§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Captain Margesson.]
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
It is symptomatic of the state of the world to-day that our last Debate before our Summer holidays and the first opportunity for a debate on the resumption of our work should both be concerned with the foreign situation. During the period of our holiday, which I must confess seemed to me a singularly short one, the world has been far from observing the rules of August and September quietude in respect to which this House has set them so excellent an example. Indeed, internationally the holidays have been almost stormier than term time. I will not attempt to give the House this afternoon a full account of all the events in the international sphere which have so fully occupied the chancellories of Europe and the world during the past few months. It would unjustifiably tax the patience of hon. Members. At the same time, the House will no doubt wish to have on this first available occasion some account of the main events of the Recess and some appreciation of the present outlook. In two parts of the world far removed from each other—the south-western corner of Europe and the Far East—undeclared wars are at present raging. The House will not be surprised if I confine most of what I have to say this afternoon to these two parts of the world.
I would like, for I think it is good to keep some kind of chronological sequence, to begin with events in the Mediterranean, which began to take place not very long after the House had adjourned for its summer holidays. We became confronted with what was something of a new phenomenon in the international situation. The commerce of the Mediterranean found itself confronted with a new menace. Merchant ships, neutral merchant ships, non-Spanish merchant ships were stopped and sunk, often without warning and with consequent heavy loss of life in the Mediterranean. Our own shipping, British shipping, began in consequence to suffer from what were in effect acts of piracy. That was a situation which could not be allowed to continue.
58 I have seen it said that the action of His Majesty's Government in conjunction with the French Government and the other Mediterranean Powers—now all the other Mediterranean Powers—has militated against the chances of victory of one side or the other in Spain. Whether that be so or not, it is a charge to which we are quite indifferent, for the action which we took had, of course, nothing whatever to do with whatever our sentiments might have been in respect of the Spanish conflict itself. Against such acts the only possible safeguard was the use of such overwhelming strength for the protection of trade routes in the Mediterranean as would effectively deter the pirates.
There were, moreover, two conditions for such action—that it should be speedy, that it should be based on international authority. Hence the Nyon Conference. We and the French Government—the latter were the conveners of the Conference—were sincerely sorry that the Italian Government could not see its way to participate in the Conference for reasons which we need not go into now. That difficulty has since been resolved. Fortunately, however, a remarkable measure of unity manifested itself within the Conference, and within 48 hours all the necessary plans and details, both political and technical, had been agreed to by the members; and within actually less than a fortnight the decisions of the Conference, including the patrolling of the trade routes in the Mediterranean by an Anglo-French force totalling some 80 destroyers, were actually in operation. It is always dangerous to offer any prophecy in present world conditions, but it is at least true that from the Assembly of the Nyon Conference until to-day the acts of piracy against shipping in the Mediterranean have ceased.
There is one additional comment I would like to make. The rapid progress realised by that Conference was only made possible by the marked degree of co-operation between the British and French delegations, both naval and political, and, no less important, by the ready spirit of comprehension shown by the other Mediterranean Powers present. His Majesty's Government will not cease to be sincerely grateful for the part played by each one of the signatories of the Nyon Agreement.
Now I must turn to the sphere of the international situation, which presented, 59 and in a measure continues to present, a less satisfactory picture. The working of the Non-Intervention Agreement during this period continued to be so unsatisfactory that the French Foreign Minister, M. Delbos, not unnaturally preoccupied, as were His Majesty's Government, by the situation, seized the occasion of a conversation with an Italian representative at Geneva to propose spontaneously Three Power conversations between the French and Italian Governments and ourselves in an attempt to improve the Spanish position in all its aspects. In the circumstances the House will appreciate that in view of the origin of the invitation there was no time for prior consultation with us, but we were prepared and are still prepared to fall in with any proposal that gives prospect of a speedy betterment of the situation. I have no doubt that M. Delbos then hoped that the improved international atmosphere created by Italy's joining in the Nyon Agreement created an opportunity for his initiative.
The House knows the later history and I am not going to recapitulate it here. The Italian Government declined the Three Power conversations, but suggested a reference back to the Non-Intervention Committee. Despite previous disappointments the French Government and ourselves decided to make one more effort, even though it might have to be the last, to refloat the Non-Intervention Committee, which had been virtually waterlogged for two months. At the same time we thought it only fair to make it plain that if the meeting could not achieve results within a limited period we should have to be free to resume our liberty of action. I want to make our position plain to the House. That statement was made, not because we had ceased to believe that the policy of nonintervention was still the only safe course for Europe in the Spanish conflict, but because no Government can continue to associate itself for an indefinite period with an international agreement which is being constantly violated.
So we come to Tuesday's meeting. I confess that this was my first personal experience of a meeting of the Non-Intervention Committee. I would add also that at its close I myself saw no alternative but that the meeting the next day should decide to report failure to the 60 General Committee, with all the consequences that such a decision must inevitably entail. In this connection I understand that there have been certain reports that on the morning of yesterday His Majesty's Government took some new decision to modify their attitude, to grant belligerent rights, or seek to grant them, at once, and attempt to withdraw volunteers afterwards. I believe it has even been said that we approached the French Government in that sense. Lest there should be any misunderstanding, not only at home but elsewhere, I think I should make it plain that there is no truth whatever in that story. But at the eleventh hour there came a new and very welcome contribution by the Italian Government. However chastened some of us may be by the international experience of the last few years, no one will, I hope, belittle the significance of this offer.
There are two points to be borne in mind which I wish to emphasise to the House in connection with it. The first is this: the chief difficulty in connection with this problem of the withdrawal of volunteers had been the relation in time between the withdrawal of the foreigners and the granting of belligerent rights. On this issue both the Italian and the German Governments have substantially modified their attitude. Secondly, a stubborn difficulty had been the question of the proportionate withdrawals from both sides. Without proved figures it was virtually impossible to reach agreement on numbers, consequently on the basis for proportionate withdrawal. Here, too, the Italian Government have proposed a solution which should be acceptable—that we should undertake in advance to agree to proportions based on the figures of the Commission to be sent to Spain, whatever its figures may ultimately prove to be. His Majesty's Government are themselves in complete accord with this view, and sincerely appreciate the contribution to international agreement which these two concessions and the acceptance of the British plan as a whole undoubtedly imply.
I should be the last to indulge in exaggerated optimism. There are problems enough and to spare still outstanding. In any event, however, there was truth in the remark one of my colleagues on the Committee made to me as we 61 left last night: "Yesterday there seemed to be no hope; to-day there are real chances of making progress." Can we profit by them? The next few weeks will show, and I say "weeks" deliberately. His Majesty's Government will spare no endeavour to see that progress, now once begun, proceeds rapidly and unchecked. With this in view the Committee will meet again tomorrow, when we hope to receive the replies of all Governments to the Italian Government's new offer.
But while I am speaking about Spain there are some general observations about that country and the Mediterranean situation which I would like to make to the House. The Government have always maintained, not, I know, with full approval from all quarters of the House always, that the right policy for this country in this dispute is non-intervention. This was the doctrine so often and eloquently preached to us, if I remember aright, by hon. Members opposite in the early days of the Russian Revolution. The fact that others may be intervening now does not detract from the truth of the doctrine. I am convinced that the people of this country are united and emphatic in not wishing the Government of this country to take sides in what should be a matter for the Spanish people. I am also convinced that our people wish the Government to do everything in their power, by example and by conference, not to let the principle of non-intervention he finally and irrevocably thrown over, if that can be contrived.
In this Spanish conflict our determination is to concentrate on what is possible; by a combination of patience and persistence, even at the risk of criticism and misrepresentation, to localise this war; and to watch over British interests. Those seem to us our two principal tasks, and in this connection I repeat to-day what I said in North Wales a few days ago, that non-intervention in Spain must be sharply distinguished from indifference in respect to the territorial integrity of Spain or in respect of our Imperial communications through the Mediterranean. There will be no indifference on the part of the Government where it is clear that vital British interests are threatened. In matters of such delicacy and importance the House will agree that the utmost precision and clarity are called for. Let 62 me, therefore, once again make it plain that our rearmament bears with it neither overt nor latent strains of revenge either in the Mediterranean or anywhere else. Such sentiments are wholly alien to the British character, and even were the Government of the day to harbour them, which it does not, the British people would never be willing to give effect to them. Our position in the Mediterranean is essentially this, that we mean to maintain a right of way on this main arterial road. We are justified in expecting that such a right should be unchallenged. We have never asked, and we do not ask to-day, that that right should be exclusive.
The House has been encouraged to hope by the events of yesterday that a final step forward may be made in eliminating the Spanish question from the sphere of international conflict. His Majesty's Government most ardently hope that this will prove to be the fact, for let us be frank about the consequences. The Government are conscious, as everyone else who has watched the international situation in the past year must have been conscious, that foreign intervention in Spain has been responsible for preventing all progress towards international peace. If they had wanted to see how plain this fact is, hon. Members opposite should have been at the League Assembly this year, where despite efforts which were made, notably by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, and by M. Leon Blum for France, to obtain an agreed resolution, such agreement was found to be quite impossible. So it is with every aspect of international life. This is the cloud that obscures the prospects of improving the relations between the Mediterranean Powers. It would be futile to deny that until it is finally dissolved real progress will not be possible between them. If and when, however, the Spanish question, with all its attendant problems, both strategic and political, ceases to be the nerve centre of international politics, then it will be possible for the nations of the Mediterranean to seek in friendly conversations among themselves to restore those relations of traditional amity which have governed their intercourse in the past. In such conditions there is every reason why such conversations should succeed. That is the objective which we should all like to see realised. It is one in which 63 our whole-hearted co-operation, whatever party be in power in this country, can always be counted upon, on the condition that this problem of intervention in Spain is resolved.
I should like to make some comments, if the House will allow me, upon the other sphere of warfare, the tragic situation which has developed in the Far East. There events have been happening which, whatever their military outcome, must inevitably result in the impoverishment of both nations now engaged in the conflict, and in the loss for a while at least to the other nations of the world of the hopes that a rising standard of living in the Far East and an expanding market in that part of the world would result in increased opportunities for commerce and for prosperity for all. This country more deeply regrets these events not only because we have great commercial interests in the Far East but also because, just previous to the outbreak of this conflict, we were, as I think the House knows, actually engaged in conversations with the Japanese Government which might have led to a programme of international co-operation, including of course the co-operation of China, for the improvement of relations and the development of trade in the Far East. These conversations, of course, were interrupted at once on the outbreak of the conflict, and their resumption is clearly impossible in present conditions. At the same time I would like to give the House a condensed account of the efforts which we have made to seek a settlement of this conflict, and I shall have something to say upon its origins and responsibilities in a moment. As soon as we received news of the outbreak of fighting in North China we made repeated attempts to persuade the two Governments to enter into negotiations with a view to settling their differences before they assumed large proportions, and we made it clear that our good offices were available at any time to them for that purpose. Equally, when hostilities seemed to threaten in Shanghai, and after they had broken out, we went further than that, for we made an offer that if the Japanese forces in Shanghai were withdrawn and both Governments would withdraw their forces, we would undertake the protection of Japanese 64 nationals in Shanghai jointly with other Powers. Other Powers accepted that offer and so did the Chinese in principle provided it were accepted by the Japanese Government. I think perhaps everybody in the Far East regrets that that offer was not universally accepted. In all these efforts we have kept in the closest touch with the Governments of other countries principally concerned, and especially, of course, with the Government of the United States. The views of these Governments and the action which they have taken, either with the Japanese or Chinese Governments, or both, have been substantially of a similar character.
Here I would turn for a moment to League action and our part in it in connection with this dispute. On 12th September the Chinese Government came to the League of Nations and referred their dispute with Japan to the League under Articles X, XI, and XVII of the Covenant, and the Council, with the full consent and approval of the Chinese Government, referred the matter to a special advisory committee which has been responsible for following the situation in the Far East. That advisory committee met at Geneva and, very wisely, I think, came to the conclusion that a body composed of the Powers principally interested in the Far East would be most likely to find a way of composing the dispute. They, therefore, proposed that the parties to the Nine-Power Treaty signed in Washington soon after the War should Initiate consultations in accordance with Article VII of that Treaty. Such consultation was immediately initiated by cable and through the diplomatic channel by His Majesty's Government and various other Governments, with the result that the Belgian Government, having first been assured that such a course would he generally approved, have issued invitations to all parties signatories to the Treaty to meet in conference at Brussels, and we meet there on 30th October. We hope to be able to announce in the course of a day or two the delegates who are to represent the Government of this country.
At Geneva certain pronouncements were made both about the origin of this conflict, in what I thought was an admirably drafted document by the advisory committee, and also as to the air 65 bombing which has taken place. I will add nothing more on either of those subjects to-day, except to say that, as our own representative at Geneva made abundantly clear, we fully endorse every word of those reports and everything that they say. We welcome the summoning of this conference, because in our view a meeting of the Powers principally concerned, in the capital of one of the signatories of this Nine-Power Treaty, is the best hope of finding a means of putting an end to this unhappy conflict. I would remind the House of the initiative that the League took in the matter and of the words in which that initiative was defined. The words are:The sub-committee would suggest that these members"—that is, the members who signed the Nine-Power Treatyߞshould meet forthwith to decide upon the best and quickest means of giving effect to this invitation. The sub-committee would further express the hope that the States concerned will be able to associate with their work other States which have special interests in the Far East to seek a method of putting an end to the conflict by agreement.It will be seen from this that our mandate is a definite one. I would only to-day add this: naturally we are in consultation with other Governments interested and shall continue to be so up to the moment of the Conference, and I received a message to-day to say that the French Foreign Secretary will himself attend the Conference and I also learn that the Italian Government are to send a delegation while the United States Government are being represented by their Ambassador at large. But I would submit this to the House: to talk now about what is to be included in or excluded from the Brussels Conference in advance of the meeting would be most unwise. We have our definite agenda given us by the League, and I suggest to the House that the proper procedure for us to follow is, in consultation with other signatories to the Treaty who will be present, to do the utmost that lies in our power to discharge that Mandate. The paramount desire of everyone must be to see an end put to the slaughter, the suffering and the misery of which we are witnesses in China to-day. If the meeting of the Brussels Conference can achieve this—and I repeat that, in our view, it offers the best chance there is of achieving it—the Conference will render the greatest possible service. If it fails, 66 then we enter into a new situation which we shall have to face.
§ Mr. Eden
The right hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, explain what policy he wishes to advocate. I can only say that His Majesty's Government will enter that Conference with the determination to do everything in our power to assure the success of its labours.
So, if the House will allow me I will make one or two observations upon the international situation in general before I conclude. I would like to quote first of all from an important statement which has recently been issued on the international situation and which I read with the greatest interest. The statement said:During the past two years there is good reason to believe that Europe has more than once been on the very brink of the precipice. The position was very critical when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland.It then said:It was publicly declared by Leon Mum to have been very critical in the first weeks of the Spanish war and, as this war has continued, the danger of its spreading into a European conflagration has never been absent.Those who read that statement—[An HON. MEMBER: "Read on."]—That statement will be recognised by hon. Members opposite. I expect they would rather say that it is all our fault. If it goes on to say that it is all our fault, they may quite believe it, but surely they are the only people who will believe it. My purpose is not to quarrel with that statement but to say that I am in full agreement with it. Unfortunately it is true, but if it is true surely it throws all the greater responsibility upon us to see that we do nothing at this time that might result in pushing us over the brink of the very precipice in respect of which hon. Gentlemen are so eloquent. I cannot but have constantly in mind in these anxious days the phrase which was used by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Coordination of Defence about the years that the locusts have eaten. It is impossible in the conduct of international affairs at this time, in a rearming world where, as President Roosevelt has graphically described, international law is no longer respected—it is impossible for foreign policy to be other than very closely related to the condition of our armaments. 67 The experience of these years should be a grim warning to us and, more important, a grim warning to every future Government who hold office in this country. Now, at length, our growing strength in the field of armaments is beginning to appear, and its significance can scarcely be exaggerated. That is why I cordially welcome in this House the verdict of the recent Socialist party—Labour party—conference.
§ Mr. Eden
It is easy for hon. Members to throw taunts about that conversion, but I, for one, will never do so because I am only too glad for that conversion, because of the steady influence I am convinced that verdict will have upon the present international situation. If it be the precursor of closer unity in other spheres, so much the better; even for what it stands for in itself it is an element for which the Government cannot be too grateful.
§ 4.37 P.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
The Foreign Secretary in his closing sentences expressed a desire for a unity of attitude in this country on foreign affairs, but the speech which he has just delivered has widened the gulf which existed between this party and the party opposite. I have heard a number of speeches by the right hon. Gentleman, but I have never heard such a cynical pronouncement as that which he has just made. In his earlier speeches in this House he used to uphold the ideal of the League of Nations and the ideal of the rule of law. He seemed to have some idea that there should be at least a distinction between right and wrong in foreign affairs. Throughout this speech he has emphasised all the time that the only thing which affects His Majesty's Government is the interests of British Imperialism. He has emphasised that it 68 is the only thing on which a risk should be taken. By doing so, he has illustrated very clearly the entire difference in outlook between the Government and the Members of this party. I want to develop that point a little later, and I shall show how, in every sphere of foreign politics on which he has touched, that prime difference comes out that this party stands for the rule of law and for the development of a commonwealth of nations, and that the Government are back in pre-war days, considering only, and narrowly, what they consider—I believe quite falsely—to be the interests of this country.
I want to touch, first of all, on one particular point, that is, the situation at present existing in Northern Spain, in the Asturias. We have there a wonderfully courageous fight by a small people against, in the main, foreign invaders. They are people who have suffered much in the past. They were subjected to most cruel massacres in the year 1934. At the present moment they are being driven back to their last defences at Gijon, and they are being pressed remorselessly by an enemy that has openly confessed that it intends to destroy them utterly. There is the greatest danger of massacre in that place. We know what happened in Bilbao; we know what happens to the fighting men and to government officials. We know what happens to any man or woman who is said to be opposed to the Whites. We had a very interesting article in the "Sunday Times" of last Sunday, a statement by an officer as to exactly what their policy was, and what they meant by killing.
We have there women and children; the question is, can they be saved? I understand that some have already been saved and that proposals are being made that these women and children, being non-combatants, should be saved. I understand that the Government are not willing, that they say that while they might be willing to do it they would be opposed by General Franco and that they could not stand up to General Franco. I am told that the proposal has been made for some kind of agreement. If you could get an agreement between Valencia and General Franco by which, by an exchange or return of prisoners, these people could go, well and good, but I want to impress upon the Government that in the South of Spain a great work 69 of humanity was done by the British Navy. The British Navy rescued numbers of adherents of General Franco and, as far as I know, there was never any question raised as to the right of us to do that. I want us to save these people before it is too late. It is a matter of days. I hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would say something on this subject. If the Government were prepared to act I believe they would have the support of the Government of France and that it would be possible to do a great act of humanity, provided that Britain and France would stand together and act with resolution.
§ Mr. Eden
I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. The position is that a great number of women and children have been saved from that coast of Spain almost entirely in British ships. I do not think it is entirely fair to suggest that we are always hanging back. As a matter of fact, we have already acted with the French Government in this matter, and we shall do what we can. Really and truly, it is we who have done practically everything.
§ Mr. Attlee
I am very glad to have that assurance. I sent a message to the right hon. Gentleman which I hope reached him, asking him to deal with this subject in his speech. I hope that this will be done for the women and children, despite any opposition from General Franco, because the slaughter of women and children is not a legitimate act of war. In the same way, there is the question of the surrender of troops, and whether they can be taken to be unarmed in order to save their lives. If there were a land frontier, the troops could reach it and be interned, as happened in Holland in the later days of the War but in this case they are faced with the sea. The fact is that there is a danger that the whole of these brave men may he slaughtered because it happens to be a sea front and not a land front. Here, again, I believe it is of the utmost importance that our Government, in conjunction with other Governments, should do the utmost to save these people, not only because of the people themselves, but to prevent the exacerbation of the whole civil war position in Spain. A civil war is a horrible one at any time, but if an atrocity of this kind takes place it might lead to other 70 atrocities. I am sure the Valencia Government will do all they can to stop it, but they will have this terrible exacerbation of strife, and I do ask that our Government should show as much resolution when they are dealing with a question of humanity as they would for the interests of British shipping.
That brings me to a point which I wish to make. I was very much struck by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Nyon Agreement, and the speed with which they acted, the resolution with which they acted, and the effectiveness with which they acted. Then I contrast the long delays, the irresolution, and the ineffectiveness when it is any question but that of some Imperial interest. If we had had one tithe of that speed and resolution, we should never had had this situation. What is the use of the right hon. Gentleman saying that the Government cannot go on associating themselves with an international agreement that is constantly violated, when it has been going on for months? The lesson of Nyon is that when our Government, in conjunction with other Governments, is prepared to act firmly, results do accrue. We have the general position in Spain, and we have now Italy's eleventh-hour proposals. I think we have to scan these proposals very closely, and consider why they were produced. If as a matter of fact Signor Mussolini and the Government of Italy are preparing for genuine non-intervention, no one will be more pleased than Members on this side of the House, but mere arrangements are nothing unless you have a real change of mind. The essential thing is that whatever arrangement may be made should be carried out. A proposal is perfectly useless unless the Italians really mean genuine non-intervention, and that is just the question we are asking.
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply one or two questions. First of all, there is the question of the partial withdrawal of foreign troops. I understand that the suggestion is that equal numbers should be withdrawn on either side. If it were a question of two or three, or a mere hundred, it might not matter, but if there is to be a very substantial immediate withdrawal on equal terms it means that where you have—I quote again from a hostile source, if I may say so, not a Labour source at all, 71 namely, the "Sunday Times"—something like 80,000 Italian troops in Spain and something like 20,000 on the other side, it is obvious that an equal withdrawal would be grossly unfair to the Valencia Government. Therefore, I would ask whether any suggestion as to numbers has been made. The next question I want to ask is what is going to happen while this inquiry into the question of withdrawal is going on? In a leader in the "Times" this morning it is stated that:It is assumed, of course, that pending the report of the Commission there will be no further reinforcement of the contending armies in Spain either in men or in munitions, since such reinforcement would make a mockery of yesterday's proceedings.We have had so many proposals where the proceedings have been such a mockery that I want to know whether we have any assurance that during this period, which may be long or may be short—when it is a question of non-intervention, the right hon. Gentleman talks in terms of weeks, though it was only a matter of hours in the case of Nyonߞwhether during that time we are to have a continual pouring in of troops and munitions. Have we any assurance that it is going to stop? If not, clearly the only fair thing to do is that the Government of this country and all the other signatories of the Non-Intervention Agreement should restore to the Spanish Government its full rights in regard to getting arms in the interim period. It must be one thing or the other. The right hon. Gentleman has talked about non-intervention as if the alternative to non-intervention put forward from this side was intervention. It is quite untrue. What we have said is, if there is to be nonintervention, let it be a fair non-intervention and not a one-sided intervention. Non-intervention all through has been a farce, a one-sided farce. Therefore, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman what assurances we have, because many people suspect that this may only be another device for wasting time.
With regard to the granting of belligerent rights, we hold that the question of belligerent rights should not be even considered until all foreign troops have gone, and then we shall find out whether as a matter of fact General Franco is backed by any considerable section of the Spanish people. There was a speech made at a recent meeting 72 of the Cortes, which has been very little commented upon in the Press over here but which I think is worth recording. It was made by Senor Portela Valladares, who was the Conservative Prime Minister of Spain, the man who was actually in power before the victory of the Popular Front. He was living away in France, but he came over specially to this meeting and made a remarkable statement. He said:I realise I have little right to speak here. Therefore I will speak from my heart. This Parliament is the very raison d'être of the Republic. It is the title of the life of Spain. As my first duty towards you, towards Spain and to the world, I must assure you of the legitimacy of your powers.The question has often been asked whether the Spanish Government really represented the people of Spain. This is the Conservative Prime Minister, who was running the elections at the time of the last election, and he comes across and declares that the Spanish Government is the rightful Government of Spain. He went on to say:I handed over the Government to the Peoples Front because I was convinced of the latter's triumph, as were also the extreme Conservatives. There may be ideological differences between us, but I wish to affirm here and now my loyalty to the Government.The real fact with regard to this Spanish revolution is that as time has gone on it has become more and more a foreign attack on Spain, and less and less a civil war, and the fact of this foreign interference is uniting the Spanish people. One has to remember that that has happened before. There was a great man who disregarded the spirit of nationality both in Spain and in Germany. That was Napoleon Bonaparte. I sometimes think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who has other Napoleonic qualities, sometimes shares that blindness. He ignores the national feeling in Russia—
§ Mr. Attlee
—which has helped to make the strength of Russia. I do not think he has realised the strength of the national feeling in Spain any more than he realised the strength of the national feeling in India, and I do not think he realises yet the national feeling in China. But I think we ought to recognise here and now that you can have no possible 73 judgment between the combatants in Spain until there has been a complete withdrawal of foreign troops.
I want also to ask whether we can have some more information about what is happening in the Balearic Islands and other islands off the coast of Spain. I hope I shall have an answer on this point, because it is one which might concern British Imperialism, and not merely questions of right and wrong. We have constant and disturbing reports of what is happening in the Balearic Islands, and I want to know whether this withdrawal of foreign troops is to apply to the Balearic Islands. We on this side take a perfectly clear line on the question of non-intervention. We said that we would support it if it were made effective, but if it is a mere farce we say, away with it and restore their rights to the Spanish people. The Government have allowed this matter to drift on and on; and now we have this eleventh-hour effort to save non-intervention. If there is to be another long-drawn-out period in which all the time the dice are loaded against the Spanish Government, I say that the right thing to do is to restore at once to the Spanish Government their full rights. I am aware of the dangers of the situation, but I can never quite make out why any action by our Government is always regarded as a thing that might lead to a general war, whereas a dictator, apparently, can do anything he likes and nothing happens.
I want next to turn to the question of China. The right hon. Gentleman, in his brief report, talked about these two combatants in the Far East as if they were exactly on a level. He does not seem to have read the report of the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League. It says:The military operations carried on by Japan against China by land, sea and air are out of all proportion to the incident that occasioned the conflict. They can be justified neither on the basis of existing legal instruments nor on that of the right of self-defence, and they are in contravention of Japan's obligations under the Nine-Power Treaty of 6th February, 1922, and the Pact of Paris of 27th August, 1928.The Committee asked the Assemblyto express its moral support for China and to recommend that Members of the League should refrain from taking any action which might have the effect of weakening China's powers of resistance, and should also consider how far they can individually extend aid to China.74 The right hon. Gentleman said that it was inadvisable to discuss this matter. I am rather surprised at that, because it seems to show a breach in the ranks of the party opposite. The Prime Minister, at the Conservative Conference, made an emphatic speech, in which perhaps the most emphatic part was his insistence on the sacredness of pledges, the need for a return to the pledge, to the plighted word. We are to have a meeting of the signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty. On what kind of basis will they meet? The signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty are bound by the Nine-Power Treaty, and it says perfectly plainly that they are not to make any agreement which will in effect destroy the integrity of China. Is that going to be the basis, or are we to have another Hoare-Laval agreement? Because, whenever there is aggression in the world, it always seems to be the Government's chief policy to see whether they cannot get the aggressor to take half instead of the whole loaf.
I would like to ask two questions of the Prime Minister. Will the Government undertake not to propose at the Nine-Power Conference anything which will be incompatible with the Nine-Power Treaty? The Foreign Secretary has said that the Government cannot continue to have something that is being violated all the time. There was constant violation in the Manchuria business. It means the end of the Nine-Power Treaty and the end of the Covenant of the League of Nations if you are always to submit to violation. The second question I would like to ask is whether, if China accepts an armistice and Japan refuses, the Government will propose an international embargo on Japan? Because it is not enough for the League to meet and condemn an aggressor. I want to know what practical steps are going to be taken by the Government. I know the difficulties and dangers in all parts of the world. But you have had a remarkable speech—the Prime Minister called it a clarion call—by President Roosevelt. I was rather surprised that the Foreign Secretary did not even mention that speech. In making a statement on foreign affairs I should have thought he would have considered that a statement by the President of the United States was a matter of the greatest importance.
§ Mr. Attlee
I think the place to make statements is in this House. I made the same speech twice in Trafalgar Square as I made here. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the attitude of the United States is of the very first importance, and the fact that they are going to meet with us in this Nine-Power Conference is of vital importance. I believe this adventure of Japan's is only undertaken because of the attitude of this and other Governments in always letting the aggressors get away with it. I believe there is great opposition in Japan. Japan's financial position is extremely weak and Japan's economic position is extremely weak. If one tithe of the consideration which is shown about British shipping in the Mediterranean was shown about the Japanese invasion of China, I believe this invasion would stop. This is a deliberate piece of aggression by one Power against another, and all through the Government wash their hands of the matter. Either they say "it is a matter in which we cannot take sides" or else, as was hinted in a speech by the Foreign Secretary, "we are too weak to do anything."
The Foreign Secretary said something about the years the locusts have eaten. I think that was a reference to the fact that some people think we ought to have re-armed years before. We have it on the authority of Earl Baldwin that he thought so, but was not going to tell the country so before an election. What is happening in China is an inevitable sequel to the policy of this Government throughout. There are three great aggressive nations in the world to-day, Japan, Italy and Germany. They do not attempt to hide the fact; they openly profess it. At the time the National Government came in there was only one aggressive State, Japan. At the time the Government condoned Japan's aggression—I should say even encouraged that aggression. Aggression has grown and the situation has become more and more serious. These States are alike in that they are aggressive imperial-isms, and are ruled in the interest of the capitalist class. We have to recognise that you have here a kind of State that is 76 bound to be aggressive, because if it is not its regime is bound to fall. The policy of this Government throughout, right on from 1931, has always been to try and appease the aggressors by the sacrifice of weaker States but the more you yield to the aggressor the greater his appetite.
The rape of Manchuria was the first act of the drama; the second was Abyssinia. Italy, emboldened by Japan's success, went on in Abyssinia. There again just one little thing was going to satisfy Italy; she is going on challenging more. Then Germany re-armed, and again there was acquiescence. The next act was Spain, prepared for over a long, long time by Italy. All the time the Government were saying "We are a peace Government." I say they were making war all the time. I say their policy was not only wrong in itself, but also stupid. I think their policy was dictated first by fear of Communism. They thought Japan would be useful against Russia in the Far East. Also perhaps they thought Germany would be useful against Russia in the West. They did not fear Russia in a military sense, hut they feared the success of a State founded on a different system from their own. That explains their sympathy with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and the rulers of Japan.
A second cause of the Government's policy is that they believe that if they let these States go on they will be content and leave the British Empire alone. We opposed rearmament because we disagreed with the policy behind it. We are utterly opposed to the foreign policy of this Government, a foreign policy which has neglected the true way of preserving the British Empire. The only way of preserving the British Empire is by preserving the peace of the world in the League of Nations. That has been wantonly thrown away. You have to-day a ceaseless propaganda carried on in the world against the British Empire. I think our whole experience shows that the polcy of the Government, so far from having made for peace has made for war, that actually every step taken has encouraged aggression. A Chinese Minister speaking at Geneva said that the sky was black with chickens coming home to roost. I am sorry for the Foreign Secretary who has to deal with the quest;on of the Far East, hut he is the inheritor of the policy of the Chancellor of the 77 Exchequer. The result of this failure ever to stand for principle is that you will destroy what was the greatest defence of this country. The greatest defence of this country was that it could be trusted to stand with the rest of the world against injustice and aggression.
I believe the Government are leading this country to the brink of another war. If we suggest, on the contrary, that any steps should be taken against aggression, the Government will say we want war. I do not believe that if this Government, in consort with the rest of the Governments, applied any kind of economic pressure on Japan that would at once bring about a great war. It did not do so when some kind of pressure was put on at Nyon. Japan is in an extremely vulnerable position. It would be perfectly possible to stop the supply of oil, and I believe that if any step of that kind were taken Japan would at once stop her aggression.
§ Mr. Attlee
That is just the weakness of the right hon. Gentleman. He always believes any kind of propaganda that is put out against us. Japan also says that she is out for peace. Does he believe that? I do not believe for a moment that Japan would challenge the world. The world has given its verdict at Geneva. A verdict like that, followed by no action, is perfectly useless. The Prime Minister has said that the question involved is the sanctity of treaties, but the Government has torn up a number of treaties. So far from this Government having brought this country into safety and security, I believe it has jeopardised our security, and the right hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong when he believes there is any kind of unity behind this Government. There will be no unity behind this Government so long as it pursues a policy which is entirely divorced from the realities of the situation, entirely divorced from any idea of collective security and the rule of law, and is directed only by a short-sighted view of Imperial interests. We can assure him that he will meet with opposition from this side so long as he and his Government pursue the kind of policy they have pursued over the last five years.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
I listened with a great deal of agreement to much of the 78 speech that the Leader of the Opposition has just delivered. Indeed there were some respects in which I would have gone further than he did in criticism of the Government's foreign policy, particularly in regard to the League of Nations and the Government's failure to match the energy which it is throwing into the necessary business of rearmament with equal energy thrown into the business of a constructive policy of peace, and especially of economic appeasement. But I must say I found it difficult to follow that part of his speech in which he spoke of countries like Italy and Germany, aggressive imperialist countries, being ruled in the interest of the capitalist classes. If there is one wretched class more downtrodden than another in Germany, Italy and Japan at the present time, it is the capitalist class. [Interruption.] Certainly, if there is one class that more bitterly resents the domination of the military clique in japan at the present time, it is the capitalist class. If any hon. Member is in touch with opinion among capitalists in Germany or Italy, he will know that the same is true of those countries particularly. He will have seen in the newspapers recently that heavy taxation has been imposed in successive instalments on capitalists with different interests, and lastly upon equity shareholders in great Italian industries to the extent of 10 per cent. And as for the democratic countries, if any hon. Member thinks that the capitalist classes in the democratic countries welcome war and the prospect of war, he has only to follow the Stock Exchange quotations in Wall Street and here in the City of London. The idea that capitalists live and work for, and can profit by, war, is a gross delusion, and it only complicates the study of these very difficult, dreadful and fateful events and tendencies which we are now considering, if we draw the red herring of Capitalism and Socialism across the path.
We have to consider that there has been a very serious deterioration in the international situation since we last met. We may admire the adroit diplomacy of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and we may welcome, in particular, the Nyon Conference, of which the Leader of the Opposition spoke with so much approval, with which I heartily agree. It was not a characteristic performance on the part of 79 the Government. It was, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, a most unusual performance. Indeed, I have not the slightest doubt that if the Leader of the Opposition or I or any other hon. Member on this side of the House had suggested that, in the situation which arose in September, Britain and France should declare that they were going to police the Mediterranean with or without Italy and act upon it in the absence of Italy, hon. Members opposite would then have shouted "War"! But for once the Government showed resolution and they acted. They carried with them the eager and loyal co-operation of France and other Mediterranean Powers, and the world situation, and in particular the situation in Spain and the Mediterranean, was for the time being greatly improved.
But in other directions the Government are drifting. The situation in Spain drifts from bad to worse, and the Secretary of State himself did not conceal from us his feelings, that the Non-Intervention Agreement was working in an increasingly unsatisfactory manner. Although we all rejoice that events yesterday took a slightly more hopeful turn, energy and speed will be needed if this opportunity is to be improved. Again, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that it is deplorable that not only on this occasion, but on other occasions which have occurred during the Recess, a more adequate response has not been made to the great speech of President Roosevelt in the United States of America. It is one of the greatest utterances made certainly during the past few months—I might almost say yearsߞand I would say, speaking as an ordinary British citizen, that I regard it as the most hopeful utterance that has come across the Atlantic Ocean since the War.
I believe profoundly that a greater cause is at stake in these world events, in the Mediterranean, in Spain and in the Far East, than mere national interest. It is not merely a question of Gibraltar, important as that is; it is not merely a question of our Imperial communications through the Mediterranean, and it is not merely a question of Hong Kong, but it i is, as President Roosevelt pointed out in Chicago, in the heart of the Middle West of the United States of America, an issue which goes to the very roots of intrer- 80 national law, justice, sanctity of treaties and our hopes of establishing the permanent peace of the world.
In discussing the issues which the Secretary of State raised in his speech, I would turn first to the issue in Spain and repeat what he frankly said, that non-intervention is working unsatisfactorily. He said that the Non-Intervention Committee had been waterlogged for two months. Why only two months? He might have said for 14 months. It started waterlogged and it has never been baled out. I would, first of all, ask the Prime Minister, as I understand that he is going to reply, whether he will give us some of the facts about the situation in Spain at the present time? I will not ask him what is the present total of the numbers of troops on both sides, because that is a matter which he might clearly answer is sub judice. We are hoping that the commission will be sent out to ascertain the facts which are, of course, in dispute, but I would only make this comment in passing on an official statement which was issued the other day by the Italian Government. The Italian Government said in that statement that there were only, 10,000 Italian troops fighting in Spain, and that the numbers of volunteers fighting on the side of the Spanish Government was much larger. Then why all this fuss about the withdrawal of proportionate numbers on either side? If indeed the number of Italian and German troops is smaller than the number of volunteers fighting for the Spanish Government they ought to welcome the Government's proposals that the withdrawal should be in proportion.
Upon this question of troops, I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether any Italian troops have landed in Spain, in the Spanish Islands round Spain, in the Balearic or other islands during the Recess? If so, would he tell us how many were landed and on what dates? In particular, I should like to know whether any air forces and pilots have been sent to Spain or to these islands. I have seen in the newspapers that Signor Mussolini's son went there at the end of September, and I should like to know whether there is any truth in these assertions, and on what dates, as far as the Government know, these troops and air forces were sent. In particular I should be grateful if we could be told whether there is any reason to suppose 81 that the garrison at Majorca has been strengthened, and whether there is any reason to anticipate any attack by the Italian troops on the island of Minorca; whether any of the islands of Columbretes, off the east coast of Spain, and the rocky island of Alboran, where there is a lighthouse, have been occupied by German or Italian troops or workmen and fitted out as submarine bases? I should also be grateful if the Prime Minister would tell us what these troop movements to Libya mean. Why should troops be moving into Libya? I see that the Italian Government have stated in official statements that it is on account of the international situation. In what respect is the international situation affecting Libya. Are we taking any steps to ensure the proper protection of Egypt against any danger that may threaten that country?
I ask the House to consider what, in fact, is the military situation in Spain. General Franco has been winning victories, and he has been winning them in the Basque country and in the Austurias. But these victories have not been won by Spanish soldiers. They have been won mainly by Italian and German airmen and troops, and of these the overwhelming majority are Italian. If anyone wishes to dispute that statement, I have only to call in evidence Signor Mussolini himself, who has sent glowing messages of thanks and congratulation to the Generals who commanded his troops in the campaign, and himself attributed the success of the campaign to the efforts of the Italian troops. Therefore, do not let us have any misunderstanding about this, because by Signor Mussolini's own assertion it is the Italian troops who have been mainly responsible for winning these victories for General Franco in the North of Spain.
Non-intervention, at the same time, has reduced to a trickle, or at least to a narrow stream, the recruits and munitions to the Spanish Government's army. But the Spanish Government's war factories are beginning to turn out material. They are coming into production now, and within a very few months, I am credibly informed, they will have twice as many men in the field as they had at the beginning of last year. On the other hand, non-intervention, although it has prevented the Spanish Government from getting more than a small proportion of their supplies from outside sources, has 82 not prevented large regions of Northern Spain from being captured and conquered, and great cities from being occupied by Italian and German troops. It is fortunate, however, that these victories have been in Northern Spain and not in Central and Southern Spain. General Franco has not been marching towards Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, but towards little seaports on the Northern Coast of Spain of which few of us had ever heard before the War began. Nor can Italy continue to maintain all through next year the immense burden of supplying drafts, munitions, clothing and equipment to these great armies in Spain, in addition to the other great armies which she is maintaining in Libya and in Abyssinia. Everything, therefore, depends upon what happens. in Spain in the next few months or weeks. That is the fateful period.
The fall of Gijon liberates 100,000 men, according to such information as I have and which we read in the newspapers from the best informed correspondents. In so far as they are Spanish soldiers, that is none of our business. The Spaniards must settle their own affairs, but it will be a final mockery of the Non-Intervention Committee if while the Committee is discussing the withdrawal of volunteers, 100,000 Italian troops are thrown against the front lines of Republican Spain. I am told that there are five Italian divisions concentrated now at Saragossa. I do not know whether the Government are aware whether that information is true, or approximately true, but I do not think there is any doubt that there is a considerable number of Italian troops on that front.
The right hon. Gentleman begged us not to belittle the Italian offer. That is the very last thing that I should wish to do. If the Italian offer is followed up by action and if these troops are withheld from the front line and forbidden to take part in any offensive action until the Commission is set up and the machinery of withdrawal is set into motion, then I shall be the first to come down and pay my tribute not only to the successful diplomacy of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs but to the wisdom and forebearance of Signor Mussolini. But if this is a time-gaining manoeuvre, and if while this discussion is going on in the Non-Intervention Committee during the next few weeks these Italian troops are 83 going to be concentrated for one great effort to smash through the lines before the winter and to finish the campaign if possible before the end of the year, then I say that a short time limit must be fixed and the necessary measures taken, in close co-operation with the French Government, to give equivalent help to the Spanish Government, but not in troops. Let me, with permission, withdraw the word "equivalent" and say some compensating help in regard to the opening of the French frontier for the supply of munitions to the Spanish Government.
I hope that I have made it clear that if the Italian offer is to be taken on its merits I should be the last to belittle it; on the contrary, I should welcome it; but there are some ominous signs. Reuter's correspondent, telegraphing from Rome, says that in official circles there word has gone round that there is no vital change in the situation and that the deadlock is only postponed. That is a danger to which I should like to direct the attention of the Government. Reuter's correspondent says that the Italian Government officials declare that it is not a vital change in the situation that has been made but merely a postponement of the deadlock, a move for gaining time by keeping the countries, especially France and Britain, talking round the table while the Italians make a final blow at Republican Spain.
I have supported the Non-Intervention policy patiently. I supported the Government's plan in July, but I begged them at the time to set a time limit. I was afraid that there would be all these delays and that in the meantime the Italians would be reinforcing their troops in Spain. Now that the main principles of the proposal have been accepted by Italy and Germany, success will depend entirely on the speed, the energy and the drive that is put into carrying out the scheme. I hope the Prime Minister may be able to give us some assurance as to when the Commission will be set up. If possible, I should like to know the name of the chairman. Perhaps it is too early to ask that question and I would not press for the information, but it might be a reassurance if he could tell us the name of the chairman of the Commission. I hope that he will be a man of resolute courage and drive, who will not be likely to be diverted from his 84 task by the blandishments of the officers he will meet in Spain. I hope that he will be a man of experience and knowledge, and that he will undertake this very difficult task with energy and determination.
I notice that in the speeches made in the Non-Intervention Committee and in come of the communiqués issued on its behalf the words "withdraw" and "evacuation" seem to he used as though they were synonymous. While it is true that you cannot have anything like simultaneous evacuation, because there must be railway schedules, which must obviously take considerable time to arrange, there might be something very near simultaneous withdrawal, at any rate the withdrawal of troops from the front line to the rear out of reach of the fighting. Obviously, that can be carried out much mote quickly than evacuation. I would urge that efforts be made to get the withdrawal of foreign troops on both sides completed within a. very few weeks. Meanwhile, I would suggest that the Non-Intervention Committee and its sub-committee should remain in permanent session until this machinery can be set into motion. I do not suggest that there should be a full meeting of the Non-Intervention Committee every day, but I do think that its sub-committee and its executive organs should remain in permanent session until the Commission is set up and withdrawals are effected.
The alternative to non-intervention, as I said in July, is not intervention, but if, within a definite time limit, there is no withdrawal, let alone evacuation, of the foreign troops, I hope the Government will make it clear that we shall give full support to France if she wishes to open the frontier between herself and Republican Spain. The right hon. Gentleman says that the country does not wish to intervene in the Spanish struggle. I agree, but the policy of so-called nonintervention is working out as intervention in the affairs of Spain. It is working in this way, that we are preventing the legitimate Government of Spain from obtaining the munitions it requires to defend itself against an invasion of Italian and German troops, while the other side in the struggle is able to obtain any quantities of munitions and large bodies of troops are being sent to it from other European countries by their Governments. I would in this connection 85 stress the importance of co-operation with France.
I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman deal with a mischievous rumour which appeared in one of the newspapers this morning about our desire to break the deadlock by getting France to agree to the granting of belligerent Tights before the withdrawal of volunteers; but he did not deal with other rumours that in recent weeks the British Government have been restraining the French Government from taking the action which it thinks necessary in regard to the frontier adjoining Republican Spain. I am very much afraid that unless we are careful we shall have the Hoare-Laval situation in Europe again, with the roles reversed, the right hon. Gentleman playing the part of M. Laval and restraining the French Government from taking the action which is necessary in order to assert the authority of the democratic Powers against the aggressive dictators.
There is one further point, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred at the opening of his remarks, which I wish to mention, and that is the question of the fugitives in the Asturias. He referred to the women and children there. I will not follow him into that matter, although warmly agree with him and desire to associate myself with what he said. There is also the question of other fugitives, especially the military officers and the officials of the Basque Government who are in peril at the present time. As the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, we helped fugitives from the Red terror, and I am very glad that we did so and that our Navy did good work for the people who were threatened by the Red peril. Similarly, we ought to help people who are threatened by the White peril.
The Basques have shown great humanity. When Bilbao was being attacked they released 1,500 of their prisoners. At Santander when the final collapse came they surrendered to the Italian general in command—all the troops that entered Santander were Italians—on three conditions, that no soldier was to be compelled to fight on the other side, that military officers and Government officials were to be allowed to leave the country in ships, and that no reprisals were to be taken against the 86 civilian population. None of these conditions has been kept, and I believe that is owing to the pressure from General Franco's supporters. Whatever may be the reason, the fact is that none of these conditions has been kept, that 1,500 civilians and 16 priests have been murdered in one province alone, that officers and Government officials have been imprisoned, that there have been mock trials and that 600 death sentences have been passed. I do not know whether any of these condemned people have been shot. I would urge the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to intervene if they can to save these people, to offer transport for them and to use such influence as they can, in the name of humanity, to save these people from being persecuted and shot. I hope that the time is coming when the Government will be able to play the part which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman wishes to play, when he can play it effectively, that of mediator. I hope that in this and other ways we shall do all we can to assuage the bitter passions in Spain and to lead that country along the path of peace.
I should like to turn to the question of the Far East, and to express our horror and indignation at the action of Japan, particularly at the use of terrorism and bombardments against the civil population. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Roosevelt speech, but instead of that he told us about the Nine-Power Conference. He did not tell us what policy the Government are going to pursue at the Conference, but he addressed the right hon. Gentleman who was sitting next to the Leader of the Opposition and said that no doubt he would explain what the policy of the Labour party was. I want to know what the policy of the Government is. He said that they hoped to stop the fighting, that they hoped to get through with the agenda which had been prepared and that they would work for success. We can all agree to that, but how are they going to work for success? What are their objectives to be? Upon these points he was silent. We are afraid that the Government will continue what the Leader of the Opposition called the "half-loaf" policy. Japan wants the whole of North China, in addition to Manchuria. Will she be content with the half instead of 87 the whole? Is that the policy which the Government have in mind? If not, will they tell us what it is?
President Roosevelt has given us a clear indication of his policy—a concerted effort to maintain the sanctity of treaties. The right hon. Gentleman referred us to the opinion which he had expressed at Llandudno; there he told his audience that it was a clarion call to return to belief in the pledged word of nations and the sanctity of treaties. It was much more than a clarion call to return to belief. It was a clarion call to action, to concerted effort to uphold the sanctity of treaties. That speech which was made in Chicago in the centre of the Middle West, a part of the country where it required most courage to make a speech of that kind, has been supported by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, who has called upon us to ostracise Japan. President Roosevelt talked of quarantine, but the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee talked of ostracising Japan. It has been supported equally strongly by Mr. Stimson, the Secretary of State in the last Republican Government.
If the Foreign Secretary challenges the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench to say what is his policy, I will tell him frankly what my policy would be, and I should like to know whether it is in accordance with the views of the Government, because we have had no indication yet what are the views of the Government. I would consider what measure of pressure can be exercised upon Japan, if pressure is necessary. I think that about 58.2 per cent. of the exports of Japan come to the United States, to Britain and the British Empire, and to Holland and the Dutch Empire. I say, let these countries, and those which would join with them, France and other countries, which together would probably be the recipients of two-thirds of Japanese exports, refuse to accept them—that is in the last resort. If we did that it would be impossible for Japan to finance the war and to obtain the supplies she needs for her munition factories and for her civilian population and maintain the equipment necessary for her armies. But there is one difficulty. If we did that there are some countries—the right hon. Gentleman may 88 have Hong Kong in mind—which are vulnerable and which may not care to take part in a policy of that kind for fear of retaliation. Therefore it is necessary to have in the background, but I would keep them in the background and regard them as a last resort, adequate forces to resist any counter-action which an aggressor might take in order to break through the ring of sanctions.
§ Mr. Radford
Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that if a certain combination of countries agree that they will not accept any imports from Japan it would still leave Japan free to negotiate with some other countries to take these exports and then re-export them to the markets concerned?
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I think it would be much more difficult for Japan to do that quickly than the hon. Member imagines. I believe that a large number of countries would, in fact, co-operate, and I am fortified in that belief by the resolution passed in the League of Nations condemning the action of Japan. In my opinion that is not the real difficulty with which I am trying to deal. The real difficulty is the possibility of counter-action and there must be behind this effort—it is futile to make it without it—a force sufficient to withstand any counter-attack, a force not to be used for aggressive purposes, but to withstand any counter-attack Japan might make on any country taking part in these sanctions. My order of policy would be, first, a great appeal to Japan and China to accept mediation, to stop the war; to give assurances not only to China, but to Japan, that we realise that she has legitimate grievances against us and against other nations too, and that we will consider these grievances without discrimination and with an intention to remedy them fairly.
That is the first appeal that I would make to Japan. If that appeal fails we must be prepared to exert economic pressure, and that must be supported by a sufficient force to make it effective if it is challenged. Let me say that we cannot act alone, we cannot take the lead in supplying that force. The country which obviously must take the lead in this matter and that is willing to do it, by the speeches of President Roosevelt and Mr. Stimson, must be the United States of America with her immense interests in the Far East and without our preoccupations 89 in Europe. But I beg the Government to make it clear that, if the United States will act, we will stand by them and act with them. It is unfortunate that in the past we have not been successful in obtaining that co-operation with the United States which is one of the dearest objectives in foreign policy of Members in all parts of the House. We failed, not indefensibly, to respond to their overtures at the time of Manchuria, and we failed in the case of Abyssinia when the United States Government was moving in Congress to limit the exports of oil from that country to the presanctions quantity. We are failing to come to an understanding with Mr. Cordell Hull on the problem of economic appeasement.
Let us not fail to seize with both hands this opportunity which President Roosevelt's speech has given us, this glorious opportunity, of lining up with the United States in the defence of the ideals of peace and justice, which are common to our two countries, to France and to all the great democracies of the world. I referred just now to the importance of maintaining the sanctity of treaties, but sanctity is not immutability. I wish I saw evidence that the Government were throwing themselves into the constructive side of peace with the courage which is necessary to satisfy legitimate grievances and meet the needs of expanding nations. Impoverishment, unemployment, insolvency, are the sources of the discontent which is at the root of suspicion and rivalries which ultimately lead to war. Dictators are probably genuine in their belief that wars other than little wars or wars in which they have odds of 4 to 1 on them, are the road to catastrophe. We have got to show them that we want to do justice to all nations and to find guarantees of peace in even justice and common prosperity. Rearmament is indeed necessary, but at least equal energy is necessary in pursuing a constructive policy of peace.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Moreing
As the years pass one is inclined to be cynical and suggest that an advertised crisis induct never takes place and that a much advertised Debate in this House always fails to reach expectations. This afternoon we had a somewhat curious reminder of the importance which some sections of opinion in this House 90 attach to the realities of life when the Leader of the Opposition got up and made as the main basis of his attack the claim that the Foreign Secretary's speech was chiefly concerned with British Imperial interests. It is strange that such a doctrine can be advanced by hon. Members who may be called upon at some time to form the Government of this country. In all questions of foreign policy British Imperial interests—after all we are an Empire—should be paramount in our minds. With this feeling in mind I have listened with a great deal of disappointment to the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), who have devoted so much of their time to considerations arising out of the conflict in Spain, to considerations of humanity, but not to considerations affecting our own flesh and blood.
I should like, with the permission of the House, to go back for a few moments and deal with the question of the Far East, because I think it is of the utmost importance to the men and women of this country whom we represent in Parliament. The Foreign Secretary referred to the fact that a Conference was meeting in Brussels on the 30th of this month of the signatories to the Nine-Power Treaty, to deal with the situation which exists in China, and he has asked us not to embarrass him with too much criticism and not to ask too many questions before he goes to that Conference, but to use what influence we have to ensure that the Conference will go on successfully. That is a perfectly legitimate request, and anything I am going to say, I assure him, will not be said to cause any embarrassment to His Majesty's Government in a very difficult and delicate situation. But I think that in the discussions which will take place in relation to the Far East His Majesty's Government should take up a firmer attitude than in the past.
I do not want to go back to the days of Manchukuo or to deal with all the aspects of the Far Eastern situation, but there are one or two questions which arise owing to the present fighting which is going on in the Far East. The fighting is chiefly in two areas, the area of Northern China, and the area around the International Settlement at Shanghai. As regards Northern China, the only questions I want to put to the Government are 91 these: There has been a continual increase in the past few years of Japanese forces in Northern China. In the agreement which was drawn up after the Boxer rising in 1900 it was agreed that foreign Powers should have the right to maintain certain forces at Peking to maintain communications between Peking and the sea, in case such another rising occurred. For many years the troops maintained by other Powers have been comparatively small in numbers, perhaps a battalion of 700 to 1,000 men, but the Japanese have gradually increased their forces until at the end of July there was at least 7,000 or more troops there.
The forces that remained there under the Protocol were simply and solely for guarding the legations and embassies at Peking and for maintaining the line of communication to the sea. The international forces did not take part in any military manoeuvres. Apart from occasional route marches and similar exercises near the sea coast, they did not take part in military activities. But the Japanese did engage in what were more or less manoeuvres, and they culminated in the incident on 8th July, which led to the military movements in North China. Hon. Members will recollect that on that occasion the Japanese forces were engaged in certain light operations which they said were necessary for their military efficiency and that they were attacked by some Chinese forces. The question I wish to ask is whether the Government have had any information that at the time when the Japanese were engaged in those military manoeuvres they were armed with ball cartridges and were ready to take advantage of any incident that occurred. If that be the fact —and I believe it is—it disposes of the claim of the Japanese that they have been the victims of some malevolent Chinese aggression in North China.
With regard to Shanghai, we have to bear in mind that the International Settlement is not at present part of China. It is an International Settlement which has been granted by Chinese Governments in the past to foreigners and in which foreigners may reside with certain rights of property ownership and with almost a sovereignty of their own, apart from the Chinese regime. The International Settlement is governed by a municipal council which has the right and the duty 92 to maintain order and security in the Settlement, which is inhabited by British, French, Russian and German subjects, and by a large number of Japanese, and others. On 8th August, an incident took place at the Chinese aerodrome outside the International Settlement, as a consequence of which the Japanese Government announced that, in their opinion, the lives of their nationals were endangered and that therefore they must land marines and move their naval forces in order to safeguard their rights. I believe I am right in saying that on Toth August there were in the International Settlement two battalions of British infantry, the municipal council's police force—a highly trained body of 5,000 or 6,000 men accustomed to dealing with local riots—the Shanghai Volunteer Force —a highly efficient body—and some 4,000 Japanese troops. There were also some American and French troops. Thus there were in all about 13,000 or 14,000 troops. What right had the Japanese to assume that the Shanghai municipal council, the lawful Government of Shanghai, could not maintain law and order in the area? I think we have the right to assume that the Japanese were prepared to use any means they could to consolidate their position in Shanghai, and possibly to use the International Settlement for the purpose of outflanking the Chinese forces to the North. What juridical right had the Japanese to land those forces, to invade the International Settlement and to occupy large portions of it, as they are doing at this time?
That brings me to the point that I wish to make concerning British interests. By the Soochow Creek Agreement, the International Settlement is divided into two unequal parts. I have seen many references in the Press to the fact that the Northern area is regarded as the Japanese area, and that in some way the Japanese have a restrictive right. I ask the House to accept the statement, which I think is absolutely accurate, that the Northern area is just as much part of the International Settlement as any other part, and is not predominantly Japanese. As a matter of fact, the Northern part consists of two slightly different components. Towards the river there are the godowns, the mills and the foctories, and behind that part there is a very considerable area which, if I may so put it with all due respect to the inhabitants of 93 suburbs of London, might be regarded as the Balham and Tooting of the International Settlement. There is a very considerable area which is largely occupied by such people as widows of ex-mercantile officers, widows of customs officials, women living on the savings of their husbands or on pensions, who try to supplement their small income by running boarding-houses and apartments for the British employés in other parts of the Concession The area is a sort of residential area for the men and women of small means employed in other parts of Shanghai.
I now come to the point I wish to make concerning the future of these unfortunate people in Shanghai. Hon. Members above the Gangway will acquit me in this of trying in any way to further British Imperial interests; I am endeavouring simply to help the interests of British men and women who are suffering in this conflict in the Far East which they had no part in provoking and of which they are the unhappy victims. How are we to get compensation from either the Japanese or the Chinese Government, if the case should arise, for injuries to our nationals? I understand that the juridical view is that the claims of these people fall under three heads. In the first place, there are those claims that would be good in international law irrespective of the question whether what is taking place in Shanghai and China at the moment is or is not regarded as a war. They are cases of grave looting and outrages of that nature. I believe it is the view of His Majesty's Government that in such cases our nationals are entitled to compensation and that claims will be pressed against the Government of the country which is responsible for the damages.
Secondly, there are those claims that would be good in international law if a state of war existed. In this class there is a certain difficulty in that in many cases military operations may have caused losses to the unfortunate people, but the question arises as to how far the losses are to be attributed to military operations. I believe that the Government are prepared to recognise that such claims would be accepted and pressed by our representatives in the Far East in cases where gross negligence occurred. Thirdly, there is a class of case which affects our unfortunate fellow nationals in Shanghai 94 more than any other: I am referring to claims that are regarded in the ordinary way as war damages. They are claims for which the belligerents would not be responsible if they occurred in wartime, and they refer to damages resulting from indiscriminate shelling, from occupation of territory and requisitioning of premises. I hope I am wrong, but I have information that the Government take up the attitude that in cases of war damages claims, those who suffer are not entitled to and will not receive the support of His Majesty's Government in making their claims for damages, the reason being that this must be regarded as suffering caused as a consequence of war taking place between China and Japan.
I am not sufficiently acquainted with the modern technicalities of international law to know when a conflict is a war and when it is not a war. I believe that the Japanese Government are prepared to shelter themselves behind the claim that there has been no formal rupture of diplomatic relations between China and Japan. That may be so. I do not know whether the Chinese Ambassador is still at Tokyo, and I do not know whether the Japanese Ambassador is still in Nanking arid whether he still regards himself as the representative in China of a friendly country. It matters very little to the unfortunate British subjects who are suffering in Shanghai whether juridical niceties have been observed and whether the bombing, shelling, occupation and military attacks are strictly called war under international law as founded by Grotius, the great Dutch jurist of the r6th and r7th century. I ask the Government to safeguard the interests of our unfortunate fellow subjects who are suffering in Shanghai. I am not now pleading for the big business men, but for the small people. As regards business generally, I imagine that at the moment the damage that is being suffered in Shanghai is chiefly not military damage. I believe that the mills and godowns near the river have not suffered very much; but there is a loss to British trade as a result of the conflict in the Far East.
There is a further point that I wish to make. There is a possibility of one of three things happening as a result of the war in the Far East. The first possibility is a Japanese victory over China. I do not think that is likely to take place, but it may be, as is suggested in a very 95 interesting article in the "Times" newspaper to-day by its Tokyo correspondent, that there will be a peace à la Sadowa rather than à la Sedan, and that as a consequence Japan will establish herself in a strong position in North China, certainly as far as the Yellow River and possibly as far as the Yangtse. The second alternative is that both sides may, in time, come to the end of their resources and find themselves in a condition of stalemate. A further alternative is that China may receive reinforcements and assistance from Soviet Russia. Whichever of these three consequences emerges as a result of the war, the outlook for British interests in the Far East is extremely grave. We do not want to see Japan in effective occupation of Northern China as far as the Yellow River, because we know that, then, trade in that considerable area of China would be barred to our people. We certainly do not want to see both sides exhausted by their efforts, and still less do we want to see—and I say this with all respect to my hon. Friends above the Gangway who still have, I believe, a lingering friendship with Soviet Russia—China falling into the arms of a Power which I, personally, feel is antagonistic to us all over the world.
What then can we do? We can adopt a firm attitude against Japanese aggression in every shape and form. I would remind the house that within the last two or three years the Japanese started a widespread campaign for the protection—in many cases by their armed forces—of smuggling into Northern China. Many questions on that subject were put to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He doubtless remembers the persistence of myself and some of my hon. Friends in pressing for information upon that matter. I believe I am right in saying that when we started a campaign of publicity in this House and in the country in regard to the smuggling in Northern China, the Japanese attitude was simply one of saying that there was no such smuggling at all. But as the months went past, they gradually admitted its existence, and finally they had to admit that there was complicity of Japanese subjects in it. After a campaign of several months in this country, representations were made by the Foreign Office to the 96 Japanese Government and eventually the Japanese reached a stage at which the Chinese Customs were once again allowed to exercise in Northern China the legitimate functions, from which they had been previously excluded by Japanese force. That shows what can be done by taking a firm stand against Japanese aggression.
We are told that the Japanese are a militarist and aggressive nation, ruthless in their commercial methods and a danger to other countries. I believe that they are an aggressive people and that they have a certain commercial ruthlessness in many respects, but I think that if we stood up to them and told them that we regarded their actions as unfriendly and that their aggressiveness compels us to adopt an attitude of coolness towards them, they would begin to realise that it was better for them to be friends with Britain than enemies of Britain. That is what we ought to do and that is the line which I would ask our Government to consider when the Conference assembles at Brussels at the end of this month. Let us say to the Japanese, "We recognise your difficulties and your interests. We recognise your position in having to support your population largely by the export of manufactured articles. But we cannot and will not agree to your constant nibbling away of the territory of China or to your adoption of a position which imperils our interests and is reacting unfavourably on our corr. merce and on the lives of our people at home." That is all I ask the Government to do. They ought to try to co-operate in bringing about a more friendly attitude on the part of Japan, but they ought to end once and for all a policy of useless concession and of giving way to demands for which there is no legitimate ground.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
The hon. Member who has just sat down speaks for a great many people in this House, but I think he ought to understand why we on these benches dislike infinitely the spirit of his speech. "Look after yourself and the devil take the hindmost" is a beastly and selfish policy. We cannot possibly live unto ourselves alone in this world. If England throughout her history had looked after the interests of her own nationals all the time we should not hold the position which we do hold in the world to-day. It is because our policy has been 97 for the most part—certainly during the last century—an unselfish policy, that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs occupies the high position which he holds in the world, and it is because America also has followed that policy, that America is cut out to be our ally in helping, not British subjects, not American subjects but freedom the world over to recover from the troubles of to-day. "Britons mind your own business" is rightly Mosley's slogan. It is stuck up in large letters all over the walls and the offices of his organisation. "Britons mind your own business" is an adaptation of the motto of every dictatorship totalitarian State in the world. Whatever else the Government do, I beg them not to adopt that as their motto, but to retain as their motto the more decent and the Biblical statement that we, like every other people in the world, cannot live unto themselves alone, and that isolation is not merely a bad policy but is also an immoral policy. First and foremost, I think the Secretary of State might do something for the humanitarian reputation of this country. Gijon has fallen to-day. What are we doing to save the people of the Asturias?
§ Colonel Wedgwood
That is excellent, but I wonder what is being done now? The evacuating of the women and children which is jeered at by hon. Members opposite below the Gangway is a good thing though even that is attacked by some hon. Members opposite. What I am thinking of now, however, is what we can do for the people who have been forced to surrender. We know what happened in Bilbao. The terms under which the people in Bilbao surrendered were not kept. Unfortunate people were shot down. I understand that the 70,000 troops who surrendered were decimated, that is to say 7,000 people were shot in that case. But in the case of the Asturias the position will be much worse unless something is done; because the struggle in the Asturias has been going on much longer than the struggle in other parts of Spain. It is in my recollection that about three or four years ago the district 98 of the Asturias was conquered previously. In those days we were not so accustomed to butcheries and other horrors as we are to-day but the butchery in the Asturias then sticks in one's memory.
I remember particularly one incident. The miners were hiding down in the mines and the Government troops drove their prisoners into the cages, cut the wires and dropped the cages on top of the unfortunate people below. If that kind of thing took place in the green wood three or four years ago, then the kind of things which may happen in the Asturias, now that they have once more got these unfortunate miners in their power, will, I fear beggar description. I myself believe that the massacres in Galicia have been worse than those in Andalusia, but now that they have the Asturias in their power the position will be a horrible one for all those working men who are caught. In Bilbao, at any rate, they had to deal with the Italians, and the Italians are more merciful.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I know that the hon. Member's spiritual home is Rome and that anything supported by Rome is supported by him, even stories of Barcelona.
§ Mr. Denville
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman talks about butchery in the North of Spain and blames this Government for not taking action. Surely it is fair to ask him what comments he has to make on the bloody butchery which took place in the Barcelona district.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
Barcelona is a long way from the Asturias, and the atrocities committed by the hon. Member's friends in Abyssinia are probably worse than their butcheries in the Asturias. My first point is: Can the Government do nothing to make the horrors of the surrender in the Asturias less terrible, not merely by bringing away the women and children but by protecting the troops who have surrendered, and, above all, by avoiding the piling up of one horrible tragedy upon another? Each of these horrors invites retaliation, and we have horror piled on horror in consequence. It is this accumulation of atrocities which makes the Spanish situation almost impossible of 99 solution. Speak their mind; that is one thing which the Government might do. They might, perhaps in conjunction with America, say something to make an end possible.
My second point is this. I think the main key of English policy ought to be, and I have little doubt it is, a recognition of the fact that the only way to stop war is the enforcement of the law by law-abiding countries. Every time an international agreement is broken, every time Italy or any other country invades Spain or Abyssinia or anywhere else, contrary to the accepted law of nations, contrary to bargains and agreements entered into openly and voluntarily, it brings war nearer because it shows that the law-abiding countries are afraid and dare not resent such action by those countries which break the law. This doctrine of non-intervention, to which the Government still apparently adhere, in so far as it allows the law to be broken and assists the aggressor and the lawbreaker, is definitely bringing war nearer, because it encourages that action.
The right hon. Gentleman, I know, worries day and night as to whether something he may do or leave undone might cause war, and I sympathise with him in that worry, but I am quite certain that allowing the lawbreakers to succeed, receiving them again on equal terms, accepting their word now that they will withdraw their troops, knowing full well that they will increase the number of their troops while the negotiations are going on—every time the right hon. Gentleman does that, it weakens international law, it weakens the law-abiding and it strengthens the law-breaking nations. Ultimately, it is forcing war upon us, and war when we shall be in a far worse position to make the last stand. So that I would say that non-intervention itself is dangerous.
It is also so unfair that I cannot see how any British Government can really support it. Here we are preventing the Spaniards, who have gallantly defended themselves for the last year and a half, from getting the ammunition and the weapons necessary to defend themselves from an invasion by a Power which has entered into a non-intervention agreement with us. Italy has taken exactly the same covenants and undertakings that 100 France and England have done, yet they are pouring troops and arms into the country, and our non-intervention merely means that the people fighting without boots and food and petrol, fighting without ammunition, fighting with all the desperation of despair, are unable, through our smug hypocrisy, to get the weapons which they need in order to preserve their lives and liberty.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
As long as they could get it from Russia, well and good, but now they can get nothing more from Russia because the Mediterranean has become impossible for Russian ships to traverse. No Russian ships have gone in recently, and I think the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that those ships bringing petrol, which is urgently needed for any form of war, have been sunk.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
How about Germany? Will Germany allow petrol to come from Russia? Even if it could be brought through Germany to France, and then over the frontier, it is only playing with the grievance. Petrol is not a munition of war at all, and it ought to be going freely from Russia into Spain, but owing to the piracy that went on in the Mediterranean, the ships carrying petrol were sunk, and now they cannot get into Barcelona or Valencia because of the submarines working inside the territorial waters and because of the aeroplanes bombing the ports. True, they have got the frontier open for petrol. But shells, heavy guns, or aeroplanes, all the things they most want in Spain at the present time in order to defend their liberties, are shut out by our one-sided intervention, and I say that that is not merely unjust, but it is a scandal on our reputation that we are doing that. I would not mind if we were doing it with France, but we have seen latterly, in the last few weeks, that the French would gladly open their frontiers and allow munitions to go in if they could be bought. But we, for the first time, have been urging France against that policy.
101 I beg the Government to remember that our reputation, if it depends on fairness at all, has a lot to answer for in a non-intervention agreement which is one-sided and which penalises people who are fighting our old fight for liberty. I do not think this country is in favour of nonintervention. The right hon. Gentleman said the whole of this country was behind him, but I do not think it is in favour of non-intervention. I find, wherever I go, that the meeting rises when we denounce the non-intervention policy, and I believe that more and more just those classes who have supported the Government are throwing over this policy because it is so demonstrably false. Every time another detachment of Italian troops goes into Spain, every time Mussolini's son flies over Spain, every time a fresh illustration is given of the way in which Italy disregards entirely the agreement not to intervene, the position of our Government is weakened in the minds of all good men. It is not arguable to say that by international agreement you will help neither side, while you know the other side is being helped, not merely financially, but helped with troops and munitions and everything else by a country bound as we are.
The situation is getting daily worse. There are only two months now before the war must close down, and during those two months fresh Italian troops are supposed to be going in, while 100,000 troops are now freed in the North, all to be thrown upon these half-starved people who are defending the cellars of Madrid and lying in the Sierras of Aragon. All they ask is that they should be able to get the supplies which may save their lives, and liberty in Europe.
Because the Spanish struggle does not affect Spain alone. What happens in Spain affects the whole world. If the dictators win this time, if liberty goes down in Spain, the clock is set for Czechoslovakia to follow suit, and the clock may even be set for France to fall. It has been said that this is an idealogical war. It is certainly not a Spanish war, but it is not an idealogical war either; it is a religious war. It is a war between all those people who believe in liberty and democracy and the old Victorian ideas of justice and fair play, a war between that religion which binds together, not merely the people in this country, but the people in America as 102 well, and the authoritarianism of the dictatorships.
It is horribly like, to my mind, another war, 350 years ago, when the United Provinces were rising against Spain, against the Catholic Church, when Alva was butchering the people in the United Netherlands, just as Franco is doing in Bilbao and Gijon to-day. All that was best in England was asking and begging the Government to give help to the United Netherlands. When Haarlem was falling, when Arnhem defended itself, England stood by doing nothing. But at least the people who were defending themselves in the United Provinces knew they had British sympathy behind them. Queen Elizabeth, very like the present Government, refused to take any action, and it went on year after year. I dare say Queen Elizabeth sympathised to a certain extent with Alva against the Reds, and I dare say that you have in this Cabinet people who sympathise with Franco against the Reds, but in the long run, after William of Orange had been murdered, we were forced to act, and we did act. The most splendid battle in British history was fought at Zutphen, when Sir Philip Sidney died, and in the long run we helped to save Protestantism and the Netherlands. This war that is going on to-day seems to me to be running a very parallel course. The countries that remained Protestant after the Thirty Years War, remain free to-day; and the countries that fell back under the Roman doctrine are the dictatorship countries to-day. Germany then was the battleground; this time it may be France. The danger that affected every Protestant country and every liberty-loving man 350 years ago is with us to-day, and would that the right hon. Gentleman, who has the honour as well as the safety of this country at heart, would believe that he is cast for the role of Walsingham.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander James
I think the speeches from the Opposition to-day show that in our intense preoccupation with foreign intervention in Spain and in the possible dangers that arise from that intervention, we have tended to think of this as a war being fought purely by foreigners on Spanish soil, and I think, working backwards from that, it has tended to obscure our view of the progress 103 of events in the Spanish war itself. I read a few days ago, in a leading Left Wing weekly paper, an article written by someone who had just come back from Valencia, and among statements some of which appeared to be of very doubtful accuracy there was one which was definitely incorrect. The writer said: "We do not know what is happening on Franco's side of the line, because nobody is allowed to go there." When I asked the other day to be allowed to visit the other side, despite the fact of some somewhat doubtful company—from the Salamanca point of view—that I kept in Spain last year, not merely was I allowed to go, but a car was put at my disposal, and I was allowed to take with me an Englishman speaking fluent Spanish—not a minion of the Government at all, but a business man—and I was told I could go anywhere I liked and see anything I liked, and no restrictions of any sort were put upon me. I think I may say that some misapprehensions under which I laboured were dispelled.
As to this question of the withdrawal of Italian volunteers, people who imagine that the total withdrawal of foreign volunteers on both sides is going materially to alter the course of or shorten the war are, in my opinion, for what it is worth, making a great mistake. Anybody in my generation going to Spain must inevitably, when looking at the war there, judge it by the yard-stick of our war, which forms some basis of comparison for argument and comparison. We have tended to forget what an immense line is being held at the present moment. If you take as a basis of comparison our late War, the Spanish conflict is rather in the stage of the end of 1914 or the beginning of 1915. There is this enormously long line extended right across the country, and because Spain is a very big country and the towns are few and far between, unless one looks at the map, one is inclined to forget how long the lines are. The word "line" is unfortunate because it suggests trenches, whereas there are no trenches as we remember them on the greater part of the line. The front to-day is approximately 1,200 miles long, although it is not continuously held. The subsidiary northern front, which appears to haev been liquidated to-day, was something over 500 miles long last May.
104 It is important to appreciate these points because they explain the enormous task confronting both sides, and the immense call on Spanish man power that is being made to-day. It is only when we realise that call that we can get the foreigners in proper proportion. One is often asked, and I have wondered a long time myself, why, if the insurgents of the Salamanca Government started with "the Army," they have not done more by now. In the first place, I, at any rate, have wholly under-estimated the achievements that they have in fact carried out this year on the northern sector—a much bigger chunk of country than I realised. Ten days ago I was on the so-called "iron line" of Bilbao, and I was astonished at its strength—concrete pill boxes, well-sighted deep trenches and so forth. It is a most formidable work, and I marvel that troops could be found to take it.
Another factor which has slowed down the war has been the, to me, unexpected regard that the Salamanca Government are paying to their economic background. As you go about on the Salamanca territory to-day, you cannot fail to be not merely impressed, but astonished, at the ordered way in which industry, such as there is or was, is being carried out and the enormous reserve of active man power which is not being utilised by the army. The explanation which the authorities give—and it appears to be plausible—is, "We have no gold reserve and we cannot fight a war without money and credit, and therefore we have to pay immense attention to economic activity." When Bilbao was captured experts were at once pushed up to reorganise industry, and so on. The test of that is the state of the peseta. The peseta of Madrid has a value to-day of about 250 to the £ sterling; the Salamanca peseta is worth 50 to the £ sterling, and they have no gold reserve behind it. The economic policy of Salamanca derives from a degree of confidence which certainly is rather surprising. To people of my generation talk of winning the war by Christmas has a familiar ring which one tends of discount. Spaniards have always been optimists. Napier somewhere in his history recounts the story of a Spanish general who, at the end of the Peninsular War, had lost 26 consecutive battles, and his morale was entirely unimpaired.
105 Another question is that of the Army. The figures which I am going to give are in the Library, in the League of Nations Armament Year Book, and are worth studying. The pre-war Spanish Army had a peace establishment of 155,000, which included the annual intake of recruits under conscription of about 82,000. The establishment of the Moorish force was about 8,000. Whatever proportion of that army revolted, it would not be an overwhelming force. There were in Spain before this outbreak eight divisions and one independent command. On the outbreak of the revolt in July last year, in three of the nine divisional areas, including Madrid and Barcelona, the two largest cities in Spain, the revolt was completely abortive. In another three it hung in the balance for weeks, and in fact in two cases—Saragossa and Oviedo—the towns are still, after 15 months, invested. In only three out of the nine divisional areas was the revolt a complete success. It is important in trying to judge the military situation to realise that it was, in fact, a relatively small part of a relatively small army that revolted. If that point is grasped a lot that is true becomes more apparent. I said just now that the line has gone right across the peninsula and that now the main front is 1,200 miles long. That occupies an enormous number of men.
In the last 12 months on both sides a strong national spirit has evolved. Whereas Spaniards on each side maintain that but for the foreigners on either side they would win the war, you would get a most convincing reply if you told the troops on either side that they were spectators. Whatever we may think in this House, the Spaniards are under no illusion that it is a Spanish war. From that arises a consideration from which we should derive some consolation, and that is if and when this war ends those foreign auxiliaries who are fighting in Spain will get very much less thanks than they expect. Nobody knows what their numbers are. I think that they have been exaggerated, but we can at least judge what has been the result of these auxiliaries. That is pretty plain. If you examine the course of the war hitherto you will find that there is to the credit of foreign troops fighting in Spain only one momentous achievement, and that was the successful defence of Madrid in October of last year. There have been 106 other fierce engagements fought by the foreign troops, but only as auxiliaries to Spaniards. Another point which is less surprising when you think it out—and it certainly surprised me very much this time—is the realisation that the troops themselves, at any rate on the Salamanca side—and I have no doubt it applies on the other side as well—are thoroughly enjoying the war. The reason is that the standard of living of the average Spaniard before the war was deplorably low—
§ Wing-Commander James
This is the first time I have ever been in agreement with the hon. Member. The war, judged by the yard-stick of the late conflict in Europe, is not for those in the line a particularly dangerous one. The right hon. Member who leads the Liberal opposition talked about the white terror. I bear testimony only to what I actually saw—
§ Wing-Commander James
At the beginning of this month on the Salamanca side of the line. So far as one could see there was a state of complete tranquility. One might be motoring along a road and come to a level crossing where one had to stop for a goods train. One would see nobody but the ordinary driver and guard on the train. There would be no military guard at all. I do not remember seeing anywhere a guard on a railway bridge, road bridge or river bridge. There is no evidence behind the line of a war being on at all. I daresay it is the same on the other side. I honestly believe that we attach far too much importance to the actual effect of the foreign combatants in Spain. I agree that withdrawal is highly desirable, and would obviously be of great benefit in easing the tension in the international situation, but I do not agree that it will affect the issue of the war. If our insistence upon this withdrawal will prevent us moving in other directions which I think are desirable, it would be unfortunate. We must not be misled by the propaganda put out by both sides. After all who are we to complain about inaccuracy of propaganda? Look at our own war and some of the things we believed then? I doubt whether anything which Salamanca or Madrid has put out can be as inaccurate as the ordinary news of the Beaverbrook Press.
107 There is one point I would like to refer to because it has been used so tremendously as propaganda and has prejudiced the view of a great many people in this country, and that is the actual method whereby Guernica was destroyed. A fortnight ago I went to Guernica. To be quite frank, I did not have time to examine the whole town from end to end as I would have liked. That would have taken a day, and I had a couple of hours. I drove into the centre of the town, got out of the car, went by myself straight in front and made a careful survey of the East centre of the town. Guernica is pretty completely destroyed. Guernica was bombed and Guernica was also shelled. I was surprised to find the unmistakable splatter of shrapnel in two places. The fate of Guernica is one which is paralleled unfortunately by a number of villages in that district. It is a fate which, when you examine its strategic position and its military value at the time of its destruction, is in accordance with what you would expect. The fact is that in that part of the town which I did examine in great detail almost the whole of the destruction was done by deliberate simultaneous incendiarism from the inside. That, I am afraid, will annoy some people, but I will state my opinion.
§ Wing-Commander James
I hope in my remarks that I have said nothing in any way to make more difficult or embarrass the efforts of the Foreign Secretary, in whom we all have such complete confidence in all parts of the House, whatever may appear in a debate.
§ Mr. A. Jenkins
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman give the House some definite evidence to support his statement about Guernica? How does he know that it was not incendiary bombs which brought about this destruction?
§ Wing-Commander James
I did not mean to waste the time of the House but I am challenged. Anybody who has spent part of his life, as I have and other Members of this House have, living in towns which were shelled and having seen towns burned, cannot possibly mistake the effect of explosives and burning. You cannot have explosives 108 without a splatter. But I do not want to waste the time of the House with details.
§ Wing-Commander James
I examined houses in Madrid last autumn which had been set on fire by incendiary bombs. In fact, the practice in bombing in the last few months has always been to mix explosive bombs and incendiary bombs. The places I examined bore the marks of the two bombs. If the hon. Member would wish me to do so I will elaborate it some other time, but I am not going to waste time now. I stand by my opinion and the place is there to be examined. The town remains there to be examined by any impartial person to see if I lie.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern
I, in common with a large number of Members, came to the House to hear a statement, especially from the Foreign Secretary and from other representatives of the Government, regarding the crisis that we have been passing through and the danger of world war. I am afraid that when Members express themselves as being disappointed with the statement of the Foreign Secretary it is because they expected too much from him. I came from Scotland last night and this morning at breakfast I read three papers—the "Daily Express," the "Daily Mail" and the "Daily Herald"—and I find from these newspapers just the information that we have had from the Foreign Secretary, and certainly much better put by the ordinary reporters than we have had it put in this House to-day. We have had a great deal of light shed in the House, but it has been by the First Commissioner of Works rather than by the Foreign Secretary. We know that there are two major wars in existence to-day and the question, from the point of view of the Government, should be: How can we bring an end to these wars without getting embroiled ourselves? I attach considerable importance to the keeping out of war entirely, because I am not making any pretence of wanting an extension of the war in order either to assist the Government of Spain or the Government—if it can be so termed—of China. I recognise that there is a tremendous amount of bloodshed and 109 havoc taking place throughout the world, and my training has been such in ordinary political warfare and economics that I do not expect anything other than that from a decaying capitalist system which is staggering from crisis to crisis.
In relation to the Spanish War I had expected one thing from the point of view of fair play, that we should have supported a policy from the beginning of real non-intervention. The non-intervention of the Government has not been nonintervention. Non-intervention has meant complete intervention to the advantage of Franco's side. We insisted when the very first shots were fired in the Spanish conflict that according to international law as laid down by capitalist Governments and politicians, there ought to be a complete access to the markets of the world by the Spanish Government to purchase arms and equipment in order to defend themselves. That has been denied by this false non-intervention policy. The People's Government of France, and indeed the Labour party and trade union movement of this country, supported the policy of non-intervention, and I believe that they intended that it should be nonintervention, but any person realised from the first conception of that idea that the weight was all on the side of Franco. We have, according to a large number of people and the Press, weathered the storm and we have emerged from the crisis. What has been gained? What was happening during the last week? France, we are told, was prepared to open the frontier and to allow the Spanish Government to purchase equipment, and the Foreign Secretary himself said that we were sympathetic if this non-intervention completely broke down and the policy of withdrawal of troops was not agreed to by the Italian Government.
§ Mr. McGovern
I do not want to be unfair, but if the meeting had completely failed last night and the Italian Government had not agreed to some compromise, the British and French Governments felt free to open the frontier and allow aid to be given to the Spanish Government if they so desired. Mussolini comes along 110 at the last moment and says, "That which we attempted previously—to get belligerent rights given to Franco—we now reverse, and we are now prepared to agree to the withdrawal of troops according to a certain plan, and we will have a corn-mission go to Spain to find out how many troops there are on both sides." The net result has been that Mussolini was faced with a possibility of the Pyrenees being opened after last night, and therefore he gains further time in order to make up further tricks in order to evade the withdrawal of these troops from Spain. Does anybody in his senses believe that Mussolini will agree to the withdrawal of these troops from Spain? The hon. Member who spoke last says that the foreign troops do not matter. Mussolini does not think so. Franco does not think so. The military representatives in Spain on the insurgent side do riot think so, because Mussolini was prepared to risk a first class war rather than allow his troops to be withdrawn from Spain, showing the tightening hold they have and the efficient control they have in Spain, and that the insurgents are dependent on these troops for carrying out their battles.
The Foreign Secretary has got to a stage where some people compliment him on having achieved something. He himself is a bit careful in his statement. I admit that. I am not complimenting him on the decision of last night. I say that for the last year roughly this farce of nonintervention has gone on, with the Foreign Secretary tied to the tail of Mussolini, and Mussolini wagging him all over the shop and dusting the ground with him. Mussolini knows only one doctrine, that of force. When the gangsters of America took to the gun in the public street the Government of that country had to adopt the self-same methods to dispose of them. Mussolini to-day has organised the greatest thuggery ever known in history, and I should no more think of believing a statement coming from Mussolini than I would believe the very worst enemy of the people in any part of the world. The man is not capable of telling the truth, and he simply dances from one position to another in order to trick the British Government and the French Government.
I am not concerned about the Government of Spain. I have stated previously that I do not come to this House to 111 plead for the Government of Spain. I desire the Spanish people to have the right to decide their own form of government without foreign intervention or foreign domination, and if they decide as a free choice that they want either a Socialist, a Communist, a Liberal or a Fascist state of society, then their decision is the decision that matters. Therefore, I am against the policy of make-believe which is being pursued, and I say to the Foreign Secretary and to the Prime Minister that every person I come across, no matter of what political conviction, laughs at this fake policy of non-intervention which is going on. The most simple-minded man in politics ridicules the idea of non-intervention, because it has been a complete policy of intervention. If the Foreign Secretary were to say to me, "Do you want us to risk the lives of British people in order to smash Franco and to aid the Spanish Government?" I should say, "No, I do not want you to go to war, but I want you to give the people of Spain the arms to defend themselves and the right of access to the markets of the world." They are an heroic people, who have proved time and again that, though they may be slow in movement, though they may, as we say in Scotland, dilly-dally about their job, yet in the end, when pressed to the wall, display heroism.
The hon. Member who preceded me talked about the order that was to be observed on the insurgent side in Spain. Of course there is order. Where there is terror there is bound to be order, and there has been and is terror. It need not be open terror. I myself was born and brought up as a Roman Catholic. There are some things that are more powerful than military generals, such as the false loyalty of a people to those who are looked upon as their spiritual heads. Those spiritual heads, very often, even from the pulpit, speak not about the spiritual needs of the people, but expound political doctrine in the name of spiritual needs. They dominate people from the pulpit just as much as a military general would dominate them with the butt-end of a rifle or the knout. And the terror becomes more complete because a simple people think that if the bishop or clergyman is supporting such a regime they are bound to defend it upon pain of 112 suffering eternal torment in the world to come.
Military terror and the power of clerical domination are so complete in Spain that we see in the insurgent territory the order of which the hon. Member speaks. He has told us of what he saw on the insurgent side. If he would attempt to prove to me—he did not attempt it, because he said he did not want to waste the time of the House—that Guernica was shelled from the outside and fired from the inside, I say that there are journalists of repute—there are clergymen, even, with all their bias, who have carried to Rome itself the story of the burning of Guernica—who were present when the people had to flee outside the town from the rain of bombs which was taking place. The people had to flee to the fields to escape the bombing and the terror. I am not convinced, and shall not be convinced by what the hon. Member says, because the people who were there during the bombing are the people who ought to know what took place.
The war in Spain originated, as we all know, because of the fear of the old feudal and industrial aristocracies. After the result of certain elections they thought there would be tremendous changes, and therefore they declared for a civil war. The leader of the Basques put it very simply when he said "We would never have had civil war in Spain if the capitalist class and the landlords of Spain had been able to retreat like the English Conservatives and had given the people certain constitutional power." He said that if they had been treated in this way there would have been no civil war in Spain, but there was dead opposition to every demand of the people for social change and therefore the civil war came. The question is. Is there any prospect of bringing the civil war to a close? That it is a most difficult situation I am prepared to admit, because I have always maintained—we of this party have always maintained, and that is why I have disagreed with the Labour party on many occasions—that if intervention is demanded this country must have arms in order to take part in that intervention.
§ Mr. McGovern
My hon. Friend had better read some of the speeches of his leader. I will not tell him which leader, of course, because they are all speaking with different voices, but those who have been accepted as the party leaders have said, "Let us apply pressure to the insurgents." I am not going to mislead either myself or the people I represent. I say that the only doctrine that Mussolini knows is the doctrine of force. If we say to Mussolini, "You must withdraw these troops, and if you do not we will use our power to see that supplies are cut off, and we are prepared to use every form of pressure against you," then Mussolini will be driven into an enlarged war. Am I going to support that enlarged war? Am I going to advocate that the people of Britain must go into Spain and fight on behalf of the Spanish Government? Am I to say that they are to go into China and fight for the Chinese? Am I to say that they are to go into Abyssinia and fight on behalf of the Abyssinians? In every single dispute which arises in the world, am I to advocate that our workers are to go there and use rifles and bombs to extend the fury and terror? The test is, "Am I prepared to go myself?" and I say "No." I am not prepared to go, and I am not prepared to urge any other man to do that which I am not prepared to do myself.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Has the hon. Member's party been prepared to send volunteers from this country to Spain?
§ Mr. McGovern
No, my attitude is perfectly plain. From the class point of view I want the workers of Spain to win, and any man who wants to go to Spain to fight is entitled to go to Spain to fight. But we are not dealing with people who have gone from Italy and Germany and Morocco. We are dealing with organised forces, organised by a government and sent there, with all their equipment, which is quite a different thing. Free men can go into any war they desire. I want to see the people of Spain winning, but there is a struggle to take place in this country also and my duty is to take part in the general struggle of the working class in this country at the same time as I wish the people of Spain to win. I say to the hon. Member that the situation is so changed in Spain to-day that ulti.mately it may not matter which side wins, 114 because the position has been so compromised and so seriously endangered, even from my point of view. What I want is that the people of Spain should have the same right as the people of Great Britain to decide their own affairs. They are not being allowed to decide their own affairs to-day, and therefore I am taking exception to the position.
Then there is the other war, the war between Japan and China, the war of aggression. We have always seen in capitalist history that there were certain rival and Imperialist groups. We all know that Japan and Italy and Germany are one group, and that France and Britain are the other. France and Britain have colonial power, Japan and Italy and Germany have not colonial power. Therefore, if war were to take place to-morrow, if Britain went into the Spanish struggle I do not believe that it would be to assist Spain. I believe it would be, as many Members have said, to defend the interests of Great Britain. And what are the interests of Great Britain? The interests of Great Britain are colonial power. If world war emerges before this situation is through, which God forbid, then every man from this country who dies will die because the British Government wanted to exploit the black and yellow labour of the colonies, and the Germans and the Italians, and probably the Japanese, want to capture that labour and exploit it. It is not going to be a war in self-defence or for the defence of our homes.
Within the last month 1 have listened to or read speeches which have almost made me physically sick. One member of the Labour party said recently, "We are against Fascism; we want to down the dictators." I heard him say the same things in 1914. Then it was a war to "down" the Kaiser, to destroy the dictatorial power of the Kaiser and to free the people from the menace of militarism. To-day there is greater dictatorial authority in Germany than we ever imagined then, a military power more complete, more menacing and more terrifying than in 1914. Are we always to be drawn into this struggle of defending Imperialism with the false idea that we are defending our homes against the terror of other people? The Japanese have attacked China to-day with more modern methods than we used when we 115 attacked Africa, Egypt and other parts of the world. This country cannot don the cloak of purity and assume that it was not the Mussolini of the past. We have been the Mussolinis and the Hitlers of the past. I am reminded of what an old woman in my division said in 1914. She said: "You know, John, this is a terrible war. The Boer war was a nice war, it was plain shooting and killing, but this war is bloody murder." And I agree. The sentiment expressed was that war becomes more horrifying and more terrifying. By the use of machinery the nations are almost throwing iron foundries at one another in order to destroy human life, but we stand by, like the old man who had lived a riotous life but when he reached the age of 80 years began to preach the gospel to the younger generation. We have used the self-same methods, although not with the same instruments. Do not forget what the ruling class of this country have said. I remember Lord Hunsdon said at a London dinner, at the time of the coal stoppage, that he would starve the miners into surrender or starve them to death. That is the spirit of Fascism. It is the expression of the deterioration of the capitalist system.
The reason you have not had Fascism in this country is that you have not needed it, but there is no proof that you will not go into Fascism when your institutions fails to function, or when there is financial collapse or crisis in a period of war. In such a time you would come out as Fascist dictators, when the discontent existing in the country because of your sedition Acts would cause you to apply them in a more rigid manner. I believe that we are driving ultimately towards the abyss and that, as has been prophesied, the system is going down in a tremendous struggle, in a huge blood bath, and in poverty, unemployment and desolation. Terror is being rained from the skies. Think of the people of Spain and China running into underground tunnels and cellars in order to try to save their lives against bombs that can wreck the places from floor to ceiling. Bombs of 500 lbs. weight are dropped from 2,000 ft. and have an impact force of 350 tons, and when they reach the building they completely burn it out together with all the lives in it. Do hon. Members think that I would talk glibly about this country going into a struggle of that kind? 116 I say that the struggle of the people of the world is the struggle against poverty, and is an internal one.
If Germany and Italy go to war I believe that Hitler and Mussolini will sign their own death warrants. They now have a small mobile fighting force, well fed, trained and equipped, which they can throw from place to place, terrifying people with oppression and torture, but in the end, if they go to war, they must hand rifles to the Communist, the Socialist, the trade unionist, the co-operator, the Catholic and the Jew, who have all been treated in abominable fashion. On that day they will hand out power to the rank and file, and—who knows?—Hitler and Mussolini may lead the people into war, but the social revolution may lead them out of war and to a new era of society.
Because of the tremendous struggle taking place, there is a false gospel going round in this country. It is that if war comes it will between Fascsm and Democracy. I do not believe it. The people of Newfoundland, who have five financial dictators, are as much under Fascism as the people of Germany, and the people of India are as much under British Fascism as the Germans and Italians are under German and Italian Fascism. I therefore say that I am not prepared to take part in or to advocate the extension of this struggle. If the struggle develops it will not be for the interests of the working class but for the defence of the Imperial rights of the ruling class. Therefore, I do not encourage going to war, but I say that in the Government's present policy they are pursuing a sham non-ity:ervention policy. Assuming that in the end General Franco wins completely in Spain, you will then have a problem, because you will have Franco, Hitler, Mussolini and Japan all against you, Portugal, which is really a Fascist State, and several other Continental nations which are sympathetic to Fascism. Then, when your Imperial interests are seriously challenged, you will ask the people of this country to march in order to defend those interests which to-day you neglect.
From two points of view, both yours and my own, I say to the British Government that you are pursuing a wrong policy when you refuse to the Spanish Government the right to purchase arms in the open market in order to defend 117 themselves. Spain has endured a night of torture, terror and despair. For some time people have said that this was a war between religion and Communism, but they forget that years ago people were suffering under the Inquisition in Spain. They forget the ticking clock that slowly penetrated the bridge of the nose until the eyes were torn out, and the living men left hanging from their hands 30 feet in the air till their limbs were torn out from their very shoulder blades because they were dangerous to the ruling class. They forget the dripping tap, the molten lead and the tongues torn out. People who say there is terror and cruelty in Spain should remember that Spain has been gradually emerging from the cruelty, terror and torture of the past. Instead of giving them the instruments of Government when the people demanded social reform, the Spanish ruling class kept them in a nightmare of torture and despair for which they are now paying the price in devastated cities and fields throughout the length and breadth of Spain.
My sympathies ale with the common people every time because they are down in the gutter striving for expression and for a way out. In this struggle, you are thinking only of your selfish, soulless material interests. If the Empire is in danger you will throw the whole of your man-power into the scales. I do not ask you to go into every struggle, but to shorten it by all means. In the end, you will realise that you are acting contrary 1:o your own interests by allowing this false policy of non-intervention to operate in Spain. It is a policy to assist Franco instead of to prevent the extension of the Fascist power of the world.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I have listened, as I always do, with the very greatest interest to the eloquent speech which we have just heard. I think I understand the hon. Member's complaint against the Government; he regards this Government as a capitalist one, and I do not doubt that he thinks its policy must be one of which he would disapprove. The ground of complaint against the foreign policy of the Government which the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal party wish to express leaves me, on the other hand, quite at a loss. What is it that they would do differently at this moment, either in regard to Spain or to 118 the Far East? The Leader of the Socialist party was placed in so great a difficulty in attempting to attack the Government's actual policy that he did what is rare in him, because he is a fair-minded man; he completely misrepresented the policy of the Government. Let me give an example.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Foreign Secretary had treated China and Japan throughout as two Powers on a level and of equal merit, and in contrast to that attitude, which he thought disgraceful, he read a resolution of the League of Nations, which he approved. He omitted to notice that my right hon. Friend expressly said, regarding that resolution, that he endorsed every word of it. Are not hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite aware that this country played its part in drawing up that resolution and subscribing to it? Does the right hon. Gentleman not know that but for this country having agreed to this resolution the resolution could never have become a resolution of the League of Nations? If hon. Members opposite will consider those facts they will see how wrong it is to suggest that the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have put these two Powers on a level.
I turn for a few moments to the difficult problem of Spain. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) said quite truly that he has always been. against non-intervention. That attitude we all understand, although we differ from it. Let me deal with the attitude of those who are in favour of non-intervention. They desire, as we all do, that that policy should be effective. What were the two main objects of that policy? The first was to prevent the danger—the very real danger—of the appalling war which is raging in Spain becoming a European conflagration. The second was to ensure that the struggle in Spain should be determined by the Spanish people alone. The first aim has been achieved, and the second has not been achieved, as we all know. There is no quarter of the House which does not desire withdrawal of foreigners to be effected, or which would not like to remedy the present situation. What is the most hopeful method of remedying it? The Leader of the Opposition told us, as did the right hon. Baronet the Leader of the Liberal party, that they agreed, 119 in the light of the events of yesterday, that our object may at last be achieved. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary guarded himself against excessive optimism, and that view has been taken in every quarter of the House. They both admit that as a result of the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government and the events of yesterday there is a chance of the objects which we all have at heart being achieved.
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not know which is the right hon. Member's view. At any rate there is a chance of it being achieved. Let me turn to what could happen if the policy of the Leader of the Socialist party had been adopted. He said that he would be against considering the granting of belligerent rights in any circumstances whatever until the foreigners had been withdrawn from Spain, but everyone knows that if that policy had been adopted and if we refused even to consider the question of the granting of belligerent rights at all until that happened, it would lead at once to the breakdown of the Non-Intervention Agreement.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am much obliged for the support of the Communist Member. He desires that result, but I cannot understand such a line being taken by those who pretend that they do not desire it. It would lead to the complete breakdown of the Non-Intervention Committee. If the Committee broke down, whatever else we should secure, it would not be the withdrawal of the volunteers. Whatever else happened, the policy demanded by the Leader of the Socialist party could not conceivably effect the withdrawal of the volunteers, which may be the effect of the policy pursued by His Majesty's Government.
There are two other very puzzling features about this attitude of the Leader of the Opposition. The reason he gave in his speech this afternoon for his opposition to considering the grant of belligerent rights in any circumstances before all volunteers had been withdrawn, was that until that happened it would not be known whether General Franco had any forces at all. That 120 is a very curious reason, if one examines it. If he had no forces at all, and could not do anything, why should there be such a tremendous risk if he were granted belligerent rights? A man without any man-power at all is not a very dangerous belligerent. There is another reason why this attitude is extraordinarily puzzling, and I invite Members in all quarters of the House to consider it. If non-intervention were to break down, what do those who desire it to break down imagine would succeed it? The only suggestion that I have heard from any Member on the Opposition benches was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who said that, instead of this policy of non-intervention, we should have a policy of neutrality. That is understandable, and means something, but, unfortunately, he went on to make a very strange suggestion. Having appealed to the Government to get back to international law, he made a proposal which no international lawyer had ever heard of since the world began, namely, that we should have neutrality, but should not give belligerent rights. How on earth you are to be neutral between two parties who are not belligerents I have not the slightest idea, and no indication was given by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Strauss
The word "neutrality" in international law has no meaning whatsoever except as between belligerents. If you refuse to grant belligerent rights, the term "neutrality" has no meaning whatever in law, and I was dealing with law. If, however, the hon. Member wishes to pursue the matter, he can refer to any work on law and he will find that I am right. The other thing that puzzles me in connection with this question of belligerent rights is why Members on the Opposition side so frequently talk about the policy of giving belligerent rights to General Franco. Why do they not speak of giving belligerent rights to the Valencia Government? If belligerent rights are given to one party, they are given to both. As a result of the policy of His Majesty's Government in keeping the Non - Intervention Committee alive hitherto, which was only possible by holding out the possibility of belligerent 121 rights, they may achieve what I believe Members in every part of the House desire, namely, that the war shall not spread, and that foreigners shall be withdrawn from Spain. They may not succeed in that, I agree, but, on the other hand, they may. The policy advocated by the Leader of the Opposition, of refusing to consider the grant of belligerent rights, would not only bring down the policy of non-intervention, but, as a consequence of that, would almost inevitably lead to the grant of belligerent rights, which is the one thing that the right hon. Gentleman says he wishes to avoid.
The Leader of the Liberal Opposition, I think, complained that pressure had been brought to bear on the French Government by the British Government not to open their frontier, and that that accounted for a recent change in French policy. That statement was applauded by Members of the Socialist party, but it is interesting to note that the "Daily Herald," a paper, I believe, for which some of them have a certain respect, denied that statement entirely a few days ago, and said that what it deplored as a change of policy came from the French Government, and the French Government alone. The matter was also dealt with in an intervention by the Foreign Secretary.
Let me turn now to the appalling problem of the horrible war which is raging in the Far East. There, as I understand it, the complaints that have been made against His Majesty's Government are two. In the first place it is said—the charge seems almost too absurd—that His Majesty's Government are responsible because they encouraged the Japanese Government in 1931–32. That, I understand, is one charge. The second charge is that they have not indicated to-day precisely what they are going to say, or even—I want to be fair to the Liberal Leader—the policy that they are going to put forward at the Brussels Conference. While I regard the first of these charges as entirely false, the second I regard as true, but consider that the Government are entirely right. I wonder how many of the hon. and right hon. Members who make these charges have looked up the Debates that took place on the position in 1931–32, or any record of events then or have even read Mr. Stimson's book. [interruption.] I agree that some of them have read it. I 122 think that anybody who reads Mr. Stimson's book will come inevitably to two conclusions. The first is that no power whatever—and here I think I shall have the agreement of the hon. Member for Shettleston—could have stopped the Japanese in 1931–32 except force; and the second is that there is no evidence whatever, from the beginning to the end of that book, that the American Government was ever prepared to join in the application of force. When charges are made against this country and against the League of having failed to stop Japanese aggression in 1931–32, it is really important, if we wish to be honest realists, to remember some of the vital facts of the situation.
The first fact was that, for anything that was to be done in the Far East, the Powers whose collaboration was most essential were Russia and the United States, and neither of those two Powers was, at the time in question, a member of the League of Nations. I think I am right in saying that during the whole course of those operations China never withdrew its Ambassador from Tokyo, and Tokyo never withdrew its Ambassador from China. Had the League proceeded, as some hon. Members opposite now think that they would have wished, to say that Japan had been guilty of resorting to war in disregard of its covenants within the meaning of Article 16 of the Covenant, what would have been the immediate result? Japan would have done that which throughout that war she did not do—she would have declared a blockade of China; and from that blockade the League Powers would have been absolutely impotent to rescue China. The Swiss Navy would not have been much good. The only Navy that could conceivably have done anything in that quarter of the world would have been the British Navy, and the only conceivable base would have been Singapore, against the creation of which Members both of the Liberal Opposition and of the Socialist Opposition continuously protested at that time. To speak of restraining Japan at that time is to speak of what everyone knows, if they study the position, was absolutely and entirely impossible.
Hon. Members to-day have taken, quite sincerely I am certain, the example of the Nyon arrangement, and have used it as an example of what the democratic 123 Powers can do when they know their own mind and are prepared, and have contrasted that with what they regard as the weakness of our foreign policy in other instances. But, of course, the whole point was that in the Mediterranean we and the French, with the other nations which were content to agree with us, had the power to stop the piracy, and we knew it before we made the arrangement. In the Far East we had no such power to stop Japan in 1931, and what power there may be to-day it is quite impossible to say until the Conference has met.
I willingly give the Leader of the Liberal Opposition credit for sufficient generosity not to assume at this moment that the policy of His Majesty's Government at that Conference is going to be one of which he disapproves, but he asks: Why do you not tell us precisely what you are going to do? As a reason why that would be a right policy he says that it would be following the lead of various speeches that have been made in the United States. Curiously enough, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, as an example of an extremely clear statement in a speech made in America, the suggestion that we should "ostracise" Japan. I do not quite understand this example of clarity. Although I am not entirely familiar with modern American in all its phases, I do know that ostracism is a thing that you can only do to your own citizens.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
It was not as an example of clarity that I mentioned it, but as an example of the support that President Roosevelt was obtaining in the United States.
§ Mr. Strauss
The meaning of President Roosevelt, although it may be entirely obvious to the right hon. Gentleman, is a matter of dispute in every newspaper in America and among all their public men. I suggest to Members in all quarters in the House who are, I believe, as eager as we are on these benches that this country and the United States should act in concert, that the best possible way of dealing with that speech of the President was to do as the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary did—to welcome it, to say that we would co-operate, to get into touch with that Government and other Governments by diplomatic means, and 124 not to make, before the Conference met, any premature statement of our own policy which might exacerbate feeling in the United States and prevent them from following the President's lead. I am sure that the Leader of the Liberal party, if he has followed, as he must have, the extreme difficulty that any public man in America has in getting that great people to come out of isolation, will agree that the very worst thing the Foreign Secretary of this country could do would be to announce to-day in the House of Commons what we were going to do at that Conference, with the risk that as a result there might be such a reaction of opinion in America against the President involving himself in anything put forward from Europe as would kill the prospect of co-operation, and would prevent the very results which the right hon. Gentleman, in his generosity, would be the first to welcome. I do not know how often the right hon. Gentleman has himself been in the United States but I can imagine nothing more likely to prevent any cooperation whatever between this country and the United States than for this country to announce the detailed policy it was going to put forward at that Conference before it had obtained the views of the United States. I do not believe anything could be more statesmanlike than the policy of the Government in not announcing beforehand their attitude to questions which will come up at that Conference.
Let me refer in passing to resolutions on the subject of Japan and China particularly from a body led by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, generally known as the "Council of Faction." These advocate policies quite irrespective of the effect they would have upon the unfortunate Chinese people.
We have had suggestions that everything would be quite all right if this country would only use the League of Nations to the full. Before we adjourned for the long vacation I received, and I expect many hon. Members received, long resolutions from Socialist and other bodies with regard to Spain. The two points which they put forward in a single letter were, first, that it was quite clear that Italy was determined to break every law and disregard every treaty in order to bring about the triumph of one party in Spain, and, secondly, that it was the obvious 125 duty of this country to refer the Spanish war to the League of Nations under Article XI of the Covenant. Either of these propositions singly might conceivably be argued, but together they were complete and absolute nonsense. The Council of the League can do nothing under Article XI unless they are unanimous. Since Italy is a member of the Council, if what was said in the beginning of the letter was correct, it was quite obvious that the Council could do nothing which the writer desired. Actually a very interesting thing occurred. The politicians who are constantly speaking against the policy of the Government are always praising the little nations in contrast to the great nations such as our own. The Spanish question was referred to the League this summer and the Resolution in which the great Powers concurred, and which would have been welcomed by the Socialist Opposition, was not passed because of the refusal of Portugal and Albania to concur.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am very grateful for that interruption because it exactly illustrates my point. The moment one of the small nations uses the powers which it possesses under the Covenant of the League, it is exposed to the insults of the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am not concerned whether the hon. Member is right or wrong. What he cannot do is to say that and then to say that the only thing that is necessary is to refer a matter to the League of Nations. He cannot hold those two propositions simultaneously unless he is more muddleheaded than I am prepared to believe.
In the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Socialist party and also in the Socialist pamphlet on foreign policy it has been explained that there are really three aggressor Powers who will probably band together and that the rest of the nations should band together against them. That policy is rejected by His Majesty's Government and rejected, I think, with the overwhelming approval of the people of this country. It is also worth noting that it was unanimously rejected by the Imperial Conference that met in London this summer.
Some of our Dominions have Governments which for certain purposes Members 126 of the Opposition think are Socialist Governments, or they so describe them. What is curious is that the Opposition advocate policies here which are not only rejected by the mass of the people here but also by those Socialist Governments in the Dominions. The difficulties of the Foreign Secretary are great enough without our putting additional difficulties in his way. In the case of Spain the policy of nonintervention which he has consistently pursued has admittedly prevented the danger of a great and immediate European war. It may still achieve the withdrawal of volunteers and foreign forces. In the Far East the policy endorsed by the League in a Resolution in which this country took a leading part is to have its sequel at Brussels, and instead of calling on the Government to takes steps which would endanger the co-operation of the United States, we should wish the Government good fortune in the course which they are taking and hope that it will lead to the solution which the League and the Government desire.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Fletcher
I feel that the two or three relatively unimportant Members of the Government who do not happen to be here to-night will be very gratified to read to-morrow that the foreign policy of the Government enjoys the complete support of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. Their policy usually enjoys his support, and I think we may take it for granted it will continue to do so on any conceivable subject which may arise. I think he rather overdoes the adulation, because I find it difficult to believe that any Government, even a Socialist Government, could be so perfect and impeccable. The hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) is not in his seat. If he were I should ask him to accept my apologies for not happening to have been here at the beginning of his speech. I came in when he was referring to the bombing of Guernica. I feel he was trying to give an objective account of what he had seen and what he honestly believed had taken place there. The House is indebted to any hon. Member who does give such objective accounts in relation to important matters of which they have first-hand knowledge, but if the House will allow me I would like to read a short passage from another, I think, completely 127 impartial observer. It is contained in an article in the "Sunday Times" of last Sunday, and I think the writer is completely impartial, though it is easy to see he is not a partisan of the Spanish Government. He says:When I arrived in Salamanca a Press officer asked if I had been subjected to the Guernica propaganda, declaring that everyone knew that Guernica was not bombed by the Whites but burned by the Reds. He offered to drive me up there so that I could see tor myself. Accompanied by the Press officer I went up to (an old man) and asked him if he had been in Guernica during the destruction. … He waved his arms in the air and declared that the sky had been black with planes—' aviones,'he said, 'Italianos y Allemanes.' The Press officer turned pale. 'He's a Red,' he said.We talked to two more people and they both gave us the same story about the aeroplanes. Later in the day we ran into two of General Davila's staff officers. Guernica; full of Reds,' he said; 'they all try to tell us it was bombed, not burned.' Of course it was bombed,' said one of the staff officers. 'We bombed it and bombed it and bombed it, and, bueno, why not?' The Press officer never mentioned Guernica againI think it is only right that the House should have that account to set alongside the account given by the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough.
Whatever may be the bona fides of the latest Italian offer, there is no doubt that it has had the effect of slightly taking the steam out of the Debate. The Foreign Secretary's speech was not one of his greatest efforts. It seemed to fall a little flat. He excused himself by saying that he had recently spoken in North Wales. I hope for the sake of North Wales he spoke a little better there than he did today. He spoke as a tired, detached observer dealing with facts for which he had no responsibility whatever. I did, however, notice a significant change of front. He has frequently told us before that his policy was based completely on the Covenant of the League of Nations. To-day he changed his tune and told us his policy is based on force, and with that in view he welcomed the rearmament that is going on. At one time I believe the Foreign Secretary attributed the so-called non-intervention policy to the French. He said they originated it, but that if they had not done so he would have been very proud to have thought of it and to have sponsored it. I wonder if he has ever asked any official at the Foreign Office to 128 prepare for him a memorandum on the fruits of this so-called non-intervention policy. As a result of it a war which impartial and competent military observers believe would have been over in a very few months—three months and five months have been mentioned—has dragged on interminably. In June last the number of killed was put as high as 1,000,000. It is pointed out, too, that the number of deaths and casualties among the civilian population is higher than in any other war of which we have record.
Under the guise of non-intervention, foreign intervention has increased immeasurably the bitterness and the cruelty with which the war has been waged. The non-intervention policy has deprived a fellow-State member of the League of its rights in international law. Over and over again this non-intervention policy, as has been proved in this House, has operated to the benefit of the rebels in Spain and against the Government; and in saying that, I rather wish I had used instead the words, that it has operated to the benefit of one side in Spain and against the other, because I do not want to take any part in the angry, partisan and hitter violence which is aroused in this House by people who take one side or the other. The most ardent believers in the non-intervention policy would wish that it had operated fairly and impartially between the two sides in Spain, but there is a damning record of facts which prove that, on the contrary, it is operated to the benefit of one side and against the other.
Look at some more fruits of what we call non-intervention. The troops on one side in Spain are admirably equipped with all the munitions, uniform and equipment and everything they could wish to have, but troops on the other side are fighting in sand-shoes. There is another result of how non-intervention works out. The policy of non-intervention means that while you have Italy always persisting in the Non-intervention Committee that she was the first to propose withdrawal, and she has always been the first to say that there should be no foreigners in Spain, at the present moment 50,000 or 60,000 Asturian miners are under threat of massacre at the hands of Italian troops. There is another result of your non-intervention policy. The 129 non-intervention policy has kept the whole of Europe trembling and in fear of war ever since it was introduced. Here at home, if we are to take stock of our own domestic position, it is a policy which has brought about the most humiliating series of diplomatic snubs, insults and defeats which this country has ever experienced at the hands of other European countries.
I dare say that there are many Members in this House who, like myself, sometimes indulge in those amusing speculations which arise from imagining that people who in fact lived at widely differing periods of time had happened to be contemporaries. Thinking of that, and of a play which is running in London at the present time about the life of Queen Victoria, I wish that events had so fallen out that one scene in that play might represent the present Foreign Secretary reporting daily to Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort upon the proceedings of the Non-Intervention Committee. I do not think he would have enjoyed listening to the comments of Disraeli's Fairy. I have heard several Members to-day use an expression we have often heard when the House reassembles. They say "Back to school," or "It is the beginning of term," or something like that. When I heard that, the thought passed through my mind that, when I was at school and used to read magazines and stories of school life designed for school boys, a great character in the school story was always the comic foreign language master—the French master or the German master. Whenever he began his lesson it was the sign for a wild outbreak of animal spirits on the part of his class. No one ever paid any attention to the lesson or ever did the impositions he might set them. No one stayed in if he was given a detention or in any way look any notice of the foreign language master.
I feel that now it is the English lesson which is the signal for fun and games in the European class. When the British Foreign Secretary gets up to give his lesson or his lecture to the European class the boys start in on him. He tells Italy to stop bullying Spain Minor, but Italy never dreams of stopping. The other days the Foreign Secretary set Germany some homework. He sent them a long questionnaire but they never did it. Japan puts stink bombs in China's desk 130 and the class room is filled with appalling smells. The Foreign Secretary says, "Play the game, Japan," but Japan doesn't. And so it goes on. It is curious what a change has taken place, but it is the English lesson which causes mirth nowadays.
Now we have this terrific declaration of the Foreign Secretary. It is like the curate who said, "Really, if you do not stop it, I shall really have to consider giving you quite a hard shove." The Foreign Secretary has now come down and said that we are not indifferent to the fate of the British Empire. That is what he went to North Wales to say, and what he has repeated in this House; that His Majesty's Government are not indifferent to the fate of the British Empire. Is it not terrific? I am afraid that the trouble is that we have a very indifferent policy and a very indifferent Government to carry it out; that is the real trouble. I sincerely hope that this Italian offer is made in good faith. Like everybody else in this House, I shall rejoice if it is. But may we-not ask the head of the Italian Government at once to give some evidence of good faith? Let us admit that for certain reasons he cannot withdraw his troops, or, as it is more polite to say, his volunteers, at present, but he could at once begin to show respect for the decencies of international relations. I, like other Members, have read the report that his son, who, we know, perfoimed those desperate dare-devil deeds against the Ethiopian air force, has gone to Spain. Is not that outraging the decencies of international relations when the head of a Government, who pretends to be co-operating with other Governments to achieve the withdrawal of foreign troops from Spain, allows his own son to go to Spain to take part in the fighting?
There is another thing he might do as an evidence of good faith. He might slop the recrudescence of Italian propaganda in Palestine. I understood that we had an undertaking from him before the House rose. In fact I came down here with a great speech to make about Italian propaganda, and I did not make it because I was told that he had given an undertaking to stop it. I feel very disappointed. I feel that I was cheated out of making that speech. At any rate, as an evidence of good faith, let him stop this propaganda in Palestine. As another 131 evidence of good faith, let him stop the anti-British propaganda in the Italian Press. The Italian Press is officially controlled. There is a particular space in the "Popolo d'Italia," which is reserved for articles which, though not signed, are known to be written by the head of the Italian Government. He might stop writing bitter articles in the "Popolo d'Italia" directed against this country.
I see that he wrote one the other day about the affair of the "Basilisk." While I quite think that the commanding officer of the "Basilisk" has a good deal to explain as to why he thought his ship was being attacked by submarine, yet I do not think that that is any reason why the head of a foreign Government who promised in an agreement signed in February to refrain from propaganda, should publish an article accusing the captain and crew of the "Basilisk" of being drunk and thinking they were attacked by a submarine. If any one is drunk, I know who it is. It is the head of the Italian Government. He is drunk with vanity, drunk with arrogance, drunk with megalomania, drunk with pride of power, reeling along and, unfortunately, I am afraid he may bring the Italian people to grief and collapse with himself. He could give us an assurance about the Asturian miners, as a proof of good faith. He could also give us a proof of good faith about the Balearic Isles. Is it consistent with the gentleman's agreement that Italian troops should be there? As a proof of good faith he might evacuate those islands, if he cannot give some good reason why Italian troops should be in the Balearic Isles. Let us have some of these proofs of good faith, and then we shall have more confidence than we have at the present time about the outcome of these latest proposals of his.
If things go wrong, if, unluckily, we are disappointed and if we find that these proposals have only been made in order to cause delay, I hope the Government will pluck up courage and do what the people of this country have a right to expect them to do, and that is to publish all the facts and figures about Italian intervention and Italian performances in Spain and the Balearic Isles. Every time last Session that we asked the Foreign Secretary whether any Italian troops had landed in Spain, whether 132 there were any Italians in Majorca, or if there were any guns mounted opposite Gibraltar, he always said he had no information. He always gave us to understand that even if the Italians were doing something out there, other countries were doing just as much. Generally, he defended the Italians from such allegations, told us there was not much, if anything, in them, and that we must not believe all that we read in the newspapers. Why we should not believe the reports in reputable papers like the "Times," the "Manchester Guardian," the "Daily Telegraph," and so on, as well as we can believe what we are told by the Government Front Bench, I have never been able to make out.
After listening to all these excuses and this special pleading on behalf of Italy by the Foreign Secretary, when the House rose I went over there and sat in the Piazza in Venice and heard the newsboys crying for three hours the news of the "Great Italian triumph at Santander," although according to our Foreign Secretary no Italian troops were there and we must not believe what we had heard about them being there. Whenever anyone stands up for righteousness or says a word in defence of decency in international relations, they are always told that they are asking for war. Does anyone think that Italy could undertake a major war at the present time, with one parcel of troops locked up in Abyssinia, another in Libya, and a third in Spain and only four battleships in her Navy? How does anyone imagine that Italy is in a position to undertake a major war? I have just come back from that country and I know that the Italian people have a far sounder instinct where this country is concerned than Mussolini. They have no wish to find their country coming into conflict with ours. They know it would not be healthy.
The Government keep on saying: "We are keeping out of war." They are like a lot of sheep going along the road to the slaughterhouse and saying: "We are keeping out of war, because we are not baa-ing at or butting the butcher." Of course, you can keep out of war if you abandon all you have and all you believe in. We can go on saying that we are keeping out of war until the last square foot of the British Empire has been given away or taken. Why 133 should it be said that we are risking war in standing up for what we believe to be right and what other countries believe to be right while the dictators are able to tear up treaties and to act as barbarians and aggressors without being accused of warlike acts? If that is to be the state of affairs and one must not say a word on behalf of what is right, while other people may do wrong with impunity, what a world it is to live in, and what a future to look forward to.
There is another side of the matter which I should like respectfully to urge upon the House, and that is that although in his speech the Foreign Secretary threw the Covenant of the League overboard, it is a literal fact that there is no hope for the British Commonwealth of Nations except in the principles enshrined in the Covenant. We cannot win in the armaments race or in the armaments game as such. We can win only if we typify and embody to the world ideals which will attract other countries to our side and make them feel we stand for something worth preserving in the world. It is folly to imagine that we can rely upon our own right arm alone to defend us against these aggressor nations who might all seek to achieve their ambitions at our expense at the same time.
The Foreign Secretary in North Wales and again to-day made a sort of halfhearted plea for unity in this House. He wished the Opposition to come into line with him. What is the position? Let us look at one example. In the whole business of this Spanish war the ideas and the views put forward from these benches have been proved by events to be absolutely right, but not one concession will the Foreign Secretary make to our views. And yet he asks for unity. All that I can say is that the Conservative idea of unity is like the German idea of peace. The Germans say: "Let us have peace" but it is peace that means everybody giving up all they have to Germany and letting her have everything she wants.
There is one further question which I would address to the Government in all seriousness. We all hope that the Italian offer has been made in good faith and that it will result in the removal of foreigners from Spain, but what precautions are you g;oing to take to prevent 134 the Government of Spain from suffering irreparable disaster if these proposals prove only to be a trap after all? The Government have a very real and serious responsibility in that matter, a responsibility which should be fastened upon them clearly and definitely, and we have a right to ask them what they are doing in that respect.
May I, in conclusion, refer briefly to events in the Far East? That is a problem which has been completely neglected. I think the first question I asked in this House was to ask the Foreign Secretary whether he would take an early opportunity of having a Debate upon the Far Eastern situation. He said he thought it was a good idea and he would consider it. But we have not had a Debate on the Far Eastern situation, although the right hon. Baronet who leads the Liberal Opposition referred to it in a speech on the Adjournment of the House, or about that time. I would say, in all modesty, that I have pointed out in this House in speeches on the subject of foreign affairs that the great danger we had to fear was that Germany, Japan and Italy, have ambitions which can only be gratified at our expense, ambitions which do not mutually conflict, and that there was no reason why they should not present their demands upon us simultaneously. Then where should we be?
What I said then has largely come to pass. Japan has gone ahead in China only because she knows we are tied up in the Mediterranean, and the next thing is that knowing we are tied up in the Mediterranean and in the Far East Hitler puts forward his claim for German Colonies. What I foretold is coming true; these claims are being presented and there actions are being taken simultaneously by these three countries. Do the Government think that their rearmament programme can get us out of the mess which may arise? Japan's real object in this war is to achieve such a stranglehold on China that she will be able to draw from China all the raw materials she requires for the war which really matters to her, the war which she intends to fight for that expansion southwards, which is the real ambition of Japanese imperialism. I disagree with the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) when he says that the capitalists do not back the militarists. It 135 is notorious that the capitalists and industrialists in Germany put Hitler into power as a last desperate gamble, and the bankers' clique in Japan is backing this military adventure at the present moment.
I want to call attention to one feature of Japanese policy which should be borne in mind at this crisis. Japan is applying the lessons she has learned in the West from the bombardment of Guernica; she is only doing what the West has taught her. But in matters of beastliness Japan is ahead of the West in one respect. There is no other country but Japan which would encourage the drug traffic as a political weapon for undermining a political opponent. This responsibility has been definitely fastened around the neck of Japan at Geneva by the head of the Narcotic Bureau Council, Colonel Russell, whose wonderful work in the matter of the drug traffic has never attracted the notice or received the praise it deserves. Japan has never been able to make any reply to this charge whatever, except when the Japanese representative said, "It is all right, we are Samurai." I do not understand Japanese, but I take it now that "samurai" is Japanese for dope-pedlars. There is ample evidence that this weapon of the drug traffic is being used systematically to break down the morale of the Chinese in the provinces of China occupied by the Japanese, and in Manchukuo, just as they have deliberately encouraged smuggling to break up Chinese finances and Chinese revenue.
The right hon. Member for Caithness has spoken about deterioration. For weeks during the Recess I have read nothing but the foreign Press. I gave up reading the English Press in order that I might soak myself in the foreign point of view and discover what foreign countries are thinking about affairs. When I did read an English newspaper again I found an article by Lord Rothermere. I do not often agree with his Lordship, but he said it was terrible for anyone who does travel abroad to come back to this country and realise how unconscious the people of this country really are that Europe is staggering into war at the present moment. In the same paper I read a speech by the Minister of Labour at Falmouth, in which he said: 136It is good to be alive in 1937 with the present Prime Minister in office.I pictured to myself the right hon. Gentleman in Pompeii saying at an open-air meeting, "It is grand to be alive under the shadow of dear old Vesuvius, with good old Vespasian on the throne," that is of course if Vespasian had seen fit to give him office, and then next morning, the earthquake. We have to wait and see how the Italian business works out and as regards the Far East there is the Brussels Conference. Are the Government going to show determination to probe the good faith of Italy without delay, as can be done, and to act if good faith is not there? If we do not show determination at the Brussels Conference and also in regard to Spain, then, indeed, I think we are getting near war, and living under the threat of war I think we require much stronger men and a much stronger Government than we have. The Minister for Pensions speaking at Ramsgate claimed great credit for the Government and their war record, and I gathered that taking them man for man they had been the cause of more war pensions being paid than any other Government. That is a curious claim to be put forward on behalf of the Government. I hope we may yet see stronger men and a stronger Government to free us from this threat of war.
§ 8.43 P.m.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby
We have all listened with great interest, though not necessarily with complete approval to the interesting speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher). One thing, at any rate, emerges from his speech, and that is that he stands self-confessed as a staunch Imperialist prepared to go to any and every length to preserve entire the integrity of the British Empire. In the concluding portion of his speech he referred to the possibility of demands from Germany for Colonies. When these demands come we shall remind the hon. and gallant Member of the speech he has made to-day. He envisaged the possibility of war, either in conjunction with other nations as a League of Nations or as a war of defence. What has he or other hon. Members of his party done to help the defences of this country to be adequate to prosecute such a war?
§ Sir A. Southby
All the hon. and gallant Member did was to point that out, but he did not vote for the Estimates which is a much more tangible way of expressing an opinion in this House than merely pointing something out to a Minister. I think after mature reflection that the hon. and gallant Member will feel that he has hardly done justice to the Minister of Pensions when he referred to his speech at Ramsgate. It is only justice to the Minister of Pensions to say that his speech never meant anything like the construction placed upon it by the hon. and gallant Member, and that his construction is entirely erroneous. In one respect I agree with the hon. and gallant Member. If you review the whole course of history since the War I do not think there is any fair-minded or impartial person who would not agree that had our policy as regards armaments been different we should be in a position to speak with much greater authority throughout the world. The hon. and gallant Member has referred specifically to the Far East. Had we not embarked on a policy of rapid and very complete disarmament, had we listened to the advice of many men and women who are no less sincere in their desire for peace than hon. Members on both sides of this House, we should have maintained in the Far East such overwhelming strength in a completed and impregnable Singapore that the events which have taken place between China and Japan would not have taken place, and our influence upon the policy of the Far East would have been decisive. It is our weakness which has led to certain countries being more aggressive than many of us like to see them.
Passing to the speech made by the Foreign Secretary, I think that my right hon. Friend deserves not only the thanks of this House but of the whole of the British people for his untiring work in the cause of peace. Indeed, he deserves the thanks of the whole world for what he has done during days of exceeding difficulty, when a false word, or a wrong word, might have been so misinterpreted that Armageddon might once more have been loosed upon the world. I deplore the horrors of war in China and in Spain, 138 but let us by any and every means consistent with honour see to it that those horrors are kept from the people of this country. We can do no less, and the people of this country demand that we should prosecute in every way an honest endeavour to preserve them from the horrors of war.
The Debate this evening has ranged largely round the policy of non-intervention. There are hon. Members who disagree with that policy, some of them because they think that as it works at present it is unfair. When I hear hon. Members say that, I often think that they are a little tinged with a desire to help one side at the expense of the other. We should endeavour to preserve, as far as we can, complete impartiality in Spain. What is the alternative to non-intervention? The only possible alternative is a policy which must in the end lead to intervention on one side or the other. That must in the end lead to the embroilment of this country and other countries in a major war which would rage throughout Europe. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Does anybody suppose that if the free passage of arms to the Spanish Government were allowed, it could be denied to the Franco Government? If hon. Members desired non-intervention to be impartial, they would have to allow arms to go to both sides. Is it not obvious that that would exacerbate feelings on both sides and extend the war? It seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was endeavouring by some means to find a way of sending further arms to the Spanish Government.
When hon. Members speak of foreigners in Spain—and I deplore the presence of any foreigners in Spain—I think they sometimes forget the presence of the French and the Russians. The other day a very distinguished man said to me that in his opinion—and his opinion is one to which attention should be given—one of the causes of the flooding of Spain with Italian and German volunteers was the feeling in those two countries that from the beginning France had been helping the Spanish Government by every means in her power. That shows the danger of having foreign intervention in any country. If foreign intervention is dangerous in a country, then surely the policy of withdrawal of volunteers is a good one to pursue.
139 If it is wise to withdraw foreigners from Spain, why cannot we welcome the proposals that have been made by the Italian Government? I think we make a mistake in sneering at them or doubting their bona fides. Let us be grateful to the Italian Government for the gesture they have made. After all, it is not individual reputations, but the peace of the world and the future of those who come after us which are at stake. Therefore, let us neglect no means; let us scoff at no proffered hand which will help us to solve the problem of Spain. I have always felt that it would have been better to have granted belligerent rights to both sides in Spain so that there might have been some established rules upon which neutral countries could fashion their policy. I still maintain that if we could grant belligerent rights to both sides, we should bring a solution of the Spanish problem nearer than it is at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition may neither like nor agree with General Franco, but peace in Spain can be achieved only with the assistance of General Franco; in any event he will have to be negotiated with, just as the leaders of the Spanish Government will have to be negotiated with. Therefore, we should try to negotiate impartially with both sides. When the war is over, Spain and the Spanish people will still remain.
§ Sir A. Southby
If the hon. Member went to Spain, he would learn differently. The Leader of the Opposition seemed to me, perhaps it is too strong a word to say to sneer, but to endeavour covertly to attack the Government on the subject of the Nyon Agreement. If there is one thing for which we should be grateful to the Foreign Secretary, it is for the negotiation of the agreement at Nyon.
§ Mr. Dalton
My right hon. Friend is not in the House, but I heard his speech, and I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman must have misunderstood him. My right hon. Friend praised the Nyon Agreement. His argument was that if the Government had shown as much vigour and decision in other spheres as they did in negotiating the Nyon Agreement, the international position would have been much better than it is.
§ Sir A. Southby
I did not wish to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman. I was saying that it seemed to me that, while praising the Government for the Nyon Agreement, the right hon. Gentleman was accusing them of some covert and interested reasons for negotiating it. The Nyon Agreement would not have been possible had it not been for the rearmament policy of the Government. Everybody has praised the work of the Navy in the Mediterranean and round the coast of Spain. I suggest that had it not been for the rearmament policy of the Government, we should not have been in a position to make our contribution to the Nyon Agreement. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech that the great States were not yet ready to resist the aggressor States. What has he and his friends done to make this country ready to resist an aggressor State? In matters of foreign policy, it seems to me that the party opposite consistently try to throw sand into the bearings and dust into their own eyes.
In foreign policy to-day, we are dealing with dictators. Whether we like to deal with them or not, the fact remains that there are countries in the world which are ruled by dictators. If a man's finger is hooked upon the trigger, it is just as well not to jog his elbow. I believe that the desire for peace in the world is proved by the fact that, although we have gone through some years of tension, with dictators liable—to use a slang expression—"to go off the handle" at any moment, peace has in fact been preserved. One does not increase the likelihood of its being preserved by sneering at any man, be lie dictator or otherwise, who seems to be trying to help to find a solution for the world's difficulties.
With regard to the Far East, I did not hear the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition, but the part of it which I did hear seemed to ask for some form of economic pressure against Japan I hold no brief for what japan is doing in China. I believe that her horrible methods of prosecuting the war in China stink in the nostrils of the entire world. But it is suggested in some quarters that there should be a boycott of Japan. If such a boycott is to be effective it must be universal. It may be right or it may be wrong to institute such a boycott at the 141 present time, but it is inconceivable that anybody should suggest that such a boycott, if instituted, should be anything but universal. It must be subscribed to by every nation in the world.
I think it behoves us all to pause and to consider what the effect of such a boycott would be. What would it achieve? Let us not forget that we would be dealing with a people who are intensely patriotic, a brave and fearless people who would look upon such action by the nations of the world as coercion and an act of war. It may be that the Japanese in those circumstances would go down but let us not delude ourselves into thinking that they would not go down fighting. On the other hand, if the boycott is not to be universal, if it is not subscribed to by the whole world, does anyone in his senses suggest that this country or this country in conjunction with any other country should impose such a boycott? The immediate effect would be war with Japan. Are we in a position to prosecute successfully a war against Japan? I suggest that before thinking of coercion we should exhaust every possibility of persuasion. Therefore, I agree with my right hon. Friend that when the l3russels Conference meets it' should have a free hand and an open mind, and should try every possible means to find some solution of the difficulties in the Far East.
I believe that this Debate will achieve a useful purpose. I believe that the offers of the Italian Government are sincere. I believe it to be our duty to go at least part of the way, if not half-way, to meet the Italian people. But do not think that any useful purpose is served by sneering at the Leader of the Italian Government. I do not think that the job of my right hon. Friend is made any easier by sneering at the head of the Italian Government or at what his son has done in Abyssinia. When we and this House say that other nations are not free to speak or to write what they like, we sometimes forget that they are not free to hear what they like. We forget that they may only be allowed to hear those speeches and to read those writings of people in this country who may be of no real account or importance but whose speeches and whose writings can be twisted into propaganda against this country. At this time, when the peace of the world is hanging by a 142 thread, no one should do anything to make the task of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary any more difficult or more onerous than it must perforce be. None of us should do or say or write anything which might be misunderstood abroad or might be so twisted as to make the preservation of world peace any more difficult than it is.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Yesterday in Glasgow a friend drew my attention to a blazing headline in one of the newspapers which read: "Complete breadown of non-intervention. Frontier will now be opened." My friend said, "Surely the Government must do something now." I said, "Do not delude yourself. There is no limit to what this Government will do to prevent the people of Spain from achieving victory." I was not surprised when I read this morning that something new had turned up—an offer in good faith from Mussolini, or at least an offer accepted as being in good faith. What was the question before Europe all last week? It. was the question of the opening of the frontier so that the people and the-Government of Spain should have the means of victory. Feeling was more and more coming to the point at which everyone believed that the frontier would be opened and then in came the gentleman whose word has been proven to be of such reliability and the Foreign Secertary—I am not sure whether before or after—becomes a party to this new effort to prevent the Spanish Government from getting the arms which are necessary for victory.
As I say I am not sure whether it was before or after. I have heard the Foreign Secretary explain beautifully how it is that the French Government always move first. We are told that he is not doing anything, that he has no policy and no proposals, that he has nothing—but the French Government make a proposal and we are supposed to believe that there have been no manoeuvres going on beforehand between the Foreign Secretary and the British agents in Paris. I am satisfied that just as the French Government has acted in all these matters at the instigation of the National Government, so the Italian Government also has acted at the instigation of the National Government. The Non-Intervention Committee has become a sort of cat-and-mouse committee and the Foreign Secretary certainly is not the 143 cat. It does not follow that this is a weak Government. I object to the attitude sometimes adopted by some of my own friends who suggest that this is a weak and spineless Government. It is a very strong and dangerous Government from the point of view of reaction in Europe. It represents, as the Budget situation showed, the big financiers of this country and they are very keenly interested in maintaining reaction throughout Europe.
The hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing - Commander James), who has been in Spain, tells us that General Franco has had a very hard job in building up an economic background. As a matter of fact his economic background is really Germany and Italy, and not that part of Spain which is occupied by him. The hon. and gallant Member, however, recognises that General Franco had a very difficult job in building up an economic background. He had none to start with. The Spanish Government always had its economic background; the Spanish Government had the masses of the people behind it. It had the money, but Franco had the army. The non-intervention proposals prevented the Spanish Government from spending its money to buy the necessary arms, but they have not prevented Franco from getting weapons and an economic background in Germany and in Italy.
I cannot understand how the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough could say that the soldiers enjoy the war. I was over in Spain for a time, and was in the trenches with some of the members of the International Brigade, and with the Spanish militia, and how anybody could dare to say that the soldiers on both sides were enjoying the war, I cannot understand. It is horrible, ghastly; it is a terrible thing that any man should have to endure it. The hon. and gallant Member, however, touched on one very important and essential feature. So far as these soldiers on Franco's side are concerned, they are, he said, getting a livelihood, something which the workers in Spain found the greatest possible difficulty in getting before the People's Front Government came into power. It was because the People's Front Government was formed to raise these workers and peasants from their terrible poverty up to a better and more decent standard of 144 life that all the evil forces in Spain and Europe gathered around Franco and enabled the revolt to start and to go on.
The revolt has now become an invasion. Does the Foreign Secretary believe Mussolini when he says there are only 40,000 Italian volunteers in Spain? Everybody knows that the men who constitute the International Brigade are men who have gone there from this country and America, and German and Italian refugees from France, and are volunteers. No Government anywhere has any responsibility for or control over any man on the Government side in Spain, and no Government anywhere has any control over any of the instruments of war on the Government side in Spain. They are volunteers, but I challenge the Foreign Secretary or his representatives to deny this: It is notorious that the Italian soldiers in Spain are not Franco's men but are under the control of the Italian Government, under the control of Italian generals. The Germans who are in Franco's Spain are not Franco's men; they are under the control and direction of the German Government. They are not volunteers in any sense of the word. It is an invasion, and so there is no question of classing the volunteers of the International Brigade with the armies of Italy and Germar y, which are there for very specific purposes associated with German and Italian Imperialism.
I, unlike the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), am not at this moment concerned with the evil deeds of British Imperialists in the days gone by. I am concerned at this moment with the fate of the Spanish people and, in the Far East, of the Chinese people. I am concerned with the fate of the peoples who are facing armed aggression on the part of the Fascist enemies of the peoples of all countries, and I want to see a policy pursued that will give the Spanish Government the opportunity that it is entitled to have to get the necessary armaments in order to defend itself and its people against this aggression. That is the one thing that has always been denied the Spanish people. The hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough told us that there is order in Salamanca territory, but I guarantee that he never met in his travels in that territory a critic of the Franco Government. The critics are all either dead or dumb. He cannot tell us that he met any one man 145 or woman who dared to say a word in criticism of the Salamanca Government.
§ Mr. Gallacher
That is a very nice evasion, but the one thing that the hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot say here is that in his travels he met any Spanish man or woman in that territory who was prepared to criticise the Franco Government, because as a result of the terror all such people are either dead or dumb. When we attack non-intervention, we are accused of wanting war, but the one thing that we do not want is war. What we see happening, however, is aggression proceeding stage after stage in such a manner that sooner or later, if aggression is not checked, there will be the general destruction of the world and of the civilisation that is associated with it. At some time or another aggression has to be stopped, and we cannot stop it by playing about as we are doing now. If the task had been seriously taken up in 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria, if, instead of the Foreign Secretary at that time playing the part of apologist for Japan at Geneva. he had been prepared to give a lead to the other nations, and those nations had taken a firm stand against Japan, there might have been a different turn to world history, but instead of the National Government giving a lead to the other nations to oppose Japan's aggression, the then Foreign Secretary became an apologist for Japan, just as the present Foreign Secretary is a continual apologist for Mussolini and the Italians. The hon. and gallant Member who spoke before me said the Foreign Secretary has to be so careful and that his every word has to be weighed. Yes, when he is talking about Germany or Italy.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Oh, no. There was a question put here one day—I will look up the reference—and a supplementary question was then put from the Liberal benches about something that was being said or done by Hitler, and the Foreign Secretary got up at that Box and said, "The same can be said about Stalin." [An HON. MEMBER: "And you said ' Shame.' "] Yes, I shouted "Shame." 146 I remember that, but this is very important. If somebody here got up and raised a question about Russia, would the Foreign Secretary get up and sneer-at Hitler or Mussolini? Never, because they are his kind and the kind that the National Government want to keep in power. Let us take Abyssinia. The then Foreign Secretary brought in what was known as the Hoare-Laval Pact. When it was denounced by the masses of the people in the country he made here a sort of valedictory speech. He had to go a month or two into the wilderness, and he was then brought back with all honour. He said the reason for the Hoare-Laval Pact was that a new situation had arisen in Europe; the question of oil sanctions had been raised. He said that if oil sanctions had been effectively applied it would have brought the war to a speedy termination; and he went on to say that he was afflicted by a great fear that Italy, driven 10 desperation, would plunge Europe into another war. Have we ever heard such an argument?
§ Mr. Leslie Boyce
Will the hon. Member refer to another part of the speech in which the Foreign Secretary said that the National Government of this country was the only Government in the world that shifted a man, aeroplane, ship or gun in that crisis and that the rest of the world "walked out" on our Government?
§ Mr. Gallacher
I know that this is the only Government that ever does anything. We have been told that very often, but everything it does is directed towards maintaining reaction in Europe and maintaining the Fascist Powers. The then Foreign Secretary said that if oil sanctions had been effectively applied the war in Abyssinia would have been brought to a speedy termination, but he was afraid that Italy would be driven desperate and plunge Europe into war. That meant that oil sanctions effectively applied would make it impossible for Italy to continue the war, but that it would make Italy so desperate that she would start war in Europe. Was there ever such an argument? Was the Foreign Secretary then afraid of a new war? No, he was afraid of the defeat of Mussolini because it would have meant a set-back to reaction throughout Europe and been a great new inspiration to the forces of 147 peace and progress. The same applies to Hitler and his policy in Germany. Every conceivable support is given to him. The Versailles Treaty was used in the most brutal and rigid manner against the democratic Government in Germany, but when Hitler came to power everything he wanted, he got.
In Spain we have already shown that the policy of non-intervention was introduced to prevent the Spanish Government getting arms. We have been told that the only thing the volunteers have done was to help save Madrid. The International Brigade, coming at the time it did, showed to the Spanish militia the solidarity of the spirit of the international working class and gave it a new courage and enabled it to save Madrid. As soon as it was recognised that the International Brigade had assisted in keeping Franco from getting into Madrid, the next proposal of the Foreign Secretary was to get rid of the volunteers. He and everybody knows that that did not stop the conscripts or new and greater aid continually coming to Franco, but that it made things worse for the Spanish Government. Not a move is made by the Foreign Secretary but is directed against the Spanish Government.
§ Mr. Gallacher
But not shipping going into the Spanish Government ports. It did not have to protect the shipping going to Franco because Italian and German submarines saw that it was safe. The one thing the National Government were not prepared to do, even in connection with piracy, was to give any protection to shipping, even the shipping of food, going to the Spanish Government.
§ Mr. Gallacher
But they can carry on as much piracy as they like in Spanish 148 waters against the Spanish Government. There is no question of piracy against the Franco Government because it is the Franco supporters who are carrying on the piracy. Italy is the pirate; everybody knows that except the Foreign Secretary. There is no question of piracy against the Franco side. Piracy can be carried on—
§ Mr. Gallacher
But it can be carried on in Spanish waters against the Spanish Government. All the policy of the Government has been definitely directed against the Spanish Government and in support of Franco. As the Leader of the Opposition said, the Government only became energetic when the trade routes in the Mediterranean were being attacked by Italian pirates. The Foreign Secretary suggested that the National Government were carrying out the will of the people of this country. That is not true. I do not care to what part of the country you go, you will find that the people want the Spanish Government to get fair play. They want the Spanish Government to get their rights according to international law. An hon. Member said that if we opened the frontiers to arms for the Spanish Government we could not keep arms from the other side. How can anyone put up such an argument? Everybody knows that arms and men have been pouring into Franco's side. The one thing the closing of the frontier has done has been to keep the Spanish Government from getting the weapons necessary to defend itself. There is no lack of weapons on the side of Franco or any lack of conscripts. There is a small body of volunteers on the side of the Spanish Government. I want to throw out to the Foreign Secretary a challenge I have made before. It is that every volunteer in Spain is a volunteer in the real sense of the word and is under the control of no Government other than the Spanish Government. Does he deny that?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Does he know then that the Italian divisions in Spain do not belong to Franco but are under the control of the Italian Government? They are officered by Italian Generals. Does he know that? The German soldiers in 149 Spain and the German airmen do not belong to Franco. The German and Italian aeroplanes do not belong to Franco. They belong to Germany and Italy respectively. Does the Foreign Secretary deny that? The orders that have been found on Italian and German soldiers and airmen have proved that these men are not there as soldiers of Franco. They are there as the soldiers of Germany and Italy. If the Foreign Secretary reads the Italian Press he will have read how their armies are progressing, and of the victories that they are having. How it is possible for the Foreign Secretary and the Government to carry on this farce which is causing so much distress is beyond me.
Just a word about the East. The Foreign Secretary said that the Powers are going to meet in Belgium, and that the instruction is to get peace. If he had stopped at that it might have been worth while giving some consideration to the Brussels Conference. But he did not stop there. They are to get peace by agreement. That means a similar situation to what has happened in connection with non-intervention. They have to get peace by the agreement of Japan, and Japan understands the situation as Mussolini and Hitler understand it. This National Government will do nothing to strengthen the forces of progress in Europe. It will do nothing that will make possible the defeat of the militarists in Germany, Italy or Japan. The Brussels Conference will have the same result as the Non-Intervention Committee. We will get talk, but never any decision to unite the peace forces of Europe to stop aggression.
If the peace forces were united, and if 'Britain had a Government that represented the peaceful and progressive desires of the people, instead of a bankers' and financiers' Government, if we had a Government representing the great Labour movement of this country, and a Government that would come forward with a policy in support of peace and progress, such a Government with the Government of France and of Soviet Russia, and the other peace nations of Europe, could form a peace block that could stop all aggression. It could say to Germany or Italy, "Come in with us, but if you come in it must be on the basis of no further armaments." If they refused, financial and economic power could be used against them. Germany has no 150 copper, no tin, no nickel, no rubber and no oil. The same applies to Italy. These nations have the financial and economic power to make armaments building impossible, to make aggression impossible, but we have a Government not concerned with peace and progress but concerned with maintaining monopoly capitalism, with all its rotten privileges and power. Until we get rid of this Government and get a Government based on the desires of the great mass of the people, one that will pursue a policy of peace and progress, we will never get out of the terrible conflicts that continually threaten the world with destruction. In the war of 1914–18 in this country alone £7,000,000,000 was spent on destruction. To-day there are more millions for armaments while people starve.
I heard a priest tell a story the other day of an old woman he was visiting. She took a sad, pathetic pleasure in the fact that the doctor had given her a certificate that she was blind. She was relieved because it was going to mean a few more shillings a week. Poor old soul. That sort of thing is going on all over the country. There are thousands of cases of poverty, hunger and want. More and more millions are spent for armaments and the weapons of destruction, instead of formulating a clear peace policy, working that policy in conjunction with other nations, and making the expenditure on armaments unnecessary. We have to get rid of the National Government and the unholy gang behind it who are concerned only with wealth and privilege, and we have to get in its place a Government representing the peace masses of the country and end for ever the Fascist aggression that is threatening the world with destruction.
§ 9.32 p.m.
Mr. Vyvyan Adams
It is strange that in one respect the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and myself agree—that is in an ardent desire that General Franco shall not win. I am not sure why the hon. Member wants him to lose. I do, because among other reasons, I cannot conceive anything more damaging to the security and interests of the British Empire than a victory for General Franco. I would like to say to the hon. Member that I cannot see what use this country would be in that peace bloc which he wants without those armaments whose 151 cost he spent so much time in deprecating. The hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) quoted Lord Rothermere after exulting in the effectiveness and indifference that the hon. and gallant Member attributed to his Foreign Secretary and to mine. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) has a variation of the same technique. He quoted the "Daily Express" and found it fuller, more entertaining, and more authentic than the remarks of the Foreign Secretary. It was kind of him to disclose the source of his isolationist inspiration. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) in his estimate of the Beaverbrook and Rothermere Press. It is well summed up in the famous couplet:If you would have the stream of truth to run both sweet and clear,First you must dam the Beaverbrook and cleanse the Rothermere.But my agreement with my hon. and gallant Friend across the Floor unhappily does not embrace all the rest of what he said to-night. I have not direct experience of Spain, as he has had, during the present troublous period, but I wish frankly that I could be as sure as is my hon. Friend of the future attitude of General Franco's soldiers to their German and Italian allies. Hitler and Mussolini together are infinitely more powerful than any rebel Spanish general. It is not altruism, surely, that has caused the two Fascist expansionist dictators virtually to invade Spain and to threaten the Straits of Gibraltar with hostile guns.
I thought the right hon. Leader of the Opposition was a little lacking in understanding of the present position of the Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Secretary was not concerned with the long history of the past half-dozen years but was dealing with the situation as it exists to-day, and we were not told by the right hon. Leader of the Opposition what other course could possibly be taken in present circumstances. For example, could my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary possibly reject in present circumstances what are, I think, in the eyes of most of us, the dubious advances of Signor Mussolini? Could he have avoided implying, as he indeed implied in very gentle 152 and moderate language, that we in this country are prepared to smash any opposition by Mussolini if in the Mediterranean he intercepts our shipping and menaces our interests? I see nothing in that inconsistent with right British policy. Would to heaven that the present Foreign Secretary's predecessor had been no less firm in 1935, when our interests were certainly involved in the Italo-Ethiopian dispute.
It does not seem to me to be necessary for the Foreign Secretary, when considering whether or no it is politic to bang on the table, to be apprehensive about the condition of our armaments to-day. I know that we are getting stronger, and I heartily support that growth of strength, and I do all I can in my own way to support rearmament, but we have already in fact, and nobody disputes it, a Navy of incomparable power. Its power is daily becoming more incomparable, and I for my part am very glad that that Navy is in our hands. Authorities tell us, too, that very shortly the Air Force of this country will be second to none in Europe. Again, we have a small but highly mechanised Army, which is capable of being hurled with the speed, the precision, and the power of a javelin wherever it is most needed.
The Foreign Secretary took satisfaction, and I think rightly, in the success of the working of the Nyon Agreement. Is it not true to say that success always, in fact, does attend firm concerted action by the two great Western democracies, France and Great Britain? We can look back upon the success of our action when it has been taken firmly but unilaterally in the past few years or when such firm action has been taken in collaboration with France. One of the most effective pieces of international activity in which we have engaged since I have had the honour of being a Member of this House was the embargo we put on the export of Russian goods when we wanted, and rightly wanted, to deliver some Metropolitan Vickers' engineers from the control of the Russian Government. Later, in collaboration with the other League Powers, we contributed towards an international police force in the Saar, and that firm action almost certainly prevented a violent collision between France and Germany.
153 Then there was the Nyon Agreement; but some months earlier France took the very desirable unilateral course of warning the Germans to keep clear of Morocco, which the Germans did after receiving that warning. I infer privately in my own mind that the Italian line which was evident yesterday and this morning has resulted from some firmness upon our part. But I hope that the Prime Minister, if he is to reply this evening, will be able to hint to us precisely the manner in which the withdrawal of volunteers is going to be effected. It is clear that if our Government like to insist upon a course of action their word carries more weight than that of any other single Government, and I hope our Government will insist, as far as they humanly can, that the withdrawals shall be proportionate from both sides. For example, suppose that it were agreed immediately that there should be withdrawn the lump figure of 30,000 from each side. That would leave the Valencia Government with no outside aid in human form at all, while Salamanca, on the other hand, would have at least 50,000 aliens on their side.
I want to take up a phrase which was used by the Foreign Secretary in his opening speech. He referred to something which we all wish to avoid, "the brink of the precipice." I have always understood that there are two ways of going over a precipice, that you can rush over or you can drift over, and I would indicate one or two of the consequences that will certainly follow a policy of drift if practised by this country. Let us assume that we surrender absolutely to any courses which to-day in foreign policy appear to be most easy. Let us assume that nothing is done to check Japan in her aggression, until at last her rising sun scorches, as it were, the whole of the Chinese sub-continent. Let us assume that something quite contrary to the best British interests happens, and that General Franco wins in Spain. I do not suppose that the whole of the Iberian peninsula will then become an Italian or a German colony, but its Government would certainly be sympathetic with and to some extent dependent upon the Governments in Italy and Germany. And, frankly, I find it quite incredible that this consummation of the Spanish civil war can possibly be desired, as it is desired, 154 by some who arrogate to themselves the title of "British patriots." In fact they are betraying the true interests of the British Empire. The greatest danger to our Empire to-day comes from the two expansionist capitals of Berlin and Rome.
Pursuing this path of non-resistance, we may next expect, for geographical reasons, that the Croix de Feu wins in France, and Fascism is established there. Let us further assume that, in order that Germany may be placated, and that the "Times" newspaper can have what seems to be its own way, Germany is next presented with Colonial territories, which would be of no remote economic or biological value to her and would automatically be militarised. Suppose, too, that Britain, to-day the main citadel of freedom in the world, collapses at home before some fresh recrudescence of the odious creed of Fascism; that the world, in fact, develops into an entirely black world, as I believe the ideological colour is described. In those circumstances does anyone in this House imagine that the world would be better off? Is a world full of dictatorships, as the world would then be, likely to be more harmonious and conciliatory than a world where to-day, owing to its potential and inherent strength, democracy is still able to hold up its head?
These consequences are, I fear, the logical conclusion of a policy, which seems to be developing in certain quarters, of saying, "Peace at any price, and embrace Hitler and the Germans at any cost." Some day, somewhere, we in this country shall have to make our stand. Mussolini will have to be coerced, or threatened with coercion, out of his madness; certainly coaxing is not going to avail, not even the suggestion of pots of honey from Churt. The opportunity to-day is admittedly far less favourable than two years ago, when we should have carried the League enterprise upon which ve engaged to a victorious conclusion. If resistance to a Latin race was then beyond our will or beyond our power, we should never have attempted it, and I hope that any future enterprise of a comparable character will be undertaken with a greater measure of determination.
The deplorable result is that Signor Mussolini may imagine, with a good deal of justification, that any show or threat of force upon our part may merely be 155 a piece of bluff which he and the present dictator of Germany would easily recognise. The dictators of Italy and Germany exalt warfare. Although I have never been a pacifist I take leave to disagree with the German and Italian view of death on the battlefield, because I regard it as a waste of the fittest and most excellent part of the community. The stark, grim, unhappy paradox is this, that intending war-makers will be deterred from aggression only if they know beyond question that the peace-minded nations are determined to stand together and to run the risk of fighting in their resolve to restrain them. That is nothing more or less than the central principle enshrined in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The world and the small nations in particular are entitled to expect from this country to-day, strength of arms and clearness of voice; without them, the interests of ourselves and the rest of the civilised world are clearly unsafe.
I have one more point to make, if the House will allow me to occupy another two minutes. Each new aggression presents the civilised world with an opportunity of making the law dynamic. To-day, another such opportunity has arisen in the Far East. It is fashionable to protest against Japan's aggression and the manner of its prosecution, but I am not going to indulge in any protests because I object to protests unless they are the prelude to some form of effective action. I want to see Japan restrained, and I believe that that restraint would be possible through a widely concerted refusal to accept imports of goods exported from Japan. That would deprive her of the exchange which she needs to purchase essential war materials from abroad. Such a form of concerted action need be neither "world-wide" nor "universal." It would be preferable to a refusal to export goods to Japan; that policy might be designed almost expressly to advantage Japan. Any exports from this country might go into the ports of a third country and from those ports into Japanese territory. Those commodities would merely be proceeding along two sides of a triangle instead of along a straight line.
The policy which I venture to indicate is surrounded with difficulties, and it postulates the co-operation of the United 156 States of America and of other States in sustaining this economic pressure with naval force. We are the most powerful individual naval country, but we are heavily engaged to-dav under the Nyon Agreement in the Mediterranean. Such concerted action against Japan, which I should heartily like to see brought about, would be easier than in 1932 because of these two facts—that Russia to-day is a State member of the League of Nations and the attitude of the United States can no longer be described as so obscure as it was between 1931 and 1933. I believe it would certainly be worth the attempt. No mere consideration of the difficulties which would surround it should prevent our statesmen, in co-operation with American and League statesmen, from seeking in the Far East to sustain the rule of law.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Sir Francis Acland
We here still adhere to the policy of non-intervention, and this surely is the most amazing example of faith triumphing over works—or rather the complete absence of works on the other side—in the whole course of history. As long as the Government continue that complacent and fatal drive to European destruction and the loss of our most vital Imperial assets, I hope we shall steadily vote against them, as we most certainly are going to do to-night.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. David Grenfell
The right hon. Gentleman called attention this afternoon to previous League Debates. Before we went into Recess we asked about the foreign situation, and again we are devoting our minds to this very serious and important problem. 1 do not wish to allege undue responsibility on the part of His Majesty's Government for the frequency with which we discuss the relationship of this country with the rest of the world, but they are the Government of the country and the Government must take a certain responsibility. We criticise the Government, and we wish to point out firmly and decisively where the direct responsibility of the Government lies. I should like to call attention to one or two facts which have been noted in this House, for which the Government have a large degree of responsibility The National Government are a force. They have an overwhelming majority 157 here, and they can do what they want to do in this House. They have a tremendous influence in world affairs. Much as we are disarmed by the charming manner of speech of the right hon. Gentleman, we are not entirely ready to absolve him from responsibility.
The right hon. Gentleman claimed that the Labour party are now in agreement with Government policy, and he followed that later by saying that we had come to give him support. It is a very qualified support. It has been quite impossible for us to accept the Government's policy for the reason that we have never known at any time what that policy was. Even the Government themselves do not seem to know their policy. One of the outstanding things in the Government's conduct of international affairs has been that since they came into office six years ago, in circumstances well known, one has never known at any time what their real object was in the carrying out of international policy. The test of loyalty to the League is a test that we must apply, and it is on that test that the Government have wavered and bolted from their responsibilities, and have betrayed the League, on more than one occasion. We know that there are elements on the Government side of the House who have been openly distrustful of the League from the very beginning, in articles and speeches supporting the Government. I remember speeches made in this country in which the League of Nations was derided and a lack of confidence in it was openly expressed.
Something has been said about chickens coming home to roost. I think that they are coming home to roost in this regard. We have let the League down and betrayed it, and we are now paying the penalty in the tragic situation which has arrived in the world to-day. First of all we must consider the responsibility for the weakness of the League. The main difficulty lies in the present world situation. The League is the keystone of the structure of peace, it is the keystone of the world system which is known as nonaggression. I remember that when I was a young boy I was very pugnacious, and was advised by an elderly relative to be careful not to strike anyone else. I was told that, if everyone were restrained from striking first, there would be no fighting in the world. That is the value 158 of the League of Nations—the guarantee of non-aggression, the certainty that aggression would not be rewarded.
The Government have missed a great opportunity. I do not want to be con, stantly reminding the right hon. Gentleman of the occasion when Japan last attacked China, but those were two Members of the League, the one for the moment strong, the other for the moment large and unwieldy, and weak on that account. Japan attacked Manchuria in defiance of the Covenant, in defiance of the principle of non-aggression, in defiance of the Kellogg Pact. Those were two of the States which had publicly put the devil of war behind them. But on that occasion the British Foreign Secretary leant on the side of the aggressor, and encouraged the aggressor in the pursuit of his aggression. No attempt was made to strengthen the League's authority, the League sanctions were not invoked, and the world has been the weaker. The position of each and all of the members of the League has been endangered by the absence of that sense of security and confidence, that guarantee against aggression which would have preserved peace in the world and would have enabled the League to carry out its positive objects. The League was never intended to be a stop-block against war; the whole scheme was intended to be one of co-operation whereby peace might he guaranteed. The prospect of that work was almost fatally ruined.
Then came Abyssinia, and again a strong nation attacked a weak member of the League, with the consent of a large number of Members of this House and with the connivance—it is a very sad story—of the Government of the day and of the Foreign Secretary of the day. It was definite betrayal, against which a protest was registered in this House. The Foreign. Secretary, in a recent speech, said that a leaky dam might yet serve its purpose. He said that in connection with the Non-Intervention Pact, not in connection with the League. But does he believe that anyone builds a leaky dam for a purpose? There never was a purpose for a leaky dam. A dam is defective if it leaks, and the leak destroys the protection which the dam itself offers. A leaky dam is an unfit structure. When the right hon. Gentleman is content to regard the League of Nations or the Non-Intervention Pact as a 159 kind of improvised structure, leaky and ramshackle, which will serve its purpose, he is relying upon something that it is not Safe to rely upon. Certainly in international affairs it is the business of those who are in a position of responsibility at the head of a great country like ours to make all these agreements watertight, and not to regard a leak as an insignificant defect in the structure.
The right hon. Gentleman, speaking at Geneva, said that the League was formulated as a practical application of a principle which, at least in 1919, was already generally accepted by the nations of the world—the principle that war does not benefit either victor or vanquished; and he went on to say:So far as my country is concerned"—he was abroad when he spoke—our attitude to war is exactly the same as it was in 1919.Is it? I make no complaint, but the right hon. Gentleman in his speech to-day made hardly any reference to the League of Nations or to our detestation of war. At any rate, his reference to it was a very distant reference. He confined himself almost entirely to the details of negotiations—little promises and expectations which he hoped might be fulfilled—making no fundamental statement that we stood where we stood in 1919, or that we wished to regain the ground that has been lost by years of frivolous disregard of the very great principles to which I have referred. We are now very much closer to war than we care to admit, even to ourselves. This detestable thing, this horrid, brutal, wasteful, futile thing, is almost upon us in 1937, and the question for this House and for the world is, how is it to be stopped? How is the aggression which may break the peace of the world to be stopped? The fact is that war and peace are in the balance, and the question for this House and for the world is what additional weight can be put into the scale to make sure that peace shall be maintained. I have heard no suggestion on that question to-night. I hope the Prime Minister will amplify the case for general security, because there is no security in isolation, there is no security in armaments, there is no security, as far as I can see, in the balancing of possible advantages from alliances, to-day one way, to-morrow the other.
160 The tragic thing to me is that, with this sense of impending disaster with which the world is faced, with the immense preparation at great cost to which the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) referred, no one in this House knows on which side of the dividing line any one Power or group of Powers will be found, and on which side others will be found. We are preparing to arm to the maximum of our power and strength, but no one knows whom we are to fight. There appears to be no just cause for war. There is a rearmament policy, but no one knows whether it is a world race for supremacy in arms, or whether it is to be a Marathon race or a sprint. No one knows the policy of the Government in that regard. There is an impression that we are all committed one by one, with no concerted plans, no coherent policy, just rushing madly in a race in which everyone spends as much as he can in collecting metals from the ends of the earth and bringing them to the armament making countries, where iron is melted into new forms and where immense stores of metal are built up for destructive purposes, the nature of which no one knows. No one knows in what direction this immense force of armaments is to be employed. Our complaint is that all countries are running 1.o destruction.
The Foreign Secretary has been described as a chauffeur. I think he will take that as a compliment, because the chauffeur is in control. He may be a paid servant, but, if he drives his car skilfully and safely, he is to be envied. But the right hon. Gentleman's position does not appear to be quite so happy. As I see the world, it reminds me of those contraptions which we see from time to time in a fairground. I think the popular name for them is "Dodge'em." You will see people getting into these conveyances, suspended from above, and they swerve and dodge, slide and skid, revolve and reverse, and it is very exciting and perfectly harmless. But the comic side to foreign affairs has gravity behind it. I would like to believe that the Foreign Secretary is in charge of the vehicle if there is such a vehicle, and that there is motive power and direction in the vehicle of which he is in control.
Some day these perambulations, these State visits and these grand demonstrations of unity and friendship will come to an end and the world will wake up to the 161 sound of war again. The world will go to war again for one reason only, that the statesmen lack vision. Millions of peasants may be working earning their livelihoods in a simple way, and ten politicians can make life hopeless for them. If war comes to Europe it is because of the folly of the politicians. Only a few men will be responsible. I would remind the Foreign Secretary of the poem we learned in our school days of Kaspar and his grandchildren. Kaspar had to end his story with the confession that why they went to war he never could make out. The destruction going on in the world at present—I have seen some of it to my cost and we hear of it every day—is brutal and foolish and nobody knows what it is for. It is through the stupidness of diplomats. I am not speaking personally. It is said that the world is fighting for rival ideologies, but these social ideals are not confined to political boundaries. If we are to drift over the precipice it will be a terrible thing when we fall down over the side.
If the world is to divide, there will be very strange divisions indeed. We are not united in this House. There are divisions, less sharply here perhaps than in other places, and if there is war some of us will offer our lives to defend democratic freedom. These divisions are not likely to be confined to national boundaries, to follow political units as we understand them to-day. There is no national unanimity on this subject. Concentration camps and dungeons are the evidence of deep divisions and not unity. We may have a world war for the supremacy of ideals, but that war will be a civil war in almost every land.
It is a very strained world we are living in at present, and he who jeopardises the safety of the world when it is finding its feet again after an orgy of conflicting ideology is risking very much, and those who rely on war as an instrument of policy will not be blameless. We have heard much of disarmament. Moral disarmament is an essential condition for material disarmament and we must iry to find some way of freeing ourselves from the obsession that we can find safety in arms. I am certain that that direction leads to war in the end. Aggression is going on all around at the present time. I would like to know where we stand in this. The Foreign Secretary said we 162 mean to retain a right of way. Is that all he wants? Does he believe he can maintain a right of way in a world cut across by conflict at the present time? It cannot be done. He ought to maintain a universal right of way and give right of access to people who have not got it at present. Perchance France has not too many friends in this House, not so many as she deserves. I would like to say a word for France. We have been impatient with the trend of affairs in France, but while we speak of defending our own interests where do the interests of France lie at present? Jeopardised in every way by incidents taking place on three sides of her at present. And I would say I hope we shall remain in cooperation with France in the interests of a creed which we hold in common.
I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he can give us a word of comfort to-night regarding these defeated workers in the North of Spain. Some Members of this House have been to Spain. I have been too. I cannot say how much I sympathise with the distressed people of Spain. My heart goes out to the distressed workers of Asturias, brave men who have fought stubbornly and unyieldingly. They are threatened with extinction, a punishment that brave men do not deserve. In a neighbouring seaport a pledge was made, and the defenders of the Basque provinces surrendered there on terms. It was not Franco who conquered them but the Italians, and it was with the Italian General that they arranged these terms of surrender. Now they are without their arms and have surrendered, and their lives were promised them. I have seen the document containing the actual terms of surrender. These people are now threatened with death. Sentences of death have been passed on many hundreds of these people, and the executions have begun.
I would like this Government, who have been exceedingly lenient to Franco as a Government, to use their influence in a thoroughly humanitarian way. These are men who have been defeated and whose arms have gone; they are men who have fought for their country, and their predicament is due to the fact that men came from another country. I appeal to the patriotic sympathy of hon. Members. If there is a patriot in the 163 House, he ought, naturally, to be on the side of these people. If it is a crime to fight for their Fatherland and the right of their own country, then, these people are criminals. If it is a great virtue to sacrifice all for country, then, these people are entitled to the highest recognition and reward that can be given to them. They have committed no sin, but they are likely to be handed over to death.
I heard what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James). He and I went to Spain together and we saw many things almost in the same light. He has a professional knowledge which I lack, but I too am a fair observer, and I am sure that he will admit that fact. I think that to-night he has been observing rather too rapidly, and he gave the House an opinion which could not be fully justified if he took a little more time in giving the House the full benefit of his observations. He said that he went so many kilometres in a motor car and that as he travelled over the country perfect order prevailed everywhere. Did he ask himself the question why there was such perfect order? All the people, so I am told on good authority, who opposed General Franco were put out of the way. It is the peace of the cemetery, the peace of death, that lies behind General Franco. There ought to be something said about Guernica, but I will say one or two words more about the Non-Intervention Pact. The 27 nations that signed that Pact were expected to observe it, but did they? Three governments have been assisting the Rebels in Spain from the very beginning. One government, it is said, have been assisting the Government of Spain, but three governments have been openly assisting the Rebels in Spain.
Signor Mussolini, who has sent his Ambassador as representative to the Non-Intervention Committee, now says, "I am willing to be a good boy at last." He says, "I am going to see that the Italian people there are withdrawn in time," and he makes this amazing confession. He says that there are only 40,000 of them and, "I will give you the evidence. I will give you the facts. August, 1936, so many thousands went; September, 1936, so many thousands went, and October, 1936, so many thousands went." Month after month 164 Signor Mussolini has denied the facts. He now says that there are 40,000, and he has not included in that number, as far as I can gather, the Italians who were in sufficient strength in February, 1937, to be given the place of honour against Madrid on the Guadarrama front. Many of them did not survive that attack. Many Italians have been killed in Spain, many have been wounded and many have been taken sick. They are not included in the 40,000 in respect of which Mussolini said he could give the facts. They are live men. All the time Signor Mussolini has been playing a game, hoodwinking and deceiving this House and the whole world, and we ought to take more note of that fact than we do.
In regard to the question of withdrawals, Signor Mussolini admits that there are 40,000 Italians in Spain. When he makes that admission and he says, "There are 40,000 of my troops there, and there are Generals and Field Marshals whom I have congratulated on their victories in Spain," is it not the business of the Non-Intervention Committee to tell him that those troops have no right to be in Spain and that he must bring them away at once? If the number is only 40,000, then the less lax it will be on his transport. He should be told that we shall not be satisfied in this country unless those troops are taken away to Italy within 14 days. They have been there over 14 months, and the farce has been going on all that time and should not be allowed to go one one clay longer.
These are very difficult times through which we are passing. and some of us are more sensitive than others. I have been very unhappy in the last two years, but I have had one little thrill of encouragement. I have listened to speeches and I have tried to make optimistic speeches myself, but the one little thrill of encouragement I have had was the speech of President Roosevelt a few days ago. I hope that this House to-night will hear an adequate response to that speech. I am perfectly sure that if we could come to an understanding with America the peace of the world could be assured.
The League of Nations formula allocates 639 units of the material resources of Europe to the whole of the European States, based upon machine equipment, mineral and metallic resources, population and food supplies, and one find that of those 639 units spread over all the 165 nations of Europe, Germany and Italy have 139 and the rest of Europe 490. There are other ways of allotting these material resources. I say that we can keep the peace of the world if we can dissuade Germany and Italy from embarking upon a policy of aggression. If we can restrain aggression in order to give us time to guarantee non-aggression, then I believe we can find a way out of the difficulties that beset us at the present time. I should like the Prime Minister to-night to rise to his great responsibility and opportunity and to give those in America who listen to us as we listen to them an assurance that we would welcome the closest form of co-operation with the great people across the Atlantic.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)
The House always listens with pleasure to a speech from the hon. Member who has just addressed us, because he is always good tempered and always convinces us that he is speaking with complete sincerity. But good temper and sincerity are not sufficient to make an accurate analysis of the complicated foreign situation or to formulate a policy. If the hon. Member will forgive me, I should like to say that he is in the position in which the Leader of the Opposition accused the Government of being, namely, that he seems to me to be completely divorced from reality. He is a victim of phrases and words. He uses words over and over again without, it seems to me, making clear what he means by those words. He says that the Government have no policy, that he can never understand their foreign policy. What does the hon. Member mean by foreign policy? You can lay down sound and general propositions. You can say that your foreign policy is to maintain peace; you can say that it is to protect British interests, you can say that it is to use your influence, such as it is, on behalf of the right against the wrong, as far as you can tell the right from the wrong. You can lay down all these as general principles, but that is not a policy. Surely, if you are to have a policy you must take the particular situations and consider what action or inaction is suitable for those particular situations. That is what I myself mean by policy, and it is quite clear that as the situations and conditions in foreign affairs continually change from day to 166 day your policy cannot be stated once and for all if it is to be applicable to every situation that arises.
Perhaps the hon. Member when he accused the Government of having no foreign policy was really thinking simply of the League of Nations, which was in fact the illustration he gave us when he went on to specify more particularly of what he complained. He complained that my right hon. Friend did not once in the course of his speech state the detestation of the Government for war and did not once mention the name of the League. Would it really have illuminated matters very much if my right hon. Friend had repeated what has been said hundreds of times—that this Government does detest war, and that we have done and are doing everything we can to maintain peace throughout the world? Would that have illuminated matters at all? Is not the real, practical question what action can we take in existing circumstances to carry that principle into effect? When the hon. Member says that my right hon. Friend did not mention the League, what is the use of saying for the thousandth time that we believe in the principles for which the League was founded and that our policy is directed to make those principles effective? That is not carrying us any further, and I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member forgets that the League is not an end in itself, it is a means towards an end, and if the League is temporarily unable to fulfil its function to achieve that end, what is the use of repeating parrot-like that we believe in the League?
We believe in the principles for which the League was founded. We do believe that if it could be as it was, or as it was expected to be, a League of all the powerful nations in the world, it would be an effective instrument for carrying out the principles in which the hon. Member and the Government believe. The hon. Member says that the League is a guarantee against aggression. Unfortunately, experience has shown this to be absolutely untrue. The League as it is at present is not a guarantee against aggression, and pending a regeneration of the League or its development into an effective instrument it is no use going on repeating "the League." We have to find practical means of restoring peace to the world.
167 My right hon. Friend, in making the first speech in the Debate, confined himself to two subjects, and for the most part I think the Debate has followed his example. That seems to me to be right. I do not imagine that when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition expressed a desire for a Debate upon foreign affairs to-day, his purpose was merely to debate in an academic manner general questions of policy. I conceive that his purpose was to ascertain from the Government what was their view as to the proper action to be taken to deal with these two sources of difficulty and anxiety with which we are faced to-day, and I propose myself to devote a few of my remarks to the situation in Spain and to the questions which have been raised in the course of the Debate upon that subject, and also to say something about the situation in the Far East.
My right hon. Friend was imprudent enough to express some satisfaction that the party opposite had come to the conclusion that, in the present state of the world, they could not refuse their support for the rearmament of this country. I think he said he hoped that might lead to further agreement between us. That, of course, was rash on the part of my right hon. Friend, and it at once provoked a terrified effort on the part of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to show his friends behind him that there really was no truth in that scandalous statement. We know that the right hon. Gentleman has his troubles. One of the greatest of his troubles, who is not now sitting near him but—in another capacity—may not be very far off, must have given him some anxiety about the future. Therefore, I am not surprised that he endeavours to dwell on that subject on which he hopes that unity may still remain in his party, namely, criticism of the Government's policy. But really, when in order to bring that out he travesties the policy of His Majesty's Government in the way he did in his speech, I think he should remember that misrepresentations of that kind are apt to have their repercussions. He suggested that for the Government there was no question of right or wrong in the world save where the material interests of the British Empire were concerned. Let him take care that he does not find people taking for granted that where British material interests are con- 168 cerned, the Labour party has no interest itself in the matter, and that the only objects for which they would be prepared to use British armaments, British soldiers, sailors and airmen, would be those in which there is no material British interest involved. Let him beware of this, that when he is ridiculing the policy of His Majesty's Government he does not give rise to misrepresentations of that kind.
Let me come to the particular question of the Spanish situation. Let us consider for a moment what our object should be with regard to the Spanish situation. Supposing that there had been going on in Spain to-day a civil war without any intervention of any foreign troops whatsoever, would the party opposite then have been urging us to intervene on one side or the other? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The right hon. Gentleman says "No." [An HON. MEMBER: "There would be no war!"] The right hon. Gentleman has just admitted that in that case there would have been no desire and no suggestion that it was the duty of the Government of this country to intervene on one side or the other. He has, in fact, admitted that the problem in Spain is the intervention of foreign troops, of foreign soldiers fighting either on one side or the other. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That being so, it is clear that the best thing we can do is to try to get these foreign troops out of the country, and, seeing that the attitude of other countries towards the civil war in Spain is so largely dominated by their own ideas of what is suitable for their own countries, it is clear that if the policy of non-intervention had not been pursued, originally at the instance of the French Government but all through with the hearty and full co-operation of the British Government—if that policy had not been pursued. there was every prospect that the civil war in Spain might presently become a European war of unknown magnitude.
The events of yesterday have, of course, very largely knocked the bottom out of this Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I am only quoting what has been said by one hon. Member after another in the course of this afternoon. Hon. Members opposite cannot have listened to their own colleagues. A good many speeches which, no doubt, had been prepared on another assumption, have had to be torn up, and the right hon. Gentleman this 169 afternoon was compelled to make a rapid shift of ground. So, instead of taunting us with truckling to dictators and with weakness in not breaking off negotiations if the Italian Government could not see their way to accept the invitation to the Three-Power conversations—instead of denouncing us for consenting to discuss this matter once again in the Non-Intervention Committee, he has had to take up different ground altogether and to throw doubts upon the good faith of the Italian Government. The right hon. Gentleman is quite entitled to have his suspicions. All I would say is that if in foreign affairs you are always going to begin with the assumption that the other party is not going to hold to anything that he promises, you will not make much progress. In the present case it appears to me that what happened yesterday is a full justification of the patience and persistence which my right hon. Friend has shown during these long drawn-out negotiations.
The right hon. Gentleman asked one or two questions. One of them was, in what proportion were these withdrawals to take place, and he went on to say that if the proportions were to be as man for man on both sides, that would be grossly unfair to one side, and he specified which side. He said it would be grossly unfair to the Spanish Government. That, of course, is based on the assumption that there are far more volunteers on the side of General Franco than on the other side. What I would say, however, is that nobody knows how many volunteers there are on either side.
§ The Prime Minister
I repeat that nobody knows how many there are on either side. The first thing to do is to ascertain the numbers, and if they can be ascertained by an international Commission, as is proposed, then the proposal is that the withdrawals shall be in the proportion of those numbers as found on the two sides.
§ Mr. Attlee
That was not stated in the Italian Note. Is the Commission to go on and make arrangements for a total withdrawal? The Italian suggestion was that first there should be a withdrawal of man for man on each side, and what I was asking was what would be the 170 amount, because if I am correct, or if the general reports are correct, there are four or five times as many on the rebel side as on the Government side.
§ The Prime Minister
That is the point that I was coming to. Let us be quite clear. The ultimate proposal is that all the volunteers should be withdrawn, and if that is so, obviously there must be more on one side withdrawn than on the other, if the numbers are greater on one side than on the other. The only question, therefore, is what is to happen in the meantime. It may take some time, and surely we are not going to wait and have no withdrawals at all until these figures are accurately ascertained. Therefore, the proposal is that what is called a token withdrawal should take place, of a comparatively small number, and that that number should be equal on the two sides.
§ The Prime Minister
I said a comparatively trifling or small amount, but the number has not actually been fixed. Supposing it was 5,000. I do not say it is, for a moment—it may not be as many as that—but supposing it was 5,000 from either side, I do not think there is anything unfair in that. The surplus of volunteers on one side would remain exactly the same as before the withdrawals. The next question of the right hon. Gentleman was whether, while this withdrawal was taking place, it would be open to other Powers to go on pouring arms and munitions or weapons into Spain. Of course, anything of the kind would stultify the whole procedure, and the proposal is this, to see that there shall be no further intervention while withdrawals are taking place. Anyhow, the Government would not consider an arrangement at all satisfactory or acceptable which allowed further volunteers to be poured in while nominally we were withdrawing troops already there.
Several questions were asked by the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair). I am not going to answer all his questions, because I put it to him, What is the use of digging now into the past and giving figures of Italian troops alleged to have been landed here or 171 landed there? But, as a matter of fact, as far as I can make out, there is no official confirmation of the landings of those troops which are alleged to have landed in Spain. But whether it was the fact or not, if we are now going to get on with the business, there is no useful purpose to be served by digging into the past. We want to deal with the present and future rather than with the past.
There is one point on which I do not want to forget to say something, and that is in reply to various questions that have been put to me, notably in the opening words of the hon. Member who spoke last, who made an appeal on behalf of the people of Gijon, a place which, according to the latest information, has now fallen. It is late in the day, but we have instructed our Ambassador to support with all the influence that he can bring to bear an appeal which has been made to General Franco by the French Government to use those who have been taken prisoner with all, the humanity possible. While I am speaking of this place, I do rather resent the suggestions that were made by the Leader of the Opposition and by some others that the British Government in their humanitarian efforts have favoured one side. It was suggested that we had been very ready to help refugees from Franco's side but that there has not been equal willingness to assist those on the other side. There is no foundation for that.
§ Mr. Attlee
I suggested there were certain technicalities with regard to territorial waters that had not been objected to when it was a question of rescuing Franco, but which were said to be standing in the way of rescuing the supporters of the Government.
§ The Prime Minister
I do not want to go into that, but the right hon. Gentleman will be surprised to hear that from this town of Gijon alone we have removed no fewer than 30,000 refugees in British ships under the protection of the British flag.
I want to say a word about the Balearic Islands. It has been suggested that even if all goes well with the withdrawal of volunteers, nevertheless when the war is over we may find Italians still in Spain, still in possession of some of the Balearic Islands and possibly in possession of other parts which might be used for 172 military purposes. These are very serious suggestions and I do not underrate them for a moment. I know that the idea that the Italian Government have some such notions in their minds is very widely held, not only in this country, but I believe that idea to be unfounded. We have had repeated and most categorical assurances from the Italian Government. In September last year we received an assurance from that Government that they did not contemplate any deal with the Spanish insurgents for the cession of Ceuta, Spanish Morocco or the Balearic Islands. This assurance was recalled in the exchange of notes of 3ist December which was published as a White Paper. On that occasion the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs wrote that:So far as Italy is concerned the integrity of the present territories of Spain shall in all circumstances remain intact and unmodified.Since then we have several times had reaffirmation of those assurances, and as lately as the 15th of this month our Ambassador, Lord Perth, was assured by the Italian Foreign Minister that Italy had no territorial, strategic or even economic designs on Spain. Moreover, the Italian delegate at Geneva declared to the French Foreign Secretary last month that Italy had no intention of making the smallest change in the territorial status of Spain and had no designs on the Balearic Islands and that the integrity, the continental and insular territory of Spain would be respected.
I accept those assurances as being given in good faith. I am very glad that they have been given. They relieve us of the necessity even of considering a situation which, if it had made any material change in the military conditions in the Western Mediterranean, would have been a matter of serious concern to His Majesty's Government. Happily that is not the case, and I hope very much that the change which took place yesterday in the Non-Interventicn Committee may be taken as the commencement of a process which will presently remove the danger which has been so present to our minds all through lest this conflict in Spain should spread outside the borders of that country, and that once the question of Spain is out of the way we may get down to the deeper and more serious causes of European unrest and anxiety. I would like to say a word or two about the Far East.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
I thought the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that the movement of troops to Libya is carrying out a process the beginning of which was announced as long ago as April last, and we have no reason to suppose that it has any connection with current events.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
The Leader of the Opposition and also the right hon. Member for Caithness both expressed regret and surprise that my right hon. Friend had not spoken again of the speech which was delivered by President Roosevelt, although he and I took the first opportunity after that speech was made public of expressing our satisfaction at what President Roosevelt had said and our intention to co-operate with him as far as 1:hat might be possible. If I may quote the words I myself used, the right hon. Gentleman will see that he had no grounds for suggesting that we, in contradistinction to President Roosevelt, have no ideas and no policy and no word of welcome for the gesture made by the President from across the Atlantic. I said:In his declaration of the necessity for a return to a belief in the pledged word and the sanctity of treaties he has voiced the convictions of this country as well as of his own, and in his call for a concerted effort in the cause of peace he will have this Government whole-heartedly with him.I do not know what more I could have said. Since then there have been some developments. We now have arrangements made for the meeting of the conference of the Powers which signed the Nine-Power Treaty and probably some other countries as well. That will be the occasion for the concerted effort of which the President spoke, and I would like to say this, that when the right hon. Gentleman demands that we should say here and now not only how we are going to begin that conference but what will be our action if all sorts of hypothetical circumstances arise in the course of the Conference, I suggest that he is not there offering the words of wisdom which I should expect from his experience. To say beforehand, before consultation with any of those who are going to take part 174 in the Conference, what you will do is the very worst way of getting that concerted effort which is what the President has asked for and which, I understand, the right hon. Gentleman himself would like to see. No, Sir, we know perfectly well what the Conference is for. The Conference is to try to restore peace in the Far East—and that is sufficient to go on with. Do not let us, then, adopt the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition and begin to say what we are going to do if we find it impossible to make peace by peaceful methods.
When the right hon. Gentleman suggests that he would like to see us put an embargo upon Japan, by which I understand him to mean a financial and economic boycott of Japan, let him consider carefully the analysis of the situation which was made by the right hon. Member for Caithness. The right hon. Gentleman said, "It may be that if you can get certain countries to join with you in this process of economic boycott you can put such pressure upon Japan that in time"—do not know how long, but in time—"she may be forced to desist from further military operations in China, but you must bear in mind that if you are going to do that there may be some counter action by Japan, and that if you are to meet that you must be assured beforehand of sufficient force to enable you to overwhelm it." He added, too, that we could not be the country to lead in the application of that force and suggested that the lead if it came from anybody, would have to come from the United States. I commend that analysis to the consideration of the House in general and the right hon. Gentleman in particular. They may be able to measure in their own minds what are the prospects of a successful application economic pressure when one of the conditions behind it is of that formidable nature.
I suggest that it is altogether a mistake to go into this conference talking about economic sanctions, economic pressure and force. We are here to make peace, not here to extend the conflict. The first thing we have to do is to see what means, by concerted effort, can be brought to bear in order to bring about the peaceful solution of the problem. Do not let us allow our minds to be distracted by hypothetical considerations which have not yet arisen, but let us put our whole force and our whole energy, with all the co-opera- 175 tion we can get from others, into the task of saving those lives which are daily being sacrificed in this terrible warfare which is going on to-day.
|Division No. 323]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Eckersley, P. T.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Mitcheson. Sir G. G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Moreing, A. C.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E||Morris-Jones. Sir Henry|
|Apsley, Lord||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Elmley, Viscount||Munro, P.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Emery, J. F.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Nicholson, G. (Farnham)|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Errington, E.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Balniel, Lord||Fleming, E. L.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Furness, S. N.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Porritt, R. W.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Gledhill, G.||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Beeohman, N. A.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Radford, E. A.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Grant-Ferris, R.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Granville, E. L.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Grimston, R. V.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bracken, B.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Brass, Sir W.||Hannah, I. C.||Royds, Admiral P. M. R.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Russell, Sir Alexandrer|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Bull, B. B.||Haslam, Henry (Hornoastle)||Salt, E. W.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Salley, H. R.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Holmes, J. S.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Hopkinson, A.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Cary, R. A.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hulbert, N. J.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hunter, T.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Hutchinson, G. C.||Spears, Brigadier-General E L.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Spens. W. P.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Stanley, RI. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Joel, D. J. B.||Storey, S.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Keeling, E. H.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Cox, H. B. T.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Levy, T.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lewis, O.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lipson, D. L.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lloyd, G. W.||Turton, R. H.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Loftus, P. C.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Lyons, A. M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|De Chair, S. S.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Denman, Hon, R. D.||M'Connell, Sir J.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Denville, Alfred||McCorquodale, M. S.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Doland, G. F.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Dormer, P. W.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Dower, Major A. V. G.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Wise, A. R.|
|Drewe, C.||Macquisten, F. A.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Magnay, T.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Mr. Cross and Captain Hope.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Adamson, W. M.||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Ammon, C. G.||Barnes, A. J.|
|Adams. D. (Consett)||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Batey, J.|
§ Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 204; Noes, III.177
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hardie, Agnes||Oliver, G. H.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Paling, W.|
|Bevan, A.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Parker, J.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Pethiok-Lawrenoe, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hopkin, D.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jagger, J.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Charlatan, H. C.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Ridley, G.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Daggar, G||Kelly, W. T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Dalton, H.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kirby, B. V.||Silkin, L.|
|Davis:, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lathan, G.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Day, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Debbie, W.||Leach, W.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'hn's)|
|Dunn, E. (Rather Valley)||Lee, F.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Ede, J. C.||Ladle, J. R.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Lunn, W.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||McEntee, V. La T.||Stephen, C.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||McGovern, J.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Foot, D. M.||Maclean, N.||Thurtle, E.|
|Frankel, D.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Viant, S. P.|
|Gallacher, W.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Walker, J.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Mander, G. le M.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Marshall, F.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Marton, J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Messer, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Milner, Major J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Groves, T. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Mr. John and Mr. Mashers.|
|Adjourned accordingly at Nine Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.|