§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:But regret that the Gracious Speech does not include definite proposals for the ending of the present economic system of financial and commercial rivalry and exploitation which is responsible for war, and particularly proposals to extend self-government immediately to our own Colonial peoples and laying down the basis of a Socialist Charter which would serve as an incentive to the German and other European. workers to overthrow Nazi rule and free the populations in the occupied territories.In moving this Amendment which stands in the names of ray hon. Friends and myself, I am conscious of the fact that we in this House are a very small minority of the Members, but we believe that outside the House we are numerically much stronger than would be supposed by the Parliamentary representation in the Chamber itself. We are also aware of the fact that we have in this House the disappearance to a large extent of what is termed in ordinary times an official Opposition to the Government. We realise that in Germany the Opposition leaders have been beaten up and placed in a concentration camp. In this House and in this country the leaders are bought up and put into the Cabinet, but in both cases the object is the same in order to get the best means possible to have a disciplined and dragooned working class. Therefore, the British method, although it may be more gentlemanly in 913 the ordinarily accepted term, has as its aim the silencing of opposition throughout the length and breadth of this country.
We have stated from time to time our fundamental opposition to this war. It is well known that we are opposed to the war in every way, and we believe that the order of society as it is run throughout a large part of the world to-day is responsible for the conflict and the aggression that takes place from time to time. Our position in relation to the war can be summed up by the words of a very responsible Member during the last war. He said:These are trying times for those of us who are capable of resisting the militarist chloroform … We must keep ourselves clear of all responsibility for this slaughter of workers by workers. We must not be ashamed to avow our innermost conviction; we must preserve our souls; our internationalism must remain intact and untarnished.These were the words of the present Home Secretary in relation to the last war, and we would say that that was a sound expression of antagonism to a system of society that creates conflicts and throws large masses of men at one another's throats in order to settle who is to have control of the materials, resources, and markets of the world. Therefore, I would say at the outset that we regard war not as being war for freedom and democracy, as put forward by a large number of people in this country. The same argument that was used in the last war is being used in this war by a large number of official Labour leaders. They then said that the war was different from any other, that it was to overthrow the desire of the Kaiser and Prussian militarists to dominate the world. To-day that is being reechoed in every part of the country by those people and others like them.
The Prime Minister has given the case in a very narrow sense. He says that this war is a continuation of the last war. I accept that as being a very good definition of the war. It is a continuation of the commercial struggle. This nation is engaged in a deadly straggle with its competitors and no one can foresee the end. In this struggle Great Britain has built up tremendous overseas possessions, she has tremendous bond-holding interests, she controls Colonial people and raw materials and she has access to all the markets of the world. Through permeation or by ag- 914 gressive acts over a period she has collected a vast Empire of resources and peoples throughout the world. She has become largely dominant as time has gone on, not only in the Colonial field, but in the commercial and financial fields. She did so over nations who rose out of their feudalism and backward state of development, brought about largely by the capital of the British ruling classes who helped to throw up shipyards, armament works and mills and to sink mines, until they became active components competing for the markets of the world. As this process took place, the world became a commercial unit, because the countries which were formerly our markets now became our competitors. This position became more dangerous for this country because the example set by Great Britain in that sphere would be emulated by these rising Powers throughout the world.
Great Britain prepared for that contingency. After she had taken it out of unpaid English, Scots, Welsh and Irish workers, she invested in various parts of the world sums of money in bond-holding interests, sometimes getting the rights to develop railways and mines and public companies of various kinds by which to exploit the resources and territories they occupied. Then, as an Island Power, she had to create a tremendous naval power in order to defend these possessions. She had also to create a small Army of some kind in order to police these territories in various parts of the world, plus the fact that she had to police her own territory in this country against civil commotion if at any time it should occur. As these other countries were gradually growing up, arming and strengthening themselves, it was evident that Powers like Germany, not for the sake of aggression, would endeavour to get a share from others who possessed these resources. Without being offensive, Britain's foreign policy, in my opinion, has been directed against any rising competitor becoming sufficiently strong to menace her position.
As time went on she had to rely not only on her own strength but on that of a Continental Power like France, with her tremendous man-power. British naval strength combined with that man-power could face almost any combination of Powers in the world to defend her interests against the aggressions of other Powers. In the last war we had that trial of 915 strength. Alter all, if a large and powerful nation ceases to be a purely feudal nation and changes from agricultural to ordinary industrial pursuits, she requires access to the production of raw materials, food, and the various other things, which are necessary in order to develop her machine and to compete in the markets of the world. The argument has always been that Germany, with other nations, could come into the market and buy what she desired, but that is not a complete answer, because this country wants oil, iron ore, copper and all the resources she can gather together so she can shut off any competitor at a given stage and can live as nearly as possible on her own efforts with her Navy and other Powers to keep the seas open. Therefore, Germany became what is known as the aggressor of 1914, but I do not always accept the view that the nation which fires the first shot is the aggressor, or the only aggressor, in war. Germany was compelled to take action at that time, and she fought almost single-handed the whole power of the world, resisting for four years by a tremendous military effort. She was ultimately defeated by internal troubles, discontent among the men at the front and lack of internal resources.
After that conflict came a period in which democracy was fumbling and trying to find expression, but it received no encouragement in any part of the world, while every encouragement was given to those who were building up an aggressive machine in different parts of the world. Let me mention, in passing, an interview which I had with Lord Runciman in Prague in 1938. He said to me that as a result of all his investigations and inquiries he had come to the definite conclusion that the trouble in Sudetenland was only the fringe of the real trouble. He said, "It is neither racial nor religious; it is purely economic," and walking up the room he added, "Of course, McGovern, you people have always advocated that view, but I see it clearer to-day than ever I did at any period, of my life."
§ Mr. McGovern
I want now to deal with the question of whether this struggle is a purely economic struggle or struggle for freedom and democracy and whether it 916 is really a struggle against Fascism. To me, Fascism is only a system of capitalism that is going down-hill and is compelled to come out into the open and use weapons in order to protect itself internally and to expand externally. It, therefore, goes in for 100 per cent. of suppression internally in order that it may be able completely and thoroughly to conduct its external struggle. I do not accept the view that this is a war against Fascism. I do not believe that even the Prime Minister regards it as a war against Fascism in any shape or form, although that term is frequently used. I would ask the House to take note of these words:Those who have met Hitler face to face in public business or on social terms have found him a highly competent, cool, well-informed functionary with an agreeable manner and a disarming smile.The Prime Minister said that in his book "Great Contemporaries". We now know, according to the Press and the politicians, that Hitler is not cool and well-informed but is generally eating carpets or rugs or something of that kind. Let us also hear the Prime Minister's opinion of Mussolini:I could not help being charmed as so many others have been by his simple, gentle bearing, his calm detached poise, despite his many burdens and dangers; and secondly could see that he thought of nothing but the lasting good, as he understood it, of the Italian people and that all else was of secondary interest to him.That is not the story that we get now about Mussolini, and I would like to know whether those opinions were expressed because of a liking for Fascist ideas, rather than a liking for the individual. Then, the right hon. Gentleman said further, in connection with that visit that he paid to Italy:It (the corporation law) will certainly require the utmost goodwill and the co-operation of all people and the wise and clear guidance of the State and when such a system is ardently accepted, it is quite absurd to suggest that the Italian Government does not stand upon a popular basis and is not upheld by the active practical assent of the great masses.
§ Hon. Members: When was that said?
§ Mr. McGovern
In 1927. I am dealing with the question of the attitude which was taken at that time towards Fascism. The "Times" Rome correspondent, dealing with that interview, said:Mr. Churchill's parting message has elicited enthusiastic comments from all the 917 Fascist newspapers, which speak of it as one of the most important judgments ever delivered on Fascism by a foreign statesman and they express confidence that it will have a most favourable effect on world opinion of Fascism. Mr. Churchill is congratulated especially on having understood the real spirit of Fascism.I submit to the House that there is evidence here, in regard to the many dictators we have in the world to-day, that the state of mind of the Prime Minister is more akin to theirs than to that of the people who uphold the anti-Fascist position. Not only that, but this feeling, in my opinion, has now been transformed into lip-service for freedom, while the whole position is really commercial and Imperialist. On General Franco the right hon. Gentleman said:How did it (the civil war) happen? It happened according to plan… The procedure is well known and well-approved. It is part of the Communist doctrine, part of the Communist drill book. It has been followed almost literally by the Communists of Spain… A revivified Fascist Spain in closest sympathy with Italy and Germany is one kind of disaster. A Communist Spain, spreading its snaky tentacles through Portugal and France is another and many will think the worse.That was on 10th August, 1936, in the "Evening Standard." When we take the combination of these statements they show sympathy rather than antagonism with the methods which have been developed throughout the world of late, and they bear testimony to the fact that the opposition to those people to-day is, as we say, because of economic and imperialist antagonism, rather than because we are fighting for freedom and democracy. Finally, this is what the Prime Minister had to say regarding Japan:British interests required us to keep out of the quarrel which had broken out in the Far East and not wantonly to throw away our old and valued friendship with Japan. It was the interest of the whole world that law and order should be established in the Northern part of China…. The condition of China, plunged in a strange combination of anarchy and Communism was the cause of boundless and inexpressible misery to her industrious people. China was in the same state that India would fall into if the guiding hand of England was withdrawn.That was on 24th February, 1933. Therefore, the Prime Minister as regards Japan, as regards Franco, Hitler and Mussolini, has given expression of sympathy not only with the individuals concerned, but with the system which they have espoused, in- 918 augurated and defended in their various countries. I say that the Prime Minister, in my assumption, was a self-confessed advocate of Fascist aggression and of Fascism at that time.
Having said that, let me pass to the next phase, namely, the question of the Atlantic Charter as against the Socialist Charter which we advocate. Shortly after the Prime Minister met Mr. Roosevelt I saw a film strip which I thought rather amusing. It showed the Prime Minister and Mr. Roosevelt seated together singing hymns. It was a position in which I never expected to see the Prime Minister. I thought that they wanted only two members of the Government there between them to complete the picture—Lord Beaverbrook and the Minister without Portfolio. If we had had those four, we would have had a complete picture of the little boys at Sunday school.
I remember a clergyman in Glasgow telling me that he was sent for at one time to reform a gang of toughs. in the City of Glasgow. He said, "When I saw them all gathered together and saw their faces, I looked up and said, 'I don't know how they impress you, but I am chucking in my hand right now.'" When I saw this film strip, and when the Atlantic Charter was published, my mind went back to the old Wilsonian Charter of 1916 or 1917. I realised that the Atlantic Charter was something that was thrown up because of the growing pressure in this country and the world for a declaration by Great Britain concerning her aims and attitude in the war and the kind of world that was envisaged after the war. Because of the pressure exerted by a large number of Labour organisations in the country, the Prime Minister found it necessary to devise some reply, and we got the Atlantic Charter.
In my estimation, the Atlantic Charter is one of the grossest pieces of deceit ever seen in modern times. To whom is the Charter to apply? To the nations that have been overrun by Hitler. Independence and independent government are to go to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, but they are not to be given in any way to those territories that have been overrun in past days by Great Britain. Let me say, in passing, that I know something about occupied territories. My father was an Irishman and my mother a Scotswoman, and both 919 of them were born in English-occupied countries. I know that the occupation of a country does not necessarily mean that for all time there will be antagonism of the people of that country towards the country whose rulers have thought it necessary to carry out the occupation for economic reasons. If it is good enough for the countries I have mentioned to have a form of self-government and independence, surely this country ought to guarantee to its Colonial people the same independence as it is demanding from Hitler for the territories which he has occupied. Anything short of that is humbug, deceit and hypocrisy of the worst kind. Therefore, I cannot see the Atlantic Charter having general acceptance in this country if, while we are prepared to demand from Germany justice for these peoples, we are to deny the same right to our own Colonial peoples. With regard to the giving of complete freedom to Colonial peoples, I recognise this as a measure of justice which it is required should be granted to those peoples. The Prime Minister has been antagonistic in every way to the granting of any independence. Consequently, we must examine the question on a very fair basis. Concerning India, the Prime Minister said:I am convinced that the Indian political classes are not going to be given ' Dominion status ' or responsible government for all India in any period which is worth our while to consider now. Something will intervene to save India and Britain from that frightful catastrophe, and confound the politics of those who have brought it near.That was in the "Daily Mail" of 14th October, 1932—Why at this moment should we force upon the untutored races of India that very system, the inconveniences of which are now felt, even in the most highly developed nations, the United States. Germany, France, and in England itself?There we have the Prime Minister again, a self-confessed opponent of any form even of Dominion status for those Colonial territories that are occupied by this country. I am against war, but I say that if you are to fight a war even intelligently from your own point of view, you should fight it both militarily and psychologically, and you should make an appeal to the German people on the basis that at last you have granted justice to your own peoples. You should be able to say 920 that to the German workers. Lord Haw-Haw's success on the wireless, if he has had any success, is due to the fact that he is able to deal with a large number of injustices both on the home front and on the Colonial front. That does not mean that Germany is any better than us, or that she is not worse in many senses on her own home front, but the cause of Haw-Haw's success, if he has had any, is that he is able to say to the people of this country, "Why should Britain demand from us that we should get out of occupied territories when Britain has 300,000,000" or 400,000,000 Indian people living sometimes on as little as 2d. a day, with tremendous exploitation and plunder? Out of those people £150,000,000 goes into the bond-holding coffers every year—out of the misery, death, and degradation of that Colonial people." Night after night, Lord Haw-Haw can paint that picture, and any man, whether he is anti-Nazi or anti-German or not, who searches his mind and conscience must admit the justice of that demand.
Therefore, I say that if you are to have a moral force operating in this country, you could not do better than go to the penitent's stool and say, "We have held the natives in subjection and in slavery, we have denied them the right to live, condemned them to death and illiteracy; but we will end that. We recognise that this world crisis has thrown us right up against a tremendous problem, we recognise that the old world should be ended and the new world take its place from now onwards; our contribution is to end the slavery in our own Colonies and territories." That would be an inspiration and incentive to the German people. If we did this, we could say to them, "Now we are ready to ask you to do similarly in your country, and then we can go forward to merge the countries of the world, small commercial units, into one vast unit of humanity throughout the entire globe."
With regard to America coming into the war, she may come in, but I am under no delusions. At the present time, America is prepared to use British bodies to blast a way into the markets of the Continent and to re-establish the old financial system of Wall Street in those countries. They are no more concerned with freedom and democracy than a large 921 number of reactionary Fascists in this country who parade as freedom lovers. They are interested in the commercial struggle. They are placing us in this country in American bondage if we are ever to repay the debts that have been accumulated in this war. Therefore, America goes on with her aid because Hitler on the Continent is a commercial and financial menace, with his barter system driving Britain and France and America out of these markets. They want to keep the markets open for their investing public and their commerce. Today we see the Continent largely welded into one economic unit in the commercial and economic struggle that is taking place, and we see a possible extension of this to the Far East.
I have always believed that Japan was bound to come into the struggle, because if Japan cannot secure a position as a world Power, during this war and this emergency, she will be doomed afterwards to the pressure of America and Great Britain, after they are free from the tentacles of the German Nazi military machine. Therefore, I can see Japan coming into the war to clear out of the East American and British commercial rivalry. If Japan comes into the war, who can say the road we shall travel? Shall we be able to bring about any form of decency which we cannot now obtain if decency is in the minds of human beings? But Russia has transformed the whole situation. Am I to believe that those people in this country who were anti-Communist before the outbreak of this struggle have now become friendly towards that system? To-day we see these two uneasy bedfellows, Stalin and Churchill, in a struggle for what is called world freedom and democracy. Only a year ago Stalin and Hitler were exchanging birthday greetings.
§ Mr. McGovern
Stalin was saying that the Pact between Germany and Russia was sealed by the blood of the two peoples. He also threw his arm around the neck of Matsuoko and said, "Remember that I am an Asiatic too; if we stand together, we need fear nothing in the world." Russia is in the most difficult position which any nation has had to face. She is being backed by a large number of people in this country because she is per- 922 forming the task which the British ruling classes wish. Russia, they believe, is weakening Germany, and, therefore, they wish to provide her with arms to accomplish the job. A large number of people believe that they are conducting an anti-Fascist struggle by providing arms to Russia.
§ Mr. R. Morgan (Stourbridge)
Why is the hon. Member suggesting that we are backing the Russians in this false manner, instead of explaining why Russia is being attacked?
§ Mr. McGovern
I believe that Germany was faced with an opposite problem. The only time Stalin intended to come into this war was when Germany had been tremendously weakened by England, America and France. Russia intended to move right down to Berlin and establish Communist rule. Hitler, no matter what you may think of him, being an intelligent man, said, "I am not waiting for this development to take place. I have polished off every rival in Europe, and I will now take on Stalin."
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Is the hon. Member asking the House to believe that Hitler was right to attack Russia and Russia was wrong to resist?
§ Mr. McGovern
The hon. Member must use a little more intelligence than that. I am analysing the position. Fundamentally I believe in the Russian system, but I loathe its bureaucracy, which is just as bad as the Nazi bureaucracy in Germany. Russia is being used to-day to fight the war which this country would have to conduct against Germany. We grasp at every straw and every army which can be brought into our camp to weaken Hitler. I believe that the present Prime Minister is sufficiently astute to hope that the two opponents will be polished off on the one front. The Prime Minister has been an anti-Communist and opposed to Russia. He has never recanted, and, therefore while pretending to be a friend by sending arms to Russia he can with satisfaction stand by and see these two orders cancelling themselves out. As far as Russia is concerned, I believe that the die has been cast. She will either be an outpost of Nazi Germany or the servant of British and American finance and capitalism. In either case she is going to be destroyed. The only way Russia can be saved is by 923 ending completely the present system of capitalism throughout the world. That will bring the people of the world into a new order. For myself, I cannot urge people on to their death when I realise they are being used in this way.
The present order of society has been condemned, and to-day Members in this House and people outside are paying lip service to a new order. I was interested to see in the "Sunday Pictorial" last week that two representatives of the Soviet Embassy had placed a Red flag on the altar of a London church. The rector met them at the door, and the Soviet representatives attended the service. Evidently we were to take this as an indication of Russia's religious tolerance. It shows the tremendous length to which organised hypocrisy is prepared to go in this war. If the Government are in favour of a new order and a change in the present system, then why not give us that new order now? What is preventing it from being initiated? The Lord Privy Seal came to the House some time ago and in a very awed tone told us the powers which the Government had taken to conscript land, finance, property and life. I ask the Government to tell the House how much property they have taken over, and how many industries and banks they have conscripted in the service of the nation. It was simply another hypocritical Act being placed on the Statute Book for the purpose of conscripting the lives of men and women. During the last war the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made a speech in which he said:Britain, after the war, will not tolerate the scourge of unemployment.He said that in the City Temple in 1917. I will give the House another quotation:Britain, after the war, will not tolerate the scourge of unemployment.Those remarks were made by the Minister without Portfolio in his broadcast to the United States in 1941. He lifted the quotation without the omission of a single word from the right hon. Gentleman's statement in 1918. We went through that Gethsemane with masses of people in unemployment queues, public assistance, unemployment relief and low wages. We want to prove that you intend to initiate a new order. Men and women everywhere, at home, in the trams and buses 924 and at public meetings, are saying that we must not go back to the old order. If you want to make a proper reply to the German people and rouse them in hostility against Hilter and his Nazi rule, you have to show an alternative system to theirs.
The German people believe they are fighting for a just cause. Members do not seem to recognise that fact. The 13,000,000 or 14,000,000 of the youth of Germany in this Nazi organisation are not fighting because they want to murder people in Poland or Norway. They believe it is leading to a new order, to a higher standard of life, to security against poverty and starvation. Therefore fear of the consequences of defeat is driving them on to the aftermath of a super-Versailles. If you are going to appeal to them, you must appeal on the basis that you have an alternative system to their order, and you must show that you intend to inaugurate a new order of society. Men are being driven out of employment and are sacrificing good jobs, they are being driven out of business for military service and by the lack of materials and resources to carry on their various callings. Then in the world of sacrifice let the landed element, the bankers and the commercial magnates show what the spirit of sacrifice is Let them say, "We give to the State, to the people who are capable of such mighty heroic sacrifices, complete liberty to take the whole of our resources in this country and throughout the world for the purpose of bringing about that social change." I warn hon. Members, I warn the Foreign Secretary, that there is no guarantee that you are going to win the war by military méans.
I took a very serious view from the very beginning when I saw mighty masses of men tramping the streets of Austria and Germany on the borders of Sudetenland. I saw masses of men and material everywhere thrown into this tremendous struggle with a light heart in the belief that Britain must always win through, slowly and stupidly, but will always get there. On this occasion have a care. I do not say this in any disparaging manner. The forces in the world which are gathered behind military leaders are all imbued with fanaticism and fear, and they believe fanatically in their order and in their Fuehrer and in that new order, believing that along that way sacrifice 925 will lead to higher standards of life and better ways of living. The people in this country are anxious for the same thing. May it not be that throughout the world the workers can be brought together over the heads of monarchs and tyrants if you are prepared to inaugurate that new system and to end the old system, which has mangled the bodies of human beings and destroyed youth and children and people of old age? You may vote us down, but you cannot vote down the idea and the spirit behind it, because, through the walls of prisons, through the humble courts, through every single avenue where the expression of thought can be given, men and women will resound with this demand before long. The tramping feet of our men may threaten you in your citadel if you try to use them again in the struggle as you are using them to-day for selfish ends. Give us this new order in reply to the German order, and let us say to the German people, "We have begun a new way of life. We ask you also to respond to us, and in the end we can march together to an ideal system of society where war, unemployment, disease, pestilence and poverty shall be rooted out of the lives of men and women in every part of the world."
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I beg to second the Amendment.
Hon. Members in all parts of the House will realise that right from the beginning our attitude towards Fascism has been unrelenting in its opposition to the development of this force. We have as great a hatred of what is represented by Fascism and National Socialism as any section in the community. We have a consistent record of opposition to it, and, in putting the Amendment forward at this time, we do so without any change in our point of view. We stand whole-heartedly against all the conceptions represented by Hitlerism in the world to-day. At the same time we feel that it is necessary that we should bring forward what is essentially a vote of no confidence in the Government. The Prime Minister during recent months, in reply to criticisms, has been trying to persuade some of his critics to put down a vote of no confidence. The critics have not been willing to do it, but the Prime Minister gets it to-day from the Independent Labour Party. While there is in many sections 926 of the House a feeling of uneasiness about the Government, there is among many critics a disposition to say that the Prime Minister is all right but that some other Members of the Government, the Munich men and that kind of people, are really the bugbears and the people who are hindering the war effort.
I cannot understand the enthusiasm of so many Members above the Gangway here for the Prime Minister. I am at a loss to understand why so many of the working people should look to him as their saviour. Quotations have been given today by my hon. Friend from speeches made by the Prime Minister which make it perfectly plain that whatever else the Prime Minister is, he is no great friend of the workers of this or any other country. I have no confidence in the right hon. Gentleman any more than I have in the colleagues whom he has gathered together in the Government. There is a great deal of uneasiness in the House of Commons with regard to the Government, and a great deal of criticism is taking place. When Members get together it is evident from their conversation that they are not at all satisfied with the way in which things are going. So many feel that the Prime Minister is absolutely the only person for the leadership of the country that they have got to put up with it, but everybody knows that there is all this uncertainty about the Government and the way in which they are carrying on.
Never perhaps did a Government come to power with greater promise of the capacity for inspiring hope in many hearts than the present Government, Members are asking, "Where now are all the energy and all the great promise that were shown in the opening days of the Government?" I used to be bored stiff by the platitudes that came from the present Secretary of State for Air when he was indulging in criticism of the previous Government. Taking it by and large, however, there has been practically no difference in the conduct of the war or the government of the country. What is true with regard to the feeling of uneasiness and growing lack of faith in the Government among Members is true in the country among so many people. There is a development of a feeling of insecurity and the consciousness that the Government will never be able to lead the country out of its difficulties. Until we get a Government 927 which will take a new line of approach to the problems we are called upon to face in the war, this unrest will grow and this sense of insecurity will develop. The fundamental need is a change in the point of view and a realisation that until the old economic system which was responsible for this terrible war overtaking the world, the old economic system of rivalry among the peoples of the world and of profit and plunder, is ended we shall always have this sense of insecurity and no hope of bringing an end to the war and of bringing real peace.
Another feature I see in the development of things to-day is the way in which Members feel fearfully harassed about the unwillingness of the Government to deal with obvious wrongs that are being done to great sections of the community. The Government have been trying to cajole women into the Services, factories and workshops. They have been making their appeals. They know they will never get the women by brutal conscription and they have been trying to get them by what I would call voluntary compulsion. Yet they refuse to give them ordinary, decent treatment. They put them to every disadvantage with regard to compensation in the event of injury in a blitz, and they refuse to give them equal pay for equal work. The Government impose all these injustices upon the women, and then they think that they will get them by putting up silly posters offering them a life of adventure in the A.T.S. As an hon. Member said the other day,, the offer of adventure to women is not what they want. They want the promise of security and ordinary, decent treatment, but the Government will not give them that. They are not willing to give the women social equality with men, equal compensation, equal pension and equal treatment.
That is symptomatic and it shows what is at the root of the difficulties that the Government are facing throughout the country. We find the same thing with regard to the Services. Every few months, as a result of Questions in the House and a certain amount of agitation, another little advance is made in the treatment of the men in the Services. There has been pressure in the House for more adequate pensions for men incapacitated as the result of service and better allowances for their wives and dependants. The little 928 that has been gained in the way of improvement has been dragged out of the Government by any amount of agitation and pressure in the House and the country. This Amendment gives Members the opportunity of saying to the Government that they must change all that and must do justice to the people on the home front if they are to inspire in the world the confidence which will lead to the development of the forces which will overthrow the tyranny that has grown up on the Continent through Hitlerism.
One thing has struck me with regard to the situation in which we find ourselves. It is that, in spite of the awful brutality of Hitlerism, of the tremendous crimes carried out in the different countries of Europe, of the fearful poverty that has overtaken the millions in the occupied countries, of the fearful pressure on the men and women in those countries who see their children being starved to death in the intolerable conditions in which they have been placed—in spite of all that there is yet no development in any of the countries of a widespread revolt against their oppressors. Why is that, when there is this tremendous pressure of famine and want? One great reason is the lack of confidence in the British Government and in the aims of the British people in this struggle. The Government have not been able to "get it across" to those oppressed peoples because, in view of the record of British Imperialism, those peoples believe there is not so very much to choose between the two systems. They hear— the Germans make sure that they hear— how the leaders of the people in India are shut up by the British oppressors; they hear how the Colonial peoples are being treated by the British Government; and consequently, in spite of all their sufferings, they do not feel any incentive to rise against their oppressors, having no faith in the promises of British Imperialism.
§ Mr. Stephen
At the present time the men and women in the workshops and factories throughout the occupied countries of Europe are producing materials which will be used by the Germans for their enslavement, and if there were a greater faith in the future which 929 was offered to them by a British victory, there would be strike after strike throughout Europe. The people would be willing to take the risk of being shot. The workers have always taken that risk. There would be ever so much industrial trouble throughout all the oppressed countries. It is no use blinking the facts. The psychological attack by Britain has been weak in the extreme. It was a long time before we got the Atlantic Charter. In a similar Debate a year ago we asked for a statement of war aims and were told that we could not have it, that it would be very dangerous, that it would divide the Allies and that it would lead to many difficulties. A few months afterwards we saw the Prime Minister and the President of the United States getting together and giving us the Atlantic Charter, doing something which we had been condemned for asking for a year ago.
Before the Coalition came into being hon. Members above the Gangway on this side were vociferous in demanding a statement of war aims from the Government, but when their Members became hostages to British Imperialism in this "dog's breakfast of a Government."—I use that phrase without offence; it was formerly used by the present Secretary of State for Scotland about the first National Government, I think—then it did not seem to be so important that our war aims should be stated. Evidently President Roosevelt thought differently, and when the Prime Minister and he came together we got the Atlantic Charter, we got a plan. It is obvious that the Prime Minister does not feel so very comfortable about this Atlantic Charter, seeing how he has begun to hedge and to point out that it does not apply to India. Evidently it is to apply only to countries in which we are not specifically interested or in which British capital is not specially interested. Until we have this country showing that it is in earnest about a new order and putting forward a real new order in opposition to the new order which Hitlerism is proclaiming, we shall not get that uprising by general strike throughout the oppressed countries that I should like to see.
Our Amendment also says that a Government that really realised the problems of the world to-day would lay down the basis of a Socialist Charter. Make no mistake about it. The people who passed 930 through the years of unemployment after the last war and who are passing through the horrors of the present time will not be inspired by the prospect of having to go through a similar experience after this war. Ordinary working people in all countries are hoping for something new, are hoping that it will be different this time. When I am visiting my constituency I constantly meet people who ask "Mr. Stephen, do you think it will be different after this war from what it was after the last-war? Are we going to get the things they are promising us?" and I cannot honestly say to them that I can see any hope of anything very different after this war, if the attitude of the present Government is to be a criterion of what will happen in the future.
In the days before this war, when we were discussing the international situation, I once ventured to put forward a plea for a change in foreign policy. I think the present Foreign Secretary was Foreign Secretary at that time also. What we ought to do is to build up a great new alliance. The Government ought to offer an alliance to the German people and also to the French and the Americans, a general alliance of all the great world Powers. Some hon. Members have asked me against whom this alliance would be directed. I suggest that the alliance should be directed against the enemy of the people in every country, and the enemy of the people in every country is poverty. If we could get a great crusade of the nations to end poverty, we should be able to avoid another world war; and I believe that the way out of this world war is for a great statesman to come forward, point out the folly and the futility of carrying on these battles, in which millions of people are being murdered, and ask the nations to call a conference at which the statesmen of the world could get down to the task of laying the foundations of a new social order which would sweep away poverty from every country in the world.
The terrible thing about the position is that we have in the world to-day the economic power to banish poverty from every land. The resources of the world are capable of providing a decent standard of life for every family, whatever the race may be—white, black or yellow; yet the statesmen of the world are not willing to utilize those resources. Instead, 931 millions of working people are killing one another in a vain effort to make the world safe for democracy. It is a miserable pretence. I hope this Amendment, and challenge, will have its effect throughout the country and that, in the months and years of struggle that lie ahead, our country will be active in developing its opposition to the present order and in seeking to bring about the end of the struggle, by the uprising of the working people of every country to build a new social order. In such' an order there would be no dictators, but there would be an opportunity for a full, free and happy life for every family and every individual.
§ Mr. Garro Jones (Aberdeen, North)
We have listened to two powerful speakers in support of the Amendment. We must remember that a proportion of the people who are now suffering will be ready to grasp at any straw of hope which may appear to offer them an easy way out of their suffering. For that reason, when proposals are tabled here which put forward a quicker or easier way out of the struggle, it is necessary that they should receive a prompt and reasoned answer. This is all the more necessary when the proposals are put forward by three hon. Members who are experienced Parliamentarians, who have adopted the status of a political party and who can by no means be disregarded as an influence in the House. I would remind hon. Members who sit behind me that when they address themselves to this Amendment they should keep in mind something which they have learned by long experience. It is that one of the objects of the experienced hon. Members below the Gangway, when putting Amendments on the Order Paper, is not only to put themselves in the right, but to endeavour to put their opponents, and particularly the Labour party, in the wrong. They must constantly try to maintain an Opposition point of view different from that of the party of which, whether they like to remember it or not, they are an offshoot.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
They must do so in order to justify their continued isolation, and invest it, if possible, with splendour. They like to feel that their brand of Socialism and the proposals which they 932 advocate—I am sure they would not claim any greater sincerity for them than is felt by other hon. Members—are a little more generous than those put forward by hon. Members above the Gangway, and are invested with greater nobility of sentiment than comes from any other quarter of the House. When it is necessary to put all these considerations on the Order Paper, I am sure that the resourcefulness of the hon. Members in question must sometimes be taxed to the uttermost. That resourcefulness must be all the more taxed this year because they have been obliged to put down forms of words which will favourably distinguish them not only from the Labour party but also from the Conservative party and the Communist party as well. Whether they have succeeded in doing so, I will leave the House to judge.
However, once again a form of words has been produced. It is not new for us on these benches, looking at this form of words, to find that it appears to put us in a difficulty, because it contains many words and phrases to which, if they are taken by themselves, we can offer no serious objection; but let the Amendment be considered in the light of speeches made by the hon. Members and of what they have said in the past. The first fault then found with it is that, by implication, it exculpates the Nazi rulers in great measure from responsibility for this war by seeking to lay that responsibility upon the general economic system which prevails in the world. The first question I want to ask them, therefore, is this: Suppose, after the new I.L.P. millennium had been introduced, and human progress had developed further, someone thought that some new millennium would be better than the millennium of the I.L.P.; by what method would it have to be changed?
Our primary complaint against the attitude of those hon. Members is that they do not appear to share the powerful and strong resentment that we feel at the continued opposition of the German Nazi rulers to settling their complaints and grievances by the process of negotiation. The Amendment does not say or mean that the direct responsibility for this war must rest on the Nazi rulers. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), I take it, confirms what I say, that responsibility 933 for the war must rest on the Nazi rulers. The Amendment does not say that no complaint by the Nazi rulers about exploitation can excuse them for their wicked breaches of faith and their aggression. The Amendment does not say or mean—I do not believe that the promoters themselves believe this—that no worth while reconstruction is possible until the Nazi rulers have been removed. It would, of course, be difficult for those hon. Members to say any of those things, having regard to what the House remembers of their past statements. I doubt whether the hon. Member for Shettleston would deny his belief that the Nazi rulers are trying to get justice for Germany. He has used words to that effect in the House.
§ Mr. McGovern
I would like to correct the hon. Gentleman; I cannot allow that to go out. I have stated that there is a belief among those following Hitler that they are going along the road towards justice; that does not mean to say that I believe Hitler and his Nazi leaders are trying to get justice for the common people.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I recognise some distinction, but whether there is a difference or not I leave the House to judge when I have read his particular statement of last year to which I was referring:I believe that Hitler has indulged in smash and grab with the intention of forcing France and Britain to recognise the power and might of Germany, in order to come to terms with them and to get justice for the German nation.If the hon. Member thinks that there is a difference between what he has just said and that, he is welcome to do so.
There is a further aspect of the hon. Member's attitude which is shared by his colleagues and from which I dissent. He believes that the Nazi rulers are little if any worse than any other Government in Europe, including our own; indeed, he opened his speech with a comparison between the method of suppressing expressions of opinion in Germany by putting people in concentration camps and that of suppressing expressions of opinion in this country by putting people into the Government. I am perfectly sure that the hon. Member did not really mean to be quite serious when he made that statement, because he forgets that the action of the present Labour Members of this 934 Government was authorised and endorsed by the Labour Conference. I have heard the hon. Gentleman say that this Government is as bad as the Nazi gang. I am putting this forward in order that the House can decide what they think about his proposed Amendment to the Address. I have heard him say that the Lord Privy Seal is like Hitler, so that when you hear the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) saying that he loathes and detests the Nazi regime and everything like it or connected with it, he intends all these expressions of detestation to apply equally to the democratic Government and processes of government which exist in this country at the present time. In addition to hearing him say that the Lord Privy Seal is like Hitler, I have heard my hon. Friend say that the Prime Minister is like Goering. I do not know whether he intended to make any physical comparison between these four persons, or whether he was comparing them in wickedness and ferocity. I am quite content to allow my right hon. Friends to say which they would regard as the more flattering or unflattering.
I would now like to ask hon. Members to scrutinise for a moment this year's proposal in comparison with last year's, as it will be very useful to make that comparison. It seems to me—and the hon. Member for Shettleston will correct me if he can—that during the last 12 months the I.L.P., while still claiming to know a way to bring the war to an end, have abandoned the demand for a conference, which was their proposal last year, and have instead substituted the new proposals which are on the Order Paper this year. Last year the war could be ended by a conference with Hitler, this year the war is to be ended by the overthrow of Hitler. It seems clear that between these two aims there is a fundamental clash which cannot be reconciled by a study of what the hon. Member said to-day or what he has said in recent months or years. Indeed, a study of what the hon. Member has said only makes it harder to reconcile these two aims. I do not at all complain of the statements which have been made by the hon. Gentleman, and since he does not dissent from what I have just said, I do not propose to read his statement.
§ Mr. McGovern
Because I do not intervene every few moments it does not mean 935 to say that I agree with everything the hon. Member says. All I can say is that if we could get a new Socialist order established in this country, as a means of ending the war, that would imply an international conference of representatives to convert the old capitalist system into a new Socialist order.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's consideration in not interrupting me, but having regard to what he has said, I would like to read that statement of his upon which I founded my opinion. Before we could have this international conference we should have to make it possible for it to be held, and before it can be held we must presumably secure the overthrow—according to the terms of the Amendment—of the Nazi régime. We are to secure that overthrow not by the use of force, with which the hon. Members apparently disagree, but by some other method which is not clearly indicated. Last year, on 5th December, the hon. Member for Shettleston said this:We have to be careful that we do not go on declaring that we are prepared to continue this struggle to the bitter end and so put behind Hitler this body of opinion, which, is really antagonistic to him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1940; col. 700, Vol. 367]He then referred to his visit to Germany a short time before the war and said that all with whom he had consulted, including Socialists, said that if it came to war they would stand behind Hitler. He further said:I remember, at the outset of the war, warning this House not to be taken in with the belief that the German people would win the war for us by revolting."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1940; col. 704, Vol. 367.]Nevertheless, we are now asked to put forward proposals which will lead the German nation to revolt.
I think that the policy which was expressed last year by the hon. Members of asking for a conference was an intelligible policy, but the argument which they put forward then was very fully answered by the Lord Privy Seal and by the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). It appears to me that the proposal for a conference put forward last year has now been abandoned in favour of the proposals for the overthrow of Hitler which we find on the Order Paper to-day. The way that Hitler is to be overthrown is by internal 936 revolt. I must say that if I am to be compelled to choose between the hope of ending the war by a conference with Hitler or by the method of internal revolt, though I believe that neither is obtainable now, I should prefer to pin my faith to the method of internal revolt, notwithstanding that the hon. Member for Shettleston long ago told us that it is a futile hope. It is very hard to know what the real policy of the hon Gentlemen below the Gangway is, in spite of the eloquence with which it is advocated. They have declared repeatedly that they are not pacifists, and yet at other times— [Interruption]—if I am interrupted I am compelled to give the quotations; the hon. Member for Shettleston at any rate has said:I am an individual of pacifist convictions, although I am not a complete pacifist.
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Gentleman need not enter into any arguments about that, because the hon. Member for Shettleston and myself have said time and time again that we are not pacifists although we may be anti-war.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
If this Government is the same as the German Government, neither the hon. Member for Camlachie nor the hon. Member for Shettleston could be pacifists. However, the hon. Member for Bridgeton has said that he is anti-war but not pacifist. I do not know what the distinction is, particularly when I have heard the hon. Member for Shettleston say that his method of conducting this war would be to retire behind fortifications and not fire a shot, and go to the microphone to conduct hostilities. Another aspect of the policy of the hon. Members which rather baffles me is that they are unable to see any substantial difference between the Fascist system of government and the British system of government which permits and welcomes a Debate like this. They have, particularly, frequently compared conditions in British governed territories with the Nazi system, and yet, at other times, I have heard one of them, I am not sure which, thanking God for the refuge provided from Fascism in certain British territories. I really think it is necessary to have some clarification of their attitude.
I would like to say something about the callfor the ending of the present economic system of financial and commercial rivalry and exploitation937 andlaying down the basis of a Socialist Charter.We here realise fully the necessity of convincing our own people and the world that this war marks the end of the old economic system. All the plans of this party are built on that aim. What has been done to that end? I think that is a question which these hon. Members are entitled to ask. First, there is a Socialist Charter in existence already in the form of a statement put out by the Labour party at their conference this year, and backed by the whole of the members of the Labour party and the members of the Labour party in this Government. Then there, is the Atlantic Charter. Admittedly, it does not contain everything which the hon. Member, who dealt with it in his speech, wants, but it has very powerful backing. It has been backed by Great Britain and the United States, and the Soviet Union has expressed adhesion to those principles. Therefore I myself say that something is already being done to put out a charter for the world. In addition to that, at the International Labour Office Conference this year, only last month, 35 nations met and expressed their conviction that the Atlantic Charter was a sound basis for the future reconstruction of the world, and, what is more important, expressed their conviction that no reconstruction was possible without the defeat of the German and Nazi system.
It seems to me that although we might get an I.L.P. charter, it is very much better to have one signed by names which, in what, I believe, is bankers' jargon, "are good for the amount," rather than to have vague charters by people who cannot deliver the goods. What kind of charter have the hon. Members in mind? To be quite plain about this, political charters have been floating about Europe for the last 100 or 200 years—ever since the Marxian Manifesto of 1848. There have been several in Germany alone. There was one very powerful Socialistic charter in Germany backed by 130 members of the Reichstag just before Hitler came into power. There were several in Italy before Mussolini came into power. There have been several Socialist charters in Britain. There was one, I believe, by Robert Owen; another by William Morris, to say nothing of Karl Marx himself. If I remember my Socialist history aright, when Keir Hardie founded or created the 938 Independent Labour Party in 1893, he rejected all these dogmatic forms of Socialism in favour of more specific and practical proposals. I believe he did once attend the Marxian conference, but found it so unconvincing that he thereafter repudiated all dogmatic forms of Socialism.
I am very much afraid that charters put forward by small minorities in different countries, each with a different interpretation of the meaning of the word "Socialism," are not likely to cause any anti-Nazi explosions unless they are assisted by gunpowder and steel, and signed by Governments that can deliver the goods. The King's Speech, the Labour party's active plans, the Atlantic Charter, and the proceedings of the International Labour Office last month, together constitute, not perhaps a charter, but a manual of action, which is laying the foundation of the post-war world. And if charters or principles are going to help us to win the war, there is as much there as the peoples of Europe can hope to get. Certainly much more inspiration and force can be derived from them than from this Charter proposed in the Amendment, which, so far as I know, is not yet even drafted.
I want to end my few remarks on a note of sterner realism. I do not underestimate the power of promises and plans, but alone they will not overthrow our enemies. Our resistance, the Soviet resistance, the American help, and the passive resistance which is shown in the occupied countries are primarily actuated by a strong sense of self-preservation, by opposition to cruelty and tyranny and enslavement, and, above all, hatred of the bad faith which characterises the Nazi regime. Speaking for myself, I think that good faith is the one essential moral foundation of human well-being. It has been completely undermined by the Nazi system. Without good faith, and reliance upon the word of nations and rulers, you can have no Socialism, no Independent Labour party policy, no progress and no peace. We are fighting—at any rate this is my understanding of the position—to put back that foundation of good faith, and when we have succeeded in doing that, then, together, we can begin to build upon it our better world.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Norwich)
The Independent Labour Party's Amendment 939 has been moved by the hon. Member for-Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) in a speech of characteristic vigour and ability. I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) will later deliver his speech with characteristic charm and persuasiveness, which nevertheless will not, I think, deceive the House.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am sorry. I did not mean to convey any disparaging inference. I think we should be grateful to the Independent Labour Party at least for the annual opportunity that they give us by putting down an Amendment to the Address which they press to a Division. That enables this House to demonstrate, in a manner that would scarcely be possible otherwise, the fundamental unity among all the great parties in this country to pursue this struggle to a victorious end. I would only quarrel with one thing, that comes in so many of their speeches, and appears surprising, and not quite worthy of them. There is so often an implication that they loathe war more than the rest of us do. That is untrue. The loathing of war is universal in this House, and they have not a monopoly of it. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones) drew attention, rightly, in my opinion, to the contrast between the Amendment moved last year and that which has been moved to-day. But if the two Amendments can be contrasted in certain ways, they have also two points of similarity. The first is that, while the people of this country are engaged in a life-and-death struggle, the most serious in which they have ever been engaged, the Independent Labour Party find it impossible to give any active aid. The other point is that both these Amendments suggest that there is a way of terminating this war, on tolerable conditions, otherwise than by the use of force. If that were true, the number that would follow those hon. Members into the Division Lobby to-day would be large, instead of small. The fact is that it is demonstrably untrue.
That brings me to the point of contrast to which the hon. Member for North Aberdeen has already called attention. The proposed method for bringing the war to a satisfactory conclusion, otherwise than by the use of force, has changed. 940 Last year, we were to have a conference with the victorious Hitler. This year, they propose to bring about the overthrow of Nazi rule, both in Germany and in the occupied countries, by words. If, in the words of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, they showed themselves, on the last occasion, to be irresponsible, they do not show themselves to be more responsible to-day. I cannot congratulate them on the alteration in their Amendment, because last year the proposal to come to the conference table with Hitler, however foolish it might; have been, or however disastrous, was, at least, a possibility, but to overthrow Hitler by means of words is not a plausible possibility. [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member will let me quote again the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) on the subject last year:I remember, at the outset of the war, warning this House not to be taken in with the belief that the German people would win the war for us by revolting."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1940; col. 704, Vol. 367.]I agreed with that view of the hon. Member, and I believe that it is still correct.
If we examine the Amendment which has been put on the Order Paper, the first thing to be noted is this. The first part of it deals mainly with proposals for the future, and for the avoidance of future wars. It describes the present economic system as one offinancial and commercial rivalry and exploitation,a description applied to international trade which during the present war is almost inevitably at a standstill. On the assumption that that is a true description of the economic situation, the proposal to end the system might possibly help to avoid future wars, but it would have no effect on the present war. I will come later to that part of the Amendment which deals with this war and with the "Socialist Charter." That first part of the Amendment is interesting, not as containing any practicable proposal for the ending of the present war, but as enabling us to judge the skill of the Independent Labour Party in diagnosis.
They say that the present economic system offinancial and commercial rivalry and exploitationis responsible for war. What is quite certain is that it was not: responsible for this war. This war was caused by the 941 German invasion of Poland. Germany did not invade Poland because of financial or commercial rivalry or for an economic end. Their motive was desire for European conquest, as a stepping stone to world conquest. The first essential point is this—unless we realise it we do not realise the most fundamental fact in the situation—that Hitler is leading a formidable and united people in a war of conquest in which they passionately believe, and that they follow him with a religious devotion—although their religion is devilish. That is one of the few matters on which I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Shettleston. He said that the Germans believe in their cause; and the frequent assumption that there is a great mass of German people which does not believe in the creed of their leader is a most dangerous delusion which, if persisted in, may lead us to disaster, or, after the victory is won, may rob us of the fruits of victory, and rob our children of peace. But if economic rivalry and exploitation was not the cause of the invasion of Poland, which started the present war, still less was it the cause of the invasion, five months ago, of Russia, which has immensely enlarged the sphere of the war. Do the Members of the Independent Labour Party really believe that Germany's treacherous invasion of Russia was caused by the present economic system ofcommercial and financial rivalry and exploitation"?Both Russia and Germany got rid of capitalism as we understand it years ago. They may not have the sort of system that hon. Members like.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am sure the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), when he has the opportunity, will tell us on what grounds he believes that Germany invaded Russia as a result of the motive set down in the Amendment. I am certain that he will favour the House with his view. For my part I see no evidence that, whatever the cause for which Hitler invaded Russia, it bears the slightest resemblance to the cause set down in the Amendment. I am not denying that such economic motives may be the cause of some wars, but there is every evidence that it was not the cause either of the original invasion of Poland or of the invasion of Russia.
942 Take the invasion of Russia. Not only had Russia long got rid of capitalism, not only had they a treaty of non-aggression with Germany, not only were the two countries not exploiting each other, but they had a treaty of economic collaboration. I should think that they were behaving towards each other in almost exactly the way the Independent Labour Party approved. What happens? Germany makes a treacherous, powerful and almost overwhelming attack. Why? Because the German Government, backed by the German people, believe in such aggression, believe in it as part of their religion and will pursue that policy to the end.
The next part of the Amendment deals with Colonies and demands immediate self-government for the Colonies. I do not wish to deal with that part of the Amendment at much length, for the reason that the subject was dealt with only a week ago in a full Debate in this House. The main difference between Members of the Independent Labour Party and the rest of the House on that part of their Amendment is in the use of the word "immediately," because the belief that the Colonial Empire should progress towards self-government is common to all parties in this House. But let me put this to Members of the Independent Labour Party. They are, I know, humane men. I know that they set and desire a civilised standard. They are asking for immediate self-government in our Colonies. What do they suppose would happen to our Colonies if we lost this war, in which they propose to take no part? Would there be any self-government in our Colonies then or would they be enslaved by their German rulers in the way in which so much of Europe is being enslaved, to the sorrow, as I know, of Members of the Independent Labour Party as of the rest of us?
Then we come to the part of the Amendment which is the only relevant part as far as ending the present war is concerned, and that is that the Government should lay down the basis of a Socialist Charter. I was a little troubled by the fact that the hon. Member for North Aberdeen, (Mr. Garro Jones) did not think fit to condemn that proposal for the monstrosity which it is. I believe that nearly every Member opposite, if he will follow me, will agree with me on this. What would they have thought if 943 we on the Tory benches had put down an Amendment demanding the enunciation of a Tory charter, or the Liberals had put down an Amendment demanding the enunciation of a charter of Liberalism?
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not want to argue about that. They would have said that it was a shameful and indecent manœuvre for party ends, and indeed it would have been, and they would have been right to complain. But the hon. Member for North Aberdeen seemed to assume that there would have been nothing wrong in a non-Socialist Government suddenly enunciating a Socialist Charter. I am glad for the reputation for logic of the Independent Labour Party that there is no misleading nonsense about democracy in this Amendment, because, after all, there is nothing that could conceivably be more undemocratic than this demand. When Conservatives, Liberals, and Labour men are all fighting for their lives and to preserve their country, it is suggested that the opportunity should be seized behind their backs by the Government of the day, without the slightest mandate from the people, to enunciate a charter of Socialism though Socialism has never commanded a majority either in this House or in the country. I am not asking any Members opposite to abandon their Socialist beliefs. I honour them for their belief in their own principles, but I think that they themselves, if they will think this matter out, would like a Socialist Charter to be introduced, when it is introduced, by a Socialist Government or a Government that believes in it and not by a Government, which, to their know-ledge, does not believe in it.
Objections have often been raised, and by many nations, to the use of war as an instrument of national policy. It seems to me even worse to use war as an instrument of party policy. But the hon. Members of the Independent Labour Party have the frankness, for which all credit is due to them, to make it clear that their attack was a full attack upon the whole Government, including the Prime Minister. They made it absolutely clear, and I agree that that strengthened their logical position, but the remaining sections of the House, at any rate, generally approve of the Prime Minister, whatever their views of some Members of the Government may 944 be, or at least they recognise that in a democratic country like this at the present moment we have as Prime Minister the one man who inevitably should be there. He is not a Socialist and it would be monstrous if he suddenly published a Socialist Charter as the charter of his Government.
Where to-day are the main vigour and health of the nation to be found? They are to be found in our Navy, in our Army, in our Air Force, in the Mercantile Marine, in the Civil Defence services, in the mines, in the factories, on the railways and in the workshops. In all these places men and women are collaborating easily and in a friendly way without inquiring much about each other's political beliefs, but caring very much whether they are good or bad at their jobs. All these men and women of different political principles find it easy to collaborate in the present crisis because they are agreed on two things. They all have two things in common. They seek to defeat something which they know to be evil, and they seek to preserve the things they love, their homes, their children and their way of life. There is, I am well aware. a fashion among half-baked intellectuals, whose verbose folly fills the bilious weeklies and bleats from the B.B.C., to pretend that there was little or nothing in our old way of life that was worth preserving, that there was nothing of value in a civilisation and culture derived from many sources, from Greece, from Rome, from Christianity, which English genius and traditions had enriched and English politics sometimes nobly and sometimes unworthily served. That may be the view of academic intellectuals; it is not the view of our fighters or our workers.
A lot has been said about a new order. The absurd point has been made that because Hitler has announced a new order— it is not new, and it is not order, it is as old as human tyranny, as old as slavery itself—because he has created such a system and called it a new order, that that makes it incumbent upon us to produce a rival new order in opposition. Was such nonsense ever talked? The new order of Hitler is detested by men and women everywhere; they are with us because we seek to overthrow it. I am not saying whether or not we should have a new order. I know that many hon. Members opposite believe in a new order 945 and mean to work for it, as they are entitled to do and we are all entitled to do. But do not let us say that a new order is demanded by the mere fact of the new order that Hitler has produced. Trade union Members of this House, at any rate, will not suggest that it is foolish or ignoble to seek to return to some of the things that were in being before the war. I understand that they are to back a Bill, shortly to be introduced, which seeks to bring about a compulsory return to prewar practices, so it seems that some part of the old order was not too bad. I will not argue whether such a Bill is good or bad, but it does dispose of this sort of lunacy that we hear from the half-baked Left—I am not alluding to Members of this House—who suggest that if you find anything of value or good in the life, which thousands of fighting men and working women are now seeking to preserve, you are necessarily doing something ignoble and unworthy, or worthy only of a fool.
We shall all, of course, desire reforms after the war, or even before the war has ended. I cannot pretend to be a man who is satisfied with things as they are. I have fought in this House and outside, year after year, against what seemed to me important and great evils of the day. I have fought, for example, against the senseless folly by which in a generation we destroyed the dignity and convenience of our cities and the loveliness of the fairest countryside in Europe, when we could have saved both by a little careful thought and some good laws and administration. I shall fight for the things in which I believe after the war as I did before it, and so will hon. Members in all quarters. Those who are Socialists will rightly seek to advance Socialism, and I honour them for it. Those who hold Conservative principles will seek to advance along the lines they believe to be right, and some Independent Members will not fit easily perhaps in any party. We shall have differences between us, and these differences will not be unworthy. Issues will arise between us, and they should be decided by improved and efficient methods, but I hope by democratic methods. They will not be decided by adopting without discussion the programme of a single party which has never yet commanded a majority either in the country or in this House. Why has it been 946 so easy for men and women of all parties to collaborate at the present time? It has been easy for this reason: Whatever our political faith, whatever the cause which has inspired men's minds or fired their hearts, that cause will perish in the dust, unless we win this war, for, in the Prime Minister's phrase, "Without victory there is no survival."
Even supposing there were not these objections to a Socialist Charter, why should it be supposed that the enunciation of a Socialist charter in this country would produce a revolt against Hitler? What would such a Socialist Charter contain? Presumably the old formula—nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. "Britain will nationalise her railways." That, too, will be inscribed on the banner. Why should that make the Germans revolt? The Germans nationalised their railways long ago. If it is supposed that there will be something else in this charter which will have a more provoking effect, let the House remember that the Germans call their system a Socialist system and believe that it is one. What I put to the House is this: That may be right or wrong, but it puts us in this dilemma. If it is a Socialist system, obviously our enunciation of a Socialist Charter will not provoke them to revolt. If, on the other hand, it is thought fantastic to call the Nazi system a Socialist system, it will not attract them at all, because they prefer their system.
Why did they adopt their system? The Weimar Republic offered several Socialist systems, but none at any time commanded anything like the enthusiasm that Hitler's system commanded in Germany. There is no reason to think that our enunciation of a Socialist Charter would provoke any revolution in Germany.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am sorry if I am long, but I am the first Conservative speaker. It may be said that although this particular Amendment may be full of points which can be attacked, there may be something sound in the idea that we should seek to produce a German revolution by making promises to the German people. I say that is a bad policy. More nonsense is talked about political warfare 947 pernaps than about any other subject. I do not suggest for one moment that there is no part for political warfare to play. There is. For instance, you can do good by telling the truth to those who would not otherwise hear it. Honest, straightforward news bulletins in foreign languages can be very useful. But we will not do any good by promising rewards or, indeed, by making any promises, to people who have supported the most monstrous aggressions in history. Too much of our propaganda to Germany has tended to encourage a sham revolution. The object of our policy is to bring the war to an end on our terms. With no German Government whatsoever should we be prepared to end the war on any other terms. These terms include—as the Prime Minister himself pointed out in expounding the Atlantic Charter over the wireless—the disarmament of Germany while we remain armed ourselves. That is, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, a most essential term, and must be insisted on whatever Government is in power in Germany. No matter with what generosity the world may be prepared to treat Germany after the war, that term alone makes it unlikely that any German Government will accept those terms until we are in a position to impose them.
But suppose we wish to bring about a revolution in Germany. The least likely way to produce that result is constantly to assert a distinction between Germans and Nazis, of which our enemies have hitherto given us very little evidence. No good psychologist would suggest that that is the way to increase whatever difference there may be between the German Government and its followers. We are far more likely to produce and foster such a difference if we make it quite clear in all our propaganda that we shall assume, until they demonstrate the contrary, that the German people are behind their Government. That course has the further advantage that the assumption is in fact true. In every aggression that Hitler has committed, he has had behind him the overwhelming support of the German people. It is not Hitler who has made the German people so deadly a menace. It is the German people who alone give importance to Hitler. Without Hitler the German people would still remain formidable; without the German 948 people Hitler is nothing. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) wrote in a recent letter to the Press, that we must give the ordinary German "an alternative to Hitler," as if Hitler was, or ever had been, a necessity. The German people will find a million alternatives to Hitler the moment that he ceases to satisfy them. We shall not bring that moment nearer if, by holding out extravagant hopes to the German people, provided they get rid of Hitler, we present them with the best both-ways bet in history. If Hitler leads them to victory, all other nations become their slaves; if they are defeated, they have only to stage a democratic revolution and all will be forgiven them. What inducement does that give them to do anything but work and fight for Hitler's victory?
In his recent speech in the City, which we heard with such admiration over the wireless, the Prime Minister said at the conclusion that we should not have negotiations with Hitler or with any Government in Germany that represented the Nazi Regime. I suggest to the Government that that formula does not cover perhaps the most probable development. If the German people and the German Government begin to fear defeat, the government that will most probably seek to negotiate will be a Government of the generals and the military party. They will get rid of Hitler and repudiate the Nazis. It will be a transparent trick. I hope the Government will not be deceived, and I hope equally they will not be deceived if a Government of the Left is set up in Germany when they begin to fear for their fate. There is one principle, and one principle only, which is sound, and that is this; there must be no armistice with any German Government of whatever sort except on the terms of German disarmament while we remain armed ourselves. Otherwise, after all our sacrifices, we shall obtain at best a truce. If we fail to understand this, the cause of freedom will perish and a new Dark Age awaits mankind.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I think the fact that we are able to hold this Debate in the middle of a great war, and listen to the speeches which we have heard from the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment, is a very great tribute to the free institutions of 949 this country for which we are now fighting. Many of the remarks made by the hon. Members must have stirred very deep feelings. When we are told that the motives inspiring us in this war, in which there is great loss of life, are purely selfish motives, it is bound to stir deep feelings. Nevertheless, if the hon. Members hold those views sincerely, as we all believe they do, it is right that they should state them. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), at the beginning of his speech, referred to the different ways in which oppositions are dealt with in Germany and in this country. He said that the Labour party had gone into the Government. But what about him? He has not been silenced, he puts forward an opposition point of view; and if he had been in Germany and had said the things which he has said to-day, he would have been shot long ago. That shows the difference between the two methods of government.
I am glad that we are to have a Division at the end of the Debate in order that the country may see where the Prime Minister and the Government stand. The Prime Minister is absolutely supreme. The fact that some things have been quoted against him from his past speeches— which it is not very difficult to do, particularly, in the case of certain eminent persons—will not, I think, make the slightest difference to our people. I have no doubt that many Members of the House, although they feel that many Ministers have done admirable work, feel that certain Ministers might suitably be changed. We shall venture respectfully to put forward those views to the Prime Minister from time to time, but if the Prime Minister, after having reviewed the whole situation, still feels that his present colleagues, with whom he has been working so harmoniously, are the right ones to enable us to carry this war through to victory, we shall back him and bow to his judgment. In my constituency, people of all parties and every section are overwhelmingly, and almost unanimously, behind the Prime Minister. The country will take much from him which it would not take from a lesser man. He has no doubt the defects of his qualities, but what magnificent qualities he has. Let hon. Members remember how he lifted us up in those dark days after Dunkirk, and how, by the courage 950 and genious of his leadership, he has sustained us and will lead us to victory.
The Amendment before the House is an interesting one, but I hope that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), when he speaks, will elucidate it a little. It is clear that he himself, at any rate, is in favour of war in certain circumstances. I heard him say that in Debates on Spain in past days. He does not deny it. It would be very interesting if he would indicate the type of war with which he could agreeably be associated and would be prepared to support. I should have thought that for his purposes it would have been difficult to find a more suitable one than the present conflict. It is an international war which cuts right through classes. It is not being fought for national ends. The hon. Member has not asked that the war should be stopped, he is not supporting it, he has not done anything to embarrass its progress in any way. Perhaps he will state a little more clearly what he would like done at the present time with regard to the fighting of this war and the kind of war that would appeal to him. The House does not fully understand where he stands on this matter.
This Amendment is really in a sense a plea for a better prosecution of the war. It. is a demand for a better statement of peace aims, although one may not care for the particular words which are used. The hon. Member is suggesting that by propaganda of a certain kind we might do much to help win this war. Many hon. Members will agree with that, because we are not making the fullest use of the propaganda weapon. The Amendment refers to Colonial development, but not to India —possibly it was the intention to include India. The fact that the whole might of the British Empire has been built up by the development of self-government, by giving self-government to one country after another, is a sufficiently significant tribute to where we stand in this matter. We are only too anxious, having regard to precedents of the past, to give self-government to the Colonial peoples and Indian peoples at the first moment when they are ripe to receive it. If we take the judgment of that impartial body, the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, which used to consider the problems affecting the Colonial territories of certain countries, it will be found that in practice the principles which were 951 adopted on behalf of the world are the very principles which we were using on our own accord in our own Colonial territory. That is a great tribute to the British point of view in this matter.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) made reference to the use of the words "Socialist Charter," and I entirely agree with what he has said. I do not think it is at all helpful in this war to try and make out that it is being fought in the interests of any one particular party. We are all standing together to win the war and to bring about a better state of things in the world. Everyone realises that radical changes are bound to take place. Some welcome them, and some regret them. For my part, I feel that the use of party slogans tends to divide the nation, which can go a very long way in unity both during and after the war.
Reference has been made to the Atlantic Charter. That is a great step forward, and it is the answer to my hon. Friends. It is certainly capable of being considerably developed, and I am glad to see that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is developing it by setting up an Inter-Allied Conference, which meets from time to time at St. James' Palace, and which is to be used both during and after the war for the purposes of reconstruction. Suggestions have been made that it might be better to have an Inter-Allied secretariat, and I have no doubt that that suggestion will be studied and probably adopted. At the present time all our Allies are represented on this body, with the one exception of Abyssinia, which, no doubt, will eventually become a member. Sooner or later we shall, I hope, see China and the United States represented on this body. The hon. Member for Shettleston made an attack on the United States in regard to her motives in coming into this war. He used very strong language. But I venture to quote some remarks which were made yesterday by the American Ambassador, Mr. Winant, which put the matter in a different light. He stated:The United States and Great Britain will have to co-operate in the maintenance of international security if they are to co-operate in the maintenance of satisfactory economic relations. We must continue to learn to work together. If we are to make democracy a reality in the fullest sense, we must make an effort, not less determined than the effort we 952 made to win the war, to employ our labour, materials and equipment to the fullest extent in order to achieve not merely an adequate, but an abundant standard of living for the entire population. If the democracies were to agree to give a peace-time priority to the attainment of these aims and to pursue them with the same energy they are showing in the pursuit of war aims, then we should go far towards banishing want from democratic societies.There speaks the true voice of America, and I prefer to accept the sentiments of the American Ambassador to those of the hon. Member for Shettleston. In regard to the association of States after the war, I believe that that depends, firstly, on the closest practical association of the British Empire, the United States and Russia. I say the closest practical association because we know, particularly in the case of the United States, it is very difficult to come to any binding and definite arrangement. I hope, in regard to the other Allies, that we shall maintain the same close relations in peace as we have in war. I believe that many of them will welcome a close association with the British Commonwealth of Nations, so that we may stand together with a new world order which will make it impossible for the frightful state of affairs, now devastating mankind to occur again. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will take note of this. When we have Allies and friends, their friends are our friends, and their enemies are our enemies. I hope that the Government will not delay any longer in declaring war, as has been requested many weeks ago by the Soviet Government, on Finland, Hungary and Rumania. The case of Finland has been made much more serious in the last few days, in view of the fact that she has signed the anti-Comintern Pact. It is entirely wrong that we should be standing out and that we should refuse to do what seems to be simple and reasonable in view of the aggressive policy which the Finnish Government are, unfortunately, pursuing at the present time.
I should now like to refer to what is happening inside occupied Europe. We have been told, and we have been led to believe, that things are not so very different there compared with the British Empire. I must say that I was revolted, if I may use the word, at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Shettleston that the sort of thing happening in occupied territories in Europe were comparable with what we are doing in India. It is hard 953 to contain oneself when suggestions of that kind are made. The policy of the German Government in regard to occupied territory is three-fold. Firstly, the object is to destroy completely the States Germany has occupied. They are being carved up to the right and left, and the only State which is not being cut up is Norway. Secondly, their economic life is being destroyed so that the sole industrial State left in Europe after the war will be Germany—all other States will be agricultural. Thirdly, the soul of the peoples is being destroyed. Religion is being blotted out in all these countries. In Poland, 700 priests have been killed and 3,000 are in concentration camps. The same thing is happening elsewhere. The universities and the intellectual life of the countries are being destroyed or placed under the control of the Nazis. Is it realised that occupied Europe is paying to Germany at the present time £1,000,000,000 per year? This is equal to the reparations which Germany paid during a whole period of years after the last war, and less than the loans which the Allies made to Germany and which were afterwards repudiated by her. A quarter of a million Czechs have been moved to Germany, to places where the Royal Air Force go over on their bombing raids. The Air Ministry might bear that in mind when they are considering alternative targets and also remember that there are Germans and French people working for Germany in Paris factories, and in many other parts outside Germany too. One hundred thousand Greeks have been expelled and many of them killed. Is that the sort of thing we do in India? Two million Poles have been expelled or killed and the Germans are doing their best to starve the rest of them to death. What is the good of talking about these wretched slaves revolting against Hitler's tyranny? ft is a complete impossibility.
Very little has been said so far about reparations. There must be restoration of these people to their homes. Their houses must be built again at the expense of Germany. The factories which have been destroyed must be built up once more and there must be no recognition of the transfer now taking place to neutral States of property stolen by the Germans in various occupied territories. We shall have to bear in mind, too, the food question. The 954 Germans are, deliberately, starving the occupied territories and, when the time comes for bringing food into Europe once again, while no doubt we must feed the Germans—we must do the best we can for them—they will have to be on minimum rations until the terrorised peoples have been brought back to some decent standard of life.
I should very much like to know what steps have been taken to deal with the war criminals—if a procedure has been worked out yet for seeing that they are brought to justice. I feel that there are people who are inclined to talk too much about the future of the Germans after the war. They ought to think a good deal more about the future of the victims of Germany and see that they get proper justice first and foremost. We ought to make it clear that all those who have stood bravely for civilisation in this terrible hour should come into their own again. They should regain their sovereignty and, having regained it, make such surrender of sovereignty as is necessary to maintain stability in the world as a whole. We want to overthrow Nazi rule, as the Amendment says, and it is quite right that we should develop propaganda, the spiritual sword, to the utmost degree, but victory will not come by that method alone. It will require bombs and tanks. Weapons of all kinds will have to be used on an enormous scale before we can defeat the enemy and bring him to his senses. Great sacrifices are still needed of the people of this country, and I believe they are ready for those sacrifices. I am glad to see that a Motion, put down by the Government, is to be discussed next week about man and woman power. It is long overdue. I have no doubt the House will readily assent to it. Let the Government give the word and they will find that they have a united, determined people behind them.
Mr. Gary (Eccles)
After listening to the speeches of hon. Members below the Gangway in support of their Amendment, I am still in complete confusion as to what it is that the House is recommended to do. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) talked at considerable length in terms of modern European history. That was done by Lord Acton in 13 volumes. He devoted the middle of his speech to cataloguing a long and exhaus- 955 tive list of extracts from the Prime Minister's writings and speeches running back for the last 20 years to show that his opposition to Fascism or the Fascist leaders was completely false In the subsequent speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) I saw nothing that clarified the Amendment, and I hope, when the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) comes to speak, he will prove that there is something in the Amendment which recommends itself to the House as a possible basis for a future peace. We all hold a great respect for the mover and seconder, but I am astonished at the assumption in the Amendment that bad economics and commercial rivalry are responsible for the war. Surely, while such terrible faults in human nature, such as greed and jealousy; exist there will always be war and strife in the affairs of mankind. Surely our task is to anticipate those faults by taking out suitable insurances against them in time. But the Amendment serves a useful purpose in focussing attention and provoking thought on some of the issues which are fundamental in the present struggle. Our position requires positive and constructive action, positive in winning the war, constructive in building and winning a new peace. What it does not require is the negative type of Amendment that we have before us.
There are two obvious tasks for us to concentrate upon if it is our intention to use the war to benefit mankind. As I see it, the first is that Adolf Hitler and men of his kidney shall never again be allowed to trespass upon the earth. The second task is, having removed undesirable persons, that the things that plague mankind most, war and unemployment, have to be localised to such a degree that they can never again threaten the stability of the world. But there is no formula for the removal of these things. First of all, we have to get through a war of unpredictable length and magnitude. We shall suffer much in loss of life and limb, and perhaps emerge at the end of it with the remnants of the best generation of our time. That is a shocking and an unpalatable prospect, even though we can count victory as ours at the end, and I was shocked at the view of the hon. Member for Shettleston when he said there is no guarantee that you are going to win the 956 war by military means. I refer him to the vigorous and eloquent speech of the Foreign Secretary at Manchester on 25th October, when he said that our problem would not be solved by brilliant improvisations.
The Amendment differs from that view. Perhaps it does represent in the minds of the hon. gentlemen a brilliant improvisation which might improve our war effort, but when my right hon. Friend uttered that sentiment in Manchester, I was reminded of the words with which Molotov opened the First Allied Conference in Moscow, when he said that supplies for Russia must assume a wide and systematic character. Width can be varied, imperfect, even casual, but system must be more definite and built up as a central pyramid of exact organisation.
We have an organised plan of conducting this war, and nobody outside the War Cabinet and the Plans Division is qualified to say that that plan does not exist. We also have the friendship of Russia. We began the war with an Anglo-French Alliance. That broke down, but the objective remains the same. That has to be replaced by an Anglo-Russian Alliance. After reading the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary a few days ago in the presence of the Russian Ambassador, one realised that the basis of that relationship with Russia is not a matter of temporary military expediency; it has to go forward on the basis of full economic and social cooperation. If any step is taken by either side to spoil that partnership now, it will be Hitler's opportunity to avoid defeat. We know that that new partnership has for either country immense internal dangers which will follow this war, but if we can thrash out a scheme of united strategy with Russia, we shall put ourselves in the best position to provide a first-class guarantee for our victory. We are not satisfied with the system by which we live. Will we ever be satisfied with that system?
What angers me about the present system is its stupid inefficiency, its lack of flexibility in changing over from peace to the common danger of war. It touches one's pride in a country, and it brings into contempt the character of its people. It promotes that rather frightening fear—imperceptible almost in its hold on one's 957 mind—not for the outcome of the war, but for the vast social problems of the future which we have to solve. Let us use the war to thrash out a system of government which guarantees something more than merely military victory, something which is not obscure but is obvious and self-reliant, something which safeguards the State and serves the interests of the people with equal measure.
When I think of it in that way, I see the House of Commons, not as a small club made exclusive by the ballot, but as a vast stage for the hopes and ideals of the entire nation. There lies the real task of statesmanship and our real triumph over Hitlerism. Hitler started out to get domination in Europe; he obtained it at a fairly easy price, and the German people thought it was a bargain. But, of course, domination is not an end; it is only a difficult beginning. The whole of the European system has completely broken down, and Hitler's attempt to rebuild it is a ridiculous failure. The British Government can keep it so by giving every aid to the passive resistance of the peoples in the occupied countries. We have there not a second front, not a Western front, but a third front, and it will come, in the progress of the war, to play a vital part in our victory.
Since the fall of France the words of the Prime Minister have been like a vigorous river of inspiration. This much is certain, that without that precious well of circumstance in leadership, the British people might have gone down to irrevocable disaster. There is no material prize by which the nation can account its indebtedness to my right hon. Friend. To the historian it will rank above any man-made measure of profit and loss and for that reason will become imperishable in British honour. I often think how different might have been the fate of proud France if inspired leadership had snatched the destiny of the French people from the clutch of tiredness, faction and personal greed. The hideous tragedy which is being enacted on French soil to-day is due to something more than a few years of political mismanagement, or the lost chances of a particular battlefield. Equally the rise of present-day Germany is not the outcome of a gambler's plot in the brain of Adolf Hitler. It is obvious that the broad sweep of human progress has 958 been poisoned and twisted by innumerable misjudgments, all relative, running back over a great many years. Looked at in that light, the indictment cannot be subdivided between nations. Guilt rests evenly upon all.
Germany's position represents the failure of the liberal experiment. Lord Vansittart has given us ample reasons why the Teutonic reaction has taken such an evil and vicious form. France's collapse is due more than anything else in modern history to weaknesses in the architecture of freely elected systems of government, weaknesses against which no sovereign remedy has yet been devised. Structural weaknesses in government and faults in human nature can be a dangerous compound, particularly when the affairs of State and the interests of big business fall into the same unworthy hands. Fortunately for the British Commonwealth and the United States, bad infection was confined to France, but if we are truthful to ourselves, perhaps geography and not far-sightedness was the real strength of our immunity. The manufacture of tanks, aeroplanes and guns, and with them the hoped-for sequel of the military defeat of Hitler's Germany, are only the small turning points to our main task, which is the vastly bigger turning point of world betterment. The long procession of foreign correspondents who have made brittle fortunes by writing books and articles to the common theme of "I told you so" or "I knew it all along" have entertained but have not helped the national perspective. Mr. Bruce Lock-hart once penned the opinion that it was better for mankind to be impressionable than reflective. If that sentiment be true, it is all-important that the impressions should be the right ones.
It remains in doubt whether it will be possible to reach up again in our time to the tall citadel wherein can be found all that is best in man and away for ever from the unlettered plain to which the world has been dragged by the hag-ridden creeds of Germany, Italy and Japan. But let it be our ideal, all the same, to fight for the right, to hate the petty or the unjust, to challenge cruelty and scorn treachery, to care nothing for praise or abuse, and, above all, never to let sincerity be tinged with bitterness or courage to grow dim. If we can drive the blade of human progress a little 959 further forward by our victory, for the benefit of mankind, then we shall perhaps achieve the most which we could have achieved in our time. At least let us try. If our will to do this proves to be at fault, then the Atlantic Charter becomes a mockery, and the Russian Armies looking Westward to see brightness will detect perhaps in that brightness the small dark cloud of defeat.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
When Marx and Engels issued their famous manifesto they decided to call it the Communist manifesto because there were so many people using the name of Socialism for the most corrupt and evil purposes. It is well to remember that to-day, for Hitler calls himself a Socialist and Goebbels calls himself a Socialist, and it is not to be wondered that the pathetic rump of the I.L.P., a once potent party, are also making a claim to be Socialists. We will consider the claim. When the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) asked a practical question, the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) evaded it by saying: "I am analysing". Was he analysing? That is a very highfalutin' word to use for that general mass of phrase-mongering that had no relation whatever to the actual events of the day. It is no good for the hon. Member to analyse unless he takes account of the law of unequal development as propounded by Lenin, but perhaps the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) will tell us that Lenin did not know what he was talking about.
§ Mr. Gallacher
No—please. I have only five minutes. That speech was claimed to be made seriously. Did it represent real feeling? No. If it had it would have expressed a campaign that should already be taking place in the country for the overthrow of the Government of this country and for the institution of a Socialist form of society. That campaign is lacking. Will the speech be followed by a campaign of that character m the country? No. The speech is not a genuine speech. It is an alibi for evading responsibilities, an alibi for refusing to face up to the actual issues before us. Anybody can talk about Socialism in general. That is what Hitler does, that is what Goebbels does. But what are 960 their actions? The hon. Member for Shettleston talked about the Prime Minister not being an anti-Fascist and about what the Prime Minister had said about Germany, Italy and Spain, but the hon. Member for Shettleston was quite well received by the Nazis in Germany and by the Fascists of Italy. He quoted what the Prime Minister said about Communists in Spain. He might have been quoting from his own pamphlet.
Let us take the record of the acts of those "anti-Fascists" who are so concerned about Socialism—and I am certain that the hon. Member for Shettleston was not worrying much about Socialism when he was on the platform with the Duke of Bedford. When the Abyssinians were fighting for their very existence against the brutal fury of the Italian Fascists he and his friends were against giving aid to Abyssinia. They were not only neutral. When a country is fighting in its own defence, to be neutral is actually to be assisting the aggressor, but they were not only neutral, they were opposing by every means the giving of encouragement or assistance to the Abyssinians.
When the Spanish people's government was fighting for its existence against Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, they were against the people's government of Spain. The I.L.P. was supporting the P.O.U.M., which means: "The Workers' Party of Marxist unity." Hitler's party, the Nationalist Socialist Workers' Party, and "The Workers' Party ox Marxist unity," sound pretty similar and they were allies against the people's government of Spain. They were fighting against the people's government of Spain. They made a rising in Barcelona against the people's government, and the I.L.P.. were supporting them.
When the late Prime Minister was betraying Czechoslovakia, they sup ported him in the betrayal of Czechoslovakia. The hon. Member for Shettleston declared:I was proud to be his ally.When the Soviet Union was fighting against Mannerheim and the Finnish Fascists, from whence came the most unspeakable slanders about the Soviet Union? From those co-called anti-Fascists. I want to ask the hon. Member for Bridgeton a direct question. It is 961 all right for him to put on a pose of the "nice man," so acceptable, even to the most reactionary Tories. He wants us to believe he is concerned about the fight for Socialism. I ask him this question: In the situation which exists now, when men and women our comrades are dying by the thousand every day along that battle front in the Soviet Union, when the guerillas are not only risking their life but risking torture to defend their beloved Socialist Fatherland, will you support the campaign for aid for the Socialist Union? I ask him: Answer "Yes" or "No." You "Socialists," answer that.
Socialism in the abstract or in the dim and distant future—that can always be used by those who desire to avoid and escape responsibility or who want to use the name of Socialism in order to con fuse, disrupt and destroy the working-class movement. That is what Hitler and Goebbels used it for. In every struggle we have had during the last five years in the sacred name of Socialism, these representatives of the I.L.P. have been on the side of Fascism and against the working class, in Spain, Czechoslovakia and Finland. The big question that faces all of us and that is being discussed in every part of the country is the alliance with the Soviet Union and the most urgent and immediate aid for the Soviet Union. In every part of the country the workers in the factories understand what is meant by the attack upon the Soviet Union and by the mighty and heroic resistance that the Soviet Union arc making. That is the test for every man and woman. Years ago, in the early days of the Soviet Union, Lenin declared that the test for any man who called himself a Socialist was his attitude to the Soviet Union. That is the test for all of us. The workers of this country understand that, and they are showing by their response what their attitude is.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I do not want to follow my hon. Friend in the acrimonious tone he has adopted, and I am not going to devote much of my short time to answering him. I must, however, be quite frank with him and say that a large proportion of his statements were untrue, and I would not waste the time of the House taking them up seriatim because he knows they are un true. I know him well enough not to be deluded by his tearing of passion to 962 tatters on the Floor of the House in his efforts to explain away and defend his support of a policy, and of a Government, to which the whole of his past life has been definitely contradictory. He said that this Amendment put down by the Members representing the I.L.P. was dishonest because it would not be backed up by a campaign in the country. It so happened that I had just received through the post a copy of our official party paper, "The New Leader." The first moves are now being made in a campaign in the country for a Socialist Britain now. Regional conferences will be held in the New Year; during Christmas invitations will be sent out to all working-class and Socialist organisations. There is a five-point programme: Equality, social ownership, liberation of the Empire, Save Soviet Russia, a Socialist peace offensive. So that disposes of the principal points which the hon. Member made against us, except that he referred to occasions in this House when, on actual propositions before the House, we took up a different view from that which he takes now. My hon. Friend knows very well that so far as changes, inconsistencies and getting into contradictory positions are concerned, he has a record which I could never hope to emulate, nor would I try. I can remember a very acrimonious debate in a Labour party conference many years ago in which the right hon. Gentleman Mr. J. H. Thomas was in controversy with, I think, the present Minister of Labour. Thomas accused the present Minister of Labour of turning a somersault. His reply was this: "When I do turn a somersault, I always come down in the same place. When Comrade Thomas turns somersaults, he may come down anywhere."
That is my reply to the question about Abyssinia. Admittedly, I and my colleagues had never the faintest enthusiasm for keeping Haile Selassie on the throne of Abyssinia, or for having him back. Nothing that we know of his record leads us to believe that he is a desirable person there from the point of view of inter national Socialism. Similarly, we have the same point of view about King Zog, and a whole collection of other monarchs. The hon. Member tells me I cannot be a good Socialist unless I am prepared to go out—not to fight myself, because he 963 and I are in that happy position when all we have to do in this matter is to wish how many years younger we were—but to encourage members of the working class in the Bridgeton division of Glasgow to go out and shed their blood in return for some goods which are not specified and which, if specified, will probably never be delivered. I am not doing it.
I turn to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). He asked me what our attitude to war was. He would like us to be clear and specific. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones), the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss), and the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Cary) all objected to the vagueness and indefiniteness of our Amendment. I have been too long a Member of this House to be led away on that tack. I want to assure the hon. Members that they cannot get me to run after that particular hare. After all, I was on the Executive of the party of the hon. Gentleman at one time. I was a member of its Parliamentary Executive, although that did not then carry the distinction of sitting on that Front Bench.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I also was a member of the hon. Gentleman's party, which did not carry the distinction of sitting on the bench where he sits.
§ Mr. Maxton
That is too subtle for me. If the hon. Gentleman was a member of my party and was denied all the rights and privileges of that party, it could only have been because he was in arrears with his membership dues. I sat in the inner conclaves of his party, aye, before any members of that Executive now present, when the hon. Member was a boy in the country, and when the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) was a junior trade-union official in the West of Scot land; the highest position he held in the Labour movement was that of chairman of the Glasgow Trades Council. I was already a member of his party Executive. Do not start talking to me about indefinite Amendments in this House. Indeed, if you compare the terms of the Amendment in the matter of generalisation or precision with the King's Speech itself, I think you will find that the Amendment has a good deal the better of the very vague, indefinite phrases of the King's Speech which the hon. Member for North Aberdeen, the hon. Member for Norwich, 964 and the hon. Member for Eccles are all going to walk into the Lobby and sup port. Just a cloud of words—that is what the King's Speech is. The whole lot of it is stock phrases. We keep the forms printed, and fill in the little differences that occur from year to year. Do not try to condemn this Amendment on the ground that it is in too general terms. The hon. Member for Norwich and the hon. Member for Eccles are against it, because it aims at the establishment of a Socialist order throughout the world. So is the hon. Member for East Wolver hampton. And the hon. Member for North Aberdeen was against it. He said that this Socialist Charter was not defined. He said, "We have a Socialist Charter, properly defined." Where is it? When is it brought out?
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I spent a considerable part of my speech explaining that the Socialist Charter which offered the best hope for the peoples of Europe consisted, first, of the Atlantic Charter, and, secondly, of the proceedings of the con ference which was held at Washington last month, backed up by the resolutions of this party at its annual conference at Whitsuntide this year; and I pointed out that that constituted a national programme, whereas the constitution that the hon. Gentleman favours is not yet even in draft.
§ Mr. Maxton
That is taking an unfair advantage. The hon. Member has got up, and has not answered my question at all. He has given a summary of the speech which he made earlier in the pro ceedings to a comparatively empty House. The House has filled up since to hear the reply of the right hon. Gentleman. I ask the hon. Member, where is this Socialist Charter, with its precise points? Admittedly I know about it; but where is it? In the cupboard? That was always our problem with hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. Seldom did we differ with them on principles, but they would never apply the principles. I say that that Charter is being kept in the background to meet the wishes of the hon. Member for Norwich, who gave the hon. Member for North Aberdeen a lecture for even referring to it to-day. He said that it was breaking the understanding, that it was not quite playing the game, for Labour party front benchers to mention Socialism, because they happen to be in 965 alliance with the hon. Member for Norwich, who believes in Conservatism. But the points in that Charter, as I recollect it, are almost precisely what I would want, with one or two adjustments. The Charter that the Labour party defined and laid down is almost what would satisfy us; just as, in the old days, what they laid down for dealing with the unemployed would almost have satisfied us. But always it was the same thing: some other time was the time for doing it.
I was asked by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, what were our views on war? Then he proceeded to tell the House which was then assembled what were my views on war. I do not want him for one minute to believe that I am accepting his description of my views of war, any more than I am accepting the description by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) of my views of Socialism. I said in an interruption that neither the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) nor myself profess to be a pacifist. In my view the pacifist assumes certain ethical standards and certain almost religious standards for the guidance of the human daily life of their fellow men which I cannot honestly say I have got. My ethical standards, my general beliefs and my ways of living are just about average. They are not on any high ethical levels. I try to be half decent and to get away with that. That does me reasonably well as a standard of professional or personal conduct. But the hon. Member for Shettleston and myself have still to see the war that we would go into and believe that we were doing the right and proper thing in going into it. The hon. Member asked whether we would engage in a war against capitalism for the establishment of Socialism? The answer is "Yes," but we would have to be satisfied that that was the only way of getting our Socialism. We would have to be satisfied that there were no more humane and more reason able ways of getting our Socialism. Every time we would prefer the use of intelligence to the use of the sword. We would want to be reasonably satisfied that when we did fight we would establish our Socialism.
I cannot make any special appeal to hon. Members opposite to support this Amendment, because it is against every declared political philosophy and faith, 966 but I can make an appeal to hon. Members on this side of the House. The hon member for West Fife referred to the Communist manifesto and made some clever quibble why it was called this instead of that.
§ Mr. Maxton
It is nonsense. The hon. Member will probably remember this basic slogan of the Socialist movement, "Workers of all lands unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to win." That has been the basic principle of international Socialism from the beginnings, from the foundations. Do you tell me that that is going to be achieved by Russian workers slaughtering German workers on the battlefield? "Workers of all lands unite." Is that going to be achieved by Italians slaughtering Britishers on the Libyan desert?
§ Mr. Gallacher
I want to ask the hon. Member, in view of the fact that he is now becoming very declamatory, whether he can tell us once again not what his party is going to do at some time in January at a conference, but what he is going to do to-day, to-night and to morrow as a so-called Socialist to aid his comrades in Russia who are fighting to save this country from invasion?
§ Mr. Maxton
It is not what I shall do to-morrow or next month. It is what I am doing at the moment which is important to me. I am speaking on an Amendment to the King's Speech against the capitalist Government of this country, and I am asking the hon. Member and Labour Members for their support in a declaration of our belief in international Socialism which will not include merely Russians, Italians, Britishers, Egyptians, but Germans as well—the Germany of Karl Marx, the Germany of a huge Communist party, the Germany of a huge Social Democratic party, and the Ger many of the greatest trade unions in the world. Admittedly, all this has crashed at the moment. It has crashed because social democracy—exactly as members of the Labour party now—at the time Hitler was rising to power refused to face the position, not by using the weapons of the ruling class and big guns, but by the normal weapons of the working-class movement—agitation, propaganda and the strike weapon. They allowed this monster to go to power in Germany, and 967 now they call upon my constituents to help clear up the mess.
In 1931 in Vienna the hon. Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr) and the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) represented the Labour party when German, Austrian and Polish social democracies refused to face the real difficulties of Germany. When I attempted to put the view of the Independent Labour party I was met with exactly the same sneers as we are getting here to-day. We were told we were only a negligible minority. At this great international Socialist conference, when Hitler had not yet come to power, they had nothing to say to the working-class movement, no advice and no help to give to Germany except, per haps, to say, "You are paying too high rates of interest. You had better change your bankers." That was the guidance at that conference. Hon. Members say I must approve war and do all the things which are abhorrent to me because this crash has come. But it has come only because we allowed, and continued to allow, the capitalist system to go on with its bribery and greed. I would say to the hon. Member for Eccles that the greed and aspiration of individuals for greater wealth is not merely confined to members of the capitalist class. Members of the capitalist class are perhaps more success ful in chasing their ideals.
There must be a changed outlook in the minds of the people of the world, a change towards life and human relationship and a change as between man and his material surroundings. One hon. Member to-day finished his speech by saying it was "more blessed to give than to receive.'' That spirit must break into our international life. I think it is blessed both to give and to receive. If life were run entirely on either one or the other, it would be a lopsided life. I am sure that I have got huge pleasure from giving things. I have got a whole lot more out of receiving things; and much the greater pleasure has been in my sense of human community with the person who was giving or receiving than in the material things that changed hands. That seems to me to be the essence of the change of outlook that has to take place in the world. But the practical politician, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who I under- 968 stand will follow me, will say, "Oh, yes, I agree with nearly all that you say as long as you are in the realm of ethics, and so on, but let us get on with killing at the moment; at the moment there is nothing else to do but engage in whole sale slaughter." That is where we are at loggerheads. The majority in this House, I believe, say, ''Put everything else aside, do not bother about ethics, do not bother about new social systems, do not bother about doing anything to alter the damnable position of the mass of people in this country and in the Colonies —concentrate on fighting and killing." We cannot accept that. We say that even now, when you are fighting and killing, when you have decided bys an overwhelming majority to go on fighting and killing to some unspecified point even now when you are determined to go on doing that, do something else as well. Try to bring into this conflict the human spirit. The hon. Member for Norwich asked what grounds I have for believing that the German people will respond to any decent appeal. When he asks me that, I can reply only in a very fundamental way. My belief is based only on my ordinary knowledge of human beings wherever they are found.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
The hon. Gentleman has not quoted me quite correctly. What I asked him was why a Socialist Charter here should produce that result in Ger many when the Germans passionately believe that they have got something better?
§ Mr. Maxton
The reason I think that a Socialist Charter, and the appeal I am now making, will appeal to the people of Germany is my belief in human beings. I believe in humanity. That is about the only sound religious belief I have, the belief that human beings are, on the whole, pretty decent and tending to get more decent, and that the standards of decency run on very much the same level throughout the whole world. I may differ from many hon. Members who think always in terms of us, as a nation, being very much superior to anybody else. I cannot feel that. I do not think hon. Gentlemen have ever produced evidence to prove it. The reason German people should respond to the appeal of a Socialist Charter is that in Germany they were more convinced Socialists, more under standing Socialists, and more trained 969 Socialists, than in any other part of the globe. They were beaten, their voices were silenced, but I do not believe their voices have been silenced for ever. There would be a response from workers from all corners of the globe. I want this tremendous spirit of humanity to make its appeal throughout the globe so that gradually, speedily if possible, the sound of the guns, the dropping of the bombs, may diminish, fade away, and die, and the voice of reason become stronger and stronger until finally men sit down round the table, and say, "Let us plan a decent, common-sense world, a world of fair play, and a world in which there are none of these uncertainties, with opportunities for labour and for a decent life." That is our attitude towards the war. Impracticable it may be, but it is impracticable only because the masses of the people are not prepared at this moment to accept it.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
I think it is fitting that somebody from the Government Bench should reply to the Debate. I con fess, having listened to the last two or three speeches, that I find myself in a position of some embarrassment, because I think I am the only recent speaker who cannot claim to know something about past resolutions of the Labour party executives. Without any desire to enter into that internecine strife, there are one or two observations which, from the point of view of the Government, I should like to make about the Amendment which has been put on the Order Paper. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) is, perhaps, the most deft and attractive de bater in this House. When I listened to him, in common with many of my hon. Friends, I became pleasantly mesmerised, until I really began to wonder whether the cause he was pleading was one to which we should respond. But I think my hon. Friend himself understands that there was a fundamental unreality underlying all that argument. He told us, in answer to the challenge of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), that he and his friends were soon going to arrange a campaign in the country in support of the beliefs they held. He told us of the con ferences that would take place and the speeches which would be made, and he told us of their hatred of force, He must now know that none of those conferences, 970 and none of those speeches could possibly take place but for the action, the brilliant action, of our Royal Air Force in the summer of last year. It is, perhaps, unpleasant to face these things. My hon. Friend knows what is happening in Germany now.
The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) made rather wild accusations. He told us that this Government was formed to silence criticism, but if that is so, clearly we have been singularly un successful, because we have devoted a whole day to giving the greatest possible opportunity for the smallest party in this House to state their views, and I cannot conceive of any such facilities being-granted in the Reichstag in the course of the next few days. The hon. Member for Shettleston threw many taunts at many people, the Prime Minister, President Roosevelt and Stalin—almost the only in dividual who escaped the taunts, and I am sure it was by accident, was Herr Hitler. I want to discuss with him the aspect of his speech in which he told us that the war had come on us because of economic ills. That is over-simplified. The hon. Member himself told us what he saw in Austria and Czechoslovakia—all those vast German armies, and how they had been created at the expense of the economic life of the German people. It was the Nazi system which set up this autocracy in order to create the most powerful military machine.
We have no responsibility for that. The hon. Member warned us of the German might and of the power of the military machine, and he is right. Then, as it seemed, he and the hon. Member for Bridgeton intend to wash their hands of the struggle as something that they could not touch, but if we adopted that system there would be no Socialist Charter, there would be no charter at all, and there would be no system in Europe but a Nazi system. We could not escape it. He tells us that when all this is over, the United States will hold us in financial bondage. That is not true. Under the Lease-Lend arrangement there is no accounting. There is no debt piling up. The Prime-Minister himself called it the most unsordid act in history.
Then the hon. Member drew a parallel between our rule in India, where he said people were condemned to slavery, and 971 German rule in Europe. I cannot think he himself believed that that is a true parallel. In India there are several hundreds of millions of people and a handful of white officials. There are States where a white man is scarcely seen. Ninety per cent. of the matters affecting the people of India are dealt with now in the provincial bodies, where Indians can and do exercise authority. He was fully entitled to make his criticisms of the Government of India and the way in which our rule there is administered. But I wonder why he did not put anything on the other side of the balance sheet. Why did he not tell us, for instance, that there are 80,000,000 living in Indian States which have been Indian States for a long period? There is no great movement of population from British India into these States. Why not? Because one of the fundamental problems of India is that there are many Indians who do not wish to be ruled by certain other Indians. These are all problems which must be faced if one is to give a fair statement of the case. Why did he not tell us, too, of the number of Indian divisions, all volunteers, who have been fighting with such magnificent gallantry? If his parallel were true, Hitler would be forming Polish, Czech, Norwegian and Dutch divisions. Where are they? He cannot raise a single platoon amongst them, and he never will, because his rule is really a tyranny, and it is an extravagant absurdity to draw a parallel between it and our administration of India.
The hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) told us that the peoples of Europe do not revolt because they have no faith in His Majesty's Government and the British people, but that if there was a Socialist Charter they would all rise. He is wrong. The reason why they do not rise is not because they have not a charter from us and, if they did rise, believe me it would not be in response to the hon. Member's charter, however perfectly worded. They would rise to regain their freedom and their right to live their lives in their own way. The hon. Member knows what is going on under the surface in Europe. A few weeks ago there was a strike in Norway. Two trade union leaders were at once shot and a great many others imprisoned with hard labour. That is why these people do not rise. For the moment they cannot rise against this 972 great tyranny, but wherever they can they do. In Yugoslavia now there are tens of thousands of people fighting. Again, recently six Norwegians were shot for trying to leave their country to come here and fight with us for the freedom of their own country. A Norwegian teacher was shot last week for listening to broad casts from this country.
The hon. Member drew a parallel between our administration in India and this rule in Europe. Let me give the House a few figures. They are not my figures. They are German official figures of what German rule means in Europe at this moment. In Czechoslovakia from 27th September, the day of the notorious Heydrich's appointment, to 29th October, just a month, the German official figures show 332 executions and 1,308 persons handed over to an even worse fate, the Gestapo. In Yugoslavia since the occupation there have been 1,132 executions, and in France since 13th August 250 executions. An order issued by the Ger man Commander at Zagreb on 23rd June reports that 100 Serbs were executed for the assassination of two German soldiers. So the list continues. These are German figures, not ours, and the House will not be far wrong if it were to estimate the killings in Yugoslavia alone, since German occupation, as 35,000. This is the real test of German rule in Europe. It is not a matter which can be philosophically discussed. There is an unreality in any pretence to do so.
Supposing we had not succeeded last year and Hitler had come here, the first thing he would have done would have been to destroy the liberties we enjoy, liberties which many in this House would like to see extended. Wherever he has imposed his sway no Parliamentary institutions, no free Press and no trade union movement are allowed. All that is com pletely and utterly suppressed. Let me recall to the House what happened in Germany when the Nazi rule began. This is just an illustration of Nazi methods. In May, 1933, a speech was made by Dr. Ley, who is familiar as the leader of the German Labour Front. At that time the Nazis were not very certain of their position, and he said this:We have never destroyed anything which had any kind of value for our nation, nor shall we in the future. This is a fundamental principle of National Socialism. It holds good particularly of trade unions, which have been 973 built up out of the pennies which the workers have earned with such bitter toil and starved themselves to give. No, workers, your institutions are sacred and inviolable to us National Socialists.That was Dr. Ley in May. In the same month the headquarters of the trade unions throughout Germany were seized, their leaders were arrested, and their funds were confiscated. Within the following week the Social Democratic Party, representing over 7,000,000 workers, was suppressed and its funds confiscated. These are the methods of these people and we delude ourselves if we think they would act differently here. On the contrary, whatever they have been in Germany, they would be infinitely more stern here.
I turn for a moment to a luncheon party. Yesterday in Berlin there was a luncheon party of the Axis and the Quislings presided over by the German Foreign Secretary, and I wish to refer to a speech which he made there. Somewhere in "Mein Kampf " there is this piece of advice, that if you are going to tell a lie let it be a really big one, because you have a better chance of getting away with it. No doubt Ribbentrop has learned well from his master. He referred to the Secret Sessions of this House. There, Sir, I am afraid I must leave Herr Ribbentrop to you. But he also made a statement. He told us that in 1940 we had received assurances that Soviet Russia would come into the war on the side of Britain. We never, of course, received any such assurances at all. He went on to say that the aim of the Anglo-Russian plans was to attack German troops in the Balkans from as many sides as possible. I deeply regret to have to say it, but there were never any such plans. Had there been, it would be obvious to anyone that the whole strategy of the Balkan campaign would have been very different, and let me add, its outcome would have been very different also.
On the contrary, we were handicapped continuously by the fact that Russia held scrupulously to her obligations under the German-Soviet pact. At no time until the German troops had actually crossed the Russian frontier were there any political or military conversations between us and the Soviet Government. I wish there could have been. It is quite true that we informed the Soviet Government of the information we had of Germany's 974 intentions; we did so several times; but there the matter ended, and there has never been an aggression more completely unprovoked than that of Germany against Russia. But I speak of this party in Berlin not merely to deny the truth of Ribbentrop's observations but because I want to refer to what I believe is probably the underlying purpose of this party, which clearly was not merely in order to receive Ribbentrop's untruthful confidences. It was, I believe, in order to seek to prepare for a peace offensive. By that I do not mean an offer by Hitler. The Prime Minister in his Mansion House speech dealt so faithfully with any manœuvre of that kind that I do not think we could expect an offer.
The plan is different. Hitler finds himself confronted by continued, vigorous and effective Russian resistance. His plans, which were laid on the early de feat of Russia, are, to that extent, awry, and because of that he has need for a respite, and he is trying to persuade the nations of Europe that the only way in which they can get peace is by coming into his new order, and that he counts if that should prove successful, on being able to bring the British, the Russians and the Americans to terms. He is wrong, because he will not. Whatever other countries do under the new order will not affect our policy one jot. As for the occupied countries, we need have no anxiety about that. They know very well what Hitler's new order means. As for the few remaining neutral countries, I would remind them that this new order is based on the principle of the Herrenvolk. Already plans have been prepared for moving large populations from one part of Europe to another. The whole of industrial activity will be reserved for the exclusive profit of the Reich. Those who are not members of the Master race will not be able to secure any personal or economic existence. Reich Minister Franck, who was on this occasion true to his name, has said:It is necessary to think in terms not only of a national State but of world Empire. The position of the Poles or of the negroes in the colonies must be considered, under criminal law, from the point of view of the supremacy of the German people.That is the doctrine which this new order will seek to establish all over Europe. President Roosevelt has well said that Berlin is the great slave-market of the 975 world. I hope that the people of the neutral countries will not be deluded into listening to this doctrine. Whatever the result, the effect on our policy will be nil.
Before I conclude I want to say one word about what I conceive to be underlying all this German activity. This is where I am afraid I must join issue with the promoters of the Amendment. Whether it be the "blood and iron" policy of Bismarck, the policy of Kaiser Wilhelm or the latest expression of German policy as represented by Hitler, the whole German genius and the greater part of the German mind has, unfortunately, been devoted to this end, the creation of a military machine whose force will impose German will on other nations. Even the best things they have done, such as the "Strength through Joy" movement, which had certain aspects very attractive to our own people, were adapted to lending more power to the military machine. I read the other day a report from one of our marines who had been through the German lines and had escaped. He spoke in glowing terms of the physical health of the men and of their amazing fitness, all created to build up and lend power to a military machine.
Those are the horrible doctrines which have led to events of this character over
|Division No. 1.]||AYES.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Maxton, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Stephen and Mr. McGovern.|
|Acland Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Clarry, Sir Reginald|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Boulton, W. W.||Cluse, W. S.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Cobb, Captain E. C.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Boyce, H. Leslie||Colegate, W. A|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Brass, Capt. Sir W.||Colville, Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Conant, Capt. R J E.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Brooks, H.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ.)||Browne, Capt. A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Capt. W. J.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Cox, Captain H. B. Trevor|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Burghley, Lord||Craven-Ellis, W.|
|Assheton, R.||Burke, W. A.||Critchley, A.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Burton, Col. H. W.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F.|
|Atttlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Butcher, Lieut. H. W.||Crowder, J. F. E.|
|Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. H.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Culverwell, C. T.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley.||Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Carver, Colonel W. H.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Cary, R. A.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'ts'h)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Davison, Sir W. H.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Channon, H.||De la Bère, R.|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Chater, D.||Denville, Alfred|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Choriton, A. E. L.||Digby, Capt. K S. D. W.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Christie, J. A.||Dobbie, W.|
§ the last 150 years and which have found their final expression in Nazi tyranny. They are a glorification and worship of the State as the one thing to which man must do homage. They are the enslavement of the individual. The issue for this House and this country is as clear now as it was on the first day of the war. None of us need have any anxiety; if we go to the ballot box to cast our votes, or if we make critical remarks about the Government, we need not look over our shoulders for fear of seeing a Gestapo agent. It is in such small things that the liberties which we cherish are enshrined. By all means, let us have our beliefs, be they in a Socialist Charter or in some other form of order for the postwar world; but let us not forget that none of these dreams can be realised unless Hitler be defeated. Not long ago I asked an Australian why he had come to fight in this country. He replied that it seemed to him there was a job of work to be done. There certainly is a job of work to be done and I hope that this House will encourage His Majesty's Government to get on with the job by rejecting the Amendment and voting in favour of the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 2; Noes, 326.
|Dodd, J. S.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A. (M'ham)|
|Doland, G. F.||Kimball, Major L.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Rowlands, G.|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Royds, Admiral Sir P M R|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Russell, sir A. (Tynemouth)|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Lathan, G.||Salt, E. W.|
|Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)||Law, R. K.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Ede, J. C.||Leigh, Sir J.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Savory, Professor D. L.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Leslie, J. R.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Lewis, O.||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Liddall, W. S.||Selley, H. R.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lindsay, K. M.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Little, Sir E. Graham- (London Univ.)||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Errington, Squadron-Leader E.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Etherton, Flight-Lieut. Ralph||Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)||Shinwell, E.|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Silkin, L.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.|
|Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Lyons, Major A. M.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Fleming, Squadron-Leader E. L.||Mabane, W.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Fletcher, Comdr. R. T. H.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|foot, D, M.||McCallum, Major D.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||McCorquodale, Flight-Lt. Malcolm||S. Smith T (Normanton)|
|Fraser, Capt. Sir Ian||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Smithers Sir W.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Snadden W. McN|
|Gammans, L. D.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Mckie, J. H.||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gates, Major E. E.||McNeil, H.||spearman, A. C. M.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P' broke)||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Spens, W. P.|
|Gibson, Sir C, G.||Magney, T.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Gluckstein, Captain L. H.||Maitland, Sir A.||Storey, S.|
|Glyn, Sir C. G.||Makins, Brig.-Gen, Sir E.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Goldie, N. B.||Mander, G. le. M.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-(Northwich)|
|Gower, Sir. R. V.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Marshall, F.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Granville, E. L.||Martin, J. H.||Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Mathers, G.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Green, W. P. C.(Worcester)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Taylor, Capt. C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Grenfell, D.R.||Mills, Colonel J. D. (new Forest)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Montague, F.||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. (Rochdale)||Thorne, W.|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Thurtle, E.|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Tinker, E.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Universities)||Tomlinson, G.|
|Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Morrison, RI. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Train, sir J.|
|Hambro, A. V.||Munro, p.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Naylor, T. E.||Tufnell, Lieut. Comdr. R. L.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)||Wakefield, W.W.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Haslam, Henry||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Headlam, Lt.-col. Sir P. A..||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Ward Irene, M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Paling, W.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Herbert, Petty Officer A. P. (Oxford U.)||Patrick, Capt. C. M.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Hewlett, T. H.||Peake, O.||Watt, Lieut-Col. G. S. Harvie|
|Hicks, E. G.||Peat, C. U.||Wayaland, Sir W. A.|
|Higgs, W. F.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Webbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Hill, Prof. A. V.||Peter, Dr. S. J.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Holdsworth, H.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Horabin, T. L.||Pickthorne, K. W. M.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Pilkington, Captain R. A.||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Weston, W. Garfield|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (H'ckn'y, N.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Hutches, R. M.||Price, M. P.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Hulbert', Squadron-Leader N. J.||Procter, Major H. A..||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Profumo, Captain J. D.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hunter, T.||Radford, E. A.||Willink, H. U.|
|Hurd, Sir P.A.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G.I.C. (E'burgh)||Ramsden, Sir E.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Rankin, Sir R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir K. (W'Iwich,W.)|
|James, Wing-Comdr. A. W. H.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Woodburn, A.|
|Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Jennings, R.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)||Young, A. S. L. (Patrick)|
|Jewson, P. W.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. (Stl'g &C'km'n)||Rickards, G. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)||Ridley, G.||Mr. James Stuart And Sir Charles|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Roberts, W.||Edwards.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth: —
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.