Ministerial Changes.

Part of War Situation. – in the House of Commons on 24th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that any war to me, taking my point of view, is just like another. They all bring poverty upon the common people; they all bring unemployment in Europe. Mines were closed at the end of the last war because we won it and demanded coal for nothing from Germany. We got ships for nothing from Germany and that closed down our own shipbuilding yards in consequence. For my part, therefore, I draw no distinction between one war and another.

I want to say a word upon another point which has been mentioned in the Debate and which has been put very much better than I can. I read recently an article in the "Times" and in the "Manchester Guardian" from a correspondent who appeared to be in Singapore towards the end of the days just before it fell. I do not know that I have seen anything in print at any time more deplorable—a terrible story—and the worst feature of the story was that the natives whom we were presuming to govern took not the slightest interest in the fight on either side. They said, in effect, according to this article, "It does not matter to us whether the British or the Japanese win. If we are to have masters, one is as good as another." Although I am not an Imperialist and do not like these conglomerations of races, if the world must have Empires I prefer a British to a German, Italian or Japanese Empire. Therefore, I appeal to hon. Members to take more interest in those we call subject races. I do not like the conception, which I have met on many occasions, that everybody who is coloured in skin is a nigger. We have to get rid of that conception. How do we expect to win the loyalty of the Burmese when we keep the Premier of that country in jail? How do we expect the millions in India to rise in our favour when we put 15,000 or 20,000 of their leading men in prison for several months? If hon. Members want to know what can happen as a result of that, all they need do is read Carlyie's "Heroes and Hero Worship." It has been proved throughout history that if you put a man in prison because of his religious or political views, he is ultimately able to cash in on his martyrdom, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Stafford Cripps) has done to-day.

I want to thank hon. Members for listening to the sentiments I have expressed. This would be a very strange place if we all said "Yes" to what the Government say. I think the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) was right. My experience in the House leads me to the view that if you want to continue Parliament you must have an Opposition. There is no meaning in the word "Parliament" unless you have Opposition. I do not want, of course, to form one. On every other issue, except war, I am a very loyal comrade of my Party, as hon. Gentlemen know, but I regard war as just a wicked and evil thing.