As regards the Business for to-day, the Debate on the Address will be continued, and I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, intend to call the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) on Colonial Development. Afterwards, we shall ask the House to consider a Motion to approve the Potatoes (1942 Crop) (Charges) Order.
The Business for the next Sitting Days will be as follows:
First and Second Sitting Days—Consideration of the Amendment to the Address relating to Post-War Reconstruction standing on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence).
During this series of Sitting Days we shall ask the House to approve the draft Order proposed to be made under the Government of India Act and agree to the Second Reading of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill which, I understand, is a formality, and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.
[That this House is of the opinion that our relations with Admiral Darlan and his kind are inconsistent with the ideals for which we entered and are fighting this war: furthermore, that these relations, if persisted in, will undermine the faith inus among our friends in the oppressed and invaded nations and impair the military, social and political prospects of the final and complete triumph of the cause of the United Nations.]
No, Sir. I cannot give that undertaking. I think the House will have observed from what I said yesterday the reason why the Government do not consider such a discussion timely.
As there is very considerable disturbance of opinion in the country about this matter, and as a large number of hon. Members in this House are disturbed about it—or if they are not, they ought to be—is it not perfectly proper that the House of Commons should have an opportunity to discuss it before we are irretrievably committed in North Africa to the establishment of Admiral Darlan and the further extension of the same policy in other fields of foreign policy?
It would certainly be perfectly proper as the hon. Gentleman suggests, but what the Government have to bear in mind is whether it is timely in relation to military operatons. On that point I made what I thought is quite a clear statement yesterday, to which I have nothing to add.
Mr. Graham White:
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while there is the gravest feeling of apprehension on this matter throughout the country, there is equally a recognition that it is a matter of considerable difficulty which requires to be handled with the greatest care?
In view of what the Leader of the House has just said, may I put this point to him? On Tuesday I made certain remarks and addressed certain questions to him, and when I sat down the House pressed my right hon. Friend for an answer. He undertook to give an answer yesterday, but he did not answer the questions which were put to him. I now ask him, in view of the statement which he has made, when he proposes to fulfil his obligation to the House and give an answer to the questions which were addressed to him on Tuesday?
I do not think the hon. Member's charge is justified. I gave the House a full statement yesterday on the very first opportunity. We must really have the fullest regard to what is taking place in the military sense.
I want to ask your guidance, Sir. In the next series of Sittings, I understand, there will be Debates on Amendments to the Address, and those Debates for the first two days will be on reconstruction. This matter of establishing quislings abroad will have a very important bearing upon reconstruction, both at home and abroad. Will it, therefore, be proper for us to raise the implications of a new Government policy on our plans for reconstruction?
May I submit that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has asked an important question, as to whether Admiral Darlan is being appointed to a certain position, which will give him great power, permanently; and is it not open to him to ask that question and for a Debate to take place upon it, because of its implications?
It is not my business to say whether it is in the public interest or not that a question should be answered. If the right hon. Gentleman says that it is not in the public interest, I think the House should accept his statement.
Surely it is in Order for the hon. Member to put a question, and to receive an answer? It is suggested that this Admiral is being appointed to a high post for some time to come, and given great power. If ever there was a need for an answer to a question, it is now, because if this question goes unanswered to-day, the implications in the country will become worse. If I might give the right hon. Gentleman some advice, after a number of years' membership of this House, I would say that he should answer the question.
I do not think my hon. Friends need put quite so much fervour into the matter. My position is quite plain, and I can state it to the House. Yesterday I gave a considered reply, giving all the information I could in relation to this subject, which is not entirely, or even mainly, a British subject. The United States are the principal party. I am quite prepared, if hon. Members want to put these further detailed questions, to give them an answer; but I do not think it is unreasonable that I should ask to see the Questions on the Paper, so that I may give a considered answer. That is my whole position, and I have nothing more to say.
In view of the serious reports in the Press that the Fighting French are no longer broadcasting, to Europe or elsewhere, will the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for this breach in our political warfare, say whether we shall be given an opportunity to discuss the matter in this House?
That is also a question on which I have had no notice. Also it does not arise on Business. But I can say that that broadcasting has not stopped on our volition. It is temporarily stopped, and I have every hope—and I am doing all I can to bring it about—that it will be resumed at the earliest possible moment.
That is the actual position. The military power is the power of the United States, and the present civil power is the French power. Our position has to be related to those facts.
Is it in the public interest, and in the interest of good relations between us and the United States, that the implication should go abroad that these undesirable and unpleasant policies are being imposed upon us by the United States?
I have never said anything of the kind. I think all Members must understand that we are dealing with an extremely delicate situation at the moment, and that our troops and American troops are engaged in a very critical phase of the campaign. I think I am entitled to ask Members, if they want to ask more questions on the matter, to be good enough to give me notice.