Motion of Confidence in His Majesty's Government.

Part of Orders of the Day — War Situation. – in the House of Commons on 29th January 1942.

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Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I do not propose to follow fully my right hon. Friend who has just addressed the House, but I would refer to one matter of considerable constitutional importance which he has raised, and that is the responsibility of the Board of Admiralty. This is not the time or the occcasion to argue the case, but I think it will be found that a very curious state of affairs exists in the Admiralty. I point it out for the in- formation of hon. Members. I believe that the real responsibility, by Orders in Council passed a good many years ago, is that of the First Sea Lord; the Board of Admiralty as a whole have little or no responsibility. I am not at all sure whether its members have even the right to resign, which my right hon. Friend thought in such cases they might have had. That is, however, a matter which can be looked into by the House on some future occasion, when I shall have a rather longer contribution to make.

I was also interested, and I am sure the House as a whole was interested, in the very informative contribution made by the hon. Member for West Newcastle (Mr. Nunn). He has spent a great many years in Siam, and there was one thought which occurred to me in that connection. The hon. Gentleman told us about the information and knowledge which he and presumably many others possessed of the intentions of the Japanese as much as 30 years ago, but I do not recollect that in the early part of 1932 he raised any protest, as some did, at the first aggression of the Japanese in Manchuria, which, as was pointed out at that time, might in due course have very serious consequences in the Malay Peninsula and to which this country in effect, under the then National Government, assented.