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 Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West 12:00 am, 7th March 1940

We shall not give him anything of value. At the same time there has been considerable demand from people in this country to see some of these photographs, provided they do not give any information, and a number of German photographs have appeared in the Press of this country. These flights undoubtedly provide us with valuable information. They also give most useful training to our pilots and crews in finding their way by night to selected destinations in Germany, a training which may be of considerable value later on. A moment's reflection will enable hon. Members to see how in fact the Air Force may be called upon to undertake operations and flights of this kind. Another point upon which I hope hon. Members will reflect before they readily engage in criticism is that we have direct evidence that these flights have not been without their effect, both upon production and morale in Germany. Briefly, these are three reasons which apparently have not occurred to the hon. Members who have criticised these flights.

I will not discuss the value of the leaflet policy. I have seen many observations made upon it not only from this country but from neutrals who are able to report the effect they have in Germany. Germany is a country where the freedom of the Press is denied, where the people are told what they have to believe and what they have not to believe, and I can say that there is a considerable body of evidence that these leaflets are read by members of the German public who are glad to read them, notwithstanding the severe penalties with which they are threatened. Undoubtedly they may be of considerable value in that way. The only other matter I want to discuss again from the point of view of the public is the criticism with regard to the coastal attacks by the enemy. That has been linked up with a suggestion of reversing the decision which was carefully arrived at with regard to the position of the Coastal Command and the Admiralty, a point upon which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Sir R. Keyes) has been very consistent.

The first observation I will make on this matter is that the Admiralty are not making any such suggestions to me. The Admiralty and the Royal Air Force have been endeavouring to conduct this war, not by fighting one another, but by fighting the enemy, and I am sure the First Lord of the Admiralty, if he were here to-night, would say the same thing as I do. Neither he nor I want to indulge in a controversy of this kind. The suggestions that have been made to-night by my hon. and gallant Friends have been made by them entirely on their own behalf, and I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth indicated that his criticisms and proposals were not made in any way with the support of the First Lord.