§ Mr. THURTLE
I beg to move:That this House is of opinion that, since a Channel Tunnel can be constructed by private enterprise without any financial assistance from the State, and since the Channel Tunnel Committee has reported its construction to be of definite economic advantage to this country, and in view of the fact that such a tunnel, in addition to providing immediate employment, would be of great advantage to British trade and industry in future years by providing better transport between this country and the Continent, every facility should be given for the project to be undertaken at the earliest possible opportunity.In moving the Motion standing in my name asking that every facility should be given for the project known as the Channel Tunnel, I should like to take advantage of the opportunity of congratulating those who are responsible for having provided an opportunity for Parliamentary discussion of this subject. I think that his House very often discusses matters in which the people only take a very mild interest, but this is a matter upon which there is very wide and keen interest amongst our electors. Therefore, I think that it is very desirable that a discussion of this kind should take place. Incidentally, it is some 20 odd years ago since Parliament discussed this project. I should like, at the same time, to congratulate the Government upon having come to a decision of allowing a free vote on this issue. By that free vote I understand that every Member of the House will be entitled to record his vote according to his convictions 1688 on the project, and I should like to express the hope that no obstacle will be put in the way of that vote being recorded at the end of our discussion. With that aim in view, those of us who are supporting the Motion are going to restrict the length of our speeches so that the onus for prolonging the debate will not rest upon us.
I would suggest that really there is something bigger than the Channel Tunnel which is involved in this issue. We are discussing to-night a test as to the power of the democracy. This project has been held up now for 50 years, and I think that it is not unfair to say that it has been held up, not because of popular opinion, but because of a clash between popular opinion and bureaucracy, and the bureaucracy has won, and at the present time is still holding the field. It is often urged against this House that this country is not governed by Parliament, but is governed by what is called permanent officialdom. I should not like to subscribe to that entirely as a general doctrine, but I think that it is very largely true as far as the Channel Tunnel project is concerned. There has been widespread popular support for the project, but there has been permanent officialdom steadily against it. The British public is very respectful and, I think I may say, even deferential towards what may be called expert opinion, but there are times when the public becomes impatient with the experts, and I think that this is an occasion of that kind. We are coming to the conclusion that on this matter of the Channel Tunnel the experts are seeking to impose, as it were upon our ignorance, and I think that we are going to have a revolt against that kind of dictatorship of the bureaucracy. I believe that popular opinion is now saying to this House, "Never mind about the old-fashioned prejudices of the naval and military 1689 advisers which are now largely obsolete. Never mind about the economic arguments in the White Paper which can be shown to have no real basis. Never mind about these things. We want this Channel Tunnel and we want you, the Members of Parliament, to exercise the power which you possess in order to see that we get it."
The latest statement of the official position is contained in the White Paper which was issued this month. The House will remember that the Peacock Committee was appointed by the late Conservative Government to consider the economic aspects of the problem. Alter a very exhaustive inquiry the Peacock Committee, composed of five very eminent business men, came to the conclusion that the construction of the Tunnel would be an economic advantage to the country. This recommendation was signed by all five members. It is true that one of the members, in addition to signing the report, also signed a dissenting minute in which he qualified his support of this proposal. Following this favourable report on the economic issue, we get that extraordinary White Paper. I have to apply the adjective "extraordinary" to it, because it is an extraordinary document. It is a most unconvincing apologia for the status quo. It has been issued by the Labour Government, it is true, but its tone—and I say this more in sorrow than in anger—has the authentic note of Conservatism. I hope that I shall not alienate any Conservative support by making that remark, but such is the fact. This White Paper, like all White Papers, is anonymous. Therefore, without wounding anyone's feelings, I can say that this White Paper is really much below the general standard of such White Papers in regard to its argumentative and intellectual quality. It is a very weak document, indeed.
I will deal with some of its arguments. There is geological doubt as to whether a tunnel would be possible, and the engineers say that before that doubt can be resolved, it is necessary to have a pilot tunnel constructed. That pilot tunnel will cost, it is estimated, 5,600,000. The White Paper makes this a point against the construction of the Tunnel. I would point out that of this £5,600,000, only half of the sum would have to be found in this country; the 1690 other half would be found in France. It would be spread over a period of five years, because that is the estimated time of the construction of the pilot tunnel. Therefore, you get an annual expenditure of, roughly, £500,000 a year. Why should the Government turn round and say that it is unwise to permit private enterprise to spend £500,000 a year for five years on a project which might turn out to a very valuable piece of constructive work, and all the time, month after month, and year after year, they are allowing much greater sums of money to be spent on much wilder, more speculative and more fantastic schemes? [Interruption.] No, I will not go into the other schemes.
The White Paper makes the point that considerable capital would be rendered unproductive by this scheme. That is to say, that the small ships which are now trading in the cross-Channel services and some of the harbour services would become unproductive capital. No one denies that fact. But is not that process true of any kind of development scheme? Every time you construct a great main road you render, to some extent, the capital of the competing railway route unproductive. Every step you take in connection with the rationalisation of a great industry like the steel industry, you immobilise whole steel works, and every time you do that you are bound to put a certain amount of capital out of productive employment. It is true of practically every scheme of development of which one can think. If you are going to make progress, and if you are going to have new plant or to reorganise your plant, a certain amount of capital inevitably is bound to become unproductive, and, therefore, I say that this argument is a weak argument and cannot hold water. Besides, the Southern Railway Company, which is the chief concern likely to be affected by this development, would take very good care to see—as it would be within its rights in doing—that it was amply compensated for any loss of capital.
The contention is that by issuing a licence the Government would be wholly responsible for providing funds. That is one of the arguments of the White Paper, and it is an argument which cannot be substantiated. The report says definitely that no public money should be used for 1691 this purpose and the Motion on the Order Paper says that no public money should be used for this purpose. If the Government, when they issue a licence, expressly declare that they wash their hands of the project, that it is entirely at the risk of the promoters, who cannot hope to get any financial support from the Government, if the Government take up that stand from the very outset, as they would be entitled to do on the report, then, at no future time, can there be held to be any responsibility resting upon the Government, moral or otherwise, to provide capital for the furtherance of the project.
Perhaps the most fantastic argument of all in this very remarkable Paper is the argument which is advanced to the effect that the spending of this money on this project will have an adverse effect upon the capital requirements for industrial purposes. What is the drain on British capital which is going to take place by this project? As I have said, half of the money can be raised in France, so that only half of the money will have to be raised in the British market. I understand that if we like to widen our appeal, it will be possible to get money for this project from America. But assuming that the whole amount has to be found between this country and France, what is the drain upon our capital resources? In the first five years, as I have already explained, it will be £500,000 a year. In the next three years it will be £4,000,000 a year. Who is there who is going seriously to consider that the pool of British capital cannot afford to have these sums drawn from it for this piece of constructive work in the course of the next eight years. I do not think that anyone ought to come to this House and argue in that direction. We may have short memories. If we turn our minds back for the past two years and remember what was happening in this country two years ago, we recall the fact that millions upon millions of new capital were being provided in this country for all sorts of wildcat schemes, for every possible kind of invention and device which could be thought of in the fertile brain of a company promoter. At least £50,000,000 was raised on the Stock Exchange in the last 1692 two years, and most of that money has been wasted. There was no restriction by the Government of that kind of thing. Why, then, should the Government now say that, in the course of eight years, £15,000,000 for a sound constructive piece of work is money which will be a heavy drain upon the pool of British capital? That is not treating the House with proper respect. It is rating our intelligence far too low to put an argument like that before us.
I have dealt with the main economic objections as set forth in the White Paper. Now, I should like to say a few words about the so-called military objections. This document seems to me to read like something that is not straightforward. It seems to me that the economic objections which are put forward are not the real objections to the scheme and that they are being put forward as a screen to hide the fact that the military and naval objections are still preventing the Channel Tunnel from being constructed. To see how very imperfect this screen is one has only to consider the White Paper. What is the military position? As far as I can see from the White Paper, they have changed their ground of opposition. They no longer say that it would be a fatal thing from the point of view of security to have the Channel Tunnel, but they say that it would cost a lot of money adequately to protect it. The lot of money in the terms of the White Paper amounts to something like £1,000,000. That may be a considerable sum, but it is only half the cost of one of our great battleships. [HON. MEMBERS: "A battleship costs £6,000,000 or £7,000,000!"] I have put my estimate much too low. The cost would only be one-fourth or one-seventh of the cost of a great battleship. It is certainly very small in comparison with the cost of a battleship. Even this charge of £1,000,000 as a capital charge could be spread over the eight years during which the Tunnel would be in course of construction, so that it would mean only £125,000 a year.
The only other charge which the military people mention is that of the garrison—the cost of maintaining the garrison. The House ought not to take that statement seriously. If a certain number of soldiers are required at the 1693 end of the Tunnel, or if a certain number of airmen are required, well, we have lots of soldiers and airmen, and if they are located somewhere near the end of the Tunnel they will not be elsewhere. Therefore, I cannot see that that will impose a very great additional burden upon the country. The military position is not being stated honestly and squarely in the White Paper, because one discovers this astonishing sentence in the report:The military authorities are unable to discover any single military advantage in the scheme.The House ought not to accept that statement. This scheme might become a drawback and possibly a liability if we entered into war with France. Let us admit that But that is not the only contingency which the military authorities ought to have in mind. I hate to envisage the possibility of war, because that seems to be madness in these days, but, looking at the matter from the strictly utilitarian point of view, the military authorities ought to envisage the contingency that a war might occur in which as in the last war, we were the allies of France, and working with France, in which circumstances the Tunnel would certainly be of very distinct military advantage. I draw attention to this point, not because I want to envisage the possibility of war, but because in this White Paper the military authorities have not given us an accurate view of the situation; they have given us a distorted and one-sided view.
I do not wish to stress the employment aspect of the question. We must realise that when we have something approaching 2,000,000 people unemployed, the contribution which this scheme could make towards solving that problem is very small. I do not burke that issue. The employment will amount, possibly, to 4,000 or 5,000 men being kept at work for eight years. That is very small, but even so it is worth while bearing in mind. This is a big piece of constructive work, and this country is not to-day in a position when it can afford to jeer at the possibility of employing even a few thousand men on constructive work. Certainly, those few thousands of men would welcome the chance of being able to do useful work rather than eat the bread of idleness as they are doing at the present time. This project appeals to different 1694 people for different reasons. It makes its appeal to me almost entirely because I view it as a great European and international piece of construction. If we decide to go on with the Tunnel it would be an act of peace, it would be a gesture of confidence to the world, and it would be in line with the growing sense of the community of interests of all the countries which make up the Continent of Europe. It is a scheme which strikes the imagination of our people and which would make a great appeal to the world, and if the Members of this House will record their approval of it to-night they will be doing credit to themselves, and something which the great mass of the electors want them to do.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I beg to second the Motion.
My doing so is a clear indication that, whatever differences of opinion there may be about the Tunnel, they are not upon party lines. I wish to congratulate the Government on the fact that it is quite clear they realise that this is a very imporant issue to the country and one far beyond the measurement of ordinary £ s. d. considerations. I am glad that the Prime Minister is here, and that the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Transport are here. That fact indicates that the Government realise that it is a very important issue that we have to consider by a free vote of the House to-night. I am not always in complete agreement with the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), although we have points of contact in which we are in complete agreement. On this matter my hon. Friend's speech will enable me to curtail even more than I had intended the remarks that I propose to address to the House. The one thing about which I am most anxious is that no lengthy speech on behalf of the Channel Tunnel by any hon. Member, still less by the mover and seconder of the Motion, should deprive us of the privilege of settling this matter, as far as it can be settled, by a single vote, or of giving the country an indication of the present opinion of the House of Commons on the matter.
I am not going to touch upon the defence side of the question beyond saying that, although I do not claim to have any right to speak on matters of high military strategy, I think it is a point of 1695 common agreement that in the late War it would have been of enormous advantage to us had we been able to hold, as we inevitably should have been able to hold, the bridgehead of the Tunnel, and if we had had the Tunnel as a means of communication throughout the four and a-half years of the war. I have asked the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) his view on that subject and, although he will not be able to speak in our debate to-night, I know his view and I think I have correctly stated it. I want to deal with the trade question and how much the Tunnel would affect the flow of tourist traffic to and from this country. There are a great many people in this country who are very much afraid of what would be the trade effect of opening up better means of communication with the Continent. It is curious to find that there is any large body of opinion in this country that is afraid of improving the means of transport between this country and the Continent of Europe. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce expressed the true view on this question more clearly than any other of the great bodies of trade opinion in this country which have been consulted. They said:Any extension of efficient facilities for transport and communication must of necessity lead to extended trade, as transportation would be definitely quicker and the existence of the Channel Tunnel would make possible trade which has never been contemplated before.I would emphasise that point of view. Throughout the history of this country we have always been first and foremost in opening up means of communication with other parts of the world, and every time we have opened up any means of communication with the rest of the world new lines of trade and business have been opened up which would never have been thought of without that new method of communication. The Committee in their report say:The construction of the Channel Tunnel by creating new traffic and thus increasing trade would be of economic advantage to this country.Against that, there is another point of view. We are told that to open up a new method and quicker communication with the Continent would mean a quicker flood of early vegetables into this country 1696 from France. We have the north side of the Channel; we have the south aspect. All our market gardens along the whole of the South Coast face the sun. We are now growing, as we were reminded during the last General Election, broccoli—I am not, afraid of reminding hon. Members of that—and we managed to send that broccoli by some devious route right into the centre of Germany. That was a single effort of a single county, and only a small part of that county; and there is nothing in our climate or in our soil, or in British agricultural enterprise, which makes it necessary for us to assume that we are not only second but a hopeless "also ran," in the race between rival countries in producing the goods which the world requires. If we are going to give it up, if we have not sufficient enterprise, if we are going to say that we cannot do these things and that we are going to pursue a policy of isolation, then by all means close the Channel. [An HON. MEMBER: "Safety first!"] There is the tariff method for regulating trade, and we do not want to close any means of communication while we have a much more scientific method of doing what is best for our own people.
Then there is the question of the tourist traffic. Here the issue is exactly the same. If we are so hopelessly behind that we can offer no attractions to anybody, and that all that will happen if we open up communications with all parts of the Continent through the Channel Tunnel is that a still larger number of English people will travel on the Continent and visit Continental resorts, if we are unable to attract the population of the Continent to these islands, let alone our own American cousins, again I say by all means close ale Channel and do away with the Channel steamers. If it is to be always a flow out from this little island, and that nobody is coming here to visit us, the less communications we have the better. But what is the real situation? There are at the other end of the Channel Tunnel 450,000,000 people in Europe. We have at this end 45,000,000. Are we so hopeless that with a ten to one advantage in our favour we have not the courage to open up this means of transport We do not mind the sea; traditionally we are used to it, we rather like it. Some people may get sick 1697 going across, but that is part of the adventure. But take your American, your luxurious American, with a pile of dollars which he wants to spend somewhere in Europe. He loathes and detests the Channel crossing. Take your average German or Dutchman, he hates it, too.
The opening up of the Channel Tunnel would do a great deal to bring a large influx of continental population to these islands. In 1927 a quarter of a million rich Americans, who never set foot in these islands, came over here on a visit to Europe mainly because they found it more convenient to get off at Cherbourg. There was the trouble afterwards of tackling the Channel crossing, and these islands were not considered worth while including in the tour. I have thrashed out the matter with my constituents at Ilfracombe, which is the only pleasure resort in my constituency, and they are quite prepared to take the risk. They believe that a large number of Americans who now land on the other side would land at Plymouth. It would be an advantage to our shipping. They would land there knowing that they could visit Paris, after taking a tour across North Devon and Dartmoor with scenery absolutely unrivalled in Europe, and by means of the Channel Tunnel, do the rest of their tour. I am certain that that would be the result, and that an enormous amount of American tourist money which is now spent exclusively on the Continent would come to the help of our seaside resorts. On the question as to whether it would pay, nobody can say whether any commercial enterprise will pay. That is an undoubted fact, but on all the close estimates which have been made by eminent engineers,, and the estimates of traffic by the Committee itself, and the cost of maintenance, which is put at £500,000 a year, whereas the Channel Tunnel Company allow in their figures £1,000,000, allowing for all these things, it is a 10 per cent. proposition taking all classes of stock as far as anybody can estimate the result of this enterprise. In the face of that, why should the Government say, when they are supporting schemes of all sorts for the provision of employment up to an extent of 90 per cent., and in some selected areas even up to 100 per cent., that if the public like to subscribe to this scheme without any assistance from 1698 the Government they are not to be allowed to do so? That is the position.
Let me summarise what I have to say in this way. Those who object are really objecting to improvements in transport; they say that it is not desirable. That is a policy of funk; and has never succeeded in any political programme or any commercial enterprise. I dislike it as much in politics as I do in commerce. We have been first and foremost in putting machinery into ships and in initiating railway enterprises. My father was one of the first railway contractors in this country, and the objections which were raised to the railways are exactly the same as those which are raised against the Channel Tunnel to-day. Those objections were swept aside because the country believed in its destiny. If we cannot dare to make a Channel Tunnel, it means that we want a policy of isolation. That implies that we believe that this country is decadent and afraid to meet not only its enemies in the gate, but its competitors and its friends as well. If this country is decadent, if the British Lion is sick, let it seek some cave of isolation. Throughout the animal kingdom when any animal is about to die and is pretty nearly done, it seeks isolation and solitude, and that is the policy of those who oppose the Channel Tunnel.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
All that I need do this evening, I think, is to summarise the situation as the Government saw it when they came to the conclusion embodied in the White Paper. I am very glad that an opportunity has been found for this discussion. It is not only an important discussion, but it has presented us with such an unusual spectacle of political unity that that in itself justifies the time that is to be devoted to the discussion—not only political unity, but a very interesting change in political views and principles, for my hon. Friend who moved the Motion, after having demonstrated that a great piece of railway development was bound to pay, asked the House, not that the Government should find the money for that development, but that it should be handed over without let or hindrance or qualification to unrestricted private enterprise. That is a very happy interlude, and I hope that the good humour which it will undoubtedly en- 1699 gender will assist the further items of our business during the course of this week.
The point regarding this matter is, however, not whether a Channel Tunnel would pay, but also whether in relation to national interests it ought to be built. There are two points. The resolution deals with one. But the House in voting will keep both in mind, I hope. We have to consider that it is the Government's responsibility to come to a decision, that the Government has never come to a decision on this subject without first of all having consulted the leaders of the other parties in the House and gained their consent to the decision which it had reached. That has been the case in this instance. The two right hon. Gentlemen, he who leads the Opposition and he who leads the Liberal party, are at one with us in the decision to which we have come.
What is the situation I confess that I began in favour of the Channel Tunnel. In 1924, when it was first of all my duty to preside over a meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence, which had to consider this matter, I was profoundly dissatisfied because a conclusion was reached mainly on military considerations. I did not feel that that was the last word or that it ought to be the last word. There were economic considerations and there were political considerations, and I felt that sooner or later, if a last word was to be said, it could not be said by the soldier or by those who were responsible for military operations, but it would be said by the trader and by those responsible for the political interests of the country. We have now had our opportunity.
Our predecessors appointed a committee of inquiry. In 1927 that committee made its report. I hope that hon. Members will read the report from the first point of view that I have indicated. The Channel Tunnel is not purely a business enterprise. Unite the Dover side in this country with France on the other side of the Channel, and you have made a tremendous change, political and economic as well as military. Is that right? Is that change good or is it bad? That is the first question which we have to consider. Quite obviously, whether the change is good or bad the national interest point of view and aspect will always be of such tremendous importance 1700 that the Government must hold in its hands the responsibility of dealing with the fate of that Tunnel should certain events arise. What, therefore, is the use of handing this over to private enterprise?
My hon. Friend indicated, and I saw a paragraph in a newspaper the other day indicating the same thing—that outside capital was to be asked for, for the construction of this Tunnel. Nothing could be more objectionable than that. If private capital is going to construct this Tunnel that capital ought to belong and belong only to the two nations primarily concerned, in whose hands the fate of the tunnel must rest, irrespective of outside financial and capitalistic influences and pressures being brought to bear upon the responsible Governments. Therefore, that is first of all a very important point. Our share of the capital must be found by ourselves and from ourselves and be held internally by this country, so that if the Government is bound in certain circumstances to destroy the property, it has to deal with its own nationals and not the nationals of other countries.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
My argument deals only with my hon. Friend and his appeal to his hon. Friends around him. That is not all. We have had it clearly indicated by this investigation that expert opinion is doubtful whether the Tunnel is practical. It will not commit itself to more than that. "We hesitate to say that they,"—(the possible obstacles)—" would be insurmountable." In order to find out whether they were insurmountable a capital of £5,000,000 has to be raised. But not a halfpenny of the £5,000,000 can be spent in discovering this without the sanction of the Government. The £5,000,000 is to be spent on making a pilot tunnel, but the pilot tunnel itself is of no use unless in consequence of its success, traffic tunnels at a cost of from £25,000,000 to £30,000,000 are to be made afterwards. That is the situation; and yet it is argued that the 1701 Government in a lighthearted way can say, "We will give a licence for the driving of a pilot tunnel, but if you fail financially, though you may be succeeding from the engineering point of view, after spending the £5,000,000 that is generally believed to be a considerable underestimate—if that situation arises, at any moment when the capital is spent, and when no further credit can be found, not for the £5,000,000 but for the £30,000,000, the Government having given the licence is not morally bound to come in under such conditions as that and supply capital in order to continue the exploration." [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
I want to say quite plainly so that there should be no doubt whatever about it, that if I were a member of a Government which issued a licence to encourage people to subscribe this money, I should feel myself morally bound, if the enterprise failed for want of money, to stand by that enterprise and see it through. There is absolutely no other position that could be taken up by a Government. Therefore, as a matter of fact, in actual business and political and Governmental honour, a Government cannot say to a private enterprise like this; "We give you leave; we must believe that there is a chance of success first in providing the Tunnel and then in working it, but if you find you cannot raise your money, we are going to wash our hands of the whole thing." Supposing a Government did take that view, I am perfectly certain the pressure brought upon that Govern merit would be almost irresistible. They would be simply opening a new chapter of uncertainty regarding this Tunnel, and, while declaring themselves absolutely free except as regards the issue of the licence, they would be putting ropes around their shoulders and upon their necks on which, when certain circumstances arose, they would be asked to pull and from which they would be expected to get some results. That is the first point. The position of the Government is that recognition is practically an invitation and would be used by the company promoters as an invitation to private shareholders and private capitalists to subscribe. We cannot recognise or encourage that.
Then we come to the next point. This Tunnel is not merely an expansion of railway enterprise. This Tunnel should 1702 only be built if its advantages to the country are perfectly clear and very commonly agreed upon. But what do we find? We find, for instance, that as regards cheapness of transport which has so often been advocated that the committee which investigated the subject says nothing about that at all. It holds out no hope that the cost of transport can be Cheapened, and its estimates at various points of the report assume that the cost of transport is to remain what it is now. Take the question of trade. The agricultural interests are definitely opposed to the Tunnel. It may be true, though I am not so sure that it is true, that broccoli growers find much impediment in the present means of transport; but, whether they do or not, the present means of transport were sufficiently efficient to enable them to put their products into the heart of Germany, and that on the first go-off. What more do they want than that?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
More efficient transport—when at the first go off they did this. It is perfectly simple and plain to see that if that trade were properly organised it would not find any impediment whatever in the present means of transport, in view of the result of the experiment of last year. Not only that. Take the wider field of industries in this country. The great bodies, the chambers of commerce, and so on, were consulted, and this is the report presented by the Committee on the general result of the consultations—that these bodies have, in the main, been reluctant to commit themselves to any definite view on the effect of a Channel Tunnel. That is the combined opinion of the industrial organisations. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce was quoted, but the Manchester Chamber of Commerce was one in a very email minority of equally important chambers of commerce. Opinions vary but, undoubtedly, the great bulk of the chambers of commerce expressed an opinion which was either absolutely indifferent or hostile.
Then there is the matter of shipping. Naturally, I daresay, shipping might be expected to be opposed. It is opposed, but the most important consideration is this, that during this long transition period—those years the length of which 1703 my hon. Friend emphasised when he was dealing with the raising and expenditure of money but which he would not emphasise if he dealt with the effect on trade and the interchange of goods during this doubtful interregnum—during all these years there is bound to be stagnation in the present methods of transport across the Channel. New money will not be put into enterprises; docks and harbours in so far as they depend on this traffic will be allowed to fall into disrepair, numbers of men will be unemployed and there will be a steady decay from the present condition, without anything being put in its place, for 12 or 15 years or thereabouts. Even the railways are not so very keen about this project. If there is going to be any substantial increase in traffic, no section of our industry ought to give this project a greater welcome than the railways, but they themselves do not give it a welcome. The most characteristic note of the evidence given by the representatives of the railways is very, very great caution. The White Paper says, and this is an absolutely accurate summary of the position of the Committee:Nowhere is there to be found any sign of a strong demand for the Tunnel from any of the major industries or interests.Again I would emphasise that if this tremendous enterprise—tremendous not merely from the financial and engineering points of view, but from the point of view of the whole national economy—is going to be undertaken in the interests of trade and commerce and in the interests of transport, there must be a vim behind the demand which is absolutely absent from the report of the Committee which the House is at present discussing. The question of passenger traffic, I must say, in the light of the issues of this Tunnel, is of a minor interest, but supposing it was a major interest, again you have nothing but contradiction from one town and another, contradiction from one group of travellers and another. There are a great many people who would prefer the Channel to a tunnel. There are a great many people, and I hope still more—a growing number—who would prefer the air to a hole 20 odd miles long dug under the Channel. The passenger traffic will undoubtedly take care of itself, and I have no doubt whatever, after reading the 1704 evidence presented so far as I could, that the passenger traffic would be a debit rather than a credit to the project. That is not at all conclusive, but it is one of the elements that must enter into one's mind when balancing the pros and cons and coming to a conclusion either for a tunnel or against it.
Then there is the other point—my hon. Friend did not stress it—the point about employment. If my hon Friend had made that speech six months ago, he would have stressed that, and so should I, so there is no use in denying that fact. One of the most disturbing revelations made by the investigation into the building of the Tunnel was the very, very small number of men who would find employment in the course of the operations—in the first part, the pilot tunnel, 250 men directly employed, and 750 men indirectly employed, for five years; and the 250 men are specialists, who would require to be taken from skilled labour, for which there is an adequate demand at the present moment. For the building of the next tunnel, 1,550 men directly employed, and 4,500 men indirectly employed, for three years; and in the meantime there is to be a very considerable discharge of men engaged in the industries whose death sentence has been passed on account of the decision to build a Tunnel.
The whole case is one of those that are not proven, to put it at its very highest. It is not proven from the point of view of trade, it is not proven from the point of view of passenger convenience, it is not proven from the point of view of engineering practicability. It remains a project which has got certain attractive general ideas to commend it, but which, the moment one gets down to the actual working details, shows itself to be a very barren one, except in one direction, and that is the change in the political relationships of this country. That, to me, should be enough, and I am perfectly content to leave it there. Under those circumstances, to give a licence for a pilot tunnel—that is, a licence for the whole work—would be a very wrong thing and a most unjustifiable thing for any Government to do.
But I ought to explain that on the military side, the side which I have already said I hold as subordinate, the brief statement in the White Paper must not be taken to indicate, what my hon. Friend did take it to indicate, that the 1705 military have changed their ground. I must say that for them. The considerations of a military character in this White Paper were definitely abbreviated, and were not to be taken as a new argument, but as an additional argument in relation to the situation created by this project of a new tunnel. All the old arguments hold good. They went into it very carefully, and it was the length of time which the military authorities took to complete their survey which embarrassed me once or twice when hon. Members opposite were putting questions to me as to when we were going to announce our decisions upon the Tunnel.
They went very carefully into it. New defensive works would require to be made, and they hold very strongly, rightly or wrongly—it is not for me to say, but it is for me to report—that if we happened unfortunately to find ourselves in another European war, with our nearest neighbour as our ally, the existence of a tunnel, in their view, would in no way be advantageous to us. In their view, the existence of a tunnel would not have been advantageous to us in the last War. In their view, the expedition which was shown in transport at the beginning of the War could not have been improved. If men had to be sent across the Channel by being put into trains, which they had to change at the British end of the Tunnel and change again at the French end, with all the transport, all the limited breadth of passage—instead of being helpful, there are good military authorities who say it would have been absolutely detrimental to our interests. There are other military considerations also, regarding what would have been the objective of the enemy if the British "bridgehead" had been in France. I am completely outside that field of interest, but that view has been considered by the military authorities, and those arguments that have been mentioned are rejected by them and are not accepted by them at all.
One other point. There is a political and a diplomatic aspect of this Tunnel. I am not quite sure if that aspect has been considered by any right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who perhaps have been more into the detailed considerations of this question than I have been able to be, because I only took it up very briefly in 1706 1924, and again the other day when this report came, but I believe that for the first time the political and diplomatic effect of the Tunnel has been considered, and those of us who have been responsible for the conduct of the foreign affairs of this country are agreed that the existence of a Tunnel would not make it easier for us to conduct the diplomatic affairs of this country; and on that ground again it was considered that the present position of this country helped us rather to advance a pacific policy, to strengthen the movement for peace, and was not in any way a hampering position. Upon those considerations, taking all those things into account, the Government penned this final sentence in the White Paper:Having regard to the element of doubt as to the feasibility of construction, the weakness of the economic case, the great cost, the long period before which the capital expended could fructify, and the small amount of employment provided, the Government have come to the conclusion that there is no justification for a reversal of the policy pursued by successive Governments for nearly 50 years in regard to the Channel Tunnel.I ask the House, in its vote to-night, to support that decision and allow it to stand.
§ Sir SAMUEL HOARE
I say at once that I speak for myself, and I understand that some of my right hon. Friends on this bench may not agree with the conclusions at which I have arrived. I well remember, in the weeks before the War, the late Lord Kitchener developing to me two or three times what appeared to him at that period an overwhelming case against the Tunnel. He said to me, "You will see that it will bias our policy in time of peace, and it will dominate our policy in time of war if a tunnel is built." Since then, I have wondered whether recent developments have changed the justice of that view or not. It so happened that during several years in which I was connected with the Air Ministry, that is, with the newest of the fighting arms, I had a good many opportunities of testing the wisdom and the justice of the verdict that Lord Kitchener gave before the War. I should be the last person in this House to deny that the various new weapons that have been introduced in the field of defence during the last 15 1707 or 16 years have not revolutionised the whole system of the defence of these shores.
I have often said that the coming of the aeroplane means that this country has no longer its inviolable isolation. Machines can fly from the Continent to London in a comparatively few minutes. It is for the House to consider this afternoon whether these very serious facts should or should not alter the view that we had previously held about the Tunnel. My own view is, after a close contact with the problem in one of the fighting Departments, that the advent of this new arm has made the project of the Channel Tunnel not less dangerous, but more dangerous and for this reason: In these new arms—the aeroplane, the submarine and the long-range gun—we can certainly not claim a superiority in comparison with our neighbours, but in many respects we are in a distinct inferiority, and that means that an air raid of overwhelming importance, or a submarine attack in the Channel, might very easily destroy all the careful preparations that we had made before the time of crisis for the closing, the opening or the destroying of the Tunnel. I say, therefore, that so far from lessening the danger of the Tunnel, these new arms, particularly aeroplanes, have actually increased it. But I may be wrong; it may be that I exaggerate the danger; but none the less I am quite sure that, whether I be right or wrong, the existence of a Channel Tunnel would create in public opinion in the country a feeling of insecurity at the most critical and awkward moments. In time of peace, the existence of a Channel Tunnel would certainly mean an increased demand for defence expenditure. I am quite certain that the three fighting services would at once demand—and demand with some reason—an increase in expenditure for more units, whether air units or anti-aircraft units, to guard the mouth of the Tunnel, and I am quite sure that the demand would be very difficult to resist. In times of crisis, however, the situation would be far more difficult to deal with. We should at once be faced with the question, "Shall we close the Tunnel, or shall we leave it open?" and faced with it at a moment 1708 when it would be extremely difficult to give it a dispassionate or impartial answer.
Supposing things went further, and we were actually involved in a state of war. We have to take into account even the most remote contingencies, and there again I am certain that the public would be in a continuous state of alarm and uncertainty, and sometimes even of panic, as to whether it was wise to keep the tunnel open, or whether it would be better to destroy it; and if it were decided to destroy it, whether any system of destruction could be final. Several years during the War, I was connected with military intelligence, and I had a good many opportunities of hearing the details of attempts at sabotage and attempts at destroying this or that public work in one or other of the fighting countries; and what impressed itself on my mind always was the complete impossibility of being really certain whether you could actually destroy this or that public work or not. I well remember, for instance, the case of the Roumanian oilfields. We were under the impression that we had totally destroyed those oilfields, at any rate for the duration of the War, yet in the course of quite a few months, the Germans were producing oil from the oilfields again.
I am quite sure that in the case of the Channel Tunnel, there would always be this feeling of insecurity among the public as to whether you could really finally destroy it, or whether some means could not be discovered by the enemy of bringing it into operation again. It is worth noting that Sir John French, who before the War was in favour of a Channel Tunnel, declared at the end of the War, that, if the tunnel had been in existence, we might very well have lost the War in the first year. He took the view that the existence of the tunnel would have drawn the British Expeditionary Force to the defence of the Tunnel; the French armies would have concentrated on Paris, and there would have been a breach between the two armies, and each army would have run the risk of being defeated in turn. Another distinguished Field-Marshal, the late Sir Henry Wilson, took very much the same view. This goes to show that from the point of view of defence the Channel Tunnel would bias our policy in peace time and bias our strategy 1709 in war time. There would be a grave risk of the country existing for the Tunnel and not the Tunnel for the country.
These are very serious considerations, and could only be overridden if a strong case were made against them from the economic standpoint. None of us think that a war is in the least probable, as we hope, for many years to come; none of us wish to contemplate such a terrible event except as the very remotest contingency; and if a really strong economic case for the Tunnel could be made out I would say that it might be worth while overriding these military objections in view of the fact that we contemplate a long period of peace. But the Prime Minister has already shown how very weak is the economic case. There is a very half-hearted report, which from start to finish damns the project with faint praise. Is it going to help unemployment? Scarcely at all. Two or three hundred skilled men, already employed, would be engaged upon it, and there would be the risk of throwing out of employment the men engaged in the operation of the cross-Channel services. Is it going to help trade? There, again, a very weak case is made out by the majority of the Members who sign the report, while Lord Ebbisham, who signs the very interesting minority memorandum, points to the fact that the trades it would mostly help would be the transport of British visitors to the health resorts of the Continent and the transport of early vegetables from the Continent to these shores. In the last day or two the National Farmers' Union have very strenuously taken that view and have put in very strong objections to the project.
I think this project is really a relic of mid-Victorian times. It is out-of-date. It started in the middle of the nineteenth century, but since then the world has moved, and the scheme is now out of keeping with the trend of things. We are asked to spend £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 or £40,000,000, tying up capital in an immobile project, burying it at a great depth under the sea, when, as the Prime Minister said just now, we all hope that in 10 years' time a great many more people will be taking to the air. We are asking the people to burrow under the earth like moles rather than to fly in the air like birds. Because the scheme seems to be dangerous from the 1710 point of view of defence, because it is weakly supported by economic arguments, and because it seems to be entirely antiquated and out-of-date, I agree with the Prime Minister that the case for it is not proven, and if this Motion goes to a Division I shall vote against it.
§ Mr. MANDER
I never expected to come into this House and hear a speech of high Toryism delivered by a Socialist Prime Minister. It is Toryism which is much too high, I believe, for most of the hon. Members who sit on this side of the House. Among the many unconvincing arguments which the Prime Minister used, the least convincing was his statement that the leaders of the three parties were unanimously agreed that the Tunnel ought not to be built. When we find the leaders of the three parties unanimous, there is good cause for the back benchers to be highly suspicious and to take things into their own hands. The report seems to be one of the most pitiable documents ever issued as a White Paper. Whoever wrote it—I do not know who it was, and I cannot think it was a member of the Government—had a highly-prejudiced mind and was determined, at all costs, to make out a case against the Tunnel. He has looked round in every direction and grasped at every little argument that would in any way tell against the Tunnel. It carries the policy of "Safety First" to such lengths that it is like a man saying, "I am never going out of doors again in case I may catch cold." It is an example of the most lamentable timidity.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said that those who were responsible for expressing the diplomatic point of view, and I suppose he meant the Foreign Secretary, were agreed that the Tunnel would not be of any help to us in foreign affairs, in fact, I think he said the tendency would be rather in the other direction. If that be so, we ought to be told by the Foreign Secretary why his hands will be tied, and why things will be made difficult from the international point of view if we have this Tunnel. The French Government, representing our nearest neighbours, are very keen on having the Tunnel built, and if we built it they would regard it as a very happy gesture. It would do nothing but good so far as the French Government are concerned. I hope the Minister 1711 of Transport, or some other Minister, will tell the House what are the real objections from the Foreign Office point of view, and not leave us with the mere ipse dixit of the Prime Minister's statement. Then the Prime Minister said that the cost might be very much greater than the £25,000,000 which had been estimated. It might be very much less if the Fougerolles process of extracting the mud, which would bring it out in the form of a liquid, were adopted. In that case the cost, would not be £25,000,000, but £18,000,000 only, and so there is a great deal to be said for the point of view that the present estimate is too high. The Prime Minister said there was no suggestion that there would be cheaper transport rates as the result of the Tunnel being constructed. Really, that is not the case. One passage in the report states:On the Channel routes imports largely exceed exports, and this might well prompt the companies operating the tunnel to offer specially attractive rates to exporters, more particularly as they might otherwise have to return trucks empty to the Continent.That is a definite suggestion of lower rates, cinch as would be of special benefit to the people of this country. Then the Prime Minister referred to the case of investments and used arguments which, if anyone less than the Prime Minister had used them, I should say were absurd and ludicrous. He suggested that because the Government were no longer going to place an embargo on the building of the Tunnel they would be responsible for every penny of finance and for any money that was invested. Let us follow that argument up. To brew beer in this country a man must obtain a licence and the State grants the licence. Has there ever been a suggestion that the Government are going to compensate the brewers or others who brew beer? That shows how ludicrous is the argument. [Interruption.] Dog racing did not require any Government licence. The Cinematograph Films Act was passed in 1927 and as a direct result of that Act, which instituted a quota of British films, a large number of companies were floated and large sums of money were invested, most of which has been lost. Have the Government any responsibility for that? It is perfectly ridiculous to suggest that the Government would have any liability 1712 whatever, particularly as in the beginning they could have it printed an every document that in no circumstances could the promoters have recourse to the Government for assistance. In the White Paper, there is a reference to a phrase used by the late Lord Balfour, who is reported to have said:So long as the ocean remains our friend, do not let us deliberately destroy its power to help us.That sentence is quoted in opposition to the Channel Tunnel, but Lord Balfour was a holder of 1,000 shares in the Channel Tunnel scheme of 1882 and 1885. In those circumstances Lord Balfour did not seem to be afraid of building the Tunnel, and, consequently, that argument must go by the board, and Lord Balfour cannot be quoted as anything but a supporter and not an opponent of the Tunnel. For the first time we have a definitely favourable report stating that the building of the Tunnel would be an economic advantage to the people of this country. That is very important, because it is the first time we have had such a report. It is true that, from the military point of view, it is said that they can see no advantage, but we have to inquire whether there are any insurmountable disadvantages. The military experts have made it clear that any military disadvantages can be dealt with by the expenditure of a certain sum of money. It has been suggested that if the scheme is held up because of the extra cost from a military point of view, it may be that those concerned will make themselves responsible for finding the extra money, and if that is the one thing which is holding up this scheme I hope it will not be allowed to continue, because the sum of £125,000 for 10 years would not be beyond the resources of those who are keen and anxious for this tunnel, and who believe that all those objections can be met.
If there is anything in the argument put forward from a military point of view what about the Simplon and other tunnels between Switzerland, Italy and France? You have a magnificent barrier in the Alps which protects various countries around the Alps, and they are able to carry on in spite of the fact that they have these terrible tunnels through the rocks allowing military access from one country to the other. If we had always been influenced by that sort of 1713 argument, there would never have been any Suez Canal or Panama Canal, and the various tunnels I have mentioned would never have been constructed. You cannot make any big change or advance without making some readjustment, or without treading on the toes of people in the immediate area concerned. The introduction of steam, electricity, or anything of that kind is bound to have a tremendous effect on certain people, and the shipping people and other interests are bound to suffer disadvantages, although on the other side advantages are assured.
It is suggested that the Tunnel should not be built because of the introduction of flying, to which, it, is contended, people are more likely to take in the near future. I know that the Prime Minister is prepared to fly on every possible occasion, but there are a great many people who will never fly. The committee considered this question from that point of view, and came definitely to the conclusion that there was never likely to be any competition for cross-Channel work between flying and other means of transport. Consequently, we can put that argument out of our consideration altogether. It is clear to every hon. Member of this House that the time is bound to come when there will be a tunnel under the Channel. Why should we go on holding up and obstructing the inevitable simply because we are saturated with the worst kind of conservatism, which does not allow us to make an advance of any kind until it is forced upon us? The Prime Minister has admitted that if a scheme of this kind were forced upon the Government, and they were driven to it, they would give way. I suggest that now is the time, in view of the changed atmosphere in these post-War days. The League of Nations desires to end war and bring nations together. The countries of the world are being brought closer together by wireless, flying and things of that kind, and I hope the hand of obstruction will not be held up any longer. I trust that the House will remove to-night the embargo which has been placed upon the construction of the Channel Tunnel.
§ Mr. BROCKWAY
I listened very carefully to the speech of the Prime Minister, because I gathered from the tone of his earlier answers to questions on this matter at the beginning of the 1714 Session that he was inclined to be favourable to this proposal. When the Government announced their decision, I felt that there must be some weighty economic reasons from their point of view. After listening to the speech of the Prime Minister, I am surprised by the weakness of the case which has been put forward from the Treasury Bench, and practically every argument which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward can be effectively controverted. The Prime Minister's first argument was that the nation itself ought not to take the risk of constructing the Channel Tunnel, or to issue a licence for capital to be invested in it, because of the risk that the Tunnel might prove to be impracticable. I do not pretend to be an expert in engineering, but I understand that in all cases of great and new engineering enterprises, there is always a strong element of doubt, and in this particular case all the data tend to show the continuousness of suitable strata for the Tunnel under the Channel. That is the view of Sir John Flett, the senior geologist of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, of Mr. John Pringle, M. Javary, and also of the official French report.
I do not think that the Prime Minister was quite accurate when he suggested that the total cost of the pilot tunnel must necessarily be lost in the unlikely event of the Tunnel proving impracticable. It is almost certain that any flaw in the strata would be discovered long before the total expenditure had been incurred. The Prime Minister urged that we must consider this matter from the point of view of national interests and that will be the manner in which many of us will consider this question in giving our votes to-night. We contend that if the Tunnel is to be built, it should be built by the State and with revenue supplied by the State. I imagine all the supporters of the Channel Tunnel on this side will agree with this statement. It is only because the Government themselves have been adamant in refusing to take that responsibility that we suggest that other methods of building the Tunnel might be attempted. Again, when the Prime Minister answered the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) by arguing that it would be bad to have capital invested from other countries, that again 1715 was only because of the view of the Government that the entire use of British capital would be bad for other aspects of British trade. I very much hope if this Tunnel is built it will be built by the State and under the control of the State. I am convinced that in the long run, on the experience of the Manchester and Liverpool Canal, the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, the State will have to assume responsibility for a tunnel of this character, if it is built.
Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to argue that the Tunnel would mean a, change in political relationships. So far as I can follow the argument, that change in political relationships should be welcomed by all those who desire to see peace in the world established on a firmer basis. The position of geographical isolation of this country is not one which we should welcome, but which we should seek to overcome. The greater the contact with other nations, the better for this nation and for the peace of the world. The theory of isolation has been carried to an extraordinary degree if we are to say that an improvement in the method of transport must be resisted because it will have brought Britain nearer to the countries of the Continent. We argue in favour of this Tunnel because we believe it to be an efficient means of transport, a ready and up-to-date means of transport and a development which is in line with all the progress of transport, despite the use of the air in modern times.
Then the Prime Minister went on to argue that there is an absence of enthusiasm among the commercial community and railway interests in favour of this scheme. In adopting that argument I agree with the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). He was proving himself a Conservative among Conservatives, because the only argument that can be asserted in its favour is upon a most extreme Conservative basis. The fear of the commercial interests is a fear of the imports from the Continent, but already the Channel trade is largely a trade of imports. The imports exceed the exports very largely, and the probable effect of a Channel Tunnel would be that the decreased freightage which would be likely to occur, because of the need to 1716 send back the trucks to the Continent, would mean an absolute encouragement to the exports of this country. The two trades of this country which export most to the Continent are, I believe, those of cotton and wool. A railway system linking up Lancashire and Yorkshire with the mouth of the Tunnel upon this side would be a tremendous impetus towards the extension of the sorely-hit trades of Lancashire and Yorkshire as far as these goods are concerned. Secondly, we are surely carrying protection to an extraordinary point when we say we are not to extend transport facilities with other countries because of the fear of the competition of their goods. I do not adopt the Free Trade view of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton. I take the view quite definitely that laissez faire in foreign trade is a survival of the last century. I do not accept that view, but I believe that if you could accept a system of import boards for the various industries, that would be an infinitely better method of preventing unfair undercutting in this country than to say we are not going to have the Channel Tunnel because of the competition of foreign goods.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)
The hon. Member must not discuss the respective merits of alternative fiscal policies.
§ Mr. BROCKWAY
Referring to the argument of the Prime Minister that the scheme would contribute very little towards the provision of employment, it would probably provide employment for 1,000 people in the first five years and for 6,000 people during the subsequent three years. When it is argued that road schemes would provide more employment, I suggest that the Channel Tunnel will not be effective unless it is extended in this country by road and railway development. If you have a Channel Tunnel and then a great national road scheme linking up that tunnel with tie centres of industry in this country, the total number of unemployed who might be provided with work by such a scheme is very considerable, and would be a definite contribution towards meeting the condition of unemployment which we have now. More than that, the extended trade which would almost certainly follow is another great argument in a similar direction.
1717 Finally, I want to turn my attention to the argument which the Prime Minister developed to some extent, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) developed to a greater extent, regarding the military case against the Tunnel—the fear of the Tunnel in the event of war. I would remind the right hon. Member for Chelsea that the Duke of Wellington considered the first railway between Portsmouth and London as a military menace. I suggest that we cannot possibly accept military fears of that character as an argument against the development of means of transport. Whatever might be the effect of the Tunnel in time of war, we would welcome the Tunnel because we believe it would be one contribution towards the prevention of war. It would mean closer contact between our people and Europe. A large number of our people are going to Europe for their holidays and that number would be extended. Not only are our people going to Europe, but, increasingly, European people are coming to this country, and it, would be possible with a tunnel so to advertise the attractions of this country that these visits from the Continent might be more greatly extended. When one adds to that the possibilities of the development of trade, we regard the building of the Tunnel as quite definitely a contribution to the prevention of war. Thus the issue really is whether the military mind or the mind of civilisation is to decide the future development of this country. The military mind, full of the fears of war, would not merely obstruct the Channel Tunnel which makes access from one country to another easier, but would set up barriers and obstructions of every kind to intercourse between the nations. We urge that that type of mind must be put behind us and we must look at this problem from the civilised point of view. Regarding it in that light, we welcome the proposal of a Channel Tunnel and hope that the majority of this House will vote in its favour.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
The only one argument I have ever heard in favour of the Tunnel is that no one wants to be seasick. If you eliminate that very natural feeling among hon. Members and the population generally, I think you will find certainly that there is no enthusiasm for the construction of the Tunnel and scarcely any support. Naturally all of us 1718 would much prefer not to be seasick and not to have the disagreeable inconvenience of transhipment from railway to boat, and boat to railway. With all respect to those who have spoken in favour of the project this evening, they have given no concrete reasons why it should be put through. They have talked of brotherly love, and my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) talked about fiscal matters, but of real, hard, bedrock facts we have heard nothing at all. Taking the military side, I ask the House what is the use of paying military experts, air experts, and naval experts huge sums of money—[Interruption.]—perhaps hon. Members will allow me to finish my sentence—unless you take their advice, or get rid of them and get others in their place? I suppose it would not be suggested that the House of Commons should decide the particular form of a battleship; obviously that must be left to the naval experts; and I submit that, as far as the Channel Tunnel is concerned, we should be very foolish to incur the extra expense—for that is what it means—of £5,000,000 for the necessary defence works, and not take the advice of the military people.
It is said that it would help good feeling between this country and France, but there may be circumstances in which it would have a distinctly harmful effect. Suppose that there were strained relations between this country and France. The man who had to decide whether the button should be pressed would be in a very difficult position indeed. The position might be critical. If he pressed the button, and the Tunnel were destroyed, obviously, in my opinion, that would mean war, because the French would say, quite rightly, that we did not trust them, and that would be the signal for the outbreak of hostilities. If, on the other hand, he refrained too long, all the defences would be in vain, and this country would have been landed into great danger.
To turn to another aspect, take the question of unemployment. At the beginning of the discussions, a year or two ago, this was going to solve the problem of unemployment. [Interruption.] It was said in the Press. What is the concrete fact? I will not weary the House by going into the whole details, 1719 but the amount of money that would be spent on a Channel Tunnel would give less than half the employment that the same amount of money would give if it were spent on roads. Are we going in for a thing which is very problematical from the military point of view, and very doubtful from the trade point of view, when, if we spent the same amount of money on roads, we should give more than twice the amount of employment to those who are out of work? [Interruption.] Hon. Members must look at this question from a national point of view, and not from the purely local point of view. I wonder how many hon. Members here who support the project would put £100 into it? That, after all, is the great test of whether you really support a thing or not. If you think a horse is going to win, are you going to back it? Will hon. Members put their money into it? I see not the slightest chance of anyone who puts money into it, unless they go in in order to get out at a profit, getting any return.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
Is not the real question whether we are not preventing other people from putting their money into it? That is what is bothering me.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
What is bothering me is that my right hon. Friend might be induced to put his own money into it, in consequence of his youthful enthusiasm. Seriously, a capital expenditure of anything from £40,000,000 to £42,000,000, with an annual cost of between £500,000 and £1,000,000, surely can hardly ever be justified by the traffic. Let the new air services be remembered. I speak with great diffidence in the presence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), but I expect he would not contradict me when I say that, within the next 10, 15, or 20 years, we shall see an enormous increase in the number of passengers carried from this country to Paris, and further, by air; and all those passengers will be carried at the expense of the Channel Tunnel if it is built. The Channel Tunnel will not come into existence for another 10 or 12 years at the very earliest, and by then the full competition of the air services will be felt.
Then, would anyone tell me that, if you increase the facilities and comforts 1720 for passengers going abroad from this country, you will not tempt British holiday makers to go abroad and spend their holidays instead of spending them in Hastings, Bournemouth, Brighton or other seaside resorts in this country? Of course you will, and, after all, rightly or wrongly, we do not have casinos in this country, and, rightly or wrongly, we have very strict licensing laws, while the amenities of holiday making abroad are as a general rule very much superior to the amenities of holiday making at home. Anyhow, in my opinion, for every American who comes into this country you will lose two Britishers.
It is really, however, the question of trade that bothers me most. I think it was the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway) who said, and with great truth, that for every three tons of foreign goods coming in from the Continent by the Dover and Folkestone routes, only one ton of British goods goes out. That is nearly all luxury trade. If the contention of the supporters of this Motion be true, that the construction of the Tunnel will increase the facilities for goods traffic, it simply means that more luxury goods will come into this country at the expense of luxury providers in this country, and we shall be sending out of this country more money for luxuries than we are at present. I take it that the House would not approve of that. We want to keep as much money as we can in this country, and, if it is to be spent abroad, to spend it, not on luxuries, but on raw materials for our industries. It is no doubt the farmers who will be hit the hardest, and they are very much upset at the idea. They find it hard enough at present to compete with grapes, tomatoes, and other things sent into this country by foreign growers, but if we are going to have, as some hon. Members want, State-subsidised traffic to cut them out in their own markets, they will not thank us for proposing that. Undoubtedly, whatever hon. Members may think, there in no enthusiasm for this project in the trade, industry and commerce of this country. They are waiting for a lead. But a very significant resolution was passed two or three days ago by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. After making certain comments, it concluded thus: 1721So long as British manufacturers are largely precluded from Continental trade by the imposition of high tariffs, any additional facilities, where effective, are more likely to assist the foreign trader.That means that a Channel Tunnel would undoubtedly assist the foreign trader in his competition with our own people in this country, and for that reason I shall oppose the Motion.
§ Mr. NOEL BAKER
I think it has been proved by the debate, as I think it was proved by the Blue Book prepared by the Commission set up by the late Government, that the economic case for this proposal is overwhelming. I do not desire to cite the terms of paragraph 136 of that report, but I commend it to hon. Members who are in doubt. It is equally clear to my intelligence that the engineering case in favour of this plan is stronger than the engineering case in favour of almost any other considerable public work of the kind that has ever been proposed. It is clear to me, from personal experience in many parts of Europe over a considerable period of years, that if the Tunnel were built, it would have the effect of bringing far more people to this country than it took Englishmen abroad, for the admirable reason, which no one will dispute, that foreigners are more afraid of the sea than we are. For these reasons, I desire to address myself solely to one aspect of the matter. If the documents on this subject are read with care, it appears that the only significant argument that is adduced is the military argument. I have studied them with the utmost care, and I am forced with an impartial mind to that conclusion. There are certain considerations which ought to dominate our policy which are different from the considerations that were relevant to that policy half a century ago, and which suggest that what was right then would be a mistake at present.
Let us consider what is the military risk involved. The military risk, which has been stressed by the Prime Minister, who says the old military arguments hold good, and which has been stressed from the Front Opposition bench, is that we shall not be able to defend a hole in the ground 18 feet across, that in time of profound peace a dastardly attack will be made by our neighbour, France, to whom we are bound by ties of interest and 1722 friendship, by common membership of the League of Nations and by trade obligations of many kinds, that in time of profound peace France will be able to arrange a plan by which she will seize the near end of the Channel and will be able to transport through it, before we can do anything, a large army, and that all the means of destruction and defence which we are able to devise will fail in the moment of crisis. In the first place, military opinion has never been united. As long ago as 1882 the Government set up a military Commission to study the matter. It reported that there were various means of defence that might be taken. A portcullis might be made. The Tunnel might be filled with poison gas. The land portion of it might be mined. The sea portion of it might be fitted with sluices for temporary flooding. There might be other sluices for permanent flooding. We can have the control of these devices by electrical machinery from a distant point. When the Commission reported, the Adjutant-General of the day was not satisfied that this means of defence would be adequate to safeguard the national security, but the Surveyor-General of Ordnance, another eminent military authority, was so satisfied that he used these words:Nothing was more obvious than the facility with which the Tunnel could be denied to an enemy by means which no vigilance on his part could prevent or remove.Moved by such considerations, Mr. Gladstone on one side, and Lord Salisbury on the other, were both in favour of the Tunnel, believing that no military risk was involved. From a, purely technical military point of view the means of defence have enormously improved. The technique of electrical control, the technique of explosives, the technique of experience of mining, the technique of poison gas has been enormously improved and I cannot resist the conclusion that, whatever the experts may say, to the ordinary man who looks at this from the detached point of view of the average citizen the military risk in this 18 foot hole is negligibly small. When the right hon. Gentleman objects from the Front Opposition Bench that we should at the moment of crisis be embarrassed in our relations with France, and that we should have to decide whether or not we should blow the Tunnel up and, if we did it, that 1723 would create a position of intolerable strain, it would be very easy for us, not to blow up the Tunnel but to drop a steel portcullis and we should be as safe as if no tunnel had ever been built.
On the other hand, against this risk, which I think is not very great, there is surely a counterbalancing consideration. It is the diminution of the danger that blockade would mean. That is incomparably the greatest military danger which this country has to face. We are dependent on our communications with the outer world as no nation in history has ever been dependent before. We are dependent for food. We have only six weeks' supply. Lord Jellicoe has told us how impossible our position is if our sea routes are closed. Nothing we can do can prolong that period of six weeks. We are dependent for raw material on our general trade, and for the making of munitions. We should be paralysed in our economic life, and in the field of battle, if our sources of raw material were cut off. Above all, we are dependent upon foreign supplies for the motive power of war. How is war conducted? Our Army, Navy and Air Force are dependent on oil, and the oil must come from abroad. We very nearly failed to keep our communications open in 1917. In the month of April in that year, when the Germans launched their submarine assault, in a single fortnight 122 vessels were sunk, and 25 per cent. of the vessels that left our ports were sunk before they returned home. I know that was before the convoy system and that ultimately the convoy system defeated the submarine method, but at that time we had absolute mastery of the surface of the sea. Submarines could not attack without coming to the surface. In any future war the conditions are going to be very different. In any future serious war of the kind contemplated in the hypotheses upon which this proposal is rejected, we cannot, as we could in 1917, count upon the absolute mastery of the surface of the sea. We know now that listening devices have so improved that, instead of working against the submarine, they work in its favour, and that submarines can now attack without coming to the surface at all. General Rose, who was the chief of the Air Staff in 1918, has said that the air menace to our merchant-men in the 1724 narrow seas is very great. We know that there is also a grave menace from air attacks against our ports. Surely it is the path of wisdom to see if we cannot find some other means than sea routes by which we can bring supplies to our shores. When Marshal Foch said, as he did in 1922, that if the Tunnel had been made it would have shortened the duration of the War by half its length, that is a lesson for us now, and, if anything is plain, it is that, if we have another war, I believe it might well occur that it will be a priceless advantage to us to have real communication with the Mediterranean ports or other parts of Europe, and it is a challenge to common sense that the making of the Tunnel would not diminish the risk of our defeat by blockade, which is the gravest of all the risks that we have to face.
Let us neglect that advantage and look simply at the risk which opponents of the proposal see. Let us compare it with other similar works which have been carried out in Europe. Europe is a net work of international railways and of international tunnels. The arguments which have been used against the Channel Tunnel would be decisive against every international railway or tunnel on the Continent. The hon. Member who spoke from below the Gangway stated the opinion of the Duke of Wellington. Surely, if the general staff of European nations had accepted those arguments, which seem decisive to our Front Benches to-night, there would be, in every country in Europe, a different railway gauge. One nation did accept such advice. It was Spain. Spain has a different gauge, and the Spanish people have regretted it bitterly ever since. Thank God in our own interests, and in the interests of the Continent as a whole, these arguments are not accepted! It is plain that an international railway does increase the risk of invasion if you are talking in those terms, and still more so an international tunnel.
Let us look for a moment at the action of Switzerland about two generations ago. Switzerland had in her Alps a protection far greater than that which the Channel gives to us. The technical means of destruction at her disposal were far less. The danger of aggressive use against her was far greater. She had to take a decision in 19th century condi- 1725 tions, when there was no League of Nations and no Kellogg Pact for the renunciation of international war. What would we have said if the Swiss people had turned down those schemes? What would it have meant to the prosperity of Europe and to the civilisation of the West if they had taken such a decision? Fortunately, they did not, and we say on our side that what Switzerland could do in the 19th century in conditions of international antagonism we can do to-day.
If we reject this proposal on military grounds—and if we reject it, I submit that it will be on these grounds—I can foresee two political results of the most unhappy kind. The first is the prevention of the expansion of international intercourse, of which much mention has been made to-night, by which general progress and general prosperity have in the past been attained, and by which it may still be attained in the future. I will read the concluding words of paragraph 136 in the Blue Book, which says:Taken together, these improvements have during the last 80 years revolutionised all forms of communication, and the period as a whole was characterised, not by losses due to their introduction, but rather by general economic progress unequalled in previous experience.In the second place—and to my mind it is much the most serious consideration in the whole matter—whether we like it or not, if we rule out this plan on military grounds, we shall be striking a very serious blow at the international confidence and trust which we are now striving laboriously to create. This assumption of an attack in times of peace by France is a dangerous one to make. If we are going to say that, in spite of the League of Nations, in spite of the Kellogg Pact, in spite of the Locarno Treaty and the Optional Clause and the General Act and all the rest, we are still expecting such an attack by France, and that we think it so likely that we cannot take this very small risk which is involved by this hole in the ground; if we cannot do what the Swiss did two generations ago at far greater risk to themselves, the world will come to the conclusion that we are still hag-ridden by the war psychology of the past. We shall probably find that our declarations against war will fail of their purpose.
It is in the general confidence that the great nations mean to observe treaties 1726 against war and expect their neighbours to observe them, that the real barrier against war is to be found. If our confidence cannot stand this test, if we once undermine that confidence, we may be certain that not much of our structure of peace will long remain. If we cannot stand this test the other nations will judge us by that fact. We shall very gravely diminish the powers of our nation to give us the means for peace, and I fear that this tiny hole in the ground, grown monstrous in our hypnotised imagination, may well prive to be symbolical of the grave of all our hopes of peace.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Major HILLS
I am not a military expert, and I propose to deal with the military side of this scheme very shortly. I do not know, and I cannot assess the military advantages or disadvantages of the Channel Tunnel. The military question has to be weighed carefully, and I believe it has been weighed very carefully by the Prime Minister. I want to ask a question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry (Mr. Noel Baker). Assume the case of the Tunnel being built, and assume the other end of the Tunnel being in the possession of a country, both powerful and hostile, would there not arise in this country a, great feeling of unsettlement, and would not that lead inevitably to three things—increased expenditure, increased armaments and embittered relations? It is all very well for hon. Members to express sincere words of peace, as did the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway) and the hon. Member for Coventry, and to talk as though the case for peace is all on one side. I shall try to prove that it is not. So much for the military arguments. I would only say that there would in this country be grave disquiet in this House if the conditions I have outlined existed.
But I am told that war is now remote, and has been pushed so far away that we need not bother about it, and that the Tunnel will add to the security of peace. I wonder if that is so. A tunnel may add to the safety of communications but I have never found that the obstacles to peace are time and space. A far greater obstacle than time and space is language, and the great obstacle to European peace, in my judgment, is the absence of a common language. I am sure that many hon. Members of this House have been 1727 in the same position as I have been in at international conferences and realised that the very great difficulty of exchanging one's opinion with a member of a foreign race is that one may speak his language too badly to give full expression to one's views. I do not believe that obliterating time and space will increase the peace of the world. I see no signs of it, and I do not believe that it will do so in the future.
The third point, after the military point and the point of peace, is the point of commerce. When the Tunnel is built, our commercial future as far as Channel trade is concerned must be in the hands of France. We put much bigger stakes on the table than France does. If the Tunnel is to be a success, and I assume for the purposes of argument that it can be built and be made a success, it will carry from this country far more than our trade with France. It will carry our trade with Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Therefore, the Tunnel will carry a large part of our European trade. France will be concerned only with French trade with us. Supposing that France proposes a discrimination in favour of French trade, to interfere with the trade that we want to carry on with different parts of Europe, or she says that unless we enter into some one-sided bargain, she will restrict our trade. The French are very good friends of ours, and I have great respect for them—I have many friends in France—but I have never known the French to be backward in commercial bargains. In a commercial bargain they usually try to get all the advantage on their side.
We have been told that we can sign a commercial treaty with France. No doubt a convention could be signed, but what is the weapon against breach? You can denounce a convention, but you cannot denounce a convention with a solid tunnel there, going on to French soil for all time. You cannot or you would not blow it up. You cannot shift it to Belgium. It is there, fixed, and the French know that it is fixed. The trade that we have to send to the Continent in so far as we use the Tunnel must go through that Tunnel. Therefore, we put up far greater stakes than France, and 1728 we are liable to be held up at any time. Does the hon. Member for Coventry want to put the commercial future of this country entirely in the hands of France? Has he not any sort of doubt in regard to that matter? How would he prevent discrimination, which could only be obviated by abolishing the Tunnel or by——
§ Mr. NOEL BAKER
My reply to that question is, that France and ourselves are parties to an international convention which was made at the Conference at Barcelona in 1921. Under that Convention the traffic would be regulated in accordance with the general principles which they and we have accepted, and which would prevent discrimination against us.
§ Major HILLS
That will not do. You can have a convention and you can have as many written words as you like, but no written words can change the fact that the Tunnel is there for all time. We shall be, in this island, married to France, and from that marriage there will be no divorce. I am met with the question, how can I justify making a tunnel through the Alps. With all respect, the two things are not in the least parallel. Switzerland has frontiers with Italy, Bavaria and France. She cannot be held up. Switzerland does not put her trade into the power of any one country. She can send her trade all around her by these different tunnels. She is not in the position that we should be in. So far as our Tunnel trade is concerned, we should be entirely in the hands of France. Surely, hon. Members must see that a canal is a different matter. It joins two oceans, which are free to all, but by means of the Tunnel we shall be joining one country to another, fixedly. I believe that there are certain advantages in being an island, and certain advantages in being continental, but I can see no advantage in being an island and in being fixed to one country on the Continent by a tunnel, and that a country which has been always rather grasping in commercial bargains.
It is not as if the Channel Tunnel was the only means of getting through trade. A far better means than a tunnel for through trade is a train ferry. Train ferries can be directed to any country within reason, and if we were held up commercially by one country very small 1729 expense would be involved in shifting the terminus of the train ferry to some other country. By that means we should get through transport of goods far cheaper and just as effectively as by a tunnel.
I have been deluged, and I suppose other hon. Members have been deluged, by a series of cartoons depicting in a humorous way the state of mind of those who are opposed to the Tunnel. I will not go into the justice or injustice of that matter. I am quite content to be called all the names that people like to call me, but when I see certain propaganda either for or against a measure I suspect some commercial interest. I cannot believe that all that expense is incurred from patriotic motives. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Nottingham lace?"j I do not wear Nottingham lace, I am concerned about the Channel Tunnel. I see signs of a big campaign to persuade us to vote in a certain way, and I am not sure that that campaign is disinterested. I am certain that no Meanber of this House has any part or lot in this business, but I am sure that there are people in this country whose interest it is that the House should vote in a certain direction. The House must be very careful before it does that.
My answer to those who send me post cards to prove that I have a Victorian mind, is to say that they are not moving with the times. All through history the faster transport has beaten the slower. Whatever its expense and whatever its danger, the quicker vessel always has ousted the slower. The air will oust the railway. If you want to build a Channel Tunnel, I say that you are 20 or 30 years too late. Many hon. Members have no doubt crossed the Channel by air and looked down from a height of some 6,000 feet on that little strip of water which under a grey sky looks almost like a strip of dirty drugget. Will they suggest that we should spend some £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 in burrowing under it? How foolish we shall look in 10 years' time!
Hon. Members opposite pretend to be in the van of progress and amity, and democracy, as the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) said. Democracy sometimes has sorry champions. The project will do nothing to increase amity; it will only lead to a great deal of 1730 friction and difficulty. Neither will it assist our trade in the least. I have not dealt with particular trades or with the position of our South Coast towns, who would find their clientele attracted away. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] Oh yes they would; to French towns which are cheaper, and shall I say less restricted or shall I say more wicked? On the broad and larger issues of trade we should be always bargaining at a disadvantage with France, and in the end we should get the worst of it. Lastly, we shall look very foolish if we spend all this money and at the end of 10 years, when air transport is more efficient and has a far greater performance, we find the trains of the Channel Tunnel running empty while overhead the air lines, free to all, are used for carrying both passengers and goods.
§ Captain HAROLD BALFOUR
I have listened with considerable interest to this debate because I have the honour to represent a constituency which is affected more than any other constituency, in two ways. I have more concentrated holiday resorts within the square miles of the proposed Tunnel than any locality in England. The right hon. and gallant Member for Christchurch (Colonel Ashley) made a most amazing statement and one which I think after due reflection he will regret. He said that the holiday resorts of France were in every way more attractive than those in this country. That is a form of mental snobbery which is very hard to conceive. The right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) spoke of those who supported the Channel Tunnel as having in their minds the relics of Victorianism, but I have never beard anything to equal the relics of Edwardianism as the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for Christchurch.
When I approached the consideration of this Channel Tunnel very seriously, I was at first prejudiced against it. When I started my study of the subject I dealt with two assumptions, the assumption of finance and the assumption of feasibility. On the assumption of finance I agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander), that in giving a licence the Government do not take any responsibility. When they give a licence for the consumption of liquid refreshments they do not take any responsi- 1731 bility. They give a licence, and it is then for the public to consider whether or not they will accept or reject the proposition put before them. With regard to feasibility, that has had doubts cast upon it to-day and in the propaganda which has been going on against this project. I would only recommend any hon. Member who has doubts of the feasibility to read the life of Lord Cowdray by Mr. Spender. He would find the most wonderful lesson of how a man triumphed over every difficulty. He will learn something of the spirit which led Lord Cowdray to design a tunnel under the Hudson River to New Jersey, where, if you drive at under 35 miles an hour the police stop and fine you. I can only recommend doubters to study those lessons of the past, and perhaps those who are faint-hearted will then get courage.
Having dealt with those two assumptions, feasibility and finance, I want to turn to two other aspects of the proposition. The first is defence, and the second is the economic aspect. As regards defence I was amazed to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea, under whom I had the honour of serving, quoting those who have been the heads of what I consider to be, as an exponent of the air, the vested interests of the older services. Were I an opponent of the proposition about which the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, I should rather have cited those whom I had learned to work with and support, than those whom I regard almost as my natural enemies. I submit that it is not a question of the defence of the Channel, but a question of how the Channel could be blocked in case of war by the quickest possible means with the least possible damage. It is not a question of defence, because I could guarantee that with a sufficient number of night bombing squadrons, quite independent and fearless and interceptor fighters, you could certainly destroy either channel end of the Tunnel if you desired.
Air offence is the deciding factor in the destruction of the Channel Tunnel. The problem is not defence but destruction. The proposition has been put forward that the Tunnel might be divided roughly into sections A, B and C, and that you 1732 should either blow up section B, leaving A and C alone, or block Section B, which is probably the more feasible. The right hon. Gentleman said it was a Cheerful prospect. It is very much better that one should face the possible issues than deal with them in a sentimental elysium. The destruction of the Tunnel need not prevent us going forward with the project. If it is a danger in war equally it is an ally in peace, and equally it is an ally in the case of war should France chance to be co-operating with us in such an event. I consider that we have already lost our naval supremacy, and therefore the Channel Tunnel cannot do us any harm as regards the defence of the Channel, because the air is the deciding factor. The air will govern in the next war, and really the Navy is already obsolete.
As regards the economic side of this issue, we ought to ask ourselves this question. Do we win or lose from the economic aspect? I submit that both as regards tourist traffic, and trade generally, we should win. One might imagine from the speeches which we have heard to-night that nobody had ever crossed the Channel before. The problem has been approached as if the passenger boats were not carrying people every day, but if people want to cross the Channel they will do so even at the present time. I admit that there is the deterrent of mal de mer The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon spoke of the absence of a common language but there is one common language when crossing the Channel, irrespective of nationality. As I say, however, people will cross the Channel if they want to, and the proposition is that we should make it more possible and easier for people to do so. In my constituency we get thousands and thousands of holiday makers from all parts of England. I went to some trouble to study the pros and cons of this question, in conjunction with people in my constituency, and the argument that there are 450,000,000 inhabitants in Northern Europe compared with 45,000,000 in this country, a proportion of 10 to 1, was the argument which finally carried weight with those who had previously been against this project.
I turn again to the point on which I have touched already, namely the assumption that our holiday resorts are not as good as and better than those on 1733 the other side of the Channel. People take their pleasures in different ways and have different tastes, but I submit that in spite of laws and restrictions which we would like to see cancelled or eased at certain times, there is no better holiday than the holiday, not at the Casino, but the quiet, peaceful, happy holiday at Margate. Perhaps to complete the education of the right hon. Gentleman, after he Las been to Margate, he could go on to Broadstairs and Ramsgate and then to Westgate and Birchington, and, possibly, his education will then have been completed away from his own Division which probably is rather narrow in its outlook. Those who are the backbone of trade in my Division feel that they will not lose by the existence of a Channel Tunnel, because those who desire a quiet holiday, without the complications of the language difficulty, will be able still to come to our English resorts, whereas a certain number of the 450,000,000 from Northern Europe will undoubtedly come to England to find some peace from the distractions of the Casino and the café.
The British nation is under a great obligation to the seaside resorts of England and if there is one slogan which I would have in industry to-day, it is that better health means better work, and the worst possible form of false economy would be to cut down the holidays of the industrial workers of this country. As regards trade, generally, I support the proposition of a Channel Tunnel. I am convinced that given certain factors it would do no harm to trade or to the agricultural industry of this country. We have heard a great deal about early vegetables, but I submit that this would be the first and the best opportunity of introducing what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite desire to see, namely, prohibition of imports, so that the producer of vegetables in this country should not be penalised by the difference in climate between this country and European countries. I submit also, as regards trade, that if the project is coupled with a strong policy of safeguarding the British worker, against the unfair competition of foreign goods, no harm would come from a Channel Tunnel and the freer trade it would bring. We have heard of the Victorian mentality, but I say that the prejudices 1734 and pruderies of the 19th century should not let the ostrich mentality continue in this House any longer.
§ The MINISTER of TRANSPORT (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
We have had a very interesting debate on a matter of considerable importance, and I propose, in the time that remains, to summarise the case for the Government. It was inevitable that many hon. Members, in supporting the proposal for a Channel Tunnel, should concentrate upon the military and diplomatic aspects of the matter. It will be remembered by the House that the Prime Minister did not rest his case primarily upon military, political, or diplomatic considerations. He rested his case primarily upon the economic, business, and financial aspects concerned. He certainly indicated that there were strong military problems which faced anybody who had to come to a decision upon this matter.
It is not for me to deal with the military aspect—I am not competent to do so; it is not my Department, and it is not in my line—but it is perfectly clear that hon. Members arguing the military case in opposition to the view that the Government are taking are in a much more advantageous and free position to state their views than the Government possibly can be in stating their arguments on the other side. Therefore, I would ask the House, in assessing the balance of arguments upon that aspect, to take into account that it is clear that Ministers cannot argue across the Floor details of matters which must inevitably remain secret in character and which involve relationships with other States. I only ask that in assessing that aspect of the matter, with which I do not deal, the House should recognise the fact that the pro-Tunnel people must be in an argumentative advantage on that point so far as freedom of debate and discussion is concerned.
I would like to suggest to my hon. Friends that there is just a little danger of some of them thinking that, because the soldiers are apprehensive about the proposal, that is a conclusive argument as to why we should support it, and I submit that that would be misleading and unwise as a conclusion. Another argument has been used, that the Government are taking, not in a 1735 political sense, but in a literal sense, a conservative attitude. I do not agree at all. A question of this sort must be settled as a matter of fact; it must be argued as a matter of fact. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] As one who has listened throughout to this debate, I venture to say that the great bulk of what has been said in support of this project has not been based upon fact, but has been based upon generalisations and upon, I will not say sentimentality, but somewhat idealistic considerations; and if there was ever a proposition which should be settled as a business proposition, it is this proposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] When I have given hon. Members who support this proposal business, economic, and transport arguments on it which they have not faced, I hope they will cheer me as loudly at the end as they are cheering me at the present moment.
If it is wrong to appear to be conservative upon a matter, may I say that there is nobody more conservative than the man who says, "Because this is a new thing and has not been done before, I am going to support it"? No more inverse Toryism and Conservatism could be found that that particular argument. I only say that it is somewhat being assumed, and we must beware, in rejecting the Conservatism in ourselves, against becoming guilty of rule-of-thumb reasoning by assuming that, because the proposal is to do something that we have not done before, it must be right. I come back to the point that we have to settle this as a matter of fact, of economic fact and of transport fact, and I appeal as a Socialist to my hon. Friends to revive their Socialist economics, and to judge this on the basis of Socialist economics, and not be led too far by Sir William Bull, the late Conservative Member for South Hammersmith. Let us therefore eliminate these points of Conservatism and anti-Conservatism, and let us get at the facts.
§ Mr. JAMES GARDNER
May I ask my hon. Friend how we are to come to a conclusion upon these facts when in his opening remarks he hinted that there were facts that could not be disclosed?
§ Mr. MORRISON
That is a totally irrelevant interruption. I am not now dealing 1736 with the military aspect; I am now arguing the economic and business points of view. [Interruption.] I have listened to the speeches without interruption, and we need not turn this debate into the atmosphere of a street-corner meeting. It was urged by my hon. Friend the Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway) that the Channel Tunnel would bring a ray of hope to Lancashire and Yorkshire, but really that is absurd. The export trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire does not come through London to the Channel; it does not go the longest way, but gets to the sea as quickly as it can, and goes by boat. I want to recall to the House that even though at this point State capital and State money may not be involved, those of us who take the Socialist view of the problem cannot say that because private capital to the extent of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 is to be invested in the project, it is a matter of indifference to us whether that capital is profitably or unprofitably invested. I do not take the Tory view upon this matter, but the Socialist view that the investment of large masses of capital on a large economic project of this sort, whether that capital be State or private capital, is a matter of real interest to the masses of people and to the State as a whole. I beg my hon. Friends not to take the view that, because at this stage it is not State capital, it does not matter whether the money is lost or saved. It does matter whether the capital resources of the country, private or public, are invested in useful works or on works which are not useful. Again, therefore, I would stress the point that we have to make up our minds whether this will be advantageous or not. The Motion assumes that the Tunnel should be a private undertaking. It is a private enterprise Motion. My own feeling is that if and when the Tunnel is constructed it ought to be constructed by the State, or by this State in association with another State. In an adventure of this sort it would not be wise to leave it entirely to private capital or, indeed, to leave it to private capital at all.
Let us go through the economic arguments which can be adduced. There is, first, the argument about employment. I quite agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) did not stress this argument. He agreed that it 1737 was not a material factor in his opinion. It has been argued, however, that the Tunnel would stimulate employment by finding work on the Tunnel itself. The report, a favourable report, clearly shows that, so far as employment is concerned, there is very little in the scheme; and against that we have to put the possible displacement of workpeople employed on passenger services on the short sea routes, the limitation of, if not the very great injury to, the interests of Dover harbour and Folkestone harbour, in which labour is involved, and the decreasing employment amongst seafarers employed upon these services. So far as employment is concerned I suggest that there is nothing at all in the argument. I should think on balance there would not be so much employment. I do not say that that argument condemns the scheme. It is one of the possible processes of rationalisation.
§ Mr. MORRISON
That is all right, as long as my hon. Friend will be consistent about rationalisation. People argue on one side of the fence one day and on the other side the next. The probability is that in the long run there would be a decrease of employment, so far as transport is concerned, rather than an increase.
The next question is, How will it affect British trade? We are not dealing with the total export trade of Great Britain, but with a limited amount of trade which is concentrated on the ports of Dover, Folkestone, Newhaven and perhaps Harwich, and in this particular avenue of trade, so far as transport is concerned, the case is against and not for. In 1927 the imports at Dover, Folkestone and Newhaven were valued at £32,683,000, British exports amounted to £9,108,000, and the re-exports to £7,380,000; so that there is a very great preponderance of imports as against exports. The question arises, Would the construction of the Tunnel alter that balance of trade? I say all the evidence goes to show that it would not alter it, but, if anything, increase the possibility of perishable goods coming to this country with greater ease in competition with our own products. I do not press this point beyond that, but I do say that it cannot be argued that the construction of the Tunnel is a direct and clear advantage to British trade.
1738 So far as the passenger services are concerned, the tendency for passengers to visit Continental countries on holiday inclines to increase. In many ways we are glad that that should be so. The continental visitors to this country appears to be stationary, although in some years there has been a decrease. [Interruption.] It may be desirable that our people should go to the Continent for their holidays. I am not arguing whether people ought to go abroad or come to England, but I am arguing that, whether it is an economic advantage or a disadvantage, the movement of passenger traffic does not afford a tittle of evidence in favour of the Channel Tunnel.
I am giving the House the facts, and you do not upset facts by ignoring them. We must remember that, in so far as the Tunnel traffic develops, the seaborne traffic would be affected to that extent. It has been said that the Prime Minister was wrong when he stated that there was no question of the State incurring any liability. I will deal with that question, but it is really beside the point for the hon. Member for Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander) to say that because the State issues a brewer's licence, a public-house licence, or a cinema licence, it is incurring no liability, and that the State would be in exactly the same position if it issued a licence for the construction of the Channel Tunnel.
I would point out to the hon. Member that the State does not give a licence for the construction of a railway. What happens in that case is that this House passes a Private Bill, and that is not the same thing. In any question of international importance the Government must have a voice, and in this case the Government ought to say whether the Tunnel should be built or not. That is why the question has come before the House of Commons to-night. The issuing of a licence for the construction of the Channel Tunnel bears no relation whatever to the issuing of a public house licence or a cinema licence. Very special considerations apply to the construction of the Channel Tunnel. What do we know as to the certainty of the project being successful? There are no engineering facts to make us certain of knowing that the Channel Tunnel can be successfully constructed. It is said that 1739 £5,600,000 should be spent in order to construct a Pilot Tunnel after which there would be some reasonable certainty as to whether the scheme should be proceeded with. I submit that even after this £5,600,000 has been expended and there is still uncertainty as to whether it is successful or not, the question arises whether a further number of millions of pounds should be spent in order to complete the certainty as to whether it can be done. Will every hon. Member put his hand on his heart and say that if private enterprise has to find more money he will not press the Government of the day to find those other millions in order that the inquiry may be finished? If private capital, pursuant to a decision of Parliament, comes forward with the construction of the Tunnel, gets into the middle of the construction, meets difficulties which have not been anticipated—and that is quite possible—and finds that the expenditure will be substantially beyond the estimates, and says that as a commercial proposition the thing cannot be done, will every hon. Member say he will not press on the Government of that time the argument that here is a job which is half done, into which millions have been put and which requires more capital, and that, therefore, the Government of the day ought to find the additional capital required in order to get private enterprise out of its difficulties? The House knows perfectly well that enormous pressure would be brought to bear upon the Government of the day in order to make up that financial position, and it is really preposterous to say that there is no question, by the passing of this resolution or of a Bill, of any material liability falling on the State at all.
One has to take into account the effect upon other means of transport. Merely to add to the means of transport, without necessarily improving the efficiency of transport as a whole, is not an economic thing to do. It has not been claimed, and it cannot be claimed, that there are transport advantages in the scheme, in my judgment. Is it argued that the cost of transport is going to be cheapened by this proposal? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes"1 Well, the report did not say so. The report assumed that, at best, the rates will not go up—that is all. The report assumed that the traffic 1740 rates would remain where they are, and that is in accordance with the evidence which the Committee received, and with the facts. Therefore, it cannot be argued for one moment that the construction of the Tunnel will reduce transport charges, and I venture to say that that is a material consideration.
Secondly, will it so reduce the time of transport that there is a great advantage? There is very little in reduction in time in the transport, especially if you allow for the fact that with electric traction there must be a change of engine at both ends of the Tunnel. The saving in time will be very little. Further, the range of cities and areas which are going to be covered is bound to be very limited, so that a great part of our export trade would still go by sea. Certainly the heavy goods exported will go by sea, because in all probability that would be cheaper than rail transport. I suggest that the only transport advantage of which we can be reasonably certain is that people will not be seasick. That really is the only clear transport advantage. I venture to say that the avoidance of seasickness has more energy behind this agitation than anything else. Nobody who has been seasick badly would enthusiastically vote against a Channel Tunnel, but with great respect I cannot see that the expenditure of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 is warranted upon the ground of the avoidance of seasickness, especially allowing for the fact that many people get railway sick, particularly in tunnels.
There are economic disadvantages for which you have to allow. There are the shipping routes which are going to be damaged. I will not say it is conclusive that they ought not to be, but they will be, and you must put that against any advantages you get. Further, there are the harbours on the short sea routes which have to be taken into account. I submit to the House that those are the real business, transport and economic arguments which have to be taken into account, and that in the course of this debate those points have not been upset by the supporters of a Channel Tunnel. I submit that the economic case for a Tunnel has not in any way been proved, that it has not even been argued, and that the House is asked to vote on a theoretical abstraction without any substantial argument at all.
1741 My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Noel Baker) quoted paragraph 136 of the Report. I invite hon. Members to read paragraph 136 of the Report. There is not a single solid economic argument in paragraph 136; it is an entirely theoretical paragraph, and has no substance of fact in it whatever. The fact that we should have to wait 10 or 12 years to complete the Tunnel is a fact of material importance. I, at any rate, cannot ignore the development of air transport. It is all very well to laugh at air transport, or to assume that it is not going to develop so far as to become a severe competitor with railways, and even with shipping, in foreign trade. Air transport is materially increasing, and those of us who know of the progress of motor traffic are not inclined to say that it is impossible for air transport to revolutionise the whole traffic situation, so far as certain Continental trade is concerned, within a reasonable number of years.
For the reasons which I have indicated, and which I submit are solid reasons, the economic reasons, and business reasons, which have not been controverted by any Member in the House to-night, I ask the
§ House not to pass a Resolution which is a private enterprise Resolution, which is brought forward, not consciously but in fact, in the interests of private enterprise. I ask the House to take into account the economics which I have put before it, which are Labour party economics—[Interruption]—which are in reality Socialist economics. I ask the House not to be misled by mere theoretical abstractions, but to vote upon the facts and upon the business elements of the proposal which is before it.
That this House is of opinion that, since a Channel Tunnel can be constructed by private enterprise without any financial assistance from the State, and since the Channel Tunnel Committee has reported its construction to be of definite economic advantage to this country, and in view of the fact that such a tunnel, in addition to providing immediate employment, would be of great advantage to British trade and industry in future years by providing better transport between this country and the Continent, every facility should be given for the project to be undertaken at the earliest possible opportunity.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 172; Noes, 179.1743
|Division No. 393.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Fielden, E. B.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Arnott, John||Foot, Isaac.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Kelly, W. T.|
|Atkinson, C.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Ayles, Walter||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Kinley, J.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Gill, T. H.||Knight, Holford|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Glassey, A. E.||Lang, Gordon|
|Barr, James||Gould, F.||Lathan, G.|
|Batey, Joseph||Gower, Sir Robert||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Staiybridge)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Cattle)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Leach, W.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Han. Charles W.||Groves, Thomas E.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Bracken, B.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lees, J.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Lewls, T. (Southampton)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Brooke, W.||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hardie, George D.||Longden, F.|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Harris, Percy A.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shetllestone)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Haycock, A. W.||McKinlay, A.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Herriotts, J.||McShane, John James|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Charleton, H. G.||Hoffman, P. C.||Mansfield, W.|
|Chater, Daniel||Hollins, A.||Markham, S. F.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hopkin, Daniel||Marley, J.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Mathers, George|
|Daggar, George||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Matters, L. W.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Maxton, James|
|Day, Harry||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Messer, Fred|
|Dickson, T.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Isaacs, George||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Dukes, C.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Ede, James Chuter||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Morley, Ralph|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Mort, D. L.|
|England, Colonel A.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Sawyer, G. F.||Townend, A. E.|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Scrymgeour, E.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Murnin, Hugh||Sexton, James||Walker, J.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wallace, H. W.|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Sherwood, G. H.||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Shield, George William||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Shillaker, J. F.||Watts-Morgan. Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Simmons, C. J.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Perry, S. F.||Sinkinson, George||West, F. R.|
|Raynes, W. R.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Ritson, J.||Stamford, Thomas W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Rowson, Guy||Stephen, Campbell||Wise, E. F.|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Sutton, J. E.||Mr. Thurtle and Sir Basil Peto.|
|Sandham, E.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Penny, Sir George|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gossling, A. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Potts, John S.|
|Albery, Irving James||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Price, M. P.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Pybus, Percy John|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Harbord, A.||Remer, John R.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Haslam, Henry C.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hayes, John Henry||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)|
|Balniel, Lord||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N. (Cardiff C.)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hurd, Percy A.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Blindell, James||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Kennedy, Thomas||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Longbottom, A. W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Lowth, Thomas||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lymington, Viscount||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Colman, N. C. D.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Compton, Joseph||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Vaughan-Morgan. Sir Kenyon|
|Cowan, D. M.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Viant, S. P.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||McElwee, A.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||McEntee, V. L.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dallas, George||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||White, H. G.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||March, S.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Marshall, Fred||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Middleton, G.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Montague, Frederick||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Fermoy, Lord||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Nathan, Major H. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Mr. Marjoribanks and Mr. Benson.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
Resolution agreed to.