ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE PRIVATE MANUFACTURE OF AND TRADING IN ARMS
Statement submitted by the National Peace Council and organisations associated with it for this purpose.
The National Peace Council and the organisations associated with it for the present purpose, submit the following evidence and expression of views to the Royal Commission.
I. THE GENERAL CASE
1. Paragraph 1 of the Royal Commission's terms of reference calls for report on the desirability of prohibiting private
manufacture of and trade in arms: and paragraph 2 calls for report on whether there are any steps to be taken to remove the "grave objections" to which private manufacture is stated in Article VIII of the Covenant to be open. Evidently, these questions do not admit of an adequate answer until the grounds for objection to private manufacture have been thoroughly examined.
2. In the Council's view, grave objections do undoubtedly exist: and the Council finds extraordinarily widespread support from
public opinion on this point. The anxiety expressed by the authors of the Covenant is widely shared in many European countries, not least by the ex-service men, who united to present an impressive memorial on this subject to the Disarmament Conference in 1933. It is keenly felt in the United States, where the demand of the ex-service men that measures should be adopted to "take the profit out of war" contributed to the decision to hold the Senatorial enquiry into the arms trade: and President Roosevelt (May 18, 1934) referring to the dangers of a "mad race of armaments", declared that "this grave menace to the peace of the world is due in no small measure to the uncontrolled activities of manufacturers of and merchants in engines of destruction". The French Government (1933) called for suppression of the manufacture of armaments by private enterprise; or, failing that, for drastic control by international as well as national means. Throughout Great Britain, the National Peace Council has found evidence of the deep concern of public opinion about this question, and of the widespread desire, even in centres of the munitions industry, that the manufacture of war material should no longer be subject to the motive of profit-making. We understand that one of our affiliated organisations - the Women's International League - is submitting to the Commission detailed evidence in support of this assertion.
3. The main ground for objection is, in the Council's view, inherent in the nature of this business, and does not require, for its demonstration, any research or documentary evidence. The manufacturer of armaments for private profit must desire the continuance of conditions in which there is a demand for his products: and he must be under temptations to stimulate, by whatever means are open to him, that demand. In the case of