§ LORD ADDISON
My Lords, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make on the war situation?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (VISCOUNT HALIFAX)
My Lords, my noble friend has asked me to reply. It is almost exactly twelve months since the outbreak of war, and we may perhaps ask ourselves how we stand after this first year. Many things have happened which we did not expect, and the war has spread into lands with which, in its origin, it appeared to have no concern. But at 366 least the progress of the war up to date, and not least the methods of our enemies, in dragging into the whirlpool their innocent and peace-loving neighbours, violating their neutrality, and destroying their independence, have served to make all the clearer to our own people of the Empire, to the inhabitants of Europe, and to the peoples across the oceans the avowed purpose for which we entered into the war.
To-day our own attention is naturally focussed upon the war which is being waged from the air against us here; but before I come to speak of that, I should like to take rapid stock of the swiftly moving events of the last few weeks in parts of the world hitherto not directly touched by the war. Your Lordships will be aware of the recent developments which have disturbed South-Eastern Europe, the outcome of which is still not clear. On June 26, your Lordships will remember, ten days after France had asked for an armistice, the Soviet Government presented an ultimatum to Rumania demanding the immediate return of Bessarabia and the cession of the northern part of Bukovina. The Rumanian Government yielded to that demand, and on June 28 Soviet troops marched into the ceded provinces. Four days later Rumania renounced the British guarantee and proceeded to demonstrate her subservience to Germany by a series of measures directed against the interests of this country. These measures I need not enumerate. It will, perhaps, suffice if I say that the Rumanian Government have been acting in a manner directly detrimental to British shipping and British oil interests in Rumania. In view of these actions His Majesty's Government have informed the Rumanian Government that so long as our interests are treated in this fashion, it is impossible for our trade with Rumania to thrive, and we have made it clear that we feel ourselves entitled by way of reprisal to hold up Rumanian ships.
Meanwhile Rumania's requital for throwing herself into the arms of Germany and renouncing the British guarantee has been quick and bitter. After abortive bilateral negotiations with Hungary, the Rumanian Government were summoned by Germany and Italy on August 29 to Vienna, where they were forced to accept an arbitral award—if 367 such it can be called—imposed by the Axis powers. Under this award Rumania was forced to cede about two-thirds of Transylvania and to evacuate the ceded territory within fifteen days. As we have all seen, the decision to cede Transylvania has been followed by disturbances in Bucharest and various other provincial centres and by an attempt to seize Government buildings in various Rumanian towns. The Rumanian Cabinet resigned yesterday and the King entrusted General Antonescu, former Minister of National Defence and ex-chief of the Rumanian General Staff, with the formation of a new Government. In return for the sacrifice of one of the most precious parts of the Rumanian motherland Rumania has received a guarantee from the Axis powers of what is left of Rumanian territory, and I have no doubt at all that Rumania is under no illusions as to the value of that guarantee.
I might perhaps explain to the House what attitude His Majesty's Government take towards this Rumanian-Hungarian settlement and towards other settlements reached under duress in time of war. We have, as your Lordships are well aware, never supported a policy based on a rigid adherence to the status quo. On the contrary, we have lent our support to the principle that we should be favourable to a modification of the status quo, always provided that such modification is just and equitable in itself and is reached by means of free and peaceful negotiation and agreement between the interested parties without aggression or compulsion. It is for that reason that His Majesty's Government are able to regard with satisfaction the conversations which have also been proceeding for some weeks between Rumania and Bulgaria in regard to the question of the Southern Dobrudja. It was stated on August 21 that Rumania had agreed in principle to the cession of this territory with its 1912 boundaries; and His Majesty's Government hope that from these discussions a final and amicable solution of that particular problem may be arrived at. It equally follows that we are unable to accept the settlement now announced of the Hungarian-Rumanian dispute over Transylvania since that settlement is the result of a dictation by the Axis Powers imposed on Rumania under duress. We do not pro- 368 pose during the war to recognise territorial changes unless these have been evidently and freely agreed between all the parties concerned. I have no doubt all of us in this House hope that at the end of the war there may be a general settlement on lines so just and equitable as to give hope of its durability and to that end His Majesty's Government will use all their influence.
Meanwhile, further south in the Balkan Peninsula, Herr Hitler's apprentice appears to have had it in mind to try out on his own the well-known Nazi policy of threat and intimidation, and towards the middle of August Signor Mussolini began to develop an agitation against Greece, well backed by troop movements, and no doubt timed to reach a climax at the same moment as Herr Hitler might launch his attack against this country. Certainly nothing could have been more devoid of substance than the trumped-up charge upon which this agitation was based. Two months before an Albanian brigand had been assassinated on Albanian soil by enemies from among his own people. The assassins had fled to Greece, where they were arrested. The question of extradition of these men was under discussion between the Greek and Italian Governments, when Signor Mussolini suddenly found it convenient to convert this common criminal into, as he called him, an "Albanian patriot, basely murdered by the Greeks."
Threats in the Italian Press were followed by Italian troop concentrations and these concentrations were followed by the cowardly torpedoing of the Greek cruiser "Helle" as she lay before the island of Tenos on the occasion of the great annual Feast of the Assumption on August 15, to which thousands of sick pilgrims flock from all over Greece in the hope of a cure. Such acts and such threats might intimidate a less courageous people, but it is greatly to the credit of the Greek Government and people that they have remained perfectly calm in the face of these dangers and provocations, resolved to maintain their neutrality and to give no pretext to their neighbour through any unneutral act, but at the same time determined to defend their own integrity and independence against all comers. The attitude of His Majesty's Government to Greece of course remains as it was defined by my right honourable 369 friend the Lord President of the Council, then Prime Minister, in his speech of April 13, 1939, when he said that:In the event of any action being taken which clearly threatened the independence of Greece…, and which the Greek… Government…considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government, would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Greek… Government…all the support in their power.Beyond the boundaries of Europe also events have moved swiftly and there have been notable developments in some of the French Colonies, in which His Majesty's Government are naturally interested. We have had reports that certain demands were presented to the Government of Indo-China by a Japanese military mission there, and that these demands were refused by the French authorities. On receipt of that information His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo was asked to draw the attention of the Japanese Government to the reports that we had received, and, at the same time, to remind them of the interest of His Majesty's Government in the preservation of the status quo in Indo-China. Your Lordships have no doubt seen the report in the Press of the statement made by Mr. Cordell Hull in which he declared that this was also a matter to which the United States Government attached importance.
We have naturally welcomed the decision of certain French overseas territories to adhere to General de Gaulle and the cause of Free France. Those Colonies which have already declared themselves include the New Hebrides and French Oceania in the Pacific, where a plebiscite resulted in an almost unanimous vote for General de Gaulle, while in Africa the territories of great importance of French Equatorial Africa and the French Cameroons have also declared themselves for Free France, and General de Gaulle's representatives have taken over the administration. It may well be that others of the French Colonial territories will follow their example and rally to the same cause.
Now, my Lords, if I may, I would say a word upon the subject which was made known to the world on Tuesday last, the day before yesterday, when the news was simultaneously published in Washington and in London that as the result of Notes exchanged the day before between the 370 United States Government and His Majesty's Government, fifty American destroyers were to be transferred at once to us and that His Majesty's Government had accorded defence facilities, as had indeed been previously announced, on the basis of 99-year leases, to the United States in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Caribbean and British Guiana. The Agreement that is embodied in these Notes, which I think speak for themselves, provides practical means of increasing simultaneously the defence capacity both of the United States and of the British Commonwealth with its millions of British subjects, let us not forget, in the Western Hemisphere, each party to the transaction contributing materially and effectively to the security of the other.
The underlying principle of the Agreement is that of a mutual recognition of the value of sea power as a shield against aggression, and certainly I need not emphasize in this House the importance to us at the present time of the acquisition of the destroyers. Ever since the outbreak of war, in face of all the elements of nature and of all the machinations of the enemy, our destroyer flotillas have continued to discharge the heavy responsibility of keeping open the highways of the ocean for the Mercantile Marine, to whose courage also we owe much, and the impending arrival of these new flotillas in British waters is very welcome to us not merely as a reinforcement of our own defences but also as providing the means of developing the striking power of our sea forces in other theatres of war. The other result of the Agreement is of course to provide a major contribution to the national security of the United States and to its ability to strengthen what I believe is now called hemispheric defence in co-operation with the other nations of the Americas.
As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister pointed out in a speech he made in another place on the 20th August, the interests of the United States and of the British Empire so far coincide as to require that the former should have facilities for the naval and air defence of the Western Hemisphere. The lease facilities which are set out in the White Paper are paralleled of course by the discussions now proceeding between the United States and Canada; and the 371 acquisition of the similar facilities which are being made available in the Caribbean and British Guiana will of course have a very considerable value in providing for the effective protection of the Panama Canal, that vital strategic link between the Atlantic and Pacific.
The fact that the leases are to be for a period of ninety-nine years ensures that this Agreement, concluded as I have said for the advantage of both parties, shall not be of a merely passing or ephemeral kind. No question of any transference of sovereignty arises, and the Governors of the territories in which concessions are being made, as also His Majesty's Government in Canada, have been consulted at every stage and have fully concurred in what has been done. I think it is also true to say that, from all the reports reaching me, the Agreement has been received with warm approval and cordiality by the peoples directly concerned. Certainly it is true that this Agreement stands in singular contrast to the more tortuous processes by which the totalitarian Powers seek to enlarge their sphere of domination at the expense of others. Apart from its immense material significance, the whole transaction to my mind does illustrate how successfully freedom-loving societies, mutually confident in each other's purpose, can reach decisions which may sub-serve the cause of all peoples who desire to live together honourably and at peace.
Meanwhile our own island, now an outpost of freedom, has become the centre of a vast battle. Throughout July and early August the German Air Force was engaged in making good the losses sustained during the battle of France—air losses inflicted for the greater part by the Royal Air Force—and in concentrating on new bases close to the Channel and to the United Kingdom. With this concentration and refitting complete it became possible for the first time for the enemy to launch the full weight of his bomber force—short-range as well as long-range—against this country and to accompany these raids in the daytime by strong fighter escorts. The result of course has been twofold: first to increase the weight of attack, and secondly to increase the difficulty of dealing with it. Exactly four weeks ago the enemy launched the first of a series of massed attacks which have continued 372 without any serious intermission ever since. Every part of our air defence system has been called upon to play its part and every part has done what was expected and required of it. The greatest burden of the battle, of course, has fallen upon the Fighter Force, which almost hourly since the battle began has been called upon to intercept and engage wave after wave of enemy aircraft.
As was said in this House before we adjourned, the achievements of this force in the face of an enemy greatly superior to it in numbers have surpassed all our expectations. In the space of these last four short weeks more than 1,200 enemy aeroplanes have been destroyed for certain and many hundreds more have been severely damaged. No Air Force—there are noble Lords who can speak with authority on this subject—however strong, can sustain such losses as these with composure. But there is as yet no slackening in the attack and the great numerical strength of the German Air Force has enabled it to replace its casualties and to continue the assault. The principal aim of these attacks is clearly to beat down and crush our air defences, but so far these attempts have failed. The material damage inflicted has been small in relation to the size of the forces engaged and at no point have the defences failed to hold the enemy in check. But, my Lords, while we may on this ground feel confidence, let us make no mistake. The battle is very far from being over and there are indeed signs that it may shortly be intensified. No one with any knowledge of the issues involved can doubt that one of the decisive battles of the world is now being fought out at this moment in the air over Britain and Germany. While we have no doubt of the outcome I also have no doubt that a special and unremitting and concentrated effort in every quarter of this country continues to be called for.
We have, as I have said, many reasons for solid and for sober confidence. Many of our Air Force stations have been the subject of heavy attack, but sound organisation and skilful precautions have enabled them to continue to operate with scarcely a pause, and the control of the fighters, of the guns, of the searchlights and of the balloons has operated throughout with the most admirable precision. The Bomber Command, aided by the 373 lengthening hours of darkness, has been enabled to attack an ever-widening range of military objectives in Germany and in Italy. Production both here and in the United States has continued to increase. The training of pilots, of crews and of ground personnel proceeds at an ever-increasing tempo and thus steadily does our strength in the air develop. As we stand at a critical stage of this air battle we can see every reason for confidence but none for complacency. The Royal Air Force we believe will answer every call made upon it, but let us not forget that the whole effort of our people is required to back it up and the last ounce of effort is called for from that multitude of workers upon whom the vital supplies for our Forces depend.
Our own work on the Home Front, whether here or in the factory or in the countryside, which may often seem tedious and pedestrian in comparison with that of the Royal Air Force or of the other armed Forces, is in effect directly related to it and perhaps in its way just as vital. Let us therefore put into the work which we are doing the same determination, instant readiness, and courage in the fare of danger—since in these days it may always come the way of any of us—as they are hour by hour putting into theirs. It is a rare example to us all, of which I am quite sure that the country will not be unworthy. The enemy knows perfectly well that our effort must be continual, and I have no doubt that he hopes to disorganise that effort and to interfere with our productive work by continuous "nuisance" raids. We must see to it that that does not happen. The Government are at this moment considering whether some revision of the system of public warnings may not be desirable and possible. The problem is not an easy one; it is, of course, to combine the need for some warning of danger that is immediate and real with that which all our people will recognise to be their first essential duty, of not allowing the production of material vital for our Fighting Forces to be interfered with unnecessarily. I hope that it may be possible for His Majesty's Government to make an announcement on that matter in the very near future.
If it is our duty, as it is, to see that the line of the Home Front is unbreakable, we have not witnessed a year of war with- 374 out learning something of the methods by which the enemy would attempt to break it; and perhaps in that connection I may say a word or two about a matter on which I know that many of your Lordships have felt a good deal of concern, and with regard to which the noble Lord, Lord Newton, has a question on the Paper. I refer to the treatment of enemy aliens. I would ask that this matter should be viewed in the broad perspective that does, I think, surround the truth of it. In May and June we had before us the example of countries overthrown overnight, and we knew that in that overthrow resident aliens of enemy nationality had often played no inconsiderable part. Despite the obvious differences between conditions in those countries and in our own, His Majesty's Government felt that the crisis at that time did call for severe precautionary measures; and in face of what was then the acute danger of invasion, it became necessary to depart from the earlier policy, which had been to leave German nationals in general free, while combing out from the general body so left free those who were thought to be dangerous.
Instead of that, under the pressure of those times we resorted to the other method of adopting general measures of internment subject only to exemptions on special grounds. Personally, I cannot doubt that in those circumstances the safety of the State did demand the adoption of that second alternative, although we knew perfectly well, and stated publicly at the time, that it would necessarily involve hardships to many who were good friends of our cause. But that process of combing out those for whose release there are special grounds goes on, and I hope that it will be increasingly possible to adopt a liberal policy of release in the altered circumstances in which we now find ourselves. I quite understand that some of your Lordships have felt justifiable impatience to see the release of this or that alien whom they may feel that they know personally to be well disposed, and they may well wish that the whole process of release should, therefore, be speeded up. With that wish I think every member of His Majesty's Government would find himself at one; and it was, as I have said, with great regret, and only under military necessity, that we adopted the policy of general internment.
375 I would add that any modification of that policy, such as we hope to see, must, of course, continue to take account of military requirements and necessity, and we must face the fact that, whatever modification of the internment policy may prove possible, and however rapid it may be possible to make the process of sorting out persons for release, there will for a long time be many people—indeed, there may be some until the end of the war—who are in fact devoted to our cause but who nevertheless are not let out and left at liberty. To them we would say that the fact that they remain interned does not necessarily carry any imputation that His Majesty's Government consider them as enemies.
Moreover, we know well that we have with us in this country and overseas, working and fighting side by side with us, foreign contingents drawn from our Allies who share exactly the same ideals by which we are moved. They have given up everything—their homes, and all opportunity of returning to them, as far as we can see, at present—rather than abandon the struggle against the enemies of mankind. As the days pass these men from Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France are doing their full share with the most conspicuous gallantry in the battle which we are waging together. Every day we see fresh evidence of the refusal of these people to be daunted by the physical force of which their countries have been victims. I do not know whether you have noticed in the last few days, for example, the demonstrations of loyalty and of affection which took place here and in many parts of the world—even in territory now occupied by the enemy—on the national occasion of the birthdays of the sovereigns of Norway and of the Netherlands. By such means, in part, is expression given to those things which we all know to be at stake in this conflict for the freedom of men. These are things of the spirit that do not die at the will of any dictator; and just as Herr Hitler will never begin to understand them, so we are confident that he will never be able to destroy them.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD ADDISON
My Lords, the feeling in my mind, as I listened to the noble Viscount, was first and foremost an appre- 376 ciation of the value of Parliament. It is a great tribute to our institutions that a member of His Majesty's Government should frankly and freely take the people into his confidence by talking to them like this. It is this freedom, which our Parliamentary institutions enshrine and typify, that I think does more than anything else to solidify the common will to work together for victory; and it has a spiritual strength and appeal, which was referred to in the last sentence of the noble Viscount, which must be far stronger than any chains a dictator can impose.
I will not say much as to the statement of the noble Viscount, but as an illustration of the changeableness of this war and of the continued element of the unexpected, the fact that after only a fortnight's interval so many new events are presented to us show how rapidly things are moving. The only thing that is not changing, thank God, is the resolution of the British people. But when other matters are looked at in their relations to one another I think we shall conclude hereafter that the most noteworthy event of this fortnight has been the Agreement with the United States. It is surely a great and historic event, the importance of which in the future history of the relations between ourselves and the United States will become apparent. More than that, as an example to the rest of the world it will be of immeasurable and incalculable importance in history.
I was glad to hear what the noble Viscount said about the rallying of certain French Colonies to the Free French Forces. On that I would only express the hope that His Majesty's Government will spare no effort to assist Frenchmen who are similarly disposed in other parts of the world to follow these good examples. As to the tragic events in Rumania, I do not think it would be possible to add anything suitably to what the noble Viscount said. The Rumanians have had a bitter and swift experience of what the value of the protection of the Axis is, and I should think it is quite likely that they are not at the end of their troubles. I am glad that Greece, so far, has preserved a stiff back, and there again I hope that His Majesty's Government will continue to fortify that resolution by all means in their power.
We have all been reminded of the battle that takes place in the skies above 377 us and, if I remember rightly, on the last occasion we met we all paid a tribute to our heroic airmen. Our obligation and the obligation of the world to them continues. I need say no more on that, but I would like to refer to the more homely aspect of this matter, to which I was very glad indeed the noble Viscount alluded, and that is the effect of what are called "nuisance raids." Many people are somewhat perplexed as to what they ought to do when the sirens sound. One thing I am quite sure nobody wants to do is to play the enemy's game and to stop useful work when there is no occasion for stopping. After all, we all have to take a certain amount of risk, and it is not easy, on paper, to say precisely where common sense would tell one to keep at work and where ordinary good sense would tell us to stop work and seek shelter elsewhere. But I think it is of first-rate importance in the maintenance, not only of the national output but of the good temper of the people, that, as soon as possible—so far as it is possible—we should have a better understanding as to how our warning systems are to operate. It really is most important. The noble Viscount said it would not be very long before a statement was made. Well, I sincerely hope that means literally what it says. It should be very soon, because everybody wants to "keep at it," and nobody wants to be leaving his work unnecessarily or to be getting out of bed at night and going to some other place if it does not matter. Therefore it is very important that a better policy should be developed. Of course I am not attributing any blame: nobody does that. We have to learn by this bitter experience how to work these things, and I have not the slightest doubt-that, as we do in other things, we shall find that our wholesome national sense will develop a good working arrangement. That is the best we can say at the moment.
There is one matter to which the noble Viscount did not refer, and it arises a little out of what he said as to the treatment of internees, which I am sure we all welcome: that is that side of the war effort which I think we ought to develop a great deal more in rallying to our support the distressed millions of the subjugated countries. I am putting a Motion on the Paper in about a fortnight's time to call attention to this matter, not in 378 any hostile spirit at all, but because I think it is of first-rate importance that we should exchange views upon it. The thing that is uppermost, I should think, in the daily experience of every one of us who goes about his ordinary affairs as far as possible in an ordinary way is the temper and equanimity of the people. That is really magnificent; and whilst no tribute we can pay to the heroic airmen can be too high and equally must we acknowledge what we owe to the men of whatever branch of service and of the people who are working, without being intimidated, in our factories, we must first and last pay tribute to the endurance and resolution and cheerfulness of the mass of the people.
§ 5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches I desire to thank His Majesty's Government for the comprehensive statement to which we have just listened, and to express, as a matter of course, our continued and full support of the policies that are being pursued. That statement was animated by a spirit both of confidence and of determined resolution which is undoubtedly in key with the desires of the nation. Reference was made by the noble Viscount to the treatment of so-called enemy aliens, although many of those concerned are far from being enemy aliens. It is not only the policy adopted that has caused so much concern, but perhaps even more the manner in which it is applied. The Home Secretary has himself said that many deplorable things have occurred—grave words coming from a responsible Minister. There unquestionably has been gross administrative inefficiency in carrying out the general policy on which His Majesty's Government decided. Apparently it was especially in the War Office, in the early stages, that that inefficiency occurred, and I hope that Ministers will make careful inquiry into the persons who were directly responsible and who unquestionably are deserving of grave censure.
The noble Viscount made special reference to Greece, and what he said will, I am sure, be endorsed by your Lordships. There has been a long-standing friendship between the peoples of Greece and of this country, and among the Greeks, as anyone knows who has travelled through 379 that country, there is a feeling of real good will towards Great Britain, going far back into the history of both countries. We have all seen with concern the threats, and indeed the blows, that have been levelled against Greece by her aggressive neighbour. We hope she will not be involved in war, but if she is, as the Government have clearly indicated, this country will go to her assistance with all the opportunities that we can command. I have seen it stated that the Italian Navy has taken as a new motto the inscription we may see on the railway carriage windows in Italy, "E pericoloso sporgersi"—"It is dangerous to put your head out." But if Italy should extend the naval war in the Eastern Mediterranean, it might give opportunities to the Royal Navy of which it will not be slow to avail itself.
As the noble Lord who has just spoken has already said, apart from actual military events, and especially the great air battle which is now proceeding, the most important occurrence, by far, of these recent weeks has been the conclusion of the Anglo-American Agreement. That will have been received throughout the nation with the deepest satisfaction. History has left the British Empire with many naval bases scattered throughout the world, some of them the consequence of vigorous pioneer efforts of emigrants, some the result of past contests; but the United States has no such bases in the Western Atlantic, and they are strategically and tactically more essential than they have ever been, in these days of submarine warfare, with total attacks on commerce, and air warfare, with onslaughts on civilian populations. No doubt the United States might be able to obtain such bases by bringing pressure to bear on small weak countries in the Western Atlantic, or by purchase, or even in the extreme case by conquest, but it does not desire to take any of these courses. It is right that we, from the abundance of our territory, should proffer these military facilities of which the United States stands in need.
I am glad there is to be no question of monetary payment being requested from America for these long leases. In view of the history of the War Debt question, it would have been a wrong course to have contemplated for a moment the pay- 380 ment of any cash consideration for these facilities. Even without the destroyers we ought to have been glad to meet the wishes of the United States by conceding naval and air bases on the other side of the Atlantic, but the transfer of these destroyers is of course most welcome, particularly as they are the naval arm of which at the moment we stand chiefly in need. This historic Agreement will be most welcome to Canada and Newfoundland, and, if it should be found desirable to adopt similar measures in the Pacific, I feel certain that Australia and New Zealand would find that also a welcome step, as increasing their own future security and stability. If in the American Hemisphere from North to South the peoples had been as militarist and aggressive as some of the peoples are on the Continent of Europe, this troubled planet would be now in an even worse case than it is. Whatever strengthens the United States strengthens the cause of human liberty and world peace, and for that reason especially we cordially welcome this Agreement.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
My Lords, may I intervene for a moment in this debate? I have recently, by the kindness of the Secretary of State for Air, been allowed to go round and visit most of the squadrons and aerodromes in this country, and I have seen some of them twice and three times while they have been actively at work. I have said before that I never thought that our pilots would equal what was done in the last war, but I do not want to bore your Lordships with that again. As to the pilots, and not only the pilots, but the whole crews, the maintenance parties who are keeping these machines in the air, and who are sometimes forgotten, and also the instructors at the schools, who are a vital necessity and whose work is not always in the limelight and is very boring, though it is of the utmost importance—I say I have never seen anything so splendid as their spirit is. I have been at an aerodrome when numbers of German machines were coming over, and though a squadron had not been on duty these pilots came running or bicycling back from their billets outside in order to join in although it was not their turn. I have seen some of these bombing squadrons coming back from their long trips, and there is nothing to equal their keenness.
381 If I may say one other word, the noble Viscount who made the Government statement talked of the great battle that is being fought over this country particularly, and then referred rather briefly to the subject of bombing. The battle that is being fought, as I see it, and which was bound to be fought—England being situated as it is—amounts to this. First of all, we have to bring down more of the enemy who come to this country than they bring down of ours who go to their country. That is the first half, of the battle. It does not matter what we lose so long as we keep that up. The second half of the battle is that our bombers going to Germany shall be more dangerous, and frighten and inconvenience the life of the nation there to a greater degree than the Germans do here. Situated as England is—an island with the sea all round us—we have this great advantage over every other country, that we have the Navy and the blockade; and the blockade plus the battle to which I have referred is bound inevitably to win the victory.