Air Estimates, 1940.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th March 1940.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland 12:00 am, 7th March 1940

The right hon. Gentleman has given us a very interesting speech to-day. I am sure we are all glad that he has recovered from his influenza, and for another reason I am particularly glad that he did not deliver his speech last week—because I should not have been here to hear it. The right hon. Gentleman paid a tribute, which we all know to be abundantly deserved, to the men of the Royal Air Force for their courage, their high skill and their endurance. My right hon. and hon. Friends wish to be wholly associated with that tribute; we are never unmindful of those qualities possessed, and whenever necessary shown, by the men of the Royal Air Force. It may well be that the greatest test of all of that gift of endurance is the test of waiting month after month for Goering to dare. We wish also to pay our tribute to the work of those great numbers of men—and now, I think, some women—whostand behind the Royal Air Force in the workshops and who are engaged in producing this output of which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken and on which I shall have a few detailed observations to offer in a moment.

I should also like to pay a tribute—and I think others will agree with me—to the work of Charles Gardner, who broadcasts from France for the B.B.C., and who has, I believe, contributed to making the conditions of life of the men of the Royal Air Force in France and the problems which confront them understood by listeners in England. I remember hearing one broadcast a week or two ago in which he remarked that many people asked what was the use of our bombers in France, and he replied that our bombers in France were protecting London, by constituting a threat to German targets within the Reich in the event of Goering daring. That, I think, is a true point; but I want to ask the Secretary of State for a definite assurance that all the plans are completely prepared, up to the last detail, for our bombers to take immediate action against German targets, within the frontiers of the Reich, in the event of any attempt being made to bomb London or any other objective within these islands. So far, restraint has been exercised by both sides in regard to the bombing of objectives within the frontiers; but I ask for an assurance that plans, up to 100 per cent., are prepared for immediate counter-action should Germany depart from that passivity.