Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question proposed, on consideration of Question:
That a sum, not exceeding £217,113 (including a Supplementary sum of £13,262), be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for the Salaries and other Expenses in the Department of His Majesty's Treasury and Subordinate Departments, and the Salary of the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence.
Question again proposed,
That Sub-head BB (Salary of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence) be reduced by £100."—[Sir A. Sinclair.]
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
I was saying when we were interrupted that the key to the whole position is the quality of the personnel of the Air Force, because the material position has been so much better during the last two years that it takes almost a secondary place in comparison with the other. In this connection, I 1458 would again refer to the right hon. Member for Epping. If his advice, given, as he says, three years ago, had been followed, what would have been the position of the Air Force to-day? The Air Force would have been overwhelmed with a vast quantity of utterly obsolete material. The whole technical position has changed completely within the last 18 months, and the new stuff that the Air Force is now getting—and the deliveries are coming forward very well indeed, much better than anyone might have expected—is miles above what the Air Force would have had to use for fighting and bombing if his advice had been taken and we had spent all our money and made the whole of our effort three years ago. There is another thing that the right hon. Gentleman always forgets. Three years ago could the Government of the day have got the necessary money out of the people of this country without losing the General Election? Everybody knows that they could not. There has been a complete change of outlook, and anything within reason that is called for now can be got, but in those days it could not have been got without shaking the Government's position to its very foundations.
The right hon. Gentleman has told us again and again with the fullest possible detail what is being done in Germany. How does he know all these matters of detail? How is it that he has to inform the Government on the Floor of this House of all these detailed performances by the German Government, and what is happening there, and the things that he spoke about to-night, when he said that if only we knew we should be terrified out of our lives? Has he any real source of information that is really dependable in these matters, or is he just guessing and putting forward these things merely to weaken the position of the Leader whom he is supposed to be supporting? Let him tell this House definitely: Has he really got some sources of information, or, as I say, are his figures mere guess-work—part of the party game of ousting his own Leader to take his place, a game that he has played many times before within my recollection?
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
That is what I am trying to find out. What we want to know is whether he has really got any 1459 source of information. Is it, as I say, just guesswork, or has he reliable sources of information? He will not tell us, and I know perfectly well why he will not tell us. It is because he can see very well what either answer would bring in retort from me. If he says that he has not got these sources of information, obviously all this talk of his over these past months is so much flapdoodle; if, on the contrary, he says. he has those sources of information, then obviously the question to him is this: Why has he not disclosed them to the Government? Will the right hon. Gentleman answer candidly whether he has those sources of information or not, or does he prefer to make attacks on his own Government, the Government he was elected to support, unbacked by any evidence whatsoever?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Surely the important point about any fact stated in this House is whether it is true or false. A private Member has the greatest difficulty in ascertaining the conditions in any foreign country, but a great deal of information is available in this country and was available three years ago when I gave those warnings to the Government. Surely, it is not a very wrong thing to give warnings to the Government, especially if they turn out to be correct. It is hardly a thing to be visited by the malignant style of indictment used by the hon. Member. I have received information from a- great many quarters. I take a great deal of trouble to obtain information from foreign sources. A very large number of people write to me from foreign and neutral countries, and I think it is my duty, as a Member of this House, to be well apprised of these matters. It is true that I apply my own judgment to all this information that I obtain from the people who write to me and elsewhere. The hon. Member calls it guessing. I apply my own judgment, as the Government apply their own judgment also to all the information which they get from their Intelligence Officers. In this case I have applied my judgment, and I think I am right, but in the other case I can hardly say the same thing.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
I have asked the right hon. Gentleman a question, and he has not replied. He has given specific 1460 figures again and again, and he has implied, in giving those figures, that he knew what he was talking about. He now says that he gets letters from abroad and that he uses his own judgment in other words, when I say that the alternative is that he has just been guessing, perhaps that is nearer the truth than his suggestion before that he had real information.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Does the hon. Member remember the speech of the Prime Minister, made a short time ago, in which he admitted that the figures given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) and myself in the Debate in November, 1934, were correct?
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
The noble Lord is referring to 1934. I am referring to much more recent statements by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping, and I cannot, it seems, get an answer.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
As to the exact amount spent over a series of years by the German Government upon armaments.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have given the most full account to Parliament upon this subject, with the different calculations on which it was based, calculations which have been challenged, but I am waiting until the various challenges have accumulated before dealing with them. You do not require to have a source for a mathematical calculation. It stands by itself. As a matter of fact, however, I have received advice from very able people, both here and abroad, people who are well acquainted with German finances. Is that wrong? Am I not entitled, as a Member of Parliament, to inquire into these matters, and if I have the information, ought I not to impart it to the House? It may be argued whether it is right or wrong, but I firmly believe it to be right.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
I am not concerned with the calculations so much as with the data upon which the calculations are based, which is quite another matter; but apart from these matters, which are after all matters of detail, the speech of 1461 the right hon. Member for Epping tonight sounded to me like a voice from olden times. His conceptions, to my mind, and, I think, to the minds of most of the Members of this House who heard them, are absolutely out of date. He does not seem to realise that we are living, not in 1914–1918, but in the present time. After all, the next war is not going to be won by massed armaments of any sort whatsoever; it is going to be won very largely by professional forces and not by conscript armies or navies. I am simply taking, when I say that, the opinion of the experts upon whom the Government and all of us depend for our information in these matters, and not the opinion of amateur strategists who practised during the early days of the late War.
That brings us back to what I said was the key to the whole position, namely, the quality of the personnel of the Air Force at the present time. I have taken the trouble to spend a lot of time going round all the Air Force depots and training centres, and I am sorry to say that we do seem to be coming almost to the end of our sources of supply of the best type of young men for the Air Force. So far as one can ascertain, the tactics to be adopted by the Air Force in defence of this country, at any rate in the London area, are developing along lines which will demand a quality of personnel beyond anything that has ever been known before in warfare of any kind. The tendency is to give up the old idea, that the only defence against air attack on a civilian population is by terrifying the civilian population of the enemy. That idea is becoming obsolete in the minds of those who are responsible for these matters in our Air Force, and we are going back in some respects to the old tradition of the Army and Navy—the tradition in which we were brought up as young people, the tradition which said that the force which wastes any of its material, or any of its energy, or any of its personnel upon any other objective than the armed forces of the enemy is likely to be beaten sooner or later in any type of warfare. And surely the effective means of defence against air attack on a civilian population is not the counter terrorising of enemy civilian populations, but is the creating of a state of terror in the attacking Air Force that is opposed to us. To-day in this country we have some of 1462 the most scientific and some of the most ingenious brains, and those brains, as is well known, are now fully at the disposal of the Government of the day and of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence.
I venture to say that if an attack were made on us, even within the next day or two, a state of terror could be infused into the attacking air force which would be of far greater value in defence of our civilian population than any form of retaliation or any form of horror that we could bring to bear upon the civilian population of our enemy. I say that our whole effort must be devoted to that end, our whole tactics must be aimed at attacking the attackers, and we must give up once and for all the horrible idea that war in the future must needs be so awful a thing as a war upon civilians and those who cannot defend themselves. I say that if that idea—which was current until quite recently, even among our own armed forces—that war in the future was to be an attack on civilian populations and a terrorising of civilian populations—if that idea is not scotched once and for all, and scotched effectively and practically, if war comes, by our own people through the development of such tactics as I have hinted at to-night, there is no particular reason that I can see for endeavouring to continue the existence of the human race.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. DODD
I recall very clearly the advice which was given from the Chair in regard to the cut and thrust of debate, but if I were to attempt to follow the last speaker, I am afraid that I should be led away from the path which I intend to follow, because the major part of his speech seemed to me to be an attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), and it seems to me that the latter is well able to defend himself. All hon. Members on this side of the Committee and a good many hon. Members on the other side appreciate very much the lucid speech of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. The whole House appreciates some of the difficulties with which he has been faced during the past two or three months. In taking over a new office with a limited staff he has had to develop new ground and find new methods of obtaining results. He mentioned in his speech that 1463 a great deal depended in defence on our foreign policy, and he wished us to approach the matter in an atmosphere of reality. It is only in an atmosphere of reality that we can approach that matter. While I do not propose to say much in regard to foreign policy, I should like to follow what was said by the Leader of the Liberal Opposition, who declared that it had not been stated against whom we were defending ourselves. I would go a stage further and say that we have not been told whom we are defending. Is it a question of defending ourselves in this country alone, or defending the Empire or defending many other countries?
We have heard a great deal about collective security, but collective security is entirely useless unless it is used in an atmosphere of reality. We cannot as a nation be called to the defence of anybody and everybody. The time has gone when we could stand up before the whole world as defenders of the smallest country in the world. We have to recognise that there are even countries to-day for which we must fight and whose boundaries we must defend, I say quite openly, even before we would defend parts of the Empire. I should like to make one suggestion for what it is worth. It seems to me that before we have progressed very far with the policy of defence we must recognise that we have our limitations, and I hope that we shall define them. I would suggest something similar to the Monroe doctrine of over 100 years ago, which has gone a very long way towards preserving peace in the north and south continents of America. If we had the same sort of doctrine with the Empire and with certain countries where British influence is of paramount importance, we should be making great strides in the direction of ultimate peace.
In the question of defence we have to remember not only the co-ordination of the three Services, but, what is of far more importance, the co-ordination of supply and the preservation of supply of all types, including food and raw materials. The conditions have changed very greatly from what they were 20 years ago, when this country was almost brought to its knees by the losses in our mercantile marine. In those days the danger was from attack from below the water, but to-day a great armed power 1464 with a very strong air force could create a condition of appalling havoc among the mercantile marine, which is necessary to supply this land with the necessities of our very existence. Last week I was at Southampton on a visit to the "Queen Mary," and I recalled how the "Lusitania" was last during the War, through a torpedo. War was unscrupulous then, and it would be so again. To-day, aeroplanes can carry weapons far more effective than the weapons of 20 years ago, and it seemed to me that a majestic ship like the "Queen Mary" would not be impervious to attack from the air.
The point with which I wish to deal more particularly relates to the question of supply. There has been a good deal of criticism of the defence scheme. Any criticism that I make will be made in a spirit of helpfulness. I am particularly anxious, and I said so when I spoke in the Debate on the Defence White Paper, that there should be as little dislocation of industry and labour as possible. I would once again emphasise the fact that while we are anxious to assist the areas which are distressed, we must, above all, watch the movement of labour. This point has been referred to once or twice to-day, and each time it has been on the question of wages. I am not looking at the matter from the point of view of wages. The whole thing carries a much vaster appeal than that. When the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence said that he had not yet found it necessary to intervene or to call in the assistance of the employers or those who are employed, it occurred to me that the time will not be very far distant when it will be absolutely essential that he should do so, not for the purpose of discussing purely the matter of wages, but to discuss with organised labour the whole problem of the movement of labour. It is as much to the detriment of the trade unions to have an uncertain flux of labour as it is to those who have the factories to run.
I have particularly in mind the whole of East Lancashire, which is in a semi-distressed condition. I can only repeat what I said before, that I am afraid there will be a. flow of skilled and semiskilled labour towards the distressed areas and even the prosperous areas from those areas which I call semi-distressed. I will give a case it point. I have had 1465 brought to my notice by an engineering firm in an East Lancashire town a contract placed by the London Passenger Transport Board. Under an Act passed by this House, all things being equal in the quoted price, firms in the distressed areas are to obtain contracts. In this East Lancashire town, where a previous contract for the same plant had been given, there were a greater number of unemployed than in the individual town in the distressed area to which the work had gone. Moreover, the East Lancashire firm which had quoted for the work had laid down at considerable expense a plant for dealing with this material and had obtained previous contracts, but they lost this one purely and simply on the grounds that the work had to go to a distressed area. That may be to the advantage of the distressed area, but it strikes me as very unfair discrimination against that particular Lancashire town, and against a firm which has gone to considerable trouble and expense to provide facilities and to find employment within its own area.
So far as East Lancashire generally is concerned, in the major towns, Manchester, Bolton, Preston, Accrington, Blackburn, Oldham and Rochdale, we have towns which are perfectly capable of catering to a great extent for the work which the Government are able to hand out under the defence programme. I do not think that any of these towns would be particularly jealous if they found that contracts were going to adjoining districts, where it would be possible for men to travel to and from their work. In my own Division during the War 20,000 people were employed in the supply of munitions for the Government, and there is a definite opening in that district where work might be found. In the last 10 years 11,000 people have left that town. Simply because the figures recorded indicate that there is a lesser amount of unemployment than a few years ago it is no indication of the actual position within the town. So far as these particular towns are concerned there are many firms who are very anxious to have Government work, while there are many firms not a bit anxious to have it. Pressure has to be brought upon some firms that can do the work but do not want it.
There are, on the other hand, a vast number of small firms who are quite 1466 capable of doing the work. Most of them are sub-contractors. When they make application for work the type of letter that they receive in reply is an acknowledgment, or a letter saying that at some later date if there is any necessity for making use of their services they will be communicated with. That does not take an enterprising firm very far. I refer particularly to the small firms, who are anxious to do this work. It means that a great deal of the contracts will be given to very large firms, already well established. I consider that these small firms, and particularly the firms manufacturing the types of materials supplied on sub-contracts, should receive consideration. The right hon. Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) is Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. We can only co-ordinate defence from the point of view of supply by taking the areas and having area representation, with that area representation in due course collected in the centre in London, where the collected knowledge can be brought to bear upon the subject from the point of view of both employers and employed.
Many problems have cropped up since the defence programme was announced. I look with the greatest dissatisfaction on the attitude taken up by certain firms, whose action requires a strong hand from the Minister. There has been a considerable amount of advertising and propaganda by individual firms who are short of operatives. In my own division advertisements have appeared in the Press offering different terms and conditions from those that can be obtained locally. That is unfair to the men and the district. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because it means that the men are taken away for a short period and at the end of, say, two years, when the programmes are completed they will be left high and dry, exactly as they were left high and dry at the termination of the Great War. What I have in mind is that by a reasonable and sensible movement of labour, both skilled and unskilled, from one area to another, the problem could be worked out sensibly and reasonably without dislocation on one side or the other.
One further word on the question of supply. Nearly the whole of the time taken in the Debate on Defence has had reference to the engineering industry alone, an industry of which I have con- 1467 siderable knowledge and in which I have considerable interests. I do not, however, consider that engineering is the one industry that has to be recognised as essential for supply. There are thousands of industries throughout the length and breadth of the country that have to be co-ordinated for producing what we want. When the first five-year plan was announced in Russia they put up a most magnificent work for the manufacture of tractors. They completed something like 1,500 tractors, and then found that they had to be left in the yard because they had no radiators to complete them. I am afraid that I can see something of the same sort of thing happening in connection with much of the work that is going forward now. I know of firms in the Midlands to-day which cannot give deliveries of essential parts. They are already two or three months in arrears with their deliveries. I know also that there are firms in my own district standing idle and waiting for work who could do the work equally well.
I should like to say a word for the cotton industry. Here is an opportunity of doing something for an industry which has been very badly hit for a long time. We do not go to war with cotton—I agree that the major requirements are those of engineering—but I am wondering to myself how many divisions of either the Regular Army or the Territorial Force could be sent to any outside theatre of war and placed under canvas at present. From information that I have been given, there is only a very limited amount of canvas available, and I know from my own experience that there is a shortage of webbing equipment and clothing. I am speaking more particularly for the Territorial Army, but it exists throughout. While I appreciate that the Regular Army ought to have the first call upon this equipment, at the same time the Territorials could be provided with better equipment, thus finding work for an industry that is already labouring under extreme difficulty.
There is a point of paramount importance which I do not think I have heard mentioned in any Debates on defence. I wonder whether we have a clear-cut financial policy in case of our being involved in hostilities in any theatre of war? In the last War we borrowed 1468 money for our Allies. We built up a huge debt to America, and in almost every sense of the word we have repudiated it. Could we go to the same people again and ask them to finance any future operations if a condition of war existed? We are not tied to gold and we could not raise the loans which would be essential to conduct those major operations. I have strayed, perhaps, a little from the question of supply, but I am particularly anxious to see these areas of Great Britain return to prosperity, because I believe the prosperous areas are quite capable of looking after themselves, but if Re are going to look upon this matter without any clear-cut plan as to what is to be given to this particular area and to another, we shall fail in what we are attempting to do.
The only logical way to deal with the problem is to send work to the areas where the factories are idle, where there are buildings and equipment and a vast mass of labour. You will find that more particularly in the semi-distressed areas, and the county from which I come is one which should have major consideration. Within 30 miles of Mauchester there are something like 16,000,000 people. It is a corner which has proved in the past to be the backbone of the country, and if they are to be shut out by work being given to areas which are already prosperous we shall not be doing what I believe we should do.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Sir RONALD ROSS
This Debate is in extreme contrast to the state of affairs during the consideration of Service matters some years ago. I do not think I have ever known such a contrast in the general point of view of Members of the House as regards questions of the efficiency of the Defence forces, because the only interest of hon. Members opposite was to get them cut down, to reduce programmes and to make gestures. That was the only thought of the lion that roared so gallantly from the Liberal benches just now—the lion which used to be the lamb. I allude to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). Now he has come round and his motto seems to be, "If you wish for peace prepare for war, and be prepared t. fight." That is a very long distance from the attitude which I think he would like to be able to adopt and which we 1469 should all like to adopt. There are constant suggestions that the Defence forces are inefficient. I do not think they are, but if they should be inefficient a great degree of responsibility lies with those who have been Members of the House for a long time and have never taken any interest in the Defence forces except to criticise them or try to get them reduced.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Is the hon. Gentleman referring to me? Again and again I have said that, whatever forces we have should be efficient, and that has been pressed on this side on exactly the same lines as to-day.
§ Sir R. ROSS
I do not think my glance was resting on the Leader of the Opposition. I quite agree with what he has said. He has always taken the line that such forces as we have should be sufficient, though he has not always told us how they could be made efficient. No one took any interest, except people like the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman sitting next him, who has always taken, from his own Socialist point of view, a very keen and helpful interest in the affairs of the Navy particularly. What is the attitude of the Socialist party to-day? They have, at all events, learned one thing. The Leader of the Opposition has at last apparently appreciated the virtue of coordination. I wish he would start by coordinating the views of his own party, because truculence abroad and a refusal to arm at home do not seem to me very much like co-ordination. Of course, he cannot co-ordinate that part of his party who wish to fight so many different foreign Powers and in so many different interests, but I had hoped that, instead of a speech which seemed to be rather of pinpricks, running into side issues, I should have heard a definite statement of his policy and that of his party on this most important question of the re-armament of the country, because re-armament it is.
We have a fault, and that is that we are always very reluctant to re-arm. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), in saying that we should have re-armed a long time ago, was rather demanding a thing which would have been very difficult to achieve. I have felt for many years that our armaments were dangerously low. Some hon. Members opposite may re- 1470 member my speaking to that effect as long ago as 1929. This country is always reluctant to re-arm. It always hopes for general disarmament, and peace with disarmament. It is a very great fault but not one of which we need be at all ashamed, because it is we who suffer from it, and it is a wish to achieve a better state of things which produces that fault.
To-day we are discusing the task of the new Minister and the Debate seems to me to have one advantage, or disadvantage, that one can discuss on this Vote almost any question under the sun and not be out of order. I should like to address myself to the functions of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. A Minister who is appointed to a new office has a very difficult and responsible task. He has no machinery, he has no precedents and he has a very small staff, which is as new to the job as he is. The great danger, as I see it at present, is that hon. and right hon. Gentleman and the country at large should expect too much from the Minister and his staff. It is a fault that we are always making. We have expected too much from the League of Nations and, to go from the large to the small, the greatest danger is to expect too much from the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. He is no super war lord. He has certain definitely stated obligations and, as far as I can extract them from the White Paper, which is really his charter, they are, first of all, to relieve the Prime Minister, on whom the final responsibility always rests, from the routine duty of acting as Chairman of the Committee of Imperial Defence and the Defence Policy Committee. He has, secondly, the power of consultation with the Chiefs of Staff. He can in an emergency be present at their meetings and he is Chairman of the Supply Officers Committee. Implicitly it would appear that he is also responsible for the co-ordination of all the Departments which are primarily concerned with the problems of defence.
I should deplore any attempt being made to rule the Service Ministries from his office. I do not think that is his function, and I do not think that he would say that it is his function, because the responsibility for the efficient running of the various Departments is that of the heads of those Departments and not that of the Minister for the Co-ordina- 1471 tion of Defence. I would ask hon. Members to consider what would follow from asking him to impose his will on the actual running of the different Departments. You would have a diarchy. It is not for nothing that the Minister is called the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. If he were driven to constantly interfering with the various Services you would not have a Minister for the Coordination of Defence but a Minister for the confusion of defence, which would make the state of affairs worse than it is now. His duty is to be the friend and the conciliatory authority of all the Ministries that are concerned with defence.
A very good instance of his duties, as I see them, is the question of considering the Fleet Air Arm. It is a point that affects two Ministries very vitally, and I am sure his assistance will be very helpful, and I would ask the Government whether, in considering that problem, they would not leave out the question of flying-boats. It is a matter of detail, but it is a very important detail. The rather anomalous situation has arisen that the type of aircraft that is the most seaworthy and the most exclusively used over the sea is entirely under the Air Ministry and is not affected by the orders of those with whom it would have to work, that is, the sailors. I hope that that question will be considered with the other questions.
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
Do I understand my hon. Friend to say that for tactical purposes the flying boats are not under the control of the Admiralty?
§ Sir R. ROSS
My hon. Friend has introduced the phrase" for tactical purposes." In tactical purposes lies the catch because, although they are subject to Naval orders, he knows as well as I do, that they come under the Air Ministry, and he knows with what vigour the Air Ministry defend their rights with regard to flying-boats. I am not taking any line one way or the other, but I am saying that it is a, matter for inquiry by the proper authority. I was taking that as a typical instance—and there are many other instances—and I hope that we shall find a solution which will be equally agreeable to my hon. Friend and myself. I pass to a more general question.
1472 An expression was used by the right hon. Gentleman during his speech, to which I listened with great interest, which rather surprised me. He alluded to his duty to preside at the Chiefs of Staff Committee. I have the White Paper in my hand, and as I understand it, that is a committee over which he is not intended to preside, except in rather exceptional circumstances. I should be very interested to know what the position is. He has a, very useful function in connection with the Chiefs of Staff Committee, because they can come to him for his assistance. When there are points of difficulty upon which they wish to agree among themselves, should they wish for his assistance, they can always get it.
But there is danger in putting the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence in the position of being chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, because all the questions which they consider are predominantly technical questions. I can assure hon. Members that, if they think that the Chiefs of Staff Committee is a sort of fight for strict party interests, they are entirely wrong. These very distinguished Service heads of Departments work out solutions among themselves, and it is their duty to do this work. They work in very close touch and harmony, and if you had a civilian head as chairman of that Committee he obviously could not be as well informed technically. It might easily lead to the soldier, sailor or airman being far more inclined to run the technical side on the strict party case, feeling that he was relieved of the duty of having to make a decision or to come to an agreement. I have always thought that that was a very wise feature of the White Paper, and I hope that I am right in thinking that the Chiefs of Staff are to be left to themselves to a considerable extent.
There was one part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping in which he described the many problems which the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence would have to consider. I think that for the moment he was forgetting—he does not often forget matters connected with the Services—the existence of the Planning Committee. It is one of the most useful pieces of machinery for National Defence and would, at all events, have to consider a large number of the questions 1473 which he put to the Committee to-day. They are to have three new officers. I should be very interested to know whether these new officers on the staff of the Joint Planning Committee will live in their separate Departments, or whether they will live at the Ministry of Defence or in the same office. It is of great importance that officers of different Services working on a joint task, that of producing a co-ordinated plan, should, if possible, be in such close contact with one another as could only be obtained by living in the same office.
The right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness (Sir A, Sinclair) spoke of the important task of the fusing of the Defence policy. That is a task which is really beyond the scope of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence and, to use the vivid phrase of the right hon. Gentleman, the fusing of the Defence policy is surely a matter of education rather than of the Minister doing it by coercion from above. The greatest need of the armed forces of this country is a common staff doctrine. If we had a common staff doctrine, the same set of factors similarly appreciated by soldier, sailor and airman, we should have gone incredibly far along the course of co-ordination.
I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the weight he attaches to the Imperial Defence College. I think that that institution was the most valuable step which has been taken on the educational side of the Defence system of this country in this generation, and I am delighted to see that there is to be an addition to its secretariat. The Imperial Defence College has had a most successful career. I have always wondered whether its small staff—and it is very small—is quite sufficient, although the students of that institution take a large share in educating one another by their experience, because they are all either officers or civil servants of considerable experience. Now that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness is present, I wish to say that he really rather startled me in his speech. I allude to that portion of his speech in which he dealt particularly with the Navy. He was alluding to its expense. Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that the vast bulk of the increased cost of the Navy is due to the increase in the pay of the sailors 1474 and marines, and in the wages paid to the workmen who build ships.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
The difficulty which the hon. Gentleman had in following my argument was perhaps due to the fact that, on the one hand, I was taking up my argument with the Noble Lord in charge of the Naval Estimates. When I made the comparison between pre-war expenditure and post-war expenditure, I did make considerable allowances for those factors which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, and the Noble Lord was good enough to acknowledge that I had made such allowances. He then suggested a deduction of one-third from the present expenditure to bring it into line with pre-war expenditure. In my argument to-day I was making a deduction of one-third in order to compare the Estimates of 1914–15 with the Estimates for the current year of £70,000,000, which was the figure the Noble Lord himself suggested.
§ Sir R. ROSS
The right hon. Gentleman was fair in that he only dealt with the effective charges, whereas normally anyone who is criticising the expenditure on our Defence services generally includes the pensioners and the non-effective services. But, nevertheless, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has made allowance for the question of wages to those who build and construct ships. Dockyard wages since 1914 have risen enormously, and he will agree that the rise in the pay of 140,000 men means a considerable increase in expenditure. There is this further point, that the smaller the ship the more expensive it is per ton. The cost per ton of a submarine is nearly double that of a battleship. There is also an infinite number of scientific instruments which have been added to the equipment of modern ships, and that has increased the cost of building. In the days before the War the fitting of a ship was not such a scientific matter as it is now.
The right hon. Member rather surprised me when he complained about the standard of naval strength. If there is one force whose strength is regulated on a basis which he and his friends can approve, it is the Navy. Its present strength is strictly regulated by international agreements with all the major naval Powers. Being strictly regulated we find ourselves criticised by the right hon. Member for Epping because we are 1475 sticking to a Treaty which hon. Members made in 1930, and it is the only one of the three Services which up to the end of this year is based strictly on-inter-national agreements. As far as I know, the new suggestion in the White Paper is to replace battleships when they become obsolete. The right hon. Member opposite objects to the big battleship, but that is too long a matter to argue now, and I will therefore address myself to the functions of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for the Coordination of Defence in his new office. As I see it, his function is not to suggest or to provide schemes for the Departments. That is the Departments' responsibility. If he thinks that something is required of them he can notify them that he would like to know what they propose to do. But his duty is to make one scheme fit into another until we get a well articulated whole. Otherwise, there is the danger, that if things were to go wrong the right hon. Gentleman might become the scapegoat of the Departments. They might manage to foist their work on to him. Therefore, his functions are limited to co-ordination, and to pointing out such defects in general organisation which need filling up.
Let me just deal with the question of construction and supply, which is probably the most important anxiety of the right hon. Gentleman at present. Among the considerations which we have to bear in mind are the vulnerability of the site, and the needs of the Special Areas. An hon. Member has put forward the claims of Lancashire. I come from a part of the country which is also engaged in the textile trade, and I have a great deal of sympathy with his plea: But I would urge that on the question of vulnerability there is no part of the United Kingdom which can compete with Northern Ireland as regards the difficulty of attacking it in a European wars especially if that war was principally a war in the air. It is the least vulnerable part of the United Kingdom. It is not a depressed area. We have managed to contribute a larger sum to the National Exchequer this year than last year, but at the same time it is an industrial area which is going through a 1476 period of considerable depression. Its two main trades, linen and shipbuilding, are both depressed. I think sometimes that we have not always got our fair share. Northern Ireland was expressly excluded from the benefits of the Shipping Bill. It has always built the fleet of the White Star, but now it is the Cunard-White Star Company and, apparently, their ships are going to be built principally elsewhere.
When I think of the Clyde, also an area which from the point of view of vulnerability is favourably placed, and the 100 ships which they have been given to build since the war, whereas Belfast has only had one, and that a small one, I consider that we have not been unduly spoilt. I would also remind the right hon. Gentleman of the fact that Northern Ireland produces the highest proportion of recruits of any recruiting area in the United Kingdom. We give our men, and all I ask is that this area should be allotted work, that we should be allowed to do some of the work for a Service in which our people are prepared to serve. Providing as we do a larger number of recruits than any area in this country, it would certainly be grossly unfair if we were not given our due share of the work of providing the implements or weapons which they have to use as soldiers, sailors or airmen.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
The hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry (Sir R. Ross), in the course of his speech, as is usual in speeches in this House, was very generous in his advice to those who sit on these benches. He suggested that if we believe in co-ordination we should first of all endeavour to co-ordinate our own Members. May I extend that advice to him and ask him to use his very great influence to co-ordinate the views of hon. Members on his side of the House? We have had an example this evening of the co-ordination and the unity of thought among hon. Members opposite, and I would remind the hon. Baronet of the episodes of Monday and Tuesday of this week. I would ask him to consider certain Members of the Front Bench opposite and see how far they differ on policy.
The hon. Baronet referred to the cutting down of programmes and the in- 1477 efficiency of the Fighting Services. From the amount of criticism that has been levelled against hon. Members on this side of the House, one would imagine that we had been charged with the responsibility of governing this country for the last 10, 15 or 20 years. With the exception of three short years—nine months in 1924 and from 1929–1931—the Government of this country has been in the hands of people holding the same political views as those who occupy the Front Bench opposite at the present time. If there is any inefficiency in the Fighting Forces and if there has been any cutting down of programmes, it is those who share the views of the hon. Baronet and the majority of those on the Government Benches, who are entirely responsible.
§ Sir R. ROSS
I would like to ask my hon. Friend one question. During the last Government he spoke on every occasion on the Navy Estimates. Throughout that time did he ever criticise the Navy Estimates from any point of view except that they were too large?
§ Mr. HALL
It must be remembered that since 1920 a sum of no less than £850,000,000 has been spent simply upon naval armaments in this country. I was very interested to hear the hon. Baronet speak of the increased wages bill and the increased cost of construction. Of course, there has been an increase in the wages bill, but there has been a tremendous reduction in the number of employés in the dockyards and in the personnel of the Navy. If the hon. Baronet will read the Report of the May Committee, he will see what it says about some aspects of the construction of certain ships. It made a recommendation that a committee should be appointed to investigate certain costs in connection with the construction of ships for the Navy.
§ Sir R. ROSS
The May Committee dealt entirely with the work of the hon. Member's own Board of Admiralty.
§ Mr. HALL
I do not know that we paid any more than the Governments which preceded or followed us. I do not propose to take up very much of the tune of the Committee. The general case of hon. Members on this side was very well stated by the Leader of our party. He put our position clearly, and there is no need for us to deal with that aspect further. I think I may say that we were all very depressed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). It was certainly one of the most depressing speeches to which I have listened. In the right hon. Gentleman's opinion, war is inevitable, and he almost fixed the date—in three or four years from now we are to be engaged in the most devastating, devilish conflict the world has ever seen. I would much prefer to believe in the attitude of the Leader of my party and the attitude expressed in the closing sentences of the Leader of the Liberal party. I think there is still a deal of good sense in the people of this country, and I hope that, although we have a Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, whatever is being done now will not be required on the lines suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Co-ordination of Defence has now been in his new job for two months. His is not an easy task as was indicated by his speech. He told us very little of the co-ordination of the Services, the inter-linking of the work of the Navy, the Air Force and the Army. That in itself would be the work of a superman. The right hon. Gentleman confined himself very largely to what may be regarded as the supply side. He referred to certain investigations which are taking place—the committee which is investigating the bombing of the battleship and whether the battleship can stand up to bombing, and the committee considering the question of food in war-time. He then went on to deal with the industrial changes which will be necessary to provide the ammunition and arms which may be required in the event of an emergency. One of the most disappointing things in this Debate is that every hon. and right hon. Member has forgotten the importance of what I consider to be one of 1479 the most essential things for the defence of this country, that is, fuel. The right hon. Gentleman himself did not evvn mention it, and is is very evident from what he told the Committee that no action is being taken by the Government at the present time to deal with this very important matter.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The hon. Member says it is very evident, but I would like to correct his understanding on this point, because it is a misapprehension that nothing is being done in connection with fuel. There is a special committee on it. I should have detained the Committee too long if I had dealt with the whole of the activities of the Committee on Imperial Defence.
§ Mr. HALL
All I would say is that the matter seems not to be regarded as sufficiently important to warrant mention of it by the right hon. Gentleman. It is not only the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman to-day, but the statement made by the Civil Lord of the Admiralty on the Naval Estimates that I have in mind. I would also refer to the reply given by the right hon. Gentleman himself to a question which was put to him yesterday concerning the suggestion that additional plant should be erected for the purpose of producing oil in this country. It will, I think, be generally admitted that this country and our Allies could not have succeeded in the last War without British coal, not only for the use of the Navy but for shipping, general transport and industries. Coal is essential in almost every aspect of our national life. In the next war it may be that the exhaustion of the supplies of liquid fuel will decide the great issues involved. Fuel is, and always has been, a vital factor in war-time, as vital indeed as food and munitions. The air arm cannot function without liquid fuel; we depend on oil fuel for the Navy and merchant shipping, as well as for our mechanised Army. This has created problems of defence to which all pre-1913 soldiers and sailors are strangers. I think it was Napoleon who said that an army marched on its stomach. It might be said to-day that the fighting forces of the world could not march without the petrol pump.
In regard to the development of air forces for either defence or attack, there 1480 is no alternative for liquid fuel. I was almost going to say that this development in the use of oil as fuel is a bad thing. One almost feels that it is a pity that the oil resources of the world do not dry up, but I suppose some other form of fuel would be found to do the work which is nom being done by oil. This is however a serious aspect of the question for this country. We have an abundance of the best coal in the world which can be used of itself, or converted into other forms of fuel. But, as far as we know, there is little or no oil in this country and the same can be said of the whole British Empire. I think only some 2 per cent. of the known oil resources of the world are to be found in the British Empire yet here we are in this country, dependent on oil for our Navy, our Air Force, our mechanised Army, our merchant shipping and our transport, producing just 4 per cent. of the oil which we require for our own use and importing 96 per cent., the major portion of which has to be brought over 3,000 miles to this country. The situation is very serious. Last year we imported no less than 2,500,000,000 gallons of oil for all purposes. At the risk of repetition, I would emphasise our view that the Government are not alive to the desperate nature of the position.
As far as the coal industry is concerned, one feels nowadays that people are beginning to think and even to legislate in terms of a diminishing coal industry. In my opinion, any sound programme of defence ought to contemplate not a diminishing but an expanding coal industry. We may have oil reserves in tanks but we have an abundance of coal in our coal fields and I hope the right hon. Gentleman is taking into consideration the importance of that matter. We have not been told definitely the total cost of the defence programme for which the right hon. Gentleman's office has been brought into being but estimates in certain well-informed newspapers suggest that it will cost anything from £250,000,000 to £300,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman in reply to a question yesterday suggested that we could produce from 10 hydrogenation plants for the extraction of petrol from coal, something like 1,500,000 tons of petrol or nearly half the present peace-time supply.
1481 Is it not worth while considering this question? If we can afford to spend up to £300,000,000 upon instruments of war—which would be no use if the country's oil supplies were cut off—is it not worth while spending the amount which the right hon. Gentleman himself mentioned yesterday in that reply in order to deal with oil production in this country on the lines which have been suggested? I am not going into the question of different processes. It may be argued that the Burgess process of hydrogenation is in the hands of one large influential company and that it would be impossible to develop plant in other parts of the country without the consent of Imperial Chemical Industries who control the patents of the Burgess process. But there are other processes and it is worth while considering those other processes both of hydrogenation and of low-temperature carbonisation.
Not only do I desire to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the question of providing oil by the methods that we on this side have suggested times out of number, but I would ask him what steps his Department and the Government are taking to prevail upon industrialists and large users of fuel to use coal instead of oil where possible. He must know that 95 to 96 per cent. of road transport in this country, commercial and passenger, is now being carried out by oil-driven vehicles. In my division during the last five years we have lost a market for nearly 600,000 tons of coal owing to what may be regarded as an administrative action of the Ministry of Transport in making it almost impossible for steam waggons to run on the roads. I am not suggesting that the steam waggons of 10 years ago are as suitable as some of the oil-driven vehicles of to-day but the more modern steam waggons are almost as suitable as the very heavy oil-driven vehicles. Two collieries in my division have been closed as the result of thousands of these steam waggons being taken off the road. Then there is the question of tramway companies and municipalities scrapping tramway systems and replacing them, not by trolley omnibuses using electricity, which is a product of coal, but by oil-driven vehicles. The right hon. Gentleman should do all he possibly can in an endeavour to induce industrialists and the 1482 owners of vehicles to use coal or the product of coal wherever possible.
Then there is the question of merchant shipping. A large proportion of that which is owned by this country is oil-fired instead of being driven by coal, and a large proportion of the fishing fleet and the tramp steamers use oil, too. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman could take up the question of dual firing if we cannot get a good deal of the new shipping construction to use coal instead of oil. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Government in the development of works on the lines which he mentioned, have given some thought to the Special Areas. I am glad to think that they have at last come to recognise their responsibility for a good deal of the difficulties with which the Special Areas are confronted. He said that he could not go into details. I come from one of the worst areas, that of South Wales, where we have 40 to 50 per cent. of our insured persons unemployed, a large proportion of whom have been unemployed for periods of not less than five years, and some even for something like eight to 10 years.
The position is becoming so acute that large employers openly declare that, in the event of anything like a restoration of trade where the services of these men —who are not only aged men, but middle-aged and young men—would be required, it would be almost impossible for them to do the work they would be called upon to do owing to the fact that they have been out of work for so long and have suffered from lack of nourishment and food. For all that, we should encourage the bringing of work into some of these areas, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us whether, in the programme that he mentioned, South Wales is being considered and, if so, where the location of the work is to be. The principal thing on which I rose to address the Committee was the important question of fuel. The Government will have to face this matter. If an emergency arose within the next month or two, I have no doubt that the Government would spend hundreds of millions of pounds in endeavouring to secure a supply of oil in our own country. It would not be a question of economics. During the later years of the War the Admiralty were spending no less than 1483 £14 per ton for fuel oil for the Fleet, and even then it was almost impossible to get it. We have in our own land a commodity which, if it is properly used, could give us a supply of oil which the country needs. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to take this important matter into his consideration.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
I feel that we are extremely grateful to the Liberal party for having given us the opportunity of this Debate on such an important subject. It is rather unfortunate for the Liberal party that on the day they put down this question the party opposite should he putting down a dinner. While we are debating the co-ordination of defence, the party opposite, I understand, is engaged at dinner in debating the co-ordination of the Conservative party. Although we may not have made much progress so far in the co-ordination of defence, the right hon. Gentleman's efforts in that direction are likely to be crowned with far more success than the efforts of those who are trying to coordinate the Conservative party under its present leadership.
I listened with deep attention and interest to the right hon. Gentleman, and the main impression left upon my mind is that he is now investigating matters which ought to have been investigated long ago. He said that he was considering the question of food supplies in war. That is in 1936, just after the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in introducing his Budget that we can "feel the flames in our faces"—flames which he hopes to put out by 2d. on the Tea Duty. It is rather late in the day to wait until you feel the flames in your faces before beginning to consider the question of food supplies in time of war. Again, the right hon. Gentleman said that he was considering such questions as merchant shipping, anti-aircraft defence and the defence of the civilian population. May I ask whether he has initiated the consideration of these questions, or is he only taking up investigations which he found in progress when he assumed office? Running through the whole of his speech was the clear admission that the Coordinating Minister is concerning himself with supply and man-power and not with 1484 questions of strategy. It is a remarkable thing that while the Government decline to appoint a Minister of Supplies, they appoint what ought to have come second, namely, a coordinating Minister, and then proceed to overload him with questions of supply.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) said that there was a complete failure to give us any vivid picture of the questions at issue. I share the hon. Baronet's feeling of regret that on such vital issues as that of our policy in the Far East, the question of the new developments in the Mediterranean, and t he battleship controversy, we get no such vivid pictures, no such clear presentment of the problems, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) could certainly have given us had these questions arisen while he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Instead of vivid pictures enabling us to get a clear grasp of the fundamental points at issue, we get these imperfect recitations of something which has been written by the Staff—that is, if we get anything at all. As I am fortunate enough at the moment to be speaking in the presence of both the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence and of my own leader, may I say that I hope that the Minister will pay particular attention to that part of the speech of my right hon. Friend in which he emphasised the necessity for consulting junior ranks in the Service and, in particular, to his remark about the older men being out of date? These remarks hold good as regards the back-benchers in politics as well as for the junior members of the Services.
Reference has been made to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping made rather a depressing speech to-night. I thought that he was in a subdued mood and let the Minister off a little lightly, but I am not so sure that he was depressing as that he was alarmist. We know his incapacity to resist the use of adjectives; the main feature of his speeches is that he invariably uses three adjectives where one would be too many. He certainly was alarmist to-night, and I was surprised to hear that he had bean bitten by this idea of invasion from the air. In that respect we can safely say that the words of Moltke still hold true. When Moltke was 1485. asked if it was possible to carry out an invasion of this country he said: "It certainly is. I could do it. My only difficulty would be to get the men back again." As regards the Government's defence plan and the duties of the Coordinating Minister, I think the principal objection to them is that no single authority emerges for the consideration of war measures as a whole. The proposals do not face up to the essential necessity for one man being responsible for plans and for the functions of the Services, while at the same time being in effective control of the means of dealing with the vital questions of industry and of manpower, upon which the whole business of a future war is going to turn. I quote from the White Paper:The Prime Minister's deputy is only given supervision and control on the Prime Mi nister's behalf.The preparation of reports to the Cabinet and the right to make recommendations.He may "consult" and "guide" the Chiefs of Staff Committee, but the only independent job given to him is to replace the President of the Board of Trade as chairman of the Principal Supply Officers sub-committee. There is no definition in the White Paper of any executive authority given to him as chairman of this sub-committee and there is no alteration of any substance to the Chiefs of Staff sub-committee, and its defects, to which attention has repeatedly been called both inside and outside the House, remain unaltered. The proposals, to my mind, show no courage in facing the problem. They are a shuffle and a compromise. They leave the existing condition of divided responsibility, which results in lack of co-ordination, unaltered except in detail, and they show in their loose wording and poor drafting every sign of having been hastily botched together as a result of pressure in the House of Commons. They totally fail to satisfy public opinion or to give any confidence in this Government or the Prime Minister to carry out the task of co-ordination and rearmament.
Co-ordination is not enough. We want a Minister free of all routine work able to view the problems involved as an indivisible whole and to be responsible for the production of Defence plans, and for equipment and supply, while leaving the Service Departments responsible for 1486 internal administration but not for strategy. But the main defect is that the co-ordinating Minister has got advisory powers only, and the Prime Minister specifically retains responsibility for directing co-ordination of Defence while he has admitted that the pressure of work prevents him from doing that very job. It is my experience, and I think it will be that of most hon. Members, that you cannot devolve responsibility upon a deputy. If you are responsible you must do the job yourself, or run the risk of a very serious breakdown of your plans. Moreover, with all respect to the Minister, I must say that a first-rate man will not play second fiddle. A man who has anything in him wants to have a job of his own and to be allowed to get on with it without having to run to somebody else to report at every turn.
There is one particular question that I should like to take rather beyond where the right hon. Member for Epping left it, and to which I hope very much some reply may be given in the course of this Debate. I want to take the question of the Mediterranean a step further than it has been taken to-night. We used to conduct all our naval policy on the basis of a friendly Japan and a friendly Italy. We have now converted one of these countries into a hostile and formidable Power, and both these countries have got plans for expansion to which we constitute an obstacle. I want to deal mainly with the Mediterranean. Our policy must, of course, remain dominated by the necessity for control of the Channel ports and of the Mediterranean route to the Far East. At the immediate moment I think the problem of the Mediterranean is the one which is urgent. It is our route to India, China, Australia and New Zealand, those four great treasure houses. Let us reflect upon the value of our trade with those four Continents: India £80,000,000 a year, Australia £50,000,000, China, £26,000,000. Zinc, rubber, wool, hemp, manganese, tin, oil, food—all these necessities come home along this route through the Mediterranean, and that trade can be assured only if we have control of that sea.
I should not like to have to answer a question as to the ultimate effect of air power upon sea power, but one thing is obvious, and that is that air power is going to change completely the nature and character of naval operations. A 1487 power which is weak at sea can nevertheless, if she has superior air force, control the neighbourhood of her coast and can defend her sea communications up to the effective range of her aircraft. The Mediterranean is a very suitable field of operations for submarines. It is extremely deep, which renders the task of dealing with submarines by means of mines practically impossible. During the War 10 submarines in the Mediterranean were able to sink shipping at the rate of 150,000 tons a month. The menace is increased now by air force, the submarines being able to shepherd convoys of merchant ships into the right position for the bombers to attack them.
In the circumstances what is the real opinion of the staffs about the situation in the Mediterranean and our power to control that sea? Unless our main Fleet were destroyed I do not know that we need be in any anxiety about the defence of Gibraltar, I do not know that the loss of Malta would necessarily be a mortal blow, but the Suez Canal is our spinal cord for that trade with the East, and we now have to consider a hostile Italy with air and submarine bases in Sicily, in Sardinia, in the Dodecanese Islands and established, now, in Africa, at the other end of the Red Sea. We have to guard both sides of the Canal. Palestine, Arabia and Egypt are all vital to that defence, and it is notorious that propaganda on the part of a Power which hopes to see the end of our domination in the Mediterranean is rife in those countries. With this threat to us in the Mediterranean how could we send naval forces to the Far East with any safety or security?
I wish to reiterate, to lay emphasis upon, this particular question of how we can maintain our trade route through the Mediterranean in the event of our being at war with Italy. Very likely we should have to abandon Malta at first. The Fleet might have to go cruising, as our Fleet went cruising in 1914 when it had no suitable defended base. We might, and probably should, eventually recover Malta, but what would happen meanwhile if the Fleet were, as I say, cruising? What about repairs and refitting? We may be able to develop some temporary alternative base, but it is impossible to improvise ship-repairing facilities. Is the Minister prepared to say that this question has been examined and that decision 1488 has been come to that, if we are at war with Italy, we can maintain our trade route through the Mediterranean? If we cannot maintain it, what is the point of putting in more money in an attempt to develop defences which the combined staffs would possibly think not adequate to the job These questions require the most careful consideration, and unless the staffs are prepared to give some assurance in regard to the trade route through the Mediterranean we should begin at once, I suggest, to consider the development of the route by way of the Cape. Even though delays might be involved, it is far better to rely upon a route to the Far East that will be secure than to rely upon a, quicker and more convenient but insecure route.
I think all hon. Members will agree with me that we are living in anxious days of very grave issues and, unfortunately, of very great humiliation for this country. We have touched bottom in our foreign policy, at a moment when our Defence plan and organisation appear to be in chaos. I do not advocate waste of time. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping asked the Government what is the object of delay? I do not think the Government have anything half so dignified as an object. I think their delay is merely futility, a reluctance to face the problems and an inability to think them out. These problems cannot he ignored for ever. The days are so serious that I would like to urge once again that we do not delay until next year to summon an Imperial Conference. I should like to see the Dominion Prime Ministers summoned here at once to a conference to settle the future foreign policy of the Commonwealth arid to agree upon the defence plans necessary to fulfil that policy. This is the moment when we should take counsel with all those with whom we may in the future have to act. The world would not be slow to mark and to appreciate what would be implied in such a drawing together of ourselves and the Dominions at this juncture, to consider the course which we are to steer through the very rough weather which lies ahead of us.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Wing - Commander JAMES
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will excuse me if I do not follow the points he made in his speech. So much of the 1489 speech as was related to the White Paper I would not dispute. The speech which preceded it from the Opposition Front Bench dealt with fuel, and I thought it might very well have been delivered on the Ministry of Mines Vote. I want for a few minutes to refer again to defence. The Minister for the Coordination of Defence naturally devoted almost the whole of his speech, as he no doubt has directed a great part of his attention, to the supply side of his work. The Minister shakes his head, but he devoted a great part of his speech to the supply side. I am prepared to concede that some of us who were young enough, or old enough, as may be, to be caught in the last War, may over emphasise the importance of the strategic side. I was very glad that the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) brought the Debate back to the strategic problems of co-ordination. Such references to the co-ordination of strategy as the Minister made I found extremely remarkable. He said, for example, that it was his job to keep "in touch with" the Chiefs of Staff sub-committee. I think I am quoting him fairly. Merely keeping in touch with the committee would hardly be the way to co-ordinate its work. He made another reference, which horrified me, to the joint general staff and the demand that had been made by many hon. Members, including myself several times, for the creation of a joint general staff" whatever it is," as he said. I want to know how that reference can be squared with the specific assurances that were given by the Secretary of State for Air, who said, speaking in a place to which I must not refer in detail, that the object of the creation of the post the Minister now holds was the Government's wish to give the country what it needed, a great general staff, in the truest and fullest sense of the word.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will quote the Noble Lord's words, which had a particular meaning. What Lord Swinton said should be given verbally and textually as he said it.
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
I thought I was sailing rather near the wind even in quoting from memory what was said in another place, but if the Chairman will permit me I will certainly quote the 1490 actual words from the OFFICIAL REPORT. I will hand it to the Minister immediately I have read it. I do not know how far back to start so as to give the whole sense of the passage. I will read the whole sentence. The Minister said:I have spoken, it is true, of a combined staff. Perhaps I have used a technical term I should not have used. But I have used it because there is in the mind and intention of all of us that all those who work on this joint planning, the Chiefs of Staffs sitting in committee, the Joint Planning Committee working to them, these new officers and the Imperial Defence College who will be working together, reinforced, if need be, as experience shows to be necessary in the future, will give us what we do need, which is a great General Staff in the truest and fullest sense of the word.I do not think I spoke even from memory. I quoted his words. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence referred to "a joint general staff, whatever it is." I ask how he can explain his slighting reference to the joint general staff, "whatever it is," in view of the Minister's specific assurances?
§ Sir T. INSKIP
It is very unfortunate to have a discussion here about what has been said in another place. My hon. and gallant Friend keeps referring to the phrase, "a joint general staff." What the Noble Lord said was, "a great general staff in the truest and fullest sense of the word." The Noble Lord referred exactly to the position of things which existed in the organisation as I know it to be.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
My hon. and gallant Friend does not seem to see that that makes the whole difference to the point of his argument.
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
Does it make a difference? In all the discussion which preceded the appointment of the Minister the word "joint" was always used, and I thought that it conveyed the same sense in the speech in the other place. The Minister referred also to the joint planning committee. That was referred to also by the Home Secretary in the Debate in which the present Minister's function was established, and I complained then—and I complain now—that the joint planning committee in its present form is no substitute for a joint 1491 or a great general staff, because it is a body of departmental officers who in their function are little more than devils to the Chiefs of Staff sub-committee. May I mention one or two points which support the creation of a Joint General Staff? The present system of the Committee of Imperial Defence working through the Chiefs of Staff sub-committee has not proved adequate in the past. That is admitted by the appointment of the present Minister, and surely the events in the last six months in the Middle East bear witness to that fact. There has been lack of co-ordination of the plans of the three Services.
Surely the very powerful letters in the "Times" from ex-chiefs of staff who have written to that paper have made it quite clear that the deliberations of the Chiefs of Staff committee have not been harmonious and that it has not functioned as a joint staff. Very grave anxieties exist in the three Services about the joint planning at the top, which does so need strengthening. I do not want to be accused of merely destructive criticism, so let me say in a sentence what I think we need. What we need is a small thinking staff from the three Services, detached from departmental duties, supported by a member of the Foreign Office divorced from daily routine, to advise the Minister and the Government on general strategic matters and problems. However efficient we make our supplies side, it is the strategic direction of our Forces that in the long run would make for success. In conclusion may I refer to a different matter? The hon. and gallant Member for Londonderry (Sir R. Ross) has had close association with the Admiralty, arid he thought that co-ordination was a splendid thing provided the Navy was not touched. His whole demand was, "Hands off the Navy."
§ Wing-Commander JAMES
One simply cannot let pass some of the things which have been said in this House lately by the hon. and gallant Member for Londonderry and some of his friends. A reference too which the new Minister made to the Naval Air Arm, in reply to the 1492 right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) the other day. I found rather disturbing. There are four facts which cannot be denied by those persons who are now agitating for a splitting up of the Air Force. First, the whole cost of the Fleet Air Arm is borne by the Admiralty. There has been no financial inducement to the Air Ministry to stint the Navy because the Navy was paying. Second, and arising out of that, no demand has been made by the Admiralty on the Air Ministry for machines, equipment or stores which has not been met. If deficiencies existed that was due to general financial stringency and not to the system. Third, the Admiralty has full control of the Fleet Air Arm for operational purposes. Lastly, this subject has been investigated time and again, and the result of those investigations has been announced in the House, over and over again. They have shown that there was no substance in the demand by the Admiralty for a step so reactionary as the splitting up of the Air Force.
I do not say that the present position is perfect and that no change is possible. All I trust is that the Minister will see that this horrid controversy is not again allowed to impair the efficiency of the two Services, and that that small section of naval opinion which has refused to accept Government policy for years past shall accept Government policy, and that such changes as are necessary shall be obtained by gradual evolution and not reaction. Good feeling is growing up between the Services and when some other individuals come to take their rest—I am not referring to the hon. Member for Londonderry—this controversy will die a natural death. The new Minister said that his close season was over and that he was due to be shot at. I found him very strong on the wing to-day, but I thought he flew in the wrong direction so far as co-ordination was concerned. In future I hope that he will give rather more encouragement to those of us who are anxious about the question of joint planning of policy between the three Services.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Mr. W. ROBERTS
I want to address only a very few remarks to the Committee, and those on a subject which has not been discussed by any Member other than the new Minister. I, therefore, do 1493 not apologise for referring to the matter, because I regard it as one of great importance, and it is the question of food supplies. Some of us remember the difficult times towards the end of the last War, and I think that on any basis of calculation that we can adopt we must assume that those difficulties will be increased in the event of another war in the near future. The quantity of available merchant shipping is reduced to-day, and not only is that the case, but there will be a greater demand on that shipping. Reference has been made to oil, most of which is imported, and it will have to be brought here by the reduced quantity of available shipping; and, although agricultural production in this country has risen in the last few years, and substantially in the last two or three years, the fact remains that we have to import at least half our foodstuffs, and that importation of foodstuffs will not only be at the risk of submarines, but also, now, at the very much greater risk of attack from the air.
I was very glad to hear the Minister refer to the committee which he has set up, and I want to put before him a few matters which I think ought to be considered in connection with our food policy in time of crisis. Recommendations are being made that the one vital thing is to extend the acreage of wheat in this country, but I believe that to be absolutely wrong. It is the hoary old ghost of British agriculture which has arisen again at this moment. Wheat production in this country cannot be as effective in time of peace as the cultivation of other crops to which our climate is suited, and, without dwelling on the matter at length, I would press upon the Government that the right and reasonable policy is to store at least six months' supply of wheat in elevators or in silos, if possible underground, in this country. I think the Minister referred to that question in his opening remarks. It is a simple question, and I am certain that money spent in that way would be well spent.
To return to the question whether the policy of the Government should be directed to increasing the wheat acreage in this country, I would suggest that there is another principle by which the Government should be influenced. The position of agriculture is in some ways 1494 very similar to that of industry. We want to organise industry so that at the outbreak of a war it may be possible to turn the peace-time production into the production of war material, and I suggest that that is exactly the position at which we want to arrive in agriculture. It may be necessary in time of war to produce a greater quantity of cereals within this country, but to produce more cereals now is an expensive and wasteful business for the country as a whole. I do not want to enter into the arguments which are being put forward that to grow vegetables will be of no value in war-time—that an army cannot exist on lettuces; but agricultural land which is producing vegetables can be turned very quickly to growing wheat or other cereals should the occasion arise.
The principal point that I wish to make is that it is vital to keep agricultural land in this country in a fertile condition, and that, if the land is fertile, it does not matter very much what it is growing in peace-time; it can be used for growing wheat, potatoes, oats or anything else that may be required when the time comes. In this connection I would remind the Committee that farming in England consists very largely of grass farming. Two-thirds of our land is under grass. But there is grass and grass. There are probably as many different varieties of grass as there are Members of this House; some are good and some are less good. This is a highly technical question, but I only want to refer to two technical developments which I believe are revolutionising the situation. I listened with great interest to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson), that technical developments in aeronautics have in the last year or two revolutionised that subject, and I think the same is true in agriculture. I would particularly refer to the experiments which are now being carried out at Aberystwyth by Professor Stapledon. If that agricultural land which is at present under grass is kept in such a condition that it can be turned to other uses when the need arises, this country could produce very much more than half our foodstuffs—perhaps at a cost which is not economic in peace-time but which will be not only economic but absolutely essential, if we have to face the difficulties of another war.
§ 9.42 p.m.
§ Captain MACNAMARA
I consider that it is always well, in circumstances like the present, to have one's object clearly defined in one's mind. I consider that our object in this case should be to be sufficiently strong and efficient to shoulder our responsibilities without hesitation and without putting an unnecessary burden upon the taxpayer. There are certain factors affecting the attainment of this object, and those factors seem to resolve themselves into a tug-of-war between the Services, within the Services, between various Departments, between the central Government and the London County Council and various Socialist county councils all over the country. Within the Services there is the mechanisation which sometimes means a drifting apart of officers and men on the march and so on; and there is the question of foreign policy, which is not always in keeping with what the defence forces of the country can back up. Factories are growing up around London and other cities, which are vulnerable to air attack. And so at last the Government have appointed a Minister to deal with all these subjects. We welcome his appointment, but we want to know how far his services extend. We know that they extend to the co-ordination of the three Services, and we think they will also extend to the co-ordination of civil arrangements where they affect the aerial defence of the country. Do they extend to the internal arrangements in the Services—to the Army in India, for example; and do they extend to the question of the co-operation of the Dominons, the Colonies and foreign countries, and to foreign policy?
I suggest that the first duty the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence should tackle is political co-ordination within the House of Commons. There are certain matters on which there is agreement between the Labour and Liberal Oppositions and Members on this side of the House, and in my opinion it would be a good thing if we tried to raise the matter of defence, and, generally speaking, the armed forces of this country, out of the sphere of party politics, and if we tried to agree on certain points which affect the efficiency of the defences of the country. Then it will be necessary to tackle the various industries. I do not know how difficult 1496 The MINISTER is finding it, but I fancy he is having a certain amount of difficulty with the other Ministries of the Government, and I hope that lie will be able to get the Ministry of Labour, the Board of Education, the Mines Department, the Board of Trade and so on to co-operate in regard to the defence of this country, in the same way as do the War Office, the Admiralty and the Air Ministry.
One matter that I want to mention is the question of the Civil Departments and air attack. At present it is very hard for any district in this country to know who is responsible for its defence against air attack. Aeroplanes in the air are administered and controlled tactically by the Air Ministry: the guns which are supposed to shoot at the enemy's aeroplanes are administered by the War Office but controlled tactically by the Air Ministry; the Civil Department controls the police force, which is administered by the Home Office; the hospitals are administered by the Ministry of Health, and so on. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should not hesitate to put one officer in charge of each district who will have actual command of all the different forces in time of war, and that such officers should be trained to take command in time of peace. I do not know whether there are any underground hangars in this country, but I think the time has come when there should be.
With regard to the Navy, I wish we could have a final settlement of this controversy of the battleship against the bomb. The naval tradition of this country is one in which the small ships have always come to the fore. When our Navy has had small ships with power to manoeuvre, they have generally been more successful in battle than when our ships have been lumbering. heavy, and so expensive that those is command are apt to hesitate to risk them in action. I was going also to mention the question of the fishing fleet, but that was done by the Leader of the Liberal party, so I will not cover that ground again. I suggest that the time has come to look into the system of command in the Navy and to arrange for junior officers actually to command and lead sections and divisions of men in the Navy, in the same way as they do in the Army. We should not then have any more troubles such as we had at Invergordon and elsewhere.
1497 We have heard of the possibility of the aerial invasion of this country. I do not think that we are likely to have one in force in the near future, but we are very likely to have in the next war small parties of the enemy being landed from the air by parachute, with machine guns and small armoured fighting vehicles and these could play havoc wherever they landed for about three or four days. They could disorganise all our lines of communication within the country. I suggest that to meet that danger the Minister should ask the War Office to start, in each town in this country, motorised companies, with people bringing their own cars. These motor squadrons, which will be trained to be ready, like fire brigades, to go and pounce on any outbreak wherever it might occur.
There are various matters to do with the Territorial Army which I should like to mention. For one thing, I consider that the Territorial Army is absolutely inadequate in size at the moment. Its establishment is only 170,000, and yet it is only 120,000 strong, whereas it should be 500,000 strong. The people of this country should realise that they have a duty to do and should perform it. The Territorial Army should be a centre of all the athletic movements in this country, with a complete Press behind it. Instead of the Press, as at present, bothering about football news, cinema stars, and all that nonsense, it should be interested in what is happening in the various units of the Territorial Army, and the whole attitude of the country to the Territorials should change. We should look upon the Territorials as a national Army, in the same way as other countries look upon their armed forces and youth movements. The recruiting problem in the Army is appalling, and I do not think you will ever get a satisfactory regular Army until you tackle the Cardwell system and reorganise it. There must be a short-service Army at home which will attract many recruits, and a long-service Army which will provide a real career for those who want to stay in it as a life-work. The regular Army must be modernised so that the modern man will find in it modern discipline and a modern outlook.
With regard to the Air Force, I consider it absolutely absurd that when a foreign aeroplane flies over London with a view to bombing it, that aeroplane will be tackled by the Air Ministry in the air, 1498 by the War Office on the ground, while the Home Office, through the police, etc., will be responsible for the protection against its bombs. You cannot expect any efficiency with that sort of amazing democratic compromise, and I suggest that the air defences of this country should be handed over whole-heartedly to the Air Ministry. The anti-aircraft defenders of London are supposed to be 10,000 strong; they are only 5,000 strong now. If you handed them all over to the Air Force and gave them the blue uniform, they would like it, and men would join up in large numbers, and you would get a full establishment at once, besides having co-ordinated training.
I hope also the Minister will coordinate his defence policy with the foreign policy of this country. One has to consider the whole matter rather in the light of a limited liability company, with debenture, preference and ordinary shares. A great deal of hard thinking will have to be done. What will be our debentures. When our debentures are threatened, in other words, when this country is threatened, the whole country must be prepared to resist with force. Legislation must be prepared now. The whole country must be conscripted at once; and I think all parties in this House will agree to that. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] I am certain that if an invasion were threatened, the Opposition would be just as ready to join in the defence of the country as would Members on this side, and it is only fair that we should get together, not as parties, but as a nation in self-defence, and speak to the nation with a united voice now, not when it is too late.
§ Captain MACNAMARA
Yes, I do not think it is at all fair to send off a young soldier or a working man to the firing line unless wealth also is controlled for the defence of the country. If our preference shares are attacked, by which I mean those shares of the company which are very valuable to it, but perhaps not so vital to its structure as the debentures, then our regular forces must be prepared to meet the emergency. What are debentures and what are the various grades of preference share should be thought out now, and we should be ready with our fighting forces and our 1499 plans to meet any circumstance that arises. As to our ordinary shares, I consider these to be such matters as hostilities in Eastern Europe or South America. We should regret the disturbing effect that these would exert on our company, but we should not interfere in any way which would risk our preference or debenture holding.
Charity begins at home, and before we talk about what we are going to do abroad or make any bombastic statements on foreign policy, we must tackle the actual character of the youth of this country. This is a matter which has to be mentioned at some time, so I may as well mention it now. There is too much of the escalator movement among the youth of the country to-day, too much of being taken up to the top on a moving stairway and not even walking up. We have to get our people voluntarily into the same sort of thinking as other patriotic nations have their youth thinking. The Nazi movement in Germany, it should be remembered, was voluntary at first, and in this country too it would not do any harm for the youth of the country to have more of the patriotism that one sees abroad. It is time that they realised that they owe a service to the State, instead of their only idea being what they can get out of the Government. The sooner we tell our people, frankly, that a spirit of service and duty is noble and to be desired instead of pandering to them in trying to get votes, the better.
Finally, I think the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence will have to bear in kind certain principles, using the initial letters of his title as a reminder. M—maintenance of objective and not turning off on side lines which are not objectives. F—framework in peace, which can be expanded in war. C—co-operation with the Dominions and the Colonies and the rest of the Empire. 0—opportunity for promotion and the recognition of merit, wherever it is, without fear or favour. D—discarding, dismembering, dissolving all obsolete arms and weapons and services, remembering that tradition is served best by efficiency.
§ 9.56 p.m.
Major LLOYD GEORGE
I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member except to say that the desire to get things out of the Government is 1500 not confined to any particular class in this country. Anyone who has been in this House during the last few Parliaments will have discovered that. There has been satisfaction expressed on all sides to-day that the co-ordination of Defence has been chosen for to-day's discussion. There is no doubt, as the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) pointed out, that the co-ordination of Defence is a demand which has been urged upon the Government for a very long time, and there was very general satisfaction throughout all quarters of the House when the Government decided eventually to appoint a Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. It must, however, be pointed out that a great deal of misgiving was evident in all parts of the House when the White Paper was issued, because while the Government were deciding to appoint a Minister for Coordination, the programmes of the Forces that he was to co-ordinate had already been settled. The Navy had decided what their policy was to be, the Air Force had already started on their expansion policy and some of us had hoped to-clay that the right hon. Gentleman would have told us what he was going to do to co-ordinate the defences of the country and not to allow the three Services to go on as in the past, each one putting forward its own demands.
Let me give an illustration of what I mean in regard to the Navy. During the discussion on the Supplementary Estimates last week there was a good deal of confusion in the House with regard to the terms of reference of the committee appointed to sit on the question of whether or not battleships were vulnerable from the air. Certain hon. and right hon. Members were of the opinion that if such a committee decided that battleships were vulnerable from the air, that would mean that we should not proceed with the building of battleships. The right hon. Member for Epping was certainly of that opinion, but the Noble Lord who speaks for the Admiralty in this House went on to say that whatever the committee decided, the Admiralty's proposals would stand all the same. That statement is taken from the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, later in the Debate, said that the laying down of these two battleships was a matter of very great urgency 1501 and that two or three months was a vital time in their construction.
May I suggest that there are matters of even greater urgency so far as the Navy is concerned than the laying down of new battleships? Reference has been made by various speakers not merely to the defence of the country but to the provision of food and raw materials for our population of 45,000,000, which have to be transported over thousands of miles of ocean, our dependence upon which, I regret to say, is no less than it was in the days before the War. Therefore, it seems to me that a matter of greater urgency than the laying down of two battleships is the development of our cruisers and our smaller craft, because it is on our cruisers and our smaller craft that, in the long run, we have to depend for the safe convoying of food supplies and raw materials over thousands of miles from every part of the world. While there may be disputes as to the vulnerability of battleships, no one will suggest that it is the Battle Fleet that will make it possible to protect those trade routes. If that were so, we should need not one Singapore but half a dozen.
The really serious matter in regard to the Navy to-day, as pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), is the great shrinkage in our cruiser and destroyer strength since the days before the War. Anyone who knows the history of the War knows that although we had then nearly double what we have to-day, the one arm that we were short of during the War was that of cruisers and light craft. With a smaller number available to-day and with the same dependence on overseas supplies, this is the matter for urgency and not the building of battleships in regard to which nobody knows whether they will be blown up by bombs.
No reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman to the question of the supply of food. I remember the Prime Minister, in the Debate on the Address, saying, with regard to many establishments which are at present situated in certain parts of the country, that the Government were going to consider the removal of them to areas less liable to disturbance in case of trouble than the places where some of them are situated to-day. What are the Government doing about that? If a. European war occurred, we 1502 have in the most vulnerable part of the country most important naval bases, most important munition factories and other industrial works, and we have not only the greatest port in the world but the greatest food stores in this country to be found in and around London. The most vulnerable part of Britain is where most of these centres are to be found to-day. Do the Government consider it wise to have all these things in the most vulnerable part of the country?
Take the Port of London. The trade of the Port of London is growing year by year. Do the Government think that the Port of London could be used in a European war? Whatever the effect of an attack from the air may be on battleships, there can be no doubt that the effect of attack from the air on merchant ships is a much more dangerous factor than it was before. Do the Government think that the hours of darkness—it is obviously impossible for a merchant convoy to come through the narrow seas of the English Channel in hours of daylight, with the existence of modern hostile aircraft—would be sufficient for the convoy to come from our west coast and reach the Port of London? Therefore, I would ask whether the Government have considered the possibility of London not being the biggest port but a port hardly used at all in a European war. It is a possibility that ought to be considered.
With regard to food storage, we have in London an enormous store of food. I believe it has the biggest storage for meat that is to be found. That is very serious. The House must remember the serious explosion in the East End during the War. Near the scene of the explosion was an enormous storehouse with, I think, something like a six weeks' supply of flour inside it, and it was touch-and-go whether as a result of that explosion the whole of that stock would be destroyed. It seems to me a matter that wants very careful consideration whether facilities are available in ports much further removed from the source of danger than London. I know it is said that aircraft travel so fast that they are practically over the scene of operations before the defence are aware that they have started. That is true of areas such as the South-East of England but it is not true of areas further away to the West and North-West because, 1503 whatever the increase in efficiency of aeroplanes may be, there is this to be said, that the further they have to travel over hostile territory the less is their efficiency, because they have to travel a long distance, and have to travel a long distance back, and there is ample time to give warning to the people in charge of the defence of ports on other parts of our coast. I hope the Government will give very serious consideration to that.
With regard to home-grown food supplies, not only is it a vital thing to our own population to get more people on to the soil but it is vital to the very welfare of the country itself. I regretted very much when the Chancellor the other night, in reply to a question with regard to that point, said that since the National Government came in the supply of homegrown foodstuff's had gone up by 14 per cent. Does he think that a very substantial contribution to the feeding of the country in time of emergency? A great deal more could be done, riot only for the benefit of those who work on the soil but for providing our people with food.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping devoted nearly the whole of his speech to the question of the deficiency of stores—a very vital matter. I want to point out that there may be a deficiency of stores, but there is also a deficiency of men. We have embarked on a scheme of great expansion. It does not matter, as far as I can see, whether you have the finest tanks in the world, the most efficient aeroplanes, the finest artillery, the best projectiles and the best means of producing them, if you have not the men to man them. The trouble at the moment is that we cannot maintain our existing forces without talking about the increase that is contemplated by the Government under these proposals. How do they propose to overcome that very serious difficulty? If they do not overcome it, the whole of this expenditure is waste.
May I give the figures of the Army and the Territorial Force? The establishment of the Army is considerably below what it was before the War. Then it was about 250,000. It was only very little short of the establishment at the beginning of the War. To-day it is only 208,000, and we are actually below that figure in strength at present. A much more serious 1504 thing in my judgment is the condition of the Territorial Force. It is to-day below establishment—I think something like 44,000 or 45,000 men. The pre-war establishment of the Territorials was 300,000. To-day it is 175,000. I regard the Territorials as being vital to the defence of the country. They were the reserve of the regular Army in 1914. They had just enough training—far more than Regular officers gave them credit for—to enable them, after a very short period of intensive training, to become really efficient soldiers, with the result that in 1914 there were 23 battalions of Territorials in France, six Yeomanry regiments in other parts of the East, a division went to Egypt and three divisions went to India. By February, 1915, there were 48 battalions of Territorials in France. Not a single unit of the new Army arrived in France before September. It is a very difficult thing to contemplate what the position of our Regular Army would have been had it not been for the supplies that they got from this very efficient Territorial Force.
The shortage of men is not confined to the Army and the Territorial Force. We had a Debate the other day on the Mercantile Marine, and I pointed out that one of the things that I regarded as rather serious was that in many cases the small ports round our coasts which used to supply boys for sailing ships no longer had any ships at all. The right hon. Gentleman agreed but did not suggest any remedy. I understand from the Debate that there is an actual shortage of sailors to-day. Despite the fact that you have a large percentage of unemployed I am told that there is actually a shortage of the skilled men who are necessary in the Mercantile Marine. That is even more serious than the Army position, because the last War showed that we were absolutely dependent on the Mercantile Marine as far as the Navy was concerned. It is difficult to realise what the position would have been without the fishermen and the men of the Mercantile Marine.
How can this shortage of men be remedied? How do the Government propose to raise this figure of recruits for the Army? In Germany Hitler had no difficulty, because he just conscripted them. I think he probably had to conscript them. But there is no Government in this country that dare suggest con- 1505 scription unless we were actually at war. In pre-War times it was not quite so difficult to keep the supply of men for the Army going. Whether we like it or not, economic necessity had a great deal to do with recruiting. That is not so today. However inadequate we may think unemployment benefit is, it is at any rate an improvement on what it was before the War. Therefore, the economic necessity is not there. But there is another factor that you have to remember, that you have a very large number of people who went through the War, and it is no good disguising from yourself that that is in itself a deterrent.
It has always been said that armaments depend upon policy. I think that is doubly true to-day. The Government in the White Paper tell us that their defence policy is in line with their foreign policy. I hope it is going to be better than that. But they recognise that armaments must depend upon policy and, unless it is a policy which will induce young men to come forward and face the inconvenience and ultimate risk which enlistment entails, we shall not get the men. What is the policy of the Government according to the White Paper? It is the promotion of collective security. They all talk about collective security, but when it comes to what may well be the logical conclusion of collective security, they are not prepared to fight for it. It is true that, though joint sanctions, if not wholly effective are half ineffective, further sanctions might lead to the use of force. Therefore the appeal to youth, as we heard at the last Election, to support a Government which were going in for increased armaments for the purpose of fulfilling their obligations under the collective system, is not an appeal, in view of their record, which is going to go down with youth.
The interesting thing is that in one case the Government are quite prepared to fight. They are, apparently, not prepared to fight for the Covenant, but with regard to Germany they are quite prepared, and, in fact, have agreed to make the preparations, if necessary, to take military action. Therefore, it cannot be an objection to using force. I would say to the Government—it may not be popular with those benches, and I am saying this after having made very extensive inquiries—that the youth of this 1506 country do not want another quarrel with Germany. It. is not that they are pro-German. Rather is it felt that the French statesmanship is not quite what it should have been in its interpretation of French obligations under the Covenant. If the Government want men for the forces, they must have a policy that will make this generation be prepared to face the same sacrifices as the other generation did. But let them make it clear, not by speeches on platforms in support of the League of Nations, but by their action, that they really do believe in collective security. If they make that position perfectly clear, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that not only will he have no difficulty in getting men for the service of this country, but he will achieve an even better thing—he will give to the people of this country real peace and security.
§ 10.18 p.m.
§ Mr. A. EDWARDS
Probably I should not have intervened in this Debate but for a very important point raised by an hon. Member opposite and a comment by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). I asked a question of the hon. Member whether, in suggesting conscription, it included the conscription of wealth, and I was very pleased indeed to have the admission that he so included it. The first reference to conscription brought very enthusiastic applause from the Noble Lord but the reference to conscription of wealth did not.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am grateful to the hon. Member for his courteous reference to me. I entirely agree both with him and the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. I believe, first, that conscription can only be imposed in time of war, and, secondly, that it should be applied to every one irrespective of class, and should include wealth.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
I am very glad to have that assurance because it is time that the admission was made in this House that, in the event of war, if conscription is talked about, there should be conscription of wealth. If that had been said some years ago perhaps there would riot be the talk about war that we hear to-day. It raises the whole question as to who pays for these wars and the 1507 preparations for war. I do not think that an hon. Member on that side of the House dare rise and say that, as a result of these preparations, there are going to be sacrifices by those represented on that side of the House. We had the admission yesterday that the sacrifice to be made by the workpeople was a reduced standard of living. It was said by two speakers that there would inevitably be a reduced standard of living. That means that the workers are to pay the price of these preparations, and the workpeople are entitled to have a very large say in the policy.
I admit freely that the class represented by hon. Members opposite gave their sons in the last War as freely as any other section of the community, but they only loaned their money. That raises the important question as to how the £8,000,000,000 debt at the end of the War, ten times what it was at the beginning of the War, was made. A considerable amount of it represents profits out of the War. That cannot be denied. Whenever the wages of workmen are mentioned in official statistics you will see two columns, one the real wages and another the money wages, but you never see such a comparison when it is a question of interest, and if you take the real interest on the War Debt you will find that it will reveal the fact that the interest is still over 7 per cent., which comes largely out of the working people. We have cancelled debts of foreign countries, which again have to be met by increased taxation. Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us the difference in the cost of living that had taken place during the lifetime of the National Government, but he did not tell us the difference between direct and indirect taxation in 1931 as compared with 1936. These figures would reveal the fact that the burden is being shifted gradually but surely on to the shoulders of the working people.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member, I think, is trying to deliver a speech which he was not fortunate enough to deliver yesterday.
§ Mr. EDWARDS
Your suspicion, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, is well founded. I will try to deal with one other phase of this subject. The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) emphasised the 1508 vital point of the question of supplies, and I am rather surprised that he did not deal with the question of oil. It is obvious that all the money which is going to be spent on armaments will be wasted unless we have a. supply of oil. The Government admitted yesterday that it is possible to produce our oil supplies from coal, and the cost would not be excessive compared with the programme we are discussing. If the right hon. Member for Epping had inquired into the stocks of iron ore in this country, another vital raw material, he would have got a great shock. We are dependent almost entirely on supplies from abroad. We are challenged frequently by hon. Members opposite as to whether we are prepared to face up to this increased programme which it is said is necessary under the collective system. I think it is rather an absurd argument to say that because we have a collective system cur individual responsibilities are increased. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence translated that argument into another sphere and invited men to join in a limited liability company on the understanding that each individual would have to subscribe more to the company than he would if running the business alone, we should think he was a lunatic or a criminal. The whole purpose of collective security is to reduce our individual responsibility.
I would like now to say a word or two about profits. Hon. Members on this side of the House are not satisfied that everything has been done to ensure that there will not be any profiteering. Since the Prime Minister made the announcement that there was to be an expansion of our Air Force, patriotic people have subscribed their money very willingly for the manufacture of more aeroplanes, but out of £7,000,000 subscribed we are told that only £600,000 found its way into the production of aeroplanes. That is a very good start at profiteering. If those figures are incorrect, I would like to have them corrected. I would like to recall one instance which will perhaps emphasise what I a m saying. During the War one of the biggest industrialists in this country offered to do his share for nothing, but he has since said that he was compelled to do it on a business basis and made £2,000,000 profit. He was compelled to make that profit 1509 although he was willing to give his services for nothing. I would ask the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether he is not going to insist that there should be some safeguard. We would like to know just what that safeguard is to be in order that our suspicions may be removed, for there are suspicions on this side of the House. Therefore, let us have some assurance that there is not to be profiteering.
I have mentioned two cases, and the companies concerned have already shown a very large appreciation of capital which nobody doubts will be turned into profit. Above all, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assure us that the cost of these preparations is to be placed on the shoulders which can bear it, and not transferred every time to the workers as it has been during the four years of the National Government. During that time indirect taxation has consistently increased, and all the time the cost of these things falls on the workers. In conclusion, let me say that I was glad to have the admission from the benches opposite that in the event of war in this country capital is to be conscripted in the same way that men are to be conscripted.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I have listened wtih attention to the speech of the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. A. Edwards), but he asked me to undertake a somewhat difficult task. He said truly that there are suspicions on, the benches opposite and he asked me to remove them. My experience of hon. Gentlemen opposite is that there is nothing that will remove the suspicions which they entertain, and I venture to think that very many of them regard the suspicions which they entertain as their chief stock-in-trade both in this House and at the street corner. I think the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough, despite the check which you, Sir, put upon his imagination, was directing his shots at the target of capitalism rather than at the target which I represent on this occasion.
The Debate which has taken place has been fruitful in suggestions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) said truly that I must expect criticism, and indeed I had already anticipated that in the observations I 1510 made earlier in the afternoon. In the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Captain Macnamara) and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George), there was a number of fruitful suggestions, for which I should like to thank the hon. and gallant Members. I am bound to say that I thought the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelmsford more excellent for the reason that some of the, ideas he put forward had already passed through my own mind and therefore I naturally approved of them.
As regards the main questions which have been addressed to the Government, I think I can deal with them in the time that remains to me. I seem to have used a phrase which has caused a little misunderstanding, in my description of my relations with the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) both referred to the phrase which I used that I was "in touch with" the Chiefs of Staff. If they understood that to mean that I had only a nodding acquaintance with the Chiefs of Staff they wholly misunderstood my meaning. I have asked the Chiefs of Staff to give me their appreciation of particular positions. I have had the happiness and the honour of presiding at their deliberations on several occasions, and when I said I had kept in touch with them, without attempting to enumerate all the occasions on which I had met them, I can certainly say that I meant to indicate that I had tried to fulfil, as I think I have fulfilled, what was held out in the White Paper as one of my chief duties as far as the Chiefs of Staffs are concerned.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Epping mentioned a number of matters which he invited me to consider. He asked me to take into consideration the use of an expeditionary force, the Mediterranean position, the power of Russia and the possibility of the invasion of this country by aeroplane. I am bound to say it had not occurred to me to discuss with the Chiefs of Staff the last possibility. There has been a film, which, I believe, displayed something of that sort, and as my right hon. Friend attaches importance to it, I will 1511 take the opportunity of consulting the advisers of the Services. As to the other three matters which he mentioned, they are only three of a number of similar points which I have already considered. My right hon. Friend was kind enough to say that he would not expect me to tell the Committee this afternoon the results of our deliberations. I can assure him that two, if not three of the matters which he mentioned have already been the subject of most careful consideration and I have had the great advantage of a report upon the questions which my right hon. Friend raised.
The right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposite invited me to perform an impossible task, or at any rate a task which I would not attempt and which I believe it would be improper for me to attempt. He asked me to tell the Committee the truth about Germany, about Europe, about the Far East, about the Near East. What does the right hon. Gentleman expect? Does he really expect me to imagine conflict in all these different parts of the world, and to tell the Committee of the dispositions which the Government, with the advice of their technical advisers, would make in the hypothetical events which he asked me to imagine? He suggested that I should imitate two very great men, the late Lord Haldane and my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping, and tell the House in the same pictorial and direct way of the uses which we propose to make of His Majesty's Forces.
There is one great difference between those days and the present. In the days when my right hon. Friend was at the Admiralty and the late Lord Haldane was at the War Office, the potential enemy, broadly, was Germany. We were on friendly terms with Japan; it was possible to measure our strength by a well-known standard in comparison with Germany; and, undoubtedly, when this House considered questions of military or naval strategy, it was impossible to avoid discussing them in terms of the major conflict which must have seemed to most people the only possible conflict that could take place. Consider the position to-day. Am I to be asked to walk round the map of the world and consider all the probable conflicts that might take 1512 place? The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) invited me to engage in a discussion of what he called pooled security. Supposing that had been done. Would not Italy have been included in a pooled security in which she would be under an obligation to make a considerable contribution on the same side as ourselves What would be the worth of a calculation in a pooled security of that sort, in view of the events that have happened to-day in which Italy is not a contributor to security but has been held to be an aggressor?
§ Mr. MANDER
Is not the position that if three years ago we had had a real system of pooled security, including Italy, the present trouble with Ethiopia would never have occurred?
§ Sir T. INSKIP
That is one of the most remarkable non sequiturs I have heard, and I will nut trouble further about it. If those critics who ask us to tell the Committee what we are going to do with His Majesty's Forces for which we are asking reinforcements will only be good enough to turn to the White Paper, they will find in paragraph 22 and the following paragraphs categorical statements of the duty of the Navy; they will find in paragraph 30 a statement that the Army has three main functions to perform, which are set out; in paragraph 33 they will find that the duty of the Territorial Army is stated to be to provide the first line in anti-aircraft and coast defence at home; and they will find that paragraph 36 describes the prime function of the Royal Air Force as being to provide an effective deterrent to any attack upon the vital interests of this country, whether situated at home or overseas. The Committee may say that one or two of these paragraphs are necessarily general in terms. Of course they are, for the very reason I have tried to mention, that the circumstances in which we may be involved and the situation in which the conflict may take place prevents anybody from being categorical or stereotyped in his description of the use to which the Navy, Army, or Air Force shall be put.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite described in somewhat contemptuous terms my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War providing an all-weather Army which was to be no particular use, 1513 anyway. It is perfectly true that it is an all-weather Army. We cannot keep four armies, one for Europe, one for Egypt, one for India, and one for China or Japan. It has got to be an all-weather Army, and if hon. Members opposite want us to keep a larger and a swollen Army, perhaps we shall be able then to provide an Army that can serve in the different places in which, apparently, the right hon. Gentleman contemplates conflicts. The right hon. Gentleman made some criticisms of the experts. He said that he did not trust experts. He does not trust the Minister, and therefore they are all out of step except the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
Part of the reason for my appointment is to help them keep in step. The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) said the Leader of the Opposition had put the case for the Opposition very well. I only wish that I really knew what the case for the Opposition is. I listened carefully to the speeches that were made, and I should think that hon. Members opposite would be unable to put into a sentence the kernel or the gist of their case otherwise than in this way, that what the Government has done is wrong. That seems to me to be their case; but if we are to understand the Leader of the Opposition as conceding that this country needs to reinforce its defences, and that the Opposition will co-operate with the Government in making those reinforcements as effective as possible, I will put up with all the criticisms they direct to me personally if I have that promise of co-operation with us.
Let me deal with the important suggestion which my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping made as to a Ministry of Supply. My right hon. Friend has almost unrivalled experience of administration, his knowledge is very real and great, and I am most interested in his proposal and can promise him, in all sincerity, that it shall receive the most careful consideration of which I am capable. But let me remind him of what I am sure he will remember, that this whole question of a Ministry of Supply was exhaustively examined in 1920, and after a prolonged inquiry the decision was taken to do away with the 1514 Ministry of Munitions and to allow the work of supply to revert to the Service Departments. The right hon. Gentleman will remember it better because he was at the time Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air, and therefore assented to the destruction of the Ministry. [An HON. MEMBER: "He forgot."] No, I do not think he forgot. To be quite frank I think my right hon. Friend's answer would be, and it is one that he rather anticipated himself, that we might perhaps jog along in peace time with Service Departments being their own supply services, but not in war time or when war time is near.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The whole question is whether the circumstances have so changed since 1920, or whether the emergency which he contemplates, when a great expansion has to be made in a very brief space of time, has arrived. [Interruption.] I think I have stated the position perfectly fairly. The Government have rightly or wrongly, as I think rightly, come to the conclusion that—though the Government may be running risks in taking responsibility for such a decision—the time has not come to revive a Ministry of Supply of munitions with such powers as my right hon. Friend contemplates for it. As I said in my opening remarks, we must keep this question under continual observation. I hope and believe that it may be possible for us to complete our programme, if it has to be completed, without such a disturbance, because I should like the Committee to contemplate the consequences of a dislocation of our export trade, to visualise the consequences of stopping home production for peace services.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out either last night or on another occasion that a great part of the cost of what we are doing for the Services is being provided out of expanding revenue at the cost of the taxpayer. I should like to know where the taxpayers are to make the incomes, especially if the profit, to use my right hon. Friend's expression, is to be taken out of war, which I understand to mean profit out of making munitions. That is the issue which is involved, but, as I have told my right hon. Friend, he can 1515 be assured that his proposal, even if it had come from a less experienced Member of this House, would have received anxious and sincere consideration, but that coming from him we regard it as coming reinforced with his great experience.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend, while thanking him for the courteous manner in which he has treated me, whether he will give the Committee his assurance that, as far as he is concerned, the programme upon which the Government have decided, shall be carried out punctually at the dates required for national safety, and that he will not hesitate to plunge the country into inconvenience rather than let that programme fail?
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I must not be asked to give an undertaking of a sort which might recoil upon me if it were not fulfilled in the letter, but I certainly assure my hon. Friend that the Government consider this a question, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, on which we should not hesitate to tell the country the truth. If the country is to be involved in what I cannot help regarding as a great disaster, I am sure the country will be strong enough and brave enough to bear it. What I am not prepared to do is to advise this House and the country to undertake a policy which would be a disaster unless I am convinced that that course is absolutely required.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite complained against the Prime Minister in consequence of Sir Maurice Hankey having been called upon to give evidence before the Royal Commission on armaments. My right hon. Friend made it perfectly plain that he made no criticism or attack upon a. great public servant, hut he placed the responsibility upon the Prime Minister. Perhaps it does not matter whether the permission to Sir Maurice Hankey to appear before the commission was given by the Prime Minister or the Lord President of the Council who was then Prime Minister, but the fact is that the possibility of Sir Maurice Hankey giving evidence was considered after he returned from Australia a long time ago, and even before the Members of the commission were actually appointed. May I suggest that there is no impropriety at all. It is a novel 1516 doctrine, surely, that when a Royal Commission is appointed to get to the truth of some question the man who knows most about it is to be prevented— [Interruption.]
§ Mr. ATTLEE
That is a misrepresentation of the intention of what happened. I said that it was perfectly right for an expert to give evidence, but I complained of a civil servant being put in a position to pass opinions upon matters of political controversy.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The right hon. Gentleman has hardly done himself justice. I have had some experience, and there is no distinction such as he tried to make. It would have been quite impossible for Sir Maurice Hankey to go there and give the Royal Commission the benefit of his experience on the Committee of Imperial Defence and of the manufacture of armaments, extending over 35 years, and such as nobody else has had, without from time to time giving an answer declaring perhaps more an expression of opinion than a statement of fact. Let me give an illustration. The right hon. Gentleman especially referred to the fact that Sir Maurice Hankey did not regard the opinions of the peace ballot upon a particular question [An HON. MEMBER: "There were 11,000,000 people."] There may have been 11,000,000, but that is not the point. The point I am putting is that Sir Maurice Hankey had given evidence when one of the members of the commission put to him, out of the blue, some question as to whether he did not attach importance to the answer of 11,000,000 people on the question of the manufacture of armaments. Was Sir Maurice Hankey to say, "Sir, I have come here to give evidence on statements of fact rather than express opinions"? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I should have thought that that was for the member of the commission who asked the question.
Let me carry this a little further. It was suggested that you ought to have had Sir Maurice Hankey to give answers on statements of fact and a Cabinet Minister to express opinions. Did anybody ever hear of such an idea; except when a Cabinet Minister's responsibility for conduct has been held in question as in the Dardanelles aid Mediterranean Royal Commission. I doubt whether there has ever been a case of a Cabinet Minister being called before a Royal 1517 Commission merely to air his political opinions. The fact is that Sir Maurice Hankey gave evidence before both these Commissions—it sounds a long time ago, but his experience is so long—and I have never heard that anybody in this House quarrelled with the answers he gave because he gave his evidence then as now in the form of an expression of opinion. The fact is that the right hon. Gentleman opposite felt that the paucity of his argument required that there should be an attack on the Prime Minister in a matter in which the Prime Minister is absolutely blameless.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Sir Maurice Hankey said that he appeared as advocate for a particular side. That is unusual.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the evidence he will find that the chairman of the Commission said to Sir Maurice Hankey in effect that he was putting the case for defence and Sir Maurice Hankey assented to it. If he will look at the evidence to-day he will see that when the chairman of the Commission put the question in a more pointed way, Sir Maurice Hankey said that he did not accept that position, and accepted the statement that was made. If the right hon. Gentleman's attack on the Prime Minister really depended on a chance phrase of that sort put to Sir Maurice Hankey by the chairman of the Commission, it shows how extremely thin his case was.
I am sorry to say that I have a slight quarrel with the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). He told the Committee that I had not drawn up terms for the battleship inquiry in the same wide terms as my Noble Friend promised. His suggestion was that the Noble Lord had promised an inquiry into the whole question of the usefulness of the battleship. It is a little remarkable; I am sure the right hon. Gentleman did not deliberately intend it, but was so set on the chase that he did it; he omitted a sentence which really makes all the difference to the whole passage. He omitted this sentence in column 117, between the two passages which he read:But they must not make airy speeches about what aircraft can or cannot do. Their views must be based on definite experience, and I hope that they will be open to cross-questioning by the naval authorities.1518 It is as plain as anything that he was dealing with the position of the battleship in relation, to air attack.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Certainly I left that out. I never thought that anybody would suppose that I was ignorant of the fact that air attack was one of the questions that was going to be inquired into. But the right hon. Gentleman did not remind the Committee of this sentence:I can assure him every step will be taken to ensure that all these points can he thrashed out as to the merit or otherwise of our battleship replacement programme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1936; col. 118, Vol. 310.]
§ Sir T. INSKIP
There is one other matter. I think it was raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as well as by the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. It was said that the Prime Minister, in a speech at the Guildhall, gave an assurance that there would be no great armaments—I give you my word that there will be no great armaments.There again the right hon. Gentleman did not do justice to the Prime Minister, who two sentences before had said:Doubts of our own safety give no assurance of peace.It is to be observed that that speech to the Peace Society at the Guildhall was not a political speech. If the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to know what the Prime Minister really said to the country in his election manifesto, he will find that my right hon. Friend said:We have made it clear that we must, in the course of the next few years, do what is necessary to repair the gaps in our defences which have accumulated over the past decade.…The defence programme will be strictly confined to what is required to make the country and the Empire safe.I do not think that anyone can doubt for a moment that the whole country thoroughly well understood the Prime Minister when he was asking the electors to return him to power, and said:We must do what is necessary to repair the gaps in our defence.Whether or not the armaments we are now asking the House to give us are great armaments may be a matter of opinion, but there is no doubt that there 1519 is no ground for any attack upon the Prime Minister's good faith in this matter. I feel that I am indebted to the whole Committee for the consideration they have given me, and I should like also to tender my thanks to my right hon. Friend—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh !"] Yes; even hon. Members opposite will not prevent me from engaging in one of the common courtesies of debate, and perhaps when they attend this House a little more they will soon acquire the same habit. I would conclude on this note, that, whatever criticisms have been
§ addressed to the Government from all quarters of the Committee, they have at any rate purported to be criticisms based on a sincere desire to see this country made safe and strong enough to carry out its obligations. I take those professions at their face value, and ask hon. Members in all parts of the Committee to continue their co-operation with us.
§ Question put, "That Sub-head BB (Salary of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence) be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 115; Noes, 270.1521
|Division No. 194.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Grenfell, D. R.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro W.)||Owen, Major G.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Paling, W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parker, H. J. H.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Potts, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Price, M. P.|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Benson, G.||Henderson, T. (Ardwick)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Riley, B.|
|Buchanan, G.||Holland, A.||Ritson, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hollins, A.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hopkin, D.||Rothschild. J. A. de|
|Chater, D.||Jagger, J.||Rowson, G.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins. A. (Pontypool)||Silkin, L.|
|Cocks, F. S.||John, W.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Compton, J.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Daggar, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dalton, H.||Lathan, G.||Stephen, C.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Lee, F.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leslie, J. R.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Day, H.||Logan, D. G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Bother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McGovern, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||MacLaren, A.||Waikden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Maclean, N.||Walker, J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Mander, G. le M.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Marklew, E.||Westwood, J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Marshall. F.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Garro-Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Milner, Major J.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gibbins, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Sir Percy Harris and Mr. Dingle|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Foot.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A||Naylor, T. E.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Bull, B. B.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Burghley, Lord|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Bernays, R. H.||Butler, R. A.|
|Albery, I. J.||Birchall, Sir J. D.||Campbell, Sir E. T.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandernan (B'kn'hd)||Blair, Sir R.||Cartland, J. R. H.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Blindell, Sir J.||Cary, R. A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Bossom, A. C.||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)|
|Apsley, Lord||Boulton, W. W.||Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cazaiet, Thelma (Islington, E.)|
|Assheton, R.||Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Boyce, H. Leslie||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brass, Sir W.||Channon,|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Clarke, F. E.|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Clarry, Sir Reginald|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Cobb, Sir C. S.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Jackson, Sir H.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Jarvis, Sir I. J.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Joel, D. J. B.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Reid, W. Allen (Derby)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Keeling, E. H.||Remer, J. R.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Kimball, L.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Rowlands, G.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lamb. Sir J. Q.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Latham, Sir P.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Leckie, J. A.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|De la Bère, R.||Lees-Jones, J.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Denville, Alfred||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Dodd. J S.||Levy, T.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Lewis, O.||Savery, Servington|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Liddall, W. S.||Scott, Lord William|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Selley, H. R.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Lloyd, G. W.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Loftus, P. C.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Eales, J. F.||Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||M'Connell, Sir J.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)|
|Elliot. Rt. Hon. W. E.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Elliston, G. S.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Emery, J. F.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Entwistle, C. F.||Magnay, T.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||Maitland, A.||Spans, W. P.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R||Stourton, Hon. J. J.|
|Furness, S. N.||Maxwell, S. A.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mellor, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. (N'thw'h)|
|Gledhill, G.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Sutcliffe, H|
|Goldie, N. B.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Goodman, Col. A. W.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Moreing, A. C.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Morgan, R. H.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Morris, J. P. (Safford, N.)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Touche, G. C.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Train, Sir J.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)||Munro, P.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Nall, Sir J.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Turton, R. H.|
|Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Hanbury, Sir C.||Patrick, C. M.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Peaks, O.||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Peat, C. U.||Ward, Lleut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Harvey, G.||Percy, Sir G.||Ward. Irene (Wallsend)|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Petherick, M.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Pllkington, R.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Plugge, L. F.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hopkinson, A.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir R. S.||Porritt, R. W.||Windsor-Clive, Lleut.-Cotonel G.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Radford, E. A.||Wragg, H.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Raikcs, H. V. A. M.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hulbert, N. J.||Ramsbotham, H.||Major George Davies and Dr.|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Ramadan, Sir E.||Morris-Jones.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed. Committee report Progress; to sit again
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.1522
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.