§ LORD STRABOLGI rose to ask His Majesty's Government, what steps have been taken or are proposed for creating the necessary machinery and organization to co-ordinate the strategy (including not only military, naval and air operations but economic and political warfare) of the British Empire and her Allies and co-belligerents in the war against Germany, Italy and Japan; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion which my noble friends have asked me to bring before your Lordships this afternoon was originally put down on December 14 last, a week after the entry of the United States into the war, and its terms arc therefore familiar to the Government. I do not intend to touch on the question of Staff organization in this country, but I shall confine my remarks to the Inter-Allied side of the direction and control of our strategy in the war. Many noble Lords and other eminent persons have been advocating better Staff organization in this country and particularly the creation of a Great General Staff. This morning we have had issued a White Paper on the subject, which shows that this combined organization does exist on a low level though there is still a lack at the higher level. The object of my question to-day is to find out from the Government whether anything of the same kind exists for the co-ordination of the tremendous effort that can be put forward by the Allied and Associated Powers in this war.
§ There is, I believe, some anxiety on this subject. It is recognized that the resources and strength of what I may call the Grand Alliance are overwhelming if they are marshalled and deployed. Is 687 this being done, and how? I would suggest that liaison, which we know exists, and attempts at co-ordination are not enough. In the last war it was very late before unity of command was attained, but when it was attained the results were excellent. I believe it is now recognized that if we had had unity of command earlier in the last war the course of the war would have been shortened. Is there the same lack at the present time? I am sure all your Lordships have seen with great pleasure the news of the appointment of General MacArthur as supreme commander in the South-West Pacific area; and the public are informed, by the American Secretary of State for War, Colonel Stimson, that his powers and functions in what is called the Anzac area are similar to those which were exercised by Marshal Foch in the last war. But that is only one theatre of war. Important as it is the Australasian theatre of war is only one quarter, so to speak, of the whole sphere of the war which is now world-wide. I venture to ask the Government if they can state anything with regard to any similar organization, if such exists, elsewhere, and in particular for the Western European theatre.
§ In Washington, as your Lordships are aware, there is, and has been for some considerable time, a Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee, with senior British officers of all the three Services, including General Sir John Dill, serving upon it, and I believe I am right in saying that all the other principal Allied and Associated Powers are also represented. I presume that this Staff Committee in Washington is concerned particularly with the Pacific war, or does it advise on the whole campaign, in both hemispheres? We do not know this. Perhaps the noble Earl, who I understand is going to reply to my Motion on behalf of the Government, will give us some information. If I am right in my presumption that the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington deals with the Pacific war, the Eastern war, so to speak, is there a corresponding body—I do not know if there is or not—planning a European battle front? I presume that such a body would, for convenience sake, work in London, though where it works, I suggest, is less important than that it should exist.688
§ Now I can see many reasons why such an Inter-Allied Chiefs of Staff Committee might be situated in Moscow. I can see many advantages for such an arrangement. But that there is some lack here is, I think, shown by an interview which was given by General Sikorski, the Polish Commander-in-Chief, who obviously must be very well informed on all these matters, to a well-known British journalist on the strategy of the war. This interview was published last Sunday. Amongst other things General Sikorski made this statement: "I think it advisable to create an Allied General Staff to direct operations on the European Front." If there is such a Staff I am ignorant of its existence—and I would be very glad to know that I am ignorant in that respect. The Polish Commander-in-Chief is also unaware of it. Your Lordships will agree, I am sure, that the Poles in arms, in the air, on land, and, as a few of them are, at sea, are Allies with whom we can be very proud to serve.
§ Again there is a body known as the Pacific War Council which meets in Washington. I understand it held its third sitting yesterday. There is, or was—I believe it is still in existence—a Pacific War Council also in London. I dare say that is a very proper arrangement. After all, the Netherlands Government sit in London, and I can see that there are reasons why there should be a Pacific War Council. But there are two of these Pacific War Councils, and I would ask the Government what are the respective functions of these two bodies and what are the means of relating or co-ordinating or integrating their activities. I am going to suggest—and I hope it will not be taken amiss by any member of the Government for it is not meant as criticism at all—that it is shown that there is something lacking by the mere fact that it was necessary recently for a very important visitor to pay a welcome visit to this country. I refer to the Chief of Staff of the American Army, General Marshall. If there was working machinery for co-ordinating or integrating the higher strategy of the war I would have thought it was not necessary for General Marshall to come here for a fortnight and engage in conversations with persons of importance in London.
§ I do not wish to be misunderstood. The visit undoubtedly was a good thing 689 from many points of view, and the General was, of course, most welcome here. But that a man of such importance should have to leave his own post to come here shows, I think, that there is still some lack of the required machinery. And more than that, I must say that I am a little uneasy that it should be necessary for the most important executive in the Empire, our First Sea Lord, to have to go back to Washington with General Marshall accompanied by several very important Staff officers. There is something lacking if this visit and these counter-visits are necessary. I know the advantages of personal contact and so on, and I am sure that the visit of the First Sea Lord to Washington will be productive only of great good, but to have to send him away at this time shows, I suggest, that there is something still required. And this is after the United States has been a full belligerent with us in the war for four and a half months!
§ So much for the liaison, the working together of the two great English-speaking Democracies. It is easier, of course, for the British and the Americans to work together in the war than for probably any other two Allies—for reasons of language apart from anything else. When we come to the other great Allies working together on joint strategy and so on, we must realize that this is not so easy. The other two greatest Allies—and I am not in any way overlooking any of the twenty-six important nations fighting with us in this war—are Russia and China. I do not overlook the very important visit made some three months ago by Mr. Anthony Eden and General Nye to Moscow. Surely that did a great deal of good. But I think that there is strong evidence that there could be closer co-operation in the higher field of strategy with the Russian leaders. I realize that there arc difficulties, geographical difficulties of course apart from anything else, but one eminent member of your Lordships' House was an admitted success in Moscow. I refer to Lord Beaverbrook. I wish that Lord Beaverbrook, instead of going West, as he has now done, had gone East. I wish he was in Moscow now at the head of a really powerful section of British Staff officers who would be working out the immediate future strategy with the Russian leaders.
§ That this is necessary is, I think, shown by one fact, the only one which I propose 690 to bring to your Lordships' notice. Quite recently, on April 10, the Russian Ambassador to Washington, M. Litvinov, made a very important speech, and in doing so he only followed similar speeches by General Sikorski, the Polish Commander-in-Chief, and the Russian Ambassador at the Court of St. James. All these three great Slav leaders advocated an invasion of Europe from the West this year. Let me say at once that I do not propose to ask the Government anything whatever on that subject. I have no right to know what their plans are, and I do not propose to inquire; but, whoever else has a right to know what their plans are, the Russian General Staff and M. Stalin have a right to know, and must know. I suggest, however, that if they knew either that we were going to invade or that we were not going to invade—it does not matter which—it would be impossible for their representative in Washington to make such a speech as M. Litvinov did on April 10, and a speech which, incidentally, was praised by the American Secretary of State. It looks very much as if we had left both the Russians and the Poles guessing; and, if that is so, it is very bad. I have to say that. I hope that I am misinformed, or that I read the sense of this wrongly; but, if we have left them guessing, that is very bad indeed.
§ Our Government and our Allies are not, apparently, averse from the principle of the unity of command in actual operations. We had it immediately we sent an Expeditionary Force to France in 1939; we had learnt that lesson, and that unity of command undoubtedly saved the situation from being worse than it was. In the Pacific campaign, up to a point, General Wavell was given unity of command in that area over the British, American, Dutch, Australian and other Forces. He never had any reserves, or even any margin; but he had the titular position of Supreme Commander-in-Chief. As I have reminded your Lord-ships, after some weeks of delay, on which I do not wish to dwell, General MacArthur now has a similar position in Australia, and I dare say that there are other cases about which we do not know. The principle of unity of command for actual operations is therefore, I am glad to say, recognized and accepted by the Government, and that is a very great step forward from the position in the last war; 691 but I do suggest that, unless certain facts arc hidden from us—and there is no reason why they should be hidden from us—there is some gap, something lacking, in the higher direction of our strategy in conjunction with our Allies. I hope that this is more apparent than real. There is no reason why we should not be told about this. To begin with, it is not the sort of thing which ought to be kept secret; moreover, you cannot keep it secret. There should be some machinery, known and recognized and accepted, for co-ordinating the higher strategy of the Grand Alliance.
§ So much for strategy. On the economic side, I and my noble friends are glad to know that since this Motion was put on the Paper—not because it was put on the Paper, of course—very great progress has been made on the economic side. Committees have been set up between the Allies and are functioning on such matters as shipping, the allocation of raw materials, food and the assignment of munitions. I now see—and I am very glad to see—that it is proposed to bring together the responsible officials for the production of munitions, so that there shall be no overlapping there. I am sure that that will be of very great service to our cause, once it is in operation. On the economic side, therefore, I think that great and satisfactory progress has been made, but on the side of political warfare, which is recognized as of great importance at the present time, I do not think that the position is quite so good.
§ I should like to quote Mr. Casey, the latest member of the War Cabinet, who made a most interesting broadcast last Sunday, to which I expect your Lord-ships listened. Mr. Casey has just returned from the United States of America, after two years as Australian Minister at Washington, and he said that the British war effort is not fully appreciated in America. That is a terrible state of affairs. It shows that there is need for a joint Anglo-American campaign for the enlightenment of the American people. If Mr. Casey can say that, then obviously the American people need educating, and their education should be a joint effort by Britain and America.
§ Let me give some other examples. In France, as I know from a relative of mine who has just returned after living there 692 for the whole period of the war, there is a good deal of hostility towards us because of the food shortage in France, which the French are told is due to the British blockade. The facts, of course, are entirely contrary to that. France was self-supporting in food, but has been stripped of her food by the Germans. However, our propaganda does not seem to get home to the French people. When I use the word "propaganda" I do not use it in the old sense of telling a pack of lies; in the long run propaganda is effective only if it deals solely and strictly with the truth. The need to tell the truth to the French people, however, is, I suggest, self-evident at the present time. We do our best, but we are not believed in France as the Americans would be believed in France. I believe that if the Americans backed up our efforts to tell the truth in France about the food situation their propaganda would be more readily accepted, for obvious reasons.
§ Turning now to the East, in many countries of great importance at the present time Soviet Russia has a great deal of influence. That is true of India; the Russians have a great deal of influence in India. Indian leaders have been interested in the great Russian revolution and its results, and Russian prestige is high. The Russians have great and powerful broadcasting stations scattered over Asia. What liaison, what team-work, is there between the Russian propagandists and the British propagandists? Let me put the matter quite bluntly to the noble Earl. To use the customary jargon, do we "plug" the same themes and policies on the wireless as the Russians do in Asia? We ought to do so. There is no reason why we should not do so; we are fighting in the same war and for the same ends.
§ Again, take political warfare aimed at disintegrating the German Home Front. I do not want to revive the most interesting debate which we had a short time ago in your Lordships' House, and I do not come down on either side for the purpose of this Motion; but do we and the Russions and the Americans and the Free French, to take four examples, sing the same tune? Do we "plug" the same policies? Is there an agreed policy between the Allies, apart from the necessarily vague Atlantic Charter—it had to be vague; I do not complain of that— 693 with regard to the political and economic future of Europe? Have we an agreed policy as a counterblast to Hitler's so-called New Order, and in regard to the future of the German people after their military defeat and the destruction of the Nazi régime? If the tremendously powerful Russian propaganda machine, the growingly powerful American machine, and the Free French, who are most efficient and admirable in this field, if I may say so, and we ourselves are not all in step or in tune or in harmony, that may be harmful. A famous Conservative statesman once said, "Gentlemen, it docs not matter what we say, so long as we all say the same thing." I am not quite so cynical as that, but I do say that in propaganda, in political warfare, it is most necessary that the great Allies should be in harmony. Obviously, otherwise you make a present of the situation to Dr. Goebbels, who will be very quick to point out any difference.
§ I had no intention of allowing any note of criticism to creep into my presentation of this question. I do not intend to criticize at all, and I hope I have not given that impression. If there are faults I will not lay the blame on the British Government any more than on the other Governments. Inter-Allied co-operation is like marriage: it takes more than one party to bring it about and more than one party to make it a success; and if there are faults, the faults may lie with our other great Allies. Therefore, I have not proposed this Motion with the intention of attacking the Government at all—not that I ever do attack the Government. But I do suggest that it is highly important that your Lordships and the people should be satisfied that the best is being done to mobilize and marshal the great resources of this Alliance.
§ We have this advantage, that though our enemies, Germany and Italy, are contiguous, they are both physically separated from Japan by oceans which we continue to control and by hostile land spaces. There is no way except by most devious and underground and dangerous routes to get, for example, a Japanese Staff officer to Germany and vice versa. The only way they can really communicate is by radio, and I hope we break their codes. We have the advantage of being able to fly the First Sea Lord, and the Americans to fly General Marshall, across the Atlantic within twenty-four hours. That is a great 694 advantage, and I hope it will be used to the utmost. It is really much easier for ourselves and the Russians and the United States and China and the other great Allies to work together as a team for that reason alone, than it is for the Axis Powers and Japan to do so. I hope that fact is appreciated, and I hope we shall take advantage of it. I beg to move.
THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (THE EARL OF SELBOKNE)
My Lords, I must thank the noble Lord for the notice that he gave of this very important but also very big subject that he has raised. The field covered by the terms of his Motion is truly immense. It stretches literally from China to Peru, and it concerns the organization of the twenty-six United Nations who are every one of them free and independent nations engaged in total war—a colossal problem, and it is impossible, I am afraid, to answer the noble Lord in a very short space of time or without going into a certain amount of detail. I will, however, try to be as short as I can. It is also impossible to give a simple picture, because the problem is so complicated that a certain amount of complication is necessary to the machinery. The noble Lord said just now that Inter-Allied co-operation was like a marriage, that it required two to make it and to make it a success. But whatever the problems of marriage are, I think the problems of polygamy must be even more serious, and this is a case of a marriage of twenty-six free nations scattered in every part of the world.
The noble Lord dealt first with strategical issues. I do not propose to go into our own strategical organization, because your Lordships have debated that on several occasions already, and there has been published to-day as a White Paper, which is no doubt in your Lordships' hands, a chart of the Chiefs of Staffs organization and the Planning Organization. The noble Lord asked me particularly about the machinery at Washington. He asked particularly whether he was right in supposing that the Combined Staffs in Washington dealt with the war in the Far East, and he wanted to know what the corresponding organization to deal with the war in the West was. The noble Lord is entirely in error in that supposition. The Combined Staffs in Washington deal with the whole war. You 695 cannot consider or plan or arrange for the war in watertight compartments. This is a world war. It can only be considered as a world war and dealt with as a world war, and it is the Combined Staffs in Washington who have the primary task of co-ordinating the efforts of the twenty-six United Nations in the world war.
The organization of the Combined Staffs in Washington is very similar to that of the Staffs in London as shown in the chart in the White Paper that was published to-day; that is to say, that you have the Chiefs of Staffs Committee, the Vice-Chiefs of Staffs Committee, the Joint Planning Staff with its Strategical Planning Section, its Executive Planning Section, its Future Operational Planning Section and its Intelligence Section. All that is to be found in Washington and, sitting alongside their American colleagues are representatives of all the three Services from this country. As the noble Lord knows, Field-Marshal Sir John Dill is there; there are Admirals of the highest rank in Washington, there are Air-Marshals, and there is the whole hierarchy of planners and intelligence officers. All that is reflected in British as well as in American personnel, in Washington as well as in London. That liaison is as close as the facts of geography make it possible.
The noble Lord then asks why, if your liaison is really efficient, is it necessary for General Marshall to come over to London for a visit or for the First Sea Lord to go to Washington. These visits are constantly taking place, and the more often they take place in one sense the better. We must recognize that a planning organization in Washington cannot be in as close touch with the situation in England as an organization in London. In the same way the organization in London cannot be equally close to the situation in America as the organization in Washington. When you are dealing with a total war you are not merely planning the movements of Armies and Navies and Air Forces, but the whole of the sinews of war, the whole of the production problems, the whole of the man-power problems, the whole of the transport problems—every one of these has to be dealt with by the Government concerned. Therefore the Home Front in America or the Home Front in England is, in a sense, as important as, and sometimes even more important 696 than, the fronts where the enemy is fighting. Therefore it is impossible to transport any Government completely from England to America, just as it would be impossible to pick up Great Britain and dump it alongside Maryland.
The whole machinery of government is integrated with the country it governs. If you take it away from that country, it at once loses a certain amount of its efficiency. The only way you can remedy that is by personal touch between the really key-men at the top. If the noble Lord has had to do any business I am sure he has found that he saves correspondence and time by taking a car and going to see the person with whom he is doing the business. So you cannot get away—and there is no reason why you should get away—from these personal visits. They are highly desirable in every sense of the term. The noble Lord will remember that in the last war, when we had a very close association with our French Allies, personal visits by French Ministers and officers to London, and by English Ministers and officers to Paris, were frequent. Owing to the advance of science Washington is to-day very little farther off from London than Paris was in the last war. We might almost say, with the French King who said, "There are now no Pyrenees," "There is now no Atlantic Ocean." It is therefore not only desirable but feasible that these visits should take place.
Before the noble Earl leaves this very important matter of the Staffs at Washington, he has only mentioned the American and the British, but he says they deal with the affairs of twenty-six nations. Are the other nations represented?
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
If the noble Lord will allow me to take the countries in the order of my speech, it will tend towards its clarity. He also touched on the Pacific War Council, which sits in Washington and in London, and he asked some interesting questions about that body. The Pacific War Council is not an executive body. The people who take the decisions in regard to the war are the twenty-six United Nations. Ultimately the decision must be taken by each nation, because they are all free nations. No nation coerces another nation in the sense that Germany is coercing Hungary or, let us say, Italy. 697 The advice is given by the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which it is for the Governments to follow. The Pacific War Council does not decide strategy. It does not give advice to Governments, it is rather an organ, and only one organ, of the Governments concerned in the Pacific war for making known their wishes, their suggestions, their ideas, and their offers to the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The co-ordination of the Governments is the function of the Pacific War Council rather than the function of the Chiefs of Staff, who decide strategical questions on purely strategical considerations.
The Pacific War Council consists of Great Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, and the Netherlands and it sits both in Washington and in London. The reason for that is that, although it is the Combined Staff in Washington which is primarily responsible for co-ordinating the Allied effort, a part of the Allied effort may have to be carried out in England, part of it may have to be carried out in America, dependent entirely on the nature of the particular decision. Therefore it is desirable that the Pacific War Council should be duplicated in the same way as the Chiefs of Staff Committee is duplicated, because, although we have twenty-six United Nations in the war effort, as far as sea war is concerned, and as far as a very large part of the earth is concerned, England and America are like the two wheels of a vehicle. Allied strategy rests principally on these two wheels.
When I come to Russia, to which the noble Lord alluded particularly, your Lordships will observe that the situation in regard to Russia is totally different from that of England and America. The Russian Army is fighting with immense gallantry the greatest battle of history, but the Russian Navy is playing a comparatively minor part. There is no need for a Combined Staff in Moscow because the Russians do not require either British or American advice as to how to conduct their own campaign. What we have got, however, is a Three-Service British Mission in Russia, where there is also an American Mission, and there are Russian Missions in London and in Washington. By this means the closest liaison is kept between the Governments concerned, and there is a complete interchange of views 698 and conversations on all strategical questions which it is necessary for the countries to discuss. But the Russian campaign by itself is quite different from the sort of campaigns in which England and America have to collaborate so freely. The noble Lord mentioned the question of an invasion of Europe by Great Britain and America. That is certainly the sort of project that would be discussed between the respective Governments because that would be a strategic move that would affect the Eastern Front. The machinery that exists is perfectly adequate for the discussion of great questions like that.
When we turn to China, there again we have a Front which was a Front long before England or America were involved in the war. The Chinese have been fighting the Japanese for over four years, and the whole machinery for conducting that war from the Chinese side exists in China. But China is a member of the Pacific War Council, and through that channel, as well as through other channels, she can make representations as to the assistance that she requires from Great Britain and America. We have, again, a British Mission at Chungking, and there is a United States Mission also there, so that the closest liaison is possible.
The situation, therefore, is really this, that there is a collaboration between England and America such as, I suppose, has never been seen between two countries before. England and America strategically are working as Great Britain and the rest of the British Empire are working together. They are working almost as if they were of the same country and belonged to the same Commonwealth of Nations. But Russia and China are countries which, strategically, are somewhat separate, though this is a world war, and you cannot put any field into a watertight compartment. In respect to Russia and China, so far the liaison machinery that exists has been found to be adequate. If events prove that it is inadequate, or if there are signs that it requires development, the statesmen concerned will not be slow to make modifications. These things grow as the situation develops and it is the part of statesmanship to try to anticipate situations that arc likely to occur, and to provide the machinery before instead of afterwards. It is the fault of geography that the machinery may well be complicated. The idea which some people apparently 699 have that the way to co-ordinate this war is for Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt, Stalin and General Chiang Kai-shek to sit around a table at some central place (which would presumably be the North Pole) and conduct the war from that spot, is not a feasible one.
The noble Lord also touched on the question of production. I need not go into that in any great detail, because it was dealt with exhaustively by the Minister of Production in another place as recently as March 24. He then explained how a General Staff on Production had been set up—the Joint War Staff on Production and the Joint War Production Planning Section—and how that Staff was in touch with the Services at every point so that there was harmony in planning and production of the weapons that the Armies required. In America a most elaborate machinery has been set up very much on the same model as the military organization that I described a few moments ago—that is to say, there are the opposite numbers on each side of the Atlantic of the corresponding bodies, and they all have their representatives in the other country, so that there is a complete duplication of machinery. This must necessarily exist in both countries, because the factories are both in America and Great Britain. The production organization has to be in both countries but it is clamped together, in the Prime Minister's phrase, as far as it is humanly possible to do so. So far the machinery is working well.
Your Lordships will recognize that the whole problem of war production has been revolutionized by the entry of America into the war. Previous to that event it was possible for the Allied Nations in the first place to obtain anything that they could not produce themselves and which they could afford to pay for from America, and later to get it through the Lease and Lend Act of the American people. Now America herself has entered as a great competitor into the field, and the demands for all the raw materials and the finished products that are required for waging war are vastly greater than they were. Therefore the most complete co-ordination, and the most careful adjustment between the planning and production on both sides of the Atlantic—and indeed in Australasia, 700 where very considerable productive power exists—is, as your Lordships will realize, absolutely necessary.
I apologize for the length of time for which I am speaking, but I now come to the economic sphere of which the noble Lord spoke, and which is included in his Motion. I am thankful to say that I am here able to speak about my own Department. I have come fresh to the Department and have no responsibility for the good work which has been done there in the past; therefore I am able to say how enormously impressed I am with the thoroughness and efficiency which I find there, and with the way in which the very difficult task allotted to the Ministry of Economic Warfare has been carried out by the great staff assembled there. I remember when I went to the Post Office in a political capacity some fifteen years ago I was not at all impressed with its efficiency. I know it has all been changed now, owing to the good work of my right honourable friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was Postmaster-General. I can assure your Lordships that I was immensely impressed by the machinery there is at the Ministry of Economic Warfare for collecting information about the enemy and for applying the blockade.
The functions of the Ministry of Economic Warfare are to advise other Departments on a whole multitude of subjects, such as bombing targets for the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and to apply the blockade in all its rigours, to engage in pre-emption—that is to say, to buy all materials which we may not necessarily require ourselves but which might possibly be of use to the enemy—to arrange quotas for neutrals, to prevent not only enemy imports but enemy exports, to apply financial pressure to the enemy, and to control the entire shipping of the world through ship warrants. All that is the work of the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and in all that work we have the closest collaboration with the American Government. American officers are sitting in my Department here, and British officers are sitting on the United States Board of Economic Warfare in Washington. We have our Black List Committee in London on which there is a United States representative. We have our Pre-emption Committee on which there are United States representatives. The Blockade Committee sits in three sections, 701 every one of those sections has an American representative, and there is an Allied Trade Section in which all our other Allies have opportunities of consulting us or making representations to us.
As I think your Lordships are aware, one of the chief instruments of the blockade has been the navicert system under which no ship was allowed to sail without a certificate from a British consul that there was no objection to that ship sailing. Navicerts have been abolished in America, since America came into the war, and are now replaced by export licences. That I think is an index of the way in which the blockade is being worked by America from her end in exactly the same way as we are working it at our end. I do not think it would be possible to have more complete collaboration between two Departments than that which exists between the British Ministry of Economic Warfare and the American Board of Economic Warfare. In regard to pre-emption, for instance—the buying of materials to prevent the enemy getting them—America is coming very much to our help in the task we have shouldered in the past, and pre-emption arrangements are carried out in the closest collaboration between the two nations by the machinery of these two departments.
The noble Lord also asked for information about political warfare and propaganda and as to the liaison and co-ordinating machinery between the Allies in that respect. He asked me pointedly whether the propaganda from Russia, for instance, in regard to Asiatic affairs, or let us say Indian affairs, was in line with British propaganda. I can assure him that it is. Of course nobody will expect to get exactly the same type of propaganda from Great Britain as from Russia. Propaganda in our view consists in telling the enemy the facts as one sees them. Naturally we see certain facts from a certain angle; other countries would see them from a different angle. Propaganda, if it is to be effective at all, must be absolutely genuine. If propaganda was identical I think it would be just about as effective as the sort of circular letter which Members of Parliament frequently get when they receive fifty or sixty letters all couched in identical terms. That is the sort of propaganda that cuts very little ice indeed, and I think if a German listened to a British broadcast and found 702 it was merely a translation of a Russian broadcast he had been listening to half an hour previously it would produce the same sort of effect on him as a circular letter produces on a Member of Parliament. The essential thing, as the noble Lord said in his speech, is to tell the truth; to tell the facts as we see them. If you stick to that rule the task of propaganda is very greatly simplified.
There is as close liaison as we can have between the various countries. The Ministry of Information has a Mission in Russia; there is a Russian Mission here. The American Director-General of the Ministry of Information is, at the present moment, in Washington—another of those visits to which I was alluding just now. Of course, the propaganda Great Britain is conducting is all within the four corners of the Atlantic Charter. It consists, as I have said, in telling the truth and in explaining British policy within the four corners of the Atlantic Charter. And I can tell your Lordships this, that if the enemy have a high-powered station free at any moment which they can use for jamming they invariably select British stations to jam. We regard that as a very high compliment. There is, I repeat, as close a liaison with regard to propaganda as it is possible to have. We relay a great deal of American propaganda to France and to Germany. The noble Lord seemed to think that the French did not listen to our broadcasts, or if they did listen that they did not believe them. We have reason to know that they do listen, and we hope that they believe us; but we also relay American broadcasts to France and to Germany as well. Any new suggestion for collaboration is considered at once, and we are always glad to do anything we can to make the existing machinery more effective. I cannot give an answer this afternoon to the noble Lord's question about British propaganda in America, but I will convey his recommendation to the Minister of Information. I quite agree that there should be no possibility of misunderstanding between the Democracies of Great Britain and of America in regard to our policy or our war effort.
I have made, I am afraid, a very long and rather disjointed speech, but the noble Lord's questions covered a wide field. While the organization that we have at the present moment is elaborate and intricate, it is, I believe, as simple as I could be made and on the whole it works 703 well. I have no doubt that as circumstances require it will be modified. A living organization is always capable of modification and is always growing. So soon as any improvement is seen to be necessary in any part of the machinery, we shall not hesitate to make it.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I wish to ask the Minister of Economic Warfare a question and, if your Lordships will permit a personal reference to my association with him in former times in another place, I should like to be allowed to say that it is with great pleasure I have listened to him this afternoon. If he will permit me, I should like to felicitate him on the very complete way in which he replied to the questions that have been asked. We are indebted to the noble Lord who brought forward the subject and therefore provided the occasion for the speech we have just heard which covered the field so well. It is my intention merely to draw attention to one passage in my noble friend's speech which I think might be amplified. If I correctly understood him, my noble friend, when dealing with the point regarding combined action between the united nations replied, very properly of course, that the Governments of those countries, being free countries, were necessarily the bodies who ultimately would take decisions. I do not think my noble friend's intention in putting the question was to draw that type of reply. Therefore I suggest that my noble friend might take the opportunity, in winding up, of clarifying the matter, if that be necessary. But he gave the impression that action by Commanders would be subject to ratification by Governments. It was only very recently that we saw a report in the Press of an announcement by the Prime Minister of Australia, speaking with the full authority of the Government, that all decisions on strategy and operations were expressly delegated to General MacArthur who was to command the operations in the South-West Pacific area.
§ LORD BARNBY
I emphasize that the Prime Minister of Australia, speaking for himself and the whole Government, delegated to the Commander in the field complete and, as I understand it, final authority. 704 My intention was merely to be helpful. I did not know whether the noble Earl might care to revise words which, if I have understood them correctly, might cause uneasiness. I mean the suggestion that decisions were going to be impaired and slowed down by reference to Governments. In the field over which we are operating that would be extremely difficult. The noble Earl, in passing from the subject of combined strategy to the Department over which he particularly presides, spoke with confidence and fluency. He covered the ground very rapidly, and, with a broad brush, sketched a full picture. It was very helpful. While indebted to him for what he told us, I was a little disappointed that he did not include some reference to the activities of the recently appointed Minister of Production. Those of your Lordships who have listened to his statement, or have read it, will know that the Minister of Production expressly defined his activities as dovetailing into the combined operational scheme. Inasmuch as my noble friend has so recently taken over the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and Sir Frederick Leith-Ross has been transferred to the Board of Trade, it would seem that a renewed delimitation of functions is going on.
My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Earl for his reply, and to my noble friend Lord Barnby for his comments. I think that the noble Earl painted a very good picture altogether. I am only going to make one suggestion to him, and that is in connexion with economic warfare, if I may be allowed to do so. When he dealt with his own Department I thought—if he will forgive me for saying so—that he dwelt too much on Anglo-American co-operation and not enough on co-operation with other countries. Take the case of Russia—I am speaking of the working of the noble Earl's Department, of the blockade, of rationing neutrals, of pre-emption and so on. Russia has trading contact with Japan and also with Persia and Turkey. That means that unless there is close collaboration between my noble friend's Department, and of course the Americans, and the corresponding Department in Russia—I presume that there is a Commissar for Economic Warfare in Moscow corresponding to my noble friend in London—there would be a danger, I suppose, quite unwittingly, of goods we are 705 intercepting at sea going to Turkey and Persia, and then to Italy or Germany. It would be very desirable that this should be stopped. I do not know how close the collaboration is, but I got the impression from the noble Earl's speech that it was mostly Anglo-American collaboration. I suggest that this is a matter that should be looked into.
I am grateful to the noble Earl for giving that information about the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington. They are advising, I understand, on the whole war all over the world. I did not know that, and it is rather surprising to me. I feel a doubt, and I am going to consult my noble friends on this matter. As a result of the change of Government in Vichy you may have all sorts of happenings in Europe. Now the expression of opinion by General Sikorski, the Polish Commander-in-Chief—I am sure the noble Earl must have seen that reference—as to the need for the creation of an Allied General Staff to direct operations on the European Front suggests a course that may be very necessary. I am not sure that you could run two or three European Fronts from Washington. I do not know, of course; it is a matter for those with more experience than I have. But I want to put in a caveat at once. If the European Front blows up, if I may use that expression, as I hope it will, in the near future, I do not think the campaign can be properly managed from Washington. But, as I say, I do not know; it is a matter for other and more experienced heads than mine. My noble friends may have to return to that question later. I am very grateful to the noble Earl for the very careful attention which he gave to the questions which I ventured to put to put to him. I am sure your Lordships will agree that he made a most interesting statement on a most complicated and difficult subject.