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Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

220

defence of which any country might be proud, and if it were
put to the test to-morrow, with whatever deficiencies there
may be, I venture to say that it would prove to be one of
the most formidable fighting machines in the world. If I am
obliged, as I am, to reject the request for an inquiry, I do so
for the same reasons as I rejected a similar request on i5th
March last. But I am not going to treat this matter as a
question of controversy between parties this afternoon,
because I recognise that the very fact that the Opposition
have put down this Motion means that they are proceeding
on the assumption—an assumption indeed which was made
by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland—that it is not
only desirable, but it is essential that we should have an
Air Force complete and efficient in all respects as speedily
as possible. We are all agreed about that.
" If that be so, then I say that my first and principal reason
for rejecting an inquiry is that I do not believe that an inquiry
would help in achieving that purpose. I believe that at
this time when, above all, what we want is speed and rapidity
in making up any deficiencies that exist, an inquiry, to which
one could give only the most general terms of reference, an
inquiry which would almost necessarily have to be a sort of
fishing or roving inquiry to see what was wrong, would be
a process which would distract the attention and dissipate
the energies both of the Air Ministry and of the aircraft
industry as a whole.   I put it to the House-------"
MR. GARRO JONES : " That is what you told us before.5*
THE PRIME MINISTER : " I heard a speech lasting more
than an hour from the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland,
and I think it is a little early to begin interruptions of my
speech, especially as I am not now saying anything which
is controversial or provocative. I put it to hon. Members
that no Government can dispense with its own responsibility
for the efficiency of the Defence Services of the Crown, I
put it to them that what is wanted at this moment is not
any digging up of the past or attempts to place the fault, if
fault there be, here or there. What we want is a continuous
review by the man who is principally responsible—that is
my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air—of all
the circumstances of the case and the devotion of his whole"