Oral Answers to Questions — Bombing Policy.

– in the House of Commons on 18th June 1942.

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Commander Bower:

asked the Prime Minister, having regard to the recent wide publicity by Press and screen accorded to the opinions on bombing policy of the Commander-in-Chief, Bomber Command, whether it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to afford similar facilities for the public expression of their views by operational commanders in other Services; and whether such free expression of opinion will be restricted to those holding commands-in-chief?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The publicity recently accorded to the views of the Commander-in-Chief, Bomber Command, was directly connected with the exceptional operations carried out by the Forces under his command. I see no reason to fetter the discretion of responsible Ministers in this matter by any hard and fast rule, such as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests.

Commander Bower:

Is there not a danger that these pronouncements on the part of operational commanders may deceive some uninstructed portion of the public into believing that they are expressions of policy on behalf of His Majesty's Government?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I do not think so. I think the general public understands quite well.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider giving immediate warning to the German Government that, in future, a German undefended town or village will be obliterated by the Royal Air Force in retribution for every innocent person murdered by the Nazis in any occupied country?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

There would not be enough German villages to go round. My hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that our bombing effort against Germany will be directed at the most effective points.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

I cannot accept that answer. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the matter is of immediate urgency? He knows that a number of these people have been murdered, and of the immediate threat to thousands more. Does he also know that the ultimatum to Czechoslovakia expires to-day, by which thousands are threatened by murder unless they give up the killers of Heydrich? Will he not take immediate steps to make it known to the German Government that we shall exact an eye for an eye, and follow the Old Testament?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

We are not talking about an eye for an eye but a village for a village, which involves the question of the most effective use of the Royal Air Force.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

No doubt the hon. and gallant Member will agree that it is not necessarily the most effective use of the Air Force to bomb a number of separate villages. The policy of the Royal Air Force is to use the Force where it can be most effective.