§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."
I do so in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the action of the Secretary of State for War in making, in a foreign country, immediately prior to the assembly of the League, a public pronouncement which conflicts with the declared foreign policy of His Majesty's Government and the treaty obligations by which this country is bound. This afternoon, questions were addressed by the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) and other hon. Members, to the Prime Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—relative to those statements, which were made in Paris. I regret that the Prime Minister was unable to be here to reply to them. I regret that he is not able to be present at this Debate. The Prime Minister, above all, is responsible for maintaining that discipline in a Cabinet which is vitally necessary to the carrying on of efficient government, and is responsible for seeing that the policy which is laid down by the Government is laid down first and foremost in this House. I understand that the Prime Minister is resting. It cannot be that he thinks there is a lull. There is certainly no lull in foreign affairs, and there is no lull in Ministerial indiscretion; in fact there is rather a storm.
Let us be quite clear as to the circumstances in which Ministers speak. A Minister cannot separate, in a public pronouncement, his individuality and his Office. The Prime Minister said the other day that the observations made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a recent dinner were made entirely upon his own responsibility. That is entirely contrary to the constitutional position of Ministers in this country. Ministers cannot divest themselves of their position and make public statements about high matters of public policy, and then say, "We are not speaking for the Ministry; we have no collective responsibility. We are merely giving vent to our own passing fancies," especially when a Minister is speaking at the Head of a great Department. The right hon. Gentleman, who is Secretary of State for War, was speaking 116 in a foreign country, and he was speaking on foreign affairs. He was speaking at a time when the condition of foreign affairs was extremely delicate, and at a time, too, when there had been staff conversations arising out of foreign affairs between the staffs of this country and France. Therefore, it behoved him to be doubly careful in all that he said.
This was not just a meeting at which a Minister made a speech haphazard and without preparation. We heard from the Home Secretary to-day that this speech was considered. The right hon. Gentleman submitted a draft of the speech to the Foreign Office, and subsequently altered it in certain respects in response to their suggestions. Therefore, there is no question that it was realised that this speech was important. We are also told that in its final form the speech did not come under the personal notice of the Foreign Secretary; and so, one gathers that at some stage or other it was submitted to the Foreign Office, whether only to the officials or to the Foreign Secretary we do not know, that then there were alterations and that the Foreign Secretary did not see the final draft. The speech was being made at a dinner for the purpose of cementing Anglo-French sentiments, an object which we all agree to be most desirable. We have not an authoritative report, and therefore we have to depend upon the Press. I have compared reports in various newspapers in this country, and I have compared them with reports in the French newspapers. I find a pretty close agreement.
May I now refer to some of the phrases which the right hon. Gentleman used? Those extracts seem to me to indicate at least indiscretion. To make a plea for mutual understanding between this country and France, to press for the closest co-operation between the two great democracies of Western Europe, is one thing, and I believe it is a most desirable thing; but it is quite another to use phrases which seem to imply something much more than close co-operation and friendship, which have been interpreted in the Press as indicating a desire for a close military alliance—phrases indicating, first of all, that there is an absolute necessity that this country and France should always stand together in war, a "geographical inevitability." The right 117 hon. Gentleman stressed another phrase—it may have been only a rhetorical phrase—"the Covenant of the Entente Cordiale." But he did not stress another Covenant at all—the Covenant of the League of Nations. He said that friendship between these two countries was a matter of necessity; he said, "Your frontier is our frontier." In fact, what it came to was the absolute necessity for an Anglo-French alliance. I gather that the League of Nations was only mentioned in the course of a humourous anecdote, and, as I say, the Covenant was not mentioned at all.
It is not so much his positive remarks as his omissions and exclusions that are liable to cause embarrassment. To stress overmuch friendship with one country may lead, possibly, to other countries wondering why some stress was not laid on the need for friendship with all countries; and, further, his position seemed to be to deny that any question of public right came into foreign relations. He put it all on the ground of necessity. I was sorry to see that he referred to the War of 1914 as having been fought by this country only in its own interests. Well, they did not say that in 1914. When Sir Edward Grey stood up in this House and made his memorable speech, lie did not use the language of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not use the language of self-interest. He was urging that we should stand by our treaty obligations to Belgium, that we should stand for the public law as against the wanton attack. But the right hon. Gentleman has taken up the line that, apart from public law, there is an absolute binding necessity that we and France should stand together.
That is where, I think the seriousness of the position comes in. It is in effect a denial of our obligations under the Covenant, and certainly also of our obligations under the Locarno Agreement, because the Covenant of the League of Nations runs clean contrary to the idea that by self-interest one country should be bound to another and should engage in its quarrel right or wrong. Our obligation is to stand against an aggressor whoever that aggressor may be; and equally that obligation is binding on France; if this country were the aggressor, France would have to stand against it. The Locarno Treaty was not a Franco-British alliance against Germany, 118 or an Anglo-Belgian alliance against Germany, or an Anglo-German alliance against France; the whole idea of Locarno was one of mutual assistance. Locarno is killed if as a matter of fact there is some overwhelming necessity that binds two of the parties together. That is why we say that the right hon. Gentleman has gone against what is up to the present the declared policy of the Government.
I think, too, that in this matter we must consider whether it is really desirable that Ministers should constantly meddle in the affairs of the Foreign Office in this way. I wonder whether it is very helpful to the Foreign Secretary, whoever that Foreign Secretary may be. The Prime Minister told us that, when the present Foreign Secretary took over, he said to him:So far, you have had roses, roses all the way, but before long you will get brick-bats."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 23rd June, 1936; col. 1721, Vol. 313.]He did not know that his own colleagues would be dropping the brickbats. I wonder what the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say if the Foreign Secretary made a few remarks about taxation and the like—if, some four or five weeks before the Budget, he made a great speech saying that there should be no more Income Tax, or that tea should not be taxed. I think he would tell him to mind his own business, and he would be quite right. I wonder what the Secretary of State for War would say if, just before he presented his Estimates, the Foreign Secretary made an airy speech somewhere in the country talking about the great traditions of the cavalry, or the need for getting rid of the cavalry, or the need for more tanks. He would tell him to "keep off the grass."
After all, the Home Secretary was perfectly right in the reply that he made to-day in the House. He said that the place for a declaration of Government policy is in the House of Commons. Our principle of Cabinet responsibility means that those policies that are laid down by the Government must be adhered to by the members of the Cabinet. We have got a long way away from the go-as-you-please methods which were suggested in 1931—that agreement to differ. I do not think it has ever been very effec- 119 tive. I am certain that this is not a time when one can have Ministers running round the country delivering themselves of different policies in this irresponsible way, and the spectacle it presents to the world is of a Cabinet in dissolution, of a Prime Minister who is a sort of Little Boy Blue away at Chequers fast asleep while the sheep are all over the place. We see the utter irresponsibility of this Government. We think it is time the Prime Minister should come down to the House and tell us plainly what the Government's policy is, and that, thereafter, Members of the Government who cannot control their tongues should hold them. We on these benches are not attacking in the least the spirit that no doubt emanated the right hon. Gentleman in his desire for the closest co-operation with the French people. On the contrary, we desire that close co-operation with the French people, and with all other people all over the world. But we are not prepared to say that, under whatever guise it may be, we are to be tied to an absolute military alliance. That, after all, is what happened in 1914—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Member must not go into the merits of any difference between the policies which it is suggested has been declared.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I am contrasting this with the statements that we had from the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister in the Debate last week, in which they laid down their policy over and over again as a policy of desire to carry out the principle of the League of Nations and collective security. We say that any suggestion of an alliance of this kind—an alliance in which one country is bound to another, right or wrong, by some overwhelming necessity—is contrary to the spirit of the League of Nations, is contrary to the Covenant, is contrary to Locarno is contrary to the obligations which this country has undertaken, and is contrary to the professed policy of this Government.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that there were a, great many things in the speech of the Secretary of State for War in Paris which would command, if not unanimous, at 120 any rate a very large measure of, approval in this House, and with which I would certainly agree. There were, for example, some eloquent passages in which he stressed the importance of friendship between the French people and ourselves, and explained the dangers by which Western democracy is faced from certain tendencies in Germany; and those passages would, I think, be generally applauded in nearly every part of the House. It was when the right hon. Gentleman went on to say in so many words, "Your frontier is our frontier," that he passed from a discussion of those general principles of policy, he passed from agreement with what the Prime Minister had declared was the policy of the Government in the last Debate that we had on foreign affairs and he plunged clearly for a policy of military alliance, which we on these benches, at any rate, repudiate, and which is inconsistent with the policy which the Prime Minister laid down. In the Prime Minister's speech last week in which he expounded the policy of the Government, there was a very eloquent passage in which he referred to Waterloo—to the British waiting there for the arrival of the Prussian Army to defeat the French. Then he referred to the Great War, where the French and the British fought side by side against the Germans. He went on to say:I felt this: Has not the time come when it is possible for these three great countries to get together?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1938; col. 1730, Vol. 313.]Then, a few days later, the Secretary of State for War goes to Paris and asks the French people in their own capital whether the time has not come for these two great nations to get together against a third. That is the gravamen of the charge which I feel bound to bring against the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He said:Everything in which we believe is being turned to ridicule. The only titling that matters is the race. Indeed, at this moment in Europe people are teaching that liberty is a false ideal, and that obedience to a man's will is the highest form of human activity.That is quite true. All these are things that I agree with, but it was in dealing with them that the right hon. Gentleman went on to say:and your frontier is our frontier.121 It is from the other side of that frontier that these dangers are threatened. It is there that I prefer the approach of the Prime Minister when he said the object of the Government's policy was not to emphasise the frontier dividing the French and British from the Germans, and the Italians if you like to include them, but that the object of our policy should be to bring these great nations together and to pursue a policy of peace in co-operation with all these great nations. I believe that it is for that policy, which is the policy of the League of Nations, as opposed to the policy of military alliances, that you can win an almost united public opinion in this country. But the right hon. Gentleman passed from that policy and talked of the common frontier—talked of the covenant that was sealed in blood. What covenant was that? That is what the right hon. Gentleman spoke of. He spoke of the covenant and the entente cordiale, which though only a verbal covenant was sealed with the blood of the youth of Britain and France. Was not that a reference to two nations united against a third? My statement was amply justified from the right hon. Gentleman's own speech.
It is not only these passages in the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I have referred that are alarming, but it is also alarming that in these days of very great difficulty in Europe the leaders of this nation should be speaking with so many voices. The Secretary of State for War in another speech a fortnight ago said:I think it is the duty of all those persons in authority to frighten the people of this country out of their wits.If that is their duty, I should never have accused this Government of neglecting it. But I think this is the thing that is frightening the people at the present moment, when they see a series of speeches, made sometimes it may be by the Secretary of State for War, sometimes by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I remember a speech last year by the Secretary of State for Air denouncing collective security.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that the Debate must be confined to the difference between the right hon. Gentleman's 122 speech and the declared policy of the Government.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and was not called to order, and that is why I transgressed. I will certainly keep closely to the speech of the Secretary of State. It is one of several examples lately of a speech the purport of which is at variance with speeches delivered by other important Ministers, and in this particular case with a speech delivered by the Prime Minister in this House only last week. I believe it is of very great importance that, in this very difficult situation with which the country is faced, the Government should decide its policy and state it clearly—state a consistent theme clearly to the House and to the country, and convince the country that it has a purpose to which it will hold with tenacity. A speech like that of the Secretary of State for War, at variance with that of the Prime Minister only last week, marks the Government's infirmity of purpose, injures the prestige of this country and endangers the prospects of peace.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I usually find myself, on these discussion upon questions connected with foreign affairs, in very general agreement with the right hon. Gentleman, at any rate on many points, and very often with the views that are expressed from the official Opposition benches, and I should be sorry if anything occurred as the result of this Debate to weaken what, I think, is the growing consensus of opinion throughout the House as to the general direction in which we should advance. I was, therefore, sorry that the right hon. Gentleman should, as it were, seem to pick a quarrel with the Secretary of State upon the actual wording of his speech. I took the trouble to procure a copy of the final draft in its French form, and I have read it from beginning to end. In regard to all speeches that one is going to criticise very severely, it is a good thing to read the whole of the speech, and then one sees what the setting of any particular argument is. I think I can say that, if my right hon. Friend had read the whole of the speech in its setting, he would not have found 123 occasion to make all the criticism that he has made. In its sentiments nothing could be more admirable, and I should have thought nothing could be more admirable to the right hon. Gentleman who, although at the head of an exiguous band of followers, nevertheless raises the Gladstonian standard and defends it with the most vigorous eloquence.
What, then, are the sentiments in this speech, and how do they differ from the declared policy of His Majesty's Government, and indeed from the general view of the House of Commons? There is a strong defence of the rights of the individual, and the conception that it is the State that exists to serve the individual rather than the individual who is to be a mere pawn in the hands of the State. There is nothing wrong about that. Then there was, I think, a strong deprecation of the glorification of war and the training of children from their youth up to have these ideas of war inculcated. Such ideas were denounced and detested, and I have not the slightest doubt that the right hon. Gentleman could from his vocabulary find even stronger terms to denounce them. Then that is all right. Then there were a number of passages about the natural sympathy that exists between Parliamentary and democratic nations who have what are called liberal institutions, I suppose with a small "1," and which, naturally, tend to have many ties of association, moral and sentimental, between them. There, again, I should have thought, if the right hon. Gentleman had been one of the guests at the dinner, his heart would have swelled with satisfaction, and even enthusiasm, to find these views, of which he and his friends are earnest exponents, put forward by the Secretary of State. Well, that is all right, too. I should like to say to the right hon. Gentleman that he is having a lot with which he is satisfied and, having regard to the fact that so many of these sentiments were all that his own heart would wish and all that his own tongue could express, he might have been a little less captious in the scrutiny and examination that he made of some phrases that occurred in the speech.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
At the beginning of my speech I expressed my agreement with all those sentiments to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Much depends on the emphasis put upon it. If the right hon. Gentleman was going to make an attack upon the Secretary of State, he foresaw quite clearly that in the main that speech had expressed his own views and convictions. He foresaw very clearly the argument that would be used against it, and endeavoured to discount it by making a very brief reference to the fact that there were things in it with which he agreed, and then proceeded to pass a most severe censure upon it, and tried to create the idea of a difference in foreign policy where I cannot for the life of me see that any difference between the Secretary of State and the Government and the Prime Minister exists. I do not under-rate the importance of the speech. Of course, it is important. Ministers in high positions cannot speak on public matters without importance being attached to what they say, and the theory that they should all remain absolutely dumb on all occasions, awaiting illumination and guidance from the head of the Government to be given ex cathedra, is one which would mean a restriction upon our public life which it has never borne before.
I certainly think the speech of the Secretary of State was a statement of policy, but is it a statement of new policy? Does it not lie within the broad ambit of the policy which the Government have declared? The procedure that my right hon. Friend adopted seems to me to have been most scrupulously correct. He actually sent his speech beforehand to the Foreign Secretary, very rightly, and the Foreign Secretary examined it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Certainly, in the first instance. All we have been told is that it did not come in its final form. The two Secretaries of State, very important Ministers, who enjoy a high measure of respect, consulted together over the speech, and modifications were made in it by the Secretary of State for War at the request of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Certainly.
§ Mr. THURTLE
From the reply given to-day by the Home Secretary there is no indication whatever that the Foreign Secretary ever saw that speech at all.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I certainly understood that he did. [HON. MEMBERS "No!"] Then I state, according to my 125 information, which no doubt can be verified or disproved by the Government, that that is what took place, and it seems to me that there is very little in it to say that, though the speech was consulted upon by the two Ministers concerned, the final draft did not come under the eye of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Is it suggested that, after these Ministers had reached an agreement upon what should be said, the Secretary for War went away and made a final draft which did not correspond to the agreement which they had made? It cannot be that there was such a suggestion in any way. Therefore, it seems to me that in making a speech of this kind, the Secretary of State for War acted fully in accordance with what were the necessary proprieties of one colleague to another in the course of public business.
The question to which you, Sir, most rightly and strictly, limit our Debate, is whether there is a contrast between the speech of the Secretary of State and the policy of the Government. It seems to me that the speech of the Secretary of State lies well within the policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, I think it was—or was it the Leader of the Opposition?—referred to the staff conversations that had been taking place. Well, can you compare a speech of this kind in general terms, of a courteous and ceremonious character, on a festive occasion of good will, on the celebration of fraternal good will between Great Britain and France—can you compare a speech of that kind with the grave, sombre meeting together of technical experts from the different countries, from the two countries concerned, with Belgium added, not all the countries, but the two particular countries who have a common frontier, preparing to defend the common frontier, who were not merely making speeches about it, but military experts making plans and preparing to defend that common frontier in case that common frontier should be the object of unprovoked aggression? With that fact staring us in the face, surely, is it not boggling at very much smaller matters to make all this tremendous attack upon a speech which the Secretary of State made, and which fell far short of the facts as they have been approved by this House?
There is another question which may arise. It may be said that although the 126 speech of the Secretary of State did not go beyond the actual facts and policy of the Government, it indirectly went beyond them by its untimeliness. There, again, I cannot feel that there is any ground for saying that. There have been great labour troubles in France, and we, too, have had in our past labour troubles, but very often foreign countries exaggerate the effect of troubles which are going on in another country and form wrong conclusions thereby. They do not realise that a country may be having a lot of internal disputes and even strikes and so forth, and yet, if danger confronts the whole country, it would be united as one. It was timely to speak a word of comfort to the French people. The Leader of the Opposition paid a visit to France himself a little while ago. I am not going to dwell upon that, except as an illustration in procedure. It seems to me that for the Leader of the Opposition to open up, as it were, separate diplomacy with the head of another Government—
§ Mr. ATTLEE
This is a serious matter. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that when I saw M. Blum he was not the head of the Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The strict formalism of the right hon. Gentleman undoubtedly protects him in that respect, but his action in going to the Prime Minister designate, or who was about to become Prime Minister, was at least as open to criticism as the friendly mission which the Secretary for War undertook. Anyhow, I do not cavil at the right hon. Gentleman's act; indeed, I think it was rather a sensible thing in a way for the democratic representatives of the two countries to be in friendly touch. I think that it is a good thing that the ties of friendship which subsist between us and our nearest neighbours, the French people, should be multiplied by friendly contacts of this kind. We would make a great mistake if we tried to pretend that any new declaration of policy has been made. What has happened has been that there has been a friendly contact, and a very excellent speech, admirable in sentiment, has been delivered of a kind to make good will between France and Great Britain without casting any aspersions upon any other country, unless that country harbours aggressive intentions. I hope that His Majesty's Government are going to pluck up their courage and are 127 not going to apologise, and whittle away the speech of the Secretary of State for War. I trust that they will not. The Foreign Secretary who undoubtedly accepts, and must accept, an effective measure of responsibility for that speech, has acted wisely at this juncture in encouraging or allowing his colleague to make a gesture of this kind in Paris. I trust that nothing will be done to weaken the force and effect of that admirable gesture, and that, on the contrary, that speech may play its part in the unfolding of a general design and purpose in our foreign policy which, as is asserted on all sides, is needed if we are to make effective headway against the growing dangers which encircle us.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), with his usual astuteness, has sought to draw a red herring across the trail. No one on this side of the House objects to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War paying a friendly visit to the capital of our neighbouring country, France, but the very fact that in the German Press there has been considerable criticism of the speech which the right hon. Gentleman delivered last week, is a sufficient indication that in the mind of many people a different interpretation can be placed upon that speech from that which was placed upon it by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). When he suggests that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War has as much right to visit Paris as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, he is merely trying to draw a red herring across the trail. The question that we have to decide to-night is whether the speech of the Secretary of State for War in any way conflicts with the declared policy of His Majesty's Government, and it is no justification for anyone to argue, as the right hon. Gentleman has just argued, that nine-tenths of the speech is innocuous. The Home Secretary has had a much greater experience in the Courts than I have, but he as well as myself has had actual experience of persons being convicted and sent to prison in respect of one particular sentence out of a document which was otherwise entirely innocuous. Therefore, 128 if only one sentence in the speech of the Secretary of State for War was a declaration of policy different from that which has hitherto been the policy of His Majesty's Government, that in itself would justify the action which hon. Members on this side of the House have taken to-night.
The Secretary for War used two phrases which justify the suggestion put forward by the Leader of the Liberal party that, in effect, he was arguing in favour of a return to a military alliance between this country and France. There is no Member on this side of the House but desires the greatest friendship with the French people. There is, I trust, no Member on this side who desires the French nation to undergo again the experience they went through in 1914 or even 1871. That is an entirely different proposition. What is apparently the difference between hon. Members on this side of the House and hon. Members on the other side is as to the system which shall seek to regulate the relations between and afford protection to the various nations of the world. So far as the Government are concerned they have, since last year at any rate, stood behind the collective peace system. Unfortunately, the events of the last few months have caused many people not only in this House but outside to doubt whether or not the Government are prepared to stand four-square on the collective peace system. When the Hoare-Laval episode took place we had an illustration of their point of view, that they linked individual responsibility with collective security for themselves, but that is a very different matter from supporting a policy of collective security for all the nations of the world. Therefore, we are entitled to be suspicious of the intentions of the Government when we read a speech such as that which was made last week by the War Secretary.
I should like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that any Cabinet Minister who makes a speech on policy, whether it deals with home affairs or foreign affairs, is expected to be speaking to the policy for which his Government stand, and, therefore, if it is a reasonable interpretation of his speech that he was seeking to declare to the French nation that we stood in unity with them, that their frontier was our frontier, 129 it could only mean to the average French citizen that in all circumstances any violation of the French frontier will be regarded as a violation of our frontier, and just as any violation of our frontier would mean that we should resist it by every means at our disposal, so we should resist any invasion or violation of the French frontier by every means at our disposal. That may be so, provided we are acting within the terms of the Covenant of the League of Nations. It is no use, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, to enter into treaties such as the Treaty of Locarno, whereby we in effect seek to act as the guarantor of the security not only of France but of Germany and Belgium, if a few years later we are going to declare through the words of a prominent Member of His Majesty's Government that the French frontier is our frontier. If we are to be consistent we should say that the German frontier and the Belgian frontier also constitute our frontiers. Many of us believe that the only frontier worth considering is the Covenant itself, the world frontier. Many hon. Members opposite are sceptical on that subject. They are always prepared to pay lip service to the League of Nations, but when it comes to the testing time they find every conceivable kind of difficulty in order that they may argue that it is an impossible and impractical proposition.
I should like to remind the Secretary of State for War that he could not do better on a future occasion than take the advice of his own leader, the Prime Minister. In 1924 accusations of grave indiscretion were made against the Labour Home Secretary of that time. He had made a speech at a by-election advocating a policy for which the Labour party has always stood, namely, the peaceful revision of the Treaty of Versailles. Whether he was right or wrong is another matter; the fact is that he made the speech. He spoke on a Saturday night and the speech was reported in the Sunday newspapers and also in the newspapers on the Monday. The polling day was on the Thursday. I am sure that the action of the Opposition had nothing to do with the fact that the polling day was on the Thursday, but they raised the matter on the eve of the poll, on the Wednesday night, and in that Debate the present Prime Minister made this statement: 130If this Debate has done nothing else it will have brought home to Ministers, present, past and prospective, that no deviation can be made from that strict line of conduct which is demanded by the responsibility that one Cabinet Minister owes to another and to the Cabinet and to its chief. If it brings that home to them, this Debate will not have been held in vain. The House is very jealous of its honour, and of that aspect of its honour which affects those who sit on the Front Ministerial Bench. Into the reasons for the growth of that sense of responsibility, this is hardly the time to go, but it must be perfectly obvious to every Member of the House that if Members of the Cabinet are allowed to speak at large their own private views on home affairs, and much more on foreign affairs, they may create a false impression before the electorate at home, and again, what is far worse, a false impression of the intentions of the Government in foreign affairs, which to-day are of such a critical nature."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1924; col. 629, Vol. 170.]If conditions were of a critical nature in 1924 I suggest that they are of a much more critical nature at the present time. If it was important not to create a false impression in the minds of people abroad in 1924, how much more important is it to avoid that false impression in 1936? It is no use the right hon. Gentleman saying: "I did not mean what the Opposition say I meant." Rightly or wrongly, newspapers throughout Europe are placing upon the speech an interpretation which may be completely at variance with the interpretation which the Home Secretary may give us in a few minutes. The fact that that false impression, if it be a false impression, has been placed upon the speech, does not lessen the grave indiscretion of the right hon. Gentleman in placing himself in that position. Therefore, I hope that the Home Secretary will make it perfectly clear to the House, to the nation and to the world at large, that the War Secretary has been misunderstood, that the policy he sought to adumbrate was in no sense a return to any kind of military alliance or military understanding with the French Government, that in spite of his eloquent words all that he meant to convey was that the British Government were determined to face up to their obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations and their obligations under the Treaty of Locarno.
Even if that be the case, we are still entitled to say that it is very unfortunate 131 that he ever made the speech, but it would do a great deal to assure public opinion in this and other countries, especially in Germany, that there is no desire on the part of the British Government to enter into any kind of arrangement with France or with any other country which would close the door to a peacefully inclined Germany. Let us give them every opportunity. I know that there are many people who are sceptical of the intentions of Germany. There are many people in Germany who are sceptical of the intentions of people in this and other countries, and it is this distrust, which has developed in the last few years, which will lead the world into war once more. I hope the Government will make it perfectly clear to the world that the foreign policy of the Government, in spite of what has taken place in relation to Abyssinia, is to stand four square on the Covenant of the League of Nations.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. HAROLD NICOLSON
I shall intrude for only a few moments on the patience of the House, and I do so, not merely as representing the National Labour group, but as one who through a long and perhaps misspent life has devoted much study to the theory as well as to the practice of diplomacy. From that study I have derived many doubts, a few principles and one conviction. My conviction is that the personal mission of a Minister abroad is the most dangerous form of diplomacy which can possibly exist. I know that I stand on the razor-edge of order and that if I continue to discuss that matter I shall be slipping into disorder, but I merely say that the personal mission of a Minister abroad to negotiate diplomatic contracts places that Minister in the position of being not the master of his opportunity but the slave of an occasion. If it were true that the Secretary of State for War had gone to Paris in order to act as in itinerant Minister I should be the first to vote for the Motion of hon. Members opposite. But did he do so? He did not. Did the right hon. Gentleman negotiate anything? Did he conclude anything, or enter into a single commitment or pledge on behalf of the Government or this House? Was there a single opinion to which he committed His Majesty's Government or 132 this House? Nothing of the sort. He could not go as a private individual.
I agree with hon. Members opposite that a Cabinet Minister can never be a private individual. He went there as an important British figure, to give sympathy and encouragement to the French nation at a moment of great internal difficulty. He spoke quite rightly of the great debt which he owes to French culture. He has repaid that debt by writing the best biography of a French statesman that has ever been written. He spoke in terms of the solidarity, geographical and democratic, of the two countries, and if he touched on politics, if he did anything to give a political and diplomatic colour to his statements, he did so in terms which, as the right hon. Gentleman for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has said, were less expressive and less precise than those which have been stated in this House and approved by this House and backed by the Government. There was no point at which I could discover—I have read the whole text of the speech with a rather professional and jealous eye—the slightest conflict with Government policy.
I pass from what the right hon. Gentleman said, because I gather it is not really the cause of the indignation of hon. Members opposite, so much as why he said it, the principle rather than the actual facts. Surely hon. Members opposite realise that it is absolutely essential, if we are going to educate our democracy into a conception of their responsibilities in foreign politics, that they should be told certain things, and if this veto is to be passed on all mention of foreign politics at home and abroad then the veto should stand for the statements of hon. Members opposite as well. I have read a great many speeches and leading articles in foreign newspapers in which the statements of hon. Members opposite, His Majesty's Opposition, have been twisted, I admit, and garbled, I admit, to represent the policy of His Majesty's Opposition as something which would in fact fill them with horror and dismay.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
Hon. Members are aware that the Debate is limited to the terms of the Motion, which deals solely with the speech made by the Secretary of State for War: 133in a foreign country immediately prior to the meeting of the Assembly of the League, a public pronouncement which conflicts with the declared foreign policy of His majesty's Government and the treaty obligations by which this country is bound.I do not think we can go beyond that on this occasion.
§ Mr. NICOLSON
I apologise for having gone beyond the Motion. The Secretary of State for War made a speech which in certain points has aroused the indignation of hon. Members opposite, who claim that it is in conflict with the declared policy of His Majesty's Government. I think I have said enough to deny that implication. Hon. Members opposite cannot point to one statement made by the Secretary of State for War which is not completely composed within statements which have been made from the Government bench with the approval of this House.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Is that the Government's view? I think it is very important that we should know before the Debate is over whether the Secretary of State for War in his speech declared the policy of the Government. Two statements have been made to which the Home Secretary should reply. The first was made by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), that the Foreign Secretary approved of the speech beforehand, that it was submitted to him. I hope the Home Secretary will answer that point. The second statement is by the hon. Member who is now addressing the House, that the speech of the Secretary of State for War represents the policy of His Majesty's Government. It is important that we should have a reply.
§ Mr. NICOLSON
I am unable to anticipate the Home Secretary's answer, but I should like to say to the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that I never said that the speech of the Secretary of State for War represents the policy of the Government. I merely said that the right hon. Gentleman's speech did not conflict with the policy of the Government and did not imply anything which has not been stated on previous occasions from the Government bench. I am not stating a positive; I am denying a negative, and in that I am absolutely justified.
I go further. If this Motion be persisted in, what does it imply? How will 134 it be taken abroad? What is the policy of the Government? The policy of the Government is, I admit, fully majestic arid obscure, but there are tendencies discernible in that obscurity. One of those tendencies is our friendship with members of the League of Nations as against those who are not members; and Germany is not a member. Therefore, it was right that in going to France, the right hon. Gentleman should reflect that tendency by referring in terms of warm friendship to France and without mentioning Germany particularly, because at this moment Germany is most unfortunately not a member of the League. He was dealing in terms of Western Europe, and if one is doing that one must deal in terms of League members. I see nothing wrong in that or anything conflicting with the policy of the Government or with the great general issues with which we are dealing in this country regarding France or Germany. I would go further and ask the right hon. Gentleman what will be the effect if he persists in this Motion and convinces the world that this country and this House consider that a definite expression of friendship and solidarity on a democratic basis with France is a constitutional heresy.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
We have all agreed on this side of the House—and I thought the whole House agreed—that we are thoroughly sympathetic to the speech as far as it expressed solidarity and friendship with France, but there are specific points on which we have challenged the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. NICOLSON
I am not questioning the right hon. Gentleman's intentions, which I know to be as sincere and as considered as our own. It is a question of responsibility that I am raising. Is it right that the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition in such a case should get up and question a speech regarding which, although he agrees with all that is amenable to himself, he disagrees with the points which he finds inconvenient? He knows perfectly well that in raising this question of conflict between what my right hon. Friend said and the Government policy, he is pressing a point which will be taken up in the German and French Press. He knows that he will be pressing the point that this country is not able or willing to take a firm, definite and certain attitude by the side of other democratic 135 countries. He knows that such will be the interpretation of his Motion, and that at this moment, in his responsible position, he is giving a great discouragement to a foreign Government to which he and all of us on both sides of the House wish, in a very difficult stage in their authority, to give all possible sympathy and support. Therefore, I am sure that if he realises his own responsibility at such a moment, he will not press this Motion against my right hon. Friend, who really said nothing which was not compatible with the Government's policy.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. THURTLE
The hon. Member who has just spoken has knowledge of diplomacy, and I understood him to say that the Secretary of State for War, in being sent to Paris to give new emphasis to British foreign policy, was being sent on a perilous mission. If we can show that the Secretary of State for War did go to Paris with the approval of the Foreign Office and did in the course of his speech give a new orientation to British foreign policy, I think we can establish the point that the Foreign Office has made a mistake.
§ Mr. NICOLSON
I never said or suggested that the right hon. Gentleman had been sent on a mission to negotiate anything. My whole point was that he was not negotiating and not expressing a policy.
§ Mr. THURTLE
If he went to Paris with the blessing and approval of the Foreign Office to give our foreign policy a new orientation, then the Foreign Office made a mistake in so giving its blessing and approval.
§ Mr. NICOLSON
The Foreign Office did not in any sense approve or bless the policy. They merely vetted his speech.
§ Mr. THURTLE
The hon. Member said—and this was the main burden of his speech—that the Secretary of State for War, in his speech, never said anything which was outside accepted and understood British foreign policy. I am going to suggest to the hon. Member that there are two points which emerge from the speech of the Secretary of State for War which show clearly that he did deviate from accepted British foreign policy. The first point is the emphasis which he 136 laid upon the imminent peril existing in Europe. Now, one does not talk in the air about an imminent peril; it must have been that the Secretary of State was referring—he could not have been referring to anything else—to the menace of Germany.
§ Mr. THURTLE
In emphasising the menace of Germany at a time when we are conducting negotiations with Germany in a most delicate situation and at a time when the Government are still pledged to the policy of collective security, surely the Secretary of State for War was giving a new twist and a new turn to British foreign policy. The other point which emerges most clearly from his speech is the fact that he was arguing for and urging a military alliance with France. I think that can easily be proved by the language which the right hon. Gentleman used. But, first of all, I wish to deal with the question as to whether the Foreign Minister himself approves of the sentiments which were expressed by the Secretary of State for War. I hope hon. Members will observe the terms of the answer which was given to the question this afternoon. The answer stated:I should add that he submitted a draft of his speech to the Foreign Office"—not to the Foreign Secretary—and subsequently altered it in certain respects in response to their suggestions. I understand that in its final form the speech did not come under the personal notice of the Foreign Secretary.There is not a word in that answer to suggest that the Foreign Secretary ever saw the speech, but it is clear from the answer that it was seen by the Foreign Office, and was, in effect, approved by them. Who was it who examined this speech at the Foreign Office? It was a very grave matter of the highest possible importance. The speech must have been examined by a person of authority and responsibility. I suggest that we ought really not to be denouncing the Secretary of State for War to-night in the way that we are denouncing him. He was going to Paris and was going to make an important reference to foreign affairs. What did he do? He thought, "This is a matter on which the Department concerned ought to be consulted so that the 137 people who understand it can see whether what I am going to say is expedient or not." He submitted his speech to the Foreign Office and they told him, in effect, that he might proceed and make the references he intended to make. In those circumstances we ought not really to indict the Secretary of State for War. The people with whom we are concerned are those at the Foreign Office who authorised the right hon. Gentleman to make these statements. I suggest that it was not the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but the permanent officials of the Foreign Office, who have a definite co-French bias.
We are told that the references in this speech were not designed to conflict with the policy of the Government. I ask the House to note two phrases. I have already mentioned two points in which the speech does conflict with the policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was an urgent necessity, a question of life and death, to the two nations to get together. To what was he referring? Of course he was referring to the menace of Germany. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] In that case, in the light of the language employed by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister only recently, that clearly meant a new orientation of British foreign policy. Then there was the reference to an alliance with France. If language has any meaning the references of the right hon. Gentleman to "closer and closer co-operation" between the two countries meant that we ought to have a definite military alliance with France. What is the extraordinary position, then, at which we arrive? I say, and I invite the Home Secretary to contradict it if he can, that the Foreign Secretary himself knew nothing at all about this—that this was done without his knowledge, consent or approval.
Here then we have this position. The Foreign Office approve of statements made by the Secretary of State for War, grave statements which, according to all the known facts are not in accordance with Government policy, but rather in flat contradiction of Government policy. I hesitate in making the suggestion, but the facts point that way—because remem-affair. Does all this mean—remembering also the recent speech of the Chancellor—that the Foreign Office is pre- 138 pared to approve of statements of policy on foreign affairs by Cabinet Ministers which the Foreign Secretary himself would be reluctant to make? Are we, in fact, confronted with the possibility of what amounts to a departmental intrigue against the Foreign Secretary?
We were interested to observe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) in a new role as defender of the Government. It is sometimes said in military affairs, I believe, that if a frontal attack fails you must adopt other methods. The right hon. Gentleman has made a good many direct assaults against the Government lately. They have not been very successful and now he appears to be seeking to turn their flank by blandishments. I hope he may be successful in this, but that is not th epoint with which I wish to deal at the moment. We are entitled to ask that the Ministers should speak with one voice in these matters of foreign policy. There ought to be uniformity. The right hon. Gentleman in defending the Secretary of State for War said that the speech was made on a festive occasion. We cannot accept an excuse of that sort for landing us in a military alliance which might have calamitious consequences for the people of this country. No excuse that a harmful speech has been made on a festive occasion can be accepted as satisfactory. We have a right to ask for a consistent and coherent foreign policy. We are entitled to ask that the public mind of this country and of the world should not be confused by the speeches of individual Ministers. We are entitled to ask for something which we are not getting now—for consistency and leadership in foreign affairs.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Captain Sir SIDNEY HERBERT
In my membership of the House I do not recollect a Motion of this kind having been moved upon so frivolous an occasion as that to-night. Not a single quotation has been made from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War which has, for one second, borne out the contention that he advocated any policy contrary to that of His Majesty's Government. No Member who has risen to speak so far, either on the Liberal or the Labour benches, has quoted such a sentence. Of what does the speech consist? In what may be described as the 139 wildest moment of that speech, my right hon. Friend repeated the statement of the Prime Minister, to the effect that the frontier of this country was on the Rhine. For the sake of greater accuracy, I have a copy of the speech here. I have read it in English and I have read it in French in various newspapers. I find that at the beginning it consists of the statement that my right hon. Friend's general culture had been improved by a knowledge of French literature and life, and that I know to be true, because I have known my right hon. Friend from boyhood to manhood. He went on to say that from time to time the English and the French liked each other and from time to time they disliked each other, but that particular likes and dislikes had very little to do with the case when they were like two sailors on a raft. They might dislike each other but they were bound to collaborate. Does any hon. Member opposite object to those statements?
I believe there is not a single statement in the speech which is contrary to the views expressed by His Majesty's Government, and what I ask the Opposition is: What statement is there in this speech which is contrary to their own views? My right hon. Friend went on to say—I am now translating from the French—that our affection for France was based on our belief in the value of the individual, our belief in liberty of speech and thought. Is there any objection to that? Secondly, he said, that that feeling was accompanied by a general hatred of violence and force. Thirdly, he said, and I hope the Opposition will not object to this sentiment, that in the regulation of international disputes we ought to have recourse to methods of reasonable and pacific legality. Liberty, he said, was our aim and he added, "La paix, c'est notre mot d'ordre." Is there any objection to that? He also said that there were certain quarters in Europe in which it was preached to all the winds that war was desirable, that youth should be impregnated by the desire to fight those like himself and that it was natural to man to seek the highest honour by death on the field of battle. Do they object to that? Is that not preached in at least three countries in Europe to-day, and why is it unfair that a Minister of this country should get up and say it?
140 The rest of the speech, except for a slight regret that we burned Joan of Arc and a note of pleasure that we imprisoned Napoleon, seems to me to have been one that might have been made at any debating society, or certainly by anyone who went to a foreign country or any society which exists to try and unite two countries in amity and friendship. Indeed, I wish that all Ministers or all Members of this House spoke in such terms. My right hon. Friend seemed to me to give us what I always wish for, namely, a truism which the people think expressed in exquisite language. There was not a word in that speech which contravenes the principles of the Treaty of Locarno. Is any hon. Member opposite going to deny the Treaty of Locarno? The principles of that speech seem to me to make a good deal clearer, but to go no farther than, the rest of the policy of His Majesty's Government. I belong to a generation which saw hundreds of thousands of men from this country shot down because the then existing Liberal Government refused to tell the truth either to Germany or to Europe. There are a great many dangers in foreign policy to-day, but the greatest of all is the fear of people in this country expressing what their real policy is. The Treaty of Locarno is embedded in the Covenant of the League of Nations. We have not gone any farther than that.
The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said the other day that the people of this country would not fight for Austria. Why did he choose Austria, the country which his Treaties more than any others have mutilated? The greatness of this country or of any other country does not depend upon stating what you will not fight for, but rather on what you will be prepared, on behalf of the lives and liberties of your people, to fight for. On the actual facts of the Motion, I approve what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War said, and from a general point of view, for the good of the people of this country, I think he rendered to this country one of the greatest services which have been renered by a Minister for many years past.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
Every speech from the benches opposite so far has 141 confirmed the conviction of many of us on these benches that in fact, whatever may be the nominal policy of the Government, that nominal policy is at variance with their real policy. The speech of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was designed to prove what in fact he has stood for so long, and I am sure I am doing him no injustice when I say that what many others stand for is a policy of military alliances, and an open or secret recognition that the old policy of international co-operation and the League of Nations has utterly failed. When we are asked, as we were just now, whether there is anything in the speech, as reported, made by the Secretary of State for War to which we take objection, might I quote but one sentence, which, for its applied significance more than anything else, illuminates the real policy of the Government? According to the report in the "Evening Standard," the right hon. Gentleman declared in the earlier part of his speech that we entered the last War because our vital interests were at stake. There was not one word in that statement or in any other part of his address recognising the fact that thousands entered the last War and died because of Belgium and the sanctity of treaties.
We have now the statement that, according to the mind of the Secretary of State for War, we entered the last War purely for national interests. I suggest that the reasons why the right hon. Gentleman made that statement regarding the real motives of the last war was that the same motives actuate the Government of the day in their preparation for another war. The policy of sectional alliances is obviously the policy to which they are drifting, if they have not already reached it. I suggest that we are entitled, because of the implications of that policy, to move this Motion to-day, and to do so with the knowledge that the country as a whole is also more than alarmed at the apparent policy of the Government as expressed through the mouthpiece of the Secretary of State for War.
May I draw attention to yet another sentence in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he said that:it is on the two great democracies of the Western world that the terrible responsibility now rests of saving not only ourselves, 142 but the civilisation that we have created at the price of so much effort.It is news to me that it is France and Britain alone that created Western civilisation, and I would like to know whether in fact the Home Secretary agrees with that and with the implied slur that it casts on every other nation in the Western world. Is it suggested that that sort of statement should go forth to the world without repudiation from other Powers? Are we not to recognise the contributions made by other great and small Powers of the world than France and Britain? I suggest again that the inner meaning of that statement is in fact that Great Britain and France must assume to themselves the role of policemen of the world, and must delegate to an inferior position all other Powers, whether dictator Powers or democratic Powers.
Further, I wish to suggest that the reference of the Secretary of State for War to the necessity of close collaboration, not only cultural, but military as well, between ourselves and France, he would not dream of making respecting any other great Power in the world. Supposing he had stood up in Moscow and alleged that there should be a drawing together of the culture of Russia and this country, what a tremendous stampede there would have been away from him on the part of his own friends. What excitement there would have been in the ranks of the Government. If he is entitled to make this speech in Paris respecting the relationship of France and Britain, why should it not be proper to make the same sort of speech in any other capital of Europe regarding the possibility of collaboration and friendship between this country and any other Power as well?
The essential fact is—and there can be no frank and honest denial of it—that what many Members of the Government, if not the whole Government, consider now is that the League of Nations has broken down, that international co-operation is merely a dream. Many of them are grateful that the dream has been dispelled, that we can once more go back to power politics, that we may once more strive towards the old, vicious doctrine of the balance of power, which was partly responsible for the last War, and that we are getting down to what they think are 143 the realities, realities in terms of military scheming and preparation. Because of that, I suggest that there is a tremendous variance between at least the nominal, declared policy of the Government and the policy which apparently has been the policy of the Government for some time past. I want to finish by emphasising the fact that if we did enter the last War because our vital interests were at stake, and not because of any disinterested service of the cause of peace, and if we shall only support the League of Nations, or international co-operation, or any other kind of international friendship in so far as it coincides with our own particular interests, the interpretation of that phrase is not that it is of vital interest to some ethical order, but that our interest is purely of a capitalist and Imperialist type. I venture to suggest that it would be better if the Government were openly on this occasion to say, "We stand by the policy that has been expressed by the War Minister; it is the policy of being cynically realistic and of recognising that the League of Nations has gone. We must now get back to the old historic policy of balance of power"—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We are not discussing what the policy of the Government might be, but the effect of the speech of the Secretary of State for War on foreign relations.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
I was trying to show that either the speech of the Secretary of State for War was an expression of the policy of the Government or it was not. I was suggesting that it is the policy of the Government and that that policy is one of military alliances, and, in this particular case, of a military alliance between ourselves and France, a policy which will lead to war and encourage other military alliances and bring about the destruction of all the culture of France and Britain and, indeed, of the western world. For this reason I hope that the Motion will be pressed to a Division and that we shall register the conviction that the real policy of the Government as already expressed, and as endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping—a very significant endorsement—is a policy that undoubtedly will land us in the cauldron of destruction before many years have passed.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Simon)
The hon. Member for Shore-ditch (Mr. Thurtle), in the course of his speech just now, issued a challenge to me and invited me, if I could, to contradict what he was pleased to assert. What the hon. Member asserted was that the Foreign Secretary knew nothing about this speech, and he then proceeded, on that assumption and assertion, to make an attack upon the officials of the Foreign Office. The hon. Gentleman also observed in this connection that the answer which I gave at Question time could bear that interpretation. I will state what the fact is, and I will point out further to the House that if, indeed, the answer which I gave at Question time bore that interpretation, I was not very candid with the House. I stated at Question time that in its final form the speech did not come under the personal notice of the Foreign Secretary. I should have thought that most Members of the House would have considered that was proper language to use only if a draft had come before him. Apparently the hon. Gentleman opposite thinks otherwise. He not only thinks otherwise, but asserts otherwise and invites me to contradict it. I do contradict it. I contradict it flatly and absolutely.
The draft of the speech was sent to the Foreign Office and was seen personally by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was correct when he made that inference, which is the only inference, I should have thought, that could be drawn from the answer I gave at Question time. The Foreign Secretary has an immense number of things to do, but he saw the draft, and the suggestions which were made and communicated from the Foreign Office to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War were suggestions which were made with the knowledge of the Foreign Secretary. At any rate, wherever the blame may lie, whoever chooses to be critical, let it be clear. It would be a grave injustice to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War if it were not clear. I tried to make it clear at Question time, and it would be a grave reflection on the officials of the Foreign Office if it were not clear. In these circumstances, it would be just as well—
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has passed away from the question whether the Foreign Secretary saw the speech. I understand that he saw the first draft of the speech and that certain alterations were made afterwards. I think we are entitled to ask whether those alterations were made verbal alterations or alterations of substance made to meet the Foreign Secretary's views; whether they represented the Foreign Secretary's views and whether he takes the responsibility for it. This is very vital, because if the Foreign Secretary saw it and approved it in substance, the responsibility is his much more than that of the Secretary of State for War.
§ Sir J. SIMON
My right hon. Friend was not here at the moment I began my speech, but I think that I made this matter as plain as I could. At Question Time again, when I do not think my right hon. Friend was here, I made the matter plain. I make no complaint, let us make it clear again now. The position as I understand it is this. The first draft of the speech was submitted to the Foreign Office. It came under review there and a number of suggestions were made. Those suggestions were communicated to my right hon. Friend after the Foreign Secretary had informed himself of what they were, and they were put forward with the Foreign Secretary's approval. Those suggestions were, in fact, incorporated in the speech.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Will my right hon. Friend forgive me? I am really trying to state the facts. I repeat exactly what I said at Question Time—I can say no more—that in its final form the speech did not come under the personal notice of the Foreign Secretary. [Laughter.] What an admirable joke! The final form of the speech did not come under the personal notice of the Foreign Secretary, but this was due to the pressure of his other engagements, and was in no way intentional. Nothing could be plainer.
I put this point, and I put it specifically to those who are taking part in the Debate and those who think of voting later. It appears to me that a good 146 deal of the difference of view here is due to the fact that very few people have read this speech. How many Members of this House are there who have taken part in the Debate or who are going to take part, or have been cheering one side or the other, who could put their hands on their hearts and say, "I have read the speech"? Is it not a perfectly fair point to make? Does the House of Commons really think that the right way to proceed is to pronounce a condemnation on this subject without having read the speech? I am not demanding that everybody should read it in the French language, but I earnestly protest against the idea that you can form a conclusion on this matter from the comments and criticisms which may be found in, possibly, partisan papers.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
On a point of Order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to refer to us as having read merely partisan speeches, when in fact we have taken it from his own paper?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I would ask the House to listen to what I am going to say. There is nothing about it that is going to raise points of Order. It is plain that when this matter was first made the subject of adverse comment in this country, there existed an impression about this speech, however it arose, which is not justified by its terms. I have here the "News-Chronicle" for Friday, which published an article headed "Duff Cooper's Alliance Speech." We will see whether it says anything about an alliance. It goes on in an editorial to speak ofMr. Cooper's advocacy of an immediate arid apparently isolated alliance between France and Great Britain.and asks the rhetorical question, "Who authorised Mr. Duff Cooper to make this public plea for an Anglo-French alliance?" The answer is extremely simple—Nobody, and he did not do it. The lengths to which this impression went may be easily illustrated by a circumstance which I may retail to the House. On Friday last week I received from the Leader of the Opposition, and no doubt you, Sir, also received, notice of a Question which he wished to put on that day by private notice with reference to the speech of the Secretary of State for War. 147 What were the terms of the question which the Leader of the Opposition was minded to put on Friday? These are the terms:
§ Sir J. SIMON
I would ask for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. I wish to do nothing that is improper. I was proposing to call the attention of the House to the terms of the notice of a private notice question which I received from the Leader of the Opposition on Friday on this subject, as it appears to me to show the view that he then took. Perhaps you will tell me that I should not do that if I should not.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the particular question sent to the right hon. Gentleman was similar to the one on the Paper. Is that not so?
§ Sir J. SIMON
All I want to do is to ask the House to realise that at the end of last week there began a widespread impression, not justified by the facts, that the Secretary of State for War had made a speech which, in fact, he did not make. These are the terms of the question:To ask whether his attention has been called to the speech delivered in Paris on Wednesday evening last by the Secretary of State for War, and whether the views therein expressed as to the necessity for a military alliance between this country and France represent the policy of His Majesty's Government?It must be plain to everybody that I am justified when I say there was at the end of last week a widespread impression, which I can show to the House was unjustified, that the Secretary of State for War went to Paris and proceeded to advocate a military alliance between this country and France. He did nothing of the kind. I challenge anybody in the House who has read the speech to contradict me. When we heard the Leader of the Opposition moving the Motion for the Adjournment I was not surprised that he adopted a very much lower tone. He said perfectly frankly and fairly, "We have not got the authoritative report, but 148 you may use pleas for better understanding between two countries in ways which would not make relations easier with a third," and he actually based his indictment, when he came to the point, on complaints as to the omission of the Secretary of State for War: Is the Secretary of State to be pilloried for the things he had not said?
I cannot help being reminded of a story which used to be current in the West Country of an old policeman who was advising a person he had arrested about the danger of making any statement, and said to him, "Now, prisoner, realise that whatever you say will be taken down, altered, and used against you." I would like most strongly to submit to the House that this criticism, which has been put by several speakers opposite, is really based on, a false premise. What my right hon. Friend advocated most warmly is an Anglo-French understanding, but it certainly is not true that he advocated an Anglo-French understanding at the expense of Germany. He does not seem to me to have done so, and I want to make three points firmly. In the first place, he never advocated any alliance, military or other, expressly or by implication, and those who take the other view must really be misinformed. He made a reference, it is true, to the frontier of the Rhine. Everybody knows that reference. It was made by the Prime Minister, and let the House realise that my right hon. Friend said he was referring to what the Prime Minister had already observed. You may approve of it or disapprove, but you certainly cannot say "This is some light-hearted departure from what has been already declared as the Government's view." I invite hon. Members opposite really to attend to this, and, in particular, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), with his usual candour, will see the importance of it. There was a. passage in that speech which I should have thought would have received immense approval from right hon. and hon. Members opposite, and in view of it the amazing thing to me is the quarter from which criticism of the speech has come. I have taken the liberty of extracting some passages from this part of the speech of the Secretary of State for War and I ask the House to listen to them. He said: 149People are preaching in Europe at this moment that liberty itself is a false ideal.
§ Mr. PRITT
On a point of Order. You, Mr. Speaker, and Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have called a number of Members to order because they were discussing the merits of the situation or the merits of the speech. As I understand it, the Debate is really limited to the question of whether the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was expressing something contrary to the declared policy of the Government or not, and not the question whether he had said something praiseworthy.
§ Mr. PRITT
I thought we were merely drawing a comparison between whether the right hon. Gentleman's speech corresponded with the policy of the Government, and not discussing whether he was saying something of which we on these benches might well approve. The Home Secretary is making many observations to which we on these benches could not reply without wandering far beyond your earlier Ruling.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I imagined that the right hon. Gentleman was giving an account of what the Secretary of State for War had said to show whether it conflicted with the Government's policy or not.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I hope I shall not incur any reproach from any hon. Member if I quote passages from the speech itself. This is the passage I was quoting:People are preaching in Europe at this moment that liberty itself is a false ideal, and that obedience is the highest form of human activity. There is nothing new in those ideas, but they are completely foreign to the civilisation of the western world. There are people who are preaching that war itself is desirable, that the spirit of youth ought to be impregnated with this principle: that to fight with your kind is the nature of man, and that death on the field of battle is the noblest and highest ambition.Was not that well said? Are not these views, put forward, as it appears to me, in very moving terms, views which may be properly spoken by a Member of the British Government in Paris? The thing that amazes me is the quarter from which these criticisms come. My right 150 hon. Friend went on in his speech to refer to the ideals which the democracy of this country and the democracy of France shared and he said that those ideals were in danger. If I am not mistaken the hon. Member for Shoreditch positively made it a count in the indictment that the right hon. Gentleman had said there was imminent danger to those ideals.
§ Mr. THURTLE
The War Secretary talked about the grave menace which was confronting this country and France.
§ Sir J. SIMON
He spoke of the grave menace in connection with these ideals, ideals which, I am sure, the hon. Member most sincerely holds. I am sure he will be one of the first to agree that they are, indeed, in considerable danger. I really think that on this matter my right hon. Friend has been very hardly used. It is not for me to praise him. We all of us have our different styles in this matter. Whenever it happens to be my fortune, or misfortune, to make a speech I read the next day of how I made a discourse that was cold and lucid—how I hate the word—and if I advance an argument which nobody on the other side can, effectively contradict they say that what I have said is legalistic. Really, we must put up with one another's varied styles. There sits the Father of the House. No one would say that of his utterances. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) will forgive me for what might seem a personal impertinence—I do riot mean it in that way—sometimes when reflect on his methods I feel that he almost deserves the reproach addressed long ago by the young man to old Father William:You are old Father William," the young man said,And your hair has become very white—And yet you incessantly stand on your head;Do you think at your age it is right?No doubt my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War has his own special qualities. I do not think it is a very grave reproach to a man that when he is addressing a society which exists for the purpose of promoting Anglo-French friendship and a better feeling between the two peoples he should use language which is devoted to that aspect of the matter. It seems to me that he was well justified in saying that continued good 151 relations with France were desirable and must be pursued in all circumstances. He also made an observation which I should have thought would have appealed to some people when he went on to say that, while some people were urging that we should cultivate better relations with other nations, that did not in the least mean that we should qualify our friendly relations with the French. So much for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman.
I return, finally, to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson). He said he hoped the Debate, whether justified or not, would at any rate have some happy result. I do not know I can honestly say that I think that the raising of this question by the Opposition at this time has been very helpful to the Foreign Secretary. I can see no possible ground for saying that we are departing from the principles which ought to govern our foreign policy because there is a reference to the fearful years of 1914–1918, but I think, as far as there has been any misunderstanding, that I ought to respond to the invitation of the hon. Member for Kingswinford and make it quite plain that there is, as he called it, no closing of the door to the possibility of peaceful agreement with the Germans. I cannot do that better than by reminding the House—as I said at Question Time—of the declaration made here with all solemnity by the Prime Minister himself only last week. The Leader of the Opposition had referred to the circumstance that it was the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and had made some observation about the comparative merits of Eton and Harrow, natural in a Haileybury boy. When the Prime Minister came to deal with those observations he said the reflection which was present in his own mind on the anniversary was something different. He said that on that anniversary date, some 121 years ago, we were fighting on the side of the Prussians to defeat the French. He went on to say that he reminded himself how 100 years later we were fighting on the side of the French to defeat those who had been our allies at Waterloo. Then the Prime Minister went on to say:Has not the time come when it is possible for these three great countries to get together? So the second object of our policy is the appeasement of the situation in 152 Europe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1936; col. 1730, Vol. 313.]
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
The right hon. Gentleman has not disappointed us in the kind of speech he has made. It was exactly the kind of speech that we expected he would make. I would not call it lucid or legalistic, and I would call it—for the Home Secretary—only relatively cool, because he developed a little warmth and humour from time to time; but if he were appearing at the Bar I should have marked the brief at a low figure. We are in some difficulty in debating this matter, for it is a matter of the gravest doubt, when comparing the speech of the right. hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War with the official policy of the Government on foreign affairs, because we do not know what the Government's foreign policy exactly is. We are doing our best to guess at it. In so far as we can do so, we must make comparisons between the Government's foreign policy, as revealed in statements in this House and by the statements of the Foreign Secretary in the country, and the speech of the Secretary of State for War. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Have you read it?"] I have read all the available accounts that have been published. To that point I will at once direct my attention.
The only accounts available, so far as I know, are those which have been published in the newspaper Press, both here and in France, and how could we read anything else when nothing else has been supplied to us? The Government must have known, when the accounts of the speech were published in the Press, and comments were made upon it, that there would be a dispute in this House about the speech. If they had wanted the Opposition to be acquainted with the whole speech, why did the Government not take the precaution of sending to my right hon. Friend a full copy of the speech and say: "You will probably be tempted—." [Laughter.] If hon. Members have not the least idea how to take precautions in a matter of this kind, I cannot help them. I can only say that the speech was bound to be the subject of a dispute and a Debate in the House. Somebody from the Government should have written to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition 153 to say, "We think you may be tempted to have a dispute about this speech, and it is, therefore, obvious that you should have it before you. Let us supply you with a verbatim report of the actual speech that was made." That was not done. If the Government want the whole of the speech to be judged upon its merits, let them lay the speech as a White Paper on the Table of the House, and let the whole House have the full report of what was said, and let the country know.
No contradictions have appeared in the Press about the speech. If the speech was inaccurate and the reports given were misleading to such an extent that it was likely to have a bad effect upon the conduct of foreign affairs, was it not the duty of the Government to issue a correction and say what was the proper meaning to be placed upon the speech? They have not done so, for the reason that they know that the reports of the speech which appeared in the Press are substantially accurate. The right hon. Gentleman is, therefore, riding off, as he usually does, on a purely debating point by saying that we have not seen the whole speech and that we cannot judge of it. If that is a valid point, we ought to have been supplied with a copy of the speech. If the reports have been tendentious and misleading, somebody should have issued a correction on behalf of the Government to the newspapers of the country. The Government have not done so, and the obvious reason is that there is nothing substantially wrong with the reports which have appeared.
I venture to take the House through the reports, not in a Liberal or Labour newspaper, but in a highly respectable Conservative newspaper, which is daily in touch with the Conservative Central office and takes its politics usually from that organisation. [Interruption.] I do not mind being interrupted, if that is all it is, but the interruption must be open and above board. The Home Secretary to-day answered the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) and the questions of other hon. Members. I suggest that the answer which he gave is somewhat different in tone and temper from the speech he has now made. He said:My right hon. Friend was addressing a society which exists for the purpose of 154 promoting friendly relations between France and Great Britain, and his remarks were, of course, not a declaration of policy.The right hon. Gentleman now says that the speech was not only submitted to the Foreign Office, but was seen as a first draft by the Secretary of State. [An HON. MEMBER: "He said it then."] No, he did not say so then. I will go through the whole answer in a minute. He submitted the speech to the Foreign Office. It was seen as a first draft by the Secretary of State himself and was approved in principle. In those circumstances the answer of the Home Secretary to-night means that it was in fact a declaration of Government policy. It was not a declaration of Government policy, says the Home Secretary,but a speech devoted to stressing the elements common to the people of both countries. The place for a declaration of Government policy is the House of Commons, and that policy was fully stated by the Foreign Secretary and by the Prime Minister in the course of the Debates in this House on 18th June and 23rd June, respectively. The observations of my right hon. Friend were not designed to be in conflict with their declarations at all.If the place for a declaration of Government policy is this House, I deduce that that was a rebuke to the Secretary of State for War that he had made what indeed proves to be a declaration of Government policy, not to this House, not even to a British audience, but to an audience in the capital city of a foreign nation. Finally, the Home Secretary said:In fairness to my right hon. Friend I should like to add that he submitted a draft of his speech to the Foreign Office, and subsequently altered it in certain respects in response to their suggestions"—their suggestions.I understand that in its final form the speech did not come under the personal notice of the Foreign Secretary, but this was due to the pressure of his other engagements and was in no way intentional.If my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch deduced from that answer that the Foreign Secretary himself had not seen it, it was a perfectly legitimate deduction, and it is the fault of the Home Secretary that that deduction was drawn. We of course now accept the assurance of the Home Secretary that the Foreign Secretary did in fact See 155 the first draft, but even so it is admitted that the final draft of what was obviously an exceedingly important speech on foreign policy was not actually approved by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who has officially to conduct the business of this country with foreign States. Our first charge against the Government, in any case, is that certainly no Minister, speaking to an audience in the capital city of a foreign country ought to make a speech, important, tendentious towards a certain direction of foreign policy which I will soon indicate, unless that speech had been specifically, in general and in detail, approved by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It is perfectly obvious that he ought not to do so, for in these matters of declarations of foreign policy, speaking in a country which has a certain line of foreign policy, and which vis-a-vis Germany has certain interests—it is not only in those particular and dangerous circumstances important that the general run and tendency of the speech should be sound, but it is even important that the tempo of it, the detail of it, and every word of it should be carefully examined from the point of view of the practical conduct of foreign affairs. That was not done. It is true according to the Home Secretary that the Foreign Secretary did see it, but it is also true that, after its first submission, the final draft, including modifications that were made, was not approved by the Foreign Secretary, but was apparently approved by the officials at the Foreign Office. That may be the Government's way of conducting foreign affairs; it is not ours—[Laughter]—and may I say it never was ours. I am perfectly willing to submit to the impartial consideration of the House, if the House is in the mood to give it impartial consideration, a comparison of our record in foreign affairs with that of the Government.
The truth is that the Government have got into a state of utter irresponsibility in the conduct of foreign affairs. The only public speech in the country that has been made on foreign affairs by the Foreign Secretary indicating the Government's foreign policy—the speech with which we are bound to compare this speech—made 156 in his own constituency a week or two ago, was not consistent with this speech, and was not consistent with the 1900 Club speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and it would seem to be the case that the only Member of the Government who is not prepared to make specific declarations of foreign policy, particularly if there is a change in foreign policy—the only Minister who has his lips sealed, the only Minister who is not permitted to talk—is the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs himself. That really is an intolerable state of affairs.
The right hon. Gentleman complains that the "News Chronicle" editorially said that this amounted to a military alliance with France, and condemned it accordingly. Let us look at this speech. I will not quote the "Daily Herald," because I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite have prejudices. I am not quoting the "News Chronicle," because they would not rely upon that. I am not quoting even the "Times," which is not always in line with Government foreign policy, and quite rightly so. I will quote the "Daily Telegraph," which may always be relied upon to do whatever the Conservative Central Office tells it to do. I want hon. Members to listen to this, and not to jump to conclusions before I have made the comment I have to make upon it. This is a report of a speech in Paris, in the midst of Ministers of the French Government, on a highly important occasion. I want to go through the speech in stages and try to get an estimate of where it takes us in foreign policy, and, in particular, what effect it was likely to have upon French minds. It referred to the necessity of Franco-British friendship. That is quite all right. I have done it myself, as, I am sure, all of us have, and feel that we ought to do. We want to be friends with everybody, even hon. Gentlemen opposite—sometimes. The Secretary of State for War said:'It is not a question of sentiment or of choice,' he declared, 'it is one of vital interest for our two countries.' Englishmen who proposed the reorientation of our foreign policy and the choice of other friends, did not understand that a nation was not free to choose her collaborators. They were imposed upon it by facts. 'Both peoples are placed before a necessity, not a choice. Mr. Baldwin has said 157 that the British frontier is the Rhine. Your frontier"—said the Secretary of State for War—is our frontier.'What does that mean? Really, it is no good the Secretary of State for Home Affairs quibbling about words. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) quibbling about words. His support of the Government to-night was, I am sure, most valuable to them, though I think he had apprehensions that they were going to drop the Secretary of State for War, and proposed to make his contribution to the stiffening of the Cabinet. It is no use quibbling about words. That would give—and there are other words which confirm it—an indication to French minds, and I venture to say it is even an indication to our own minds, that in any circumstances, irrespective of the merits of the case, if France is involved in war, Britain must be in it on the side of France. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is the inevitable interpretation in French minds. I understand that a French Minister who was present said that it was a splendid speech, not only for what was in it but for what the French could read between the lines. And is it not altogether legitimate that the French should read between the lines in the direction I have indicated? It is not illegitimate; it is a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do. So in the first place there are statements made, confirmed later on, in which he says that in 1914 we did not fight for justice, we did not fight for principles; we fought for solid, British self-interest. That confirms the point that, if France is in a war, we have to be in it irrespective of the merits of the case. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am sorry, but it is "Yes."
Now let us consider the second point. We all know, and we deplore it, that the obvious possible military opponent of France is Germany. We wish it were not so, but we all know it. We know that, in relation to French and to Russian policy, Germany is the key to the whole situation. Therefore, whatever you say about Germany must be of particular importance, even here, but doubly so when you are speaking to a Parisian audience with French Ministers present. I am not complaining about what the right hon. Gentleman said as words. I have said much worse things about the 158 Nazi regime in Germany, and so have my hon Friends. I have said pretty severe things about Herr Hitler. So have my hon. Friends. We say them as politicians because we believe them. We wish that hon. Members opposite were as indignant as we are about it, and we are not sure that they are. But when a Minister of the Crown speaks in this way—we are not Ministers of the Crown—[interruption.] But we are going to be, and we are much more fit to be Ministers of the Crown than some. When a Minister speaks, especially a Member of the Cabinet, the Secretary of State for War, he has to consider not only the literal truth of the words that he is uttering but the effect that they are going to have upon French and other minds as an interpretation of British foreign policy. So he went on and this is what he said. It is obviously an attack upon Germany. It might equally be an attack upon Italy. I agree, but in view of the Government's recent policy in that direction I cannot believe it. It is obviously a criticism of the German Nazi outlook and not an unfair criticism of it. He says:Indeed at this moment in Europe people are teaching that liberty is a false ideal and that obedience to a man's will is the highest form of human activity. Such ideas contain nothing new. They are as old as tyranny, and are completely foreign to the civilisation of Western Europe. Finally, people are preaching to all the winds that war itself is desirable, and that the spirit of youth must be impregnated with the principle that to fight one's fellow human beings is in the nature of man, and that death on the battlefield must be our highest ambition.There are two implications about that, and really it is no good hedging about it. One is that it was Nazi Germany that was in the right hon. Gentleman's mind. The second is that, having praised French liberty and democracy, quite rightly—I respect it enormously, as we do our own—and having said that their frontier is our frontier, and having implied that if they are in a war we are in it, irrespective of the merits of the case, what is the obvious interpretation? That the Secretary for War was apprehensive about German militarist policy, that France was apprehensive about German military policy, and that France might rely upon Great Britain to stand by France in the case of attack by Germany, or, in the case of France being involved in a war with Germany, which is very different. Locarno binds this country to come to the 159 rescue of France if attacked by Germany, but Locarno also binds this country to come to the rescue of Germany if Germany is attacked by France. Very well. But what becomes of the talk about "Your frontier is our frontier"? What becomes of the talk that our country's material interests are so bound up with the interests of France that the entente cordiale not only means a verbal understanding and a friendly agreement but that in fact it had the effect of a covenant?
§ Mr. LENNOX-BOYD
It is not the policy of the right hon. Gentleman's party, since Germany's repudiation of Locarno, that our obligations are now solely towards France?
§ Mr. MORRISON
That, no doubt, reveals the state of mind of the Conservative party. Now that Locarno and other things have gone we have to make a military alliance with France. It is not our policy. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is it theirs?"] I do not know if it is the policy of the Government. I want to know. Surprising as it may seem to the hon. Member, this party still stands for the League of Nations. I have no doubt that that is received with scorn and deprecation by hon. Members opposite, but that is where we stand. We stand where we stood at the General Election. The Government stands on its head. The right hon. Gentleman went on to give the impression that the French should not take the English people too seriously. Let them not worry too much about that. Let them listen to him. That is what he meant:The English are a sentimental people and their feelings blind them very often in the face of facts. The consequences of this blindness are deplorable.There is something in that sometimes, I agree. He went on to say:They prefer to think that they are the friends of the French because the French are delightful people, and they imagine that they could abandon this friendship for the sake of another if they happened to find the French less charming.What does that mean? It means first of all, "Do not worry too much about the English people. They are a funny lot. They are sentimental. Do not bother about them too much. Listen to my firm, reliable Government. If there is any 160 suggestion that our country in certain circumstances might be associated with another country, do not believe it." That confirms the whole idea that this was a rigid declaration that in any circumstances, whatever the merits of the case, this country would be in a war if France was in a war, however France got into that war. If the Government has decided that it is going to shape its foreign policy on the basis of Germany being a potential enemy, and that all our foreign policy has to be based on that fact, and that, therefore, we must make a binding agreement with France, and possibly others, it is a foreign policy which I understand and one for which there may be an arguable case by intelligent people. I do not agree with it because I am a League man. If the Government are going for that policy let them deliberately consider it. Let the Cabinet discuss it. Let the Foreign Secretary argue with the Cabinet and the Ministry with the Foreign Secretary. Above all, if you want to change your foreign policy on the basis of getting back to pre-war alliances, I say to the Government, "For Heaven's sake do it knowing what you are doing; do it with deliberation, and, above all, do not let the Secretary of State for War lose all responsibility, and, out of the void, make a declaration of that policy to a public gathering in Paris. If you are coming to that policy, think it out. Come to your conclusions, and, as the Home Secretary said this afternoon, in that case, it should be the House of Commons and not Paris that ought to hear the first thing about a grave and important declaration of foreign policy."
There were omissions from the speech. My right hon. Friend said so, and the Home Secretary, endeavouring to be humorous—I would not discourage him at all, as I welcome it—said that it was an extraordinary thing that the Leader of the Opposition, in complaining about the speech, almost complained that there was not more of it, almost implying that it would be worse if there was more of it. I am inclined to think that would be so. But we are inclined to complain about the omissions. Have the Government thrown over the League of Nations? If they have not, why did not the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War talk about the League of Nations except as a joke? Have the Government thrown 161 over the covenant? If not, why did not the right hon. Gentleman say so. If the Government have not thrown over collective security, why did not the Secretary for War say that the Government stood by collective security?
We are faced with a speech of this kind, which, however fairly examined, drives you to the conclusion that he was promising an unconditional and unrestricted military alliance with France in the case of war, and that he was predisposed to an attitude of opposition to Germany. And he says nothing about the League of Nations, nothing about the covenant, and nothing about collective security. Surely, that is one of the most damaging statements of foreign policy that really is imaginable. In any case, if that is the policy of the Government, and if they are seeking alliances against Germany—and I do not want to prejudge the issue; I only say that there is an arguable case for it, although I do not agree with it because I prefer the League—if that is the conclusion to which the Government have come, the speech of the Secretary of State for War, which we now find was approved by the Foreign Secretary in principle, if that is so, is the House of Commons the only place that cannot be told about it? Are the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled the only people who cannot be informed? Have these vital and significant declarations of foreign policy either to be made in Paris to an audience in the presence of Ministers of a foreign country, or have they to be made at the 1900 Club, which, I admit, would be appropriate, because that date certainly dated the outlook on foreign affairs of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he made his speech?
Finally, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is responsible for the coordination of Government policy. He is responsible for keeping Ministers in order. If Ministers get out of order, if they jump, over the traces and deal with matters which are not their business, if they go abroad and make important declarations of foreign policy, not only the Minister must be held accountable, but the Prime Minister, in particular, must be held responsible. I was at Colchester on Saturday and I said that in my judgment this country has been almost without a Prime Minister since 1931, and we 162 are suffering for it. It is so vitally important in these matters of foreign policy that the world should know where the British Government stand, and honestly the world does not know from day to day and week to week.
It is vitally important that, in a speech to an individual foreign country, that country should not be misled as to where Great Britain stands. I am not sure that France was not misled by that speech. I am not sure that the world is not in a state of complete doubt as to the policy of the British Government. Certainly the British people are in doubt. I say with no party bias or party passion but as a British citizen, proud of my country, that it is a misfortune for the good name of my country as a whole that this kind of contrary and irresponsible stuff about foreign policy should be distributed by Ministers who really ought to be kept under proper control and under proper supervision. It is bad for our country, it is bad for the world, it is bad for the peace of the world, and I would beg of the Prime Minister to try to exert his authority and see to it that his Ministers do not run all over the place like this.
The Prime Minister at the time of the Hoare-Laval discussions said that he had come to the conclusion that it was a somewhat dangerous thing that British Ministers should meet the Ministers of foreign Governments in their own Capitals, and that in future he would sooner these things were done through the usual official diplomatic channels than that they should be done by individual contact between the Ministers of this country and the Ministers of foreign countries, except at Geneva. M. Blum, the Prime Minister of France, wanted to meet our Foreign Secretary before our Italian-Abyssinian policy was finally settled. The Foreign Secretary refused to meet him. Presumably that was a Government decision. I do not argue whether it was right or wrong, but if it was dangerous for the Foreign Secretary, under cool and calm conditions, across a table, to discuss the foreign situation upon which our Government was about to commit Great Britain in a way that was bound to have repercussions upon other countries, if it was undesirable for the Foreign Secretary himself to meet the Prime Minister of France, how much more undesirable was it after a dinner, after a 163 banquet, with all the excitement of a public gathering, for the Secretary of State for War to make a speech of this kind? It is utterly inconsistent with the declaration of the Prime Minister upon that point.
We think that the Government are guilty in this matter of irresponsibility and of doing things that are very dangerous indeed. I have no personal prejudice against the Secretary of State for War. He and I spoke in Hackney a year or two ago on the League of Nations. I do not know who made the best speech for the League, he or I, but I do know that he is a little hard on people who interfere in business with which in his judgment they ought not to interfere. It was the right hon. Gentleman who said:Who are these ignorant clergymen who presume to give advice to His Majesty's Government on foreign affairs?Who is the Secretary of State for War, speaking in Paris, to presume to give advice to the Foreign Secretary on foreign affairs? True, he has gone back on the League of Nations since then. He advised everybody not to answer the questions of the League of Nations Union. He is pretty free in public speeches and pretty severe on other people. Surely, he ought to observe ordinary Ministerial conduct, and ought not to interfere with the business of other people in the Government. I admit that he has a higher precedent in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was just as bad in another way. All this indicates that this Government is at sixes and sevens. It is not a team but an aggregation of conflicting units. It is not fit to govern the country. It is not fit to conduct our affairs. It is a danger to our country and a danger to the peace and security of the world. Whatever the result of the Division to-night, we know that we have successfully launched another indictment of the Government. We know that the Government have once more been exposed as an incompetent body of men. It will be a good thing for our country and for the security of the world when it has been destroyed and rules our country no more.
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The House will agree that it is not right, even at this 164 late hour of the evening, that the speech of the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) should go unanswered. There was a clue to the real object of this Motion in the closing words of his speech. With an air of unctuous rectitude the right hon. Gentleman said that he was the last man who wanted to make party capital out of a matter of this kind—and incidentally the relations of this country and France is one of the most delicate questions which can be discussed—and then, in his peroration, with great satisfaction, looking round to hon. Members behind him who were getting rather lax in their cheers, he said that they at any rate would be able to say that they had launched one more indictment against His Majesty's Government. That very clearly explains the object of this Adjournment Motion.
I must confess that, like many other hon. Members, I was completely puzzled until I heard the speech of the right hon. Member for South Hackney as to what was the gravamen of the charge against the Government. We were completely puzzled. We saw the Opposition come down to the House in a highly strung state of mind, obviously excited about something which had occurred, but until we heard the closing words of the right hon. Member for South Hackney we were completely puzzled as to their object in moving the Adjournment. The speech to which hon. Members opposite have taken objection was made in a country across the Channel, in which there is a Government to which His Majesty's Opposition in this country are most friendly; indeed, they are so friendly that they sent the Leader of the Opposition to see the man who was obviously going to be the future Premier of France. Moreover, both this country and France are going through a very difficult period, because quite frankly neither of them knows what the policy of a certain great country is going to be. That is common ground between us.
France also has been going through very difficult times in another connection. What is wrong, what is there unusual, what is there unreasonable in the Secretary of State for War, who is probably better known in France than any Member of this House, who has strong cultural relationships with France, who has written one of the best lives written in recent years of a great Frenchman, and who is an admirable French scholar—what 165 is wrong and unusual in the right hon. Gentleman, as the guest of an organisation to which, I understand, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite belong—the Association France-Grande Bretagne—going there to make a speech? I mention that point because in several of the speeches which have been made to-night, and in some of the comments in the Press it seems to have been assumed that per se it is completely wrong for any Minister except the Foreign Minister ever to refer to foreign affairs. That is the most extraordinary thing I have ever heard. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), whom we are all glad to see so rejuvenated by the speech he made 10 days ago, nodded his head in apparent acquiesence when somebody referred to the inconvenience of any Minister except the Foreign Minister referring to foreign affairs. Surely that is a most novel theory.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Noble Lord and my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) are referring to a particular incident when, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I made a rather important pronouncement on foreign affairs in reference to Germany. No one knows better than my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping that before I delivered that speech I saw both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. They both read the speech word by word, and I delivered it as it was finally revised by both, and did it at their request because they thought it was an occasion on which it was desirable that something should be said. That is why I have been trying to ask the Home Secretary—and even now I do not know—whether the Secretary of State for War made that speech after submitting it to the Foreign Secretary, and if he did, then it is the Foreign Secretary who ought to be arraigned and not the Secretary of State for War.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The right hon. Gentleman is too complimentary to me. I drew my bow at a venture and the arrow went completely home. I had quite forgotten about the speech in question. Something told me, as I looked at the right hon. Gentleman, that I should get him on to his feet my making a reference to his acquiescence. [An HON. MEMBER: "To his past."] Not to his past, for that 166 would lead us a long way off. What is really the issue between us? As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman contends that it is wrong that any Minister except the Foreign Minister should make a speech on foreign affairs unless that speech has been submitted to the Foreign Secretary. That is an extremely novel theory. I think it would be quite intolerable in the case of a great neighbouring country such as France that a Minister—I do not care who he is—who goes there as the guest of an association of the importance of the one to which I have referred should not be allowed to refer to the relationship existing between these two countries. Let me take two or three points in connection with the speech, and first of all, the point to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping referred. The Secretary of State for War made no reference to a military alliance. I challenge any hon. Member in any part of the House—and I will resume my seat for the purpose of hearing the challenge answered—to find a word in that speech which made the faintest reference to a military alliance.
§ Mr. H. MORRISON
My answer is that the Secretary of State for War did something infinitely worse. He promised France unconditional support in any circumstances.
§ Earl WINTERTON
He did nothing of the sort. I am a great admirer of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but he ought not to make statements of that kind in matters of life and death. He ought not to give the impression to the French people or anybody else that any such unconditional promise was made on behalf of His Majesty's Government. No foundation for that statement can be found in the speech, and even if my right hon. Friend did refer to the possibility of joint military action in certain circumstances, what complaint could there be of that? Not only the Government but I understand the whole House—and I shall be glad to have information from the Opposition as to their attitude—have agreed to the talks between the military staffs. What then would be the objection, even if my right hon. Friend had made a reference to a military alliance in certain circumstances? The Opposition the other day charged the Government with having run away in regard to another matter, 167 but they appear to be running away from the responsibilities which they have under the Covenant and the Treaty of Locarno. Of course, there must be situations in which military arrangements between the two countries would make it necessary to have staff talks.
My right hon. Friend made no attack on the Covenant or on the League. Someone has suggested that he ought to have referred to nothing but the Covenant and thy League. Why? He was speaking in a country which is supposed to be friendly to this country and to which this country is supposed to be friendly. In parenthesis, may I say that I have always been able to assure my friends in France, until this evening, that the Socialist Opposition in this country were friendly to French ideas and ideals because they held those ideas and ideals in common. It appears to-night that they are quite unwilling to defend them. Lastly, it is suggested that while my right hon. Friend made no specific reference to Germany he indicated Germany in his speech. Would it have been a great offence if he had done so? The Leader of the Opposition has used these words:We on this side abominate the doctrine of Nazi Germany and the preaching of war in Germany.If so, why be so mealy-mouthed, not about a specific reference but about a supposed reference to Germany? The whole attitude of the Opposition seems to be "You must not refer to Germany. You must not say anything to hurt the feelings of Herr Hitler." What an extraordinary attitude, in view of the speeches which were made and the pamphlets distributed last year at the Trade Unions Congress. Surely the Opposition can find some other stick with which to beat the Secretary of State for War. That one will break in their hands.
When it comes to the positive part of my right hon. Friend's speech I consider that the very eloquent terms in which he spoke about the common object and the common ideals of this country and France were fully justified. What did he say? He spoke of the defence of the individual, surely a common concern at least of the majority of people in this country—I cannot speak for the Opposition—and practically the whole of France. Then he spoke of the depreciation of the glory of war. Incidentally hon. and right hon. Gentle- 168 ment opposite seem to suppose that France is a very bellicose country. I cannot help thinking that in their objection to my right hon. Friend's speech there is the suggestion that he made it in a country where there are bellicose ideas. Let me assure the House that there is no country in Europe more pacifist than France, more anxious to work with any other great democracy for the sake of the ideas and ideals which they hold in common. Then why attack the Secretary of State for War for making this speech?
I protest against certain of the allusions that have been made, the sneering references to the convivial atmosphere, the after-dinner speeches, and things of that kind. It will be an ill day when Ministers of either the Government of the French Republic or of His Majesty in this House cannot be entertained by the people of the other country and be permitted to make speeches. This Debate, so far as the House is concerned, will soon pass away and be forgotten, and there is no question about how the voting will go, but I do say with all earnestness to the Opposition that I am seriously concerned at the way in which foreign affairs appear to be becoming more and more the battledore and shuttlecock of party politics. I agree with some of the criticisms made. As is well known, I myself, as an independent Member, have criticised the Prime Minister, and may do so again, and I am not saying the blame is wholly on one side, but anything more deplorable than having Debate after Debate, Votes of Censure, and Adjournment Motions to call attention to alleged lapses of foreign policy, when the whole of Europe is in the melting pot and when we may wake up to-morrow to find a condition of affairs which, believe me, would bring every Member of this House on the same side—I do the Opposition the credit of saying that—when we are in that sort of state, surely to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to the alleged indiscretion of a Minister, and to buttress your case with such miserably weak arguments, is not in the public interest.
Surely hon. and right hon. Members opposite, if they wish to rehabilitate themselves—and I may say in parentheses that while it is true that the Government are being criticised, it is equally true that that criticism is not bringing a 169 single vote to the Opposition, who are known to be as divided on foreign policy as any party can be—surely what we want to get in this House is a common foreign policy. Surely we want to avoid this pot and kettle business across the Floor, whether this speech means that or that speech means this. Let us all try, when we have disposed of this Motion, to present a common front in the face of one of the most appalling dangers with which we have ever been faced.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Mr. PRITT
There has been, in the speeches of a good many Members addressing the House to-night, and taking a very particular form in the speech of the Noble Lord the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), a very grave misunderstanding. It has been repeatedly stated that the Opposition to-night is either attacking or expressing its disapproval of the French people. I regret to find that the same illusion was cherished by the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Nicolson), who has not even the excuse of being an amateur in foreign politics. It is of the greatest importance that the House, and indeed the world, should understand exactly what we are discussing to-night. The Noble Lord, who is an old and respected Member a the House, seemed to be in complete bewilderment as to what the House was discussing, both on the terms of the Motion and on the Ruling that you, Mr. Speaker, gave earlier in the Debate. We are discussing whether, in the speech made in Paris by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who is obviously capable of being finely eloquent in two languages and of expressing remarkably fine thoughts, he did express, as if they were the policy of this country, policies, plans, ententes, arrangements, which were gravely in contradiction of the policy that has been enunciated by His Majesty's Government from time to time, in so far as they have enunciated a policy. That has nothing to do with the question whether we approve or disapprove of French foreign policy or whether we think France is bellicose. We know that France is not now bellicose, because she has a strong Government, which we welcome.
It was even suggested by the hon. Member for West Leicester that the 170 matter ought not to be discussed at all lest it should be misinterpreted in France, and as a diplomat he knows how easily things can be misinterpreted. That is the vital thing that must be done in this House, however. We do not do it out of party bias. It is easy to accuse us of party bias. If the Government do something wrong, collectively or severally, it is the duty of the Opposition and the House generally to attack it and control it. If the foreign policy of the Government can be dictated first at the 1900 Club, and then at an eminent gathering in Paris, the next divergence from the League of Nations and from Locarno will perhaps be announced at the country house of some Noble Lord who is a Member of this House, or perhaps from the National Liberal Club if a meeting can be gathered together there. Why should not the right hon. Gentleman make a speech in Paris, says the Noble Lord? There is no reason why he should not. The two languages are enriched by his doing it, but a war may be caused by his doing it if the speech he makes is so different from the British Government's policy that France thinks she can rely on it, and discovers once again that she is only in the same position as Abyssinia and Denmark and half the other countries which tried to rely on the word of England in the past.
The matter really rests in a very small compass. We do not attack in any way the relations of this country with France. We do not attack—many of us certainly do not dream of attacking—the actual sentiments, as sentiments, expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, however much or little is read into them. We attack one thing only. In attacking it we are attacking the Government perhaps more than we are attacking the right hon. Gentleman. We say that it is fatal to orderly and consistent government in this country if an important Minister with or without—perhaps it is better to know in some ways that it is with—the sanction of those of his colleagues who are most directly involved, can make speeches that are widely divergent from the policy of the Government in a foreign country, and never be checked. I can illustrate the difficulty by putting a single question, a question which is being asked by everybody. If you read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman 171 fairly and ignore the more philosophical references which are not the vital and operative part of the speech from a political point of view, and spell out of it reasonably a policy such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) or as the "Telegraph" spelled out, is that or is it not the policy of His Majesty's Government? Nobody knows and nobody can feel quite sure whether it really does represent the policy of the Government, and the mere fact that nobody knows is the strongest illustration that you could possibly desire to have to illuminate the incredible dangers and difficulties that will be caused if Ministers cannot make up their minds what the policy of the Government is and express it consistently in the proper place.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Captain HAROLD BALFOUR
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken on the need for international good will gave his contribution towards European peace and good will, if I remember aright, by presiding over the unofficial tribunal which investigated the Reichstag fire. His speech is consistent with the speeches which we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, the hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) and the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), all of whom made the most staggering contradictions in the light of the previous declarations of their own party's policy. The hon. Member for Kingswinford said that there was distrust and that misunderstanding had grown up and was growing up with Germany as a result of this speech. The hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) complained that there was now a delicacy of negotiation with Germany. The Leader of the Opposition dealt with the need for a calm, cool, collected and reasonable outlook. It seems to me that these are peculiar statements from Members of the Opposition, when only a few months ago the National Council of Labour published a statement "Hit Hitler," and the Socialist party were advocating the economic boycott, the workers' weapon, and saying that workers everywhere should use it against Hitler. It seems to me that they have had a complete turnabout as regards their views. I took down other inconsistencies by Members 172 of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition said that it was the duty of the Prime Minister to be responsible for the efficient conduct of foreign affairs. No one would dispute that. Let me take up the point which the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) made. It seems to me peculiar that one who speaks with all the authority of the Leader of the Opposition should himself go over to France and meddle with the Crown Prince, the heir-apparent, who was trying on the Crown.
§ Captain BALFOUR
The other day the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer because of his recent speech, was, as the heir apparent, trying on the Crown. Was not M. Blum in the same position when the Leader of the Opposition went across to France? The Leader of the Opposition said that the omissions and exclusions in the speech of the Secretary of State for War were almost as bad as what he said. Is this a new standard of debate which we are to have? Are we to say that the Leader of the Opposition made a splendid speech to-day because he left out everything which he ought to have said? This seems to be a new doctrine. If the hallmark of success is to be omissions and exclusions in a speech no doubt the Opposition will win all along the line.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I complained that the speech of the Secretary of State for War was incomplete and did not give the whole picture.
§ Captain BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman complained of omissions and exclusions, thereby meaning that a speech can be criticised because it has omissions and exclusions. If you are to criticise a speech because it leaves out something, that is to be the new standard of speeches. A speech is to be good because it left out something. The truth is that the Opposition, who to-day have put down this Motion for the Adjournment, are the party who have done more than anyone towards harming foreign affairs in Europe and stirring up discord in order to try to gain a party advantage. They are the party who to-day are more responsible for stirring dis- 173 content and causing strife than any one. And bringing into the arena of party our foreign policy which has hitherto been traditionally a unified policy. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman said that every Minister ought to submit the draft of his speeches to the Prime Minister. If that is to be the new doctrine of the Opposition, then, indeed, we shall have a variety of speeches from them, because the agreement to differ has been more evident in the Socialist
§ party than in any other party. The policy of agreement to differ has been one which they have had to adopt, because they have all thought differently on one and the same problem, as has been illustrated in their speeches to-night when contrasted with their speeches in the past.
§ Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 284.175
|Division No. 257.]||AYES.||[10.56 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Grenfell, D. R.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Morrison, R. C.(Tottenham, N.)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Groves, T. E.||Paling, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'[...]sbr.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Parker, J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardie, G. D.||Potts, J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Batey, J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Riley, B.|
|Bellenger, F.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rltson, J.|
|Benson, G.||Holdsworth, H.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hollins, A.||Rowson, G.|
|Bromfield, W.||Hopkin, D.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Brooke, W.||Jagger, J.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Cape, T.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Shinwell, E.|
|Cassells, T.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Short, A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Silkin, L.|
|Chater, D.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merloneth)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Compton, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Kirby, B. V.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Daggar, G.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lathan, G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lawson, J. J.||Thurtle, E.|
|Day, H.||Leach, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dabbie, W.||Lee, F.||V[...]ant, S. P.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Leslie, J. R.||Walker, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||Logan, D. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lunn, W.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McEntee, V. La T.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||McGhee, H. G.||Whiteley, W.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacLaren, A.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Frankel, D.||Maclean, N.||Williams, E. J.(Ogmore)|
|Gardner, B. W.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||MacNe[...], Weir, L.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Marklew, E.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Messer, F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Milner, Major J.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Montague, F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. Mathers.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thnnet)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Balniel, Lord||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Baxter, A. Beverley||Brown, Brig.-G[...]n. H. C.(Newbury)|
|Albery, Sir I. J.||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bull, B. B.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Bullock, Capt. M.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Campbell, Sir E.T.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Bird, Sir R. B.||Cartland, J. R. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Blair, Sir R.||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Apsley, Lord||Blindell, Sir J.||Cary, R. A.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Boothby, R. J. G.||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Bossom, A. C.||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart||Cazalet. Thelma(Islington, E.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Cazalet, Capt V. A. (Chippenham)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col J.||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)|
|Channon, H.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Pilkington, R|
|Clarke, F. E.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Ho[...]mes, J. S.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Rankin, R.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Hopkinson, A.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Remer, J. R.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Hulbert, N. J.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Hunter, T.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Inskip, Rt. Hon Sir T. W. H.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Cross, R. H.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Joel, D. J. B.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Keeling, E. H.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Sandys, E. D.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Kimball, L.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Scott, Lord William|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Selley, H. R.|
|Dixon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Latham, Sir P.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Leckie, J. A.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Drewe, C.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'If'st)|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Liddall, W. S.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Lindsay, K. M.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Little, Sir||E. Graham-Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||L[...]ewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lloyd, G. W.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dunne, P. R. R.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Loftus, P. C.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Spens, W. P.|
|Elliston, G. S.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Emery, J. F.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Storey, S.|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Everard, W. L.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||McKie, J. H.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Magnay, T.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Markham, S. F.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Furness, S. N.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Maxwell, S. A.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Mellor, Sir J. S.||P. (Tamworth) Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Goldie, N. B.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Touche, G. C.|
|Goodman, Col. A. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Granville, E. L.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Turton, R. H.|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Moreing, A. C.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Morris, J. P. (Salford. N.)||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake)||Munro, P.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hanbury, Sir C.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Patrick, C. M.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Peat, C. U.||Wise, A. R.|
|Harbord, A.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Hartington,||Marquess of Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Petherick, M.||Ward and Dr. Morris-Jones.|