HC Deb 24 February 1936 vol 309 cc207-13

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,611,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1936, for expenditure beyond the sum already provided in the grants for Air Services for the year, including expenditure consequent upon the special measure taken in connection with the Italo-Abyssinian dispute.

12.18 a.m.

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

The greater part of this Supplementary Estimate of £1,611,000 net is due chiefly to the measures taken in connection with the Italo-Abyssinian war. These special measures necessitate d substantial expenditure on transportation, additional technical equipment, the provision of temporary accommodation and general stores. The expenditure on these special measures amounts to just over £1,000,000. The balance of the provision in the Estimate, £604,000 net, is due to the fact that the progress on the expansion scheme which was announced in the Supplementary Estimate in July last, has been more rapid than was anticipated. The bulk of the additional expenditure under this head falls on the Works Vote, Vote 4, for acquisition of lands and the pushing on with aerodromes. I do not think I need say anything more at this late hour. These are briefly the reasons for the additional provision required, and as this provision is for the purposes already fully accepted by the House in principle, I hope we may now have the Vote.

12.19 a.m.


I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.

The same consideration applies with regard to this Vote as to the last one, and I propose to move a reduction of the Vote by £100, practically formally, except for one point of correction that is necessary in regard to what the Under-Secretary has just said. The statement is that this Vote is for the main part of it for purposes connected with the situation arising from the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Estimate he will find that taking the gross figure into account and allowing for appropriations-in-aid and savings upon other Votes, Votes 2, 3 and 4, the total amount of expenditure for the Air Force expansion is practically the same as for other purposes and as a matter of fact, over his own signature is a statement that Air Force expansion accounts, not for £600,000, but for £1,000,000. Subject to that correction, I move formally, reserving the general discussion to a more appropriate moment.

12.20 a.m.


I am very sorry to detain the House at this late hour, but there are certain matters to which the House ought to give consideration, and this specially applies to the Air Vote. In moving it the Minister dwelt on the fact that the greater part of the Supplementary Estimate dealt with the acceleration of expansion. The Air Force is a new service and even this Supplementary Vote at this time brings forward certain matters of principle and certain questions about which the public at large are very much concerned. There is a general feeling in the country, which has found its way into the Press, that the acceleration of expansion, as the Minister calls it, is being made the excuse for a terrific profiteering ramp in providing aeroplanes and other supplies for the Air Services. There has been nothing like it since the boom of 1929, or since the early days of the War for that matter. Look at the enormous profits that are being made. I do not want to weary the Committee, but I want to give one example. On the shares of 20 aircraft companies —


Does the hon. Lady suggest that this could be done without legislation, or alternatively, how is the Air Ministry responsible for it?


If you will forgive me, Captain Bourne, I was merely going on to ask the Minister what lie proposes to do. I know perfectly well that the answer will be that he is not responsible for these profits, but it must be obvious that these vast sums in some ways will be passed on to the cost of the commodity.


The hon. Lady has just stated that this is a Stock Exchange matter. What causes her to suggest that the Air Ministry has any responsibility in this matter?


If you will forgive me, that is precisely what I am about to ask the Minister. What control has he over the Stock Exchange? Obviously he has no control over it, although the Government might take some if it wanted to do so. I want to ask the Minister what he proposes to do to ensure that the profits that will be made —


We are not dealing with profits that will be made, but with the sums to be voted in this Estimate.


Quite so. I therefore ask the Minister whether we can 'have on this Supplementary Estimate—which is in itself more important than the others because it is the beginning of what the Minister himself described as the acceleration of expansion—some assurance that his Department is taking the very greatest care to see that these profits are not passed on to the community, which will have to foot the bill—or, if I may put the matter in another way to meet you, Captain Bourne, that this Supplementary Estimate that we are now voting is, in fact, to be used to provide the most efficient service possible, and not in order to provide profits for the people who are behind this ramp. This seems to me to be an extremely important matter at the present time, and I think it would be well if we could have some assurance from the Minister regarding the costings department he has set up, as to how efficiently it is working and how the public is being protected in this matter.

12.28 a.m.


The hon. Lady has opened up a rather wide and important subject, and one which, I think, can perhaps be discussed more suitably in the Debates which we shall have in the course of the next few weeks. I would like to assure her, however, that the Government is watching this matter extremely carefully. We are not responsible in any way for the boom in aircraft shares, nor are the companies respon-

sible. Moreover, the boom has nothing to do with the payments to be made for aircraft by the Government. But the Government are determined to take all possible steps to ensure that the prices that we pay for our armament requirements shall not be in any way excessive. We are also convinced that the industry will help us and co-operate with us in this matter.

Question put, That a suns, not exceeding £1,610,900, be granted for the said Service.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 82; Noes, 258.

Division No. 56.] AYES. [12.29 a.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Muff, G.
Adamson, W. M. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Oliver, G. H.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hardle, G. D. Paling, W.
Ammon, C. G. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Parker, H. J. H.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Henderson, T, (Tradeston) Potts, J.
Banfield, J. W. Hicks, E. G. Pritt, D. N.
Bellenger, F. Holland, A. Ritson, J.
Benson, G. Hopkin, D. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Bevan, A. Jagger, J. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Broad, F. A. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Rowson, G.
Bromfield, W. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Sexton, T. M.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Kelly, W. T. Silverman, S. S.
Buchanan, G. Kirby, B. V. Simpson, F. B.
Burke, W. A. Lawson, J. J. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cove, W. G. Leonard, W. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Logan, D. G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Daggar, G. Lunn, W. Stephen, C.
Day, H. McEntee, V. La T. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dobble, W. McGovern, J. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Ede, J. C. MacLaren, A. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) MacMillan, M. (Western Isles) Tinker, J. J.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mainwaring, W. H. Whiteley, W.
Frankel, D. Marklew, E. Wilkinson, Ellen
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Garro-Jones, G. M. Messor, F. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Mliner, Major J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Montague, F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Mr. Charleton and Mr. Mathers.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Bowyer, Capt, Sir G. E. W. Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B. Craven-Ellis, W.
Agnew, Lieut. -Comdr. P. G. Bracken, B. Croft, Brig. -Gen. Sir H. Page
Albery, I. J. Braithwaite, Major A, N. Crooke, J. S.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Briscoe, Capt R. G. Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Brocklebank, C. E. R. Croom-Johnson, R. P.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Cross, R. H.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Bull, B. B. Crowder, J. F. E.
Apsley, Lord Burghley, Lord Cruddas, Col. B.
Aske, Sir R. W. Burgin, Dr. E. L. Culverwell, C. T.
Assheton, R. Burton, Col. H. W. Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Butler, R. A. Davies, C. (Montgomery)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Campbell, Sir E. T. De Chair, S. S.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Cartland, J. R. H. Dodd, J. S.
Balniel, Lord Cary, R. A. Donner, P. W.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Castlereagh, Viscount Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Dugdale, Major T. L.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Duggan, H. J.
Belt, Sir A. L. Channon, H. Duncan, J A. L.
Bernays, R. H. Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Dunglass, Lord
Birchall, Sir J. D. Chorlton, A. E. L. Dunne, P. R. R.
Blair, Sir R. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Eastwood. J. F.
Blindell, Sir J. Clydesdale, Marquess of Eckersley. P. T.
Boothby, R. J. G. Colfox, Major W. P. Eden, Rt. Hon. A.
Borodale, Viscount Colman, N. C. D. Edmondson, Major Sir J.
Bossom, A. C. Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cooke, J. D, (Hammersmith, S.) Emmott, C. E. G. C.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Courtauld, Major J. S. Errington, E.
Erskine Hill, A. G. Levy, T. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Lewis, O. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Everard, W. L, Liddall, W. S. Salmon, Sir I.
Findlay, Sir E. Lindsay, K. M. Samuel, M. R, A. (Putney)
Fleming, E. L, Liewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Sandys, E. D.
Foot, D. M. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.
Fraser, Capt. Sir I. Loftus, P. C. Scott, Lord William
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Lumley, Capt. L. R. Seely, Sir H. M,
Fyfe, D. P. M. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Shakespeare, G. H.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G. Shaw, Major p. S. (Wavertree)
Gibson, C. G. McCorquodale, M. S. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.) Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Gledhill, G. MacDonald, Rt. Hon M. (Ross) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Gluckstein, L. H. McKle, J. H. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Goldie, N. B. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Goodman, Col. A. W. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Maltland, A. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Makins, Brig. -Gen. E. Somerset, T.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Manningham-Buller, Sir M. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Griffith, F Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.
Grimston, R. V. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Spender-Clay Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Gritten, W. G. Howard Maxwell, S. A. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (Wm'l'd)
Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw', ll, N.W.) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Guinness, T. L. E. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Storey, S.
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Guy, J. C. M. Moreing, A. C. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hamilton, Sir G. C. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Hannah, I. C. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Sueter. Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Harbord, A. Nail, Sir J. Sutcliffe, H.
Harris, Sir P. A. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. Tate, Mavis C.
Harvey, G. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Palmer, G. E. H. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Peat, C. U. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Heneage, Lieut. -Colonel A. P. Penny, Sir G. Touche, G. C.
Hepburn, P. G. T. Bnchan Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Perkins, W. R. D. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Holmes, J. S. Petherick, M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Turton, R. H.
Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Pilkington, R. Wakefield, W. W.
Horsbrugh, Florence Plugge, L. F Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hulbert, N. J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Hunter, T. Power, Sir J. C. Warrender, Sir V.
Jackson, Sir H. Pownalt, Sir A. Assheton Waterhouse, Captain C.
Jones. Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Radford, E. A. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Raikes, H. V. A M. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Jones, L. (Swansea, W.) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Ramsbotham, H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Rankin, R. Wise, A. R.
Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Kimball, L. Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Wragg, H.
Latham, Sir P. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Ropner, Colonel L. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Leckie, J. A. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'nderry) Major George Davies and Dr.
Leech, Dr. J. W. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Morris-Jones.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.