HC Deb 15 December 1938 vol 342 cc2167-8
47. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech delivered by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, in London, on 13th December, relating to the future of the British Commonwealth of Nations expresses the policy of His Majesty's Government?

48. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether the recent speech of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, concerning the British Empire, represents the policy of the Government?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend's speech, which was only partially reported in the Press, included a statement of various influences at work within the British Commonwealth of Nations, and gave the reasons for his firm faith that the nations of the Commonwealth will survive in co-operation together whatever crises they might have to face in the future. His Majesty's Government certainly fully share that faith.

Mr. Henderson

May I ask whether, in present circumstances, it would not be better if Ministers confined themselves to dealing with matters of policy rather than speculating as to hypothetical matters?

The Prime Minister

I think my right hon. Friend's speech was a very brilliant and statesmanlike exposition.

Sir Louis Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a large body of Conservatives who heard this statement welcomed it as a well-balanced and most helpful speech?

Mr. De Chair

Is it not a fact that this report was based upon a single news agency report, and can my right hon. Friend give us an assurance that before a Cabinet Minister is going to make an important speech in future, all the leading news agencies and newspapers will receive an invitation?

Mr. Mander

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a good many people outside the Government do not think the British Empire is likely to survive with the present Government?