Oral Answers to Questions — War Emergency Powers

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1951.

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Photo of Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan , Perth and East Perthshire 12:00 am, 24th July 1951

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that a state of war with Germany has been ended, the state of emergency accepted by the British people as being necessary for the waging of that war may also be ended.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Walthamstow West

The powers taken in 1939 were not dependent on any general declaration of a state of emergency.

Photo of Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan , Perth and East Perthshire

In view of the fact that the British public gave up a great part of their liberties to meet this emergency and the war has obviously now ceased, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the emergency should be brought to a close and, if necessary, a fresh emergency declared with more limited requirements from the public?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Walthamstow West

I think it more convenient to adopt the practice we have adopted, that is, of gradually doing away with these powers as they become unnecessary; but there are some powers, as the hon. and gallant Member will realise, that are for the protection of the public.

Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull

With great respect, is not the right hon. Gentleman's original answer a bit of a quibble, because the powers taken in 1939 were taken only in view of a threat of war with Germany, and if no such threat existed they would not have been taken?

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Is not the practice adopted on this occasion similar to the practice adopted by this country after World War I?

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

Is not the declaration of a state of emergency designed to have a tonic and moral effect on the people of the country and to arouse them to a sense of their dire responsibility and duty? Is there not some danger, if this is allowed to drag on from year to year, with a state of emergency against one country and then another, of a certain amount of confusion and frustration ensuing?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

Is the assumption that this country when governed by a Socialist administration is in a permanent state of emergency?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Walthamstow West

No, Sir, but we are a country in a world in which there are reactionary Governments and totalitarian Governments.

Mr. Hopkin Morris:

The Government having declared peace with Germany and thereby brought the emergency to an end, if an emergency exists, how many emergencies were there?