I have upon the whole a good report to make to the House. On every battle front all over the world the armies of Germany and Japan are recoiling. They are recoiling before the Armed Forces of the many nations which in various groupings form the Grand Alliance. In the air, on the sea and under the sea, our well-established supremacy increases with steady strides. The losses by U-boats since the beginning of 1944, compared with former years, are almost negligible. The vast fleets of the Allies have sailed the seas and oceans from January to June with less than half the losses we have inflicted upon the small, dwindling and largely immobile naval resources of the enemy, both in the East and in the West. It is always possible that there may be a return of the U-boat war. There is talk of Germany trying to make U-boats faster under the water: there are various talks, and it is never well to discount these matters. It is always possible that the Germans may gain some temporary relative advantage in their aircraft. For these reasons we must be very careful not to relax unduly either our precautions or our exertions in order to turn our strength to other channels. Naturally, we wish to turn our strength increasingly to other channels: when one danger is removed a new opportunity presents itself; but we must be very careful, in view of the possibility of unexpected and usually unpleasant things turning up in future. But at this moment, throughout the world there is no theatre in which Allied mastery has not become pronounced.At Washington in January, 1942, it was decided that Germany was the prime enemy, and that only the minimum of forces necessary for the safeguarding of vital interests should be diverted to operations against Japan. Our joint resources, British and American, however, increased so rapidly that it became possible to wage the two wars simultaneously with offensive vigour. In the Pacific the immense armadas of the United States, equipped with aircraft and every conceivable form of craft needed on the sea for amphibious warfare, all on the largest scale, armed with science and led with commanding skill both on sea and on land, under both Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur, who commands not only American but also the powerful Australian and New Zealand Forces, have gained important and expanding success. New Guinea has been dominated, the Marshalls and Saipan have been taken, the fleets and other forces of the United States have already advanced through the far-flung outer defences of Japan, and in some parts they have pierced through the inner defences, thus opening to us the prospect of a much more speedy climax in the Far East. Many scores of thousands of Japanese have been by-passed, and are starving to death in islands and jungles, with only such aid from Japan as can be given by submarines which have to be diverted from their normal warlike use. The reverberations of these events in Japan, the sense of growing weakness on the sea and in the air, the sense of the vain dispersal of their forces and of economic tribulation at home, have produced the fall of Admiral Tojo, the chief war leader of Japan, whose accomplice the close colleague, Admiral Yamamato, declared at one time that he would dictate his terms of peace to the United States in Washington. It is not easy for us here to measure the character of the seismic forces which have produced this remarkable political and military convulsion in Japan, but it can hardly arise from a conviction among the Japanese that Admiral Yamamato's programme is being realised as fully as he and Admiral Tojo had expected. I must repeat that I am increasingly led to believe that the interval between the defeat of Hitler and the defeat of Japan will be shorter—perhaps much shorter—than I at one time had supposed. In the Indian theatre, coming a step nearer home in this long-distance war, the campaign in Burma has been difficult to follow in detail because of the ceaseless fighting and the intricate character of the country. Broadly speaking it may be said that at Quebec last year we planned advances into Northern Burma with the object of giving greater security to the immense American air highway into China. I may mention that the American highway carries far more tonnage than was ever delivered, or likely to be delivered in a measurable time, over the old Burma Road. It carries it over what is called the hump—the vast mountain range of the Himalayas—and deals with an immense tonnage every month. This of course is of the greatest assistance to General Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese in their long and hard-driven struggle. The House may imagine what a vast effort this achievement by the United States, indispensable to the life of China, has involved. We placed our hopes at Quebec in the new supreme commander, Admiral Mountbatten, and in his brilliant lieutenant Major-General Wingate, who alas has paid a soldier's debt. There was a man of genius who might well have become also a man of destiny. He has gone, but his spirit lives on in the long-range penetration groups and has underlain all these intricate and daring air operations and military operations based on air transport and on air supply. This forward move which had been decided on at Quebec involved rather more than 250,000 British and Imperial troops, with many more upon the long and precarious communications stretching back into India. This move met at an early stage a Japanese movement in the opposite direction, which had for its object the invasion of India and the cutting of the American air highway. Thus these two opposing forces came together in collision at many points along a 1,200-mile front, in the early part of February, and they have been locked in engagements of intense fierceness ever since, with the result that the Japanese have been flung backward at every point. At the same time important centres in the North of Burma were captured by brilliant operations conducted by General Stilwell from the North, with the participation of Chinese troops and with the invaluable support of the British long-range penetration groups operating against the enemy's rear. The thanks of the country should go out to the British 14th Army, which has done some of the hardest service in the whole of this war and must not be forgotten because of the violence and vividness of larger and nearer events at home. But there are many others besides the 14th Army whom we should not forget. When we think of the Fighting Forces we naturally think first of all those who are fighting on the main war fronts, but we should be wrong not to remember all those men who loyally serve our cause in distant lands and remote garrisons all over the world, whose steady and unspectacular work does not often get into the newspapers, men who in many cases have not had the stimulus of engagement in battle, men who have not seen their families or their homes for four years or five years, or more. They may be far away, but their work is an essential part of the pattern of victory, and, as such, it rests for ever in our hearts. To return to Burma, Admiral Mountbatten and his commanders fought a successful and vigorous campaign in these unprofitable jungles and swamps in which our duty lies. The Japanese, everywhere driven back, sustained losses far exceeding our own. India has been successfully defended from invasion for another year, the air line to China strengthened and maintained and danger warded further off its necessary bases. In addition, Admiral Somerville, now at the head of a powerful British Eastern fleet, which includes fine French and Dutch units, has shown enterprise in his attack upon Sabang and Sourabaya and other Japanese points in the Dutch East Indies. Our Fleet in Eastern waters will be greatly strengthened at the end of the year. It is probable, however, that the Japanese Navy will have its time fully taken up with the Navy of the United States, which is already double the size of the fleet of that presumptuous, ambitious and treacherous Oriental Power. I thought it right to bring the Burma scene before the House, because our men out there are cheered by the fact that the House of Commons follows with attentive eyes their fortunes and their achievements. Now I come to a larger matter. A volume would be required to recount the story of the crossing of the Channel and the landing of the Armies of Liberation upon the soil of France. I have only a few minutes, and therefore I must practise the selective art as far as possible. In April, 1943, General Morgan, of the British Army, became the head of the British and American Planning Staff, which surveyed the whole project by the decision of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee. They made a plan, which I took with me last year to Quebec, where it was submitted to the President and the Combined British and American Chiefs of Staff. This plan selected the beaches for the attack and presented the outlines of the scheme, together with a mass of detail to support it. It received in principle complete agreement. It is rather remarkable that a secret of this character, which had to be entrusted from the beginning to scores, very soon to hundreds and ultimately to thousands of people, never leaked out either in these Islands or the wide expanses of the United States. At Teheran we promised Marshal Stalin we would put this plan, or something like it, into operation at the end of May or the beginning of June, and he for his part promised that the whole of the Russian Armies would be thrown, as indeed they have been, into general battle in the East. In January of this year, the commanders were appointed. The Mediterranean had a British commander, General Wilson, and General Eisenhower assumed the command of the Expeditionary Force gathered in Britain. No man has ever laboured more skilfully or intensely for the unification and good will of the great Forces under his command than General Eisenhower. He has a genius for bringing all the Allies together and is proud to consider himself an Allied as well as a United States Commander. The names of all the distinguished commanders are already familiar to the House and the country. General Eisenhower forthwith appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Army, General Montgomery, to the command of all the invading troops, British and American. For more than a year past, American stores, equipment and men have been moving steadily into these Islands, and we ourselves have selected from the British Armies here an expeditionary force which was practically as large as that of the United States in the opening stage. Great reinforcements which flow in from America have already altered, and will continually alter, that balance but in the great adventure we were practically equal. The training of all these troops was undertaken in a most strenuous fashion. The plan also provided for the successive landings which were to be made in relation to the major thrust. The great episode seemed to everyone to be the crossing of the Channel with its stormy waters, swift currents and 18-foot rise and fall of the tide, and above all the changes of weather, which when an operation as big as this has to be undertaken might easily cut a portion of the Army off upon the shore for several days without anyone being able to get to them, to reinforce them or even to withdraw them, and thus leave them at the mercy of a superior enemy. That was the element, this possible change in the weather, which certainly hung like a vulture poised in the sky over the thoughts of the most sanguine. In all these matters, the work of the Combined Operations Headquarters, founded in 1940 under Admiral Keyes for the purpose of amphibious warfare, and developed since 1942 by Admiral Mountbatten, proved its value. As is well-known, I was opposed to making this great invasion across the Channel in 1942, and thereafter it was plainly impossible in 1943, owing to our having chosen the Mediterranean and our amphibious resources all being concentrated there. Now we were all agreed, and the Commanders took the vast mass of knowledge which had been accumulated and put their own stamp upon it, improving the plans in many ways and animating and training their troops to fit in to its different phases and features. I do not believe myself that this vast enterprise could have been executed earlier. We had not the experience. We had not the tackle. But, before we launched the attack in 1944 we had made five successful opposed landings in the Mediterranean, and a mass of wonderful craft of all kinds had been devised by our Services and by our United States colleagues on the other side of the ocean. The bulk of these had to be constructed in the United States, although our yards were strained and gorged to the utmost. There are more than 60 variants of these landing craft and escort vessels, and they provide for the landing, not only of an Army, but for everything that an Army can need. For instance, I myself saw a few days after the landing was complete six of these large landing craft—I should say, medium landing craft, vessels of considerable size—charge up in line together till they were stopped by the sloping sandy beach; down fell their drawbridges, out poured their vehicles, and in five minutes an entire heavy battery was drawn up in column of route ready for immediate, or almost immediate, action. I had this timed, because I certainly thought it would be a matter of hours, but in less than 15 minutes these heavy craft had pushed themselves off the shore and were returning to England for another consignment. This is a new atmosphere, a new light upon the possibility of an invasion across the Channel, which I hope will not be altogether lost upon our own people in the days when many of us have handed over our burdens to others. The marvellous American invention, the "Duck," spelt D.U.K.W., is a heavy lorry which goes at between 40 and 50 miles per hour along the road, and can plunge into the water and swim out for miles to sea in quite choppy weather, returning with a load of several tons, coming ashore and going off to wherever it is specially needed. An immense system of harbours, breakwaters and landing stages was also prepared which, as soon as the foothold was gained, could be disposed in their appropriate places to give large sheltered water space. In less than a month, harbours had been created compared with which Dover seems small. At these harbours, and on the beaches they protect, a very large Army, with the entire elaborate equipment of modern armies, which have about one vehicle for every four or five men, was landed, and by the end of June, in spite of the worst June gale for 40 years, a solid base had been created which gave us the certainty of being able to conduct an offensive campaign on the largest scale against any Forces which, according to our calculations, the enemy was likely to bring. These operations were protected and supported by a considerable British Fleet, assisted by a strong detachment of the American Fleet, the whole under Admiral Ramsay. In spite of gales, in spite of mines, in spite of more than 100 German submarines waiting baffled in the Biscay ports, and a swarm of E-boats and other marauders, ceaseless traffic has been maintained over the 100-miles stretch of Channel, and General Eisenhower, with his lieutenant, General Montgomery, now stand at the head of a very large and powerful Army, equipped as no Army has ever been equipped before. Overwhelming air power was, of course, as indispensable as sea power to the carrying out of such an operation. The strategic bombing by the combined British and American Bomber Forces, and the use of the medium bomber and fighter forces, was the essential prelude to our landing in Normandy. Preparations definitely began for the battle in April, and, not only at the point of attack, for that would have revealed much, but necessarily impartially all along the coast and far in the rear. Thus when our ships crossed the Channel, unseen and unmolested, half the guns that were to have blown them out of the water were already dismantled or silent, and when the counter-attack began on the land and under the sea, the Tactical and Coastal air forces held it back while our foothold on shore and our sea-lanes were being firmly established. These deeds of the Air Force were not done without losses, which, in killed and in proportion to the number of flying personnel, far exceed those of any other branch of the Services. If we take 1st April as the opening of the air campaign from then till 30th June, over 7,000 men of the Home Command of the R.A.F. alone have been killed or are missing. United States losses are also most severe. The devotion of the pilots and the air crews of both countries was sublime. Since those days we have been in constant battle, General Omar Bradley clearing the Cherbourg Peninsula and General Dempsey occupying the area around Caen. We have inflicted losses on the enemy which are about double those we have suffered ourselves. It is remarkable considering we were the challengers, and unusual compared with the experiences of the last war. We have been hampered continually by the most unseasonable weather, which by its early mists and low clouds has day after day put off operations by rendering impossible the avalanche of fire and steel with which our air power prepares for an attack. Now at last we are gaining that space in which to deploy which is necessary for Armies of the size that we are using. I must confess that the latest news seems to me extremely good. The first American Army advancing down the Atlantic coast has reached the line of the River Selune and may well be approaching the important railway centre of Rennes, about halfway across the base of the Brest Peninsula. Further to the East the Americans have by-passed the town of Villedieu-les-Poeles and have captured Brecey. The British attack has also made very great progress and has advanced in the centre about 12 miles. On the Canadian front South of Caen we attacked yesterday and heavy fighting is in progress. We are largely superior to the enemy in men, in armour and in the air, and I have little doubt in mobility also once the front is widened. It is the wish and also the policy of General Eisenhower that the battle for Normandy should be viewed as a whole and as one single set of operations conducted by an Allied Force, linked in brotherhood and intermingled in every manner that may seem convenient. But this should certainly not prevent the British House of Commons from expressing its unstinted admiration for the splendid and spectacular victories gained by the United States troops under General Bradley both at Cherbourg and in the Southward march, now become almost a gallop, down the peninsula. The Germans have certainly had remarkable opportunities of revising the mocking and insulting estimate which they put upon the military value of the American Army at the time they declared war upon the great Republic. We, British and Canadians too, have taken our full share in these fierce and prolonged conflicts. We have fulfilled the indispensable part which was assigned to us by the Supreme Commander and, under him, by General Montgomery. If General Eisenhower as Supreme Commander or General Montgomery, as his lieutenant in the field, had ever in the slightest degree to consider whether they would employ British or American or Canadian troops in this way or in that, here or there, on any grounds other than military those officers would have been hampered in a most grievous manner. But lest our enemies should suggest upon their wireless that the burden of the struggle has been unfairly shared or make invidious comparisons of any kind, let me say that the losses of the British and Canadian Forces together are about equal to those of the larger United States Army in proportion to their relative strength. It has been share and share alike, in good fortune and bad, all along the front. So far as it has gone, this is certainly a glorious story, not only liberating the fields of France after atrocious enslavement but also uniting in bonds of true comradeship the great democracies of the West and the English-speaking peoples of the world. That is all I wish to say of the actual operations across the Channel to-day. Members would be well advised to follow them with the closest attention. Very full and excellent accounts are given in the Press. Very often they are ahead of the official news, and they are not incorrect, because more care has to be taken about anything that is said officially. A most lively and true picture is given by the Press at the present time, by the accounts we have of this fighting so near home.
The "Daily Worker" would give a fine picture if it got the chance.
Yes, I have no doubt. Lots of things are happening which will cause the hon. Gentleman pleasure, and the paper of which he is certainly an admirer. I promised some weeks ago to refer to the question of the British tanks before the end of the Session, and, with the permission of the House, I will make a short divagation from my theme, as this is the last opportunity.I have told the House how at the time of the fall of Tobruk the President gave the first 350 Sherman tanks which had already been issued to the American Army and we know that they played a key part in the Battle at Alamein. When I went back to America a year after, I found that there was an ample supply of these tanks, formerly so precious and rare, from the flow of American mass production which had got into its stride, and they were able to offer us 3,000 or 4,000 more of those invaluable weapons. This was of great advantage to us. We were able to carry through a further redisposition of our tank programme and to reduce the scale of our production, thus releasing man-power and materials for making other instruments of war which were urgently required. We were able also to carry through the development of the Cromwell, the Churchill and other types in an orderly manner freed from fear of a shortage of tanks in the hands of the troops. The Sherman tank has maintained its reputation gained in Africa at every stage in the battles in Italy and Normandy. It is of course essentially a cruiser tank, like the Cromwell, which is the largest type of British cruiser tank. Both these tanks are reported to be excellent and trustworthy for the purposes for which they were designed. As the House knows, we succeeded in mounting the 17-pounder gun in the Sherman, a remarkable feat, and many hundreds of these are either in action in Normandy or moving thither in a steady stream. General Montgomery has written as follows about the recent battle:
Well, they say the customer is always right. The Cromwell, of course, possesses superior speed, which will be specially effective when and if we come as we may into more open country. As to the Sherman, I saw with my own eyes last week an example of the work of the 17-pounder. It was on the approaches to Caen. There was an expanse of large fields of waving corn out of which a grey stone village rose. Generals Montgomery and Dempsey brought me to this spot and invited me to count the broken-down Panther tanks which were littered about. I counted nine in the space of about 1,000 yards square. The generals then told me that all these nine had been shot with a 17-pounder from one single British Sherman tank from the side of the village wall. One cannot help being impressed by these things when one sees them with one's own eyes. Of course you will never get the same armour in a 30-ton tank as you will in one of 60 tons. But mobility, speed and manoeuvrability also count high, and when the 17-pounder gun is added to all these qualities, no one has the right to say that these lighter tanks are not fitted in every way for their task and are not a wise and far-seeing employment of our war power. I am afraid all this must be causing pain and sorrow to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes)."In the fighting to date we have defeated the Germans in battle, and we have had no difficulty in dealing with the German army once we had grasped the problem. In this connection British armour has played a notable part. The Panther and Tiger tanks are unreliable mechanically and the Panther is very vulnerable from the flanks. Our 17-pounder guns will go right through them. Provided our tactics are good we can defeat them without difficulty."
That is not the whole story.
The hon. Member had better pull himself together, because there is worse to come. The notorious Churchill tank, the most thick-skinned weapon in Europe, also won commendation. This tank was originally conceived in 1940, for fighting in the lanes and in the enclosed country of this Island, and in spite of every form of abuse as well as the difficulty inherent upon haste in design and construction, it is now once again coming into its own as it did for a short while in Northern Tunisia in 1942. It is coming into its own because the conditions of the war in France and in parts of Italy in which we are now fighting are extremely suitable to its climbing and manoeuvrable qualities and heavy armour. No particular type can be perfect. The Tiger and the Panther are, essentially, weapons of defence, whereas the Cromwell and Sherman belong to the offensive. The Churchill can be either defensive or offensive as circumstances may require. I pass from these technical details. General Oliver Leese reports as follows about the fighting in Italy:
I saw also that in the recent fighting in France similar distinction has been gained by these weapons in the assault in some of these wooded hills and in this very thickly enclosed country in which our centre is now moving. But there is one more general feature which has emerged in the fighting in Normandy to which I must draw the attention of the House. No new tank weapon or type of ammunition has been employed by the enemy. They have brought out nothing new so far, whereas we have put into operation for the first time in these operations the Sherman tank mounting the 17-pounder, the latest Churchill tank, the new Cromwell tank and we have also a number of interesting variants of very great ingenuity, which I cannot tell the House about to-day, because we do not know whether the enemy have had an opportunity of testing them and tasting them. It is only when I know they know, that the secrets can be unfolded. One has to be very careful because people object very much indeed if anything is revealed which seems to take away any chance that our troops may enjoy in this country and with our Allies. In leaving this subject of equipment, I am going to do something that has never been done before, and I hope the House will not be shocked at the breach of precedents. I am going to make public a word of praise for the War Office. In all the 40 years I have served in this House I have heard that Department steadily abused before, during and after our various wars. And if my memory serves me aright I have frequently taken part in the well-merited criticism which was their lot. But when I last saw General Montgomery in the field he used these words which he authorised me to repeat if I chose. He said:"It may interest you to know of the fine performance of the Churchill tanks, which supported the Canadian Corps when they attacked and broke through the Adolf Hitler line last month. They stood up to a lot of punishment from heavy anti-tank guns. Several tanks were hard hit without the crews being injured. They got across some amazingly rough ground. Their 6-pounder guns made good penetration and were quick to load and aim."
That is what he said, and I must say I think it is a well-justified statement. The punctual movement and supply of our large Armies in so many varied theatres, the high standard of training imparted to the troops, the smoothness with which arrangements of all kinds are fitted together, the meticulous care bestowed upon equipment in all its forms, the efficiency of the hospitals, the large share taken by officers in the Army in the devising of instruments for every form of amphibious warfare, the whole manner in which the affairs of the millions of men now with the Colours at home and abroad have been handled, reflect high credit upon the War Office with all its innumerable branches and its enormous staff, military and civilian. They all deserve credit, and none more than the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, that great officer Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, and also my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. Indeed I may say that not only in the War Office, but throughout the Service Departments, the whole method and execution of war policy stand, I believe, at this moment at a higher level than they have ever reached before, and at a level which compares not unfavourably with similar organisations in any other country, whether friend or foe. War is a hard school, but the British, once compelled to go there, are attentive pupils. To say this is by no means inconsistent with any criticisms that it may be necessary to put forward from time to time. I must now turn to the campaign of General Alexander in Italy. When I spoke about this in February, how different was the scene! The Army seemed to be frustrated, dammed up in the defiles and caves of Cassino; the landing force which we had at Anzio and which we had hoped would resolve the deadlock was itself penned in and had, indeed, to fight for its very existence and on the turn of a card depended the life of that strong force; our very heavy losses; other operations apparently being delayed; the capture of Rome continually put off the enemy sending reinforcements down, and so forth—an effect of standstill. Criticisms came, as they do wherever success is absent, of those responsible. But now the scene is changed. By a series of very rapid and brilliant manoeuvres based upon a victory of sheer hard fighting, sheer dogged ding-dong fighting, the whole scene is changed. The Army rapidly advanced; it made contact with the Anzio bridgehead; it flung its encircling claws round Rome, protecting the city from all danger. It is absolutely free from all danger now. The Air Force guards it from attack from without. General Alexander's Army rolled forward, rapidly pushing the enemy before it, taking 50,000 or 60,000 prisoners, up the whole of the long leg of Italy, and now stands before Florence. It has gained the valuable ports of Leghorn and Ancona as well as bringing forward its railhead in the centre into much closer proximity. We have had of course to move up this Italian peninsula with very unsatisfactory lines of supply, but with the command of the sea and the ports and the advance of the railhead, the position of that Army becomes very greatly strengthened. We may hope that operations of the utmost vigour will be continued by General Alexander and his Army throughout the summer and autumn. What an extraordinary Army it it! There has never been anything like it, and there is nothing which could so bring home to one how this is a war of the United Nations. You have the British and the United States troops, the New Zealanders, the American Japanese troops, who have fought with great vigour, the Greeks are coming—some are already there—a Brazilian force is already beginning to take its place upon the field, the French are there, the South Africans are there, the Poles have greatly distinguished themselves, and, of course, bearing a most important part, our gallant Indian troops. There are also powerful Canadian forces. I was not reading this out from a list, but it is really a most extraordinary' parade of all the nations advancing to cleanse the Italian soil. There are Italians also, because respectable Italian forces, in strength, have been fighting well, and we are going to increase their numbers."I doubt if the British War Office has ever sent an Army overseas so well equipped as the one fighting now in Normandy."
Some of the respectables are Communists.
The hon. Gentleman may sometimes conceivably be biased. He wants good guidance to show him not to push his bias too far. Things are going very well in Italy. I must say that in talking about all these various campaigns that are going on at once all over the world, I have left the obvious, essential fact till this point, namely, that it is the Russian Armies who have done the main work in tearing the guts out of the German army. In the air and on the oceans we could maintain our place, but there was no force in the world which could have been called into being, except after several more years, that would have been able to maul and break the German army unless it had been subjected to the terrible slaughter and manhandling that has fallen to it through the strength of the Russian Soviet Armies.I salute Marshal Stalin, the great champion, and I firmly believe that our 20 years' treaty with Russia will prove to be one of the most lasting and durable factors in preserving the peace and the good order and the progress of Europe. It may well be that the Russian success has been somewhat aided by the strategy of Herr Hitler—of Corporal Hitler. Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in some of his actions. Here he now finds himself with perhaps ten divisions in the North of Finland and 20 or 30 divisions cut off in the Baltic States, all of which three or four months ago could have been transported with their material and their weapons to stand between Germany and the Russian ad- vance. Do not tell him how to do it. It is far too late for him to achieve that at the present time. Altogether, I think it is much better to let officers rise up in the proper way. I have tried to give the House what cannot be more than a sweeping glance of this world-wide war as it approaches the end of its fifth year, and also as it approaches perhaps its closing phase. I naturally end my military survey at home here in famous and mighty London—in London which, with the surrounding counties, particularly those upon what may be called the bomb-highway, has now been under almost continual bombardment for seven weeks. In all, by our calculations—and I procured the latest for the House—5,735 of these robots have been launched upon us, killing 4,735 persons, with 14,000 more or less seriously injured. There are also many slightly injured. The result has been a sad tale of human sorrow and, suffering, and a wholesale destruction of homes, with all the difficult circumstances attaching to that for people who have lost all the little articles on which their memories and affections centre. We are sure that our defences are gaining in power. We press to the utmost our counter-offensive measures. The patience and courage of our people at a time when they might have thought that for London her trials were past have been wonderful. We are sure that the people will continue to the end. I fear greatly to raise false hopes but I no longer feel bound to deny that victory may come perhaps soon. If not, we must go on till it does. How long it will be we do not know, but there will be unfading honour for all the brave hearts that never failed. The working of all the Civil Defence services, men and women, has been a model. About 17,000 houses have been totally destroyed and about 800,000 have received damage. One can judge the efficiency and vigour of the measures taken by the Ministries involved—Labour, Health and Works—and the strength of our building and repair resources throughout the country from which volunteers have come forward in large numbers, by the fact that three-quarters, or upwards of 600,000, have already been made at least habitable again, and in the last two weeks the rate at which repairs have been overtaking new damage has very sensibly increased. Nearly a million people who have no war business here, among them 225,000 mothers with children, have been encouraged and assisted to leave London and, thanks to the hospitality and kindness of those in areas not affected, have been welcomed and comforted. There have been a few exceptions but they are not worth recording beside the good spirit which has prevailed. They are not worth recording except for the purpose of reprobation. A large number of extra trains were laid on to meet this considerable outward move. It is remarkable, as showing the outlook of the people of this country, that many of these trains—including sometimes the extra relief trains—have come back to London nearly as full as they went out. While a daring and adventurous spirit is to be commended, this kind of needless risk and movement will be discouraged in every way. I only mention it now because it gives the lie in the most effective manner to the fantastic German stories of London being in panic under a perpetual pall of smoke and flames. If the Germans imagine that the continuance of this present attack—which has cost them dear in many ways in other branches of production—will have the slightest effect upon the course of the war, or upon the resolve of the nation or the morale of the men, women and children who are under fire, they will only be making another of those psychological blunders for which they have so long been celebrated. The only result of the use of this indiscriminate weapon, so far as they are concerned, will be that the severity of the punishment which they will receive after their weapons have been struck from their hands by our fighting men will be appreciably increased. There is no question of diverting our strength from the extreme prosecution of the war, or of allowing this particular infliction to weaken in any way our energetic support of our Allies. Every effort in human power is being made to prevent and mitigate the effects of this bombardment. Hundreds of the best expert brains we have are constantly rivetted upon the problem. My hon. Friend was not right when, in an earlier discussion, he threw out the suggestion that it was all makeshift and improvisation. Very careful plans had been prepared, for instance, for the artillery—the great gun belt—but it is not always possible to foresee accurately what form the attack will take or how things will go. At the same time as these preparations were made, a quite different disposition of the guns had to be made to guard the invasion ports from which our convoys to France were to start, and we expected that very likely the flying bombs would begin at the same time as we landed in order to cheer up the German people. But there was a slight interval, and it was convenient in that interval that we were able to make a quick redistribution of the batteries. It was a very complicated matter, and I am so glad that Members of the House have attended the various meetings addressed by the Home Secretary and by the joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply, and have been able to ask them questions. Here I must say that I cannot understand why anybody should say that there is any constitutional issue involved in any Member or any number of Members taking a Committee Room and talking to each other on any conceivable subject. It is likely that a grave constitutional issue would arise if Members were to be hampered and obstructed in taking counsel with one another. I think it would be unfortunate if a kind of gulf were made between Ministers and other Members, as if they were a sort of élite of the House and had no right to mingle with their Parliamentary colleagues. I think there are a good many arguments I could use to free us of the charge of having infringed the Constitution. As I was saying, hundreds of the best brains we have are rivetted on the problem, but I can hold out no guarantee that it will be completely solved until we have occupied the region from which these bombs are launched, as we shall no doubt do before the unconditional surrender of the enemy has been received. But even that will be good enough. As long ago as 22nd February, I warned the House that Hitler was preparing to attack this country by new methods, and it is quite possible that attempts will be made with long-range rockets containing a heavier explosive charge than the flying bomb, and intended to produce a great deal more mischief. London, we may expect, will be the primary target on account of the probable inaccuracy of the rocket weapon. We therefore advise the classes for whom evacuation facilities have been provided by the Government, and others with no war duties here who can make their own arrangements, to take the opportunity of leaving the capital in a timely, orderly and gradual manner. It is by no means certain that the enemy has solved the difficult technical problems connected with the aiming of the rockets, but none the less I do not wish to minimise the ordeal to which we may be subjected, except to say that I am sure it is not one we will not be able to bear. I have finished with this, and as a grim comment on all I have said this fact must be added. The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) put a Question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air, the answer to which I thought might come in here, so he kindly consented to defer his Question. I think it makes a grim comment upon what I have just been saying. The weight of flying bombs launched against this country from the night of 15th June to the night of 31st July is estimated to be some 4,500 tons. During the same period the Allied Air Forces dropped approximately 48,000 tons of high explosive bombs on Germany. Of course we try in the main to aim at important military objectives and consequently it may be that there is less loss of life in particular places than when a weapon is used which has no other object than the indiscriminate slaughter of the civilian population. I have trespassed a good deal on the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."]—. but I think I must take a little more time, especially in view of the decision which the House has properly come to to have an interval in our labours. I now approach, not without natural anxiety, the delicate subject of Foreign Affairs. I still hold to the view which I expressed last time that as the war enters its final phase it is becoming, and will become increasingly, less ideological. Confusion was caused in some minds by mixing ideology with idealism, whereas in fact there is quite a notable difference between them. While I cherish idealism as a cheerful light playing over the thoughts and hopes of men and inspiring noble deeds, ideology too often presents itself as undue regimentation of ideas and may very likely be incompatible with freedom. I have rejoiced to see the Fascist ideology overthrown, and I look forward to its complete extirpation in Italy. I rejoice in the prospect, now becoming sure and certain, that the Nazi ideology, enforced in a hideous manner upon a vast population, will presently be beaten to the ground. These facts and manifestations, which I see taking place continually as the world war crashes onwards to its close, make me increasingly confident that when it is won, when the hateful agressive Nazi and Fascist systems have been laid low, and when every precaution has been taken against their ever rising again, there may be a new brotherhood among men which will not be based upon crude antagonisms of ideology but upon broad, simple, homely ideals of peace, justice and freedom. Therefore, I am glad that the war is becoming less an ideological war between rival systems and more and more the means by which high ideals and solid benefits may be achieved by the broad masses of the people in many lands and ultimately in all. Since I spoke last on the general position to the House, marked improvements have occurred in several quarters. Foreign affairs are powerfully influenced by the movements of the war situation. The successes I have been recounting to the House have carried all our affairs into a more favourable condition. Among the first of these is the great improvement in the relations of the French National Committee headed by General de Gaulle with the Government of the United States. This arose in part from the careful spadework done over here by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and by the great success which attended General de Gaulle's visit to the President of the United States. In these last four years I had many differences with General de Gaulle, but I have never forgotten, and can never forget, that he stood forth as the first eminent Frenchman to face the common foe in what seemed to be the hour of ruin of his country and, possibly, of ours, and it is only fair and becoming that he should stand first and foremost in the days when France shall again be raised, and raise herself, to her rightful place among the great Powers of Europe and of the world. For 40 years I have been a consistent friend of France and its brave Army; all my life I have been grateful for the contribution France has made to the culture, glory and above all the sense of personal liberty and the rights of man which have radiated from the soul of France. But these are not matters of sentiment or personal feeling. It is one of the main interests of Great Britain that a friendly France should regain and hold her place among the major Powers of Europe and the world. Show me a moment when I swerved from this conception and you will show me a moment when I have been wrong. I must confess that I never liked Trotsky, but there is one thing he said at the time of the brutal German treaty of Brest-Litovsk which stuck in my mind. He said to the German bullies:
So it will be with France, struck down in a few weeks of agony, and deprived thereafter of the power of self-expression and almost of the right of existence. But the soul of France did not die. It burned here and there with exceptional brightness. It burned over wider areas with a dim but unquenchable flame. Our landing in Normandy, the course of the war, the whole tide of events show quite clearly that we shall presently once again have to deal with the problem of France and Germany along the Rhine, and from that discussion France can by no means be excluded. It is evident from what I have said that I look forward to the closest association of the British Empire, the United States and the Russian and French representatives in the settlement of these important European problems. We are an Alliance of united, peace-loving nations who have been forced to take up arms to defend our fundamental rights, and we must not fail in the hour of victory to make the arrangements necessary to continue the peace that we shall have so dearly bought. I must pay my tribute to the House for the wise forbearance that it exercised seven weeks ago in discouraging the Debate on British, French and American relations. That was a time much more critical than this and the fact that the House, which is all-powerful in these matters, deliberately abstained from discussing a question in which interest ran high on all sides was extremely helpful to the conduct of affairs by my right hon. Friend, and I think furthered the smooth deployment of our policy. Everyone should bear in mind the unusual complexities which attend the foreign policy of this Island in the world coalition of which we are members. We have first the Dominions to consider and consult, and then there are the three great Powers. We have two valiant and trusted Allies who are larger and in some respects more powerful than we are. We all mean the same thing on fundamentals and essentials but to reach precise agreement from day to day on diplomatic tactics and details is necessarily an elaborate business. Here we enter the field of triangular diplomacy where we all have to telegraph to each other and, when two are agreed, the third often has further amendments to propose, and when all are agreed very often the subject has ceased to be of interest. How would you have it otherwise, with all the different viewpoints, characteristic, historic and national, from which these matters have to be approached? I have said before that, if the heads of the three Governments could meet once a month, there would be no problems between us which, would not be swiftly and I trust sensibly solved. Geographical and locomotion difficulties thrust their obstructive hands between us and such constant reunions, and correspondence however faithfully conceived is not a substitute for meeting round a table. The three principal Allies have to deal from day to day with all kinds of burning issues arising in eight or ten vanquished, occupied or neutral States, two or three of which have quite healthy civil wars either in prospect or in progress. When I recall or survey all the complexities of arriving together at united agreements, I must say I think the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Russia have done pretty well. But great patience and an unceasing desire to understand each other's point of view are necessary between the great Powers, and the House of Commons can help everyone by taking a broad and tolerant view. This in my opinion is a hopeful moment for Poland, for whose rights and independence we entered the war against Germany. We therefore did our best, my right hon. Friend and I and others, late into the night, to promote the visit of M. Mikolajczyk and other members of his Cabinet to Moscow, where Marshal Stalin was willing to receive them. The President of the United States was also favourable. How could it be otherwise in these matters, considering his deep interest in the Polish question? The Russian Armies now stand before the gates of Warsaw. They bring the liberation of Poland in their hands. They offer freedom, sovereignty and independence to the Poles. They ask that there should be a Poland friendly to Russia. This seems to me very reasonable, considering the injuries which Russia has suffered through the Germans marching across Poland to attack her. The Allies would welcome any general rally or fusion of Polish Forces, both those who are working with the Western Powers and those who are working with the Soviet. We have several gallant Polish divisions fighting the Germans in our Armies now and there are others who have been fighting in Russia. Let them come together. We desire this union and it would be a marvellous thing if it could be proclaimed, or at least its foundations laid, at the moment when the famous capital of Poland, which so valiantly defended itself against the Germans, has been liberated by the bravery of the Russian Armies. Conditions in Yugoslavia have sensibly improved since I last dealt with this topic in the House. The lawful King of Yugoslavia, who came to us under our advice in his distress, has gathered round him, under the Ban of Croatia, a Government in friendly contact with Marshal Tito. Representatives of the fighting administration of the partisans have taken their seats in the new Government, and we have here General Velebit, a remarkable and accomplished soldier and thinker, who is the liaison between the King's Government and the Forces led by Marshal Tito. We are working for unity here and elsewhere for one purpose alone—namely, the gathering together of the whole united strength of Yugoslavia—Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes—and the cleansing of their soil from the foul German invader. This union and this hurling out, I can assure the House, have good chances of being accomplished before very long. The Foreign Secretary made a statement last week about Greece which had the full assent of the War Cabinet and marks the line that we are taking in Greece. On this line we intend to fight, so far as may be needful, in the House. By fight in this case I mean argue and then, if necessary, vote. We have a clear view of the policy we intend to pursue and we shall do our best to carry it through even if we have not the satisfaction of unanimous agreement. In the Eastern Mediterranean it has fallen to us to handle most of the business. We lost about 30,000 men in Greece. We have unbreakable ties with that historic land. We keep our Allies constantly informed of everything that we do and we endeavour, and with good fortune in the main, to carry them with us. A measure of success has, I think, attended our recent handling of events. The Greek Navy is once again at sea. A Greek brigade will soon take its place in the line of battle in Italy. The Greek air squadrons are also doing useful work. The Government of M. Papandreou is broadly representative of all the main forces of Greece, and this new figure who has sprung upon the stage seems to recall in many ways the vigour and courage which won such wide acclaim in the personality of the great Venezelos, whose son is also associated with the Greek Government. It seems to me that Rumania must primarily make its terms with Russia, whom they have so outrageously assaulted and at whose mercy they will soon lie. Russia has offered generous terms to Rumania, and I have no doubt they would be accepted with gratitude by the Rumanian people, if only the Rumanian leaders had not got a Prussian automatic pistol pressed pretty closely against their breast or at the nape of their neck. The same applies to Bulgaria. Thrice thrown into wars on the wrong side by a miserable set of criminal politicians, who seem to be available for their country's ruin generation after generation, three times in my life has this wretched Bulgaria subjected a peasant population to all the pangs of war and chastisements of defeat. For them also the moment of repentance has not passed, but it is passing swiftly. The whole of Europe is heading, irresistibly, into new and secure foundations. What will be the place of Bulgaria at the judgment seat, when the petty and cowardly part she has played in this war is revealed, and when the entire Yugoslav and Greek nations, through their representatives, will reveal at the Allies' armistice table the dismal tale of the work the Bulgarian Army has done their countries as the cruel lackeys of the fallen Nazi power? In the Mediterranean theatre of war, I mentioned that we have recently had the satisfaction of welcoming as our comrades in arms, a finely-equipped expeditionary force from Brazil, and there are more legions to come from this great land which, for a long time, has been rendering valuable war service to the Allied cause both in the air and on the sea. As an Englishman, I may be pardoned at this moment for thinking of another South American country with which we have had close ties of friendship and mutual interest since her birth to liberty and independence. I refer to Argentina. We all feel deep regret and also anxiety, as friends of Argentina, that in this testing time for nations she has not seen fit to declare herself whole-heartedly, unmistakeably and with no reserve or qualification upon the side of freedom, and has chosen to dally with the evil, and not only with the evil, but with the losing side. I trust that my remarks will be noted, because this is a very serious war. It is not like some small wars in the past where all could be forgotten and forgiven. Nations must be judged by the part they play. Not only belligerents, but neutrals, will find that their position in the world cannot remain entirely unaffected by the part they have chosen to play in the crisis of the war. When I last spoke I made some observations about Turkey which the House may perhaps remember. I have a great regard for the Turks and there is a military tradition in the British Army of sympathy and alliance with them. In the last war they were turned against us by the influence of a handful of men and the arrival of a single ship-of-war. We must not forget that Turkey declared her alliance with us before the present war when our arms were weak and our policy pacific. I visited Turkey in February of last year and had a lengthy conference with President Inonu and his Prime Minister, Mr. Sarajoglu. We had further conferences after Teheran when we met near the Pyramids. I am well aware of the difficulties of Turkey. When the war began she felt herself a strong military Power. She looked out on the ranks of her brave Army, her unrivalled infantry and cavalry, and she felt herself a strong military Power and was resolute in her good will towards England and France. Presently there appeared an entirely new set of weapons—aircraft, tanks, self-propelled artillery and mechanisation in every form, which altered the relative strength of Armies and seemed to be the only means by which victory could be procured. The Turkish Army was by no means modern. It was very much as it had come out of the last war or series of wars. I understand plainly the feelings of military prudence which made the action of Turkey less strong when these new facts were apparent to them all of a sudden at the opening of great battles. These difficulties have to a considerable extent been repaired. The German power is falling under the mighty Allied flail, and with the contribution we and the United States are making in Italy and France, and with the advance of Russia in the region of the Black Sea, I feel that the Turks are in a more secure position than they have ever been since the war began, and that they will not be committing themselves to dangers against which they have no shield if they come forward on the side of their friends. I have the authority of the Turkish Government to announce here to-day in the House of Commons that on the basis of the Anglo-Turkish Alliance Turkey has broken off all relations with Germany. This act infuses new life into the Alliance. No one can tell whether Germany or Bulgaria will attack Turkey. If so, we shall make common cause with her and shall take the German menace as well as we can in our stride. Turkish cities may receive the kind of bombardment we have never shrunk from here. Herr von Papen may be sent back to Germany to meet the blood bath he so narrowly escaped at Hitler's hands in 1934. I can take no responsibility for that. It was the policy of Mustapha Kemal to bring about close unity of action between the Russian and Turkish people. The elements are all there and he endeavoured to bring to an end the antagonism of centuries. I hope this new step will contribute to the friendship between Turkey and Russia."The destiny of a great nation has never yet been settled by the temporary condition of its technical apparatus."
Does that mean that Turkey is coming into the war on our side?
My right hon. Friend is surely well aware of the distinction between breaking off relations and declaring war. What the other Power may do, I cannot pretend to guess.The ordeal of the House is very nearly at an end, and I hesitate to inflict myself on it any further, but there are so many important things to say that if you start to give an account of what is going on in this war and leave out anything important, great complaints are made.
Meet next week again.
At the present time, no speech by a prominent politician in any of the victorious countries could be deemed complete without a full exposition of the future organisation of the world. I was severely reproached last time for not having dealt methodically with this considerable topic. One of my difficulties is that it does not rest with me to lay down the law for all our Allies. If that was the general wish, I could certainly make one or two suggestions; but, odd as it may seem, countries like the United States and Soviet Russia might wish to have their say in the matter and might not look on it from exactly the same angle or express it in exactly the same terms as would gain the loudest applause in this House. I am sorry about this, because nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to devote a couple of hours to giving my personal ideas about the general lay out; but it would be very troublesome to all of us here if I made a great pronouncement on this subject and found myself contradicted and even repudiated by our most powerful Allies. From time to time a great many very eloquent statements are made on the future organisation of the world by the most eminent people. In spite of all urges that we should take the lead in laying down the law, I personally should prefer to hear the opinions of other powerful nations before committing our country to too many details.Can we not be content with the broad declarations upon which we are all agreed, that there is to be a World Council to preserve peace which will, in the first instance, be formed and guided by the major Powers who have gained the war, and that thereafter other Powers, and eventually all Powers, will be offered their part in this world organisation? Can we not be content with that, and concentrate our efforts on winning the victory, bearing ourselves so prominently in the conflict that our words will receive honoured consideration when we come to the organisation of the peace? In the meanwhile, as the House will be aware, important discussions on the official level are shortly to begin in Washington, and when those are completed we shall have a very much better idea where we stand. As I have said, it is vain and idle for any one country to try to lay down the law on this subject or to try to trace frontiers or describe the intricate instruments by which those frontiers will be maintained without further bloodshed; it is vain, and it is even unwise. The man who sold the hyena's skin while the beast lived was killed in hunting it—if I might venture to make a slight emendation of the poet's words. Not only are those once proud German armies being beaten back on every front and by every one of the many nations who are in fighting contact with them, every single one, but, in their homeland in Germany, tremendous events have occurred which must shake to their foundations the confidence of the people and the loyalty of the troops. The highest personalities in the German Reich are murdering one another, or trying to, while the avenging Armies of the Allies close upon the doomed and ever-narrowing circle of their power. We have never based ourselves on the strength of our enemy but only on the righteousness of our cause. Therefore, potent as may be these manifestations of internal disease, decisive as they may be one of these days, it is not in them that we should put our trust, but in our own strong arms and the justice of our cause. Let us go on then to battle on every front. Thrust forward every man who can be found. Arm and equip the Forces in bountiful supply. Listen to no parley from the enemy. Vie with our valiant Allies to intensify the conflict. Bear with unflinching fortitude whatever evils and blows we may receive. Drive on through the storm, now that it reaches its fury, with the same singleness of purpose and inflexibility of resolve as we showed to all the world when we were all alone.
It is a most unenviable task to try to follow my right hon. Friend on any occasion, and I feel myself now at a very considerable disadvantage. I would like to say that the Prime Minister, in his massive, moving and encouraging statement, has performed a service not only to this House and this country but, I hope, to all our Allies. My right hon. Friend has an unrivalled capacity for presenting a great conspectus of a big situation, and to but he has made not only a good report ut one of which we may be very proud. At an earlier stage to-day it struck me, when I was disagreeing with some of my hon. Friends, that this is probably the only assembly in the world that could have had a little private discussion and disagreement as to how long the House should not meet, prior to an important and most pregnant 'statement, awaited by the whole House and by the world.
Quite right, too.
I am saying that it was. I have been a Member of this Chamber much longer than my hon. Friend. The imps of mischief have been at work to-day. As time went by and the House waited one's mind went back four years, to the time when my right hon. Friend could not have come to the House and have spoken with the cheerfulness with which he has spoken to-day. There are many Members of this House who are, I understand, great strategists. I am not one myself. I have no doubt that His Majesty's Government and the Allied Governments have made strategical mistakes. As a layman, I am prepared to believe that that is so. I have no doubt there are Members of this House who, if they had been in charge of the major conduct of affairs, might have done it better. I am prepared to believe all that; but I am satisfied to believe, four years after 1940, that we are on the top of a wave of victory now.My right hon. Friend exercised his usual caution. He never bats on a sticky wicket, if he can help it. He never makes up the score until the match is over, which is quite right, and I believe that the House and the country will be vastly comforted by the undercurrent of optimism which ran through my right hon. Friend's speech. We have, in four years, starting a battle alone, denied the house of a friend, who broke for the time being, but ultimately assisted by great Allies, played a worthy part. Things have changed. My right hon. Friend referred to the flying bomb; the flying bomb is one of the nuisances of the war; and in this connection I would like just to reinforce what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about London. I am not a Londoner, but I think the part that the people of London have played during these savage, brutal and prolonged attacks upon London merits the commendation, praise and pride of all the people of our land. Whatever may be attempted here, and while I think it is right that those who have no duty in London should leave London, I am quite satisfied that people who are called upon for service here will perform that service, whatever may befall. My right. hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to those people who have come to London—volunteers, not pressed men, not directed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service—to help to patch up the damage. That is a magnificent gesture. When outside areas voluntarily offer their services to help those of us here in the areas that are attacked in our hour of trial, that kind of combination is unconquerable, and no weapon that can be launched against us will ever break the spirit of the people of this country. At the end of his speech, my right hon. Friend referred to what has been happening in Germany. It seems to me that when men and material have done their best, or their worst as the case may be, wars enter into a psychological arena. I would say that events that are happening in Germany, about which we appear to know very little, are at the same time, to use a colloquialism, "up our street." However wide or long or deep the crack may be, a crack there is. That is important from our point of view. I have heard discussions round about the purlieus of this House as to whether the plot to assassinate Hitler was a "frame-up" or whether it was one that went wrong. I am not concerned with either theory. My point is that the fact that that incident happened, whether it was a fake or not, proves beyond doubt that the Nazi Party and the military leaders are now at daggers drawn. That, I suggest, is all to our advantage. I cannot conceive a situation like that arising in this country. We may have our little spots of trouble, as to-day about how long we sit or do not sit, but no situation like that could arise here. What fundamentally is the nature of this problem? Nazism is a loathsome and an abhorrent thing. Let us never forget, that it was largely the military caste that put Hitler where he is to-day.
And the City of London.
I am being helped too much in making my speech. I am not arguing about the City of London. On the appropriate occasion, I might well do so. I am arguing that there is a situation between two partners who have now parted company. Neither of them can be trusted by this country. It would be a fatal mistake if, having broken the Nazi Party, although they are temporarily on top, we were to present any better terms to the militarists of Germany than we have done to the discredited Nazis. I think the House is more or less agreed about that, and when my right hon. Friend says "No parley," I agree with that. I can conceive no different treatment being meted out to Germany, whether the terms are delivered to the Nazi Party of Hitler or the German military leaders. That, I think, is important.My right hon. Friend referred at the end of his speech a little too cavalierly, I thought, to another two hours on the future of the world. I would have been delighted to hear the Prime Minister speaking for two hours on the future of the world. This war marches on and is marching quickly. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has suggested, in spite of all this how-do-you-do we have been having today, that the House might well be back before 26th September, because there might be great events. If that be so, the sooner we get to the end of the war the greater is the urgency for some precision as to plans after the war. The Prime Minister, I think, dealt with this matter with excessive levity. We would gladly have listened to him longer if he had developed his views about it. We cannot afford to wait until the end of hostilities before we set our feet firmly on the path we are going to tread. My right hon. Friend said, quite rightly, that after the war we must march with the United States, with the Soviet Union, with the French and with China, and with all nations who will march with us. But we must know the way we are marching before we begin to march. I have a feeling myself that there is a certain anxiety about the future in the minds of the people in the Forces and at home in civilian walks of life. I am a little distressed—it worries me very much —about a sort of stratum of cynicism in our national life amongst young people. I think that is the most terrible prospect for us in the future. If the young men who have fought and bled and suffered in one way or another, come out of this war feeling that they have fought in vain, and that life means nothing, we might as well not have fought the war at all. I do not believe that is the general view of the younger generation, but I say that view is a view which is pretty widely held, and in many cases now in the last two years or more I have traced that down to its source. Almost invariably the young people have been told by their fathers who fought in the last war that when they came back, they did not get a square deal. Promises had been made and promises were not implemented. It would be a sad thing, when one thinks how this has been a war of the young men, if these people came back and felt that what they had fought for, or all they had hoped for, was not going to be given to them in so far as we can give it. The Prime Minister carries very heavy burdens, I realise that, and it is impossible to ask him to carry more burdens, but I would urge my right hon. Friend that the nearer we get to the threshold of victory, the more important it will become for His Majesty's Government, and indeed the Allied Governments, to declare what policy is going to be implemented when the guns have stopped firing. I realise what pressure there is on the Government, but at the same time I would be sorry to see us winning the war and then winning a sort of Pyrrhic peace, and in effect, spiritually, morally, intellectually and in every way, losing the war. I cannot think that that is the mood of this country. I believe that the vast majority of ordinary people in our land, believing in the declarations that have been made on their behalf by the Prime Minister and others, and expecting to see them fulfilled, will be bitterly disappointed if no honest attempts are made to fulfil them. That would be a sad disappointment to a new generation of citizens, who embark with high hopes on seeing a new world, in which they can proudly take part. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to appreciate that there is an urgency at this stage of the war about these post-war problems. There could be no better tonic for our people in the fighting line and in the trenches, and for those in London, who are to be asked to work at the week-end, patching up damaged buildings, than the thought that what they have fought for we mean to win after the firing ceases.
No general in charge of a large army could commit his troops to any major assault until he had called in his administration officers and received their assurance that all his supplies were absolutely in order, that there was a sufficiency of petrol and ammunition, and that the thousand and one stores of food which his army required were already available. An admiral and a general who are commanding an overseas invasion have a terrible nightmare, realising not only that their troops have to overcome the resistance of a well-organised and determined foe, but that every pound of stores, to succour and sustain the assault troops, has to be carried across the beaches. There is absolutely nothing on the enemy's coast to assist the assault. To organise successful invasion one needs to have an infinite capacity for taking pains. Every detail has to be studied, every eventuality has to be combated. The Prime Minister spoke about the years of study that have been given to this great project. What a wonderful result it has given us. The men who carried out this work deserve the gratitude not only of the country, but of the whole of civilisation. An assault overseas is divided up into three parts. First, you have the assault proper, then, the follow-up of the reserves, and then, possibly more important still, the building-up of the stores. Each covers its own sequence, and each is essential to the successful operation.I had the good fortune to take part in the operations in Normandy on 6th June. It was a wonderful sight to see wave after wave of tank landing craft approach the beach, deploy, land their loads, unbeach, and retire. The Prime Minister said that he saw part of this operation take place in possibly slower time. At the points where the tank landing craft went in, the infantry and the assault landing craft did exactly the same skilful operation. But, while I watched this, it struck me that the officers and crews of these craft were all amateurs. None could be called a professional sailor: they were all the butchers, bakers, and candlestick-makers, many of whom had voluntarily come forward to take part in this great operation; and all of them carried out their work with extraordinary precision, skill, and seamanship. I have seen four of these assaults. On every occasion we have burst through the enemy's defences, and on every occasion the dash and determination of our assault forces have overcome the foe. On this occasion, the assault was pressed forward with the greatest determination and skill. One of the chief features of the whole operation was the rapidity and accuracy of the naval gunfire. Every time the German mobile batteries opened fire they were spotted and eradicated. Every time the assault troops were held up by a strong point the call went back for naval support; down came the fire, and the post disappeared, under a hail of steel and fire. It has well been said that the gun is king of the battle: I think it would have been better said that the naval gun is king of an assault from the sea. From "D-Day" up to now the buildup of the stores has been carried on. Immediately the assault phase finished, the reserves were landed, the build-up commenced, and it has continued ever since. Hundreds of thousands of stores, tens of thousands of vehicles have crossed the beaches, and have made possible the attack on the Nazi positions which is now taking place. One of the eventualities which faced the planners was weather. The Prime Minister said that it hung like a vulture over the whole operation. Never have we had such bad weather during the months of June and July on the coast of Normandy. A phenomenon took place that has not occurred for 60 years; a very strong North-East gale, which blew straight on to the beaches, making them a lee-shore. During that time the unloading of the stores slowed up. Fortunately, so successful had been the organisation that a great reserve had been built up, and, immediately the storm ceased, the beach organisation buckled to, and worked night and day, so that the Armies in the field suffered for nothing. I remember asking men from the front, "How are you faring? Have you got everything you want?" On every occasion they said that all their supplies and stores were most adequate, that they lacked no munitions, and no food. They were even getting the papers. The papers they got mostly were the London dailies, only two or three days old. It was a very great help to the lads, and it assisted their morale, under very difficult and arduous conditions. While I was on the beach I received two messages, which may be of a little interest to the House, one from a signalman in the Royal Corps of Signals, and another from a Nazi storm trooper. Across the beach from where I worked, a considerable number of prisoners passed, and some of them came and spoke to me. One was a Viennese. He belonged to a party of 19 young Nazis, who had held up the 51st Division for five days. They held a post totally surrounded and fought this very famous division for a very considerable period. I said to the Viennese, "Why are you fighting for the Nazis?" He said that he had been conscripted and that, if he did not fight, he would be shot, and he had put up an exceedingly good show. He then asked me: "We in Austria are very perturbed about the future of our country; what is going to happen to us?" I told him that Austria would undoubtedly be given her freedom and offered a chance of choosing her own destiny. He went away quite satisfied. Another young Nazi came up to me and said, "You British are fools. There are 22,000,000 young Nazis in Germany, and, in 15 years' time, we will have another war, when we will beat you." I said to him: "It is very fortunate for you that I am not a Nazi, or your battle would finish now." I noticed that these prisoners had a feeling of unrest. They did not seem to know what is going to happen to their country after the war and they feared the worst. They heard the propaganda of Goebbels that they are all going to be slaughtered indiscriminately, and it is possible that the Allied Governments may find it expedient now to give Germany, and, above all, the German fighting men, the basis on which peace will be given to them. I feel sure it will have a great effect on their minds and, that unlike the 19 young Nazis to whom I referred, they will not fight for five days against the 51st Division, but will see the necessity of surrendering sooner. The other message is from my godson, who recently laid down his life in one of the great battles South of Caen. He said, "Tell my godfather that this terrible slaughter must never take place again. Tell him that our future generations must not only become citizens of the British Empire, but citizens of the world." If, from all this toil and sweat and blood, death and carnage, we can all become citizens of the world and assist our fellow men, I feel sure we shall not have striven in vain.
We are all very glad indeed to have again among us the hon. and gallant Member for Aston (Commander Prior). We are very pleased that fortune has been good to him, and to us, so that we could hear his speech. We hope he will come again, in intervals from fighting for his country, to tell us a good deal more of his experiences. I do not intend to waste the time of the House by talking about the facts of the military situation which we all know already and of which the Prime Minister has given us a very vivid account. I confine myself to two subjects which concern the Foreign Secretary, and I am glad he is here to listen, because my experience for the last ten years has been that no Foreign Secretary ever listened to what I have said and the result has been disastrous. We are very pleased to see the high spirits which animated the Prime Minister to-day. He seemed to be almost like a genial headmaster on speech day at school—very pleased with what the school has been doing and giving tributes to the head boys such as the Secretary of State for War and the Foreign Secretary. During the dark days his heart never faltered and he has the right to be happy now that brighter times seem to lie ahead.The two subjects on which I wish to speak are those of France and Greece. Since the Prime Minister last spoke, the political relationships between the French National Committee, ourselves and America have immensely improved. At that time, six or seven weeks ago, there was a good deal of doubt, hesitation and pain, not only among French people, but among friends of France, and I must say that the Prime Minister's rather tepid references on that occasion to the French Committee did not help to remove the anxiety. At that time, there were three important issues before us. The first was that of recognition of the Committee as the provisional Government of France. Secondly, there was the civil administration of liberated regions. Thirdly, there was the question of the issue of currency. Since then, thanks to the patient work of the Foreign Secretary, to the tact and common sense of General Eisenhower, and also, I think, to the wisdom and moderation of the representatives of the French Committee, including General de Gaulle, the last two points have been satisfactorily settled, by negotiation first with this country, and, afterwards, with the United States, where they are being discussed now. I believe, from what the Foreign Secretary said the other day, that very soon a formal agreement may be announced between France, ourselves and America on these two important points. In the meantime the United States has recognised the Committee as being the de facto authority for the liberated areas pending elections, and General de Gaulle has declared that, directly France is liberated from the Germans, a constituent assembly will be called together to determine the constitution, and the manner in which the French Chambers will be elected and how they will function. All this gives great satisfaction to those who have seen with joy the wonderful recovery of the French nation from the great disaster of a few years ago, and her return to a place of authority in the councils of Europe and to the fourth place in the Grand Alliance of the United Nations. Meanwhile, I hope steps will be taken to give further help to the French Army of the Interior, which, under General Koenig, has been carrying out the most brilliant work. The achievements of this Army have been praised on more than one occasion by General Eisenhower himself. I understand that the work of the Maquis has already immobilised eight divisions of the Germany Army in France and very largely upset the organisation of the transport system of Germany. In spite of all the work they have done, I understand, from what General de Gaulle said, that only one-third are armed at the present time. Appeals have recently been made by the leaders of the resistance movement and the French National Committee for more assistance for the Army of the Interior—military assistance and supplies, and especially support from the air. I hope help will be given in the fullest measure to the French Army of the Interior. There should be no reluctance in giving it, and it should not be given in driblets, merely because some Members of the Government may think that the Maquis represent the spirit of the French Revolution. [Interruption.] Well, I hope it will not; but the spirit of the French Revolution is a fiery and potent spirit which may not be altogether palatable to some of the Right Wing supporters of the Coalition, who like plenty of water with their liberty. I want to turn to the question of Greece, upon which the Prime Minister made certain somewhat provocative remarks. The Prime Minister seems to have an extraordinary veneration for monarchs of every kind. It is a veneration which was certainly not shared by his illustrious ancestor. In giving support to the present King of the Hellenes against the wishes of 95 per cent. of his people, according to the estimate of "The Times" correspondent, he is following the example of Louis XIV of France, who continued to give support to the unpopular James II of England, even when he had been abandoned by Churchill. In this country we enjoy the blessings of a constitutional monarchy. We may describe our King as the President of the British Commonwealth. But Parliament is sovereign. The Monarch is not a political leader. In the Balkans and other places, the position is quite otherwise. Kings there often take a very active part in politics and are often the leaders of a party which consists of privileged classes, the rich landowners, the generals and members of the court circle, and they work actively against the interests and aspirations of the masses of the people. That happens in many States. Furthermore, except in Yugoslavia, most of these monarchs are not natives of their own country. They represent foreign Houses, usually German, and they are aliens in their own capitals. One would have thought, after hearing the panegyrics of these monarchs, that they were lineal descendants of Leonidas and ready like him to die sword in hand at the head of their troops. Take the House of Greece. It was originally Danish. The mother of the King was a sister of the Kaiser. During the last war, he was pro-German. He is half German by blood and in views wholly Hohenzollern. When in the last war his father abdicated because of his pro-German proclivities, the present King, although the eldest son, was passed over in the right of succession because he was pro-German, in favour of his younger brother who died, unfortunately, as the result of the bite of a tame monkey, which is apparently even more poisonous than the bite of a Parliamentary Private Secretary. Eventually the present King came to the throne, but in 1923 he was forced to leave the country and a republic was proclaimed. The republic lasted 12 years, but in 1935 as the result of a coup d'état the King returned and set up a Fascist dictatorship under the late General Metaxas, which abolished the democratic parties and lasted until the present war. These are the facts of the situation. It is the unpopularity of the present King of the Hellenes, who is supported by only 5 per cent. of the Greek people, which is the chief cause of the trouble and lack of unity in Greece. It is difficult to get up-to-date information of the position in Greece owing to the censorship imposed at Cairo, which only allows the publication of views favourable to the Government. There have been protests by journalists against this, and one wrote to his paper in America telling it not to believe a single word that was cabled because it did not represent his views. News from the other side—and the Foreign Secretary will admit that there is another side—can only come to us by devious and roundabout methods. The Foreign Secretary made a statement in this House—I am sure in good faith—based on the ex parte statement of the Cairo Government. When the dispute took place between E.A.M. and E.L.A.S., the final negotiations broke down, I understand, as the result of two telegrams sent by the people fighting up in the mountains to the Cairo Government. The terms of these telegrams have not been published by the Cairo Government, but it is said that they accused the Government at Cairo of having misinterpreted the decisions of the Conference at Lebanon and that they wanted certain alterations to be made in the Charter. We are handicapped by the censorship but one thing is clear. E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. are the people who are doing all the fighting against Germany, as far as fighting is going on in the mountains of Greece, whereas the politicians at Cairo are doing all the intriguing, and are not doing any fighting at all. Moreover, when we heard the other day of the revolt of the Army in Greece it was not stated here that they were the crack troops of the Greek Army which had done a great deal of the fighting against the Italians, and whose vigour and soldierly qualities had been praised by General Montgomery in North Africa. They revolted, and have now been interned as the result of British action. The same thing is true of the Greek Navy and of the Greek mercantile marine. One of the main causes of the dispute, apart from the unpopularity of the King himself, is his obstinate refusal to give any pledge not to return to Greece until a plebiscite calls him back. That is a definite fact. After a great deal of pressure, all he has said is, "I shall examine anew the question of the date of my return, in agreement with the Government, in the light of the military and political conditions of the time, and in the national interest." This is not a pledge at all.
A constitutional monarch can hardly be asked to say more. He will deal with the Government when the time comes.
No one has elected the present Government at Cairo; he chose the Government himself, and he would not be there if it were not for our support. What the majority of the people of Greece want to say is this, "Until the plebescite calls you back, you shall not come back."
Does not this whole problem turn on whether you pay any attention whatsoever to emigré Governments or not?
That is a thought which well may arise from what I have been saying, and I am not going into that general question but into a particular question at the present moment. I say that unless a more definite pledge is given by him, or unless he abdicates altogether, there is no prospect of any unity in Greece and the Allied cause will suffer. I would like to say, further, that the action of the British Government in supporting King George of the Hellenes and the Cairo Government is causing grave doubts throughout the whole of the Middle East, including many members of our own Forces there, as to the democratic intentions of the Government. Those doubts have been intensified by the unfortunate remarks of the Prime Minister about General Franco, which have been definitely repudiated, I am glad to say, by the National Executive of the Labour Party—I hope it will be repeated by representatives of the Labour Party inside the Coalition Government—and also by his statement that as this war has progressed, it has become less ideological in its character.I want to say a few final general remarks on that. In our view this war is essentially a war of democracy against Fascism and, especially to the Labour Party, it is a war of Socialism against Nazi reaction. In my view also, I may say, Nazism is only Capitalism in its extreme form. When Capitalism gets desperate it becomes Nazi. That explains why the Conservative Party itself, with the exception of the Prime Minister's personal following, was very reluctant to come into it at all, and finally had to be pushed into it by the people of England speaking through the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood).
What election propaganda.
Whether it is election propaganda or not, it is what I believe.
I could answer that but I do not want to detain the House. There is another side to the question.
The hon. Member is entitled to make an answer and I shall be interested to hear his reply. All I want to say in conclusion is that, as victory approaches, reaction is again gathering strength and audacity in this country. I say this, that unless the rule of the people —that is the rule of the common man, in the words of Mr. Wallace, the Vice-President of America—is established throughout Europe, including the Iberian Peninsula—Spain and Portugal—we in this country will have lost the war and the peace, and the seeds of the third world war and also of world revolution will have been sown. It is time, in my view, for the leaders of Labour in the Coalition to re-assert their Socialism inside the Government, backed, as I believe they will be, by the majority of the people of this country both in the Services and out of them. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour and National Service, and the Home Secretary may acquiesce for the time being and for the sake of the war in reactionary domestic legislation in this country, but unless they refuse to be parties to a reactionary peace settlement, the sooner they leave the Coalition the better, and let the people sing at the next election the song of liberty as well as the songs of victory and peace.
The common man is almost as difficult to define as common sense. I, myself, have never felt quite sure that I can share the enthusiasm of the Vice-President of the United States for the common man until there has been a good deal more definition. If we are to have many more common men like Mussolini, Hitler and Laval—who were all very common men when I was young—managing world affairs, I, for one, do not see any great reason why we should expect very much improvement. I would disagree with almost everything that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) has said, except what he began by saying in commendation of the Prime Minister's reference to France. I shall not waste the time of the House in commending the Prime Minister, for I cannot convince myself at this stage either of the war or of to-day's Debate that any commendations from me would do him very much good. However, I, like the whole House, enjoyed and admired very much his speech to-day, and I was deeply conscious, and I am sure the whole House was, of how much difference and how much in debt to him, there is in the background of fact upon which he was able to make that speech. Of all the points in it, the one I was most glad to hear was what he said about our Ally France, about whom I think our spokesmen have not always spoken as clearly as they might. If there are two things which this war has taught us all, surely one is that, whether we like it or not, we have to be Imperialists, in this sense, that these islands can only be defended within the Empire; and the second is, whether we like it or not, that we have to have the strictest friendship with France, and that France the strongest France there can be. Otherwise we literally cannot sleep quietly in our beds.If, for the rest of my remarks with reference to the Prime Minister, what I say seems, if not critical at least suggestive of deficiency, that is not because I wish to be controversial, but because I wish to devote my time only to those things where, I humbly hope, there may even be improvement in the future. The Prime Minister told us that, after this war, after the comradeship which this war has produced by the Alliance between the three great Powers—or four, with China—the result of this Alliance in war was to be a new brotherliness, a new fraternity in world affairs. I hope that may be so, but I would not count upon it happening that way without immense efforts and immense sacrifices by everybody. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) seemed to me both to make the problem even more complex than the Prime Minister said it was and very much to simplify it, when he said that we must put our feet firmly on the path now, that we must be determined to walk with the democratic nations, and that we must know which way we are going to walk. But all this implies that other nations may have some views about the direction in which they wish to walk. I do not think that brotherliness between nations is to be had for the wishing. If it is to be got, surely it is most of all to be got by mutual self-respect. I did hear with very slight qualms one expression which the Prime Minister used when he spoke of two of our Allies as larger and, in some respects, more powerful than we are. Of course, it is clearly true that, in some senses, they are larger, and in some senses they are more powerful. But it is also true that in some senses we are the largest and most powerful of the three, and I think it is of immense importance, not that we should be for ever standing on our dignity as a State and as a Power, or for ever proclaiming our greatness, but that we should so behave that nobody, and above all nobody in this country, doubts for a moment that we are quite clear about what is due to our own State and to our own peoples. It is not necessarily that we should expect always to get our due, but that British people and foreigners should know all the time that our spokesmen never say they think that what is due to us is any less than what, in fact, they think it is. I am profoundly convinced that the notion that States can get on with each other by one State trying continually to conciliate and play up to another is the most certain of all ways of producing a quarrel. As I have said before, whenever I hear a Member begin a sentence with the words, "All history teaches us," I fear that something unusually foolish is about to follow and, therefore, it is not without self-criticism that I say that one of the few things which all history teaches us is that principle which I have just enunciated. In this connection, I would especially ask my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister to consider this: If we really are to hope for this new international brotherliness when the war is over, the thing to do is to get into brotherly habits while the war is on. The Prime Minister talked to-day about how prominent politicians could not speak on these subjects without running great risks of doing harm. I am not nearly prominent enough to run any such risk, but, however insignificant, one cannot but feel that there is almost nothing which can be said about relations between the States of Europe which could not do harm or be alleged to do harm. But is it hopeless to suggest that when offers of peace or armistice are made to States in Europe they should sometimes be joint offers? I was a little alarmed by what the Prime Minister said about Rumania having primarily to make its peace with Russia, and I think he said Bulgaria as well——
My hon. Friend has raised an important point, and I am glad he has. The Rumanian terms were agreed with us before they were put forward.
That is not what the Prime Minister said.
Well, it is so.
There is nothing between me and my right hon. Friend in this matter. I am not trying to controvert anybody, but if there is to be some hope of brotherly relations between States in the years after the war, cannot we try to get States, on the same side in the war, when any one of them is in a position of great strategical power, and when it has conquered, or is in the process of conquering, another State, to make joint suggestions for the peace or armistice? All the way from the Arctic Circle to the sub-tropical waters of the Mediterranean that principle might usefully be applied.In this connection, I should like to say a word or two to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield. I claim no expertness about foreign politics, but I do claim a little expertness about one subject, and that is young men. I do not say that I am very good at it, but just as chaps, however stupid, who have spent 30 or 40 years mucking out pigs get to judge which pig is worth feeding up and which is not, in ways that people who have exercised their intellects on more subtle objects do not, so may I, as a man who has spent his life among young men so far, be forgiven if I am tempted to think that I know something about young men. It is amazing to me how many people get up in this House and say they speak of what young men are thinking, and who claim to be speaking for young men. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield was described as the mouthpiece of the people of England, as he was again to-day, that was a slight exaggeration, and there was even more exaggeration when the hon. Member for Broxtowe apparently regarded himself as speaking, not only for the people of Greece, but also those in the Middle East, including all young Englishmen in those parts. One does not so easily make one's self the mouthpiece of so many opinions and desires.
I did not say, "all"; I said, "some."
I think my words were fair. The point I am trying to make about the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield—and I am sorry I was misled into a sentence of persiflage—is that he told us that the great tragedy to be feared from this war was cynicism among the young. Almost all young men go through a cynical period, and often it does them no harm, but it may mean something more. If I had time I would explain to the House the difference between cynicism and scepticism, because the more scepticism we can get among the young the better. When people complain of cynicism among young people what they are really complaining of is those young people being sceptical about their particular type of "baloney." As one who was a young man coming home from the wars, and as one who has some notion of the range of feelings in which young men's minds work, I can say to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield that what most causes cynicism among such young men is the excessive making of promises during war about the peace.The business of war is to defend your country, and what you can promise young men is that if they fight a war their country will be defended, and that if they survive they may get children, who may have to do it all over again. But if you are continually telling them that war is never worth fighting, and should not be used as an instrument of policy, and then when they get into the war tell them that that war is to be used as an instrument of policy, to give them all the nice things they can desire, they may perhaps be cynical. If that happens, do not let the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield say that it is because of vested interests or the bankers' ramp, or any partisan routine nonsense of that kind. There is one other thing which the Prime Minister said, to which I wish to refer. I do not want to get led into an attempt to be controversial about Yugoslavia, or Poland, or Greece, or anywhere else. I do not pose as an expert on these things; I do not care a hoot for a foreigner as compared with an Englishman. I have no pets or favourites, and I am briefed by nobody. The point I want to make clear is that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield said that we entered this war to defend our homes. That was only indirectly true; we are the only combatants in this war, on our side, of whom it is indirectly true. All the others entered the war because the war entered them. What is the duty that we owe to those who have not been able to defend their homes, especially if they entered upon that defence because of legitimate expectations of our assistance? I do not suggest that we owe it to them to fight their battles for ever. I do not suggest that if, for example—an impossible example—the United States tried to pinch the port of Split, or Spalato, we ought to turn round and declare war on the United States in order to free that territory for the Yugoslays. When facts are accomplished, and it is clear that it is not within our power to reverse them, we must recognise those facts, although they may appear to us to have come from a process of injustice. Recognition and fact are the obverse and reverse of the same mental process. But there is all the difference in the world between recognising an accomplished fact when it is accomplished, and making it a little more likely to happen, even though it is over-whelmingly likely to happen, by letting it be known beforehand that you will not resist and that you will not say it is a fact that ought not to happen. I am not suggesting that the Government have not followed this principle, but I think the British Press has not always followed it, and it is of immense importance that the people of Europe after the war shall think that the Government and the Press have followed that principle, because, on their judgment whether we have played fair in this sort of connection, depends which States in Europe shall be our friends and which shall not, and upon that everything else depends. I wish to ask the Foreign Secretary a question. I have pestered him about this by letter, but I reluctantly feel it a duty to ask in public, whether, for instance, this sort of thing is fair. On 1st June King Peter of Yugoslavia issued a declaration in almost every sentence of which he said they must at all costs be united, and must have no political dissension. The British Broadcasting Corporation quite properly diffused this declaration in Serbo-Croat, but preceded it with a little preface in which the announcer said, "King Peter has issued today a declaration in which he calls upon his people to join together under the leadership of those who are at present fighting against the Germans—that is, of those of Marshal Tito and the National Army of Liberation—to liberate their country." I am not arguing, I would not now argue in public, though I would in private, whether or not Marshal Tito represents nought or 50 or 100 per cent. of Yugoslav patriots. What I am saying is that that preface could not be anything else than misleading, and it seems to me that it is an immoral thing that we should let ourselves slip into that kind of misleading. What is worse, in the short run, it is a foolish thing. It must be known—it cannot be hidden—that that has happened. It is bound to emerge a day or a week or two afterwards that those words were interpolated. There is bound to be the feeling, "Who can trust the B.B.C.?" There is bound to be the feeling, "This may have set out meaning to be fair propaganda but it has turned into policy and it is becoming a policy which is not fair to us." We stand up in silent testimony to our own people, but, compared with the miseries that Yugoslavia has been through, almost as long as men of my age can remember, the heat and burden of our day has been about as hot and heavy as lying on an iceberg, being fanned by black girls with palm leaves and having sherbet poured down our throats. The "heat and burden of the day" is really not to be applied to the civilian population of these Islands compared with any part of Europe. I beg that propaganda may be more carefully watched, and more care taken to see that it does not slip into policy which may have bad long-term prospects for us. We entered into the war with specific guarantees for one State and another. We entered into it with a general implied guarantee to all the States of the world. We have said that we sought no territory, that we would recognise no territorial changes which were not the result of free contract and popular consent, and so on. We thus made ourselves the guarantors of what our grandfathers used to call the Concert of Europe and the Statute of Europe, the sovereignties and the territories. We are in very great danger of forgetting that principle. I am not suggesting that we should go on fighting until we can put everything back in Europe as it was in 1939, or 1938, but I ask hon. Members opposite to consider that really, if they want us, or rather the chaps like us, who happen to be a bit younger, to help to fight the war, they ought not to tell us so often that it is a war for Socialism. That is what Hitler says all the time. I have never understood why the Tory Party threw away the most magnificent bit of propaganda there ever was, and started calling those fellows "Nazis." If every time we referred to them we called them National Socialists, we should have "bust" hon. Members opposite. It is not wise to tell us all the time that this is a war for Socialism, because that is what Hitler says and because some of us do not want Socialism. The second thing I would say to hon. Members opposite is, "However much you may want a new Europe, however much you may want Socialism, Liberalism, liberty, or any of the good words that come at the top of the notepaper of the Left, you will not get any of them after the war is over until there is in Europe generally as much respect not only for law but even for legality as there was in 1913." That is something to which we have to get back if we want any of these other things, including Socialism, if by that hon. Members mean something different from Fascism, and mean what they say. We must get back to that. Lastly, though I am afraid it is going to be a rather long last paragraph, I wish to speak of something, which I would call legitimacy or even legitimism, if it were not for the risk of a word or two being used out of context to brand me as a bastard of the Bourbons out of a Miss Blimp. It must be a principle of our foreign policy, also, that in every problem of reconstruction we must always go back to the legitimate line for a point to start from, not only or specially in the case of the monarchy. The hon. Member for Broxtowe talked about the Prime Minister having a great tenderness for monarchs. I have no particular tenderness for monarchs apart from our own monarchy but I have a very great tenderness for legitimate Governments even when the chain of legitimacy has become extremely tenuous. I beg this House that it should always be very respectful to that chain of legitimacy, however tenuous; otherwise, see what will confront us, what competition for sovereignty or control; and this also: We shall be told: "It happened in Yugoslavia"—I am not saying it is true—"and it happened in Greece, and in France"—I hope it is not going to happen in Turkey—" You induced them to stand up to the Germans, and for 48 hours you sang paeans to them." "They found their souls and all that; and then they were not very successful or much helped, and they were called mere emigrés, lucky if it was not quislings." [Interruption.] I am not trying to make any kind of party point at all. I am only trying to say that we should be careful to avoid that danger or else our diplomacy in the years after the war will be more difficult and complex than it has ever been before in our history.
The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us brought forward so many provocative points that I should like to traverse them all, but unfortunately there is not time. I want, however, to say a word about his last point, legitimacy, because it leads on to what I want to say about the Government's policy in Greece. The hon. Gentleman makes it perfectly clear that different people in this country and in this House entered the war for different purposes. It may be that we all have the fundamental purpose of defending this country against a foreign invader, but in point of fact we did not actually go to war with that objective. We went to war in order to defend Poland, as I think the Prime Minister said to-day. But the objective to be achieved after victory has been won, will differ according to the outlook of various sections of our people and the views of the Members of this House. It may well be that a few Members of this House and some people of the country will be perfectly happy, when the war is over, to see the principle of legitimacy continue, and Fascist Governments reign in countries which were Fascist or semi-Fascist before the war.
How can a Fascist Government continue after the peace? The essence of a Fascist Government is success.
The hon. Gentleman is talking about legitimacy and it may well be that legitimate Fascist Governments will be succeeded by other Fascist Governments when the war is over. I am certain that the overwhelming majority of our people are in the war to destroy Fascism in Europe and in every country of Europe.
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman a perfectly genuine question. What exactly constitutes Fascism? We used to say that we were in the war to destroy authoritarianism but very wisely we have not said that, since we have been in alliance with Russia. Can the hon. Gentleman tell me how Fascism differs from Nazism on the one hand, and from the Soviet system on the other?
The Noble Lord is asking me a most elementary question.
What is the answer?
If hon. Members are prepared to allow me to digress from my speech in order to define an elementary matter of this sort—[HON. MEMBERS: Yes"]—I am prepared to do so. I would say that Fascism could be defined as a system of government in which the representatives of the industrialists, the landlords and the propertied elements of society govern the country by ruthlessly suppressing all working class and progressive organisations, all trade unions, all freedom of criticism and opposition and all independent newspapers, in order to govern for the glorification of themselves or the State they have created. That is something to get on with, since the Noble Lord has asked me for a definition on the spot.I should like now to refer to the point with which I was dealing. It is certainly my desire and I am sure that it is of the great majority of the people of this country, that Fascist regimes should be destroyed throughout Europe. In many countries there were pre-war Fascist or semi-Fascist Governments. In certain countries which are our Allies, the legitimist Governments were, in fact, fundamentally Fascist. My complaint is that it has been the policy of His Majesty's Government almost throughout the war, of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, to give support to those semi-Fascist elements, even individuals who have co-operated with our enemies, when those elements or individuals have come into conflict with the popular forces. I could give innumerable examples. There were Darlan and Pucheu in France and the cold-shouldering of the French Maquis; there were Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel in Italy, the support of the Royal Yugoslav Government and the distrust for a very long time of Tito.
Has the hon. Member no objection to the totalitarian regime in Japan?
Most certainly I have.
The hon. Member said "in Europe."
I am trying to talk about Europe. I was trying to make a simple, straightforward case. If hon. Members are asking me to define every term I use, and to go beyond Europe into Japan, I warn them that I shall be talking here until a very late hour. As we are on the Consolidated Fund Bill, there is no reason within the rules of Order why I should not do so.
It will be very painful for hon. Members opposite also, because they will have to define their terms.
I suggest that hon. Members should cease giving each other warnings and allow the hon. Member to finish his speech. Only one speech can be made at this stage of the Bill.
I want to know to-day whether the Government are going to stand by the declaration made by the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons last week about Greece. The Prime Minister seemed fully aware that that statement was likely to be challenged, because he said that the Government were prepared to fight for that policy and he then defined himself by saying he meant he was prepared to argue about it in the House of Commons. I suggest to the House that our policy in regard to Greece is certainly not a joking matter. It is a matter of considerable importance as it will largely shape the political complexion, not only of Greece but of South-East Europe. It will determine the influence that Britain can bring to bear in that part of the world; moreover it will have, and has to-day, a considerable effect on the military situation.What is the position? I think it is essential, in view of the absolute censorship maintained on everything which comes out of Greece except anything favourable to the Greek Government, that the House should be in possession of some of the essential facts. Let me qualify myself and say that they are facts I believe to be true. Doubtless if they are untrue, the Foreign Secretary or someone else will tell me. It is necessary to go back a moment to make clear how the E.L.A.S. and E.A.M. movements developed in Greece, and what they have done for the Allied war effort. Before the war Greece was governed by the Metaxas dictatorship, which was hated by the radicals, the liberals, and all the elements of freedom in Greece. When Greece was invaded, the whole country united and rallied in its defence. In spite of the aid we gave to the Greek people, it was defeated, and finally an emigré Government, consisting of the remnants of the hated Metaxas dictatorship, established itself in Cairo. In those circumstances it was natural and inevitable that the liberation movement that first established itself should be under the leadership of the Left elements in Greece, Communists, Radicals, Socialists, Liberals, Progressives and others who were determined to free their country from both foreign and the home tyrants. This Greek movement of liberation declared its purpose in the very early days. It was "First to liberate the country, then to safeguard the sovereignty of the people." Inevitably, a certain hostility grew up between the E.A.M. political groupings and the E.L.A.S. forces under their control—although they were incomparably the largest resistance movement in Greece—and the Cairo Government. Why? Because the E.A.M. forces were the forces of the Left, who had opposed the Metaxas regime, and the emigré Government in Cairo realised that the more successful, numerous and powerful these E.L.A.S. forces in Greece became, the less likely would be the return of the royal dictatorship to Greece after the war. That was the situation. A certain number of other Greek resistance movements sprang up, in particular with royal patronage, under the political grouping known as E.D.E.S. controlled by Colonel Zervas. It is regrettable, but it may have been inevitable in the circumstances, that there were armed conflicts between these two resistance movements. The E.A.M. movement made the accusation, and it has since been admitted and indeed I can prove it if I am challenged, that many of Colonel Zervas's friends and officials were collaborating with the German quisling Government set up in Athens. When the Armistice was established at the request of the Allied Headquarters, Middle East, E.D.E.S. as one condition agreed that they would dismiss and denounce those among their forces who had been collaborating with the Germans. I think it is important that the House should appreciate what these E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. forces have done and how strong they are numerically. According to my information, which I believe to be correct, when they were most active, when they were getting considerable support from the British and Allied Forces, they numbered something like 50,000 first-line troops, and the highest numbers that have ever been claimed by Colonel Zervas's forces were 8,000. This E.L.A.S. army was not organised by irresponsible amateurs. They had a rule that a division could only be commanded by a man who had obtained the rank of colonel or general in the regular Greek Army. These officers made it a very efficient fighting force. The account of the damage they have done to Germans and German transport, according to the information they laid before the Greek Government, is imposing indeed. I may, perhaps, read two or three sentences. This is a statement made by the leader of the E.L.A.S. Forces, Colonel Saraphas, at the Lebanon Conference:
He then specified the various parts of Greece in which they had fought. They had inflicted heavy losses on the enemy by derailing trains, especially on the Athens-Salonika line. They had destroyed hundred of trucks full of war material. The losses they had inflicted on the Italian, German and Bulgarian enemies exceeded 15,000 dead, wounded and prisoners. Colonel Saraphas went on to describe the various bridges destroyed, trains derailed and so on. There is no doubt this force played a most active part in helping the Allies and there is no doubt that to-day E.L.A.S. contains 90 per cent. of the resistance forces in Greece. It is perfectly true this movement is also political. They stand for liberty and democracy and they are opposed to the return of a royal dictatorship unless the people vote for it. They are opposed by the Cairo Government, and because they are opposed by the Cairo Government, they are denounced in the House of Commons here by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. At a critical time last year, because of the dissensions between E.L.A.S. and the Cairo Government, the Allied Headquarters in the Middle East withdrew their support in the way of money, food, armaments and medical supplies. According to my information, which again I believe to be true, this weakening of the E.L.A.S. forces enabled the Germans to send one division from Greece against Marshal Tito and another to the Russian front. It is therefore very clear that political decisions of this sort do have a direct effect on the conduct of the war. Political decisions made in pursuance of our Government's policy of supporting legitimate emigré Governments, in other words supporting the Right elements against popular forces suspected of being revolutionary, has done serious damage to the war effort, and probably cost many British lives. What did the Foreign Secretary say the other day? He said that all the resistance movements came to Lebanon, that they signed a Charter with the new Greek Government, that that Charter ensured the complete unity of all the forces of opposition, that when the leaders of E.A.M. went home, they repudiated the Charter and put forward unreasonable new demands. The E.A.M. forces are therefore responsible for preventing Greek unity and for damaging the war interests of the Allies. My information is entirely to the contrary. The wording of the Charter is known; I have it. It has nothing precise about it. It is a vague declaration, stating that it is the desire of all the parties to co-operate in unity for national resistance. It says that in six clauses, but it contains nothing more than expressions of good intentions. All the details, it was hoped, were to be filled in later, in a spirit of good will. Shortly after, I understand, the Government of Greece in Cairo appointed one of their generals to the command of the forces in the Middle East, without consulting E.L.A.S. Naturally, this very much upset E.L.A.S., because it appeared to be quite contrary to the spirit of the Lebanon Conference. Also the general who was appointed was suspect to all the people of the Left. Then discussions ensued between E.L.A.S. and the Government on how to implement this Charter. There was disagreement, quite frankly, and on 29th June there was an ultimatum from Cairo to the E.L.A.S. forces: "Unless you are prepared to agree now to what we put forward, the negotiations are at an end." On 8th July, after E.L.A.S. had put forward the conditions on which they thought unity was possible, the Greek Prime Minister said, "These are new, and unreasonable, conditions; all the negotiations are off." I think that a study of the conditions will show that they were not new, but had been put forward in previous discussions. They were certainly not unreasonable in the circumstances, considering that E.L.A.S. are the main resistance forces in Greece. They have been carrying on warfare in Greece against the Germans successfully, and they represent politically the great majority of the Greek people. E.L.A.S. suggested, as one condition, that they should have a third of the Ministers in the Government. Some dispute appears to have followed as to whether it should be five out of 15 or five out of 20. There was a breakdown on that, and there was disagreement as to which Ministries should be held by the representatives of E.A.M.. E.L.A.S. did not ask that the Minister of War should be one of their representatives, but they said that it was essential that either the commander-in-chief in the field in Greece or his chief of staff should be someone acceptable to E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. forces."For two years now E.L.A.S. has been fighting against Italian, German and Bulgarian invaders."
May I put my hon. Friend right on one or two points? I dislike interrupting him, but there is a good deal of discrepancy between what he has said and the actual facts. First, there are the details of the agreement itself. There is considerable difference on what might be regarded as the ultimatum of E.L.A.S. to the Government, a good deal of difference as to the terms which were submitted by E.L.A.S. to the Government, for the Government's acceptance, before E.L.A.S. would join the Government. On the question of the number of representatives of E.A.M. in the Government, it was agreed at the Lebanon Conference that the Government should consist of 15 members, of which E.A.M. were to have four members. It was decided later, that the Government should consist of 20 members. Then E.A.M. were offered five. E.A.M. then demanded seven members, out of the 20, whereas they had previously agreed to four out of 15. The case that my hon. Friend is submitting, on behalf of E.A.M., appears very strong, but it is not really related to the facts in Greece at present.
When will the Government allow the facts to be published?
If I have served no other purpose in making this speech, stating the facts as I believe them to be—and, naturally, I do not give to the House such statements without checking up, so far as my ability goes—I shall have at least brought to light a statement of what the Government believe to be true. But I believe that the information I have is correct. With regard to those figures, I believe that E.A.M. were offered five Ministers, out of 15. When the Government had appointed 15 Ministers, E.A.M. said, "Now we must have seven." That is not unreasonable. It is obviously not an attempt to break up anything. It is an arguable matter. If there were a real spirit of compromise, a compromise could have been reached. There were a number of other terms put forward, which the Cairo Government refused to accept. One was that what were called the security battalions, set up by the quisling Government in Athens, should be denounced and, as far as possible, disbanded. I understand that the Greek Government set up a committee to consider this.
It was part of the Agreement of the Lebanon Conference that the committee should be appointed, and a member representing E.A.M. was appointed to sit upon the committee.
That is not a part of the Charter.
It was agreed at the Conference.
What was asked for, I think, was reasonable, and I do not know why a committee should be set up to consider the disbanding of these battalions. I could go through these six points, and I think the House would agree that, while they may be the subject of controversy, none was unreasonable. It is, I think, just a distortion for the Foreign Secretary to say, as he did, that they had put forward fresh and unreasonable demands, the effect of which was to give them control over all the guerilla forces in Greece— 90 per cent. of which they control anyway—and that the Ministries they demanded were out of all proportion to their actual strength. They asked for just one-third of the Government. They did not ask for one of their representatives to be commander-in-chief. How can it be said that they were asking for control of all the guerilla forces and the Greek Army abroad? I think that that word was misleading the House.The Government are making a gross mistake in this matter. The friends of the cause for which we are fighting are those people who are banded together in the E.A.M. organisation. They are the people who have been fighting for years for freedom and democracy and all the things that the people of this country are fighting for. If we are to have good relations with the future Greece, we should be doing all we can to help these people in their struggle and express practical sympathy towards them, rather than denounce them and deprive them of essential war materials, medical aid and so on. That is a policy which should not receive support for one moment from this Government, and I would like to say that it should be made clear to these forces, who have been fighting, in the most appalling conditions of privation and danger in the Greek mountains, for so long, that they need have no fear, as they apparently have, that, in the post-war period, the influence of this country or this Government is going to be behind the reestablishment of a royal dictatorship in Greece. That is most unlikely to happen. It cannot happen without the moral and physical support of the people of this country, who will want to see in Greece, as everywhere else in Europe, a democratic, freedom-loving Government which will co-operate with the freedom-loving and democratic people of this country. I want to say this, in conclusion, on this point. I think it is particularly alarming, when one considers the future foreign policy of this country, that, in a few weeks, we got two statements from this Government, one of which was in regard to General Franco. He is no different from any of the Fascist dictators we are fighting, except that he was not strong enough to take up arms against us. All the expressions of opinion, coming from himself or from the Falange, with which he governs, show that he is no different in policy, internally and externally, from Mussolini or Hitler. Yet he was praised by the Prime Minister, while those popular democratic forces in Greece which have done so much, under the gravest difficulties and at the greatest risk, to forward the struggle of the Allies, are reproved and reprimanded because they do not see eye to eye with the unpopular Royal émigré Government in Cairo which the National Government here feels itself bound to support through thick and thin. The Prime Minister mentioned, only at the end of his peroration to-day, and I do not blame him for that, the most important event which has happened during the last few weeks in Germany, and that was the revolt of the generals. I suggest that that development should alter the whole attitude of our political warfare to the German people. Previously, it has been the policy of the Government that it was no good saying anything to the German people or the German army, except to demand unconditional surrender. That was based on the theory that there was only one Germany, a Nazi Germany, which was determined to go on with the war to the bitter end. The theory was that there had not been two Germanys, a good Germany and a bad Germany, or that, if a good Germany existed, the good Germans were so few and powerless that it was no good telling them the peace aims you had in mind, in order to try to incite them to stop the war. That was the theory, but it has been blown sky-high by recent events. There are shown to be two Germanys, or two points of view in the German army, in regard to the prolongation of the war.
Are the generals good Germans?
I think if my hon. and gallant Friend will listen to my argument he will see what I mean. There are two categories in Germany to-day not divided by morality but by policy-one, under Nazi leadership, wants to continue the war at any cost, and another, under the direction of many leading generals and many sections of the army, have come to the conclusion that they want to stop the war as soon as they can. Therefore, there is opposition in Germany to the continuation of the war. That has been proved.We had this bomb attack on Hitler's life. It failed, for two reasons. One was that the bomb did not go off and there was mismanagement somewhere. [HON. MEMBERS: "It did go off."] Well, it did not kill the fountain head; it did not kill the Fuehrer. Secondly, it was quite clear that the movement for ending the war, neither in the army nor outside, was broad-based enough to carry it through to success. I suggest that, now we know that there is an element in the German army which probably is strong and which thinks that the continuation of the war is foolish and suicidal, we should change our whole policy and tell the people of Germany what is the alternative to continuing the war, so that they will know what they are risking if they do not take steps to bring it to an end. It is difficult for them at present. How can one expect a movement of that sort to be widespread and broad-based if the Germans have nothing to go on except the repeated cry of "unconditional surrender" and statements daily, by Dr. Goebbels over the wireless, telling the people that, if Germany is conquered, we are going to cut Germany up and do awful things to its men and women?
By the Prime Minister, too.
My hon. Friend is speaking from these benches. May I ask him just what he wants to do? I agree with him that we should——
Do not make a speech.
I am going to express myself freely upon this subject. I do not care what opinion there is on any other benches. I am asking my hon. Friend, who speaks about the German generals, what propaganda he wants. Does he want this Government and the Allies to compromise with the German generals?
Of course, I want nothing of the sort. I am not suggesting that there should be any bargaining with any section of the German people or the German army. I am not suggesting any modification whatever of the peace terms.
On a point of Order. Are we bound, even on the Consolidated Fund Bill, to hear the constant domestic amenities of the party opposite? Cannot we listen to the speech?
I am not suggesting that we should modify the demands or terms we want to impose on the German nation or the German army. I say we should state them, so that the German people and the German army, and particularly the officers of junior rank in the German army, should know what the alternative is. They do not know what the alternative is. They do not know what benefit they would get by stopping the war now, and, presumably, they would get some benefit.
Does my hon. Friend not realise that the real reason for the revolt of the generals is in order that they may save the German army?
I really do not know what my hon. Friend wants. Does he want the German army to stop fighting, or does he not? If he does not want it to stop fighting, for fear of fraudulent intent on the part of the generals, does he want perpetual war?
May I interrupt the hon Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) on the question of the German generals and give the House the translation of what the German generals produced in consequence of the failure of the Allies to occupy Germany on the last occasion? I will read it from the medal which was struck in 1919. It says:
That is what the German generals want to do again."The German sword, rich in victory, remained clean, and the German spirit ripens out of the bloody seed."
The interruption of the hon. and gallant Member was very interesting but quite irrelevant. It is the determination of everybody in this House to extirpate Nazi-ism and German militarism and make it impossible for Germany to wage war again. That is the objective of this House. The Government and the Allied Governments presumably have certain proposals in mind by which the German army and the Nazi party will be liquidated, and also certain peace proposals for the German people. Cracks have been shown in the fabric of the German army. It is therefore highly desirable, in order to bring the war to a conclusion quickly without any bargaining or weakening of our position, to state now——
If the hon. Member cannot get anything approximately like agreement in his own party as to what we should state, how on earth can we state it to the enemy?
I do not know whether the hon. Member means that the Government have no idea at the moment, in broad outline, what the peace terms in regard to Germany are to be. Whatever they are—I might not agree with them— we should tell them to the German army and the German people so that they can know the alternative of carrying on the war against this country. It may be that there will be another revolt. Its success will depend largely on the support it gets from the German people and the German army, and, however 'harsh they may be, the peace terms should be stated now.I ask the Foreign Secretary this specific question; I hope he will be good enough to answer it. Statements are being made which are doing considerable damage in Germany, that a decision has definitely been arrived at to transplant the German people of Upper Silesia, East Prussia and Sudetenland—9,000,000 people of these countries—elsewhere, and that these countries are to be taken over. That story has gone out and has done very considerable damage, by angering and raising the fighting spirit of the Germans. The Foreign Secretary should make a definite announcement whether any discussion has taken place on this matter, and particularly whether any agreement has been made. Military strategy requires a general declaration of our peace aims to be made now, in order to save lives and limit the duration of the war, and a denial if possible of this rumour, which otherwise Dr. Goebbels will exploit to the full. The Allies should immediately declare their terms and help the next crack in Germany to develop into a fissure, that will rend the army and nation in twain.
I wish to mention two matters that are interrelated. I am going to try and speak very briefly, under the watchful eye of that clock. In that respect perhaps I shall be more original than some hon. Members. The two points I wish to raise are general, first, the future of Germany and, secondly, the related topic of the future of Czechoslovakia. If I may adapt the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) I refer to those people who have not been able to defend their homes. In this regard I want to express two hopes. First, I hope that the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), who, I regret, is no longer in his place, but said that he and the Labour Party are fighting Germany for Socialism, will not resent the alliance of a few Tories. We are not fighting for Socialism. We are certainly not fighting only for democracy. What we are fighting for, I suggest, is liberty, the freedom of the spirit of mankind and the right of each nation to conduct its own affairs in its own way provided it involves no threat to its neighbours. I wish the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) would hold his peace while other Members speak.
I made no comment at all. In fact I was restraining myself.
It is a pity that the hon. Member has to restrain himself so audibly. The second hope I wish to express is that the Government at this stage of the war, which we all hope is either the ultimate or penultimate stage, will be able to make up their minds what they are going to propose. Although the Prime Minister said, in a manner which could not be contradicted, that other nations are interested in what comes about at the armistice, the representatives of these Islands, which have weathered the tempest during the whole of the war, sometimes entirely alone, are hardly to be expected to be entirely inaudible when the terms of the armistice are discussed.The Prime Minister delivered a potent and pregnant speech, but it was general rather than particular, and I calculate that many of us will make our own private inferences from what he said. Possibly within weeks, and certainly within months, we shall inherit in this country a treasure won for us by the men and women who have died for our victory. This is a treasure which is seldom mentioned in this House. It is the treasure of prestige. We can dissipate that treasure by our apathy, weakness or divided counsels or we can nourish it into something finer still by maintaining the leadership which our efforts have won. I ask hon. Members to recall the end of the last war. In 1918 the world lay at our feet. In a short time, within months, all was lost. We thought that an impossible indemnity would change the German heart. We allowed the German nation to vilify the rest of the Treaty of Versailles, much of which, incidentally, was excellent, and to ignore it and finally to turn her defeat to our own discomfiture. One reason for this débacle, this collapse of our prestige and influence after the last war, was undoubtedly our indifference about our own physical strength. I say that as one who, in the early years of the Disarmament Conference, wanted most strenuously to see a general agreement between the interested Powers for disarmament down to a much lower level. I am now convinced that one of the worst things we did immediately after the last war was to allow our armed strength to be seriously, catastrophically and precipitately weakened. I believe we should remain strong, not only because by so doing we should be too formidable to attack, but for another reason—which is partly a psychological one—that we could deprive our isolationists of any excuse for their own doctrines. Of all the ways to produce war, the isolation which allows the wrongdoer to grow lusty and aggressive is by far the most certain. We see it to-day. No doubt the German generals would like at this moment to come to some composition with the victorious Powers in order that, at some future date when we have turned aside into the paths of isolationism, they will be able to start their third war with greater hopes of success. Isolation seems to me to be the very antithesis of that leadership to which we are to-day entitled, and to that world citizenship which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aston (Commander Prior) mentioned earlier in the Debate to-day amid general acceptance. But mechanical devices like the flying bomb make isolation as ludicrous as it is ignoble. Already, without horrifying fancies, we can, I think, discern the pattern of future wars if we allow them to happen, Without seeking to make a very bad pun, I am quite certain that for Europe, at all events, we can be sure where those future wars will be germinated. Broadly, it may be true that the flying bomb may not have done very much more than cause a widespread nervous anxiety and very considerable structural damage in certain centres of population, but the principle of the invention suggests an indefinite development. We can imagine the belligerents of the future living as troglodytes and discharging these missiles from deep subterranean caverns through weather which they have learned to control—thick weather, that renders them invisible as they approach their targets. Their enemies would then try to reduce those belligerents by causing earth tremors through and around the launching sites. I am informed that these are by no means remote and impossible fancies. Such inventions as this, together with V.2—the rocket shell of which the Prime Minister openly spoke to-day—brought to a pitch of efficiency, are the prospects of the future if a strong Germany is allowed to rise again and make a third German war. But what a weapon have the Germans, by the flying bomb, revealed to their enemies, if we have the courage and the strength, and, if you like, a ruthlessness which need never be set in motion. I should suggest that the territories inhabited after the war by Germans might well be encircled by flying bomb sites directed at their population. If they then began to infringe the disarmament conditions imposed upon them by the armistice, retribution could follow immediately. In this way, I suggest, some real good might come from Germany's latest contribution to mechanical science. Just now I used the word "armistice" deliberately and expressly. I think—and I hope I carry many of the House with me—that it would be a mistake for us to contemplate anything in the nature of a peace treaty with Germany for many years to come. There are two objections to making peace with her: First, she would inevitably and immediately be exalted to the status of a friendly Power, and such sentimentality would be dangerous, a suicidal hypocrisy; secondly, a peace treaty would imply that the word of the present generation of Germans is to be trusted. I have heard of another proposal, less serious than that which I have just submitted about the flying bomb—I submit it to the House for what hon. Members may consider it is worth—that Germany should be made the national home for the Jews and the Germans should be made the wanderers. I do not find that idea particularly attractive myself. I do not want any unnecessary contacts with Germans and, as a Gentile Zionist, I do not want to lose those of my Jewish friends who do not wish to settle in Palestine. I come now to my second particular point. I hope the House will bear with me for a few minutes longer. If Germany is disintegrated and surrounded by powerful and determined States, we may be able to frustrate the elements—latent elements they may be, but they are certainly elements that exist in this country—which would prefer a powerful Germany to a peaceful Europe, and also those people who imagine that a wild beast can be tamed by every kind of concession.
Echoes of Chamberlain.
It is very unworthy of my hon. Friend to make that kind of interruption, when he knows that at great inconvenience to myself I always resisted the foreign policy of the right hon. Gentleman whom he has just mentioned.
Nevertheless, my hon. and gallant Friend is reiterating a good deal of that policy.
It may be that no man has ever delivered himself of unrelieved mistakes, or has said the whole truth, and I should be the last to be so presumptuous as to say that the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain was never right by accident.On the question of the vigilance of one State against a future German population we may be sure—I ask for the attention of the House on this matter because it is the last point I have to make. It has not been mentioned to-day although the Prime Minister ranged across the Continent of Europe in his brilliant and illuminating speech. I want to refer to Czechoslovakia because it is possible, I submit, that to the country of Czechoslovakia and the Czechoslovak people we in this country owe the greatest debt of all. I do not think there is anything which can be construed as objectionable in what I propose to say, either by the Americans or Russians—we were warned that anything we might say about other countries might offend those great Allies of ours. There is' something about the Czechs which is of great advantage and, particularly, will be of great advantage in the future when we have to seek to control whatever Germans survive on the Continent of Europe, because the Czechs know better than anybody in this country the savage vice that informs their jumped-up strutting German neighbours —"fatheads," as I have heard a Czech call the Germans. I suggest that we might see Czechoslovakia after this war—and I hope my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be able to make a note of what I am submitting to him—a real State that is bounded on the German side by the fortified heights of the Sudetenland. This time we must avoid telling the Czechoslovaks to fortify themselves against Germany, and then robbing them of those fortifications when they seem likely to serve the purpose for which they were designed. We heard from the lion. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. Strauss) a. protest against possible removals of population from the Sudetenlands, from Silesia and from East Prussia. Whether it offends him or not, I shall dare to say that I believe the German elements in the Sudetenlands should be carted out of the, Sudetenlands, just as they should be carted away from East Prussia. An HON. MEMBER: "Where are you going to put them?"] Into Germany. We have to safeguard the Poland of the future. Surely the State that loses a war which she herself has started cannot be expected to be restored to precisely the same position she occupied when she began hostilities. There is this other point about East Prussia which I have said before and I will say again now—we must accommodate our Russian Allies in the matter of their Western frontier. We have heard that Russia is one of the main engines of our victory and that the Russian Armies, to quote the words of the Prime Minister, "have torn the guts out of the German armies." Whether we know it or not the Germans know very well that it is well within the bounds of possibility to transfer populations. In any case, and I put it to those Members who have interrupted me, which is better, to exterminate the Germans in the territories which they have disturbed or remove those populations safely to Germany?
Will my hon. and gallant Friend allow me?
No, I will not give way because I have given way several times.
It is usual to give way to a Member on the Front Bench.
I wish the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) would try to hold his peace.
We all do, but he never does.
Ever since the hon. Member for Ipswich entered this House he has been quite irrepressible, but when he has been here longer he will understand that a Member who is occasionally able to hold his peace is not necessarily for that reason a less valuable Member of this honourable House.I wish in my last remarks to bring into the prominence which they deserve the fortunes and future of the people of Czechoslovakia. I wish to say with all the emphasis I can command that this country and her population occupy the key, the nodal, the vital position in Europe. Between the two German wars the Republic of Czechoslovakia was the great democratic success of central Europe and it is upon the prosperity and stability of that country more than anything else that the future of peace in Europe depends. Ad nauseam the words of Bismarck have been quoted:
The Foreign Office would do well to remember that in future. Let the Czechs be masters in their own country. I hope that will be a guiding principle of our future foreign policy. The sooner it is said openly by the Foreign Secretary the more I believe most of us would welcome that declaration."He who is master of Bohemia is master of Europe."
First, I wish to point out to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Leeds (Major Adams) that I was interrupting him, so far as I did, in order to support him, although I am bound to admit that I did not agree very much with most of what he said. I feel strongly on this question of the Sudetenland. My hon. and gallant Friend attacked my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) on the remarks he made about the proposed transfer of population, and suggested that the Only way to maintain peace—and he is entitled to his view, I do not dispute it—was to conduct the kind of transfer which is therein contemplated. I propose later in my speech, which may take some time, to refer to this matter in detail [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, we are rising for seven weeks, and I do not see why I should not speak for several hours if I want to do so. I do not favour going away, and I propose to say what I want to say about this international situation before I sit down. If nobody wants to listen I do not mind.If my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Leeds has his way, it is certain that there will be another war. The sooner he and the Government realise that the better. I think the Foreign Secretary, in his own heart, realises that that is the truth. If one could get alongside him and discuss these matters one would arrive at a solution. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] There is a division on this side, but I cannot help that. I have great belief in the integrity of individuals and think they are terribly swayed by circumstances. I think my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is in exceedingly bad company. Some of the Members now on the Government Front Bench, I would not have on the Front Bench for anything in the world. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Leeds talked about prestige. I think that is a very dangerous weapon. Any Government which is swayed by the importance of prestige is going along the wrong avenue. The thing that really matters is principle and what one wants to hear from the Government is a more outspoken statement of what they are proposing to do, rather than hanging on to words spoken by past Ministers and the like. However, I rose primarily to answer some of the points made by the Prime Minister. I am glad to see my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) in his place——
He is not learned.
No, he is much more important than learned: he is a historian. I, personally, find his speeches very refreshing. I do not say I agree with them—that is another matter—but they stimulate my thoughts, and that is the only object of the spoken word. I do not expect everybody to agree. with me. If they did I should have packed up long ago and gone in for another occupation. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University will listen to me and not immerse himself in the remarks of the hon. Member for William Hickey——
The hon. Member really must not call me that, because it is more than a year out of date. Further, it was entirely my fault, because I was discussing with the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) something which I was going to say about what he had said.
I was not being really offensive.
The hon. Member was very offensive.
I have great respect for my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University. I always enjoy his speeches. If I see his name go up on the board, if I see that he is the jockey up, I always come in to listen to him, and there are not many people for whom I would do that. But my hon. Friend is really old-fashioned about this business. His whole point seemed to be related to the balance of power in Europe.
I am all for it.
My view, and the view I think of a great many on this side of the House, is that we do not want the balance of power in Europe.
Why did my hon. Friend welcome Hitler's attack on Russia?
I do not know what my hon. Friend means by that; I do not ever recollect having spoken on that subject. It is irrelevant to what I was saying, namely, that the balance of power in Europe is completely out of date. If we are to have peace in the world we have to accept the fundamental fact that the tendency in Europe towards greater unity is desirable and inevitable.
I am not pan-German; do not be so silly. I want peace, and I want permanent peace. I am not interested in this ridiculous conflict of emotions as to whether it should be a Right or a Left peace, or a middle kind of peace. I believe that ordinary, honourable, decent people would not fight unless they were led by corrupt Governments, and, practically speaking, all people are led by corrupt Governments. I believe, with Nat Gubbins, that if all the peoples of the world had an opportunity of really understanding what the whole thing was about they would stop fighting. [Interruption.] Nat Gubbins is a great man I know he is employed by Lord Beaverbrook, but he employs all sorts of funny people.The second point that the hon. Member made is that fraternity without sacrifice is impossible. I agree. He went on to say that the whole question is the contribution that people are going to make in order to get this fraternity. That is the fundamental economic point. I also have studied this economic problem. We find that in our Empire we have a tremendous predominance in the control of raw materials. Of the 33 essential raw materials I believe we have a predominant control of 28, some control of three and none of two. I agree that we are in a bad position apropos the two and in a very good position à propos the 28, and that what were, before the war, called the non-having nations are precisely in the reverse position. Until we recognise in this country, and in this Empire, that the contribution we have to make to the peace of Europe and of the world economically is tremendous, there is not the slightest chance of arriving at that peace.
Does the hon. Member suggest that Russia, which contains an even greater supply of essential raw materials, should surrender them at the same time? If not, why should the British Empire do it?
I would not dispute that. I have not got the figures here, but I think my statement substantially correct. The hon. Gentleman must make his own speech. I cannot make it for him. If I had known that the hon. Member for Cambridge University was going to make his speech, I should have been more prepared. I was speaking from memory.
I will send them to the hon. Member.
I shall be glad, and I will embody them in the next speech that I make to this honourable Assembly. I listened to the Prime Minister's speech with the very greatest interest. If it is not presumptuous to say so, the first comment that I should like to make on it and the events which have led up to it, is that we would all offer congratulations to those who organised, arranged and were responsible for the landing in Normandy. I know I am a critic of the Government, and I propose to go on criticising them, but I always viewed the prospect of that landing with absolute horror. It was not as bad as we thought. The casualties were not as great as we expected them to be. I am glad of the opportunity of saying that to all those who were responsible for it. I admit frankly that some of my feelings about the Second Front were actuated by the terrifying feeling of the awful slaughter that would accompany that landing. When I thought about it I thought it would just be bloody hell, but it went through with tremendous success, and congratulations are due to the Government and all those who organised it for the success that they made of it.Having said that, I return to my more normal theme. I feel that in the Prime Minister's account of what happened he was speaking more as a military raconteur of events than really giving us any strong political leadership. One point that I was particularly glad he laid emphasis on was the terrific contribution which had been made by our own Armies. I have been in touch with Englishmen who have lately come back from America who have seen what has been written in the American Press and have asked me what the British Army has been doing. I should like to quote from a letter I had from Normandy on this subject. It is from a soldier who has done a great deal of fighting and who has told me a great deal about tanks. A disproportionate view has been put over, particularly in America, not because I think Americans want it put over in that way but because the whole effect of journalism tends that way and has been to belittle what our people have done. I quote what this responsible officer has said about the trend of events since the landing in Normandy.
It is frightfully important, in my view, that the men in Normandy should realise, and that the world should realise, the terrific efforts they have made. The Prime Minister said that I should no doubt find what he had to say about tanks a matter of pain and sorrow. I did not interrupt, because he is far too good a Parliamentarian to interrupt, and I do not think it is a satisfactory way of dealing with an important subject. I am delighted that some of the tanks about which we had doubts have done better than was expected. All my criticism has been for the purpose of providing our men with better and more effective fighting equipment. The puny business of attacking the Government is quite by the way, however enjoyable it may be across the Floor of the House. I want to assure the Government that the battle of the tanks is not yet over by any means. I tried to interrupt the Prime Minister, in a quiet way—I agree that he was very friendly in what he said —by saying that he was only telling half the story. He did tell only half the story. I propose now, in support of the soldiers who are fighting these battles, to give a few of the facts. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to say that the customer is always right. As a salesman myself that is a philosophy which I spent years inculcating into my own people in order to assist them in getting orders; but I am not quite sure that the Prime Minister realises that there is a difference between the boss and the people who operate his machines. I am not sure that in what he said about our various tanks he realises what the facts are, as they are known by our chaps who are fighting in Normandy. The soldiers have used their weapons to the best of their ability, but the House had better realise that there are still grouses from responsible people. One cannot mention the names of one's informants, because if one does, it is hopeless. I am perfectly willing to give the names, behind the scenes, to any Minister if he so desires. I will repeat what a responsible general told me, after he had seen the Sherman tank and its 17-pounder gun, the American tank with the gun which was not built for it. Anybody who knows about tanks knows that you first decide about the gun, then about the armour, then about the speed. He said: "Relatively speaking, to-day, we are just as far behind the Germans as we were in 1940." I submit that that is a disgraceful state of affairs. I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs did not hear what I said. I warned him that I was going to raise this point."We have succeeded in holding all the German Panzers away from the Americans while they have got on with the job of taking Cherbourg, but our time will come shortly."
What did the hon. Member say?
My friend the general, a fighting general, told me, after having seen all that we have, including the Sherman 17-pounder and the heavy Churchill with its mortar gun of 105 mm., that we are as far behind the Germans to-day in quality as we were in 1940.
The hon. Member complained just now because we are everlastingly accused in the United States of doing nothing. May I say that, no matter how highly-bred a dog may be, if you persist in giving him a bad name, it will stick to him? The hon. Member has spent his whole time in doing everything he can to lower the prestige of the British Army.
Really and truly, if I had thought that my hon. and gallant Friend, for whom I have a great personal regard, was going to make a remark like that I would not have given way. It is not true. If he took the trouble to read my speeches he would be aware that all along my criticisms have been based upon irrefutable facts. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members to laugh, but these men are dying. It is all very well to sit here, on a soft seat. I speak as a fighting soldier. I know that my hon. and gallant Friend is a gallant admiral, but I have been at the wrong end of the business and I am determined to protest in this House, whenever I can do so without public disadvantage, against the inadequacy of the steps which are being taken to provide our men with the proper equipment. I am surprised at my hon. and gallant Friend saying that I am trying to belittle the British Army. I am not. I walked into a mess the other day and I was surprised to find a photograph of myself on the wall. I said: "What the hell is that doing there?" and I was told "You are the patron saint of this regiment." I asked why, and I was told that it was because I had protested against the inadequacy of the tanks. The Germans know what we have just as we know what they have.
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend again. I did not want to impute any bad motives to him but merely to point out that his talks are so persistent that they cannot have anything but a damaging effect.
My experience as a soldier has been that I know how good and how bad my weapons are, and my grouse is that the House of Commons does not do more about it. I find that to be the point of view of almost every soldier I talk to. I spoke to a friend of mine, who is the commander of a squadron of a very famous regiment, about the relative merits of the Sherman tank, of which we have heard so much to-day, and the Tiger. He told me: "I know what happens, because it has happened to me twice. My squadron, goes over and bumps into one of these Tigers. There are four bangs and there are four of my tanks gone." So far as I know, we have nothing in production which is a complete answer to the Panther or the Tiger. I know that the Secretary of State does not like to hear this, but perhaps he will pay attention to me because I want to quote what some of his own soldiers say.
And the war correspondents.
Yes, they say that the R.A.F. had not been asked, in the last two years at least, to take on the Luftwaffe with inferior planes, nor had the Fleet been asked to do their work with inferior warships, but that the Army have been asked to take on German Panthers with nothing like as good weapons as the Boches have. My right hon. Friend thinks that what he is told is true, but it is not true.I will not delay the House by quoting reams of stuff from war correspondents, but until the last few days, when suddenly there has been a turn of the tide and an A.22 climbed a hill and sat on the top —I do not call them Churchills, because this position has nothing to do with the Prime Minister—they had been talking against it. Anybody who knows anything of the mechanical side of the subject of tanks knows that the height to which a mechanical-track vehicle will climb depends upon the depth between the tracks. The A.22 has a very wide depth between the bottom and the top track. I never said that the A.22 was a bad tank but that it was a ridiculous thing to put up against a Panther or a Tiger. It climbs hedges all right, but steeplechasers also climb hedges. It has other defects. As the Prime Minister himself said to-day, it has only a 6-pounder gun against the German Panther, with its high velocity 75 mm. gun with a muzzle velocity of 4,500 feet per second. I should like to quote a letter from a fighting soldier on this subject when he suggested that the Minister of Production and the Secretary of State for War should go out and fight with "one of these ruddy things."
I hope the hon. Member will remember that he is addressing the House of Commons and that he must restrain his language. I have heard bad language from him three times.
I did not mean to offend, Mr. Speaker. I am using the vernacular of the soldier because I am trying to speak for him. I was only quoting just now the language which I received in a letter, but in any case I was entirely wrong, Sir, and I accept your rebuke. Nevertheless, I assure you that that is what the soldiers feel, and I venture to suggest that you would use much more violent language if you were in a similar tank in similar circumstances. I could keep the House going for a very long time on this issue. I do not want it to go out to the country that as a result of the Prime Minister's speech to-day the House of Commons is satisfied that our men have better weapons than the Germans, because they have not, and I am determined to protest against it on behalf of the men. I want to read a letter I received, dated 7th July this year, from a fighting soldier in Normandy. He says this:
That is not good enough. That is pretty well what the Prime Minister said. He said that the Panther is vulnerable on the side but you cannot get the devil—I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker—you cannot get this enemy tank always in the flank, when you have to face them hull down and especially when they are in defensive positions. It is preposterous we should try to palm off the issue by saying we have a tank which can shoot the other tank through the side."The Panther is a terrific tank, and I have closely examined many of them, which is more than the Tank Board has done. It is impenetrable in front but curiously thin on the side."
That is what caused the failure to break through at Caen.
I have heard stories about a 6-pounder gun putting out Tigers. Of course if you put the shot through a window it will put out a tank, but a gunner does not expect to do that every time. This 75 mm. gun is no use as an anti-tank gun and not very much use as an anti-personnel gun because it is a 6-pounder gun bored out, with a muzzle velocity of 2,050 ft., which is far too low to penetrate any modern armour. It bounces off the outside of the Panther.I would very much like to be allowed an hour of the time of this great Assembly to develop this issue of tanks. The last time we tried to do so we were put into Secret Session, and as I said on another occasion, that was only to defend the Government because I did not learn anything in that Debate which I did not know before. I do emphasise that responsible people, fighting soldiers—and I hope the Foreign Secretary will reassure us on this point—say that to-day we are as far behind as we were in 1940, relatively speaking. We have the A.22 called the Churchill, and the A.27 called the Cromwell, which has a 75 mm. bored-out gun which is no use against tanks, and we have the Sherman, which is a very good tank. But the other chaps have got 88 mm. guns firing a 24-1b. shot—dead killers at 2,000 yards. It is really no fun for a soldier, however gallant he may be—it really is pretty nerve-racking—going into action against somebody who has a range of something like five to one against him. I hope that the Government will re-assure us that something is to be done and done at once, not because the armament may be necessary—we all hope that with the events that are happening to-day the whole show will collapse before Christmas —but because this is not good enough for the fighting soldiers. In March, 1943, I urged the Government, through the Prime Minister, to make a tank with a gun equal to the 88 mm. gun, and they could have done it. They did nothing. In fact my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War—perhaps he will pay attention to me—never even inspected that tank——
the Tog. 2. It was, I say, not inspected by the right hon. Gentleman until April this year, after the tank Debate. He never came near it until then. At committee meetings last year, the Secretary of State for War, the Minister of Production and the Minister of Supply all assured us that there was no military demand for a tank firing a gun equal to or better than the 88 mm. gun mounted on the Tiger. That was an agreed minute.
The agreed minute was a Memorandum signed by the hon. Member himself.
On the contrary.
I can deny that. I was a member of that deputation and a member of the committee which discussed the matter. It was a minute, as a matter of fact, which was 'brought up by an hon. Member and was agreed by all of us at that time. In point of fact the right hon. Gentleman has been dodging on this matter ever since, and when I come to speak I hope to deal with him.
I hope to correct any misapprehension on this. When the hon. Member talks about a minute, it means to the ordinary man an official minute, and does not mean a tendentious minute of his own.
I confirm what my hon. Friend has said, and we will, in fact, produce the records.
I will take the trouble to circulate to every Member of this House the minutes which were submitted to the right hon. Gentleman, the minutes of what happened and the correspondence which ensued, which show why a public Debate on tanks ought to take place. If such a Debate did take place the Minister of Production, the Minister of Supply, and the Minister for War would be out on their necks—the whole lot of them. I know the Secretary of State for War scoffs, but that is one of his habits which does not commend itself to me or to some other hon. Members. We are here to protect the fellows who are fighting our battles. We are not interested in whether a Minister thinks it is a good idea or not. We are interested in facts. The soldiers come back to us, and it is right that we should protest, when the soldiers protest that they do not get what they want. I will circulate a memorandum showing what did take place at that meeting of Ministers and the meeting between the Labour Party Supply Committee and these Ministers. It will show precisely what did happen and how accurate I am in my statement that the united view expressed by the three Ministers was that there was no military necessity to have a tank equipped with a gun which is an answer to the 88 mm. gun. I drove such a tank in March last year, and had the advice we gave to the Government been taken, we could have had a limited supply of these tanks in action now in Normandy. Every soldier will curse the Government for not having them there, and they will be right in their curses.I am sorry I have spoken with such heat but this question of tanks troubles me, because it brings back vivid recollections to me of the disadvantages under which I found myself in the last war. A disadvantage under which I find myself at the present time when thinking what the point of view of the soldier is with regard to political propaganda, a point which I have recently raised. The Prime Minister said nothing to-day. He gave us a great military review, but no leadership. Why? He said, "I cannot give you any lead at all, because I have to subordinate myself to the United States and to Russia." [HON. MEMBERS: No."] Yes, he did. When it was said that at the Teheran Conference unity of purpose had been arrived at, a very competent person said, "How do you expect unity of purpose in a triumvirate of a Russian revolutionary, an American squire, and a British aristocrat? It is impossible." The Prime Minister knows that it is impossible, and he knows that what was settled at Teheran does not really meet the views held by the majority of people in this country. My hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) spoke about this great transference of 10,000,000 Germans into what will probably be called the Lesser Reich. Does my right hon. Friend really think that that will be peace? Does he not understand that peace is a contract, and that you cannot have a contract on one side: that a contract must be between two parties? There is no contract if it is dictated. You have to arrive at a position which is going to bring satisfaction to all peoples. I dislike the word "negotiated," because if you use it, all the boneheads get up; but in my party we want the greater unity, the brotherhood of man. We believe that the only way to a peaceful world is the brotherhood of man, and that everybody has a right to live without exploitation. The Patronage Secretary may laugh, but I have no respect for the Patronage Secretary's views. How does my right hon. Friend expect to bring peace to the world by the transference of 10,000,000 Germans out of a country which the Prime Minister himself has described as more German than Germany itself? What I was hoping for was not a declaration of peace terms, or armistice terms, but perhaps a return to the Atlantic Charter, a revocation of Teheran—where, in my view, the infamy was laid, where the pass was sold—by a declaration that we really do mean that the people shall have the kind of Governments that they would wish to have, and that there will not be any dictation. On all these questions, I have spoken—or, at least, I believe I have spoken, which may not be quite the same thing—from the point of view of the person who has to do the dirty work. I believe that if a real declaration were made to the German soldiers, instead of letting them understand that they are going to be shot if they are captured, as letters that I have show they are led to understand; if they were told this by people who really know what is meant; and if they were told, at the same time, not only that they are not going to be shot, but that they have something to hope for, they would give in. Soldiers are not like politicians. Politicians manoeuvre about until the best time, from their point of view, comes for making peace, but soldiers want to make peace at the earliest possible moment. We want to make the German people and the Japanese people understand, as we might have made the Italians understand sooner than we did, that the kind of peace we want is the kind of peace that would suit them too. Then we can bring this ghastly show to an end sooner than we otherwise should.
The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has spoken of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and of his leadership in relation to other nations. He appeared to think, from what my right hon. Friend said today about the complexity—which is a very real complexity—of working the triangular system, that we had, in some way or another, abdicated our position or our power. That is certainly not the position. If my hon. Friend is under that delusion, the sooner he deprives himself of it the better. We take our full responsibility in deciding these matters.
How do we know?
Because I am telling the House,.
Where is the evidence?
I am sorry the hon. Member does not believe me. If he will listen, I will tell him a little more. We take our full responsibility for what is decided. [Interruption.] I wish the hon. Gentleman would try to contain himself a moment. I have spoken only for a minute, and he has been interrupting all the time.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a practice, whenever he gets up, of saying these things. Nobody is more interrupted than I am when I speak. I just made some remark to my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman has adopted that dodge for winning cheap cheers from his stooges.
I do not think that I am in the habit of interrupting other hon. Members. I was trying to explain this matter —which, I think, is of some little importance—of our method of working with other Powers. I have said that we do not take a minor role in relation to other Powers. I ask the House to believe me in that. If Members reflect they will realise how impossible it is for my right hon. Friend to play a minor role in any company. By reason of his own personality, he is not cast for the minor role. I have attended a good many of these conferences, at which my right hon Friend has been present with the other leaders, and I think I need not tell the House that he plays his part as fully as any other man in the assembly. We neither fail to take our responsibility for making decisions, nor, when criticism follows, do we shelter behind others.The hon. Member for Ipswich has made a number of remarks about tanks, as he has done on other occasions. I do not want to detain the House, as I know a number of other Members desire to speak after me, so I am not going to speak in detail. But I was astounded by one proposition that the hon. Member put forward, when he read a letter from an officer in the Army, saying that our position, relatively to the Germans, was as bad now as it was in 1940.
To prevent any possible misunderstanding, may I make it perfectly dear that it was not said in a letter, but in a personal interview, and that he did say that, relatively speaking, so far as gunfire and armament were concerned, we were as far behind as in 1940, but that that was not so quantitatively. We have a number of good tanks, but they are not so good as they should be.
That is slightly better, but it is strange that an officer should have said that.
They all think that.
I do not think so. I have read a number of reports since this battle began. Some are from officers personally known to me, as I have no doubt some of them are personally known to the hon. Gentleman. I have read a number of reports from officers who have experience of armour in battle, which do not in the least bear out what the hon. Gentleman has said.If my hon. Friend has the evidence, we would certainly like to see it in confidence, or to be told in confidence what it is and have it examined, but I can only say that the reports which members of the Defence Committee have seen of the operations of our armour in battle do not, in any way, bear out what the hon. Gentleman says. In fact, we know, from the experience of the Second Army in this particular engagement, that they are knocking out hundreds of German tanks.
That is not the point.
It has some relevance, I ask my hon. Friend to believe. A large proportion of these tanks knocked out are Panther and Tiger tanks.
May I ask my right hon. Friend a question, because I did give him notice that I should raise this? I want him to answer this question. What tank have we that has a better gun than the German Panther, with a 75 mm. gun firing a 12 or 14 1b. shell at a muzzle velocity of 4,500 feet per second, or the Tiger tank with an 88 mm. gun, firing a 25 1b. shell at a muzzle velocity of 2,750 feet per second?
I would say this, though I trespass with some delicacy in an argument with the hon. Gentleman on these matters. I do say that our 17-pounder gun is a better gun than the German 88 mm. That is the experience we have had in this battle. I do not think my hon. Friend was wise to give the impression—which is the impression I got—that we were perfectly satisfied with the position as it was and were not going to make any efforts to improve it. Of course, that is not so. All the time, these reports are continually flowing in to us, and my right hon. Friend went across there recently just for the purpose of checking up, at first hand, these reports from the officers there. The War Cabinet would be blameworthy if we did not check up; we would be equally blameworthy if we thought that all was for the best in the best of all possible worlds. We do claim that my hon. Friend's description is neither fair nor accurate.
My anxiety is that the Minister of Production, the Secretary 'of State for War and the Minister of Supply, more than a year ago, stated to the Tank Committee of this House that there was no military demand for a tank mounting a gun equal to, or better than, the German 88 mm. gun. What I want to know is— has that opinion been corrected?
My right hon. Friend does not accept that. We could go on debating this for some time.
I will circulate it to the House.
My position is that I do not want the hon. Member to get the impression that we have been thinking that there is nothing more to be done. That is not so. The matter is constantly being examined, and the War Cabinet is constantly having reports on the performance of these weapons, at every stage of the fighting that is going on.I want to correct one other thing which the hon. Gentleman said, because it may lead to some misunderstanding. It is about the publicity given to our Forces in the American Press. I think it is right that I should say in this House that, from the reports I have received in the last few days on the fighting in Normandy, we have been very generously treated in the American papers and in the publicity given to our troops, though they have, for various reasons, a less dramatic role in certain respects. Their publicity has been fully equal to that which the Americans gave to their own people, and I have had more than one telegram from Washington commenting upon it. May I say one or two words on various international matters? First, I would like to answer again a question on a subject we discussed before—the question of the terms of peace. I understand what my hon. Friend has in mind, but I think we disagree fundamentally. What he really asked for is what he does not like to call a negotiated peace.
No, an agreed peace.
But it means a negotiated peace. Let me explain. One of the conditions of that peace is that every nation in Europe shall be entitled to have the Government which it desires, and there shall be no dictation at all from outside. Applying that to Germany, is the House going to say that that is our position? Supposing, after the conclusion of hostilities, another Nazi power was to come forward in Germany, is it suggested that we could disinterest ourselves in that power? We could not possibly do so, and that is where I think there is a difference between my hon. Friend and us. We should not for a moment admit that Germany should have the right to establish the Government she wished.
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend. The difference between a negotiated peace and an agreed peace is that every country in the world understands that a negotiated peace means giving up or throwing away something that you do not want to throw away, because it is the only way out of it, whereas an agreed peace means, to my mind, a peace which will bring satisfaction to the peoples of the countries concerned and will bring about enduring and lasting peace.
There, I am afraid, the hon. Gentleman is asking for the impossible.
Then we shall always have war.
I cannot conceive that the Nazi-trained German mentality of war, which is now, unhappily, deep in the minds and consciousness of Germans, is going willingly to accept a peace which does not allow a future Nazi domination of Europe. That is a fundamental problem we must face up to, and I say, with regret, but with certainty, that I disagree with my hon. Friend.I was glad to hear, running through this Debate, from several speakers, praise of and friendly comments on our French Allies, and, in particular, on what the Prime Minister said earlier to-day. I need not enlarge on the real desire of everyone to see a speedy restoration of France to her rightful place in the family of nations, and to see the strengthening of the bonds of friendship between us and to see our close association after the war in the rehabilitation of Europe. Some words were uttered by General de Gaulle in Algiers which did not receive wide publicity, and I would like to quote them because they well represent the Government's position. This is what he said:
I believe that to be a very true statement of our relations, and I agree with everything that the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) had to say on the subject of France. There is another comment on the subject of the French situation which I should make to-day. The progress of our Army is inflicting the most heavy losses on the French people. Villages and towns are being destroyed, in many cases, as the Armies advance, This House would wish that a message of sympathy and understanding should go out. Everything that the commanders can do to avoid this distraction will be done, but, unhappily, much suffering and loss of life are now caused to the French people. The British people understand and admire the courage of their French friends in this flame of war. One other comment, about the Maquis. A remarkable achievement has been car- ried out by these forces, now under General Eisenhower's command. We are sending them all the supplies we can and have sent a very considerable quantity of supplies already. They need not fear that they will be stinted for anything. When the full story of the achievements of this Army comes to be told, it will be one which has a worthy place even in the military annals of the French nation. We are at this time, I can also tell the hon. Gentleman, in the process of increasing our deliveries of arms and equipment to that organisation. I would like to say a word about our other Western Allies—Belgium, Holland, Norway, the small countries which have been with us since the beginning of the struggle, and with whom we share so much in tradition and practice and with whom we are determined to work closely after the war, all the more closely because of our association during the war. We mean to work with them, as with others, to make a solid basis for the reconstruction in Europe and to ensure together that we play our part as good neighbours, so that Germany cannot again start to frighten nations out of their neutrality, or to absorb them with tactics with which we have been familiar in recent years. I am afraid that I have a sad announcement which I must make to the House. A similar announcement is being made in the Dominions. I regret to have to inform the House that some members of the Canadian Forces have met their death in Normandy in circumstances which leave no doubt that they were wilfully murdered. The Canadian Prime Minister is making a statement in Ottowa to-day, and I will confine myself to stating here the bare facts which are substantiated by evidence. Soon after the operations in Normandy started some members of the Canadian Forces were taken prisoner and while in custody an officer and 18 men were murdered by members of the 12th S.S. Reconnaissance battalion of the 12th S.S. Panzer Division under the direction of certain of their officers. These 19 men were, of course, prisoners of war and, as such, were entitled to protection under the International Prisoners of War Convention. The Swiss Government were asked yesterday to lodge a strong protest with the German Government to demand an immediate and searching investigation, the punishment of those responsible and an assurance that strict orders will be issued to prevent any repetition of such an occurrence. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as well as the Governments of the other Dominions have all associated themselves with these representations and I am sure that the House will wish to express its deepest sympathy with the relatives in Canada in their grievous loss. I suggest that whatever our feelings may be, we should refrain from debating this matter, while it is still in the hands of the Protecting Power. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a reference to the Armies of which General Alexander was commander and to the varied nations and the many lands from which they were drawn, and I think the House would wish to pay tribute to the dauntless and brilliant leader who has moulded these contingents from many countries into such a fine machine. May I say a word about the question of peace terms and terms of surrender? There is still some confusion in one or two quarters of the House as to the position. One hon. Member asked me whether we were going to do this that or the other in our peace terms. We are not at that stage yet at all. The position is that we stand upon unconditional surrender. When surrender takes place, the terms of surrender are placed for signature before the surrendering country. These terms are the same as in any other hostilities, and these terms were the terms of the Government in the last war. The same procedure was followed in respect of it. It is not until a later stage that peace terms, dealing with transfers of population and such things, are raised. It might be wise even not to pass to the second stage with great rapidity, and for my part I would rather not commit myself at the present time. I must refer to one or two points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) in a speech which we all enjoyed very much. I agree with him entirely except when he began to paint a Gauguinesque picture of paradise, in contrast to the conditions under which we live here, of black girls and sherbet. Some of us would no doubt select for ourselves more pleasant quarters, but that was what my hon. Friend thought as seen through the imagination of a very famous academy. He asked one specific question to which I must reply. He read out to us the declaration of King Peter of Yugoslavia and the interpretation put on it by the B.B.C. and asked whether that was justified. I would certainly say that it was not justified. The King's declaration was addressed clearly to all people of Yugoslavia, and the interpretation of that declaration was not justified in the circumstances at all. I pass to one controversial issue, and that is the question of Greece. The hon. Member for Broxtowe maintained that our policy in Greece was due to the Prime Minister's love of kings. I do not know from where he gets that particular idea. The King of Greece was a very good and loyal friend to the Allied cause at a very critical time in our fortunes. I confess I do not see anything particularly wrong in feeling sympathy for those who stood by you at a particularly bad time. That is true, but no more than what we have said many times in this House. There is no question of our seeking to impose anything on his country, or indeed on any country. It is for the country themselves in due course to decide. But when, the hon. Member says that this is a picture of our treatment of Greece he really has not got it right. Why is it that we have this difference of opinion with the E.A.M.? All the Greek parties—and there are a great many Greek political parties, more than there are British—were collected together in the Lebanon, where they had a meeting. It is really nonsense to talk about the Government of Cairo as if they had not any connection with reality. The Government of Cairo only came out of Greece a short time ago. The Greek Minister of Information at present in this country has many things to say about conditions in the mountains. He has been in the mountains for the last two years, and to talk about these people as remote, with nothing to do, is not true. All the parties were present, and all were agreed on certain representation in the Government. We all heaved a great sigh of relief. What happened after that? The E.A.M. in Greece repudiated the decision of their own leaders, who had gone to the Conference. I am not arguing whether there was good reason or not for what happened. I am merely stating the position. It is absurd to say that this Government was not representative at all. It was as representative as any Government out of Greece was possible to be."There is between England and ourselves a community of European and world interest which no rivalry in any part of the world can be allowed to disrupt."
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that I made a statement more than a fortnight ago, which he was not good enough to answer, that in fact the representatives went to Cairo not to participate in the Government, but to take part in conversations with a view to participation, and while there the Greek Prime Minister broadcast hostile references to E.A.M. representatives at Cairo.
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has got it right. The conversation did not take place in Cairo but in the Lebanon, where everybody sat down, including E.A.M., and agreed upon the programme and agreed, as far as I know, about everything At any rate the announcement was made from Lebanon that they were agreed and the announcement was made by everybody who was at the Conference. They all got up and made speeches and said they were united and would live happily ever after. That was the position, we were told, but after the return to Cairo, differences began to arise bit by bit, and they arose as a result of the attitude of the followers of those who were in Cairo, and not as a result of the decision of the men in Cairo themselves.Our attitude as a Government is quite clear—we wish to see these parties united. We were delighted when the Lebanon Conference produced unity. It was not the decision of the King at all We still hope that unity will come back again, and we know that many of E.A.M. would like it and we trust it will so happen. What I cannot accept is the suggestion that in supporting the Government in Cairo we are supporting some Government completely out of touch with their people and completely unrepresentative. That is certainly and emphatically not so. I would like to say one word on the work which is being done about the future, and which was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). The Prime Minister has asked me particularly, in reply to my right hon. friend, to make that plain. A great deal of work is being done. It is true that we are not talking a great deal about that work yet, but I do not think there is much harm in not talking about it. It is better to get on with it and, when we have reached a certain stage, to make our report to the House.
But ought we not to ask about it a little? Is there not some risk of decisions being taken which, even at the armistice stage, might really control the later peace if His Majesty's Government do not know what is in the minds of the people here?
I am not at all against hon. Members talking—in fact they have been talking about it to-day and I hope they will go on talking about it, but some 'of the inter-Allied work going on at present, like the work of the European Advisory Commission, has not so far been made public. In time it will be. A great deal of work has been done by this Commission of a preparatory kind which is quite essential if we are to be ready to deal with the situation when victory in the field is won. Then there are the meetings which are to take place in a fortnight's time at Washington between our representatives and those of the United States and of the Soviet Government with reference to the future world organisation. Sir Alexander Cadogan, the permanent head of the Foreign Office, is leading our delegation, which will contain representatives of the Chiefs of Staff as well. We have already done preparatory work before the Conference and it will be their task to see how far our views and those of the other two Powers concerned, coincide on the future organisation of security. I may say, and the Prime Minister has made it plain, that we discussed these matters with the Dominions Prime Ministers when they were here, and I think I can say that there was complete agreement between us. Now the matter goes a stage further into the world sphere, and there again we shall be discussing these matters. This is of course on the official level. If an agreement is reached there on an official level, then the Governments will look at it, it will be reported to this House, and at some stage I trust there will be an international gathering to give approval to it. But this is the spade-work, which is quite indispensable if any conclusions are to be reached later.Before I conclude I would like to say this: The right hon. Gentleman drew a contrast between now and four years ago, and I think that was a fair contrast to draw. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University and one or two other hon. Members asked me what was the aim of the Foreign Office in these years. The aim then, as now, is to do what lies in our power to maintain our authority, our reputation for fair dealing with the nations; to try to increase the confidence of other lands in us; to try to build up a great coalition of the United Nations which will finally overthrow Hitler and all that he stands for. We claim in our stewardship not to work ill to those aims, and so we ask for the support of this House.
I think that the House will feel that we are justified in not allowing the Debate to conclude at the point where it has been left by the right hon. Gentleman. I make no complain that he has intervened at this stage, because, if he wishes to reply later, there is nothing in the Rules of the House which will prevent him from so doing. But I make this complaint, that a fortnight ago a Debate took place in the House of Commons on these matters to which the right hon. Gentleman did not in fact make any reply, and I would like to put one or two points before I come on to the general theme of what he has said about Greece. I have listened with very great interest to what he has said to-day and. to what the Prime Minister said. I noticed that the Prime Minister was very careful to identify all the Members of the War Cabinet with the statement made last week about Greece by the right hon. Gentleman. It is a peculiar feature of the Prime Minister's statements that whenever he does something which he knows to be particularly disagreeable to Left opinion, he is always careful to say that he has obtained the unanimous support of all the Members of the War Cabinet. He does not always do it but, whenever he wishes to make my right hon. Friends here and there parties with him to something which he knows to be distasteful to many hon. Members on this side of the House, he always says it was with the unanimous approval of all the Members of the War Cabinet. I would like to examine what was done which had their unanimous approval. What they did was to prevent all arms going to E.L.A.S. last week.
We have not stopped supplies going to E.A.M.; they are going as they were going before.
Exactly. At some time when the censorship is removed it will be possible to examine the right hon. Gentleman's statement. Over and over again he says in this House, "I tell you so." I used to hear that over Spain, and I am bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman, without at all wishing to be offensive, that I do not accept what is said in the House. I have no confidence in the statements of the right hon. Gentleman at all. It is no use his being offended with me, because I am bound to be frank with him. I have conclusive evidence that the right hon. Gentleman does not tell fibs—I never accused him of that—but he has been so long in the Foreign Office that he presents a facet of the facts so selective as to constitute an untruth. With regard to the situation in Greece, he has given an entirely false picture when he says that in fact supplies to E.L.A.S have not been stopped. That is perfectly correct, but they have not, in fact, sent effective supplies to E.L.A.S. They have been sending effective supplies to the troops of Metaxas for a very long time, they have been sending some medical supplies to E.L.A.S. and a little ammunition to certain of the territory occupied by E.L.A.S., but, in fact, E.L.A.S. has not been supplied with effective military supplies at all at any time, Although it is perfectly true that the numbers of E.L.A.S. are much greater than the troops of Metaxas, nevertheless the troops of Metaxas have always received more supplies from our Government than have E.L.A.S. Those are the facts.It is perfectly true that the right hon. Gentleman and his confederates on that bench control information from Cairo and Greece effectively and suborn—or perhaps "seduce" would be a better term—the British Press in such a really effective fashion that the facts never get out to the British people. I do not disagree with him. I am glad that his fellow conspirator the Minister of Information has come to sit next to him. Let me be quite clear about this matter. I agree that there are difficulties in the Greek situation; I agree that there may be elements in E.A.M. which could be regarded by very many reasonable people as having exceeded what we expected from people of that sort. I agree with that. But I am bound to represent to the right hon. Gentleman that His Majesty's Government have approached the Greek people under the worst possible auspices by being made to appear as the special champions of King George. I said a fortnight ago, and I must repeat it because the right hon. Gentleman did not reply to me on that occasion, that the Foreign Office sent to Greece last August a certain man, whose name I will not mention because he is a civil servant. He made a report, portions of which I have seen. In it he suggested that the. Foreign Office was making a very great mistake by making itself appear to be trying to impose the King of Greece upon the Greek people. He went so far as to say that he had not been able to find any support for King George anywhere in any of the parties in Greece, and that it was a mistake for us all the time to appear to the Greek people, Right, Left and Centre, to be continually attempting to impose the Greek King upon them. He made a number of recommendations before last Christmas. Each one of those recommendations has been carried out by His Majesty's Government. The first was to stop all arms to E.A.M. The second was try to get a consortium between the different parties in Greece with a view to securing a coalition Government of all elements, including E.A.M., so that the unity of the Greek people against the German occupation might be regarded as the first consideration, and that the social content of E.A.M., as distinct from the Republican element, should come into the coalition later and afford a more favourable opportunity for the Greek King's claims to be put forward. That tactic has been followed by the Foreign Office, quite cleverly, ever since. It is true that they succeeded in getting E.A.M. to participate in the Greek Government at Cairo. They also tried to get Professor Salvos and failed. It is also true that the Foreign Office tried to get somebody in my party to persuade Professor Salvos to join the Government, and that he refused. The fact is that the Foreign Office—and I accused them of this a fortnight ago—have been principally concerned about the future Government of Greece rather than on consolidating Greek elements to exterminate the Germans in Greece.
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but the future will show that my estimate of the facts is rather better than his own. When he says that the Prime Minister has no Royalist inclinations, I would like to point out that the Prime Minister cannot restrain his Royalism nowadays. A friend of mine suggested that the intense Royalism of the Prime Minister must be based on the his torical investigation he made into his ancestors, and that he is doing penance at the present time in supporting Kings all over the world. In fact, the Prime Minister cannot see a King without wanting to shore him up.I will leave the Greek situation at that for the moment, except to say that it looks as though the Foreign Office are in danger of making the same mistake about the Greek situation that they made at the beginning about Yugoslavia, and as they have been making about France, although there is no king there. When the right hon. Gentleman says that the Maquis are entirely under General Eisenhower does he mean that all the functions of dealing with the underground movement in France have now been taken from the Ministry of Economic Warfare?
I think the position, strategically and militarily, is that all organisations in France passed under General Eisenhower some time ago. Supplies may be sent by other sources. I hope that what I have said is right.
I am delighted to hear it. I think it would have been very much better for our fortunes in France if, before D Day, the co-ordination of the resistance of the Maquis had been handed over to General Eisenhower, and not left to a Department which had political considerations in mind, as well as the organisation of military resistance. However, I will leave that point, because there are reasons why it is not desirable to debate it at this stage. I would like to say a few words about the Prime Minister's speech. It was a very remarkable performance for a man of his age. After all, he spoke for go minutes. But I wish he would not make such long speeches. I wish he would make short speeches more frequently rather than long speeches so infrequently, because when he makes his long surveys of the world situation it is difficult to reply to him without being equally spacious.
The hon. Member has a gift in that direction.
A gift of what?
If I am spacious at my age I do not know what will happen when I reach the Prime Minister's age. The Prime Minister said something of which the House should take note, because it is some justification for the position we have taken up. He said that one of the reasons why the second front, to use the short term which is now so familiar to everybody, did not occur last year was because we had committed ourselves to operations in the Mediterranean. I think I am within the recollection of the House in saying that on many occasions when I ventured diffidently to say a word or two about military strategy I said that the Mediterranean campaign was a mistake, that it meant a diversion and dispersal of our material resources and a pre-occupation, political and diplomatic, which would postpone the real thrust at the heart of Germany. I said that had we not wasted our resources and powers in the Mediterranean it would have been possible to direct an attack against Germany last year.
Would the hon. Member like the Italian Navy to be ranging round the Mediterranean?
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, and we ought not to go on discussing it too much, but I am convinced that history will show that the amount of material resources we set aside to deal with the conquest of Italy has been far greater than that which the Germans set aside to deal with us there. We are now dealing with six or seven German divisions in Italy, and for that long crawl up the Italian peninsula we are using enormous resources of shipping, men and aeroplanes. So far it is difficult to see what material military value the Italian campaign has in the ultimate conquest of Germany. It seems conclusive that the German army will be defeated long before General Alexander comes to grips with the Germans in the central plains of Europe. History will show that the war has been lengthened by a year by the unnecessary character of the Mediterranean campaign.That has been our charge against the Government. It is true that everyone is satisfied that the war is being won, and it is true, and I do not deny it, that when the war comes to an end the critics of the Government will be answered by the very fact of victory. It is a conclusive answer to us always, because no one will listen to any consideration that the war might have been over a year earlier with much less loss of life. Ever since the Russian Army showed that it was going to be an army of being in the field victory for us was inevitable, and the only consideration to which we should address our minds was how to get that victory quickly with the least loss of life. I believe that, if the point of view that I am expressing had been accepted, the war would have been won many months ago and London would have been saved its present ordeal. I believe we have provided the enemy with far more time and opportunity than he ought to have had and we have dispersed our material resources instead of concentrating them when they could have been used in cooperation with the Russians in a mortal blow against the enemy. That is my opinion. It is of no importance now as to which of us is right and which is wrong. All I know is that, in the language of Abraham Lincoln, if you win a war you require no advocate except that fact, and, if you lose it, 10,000 angels pleading for you will not suffice. No one felicitates the Government more than I do on the development of affairs in France. About tanks, we had an interview with the Minister of Production, the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Supply. I took the view, which I still think was correct, that this Government and the United States Government were right in concentrating most of their production on medium cruiser tanks, because it seemed to me, as the war was developing, that fast moving tanks were more important than heavy, slow moving tanks in the mobile warfare with which we should come into contact. I agreed with the Government. At the same time we understood—that is where the House must really appreciate that we have been endeavouring, not to snipe at the Government, but to try to get the right kind of weapons into the hands of our soldiers—that they would not put all their money into medium tanks but would also develop the heavy tank, because circumstances might easily occur in the European campaign where the heavy tanks with long-range fire-power would be a very important, if not a decisive, weapon. That was a long time ago. We asked that attention should be given to the prototype in this country which we should be able to produce quickly if circumstances required it which would be able to buttress the medium tanks we were producing in such large quantities. In my reading of the Normandy campaign, one of the reasons why the break through at Caen did not succeed was not only because General Montgomery had given sufficient notice by heavy aerial bombardment and artillery barrage beforehand, but because Rommel withdrew all his heavy tanks and dug them in, so that our light tanks were slaughterd by the heavy tanks of the Germans and completely outranged and our follow through was prevented, whereas if we had had heavy tanks they would have been able to meet the attack on equal terms and the Normandy campaign might have taken a different course earlier. It is no answer to tell us that the Normandy campaign is now a success. Many men have lost their lives who ought never to have died. The campaign has lasted longer than it ought to have lasted. It is my own experience that, although we are howled down by Members of the House of Commons, although we receive no attention here, we receive a great deal of attention in the Army, because they know that in our attempt all the while to provide our soldiers with effective weapons we are doing our job as we ought to do it. The right hon. Gentleman told us just now that it is not true that the Prime Minister is over-borne by his associates in America and in Russia. I do not suppose he is. A personality like his is rarely over-borne by anyone. But perhaps we ought to be told what they have decided, or have they decided nothing? The military resistance of the enemy might break down at any moment and the Government might have to make plans and decisions about what to do. Have they made those decisions? If they have, are we not to be told what they are? It is no good saying it is not militarily desirable to tell us, because it does not matter to the enemy. He is going to be knocked out anyhow. We are not going to discuss terms with him—it is to be unconditional surrender—so it does not matter whether he knows or not. If the dispositions were going to be affected by the terms there would be some reason for not telling us, but obviously we have written him off. Why then cannot we be told?
I do not know why the hon. Member says we have written him off. We are in for some tremendous fighting before the war ends.
We are at cross purposes. We have written off any opinion that the enemy may have. We are going to slaughter him militarily, but we have written him off politically and morally. In other words, it does not matter what he thinks about the terms at all. If it is militarily of no importance to him, why cannot we be told? I suspect it is because they have not agreed—the International Commission have not agreed. I know there is agreement about certain areas of occupation, but there has not been a decision. The trouble is that the Government are concealing from us at the present time their own political difficulties. The discussions which are about to take place among the experts are on a lower level, in order to provide some kind of formula for the higher level to agree about; but the higher level at the moment are bound to speculate and we can all speculate. Why cannot we guess? It is a guessing campaign.
I am all for it.
I know. We might be able to tell the right hon. Gentleman something at the present time. He does not always know. One of his complaints has been that he is often taken by surprise. I do not want to exacerbate any of the Government's domestic difficulties. Far be it from me to make a family quarrel, but we would like to know. In any case, if the Government cannot tell us, we are entitled to tell the Government, are we not? Therefore, I want to tell the House what I think about the terms. After having listened to lots of people and speeches in this House, and read lots of articles and books on this subject, it seems to me there is a general consensus of agreement about what we are going to do with the Germans. First, it seems to be agreed that we ought to prevent the Germans ever having a war machine again—never an Army, never a Navy and never an Air Force again to make war upon the world. I agree. We ought to bring about the most complete disarmament of Germany.
And of everybody else.
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to develop this point. In the next place I think it is agreed that the Germans ought never to be allowed to have a landlord class which would form a breeding ground for an officer class.
Nor in Great Britain.
It also seems to be agreed that the Germans ought never to be allowed to have industrial monopolies which would finance a new Nazi party. Farben Industrie goes. I do not know whether the I.C.I. are licking their chaps about that at the present time. All the German industrial civic arts are to be destroyed. That seems to be agreed to. We have three angles of agreement at once. It is not such a difficult problem as the Prime Minister seems to suggest—I cannot imagine Stalin disagreeing with them: Away with the landlords, away with the German war machine, away with the German industrial monopolists. The agreement is far wider than that, however. The next agreement may not include Russia, because she has her own peculiar economy. It is that we should have no reparations. It seems to be agreed, because we cannot absorb reparations. After the last war we were foolish enough to take reparations, and they resulted in unemployment in many industries in Great Britain, so I think it has been agreed between us and the United States that there should be no reparations. That makes four agreements. We are getting on very well. The fifth agreement is that we are going to slaughter all the Nazis, that is to say, all the S.S. blokes, all the gauleiters and the chaps at the top. That is five articles of agreement. That is splendid. Then there is a sixth, which is that we must never allow any large body of unemployed to grow up in Germany to be another recruiting ground for young stormtroopers.Therefore, there will be no landlords, no industrial monopolists, no military machine, no Nazis, no reparations and no unemployment. Are those the terms that we are to impose upon Germany after the war? If we succeed in imposing those terms on Germany, many people in this country will be applying for German naturalisation. It seems to me that everybody has agreed that those are the conditions for peace. I want them applied here, too. I want to get rid of our own landlords and our English monopolists. I want to get rid of the burden of maintaining a big war machine. Apparently, some fire-eaters to-day have been saying "Never again must we allow ourselves to get into the same condition of military unpreparedness," so we are going to build up a vast war machine in this country in order to surround defeated Germany with a sea of peaceful tranquillity. The Germans will have to contribute nothing towards the war machine, because they would have to export goods to pay for it, and we cannot allow that. It looks to me as though to be defeated in modern war is far better than to win. It looks as though the consequences of defeat will be more desirable than those of victory. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) has made a number of notes and seems to be becoming rather impatient. I heard to-day from hon. Members in various parts of the House that we must maintain a great war machine after the war and that one of the conditions for the maintenance of British prestige and the defence of our bargaining power at the peaċe negotiations will be a great war machine. I ventured to tell the House more than a year ago that we ought to consider this question twice. We have a nation of 50,000,000 people. Have we to depend for our position in the world on the maintenance of a great war machine in a world of nationalist rivalries? Are 50,000,000 to compete with 150,000,000 and 130,000,000? Is it seriously suggested that we are to take a part with the other two great Powers of the world on equal terms merely on the basis of striking power and fire power? Is it not obvious to every hon. Member that the maintenance of our own status, and the preservation of whatever contribution we have to make to the world, depend upon the extent to which we shall be able to organise some system of collective security and to organise around us all the other small nations, so as to try and reduce all the while the importance of armies, navies and air forces? Just to the extent that the future of the world is organised upon a basis of big armies, navies and air forces is the British nation bound to occupy an ever-receding and dwindling position. I should therefore have thought that the preservation of the world and of the things in which we believe as well as of the British form of society and the urbane relationships which we have established in this Island, depend upon our surrounding ourselves all the while with large numbers of small nations who are concerned with living and not with armies, navies and air forces. In other words, I am asking hon. Members to think twice and three times about this position in the future of the world. On the ground of logistics alone the British Empire will have a third-class position among the big lions if we allow the world to become a jungle again. It seems necessary, in order to save lives in Europe, that we should state some of the terms, but it is also necessary to have a man at that Box who is big enough to lift the eyes of humanity to a far more attractive vision than has been given us to-day. A more disappointing speech has never been made on a great occasion. The right hon. Gentleman talked about a campaign here and a campaign there; let the historical chronicler do that. He talked like a second-rate journalist about the difference between ideas and ideology, as if it were not perfectly apparent to every ordinary man and woman in these Islands that we can win the war militarily but lose it morally unless we succeed in raising before the eyes of mankind, at the moment when our Armies are going on to victory, a vision of world organisation which sets aside all this talk about big armies, navies and air forces, and tries to establish co-operative principles among the nations of the world so that we can keep our national pride and patriotism and weave them into a pattern of world organisation.
I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) in his very elevating discourse. If I may say so, I agree with a large part of what he said. I was interested and pleased to hear the Foreign Secretary's remarks, and also what other hon. Members have said in this Debate, about France and the French people. It is becoming rather a fashion to read out extracts from letters in speeches, and, if I may be allowed to do so, I will read a few sentences from a letter I have received from a friend of mine who was wounded in Normandy less than a week ago, a man in an airborne division. This is what he has to say on this subject of the French people, about which there has been a good deal of discussion in the public Press and else-where:
That is probably how the misunderstanding arose. He goes on:"The French people behaved towards us in the most friendly manner, and in my sector I never had to report a single case of fifth column activities by Frenchmen. There was plenty by Germans in civilian clothes with a great knowledge of the French language, but reports which have been circulated to the effect that the French people themselves have played the part of quislings were completely unreliable. There has never been a single case of the French sniping at us. Of course we found French women who had been living for four years with Germans, and after we came German snipers used to hide in these women's houses."
That is just one piece of first-hand evidence from one part of the Normandy front. I was particularly glad therefore to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that we were now sending the men of the Maquis all that we could in the way of arms and provisions. I hope "all that we can" means something pretty adequate and pretty ample. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will have seen the rather bitter comments on that point made in Algiers the other day by, I think, M. Grenier. I hope matters have improved quite recently, since that speech was made. I hope also that we are now sending—I have mentioned this before in the House and I do not think enough attention has been paid to it—enough or, at any rate, as much as we can of medical supplies to Tito and the Partisans in Yugoslavia. There was another illustration recently of the deplorable lack of medical supplies in that part of the world. Only a week or so ago there was a very vivid report in the newspapers of the crash of an aeroplane in Yugoslavia containing an hon. Member of this House and several other British officers, and the writer of the report, Mr. Jordan of the "News Chronicle," commented, from their own personal experience, on the acute scarcity of medical supplies. That was one of the things which General Velebit asked for most urgently when he first came here from Marshal Tito. I hope most sincerely that more attention will be paid to that. On the question of Greece, the right hon. Gentleman assured us once more that there was no question of our seeking to reimpose the monarchy on Greece after the war. I am very glad to have that assurance and I hope that it implies that there is no question of the King's being allowed to return to Greece before a plebiscite is held to determine whether the Greek people want him back or not. I remember I paid a number of visits to Greece before the war when it was under the dictatorship of General Metaxas, and I also visited Fascist Italy a number of times; and I can assure hon. Members that the dictatorship, the tyranny of Metaxas, which was supported whole-heartedly, unfortunately, by King George, was every bit as bloody and as brutal as that of Mussolini in Italy. I must say a few words about the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). I think that one ought perhaps to defend him against the comment made by an hon. Member opposite who objected to the persistence of his attack on the Government on the question of tanks. If his attack is correct at all, then he ought to make it persistently, because, although I have not been in this House very long, I have been here long enough to know that it is no use making an attack, unless you return to it again and again. You never get anywhere in this House without persistence, pertinacity and importunity. I have not sufficient technical knowledge to be able to judge between them, but it may well be that the hon. Member is right about tanks. I think quite possibly he is. I think he may even also be right about banks. But I am afraid that when it comes to foreign affairs and foreign policy, there I part company from him, and consider him a rather erratic guide, to put it mildly, to hon. Members of this House, and to members of his own party. In fact, I think that the Foreign Secretary was perfectly right in characterising his views as tending towards a negotiated peace."You could not have expected all the French people to be overwhelmed with pleasure because we were there. They had had their homes destroyed, whole villages wiped out and many civilians killed. But I must say, in all fairness, that we never had to complain about their behaviour. They gave us all-out support."
May I interrupt the hon. Member? It is an old old story. Everybody keeps on misreading the policy of the Labour Party.
The story is so old that it may not be repeated a second time to-day.
On a point of Order. My hon. Friend is going to misrepresent me, and has misrepresented me. I want to explain exactly what I mean. He has done it before.
I am very sorry, but it must be done on another occasion. I think the hon. Member ought to make his speech at the present time.
I can assure you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I am not misrepresenting the hon. Member at all. If he thinks he has never advocated a negotiated settlement, in those terms, during this war, then he has a very conveniently short memory.
On a point of Order. I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The hon. Member knows this story. He warned me he was going to do this, and I told him I was going to stay here to reply to him. I submit that you are ruling me out of Order and allowing him to be in Order.
That is exactly what the hon. Member cannot do—make a second speech on the Third Reading of a Bill.
I do not want to make a speech. I want to ask the hon. Member a question.
The hon. Member said a minute ago that he wanted to reply. Now he says he wants to ask a question. He can certainly ask one question.
I wish to ask whether my hon. Friend understands the difference between what he understands is a negotiated peace and what the Labour Party policy is, which is that a peace, to be just and lasting, must be agreed, and not dictated.
I hope I understand the Labour Party's policy on peace. I am also, unfortunately, provoked by the hon. Member's question into reminding him of the very dubious document which he signed early in the war, which was got up by a 'bogus, quisling organisation calling itself the National Council for Christian Settlement in Europe, which was organised by former members of "The Link," and most of the other signatories to which were taken off to Brixton soon after it was published.
Can I ask another question on this?
No, I really think that, in a Debate such as this, we cannot go into the full past history of every Member, one by one.
But I should like to ask——
I have already allowed one question. We cannot go into the history of the past: this Bill applies to this year.
This is a matter of personal explanation. I never signed a single document, and the hon. Member has no evidence that I did.
I have not the document here, but I have it in my files. I have the dossier of the hon. Member. I can produce it at any time, to establish what I say.
No, it is not true.
It is in print——
I am not responsible for what appears in print.
—and the hon. Member cannot deny it.
I do deny it.
However, let me attempt to appease the hon. Member—to use an appropriate and convenient word—by coming to a slightly less controversial topic, and recalling his quotation from my old friend and colleague, Nat Gubbins, whose writings we all enjoy so much. I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member was quoting him correctly—at least, I do not think he was quoting Mr. Gubbins's own views. I think he was quoting from those very interesting "party conversations" which are sometimes published, and in which a number of conflicting views are given. I mention that because a quotation from one of Mr. Gubbins's writing a few weeks ago seems to me to crystallise the whole of this problem of what we are to do with Germany and the German people. Mr. Gubbins made one of his characters say that he hoped the Russians would get to Berlin first, because they would spare the innocent and punish the guilty, whereas we would badger the innocent with questions, and ask the guilty to dinner. I think that that expresses very succinctly the view of many people in this country about how we and the Russians might be going to treat the Germans.
If we are to discuss Mr. Gubbins's articles, would I be entitled to quote Sally the Cat, or must I stick to Mr. Gubbins's own views?
Certainly not in a second speech. In any case, I think that probably the quotations have been going on long enough.
Then, to be more serious —although this quotation was not without some serious substratum—I agree with the catalogue of agreed conditions which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) recited with regard to the future treatment of Germany and the German people. To my mind, the two absolute prerequis