Orders of the Day — Air Estimates, 1948–49

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th March 1948.

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Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire 12:00 am, 4th March 1948

I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I would point out that the salary of the air-marshal is contained in these Estimates. However, I have made the point. I only wish to make one further point—a very reasonable one—which is that this House of Commons should maintain control over the Ministers, and that the Ministers should tell their military staffs to keep to their proper functions and not usurp those of the Cabinet in framing policy. Indeed, what Lord Tedder said was not even successful from the point of view of the recruiting campaign which is being conducted by the Air Ministry. Indeed, we were told three days later that recruiting was lamentably slow. I object to this large grant of public money being spent on the three Services at the present time, and especially to the items contained in these Estimates.

The right hon. Gentleman who led for the Opposition, referred to a Debate in another place—a very sombre Debate. None of the experts can tell us very much about the atomic bomb. When we ask questions in this House, about it, one would almost think that an atomic bomb had been dropped. When an hon. Member asks the Prime Minister about the atomic bomb, he looks at him as if he had asked something indecent. But the fact is that the discovery of the atomic bomb has changed the whole science of modern warfare. I maintain that these Estimates do not reflect the attitude we should be adopting towards modern warfare, that we cannot afford this money at a time of economic crisis, that we are preparing obsolete weapons, that we are throwing away the national money, and that the only real security and defence for this nation in a time of atomic warfare is a fundamental change in our whole international policy.