Relations With Admiral Darlan

Business of the House – in the House of Commons on 26th November 1942.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the Business for to-day and the next Sitting Days?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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).

Third Sitting Day—The Debate on the Address will be brought to a conclusion after consideration of the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern).

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.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will give an early opportunity for the discussion of the Motion which stands in the names of several hon. Members relating to the position of Admiral Darlan?

[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.]

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

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?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I do not think I would at all dispute my hon. Friend's statement, which seems to be exactly in tune and in step with that of President Roosevelt himself.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

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?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

On a point of Order. I put questions to the Leader of the House on Tuesday, and he undertook to answer them. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is a private Member to do when the House is given an undertaking of that kind and the Leader of the House then refuses to fulfil the obligations?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The only point at issue is that the hon. Member is not satisfied with the answer which he has been given.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

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?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

After I have heard the hon. Member's speech, I will tell him.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Can the Leader of the House inform us whether it is the case that a protocol has been prepared, and will be signed within a very short time, making Darlan the High Commissioner of North Africa? Is it not desirable that there should be a discussion in this House before such a step is taken?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The right hon. Gentleman has already answered that.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

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?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

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.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

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.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Has it not been the practice for years that when a Question is put to a Minister he is entitled to say that it is not in the public interest-that he should answer it, and for the House to accept that?

Photo of Mr Edgar Granville Mr Edgar Granville , Eye

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?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Is it not the case that the civil government of North Africa does not come under our control, or the control of any nation allied to us?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

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?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

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.