§ 2.54 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister
I beg to move:That the following provisions shall have effect with respect to the Business of this day's Sitting:—3A Bill to confer on His Majesty certain powers which it is expedient that His Majesty should be enabled to exercise in the present emergency, and to make further provision for purposes connected with the defence of the realm, may without notice be presented by a Minister of the Crown and forthwith considered and passed through all its stages on the same day, and the requirements of Standing Orders Nos. 64 and 68 and of the practice of the House relating to the imposition of charges upon the people shall be deemed to have been complied with in respect of any provisions of the Bill or of any Amendment thereto moved by a Minister of the Crown which authorise expenditure or the imposition of any such charge.Immediately after the Bill to which this Order applies has been read a Second time it shall be considered in Committee of the whole House." —[Kings Recommendation signified.]When at the beginning of this month hon. Members separated for the Summer Recess I think there can have been few among us who anticipated that many weeks would elapse before we should find ourselves meeting here again. Unfortunately, those anticipations have been fulfilled, and the Government have felt obliged to ask that Parliament should be summoned again, in order to take such new and drastic steps as are required by the gravity of the situation. In the last Debate which we had upon foreign affairs, which took place on 31st July, I observed that the Danzig situation required very careful watching. I expressed my anxiety about the pace at which the accumulation of war weapons was proceeding through out Europe. I referred to the poisoning of public opinion by the propaganda which was going on, and I declared that if that could be stopped and if some action could be taken to restore confidence, I did not believe there was any question which could not be solved by peaceful discussion. I am sorry to say that there has been no sign since of any such action. On the contrary, the international position has steadily deteriorated until to-day we find ourselves confronted with the imminent peril of war.
At the beginning of August, a dispute arose between the Polish Government and the Danzig Senate as to the position and functions of certain Polish Customs officials. It was not a question of major importance. Many more acute difficulties have been easily settled in the past under less tense conditions and even in this case 4 discussions had actually begun between the parties last week. While those discussions were in progress, the German Press opened a violent campaign against the Polish Government. They declared that Danzig could not be the subject of any conference or any compromise and that it must come back to the Reich at once and unconditionally. They went further. They linked up with the Danzig question the question of the Corridor. They attacked the whole policy and the attitude of the Polish Government and they published circumstantial accounts of the alleged ill-treatment of Germans living in Poland. Now we have no means of checking the accuracy of those stories, but we cannot help being struck by the fact that they bear a strong resemblance to similar allegations that were made last year in respect of the Sudeten Germans in Czecho-Slovakia. We must also remember that there is a large Polish minority in Germany and that the treatment of that minority has also been the subject of bitter complaints by the Polish Government.
There is no subject which is calculated to arouse ill-feeling in any country more than statements about the ill-treatment of people of their own race in another country. This is a subject which provides the most inflammable of all materials, the material most likely to cause a general conflagration. In those circumstances one cannot but deeply regret that such incidents, which, if they were established, would naturally excite sympathy for the victims and indignation against the authors of this alleged ill-treatment, should be treated in a way which is calculated still further to embitter the atmosphere and raise the temperature to the danger point. But I think it will be agreed that, in face of this campaign, declarations by Polish statesmen have shown great calm and self-restraint. The Polish leaders, while they have been firm in their determination to resist an attack upon their independence, have been un-provocative. They have always been ready, as I am sure they would be ready now, to discuss differences with the German Government, if they could be sure that those discussions would be carried on without threats of force or violence, and with some confidence that, if agreement were reached, its terms would be respected afterwards permanently, both in the letter and in the spirit. This Press 5 campaign is not the only symptom which is ominously reminiscent of past experience. Military preparations have been made in Germany on such a scale that that country is now in a condition of complete readiness for war, and at the beginning of this week we had word that German troops were beginning to move towards the Polish frontier. It then became evident that a crisis of the first magnitude was approaching, and the Government resolved that the time had come when they must seek the approval of Parliament for further measures of Defence.
That was the situation on Tuesday last, when in Berlin and Moscow it was announced that negotiations had been taking place, and were likely soon to be concluded, for a non-aggression pact between those two countries. I do not attempt to conceal from the House that that announcement came to the Government as a surprise, and a surprise of a very unpleasant character. For some time past there had been rumours about an impending change in the relations between Germany and the Soviet Union, but no inkling of that change had been conveyed either to us or to the French Government by the Soviet Government. The House may remember that on 31st July I re marked that we had engaged upon steps almost unprecedented in character. I said that we had shown a great amount of trust and a strong desire to bring the negotiations with the Soviet Union to a successful conclusion when we agreed to send our soldiers, sailors and airmen to Russia to discuss military plans together before we had any assurance that we should be able to reach an agreement on political matters. Well, Sir, nevertheless, moved by the observation of the Russian Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that if we could come to a successful conclusion of our military discussions, political agreement should not present any insuperable difficulties, we sent the Mission.
The British and French Missions reached Moscow on 11th August. They were warmly received, in friendly fashion, and discussions were actually in progress and had proceeded on a basis of mutual trust when this bombshell was flung down. It, to say the least of it, was highly disturbing to learn that while these conversations were proceeding on that basis, the Soviet Government were secretly negotiat- 6 ing a pact with Germany for purposes which, on the face of it, were inconsistent with the objects of their foreign policy, as we had understood it. I do not propose this afternoon to pass any final judgment upon this incident. That, I think, would be premature until we have had an opportunity of consulting with the French Government as to the meaning and the consequences of this agreement, the text of which was published only this morning. But the question that the Government had to consider when they learned of this announcement was what effect, if any, this changed situation would have upon their own policy. In Berlin the announcement was hailed, with extraordinary cynicism, as a great diplomatic victory which re moved any danger of war since we and France would no longer be likely to fulfill our obligations to Poland. We felt it our first duty to remove any such dangerous illusion.
The House will recollect that the guarantee which we had given to Poland was given before any agreement with Russia was talked of, and that it was not in any way made dependent upon any such agreement being reached. How then could we, with honour, go back upon such an obligation, which we had so often and so plainly repeated? There fore, our first act was to issue a statement that our obligations to Poland and to other countries remained unaffected. Those obligations rest upon agreed statements made to the House of Commons, to which effect is being given in treaties which are at present in an advanced stage of negotiation. Those treaties, when concluded, will formally define our obligations, but they do not in any way alter, they do not add to or subtract from, the obligations of mutual assistance which have already been accepted. The communiqué which we issued to the Press after the meeting of the Cabinet this week spoke also of certain measures of defence which we had adopted. It will be re membered that, as I have said, Germany has an immense army of men already under arms and that military preparations of all kinds have been and are being carried on on a vast scale in that country.
The measures that we have taken up to now are of a precautionary and defensive character, and to give effect to our determination to put this country in a state of preparedness to meet any emergency, but I wish emphatically to 7 repudiate any suggestion, if such a suggestion should be made, that these measures imply an act of menace. Nothing that we have done or that we propose to do menaces the legitimate interests of Germany. It is not an act of menace to prepare to help friends to defend themselves against force. If neighbours wishing to live together peace fully in friendly relations find that one of them is contemplating apparently an aggressive act of force against another of them, and is making open preparations for action, it is not a menace for the others to announce their intention of aiding the one who is the subject of this threat.
There is another action which has been taken to-day in the financial sphere. Hon. Members will have seen the announcement that the Bank Rate, which has remained at 2 per cent. for a long time past, has to-day been raised to 4 per cent., and the House will recognise that this is a normal protective measure adopted for the purpose of defending our resources in a period of uncertainty. There is in this connection a contribution to be made by British citizens generally. The public can best co-operate in reducing as far as possible any demands which involve directly or indirectly the purchase of foreign exchange; next by scrupulously observing the request of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that capital should not at present be sent or moved out of the country; and, finally, by holding no more foreign assets than are strictly required for the normal purpose of business.
In view of the attitude in Berlin to which I have already referred, His Majesty's Government felt that it was their duty at this moment to leave no possible loophole for misunderstanding, and so that no doubt might exist in the mind of the German Government His Majesty's Ambassador in Berlin was instructed to seek an interview with the German Chancellor and to hand him a message from me on behalf of the British Government. That message was delivered yesterday and the reply was received to-day. The object of my communication to the German Chancellor was to restate our position and to make quite sure that there was no misunderstanding. His Majesty's Government felt that this was all the more necessary having regard 8 to reports which we had received as to the military movements taking place in Germany and as to the then projected German-Soviet Agreement. I, therefore, made it plain, as had been done in the communiqué issued after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, that if the case should arise His Majesty's Government were resolved and prepared to employ without delay all the forces at their command.
On numerous occasions I have stated my conviction that war between our two countries, admitted on all sides to be the greatest calamity that could occur, is not desired either by our own people or the German people. With this fact in mind I informed the German Chancellor that, in our view, there was nothing in the questions arising between Poland and Germany which could not be, and should not be, resolved without the use of force, if only a situation of confidence could be restored. We expressed our willingness to assist in creating the conditions in which such negotiations could take place. The present state of tension creates great difficulties, and I expressed the view that if there could be a truce on all sides to press polemics and all other forms of incitement suitable conditions might be established for direct negotiations between Germany and Poland upon the points at issue. The negotiations could, of course, deal also with the complaints made on either side about the protection of minorities.
The German Chancellor's reply includes what amounts to a re-statement of the German thesis that Eastern Europe is a sphere in which Germany ought to have a free hand. If we— this is the thesis— or any country having less direct interest choose to interfere, the blame for the ensuing conflict will be ours. This thesis entirely misapprehends the British position. We do not seek to claim a special position for ourselves in Eastern Europe. We do not think of asking Germany to sacrifice her national interests, but we cannot agree that national interests can only be secured by the shedding of blood or the destruction of the independence of other States. With regard to the relations between Poland and Germany, the German Chancellor in his reply to me has referred again to the situation at Danzig, drawing attention to the position of that City and of the Corridor, and to 9 the offer which he made early this year to settle these questions by methods of negotiation. I have repeatedly refuted the allegation that it was our guarantee to Poland that decided the Polish Government to refuse the proposals then made. That guarantee was not, in fact, given until after the Polish refusal had been conveyed to the German Government. In view of the delicacy of the situation I must refrain for the present from any further comment upon the communications which have just passed between the two Governments. Catastrophe has not yet come upon us. We must, therefore, still hope that reason and sanity may find a way to reassert themselves. The pronouncement we made recently and what I have said to-day reflects, I am sure, the views of the French Government, with whom we have maintained the customary close contact in pursuance of our well established cordial relations.
Naturally, our minds turn to the Dominions. I appreciate very warmly the pronouncements made by Ministers in other parts of the British Common wealth. The indications that have been given from time to time, in some cases as recently as yesterday, of their sympathy with our patient efforts in the cause of peace, and of their attitude in the un happy event of their proving unsuccessful, are a source of profound encouragement to us in these critical times. The House will, I am sure, share the appreciation with which His Majesty's Government have noted the appeal for peace made yesterday by King Leopold in the name of the heads of the Oslo States, after the meeting in Brussels yesterday of the representatives of those States. It will be evident from what I have said that His Majesty's Government share the hopes to which that appeal gave expression, and earnestly trust that effect will be given to it.
The Foreign Secretary, in a speech made on 29th June to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, set out the fundamental bases of British foreign policy. His observations on that subject, were, I believe, received with general approval. The first basis is our determination to resist methods of force. The second basis is our recognition of the world desire to pursue the constructive work of building peace. If we were once 10 satisfied, my Noble Friend said, that the intentions of others were the same as our own, and if we were satisfied that all wanted peaceful solutions, then, indeed, we could discuss problems which are to day causing the world so much anxiety. That definition of the basic fundamental ground of British policy still stands. We want to see established an international order based upon mutual understanding and mutual confidence, and we cannot build such an order unless it conforms to certain principles which are essential to the establishment of confidence and trust. Those principles must include the observance of international undertakings when they have once been entered into, and the renunciation of force in the settlement of differences. It is because those principles, to which we attach such vital importance, seem to us to be in jeopardy that we have undertaken these tremendous and unprecedented responsibilities.
If, despite all our efforts to find the way of peace— and God knows I have tried my best— if in spite of all that, we find ourselves forced to embark upon a struggle which is bound to be fraught with suffering and misery for all man kind and the end of which no man can foresee, if that should happen, we shall not be fighting for the political future of a far away city in a foreign land; we shall be fighting for the preservation of those principles of which I have spoken, the destruction of which would involve the destruction of all possibility of peace and security for the peoples of the world. This issue of peace or war does not rest with us, and I trust that those with whom the responsibility does lie will think of the millions of human beings whose fate depends upon their actions. For our selves, we have a united country behind us, and in this critical hour I believe that we, in this House of Commons, will stand together, and that this afternoon we shall show the world that, as we think, so we will act, as a united nation.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I think the House is indebted to the Prime Minister for the very clear and full statement he has made of the situation which has developed since we separated. His statement was one of the utmost gravity. The war clouds are gathering; Europe and the world are in the shadows. I think it is the hope of all of us, on all sides 11 If the House, that, even yet, those clouds may be dispelled and the shadows pass away. I would reinforce what the Prime Minister said about the responsibility of those who may drive Europe into war. A terrible and terrifying responsibility lies on the shoulders of him that lets loose the hounds of war.
Now, if I may say some words to which some exception may be taken, I would say what we have said in this House before. This situation has arisen very largely, in our view, from the mistaken policies of the National Government which I and my friends have strongly criticised in the past. I with draw nothing personally of what I have said in criticism of those policies; but we are facing a tragic situation, and I do not therefore, in this time if crisis, propose to rake over the embers of the days that are behind us. While we can not forget the policies of the past, it is clear now that our eyes must peer very closely into the immediate future. The fact that Parliament has assembled is in itself important. It has assembled, as I understand from the Prime Minister, in order that the world may know, without any dubiety, the views of this democratic House of Commons whose liberties and very existence are being threatened by the march of Totalitarianism.
What is the situation? The peace front which most of us hoped for has been greatly impaired by the news of this morning, but Britain and France remain firmly in alliance and close friendship. They have other friends. We have undertaken obligations with regard to Poland; obligations which the Prime Minister has reminded us were entered into prior to the discussions with the U.S.S.R., and in that sense we are in no worse a position than we should have been had the blow fallen earlier. That may be cold comfort, but at least the fact that we did at that time enter into those obligations without knowing that there was any possibility of help from the U.S.S.R. ought to confirm us in our attitude.
My main purpose is to try to make clear the attitude of the Opposition on the whole situation as regards the general lay-out of policy. I should like, if I may, to read to the House a declaration which was issued last night by the National 12 Council of Labour. That body is, in a sense, the most weighty body in the Labour movement, representative of both its industrial and political sides. The declaration says:The council again declared its desire for a just and peaceful settlement of all inter national disputes, but repeated the determination of the Labour movement that there should be no weakening in its declared policy of collective resistance to any further act of aggression by the German Government. In view of the growing gravity of the situation, the council reaffirmed its steadfast resolve that the obligations undertaken by Britain in de fence of the independence of Poland shall be honoured to the full.This is a reaffirmation of Labour's established policy, a policy on which it has never wavered, and which it has repeatedly confirmed— on the last occasion so recently as Whitsuntide this year. I speak for millions of Labour supporters in this country when I say that we take not one syllable or one comma away from any of our declarations. We still stand over them, without qualification and without hesitation. We are not supporters of this Government, but let no one abroad think that Labour will ever be a willing party to acquiescing in any further acts of aggression. The world must be made to know that in this attitude of resistance against aggression British Labour is un shaken. The issue, however, is not whether we like this Government or not. My views on this Government are perfectly well known. Our differences will still remain. But the point is that Labour abominates aggression, and believes that only by preventing it, or resisting it, can civilisation and orderly relations between the nations be maintained. I emphasise this because I wish to make it unmistakably plain to those beyond the seas that if, unfortunately, the time comes when this policy has to be implemented, they will not find here a disunited people. Unity on that issue will be complete, and the issue will be faced with confidence and fortitude.
But, even at this late stage, if the dread event can be averted— and I still hope that there may be influences in Germany powerful enough to respond to an appeal to reason—every conceivable step will be taken to avert it. The right hon. Gentle man referred' to the Foreign Secretary's speech towards the end of June. Earlier than that, in this House, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in the last speech he made—and I hope he 13 will shortly be making more speeches— referred to the necessity for a constructive peace policy, and urged it in words some of which I will quote:To-day I would ask the Government to consider the need for getting a positive peace policy as well as a firm policy in this emergency. … I think that a policy of what we call considering only British interests is impracticable, because we cannot divorce British interests from the interests of world civilisation. We can only preserve British interests in so far as they are consonant with and serve the greater interests of humanity. Without a firm policy of resistance to aggression, and without a bold policy for removing the causes of war, this country and the British Empire will drift into disaster, a disaster which will overthrow something greater even than the British Empire and this country, that is, the free spirit of human beings." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th May, 1939; col. 1829, Vol. 347.]Although the clouds are dark, if other steps can be taken to make constructive proposals I hope they will be taken, and I hope we can convince the German people that we are fundamentally a reasonable nation. If there are legitimate grievances it is not beyond the wit of man to remove them without resort to violence. I would urge the Government, therefore, to take every possible step, consistent with the national honour, to avert disaster, so that it shall not be said, if the worst should happen, that Britain was in any way responsible for the tragedy. That is the main point of what I have to say. Finally, let me say that we bear no hostility to the German people. British Labour has on occasions sent that message to the German people, so far as we have been able to do it. War would be as disastrous to them as it would be to us. Civilisation would rattle back to barbarism, and victor and vanquished alike would be crushed under the ruins. It is this tragedy which they, with us, ought earnestly to seek to avoid, not for ourselves alone but for the future of the human race. To-day Britain speaks, through various voices. I think we should let it be known that Britain will tread the path of peace with the other nations, on a basis of peaceful and just settlement of outstanding questions of all kinds, but Britain will not march with the aggressor and the law-breaker. The peril of war comes not from us. No democratic country will make war, but Britain, with others, will defend their own liberties and the liberties of those who are threatened by force, realising that a 14 threat to the liberty of one is a threat to the liberties of all. The aggressor must know that in our view liberty, like peace, is indivisible. That is the lesson that ought to go from this Chamber to-day to the potential aggressor.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
Let me, in the first place, associate myself with the tribute which the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition paid to the firm, lucid and sombre speech of the Prime Minister. Like the right hon. Gentleman who pre ceded me, I do not wish to withdraw or abate one jot of the criticism which I have levelled against the policy of His Majesty's Government in the past, but a time when the liberties of Europe are being threatened by a thrust for world domination, when our own country is in danger, and when our homes and families are being deprived slowly, gradually, inexorably of the light and blessing of peace, is no time for controversy, and still less for recrimination. It is a time for closing our ranks and for a demonstration of unity and prompt action by Parliament, for in such a demonstration— would, Mr. Speaker, that it had been made a year ago— lies the last hope of convincing the aggressor of the firmness of our purpose and of deterring him from gambling on war for the achievement of his aims.
The reality behind the policy of Herr Hitler is his reliance upon force. First, for the maintenance of his own government at home. That imposes upon him the policy of representing force to the German people as the only means by which they can wrest the rightful heritage of a young and vigorous nation from what he affects to regard as the old and effete democracies like Britain and France to-day, and perhaps America to-morrow. It is not upon moral justification that he relies to secure the support of his people, but upon propaganda and upon succes—success in the attainment of, apparently, limited objectives one after another— and he uses and discards political principles and ideas, such as the anti-Comintern Pact, and self-determination, just as it suits him either to gather friends and allies in a particular situation or to mask his real intentions and to bamboozle his opponents. What is at stake, therefore, in Herr Hitler's demand for Danzig is not some triviality 15 which we could concede without damaging the interests of Britain. If we yield on that we should have to face, in the near future, further demands, each one more threatening to our vital interests, and we should have to face such demands, weakened and discredited by our betrayal of the Poles, to whom the sup port of Britain is pledged in honour. We should be a nation upon whom our best friends and closest allies would hesitate to rely. With diminishing power and in increasing loneliness, incapable of appealing to the conscience of the world in the name of freedom, law and justice, for which we should have proved our selves unwilling to make sacrifices, we should have to await the onslaught of the dictatorships on the power and wealth of the British Empire and on the homes and liberties of our people.
It is yet too early to assess the precise value and significance, or to predict the duration, of the Russo-German Pact which was signed in Moscow this morning. Its clear implication, however, is that it is to the British Empire rather than to Russia that Herr Hitler will in future look for his territorial living space. If I might venture one further observation upon that Agreement, it would be this. Article 2 reads as follows:If one of the contracting Powers should become the object of warlike action on the part of a third Power "—not agression—nor apparently would it make any difference if the warlike action was the result of aggression against a third Power by Germany—the other contracting Power will in no way support the third Power.The conclusion of such an agreement with the Nazi Government by the Soviet Government at a time when the Soviet Government was strongly demanding the right to move troops through Poland in order to help to resist possible German aggression against that country is almost incomprehensible; but before coming to a final judgment we must, as the Prime Minister has said this afternoon, await the explanation which the Soviet Government will, no doubt, offer in due course to its own people and to the world.
Let me only say this in conclusion. I have been a steady and consistent critic of the Government's foreign policy, and nothing that has happened in recent weeks 16 since the House rose has given me ground to withdraw my criticism. But now that we are in a crisis, criticism must be put aside. We must rally on the ground of that Chatham House speech which the Prime Minister has just quoted to the House; with those two twin pillars of policy—determination to resist force on the one hand, and determination also to pursue the constructive work of building peace on the other. Now that His Majesty's Government in the exercise of a responsibility which none of us in the absence of full information can share, has decided on its course of action, any suggestion of hesitation, disunity or infirmity of purpose would encourage the enemies of peace in Germany. Let us give the world to-day, by speech and action, an impressive and convincing demonstration that, when the vital interests of our country, the moral values of civilised life and the peace of the world are menaced by brutal force, the British Parliament and the British people stand firmly with the people of France, without hatred or hostility towards the German or any other people, in the defence of these principles of international good faith, freedom and justice, on which alone we can establish lasting peace.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Lansbury
I am quite sure that the House will bear with me for a few minutes while I try to put a point of view with which, in all probability, nearly all the Members will disagree. I should like at the outset to say, in order to prevent any misunderstanding either in this House or elsewhere, that I do not claim that, in what I am about to say, I shall represent anything more than a tiny minority in the country. When Ministers and others claim that they have behind them the overwhelming mass of the people, I am quite aware that that statement is true. There is, and I should be a moral coward if I did not put my case, a minority in the country who do not accept—there is a tiny minority in this House who do not accept— the view that by force wrong can be righted and peace can be secured. The last time that I spoke in a foreign affairs debate I tried to show the growth of power which went on from generation to generation, from one Government to another. To me it is an astounding fact that nations, just like individuals, for nations are aggre- 17 gates of individuals, never seem to learn from experience. We have heard to-day that we must meet force by force. That statement has been made in this House many times in the past, but the end of meeting force by force has always been the same.
I should like to call the attention of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to a statement made by General Smuts, which is recorded in the "Times" of to-day:There were people who held that war in Europe would mean the end of the old order and of the old civilisation. A new Far Eastern civilisation may arise in Asia or a new Far Western civilisation in America, but Europe will commit suicide in the next great war. If European nations cannot maintain peace it will be the end of their leader ship and the end of their power.No pacifist could make a more clear statement of the futility of war than that which I have just read as having been made by General Smuts yesterday. I listened to the Prime Minister this afternoon. Often when I have listened to him on foreign affairs I would have given a great deal, if I had it to give, to have been able to stand up and say that I could wholeheartedly support him, because whatever my friends may think I believe that, rightly or wrongly, from the point of view of policy, he has done his very utmost to preserve peace. Nothing would have made my old age more comfortable with pleasure than if I could have found my self for once standing behind any states man who was taking his stand, even in a mistaken manner, for peace. I cannot, however, follow the right hon. Gentle man, because in the end he comes back to the same old policy that to get peace you must fight; you must destroy for peace. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say that that will be only if it be necessary, and if the conditions compel him to do so. I wish it were possible that I could hold that point of view. It is not a nice thing for any of us to stand as it were against the overwhelming majority of one's countrymen, but my whole conviction, and it is stronger to-day than ever, strengthened by statements made by men like General Smuts and others, that if this catastrophe takes place it will be the end of the civilisation in which my life has been spent, and from which men and women of my age expected so much.
We are facing up to this terrible situation, that perhaps within a few hours this 18 event may happen. Yesterday King Leopold, for the third or fourth time, made a noble appeal to the Governments that have power. His Majesty was kind enough three weeks ago to allow me to meet him, and I learned at first hand to understand his point of view, and what had moved him to make the appeals that he has made to Governments to prevent this catastrophe. He has now made this last appeal, and I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition for his statement this afternoon. In spite of the determination on all sides of the House, except in the case of a tiny minority, to fight in certain conditions, nobody has yet closed the door. That is to say, we have not yet said that it is utterly impossible that talks may take place. I had hoped that out of the conference yesterday a concrete proposal for a conference would have emerged, but for reasons, which I know nothing about, the only thing that has come out is an appeal to the Powers. The British Government in their statement, said what has been said several times that the Government believe, and hon. and right hon. Friends on the Opposition benches have also said, that there are no questions at issue in Europe to-day which cannot be settled and should not be settled by discussion.
I hope the House will bear with me when I remind them that two years ago last April Herr Hitler published a declaration that the German Government at that time would be quite willing to attend a new conference if such a conference were summoned either by the President of the United States of America or by any other responsible statesmen in Europe or else where. Nothing happened, and through months we have drifted into a situation out of which came the smashing up of Czecho-Slovakia and other terrible happenings in Europe, until at this moment we are faced with the present grave position. I still believe that if one of the Governments, either the United States Government or our own, at this eleventh hour, or nearly the twelfth hour, were to ask for a conference without any conditions, but that the men should come together as a statesman in Washington said to me a little more than two years ago—"come together without any programme and sit round a table, and one of them gave a lead and said 'The world is going to perdition, we men are respon- 19 sible, what are we going to do about it?'" then, as that statesman said also, "We should not get very far perhaps for a week, but our minds would be turned from thinking how we can destroy the world to thinking how we can pre serve the world."
I know I shall be told that I do not understand Herr Hitler and Colonel Beck and Signor Mussolini. It happens that I know their prototypes in this country. Men and women everywhere are much the same, and statesmen are much the same in all countries. [Hon. Members: "No."] I may be allowed to express that opinion after having met all of them. I have that advantage, that I have seen them all face to face and talked to them, or rather they talked to me face to face. [Laughter.] I notice that that rather jeering cheer means that they did not listen to me. Do not you believe it. I am not the sort of person who is talked down to; I can talk down to people as well as they can to me. The point I am making, and I make it in all seriousness, is that there are two men in Europe who, in my judgment, hold the peace of the world in their hands. One is Joseph Stalin and the other is Herr Hitler. If I were the Prime Minister I should write to Stalin or telegraph to him and tell him that I was going to see him as soon as an aeroplane could get me there. I know that there are people who all the time have thought that it was wrong to have dealings with the Bolshevists. But I happen to have spent five hours with Joseph Stalin and I do not believe, and I shall not believe till the event proves it, that either Stalin or any other member of the Russian Government de sires anything else but peace for Russia and peace for the world. But we are in a situation now in which there is a worse deadlock than any we have had to face before. I want to ask quite definitely that a response be made both to the appeal made by General Smuts and the appeal made by King Leopold, and that we will not just pass all this emergency legislation, but that some other steps, concrete steps, will be taken to bring about a meeting of those most concerned.
I repeat that I regret very much that I am unable to stand in with all my colleagues here and be behind the Government. If war comes I shall take 20 exactly the line that I took in the last War. I cannot help in a war, but I shall do my best in my own Division to help the victims who will be all around me. My district will probably be one that is attacked very early. But whether that is so or not, if war comes—I want to disabuse my mind of the idea that war is likely to come—I want to feel that this House will tell the Prime Minister that, while they give him powers which they are obliged to give him if they support his policy, while they give him that power, I beg the House also to say to him, "We think you must take the initiative in bringing together these people. It is not enough to say that these questions can be settled by argument and by discussion. What is needed is a definite call to come round a table, and without conditions to discuss, as in a great labour dispute, the question at issue and try in an honest and decent way to find a solution."
Finally, and let us make no mistake about it, I say this to the whole House: Most hon. Members are much better educated than I am. They probably know history much better than I do, but the whole record of history proves that over and over again men have sought to establish peace through war and over and over again they have failed. How dare we old men send another 10,000,000 or 20,000,000 of the youth of the world to be again massacred for this chimera of peace through slaughter? Peace can come only when the nations of the world are prepared to do justice by one another. I believe that our people are willing to make great sacrifices for peace, not mere war for peace, but sacrifices of prestige and possessions. I believe that they are willing to do that. But what they want is somewhere in the country to find a body of men who will give them the lead.
§ Mr. W. A. Robinson
On a point of Order. Am I right in assuming that the only two persons who have met Hen-Hitler are Mr. Lansbury and—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]— I want guidance.
§ Mr. Robinson
Am I right in assuming that the only two Members of the House who have met Herr Hitler are the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. 21 Lansbury) and the Prime Minister; and is it not more satisfactory to this House that, having seen him, they feel more deter mined than ever that the policy is right?
§ 4.13 p.m.
Mr. Max ton
I rise for a reason similar to that of the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), and in order to put forward similar views. I am one of what I believe is a united House in desiring that peace shall be maintained in the world; and so far as the Prime Minister has struggled for peace, neither I nor my hon. Friends here have put any obstacles in his way. Indeed, we have approved steps that the right hon. Gentle man has taken that have not generally received approval in the Opposition. When the Prime Minister proceeded to make his pact proposal, my hon. Friends and I dissented, believing that that was not a step that was making for peace. I am not going to argue the merits of that now, nor the situation that we are in at the present time. I believe that the Prime Minister in taking that step believed that he was taking a step that would make for peace. With all the peace sentiments that have been expressed this afternoon I am in complete agreement, but I do not conceal from myself, because of the very strong peace feeling in the House and the way in which it has been expressed by all spokesmen up to now, that what the Government are getting from the House at this moment is a mandate for war in certain eventualities. At that point I am afraid that my hon. Friends and I part company with the Government, with the official Opposition and with the Independent Liberals behind me.
As the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley has said, mankind has tried for 2,000 years to find civilisation along this road. Every country in the world has the dead bodies of men who have believed that war could achieve it. Every country in the world has its flags and war trophies, and here we are now standing at cross roads where we are faced with the possibilities of a bigger and more horrible holocaust than ever before. How many times has mankind to try the ordeal of war? How many times has mankind to go through it before realising the complete futility of this way of getting to higher ways of life?
§ Mr. Maxton
Yes, but he then said that we will try it again. [Hon. Members: "No."] If we are forced to do it; if someone else fires the first shot, we will let loose the second, and the world is in it. I shall not attempt to estimate the extent and the duration of this struggle. I shall not attempt to estimate the cost to human happiness of this struggle, but every one of us can realise that if war breaks out it is going to be of great extent and long duration, and the thing that angers me more than anything else, from the point of view of my particular political philosophy, is the fact that these years that are just now opening up to us could be the greatest years for human elevation with which humanity has ever been presented. I have to record my opposition to the Prime Minister's mandate to go to war. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Gentlemen will allow me to interpret the meaning of these proceedings in my own way. But I give to the Prime Minister a complete mandate and complete support for him to go out in the world, a warring world, a world of inflamed passions, a world ready to hurl millions of tons of scrap iron through the air at one another —to go out to the world and make a call for the nations of the world to build a new civilisation, a civilisation which will abolish poverty and inequalities, a civilisation to which Great Britain is pre pared to give, not a civilisation out of which some sections of humanity are going to take. The Prime Minister has our support for any action he may take for a great new world campaign for world civilisation. For war, he has no support from us.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden
It is not my intention to delay the House for more than a few moments. As I conceive it, this is an occasion upon which we must each of us try to contribute something to the expression of that national unity which undoubtedly exists in the country at this time. We all appreciate the sincerity with which the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has expressed his point of view. He is not alone in hating war. That is an issue upon which we all join. Nor is he alone in believing that the continuance of a state of war is the continuance of a state of barbarity. Indeed, man's whole effort in creating civilisation has been an effort to attempt to build up some system of international order which will make it 23 impossible for us to lapse into a state of barbarism. But if it is true that it takes two to make a quarrel, it is also true that it takes two to make a peace. I have tried in vain to see any small indication of reciprocity, however many concessions we may make, however far we may go along the path to meet the demands. Surely recent experience has shown us that the only result is more demands, more unjust and more ruthless demands, at the expense, not of ourselves, perhaps, as yet, but of other people.
As I conceive it, the House has met to-day not in a mood of demonstration, still less of recrimination, but rather in a mood of sober resolution. The Prime Minister's declaration has, I believe, voiced the feelings of the people of this country. The situation with which we are faced is, in my judgment, as grave and as perilous as any that this country has faced at any time in its history. I say that deliberately. Everywhere in the world where peoples are still free they are at this moment asking the question— Does this mean war? I believe that at the moment the gravest danger of war lies in the belief of the German people, a belief which has been fostered by every means of a powerful propaganda machine, that whatever action the German Government may take against Poland will not result in war with this country and France. I believe, also, that in signing this Pact with Russia the German Government have made the gravest miscalculation. They appear from their own declarations in their own Press to believe that as a consequence of that Pact we should go back on our pledge to Poland. That is unthinkable; and the Prime Minister has made that plain. In deed, the leaders of the German people would appear to know little of our history if they are unaware of the fact that the greater the odds and the greater the difficulties which the British people have to face, the stronger becomes their determination to stand by those to whom they have pledged their word.
The Prime Minister said that he did not want to take any action in a military sense which might be regarded as provocative. I think we shall all endorse that, but I would add this. I do not believe that the chief danger of war lies in that. I believe that the chief danger of war still lies in the German refusal to believe that we are in earnest in what we say, 24 and, therefore, I say that if any action can be taken in a military sense, such action would only add to the deterrent value of the statements which have been made. There are many things that could be done. I think there is another danger, and not having the responsibility of office I do not see why I should not state it. It is possible that there are at this moment many people in Germany who believe that in the event of hostilities with Poland they may in a few short weeks or months obtain their military objectives in the East, and that, having done that, they appear to believe that we should take no further interest in the matter. If there are any who really think that, they are making the greatest error in history. Having given our pledge and repeated it, there can be no turning back.
Before the House adjourned we had a foreign affairs Debate in the course of which I ventured to forecast that it would not be very long before the Danzig issue was broadened to include the issue of the Corridor and other large areas of Poland. And so it has been. The methods which have been employed are exactly the same as those which were employed against Czecho-Slovakia last year. Step by step and stage by stage the subjugation of Poland has been the object, and if that process is continued, if we do not join with others to resist it now, who can doubt that there will be yet another victim next year? While it is fearful to have to con template the use of force, I am convinced that the attitude of a large and over whelming majority of the House endorses that determination as the only means by which at this late hour we may save Poland, and also save our children from what some of us went through in the years gone by.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
The House has a sincere regard and even affection for the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). They are non-resistant pacifists, and we are apt to be carried away by the eloquence and idealism of their speeches. But I ask them and the House to consider what we should do if, on Sunday next, the German troops march into Poland. It is all very well to say that we want peace at any price, but is it possible for us to be in favour of the Government acting on such 25 lines after they have pledged themselves to support Poland? That is the actual situation. Nor do I see why any of us on these benches should throw bouquets to the Prime Minister. I say that, not with a view of re-introducing criticism of his past, but because I think bouquets are bad for the Prime Minister. We should not be in the position in which we are to-day, or peace in danger, if we had secured by courtesy and by consideration, and even by some sacrifices, an alliance with Soviet Russia which would have made war impossible. If we are in this predicament to-day it is because we have not got Russia behind us, and the fault for that is not by any means the fault of the Russian Government
The question is now, what are we going to do? How are we to stand together as one man in this country in order to carry out the nationally declared and approved policy? I am hopeful that the Government will carry out to the letter their pledge. I am confident that it is only by carrying out their pledge to the letter that we can finally secure peace for Europe. I am most anxious that when the struggle comes, if come it must, that we shall win. For that we must have both a united people and leadership which means to win, leadership which will inspire confidence not only in this country but among our Allies, and respect among our adversaries. I beg the Prime Minister to secure an addition to the defences of Great Britain which we cannot afford to do without. Let us have the Cabinet broadened so that it includes all who have our interests at heart— the defence of peace and victory in war.
I know perfectly well that in Germany to-day they do not believe that the British Government will act, will march. That is the gravest danger to peace, and we could carry no greater conviction to the minds of the German Government and people than by including in the Cabinet those men on the other side of the House whose reputations in Europe are greater in many respects than that of His Majesty's Government as composed at the present time. We want to win, and I disagree entirely with those who say that the end of a war is the same thing for all. If we had been defeated in the last War we should be in the same state as the Czechs to-day. The Germans were defeated in the last War, and they have 26 had a miserable time for 20 years and slavery at the end. If we have to take this dread action to defend the weak in the interests of posterity and civilisation, let us do it armed in the best way, with a Cabinet behind whom all can march united in the confidence that it will secure victory and peace.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Mander
I wish I could think, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) does, that any sort of conference that was held at the present time would be likely to achieve useful results, but we well know, from our experience of the last few years, that when we go to a conference at which one person insists on having 99 per cent. of all that he desires before agreeing to a settlement, no accommodation and no sweet reasonableness can possibly lead to any satisfactory result. I feel that on an occasion like this there is no reason for hon. Members on the back benches being overawed by the solemnity of the occasion. I feel that they should endeavour, temperately and shortly, to say something that is useful to the nation in the present critical situation. There is, of course, a very great deal that many of us would like to say of a highly controversial and critical nature. Nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to give full tongue to the very strong feelings that we have as to recent events, but I do not feel this is the occasion for anything of that kind.
I find myself in full sympathy with the desire for unity at this time. If the Government want to get the co-operation and good will of all sections of the people throughout the length and breath of this land, they have to do certain things. I am sure they have those things in mind, and I mention the matter only because, during the last fortnight, I have, night after night, been in very close touch with my constituents, and I know what they are thinking, which must be the same as people are thinking in the rest of the country. If we are to go into a conflict, or even if we are to have a conflict of nerves, we want a Government which will command the confidence and support of all sections of the population, and inspire that confidence not only here but abroad. There are a great many people who feel that it is strange and unaccountable that those who have been responsible for a 27 foreign policy so contrary to that which is now being carried out should be in charge of an opposite policy at the present time. That is something which it is difficult to explain to foreigners. I most strongly urge upon the Prime Minister— although I am sure he has it in mind— the desirability, in the national interest, of getting the unity that we want, of broadening the basis of the Administration. I will say no more on that, except to press a point which I am sure is in the mind of every thinking person throughout the country at the present time. The Government are going to ask for very far-reaching powers, and there are many of us who might feel considerable reluctance in granting any such powers to a Government in which we have not full confidence. That is another reason why, if you are to get the good will of all sections of the House in granting the powers that may well be required, it is necessary for the Government to command general support.
One or two comments have been made this afternoon on the subject of recent events in connection with Russia. I will make only this comment. Does anybody suppose that if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) had been sent to Moscow, as Foreign Secretary, two months ago, we should not have Russia on our side at the present time? I will not embroider that remark any further. We all understand the great opportunity that we have unnecessarily missed. I hope it is not too late even now for some step of that kind to be taken, possibly even by the right hon. Gentleman himself.
There is one further point I wish to make. What a pity it is at this moment that we have not available for use the machinery of the League of Nations, which ought to be called together in a conflict of this kind for the purpose of calling upon its members, including Russia, to play their part in collective defence. We know that owing to the events of recent years that is no longer possible. But I do say this, that if the people of this country, and particularly the young people, who will possibly be called upon to bear great stress and strain, are to go into it wholeheartedly, there must be some idealism behind our cause, and there is not much of it at 28 the present moment. We have got to do something more than just win a war. We have to see a vision in front of us of a world in which such a thing will be impossible for all time to come. I venture to hope that the idealism behind the League of Nations will be revived and kept in the forefront of all that we do, whether it is a matter of verbal conflict or negotiation, or whether a more grim test has to take place. 1 hope the points I have made may be a contribution to the common stock in promoting unity of ideas in this country, and I hope that some note will be taken of them, for I am sure that the people of this country are thinking very much on those lines at the present time.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I speak as a member of the Communist party, a party that has always stood for, and always will stand for, the defence of the people of this country, a party that has been in the forefront of the fight to maintain and protect the democratic rights so hardly won by the working class of this country, and a party that will continue in the forefront of that fight against Fascist attacks from within and Fascist aggression from without, no matter what the consequences may be. But at the moment Poland is in the centre of European events. The threat to Poland or to Polish independence is imminent. But Poland can be saved and peace maintained if an Anglo-Soviet Pact is signed and Poland changes her attitude towards Russia.
§ Mr. Gallacher
And if an Anglo-Soviet Pact is signed, that itself will cause immediately a change of attitude on the part of Poland. We are for peace, and we are for the unity of all the peace forces in order to maintain peace. We have never faltered in our view that the greatest obstacle to the unity of the peace forces in this country and Europe is the present Government. Their policy has been a policy of tragedy and damnation for the peoples of Europe. We have had the betrayal and invasion of Austria, the open betrayal of republican Spain, which was sold to the Fascists, in the process of which British seamen were done to death.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I will come to that in a moment. Last year we had Munich; the betrayal of Czecho-Slovakia and the democracies of Europe. How much easier it would have been last year if the policy of this side had been adopted and a stand had been made against aggression before the bastions had fallen. The whole of these events have represented a period of the most gross and glaring double crossing. [Interruption.] What of the new situation? Let us face it frankly and sanely. The Prime Minister has said that the Soviet Union have been making an agreement with Germany and that, he says, is inconsistent with Soviet policy as he understood it. It all depends on how the Prime Minister understood it. I declare here that the Non-Aggression Pact does not in any way interfere with the Anglo-Soviet pact of mutual assistance. I declare that you can take any of the articles of that pact and they do not affect in any way the situation in relation to the Franco-Soviet Pact. An attack on France by Germany would immediately bring the franco-Soviet Pact into operation. There is no reason whatever why there should not be a pact of mutual assistance between Britain and Russia and Poland and Russia. The Non-Aggression Pact has been a terrific blow at the fifth column in this country. It is the fifth column that is squealing most.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The Prime Minister spoke of Soviet policy "as we understood it." In March of this year, Joseph Stalin made a very important speech. Will any hon. Member tell me how many news papers in this country published that speech or how many hon. Members read it? Joseph Stalin said:The foreign policy of the Soviet Union is clear and explicit:I warn every hon. Member to pay attention to the third point:
- '(1) We stand for peace and the strengthening of business relations with all countries. That is our position; and we shall adhere to this position as long as these countries maintain like relations with the Soviet Union, and as long as they make no attempt to trespass on the interests of our country.
- (2) We stand for peaceful, close and friendly relations with all the neighbouring countries which have common frontiers with the U.S.S.R. That is our position and we
30 shall adhere to this position as long as these countries maintain like relations with the Soviet Union, and as long as they make no attempt to trespass, directly or in directly, on the integrity and inviolability of the frontiers of the Soviet State.'"We stand for the support of nations which are the victims of aggression and are fighting for the independence of their country.No. 4 says:We are not afraid of threats of aggression and are ready to deal two blows for every blow delivered by instigators of war who attempt to violate the Soviet policy.Stalin says: "We are ready to come to the defence of countries whose independence is threatened." Who came to the assistance of China? Who came to the assistance of Spain? Who at the last moment offered to come to the assistance of Czecho-Slovakia? Was it the British Government, or the "fifth column" which is so strongly represented in this House? No, it was Russia. Russia has proved that she is ready to take a stand in defence of those nations whose independence is threatened. Stalin made such a speech on 10th March, and on 15th March we had such a serious event as the invasion of Prague. Why then was it not possible to have obtained immediately after that a pact of mutual assistance between this country and the Soviet Union? It was because the Prime Minister of this country did not want such a pact, and he does not want it now. How was it possible, if there was a serious desire for a pact, that a clerk should be sent across to negotiate, a clerk whose standing and record in Russia were such as not to help negotiations? How was it possible to negotiate a pact in such circumstances? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said that this was a deliberate insult to a mighty Power. It is of the greatest importance, it is of decisive importance, that we get such a pact.
I remember the conditions under which we met last year, when everybody gave the Prime Minister permission to go to Munich. At the time I drew attention to the disastrous consequences that would follow from that, and hon. Members were yelling at me all the time as they have been doing to-day. If this House took its duties seriously it would not agree 31 to part until a decision had been arrived at that a representative delegation with full power should go to Moscow, or until representatives from Moscow were invited to come here. I would like to make an appeal to Members on this side. Nobody can find fault with the manner in which the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition has maintained his connection with the leaders of the Government as the crisis has developed, but, in view of our knowledge of the responsibility of this Government for the tragic situation that has developed, it would have been of the utmost importance if there had been contact with other sections of the Opposition in order to put an end to the Government and to get a Government, such as many hon. Members have spoken about, which would in spire the confidence and trust of the people. If the Opposition leaders had been brought together they are strong enough, and have sufficient force in the country, to ensure the necessary changes in the Government that would produce a situation in which we would have not a fifth column Government, but a Government that was desirous of peace in its very best sense. It is suggested in a telegram I have received that it would be very good if a delegation representing the Labour movement went with an official delegation from the Government in order to bring about the closest fraternal alliance between the working-class movement of this country and the working-class movement of Russia. Just before I came into the House I had a telegram which said:Make Greenwood fly to Russia. Signed, Holborn Democrats.The idea is good: it means the closest possible association with Russia. We have to face what may become an absolute catastrophe for the people of this country and the people of Europe. We will not hesitate to take our stand at any time against Fascist aggression no matter what the consequences may be. We make no attempt to hide ourselves behind meaningless pacifist phrases. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who is 'we'?"] I am talking about the Communists.
The country is facing a situation that can become catastrophic. It is still possible to save the situation. If all the peace forces of Europe were brought 32 together peace could still be saved, and the independence of Poland could be saved. The British people have never hesitated to face their responsibilities, but they are not going to be led into any position that has any semblance of an Imperialist scramble for gain. For the defence of democratic rights they will take a stand. For the defence of the democratic rights of their neighbours they will take a stand. We can only ensure that the people will be united for that purpose if we have a Government which inspires confidence, if we have the democratisation of the Army so that it will never be used for anything other than the de fence of democratic rights, and if there is complete freedom for the working-class movement. If we can get these things with a Government that represents the true interests of the people and ex presses the desires of the people, we will face whatever hazards lie before us. The fact that Hitler has had to make a Non-Aggression Pact with Russia gives the lie to the stories that were circulated here last year that Germany was invincible, and that if we did not submit it would mean war immediately.
This Non-Aggression Pact not only shows the importance of the Soviet Union in this situation, but it strikes a terrific blow against the activities of the fifth column in this and other countries. Learn that lesson, suppress for good the activities of the "fifth column," and let us get a Government— [An Hon. Member: "What about Ribbentrop's column?"] It is Ribbentrop's column which has been hit so hard on the solar plexus by this Non-Aggression Pact. It is Ribbentrop's column in this country which has been most insistent in putting up propaganda against an Anglo-Soviet pact. Its instructions were carried out through the Press and through innumerable organisations. "Do not have a pact with Russia." That was Ribbentrop's instruction to the fifth column, and while it was carrying out his instructions he went to Moscow to make this Non-Aggression Pact. In the meantime let us have in this country a Government which will express the will and desires of the peaceful and progressive forces, and if we have to face Fascist aggression and the hazard of war we are prepared to take a stand and play our part in defeating it.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger
It may be, as the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has said, that the Government have been rather slow in negotiating with Russia, but I do not think that even that is a sufficient reason for Russia altering her whole policy and entering into a pact with Germany. I do not know what is the interpretation which Germany or Russia puts upon the pact, but I shall watch with considerable interest the reactions in Russia if Germany, as I believe she will do very shortly, makes some attempt to get what she wants in Poland by force.
I do not rise to make a speech; I merely want to address a question to the Prime Minister, who unfortunately is not here at the moment. Perhaps it will be brought to his notice later on. It is a question which, I think, has some importance in view of recent events in Moscow. We have a British Mission to Moscow. It was sent there in unprecedented circumstances, and some of us have wondered how it was possible for the Government to send it in view of the absence of a political agreement in advance. Nevertheless, the military mission is there. How far it has gone towards exchanging important military information with Russia I do not know, but I am greatly perturbed in my mind, and I think hon. Members in all parts of the House are in the same position. I, therefore, address this question to the Deputy-Leader of the House. Perhaps he may not be able to give an answer now, and I hope the Prime Minister will give an answer through the Press. What is to be the position of our mission in Russia? Even if it is not possible to withdraw the mission forthwith, I hope that a stop will immediately be put to any further discussion of those military, naval or air force plans which, presumably, the mission took out from this country.
§ 4.58 p.m.
When I came to the House nothing was further from my thoughts than to take part in the Debate, and I only do so now because I want to say something which has not yet been said. I listened with some dismay to the statement of the Leader of the Liberal Opposition that this was not a time for criticism. I realise that what he meant was that it was not a time to break national unity so far as it is a reality, and that, with the exception of a small section 34 of public opinion led by those who follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), the nation was united in its desire to resist aggression. It is, however, a dangerous thing for the official Opposition to forgo its right of criticism. It is less than a year ago when a scene took place in this House, not unlike the scene to-day, when we seemed equally on the verge of war and many of us, and I think the country, realised that the Opposition, carried away by an impulse which overcame us all, forwent its right of criticism too far. We gave something which was too much interpreted by the Government as being a blank cheque.
I think we all want to forgo futile re criminations, but we cannot forgo a form of criticism which reflects upon the future. I listened with a good deal of interest to what was said by the solitary representative of the Communist party. I think we all have to realise that there is some truth in what he said. For once in my life I agree with the Prime Minister when he said it would be a mistake too soon to forecast the exact meaning of the Russian Pact. It was a knock-down blow, though it is two years since I wrote a book in which I prophesied that this very thing would happen, and that, if we continued cold-shouldering and turning our back on Russia and acting independently of her, Russia might do the same, and the very thing that has come about might come about, and we might see a Russo-German Agreement. In considering the situation we cannot absolve the Government from blame for the way in which the Russian negotiations have been conducted. Supposing a year ago the Government had taken as firm a line as it is taking to-day, supposing that we had then entered into full negotiations in defence of Czecho-Slovakia and resolved, with Russia by our side, to withstand the aggressor, should we not be in an infinitely stronger position than we are? Then, again, when the guarantee was given to Poland, why was Russia not consulted first? Why was she not asked whether she would not stand by our side in giving a guarantee? I believe she would have done it at that time. It was the worst way to conduct these negotiations when the Prime Minister himself twice went to see Hitler, and took the Foreign Secretary with him to see 35 Mussolini, but sent neither a Minister nor an Ambassador to Russia. The negotiations were conducted by a mere Councillor and on behalf of Ministers who until a few weeks previously had been completely opposed to an agreement with Russia. I think that was a very bad diplomatic mistake.
No, I do not want to give way, because it is very important to get on quickly to the Emergency Bill, and I am not going to have my speech lengthened. I am merely pointing out these things because, though there is at present a wave of emotion sweeping the House, the time may come when both Oppositions, and those who are not behind any organised political party, may feel that we have made a mistake in encouraging the Government to believe that we have complete confidence in their power to carry on a war and that we have forgotten— we shall never forget it— the frightful mistakes which have led us to the position in which we are. I appeal to the Government before it is too late to strengthen their forces, and to make this a real National Government. The leaders of the Opposition cannot ask for changes which affect themselves. We all have names in our mind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) all along has prophesied that these things would happen, but his advice was neglected. Are we going to let the very men who made those mistakes in neglecting our military preparations, and mistakes in their attitude towards Russia, and in misunderstanding the mind of Herr Hitler, which have brought us to this pass, carry on the affairs of the country or will they, before it is too late, form a Government which really represents the people, the whole people and nothing but the people?
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Logan
This is the first opportunity that I have had of speaking on the inter national situation, and it is because of the gravity of the situation that I dare to 36 intervene. My home was shattered as the result of the last War. Five men were taken from my house— three sons and two brothers. Therefore, I am fully aware of the seriousness of the situation that faces us, and of the gravity in the homes of the people. It was with a feeling of wonderment that I listened to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). If anyone can tell me where Russia stands, I should be glad to know. The tail has been wagging the body politic for a long time and it is time that people, even inside the Labour party, began to take notice. I am not so silly as not to understand the political movements of the day and yet, when I find those who were considered to be the best friends that could be found working hand in hand with the enemy and signing a pact with them, I am at a loss to under stand where we are. I know there are apologists. I remember that Pilate mad an apology when Judas betrayed Christ. We have to-day a Judas in this business of the international situation. When I am spoken to of Poland am I to forget the indignities of the Russians to the Poles, and am I to forget Sobieski's great fight for them? The great travail of that country is before us to-day and our honour is at stake. Whether the Government represents or misrepresents the people is for the time being immaterial. The principle that we have to define and defend is the honour of this House. If we have to believe in constitutional power, if we have to believe in right against wrong, this forum has to make its declaration with all its responsibility. I say to some of my friends it is about time they began to reason, because, what ever school they went to, they cannot argue Yes and mean No. You have to mean something more definite than that.
When I have heard some of my friends, and also hon. Members below the Gangway, saying it would be wonderful if an alliance took place, I had my doubts about it, though I have not spoken because I did not want to disturb what might bring national security-Have we got national security? We have got national disunity. The people of the country do not know where they are. We have had a betrayal the like of which I have never known in the whole of my life nor in my reading of history. It is about time that our people began to grasp the truth. I am not concerned with young men who are flippant in 37 speech. I want to tell the people the truth, and they ought to know it. The situation before us is serious. It is a question of the liberty of our people. It is a question of the franchise that they exercise in sending us here to make this a democratic institution for the welfare of the people, and it is because I want to defend any Government that may be here to hold power and authority for the British people that I say that, though I trust to God we may have no war, in defence of the weak, as a matter of honour, you will be bound to accept the challenge if it comes. I trust it may not come. I have walked through the hospitals and have seen the wounded and the dying, and I want to see nothing like that again. There is no use telling me that the cooing doves of Moscow or the wonderful emancipators of Berlin are any good to the human race. I detest them both. North, South, East and West, there is no difference between them. That is what I have realised during the whole of my life. That is the philosophy in which I believe. If the English people cannot realise the tragedy of this, they are very much asleep. The sooner you begin to rely on your own strong arm the better.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern
At midnight last night I came home after a month's tour of Italy, having spent a week in Rome, meeting people and taking part in various discussions in order to discover as best I could public opinion in Italy in connection with this crisis. I am not disappointed with the Russian Pact. I am one who believes in knowing who are your friends and who are your enemies. and while I could not assist any campaign which would involve the world in strife for purposes which I do not approve, at the same time I have no use for treachery or double-dealing of any kind. I am sure that at this moment it must give great pleasure to Torgler and Thaelmann in the concentration camps and to Dimitroff who was accused of the Reichstag fire, as well as to Goering who made such a great outburst of physical violence against him, to see von Ribbentrop flying in Hitler's aeroplane over what is regarded as the sacred soil of Russia. It must be gratifying to them to see the Nazis who have brutally maltreated and murdered thousands of communists in Germany, 38 exchanging handshakes of friendship with the Russians. It must be gratifying to them to see the Russian entertaining those brutal people who have done to death so many men in the concentration camps and the back streets of Germany.
I gather that a decision has been taken by Hitler that in no case will he move or bend to any of the advances that have taken place. I understand that in the best-informed quarters it is believed that on Sunday next he will make his Tannen-berg speech and that, simultaneously, troops will move into the Corridor and Danzig; that he will man the defences in the West; that he will not attempt to fire a shot against either the French or the British; that he will expect the world to accept as an accomplished fact, this return to the Reich and that the onus of any violence will be on Britain and France. That is what I understand to be in the minds of the rulers of Ger many. I am not attempting to say that that is 100 per cent. right, but it is, at least, a view which is strongly held. A very famous Jesuit who journeyed on the train with me from Rome on Monday night, told me that, being a British subject, he had been ordered to leave Rome and proceed to a neutral country, because they regarded war as. imminent. I am told that Mussolini said he could no more stop war than the Vatican could, and that the clash was inevitable.
If that is the situation, then whether I am against the Government or against war is immaterial for the moment. I think the leaders of this nation are en titled to realise where they stand, and this pact between Germany and Russia does at least remove any doubt from the minds of the people of this country as regards counting on assistance which can not be obtained. I took the view last year rightly or wrongly— and there was reason and evidence behind it— that the one country in the world which desired war was Russia. I took that view strongly. At that time I cycled from Prague to Vienna and from Vienna to Berlin spending a week in each city and developing contacts with well-informed quarters, Socialist and Communist as well as Nazis. I took the view that Russia wanted the major Powers to be involved in conflict. The Russians did not want a short war. They wanted a prolonged struggle in 39 which the conditions would be suitable for world revolt, or, if they did not secure world revolt, they wanted at least to weaken those nations who were dominant and were feared by them. I say, honestly and sincerely, that I believe the leaders at the Kremlin were prepared to sacrifice 20,000,000 or 30,000,000 lives in that gamble for themselves.
That was the situation then. I welcome peace. It is no secret that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) and myself have been in trouble in our own party and in the country, because we backed the Prime Minister in maintaining peace by the Munich settlement. We believed that peace was the principal factor, and that as long as peace was maintained there was a chance that humanity might find a means of expressing itself even in these countries, and that the people would show their masters that they were determined no longer blindly to follow in the quest of war. Realising that, to-day one is brought to this strange position. Last Friday week a man in Rome who knows something but who is not connected with the Government, asked me "What would you think if Hitler and Stalin made an alliance?" I said that I would not rule out the possibility. I say conscientiously here now, that if there was a doubt in Hitler's mind as to making war, the Russian Pact has driven him along the course of war because it has removed the fear of a tremendously powerful factor with bombing planes, artillery and mechanised armies on his frontiers. It is bound to increase the momentum to wards war.
Then I put this question: Is that further evidence of the Russian state of mind and the view of the Kremlin as to which policy they should pursue, to drive to wards the ends and achieve the aims which they have in mind? Realising that, I say to the Government that treachery— a thing which I abhor— of the most double-dyed kind has taken place on the part of the Kremlin in regard to the British and French nations. How can anyone conceive of inviting military, naval and air force leaders to a country and discussing with them problems of defence and probably pooling ideas, in circumstances of that kind? If we are to 40 believe the conclusions of the past, there were spies in the Comintern at one time who were prepared to sell Russian secrets to Britain. Is it not possible, on the same analysis, that there may be some of the same kind there, who are prepared to sell the Allied plan to von Ribbentrop and Hitler, in order to bring about the destruction of the French and British nations? The Russians brought those representatives to their country and met them in friendship and discussed these matters with them when, at the same time, they were engaged in a contradictory policy. They said that they wanted to defend those who stood for peace against Fascist aggression. At the same time, they said to the Germans in spite of their alleged loathing for that people, "Will you come into my parlour?"— like the spider to the fly. They said, "We will welcome you and conclude a pact of non-aggression with you."
In the circumstances which I have indicated, Germany could say in all sincerity afterwards, "We have moved into Danzig and into the Corridor; it is our territory, it belongs to the Fatherland, the overwhelming majority of the people—in Danzig, at any rate—are Germans, and we are guilty of no act of aggression." They could say that they had begun this in order to develop their country and bring their own people into the Reich, and, if Britain and France go to the defence of the Poles, Russia can then say that there has been no act of aggression which calls for her aid. In relation to Russia's aim I disagreed—not because I wanted to—with members of both the Labour party and the Liberty party about the aid that Russia would give in a war. I know there are people who have both misinterpreted and misunderstood my point of view, but I had it clearly in my mind. Even if you did conclude a pact with Russia it would, in my estimation, give no real aid. Russia is like the man who goes to the sea and proclaims that he is going in to bathe, but only paddles his feet in the water. That is all Russian would have done. She fans the flames. She would bring about that extended period of war, to which I have referred.
To-day we have the position that the Swastika and the Hammer and Sickle fly side by side and that the free democratic nations are left to see the realisation of this policy on the part of Russia. I 41 leave that to the apologists of the Communist party. No doubt they can apologise for that as they can for almost anything under the sun. But what I want to know is: Does the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) serve West Fife in this House, or the Comintern? It is time that the people of West Fife realised whether they have sent him here to represent an outside Power or whether he speaks on behalf of the common people, the miners and their families, in West Fife or for the Comintern with the bloodstained hands—the murderous crew who run that institution against even the common people of Russia. I remember well the calls which were made by the Communist party, "Turnout in your tens of thousands in the London streets and, if you can, do physical violence to von Ribbentrop "—because the British Government had allowed him to come in. But now the scene is changed. Comrade Stalin and Comrade Ribbentrop shake hands—bloodstained hands in a mutual way, because both are dyed with the blood of Communists either of Russia, or of Germany—and they conclude a pact against the peace-loving Powers of the world.
In Italy during my tour I had evidence —material evidence—that the people everywhere are disturbed by the Axis policy and the alliance between Germany and Italy. It is like mixing oil and water. There is an abhorrence among the common Italian people against being drawn or driven into war in order to achieve the aims of Hitler and his Nazi clique. It is no mere imaginary story. On Monday night, leaving the Central Station at Rome, my son and I had a gathering that saw us off. We were the subject of attention by the secret police, because everywhere I went in Rome it was evident that the same faces were to be seen at cafes in every part of the city, and they did not come there because they were attracted by my personality. They came there, I have no doubt, because they wanted to see what associates I had in that city, and many of the Italians themselves said, "There are Mr. Smith's representatives." He was called "Mr. Smith"—Mussolini. One man, who is of Irish extraction, said, "If they are going to follow a man and listen to his conversation, they should do it in the right way. It takes an Irishman to do the thing properly. Those fellows do not know anything about it."
42 I was seen off by a poet, a doctor, and a number of Italians, and in the station they sang "Auld Lang Syne," "Will ye no' come back again," and "A long, long way to Tipperary." They sang those songs, attracting tremendous attention throughout the station, and the people in the station wondered what kind of collection we were. But they were kindly. I went from Marseilles right along the coast, sometimes through the mountains, by cycle with my son, some times climbing for five hours at a stretch, through mountain passes that seemed never to end, with a scorching sun. It was one of the worst day's work I have ever done in my life—and I have done some very good days' work, before I came to this House—and we took 14 days to go right through to Rome. In every place I kept asking the people, in passing through, about the possibility of war between Italy and England. Scot land is not recognised in foreign countries, and you must be an English man. We were even told that we spoke very strange English, and I said, "Well, that is because I am a Scotsman." In going through the country we discovered an amazing, an incredulous attitude adopted when we talked of the possibility of war between Britain and Italy. They said it was unthinkable.
I went through the country, and I saw in various towns war memorials to those who had fought and died in what we were told was the sacred cause of liberty. I met men who had fought in that war or who had lost somebody in it, and they said that even Mussolini appealed to the Socialist party because he thought Germany was such a menace at that time and he wanted Italy in the Allied cause. Now he was asking them to attack those who were associated in that struggle against Germany for so long, and they said, "No, it is unthinkable." When I went to Rome I discovered that they were the kindliest people I have ever come across in my life. Even in France some times, if you do not understand their language, they look upon you as hope less, but in Italy they always seemed to fetch out somebody who could under stand you, in order to assist you in your progress through the country. When I got to Rome I discovered that there was a tremendous opposition to the thought of war and that actually expressions of discontent are rife in Rome itself, not 43 confined to the proletarian masses, be cause I have also evidence that even the banking fraternity are wishing to heaven they could return to some form of government in which there was an opposition to voice the claims of those who were opposed to the form of government.
They all say to-day that Mussolini is now out of touch with the people, that he has around him a circle of people who have not the common touch, and there fore, he is pursuing a policy that is alien to the Italian people. Men everywhere in Italy are in arms. There is a serious doubt everywhere whether Mussolini can successfully bring the people of Italy be hind Germany in a struggle. I saw from my own observation, for what it is worth, that in the early stages it may be possible to make a very bold show by some of the best disciplined elements in the Italian Army, but I envisage a crack-up very speedily in that country if Mussolini should be so mad as to put that nation behind Germany in her Axis aims and desires. I discovered that that idea was rife. I discovered people who would like to go out of the country itself, because of the danger; and the one great hopeful feature in Rome is this, that no one believes their own propaganda by their own friends, because they have had so many examples of the duplicity that is perpetrated in their propaganda and in the Press that to-day they look underground to get contacts, to know, and to hear. Taxation in Italy is so rife and so burden some on the poorest of the poor that there is, in my estimation, an atmosphere of complete hostility to that country going to war. Mussolini, I understand, has stated that it is inevitable that this struggle should take place. It may be inevitable for Mussolini and for his Axis partner, but this I do say, that while I oppose this country, if the call should come, going into war, I would do nothing to baffle those in charge of affairs in this country, but if war comes, the Italian people, in my estimation, if they are properly worked up and treated and appealed to in the very early stages, will present a problem to Mussolini and those who direct his policy in Italy.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Amery
I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) on a speech which was both interesting and which cheered the House. 44 But if I may return to the main subject of our discussion, I think we should all agree that we have witnessed a remark able manifestation of unity of sentiment in this House to-day. The House is united, first of all, in its detestation of war, and, secondly, with very few exceptions, in standing behind the Prime Minister at this moment and in supporting the British Government in standing firm to their pledges, regardless of what has happened between Russia and Germany, or of what may happen in the next few days. I do not propose to detain the House by any further expression of my own adherence to the general view of the House. What I should like to put before the House is that the situation is one which calls, not so much for displays of sentiment, as for action. It is almost inconceivable at this moment, after his success with Russia, that Herr Hitler should go back upon his declared policy with regard to Danzig. It is equally inconceivable that we should go back upon our pledges to Poland. Well, then, ought we not, in all sobriety, to face the grim fact that we are almost certain to be confronted, within a few days it may be, certainly within a few weeks, with the prospect of war? If that is so, then would it not be madness on our part not to take at once every measure that would be required if war were to come, and to take it as a God-send if war should not come?
I hoped to have heard to-day some thing, both from the Government and from the House, about what we are to do in this situation. There are a number of things of vital urgency upon which we ought to be informed of the Government's views and intentions. We have this Bill, a very necessary Measure, but covering only a very small section of the field of action. I should like to know, among other things, what is being done to rush stores into this country, and, what is more important still, when action is going to be taken about evacuation. Can we afford to delay that a day longer? Again, when are our Reserves to be called up? No menace is involved, when others are calling up Reservists by the million, if we call up our 120,000 or 130,000 Reservists. Surely there is no menace in that, but there is every need for it. When are the Territorials to be embodied? Again, what decision have the Government taken—surely they must 45 have come to some decision already—on another matter, that is, about the extension of universal service— to what age limits, and how the thing is to be carried out and dovetailed into the present Militia system.
Further—a matter of no small import ance—when are the undertakings of those who volunteer for A.R.P. work to be made more definite? You cannot carry on war on vague, indefinite promises. People who have undertaken A.R.P. work ought to be under as definite an obligation as those who have undertaken service in the Territorials. They under took it voluntarily, but, having under taken it, they must abide by their undertaking, or else the whole fabric of our A.R.P. defence may rest on a quick sand. I come back to a subject that interested the House a good many months ago. I understand that behind the scenes preliminary measures have been taken for a National Register. Surely every day it can be put in hand before the bombs begin to fall and communications get interrupted ought to be taken advantage of. There are many other things. I could give the House a long list of things that ought to be taken into consideration at once, and about which at any rate there should be that mutual confidence between House and Government which alone can sustain us through dangers far graver than any we have ever faced before in our history. It is well to tell the House, either now or in some secret Session, what the Government in tend to do.
There is only one other thing that I would add, and that is this: Our experience in the last war showed conclusively that a Cabinet of 20 or more members is not an instrument of government that can carry on a war. We must have a War Cabinet of half a dozen members, free from all departmental work, able to meet day by day, sitting a good many hours every day, that can get decisions thought out and executed, and provide that link between the Prime Minister and the administrative Departments that makes for efficiency and for action. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) did many things that contributed to the winning of the Great War. None that he did played a greater part in that victory than his decision to sweep aside the cumbrous, irresponsible machinery of a large 46 Cabinet, and to concentrate the whole power of the State in a handful of six or seven men free of departmental work. After the War, when at the Committee of Imperial Defence problems of the future were considered in the light of the past, one of the decisions taken was that in the event of a major war we should have to go back to the War Cabinet system, in order to carry on with any prospect of success. Well, the major war is practically upon us. I should have thought that here again it was not necessary to wait for the bombs actually to fall upon London before we provided our selves with an instrument of government that could conduct a war. That need not involve any dislocation of present administrative arrangements. Ministers in charge of Departments can carry on, but for heaven's sake let the Prime Minister equip himself, out of his existing colleagues or as he will, with a small body that is really free in time and mind and capable of facing the appalling tasks with which we are likely to be confronted in the next few weeks and months.
We have never stood in graver danger than we stand to-day. It may be that a show of firmness, of action, might yet influence, if not Herr Hitler, possibly Italy. I doubt it. I believe the mind of the dictators to-day is that they have more than a good chance of crushing us, that all the odds are in their favour and that they are prepared to risk it. There fore, the only thing we can do is to face up to that situation frankly and whole heartedly and take now, without a moment's delay, the action which is necessary.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Miss Wilkinson
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) has tried to make our flesh creep. There is one feature of our Debate which is rather curious, and that is that everybody has spoken as though this Russo-German pact was such a tremendous triumph for Hitler. But is it? After all, he has had to swallow almost everything he has ever said, and in fact has got what might be described as "the German Munich." He has had to send Ribbentrop, of all people, to Moscow, on a penance to Canossa, though he went in a Nazi-decorated aeroplane instead of a white sheet. Really, is that a sign of such internal strength as could cause that bogy-bogy speech which has just been 47 made by the right hon. Member for Spark-brook? The big mistake that has been made is that this country has steadily under-estimated the Russian strength. Whatever else can be said of Herr Hitler he has tended to put a much higher valuation upon it than we have. I would refer the House to the interview which Herr Hitler gave to Lord Londonderry, and which Lord Londonderry quotes almost verbatim in his book "Germany and Ourselves." In that interview Herr Hitler said to Lord Londonderry that he regarded Russia as being potentially one of the strongest nations in the world, that she had 180,000,000 people as a reserve, and that at that time—it was in October, 1936—the Russians had the strongest tank force, very nearly the strongest air force and certainly the largest land forces in the world. That was the opinion which Herr Hitler expressed to Lord Londonderry, and Herr Hitler has evidently acted upon that opinion.
One of the tragedies of the policy of this country has been continually to under estimate what really was happening in that enormous country of Russia, covering one-sixth of the surface of the globe and the only country—certainly in Europe and, I believe, even taking the United States into consideration—that can be self-sufficient in war production. We have treated that country with studied insult for as long as Members on the other side have been in power in this country. There was no insult too foul for them to repeat in the old days. I accept unhesitatingly the Prime Minister's word that in the last few weeks or days—;since the beginning of August— he has done everything in his power to get conclusions through the Military Mission sent to Russia, but you cannot alter the effect of years and years of insult when, because you are obviously in a tight corner, you are prepared to go a long way to meet the point of view of the other people. Really, that had got to be said.
An attitude of high moral propriety has been taken in this House. There has been the suggestion that in some way or another it was Russia's moral right to save the British Empire. Why? Was it a moral obligation and a right and a duty which she owed to the human race to save the British Empire? To do Russia justice—if 48 we can in this House—she has never pro claimed her affection for either the British Empire or for the present Government. What Russia has done on certain occasions is to make concrete offers of help to this country. There was, first, the concrete offer of general disarmament, and when that was laughed out of court there were concrete proposals of assistance provided that the alliance, or pact, or what ever you like, was to be a concrete reality. That has been done again and again. I would refer hon. Members to the columns of their daily Bible, the "Times," for proof of that. Each one of those offers has been either coldly ignored or laughed at. If we behave like that to a country when we are in a tight corner we cannot really complain if she does not hasten to our assistance.
I cannot enter into this general atmosphere of forgive and forget as regards the present Prime Minister. I do not believe that any criticism of the Prime Minister or his policy that is made in this House will in any way encourage Herr Hitler to think that this nation is not united. If the Prime Minister will for give me for saying so, I think this nation would be much more united if he were not the Prime Minister. I, for one, should find it extremely difficult to be united with those behind him. We all admit the sincerity and high purpose of the Prime Minister, but what in fact did he do? When he came into office, as he made it perfectly clear, he made it his business to torpedo the system of collective security and refuse to pay the premiums that collective security under the League of Nations meant. That has been so from the moment he made his Midsummer mad ness speech about sanctions until to-day, or, rather, until the situation became so terrible that even he realised the utter bankruptcy of that policy. His policy has been to say that we cannot pay the premiums for collective security. I do not want to say, "We told you so," when a man is facing such an utter collapse of his policy as the Prime Minister is facing to-day, but we have to realise that that is the fact.
If we are to take a high moral attitude with regard to Russia, let us look back at our own record. After the present Home Secretary, who was then Foreign Secretary, had made in Geneva what was prob- 49 ably the finest speech that had been made defining the League's aims and its work, what did we do immediately afterwards? We refused to allow arms to go to the Emperor of Abyssinia. We led that unfortunate Emperor to depend upon us, through the League of Nations, and then he was let down. That may have been necessary in the national interest, as the Prime Minister tried to show, but at least let us recognise that after that incident alone we are the last people to take a high moral attitude in foreign affairs.
Then there was the case of Spain. There is nothing in the present situation that did not apply again and again to Spain. The Prime Minister, in a very good speech to-day, spoke about our obligations to small nations, to those who were the possible victims of aggression. There was not one word that did not apply to the situation in Spain. While those gallant men were fighting for democracy in the trenches on the Ebro, and many of our own countrymen were trying to help them, the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister told this House over and over again things that they knew were not true about non-intervention, or about the intervention being equal on both sides and there being nothing to choose between them. There was also Czecho-Slovakia. We offered them a guarantee of those reduced frontiers and then did nothing to carry out our promise.
The Prime Minister may say that all this was necessary in British interests, that if we consider just British interests alone all those things are justified. Very well; but that is not a basis upon which to take a high moral attitude towards Russia; because Russia would equally claim that she was justified, in the narrow national interest, in keeping out of any European war. She can say, and there is nobody who can deny it, that she is practically immune from attack by the air, that her industries are 2,000 miles away and cannot be touched. The very last country in the world that could afford to take the line, "Ourselves alone"— which is the Sinn Fein doctrine—is Great Britain, with her far-flung Empire stretching right across the world. If there had been a formula invented for the convenience and for the safety of the British Empire it was the formula of collective security. It was a formula which it was up to us above all to maintain, and to 50 pay the premiums. However high those premiums they are less than the cost of the war we are likely to face. Time after time we have had the Prime Minister doing— what? I say, putting the narrow interests of his class— [Hon. Members: "Oh! "]— yes of his class and of the rich, before the national interests. I hope the Noble Lady opposite will not betray me into saying what I feel very much inclined to say.
§ Miss Wilkinson
We talk on this side of the fifth column. I know that it is merely a phrase. What do we mean? We do not mean any particular set, but we mean those people, some of whom are Members of this House, who were so insistent, when Herr Ribbentrop was here, in telling us we need not fight for Czecho-Slovakia, that we were not interested in the fate of Austria and in giving Herr Ribbentrop the impression that he knew what the highest and most influential political and social circles in Great Britain were thinking. This is the reason why Herr Ribbentrop is now the greatest power in Germany. Remember that it was Herr Ribbentrop who held a reception on the very night that the German troops were entering Austria, and that he said, when spoken to about that reception, that it was held in order that he could keep his finger on the pulse of the highest political circles in Great Britain. Let hon. Members remember that he learned from those circles what ever he could, and that what he learnt was the basis for his advice to Herr Hitler that this country would not stand against him. He has been invariably right, and when a man has been right again and again you can pretty well take his word.
Herr Ribbentrop learned that the real feeling of the upper classes in this country was that the Nazis had at last learned how to keep their working classes quiet. They were the people who were opposed to intervention in Spain and who did not wish us to help Czecho-Slovakia, as in the case of Madame Tabouis, who did the same thing in Paris. There are people who have done that very thing in London. Have we not some right to say that there are people in this country who have put their own interests, as they conceive them, before the national interest, and that it is those people who were warned that Herr 51 Hitler's Anti-Comintern Pact was in fact an anti-British Empire Pact and who sneered at the warning?
I suggest that those people should read the leading article in the "Times" which said that the whole Anti-Comintern Pact was a little gallery by-play to appeal to those influential classes in the different countries who could be relied upon to take that view. I am sure hon. Members will not say I am biased in referring them to that leading article. That is the propaganda for which the right hon. Gentleman our Prime Minister has fallen. It seems to me that there is one hope for this country in the present difficulty and it is that we concern ourselves less with so-called national interests that are, in fact, City and financial interests, and that we realise that the only way to oppose Totalitarianism is to take the lead in a real democratic alliance.
The right hon. Gentleman over and over again has said at that Box that he did not wish to see Europe divided into two ideological blocs. He has got his way. Europe is no longer divided into ideological blocs, because Russia and Ger many are now on the same side. There was a time when he could have had that division, which would have meant that the whole of the armed forces of the democracies, not only Russia but the Oslo group, and America—I for one find it difficult to recognise it as a democracy—
§ Miss Wilkinson
It is very much so. The point I want to get out is that Russia was supremely concerned, as an anti-Fascist democracy at that time, to try everything she could to get an anti-Fascist group. The Prime Minister said: "We will not have this ideological grouping." Very well, he has seen what Herr Hitler calls potentially the greatest war force in the world swing over probably to the other side—we do not as yet know for certain. I suggest that it is about time that we got to an ideological grouping. Men will not fight for the Bank of England, Montagu Norman and the City of London, but they will fight for some thing they consider is supremely worth fighting for. The greatest crime of the Prime Minister of this country is that never once has he really managed to rise 52 to the point of giving the country some thing worth fighting for. His speeches about liberty and democracy have paid lip-service to something which his actions have belied, in Spain and in Czechoslovakia.
If there is to be a war, which God grant there shall not be, it can come only if we say to the people of the world that we are prepared to lead them in a real fight for liberty, social justice, and the things for which men care. I warn the Prime Minister that if he gets his emergency powers and tries to use them against the railway men and the working people of this country he will split the democratic forces. As a matter now of national safety, we have to get above the mere financial and trading interests, that will go on selling to Germany until the last minute. If those are national interests, let us fight—if we have to fight, as a result of the Prime Minister's muddling—not for them but for some thing that is worth fighting for.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan
I venture to rise for a very few moments but not with the object of referring to the foreign policy of the Government over recent years or of entering in detail into the question of the Pact which has brought us into this difficult position. I feel that the House is not in a mood for controversy of that kind, although I have great sympathy with the very eloquent speech which we have just heard. I think that the mood of the House and of the country is represented by the three speeches that we heard at the beginning of this Debate. We find ourselves in a perilous and difficult position, unparalleled in all our history. If it comes to war, we shall have to face the strategical position much more difficult than it was in 1914 and with many disadvantages, but we shall have at least the advantage of a greater degree of national unity in our hearts as to the need for taking a final stand now. There is a greater understanding of what we shall be fighting about than there was at the beginning of the last war.
Therefore, I do not rise for that purpose, but only because it may be difficult at a later stage to ask one or two questions which are being asked in different parts of the country. In the 53 first place, under the proposed powers and under other powers which the Government now have, there are matters which are worrying people all over the country. Perhaps a Minister will tell us before we adjourn when the Territorial Force will be embodied, if it is the intention to take that further military measure. The second question is, what will be the procedure by which evacuation will be carried out? What warning will be given that it is the intention to carry out evacuation from the great cities? It is of the utmost importance that those who are organising the movement, especially of children, should have as much warning as possible to carry out the duties that lie upon them. As one who has really gone into the practical details of organising the reception, feeding and the provision of the necessary milk supply for a large number of children I know that the greatest possible warning is necessary. It would be far better to act two days too early than two days too late, even if we found we had to send everybody back again. I hope that the Government will be able to give us some information on this matter.
I think the House will willingly pass the Bill and give the Government the immense powers which are being asked for at this time. At a later stage, per haps, we may wish to debate certain details. The House is prepared to give great power to the Government, not be cause they are the Government of a party, but because they are the Government of the nation, representing the leadership of the nation and the determination of us all to stand up for the principles of justice in which we believe. If the House, all parties in the State and all individuals, who may be bitterly hostile to the politics of the Government, are to be asked to make a sacrifice of their personal views—I hope that they will be asked without fear of the answer —and to put aside recrimination and discussion of the past because of our detemination for unity now, and equally great responsibility lies upon the Government. I hope Ministers will tell us how they propose to organise the instrument of government for war. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) has developed that point, and it was clear above all dispute that the Cabinet are 54 not an instrument which can carry out a war of this magnitude.
Will the Government tell us at what point they propose to set up the different system of government which we call the War Cabinet? What are to be the personalities? Are they to extend the range of individuals chosen to carry this enormous responsibility and make these rapid decisions? Everything may depend upon decisions made in the first two or three days. There may be chances, if we suffer strategic losses in one area, of re covering them in another. Everything will depend upon decisions taken by men of power and great courage. It is not possible for those who may be candidates for such great positions from any quarter of the House to make these speeches, and it is therefore the duty of those who are back benchers to make them. As we are asking the country to organise itself without regard to past political positions, let us ask the Government to organise them selves solely upon the ground that the most efficient individuals shall carry the tremendous burden of administration. The House is to make a great gesture of confidence in the Government. The nation will make that gesture. I am confident that the Government will respond and make an equal gesture.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan
On a point of Order. May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is rising to close this part of the Debate and to proceed with his Emergency Powers Bill?
§ The Prime Minister
I do not want to close the Debate but to appeal to the House to come back to the atmosphere in which we started it. We are facing a very grave emergency, but we are not yet at war. Perhaps we may escape being at war at all. What we did want was, as was foreshadowed in the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), as well as in my own speech, to show the world that in this crisis we were united in our main purpose. We have announced a Bill, giving the Government very drastic powers, which we desire to get through all its stages to-night. It would be of immense advantage if we could not only get it through to-night, but get it through 55 in time for it to be announced to the world. While I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton (Mr. Harold Macmillan) that I, who have to carry perhaps a greater responsibility at this moment than any other Member of this House, am not likely to dismiss from my mind such considerations as he has dwelt upon, I feel that this is not the moment to discuss in public these most important questions. Let us, if the House will agree, conclude this Debate on foreign affairs. Let us get on with the action that we are here to take, giving the world that notice of our unity which we all desire to give.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Bevan
I do not rise to continue the Debate for any length of time, but I must say that it is a little hard for some of us who for many years, in this House and outside, have been engaged in prophesying this moment to hear one of the chief architects of it say that he wishes to shorten the discussion on the subject that is before the House. It is all very well for hon. Members on that side to applaud the sentiment which the Prime Minister has just uttered, but they must remember that they bear a very large part of the responsibility for this present situation. We have to go back and report to our constituents on the issues which have been discussed to-day. I rise to ask whether the mind of the Government has been closed to the possibility of entering into, not military, but political, discussions with the Government of Russia immediately, for the purpose of discovering the ramifications and the con sequences of the Non-Aggression Pact entered into with Germany, and finding out whether it is not still possible to arrive at an arrangement with Russia which will increase the deterrent to Ger many against committing an act of aggression against Poland.
It must be present in the mind of every Member of this House that a guarantee to Poland is very difficult of execution without the assistance of Russia. When the guarantee to Poland was discussed in the House, immediately after it was given, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) pointed out that the military assistance that Britain and France could render to Poland was very little indeed 56 in the absence of an agreement with Russia, and the Prime Minister to-day expressed the view that it was still too early to form a final judgment on the actual nature of the undertaking entered into between Russia and Germany. I, therefore, want to ask whether it is not possible to start political negotiations with Russia immediately, in order to find out the actual position. I believe that, out side this House, people throughout the country will want to know why the negotiations with Russia were so pro longed, why they have broken down, and why it is that Ribbentrop, the Ger man Foreign Secretary, could go to Moscow and no one of equal standing has been sent from Great Britain to Moscow. It is all very well for hon. Members to shout the usual cries in a crisis of this kind, but this will require some justification to the people of this country, who will want to know why millions of young British lads should lose their lives—lives which might have been saved if the policy of the Government, even now, were directed to a rapprochement with Russia.
The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) made an extraordinarily interesting and entertaining speech. I do not want to follow him in the dominating hates that inspired him in most of that speech.
§ Mr. McGovern
I am not inspired by hates, but by a realistic sense of what is happening in the world. Therefore, when I find such a policy of duplicity pursued by a nation I am not in the mood to mince my words.
§ Mr. Bevan
I was about to examine the realism of the hon. Member. [Interruption.] It is no use trying to shout me down. The hon. Member for Shettleston answered himself most effectively in the course of his speech. He painted a picture to show that the authorities of the Kremlin were engaged in a sinister and subtle plot to bring about a conflict between Great Britain and Germany, in order that, by a collapse of capitalism, world revolution might be brought about. It seems an extraordinary thing for him to make an accusation of that kind against the Russian Government, and then, in the next breath, to speak of Ribbentrop and Stalin shaking hands as neighbours. Again, in another part of his speech he said that in any case the Russian assistance would not have been of much value. 57 If Russian assistance to Britain would have been of no value, Germany would not have been so anxious to buy Russia off. The fact that Germany has turned off the tap of her propaganda, that Hitler has swallowed his words and falsified five years of anti-Bolshevik propaganda in Germany is evidence of the value that Germany attaches to Russian military assistance. It is one of our chief indictments against the Government that their policy has thrown away assistance of that kind.
The people of this country will be asking why this situation has arisen. We have had no report from the Prime Minister at any time as to why the negotiations with Russia failed to reach agreement. We have had vague statements from that Box, innuendoes, pleas to this side not to press the cross-examination too closely, but up to now we have had no explanation from the Prime Minister as to why the assistance of that nation, which is vital in the implementing of our guarantee, has been thrown away by the Government. It is an obligation upon the Opposition to obtain an assurance that that situation will not be left where it is, but that efforts will be made in Moscow, first, to explore this treaty, and next, to find out how far it is possible still to enter into an Anglo-French-Soviet past. We have heard that some quarters in Paris take the view that the treaty is still not inconsistent with a treaty between Russia and Britain. It is taking a very frivolous view of the intelligence of our people to suggest that we should throw away the chance of further negotiations with Russia and commit our selves to the point of view expressed by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), that war is upon us in a few days.
The Prime Minister said that he bore a very great share of the responsibility; that upon his shoulders rested a heavier burden than upon the shoulders of any body else. I think the guarantee to Poland, in the absence of an agreement with Russia, was a mistake. It was militarily silly. It should have followed, and not preceded, negotiations with Russia. The Russian proposal for a four-Power pact should have been accepted. But I do not accept the statement that the Prime Minister of Great Britain has a heavier burden upon his shoulders than anybody else. His is the easiest job in 58 the House of Commons. The more blunders he makes, the more necessity there is for unity and for no criticism to be heard. The bigger the catastrophe of which he is the architect, the safer he is. This is the same Government, its personnel is the same, as that which was the architect of Munich. The suggestion is that the people of my constituency, the colliers, steelworkers and railwaymen, should offer their bodies as a deterrent to German aggression. There is one man over there whom you could offer—offer him. Let the Conservative party, if it wants to convince us that it is in earnest, call a Carlton Club meeting, and get rid of the Prime Minister. He is the man upon whom Hitler relies; he is the man responsible for this situation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Be British."] Yes, talk to us about being British, you Francophiles. There is a brigadier-general sitting there who, in this House, got up to defend over and over again the Government's policy in Spain, which will throw away hundreds of thousands of British lives; and you people over there dare to ask for unity. It is monstrous.
The argument is that the Prime Minister ought to have spoken, that the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal party should have spoken, and that the House of Commons should then have passed the Bill through all its stages, in order to present the maximum deterrent to any aggression against Poland. Why do we not have some sacrifices from that side of the House? Why do you not reconstruct your own Government, and get rid of the people whose presence in the Government is weakening Great Britain's reputation abroad? If there is one way in which you young fellows on the Front Bench there—
§ Mr. Bevan
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if I have offended against Parliamentary etiquette. The one way in which these young hon. Members can do their duty is to say that they are no longer going to remain in the team led by three or four people whose policy may plunge Europe into war in a few weeks and may result in the sacrifice of all our young people. That is why I say that no job is easier than that of the Prime Minister. No Opposition could be kinder. It has prophesied this every month for four or 59 five years. It has fought against it at every stage of the journey, and, at the end of it, abstains even from saying to the Prime Minister, "I told you so." It is not for the sake of saying" I told you so," that I am making this statement this afternoon, but because I believe that the most effective way in which Germany and Italy can be persuaded that the resolution of this country is united behind its obligations is to get rid of the assassins of democracy in so many parts of Europe.
§ Question put,
§ "That the following provisions shall have effect with respect to the Business of this day's Sitting:
§ A Bill to confer on His Majesty certain powers which it is expedient that His60
§ Majesty should be enabled to exercise in the present emergency, and to make further provision for purposes connected with the defence of the realm, may without notice be presented by a Minister of the Crown and forthwith considered and passed through all 1 its stages on the same day, and the requirements of Standing Orders Nos. 64 and 68 and of the practice of the House relating to the imposition of charges upon the people shall be deemed to have been complied with in respect of any provisions of the Bill or of any Amendment there to moved by a Minister of the Crown which authorise expenditure or the imposition of any such charge.
§ Immediately after the Bill to which this Order applies has been read a Second time it shall be considered in Committee of the Whole House."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 427; Noes, 4.63
|Division No. 296.]||AYES.||[6.36 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Dodd, J. S.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Burghley, Lord||Doland, G. F.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Burton, Col. H. W.||Drewe, C.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Butcher, H. W.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Cape, T.||Dunglass, Lord|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Carver, Major W. H.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)|
|Allan, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Cary, R. A.||Eastwood, J. F.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Castlereagh, Viseount||Ede, J. C.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Cazalet, Thelma (lslington, E.)||Edge, Sir W.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(se'h Univ's)||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Edmendson, Major Sir J.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Channon, H.||Edwards, Sir C. (Badwellty)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Assheton, R.||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Charleton, H. C.||Emery, J. F.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Chater, D.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Christie, J. A.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Clarrv, Sir Reginald||Erskine-Hill, A. G.|
|Balfour, C. (Hampstead)||Cluse, W. S.||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (lsle of Thanet)||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Balniel, Lord||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Cooks, F. S.||Flaming, E. L.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Collindridge, F.||Foot, D. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Colman, N. C. D.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Frankel, D.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Cooke, J. O. (Hammersmith, S.)||Furness, S. N.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Doff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Fyfe, D. P. M.|
|Ballenger F.J.||Cove, W. G.||Gardner, B. W.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Garro Jones, G. M|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Craven-Ellie, W.||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)|
|Benson, G.||Critchley. A.||Gibbins, J.|
|Barnays, R. H.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Pace||Gibson, R. (Greenock)|
|Bevan, A.||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Gledhill, G.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cross. R. H.||Gluckstein, L. H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cruddas, Col. B.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Culverwell, C, T.||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Dalton, H.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Davidson, Viscountess||Green, W. H. (Deptfard)|
|Brabner, R. A.||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Greenwood, Rt. Han. A.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buokrose)||Davies. Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Granted, D. R.|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Davison, Sir W. H.||Gretton, Cot. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Brass, Sir W.||De Chair, S. S.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Broadbridge, Sir Q. T.||Do la Bère, R.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewlsham, W.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Denville, Alfred||Grimsten, R. V.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Dabble, W.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Groves, T. E.||McKie, J. H.||Rowlands, G.|
|Guilt, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||MacLaren, A.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Guest, Dr. L. H. (lslington, N.)||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.||Salmon, Sir l.|
|Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Magnay, T.||Salt, E. W.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Maitland, Sir Adam||Salter, Sir J. Arthur (Oxford U.)|
|Hall. G. H. (Aberdare)||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Mander, G. le M.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Harbord, Sir A.||Marsden, Commander A.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Marshall, F.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mathers, G.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Medlicott, F.||Silkin, L.|
|Hepworth, J.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Mills. Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Hicks, E. G.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Higgs, W. F.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chlswick||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel. Sir W. D.|
|Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Smith. Rt. Hon. H. B. Lens- (K'ly)|
|Holdsworth, H.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, stourbridge)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Hollins, A.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Hopkinson. A.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Snadden. W. McN.|
|Hersbrugh, Florence||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Somerville. Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham. N.)||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Muff, G.||Spens. W. P.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd))|
|Hunloke, H. P.||Munro, P.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hurd, Sir P. A.||Nall, Sir J.||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Hutchinson, G. C.||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Stewart. W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Naylor, T. E.||Storey, S.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Nicholson, G, (Farnham)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Jackson, W. F.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.(N'thw'h)|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Stuart. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Oliver, G. H.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Jennings, R.||Owen. Major G.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Joel, D. J. B.||Paling, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Thomas, J. P. L|
|Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Parker, J.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Parkinson, J. A.||Thorne, W.|
|Keeling, E. H||Peake, O.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Kellett, Major E. O.||Pearson, A.||Thurtle. E.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Peat. C. U.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Kerr, Colonel C. l. (Montrose)||Peters, Dr. S. J.||Titehfield, Marquess of|
|Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univs.]||Petherlck, M.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Keyes. Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Train, Sir J.|
|Kimball, L.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Pilkington, R.||Tryon. Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Lancaster, Lieut.-Colonel C. G.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Lathan, G.||Poole, C. C.||Turton. R. H.|
|Law. R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Price. M. P.||Viant. S. P.|
|Lawson, J. J.||Purbrick, R.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Lee, F.||Pym, L. R.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Leech, Sir J. W.||Quibell. D. J. K.||Walker, J.|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Radford. E. A.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Han. Euan|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Ward. Lieut.-Col Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Ramsden. Sir E.||Ward. Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Levy, T.||Rankin, Sir R.||Werdlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Lewis, O.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Warrender. Sir V.|
|Liddall, W. S.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Lindsay, K. M.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Webbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Lipson, D. L.||Rayner, Major R. H.||Wedderburn. H. J. S.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham-||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Looker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Westwood, J.|
|Loftus, P. C.||Remer. J. R.||White, H. Graham|
|Logan, D. G.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Whiteley, Major. J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Ridley, G.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Lunn, W.||Riley, B.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lyons. A. M.||Ritson, J.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Mabane. W.(Huddersfield)||Roberts. W.(Cumberland. N.)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpoel)||Wilmot, John|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Wilson. Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitehin)|
|Maedonald, G. (Inee)||Rosbotham, Sir T.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isla of Wight)||Rothschild, J. A. de||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Wood, Hen. C. I. C.||York, C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)||Captain Waterhouse and Captain|
|Wragg, H.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)||McEwen.|
|Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Maxton, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Wilton, C. H. (Atteroliffe)||Mr. Stephen and Mr. McGovern.|
Question put, and agreed to.