§ LORD MOTTISTONE had given Notice that he would move to resolve, That this House welcomes the announcement made by His Majesty's Government indicating the duty of all citizens, including the Home Guard, to prepare themselves to assist the Civil Defence Services and especially the Fire Service in emergency, and trusts that similar publicity will be given as to the duty of all citizens, including the Civil Defence Services, to prepare themselves to assist the military and Home Guard in the event of invasion.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I trust you will forgive me if in moving this Motion I draw your Lordships' attention for a moment from the question of what we are going to do when the Nazis cease to control the subjugated countries to the question of what we are going to do to prevent the Nazis controlling us. I fully admit the importance of the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and the extraordinary interest of the speech made by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House. But I submit that the more actual question is what are we to do to prevent the Nazis controlling us, they having far and away the largest Army the world has ever seen still intact and a huge Air Force. We admit the 510 danger. That is shown by the existence of the Home Guard and the elaborate precautions we are taking.
§ But are we doing it rightly? I am here to say that although in Scotland they are doing it rightly, here in England not only are we not doing it rightly but, even since I put down this Motion, things have been going awry. Surely it is obvious that, if we are going to avoid the folly of losing the war when we look as though we might win it, we must realize that the danger against which we have to guard is the shattering of the citadel of freedom—this country—and therefore all our people must be ready both to put out Germans and to put out fires. In Scotland, as the noble Duke told us at the close of a recent debate, the people who are going to put out fires and the people who are going to put out Germans have come together and come to an agreement. That agreement will result, and has resulted in the greater part of Scotland, in the fact that in the moment of danger the bystanders become a help and not a hindrance. I am here to say—I hope the noble Duke will relieve my anxieties by making some promise to amend the things which are now wrong—that in many parts of England the bystanders are likely to be a hindrance rather than a help. Why should there be this difference between north of the Tweed and south of the Tweed? I beg the Government, having in view one or two things which I shall say—and I shall be very brief—to grip the machine and to put it right.
§ The question of whether everybody is bound, if called upon, to come to the assistance of the military has been settled. The distinction between combatants and non-combatants has vanished. Thanks largely to the speeches of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, there is now no doubt at all in the mind of any member of your Lordships' House that every man is bound to risk his own skin in order to overcome the enemy; it is not only the law but the fundamental practice of the State. I presume—although it has not been so openly stated—that the same thing applies to putting out a fire. I see some ex-Regional Commissioners and a serving Regional Commissioner present, and I presume that they have made it plain to the people in their areas that, if 511 a citizen is called upon by competent authority to help in putting out a fire, he is bound to risk his own skin to help in doing so, just as he would be if called upon to help in putting out Germans. If any noble Lord doubts that, I hope that he will say so in this debate, because I am asking the Government to make it plain to the citizens of this country that they are all bound, as citizens, to do their utmost, at the risk of their lives if necessary, to put out fires and to put out Germans. That being settled, they themselves will see that they are prepared to fulfil those necessary functions.
§ Why do I say that things have been going wrong lately? It really is true. Clearly the Home Guard ought to learn as much as they can about putting out fires; but there has been a movement in the other direction. Many Home Guards are being told that it is not their job. I am reminded of what French people used to say before the collapse of France: "Ce n'est pas notre métier." I knew that that must be a danger signal, and so it was. In France, the Regular soldier, the Territorial, the civilian, the fire service people and the A.R.P. workers (and A.R.P. was highly organized in France) whenever they were asked to do something a little different, would reply "Ce n'est pas notre métier." That dangerous cry meant the downfall of France, and, unless we make sure that it is not heard here, it may well mean the downfall of England.
§ I believe that this is really a serious matter. Departmental jealousy has something to do with it. The cry that "A little learning is a dangerous thing; leave it to the expert"—that has something to do with it. But this is not a moment when we can allow these things to happen. We are having now a moment of respite, but it cannot be more than a moment of respite, and if, during that moment of respite, we allow the Home Guard to become more and more an adjunct of the Regular Army and less and less the guard of the factories and of the countryside, if at the same time we allow the Fire Service and the Civil Defence Services to say "Taking on the enemy is no affair of ours," and if we have the Home Guard saying "If you will not play, we will not either," then we shall he landed in a position of very real danger just at 512 the moment when we ought to be seizing the opportunity of respite to put things right. I do not know whether the noble Duke, the Duke of Sutherland, will tell your Lordships how complete in the countryside of Scotland is this co-operation, but I do know—and such men as the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, and other noble Lords, also know—that there is no such complete co-operation here in England.
§ What should be done? I beg the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, first of all to accept this Motion, which I have purposely put in phrases to which I think no one can take exception. I ask him to beg the Prime Minister to appoint some one man—I would suggest the Lord President of the Council, who has had charge of these things all through—to grip this machine now, to take hold of the Civil Defence Services, the Home Guard and the Regular Army and make them work together. I am sure that Regional Commissioners will sympathize with me when I say that military opinion—a new military opinion for each purpose—is constantly invoked to justify what is done. One extraordinary doctrine is that should invasion ever happen—and we must assume that it may, or we would not keep 2,000,000 Home Guardsmen—the dangers of fire and of actual invasion must be simultaneous in all places, so that it is safe to have the experts in both branches in each village or town doing their own job, and it is quite unnecessary to be able to switch all of them to one purpose in one place or to the other in another.
§ It has been said that military opinion lays it down that fire destruction and invasion always come simultaneously. The exact contrary is, was and always will be the truth. If an enemy wishes to overcome a part of our country, what he must do—and what he will do, unless he is absolutely mad—is to decide which villages, towns and, above all, roads, he will keep open for the free passage of his troops to his main objectives, and which he will shell and bomb with high explosives and incendiaries so as to render them impassable. It is clear that no enemy is going to render impassable the road or village along or through which he intends to pass. In the case of village A and its road, therefore, there will be a whiff of shrapnel and then the advancing enemy, whereas in village B there will be bombardment and bombing to 513 destroy the roads and the houses, and to topple the houses into the roads.
§ One has seen these things happen. So really the truth is that unless the German High Command are kindly going to tell us what method they are going to adopt and in which particular area, our bounden duty is to be ready to get all the citizens to help to the utmost in the particular duties which will fall upon them in case A or case B. Hence my plea that the Government should insist that everybody should learn as much as he has time to learn, not only about fighting—for example, the difference between a Mills bomb and another—but also about hoses and other fire-fighting appliances. I hope the Government will consider these things. I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That this House welcomes the announcement made by His Majesty's Government indicating the duty of all citizens, including the Home Guard, to prepare themselves to assist the Civil Defence Services and especially the Fire Service in emergency, and trusts that similar publicity will be given as to the duty of all citizens, including the Civil Defence Services, to prepare themselves to assist the military and Home Guard in the event of invasion.—[Lord Mottistone.]
§ LORD LATHAM
My Lords, one cannot but admire the pertinacity with which the noble Lord pursues this matter. I believe this is the fifth occasion on which, by Motion or by question, he has dealt with the whole subject or certain aspects of it during the current year. One is almost tempted to believe that he is determined to have a private war with the Government on this matter, and if that be the case one hesitates to intervene, especially if, as was the case on the last occasion, the Government find it necessary to throw in their reserves—I mean the Leader of the House. The noble Lord will forgive me if I say that he has failed to address himself to the terms of his Motion. His Motion first congratulates the Government upon having taken certain steps in the direction of co-operation between the Home Guard and the Civil Defence Services, and then goes on to request that "similar publicity will be given as to the duty of all citizens, including the Civil Defence Services, to prepare themselves to assist the military and Home Guard in the event of invasion."
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
I think my noble friend is wrong. I refer here to the 514 Government announcement—what they have said. It is their failure to do it which I am calling in question.
§ LORD LATHAM
My noble friend will forgive me if I have not read into the Motion more than the words of it indicate. Hitherto the noble Lord has addressed himself to two aspects of this question. One of them is the training of citizens to arms, and personally I am satisfied that the Government's policy in that connexion is on the lines of utilizing in the best possible way the available supply of arms from time to time. As I indicated in a former debate, I believe that to seek to train workmen engaged in the production of urgently needed munitions, even by the shortened process referred to by the noble Lord, cannot fail to interrupt production and diminish output. I recollect that the noble Lord, in a later discussion of this matter, expressed the opinion that I had treated the opinion of the noble Viscount, Lord Nuffield, with scant consideration. My own view is that Lord Nuffield treated the problem with scant consideration, and I have made it my business, since that debate took place, to ask several industrialists what their views were if men were taken from the works, or were required during their short free time—and indeed in many works it is short—to undergo training in arms. I asked whether they thought that could be done without losing a single hour of production, and in every case I have received a negative answer, sometimes accompanied by comments which I will not repeat in your Lordships' House. I am convinced that whatever benefits might issue from that extension of training would not compensate for the serious loss of production which would result.
The second point which concerns the noble Lord is the question of bringing forcibly to the notice of the people the duty of all citizens in case of invasion. No one would question that it is desirable that the people should be aware of their duty and their responsibility. Both have been admirably set out, with the clarity for which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack is renowned, in a statement in this House, and the Government in June issued a statement which confirmed that duty and that responsibility lying upon us all. On one occasion the noble Lord divided the House on the question of the desirability of a house-to- 515 house publicity campaign to draw the attention of the citizen to his duty, and the House supported the Government. My own view is that there is a danger of crying "Wolf" too often in this matter, and the continual reiteration of the obligation upon the citizen in relation to invasion may be followed by the results indicated in the case of the fable. Speaking as one who is not altogether out of touch with the people, at all events of London, I do not believe that to adopt the policy of house-to-house publicity at the present time would serve any useful purpose. I am persuaded that it would defeat the object in view.
After all, rightly I think, provided it is with appropriate restraint, the eyes of the people of this country are directed abroad. They see the might of the United Nations being organized and used for the invasion of other territories, and I think that if there were house-to-house distribution of a leaflet either it would be neglected by most householders or, where it Was not, it would be calculated needlessly to spread a sense of alarm. Either result would be detrimental to the cause of the nation and its morale, and I think it is much better to leave it to the Government to take such further steps as may be appropriate for warning, the citizens of this country of their respective duties if and when the danger of invasion appears to be imminent. I do not think you add to the power of combating a danger by needless and too early warnings against it. In those circumstances I think the Government's policy is a sound one.
Moreover, it is not the case that nothing is being done to draw the attention of the citizen to his duty or to the dangers which invasion may entail. Almost each weekend we are advised in the week-end papers of certain important exercises which are to take place and in which, graphically and dramatically, the dangers and incidents of invasion are brought to the notice not only of the people in the district in which the exercise takes place, but through the medium of the newspapers on Monday morning, also of people throughout the country. I suggest that that kind of dramatized propaganda as to the dangers, complications, and consequences of invasion, coupled with an inevitable realization of the duties of citizenship which such invasion entails, is much more effective than would be the distribu- 516 tion of howsoever nicely drafted a leaflet. It is the fact that we are subject, probably unavoidably, to adjurations, whether by the printed word or the spoken word, in quite sufficient measure to have rather dulled our sense of appreciation. If these tactical operations and exercises which are being held in various parts of the country are continued, I am persuaded they will have a more useful result than the publicity contemplated by the noble Lord in his Motion could have.
I was intrigued to hear his reference to a failure to co-operate between the Home Guard and the Civil Defence Services, at all events in England, and his particular reference to the National Fire Service. It is perhaps a little regrettable that the noble Lord did not give evidence of this failure to co-operate. I am not now connected with the Fire Service of London, which is quite properly embodied in the National Service, but I am not unconnected with other Civil Defence Services in London, and, if I were asked, I should unhesitatingly say that there is a growing co-operation between these Services and the Home Guard. There cannot be, it seems to me, a complete merger and there are limits to the duality of function you can impose either on the one or on the other, because we must bear in mind that all the Home Guard are part-timers. They all have other duties to perform, many of them of an important national character, whether it be producing munitions, assisting in transport, or in the many other ways in which they may be required. An increasing number of the personnel of the Civil Defence Services are becoming part-timers also, having their normal duties to perform, most of which require that they shall be employed longer hours, and at a greater intensity, than ever was the case in peace-time. You cannot, without running the risk of serious danger to the war effort, increase too much the double burden which is being borne both by the Home Guard and by the Civil Defence Services. If the burden becomes too onerous, then the result will be serious in the loss of efficiency and production.
There is, of course, a substantial body of citizens who are neither in the Home Guard nor in the Civil Defence Services. They have received exemption either from the one or the other because of the nature of the duties they are performing, and because of the hours of work they have to put in. If I may say so with much 517 respect, I would warn your Lordships of the grave consequences which might ensue to production if either Home Guard or Civil Defence duties were put upon these people. The benefits, whether actual or potential, which would flow from that are likely to be much more than offset by the reduction of production which would inevitably occur. On June 8, as I have said, the Government made a statement as to the duties and responsibilities of citizens in the event of invasion. The noble Lord accepted that statement with satisfaction, and I hope he may be induced to accept the Government policy as regards publicity, on the subject of the duties of the Home Guard and Civil Defence personnel and the training of all citizens to arms with as much satisfaction as I feel, after full consideration of all its aspects.
§ THE EARL OE DUDLEY
My Lords, I should like to say one word—and I shall not detain your Lordships more than a minute or two—to attempt to allay the fears in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, and in the mind of the House in regard to this question of co-operation and liaison between the Civil Defence Services and the military authorities and the Home Guard. I am not quite clear as to the immense difference, to which the noble Lord referred, which obtains north of the border and south of it. He did not clarify that; but as far as the Region with which I am associated is concerned there is the closest possible co-ordination and co-operation between Civil Defence authorities and the military authorities. Regional Commissioners have frequent discussions and conferences with the Army Commander, the District Commanders and the Sub-Areas Commanders on all questions of mutual concern. Liaison Officers are provided at all levels whose duty it is to maintain the closest touch in order to ensure that matters common to both are dovetailed the one with the other.
With regard to fire watching it is clear—and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Croft, will agree—that the members of the Homo Guard should play their part as far as they possibly can in this very important civil duty; that they are, in fact, playing an important role. There are large numbers of fire watchers drawn from the Home Guard in my Region every night in all the target areas, and 518 I am satisfied personally that as many as we require for that duty are at present participating in it. But we have to remember that the Home Guardsmen do have a very large number of responsible and important duties over and above the task of fire watching. They have to man their defensive points every night; they are responsible for the protection of the factories which sometimes lie on the periphery of the town. Therefore they are unable for that reason to carry out the double duty of guarding a factory on the periphery and taking part in fire fighting in the centre of the town.
But they are not, as far as I am aware, refusing the utmost assistance that we demand of them—particularly in forming a part of the mobile reserve of fire fighters in the vulnerable parts of the town. I am very glad to have this opportunity of telling your Lordships how well they have responded. On the other hand, the Civil Defence Services do what they can to assist them in this fighting role. The Home Guard have their ceiling, as noble Lords know, which we have helped them to attain. That ceiling, as the noble Lord, Lord Latham, has told your Lordships ensures a proper use of those arms which are available. I think the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, must bear in mind that as far as the Civil Defence Services are concerned, their task may have to continue right up to the very moment when the enemy is at the gates. The Fire Service has to continue to put out fires and it cannot possibly fight the enemy as well. The casualty service has to provide for the needs not only of the civil population but of the Home Guard besides. Therefore they have a very important function to perform in the general scheme of defence.
So far as the general population is concerned, the noble Lord must know that it is the duty of the invasion committees which have been set up all over the country to plan that every man and woman and child too, as far as is possible, has a pre-arranged and prescribed job to do in the event of invasion, if it is only digging slit trenches for the Home Guard and for the use of the civil population. That is the main raison d'être of the invasion committee. I think the noble Lord, if he will forgive my saying so, makes rather heavy weather in regard to this matter. If I thought that more could be done I would honestly 519 tell your Lordships so, but I am satisfied that real co-operation is going on now; that the Home Guard are playing their part in firewatching, and that on the other hand the Civil Defence Services are doing their utmost to assist the Home Guard in preparation for repelling the foe.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I intervene for one moment only to ask the noble Duke who I understand is going to reply, if he could devote some part of his remarks to that phrase in the Motion of the noble Lord which refers to the "event of invasion." Not only the Civil Defence Service but the civilian population generally are very anxious about this question of the event of invasion and of what they should do should it take place. It is therefore very necessary that they should have a clear lead on this matter. I noticed, I think about a fortnight ago, that the Secretary of State for War gave an interview to the Star newspaper in which he warned us to anticipate invasion, to be prepared for invasion. He spoke of invasion as a distinct possibility, but within a very few days of that interview appearing, the noble Lord, Lord Croft, was reported as having made a, speech in which he discounted the possibility of invasion.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD CROFT)
May I intervene to say that I think probably the noble Lord did not sec the remark that I made immediately afterwards correcting that? The reporter who attended the Home Guard gathering and who listened to me addressing the troops, stated that I said that invasion was not likely now. I was, of course, referring to that immediate moment. As I have previously stated, I immediately made it clear when I found that report had gone abroad, that I had stated that of course every step must be taken to prepare for any full-scale invasion, and that anybody would be very foolish indeed who imagined for one moment that the danger of invasion was removed by our recent successes.
§ LORD WINSTER
Let me say at once that I had not seen that correction which the noble Lord made and therefore I apologize to him for having said anything which might be regarded as misrepresenting him; but I think perhaps I have served some purpose by calling 520 attention to that correction made by the noble Lord. I venture to say that in this matter of the possibility of invasion, it is most important that the War Office saxophone—or should I say mouth organ?—should not give forth any uncertain note, because really if the Commander is shouting one thing on the quarter-deck and the Captain is shouting another thing on the bridge, it is extremely difficult for the sailors to know what they ought to do. Therefore in this particular question of the possibility of invasion I venture to hope that no possibility of doubt may exist in future as to any difference of opinion on the subject between the political heads of the War Office.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA AND BURMA (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, the noble Lord's Motion begins by welcoming "the announcement made by the Government indicating the duty of all citizens, including the Home Guard, to prepare themselves to assist the Civil Defence Services and especially the Fire Service, in emergency." There has certainly been a public announcement regarding the aid which the Home Guard should give to Civil Defence. I described this in some detail on October 13, and as I gather the noble Lord is quite satisfied with the arrangements which have now been made, I need say nothing further on that point. But the Motion goes on to add that publicity should "be given as to the duty of all citizens, including the Civil Defence Services, to prepare themselves to assist the military and the Home Guard in the event of invasion." The noble Lord and your Lordships will no doubt be aware that publicity has already been given both to the importance of the assistance which can and should be given by the civil population, including the Civil Defence Services, to the military in the event of invasion and to the multifarious ways in which the citizen, according to his individual capacity and training, can give assistance. The general purpose of the Government statement about the plans for civilian action in invasion issued last June was given publicity in the Press at that time. It was circulated, as your Lordships are aware, to all invasion committees throughout the country.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I think I have already corrected the noble Lord on that point. I stated that by an accident one part was marked "Confidential." The noble Lord is wrong. He is mistaken in saying it was confidential, and he does not serve any useful purpose by repeating it.
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
I should deeply regret to offend the feelings of the noble Duke, but this case is quite unique. I am sure he is entirely wrong, and I am entirely right. I happen to know about the invasion committees because I have been supervising one among others. All the envelopes containing this document were marked "Confidential" and the reason given is that there were matters enclosed inside the envelope which were supposed, no doubt rightly, to be confidential. No doubt it was all a mistake and I was not kicking up a row about it, but if I am challenged I can produce, not hundreds, but thousands and tens of thousands of envelopes marked "Confidential" because they enclose not only the glowing words of the Lord Chancellor but other instructions.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I do not think there is really much ground for complaint in this case. These things have appeared fully in the Press and will appear in the Official Report, and to maintain that there is any secrecy is not a very reasonable complaint. The general purport of the Government's statement about plans for civilian action in invasion was given publicity in the Press at the time. It was circulated, as your Lordships are aware, to all invasion committees throughout the country, and the subject of the ways in which the civilian can help the military authorities has been fully explored in the course of the several debates in your Lordships' House upon Motions proposed by the noble Lord.
It is perhaps not necessary for me to stress again the many tasks which it would fall to the civilian population to perform in toe assistance of the military power if this country were invaded. There are not only the digging of trenches, the clearing of debris from lines of communication, assistance in the construction of military defence works and repair work necessary for the continuance of essential services and duties of that kind, but also the messenger and communication services, the supplementing by voluntary aid of the 522 arrangement for the evacuation of the wounded, and the giving of medical aid to casualties, the provision of shelter and help to the homeless, and innumerable other tasks. The Government have gone much further than merely announcing the duty of civilians to assist or describing the ways in which they can assist; they have arranged for setting up throughout the country invasion committees and these are now in considerable number at work in all parts of Great Britain. Here I must pay the noble Lord a compliment. The noble Lord has himself been a pioneer and a most enthusiastic supporter of this scheme which has been developed very fully in his part of the country. It is part of the functions of invasion committees at the present time not only to secure the coordination of local defence schemes, so as to ensure that the needs both of the military and of the central civilian services will be met in the event of invasion, by the provision of civilian assistance upon an organized basis, but also to keep the public informed of the various tasks which will fall to them under invasion conditions. A great deal of work is being done from day to day by invasion committees to acquaint the public with the sort of duties which they may be called upon to perform in the assistance of the military in invasion and to enrol members of the public as volunteers for such work as they are most suited to undertake.
In almost every part of the country combined exercises with the co-operation of the military have been held in which are simulated the conditions whch might arise in invasion. Some of your Lordships may have received as rude a shock as I did when I found my park full of soldiers in real German uniforms. Every kind of realism is given and I think these exercises serve a valuable purpose. The tasks which would fall to civilians to fulfil are demonstrated and the arrangements for their organization tested out. These exercises have attracted a great deal of attention both locally and in the national Press, and the Government believe that these and the other activities of invasion committees offer, at the present time, by far the best means of acquainting the general public with the ways in which civilians may be called upon to assist the military if invasion should come. Moreover, the ways in which the Civil Defence Services might have to operate in the special conditions prevailing in invasion 523 have been made the subject of special study and of instructions which have been issued to the authorities concerned. So far, therefore, as the noble Lord may have in mind the question of acquainting the civilian population generally with the nature of the task which may be required of them in invasion, the Government view is that not only is this being done but it is being done in the best and most practicable way by the day-to-day activities and preparations of the invasion committees. These preparations are, of course, being continued and completed, and it is proposed to continue the exercises which have proved most valuable as a means of working out practical methods of co-operation between the civil and the military authorities at all levels.
I think, however—the noble Lord will no doubt correct me if I am wrong—that in asking for further publicity on this subject, the noble Lord has in mind those, passages in the Government statement of last June which deal specifically with the question of the conduct which the civilian is to adopt in face of the Armed Forces of the enemy. He has suggested that the doctrine laid down in this part of the document is not sufficiently widely known, and your Lordships will recollect that on the occasion of the last Motion he divided the House on the question whether further publicity should be given to this part of the Government statement. I believe that the noble Lord has contended that further publicity is required because the earlier leaflet entitled Beating the Invader, which has been commented on more than once by the noble Lord, was distributed to all householders and it has not been thought fit to take this course with the later statement. The Government have no evidence to suggest that the general public are unaware of the doctrine which the statement of June last propounded. Valuable publicity has been given to it not only in the Press but by the most useful debates in which the noble Lord has raised the matter in this House.
The Government, I may say, are at one with the noble Lord in his view that it is very important that this doctrine should be thoroughly understood by all members of the civilian population. If there is a difference between us at all it is a perfectly understandable difference of opinion whether what has been done is fully effective, and, if it is not, whether any- 524 thing more could usefully be done at the present time. When the noble Lord last raised this question, I explained some of the reasons which have led the Government to the view that further publicity on this matter is unnecessary at the present time. I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that the criterion of publicity is its effectiveness, and that it is no use to bombard civilians with injunctions or appeals, whether on paper, through the Press or the wireless, which are read and put into the waste paper basket or the salvage basket or listened to and forgotten. No one can say that the danger of invasion is removed: it may again become an imminent possibility, and however optimistic the recent successes in North Africa may have made us, prudence demands that we should not neglect for one moment the defence of the home base. None the less, the public mind is concentrated on our recent successes in the offensive role and on the prospects of the continuance of this offensive.
For this reason the Government do not feel that this is the opportune moment to launch a campaign of publicity as to the duties of the civilian in the face of enemy invasion of this country, merely in order that those who may not have observed. or have forgotten, the doctrine laid down last June may be reminded of it. The noble Lord will, I am sure, agree that now that we have passed to the offensive and the whole nation is imbued with the offensive spirit, we should not wish our Allies or anyone else to think that we are unduly preoccupied with those defensive plans which it is of course our duty to render as complete as possible. I do not mean for one moment to suggest that the preparations against the possibility of invasion should not be continued. On the contrary, it is most important that these preparations should go on and that they should be so devised as to secure the fullest participation of the civil population if ever the need should arise. Nor do I mean to suggest that the Government are not prepared to give further publicity, if necessary, and at the proper time, not only to the question of the conduct of the citizen in invasion, but also to other matters concerned with invasion conditions upon which the civil population may have to be instructed.
I hope the noble Lord will accept my assurance that the Government are keeping this matter constantly under review, 525 and that they will not fail to give to the civil population such further instructions and guidance on the whole subject of invasion as may be necessary if and when the time comes. But he will, I hope, also agree that only the Government can decide when the moment is appropriate for any further instructions and guidance to be given, and the means by which it can most effectively be conveyed. I can certainly assure him that there is no intention on the part of the Government that anyone should, in a matter of such importance, be left in any sort of doubt as to what it is proper for him as a civilian to do in case of invasion. But, on the other hand, having already enunciated a clear doctrine on this subject, the Government do not feel that it is necessary to reiterate it in season and out of season. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not press his suggestion that further publicity on this subject should be undertaken now, to take its chance among the many other appeals and injunctions on behalf of the Government with which the citizen has to contend. The noble Lord will agree that they are very numerous. About the only other appeal which I think could possibly be launched in the future is one to breathe less air. But I hope the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, will be content to leave to the Government the question of the appropriate time and manner for securing that this, as well as other instructions appropriate to the possibility of invasion are conveyed to the public.
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
My Lords, the noble Duke has met me most fairly, and except for the momentary breeze over the question of the marking "Confidential," he has said that the Government are of one mind with me. Of course I accept that with much gratitude. But it is plain—and I say this especially to the Regional Commissioner who addressed us—that we should be so much safer and so much more capable of conducting offensive operations if every man knew how to shoot and also how to clear a hose at a fire. That nobody can dispute. I cannot pretend that I shall be satisfied until that very necessary training has been given. However, after the noble Duke's statement that the Government were of one mind with me in regard to what I have urged, I do not wish to press my Motion, and I therefore ask leave of your Lordships to withdraw it
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.