PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL.
Finance & G.P.C.11/1.
18th June, 1935.
TRADES UNION CONGRESS GENERAL COUNCIL.
MEMORANDUM ON ARMS TRADE ENQUIRY.
1. At their last meeting the General Council considered a recommendation of the Finance and General Purposes Committee in the following terms:-
"That the General Council be informed that, after re-examining the matter, the Committee were unable to see the likelihood of practical results arising from the Enquiry. As the National Peace Council had been informed that their evidence was in accordance with the policy of the Trades Union Congress and had been empowered to inform the Commission of this fact, it was felt to be undesirable that the matter should be carried beyond this point."
After discussion it was agreed that the matter be referred back for further examination with the object of presenting a detailed memorandum on the subject.
2. PRESENT POLICY.
The statement on War and Peace, approved by the last Trades Union Congress and the Southport Conference of the Labour Party refers to the Hastings Labour Party Conference resolution, including mention of the suppression of all private manufacture and trade in arms.
The only Congress resolution referring to the private manufacture of arms was passed at the Newcastle Congress in 1932. The resolution deals with disarmament, and in the final paragraph, declares that "a Treaty of Disarmament will only inspire confidence if it includes a drastic reduction and limitation of export of armaments and a strict international control both of the public and private manufacture of war material and the international trade in arms.'' It will be noted in both instances that international action is referred to.
3. TRADE IN ARMS.
It should be made clear that so far as this country is concerned no munitions can be exported except under Government licence. There is no doubt that the general position would be far more satisfactory if this were the practice in other countries which are members of the League. In considering as to whether this country should, irrespective of action in other countries, abolish the private manufacture of arms, regard should be paid to the fact that this would undoubtedly lead to a curtailment in our export of arms.
Apart from the fact that no British Government could set up a sales organisation in connection with munitions, the Government, even if approached by another country to