Ministerial Changes.

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

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Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

I was about to warn the Government of the great danger of complacency. Far from its being in the national interest to keep this unpleasant news quiet, it is in the national interest to make it public. The responsibility for the suppression of news must be with the War Cabinet, but I believe it is the general feeling of hon. Members—I believe it is the general feeling of the Dominions and of our Allies, that we should be made to know the kind of savage and cruel people we are fighting. We have accumulated so much hatred against the Nazis that there has been a sort of feeling that the Japs are something quite different, and that they can be looked upon as a nation which was our Ally in the past but which, unfortunately, has been drawn into the fight against us by the machinations of the Germans. But, believe me, the Japs have been preparing for this war systematically for 20 years—it would be true to say even longer than that, for they were preparing for it before the last war—planning, plotting, spying and engineering for the domination of the Pacific. They are unscrupulous people. We must be realists and recognise that in the Japanese we have just as cruel, as dangerous and as powerful an enemy as we have in the Germans. That is realised in Australia, where the people are under no delusion; they know they are up against it. If there have been happenings of an appalling character in Hong Kong, it is in the national interest, on the whole and on balance, to make those happenings public.

I want, in conclusion, to support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) concerning India. On two occasions recently I have made a strong plea for the inclusion of an Indian representative in the War Cabinet, giving India the same rights as the Dominions. The Government have acceded to that request. At the time, I called it a gesture. The Government have made that gesture, and I believe it will have happy repercussions. Although it may not show a change of heart, it shows a willingness to meet the national aspirations of the Indian people. I thought that my hon. Friend's suggestion for the formation of a small War Cabinet, I suppose composed entirely of Indians—