§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I desire to make a statement. I must apologise to the House for the length of this statement, but I desire to give the House as much information as possible.
At the Brussels meeting of the North Atlantic Council on 19th December, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that, in view of the urgent need to strengthen the defences of the free world, His Majesty's Government had decided to increase and accelerate their defence preparations still further and were considering what form and direction that increased effort should take. I am now in a position to give the House a broad indication of the scale of the new defence programme which the Government have adopted.
I wish at the outset to re-affirm the purposes which this programme is designed to serve and support. The Government do not believe that war is inevitable. Their purpose is to prevent war. But they believe that peace cannot be ensured unless the defences of the free world are made sufficiently strong to deter aggression. It is for this purpose, and for this purpose only, that the Government now think it right to take still further measures to increase the state of preparedness of the Armed Forces.