§ EXPENDITURE ARISING OUT OF THE WAR
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,000,000,000, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the expenses which may be incurred during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1945, for general Navy, Army and Air services and supplies in so far as specific provision is not made therefor by Parliament; for securing the public safety, the defence of the realm, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of the war; for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community; for relief and rehabilitation in areas brought under the control of any of the United Nations; and generally for all expenses, beyond those provided for in the ordinary Grants of Parliament, arising out of the existence of a state of war.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Commander King-Hall (Ormskirk)
I desire to take this opportunity briefly to raise a matter on the Report stage of this Supplementary Vote of Credit. I realise, Sir, that I shall have to navigate along a rather narrow channel as regards keeping in Order, but I believe, and hope, that I shall be able to convince you that the matter I wish to raise is in Order. In the statement of services provided for in the Votes, on page 4, will be found a statement, classified under Group II, which includes the expenditure of the Stationery Office in connection with special war-time demands of the Defence Departments and of the new war Departments. If you will turn to page 79, of the same Command Paper, you will find there that £13,400,000 is set aside to the Stationery Office for this special war-time expenditure. Some of that money will undoubtedly be found out of the Vote 492 which we are discussing. It may be within your recollection, Mr. Speaker, that on 1st March this year I was fortunate enough to persuade His Majesty's Government to make a free issue of a limited number of copies of HANSARD to the Fighting Forces, as a special war-time concession. Those free issues are undoubtedly paid for out of this Vote. They will be paid for during the year ending 31st March, 1945, and they are certainly an expense arising out of the existence of a state of war. Sir, I hope that these three facts will satisfy you that I am in Order in making a brief reference to this subject.
I am very grateful to the Treasury for what they have done for the Fighting Services, and I have plenty of evidence that the Services are grateful for what has been done. But it is not enough, and I am detaining the House for a few minutes to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that they really must go a little further in this direction. The Association of the Friends of Hansard, which is shortly going to be put in a more permanent form, under the name of the Hansard Society, and which is interested in getting news about the proceedings of this House to the public, has had a great deal of correspondence from Service units, asking for HANSARD. We are very glad to get such letters, and as we are constitutionally minded we always write back telling them that they should make an application through the usual Service channels, as there are a limited number of copies—500—available to the three Services for free distribution. I am not going to burden the House with a lot of evidence, but I will give one example of what happens to a Service unit which is trying to get hold of free copies. After an officer had applied and we had told him that he had better apply through his usual Service channels, he said:We are very isolated … and our men find copies of The Times,' Manchester Guardian,' and one other daily paper in their information room each day, but, as we have here a big crowd of members of the Intelligence Corps—all keen young men, who are the fellows upon whom will fall the responsibility of helping to rebuild civilisation after this war, if they return—it seems to me that a copy of HANSARD would be a most important and valuable addition to their reading matter.He is quite unable to get a copy, for the simple reason that his is only one unit in a very large command, and that there are 493 only eight copies allotted to that command. He says again:It looks as if we are not going to get one.He goes on:We have always here about 100 members of the Intelligence Corps—many of whom are professional men, including clergy, barristers, civil servants, schoolmasters, and a good many university students. To such men as these, HANSARD would be invaluable, and, as we are a static unit, copies would be filed in the unit library, where they can be seen at any time,I realise that some Members may think this a small point, but I submit that this is a serious state of affairs. It is most important that the men in the Fighting Services should be acquainted, as part of the efficient prosecution of the war, with the proceedings of this House. Debates have recently been held—and no doubt such Debates will be held again—on peace aims, war aims, the registration of Service voters, and many matters affecting the post-war world, for which these men are making such sacrifices. I will not repeat to this House what I have proved before, and will easily prove again if challenged, that what the late Lord Balfour said in 1908 is even more true today than it was when he said it. He said that there was no place in the world where difficult questions were better thrashed out than on the Floor of the House, but that one could not get the full sense of what happened from the Press. There is only one place where the Service man—or, for that matter, anyone else—can find out adequately what is proceeding in Parliament; and that is in HANSARD. Therefore, I am profoundly dissatisfied with the meagre expenditure on this aspect of the prosecution of the war. It amounts to about £1,000, or less than 1/10,000th of one per cent. of the total expenditure which we are discussing today. I think more should be spent on such an important matter, which is essential to the efficient prosecution of the war.
There is one further point which I wish briefly to put. On page 79 of this same Command Paper, it will be observed that, amongst the special war expenditure of the Stationery Office, towards which we are being asked to vote this money, there is a sum of £30,000 on Press advertisements. I will not embarrass my hon. Friend, who may be going to reply on 494 behalf of the Government to what I have said, by asking how the money is spent, but I will tell him how some of it is not being spent, and how some of it ought to be spent. None of it is being spent on telling the public something which it is absolutely essential to the efficient prosecution of the war that they should know—that is that they have the right to buy the full story of our proceedings.
I take it that nobody in any part of this House will venture to get up and tell me that there is no connection between "securing the public safety, the defence of the Realm, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of the war," which are the purposes of the Supplementary Estimate to-day, on the one hand, and the knowledge by the public of the proceedings of Parliament, on the other hand. The public simply do not know this fact. I do not want to detain the House or I could give most extraordinary and almost unbelievable evidence of the class of persons, business men and so forth, who do not know that they can buy a copy of the proceedings of this House. I want the public to know—and I am sure the House will support me in this—that if they read in the Press or hear on the B.C.C. that a certain subject has been discussed in this House, they can get a proper and full account of the proceedings from the Stationery Office or through any bookseller. The fact should be made known to the public and I submit that a few thousand pounds of this £30,000 of Press advertising money should be spent on telling the public that, in a people's war, the people can, and indeed should, purchase from time to time the only full and authentic account which exists of the proceedings of the people's Parliament.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Anderson)
Perhaps I may be allowed to say a word on this subject on the point which my hon. and gallant Friend has just raised. I am well aware of the great interest that my hon. and gallant Friend has taken for a considerable time in this subject. But I have to confess that since he sent an intimation to my office last evening, to the effect that he desired to seek an opportunity of raising the matter on this occasion, I have not had an adequate opportunity of informing myself, and I hope that neither 495 he nor the House will think it discourteous of me, if I do not say any more than that I will see that the matter to which he has drawn attention will be looked into.
§ Captain Cunningham - Reid (St. Marylebone)
I wanted to say a word which concerns the Minister of Health and he has just told me he will be coming back shortly so I will postpone a question that concerns him until he returns. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Parliamentary Secretary is here."] I am sorry I had not noticed him. In that case I need not postpone my remarks until the Minister returns. I want to say a few words about the billeting of evacuated children. Why do not the Government introduce some equity into the present boarding-house position? The keeping of a boardinghouse is a trade just like any other little business, and how can you expect boarding-house keepers to remain solvent, when they are compelled to fill their rooms with evacuated children at 3s. per head per week? To some extent you cannot blame them for trying to compensate by charging unofficial adult evacuees exorbitant prices. I feel that the time has come when the Government should consider paying fair billeting allowances especially to people whose business it is to take in visitors.
There is another point I desire to raise. Apparently there is shortly to be an announcement—possibly next week—by the Home Secretary about simplifying official and localised flying bomb signals. As regards local signals, the present position is, of course, bewildering and chaotic, and undoubtedly the Home Secretary has that in mind. It is most confusing to go round some of our big stores in London, because they all have different signals, what with sirens, bells, whistles, klaxons, red buckets, cones, balls, big flags, little flags, flags at half mast, flags at full mast, to say nothing of flying socks. Unnecessary confusion and anxiety are naturally caused by this, what I might call, bizarre symphony. As for the official warning, the other day a bomb dropped near a distinguished Member of this House but he did not hear it coming and was not able to take shelter because the alert went on too long.
The best system of signalling would be, if every time a flying bomb or group of 496 them had got through our defences and were making for a certain area, the sirens in that area would give three short blasts, and it had been previously announced to the public that all would be clear, say, after three, or possibly four, minutes' interval, and that "all clear" signals would be done away with altogether. Factories, shops and such like could indicate that the three minutes were up and danger was past by a blast on their own pet instrument. Such a system, official and otherwise, would not only simplify and unify the present localised signal system, but this proposed new official siren signal would be advantageous to morale, and enable more and better work to be carried out in the factories, shops and offices in the danger area. In other words, if, three minutes after hearing a siren, you had not been knocked out, you could go about your business happily instead of as often occurs now, wasting literally hours, night and day, wondering whether the noise that you hear is a flying bomb, or one of our aeroplanes, or just a motor bike, or, alternatively, being rather anxious because there is too much noise around to hear sky noises. I have discussed this proposal with important Civil Defence authorities, most of whom think that such a plan would be considerably more satisfactory, and I am putting that forward at this stage before the Home Secretary comes to a final decision and I think it is right and proper that one should, hoping that the Home Secretary will take such a suggestion into his consideration as coming from a representative of a London constituency.
Many, of course, are wondering why we have not constructed a flying bomb of our own. We ought to have known long ago that we were up against an enemy who would stop at nothing and that we would have to be prepared to retaliate. We were evidently prepared to do this with gas; so why not then, with indiscriminate robot bombing? This weapon would have been invaluable to us and our Allies, especially as we got nearer to the frontiers of Germany, and would have meant possibly the saving of hundreds and hundreds of heart-rending casualties to our airmen, for the ground defences round Berlin and other large German towns are formidable, and will be more so, as we close in and their anti-aircraft defences become concentrated. Early in this war, 497 the man who invented tanks, Major W. G. Wilson, invented a jet-propelled flying bomb simpler than the German model that we know of, but nevertheless with a bombing accuracy hitherto unheard of. The Government put every obstacle in the way of developing this British robot invention with the result that we have been caught napping.
I only want to say this last word. The Prime Minister recently told us that he had known about the present flying bombs for the last six months. [Interruption.] Six months from the time when he made that announcement. After hearing this little John Citizens meekly asked "Why then were the deep shelters not ready?" It was a month after the arrival of the flying bomb before the last of the deep shelters was opened. The man in the street also wants to know why was not the evacuation of children advised or started if it was known six months ago that this menace was likely to occur, and why, during the last six months, have thousands of civil servants been brought back to London? I do not think that I have raised any matter that affects security, but they are matters that are of considerable interest to a great number of the public, and I do feel that the Government will make a very grave mistake if they are to ignore—as I anticipate they will do—the questions I have put other than the questions to the Minister of Health. I think they will be ill advised to ignore such questions, because the fact that we do not have any open Debate in this House is making the public rather apprehensive. They feel that there is nothing that can be said but what would frighten them, and they are made all the more anxious by the fact that they know we are having secret meetings of M.Ps. upstairs, where, in all probability, they will anticipate that we are about to hear far gloomier things than are ever likely to be conveyed to us.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
The hon. and gallant Member for St. Marylebone (Captain Cunningham-Reid) will forgive me if I do not refer to the subject he has raised, except to say that I hope that the Government will take the earliest opportunity to give the maximum information on our progress against the flying bomb to our people, of course within the limits of national security. I do not think there is the slightest doubt 498 about the fortitude and endurance of our people in dealing with this menace, and I hope the Government will bear in mind the good advice given by Lord North-cliffe many years ago, when he said, "If you tell the British public as many of the facts as you can, they will back you through anything." Therefore, I hope that the Government will not get into a "phobia" of semi-secrecy about this, which would be exaggerated many times over outside of this House. Because if this impression was created the ripples in the pond would reach higher watermarks than one would be able to reach by replies to questions in Parliament. Move-over selective statements by Ministers are not as effective as reports to Parliament. Therefore give Parliament the maximum information possible.
I desire, however, briefly to refer to another question. On the Committee stage of this Supplementary Vote of Credit for £1,000,000,000 several hon. Members, during an interesting Debate, to which I do not intend to return, except for a minute or so, put points to, and asked questions of, the Government, and hoped that they would get a reply. I did not get a reply to a question I raised, because the Government then stated that they would require longer notice. I hope they have now had good notice, and that they will be able to give me an answer. In the Vote of Credit there are the words:… for relief and rehabilitation in areas brought under the control of any of the United Nations…I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if lie could make a statement about negotiations with the U.S.A. with regard to the franc, and he was good enough to say that discussions were proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman gave us as much information as he was able to give then, but I hope the Government will make a further statement as soon as possible as to how far we have commitments, because I have no doubt that the currency has been already issued and is in circulation in Normandy. I also asked the Government—and I am glad to see the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs here, because he may be able to answer me—specifically, whether any part of this £1,000,000,000 had been earmarked for housing, feeding and rehabilitating the heavily devastated areas of France. Reports show that such towns as Caen, and villages, have suffered. They are in rubble 499 and ruin as a result of our own and the enemy's bombardments, and it is not good enough for the Government merely to ask for such astronomical sums of money as this for relief and rehabilitation of areas brought under the control of any of the Allied Nations without giving more information.
Have the Government any practical emergency plan which they intend to put into effect, in regard to the towns and villages which we are now mercifully liberating from the enemy? Apart from U.N.R.R.A. activities, are there any plans to deal with the evacuation of French civilians, either to this country or to some shelter from the battle area, particularly during the tremendous bombing operations which have been going on during the previous 48 hours? We have heard a suggestion that they might be brought to this country. We have seen all kinds of pictures in newspapers of a German woman spy whose name, I think, was "Emmy," who was landed here amidst great publicity, but we have never been told whether these unfortunate French civilians and genuine evacuees from the fighting area are being brought here. They have suffered terribly from bombing operations. It is no good pretending that they have not. As I pointed out before, they have not the same A.R.P. services in France as we have here, and I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to tell us something about this matter which will be reassuring.
I also expected that by now the right hon. Gentleman's Department would have made some reference to the terrible act of butchery that went on at Oradour-sur-Glane. All we have had are newspaper reports, and it may be difficult for the Government to get the facts, but the story has been circulated and broadcast that 800 French men, women and children were foully murdered by the German S.S. When our Armies go forward in France, when our blockade moves forward, it may be that there will be many other Oradour-sur-Glanes, and that most terrible suffering will take place. It may be found that the Germans will carry out a "scorched earth" policy of the most diabolical and ruthless kind. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us what steps they propose to take to bring home the responsibility to the German people for this.
500 Will the right hon. Gentleman also answer a question raised during the Committee stage by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who asked whether the Maquis are now receiving adequate arms? Can he give an assurance that arms are getting through to the resistance movements in Europe? Secondly, can he tell us if any of this money which we are now voting on the Report stage is to be used for the purpose of a practical plan to assist the devastated areas of France? Finally, I hope that, in the course of the day, the Foreign Secretary will be able to give us any official information he has been able to collect with regard to the reported assassination of Hitler and whether we are taking full advantage of this position in Germany.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Horsbrugh)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Captain Cunningham-Reid) referred to the level of billeting allowances. He also reminded us of the difficulties of those who keep boarding houses, and suggested that the billeting allowance should be increased. I did not quite understand whether he meant an increase in cases where billettees are taken into boarding houses, or whether he meant an increase for everybody.
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
I meant billeting in houses where the taking in of visitors is a business.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
The hon. and gallant Gentleman now puts the proposition to me that where the taking in of visitors is an occupation, the billeting allowance should be greater than in other areas. I think if he were to put that to his colleagues he would find that there was not much agreement. We all realise the difficulty of this problem. We realise the difficulty of the housewife in taking billettees whether on the basis of the lodging allowance for a mother and children, or the full board and lodging allowance for children. I think it would be extraordinarily difficult—and I would not agree that it would be desirable—to say to Mrs. X in one village in the country "Your billeting payment will be so much" and to Mrs. Y in another area, which has been accustomed to take people in far profit, that her billeting allow- 501 ance would be raised so that she would have a larger billeting allowance than the ordinary housewife. The housewife may be under a very great strain, because she may have a small house and may be accustomed to looking after only her own family, so that it Would not be fair to ask her to take people in for a smaller sum than was paid to those who have larger houses and have been carrying on the business of letting rooms.
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
May I take the argument of the hon. Lady to its logical conclusion? Why billet these children at 3s. a week on boarding-house keepers, and exclude the luxury hotels? Why not billet these children on luxury hotels?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not very clear that the lodging allowance of 5s. for an adult and 3s. for a child does not include food?
§ Miss. Horsbrugh
I quite understand that if people are lodged they take up space, and a bigger person takes up more space than a smaller person. The fact remains, however, that the allowance is for lodging only, and if the hon. and gallant Gentleman had looked at the billeting form he would have seen exactly what has to be given in return for the allowance. The suggestion which the hon. and gallant Gentleman is putting now, as I see it, is that these people should not be billeted on boarding houses or hotels but, of the two, he would prefer the luxury hotel.
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
No, I say, if we do it with one, do it with the other. Let us have equity.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will allow me to continue, I hope to show that there is equity —as far as we can get equity in this very difficult matter. I would like to remind the House that arrangements have been made for a very large number of people to be evacuated into areas in which they have not been living. Arrangements have been made, too, for those who have gone out by themselves or on official travel warrants. A very big job has been done at great speed, and I would like to take this opportunity 502 of saying that I think the London County Council machine has done a splendid job in this connection, and may well be proud. The staff has worked nobly to take people as quickly as possible from areas considered dangerous to areas where, at any rate at the present moment, there is not so much danger. It is a big job and a difficult job—I think I know something about the evacuation problem now because I have been at it for nearly five years. I have always thought that the main thing is to get the people out of the dangerous areas as quickly as we can do it in an orderly fashion. For that reason we arrange in many cases for the people arriving in the reception areas to go first to rest centres. When a mother, for instance, goes with six or seven children you have to find at the other end the best way to billet her. There may be one family which can take two children, another house may take four and it is a real problem to fit families with children into the right place. I gather from the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he thinks boarding houses ought to be excluded unless a larger billeting allowance is paid.
§ Captain Cunningham - Reid
If the lodging business cannot be excluded there should be an all-round increase in the billeting allowance.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
In that case we come to a different proposition altogether: the hon. and gallant Gentleman is now asking for an increase in the billeting allowance for everybody.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will allow me to continue. He has put his point and I think it would be as well if I put my points His point now is that the billeting allowance should be increased and I presume he means both the billeting allowance for lodging and the billeting allowance for the unaccompanied child. That proposition has been put up several times in this House and I would remind the hon. arid gallant Gentleman that the billeting allowance for children has been increased several times. It runs now from 10s. 6d. a week up to 17s. 6d. The allowance for lodging alone has not been increased. The reason for increasing the allowance for 503 unaccompanied children, which of course includes the provision of food, was because figures for the cost of living went up, and it was thought that those who provide food should have some extra payment. We cannot argue on the same basis that the cost of lodging has increased. I quite see that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is now suggesting not that there should be a different allowance in the case of the boarding house and hotel on the one hand and private homes on the other, but that all should have increases. I have, however, given him the reason why we have increased one type of allowance and not the other.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the fact that we had information of the existence of the flying bomb for six months or more and asked, "Why wait until now to evacuate the children?" Knowing something of this problem, may I say, with due humility, that if we had evacuated the children when flying bombs were not falling six months ago, we should have had them all back long before the flying bomb came?
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
Will the hon. Lady agree anyhow that when the flying bomb arrived, the arrangements for the evacuation of children were in their infancy?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
No, they were more than six months old. I do not quite know what "infancy" covers, but I do know that when we are talking of infancy, "neo-natal" means less than one month old. I can assure him, and I have already said elsewhere, that the complete scheme of evacuation was prepared last September. The train time-tables were arranged, complete schedules for evacuation, from London at any rate, last September—the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred only to six months ago. Those time-tables had long been in existence when the War Cabinet decision for evacuation was made, and we had merely to say to the London County Council and to those who had the arrangements in hand, "Evacuation is to start." There had to be no argument then as to time-tables, no argument about assembly points, no argument about where trains were to go. The whole thing was laid on last September. Since then, naturally, changes have had to be made. Increases have had to be made because, 504 whatever our knowledge was, we could not be quite certain six months ago what was going to happen. Our plans had to be sufficiently elastic for additions to be made when we saw what were the dangers. Complete arrangements were ready, both at this end with regard to trains and registration and assembly points, and at the reception end where a large number of children—over 10,000 a day—were going. That was all laid on last September, and in this difficult time we had merely to say "Go ahead." The order was given and the machine worked.
The other thing the hon. and gallant Gentleman asked was, Why did we, during this six months, bring civil servants back to London? That does not come completely under my Department, but I would say that if the civil servants had been occupying some of the places they were occupying in the provinces, there would have been less room for the mothers and children, and I have always thought that mothers and children must have the first chance. I am very glad that many places were given up and that we had that room for our evacuees.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the subject of warnings. He has already heard that the Home Secretary is to make a statement, and I would assure him that this matter has been under very close consideration by the Home Secretary and by the Civil Defence Committee. I listened to the various suggestions he made. I know my right hon. Friend will consider those suggestions, but I can assure him—without wishing to give offence—that every single suggestion made by my hon. and gallant Friend has been on our agenda already and under discussion at these meetings. It is a very complex problem——
§ Miss Horsbrugh
I was interested to hear that the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman were those which we have received and discussed, and I can assure him that when the Home Secretary comes to make his statement, views such as his, and those which we have had from many experts, will be taken into account. It is after consideration of those suggestions that the final decision will be made. 505 The hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) raised other points which do not concern my Department. He said that the Government ought to give maximum information to the House. I think my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already done so. The Government are only too willing to tell the British people the facts but what we are not willing to risk doing is to tell the Germans the facts.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
I know the hon. Gentleman agrees with what I have said. He does not want anything said in the House or publicly that would give information to the enemy, and it is on that basis that the Government are giving all the information they can.
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
I would like to thank the hon. Lady for the very interesting facts on evacuation and other matters that she has given to the House to-day. The public will be most interested and grateful. I think it is a great pity that these facts were not given before.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Hall)
My hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) has raised two or three matters, which he said, rightly, were raised in the Debate on Tuesday last and which, unfortunately, owing to lack of time my right hon. Friend could not deal with then. The first matter he raised was the question of the operation of U.N.R.R.A. He will realise, and the House will realise, that U.N.R.R.A. is an international organisation made up of the United Nations and is, if I may say so, a very valuable organisation which is expected to do a very considerable amount of good work in the liberated countries. I am not sure whether this Vote actually covers U.N.R.R.A., seeing that a Vote on the British contribution amounting to some £80,000,000 was passed through the House about six months ago, when a very full Debate on the functions of U.N.R.R.A. took place.
My hon. Friend will know that there are two stages which have to be passed through in the liberated countries. The first stage is where the military are in control, and in France at the present time, 506 from the point of view of the responsibility for the civil population, the military are in control. It is true that certain civil functions have been handed over to representatives of the Free French Committee but, as far as the relief and rehabilitation of the people in liberated France are concerned, at the present time, that matter is still under the control of the military authorities. U.N.R.R.A. is building up its organisation and getting ready to carry out the useful functions which have been given to it, and I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that by the time U.N.R.R.A. is called in, that organisation will be ready to relieve and rehabilitate many of the unfortunate people who have to suffer as the result of the process of liberation.
The evacuation of civilians is also under military control. I understand —I would not like to be categorical about it—that a number of French civilians have already been brought to this country. I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that everything possible is being done to relieve the suffering and the distress of these unfortunate people. My hon. Friend also referred to the butchery of the French inhabitants of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It is just another instance of this kind of atrocity. It is not the first village where the total population has been butchered. We have had some information concerning the matter, and I am afraid that it very largely confirms that given to this country and to the world through the Press. All I can say is that, not only has note been taken of this which is but another of these crimes of which we hope that the United Nations War Crime Commission has taken note, but that those who are responsible for these diabolical crimes and atrocities will be brought to justice.
The last point which my hon. Friend raised was the question of arming the Maquis. I do not think that my hon. Friend and, indeed, the country realise the call which has been made upon the supply services of this country. It is again, of course, more a military matter than a Foreign Office matter. Is it realised that there is not a country fighting on the side of the Allies which has not looked to this country for some military, naval, and air assistance to enable them to carry on their campaigns? Not a single country. In every case, the appeals for assistance have been met, though not to 507 the full extent, and not as much as we would like to give them. I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that not only the Maquis but the other resistance movements in Europe are being given all the assistance which we can possibly give them. It is not only the Maquis. The resistance movement in Yugoslavia looks to this country for assistance; the resistance movement in Greece, the resistance movement in Italy—it is to Britain that they look. I am sure that my hon. Friend reads with a good deal of interest the contribution made by this country and the U.S.A. to the U.S.S.R., which has enabled the very gallant work of the Red Army to be carried out, in tanks and trucks, and Air Force equipment of all kinds. I am not suggesting that the assistance is as much as they would like, or indeed as much as we should like to give them, but we have given assistance to the best of our ability. It is the policy of the Government to render all possible assistance to all resistance movements which are fighting the enemy, and we shall go on giving it.
§ Major Sir Derrick Gunston (Thornbury)
With regard to the evacuation of people from Normandy, is there a committee of Free French in this country in touch with them who can talk to them in their own language?