HC Deb 30 November 1938 vol 342 cc410-1
46. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government intend to secure air parity with Germany, with a view to bringing about an international air limitation agreement?

The Prime Minister

The policy of His Majesty's Government as explained by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air on the 10th of this month, is, without withdrawing any of our previous declarations, to build up an Air Force adequate to ensure the protection of this country, the preservation of our trade routes, and the defence of British territories overseas, as well as to fulfil our international responsibilities and to co-operate in the defence of the territories of our Allies in case of war. As I said on 1st November, the Government is also aiming at the limitation of armaments by agreement as a first stage to practical abolition. We believe the steps we are taking to strengthen the Royal Air Force will contribute to this end.

Mr. Henderson

May I ask the Prime Minister whether the statement made by his predecessor, that His Majesty's Government intended to achieve air parity with any country within striking distance of these shores, still holds good with His Majesty's Government?

The Prime Minister

I said in my answer, "without withdrawing any of our previous declarations."

Mr. Alexander

Are we to understand now, from the Prime Minister's answer, that the real programme of the Government is to exceed parity with the largest striking force in Europe, having regard to the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just quoted from the Secretary of State for Air?

The Prime Minister

I do not think I can add anything to the statement I have made.

Mr. Mander

Do the Government think they have the faintest chance of doing that by their present methods?