§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD WALERAN rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether they intend to send any further reinforcements to Hong Kong. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sure that every one of your Lordships will be as disturbed as I am about the future security of Hong Kong—that great possession of ours whose traffic and trade is, I think, second only to that of London River. I think it would be as well to assume that the Kuomintang Government is bound to fall in the end. If that happens, and the Chinese Communists take over the whole of China, Canton and the mainland round 542 there, it becomes necessary to consider what will happen to Hong Kong. Your Lordships may remember that quite recently the Chinese Communist General, Mao Tze Tung, is reported as having said that when his Government got into power they would "tear up all treacherous treaties that have been effected with Imperialistic nations," which will mean that we shall lose the Peninsula on which is Hong Kong's only aerodrome. I do not know whether the country realises that the aerodrome and the dockyards of Hong Kong are on the mainland, on territory that is leased to us and is not our possession, as Hong Kong island is. Your Lordships will also remember that in a debate in this House on foreign affairs a short time ago, the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, tried to make out a case that in the event of future wars this country and the Commonwealth will be stronger than ever before, because those wars will be fought in the air and we have bases all over the world. What I want to know, if noble Lords opposite and His Majesty's Government accept that theory, is what they are going to do about Hong Kong. I beg to ask the Question standing in my name.
§ 5.3 p.m.
My Lords, a very important question has been raised by the noble Lord, who, I believe, saw service in Hong Kong during the recent war and knows the country. I knew it in my earlier days—
Well, I knew it in my earlier days and I do not think it has changed geographically very much. I certainly remember a little about the problems of defence in Hong Kong. I entirely agree with what the noble Lord has said, that it is a place of vital importance and there is no question whatever of our giving it up unless we decide so to do by mutual agreement. We are certainly not going to be forced out of our own Colony. I think I speak for every member of the Labour Party, here and in the other place and in the country, in saying that we are not going to be, forced out against our will. That is common ground and we need have no argument about it. To hold Hong Kong 543 it is necessary to hold the perimeter of hills which surround the hinterland of the leased territory of Kowloon, where one finds the airfield and the docks. As the recent war showed, unless we can keep any person desirous of attacking Hong Kong island away from the perimeter of hills on the mainland—they were not held against the Japanese—we cannot hold the island. We had not enough troops to hold those hills against the Japanese and Hong Kong fell.
That brings me to the point about which I have written to the Colonial Office. I am sorry to hear from my noble friend, Lord Hall, that by some mischance—perhaps I did not write in early enough—he has not received my notice, but I have talked to him about it. The point is vital to the whole question. The only way to get an army big enough to hold that perimeter is by recruiting an army of loyal Chinese fellow citizens in Hong Kong. Our failure to do the same thing in Malaya in the recent war led to its loss. Singapore need never have fallen. There were enough Chinese in Malaya, if we had armed and organised them, to have "eaten" the Japanese army which came in. We should have followed the more courageous policy of recruiting those magnificent Chinese troops. The Chinese are very good soldiers. I had the honour of seeing a little service with the Wei Hai Wei Regiment in Shantung. It was one of the finest units in the British Army, and during the Boxer trouble they never wavered. They are completely loyal. We kept fifty or sixty Hong Kong Chinese in every large warship. They were engaged as stewards and cooks and in posts of that sort, and they were everywhere with us and gave no cause for anxiety.
I am sure none of your Lordships would suggest that we could not trust our fellow subjects to defend their own territory, but if it is suggested, then there must be something wrong with our administration, because they are British subjects, and if we can trust Africans in East and West Africa, and also in the West Indies to make such magnificent soldiers, we ought to be able to do the same with the Chinese. I say that the Chinese make good soldiers when properly led. General Gordon proved that, and everyone who 544 has had anything to do with them knows it well. In the Burma campaign they served as our allies and we were very glad of their help.
Defence, I suggest, is nevertheless not the real crux of the question. On that particular matter I must say a word or two. Everyone who knows China and the Chinese must be sorry for them. They are a people of many great qualities who have had no real peace since the fall of the Manchu dynasty in the Kuomintang revolution of 1910. There has been chaos, with very few peaceful intervals, during the whole time since. They have suffered from the Japanese invasions and their own civil wars. And these diligent, hardy, industrious people have never had a real chance for the last forty years. Now we have this tremendous event of the Communist overthrow of the Nationalist Government and the Kuomintang Party. It is one of the greatest events of our time. As the noble Lord has suggested, perhaps even South China may go to the Communists. It is an event comparable to the October, 1917, Revolution in Russia, and it may have as far-reaching results.
What should be our action and attitude? As I have said, everybody who knows China and the Chinese must feel sorry for them, with the chaos and disorder that is bound to be the immediate result of this tremendous upheaval. Hong Kong remains, for the time being, the one area of safety and good order in that vast country; and for that reason I would have thought the Chinese themselves would have been glad to see our Administration operating there. What should be our general attitude? I have already said (I think with the support of my colleagues, and I am sure I speak for the Labour Movement throughout the country) that we are not going to be forced out. But, at the same time, I do not see why we should necessarily adopt an attitude of hostility to the new régime in China. They have to trade with the rest of the world, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Waleran, has pointed out, Hong Kong is one of the great ports of the world—indeed I am not sure if it is not correct to say that at one time it held the world record for clearances. It is of vital importance to China that Hong Kong should be an outlet and an inlet for commerce.
545 I do not know, of course, what is going to happen. The information that I get from those who do know the present situation is that this new régime in China will wish to be on friendly terms with this country. We, fortunately, have not committed ourselves so seriously as our American friends to the support of the Kuomintang. The British have always had an excellent name in China. British commerce was dominant there until recent years and is still of the greatest importance. British banking and commercial methods are appreciated and admired by the Chinese. The Chinese and the British have always got on well together, and I do not see why that state of affairs should not continue. I understand that the British commercial communities in Tientsin, Shanghai and elsewhere hope to be allowed to remain and carry on. I understand that the new administration are trying to reassure foreigners that they can continue their lawful commerce. I sincerely hope that that may be the case. I am not too optimistic about it, but, at the same time, I think it would be a mistake to take a too pessimistic view of China's position, and to imagine that a sort of Iron Curtain is going to be lowered around the borders and coasts of that great country. That I believe to be wrong.
I hope that the British commercial flag will continue to fly on the Yangtse River and in the great ports of China, and that Britons will continue to trade and do business with those magnificent people. Their form of Government is their own affair. The ordinary people have been through a terrible time. I can well imagine the ordinary farmer, the ordinary workman and the ordinary student, being only too glad to see a new Government and hoping for the best. I trust, therefore, that the advisers of His Majesty's Government will look at this matter with the greatest care and diligence. I hope that, while showing the utmost regard for our undoubted legal rights, they will not at the same time automatically take up an attitude of hostility to the new régime.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I feel that recent tragic events in Malaya and Burma have tended to overshadow what has been happening in China and Hong Kong. I am, therefore, grateful to my noble friend Lord Waleran for having raised this important matter to-day. My 546 fear is not so much that voiced in the Press of late of an all-out attack from the mainland against Hong Kong, as of a repetition in Hong Kong of the events we have recently seen in Malaya—that is, trouble stirred up by unfriendly elements in Hong Kong itself. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that a complete change has now come over our whole strategic concept in the Pacific. I hope that His Majesty's Government have now had the opportunity of examining an appreciation made by General Mac-Arthur entitled Strategic implications of Recent Developments in China, which was submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington in, I think, November. That clearly shows how very seriously the American position and our position has altered for the worse in the Far East. There has been announced recently the despatch of the 2/6 Gurkhas from Malaya to Hong Kong. That is a very welcome sign that His Majesty's Government are aware of what is going on. But it is wrong, I think, to describe that as a "reinforcement" as I have seen it described in the Press. It is merely the replacement of the First Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers which went from Hong Kong to Malaya in the spring of last year.
In my view, what is required more than anything else is not reinforcement or replacement of troops, aeroplanes or ships, but a reinforcement of confidence in Hong Kong. We have more than once in this House reaffirmed (and I was happy to hear the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi repeat it to-day) our firm intention not to be jostled, jockeyed or talked out of Hong Kong without a shot being fired. We know that is the feeling here at home; but has that intention been made clear enough in China and Hong Kong? Shall we not learn the lesson of Malaya and not take the necessary steps too late? We must not find ourselves forced into an untenable position through our own failure to take precautions now, when we have the chance. I wish I could agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi that the Government of China is now the affair of the ordinary Chinese. I should think very few of the ordinary Chinese have had any say in what is going on in China now.
The question which I wish to ask the noble Lord who is to reply on behalf of the Government—and I have given 547 him notice of it—is, what progress is being made in re-arming, re-equipping and training the volunteer forces in Hong Kong? My information is that little or no progress is being made, and the reason I believe is that we treated these volunteers so shabbily before the war that recruits are now reluctant to come forward. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to contradict this, and to say that all is now going well. Also I hope that he will be able to state categorically, as he has been asked to do by the two previous speakers, that we have no intention whatever of yielding to force, trickery, or political bribery in Hong Kong, but that we intend to stay there and support the citizens of Hong Kong with all the determination and strength we can.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF KIRTLESIDE
My Lords, my only excuse for rising to my feet on this occasion is that two weeks ago I was in Hong Kong. I had the opportunity while there of driving round the Leased Territory and of talking to the Governor and the Service commanders there about the situation. I am bound to say that I came away feeling somewhat anxious. I do not say that there is any cause for immediate alarm or despondency, but it seemed to me that we were rather thin on the ground and in the air there, or that we might be if the worst should happen in China and a new Chinese Government decided that they were going to try to take steps to make Hong Kong Chinese, which I gather is the avowed policy at any rate of the present Nationalist Government, and I dare say may be the policy of the Communist Government which will probably take over in due course.
It seems to me that there are two possible threats. The one is to internal security—that is, not and sabotage coming from within—and the other an incursion from outside across the border into the Leased Territory, which might be a full scale invasion or might be merely an effort on the part of those gangs of bandits which even at the present time come across at night and make trouble for us there. It struck me that the garrison of land forces there was barely sufficient for that internal security problem, and that if anything else was liable to 548 occur our land forces should be substantially reinforced.
However that may be, what I want to talk about mainly to-day is the matter of the Air Force. We have there only one rather indifferent aerodrome, which, as has been already pointed out, is in the Leased Territory at Kaitak. That aerodrome is primarily given over to civil aviation, and the only air force there at the moment is a flying boat squadron which does not, of course, use the aerodrome. The aerodrome is not particularly satisfactory, and has been made even less satisfactory by the somewhat extraordinary action of the Hong Kong Administration in allowing the Chinese National Air Corporation to go into Hong Kong, lock, stock and barrel, with the result that an already congested air strip is even more congested now, both on the ground and in the air. Therefore, any question of getting in air reinforcements is made more difficult by this rather extraordinary step which has been taken. Apart from anything else, it seems to me that we shall be placed in an awkward position if and when the Communist Government take over and they find that their national civil air instrument has found an asylum in British territory in Hong Kong. However, that is not quite germane to the discussion to-day, except in so far as it makes the possibility of getting in our air reinforcements, if they are required, that much more difficult.
After I left Hong Kong, I went to Singapore and had a series of talks with the Service Commanders-in-Chief there, who, of course, are responsible for Hong Kong. If it is a case of reinforcing Hong Kong, the Commanders-in-Chief at Singapore are the people who will have to do it. They are not particularly worried and have the situation in hand, and no doubt (though I did not question them on this point) they have their reinforcement plans. But I wonder whether, with the present situation in Malaya, if an emergency did arise, they would be able to spare troops and aircraft to reinforce Hong Kong. So this is the question that I would like to ask the noble Viscount when he replies: Whether he is satisfied that we can cope with two things at once—the situation in Malaya, which I understand is likely to persist for possibly nine months, and a possible emergency in Hong Kong? And where are the troops 549 and aircraft coming from to cope with both those threats at the same time?
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, I think my noble friend Lord Waleran has done a great service in raising this debate this afternoon. I find myself in full agreement with almost everything that has been said from every quarter of the House. I must confess that I have never been to Hong Kong, and I am no expert upon it, but I hope I may be forgiven for saying one or two words on what has been raised in the debate so far. As the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said, we have in Hong Kong one area in China which is an area of safety, and one port in China which it is possible to use in a big way for British trade. But at the same time it presents us with a difficult defence problem. The Island of Hong Kong itself is no good without the Kowloon Peninsula. The Peninsula has on it the present aerodrome, though I understand that there is a possibility of a new aerodrome being constructed in the same area. Therefore, to hold Hong Kong on the ground, which we might have to do, we must be prepared to man a very large perimeter in comparison with the small area of territory to be defended. Yet that is just the thing which will prove not easy.
Let me agree straight away with those of my noble friends, including the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, who said that the one thing wanted out there—and from what I know I am sure that this is right—is a clear statement from the Government that there is no intention of letting Hong Kong down. Such a statement would give the people out there the confidence necessary to get on with their job. It would be easy to make a statement of that sort this afternoon but, as I have said, the implementing of that statement might not be quite so easy. May I spend a moment or two in saying a word about that? As the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, said, there are two distinct problems: one the defence of Hong Kong from outside, and the other the maintenance of internal security or, to put it in plain English, the keeping of order. I do not think that since the war—and perhaps since before the war—we have been very good at keeping order. If we do not take these steps in Hong Kong to nip 550 disorder in the bud—and I am talking about disorder organised by the Communists—we shall have a repetition of what we have had in other parts of the world, where we have allowed matters to drift until we find a major problem on our hands—as if we were not content with the major problem we have in Malaya. For these reasons, it seems to me a necessity that efforts should be made to encourage confidence, not merely by ministerial statements but also by practical steps.
These steps will involve three different things. First of all, there is the immediate question, which my noble friend Lord Waleran raised: Have we enough reinforcements? I should judge that the Regular troops, our Navy at call and the Royal Air Force, are not enough to do more than guarantee internal security and, therefore, as the noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, said, reinforcements must be at call. I should doubt very much whether it is possible for the Commanders-in-Chief at Singapore to have reinforcements at call unless they fall into the common error—more common politically than militarily—of counting reserves more than once. And that is what will probably happen, unless some steps are taken to have reinforcements at call there. The second question is that of police, which no one has mentioned. I should like to ask the noble Viscount who is to reply whether he is satisfied that the police in Hong Kong are in good heart, up to strength and equipped with modern equipment—radios and so on—which police are now expected to have.
The third question is the defence forces. So far as I can recollect, we had in Hong Kong before the war a white volunteer force; I do not think (though I may be wrong) that we ever had a Chinese defence force. If I am right in the rough calculation I have made about the defence of the Peninsula of Kowloon, it seems to me that there is not the slightest prospect of providing for the defence of that Peninsula unless we take steps to raise local defence forces in Hong Kong. I ask the noble Viscount what assurance he can give about the steps which are being taken now to organise defence forces, to include both British residents in Hong Kong and native Chinese. I would add, and I think noble Lords in all parts of the House will agree, that the organisa 551 tion, equipment and proper training of a defence force would give immense confidence in the Colony. In reinforcing what my noble friends have said, I particularly want to make the point that the chief way, and the right way, to handle this position is to see that those in authority in Hong Kong are put in a state to nip trouble in the bud, and that the situation does not drift on until we reach a state of affairs in which Communist refugees and defeated soldiers come to the gates of Hong Kong while we are still in the planning stage.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes. The debate has taken a different turn from what I expected, as the Motion is about reinforcements, but I feel that the debate has been most useful. On the main theme of the Question—what reinforcements are the Government sending to Hong Kong—I would say that I think that the supply of reinforcements is the basis of the success of any plan to make Hong Kong secure. It is a mistake to take one small outlying part of the Empire and talk about how we are to defend it. Important as that spot is (and Hong Kong is vitally important) I believe that it is a mistake for the Government to take that point in isolation. I feel that we shall have many more of these points, and if we are going to take them in isolation it is going to be difficult.
The first thing is to fix the size of the forces to deal with the main danger to this country—namely, Russia—as we did in the past in relation to Germany. When we have decided what to do with these forces, they can be used to deal with odd jobs, as was done in the past in Aden, in Somaliland, in Iraq and in other places. Already I have heard rumours that there have been three or four what used to be called in my day "expeditions," which have been nipped in the bud—the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, used that phrase. We should be ready to nip these difficulties in the bud. It was done in days past and published to the world, but now it seems to me that it is kept secret. To come back to my main point, we must first settle the main defence forces, and then leave it to the Chiefs of Staff and 552 the Government to decide what should be done with them.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (VISCOUNT HALL)
My Lords, I am grateful for the way in which noble Lords have approached this very important and delicate question. I wish all the speeches were as short as that of the noble Lord, Lord Waleran. In a short but very effective speech, he said all that was necessary to be said on this question in about two sentences. I agree with what has been said by all noble Lords who have taken part in what I might almost call an interrogation, rather than a debate. They have stressed the importance of Hong Kong. I think the main purpose of the speeches is to secure a declaration from the Government as to their intentions. I can but repeat an assurance which was given by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in a debate in another place which took place on foreign affairs as recently as December 10, 1948.
Quite apart from several questions which arose in relation to Europe, a number of questions were raised concerning territories outside Europe. My right honourable friend referred to Hong Kong, and said:I think there is no need to make any formal or long statement. I will merely state that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to maintain their position in Hong Kong.I do not think anything more categorical than that is required. But my right honourable friend went on to say:We entirely appreciate the importance of Hong Kong as described by the right honourable gentleman. Indeed, we feel that in this particularly troubled situation the value and importance of Hong Kong as a centre of stability will be greater than ever.I feel that that statement answers the main points which have been raised by noble Lords this afternoon.
His Majesty's Government fully understand the great interest which not only your Lordships but Members in another place are taking in the defence of the Colony of Hong Kong, but I am sure noble Lords realise that considerations of security must dictate the extent to which His Majesty's Government can give detailed information of their plans and intentions. Both the Minister of Defence and the Colonial Secretary made it quite 553 clear, in answer to questions in another place, that, while security arrangements in Hong Kong are receiving constant attention, it would be contrary to the public interest to make a statement regarding all the precautionary measures which are being taken. Noble Lords, therefore, will understand that, in the circumstances, I can do no more than reply solely to the questions of detail which have been put. I can assure the noble Lord who asked this Question that His Majesty's Government have constantly in mind the necessity for ensuring the defence of Hong Kong, and every aspect of the changing situation in the Far East, and will take all practical measures for the defence of this Colony.
Reference has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, to the question of recruitment. I am glad to be able to say that recruiting is proceeding, and to assure noble Lords that the Governor is fully seized with the importance of making a success of the recruiting drive. Every endeavour is being made to provide the forces required, both from Europeans and from the Chinese resident in the Colony. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that it is necessary to recruit as many Chinese as possible in defence of this territory. There are, of course, limitations. The expansion of the forces will depend on accommodation, and other matters, which are being looked into. The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, referred to a report by General Mac-Arthur to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington on the strategic implication of the developments in China, and asked whether His Majesty's Government had had the opportunity of studying it in relation to conditions in Hong Kong. I am afraid that we have not had that opportunity. I would, however, assure the noble Lord that there is a close and cordial relationship between His Majesty's Government and the Chiefs of Staff in this country and the Chiefs of Staff in America. Any question of vital importance to the safety of any British territory in the Far East would, of course, be brought to the notice of His Majesty's Government through those channels.
The noble Lord, Lord Douglas, has asked about air facilities at Hong Kong. It is interesting to note that he was there as recently as a fortnight ago. From 554 information which we have received, those who are responsible for the safety of Hong Kong—which includes those responsible for the air strength—do not take quite as pessimistic a view of the situation as the noble Lord does. I have been assured that the existing facilities, and the services at the airfield there, are regarded as being adequate for the defence of Hong Kong. I cannot go into the matter any further than that. That is information which we have received even more recently than the visit of my noble friend to Hong Kong.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, put a question about internal dissension and difficulties, and said that he trusted the strength of the police force was being maintained. I remember some three years ago, after the re-occupation of Hong Kong, we began to build up a very substantial police forced based upon what I would regard as one of the finest police forces in the world, the Metropolitan Police Force. A number of persons were sent out from this country, and from the angle of efficiency I do not think that force could be bettered. I was not so satisfied about numbers, but I think it can be said that the force is up to strength except for a few officers who are at present in this country. The members of the force are of good heart and, so far as we are aware, are supplied with the most modem equipment.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
No doubt the noble Viscount will satisfy himself as to whether they are supplied with modern equipment or not.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
I am assured from information I have just had handed to me, and I trust the noble Viscount will have as much confidence in that information as I am giving to it myself.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
The noble Viscount said, "So far as I am aware, they have the most modern equipment." I would like to feel that His Majesty's Government are satisfied.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
I am informed that this information was received from the Governor, who is responsible for the police force and, indeed, to some extent, responsible for the defence of the Colony. I trust noble Lords will not press me further in relation to any of the detailed questions, because I am sure they fully understand the delicacy of the situation 555 and realise how important it is that dispositions in relation to any of the Services should not be disclosed in a situation such as that with which we are faced.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, this is a subject of such importance that I should like to add a word or two. The debate has been short but important, and in the case of every speech which has been delivered it has been carried on with a deep sense of responsibility and, as I think the noble Viscount the First Lord has agreed, with wise discretion. I want to say only one or two things. In the first place, the noble Viscount needs no assurance that everyone is behind him in the firmest declaration of intention to hold Hong Kong as an absolutely key position. On that we are all at one. I certainly would not press him to disclose any details. What is on the spot discloses itself; what is in reserve he is, of course, right not to disclose, and what his immediate plans are I think he is also right not to disclose. I agree very largely with what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, in his happy birthday speech—and we are delighted that he should make a speech upon his birthday—that this must be part of the overall plan. But I do not think I go quite all the way with him in saying that if we are right here in what is the metropolitan defence—or, putting it wider, the defence of Western Europe—it necessarily makes us right in Hong Kong. I think Hong Kong has an importance of its own. If we ever get into trouble it will certainly come in as part of an overall plan, and, therefore, it must fall into our own overall plan.
The situation has greatly deteriorated since the debate last December, to which the First Lord referred. We may be face to face sooner or later—and probably sooner than later—with a completely Communist China. It does not follow that that necessarily lands us in immediate and acute difficulties in Hong Kong. But we shall be much less likely to encounter any difficulties, diplomatically or otherwise, now that it has been made abundantly plain that we are in Hong Kong and that we will stay in Hong Kong. I would just add this, without seeking to pry into what the plans are. If trouble 556 should start, it will not start in isolation. If trouble comes in one place, it will also come in another, and we would not be able to rely upon having one part of the Far East pacific and without trouble while we dealt with another part of the Far East. That, I think, is axiomatic of the tactics of to-day.
I am glad the noble Viscount has said as much as he has about the measures which will be taken on the spot, particularly with regard to the recruiting of the local defence force. I am sure that is right, and I sincerely hope that, not only will recruiting go forward successfully, but that equipment will keep pace with recruiting. If a defence force are armed with up-to-date weapons, they feel it is worth while and that they are something of importance. To avoid the sort of trouble which can be so easily fomented, particularly in a teeming population, apart from the wise security measures which I feel sure the Government are taking—and they have plenty of experience in this—a great deal will depend upon confidence: whether the people on the spot have confidence in themselves and in His Majesty's Government. I am sure that His Majesty's Government have every intention of doing the right thing, but how the people on the spot, upon whom we shall have to rely a great deal, react to that, will depend upon what impression is given to them. Therefore, I most sincerely hope that a high priority and a keen and active interest will be taken in the raising, the equipping and the training of these forces. I am glad we have had this debate. It has enabled the Government to make a statement which is perfectly clear in its intention. It has enabled us to show that the whole House and, indeed, the whole country is behind that statement, and I hope it will contribute to the confidence and encouragement of the people of that part of the world.
§ Brought from the Commons; read 1a; and to be printed.