HC Deb 12 March 1928 vol 214 cc1607-49

I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words: in view of the peril to civilisation latent in air warfare, this House regrets that His Majesty's Government did not advocate bolder proposals for aerial disarmament at the meeting of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, and urges them to take the initiative in putting forward a programme containing the abolition of military and naval air forces and the establishment of the international control of civil aviation. For over four hours we have been discussing these Estimates. When the Air Minister was speaking, although he occupied nearly an hour, he paid very little attention to the Air Force as a fighting instrument. The speeches to which we have listened, mainly from the benches opposite, which are now empty, treated the problem of the Air Force in rather a gingerly fashion. The bulk of the speeches have been directed to the development of airships and civil aviation. One would have pardoned those speeches had this been essentially a peace subject that we are considering. As a matter of fact, and that is the reason why we introduced this Amendment, the Air Force, like the Navy and the Army, is organised for the purpose of prosecuting war, and it is from that standpoint that we approach the question. We desire to turn the discussion to this aspect of this subject, because we consider it is of the utmost importance and should be our primary consideration. We on these benches take up no equivocal position at all. We say without hesitation and without qualification that the whole energy of this Government should be used not for perfecting the Air Force of this country but how to abolish the Air Force in consultation and in agreement with other countries. I put forward this Amendment on three main grounds. The first ground is that of self-preservation. The second, the disastrous economic consequences of mechanised warfare, and particularly aerial warfare, and the third that warfare to-day, and particularly air warfare, affronts all the higher moral sense of the community. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton) in replying to the speech of the Secretary of State touched the crux of the problem when he indicated that we had now arrived at a position when aerial warfare represents a development of military science specifically for the offensive, and although we are perfecting this instrument at a rapid rate no corresponding defence is being developed. This raises an entirely new issue for humanity. If I could not advance this proposal on the grounds of self-preservation I should be rather uneasy in my mind, because I realise that the prosecution of war is one of the oldest of human institutions. It dates back right into history, and is embedded in the structure of society. It goes deep down into the heart and being of every individual. Possibly the beginning of warfare was the necessity for self-defence and self-preservation; but in aerial warfare we cannot claim that any longer. The position is reversed. All the instincts of self-preservation call for the abolition of this instrument. It is impossible to discuss this subject with any rhetorical exaggeration. There are many subjects in which sentiment and emotion may cause us to exaggerate, for or against, but no matter in which direction we look, whether we take the views of statesmen or of experts, of military men or of naval men, or the view of the man in the street, the immense disastrous consequences of aerial warfare are known and it is impossible to exaggerate. It is generally recognised that the language of this country is not sufficient to portray what will happen if we enter into another war. Let me quote one or two statements made by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Air himself, and also the hon. and gallant Member for Hallam (Sir F. Sykes) who, of course, speaks from first hand knowledge of this subject. The Prime Minister, speaking in 1927, said: Who in England does not know that with one more war in the west the civilisation of the ages will fall with as great a shock as that of Rome. There is no qualification about that utterance. It is a simple specific statement of fact. When we get the Prime Minister of this country, the head of the Government, the man who is responsible for our world policy of peace, we are entitled to ask that the Government should give us some clear statement, some proof, that they are endeavouring to avert the catastrophe which the Prime Minister so clearly indicated. The Secretary of State for Air in 1925, on a similar occasion as the present, said: With Air Force development as it is, with development in bombs, with developments in range, with developments in chemicals, with developments in liquid gas—if we go on as we are now air warfare in the future may well mean the destruction of civilisation as we know it to-day." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1925, Col. 2210, Vol. 180.] Since he made that statement the Secretary of State has submitted two further Estimates, but on neither occasion has he indicated that the policy of the Government tends to avert the disaster which he also clearly indicates. Let me turn to the statement made by the hon. and gallant Member for Hallam in the Air Estimates Debate in February, 1926. He said: A future war is in my opinion inevitable if armaments continue to be piled up, nation against nation, and, though that war may have small initial beginnings, it is almost bound to spread to world dimensions. ….It will cause unparalleled horror and misery, and probably cause the destruction of the civilised world."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1926, Col. 795, Vol. 192.] Those are three quotations from hon. Members opposite, couched in the same terms, and again I ask the Under-Secretary of State when he replies to tell us specifically if the Government have taken any definite action in the intervening years to avert the disaster which they foretell. In our Amendment we regret that: His Majesty's Government did not advocate bolder proposals for aerial disarmament at the meeting of the Preparatory Commission at Geneva. The Secretary of State, replying to a similar Motion last year, made this statement on behalf of the Government: The Preparatory Commission for Disarmament is meeting in Geneva in a very few days and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is going, I understand, to put very definite proposals of the British Government for disarmament. What were these proposals which the Under-Secretary of State described as "definite proposals for disarmament"? I submit that they are not proposals for disarmament at all. They would not materially assist disarmament. They are merely tentative suggestions which might have led to a limitation of expenditure for a year or two, but would have left the whole organisation of war capable of being expanded whenever the necessity arose. We do not approach the problem of disarmament from the standpoint of a partial limitation of expenditure this year or next. We shall, of course, support on every occasion any proposal for limitation of expenditure, because it directs the attention of the world to the useless waste of wealth and it opens up the way for the larger and more complete consideration of the problem. But the Government, in the White Paper issued by the League of Nations, says: The limitation of air armaments shall be effected by limiting the number of shortbase aircraft service types maintained in commission in first line combatant units, within the limit of each State which is a party to the present Treaty. The number of such aircraft maintained by each of the high contracting parties shall not exceed the figures set out in Table 3. That apparently completes the definite proposals which the Under-Secretary of State said last year would be submitted by the British Government and would lead to disarmament. In submitting this Amendment we wish to state that we think the Government proposals are inadequate and will not accomplish the purpose and do not carry out the pledge that was given last year. I do not wish to advance this subject in a party sense at all, nor do I want my criticism to be taken to represent expert criticism. I do not claim to be an expert on this matter, but I do claim that this subject is not a subject for experts. It is a subject that essentially affects the man and woman in the street; it affects the lives of the people of this country, and Members of Parliament, who are sent here primarily to represent the man in the street, are entitled to demand that their voices shall be supreme over the experts. But if my view and the views of Members of Parliament do not carry any weight with the Government, let me quote one of their own supporters, and a very powerful and influential supporter. I am referring to Viscount Cecil and to a statement made by him in the House of Lords on 17th November. Evidently Viscount Cecil shares the same views as myself and others who support this Amendment. He evidently considers that the Government proposals at Geneva were quite inadequate for the purpose they were intended to serve. In his speech in the House of Lords he said: He went to Geneva conscious that on many points his instructions were likely to cause serious difficulties. Exactly what he anticipated occurred, and he was repeatedly put into a position of having to defend in the League Committee propositions which seemed to him indefensible. It was quite true that in response to urgent telegrams from him he was allowed to make some concessions, but by that time much of the harm had been done. The impression had been produced that the British Government were lukewarm in their desire that the Commission should lead to a successful result. We believe the same. We believe that the Government are not sincere in their proposals for disarmament. I should be sorry, on an occasion like this, to judge the sincerity of any person or group of persons or party, but I do think that in human affairs we must judge the sincerity of people by their deeds, and I do not think that anyone who looks back on the post-War period and considers the approach to universal peace, can be proud of the record of the present Government during its three years of office. Because we believe that we are submitting our Amendment. We state in the Amendment that we believe that the Government should come forward, not with a partial limitation of air forces, but that they should advocate and be prepared to work out the necessary practical scheme. I do not minimise the fact that disarmament throughout the world, with nations in different stages of development, with the economic conflict between different countries, with racial history and tradition and custom and character all different—I do not in any way minimise the importance of the problem. To-night we have paid a good deal of attention to the question of solving the practical, mechanical and scientific problem of the air. We have had learned dissertations on the development of air science in its many directions.

We appeal to the Government to apply some of its energy, in fact the greatest amount of energy of which this country is capable, to the solution of peace instead of the prosecution of war. To that purpose we have embodied in our Amendment not only a request that the Government should propose the abolition of the military side of the Air Force, but we also ask definitely that civil administration should be surrendered in a national sense and should be made an international service. The reason for this is that we feel that the civil development of aviation is of such a character that it is bound to be an auxiliary service for war if it is left under the control of the respective Governments. It does not matter how much we limit war or how much we prepare agreements, provided the war mind knows that there is a civil service capable of expansion and of being directed to military purposes. While that is so the world will never be safe from war. We therefore advance the suggestion that the Government should go to Geneva with definite and practical proposals, establishing civil aviation as an international service.

We think that this is a practical proposal because we have heard again to-night that in the establishment of long air routes the aeroplane abolishes boundaries and frontiers. Even in the development of our own air service to the Dominions we shall have to come to arrangements with other foreign Powers so that our aeroplanes can travel over their territories, and, if necessary, land to put down or pick up passengers. In the same way as the development of transport, the increased mobility of transport in the nineteenth century, abolished county boundaries in our nations, so must the development of civil aviation abolish national frontiers. If we are really earnest in clothing the League of Nations with some real power and authority in the world, I can conceive of no better way in which we can incorporate that power than by beginning to make them responsible for the increasing importance of civil aviation throughout the world. If the League can control that, there will be a very powerful instrument for bringing the different nations that are parties to the agreement into an amity that at present is not possible. I think that the quotations I have read have proved conclusively that if Europe does not end aerial warfare, then aerial warfare will end Europe.

I turn now to the economic consequences of war, and again I wish to particularise with regard to the economic consequences of aerial warfare. None of us who can look back to the period from 1914 to 1918 and to what has happened since can fail to recognise that this age of mechanised warfare has presented a new group of problems to humanity. We saw in 1914 that the very conditions of modern warfare compelled the complete change over of our industrial system; we had to scrap practically the whole of the industrial peace organisation, and the efforts of the whole nation, as of every nation engaged in the War, had to be diverted for the time being from peace industrial organisation to the prosecution of war in the mechanical sense. We also experienced, in the post-War period, the disastrous consequences of such a situation. The economic consequences were not so apparent when we changed over to a war basis. Then we were spending the wealth reserve of the nation. We were pouring out the stored-up wealth of the nation. But when that period passed and we had to change back to peace conditions, we found that a new situation had developed. I wonder if it is fully recognised to-day that revolution is the natural aftermath of modern war. We find that the majority of nations engaged in the Great War have passed through a revolutionary period. We had revolutions in Russia, in Germany, in Austria, in Italy, in Bulgaria and even in this country from time to time we have come near to the throes of revolution. Only the democratic instincts of our nation have prevented such a situation developing in our own country. Hon. Members opposite win elections by accusing us of revolutionary purposes; but I believe this country has a great deal for which to thank the leaders of the trade union movement, the Labour party and the cooperative movement.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

The argument which the hon. Member is now using does not seem to apply specially to aerial war more than to any other form of war.


I submit that what I am saying is intimately connected with my argument that modern war causes reactions in industry which produce certain social consequences. I do not feel that anyone can survey the post-War period and consider the social revolutions which have occurred in other countries, without recognising that these have resulted directly from the War. We are discussing a very wide subject, and I think I can show the connection of this argument with the subject of aerial warfare. I desire to make the point that the situation which I have indicated would be intensified in the event of a future war, because aerial warfare will be more disintegrating in its effects than warfare such as we have experienced in the past. Even in this country we see the disastrous economic consequences of the last War in the unemployment figure which we have had to confront in the last five or six years.

Let us consider another aspect of warfare to-day, namely, the arrest of social progress in the countries which engage in war. A survey of political circumstances in Europe during the 10 years following the War shows an almost universal stoppage of social progress and that in a period when there should have been the greatest social expansion. There has been no period in history when the masses of the people could have legitimately hoped for greater progress and greater expansion in regard to their standard of life; yet we find, as the direct result of the War, an arrest of social development. I mention these matters by way of preliminary, because I desire to quote two or three authorities on aerial warfare. I wish to place their opinions in relation to my previous argument, with the object of showing that should another war occur it will involve the disintegration of society—that aerial warfare will inevitably lead to widespread revolution such as we have not hitherto experienced, and that, indeed, should such a war occur, civilisation may come down in chaos before any military conclusion has been reached. Colonel Fuller, a staff officer who was attached to the Tanks Corps during the War, has expressed the following view: In the next war fleets of fast-moving tanks, equipped with liquid gas, against which the enemy will have no possible protection, will cross frontiers and obliterate every living thing in fields, farms, villages and cities of enemy countries. Meanwhile fleets of aeroplanes will attack great industrial and governing centres.'' Brigadier-General Groves, now head of the Air League of this country, says: The science of aviation, which has already forged a paramount weapon, is still in its infancy. Its ally, chemical science, stands merely on the threshold of its possible application to explosives and poisons. The whole apparatus of aerial warfare is changing constantly in swift and stupendous progress towards perfection. And in the new service regulations we find the following: The aim of a nation which has taken up arms is therefore to bring such pressure to bear upon the enemy people"— not the enemy Air Force or the enemy Military force or the enemy Navy Force but the enemy people— as to induce them to force their Government to sue for peace. I think those quotations give point to my previous arguments. There we see visualised, a war in the air which will definitely disintegrate society. If that possibility is universally acknowledged by Ministers, by experts and by the man in the street, again I ask what are the Government doing to avoid such a situation? Another point is that aerial warfare affronts the higher moral sense of the community. In recent years we have seen a new spirit developing in society. Society is becoming too complex for resort to aerial warfare, or any other form of warfare, as a means of settling international differences. We must apply our minds to the development of international law, recognising that aerial warfare is essentially an attack on the civil population, that it strikes pitilessly at the women and children, that it is wholesale murder of a horrible and brutal kind, that it is cowardly—because you cannot argue that there is any form of chivalry in aerial warfare—and that it is Satanic in its purpose and operation. Is the Minister going to continue, from day to day, advocating the training of the flower of our nation for such purposes? Is he going to advocate that we should arm them with all the opportunities of mechanical science, in order that they may destroy indiscriminately women and children, striking at homes and hospitals with the same indifference as at docks and arsenals? While the Government are giving a great deal of attention to the military arm what do they propose doing in the pursuit of peace?

I repeat that we put forward this Motion, not as a party Motion, but because we feel that the Government have failed in their duty and that we, the Opposition, voice views which we believe to be widespread in the community. It is not a party problem but the common problem of humanity. I find in my own constituency that the desire for peace is not confined to those who have a Socialistic outlook on economics. I find local leaders of Conservative and Liberal thought just as pronounced in their views on this subject. This is essentially a subject which cannot be dealt with merely by statements made in literature or in debate. This is a subject which requires sincerity expressed in deeds, and we believe we are speaking, not only for those who support us, but for the larger volume of political opinion outside, when we say that we look to the Government to apply themselves to this task. If we could only show the same energy as a nation in striving to create world peace as we showed in prosecuting the world War, we should get on much more quickly.

No one can argue that the British people approach this problem in an attitude of fear. Fear has never characterised the history of this country. We are too powerful as a nation, and our responsibilities are too widespread, for any taint of that description to be behind any effort that we may put forward. Therefore, we ask the Government to take the initiative in this matter and to prepare a well-thought-out scheme of complete aerial disarmament. We also ask them to take the larger, broader view of civil aviation, to go to Geneva before it is too late, and again to submit practical proposals for the internationalisation of that service. In conclusion, I will quote a statement made by the Minister of Air at the Imperial Conference in 1926. Speaking to the representatives of the Dominions, he said: With the horrors of the last War in our memories and the limitless terrors of any future war in our minds, let us make the air the highway of peace and the aeroplane the instrument, not for severing nations and destroying civilised life, but for making closer and more constant the unity of imperial thought, Imperial intercourse, and Imperial ideals. We, on these benches, support those sentiments, and we ask the Government to go further, and not only to let the aeroplane and the airship be instruments for peace and the bringing together of the nations composing the British Commonwealth of Nations, but we want that Commonwealth of Nations, representing the British thought, to give as its contribution to world development its initiative, enterprise and energy in developing the structure of international law and agreement.

9.00 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so with great pleasure, because the Amendment indicates that there is a very determined and growing feeling in this country that something of a very drastic nature must be done in order to bring war to an end. While the Minister for Air was giving his speech at the opening of this Debate, one was tempted to be stimulated, inspired, and even enchanted by his descriptions of the various exploits of the Air Service, and one almost forgot that we were dealing with an arm of our defence. That matter was scarcely mentioned during the whole of his speech, yet the fact is that in the spending of the £16,000,000 that we shall be asked to vote to-night, there is more destructive power than in the spending of the other £100,000,000, in round figures, that we are voting this year for the Army and the Navy. The condition is such, not only that this country but the entire world is being forced to face considerations and ideas in regard to disarmament that are new and revolutionary. The people of every country are recognising that the issue of peace and war is the paramount issue of the age. We all have ideas as to the sort of land into which we should like to convert our country. We stand for ideas of social change and industrial reorganisation, but we realise that unless this question of peace and war is settled, nothing that we do or desire will be of any use at all. That is why a number of us on these benches, at any rate, feel that we must devote a considerable portion of our time to this question of the disarmament of the whole world, and the position is such that all our ideas must come into the melting pot. No ideas, however extreme, must be cast out simply because they are extreme.

The hon. Member for East Ham South (Mr. Barnes), who moved the Amendment, has made reference to certain statements of the Prime Minister and other important politicians. Similar remarks with respect to the effect of the next war, if next war there be, in destroying our civilisation have been made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), by Lord Grey, and even by the "Daily Mail." The "Daily Mail," in a leading article on the eve of Armistice Day last year, said: Another great war would spell the suicide of the Western people, the ruin of Europe, and perhaps even the destruction of civilisation. If we are sincere in making statements of this kind, surely there can be only one logical deduction to be made from them, and that is that we must make straight the road to a drastic disarmament. What is the evidence that these eminent politicians can produce to show that they are really sincere? The question of the Air Force looms large on the horizon in regard to militarism. There is only one issue, in my opinion, and that is that, if we are to give up aerial warfare, there is no escape from the conclusion that we must have total disarmament. So long as you have war at all, you must, and you will, according to the ordinary process of development, use that arm of defence which is the most effective, and we all admit that aerial warfare is our most powerful arm and will be used if another war comes about. We all know, too, the sort of psychology that is developed when a war is in progress. It is very soon said that the enemy is too evil to be allowed to live, that the enemy nation is an outlaw nation, that necessity knows no law, that war is killing, and that killing must be done, no matter what means are used. It is impossible that we can determine the sort of war we are going to have, and by reason of the fact that we have the Air Force in our midst to-day, developing such powerful means of taking life, the next war, if next war there be, will be as different from the Great War as the Great War was from the Battle of Waterloo.

Certain statements have been made with respect to air warfare as it will be if we have another war. I will give one or two quotations. One is from a speech made by the Air Chief Marshal, Sir Hugh Trenchard, in 1925. He said: I feel that all the good it (aviation) will do in civil life cannot balance the harm that will be done in war by it, and if I had the casting vote, I would say abolish the Air Force. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Air has said: In the whole of the late War some 300 tons of bombs only were dropped by enemy aircraft upon this country. Air Forces to-day could drop almost the same weight in the first 24 hours of war, and continue this scale of attack indefinitely. Group Captain H. F. M. Foster, the British Air Representative at the Disarmament Conference of the League of Nations, said: I do not think any airman nowadays in high position would guarantee that under favourable weather conditions to the enemy, immunity could be insured against a great city being flooded with gas, set alight with incendiary shells, and bombed with high explosives. It is not my intention to give any bloodcurdling description of what air warfare will be, but we have to remember that there would be four kinds of bombs which could bring destruction beyond imagination. There are the smoke bomb, the incendiary bomb, the high explosive and the poison-gas bomb. With these bombs, a very small number of men could be engaged in order to destroy an entire city. In these circumstances, we really have to consider the practicability of a policy of total disarmament, because that is what is really involved in the abolition of the Air Force. Nobody will tolerate the abolition of the Air Force unless they are prepared to sweep away armaments entirely.

We are in the condition now that total disarmament is the only practical policy before the nations of the world, and the fact that a first-class Power, Russia, has come before the nations with proposals for total disarmament is a very important event in the history of this subject. It is the case, I know, that as soon as Russia is mentioned in this connection, there is derision from the benches opposite. A few months ago I spent some weeks in that country, and I know that Russia is perfectly sincere in putting forward these proposals. She knows the perils of war more than any other country. Up to 1921 Russia had something like 6,000,000 men in the field. The whole country was being overrun and devastated by her own forces and those of her enemies, so she knows what war is. During the last five or six years she has achieved tremendous economic development, with the result that to-day she has behind her an enthusiasm for her regime which will give her as fine a fighting force as any the world possesses. For example, Russia is realising that other nations are concentrating upon their Air Forces, and I saw last August and September that they were doing exactly the same thing. After our relations with Russia were broken off, appeals were made to the country for contributions in order to develop an Air Force, and the young men members of the trade unions gave their spare time, and technicians put materials at the country's disposal for the building of air fleets.

Russia is in this position: She says, "If war is to be the order of the day with the nations of Europe and the rest of the world, we will take them upon their own ground." The Russian Government are no more inclined to pacifism than the Government of this country; they are not pacifists in the sense that I am. They are realists, and they simply state, "If you say that war is to be the order of the day and that we have to have fleets of aeroplanes and other implements of war, then we are prepared to meet you on your own ground, but if you are willing that all armaments shall be scrapped, then we are prepared to face the future upon that basis." That is an absolutely common sense position, and as a result of what Russia has done for the present generation, and especially for young Russia, she will be able to put as fine an army in the field as any country on the face of the earth.


The hon. Gentleman is going a little wide of the Amendment.


I have trespassed in that direction because I maintain that this Amendment does carry with it total disarmament, and that I should be open to attack if I asked for abolition of the Air Force and were to leave the other Forces in being, as if we could have war according to toy rules on the basis of the battle of Hastings, or something of that kind. This Amendment carries with it total disarmament, and it is because I feel that it is better to realise its logical consequences that I have dealt with this wider question. Upon the general question, where we are dealing with the abolition of the Air Force itself, or with the abolition of all armaments whatever, we are faced with the question, "Is it practicable?" I am prepared to face that issue. We desire to destroy the effective means of carrying on war, and we have to face the question. "Is that a practicable proposition at the present time?" I maintain that it is, and we have only to realise the change of opinion that has taken place in this country and other countries during the last few years, to know that that is the case.

After all, what does practicability in this connection really mean? It means the recognition by the conscience of the world of the fact that the old method has to pass away and that a new method has to come in. If mankind generally were of that opinion, and were ready for a new regime, there would be the ground upon which we could make a complete change in our methods of outlook in regard to this question. There is another question that concerns the practicability of this issue and it is this, Have we the machinery for carrying out our international life upon a peace basis? Although that machinery is not perfect at the present moment, it is sufficiently perfect to be put into operation and be made perfect as soon as it has adequate jobs to do. The reason why we do not make the League of Nations adequate to the needs of the times is that we do not trust it with the job it ought to be given, and what keeps us away is our belief in militarism. Once we give that up and make up our minds that we are going to take the straight road to peace and adopt the policy of intensive disarmament, the question of the machinery will very soon be solved.

With the indulgence of the House, I would like to give some idea of the change that has taken place in our own public opinion and in world public opinion on this issue. I want the Government to realise that they are playing with a very dangerous situation in allowing armaments to be piled up year after year when all the time a public opinion is developing which will be adverse to the Government if a war situation arises in the future. A few quotations will show the change which has taken place in very important quarters. I will quote in the first place one or two extracts from statements by war correspondents and litterateurs. For instance, there is a writer with the popularity of H. G. Wells recommending the youth of this country to take up a position of personal resistance to war. He said quite recently, I think in the "Sunday Express": The most effective resistance to the approach of another great war lies in the expressed determination of as many people as possible that they will have nothing to do with it, that they will not fight in it, work for it, nor pay taxes when it comes, whatever sort of war it may be. Then there is the war correspondent, H. M. Tomlinson, who, writing in "Harper's Magazine" recently—last November or December, said: Whoever may be the enemy, whatever may be the reason for a war, good citizens can have no part in it. I for one will not serve, will not help, will not pay, and am prepared to take the consequences. Another, H. G. Nevinson, also writing recently, said: All who take the oath of resistance must expect the treatment of other martyrs, but for myself I see no other way to peace but this concentration in the form of a general strike against the warmongers. The editor of the paper "John Bull," which has a tremendous circulation, in a leading article just before last Armistice Day, said: The three words 'I will not' can make all war impossible from to-day on. We shall never abolish war until the peoples of all nations say flatly and finally to all those who have it in their power to provoke war, 'We will not fight.' The Minister for Air mentioned Cambridge. It may be interesting to note the changes that are taking place in our Universities. I will take Cambridge as an illustration.


On a point of Order, would it not be better for the hon. Member to get back to the Air Force and give us Signor Mussolini's views upon it?


I think it is essential that the House should know what the country is thinking on this subject, and I do not think it has ever had the opportunity. As in our Parliamentary discussions we take the Votes for the Air Force, the Army and the Navy separately, it is difficult to deal with this subject as a general question, but I think we are entitled to do so on this Vote, for the reason that the Motion does imply total disarmament. In the Cambridge Union, on 8th March last year, they carried a motion by 213 votes to 138: That lasting peace can only be secured by the people of England adopting an uncompromising attitude of pacifism. That motion was spoken to by the hon. Member for the Brightside Division (Mr. Ponsonby), and the retiring president stated in the course of the debate: He would demobolise the Army in three years, scrap the new cruiser programme, and sink the two new battleships just built in the North Sea. Last November, also, the Cambridge Union carried a Motion by 277 votes to 143 expressing regret that the Government did not pursue a more farsighted and imaginative policy in its attempt to further the peace of the world. I think that on that occasion, the present Minister for Air spoke against the Motion, but the vote was two to one for it, which shows what happens when even a Minister of the Government has to rely upon arguments and not upon party whips.

May I also make a few references to the changes in thought upon this question inside the Church? Take the case of a man like Shepherd, who has spoken to millions of people in this country over the wireless. He wrote a book recently called "The impatience of a parson" in which he proposed this resolution: That the Anglican Union denies that the brotherhood of all men, irrespective of their class or nationality or race, requires men to slay their brother men; it is pledged to outlaw all war and to demand from its members that they should refuse to kill their brethren. At its last Conference the Congregational Union found within it 100 ministers who were prepared to take a pledge against war and to work against war until war was abolished. The "Manchester Guardian" correspondent, describing this event, said: Perhaps in years to come this Conference will be remembered chiefly because of the solemn service at which, this afternoon, 100 or more of our ministers publicly and solemnly covenanted with each other before God to have no part in and give no sanction to war. The pledge allowed no compromise, and to those who take it there is no longer any distinction in wars. Righteous or unrighteous, offensive or defensive, all war is sin. In the Hartley Primitive Methodist College at Manchester recently 50 students asked to be enrolled in the Primitive Methodist Crusade against war. Before very long those young men will be occupying the pulpits in this country, and when a young man takes hold of an idea like this, which he feels to be of paramount importance, one can well believe that he will be preaching the idea constantly in his pulpit. The Primitive Methodist denomination, at its annual meeting last year, passed a resolution: That all war is a violation of the spirit and principles of Christ, and therefore should never be countenanced by the Church. A similar resolution was passed by the Congregational Union—whether the Union for all Wales or for the greater part of Wales I am not certain. It is by virtue of these changes in the thought of the country that we were able to have such results as came from the peace letter organised by the hon. Member for the Brightside Division. It will be in the memory of the House that not long ago a petition was presented to this House signed by something like 130,000 people in this country saying: We, the undersigned, convinced that all disputes between nations are capable of settlement either by diplomatic negotiation or by some form of international arbitration, hereby solemnly declare that we shall refuse to support or, in the war, do service for, any Government which resorts to arms. Before I sit down I would like to say one or two words about similar changes in other countries. Herr Paul Löbe, President of the German Reichstag, stated on 11th October: The day will come when the youth of all countries will refuse all war service. If hon. Members of this House were asked who was probably the outstanding character in the literature of Europe to-day, they would probably say it was Romain Rolland. This writer is now definitely devoting himself to the abolition of war, and he is concentrating on appealing to the young people of the world to make up their minds that they personally will have nothing more to do with war. With that movement he is sweeping right across the world at the present moment. This is what he said recently: A War Resistance International has been founded. It comprises 20 States. It has a non-political character. It keeps outside party politics, as it condemns the violence used by parties. It is based on respect for human life. Its fundamental principle, which no honest man can refute, is expressed in the following declaration: 'War is a crime against humanity. We are therefore determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all the causes of war.' As a result of this kind of declaration by men of such eminence as I have described, letters, similar to that which I have already mentioned as having been signed so heavily in this county, are at the present time being signed in America, Holland, France and Germany, and in one or two other countries. In Germany a concentration was made in a certain area in Saxony recently and, after a few weeks of propaganda, 90,000 signatures were secured to this letter. More recently a special propaganda was made in the West of Germany and up to date they have received about 140,000 signatures for the same letter. There have been, during quite recent times, important modifications made in the programmes of the various countries of the world as a result of the very powerful peace agitation going on in these various countries. In Germany quite recently they have turned down a new naval programme——


The hon. Member must really not refer to naval and military programmes.


I will abide by your ruling, and I will put it all in one sentence by saying that I was going to give half a dozen instances where tremendous modifications of naval or military programmes had been made in one way or another, modifications which gave some indication of the change in mentality that has taken place throughout the whole world. That being the case, it only remains for me to say that in my opinion what is required to-day is to realise that we are waiting for a nation that has the courage to follow the logic of that which has been preached in one way or another even by such Governments as the one in office to-day. In this country we all profess to believe in peace and to be opposed to war of every kind. Yet, in spite of this growing public opinion, which is a world public opinion, we are afraid to trust each other. The Prime Minister said, in reply to the petition brought to the House by the hon. Member for Brightside, that he thought that would mean the bringing down of this country. In my opinion, the Prime Minister was leaving entirely out of account the moral factor. If we could take the initiative in such a step as is indicated by the Amendment before the House, I believe it would increase our position morally throughout the world. No nation on the fare of the earth would ever dream of attacking us in any shape or form. What is there to fear? We say we have to look after our Empire, but if we accepted by international agreement either the abolition of our Air Force or of our armaments, we should be in the same position as every other country. We know that in regard to India we are afraid of Russia, but if Russia disarmed as we disarmed, and as I believe she would, then we should be on the same footing as any other nation, and, according to our willingness to co-operate and assist, our prosperity would be secured.

Humanity has abolished boundaries, or at least armed boundaries in very large areas. The armed boundary between Canada and the United States has been abolished and also the boundaries between the Argentine and Chile and between Norway and Sweden, while, as far as the self-governing parts of the Empire are concerned, there are no armed frontiers. If we would give the same kind of trust and freedom in India and Egypt and every other part of our Empire, and adopt the same policy of cooperation and willingness to consider mutual interests, we should have no need whatever to fear any disturbances there. The great need of the present day is the manifestation of moral courage. The whole world is waiting for that manifestation, and the country that is prepared to take the initiative in giving the lead in the direction of drastic disarmament and of air disarmament, which means, as I have said, total disarmament, would have the backing of every nation on the earth or, if not of their Governments, at least of their peoples. Sooner or later the Governments will have to realise the change that is taking place in the mentality of the people, and when they do they will take the bold step. Our country is capable of taking that step and, as soon as our young men and women realise that, it is more courageous to put down the rifle than to take it up, as soon as they realise that, the world is waiting for that courageous nation, I believe our country will be ready to take that courageous step. We have done big things in the past. We shall never be renowned any more for military achievement, nor will any other nation. The only way to win renown in the future is to go in the opposite direction, and to trust the forces, which have been developed in the last 20 years in particular, namely, the moral forces, and to trust the processes which are dependent on those moral forces and which carry with them trust in humanity at large from one end of the world to the other. The country which is prepared to show that trust will be, in my view, the future leader of civilisation.


We have just listened to some very eloquent and sincere addresses from members of the Socialist party with respect to the horrors of war, and why, in their opinion, this nation should take the lead in disarmament and particularly in aerial disarmament. If the House will allow me, I would like to bring hon. Members back from the rarified atmosphere of idealism to the ordinary atmosphere of plain facts and common-sense. The addresses which we have heard tonight should not have been addressed to this House at all. I imagine that there is no hon. Member who has not as great a horror of war as any hon. Member sitting on the Labour Benches. The speeches we have heard from hon. Members above the Gangway should have been addressed to the other nations of the world. Their speeches have been exceedingly good propaganda, but not for the British House of Commons. Why do not hon. Members above the Gangway face the facts? They must understand that the millennium has not yet arrived, and that we are human beings with all the faults and failings common to human beings.

Surely Members of the House of Commons should have enough commonsense to be able to face the facts of the case and speak accordingly. There is no one in this House who wants war. Hon. Members have quoted from speeches delivered by people of authority pointing out that the horrors of future aerial warfare are appalling. Unfortunately my view is that the people of this country are not yet fully aware of what those horrors may be. Only a few weeks ago I had occasion to look into the Royal Army Medical Corps book to see some of the methods which are to be used as antidotes against the different kinds of gas which may be used in aerial warfare, and they are absolutely appalling. I am sure that no one in this country wishes for war in any shape or form. Hon. Members tell us to disarm, and they say that if this country makes a gesture and leads the way other nations will follow. What has been done up to the present? Has any other nation in the world proceeded as far as we have in the way of disarmament? We send representatives to the naval disarmament conference——


The hon. Member must not discuss naval disarmament on this Amendment.


We have made definite proposals for disarmament which have not been accepted by other civilised nations. Is it the wish of hon. Members above the Gangway that we should leave ourselves absolutely defenceless and trust to Providence? Is that their view? Surely they have heard that adequate defence is the strongest inducement for peace. Take, for example, ordinary civil life. Hon. Members say that they would not fight or take up arms in protection of their own country. Does that mean that they would not take up arms to defend their own kith and kin or their own wives and families, and that they would be Pacifists and stand idly by? Will they put that theory into practice? We have a number of men known as burglars who prey on society. I wonder how many hon. Members above the Gangway, when they go to bed, leave open their windows and the front door and put their trust in those men? Never mind humanity as a whole; consider first the humanity of your own country. If hon. Members are so fond of peace as they profess to be, then why not leave their doors unlocked and trust to the honour and honesty of everybody. How many hon. Members would do that?

The Labour party have supported very strongly the settlement put forward by the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment; they are strong advocates of peace and disarmament and they urge this wicked Government to adopt aerial disarmament. What about the trade unions? Are not trade unions organised bodies of men to defend their own interest? Will hon. Members now suggest the disbandment of trade unions because in future they are going to trust to the honesty of the masters? Not a bit of it. And yet in an ordinary civil dispute where there is no danger to life or limb they will not run the risk of dealing with a question like that. They organise the workmen to defend themselves, and yet they have the effrontery to ask the Government to do away with all aerial armaments, scrap military aeroplanes, trust to the good will of other nations, and the possibility that they will follow suit. What would happen if we adopt a policy like that? We should be defenceless and we should be wiped out of existence in a night. That would be a deliberate inducement to some other nation to come here and conquer this country with all its wealth and possessions.

Some hon. Members think the view I am expressing is a ridiculous and a stupid idea, but I ask them: Are they going to disband the trade unions and trust to the honesty of the masters? What is being put forward from the Labour Benches is merely a matter of theory and idealism and a question of propaganda. I really cannot make up my mind whether the sentiments expressed by hon. Members above the Gangway are the sentiments of Machiavellian subtlety or childlike innocence. I am inclined to think they are the former.

Having myself a horror of a future war, I ask them in all sincerity to face the facts. I ask them to remember that when they speak here their speeches are reported, and they may create a wrong impression. Those who read those speeches may be inclined to think that the Labour party is the only party which believes in peace, and that the Conservative party, and perhaps the Liberal party, are deadly opposed to peace, and are in favour of piling up armaments for death and destruction. We have been told in this Debate that Russia is willing to disarm, and that she expressed that view at the Peace Conference, but unfortunately no one believes that view, and the opinion throughout the world is that Russia does not mean it. Hon. Members above the Gangway should think of this country. They should think of their own people and recognise that the best way to prevent war is to be adequately prepared for war. When the millennium comes, and all the nations of the world have proclaimed their horror of war, that will be the time for hon. Members above the Gangway to make such speeches as they have delivered to-night.


The second part of the argument used by the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) was the argument used previous to 1914, namely, that the best way to preserve the peace of the world was to be highly prepared in armaments.


Adequately prepared.


That argument was used by Germany in precisely the same way in which the hon. Member used it. One conclusion upon which all hon. Members will be agreed is that, by pursuing a policy of maximum armaments, we are not pursuing a policy of peace. I think it is important to distinguish between, on the one hand, a trade union and the methods which it uses for settling disputes, and, on the other hand, the methods which are open to a Government. There is only one institution in society that has the right to settle a dispute by the method of arms and that is a Government. We are not saying that there should be no quarrels between nations; we are only arguing that it would be better if those quarrels were settled less often by warfare than has been the case in the past.

We say, in the first place, that we are not satisfied with the contribution of His Majesty's Government, through the League of Nations, towards aerial disarmament, and we want to put forward an alternative policy. I understand that the air policy of the Government is based upon the Declaration of 1923. If I am wrong in that, I shall be glad to be corrected. The statement was made, at the Imperial Conference in 1923, that the policy of the British Government, so far as the Air Forces were concerned, was based upon the necessity for the maintenance by Great Britain of a Home Defence Force of sufficient strength to give adequate protection against air attack by the strongest Air Forces within striking distance of her shores. I take it that the Government are still pursuing that policy. I assume that, following that statement, we shall seek to make our Air Force at least as strong numerically as that of France, and it is from that point of view that we want to criticise the air policy of His Majesty's Government to-night.

Judging from the figures given by the Secretary of State this afternoon, we have something like 900 machines at the present time, whereas France had, at the end of 1926, something like 1,350. I assume, therefore, that it is the intention of the present Government steadily to expand the British Air Service year after year. The right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon that he contemplates a definite further advance in pursuance of the 1923 policy. I can quite understand why the right hon. Gentleman is so very proud, and, as I think, rightly proud, of what has been achieved since that policy was inaugurated. I remember that a very distinguished British publicist, speaking in America a few weeks ago, said that the British nation was only separated by five minutes from invasion. While that may be, perhaps, a slight exaggeration, it is clear, on the basis of our present achievement, that this City of London is only separated by minutes from possible destruction, and, therefore, if we once concede that the only way to protect this nation against that invasion is by building up an Air Service to meet it, I can understand the foundations of the policy of 1923, the description of that policy as a defence policy, and the statement that the Air Service has been inaugurated and developed in order to defend this country against an invasion which, at any time, is only a few minutes' distance from our shores.

From my reading of the reports of the Air Force demonstrations last year, I gather that certain attempts were made to try out the effectiveness of the air machine for defensive purposes, for preventing this disaster which is only a few minutes away from us, and which, according to quotations that have been given to-night, might quite easily be successful in destroying the whole population of the City of London during a single invasion. I should like to ask the Secretary of State if he will tell us to what extent we can rely upon the British Air Service as a defensive instrument—to what extent it is true to say that we have in our hands, after this unparalleled development since 1923, an instrument which we can be assured will really be effective in defence against an aggressive air force. According to the best judgment of the men who watched these operations last July, there is no one who is prepared to say that we are reasonably immune from air attack from the Continent, and I should like very much to hear through the Under-Secretary, when he comes to reply, what is the considered judgment of the Secretary of State as to the extent to which he can assure the British nation that the whole of this development in air defence has produced an instrument which is effective.

It seems to us on this side of the House that the mere fact that we are concentrating in the way that we are upon the defence of London against air attack is the supreme proof that the only way to defend one's country is to attack the enemy's country. The mere fact of concentrating on London in this way, and assuming that we shall be visited by hostile aircraft, is the clearest possible proof that the major service of aircraft is always that of attack, and I should be grateful for some clear indication as to the position of the British Air Service in 1928 from that point of view. I can understand that, so long as we believe that we are exposed as a nation to that kind of danger, and that there is no alternative except to build up aeroplane for aeroplane in order to defend ourselves, there is nothing to be done in the name of security or of peace except to accept the 1923 policy of having as large an Air Service as the largest that can be found within striking distance of these shores. It is because we believe that there is some alternative way to peace and security that we are raising this matter for discussion to-night.

We give it as our view, and an immense amount of expert testimony has been quoted to-night to the same effect, that an Air Service cannot guarantee this nation from invasion, that it is really a poor instrument to set up as an alternative to an invading Air Service; and it was from that point of view that we watched with such interest the negotiations at Geneva last year for the regulation of Air Services. I understand that the net result of those discussions, so far as the experts are concerned, is that it is possible to inaugurate an international method of regulation, and that it would be practicable to limit, in respect of both numbers and horse-power, the military Air Services used by the various Governments of the world. That, at all events, does bring an international scheme within the realm of possibility, and, if there were the necessary will behind the Governments of the world, there is nothing to prevent that scheme from being brought into operation.

The real difficulty that has emerged at Geneva, and it is a difficulty with which the British Government have to deal, is that you cannot work out a satisfactory international scheme for regulating military aircraft if you do not at the same time take account of civilian aircraft. From that point of view, there is a very important suggestion, arising from the work of the Commission last year, to which I would like to draw attention. The International Preparatory Commission at Geneva said very definitely that, while they were in favour of international regulation of military aircraft, they were not in favour of any attempt at international regulation of civilian aircraft, on the grounds that it was not practicable and that it would involve a restraint of civilian development where restraint was a disadvantage to the progress of the world. But, on the other hand, they were agreed that this does not prevent some attempt being made to separate civil from military aviation and to take the greatest possible care that the two branches of development are not confused, and not blended with one another.

From that point of view; I should like to draw attention to the situation which arose in 1919. An attempt was then made to separate military from civil aviation. In the disarmament of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria in 1919 the Allied experts went so far as to carry out the policy of total disarmament so far as aviation was concerned in a military sense. There four States were subjected to the complete abolition of their military Air Services, and it was understood in those days that other nations would follow the example which those nations provided. In practice, however, it has been found that, although Germany has no military air service, to-day she is potentially a very formidable power in the air, because of her highly-developed civilian air craft, and not the least difficulties which have been encountered in discussing general disarmament have arisen from that situation.

I should like to ask the Minister, arising from this practical situation, whether he is clearly differentiating the two services for which he is responsible, between military aircraft on the one hand and civilian on the other, and whether, from that point of view, he does not think there is a strong case for working out the whole idea of control from the international side. The position we are advancing is based upon the special consideration of aircraft. We see perfectly clearly that, if we are to get the best use out of civilian aircraft from a technical point of view, international control and regulation is indispensable. The air service differs from the land service and from the naval service in that it must of necessity pass over all the countries in the world, and, from the technical point of view, in a service which is in its infancy there is everything to be said for deliberate international regulations from the very beginning. The Air Minister referred, for example, to the difficulties he had had with Persia in trying to work out a system of international air development. Perhaps the reason for that difficulty was that the air service is of so national a character, and still subject to such important military qualifications, that that particular nation hesitated on those very grounds. If we had an international air service, I am sure the objection raised by the Persian Government would largely fall to the ground.

10.0 p.m.

We therefore put forward the point of view that it would be a far better investment for security and peace if we had, in place of national military air services, international regulation and control, but we are driven back to the position that we can never hope to get control of military air services unless we include the wider conception of the regulation of the whole of the air services. It would be quite possible for Germany to convert the whole of her civilian aircraft, or a large part of it, into military aircraft within an hour or two. Indeed I was told in Germany last summer that they are in the habit of dropping parcels for postal delivery and going through exercises of that kind which may be easily substituted by putting a bomb in place of a parcel, and it is because of this very intimate connection between aircraft for civilian and for military purposes that we feel the two services must be taken together in any serious consideration of how to regulate these new fighting services of the world. Therefore, we should like to see the Government advocate a wider system of international regulation, not only for the military but for the civilian side of aircraft, as a condition of bringing about security among the nations. We hold the view very strongly that there is no road to security merely through developing national military air services. We hold that that line leads more or less inevitably to the situation of war. We see ourselves engaged in a competition year after year with the French Government, and quite conceivably with other Governments on the Continent, for building up more and more powerful military air services. We should like, therefore, to suggest to the Government the alternative of international regulation of a service which, by its technical nature, is international and which shall bring us within sight of putting our thought and energy into a development calculated to be of benefit to civilisation instead of being, as we are at present, always in fear and uncertainty, like Sir Hugh Trenchard himself, that we do not know whether this thing we are doing is going to be good or bad for civilisation. We therefore press very strongly that the whole principle and method of international regulation for civilian and military purposes should be explored as an alternative to the 1923 policy of national control and national sovereignty in this very important service.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Philip Sassoon)

Hon. Members who bring forward motions in favour of diarmament can always be certain of getting a sympathetic hearing in this House even from those who do not quite agree with them. If, so far as the Air Service is concerned, we have not yet made any great progress towards an agreement with the great Powers, it is certainly not the fault of this country—very far from it. We have set a striking example in the opposite direction, with very little result so far as other countries are concerned. This is a matter in which facts speak more plainly than words, and I should like to examine our record in this respect since the Armistice. When hostilities ceased, we had 200 service squadrons with 3,300 first-line aircraft in those squadrons. To-day, we have 69 service squadrons with under 800 first-line aircraft in them. So much for material. The figures for personnel tell the same story, but with even greater emphasis. In November, 1918, we had 30,122 officers and 263,400 men. To-day our total personnel, men and officers, barely exceeds the figure of officers alone in 1918. No other nation in the world can produce figures for Air Force reductions since the Armistice that can compare with those. We have not only shown the way, but we have gone steadily on our way whether others followed us or not. So much so, that not only this House but also the nation, a few years ago came to the conclusion that we had gone further than was consistent with our national security, and a modest scheme of expansion was adopted. Even so, we have barely more than a half-power standard compared with our nearest neighbour. In the hope that our example might be followed, we put such bounds to our scheme of expansion that we have to-day the most modest air programme of any other first-class Power. Even Russia—according to the Hon. Member fors Stourbridge (Mr. Wellock)—lends point and emphasis to her desire for total and absolute disamament by maintaining a formidable programme of military air development.

The matter can be put in yet another way. If you take 1925 as the basic year and compare the course of air expenditure in France, Italy and the United States during the three succeeding years, you get the following significant result. As compared with 1925, British air expenditure in 1926 was lower by 2 per cent.; in 1927 it was lower than the figure of 1925 by 6. per cent., and in 1928, for which these Estimates provide, our expenditure will be lower by 10 per cent. than in the basic year 1925. The figures of France show a reduction of 10 per cent. in 1926, but an increase of 27 per cent. over the basic year in 1927, and an increase of 45 per cent. in 1928.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is that the Army and Navy together?


No, that only deals with revealed air expenditure. Italian air expenditure for 1926 was no less than 56 per cent. greater than that for 1925, and has been kept at the same figure in 1927, and again in 1928. In the United States the increases during the past three years over the year 1925 have been 8 per cent., 16 per cent. and 33 per cent. respectively. So that whoever is leading in this competition, if competition it be, for air armaments, it is certainly not this country. We have shown steady reductions in air expenditure, while all other countries have shown steady increases. I do not pretend that mere numbers count for everything. We should, indeed, be in a bad way if they did. We have sufficient confidence in the quality of our personnel and machines to believe that the actual disparity is, perhaps, far less than the figures would indicate, but the figures are proof enough that we have a clear conscience in this matter of air disarmament. No other country is more exposed than we are to air attack. That is an accident of geography which cannot be cured, but it will be folly seeing how exposed we are in that respect to allow——


May I ask what the hon. Gentleman means by that? In what way are we more exposed than other nations?


Geographically we are more exposed. We are an island, and our capital is very near the coast, nearer to the coast than the capital of almost any foreign nation. I think that is rather obvious. Therefore, in those circumstances it would be folly to let our zeal for international peace, or our desire to be relieved of the burden of taxation, outrun discretion, and to leave this great country with its crowded centres of population open to air attack. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton) in his speech this afternoon addressed a question to my right hon. Friend. He said, "Do you expect a long period of peace, and if you do, why are you adding four squadrons to your Estimates?" We certainly would not be expecting a long period of peace if we felt that we were unable to defend ourselves if we were attacked. Last week hon. Members were invited to contemplate the spectacle of a man being bayoneted on the Floor of this House or of women and children being bombed within convenient view of the Terrace. All that was lacking to complete the argument were the victims. It is to be hoped that the victims always will be lacking, but, in the present state of man's development, the abolition of our Air Forces would be the surest and most certain method of converting the right hon. Gentleman's rhetorical visions into terrible realities.

The disarmament question is one which applies equally to all nations. It is not a question simply of what we are prepared to do, or what Russia offers to do. All nations must act together before talk about disarmament can crystallise into anything which will bring nearer the peace of the world. We may doubt, and many certainly do doubt, the sincerity of Russia in this offer. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why do you not give it a chance?"] Supposing all doubts about the good faith of the Russians were removed, even then it would not be possible for us to accept the offer unless all other great Powers were prepared to do the same.


May I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the best way of fighting out these proposals is by discussion, and by meeting them in conference?


There is sufficient discussion going on about disarmament; I do not think that that is bothering us. The hon. Member queried why anybody should doubt Russia. Is it our fault, if those who are more within reach of Russia and who are nearer to Russia than are we in this country, or even than India is, pay more attention to the record of blood in Russia in the past 10 years, to the methods they have adopted in suppressing political opposition and denying freedom of speech, than to the recent invitation on the part of Russia to complete and universal disarmament? The British Empire, exposed as it then would be in every part of the world to the envy and greed of the unscrupulous, is asked to accept this glorious and noble gesture by being the first to strip itself of its defences. Surely it would be more reasonable to suggest that Russia, that vast country whose very size has always been its greatest protection, should be the one to take the first step in deeds, and not only in words, and reassure the nations who live under her shadow.

The Amendment calls attention to the need for international agreement. That is the first essential that would be necessary before any single nation, least of all the British Empire, with its vast world-wide responsibilities, could safely reduce its armaments below the minimum level necessary for its own defence. It was in that spirit that our representative at the Preparatory Commission approached the question of Air armaments. The measure of agreement reached there may not, perhaps, carry matters very far, but an essential step was taken by agreeing upon the method by which Air armaments can be measured and limited. The restriction of the numbers and horse power of military machines, and of the number of total effectives employed in Air Forces is, it has been provisionally agreed by the Preparatory Commission, a method by which this might be achieved.

We can fairly claim that such an agreement as to methods was achieved very largely owing to British initiative. We showed our sincerity in taking to Geneva a simple formula and one which we hoped would be easily transmuted into deeds and not lost in a wilderness of words. While considering that formula with other powers and continuing to press for something simple rather than something complicated, we did not take up an attitude of undue rigidity, but by concessions we secured a degree of provisional agreement that has not so far been forthcoming in the case of land or sea armaments. The more difficult task will, no doubt, come when the numbers to be allotted to each nation have to be decided. On that question I would remind hon. Members that when this House decided upon the modest programme of expansion to which I have referred, it did so because it was advised and it believed that our then existing air forces were less than consistent with our national safety. This was the view which was taken by three successive Governments. It is reasonable, therefore, to point out that we are dealing with a Service which is substantially below the minimum which was approved of in the past. It is not as if circumstances have changed for the better since our programme was adopted; they have changed, but in a direction which has increased our needs rather than diminished them.

The whole question of air disarmament bristles with difficulties. The Mover of the Amendment suggested that perhaps some of these difficulties might be removed if the whole of civil aviation was put under a Board of International Control. One may well doubt whether such a measure would ever be of practical utility and, frankly, such a solution in the present state of international relations is impossible of attainment. The question at Geneva turned on the possibility of dissociating military and civil aviation completely, and the whole trend of opinion was unfavourable to any scheme of control of the latter. Even if we were willing to accept international control, no other nation in Europe or in the world would look at it. It is just as practical to suggest that all the shipping lines and the railways in the world should be under international control, on the ground that ships and railways are used for the transport of troops in time of war. You cannot set the clock back and abolish flying altogether. Even if it were possible, it would not be desirable. The existence of civil aviation carries with it the necessity for military air armaments of a certain type. The day may come when the ordinary civil passenger-carrying machine may be as helpless against a military air fighter as the liner would be against a battleship.

Even to-day I believe that civil aircraft in war would play a very limited role. But abolish military aviation altogether and civil aviation would be supreme and the nation with a numerous fleet of civil aircraft might be able to dominate its weaker neighbours. That is not an argument for swollen armaments, because a very few military machines will be able to defeat a vastly superior number of civilian aircraft, but as long as civil aviation exists—and it can confer an immense boon on the world, especially upon the British Empire, with its vast stretches of territory in which very often other means of communication are lacking—so long will military air armaments be necessary. I should be the last person to suggest that civilian aviation is the only kind of aviation which confers benefits on the world. I like to think military aircraft and the Royal Air Force have accomplished much during the last two years, and are still doing fine constructive work for the benefit of humanity. In Iraq and the Straits Settlements the mapping, which was very bad, is being carried out by the Air Force—who have undertaken photographic surveys—and it was the personnel of the Air Force flying between Bagdad and Cairo who paved the way for the service which Imperial Airways are now successfully operating. Flights from Cairo to the Cape, which are now a matter of annual routine, and from Cairo to Nigeria will, I am sure, be the precursors of regular civil services in the future. So long as armed force is the arbitrament between men we cannot surrender the method of preventing savage warfare, which of all methods has been proved to be the least costly in lives and money.

I have referred to the work of the Air Force in the desert. During the last few weeks it has been engaged in Iraq in the difficult task of repelling the raids of Wahabis, who crossed the frontier and were engaged in the wanton pillage and massacre of innocent men, women and children. Iraq has an open desert frontier of 1,000 miles and no other arm but the Air Force can operate in these wild barren stretches of country, so far from their base or from a railway. It is indeed fortunate that they have been there at this juncture. These happenings in Southern Iraq demonstrate the impossibility and undesirability of schemes for complete and absolute disarmament, which some hon. Members urge in the imperfect world in which we live. I shudder to think, and anyone with the instincts of humanity would do the same, of the orgy of rapine and pillage which would have gone on amongst the unfortunate tribes in this territory but for the protection afforded them by the Air Force and the deterrent and punitive action it has been able to take against the marauders.

I do not wish, however, to appear in any way unsympathetic to the aspirations of hon. Members opposite for a better and more peaceful world. We are not obstructionists, but we face the facts and try to take this imperfect world as we find it, without despairing of rendering it better. In this matter of disarmament it is no good looking for quick and dramatic results. No good results will come, I am sure, from dramatic gestures, whether they he sincere or insincere. It is only by long and patient negotiations and by the gradual building up of a better and more united sense of public opinion in the great nations of the world, that real results may be hoped for. They will be slow in coming. Little as we can accept the Amendment in its present form, we can join with hon. Members opposite, who are supporters of the Amendment, in hoping that one day they will come.


The Under-Secretary of State began his argument by telling the House that we had reduced Air armaments while every other country had been increasing them, and in order to support this statement he gave us the actual figures, and explained that whereas the number of our squadrons had been 300 in 1918, it had been reduced to 69 in the Estimates which are before us now. That appears to me to be the queerest method of making a calculation that I have yet seen in this House. 1918, the year which the Under-Secretary takes as the basis, is the year of the maximum expansion, due to the outbreak of War. In 1918 those 300 squadrons represented the Air Force that we had built up in expectation of a continuance of the War, the Air Force which we had built up in anticipation of an attack on Berlin; and the fact that the Under-Secretary of State now comes forward and explains how peaceful the Government is because it does not maintain to-day an Air Force which was built up for an attack on Berlin, shows us how very modest are the requirements, in the way of disarmament, which satisfy the Conservative party.

If we wish to appraise what the progress of disarmament can be in the air, it is far better to take the figures since the peace establishment was laid down. Our peace establishment was carefully laid down on a permanent basis in 1919, and the number of squadrons which was then accepted by the Government was 31. What has been the story since then? In 1925 the number had increased to 54 squadrons, in 1926 to 61, last year to 63, in the White Paper of this year to 69, and the White Paper also tells us that next year there will be an increase to 73. According to further statements which have been made it is intended within a short space of time to increase the the total to between 80 and 90 squadrons. We are justified in asking, where is all this going eventually to lead? The kind of programme which is put forward here is very reminiscent indeed of the programmes that used to he discussed before the War. We have the same expansion, the same great expenditure, and a rather uninterested House listening in silence. Where we had references to Germany in those days, we have to-day references to France, in the case of the Air Force, and to the United States in the case of the Navy. Then we had statements just like that made by the Under-Secretary to the effect that everyone was building for defence and nobody was building for war—all this leading, unless checked, inevitably, to the same result.

The Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment painted pictures of what another war would mean with the incursion of an Air Force. There was not a word of exaggeration in anything that they said, and, indeed, their pictures were no more brutal and horrible than those which have been painted by the Secretary of State for Air in previous speeches in this House. But when one listens to speeches such as that which the Under-Secretary has just delivered, what impresses one is the contrast between the brutality of the pictures painted by those on the Government Front Bench and the timidity and poverty of any suggestion which they offer to deal with the evils they describe. The Under-Secretary, apparently, looks with some satisfaction on the proposals which the Government put forward in the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, but to what did those proposals amount? The Government put forward proposals for an agreement as to the number of first-line aeroplanes and the Under-Secretary spoke of an agreement about horsepower. As a matter of fact, the British Government at first resisted, and only accepted under pressure, any agreement about horse-power. They refused to accept any agreement about aeroplanes in reserve, and, I think, the Under-Secretary was mistaken about personnel. He said they came to an agreement, but, according to my reading of the Paper, they came to no conclusion at all about personnel, and they did not even discuss the question of ratio—of what was to be the relative size of our Air Force compared with the air forces of other nations.

These are very feeble results, and the point which we make in this Amendment is that the difficulties which showed themselves at Geneva—and I do not depreciate those difficulties—arose mainly because the proposals were for a mere diminution in air forces. As a matter of fact, from the point of view of administrative possibility, the simple proposal is the larger proposal for abolition which this Amendment contains. I should like to explain what the Amendment proposes. The Under-Secretary spoke as if we were proposing the entire abandonment of all British aeroplanes and the disappearance of the whole of the British Air Force without asking any other country to take similar steps. The hon. Gentleman spent a large part of his time in attacking an Amendment which we have not moved. I do not for the moment say anything about Army or Navy co-operating squadrons, but when you come to the independent Air Force, the purpose of the fighting aeroplane in that Force is to fight other fighting aeroplanes, and if you are seeking security against France or any other nation, you can obtain that security if you have no fighting aeroplanes at all, providing France and the other nations are in the same position. The Under-Secretary said, what one would expect him to say, that if we put forward such a proposal as this, it would not be looked at by the other nations. But somebody must take the lead, somebody must put it forward and support it, morally and politically, or else the proposal will never even be discussed. Put it forward. Supposing it was not at first accepted, I venture to say that in a few years the British Government would no more regret that they had put that proposal forward than they regret to-day that six years ago at the Washington Conference, alone in the world, they put forward the proposal for the abolition of the submarine. No other country would look at it then, but now we are watching the re-birth of that proposal on the initiative of the United States.

I come now to the last question with which the Under-Secretary dealt. Undoubtedly, in our opinion, the greatest failure of the Government at the Conference was that they entirely omitted to put forward any proposals for the control of civil and commercial aviation. Last year it was denied by Members who spoke with great expert authority, that commercial machines could be used for bombing purposes, but I take it, from all the speeches in this discussion tonight, that it is now accepted in every part of the House that all these commercial machines, the Imperial Airway machines, could be transformed into bombers within a week, or at any rate within a fortnight.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

In 24 hours.


That means then that these great commercial fleets which the nations of the world are building up in competition with each other are, in fact, reserved for bombing against the contingency of the next war. This is a difficulty. The bombers are the offensive weapons, the attacking force, in air war, and, to take even the Government's proposals, if they are going to limit the fighting aeroplanes alone, it means that there is going to be a reduction of the defensive aeroplanes, while the offensive aeroplanes continue unregulated and unchecked. There is only one solution, and that is that now, while the whole of this great industry is still in its infancy and before vested interests that you cannot break down have grown up, commercial aviation should be put under international control, under the supervision of the League of Nations.

There is nothing fantastic or impracticable in that proposal. There is no industry in the world which is so naturally marked out for international control as that of commercial aviation. The speech of the Secretary of State this evening has shown it. How can you create an air route to India unless by international assent? What is holding up the air route to India at this moment? The fact that owing to the action of Persia international assent cannot be obtained. There is nothing impracticable in the proposal that these great air services should be put into the hands of holding companies, in which the nationals of the different great air States would have their agreed proportion of stock, companies whose reports would be submitted to the League of Nations. If that were done, the air traveller of the future would proceed across Europe very much like the railway traveller does to-day under the International Wagons-Lits Company, with its headquarters at Brussels and with an international staff, which goes right across the frontier of Europe and takes you even as far as Asia Minor.

Lieut.-Colonel LAMBERT WARD

How will that prevent commercial machines being turned into bombers?


It will prevent them because, under these circumstances, you would have all your spare parts, all your factories in different parts of the world, so that they could not be assembled immediately. An international service, if it were under international control, could be so devised that it would not be an advantage to any nation if war broke out. Some hon. Members in their speeches, and one hon. Member in his interruption, seemed to be rather amused at the references to the international control of these services under the League of Nations. The Under-Secretary of State suggested that we must be patient and go slowly, and that we must not put too great a burden upon the League of Nations at this stage. That is quite a mistake. Our view is emphatic on that point. Now is the time, when the memories of the War have not yet died away, and when there is still some belief in men's minds that another war may be averted, to utilise the League of Nations; and the Under-Secretary is quite mistaken in imagining that something is going to happen, some indefinite number of years in the future, that will make it any easier than it is to-day. In the last three years, the whole disarmament movement has been slowing down, and the Government shows far less interest

in it than they did even three years ago. The disappearance of Lord Cecil from the Government has removed the only man with any powerful belief in this movement. For that reason, we know that when we put forward these Amendments, we are not putting them forward because we expect to convince the Government or the Members opposite. We do not. We are looking forward to a time beyond this present Government——


Very far seeing!


We are looking forward to a time, which we hope will arrive before it is too late, when there will be Government of the Left simultaneously in two or three nations in Europe, and then we shall invite them to take the path which the great mass of their people are already anxious they should tread.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 215; Noes, 116.

Division No. 30.] AYES. [10.47 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Couper, J. B. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.) Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)
Albery, Irving James Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Harland, A.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Harrison, G. J. C.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Haslam, Henry C.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cunliffe, Sir Herbert Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Curzon, Captain Viscount Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)
Balniel, Lord Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Davidson, Major-General Sir John H. Henn, Sir Sydney H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Davies, Dr. Vernon Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Dawson, Sir Philip Hills, Major John Waller
Bennett, A. J. Drewe, C. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Betterton, Henry B. Edmondson, Major A. J. Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Elliott, Major Walter E. Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Ellis, R. G. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard
Blundell, F. N. England, Colonel A Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)
Boothby, R. J. G. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Everard, W. Lindsay Hudson, Capt. A.U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Brass, Captain W. Fairfax, Captain J. G. Hume, Sir G. H.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Fanshawe, Captain G. D. Hurst, Gerald B.
Briggs, J. Harold Fermoy, Lord Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Brittain, Sir Harry Ford, Sir P. J. Iveagh, Countess of
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Forrest, W. Kindersley, Major Guy M.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Fraser, Captain Ian King, Commodore Henry Douglas
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Lamb, J. Q.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Galbraith, J. F. W. Little, Dr. E. Graham
Buchan, John Ganzonl, Sir John Long, Major Eric
Burman, J. B. Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Looker, Herbert William
Butler, Sir Geoffrey Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere
Caine, Gordon Hall Glyn, Major R. G. C. Lumley, L. R
Campbell, E. T. Goff, Sir Park MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen
Carver, Major W. H. Gower, Sir Robert Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cassels, J. D. Grace, John Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Macintyre, Ian
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. McLean, Major A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Greene, W. P. Crawford Macmillan, Captain H.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Grotrian, H. Brent Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol,N.) MacRobert, Alexander M.
Colman, N. C. D. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Maltland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-
Cope, Major William Gunston, Captain D. W. Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Margesson, Captain D. Rees, Sir Beddoe Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Remer. J. R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Tasker, R. Inigo.
Meller, R. J. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Templeton, W. P.
Merriman, F. B. Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Ropner, Major L. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Rye, F. G. Thomson, Ht. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Moore-Brabazon, Lieut-Col. J. T. C. Salmon, Major I. Tinne, J. A.
Nelson, Sir Frank Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wallace, Captain D. E.
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrs'ld.) Sandeman, N. Stewart Ward, Lt.-Col.A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Nuttall, Ellis Sanderson, Sir Frank Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Oakley, T. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D. Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Savery, S. S. Wells, S. R.
Pennefather, Sir John Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby) White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple
Penny, Frederick George Shaw, Lt.-Col. A.D. Mcl.(Renfrew,W.) Williams. Herbert G. (Reading)
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Sheffield, Sir Berkeley Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Perring, Sir William George Shepperson, E. W. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Slaney, Major P. Kenyon Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Withers, John James
Pilcher, G. Smith-Carington, Neville W. Womersley, W. J.
Power, Sir John Cecil Smithers, Waldron Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge& Hyde)
Pownall, Sir Assheton Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Preston, William Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Price, Major C. W. M. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Raine, Sir Walter Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Ramsden, E. Steel, Major Samuel Strang Major The Marquess of Titchfield
Rawson, Sir Cooper Storry-Deans, R. and Sir Victor Warrender.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hayday, Arthur Rose, Frank H.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hayes, John Henry Saklatvala, Shapurji
Ammon, Charles George Hirst, G. H. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Scurr, John
Baker, Walter Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barr, J. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keightey)
Batey, Joseph Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kelly, W. T. Stamford, T. W.
Briant, Frank Kennedy, T. Stephen, Campbell
Broad, F. A. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Bromfield, William Lansbury, George Strauss, E. A.
Bromley, J. Lawrence, Susan Sullivan, J
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Lawson, John James Sutton, J. E.
Buchanan, G. Lee, F. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lindley, F. W. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Cape, Thomas Lowth, T. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Charleton, H. C. Lunn, William Tinker, John Joseph
Cluse, W. S. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Tomlinson, R. P.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Townend, A. E.
Connolly, M. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. O. P
Cove, W. G. March, S. Viant, S. P.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Maxton, James Wallhead, Richard C.
Crawfurd, H. E. Montague, Frederick Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Dalton, Hugh Morris, R. H. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Day, Harry Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wellock, Wilfred
Dennison, R. Murnin, H. Welsh, J. C.
Duncan, C. Naylor, T. E. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Dunnico, H. Oliver, George Harold Whiteley, W.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh univer.) Owen, Major G. Wiggins, William Martin
Fenby, T. D. Palin, John Henry Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Paling, W. Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Gibbins, Joseph Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Gosling, Harry Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilson. R. J. (Jarrow)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Ponsonby, Arthur Wright, W.
Groves, T. Potts, John S.
Grundy, T. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Riley, Ben Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. A. Barnes.
Hardie, George D. Ritson, J.

Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]