Lifting The Lid

This article is taken from Hansard Millbank, the UK parliamentary official records website, with one added extra bonus, please enjoy this lifting of the lid.

Mr. GreenwoodThis is indeed a grave moment. I believe the whole House is perturbed by the right hon. Gentleman’s statement. There is a growing feeling, I believe, in all quarters of the House that this incessant strain must end sooner or later — and, in a sense, the sooner the better. But if we are to march, I hope we shall march in complete unity, and march with France.

§Mr. McGovernYou people do not intend to march — not one of you.

§Mr. GreenwoodI am speaking under very difficult circumstances with no opportunity to think about what I should say

Mr. CocksWhy is it that when successive British Governments have always refused to publish this correspondence on the grounds of national interest, it is in the national interest that it should be published now?

§The Prime MinisterI cannot go into the reasons why successive Governments have not thought it right to publish it before, but, in regard to the last part of the question, the publication was asked for by the Arab delegates, and it was thought desirable that it should be published in answer to their request.

Mr. StewartIs the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction in the country because the War Office did not adopt the system of sub-contracts, which has been adopted with so much success and acceptance by the Air Ministry?

§Mr. CrossleyIs the Prime Minister aware that there is very great reluctance on the part of firms to approach this Panel?

§The Prime MinisterNo, Sir, I have not heard of that.

§Mr. LoganMay we take it that where cases have been brought to the right hon. Gentleman’s notice, there will be an opportunity of investigation being made?

§The Prime MinisterCases should be brought to the notice of the Panel.

§Mr. LoganI mean cases already brought to the notice of the Panel.

§The Prime MinisterIf they have already been brought to the notice of the Panel, I presume that they have paid attention to them.

§Mr. LawsonIs the Prime Minister aware that the Public Accounts Committee was informed by the War Office last year that there was a reluctance on the part of firms to accept these contracts?

§The Prime MinisterThat does not seem consistent with the suggestion that firms are complaining that they are not getting the work.

I would like to remind the Committee of some words used by the late Lord Grey of Fallodon in his book, “Twenty-Five Years,” when he said: Each Government, while resenting any suggestion that its own measures are anything more than precautions for defence, regards similar measures of another Government as a preparation for attack. Fear begets suspicion and mistrust and evil imaginings of all sorts, till each Government feels it would be criminal and a betrayal of its own country not to take every precaution, while every Government regards every precaution of every other Government as evidence of hostile intent. That seems to me to be very much the situation in which we are finding ourselves to-day, so, while I cannot consent that we should relax our armaments in any degree till we can do so by general agreement with others to do the same, I do say that I feel it our duty, the duty of this Government in particular, to watch for every opportunity that may come to try and persuade other Governments of the folly of the course that we are all pursuing, and to induce them to put an end to a situation which, if it is persisted in, must bring bankruptcy to every country in Europe.

Mr. Attlee(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he will state when the proposals made to His Majesty’s Government by the U.S.S.R. were received, and whether His Majesty’s Government have accepted them in principle.

§The Prime MinisterAs the House is aware, conversations have been proceeding for some weeks past with the Government of the U.S.S.R. and other interested Governments. During the course of these conversations various proposals and counter-proposals have been put for- 1698ward on both sides, and discussions on them are still proceeding. I do not feel that, pending the conclusion of these discussions, it would be right for me to make public any details.

§Mr. AttleeIs the Prime Minister aware that many people are disturbed at the very slow progress of these negotiations, and it is felt that the Government are not pressing on with them as rapidly as they might?

§The Prime MinisterI cannot help if people get that sort of idea, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not do anything to encourage it.

Mr. Noel-BakerIs it the intention of the Government to ask Sir Nevile Henderson to come home to report on the denunciation of this treaty by the German Government?

§The Prime MinisterI do not think that is necessary.

§Lieut.-Commander FletcherMay I ask whether, on examination, any justification1851whatsoever has been found for the grounds on which Herr Hitler has denounced this treaty; and will the right hon. Gentleman reply to the latter part of my question, where I ask whether it is proposed to accept the invitation of Herr Hitler to negotiate a further naval treaty?

§The Prime MinisterAs to the first part of the question, I think that I have already made that clear in the statement which I have just made. With regard to the second part, I am not sure that the proposal of Herr Hitler is to negotiate a second treaty, but His Majesty’s Government are considering what reply they should make to the German Government.


HC Deb 06 June 1939 vol 348 c201201

§33. Mr. Kirbyasked the Prime Minister whether he has completed his inquiry into the matter of allegations made at the Manchester assizes on the 19th May to the effect that the German consul in Liverpool had, at an earlier date, assisted a man named Joseph Kelly to make contacts with foreign agents on the Continent to whom he sold plans of the Government factory at Euxton, Lancashire; what are the results of the inquiry; how far was the German consul in Liverpool and/or his staff implicated; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent a continuation or recurrence of such activities on the part of this consul and/or his staff?

§The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)If the hon. Member will repeat his question in two or three days’ time, I hope to be able to give him a reply.

Wing-Commander Jamesasked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the 2371growth of public anxiety at the constantly increasing number of Jewish and other refugees being admitted to and remaining in this counntry for a longer time and under different conditions than was originally laid down, he will allot an early day after the Summer Recess for a discussion upon this subject?


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