Document H

Government and Civil Service reaction to Churchill’s interventions on rearmament

Sir Maurice Hankey discusses the “Winston problem” with Sir Thomas Inskip and Stanley Baldwin.

“Committee of Imperial Defence

1 March 1937


“So far as I can see, there is no great advantage in continuing this controversy with Mr Churchill. The real disagreement is not so much on the figures as on the deductions to be drawn from the figures. So far as I can judge from the Papers, Mr Churchill’s deductions have always been made on the same basis, and the Air Staff have always made substantially the same reply. But, as political considerations are involved, I hesitate to recommend the cessation of the exchange of views.

If Ministers should decide to discontinue the controversy I suggest that the best way of ending it would be for them to instruct me to inform Mr Churchill quite frankly that within the last few weeks we have opened up new sources of information which we believe to be of great reliability and which it has been possible to test for accuracy in many details by other reliable information, but which is of so secret a character that it has been decided to communicate it only to members of the Cabinet. To continue the exchange of views with Mr Churchill without this information involves to much unreality that it is really not worth while, as probably he himself will agree.”

Crown copyright. Reference: Hankey Papers, HNKY 5/1/111-112