Ken Clarke – 2010 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Ken Clarke to the Conservative Party conference speech on 5th October 2010.

As you know, I have been in a few Ministerial posts before and served in two or three previous Governments. I have never seen political and economic events of the kind we have now.

We have the worst economic crisis in my lifetime. We have a political system which has lost the confidence of the public after years of spin, sleaze and lightweight Government.

And we have a social crisis. All the problems we are so familiar with – drugs and debt and family breakdown – and worst of all, the subject Theresa and I are responsible for in this Government: crime.

These crises have at least one common cause. New Labour.

New Labour was all spin and no substance – campaigning and no principle.  We now have to sort out the disgraceful waste that is their legacy. Our first duty is to reduce public spending, cut the deficit and get the economy on its feet again. I am, and I remain, an advocate and whole-hearted supporter of the strategy that George Osborne set out yesterday. But we are not mere cutters. We cut because New Labour left us no choice. But we will define our Government not by our competence as financial managers, but by our political beliefs.

Any fool can just lop percentages off every item of his budget. I do not want to carry on doing what Labour was doing and just spend less money on it. We have to do this better. We have got to be the radical, reforming, improving government this country needs so badly. For me it’s personal. I am a deficit hawk.

When I was Chancellor of the Exchequer I cut spending and I cut the budget deficit to promote economic growth, and it worked. But I am also proud to call myself a reformer. I passionately want to see reforms that will improve our public services, in health, education, welfare and justice – alongside the necessary action to cut the deficit.

Let me start with the reductions in spending. The first thing I did when I walked into the Ministry of Justice in May was order a review of the department’s own administration. You’ll see the results of that in a few weeks’ time. My intention is that the biggest single reduction in spending at the Ministry of Justice will be in the running costs of the Department – from the headquarters to the edges.

And when you sort out the spending you can start to sort out the service itself. From long, painful experience, I can tell you: to throw money without reform at any public service is useless.

The only money my Department will spend is money combined with well-judged change to improve the protection against crime we must give – to society, and to the victims of crime.

We will go back to first principles. Ask what it is that the taxpayer should be paying for.

Let me be clear about what I have always said and always believed about crime and punishment.

For serious criminals, prison is the best and only sentence. It is the punishment for serious crime that society expects and accepts. Career criminals and violent, dangerous criminals should be in prison – not roaming our streets.


But prison needs to do more than keep criminals off the streets. It must try to prevent them from committing more crime against more victims when they come out. The biggest failure of the present system is reoffending. Nearly half the people in prison come straight back out and commit another crime in less than twelve months. Absurd.

Under New Labour, we had an underclass of people in our broken society who walked out of jail and straight back into crime, again and again. Fifty three thousand criminals were jailed for six months or less in 2008. Nearly two thirds of them committed another crime within the next year and were sent straight back to prison again. And that was only the ones who were caught and convicted again.  Thousands of further crimes against new victims. Quite absurd.

We said we were going to tackle that when we were in Opposition. We called it a Rehabilitation Revolution – Prisons with a Purpose. It was a Conservative election policy, not a Liberal Democrat one.

And what about my tough talking New Labour predecessors.  Were they on top of the problem?

They certainly tried to sound like they were.

They tried to sound tougher and tougher – outflanking the noisiest man at the bar of the Dog and Duck. But it didn’t seem to bother them that for all the cash they threw at the problem of crime and punishment they did nothing to reduce reoffending.

What happened instead?  This is a Department of Government that really exploded. The number of prisoners grew by more than a third under Labour. Spending on prisons went up by the same amount – a third in real terms. Probation costs shot up sixty per cent. And the rate of reoffending – the new crimes committed against new victims by prisoners recently released – well of course that went up too.

And they were reduced to the absurdity of releasing thousands of prisoners early before they had finished their sentence. What a waste. What a failure.


We can’t go on like this. We need reform that is radical and realistic. Reform focused on results, not processes, not spin doctor headlines.

My aim is to make prisons tougher places of hard work and reform for the criminals who should be locked up;

Make community sentences that really are tougher and more effective for those who don’t need to be locked up;

And cut crime creation out of the criminal justice system by paying by results organisations and investors who actually succeed in reducing reoffending.


Let’s start with prisons.  We need, in my opinion, to instill in our jails, a regime of hard work. Most prisoners lead a life of enforced, bored idleness, where even getting out of bed is optional.

If we want to reduce the crimes these people will commit when they get out, we need as many as possible to get used to working hard for regular working hours. The ones prepared to make an effort need new opportunities to learn a trade. We have to try to get those with the backbone to go straight, to handle a life without crime when they have finished their punishment.

So we will make it easier for Prison Governors to bring more private companies into jails to create well-run businesses employing prisoners in 9 to 5 jobs.  There are already some excellent examples to build on. Timpsons, who train up prisoners to work in their national network of shops.

The National Grid and Cisco Systems also go into prisons to offer training and the prospect of a job and a life away from crime at the end of the sentence. I hope to see many, many more companies like these stepping in and offering their expertise to organise productive industries in many of our prisons.

And I want to revive a policy that I was always keen on in John Major’s last Conservative government. Making deductions from the earnings of working prisoners to provide restitution for the victims of crime.

Do not worry.  I have not become some woolly-minded idealist since I was last a reforming Minister.

I am under no illusions about the British criminal class – I met plenty of them during my time at the Criminal Bar. As well as a few since.

I’ve never been in favour of mollycoddling criminals. Dangerous offenders must always, and will always be punished with prison. But let us not deceive ourselves that the previous Government left 85,000 serious gangsters in prison, that our prisons are only populated by muggers, burglars and violent and dangerous individuals. We have 11,000 foreign prisoners in our jails. Our prisons contain thousands of anti-social petty criminals who fail to behave themselves in everyday life.  Almost half are illiterate or innumerate. Almost half are mentally ill. The majority have a history of drug abuse.  Sadly, far too many are former members of our armed services.  Drifting along in lives of crime which their victims pay for over and over again. Too many go into prison without a serious drug problem and come out addicts. Ready, desperate, to commit more crimes to feed their habit. We have to do better than this.

We are working on plans to produce drug free wings in prisons to start to stamp out this drugs menace.

We need radical, realistic reform.  If we want to be safer in our homes, knowing we’re less likely to be burgled… If we want our children to be able to walk home safely from school… Then we have to get sentencing policy right. That is why, as part of the sentencing review which will be published as a Green Paper later in the Autumn, we will look again at how we treat offenders who might be prevented from committing more crimes as soon as they are released.

Under New Labour, there weren’t enough tough, demanding punishment options for judges.

We have a real job on our hands to give judges those options. To improve punitive alternatives to prison. I do understand what the problem is with so-called Community Sentences.  The public don’t think   they’re tough enough.  Judges and Magistrates aren’t confident that they’re tough enough.  Well let me tell you that I have never thought that they were tough enough.  The answer to that cannot be to give up.  It must be to make community sentences as tough, respected and effective as they are in countries like France and Germany.

When we consider how to reduce re-offending by rehabilitating released prisoners or providing tougher community sentences, I am interested in one thing – what works.  Value for taxpayers money is best achieved by paying – not for good intentions – but for results.


We will pay for fewer crimes. Fewer victims.

We can challenge the independent sector, charities, voluntary bodies, the private sector and the public services. You develop schemes that do cut reoffending, in prison or in the community, and we’ll pay you to do it – if, and when it works.

And the more new schemes that produce results, the more we can be sure that taxpayers’ cash is being spent on things that actually work.

The well-intentioned, interesting, theoretical idea with no outcome will simply melt away.

Last month we launched the first of our projects of this kind – in Peterborough. Run by a company called Social Finance, it will be paid for to the extent that it succeeds in preventing offenders from committing more crimes against yet more victims when they are let out of Peterborough prison.

I visited the Peterborough project and I’ve seen how it can work. I’m an enthusiast. So I can tell you today that we will be starting up a range of similar schemes in England and Wales in the New Year. We will look at bids from serious groups who want to take whatever approach they believe in – from boot camps to more therapeutic options. And the taxpayer will pay for – what works and what cuts crime.

Radical, realistic reform that will cut crime and do it in a way that shows real value for money for the taxpayer.


I believe history will remember the Cameron coalition Government as radical and reforming.

We have inherited a disgraceful crisis, bequeathed to us by a discredited party that with any justice will need years to change itself before it will be considered fit for office again.

I remember the 1979 leadership campaign…I’ve served in Governments before.  I’ve never served in one facing a crisis on this scale. I’ve served in Governments that started well. But I’ve never served in one that’s started better than this.

I am quite delighted to be in this coalition government which is remarkable in its unity, determination and purpose.

After the election David Cameron and Nick Clegg responded to events with vision and speed.  This Government is delivering the strong and stable government the national interest demands.

Had we failed to form a Coalition it would have been a disgraceful dereliction of duty. We are proving that politicians can set aside party political battles when the national interest demands it.

Once more it is a Conservative Prime Minister, with the political will to put the national interest first, whose fate it is to inherit a poisoned Labour legacy.

And if we continue as we have started, we are up to the challenge. David Cameron will provide the leadership this country needs.

We will provide the support he needs.

Together we will return this country to economic stability and growth. To 21st century quality public services we can afford.

And to a global reputation for the civilised and responsible Government that our Conservative Party has always stood for.

Ken Clarke – 2009 Conservative Party Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by Ken Clarke on 6th October 2009 at the 2009 Conservative Party Conference.

I have done this a few times before – and I still enjoy it. Those who have followed my political career from afar and those who know me well will probably agree that I am not one of nature’s pessimists. I am trying to delay becoming a grumpy old man. I am also a realist.

And it is the realist in me that says we are set to take over the biggest mess that a Conservative Party has ever inherited from a Labour government.

It is amazingly true that Labour always winds up leaving behind an economic disaster. It has happened every time since the war. But this is far, far worse. It’s worse even than Margaret was confronted with in 1979.

So yet again it is our duty to repair the damage after those years of recklessness, and prepare the UK for a better future.

A lot of that work is economic. Above all the sound management of the public finances, which George and Philip spoke about this morning.

No-one believes Alistair Darling when he talks of halving the public debt in four years.

Gordon Brown wants to introduce a new law to make it illegal for Alistair to be as irresponsible as he, Gordon Brown was when he was Chancellor. What useless gesture politics.

Past sinners promise that they will be prosecuted in future if they sin again. George Osborne’s strong sensible policies on tax and spending and debt will be necessary – but will not be enough on their own.

Our debt crisis is not only the result of reckless spending. It is also the fall of tax income. A crazy financial bubble brought big fluffy tax takes into the Treasury. Gordon Brown spent it all in full – then borrowed more on top.

Now tax revenues from corporation tax to fat cat income tax have fallen off a cliff because the City, banks and business all crashed into recession.

Spending has gone up. Tax revenue has gone down. Result – colossal and mounting debt.

George has boldly and correctly declared the need for spending cuts. He also needs revenue. We need successful business to create wealth, jobs and economic growth – and profits from which to pay taxes.

I have been through more public spending rounds than most people have had hot dinners. I admire George Osborne and Philip Hammond and I completely trust them to succeed at that task. They have the hard bit of the problem. I and my team have the fun bit – getting the climate right for the best of British business to succeed again and to create the wealth and security for future generations.


New Labour has been a burden and a handicap on business that we can no longer afford. The world of New Labour is more bureaucratic than anything we have ever known. An over-powerful executive, bigger government, an ungovernable bureaucracy. We all feel it in our daily lives. Businesses, in particular small businesses, face far more than their fair share of it.

How much does it cost? Estimates vary. Everyone agrees it is a great and still growing burden. For our entrepreneurs it is not just money, it is wasted time.

The Federation of Small Businesses says its members now spend on average seven hours a week on official form-filling and red tape of one kind or another. The people who run the health service, education and the police would tell you the same.

To get Britain back in business, the excessive regulation that businesses – and the great public services – face has to be swept away. Managers should not have to deal with excessive regulations, countless government quangos and too many inspectors of one kind or another, when they ought to be getting on with making their businesses survive and grow, their public services improve and creating new secure jobs .


The instinctive dislike that we Conservatives feel for excessive bureaucracy is anathema to Labour. One thing New Labour never lost was the idea that the gentleman in Whitehall knows best. Socialists thought, and New Labour still thinks, that politics and government have the answer to everything. They can’t hold themselves back from wishing to have a policy on this, an initiative on that, a public protection intervention of one sort or another. Whenever we have a Labour government, government just gets bigger.

I don’t think any of this regulation, bureaucracy or legalism was ever introduced for malicious motives. The well-meaning nanny state is at the very heart of this system. A sort of puritan belief that everything can be so perfected that no risk of any kind is ever going to be taken. Parliament churns out legislation like a sausage machine. The tax code is twice as long and complicated as it was in my day. And British life and British business suffer.


We are publishing today a paper which was outlined earlier by John Penrose, which sets out our plans to win the battle against red tape. We need to protect the highest standards of health, safety, fair trading and honesty in business life. We are not going to lower standards. We do not need mountains of forms, thousands of non-jobs, hundreds of quangos in gleaming office blocks to achieve that. Regulations based on achieving outcomes rather than just blindly following box-ticking procedure, will actually work better.

John Penrose’s paper sets it all out. It is solid policy. It is a worthwhile read. We will introduce a system of regulatory budgets across government, that means that no new red tape will be introduced without a compensating cut in the costs and burden somewhere else. We will give each regulator and quango a ‘sunset clause’. That means they will automatically cease to exist after a set period unless they can prove their continuing usefulness. Finally, we will create a stronger and more assertive Parliament which can scrutinise new laws more effectively. We need better laws not just more laws.


This part of our policy passes my favourite test for economic policy making.

I’ve always thought that the most important job of the Business Ministry – and the Treasury come to that – is to make it easier for the small businessman in the Midlands to make his living, to produce a bit of prosperity and create some jobs. That was a guiding principle I often stated when I was Chancellor. It should be our guiding light now.

The question ministers must ask themselves is – are we making it easier for that businessman or businesswoman to thrive or not? And half the time, as they will tell you, this government’s getting in the way.

We are in the final stages of developing policies in many other areas. To plug the gaps in the venture capital market. To provide more apprenticeships and training opportunities. To develop our science and engineering. With James Dyson’s help, to ensure that our innovations in science and engineering are translated into businesses, services and employment in this country and not lured away by better business conditions for enterprise abroad.

Today – Deregulation. We will have to strive to provide the right environment for businesses, large and small, to grow. For if you succeed on that score, you provide the growth, the tax revenues, the jobs and prosperity which come with it. That is how to get out of trouble. Britain must be open for business again.


We need big British business as well. Big business needs to work with government in different ways. It needs government alongside it in markets across the world, where there is a political content in marketing. There are plenty of countries in the world where the government has got to be supportive to enable its own businesses to be in with a shout.

We don’t believe that Government can create national champions but those that emerge become our national champions, and we take pride in them. Some modern businesses require multinational scale, to be a success and take their fair share of the jobs and the prosperity that come from great new industries.

The UK’s future depends on these great industries – increasingly in new areas like high technology manufacturing and the creative industries. That means rebalancing our economy away from dangerous over-dependence on areas like financial services.

Try telling business people or politicians from the States, Germany or Japan, that you can have a successful wealthy economy without having any manufacturing. Only the British came to believe that. In 12 years of Labour Government, the number of manufacturing jobs in Britain has dropped by more than a third. We have paid for the error. Britain has to make things again.


The future lies in nurturing high-added value, technologically advanced, scientifically innovative, well-managed, aggressively marketed companies. Providing our young people with all the skills and the ability to contribute to those fields.

That is the mission on which all our team was focused when we presented Get Britain Working yesterday.


If an individual who wants to develop his own business can’t feel the Conservative Party is a friend, what exactly are we about as a centre right party?

If we say we all believe in free market economics then aren’t small businesses the best manifestation of the best qualities of free market economics?

If we want to have social mobility – and we do – have more small business.

If we want to have a less bureaucratic society, have more small business.

If we want to create jobs, have more small business.

Can we leave it to Brown and Mandelson? Led by David Cameron and George Osborne we need to do it ourselves.

Peter Mandelson displayed theatrical talents which we never suspected last week. From next May onwards he could have a future on the stage – and not just as a pantomime villain. He said I sometimes agree with him.

Yes I did – responsibly and in the national interest – agree with him on the future of Royal Mail. We agreed with him when he took his Bill through the House of Lords. And what happened? That weak and dithering Prime Minister – Gordon Brown – has stopped him bringing his Bill into the House of Commons.

Peter Mandelson’s boldest policy is now a symbol of paralysed indecision while the Royal Mail slips into insolvency and strikes.

So where has Peter Mandelson made his biggest mark on British politics so far? Ironically he is the man who saved Gordon Brown from the incompetent plotters in the Labour Party who were trying to overthrow him twelve months ago. That was the whole point of the Mandelson come-back. But for Peter Mandelson, Britain would have thrown off the burden of Brown as Prime Minister. Why, oh why did you do that Peter?

Gordon Brown contributed to the global crash by his failed reforms of bank regulation and his reckless Government borrowing.

Brown denied the crisis was here when it first hit us.

Brown denied that debt was a problem or that any of his spending and borrowing was unaffordable.

Brown was denying the need for any cuts at all in public spending or borrowing until only a few weeks ago.

For Britain, Gordon Brown is and was a large part of the problem – he can play no part in the answer.

So, as one comeback kid to another, Peter, why did you save Gordon Brown for the nation? The nation is not grateful.

And what is Gordon Brown’s main legacy going to be to the people of Britain? A terrible surge in unemployment.

Who would have thought it – that a Labour Government – a Labour Government – would ever preside over the biggest rise in unemployment in a single quarter since records began. Would Nye Bevan ever have imagined that twelve years of Labour Government would end with one in five young people under the age of 24 unemployed? That is the legacy for real people of Gordon Brown.

When I first started coming to this Conference – a long time ago – my great hero was a man called Iain Macleod.

Iain is, alas, little remembered now – he died in 11 Downing Street after a few weeks only as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I can remember him charging the Party Conference with a striking phrase.

Labour was about to leave an economic mess behind to a Conservative Government. A mess it was but Iain could never have imagined an economic catastrophe as bad as the legacy that New Labour will leave to us.

Macleod said “Labour may scheme their schemes, Liberals may dream their dreams, but we have work to do”.

Mandelson is a schemer. Clegg is a dreamer, Cameron and Osborne are highly intelligent decent young politicians who have what it takes to do the work. And you and I still have the work to do to put them into Downing Street to lead our country to future economic security and success – to make Britain a decent place to trade and do business again.

Ken Clarke – 2005 Conservative Party Conference Speech


Below is the speech made by Ken Clarke at the 2005 Conservative Party Conference on 4th October 2005.

I do not know about you, but I am fed up with our party losing elections.

We used to be members of a party that won elections. In fact, we won so many that we were able to change the political and economic landscape of this country

hugely for the better. In the 21st century, we can and we must do this again.

If you are sometimes fed up and angry with our plight – as I am – you have a choice. You can give up, bail out, and call it a day. Or you can get stuck in, decide to fight, and give it your all. That is what I intend to do – and I know it is what you intend to do.

So we come here today as a party with a purpose. It is to begin a great endeavour – nothing less than to make our Conservative Party once again the natural party of government in this country.

In winning power, the economy will always be at the heart of the debate, and rightly so.

You can have marvellous policies on every other subject, but if you do not win the argument on the economy, you are sunk. You are left with a political doughnut with an enormous hole in the middle.

I do not have to prove my economic competence to the British public. I won my reputation over four years as Chancellor.

Remember the strong economy which Labour inherited from us in 1997: low inflation; steady growth; falling debt. We were creating a modern enterprise economy.

We worked for it. We achieved it. Labour has profited from it.

Up until now, Gordon Brown has had a good run, on the back of the tough decisions which we took a decade ago.

But today the British economy is at risk. At risk from big spending, from high taxes and from too much debt.

He’s already spending tomorrow’s taxes today. He is keeping the economy afloat on a sea of debt.

Growth is slowing rapidly and unemployment is on the rise. Families across the country find themselves burdened with a trillion pounds of household debt.

Consumers are cutting their spending and our retailers are feeling the pain.

Initially Mr Brown was in denial. Now even he has finally admitted that his forecasts for economic growth were wildly optimistic – as every expert said.

His “golden rule” turned out to be fool’s gold.

He even had to change the starting date of the economic cycle to include the two years of surplus that he only achieved by sticking to my spending figures when

Labour came to power. I suppose you might call it a compliment.

The tragedy is that Gordon Brown could have done great things with our inheritance. But he’s blown it. He has turned out to be just another tax and spend Labour Chancellor, but on a lucky streak.

No wonder he is anxious to move next door!

In fact, I have never seen a man more impatient to leave his job. His office is all packed up. The good-bye drinks are in the diary. He knows where he wants to hang his pictures in Number 10.

The only problem is – the boss won’t budge. But even if he does, there’s no escape. Brown’s legacy will haunt him; we’ll make sure of that.

The fact is that the Labour Party has never really understood how a modern, successful market economy works. They just don’t get it.

Where our instinct, as Tories, is to set the people free, theirs is to organise, regulate and control. It is in their very blood-stream.

I say this: Let us never, ever allow the achievements of the Thatcher years to be thrown away. To be salami sliced – Labour slice, by Labour slice – until there is nothing left.

The corner-stone of our prosperity, and the key aim of our years in power, has to be the rebuilding of an enterprise culture in Britain.

We have to fight and win a new battle of ideas in favour of better but smaller government in the 21st century. That is the best way of making Britain prosperous and free.

When we left power, we had almost succeeded in getting public expenditure down to 40 per cent of our economy. I cut the share of national income spent by government by 2.5 per cent. It may not sound a lot, but it’s a huge amount of money.

This 40 per cent target – the key to stopping the remorseless growth of government in the modern world – should once again be our goal. If the Government takes 40 per cent, the rest is available for our entrepreneurs to create wealth and jobs.

Since we left power, taxes in Britain have risen and become far too complicated. Of course a Conservative government will aim to reduce and simplify our taxes.

But this will not be easy. When it comes to tax, like many things, it is better to under-promise and over-perform. But the direction we want to move in should be clear – and we should stick to it.

I am the only person in today’s House of Commons ever to have made real reductions in income tax: I cut 2p off the basic rate.

When Gordon Brown shaved a penny off, he quickly slapped it back on National Insurance. His reduction was cosmetic; my cuts were for real. That’s the difference between Conservative and Labour.

Anyone in this hall who does not believe in a low-tax economy has come to the wrong party conference. In government, there will be work to be done to achieve that.

Low taxation will be the prize but only if we first reduce debt and control spending. We demonstrate all over again that it is possible to have modern public services and still keep growth of public spending below the growth of the real economy. That is the art of good government in the modern world. It is the art all good Conservatives have mastered.

The economic management of the fourth largest economy in the world is an enormous responsibility which the Conservative Party wants to take up again.

When we take over, we will find that the books have been cooked by New Labour.

We will have to produce the first honest public accounts that Britain has had for many years before we discover the true extent of the problems we face.

We must prove that we have the competence and the courage to deliver economic success. Labour has always left economic failure behind them. They are going to do it again. It will fall to us to once again to pick up the pieces and enable Britain to remain a strong economic power in the modern world.

This is the third party conference in three weeks with a leadership contest.

Charles Kennedy just hung on – that is good news.

Labour’s two big beasts yet again locked horns over when one should hand over the baton to the other. I would not put those two in a relay team!

We Conservatives now have to choose an even bigger beast than either of them – to push Labour out of office at the next general election and return us to government.

I do not just want us to win the next general election so we can set Britain on the right economic road again. I want us to win because of the damage that I believe Tony Blair and New Labour are doing to the way we are governed.

I believe that New Labour has undermined the health of our democracy.

They have abandoned the proper processes of Cabinet government.

They have turned the great Secretaries of State into the lackeys of Downing Street.

They have doubled the number of political advisers.

They have changed the rules so that those advisers can now invent policies and bully civil servants about.

They have treated Parliament with a mixture of indifference and contempt.

They have sidelined local government and created a proliferation of quangos.

Their obsession with press headlines and media moments has taken over our political system.

Much of our problem as a party is that people do not trust us. It is not that they do not trust us because we are Conservatives. They do not trust us because we are politicians.

We must show that we are different politicians who believe in Cabinet Government, accountability to Parliament, an independent civil service and who aspire to be the servants of the people and not their masters nor their deceivers.

Mr Brown is now putting it about that things will be different if he makes it to No. 10.

Fat chance! A Brown government will be control-freakery elevated into a principle of Government. There is no Minister more obsessed with personal control of every corner of government than Mr Brown. There is no Minister who has been more dismissive of his colleagues and his officials. There is no Minister who worries more about what the headline will be in tomorrow’s papers.

I would not dare say that Gordon Brown is “psychologically flawed”. I leave that sort of thing to No. 10. I do say that Mr Brown is a team player – who believes in a team of one.

He will seek to run every part of government with the same compulsion to intervene he has shown as Chancellor. And when it all goes wrong, he will simply try to blame someone else.

With Mr Blair we have had a president; with Mr Brown we are going to have an emperor. We must make sure that this would-be Napoleon meets his Waterloo.

As Conservatives, we have a strong set of values in which we deeply believe: strong defence, low taxation, smarter and honest government, market economics, law and order, the family.

Our philosophy is rooted in the tolerant instincts of the British people. It places its faith in the individualism and civic energy of our citizens.

These are my values and always have been and they are our values as a party. I believe they are values shared by a clear majority of our fellow citizens.

Tony Blair has tried to steal some of our principles and our policies – against the instincts of his own party. He has been a huge political cuckoo sitting right in the middle of our nest.

Gordon Brown told the Labour Conference that they were going to dominate the centre ground. Oh no, they are not! The time has come to take back the political ground that should be ours. It’s time to start winning again.

David Willetts keeps telling us that we will all need to work harder and retire later. I am determined to do my bit.

I have put in a job application for a new, rather demanding job this December.

That job will be to lead this party back to power and to lead this country into a better, more confident future.

I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I promise you this. If you give me the chance to lead this party, I will lead it unspun. I will say what I think, and try to do what I say, as I have always done in politics.

The question we have to answer is: do we really want to win?

When I ask myself why do I fight to get re-elected to Parliament again, why do I hurl myself upon the spears of yet another leadership election, why do I tangle daily with the media and still feel the same tingle of excitement that I did when I first started my political career? It is because I want Conservative values to win again and, with you, to return to our task of making this country an even better place to live in.

Fellow Conservatives, let us win together.

Ken Clarke – 1996 Budget Statement


Below is the text of the 1996 Budget Statement made by Ken Clarke, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons.


Mr Deputy Speaker, the British economy is today prosperous and successful. This Budget will make it even more prosperous and an even bigger success over the coming years.

When I presented my first Budget in 1993, it was against a very different background from today. Although the recovery had begun, consumer confidence had not yet returned. Growth was not yet firmly established. Further firm action was needed on the public finances, and our critics were peddling doom and gloom.

The recovery is now in its fifth year. Consumer confidence has returned and we are achieving something unprecedented for a generation – growth with low inflation and without a widening trade gap. But one thing has not changed – our critics still peddle doom and gloom.

In my first two Budgets I curbed the growth of public spending and took firm decisions on tax, which have brought borrowing down by almost half since 1993.

Last year, in my third Budget, I was able to return to cutting tax while spending more on the public services which people care about most – health, schools and the police – and keeping borrowing on a firm downward path.

This year, I am presenting a Budget which builds on my last three. It reduces public spending plans further, while providing more money for priority services. It makes responsible progress on our tax cutting agenda, while getting borrowing down faster. This is not a reckless Budget on tax or spending. In the run up to Christmas I am not going to play Santa Claus, but this year I do not have to play Scrooge either.

I have one overriding aim – the lasting health of the British economy. We are securing that by creating the best conditions for British businesses and British men and women to earn a living. All my Budgets and all my policies have been designed to set this country on course to be the strongest industrial economy in Western Europe in years to come.


The British economy is in its fifth successive year of steady, healthy economic growth, with falling unemployment and low inflation.

These are the best circumstances we have faced for a generation.

This is a Rolls Royce recovery – built to last.

The IMF and the OECD expect the UK to be the fastest growing major European economy again next year.

By next year we will have grown faster than either France or Germany for 5 years in succession for the the first time in half a century.

This time – unlike so many previous recoveries – healthy growth has been accompanied by the best inflation performance for nearly 50 years. And restrained growth of earnings has been good news for jobs.

The British labour market has become our flexible friend. Employment began to rise sooner and unemployment began to fall sooner than in the previous recovery. Growth creates jobs quicker in a flexible labour market.

The OECD have praised us for having one of the least regulated labour markets in the industrialised world. High social overheads, minimum wages and unnecessary legislation do not protect workers – they cost jobs. Unemployment is still rising in France and Germany. It has fallen sharply here, to its lowest levels for over 5 1/2 years.

In the bad old days recoveries were derailed by balance of payments crises. In this recovery, the current account has actually improved, despite the slowdown in our main European markets. In fact we now have a current account broadly in balance – our best overall trading performance for nearly 10 years.

Economic policy

Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to ask the British people – in the years ahead do we seriously want to be prosperous? I think we do. If so, we need an economic policy aimed at the next 5 years, not just at the next 5 months. We want an economic policy that will go on delivering our enviable combination of rising prosperity, low inflation and more jobs. That is my purpose in this Budget. This Budget secures a prosperous future for all sections of our people and their families. It is a Budget not just for today but for tomorrow. This is a sensible Budget for growing prosperity.

The last thing the British economy needs now is a change of direction.

We need at least another 5 years of this Government’s continuous vigilance on inflation.

We need more of this Government’s determination to get government borrowing down.

We need another 5 years of this Government’s commitment to raise the wealth-creating potential of the British economy, by improving incentives, reducing the role of the State and creating a climate for enterprise.


I expect the British economy to grow by 2 1/2 per cent this year and 3 1/2 per cent next year – and there are few serious commentators who will disagree with that.

By keeping a close eye on the prospects for inflation up to 2 years out, and by taking sensible early action if and when necessary, I intend to ensure that healthy growth continues without inflationary pressures emerging. That is what I have always promised – no return to boom and bust.

Consumer spending

I expect consumers’ expenditure to continue to be the main engine of growth next year. The real value of take home pay is growing strongly.

The housing market recovery is firmly established. I hope that negative equity can soon be consigned to the economic history books.

People are feeling the improvement in their family finances. Consumer confidence is at its highest levels for over 8 years.

I expect consumer spending to grow by 3 per cent in 1996 as a whole. But it has been strengthening through the year. I expect stronger growth to continue, with consumers’ expenditure rising by over 4 per cent next year.


But this recovery is not just about a more confident consumer. Businesses are optimistic too. The climate for business is excellent: strong demand at home and a recovery in our key export markets present British industry and commerce with tremendous opportunities.

Interest rates and tax rates remain low and profitability is high. The result has been business investment growth of 6 per cent so far this year. I expect business investment to continue to grow strongly: by almost 10 per cent next year.

These excellent conditions for business are not lost on overseas companies looking to invest for the future. Let us never forget the most valuable practical endorsement that we get for our sound economic policies. The United Kingdom remains the No.1 destination for inward investment into the European Union. Keeping our enterprise economy on course at the heart of Europe will keep us in pole position.


Exports have grown by almost 20 per cent over the last 2 years – an impressive performance in the face of weak demand in our key European markets. This achievement is down to our strong cost conscious British exporters. They will benefit further next year as the tentative recovery on the continent becomes more established. I expect export volumes to rise by over 7 per cent this year and 6 per cent next year.

The current account has been close to balance during the last 2 1/2 years, thanks to strong growth in exports and income from our investments overseas. I expect the current account to remain broadly in balance this year and next.


Our thriving economy is creating jobs. Employment has risen by over 3/4 million since the recovery began. Unemployment has fallen by almost a million from its peak. It will soon drop through the 2 million mark. This is still too high and I want it to go on falling and I expect it to go on falling.


We are on course to get underlying inflation down to our target of 2 1/2 per cent or less and to keep it there. In October, underlying inflation rose slightly, to just over 3 per cent. This should not have surprised anybody who looked at last year’s statistics. It is a temporary and inevitable reflection of the exceptional falls in the price level 12 months before.

Let me give you my concrete reasons for being so confident about low inflation. Apart from oil prices, which have risen sharply, commodity prices are steady and are not putting upward pressure on inflation. Earnings growth remains sensible and modest. Producer price inflation – a good indicator of what is in the pipeline for retail price inflation – is at its lowest levels since the 1960s. Producer input prices are actually lower than they were a year ago.

Any risk to this recovery from inflationary pressures reemerging remains a good way off. But as I have demonstrated again and again, when I see any risks, I will act. I will continue to stay ahead of the game on monetary policy. Eddie will keep me steady and I will continue to be canny.

I expect underlying inflation to meet our target of 2 1/2 per cent or less. I will ensure that it goes on meeting that target for the foreseeable future.


We have made good progress in reducing public sector borrowing, but not as fast as I expected. The Budget therefore targets public sector borrowing. One reason why I continue to concentrate so heavily on public sector borrowing in setting policy is because money spent paying the interest on our debt would be better spent on public services and to reduce taxes.

We are making good progress on bringing down borrowing, but lower than expected tax revenues mean that it has not fallen as fast as I expected in the last Budget. This is not bad news for everyone. People are no doubt quite glad not to be paying as much tax as I expected. As I am the Chancellor, I prefer to keep any tax cuts under my control.

The causes of these shortfalls in our forecasts of tax revenue, primarily on VAT, but also on direct taxes, cannot wholly be explained by any experts inside or outside the Revenue Departments. But there does seem to be an increasing tendency to exploit loopholes and use special reliefs in an artificial way to reduce tax bills. Those sort of tax cuts are unacceptable. If they are not tackled every year in the Budget, they mean that a few people pay less tax, but the rest must pay more.

In this Budget I will propose a number of measures to stem tax leakage, to protect the ordinary tax payer and make sure we get the right tax from the right people. When I reduce tax I want to do so in a way that is fair for businesses and fair for the hard working British man and woman.

Government borrowing has been steadily coming down for 3 years. This Budget will ensure Government borrowing keeps coming down. I expect the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement to be 26 1/2 billion Pounds this year. That will mean it has halved as a share of GDP over the past 3 years. I expect it to come down to 19 billion Pounds next year and to be broadly in balance by 1999-2000.

That pattern of declining borrowing is very much better than the one I had to put in my Summer Economic Forecast last July – 4 billion Pounds better next year. A large part of that improvement is the result of the measures I am taking in this Budget. This Budget tightens fiscal policy. I am tightening fiscal policy now to reduce the risk of having to tighten monetary policy excessively as I set policy to hit my inflation target.

My decisions are always taken solely in British interests to benefit the British economy. But my decisions in this Budget also mean that, by happy coincidence, we will meet the Maastricht debt and deficit criteria in 1997, and we will do even better than that in the medium term. It is a happy coincidence because those criteria make sound economic sense, with or without a single currency. Our option whether to join or stay out of a single currency, based on British national interest, remains a genuine choice for the next Parliament to exercise, when the time comes.

This Government is the champion of sound public finances, of limited government and of low taxation. Our combination of low taxation, low public spending and low debt is the best in Europe. We intend to stay in that enviable position. We can only do this if we continue to bear down on public spending.


In the 1980s, across the rest of Europe, the modern State remorselessly took an ever greater share of almost every nation’s wealth. We in Britain held the line. The proportion of GDP going into Government spending in the United Kingdom is now 8 per cent lower than the average in the rest of the European Union. If our spending had risen to their levels we would now have to raise nearly 2,300 Pounds a year more in tax from every British household.

I have set a target of 40 per cent or below for the share of national income that goes on public spending. Making progress towards this target means tough decisions on public spending every year. But this year we have had to cope with the costs of BSE and larger than expected increases in the costs of social security, as more and more elderly and disabled people receive benefits to which they are entitled.

Against this background, we had to keep the rest of public spending within the tightest possible limits, in order for us to spend more on the public services people really care about – education, combating crime and on our National Health Service.

This country has been well served by my Right Honourable Friend the Chief Secretary who has successfully tackled this problem. Despite all the difficulties, we have been able to reduce public spending plans over the next 3 years by a further 7 billion Pounds in this Budget. Public spending next year will be over 24 billion Pounds lower than was projected when I became Chancellor – a reduction of 7 per cent.

We have been able to reduce spending plans because we have lower inflation, falling unemployment, a continuing campaign for efficiency in the public sector and sensible policy priorities. On top of that, the Government’s relentless drive against fraud and abuse of tax and benefits will be stepped up another gear.

Next year we are going to meet our target of 40 per cent for the share of national income that goes on public spending. In last year’s Budget I said I would make 40 per cent in 1997-98. This year’s Budget secures that important goal. So long as we keep the growth in public spending down below the growth in the economy, we will go below that.


Education is the key to the future of any prosperous and civilised society. It helps to determine how well the economy performs in the long run. It also helps to determine the sort of citizens we are and the sort of society we have. This Government is committed to raising standards in education.

As a result of last year’s Budget 878 million Pounds extra was provided for schools this year. We are giving schools priority again in this Budget. Planned expenditure on schools will rise by another 830 million Pounds next year. A large proportion of this money – 633 million Pounds – will be channelled through the local authorities.

Judging by last year’s experience, some local authorities are reluctant to pass these increases on to their schools, preferring to spend the money on other areas. It is no good local authorities campaigning for more spending on education in the autumn and then spending their money on other things in the spring. Parents will want to make sure their local authorities spend money on the things they want for their children – good teachers and better equipped schools.

A good school has a value far and beyond its buildings. But the quality of school buildings in which our children are taught is still very important. We will be providing an extra 50 million Pounds on top of the previously planned provision for more capital investment to improve the fabric of our schools.

By setting high standards for schools and increasing choice for parents, this Government is delivering better trained and better qualified young people. Almost 1 in 3 young people now go on to university, compared with 1 in 8 in 1979. And our universities and colleges maintain some of the highest standards in the world despite the pressure on their unit costs that this unprecedented explosion of opportunity for young people has produced.

But I recognise this pressure and I also realise that our universities and colleges make an important contribution to the economy. My Budget therefore includes 280 million Pounds to boost further and higher education over the next 2 years. This includes an extra 20 million Pounds next year for science equipment. We want to ensure that the British science research base remains the best in the world, which it certainly is at the moment.

As the Secretary of State for Education and Employment announced in September, the Government is planning a substantial sale of student loans debt.

It makes no sense for the Government to keep a huge portfolio of loans on its books when the private sector could manage it more effectively and is better placed to cope with the risk. The sale will have no effect on the terms on which students can get loans. The substantial reduction in the figures for education that members will find published in the new spending plans is more than accounted for by the sale of this debt. We will actually spend more on the things that really matter – educating our children and young people.

Combating crime

This Government believes that effective law and order is an essential part of making Britain a nation at ease with itself. A good quality police service and an effective system of criminal justice, are high on the list of this Government’s priorities.

When it comes to spending on law and order this Government has a record as long as your arm. Spending on law and order has already doubled in real terms since 1979. Provision for combating crime – police and prisons – will now rise by another 450 million Pounds next year. Our plans provide for 2,000 more police constables by the end of next year. We are well on course to meet the Prime Minister’s pledge for 5,000 more constables.


Our British National Health Service, with treatment free at the point of delivery, is the envy of the world.

In every modern, civilised society the demand for better health care, for new techniques to save lives and improve our quality of life grows constantly. This Government completely understands that. That is why we have increased spending by some 75 per cent in real terms since 1979. That is why the Prime Minister has pledged more resources for the National Health Service in real terms every year, throughout the next Parliament.

We are also spending that money better. We have reformed the NHS so it is much better managed and much more efficient. When waste is reduced, more can be directed to higher quality patient care. This means that patients get more treatment and care out of every pound that we spend.

For next year, we will increase current spending on patient services by 1.6 billion Pounds, or 2.9 per cent in real terms. The real increase in current spending for hospitals next year over and above inflation will be 3 per cent.

On top of this, Private Finance Initiative investment will play an increasingly important role in providing new healthcare facilities. The PFI contract for the Norfolk and Norwich hospital scheme, worth close to 200 million Pounds, was signed yesterday, and others will follow. PFI investment in the NHS will reach some 900 million Pounds over the next 3 years on top of the increased public spending I am announcing.

The NHS will continue to grow and continue to improve. We are totally committed to the National Health Service as a public service providing high quality up-to-date treatment, free at the point of delivery.

By our decisions on public spending, we prove that the NHS remains at the top of the Government’s priorities. The NHS has been safe in our hands, it is safe in our hands and it will always be safe in our hands.

Other programmes

This year’s spending round was as tight as any I can remember, eye-wateringly tight, but we never lost sight of our objective which is to sustain and improve the key public services that the British public care about: education, combating crime and our National Health Service. In part we have achieved that by increasing efficiency within the priority services but inevitably we have also had to find savings in other programmes.

Falling unemployment and lower inflation has helped to reduce the social security and employment programmes. We are also continuing to transfer activities to the private sector where this is more efficient as it is for student loans. We have refocused the housing programme to encourage the use of private finance and the transfer of the local authority housing stock to the private sector. We are stepping up our programmes against fraud. We are continuing our remorseless squeeze on the costs of bureaucracy itself. And we have looked in every department for ways of achieving our objectives more economically. With efficiency savings, most departments will be able to deliver their programmes next year, but with less money in real terms.

Private Finance Initiative

People pay their taxes in order to get good quality public services, not to accumulate state-owned buildings. This simple truth has led to the development of the Private Finance Initiative.

The PFI helps to square the circle of sound public finances and growing demand for better and more modern public services by tapping the expertise and the resources of the private sector.

A year ago we had agreed 1.5 billion Pounds worth of deals – now we have agreed 7 billion Pounds, and we are on course to double that by March 1999. Time and again the taxpayer is getting better value for money, through new road schemes, new prison services, and Information Technology projects. And reforms to local government rules are bringing the PFI into new areas – notably schools.

London is currently experiencing a transport investment boom under the PFI: the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Thameslink 2000, the Docklands Light Railway extension, and the A40 and A13 improvements. This is in addition to conventional public and private capital spending on the Jubilee Line extension, the Heathrow Express and the new A12-M11 Hackney Link. Investment in London Transport is now running at 50 per cent in real terms above the average for the 1980s. London will soon become one of the biggest construction sites in the country. As a man from Nottingham, I can only say that I hope London will be even nicer when its finished.

Adding traditional capital spending to PFI investment, publicly sponsored capital spending in the United Kingdom in the next three years will be substantially higher in real terms than it was in the 1980s.

Social Security

One third of all public spending goes on Social Security.

Our social security system is there to provide an income when people cannot earn because of sickness, disability, unemployment, caring for relatives or old age. People on the left and right of politics continue to search for a radically different and better way of meeting these needs in our wealthy nation. I have studied many of their proposals and so far, I am afraid, nobody has yet come up with anything remotely sensible or practicable.

Until they come up with a radical alternative, if they ever do, our welfare safety net must remain affordable. It must not be allowed to damage the incentives of individuals or businesses in the private sector, because it is the wealth-creating enterprise economy that sustains our social security system.

In the post-War period social security has grown in real terms by around 5 per cent a year. In recent Budgets we have taken action to bring that growth under control. We now expect future growth of 1 1/2 per cent a year. Well below the growth of the economy.

Year after year, this Government has also vigorously attacked fraud and has reformed benefits to target them on those in genuine need. The measures I now propose in this Budget intensify these efforts yet again.

We plan a further move to align the benefits paid to lone parents and couples with children. From April 1998, new awards of Family Premium and Child Benefit will be the same for lone parents and couples. And we are introducing a number of measures on housing benefit and Council tax benefit to ensure that those on benefits do not have a more comfortable lifestyle than those who are supporting themselves on modest incomes. That would be unfair and unwise. Full details will be made available later today by my Right Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security.

In my Budget two years ago, I announced a whole package of measures to help the unemployed get back to work – from improvements to the Family Credit System to National Insurance holidays for employers taking on long-term unemployed people.

In this Budget I am providing another 100 million Pounds of new money, mainly targeted on people who have been unemployed for 2 years or more. They will be required to attend a compulsory programme of interviews with the employment service to give them a helping hand to compete in our ever improving market for jobs.

We are expanding Project Work pilots to a further 28 areas. This will create up to 100,000 new opportunities, on a programme with a good track record for getting long-term unemployed people back to work.

I can also announce pilots for a new scheme called “Contract for Work”. Private contractors will help people to find work. These firms will be paid by results. As with Project Work, if the scheme works better than the existing approach, we’ll expand it.

Dependency impoverishes us all. The welfare system should provide a safety net. It must provide the support that a caring society wants to give to our less fortunate fellow citizens. But the welfare system must never become a way of life. We do not want our social security system to be undermined by resentment. We have to take these careful measures because we are serious about protecting those in genuine need and we want to go on delivering that protection for the future.

Spend to save

We want to combine a strong affordable welfare system with a successful low tax economy. That means that when we spend money on social security, it must only go to those who need it. It also means that when we levy taxes we must make sure that they are paid by those who ought to pay them.

As part of our continuing fight against tax and benefit fraud and tax loopholes, I am introducing a package of measures called “spend to save”. This involves spending modest amounts of money – carefully targeted – to save much more money, and to raise revenue.

There will be more money next year to clamp down on benefit fraud. There will be more visits and checks on benefit claimants in high risk groups. And the information we already have on benefit claimants will be used more effectively to catch cheats.

Inland Revenue tax experts will be redeployed to investigate even more rigorously how some big, sophisticated companies seem to pay so little tax. They will make sure that companies are paying what they owe. And what we intended they should owe. In short, we intend to do more about companies being “economical with their tax”.

There will be more resources in the Revenue and Customs to stem the growth of the shadow economy. Tax cheats put law-abiding small entrepreneurs out of business. We all lose from that.

There will be more Customs and Excise Officers to tackle VAT and other tax abuse, including yet more to target the smuggling of alcohol and tobacco.

The “spend to save” package will cost 800 million Pounds over the next 3 years to secure, in a well-planned and measured way, revenue and expenditure savings of well over eight times that amount, 6.7 billion Pounds.

Running costs

“Spend to save” protects the ordinary taxpayer and the people in genuine need of benefits. It is not about more bureaucracy or more red tape. We remain a Government committed to deregulation. And committed to a more efficient Civil Service.

We have cut overall Central Government departments’ running costs by 8 per cent in real terms since the start of this Parliament and we are going to reduce them by a further 7 per cent by the end of the decade. Civil Service numbers are already below 1/2 million, and we expect this fall to continue.


The first duty of Government is to make sure that people can live their lives as they want and that businesses can flourish. People must have the opportunity of a good quality job to go to, a good standard of living, good schools and hospitals and safe streets to live in. Only when those essentials are secure, and only when the Government has made sure that it is not borrowing more than it should, can a Government think about tax cuts.

Last year I cut taxes paid by the ordinary family and this year I am able to cut a little more. I think that the message I have repeated over recent months has now been understood. If there are to be tax cuts, they must be for keeps. They must be backed not only by sound spending decisions but also by a sound fiscal judgement.

Consumer spending is strong and inflation remains in check. But a fiscal stimulus to the economy at this stage could be just as damaging as letting go of monetary policy. So, in setting my Budget, I have struck a careful balance.

I want to cut taxes, but first I have to continue my drive to secure the tax yield. I have to make sure that tax due is turned into tax paid. The balance of the tax burden must be distributed sensibly and fairly and it must not distort decisions or competition.

I am introducing a number of measures which will help us to achieve this. I am plugging some loopholes, ending some tax reliefs that have done their job and adjusting some indirect tax rates.


Even though VAT revenues have revived in recent months, they are still coming in significantly below what was expected last year. This Budget includes a crackdown on some of the clever wheezes that have sprung up to get around paying VAT. These measures will raise 3/4 billion Pounds in revenue next year, but they also protect a further 1 1/2 billion Pounds a year of existing revenue from further attack.

Customs will restrict access to special VAT schemes for retailers. We will also tighten up the rules of VAT relief schemes for bad debts, and the option to tax commercial property, to prevent widespread abuse of these reliefs. I also propose to take steps against retailers who reduce their VAT bills when selling insurance with their products.

We announced a 3 year limit on repayments of VAT claims. This was a sensible precautionary measure. Recent high profile court cases have revealed the potential exposure of the Exchequer to claims for tax going back to when the tax was first introduced. No responsible Government could leave the Exchequer, and, ultimately, all taxpayers, exposed in that way. Government needs to strike a balance between what is fair to the individual taxpayer, and what is fair to the whole body of taxpayers. The three year cap strikes that balance.

But one feature that attracted particular criticism from accountants and their clients was that Customs still retained the right to claim underpaid tax going back six years. This argument was rather disingenuous because Customs do not claim underpaid tax on unexpected changes to the interpretation of the law when those go against taxpayers. However, Government must not only be fair – it must be seen to be fair. I have, therefore, decided that Customs’ right to claim underpaid tax, in cases where no fraud or malpractice is involved, should be restricted to three years as well.

I will be releasing details today of a package of measures to stamp out tax abuse in a number of areas including leasing transactions, the abuse of foreign tax credit rules, and paying employees in their own company’s shares. I am sure these will be accepted as necessary and sensible measures to stem the growing loss of tax revenues. And to protect the ordinary tax payer.

I will not tolerate tax abuse. A number of these measures are being introduced, subject to the Finance Bill becoming law, with effect from today.

Special tax reliefs can be a powerful tool. They can play an important pump-priming role, encouraging companies and individuals to change their behaviour in a way which benefits the wider economy. But by their very nature, they need to be used very selectively. We owe it to the ordinary tax payer to keep each and every special tax relief under constant review to determine whether it is still justified, or whether it has now served its useful purpose.

Profit Related Pay

The tax relief this Government introduced in 1987 to promote profit related pay schemes has been a success. It has played a key role in reinforcing this Government’s strong beliefs that employees’ rewards should depend on the success of the business for which they work.

I have always believed, and argued publicly for years, that in a modern enterprise economy people’s pay should be closely linked to the performance of the business for which they work. The best way for businesses to motivate their staff is to let them share in the rewards of success. I am delighted that tax reliefs have helped to get this idea accepted so widely.

The tax relief on Profit Related Pay was always intended to be a pump-priming measure. As Nigel Lawson said in 1986: “There is considerable inertia to overcome, so it might make sense to offer some temporary measure of tax relief”. Profit related pay is now firmly established as part of British businesses’ pay policy. Over 3.7 million people are in schemes. 10 years on, the tax incentive has successfully served its pump-priming purpose.

I can no longer justify the increasing cost of the tax relief to the 22 million taxpayers who are not in profit related pay schemes. We cannot permanently divide the workforce into groups who pay different levels of tax on the same earnings depending on whether the firm they work for is in a scheme or not. The goal of widespread use of PRP has been achieved and I would rather make faster progress on lower taxes for everybody.

Good managers do not need a tax relief any more to know that pay should be linked to their firm’s performance. Pay linked to profits produces it own rewards on the bottom line in a thriving economy.

It is therefore time for the Government to start to withdraw this special tax relief. I intend to do this gradually, to ensure that businesses who need to adjust their pay packages and their sharing of the rewards of success have ample time to do so.

The upper-limit of pay attracting the relief will remain unchanged at 4,000 Pounds until 1998 and no one will be affected before then. It will then be progressively reduced until the year 2000, when the relief will be withdrawn altogether.

Capital allowances for long life assets

Investment is vital to our recovery and business investment is now growing strongly. The tax system recognises investment through capital allowances. These allow the cost of investment to be written off against tax bills, frequently faster than it is written off in commercial accounts.

For plant and machinery with a long lifespan, the rate at which costs can be written off for tax is far more generous than for other types of investment and bears no relation to the useful economic life of the asset. This is an unjustifiable distortion in the tax system.

I propose changing the capital allowance for plant and machinery with a life of more than 25 years to 6 per cent on a reducing balance basis. This will spread the tax relief more evenly over the average life of these assets.

Groups spending less than 100,000 Pounds a year on such assets will be exempt. This will mean that the vast majority of small companies will not be affected. Ships and railways will also be exempt.

Oil production

I also propose to withdraw the 100 per cent corporation tax deduction for the intangible costs of drilling most production oil wells.


This Government recognises that low marginal tax rates on income are a spur to hard work and enterprise. Taxes on spending do less damage to effort and enterprise than taxes on income. But the balance of the taxes on spending must be right. And I am making some changes to taxes which help to move towards a better balance for the tax system as a whole.

Insurance Premium Tax

I propose to increase insurance premium tax, which applies to most general insurance, to 4 per cent. Three-quarters of all insurance – including life and other long-term insurance – will remain exempt. Insurance remains undertaxed for consumers compared with other services in this country. The introduction of the tax did not harm the healthy insurance industry that we have. Most companies absorbed the tax and some premia actually fell for a time. Even after this further modest change, the overall rate of insurance premium tax in the UK remains very low – lower than in almost any other European Union country.

Air Passenger Duty

Air travel has also been undertaxed because it has proved difficult to get international agreement to tax its fuel. The rates of air passenger duty are to be increased. The 5 Pound rate on flights to most European countries will be increased to 10 Pounds, and the 10 Pounds rate on flights to the rest of the world will be increased to 20 Pounds. These increases will not come into effect until 1 November 1997, to give tour operators time to reflect these new rates in the prices they publish in their holiday brochures.

Business travel is soaring and the holiday business is booming at the moment in prosperous Britain and this modest change will not stop it booming in future prosperous years. About 40 per cent of the revenue raised by this tax is borne by overseas visitors.

Vehicle Excise Duties

I am making the same changes to the main Vehicle Excise Duties this year as I did last year. The cost of a car tax disc will go up by 5 Pounds, around the rate of inflation. The cost of a lorry tax disc will be frozen for the seventh year in a row.

Road fuel duties

I firmly believe that motorists should bear the full costs of driving – not only wear and tear and congestion on the roads, but also the wider environmental costs. Even those of us who frequently have to drive can take steps to cut fuel consumption and we all ought to consider carefully the use of our cars.

I intend to stick to my 1993 Budget commitment to raise road fuel duties by an average of at least 5 per cent each year in real terms. In line with this I am raising the tax on all petrol and diesel by 3 pence per litre from 6.00 pm tonight. These tax rises will encourage fuel efficiency and help control harmful pollution.

Air quality package

I am glad to say that pollution from vehicles is already coming down, helped by tax measures in previous Budgets. The tax measures taken to encourage unleaded petrol were a huge success. It now accounts for two-thirds of the petrol market. I want to go further in this Budget to attack pollution in cities and improve air quality by effective steps to reduce particulate emissions – the smoke produced by diesel engines.

In recent years, new evidence has come to light strengthening the health arguments for reducing particulates. This pollution is being reduced, but we all want to see it being reduced further and faster.

Ultra-low sulphur diesel is cleaner than ordinary diesel, but is slightly more expensive to produce. I want to create the conditions where ultra-low sulphur diesel can cost the same at the pump as ordinary diesel. I have just said that I am increasing the tax on diesel by the same amount as petrol. I plan to reduce the duty on ultra-low sulphur diesel by 1 penny per litre relative to ordinary diesel, when I get the necessary international agreement.

I also want to encourage high mileage vehicles in our towns and cities to switch to cleaner gas power. Last year’s Budget changes broadly equalised the pump prices of gas and petrol. From 6.00pm tonight I am reducing the duty on road fuel gases by a further 25 per cent.

I also intend to reduce Vehicle Excise Duty by up to 500 Pounds for lorries meeting very stringent emissions standards from early 1998. This will give an incentive for lorry owners to fit particulate traps or to convert to gas power. We will be consulting on the practical details of these changes.

I believe that this “air quality package” will significantly speed up the reduction of urban emissions of particulates, helping us to meet our air quality targets for 2005 and beyond. We intend to ensure that economic growth in this country is consistent with a healthy environment and sustainable development.

Tobacco duties

In my 1993 Budget, I gave a commitment to raise duty on tobacco by more than inflation each year. I believe this is a fair and effective way to hammer home the message that smoking can seriously damage your health. So far I am concerned, this is necessary masochism in the wider public interest.

From 6pm this evening, the tax on a packet of 20 cigarettes will increase by about 15 pence, on a packet of small cigars by about 7 pence and on a packet of pipe tobacco by about 8 pence.

But I am limiting the increase in the duty on hand rolling tobacco to the rate of inflation. Hand-rolling tobacco is proving to be by far the easiest tobacco product to smuggle, although it represents a very small part of the tobacco market.


I am aware of the serious problem that cross-border shopping and smuggling of alcohol causes our drinks industry in Britain. I have already announced that Customs are stepping up their efforts further to catch smugglers.

Last year I was able to freeze the duty rate on beer and wine. This year it will remain frozen. The proportion of tax on the price of a pint in the pub is now at its lowest level for 30 years. For some of us, that helps to keep our small cigars affordable.

Last year’s cut in the duty on spirits was the first for 100 years. I was tempted to maintain a striking rate of once every 100 years. But I am sure the industry will be glad to know that they will not have to wait so long this time.

From 6.00pm tonight the tax on whisky, gin and other spirits will fall by another 4 per cent, worth 26 pence a bottle.

The reduction in the rate on spirits boosts an important industry in the United Kingdom. It will also reinforce last year’s signal to overseas authorities not to discriminate against our products. Only smugglers will regret that we are slowly moving our duty of spirits nearer to the continental level.

From 1 January, the tax on alcoholic soft drinks will be increased by over 40 per cent, by between 7 and 8 pence a bottle. This will help meet public concern about the attraction of these “alcopops” for under-age drinkers, and it will also attack a distortion of competition by bringing the tax broadly into line with beer.

You’ll notice that I have considered the balance of my overall package carefully and I have not yet been converted to a bubble-gum flavoured alcopop.


Nothing matters more for business than a stable economic environment – low interest rates and low inflation. Businesses throughout Britain are benefiting from the healthy sustainable growth in the economy that I have described today.

As I promised in my last Budget, from April 1997 there will be a cut in the main rate of employers’ National Insurance Contributions, to 10 per cent, paid for by the proceeds from the landfill tax. A tax on waste to cut a tax on jobs. This will benefit employers in Britain and make it cheaper to create new jobs in our growing economy.

Our overheads on jobs are already less than half those in Germany, France, or Italy. I am determined to keep that advantage over our continental competitors where the creation of new jobs is over-regulated and over-priced. This is another reason why I am confident that our unemployment will keep falling.

In this Budget, I propose to keep the three intermediate thresholds for employers’ National Insurance Contributions where they are now. I propose to increase – by 10 Pounds and 1 Pound respectively – the upper and lower earnings thresholds for employers’ and employees National Insurance Contributions.

In this Budget I also want to address a particular concern of our small businesses – the burden of non-domestic rates.

The Uniform Business Rate is a fixed cost which can rise each year beyond the control of the manager of a small business. Since the last revaluation of business rates, I have repeatedly slowed down the increase of rates for those businesses whose rates have had to go up. No business property has seen its rates go up by more than 7 1/2 per cent above inflation in any one year. But I want to do more than this.

I have decided to freeze next year’s rates bill for all the small businesses whose rates would have gone up. Small properties whose rates are falling will have those reductions accelerated. This will benefit over one million small business properties, by up to 130 Pounds a year.

A freeze is an important step that I can make this year. We have already reduced business rates for rural village shops. But I realise that the present system of business rates bears particularly hard on the smaller business for whom they represent a much bigger proportion of total costs. We must therefore move on as soon as possible to more changes in the system to recognise this and redistribute the burden more sensibly between smaller and larger businesses.

Inheritance tax

This Government is committed to reducing and then abolishing capital gains tax and inheritance tax. But we have always said that we will cut these taxes only when we can afford to do so. This is a responsible Budget which is protecting future growth and prosperity by putting the public finances into a healthier state.

We will not be able to make progress on both these taxes this year.

But I am pleased to announce that we can take a further significant step towards abolishing inheritance tax.

Inheritance tax is a penalty on thrift, independence and enterprise. It is a growing anachronism. Lloyd George’s maxim that the “the most convenient time to tax the rich is when they are dead” no longer holds. It is largely paid by people of modest means who either cannot or simply do not make careful plans to avoid it.

Last year I made significant progress towards our commitment. In this Budget I will build on that by raising the value of the inheritance tax threshold to 215,000 Pounds.

That means, that in two years the Government will have raised the threshold for inheritance tax by 40 per cent.

Tax rewrite

In last year’s Budget Speech I announced a project to rewrite Inland Revenue tax legislation in plain English. This project is as ambitious as translating the whole of War and Peace into lucid Swahili. In fact, it is more ambitious – War and Peace is only 1,500 pages long, Inland Revenue tax law is 6,000 pages. And we did not have a Tolstoy to write our taxation laws in the first place. We have consulted extensively on how the project should be carried out, and I am glad to say there is wide consensus. The Inland Revenue will publish the plans and arrangements shortly after the Budget.

The aim is to prepare a series of rewrite Bills, the first of them to be ready for enactment in the 1997-98 session. My noble and learned friend Lord Howe has produced a thorough and helpful report on how Parliament might handle these bills. We endorse his broad proposals, and invite the Procedure Committee to consider how the House is going to handle the bills in a sensible fashion. I can announce that my noble and learned friend Lord Howe has agreed to chair the steering Committee which will oversee the rewrite project.

The project will bring the benefits of clarity and certainty to businesses and ordinary taxpayers. It has been widely welcomed and deserves the continuing support it has enjoyed in all parts of the House.

Income tax

Mr Deputy Speaker, this Government has led Britain towards our clear goal of a low tax economy where private enterprise has the incentive to generate jobs, investment and wealth to make people and their families more prosperous. We are moving towards a low tax economy where individual living standards continue to rise and the Government can afford the excellent public services that people want.

Low direct taxes are the most effective way to encourage enterprise and hard work. Under this Government those who do an honest day’s work and those who take entrepreneurial risk will keep more of what they earn and save.

This year people have taken more heed of my speeches on the overriding priority of securing future prosperity and jobs and financing key public services. Sensible people already expect my cuts in direct taxation to be modest. They know their well-being depends on lasting growth and more jobs and that living standards rise from a combination of steadily rising incomes and steadily lowering taxes. Tax cuts matter a lot to low paid people and to men and women in ordinary jobs. I announced my income tax cuts last year as a return to our tax cutting agenda and for the second year in succession, I am delivering an instalment of that agenda. I want to ensure that tax does not start to be paid at all at too low a level of income and I want to improve work incentives. I propose first of all to raise the threshold below which no income tax is paid at all.

In this Budget, I am making an increase in the basic personal allowance of 280 Pounds. That is 3 1/2 times more than necessary to cover the rate of inflation. It will also ensure that each and every person who pays any income tax at all will get a direct benefit out of this Budget.

I am also increasing the married couple’s and related allowances by 40 Pounds, maintaining the extra tax allowance to all married couples. It will now be worth nearly 275 Pounds each year for married couples. The tax system does recognise marriage, contrary to popular belief.

We also give a special tax allowance to blind people. This year I am increasing that by the rate of inflation. And I will put indexation of this allowance onto the same statutory basis as for the other income tax allowances.

I also propose to raise the threshold above which people start to pay the 40 pence higher rate tax by 600 Pounds.

One of this Government’s most important pledges is that we will move to a basic rate of income tax of 20 pence as soon as we can. We are proving that we can move towards the delivery of the promise and still deliver healthy public finances. Every step we take makes it more and more credible. Every step that we take makes it more affordable to reach the ultimate goal which we are getting tantalisingly near to. As a further step towards that, I propose to widen the lower rate band of 20p tax by 200 Pounds, twice as much as required by indexation.

This will mean that the slice of income on which a 20 pence tax rate is paid will have more than doubled during the lifetime of this Parliament. More than one in four of all taxpayers now will only pay tax at 20p in the pound.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this is the stage of my Budget speech where everyone is asking themselves – are the guesses of the newspapers right? Am I indeed going to cut a penny off the basic rate of income tax? What the newspapers did not know was that my control of public spending and borrowing would have allowed me to take 2p off if I had chosen to. But I preferred instead to raise personal allowances and widen the 20p band for those at the bottom end of the scale.

And yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am indeed also able to reduce the basic rate of income tax, by 1 penny to 23 pence in the pound.

The small companies rate of corporation tax will be reduced to 23 per cent in line with this, helping 400,000 companies. The main rate of corporation tax of 33 pence is already lower than in any other major industrialised country.

Seventeen years of steady progress – so far – means that the basic rate of income tax is now a full 10 pence lower than the rate we inherited in 1979. It is at its lowest rate for 60 years. Its lowest rate since Baldwin was Prime Minister, Edward VIII abdicated and Wally Hammond scored a double century at the Oval.

Another penny off the basic rate is a significant further step towards this Government’s target of a 20 pence basic rate of tax. For over 7 million people – our promise of a 20 pence basic rate is already a reality. I am bringing other income taxpayers ever closer to that reality. 20 pence is a realistic and attainable goal for the next Parliament. We will not be content until we have completed the task of getting it down to 20 pence and every Budget I have presented has step by step shown how we are going to get there.


With increases in real earnings and the tax changes in this Budget, a family on average earnings will be another 370 Pounds better off next year over and above inflation. The same family will have over 1,100 Pounds more to spend each year after tax and inflation than they did before the last election. In 1992, the background was one of a worldwide slowdown and a recovery in the United Kingdom that had barely started. Now we are enjoying strong growth and rising living standards, and we are going to enjoy more of the same.


Mr Deputy Speaker. In November 1993 I promised that I would put Britain firmly on course for a sustained period of rising prosperity and falling unemployment, based on low inflation and healthy public finances.

I have done what I clearly said I would have to do and I have delivered on those promises.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Government believes in allowing people to keep as much as possible of their own income so that they can make their own decisions.

This Budget cuts public spending next year by 2 billion Pounds, and it generates an extra 1/2 billion Pounds in revenue through “spend to save”. It contains a balanced tax package – it includes tax cuts of 2 billion Pounds while it secures the tax base by 1 billion Pounds. Taken together the effect of the Budget is to tighten fiscal policy and so protect healthy lasting recovery.

I am a man of the world, I realise virtue doesn’t always brings its own rewards. But this virtuous Budget will bring rich rewards. The rewards of economic success to the hard working men and women of this country. Never forget, good economics is good politics.

This is not a Budget just for the next few months. It is a Budget for many prosperous years to come. It is a Budget that this Government will build upon again in twelve month’s time.

I commend this Budget to the House.

Ken Clarke – 1970 Maiden Speech to the House of Commons


Below is the text of the maiden speech in the House of Commons made by Ken Clarke on 8th July 1970.

May I first of all thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to catch your eye. May I also thank hon. Members in anticipation of the usual indulgence which I am sure they will show to a maiden speaker.

The first convention that I should like to follow, I follow not out of convention but quite sincerely, and that is to say a brief word or two about my predecessor, Mr. Tony Gardner, who represented the constituency of Rushcliffe in the last Parliament. Other hon. Members will know better than I the work that he did in this House. I can bear witness to the popularity in which he was held in his constituency and to the hard work that he did on behalf of his constituents of all parties. I am sure that in my constituency there is some regret at his absence from this House.

In that remark, I reveal that I represent the constituency of Rushcliffe which, like so many marginal seats, is not one entity at all but contains a number of areas which do not have a great deal in common. One part of the constituency is predominantly rural and agricultural. Another part is a collection of former mining villages which are slowly being rejuvenated, and the largest area is an urban district on the edge of the City of Nottingham.

One thing that those areas have in common, in so far as they have one local political problem in common at all, is the problem of education, which concerns parents throughout the constituency, and particularly the problems of secondary reorganisation. I should like to use the example of my constituency because the situation in the County of Nottingham, and in my constituency in particular, is not only of local interest but is of real relevance to the national debate. I think that the examples will illustrate how unreal this debate on secondary reorganisation can be if reduced simply to a contest, as it were, between those who are in favour of 11-plus selection and élitist education, on one side, and those who are against it, on the other. In my view, that would be a complete distortion of what ought to be the real debate on the ground in areas such at Nottinghamshire.

The first example I give is that the present Conservative local authority in the County of Nottingham is building purpose-built comprehensive schools without any local Conservative opposition whatever. A new school is being erected at Chilwell in my constituency, which will be a purpose-built comprehensive school having excellent educational amenities and will replace unsatisfactory earlier education buildings. It will be clear to all hon. Members who listened to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said today that that project will go ahead under the auspices of the Conservative-controlled authority and without the slightest hindrance or obstruction from her, either by way of her new circular or otherwise.

I contrast that with another example from my constituency, of a reorganisation which took place under the former Government and which was initiated when a different party was in control in the local authority. It was a reorganisation carried out following Circular 10/65, creating a school in West Bridgford known as the Rushcliffe Schools. As a result of that change, the present system is that three separate buildings are described as one school; they are 1½ miles apart, the pupils travel from one to another by bus, and the staff travel from one to another by car. That is called comprehensive education.

It goes further than that. Many hon. Members have examples of that sort of thing in their constituencies as a result of reorganisation, but few will have the additional problems affecting the Rushcliffe Schools. Part of the catchment area is genuinely comprehensive in its admissions policy and has all-ability entrance. But part of the catchment area lies within the constituency of Rushcliffe itself and comprises a number of villages in Nottinghamshire south of the River Trent. Pupils from that part have to sit the 11-plus examination, and those who are thought suitable for an academic education enter the grammar school stream of the comprehensive school while the others enter the local secondary modern schools. That was called a system of comprehensive education and was approved by the former Secretary of State.

I do not oppose such a system because I oppose any abolition of the 11-plus or because I believe in an élitist selective form of education, and nor do my right hon. and hon. Friends, but I should expect all hon. Members on both sides to oppose that sort of educational nonsense which results in such unfortunate effects on those villages where pupils either go or do not go into a school like the Rushcliffe Schools.

We have heard a good deal from the benches opposite, notably from the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) who moved the Amendment, about the need for central guidance from the Secretary of State in helping local authorities to deal with their problems. I look forward to central guidance from the present Secretary of State along the lines not of doctrine but of policy directed to avoiding the problems such as those which I have outlined in connection with the Rushcliffe Schools. That guidance should be based more on a concern for the best use of educational facilities in a particular area and should have more regard to parental wishes and the wishes of staff, having regard also to whether an existing school system in an area is in need of reform or is working properly. I dare say that if those criteria had been applied at an earlier stage to the reorganisation in my constituency, the present situation in the Rushcliffe Schools would not have materialised.

I make one more point in the same connection. That particular change-over was carried out and was approved by the then Secretary of State in the name of uniformity. Hon. Members opposite will understand how it happened, and may, perhaps, be able to think of some excuse when they learn that there was a purpose-built comprehensive school in the same district as the Rushcliffe Schools, it being argued on that ground – in terms familiar to those who have listened to the debate thus far – that because there was a purpose-built comprehensive school in the area, it was illogical not to have the whole area go comprehensive. On that ground, it was said that one should go in for the strange concoction which is now the Rushcliffe Schools.

Although, in the abstract, it may seem illogical to combine the two doctrines, on the ground, as soon as one looks at this particular problem one sees that it is quite illogical to say that because one purpose-built comprehensive school was built, one should totally disrupt the secondary education of pupils throughout the area. Uniformity introduced in that way will do great harm. Indeed, nothing will do more to discredit any move towards comprehensive education than to couple it with an insistence that the change-over must come as soon as any comprehensive school is built. If, whenever a comprehensive school is built, the result is that throughout the surrounding area schools in totally unsuitable buildings are brought into the change-over and are called comprehensive, the whole idea will be discredited and the pupils of the area will be adversely affected.

As I see it, the Government face two problems arising out of the change-over where it has taken place in the way which I have described. First, it will be necessary to reintroduce the flexibility and the common sense which, much to my reassurance, we heard the Secretary of State emphasise today. Although it may catch the notice of the education Press a little less often, it makes far more sense to look at individual cases and to consider them carefully before plunging into changes which may seem on the face of them to have some doctrinaire attractions.

Second, because of what has happened, I feel that the present Secretary of State should be generous in approving the building programmes and new resources in such areas – again, I have particularly in mind schools such as the Rushcliffe Schools – where the damage resulting from what has been done needs to be repaired. The only solution to that school is the necessary building of new premises to make sure that the schools can be put in one place and adequately provide for their area. I hope that the new Secretary of State will regard as one of her priorities in considering future building programmes the need to put right mistakes of this sort which have flowed from Circular 10/65 and the previous Government’s education policy.

I thank the House for its indulgence. I hope that the problems which I have outlined and the illustrations which I have given from my constituency will help to shed a little more light on what I feel should be the real issues in this debate on secondary education.

Winston Churchill – 1945 Response to the Loyal Address


Below is the text of the speech made in the House of Commons by the then Leader of the Opposition, Winston Churchill. The speech was made on 16th August 1945 and was the response to the Loyal Address.

It is customary, to an extent which has almost developed into routine, for the Leader of the Opposition on this occasion to begin by offering compliments to the mover and seconder of the Address, and I do not think I remember, in 42 years of service in this House, any occasion when that task has not been accomplished. But certainly I can recall few occasions when it was more easy to offer the unstinted compliments of the House than it is today to offer them to the two hon. and gallant Members who have addressed us. I say “two hon. and gallant Members” because service with the Fire Brigade will never be denied a meed of tribute to gallantry, except in the particular conventions which prevail in this Assembly. They have both made speeches which, if they have not plunged deeply into the matters which divide us or unite us, have nevertheless shown that, in achieving power in this country, the Labour Party have gathered most valuable elements into their body. We see, in these two Members who have addressed us for the first time with so much decorum and becoming taste, two who will, we hope, shine in our Debates. Their maiden speeches accomplished, they will wait other less favourable opportunities to take part in our Debates, and we trust that as the vicissitudes of British politics unfold, long and important political careers may await both of them.

Our duty this afternoon is to congratulate His Majesty’s Government on the very great improvement in our prospects at home, which comes from the complete victory gained over Japan and the establishment of peace throughout the world. Only a month ago it was necessary to continue at full speed and at enormous cost all preparations for a long and bloody campaign in the Far East. In the first days of the Potsdam Conference President Truman and I approved the plans submitted to us by the combined Chiefs of Staff for a series of great battles and landings in Malaya, in the Netherlands East Indies and in the homeland of Japan itself. These operations involved an effort not surpassed in Europe, and no one could measure the cost in British and American life and treasure they would require. Still less could it be known how long the stamping out of the resistance of Japan in many territories she had conquered, and especially in her homeland, would last. All the while the whole process of turning the world from war to peace would be hampered and delayed. Every form of peace activity was half strangled by the overriding priorities of war. No clear-cut decisions could be taken in the presence of this harsh dominating uncertainty.

During the last three months an element of baffling dualism has complicated every problem of policy and administration. We had to plan for peace and war at the same time. Immense armies were being demobilised; another powerful army was being prepared and despatched to the other side of the globe. All the personal stresses among millions of men eager to return to civil life, and hundreds of thousands of men who would have to be sent to new and severe campaigns in the Far East, presented themselves with growing tension. This dualism affected also every aspect of our economic and financial life.

How to set people free to use their activities in reviving the life of Britain, and at the same time to meet the stern demands of the war against Japan, constituted one or the most perplexing and distressing puzzles that in a long life-time of experience I have ever faced.

I confess it was with great anxiety that I surveyed this prospect a month ago. Since then I have been relieved of the burden. At the same time that burden, heavy though it still remains, has been immeasurably lightened. On 17th July there came to us at Potsdam the eagerly awaited news of the trial of the atomic bomb in the Mexican desert. Success beyond all dreams crowned this sombre, magnificent venture of our American Allies. The detailed reports of the Mexican desert experiment, which were brought to us a few days later by air, could leave no doubt in the minds of the very few who were informed, that we were in the presence of a new factor in human affairs, and possessed of powers which were irresistible. Great Britain had a right to be consulted in accordance with Anglo-American agreements. The decision to use the atomic bomb was taken by President Truman and myself at Potsdam, and we approved the military plans to unchain the dread, pent-up forces.

From that moment our outlook on the future was transformed. In preparation for the results of this experiment, the statements of the President and of Mr. Stimson and my own statement, which by the courtesy of the Prime Minister was subsequently read out on the broadcast, were framed in common agreement. Marshal Stalin was informed by President Truman that we contemplated using an explosive of incomparable power against Japan, and action proceeded in the way we all now know. It is to this atomic bomb more than to any other factor that we may ascribe the sudden and speedy ending of the war against Japan.

Before using it, it was necessary first of all to send a message in the form of an ultimatum to the Japanese which would apprise them of what unconditional surrender meant. This document was published on 26th July—the same day that another event, differently viewed on each side of the House, occurred. The assurances given to Japan about her future after her unconditional surrender had been made, were generous to a point. When we remember the cruel and treacherous nature of the utterly unprovoked attack made by the Japanese war lords upon the United States and Great Britain, these assurances must be considered magnanimous in a high degree. In a nutshell, they implied “Japan for the Japanese,” and even access to raw materials, apart from their control, was not denied to their densely-populated homeland. We felt that in view of the new and fearful agencies of war-power about to be employed, every inducement to surrender, compatible with our declared policy, should be set before them. This we owed to our consciences before using this awful weapon.

Secondly, by repeated warnings, emphasised by heavy bombing attacks, an endeavour was made to procure the general exodus of the civil population from the threatened cities. Thus everything in human power, short of using the atomic bomb, was done to spare the civil population of Japan, though there are voices which assert that the bomb should never have been used at all. I cannot associate myself with such ideas. Six years of total war have convinced most people that had the Germans or Japanese discovered this new weapon, they would have used it upon us to our complete destruction with the utmost alacrity. I am surprised that very worthy people, but people who in most cases had no intention of proceeding to the Japanese front themselves, should adopt the position that rather than throw this bomb, we should have sacrificed a million American and a quarter of a million British lives in the desperate battles and massacres of an invasion of Japan. Future generations will judge these dire decisions, and I believe that if they find themselves dwelling in a happier world from which war has been banished, and where freedom reigns, they will not condemn those who struggled for their benefit amid the horrors and miseries of this gruesome and ferocious epoch.

The bomb brought peace, but men alone can keep that peace, and henceforward they will keep it under penalties which threaten the survival, not only of civilisation, but of humanity itself. I may say that I am in entire agreement with the President that the secrets of the atomic bomb shall so far as possible not be imparted at the present time to any other country in the world. This is in no design or wish for arbitrary power but for the common safety of the world. Nothing can stop the progress of research and experiment in every country, but although research will no doubt proceed in many places, the construction of the immense plants necessary to transform theory into action cannot be improvised in any country.

For this and many other reasons the United States stand at this moment at the summit of the world. I rejoice that this should be so. Let them act up to the level of their power and their responsibility, not for themselves but for others, for all men in all lands, and then a brighter day may dawn upon human history. So far as we know, there are at least three and perhaps four years before the concrete progress made in the United States can be overtaken. In these three years we must remould the relationships of all men, wherever they dwell, in all the nations. We must remould them in such a way that these men do not wish or dare to fall upon each other for the sake of vulgar and out-dated ambitions or for passionate differences in ideology, and that international bodies of supreme authority may give peace on earth and decree justice among men. Our pilgrimage has brought us to a sublime moment in the history of the world. From the least to the greatest, all must strive to be worthy of these supreme opportunities. There is not an hour to be wasted; there is not a day to be lost.

It would in my opinion be a mistake to suggest that the Russian declaration of war upon Japan was hastened by the use of the atomic bomb. My understanding with Marshal Stalin in the talks which I had with him had been, for a considerable time past, that Russia would declare war upon Japan within three months of the surrender of the German armies. The reason for the delay of three months was, of course, the need to move over the trans-Siberian Railway the large reinforcements necessary to convert the Russian-Manchurian army from a defensive to an offensive strength. Three months was the time mentioned, and the fact that the German armies surrendered on 8th May, and the Russians declared war on Japan on 8th August, is no mere coincidence but another example of the fidelity and punctuality with which Marshal Stalin and his valiant armies always keep their military engagements.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster) I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should remind his hon. Friends on that side.

Mr. Churchill It is not part of the duty of the speaker who for the moment has the honour to address the House, to regulate the applause on either side.

I now turn to the results of the Potsdam Conference so far as they have been made public in the agreed communiqué and in President Truman’s very remarkable speech of a little more than a week ago. There has been general approval of the arrangements proposed for the administration of Germany by the Allied Control Commission during the provisional period of military government. This régime is both transitional and indefinite. The character of Hitler’s Nazi party was such as to destroy almost all independent elements in the German people. The struggle was fought to the bitter end. The mass of the people were forced to drain the cup of defeat to the dregs. A headless Germany has fallen into the hands of the conquerors. It may be many years before any structure of German national life will be possible, and there will be plenty of time for the victors to consider how the interests of world peace are affected thereby.

In the meanwhile, it is in my view of the utmost importance that responsibility should be effectively assumed by German local bodies for carrying on under Allied supervision all the processes of production and of administration necessary to maintain the life of a vast population. It is not possible for the Allies to bear responsibility by themselves. We cannot have the German masses lying down upon our hands and expecting to be fed, organised and educated over a period of years, by the Allies. We must do our best to help to avert the tragedy of famine. But it would be in vain for us in our small island, which still needs to import half its food, to imagine that we can make any further appreciable contribution in that respect. The rationing of this country cannot be made more severe, without endangering the life and physical strength of our people, all of which will be needed for the immense tasks we have to do. I, therefore, most strongly advise the encouragement of the assumption of responsibility by trust-worthy German local bodies in proportion as they can be brought into existence.

The Council which was set up at Potsdam of the Foreign Secretaries of the three, four or five Powers, meeting in various combinations as occasion served, affords a new and flexible machinery for the continuous further study of the immense problems that lie before us in Europe and Asia. I am very glad that the request that I made to the Conference, and which my right hon. Friend—I may perhaps be allowed so to refer to him on this comparatively innocuous occasion—supported at the Conference, that the seat of the Council’s permanent Secretariat should be London, was granted. I must say that my right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary, who has, over a long period, gained an increasing measure of confidence from the Foreign Secretaries of Russia, and the United States, and who through the European Advisory Committee which is located in London has always gained the feeling that things could be settled in a friendly and easy way, deserves some of the credit for the fact that these great Powers willingly accorded us the seat in London for the permanent Secretariat. It is high time that the place of London, one of the controlling centres of international world affairs, should at last be recognised. It is the oldest, the largest, the most battered capital, the capital which was first in the war and the time is certainly overdue when we should have our recognition.

I am glad also that a beginning is to be made with the evacuation of Persia by the British and Russian armed forces, in accordance with the triple treaty which we made with each other and with Persia in 1941. Although it does not appear in the communiqué, we have since seen it announced that the first stage in the process, namely, the withdrawal of Russian and British troops from Teheran, has already begun or is about to begin. There are various other matters arising out of this Conference which should be noted as satisfactory. We should not, however, delude ourselves into supposing that the results of this first Conference of the victors were free from disappointment or anxiety, or that the most serious questions before us were brought to good solutions. Those which proved incapable of agreement at the Conference have been relegated to the Foreign Secretaries’ Council which, though most capable of relieving difficulties, is essentially one gifted with less far-reaching powers. Other grave questions are left for the final peace settlement, by which time many of them may have settled themselves, not necessarily in the best way.

It would be at once wrong and impossible to conceal the divergencies of view which exist inevitably between the victors about the state of affairs in Eastern and Middle Europe. I do not at all blame the Prime Minister or the new Foreign Secretary, whose task it was to finish up the discussions which we had begun. I am sure they did their best. We have to realise that no one of the three leading Powers can impose its solutions upon others and that the only solutions possible are those which are in the nature of compromise. We British have had very early and increasingly to recognise the limitations of our own power and influence, great though it be, in the gaunt world arising from the ruins of this hideous war. It is not in the power of any British Government to bring home solutions which would be regarded as perfect by the great majority of Members of this House, wherever they may sit. I must put on record my own opinion that the provisional Western frontier agreed upon for Poland, running from Stettin on the Baltic, along the Oder and its tributary, the Western Neisse, comprising as it does one quarter of the arable land of all Germany, is not a good augury for the future map of Europe. We always had in the Coalition Government a desire that Poland should receive ample compensation in the West for the territory ceded to Russia East of the Curzon Line. But here I think a mistake has been made, in which the Provisional Government of Poland have been an ardent partner, by going far beyond what necessity or equity required. There are few virtues that the Poles do not possess—and there are few mistakes they have ever avoided.

I am particularly concerned, at this moment, with the reports reaching us of the conditions under which the expulsion and exodus of Germans from the new Poland are being carried out. Between 8,000,000 and 9,000,000 persons dwelt in those regions before the war. The Polish Government say that there are still 1,500,000 of these not yet expelled within their new frontiers. Other millions must have taken refuge behind the British and American lines, thus increasing the food stringency in our sector. But enormous numbers are utterly unaccounted for. Where are they gone, and what has been their fate? The same conditions may reproduce themselves in a more modified form in the expulsion of great numbers of Sudeten and other Germans from Czechoslovakia. Sparse and guarded accounts of what has happened and is happening have filtered through, but it is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is unfolding itself behind the iron curtain which at the moment divides Europe in twain. I should welcome any statement which the Prime Minister can make which would relieve or at least inform us upon this very anxious and grievous matter.

There is another sphere of anxiety. I remember that a fortnight or so before the last war, the Kaiser’s friend Herr Ballen, the great shipping magnate, told me that he had heard Bismarck say towards the end of his life, “If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.” The murder of the Archduke at Sarajevo in 1914 set the signal for the first world war. I cannot conceive that the elements for a new conflict exist in the Balkans to-day. I am not using the language of Bismarck, but nevertheless not many Members of the new House of Commons will be content with the new situation that prevails in those mountainous, turbulent, ill-organised and warlike regions. I do not intend to particularise, I am very glad to see the new Foreign Secretary sitting on the Front Bench opposite. I would like to say with what gratification I learned that the right hon. Gentleman had taken on this high and most profoundly difficult office, and we are sure he will do his best to preserve the great causes for which we have so long pulled together. But as I say, not many Members will be content with the situation in that region to which I have referred, for almost everywhere Communist forces have obtained, or are in process of obtaining, dictatorial powers. It does not mean that the Communist system is everywhere being established, nor does it mean that Soviet Russia seeks to reduce all those independent States to provinces of the Soviet Union. Mr. Stalin is a very wise man, and I would set no limits to the immense contributions that he and his associates have to make to the future.

In those countries, torn and convulsed by war, there may be, for some months to come, the need of authoritarian Government. The alternative would be anarchy. Therefore it would be unreasonable to ask or expect that liberal Governments—as spelt with a small “l”—and British or United States democratic conditions, should be instituted immediately. They take their politics very seriously in those countries. A friend of mine, an officer, was in Zagreb, when the results of the late General Election came in. An old lady said to him, “Poor Mr. Churchill. I suppose now he will be shot” My friend was able to reassure her. He said the sentence might be mitigated to one of the various forms of hard labour which are always open to His Majesty’s subjects. Nevertheless we must know where we stand, and we must make clear where we stand in these affairs of the Balkans and of Eastern Europe, and indeed of any country which comes into this field. Our idea is government of the people, by the people, for the people—the people being free without duress to express, by secret ballot without intimidation, their deep-seated wish as to the form and conditions of the Government under which they are to live.

At the present time—I trust a very fleeting time—”police governments” rule over a great number of countries. It is a case of the odious 18b, carried to a horrible excess. The family is gathered round the fireside to enjoy the scanty fruits of their toil and to recruit their exhausted strength by the little food that they have been able to gather. There they sit. Suddenly there is a knock at the door and a heavily armed policeman appears. He is not, of course, one who resembles in any way those functionaries whom we honour and obey in the London streets. It may be that the father or son, or a friend sitting in the cottage, is called out, and taken off into the dark and no one knows whether he will ever come back again, or what his fate has been. All they know is that they had better not inquire. There are millions of humble homes in Europe at the moment, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, in Austria, in Hungary, in Yugoslavia, in Rumania, in Bulgaria—[Hon. Members: “In Spain”]—where this fear is the main preoccupation of the family life. President Roosevelt laid down the four freedoms and these are extant in the Atlantic Charter which we agreed together. “Freedom from fear”—but this has been interpreted as if it were only freedom from fear of invasion from a foreign country. That is the least of the fears of the common man. His patriotism arms him to withstand invasion or go down fighting; but that is not the fear of the ordinary family in Europe tonight. Their fear is of the policeman’s knock. It is not fear for the country, for all men can unite in comradeship for the defence of their native soil. It is for the life and liberty of the individual, for the fundamental rights of man, now menaced and precarious in so many lands that peoples tremble.

Surely we can agree in this new Parliament or the great majority of us, wherever we sit—there are naturally and rightly differences and cleavages of thought—but surely we can agree in this new Parliament, which will either fail the world or once again play a part in saving it, that it is the will of the people, freely expressed by secret ballot, in universal suffrage elections, as to the form of their government and as to the laws which shall prevail, which is the first solution and safeguard. Let us then march steadily along that plain and simple linee. I avow my faith in democracy, whatever course or view it may take with individuals and parties. They may make their mistakes, and they may profit from their mistakes. Democracy is now on trial as it never was before, and in these islands we must uphold it, as we upheld it in the dark days of 1940 and 1941, with all our hearts, with all our vigilance and with all our enduring and inexhaustible strength. While the war was on and all the Allies were fighting for victory, the word “democracy,” like many people, had to work overtime, but now that peace has come we must search for more precise definitions. Elections have been proposed in some of these Balkan countries where only one set of candidates is allowed to appear, and where, if other parties are to express their opinion, it has to be arranged beforehand that the governing party, armed with its political police and all its propaganda, is the only one which has the slightest chance. Chance, did I say? It is a certainty.

Now is the time for Britons to speak out. It is odious to us that Governments should seek to maintain their rule otherwise than by free, unfettered elections by the mass of the people. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, says the Constitution of the United States. This must not evaporate in swindles and lies propped up by servitude and murder. In our foreign policy let us strike continually the notes of freedom and fair play as we understand them in these islands. Then you will find there will be an overwhelming measure of agreement between us, and we shall in this House march forward on an honourable theme having within it all that invests human life with dignity and happiness. In saying all this, I have been trying to gather together and present in a direct form the things which, I believe, are dear to the great majority of us. I rejoiced to read them expressed in golden words by the President of the United States when he said: Our victory in Europe was more than a victory of arms. It was a victory of one way of life over another. It was a victory of an ideal founded on the right of the common man, on the dignity of the human being, and on the conception of the State as the servant, not the master, of its people. I think there is not such great disagreement between us. Emphasis may be cast this, way and that in particular incidents, but surely this is what the new Parliament on the whole means. This is what in our heart and conscience in foreign affairs and world issues we desire. Just as in the baleful glare of 1940, so now, when calmer lights shine, let us be united upon these resurgent principles and impulses of the good and generous hearts of men. Thus to all the material strength we possess and the honoured position we have acquired, we shall add those moral forces which glorify mankind and make even the weakest equals of the strong.

I am anxious to-day to evade controversial topics as far as possible, though I am under no inhibition such as cramped the style of the two hon. and gallant Gentlemen to whom we have listened. There is one question which I hope the Prime Minister will be able to answer. What precisely is Mr Laski’s authority for all the statements he is making about our foreign policy? How far do his statements involve the agreement or responsibility of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs? We know that Mr. Laski is the Chairman of the Labour Party Executive Committee—[Hon. Members: “Gestapo.”] Everybody has a right to describe their own party machine as they choose. This is a very important body. I have been told—I am willing to be contradicted and to learn—that it has the power to summon Ministers before it. Let us find out whether it is true or not. Evidently it has got great power, and it has, even more evidently, a keen inclination to assert it. The House, the country and the world at large are entitled to know who are the authoritative spokesmen of His Majesty’s Government.

I see that Mr. Laski said in Paris a few days ago that our policy in Greece was to be completely changed. What is the meaning of this? I thought we were agreed upon our policy towards Greece, especially after Sir Walter Citrine’s and the trade unions’ report. (Interruption.) I would say to hon. Members not to speak disrespectfully of the report or they may be brought up before that body. That policy in Greece is to help Greece to decide upon its own future by plebiscite and elections according to the full, free, untrammelled will of the Greek people, and that those elections shall be held as early as practicable. The Greek Government have invited official foreign observers to be present and report, so that everyone in the world may judge whether the vote and elections are a free, fair and honest expression of the popular wish. The British, United States and French Governments have accepted this invitation. I was sorry we could not persuade Russia to come along too. Has there been any change in this question, or are we to understand, as Mr. Laski seems to suggest, that, though the Greek people may vote freely, they must only vote the way which he and those who agree with him would like?

Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth) That is what the right hon. Gentleman said in the General Election.

Mr. Churchill I am sure the hon. Member will never find that I have ever said that people were only entitled to vote in the way I like. I never nursed such an illusion. It is that very freedom which was so vehemently exercised against me and my friends that I am defending now in respect of other countries.

Mr. Laski also made a declaration about France which has most important and far-reaching effects, namely, that if the French people vote Socialist at the impending election, Great Britain will renew the offer which was made in June, 1940, that Britain and France should become one nation with a common citizenship. That offer was made in the anguish and compassion which we felt at the fate of France. It is remarkable that the Cabinet of those days, when we in this island were in such dire peril, really seemed more shocked and pained at the French disaster than at our own very dangerous plight. Much has happened in the five years that have passed, and I am of opinion that the idea of France and Britain becoming one single nation with common citizenship—alliance is another question—must, at the very least, be very carefully considered by the responsible Ministers before any such proposal is made to Parliament, still less to a foreign country. I ask, therefore, did the Prime Minister authorise this declaration? Does the Foreign Secretary endorse it? Were the Cabinet consulted? Is the offer to France open only if a Socialist Government is elected? I hope the Prime Minister will be able to give reassuring answers on those points.

Broadly speaking, it is very much better that declarations about foreign policy should be made by Ministers of the Crown responsible to the House of Commons. I am sure the new Government will get into very great difficulties if they are not able to maintain this position firmly. Also, I consider it a great mistake for us to try to interfere in the affairs of foreign countries, except in so far as is necessary to wind up any obligations we may have contracted during the war. It is impossible to understand the domestic politics of other countries. It is hard enough to understand the domestic politics of one’s own. But Mr. Laski has spoken with great freedom about French, Spanish and United States affairs during the last fortnight. He has told the United States on the broadcast, for instance, that free enterprise is the most ingenious fallacy which American business men ever put over on the American people. At a time when we have vital need of the material aid of the United States, I cannot feel—and perhaps the Chancellor will agree with me—that such a remark is exceptionally helpful. To-day, we read that Mr. Laski says that the attitude of the British Government towards the United States is favouarble whereas towards Russia there is “a profoundly brotherly affection.” I wonder very much—and this is an extremely serious matter—whether these invidious distinctions are likely to bring about the good results which were anticipated and which are absolutely necessary.

Somebody asked about General Franco. I am coming to him. Mr. Laski appears to contemplate vehement intervention in Spain against General Franco. Anybody who has had the opportunity to read the letter which I wrote, with the full agreement of my Coalition colleagues in the War Cabinet, to General Franco some months ago, in reply to one he wrote to me—and I should be very glad to see my letter published here as it has already been practically verbatim in the United States—will see what calumny it is to suggest that I or my friends on this side are supporters, admirers or partisans of the present régime in Spain. We are proud to be the foes of tyranny in every form, whether it comes from the Right or from the Left. Before I left Potsdam, the three major Powers had agreed upon the form of the public announcement about the exclusion of Spain, while under the Franco régime, from the world organisation of the United Nations. No alteration was made, as far as I am aware, by the new Prime Minister or the new Foreign Secretary in the terms of that most wounding, and deliberately calculated wounding, declaration against that régime.

It would, however, be wrong to intervene in Spain in a forcible manner or to attempt to relight the civil war in that country which has already and quite recently lost between one and two millions of its none too numerous population in a horrible internal struggle. However, if that is the policy of His Majesty’s Government, it is they who ought to say so, and then we can debate the matter here in full freedom. Let me point out in leaving this unpleasant subject that I make no suggestion to the Government that they should endeavour to muzzle Mr. Laski. Anybody in a free country can say anything, however pernicious and nonsensical it may be, but it is necessary for the Government to let us know exactly where they stand with regard to him. Otherwise, I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that their affairs will suffer and our affairs, which are mixed up inseparably with their affairs, will also suffer.

I now turn to the domestic sphere, which takes up one part of the Gracious speech. I have already spoken of the enormous easement in their task which the new Government have obtained through the swift and sudden ending of the Japanese war. What thousands of millions of pounds sterling are saved from the waste of war, what scores and hundreds of thousands of lives are saved, what vast numbers of ships are set free to carry the soldiers home to all their lands, to carry about the world the food and raw materials vital to industry. What noble opportunities have the new Government inherited. Let them be worthy of their fortune, which is also the fortune of us all. To release and liberate the vital springs of British energy and inventiveness, to let the honest earnings of the nation fructify in the pockets of the people, to spread well-being and security against accident and misfortune throughout the whole nation, to plan, wherever State planning is imperative, and to guide into fertile and healthy channels the native British genius for comprehension and good will—all these are open to them, and all these ought to be open to all of us now. I hope we may go forward together, not only abroad but also at home, in all matters so far as we possibly can.

During the period of the “Caretaker Government,” while we still had to contemplate 18 months of strenuous war with Japan, we reviewed the plans for demobilisation in such a way as to make a very great acceleration in the whole process of releasing men and women from the Armed Forces and from compulsory industrial employment. Now, all that is overtaken by the world-wide end of the war. I must say at once that the paragraph of the Gracious Speech referring to demobilisation and to the plans which were made in the autumn of 1944—with which I am in entire agreement in principle—gives a somewhat chilling impression. Now that we have had this wonderful windfall I am surprised that any Government should imagine that language of this kind is still appropriate or equal to the new situation. I see that in the United States the President has said that all the American troops that the American ships can carry home in the next year, will be brought home and set free. Are his Majesty’s Government now able to make any statement of that kind about our Armed Forces abroad? Or what statement can they make? I do not want to harass them unduly, but perhaps some time next week some statement could be made. No doubt the Prime Minister will think of that. Great hopes have been raised in the electoral campaign, and from those hopes has sprung their great political victory. Time will show whether those hopes are well founded, as we deeply trust they may be. But many decisions can be taken now, in the completely altered circumstances in which we find ourselves. The duty of the Government is to fix the minimum numbers who must be retained in the next 6 or 12 months period in all the foreign theatres, and to bring the rest home with the utmost speed that our immensely expanded shipping resources will permit.

Even more is this releasing process important in the demobilisation of the home establishment. I quite agree that the feeling of the Class A men must ever be the dominant factor, but short of that the most extreme efforts should be made to release people who are standing about doing nothing. I hope the Public Expenditure Committee will be at once reconstituted, and that they will travel about the country examining home establishments and reporting frequently to the House. Now that the war is over there is no ground of military secrecy which should prevent the publication of the exact numerical ration strengths of our Army, Navy and Air Force in every theatre and at home, and we should certainly have weekly, or at least monthly, figures of the progressive demobilisation effected. It is an opportunity for the new Government to win distinction. At the end of the last war, when I was in charge of the Army and Air Force, I published periodically very precise information. I agree with the words used by the Foreign Secretary when he was Minister of Labour in my Administration, namely, that the tremendous winding-up process of the war must be followed by a methodical and regulated unwinding. We agree that if the process is to be pressed forward with the utmost speed it is necessary for the Government to wield exceptional powers for the time being, and so long as they use those powers to achieve the great administrative and executive tasks imposed upon them, we shall not attack them. It is only if, and in so far as, those powers are used to bring about by a side-wind a state of controlled society agreeable to Socialist doctrinaires, but which we deem odious to British freedom, that we shall be forced to resist them. So long as the exceptional powers are used as part of the war emergency, His Majesty’s Government may consider us as helpers and not as opponents, as friends and not as foes.

To say this in no way relieves the Government of their duty to set the nation free as soon as possible, to bring home the soldiers in accordance with the scheme with the utmost rapidity, and to enable the mass of the people to resume their normal lives and employment in the best, easiest and speediest manner. There ought not to be a long-dragged-out period of many months when hundreds of thousands of Service men and women are kept waiting about under discipline, doing useless tasks at the public expense, and other tens of thousands, more highly paid, finding them sterile work to do. What we desire is freedom; what we need is abundance. Freedom and abundance—these must be our aims. The production of new wealth is far more beneficial, and on an incomparably larger scale, than class and party fights about the liquidation of old wealth. We must try to share blessings and not miseries.

Mr G. Griffiths Say that again.

Mr. Churchill The production of new wealth must precede commonwealth, otherwise there will only be common poverty. I am sorry these simple truisms should excite the hon. Member opposite—whom I watched so often during the course of the last Parliament and whose many agreeable qualities I have often admired—as if they had some sense of novelty for him.

We do not propose to join issue immediately about the legislative proposals in the Gracious Speech. We do not know what is meant by the control of investment—[Laughter]—but apparently it is a subject for mirth. Evidently, in war you may do one thing, and in peace perhaps another must be considered. Allowance must also be made for the transitional period through which we are passing. The Debate on the Address should probe and elicit the Government’s intentions in this matter. The same is true of the proposal to nationalise the coalmines. If that is really the best way of securing a larger supply of coal at a cheaper price, and at an earlier moment than is now in view, I, for one, should approach the plan in a sympathetic spirit. It is by results, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Motion for the Address said, that the Government will be judged, and it is by results that this policy must be judged The national ownership of the Bank of England does not in my opinion raise any matter of principle [Hon. Members: “Oh”]. I give my opinion—anybody else may give his own. There are important examples in the United States and in our Dominions of central banking institutions, but what matters is the use to be made of this public ownership. On this we must await the detailed statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I am glad to say, has pledged himself to resist inflation. Meanwhile it may be helpful for me to express the opinion, as Leader of the Opposition, that foreign countries need not be alarmed by the language of the Gracious Speech on this subject, and that British credit will be resolutely upheld.

Then there is the Trade Disputes Act. We are told that this is to be repealed. Personally, I feel that we owe an inestimable debt to the trade unions for all they have done for the country in the long struggle against the foreign foe. But they would surely be unwise to reinstitute the political levy on the old basis. If would also be very odd if they wished to regain full facilities for legalising and organising a general strike. It does not say much for the confidence with which the Trades Union Council view the brave new world, or for what they think about the progressive nationalisation of our industries, that they should deem it necessary on what the hon. and gallant Gentleman called “the D-Day of the new Britain” to restore and sharpen the general strike weapon, at this particular time of all others. Apparently nationalisation is not regarded by them as any security against conditions which would render a general strike imperative and justified in the interests of the workers. We are, I understand, after nationalising the coalmines, to deal with the railways, electricity and transport. Yet at the same time the trade unions feel it necessary to be heavily rearmed against State Socialism. Apparently the new age is not to be so happy for the wage-earners as we have been asked to believe. At any rate, there seems to be a fundamental incongruity in these conceptions to which the attention of the Socialist intelligentsia should speedily be directed. Perhaps it may be said that these powers will only be needed if the Tories come into office. Surely these are early days to get frightened. I will ask the Prime Minister if he will just tell us broadly what is meant by the word “repeal.”

I have offered these comments to the House and I do not wish to end on a sombre or even slightly controversial note. As to the situation which exists to-day, it is evident that not only are the two parties in the House agreed in the main essentials of foreign policy and in our moral outlook on world affairs, but we also have an immense programme, prepared by our joint exertions during the Coalition, which requires to be brought into law and made an inherent part of the life of the people. Here and there there may be differences of emphasis and view, but in the main no Parliament ever assembled with such a mass of agreed legislation as lies before us this afternoon. I have great hopes of this Parliament and I shall do my utmost to make its work fruitful. It may heal the wounds of war, and turn to good account the new conceptions and powers which we have gathered amid the storm. I do not underrate the difficult and intricate complications of the task which lies before us; I know too much about it to cherish vain illusions, but the morrow of such a victory as we have gained is a splendid moment both in our small lives and in our great history. It is a time not only of rejoicing but even more of resolve. When we look back on all the perils through which we have passed and at the mighty foes we have laid low and all the dark and deadly designs we have frustrated, why should we fear for our future? We have come safely through the worst. Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill.

Winston Churchill – 1941 Speech in the House of Commons Following the Japan Attack on the USA


As soon as I heard, last night, that Japan had attacked the United States, I felt it necessary that Parliament should be immediately summoned. It is indispensable to our system of government that Parliament should play its full part in all the important acts of State and at all the crucial moments of the war; and I am glad to see that so many Members have been able to be in their places, despite the shortness of the notice. With the full approval of the nation, and of the Empire, I pledged the word of Great Britain, about a month ago, that should the United States be involved in war with Japan, a British declaration of war would follow within the hour. I, therefore, spoke to President Roosevelt on the Atlantic telephone last night, with a view to arranging the timing of our respective declarations. The President told me that he would this morning send a Message to Congress, which, of course, as is well known, can alone make a declaration of war on behalf of the United States, and I then assured him that we would follow immediately.

However, it soon appeared that British territory in Malaya had also been the object of Japanese attack, and later on it was announced, from Tokyo, that the Japanese High Command—a curious form; not the Imperial Japanese Government—had declared that a state of war existed with Great Britain and the United States. That being so, there was no need to wait for the declaration by Congress. American time is very nearly six hours behind ours. The Cabinet, therefore, which met at 12.30 to-day, authorised an immediate declaration of war upon Japan. Instructions were sent to His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokyo, and a communication was despatched to the Japanese Chargé de Affaires at 1 o’clock to-day to this effect:

“Foreign Office, December 8th.


(1) On the evening of December 7th His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom learned that Japanese forces, without previous warning, either in the form of a declaration of war or of an ultimatum with a conditional declaration of war, had attempted a landing on the coast of Malaya and bombed Singapore and Hong Kong.

(2) In view of these wanton acts of unprovoked aggression, committed in flagrant violation of international law, and particularly of Article 1 of the Third Hague Convention, relative to the opening of hostilities, to which 1359 both Japan and the United Kingdom are parties, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokyo has been instructed to inform the Imperial Japanese Government, in the name of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom that a state of war exists. between the two countries.

I have the honour to be, with high consideration,


Your obedient servant,


Meanwhile, hostilities have already begun. The Japanese began a landing in British territory in Northern Malaya at about 6 o’clock—1 a.m. local time—yesterday, and they were immediately engaged by our Forces, which were in readiness. The Home Office measures against Japanese nationals were set in motion at 10.45 last night. The House will see, therefore, that no time has been lost, and that we are actually ahead of our engagements.

The Royal Netherlands Government at once marked their solidarity with Great Britain and the United States at 3 o’clock in the morning.

The Netherlands Minister informed the Foreign Office that his Government were telling the Japanese Government that, in view of the hostile acts perpetrated by Japanese forces against two Powers with whom the Netherlands maintained particularly close relations, they considered that, as a consequence, a state of war now exists between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Japan.

I do not yet know what part Siam, or Thailand, will be called upon to play in this fresh war, but a report has reached us that the Japanese have landed troops at Singora, which is in Siamese territory, on the frontier of Malaya, not far from the landing they had made on the British side of the frontier. Meanwhile, just before Japan had gone to war, I had sent the Siamese Prime Minister the following message. It was sent off on Sunday, early in the morning: “There is a possibility of imminent Japanese invasion of your country. If you are attacked, defend yourself. The preservation of the full independence and sovereignty of Thailand is a British interest, and we shall regard an attack on you as an attack on ourselves.”

It is worth while looking for a moment at the manner in which the Japanese have begun their assault upon the English-speaking world. Every circumstance of calculated and characteristic Japanese 1360 treachery was employed against the United States. The Japanese envoys, Nomura and Kurusu, were ordered to prolong their mission in the United States, in order to keep the conversations going while a surprise attack was being prepared, to be made before a declaration of war could be delivered. The President’s appeal to the Emperor, which I have no doubt many Members will have read—it has been published largely in the papers here—reminding him of their ancient friendship and of the importance of preserving the peace of the Pacific, has received only this base and brutal reply. No one can doubt that every effort to bring about a peaceful solution had been made by the Government of the United States, and that immense patience and composure had been shown in face of the growing Japanese menace.

Now that the issue is joined in the most direct manner, it only remains for the two great democracies to face their task with whatever strength God may give them. We must hold ourselves very fortunate, and I think we may rate our affairs not wholly ill-guided, that we were not attacked alone by Japan in our period of weakness after Dunkirk, or at any time in 1940, before the United States had fully realised the dangers which threatened the whole world and had made much advance in its military preparation. So precarious and narrow was the margin upon which we then lived that we did not dare to express the sympathy which we have all along felt for the heroic people of China. We were even forced for a short time, in the summer of 1940, to agree to closing the Burma Road. But later on, at the beginning of this year, as soon as we could regather our strength, we reversed that policy, and the House will remember that both I and the Foreign Secretary have felt able to make increasingly outspoken declarations of friendship for the Chinese people and their great leader, General Chiang Kai-Shek.

We have always been friends. Last night I cabled to the Generalissimo assuring him that henceforward we would face the common foe together. Although the imperative demands of the war in Europe and in Africa have strained our resources, vast and growing though they are, the House and the Empire will notice that some of the finest ships in the Royal Navy have reached their stations in the Far East at a very convenient moment. Every 1361 preparation in our power has been made, and I do not doubt that we shall give a good account of ourselves. The closest accord has been established with the powerful American forces, both naval and air, and also with the strong, efficient forces belonging to the Royal Netherlands Government in the Netherlands East Indies. We shall all do our best. When we think of the insane ambition and insatiable appetite which have caused this vast and melancholy extension of the war, we can only feel that Hitler’s madness has infected the Japanese mind, and that the root of the evil and its branch must be extirpated together.

It is of the highest importance that there should be no under-rating of the gravity of the new dangers we have to meet, either here or in the United States. The enemy has attacked with an audacity which may spring from recklessness but which may also spring from a conviction of strength. The ordeal to which the English-speaking world and our heroic Russian Allies are being exposed will certainly be hard, especially at the outset, and will probably be long, yet when we look around us over the sombre panorama of the world, we have no reason to doubt the justice of our cause or that our strength and will-power will be sufficient to sustain it. We have at least four-fifths of the population of the globe upon our side. We are responsible for their safety and for their future. In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.

Winston Churchill – 1940 Fight them on the Beaches Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in the House of Commons on 4th June 1940.

From the moment that the French defenses at Sedan and on the Meuse were broken at the end of the second week of May, only a rapid retreat to Amiens and the south could have saved the British and French Armies who had entered Belgium at the appeal of the Belgian King; but this strategic fact was not immediately realized. The French High Command hoped they would be able to close the gap, and the Armies of the north were under their orders. Moreover, a retirement of this kind would have involved almost certainly the destruction of the fine Belgian Army of over 20 divisions and the abandonment of the whole of Belgium. Therefore, when the force and scope of the German penetration were realized and when a new French Generalissimo, General Weygand, assumed command in place of General Gamelin, an effort was made by the French and British Armies in Belgium to keep on holding the right hand of the Belgians and to give their own right hand to a newly created French Army which was to have advanced across the Somme in great strength to grasp it.

However, the German eruption swept like a sharp scythe around the right and rear of the Armies of the north. Eight or nine armored divisions, each of about four hundred armored vehicles of different kinds, but carefully assorted to be complementary and divisible into small self-contained units, cut off all communications between us and the main French Armies. It severed our own communications for food and ammunition, which ran first to Amiens and afterwards through Abbeville, and it shore its way up the coast to Boulogne and Calais, and almost to Dunkirk. Behind this armored and mechanized onslaught came a number of German divisions in lorries, and behind them again there plodded comparatively slowly the dull brute mass of the ordinary German Army and German people, always so ready to be led to the trampling down in other lands of liberties and comforts which they have never known in their own.

I have said this armored scythe-stroke almost reached Dunkirk-almost but not quite. Boulogne and Calais were the scenes of desperate fighting. The Guards defended Boulogne for a while and were then withdrawn by orders from this country. The Rifle Brigade, the 60th Rifles, and the Queen Victoria’s Rifles, with a battalion of British tanks and 1,000 Frenchmen, in all about four thousand strong, defended Calais to the last. The British Brigadier was given an hour to surrender. He spurned the offer, and four days of intense street fighting passed before silence reigned over Calais, which marked the end of a memorable resistance. Only 30 unwounded survivors were brought off by the Navy, and we do not know the fate of their comrades. Their sacrifice, however, was not in vain. At least two armored divisions, which otherwise would have been turned against the British Expeditionary Force, had to be sent to overcome them. They have added another page to the glories of the light divisions, and the time gained enabled the Graveline water lines to be flooded and to be held by the French troops.

Thus it was that the port of Dunkirk was kept open. When it was found impossible for the Armies of the north to reopen their communications to Amiens with the main French Armies, only one choice remained. It seemed, indeed, forlorn. The Belgian, British and French Armies were almost surrounded. Their sole line of retreat was to a single port and to its neighboring beaches. They were pressed on every side by heavy attacks and far outnumbered in the air.

When, a week ago today, I asked the House to fix this afternoon as the occasion for a statement, I feared it would be my hard lot to announce the greatest military disaster in our long history. I thought-and some good judges agreed with me-that perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 men might be re-embarked. But it certainly seemed that the whole of the French First Army and the whole of the British Expeditionary Force north of the Amiens-Abbeville gap would be broken up in the open field or else would have to capitulate for lack of food and ammunition. These were the hard and heavy tidings for which I called upon the House and the nation to prepare themselves a week ago. The whole root and core and brain of the British Army, on which and around which we were to build, and are to build, the great British Armies in the later years of the war, seemed about to perish upon the field or to be led into an ignominious and starving captivity.

That was the prospect a week ago. But another blow which might well have proved final was yet to fall upon us. The King of the Belgians had called upon us to come to his aid. Had not this Ruler and his Government severed themselves from the Allies, who rescued their country from extinction in the late war, and had they not sought refuge in what was proved to be a fatal neutrality, the French and British Armies might well at the outset have saved not only Belgium but perhaps even Poland. Yet at the last moment, when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came. He and his brave, efficient Army, nearly half a million strong, guarded our left flank and thus kept open our only line of retreat to the sea. Suddenly, without prior consultation, with the least possible notice, without the advice of his Ministers and upon his own personal act, he sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command, surrendered his Army, and exposed our whole flank and means of retreat.

I asked the House a week ago to suspend its judgment because the facts were not clear, but I do not feel that any reason now exists why we should not form our own opinions upon this pitiful episode. The surrender of the Belgian Army compelled the British at the shortest notice to cover a flank to the sea more than 30 miles in length. Otherwise all would have been cut off, and all would have shared the fate to which King Leopold had condemned the finest Army his country had ever formed. So in doing this and in exposing this flank, as anyone who followed the operations on the map will see, contact was lost between the British and two out of the three corps forming the First French Army, who were still farther from the coast than we were, and it seemed impossible that any large number of Allied troops could reach the coast.

The enemy attacked on all sides with great strength and fierceness, and their main power, the power of their far more numerous Air Force, was thrown into the battle or else concentrated upon Dunkirk and the beaches. Pressing in upon the narrow exit, both from the east and from the west, the enemy began to fire with cannon upon the beaches by which alone the shipping could approach or depart. They sowed magnetic mines in the channels and seas; they sent repeated waves of hostile aircraft, sometimes more than a hundred strong in one formation, to cast their bombs upon the single pier that remained, and upon the sand dunes upon which the troops had their eyes for shelter. Their U-boats, one of which was sunk, and their motor launches took their toll of the vast traffic which now began. For four or five days an intense struggle reigned. All their armored divisions-or what Was left of them-together with great masses of infantry and artillery, hurled themselves in vain upon the ever-narrowing, ever-contracting appendix within which the British and French Armies fought.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy, with the willing help of countless merchant seamen, strained every nerve to embark the British and Allied troops; 220 light warships and 650 other vessels were engaged. They had to operate upon the difficult coast, often in adverse weather, under an almost ceaseless hail of bombs and an increasing concentration of artillery fire. Nor were the seas, as I have said, themselves free from mines and torpedoes. It was in conditions such as these that our men carried on, with little or no rest, for days and nights on end, making trip after trip across the dangerous waters, bringing with them always men whom they had rescued. The numbers they have brought back are the measure of their devotion and their courage. The hospital ships, which brought off many thousands of British and French wounded, being so plainly marked were a special target for Nazi bombs; but the men and women on board them never faltered in their duty.

Meanwhile, the Royal Air Force, which had already been intervening in the battle, so far as its range would allow, from home bases, now used part of its main metropolitan fighter strength, and struck at the German bombers and at the fighters which in large numbers protected them. This struggle was protracted and fierce. Suddenly the scene has cleared, the crash and thunder has for the moment-but only for the moment-died away. A miracle of deliverance, achieved by valor, by perseverance, by perfect discipline, by faultless service, by resource, by skill, by unconquerable fidelity, is manifest to us all. The enemy was hurled back by the retreating British and French troops. He was so roughly handled that he did not hurry their departure seriously. The Royal Air Force engaged the main strength of the German Air Force, and inflicted upon them losses of at least four to one; and the Navy, using nearly 1,000 ships of all kinds, carried over 335,000 men, French and British, out of the jaws of death and shame, to their native land and to the tasks which lie immediately ahead. We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations. But there was a victory inside this deliverance, which should be noted. It was gained by the Air Force. Many of our soldiers coming back have not seen the Air Force at work; they saw only the bombers which escaped its protective attack. They underrate its achievements. I have heard much talk of this; that is why I go out of my way to say this. I will tell you about it.

This was a great trial of strength between the British and German Air Forces. Can you conceive a greater objective for the Germans in the air than to make evacuation from these beaches impossible, and to sink all these ships which were displayed, almost to the extent of thousands? Could there have been an objective of greater military importance and significance for the whole purpose of the war than this? They tried hard, and they were beaten back; they were frustrated in their task. We got the Army away; and they have paid fourfold for any losses which they have inflicted. Very large formations of German aeroplanes-and we know that they are a very brave race-have turned on several occasions from the attack of one-quarter of their number of the Royal Air Force, and have dispersed in different directions. Twelve aeroplanes have been hunted by two. One aeroplane was driven into the water and cast away by the mere charge of a British aeroplane, which had no more ammunition. All of our types-the Hurricane, the Spitfire and the new Defiant-and all our pilots have been vindicated as superior to what they have at present to face.

When we consider how much greater would be our advantage in defending the air above this Island against an overseas attack, I must say that I find in these facts a sure basis upon which practical and reassuring thoughts may rest. I will pay my tribute to these young airmen. The great French Army was very largely, for the time being, cast back and disturbed by the onrush of a few thousands of armored vehicles. May it not also be that the cause of civilization itself will be defended by the skill and devotion of a few thousand airmen? There never has been, I suppose, in all the world, in all the history of war, such an opportunity for youth. The Knights of the Round Table, the Crusaders, all fall back into the past-not only distant but prosaic; these young men, going forth every morn to guard their native land and all that we stand for, holding in their hands these instruments of colossal and shattering power, of whom it may be said that

Every morn brought forth a noble chance

And every chance brought forth a noble knight,

deserve our gratitude, as do all the brave men who, in so many ways and on so many occasions, are ready, and continue ready to give life and all for their native land.

I return to the Army. In the long series of very fierce battles, now on this front, now on that, fighting on three fronts at once, battles fought by two or three divisions against an equal or somewhat larger number of the enemy, and fought fiercely on some of the old grounds that so many of us knew so well-in these battles our losses in men have exceeded 30,000 killed, wounded and missing. I take occasion to express the sympathy of the House to all who have suffered bereavement or who are still anxious. The President of the Board of Trade is not here today. His son has been killed, and many in the House have felt the pangs of affliction in the sharpest form. But I will say this about the missing: We have had a large number of wounded come home safely to this country, but I would say about the missing that there may be very many reported missing who will come back home, some day, in one way or another. In the confusion of this fight it is inevitable that many have been left in positions where honor required no further resistance from them.

Against this loss of over 30,000 men, we can set a far heavier loss certainly inflicted upon the enemy. But our losses in material are enormous. We have perhaps lost one-third of the men we lost in the opening days of the battle of 21st March, 1918, but we have lost nearly as many guns – nearly one thousand-and all our transport, all the armored vehicles that were with the Army in the north. This loss will impose a further delay on the expansion of our military strength. That expansion had not been proceeding as far as we had hoped. The best of all we had to give had gone to the British Expeditionary Force, and although they had not the numbers of tanks and some articles of equipment which were desirable, they were a very well and finely equipped Army. They had the first-fruits of all that our industry had to give, and that is gone. And now here is this further delay. How long it will be, how long it will last, depends upon the exertions which we make in this Island. An effort the like of which has never been seen in our records is now being made. Work is proceeding everywhere, night and day, Sundays and week days. Capital and Labor have cast aside their interests, rights, and customs and put them into the common stock. Already the flow of munitions has leaped forward. There is no reason why we should not in a few months overtake the sudden and serious loss that has come upon us, without retarding the development of our general program.

Nevertheless, our thankfulness at the escape of our Army and so many men, whose loved ones have passed through an agonizing week, must not blind us to the fact that what has happened in France and Belgium is a colossal military disaster. The French Army has been weakened, the Belgian Army has been lost, a large part of those fortified lines upon which so much faith had been reposed is gone, many valuable mining districts and factories have passed into the enemy’s possession, the whole of the Channel ports are in his hands, with all the tragic consequences that follow from that, and we must expect another blow to be struck almost immediately at us or at France. We are told that Herr Hitler has a plan for invading the British Isles. This has often been thought of before. When Napoleon lay at Boulogne for a year with his flat-bottomed boats and his Grand Army, he was told by someone. “There are bitter weeds in England.” There are certainly a great many more of them since the British Expeditionary Force returned.

The whole question of home defense against invasion is, of course, powerfully affected by the fact that we have for the time being in this Island incomparably more powerful military forces than we have ever had at any moment in this war or the last. But this will not continue. We shall not be content with a defensive war. We have our duty to our Ally. We have to reconstitute and build up the British Expeditionary Force once again, under its gallant Commander-in-Chief, Lord Gort. All this is in train; but in the interval we must put our defenses in this Island into such a high state of organization that the fewest possible numbers will be required to give effective security and that the largest possible potential of offensive effort may be realized. On this we are now engaged. It will be very convenient, if it be the desire of the House, to enter upon this subject in a secret Session. Not that the government would necessarily be able to reveal in very great detail military secrets, but we like to have our discussions free, without the restraint imposed by the fact that they will be read the next day by the enemy; and the Government would benefit by views freely expressed in all parts of the House by Members with their knowledge of so many different parts of the country. I understand that some request is to be made upon this subject, which will be readily acceded to by His Majesty’s Government.

We have found it necessary to take measures of increasing stringency, not only against enemy aliens and suspicious characters of other nationalities, but also against British subjects who may become a danger or a nuisance should the war be transported to the United Kingdom. I know there are a great many people affected by the orders which we have made who are the passionate enemies of Nazi Germany. I am very sorry for them, but we cannot, at the present time and under the present stress, draw all the distinctions which we should like to do. If parachute landings were attempted and fierce fighting attendant upon them followed, these unfortunate people would be far better out of the way, for their own sakes as well as for ours. There is, however, another class, for which I feel not the slightest sympathy. Parliament has given us the powers to put down Fifth Column activities with a strong hand, and we shall use those powers subject to the supervision and correction of the House, without the slightest hesitation until we are satisfied, and more than satisfied, that this malignancy in our midst has been effectively stamped out.

Turning once again, and this time more generally, to the question of invasion, I would observe that there has never been a period in all these long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people. In the days of Napoleon the same wind which would have carried his transports across the Channel might have driven away the blockading fleet. There was always the chance, and it is that chance which has excited and befooled the imaginations of many Continental tyrants. Many are the tales that are told. We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous maneuver. I think that no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered and viewed with a searching, but at the same time, I hope, with a steady eye. We must never forget the solid assurances of sea power and those which belong to air power if it can be locally exercised.

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Winston Churchill – 1939 ‘Hush Over Europe’ Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by Winston Churchill on 8th August 1939.

Holiday time, ladies and gentlemen! Holiday time, my friends across the Atlantic! Holiday time, when the summer calls the toilers of all countries for an all too brief spell from the offices and mills and stiff routine of daily life and breadwinning, and sends them to seek if not rest at least change in new surroundings, to return refreshed and keep the myriad wheels of civilized society on the move.

Let me look back-let me see. How did we spend our summer holidays twenty-five years ago? Why, those were the very days when the German advance guards were breaking into Belgium and trampling down its people on their march towards Paris! Those were the days when Prussian militarism was -to quote its own phrase-“hacking its way through the small, weak, neighbor country” whose neutrality and independence they had sworn not merely to respect but to defend.

But perhaps we are wrong. Perhaps our memory deceives us. Dr. Goebbels and his Propaganda Machine have their own version of what happened twenty-five years ago. To hear them talk, you would suppose that it was Belgium that invaded Germany! There they were, these peaceful Prussians, gathering in their harvests, when this wicked

Belgium – set on by England and the Jews – fell upon them; and would no doubt have taken Berlin, if Corporal Adolf Hitler had not come to the rescue and turned the tables. Indeed, the tale goes further. After four years of war by land and sea, when Germany was about to win an overwhelming victory, the Jews got at them again, this time from the rear. Armed with President Wilson’s Fourteen Points they stabbed, we are told, the German armies in the back, and induced them to ask for an armistice, and even persuaded them, in an unguarded moment, to sign a paper saying that it was they and not the Belgians who had been the ones to begin the War. Such is history as it is taught in topsy-turvydom. And now it is holiday again, and where are we now? Or, as you sometimes ask in the United States – where do we go from here?

There is a hush over all Europe, nay, over all the world, broken only by the dull thud of Japanese bombs falling on Chinese cities, on Chinese Universities or near British and American ships. But then, China is a long way off, so why worry? The Chinese are fighting for what the founders of the American Constitution in their stately language called: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And they seem to be fighting very well. Many good judges think they are going to win. Anyhow, let’s wish them luck! Let’s give them a wave of encouragement – as your President did last week, when he gave notice about ending the commercial treaty. After all, the suffering Chinese are fighting our battle, the battle of democracy. They are defending the soil, the good earth, that has been theirs since the dawn of time against cruel and unprovoked aggression. Give them a cheer across the ocean – no one knows whose turn it may be next. If this habit of military dictatorships’ breaking into other people’s lands with bomb and shell and bullet, stealing the property and killing the proprietors, spreads too widely, we may none of us be able to think of summer holidays for quite a while.

But to come back to the hush I said was hanging over Europe. What kind of a hush is it? Alas! it is the hush of suspense, and in many lands it is the hush of fear. Listen! No, listen carefully; I think I hear something-yes, there it was quite clear. Don’t you hear it? It is the tramp of armies crunching the gravel of the parade- grounds, splashing through rain-soaked fields, the tramp of two million German soldiers and more than a million Italians- “going on maneuvers”-yes, only on maneuvers! Of course it’s only maneuvers just like last year. After all, the Dictators must train their soldiers. They could scarcely do less in common prudence, when the Danes, the Dutch, the Swiss, the Albanians and of course the Jews may leap out upon them at any moment and rob them of their living-space, and make them sign another paper to say who began it. Besides, these German and Italian armies may have another work of Liberation to perform. It was only last year they liberated Austria from the horrors of self-government. It was only in March they freed the Czechoslovak Republic from the misery of independent existence. It is only two years ago that Signor Mussolini gave the ancient kingdom of Abyssinia its Magna Charta. It is only two months ago that little Albania got its writ of Habeas Corpus, and Mussolini sent in his Bill of Rights for King Zog to pay. Why, even at this moment, the mountaineers of the Tyrol, a German-speaking population who have dwelt in their beautiful valleys for a thousand years, are being liberated, that is to say, uprooted, from the land they love, from the soil which Andreas Hofer died to defend. No wonder the armies are tramping on when there is so much liberation to be done, and no wonder there is a hush among all the neighbors of Germany and Italy while they are wondering which one is going to be “liberated” next.

The Nazis say that they are being encircled. They have encircled themselves with a ring of neighbors who have to keep on guessing who will be struck down next. This kind of guesswork is a very tiring game. Countries, especially small countries, have long ceased to find it amusing. Can you wonder that the neighbors of Germany, both great and small, have begun to think of stopping the game, by simply saying to the Nazis on the principle of the Covenant of the League of Nations: “He who attacks any. Attacks all. He who attacks the weakest will find he has attacked the strongest”? That is how we are spending our holiday over here, in poor weather, in a lot of clouds. We hope it is better with you.

One thing has struck me as very strange, and that is the resurgence of the one-man power after all these centuries of experience and progress. It is curious how the English-speaking peoples have always had this horror of one-man power. They are quite ready to follow a leader for a time, as long as he is serviceable to them; but the idea of handing themselves over, lock, stock and barrel, body and soul, to one man, and worshiping him as if he were an idol? That has always been odious to the whole theme and nature of our civilization. The architects of the American Constitution were as careful as those who shaped the British Constitution to guard against the whole life and fortunes, and all the laws and freedom of the nation, being placed in the hands of a tyrant. Checks and counter-checks in the body politic, large devolutions of State government, instruments and processes of free debate, frequent recurrence to first principles, the right of opposition to the most powerful governments, and above all ceaseless vigilance, have preserved, and will preserve, the broad characteristics of British and American institutions. But in Germany, on a mountain peak, there sits one man who in a single day can release the world from the fear which now oppresses it; or in a single day can plunge all that we have and are into a volcano of smoke and flame.

If Herr Hitler does not make war, there will be no war. No one else is going to make war. Britain and France are determined to shed no blood except in self-defense or in defense of their Allies. No one has ever dreamed of attacking Germany. If Germany desires to be reassured against attack by her neighbors, she has only to say the word and we will give her the fullest guarantees in accordance with the principles of the Covenant of the League. We have said repeatedly we ask nothing for ourselves in the way of security that we are not willing freely to share with the German people.

Therefore, if war should come there can be no doubt upon whose head the blood-guiltiness will fall. Thus lies the great issue at this moment, and none can tell how itwill be settled.

It is not, believe me, my American friends, from any ignoble shrinking from pain and death that the British and French peoples pray for peace. It is not because we have any doubts how a struggle between Nazi Germany and the civilized world would ultimately end that we pray tonight and every night for peace. But whether it be peace or war, peace with its broadening and brightening prosperity, now within our reach, or war with its measureless carnage and destruction-we must strive to frame some system of human relations in the future which will bring to an end this prolonged hideous uncertainty, which will let the working and creative forces of the world get on with their job, and which will no longer leave the whole life of mankind dependent upon the virtues, the caprice, or the wickedness of a single man.

Winston Churchill – 1931 Duty in India Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by Winston Churchill at the Albert Hall, in London, on 18th March 1931.

I think it hard that the burden of holding and organising this immense meeting should be thrown upon the Indian Empire Society. One would have thought that if there was one cause in the world which the Conservative party would have hastened to defend, it would be the cause of the British Empire in India. One would have expected that the whole force of the Conservative party machine would have been employed for months past in building up a robust, educated opinion throughout the country, and in rallying all its strongest forces to guard our vital interests. Unhappily all that influence, and it is an enormous influence, has been cast the other way. The Conservative leaders have decided that we are to work with the Socialists, and that we must make our action conform with theirs. We therefore have against us at the present time the official machinery of all the three great parties in the State. We meet under a ban. Every Member of Parliament or Peer who comes here must face the displeasure of the party Whips. Mr. Baldwin has declared that the three-party collusion must continue. And in support of that decision he has appealed to all those sentiments of personal loyalty and partisan feeling which a leader can command. Is it not wonderful in these circumstances, with all this against us, that a few of us should manage to get together here in this hall to-night?

Our fight is hard. It will also be long. We must not expect early success. The forces marshalled against us are too strong. But win or lose, we must do our duty. If the British people are to lose their Indian Empire, they shall do so with their eyes open, and not be led blindfold into a trap. Already in our campaign we have had a measure of success. The movement and awakening of opinion in the Conservative party have already caused concern to our leaders. They feel they have to reckon with resolute forces in the party, and far beyond it, who will not be easily quelled. Already they have rejected the plan of sending a three-party delegation out to India for which Lord Irwin pleaded so earnestly. For the moment, therefore, we have a breathing space. The Socialist and subversive enemy have been thrown into disarray by the breakdown of their scheme to entice the Conservatives out to India. They are arranging their forces for a renewed attack. Mr. Gandhi, their supreme hope, is to come to London, as soon as they can persuade him to come, and here in the centre of the Empire he will discuss with British ministers and politicians the best means for breaking it up. But by that time we shall be ready too. We shall not be taken by surprise, as the country was during the Round Table Conference. We are not entirely defenceless or without means of expression.

We have behind us the growing strength of Conservative opinion. We have the prospect at no great distance of a Conservative victory. Nothing will turn us from our path, or discourage us from our efforts; and by the time Mr. Gandhi has arrived here to receive the surrender of our Indian Empire, the Conservative party will not be so ready to have its name taken in vain.

What spectacle could be more sorrowful than that of this powerful country casting away with both hands, and up till now almost by general acquiescence, the great inheritance which centuries have gathered? What spectacle could be more strange, more monstrous in its perversity, than to see the Viceroy and the high officials and agents of the Crown in India labouring with all their influence and authority to unite and weave together into a confederacy all the forces adverse and hostile to our rule in India? One after another our friends and the elements on which we ought to rely in India are chilled, baffled and dismissed, and finally even encouraged to band themselves together with those who wish to drive us out of the country. It is a hideous act of self-mutilation, astounding to every nation in the world. The princes, the Europeans, the Moslems, the Depressed classes, the Anglo-Indians – none of them know what to do nor where to turn in the face of their apparent desertion by Great Britain. Can you wonder that they try in desperation to make what terms are possible with the triumphant Brahmin oligarchy?

I am against this surrender to Gandhi. I am against these conversations and agreements between Lord Irwin and Mr. Gandhi. Gandhi stands for the expulsion of Britain from India. Gandhi stands for the permanent exclusion of British trade from India. Gandhi stands for the substitution of Brahmin domination for British rule in India. You will never be able to come to terms with Gandhi. You have only to read his latest declarations, and compare them with the safeguards for which we are assured the official Conservatives will fight to the end, to see how utterly impossible agreement is. But let me tell you this. If at the sacrifice of every British interest and of all the necessary safeguards and means of preserving peace and progress in India, you come to terms with Gandhi, Gandhi would at that self-same moment cease to count any more in the Indian situation.

Already Nehru, his young rival in the Indian Congress, is preparing to supersede him the moment that he has squeezed his last drop from the British lemon. In running after Gandhi and trying to build on Gandhi, in imagining that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and Mr. Gandhi and Lord Irwin are going to bestow peace and progress upon India, we should be committing ourselves to a crazy dream, with a terrible awakening.

No! Come back from these perilous paths while time and strength remain. Study the report of your own statutory commission headed by Sir John Simon and signed unanimously by the representatives of all the three parties in the State. Let us take that as our starting-point for any extensions we may make of self-government in India. It is very wrong that the vast majority of Conservative electors throughout the country, and the vast majority of all those who are acquainted with and have practical experience of India, and of that enormous mass of patriotic people not attached to any party, should have these vital questions settled over their heads by an agreement or an understanding between the two front benches in the House of Commons, and have their future settled as if they were a lot of sheep.

We are told that three-party unity must be preserved at all costs. What does that mean? Up to the present it has only meant one thing, namely, that the Conservative party has had to toe the Socialist line, and has been dragged at the Socialist tail. Here are these Socialists, maintained in office only on sufferance or by intrigue, expecting all other parties to serve them, and to dance to their tune. We are here to-night to say ‘No, that shall not be.’ We have a right to our own convictions; we are entitled to act in accordance with them. We will certainly make our faith apparent by every means in our power, and in every quarter of the land.

I repudiate the calumny which our opponents level at us that we have no policy for India but repression and force. Do not be deceived by these untruths. Do not be disquieted by exaggerations of the difficulty of maintaining order in India which are spread about for interested motives by the Socialist ministers and their allies. In the whole of the disturbances of the last year -.except on the frontier – scarcely a British soldier has been required. Very few people have been killed or severely wounded in the rioting. But how did the most of them get hurt? They got hurt not by the Indian police, but in religious fights between Moslems and Hindus.

The great body of expert opinion which is represented upon the Indian Empire Society will support me when I say that a calm, capable, determined Viceroy properly supported from home could maintain peace and tranquillity in India year after year with a tenth of the repressive measures which Lord Irwin in his misguided benevolence has been compelled to employ.

Neither is it true that we have no constructive policy. We take our stand upon views almost universally accepted until a few months ago. We believe that the next forward step is the development of Indian responsibility in the provincial governments of India. Efforts should be made to make them more truly representative of the real needs of the people. Indians should be given ample opportunities to try their hand at giving capable government in the provinces; and meanwhile the central Imperial executive, which is the sole guarantee of impartiality between races, creeds and classes, should   preserve its sovereign power intact, and allow no derogation from its responsibility to Parliament. Is that Diehardism?’ That is the message of the Simon report, unanimously signed by the representatives of the three parties. That is the purport of the alternative scheme submitted a few months ago by the Viceroy himself.

After all, it opens immediately an immense and fertile field for Indian self-government. The provinces of India are great states and separate nations comparable in magnitude and in numbers with the leading powers of Europe. The responsible government of territories and populations as large as Germany, France, Poland, Italyor Spain is not a task unworthy of Indian capacity for self-government, so far as it has yet been displayed. It is a task the successful discharge of which would certainly not conflict with the ultimate creation of a federal system. On the contrary it is the indispensable preliminary without which no federation, desirable or undesirable, is possible. Why, the very word ‘federal’ signifies a foedus or treaty made between hitherto sovereign or autonomous states.

All federations have arisen thus. In the United States of America, in Canada, in Australia, in South Africa, in every case the units have first been created. Why should these unpractised, unproved, unrepresentative, self-chosen groups of Indian politicians disdain the immense possibilities offered within the limits of the Statutory Commission’s report, and demand an immediate setting up of a United States of India, with themselves in control, and the British army at their orders? Before a Federal system for India could be set up there must be first the self-governing constituent provinces; and secondly, far greater, more real, more representative contact between the Indian political classes and the vast proletariat they aspire to rule.

Even Europe cannot achieve such a united organisation. But what would be said of a scheme which handed the federal government of the United States of Europe over to political classes proportionately no larger than the inhabitants of Portugal, and no more representative of the needs and passions of a mighty continent than the inhabitants of a single city like Rome? Such are the follies we are forced to expose. We therefore resist upon the highest experience and authority the viewy hysterical megalomania of the Round Table Conference.

Why is it that the principles of Government and lessons of history which we have learnt in our experience with the great self-governing dominions, which we have learnt in Canada, in South Africa and in Ireland, apply only in a limited degree to India? It is because the problem of Indian government is primarily a technical one. In India far more than in any other community in the world moral, political and economic considerations are outweighed by the importance of technical and administrative apparatus. Here you have nearly three hundred and fifty millions of people, lifted to a civilisation and to a level of peace, order, sanitation and progress far above anything they could possibly have achieved themselves or could maintain. This wonderful fact is due to the guidance and authority of a few thousands of British officials responsible to Parliament who have for generations presided over the development of India.

If that authority is injured or destroyed, the whole efficiency of the services, defensive, administrative, medical, hygienic, judicial; railway, irrigation, public works and famine prevention, upon which the Indian masses depend for their culture and progress, will perish with it. India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages. The question at stake is not therefore the gratification of the political aspirations towards self-government of a small number of intellectuals. It is, on the contrary, the practical, technical task of maintaining the peace and life of India by artificial means upon a much higher standard than would otherwise be possible. To let the Indian people fall, as they would, to the level of China, would be a desertion of duty on the part of Great Britain.

But that is not all. To abandon India to the rule of the Brahmins would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence. It would shame for ever those who bore its guilt. These Brahmins who mouth and patter the principles of Western Liberalism, and pose as philosophic and democratic politicians, are the same Brahmins who deny the primary rights of existence to nearly sixty millions of their own fellow countrymen whom they call ‘untouchable’, and whom they have by thousands of years of oppression actually taught to accept this sad position. They will not eat with these sixty millions, nor drink with them, nor treat them as human beings. They consider themselves contaminated even by their approach. And then in a moment they turn round and begin chopping logic with John Stuart Mill, or pleading the rights of man with Jean Jacques Rousseau.

While any community, social or religious, endorses such practices and asserts itself resolved to keep sixty millions of fellow countrymen perpetually and eternally in a state of sub-human bondage, we cannot recognise their claim to the title-deeds of democracy. Still less can we hand over to their unfettered sway those helpless millions they despise. Side by side with this Brahmin theocracy and the immense Hindu population – angelic and untouchable castes alike – there dwell in India seventy millions of Moslems, a race of far greater physical vigour and fierceness, armed with a religion which lends itself only too readily to war and conquest. While the Hindu elaborates his argument, the Moslem sharpens his sword. Between these two races and creeds, containing as they do so many gifted arid charming beings in all the glory of youth, there is no intermarriage.

The gulf is impassable. If you took the antagonisms of France and Germany, and the antagonisms of Catholics and Protestants, and compounded them and multiplied them ten-fold, you would not equal the division which separates these two races intermingled by scores of millions in the cities and plains of India. But over both of them the impartial rule of Britain has hitherto lifted its appeasing sceptre. Until the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms began to raise the question of local sovereignty and domination, they had got used to dwelling side by side in comparative toleration. But step by step, as it is believed we are going to clear out or be thrust out of India, so this tremendous rivalry and hatred of races springs into life again. It is becoming more acute every day. Were we to wash our hands of all responsibility and divest ourselves of all our powers, as our sentimentalists desire, ferocious civil wars would speedily break out between the Moslems and the Hindus. No one who knows India will dispute this.

But that is not the end. The Brahmins know well that they cannot defend themselves against the Moslems. The Hindus do not possess among their many virtues that of being a fighting race. The whole south of India is peopled with races deserving all earnest solicitude and regard, but incapable of self-defence. It is in the north alone that the fighting races dwell. Bengal, for instance, does not send from her forty-five million inhabitants any soldiers to the native army. The Punjab is a place where fighting races dwell|, on the other hand, and the Pathans, together with the Ghurkas and the Sikhs, who are entirely exceptional sects of Hindus, all dwelling in the north, furnish three-quarters of the entire army in the time of peace, and furnished more than three-quarters of it in time of war. There can be no doubt therefore that the departure of the British from India, which Mr. Gandhi advocates, and which Mr. Nehru demands, would be followed first by a struggle in the North and thereafter by a reconquest of the South by the North, and of the Hindus by the Moslems.

This danger has not escaped the crafty foresight of the Brahmins. It is for that reason that they wish to have the control of a British army, or failing that, a white army of janissaries officered, as Mr. Gandhi has suggested, by Germans or other Europeans. They wish to have an effective foreign army, or foreign-organised army, in order to preserve their dominance over the Moslems and their tyranny over their own untouchables. There, is the open plot of which we are in danger of becoming the dupes, and the luckless millions of Indians the victims.

It is our duty to guard those millions from that fate.

Let me just direct your attention once more upon these untouchables, fifty or sixty millions of them, that is to say more than the whole population of the British Isles; all living their lives in acceptance of the validity of the awful curse pronounced upon them by the Brahmins. A multitude as big as a nation, men, women and children deprived of hope and of the status of humanity. Their plight is worse than that of slaves, because they have been taught to consent not only to a physical but to a psychic servitude and prostration.

I have asked myself whether if Christ came again into this world, it would not be to the untouchables of India that he would first go, to give them the tidings that not only are all men equal in the sight of God, but that for the weak and poor and downtrodden a double blessing is reserved. Certainly the success of Christianity and missionary enterprise has been greater among the untouchables than among any other class of the Indian population. The very act of accepting Christianity by one of these poor creatures involves a spiritual liberation from this obsession of being unclean; and the curse falls from their minds as by a miracle. They stand erect, captains of their fate in the broad sunlight of the world. There are also nearly five million Indian Christians in India, a large proportion of whom can read and write, and some of whom have shown themselves exceptionally gifted. It will be a sorry day when the arm of Britain can no longer offer them the protection of an equal law.

There is a more squalid aspect. Hitherto for generations it has been the British policy that no white official should have any interest or profit other than his salary and pension out of Indian administration. All concession-hunters and European adventurers, company-promoters and profit-seekers have been rigorously barred and banned. But now that there is spread through India the belief that we are a broken, bankrupt, played-out power, and that our rule is going to pass away and be transferred in the name of the majority to the Brahmin sect, all sorts of greedy appetites have been excited, and many itching fingers are stretching and scratching at the vast pillage of a derelict Empire. I read in the Times newspaper, in the Times mind you, only last week of the crowd of rich Bombay merchants and millionaire millowners, millionaires on sweated labour, who surround Mr. Gandhi, the saint, the lawyer, Lord Irwin’s dear colleague and companion. What are they doing there, these men, and what is he doing in their houses?

They are making arrangements that the greatest bluff, the greatest humbug and the greatest betrayal shall be followed by the greatest ramp. Nepotism, back-scratching, graft and corruption in every form will be the handmaidens of a Brahmin domination. Far rather would I see every Englishman quit the country, every soldier, every civil servant embark at Bombay, than that we should remain clutching on to the control of foreign relations and begging for trading facilities, while all the time we were the mere cloak of dishonour and oppression.

If you were to put these facts, hard, solid indigestible facts, before Mr. Ramsay MacDonald or Mr. Wedgwood Benn, or Sir Herbert Samuel, they would probably reply by pointing to the follies of Lord North in the American revolution, to the achievements of Lord Durham in Canada, or to what has happened in South Africa or in Ireland. All the Socialists and some of the Liberals, together with, I am sorry to say, the official Conservatives, have got these arguments on the tip of their tongue. They represent all of us and the millions who think with us, and the instructed Anglo-Indian administrators on whose advice we rely, as being mere dullards and reactionaries who have never been able to move with the age, or understand modern ideas. We are a sort of inferior race mentally deficient, composed principally of colonels and other undesirables who have fought for Britain. They are the sole possessors and monopolists of the spirit and of the message of our generation. But we do not depend on colonels – though why Conservatives should sneer at an honoured rank in the British army I cannot tell – we depend on facts. We depend on the private soldiers of the British democracy. We place our trust in the loyal heart of Britain. Our faith is founded upon the rock of the wage-earning population of this island which has never yet been appealed to, by duty and chivalry, in vain.

These great issues which arise from time to time in our history are never decided by the party caucuses. They are decided by the conscience and the spirit of the mass of the British people. It is upon the simple faith and profound unerring instinct of the British people, never yet found wanting in a crisis, that we must put our trust. We are deliberately trying to tell our story to the British masses, to the plain and simple folk to whom the fame of the British Empire is ever dear. In assailing the moral duty of Great Britain in India, the Socialist Government and all who aid and abet Mr. Ramsay Macdonald and his Socialist Government, or make their path smooth, will find they have stumbled upon a sleeping giant who, when he arises, will tread with dauntless steps the path of justice and of honour.