HC Deb 27 March 1933 vol 276 cc665-7
18. Mr. LAW

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the reason for the omission of Turkey from the list of European Powers mentioned in the effectives table of the draft Disarmament Convention?


I am glad of this opportunity of making the position clear. The greater part of the Turkish effectives are stationed outside Europe as are our own, and for this reason neither the Turkish figures nor our own appear in this particular list.

15 and 46. Mr. RAIKES

asked the Prime Minister (1), whether under the draft Disarmament Convention, aircraft co-operating with naval and military forces will be allowed to protect themselves against shells fired by anti-aircraft batteries by the use of air shells; and, if not, whether His Majesty's Government will propose the total abolition of anti-aircraft guns;

(2), whether under the draft Disarmament Convention, it will be permissible to use aircraft for the protection of undefended coastal towns in these islands against bombardment by enemy warships and for the defence of Singapore and other overseas bases against attack by naval forces or by troops conveyed in transports?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)

The whole matter of measures consequential to the abolition of bombing will be considered should the abolition be accepted by international agreement. This and similar questions have been raised and are before the Ministerial Committee at the present moment.


asked the Prime Minister whether the latest proposals for air disarmament contained in the draft convention have been examined and reported on by the Committee of Imperial Defence?


The Government are solely responsible for the proposals in the draft convention. These were approved after most careful examination by a Ministerial Committee in consultation with the chiefs of staff of the three Defence Services, and all elements of the Committee of Imperial Defence were present at these meetings.


asked the Prime Minister the grounds upon which it is proposed in the draft Disarmament Convention to allow Japan the same number of first-line aircraft as this country, having regard to the much larger area and population of the British Empire and the present inferiority of the Japanese Air Force to our own?

50. Mr. EMMOTT

asked the Prime Minister what is the basis of the calculation that no more than 500 aircraft are necessary to enable the Royal Air Force to perform its police work abroad, particularly in the Middle East, to provide an adequate home defence force for the protection of these islands, and to supply the machines essential to co-operation between the Army and the Navy?


As the House of Commons is aware, the figures in the draft were inserted as a basis for discussion and negotiation. The figures do not cover the Dominions or India, which are separately represented at the Disarmament Conference.


asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government will consider adding to the draft Disarmament Convention measures for prohibiting the construction during the currency of that convention of new ocean liners, in order to prevent the misuse of these vessels for purposes of commerce raiding as in the late War, or, alternatively, measures for restricting their tonnage and speed?


There is no proposal in the draft convention to abolish the Navy. If there were, then the question put by my hon. and gallant Friend would undoubtedly arise?


If His Majesty's Government are unwilling to interfere with the mercantile marine, can we have an equal assurance that they will in no circumstances agree to measures which will cripple commercial aircraft?


My hon. and gallant Friend will remember that on three occasions that pledge has been given in this House, first by myself and then by my right hon. Friend the Lord President; and, finally, in very plain language, at Geneva.

52. Captain BALFOUR

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the latest proposals in the Draft Disarmament Convention relative to bombardment from the air have for their object the protection of non-combatants and of the impossibility of securing that the prohibition of all air bombardment shall be respected in war, he will consider the advisability of substituting measures designed to preserve the civilian population from air attack?


The question assumes that no international agreement will be carried out, but I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend that one of the main objects of the abolition of bombing is to guarantee the safety of the civil population. Independently of this, we are taking precautions in this country to safeguard the civil population, as far as possible, against air attack.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Lord President of the Council stated, in terms, that experience has shown us that the stern test of war will break down all conventions?


That may be so, but, if my hon. and gallant Friend will look at the form in which the statements have been made, he will find that that has been kept in mind.