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BRITISH INFORMATION SZU& j
AN AGENCY OF THE BRITISH GOV' 0NhEN T
2 Aug '44
OF THE DAY
HERBERT MORRISON, Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security,
April 29, 1944.
A Sense of Plan and Purpose.
P. J. NOEL-BAKER, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Trans-
port, May 5, 1944.
Transport in Wartime.
LORD SELBORNE, Minister of Economic Warfare, May 9, 1944.
The Effectiveness of the Blockade.
LORD BEAVERBROOK, Lord Privy Seal, May 10, 1944.
The Future of Civil Aviation.
SIR JOHN ANDERSON, Chancellor of the Exchequer, May 10, 1944.
International Monetary Policy.
OLIVER LYTTELTON, Minister of Production, May 19, 1944.
The Transitional Period.
WILLIAM MABANE, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food,
May 22, 1944.
Problems of an International Food Administration.
WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister, May 24, 1944.
ANTHONY EDEN, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, May 25, 1944.
Vol. II, No. 6 June 1944
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N o0 to
RT. HON. HERBERT MORRISON
Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security
At Birkbeck College, April 29, 1944
In approaching our postwar economic problem it is essential that we do
not lose sight of the wood in our preoccupation with the trees. It is right that
we should consider questions of finance, of balance-sheets, of capital replacement,
of wages, of industrial location, the provision of credits, research, and so forth.
All these things are vital and should not be neglected. But let us never lose sight
of the fact that an even deeper problem than any of these is the problem of the
attitude of the men and women who are engaged in industry, the employers, the
managers, the technicians, the scientists, the workers at bench and lathe, the
clerks ard assistants of every kind-the problem of social morale. With what
objective are they working, what is it they are really trying to achieve? Upon
the answer to that question will turn the issue whether we shall succeed in
effecting a great national revival after the war or whether we shall lapse into
a position that is -in every sense second-rate. ...
I think we have got past the point where our people, after the experiences
they have been through, will ever again be content with limited and material
aims. Less and less is our society today content to accept the motives and ideas
that animated it at an earlier stage. Less and less does the excessive emphasis
onrthe motive of individual gain commend itself to our consciences. We may
not yet have any clear idea what we mean to put in its place-and that is our great
problem-but we do at least know that the old ideas and incentives are no longer
sufficient to move us. The personal advantage motive is not merely frowned
upon and argued against; it is less and less effective as a motive because men
pursue it with a divided mind. This affects not only the entrepreneurs but all
the men and women who work for gain in factories, stores and offices, in mines
and shipyards and docks.
We are now consciously setting out to achieve a condition of full employment.
We want to bring about as a permanent feature of our economic life the state
of affairs to which we have been accustomed in war when there are jobs for all,
and those responsible for production go hunting for workers with the same
keenness with which the unfortunate workers used once to go hunting for jobs.
Someone may say that full employment is an ideal which has never yet been
realized in our form of society except in war or in short peacetime booms. That is
so. But I hope we will not hastily draw the conclusion that what has not yet
been done cannot therefore be done. Of one thing I am sure, that if when
things have settled down after the war we prove unable to avoid substantial
unemployment on anything like the scale we saw before the war, the social and
economic strain that will be involved may even threaten the fabric of our society.
Ordinary men and women have become profoundly and utterly impatient of the
very idea of the human and material wastes involved in unemployment. They just
won't have it. My conclusion is that Government will be encouraged by the
powerful force of public sentiment to adopt every conceivable method of avoiding
mass idleness, and I do not think it too optimistic to hope that the will and
British Speeches of the Day
aspiration of our people and the ingenuity of their rulers will succeed in the task
This question of what men and women think worth while in life will assume
the most urgent and pressing practical importance if this or some later Government
succeeds in the objective it has set before itself and organizes matters in such a
way that there will be work for practically everybody who wants it practically all
the time. . .
Lessons of the War
Then we ought to do everything we can to ensure that working conditions
and welfare arrangements are worthy of our people. One of the ugly revelations
brought by the war has been the backwardness of a great many of our industries
in the provision of what should be the bare minimum of amenity and decency
for their workpeople. Under the spur of war needs and under the enlightened
direction of the Minister of Labour and the Supply Ministers a great deal of
progress has been made in such matters as the provision of factory canteens, rest
rooms, medical care, entertainments, and so on. But the gap between the worst
and the best is still far too wide, and when the wartime limitations of black-out,
shortage of materials and shortage of labor are removed, there will be the great
opportunity for a great drive to recondition our industries on the side of human
and personal welfare.
Another lesson taught by the war which we shall be wise to apply in peace
is the lesson of what can be done to help people to find the right jobs. In the
Army a study of the personal capacities and mental characteristics of recruits has
helped enormously in putting men where they can do their best work. In normal
postwar conditions there should be a great opportunity for enlightened industry or
public authority in a friendly way to help square pegs into square holes and to
avoid those misfits that can breed so much boredom, frustration and unhappiness.
There will be room, too, for a great deal of that work of explanation and
education which in our war industries goes by the name of "works relations."
Human beings, as intelligent creatures, work very much better when they know
what they are doing and why. Only the most backward, obscurantist, stupid and
ignorant of employers can suppose that it makes no difference to his men or
his girls whether or not they work with an understanding of the background, the
purpose, the social significance of their labors. Of course, if you treat human
beings as cogs in a machine, if you assume that they do not care a rap what they
do or why, so long as they get their weekly wage-packet, they will soon justify
your belief and behave as though you were right. But you will have missed the
real point about them.
By a different attitude, by the creation of a different atmosphere, by putting
enlightenment in the place of ignorance and confusion in their minds, you can
get an altogether different quality of work from them even in the case of the
most repetitive jobs. . It is all very well to tell the worker that the gadget
he is making will help to run a motor lorry. So far so good. But you will not
really succeed in enlisting his full energies unless you are able to tell him what the
motor lorry is going to run for and to convince him that it will serve the needs
and purposes of the community as a whole. . We must have a sense of plan
and purpose in our society as we have in war. What is that plan and purpose to be?
What can it be except the organized effort to increase the well-being of society
as a whole? And that plan and purpose must be held up before the eyes of
ordinary men and women as the direct object to their efforts and endeavors.
Transport in Wartime 3
As our modern industrial life has become increasingly complicated, so it has
become, for a great number of the people engaged in it, more disintegrated, more
atomized, more purposeless. We cannot expect to enlist the loyalties of the great
mass of men and women by appealing to them solely in terms of personal advantage,
or even in terms of the limited advantage of their own industry. . .
Can we expect to elicit the full enthusiasm of men and women for anything
short of a society that is both genuinely unified and genuinely free? Can we win
through if the objective that all our people are able to hold up before themselves
is anything less than the Common Good? I am not pleading for-there is no
need for-a uniform and dead-level equalitarianism in our society. There is room
for variety of many kinds. But there is great and urgent need for a genuine sense
of common purpose, a sense that is not destroyed in the minds of ordinary men
and women by any feeling that their own public spirit and readiness to serve is
being exploited for some limited or unworthy purpose.
If we can work out a form of social and economic organization that will truly
promote the objective of the Common Good, we shall have solved the fundamental
problem of incentives in economic life. We shall, I am profoundly convinced,
solve it on no other terms.
RT. HON. P. J. NOEL-BAKER
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
House of Commons, May 5, 1944
I am painfully conscious of the magnitude and the difficulty of my task. For
ope thing the Estimates of my Ministry, in its present form, have never before
been debated by this Committee of the House. The Estimates of its predecessor,
the Ministry of Transport, have not been debated since 1939. Since then the
Ministry of Transport has been amalgamated with the wartime Ministry of
Shipping and, also, since that time, these two Ministries, or their present successor,
have taken over control of the seven major industries by which the transport of
the country is carried on. The form of control varies from case to case. Ocean-going
shipping is controlled by requisitioning on a time charter basis; coast vessels by
the issue of licenses or permits for every journey which they make; docks, not
only in the nine chief ports, but in many other places, by special statutory powers;
railway companies by the Railway Agreement; inland waterways and canals by the
directorate set up in 1942; road passenger transport without formal agreement with
the public authorities or companies concerned, by the statutory powers and
influence of the Regional Transport Commissioners and by our power to control
the fuel issues which the undertakings all receive; road haulage, for short-distance
work, by fuel rationing and for long-distance work by the organization which my
noble Friend has set up and by Regulation 73B, to which the House agreed the
As I say, the form of control varies. But its purpose, and the effective power
which it confers upon my noble Friend, is, in every case, the same. In every case
he can decide what services there shall be, what changes or restrictions must be
imposed; he must decide, in consultation with his colleagues, what priorities must
be given to certain categories of passengers or goods, what traffic is nonessential
4 British Speeches of the Day
and must, therefore, be discouraged or altogether cut out. These powers are
very wide. They affect every passenger by ship, road or rail. They touch the
interests of every manufacturer and trader. They intimately concern 1,500,000
transport workers. They are vital to the conduct of the war. The Committee will
understand, therefore, that the responsibilities which my noble Friend carries
are very heavy and that his daily tasks are varied and complex in the extreme and
they understand, I hope, that my task today is by no means easy. So, I hope
that Members will grant me their indulgence, if it seems to some of them that I
have failed to mention many subjects which they think, rightly, are of great
Three Reasons for Wartime Control
There are three main reasons why my noble Friend and his predecessors were
driven to take control of the whole transport system of the country. The first is
that adequate transport is the very foundation of successful war. That has been
a military platitude since the Romans conquered Gaul and Britain because they
knew how to make roads. Today, more than ever, transport by land and sea has
become a fighting arm. Transport remains the very blood-stream of civilian
production and of the nation's social life. There is a common pool of transport
material and skilled transport personnel from which all requirements must be
met; a common pool of locomotives, rolling stock and lorries; a common pool of
passenger ships and tramps, of merchant officers and seamen, of engineers, of
drivers and mechanics; a common pool on which both the Armed Forces and the
civil authorities must draw. The imperious necessities of the Forces must be
met, but they must be met with due regard to the fact that the work of the whole
nation must go on. The whole of transport, therefore, must be planned together,
and it cannot be planned without control.
The second reason is that every individual movement of men or material must
be planned right through, from the point of departure to destination, in whatever
country or continent the destination may chance to be. To obtain the best from
our transport system we must cut out every possible delay. We must know,
therefore, in advance the cargo of every ship that comes to port; we must know
how that cargo has been loaded so that we can make the right arrangements for
its unloading and for the clearance to the proper places of the goods it brings.
When we load a vessel here, we must do it with a knowledge of the capacity or
the limitations of the ports or transport systems at the other end, the a ailability
of wagons, the strength of bridges and all the rest. For example, if we are sending
goods to Russia by way of Persia, we must so pack them that they can get through
the tunnels on the Persian railways. In every movement, the use of road, rail, docks
and ships must be planned as a single, integrated whole.
The third reason for control is the tremendous pressure on every part of the
whole transport system caused by war conditions. That pressure has been due, in
part, to our general strategical position. In many ways, Hitler's greatest single
advantage against us has been in transport. He has been working on interior lines.
These lines, until the fairly recent past, were relatively safe. The supplies of
materials that he could receive were all in Europe, near at hand. He had an
immense pool of European transport material on which to draw. We were working
on external lines-14,000 miles round the Cape to Egypt, and sending arms for
the Russian front, by the Arctic Seas to Archangel, or through the Persian Gulf.
Our lines were subject to the most dangerous attacks by surface craft, by U-boats,
by Focke-Wulfs. Even here in Britain our railways were liable, for many months,
to interruption by bombing from the air. Many of our import cargoes had to be
Transport in Wartime
diverted from their normal ports in the South and East Coasts to ports on the
North and West.
Owing to the fact that transport, material and labor formed a common pool for
military and civil work, we could not get the flow of new ships, lorries and
locomotives that were required. Shipyards had to give the highest priority to
escort vessels, and other naval craft. Boiler-makers were taken from railway
workshops to other work even more vital than their own. Motor manufacturers
were given orders for tanks, armoured cars, aircraft carriers, and a score of other
types of vehicles for the Armed Forces. The flow of new omnibuses and haulage
lorries became a trickle, and until the Government took it vigorously in hand,
even the supply of spare parts of civil vehicles was uncertain and precariously small.
Normal maintenance and repairs were impeded by the great shortage of skilled
personnel, and nowhere more seriously than on the inland waterways and canals.
The Burden and the Achievement
While this was happening, the volume of the traffic grew and grew. The
capacity of the ships was much reduced by the fact that they had to go in convoy.
Convoy means an immense reduction of effective sailing time. To outwit the
U-boats they had to follow circuitous and lengthy routes. Their actual deliveries
were reduced by the serious losses they sustained. Yet every month they had to
carry an immense and increasing burden. More and more troops and equipment
were sent to distant fronts. To Egypt was added Eastern India and then the South
Pacific. When great armies had been built up, they had to be supplied. An
immense American Army for invasion and an immense American Air Force had
to be brought across the Atlantic. Increasing quantities of raw material for
war production had to be supplied. I cannot, for obvious reasons, give detailed
figures. We must remember the splendid part which the new American Merchant
Navy have played in sharing the burden. With the Allied merchant navies, which
we control, Norwegian, Greek, Dutch, French, Belgian, and others, to whom
we owe so much, we carried a colossal total in 1943. The Prime Minister said,
fourteen months ago, that up to then, we had transported 3,000,000 troops overseas.
Last year we made a formidable addition to the total, and, with the troops went a
vast quantity of tanks, aircraft and other equipment very difficult to load and
In spite of our losses, particularly in the earlier months of the year, and the
fact that our import program was, or course, heavily reduced, all ordinary
requirements for industry and for the nation were not only brought to these
shores last year, but we reached our target with a margin to spare. The pressure
on the railways, and indeed on other forms of inland transport, has been no less.
There have been more passengers on the railways-not only troops for overseas
but troops on leave. Journeys over 200 miles, of troops and their dependents,
constituted 80 per cent of the passengers who traveled. There have been more
workers traveling regularly in two directions every day. There have been workers
traveling, transferred to places other than their homes, with privilege concession
travel at stated intervals. There have been evacuated persons, schools and institutions
which have been displaced, and many more. Taking 1943 as a whole, the number
of passenger journeys, excluding season tickets, was up by 20 per cent as compared
with the period before the war. The average distance of every journey had
increased by more than one half, so that the total passenger miles were up by
60 per cent and the pressure has gone on steadily increasing. Passengers in 1943
were more by the stupendous figure of 106,000,000 than they had been the year
before. Freight traffic increased by even more. Light merchandise, which needs
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most handling and takes most space in the wagons, has increased by 86 per cent
as compared with 1938. Heavy merchandise and minerals have increased by 68
per cent. Even coal traffic has increased by 13 per cent, compared with the figures
before the war. Not only so, but the average haul was longer. By the end of 1943
the railways were carrying 1,000,000 ton-miles more freight traffic every hour of
every day than they had been before the war.
The Inland Waterways
Nor is that the end of the story. There are 7,000 extra trains for workers every
week-1,000 a day-and, in addition, in a single recent week, there were 2,400
other special trains and passengers and freight carried on Government account.
Anyone who knows the difficulties of arranging a special train and making a path
available and all the other detailed complications, will realize the burden that
these special trains impose. The increased burden is no less on the omnibuses.
In Derby, the vehicles which, on the average, are more than twelve years old, the
corporation transport undertaking is carrying close on 50 per cent more passengers
than before the war. That figure is quite common. Sometimes it is 60, 70 and
80 per cent more, indeed, in some places two persons are traveling by bus where
only one traveled before the war. Even on the canals and inland waterways,
where, before the war, the traffic was dwindling for many years, there are
now more cargoes than can be moved. Many boats and barges are laid up because
we cannot repair them. Many of the skilled crews drifted in the early stages of
the war into the Forces and other trades. We have not had the labor to do all
the dredging or the other maintenance that we wanted to do. In recent months
there has been a very serious water shortage. I am told that a difference of one
inch in the level of the water, means a difference of a ton in the load that you
can put on it. In spite of all those difficulties, the inland waterways are carrying
almost as big a tonnage as before the war-that is, about 1,000,000 a month-
and if the statistics enabled us to calculate it in ton-miles, the fact of longer cargo
journeys would show that the real work has had a big increase ....
This extra burden must be carried, in some cases, on canals, with less transport
material and nearly always with less renewals of materials and with less reserves.
I have mentioned the restriction of the flow of new vehicles on the roads. It must
be carried either with a smaller labor force, as on the roads and canals, or, in
other cases, with labor forces whose trained skill has been diluted in a high degree.
The railways have not only sent locomotives overseas, but 110,000 men into the
Armed Forces. These have been replaced by women, who have done magnificently
well. I cannot pay too high a tribute to the spirit, adaptability and endurance that
they have shown. Even with dilution, my Ministry has found like other Departments
of State, at almost every point and in almost every section of our work, that
labor shortage has been a very serious factor in impeding what we want to do.
This extra burden must be carried in spite of the difficulties which war conditions
Hon. Members have often read how hard it is to sail a ship in convoy,
without lights, through a North Atlantic storm. Perhaps 'they have not thought
what work is like in a railway marshaling yard, in the blackout, on a stormy winter
night. Perhaps they do not realize what it means regularly, week after week,
to drive a bus or lorry, with dimmed headlights, through the darkness for many
hours a day. It is not only the extra strain which war conditions cast on the
personnel; it is the reduced capacity which inevitably results. In the blackout,
buses must run to a slower schedule. The average rate of freight trains is only
seven and one-quarter miles an hour, as compared with the magnificent speed of
nine before the war.
Transport in Wartime
The Power to Plan
That is a rough outline of the problem with which my Noble Friend is
faced-the increased traffic that must be moved, the lessened means with which
to move it and the special wartime difficulties which must be overcome. It is
surely plain that he can never face it without control of the whole transport
system. It is plain that he must have power to discourage nonessential traffic, or
to eliminate it altogether, if that is desirable and possible. It is plain that he must
have the power to decide priorities, to see that his decisions are effective, and
that urgent traffic really does get through. He must have the power to plan from
first to last, and make certain that his plan is carried out, and that the transport
system is linked together and is really co-ordinated in that special sense. He must
have the power to ensure that the rates and charges and the cost of transport shall
not divert the traffic from that means of transport which in the public interest it
is best to use; that the transport system shall be considered as a whole, that it
shall be co-ordinated in that sense and that traffic shall be allocated to that means
of transport which, for the service of the nation, can move it best. In the
operation of that control, my noble Friend is bound to interfere with the normal
traffic and even to cause hardship or inconvenience to importers and exporters, to
traders and manufacturers and to the traveling public as a whole. He cannot help
it. He is responsible to the Government and to Parliament for the proper use
of transport, and it is for Parliament to ensure that the restrictions he imposes are
justified by the result which he obtains.
Reduction of Nonessential Traffic
It is plain that his first purpose, with an increased burden and restricted means,
must be to cut out unnecessary movement, whether of passengers or goods.
Everybody knows the drastic restrictions on ocean travel and nobody doubts that
they are required. Nobody has yet suggested how we can ration passenger traffic
by train or bus. But we have discouraged nonessential traffic in many ways. In
spite of great increases in 'the traffic, we have cut passenger train mileage by 30
per cent. That means that train loadings are up by 120 per cent since before the
war, with the discomfort and the discouragement to needless travel which that
entails. We have abolished cheap fares, and other special concessions, which
were intended to induce people to travel who could really have stayed at home.
We have had propaganda and advertisement campaigns, in which the companies
greatly helped, to try to make the public understand the basic transport facts.
We have cut road passenger services just as much as rail and, with the extra
spur of the fuel and rubber shortages, we have not only reduced the normal
services but we have cut out half the bus stops, all the long-distance coaches, and
such shorter services as the Green Line coaches in the London area. We have
made the buses park in the center of the city at "off-peak" times. We have
stopped late evening services and services on Sunday mornings. We have withdrawn
unlimited travel tickets on the buses and some specially attractive fares. All in
all, we have cut road vehicle mileage to something like two-thirds of what it was
before the war. We have been encouraged to take these measures because we
found that they have not only given real savings in fuel and power, but they
have definitely stopped a lot of nonessential travel. A special inquiry was made
into the elimination of the Green Line coaches. We not only saved 11,500,000
vehicle miles a year, but we found that half the passengers who used to use those
services have given up altogether making the journeys they used to make.
With goods traffic we could take bolder measures. We could not only request,
we could instruct and we could compel. In co-operation with the Ministry of
British Speeches of the Day
Food and the Board of Trade, for whose generous help we are extremely grateful,
we have had many schemes to cut out long hauls of goods, to prevent cross-hauls
of similar commodities, and to rationalize the distribution of essential food
supplies and other things. It has been calculated that the scheme for "zoning"
the railway hauls of certain commodities have given a tremendous result. There
used to be very lively criticism of the zoning scheme for fish. I do not think the
critics knew that the saving in fish train mileage was no less than 35 per cent.
Altogether, in the zoning of beer, chocolates, biscuits and many other things,
the stupendous total of 276,000,000 ton-miles per annum have been saved.
We have also dealt with retail distribution. We have had thousands of
schemes throughout the country to control and rationalize the retail delivery of
groceries, bread, milk and other things. We have only had two substantial
complaints about these schemes, and I hope that they are both settled by now.
The schemes saved us 25,000,000 gallons of motor fuel a year, a saving of 36
per cent far beyond the target we had set ourselves; they saved us 34,000 vehicles
and they saved us manpower on a very considerable scale. These measures to
eliminate the needless transport of persons and things, and to reduce the services
we run, have made a great contribution towards the solving of the problem with
which my noble Friend was faced. They have been supplemented by other measures,
such as the heavier loading of railway wagons, the staggering of working hours,
a very important matter, and a big drive for quicker turn-round. A saving of nine
hours on the average journey of a railway wagon means an additional capacity of
55,000 wagon loads, without the extra congestion which 55,000 more wagons
on the line would mean. We got a saving of nine hours last winter.
The Problem of Manpower
We have had a big drive to accelerate repairs both of railway rolling stock
and vehicles on the roads. Eighty-five per cent of all the work in the railway
workshops today is on repairs. I venture the assertion that the Vehicle Maintenance
Department of the Ministry, which works in close co-operation with the Ministry
of Supply, has done a splendid piece of work for the nation by bringing back
many thousands of essential vehicles to the roads. I have already said that, like
other Ministries, we have been hampered by the shortage of our labor force.
My noble Friend has taken a great variety of measures to make the best use of the
forces he can command. Everyone knows about the decasualization of the officers
and men of the Merchant Navy through the Reserve Pool, which is run by the
industry, the Shipping Federation and the trade unions, with our grateful assistance
and support. Everyone knows about the decasualization of the dockers by my
Minister's schemes on the Mersey and the Clyde, and by the National Dock
Labour Corporation in the other ports. Without these schemes, in which the
Ministry of Labour have greatly helped us, we should have had the greatest
difficulty in keeping our ships at sea, and the docks would have been much less
efficient than, in fact, they are.
On the railways great economies of manpower, particularly in the bookkeeping
and clerical grades, have resulted from the fact of Government control. In the
railway rate book there are tens of millions of different headings, but for Govern-
ment traffic we have a series of flat rates per ton for different Ministries, whatever
the distance and whatever the categories of the goods. The Committee will ap-
preciate the saving when I say that Government traffic is a vast proportion of the
freight the railways carry. We have a simplified system for dealing with claims
for damage to goods in transport, and a simplified system for demurrage. We
rely on other methods to speed the turn-round. I believe that before we had this
Transport in Wartime
system one Army depot used to send up its demurrage accounts by the sack full.
We have washed out booking tickets for members of the Forces. Their railway
warrant serves as their ticket instead. There is no clearing of working expenses
between the railway companies. Expenses and receipts go into a common pool.
Hon. Members will understand that these are not trifling items, and that together
they do much to lighten the burden which the railways have to carry ....
Many of the same economies are obtained by the Road Haulage Organization
in Government and other long distance haulage traffic ivith which it deals. The
Minister also gets economies in the use of transport, the better use of transport,
from the close co-operation of the different railway companies which now exist.
The companies themselves had done something in that direction before the war,
but they would be the first to say that it has gone very much further now. They
now really work together as a single team. Passenger stock is a common pool.
Their freight wagons, together with the 600,000 private wagons which we re-
quisitioned, are also a combined pool managed by a Central Wagon Control, with
its own headquarters, which acts for the railways as a whole. Sheets and ropes
for goods wagons have been pooled, a very important point in speeding the turn-
round. The traffic managers of the companies have a joint conference by special
telephone every day. The companies manufacture and repair locomotives for each
other. They lend each other locomotives, they work their locomotives on each
others' lines, they lend each other skilled staff. Above all, they have cut out com-
petitive routes, so that all traffic now goes by the most speedy route, irrespective
of the company to which it belongs ....
The Machinery for Planning
Besides these measures, my noble Friend must himself plan the traffic programs
and allocate the different flows of traffic to that means of transport which will give
the best return. There must be machinery to decide when and how essential
cargoes shall be loaded overseas, how incoming cargoes shall be disposed of, and
how traffic shall be distributed here between railway, road and canal. That
machinery has been created. The loading of every ship that .comes here or that
leaves these shores is planned and settled by the officials of the Ministry, who deal
with tonnage allocation, with sea transport for the Forces, with liners and with
tramps, and by our many distinguished representatives and missions overseas. The
planners must aim at insuring that deadweightt" and "measurement" cargoes shall
be, as far as possible, balanced. When loading for operations, they must plan not
only what each ship must carry, but the order in which items shall be unloaded on
the beaches at the other end. Incoming vessels are allocated to the different ports
by our Ministry Diversion Room, where every day, in the light of the latest in-
formation about empty berths, available railway wagons and road haulage capacity,
the Committee decides what cargoes each ship is sent, and the port which can best
discharge it and best handle the cargoes which it brings.
Internal traffic is no less carefully planned. There meets at intervals the Central
Transport Committee, on which each Department that uses transport is represented.
That committee plans six months ahead; it makes allocations between roads and
railways and canals; it deals with suggestions by ad hoc subcommittees. The allo-
cation of coal traffic between road transport and rail is a case in point; others are
the seasonal traffics in home-grown timber, sugar beet and seed potatoes. We have
similar committees in the regions. Twelve committees meet, under the regional
transport commissioners, with representatives of rail, road and water transport, to
decide how traffic shall be carried and what means of transport can best be used.
In many of our seventy-eight districts the district transport officers have much the
British Speeches of the Day
same machinery at their command. So, at every level there is real and effective
co-ordination of the transport system as a whole.
The Workers Shoulder Their Burden
If my account of my Department's work has been intelligible, the Committee
will understand that our task is to plan, to decide and to direct. In that task the
Ministry have had invaluable assistance from members of the industry, shipping
people, road hauliers, and others, who have come in to help, and who have worked
under the leadership of my noble Friend. They have done a splendid job. But
the operation of the transport system is done by the different undertakings and
companies themselves. They act as our agents, at our direction, but they-the
managements and the workers-do the actual daily work. I cannot praise enough
the spirit which they have shown. The management have displayed an energy
and a devotion which proves the patriotism by which they are inspired. Fqr six-
teen hours a day on end there is heavy pressure. The workers have done their
very best. Parliament has often expressed its admiration for the Merchant Navy:
I will add only this. The Merchant Navy are civilians. In the last war they lost
12,000 men; in this war they have already lost more than twice that number; yet
we have always more recruits than we can train for the job. Now, almost without
exception, officers and seamen have volunteered to face the very dangerous hazards
of the Second Front.
Seeing the discharging records of the dockers, one would never guess that in
Liverpool, for example, the average age of the dockers is 52. When I was last
there, I saw men loading frozen meat into a van. They were lifting frozen
carcasses, weighing 40 lbs., to a height of seven or eight feet. I asked one what
his age was. He said that he was 78, and that his mate was 69. It often happens
that a bus conductress must deal in a single shift with 1,000 or even 1,400 fares.
That means that, apart from starting and stopping the bus, she must give a ticket
and the correct change every twenty seconds of her eight hours on duty. I niust
not fail to mention the leadership which the workers have had from the trade
unions. The spokesmen of the trade unions are sitting on advisory committees.
We are in daily contact with them, on every problem that arises, and they have
always helped us in every way within their power. I must say something about
the forbearance and the help of the traders and the general public. No one knows
more than I do what they have had to bear: no one appreciates as much as I do the
cheerful spirit which they have shown. We must make further calls upon their
endurance in the coming year. With the growing volume of traffic, the limited
resources at our command, and the diversions and dislocations, which the Second
Front must mean, it is not too much to say that inland transport may be the
bottleneck of our efforts. The managements, the workers and the public can help
us by giving a quicker turn-round of everything that moves, by refraining from
journeys which they would like to undertake, and by helping the transport per-
sonnel in every way within their power. Every sacrifice and every effort they
make will be of immediate assistance to the troops who man the ships, the aero-
planes, and the guns.
Transport After the War
I believe that the work of my Ministry for five long years has built up an
instrument which will stand the strain of the coming operations. I believe that
the instrument will make its contribution to the victory that lies ahead. I believe
that we have learned many lessons that will be of value when the war is over.
I must not abuse the patience of the Committee any longer, but I could speak
The Effectiveness of the Blockade
about the work we have done to prepare for transport reconstruction in the future.
. .. Now I will only mention our road program, our Committee on Road Safety,
our work on electrification of the railways, our studies of the future of the canals,
our studies of general transport co-ordination-which is of supreme importance-
our preparatory work to make the Merchant Navy a great and honorable career,
and our work in the Middle East Supply Center, which may lead to valuable inter-
national co-operation. I want to quote one sentence from a recent statement by my
noble Friend. He said:
"For the first time, we have evidence of the benefits of a fully co-ordinated
transport system, and I do not think that the industry would ever want to go back
to the conditions prevailing before the war."
in the war, for the first time, we have had real transport co-ordination. We
have seen what it can do. Without it, our progress to victory would have been
gravely hampered. Transport, in time of peace, is no less necessary than in time
of war. Its efficiency on land, in the ports and estuaries, along the coasts, and on
the sea, is a vital factor in the kind of life our people will be able to afford. I hope
we shall face the future with firm determination to learn and to apply all the
lessons which our, war experience can teach.
[House of Commons Debates)
THE EARL OF SELBORNE,
Minister of Economic Warfare
House of Lords, May 9, 1944
I hope that the public realize how much more difficult a task the Navy have
had in this war than they had in the last. It has been much more difficult because
in the first place the Navy was much smaller; secondly, Italy and Japan were
always hostile, and later enemies; thirdly, in 1940 we lost the French Fleet, and
lastly there was no European bottleneck. In the last war the Dover Patrol func-
tioned at one end of the North Sea and the Tenth Cruiser Squadron at the other,
the Mediterranean was blocked at both ends, and that completely blocked the
entrance to all the ports to which Germany had access; but in this war, after 1940,
the whole Atlantic seaboard lay clear, and therefore the fact that the blockade
has been maintained to the extent that it has been maintained is, I think, a very
remarkable performance on the part of the Royal Navy.
There is one other point about the blockade which I should like to make, and
that is that the methods of the blockade have, of course, had to be altered from
what they were in the last war. In Nelson's day the blockade was enforced on the
high seas. My noble relative, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, when he was Minister of
Blockade, introduced the navicert system, which revolutionized the application
of the blockade, and in this war that has been developed still more to what we
call control at source. Our weapons were' the bunkering facilities on which all'
ships that sail the seas depend, from the coaling stations, which are nearly all
British controlled throughout the world, or where British companies operate, and
also the facilities of insurance. Unless a ship conforms to the requirements of the
Ministry of Economic Warfare it can get neither insurance nor bunkering. That
has been effected by means of what we call ship navicerts and ship warrants. None
of that would have been effective, however, if the British Navy had not been in
the background. To that extent the machinery of the blockade has been very much
developed in the new conditions, compared with what it was when the noble
Viscount was Minister of Blockade.
British Speeches of the Day
A Vast Combined Operation
The methods of the Navy have also changed, of course. The close patrols of
the last war have given place to long-range interception, and in that the Fleet Air
Arm and Coastal Command have been playing a very big part. The other weapons
with which we have enforced the blockade are the Black List, of which the noble
Lord, Lord Nathan, spoke, and rationing the neutrals. That is again a device that
we took over from the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil. It was he who first introduced
the rationing of neutrals, and that was adopted from a much earlier date in this
war than it was in the last war. By these means Germany has been prevented from
using her Atlantic seaboard to import food and raw materials. When Japan entered
the war at the end of 1941 our enemies tried to break the blockade, and it was
very important for them to do so, because it so happened that their economies
were complementary: Japan had the tungsten, the rubber, and the oil that'Germany
so much needed; Germany had precision tools, blueprints, ball-bearings and the
like, all of which Japan required very much. And therefore they started a system
of fast blockade runners, that ran from the East to West and from West to East
without showing lights or using their wireless or calling at any port. For a time
they had a limited success, but before long the Royal Navy, the Navies of our
Allies and the Air Forces were able to get on the job, and we have altogether sunk
some fifteen blockade runners, four outward and eleven inward. Now that traffic,
except for a few submarines, which can carry very little, has practically ceased.
The cargoes that were destroyed included 45,000 tons of rubber, 1,500 tons of
tungsten, 17,000 tons of tin, 25,000 tons of vegetable oils, and Far Eastern drugs
of great importance, such as quinine. But it was not the cargoes that were sunk
that were most important, it was the cargoes that never sailed on account of the
way that we were able to demonstrate that the blockade could be enforced.
Thus the Royal Navy imposed deficiency on Germany from outside, and at the
same time-and again this is where the blockade is very different from what it
was in the last war-the Royal Air Force and the American Air Force have created
deficiency inside Axis Europe. The work of the Air Forces is a most powerful
addition to the work of the Navies. The Navies stop the import of rubber from
Malaya, the Air Forces destroy the synthetic rubber factories in Germany. That
was why in the last war it was called the Ministry of Blockade and this time it is
called the Ministry of Economic Warfare, because we are really co-ordinating a
vast combined operation against the enemy's fighting power by various methods
outside and inside his frontiers, in his coastal waters by bombing and mining, and
in men's minds by propaganda-and I should like to add that the peoples of
occupied Europe have joined in this in their resistance movements in actions which
have had such important economic results in what is called sabotage. In all this
we have worked in the closest co-operation with our American colleagues, both at
home and abroad. All our economic information is pooled with our American
Uncovering Cloaked Transactions
Your Lordships will realize, as the noble Lords, Lord Nathan and Lord Rennell,
have pointed out this afternoon, that this co-ordinated attack on the resources of
the Axis could not be carried on without a very well manned Intelligence Depart-
ment. This organization assesses the economic factors in Germany's military capa-
bilities and her intentions, and these are embodied in inter-Service appreciations,
through the medium of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Chiefs of Staff,
upon which my Department is represented. This is the organization by which
the vulnerable parts in Germany's economy are discovered, neutral firms trading
with the enemy are detected, enemy efforts to build up foreign exchange balances
The Effectiveness of the Blockade
are prevented, and smugglers of diamonds, platinum, etc., are frustrated. The
noble Lord, Lord Nathan, spoke truly when he said that the importance of these
small materials is very great in this war; things like platinum and diamonds have
a most vital importance. Modern industry depends on an adequate supply of
industrial diamonds. And I need hardly say that the smaller the object, the more
difficult it is to enforce the blockade in respect of it. Therefore the blockade is
enforced not only by the Allied Navies and Air Forces but by every means at
If I might give an example of the efficacy of our methods, I could quote the
case of the Spanish and Portuguese Merchant Navies plying to and from their
own harbors all over the world. You would think that Germany, through what
we call "cloaked transactions"-transactions which are different from what they
purport to be-could have imported a tremendous amount of materials by those
routes. And yet we know that if you take the whole period of the war not more
than 11/2 per cent of that tonnage has operated on enemy account, and at the
present moment less than half of 1 per cent is operating on enemy account, and
that is on the short voyage across the Bay of Biscay.
The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, asked some questions about the Black List,
First, he asked me if it had been applied without fear or favor. I can give him
that assurance without hesitation. No matter how big or how powerful any firm
may be, if its activities are calculated to be prejudicial to the Allied cause we
should not hesitate, in conjunction with our Allies, to act. He also asked me what
the relations were between the Statutory List, as we call it in Great Britain, and
the Proclaimed List in America. For all practical purposes those two lists are identi-
cal, and steps are taken and machinery exists by which they are kept identical.
The Black List is a most potent weapon. It means the destruction of a firm's whole
foreign trade and frequently in a firm going into bankruptcy. The firm is from
that moment onward boycotted by the world of commerce. I should like to make
it clear that the end of the war may not necessarily mean the end of the Black
List. Our memories are proverbially short, but they are not quite so short as all
that, and we shall not readily forget what neutral firms did during this war.
Another method by which the blockade is enforced is, as the noble Lord said,
what we call pre-emption. That again was practised by my noble relative, Lord
Cecil of Chelwood, in the last war-buying in neutral markets accessible to Ger-
many commodities which would be of use to the enemy. By this means, for in-
stance, we greatly reduced the dispatch to Germany of wolfram from the Iberian
Peninsula, chrome from Turkey, and ball-bearings from Sweden. In that connec-
tion I should like to join with my noble friend Lord Nathan in the tribute he
paid to the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation for the very valuable work
they have done in that respect.
Finally, of course, it is by diplomacy that we have also endeavored to enforce
the blockade. We have made agreements with neutral countries. These neutral
countries require certain things from us, and we require certain things from them.
Therefore there is the opportunity and the means by which we can make a fair
agreement. One of the things we require from them is that they shall not send
commodities of military importance to the enemy. As the fortunes of war swung
decisively in our favor and the danger to European neutrals of German invasion
vanished, we have been able to make increasingly satisfactory agreements with
European neutrals. I spoke last week of our recent agreement with Spain, and I
should like to stress one point. I was sorry to see that in some quarters that agree-
ment was hailed as a victory over Spain. It was nothing of the sort. It was a
compromise mutually satisfactory to Spain and to the Allies; but it was a victory
British Speeches of the Day
Nazis Prepared Anti-Blockade Defenses
The Noble Lord, Lord Nathan, asked some questions about the efficiency of
the blockade, and in answering them I want to be careful not to overstate the
facts. We must remember that after the last war the Germans publicly ascribed
their defeat to the blockade. If I may say so, I think that they exaggerated partly
in order to pretend that their Army was invincible; but they did publicly ascribe it
to the blockade, and undoubtedly the blockade played a very important part in
bringing about their defeat. That having been their theme and their experience,
the Nazis laid in vast quantities of all the materials of which they anticipated
shortage during the next war in the years immediately preceding 1939. More
than that, long before the Nazis got into power-almost before the ink of the
Treaty of Versailles was dry-the Germans started creating those great synthetic
industries such as synthetic rubber, synthetic oil, cellulose textiles, and the like,
which would make them to a much greater extent independent of outside supplies
when the next war came. Besides that, the Nazis organized their .agriculture so
that far more food should be produced in Germany in this war, and they devised
a system of rationing more complete, more scientific, and more efficient than they
had in 1918. Therefore they started this war very much better qualified to with-
stand the blockade. Then in 1940 they conquered the greater part of Europe and
with it, of course, immense supplies of all the raw materials which are useful
to war. They then proceeded to organize all the territory they had conquered in
such a way as to make it work for the Nazi machine. Nevertheless, these tremend-
ous resources were not inexhaustible if they were not replenished from outside.
The effect of the blockade, which may have been slight at first, has been cumu-
lative, and in my opinion is now undoubtedly very great. I am not going to sug-
gest that Germany will collapse because she is running short of this or that com-
modity. The picture should be painted with a broader brush. This is how I see
it. Germany's stocks, once so plentiful, are seriously depleted. Submarine blockade-
runners can do little to replenish them. Neutrals are increasingly aloof. Air raids
create fresh problems which every day are harder to solve. Surpluses have become
deficiencies, of which the most serious is probably manpower. To those responsible
for German production the prospect at this crucial moment must indeed seem
somber. This result is mainly due to three things-first, the vast expenditure of
supplies and reserves and the German losses in Russia; second, the Allied victories
in Africa; and third, the Allied command of the sea and the air. The part that
my Department has played I have tried to explain. We are the "boys in the back-
room" in this matter.
Germany has for a long time been short of many things essential to modern
warfare-oil, rubber, textiles, ferro-alloys. The noble Lord said that Germany had
enough oil for military operations. It all depends what military operations he
means. In my opinion there is no doubt that German military operations have been
for some time past severely hampered by shortage of oil. Their greatest shortage,
however, is in men. The effect of the blockade can be seen clearly in terms of
manpower. For instance, Germany has nearly a million more men and women
employed in agriculture that she had in the last war. If it were not for the blockade
all these men and women would either be making munitions or else using them.
Again, German civilian motor traffic has practically entirely gone over to producer-
gas. Our Ministry of War Transport has quite rightly refused to allow producer-gas
to proceed in this country beyond what may be described as a thorough experimental
stage because it is grossly wasteful in manpower; but Germany has been forced
on to it because her oil has been cut off. We in this country, on the other hand, are
importing literally scores of millions of tons of goods every year. All the ersatz
industries are very wasteful of manpower and this, combined with her colossal
losses in the field, has- produced Germany's acute manpower crisis which she has
The Effectiveness of the Blockade
tried to solve with European slaves, of which some seven millions are working
in Germany itself. Now we have got to the point where Germany is even enlisting
unwilling foreigners into her Armed Forces. That is surely very significant. The
time has now come when Germany cannot maintain simultaneously the numerical
strength both of her Armed Forces and her civilian labor force, while the quality
of both has steadily declined. Germans up to the age of sixty are called up for
military service, and for fresh recruits the enemy now relies on classes under
eighteen or over forty-seven.
I give one other angle from which I think it is fair to look at the picture.
When Hitler attacked Russia in 1941 he hoped to conquer the Ukraine, the Donets
Basin, the Kuban and the Caucasus, and I think the measure of his defeat and the
precariousness of his economic situation can be seen in that single fact. He may
well have calculated that the vast mineral and agricultural resources he would get
from those territories would repay the tremendous losses of the campaign.
As it is, he has had the losses of the campaign and none of the gains of
conquest. Any one who supposes that the sea blockade in this war was ineffective
or of minor importance must have found it difficult to explain the events in
the Bay of Biscay at the end of last December when the Germans risked
a large force of destroyers, of which they lost three, in order to bring in a
single blockade-runner. In our opinion the difficulties of Hitler's Generals are
being increased every day by the growing scarcity of commodities. Therefore
any neutral who now sends Germany vital war materials is simply prolonging
the war and we shall certainly do our best to prevent that happening.
M.E.W. to End with European War
The noble Lords, Lord Nathan and Lord Rennell, both asked me about the
future, arid Lord Nathan suggested that the Ministry of Economic Warfare
should continue into the post-war period. As I have pointed out, there are two
parts of the Ministry of Economic Warfare. There is the administration of the
blockade on the one hand and on the other hand the intelligence system that has
been built up to advise me about the blockade and to advise the Services in regard
to their operations. I would, however, like to make it clear that when we tender
advice to the Services about military operations all that my Ministry can do is to
indicate the relative importance of certain targets; how, and when, and whether
those targets should be attacked must of course depend on the decision of the
Commander-in-Chief. But obtaining the information on which to advise the
Services and on which to advise the Minister of Blockade involves a great organi-
zation and the compilation of most detailed information about the whole of Axis
Europe. If I may say so, I think'what Lord Rennell said in that respect was very
true, but I see no reason why the Ministry of Economic Warfare, as such, should
continue long after the Armistice with Germany.
I am not in favor of the prolongation of wartime Departments beyond their
period of usefulness, and if I am Minister of Economic Warfare at that time
it will be my ambition that my Department should be the first wartime Department
to close its doors. I think not only the liberties of His Majesty's subjects but
also the prosperity of the country will be sustained in inverse ratio to the number
of Government Departments and Government officials who survive this war. But
that does not mean that economic warfare against Japan would not continue, nor
does it mean that the Black List, as I have already said, would necessarily come
to an end. All it does mean is that it would no longer be necessary to have a
separate Ministry for the purpose. I might explain to your Lordships that in
the matter of enforcing the blockade we are working, as I have said, very closely
with our opposite numbers in Washington and it is a natural division of labor
that, whereas our American Allies are the greatest authorities on the economic
16 British Speeches of the Day
situation in the Far East, we perhaps are in more intimate touch with the economic
situation in Europe, and therefore, for the purpose of enforcing the blockade
in the Far East, Washington requires little assistance from my Department.
For these reasons I do not think that the continuance of a separate Ministry of
Economic Warfare would be justified for long after the Armistice with Germany,
and the remaining administrative functions of the Ministry of Economic Warfare
could very well be administered by the Foreign Office or one or two other
Economic Intelligence to Go to Foreign Office
But the intelligence side of the Ministry of Economic Warfare which, by the
way, is known by the name "Enemy Branch," is in my view in a different
category altogether, and I very much share the views expressed by the noble
Lord, Lord Rennell, in that matter. Quite apart from the manifold uses of
economic intelligence for fighting the war, economic intelligence is of vital
importance for the planning of many operations which will follow the defeat
of Germany. In the first place, there is intelligence for the Far Eastern war,
economic disarmament and economic control of Germany, reparations, the economic
effects of frontier rectification, the rehabilitation of occupied territories, the devel-
opment of economic sources of supply to allow Europe to recuperate. These are
matters on which the Foreign Secretary and Foreign Ministers will need expert
advice in the months immediately succeeding the Armistice.
I am glad to be able to announce therefore that the Foreign Secretary has.
decided to create an Economic Intelligence branch of the Foreign Office, and it
is clear-and I am glad to know that both noble Lords who have spoken this
afternoon will agree with this-that he could have no better servants for this
purpose than the very efficient and experienced staff which has hitherto been
working in my Department. The Foreign Office, however, already has to consider
these problems and others requiring economic intelligence. Therefore there is an
overlap, as it were, between the peacetime requirements of the Foreign Office and
the wartime work of the Enemy Branch of my Department. For this reason the
Foreign Secretary and I have recently agreed to transfer the control to the
Foreign Office of all that part of my Department which is concerned with
intelligence in enemy worlds. This does not mean that I have transferred to him
my functions. The transferred staff will continue to be responsible to me for
everything within the scope of my responsibilities and will continue to do for
other Departments, particularly the Service Departments, work they had been
doing in the past. In addition, however, they will be responsible to the Foreign
Secretary for everything outside that work, and in consequence will be, I hope,
of much use to him in dealing with the increasing number of problems relating
to the period after the German collapse in which an appreciation of economic
development and policy is essential.
For the time being, therefore, Enemy Branch is serving both the Foreign
Secretary and myself, and its official name is now Enemy Branch, Foreign Office
and Ministry of Economic Warfare. There is really less change in that than might
appear at first sight, because throughout the war this section of my Department has
been advising not only me as Minister of Economic Warfare, but also, as I have
said, the Service Departments and the Foreign Office and other Departments.
It merely means that their work as the war draw to its end, will more and more
.be concerned with peacetime problems and problems of transition, and less and
less with purely wartime problems. I am sure that your Lordships will rejoice with
me in the decision of the Foreign Secretary that henceforth the Foreign Office
is to be adequately equipped in regard to economic intelligence, which must play
an increasingly important part not only in foreign policy but in all politics. I
The Future of Civil Aviation
personally am very proud that it is a section of my Department that has been
selected for that function-or rather let me put it in this way, I am very proud"
to have worked with such men during the war.
(House of Lords Debates]
Lord Privy Seal
House of Lords, May 10, 1944
The Conference with the United States of America was most satisfactory
and the Americans are pleased with it, too. I will undertake to deal with that
Conference in some detail and with the issues raised by my noble Friend. There
are a number of questions on the Order Paper directed to the Government by
my noble Friend, and these I will attempt to answer also.
In the meantime, one or two additional questions have been raised. I am asked
who will represent the United Kingdom at the International Conference.. That is
a decision that has not been taken because the date of the International Conference
has not yet been fixed. Are we in agreement with the Dominions? Always in
all these matters we have agreement with the Dominions. We sometimes have
to make some effort to find a common purpose but we invariably find it.
I am asked the function of the Royal Air Force Transport Command and
the noble Lord raised some questions respecting the Transport Command, too.
The Transport Command is intended to serve the military machine. It is not for
civil purposes at all, and any operations which may be carried on by the Trans-
port Command in the form of civil services are necessarily subservient to military
purposes. It is as reasonable to criticize the Transport Command in relation to
civil services as it would be to criticize Carter Paterson and Company if they
carried passengers in some of their vans. The parallel is quite good. The Trans-
port Command does undertake a number of irregular transport services, or rather
irregular passenger services, but regular transport operations are in the keeping
of British Overseas Airways Corporation. I was very glad indeed to hear compli-
ments to B.O.A.C. from the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, and I am satisfied that
that Company will continue to function in a form and manner as in the past, and
with satisfaction to the community.
I now come to the question of a chosen instrument and monopoly. As my noble
friend put it, is it still a monopoly or no monopoly? At any rate, it is still what
it was. It is fixed by Statute, and until Parliament decides to repeal the Statute,
the chosen instrument is just what it used to be. I will endeavor to tell your
Lordships how it seems to me, but possibly others might take a different view. . .
The first question raised by my noble friends is that of Ministerial responsibility
for Civil Air Transport in His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.
The responsibility for civil air transport rests with the Air Ministry. The respon-
sibility for co-ordinating future policy rests with the War Cabinet Committee.
The War Cabinet Committee deals with postwar Civil Air Transport, and I am the
Chairman of the Committee. It is a Committee of Ministers.. It includes all those
Ministers who are concerned with policy toward civil aviation. It is called the
British Speeches of the Day
C.A.T. Committee. It is not an executive body; it has no administrative duties:
it only recommends, and its recommendations must be subject to Cabinet sanction.
The purpose of the Committee is threefold, and if I may, I will deal with the
purposes in detail. Its first duty is to co-ordinate Government policy on civil
aviation. Next it has to assume responsibility for an International Air Conference.
The Conference has yet to be held. The Committee's third function is to recom-
mend the departmental organization and Ministerial responsibility for civil avia-
tion. Those are the duties of that Committee. I hope I am answering the questions
to the satisfaction of my noble Friend.
The next question is that of the international regulation of civil air transport.
The international regulation of civil air transport must necessarily await the
decision of an International Conference. The decision must be taken at the Inter-
national Conference, and it is hoped that that Conference will be held this year
but the decision depends upon other nations as well as Great Britain. We must
await the decision of the nations of the world joining the Conference, and the time
and place will depend upon them to some extent.
The noble Marquess's third question is that of internal and inter-Common-
wealth and Empire airlines. Internal airlines depend on the Air Ministry; the
authority and control rests with them. Inter-Commonwealth and Empire lines
were dealt with at the Commonwealth conversations six months ago. The findings
provide for adequate regulations, including plans for an All-Red route.
The next question is the types of aircraft, and we must admit that the United
States has a long lead over us in air transport. But we have a number of excellent
designs for new types. I must frankly tell your Lordship that so far as progress
with the construction of these new types goes, we have had disappointments. No
blame attaches to anyone for this state of affairs; it is entirely due to our necessary
preoccupation with the needs of the war, and it is no use hoping that such progress
will result until we have made complete provision for destroying the enemy.
Until then there can be nothing but disappointments so far as preparation of
types for civil aviation is concerned. However, at present, there are several types
of aircraft. There are plans, but, as Ilsay, progress is slow and there have been
set-backs caused by military priorities.
The York is in production on a small scale, and is giving excellent service
with R.A.F. Transport Command and also with B.O.A.C. The York flew the
other day 6,857 miles, from the United Kingdom to Delhi, in thirty-two hours
flying time. That works out at an average ground speed of 214 miles an hour.
The York'carried a load of four tons. The Shetland Flying Boat is due to make
its first flight in a few weeks, but at present it will not be put into production.
The Halifax Transport may fly late in 1944, but it will not be in production this
year. The small De Haviland Feeder Line Transport may fly in about a year.
That, I think, is an account of the preparation of types for civil aviation, with the
exception of the Tudor.
The Tudor has been held up because of military work and cannot be in service
for some time. I do not deny that this is disappointing but the only comfort I can
offer is that when military necessities permit, progress will be swifter and perhaps
we may be able to make up for lost time.
The Extent of the B.O.A.C. Monopoly
I am going to deal with the fourth question on the Order Paper-the question
relating to chosen instruments and subsidies-when I come to deal with the sixth
The Future of Civil Aviation
question relating to the scope and powers of air-line operating companies. The
present position is that British Overseas Airways Corporation has a monopoly
subsidy on overseas airways. That is, a monopoly of Treasury grants for the
development of air transport service.
To that extent British Overseas Airways Corporation is the chosen instrument
of the Government. Before the war, Imperial Airways received aggregate con-
tributions of 900,000 ($3,600,000) yearly, the Postal Administration taking part
in the scheme on the basis that all contract mails would be carried by air on the
Empire routes. The B.O.A.C. is, in this, as in other respects, the contractual
successor of Imperial Airways. Apart from this the Postmaster General has the
power to award a mail contract to any transport concern which seems to him to
offer the best service on any particular route. That is the briefest and clearest
explanation I can make of the statutory position of the B.O.A.C. It is a position
which is, perhaps, not easily grasped-I have some difficulty in grasping it myself
-but if you read it in Hansard tomorrow it may seem clearer than the explanation
I have given to you.
[The Marquess of Londonderry: That is a decision to maintain the Act of
1939 in being?]
The question of the Act of 1939 rests with Parliament. The decision must
depend on Parliament. What decision Parliament will take I could not anticipate.
But there is the statutory position-monopoly in the sense that it is a monopoly
of subsidies and a monopoly of certain payments from the various States concerned
with the transportation of mail, but no monopoly in the respect that no lines are
forbidden to fly over the seas, or that the Postmaster General is forbidden to make
payments for carrying mail even on a similar route. There is no statutory position
that could prevent any concern from operating British airlines overseas, so long
as that concern conforms to air worthiness and other regulations-none!
In time of war the flight of civil aircraft inside the limits of the United
Kingdom and its territorial waters is controlled by the Air Navigation Order,
1939, and must be subject to any restrictions which may be necessary on operational
grounds. That is a war measure. Any concern which wishes to operate, whether
a shipping company or any other organization, must have permission to land at its
destination and will need aircraft and trained personnel, both air crews and ground
crews. Permits to land at foreign airports may be sought through the Foreign
Office. At present there are no suitable transport aircraft available apart from
those in service, nor can skilled and experienced personnel be spared from wartime
duties. I am sure that the House will find no fault with that statement.
While this is the present position, it is clear to all of us that we are entering
an era of change and experiments. There are many uncertainties and we must be
ready to adapt our policy to the conditions as we find them, and not to hold on
to the position which at present exists. We must be swift to seize on all the
opportunities presented to us and, be sure, that is the purpose of the Air Ministry
and also of the Committee over which I preside.
Now some good judges think that air transport will rapidly attain to a self-
supporting basis. Many Americans go so far as to say that air transport over the
North Atlantic will be a self-sustaining venture, and that in a few years air
transport, over the North Atlantic may reach not only economic operation but
profitable conditions. There are others less optimistic, who say that a few aircraft
will supply all the services we require. The Committee are not prepared to base
their policy on these predictions either way. We are committed to the pursuit
of an efficient and enterprising civil aviation, and we are committed to the furtherest
expansion of British air transport that conditions in this country and the Erfipire
British Speeches of the Day
will permit. We are looking for.our proper share in the world traffic. We have
set our faces against a wasteful and improvident subsidy race. That, I think,
answers the questions that my noble Friend has raised on the Order Paper.
The Postwar Aviation Conference with the U. S.
I shall go on to the discussion of our relations with the Americans and the
recent Conference with a deputation from the United States. We first of all agreed
with the Americans that the principle of international regulation of subsidies
was a necessity, and we look forward with hope-I may say with confidence-to the
day when subsidies will prevail no longer. That is the hope and purpose of the
Government. The methods by which.we shall seek to dispense with subsidies are
many but, rest assured, we shall go as far and as swiftly as possible. The negotia-
tions with the United States were entirely satisfactory. We have, in fact, taken
another considerable step forward. We have had a conference with Mr. Berle
and his colleagues representing the Government of the United States. It was a
most excellent meeting. The deliberations have taken us very far along the road
to agreement between the two Governments, but here I must make one thing clear.
We should not move in the direction of making plans without taking into
account our resources in aeroplanes. The mistake of making plans without
resources is an error that has often been perpetrated in the past. There have
been occasions when it has been the case of all plans and no planes. That is
something I mean to do my best to guard against.
I told you about our resources in aircraft. I told you about our difficulties and
troubles. I have not painted a very optimistic picture. On the contrary, I have
given you a full and faithful account of the necessity of military operations and
the extent to which we mean to devote our resources to the purpose of destroying
the enemy. There is, of course, another source of supply of planes. That is the
United States of America.
Mr. Edgar Glanville has asked a question in another place. He has asked
whether the supply of American civil aircraft will be available for British air
routes after the war. I am able to answer that question. Mr. Berle has assured
us most generously as to the supply of transport aircraft in the period immediately
following the end of the war. As your Lordships know, a pooling arrangement in
manufacture was made early in the war whereby the United States agreed to
construct long-range heavy aeroplanes while the United Kingdom was encouraged
to build fighters. This was a most admirable and most sensible division of respon-
sibilities for war purposes, but it plainly conferred on the United States advantages
in relation to postwar manufacture for the civil aviation market. You can under-
stand, therefore, with what pleasure I heard from Mr. Berle that the United States
was prepared to make transport aircraft available to Britain on a nondiscriminatory
basis in the interim period before British production of these types gets going.
This is the assurance which I give the House with Mr. Berle's authority. I
received his authority to make this statement here today. Of course, we are not
satisfied to rely on the supply of aircraft from the United.States, grateful as we
are to Mr. Berle and the United States Government for the promises which have
been made. We are not at all disposed to rely on aircraft from the United States.
We shall do all we can to promote our own supplies of aircraft for civil aviation,
for our purposes must be to provide opportunities for the aircraft industries in
Britain. That is a phase of the issues relating to civil aviation which I never forget
and never overlook.
Postwar Production Problems
The interest of the air industry in Britain I never forget. But the production
of Aw aircraft is not the whole story on the industrial side of civil aviation.
The Future of Civil Aviation
There is also the continuing need to provide spares and equipment for airfields.
These are very big items and are most important. Once the equipment, the
maintenance workshops, the overhaul procedure and the provision of spares are
established for a particular route, then any change in equipment is tiresome and
expensive. Therefore it is essential that we should establish systems of British
aircraft, British engines, British supplies, and British ground equipment at the
earliest possible date.
Again, there are radio aids to air navigation. The transport aircraft of the
future is built round radio apparatus. Radio apparatus is most important. It
enables flight to be made more swiftly and regularly than would have been possible
a year or two ago. We must, therefore, have adequate radio apparatus, and radio
apparatus offers an immense field for manufacturing enterprise, a field that is very
big indeed, a field that did not exist before the war. Installations in aircraft and
on the ground open up real prospects for a big new industry.
This radio development is, of course, the most important of all the develop-
ments that have taken place during the war. It is more important even than the
development of aircraft. The most sensational development that we have seen
in this war has been the development of radio in its many manifestations. As a
consequence, the whole system of communications will be transformed after the
war is over. Not only will there be the apparatus which is already in operation,
but there will be much more put into use the moment the conflict is at an end.
In this new system of communications, we must take a very big part. It is certainly
as important as the manufacture of aircraft and engines, perhaps even more
important, that we should have a full share in the development of communications.
Then again we must sustain our position in the production of engines. The
production of engines is the backbone of the aircraft industry. It is immensely
important. It is no use having an industry without the manufacture of engines,
for it would simply be a carriage-building business. As the House knows, there
are two types of engines, air-cooled engines and liquid-cooled engines. Before
the war Britain had the monopoly of the manufacture of liquid-cooled engines.
The manufacture of liquidcooled engines was practically confined to Great Britain.
Here, too, the best air-cooled engines were produced for military purposes, but
the United States of America had provided air-cooled engines for civil aviation
purposes which appeared to be an improvement on any other types. But that engine
was necessarily limited when it was put to military uses. The British engines, in
other words, were more effective for military uses, but the air-cooled engines of the
United States of America appeared to be highly satisfactory for the purposes of civil
When the war is over and civil aviation is resumed liquid-cooled engines are
going to take a very big place. The liquid-cooled engines come to the front for
civil aviation purposes. The liquid-cooled engine may take its place alongside or
even in advance of an air-cooled engine, and here in Britain we are admirably
equipped with our liquid-cooled engine. Here is the home of the liquid-cooled
engines, here is built the engine that may be the favorite engine for civil aviation
after the war is over. That is not only a possibility but a real probability, in fact,
I would say a certainty. Already the Canadians are equipping some of their air-
transport planes with liquid-cooled engines and I am in a position to tell your
Lordships that the Canadians prefer liquid-cooled engines.
The Proposed Conference
In answering an enquiry made in another place by Mr. Glanville I have made
a digression from the Conference with the United States of America, so I come
back to it. I referred to the story of negotiations last month. The United States
British Speeches of the Day
delegation at the Conference proposed that we should go forward to an Inter-
national Conference on certain lines, and I will quote those lines. They were
that there should be an international authority to lay down standards for technical
requirements and for rates for air-carriage, and interchange of information.
According to the American plan, the proposed authority would start on a
non-executive basis with no power or means of enforcing its regulations, at least
during an interim period. I hope I have made quite clear the position taken up
by the United States of America. It proposed an international authority on a
non-executive basis with no power or means of enforcing its regulations-at least
during ap interim period. The United Kingdom Delegation presented for con-
sideration what is known as the Canadian Draft Convention, which has been laid
on the table of the Canadian Parliament. This draft Convention lays down a
detailed plan for an international regulatory authority with powers of enforcement.
Its provisions include the allocation of frequencies of air services and national
quotas for international air traffic. I hope I have made clear the distinction between
the two proposals.
The Canadian proposal was considered by the Americans to be too rigid as a
basis for talks at the proposed International Conference. After discussion it was
agreed, therefore, that we should go forward to the Conference on the basis of
proposals for international handling of civil aviation agreed to at the Common-
wealth conversations some six months ago. These proposals are in some respects
open to varying interpretations, and were considered by the Americans to be
flexible enough to provide a more satisfactory basis for an International Conference.
The broad purpose would be to draw up an International Convention on air
navigation, to be implemented by an international transport organization which
would evolve standards, seek to eliminate uneconomic competition, work out
for each nation equitable participation in world air transport, and maintain a
broad equilibrium between air transport capacity and traffic on offer. On these
general principles the United States and Great Britain are in agreement.
The powers of enforcement of the provisions will be open to further discus-
sion. There you have the progress towards international co-operation in civil
aviation. I repeat the principles: the elimination of uneconomic competition, the
setting up of national quotas in international air transport, equilibrium between
transport capacity and the traffic offering on any international air route. These must
be the foundations of any enlightened approach to this subject in the future.
But make no mistake. We did not give up the Canadian Draft Convention
without reluctance. We would have preferred it. Mr. Howe, the Canadian
Minister, has produced an admirable document for building up his structure for
the regulating authority on the principles agreed to at the Commonwealth con-
versations. We gave it up with reluctance, but we had to abandon it, and now we
must build up a new structure on the same proposals of the Commonwealth
conversations. It may be that it will not be everything we could desire. You may
ask what we can do to build a new structure. That remains to be seen.
I refer once more to the statement I have just made. We have reached agree-
ment on principles with the United States, but the powers of enforcement of
those principles are open to further discussion. International regulation is what
we seek. International regulation would subject civil aviation to the control of an
international authority which lays down standards and regulates frequencies, but
there is something called international operation which is quite different from
international regulation. International operation is the actual operation of air lines
by international authority. That project is sought by Australia and New Zealand.
It would mean that civil aviation would be actually operated by a world-wide
The Future of Civil Aviation
That is what Australia and New Zealand would like to establish. But, just as
we made concessions to American feeling, so Australia and New Zealand have
made it clear to us in their agreement of January 21st last that they will be
prepared to make concessions to opinion here. So you see the helpful situation
we are building up. On every issue we are consulting with the Dominions. I am
glad to have the opportunity of making this very intricate speech. In Hansard
the various ramifications of the claims of the American, Canadian and British
authorities will seem clearer. You may find much to favor in the statement-I hope
so-but at all events we are always in agreement with the Dominions.
Bases, Cabotage and Innocent Passage
There are two other subjects I must mention before I sit down-bases and
cabotage. .' Our Government have no desire to exclude aircraft of other
nations. We demand no prescriptive right to the use of airfields for ourselves.
Rather do we mean to use them for the purpose of steadily developing civil
aviation throughout the world. Here it must be said that the bases are few in
number at which any great volume of traffic can be collected. Just the same, it will
be necessary to have international agreement on traffic regulations and arrange-
ments. This is an essential condition for future developments.
The President has made certain proposals for the future of international civil
aviation. He has declared for the right of innocent passage for all nations
throughout the world and for the right to land anywhere for refuelling and other
non-traffic purposes. I am authorized by the Prime Minister to say that we join
with the President to the fullest extent in subscribing to those principles. I repeat
the principles: the right of innocent passage for all nations throughout the world
and the right to land anywhere for refuelling and other non-traffic purposes.
I now wish to dispose of the issue of cabotage. It is a doctrine that is not
always clearly understood, so perhaps your Lordships will allow me to provide
a definition. Cabotage means the reservation to a nation of all traffic within its
territory. The question at once arises, does the reservation apply to traffic between
the United States and Hawaii and the United States and.Porto Rico? Yes, it does.
Does it apply to traffic between the United Kingdom and our Crown Colonies?
Yes, it applies to traffic between the United Kingdom and our Crown Colonies.
It is a right which we clearly concede to other Colonial Powers. There is no
intention in any direction, so far as I can see, to resist it. It is generally accepted.
In the Dominions there is no opposition to our claim. Of course the Dominions
and India will set up a similar system.
[LORD ADDISON: I am sorry to interrupt, but this is of enormous impor-
tance. I did not quite catch the noble Lord's explanation of the meaning of the
word. I am sorry to be so ignorant, but it is quite a new word to me, 'and I
should like a little more illumination.]
Cabotage is the right of a nation to carry its own traffic within its own
[VISCOUNT SAMUEL: To the exclusion of other nations?]
To the exclusion of all.
[LORD BARNBY: Not over other territory?]
It relates to the territory of the country concerned. It is right to carry traffic
from New York to Chicago, from Chicago to San Francisco-the exclusive right
of the United States to carry that traffic. Therefore the question at once arises,
does cabotage involve traffic between Great Britain and the Colonies? And the
answer is, yes, it does.
British Speeches of the Day
[VISCOUNT TRENCHARD: In a straight line over everybody's country?]
It is the right to carry traffic from Great Britain to the Colonies and from the
Colonies to Great Britain. That is the claim by Great Britain, and the claim
by the United States of America. The United States have put forward their claim
to carry traffic from the United States of America to Honolulu and to Porto Rico.
[VISCOUNT TRENCHARD: In a straight line? That is the question we
all want answered.]
I cannot say whether it is a straight line. It is cabotage. I do not think that
question arises. Flying above the territory of another nation will necessarily involve
the authority of such nation for such a flight. The foreign country would have
to give permission for such a flight, but there is a way round. We hav e not had
to fly above France for our journeys to the Mediterranean of late. We can always
find a way round. I have explained what is the meaning of cabotage and cabotage
is conceded. . .
[VISCOUNT TRENCHARD: My Lords, may I make myself clear? Supposing
you want to fly from.here to Nigeria, we will say, and you fly the shortest way.
Is this going to mean that you can fly over France, Spain, Portugal, and over
French territory in other parts of the globe?]
Cabotage would mean the flight from Great Britain to Gibraltar, but I cannot
suppose that an aeroplane would fly above France and Spain without the consent
of France and Spain. That seems to me quite obvious.
[LORD ADDISON: My Lords, I don't like to interrupt but may I take it that
what the noble Lord said previously about the right of innocent passage would
mean that a machine on one of these flights would have the right to go from
one place to another, whatever country it flew over?]
The right of innocent passage depends upon the decisions of an International
Conference. Let us hope that the time will not be long until France comes to an
International Conference; or even that the representative of France in Algiers may
come to an International Conference. They will then have presented to them
proposals for the international regulation of civil aviation. If France joins in
that, France will have conceded innocent passage over French territory. Thus, of
course, a flight over French territory becomes a simple experience. But when I
came to deal with cabotage I was most concerned to establish the principle of
cabotage within the British Empire. The British Empire is not at all a parallel
to the United States of America. I felt that perhaps there might be some resistance
to the claim I put forward for cabotage within the British Empire, but there has
been no resistance.
[VISCOUNT SAMUEL: Does the noble Lord mean the British Empire exclud-
ing the Dominions? I understood him to be limiting it to the Crown Colonies.]
The idea is that other members of the Commonwealth will enter into an
International Conference under their own power-under their own steam, so to
speak-and will take decisions on matters concerned with international flying
along with us. If, at the International Conference we reach an agreement, then
certainly the Dominions could claim cabotage for themselves, just as we do.
[VISCOUNT SAMUEL: That does not apply to traffic between the United
Kingdom and Australia?]
Australia would come'to the Conference under her own steam. She would
make her own claim for cabotage.
[VISCOUNT SAMUEL: But that does not apply to the British Empire as a
International Monetary Policy
I specifically mentioned the Dominions, included in the Commonwealth. India
comes within the Commonwealth and India also would come to the International
Conference and would make her claim to cabotage.
My Lords, I have given you an account of the present position. It has been
brief and I hope that I have covered the points that have been raised by my noble
friend, Lord Londonderry. I am sorry that a good deal of what I have said has
been so involved and tedious, but it had to be. Occasionally I have been word
perfect because I have had to follow my text with care. I have had to speak on
matters which concern the United States of America as well as ourselves, and on
two occasions I gave you statements on things which I have agreed with Mr. Berle.
[House of Lords Debates]
SIR JOHN ANDERSON
Chancellor of the Exchequer
House of Commons, May 10, 1944
I have myself, on more than one occasion, given the House an assurance that
the Government would come to this Debate without any commitment. I hope no
hon. Member anywhere in the House thinks that that assurance has not been most
fully redeemed. Before coming to certain specific matters of detail in connection
with the scheme, there are two general observations I should like to make. The first
is that I think we all owe a very great debt of gratitude to those who have col-
laborated in the working out of this plan. An immense amount of time and
thought and care and effort on the part, not only of our own people, but of the
experts and representatives of other Governments, has gone to the framing of
what I might call the third edition of our currency plans. As I have said, I think
we owe them all a very great debt of gratitude, whatever may be the ultimate out-
come of our deliberations.
The second observation of a general character I want to make is this. This is
indeed, as many hon. Members have said in the course of the Debate, a matter
demanding the most careful examination on the part of all of us, because the
financial and economic future not only of the United Kingdom, but of the whole
Commonwealth, may well depend upon how we direct ourselves in regard to these
matters. Before I proceed to comment on some of the main aspects of the plan,
there are a few points upon which information has been sought by speakers in the
Debate which perhaps I had better get out of the way first.
Voting and Management
A question was raised by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for
Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and also by the right hon. Gentleman who
has just sat down in regard to the voting arrangements contemplated in the plan.
They are not set out in the plan, and hon. Members are undoubtedly at a disad-
vantage in estimating the working of the plan in the absence of precise information
on that point. I can tell the House this, that the general idea accepted by our
friends in the United States and ourselves-when I say "ourselves" I mean the
experts who worked on the plan-is that voting power should run parallel with
quotas, and that the voting power of the United States and the voting power of
the British Commonwealth should be, for practical purposes, equal. That is the
British Speeches of the Day
idea running through this plan. It has been brought out quite clearly in discussions
between our experts and the experts on the other side of the Atlantic, and I am
glad to be able to make that point perfectly clear. The voting power of the United
States and of the Commonwealth would probably work out in each case at something
like 20 per cent or 25 per cent of the total, though it depends on the actual quotas
and there is some disagreement as to the quotas of some of the smaller countries.
That is my understanding of that point.
There is another matter on which the White Paper gives inadequate information
and that is in regard to the arrangements for management of the Fund. This is a
most vital matter, as my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr.
Pethick-Lawrence) very justly pointed out. There is indeed, need, in my opinion,
for further and closer discussion in regard to the arrangements for management,
if we go on with the plan, and not only with the arrangements for management
but the location of the offices of the Fund and so on. Our experts on this side
have the conception of a general council of men of very high standing, with
alternates who could take their part at periodical meetings but, at the same time,
an element of executive management with a certain security of tenure composed
of people chosen for their known freedom from prejudice or bias, and for their
They would be chosen, of course, by the representatives of the nations forming
the general directorate of the Fund. That is the general idea but it needs to be
very much more closely worked out.
Then the question was put by Miy hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster
(Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) as to where the currencies, in which the Fund is to deal,
will be held. He rightly conjectured that they are to be held in the central banks
of the various countries. In fact, the Fund will be banking with those central
banks. My hon. Friend also asked whether the United States could, for example,
under this plan, pay their quota fully in gold. As I understand the matter the
answer is, "Yes." My hon. Friend also asked how Clause III (7,b) is to be inter-
preted. As hon. Members know, the Fund is to be made up in the main of
national currencies, with a proportion of gold, and the intention of the Fund is
to provide a means of strengthening those currencies. Therefore, in the circum-
stances it seemed reasonable that if a State possesses gold in large quantities the
management of the Fund should be entitled to require of that State that it should
put a proportion of its gold at the disposal of the Fund for the strengthening of
the currencies of the State. Another question my hon. Friend asked was whether
the scheme enabled one nation to discharge its duty to another by giving that other
nation a claim on its own money, or in other words, a claim on its exports. the
answer is undoubtedly, "Yes." The main purpose of this scheme is to secure that
Withdrawal and Sanctions
I would now like to say something about the right of members to withdraw,
a right on which my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh dwelt at
some length in his speech. Provision for that right, I understand, was introduced
into the scheme primarily because it was held that no purpose could be served by
attempting to hold people in the Fund against their will. It was felt that small
nations would be more likely to come into this scheme if they felt that in the
last resort they had the right to withdraw. It was also considered that having the
right to withdraw in certain cases-indeed the discretion-would protect, to some
extent the members of the Fund against any tendency on the part of the manage-
ment to be unreasonable.
International Monetary Policy
Before I pass from this question I would like to say two other things. First
I can readily give my right hon. Friend opposite the assurance for which he asked,
that it would not be, in the view of the Government, right to take up an attitude
now which would deprive a member country of the advantage of this right to
withdraw. We are not proposing to create a situation in which it would be possible
to charge a country with having wrecked a great scheme by withdrawing, if the
circumstances of withdrawal were such as are contemplated in this scheme. The
second thing is in regard to the suggestion which my right hon. and gallant
Friend the Member for Kelvingrove was disposed to throw out, namely, that it
might be possible perhaps to find what I might call an intermediate sanction be-
tween accepting the dictates of the management of the Fund, however distasteful,
and clearing out. I think it may well be that some modification of the plan could be
devised which would enable a member State to remain in the Fund, although it
had taken action which the management of the Fund, for the time being, were
not prepared to approve.
The Place of Gold in the Scheme
I pass now to the question of scarce currencies. My right hon. Friend opposite
was quite right in regarding as severe the provision in the scheme for enforcing
the obligations which properly fall upon creditor States by providing various sanc-
tions, where such a State fails to discharge those obligations. It was felt that the
sanctions provided in the scheme were of a very severe character, that they were
probably so severe that a State whose currency was becoming scarce would, in
practice, take measures to relieve the situation which was developing before the
question of enforcing the sanctions provided by the scheme had become of practical
importance. That is the view which the framers of the scheme took, and my desire
is to put the House in possession of any explanation I can in regard to provisions
of the scheme upon which comments have been made. I would like to say some-
thing about a question which has engaged the minds of many Members-how far
this scheme involves States that may enter the plan in a return to the Gold Standard.
I believe there is no foundation for the view that this scheme in any way involves
a return to the Gold Standard. Certainly, the attitude of His Majesty's present
Government would be one of the most vehement opposition to any suggestion that
we should go back to the Gold Standard.
Let me try to explain, as briefly and as simply as possible, why I think the view
I have indicated is the right view. Hon. Members will perhaps forgive me if I
begin by a rather elementary statement of what I understand by the term "Gold
Standard." The classical view of the Gold Standard is, I believe, that of a cur-
rency which is self-regulating being fixed by law at a certain parity of gold, and
being kept between what are called specie points by a free movement of gold in
and out. That was the old, orthodox Gold Standard monetary system which we
had in this country up to the outbreak of the last war. We have seen variants of
that system. In ,particular, in our own case, between 1925 and 1931 we had a
Gold Standard which was not self-regulating but which was so managed that it
was kept between the specie points on a fixed parity with gold. What this plan
contemplates is that, instead of a fixed parity there should be a recognized machinery
for the adjustment of the rates of exchange of the several countries in relation to
other currencies, including the United States currency, which is based on gold
and, therefore, the scheme provides for regulating the parity of national currencies
in the last resort with gold, but it is not a question of damping the national cur-
rency to gold. It is a question of keeping national currencies in relation to gold
by what we might describe as an adjustable link. They are kept in relation, but
British Speeches of the Day
the link which joins them is a variable one and the scheme is designed to facilitate
the adjustment of exchange rates where fundamental disequilibrium of exchange
The Sterling Area
I should like to explain what I understand-I may perhaps be wrong-by
fundamental disequilibrium. I do not mean, as I think my hon. Friend the Mem-
ber for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) indicated, merely a disequilibrium in the balance
of payments. What I understand by a fundamental disequilibrium for this purpose
is where the relationship of currencies one to another has got out of harmony with
the respective values of those currencies in terms of goods and services. In those
circumstances the management of the Fund is enjoined to facilitate adjustment of
the par value. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was right in saying that one
of the objects of the Fund, as set out in page 6 of the Statement of Principles, is
to damp down temporary disturbances effecting exchange rates.
May I say a word about the position of what we know as the sterling area in
this connection. I have said more than once that the Government would not be
disposed to favor any plan which was likely to interfere in any way with the rela-
tionship between the different States which have been in association with one an-
other under what we understand by the sterling area arrangement. We adhere
quite firmly to that. We have made it absolutely clear, in the discussions on the
other side of the Atlantic, that that is our position. I can say now that the technical
representatives of the Dominion Governments who were engaged in discussions
a few weeks ago in this country with our representatives were unanimously agreed
that there was no reason to expect that the long-term objectives of these monetry
proposals would be in any way detrimental to the maintenance and strengthening
of the relations between the countries forming the sterling area. What I have said
in that regard applies also to other countries which have looked to this country.
Equilibrium an Aid to Full Employment
Another matter to which hon. Members obviously attach great importance is
the hearing of this on the policy of full employment, to which the Government,
with the support I am sure of Members in all quarters, stands pledged. Any
danger to the policy of full employment from external influences would presumably
arise either from our inability to sell a sufficient volume of exports to pay for the
food and raw materials requisite for full employment or as the result of fluctuations
in employment in the export industry as a consequence of violent fluctuations in
external demand. The arrangements under discussion are designed to help the
full employment policy in both those respects, because one of the main purposes
of the plan is to prevent, or at least to mitigate, violent fluctuations in external
demand and, in addition to the specific measures contemplated, the Fund will
provide a platform where, in the event of difficulties, the best co-operative means
of escape from those difficulties can be discussed by representatives of the countries
concerned. In the section of the plan dealing with the purposes and the policies
of the Fund it is expressly stated that the Fund will be guided in all its decisions
by the purpose of shortening the periods and lessening the degree of disequilibrium
in the international balance of payments of member countries. It is also expressly
provided in the Statement of Principles that the Fund shall not be entitled to call
in question, in dealing with any applications which may be made, the domestic
policy followed by the country concerned.
I should like to deal now with some of the points made by those who have
taken part in the Debate. I should like first to deal with the powerful speech of
International Monetary Policy
the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell). I thought that towards the end
of his speech he adopted a rather minatory attitude towards me, but that was
probably for rhetorical purposes. I am doing nothing but presenting to the House
a plan drawn up by experts, which hon. Members have expressed a very keen
desire to debate, and I am now engaged in explaining certain points arising in
connection with that plan. The hon. Gentleman-this ran right through his speech
-asked himself a series of questions. What is the prospect of America lowering
her trade barriers? What is the use, he asked, taking a metaphor from my right
hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) of
a permanent way if there is no desire to travel? American imports will be necessary
to us. How are we to pay for them? Incidentally, in that connection I thought
he inadvertently raised an argument in favor of the multilateral approach of this
scheme rather than the bilateral. May I remind hon. Members of the origin of
these plans that are now being worked out, not only this one, but other plans that
have been under discussion? It all goes back to Article 7 of the Mutual Aid
Agreement. Perhaps hon. Members will allow me to quote a few passages from
that Article, which was accepted by His Majesty's Government. It runs:
"In the final determination of the benefits to be provided to the United
States of America by the Government of the United Kingdom in return for aid
furnished . the terms and conditions thereof shall be such as not to burden
commerce between the two countries, but to promote mutually advantageous
economic relations between them and the betterment of world-wide economic
relations. To that end, they shall include provision for agreed action by the
United States of America and the United Kingdom, open to participation by
all other countries of like mind, directed to the extension, by appropriate
international and domestic measures"-
this is very relevant to the question of expansionist policy on which stress has
"of production, employment, and the exchange and consumption of goods,
which are the material foundations of the liberty and welfare of all people;
to the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international
commerce, and to the reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers, and, in gen-
eral, to the attainment of all the economic objectives set forth in, the Joint
that is, the Atlantic Charter. Then it went on:
"At an early convenient date conversations shall be begun between the two
Governments with a view to determining in the light of governing economic
conditions, the best means of attaining the above-stated objectives by their own
agreed action and of seeking the agreed action of other like-minded Govern-
It is important that in any Debate on this or any other of the plans that have
been under consideration, this document should be kept in view. As the Prime
Minister made clear in the recent Commonwealth Debate in the House, before this
Agreement was formally entered into between our two Governments, the under-
standing was clearly established between us that this contained no obligation on
our part to get rid of Imperial Preference in consideration of the Lease-Lend
facilities that have been put at our disposal. I have not the slightest doubt that
those who have been engaged in discussions with representatives of the British
Treasury on the other side of the Atlantic have been handling this matter with the
most complete good faith and with the intention of securing, as far as possible,
British Speeches of the Day
the objectives set out in the passage from which I have quoted. Of that I have
no sort of doubt whatever. There is no reason to see in this plan any deep or
dark design to get the better of this country in these matters.
Monetary Scheme is Basis of Future Economic System
My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, to whose speech I have already made
one or two references, stressed his view that it was bound to be extremely difficult
to assess the value and importance of a plan of this kind unless there was at the
same time available to Members all the other schemes and plans which, together
with this, will form the basis of a comprehensive economic system for the post-
war world. I quite recognize the difficulty, but I can assure my hon. Friend that
we have to proceed in these matters by stages. This currency plan is a general
plan which must form part of the foundation for any scheme concerned with our
external relations, and it seemed to me not unreasonable that we should get ahead
as rapidly as we could in working out the technical details of a plan of this kind
while leaving any final commitment of principle to stand over until we have
looked at the picture as a whole.
My hon. Friend asked a question. He asked whether we think that an increase
of 50 per cent, in our exports-whether in money value or in quantity-will, in
fact, be practicable. The answer is that His Majesty's Government intend to work
for that objective, and that they do not regard it as in any way unattainable, in
their co-operative effort. In the earlier part of my speech I dealt with the ques-
tion about management which my hon. Friend raised.
The hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss), who is, I think, not
in his place, expressed his disagreement, rather to my surprise, with three of the
items in the statement of objectives on page 6 of this Paper. I did not think that
he did full justice to what is set out in the Paper. I intervened to point out that,
when he referred to the elimination of foreign exchange restrictions, he omitted
the very important words which follow "restrictions," and which are:
"which hamper the growth of world trade."
When he expressed his strong objection to exchange stability, I thought he was
interpreting exchange stability as if it meant exchange rigidity, which, of course,
is not what the plan means, and is, in fact, what the plan is designed to avoid.
I come now to certain points with which I have not dealt, in the speech of
my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh. I found myself, speaking
personally, very largely in agreement with what he said. He dearly favors strongly
the multilateral approach, as contrasted with the bilateral. That is my view, always
provided that there is nothing in the plan which will prevent us from entering
into reciprocal trade agreements with other countries or groups of countries, either
in the monetary or in the economic field. I say quite categorically to the House
that, in considering this plan, we considered it-we have made it clear to the
representatives of the United States-subject to that stipulation. Only if that
understanding can be given effect to, shall we be prepared to enter into it.
Gold Not the Only Standard ,
No one could attach more importance than I do to the maintenance of our
traditional relations with countries which have stood by us in the past and which,
I know, are eager to stand by us in the future. I did not quite agree with my right
hon. Friend when he expressed the view that this matter takes us a long way-
I think that is what he said-or goes a long way, towards gold.
International Monetary Policy
Of course the scheme recognizes gold as a valuable commodity and as the basis
of important world currencies, notably of dollars. We cannot get away from that.
We cannot suggest to the United States that they should abandon their gold basis.
I say quite frankly to the House that it is very important, and it is going to be
very important in our further examination of this plan, or any development of
this plan, that every possible care should be taken to guard against any tendency
in the working out of the plan to favor a currency just because it rests on gold
rather than a currency like sterling, which rests on what most of us would regard,
I am sure, as an equally stable foundation of good repute and standard of probity
in those responsible for the management of sterling currency. There will be a gold
measure but not a fixed gold measure. There must be. How can we engage in
international trade unless we have a rate of exchange? In any circumstances you
must have a rate of exchange between sterling and dollars, and if dollars are on
gold quite obviously there must be a parity between sterling and gold.
My right hon. Friend asked me how far is this going to tie us to the United
States. We want to be in friendly collaboration with the United States, but we
do not want to be in a position in which if unhappily some disaster befell the
United States we should similarly have to go down and suffer in common with
them; we do not want to be tied in that way. But we do believe that by having
international relations in this monetary field we shall in practice greatly lessen the
risk of disasters occurring, as we know they occurred for reasons with which many
of us are familiar, during the inter-war period. There is no doubt at all that in
these matters there are, and must always be, many factors of doubt and uncertainty.
I ask, as my right lion. Friend opposite asked, if we have no scheme in this country,
what is the alternative? Should we be better off? I think the answer to that is
certainly, no. We ought to go on. I believe hon. Members in all quarters of the
House take the view we ought to go on, with these discussions. I think myself
that in various respects the scheme can be adjusted and improved. I am sure it is
most important that we should enlarge the range of discussions in a way in which
they have not yet been enlarged and bring in the representatives of other nations.
I was not responsible for the statement about the number of nations' experts who
have been consulted.
As to formal consultation, I think we should proceed. The Government are
in no way committed with regard to this scheme. The Government do not propose
to enter into any commitments at this stage. What they would propose to do if
this Motion is carried, as I believe it will be, is to pursue discussions with the
view, as stated in the Motion, of arriving at international monetary arrangements.
I think we shall be fortified in the further stages through which this matter must
pass by the Debate that has taken place today, and that we shall advance with the
goodwill of the House towards what has been described as a free fertile economic
policy for the postwar world.
[House of Commons Debates)
British Speeches of the Day
RT. HON. OLIVER LYTTELTON
Minister of Production
At Cambridge, May 19, 1944
We must assume, I think, although it is an assumption which might of course
be falsified by facts, that Germany is beaten by Japan.
I am now going to talk about the so-called transitional period and it is necessary
to say that the transitional period covers both the interval between the end of
the war with Germany and the end of the war with Japan, and also the phase
during which general peace and normal conditions are being re-established after
both wars are over.
The other day the flat which I share with the Minister of Works was burnt out,
and I went to look at what was left a day or two afterwards. The lares et penates
were in very bad shape. All that was left were a few blackened walls, some
twisted girders, and the flames had consumed the whole of my clothes and shoes,
and some furniture and a carpet or two. The flat was a microcosm of what Europe
will be after the Nazi conflagrations have passed through it, and have been
extinguished. Everything has to be restored. I am not going to speak tonight
of the terrible persecutions which the peoples of Europe have suffered. I am going
to deal with the economic aspects of the subject. Take, for instance, clothes and
shoes. I suppose that no such situation has ever been witnessed in the world before.
Certainly from Siberia to Ireland there are not enough textiles being produced
to meet the current demand, and the shelves are entirely bare of stocks.
It is indeed difficult for us to realize what the European scene really is behind
the curtain which separates us. For over four years the vampire of Nazi power has
battened on the blood of Europe. All sources of food and materials, of transport
and of communications have been twisted and distorted to feed the vampire, and
the last chapter of this dreadful story has not yet been written. If the Germans
retreat slowly they may scorch what is left. The problems of setting Europe into
any kind of shape will be enormous.
Facts and Figures
We ourselves have, of course, suffered not only from enemy attacks, but also
from the very severe and drastic measures to which we have voluntarily submitted
in order to produce our full weight in the war. And I think it is well to recapitulate
for a moment some of the striking facts and figures which tell our story.
First, imports and exports. Our total imports other than food have fallen
to less than 50 per cent, and those which go to civilian consumption to about 10
per cent, one-tenth of the pre-war average. At the same time our exports have
been drastically cut down as compared with what they were before the war. Now
here is a figure which you will find it difficult to believe, and I will repeat it to you
very slowly. Imports of raw materials, that is the raw materials for industry,
in 1943, were down to about 40 per cent of the average pre-war year, say 1938,
and yet the total industrial production of the United Kingdom was about 40
per cent higher than it was in 1938. I think this is the most striking testimonial
to the intensive work, the conservation of raw materials and the use of our home
grown products. It is a startling achievement.
Second, work. The total working hours of all British industry in a normal
working week have gone up by 25 per cent. This sounds rather a dull figure, but
The Transitional Period
it means that the man who was working eight hours a day, is now working ten
hours a day.
Third, mobilization. In this island, the base first of the defense and now of the
attack, there is no one who is not in some sense a soldier. Some are nearer the
front line than others. All men and women are in some sense soldiers. Only 35
per cent of our population is not in the Forces, or munition factories, or working
in some way for the Government, and this 35 per cent represents the whole of the
labor force which now maintains the civilian population and makes our few
remaining exports. It is a higher degree of mobilization than has been achieved
by any of our Allies, or by Germany herself, and I need hardly say the highest
degree of mobilization which has ever been reached in any country in any war at
Fourth, consumption. Less than half the total personal incomes of the country
were spent on consumption in 1943, compared with nearly three-quarters in 1938.
Before the war personal savings were 7 per cent of the national income. The figure
now is 20 per cent.
Controls After the War
There is no further mobilization, human or material, that we can undertake.
We have no reserves from which to draw and I mention this as showing that a
war economy will still be necessary to bring the greatest impact to bear in the war
against Japan, and for the further task of occupying Europe to maintain peace. It
is most important that we should begin to habituate ourselves to the feeling that
something of the same kind of regimented economy will be necessary. I have no
fears that the people of this country, who have fought in their history in every part
of the globe, will give way to a feeling of relaxation or holiday when Germany
is beaten. Imagine what would have happened if we had never been at war with
Germany, but now in 1944 we are about to take our true place beside our American
Allies in a war which they were already fighting with Japan. The psychological
effects upon us all, and we are all human, when the lights go up will be great.
No one will object to a holiday spirit for a few days. It mustn't be longer.
We are well on with our plans for new weapons which the vast distances and
amphibious nature of the operations in the Pacific demand. All have been studied,
.3ome are in production, others are ready for production, and a vast amount of
work has been done to prepare. We cannot, however, take all these plans to the
last letter of the alphabet until we are certain when the war with Germany will
be won, and when we can see where the great amphibious operations undertaken
by the Americans have carried them.
So to return to the transitional period. Our first aim must be to bring to bear
the maximum possible impact upon Japan, and that impact is governed by space
and by physical conditions. Everything that can be brought to bear will be brought
to bear, but great fleets have to have bases and floating docks and repair ships.
Aircraft have to have aerodromes and repair depots, and the mechanized Armies
of today require immense base installations. These cannot be quickly improvised,
and the scale of the war which we can carry to Japan will be governed by these
physical conditions and not by our wishes. Limitations are imposed upon us by
what we now call logistics. Consequently there will be some in the Armed Forces
and in the munitions industries who cannot be used either in the war against Japan
or for occupying Europe. This will mean that we shall have something to spare,
though it will be little enough, for civilian consumption, for export, and for the
relief of Europe.
Let me say again that we shall need continued control both of consumption and
British Speeches of the Day
of investment expenditure, to prevent inflation and the waste of scarce materials
and still scarcer labor.
Some speakers that I have heard have talked about the necessity for building
two million houses in the first year after the war with Germany, or it may have
been after the war with Japan, was over. Such a program would call for the work
of about three million men, which we have not got, and would absorb such a large
part of the national income that inflation would be not a fear but a certainty.
We shall have to continue to license building for some time so that the population
of the blitzed towns can be re-housed as quickly as possible, and so that there will
be homes waiting for our soldiers, and all this must be done before we can
indulge in any larger schemes of building for public purposes.
We may need, too, to continue Government purchases of imports to ensure
that we receive the most vital materials and goods at a time when shipping and
materials will still be in short supply. Even when this is becoming easier the
fact that we have sold more than 1,000 millions of our foreign invest ents may
make it impossible to pay for all that we should like, and we must concentrate
our reduced international balances upon the purchases of those things which are
of the most use to us in re-establishing our economy, and that of our friends.
THE RT. HON. WILLIAM MABANE
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food
At the Opening of a Lecture Course on International
Food Administration, May 22, 1944
This is an impressive occasion. ...
Twelve Allied Governments are represented. Representatives of the United
States Embassy, the Mission of Economic Affairs, the London Office of U.N.R.R.A.
and the British and American Civil Affairs Directorates are here, as well as the
Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. We also received a
request from the British Council of Voluntary Workers for Relief Abroad to take
part, and that organization now has with us this morning a number of field
A glance at the syllabus reveals the complexity of the problem with which any
food administrator in the modern world has to deal. There are to be twenty-nine
lectures and each is concerned with a matter of major importance and you have
not much time for each. Tomorrow morning, for example, you are invited to
dispose of "International Planning of Food Supplies and Distribution" in the
space of an hour and three-quarters.
While our experience is based on British conditions, the lectures have been
designed with special reference to the problems likely to be encountered in areas
liberated from enemy occupation. I suggest that fundamentally the principles
which have guided British food administration, tried and tested during nearly five
years of war, can be profitably applied wherever food administration has to be
undertaken. There need only be variations in the detailed application of those
The orderly and efficient administration and distribution of food supplies in
liberated areas is a matter of first-class importance to the nationals of those areas,
Problems of an International Food Administration
and to those who, during the process of liberation, will be charged with military
responsibility. Remember too that the Grand Alliance of the United Nations has
been formed in pursuit of a continuing purpose. We are all, in the words of St.
Paul, members of one another. We draw our food from a common pool. On all
of us therefore there is a duty to husband our resources economically.
We must each use our resources well in the interests of all. We in these
Islands are, and must remain, a great food importing country. We have not merely
got through but we have maintained our civilian population at a standard of
health far higher than any could have hoped on an importation far lower than
any would have believed possible.
There can be no doubt that this could not have been done had our food ad-
ministration not been orderly and efficient. It could not have been done had we
not been determined-and been able to carry our determination into effect-that
however thinly our butter might be spread it would be spread evenly.
Whatever we have had has gone into the common pool, and from that common
pool has gone out to all according to their needs. With no more than the most
minor and unimportant exceptions we can claim that there are no areas in this
country, no classes in this country, enjoying surpluses of food while others go short.
We have done all that is humanly possible to prevent food following money.
We have stamped on the black market with all the rigors of the law. Parliament
has provided, and the Courts have imposed, penalties for the abuse of food regu-
lations far heavier than any would have thought possible before the war began.
Fortunately those offenses are as rare as the punishments are exemplary.
Next, we have substantially overcome the problem that faces every food ad-
ministrator; that is to secure the willing surrender by the agricultural producer of
his surplus produce to the benefit of the urban population. It is impossible to
pay too high a tribute to the farmers and the fishermen for the manner in which
they have, for a patriotic purpose, altered their methods, adjusted their production,
to suit the program prepared by the Ministry of Food, and for the way in which
they have submitted to our often arduous requirements for the collection from
them of the produce when harvested.
I have ventured to make these observations because they are very relevant to
the problems with which you will be concerned. Distress, hunger, want are not
always the consequence of a deficiency in the total supplies of food. They are
often a consequence of mal-administration and mal-distribution.
Not once but many times, in the modern history of the world, populations
have gone hungry either because producers have been reluctant to surrender their
produce or because administrative inefficiency has prevented the collection and
equal distribution of the hard won harvest of the producers. These two problems
are indeed central in the task with which you will be faced.
Statistics, False and True
Many if not all countries will require at the outset, and probably for some
time ahead, supplies from outside their boundaries. Those of you who represent
countries to be liberated know, I think, full well that the generous impulse of the
people of the British Commonwealth of Nations, of the United States of America
and indeed of all of the United Nations will impel them to come to your aid.
When the war in Europe is over a heavy burden will lie mainly to be carried by
the British Commonwealth and the United States to conquer the Japanese. Yet at
the same time you will require, and you will receive, supplies from the United
British Speeches of the Day
Nations pool, but unless the two problems to which I have referred are tackled
with firmness and success you will not know either what you want or how much
On the one hand, you might be faced with a statistical table showing that of
this or that foodstuff you had sufficient in total for your needs, while on the other
hand the facts before you might reveal that there were many in your countries
seriously deficient of the very foodstuffs for which your statistics, at once truthful
and lying, showed you to have enough.
Please acquit me of any desire to boast. The Ministry of Food has had long
experience. When, for example, we look at the figures of our bacon supplies and
we see that those figures are sufficient to provide 4 ozs. of bacon for every civilian
in these Islands, we know at the same time that every civilian will get the 4 ozs.
I have asked you to acquit me of any desire to boast for I want to make it
plain that our problem has, in many respects, been easier than the problem would
have been in almost every other country in the world. We have, for example, a
far smaller percentage of our population engaged in food production than in
many countries, thus the problem of securing from the agricultural producer his
produce has been simpler.
A high proportion of our major foodstuffs are imported. That fact has enabled
us to take these supplies into our direct control at the moment they enter the
country and the experience of the Ministry of Food convinces us that the efficient
control of the distribution of any foodstuff depends substantially on being able to
pass that foodstuff at some point through a bottle-neck.
A Blessed Word
The word "bottle-neck" is in disrepute. It is commonly a term of abuse.. It
has often occurred to me that it would be an interesting exercise to write an essay
in defense of the bottle-neck. Claret is precious. To pour it from a bowl into a
beaker is an unsatisfactory proceeding. Hats off to the man who invented the
bottle-neck to save this precious liquor!
And when we can similarly pass foodstuffs through a bottle-neck we are able
to secure that the flow is where we want it to be. Without the bottle-neck there
is a good deal of spilling over. As I say your difficulties in many respects are
likely to be greater than ours but you will certainly be able to bottle-neck your
imported supplies and if you can secure similar control of locally grown produce
you will be in a much better position.
Planned Consumption, Planned Production
This is the more important for undoubtedly the supplies available will be less
than any would wish. For that reason it will be necessary to concentrate attention
on two other matters I would like to mention.
The first matter is nutritional. With limited supplies it becomes very much
more important that the dietetic value of all foods should be most carefully con-
sidered. The science of dietetics has made great strides in the last decade or two.
Minimum rations are not now fixed in a slap-dash fashion. Dietetic knowledge
enables the scientist to determine a ration which may appear to be much smaller
than any would think adequate but yet which provides nutritional sufficiency. Sir
Jack Drummond, of whom we at the Ministry of Food are very proud, will be
talking to you on dietetics and what he rightly calls the fundamentals of nutrition.
The supplies available may mean that some will have to be asked to change
their food habits. We have so persuaded people here. It can, I am confident, be
Foreign Affairs 37
done elsewhere. It cannot be done without effort or without publicity. That is
why I am glad, and I hope you are glad, that Mr. Shelton-Smith, our very able
Director of Public Relations, is to talk to you about publicity.
The second matter is the increase of domestic production in liberated areas.
You all, I am sure, are aware of the importance of increasing production. It is
no less important that production should be increased in the right direction and
degree. Producers must work to a program.
In this country the Ministry of Food is the customer of the Ministry of Agri-
culture. Sir Jack Drummond and his colleagues tell us what are our total needs.
We then ask the Agricultural Departments to produce as large a proportion as
we think practicable and we plan to import the balance. The Agricultural Depart-
ments co-operate to the full and in consequence every farmer in this country, al-
though he may not be fully aware of it, is ploughing his land, sowing his seed,
taking his harvest to a nutritional pattern. He is, as it were, like the trombonist
of whom it is said that, tired of contributing his unmelodic "poops," asked for a
night off which he employed in listening to the orchestra, and was astonished to
hear the melody.
RT. HON. WINSTON CHURCHILL
House of Commons, May 24, 1944
The meeting of Dominion Prime Ministers, which covered the best part of
three weeks, has now concluded, and very full statements to Parliament and the
public have been made, individually by the Prime Ministers themselves, and
collectively by the declaration to which we have all subscribed. I could not pretend
that we have arrived at hard and fast conclusions, or precise decisions upon all
the questions which torment this afflicted globe, but it can fairly be said that, having
discussed a great many of them, there was revealed a core of agreement which will
enable the British Empire and Commonwealth to meet in discussion with other
great organisms in the world in a firmly-knit array. We have advanced from vague
generalities to more precise points of agreement, and we are in a position to carry
on discussions with other countries, within the limits which we have imposed upon
Object of Foreign Policy in Wartime
But this is a Debate upon Foreign Affairs, and nothing was more remarkable
than the cordial agreement which was expressed by every one of the Dominion
Prime Ministers on the general conduct of our Foreign Affairs and on the principles
which govern that conduct, nor, I should add, on the skill and consistency with
which they have been treated by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. The
utmost confidence was expressed in him and in his handling of all those very difficult
affairs, in spite of the complications by which they are surrounded, and, in spite
of the need for prompt action which so often arises-for prompt action by the
Mother Country before there is time to have full consultation. In spite of all
these difficulties, the fullest confidence and pleasure was expressed in the work
which my right hon. Friend has done. We therefore embark upon the present
Debate with the backing of their goodwill from all these representatives of the
Commonwealth and Empire-the word "Empire" is permitted to be used, which
British Speeches of the Day
may be a great shock to certain strains of intellectual opinion. And we embark
upon the present Debate not only with this backing of hearty goodwill, but with
the feeling that this meeting of Prime Ministers from all over the Empire and the
representatives of India in the midst of a second deadly war is in fact the highest
pinnacle to which our world-wide family association has yet reached. At this time,
in policy and in war, our objective is the same, namely, to beat the enem3 as soon
as possible; and I am not aware of any action or of any studied inaction for which
His Majesty's Government are responsible that has not been directly related to that
single and dominant purpose.
The duty of all persons responsible for the conduct of Foreign Affairs in a
world war of this deadly character and of all who, in different ways, exercise
influence is to help the fighting men to perform the heavy tasks entrusted to them
and to ensure them all possible ease in execution and advantage in victory Every-
one in a position to guide public opinion, like Members of this House or of another
place, or newspaper editors, broadcasters, calumnists-or columnists-I remember
a tendency to throw the accent forward-and others-all of these should keep this
very clear duty before their eyes. They should always think of the soldier in the
battle and ask themselves whether what they say or write will make his task easier
or harder. We long for the. day to come when this slaughter will be over and
then this additional restraint which imposes itself on every conscientious man in
wartime can be relaxed or will vanish away entirely.
I must make my acknowledgments, first of all, to the very great degree with
which these precepts are followed among those who accept the task of guiding
public opinion, and especially in the House of Commons, which is always so
careful of the public interest and which in other ways has shown itself to be
possessed of those steadfast and unyielding qualities in the face of danger and
fatigue for which it has always been renowned, but never more renowned than
now. I shall try to practise what I have been preaching in the remarks I have
to make, and I am sure the Committee will remember how many different audiences
I have to address at the same moment, not only here but out of doors and not only
in this Island, but throughout the Empire, not only among our Allies, great and
small, west or east, but finally, among our enemies, besides, of course, satellites
and neutrals of various hues. I must, therefore, pick my way among heated
ploughshares, and in this ordeal the only guides are singleness and simplicity of
purpose and a good or, at any rate, a well trained conscience.
The Case of Turkey
Since I last spoke here on Foreign Affairs, just about three months ago, almost
all the purposes which I mentioned to you have prospered, severally and collectively.
First of all, let us survey the Mediterranean and the Balkan spheres. The great
disappointment which I had last October, when I was not able to procure the
necessary forces for gaining the command of the Aegean Sea following upon
the collapse of Italy and gaining possession of the principal Italian islands, has,
of course, been accompanied by an exaggerated attitude of caution on the part of
Turkey. The hopes we cherished of Turkey boldly entering the war in February
or March, or at least according us the necessary bases for air action-those hopes
faded. After giving 20,000,000 worth of British and American arms to Turkey
in 1943 alone, we have suspended the process and ceased to exhort Turkey to
range herself with the victorious United Powers, with whom she has freq ently
declared that her sympathies lie, and with whom, I think, there is no doubt that
her sympathies do lie. The Turks at the end of last year and the beginning of
this year, magnified their .dangers. Their military men took the gloomiest view
of Russian prospects in South Russia and in the Crimea.
They never dreamed that by the early Summer, the Red Army would be on the
slopes of the Carpathians, drawn up along the Pruth and Serret Rivers, or that
Odessa and Sevastopol would have been liberated and regained by the extraordi-
nary valor, might and energy of the Soviet onslaught. Consequently the Turks did
not measure with sufficient accuracy what might have occurred, or would occur, in
Rumania and Bulgaria or, I may add, Hungary, what would be the result on all
those countries of these tremendous Russian hammer blows struck, even in months
which are particularly unsuitable for operations in these regions and which normally
would be devoted to the process of replenishing the advancing front for future
action. Having overrated their dangers, our Turkish friends increased their
demands for supplies to such a point that, having regard to the means of com-
munication and transport alone, the war would probably be over before these
supplies, could reach them.
We have, therefore, with great regret, discontinued the process of arming Tur-
key because it looks probable that, in spite of our disappointment in the Aegean,
the great Allies will be able to win the war in the Balkans and generally throughout
Southeastern Europe without Turkey being involved now at all, though, of course,
the aid of Turkey would be a great help and acceleration of that process. This,
of course, is a decision for Turkey to take. We have put no pressure upon them,
other than the pressure of argument and of not giving the supplies we need for
ourselves and other nations that are fighting. But the course which is being taken,
and has been taken so far, by Turkey will not, in my view, procure for the Turks
the strong position at the peace which would attend their joining the Allies.
I must, however, note the good service and significant gesture rendered to us
by the Turkish Government quite recently, and it is said that it has been rendered
to us on the personal initiative of Turkey's honored President, General Inonu,
namely the complete cessation of all chrome exports to Germany. It is not too
much to expect that the assistance given us in respect of chrome will also shortly
be extended to cover other commodities, the export of which, even if of less
importance than chrome, is of material assistance to the enemy. If so, we shall
endeavor to compensate the Turkish people for the sacrifice which their co-operative
action might entail by other means of importation.
I thought it right to speak bluntly. Turkey and Britain have a long history.
They entered into relations with us before the war when things looked very black.
They did their best through difficult times. I have thought it better to put things
bluntly today, but I cannot conclude, notwithstanding anything I have said in
criticism, without saying that we hope with increasing confidence that a still better
day will dawn for the relations of Turkey with Britain and, indeed, with all the
great Allies. Always in recent decades there has been in the Mediterranean a certain
tension between Turkey and Italy on account of Italian ambitions in the Greek
Islands and, also, possibly in the Adana Province of Turkey. The Turks could
never be sure which way the Italian dictator would turn his would-be conquering
sword. On that score Turkish anxiety has certainly been largely removed.
The Fate of Italy
The fate of Italy is indeed terrible, and I personally find it very difficult to
nourish animosity against the Italian people. The overwhelming mass of the
nation rejoiced in the idea of being delivered from the subtle tyranny of the
Fascists, and they wished, when Mussolini was overthrown, to take their place
as speedily as possible by the side of the British and American armies who, it was
expected, would quickly rid the country of the Germans. However, this did not
happen. All the Italian forces which could have defended Italy had either been
squandered by Mussolini in the African desert or by Hitler amid the Russian
British Speeches of the Day
snows, or they were widely dispersed combatting, in a halfhearted way, tl e patriots
of Yugoslavia. Hitler decided to make great exertions to retain Italy, just as he
has decided to make great exertions to gain the mighty battle which is at the
moment at its climax to the south of Rome. It may be that after the fall of
Mussolini our action might have been more swift and audacious. As I have said
before, it is no part of my submission to the House that no mistakes are made by
us or by the common action of our Allies; but, anyhow, here is this beautiful
country suffering: the worst horrors of war, with the larger part still in the cruel
and vengeful grip of the Nazis, and with a hideous prospect of the red-hot rake of
the battle-line being drawn from sea to sea right up the whole length of the
The Italian Government
It is clear that the Germans will be driven out of Italy by the Allies, but what
will happen on the moving battle fronts and what the Germans will do on their
way out in the way of destruction to a people they hate and despise, and who,
they allege, have betrayed them, cannot be imagined or forecast. All I can say
is that we shall do our utmost to make the ordeal as short and as little destructive as
possible. We have great hopes that the city of Rome may be preserved from the
area of struggle of our armies. The House will recall that when I last spoke on
foreign matters I expressed the view that it would be best that King Victor
Emmanuel, and above all Marshal Badoglio, should remain at the head of the
Executive of the Italian nation and Armed Forces until we reached Rome, when it
was agreed by all that a general review of the position must be made.
Such a policy naturally entailed differences of opinion which were reflected not
only among the Allied Governments but inside every Allied country. However, I
am happy to say that after various unexpected happenings and many twists and
turns the situation is now exactly what I ventured to suggest and as I described
it to the House three months ago. In addition, far beyond my hopes, an Italian
Government has been formed, of a broadly based character, around the King and
Badoglio, and the King himself has decided that on the capture of Rome he will
retire into private life forever and transfer his constitutional functions to his
eldest son, the Prince of Piedmont, with the title of Lieutenant of the Realm.
I have good confidence in this new Italian Government which has been formed.
It will require further strengthening and broadening, especially as we come more
closely into touch with the populous industrial areas of the North-that is essential
-but, at any rate, it is facing its responsibilities manfully and doing all in its
power to aid the Allies in their advance. Here I may say we are doing our best to
equip the Italian forces, who are eager to fight with us and not in the power of
the Germans. They have played their part in the line on more than one occasion.
Their fleet is discharging a most useful and important service for us not only in the
Mediterranean but in the Atlantic; and the loyal Italian Air Force has also fought
so well that I am making special efforts to supply them with improved aircraft
of British manufacture. We are also doing our best to assist the Italian Government
to grapple with the difficult financial and economic conditions which 'they inherited
from Fascism and the war and which, though improving, are still severe behind the
line of the Army. It is understood throughout Italy, and it is the firm intention
of the United Nations, that Italy, like all other countries which are now associated
with us, shall have a fair and free opportunity, as soon as the Germans are driven
out and tranquility is restored, of deciding whatever form of democratic Govern-
ment, whether monarchical or republican, they desire. They can choose freely for
themselves. I emphasize, however, the word "democratic," because it is quite clear
that we should not allow any form of Fascism to be restored or set up in any
country with whom we have been at war.
The Case of Spain
From Italy one turns naturally to Spain, once the most famous Empire in the
world and down to this day a strong community in a wide land, with a marked
personality and distinguished culture among the nations of Europe. Some people
think that our foreign policy towards Spain is best expressed by drawing comical
or even rude caricatures of General Franco; but I think there is more to it than
that. When our present Ambassador to Spain, the right hon. Gentleman the
Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), went to Madrid almost exactly four years
ago to a month, we arranged to keep his airplane waiting on the airfield, as it
seemed almost certain that Spain, whose dominant party were under the influence
of Germany because Germany had helped them so vigorously in the recently-
ended civil war, would follow the example of Italy and join the victorious
Germans in the war against Great Britain. Indeed, at this time the Germans
proposed to the Spanish Government that triumphal marches of German troops
should be held in the principal Spanish cities, and I have no doubt that they
suggested to them that the Germans would undertake, in return for the virtual
occupation of their country, the seizure of Gibraltar, which would then be handed
back to a Germanized Spain. This last feature would have been easier said than
There is no doubf that if Spain had yielded to German blandishments and
pressure at that juncture our burden would have been much heavier. The Straits
of Gibraltar would have been closed and all access to Malta would have been cut
off from the west. All the Spanish coast would have become the nesting place of
German U-boats. I certainly did not feel at the time that I should like to see any
of those things happen and none of them did happen. Our Ambassador deserves
credit for the influence he rapidly acquired and which continually grew. In his
work he was assisted by a gifted man, Mr. Yencken, whose sudden death by
airplane accident is a loss which I am sure has been noted by the House. But
the main credit is undoubtedly due to the Spanish resolve to keep out of the war.
They had had enough of war and they wished to keep out of it. [An HON.
MEMBER: That is a matter of opinion.] Yes, I think so, and that is why my
main principle of beating the enemy as soon as possible should be steadily followed.
But they had had enough, and I think some of the sentiment may have been due
to the fact that, Jooking back, the Spanish people, who are a people who do look
back, could remember that Britain had helped Spain to free herself from the
Napoleonic tyranny of 130 years ago. At any rate the critical moment passed; the
Battle of Britain was won; the Island power which was expected to be ruined and
subjugated in a few months was seen that very winter not only intact and far
stronger in the homeland but also advancing by giant strides, under Wavell's
guidance, along the African shore, taking perhaps a quarter of a million Italian
prisoners on the way.
But another very serious crisis occurred in our relations with Spain before the
operation designated "Torch," that is to say the descent of the United States and
British forces upon North-West Africa, was begun. Before that operation was begun
Spain's power to injure us was at its very highest. For a long time before this
we had been steadily extending our airfield at Gibraltar and building it out into
the sea, and for a month before zero hour, on 7th November, 1942, we had
sometimes 600 airplanes crowded on this airfield in full range and in full view of
the Spanish batteries. It was very difficult for the Spaniards to believe that these
airplanes were intended to reinforce Malta, and I can assure the House that the
passage of those critical days was very anxious indeed. However, the Spaniards
continued absolutely friendly and tranquil. They asked no questions, they raised
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If, in some directions, they have taken an indulgent view of German Uboats
in distress, or continued active exportations to Germany, they made amends on this
occasion, in my view, so far as our advantage was concerned, for these irregularities
by completely ignoring the situation at Gibraltar, where, apart from aircraft,
enormous numbers of ships were anchored far outside the neutral waters inside
the Bay of Algeciras, always under the command of Spanish shore guns. We
should have suffered the greatest inconvenience if we had been ordered to move
those ships. Indeed, I do not know how the vast convoys would have been
marshaled and assembled. I must say that I shall always consider a service was
rendered at this time by Spain, not only to the United Kingdom and to the British
Empire and Commonwealth, but to the cause of the United Nations. I ha e, there-
fore, no sympathy with those who think it clever, and even funny, to insult and
abuse the Government of Spain whenever occasion serves.
I have had the responsibility of guiding the Government while we have passed
through mortal perils, and, therefore, I think I have some means of forming a
correct judgment about the values of events at critical moments as thty occur.
I am very glad now that, after prolonged negotiations, a still better arrangement
has been made with Spain, which deals in a satisfactory manner with the Italian
ships which have taken refuge in Spanish harbors, and has led to the hauling down
of the German flag in Tangier and the breaking of the shield over the Consulate,
and which will, in a few days, be followed by the complete departure of the
German representatives from Tangier, although they apparently still remain in
Dublin. Finally, it has led to the agreement about Spanish wolfram, which has
been reached without any affront to Spanish dignity, and has reduced the export of
wolfram from Spain to Germany during the coming critical months to a few
lorry-loads a month.
It is true that this agreement has been helped by the continuous victories of the
Allies in many parts of the world, and especially in North Africa and Itly, and
also by the immense threat by which the Germans conceive themselves to be
menaced, by all this talk of an invasion across the Channel. This, for what it is
worth, has made it quite impossible for Hitler to consider reprisals on Spain. All
his troops have had to be moved away from the frontier, and he has no inclina-
tion to face bitter guerrilla warfare, because he has got quite enough to satisfy
himself in so many other countries which he is holding down by brute force.
As I am here today speaking kindly words about Spain, let me add that I
hope she will be a strong influence for the peace of the Mediterranean after the
war. Internal political problems in Spain are a matter for the Spaniards themselves.
It is not for us-that is the Government-to meddle in such affairs-
[MR. SHINWELL (Seaham): Why then in Italy? My right hon. Friend did
remark, as regards the restoration of the Government in Italy, that it could not be
Fascist. That was his declaration. Why not in Spain?)
The reason is that Italy attacked us. We were at war with Italy. We struck
Italy down. My hon. Friend, I am sure, will see that a very clear line of distinction
can be drawn between nations we go to war with, and nations who leave us alone.
[DR. HADEN GUEST (Islington, North): Is not a Fascist Government
anywhere, a preparation for an attack?]
I presume we do not include in our program of world renovation any forcible
action against any Government whose internal form of administration does not
come up to our own ideas, and any remarks I have made on that subject referred
only to enemy Powers and their satellites who will have been struck down by
force of arms. They are the ones who have ventured into the open and they
are the ones whom we shall not allow to become, again, the expression of those
peculiar doctrines associated with Fascism and Nazism, which have, undoubtedly,
brought about the terrible struggle in which we are engaged. Surely, anyone could
see the difference between the one and the other. There is all the difference in the
world between a man who knocks you down and a man who leaves you alone. You
may, conceivably, take an active interest in what happens to the former in case his
inclination should recur, but we pass many people in the ordinary daily round
of life about whose internal affairs and private quarrels we do not feel ourselves
called upon to make continued inquiry.
Well, I say we speak the same words to the Spaniards in the hour of our
strength as we did in the hour of our weakness. I look forward to increasingly
good relations with Spain and to an extremely fertile trade between Spain and
this country which will, I trust, grow even during the war and will expand after
the peace. The iron from Bilbao and the North of Spain is of great value to this
country both in war and peace. Our Ambassador now goes back to Spain for
further important duties, and I have no doubt he goes with the good wishes of
the large majority of the House and of all thoughtful and unprejudiced persons.
I am sure that no one more than my hon. Friend opposite would wish that he
should be successful in any work for the common cause. My hon. Friend has been
often a vigiliant and severe critic of His Majesty's Government, but as a real
Opposition figure he has failed, because he never can conceal his satisfaction when
we win-and we sometimes do.
The Case of Greece
I am happy to announce a hopeful turn in Greek affairs. When I spoke last
on this I described them as the saddest case of all. We have passed through a
crisis of a serious character since then. A Greek brigade and a large proportion of
the Greek Navy mutinied, declaring themselves, in one way or other, on the side
of the organization called E.A.M., the Greek freedom movement, and, of course,
against the King and his Government. The King of Greece, who was in London,
was advised by nearly everyone concerned in Cairo not to go back and warned that
his life would be in danger. He returned the next day. The situation was then
most serious. The Greek brigade was encircled by British forces some thirty miles
away from Alexandria, and the Greek ships which had mutinied in Alexandria
harbor were lying under the guns both of the shore batteries and of our superior
naval forces which had rapidly gathered. This tension lasted for nearly three weeks.
In due course the mutinies in the Fleet were suppressed. The disorderly ships
were boarded by Greeks, under the orders of the Greek Government, and, with
about fifty killed and wounded, the mutineers were collected and sent ashore. The
mutinous brigade in the desert was assaulted by superior British forces, which
captured the eminences commanding the camp, and the 4,000 men there sur-
rendered. There were no casualties among the Greeks, but one British officer was
killed in the attack upon the eminences. This is a matter which cannot be over-
looked. The greatest patience and tact were shown by the British military and
naval authorities involved, and, for some weeks past, order has been firmly estab-
lished and the Greek forces who were misled into evil deeds by subversive move-
ments have been interned for the time being.
The then Prime Minister, M. Tsouderos, had already tried, before these things
happened, to arrange a meeting of all representatives of Greek opinion and to
construct his administration so as to include them. He acquitted himself with
dignity and was helped by M. Venizelos, the son of the great Vinizelos whom we
all esteemed so highly in the first world war. At this moment there emerged upon
the scene M. Papandreou, a man greatly respected, who had lived throughout the
war in Athens and was known as a man of remarkable character and one who
British Speeches of the Day
would not be swayed by party interests, his own party being a very small one. M.
Papandreou became the King's new Prime Minister, but before forming his Gov-
ernment he called a conference which met last week in the Lebanon. Every party
in Greek life was represented there, including E.A.M., the Communists ind others
-a dozen parties or more. The fullest debate took place and all expressed their
This disclosed an appalling situation in Greece. The excesses of E.L.A.S.,
which is the military body operating under E.A.M., had so alienated the popula-
tion in many parts that the Germans had been able to form security battalions of
Greeks to fight the E.A.M. These security battalions were made up of men, in
many cases, who would far rather have been out in the hills maintaining the
guerrilla warfare. They had been completely alienated. At the same time, the state
of hostility and suspicion which led last autumn to an actual civil war, existed
between E.A.M. and the other resistance organizations, especially the E.D.E.S.
under Colonel Zervas, a leader who commands the undivided support of the
civilian population in his area and has always shown the strictest compliance with
the orders sent him from G.H.Q., Middle East, under whom all his forces have
been placed. Thus it seemed to be a question of all against all, and no one but
the Germans rejoicing.
After prolonged discussion complete unity was reached at the Lebanon Con-
ference and all parties will be represented in the new Government which will
devote itself to what is after all the only purpose worthy of consideration, namely
the forming of a national army in which all the guerrilla bands will be incorporated
and the driving, with this army, of the enemy from the country or, better still,
destroying the enemy where he stands.
On Monday there was published in the newspapers the very agreeable letter
which I received from the leaders of the Communists-that is more than I have
ever received from the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) ; perhaps he
might write me one, to tell me that he confirms it-and the extreme Left wing
party. There is published today in the papers the letter I have received from
M. Papandreou, and another one to my right hon. Friend expressing the hopes
which he has for the future of his Government, and thanks for the assistance we
have given in getting round these troubles-what I call the diseases of defeat
which Greece has now a chance of shaking off. I believe that the present situation
-I hope and pray that it may be so-indicates that a new and fair start will come
to Greece in her struggle to cleanse her native soil from the foreign invader. I
have, therefore, to report to the House that a very marked and beneficial change
has occurred in the situation in Greece, which is more than I could say when I
last spoke upon this subject. There was trouble with the destroyer we were
giving the Greeks here, and while matters remained so uncertain, we were not
able to hand her over, but I have been in correspondence with the Admiralty, and
I hope that as a result of this reconstructecdgovernment, and the new start that has
been made, this ship will soon be manned and go to strengthen the Greek Navy
as it returns to discipline and duty.
The Case of Yugoslavia
I gave some lengthy account last time of the position in Yugoslavia and of our
relations with the different jurisdictions there. The difficulty and magnitude of
this business are very great, and it must be remembered that not only three strongly
marked races-the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes-are involved but, further south,
the Albanians are also making a bold bid for freedom from German rule. But
they, too, at the present time are split into several competing and even antago-
nistic groups. Nothing is easier than to espouse any one of the various causes in
these different countries, with all their claims and counter-claims, and one can
find complete satisfaction in telling the tale from that particular standpoint. The
best and easiest kind of speech to make is to take a particluar cause and run it
home on a single-track mind without any consideration of anything else, but we
have to think of policy as well as oratory, and we have to think of the problem
as a whole, and also to relate our action to the main purpose which I proclaimed
at the beginning of my speech, namely, beating the enemy as soon as possible and
to gather all forces for that purpose in priority to any other purpose.
I can only tell the Committee today the further positions which have been
reached in Yugoslavia as the result of the unremitting exertions of our foreign
policy. They are, in my opinion, far more satisfactory than they were. I have
received a message from King Peter that he has accepted the resignation of Mr.
Puric and his Cabinet and is in process of forming a new and smaller Cabinet
with the purpose of assisting active resistance in Yugoslavia and of uniting as
far as possible all fighting elements in the country. I understand that this process
of forming the new Government, involves the severance from the Royal Yugoslav
Government of General Mihailovitch in his capacity as Minister of War. I under-
stand also that the Ban of Croatia is an important factor in the new political
arrangements, around whom, or beside whom certain other elements may group
themselves for the purpose of beating the enemy and uniting Yugoslavia. This,
of course, has the support of His Majesty's Government. We do not know what
will happen in the Serbian part of Yugoslavia.
The reason why we have ceased to supply Mihailovitch with arms and sup-
port is a simple one. He has not been fighting the enemy and, moreover, some
of his subordinates have made accommodations with the enemy from which have
arisen armed conflicts with the forces of Marshal Tito, accompanied by many
charges and counter-charges, and the loss of patriot lives to the German advan-
tage. Mihailovitch certainly holds a powerful position locally as Commander-in-
Chief, and it does not mean that his ceasing to be Minister of War will rob him
of his local influence. We cannot predict what he will do or what will happen.
We have proclaimed ourselves the strong supporters of Marshal Tito because of
his heroic and massive struggle against the German armies. We are sending, and
planning to send, the largest possible supplies of weapons to him and to make
the closest contacts with him. I had the advantage on Monday of a long conversa-
tion with General Velebit who has been over here on a military mission from
Marshal Tito, and it has been arranged among other things that Marshal Tito shall
send here a personal military representative in order that we may be kept in the
closest touch with all that is being done and with the effect of it in Yugoslavia.
This is, of course, additional to the contacts established with Marshal Tito at
General Wilson's headquarters in Algiers and will, of course, be co-ordinated
The Serbian Peasants
It must be remembered, however, that this question does not turn on Mihailo-
vitch alone; there is also a very large body, amounting to perhaps 200,000, of
Serbian peasant proprietors who are anti-German but strongly Serbian and who
naturally hold the views of a peasant ownership community in regard to prop-
erty, less enthusiastic in regard to communism than some of those in Croatia or
Slovenia. Marshal Tito has largely sunk his communist aspect in his character as
a Yugoslav patriot leader. He repeatedly proclaims he has no intention of reversing
the property and social systems which prevail in Serbia, but these facts are not
accepted yet by the other side. The Serbians are a race with an historic past; it
46 British Speeches of the Day
was from Serbia came the spark which fired the explosion of the first world war.
We remember their historic retreat over the mountains. A very large number of
Serbians are fighting with Marshal Tito's forces. Our object is that all forces in
Yugoslavia, and the whole united strength of Serbia, may be made to work
together under the military direction of Marshal Tito for a united, independent
Yugoslavia which will expel from native soil the Hitlerite murderers and invaders,
and destroy them until not one remains. The cruelties and atrocities of the Ger-
mans in Greece and in Yugoslavia exceed anything that we have heard, and we
have heard terrible things, but the resistance of these historic mountaineers has
been one of the most splendid features of the war. It will long be honored
in history, and I am sure that children will read the romance of this struggle and'
will have imprinted on their minds that love of freedom, that readiness to give
away life and comfort, and all there is around one, in order to gain the right to
live unmolested on your native heath.
All I can say is that we must be given a little reasonable latitude to work to-
gether for this union. It would be quite easy, as I said just now, to take whole-
heartedly one side or the other. I have made it very plain where my sympathies
lie, but nothing would give greater pleasure to the Germans than to see all
these hearty moutaineers engaged in intestine strife against one another. We can-
not afford at this crisis to neglect anything which may obstruct a real unity through-
out wide regions in which at present upwards of twelve German divisions are
gripped in Yugoslavia alone and twenty in all-that is another eight in the Bal-
kans and the Aegean Islands. All eyes must be turned upon the common foe.
Perhaps we have-had some success in this direction in Greece. At any rate it sums
up our policy towards Yugoslavia, and the House will note that all questions of
monarchy or republic or Leftism or Rightism are strictly subordinate to the main
purpose which we have in mind. In one place we support a king, in another a
Communist-there is no attempt by us to enforce particular ideologies. We only
want to beat the enemy and then, with a happy and serene peace, let the best ex-
pression be given to the will of the people in every way.
The Russo-Polish Case
For a long time past the Foreign Secretary and I have labored with all our
strength to try to bring about a resumption of relations between the Soviet Gov-
ernment and the Polish Government which we recognize. Which we have always
recognized since the days of General Sikorski. We were conscious of the difficulty
of our task and some may say we should have been wiser not to attempt it. Well,
we cannot accept that view. We are the Ally of both countries. We went to war
because Germany made an unprovoked attack upon our Ally, Poland. We have
signed a twenty years' Treaty with our Ally, the Soviet Union, and this Treaty
is the foundation of our policy. Polish forces are fighting with our armies and
have recently distinguished themselves remarkably well. Polish forces under Rus-
sian guidance are also fighting with the Soviet army against the common enemy.
Our effort to bring about a renewal of relations between the Polish Govern-
ment and Russia in London has not succeeded. We deeply regret that fact, and
we must take care to say nothing that would make agreement more difficult in the
future. I must repeat that the essential part of any arrangement is regulation of
the Polish eastern frontier, and that, in return for any withdrawal made by Poland
in that quarter, she should receive other territories at the expense of Germany,
which will give her an ample seaboard and a good, adequate and reasonable home-
land in which the Polish nation may safely dwell. We must trust that, when we all
engage in the struggle with the common foe, when nothing can surpass the bravery
of our Polish Allies in Italy and daily on the sea, and in the air, and in the heroic
resistance of the underground movement to the Germans. I have seen here men
who came a few days ago out of Poland, who told me about it, and who are in
relation with, and under the orders of, the present Polish Government in Lon-
don. They are most anxious that this underground movement should not clash
with the advancing Russian Army, but should help it, and orders have been sent
by the Polish Government in London that the underground movement is to help
the Russian A)rmies in as many ways as possible. There are many ways possible
in which guerrillas can be successful, and we must trust that statesmanship will
yet find some way through.
I have the impression-and it is no more than an impression-that things are
not so bad as they may appear on the surface between Russia and Poland. I
need not say that we-and I think I may certainly add, the United States-would
welcome any arrangement between Russia and Poland, however it was brought
about, whether directly between the Powers concerned, or with the help of His
Majesty's Government, or any other Government. There is no question of pride
on our part, only of sincere goodwill to both, and earnest and anxious aspirations
to a solution of problems fraught with grave consequences to Europe and the
harmony of the Grand Alliance. In the meantime, our relations, both with the
Polish and the Soviet Governments, remain regulated by the public statements
which have been made and repeated from time to time from this bench during
the present war. There I leave this question, and I trust that if it is dealt with in
Debate those who deal with it will always consider what we want, namely, the
united action of all Poles, with all Russians, against all Germans.
The French National Committee
We have to rejoice at the brilliant and skilful fighting of the French Moroccan
and Algerian Divisions, and the brilliant leading they have had by their officers
in the heart-shaking battle to which I have referred, and which is now at its
climax. The French Committee of National Liberation, in Algiers, has the credit
of having prepared these troops, which were armed and equipped by the United
States under President Roosevelt's personal decision. The French Committee also
places at the full service of the Allies, a powerful Navy including, in the Richelieu,
one of the finest battleships in the world. They guide and govern a vast Empire,
all of whose strategic points are freely placed at the disposal of the United Nations.
They have a numerous and powerful underground army in France, sometimes
called the Maquis, and sometimes the French Army of the Interior, which may
be called upon to play an important part before the end of the war.
There is no doubt that this political entity, the French Committee of National
Liberation, presides over, and directs, forces at the present time which, in the
struggle against Hitler in Europe, give it the fourth place in the Grand Alliance.
The reason why the United States and Great Britain has not been able to recog-
nize it yet as the Government of France, or even as the Provisional Government
of France, is because we are not sure that it represents the French nation in the
same way as the Governments of Britain, the United States and Soviet Russia
represent the whole body of their people. The Committee will, of course, exercise
the leadership to establish law and order in the liberated areas of France under the
supervision, while the military exigency lasts, of the supreme Allied Commander,
but we do not wish to commit ourselves at this stage to imposing the Government
of the French Committee upon all of France which might fall under our con-
trol without more knowledge than we now possess of the situation in the interior
of France. At the same time I must make it clear that we shall have no dealings
with the Vichy Government, or any one tainted with that association because they
have decided to follow the path of collaboration with our enemies. Many of
them have definitely desired, and worked for, a German victory.
British Speeches of the Day
In Norway and the Low Countries it is different. If we go there we shall find
that continuity of lawful government is maintained by the Governments which
we recognize, and with which we are in intimate relations. The Governments
of King Haakon and Queen Wilhelmina are the lawfully founded Governments of
those States, with perfect and unbroken continuity, and should our liberating
Armies enter those countries we feel we should deal with them and also, as far
as possible, with the Belgian and Danish Governments, although their Sovereigns
are prisoners, but with whose countries we have the closest ties. On the other hand,
we are not able to take a decision at this time to treat the Flench Committee of
National Liberation, or the French Provisional Government, as it has bten called,
as the full, final, and lawful embodiment of the French Republic. It may be
that the Committee itself may be able to aid us in the solution of th se riddles
and I must say that I think their decree governing their future action constitutes
a most forceful and helpful step in that direction. With the full approval of the
President of the United States I have invited General de Gaulle to pay us a visit
over here in the near future and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has
just showed me a telegram from Mr. Duff Cooper, in Algiers, saying that he will
be very glad to come. There is nothing like talking things over, and seeing where
we can get to. I hope he will bring some members of his Government with him
so that the whole matter can be reviewed.
The Disappearing Ideologies
As this war has progressed, it has become less ideological in its character, in
my opinion. The Fascist power in Italy has been overthrown and will, in a reason-
able period of time, be completely expunged, mainly by the Italian democracy
themselves. If there is anything left over for the future we will look after it. Pro-
found changes have taken place in Soviet Russia, the Trotskyite form of Commun-
ism has been completely wiped out. The victories of the Russian Armies have been
attended by a great rise in the strength of the Russian State, and a remarkable
broadening of its views. The religious side of Russian life has had a wonderful
rebirth. The discipline and military etiquette of the Russian Armies are unsur-
passed. . There is a new National Anthem, the music of which Premier
Stalin sent me, which I asked the B.B.C. to play on the frequent occasions when
there are great Russian victories to celebrate. The terms offered by Russia to
Rumania make no suggestion of altering the standards of society in that country
and were in many respects, if not in all, remarkably generous. Russia has been
very patient with Finland. The Comintern has been abolished, which Is some-
times forgotten. Quite recently, some of our representatives from the Ministry
of Information were allowed to make a considerable tour in Russia, and found
opportunities of seeing for themselves what they liked. They found an atmosphere
of candid friendliness and a keen desire to see British films, and hear about our
country and what it was doing in the war. The children in the schools were being
informed about the war on the seas, and of its difficulties and its perils, and how
the Northern convoys got through to Russia. There seemed a great desire among
the people that Britain and Russia should be friends. These are very marked de-
partures from the conceptions which were held some years ago, for reasons which
we can all understand.
We have no need to look back into the past and add up the tale and tally
of recrimination. Many terrible things have happened. But we began thirty
years ago to march forward with the Russians in the battle against the German
tyranny of the Kaiser and we are now marching with them, and I trust we shall
until all forms of German tyranny have been extirpated. As to Nazism, tle other
ideology, we intend to wipe that out utterly, however drastic may be the methods
required. We are all agreed on that in this House, whatever our political views
and doctrines may be. Throughout the whole of the British Dominions and
the United States, and all the United Nations, there is only one opinion about
that and for the rest, whatever may be said as to former differences, there is
nothing that has occurred which should in any way make us regret the twenty
years' Treaty which we have signed with the Russians, and which will be the
dominating factor in the relations which we shall have with them.
The Grand Alliance
I see that in some quarters I am expected today to lay out, quite plainly and
decisively, the future plan of world organization, and also to set the Atlantic
Charter in its exact and true relation to subsequent declarations and current events.
It is easier to ask such questions than to answer them. We are working with
thirty-three United Nations and, in particular, with two great Allies who, in some
forms of power, far exceed the British Empire. Taking everything into considera-
tion, including men and money, war effort, expanse of territory, we can claim
to be an equal to those great Powers, but not, in my view, a superior. It would
be a great mistake for me, as head of the British Government, or, I may add-
speaking to this Committee as a most respected institution-the Grand Alliance,
or for the House, to take it upon ourselves, to lay down the law to all those dif-
ferent countries, including the two great Powers with which we have to work, if
the world is to be brought back into a good condition.
This small Island and this marvellous structure of States and dependencies
which have gathered round it, will, if we all hold together, occupy a worthy place
in the vanguard of the nations. It is idle to suppose that we are the only people
who are to prescribe what all other countries, for their own good, are to do. Many
other ideas and forces come into play and nothing could be more unwise than for
the meeting of Prime Ministers, for instance, to attempt to prescribe for all
countries the way they should go. Consultations are always proceeding between
the three great Powers and others, and every effort is being made to explore the
future, to resolve difficulties and to obtain the greatest measure of common agree-
ment on levels below the Ministerial level in a way which does not commit the
A few things have already become quite clear and very prominent at the
Conference which has just concluded. The first is that we will fight on all to-
gether until Germany is forced to capitulate and until Nazism is extirpated and
the Nazi party are stripped of all continuing power of doing evil. The next is
that the Atlantic Charter remains a guiding signpost, expressing a vast body of
opinion amongst all the Powers now fighting together against tyranny. The third
point is that the Atlantic Charter in no way binds us about the future of Ger-
many, nor is it a bargain or contract with our enemies. It has no quality of an
offer to our enemy. It was no offer to the Germans to surrender. If it had been an
offer, that offer was rejected. But the principle of unconditional surrender, which
has also been promulgated, will be adhered to as far as Nazi Germany and Japan
are concerned, and that principle itself wipes away the danger of anything like
Mr. Wilson's Fourteen Points being brought up by the Germans after their defeat,
claiming that they surrendered in consideration of them.
Retribution and Lasting Peace
I have repeatedly said that unconditional surrender gives the enemy no rights
but relieves us from no duties. Justice will have to be done and retribution will
fall upon the wicked and the cruel. The miscreants who set out to subjugate first
Europe and then the world must be punished, and so must their agents who, in
so many countries, have perpetrated horrible crimes and who must be brought
British Speeches of the Day
back to face the judgment of the population, very likely in the very scenes of
their atrocities. There is no question of Germany enjoying any guarantee that
she will not undergo territorial changes if it should seem that the making of
such changes renders more secure and more lasting the peace of Europe.
Scarred and armed with experience we intend to take better measures this
time than could ever previously have been conceived in order to prevent a re-
newal, in the lifetime of our children or our grandchildren at least, of the horrible
destruction of human values which has marked the last and the present world
wars. We intend to set up a world order and organization, equipped with all the
necessary attributes of power, in order to prevent the breaking out of future wars,
or the long planning of them in advance, by restless and ambitious nations. For
this purpose there must be a World Council, a controlling council, comprising
the greatest States which emerge victorious from this war, who will be obligated
to keep in being a certain minimum standard of armaments for the purpose of
preserving peace. There must also be a world assembly of all Powers, whose rela-
tion to the world Executive, or controlling power, for the purpose of maintaining
peace I am in no position to define. I cannot say. If I did, I should only be
stepping outside the bounds which are proper to us.
The shape of these bodies, and their relations to each other can only be settled
after the formidable foes we are now facing have been beaten down and reduced
to complete submission. It would be presumption for any one Power to pre-
scribe in detail exactly what solution will be found. Anyone can see how many
different alternatives there are. A mere attempt on our part to do so, or to put
forward what is a majority view on this or that, might prejudice us in gaining
consideration for our arguments when the time comes.
Questions Not Unanswerable
I shall not even attempt to parade the many questions of difficulty which will
arise and which are present in our minds. Anyone can write down on paper at
least a dozen large questions of this kind-should there be united forces of nations,
or should there be a world police, and so on. There are other matters of a highly
interesting character which should be discussed. But it would be stepping out of
our place in the forward march for us to go beyond the gradual formulation of
opinion, and ideas which are constantly going on inside the British Common-
wealth and in contact with our principal Allies. It must not be supposed, how-
ever, that these questions cannot be answered and the difficulties cannot be over-
come and that a complete victory will not be a powerful aid to the solution of all
problems, and that the good will and practical common sense which exist in the
majority of men and in the majority of nations will not find its full expression
in the new structure which must regulate the affairs of every people in so far as
they may clash with another people's. The future towards which we are march-
ing, across bloody fields and frightful manifestations of destruction, must surely
be based upon the broad- and simple virtues and upon the nobility of mankind.
It must be based upon a reign of law which upholds the principles of justice and
fair play and which protects the weak against the strong if the weak have justice
on their side. There must be an end to predatory exploitation and nationalistic
This does not mean that nations should not be entitled to rejoice in their tradi-
tions and achievements, but they will not be allowed, by armed force, to gratify
appetites of aggrandizement at the expense of other countries merely because they
are smaller or weaker or less well prepared, and measures will be taken to have
ample Armies, Fleets and Air Forces available to prevent anything like that coming
about. We must undoubtedly in our world structure embody a great part of
all that was gained to the world by the structure and formation of the League of
Foreign Affairs 51
Nations. But we must arm our world organization and make sure that, within
the limits assigned to it, it has overwhelming military power. We must remember
that we shall be hard put to it to gain our living, to repair the devastation that
has been wrought and to give back that wider and more comfortable life which is
so deeply desired. We must strive to preserve the reasonable rights and liberties
of the individual. We must respect the rights and opinions of others, while hold-
ing firmly to our own faith and convictions.
There must be room in this new great structure of the world for the happiness
and prosperity of all and in the end it must be capable of bringing happiness and
prosperity even to the guilty and vanquished nations. There must be room within
the great world organization for organisms like the British Empire and Common-
wealth, as we now call it, and I trust that there will be room also for the fraternal
association of the British Commonwealth and the United States. We are bound
by our twenty years' Treaty with Russia, and besides this-
I, for my part, hope to deserve to be called a good European-to try to raise
the glorious continent of Europe, the parent of so many powerful States, from
its present miserable condition as a kind of volcano of strife and tumult to its old
glory of a family of nations and a vital expression of Christendom. I am sure
these great entities which I have mentioned-the British Empire, the conception
of a Europe truly united, the fraternal associations with the United States-will
in no way disturb the general purposes of the world organization. In fact, they
may help powerfully to make it run. I hope and pray that all this may be estab-
lished and that we may be led to exert ourselves to secure these permanent and
glorious achievements which alone can make amends to mankind for all the
miseries and toil which have been their, lot and for all the heroism and sacrifice
which have been their glory.
[House of Commons Debates]
RT. HON. ANTHONY EDEN
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
House of Commons, May 25, 1944
As I listened to this two-day debate I had the impression that there was a
growing note of confidence about ourselves in the speeches. No doubt there are
reasons for that outside these walls. Military events at the moment and good
lews from our armies would account for it. But I thought there was more to it
.han that. I think there was also the increased sense of unity which the meeting
of the Prime Ministers of the Empire has given us. I felt an echo when the hon.
Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) said that international unity
was difficult to achieve. I could not agree with him more wholeheartedly. I hap-
pened to be reading in a history the other day about one of my illustrious prede-
cessors who had one period of office of about eighteen months. History just noted
the term of office of Lord-by saying "No event of any international significance
occurred." I thought that that was a time when I would have liked to be Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs. We live in very different times.
Unity Beyond Logic
I would like at the beginning of my remarks to say something about the meet-
ing of the Empire Prime Ministers. Many comments have been made in this
British Speeches of the Day
Debate about that meeting, and I think it is right to say that it was probably
at once the most successful and the most significant meeting of that kind which
has ever been held. Both the men and the moment served to bring that about.
Here were gathered together five statesmen of widely different character and ex-
perience but all united with the one purpose of trying to maintain and strengthen
this Empire and Commonwealth and to ensure that the world should have the
benefit of the service we could render it together. Of course that is the note as I
conceive it, the only purpose of the British Commonwealth and Empire. We are
not an exclusive organization, but-we do think-and I make no apology for saying
this-that we are the one really successful experiment in international co-operation
that there has ever been. Out of that, we may suggest with becoming modesty to
others, there may be something to be learned.
As I attended these proceedings I detected more than once what a strange,
indefinable and, if you like, what an illogical thing this British Empire is. Some-
times, the links that hold it together seem so frail as to be almost nonexistent, or
so frail that they would snap at the first pressure. That is the mistake which
foreigners often make. It is the mistake that Ribbentrop made, though God knows
I and others tried hard enough to make him believe it was wrong. This demonstra-
tion of reality of the strength of that relationship comes at a moment when it may
be of real service to the world. Anyhow, it has so happened that in two world
struggles in one generation, the British Commonwealth has shown itself to have
a unity which nothing can break. In the second of these struggles it stood alone
for a year or more.
How difficult it is to try to explain what brings these men together from
these many corners of the world and leads them to feel such deep loyalty towards
the British Empire. I cannot pretend to describe it, but perhaps like all really deep
forces that move mankind, there is an element of mystery in it that cannot be put
into words. I believe that to be true. Of this meeting, I must say that it owed its
special character more than anything else to the leadership given it by our own
Prime Minister. Sometimes here, within this Island with our vast controversies
and frequent debates, it is difficult to stand back and view matters as they are seen
in perspective by other lands and other peoples. Certain it is that the immense
advantage of my right hon. Friend's position in the world was of quite invaluable
aid in leadership in those discussions. There is another advantage. In the stress
of war-and there is still a stress of war-nothing is more difficult than to avoid
becoming immersed in the daily details of one's particular task, be it on foreign
affairs, economic affairs, the Treasury, or whatever it is, and the burden is such that
when you have a moment in which you are not occupied with your own affairs the
Cabinet is discussing somebody else's affairs that are just a degree more tiresome
than your own. When one is living like that, it is invaluable to be able to look
at the problems which we have to face in company with a man like the Prime
Minister. It is then that his experience is more valuable still. I can only say
for myself that that experience was one that gave the greatest encouragement.
There was, it occurred to me, a feature in our meetings this time which I had
not perceived before. I was privileged to attend the Imperial Conference in
1937. Since then we have developed to a very large extent the practice of sending
the greatest possible amount of information to the Governments of all the
Dominions so that today it is not merely a question of consulting them from
time to time and asking their advice on some particular problem that arises, but it
is the practice to give them fully all information that we have on day-to-day
developments of foreign policy. The growth of that practice was immeasurably
helpful at these meetings because the whole background of knowledge was present
to an equal extent in the minds of all the men round the table. It may be there
is more we can do in that regard. If there is we will gladly do it, for I am
confident that this exchange of information is an indispensable element in true
co-operation between the Dominions and ourselves. If as a result of that we
get from time to time, when we give information about foreign affairs or whatever
it may be, replies, questions, even criticism, we welcome them because they are
all elements of strength to the British Commonwealth.
No Secret Agreements
Having made those remarks on that aspect of our work, I want to plunge
into the details of some matters which were discussed. More than one hon.
Member in the Debate, talking about foreign affairs, has said that in wartime,
of-course, foreign policy must take second place to immediate military needs, and
that is true. In wartime the Foreign Office has two duties: to help the Military
arm, and as part of that help, to maintain, as far as lies in our power, unity among
those who are fighting the common enemy. Also, so far as we can during wartime,
it is to lay the foundations for co-operation afterwards. Those are the tasks on
which we are engaged now. In wartime it sometimes happens that military needs
may even conflict with political needs. I will put it another way--you may have
to take decisions for short-term advantage which in the light of long-term policy
you would prefer not to take-that sometimes does happen; but there is one aspect
of the work we have done to which I would draw the attention of the Committee
Despite all those difficulties, and I may say temptations, in this respect ifi
wartime, we have not on any occasion in these four years of conflict entered into
any secret engagement of any kind with anybody. I want the Committee to under-
stand the importance of that; hon. Members like the hon. Member for West
Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson) who were present when the Treaty of Versailles
was negotiated will remember what embarrassment was caused when secret
treaties were pulled out of pockets, and engagements-often conflicting engage-
ments-were all put on the table together. There is nothing of that kind on our
part this time. To that extent we shall have an advantage.
I have said that one of our tasks is to try to help the Armed Forces. I will give
briefly some examples of what I mean by that; for example, the negotiations with
Portugal about the Azores, the negotiations with Spain over wolfram, the handling
of our affairs with Turkey which led to the stoppage of chrome. I had, as one
or two hon. Members have remarked in this Debate, the task of lending help to
our Allies, among others, in trying to smooth out differences which arise even
between Allies. Those are our tasks.
Here let me say one word about the neutral powers. My hon. Friend, the
Member for West Leicester, was, I think, rather hard on us about the neutrals.
He was inclined to criticize us for our treatment of them. I know they may
sometimes regard our methods as harsh and arbitrary, and think that we take
too little account of the rights of small nations. If they do, I can say truly we
I can also say we have asked no nation to take any step which violates its
neutrality and we have asked no neutral who is also an Ally-of whom there are
some-to take any step beyond that which is specifically within our rights
according to the terms of our alliance, and we must insist to the limit on what
are our rights. It is our duty to do everything in our power to shorten this
struggle. And therefore, to the neutrals themselves I say, if sometimes we have
seemed outspoken and urgent in our demands I regret it, but it is a fact that such
action as we ask them to take is in their own interests, as anyone in this hour can
see, if only it shortens the conflict which they as much as we wish to see brought to
British Speeches of the Day
The Occupied Countries
I must say that my sympathies and thoughts are more at the present time
with occupied countries. I felt that the members of the Committee were many
times right when they recalled the staunch Allies whom we have in Europe today.
I think that at a time like this the Committee would like to send a message to those
occupied countries-the smaller occupied countries of Europe-a message of
encouragement and hope that their liberation may not be long delayed. I would
like to speak of one or two of these countries. We had a remarkable speech just
now-there were not quite so many Members present-from my hon. and gallant
Friend, the Member for Blackpool (Wing Commander Robinson), just back
from firsthand experience in the Balkans and Mediterranean. He told us of his
experiences in a Greek ship, and how its sailors had twenty-four to twenty-five
times taken that ship back into the Anzio Beachhead. We are greatly encouraged
at the political unity which the Greek nation has at last achieved. We can neither
forget the past of that country nor its own amazing achievements in this conflict
at an earlier stage. After all, the Greeks were the first to debunk Mussolini. It
was not we who did that. They defeated him and repelled him from their land.
And we of this Committee would like to tell the Greek people we hope they are
now united and that they will be able to work together and re-establish their
reputation in the world ....
I wish to mention one or two others of these countries-Yugoslavia, Poland
and Czechoslovakia. The suffering of all these countries has been great and the
prayer for liberation is there. In particular I want to say a word about the
northwestern countries, if I may so call them, which have been referred to in one
or two speeches-Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands. Within the last few
days we have signed agreements with the Governments of all three of them.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir John Wardlaw Milne), asked whether
we could perhaps make them public. We considered that in conjunction with our
Allies who have signed similar agreements and we have found a difficulty in it
because these agreements are not only political; they also contain military clauses
affecting the action which must be taken if and when these countries are
liberated .. It is quite proper. A secret agreement disposing of somebody else's
belongings would be most improper, but if it is a secret agreement arranging how
by military means you are going to free a country, I think that it is not very
shocking. That is what they are. I can tell the hon. Member to relieve him from
any strain of anxiety that so far as the political clauses are concerned, what they are
designed to do is to give the Governments of those countries the full control
of their own affairs at the earliest possible moment.
Now I come to a country which has been mentioned several times in this
discussion-France. There is no part of our policy to which we attach more
importance than the restoration of the independence and greatness of France.
France is our nearest neighbor; for more than one thousand years our histories
have been interlocked, sometimes in conflict. Sometimes the French got help from
our northern neighbors, if I may speak as an Englishman for just one moment.
But I think that as inhabitants of this Island we would acknowledge that no
country has contributed more to the civilization of Europe, in the best sense
of that term. For the future, we know that the French people will have their
part to play in Europe, and we shall need them as they will need us if confidence
and security are to live again in Europe. In the meanwhile, I would like, on behalf
of the Government, and I hope of the Committee, to pay tribute to the spirit
of resistance which the French people are showing, all the more despite the
necessary bombardments which we are unhappily compelled to inflict upon them.
I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Bartlett)
yesterday. He said we must hand over the full responsibility for the Government
of France to the French people as soon as is possible. I agree; there is no difference
about that. There is not the least intention in our minds to inflict an AMGOT,
as it is called, upon France or indeed upon any Allied country whatever, though,
incidentally it is not in the least the kind of machine which the hon. Baronet,
the Member for Barnstaple (Sir Richard Asland), so eloquently imagined
yesterday. But be AMGOT good or ill, it has no connection with France or any
Allied country when they are liberated.
In the light of these observations, I come to the special problem of recognition.
I would like to try to put it in its true perspective. I regret that there is some
misunderstanding as to the extent of recognition already accorded to the French
Committee of National Liberation. For instance the hon. Gentleman the Member
for Maldon asked why we did not recognize the Committee, as though there was
no recognition at all. Of course that is not the position at present. We welcomed
the untiy of the Committee last year at Algiers. We were happy to recognize
them last August as the body qualified to conduct the French effort in the war. We
have gone much further than that since. We have dealt with the Committee as if
they were the legitimate Government of all the French overseas territories. We
have made agreements with them-financial agreements, economic agreements-
on that basis. Our representative in Algiers has been given the rank of Ambassador
and the French representative here, Monsieur Vienot, who is doing such good
work, has been given a similar rank. More than that, we have dealt with the
French Committee not only as if they were the Government in the territory where
their writ runs already, but we are also dealing with them in matters which
concern the metropolitan territory of France and as the French authority which will
exercise leadership in France as her liberation proceeds.
Now I come to where I think the difficulty lies. In connection with these
discussions, certain conversations have been necessary and these conversations and
the progress of them have unhappily been interfered with by the restrictions
which we felt compelled to institute over a wide area as a security measure on
account of forthcoming operations. I say frankly that those restrictions are
extremely troublesome to the conduct of foreign affairs, not in respect of one
country alone. I would like to say at this box how grateful the Government
are for the spirit in which the Diplomatic Corps as a whole have taken these
quite unprecedented measures. But the House will understand, as I am sure our
French friends will understand, that vexatious as these restrictions are, the needs
of absolute military security must come first. That being so, we think that the
best way to deal with the question of civil administration in France is to have
direct conversations. It is for this purpose that the Prime Minister has invited
General De Gaulle to come here. General De Gaulle has accepted. He will
receive, I know, a warm welcome from all of us here. I feel confident nothing
but good will come out of that meeting, and that when the whole situation can
be surveyed we shall be able to clear away all misunderstandings, however
formidable they may seem now. At least that is what we wish to do.
No Spheres of Influence
I will turn for a moment to another matter, to which I want to refer because
of one or two speeches which were made about our attitude to Europe. I do not
know whether hon. Members happened to see the two-column article which
appeared in the Times on the 13th May containing an analysis of German
propaganda. If not, I commend it as quite good reading. That analysis showed
British Speeches of the Day
German propaganda had just two themes. One was that the Empire was breaking
up. That is not working awfully well just now. The other was that we were
disinteresting ourselves in certain parts of Europe: in other words, that at some
place or other never specified-it may be Moscow, it may be Teheran--we had
done a deal, it may be with Soviet Government or it may be with somebody else,
by which we would cease to interest ourselves in certain parts of Europe. That
is absolutely and categorically untrue. I would like to go further. In the first
place, no arrangement of such a kind has been come to. In the second place, no
arrangement of such a kind was suggested to us. In the third place, if anybody
had suggested such an arrangement to us we would not have agreed to it.
Otherwise, the report is approximately accurate.
It is, of course, true that there are certain parts of Europe-Western Europe
and the Mediterranean-where our interests are more directly concerned than
others. But as the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore
Belisha) emphasized in his speech we are above all Europeans, and our interest
in Europe is not limited to any single part of Europe. What we seek is the
security of the Continent which has suffered so much but which has given so
much light and leading to the world in the past and could do it again if only it
could recover its unity and prosperity. I am confident that the Governments of
the Dominions perfectly well understand our position in this respect and that they
endorse it. No great country should attempt to do more in its foreign policy than
its strength will allow. But having said that, I think I can add, that as a result
of this meeting and as a result of events in the war, the British Commonwealth's
authority and influence in the world is at least as high as it has ever been; and
that influence we should use, can use, and will use to promote the prosperity and
the unity of Europe.
What do we want to achieve in our foreign policy? I would put it like this. We
want in our relations with other countries to try to maintain a standard of honesty,
of fair dealing and of international good faith. Foreign affairs are really not so
very different in those respects from domestic affairs. Human intercourse is based
on good faith, on the keeping of promises, on honoring the pledged word between
man and man. I agree so much with what my noble Friend the Member for
Lanark (Lord Dunglass) said yesterday-we are very glad, all of us, to welcome
him back-about the consequences of the lowering of international standards. I
remember myself venturing to make, some years ago, a speech in this House in
which I said that I thought we were in the presence of the progressive deterioration
of international standards. I say frankly that I think that process was one of the
main contributory causes of the outbreak of this war. Why did the war become
inevitable? It was because Hitler and Mussolini refused to observe the ordinary
standards of international conduct in the day-to-day conduct of international affairs.
It was more than that, because they used the desire of other nations to maintain
those standards to obtain concessions, to profit by those concessions, and then to
proceed to their next demand. They were encouraged by the desire of the peace-
loving countries to avoid war if ever they could.
The German Technique
I remember an occasion in a conversation with Hitler-I think it was in .1933
or thereabouts-when he spoke to me of the Versailles Treaty, and he explained
how the Treaty had been imposed on Germany, and how, therefore, he could
never accept it. I said "What about the Treaty of Locarno?" He said "That is
another thing. That was a freely negotiated Treaty. Germany signed that of her
own free will. By that I stand"-or words to that effect. He said it with a
fervor and an eloquence, which I confess entirely convinced me. I came back
thinking "that is not such an unreasonable attitude" and so forth. Eighteen
months after that, Locarno had gone the same way as the Treaty of Versailles.
That was the method, that was the technique of those men. If those methods
and those techniques are practised, whoever practises them, there cannot be enduring
peace. So I say to the Committee: We cannot say to the world "You have got to do
this; you have got to do that." That is beyond the power of forty-five million.
But what we can do is in our own conduct and by our own leadership to try to
establish and maintain those standards of international conduct without which
there cannot be peace. That I conceive to be the duty of British foreign policy.
May I for a moment or two look a little into the future? When victory is
won, the first task will be close collaboration between the British Commonwealth,
the United States, the Soviet Union and China-but in the main, as far as
Europe is concerned, between the first three-to ensure that Germany cannot
start this business again. I want to speak for a moment about co-operation between
these three in particular-ourselves, the United States and the Soviet Union. If I
emphasize it, it is because I am convinced that if we can establish real understanding
all else, though difficult, will be possible. But if we cannot establish that under-
standing, then the future is very dark indeed. Having said that I am not suggesting
these three Powers should seek to impose some three-Power dictatorship on the
world. That would be bad, very bad. But what they should do is serve the world
in assuring at least for the outset that these two particular aggressors with whom
we are now dealing are not in a military position to repeat in a few years' time
what they did before. I hope I shall carry the Committee with me in that. There
is nothing exclusive in our desire to work together. It is indispensable that we
should so work together. May I mention the suggestion about co-operation in
Western Europe? I think it may be desirable that we should have close, intimate
and friendly relations with other countries in Western Europe, but neither my
hon. Friend nor anybody else would suggest that on such a foundation alone
such lasting security could be founded. We have to stretch wider than that.
I would like to say a word about our relations with these two Powers. My
right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut-Colonel Elliot)
spoke about our relative size-our forty-five millions, and these two countries,
one with one hundred forty millions and the other with two hundred millions.
That is true, but on the other hand, I must tell the Committee that though I have
been in many negotiations with these two Powers alone I have never felt any
sense of inferiority, and I honestly don't believe that they felt any particular
sense of superiority. I don't mean individually toward me, but towards this
country. The reason is, of course, that though we are only forty-five millions, we
have in this Island, a unique geographical position and a rather remarkable
experience, because we are the center of a great Empire. I would suggest we need
not over stress the size of our partners or underestimate our own significance. At
any rate, of all our international troubles, that is the one that worries me least.
Relations with the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R.
About the United States I think I can say that at this time our relations are as
close and cordial as they have ever been. We had the other day the experience of
a visit from Mr. Stettinius, the Undersecretary of State, who I think spoke to the
hon. Members upstairs. That visit was remarkable, not only because of his own
personality but because he brought with him a large number of representatives
of the State Department, and they worked together with our own representatives
in the Foreign Office with the result that apart from understanding at a higher
level, there is now interlocked at every stage understanding by each of the other's
policy. That is something quite new in our experience with the United States, or
58 British Speeches of the Day
indeed with any country, and I think it will be of great service because although
decisions must be taken by Ministers, it is good that all those down the hierarchy
should understand each other's point of view. Recently we have had both from
the President and Mr. Hull statements that show American leaders are thinking
on broad courageous and good neighborly lines.
Now I turn to our relations with the other great Power-our Ally Russia.
There is in our minds no reservation when we say that we wish to work with the
Soviet Union in the fullest and closest collaboration, but it is also in the interests of
our two countries that we should accept the fact that there are certain difficulties in
this task, and I agree with the righ hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wakefield
(Mr. A. Greenwood) that we do not gain much by ignoring them. There is first
the legacy of suspicion difficult to describe and quite impossible to exaggerate.
It is a suspicion which is not as many think, of modern growth, but which dates
back to, and existed in the days of Tsarist Russia and will be found many times in
the records of the Congress of Vienna and so forth .Unhappily, it has always
played its part in Anglo-Russian relations and it has a habit of accumulating
suspicions on their side which produce 'counter-suspicions on ours, and before
we know where we are a mountain of suspicion is the result. For that there is
only one cure-that bit by bit our peoples get to know each other better. We are
ready, I say to our Soviet friends, to do anything in our power at any time to
further that result.
There are other things-differences in form of government, differences in
attitude to the individual, to the press, and so on. These are all pretty wide
divergencies, and I repeat, that we do better to face them frankly. But on the
other side there is something else to put in the scale. There is the fact that in
three great world convulsions, in the Napoleonic war, in the last great war, and
in this war, we have found ourselves allied and fighting together for the same
purpose-to stop one man or one power dominating the whole of Europe. On
each of the last occasions when we fought together we fell aside quickly soon after,
but this time we have got to do better. We have an absolute conviction here in
this country that the Soviet Union means to see this struggle through to the end.
We have the same intention. I have been asked about the extent of our collabora-
tion now. For instance, are we consulted on such matters as Soviet peace terms to
Rumania, and the negotiations with Finland? The answer is we were consulted
on both questions. In respect to Rumania we thought Mr. Molotov's speech, and
the offer made, fair and just to Rumania. In respect to Finland, we deplored the
fact that the Finnish Government had turned down the peace terms. On both these
matters we were consulted. I do not want to belittle the extent of the effort
which has got to be made in both these countries to make of this Tweaty-Year
Treaty a lasting reality of value to our two countries and to the world, but surely
the Committee will feel that the stakes for the future in this matter are so huge
that both of us must make every effort that we may succeed. Personally I believe
we shall succeed.
China and the Far East
I have been asked several questions about the situation in the Far East,
particularly by the hon. Member for Kidderminster, the hon. and gallant Member
for Renfrew (Major Lloyd) and many others. I think we are all conscious of
the heavy burdens that China carries just now. We in this country are in our
fifth year of war and, looking back on it, it seems a pretty long period. China is,
however you reckon it, at least in her eighth year of war. Her people have suffered
greatly, and many of her cities have been destroyed. We have been unable to
carry to her all the help we would like to carry, and it is only by the remarkable
efforts of the Air Force--quite unique efforts-in crossing the Himalayas that
any assistance has reached her at all. Her ordeals have been long and stern. We
pledge ourselves anew that we will not rest until Japan is defeated and China
has restored to her all those territories wrongly seized from her. An hon. Member
has asked me about supplies. In the main, of course, the supplies have to be
for the United States Air Force which has been built up in China and for the needs
of the Chinese armies under General Stilwell's leadership, but whatever space is
left over, it is for the Chinese Government to say what priority they want for the
goods that are sent to them. We all wish we could send more, but we are sending
already to the limit of our capacity.
While speaking of the Far East I would like to make a statement upon the
position of- our prisoners in the hands of the Japanese. What I am now going to
tell the Committee arose from a suggestion made, I think, by the hon. Member for
Seaham on the 28th of January, when I spoke about the Japanese treatment of
our prisoners, and it was suggested that the Soviet Government might be asked to
make representations to the Japanese Government on behalf of these prisoners.
I communicated later with his Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow and he recently
approached the Soviet Government and explained to them our anxiety. There
were three points on which we particularly wanted satisfaction from the
They were, first of all, that the right should be recognized of a protecting
Power, in this case Switzerland, and of the International Red Cross, to visit all
the camps wherein British subjects were held and report freely and frankly on
conditions prevailing. [An hon. Member: And civilians?] Yes. Secondly, we
should be given complete lists of our prisoners of war and internees in their hands,
together with a list of those who had died; and, thirdly, the Japanese Government
should agree to receive Red Cross supplies which would be sent at regular intervals
in neutral ships to Japanese ports and facilities should be given to distribute
those supplies. The Soviet Government replied that while these matters fell
directly within the competence of the protecting Power, they were nevertheless
prepared to approach the Japanese Government in regard to them, and they have
now done so, and I want to thank them and to express the thanks of the
Government for their action. I ought to add that this action does not in any
way express any lack of confidence in Switzerland as the protecting Power. We
know that our Swiss friends have done everything in their power, and we hope
this additional action may assist them in their work in this connection and in
what they will do for us hereafter.
Looking Into the Future
My time is nearly up. I want to say a word on economic affairs. I want to
tell my hon. Friends that it is true that the Foreign Office has taken over certain
fresh activities in the economic field. We have not snatched them, as an hon.
Gentleman suggested-the Foreign Office never snatches-but we have negotiated.
We have these additional opportunities now. We shall need them, I am confident,
and perhaps in a later Debate I may be able to describe the set-up for dealing
with these activities to anybody else, either to the United States or anybody. We
maintain our organization in that respect. As a result of this arrangement we shall
receive at the Foreign Office now the economic intelligence which used to go to
the Ministry of Economic Warfare. That will be of great value to us in our
political work; and also, a new Department which I am setting up will be able
to make use of the economic intelligence that we receive. There will be, as a result,
a closer relation between our political and economic policies as a whole, and I
British Speeches of the Day
hasten to add, it does not mean that I am attempting to take any duties away
from my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade or my right hon.
Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But it is the truth that foreign policy
and economic policy are now more closely related; or perhaps, what is more
probable, there is a better understanding now than there used to be of how
closely they are related. But however we express it, there is no doubt of the need
for an organization such as I have described and which I would like to describe
more fully at a later time ....
I want for a few minutes . to look in to the future, as some of the hon.
Members have done. There has been much said about the League of Nations,
where it succeeded, and where it failed. I am not going to argue that now. There
is not time, and even if there were it would take many hours of discussion, and
there would be many divergent opinions. The Prime Minister explained yesterday
that we do not want to impose upon others in detail whatever our ide&.s may be;
at the same time we are entitled to say what our general ideas are about world
I would like to leave with the Committee just a few principles on which
we suggest this future organization should be based. They are these: first, that
the world organization must be designed in the first instance to prevent a
recurrence of aggression by Germany and Japan and must be fully equipped with
Forces to meet, the purpose; secondly, that to ensure this, there must be close
political and military co-operation between the United States, the Soviet Union,
the British Commonwealth and China . and other Powers; thirdly, that the
responsibility in any future world organization must be related to power, and
consequently the world organization should be constructed on and around the
four great Powers I have mentioned and all other peace loving States should
come in to play their part in the structure; fourthly, that the world organization
should be flexible and not rigid, that is to say it should grow by practice and not try
straight away to work to a fixed and rigid code or rule; and, fifthly, all Powers great
and small, included in the world organization, should strive for economic as well
as for political collaboration.
I understand only too well the difficulties in any attempt to translate into
practical experience the principles I have outlined. What I can say is that we
have already begun informal conversations with other Powers about these proposi-
tions and I hope that in coming months we shall be able to make more progress
with them. At least, we are convinced that it is only by translating into the
period of peace the confidence which we have built up and the machinery we have
built up for collaboration as Allies in war that we can hope to save the world from
a repetition of those conflicts which twice in our generation have caused so much
misery to mankind. I have tried to give the Committee some account of our policy,
and I can only repeat as I began that, despite the difficulties to which the hon.
Members have referred, we shall persist in our course and do so with a greater
measure of hope as a result of the meetings of the Prime Ministers held in London
in these last weeks.
[House of Commons Debates]
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