29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 3

The debate on arms and equipment and man-power came next

day, and it was not a good day for the Government. Mr. Shinwell made a cogent and careful analysis of the whole problem. He deplored the recent optimistic speeches of Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Bevin, and pleaded for a concentrated production of war materials, comprehensive rationing and com- pulsory training. Mr. Greenwood's reply was ineffective. He seems to have lost grip. His manner was apologetic and timid, his matter far from reassuring and never clear. Mr. Clement Davies expressed the general view in deploring the lack of co- ordinated economic policy. Up to this point hardly any Con- servatives were present in the debate, owing to a weekly meeting upstairs—which is to be regretted. Mr. Hore-Belisha returned to the attack and commented on the persistent un- employment figures. This was a telling indictment of bad organisation. Mr. Bevin replied to the criticisms by analysing unemployment away in the good old " Ernie Brown " style. The House, including Labour members, enjoyed the spectacle. He also made the mistake of criticising all and sundry and of making remarks more suited to the hustings or the Trade Union Congress. This is not good enough. Members are prepared to be tolerant, but they want argument and facts and some indication of swift action. It was good to have a debate with cut-and-thrust, but it would be lamentable to slip back into recriminations over past policies. Once again the country and the House of Commons are forcing the Executive into more extreme measures than it wishes to take.

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