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Foreign Affairs

Volume 343: debated on Tuesday 31 January 1939

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Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[ Captain Margesson.]

4.15 p.m.

I made a request to the Prime Minister for an early reassembling of the House in order to discuss the Spanish question. The Prime Minister was unable to accede to my desire, but we have asked to-day for a Debate on this subject because we believe it is one of profound importance and one which is disturbing the minds of a vast number of people in this country. I believe, first of all, that there is a growing disturbance in the minds of the people of this country at the unmerited sufferings of the women and children of Spain, sufferings through aerial bombardment, through hunger, and all the incidents which necessarily accompany the driving out of large populations from their homes. I believe, secondly, that there is a growing appreciation in this country of the vital importance of the Spanish trouble to the future of liberty and democracy in the world. I believe that more and more people, who at first were inclined to look on this matter as a purely Spanish question, are coming to understand the importance of the Spanish struggle in the general European situation, the dangerous results which may follow from this prolonged intervention by continental Powers in the affairs of the Peninsula and the repercussions which they may have on the security of this country and the security of France.

We have had to-day an account by the Prime Minister of his visit to Italy. That visit took place at a time when the Italian Government were openly and actively intervening in the Spanish struggle. The Prime Minister told us that Signor Mussolini expressed his willingness at all times to intervene in favour of peace. The people of this country are more impressed by the fact that for the last two and a half years he has been intervening in war. The Prime Minister said that they expressed their regret at the tension between France and Italy. That tension has been caused by a campaign of almost unexampled violence in the Italian Press carried on before the Prime Minister's visit, slackened slightly during his visit and rising again directly the Prime Minister's visit had ended. This visit, of which the Prime Minister has told us to-day, seems to have accomplished nothing whatever. The only thing of value was to show that there was a feeling in Italy among the masses of the people that they desired better relations with the British people. We, too, on this side desire better relations between the peoples. As far as the conversations between the statesmen went, there seems to have been nothing which came out of them which was not known before, and nothing effective was done. But the point which strikes us is that throughout these conversations the real vital matter was not discussed, namely, the question of what is occurring now in Spain and the campaign which Signor Mussolini is carrying on there, although all the time his Government is a member of the Nonintervention Committee.

The Prime Minister made a speech the other day in Birmingham in which he reviewed the world situation. It was very remarkable that there was no allusion to the Spanish question beyond an oblique reference to General Franco, no allusion to the sufferings of the Spanish people, and no allusion whatever to the fact that a war has been carried on there for two and a half years with ever increasing aggressive action by two of the great Powers of Europe. I think the Prime Minister will find that there is a growing feeling of disgust at the attitude taken by the British Government throughout the whole of this struggle. When we debated the Non-intervention Agreement the Prime Minister reiterated his conviction of the good faith and good will of Signor Mussolini. He has returned from Italy with that conviction strengthened. It is difficult to see on what facts his conviction is based. I have seen no solitary instance of conspicuous good faith by the government of Italy, and although we have assurances, constant assurances, we never have any performance. On every occasion when the matter of the relations of this country and Italy have come up, from both sides of the House the point has been made that we ought to have some definite action, and not merely depend on words. When we debated this on 2nd November the Prime Minister said that we had assurances from Signor Mussolini that all remaining Italian forces were being withdrawn when the Non-intervention Plan came into operation. It has not come into operation, and when we ask why it has not come into operation we are told that it is because General Franco will not accept it.

Apparently, General Franco has a veto on the whole proceedings of the Non-Intervention Committee. The Government of Spain has no such veto. The Government of Spain has withdrawn all the volunteers. [HON. MEMBERS: "No," and "Yes."] Some people say "No," but I prefer to take the verdict of the League of Nations Inquiry. There is nothing whatever to prevent Signor Mussolini withdrawing his troops from Spain whether General Franco likes it or not. They are of no use to him unless they are fighting on his side. It is more a matter of the will of Signor Mussolini. Secondly, we had an assurance that no further troops would be sent to Spain; that compensatory air forces would not be sent to Spain to replace the 10,000 men who were withdrawn. He called this a considerable contribution to the elimination of the Spanish question as a menace to peace. There is abundant evidence that Italian forces and munitions sent to Spain have, to say the least of it, been kept up to strength. We are getting lots of curious interpretations of phrases in regard to this Spanish matter. We have heard a great deal of "settlement in Spain," and what that might mean. It might mean that the sending of reinforcements to replace casualties is not considered to be sending further troops to Spain. But there is not the slightest doubt that in the last few months very considerable forces have been sent to Spain. On 14th December the Undersecretary of State admitted that there had been forces sent, and he said that they did not mean more than replacements. Replacements, in view of the heavy fighting going on, means a very large body of troops. In fact, during the last two months there has been an ever increasing pressure from Italy with the avowed object of winning the war for General Franco. All attempts to minimise the Italian contribution to the offensive in Catalonia is merely absurd in view of the declaration made in Italy itself. There are the statements made by Signor Mussolini and by General Franco. You have telegrams exchanged:
"At this moment, when the imperishable comradeship of blood has once again stood the decisive test, I send you, together with my greetings, my most earnest wishes for the future of your people."
That is Signor Mussolini, and General Franco said:
"I am proud to number among my troops the magnificent Blackshirts who at the side of their Spanish comrades have written these glorious pages in the fight against international communism."
We have, in fact, in full action a corps of four divisions—one completely Italian, and the other three having large proportions of Italian troops. In that corps of four divisions more than half the casualties are Italian, and on the top of that the General is promoted for his services by Signor Mussolini. The fall of Barcelona is hailed as a great Italian victory; the determination to ensure the victory of General Franco is openly avowed, and was, as a matter of fact, accepted by the Prime Minister as the basis of his talks with Signor Mussolini. Perhaps he will tell us whether he ever raised that matter. After all, he was visiting a co-signatory to the Non-intervention Agreement. Two non-interventionists met. They surely did not part, without discussing a matter of such mutual interest to them both? I am sure that the Prime Minister told Signor Mussolini exactly what we mean by non-intervention. I understand that the conversations were extremely frank, and I think we ought to know what Signor Mussolini said in reply. But, really, in face of the facts, is it not ridiculous to try and maintain that you have anything here but intervention on a large scale? I am not concerned in denying that there has been some intervention on the side of the Government of Spain. Arms have been sent and there have been foreign volunteers, but they were never sent by their Governments; and they have been withdrawn. The result of the whole of this one-sided non-intervention has undoubtedly meant giving an enormous preponderance in material to General Franco.

You have only to read the figures given in the French newspaper "Le Temps," which has generally been on the side of General Franco, describing the scarcity of munitions on the side of the Spanish Republic—apparently in artillery it is one to nine, in anti-tank guns one to 20, and in machine-guns one to five—and the enormous preponderance of foreign airmen in the prisoners taken by the Republicans, to realise the immense force that has been put at the disposal of General Franco as compared with the mere trickle of munitions that has gone through to the Republican side. Undoubtedly, the non-intervention system has worked in a one-sided direction. I am amazed by the indifference of the Prime Minister to the fate of the British plan for the withdrawal of volunteers. When I recall the Debates in the House, the enthusiasm for the plan, and how we were told that it was a great triumph to have formulated the plan and to have got agreement on it, I am amazed that the Prime Minister allows the plan to be defeated just because it does not suit General Franco. Ever since we found that non-intervention was a sham, we have demanded that the Spanish Government should be given their rights under international law, and the Government have steadfastly refused; and they have refused on one basis only, namely, that if there were not non-intervention, there would be a widening of the struggle that might lead to a general European conflict. Only the other day, when I again put forward that demand, the Prime Minister made the same excuse. But that is not what he said last November, for then he stated:
"If the nations of Europe escaped a great catastrophe in the acute Czechoslovakian crisis, surely nobody can imagine that, with that recollection fresh in their minds, they are going to knock their heads together over Spain. In my own mind I am perfectly clear that the Spanish question is no longer a menace to the peace of Europe."
That was the right hon. Gentleman's view in November. Apparently the Spanish question is not a menace to the peace of Europe when the Prime Minister wants to go and make friends with Signor Mussolini, but it remains a menace if anybody wants justice for the Spanish Government. Will the Prime Minister explain just what is the difference between the situation to-day and the situation when he spoke in November? Will he explain why he again replied to me that the raising of the non-intervention plan might lead to war in January, whereas in November last he said that the Spanish question was not a menace to the peace of Europe? Will he also tell us why the continued intervention of Signor Mussolini is not likely to lead to a spreading of the conflict, whereas if anybody says "Arms for the Republic," it is likely to lead to a spreading of the conflict? In the same speech to which I have referred, the Prime Minister went on to make the following remark:
"In the realm of foreign affairs one thing generally leads to another."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1938; col. 2110, Vol. 340.]
That is a profound truth. Manchuria led to Abyssinia, and Abyssinia to Spain. The reoccupation of the Rhineland led to the occupation of Austria, and the occupation of Austria to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. The chain of events does not stop there. Successful aggression in Abyssinia leads to a demand for Jibuti and a share in the Suez Canal. Successful intervention in Spain leads to a demand for Tunis and perhaps Corsica. Successes in Central Europe may lead to other demands. One thing leads to another. Every acquiescence in aggression leads to more aggression, and every acquiescence in wrong leads to more wrong. Every acquiescence in the bombing of British ships leads to the bombing of more British ships. Every breach of international law leads to more infractions and every retreat leads to another retreat. The action of the British Government throughout the whole of the Spanish conflict, with the solitary exception of the Nyon Agreement, has been a definite encouragement to aggression and breaches of faith. Why should General Franco stop bombing British ships when he knows that nothing will happen if he continues?

I would like to ask a specific question with regard to that matter. As long ago as last February, the Government sent a note to the Burgos authorities stating that His Majesty's Government reserved to themselves the right without any further notice to take such retaliatory action in the event of a recurrence of these attacks as might be required by or be appropriate to the particular case. That arose out of an attack made on a British vessel on the high seas and outside the three-mile limit. On 19th January, the "Stanbrook" was attacked by aircraft seven or eight miles out at sea. What action has been taken, or what action is contemplated, in regard to that attack?

But the point is this. Why should Signor Mussolini cease to intervene in Spain when his active intervention leads to a further visit from the Prime Minister? Signor Mussolini knows that whatever he does, it makes no difference to the British Government's attitude. Why should he keep faith? The Prime Minister's conviction does not rest on facts; it is pure faith. Here one touches the essential vice of the Prime Minister's attitude. The whole of the people of this country desire peace. Nothing could be more stupid than to say that this or that section seeks a war, or would be willing lightly to be involved in war; but to announce generally to the world that war is such a terrible thing that anybody can do anything they like and count us out, is not the way to promote peace. I suggest that William Pitt, to whom the Prime Minister referred in his speech the other day, hardly ever, if ever—I think never—took that line. But that is precisely what the Prime Minister does. When any suggestion is made from this side that the Non-intervention Agreement should be carried out, the right hon. Gentleman says "If you do anything of that kind, it may lead to a general conflict." To follow that line is, in effect, to give a carte blanche to other Powers to do exactly as they please. For many years this country had a policy by which it refused to enter into definite commitments on the Continent. Whether it was a wise policy, or an unwise policy, it was a policy that was carried out for very many years; but it never took the line of making a negative commitment, of saying that whatever happens this country can never take any action. That is the vice of the policy of unilateral appeasement; and however much the right hon. Gentleman may try to deny it, that is the line he takes.

We claim that the Spanish Republic, which is not defeated, has the right to receive arms. The only possible excuse for taking that right away from them would have been if it was to be applied strictly on both sides. No one pretends that is being done; no one suggests that there is not active intervention in Spain. It may be that some will say, "In existing circumstances, even if that right were restored to the Spanish Government, they would not get any more arms than now." If that be so, to give the right could not lead to the general conflict which the right hon. Gentleman fears. On the other hand, if it is not so, then clearly we are weighting the dice against the Spanish Government all the time. The sufferings of the Spanish people have called forth an immense amount of sympathy for them in this country, and I would like the Government to be doing more than they are doing on behalf of the men, women and children in the devastated areas of Spain. It would be easy to stir the emotions of the House by giving the reports of eyewitnesses as to what has happened in Barcelona and in Catalonian territory generally, to say nothing of other parts of Spain. No one can read unmoved the stories of the flight, in winter time, of this hapless, hungry population. I would like the Government to do a great deal more for these people, especially when we read that in their retreat they were subjected to attack from the air.

I have stressed the point that whatever General Franco does, nothing ever happens, so that there is no incentive for him to desist from his actions, whether directed against British ships, British men, or against unarmed civilians. We have had reports on the bombing of undefended cities; have any steps been taken with regard to that matter? It is true that, whatever the Spanish Government do, it is never of any help to them. They sent away all the foreign volunteers, anticipating the British plan; but they never had any acknowledgment of that, and it had no effect whatever on the Prime Minister's attitude. Whatever consent they may give, and however loyal they may be, there is no acknowledgment.

There is a growing feeling in this country that the Government have made up their mind that they want General Franco to win, that non-intervention throughout has been a sham, and that what the Government have done has been to give a free hand to the enemies of the Republic. But I think there is to-day a growing recognition of the dangers of the policy of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has been assured by the Italian Government that they seek no territorial acquisitions in Spain, and that they will withdraw their troops at the end of hostilities. Does that mean very much in these days? One can get control over a country nowadays without making territorial acquisitions. If a Government is in dependence on another Power, it is quite unnecessary for that Power to occupy the territory.

I believe that many people in this country are realising that if Spain became a mere dependency of the Axis Powers, the strategic consequences to this country and to France would be very serious. Let it be remembered that those strategic consequences are being pointed out with the utmost frankness in the Italian Press. Statements are made that now France is being cut off from her overseas possessions, that Italian ships will hold the seas, that the way through Spain will be closed, that pressure will be brought to bear on France and that once again, France will have three frontiers to defend. If General Franco wins, he will have won through German and Italian aid. There is already very great Italian and German penetration in Spain. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) asked a question with regard to the arms sent to Vigo. There have been many questions with regard to air forces along the Pyrenees. There is there a threat to France, and a threat to this country, too. The distance from the north coast of Spain to the south coast of Britain is not too far for aircraft.

However much you may believe that Herr Hitler sincerely wishes peace, and we all hope that he may wish for peace, the fact remains that the Prime Minister thinks it necessary, in view of the dangers of the situation, to urge this country to arm more and more and the position in the Spanish Peninsula is a factor of immense importance in estimating any potential grouping of the great Powers of Europe. We have to face that situation to-day because, under the leadership of the National Government, the League of Nations system has been thrown over altogether. We are back in a world of armed anarchy. But I would like the House to consider for a moment what, in the event of any hostilities, a hostile Spain would mean to this country, to our trade routes through the Mediterranean, to our trade routes through the Atlantic, through the menace not only from submarines but also from the air? What would have been the effect upon our people—there are many in the House who will be able to tell us—if we had had a completely hostile Spain during the last Great War? It is worth while remembering that just those elements which back General Franco, backed the Central Powers in the last War, and that just those elements which back the Spanish Republic, were the friends of this country and kept Spain neutral.

The Prime Minister was describing the other day at a banquet the powerful additions made to the British Fleet in the last year or two, but these would be entirely offset if the axis Powers were given a strategic advantage on the Spanish Peninsula, just as all the exertions of the Secretary of State for Air and the Secretary of State for War have been offset by the disappearance of Czechoslovakia. The Prime Minister believes that time is on our side in this race in armaments which we are in now and which is the direct result of the policy of the National Government. I say that the strategic position of this country has been worsening year by year. Quite apart from what are called ideological conceptions, an independent Spain is vital to the safety of France and of this country. I cannot understand the delusion which imagines that if General Franco wins, with Italian and German aid, he immediately become independent. I think that is a ridiculous proposition. I believe that the Spanish Republic has, in fact, been fighting the battle of democracy and freedom against aggression. I believe that resistance in Spain has warded off a crisis which might have come to us. I believe that all the time we have played the ignominous part of holding the hands of Spain while she was attacked by an aggressor and preventing her defending herself. I do not believe that the Spanish people are conquered. I believe that they can yet be victorious. But we do demand that this country should cease the hypocritical farce of non-intervention, and restore to the Spanish Government that right which is theirs inherently as the Government of a sovereign State.

4.50 p.m.

In the observations which have just been made by the Leader of the Opposition he has confined himself to a single topic, the topic of Spain, varied only by a few acid comments upon the visit to Rome, from which I derived the impression that the right hon. Gentleman was against it. As regards Spain, he touched upon two aspects of the conflict there. One of them was concerned with the matter of general policy. On that, of course, it is impossible for us to agree with him. On the other aspect, which I might call the humanitarian aspect, there is no difference between him and us. No one can read the accounts of the pitiful procession of wounded men, old men, women and children, some of them mutilated, struggling up the precipitous mountains which divide France from Spain under conditions of bitter hardship, of snow, wind and rain, and then being herded together in such shelters as can be provided for them on the other side—no one, I say, can read of that, without feeling once more what a terrible thing war is, even in its secondary effects. Everyone, I should hope, will feel when reading those accounts, how much more terrible it would be if the area of conflict should be extended and if the people and the children of other countries were to be compelled to undergo sufferings like those now being endured by the people of Spain. I think everybody must have been touched by the account of the help which is being given by the French to those unfortunate refugees.

It must indeed be a difficult position for those people in the south of France, not well off themselves, with very little accommodation to offer, to find themselves in the presence of these thousands and thousands of strangers coming in and making an appeal to their humanity. It does seem to me that, in that situation, they have done all that any people could do in such circumstances. All honour to them. We, however, are further off. We are not in geographical proximity to the Pyrenees and to the people who are now so much in need of help, but what the British Government can do to help, they are doing and will continue to do. We have already made a contribution through the International Commission for the assistance of child refugees from Spain. We have paid £20,000 to the Commission and we have put a further £20,000 at their disposal, and as and when the need arises, I have no doubt we shall be ready to do more. I understand that the French Government have arranged with the Spanish Government for an area near the frontier where refugees can be concentrated, and if they can obtain assurances from the Spanish Government that this area will not be used for military purposes, I hope it may be possible also to obtain assurances from General Franco that this area will be spared from attack.

There is also a representative of the International Commission going to Catalonia to try to arrange with the Spanish Government for a safety zone for women, children and old people, and in that case also I hope that similar assurances may be available from both sides. Inquiries are being made as to the possibility of arranging for refugees who have been separated from their homes by the fighting line, to return if they wish to do so. I may say that His Majesty's Government have already addressed an appeal to General Franco to exercise all possible humanity in the circumstances which prevail in Catalonia. Probably hon. Members heard before the fall of Barcelona that many people anticipated that its fall might be followed by a terrible massacre. Nothing of the kind has happened?

I should have thought that hon. Members opposite might have given thanks.

What about the refugees who were bombed? Are you not going to answer about that?

I have already answered about the refugees and I have no further information to give about them.

I do not think that an exchange of personal conversation across the Floor of the House is an advantage to the House in having the information which it requires, and the hon. Lady will perhaps wait until later when she may have an opportunity of joining in the Debate.

That is all I have to say on that particular aspect of the question and I turn now to the general question of Government policy in Spain. Intervention in Spain had taken place before the setting up of the Non-Intervention Committee and I think perhaps that is a fact which is sometimes forgotten by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they are speaking of events which have happened or are happening in Spain. Intervention had taken place. [HON. MEMBERS: "On Franco's side."] We regret that that intervention should have taken place, and we have done our best, not only to prevent more intervention taking place, but to try, if possible, to get those foreign troops who had entered Spain, withdrawn. We made it clear from the beginning that our fear was that if the policy of intervention were continued and increased, sooner or later it was bound to lead to an extension of the conflict, and it has been our aim to prevent that extension. I am satisfied that if our policy was right, as I believe it to have been right all along, now is certainly not the moment to change it.

We have heard a great deal of comment and criticism upon the working of the Non-Intervention scheme from the right hon. Gentleman and others. He keeps on telling us that intervention is still taking place and he suggests that we are maintaining that there is no intervention today. We have never maintained any such thing. The right hon. Gentleman has himself admitted that there has been intervention, not on one side only, but his chief complaint has been that there has been more intervention on the side to which he is opposed than on the side that he and his friends favour. I think we are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman and those who agree with him, when they make these complaints about intervention, to tell us what it is that they would do.

I should suggest that instead of keeping up the ban on the Spanish Government, we should restore to the Spanish Government the right to get their arms when and where they can, and that is the demand that we have made all the way through.

I think it must be pretty obvious now that if intervention on the side of the Spanish Government were to take place, it would have to take place on a very considerable scale if it were to alter the state of affairs in Spain at the moment. The attitude of the party opposite seems to be to imagine that it would be possible to have considerable intervention on the side of the Spanish Government without any corresponding activity on the other side. So far as this country is concerned, the effect of allowing the Government in Spain to purchase arms would be very little, because we ourselves, obviously, want all the arms that are in our possession for our own protection.

The hon. Gentleman is always very anxious to intervene and ask questions when we on this side are speaking, but he very much resents any interruption when he is speaking.

With regard to supplies from other countries, we cannot control those, and it must be for other Governments to decide their own action and their own policy in the light of the circumstances which prevail. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition appears to accuse me of some sort of inconsistency, because—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—if I may be allowed to finish my sentence—some time ago I said that I no longer considered the situation in Spain to be a menace to Europe and because I now say it would be a menace to Europe if intervention took place. I fail altogether to see where the inconsistency lies. I do not consider that the situation in Spain is at this moment a menace to the peace of Europe, but most emphatically I do consider that if we abandoned the policy of non-intervention, and if intervention on any considerable scale took place in favour of the Spanish Government, that would mean that the Spanish situation would be a menace to Europe.

I never suggested that intervention should take place or that anyone should intervene, but merely the right of the Spanish Government to buy their arms when and where they chose. You have at the present moment, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, intervention taking place on a great scale from Italy. Am I to understand that intervention from that side does not matter and that it is only intervention on the other side that matters?

The right hon. Gentleman has been asked a question, and he is not allowed to answer it. We cannot carry on the Debate in this way.

The right hon. Gentleman has not brought forward any evidence to show that intervention is taking place on a great scale, unless he means, as, of course, we all know, that Italian troops are fighting and that Italian material is being used in the course of the conflict. But intervention took place before the Non-Intervention Committee was set up, as I have already said, and it would be a mistake to think that nothing is going through to the other side. The right hon. Gentleman's complaint is once more that there is more going through on one side than on the other. I repeat that in my view a reversal of the policy of non-intervention must inevitably lead to the extension of the conflict in Europe, and that is against the policy which has been followed and will be followed by His Majesty's Government, whose efforts all through this conflict have been to maintain an attitude of impartiality. The Opposition, who certainly have never attempted to pretend that they were impartial, have made no mention this afternoon of the question of belligerent rights.

The hon. Lady has said so many things that perhaps I did not hear that. Let us touch for a moment on this question of belligerent rights. There was a firm conviction on the part of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, when we announced that we were going to pay a visit to Rome, that we were going to do so for the purpose of granting belligerent rights to General Franco. They protested in the most violent terms against any such idea, and I can only conclude from that fact that they thought that if we did grant belligerent rights to General Franco, that would be very much to his advantage. We did not do so. And it is clear that while hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think that our partiality has been shown to General Franco, the supporters of General Franco are highly indignant because of our partiality to the Spanish Government in refusing to grant General Franco belligerent rights. Signor Mussolini, in the course of the conversations in Rome, expressed the view that it was absurd to call a man who was in possession of three-quarters of the Spanish territory a rebel, but, of course, the reason why we refused to grant belligerent rights to General Franco was not on that ground at all. It was on the ground that this was not a civil war merely, but that the matter was complicated by that intervention of foreign Powers on one side or the other, and it was on that account that we declined to grant belligerent rights. When the war is over, I think it will be generally recognised that, although at one moment we may have seemed to favour one side and at another moment we may have seemed to favour the other side, yet throughout we have endeavoured to maintain an attitude of strict impartiality, and that at any rate we can claim consistency in this, that our actions have backed up our desire, so frequently expressed, that this Spanish question should be settled by the Spaniards themselves.

The right hon. Gentleman opposite has drawn a terrifying picture of the threat to British and French interests if General Franco should win a victory. That is based upon the assumption that after that victory Italy or Germany or both would be found in possession of Spanish territory.

I am very glad to hear that denial. Do I understand that that is withdrawn?

I did not state that. I expressly said that whether they occupied territory or not, that was not the real point. The point was whether the Spanish Peninsula would be under the control of the Axis Powers.

That is a very much more vague position than we have had on previous occasions. We have constantly been told that ports would be occupied, that forts were to be built, that attacks on the Balearic Islands would take place from Italy, and that there would be aerodromes in her possession, and it was thought that it would be a great menace to British and French interests. I am very glad to hear that they are coming down now to something less specific and perhaps less formidable.

The right hon. Gentleman has really, quite unintentionally, no doubt, misunderstood my argument. Obviously occupation of Spanish territory by the Axis Powers would he extremely dangerous to this country—I am not leaving that out as a possibility—but my argument was addressed to this, that whether that was so or not, the economic domination or, if you like, the ideological domination of Spain by either Herr Hitler or Signor Mussolini, or the general subservience of that country, whether territory was occupied or not, would be dangerous to the strategic position of this country.

I take note of what I will call the modified argument of the right hon. Gentleman, but I confess that it is a more difficult one to answer. Every Government of every country in the world may choose to take sides on one or other of the different ideological notions, and we cannot prevent them, but what really the right hon. Gentleman's statement amounts to is this. He says, "I do not believe these assurances that have been given to you by Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler." [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That is accepted by hon. Members opposite. I think the worst way in which to ensure that a man who has given his word should keep it would be to tell him, "I do not believe for a moment one word you say, and I am going to make all my assumptions and take all my actions on the assumption that you are not going to keep it." I do no think that would be a wise way, apart from anything else, of carrying on diplomacy; but I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. Let me remind him that only the other day, when we were in Rome—as I said this afternoon in the account which I read to the House—we received again fresh, repeated assurances from Signor Mussolini and Count Ciano confirming what they had already told us, that they had nothing to ask of Spain after the war was over; and, of course, I had similar assurances from Herr Hitler.

I ask myself, Why is it the habit of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite always to take the worst possible view of the motives and intentions of other people with whose views they disagree? If they go on frightening themselves by filling their imaginations with improbable hypotheses they make themselves ridiculous. They throw a gloomy aspect on affairs still more by constantly depreciating our own efforts to re-arm ourselves. They leave out of account any suggestion that we have vast resources, although everybody knows it, which probably, if we were ever engaged in a life and death struggle, would ensure us victory in the end. They have taken no account either of the alliances and the friendships that we have with other countries. This loading of the dice against ourselves is a habit of mind and of speech which leads, it seems to me, to a great amount of unnecessary distress in the minds of people at home and may well lead to very dangerous misunderstandings abroad.

It is not true that the great efforts we have made in rearmament have been offset by other considerations. It is true, of course, that the amount of preparation that we had to do before we could really make substantial and visible progress in rearmament was enormous. It was like what happens when a building is erected. A hoarding is put up and you cannot see anything behind the hoarding while month after month the foundation is being laid. When that part of the work is finished the steel structure goes up measurably, day by day, higher and higher. We are beginning now to see the result of the long preparations, and on all sides the public is realising that our efforts have resulted in an enormous and ever more rapidly increasing addition to our defensive strength. As to our prestige abroad, it has never stood higher than it does to-day, and there never was a time when our friendship was more greatly desired by other countries.

It is untrue that, as the right hon. Gentleman says in an article in a newspaper which I read to-day, the policy of appeasement has failed. On the contrary, I maintain that it is steadily succeeding. The right hon. Gentleman complains now that nothing effective was done at Rome. Only a little while ago he was complaining that something effective would be done that he would not like. Our visit to Rome has, I hope, strengthened the feeling of friendship between this country and Italy. At the same time, it has not weakened our relations with France. Our relations with France are perhaps closer and more intimate than they have ever been in our recollection, and, more than that, they are solidly based on a mutual confidence which multiplies many times over. Each of us can look not merely calmly but with favour at the friendships which the other makes. We saw with great satisfaction the other day the statement about the agreement between France and Germany.

We had another example of ineffectual and highly exaggerated fears in the sort of prophecies that were published in some parts of the Press and voiced by some people about what Herr Hitler was going to say in the speech which he made last night. It was a long speech; it touched on a great many topics and covered a wide field. I do not pretend that I have had time yet to examine with care every phrase in it, but I can say this, that I very definitely got the impression that it was not the speech of a man who was preparing to throw Europe into another crisis. It seemed to me that there were many passages in the speech which indicated the necessity of peace for Germany as well as for other countries. We all of us have our domestic problems, our economic and financial problems and our problems of employment, and none of us would be unsympathetic to the idea that the statesmen of the various countries should devote themselves for a time to the improvement of the conditions of their own people.

I ventured to say in the speech the other night, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, that in my view there were no questions arising between nations, however serious, that could not be settled by conversations and discussions round the table. I repeat that now. I would only add this qualification, that it is no use to embark upon discussions with a view to the general settlement of differences, the satisfaction of aspirations and the removal of grievances, unless the atmosphere is favourable. When I say that, I mean unless those who come to the table are all convinced that all those who sit round it want a peaceable settlement and have no sinister ideas in their minds. After this long period of uncertainty and anxiety in Europe confidence is not easily or quickly established. I say, therefore, that we want to see not only words which indicate a desire for peace; before we can enter upon the final settlement we shall want to see some concrete evidence in a willingness, let us say, to enter into arrangements for, if not disarmament, at any rate, limitation of armaments. If that time comes, if we can find a spirit corresponding to our own elsewhere, then I know that this country will not be unsympathetic and we shall be ready to make our contribution to the general appeasement of Europe.

5.24 p.m.

The Prime Minister has widened the range of our discussion this afternoon, and I am far from complaining of that, because I believe that the case for an alteration of our policy in Spain rests at least as much on the danger of recent developments in that country to our own national interests and to those of France and to world peace, as upon considerations of fairness and impartiality to the two sides in Spain. As the right hon. Gentleman said, intervention in Spain has taken it out of the category of a civil war and it must be regarded as part of a very dangerous world situation.

The Prime Minister referred towards the end of his speech to Herr Hitler's speech last night. I agree with him that none of us has had time to give to that speech the consideration which it deserves, more particularly as we are presented in our newspapers this morning with versions of the speech which vary in not unimportant particulars. There was, however, one passage of the speech to which I am surprised the Prime Minister did not refer. That is the attack that Herr Hitler made on three Members of this House, who are not Members of my party or of the party above the Gangway but who are supporters of the Prime Minister himself. We are frequently told from the Government Bench that we ought to be very careful of our words in referring to Germany and to Herr Hitler, and that we must be careful what we say and print, as some of our words are not too polite and are liable to provoke Herr Hitler. It is remarkable that he should have chosen for his attack three right hon. Members of the House who are among its most experienced and courteous Members, who have never referred to the German Government or the German Führer except in language of the strictest dignity and courtesy, and who, I am afraid, can only have been singled out for this attack on account of the broad views, which they hold with conviction, about the course which British policy should follow in defence of British national interests and in the interests of world peace. The effect upon British public opinion will, of course, be greatly to enhance the reputation and influence of these three right hon. Gentlemen, but it is a serious act of interference in our politics.

I am not for one moment going to suggest that the Prime Minister would be cowed by Herr Hitler's attack or that he would be afraid, for fear of Herr Hitler's personal censure or resentment, to bring any one of these right hon. Gentlemen into his Cabinet; but I am suggesting that if he thought it was in the national interest, as a great many hon. Members on all sides of the House and a great number of people outside do, to bring, let us say, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) into the Government as Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, if he reached that conclusion, he would have very seriously to ask himself what would be its effect upon his policy of appeasement and whether such an appointment would be objectionable to the German Government. The fact that the Führer is singling out for attack certain right hon. Gentlemen who might well be called upon to hold high office in the not distant future is a direct interference in our politics which must embarrass the Prime Minister in this or in succeeding Governments.

It would be a very easy task, and to many of us not an uncongenial one, to submit Herr Hitler's speech to dialectical analysis, but to-day I would rather deal with the plain facts of the world situation with which we are confronted. There is undoubtedly a feeling of disquiet in the country at the present time. There is economic dislocation and loss of trade. The Home Secretary, in a speech the other day, talked about people whom he described as "jitter-bugs." I am very far from wishing to defend those mercurial people in the City of London who one day seem to be moved, by rumours which may be passing through its streets, to throw their securities on to the market, and a few days later, on the strength of a single speech, without having had time to consider it in relation to the facts of the international situation, go rushing into the market to create what the newspapers call a "Hitler boom."

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that very few securities actually changed hands?

I was merely saying that there may be some people to whom the Home Secretary rightly applied the term "jitter-bugs." If the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) does not agree with me, perhaps he will settle the matter with the Home Secretary afterwards. There may be some people to whom that description applies, but I do not believe that it can fairly be applied to public opinion as a whole in this country. I do not think public opinion is alarmist or defeatist. I do not think there is any ground at all for defeatism but there is undoubtedly a certain distrust of the Government's foreign policy. On the one hand we are told to trust to rearmament. There is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with the handling and the progress of that rearmament—though that is not the subject of the Debate this afternoon—but we see that while on the one side we are rearming on the other side we are losing abroad the support of vital and powerful forces on which, only a few months ago, we could have relied to help us to resist aggression.

Look back, indeed, for less than a year—to the time when the Prime Minister took over the control of our foreign policy. Before then the Rome-Berlin axis was a mere phrase, a phrase describing a diplomatic understanding. Now you can see it stretching across the map of Europe—a geographical and strategical reality—dividing the West of Europe from the East, cutting us off from South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. Russia, which was then playing her part as an active member of the League of Nations in defence of the rule of law, is now alienated, and we see that Germany has not been slow to observe that Russia has been alienated and to send her own missions to Moscow to improve trade relations, to start with, at any rate, between the two countries. Austrian independence is gone, Czechoslovakia, that one stronghold of democracy in Central Europe, is sacrificed.

Now the Prime Minister, in his statement at the end of Questions this afternoon, describing his visit to Rome, tells us that he and Signor Mussolini discussed whether it would be advisable to bring the guarantees of the Czechoslovakian territories into operation but that, as one prerequisite of such action, Signor Mussolini pointed out that the constitution—the constitution—of Czechoslovakia should be settled, meaning, no doubt, brought into line with the ideas of the totalitarian States, That fine army which mobilised some 40 divisions strong, well equipped, well led, highly trained, with a great munitions industry behind it, with 1,000 aeroplanes to co-operate with it, no longer exists for the defence of democracy. The Skoda Works, the third, or, if we include Russia, the fourth greatest munitions industry in the world, is now geared up to the German munitions industry instead of being available for the help of the democratic Powers. The Prime Minister says that our prestige is high—after these events. I say that he cannot have read the United States newspapers in saying that. As for our friendship being sought, why in the last few months we have seen one nation after another, in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe certainly, ceasing to seek our friendship, like Russia, or hastening to co-ordinate their policies with the policies of the totalitarian States, and in the case of Hungary even joining the anti-comintern pact.

Speaking last autumn after the terrible and, in my view, disastrous events of September, I urged the importance of making it abundantly clear that we should at any rate stand firm in the West, along the Rhine, behind France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Spain. Every one of those countries is, in varying degrees, feeling the pressure of the totalitarian States. Only yesterday I saw a gentleman who had come back from Holland and he told me he found there grave doubts since Munich. For my own part, being a great admirer of the Dutch people, I believe that if their independence were threatened they would fight behind their dykes, whatever happened; but my friend, who knows Holland very well, tells me that since Munich a number of people are saying, "If we are not to have Britain behind us, if she is not going to stand for the principles of policy for which she used to stand in old days, it will be no use sending our young men to a useless slaughter." We ought to give Holland the assurance that in the hour of danger we should stand by her if she were exposed to unprovoked aggression.

Look at Switzerland. Pressure is being brought upon Switzerland by Germany to prevent criticism in the Swiss Press of Germany's actions. Pressure is being brought, too, to persuade Switzerland to give to Germany the advantage of some part of her munition manufacturing power. Pressure is even being brought to bear upon her to give a loan to Germany. One very experienced European statesman, whose father was a diplomat of one of the Central Powers during and before the War, and is very well known in Europe, tells me that the same feeling is starting in Switzerland—that they are not sure that in the hour of danger, if they are attacked by Germany, there will be anybody behind them to help them to resist unprovoked aggression.

So much for the line of the Rhine. But we have to think, too, of our communications with the outer world, and of Spain, which stands athwart the communications of France and Britain. Either the help which General Franco is receiving from Germany and Italy is indispensable to his success in the Spanish Civil War or it is not. if it is indispensable it means that we are conniving at a conspiracy between the German, the Italian and the Spanish dictators to crush the liberties of the Spanish people, while at the same time denying them arms to defend themselves against this conspiracy. For my own part I do not and cannot admit the right of the German and Italian dictators to dispose of the destinies of Spain. It is high time we said to Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, "What you do in Germany and in Italy is your own affair, but the British people will not stand your meddling with the liberties of Europe." Only the Spanish people, not the German or the Italian dictators, have the right to decide by whom Spain is to be governed.

If on the other hand German and Italian intervention is not indispensable to the victory of General Franco, why are German and Italian troops there, why are German and Italian blood and treasure being so lavishly expended in Spain? Can we really accept the Prime Minister's assurances that the totalitarian States have no territorial or strategic aims in Spain which threaten French or British interests? Is that truly the proposition which the Prime Minister coolly asks this House to accept? On this side of the House we certainly reject it, and I do not believe that the majority of the Prime Minister's supporters accept it, in their own hearts. Are those assurances even faintly credible? Who believes them? The Prime Minister and a diminishing number of his supporters, but who else? The Prime Minister asks why we do not believe them. Well, we read, not I am afraid in the original but translations from the German Press and the Italian Press, and whatever is said to the Prime Minister in private conference, we find the dictators of those countries loudly proclaiming the opposite.
"France bites the dust and must pay the price of her defeat. Yesterday Mussolini said for all, We shall pass.'"
That is from the "Lavoro Fascista," of Rome, after the fall of Barcelona and after Mussolini had made that speech in which he scoffed at the Republicans, recalling that though they had said, "They shall not pass," yet, "We have passed"—and, "We shall pass" as Mussolini put it. The crowd which a few days before had welcomed the Prime Minister to Rome, the same crowd as had rushed out to cheer the peacemaker, now shouted back to Mussolini, "To Paris." The Italian Press and the German Press arid Signor Mussolini proclaim the importance of the Franco victory at Barcelona for the furtherance of the Italian claims upon France. Indeed, if General Franco is allowed to conquer Spain with German and Italian support it is apparent that the totalitarian States, which have already established a stranglehold on the countries in South-Eastern Europe, will then have a comparable hold on France and on the communications of France and Britain with their Empires. They will be able to divert supplies of raw materials which our own industries need and without which we could not complete our rearmament. We must not forget that about 90 per cent. of the mercury which is indispensable for the detonators used in our rearmament comes from Republican Spain. Is the Prime Minister going to allow the source of that indispensable material to fall under the control of a Fascist Government in Spain under the domination of Germany and Italy?

The Prime Minister frequently, and other public men at intervals, tell us that they would resist any attempt by any country at world domination; but, of course, Abyssinia, for example, is much too small an issue on which to offer resistance to a policy of aggression, Austria? Austria is much too remote. You cannot offer resistance to aggression on an issue of that kind. Czechoslovakia? No, because in the case of Czechoslovakia there was a grave obstacle in self-determination. The Prime Minister, who has such contempt for phrases like "collective security" has a curious respect for "self-determination." Spain? Ah, no, you cannot resist in Spain, because to do so would be contrary to the principle of non-intervention—another of those mesmeric phrases! But the whole process must be considered as a whole. As a whole, it is a means of obtaining world domination, and if the Prime Minister is to wait until Herr Hitler makes a speech announcing world domination by the totalitarian States or announcing that he is going out for such a policy he will wait until all the keys of power have passed into the dictators' keeping and when resistance will be impossible. At every stage until then the speeches of the dictators will be full of soothing assurances which we shall accept at our peril.

In the speech he made as recently as November last, in the Debate in this House, the Prime Minister reminded us of a speech which he had made earlier on 26th July, when he had said:
"If His Majesty's Government think that Spain has ceased to be a menace to the peace of Europe, I think we shall regard that as a settlement of the Spanish question."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1938; col. 2955;Vol. 338.]
He went on to say on 2nd November:
"In my own mind I am perfectly clear that the Spanish question is no longer a menace to the peace of Europe."
Who thinks that to-day? There are few people thinking it in this country. If you look across the Channel to France you see that only a fortnight ago the French Chamber spent a week discussing foreign affairs, and mainly the Spanish question and the danger which it presented to the peace of the world. Two months after the Prime Minister gave us that assurance that the Spanish question had ceased to be a danger to the peace of the world the French Chamber and the French people, who are more directly concerned than we are, spent a week discussing the danger which it presented to the peace of the world. The Prime Minister also said:
"When I was at Munich, Signor Mussolini volunteered me the information that he intended to withdraw 10,000 men, or about half the Italian infantry forces, from Spain, and since then those men have in fact been withdrawn."
Recently there have been a great many calculations of the strength of the Italian infantry in Spain, many of them by war correspondents of unimpeachable integrity and impartiality, but I will take the lower estimate which General Franco's Government itself gives. The Havas Agency claimed to state authoritatively that yesterday—that was on 8th January—there were 16,315 Italians in the whole Nationalist Army fighting on the Catalan front. If you allow something less than 4,000, which is a ridiculously small allowance, for the reserves in the rear and the people looking after the bases and so forth, you get 20,000, so that on General Franco's own figures we find that 10,000 are not a half but at best one-third of the Italian forces in Spain. That gives us a measure of the value of the assurances on which we are asked to rely from Signor Mussolini.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the date of what he says is the official statement from General Franco?

Yes. It was 8th January, 1938, but it was not an official statement from General Franco. It was a report from the Havas Agency. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] Well, wait a moment. What is the use of saying "Ah"? The Havas Agency's report says:

"It is authoritatively stated in Saragossa."
When Havas or Reuter's or any of the well-known agencies say that it is authoritatively stated in the capital of a country or at the headquarters of a Government, you know in fact that the statement has been made on the authority of the Government. On 2nd November the Prime Minister went on to say:
"I have no doubt that hon. Members will represent that Italian men, pilots, aircraft and other material still remain in Spain, and so also there remain men and material of other than Italian nationality in Spain on one side or the other; but we have received from Signor Mussolini definite assurances, first of all that the remaining Italian forces of all categories will be withdrawn when the nonintervention plan comes into operation."
What prevents the non-intervention plan from coming into operation? It has been approved by all the members of the Non-Intervention Committee without exception. The only man who has disapproved of it and who refuses to allow it to come into operation is General Franco himself. If he is to be regarded as an excuse for not bringing it into operation or as an excuse for Signor Mussolini to retain his troops in Spain, the answer is that Signor Mussolini has only to tell General Franco that the time has come for non-intervention to be observed and that he is going to withdraw his troops from Spain, and General Franco would, of course, have to agree to bring the plan into operation.

The second assurance on which the Prime Minister told us to rely was that no further Italian troops would be sent to Spain. We have, in fact, had definite information, which different hon. Members have given to the House since then, that Italian troops have been sent. We are told that they are only replacements. That brings me to the third point made by the Prime Minister,
"that the Italian Government have never for a moment entertained the idea of sending compensatory air forces to Spain in lieu of the infantry forces which have now been withdrawn. These three assurances, taken in conjunction with the actual withdrawal of this large body of men, in my judgment, constitute a substantial earnest of the good intentions of the Italian Government. They form a considerable contribution to the elimination of the Spanish question as a menace to peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1938; cols. 208–209, Vol. 340.]
What in fact happened? There was, of course, an immense reinforcement of the intervening troops on the Catalan front, a colossal reinforcement. I hold in my hand a cutting from a newspaper to which the Leader of the Opposition has already referred and which is well known as very moderate—indeed, a newspaper of Right Wing sympathies in Paris—the "Temps." This is what the "Temps" says about the increase in Italian troops during the past year:
"The actual Littorio division has only a distant relationship to the division of the same name which operated in 1937. It was motorised from the beginning, like the three other Italian divisions which are called by the name of different coloured arrows. During 1938 it has been mechanised. That is to say that not only like the other three Italian divisions is it able to move with great rapidity, but all the artillery is drawn by power. Each arrow division has a battalion of armoured cars, with 40 tanks of six tons and two-man tanks with two machine-guns. The Littorio division is better provided. Each battalion of infantry. about 600 men, is next to a battalion of tanks with about 200 men. The division has eight or nine battalions. It disposes of more than 300 medium tanks, without talking of artillery or light armoured cars, a total of 8,000 or 9,000 men."
They go on to say that the proportion of Government artillery to Nationalist artillery on the Catalan front was one to nine, of anti-tank guns one to 20, of light machine guns one to five, and of field guns one to 50. In the whole Republicen Army on the Catalan front of 200,000 men there are only 40 heavy machine guns. The Prime Minister talks of intervention being on both sides, but the Republican Government can get together only 40 heavy machine guns, looking, as they had a right and a duty to look, for the protection of their own people, wherever they could all over the world, as in Mexico, which country does not belong to the Non-Intervention Committee and is not bound by the Non-Intervention Agreement. Does the right hon. Gentleman really compare that scale of intervention with the scale which is undertaken not by private individuals selling in the open market to the Spanish Government but by the official Governments of Germany and Italy, which are represented on the Non-Intervention Committee?

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us the percentage of Italians in the Arrow division?

I cannot tell the House the exact percentage but I imagine that if you took all ranks it would be comparatively small; but the command, the staffing, the artillery and the tanks are the Italian contribution. As for airmen, the "Daily Telegraph" on 28th December reported that, of the airmen captured alive over a period of 12 months, 35 were Italians, 17 were Germans, and only eight were Spaniards, while of the dead 100 were Italians, 50 were Germans and only 16 were Spaniards. And the right hon. Gentleman asks us to compare the amount of intervention on the Nationalist side with that on the Republican side. Here is overwhelming evidence of the increase in the Italian fighting strength in Spain during 1938, while the Prime Minister was receiving those assurances from Signor Mussolini. The Italian corkscrew of the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson) had been carefully applied all through the negotiations with the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister says to us, "Tell us what you would do." I ask the Prime Minister to stand by the policy which was the policy of his Government as recently as September, 1937, only some 16 months ago, when at Geneva, at the Assembly of the League of Nations, the then Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), supported a resolution that if non-intervention could not be made a reality within the near future all the States parties to the Non-Intervention Committee would have to reconsider the policy of non-intervention. That was the policy of the Government over which the Prime Minister then as now presided. It is time to put it into effect, if indeed it was not humbug and hypocrisy at the time it was put forward.

Let me make it quite clear, in reply to what the Prime Minister said to the Leader of the Opposition, that our complaint is not that more is going through to one side than to the other. That is not our main complaint. Our main complaint is that there is no help going to the Spanish Republican Government at all from any Government in the world at the present time, but that there is an overwhelming amount of help going from the Governments of Germany and Italy to General Franco's side at the present time. It is a crime—it is worse than a crime, it is a blunder—not to let the Spanish people buy arms to defend themselves against the attacks of the totalitarian States, attacks to which, the Prime Minister knows, we may be exposed one of these days. That is why we are rearming. Why do we let the Spanish people fall a victim to them now?

The Prime Minister referred to the plight of the refugees. I was very glad to hear him say that there is no difference between parties in the House on this question. I was particularly glad, because there is certainly difference outside this House—a great deal of difference. I see in some newspapers arguments used such as, "Why do they not stay in their villages? Why do they not trust to General Franco and stay in their villages?"

The hon. and gallant Member agrees with the argument that they should stay in their towns and villages instead of streaming down the roads to the French frontier. I can give the hon. and gallant Member the answer. I have spoken to people who have come back from Spain. The answer is that for the last two or three weeks—I rather think for longer, but I know for the last two or three weeks—these Italian and German aeroplanes have been deliberately going to towns and villages far behind the lines, where there is no military objective, and bombing them in places where there are no shelters for the people to go to, and, when the people rush out into the streets and fields, following them up with their machine guns. Why, it will be asked, do these airmen use their weapons in this way, not against the military forces, but against civilians? The object, of course, is to provoke a rout and send them streaming across the lines of communications of the Republican Army, so as to cause as much confusion as possible behind the lines of the Republican Army. That has been the deliberate policy, and that is why the refugees are thronging down the roads at the present time. I was not satisfied with the Government's statement. Food ought to be sent; medicines and ambulances ought to be sent; and I do not think the Government's contribution is enough. The people of this country have seen in the newspapers photographs of these unfortunate people; they know what the suffering is. We would support the Government in giving, and we urge the Government to give, more generously to satisfy the needs of these people.

The Prime Minister referred to the fact that there had been no massacre in Barcelona. If I may respectfully say so, the hon. Lady above the Gangway made a pertinent comment on that point which the Prime Minister did not seem to understand. She said "Refugees." Exactly; because large numbers of these people who would have been massacred have preferred to trek along the roads without food to the French frontier. Let us say that we are glad that there has been no massacre, but whom does the Prime Minister expect us to thank? I am not sure. If the Prime Minister wishes for a tribute of thanks to himself and his Government for their intervention with General Franco, I very gladly give it to him. I am glad he did that, and I thank him for his action. But if he meant that our thanks are due to General Franco for refraining from a massacre of his fellow- countrymen, then I say it is a marvellous illustration of the degradation of the standards of government in recent years.

With regard to France, she is more directly affected than we are by these events in Spain, and we ought to support her in any measure which she thinks necessary and we think reasonable to protect herself against Italian threats to her rights and interests in the Mediterranean. I referred earlier in my speech to Herr Hitler's speech. I welcome the tone of it, but I am not surprised. Could there have been a greater folly on the part of Herr Hitler than by a menacing speech to have provoked France into action which would redress the balance of forces against the Spanish Government and prevent General Franco from winning? Of course, he was not going to make that kind of speech. To preserve peace we must convince the world of our determination, and the determination of our Government, to stand by France in taking all measures to protect her vital interests. I deeply regret—and this is my most serious criticism of the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon and of his speech at Birmingham a few days ago—I deeply regret that he gave no such assurance to France in either of those speeches. M. Delbos, when he was Foreign Minister in France, on 4th December, 1936, said this:
"I wish to state in the name of the Government that all the forces of France, land, sea and air, would be immediately and spontaneously used in the defence of Great Britain in the event of unprovoked aggression against that country."
M. Bonnet, who is now the French Foreign Minister, appeared on 13th December, only a month or so ago, before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber, and an official statement issued after the meeting recorded that M. Bonnet had laid particular stress on French-British solidarity, and had stated that he regarded as still valid the declaration which had been made by M. Delbos and which I have just read. Last week, at the conclusion of the debate in the Chamber, M. Bonnet stated that in case of war all the forces of Great Britain would be at the disposal of France, just as all the forces of France would be at the disposal of Great Britain. I am very much disappointed that the Prime Minister did not explicitly endorse that declaration of M. Bonnet, and I would ask him whether, before the end of the Debate to-day, we may not have an official endorsement of that statement on behalf of His Majesty's Government. I want it to be endorsed, but, in any case, this House is entitled to know whether or not it is a fact that, just as the forces of France will be at the disposal of Britain in case we are the victims of unprovoked aggression, the forces of Britain will be at the disposal of France if she is a victim of unprovoked aggression.

I have been, and remain, a convinced opponent of the Prime Minister's foreign policy. His methods seem to me to have been disastrous. But I have never doubted his sincerity, nor his devotion to the pursuit of peace, and he has put one item on the credit side of the peace account which must be given due weight in relation to all the items on the debit side. That is that he has convinced a large part—it is difficult to say how large a part, but a substantial part—of the German and Italian peoples of the good will and peaceful intentions, not only of himself, but of his supporters in this country. I cannot help thinking that he might even improve the value of this asset to the cause of peace if he would stop representing his political opponents at home as warmongers whom he alone, with difficulty, restrains.

I am afraid I have not any quotation with me, but, if there is any doubt about it, I shall be very glad to send the right hon. Gentleman a quotation which I have in my mind, from a speech which he made in this House, and against which I myself protested at the time. I will certainly look that up, and one or two other quotations, and send them to the Prime Minister.

It is true, as I said earlier in my speech, that the same crowd which flocks out to welcome the Prime Minister in Rome on one day swarms into the streets a few days later to shout "To Paris" under the stimulus of Signor Mussolini's oratory. Nevertheless, both in Italy and, especially, in Germany, there are, I believe, a large number of people who see in the Prime Minister and his umbrella symbols of decency and tolerance and quietness which contrast favourably with the noise and glitter and self-assertiveness of the governors of the totalitarian States; and these sentiments were, I believe, greatly reinforced in Germany by the shame which was widely felt by decent Germans at the Jewish pogrom. I believe that a number of people in Germany feel like this, but probably they are a diminishing quantity.

For many people are also saying in Germany, even moderate people, that the Nazis, after all, know what they want; they sacrifice for it; they strive for it; they have got it without war so far. They are true to their ideals—base ideals, as I think—of nationalism and racialism. These people are asking: Has Britain any ideals? Have we no principles? If we have, why are we not true to them? If democracy and freedom are our ideals, why do we allow one democracy after another to go down before the assaults of the totalitarian States? The Nazi Government may complain about Press criticisms of Germany in this country, but a number of these moderate Germans are asking why our Press in this country hushes up the truth about the horrors of the German concentration camps. We must show them that we are neither ashamed nor afraid to take our stand for freedom, international good faith, the equal rights and status of all nations, great and small, the principle of trusteeship in colonial territories and the rule of law. It has been said that the difference between the Germans and the British—and the German Government in particular—is this: that the German Nazis have faith but they have no conscience, and that we have conscience but that we have little faith. There is some truth in that.

Let us have faith in the things which we believe. Let us have faith in our traditions of statesmanship. Do not let us always be belittling our record for example in colonial administration. [Interruption] I never have myself. Let us be true to our ideals, and let us have faith in the essential decency of the methods of colonial government which have been practised by this country. Let us show that we have faith in the principle of trusteeship, that we do not need to compromise on it if we are challenged from some foreign quarter. We know there is a devil in the world, in our own country as in others; but let us convince ourselves, our friends and those, like the Germans and Italians, with whom we want to be friends, that the devil is not invincible, and that we want to help Germans, Italians and all people in establishing a world order which shall be fair, just and righteous, and in which our children and our children's children shall enjoy the blessings of peace.

6.19 p.m.

I am sure that every Member of this House is delighted to find the right hon. Gentleman in such robust form after his holiday. It would be indeed a great task to attempt to follow him over all the ground he has covered, and I do not intend to do that. I think many hon. Members will be pleased with the final note of his speech, that we should cease this belittling of the British administration in the Empire. I am grateful to him for showing that the Liberal party at and rate divorces itself from that section of opinion which desires, in all humility, to hand over our colonial territories to some international body in order to show how they ought to be administered in future. But with regard to the rest of his speech, frankly I was deeply concerned. I cannot see how such a speech is going to help the peoples of the world to get on better terms with one another. I have just entered my thirtieth year in this House, and I can remember the old Liberal leaders in days gone by. Sometimes I thought they were prepared to go out of their way to be too polite to other countries, because the ideal they put before us was the promotion of complete understanding with all peoples of the world. But the right hon. Gentleman attacked Germany, the dictator of Italy, the people of Italy and the vast majority of the people in Spain, and seemed to me even to deprecate the idea that Russia and Germany had recently come to a trade treaty to bring about freer trade between nations. All these countries came under his whip. He even tried to make a little difficulty between this country and France by making us believe that we had differences of opinion with France.

I have allowed a great deal of distortion to pass, but when the hon. and gallant Member suggests that I said we had differences with France, that is a complete misapprehension. I asked that the Government should endorse the statement made in the Chamber last week by M. Bonnet about the intention of Great Britain to go to the help of France if she was the victim of unprovoked aggression.

It is really consoling to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that, but it seemed to me that he was trying to find differences of opinion between the Prime Minister and the French Foreign Secretary. I am glad that that was not so. At least let us keep one friend—

—that the leader of the Liberal party will not ostracise. The hon. Gentleman referred to the strategic position in Spain. I am surprised to find that there is a difference between the two leaders of the Popular Front, or whatever the name is now. The leader of the Official Opposition has made it clear that he has abandoned the whole of that case—and about time too.

I do not want to enter into controversy with the hon. Member, but again and again the leader of the Opposition said that now the danger lay in influence. He did not believe that it was a question of the occupation of Spain.

The right hon. Gentleman is under no illusions. He says that he does not believe a word from anyone who is connected with this quarrel. I beg to differ. If you are going to have peace in this world you have to come to some stage when men can talk together and make agreements. Otherwise you have a vista of hopeless disagreement before you. The right hon. Gentleman asked, was the Prime Minister going to allow the mercury mines, which are at present in the hands of Republican Spain, to pass into the hands of the new Spain? How can he stop that happening? It is quite clear that when the Spanish situation clears up—and we all pray, whatever our views, that it will not be long before that happens—the Spanish people are going to have control over their own fate, and their own industries. When the right hon. Gentleman attacks the Prime Minister, I remember him rising in his place in this House and saying:

"On behalf of my hon. Friends and myself, I wish to express to the Prime Minister the feelings of relief which we have felt at the news which he has conveyed to the House, and, let me add, of gratitude to the Prime Minister for the exertions, the unsparing exertions, which he has made towards peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th September, 1938;col. 27, Vol. 339.]

If the hon. and gallant Member wishes to quote me he must quote me fully. I repeated to-day what the hon. and gallant Member has just read out.

No, not verbatim, but in the speech from which the hon. and gallant Member is now quoting I added that my remarks were made on the assumption that when the Prime Minister went to Munich he would insist on terms which would preserve the economic life and the complete freedom and independence of Czechoslovakia. It was on the basis of that that I gave him my good wishes.

If the right hon. Gentleman really thought at that time that the Prime Minister had made these unsparing efforts for peace will he not give him credit over the Spanish affair for having tried to keep the peace of Europe? The right hon. Gentleman even tried to make trouble between us and the United States. Surely that is unwise. Every indication shows that the American people are in closer understanding of us, certainly than they have been in my political life. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has just left the House, because I might remind him that his employer—if that is not too harsh a word—Mr. William Randolph Hearst, said only last week that he appreciated the work done by the Prime Minister of this country. And has not President Roosevelt made it clear that he is thinking along the same lines as we are, and has he not made speeches unexpectedly frank in defending the democratic liberties of the world, and saying that he possesses the same ideals as we in this country?

Now I want to come to the right hon. Gentleman's extraordinary story with regard to Spain. In my belief, democracy can exist only if we are going to base our life generally on truth. We are always proclaiming to the rest of the world that in this country, unlike the totalitarian States, Russia, Germany and Italy, we tell the people the truth. If one examines, as I have done every day, the reports from Spain by "Our own Correspondents," as they are frequently described, and, I must confess, by certain agencies, one really is staggered by the spate of what in a very few weeks will be proved to have been false news from Spain. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for making a speech such as he has made. How can he know any better? He has been reading some of his newspapers. He speaks as though it is Italy alone which has won this war. The people of Italy have become supermen under the dictator, if you believe him. What is the truth? Not 5 per cent. of the men under arms in Nationalist Spain to-day are Italians. He mentioned the Littorio division and the three other Italian divisions. If he is informed at all about military forces in Spain, he must know that the Littorio is the only Italian division in Spain. He must know that the three Arrow divisions are 96 per cent. Spanish. Although it is true that one or two officers in the High Command are Italians, the fact is that only 4 per cent. of the men, in these legionary divisions are Italians. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman was talking about the four legionary divisions.

I do not want to detain the House, because these are things upon which one can speak at some length. The right hon. Gentleman asks me about tanks. Who sent the first tanks to Spain? Is he aware of the fact that out of every tank section the two heavy tanks on General Franco's side are Russian tanks? I suppose they fell from heaven. He says how short the Republican Government are of ammunition and guns. Of course they are. Nationalist Spain all through these offensives has been capturing this material. On the northern front alone, at Bilbao, they captured 270 guns and an enormous number of machine guns, and it is true that General Franco is now better armed. An hon. Gentleman says that no munitions have come in on the other side. I do not want to make trouble. Heaven knows there is enough trouble in the world. I am not going to mention even the name of the country, but I tell him—and I have a shrewd suspicion that the Foreign Office knows this—that 11 ships laden with munitions sailed from one non-intervention port between 17th November and 16th December.

The newspapers seem to give the impression that there has been only one air force in Spain throughout the war. In a very short time from now the history of the Spanish Civil War will be written and the facts will be known. I do not want to exaggerate if I can possibly help it, but it is thought that General Franco's aviation has brought down 1,500 machines. Were those machines made in Spain? We have been told ad nauseam by the Press in this country that Barcelona has been shattered. We have all been told to get the jitters and dig ourselves in like rabbits, troglodytes and other kinds of animals because of what has happened in Barcelona. Let the right hon. Gentleman go to Barcelona—I am sure they will be very glad to see him—and he will find, so I am informed by several people who have just returned, that that city is in fact practically intact. The clocks and all the houses just round the docks are absolutely shattered, but the city itself is practically intact.

It is the hope of all of us that this war is coming to an end, and I trust that we shall not continue to allow ourselves to believe that everything which comes over the wires from Spain is true. As far as I can see there has been doubt in every great journalistic coup, from Guernica, up to that story of the valiant destroyer at Gibraltar which defeated six enemy craft, including a first-class cruiser, and rammed another warship that got in her way. In fact, I think that the only thing she did was to ram the shore when she was driven there by a minelayer. Let us give every tribute to the most wonderful propaganda in the world organised by Moscow in order to delude idealists and theorists and those who are ready to believe in any country but their own.

I am grateful to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway for their unusual toleration in allowing me to offer these few re- marks, but I suppose that it will not be long before the whole of this question will be settled, and then the facts will emerge. The right hon. Gentleman told us once again to-day that all the foreign volunteers had been withdrawn from Republican Spain. [Interruption.] But it was reported that 800 of them were killed by the murderous bombs of General Franco a few days ago. Was that true? Did they not declare that 800 international volunteers were bombed from the skies; that there was this horrible calamity while the internationalists were awaiting return to England, Canada, France and to other lands? It is true that one of those who originated that remarkable story, said only yesterday that, after all, it was now doubted whether the story was true. It was thought that there were only two slightly injured. But when General Franco's other divisions were attacking in the north it was a strange fact that they bumped into three international brigades composed of central Europeans and South Americans only as recently as 22nd January.

I do beg of hon. Members to get the true perspective in regard to what is happening in Spain. There has been intervention and we all deplore it; there has been very considerable intervention on both sides. A sin is no less a sin because it is only comparatively great. I am glad to think that in this country nine-tenths of the people support the King's Government in seeing that non-intervention has been maintained. I think that the people of the world in general realise that although there were a few people who stimulated recruiting and sent a few misguided youths from this country, history will record that this country, perhaps alone of all the great countries, endeavoured to keep faith with her word and maintained non-intervention to the best of her ability from start to finish.

6.38 p.m.

Now that we have heard the whole truth and nothing but the truth from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), I am wondering why we have never heard this revelation of facts from the Government themselves. We have endeavoured on many occasions to get from the Government essential facts upon which we could base our judgment, and the Government have always informed us that they did not know. Perhaps in future, when we put questions to Ministers on these subjects, they will consult the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth, because I am sure from what he has told us this afternoon he has a wonderful fund of information, although he did not attempt to tell us his authority for these very strange statements. He tells us that at some time or other the true history will be given. I wonder. We have had history in the past. Can we believe the historian that writes this history? Who is to be the historian to write the history of the Spanish civil war? Is it to be the Duke of Alba or some of those noble Spanish gentlemen who have introduced their Moors in order to preserve Christianity in Spain?

May I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw what he has just said, because one in every five of the people in Spain is of Moorish blood, on both sides, and it is an insult to the Spanish people to talk like that?

The hon. and gallant Member referred to history, and if he will refer to the history of Spain he will know that the proud Spaniards had long years of struggle to throw the Moors out of Spain, and now they have been introduced—and I repeat the statement—by General Franco to preserve Christianity in Spain. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has cast some aspersion upon the bona fides of those who have gone to fight for the Spanish Government. They have my admiration. They did not have what we were supposed to have when we fought for King and country between 1914 and 1918. They have fought for an ideal, and, whether they are right or wrong, makes no difference to me. They believed in that ideal, and many have sacrificed their lives—men of our own country. I am not going to say that I have ever stimulated recruiting for the Spanish war. I have been invited by both sides in Spain to go to Spain, but I have refused. I can form my opinions here about the Spanish war. I am in complete agreement with my leader—the Leader of the Opposition—when he says that it is not merely a fight for democracy and a fight for Spain. It is also a fight for some British interests, only strangely enough, as it seems to me, some Members of the Conservative party who have always boasted of their patriotism and their loyalty to British interests, now seem to be running away.

The Prime Minister made a speech this afternoon totally different from that made by the leader of the German Reich last night. I listened to that speech for over two hours last night, and I wished that hon. Members of this House and even the Prime Minister himself could have listened to it, because the whole policy of the Prime Minister seems to be based upon his implicit trust in the word of Herr Hitler and the guarantees of Signor Mussolini. If I could believe implicitly in the same, almost childlike, way that the Prime Minister does, I should be supporting the Prime Minister in his policy of appeasement. But when I listened to the speech made by the German Führer last night I could feel, apart from the words that he uttered, most of which I could understand, hatred and contempt exuding from his soul, if he has a soul. If the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, or even the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whom I wish to congratulate on his promotion, could have listened to that leader of Germany speaking a new faith, in which I believe he profoundly believes, they would have understood that the creed which the Führer of Germany is preaching to-day is the creed of blood and iron based on an entirely different foundation from that of Government policy. Some of his words were uttered against leading members of the Conservative party, with whom we on this side have disagreed, but for whom we have a great admiration in their independence, as they have sacrificed quite a lot because of their disagreement with the Prime Minister, perhaps temporary in some cases, but longer in others. When I listened to the contemptuous remarks of the leader of Germany against democracy and what he called the bourgeois Statesmen of these democracies, I wondered how the Prime Minister could be so generous, yes, so simple and so naive in his belief that Hitler means what he says to the Prime Minister in Munich. He is prepared to give peace on paper, and Mussolini is prepared to give certain undertakings in the form of an Anglo Italian Agreement, but the question is, do these men mean to observe what they say and keep the guarantees they give to our Government?

Although I have tried to find some solid basis upon which I can pin my hopes, I must not neglect the facts which have occurred in the past. Some of those facts have been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal party to-day. Will hon. Members opposite deny that time and again the leader of Germany and the leader of Italy have broken their word? Why are we rearming to such an enormous extent? Why are repeated injunctions made to us on these benches to observe some form of unity in this country? I can assure hon. Members opposite that the fear and horror of war is as strong in our hearts as it is in their hearts, and so strong is it felt in the hearts of our families, in the hearts and minds of our electors in the constituencies, that we should he only too willing, if we possibly could, to agree with the Government and come in with them for this wonderful peace which they tell us they have brought back from Munich and other capital cities; but what are we to say when leading Members of the Government tell us, as the right hon. Gentleman who is now in charge of air-raid precautions told us the other day, that the Government are making preparations on the basis of an early war? The minds of the people are confused, their spirits and hearts are depressed when they are being continually told that the Government are preparing for an early war. They must, therefore, expect that an early war is probable. How does that coincide with all the statements that have been made by the Prime Minister and his friends abroad that war is not inevitable?

When the Home Secretary takes to task people in this country whom he describes as jitter-bugs, I would ask him who are these jitter-bugs. Are they members of the working class? Are they the lower ranks of society? They are not. The lower ranks seem to me to be the only people who are keeping their heads. If we are to believe the statements made by the administrative chief of the A.R.P. Department of the Home Office, it is not the upper classes who are taking part in A.R.P., but the lower classes. The jitter-bugs are in the circles with which the Prime Minister and leading Members of the Government associate: they are not in the lower ranks of society. The common people of this country are ready for a policy of appeasement, because they do not want war. If they are convinced that the alternative is rearmament and adequate defence to face the totalitarian States, against whom we are arming, they are ready to play their part in the defence of our country, our nation and our ideals, but it seems to me that leading Members of the Government are going the wrong way to get our support in these matters.

As I listened to the Prime Minister dealing with the subject of Spain—in regard to which I have not taken any prominent part in public meetings outside or by speeches in this House, although I have my own opinions about it—and I noted the ingenuous manner in which he tried to substantiate his policy of letting nonintervention pursue its very unbalanced way until the Spanish Republic arc absolutely beaten to their knees, I wondered what he was thinking about those vital British interests which he tells us he is arming to protect and which he invites us to support. He told us what the British Government are doing for the refugees in Spain. It reminded me very much of the parable, with which hon. Members are conversant, of the poor fellow who was waylaid by the roadside and there were certain passers by, the Pharisee and the good Samaritan. I wondered into which category I could place the Prime Minister. He is not a good Samaritan or, at any rate, his Government are not good Samaritans in this matter. They are easing their conscience by providing £20,000. I hope they are satisfied and that they will have no sleepless nights when they think of the streams of refugees, for whom the Prime Minister's heart almost bled when he spoke of them.

I come now to a point which has been in dispute between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition said that if General Franco won in Spain vital British interests would be seriously prejudiced. He went on to say—it matters not to me whether he has receded from his previous views—that not necessarily would the military occupation of Spain be the method adopted by the totalitarian States to obtain control in Spain. He said that they could get control by other means. I think he mentioned economic penetration. We have been told by the Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department that Great Britain is not going to allow what he called unfair trading tactics by Germany to push British trade interests right out of the field in South-East Europe and several millions of pounds have been voted by this House in order to protect British interests in that area. Why had we to do that? Hon. Members know the answer. It is because of the economic intention of Germany, not only to gain a strategic position in Central Europe but trading facilities to drive British trade entirely out of those markets.

British trade is already suffering considerable disabilities in the south eastern markets of Europe. Are we going to allow that sort of thing to happen in Spain? Italy may observe her undertaking to observe the status quo in the Mediterranean, but if Germany and Italy adopt the same economic tactics in Spain as Germany is adopting in South East Europe, then the Leader of the Opposition made out his case entirely when he said that British interests will be seriously prejudiced. We know that trade always follows the flag. Nowadays, it may be that the flag goes in front of the trade. I have always understood it to be a cardinal principle of Conservative policy to protect British trade in all parts of the world, but they are not doing that today, as they know very well, in China.

Can we get some policy from the Government upon which we can agree? Hon. Members may be somewhat sceptical about that. They may think that in party politics it is not possible to agree on issues like this, but I can assure them that from my point of view it is possible. Within my own party in this House or elsewhere if I thought the Prime Minister could guarantee peace I should not be afraid to stand up and support him, irrespective of the consequences to myself. Supporters of the Government are condemning us as warmongers because they think that that will be to their advantage in the constituencies. If we could get a guarantee of peace, it would be worth sacrificing a lot for. I am not blinded by party feelings or passion when I approach this question, but I apply my reasoning powers with regard to what the Prime Minister tells us, and I ask myself whether his policy will give us peace. He tells us that it is a policy of appeasement. If the people of the country really knew what this appeasement means, I believe the Prime Minister would get more support in the country than he is getting at the present time. He is not getting the support which one would think the great peace maker of the world should get at by-elections, and perhaps we of our party are not getting it either. Hon. Members must give me credit that I am trying to examine these matters not in a party spirit but in a purely analytical and neutral manner. If they want party politics in the matter, they can get plenty of it in this House, but party politics should not be introduced into this subject.

There is profound disagreement between the two sides of the House on this subject, whatever we may think about domestic issues. We on our side do not believe that the Prime Minister has brought us peace. We believe that his policy of appeasement, in so far as we can understand it, will cost this country and the world a tremendous amount of money and blood. [HON. MEMBERS: "What would you do?"] It is easy to ask what we would do. My answer is that we are not the Government. It is the duty of the Government to put a concrete policy before us. If their policy were one in which I could believe I would support it. This is not the appropriate moment for me to say what I would do, although speakers from my party have stated what they would do, what we ask the Government to do and what the Government promised to do when they won the Election in 1935. I cannot see that the present policy of appeasement, whatever that may mean, with its huge policy of rearmament will lead to peace. I remember what happened in 1914 when we had somewhat similar circumstances, and I believe that this policy will lead inevitably to war.

Hon. Members may say that war is not inevitable, but what are we to assume from the statements made by the Prime Minister and members of the Government? When the Prime Minister the other day appealed on the wireless for the support of all classes in the defence of the country, he said that we are preparing for war. I do not know whether those were the literal words he used, but hon. Members will recollect that passage in his speech. What can the ordinary man and woman think when the Prime Minister says that? However much he may have attempted to camouflage it and gloss it over in the other parts of his remarks, that was the statement he made. The working class are ready now, as they were in 1914, to defend the ideals which we thought we believed in in those days. We were ready then to defend the system which the Prime Minister wants to perpetuate. To-day it appears to me that the Prime Minister is back to the Victorian days, waving the Union Jack, as Conservatives have always been ready to do, and to put it on their platform. Waving the Union Jack. What for? To perpetuate a system which has produced, as Herr Hitler rightly said, 2,000,000 unemployed in this country. Is that what I am asked to defend? I cannot defend that. I am prepared to defend something far greater than that, but in so far as the Prime Minister's policy of appeasement goes, which really means preserving the same old vested interests which are making huge profits out of our patriotism and our loyalty, I say it is not good enough.

In listening to the speech of the leader of Germany last night I was struck by a fact which I do not think hon. Members quite understand. Probably wisely, they will not take the trouble to listen to Herr Hitler's speeches. It is strenuous at times, but it would repay them. I have listened to him at Nuremberg and I listened on the wireless last night. He is enunciating a policy which, if he is successful in bringing it to its logical conclusion, will destroy the very system that hon. Members opposite think they are going to preserve for a limited class. Let them make no mistake. Herr Hitler is not going to preserve the capitalist system for capitalists. He told his audience quite clearly, in referring to past German history and to the old nobles of Germany, that National Socialism is not going to protect vested interests, and that is one of the reasons why the Governor of the Reichsbank has been withdrawn from the Reichsbank.

When the Prime Minister goes to Germany and Italy he is applauded. I believe those are the genuine feelings of the people who go to see him there. I do not know much about Italy, but I know a good deal about Germany, and I am certain in my own mind that the people of Germany no more want war than we do. But do not let the Prime Minister make a mistake. Although they may not want war, Italian troops have been fighting and dying in Spain at the order of their Duce, and if once Herr Hitler starts his war machine the German people will march. They will march perhaps with sinking hearts, and not with the same faith and enthusiasm that they had in 1914. Whatever the results may be, whether the war is short or long, that war machine, once it is started, can only result in complete destruction of many of the things that hon. Members opposite believe in, for as far as property is concerned they will have the most to lose. We shall have only our lives to lose. Hon. Members opposite and the circles that they represent will have far more in material values to lose once the war machine is started. There was one passage in the Führer's speech which, it struck me, had a certain amount of truth in it. Truth comes from strange places, as we have heard to-day in listening to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth. The Führer assessed the amount of money that it has cost this country in rearmament to protect what he termed Germany's stolen colonies. I am not going to agree with him that they are stolen colonies, but I do agree that it has cost Britain—that was the main purpose in starting German rearmament—a tremendous amount of money in order to carry out the Prime Minister's policy of appeasement.

There have been Governments in Germany with whom our Government could have negotiated. Could they not have thought of appeasement in those days? Appeasement would have been far cheaper for Germany and the world than it will be later on. Appeasement in the minds of Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini means something entirely different from what it means in the mind of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's policy of appeasement is a nebulous one. It is leading to heavy rearmament, to financial stringency in all circles and to heavy taxation. It is leading in Germany to a 60-hour week, with static wages and rising prices, and it may lead to the same thing in this country. May it not be that presently we shall be considering, whether we like it or not, guns before butter? I know which I would choose. I would rather have butter before guns, and that is why I say that the only policy that will bring peace to the world is not the policy of appeasement but the policy of disarmament, the policy that was exemplified in the Covenant of the League of Nations, to which the Prime Minister and the Government will have to get back one of these days, and the sooner he starts negotiations with those countries, which have got to come inside that comity of nations one of these days, the better. I was sorry to hear the Prime Minister say that he contemplates no negotiations whatever with Germany. Where, then, is his policy of appeasement? I know how difficult it may be for him to go once again to Germany—it was difficult at one time for him to go to Italy—but he has got to do it at some time or other. If he really believes that Herr Hitler means what he says, how are we to test him? Shall we test him on the battlefield or round the green table?

7.7 p.m.

The hon. Member made one statement which, I think, should be commented upon at once. It was that the Prime Minister had said he was not contemplating negotiations with Germany. That is not what I understood the Prime Minister to say. I understood him to say that at the present moment there were no negotiations in contemplation, but that he looked forward to discussions with the statesmen of the world, to which the German statesmen would, of course, come—negotiations which would have as their aim the settlement of the outstanding questions which divide the nations at present. It should not go out from the House that the Prime Minister has ever said he did not contemplate negotiations at the earliest possible moment with Germany, or with anyone else in whose hands lies the peace of the world.

We have come back after the Christmas Recess. I think there can be very few people in or outside the House who have not in their hearts realised that the fact that we in the British Empire have enjoyed a season of peace and good will can be directly attributed to the work which the Prime Minister did for us and for the rest of the world at Munich and since. I think we are agreed in being horrified at the terrible and pitiful state of that stream of refugees wandering across Spain in an effort to get to France. I do not think it matters whether it is correct to say that they could have stayed in their towns or whether they were driven by force of circumstances on their pitiable trek, but in contemplating their misery one should remember and have a little thankfulness in one's heart for those who saved the women and children of this country from similar misery which would have resulted if the crisis in September and October had ended in a European war. I take no side in Spain, but I think justice must be done to both sides. No reference has been made in the Debate to what General Franco has done in his efforts to feed the people in those areas into which his victorious troops have gone. A tribute was paid by the Prime Minister to the fact that the fall of Barcelona did not result in the terrible state of affairs which many feared would result, and it is true that efforts have been made by the Nationalist side to succour those who up to now have been suffering.

In my mind the thing that stood out most in the Prime Minister's speech was his reference to the peaceful settlement of the world difficulties which we hope to find in the future. One reason why hopes of peace to-day are greater than they were in July, 1914, lies in this, that in 1914, broadly speaking, the peoples of the world were not averse to war, because they did not realise what war meant. To-day, the generation which is largely in control of the affairs of the nations is one which has seen the horrors of war, and there is in the hearts of the people of all countries a hatred of war and a desire to prevent it coming if by any means it can be prevented. It is that feeling in the hearts of the people which has given rise to the affectionate reception which the Prime Minister has had in Germany and Italy. I think we might occasionally pay tribute to what other countries think of the man on whose shoulders lies the destiny of the world. Hon. Members opposite are quite sincere in disagreeing with the Government's foreign policy, but I wonder if they ever consider how much foreign people believe that it is the only policy that can save the world at present, and give expression to that belief by their reception of the man who they think has at last instituted a policy of appeasement and understanding. I believe it is quite possible to have a peacable settlement of the world's difficulties. I do riot believe war is coming. I do not believe that war need come if we keep our heads and our belief in ourselves and have a little thankfulness for the blessings which we enjoy. But I am sure you will never get a peaceful settlement of the difficulties, the grievances and the sources of irritation which divide the nations of the world unless all the statesmen who go to the conference table go meaning to find a means of peace and to get an understanding without holding anything back.

If we are to have a peaceful solution of the world's difficulties, sooner or later we shall have to discuss with German statesmen the future of the Mandated Territories which were formerly German colonies. What the outcome of that discussion will be I do not know, but you cannot go to the conference table with any hope of success unless you make it plain that you will discuss that or any other question with an open mind and with a real desire to find a peaceful settlement. I think we can compliment the Prime Minister on the work that he did for us and on the fact that the personal contact that he made with Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler gives hope that a peaceable solution of the world's troubles may be found. We should pay particular attention to the fact that these two statesmen met as equals discussing the affairs of their two countries. There was no question of dictating on either side. They were trying to exchange views and opinions so that the path to a better understanding of differences in the future might be facilitated. It seems to me that hon. and right hon. Members opposite are sometimes blinded by their hatred of the totalitarian system of government. I do not like it any more than they do.

The right hon. and gallant Member is quite entitled to say "Oh," if that is his contribution to the Debate, but I do ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite not to be so blinded by their hatred of the totalitarian system of government as to jeopardise the peace of tine world. You can get a better understanding with the peoples of Italy and Germany only if you discuss with their leaders the world's difficulties, and, after all, we must not forget that these peoples have great respect and affection for their leaders. Instead of welcoming the assurance we are given by the statesmen of Italy that they have no desire for territorial gain in Spain or elsewhere, hon. and right hon. Members opposite the moment that statement is made say quite openly that they do not believe a word of it. If hon. Members opposite persist in that attitude they will inevitably produce the war which they desire to prevent. The right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) said quite openly and exceedingly loudly, as hon. Members will agree, that he disbelieves the word of Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler. Does that help appeasement?

The hon. Member may say that it is true, but that does not necessarily make it the truth. Mournful reiteration does not establish a fact. It does not help towards appeasement, when there is some hope of appeasement being brought about, for responsible statesmen like the right hon. Member for Caithness to get up, particularly after contact has been made by the Prime Minister of this country with the head of the Italian State, and say that they do not believe a word of what Signor Mussolini says. I say that they should stop this futile and dangerous railing at people on the other side. It is just as important to stop this railing as it is to stop the defeatist moaning about the position in which this country finds itself; this country with an incomparable Navy and Air Force, and an Army which, though small in size, is exceedingly efficient; with resources which are unparalleled, with peace and liberty within its borders, and with social services which are the envy of the whole world. Surely we might count our blessings and realise that even if the future may be dark and dangerous we of all nations are best fitted to encounter the dangers.

Most of the Debate has turned on the question of Spain. I repeat, that I take no sides on the Spanish question. I have listened to practically every Debate in this House on the Spanish problem and I have been struck by the fact that hon. and right hon. Members opposite, who I know feel strongly on the question, continually refer only to those who support the Republican Government as having any right to be termed the "people of Spain." In point of fact, General Franco has the support of the vast majority of the people of Spain and, therefore, it is at least only fair to say that a large proportion of the people in Spain believe implicitly fn the cause for which General Franco is fighting. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) made, I will not say an insulting but a rather scathing allusion to the Moors. They are Spanish subjects. How would we like to hear someone on the Continent make scathing allusions to our incomparable native troops in India? I did not hear the hon. Member complain because French Senegalese troops are doing their duty in helping the refugees who are coming to France. Why should there be this railing at Moorish troops because they are on the side of General Franco?

Would the hon. and gallant Member be so proud of our native troops if they were used to shoot down our own people?

I do not think it is fair to say that. I do not see how you can deny the right of Spanish subjects to say how Spain shall be ruled. Why should the Moorish troops be singled out for opprobrium when one never hears, and quite rightly, anything said about the native troops of France? When this war in Spain is over a Spanish Government will rule Spain. Spain will remember that foreign arms and foreign munitions on both sides were used to prolong a struggle which has desolated Spain and the Spanish people for these long years. To hear some hon. Members opposite talk one would think that not a man or a gun had gone into Spain on the Government side. I can never understand why that should be said. Almost for the first time the leader of the Opposition in to-day's Debate admitted that arms and munitions and men have gone in on the Government side. Let us deplore the fact that arms and munitions are going in on either side. I think the case made by the Prime Minister is unanswerable. If we were to take sides in the Spanish struggle the only result would be a widening of the struggle involving the whole of Europe in the Spanish war.

I have heard the argument time and again in this House as to how many foreigners there are on General Franco's side and how many on the Government side. I have even heard it said that there are no foreign legionaries on the Government side because they have all been withdrawn. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) dealt with that point in his speech, but there is a simple way of finding out how many foreign legionaries remain on the Government side, because it must be possible to know how many prisoners, who are not of Spanish nationality, have been taken by General Franco during his recent advance. The fact is that there are, unfortunately, foreigners on both sides in Spain. The right hon. Member for Caithness, as far as I understood his speech, was pleading for arms for Spain, for the right of Spain to buy arms.

The hon. Member says "Hear, hear," but if that is conceded does anybody suppose that there would not be a further increase of arms supplied to the other side? The only danger would be that this country would have intervened in the Spanish struggle. I do not know whether the right hon. Member read an article in the "News Chronicle," which I understand is very much the organ of his party. The article appeared on 20th January, and this is what it said:

"Guns and ammunition are Spain's urgent need. The British Government must be made to understand that the British people are behind the Republicans in their fight and that non-intervention must be abandoned in favour of active help."
And I think the article goes on to suggest that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon (Mr. Lloyd George) should raise the fiery cross and lead a crusade. Is that really what the Liberal party wants? Do they want active intervention? I say that the Government's policy is not only the right policy, but it is the only policy. We must keep out of the Spanish war at all costs. I do not believe that the British people are behind the Republican side; I do not believe they are behind either side in Spain. The people of this country are anxious to see this terrible war brought to an early conclusion, and are only anxious lest by any chance this country should be involved in it.

Will the hon. and gallant Member listen to this for a moment. I have had a petition sent to me from thousands of skilled engineers on the Clyde calling for food and arms for Spain.

Such a petition does infinite credit to the kindness of heart of the hon. Member's constituents, and I hope he will explain the true position of the Spanish struggle to them. If the Opposition desire a better understanding between the people of this country and the peoples of Italy and Germany surely it is time they should drop the misrepresentations which go on about the war in Spain. Just because their sympathies are with one particular side in Spain that is no reason why they should blame everybody else who does not hold the same view and accuse them of being Fascist in their outlook. If they cannot be impartial, they should at least be able to realise that there are hon. Members on this side of the House who are quite impartial on the Spanish question. The Leader of the Opposition talked to-day about the "trickle of munitions" into the Government side in Spain. What did Dr. Negrin mean when he announced that the Government side in Spain had an ample supply of munitions? An "ample supply" does not suggest that they are being obtained by the trickle to which the Leader of the Opposition referred.

The fact of the matter is that the difference between us on this side and hon. Members opposite is that we want to keep out of the war in Spain; we do not want to take sides in it at all. Hon. Members opposite feel strongly, as they are entitled to do, about the Spanish conflict. They do not want General Franco to win, and they are really not so much democratic as anti-Fascist in their outlook. That is the trouble. If they would try to be impartial there might be some hope of this horrible, beastly struggle in Spain coming to an end. The Debate has ranged not only over the question of Spain and the conduct of the Prime Minister but over the whole question of foreign policy. I believe implicitly that the foreign policy of the Government is right; it is succeeding and I believe it will finally succeed and that it will under God's providence bring this country and the world to a period of stable and lasting peace. But let us stop this anti-Fascist cry. Do not let us divide the world into camps if we can possibly avoid it. Let us give credit to men in other countries for a desire to do their best for the people they govern. I do not believe in the totalitarian form of government any more than do hon. Members opposite.

I believe that in Italy and in Germany not only the peoples desire peace but that Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler desire peace, and that to them peace is essential. That is the feeling in these countries, and similarly there is no desire for war in this country. I do not believe in calling anybody in this country a warmonger. I think the policy advocated by hon. Members opposite might lead to war, and they think the policy in which I believe might lead to war; but I acquit them, as I hope they will acquit me, of any desire to stir up trouble and to make war for the sake of making it. I and many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have seen war at first hand; and I hope and pray that none of us will ever see another war, but we ought to remember that if we do not stop this criticism which adds fuel to fires that are already smouldering, inevitably they will burst into flames. The result might well be a crisis at a time when there may not be a shrewd, patient and optimistic Prime Minister to pull us out of the fire. Recently, in the "Daily Herald," which voices the opinions of hon. Members opposite, there was an article by Lord Ponsonby, who used to be a member of the Labour party, in which he said:
"The foolish cry of fighting Fascism carries the day, urged by our jingoes on audiences whose truculent spirit can be roused, many of whom are waiting for a very definite message."
The cry of anti-Fascism is a very easy one to raise, but it is a very dangerous cry. Now is the time when public men, inside the House and outside, ought to refrain from speeches and writings calculated to inflame passions throughout the world. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) said in the House, not so very long ago, that the Prime Minister had saved Signor Mussolini from the fate that all democrats hoped would soon befall him; and he went on to state that he was not ashamed to say that he wanted to see the destruction of dictatorships in Europe. What would the right hon. Gentleman have said if responsible statesmen in Italy or Germany had said that they wanted to see the destruction of the democratic system in this country? [HON. MEMBERS: "They have!"] They have not, and it is idle for hon. Members to pretend that they have. The hon. Member for West Bermondsey (Dr. Salter) said, in April last, in the "News-Chronicle":
"All around me in Parliament I hear We will have no truck with dictators while they are in their present mood.' I say you will either have to have truck with them round the council table or on the battlefield. There is no alternative."
In conclusion I make an appeal to hon. Members on both sides. Do let us stop an international slanging match before it carries us too far. Mr. J. H. Thomas, who very often said very wise things, I think once said that democracy would be all right if it were not for the democrats. That is an immortal truth. Democracy can fail only if we democrats who believe in it do not do our duty and help to make it work. One cannot put men, democratically elected and chosen by the free vote of the people, into positions of trust and responsibility and expect them to do their job efficiently and successfully if one never ceases railing at them, interfering with them, and blackguarding them. It would be impossible for a company to work efficiently if, when the directors had been appointed in a democratic way, whenever they took certain steps in the interests of the company, as they believed, they were blackguarded and interfered with by the shareholders.

They wait until annual general meeting, and then change the directors. Let us wait for the annual general meeting before we start black-guarding those who, at the present time, are charged with the responsibility of governing this country. I make this appeal to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who, I believe, desire peace as fervently as I do. We have an opportunity now, which if it is lost, may never come again, of getting an understanding between Germany, Italy, Russia and ourselves and the rest of the world, which will result in lasting peace in our time and in the time of our children. If that opportunity is missed, as I pray it will not be, it will be upon our heads that the blood of countless thousands of people in the world will rest.

7.36 p.m.

I agree with the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) in one respect—I do not think these serious matters are suitable for a slanging match, and I suggest to the hon. and gallant Baronet that even when the General Election comes, it will not be a time for blackguarding one another. It may be natural for one to get a little bit heated on occasions, but my opinion is that world matters at the present time are too serious to be dealt with by slanging methods. A curious development in our time is that so much foreign policy is discussed by the world's statesmen over the radio. Millions of people listen to them, and I must confess that after listening to some of the speeches that have been made over the wireless from time to time by the world's statesmen, when there has been a good deal of slanging going on, it has appeared to me as though some of those statesmen resembled nothing so much as a lot of tom-cats out at midnight squalling and spitting at one another.

With regard to Spain, my hon. Friends and I were in opposition to other hon. Members when the policy of non-intervention was decided upon, because we did not believe that it was a good policy. At that time, I suggested that many members of the Government and many hon. Members opposite had allowed their class prejudice to blind them to what were their class interests, owing to the fact that in the Spanish struggle there were on the one side the gentlemen and on the other side the working classes, in a very large measure. To many hon. Members opposite, it seemed right that they should support General Franco. When the policy of non-intervention was decided upon, I criticised the Government, and I said that if the parties in Spain had been different, if the Government in Spain had been a bourgeois Government, popularly elected. and if there had been a working-class rising, the National Government would never for one moment have contemplated such a non-intervention policy which would have resulted in the refusal of arms to the popularly-elected Government in Spain. I still believe that.

I think that the criticism which I made of the Government's policy with regard to British Imperialist interests was a sound one, and I believe that the party in Spain which looks like emerging from this struggle will be very largely hostile or indifferent to British Imperialist interests, and that the interests of German and Italian Imperialism will be much better served by their ally if he is successful in the struggle in Spain. I do not suppose that the Prime Minister is so simple as to think that the German and Italian Governments are spending millions of money in Spain without expecting to get some material return for it.

I noticed that Herr Hitler said, in his speech last night, that he did not want to interfere with things in France, Britain or America, and therefore, why should Britain and America always be lecturing Germany as to what is happening in that country? But the same Hitler and his Government specifically said, as did Signor Mussolini, that they were not prepared to tolerate a Bolshevik government in Spain. There was not much prospect of there being such a government in Spain, but the working-class government that there was in Spain was so described by Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, and they were prepared to interfere in Spain. Evidently, they make some difference when it comes to this country or America, perhaps because the material resources of Britain and America are so much greater than the material resources of Spain. I think the Government ought to face the fact that the non-intervention policy has been a failure on the part of so many of the parties who were supposed to be loyal to the Agreement, and as I see the position, the Government ought, even at this late stage, to drop the Non-Intervention Agreement, since it has not been loyally observed by the various parties to it, and allow the Spanish Government to obtain arms in whatever quarters they can. I was also interested in the Prime Minister's remarks concerning refugees and the terrible problem presented by these people, who are afflicted by such misery and suffering. I hope the Government will deal very generously with the refugees from Spain, because, after all, we have so much responsibility for the sufferings that have taken place in Spain.

I wish to say a few words with regard to the general foreign policy of the Government. The Government's foreign policy now is somewhat different from the one on which it was elected in 1935. To a very large extent, the League of Nations has become of very little importance in the Government's policy, and personally I do not think that matters very much. From the beginning, I was convinced that a foreign policy based upon a supposedly collective peace system under the League of Nations was impossible in a capitalist world. After the War, for several years, it was the instrument of the big Powers. It was all right for France and Britain, for they were the big Powers in the League of Nations, and they practically dictated what would happen in the League. I think there was a real justification for the criticism made in the German Chancellor's speech last night as to the way in which the League of Nations had operated during those years when Germany was a Member of it. I remember that when I was a lad, playing in the streets of Glasgow, sometimes when the streets were opened up there were a lot of stones and sand, and one lad would climb up on to a mound and the others would try to overcome him, the one at the top shouting "I am the king of the castle and you are the dirty wee rascal." During those years the League of Nations seemed to operate pretty much in this way—that France and Great Britain took turns in chanting "I am the king of the castle, and Germany is the dirty wee rascal." As I am reminded by an hon. Friend, there was a democratic government in Germany in those days. Later, under the leadership of Herr Hitler, Germany moved away from that position and was no longer content with the part of "the dirty wee rascal." To-day Germany is probably the most formidable military Power in Europe, with the possible exception of Soviet Russia.

All this has produced a tremendous change in international relationships. The Prime Minister has had to face the difficulties involved in those changed circumstances, and he has embarked on what he believes to be a policy of appeasement. When he took office he told us that he was greatly disturbed at the deterioration which had then taken place in the international situation. He said the position in foreign affairs was gradually deteriorating, and that he had set himself to try to remedy that state of things. In trying to come to friendly terms with Signor Mussolini, he went so far that he was prepared to put through the agreement between Great Britain and Italy, even at the expense of allowing his Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), to go. But in spite of the agreement between Great Britain and Italy the international situation continued to deteriorate, and in September the Prime Minister had to hurry to Munich to try to save the situation in the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour. The nations of the world were once more on the threshold of war.

I remember when the right hon. Gentleman told us of the agreement which had been made with Herr Hitler and of his satisfaction that by his efforts then, he had saved the peace of the world. I give him all credit, along with my colleagues, for his effort and what he did at that time. I remember his satisfaction when he told us of the declaration signed by Herr Hitler and himself that the two nations would hereafter settle their disputes by discussion and never by war. In spite of that declaration, I think the foreign situation is still deteriorating and the position of the various nations in relation to one another is still fraught with the greatest possibilities of disaster. I remember, too, the distinguished brother of the Prime Minister, the late Sir Austen Chamberlain, coming to this House with all the glory of having helped to make the Locarno Treaty which was to secure peace in Europe. I got into some trouble with the Labour party then because of my scepticism with regard to the Locarno settlement. I also recall the Kellogg Pact. Declarations have been made and signed, and I believe that the statesmen of the respective countries when they made those declarations and entered into those agreements did so sincerely. I believe they sincerely intended to keep those agreements. I believe that the statesmen of the world do their best in making those agreements to overcome the difficulties in the way of peace. But the Kellogg Pact and the Locarno Treaty mean nothing to-day. They are all gone, and I think the declaration who came from Munich is in pretty much the same position as those former declarations. Those pacts and agreements are not broken because of the willful dishonesty of the rulers of one country or another. They are broken because of the economic circumstances of the people in the respective countries and the political developments which flow from those economic circumstances. Those factors are responsible far the crises which occur between one nation and another.

I listened to the Prime Minister's speech on Saturday, and I noticed that there was a good deal of satisfaction in the British Press and in part of the foreign Press at the fact that he had taken, as was said, a firmer attitude on this occasion, and that a stronger line was indicated at the end of the speech in which he associated himself with the speech of the President of the United States. The right hon. Gentleman, it was said, had made it plain that we were not again to give way to any expression of physical force. Many people who read the Prime Minister's speech Sunday were much more satisfied with his deliverance on that occasion than with former speeches. The right hon. Gentleman also emphasised on that occasion the importance of going on with the rearmament programme. He said, in effect, "I am going on with my policy of appeasement, but I am also going on with the acceleration of the rearmament programme." What did Herr Hitler say last night? He said he hoped that there would be a long peace, but that he was going to proceed with the acceleration of his rearmament programme. What will come out of the acceleration of these rearmament programmes? What real appeasement is to be found in such developments? I cannot see that this tremendous burden of armaments on the countries of Europe can have any result but one. It is bound, ultimately, to lead to an explosion.

As I listen to Debates in this House on foreign affairs, I confess I come closer and closer into sympathy and agreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). I become more and more convinced that the pacifist way of dealing with the situation is the better way. I am not hopeful about the appeasement policy of the Prime Minister. I hope that my fears may prove to be unjustified, but I view the present international situation with the utmost misgiving. However many journeys the Prime Minister, with his umbrella, may make to various capitals of Europe to talk with this or with that statesman, I do not think he will be able to bring us into a world of peace.

I may be asked what would I propose having put aside the League of Nations, and expressed distrust of the appeasement policy of the Prime Minister. I say there are some facts which must be considered. There is, first, the fact which has been stated by the Prime Minister on various occasions and is, I think, apparent to everybody, that in all countries totalitarian and democratic alike, the overwhelming majority of the people, rich and poor, are full of enthusiasm for peace and tremendously opposed to the thought of war. They shrink from the idea of a great world conflict. That is one big fact. Another big fact is that in all countries there is this ruinous and wasteful expenditure upon the instruments of death and destruction, and at the same time a growing need on the part of the people for developments in their social conditions. In each country it is said "The international situation is so unsettled, what can we do? Must we not go on rearming?" There are some people indeed, who think that the atmosphere will never be cleared until we have passed through another war. There are some people who think that only war will clear away this dangerous atmosphere and allow the nations to get out of the terrible mess into which they have been plunged. Possibly in one respect I would agree. I would say, "Yes, let us have war, but let us make sure that we are going to war with the proper enemy and that we have a sufficient number of allies."

If I am asked what allies I would suggest, I would say, "Well, there is France, which fought with us in the last War. We remember the gallant Frenchmen and we would do well to have them on our side." Then the Italians were with us in he last War. Let us also have Italy as an ally. We all know what a tremendous foe we found the German Empire to be in the last War. So I would say, "Let us have Germany on our side also." Then the greatest military power in the world to-day is Soviet Russia. We cannot go into war without making sure that Soviet Russia, also, is one of our allies. Then there is the great power of the United States. Let us make sure that we have the United States on our side. Who then is to be the enemy? I say we ought to make sure what is the enemy, and I say that the enemy of the peoples of the world to-day is poverty in the respective countries—poverty based upon greed, selfishness, ambition and a lot of nonsense about pride of race.

Herr Hitler told us last night that he did not hope that Germany would come into the position of being among the favoured banana growers but he said that business in Germany was going through a hard time, that Germany was in need of raw materials and of opportunities in the world markets and that they could only get those raw materials and those opportunities by having their share in colonial development along with countries like France and Britain. "We must have our opportunities in the colonies, and we must have our raw materials—so, what about it old man? "That is Herr Hitler's speech. Germany asks," What about our share of colonies? You see that we need them, and you people in Great Britain and America should stop lecturing us and give us our share. We do not interfere in your affairs and you can have any kind of government you like, but let us have the opportunities we need."

If you were to get the nations embarked on a war against poverty, you would not have these Colonial questions, and I suggest that the Prime Minister should give an invitation to the German, French, Italian, Russian, and American Governments to come to a conference preliminary to a world conference. But if he calls such an international conference, Britain must be prepared to give guarantees that would make such a conference a reality. The various nations will not forget the World Economic Conference of a few years ago and what a futile exhibition it was. If the Prime Minister would invite those Governments to a conference, and would inform them that so far as the British Government and the British people were concerned, we were prepared to put the whole of the resources of the British Empire—our individual property as well as our national property—into the common pool—for such a war on poverty, I believe that we should be pursuing the only real policy of appeasement that might lead to a real world peace.

That is the position that I take in this House. All these attempts to talk nicely to Herr Hitler, to admire him, and to say how much we marvel at the great things he has done there, or the same to Signor Mussolini, or the tributes that we pay to that great democrat, Mr. Roosevelt, in America, will not, I believe, get you anywhere so long as there are those international, economic problems inherent in the present economic system. So it is that I would ask the Prime Minister to take a much bolder line and to ask the world to unite in a great war, a real war, in which every decent man and woman could take part, a war against poverty. In that way, I believe, we should be on the way to peace. In every country, whatever the religion of the men or the women, I believe that all of them who know would say that Jesus Christ was a much greater man than Napoleon Bonaparte, and I would say that a Government that would base its policy on the principles of Jesus Christ would be in the way of making a far better job of it than Governments which base their policies upon the principles of Napoleon Bonaparte. I ask the Prime Minister to go much further than he has gone and to realise that the problems that are driving the world distracted today are fundamentally economic problems. Let him face up to that and to the fact that it is only by the British Empire being prepared to put its resources at the disposal of all humanity that we shall be in the way of realising world peace.

8.5 p.m.

I hope I shall not be thought discourteous if I do not follow the very excellent speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen), to which we have just listened, but I do not want to occupy more than a few minutes. With one remark in his opening phrases I should like to associate myself, and that was when he said that this was surely not a time for indulging in abuse and personalities. I was very glad indeed to hear that observation. I want first of all to make a few observations upon the question of propaganda. Anybody must recognise, wherever their sympathies may lie in the Spanish war, that there are honest, honourable, and sincere men on both sides, and we all must have sympathy for those who are now under the shadow of defeat. I remember that in France, in the autumn of 1918, I had the same sort of sneaking sympathy for the beaten side that every Englishman has for the hardships of the loser. But, with regard to propaganda, we are so liable, in these days of totalitarian States and that intense propaganda, which is the curse of the world to-day, to overlook its effects upon ourselves. I think that is extraordinarily well exemplified by the attitude of the British people to the war in Spain.

Contrast the propaganda of the two sides and its effects. On the side of the Nationalists the propaganda has throughout the war been poor, from their own point of view, and unskilled. They have taken little trouble with it, and indeed to seek to impress other people with their point of view is contrary to the whole trend of the Spanish character. Also, of course, they have had from the start extremely limited financial resources, and propaganda nowadays is largely a question of how much money you are prepared to spend upon it. One has seen estimates of the enormous amounts of cash expended by the totalitarian States upon their propaganda. The insurgents in Spain certainly went to the other extreme. Indeed, they have had very little money to spend on it, and even when some important pronouncement was made, such as General Franco's assurance on neutrality at the time of the September crisis, it was largely blanketed in our Press by more sensational news.

On the other hand, the propaganda by the Republican Government has been throughout, I think, extremely skilful, and they have certainly spent a very great deal of money upon it. They have been clever enough assiduously to cultivate the humanitarian sentiment in all countries, and they have deserved their undoubted success in that respect; but it must be remembered that on the purely mechanical side they have had, until quite lately, a very great advantage, because the only direct telephone lines from the Spanish Peninsula through France to the rest of Europe ran through Madrid, and so, purely mechanically, the news from the Nationalist side in Spain was anything from 24 to 48 hours late, and news which is not "hot" news, as it is called, is very little good. This fact of the varying use and effects of the propaganda on each side has constantly impressed itself upon me when I have visited Spain, and I have ventured, as I believe in the interests of truth, on several occasions to try and expose some of the fallacies that have gained currency, merely because it was not possible to overtake, for the purely mechanical reasons that I have stated, the stories started by the Left. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) remembers the allegations about the trials in the Asturias, and he will remember that only in yesterday's "Times" their correspondent in Barcelona said that little complaint had been found with the system of trials adopted by the Nationalists. I believe that to be a fair statement of the case and to be according to the facts.

Yes. I think, if I may say so, the hon. Member has a jaundiced view of Spanish justice from his knowledge of the trials on the other side. The lopsided view of the Spanish struggle that undoubtedly exists in this country is due to a considerable extent to ignorance of Spanish history. This lopsided view has become such an obsession of our political Opposition that they are hardly willing sometimes to listen to the often reasonable statement of the case on the other side. I believe that, as has happened on several occasions in the last few years, time will very shortly show that most, if not all, of their fears as to the future are groundless. I used to think that there were two categories of persons with whom no wise person should argue, and they were women and admirals, but I think I must now also add Left-wing intellectuals, and put them in the same class. I very much regret that it has not been found possible for any responsible, fair-minded Members of the Labour party to visit Nationalist Spain. I have tried, as many of them know, to persuade some of them to go there. I think it would have been a surprise to them, and even now I would urge upon them to see whether they cannot make up a little party, or whether one Member cannot go and see for himself something of the conditions in Nationalist Spain. In urging that, I am merely reciprocating a kindness, for it was entirely due to the initiative of a Labour Member that I first went to Spain at all and became interested in this civil war.

The papers during the last few days have exhibited rather remarkably one of the delusions current about the Spanish War, a delusion which it would have been so very easy for the Nationalists to have explained away if they had taken the slightest trouble about their propaganda. I refer to the operations of the Moroccan Corps. The "Times" of 27th instant, in a leading article, talked about General Yagué's Moorish regiments marching down the hills to Barcelona, and again in the Debate to-day this question of the employment of Moors has cropped up. I would like to remind the House that in fact General Yagué's Moroccan Corps does not consist of Moorish regiments. During the battle of the Ebro I spent two days moving about freely in the area over which General Yagué's Moroccan Corps was fighting, and in fact the Moroccan Corps simply meant the corps built up on the troops based on Morocco before the civil war began. From my personal observation, I can say that only a very small minority of General Yagué's Moroccan Corps consists of native troops. Of course, I have not seen the whole corps, and I do not know what the actual proportion is, but it is certainly something under 20 per cent. When General Yagué's Corps crossed the Ebro in their famous flanking movement in March, I watched the first two brigades go across, and there was not a Moor among them, and it was not till the late afternoon that I saw a Moorish battalion moving up.

I would again emphasise, because I think it affects the whole outlook on the Spanish War, that there has been a far smaller volume of foreign intervention, both in personnel and in material, than the propagandists on either side have been prepared to admit. I am certain that in a very few years, probably a few months after the civil war is over, there will hardly be a man in Spain who will not protest that the war was fought almost entirely without the intervention of foreign forces. I will support my thesis by two quotations from a non-British source, from an interesting article on the Spanish war written in the French military paper, "Revue Militaire Général," of September, by Commandant Andriot. This is the first statement, and I think it is profoundly true:
"Material such as tanks, artillery, fortifications, and aviation is in reality worth no more than the men who employ it."
One of the reasons why the Nationalists have won the war is because from the start General Franco, who was, before the war began, regarded as the great training expert in the Spanish Army, has organised his army properly. He started training from the word "Go" When hon. Members opposite demand arms for Republican Spain they have, I think, overlooked the fact that had the arms been forthcoming the Government would not, with their organisation have been able effectively to use them. The writer in this French military review further said what, I think, is indisputable:
"The International Brigades formed for a long time the backbone of the Government's defence. These men were volunteers from all parts of the world and included many who had served their time in various conscript armies. The exertions of the International Brigades undoubtedly saved the Government cause from immediate collapse in 1936, and gave time, at the cost of high casualties, for the raw militia to find their feet."
In deploring the Italian intervention at a later stage, which I think is deplorable, even scandalous, we should remember how effective was the support that came to the Government in the earlier stages. An article in the "Times" this morning by an ex-member of the International Brigade gives a striking figure of the personnel employed. It is 36,000, and this is the first time, as far as I know, when from official sources at Barcelona such a figure has been admitted. It is a contrast to the fantastically high level sometimes quoted from the other side. Attention has been concentrated on intervention to the exclusion of a rational view of the purely military events in Spain. It is common for writers and speakers in this country to start their remarks by saying, "It is not denied" or "it is admitted" that, for example, so many thousands of Italians landed at a certain time—an assertion which has rarely been substantiated by them. I believe that Mussolini's bitterest enemy could not have wished him and the Italian people any worse disaster than their intervention in Spain.

I will quote some words of the Englishman who knew the Peninsula better than anyone else—the Duke of Wellington. A book was reprinted the other day called "Conversations with the Duke of Wellington," which contained letters and conversations with Lord Mahon, who was at one time a junior Minister. In a letter dated 1847 the Duke replies to a letter from Lord Mahon, who has expressed anxiety that the projected marriage between the heiress to the Spanish throne and one of the sons of the House of France might put Spain under French domination. The Duke, with his experience of the times and his knowledge of the Peninsula, wrote back, that he did not think we need very much worry—foreign intervention in Spain does not pay—and that even if the marriage came off, he did not think anything would come of it in the way Lord Mahon feared. Elsewhere in his writings the Duke of Wellington records that shortly after the French had been driven out of Spain in the Peninsula War, the most unpopular nation among Spaniards was England.

We are faced, whether we like it or not, in the not distant future with a win for the Nationalists. Let us consider what would have been the alternative. Is it likely that the second republic could have survived and could have given Spain a good Government? People so often talk as if this republic was the first attempt to give Spain a democratic Government. Its career was closely paralleled by the first republic from 1873 to 1875. The first republic, which had five presidents in two years, was a period comparable in its administration with the present republic and it was terminated like this one by a military rising. It was a rising however, which did not support an extreme right, but resulted after General Campos' coup in the establishment of the limited liberal monarchy of Alfonso XII. We have now to consider our attitude in our dealings with the new Spain. I trust that this House and the Government, and especially Lie left wings with their uncompromising attitude, will recognise facts. Let them remember that our recent history is littered with examples of the mistakes which we may make here. There was our attitude to Italy. There was our attitude to the Streseman Republic. After all, we created the Rome-Berlin Axis. I supported sanctions at the time and I was a fool to do so because they were not effective, and only drove Italy into the arms of Germany. Let us try to make the new Spain a decent country as far as we can. Let us try to help the new Spain take her place in Europe. Our counsels of moderation are far more likely to be heeded if we approach the new Spain as a friend rather than as a critic. We have to live in Europe with the new Spain. Let us do our best to help it to be a good and great European Power.

8.25 p.m.

I wish very much that the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) had approached me with a proposal that I should visit General Franco's territory. I should have been very glad to go. At the time when I visited Government Spain, I endeavoured to make it known that I should be willing to visit Franco territory if invited. He is a poor student of affairs who is unwilling to visit both sides in such a dispute, and I should have been all the more willing because I have endeavoured to avoid being partisan in this Spanish war and have occupied myself chiefly with the questions of international law and of British security involved in the struggle. The hon. and gallant Member always succeeds in creating an atmosphere of great reasonableness and great fair mindedness when he speaks, but he is not going to make my heart bleed because of any deficiencies which General Franco may have suffered on the score of propaganda. Had I been in General Franco's position I would have said that, provided I might have all the Italian and German aviation, artillery and men I could get the other side might have the propaganda.

Since the hon. and gallant Member has referred to me, may I just say that perhaps I had been misled by the speeches he had made—those which I had heard and the accounts of his speeches in his constituency which I had read—into thinking that he was not exactly an impartial student of the Spanish war?

I quite understand, but my speeches to which he refers show that I have tried to avoid being partisan and I sincerely regret that the hon. and gallant Member did not approach me.

When I listened to the Prime Minister to-day the chief impression left upon my mind was that, for good or evil, he has now closed his ears to argument on the subject of the foreign policy which he is pursuing. I dare say the fact is that he could not persist in that policy had he not so closed his ears; but to be driving ahead, impervious to argument, is a dangerous state of mind for the leader of a great nation to get into. I have never heard the Prime Minister contend that justice had been done at Munich, or that justice is now being done in Spain, and his arguments amount to saying that justice can only be done at the cost of war, while injustice can be done without the risk of war. If that be so, it is not a very cheerful outlook for the British Empire.

The speech of the Prime Minister to which we listened to-day was a sequel to the speech which he made at Birmingham on Saturday. I noticed that in that speech—and it was referred to again by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen)—the Prime Minister seemed to endeavour to give the impression that at Munich he had signed some undertaking with Herr Hitler that the two nations would always consult together about any matters which might be in dispute. Speaking without references by me, that is certainly not the impression left upon my mind at the time by the paper which was brought back from Munich, and I must express my very serious doubt indeed that any such undertaking does in fact, exist between the two nations. If it does not it is most important to avoid giving the impression that it does. The Birmingham speech fell almost exactly into two equal parts. The first half extolled the merits of the foreign policy of appeasement, that policy which we were told to-day is succeeding. The second half described the feverish rearmament preparations which are being made in order to meet the situation which the foreign policy of appeasement has rendered necessary.

That speech at Birmingham was a review of the world situation which never mentioned Russia and never mentioned Spain. I suppose that to mention those Spanish refugees, waiting in agony for the dawn, machine-gunned as they struggle to safety, who, rightly or wrongly, do regard this country as the principal architect of their misfortunes, would have been a very discordant note to introduce to the warm and well-fed jewellers of Birmingham. Those refugees were mentioned today by the Prime Minister. There was a sending for water and a washing of hands to the tune of, I think, £20,000. At Birmingham the Prime Minister told us that he has a good conscience. He can look back without any regrets. Hailie Selassie an exile, Schuschnigg a tortured prisoner, Benes, an exile, Negrin with his back to the wall. None of these men cause the Prime Minister one twinge of conscience; looking back, he has nothing to regret.

The Prime Minister introduced us to a great phrase at Birmingham. There is a point at which even he will stick in his heels. He will resist
"any attempt to dominate the world by force."
No such intention will ever be announced by either of the dictators. They will never announce that they are out to dominate the world by force. Their intention is to gain one strategic position at a time, until resistance to them becomes impossible. In each crisis we say, "Oh, but there is no threat to dominate the world. Abyssinia is invaded, but that is only Abyssinia, it is not the world. Austria goes, Czechoslovakia goes, Spain may go. Oh, but there is no threat to dominate the world. Those are only nations of whom we know little.' If there were a threat to dominate the world you would see how bold we should become." I believe that the greatest danger of war in the world to-day is the conviction of Herr Hitler and of Signor Mussolini that this country under the Prime Minister will always yield to the blackmail of a threat of force. That is where the great possibility of war exists.

We heard an account to-day of the visit to Rome, a visit which took place while British ships were being bombed by Italian aeroplanes. I wonder very much if it so happened that any British ships were bombed during the very days of the visit, while our Prime Minister and our Foreign Secretary were being so very well and efficiently received, to order, as we heard to-day. Does the Prime Minister still maintain his thesis that although British ships are bombed by Italian aircraft the aircraft are under the control of General Franco and that Signor Mussolini could not stop the bombing even if he wanted to? That the great Italian Dictator has no authority over his tool, General Franco? Will the Government continue to claim, and the claim was repeated today, not to have intervened in Spain when the most potent weapon which has been aimed at the Spanish Government has been the weapon of starvation and our refusal to protect British ships lawfully carrying food to Spain has been a most potent aid to General Franco? I wonder if during those conversations in Rome the subject of the bombing of British ships by Italian aircraft was ever mentioned; or was it considered too rude a subject to introduce into such a very pleasant tea party, and as possibly not in harmony with a British Prime Minister drinking the health "Long live the Emperor of Ethiopia"?

I also noted to-day that in regard to this visit to Rome the Prime Minister claimed it as a great merit on his part that he had not been talked into granting to General Franco those belligerent rights to which he is not entitled. Much of this Debate has turned on the question of intervention or non-intervention. We are agreed on this side of the House that nonintervention was perhaps the best policy had there been honest non-intervention on both sides. We differ from the Government, not necessarily on that, but because they have allowed non-intervention to be turned into a farce, operating to the benefit of one side alone. Looking back on the long sorry story of the work of the Non-Intervention Committee, does the Prime Minister claim that as the result of that work Italy and Germany have sent to General Franco one gun, aeroplane or man less than they intended to do? Of course they have not. The Prime Minister made no attempt to-day to answer the question why the Spanish Government should be denied their right in international law to purchase arms, while Italy and Germany have been allowed illegally to send arms to the Spanish rebels. The Prime Minister and speakers from that side of the House have repeatedly said that we advocate intervention on behalf of the Spanish Government. Apparently they are not able to comprehend the perfectly clear and simple statements made by my right hon. Friend that we advocate nothing of the sort, but only the restoration to the Spanish Government of their legal rights which they unquestionably possess in international law and which is a completely different thing from armed intervention on their behalf.

Every word that the Prime Minister says on this subject of the trouble in Spain shows that he fries to put both sides upon an equal footing. Frankly, we do not. We say that one side is the legal Government and that the other side are rebels against a legal government. The Prime Minister speaks of the war as a civil war, but we do not. We say that it is an Italian and German invasion of Spain in support of a rebellion. The statement was repeated by the Prime Minister to-day that to abandon nonintervention meant war. To say that is merely to defer to the German and Italian view that for Great Britain and France to accord legal rights to a legal government means war in Europe, but for Italy and Germany to intervene at will and at large on behalf of the rebels with men and munitions prevents war. That is a thoroughly Gilbertian view, and is also an absolute and naked surrender to the doctrine of force. Apparently it is no menace to Europe if Italy and Germany are allowed to intervene, but it would be a menace to Europe if the Spanish Government were allowed legally to buy arms to defend themselves against that illegal intervention.

The Prime Minister says that the Opposition have never concealed their partiality in this matter. It follows that he thinks that it is partiality to say that a friendly Government should have their legal rights. Let us look at the conduct of the two sides in this struggle. General Franco bombs open towns, machine-guns refugees, refuses the withdrawal of foreign troops, bombs British ships, kills British seamen and refuses to pay compensation for the damage which he does. We acquiesce in his victory. The Spanish Government refuse to bomb open towns, abandon that form of retaliation, send away their foreign troops, advocate mercy and humanity in the conduct of the war, nurse in their hospitals British seamen wounded by Italian aircraft, bury, with every honour, British seamen slain by Italian bombs. Their reward is that we acquiesce in their defeat.

We left the subject of intervention and were taken to the next subject of good faith and good will. The Prime Minister accepts the assurances of Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini and chides the Opposition for not doing the same. We simply go by the record, which amply justifies our incredulity. Instead of chiding the Opposition the Prime Minister would have done better to quote a few instances in which Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini have kept their word. We are dealing with men who make no secret of it, but say quite openly, as an article of their creed, that they keep an agreement only for as long as it suits their convenience to do so. We have heard Foreign Secretaries and Under-Secretaries in this House conceal information which must have been at their disposal and twist their replies to questions in order to deny Italian actions in Spain which the official Italian Press was openly publishing and glorifying. All that has been done to defend the strange hypothesis of Italian good faith, and is a very strange example of being more royalist than the King. Spain is the touchstone of German and Italian good faith. I remember the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson), who ought to know what he is talking about, saying:
"It is literally true that no vitally important political treaty has ever been signed by Italy that she has not broken."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1938; col. 102, Vol. 332.]
When the Prime Minister was putting forward his proposals for Anglo-Italian conversations he sweetened them to the House by saying that he had sent for the Italian Ambassador and told him most firmly that the conversations could be entered into only on the understanding that no more Italian reinforcements went to Spain while they were proceeding. Is it claimed that that undertaking was kept? Again the Prime Minister said:
"When I was at Munich Signor Mussolini volunteered me the information that he intended to withdraw 10,000 men or about half the Italian infantry forces from Spain."
Was that true, or is it true that 39,000 Italian troops fought at Tortosa? The Prime Minister said:
"We have received from Signor Mussolini definite Italian assurances that no further Italian troops will be sent to Spain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1938; col. 209, Vol. 340.]
Has that assurance been kept? How does the Prime Minister reconcile the presence of Italy on the Non-Intervention Committee with the statement of his own Foreign Secretary
"that Signor Mussolini has always made it plain that for reasons known to us all that he was not prepared to see General Franco defeated."
How can that statement be reconciled with the good faith of Italy in the work of non-intervention? While discussing Italian good faith could we be told when the Italian destroyers and submarines were sold to General Franco? The Government must have the information and it would be very interesting if they would inform the House of the date of the sale. Good faith! The late Foreign Secretary, speaking at Coventry some time last week, said that agreements and pacts had been signed and resigned with Italy and broken. That is Italian good faith. How does Germany keep faith? The Anglo-German Naval Agreement has been prominently displayed to the world in the Government's shop window, but it has been abrogated and is obviously now completely a dead letter.

On the strength of such a record of bad faith the Prime Minister asks us to accept further assurances that neither Italy nor Germany, but particularly Italy, have any territorial ambitions in Spain. Apparently Hitler and Mussolini have done all that they have in Spain out of love for General Franco because they think that he is such a nice man. When it is all over they will just accept a hearty vote of thanks from this great Christian gentleman and withdraw without asking for anything at all. Read the official Italian Press on the subject of what Italy thinks she is going to get as a result of her Spanish adventure. Territorial acquisitions are not necessary; submarine bases and air bases can be prepared and kept in readiness by Spaniards, with the necessary agreement about placing them at the disposal of Italy or Germany in case of need, and there can be agreements to permit the landing of men and of artillery near Gibraltar. The fact is that if General Franco remains, as we have very good reason to suppose he will, under the domination of Italy and Germany, the whole structure of our Imperial defence is undermined. It is not merely the Mediterranean and the Cape routes to the Pacific and the Far East that are threatened, but also the Atlantic routes to South America, and the wheat and meat that we should want to bring from there in case of war.

On the top of all this about good faith we are told that Signor Mussolini is what Sam Weller would call "werry strong" for peace. Can the Prime Minister tell us of one single thing Signor Mussolini has ever done for peace, except when peace was directly in his own interests, as it was at Munich when he prepared with Herr Hitler the agenda for the meeting? Was Abyssinia an example of Italian pacifism? Is Signor Mussolini in Spain in pursuit of peace? The whole Italian and German hypotheses is that their intervention in Spain does not constitute a breach of the peace! The Prime Minister accepts these assurances about Italian good faith. Well, if there were no "mugs," there would be no confidence men and how would the confidence men live? After all, confidence men must live. If there were no "mugs" and no confidence men, what would happen to the capitalist system? The Stock Exchange would have to close. And what would become of the lawyers? The capitalist system is founded on an unceasing supply of "mugs" and confidence men.

The Prime Minister has said to-day that our prestige never stood higher. I fear he does not read all the foreign Press. I think that, as with many men at the top, those under him only take to him the things which they know he will enjoy reading. In fact, I have heard that, to be "in the swim" with the Prime Minister, you have to learn the "crawl." He spoke about our allies and friends. Who are they? Might we have a list of these wonderful allies and friends who are all so proud to be in with us? He said that Herr Hitler's speech last night was very reassuring, but from Rohm to Benes there has never been a victim whom Herr Hitler did not reassure before he struck him down. I begin to get nervous when I hear that his speech last night was reassuring. In one crisis after another, from Abyssinia to Czechoslovakia, this country has retreated—and retreated, not to positions prepared by ourselves, but to positions carefully prepared for us by our potential enemies. Now all the reassurances, which have been repeated to us in one crisis after another, are repeated to us about Spain. I can only say that I hope for my country's sake that I may have to apologise to our Prime Minister and admit that in this case his reassurances were justified.

8.51 p.m.

I am certain that the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) is quite sincere in his very amusing and sarcastic remarks. He has been talking about what would happen if there were no "mugs" and no confidence men, but what about politicians? They would go exactly the same way as stockbrokers and other people of that kind. I do not think that the hon. and gallant Member will ever have to apologise for the Prime Minister—

I said that I should be very glad to have to apologise to him if he is right about Spain, and not wrong.

I beg pardon. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member will have to apologise to the Prime Minister, and I am sure he will do it in the most eloquent fashion. The longer one is in the House the more one believes in the sincerity of people's views. For myself, it takes me a very long time to make up my mind, but, after I have made up my mind, it takes an awful lot of shifting. Also, I think I have a perfect right to my own opinions, as hon. Members above the Gangway have a perfect right to theirs. I have made up my mind that General Franco, for a number of reasons, has right and justice on his side. My reason for taking an interest in this matter is that I have some friends in the Basque country, people whom I would trust implicitly, and they wrote and told me what was going on in their part of the country. They, luckily, managed to get away, but their estate was practically wrecked, though the house was more or less left alone, because they had one or two good Basque maid-servants, who, I suppose, were able to talk to the Reds. There were many people, however, who were not in that position. The tortures and murders that went on there simply sickened me.

I went on to inquire, because, like many of my friends in the House, I do not believe what is in the Press. I do not know why the Press should give such a distorted view of nearly everything that is happening in the world. I wish for the old days when in the newspapers one had statements of facts and facts alone, and they kept their leading articles for the discussion of those facts. We all want to know the truth about this Spanish question, but I have found it very difficult to get at the truth. I have made incessant inquiries on the subject. Take the statements in the Press about the bombing of Guernica. If anyone will take the trouble to get the pictures—they can be got for a shilling a time—of the mess in Guernica, they will find that it was nearly all road mines. I heard one man say that he was there, but it turned out that he was never within five miles of the place.

Did the hon. Member read the reports sent by Press correspondents on the spot representing papers like the "Times" and Reuters? Which does he think the most reliable—reports that were made months later, or reports from Press correspondents on the spot?

These photographs were not taken months later. It is just the Press that I have been objecting to, because, as I have said, I do not believe all that it says. We have been told that belligerent rights cannot be given to General Franco for the reason that there are so many Italians and Germans fighting for him. We have to take that as read. But when are we going to give them belligerent rights? At present they have 39 of the provinces and the other side have 11. It looks to me as if by Easter there will be 50 provinces on the one side, and that will mean all Spain with the same good government and law and order as are now found behind the lines in the Franco part of Spain. I have friends who tell me about it, and they say there is no trouble at all there.

If anyone gets up to protest against Franco he is put against a wall and shot.

I do not believe that that happens without a trial. I do not know where the hon. Member gets his information. He is evidently credulous. I am not nearly so credulous. We know that a good many people have been butchered in cold blood, but we have a good idea how many were butchered in cold blood by the so-called Spanish Government. There was a list of people each with a red cross against his name, who would have been done away with if Franco had not come to their rescue. [Interruption.] That can be proved. I was talking to a priest a few days ago and he told me that his name had been marked with a red cross and that he would have been killed if he had not been able to get away, or if Franco had not started what you call a revolution. [An HON. MEMBER: "What do you call it?"] I call it putting things right—and the hon. Member above the Gangway, if he thought he could get away with it, would do the same thing. I have a lot of friends in Franco Spain who are in business, and they say they are having no interference at all. I would rather be a Red in the hands of Franco than one of these poor fellows who are backing Franco who were in prisons in Barcelona and are having such a horrible time.

There are one or two questions I should like to ask. What about the Jose Luis Drez? I should say the position of that is very difficult indeed, because you cannot exactly intern it, as there are no belligerent rights. I shall be glad if my right hon. Friend will give me some idea of the position. And what is the position of our Ambassador and the various Consuls in Government Spain? Have we any there now, or have they been obliged to go? There may be some in Valencia. Then I should like to come to the question of the Italians and Germans as against the International Brigade. How many ships have we sent to Valencia to bring off members of the International Brigade who have been sent out of that part of Spain? It is very difficult to believe that there are no members of the International Brigade left there. If that is so, how did they get out, and who took the mout? It is known to everybody that there are many Germans and Italians who do not agree with the régimes in their own countries. How are you going to repatriate them? If you send them back to Germany and Italy they will be "for it." We know that there were a lot of Belgians, and they have not turned up. Have they been killed? There were a lot of Portuguese, and I am told that many of them have not gone back. If they are still in that part of Spain it cannot be said that there are none of the International Brigade fighting for the Spanish Government. I am told that a lot of passports have been lost and that a number of new citizens have turned up in Spain, though I cannot vouch for that with the certainty that I feel about many of the other things I have said.

We are quite certain that this war is nearly over. [An HON. MEMBER: "You were certain two years ago!"] Yes, and I was right and other people were wrong. I am quite certain it is only a question of a very short time. I think Easter will probably see the whole thing over. What is going to happen them? [An HON. MEMBER: "Another rebellion!"] No, I do not think there will be another rebellion. But Spain will want a great many things. We have heard much about Spain's love for Italy and Germany. I will not gainsay that, although I do not think there is as much truth in it as some people believe. But Italy and Germany cannot give them all the money they will want.

What about all the good things we buy from Spain, and the money we have invested in Spain? I am certain that from Franco we shall get a far fairer deal in getting some sort of payment for it. [Interruption.] I know my hon. Friends above the Gangway do not like to hear the truth, but they will find out in time that they were wrong, and, unlike the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton, they will not say they were sorry they were wrong. We have heard a lot about the totalitarian States. To some hon. Members, the term is like a red rag to a bull, but surely the principal totalitarian State is Russia. I believe that if it had not been for Communism you would not have had Nazism or Fascism. It is the wicked father or mother of both. It is none of my business how Russia is run, or how Germany and Italy are run. People generally get the Government that suits them. [An HON. MEMBER: "It does not suit the Jews."] The Jews do not like it, but I do not think the Jews were quite as clever as they usually are.

We have heard a great deal about the popularity of the Prime Minister in this country. I have seen no sign of any falling off in that popularity. I shall never forget the scene in this House when many people in the public gallery were waving and cheering because they knew there was not to be a war. If the Prime Minister has made any mistake at all it is in saying that he will not have a General Election now. But for that decision there would not be all this barking at his heels, because his opponents would be afraid of a General Election. To say that the Prime Minister is not popular on the Continent is a great mistake. I will give an example of what I know of a Scottish lady who had been in Germany. She was taken very ill indeed and had to go into a hospital there, and being Scottish she insisted upon paying the doctor. The doctor said that he did not want any payment, but at last the doctor said, "Oh well, there you are. Open that when you get home." Inside the letter were the words, "It is only part payment of the debt of gratitude the whole of the German people owe to Mr. Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England." [Laughter.] I can quite understand certain people laughing at that story and not believing it, but it can be proved quite easily. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) had better look out, because I am not sure that the lady does not live in his constituency.

I personally believe that the appeasement policy is a very good one indeed and that it is working well. We hear an awful lot—and we do not mind it—about the Rome-Berlin axis. I think that it will be found that the word "axis" was not in very common use until that was brought about. I believe that the greatest move that we could possibly make in this country is some sort of accord with the United States of America. I believe that it can be done and that it needs only a few clever and tactful arguments to be put before the people of the United States to show them how it would benefit them. I have been at a loss to find a word to match the word "axis." Somebody has suggested Trans-Atlantic "accord"—not a bad word—but there is another word which fits it best of all. It is the word "plexus." [An HON. MEMBER: "Solar plexus."] No, solar plexus is a little different. If you look it up in the dictionary you will find that the word "plexus" is "a knitting and binding together." It is a much closer form of union. I wish you would all make a row about it, as I would like the word to be taken up in the United States, so that they might do something about it.

I believe that if the English-speaking races could get together all fear of war and need for armaments would come to an end. War is a most horrible thing, but the only chance of stopping it is to be well armed and ready for it. If you are strong and in good condition no one wants to fight with you. If you let yourself get flabby and out of condition liberties are taken with you. I am certain that if his health is spared, the Prime Minister will be at the head of the Government for a long time to come. I hope that we can do something to bring this country closer to the United States. It is an effort which will be well worth making.

9.10 p.m.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middleton (Sir N. Stewart Sandeman) will forgive me if I do not follow his argument. It seemed to be a rather characteristic example of what was a little while ago a very common attitude of those who represent business and commercial interests in this country towards the Spanish issue. If I remember rightly, the hon. Member was one of those who at the time of the Japanese first invasion of Manchukuo were quite sure that Japan was doing a very good turn to British and other commercial interests by paving the way for the great entry of the West into Chinese commerce.

May I remark here that at a public meeting I said that I had found out my mistake a long time ago? Whenever I find that I have made a mistake I at once own up to it.

I honour the hon. Member for owning up to his mistake. I am afraid that it will not be very long before he may have to make the same magnanimous acknowledgement when he finds out how mistaken he has been in believing that Germany and Italy, and especially Italy, after they have spent so much money and blood on the Spanish struggle, are, if Franco wins, going to allow themselves to be left out while British gold comes in and makes a better bargain.

We intervened in the Spanish War against Napoleon in 1812 and made great sacrifices in blood, but we did not remain there afterwards.

I do not go back to what was done after the Napoleonic wars as I am not sufficiently a historian for that, but I know what happened to the hopes of those who knew so well what was going to result from the Japanese invasion of Manchukuo. I think that we shall make a great mistake if we believe that Italy and Germany have spent all they have on the Spanish issue merely for the sake of General Franco's beaux yeux are then going to have the prize filched away from them. I wonder how many Members read last Sunday the very interesting despatch from the Berlin correspondent of the "Sunday Times," a paper that has been anti-Republican Government in its general outlook. In it he summed up the four advantages which were expected in Berlin to result in a Franco victory. The first was that the Reich and Italy are far on the way to establishing themselves in positions of strategic superiority along British and French routes of imperial communication. The second was that the Axis powers are nearer to acquiring access to naval, military and air bases whose very existence, they believe, is bound to exercise a "deterrent" influence on British and French policy. The third—and I draw the attention particularly of the hon. Member for Middleton, is that they will be in a better position to obtain vital, natural resources available in Spain, notably, copper, mercury, rubber and tin; and lastly, they will be able to exploit the Spanish market. I think that that is a much more intelligent anticipation of what would be the result of a Franco victory than that of the hon. Member for Middleton. I could give many instances front the Italian Press to prove the same thing, but I do not want to do that.

It is not my intention to delay the House but I should like to deal with the general question of the Debate. In the nine years that I have been a Member of this House I have never listened to a Debate of a more depressing character. We all feel depressed. Whatever we may think about the Spanish issue we must realise that the skies are very dark and threatening. But there is another cause for depression to-day. During the speech of the Prime Minister I could not detach my mind from observation of the opposite benches, and as my eyes passed from row to row of hon. Members opposite I felt that I had never looked at a more doubtful, hesitating set of men. There was scarcely one outburst of applause throughout the Prime Minister's speech, with the exception of that which came from a Conservative bench immediately behind me from hon. Members who possess stentorian voices. The vigour of their applause made up for the smallness of their numbers. The feeling of uncertainty which prevails among those who support the Government, as well as other people, is but a reflection of the deep feeling of uncertainty which pervades the whole country.

I wonder how many hon. Members have studied the summaries of public opinion that are obtained by the Institute of Public Opinion, and published in the "News Chronicle." That newspaper is not responsible in any way for the way the opinions are collected. The records show a most remarkable change of opinion in the country on the Spanish question. In October, 57 per cent. of those whose opinion was taken were in favour of the Republican Government of Spain and 13 per cent. were pro-Franco. The remainder expressed no opinion. Three months later, when the same question was put to exactly the same constituencies, namely, "Do you want the Spanish Government or General Franco to win," there was a remarkable change of opinion. The proportion in favour of General Franco was the same as before, but the proportion definitely in favour of the Republican Government had gone up to 75 per cent. Those facts show the trend of public opinion. Proletarian British opinion has always been enthusiastically pro-republican. I have never known in my fairly long public life a question that has gone so much to the heart of the British working class and the British intelligentsia as the cause of the Spanish Republic. But the curious thing about this latest summary from the Institute of Public Opinion is that it was in the Conservative middle-class constituencies that the wave of opinion in favour of the Spanish Government was the greatest. They are awakening to the facts and are realising that this Government from the point of view of our vital interests have made a fatal mistake in conniving at a victory for General Franco by the assistance of Italian and German arms. I think the deadly nature of that mistake is likely to be brought more closely home to us in the future.

I rose, however, to speak more particularly on the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to refugees. Those of us who are passionately opposed to the foreign policy of the Prime Minister and his Government often remind ourselves that there may be factors which we fail to appreciate and that there may be deadly weaknesses in our home defence position that have caused the Government to take up an attitude on one international attitude after another that seems so pusillanimous and so treacherous. But we are confirmed in our judgment on the major issue when we reflect on the ungenerous and shortsighted attitude adopted by the Government on minor international issues such as the refugee question where there could have been little risk in a generous attitude. His Majesty's Ministers are by nature humane men and they must feel individually for the sufferings of the refugees from Spain, Germany and Czechoslovakia. We know, too, that the officials who have to carry out the regulations laid down by the Government on the question of the refugees have not only expressed themselves humanely but have often shown active humanity in individual cases. They work energetically, and there is universal testimony to the kindness with which they treat individual refugees, but what can one say about the general attitude of the Government on this question?

Take the subject to which the Prime Minister referred—the terrible sufferings of the refugees who are fleeing from the on-coming insurgent troops in Spain. The Under-Secretary also spoke feelingly on this subject at Geneva. There is, however, the old story:
"By their fruits ye shall know them."
What have the Government actually done to give substance to this sympathy? This country and France have the greatest responsibility of any of the countries not immediately concerned in the conflict for the non-intervention policy, and that fact involves some responsibility for the sufferings which the Spanish people are now undergoing. What have we done to relieve these sufferings? We have contributed twice over £10,000, and now the Government have promised another £20,000 to the International Commission for the relief of child refugees in Spain. That is a small contribution compared with what other countries have done. France in the last few years must have taken between 50,000 and 100,000 refugees from Spain, and maintained them chiefly at Government expense. We in this country found great difficulties in getting the Government to allow us to bring in 4,000 Basque children and to support them from voluntary funds.

France at the present time is besieged by hordes of starving refugees who are nearly dead from cold and terror, and the Prime Minister spoke of how nobly the French were trying to meet that position. What has Great Britain done to help France except contribute £20,000 towards the International Commission? Surely, we ought not to leave the greater weight of the burden to France. Could we not send ships to some Spanish or French port and bring shiploads of refugees to this country, to be temporarily cared for. Why leave it all to France, who have received so many refugees?

I have given way three times and I cannot do it again. I think that makes it worse. The Government did send, at a cost of £30,000, a ship to bring away well-to-do Franco refugees, but they have done nothing corresponding to that for the Republican refugees. The United States, a country so much further away and with so much less responsibility, has already given corn to the value of £100,000. Compare that with our £40,000 dribbled out by His Majesty's Government in instalments. Sweden, a small poor country, has promised £75,000—more than double what Great Britain has given or promised. So much for what Great Britain has done to help the miserable refugees from Spain. Let us turn for a moment to what she has done for refugees from other countries, in Germany and Mid-Europe. Here, too, we surely have some responsibility for the results of the Treaty of Versailles and of the Munich Agreement. We heard to-day in answer to a question the number of refugees from Germany who have been allowed to enter this country. We all know, from the recent survey, that there are half a million Jews alone who are being hunted for their lives, stripped of all their goods and in deadly peril.

Since the beginning of July only between 6,000 and 7,000 German refugees have been allowed to enter this country, of whom nearly one-half were children. We know that the regulations under which they are permitted to enter are such that it is mainly only the relatively well-to-do refugees who are able to get in because only these can obtain the financial guarantees demanded. We, unfortunately, accepted the fatal principle adopted at the Evian Conference that not a penny was to be spent from public funds and that everything done to assist refugees must be done by voluntary enterprise. There is not an expert on the refugee question who does not recognise that that is equivalent to saying, "We are very sorry for all the people who are in danger of being drowned by this flood, and we will do our best to rescue them, but, mind, we must use nothing but teacups to bale out the flood." Lastly, the refugees from Czechoslovakia have the greatest claim on our generosity. Let us grant, for argument's sake, that Czechoslovakia gained as much as we did ourselves from the Munich Pact, because it saved them from war. Does that apply to those who are trying to get out of the country now, because under its new Constitution it is neither for the safety of the country nor for their own that they should remain there? The men of German race who had the pluck to stand up to Henlein and Hitler, now that Czechoslovakia has become a vassal of Germany, dare not remain there. What has been the attitude of the Government? We were told to-day that 650 adult refugees and 160 children had been allowed to come in during the last four months but there are several thousands who are in deadly danger. We are apparently willing to abandon them to the danger of being handed over to their deadly enemies rather than risk a few thousand pounds in bringing them over. I know that the Under-Secretary has sympathy in this matter, and I appeal to him to do something to speed up the mechanism and to relax these regulations which are making it impossible for voluntary organisations to bring over more than this dribble of refugees because they make it necessary in every case, not merely to provide the cost of transport and maintenance, but the cost of eventual migration and settlement overseas. Cannot we risk a few thousand pounds rather than abandon these people to the terrible fate that may possibly await them? I feel that in this small matter we may appeal with some hope of success for the Government to adopt a more farsighted and generous policy than heretofore.

9.32 p.m.

No one who has sat through the Debate will seek to minimise the differences that separate those who have spoken on the other side and those who have spoken from these benches. To do so would not be fair to speakers in any quarter of the House. I agree, however, with one speaker from the Labour benches that we do not want to exaggerate any differences that there may be between us in foreign affairs, and I have been wondering whether part of the differences that have been so noticeable is not due to a confusion between two questions which are really quite separate. The first is this. Is the state in which the world finds itself such as to inspire confidence or anxiety? The other is, Is British foreign policy one which should forthwith be changed? I am not going to say that those questions cannot have any possible connection, but they are obviously independent. It is not true that, if all goes well, British foreign policy is necessarily right, nor, on the other hand, is it true that, because there are matters in various quarters of the world which naturally fill thinking men with serious anxiety, therefore British foreign policy must be changed. I am sure that every fair-minded man, wherever he sits, must recognise that the British Government governs Great Britain; it does not govern the world; and those who give us a great catalogue of everything during the last 10 years that has gone differently from what we should have wished, and assume that British foreign policy must have been at fault, are guilty of a non sequitur.

Let me give an example of what I mean. I think the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) agreed with the statement, so often repeated on the Government side, that war is not inevitable, but he went on to ask what people were to think when a Minister said that he was preparing for an early war. The hon. Member said that must surely mean that early war was probable. Of course it means nothing of the kind. It merely means that an early war is possible. I am not going to say that I think the world is free from anxiety. I cannot see how any thinking person could come to that conclusion. If it was merely a question of optimism or pessimism as regards the interpretation of last night's speech, I might possibly agree more with some hon. Members who have spoken on the other side than with the more optimistic view of the Prime Minister. If we examine that speech carefully and observe the propaganda now current in Italy against France and in Germany against this country, if we examine also recent economic changes and developments in Germany itself, we cannot, if we are honest with ourselves, free ourselves from anxiety. That does not mean that the policy of nonintervention should therefore be abandoned. It does not mean that in an uncertain world an attempt at appeasement coupled with a determination to be prepared if the policy fails, is not the best and indeed the only wise policy for this country to pursue.

A great deal has been said about the Non-Intervention Agreement. I do not think it has ever been claimed from these benches that it is a perfect or ideal arrangement. I certainly have never said anything of the kind, but what I have thought and what I still think, is that it was the best arrangement available which was calculated to achieve two results—to prevent the war spreading and becoming a European conflagration, and to secure, as far as any international agreement could, that the Spanish struggle should be decided by the Spanish people alone. The first of these objects has hitherto been achieved, but the second, as we all know, only partially. I must, however, quarrel with many hon. Members opposite and still more with writers in the Press, who consider not only that the Non-Intervention Agreement has been a failure but also that it is in itself an outrage against international law. The hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) announced that he was going to speak from the standpoint of international law and then gave utterance to many propositions which were wholly novel in the ears of any lawyer. What is meant when hon. Members opposite say, as they do with perfect sincerity, "What you ought to do is to restore the right of the Spanish Government under international law to purchase arms." I say that they should consider two questions; first, whether any such right exists under international law and, secondly, whether anybody has ever denied it. I know that that will fill some hon. Members with surprise, but I ask them to consider the position very carefully. If they mean that there is an absolute right in any Goverment to purchase arms, they must presumably mean that there is a corresponding duty in other Governments to sell arms.

Do they really believe that international law says that every country is under a duty to sell arms to other Governments? If they do not mean that, then they must consider what it is they do mean. The great weakness of speaking of a right under international law to purchase arms is that it seems to deny what everybody knows to be a perfectly good right in international law for any Government to agree not to supply arms to either side or to allow their ships or nationals to carry such arms. When hon. Members on the Front Opposition Bench talk about the scandal of denying to the lawful Government of Spain the right to purchase arms, do they realise the crime under international law of which they are accusing the United States of America, with whom they always profess to desire friendly relations? The United States is refusing to supply arms in exactly the same way as we are. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that the sooner they clear up their minds on this matter and realise that there is no outrage against international law in the Non-Intervention Agreement, the better it will be for clear-headedness on all sides.

I believe there was only one practical alternative to the Non-Intervention Agreement, and that was to grant belligerent rights accompanied by neutrality. One of the reasons why this course was not adopted was given by the Prime Minister—namely, that with the foreign intervention which is taking place it would be difficult to adopt the traditional policy of belligerent rights and neutrality. I would remind hon. Members opposite that, while we recognise the Republican Government as the government of Spain, there are other great Powers which recognise the insurgent government as the government of Spain, which very much complicates the problem and increases the risk of a European war if no Non-Intervention Agreement were in existence.

Many hon. Members opposite have talked about the scandal of this country acquiescing in the defeat of the Spanish Government. What do they mean by "acquiescing in the defeat? Do they mean that we should have come to an absolute determination to secure the victory of the Spanish Government? That would have laid us open to exactly the same accusation which they bring against other Powers. I would ask them to consider whether in calling so energetically for the abandonment of the policy of non-intervention they have considered the views of certain countries whose views should be considered. That is true of their attack on the foreign policy of the government generally. I wonder whether they have considered the necessity of consulting the Dominions? If they would turn to the resolution passed at the last Imperial Conference and also observe the welcome which the Dominions gave to the Anglo-Italian Agreement, they would realise how very far the Dominions were and are from sharing their disapproval of the foreign policy of the Government. I am not saying whether their criticism is right or wrong, but I am asking them most sincerely to believe that it is most important for the Government at every stage to consider the views of the Dominions; and there is not a single hon. Member opposite who has mentioned the rest of the British Empire to-day.

Again, there is the question of the French Government. An hon. Member opposite quite rightly said that in the Spanish question France is perhaps more closely concerned than we are, but hon. Members opposite have quite ignored the fact that the French Government and Chamber have come to exactly the same conclusion about not abandoning the policy of non-intervention to which our own Government has come, and I suggest that it is extremely dangerous and even frivolous to ignore the wishes and the determination of the country which must be our closest ally in peace and war. To show the extent to which the irresponsibles of the Left can go I notice that in the current number of the "New Statesman," a paper which above all others represents that intelligentsia for which the hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Miss Rathbone) expressed such admiration, there is an article which speaks of the cruel and devastating thought that a French popular front Government maintained a policy which betrayed Spain. They point out that pressure from a Conservative British Government is not a sufficient excuse. Then there follow these remarkable words:
"Nor is the threat, which has really been the decisive factor, that help for the Spanish Government would be opposed, possibly even to the point of civil war, by the French Right."
In other words, even if there was a threat of civil war in France, should France abandon the policy of non-intervention, the policy of non-intervention ought to have been abandoned. A civil war in Spain is not enough for the intelligentsia of the Left; they want a civil war in France also.

I come now to another matter. One argument of hon. Members opposite against the Spanish policy of the Government has been that it has somehow been contrary to, or inconsistent with, what they call a League policy. A good example of the nonsense that can be talked on this subject is given in a letter in yesterday's "Times" signed by, among others, the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Acland) and the Master of Balliol, in which there were the following words:
"The Spanish people, who are entitled to look for armed resistance from League members. …"
Nobody who has studied the terms of the Covenant can fail to know that that is nonsense. There is no automatic obligation for members of the League to take up arms on any occasion, and by the resolutions of the League itself, any taking of military action under Article 16 would have to depend on a unanimous Council or at any rate a unanimous Council apart from the interested parties. They entirely ignore the fact that this matter of the Spanish war has been before the League on several occasions. On two occasions, and two occasions only, was there unanimity, and that was when the Council approved the policy of non-intervention and supported the action of the Non-Intervention Committee in London.

The right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) mentioned to-day what was done at the League in September, 1937, and he quoted a speech made by a British Minister on that occasion, in which there was a reference to the possible ending of non-intervention. What the right hon. Baronet failed to tell us, and what is most material, was that the proposed resolution which the British Government then backed did not become a resolution of the League because two Powers opposed it and there were no fewer than 14 abstentions, including two members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

I thought the hon. Member knew—Portugal and Albania; and there were 14 abstentions, among them the Irish Free State and South Africa. It is no good whatever for those who oppose the non-intervention policy to try to pretend that the League is behind them in their opposition.

Lastly, hon. Members opposite are very indignant—and I think rightly—when they say that their opponents accuse them of wanting war. Certainly, I have never made any such accusation, but what I do say is that many of their criticisms of the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government are quite meaningless unless they want war. I have time to mention only two examples. Hon. Members opposite constantly mention the action taken over the Manchurian question in 1931 and 1932. At the recent by-election in East Norfolk, Lord Addison, in explaining the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government, so far forgot the facts and forgot himself that he said this country let loose Japan on China. I think that such a statement may have partly accounted for the figures of the result of the by-election. What a misrepresentation. Who would have thought from that that the members of the League of Nations, including this country, took action which caused Japan to leave the League of Nations?

Mr. Stimson's book is often mentioned in this connection. Certain inaccuracies in that book were pointed out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a recent debate, but assuming that every word in Mr. Stimson's book was correct, I wish more hon. Members would read that book. It makes it absolutely clear that nothing would have stopped Japan then except force, and that the United States were not prepared to join in the application of force. If the League of Nations had attempted to resort to sanctions, something would have happened which throughout that war did not happen—the Ambassadors would have been withdrawn by China and Japan from the other's country, Japan would have declared a blockade of China, and from that blockade there is no navy that would have been in a position to rescue China. Neither Russia nor the United States was a member of the League. England had no base anywhere near the scene of operations, except Singapore; Singapore was not ready, and the party opposite, who now pretend that there was something that could have been done against Japan, steadily opposed the creation of Singapore as a naval base.

I cannot go through the whole list of what hon. Members opposite call the betrayals or weaknesses of the Government. In the course of the Debate, one hon. Member mentioned the reoccupation of the Rhineland as an occasion when this country might have taken action. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said recently that that was one of the times when England ought to have taken action and did not. I remember that at the time the tight hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs was so much against action that he even criticised the Government for entering into staff conversations with France. This is the man who, after the event, says that that was one of the weaknesses or betrayals in British foreign policy. Austria has been mentioned. Which hon. Member opposite thinks that, apart from war, there was any way of preventing the anschluss? Has any hon. Member opposite ever suggested a way in which it could have been prevented? It is fair to accuse the party opposite of advocating a policy which would involve war only if they pretend they had a policy which would have saved Austria, when they know very well they had nothing of the sort.

In conclusion, I believe that the policy of non-intervention should not now be lightly abandoned; I believe that that is the view of the country which must be our closest ally; and I believe very grave results would follow upon the sudden abandonment of that policy now, an abandonment incidentally which would not save the Republican Government's cause. I close by repeating what I said at the beginning. I believe the state of the world in which we find ourselves is one to cause anxiety. I hope that whatever happens, the attitude of the Government will not be, "Do not alarm the people," but will be to trust the people and to tell them the truth. I have spoken recently in Norfolk and in my constituency, and I agree entirely with what has been said by various hon. Members in all parts of the House—that the people of this country still retain their ideals and the causes in which they believe, and that if those causes are threatened, as they may be, they will, given the right leadership, make an adequate response.

9.55 p.m.

Apart from the last few words, the speech of the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss), was a speech which, I think, would have been condemned by the Home Secretary, who in such delicate language, described certain people in this country as "jitter-bugs." I think the hon. Member's speech was that of the type of creature described in that indelicate term by the Home Secretary only a few days ago, his belief, apparently, being that firm words and understanding of a nation's intentions must mean war, and that the only way to achieve peace is to give away concession after concession. That is not the view which we take. Now that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is here, I wish to say in all fairness, because I have always tried to be honest with my opponents in this House, that his speech to-day was not one of his best efforts. It was at times facetious, occasionally caustic, sometimes rather petulant and gave no evidence whatever of an appreciation of the tragedy which confronts us to-day.

Even those in this House and outside it who sneer at every Spanish Republican as a "Red" or a Bolshevik, cannot deny that the loyal Spaniards have fought a heroic fight against overwhelming odds. Even those who were most cynical about the Spanish war, and who originally regarded it as a dog fight—that was the term used by a Member on the Government benches—with which we were not concerned, are now, as has been made clear, I think, in the speeches to-day, beginning to realise the dangers which a Franco victory might bring in its train. Yet, as we have heard from the Prime Minister, the Government refuse to budge. Full of sympathy for the refugees but not so full of it as to do them justice, the Prime Minister spoke in moving language of the pitiful condition of the men, women and children who to-day are refugees in their own land, and salved his conscience by the Government's grant of £20,000 with another £20,000 in the offing, and perhaps some more money if that were needed.

But, apart from that, the Government, as the Prime Minister has made perfectly clear to-day, stand idly by watching the recognised Government of Spain—still recognised by His Majesty's Government as the Government of Spain—fighting for its existence with its back to the wall, suffering agonies beyond description, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted, sustaining its defence with superb courage and showing what I believe to be an unquenchable spirit in the face of adversity. Yet, in spite of all this, the Government offer a little money and make an appeal to General Franco for humanity and clemency. Already 130 British ships have been attacked from the air by Franco's forces. The British Government have protested. Those protests have been received with contempt by the leader of the rebel forces in Spain and this new gesture of the right hon. Gentleman in the interests of humanity, this hope that clemency will be shown towards the civilian population, will, no doubt, meet with the same kind of reply.

The only moral drawn by the right hon. Gentleman from the picture which he painted this afternoon of weary, terrified refugees fighting against had weather and hunger and bombed on their way, was that the suffering would be much more terrible if the area of the struggle were extended. The real moral to be drawn from this is that the accredited Government of Republican Spain should have been given the right to defend itself. That is the proper moral to be drawn. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply to my right hon. Friend, reminded the House of the fact, of which, I think, we on this side were fully aware, that intervention was a fact before the Non-Intervention Agreement was reached, and that subsequently it was the policy of His Majesty's Government to do what they could to get foreign troops withdrawn from Spain. But, in fact, as time went on, intervention, notwithstanding the Agreement, was intensified with nothing more than formal protests and paper schemes from the British Government. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, watching this growing intervention by two great Powers on the side of the rebel forces and the relatively tiny trickle of assistance which came to the aid of the Spanish Government, took the extraordinary view, to which my right hon. Friend alluded, that the supply of arms to the Government side might precipitate war, while the use of the power of Germany and Italy undisguised could and would preserve the peace.

I have heard hon. Members to-day put forward the fantastic view that all this mass of force and arms used by Franco had been captured from the Republican side. That seems to me to be a purely fantastic view of the situation. Members of the Government know that it is not true. They know perfectly well that the great mass of the arms and munitions used by General Franco have been provided by two States with whom the Prime Minister is now in the friendliest association. The Prime Minister, after his series of disastrous talks in Germany last Autumn, declared in the House of Commons on 2nd November, as my right hon. Friend reminded the House, that the Spanish war would not now develop into a wider struggle, but after his recent talks with Signor Mussolini, he informs the House to-day that intervention, as he calls it—I have never called it intervention myself, but that is the right hon. Gentleman's own term—would be dangerous to peace.

This is a very curious situation. Is it that he knows that Signor Mussolini now has the bit between his teeth and is determined at all costs to go through with his adventure; is it that he knows now that whatever may happen Mussolini is determined to bring an early and final victory for Franco in Spain? Is that the reason? If that is so, why was not this disclosed in those talks at Munich, those talks behind closed doors, after which the Prime Minister came and said, "Spain is now removed from the arena of a general war"? If that be so, if it be that Signor Mussolini, at whatever cost and with the added weight of Hitler's speech last night, is going through with this adventure, then I say that this House ought to be told. Or is it, as the right hon. Gentleman informed us this afternoon, that intervention would have to be, to use his exact words, "on a considerable scale" and that intervention on such a scale might cause international complications? The fact that on the right hon. Gentleman's own admission a great deal would be needed to redress the balance between the two armies in Spain shows that the Prime Minister fully realises how successful the policy of non-intervention has been against the Spanish Government and how futile it has been as regards the rebels. There is no other conclusion to be drawn from that statement by the right hon. Gentleman.

But is it unreasonable to ask that even now the right to purchase arms when and where they can should be restored to the Republican Government? That is what we ask. We do not ask for intervention. I remember a Debate on the Spanish issue in the House of Commons six or seven months ago when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, following me at the close of a Debate, told the House that we wanted to go to war with Spain. That was repudiated by every Member who sat on this side of the House, and I had to intervene and say that our demand was the simple one that this Spain, fighting for its life, ought to have the right to buy the arms which it needs. That is the claim which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made to-day, and in replying to that claim the Prime Minister spoke of the extraordinary attitude of the party opposite. If I may say so with all respect, I think the Prime Minister's attitude is equally extraordinary. He is now trying to evade the elementary right of the Spanish Government to buy means of defence, by saying that other Governments can decide for themselves in this matter, but that we cannot afford to send arms.

I leave aside the fact that during the two and a half years of the Spanish War British arms have been exported abroad, and I come back to his statement that other Governments can decide for themselves in this matter. Why then does he not take the lead in scrapping the Nonintervention Agreement and restoring to its signatories the rights of which they have been deprived, or, to put it in this way, the rights which they renounced, of trading with arms in Spain? If the right hon. Gentleman says that nations can do what they wish, he is by that statement making himself an accessory before the fact regarding those nations which signed that agreement. The right hon. Gentleman, by his statement this afternoon, has admitted that the agreement is a farce. He realises the right of other nations, if they wish, to sell arms to Spain. Then why, I ask, has he not got the courage of his convictions, why does he not realise that this agreement is a farce, and why does he not, by washing his hands of the agreement and ending it all, if he cannot help them, if British manufacturers cannot help them, allow at least other people who have been bound by their word to come to the assistance of the Spanish Government?

The right hon. Gentleman spoke with some pride of the impartiality of the British Government, and he said that we on this side had never pretended to be impartial. That is perfectly true. I have never pretended to be impartial in this dispute. The whole of my sympathy has been on the side of the Republican, constitutional Government in Spain, and I am not ashamed of my position. I do not pretend to be impartial, and I am not at all sure that the Government's impartiality is unspotted. The Prime Minister quoted the refusal by the Government of the grant of belligerent rights to Franco as evidence of the Government's impartiality. I was against, and my party was against, the granting of belligerent rights to a rebel—[An HON. MEMBER: "To the hon. Member for Jarrow?"]. Let me say that belligerent rights have not been asked for by my hon. Friend. Our relations, so far as I am aware, are completely friendly. I would have regarded—and my hon. Friends will agree with me—the grant of belligerent rights to Franco as another concession. It was not, in my view, the actual grant of belligerent rights that was fundamentally important, but the sign of another concession to the two totalitarian Powers. In fact, the grant of belligerent rights was, and still is, far less important than the refusal to Spain of the opportunity to defend itself by the purchase of the arms and supplies it needed, and far less important than the series of events which followed the signing of the Anglo Italian Agreement.

The Prime Minister informed us this afternoon that Signor Mussolini intends to stand by the Anglo-Italian Agreement. Italy, he told us—I think these are his very words—has nothing to ask from Spain; Italy has no territorial ambitions, and he went on to say that Italy stands by the Non-Intervention Agreement when the plan comes into operation. I assume that Signor Mussolini's mind is working in the direction that it need never come into operation if he has his way. The Prime Minister—and I say this with all respect to him—seems to me to be extraordinarily gullible. I am sorry that one who comes from the hardware district of this country should believe everything he is told. That seems to me more than astonishing; it is, I believe, in a Prime Minister, unique. The Prime Minister told us after his Munich conversations that Herr Hitler has no more ambitions in Europe. He came back from Munich and, alighting from his aeroplane, said, "It is all right now." Subsequent events have proved that it is not all right now.

I do not propose to go into the various events and the statements and actions of Herr Hitler since then. They have hardly been conducive to the policy of appeasement. They have become increasingly—I do not like to use the word "offensive," but, at least, his statements and actions have made the Prime Minister's task of appeasement increasingly more difficult. Now he comes back and says he accepts Signor Mussolini's policy of peace. He accepts Herr Hitler's policy of peace in his speech last night. It is a strange policy of peace which, prior to the right hon. Gentleman's visit, leads the State-directed Italian newspaper to run a bitter campaign against the French Government. It is a strange policy of peace which led Herr Hitler last night to say—it is difficult to know what exactly he did say, because accounts differ—but he said, in effect, that whatever Italy does, Germany will stand by her. In view of what Italy has threatened in recent weeks that can mean only one thing.

I do not wish to cast any aspersions upon the personal integrity of the two dictators, and the right hon. Gentleman believes what they say, but they have been proved to have broken their word too often for me to believe what they say until they give an earnest of their good intentions. To those gentlemen speeches matter nothing. We have, and we could quote, a whole series of Herr Hitler's speeches in which he has made declarations which he has broken, and broken deliberately. The totalitarian dictators start a game of football under Association rules and finish it under Rugby rules. If I may say so, that is not British. We may differ as to which rules we should accept and which game we should play, but it becomes almost impossible to accept the word of people who have proved by their actions that they have gone back on their publicly declared word.

With Austria gone, with Czechoslovakia dismembered and now the puppet State of Hitler, with Spain bleeding and suffering, the Prime Minister believes that appeasement—these are his very words—steadily increases. Then, one may ask, why this intensification of rearmament? Why this boosting of the Royal Air Force the day before Hitler speaks? Accidental, it may be said. [HON. MEMBERS: "It was in the "Daily Herald!"] We must give hon. Members credit for knowing better than that. The whole Press of this country was ringing with the enormous development of the Air Force of Britain, and on an appropriate occasion we may say something about that, but now I am only just wondering why, with this belief in peace, the right hon. Gentleman, or somebody on his behalf, should have loosed this great story 24 hours before Hitler was to make a speech about which the Government appeared to be "jittery." Where are the potential war-makers in Europe? [HON. MEMBERS: "On the Labour Front Bench!"] Hon. Members opposite may think this is amusing. I hope they will get amusement out of it. I still put the question, to which we require an answer, Where are the war-makers in Europe? [HON. MEMBERS: "Behind you!"] It is a great tribute to the power of our party if it is thought that we are so powerful as to be war-makers. Everybody in this House knows where the danger lies. It lies with two men, and two men only. It lies with Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, the cooing doves of Europe. They are desirous of peace, they told the Prime Minister. They ought to know what they mean, and he believes them. Appeasement is steadily decreasing, with provocative actions having been taken ever since Munich by both those great Powers and with an intensification of the struggle in Spain.

The Prime Minister tried a passage of arms with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about the possible repercussions of the Spanish War. He said that my right hon. Friend was climbing down, but let me say that it is not the habit of my right hon. Friend to do so although it may be the habit of the Prime Minister. Then the Prime Minister, fearing that he had gone a little too far, said that my right hon. Friend had modified his statement. We have not altered our outlook at all on this matter. We do not know, in the unfortunate event of a Franco victory, whether Germany and Italy will evacuate Spain. The right hon. Gentleman says that they will, but we do not know. If they do not, will the position be one which does not gravely imperil British, French and other European interests? If that dread thing should happen, and the worst of all possible fortunes befall Spain, and those two great Powers still remain, will that be regarded with equanimity by the right hon. Gentleman? It will not. He knows that the British Empire will then be threatened in the Mediterranean as it has never been threatened before in its history, and he knows that for the first time Germany will then come out on to the Atlantic seaboard.

Suppose the right hon. Gentleman is right and that those Powers evacuate Spain and all the territories held by Spain—what then? The stubborn fact will still remain that the victories of Franco have been the victories of Germany and Italy, won by the weight and the arms of those two nations. I do not believe that the Prime Minister dares challenge that statement. Those victories will not have been won in the interests of this puppet rebel general but in the interests of the more powerful and ambitious motives of the two totalitarian States. I cannot imagine that Signor Mussolini tried this adventure, brought his country to the verge of financial ruin and spent money, treasure and lives because he liked the look of Franco. There must be some deeper motive behind it. And if it should be that the Republican Government were crushed, can we assume that Spain under Franco would be an independent State? Is it not more than likely that it would be subservient to and the instrument of the two totalitarian States that had brought him to power? Therefore, as my right hon. Friend said, British, French and other democratic interests are involved, and they are being sacrificed now by a Government controlled by a party whose proud boast it has always been that it was the architect of the British Empire. After Munich, the right hon. Gentleman was hailed by his followers as the saviour of peace. The saviours of peace were the people of Czechoslovakia, who offered themselves on the altar in order to avert a European war.

To-day the Prime Minister speaks of democracy. Its battle is being fought now round Madrid and in Catalonia, without even the moral support of the British Government which proclaims that it is democratic. That war in Spain is not yet over. Those who believed that the fall of Barcelona meant the end of the war profoundly misjudged the spirit of Republican Spain. But should that great nation, fighting for its independence, come to grief, and should the destruction of democracy follow in Spain, Britain's part and this Government's part will be one of the most shameful episodes in our history.

10.33 p.m.

After the onslaught which the right hon. Gentleman has just delivered on the Government, I should normally have been tempted to follow him into the political arguments which he has used, but I feel that the House will have appreciated the answer to many of his arguments, and will have shown by their applause the almost unanimous appreciation that is given to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for the improvement which is seen in the general international situation. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of disastrous talks in Germany. That is not the feeling of the friends of my right hon. Friend on this side of the House. Their feeling is that the personal contacts which my right hon. Friend and the Foreign Secretary have been able to establish with the leaders of other States have borne fruit. We have never, on this side of the House, exaggerated the extent of those talks but we have said that they have been worth while, and I am convinced that events will prove that we are right.

I will, in the course of my remarks on the very tragic and serious situation in Northern Spain which is before us this evening, deal with some of the arguments adduced by the right hon. Gentleman, but I wish first to turn to some points connected with the distress of the Spanish people at the present time. I think there has been general agreement in the House that the Spanish people have had a tragic time. Even since my right hon. Friend spoke, the situation has changed, and I can give the House the latest information on the subject of refugees in Northern Catalonia. Our latest information is that the Spanish Government themselves have told us that the neutral zone for refugees on the Spanish side of the frontier is impracticable, owing to the difficulty of finding at short notice shelters and accommodation for the crowds of these unfortunate people. If the Spanish Government were to find that this solution of a neutral zone on their side of the frontier was in the end practicable, our offer referred to by the Prime Minister, to urge General Franco to respect that area, would of course, remain.

Meanwhile, the French Government have opened their frontier to a proportion of these refugees and have appealed to His Majesty's Government to offer help on a generous scale to feed and shelter all those who have crossed their frontier. As my right hon. Friend said, there are, of course, difficulties on the French side of the frontier. The towns are small, the accommodation limited, and one can well imagine the immense difficulties facing the French Government at the present time. I am sure the House will not press me to go further to-night than to say that I am convinced the French authorities are doing their best to cope with the refugees' plight. The International Commission, as those who have studied their work can well imagine, have at once risen to the occasion. They have established canteens on both sides of the frontier. The American Commissioner has proceeded to Perpignan, and the officials of the International Commission are, I understand, basing their work on that town.

We have replied to the appeal of the French Government by saying that we propose to offer further help as the need develops, and I would like to answer the doubts that have been raised in the minds of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) and the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), lest His Majesty's Government were not going to be sufficiently generous in the help afforded to these refugees. I think they must be under a misapprehension. From the start, His Majesty's Government have helped the International Commission: in fact, it was, I might almost say, due to our initial grants, small though they may have been, that the work of the International Commission for child refugees got started and that other Governments followed that example. Now, the position is that we have promised another £20,000, not as a final sum but as a figure to enable them to get on with the difficult work at the present time. The work on the French side of the border will be done with the aid of the International Commission, the French authorities, the French Red Cross, and so on. I assure the House that we are aware of the terrible plight of the refugees and are desirous of providing help commensurate with their need, and that it is the wish of the Government to maintain the general interest we have tried to show in the work of the International Commission.

I am sure the House will bear with me if I just describe some of the work that has been done, since it is very important for us to consider closely this relief work in time of distress. I have been told that in parts of Government Spain where the Commission have been working food might have been regarded as almost the only currency in the districts, owing to the seriousness of the situation. I have been told of the work of members of the Commission, one of whom has, on every occasion, been about the last person to leave a town before it was taken over by General Franco's forces. Special arrangements have been made to enable child refugees to have special dried biscuits, dried milk and sugar to eat in the course of their journey as they leave a particular town which has been taken. I have been told by members of the Commission whom I have met at Geneva and elsewhere of the manner in which they buy their food supplies in France, and their milk in Holland and bring them to the suffering refugees on the north side of Catalonia.

The International Commission works on both sides in Spain, and I am informed that representatives are remaining in Barcelona and are putting their services at the disposal of General Franco's administration. Further, they are offering to extend help to any villages already occupied by General Franco, where, owing to the rapidity of the advance, the needs of the population left behind require immediate attention. I have been questioned by several hon. Members in this House on the subject of whether the International Commission will be a big enough organisation to cope with the immediate need because it started to deal with children alone. I can assure the House that we have investigated this point. We have found that with the aid of the French authorities and of the Spanish Government authorities the Commission will be able to bear the new burdens laid upon it, and that, as we decided at the League Council meeting, it is more effective to deal with the immediate distress through the Commission than to wait for a broader and bigger scheme, as is suggested in the Bray-Webster Report. Before I leave this question I should like to pay a tribute to the Society of Friends for the work which they have done, to the Friends' Service Council, and to the work of the International Council, the National Joint Committee on Spanish relief, the General Relief Fund, the Save the Children Fund and the Scottish Ambulance Unit.

It may be reassuring to the House, after the many controversies we have had on the question of non-intervention, and also on Spain, if I devote a few minutes to describing another side of the humanitarian policy of His Majesty's Government in the course of the Spanish struggle. The question of the exchange of prisoners has often been brought up by hon. Members on all sides of the House and has always had the pressing attention of my Noble Friend and myself. The hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir N. Stewart Sandeman) asked me a question as to what our representatives in Spain are doing, and I can tell him that our Minister at Barcelona and his staff have been closely in touch throughout in spite of the fact that the tide of war has flowed over the district in which they resided. His Majesty's consuls and vice-consuls have throughout performed their duty in a manner which has won admiration, and His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires now at St. Jean de Luz has also kept closely in touch. Perhaps some of the best, most careful and most difficult exchanges of prisoners to which little publicity has been given, have been effected through our Ministers in Spain. A large number of Spaniards have been exchanged in this way from one side and the other.

The hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities made a statement, which certain hon. Members repudiated at the time, in which she said that the British Navy had taken certain rich persons into shelter as refugees. I must answer that point. It must be remembered that one of the most notable achievements of the Navy was that in the summer of 1937 we gave Naval protection to British ships which evacuated some 50,000 supporters of the Spanish Government from the Asturias and Basque territory, and we also gave protection to a Spanish ship carrying refugees from Bilbao. That is typical of the kind of work that the Navy has tried to do in these critical times.

Hon. Members may be interested in the negotiations for the release of British prisoners, many of whom have relations among our constituents. Their release has, unfortunately, been protracted, due to certain unavoidable delays, but I hope the House will be satisfied with my assurance that those prisoners are already concentrated on the frontier, and I hope that it will now be a matter of days only before they actually start on their journey home. I should like here to pay a tribute to the Spanish Government. It is a remarkable fact that in the middle of this offensive the Spanish Government should have carried out to the best of their ability their promise to send away foreigners from the International Brigade and have actually transferred by night from the southern zone to Barcelona the members of the International Brigade fighting in the southern zone. Those volunteers have been withdrawn from the front and are waiting to be finally withdrawn from Spain.

I will give the figures of the success attending the League Commission's efforts for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers from Spain. A total of 4,640 out of 12,673 volunteers had been evacuated by the middle of this month from Government Spain, by virtue of the Spanish Government's withdrawal plans. I mention that because the Leader of the Opposition asked whether His Majesty's Government fully appreciate what the Spanish Government have done in this respect. He referred also to the bombing Commission which was sent to Spain, composed of two British representatives, to report on the invitation of either side on the bombing of civilian areas and to declare whether military or other objectives had been attacked. In this connection I should like to say that the spokesman of the Spanish Government, Signor Del Vayo, at the League Council expressed the Spanish Government's thanks for the rapidity with which the Committee has always responded to its appeals, and also for the lofty spirit of impartiality and objectivity with which its reports have been drawn up. I hope that in these realms of humanity and in the realm of the exchange of prisoners hon. Members opposite will be able to find something good in the Government's actions and intentions.

There is one further matter in regard to the exchange of prisoners, and that is the Commission of Sir Philip Chetwode, which has been specially interested in the exchange of prisoners. The respect with which his Commission is held will, we hope, soon result in the exchange of large batches of prisoners, though hitherto there has been little actual result from its endeavours. We believe, however, that the respect in which he is held and in which his Commission is held, has had a moderating influence upon either side in their attitude to the prisoners under their control. There is another piece of information which I should like to give to the House relating to the devastation caused by the Spanish War. Those who have attended meetings of the League Council will perhaps have been as impressed as I have been by the frescoes of the Spanish artist, Sert, in the League Council chamber. They depict those very horrors of war from which the Prime Minister is trying to save this country, and which I wish the Spanish people could have been spared.

May I ask how many international volunteers have been evacuated from the Madrid front?

The total evacuated from Spain amounts to about 4,500 out of 12,500.

I was referring to the Spanish painter for this reason, that there has been constituted, at the urgent request made to us from many quarters, and made also to the French Government, an International Committee of which the chairman is the director of the Louvre, to withdraw certain pictures which are some of Spain's most valued treasures. The director of the National Gallery has been co-operating with the director of the Louvre, and it is hoped that these pictures will be taken to some place of safety, such as Geneva. In any case we hope to find a place where they can be hung and shown.

Let me come, after dealing with this question of relief and certain aspects of the war, to certain of those political controversies which have engaged our attention in the many Debates that have been held on Spain. I think I can sum up the attitude of the Government, as was done by the Prime Minister, by saying that we have honourably stood by our pledges under the Non-Intervention Agreement and that we have followed throughout a policy of non-intervention. As my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) said, it is a great mistake in foreign policy to make out that His Majesty's Government are responsible for every other Government on earth. The Non-Intervention Committee is international, whilst His Majesty's Government are responsible for their own actions only. They have exerted the influence they have to frame a plan, and it is indeed our regret that that plan has not been carried out. We have acknowledged that there have been breaches of the Non-Intervention Agreement, but we have strictly observed our own non-intervention undertakings.

I was interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman's version, which I at once accept, of the Labour party's view of this Spanish struggle. He said, Let the Spanish Government buy arms. I think the whole of the difficulties of this comparatively simple solution from his point of view are summed up in some later words of his when he said, "Scrap the Non-Intervention Agreement." Our case is simply that, if you scrap the Non-Intervention Agreement, you will risk turning the Spanish problem into a world conflict, which we have so far been able to avoid. Therefore, sincere as are the right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Members opposite, we believe that the risks in accepting their policy are too great for us to be able to entertain them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain just what those words mean? Do they mean that we have not allowed the supply of anti-aircraft guns to save the lives of these women and children because Hitler and Mussolini might have made war on the British Empire?

My own version, I think, is correct, that, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, if you scrap the Non-Intervention Agreement you get into wider world troubles which we are not willing to face. The Leader of the Opposition says that from a strategic point of view we ought to adopt a different policy. He used the phrase that an independent Spain is vital to our interests. I believe that that sums up one of the main anxieties that are felt about our Spanish policy. I cannot, however, see that to widen the conflict as the result of the policy which hon. Members opposite advocate would be other than detrimental to the strategic interests of our own country. I am encouraged, when I examine statements made by both sides showing that, whichever may win the struggle, both are resolved to maintain Spanish independence. I have here a statement made by Signor Negrin, the first of his 13 points:

"To ensure the absolute independence and complete integrity of Spain; a Spain entirely free from all foreign interference, whatever its character and origin, with her peninsular and insular territory and her possessions untouched and safe from any attempt at dismemberment, seizure or alienation."
That is the view of the Spanish Government. Take the authoritative statement of the Burgos authorities, words written by them in August last in a note addressed to the Non-Intervention Committee. They said:
"National Spain does not wish to lose this opportunity of making known to the Committee and to the world, which is emerging gradually from unrest provoked by the perverse propaganda of its enemies with a view to complicating the international situation, that it solemnly reiterates its former affirmation that it is fighting for the greatness and independence of the country and does not consent and never will consent to the slightest mortgage on its soil, or its economic life and that it will defend at all times to the last handful, its territory, its protectorates and its colonies, if anyone dares to make an attempt against them."
These two statements show that the independence of the Spanish character will prevail at the end of the civil war, and they can be taken in conjunction with the assurances which the Prime Minister has received. To sum up, according to British interests and consistent with our international obligations I consider it is wise for us to pursue a policy of non-intervention in Spain. The Spaniards are a proud, brave and independent race. On both sides they may have accepted foreign aid in their hour of need, but of one thing I am certain that, after the war, they will return to their position of complete independence. This country will never seek, as it has never sought, any position threatening that independence. We have our interests there just as Spain has her interests in this country, and we shall seek to protect and develop those interests to the mutual benefit of the two peoples. The forces of culture, character and commerce which have brought our two countries together in the past, will, I believe, do so again. For our part I can say that we shall neglect no step to further legitimate British interests; meantime I remain convinced that in the circumstances impartiality in the war is the firmest basis

Division No. 26.]

AYES.

[11.0 p.m.

Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.Cooper. Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)Hambro, A. V.
Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.Hammersley, S. S.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)Cox, TrevorHarbord, A.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.Craven-Ellis, W.Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)Critchley, A.Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's)Croft, Brig.-Gen, Sir H. PageHeilgers, Captain F. F. A.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.
Apsley, LordCross, R. H.Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.
Ask., Sir R. W.Crossley, A. C.Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)Crowder, J. F. E.Hepworth, J.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.Cruddas, Col. B.Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead)Davidson, ViscountessHerbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)Higgs, W. F.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.De Chair, S. S.Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.
Barrie, Sir C. C.De la Bère, R.Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Denman, Hon. R. D.Holmes, J. S.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.Horsbrugh, Florenes
Beechman, N. A.Dixon, Capt. Rt. Hon. H.Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Beit, Sir A. L.Dodd, J. S.Hunter, T.
Bernays, R. H.Doland, G. F.Hurd, Sir P. A.
Blaker, Sir R.Donner, P. WHutchinson, G C.
Boothby, R. J. G.Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.
Bossom, A. C.Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)Joel, D. J. B.
Boulton, W. W.Dugdale, Captain T. L.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Bower, Comdr. R. T.Duggan, H. J.Jones. L. (Swansea W.)
Boyce, H. LeslieDuncan, J. A. L.Keeling, E. H.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G.Dunglass, LordKerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Brocklebank, Sir EdmundEastwood, J. F.Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)Eckersley, P. T.Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)Edmondson, Major Sir J.Kimball, L.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)Ellis, Sir G.Lancaster, Captain C. G.
Bull, B. B.Elliston, Capt. G. S.Latham, Sir P.
Burghley, LordEmery, J. F.Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.Emmott, C. E. G. C.Leech, Sir J. W.
Burton, Col. H. W.Erskine-Hill, A. G.Leigh, Sir J.
Butsher, H. W.Fildes, Sir H.Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R, A.Findlay, Sir E.Lewis, O.
Caine, G. R. Hall.Fleming, E. L.Liddall, W. S.
Carver, Major W. H.Fox, Sir G. W. G.Lipson, D. L.
Fremantle, Sir F. E.Little, Sir E. Graham.
Cary, R, A.Fyfe, D. P. M.Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Castlereagh, ViscountGilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.Lloyd, G. W.
Cayzer, sir C. W. (City of Chester)Gledhill, G.Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)Goldie, N. B.Loftus, P. C.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)Grant-Ferris, R.Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Channon, H.Granville, E. L.MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)M'Connell, Sir J.
Christie, J. A.Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.McCorquodale, M. S.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)Gridley, Sir A. B.MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)Grigg, Sir E. W. M.Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Colville, Rt. Hon. JohnGrimston, R. V.McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Conant, Captain R. J. E.Gritten, W. G. HowardMaclay, Hon. J. P.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)Guinness, T, L. E. B.Magnay, T.
Cooke, J. D, (Hammersmith, S.)Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.Maitland, Sir A.

we can have for friendship in the peace which will follow it.

10.59 p.m.

I hope the House will permit me just two sentences. We have heard with gratitude that the Government are going to do something to mitigate the sufferings of the unfortunate refugees in Spain, but I would like to add this: Some of us on this side cannot help a feeling of nausea of what I may call the new technique of first betraying a brave people and then expressing sympathy with them afterwards.

Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."

The House divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 133.

Manningham-Buller, Sir M.Ramsden, Sir E.Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.Rankin, Sir R.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Markham, S. F.Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)Sueter, Roar-Admiral Sir M. F.
Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)Tasker, Sir R. I.
Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)Tate, Mavis C.
Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)Reid, W. Allan (Derby)Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)Rosbotham, Sir T.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Medlicott, F.Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)Titchfield, Marquess of
Moore, Lieut.-Colonel Sir T. C. R.Rowlands, G.Tree, A. R. L. F.
Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Morris-Jones, Sir HenryRuggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.Wakefield, W. W.
Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)Russell, Sir AlexanderWalker-Smith, Sir J.
Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A, J.Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Munro, P.Salt, E. W.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Nall, Sir J.Samuel, M. R. A.Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.Sandeman, Sir N. S.Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
O'Connor, Sir Terence J.Schuster, Sir G. E.Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir HughScott, Lord WilliamWickham, Lt. Col. E. T. R.
Orr-Ewing, I. L.Shakespeare, G. H.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Palmer, G. E. H.Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Patrick, C. M.Shepperson, Sir E, W.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Peake, O.Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Perkins, W. R. D.Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.Wise, A. R.
Peters, Dr. S. J.Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)Womersley, Sir W. J.
Petherick, M.Smith, Sir R. W. (Abardeen)Wragg, H.
Pilkington, R.Snadden, W. McN.Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Porritt, R. W.Somerset, T,Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Procter, Major H. A.Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Radford, E. A.Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.

Raikes, H. V. A. M.Spens, W. P.Captain Hope and Lieut.-
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.Storey, SColonel Kerr.
Ramsbotham, H.Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.

NOES

Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)Groves, T. E.Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Poole, C. C.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)Hardie, AgnesPrice, M. P.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)Harris, Sir P. A.Quibell, D. J. K.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Hayday, A.Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Banfield, J. W.Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Riley, B.
Barnes, A. J.Hicks, E. G.Ritson, J.
Bartlett, C. V. O.Hills, A. (Pontefract)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bellenger, F, J.Hollins, A.Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Bevan, A.Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Rothschild, J. A. de
Broad, F. A.Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)Seely, Sir H. M.
Brown, C. (Mansfield)John, W.Sexton, T. M.
Buchanan, G.Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.Shinwell, E.
Burke, W. A.Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Silkin, L.
Cape, T.Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.Silverman, S. S.
Charleton, H. C.Kirby, B. V.Simpson, F. B.
Chater, D.Kirkwood, D.Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Cluse, W. S.Lathan, G.Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cocks, F. S.Lawson, J. J.Smith, E. (Stoke)
Collindridge, F.Leach, W.Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(K'ly)
Cove, W. G.Lee, F.Smith, T. (Normanton)
Cripps, Hon. Sir StaffordLeonard, W.Stephen, C.
Daggar, G.Leslie, J. R.Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dalton, H.Lunn, W.Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)Macdonald, G. (Ince)Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)McGovern, J.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Day, H.Maclean, N.Thurtle, E.
Dobbie, W.MacNeill Weir, L.Tinker, J. J.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)Mainwaring, W. H.Tomlinson, G.
Ede, J. C.Mander, G. la M.Viant, S. P.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)Marshall, F.Walker, J.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)Milner, Major J.Watkins, F. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.Montague, F.Watson, W. McL.
Frankel, D.Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)Welsh, J. C.
Gallacher, W.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)Westwood, J.
Gardner, B. W.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Garro Jones, G. M.Muff, G.Wilkinson, Ellen
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)Nathan, Colonel H. L.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gibson, R. (Greenock)Noel-Baker, P. J.Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Owen, Major G.Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Grenfell, D. R.Paling, W.Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)Parker, J.Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)Parkinson, J. A.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)Pearson, A.

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.

Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson.

Adjourned accordingly at Eleven Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.