir R. HALL
The hon. Gentleman has already drawn a distinction, in the present cruiser, between 10,000 and 12,000 tons. Does he mean the same to apply to the future cruisers?
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
I mean the Washington Conference definition, which excludes fuel and stores, so that it would be 5,000 tons in accordance with the definition used for the Fleet Return, but it would in fact be 6,000 tons, including these other displacements to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in discussing this subject, has never, I think, dealt with the actual tonnage of cruisers, but has always confined his observations to the number of cruisers and the proportion this country would have as against the United States. We recognise that that is the central difficulty in these negotiations, but the proposal to reduce their tonnage would greatly ease and simplify the whole question of an agreement on their comparative proportions. If all cruisers were reduced to, say, 5,000 tons, they would become a comparatively minor type and the discussion of ratio on all these minor types could be taken together. If you took them altogether, cruisers, destroyers and submarines and discussed them together the fact that the United States has twice as many submarines as we have and twice as many destroyers as we have would make a claim for the special position in regard to cruisers which the right hon. Gentleman has stated, and which appears to me to be the only serious difficulty in the way of all these negotiations. If these proposals were adopted, the 5,000-ton cruiser would be the largest fighting vessel left upon the seas. If that could be secured, the last vestige of the reason would have disappeared for any further continuance of the work at Singapore. The dock was laid down for capital ships. I have heard it also defended in this House as being necessary for the 10,000-ton cruisers, but if both those types become obsolete that dock would then be superfluous and the work could be brought to an end.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I understand the hon. Member's proposal on behalf of the Labour party is, that we 66 should scrap all ships over 5,000 tons; that they should all be sunk. Is that so?
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
My proposal on behalf of the Labour party is that the Government should lay down a programme which would mean the disappearance in a reasonable space of time of all ships over 5,000 tons; that you should follow out the Washington Convention principle. It does not necessarily mean that you would sink them all to-morrow. It would mean giving a certain period for the navies of the world to adjust themselves to the new conditions, but it would mean that the time would eventually arrive when we could calculate as a certainty that the 5,000-ton cruiser would be the largest fighting vessel upon the seas, and that the dock at Singapore could be closed.
There would be another result of this programme. If, say, in the case of Japan, the most powerful vessel which she possessed was a 5,000 ton cruiser, then any menace or threat to Australia would be correspondingly diminished and the whole of the political situation in Australian waters would be transformed. For that reason, again, the adventure at Singapore could be brought to an end. These are our proposals. Every one of them is practicable. Taken together, these proposals would constitute the largest programme of naval disarmament ever yet presented to the world. They involve, perhaps, certain risks, but risks not half as great as the continuance of all this naval rivalry will eventually bring upon us. They are small risks for the sake of incalculable gain. I say in all sincerity that I deeply envy the First Lord of the Admiralty or any man who in the name of this country has the opportunity now, if he grasps his hour, to put forward proposals which would open a new chapter in the history of mankind.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
I beg to second the Amendment.
I can understand the First Lord of the Admiralty adopting the attitude of mind of a man who is responsible for big business and feeling regret every time he sees a little bit of the business cut down; but, on the other hand, in view of the fact that this is the year 1927 and in view also of the very radical disarmament which was carried through in 1919 as a 67 prelude to general disarmament, I should have thought it was only reasonable that in the present year he should have been proud as the responsible leader of the Admiralty in being able to announce reductions in the direction indicated by my hon. Friend, and that he should rejoice every time he can announce very considerable reductions. My hon. Friend, in suggesting what the Labour party would do if they had the opportunity this year, sought to emphasise the fact that these proposals are definitely intended to be a part of the scheme for a general disarmament, to be worked out at the Disarmament Conference of the League of Nations. It was one of the most helpful sides of President Coolidge's proposals that, while he did venture to make certain criticisms in regard to the slowness of procedure at Geneva he has shown unusual willingness, sympathy and friendliness towards the work at Geneva, and he has very definitely underlined the fact that whatever may be done in regard to what is known as the Coolidge proposals at Geneva should be done as part of the work of general disarmament with which the League of Nations has been so much occupied in the last three or four years.
When the First Lord of the Admiralty compares the standard of the British Navy to-day with that of 1914, as he did in his speech last week, and emphasises the amount of relative disarmament that has taken place since 1914, he is not very happy in his choice of standard. He knows better than most men in this House that the 1914 standard was a very inflated standard. It was a standard that had been achieved as the result of 10, 15 and 20 years definite competitive building. Everyone in Great Britain acknowledged that it was an outrageously high standard and we were very unwilling to sustain it, but the existence of the German Navy made that standard inevitable. If the right hon. Gentleman had wanted to get a sound view in regard to the present situation, he would have gone back another 10, 15 or 20 years to make an adequate comparison. Would it not have been better to have taken the year 1895, when the German Navy was in its infancy and when we had no really serious naval competitors and were, therefore, in the position, substantially, in which we are to-day. I think I am right in saying 68 that the naval bill for 20 years ago was about £15,000,000. That was about the time when German competition was beginning to make itself felt.
If the First Lord would take the 1895 standard for his comparisons and set it up as the ideal of a small British Navy we could appreciate his Estimates this year much more scientifically than we can hope to do so long as he is continually reminding us of where we were in 1914. Not a small part of the reductions for which he claims credit have developed directly out of the only voluntary agreement for mutual reduction which has taken place since 1911. Those reductions have arisen directly out of the Washington Naval Conference of 1922-23. I gather from the figures which I have been able to work out, based on the reply which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton) last year, I think in October, that we have saved somewhere between £60,000,000 and £90,000,000 as a result of that Agreement reached at Washington. I find it extremely difficult to say what the exact figures are. It is almost impossible for a layman to work out on he basis of naval estimates anything like accurate figures. Let us take the lowest figure and say that we have saved £60,000,000. I think the proposition which has been put forward by my hon. Friend this afternoon would result, over a space of five years, in a far greater saving than that which has originated from the conference at Washington.
I should like to stress further aspects of the Labour programme which has been put forward in relation to naval disarmament. I find it very difficult to understand exactly what is the present day standard of measurement adopted by the First Lord of the Admiralty. I gather that according to the Imperial Conference of last year it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to have a Navy as large as any other navy in the world or, in other words, to have a greater Navy than any other navy in the world except one, and to have always a Navy at least as great as that of the United States. I do not know how he measures that. The United States is appreciably greater than we are in one or two categories and we are much greater than the United States in other categories. I do not know whether the First Lord would say what 69 the 50–50 standard really does mean. It seems to me of some importance in any serious discussion of the possibilities of mutual reduction that we should know that.
I find that the 50–50 standard is very loosely held by the experts and advisers of His Majesty's Government at Geneva. I remember two or three months ago, when the naval experts were discussing before Sub-Commission "A" what could be done by Great Britain in regard to naval matters, they put forward the argument that the present British Navy and the naval policy of the present British Government was very little bound up with the naval policy of any other Government in the world, and that the present British Navy was little more than a police force for the requirements of the British Empire. They put forward the suggestion somewhat on the lines of that which was put forward by an hon. Member opposite last week when we were discussing the Army. He said that the British Army was down to the minimum to-day and that, whatever other countries might do in regard to their armies, we could not hope to reduce the British Army in the future, because it was at bedrock. Even the representative of the League of Nations Union on the other side put forward that argument last week. Very much the same kind of argument has been put forward at Geneva by the Naval advisers of His Majesty's Government. I hope that, when the First Lord comes to reply, he will deprecate breaking away from any kind of a clearly defined standard, giving the impression that in respect of the issue of general disarmament this country has got the smallest Navy it can possibly manage with from the point of view of doing the police work of the Empire. It would be deplorable if that attitude of mind should be emphasised, and the world get the impression that we really cannot see our way, whatever other States may do, to reduce the size of the British Navy. In respect to these two standards, which are both vague, I should like to ask, in relation to the discussions on general disarmament as they affect the Navy, what effect the 1919 standard is going to have on the discussions of this year?
§ Mr. R. SMITH
I mean the standard that was applied in the case of Germany and subsequently to Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria in respect of the three fighting services. I have always understood that that standard carried with it certain defined obligations to the rest of the member States of the League of Nations, and I want to put forward the consideration that it is very necessary, both in regard to proposals for Naval reductions as well as those bearing on the Army and Air Services; that there should be one standard. I do not see how we can have two standards for disarmament. I have argued that it is indispensable for the future work of the League of Nations, as well as for consistency in these matters, that we should aim at one standard of definition which will apply to all the States likely to be involved in the scheme of disarmament, and this is an argument especially important in regard to naval disarmament. The First Lord knows that Germany was disarmed in respect of her navy in 1919. The actual number of battleships was fixed at six, and the tonnage of a battleship was to be 10,000 tons. The number of light cruisers was reduced to six, with a maximum tonnage of 6,000 tons each. The maximum number of destroyers was fixed at 12, with a maximum tonnage of 800 tons each. The maximum number of torpedo boats was fixed at 12, and the maximum tonnage at 200 tons each. It is quite clear that the British naval experts, who are concerned with the problem of the relative disarmament of Germany in respect of the navy as a first stage towards general disarmament and in order to make general disarmament possible, took the view that submarines were not necessary, and they emphasised the point that there should be a reduction of submarines; a total abolition of the submarine.
I want to ask the First Lord if he has worked out what relation these proposals bear to the 1919 standard. It is important, because bodies like the League of Nations Union and other bodies are emphasising the point that there must be one common standard, and Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria are watching other members of the League of Nations this year from that point of view. I do not want to see the First Lord or his successors embarrassed in 71 future years with the re-arming and re-equiping of the German Navy. I do not want Germany to have the right to build submarines again. I do not want Germany to have the unrestricted right to build battleships and cruisers, torpedo boats and destroyers, but I confess that I do not see anything to prevent that result either in law, or in the normal working of the League of Nations, unless the remaining members of the League of Nations are prepared to work out one common standard of disarmament. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman point blank if he is prepared to admit in principle the right of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria to claim some new and undefined standard, or can he conceive the continuance of the League with four States on the 1919 standard and the rest of the States on a different standard; whether he can contemplate the continuance of a dual standard of that kind? I press upon him the broad, commonsense point of view, and as one who does not want to see Germany depart from the 1919 standard, as one who wants it to be enforced, as one who wants to see Germany kept where she is, I want to ask him what relation his proposals bear to the 1919 standard?
In the proposals which we put forward as a party we are departing from the 1919 standard as applied to Germany. We are suggesting the total abolition of the battleship as well as the submarine. That does involve a considerable departure from the 1919 standard. I am perfectly convinced that, if the United States, and Great Britain and Japan, not to mention Italy and France, should agree in principle that, on the basis of mutual agreement, it is possible to do away with the first-class battleship, there will be no difficulty in securing an adjustment in the same direction through the 1919 standard as it applies to Germany. I think in the year 1927 we should have some clear definition from His Majesty's Government as to the standard they are aiming at, whether they are prepared to make their standard general to all the member States of the League, and such other States as may be willing to co-operate, or whether the Government contemplate after this year perpetuating some kind of a dual standard within the organisation of the 72 League of Nations itself. The First Lord of the Admiralty has a far better chance than the Secretary of State for Air or the Secretary of State for War in this matter, because the other two Services present far more technical difficulties than the question of reductions in the Navy. No nation can conceal its power with regard to naval matters. If you do away with a battleship you cannot conceal it, you cannot describe them by another name, and if you decide to do away with submarines or destroyers, you cannot conceal them. Although there has been no system of inspection since 1925. I think the agreement at Washington has been very loyally carried out, and this is one of the advantages which the First Lord has in this matter; there is a sense of confidence, arising out of the technical conditions, on any agreement that can be reached.
Much as I rejoice that it has fallen to the lot of the President of the United States again to take the initiative in this matter, I deplore and regret that Great Britain, which has the oldest Navy and has set the standards now for 200 years, which has taken so large a part in carrying out stage one of general disarmament in 1919, should not have shown greater zeal and earnestness to carry out stage two of that proposition. I ask the Government to tell us what it is that they propose to do with His Majesty's Navy. We are asking for a programme from the Government— which they will be prepared to carry out if other naval Powers will accept the same terms and conditions. I hope the First Lord will pay particular regard to the fact that there is in existence the 1919 standard for naval disarmament, that it is part of the machinery of the League of Nations, and that general disarmament is a contingency of the 1919 standard. He may be perfectly sure that if he can make a clear statement in detailed terms on the lines of the proposal put forward by my hon. Friend he will not only meet with a large response from the people and Government of the United States, and from Japan, but he will make the success of the General Disarmament Conference absolutely certain and guarantee the British offer as laying the foundations, firm and reliable, for general dis- 73 armament whereby we can secure not only naval disarmamnt but general disarmament as well.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Nobody can cavil at the speeches which have just been delivered on account of their tone or temper, whether one agrees with them or not. The hon. Members base their proposals on two grounds, one moral and the other economic. I do not think there is a single Member of this House who would not agree with them on both grounds. Every party, so far as I know, agrees with and supports the general principle of disarmament upon moral grounds, and it gives one furiously to think that the cost of one battleship is equivalent to the cost of one hundred 8,000-ton cargo ships. In the present state of the finances of this country I feel sure that, however belligerent one might be in spirit, we should willingly support any proposal for disarmament, and for economy in that direction if these proposals were at all possible in the present state of the world. As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman who moved the reduction made the contention of the Labour party to be as follows: That no larger ship should be afloat than one of 5,000 tons. We all know, particularly the landsmen, how difficult and complicated it is to deal with tonnage as far as ships are concerned. I will leave that particular part of the subject to naval Members of the House, who know more about it than I do. But the hon. Member made one observation in connection with it, with which I as a landsman disagree. It was one of his main arguments that if we could only get the 5,000-ton cruiser or ship, as the case may be, the last vestige of support for Singapore would have gone. I should have thought that the lower your tonnage the more numerous should your coaling stations be. I am speaking as an ordinary landsman. If the hon. Member is going to make that his principal argument, I am afraid that he must find another before the House will agree to the proposal.
Everyone welcomes the proposal for a Conference made by President Coolidge. Speaking for my colleagues on the Liberal benches, and I feel sure that I am voicing the sentiments of every Member of the House, we wish that Conference at Geneva every possible success. But this 74 country has to be very careful in any step that it takes in connection with the Navy. We are in a position in the world quite unlike the position of any other nation, and I am strongly of the opinion that if disarmament is to come about it must be simultaneous and comparative and it cannot be uni-lateral; that is to say, if disarmament is to take place we feel sure that Great Britain would welcome it, provided that other nations disarmed in the same proportion, without any danger to the safety of our Great Empire. I am certain that the hon. Gentleman who moved the reduction does not contemplate the idea of our supporting in this House uni-lateral disarmament. Does he realise that France and Italy have so far refused to enter into the Conference? Does he realise what that means? We may go on discussing disarmament at conference after conference, but unless we have an agreement among the armed Powers of the world to come in and accept common ground and discuss disarmament from a world point of view, it would be a great mistake on our part to formulate any proposal.
If France and Italy refused to disarm, what would happen? The Mediterranean will become a mare clausum. What that means to the Empire I leave the House to consider. The Mediterranean is the main artery of our great Empire. I take the view very strongly that we ought to be very careful in the discussion of any proposals which are not discussed unanimously by all the armed Powers of the world. I would ask the hon. Gentleman who moved the reduction what he is going to do if France and Italy do not enter into this Conference. He may say that he is going to do nothing. But it was made clear when the Labour party had the responsibility of office that that was not the view of the party, for they fulfilled their programme, a programme which for its intensity was criticised in many quarters of the House. They know as well as anyone else that no conference proposals can be acceptable in this House or the Empire unless and until all the armed Powers are assembled at that conference, pledged to comparative and simultaneous disarmament.
I yield to no one, nor does my party yield to any, in the desire to have disarmament. My own view is that moral disarmament should come first of all. I believe that there is a growing feeling 75 throughout the world for that moral disarmament, but until all the nations of the world are anxious for that moral disarmament it would be a very dangerous thing for the British Empire to forsake its safety in any unpremeditated way. I do not know what is the attitude of the Government. I hope it is that they will welcome at all times any proposals for disarmament, and that they will go to this conference at Geneva anxious and eager to help on disarmament in every possible way, but I need hardly warn any Government that has the safety of the Empire at heart to remember that it is the Government's duty, so long as conditions are as they are in the world, to maintain the safety of the Empire, to remember that it is far-flung, that it has many possessions all over the world, and that in the last resort our Navy, which has never been flamboyant and never been dangerous to the interests of peace, is necessary for the safety of that Empire.
§ Sir HARRY FOSTER
The House must have listened with pleasure to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and who has brought us back to those opinions of responsible leaders which we have had the pleasure of listening to when this Vote was last before us. For my own part, I was completely satisfied, as I suppose most reasonable people were, with the remarks of the First Lord on the subject of the conference which has been so much discussed this afternoon. The First Lord said:We welcome it, provided that we go into that Conference asking other nations to consider our special difficulties in the same way that we shall undoubtedly respect and consider theirs. There are special circumstances with regard to our Navy which are totally different from those of any other country. Our obligation is to maintain a Fleet equal in naval strength to that of any other Power, and provide reasonable security for safeguarding trade and communications.My right hon. Friend replied to tine appeal of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, in these words:That is the sacred duty, as I regard it, placed upon the Fleet, and one which we at the Admiralty are proud to endeavour to carry out. I think that any defection from that very moderate policy would never 76 be tolerated by the present House of Commons, and that obligation we shall continue to carry out.And then my right hon. Friend added, very significantly:Even if this House of Commons were to say that we no longer need be guided by such a formula, I for one should not be able to take the responsibility of occupying the post that I do."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1927; col. 1683, Vol. 203.]This assurance, moderate, specific, and at the same time full of the conviction of the first duty of our Navy, was enough to satisfy me, and I think it will be enough to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. It completely meets the appeal that has been made, and recognises the special difficulties in which this country and the Empire are placed compared with any other nation in the world. We have heard a lot this afternoon of what, without disrespect, I venture to call platitudes on the question of disarmament. of course, if all the nations interested in navies met, and if a common standard— to use the expression which the Seconder of the Amendment repeated many times— could be agreed upon, and if all the nations would agree to take that common standard, it would be a great blessing and a great saving to every nation, and of course we would do our part. That is but a platitude. As to the general expression of opinions by responsible leaders in this House, the First Lord was followed in our last Debate by the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) who had occupied a responsible position in the Labour Government. What did the hon. Gentleman say?I join with the right hon. Gentleman in his statement that under present circumstances it is necessary that our lines of communication, our trade routes and all other things which are necessary should be preserved and maintained."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1927; col. 1686; Vol. 203.]Then a little later the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) made a most important and comprehensive and valuable comment of his own:I am always apprehensive of any reduction of British naval strength which is not accompanied by an equivalent reduction in the navies of other Powers, and for that reason I think one is bound, if one has any sympathy at all with the sea spirit and any knowledge of the liabilities under which the Empire labours, to be driven to the conclusion that the only possible hope of a 77 reduction in naval expenditure must come by international agreement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1927: col. 1705, Vol. 203.]
§ Sir H. FOSTER
I am reminding the House of the views expressed by responsible leaders of the parties in this House, to show that we have ample guidance and ample agreement amongst them. That is much more important to me than my own views, and I suggest humbly should be more important to the House than any personal views of my own. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised the point which has just been made, that the ultimate decision of France and Italy must be a vital one for us, and that, whatever may be done at Geneva, unless we have the assent of France and Italy and know what they are to do, our first duty is that which is indicated in the old Book which will be for a long time our guide:The strong man armed keepeth his palace.5.0 p.m.
We cannot, without common consent and common disarming action by other Powers, disarm ourselves. I have said so much with regard to the subject which has mainly occupied us to-day. I want to say a few words on other subjects. The Singapore Base has again been referred to to-day, and I want to repeat what was said previously in this House. that the Imperial Conference strongly reaffirmed the value, in their opinion, of proceeding with the Singapore base, and to express the hope that, as the Malay State has made a most generous contribution and also Hong Kong, that other parts of the Empire may see the right and the necessity and the justice of doing something to relieve the mother country under this head. I thank the First Lord of the Admiralty for one announcement which he made which affects my own constituency, the City of Portsmouth. Its creation as a City since our consideration of Navy Estimates last year is a just meed to the historical position of Portsmouth and the great services it has rendered to the country. I want to thank the First Lord also for the improvement which has been made in the submarine base, but I join with others in expressing regret that he has found it necessary to reduce the number of men in the dock- 78 yard. I recognise that, if you diminish your shipbuilding and repairs, it must involve a reduction in the number of men employed, but I think the remark made by the hon. Member for North Camber-well (Mr. Ammon) was somewhat cynical under that head. He said, and said quite truly with regard to the dismissal of these men, that it would meansimply a transfer of expenditure from one side of the national account to the other, and, perhaps, will give us a very much worse return in unemployment and all those things which follow."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1927; col. 1685, Vol. 203.]I would commend that comment to those in office at the Admiralty. It is a fact that, if you dismiss a number of your hands, men who have been trained for special work, living in a place which is almost entirely occupied in connection with the dockyard industry, the inevitable effect will be to transfer them from the Government Vote to the dole which means unproductive expenditure and the deterioration and demoralisation of the men. That is one of the problems in connection with the reduction of armaments which hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am glad to see, are realising. I hope that, as far as possible, the wind will be tempered to the shorn lamb, and that other work may be provided for those men when they are no longer required in the dockyards. I will not enter into the vexed question of the duty of the Admiralty not to send work to the private dockyards so long as they have men and space available in the Royal dockyards; I know what there is to be said on both sides of that question, but I do commend to the House, as perhaps carrying more weight than the words of a dockyard Member, some words spoken on this question by the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. W. M. Watson). I think he made an extraordinarily good and able reference to the condition of these dockyard men. He said:These dockyard towns have been built up exclusively for Admiralty purposes. Apart from naval activities, there is nothing in these areas. The whole community is dependent upon the work in the dockyards, and I rather sympathise with their representatives in asking that the men should be given as full employment as can possibly be given them. There is no justification for handing out Admiralty work to private yards while the Government has in their own hands the means whereby they 79 can meet their own requirements. In the Royal dockyards a great deal more work could be done than has been done up to now. There is no justification for the plea put forward …. that more Admiralty work should be given to private dockyards. So long as the Royal Dockyards are there and capable of doing Admiralty work, the first claim on that work should be for Admiralty workers in the Royal Dockyards."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1927; cols. 1760–61, Vol. 203.]That statement comes with more force from the fact that anything which we, as dockyard Members, may say is largely discounted, and that the hon. Member for Dunfermline is not a dockyard Member.
§ Sir H. FOSTER
But Rosyth is no longer a dockyard, and the hon. Gentleman is not in the position of being a dockyard Member. I would like now to refer to the large reduction which has been made in the Navy Estimates in comparison with the year 1914. I do not think the House and the country realise that the amount asked for to-day, as com-pared with 1914, is something like one-third less than the total votes of 1914. If you test it in the only fair way, namely, by comparing the value of the sovereign to-day with what it was in 1914, and if you take the amount that is now being asked for the Navy at £58,000,000, you will find that it is only £34,000,000 when judged by the standard of 1914, while the amount of the Vote in 1914 was £51,000,000. I think that is cutting the meat right down to the bone. Whatever happens in the way of air developments, the Air Force can only be, for many a long year to come, supplementary to the needs of His Majesty's Navy and will not supplant them. At the best, they will but supplement the Navy. They are all in the nature of the experiment, a necessary new arm, but in no way displacing the Navy, upon which we depend for the maintenance of our sea routes and for our supplies of food and raw material. I am comforted by the knowledge that the present Board of Admiralty will not, on any plea, whether of economy or any other, consent to any further reduction which, in their view, would in the slightest degree endanger the safety of our trade loutes.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I confess I do not share the equanimity with which the hon. Member who last spoke regards the Navy Estimates. It is very much to be regretted that we have not had any opportunity in this House of having a general discussion on Army, Air and Naval Estimates altogether, so that the House might come to some conclusion as to the amount of money that they think it is well to spend on armaments, and consideration may be given to how the money can be best spent. I am sometimes surprised, in listening to Debates in this House, to hear statements as to the value which the man in the street places upon the Navy. I think I may be taken to represent that individual, and, speaking for myself, my own feeling would be that, if there is any armament in which I took a special interest and in which the man in the street is specially interested it would be the Air Force rather than the Army or the Navy. I believe what people fear to-day are air raids rather than anything that might happen at sea. That is, no doubt, partly due to the fact, which was largely overlooked by the last speaker, that the German Navy went to the bottom of the sea at the end of the last War. Therefore, it seems to me that that makes a very considerable difference to our outlook in regard to the whole problem of the Navy Estimates.
The point which I want specially to bring before the House is the extravagance which we can see at the Admiralty, and which has been pointed out from the benches opposite even more than from the Opposition Benches— the extravagance of the Admiralty and the way in which the First Lord seems to have got the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pocket. A Debate took place in another place on national economy, and the representative of the Government there assured those in the other place that a watchful eye would be kept on education, on public health, and on certain other great necessary services; but I do not think it was said that a watchful eye was to be kept on the Navy Estimates. The First Lord, with that guile for which he is so noted, that manner which he has of getting round difficulties. seems to have squared the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who agrees to Estimates which, to my mind, might, even from the financial standpoint bear much closer 81 scrutiny. I entirely agree with the Mover of the Amendment when he lays down the position that the first great matter to decide is the question of policy and that the policy to be followed is really what decides finally all your military and naval armaments. The chance of economy is really to be found in policy, and, as far as I can see at the present time, the most hopeful way of securing any large saving in our Navy Estimates is to be found by means of international agreement for disarmament. I was surprised at the speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), who spoke for the Liberal party, delivered. He asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he might not very carefully consider whether he was really prepared to enter into a disarmament conference in which only three nations were to be represented. In a leading financial paper, the "Economist," there appears a most interesting article this week dealing with the whole question of the Navy Estimates, to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. They point out one or two most important things in connection with the Naval Conference which it is proposed to enter upon. The first thing they point out, as I understand the argument, is that the key stone of future policy in regard to naval armaments lies in this question of the number of cruisers.
They point out in this article that the number of British cruisers shown in the return dealing with the fleets of the world include a large percentage which are of much later build than the Japanese or American cruisers. They state that, with the cruisers which are built or being built, the British Navy to-day is practically on a two-Power standard in the matter of cruisers. If we take the larger battleships which are governed by the Washington Agreement and consider the question settled so far as they are concerned, then we come to what is the keystone of the cruiser problem. This article suggests that a cessation of the building of cruisers would be justified by the present naval situation. Like the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, I cannot speak with authority on these matters from a technical point of view, but I am informed that the cruisers under construction to-day would be more likely to be 82 used in the case of war, in connection with great battleships, than to be used singly for the protection of trade routes. In the last War the cruisers allotted for this purpose were of smaller build than the vessels which are being built at the present time. The argument used by several hon. Members in these Debates has been that the trade routes must be defended. The argument in this article is that the cruiser which we are now building is not of the type which would be used for the defence of trade routes. They argue that it would be quite safe for us to suspend cruiser building for the simple reason that we are in a position to wait.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) referred to the position of France and Italy. I would point out to him that the argument which applies to the United States and Japanese fleets in regard to cruisers also applies to the Italian and French Navies. I find on page 18 of this Return a list of cruisers now in use in the French Navy. Some are being built now and some projected, but about eight or ten of the vessels in the list were launched in 1912, 1907, 1902, and so forth. The number of recently launched cruisers in the French Navy is comparatively small. If we take it that this list is up to date, we find the same thing in regard to the Italian cruisers. About eight or ten vessels are mentioned on page 19 in connection with the Italian Navy, and every one of them was launched either in 1915 or before that year. Judged by tin's standard, and in view of the fact that as regards the comparison of great battleships, France and Italy in no way compare with us, we have nothing to fear in regard to the Mediterranean because we should have to stand still for some years before the French or Italian fleets could compete with us in this respect. It seems to me if we are going to have any disarmament worth anything, some nation will have to give a lead. It is no use each nation refusing to give a lead in regard to the one matter which is of supreme importance to that nation. This nation has an exceedingly small Army. It is no use for us to suggest disarmament in regard to military forces. The other Powers would naturally say that the question did not affect us to any great 83 extent. But when it comes to the question of naval disarmament, if we take up the attitude of being hardly willing to enter, into a conference unless France and Italy are there, then the other Powers find at once that on the subject which affects ourselves we are unwilling to take a risk or to give a lead.
Disarmament is of vast importance to this nation and to the whole world, but we shall never get any further if we are not willing to risk something in order to give a lead. It is all the more possible for us to make a move in this direction to-day because, if we look at the present naval position, we find that there are only two great navies in any way competing with us. One is that of the United States, and over and over again we have been told that war between this country and the United States is impossible. On the other hand, if we are to follow up our present cruiser policy, which is looked upon in the United States as a challenge, the United States will build more battleships and enter into a race with us. If it is going to be a race in building, the wealth of America will win. We cannot possibly compete in a race of armaments with the United States. If we put aside the case of the United States, the. only other naval Power with which we are concerned in this argument, is Japan, situated on the other side of the world. Apart from the question of Australia, I suppose it is exceedingly unlikely that we shall have any difference with Japan and even if we had, war between the two to countries is almost impossible because of the vast distances which divide them. I was interested in the figures which were brought before the House by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) in a previous Debate, in which he showed that the oil supply of the world is practically in the control of the United States and this country. He pointed out that Japan would be limited to six months' oil supplies for carrying on naval warfare unless she had the support of the United States or of this country.
As there are only three great Powers affected by the question of naval disarmament, I suggest that an arrangement is possible and the Government ought not to enter this Conference with a greater hope of doing something and with 84 a greater willingness to take some risk and make some definite proposition than has been shown by some of the speakers in this House. If this country is unwilling to act, it seems to me that the chance of the Conference doing anything of real importance is exceedingly small and once again the peoples of the world will be disappointed. We must make a move, and these Naval Estimates provide the opportunity. I have not great confidence in the First Lord's enthusiasm for disarmament. I feel that his Estimates need a much closer investigation than this House has given them. The right hon. Gentleman informed us with great satisfaction that the Estimates showed a reduction of £100,000. He also showed —I was going to say with a kind of simplicity—that this year he was taking £900,000 worth from stores, whereas last year he only took £700,000 worth from stores. So he saves £100,000 on the Estimate but takes £200,000 worth more from stores, and therefore the total expenditure on the Navy, instead of being £100,000 less is £100,000 more. No business could exist on the financial principle of looking upon a transaction of that kind as a saving. If you went on taking something from your stores to a greater amount every year, the business would ultimately come to bankruptcy. As the financial advisers of the First Lord must have pointed out to him, there is no saving whatever.
§ Mr. GILLETT
I am taking the First Lord's own statement. We are not told exactly what these stores are. They are always a mystery in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force alike; and all the right hon. Gentleman told us definitely was that last year he took £700,000 worth and that this year he is taking £900,000 worth. I, therefore, assume that he is taking £200,000 worth more, and instead of a saving of £100,000, that seems to represent an additional expenditure of £100,000. What the First Lord has not told us is how much he has purchased in the way of stores. I view these Estimates with dissatisfaction in several respects. We had soma figures in the last Debate showing the increasing Admiralty staff. The First Lord gave a statement to the House a year or two ago I know, but some further explanation is required of the fact that there has been an in- 85 crease in staff of something like 1,000 and a reduction of about one-third in the fighting force as compared with pre-War days. The number of men is 100,000 compared without about 144,000, and it is difficult to know why the Admiralty require 1,000 more staff for a force of 100,000 men than they did for a force of 144,000 men. The statement which we had from the First Lord, and which I read last night, leaves me unconvinced. This particular item seems to me typical of the Naval Estimates. I should also like to know why the number of officers of the highest paid class is increasing. We have something like 400 ships as against 500 before the War—we have a smaller Navy and a smaller number of men—but we have a larger Admiralty staff and a larger number of highly-paid officers.
These are things on which the House is entitled to have more information. Why does the staff continue to grow? The First Lord says he has had to provide more staff because there is more clerical work. One thing he said was that the letters are typewritten instead of being written by hand, and, as far as I can gather, he used that as an argument in favour of a bigger staff. I could not follow it, because I should have thought it was a saving of time to have typewriters, but that is the sort of argument that is used and that seems to satisfy the First Lord. When we make any criticism upon the whole policy, which certainly I do, in regard to the vast expenditure for the construction and management of the Navy to-day, an hon. Member below the Gangway reads out a statement to the effect that the First Sea Lord would be unable to continue in his position. I am afraid that that statement left these benches cold. We have seen so many changes in the world in the last 10 years that we could possibly even survive the passing of the First Sea Lord.
I think this House is justified in having a fuller explanation from the First Lord in regard to his policy on the larger questions that my hon. Friend has brought up, and I hope that before the Debate comes to an end we may have fuller information about some of these financial questions that are raised, I would remind him, more from the right hon. Gentleman's own benches than from ours. I very much nope the Navy 86 will not think, simply because they have squared the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that they have squared all the other financial interests of this country or that the country to-day takes first interest in the Navy. I believe myself that the Air Force would probably command far more popular support to-day than the Navy, but the really interesting thing, the thing that we need most of all, is disarmament. That is the only hope of any lasting solution of the military problems, of the world, and if we can have some, undertaking from the First Lord that he is really determined to do something in that matter, I think we should feel grateful to him. As it is, I feel myself, with these Estimates, that there is nothing to be grateful for, in view of the extravagance of them and of the way in which the right hon. Gentleman goes on spending money on the Navy which is so badly needed to be spent on social reform.
§ Commander FANSHAWE
The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gilleft), who has just sat down, said that the general public of this country view the Air Force with more favour than the Royal Navy. It may be that to be bombed is a very painful experience, but it is also a very painful experience to be slowly starved to death, and surely the hon. Gentleman can look back to our experiences in the late War, when we very nearly starved to death on more than one occasion. I understand that the proposition, roughly, before the House to-day is that we should abolish our battleships and submarines and reduce our cruisers to those with a displacement of 5,000 tons, and not of 10,000 tons, as they have at the present time. I think we are indebted to the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) for enlightening the House on this subject. He told us that we cannot sacrifice our battleships or our submarines unless we can be perfectly sure that France and Italy, who have refused to go to Washington with us, will do likewise, but there is one thing that the right hon. Gentleman left out. We have Russia, certainly, with a few of these two classes of vessels, but if they, who are much further outside the sphere of Washington than France and Italy, are left even with a few of these vessels, our danger will be very great. There fore, with respect to the right hon. 87 Gentleman, I would suggest that we should add Russia to the countries of France and Italy mentioned by him.
The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), who moved the Amendment, asked the House why the United States takes the lead in this respect, and why we do not take the lead. I think the answer to that is very clear, and must be very clear to everybody. To the United States of America a fleet is nothing more than a luxury, for they are the only big country in the world that is entirely self-contained, and,, of course, they can call the other countries of the world, particularly ourselves, to Washington and put forward proposals for doing away with this luxury that they possess. The hon. Member thought the First Lord, with his programme spread over some years, was a danger, because it was starting a new race for naval armaments, and that the United States of America,, because of the right hon. Gentleman's programme, were at once going to build 10 more cruisers. But are they? Has that been passed into law? I believe there are some people in this country who do not think that that proposition for 10 more cruisers for the United States will ever become law at all, and I believe that our programme, spread over a good many years, will ensure peace and not start a race of naval armaments. The United States of America and other countries know very well that if the First Lord came down to this House at any time and said he wished for an increase in that programme, he would find it very difficult to get such a proposal assented to by this House. Therefore, I believe that this extended programme works for peace and not for war.
Again, the hon. Member for Keighley said that if we could have 5,000-ton cruisers,, the threat from Japan to Australia would become less. But how could that come about? The Japanese would have the same sort of ships at sea, and of the same size, as ourselves. We should both have 5,000-ton ships, as we both now are entitled to have 10,000-ton ships. What difference would it make? The Japanese cruisers would be able to escort the troop transports from Japan, and both our forces at sea would become 88 weaker, but the landing forces of the Japanese would be in no way diminished, while our sea force would be diminished vis à vis the Japanese attacking sea force, because our 5,000-ton ships could not get so far afield to seek out and destroy the enemy before they reached the neighbourhood of Australia. Therefore, in point of fact, I believe that the 5,000-ton proposition would be a danger to the safety of Australia from invasion. The last point I take from the speech of the hon. Member for Keighley is that he said that cruisers built before the War were of less than 5,000 tons and were considered the right sort of craft to employ on our trade routes. At the time we were beginning to build cruisers during the War in great numbers, the trade routes that we had any concern in guarding were those of approach to this country and the trade routes in the Mediterranean; in other words, the trade routes on which the German submarines could act. We had swept every German surface craft off the face of the waters—the "Emden," the "Konigsberg," and all the others— which meant that we were engaged in a most peculiar war, and certainly our smaller, light cruisers and our destroyers were the most suitable craft to employ. They could turn more quickly and get their speed more quickly, and so on.
I pass now to the general question of cruisers. I believe that, as regards batleships and submarines, we should simply leave that bargaining power in the. hands of our naval experts going to Washington, with the inclusion of Russia, if we may have it so. It may be said in this House this afternoon—and I can only reaffirm it—that we are in the most peculiar position of any nation in the world. Take our eastern trade coming to this country. First of all, in the Indian Ocean it has to be convoyed by ships big enough to keep the sea for as long a time as the big merchant ships bringing our supplies, and if we had the 5,000-ton cruisers, those ships would not be able to keep the sea for so long between port and port as our great merchant ships can. Not only so, but the speed of our merchant ships is being; increased, and the speed of our 5,000-ton cruisers would not be able to be maintained in the same way as the speed of our 10,000-ton ships can be maintained. One of the chief causes of 89 weakness in some of our earlier destroyers in the late war was that they carried insufficient supplies of fuel oil, and we should find, in the same way, in escorting our convoys across the Indian Ocean, that our 5,000-ton ships would have to go into port to get oil, and so delay would occur, or we should have to have some ships so that they could come out from some relieving port and take over the duties of convoy, as we did also in the late war.
We also have in the Indian Ocean the question of the monsoon, with a heavy sea, with which the 5,000-ton ship cannot compete if she is going to use a high rate of speed, to get to windward quickly, to get from one point to another quickly, and be able to fight her guns successfully. Another point that occurs to me is that in the Tropics at sea, if the 5,000-ton ship were closely battened down, the comfort of the crew would be jeopardised to a great extent. We. have also to consider the question of piracy. Only the other day there was an extremely bad case of piracy in the China Sea, and it would be far better to have a ship that is able to go to sea in any weather, as a high speed is essential for releasing a ship from the grasp of the pirates. In these great open spaces of the China Sea and the Indian Ocean, the 10,000-ton ship is a better vessel for doing the work than a 5,000-ton ship could possibly be, and I say that in these Eastern waters we are fully justified in maintaining the bigger displacement. To come to the question of the Mediterranean, which is the next place that we have to pass through, closely under the shores of possible naval rivals, there is no doubt that there it might be possible to employ the 5,000-ton ship or smaller ships. May I draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman to this fact that the First Lord, by his proposals, is not only building the bigger 10,000-ton ship, but also a smaller class of ship, and the smaller class, no doubt, could operate in the closed waters of the Mediterranean.
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith), who seconded the Amendment, made two rather peculiar remarks. He first of all, referring to the work of the League of Nations on disarmament, said that such a country as Austria was looking to the League for disarmament. Presumably, as we are dealing with the 90 Navy Estimates, he meant naval disarmament, but the Austrians have no interest at present in a Navy at all, because they have no sea port of any sort, and that at once brings us to the whole difficulty of naval disarmament carried out at Geneva. At Geneva we have such countries as Austria, Switzerland, and other inland countries having exactly the same vote on the question of naval armaments as this country, for whom an efficient and a sufficient Fleet is absolutely vital, and this question of naval disarmament is far better raised and ventilated at Washington, away from the influence of people who have no concern in it whatever. The hon. Gentleman who seconded also talked a good deal about some 1919 standard, and I believe he was referring the whole time to the Naval Clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed a certain naval strength upon Germany. It is only imposed upon Germany for the reason that when the Germans built up their army for attacking France they also built up a tremendous navy simply for the sake of attacking this country. That is the only reason. It is not the 1919 standard. It is merely the naval terms in the Treaty of Versailles imposed upon Germany for the sake of keeping the peace of the world.
Finally, I appeal for the cruiser policy to be gone on with, to be kept open, and I ask that no sort of internal policy of the United States of America should influence us in any way in jeopardising our sea-power, in putting our fighting men into ships which they cannot properly operate in hot climates and heavy seas, and in jeopardising the lives and the safety of that very fine body of men, the Mercantile Marine, who, after all, have got to bring the stuff we eat and on which we live. Do not let us jeopardise the lives of those men whom we who have served in the Royal Navy admire wholeheartedly for their action during the late War.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I think that the present state of this House is a very good indication of the general public opinion of the academic nature of this Amendment. It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Liberal Benches said that no one could have any quarrel with the tone or temper of the speeches, but I do suggest to the House that the proposal which 91 has been made by the Opposition cannot be regarded as a practical one. There was a strange dissimilarity between the contention of the Mover and the contention of the Seconder. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment only wanted the First Lord of the Admiralty to make proposals at Geneva upon the basis that any proposal would be carried out by this country if it were a simultaneous arrangement with other nations, but the Seconder suggested that it should be a unilateral gesture upon our part, and he stated that he would deplore the fact if the First Lord were not prepared to make this reduction, although no such reduction was made by other countries.
There are, I think, three proposals to discuss—the question of the submarines, the question of the battleships, and the question of the cruisers. My hon. and gallant Friend has covered a very great deal of the ground, and, therefore, there is no point in my restating it. There is only one point with which I would like to deal in regard to the cruisers, and that is that if we have the 5,000 ton cruisers, I think the ultimate amount we should have to spend on cruisers would be a great deal more, and not less than if we adopted the 10,000 ton cruisers. The reason is this, that with the great extent of the routes we have to safeguard, the cruisers might have to go 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 miles to take up their stations, and if they have such a very small amount of fuel capacity, they can only remain upon their stations for comparatively few days, with the result that we should require many more cruisers to maintain our patrol than if we had cruisers of greater capacity, which could remain at their stations very much longer. Is it really the function of the House of Commons to suggest technical details of this character? If we are agreed upon a general and simultaneous disarmament, surely that is as far as the politician or the statesman ought to go, and I think it is a very dangerous practice for an Opposition to bind itself upon technical details, which, surely, should be left to the consideration of the technical experts who advise the Government of the day, and I, for one, would deprecate the suggestion with regard to limiting the displacement of cruisers to 5,000 tons.
When we come to battleships, the matter is on an altogether different scale. 92 If we do away with battleships, we have got to face the result, and the result, I venture to suggest, would be that we should then have to maintain an Army on the Continental scale. If we are going to maintain the superiority we have maintained for the last 300 years as a naval power we must carry out those very necessary technical arrangements in regard to the type of ship, composition of our Fleet and the other technical details of our naval forces which will allow us to maintain our naval power; but if we are going to give up the idea of being a naval power, and are merely going to maintain police cruisers, then the whole status of this country, as far as its position in the world is concerned, will be altered, and I suggest that the only result could be that we should have to maintain an Army upon a Continental scale, because in that case the decision of any war would have to be arrived at by military means, and not, as it could to-day, by naval means.
If I may make that a little clearer, I think the reason is that as long as this country depends entirely upon merchandise and foodstuffs carried on our merchant routes, we are in the position of being absolutely defeated in this country not by invasion, not by bombing from the air, but merely by the interruption of our food supplies. At the same time, the reverse of that, namely, the interruption of the enemy supplies, gives to us the main weapon which we have—the weapon which brought Napoleon down. Therefore, if we are going to consider the giving up of our naval superiority, I venture to think we shall have to reach any decision in war by military means. But I do not think we can really arrive at any real evaluation as to the number of vessels we are to keep until we settle the functions which those vessels should carry out in time of war. Let me give an example. Suppose, for instance, it was agreed by all nations that the neutral flag should cover not only non-contraband, but also contraband goods, so that there was no such thing as contraband at all. The result would be that in the event of two nations going to war, they could either sell or transfer their mercantile marine to neutrals, and the whole trade would run just as if there were no war. In consequence, any action between two enemy battle fleets would have about as 93 much effect upon the result of a war as Roman gladiators would have in the arena. The whole object of naval power is to preserve the running of our own merchandise and stopping and securing for our own purpose that of the enemy.
That brings me to this point. Until we know what is the policy of the Government in regard to this whole question of dealing with merchandise during war, it is very difficult to criticise proposals as to the strength of the British fleet and as to the type and number of vessels which are required. The present position of affairs is this: During the Napoleonic wars we were able with the British fleet to deal with all enemy merchandise of any kind, and during the long intervals between the Napoleonic wars and the Great War we entered into various international agreements which effectively destroyed the offensive power of the British Navy toy relegating more and more commodities to what was termed the Contraband List, and one of the main difficulties with which we had to contend in the late War was, first, the Declaration of Paris, and then the Clauses of the Declaration of London. During the War it was found, as hon. Members know, quite impossible to carry out the Clauses of the Declaration of London. The Foreign Office endeavoured to get over that by continually adding different classes of goods to this list of contraband, the details of which were given out in various Orders-in-Council. The result was that America was irritated and the whole of our war policy was altered, due to pressure put upon us by virtue of the fact that many people in this country thought that America might come into the War against us. Because of that, we allowed Germany to be supplied with many of those commodities which not only kept the War going for two years more than it need have lasted, hut probably sacrificed half a million British lives. We have had no statement from the Government from that day to this. If we are, as a result of the experience of the War, coming back to this basis, that we can deal with enemy merchandise and stop the running of enemy merchandise, we can exert our offensive power at sea. If that be so, there is no need for this country ever to contemplate the maintenance of an army 94 upon the Continental scale, but our sea power necessarily depends upon the battleship.
Therefore, I put this point to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. If it be suggested that the battleship could be done away with, we have got to think well and deeply before we allow that to be done, because the result must be that we have thrown overboard the whole experience of the last 300 years, and this country, instead of depending for its strength, for its security upon the sea, becomes a part of a great Continental organisation. So far it has been found that no country has been able to support the economic burden of a great navy, and at the same time an army upon the Continental scale. I venture to suggest that it was that great strain brought upon Germany by trying to build and equip a fleet to contest the mastery of the sea with us which was largely responsible for bringing about the War. The economic pressure put upon the German people made them feel, "Well, let us get it over." That economic pressure was caused through trying to maintain a great navy as well as a great army. I think this Amendment is one of the most mischievious which has been moved for some time. It is a very specious argument to suggest that if we are to have battleships of any kind we should agree all round to reduce them to 5,000 tons. The development of underwater attack has made the 5,000-tons ship very much more vulnerable than the great battleship, and it is only when we build vessels of 35,000 tons that we are able to produce something which can withstand under-water attack, aircraft attack, bomb attack, and so forth. To agree to a proposal like this would be to base our naval power upon a highly vulnerable vessel, our whole naval power would be jeopardised, and if that were done we should have no other course than to maintain an army upon the Continental scale. For all these reasons I hope the party opposite will withdraw their Amendment.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
The hon. And gallant Gentleman who has just sat down implied that this discussion was of somewhat academic interest only. I would assure him that it is not our desire to 95 raise merely an academic Debate, but rather to draw attention to a matter which to us is one of supreme and first-rate importance. Although the attendance in the House would seem to indicate a comparatively small degree of interest, we submit that doe6 not reflect the interest felt in the country at large. People outside have long come to the conclusion that some initiative should be taken towards general disarmament among the nations of the world. It is, however, somewhat of a tragedy that this discussion has not generated more interest in the House. We are now nine years away from the late War. I am stating nothing new when I remind the House that during that War we were repeatedly assured that one of its objects was to end all war. The speeches we have heard from hon. Members opposite would lead one to believe that the late War has been forgotten, that its lessons have been entirely overlooked, and that all we have to do now is to get ready for the next war.
We have the authority of a very distinguished politician, no less an authority than Viscount Grey, for the proposition that our modem wars have arisen very largely, if not entirely, from too great energy in the building up of armaments on every side. That is a proposition capable of proof. So far from armaments having safeguarded peace in the past, they have very largely prepared the minds of nations for future wars. Germany was one of the most powerfully-armed nations in pre-1914 days, but no one will argue that the provision of those vast armaments secured immunity from war for Germany nor, indeed, did it secure immunity for other nations. The preparations generated suspicions and rivalries, and ultimately we were landed in the catastrophe of 1914. Having that fact in mind, we are entitled to say we are extremely disappointed with the Estimates presented by the First Lord. It is obvious from them that we are pre pared, and are preparing, to take our share once again in a new race of armaments. There can be no end to these preparations except another eruption in some part of the world.
I have some sympathy with hon. Members opposite, because they are in an obvious difficulty this afternoon. Their 96 predecessors in the Conservative party in 1910, 1912 and 1913 had some show of reason on their side. They could point to Germany, but to whom do hon. Members opposite point to-day? Is it Japan? Is it America? Is it France? Is it Italy? Will they tell us who it is precisely against whom we are called upon to prepare these huge agglomerations of force? Surely it is not a rational proposal to ask us to spend our wealth in this ridiculous fashion unless we know that somebody is challenging our position.
Accepting for the moment, and for the sake of argument only, that a retaliation in this form is required, let us consider one or two of the countries to which I have just referred. There is America. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) did not take up the point, made by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett), but is it an extravagant proposition to say that we are going to invite rivalry in naval armaments from America? Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that we can hope to keep pace with an enormously wealthy country like that? We are burdened with an intolerable debt. Our expenditure on armaments of every sort accounts for between 14s. and 15s. out of every pound of taxation. If we are called on to embark on rivalry with America, it is obvious that we must ultimately lose.
I presume, therefore, I am right in saying it is not America that we are challenging. Is it Japan? I am not quite sure that Japan is not at times in the minds of hon. Members opposite, because if it be not Japan I cannot understand why we have embarked upon the, to me, somewhat stupid proposal of fortifying Singapore. The mere fact that we have established the Singapore base has been accepted by certain people in Japan as a challenge to Japan on our part.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
May I ask if the hon. Gentleman has included in his calculations Russia, which has the largest number of armed men in the world?
§ Mr. JONES
My hon. and gallant Friend perhaps has better information about Russia than I have, but I have no idea that Russia is possessed of an enormous fleet, and so I presume it is not against Russia that we are building. 97 There are three aspects from which we can judge these questions. There is, first, the method propounded from this side of the House in an unofficial way last Thursday. That is what one might call a purely pacifist point of view. Whatever our views of that method may be, and I am pretty generally in sympathy with it, it is obvious, judging by the vote last week, that it does not command very general support in the House itself. I presume, therefore, we must leave that method on one side for the present. At the other extremity is the old policy which I take it is embodied in these Estimates,, the old pre-War policy of arm, whether there is an enemy in sight or not, spend upon your Army, spend upon your Navy, spend upon your Air Force, but, for Heaven's sake, spend. That is the old policy, which takes no account of the very significant fact that the Foreign Secretary is engaged, and has recently been engaged at Geneva, in trying to develop a policy of pacific relationships between ourselves and other countries. How can the First Lord of the Admiralty defend these Estimates this afternoon from the standpoint of one who is in the same Cabinet as the Foreign Secretary working so extremely hard for peace. Surely, the Foreign Secretary would not feel particularly grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for these somewhat primitive efforts to demonstrate his love of peace. The other alternative is that suggested in the Motion before us. The hon. and gallant Gentleman twitted my hon. Friend who opened the discussion with a suggestion which he did not make, that we were anxious to reduce our armaments to a certain level, but the Motion which he spoke to and the ideas he attempted to propound were based upon this Motion.That this House …. is of opinion that national security and therefore international peace can only be assured by international agreement for a substantial all round reduction in naval armaments, including the abolition of capital ships and submarines and the reduction of the maximum tonnage of cruisers to that necessary for police purposes, and accordingly urges His Majesty's Government to initiate without delay proposals to this end.This afternoon we are taking the line that an approach towards general disarmament among the nations of the world is a more hopeful line for our country to adopt.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
What I said was that although the Mover suggested that we should get simultaneous disarmament by agreement, the Seconder proposed that we should undertake disarmament without its being simultaneous on the part of other nations.
§ Mr. JONES
I know the Seconder pretty well, and I am also acquainted with his views, and I do not gather that from his remarks. We do not desire this afternoon to propound ideas which require this country to do anything that other countries are unwilling to do as well, but we are anxious that the initiative shall be taken by our own Government in respect of our own naval force in the direction of securing naval disarmament. Fortunately for us President Coolidge has put forward an invitation to the nations of Europe, and for my part I rejoice exceedingly that this proposal has come from President Coolidge. I am extremely glad that a favourable gesture has been made in return by our own Government, though of course it is a qualified gesture after all. It is qualified to the degree that it is dependent very largely upon what the French and the Italians may do ultimately.
I think that the way in which we accept these proposals from America is fraught with great consequences to our country. I was in conversation with an American some days ago, and I asked why it was, in his opinion, that the American people were so touchy upon the question of the League of Nations and the familiar question of the debts. His reply to me was quite apposite to the discussion we are having to-day. He said that the American people will remain-strongly antagonistic to associating with the League of Nations or with the Geneva Convention, nor will they be favourable to a consideration of our debt to America, until the people of Europe have shown a greater readiness to consider the question of disarmament in Europe. The Americans feel that if we do not disclose a real desire to get rid of this constant arming and arming year after year, they would not be entitled, nor would it be just to their own people, to remit our debts. The American nation will not attach themselves to the League of Nations so long as the people of Europe show the old pre-War mentality instead of a post-War peace mentality.
99 When I was in America about 18 months ago I found a considerable measure of support for that point of view. If we are going to get the American people with us in the direction of co-operation inside the League of Nations, we must persuade them by actual practice that we are really prepared to tackle the question of disarmament in a generous kind of way. There is another argument in favour of the taking up of this question in a prompt and generous spirit. While we are spending somewhere between 14s. and 15s. out of every pound of taxation we collect on armaments—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is so. I assert that we are spending 14s. or 15s. out of every pound of taxation upon either past or present expenditure upon armaments. Our National Debt is what it is to-day because of our immense expenditure upon armaments in pre-War days and during the recent War.
§ Mr. JONES
I am not advocating anything so stupid. I simply say that the debt is so much, and, while we are spending between 14s. and 15s. of every pound we raise in taxation upon this form of activity,, there is only 5s. or 6s. left out of every pound for the purpose of social reconstruction. It cannot be denied that a considerable measure of our social discontent is due to the fact that so little of our national resources is spent in a useful direction. I see the Minister of Health on the Bench opposite, and I am sure he will agree with me when I say that if he had more money at his disposal he would be able to embark upon an innumerable and endless list of social reforms which are necessary; but, while the right hon. Gentleman keeps asking for money for these purposes, the First Lord of the Admiralty is able to get it, and the Ministry of Health is starved for lack of resources.
There is another point which is worth keeping in mind in connection with this discussion, and I think I discerned it in the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sterling and Clackmannan (Commander Fanshawe), who seemed to indicate or betray a desire that the Washington meeting should be 100 pushed forward so that in some way the Geneva Convention might be put into the background. I have heard that suggestion put forward before, and we must approach this question with some care, because I regard it as fraught with the greatest danger in regard to our relationship with other countries. Here we have been for some years co-operating with European nations within the aegis of the League of Nations. I understand that there is a desire among certain military and naval authorities to push forward the Washington proposal so that the Geneva proposal may pass into the limbo of forgotten things. We must not allow this American proposal to blind us to the great importance of keeping touch with European nations in our march towards disarmament.
On one of the Committees dealing with this question, there are a number of eminent naval and military advisers belonging to the various nations of the world, and they have presented a unanimous report, in which they suggest that the limitation of armaments is not a discussion entirely in the air, but it is, in fact, a practical proposal. If that be so, I trust, if we are to go into a discussion with the American authorities, we shall not use this as an excuse for cutting out any proposal that may be forthcoming in connection with the League of Nations. The hon. and gallant Member opposite pleaded—I suppose from his point of view quite rightly—that we must preserve a certain amount of naval power in order to protect our trade routes. From a naval man I should expect that argument, but surely we may secure a certain measure of protection by agreement among the nations of the world. Our trade routes would not be jeopardised in consequence, but would be made all the more secure, since the armaments of all nations would be reduced pro rata.
The main point I want to put is that it really will not do for the Government, from the mouth of one of its spokesmen, to be continually reiterating the word "peace" when other Members of the Government are obviously preparing for war. We have heard repeatedly speeches from supporters of the Government which have visualised the next war. If hon. Members opposite have faith in the 101 policy of the Foreign Secretary, then why not disclose their faith in the success of that policy by agreeing to the proposal we are making this afternoon, namely, that Britain, the leader among the nations of the world, shall not follow other nations, but shall take her place in the forefront among those nations who are anxious to secure a naval holiday for the future. There was a time a few years before the late War when a naval holiday proposal was made. It did not prove successful at that time, but the old rival of our Navy is now at the bottom of the sea, and Germany who was invited to join with us in a naval holiday in pre-war days has by compulsion been disarmed, and the Treaty which involved Germany in that disarmament specifically declared, and the pledge was given to Germany at the Peace Conference by M. Clemenceau, that the disarmament of Germany was only a preliminary to the disarmament of other countries in due time. We ask this afternoon that we may have a statement from the First Lord of the Admiralty which will encourage us in the belief that that pledge is going to be honoured, and that this country is willing to take her place with other nations who are pledged to disarmament.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I do not know why the hon. Member who has just spoken should insinuate that there is a suspicious motive behind the policy of the Government with regard to the reduction of armaments, and I do not see why he has put forward the view that the Government desire to side-track Geneva by adopting the proposal of President Coolidge.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I think that that is a baseless charge to make against anyone in this country. The only person who is responsible for these proposals is President Coolidge himself, and gave very good reasons for doubting the success of the League of Nations' effort. It is his strong desire to bring about a mutual reduction of naval armaments that 102 has caused him to ask the principal naval Powers to meet together. There was another suggestion—and it is a favourite trick on the part of the Socialist Opposition for the purpose of sowing suspicion —that was attempted to be put forward by every one of their four Socialist speakers this afternoon, and that was that we were in some way building against the United States. It is perfectly obvious that the United States do not build against us, and that we do not build against the United States, but we fixed at Washington a scale of 5-5-3, both the United States and ourselves possessing a five to three superiority over Japan in regard to battleships and aircraft carriers. It is obvious that we do not build against the United States, because, before the Washington Conference, the United States were building 14 super-Dreadnoughts, and we made no attempt whatever to put down any. The United States at this moment has a far greater force of submarines and destroyers, and yet no one calls attention to it in this House, or bothers about it at all, because, as I think was said by one of the hon. Members themselves, the idea of war between the United States and this country is a thing that no one thinks possible.
The hon. Members, the Seconder of the Amendment especially, accused the Government of lack of zeal in trying to bring about disarmament, but I do not know of any nation that has tried more than this country to bring about disarmament. As I pointed out in the Debate on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, for six years we abstained from laying down any ships at all, and I challenge anyone to mention any other naval Power that has abstained in the same way. What is still more to the point is that, after the Washington Conference, we did not wait until all the five nations had ratified the Treaty. All the other four nations waited for ratification by France some years later, but we scrapped 19 capital ships straight away without waiting. That shows that this country is as keen as any country on bringing about disarmament. I am glad that, instead of the Resolutions moved last year from the Front Opposition Bench for doing away with the entire Navy, and this year for doing away with the entire Air Force, we have now an acknowledgment from the Front Opposition Bench that at any rate 103 the official policy of the party is relative disarmament, that the nations should disarm together. But the case is not very hopeful in regard to relative disarmament. We had a Conference at Rome of all the small Powers to try to bring about relative disarmament, and that failed; and the invitation of President Coolidge has been refused by France and Italy. I am also glad that, in addition to being in favour of relative disarmament, the party opposite recognise that the Navy is far more vital to us—I think the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment recognised that—than in the case of any other Power. They recognise that the whole living of the working classes of this country depends upon the defence that the Navy can afford to our commerce. That is a useful admission.
Now I come to their practical proposals. There is no party in this House that disputes the benefit that will come to the world if we can bring about mutual disarmament. Therefore, with the early part of the hon. Meniber's proposal everyone agrees. But the Socialist party —whether in the hope that some part of the programme may be carried out, and they will be able to say, "We told you so," I do not know—have laid down their practical solutions, one of which they call "the abolition of the battleship." So long, however, as you have fighting ships at all, you cannot abolish the battleship. You might abolish the present type of battleship, but the next smaller ship would immediately become the battleship. There is a point that hon. Members opposite lose sight of. I could wish that President Coolidge had summoned a conference to deal both with naval and with air armaments, because the two are very closely related; you cannot really consider the one without the other. Supposing that the 5,000-ton ship becomes the battleship, it then becomes a mere toss-up whether air power cannot sink that 5,000-ton ship. She is vulnerable to a torpedo, she is vulnerable to bombs, she cannot carry the weight of armoured decks and anti-aircraft guns. Therefore, the proposal of hon. Members opposite is to place at hazard the whole naval power of this country. There is no doubt that the present battleship can defeat aircraft; she can defeat the bomb and the torpedo, 104 and can carry an equipment of anti-aircraft guns which will keep aircraft at a safe distance, with a fleet assisted by defence planes.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
My hon. and gallant Friend is always interrupting on that point, but he has never taken the trouble to study the American Reports.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
Does my hon. and gallant Friend say that the battleship can defeat the Whitehead torpedo launched from aircraft?
§ Commander BELLAIRS
After repeated bombing and torpedoing, extending over a period of time, ships have been sunk, but they have been ships without any defence in the form of anti-aircraft guns, and without up-to-date arrangements for making them unsinkable.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
All the war staffs of the principal navies agree that the battleship remains supreme. Whatever happens, if you do away with the existing type of battleship, it simply means that the smaller type of fighting ship will become the battleship. As to the definition of what is a battleship, my own idea is that it is the finest unit of fighting power that can act in combination with ships of its own type against enemy ships or enemy aircraft, or whatever can be brought against it. The next point that I wish hon. Members to consider is this. A nation like Japan can do as the Dutch did in the old wars, and as the Germans did in the last War—they can lay up the whole of their commerce. They can either send all their cruisers and arm their merchant vessels to attack commerce, or, on the other hand, they can assemble their cruisers to form a fleet. Under the Socialist proposals, the battleships would have gone, and the cruisers would have become the battleships, so that we should have to meet both possibilities and both dangers with cruisers: and hon. Members will find that, when the war staff come to figure the matter out, they will be let in for a very considerable building programme by their proposals.
105 I take the Return of Fleets. The hon. Member opposite had it in his hand, but I do not think he has studied it if he thinks we are going to get off any building by getting rid of all ships above 5,000 tons. If he turns to the Return of Fleets, he will see that, even taking 20 years as the life of a cruiser—I doubt very much whether it is so long as 20 years—by 1936 only the ships that have been laid down since 1916 will be in existence, and he will then find, by adding them up, that all the ships that have been laid down subsequent to 1916 by Great Britain amount to 22. Therefore, in order to form a fleet and have cruisers available for the defence of commerce, we shall be let in for a big building programme, up to 1936, of ships of less than 5,000 tons. Again, if he turn to Japan, he will find that Japan only has three cruisers of less than 5,000 tons. She is not going to be content with that. Therefore, having scrapped all her ships above 5,000 tons, she will also be let in for a considerable building programme.
There is another point with which I desire to deal, namely, the abolition of submarines. On that there is no difference of policy whatever. At the Washington Conference we proposed the abolition of submarines, and we set another example in disarmament, but again it failed. We had at that time the finest submarine fleet in the world, without exception, and we have not got it now. We set an example that has not been followed. We offered to scrap the whole of it, and that proposal failed because of France. The contention of the French, I am sorry to say, is that they are going to apply the sink-at-sight doctrine. After all, they were the inventors of the sink-at-sight doctrine, in the eighties and nineties of the last century. The Root Resolution for the abolition of the sink-at-sight doctrine, whether from the air or from submarines, although it was signed by M. Briand, has never been ratified by the French Chamber. It has been ratified by the other four nations which were signatories of the Treaty of Washington, but has never been ratified by or submitted to the French Chamber, and on that doctrine the French will never agree to the abolition of the submarine.
I believe, however, that it is practicable for Great Britain, the United States and Japan to make a three-party agree- 106 ment for the abolition of submarines, but, of course, it will leave the other nations with submarines in their possession. If, however, each nation retained, say, five for experimental purposes, and agreed to communicate all its secrets of defence against submarines to the others, and also to any other nation that would come into the Agreement, I think we should win out. After all, ever since the War the dice have been loaded ever more strongly against the submarine. The antisubmarine defence measures have far overtaken the attack, and, therefore, I think it is a practical proposition to bring forward once again our proposals for the abolition of the submarine, and induce the United States and Japan to agree with us to that abolition, retaining a few for experimental purposes with a view to strengthening measures of defence against them, and leaving it to time for France and Italy to come in.
§ Commander COCHRANE
The Mover of the Amendment, in his opening remarks, referred to the desire for greater security, and, as far as I could follow him, he felt quite convinced that the proposals he was putting forward would tend to bring about greater security in the world. It appears to me that naval disarmament is not in itself an end, but that, if it is to be of value, it must tend to promote a feeling of security and the avoidance of a feeling of suspicion. At the present time, I think it is worth while to consider what feeling of suspicion there is in the world, and why it exists, so far as this country is concerned. There is no doubt that during the past few months there has been up and down the country a great deal of talk of war, a great deal of talk about the Government being alleged to be preparing for war, and so on. So far as that talk has gone, and so far as the party opposite are responsible for it, I believe they are the greatest obstacle to a policy of agreed disarmament. They have been creating in the world a feeling of suspicion—a feeling of suspicion that this Government is proposing a warlike policy against China. That is the greatest possible obstacle to disarmament. There is one particular aspect of this question of disarmament to which I would like to address myself very briefly, in connection with this 107 question of the creation of suspicion, because it appears to me that the proposals put forward from the party opposite are based on a profound misconception. They appear to think that if you abolish battleships and submarines everything else will remain exactly as it was before. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith) said that in his opinion the First Lord was fortunate because in the Navy it was quite easy to distinguish a battleship, a destroyer, and a submarine and so on, and that there could be no difficulty about what these vessels were and what type they were. That is a profound mistake. You may abolish what, at present, are known as battleships but some other type will take their place. In this question of international agreement for disarmament, surely what is essential is that the agreement should be incapable of evasion. If we are going to avoid suspicion, we must have an agreement which cannot be evaded. To my mind, that was one of the great points in favour of the Washington Agreement. It could not readily be evaded. Definite tonnages were laid down for certain classes of ships. You might build a cruiser of slightly more than 10,000 tons, but you could not evade that Agreement so as to obtain a great advantage over a possible adversary.
May I give an example from an analagous case? In yacht racing, there is an international committee which draws up rules under which that sport is carried on. They have no distractions for political or financial reasons. They are set there to draw up formulas under which certain types of yachts must be built, so that there may be a reasonable margin of safety and so on. So soon as that Committee has produced its formulas, the yacht designers settle down and say, "Yes, we have to fulfil these conditions. How can we get round them?" They do it every time. The designers will invariably evade the rules. Again, it may be necessary to define "battleships" or "submarines" in an Act of Parliament. We all know what we mean by a submarine, and we can use the word quite properly in an Act of Parliament, but, if in the future any question of what the definition meant arose it would come under the review of a court of law, and 108 it would there be decided as to whether what Parliament had intended when it used the word "submarine" was in fact what the word meant. In an international agreement, the position is entirely different. Suppose we had an international agreement to abolish submarines. You must obtain a definition of a submarine which cannot be evaded if you are going to do any good and to avoid suspicion. I do not wish to go into technicalities but I would invite any hon. Member who is interested in the matter to attempt to find a definition of a submarine which will mean not only a submarine as we know it at present but a submarine as it may evolve as the result of these definitions, because that is the difficulty you are up against.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman think the definition of submarine as applied in the 1919 standard for Germany has been adequate?
§ Commander COCHRANE
I think the word alone is used, and there is no definition. What happened in 1919 was that existing vessels were destroyed. That is simple. But what we are considering at present is the drawing up of a rule which will stand, as I understand it, for a term of years, and under which vessels which have not yet entered the mind of man cannot be built. That is the difficulty, and the ingenuity of designers will invariably beat your definition.
The other point I wish to put is very similar. You can carry these proposals for disarmament a certain distance. You are then faced with a growing suspicion that they are being evaded. Is it the proposal of hon. Members opposite that there should be international inspection to see that these Agreements are carried out? That appears to me a very important point which must be considered if you are proposing such drastic reductions as have been put forward by hon. Members opposite. I do not believe international inspection would be agreed by any self-respecting country, and I do not, for a moment, believe it would be effective in preventing evasion of a complicated rule of disarmament. Take the position of a body of experts who go to a foreign country to examine all its engineering and other establishments to determine whether they are attempt- 109 ing to build some particular form of armament which has been prohibited. You have not only to consider the forms of armament which you know at this moment, but the types which the country will endeavour to introduce as the result of the restrictions which have been put on them, because I am convinced, and I think hon. Members opposite will agree with me, that the desire of the country to defend itself goes right down into the heart of things. You cannot get away from the desire of the country to be secure. Therefore, if you attempt to apply restrictions which are not readily acceptable, you inevitably lead to a policy of evasion.
I started by saying that in my view the most important thing involved in the policy of disarmament was to be quite certain that in your policy you did not create renewed suspicion. I cannot get away from the feeling that a policy such as has been proposed to-day would inevitably lend itself to evasion. Actual evasion is unnecessary. It may be merely suspicion. In this matter of disarmament it is better to have a certain standard of armaments. Take what we have now. It costs a certain amount of money. We know what it is. It creates no suspicion in the minds of any other country except when the party opposite for political purposes say that the Government are preparing for war. What would be the position if we had reduced ourselves to a state where, by secret preparations which could only be discovered with the greatest difficulty, any country might successfully attack our trade routes and starve our people? I am not attempting to oppose limitation of armaments. I believe the Washington Agreement was a great success, and a great advantage, not only to us, but to the world. But I beg hon. Members to think that in this matter there are practical difficulties. It is not only the case, as they might allege, that the Government are unwilling to face this thing, but there are practical difficulties, and on account of those difficulties I do not think proposals for the limitation of armaments should in any way be pressed too far. It is a subject which must be approached very carefully and cautiously if we are not going to stir up greater evils than those we are allaying.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The Debate has largely centred round the question of what should be the tasks at the forthcoming Conference to which President Coolidge has issued invitations, but there have been one or two other points raised, and perhaps I had better refer to them first. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) made a few criticisms of the Estimates in general He spoke particularly about the staff of the Admiralty. I do not know whether he holds the same view about increased staffs anywhere else, or whether it is only the Admiralty that he is interested in. May I inform him, although I do not wish to boast of it, that there has been a reduction of 96 in the number of the staff although the actual expense is slightly higher than last year. That is partly due to the rise in salary as they get higher up. Again and again I have endeavoured to explain that the business of running the Navy now is totally different from what it was before the War owing to the enormous developments and the extraordinary different number of spare parts of machinery. It is just the same if a farmer turns to intensive cultivation. He would have to employ a much larger number of men than before. But I do not suppose it will be very easy to please the hon. Member. I do not think any Estimates would satisfy him. He said the really important defence of the country was the Air Force, and yet a large number of his party decided that the Air Force ought to be abolished. If the Air Force is more important than the Navy and ought to be abolished, how am I ever going to please the hon. Member?
The only other speech which I thought went a little ahead of the lines on which the Proposer and Seconder initiated it was that of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). He was endeavouring all the time to fix upon this party the accusation that they were against peace and were starting a new race for armaments, and that is what they say all over the country. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Fife, Eastern (Commander Cochrane) is right. If there be any suspicion, they are making it. What justification is there for it? After the War, he asks, who is starting the race for armaments? This country I He is always ready to make his own country a butt if he possibly can. What 111 is the fact? After the War, this country practically laid down no ships at all until 1924, when the party opposite laid down a few cruisers, very properly, for replacement purposes. The other four great naval Powers had built or laid down 300 ships when we had laid down only 11. What is the truth in a statement like that, when the hon. Member asks, "Who started the race for armaments?" and answers it himself—"this country"—when we built only 11 while the others were building 300? I hope he will not use that argument in the future.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
One other thing the hon. Member said. He asked against whom we are arming. We are arming as an insurance, as I have said over and over again. That is the reason why the right hon. Gentleman and his friends replaced the cruisers that were worn out. Why did he not say to the other nations who were building much faster than we: "Against whom are you arming?" The object in his mind is to try to fix upon this Government and this country the accusation that we are bellicose and anxious to start war. That accusation is absolutely contrary to the facts of the case. He went on to carp at what he calls our qualified acceptance of Mr. Coolidge's invitation. What are the facts about that? How is it qualified? He could not say when I asked him. He said something about Prance and Italy. If he will look at our reply—I am speaking from memory— he will find that all we said about France and Italy was that we honed they would come in, and, if they did not, we would be very glad to come in anyhow. As to the qualification, our invitation was to join in a discussion on whether the ratio should be extended. Our answer was that it should be wider than that, and every method which could possibly lead to a limitation of armaments should be considered in that conference if it took place. So far from qualifying, our acceptance widened the invitation, and I am very glad to say that President Coolidge accepted the suggestion that it should be an open conference in which any country can discuss any method 112 which they think can possibly reduce the armaments under discussion.
I would like now to come to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith). I have no cause whatever to complain of the way in which he proposed it, or of the way in which the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith) seconded. They did not attempt to overstate their case or to accuse their opponents of any evil intentions. They spoke quite fairly, but perhaps they will allow me to say that the views they advanced were not altogether novel to any Member of this House. They are not the result of some brain wave which occarred to them, and which nobody else has ever thought of. Similar arguments have been present to the minds of most Members, and have been considered most carefully by the Admiralty, not without having arrived at some results, which I hope some day may be useful. What they suggested today has nothing very novel in it, but I think the reason why they brought it forward was that the Socialist party were anxious that, if anything did come of this conference, they should have the credit of it, and, if nothing came of it, we should have the blame.
The hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate rather misrepresented what happened at Washington. He said it was no use our proposing then to stop building submarines, because we did not accompany it with any limitation at the other end. He forgets that we did. It was accompanied by a very good limitation at the other end. It was accompanied by a limitation in the size and number of battleships. His history therefore is not quite correct in that matter. The reason why it failed is not quite the reason he gave, namely, that we did not propose to abolish all battleships. He also said—I do not think it is quite correct—that the fact of fixing 10,000 tons as the limit for cruisers leads to 10,000 tons being not the maximum but the minimum. That has not taken place. At Washington, our representatives were certainly in favour of a lower figure for cruisers, and therefore, as far as this country is concerned, it was not our fault that the figure of 10,000 tons—2nd 8-inch guns—was fixed.
The Seconder of the Motion talked a great deal about one common standard. 113 I did not make out exactly what he wanted us to do. He appeared to wish us to settle something which would, at one fell swoop, tabulate the armed forces of every country. That, of course, is far beyond anything that is possible at the present moment. At the present moment, the Conference, which I hope will be held in June at Geneva or any other place that is fixed upon, will be one in which certainly not more than five Powers will take part, and possibly not more than three. I hope it will be possible for all five to take part in it. Whatever we do there, cannot accomplish what the hon. Gentleman desires, namely, fixing something for all sorts of other countries. What it may do, and I hope will do, for other countries is that it will make it easier for them, seeing what we three can do, to follow suit and come to some more general agreement.
I do not know whether those hon. Gentlemen really thought that it was right for me to state in this House to-day exactly what proposals our Government will make when the Conference at Geneva meets. I do not think they really thought that. I am sure they understand that it would be quite impossible for me to give chapter and verse for the proposals which we think we may be able to make on that occasion. First of all, let us get the Conference called. I think we shall be able to put forward proposals which will be at any rate worthy of consideration. I certainly am not going to accept his formula of abolishing all battleships and all submarines. I am not going to accept any formula except this, that—subject to the consideration, which the right hon. Gentleman for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) mentioned, that this country stands in a perfectly unique position, for we are dependent for our very existence upon the freedom of the seas—we shall be prepared to consider, with every desire to come to an agreement, any proposals that may be made for a limitation of armaments acceptable by other Powers. It is perfectly right to say that this is a question of relativity. Whether you have a battleship or not is a question of relativity. It depends a great deal upon what vessels there are that are likely to attack your battleship. Suppose you fix the size of the battleship, and the size of the vessels likely to attack it keeps on increasing, you would find you could not adhere to that standard, and there- 114 fore the size of a battleship is relative to the size of other vessels. It is also relative to what other countries possess.
What the right hon. Gentleman said is perfectly true that, while we are prepared to consider with other countries, what can be done we are not prepared to say straight away, without knowing what anybody else is going to do, that we can abate in any way the obligation that is put upon us to be in a position to defend this country in case there was any attempt to cut off our food supplies. Of course, hon. Members opposite, because we do not gush every day about the possibility of peace, are very anxious to fix upon! us the accusation that we do not care for peace. I do not yield to anybody, nor do any of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, in our desire for peace, but it must be peace that leaves us without any anxiety, and it must be an arrangement with the view of limiting armaments in the future in which other countries share—other countries realising our difficulties and we realising their's. Although it may not be all done at one burst, I for one very much hope that the result of this Conference will be to take a considerable step forward, and I can assure the House that, while safeguarding as I hope the position of this country and this Empire, there is no proposition which we will not consider that any country can bring forward to limit the armaments of the future.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman cannot give any details now, but will he explain whether the Government will put forward some definite offer to come up for consideration? Or do I understand that the Government will not put forward an offer, but will wait and see what other countries will do?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
No, what I said was, that we have been thinking out these questions while hon. Members opposite have imagined we were preparing for war. We think we have got proposals which are worth considering. As to who makes the proposals first, it depends entirely upon what is the order of going in—if I may use the expression. All I want the hon. Gentleman to understand is that we have got our ideas and 115 are quite prepared to put them forward. Whether they will be put forward before by anybody else or not, I cannot say.
§ Mr. SCURR
I rise perhaps with some little trepidation in this Debate, as I am in no sense of the word a naval expert, and, after the differences of opinion which have arisen between the naval experts, one is a little diffident as to treading in their footsteps. But, having passed some of my early years at sea, and knowing something of what has been done in regard to the Navy, I feel that it is my duty to rise to support the Amendment that has been moved from this side of the House, because I feel that this afternoon the Debate, which was described by the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut. -Commander Burney) as academic, is really a tragedy. During the whole time that hon. Members opposite have been giving us their expert knowledge on this or that part of a ship or this or that implement of war, and how it might be used or developed, we have been in the atmosphere of war and not in the atmosphere of peace. We were told during the Great War that it was a war to end wars. I take it that when people used that phrase they really meant it; but here we are to-day in this House face to face with this Estimate for an enormous sum for the Navy, and all that the First Lord of the Admiralty can say is: "We are going into the Conference; we have been thinking about it and have some proposals which we may put forward, or someone else may put them forward first." Is that a serious way of dealing with this question?
I hold very strongly the opinion that whatever conferences we call at the present time or at any other time on the question of disarmament, they do not face the question from the point of view of disarmament. They face it all the time from the point of view of the future conduct of war, and the conduct of that war in the cheapest possible way. That is at the back of the minds of most people who go into these conferences. It was the same thing many years ago when the Czar of Russia issued his famous peace rescript to the world, but the Hague conference and other conferences which followed did not concern themselves with trying to bring peace into the 116 world; they discussed all sorts of methods for the future conduct of war, and when war did come, all the things which had been agreed upon at those conferences were scrapped. We know very well that although we may enter into any number of arrangements that this shall not be done in wartime and that that shall not be done in wartime, when war breaks out the whole of those things will be scrapped, because of the old saying "Everything is fair in love and war." When war is on, the whole thing thought about is the desire and the will to secure victory, and people resort to any means in order to gain victory. We had that experience in the last War. If 30 or 40 years ago there had been talk of the various implements of war which were used in the recent war, people would have pooh-poohed the idea, and would have said that it was impossible that men could be so vile as to devise some of the instruments used in that war. First one nation used them, and then another nation used them, and so the whole diabolical business goes on.
The only way in which security can be maintained is to start casting out fear. We are in fear all the time. This afternoon the whole discussion has been that we have to safeguard our trade routes, that we have to safeguard our food supplies and that we have to safeguard our nation. Here is a great and powerful nation, and yet it is all the time expressing its fear. Disarmament is only going to be a practical proposition when one of the great nations, a nation like our own, will start doing the thing itself, without relation to what other nations are doing, and without waiting for other nations. Such a nation must-say: "We will not build for war." During the Debate, some amusement was expressed when the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) referred to the fact that 15s. out of every pound of expenditure per head went in expenditure for wars and past wars. Out of every pound which we spend at the present time we are spending on the Army, the Navy and the Air Force 3s. 2d. It is a very big insurance premium if out of our expenditure 15 per cent. has to be paid in that way, and we have no reliability from it. We are told that these armaments are for keeping peace, and that unless we have them it is impossible to keep peace. We know that 117 the more and more armaments are developed the sooner war comes, because when people have these instruments in their hands they want to use them and to see whether they have the uses which they expected of them.
On this side of the House we have been very disappointed with the reply of the First Lord of the Admiralty. He has been amusing in some ways, and has twitted the Opposition on simply doing its duty in putting certain obligations upon the Government. We feel that at the present time throughout the whole world we are in an atmosphere of war. There are, however, forces working in the world at the present time that will compel disarmament. Throughout the world there is a great development of international capitalism, the relationship between various organised industries not on a national basis but on an international basis. If those organisations
§ are being formed on an international basis, and if the chemical trade, the iron and steel trade and other trades are to be under international control, the great industrial magnates who control them will not want this great expenditure upon armaments. Such expenditure will be useless for them, because to set nations fighting one another would be to destroy their own capital. Therefore, you may find that there are influences at work which will bring about disarmament even quicker than you anticipate. The whole argument put forward in regard to defence and the rest of it is an argument of fear, and until we get rid of that fear there is absolutely no hope for the world.
§ Question put, "That '102,275' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 231; Noes, 92.119
|Division No. 51.]||AYES.||[7.23 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Alnsworth, Major Charles||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)||Hogg, Rt. Hon.Sir D. (St.Marylebone)|
|Albery, Irving James||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Holt, Captain H. P.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ellis, R. G.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Atkinson, C.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Fermoy, Lord||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Fielden, E. B.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Hutchison,G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Berry, Sir George||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Gates, Percy||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Jacob, A. E.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Brass, Captain W.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Goff, Sir Park||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Grace, John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Grant, Sir J. A.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H. C.(Borks,Newb'y)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Burman, J. B.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Lougher, L.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Lumley, L. R.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hanbury, C.||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Harland, A.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Harney, E. A.||McLean, Major A.|
|Cope, Major William||Harrison, G. J. C.||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hawke, John Anthony||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Crawford, H. E.||Headlam, Lieut-Colonel C. M.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Remer, J. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Rentoul, G. S.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Rice, Sir Frederick||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Meller, R. J.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y,Ch'ts'y)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Merriman, F. B.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Ropner, Major L.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wells, S. R.|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Rye, F. G.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putne.)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Wllliams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Sandon, Lord||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Savery, S. S.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Shepperson, E. W.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine.C.)||Withers, John James|
|Penny, Frederick George||Smithers, Waldron||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Pilcher, G.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn]||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Radford, E. A.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Major Sir Harry Barnston and Capt.|
|Raine, W.||Tasker, R. Inigo.||Lord Stanley.|
|Ramsden, E.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Scurr, John|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||John William (Rhondda, West)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Ammon, Charles George||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smillie, Robert|
|Baker, Walter||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Kennedy, T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Briant, Frank||Lawrence, Susan||Snell, Harry|
|Broad, F. A.||Lee, F.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromfield, William||Livingstone, A. M.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Bromley, J.||Lowth, T.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Clowes, S.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Mackinder, W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||MacLaren, Andrew||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cove, W. G.||March, S.||Sullivan, Joseph|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Maxton, James||Thomas, Rt Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Montague, Frederick||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Morris, R. H.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Duncan, C.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Mosley, Oswald||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Gardner, J. P.||Naylor, T. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Welsh, J. C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Groves, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Purcell, A. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Sprinq)|
|Hardie, George D.||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hayday, Arthur||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
Second Resolution read a Second time.
Ordered, That the Resolutions which upon the 17th day of this instant March were reported from the Committee of Supply, and which were then agreed to by the House, be now read:
That a number of Air Forces, not exceeding 33,000, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, exclusive of tho6e serving in India, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1928.
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 166,500, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March. 1928.
§ Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide, during Twelve Months, for the Discipline and Regulation of the Army and Air Force; and that Secretary Sir Laming Worthington- 121 Evans, Mr. Bridgeman, Secretary Sir, Samuel Hoare, and Captain King do prepare and bring it in.