§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
I beg to move,That this House views with grave disquiet the present inadequacy of the provision made for the air defence of these islands, the Empire overseas, and our Imperial communications; that it welcomes the insistence which the British delegation have throughout laid at Geneva on this country's need for a one-Power standard in the air; and, whilst supporting the endeavours of His Majesty's Government to secure parity primarily by means of a reduction in the strength of those foreign air forces which at present so largely outnumber our own, urges them to take without delay such other remedial measures as are open to them and, in particular, to consider the early completion of the home defence force decided on in 1923 as the minimum necessary for our national security and approved by each successive Administration since that date.I move this Motion because 25 years ago I was sent for by the late Admiral Lord Fisher to the Admiralty and charged with developing aircraft for the Navy. At first we made very slow progress. It was not until the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) became First Lord that we made any advance. I was able at the big review at Spithead just before the War to place some 30 aircraft over the Fleet. The opinions of the admirals at that day, as I was informed by the Chief of the Staff of the Fleet, were that "Winston's toys" were perfectly useless and that they could perfectly easily be shot down. My opposite number at the War Office, the late General Henderson, had the same opposition from the conservative generals as I had at the Admiralty in developing the Naval Air Service. When War broke out, the Army had very few machines and the Navy had fewer still. All the Army machines were sent over with the Expeditionary Force to the front, and the defence of this country from air attack was left to a handful of naval machines and pilots. Everybody knows we had many Zeppelin raids. They came over to this country to drop bombs, and we had very few machines to try and intercept them. Gradually, as our aircraft developed, we defeated the German Zeppelin menace, and we defeated also 959 their machines in trying to bomb London. In the last air raid in 1918, 33 machines endeavoured to attack London; only 13 got through and 10 fell by the wayside. As we advanced in the War, with the great help of the aeronautical industry, we turned out the machines that were required not only at the front, but in many parts of the world where we had air operations to conduct. When the War finished we were one of two great air Powers. Successive Governments have gradually reduced our Air Force till now we are the fifth Power in the air.
When we consider the air defence of this country, we have always to ask ourselves the question, "Can the Navy in any way protect us from the aerial bornbardment of London? Can the Army in any way protect us from aerial bombs being dropped on our dockyards and shipyards, on our cities and commercial and industrial centres?" These two services cannot help in any way. If they cannot assist, what are we to do? We have reduced our force to the position of the fifth Power. Why have we done that? We have done it because this nation has made a great gesture of peace to the whole world. We have unilaterally disarmed until we are down to the fifth Power, in the cause of Peace and Disarmament. How have other nations responded to that? Russia is now building up a great air force, I have seen pictures in the Russian Press of great lines of aeroplanes, and they look most efficient. Air development in Russia is getting a first place, and I should like to quote what the Russian War Minister said about it. He sent an open letter to his workers, in which be said:Whoever has the strongest air force dominates the air, and he who is the strongest in the air is strongest all round.Russia is going ahead in developing her air force all she possibly can. What is Japan's reply to that? Japan has recently voted £2,000,000 sterling extra to increase her air force because of the air menace from the Soviet Government. What are our Dominions doing? Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are overhauling their air forces, and voting more money to make them efficient. Since 1920 France has increased expenditure on her Air Force by some 112 per cent., and the United States has 960 increased expenditure on her Air Force by 108 per cent., whereas in that time we have reduced the expenditure on our Air Force by 8 per cent. I ask the Government, "What are we going to do about it?" All those countries are increasing their Air Forces, but we have reduced ours until we are the fifth Power in the air. In 1923 the Lord President of the Council, when he was in charge of the Government, approved our having 52 squadrons for the defence forces of this country, and said we ought to create those at once. Ten years afterwards we have only 42 squadrons. I submit that we ought to raise our Air Force to 52 squadrons. If that was right in 1923 is it the right figure now? I ask the Government to get the Air Minister and his advisers to look into the matter to see whether 52 squadrons is now the right number for the air defence of this country. Things have altered in Europe since 1923. For instance, Germany has a wonderful machine, one of their air liners, the D2000, which could drop 30 tons of bombs in one raid on London. That is the same weight of bombs as were dropped on London in the many raids during the Great War. Further, the speed of machines has increased enormously since 1923, they have a very much longer range and blind flying with wireless direction has been introduced. Another point to remember is that there are four times as many aircraft in Europe now as there were in 1923. Therefore, I ask the Government to look very carefully into this matter and see whether 52 squadrons are sufficient now for the protection of this country.
I pass from that point to the question of our international obligations. Under the Locarno Protocol we have to go to the assistance of Germany if France is the aggressor and to the assistance of France if Germany is the aggressor. Do those nations think we have a sufficient Air Force when we are the fifth Power in the air? I do not know what Germany thinks about it, but I know what France thinks. Not long ago I was talking to a French statesman, and asked him why the French always said that the Treaty of Locarno does not give them sufficient security. He said, "Well, Admiral, you are a sailor, you do not mind blunt speech." I replied, "No, we rather like it." "Well," he said, "the truth is that we do not feel secure under the Treaty 961 of Locarno because Britain cannot protect Paris from aerial bombardment by her big guns in her battleships." I know that the Lord President of the Council is very persuasive in the conference chambers of Europe, that the flying Prime Minister is even more persuasive in those conference chambers, and that our very able Foreign Secretary, who is an airman, is yet still more persuasive, but I submit that those three right hon. Gentlemen, when they are in the conference chambers of Europe, could do much better if they knew in times of emergency, when things are looking bad round the conference table, that they had a powerful Navy and a powerful Air Force at their back. I know that Britain's name stands very high in conferences in Europe at the present time, but it would stand far higher if we had a very strong Navy and a strong Air Force. It would raise the prestige of Britain at those conferences.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
Will the hon. and gallant Member allow me to put a question before he leaves that point? He said a French statesman had told him that it was impossible for us to protect Paris. If France, which is really the first Power in the air, could not protect Paris, how could Britain protect London if Britain were the first air Power?
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
I think the hon. Member did not quite understand what I said. I said a Frenchman told me that they did not feel security under the Locarno Treaty because we could not protect Paris from aerial bombardment by means of the big guns in British battleships.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I understand that France is still the first air Power, and in that case surely she ought to be able to protect herself.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
The hon. Member who interrupts me cannot follow my argument. I am talking about the Navy protecting Paris under the Locarno Treaty. If the hon. Member will study the Locarno Treaty I do not think he will put those questions. I pass from that to another phase of air defence which is not generally understood. I ask my colleagues in this House, What was the weapon which nearly brought this country and our great Empire to its 962 knees? It was not the battleship, it was not the battle cruiser, it was not the great gun or the tank; it was the German submarine. When Admiral Sims, that celebrated United States Admiral, a great gunnery expert, came to this country after America entered the War in 1917 he stated in his first report to his Government, in April of that year, that he was gravely concerned about the submarine menace, and he said that Mr. Hoover told him there was only three weeks' supply of grain in this country. Mr. Page, the United States Ambassador, who also reported to his Government at much the same time, gave the sinkings of ships, and said, "If these sinkings of British ships continue there will soon be no more of their ships on the high seas." Admiral Sims asked Admiral Jellicoe what he was doing about it. Admiral Jellicoe told him "We are mobilising everything we can." The Admiralty mobilised all their fast surface craft, their Q boats, commanded by the gallant Admiral the Member for Burnley (Vice-Admiral Campbell) who, I fear, cannot be in his place to-night by reason of ill-health caused through the stress of the War, they mobilised their drifters and their nets, and they called upon the airmen to do their utmost to bomb the German submarines.
A writer in the Press said recently that the naval airmen sank seven submarines in 1917, but he forgot to mention the submarines our airmen drove ashore on the East Coast. He forgot to mention that from the very moment we established an air station at Dunkirk we started to bomb submarines, and sent many back to their home ports with rivets leaking, superstructure damaged and the morale of their crews partly impaired. He never mentioned, also, that the Italian Commander-in-Chief, a very able Italian officer, threw a net right across the lower Adriatic, and that with the help of our drifters and with the aid of Italian, French and British airmen, we smashed up the Austrian and German submarine menace in the Mediterranean. At one time they were sinking more than £2,000,000 worth of cargo a day in the Mediterranean. With the help of the surface craft and of our airmen we gradually defeated the submarine menace and saved the food of our people, but it was a very near thing, and at one time we had only 10 days' supply of food in 963 this country. Towards the end of the War all our mercantile captains asked for aerial escort, because they knew perfectly well that no food ship was ever sunk when there was an aerial escort. During the whole War we lost more than 6,500,000 tons of shipping through enemy submarine action; and yet some people say we should do away with aerial bombing, and so deprive this country of the greatest weapon we have against enemy submarines.
What is the position of this country in the matter of submarines? I have here a paper, issued by the Navy League, which furnishes the only information I can get about it. It gives a comparison of fleets on the 31st January, 1933:Totals of built, building and projected. Submarines: British Empire, 64; United States of America, 84; Japan, 72; France, 110; Italy, 75.We are the fifth Power in submarines, and I submit that as long as other nations have such a large preponderance of submarines we should retain aerial bombing. A well-known British admiral wrote to the Press the other day and said that it did not matter about air bombing, because submarines had to conform to the rules of conduct of surface ships under the Treaty of London, Article 22, paragraph 4. He cannot know very much about submarine warfare. The whole essence of submarine warfare is secrecy, and for a British admiral to write that a submarine in wartime must act as a surface ship shows that he knows nothing whatever about submarine warfare and has learned nothing by the Great War. I repeat that as long as other nations have this large preponderance of submarines it is prudent for this country to retain air bombing, and I ask whoever is going to reply for the Government whether we have sufficient aircraft to deal with hostile submarines, sufficient amphibian aircraft to go out to search for them and also to search for mines, and sufficient aircraft to drive off the enemy's aircraft that would attack our food ships and our trade ships.
I pass now to naval and military aircraft. We are frequently told that all military aircraft should be done away with. May I examine military aircraft for a minute. During the late War I was called upon to send to General Henderson, over at the front, 130 Sopwith high- 964 performance machines. They were used to fight the Fokkers, which had then attained an ascendancy over our people at the front. These machines were also used to tell the generals what was on the other side of the hill, or the other side of the wood. I understand that throughout the ages generals have wanted to know what was on tie other side of the hill, but they never did know until aircraft came into being. I will not labour that argument, because my military colleagues can deal with it much better than I can. I would ask this House whether any of the generals of the great military nations would be willing to do away with military aircraft. Would the Japanese generals do away with them? They fed the whole of their front line in Jehol, during the operations there recently, by aeroplane. The reason why the Jehol campaign was so short was entirely due to the aircraft of the Japanese army. I do not think that any Japanese general would ever agree to do away with military aircraft.
Let me turn to the naval side. In 1805, Lord Nelson chased the combined fleets of France and Spain out to the West Indies. He could not find the enemy's fleet out there, and came back to Europe, and the movement ended with the Battle of Trafalgar. If anyone reads the despatches of Lord Nelson, he will see that in all his naval work Lord Nelson was asking for more and more frigates. He wanted frigates to tell him the whereabouts of the enemy. At Jutland, Lord Jellicoe only had one seaplane. The "Campania," which had a good equipment of sea-planes—she was a seaplane carrier—for some unknown reason did not arrive at Jutland until, I believe, too late. If you read Lord Jellicoe's despatches, you find throughout that he wants more information about the enemy's movements. Some of the pacifists in this country want to deprive the Fleet of its eyes—of the naval aircraft which are the very eyes of the Fleet. Would our naval admirals and the great naval admirals of other Powers agree to deprive their fleets of naval aircraft? I very much doubt it. I hope that the Under-Secretary for Air, or the Lord President of the Council, or whoever is to reply, will assure us that we have sufficient and efficient aircraft for the use of the Army and the Navy.
965 I pass from that to the air defences of the Empire. We have very great responsibilities in the Empire, and wherever the Royal Air Force have been used they have done magnificently. They receive nothing but praise from those who are in a good position to judge. The Royal Air Force have saved this country millions of money and thousands of human lives. I will quote the opinion of one of our great political officers, Sir Henry Dobbs, former High Commissioner in Iraq, who, in writing of air operations, says:By prompt demonstrations on the first sign of trouble carried out over any area effected, however distant, tribal insubordination has been calmed before it could grow dangerous and there has been an immense saving of blood and treasure.The Viceroy of India, a very able administrator, in a speech a short time ago, defended air bombing for police purposes. He is the man on the spot, and we ought to trust him. We ought to retain air bombing for peace purposes, in those distant frontiers of Empire. I recollect reading, a short time ago, about the operations at Kabul, when the Royal Air Force evacuated the whole of the Corps Diplomatique from Kabul, some 600 people, and never lost a life. It was a very fine effort indeed, and probably saved us from a war and. from spending thousands of human lives, not only in war operations, but in sickness. Our machines had to fly all the way from Iraq to Kabul, something like 2,000 or 3,000 miles. Those rather depleted squadrons in Iraq were reinforced by squadrons coming from Egypt. I ask the Government whether we have sufficient squadrons in the Near East. If we have to send squadrons all that distance, should we not have more squadrons in India or in Iraq, so that we could send them without depleting our squadrons too much? That is a point which the Government might consider.
I want to say a word upon what is rather a disconcerting topic for some hon. Members, and particularly for some generals and admirals. When you talk about substitution in India, or in any other part of the Empire, most admirals and generals get about half-balmy. The Secretary of State for India will very soon get his White Paper through, I hope.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
Yes, I hope he will, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who interrupted me will support him. I hope that the Secretary of State for India will set up a small committee to go into the whole question of Indian defences, in order to see if more substitution can take place. I believe that, if that were done, great economies could be effected. We know that, as a consequence of the White Paper, expenses may be incurred, and we should look round and see where economies could be made. The Royal Air Force cannot do much in the great cities, but they could do something in distant parts of India to relieve our military units, and so save money. Royal Air Force units have great speed and great range, and they can cover far greater areas than military units. I believe that money can be saved in that direction.
In regard to other parts of our Empire, like Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong and so on, one of my colleagues wants to speak, and I will leave that part of the subject to him. I will only say that I have pressed the Under-Secretary of State for Air many times about the defence of Malta. I have asked him questions about the breakwater, and whether he is satisfied with the defence of Malta. I am rather perturbed. I know the Mediterranean very well and what is happening out in the Mediterranean, and I think that the air defence of Malta needs looking into. I should like the Government or the Under-Secretary for Air to assure me that the air defence of Malta is satisfactory. If the Under-Secretary is satisfied, I will ask him whether the Governor out there is satisfied.
I pass to the last portion of my Motion, which is in regard to Imperial air routes. I hear on all sides nothing but praise for Imperial Airways, under the able chairmanship of Sir Eric Geddes, and his managing director, for the way they are running air lines for peaceful penetration right down to Africa and now well on the way to Singapore. All that we need to do is to have feeder lines to link them up, and to send fast aircraft out, carrying mails, light transport and so on. Quick communication is essential for the business men of this country. I hope that a little more money will be spent upon Imperial Airways, to enable them to de- 967 velop those linking-up lines in the air routes. As we form these air routes, we ought to protect them from anybody who has hostile intent, and I ask the Government whether that is being looked into, and whether they can assure me that those air routes are being properly protected, in case anybody should attack them from the air. I believe in this peaceful penetration, and I also believe that Imperial Airways are doing great national work in carrying on their efficient services.
I think that everybody in this House believes in peace, but just as we believe in the principles of peace we believe in the principle of defence. I submit that every hon. Member has a responsibility in this question of defence. Even the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), who is a well-known pacifist, has, I believe, a responsibility, in this House, to see that this country and the British Empire are safeguarded from aerial attack. The duty of hon. Members in the next few months should be to examine the Estimates very carefully indeed, to work through them line by line, and to see that the Naval Estimates give the First Lord the most efficient cruisers he wants—let him scrap all the old ones—and sufficient aircraft to work with the Fleet. The Army Estimates should be scrutinised very carefully, in order to give the Army all it wants in the way of mechanisation and sufficient aircraft for meeting its needs, in case of emergency. Our Air Estimates should provide that we are able to engage any single air-power, with every prospect of success.
I am proud this evening, because I have, as the Seconder of my Motion, the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour). He is a flying man of great experience, and a skilled pilot. He flew some of the naval machines that I provided for General Henderson at the Front. It is because I gave the hon. and gallant Member a good machine, and not a "dud" one, that he is able to second my Motion tonight. He owes his life, I think, to me. He is a young man—a much younger man than I am—and he will put the case for aerial defence from the young man's point of view. He has experience in war. He has been bombed, and has bombed. I think we will listen to his 968 views with very great interest. I have put my case for adequate air armaments from the experience gained in the hard and bitter school of pioneer work, in connection with submarines and in the air. The late General Sir David Henderson, who was in charge of the military wing when war broke out, and myself, had to make bricks without straw, because this House never voted sufficient money for our air forces. We had to provide air machines, not only for the protection of this country, but for the Front, right, out to the Rufiji River in East Africa, for the Dardanelles, and up as far as Basrah. I do not want to see any other air-commanders put in the same positon as General Henderson and myself. It killed him. I know that it would be his wish, and it is my duty, to submit to this House that we should have a sufficiently powerful Air Force to protect our homes, our great cities, and our dockyards, shipyards and industrial centres. Our Air Force should be powerful enough to drive off enemy submarines that attacked our trade and food ships, and also to drive off enemy aircraft that attacked our trade and food ships. If anything happens to our food ships, we starve; if anything happens to our trade ships, all our people are thrown out of work. Therefore, we want an efficient Air Force to protect these items which I have mentioned, to protect the great places in our Empire that are open to air attack, and also to protect our air communications. believe with every fibre of my being in Holy Writ, and Holy Writ says thatWhen a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.I submit that we should have in this country at least a one-power air standard. We do not know what is going to happen in the unsettled state of Europe; no man knows the combinations that might be against us in Europe, or what jealousies might arise in the Far East. We may have to hold the balance of power in Europe and in the Far East. For that we want at least a one-power standard in the air, and I ask every one of my colleagues in this House to see that we have it.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Captain HAROLD BALFOUR
I beg to second the Motion. It has been moved ably and comprehensively by my hon. 969 and gallant Friend, to whom I owe, not only the opportunity of seconding his Motion, but, apparently, also my life. In advocating the Motion, I want in the first place to make one thing clear, and that is that I—and I think I can speak for the majority, indeed for all of my colleagues in this House to-night—I in no way depart from my belief in limitation of air power by agreement, as opposed to the awful opposite of unrestricted competition in armaments throughout the world. I cannot imagine anything more devastating for civilisation than an unrestricted race in regard to this modern weapon which has such terrible potentialities for humanity. I feel that our objective must be to achieve this limitation among the countries of the world, and at the same time to obtain the very essential security for the citizens of this country and for our communications with our Dominions overseas which is asked for in this Motion. I feel that I am on common ground with the majority in the House when I say that at the present time, owing to circumstances upon which very shortly I will enlarge for a few moments, we have not that adequate security which we should have, in view of the potential dangers of the international situation. The function of the Royal Air Force, as, indeed, is the function of our other two Defence Services, is essentially a defensive function, and not an offensive function; but, in spite of the limitation of its function to defensive purposes, the necessity for the air service still exists very strongly. I think we can take pride to-night in our example to other countries of the world in the way of practical disarmament. We only wish that it had been followed as actively and as wholeheartedly by those other countries who paid lip service to it but have not taken actual steps.
My hon. and gallant Friend referred to the statement of the Lord President of the Council in 1923, when he said that our requirement then was 52 squadrons of the Royal Air Force for home defence, and that we must always review the strength of our Air Force in the light of the air forces of other European countries. I do not wish to repeat arguments which I used in this House on another occasion just recently; I would only remind the House that relatively, as compared with 1923, we are now, in 1933, 970 weaker in the air. Although our Air Force has gradually expanded, our relative strength to-day is lower than it was as compared with other European air forces in the year 1923. Nobody can maintain that Europe to-day is more stable, that it is in a more peaceful state than in 1923. The Lord President then said that parity for this country was essential. If it was essential then, I would submit to the House that it is more than essential now, in circumstances which are certainly no more prepossessing than they were then.
I racked my mind to think on what grounds this Motion would be opposed, and I came to the conclusion that there would be two, the first being that of adequacy and expediency. On the ground of adequacy, it may be said that to-day we need not worry, that our Air Force is so fine and so efficient that it can combat any other air force in the world. We know that we have the finest material in. the world, but there is this argument, that adequacy in numbers to-day goes far beyond the old jingoism, that one Britisher is worth any one foreigner, which we used to learn in our youth; it says, in effect, that one Britisher is worth approximately any two foreigners. That may be so, but I do not think it is a sufficiently solid argument on which to base a policy, and I cannot see that it is very compatible with that international Socialism and equality of mankind which is always preached from the benches above the Gangway.
The second and more solid ground on which this Motion might be opposed is reliance on what the Government have said is their final objective, and what the Labour party passed at Hastings as their immediate objective—the total abolition of military aircraft combined with the internationalisation of civil aviation. Those are popular, plausible platitudes, but extraordinarily difficult to put into practical operation. Abolition, I would submit, is an unattainable ideal. You cannot turn the clock backwards. In the old days men fought the introduction of the cross-bow, men fought the introduction of the gun, but they were beaten; you cannot stop the march of progress. Furthermore, there is an overwhelming reason against the abolition of military aircraft, and that is that, if naval and military aircraft were abolished, the one 971 sure check against the abuse of civil aviation would be removed. Civil aviation is developing throughout the whole world. America has some 11,000 civil aircraft. That constitutes a potential menace to the world; it is something more than 12 times our first-line strength in aircraft. To-day those aircraft are used for peaceful purposes, and I hope they always will be, but, if you removed the naval and military aircraft of the world, you would then convert the peaceful civil aircraft of every country into potential bombers and fighters, suitable for indiscriminate bombing against the civilian populations of the world. If you abolish naval and military aircraft, you convert what I believe to be a great force for peace, conferring great benefits upon mankind at present, and promising more in the future, into a sort of Frankenstein's monster against the ravages of which no army or navy, however powerful, could possibly protect the civilian population.
Directly one uses these arguments, one is told that the remedy lies in the internationalisation of civil aviation. I have studied many schemes, but have not yet found any one that would be workable, nor have I heard of a scheme which appeals to the European countries. One cannot imagine any country agreeing to the degree of interference which would be necessary for such internationalisation, and, furthermore, I think that, from our own Imperial point of view, it would be deplorable to merge our civil aviation, which we are developing in a manner peculiar to our Imperial needs—needs which no other European country has in an identical manner, including, as they do, long-range communications—I think it would be deplorable to merge that in some sort of gigantic international combine administered by the League of Nations at Geneva, with the positive certainty that we should pay the piper and orders for aircraft would go elsewhere. It would kill advance, and we have made a fine technical start in this country in this new development; it would be a crippling blow to industry, and veritably we should then be harnessing Pegasus to a cart.
Even if a workable scheme were produced, what would it achieve? It would achieve none of that protection for civilisation which its protagonists claim 972 for it, for, if any nation ruthlessly disregarded international obligations such as the Kellogg Pact and other treaties, and went to war, it is not conceivable that that nation would pause in its action in seizing every civil aircraft that it found within its boundaries, to whatever nation such aircraft might belong. We ourselves, at the beginning of the War, took 1,000,000 tons of Dutch shipping. It was a perfectly legal seizure, as was proved subsequently, but it was done in the teeth of the opposition of the Dutch Government and of the Dutch shipowners. One could easily quote instances of belligerents seizing rolling-stock. In at least one instance during the last War, vehicles of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-lits were seized by a belligerent Power who found them within its boundaries when War broke out.
One argument against the internationalisation of civil aviation is that you cannot internationalise private Aircraft. The idea of a quota is fantastic. Under a quota, any hon. Gentleman here who flies might go to an aircraft works to buy an Aeroplane, and be told: "No; we are expecting Mr. Smith to crash next week, and, when he does, there will be a vacancy in the quota, but until that happens we regret we are unable to sell you an aeroplane." You might as well have quotas for bicycles, or sporting guns, or motor cars, or any of those implements which have a potential use in time of war. In this country private aircraft number something around 900, and commercial aircraft something around 55 to 60. You might be able to try to internationalise the 50 or 60, but could. not deal with the 900 under any scheme for the internationalisation of civil aviation.
Any attempt to protect this country by the abolition of military aircraft and the internationalisation of civil aviation is impracticable, and would do lasting harm to a young industry, while giving no security to this country. I need only add that the United States has made it abundantly clear at Geneva that she will never throw her fleet of civil aircraft into any scheme of internationalisation. Our pioneers have shown us that America and Europe are not so far distant as they used to be, and the time is not far ahead when America and Europe will be linked together by regular air communication. You could not have a scheme of inter- 973 nationalisation of civil aviation if one of your neighbours, or a neighbour of the United States, refused to enter into any such arrangement.
I reaffirm my belief in limitation by agreement. There are two alternative ways of doing it. The first is to achieve air parity by a convention such as our Government put forward at Geneva. There must be some sort of time limit in negotiations. I do not think it is an unreasonable suggestion to put forward some sort of time limit. The President of the Board of Trade has laid down a time limit with France in an economic dispute, and surely a time limit is equally permissible in the vastly more vital field of national defence. I have just looked up the words of the Lord President of the Council at Birmingham on eth October, when he said:When I speak of a disarmament convention I do not mean disarmament on the part of this country and not on the part of any other. If we find ourselves on some lower rating and some other country has higher figures, that country has to come down and we have to go up until we meet.I submit that the time has come when the right hon. Gentleman's words should be given practical force by the gradual building up of our Royal Air Force to a degree which we feel that other countries can come down to, and which would at the same time give essential security for this Empire.
The other possible method is one which, in the presence of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, I put forward with considerable diffidence, and that is, Would it not be possible to take this question of air disarmament right out of the Disarmanent Conference at Geneva, right out of the League of Nations, and get the great air Powers of Europe together to make a Treaty, in the way the Treaty of London was made, which forecast an agreed naval programme; get the air Powers away from the diversions and difficulties and procrastinations which surround the Disarmament Conference in so many points, to some point away from Geneva where they could agree; say, a four years' programme for their respective air forces, and then at some future time bring the question of air disarmament back to Geneva, when the matter might be discussed with a view to achieving agreement which we 974 do not seem to be likely to achieve at present?
I hope that the Minister who replies, if he vetoes this, will give some reason why it cannot be supported, or perhaps even give some slight measure of encouragement to it. I acknowledge that piling up armaments is no security for this country. On the other hand, it is essential that we have reasonable armaments while human nature and the state of European politics are what they are. I do not think any of us who support this Motion want to be in any way unreasonable. I do not feel that one is trying to be bellicose. We ask for action along the lines of the Motion, not for the pride of possession, not for arrogance of supremacy, not for the impressive exercise of power, caring nothing for its political reactions, good or bad, throughout the country, but because we feel that out of stern necessity this Motion must be brought forward and debated, for we have anxiety as regards the safety of the country and the Empire. We feel that we have a civilisation in our nationalism which is of value to the world, and which must be preserved for the good of the world. Our entity as an Empire in good times and bad has been and will be a vital factor in the direction in which civilisation is moving. and, if there is within our grasp the power to alter the existing circumstances, my hon. Friends and I do not feel that we shall be doing right to those whom we guide in the House and those whom we govern if we should continue the risks of the present. Although to-day we live exposed to dangers, the duty lies on us in the House to ensure that to-morrow our citizens are safe.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
I beg to move, in line 3, to leave out from the word "communications" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:and confirms its full support of the policy of His Majesty's Government in working for the objects in respect of air policy which are declared in the British Draft Convention.If I thought a Debate upon the original Motion would have served merely to emphasise at home and abroad the extent to which this country in the interests of peace has gone in the direction of unilateral disarmament, if I thought it 975 would be brought home to people how this country has cut its defences to the bone, and if I had thought it would have impressed on all people that we have these tremendous Imperial responsibilities which we were deliberately prepared to jeopardise in the interests of peace, I think nothing but good could come from the discussion of the Motion. But I am afraid that a discussion on the original Motion would have led some people to suppose that the Government, or perhaps only some considerable section of its supporters, might regard re-armament, or expansion of armaments, which may be forced upon us by the folly of others, with anything but the utmost reluctance and had that impression being conveyed by the Debate, nothing but harm could have come from it.
It is because I believe the original Motion was capable of serious misconstruction, and because I believe it is not capable of achieving the purpose for which it was put down, that I have moved the Amendment, because we must remember, standing here and facing hon. Members opposite, that for the past few weeks there has been a most disgraceful campaign of unscrupulous misrepresentation throughout the country on this question of peace or war. I think, whereas some hon. Members opposite may imagine that they will derive some satisfaction from something that may be said in the Debate, that if they look round the world to-day, and are honest with themselves, they will remember that, of all the Powers in 'the world, the Power which is striving the most to build up air armaments is the militaristic dictatorship in Russia, The Russians must be judged by their actions and not by their words. I look upon the subject of this Amendment as being essential for one suspended judgment. I should have been inclined to take my stand upon the declaration made by the Foreign Secretary last Friday and that made by the Lord President of the Council last Monday, and I should be in full sympathy with the attitude adopted in the leading article in to-day's "Times."
The Motion, as originally drawn, by implication ignores the Draft Convention of last March which still remains the basis of Government policy. I can well understand the objection raised to the delays which have occurred at Geneva. 976 They have become intolerable, and anybody might reasonably be thoroughly dissatisfied with them; but I would remind the House that Europe to-day is faced with an entirely new situation. Whether we like the man and his policy or whether we do not, the fact remains that the advent to power in Germany of Herr Hitler has in effect cut away an immense amount of deadweight from the disarmament discussions, and, for the first time since the War, the two main obstacles to a peaceful solution of the European situation are actually coming together in direct negotiation.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
Will my hon. and gallant Friend tell us what would happen if Chancellor Hitler failed?
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
I do not think that to answer that question would be in any way relevant to the argument which I am submitting to the House. We have to face the situation which exists to-day and not a situation which may arise in six month' time. Pending the outcome of the direct discussion which is now being initiated, the whole matter of an increase of our admittedly insufficient power should be left, so to speak, sub judice. I think that I shall be in order if I divert for a moment from my argument to call attention to the technical aspect of re-armament. Any increase in air armaments cannot be considered by itself. There was a time nearly 20 years ago when one could visualise a purely land war in which the Navy took no part, or a naval war in which the land forces were not concerned. But that does not apply to-day. To-day any war will be a war at least of two services, and yet despite the fundamental changes in the strategy of war we still have our three fighting services in watertight compartments.
I fail to see how this Government or any other Government, faced with a need for re-armament, could possibly secure satisfactory consideration of the problem under the present system. I am not at the moment arguing in favour of the establishment of a Ministry of Defence. I think that we shall have to come to that eventually. A Ministry of Defence, from the point of view of practical politics, would not at the present time be workable, beck use there is no staff trained for it. There are three separate services, with three separate 977 doctrines, necessarily in conflict, inevitably giving different and biased advice to the Government. One may be told that the Committee of Imperial Defence performs the necessary function. I submit that it does not, and I urge the Government to deal with the whole question of staff training in order to obtain that co-operation between the services. Thus alone could any balanced expansion of the services be obtained. All that we have now is an extraordinarily efficient nucleus Air Service.
The unamended Motion before the House is a counsel of despair. I do not think that it is logical. If we are to anticipate a war in the immediate future a mere increase of two or three squadrons is not sufficient. You have to go the whole hog and have an enormous Air Force. I do not believe for a moment that war is imminent. The nucleus we have at the moment is sufficient, in view of the relative speed with which the Air Force, by comparison with the Navy, can be built up from an efficient nucleus. We have already given the world a magnificent lead in the direction of disarmament, and we should wait and not consider re-armament until and unless re-arming is forced upon us. It has not been forced upon us yet, and I do not think that it will be. I cannot support the original Motion, not because I disagree with it altogether, but because it contains that most dangerous of all lies, namely, a half-truth.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I beg to second the Amendment.
I congratulate the Mover and Seconder of the Motion upon their very able speeches and upon the very restrained and fair way in which they put their case. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Motion rather visualised a world in which there will be no limitation of armaments, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded believed that it was possible to have limitation of air forces or armaments. I believe that the real difference between us is one of time, and before we have to consider the measures which the hon. and gallant Member suggests we must be convinced that we cannot succeed in getting a limitation of air forces or of armaments. I was a little surprised that they did not make out a stronger case for the Motion by 978 urging the immediate increase of the Air Force. Nobody suggests that there is an emergency in the world to-day. If there is any case for increasing the Air Force immediately it must be that our air defence and air position are different from our defence either by land or by sea. I do not believe that that is so. As the hon. and gallant Member so ably put it, we have to consider the whole question of defence, and it would be much better to consider it from that point of view rather than from the point of view of any special pleading.
My hon. and gallant Friends have both played a great and conspicuous part in building up the position of the great new force. I was a foot slogger and could not tell the difference between any aeroplanes which dropped bombs. Is our air position really any different from that of land and sea? Can there be an emergency? I want to take up that point, because it is very important. Is it possible, is it conceivable that an unknown nation will suddenly raid us, break the Kellogg Pact, act contrary to all their obligations and destroy us between dusk and dawn? Such a thing is inconceivable at this time, and therefore we are justified in taking the risk until we know the Disarmament Conference has failed. In the last War Germany resorted to the illegal use of gas. She did it when she was hard pressed and thought she was going to lose. It was a fundamental mistake on the part of Germany and united all the world, except the Central Powers, against her. Can any nation hope to succeed in war by breaking all the laws governing the relations of nations and bringing over, suddenly, great numbers of aircraft charged with gas at the very beginning of the war? The result would be that all the members of the League of Nations and all the nations outside the League would be at once united in opposing the Power which began war by breaking all the laws. That, I believe, is a tremendous safeguard against any emergency.
If we are going to be attacked by a nation, if we are going to be wiped out in a night, we ought to know what nation is going to perform that act. I want to know where that nation is. I want to know what is its form of Government and who are the people who live in that country. I do not think that any- 979 body would suggest that Germany is likely to be that nation, for the simple reason that I believe she has not at the moment any military aeroplanes. What about Russia? Perhaps hon. Members above the Gangway opposite may be able to tell me more about the position of Russia than I know, but I should imagine that Russia is still too far off to be a danger in that respect. I do not believe that her air force has developed sufficiently, even if she wanted, to carry out a long continued raid in the air. What about France? France has fortified her eastern frontier and kept up a large army, but no one suggests that France is therefore an aggressive nation. France has done that because within living memory she has been invaded twice.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
If we got the support of Germany and France was the aggressor, would not France be our enemy then?
§ Captain GUNSTON
France looks upon us as a possible helper if she is attacked, and she is the last country likely to attack this country, especially having regard to her obligations under the Treaty of Locarno. My point is, that there is no emergency at the moment. Therefore, we are justified in taking risks if necessary until we know that the Disarmament Conference has failed. If the Motion was carried I cannot help feeling—I know that it is not the intention of the Mover and Seconder of the Motion—that it would make the task of the Foreign Secretary considerably more difficult at Geneva, not on account of the words which are printed on the Order Paper but because, intentionally or otherwise, the words would be misrepresented abroad. Supposing we were to say to France: "We are at this moment going to rearm," would not France say: "Is England, an island kingdom, afraid? If she is afraid, then we must do likewise." How are we going to say to Germany: "This is the moment when we must increase our Air Force," when we are saying to Germany: "You must have no military aeroplanes." Would not Germany say: "We must have the 980 right to rearm"? Therefore, the Motion would have a very bad effect abroad.
It may be necessary to do as the mover of the Motion suggests, but why not wait? Surely he does not want to jeopardise our chance of getting agreement by allowing a Motion like this to go forward. I cannot help feeling that such a Motion might be misrepresented at home unintentionally, by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). I think he must have been rather amused when he saw the Motion on the Order Paper. He is very good at starting a hare, and so is his party. They started one at East Fulham and it ran there, but it was killed in the open, I am glad to say, at Market Harborough. The hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) told us of the great mass of enthusiastic people in that Division and all over the country, who were not very well informed. I am afraid that in moments of hysteria they occasionally do curious things. They might even vote for the Labour party. This is not the moment to lead the country in the wrong direction. If we put forward to the country the measures we are taking to ensure peace, we should have the country behind us. There is a danger of this Motion being misrepresented and making our task not only harder abroad but more difficult in this country.
The hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Motion wants security; we all want security throughout the world, and in the British proposals in the Draft Convention we have laid down a great foundation stone for giving security and peace. My hon. and gallant Friend who seconded the Motion thinks that it would be a dangerous move to abolish all military aeroplanes, and that fear is founded upon the danger that might arise from the use in war of what are now civil aeroplanes. If we could control civil aviation throughout the world we could abolish military aeroplanes, and if we could do that we could get back to the time before the War when there were no military aeroplanes. However disastrous it might be to an enthusiastic Air Member, I do think that it would be an advantage to the cause of peace if we could take that course. My hon. and gallant Friend agrees that we should limit the number of aeroplanes, and he will find the Draft Convention lays down in very clear words the means by which that 981 limitation could be reached. If we can get security we can get agreement, and I appeal to my hon. and gallant Friends not to make the task of getting agreement more difficult by a Motion which may, unintentionally, do harm.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. WILMOT
The hon. and gallant Member who moved and the hon. and gallant Member who seconded this Motion said they were doing so because they were concerned for the security of our fellow countrymen; they were concerned to protect them against the menace of attack from the air. I submit that they could have taken no course more calculated to increase the menace of attack from the air than the course they have taken this evening. If the Motion was carried—even the fact that it has been put down is itself dangerous—it would mean an end to the disarmament conversations which have been continued with such difficulty so long. It would mean an end not only to conversations with regard to disarmament in the air but an end to conversations with regard to disarmament of all kinds.
§ Mr. WILMOT
If the hon. and gallant Member will wait a few moments I will show him in what way he is menacing the peace of our fellow citizens. If this Motion were carried, not only should we be at the beginning of a new race in aerial armaments but at the beginning of a new race in all kinds of arms. I should like to refer for a moment to a speech made by the Lord President of the Council in this House as recently as Monday last. He said: "I think it is well that we should look at facts, and that we should realise that there are three possible ends to the discussions that have been taking place. You may have a disarmament of all countries to the level of existing German armaments; you may have a limitation of armaments at a point which excludes all large offensive weapons. Their size and quality are very well known to those who are familiar with technical discussions. In that event … you would have Germany in time rearming to that point. The third alternative is competition in armaments. Those are the three possibilities. What I say there is that in no circumstances must that third alternative be reached."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1933; col. 650, Vol. 283.]
982 It is the third alternative which is the logical outcome of the Motion put down by the hon. and gallant Member. His speech sounded to me like a voice from the past. He spoke of security in the old pre-1914 conception of security. He sees security in terms of big armies; each nation claiming and exercising the right to possess sufficient armaments to enforce its will and defend its ownself-judged interests against the rest of the world, either alone or in a single alliance. The hon. and gallant Member apparently agrees that that is his conception of security. The situation would not be so serious if the hon. and gallant Member was alone in that conception, but, unfortunately, the speech he has made, so ably seconded by the hon. and gallant Member, represents a very large body of opinion of those who control Conservative party policy and the policy of this Government, and it is the belief, so reinforced this evening, that these are the real sentiments of a large body of people and interests capable of influencing Government policy which give rise to the misgivings to which the hon. and gallant Member opposite referred.
These misgivings are proved to be correct. There is in this country and in this House a large section of the Conservative party, with this pre-War conception of security, intent upon throwing over the whole idea of collective peace and returning to 1913 armament conceptions. That is the danger of the situation, and it is the implications of this attitude which will rise abroad, it will be interpreted, as perhaps they have the right to be interpreted, as the sentiment of those who are in a position to control the Government, which will do irreparable damage to the hopes for peace and disarmament shared by all lovers of peace all over the world. This pernicious propaganda which is going on in the Press from interested parties, from those who manufacture the implements of death, those who draw profits from their sale and from those who are employed in the curious and somewhat doubtful business of acting as commercial travellers for those who have armaments for sale, is designed to press the Government into a big army and navy and air force policy.
§ Mr. WILMOT
It would seem that the hon. and gallant Member has omitted to read his "Daily Mail" the last few mornings. This national newspaper, to which the public have become accustomed to look for the voice of the Prime Minister, has been carrying on an insistent propaganda not for a small increase of one or two aeroplanes, but for an increase of no less than 4,000 fighting planes, and this at a time when the Lord President explained, and the Foreign Secretary explained, we have put forward as the British Government point of view in the draft plan at Geneva that a, maximum for the great air Powers, including ourselves, should be 500 aeroplanes and a reserve of not more than 125. At the present time we have a fighting strength of 1,434 fighting aeroplanes and 981 civil aeroplanes. If these figures are not correct, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman opposite will correct me, but I am quoting from the principal organ which represents—so nearly, as a rule—the opinions of the Government.
§ Mr. WILMOT
The "Daily Mail." I think if the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the official figures he will find that they happen on this occasion to coincide. The "Aeroplane" magazine, which is devoted to the technical interests of aeroplane manufacturers, is carrying three or four full-page advertisements offering for sale, not civil aeroplanes, but fully-equipped military aeroplanes. I presume that one does not secure Air Ministry contracts by advertisements in sixpenny magazines; and these adverisements are supported by the very interesting, and in my view somewhat terrifying, information that the firms who are offering these bombing planes for sale have recently sold very large quantities of them to the very Powers whom the hon. and gallant Member regards as the impending enemy, against whom we should defend ourselves. This is the beginning, I say, of a new race in armaments.
§ Mr. WILMOT
I do not know what Powers the hon. and gallant Member refers to when he speaks of the impending enemy.
§ Mr. WILMOT
Whoever they may be, he may be quite sure that they purchased their aeroplanes in the British market, because it is stated in the technical paper to which I have referred that practically every country in the world has been buying British-made bombing planes. I was saying that this Motion, and the speech which the hon. and gallant Member has delivered, arise from an obsolete conception of what really constitutes security. I believe, and there is a very vast number of persons who believe with me, that security is no longer to be found in the possession of it does not matter how many military aeroplanes: that security is only to be found by getting a collective guarantee that the common peace will not be broken, and relying on that collective assurance by all civilised nations, that they will see to it by collective action that the peace of all is maintained.
That conception is entirely foreign to the Mover and Seconder of this Motion. They are living in a world that has gone; and it is a world that has gone, very largely, owing to the growth of aerial transport. The terrifying development of the aeroplane as a military weapon has completely transformed all conception of defence and security. I would like to refer to a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council in this House on 10th November last year. I refer to that speech because it expresses in very eloquent terms exactly what I mean when I say that even if the hon. and gallant Member had his way he would certainly destroy the peace of Europe but would not achieve the defence of our fellow countrymen. The Lord President of the Council said: "I think it is well also for the man in the street to realise that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people"— and I presume he is referring to people like the hon. and gallant Member who moved this Motion—whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through.The right hon. Gentleman went on to describe in very vivid and eloquent terms the conditions of an air raid on London or some other British city if modern aerial science was used. He explained 985 that there would be hundreds of cubic miles, possibly, thick with clouds and fog, and it would not matter how many defensive aeroplanes we could get, it would be impossible to intercept that attack. He continued:Calculate how many aeroplanes you would have to throw into that to have any chance of catching odd aeroplanes as they fly through it. It cannot be done, and there is no expert in Europe who will say that it can. The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves.I think that speech from the Lord President of the Council completely disposes of the idea that there is any security to be found in aerial armament. I think I was right when I said that if the Movers of this Motion had their way, they would, by destroying the Disarmament conversations, lead us not into security but into war, and they would lead us into a war in which, no matter how many aeroplanes we possessed, we should still not have the means of defending ourselves against attack.
I should like, if I am not wearying the House, to refer for a moment to the Amendment. This Amendment is put down, I suppose, for the purpose of securing support for the Government's policy as expressed in the Draft Convention. We on this side of the House do not approve of that Draft Convention in so far as the aerial provisions are concerned. We regard it as a very great advance on what was done before, but so long as it contains the dangerous reservation with regard to bombing, so long as it contains one or two rather half-hearted and tentative features, we feel it is capable of very great improvement.
Those who moved this Motion ask for more money. They ask for more money for the Air Force, more money for the Army, and more money for the Navy. I hope hon. Members realise that the Budget is said to have been balanced only by the expedient of reducing the wages and the salaries of a very large proportion of the population and reducing below the starvation point those unfortunate fellow-citizens of ours who are out of work. If this policy were carried out, it would mean that we must abandon for ever any hope of a restoration of those cuts and a return to any higher standard of life. I regret that it is not possible for me to support the Amend- 986 ment for the reasons which I have given. I hope it will yet be possible for the Government to see their way to make an advance on the terms of the Draft Convention as submitted. Surely it is time that we cut through the entanglements of tonnage and weights and measurements and all these technical difficulties. I quote again from the speech of the Lord President of the Council last year. He said:The amount of time that has been wasted at Geneva discussing questions such as the reduction of the size of aeroplanes, the prohibition of the bombardment of the civil population, the prohibition of bombing, has really reduced me to despair. What would be the result of reducing the size of aeroplanes?That is one of the proposals in the British Draft Convention.
Immediately every scientific man in the country will turn to the making of a high explosive bomb about the size of a walnut and as powerful as a bomb of big dimensions…If the conscience of the young men should ever come to feel with regard to this one instrument that it is evil and should go, the thing will be done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th November, 1932; cols. 632–638, Vol. 270.I submit to the House that the young men have come to that conclusion. The young men and the young women of this country are demanding that disarmament shall proceed at a greater pace and insisting that our security depends upon an immediate accomplishment of some magnitude. I trust that what is being done will not be rendered useless by Motions such as that which has been moved this evening, and that when the result of the Division upon it is made known we shall announce to the world that it has been defeated by an overwhelming majority.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE-BRABAZON
The hon. and gallant Member for Hertford (Rear-Admiral Sueter) summed up his objections to the remarks of the last speaker quite truly and frankly I am not very much impressed by the fulminations from the Fulham Road, because I feel it is within the right of every Member to put down a Motion of this kind. When, in connection with any form of armament, gesture after gesture has been made by this country to the rest of the world with no effect, it is the right of a Member of this House to draw the attention of the House and the country to where we stand 987 in relation to that particular service. If, after years of making gestures to the world for naval disarmament, we found ourselves to-day fifth or sixth in the world in naval power there would be an outcry throughout the country. Yet in a service which I maintain to be even more important, namely the air service, from being first in the world we have made gesture after gesture until we now find ouselves fifth. It is the hon. and gallant Member's right to point out that fact and to make the not extravagant claim that we should at least be equal to our nearest neighbour in air strength. Indeed, the speeches to-night, although I have not agreed with them all, seemed to me to be of the most moderate type and it must be difficult to please the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) if he cannot agree with either the Motion or the Amendment.
I wish again to make a point that I am almost tired of making here year after year on the question of the money which we spend on defence. We can only afford a certain sum and yet every year when the Estimates are brought forward, sometimes the Air Estimates are taken first, sometimes the Army Estimates and sometimes the Navy Estimates and we debate the Air Vote, for instance, before we know what the Navy Vote is going to be. If we can only afford a certain amount for the defence of the country, is it not the province of the House of Commons to decide how that money can best be spent to secure efficiency? That is what the House is meant to do. But it never has the chance. The Estimates for these three Services will be brought up very soon and we shall debate them one by one, each independent of the others. Yet they all relate to the question of defence and defence alone. I am sure it would not upset the most ardent pacifist on the benches opposite if we had a general Debate on the most efficient means of spending the money which is available for defence purposes. There is, I know, a naval programme and there is also an air programme. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, with all the weight of an ex-Chief Whip, has announced that he is going on with three cruisers, and that announcement has been made before the Air Ministry have had 988 time to see what they are going to do. Surely that is a wrong procedure. I do not suppose that we shall he able to introduce a new procedure in this House, but I hope that when the first service Estimate is introduced, for whatever service it may be, we shall be allowed a Debate on the broad question of defence bringing in all three services.
We have been told that we are the fifth air power in the world. That may be—and I think there is a primâ facie case for assuming that it is—a rather ridiculous position for us to occupy. But geography comes into the consideration of this question. I do not think we are very much alarmed at the number of aeroplanes in the United States and, frankly, I do not get very excited about the number of aeroplanes in Russia. I imagine that the Opposition should be concerned about the number of aeroplanes in Japan because that is the country with which we should have been at war had they been in office. I do not think, however, that we are much concerned on that score about Japan. As to Italy, now that General Balbo has been abolished, perhaps we may look with a. feeling of security towards that country also—not that General Balbo was ever an enemy of this country where he was always welcomed as a great friend and sportsman. But we come down to France and Germany. There is little danger really from France to-day. Of course, if Geneva is going to be made a technical reason for war by this country, as is advocated from the other side, it might easily be the case if the Opposition got into power that we should have to fight France. As that eventuality, thank goodness, is unlikely I think we can dismiss the possibility of any threat from France. It is too remote.
We are entitled to ask, however, why should France keep up such an enormous air force? If it is not directed against us against whom is it directed? The answer is, Germany. It may sound a silly answer but it is the real answer. Germany is not allowed military aircraft, but the point which I want to drive home is that to-day there is no difference between civil aircraft and military air-craft. Let that be fully understood. Last Friday I tried to put this point before the House, but at the time I think most Members were having lunch, and I 989 did not seem to make much impression though I did my best. I pointed out with all the force I could that until we divorced civil flying from military flying we should never solve this problem of air armaments.
The trouble when you get down to the question is the subsidies. It is quite true that you cannot maintain great air routes from a country like ours to Africa or Australia without a subsidy. As a matter of fact, Imperial Airways run their London-Paris service economically, and it could pay, but that is the only line in Europe which would pay to-day. There is not one line of civil aircraft running which could exist in Europe to-day without a subsidy, and in every country in Europe money from the Government is being poured into these lines on the basis of nominally helping civil aviation, but really as a reserve of military machines. That is one of the curses of aviation today. I gave a technical solution of the question last Friday. My idea was to compel civil aviation to run on heavy oil engines, which would give them an inferior performance to that of the actual war machines, with the result that the civil aircraft trying to bomb in case of war would be mopped up like a lot of chicken by a really efficient air force, and that would discount the probability of civil aircraft going into a war. If we could introduce that, if our Government could really force this upon Europe, as I think they could, we should be not in the position then of having to build our Air Force up to something bigger; France would automatically see that her danger had gone and would reduce her armaments, and consequently we could very easily, along that line, get to a state of parity with her.
I feel very sincerely for my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State when the House and the country plead that we should have an Air Force comparable with that of any other country. To-day, from the point of view of the air, we are in the same state as we were in with regard to the Navy before the War, when it was felt that if we failed with the Navy the country would be defeated, and the country dare not run that risk before the War. Now we dare not run the risk of being defeated in the air. It may be true to say that the risk is very small. This may be the time, during the next 990 few years, to try to get, through international agreement, some divorcement between military and civil aviation, so that we know exactly where we are, and the fears that lie at the hearts of everyone in Europe could for once and all be dispersed. I believe that if that could occur, small but very efficient air forces would be the order of the day.
But I say again that I have been too long at aviation really to enjoy seeing the position as it is to-day. I have seen so many of my friends killed in trying to develop what is nothing now but an armament. Is that all that civil aviation is going to be? Is it not really a mockery, only a reserve of military machines throughout the whole world? Along the Thames Embankment there is a memorial to those airmen who fell in the War, and upon it are written these words:I bare you on eagles' wings and brought you unto myself.There is too much of the "eagles' wings" about aviation to-day, and it is high time there was some talk of the doves' wings, but until we can force a division between military and civil aviation there is no hope. If you think you are going to solve this question by building squadron against squadron, you will be defeated. You cannot in that way solve this question. My right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council said that the youth of the country must find a solution. The idea of competitive armaments is not the idea of youth; it is the idea of children, be they in their first childhood or their second.
§ 9.20 p.m.
The position in which the Mover and Seconder of the Motion are placed by the Amendment, and the position of those of us who came here this evening to support the Motion, is rather a difficult one. The Amendment, which cuts out all after the word "communications" and inserts other words, unfortunately eliminates the last three lines of the original Motion, and I think I am right in saying, although other members of the Air Committee may get a chance to speak, that what we most strongly felt in supporting the Motion was that the last three lines, which read as follows:and, in particular, to consider the early completion of the home defence force decided on in 1923 as the minimum 991 necessary for our national security and approved by each successive administration since that datewere very important lines. But if the Government are prepared to accept the earlier part of the Motion, I think I, for one, would be prepared to agree, because these words would appear:That this House views with grave disquiet the present inadequacy of the provision made for the air defence of these islands, the Empire overseas, and our Imperial communications.If the Government seriously mean to indicate that they consider also with us that concentrated thought must be given to this problem. I will myself for the time be satisfied. The subject seems to be of such grave importance that it must be approached with restraint and caution, but equally it should be approached with determination. I do not think anybody should be afraid to face the question, which has to be faced by this country, of self-protection.
A little time ago I attempted to indicate, in a letter to the "Times," how anxious I was that nobody should precipitate international misunderstanding by launching into racing, either with ships, with new divisions, or with aircraft. I fear it might easily be misunderstood and do more harm than good. But that was some time ago, and things have happened since which force us to reconsider the whole situation. Since then Germany has thought fit to separate herself from the League, and since then, I am sorry to say, the Dictator of Italy has thought fit to ridicule the League, so that, one way and another, things are changing, and we must keep pace with the changing times. If in this House we find it hard to keep pace with the changing times, how much more difficult is it not for the man in the street? The man in the street is bombarded by one newspaper or another and is expected to remember the various Clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, and if he is not expected to remember all of these, he is certainly expected to know all the Clauses of the Treaty of Locarno. The poor man in the street is in a whirl, and the first duty of the Government today is to clarify the situation for the humble man, the elector, who has from time to time to register his vote in favour of one policy or another.
992 I think there is a way, but it is impossible for a back bencher to do more than suggest, and in order to make the suggestion worth anything, I must ask for a few moments' patience before returning to the main subject of the Motion. The Treaty of Locarno covers so many possibilities that, as I said, the elector is staggered. There is one Clause which, if broken, might possibly lead to war, and that is the Clause which deals solely with our promise to defend France should she be invaded by Germany. I believe the Government would be wise to limit our liabilities to that Clause and to no other. You could never get England to go into a preventive war, nor do I think France would quite expect it. But, turning the matter round the other way, I do not adopt at all a bellicose attitude when I say that England would come to the rescue of France if she were definitely invaded by Germany. If that is so, and that is the feeling that the Government have as to the views of the electors, then the simple thing to do is to form an Anglo-French defensive alliance and let everybody in Great Britain know it.
Coming back to the main Motion: as previous speakers have said, we must see where danger may come from. If we have an Anglo-French defensive alliance, it is obviously not corning from France. It is equally obvious that the only other great nation within reach of our shores is Germany. We mist, therefore, cast our eyes upon conditions in Germany today; we must see if we can unravel the tangle in which we find her. Where she is going to is obscure, but the fact that it is obscure should not make us ignore a statement made by Herr Hitler as late as 23rd November, in which he said, "If such an alliance were in view, I should willingly subscribe to it, for I have no intention of attacking my neighbour." Some people think that Herr Hitler, because he is a German and has been an enemy of Great Britain, must of necessity be a dishonest humbug. I do not see that it is fair to say that, or why a great deal of credit should not be given to him. It is more than likely that he is struggling with an overwhelming problem; that he is not very ably supported, and that he therefore sometimes does not quite know how to get through with his task.
993 The policy we should adopt towards Germany is to give her time. We must put the good intentions of Herr Hitler to the test. Let us watch the progress of the negotiations which are supposed to be taking place between himself and France, and see whether he fulfils his good intentions in those negotiations. I am sure that his programme is to rebuild the civil and social life of Germany. There may be at the back of his mind, or in the minds of others who are with him, an intention to rearm as soon as Germany is able to afford it. But if we are watchful and reasonably trustful, we are more likely to stave off the evil day.
I must come back to the main theme which runs through the Motion, and that is whether our defences, and particularly our air defences, are adequate. That is the most difficult thing to find out. Those of us who can only criticise, as we have no power, cannot do better than fall back upon the advice given to successive Governments by various Prime Ministers. That is why the three last lines of the Motion were inserted. The programme for which we are pressing was first of all introduced by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council who is sitting below me. It was then sponsored by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), and then through its various phases has been brought up to date. But we have two duties to perform, and one is a difficult duty which we cannot avoid: it is a duty to our own population. If those responsible for the safety of the State really think that the country is not safe—whether the danger is great or email, if it is truly in existence—they have no right to mislead the population.
Everybody who has had anything to do with the air knows quite well the way in which Germany has developed during the last 10 years. If the minimum programme of 53 squadrons for home defence was considered to be sufficient to meet the needs of the country in a day when there was no Germany at all, it is obviously far less adequate to meet the situation as we find it here to-day. Further than that, this 52-squadron programme has never been made up-to-date. Worse than that, it has been depleted for the purpose of economies in other directions. Some people say, as hon. Members have said, that bombing could be 994 so easily undertaken that no part of England is safe. If anybody wanted a curious and remarkable illustration of that saying, I could find one in the newspapers. It is the business of those who study the aeronautical journals, of those who watch the development of the air, from time to time to bring these cases and illustrations to the minds of hon. Members who are otherwise engaged. I see that a civil aircraft made in Germany has flown from Berlin to Seville, an enormous distance, and that it reached that town in eight hours. It travelled at an average speed of 230 miles an hour. That same aeroplane could have gone twice from Hamburg to Hull in the same time and have dropped on Newcastle or Hull its entire load with a damage almost incalculable. So, although it may be a mistake to dwell too much on these terrible illustrations, they must not be kept from the public completely or we shall be cheating them the other way.
I therefore ask, are we really, in the minds of the experts, in a safe position? Are we really playing the game? Are we really being honest with our people in leaving things exactly as they are? I submit that we are not, and I submit that with so much sincerity that I am doing my best to refrain from beating the subject more violently. I hope that the Government will see their way to move along the lines of adequate protection. It might be unwise for them to announce a complete programme. They should follow the lines indicated by the Under-Secretary to-day, that in four years' time, spread over that period, the original programme for which they are asking should be undertaken and completed. That would not seem to the public a great expenditure of money, and would show that the Government appreciated these dangers in the air.
Nor do I think it would be fair for hon. Gentlemen, particularly on the benches opposite, to complain that being prepared is rearming. I do not think it is. Being prepared is a most natural thing, a thing that any man does when he goes home and locks his door. Our door is not locked. There are many things we could do which are not offensive internationally but would be of great value to us if we were ever called upon to turn out and produce our might and main: such things as ground organisation in its various forms; separation—as my hon. 995 Friend below me said—of the civil and military sides, and the increasing of the subsidies to the civil side. If these things were done openly, they would represent a great advance in the administration of the Department. There are many other things I could mention, but many other hon. Members wish to speak, so I will just conclude my remarks with one or two more items which have come to my mind.
Preparedness is not rearmament. I do not think that any fault could be found with the word "preparedness" so long as the idea were properly adhered to. The Government must not suggest that there is panic. I do not want to see, any more than they do, panic legislation such as was advocated in one of the leading journals. That was going too far and would undoubtedly have a disturbing and distressing effect upon the international situation. But that is not what the Air Committee are asking for. What they are asking for is that the considered advice of the Prime Ministers of the last three Governments as to the minimum numbers of squadrons for safety in home defence should be acted on and the programme carried through to a conclusion.
Finally, some of us—I my-self perhaps in particular—are in a very difficult position if no indication appears in the White Paper that precedes the Air Estimates. I put questions of national defence before any other considerations. I would not believe during 1912 and 1913 that there was going to be a war, until it actually occurred in 1914. I was one of a great party which refused to consider the possibility of it. We were not ready. I do not want us to be caught again. Is it wrong to be on the right side, to be on the safe side? Is it wrong, not to be on the aggressive side, but to feel at least that the advice given to you for the last 10 years as to what is reasonable in the way of air defence for domestic purposes—not for launching expeditions particularly, but for home defence will be followed? Is it unreasonable for me to say to the Government, "Give us some reason why you cannot provide that at all? Can you tell me that the risk is less dangerous now than 10 years ago? Can you tell me that these 10 squadrons which you have never provided are less needed than they were in 1922, 1923 and 996 in all the years that have gone by?" Otherwise, I shall find it difficult, almost impossible, to support the Air Estimates when they are introduced next spring.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have, for my sins, been twice in the Army and twice in the Navy. That may perhaps excuse a certain lack of orthodoxy in my views. It seems to me that something much more is wanted than an increase in the Estimates. What I am really nervous about is not that the defence of the country is not intended to be sufficient, but that people who are responsible for the defence of the country are not thinking of what the danger is against which they are intending to defend it. We have carried on during the last 15 years without any real danger in this country at all. It has not really mattered what we spent on the Army, the Navy or the Air Force because there was no possible chance of them ever being used. We could go on with the country existing for the benefit of the services instead of the services existing for the benefit of the country. But now, I think, the case is different, and what I want to ask, not from the Secretary of State for War or from any of the Service Ministers, but from the Committee of Imperial Defence, is whether the situation in which we find ourselves to-day is not a completely different one that needs a completely different line of thought, a completely different expenditure of our money, and a recasting of our military and naval views altogether.
I should like to believe, like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Captain Guest), in the expressed views of Herr Hitler. He may be speaking what he honestly believes to be the fact, but if he is not, and we have to remember that he may not be, the situation for this country is completely different. Everybody realises that we cannot stop Germany re-arming. The hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Lieut. Colonel Moore-Brabazon) showed a way in which it was possible to re-arm on modern lines without making any infraction of any treaty at all. I do not doubt that whatever may he done at Geneva or in any future conference on disarmament which does not prevent civil aviation, it will make no 997 difference to the danger of war in future. That all depends upon a clear conviction in the minds of the Committee of Imperial Defence that the war of the future will not be like any others wars of the past. We have not got the money, even if we had the intention, for preparing for war against everybody. War against America—the idea is childish; war against Japan—the risks are insignificant; but here you have an infinitely greater danger. Defeat by Japan or by America would not really shatter England, but if the war is going to be a war in the air with Germany, we have to cut -our coat according to our cloth and prepare for that one thing alone. The Admiralty spends sleepless nights trying to devise how battleships costing £4,500,000 can be beaten by a battleship costing £4,000,000 built in Japan. What does it matter? They will both run away when it comes to a fight, for you cannot afford to risk a thing costing all that money. What really does matter is whether within three hours of the declaration of war this country will be wiped out with bombs.
If we are to go on being prepared, we cannot have a two-Power Navy or an Army that still goes about on horseback. We cannot afford that sort of thing. What is wanted is thought by those responsible for the defence of the country as to what is the greatest risk the country has to face, and then to see how they can revolutionise our defence forces in order to meet a completely new danger. I am nervous about Hitler, of course, but I am also nervous because I know the intense, almost religious conservatism of the Admiralty and the War Office. It took five years of war to shake them out of it and even then it hardly did the job. A man brought up with sailing ships believes in sailing ships and nothing else. I remember in the last War seeing a battery of artillery drawn up, each gun 10 yards apart, Number 1 in his proper place and at attention, and the limbers 20 yards in the rear. The battery was wiped out. They did exactly as they had been told in the drill book, and courage worthy of better knowledge was wiped out because their chiefs could not attune their minds to a new state of affairs.
It is vitally important that the Committee of Imperial Defence and the civil heads of the Admiralty, War Office and 998 Air Force should think clearer and enforce upon the professional expert the necessity of thinking about a new thing in a new way. Take the case of the War Office. We are living in a mechanical age and, whatever the next war is, it is bound to be run on wheels. I think every man in the Army to-day ought to be trained to drive a car, at any rate, if he cannot become an expert mechanic. To know how to fire a rifle is going to be a very small part of the job of getting the rifle there. I know it is said that a certain number can drive cars, and there are a certain number of officers' servants who manage to learn to drive, but that is not training the Army. The great lesson I learned in the last War, when I was for several months in the Navy, was that a gun on a moving platform is about as much use as a sick headache. If there is one gun on shore, with modern detectors, buried underground, concealed absolutely from the Fleet, that one gun, even a 4.7 gun, is enough to prevent any fleet coming anywhere near it. I have seen the "Queen Elizabeth" and other battleships blazing away salvos, shooting the best the Navy can shoot, from a moving platform, hut ridiculed by an Army officer who knew what good laud shooting was. You cannot hit a trench from a moving platform.
The conclusion I drew from the War, and I think it is the conclusion which most people drew who had anything to do with combined operations, is that the gun on board ship is not an up-to-date weapon, that it is not the gun which is wanted on a ship but aeroplanes. A number of small ships, even the smallest destroyers, each carrying an aeroplane, will be infinitely more useful than guns would be on those excessively-moving platforms. Hon. Members have no -idea of how difficult it is to shoot from one moving platform at another moving platform at a range of five or 12 miles. Could not the Navy think that the great and everlasting battle beween guns and armour has about come to an end. In the future a bomb dropped from the air will be 100 times more easy to direct and more deadly upon the objective than a shell. Look at that one small bomb which was dropped upon a warship in the Dutch West Indies. It smashed up the ship, and rendered it utterly useless—although, by the way, it was not intended to hit it. Warfare is revolutionised 999 now that you can get into the air, where you can see, and whence you can send communications right back to the Admiralty, and all over the world, by means of wireless. With that engine of offence the old-fashioned, obsolete, heavy gun becomes fairly useless. I suppose 2,000 aeroplanes could be built for the cost of one battleship, and one of those aeroplanes, if driven by a man of sufficient aetermination, could send that battleship to the bottom. The man may lose his life, possibly he will, but determination is all that is needed. The real difficulty is that everybody has a vested interest—not only the armament firms, but the Admirals, and not only the Admirals but the Generals.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am coming to that. That is where you want it. We could save an enormous amount of money by stopping the building of these ships, by dropping the idea that we have to defend in commerce against Japanese raiders or American raiders and concentrating on the real danger to this country, which is that we shall be smothered with aeroplanes or gas. Turning to the Air Force itself, I daresay there is an excellent case for another 10 squadrons, but what I see is the desirability of building up a reserve of men who can drive the aeroplanes. We can build an aeroplane much quicker than we can train a man to use it. I do not know how many men are included in our Air Force, but I know perfectly well that not one in 10 of them knows how to drive an aeroplane. That task is reserved for the gentlemen; the mcehanics do not do it. That state of affairs, it seems to me, does not comprehend the danger in which this country may be in case of war.
We want reserves of men who may be called upon to go into the air, and if we are to build up such a reserve, the way to do it is not, in my opinion, by subsidising civil aviation, but by having shorter service in the Air Force, so as to pass through it and to train every man who has the courage to go into the Air Force. I do not believe people realise, simply because we do not think about it so much, what an easy thing it is to go 1000 into the Army or the Navy compared with going into the Air Force. You require no courage at all in the Navy—
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
—except in the officers manning the ship. Yes, because in a ship you cannot run away. Nothing that anybody on board a ship does can save him if the ship is hit. The ship goes to glory, and they all go there too. In the Army you require a certain amount of courage to lead infantry and get them into the shell-holes, but in the Army you are kept up to your duty by the fact that everybody will see it if you are afraid. It is the presence of your companions there which stiffens your upper lip. The fear of disgrace makes you do your duty in the Army. But in the Air Force nobody will see you if you do not do your duty. Oh, I know that aeroplanes fly in formation, but how long do they remain in formation 1 In the Air Force you require a far higher type of courage than in any of the other services, because the man who is going to do his duty in the air risks his life without anybody knowing it. Therefore, if there are people in this country who are willing to go into the air service, for goodness' sake let them all go in and get trained. And I would see that they were rewarded on a scale commensurate with the talents required. The way to increase the reserve of man power is by shortening the period of service and passing through the service everybody willing to take the risks.
I want to see whether we cannot get better value for money and better security for the country without going to additional expense. Cannot the Committee of Imperial Defence think out these problems in order to see whether the complete change that has come over warfare and the completely new danger that faces this country—,a greater danger than we have had since 1914—cannot be met more effectually by using our brains, and by the civil heads of the fighting departments forcing their will upon their military and naval subordinates.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Mr. WHITESIDE
I do not intend to criticise the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), because I find myself in complete 1001 agreement with most of what he said. I would, however, like to draw the attention of the House to four words in this Motion "and our imperial communications." I am sure that the House will agree that if it is necessary for us to maintain an Air Force at all that Air Force should be sufficiently large to fulfil the duty which is entrusted to its care. Let us consider one point in our lines of imperial communication, Malta. The arguments which I shall use are equally applicable to Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Singapore and many other strategic points in our Empire. Malta is the coaling station of the Navy. It is the focal point of protection of our Eastern trade routes. Not one ship in the Royal Navy or one merchant vessel could go into Valetta harbour, if an enemy had command of the air at Malta. Every ship in the dockyard and every poop in the harbour would be blown to smithereens. What protection have we against aerial attack at Malta?
There are only two ways of preventing aerial attack. One is to possess a force sufficiently large to drive off an enemy, and the other is to have a force that can snake a counter-attack so decisive that it would not pay an enemy to launch an attack against us. What air forces have we at Malta? We have one flying-boat squadron. Hon. Members will appreciate the size of a squadron. That one squadron is supported by the Fleet air-arm, represented by the "Glorious," which carries three squadrons and one spotter squadron. Within one hour's flying of Malta, nearer than London is to Paris, lies Italy, with 750 first-line aircraft. Yet we are told that we must disarm, and that it is because we have maintained the right to use aircraft for police purposes, not in Europe but in far-off India, that we have jeopardised the Disarmament Conference. Did ever an Opposition so blatantly endeavour to mislead the electorate?
Let me turn to Gibraltar, which protects the narrow Straits through which our food ships must come. Those Straits are narrower than the Straits of Dover. In close proximity to Gibraltar is the French African Air Force. What machines have we at Gibraltar, to protect our interests? We have not even one "dud" civil machine. We have no aircraft of any description. And yet we are told 1002 that we must disarm. That is the argument which has just been used by the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot). We have not the machines with which to disarm. We are urged by the Opposition to send strong notes to Germany and to Japan. If one of our ambassadors delivered a strong note to a continental Power to-day, he would be told to go home and tell this country that if we did not behave ourselves, we would, like naughty boys, be deprived of our suppers. When a country possesses an adequate force, with reserves behind, no enemy knows exactly by what force he will be opposed if he launches an attack. But we have an inadequate Air Force. We have practically no reserves, every country knows exactly by what force they might be opposed. It is only right that this country should know the facts and should not listen to a lot of sentiment.
One hon. Member has referred to the "Daily Mail" newspaper. I should have thought that he of all people, by this time, would have realised that the "Daily Mail" has been consistently attacking the Leader of the Conservative party for years, and that the attitude and the policy adopted by the "Daily Mail" is not the policy of the Conservative party. It certainly is not the policy of the Air Committee of this House. We do not want 10,000 fighters. We believe that if the policy of the "Daily Mail" were put into operation it would indeed jeopardise the peace of Europe. All that we ask is that the 10 squadrons which, 10 years ago, were laid down as the minimum number for security for this country—a number which was acknowledged by two Labour Governments, of which the present Leader of the Opposition was a member—should be built. It is because we feel to-day that we are insecure and that our food supplies are inadequately protected, that we have taken this opportunity in the Debate to tell the country the truth.
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ Captain FRASER
I rather deplore the tendency to make the question of Empire defence a party matter, because I cannot help thinking that it is a matter for all good citizens, that they should think about their own safety without regard to party politics or electioneering advantage. I read in the Lobby correspondent article 1003 in the "Times" newspaper this morning a brief statement about this Debate. There would be a Debate on the air, he said, and it was expected that the House of Commons would express the view that the electors were not ready for rearmament. That is by the Lobby correspondent whose business it is to seek the minds of Members of this House. He seeks and that is what he thinks he finds. If that is so, how deplorable.
Is it our duty to allow what might be thought to be the minds of the electors, and the fear of our position at the next election perhaps, to stand between us and considerations of the country? It surely cannot be so. It is a very painful thing to throw overboard the feeling that humanity is sufficiently sensible to negotiate peace. I have come to it since the War. I have supported whole-heartedly the League of Nations and the effort made to bring about a sense of greater security by discussion. While I think that it is right and proper to pursue all those means, the whole of the people should be behind the Government in any discussion or negotiation which may bring the possibility of peace a little nearer. Meantime, what is the position of this Island? If trouble should arise in Europe and should threaten us, there would be no forgiveness for a Government or a Parliament which neglected to provide adequate defence.
I ask myself whether it is true that we are too weak in the air and have not the cruisers to protect our commerce. It would be too late, afterwards, to say that we made every possible gesture and that we tried to use the moral argument. Surely the evidence has shown us that moral argument without force to support it does not cut very much ice. It is a dreadful thing to have to say, but the idea that we should be afraid of our electors when the safety of the country and the integrity of the Empire are at stake is positively shocking.
I believe that there are various links which keep the Empire together, some sentimental and some otherwise. I am sure that one of them is the belief in the Empire that this Motherland will be able to protect herself and her lines of communication in case of struggle. I wonder if that confidence is now as great as it has been at other times? I honestly 1004 believe that the Forces of the Crown are inadequate for the purposes for which they would be required were trouble to arise in Europe, and I feel that it is the duty of every Member who believes that to say so in his constituency. I believe that the majority of Members think that, but are still wondering—many of them are, I know—whether the time has come to say so. Let them say it, and let them get the people to realise that, in the world as it is now constituted, the only real safety lies in a strong right arm, and in the power to use its strength in the proper place and at the right time.
There is one other point. I am not one of those who want to get the civilian population panicky about war, but it is certainly true that in the old days, when war was a, matter for experts and professional soldiers, sailors and airmen, they were taught every measure of defence. If now war is a matter for the civilian population, is it not time that the Committee of Imperial Defence gave consideration to the question of teaching the civilian population also how to defend itself? The matter, quite obviously, has been discussed and gone into by the greatest experts, who must have views about it; the only thing they can be in doubt about is as to when is the time. I believe that the time is now—not because of any particular immediate threat, but because it takes a very long time for the people to realise what the peril is, and to come to think sanely about it. It might not be a bad thing if voluntary lectures were given, and if some of the instruction which is already given to fire brigades and other organisations were spread a little more widely, as to how civilian people ought to behave in case some of the modern weapons, which can be used, were used among them. I do not think our people would be so foolish as not to take a reasonable view about preserving their own existence if they knew the facts, but, so long as the Government are assuring them that negotiations are likely to bring about a solution in Europe, the people are apt to say, "Very well, let it stay there." We are not a people who look for trouble, and I am not suggesting that we should look for trouble, but I think it is time that Members who, in the Smoking-room and privately among themselves, have a perfectly clear view as 1005 to the inadequacy of our armed forces, should be prepared to stand up and say so in their constituencies.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I have listened to every speech that has been delivered in this Debate, and I think I shall not be exaggerating if I say that the thought in the minds of a large number of those who are here to-night is that we are back 20 years. The Debate to-night is very reminiscent of Debates that took place quite frequently between 1910 and 1914. The arguments are very like the arguments then advanced; the fears apprehended are very like the fears that were then apprehended; the exhortations are exactly the same exhortations as were then advanced. The only thing that is missing is that we have not identified the enemy. Several hon. Members have been making oblique suggestions as to who might be a possible enemy, but clear identification is as yet lacking.
The party of which I am a Member has been engaged in recent months—and not merely in recent months, but throughout its lifetime, for that matter—in vigorous advocacy of the principles of peace between nations; and in particular, in recent years, it has advanced the cause of disarmament to the best of its ability. make no apology for that. It is quite true that we have done it, and I hope we shall continue to do it so long as we have voices to give expression to our views. But, because we have done that, we have been accused of in some way misrepresenting the situation, of scaremongering and so on. If the electors from the various constituencies where by-elections have taken place in recent months could have been in this House to-night, and could have listened to the speeches in support of this Motion and the Amendment, I think they would agree with me— I do not want to exaggerate it—that all that the Labour party has said concerning the dangers of the international situation from the point of view of our contribution to it has been abundantly justified by what we have heard to-night.
I would like to ask who, after all, is responsible for having occasioned these doubts concerning the pacific intentions of the Government and its supporters? Is it we? Will hon. Gentlemen deny what I think is an ascertainable, undeniable fact, that the Conservative party 1006 itself, at its own annual demonstration, carried an explicit resolution about increased armaments, saying: "Let us have done with this policy of disarmament"?
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
That was carried. And not only that, but we have heard expressions of opinion from representative speakers. Here is a Motion, advanced by supporters of the Government, in which we are again invited to consider the claims for increased armaments in respect of one arm of the Service. Not so long ago the Admiralty got in with its extra cruisers—[Hon. MEMBERS: "No!"]—extra-sized cruisers; I am sorry. Here now is the Air Ministry being encouraged to put in its claim. Significantly enough, this week there was published a document, which I understand would normally be regarded as a secret document, giving us the result of certain manoeuvres which took place in the Mediterranean, and we are told that certain deductions are to be drawn from these manoeuvres. Why we are invited to read this document now I cannot understand, except that it is curious that we are getting this tremendous drive on every hand for increased armaments—the Navy, the Air Force, and I have not the faintest doubt the Army will not be outdone in this business. They, too, will come along presently with a demand for increased armaments. To-night we have this Motion. But that is not all. There has been an announcement in another place, which I heard myself, concerning the Government's policy in regard to air armaments. I understand the Lord President of the Council—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Anything that has taken place in Debate in another House cannot be referred to.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Are we at liberty to ask the Lord President whether he will make a similar statement to that which has been made, or a statement dealing with that statement which has been made in another House by the Secretary of State for Air? I do not understand that the rule is that we cannot refer to a statement made in that House. I understand we must not quote from speeches made in another place.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It goes rather further than the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I do not think there is anything wrong in an hon. Member saying he understands that a pronouncement of Government policy has been made elsewhere.
§ Mr. JONES
That will satisfy me, and I will not carry the controversy any further. An announcement has been made in another place, and I, therefore, ask the Lord President if he will take this House also into his confidence when he speaks later, so that this House may know precisely what the attitude of the Government is in regard to air armaments. As I understand it, our position in regard to the Motion is this: First, whatever the merits of the proposition embodied in the Motion may be, I should submit that it is extremely ill-timed. The Disarmament Conference is still in being. Very substantial difficulties have been encountered in connection with that Conference; nevertheless, it is still in being, and we presume, indeed we understand from pronouncements that have been made in the House, that it is the faith of the Government that sooner or later conditions may prevail which will enable the Disarmament Conference to be carried to a successful issue. If that is the view of the Government—I hope it is the view of the hon. and gallant Gentleman too—I submit that it is an ill service to the Government, which itself has propounded a draft convention which has been accepted as the basis of discussion at Geneva, to queer the pitch by propounding this proposition before the Disarmament Conference has been able to arrive at some final conclusion. I do not anticipate that the Conerence will be able to conclude its labours immediately, but 1008 it must surely soon arrive at a decision upon the general principles embodied in the draft convention.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me how long the Disarmament Conference has been sitting?
§ Mr. JONES
It has been sitting since the beginning of last year, and, of course, there was the preparatory committee before that, but, since so much time has already been devoted to the subject, that ought to enable us to believe that much less time will be necessary to arrive at some sort of agreement upon general principles. And until that agreement is arrived at, I submit that this is an exceedingly ill-timed Motion. In addition, I want to take the question of principle of the hon. and gallant Gentleman and submit to him that it really is in days like these somewhat futile—I know that it will sound unorthodox to him—to suggest that we should increase enormously our expenditure upon armaments and enlarge the measure of our equipment in air armaments. I will tell him why. What I represent in this matter is not new, because more authoritative persons than I have expressed themselves on this matter long ago in this House. Surely, you have no right to mislead the public of this country, even in the matter of armaments being a source of security. Are the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his friends in a position to be able to say to the people of this country: "You spend X millions of pounds upon this form of armaments, and in return we will give you security." The hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot give an affirmative answer to that proposition.
§ Mr. JONES
Please. Unless you can answer that question affirmatively, I submit that it is inviting the public of this country to spend millions upon the hazard of that experiment. You are inviting them to do something which you are not entitled to do. Consequently, not only am I entitled to say that that 1009 is a false proposition to offer, but I cite in my support the Lord President of the Council, who has been quoted already in the House to-night. He told us last year in a speech which will be memorable long after we have gone from the scene, that it is literally impossible to guarantee absolute security to anybody from invasion by air. That is on his authority, and he says that the Government of the day—and not only our Government but other Governments—have not any expert anywhere who can give them that assurance. If you cannot get that assurance, why mislead public opinion in the belief that expenditure of X millions of pounds will give them some sort of security in that way. In that respect, I see that an evening paper to-night says:One of the oracles declares that a minimum of 216 fighting machines can defend London, while we have only 156 available. But General Groves, formerly Director of Flying, recalls that in 1918 we had 400 machines, 480 guns, 700 searchlights, and 15,000 men trying to defend London, and they were all 'barely adequate' to ward off the 40 German aeroplanes sent to bomb the City.That is not my evidence, but evidence taken from that article, and it all tends to show how fallacious it is to rely upon increased aerial equipment to guarantee security against invasion nowadays. Not only do we as inexpert people say so, but experts tend to confirm our opinion as to the futility of relying upon this type of defence. In the ultimate resort it seems to me that we shall have to go back to this final issue—either we accept for the future, both in air armaments and other armaments, re-armament for Europe, or we shall have to accept the other alternative of disarmament for Europe. I should be glad to know the view of the Government, having regard to the fact that we are told that the Government will have no option but to begin building upwards by continuing our efforts to secure international agreement, and fixing a parity to which other nations will subscribe.
We have to make up our minds—I said this a fortnight ago, and it is vitally important to us as it is to the rest of Europe—whether we are going to contemplate rearmament among the nations of the world. If there is to be rearmament, then from the hon. and gallant Member's point of view there is some- 1010 thing to be said for his Motion, but if the point of view is what I have always understood to be the point of view of the Government, namely, that we have to turn our faces in the direction of the limitation of armaments or to disarmament, then the Resolution is ill-timed and indefensible. We take the view, and we have tried to advance it here before, that in the ultimate resort you have to tackle this question of armaments in Europe and the world by agreement, and we have advanced the proposition that the time has come when you ought to consider the international control of aviation and in particular, if you like, civil aviation, because it is no use talking about military aviation being controlled without considering also civil aviation.
The hon. and gallant Member opposite said, quite frankly, that you could not settle this problem by dealing with the military side alone, because civil aviation is subsidised by nations to such a degree that even the development of civil aviation in the end will only subserve the interests of the military if the occasion should arise. I should like to suggest that many of the objections advanced against the international control of civil aviation are not nearly as formidable as hon. Members would sometimes seem to suggest. I admit that there are great technical difficulties, but it is quite clear that even if aviation develops as it does now, each nation concerned with its own development, the experts will compel the nations to arrive at Conventions with each other for various purposes. Two or three international Conventions have been arrived at recently in the aviation world. There is the Warsaw Convention and the Rome Convention dealing with third party liability. Conventions of that sort will be forced upon aviators by reason of acquired experience. There is this advantage in regard to the aviator compared with the military or naval man, that the flying man in his daily work—I am not now speaking of the military side but the civil side—traverses foreign countries day by day. Those who fly from Croydon to Paris fly over French territory, and get accustomed to French ways and acquainted with French customs and manners. Their daily task compels them to acquaint themselves with the mentality of the people over whose territory they pass. Therefore, 1011 owing to the very nature of things future necessity will drive us to arrive at some sort of convention or agreement in order to make ordinary developments of aviation possible.
That is a different proposition from formal international control of aviation. It means that an international mind and an international approach is becoming more and more inevitable by reason of the very necessities of the times. We hope that the pronouncement which the Lord President of the Council is going to make, or the interpretation he is going to give of the announcement made in another place, will be favourable from our point of view. Let me recall to the right hon. Gentleman's attention a statement which he made at Birmingham, that we either stopped the development of armaments or we get launched upon a competition between ourselves and other nations. In the latter event, said the right hon. Gentleman, it is goodbye to social reform for a generation or for half a century or more. In that I am in entire agreement with him. The party for whom I speak believes in developing the social services of this country. Any further expenditure on armaments must cripple these social services, and we believe that it will be a far better contribution to the health, happiness and contentment of our people to develop our social services than to embark on the hazardous experiment of giving a false sense of security to the people by a large expenditure on armaments.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Baldwin)
I have sat through almost all of this most interesting Debate, and I draw quite a different inference from it than that drawn by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Member who brought the subject before the House. Let us remember that the reason for bringing forward the Motion to-day was to call attention to the inferiority of the position of this country with regard to certain armaments, a position which has occurred solely because of the sincerity of the efforts of this country to get a reduction in armaments. At a moment when there is a good deal of anxiety in the world I cannot blame the two hon. and gallant Members for 1012 having brought the matter before the House and for having discussed it so temperately as they have done. The hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Motion was a pioneer not only in the air service of this country but in the antiaircraft defence of London, and the other a gallant airman in the War.
I should like to remind hon. Members opposite of what they may find difficult to realise and hard to believe, but probably they have not had the experience I have; and that is that the most ardent pacificists, using the word in its best sense, are among the soldiers and sailors and airmen of our country who took part in the last war and who know what the next war will be like. And when they come to us and speak about the security of the country, I think we might at least give them credit for the motive that lies behind what they say. I would remind the House, and particularly the Opposition, among whom there are not many who have yet shared the responsibility of government, what a tremendous responsibility rests upon the Government of this country at any time, in this, that they are striving for peace by agreement, or rather, let me say, striving for disarmament which will make war more difficult; because peace, ultimately, is a matter of will and not of armament.
I should like to tell the House that on Armistice Day, at the old University of which I have the honour to be Chancellor, there was a procession; a procession of gentlemen who carried banners bearing the words "No More War." They were very ardent in their cause. The sequel will show that they had not the will. They met a number of gentlemen who were offended at this procession taking place on this day and who barred their way. The "No More War" gentlemen were determined to go on; the others were determined that they should not; and soon there began one of the historic fights of Cambridge University, in which the "No More War" party fought with all the gallantry of the bulldog breed, a gallantry that the Leader of the party opposite would like to see us all exercise to stop wars. I just mention that in passing, to show that there must be the will, and I think a great many of the Members of this House of all parties have the will.
There is one other observation I should like to make on a Motion which is a 1013 private Member's Motion. I do wish to be clearly understood, and particularly by my hon. Friends who opened the Debate. A Minister comes down to elucidate matters on a Debate of this kind, or if he thinks there is something in the Resolution which is moved which it might be wiser to argue. He does not come down to dictate. He has not the power to dictate if he wants to. The House is free to come to any decision it likes by an unfettered vote. I have no wish to interfere with it. Let that be perfectly clearly and plainly understood. In 1923—in the June it was, I think—the scheme for the Home Defence Force in the air, which has been alluded to several times to-day, was first brought before Parliament; and I must remind the House that we have consistently lagged behind that programme—Conservative Governments and Labour Governments—and that has been done, whether wisely or not, deliberately and with the assent of the House of Commons. The same is true of the cruiser programme. Cruiser construction was slowed down by Conservative Governments, and, I think, by Labour Governments, although I seem to remember that they did not make up a deficiency caused under my Government.
I mention that to show what a contribution and an example we have made, and I want to say here what I have said before: that we cannot remain indefinitely as we are. One hon. Member said, "Can there not be a time limit?" I do not think we can fix a time limit. It is perfectly clear that there must be agreement before too long or there will not be agreement, but I shall come to that in a moment. It is equally clear that we cannot stand alone in the world in our present position with regard to defence, whether in the air, or at sea, or on the land, and I think that should be made perfectly clear both in this country and abroad. For that reason, the Government agree to accept the sentence about inadequacy—and on that understanding which I have just mentioned.
I would like to refer to the speech which I made some months ago on the air which has been liberally quoted from to-day by the hon. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot). That was my profound conviction—what I said that day. It is my profound conviction still, and I gather from various speeches that there 1014 are many parts of it which commend themselves to hon. Members who have addressed the House this evening. But, since that time, I recognise that the world is not prepared to go as far as that yet. I believe the time will come. I hope it will, but we have to go in all these matters as far as we can. Let us consider for a moment the three alternatives which I put to the House on Monday and which again were referred to this evening. The first alternative is disarmament to the level of Germany's disarmament. Again, there are immense difficulties in the way of effecting that. One of my difficulties here, and of anyone indeed who has to speak on this matter, is that they cannot tell all they know. It is impossible. If I were to stand here and to say where the difficulties are, and who the people are who raise those difficulties, it would be perfectly impossible ever to advance one inch with regard to disarmament. One's lips are sealed.
The second alternative is a limitation of armaments doing away with the big and heavy offensive weapons, which would mean that Germany would be allowed the weapons which she has now got, up to the limit of the convention. Those countries which had exceeded that limit would have to come down and countries which were inside that limit could please themselves as to what they did. But I am certain that for the defence of this country we should have to be on equal terms with the other countries in the convention. That form of limitation, although I know it falls far short of what hon. Members opposite would desire to see, would at any rate make aggressive war infinitely harder than it has been in the past, and it has this advantage, that in working it under direct international supervision, which I believe to be an essential corollary, we should know at the end of a few years whether all the nations of the world, if they once came in, were abiding loyally by it. If they were, you would have there a jumping off ground for further disarmament. It may be that the dream of many in this House might he, if not wholly, partially realised within a time that many living may see, and that in itself is far, far more than many would have expected 20 years ago, or even thought possible only a few years ago. We have naturally, from the wording of the Motion, been 1015 discussing the air to-day, but let us never forget, in discussing defence, that we have been looking at only one angle of it and that we must consider it, as regards the United Kingdom and the Empire and our commerce, as a whole, of which the air is indeed a very important part, and possibly in some ways the most, vital part. Our world responsibilities and indeed our own defence here, if war should come, must involve every arm.
I understand that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), part of whose speech I am sorry I did not hear, touched on a point touched on by one or two other speakers, and that was the necessity of examining and considering the defence Estimates as a whole. I may say that I am in full agreement with that, and I speak for the Government when I say that they too are in full agreement. In fact, regarding the Estimates of the coming year, which will be presented within a few months now to this House, those Estimates will be examined on that basis, on the basis of the united defence of the country. We shall see what we have to spend, we shall know then what the disarmament position in Europe is better than we know it now, and we shall go very carefully into the three Services concerned to see where we can best repair deficiencies in the defence as a whole. I am sure that that is the right way to work, and it is the way that we are adopting this year.
But what has made me a little nervous about the form of this Motion is the disarmament situation itself. Everyone knows how delicate that is. I have by no means, and I am quite sure that none of my colieagues has, lost hype at all. We are going on, and we are going on by every means that we can to achieve an agreed result, but the first thing, as is obvious and as has been said both by the Foreign Secretary and by myself in speeches, and possibly by other Ministers, is this, that contact must be established with Germany.
Now on the Continent they are not extraordinarily familiar with our system of procedure. We know in this country exactly how much value to attach to a Motion that may be carried unanimously in the House on a private Members' night. It does 1016 not bind the Government of the day. If they were to read abroad in the newspapers, in Paris, Berlin or Rome, that the House of Commons had passed this Motion as it stands, they would regard it as a definite commitment of Government policy. What would be the result of that? The result would be that Germany would see this country, which for 10 years has been holding its hand in armaments in the hope of achieving results by a Convention, whose expenditure during the last five years has decreased on effective armaments whereas those of Japan, Italy, France and Russia (Russia more than any of them) have all gone up, suddenly announcing to the world that it is going to increase, or wants to increase, quickly, its air armaments, and that is one of the armaments which at present is denied to Germany.
How in those circumstances could Germany appreciate our good faith, when she feels, "Well, after all, here is England, who has been holding back her air programme and her naval programme for 10 years, now suddenly, when she thinks there is a chance of agreement, beginning to move ahead and to make a still greater difference between herself and us"? It would in my view create the worst possible atmosphere in that country, at a moment when, if we are to get a settled Convention, it is essential that the conversations should take place in the best possible atmosphere. That is the reason which led me to intervene in this Debate and to address these few words. to the House. We value at this time particularly the support of the House of Commons in going forward to pursue this most difficult aim of disarmament and to try to save the Convention at a moment when many hands are lifted against it, at a time when there are difficulties so obvious that I will not mention them, but which must be plain to everyone who has eyes to see them and who casts those eyes round the world.
Therefore I hope that, if it seems fit to my hon. Friends who introduced this Motion—if they feel that I have spoken on this subject with sympathy and with understanding—they may see their way to support an Amendment which we would gladly accept as a Government and which we should regard as giving us a backing for the work that lies before us. I am afraid that it is almost too much to ask 1017 hon. Members opposite to join in that attitude. They have their own views, strong views, which we respect and which were put with force, as usual, by the hon. Member who spoke. I would only say to them that it would be A real help to the cause which they have so much advanced in this House if the House on this occasion could speak with a single united voice.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The question that we really wanted the right hon. Gentleman to answer is not answered. That is the question. May I hand to the right hon. Gentleman the quotation, which I Am not allowed to read?
§ ,Mr. BALDWIN
To be quite frank, and I am always frank with the right hon. Gentleman, I have not the slightest idea what has been said in another place today. I had not the slightest idea to what he referred, and I certainly cannot possibly on the strength of an extract without its context, which I have not even read yet, offer an opinion. I have stated my own views, which happen to be the views of the Government, and I do not think could have spoken much more clearly. I have nothing to add.
§ 10.56 p.m.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Ministers do not as a rule make very serious statements about anything, especially on a matter of such supreme importance as this, and it is extremely difficult with your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to put the subject in a way which I should have thought for the public interest it should have been put—straightforwardly here this evening.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think that what has occurred shows the very salutary nature of that Rule. Some hon. Members were able to hear what was said in another place and others who stayed here were not able to do so.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I want the Prime Minister and the Lord President of the Council to understand that an important statement of Government policy on this matter has been made in another place. About that there is no question, and I 1018 want most emphatically to protest against the right hon. Gentleman not dealing with it here this evening.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I must refer the right hon. Gentleman to the Rule, which is perfectly definite, and which is that a Member may not refer to a Debate in another place which has taken place in the same Session of Parliament.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am not referring to any Debate at all. I am saying to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House that an important statement on Government policy on air defence ought to have been made in this House to-night. The right hon. Gentleman has just made a statement, and he has not been able for some reason or other—perhaps because there is not that proper connection between Ministers that there ought to be—to tell the House exactly what the Government policy is. In these circumstances, we can only register our opinion by going into the Lobby against them if there is a vote on either the Motion or the Amendment. I have followed this Debate and the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and if it means anything at all it means that he sympathises very much with the statements that have been made in the Debate, and that, unless we almost immediately get a settlement, the Government are determined to increase armaments instead of remaining stationary. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"l That is our opinion, and we shall register that opinion in the Lobby.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I put this point. A statement has been made in another place. Is this House to be precluded from discussing that statement once it has been broadcast outside and become a question of public policy? Has it not ceased to be a statement in the other place the moment it is conveyed to the country?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Hon. Members have not referred to it except as a, statement in another place, and that is out of order.
§ Rear-Admiral SUETER rose in, his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."1019
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.||[11.3 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gledhill, Gilbert||Pearson, William U.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Goff, Sir Park||Penny, Sir George|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Petherick, M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Hammersley, Samuel S.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Hanbury, Cecil||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Hoare, Lt -Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Blindell, James||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O J. (Aston)||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-|
|Borodale, Viscount||Hopkinson, Austin||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rickards, George William|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E.R.)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Janner, Barnett||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Burnett, John George||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Leckie, J. A.||Scone, Lord|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Liddall, Walter S.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Smith, R. W.(Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Copeland, Ida||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Soper, Richard|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||McKie, John Hamilton||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Magnay, Thomas||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Eden, Robert Anthony||Maitland, Adam||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon, Walter||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Templeton, William P.|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Martin, Thomas B.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Milne, Charles||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Williams, Charier (Devon, Torquay|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Morrison, William Shephard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Wing-Commander James and|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Captain Gunston.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Edwards, Charles||McGovern, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Banfield, John William||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jenkins, Sir William||Price, Gabriel|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Buchanan, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lunn, William|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.|
§ Proposed words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put.1020
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 151; Noes, 31.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 139; Noes, 30.
|Blindell, James||Harbord, Arthur||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Borodale, Viscount||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E.R.)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Rickards, George William|
|Burnett, John George||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Leckie, J. A.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Marry, Reginald George||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Liddell, Walter S.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Scone, Lord|
|Copeland, Ida||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Groom-Johnson, R. P.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Sinclair, Col.T. (Queen's Unv.,Belfast)|
|Cross, R. H.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Soper, Richard|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Donner, P. W.||McKie, John Hamilton||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Spens, William Patrick|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Magnay, Thomas||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Eden, Robert Anthony||Maitland, Adam||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Martin, Thomas B.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Milne, Charles||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Moore-Brabwon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Titchfleld, Major the Marquess of|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Morrison, William Shepherd||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Palmer, Francis Noel||Womersley, Walter James|
|Goff, Sir Park||Pearson, William G.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Penny, Sir George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Wing-Commander James and|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Petherick, M.||Captain Gunston|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jenkins, Sir William||Price, Gabriel|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Buchanan, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lawson, John James||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lunn, William|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McEntee, Valentine L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Edwards, Charles||McGovern, John||Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.|
That this House views with grave disquiet the present inadequacy of the provision made for the air defence of these islands, the Empire overseas, and our imperial communications, and confirms its full support of the policy of His Majesty's Government in working for the objects in respect of air policy which are declared in the British Draft Convention.
§ The Orders of the Day were read, and postponed.