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 John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh 12:00 am, 7th March 1940

I quite agree, but I want the hon. Member to recognise that now is the vital moment, and we must not relax at all from the work of the fighting Services. Civil aviation may be necessary at some time or other, but at the moment I hope the Air Ministry will not be diverted from providing all it can for the fighting Services. I can understand the feeling of hon. Members, but surely this is not the time to urge anything like that upon the Air Ministry, which has enough to do without being led away on that point. I was rather surprised at the hon. Member, because as a rule he is good on these matters, but his enthusiasm carried him away in the wrong direction. We want to give the Air Minister all the help we can, because the main thing that we are concerned with is winning the war as quickly as possible and I want the Air Force to play an all-important part in it.

The Air Minister in his statement gave great credit to our airmen for the splendid work they are doing. I, too, am pleased with that, but I wonder whether it is not being carried too far in the flights they are making over Germany. We have shown the Germans that we can get over their country whenever we want to. Why we should keep going over, risking both aircraft and men, I do not know. I can- not see us going over there continually without losing some of our best men, and we get hardly any return for it. Another point is with regard to publications in the Press from time to time, giving out what we have been able to discover. I have here three newspapers giving to the country, and, of course, to Germany, the sketches that our airmen have been able to get. The first shows vulnerable points over Wilhelmshaven. If we have been able to find them out, why in heaven's name should we tell the Germans? If we are able to get information of that kind, let us keep it, and, when the time comes to make use of it, we have it ready. Imagine what would happen in this country if the Germans could come here and find some vulnerable points and publish the fact. What should we do? We should make those vulnerable points impregnable. Why is this being done? Surely it is not to keep up our spirits by showing what we are able to do. We have confidence enough in our Air Force and in the Air Ministry. We should not give the enemy any information at all. Let him be in doubt as to what we have been able to pick up by going there.

I have to confess that I have only been up in the air once, and I was as frightened as I have ever been in my life, but I wanted to say that I had been up. They fastened me in, and I was glad they did, because I was afraid of being thrown out. I am more used to being below ground, and I feel safer there than up in the air. I have only risen to put to the Minister the feeling of the common man in this respect. I have been asked scores of times how it is that we are giving this information to the enemy, and it wants some explanation. One cannot understand it. I trust that in future, unless there is some very good reason, whatever information we get we shall keep for the crisis which cannot be long delayed. When that takes place, all the information that we have can be used effectively and the Germans will not know what we have.