HC Deb 24 July 1951 vol 491 cc202-3
45. Colonel Gomme-Duncan

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that a state of war with Germany has been ended, the state of emergency accepted by the British people as being necessary for the waging of that war may also be ended.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

The powers taken in 1939 were not dependent on any general declaration of a state of emergency.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

In view of the fact that the British public gave up a great part of their liberties to meet this emergency and the war has obviously now ceased, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the emergency should be brought to a close and, if necessary, a fresh emergency declared with more limited requirements from the public?

The Prime Minister

I think it more convenient to adopt the practice we have adopted, that is, of gradually doing away with these powers as they become unnecessary; but there are some powers, as the hon. and gallant Member will realise, that are for the protection of the public.

Mr. Martin Lindsay

With great respect, is not the right hon. Gentleman's original answer a bit of a quibble, because the powers taken in 1939 were taken only in view of a threat of war with Germany, and if no such threat existed they would not have been taken?

Mr. Hector Hughes

Is not the practice adopted on this occasion similar to the practice adopted by this country after World War I?

Hon. Members


Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is not the declaration of a state of emergency designed to have a tonic and moral effect on the people of the country and to arouse them to a sense of their dire responsibility and duty? Is there not some danger, if this is allowed to drag on from year to year, with a state of emergency against one country and then another, of a certain amount of confusion and frustration ensuing?

Captain Crookshank

Is the assumption that this country when governed by a Socialist administration is in a permanent state of emergency?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, but we are a country in a world in which there are reactionary Governments and totalitarian Governments.

Mr. Hopkin Morris

The Government having declared peace with Germany and thereby brought the emergency to an end, if an emergency exists, how many emergencies were there?