Orders of the Day — Defence [Loans].

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th February 1937.

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Photo of Mr George Garro-Jones Mr George Garro-Jones , Aberdeen North 12:00 am, 18th February 1937

Whereas seven years ago it was said to be wrong to borrow £100,000,000 to save the poor masses of our population, it is considered right now to borrow £400,000,000 for purposes of Defence. That is the position that has not been explained. It has been said that it is a matter of confidence, but confidence is largely a manufactured thing. Speaker after speaker on the other side of the House has made the boast that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer is the man who is responsible for restoring the confidence of this country and that the Labour Government of 1931 was responsible for destroying it. I deplore the dishonesty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in sitting there and allowing that statement to be made by one speaker after another from his side of the House when he himself stated in the country that the crisis and the lack of confidence in 1931 were not brought about by the Labour Government at all.

I have a report of his speech, and as this matter of confidence and crisis is of vital application to the validity of the proposal to borrow money rather than spend it out of income, I think I am entitled to read an extract from that report. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer said in 1931. when the crisis was supposed to be over: I make this statement at once, that the financial troubles have not come upon us through anything that was done in this country or by the late Government. That was the Labour Government. I think it is regrettable, the Chancellor of the Exchequer having made such an admission, that speaker after speaker for years should repeat that false charge, and that the Chancellor should never take it upon himself to refute it. Again, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill)—no friend of ours—speaking on the same theme, said in 1932 in this House: I thought, myself, that there was a good deal of exaggeration about the crisis which arose last August and September—and a certain amount of manipulation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1932; col. 1175, Vol. 265.] I think we are entitled, on the authority of those great experts in finance, to say that there is no validity in the contention that this Government is entitled to borrow money for armaments while the Labour Government was not entitled to borrow for the vital needs of the poorer sections of the population.