On 29 September, when Chamberlain travelled to Munich for the third time to meet Hitler, he entered a 14-hour hearing in the middle of the night. As part of the agreement, the German-speaking regions of the Sudetenland should be admitted to the Empire and hire an international plebiscite commission elsewhere along the border. Chamberlain and Hitler also signed the Anglo-German declaration affirming “the desire of our two peoples never to go to war again.” The Prime Minister has returned home as a national hero. These are the characteristics that I would like to highlight here and which have constituted an immeasurable trust that Britain and France pay dearly. Over these five years, we have been reduced to a security position so overwhelming and unassailable that we have never been careful to think about it. We were lowered from a position where the word “war” was considered a word that could only be used by people eligible for a mad asylum. We have been removed from a position of security and power – the power to do good, the power to be generous to a defeated enemy, the power to settle with Germany, the power to give it the right reparation for its abuses, stop power, its armament, if we decide to make the power to take every step in strength or mercy or justice that we thought was right – in five years from a position that is safe undisputed of who we are today. If this determination was made and the way was followed – it can be said that it was wise or reckless, prudent or short-sighted – after the decision not to make the defence of Czechoslovakia a matter of war, there was really no reason, if the matter had been dealt with in the usual way in the summer, to call in a reckless manner all this huge apparatus of crisis. I think that should be taken into consideration. Rearmament efforts, the nature of which has not been seen, should be undertaken without delay and all the resources of this country and all its united forces should be bent to this task. I was very pleased to see that Lord Baldwin said yesterday in the House of Lords that he would mobilize the industry tomorrow. But I think it would have been much better if Lord Baldwin said it two and a half years ago, when everyone asked for a supply department.
I dare say hon. Gentlemen, those who sit behind the government bank, hon. Friends of mine, whom I thank for the patience with which they have heard what I have to say, that they also have some responsibility in all this, because if they had given a tithe of the acclaim they gave to this transaction of Czechoslovakia to the small group of Members. We should not be in the position we are in, those who have tried to put in place a rearmament in a timely manner. Hon. ladies and gentlemen, and hon. Members on the Liberal benches are not allowed to throw these stones. I remember that for two years I was confronted not only with the devaluation of the government, but also with its strong disapproval.
Lord Baldwin gave the signal, however hesitant he was; At least let`s do it. We are invited to vote in favour of this proposal which has been put forward in the document and it is certainly a very undisputed proposal, as is the amendment that has been postponed by the opposition. For my part, I am not in a position to agree with the measures taken and, since the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put his side so forcefully, I will try to approach the matter from a different angle, if I may.