War Situation.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 25th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Samuel Adams Mr Samuel Adams , Leeds West

I very much hope that the Government will heed much of what has fallen from the lips of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett). Like many speeches which have been already delivered in this Debate it was original, and this Debate has been remarkable so far both for its range and its scope. I heard many of yesterday's speeches, but it is only upon three or four of them that I wish to say anything to-day. There was one in particular which was uttered by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) which was, no doubt, sincere in conception but possibly might be pernicious in effect. The hon. Member persistently, though I doubt not unwittingly, perverted the Christian message. I am sorry that the hon. Member is not in his place, but his speech is very typical of a certain condition of mind, and I think it is legitimate for me to answer it. That speech, so passionately delivered, might have been appropriate three and a half years ago as an attempt to defend Munich. The hon. Member argued that hatred of the Germans was an artificial emotion engendered by the Press. I would remind him if he were here that for a very long time, far too long as it has proved for the safety of civilisation, many powerful politicians did all they could to trust our present enemies and to avoid hating them. But none of the free gifts of the security and property of others, culminating in Munich, destroyed Nazism nor, to quote his own language, did the sermons preached against it by the hon. Member for Westhoughton.

If Nazism had not been resisted in 1939, undoubtedly by now it would have covered the face of the earth. War, said the hon. Member, is wicked, and with that all of us agree, but it would be infinitely more wicked to shirk the responsibility of resisting that Nazism which the hon. Member and others who agree with him so cordially detest. I wish somebody in really high authority would utter these sentiments, which I have tried to deliver—and utter them often. Never before have Christian communities been summoned to a finer crusade than this war in which we are now engaged. One hon. Member said yesterday that we did not hear enough from responsible persons of full-blooded patriotism. With that I respectfully agree, and I think we ought not to be silent upon the spiritual values that are engaged and involved in our struggle.

I pass to something a little more tactical. It refers to the speech delivered by the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby), which he is no doubt reading at this moment. He urged the Government to make safe against air attack the base from which our fleet operates. Sir, there is no secret about Scapa Flow. About two years ago it was stated by the present Prime Minister to be one of the most powerfully-defended places in the world against air attack. Soon after that statement was made my own military fortunes took me to serve for a considerable period on the land surrounding that anchorage, described by a distinguished admiral as "a ghastly and monotonous landscape." With that description I agree, but I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that I did not notice any reduction in the strength of the anti-aircraft defences when I was there. Indeed, I well remember the umbrella of anti-aircraft fire which would descend and close upon the German raiders and prevent their escape after their attempt at bombing units of the Royal Navy. There is no need for the hon. and gallant Member to invent shortcomings and deficiencies where they do not exist.