HC Deb 31 May 1938 vol 336 cc1832-4
Mr. Attlee (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether he will publish a White Paper setting forth the measures contemplated by the Government in the event of an outbreak of war?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

No, Sir. Any plans for dealing with the situation that would arise in the event of war will be laid before Parliament if and when the occasion should arise.

Mr. Attlee

Does not the Prime Minister think it unfortunate in that case that statements should be made by a responsible Minister in the course of a Debate which are liable to arouse grave misapprehensions in the minds of the people?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware of any such statement.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

The Prime Minister is probably aware that the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence stated that there was a Conscription Act in draft?

The Prime Minister

I do not think he said anything of the kind.

Mr. Benn

Will the right hon. Gentleman read the passage in the OFFICIAL REPORT in which the Minister was asked whether there was in existence a Conscription Act, and he replied: I said so as plainly as I could."— Vol. [OFFICIAL REPORT, 3oth May, 1938; col. 1778,Vol.336]

Mr. Mander

May I ask the Prime Minister whether the plans for conscription to which lie has referred will also deal with the conscription of wealth?

Mr. A. Bevan

Do we understand that the Prime Minister rejects the statement of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence last night?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Buchanan

In view of the conflicting statements and the feeling about this matter should not the Prime Minister take this or another opportunity to make the position clear?

The Prime Minister

If another opportunity presents itself, and if there is any doubt upon the subject I have no doubt that some Members of the Government will be able to make the situation clear.

Mr. Attlee

Surely the Prime Minister realises now that there is some doubt about it, for he himself apparently did not know what his colleague said. Ought he not now to take the opportunity of making a statement on this matter?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that the opportunity to make a statement is in reply to a question. It would be of greater length than can be given in reply to the question.

Mr. Attlee

I take it that the right hon. Gentleman will take an early opportunity when there is a suitable occasion to make a statement?

The Prime Minister

I understand there is a Question on the Paper in regard to that. Perhaps we had better wait for it.