Ministerial Changes.

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

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Photo of Mr John Martin Mr John Martin , Southwark Central

It would be difficult, without taking up too much time, to discuss all the treaties made before the war. The point I am making is that, if there is to be a general attack on our pre-war international policy, the burden of which is that in our post-war policy at home and abroad, national and international, we have to build up a great force of armaments to defend the interests of the country—because that is the only thing that is worth while—if you enter into a realm of controversy which is quite foreign to the successful conduct of the war, you inevitably provoke a response and a reaction from people who look forward to a different national and international reconstruction of the world, which must cause disunity, and if we want to build up a really effective war machine we must, as it were, drop these recriminations and turn to the successful prosecution of the war as it stands without at this stage entering into a controversy as to whether it is right or wrong before the war and, if we did wrong, drawing from it the lesson that our postwar policy must be framed on such and such lines. Many of us have most earnestly wished to discuss post-war policy, but the Prime Minister has so far evaded that issue, and in the critical times that we face it may be right to say that that question shall be postponed. If it is right, I claim that these Warship Weeks and so on should not be used for the purpose I have indicated.

But there is one aspect of post-war policy which is intimately bound up with the successful prosecution of the war. That is our relations with Russia and India. The war may be lost or won as the result of our relations with Russia or India, and the peace may be lost unless those relations are harmonious and successful. I think signs were manifest in Mr. Stalin's speech yesterday that our relations with Russia are not quite so harmonious, especially with regard to post-war planning, as could be wished. Cannot something be done to reassure the House on that point? I also ask for some assurance that the Indian question is going to be solved now, before it is too late, so that, in common with our comrades of the great Commonwealth of the British Empire, we may go forward to the final victory which alone will justify the sacrifices that we have made.