§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
In the course of my speech yesterday I had to resume my seat because the time for the Adjournment had arrived. I realise that a great number of Hon. Members were not in the House at the time I spoke, and if they undertake to read my earlier remarks, I will save them the embarrassment of having to repeat what I said last night. This is rather in the nature of a hangover, and I shall endeavour to keep my remarks as short as possible. Before I heard the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General, I would have thought that there was a division among the ordinary working people of this country of 50 per cent. of cynicism and 50 per cent. of hope as far as reconstruction after the war is concerned. I listened very carefully to the speech, and I feel I was right when I said yesterday that probably the percentage of cynics has gone up to something like 75 per cent. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, who I understand is replying to the Debate, whether he can point to any single statement in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman which would give any kind of comfort at all that the great mass of unemployment, which is one of the consequences of the last war, is likely to be prevented when this war comes to a successful conclusion. We have had one or two Ministers of Reconstruction in power ever since May 1940, over two and a half years ago, and all that we were treated to yesterday by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a series of chapter headings, but no chapter seemed ever to come to a conclusion. I hope most definitely that we may hear from the right hon. Gentleman that some more of the inquiries have been finished and that some plans are already in pigeon-holes
The Debate was, in a sense, rather unreal, because Members knew that the Beveridge Report was about to be published. It was published, and hon. Members who were not waiting to speak had the Report in their hands. There was naturally a very great interest in the contents of that Report, but I feel that the timing of its publication has very largely emasculated the Debate we are having at the present time. I wonder—and I have wondered quite often—whether the timing of that publication and 1182 the filling of all the newspapers this morning was designed to cover up the very large empty holes in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I was yesterday interrupted by a certain number of hon. Members of the Conservative Party when I said that they were very much less interested in post-war reconstruction than we are on these benches. Although the interruption took place, I was not at all converted or convinced that their opposition was anything more than just play. We remember that the Conservative and/or Liberal Party have been in control of this country always. We can go back for more than 20 years and find that the Conservative Party have opposed every social reform since 1919. (An HON. MEMBER: "What nonsense.") I know perfectly well that the Labour Party's programme at the 1922 General Election contained a proposal for widows' pensions. That was turned down by the Conservative Party because they could not afford it. In the 1923 General Election the Tory Party adopted the same action, but in 1925, we all remember, it was passed. We have always had to struggle for any social reform. I am clear in my own mind that over this issue of social reconstruction after the war we shall have much bitter opposition, and I can assure hon. Members on this side of the House that there must not be any weakening in our real duty to see that the people in this country, and, as far as we can influence it, people overseas, get a really decent world in which to live after the war.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
May I ask the hon. Member whether he agrees with the last sentence of the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in which he said that there was a common underlying purpose with regard to reconstruction?
§ Mr. Bowles
I will refer to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General and quote this one sentence. He said:All talk of reconstruction is a mockery if the world is to remain hereafter under the constant fear of aggression." (OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1942; col. 1076, Vol. 385.).1183 I thoroughly agree with that, and I am therefore particularly alarmed when I find that on the pretext of some military necessity the Government are now having negotiations with a well known Fascist and setting him up in power—Admiral Darlan. I am convinced that this country—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member is not in Order in referring to Admiral Darlan in this Debate. That would be an anticipation of a Debate, which has been promised in the near future.
§ Mr. Bowles
All I was saying, Mr. Speaker, was that I do not believe Great Britain can live in peace if a number of the awful symptoms of pre-war years are obvious in various parts of Europe. However, I will leave it at that. We are determined to see after this war that the mortmain of conservatism and vested interests shall not frustrate the legitimate desires of the common people throughout the world.
§ Major Petherick (Penryn and Falmouth)
I was interested to listen to the speech of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), because his voice seemed to me rather like a voice from the past in that he was making a number of political points the like of which we have been accustomed to listen to in the piping times of peace. Before I go on with what I have to say, I wish to make some comments about the Atlantic Charter itself. I read the Amendment now before the House with very great care and found it rather difficult to relate it to the Atlantic Charter, because it asks that the undertakings given in the Charter be fulfilled and that the pledges given to the people of this country should be carried out. But it seems to me that the fulfilment of none of these undertakings is called for at the moment, with the possible exception of Article 5. I have on previous occasions made some comments about the Charter, which filled me With some alarm, and I remember—in company with my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Planning, who is now on the Front Bench, trying to live down his grisly past—giving utterance to a number of misgivings about certain Articles in the Charter. I maintained that it was always hazardous in a middle of a war for a Government or a collection of Governments, allied together, to tie them- 1184 selves to any statement of war aims, however excellent those war aims in principle might be.
If the Charter or declaration which a Government produces, with or without the support of other Allied nations, is sufficiently vague, it becomes merely a series of platitudes, and there is no particular point in bringing it out at all. Furthermore, it is rather dangerous to do so, since it is apt to spread disunion among your own people because there may be certain points which some think ought to have been included and which, in fact, may have been left out. If you make a pronouncement of that kind specific, it is even more dangerous, because its Articles are very apt to be either too weak or too strong, and in that case you are apt to cause disunion among your people and perhaps among the United Nations by the very points which you hope will gain support for your cause. Another danger is that during the course of a war a declaration of that kind having been made, it may well be that the Government and the people of the country may wish either to relax or to stiffen its terms. I will give an example of that. Supposing Germany within a month of the declaration of war had thrown over the Nazi Government and had agreed to disarm, the terms we would have been willing to impose upon her would have been much less stiff than those we might wish to impose at the end of several years of bloody strife and ruthless action by the German Government and the German army.
The whole situation may change and is, indeed, certain to change. You may very likely wish to change the terms of your war aims in 1944 from what they were in 1941. Again, if I may, I will give an example of that. Japan was not in the war when the Atlantic Charter was promulgated. She subsequently came in with the idea of dominating the Far East and as much of the Middle East as she could conveniently gain access to, and the result is that we found ourselves, and still find ourselves, in a very embarrassing position in the whole of those far countries. It may be that if you are able to defeat Germany first, the war with Japan will go on longer and that in order to prevent another attempt by Japan at such domination of the Far East it may be necessary—I do not say it will be—for America and Great 1185 Britain to occupy some of the Japanese islands for a period of years. You cannot do that, I maintain, without committing a breach of the Atlantic Charter as it is at present laid down. You are then faced with a most unpleasant and almost discreditable alternative, namely, either of breaking your word as set out in the Atlantic Charter or of seeking some legalistic evasion in order to get round its terms. Therefore, I would urge on the Government most seriously to consider these points, in conjunction, of course, with America, Russia and the other United Nations, to see if it is not advisable to reconsider particularly Articles 1 and 2 of that document.
In foreign policy there are certain basic principles which it is as well to observe. One is to say as little as possible in almost all circumstances; another is never to make a pledge on behalf of your country unless you can see your way to carry it through; another, which was broken during the 20 years before the war, is never to engage in military commitments of a vague nature which, again, you cannot see your way to carry out in all reasonably foreseeable circumstances; and still another is that it is unwise to make long-term treaties. The course of the world is always changing, politically, economically and socially, and that which may suit your country to-day may cause it grave embarrassment in four or five years' time. Therefore, I again come back to the point that I tried to make at the beginning of my speech, namely, that even general statements of war aims are inadvisable. There should be no further elaboration of them, but a possible refinement of those which have already been made and amendment of them as necessary.
I am one of those who have hitherto claimed that it was inadvisable to engage in long discussions of post-war reconstruction while the war was in progress. The reason some of us took this attitude, particularly in the earlier part of the war, was that we believed that all the best brains should be used directly in the prosecution of the war and that, therefore, one would be likely to get, on balance, during the earlier part of the war, the less good brains engaged on reconstruction problems. Now that the whole course of the war has changed and we are no longer quite in the same position of fight- 1186 ing with our backs to the wall, now that we can see at any rate a glimmer of brighter things to come, I think it is advisable to engage in these discussions, and consequently, I welcome this debate.
The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), in a speech which he made at an earlier stage of the Debate on the Address, said he noticed the greater interest that was being taken in these matters by Conservative Members, and he spoke of the Conservatives coming out of their holes. There are over 100 Conservative Members who are absent on some form of service. At the beginning of the war, many of us felt it was necessary for the House to give far wider and greater powers to the Executive than we would have dreamed of giving them in time of peace; we felt also that there were some jobs that needed doing outside the House, in the Services and elsewhere. For those reasons we have been absent from the House, and I think that is one of the explanations why, as the hon. Member for Seaham said in one of his "Sharp little Emily" moments, Conservative Members are now coming out of their holes. Probably one of the reasons the hon. Member for Seaham did not very much like this recrudescence of activity apparent in the Conservative Party was that he thought we were rather butting in on his preserves. The hon. Member and a few other hon. Members have had a pretty free run in the vocal line since the war began, and I venture to say that some of us propose to be so impudent as to join the hon. Member for Seaham in his endeavours.
May I say a word or two on the subject of controversial legislation? Some people seem to be in some doubt about what controversial legislation is. It is simply legislation which arouses controversy. Whereas legislation directly connected with the war which arouses controversy may be, although undesirable, absolutely necessary, I think that other legislation which will cause disunity at a time when it is vital to obtain the maximum degree of national unity is, on the whole, undesirable. In the course of the Debate on the Address, the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) has accused my right hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking) and me of being reactionaries and appeasers, in view of the fact that we have taken a certain line about contro- 1187 versial legislation. On the matter of appeasers, there will be a good deal more to say when the war is over, and I do not want to raise a riot now by discussing that subject, but I think we ought to examine a little more closely the question of reaction.
What is reaction? It may be good, and it may be bad. Presumably, there are not many hon. Members who would consider it highly disreputable to react in ethics to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. There are very few hon. Members who would not prefer our financial position in 1912, if we could react to it, to our financial position and the state of our investments abroad at the present time. The Prime Minister himself, who is now lauded for his action before the war in advocating rapid and fierce rearmament—quite rightly—was reacting to the principle of having great armaments in order to deal with what he knew was about to become a ruthless and dangerous enemy. That was reaction. I think these phrases we hear about reaction are too easily used. What is the good of progress if you are standing on the edge of a minefield? You have either to go round it, or you have first to send in some engineers to clear up the minefield. Surely, the word "improvement" is a better word for our purpose than progress. Improvement may take the form of trying something we have not tried before, or it may take the form of going back to something which is better, which has been tried in the past and found to be satisfactory.
I sometimes thought in pre-war times, and I have sometimes thought since the war began, that we are rather prone to exaggerate the political differences between the various parties in the House. Whatever we may say for debating purposes, there is no doubt that our main objective is the same. We want to promote, in the old words, the greatest good of the greatest number. It is only on the methods that we differ, and on those methods there are at times very violent differences of opinion; but I believe that after the war there will be an immense amount of work that we can do by a combination of the different parties. It may be that hon. Members of the Labour Party will wish to make the tempo faster; it may be that we shall be more cautious and prefer the 1188 changes—which are always going on—to be rather slower and more prudent. There will be, however, an immense amount of work that we can do together on housing, to some extent on the health services, in education and in various other fields. By joining together—I do not say we can come to a complete agreement, for that is impossible—we shall be able to make very considerable achievements.
On the question of nationalisation, which is bound to become after the war, as indeed it is now, a very important topic, I would like to give the views of what I believe to be a very large section, if not the majority, of the Conservative Party. I do so very humbly, in the knowledge that if any hon. Member thinks I am wrong, he will correct me. We look upon nationalisation and State ownership as a purely business one. We want to be quite sure that the nationalisation of any given industry will be, on balance, an advantage. We object to looking upon nationalisation or socialisation as a good thing per se. I suggest that, in considering the question of the nationalisation of any given industry, there are certain points on which we must satisfy ourselves before we can make out a prima facie case for carrying out such nationalisation. The first thing is the industry must provide for either a necessity or a semi-necessity. Secondly, the efficiency of distribution in the industry should be more important than the efficiency of production and invention. Thirdly, efficiency itself must be more important than economy. With regard to economy, I would say that economy of money is, I should have thought, the same as economy of effort. The fourth thing to be considered is whether, in a given industry, the main object is perfection of the static position of the industry as opposed to the dynamic future position. Let me give a simple example concerning the fourth point. I would say that the provision or completion of electric supply in an area might be an instance where nationalisation would be an advantage, but that in an industry which depended enormously on its methods of sales or upon the capture of foreign markets—in other words, an industry where the dynamic was more important than the static—a strong case could be made against nationalisation. On some of these points we may be able to meet after the war, but on one thing we 1189 cannot really meet. That is that the extreme Socialist elements of the Labour Party look upon socialisation or nationalisation as a policy in itself which has in fact to be applied to every industry in the State, because that inevitably leads to a negation of democracy and to the worship of what Dryden called "that golden calf, a State." The beehive policy would lead us directly to some form of Nazism or Fascism, which we are striving to destroy.
May I make a few remarks on what is likely to be our position after the war and the dangers resulting from it? Many Members have referred to the inescapable fact that we shall have lost probably all our foreign investments and that we shall have great difficulty in paying for the essential foodstuffs and raw materials which we need if the country is to survive. Hard work will be absolutely necessary. It is no good people sitting down and thinking that a brave new world is to be presented in one of our sealed pantechnicons, because it simply will not happen, and anything that tends to undermine the incentive to work will, I believe, cause the country lasting harm. If the incentive to work is entirely removed, as a nation we are done. The profit motive is not only a simple motive of trying to get higher wages or bigger commercial profits. There are many different kinds of profit motives. It may be the desire for honours, or for a place in the Government, or for power. One very good profit motive is the hope of everlasting bliss when we leave this world. It is only when the profit motive is exaggerated or misapplied that most of us would think it was wrong. I believe that, taking the narrow profit motive, that is to say, the desire to gain more money in some form or other, we have to be very careful not to remove the incentive.
That sort of profit motive has three main objects. One is to gain a better standard of comfort and security for a man and his wife and children while they are living; the second is to lay up a store for old age; and the third, a very strong one, which hon. Members are often apt to forget, is that which urges a man to try to make some money in order that he may leave his children better off than he was himself. These three motives, which are the incentive to men to work, have by legislation and other circumstances in most cases, quite rightly, been seriously 1190 lessened over the last years. The first, the motive of immediate comfort and security, has been rendered more difficult owing to taxation. The second motive is lessened by the fact that a man is already—to a very small extent, it is true, but it may be increased—provided for in his old age. The third, the leaving of money to children, is now rendered practically impossible by the immense incidence and weight of the Death Duties. Therefore, we may be getting, and if we are not careful we shall get, I fear, to the position where a man will say, "Why should I work?" and, if you once get that into the minds of the people it is a very serious thing indeed. We all of us know that if you have in a unit a lazy commanding officer or lazy officers the whole unit will become lazy too. I implore the House, while we all desire to improve the lot of those least able to look after themselves, not to forget to maintain among the people the desire to work.
I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) a week or two ago. I sometimes wonder whether he regrets some parts of it. I refer to the passage in which he denounced with great ferocity any form of Imperialism and assailed the Prime Minister for declaring, I believe with the approval of nearly the whole of the country and the Empire, that we intended to maintain the Colonies. The hon. Member, in a cascade of falsetto rhetoric, declared practically that Welshmen were not willing to fight to maintain the Empire. Is it the case that we, as a nation, are only fighting to recover Europe for the unfortunate countries which have been driven out—those which have been conquered by the Germans—or are we also fighting for our own preservation, with which, of course, most of us include the preservation of the Empire? Surely we are not continuing to fight for the pure privilege of handing over our Colonies to someone else. I think it will be very difficult to attain complete unity on the subject of war aims, that is to say, in, the main what we are fighting for; indeed it would be embarassing to try to do so, because many Members might feel that one of our objects was to try to introduce some form of Socialism into Europe. I am not so foolish as to think that one of our war aims is to try to introduce any form of Conservatism into Europe, although I should prefer a more 1191 conservative Europe than would some Members of the Labour Party. It would be extremely difficult to get common agreement on what we are fighting for, but we are completely agreed on what we are fighting against. Germany has made five wars in the last 80 years. We are fighting against the present rulers of Germany who differ only from previous Governments in that they are more blackhearted and in that they have glorified all the defects of the German character into an ideal. And, of course, we are fighting against all her satellites who tried to profit by the success of German arms. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, in a passage which I thought most deplorable, referred to the wickedness of fighting to regain the Malayan swamps. Surely neither he nor any others who feel like him would wish to allow the Japanese to remain in control of Malaya and the islands which she has overrun. Therefore we have to turn the Japanese out first. With others I heartily welcome the Prime Minister's statement at the Mansion House for it is, I believe, a carrying out of the principles of the Atlantic Charter as they were originally intended. We have a very hard row to hoe before we finish We have to avoid, as we have done so far, extremes of optimism and pessimism, but I have always felt firm in our worst hours of the war that we should win somehow. We used to say to ourselves, "It is all very sticky now and we do not know how we are going to win, under what conditions we are going to win, or when we are going to win. All that we know is that we are going to win, for the perfectly good reason that no one in this country will surrender because there will be no surrendering until no one is left in this country and we are utterly destroyed." [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but I feel differently about these things. I have always felt that once we started on the war we would go on until we brought it to a victorious conclusion.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
As one who has been pressing for the last 12 months for a Debate of this kind, I am delighted that we have this opportunity of beginning what I hope will be a long series of discussions. I am glad the Government have made it plain that they are not prepared to take up the attitude that we have to keep the pace of the slowest Members of the House. If there 1192 are hon. Members who want to keep things exactly as they have been, let the diehards stick fast in the mud of their ditches, and let the progressive Members of all parties join together and make as rapid progress as possible in carrying through now before the war ends reconstruction and preparations for it as was done, indeed, during the last war. The Paymaster-General yesterday gave us a wide and interesting survey of his activities. There was one point to which he did not refer, and it would be interesting to have some information about it. That is the Staff College to which the former Minister referred in his opening remarks. Perhaps my right hon. Friend in his reply would say what has become of the Staff College. It appears from what the Paymaster said that a great many inquiries were taking place, but that very few decisions were being made. Some of the decisions were of a negative character. He announced legislation with regard to the Ministry of Planning. This Ministry has had an unfortunate life so far. There have been changes of Minister and policy, and I hope that we are now to arrive at a time when some definite policy will be adopted. It seems to me very much a matter of the man who is appointed to do the job. If he understands it and has determination to get on with it, it will succeed. Otherwise we shall be no further on than we have got up to the present.
I was disappointed that the Paymaster-General felt obliged to announce that no decision had been arrived at with regard to two important recommendations of the Uthwatt Committee, with regard to the purchase of development rights and the betterment tax. It may be that the Government are afraid of opposition. I would point out that the Uthwatt Committee was not a political committee and did not approach its inquiries from the political point of view. It consisted of people of wide knowledge who looked at their problems from an objective point of view, and they made specific recommendations which ought to be adopted by the Government. There will be great disappointment in the country if that is not done. I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend that many of our controls will have to be kept in operation for a considerable period after the war. Some, I think, will have to be continued permanently. We shall have to go in for more planning. I do not mean planning for 1193 land development, but wider economic planning. A great deal has been said about the subject, but it is all a question of how much planning we are going in for and what kind of planning. It can do a great deal of harm or a great deal of good. We want sufficient planning, guidance, arranging and organising to prevent a recurrence of the unemployment that occurred between the two wars. That should be the test to be applied. In any economic planning that is put into operation there must be the widest possible scope for individual initiative and private enterprise because they are the life-blood of our nation in so many ways.
Reference has been made to the Beveridge Report which has been in the hands of hon. Members since yesterday. It will require a great deal of careful study, but I do not think it is very difficult in the time we have had to form a general idea of what it stands for. I do not require any more time to say definitely that I accept with enthusiasm—and I imagine my hon. Friends take the same view—the general principles of that momentous Report. After all, it is only on the lines of the legislation of the great Liberal Government of 1906–14, which, as history relates, started many of the schemes that are now brought to full fruition in this Report. Without committing myself to the details of the whole programme, some of which are not considered, even by Sir William Beveridge, as essential parts of it, I must say that the proposals which will abolish want and provide free doctoring, a wives' charter, pensions for all, children allowances and the abolition of the means test are social aims about which we should come to a decision in the very near future and make arrangements so that they can be put into effect at the earliest possible moment.
In addition to the Beveridge proposals, we require a national statutory minimum wage below which it will be illegal for any person to be employed, perhaps taking the lowest rate of any trade board for that purpose. We want to keep as a permanent feature of our industrial organisation the production committees that are now being set up so generally in industry and have been functioning so well. They have made a great deal of difference to the workers. They have an opportunity now of taking part in the actual conduct 1194 of an industry, and the more we can make that a reality the more we shall introduce that element of democracy which has been wanting in industry.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Is the hon. Member asking the House to believe that these production committees which are so useful are really the fruition of the Liberal Party's policy in the 1906 Parliament?
§ Viscountess Astor (Plymouth, Sutton)
May I ask that the hon. Member should not be asked to go into that, or nobody else will get a chance to speak?
§ Mr. Mander
I am very glad that my hon. Friend has been good enough to raise that point. It enables me very shortly to point out that on behalf of the Liberal Party and with the backing of all the Liberal Members I have, year after year, ever since I have been in this House, introduced a Works Councils Bill, which is precisely on the lines of the production committees now in operation. That is my answer to my hon. Friend.
I should like to make a few remarks on the international situation, and would call particular attention to what was said by Mr. Sumner Welles only a few days ago:If we are to attain our free world, the world of the four freedoms, to the extent practicable, the essential principles of international political and economic relations in that new world must be agreed upon in advance and with the full support of each one of the United Nations, so that agreements to be reached will implement those principles.That is a very important declaration, and it does not altogether fit in with what has been thought in some circles up to the present time. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to accept to the full that statement and that the Government will do their part in carrying it out, both in the political and economic spheres, which are equally important. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has, I know, been working on these matters. He has the St. James's Palace Conference of our Allies. It does not seem to have met for a considerable time, publicly at any rate. It is a good thing to have public meetings from time to time in order to get the propaganda value of those meetings.
1195 The hon. and gallant Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) referred to the inadvisability of making long-term engagements. I think that is exactly what we want to do. We want some permanent arrangement which will eliminate for all nations the possibility of war in the future. I gather that the idea is—and it seems to me to be a thoroughly sound one—that the United Nations should be taken as the basis of the new world order, that they should take over from the League of Nations such of its work as was valuable—and a very great deal of it was extremely valuable—and that in future we should develop it under the banner of the United Nations, seeing, I hope, this great country the leader among the members of the United Nations, as it should be and as it can be. I imagine that the actual physical power may have to be delegated to those who really possess it, the big four—Britain, the United States of America, the Soviet Union and China. The vital thing in the future is that we should know that military power in overwhelming force can be operated the moment an aggressor starts, or even makes preparations to start, and we cannot very well do that unless we have in on it the people who really count and are determined to work together for that purpose.
A matter that is talked about a good deal now is the re-education of the minds of German youth. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether any study is being given to the methods by which this can be carried out. It is very easy to talk about it—it is a very important thing to be done—but it is very difficult to see precisely the manner of doing it. You want some kind of spiritual castor oil which will purge the minds of the Nazis and all those whom Hitler has brought under his heel. I hope that study will be given to this important question. I shall make one remark on a subject that creates a great deal of interest in the country and in the world, and that is the future of the British Colonial Empire. I am entirely against handing it over or giving it up. At the same time, I think there is a good deal to be said for extending the system of international supervision which was such a successful feature of the League of Nations, the mandate system. In effect it does not affect our position, because we do adopt those very high standards which were laid down by the 1196 Mandates Commission, but it does have the effect of raising standards in other countries where the same conceptions are not held. I believe that if we were willing to make a gesture of that kind on condition that all other nations came in it would have a very valuable effect in the United States, because some of the people there appear to be under the impression that our Empire is run on a purely imperialist basis for the benefit of the white races and the subjection of the other peoples. I believe it would do away with the harm that now exists if they could learn, as they would learn from some detached body, that the facts are as we know them to be and not as they think they are.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will give serious consideration to at any rate one of the proposals which the Archbishop of Canterbury has put forward recently. He has put forward a number of ideas, most of them excellent, I think, but I am referring to the particular one in which he suggests the possibility of the inter-nationalisation of the Ruhr. Germany could not fight a war, could not start a war, if she lost control of that great industrial "Black Country" there, and, whatever form action might take, I cannot help thinking there is a great deal to be said for the careful consideration of that proposal to take away one of the great danger spots of the world.
In conclusion, I would say that we have a very difficult task before us in the days of peace. We ought to devote to it the same passionate devotion that we are giving to the war. It requires joint action. One party cannot do it. If we are to return directly after the war to purely party politics, it will be most difficult to carry into effect the great decisions for the future which will have to be taken. Of course, there will have to be a General Election, but that does not necessarily mean that we cannot continue some form of joint action for a period after the "cease fire" sounds. I believe that it would be possible to find a very large measure of agreement which will enable us to erect a structure to withstand the shocks and storms of life both at home and abroad.
§ Colonel Sir George Courthope (Rye)
As the representative here of the Forestry Commission, I should like to thank my right hon. and learned Friend the 1197 Paymaster-General for the generous reference he made to the quality, although not of course to the quantity, of the work which the Commission had been able to carry out and the very high quality of staff which we have been able to get together and train. Perhaps I might tell the House that the Paymaster-General took immense pains to find out all about us and our work. He visited many of our forests and met our staff and so on, and made himself thoroughly conversant with the present position. Before he left the subject of afforestation he told the House that the Government had instructed the Forestry Commission to get ready as far as and as soon as they can for starting work on reafforestation the moment it is possible to do so. I want, if I may, briefly to tell the House what we are doing and have already done.
As most people concerned with trees are aware, one of the most important limiting factors is the supply of plants. From the time you have collected the seed, it takes on the average about four years before you can plant off the plants out in the woods. In anticipation of a great demand for plants for planting, and particularly replanting devastated woodlands, as soon as the war stops, the Forestry Commission have already increased their nursery area by 50 per cent., in spite of the fact that our planting capacity during the war has very much decreased. That area will be expanded still further, so far as we are able to collect seed. It may perhaps interest hon. Members to know that already in our nurseries we have over 300,000,000 little trees. Of course, one is taking risks in that way. If the war goes on long, some trees will get too old each year, and a few millions will have to be destroyed, but that risk is a triviality compared with the danger we should incur if we had not an immense number of plants available as soon as planting is possible.
We are also carrying out as far as we can the collection of seeds for all the useful varieties. Of course, the war has upset matters. We have generally relied on several countries of Europe and on Japan for the supply of seed for European larch, Japanese larch, Corsican pine and things of that kind. None of those supplies are available, but extensive collection is going on of seeds of all those 1198 varieties from seed-bearing trees in the United Kingdom. We are obtaining a great deal of seed with the kind assistance of British Columbia and the United States of Amercia, so we shall be able substantially to increase our sowings next spring. The House may be assured that, so far as it is possible, we shall be ready to provide a very large number of plants as soon as the war is over and replanting is possible.
There is one other matter. Of course, we have to have the land to plant on. It is no good saying, "You have all the land where the timber has been felled." A good deal of it will not be ready for replanting. A great deal is full of the lop and top which have not been cleared away, and it will be covered with weed growth, brambles and things like that. A great deal of expenditure will be necessary before effective replanting work can take place. We hope to find a considerable area of felled timberland available. In addition, we have now 266,000 acres of plantable land not yet planted. It is always advisable in an afforestation scheme to have a pool of land ahead. You cannot shift your labour from one place to another, and you have to have continuous employment right through in each forest area. We cannot say—at least, I am not in a position to say, and I do not think the Paymaster-General is in a position to say yet—what our position will be in the direction of acquiring, for replanting, land under private ownership on which the timber has been felled. There is no doubt whatever that, by some means or other, the Forestry Commission or the forestry authority of the future will be in a position to arrange for the planting, or will do the planting themselves, of a very large area of the land now devastated by war.
It might interest hon. Members if I sought to give, in a very few sentences, an outline of the present picture. At the time of the last war the Crown had only 60,000-odd acres of forest. There were nearly 3,000,000 acres in private hands. A good deal of that land was heavily cut over for the purposes of the last war, and it made a very handsome contribution, providing practically all the timber, other than imported timber, for the last war. The 60,000-odd acres belonging to the Crown included the New Forest and the Forest of Dean, and a good deal of it was cut over. The Forestry Commission was 1199 started 23 years ago. Up to the present time we have planted approximately 400,000 acres of young plantation. Not more than one-fifth of that has grown even to pit-prop size. About 80,000 or 100,000 acres have been, or will be, felled, to provide pit timber. The rest will carry on and grow into the timber of the future. The whole of the rest of the home-grown timber, except for the limited quantities available in the Forest of Dean and the New Forest, is on private estates.
There is a good deal of misconception about the production of timber on private estates. One hears very sweeping condemnations made of their condition, and they are generally based upon the fact that those estates contribute to the commercial timber supply and timber consumption of the country only a very small part in peace-time. What is overlooked is that the woodlands of the country provide practically the whole of the timber used for estate repairs—for fencing and work for other estate purposes. This far exceeds the quantity available for sale. Privately-owned timber going to the markets is a relatively small part of the total production. Because 3,000,000 acres contribute only a small percentage to the commercial demands of the country, it is not right to assert that that is the measure of their production. It is not. There are many privately-owned woodlands which are neglected. One cannot condemn them too severely, but there are also a number of estates where the woodland has been admirably managed. We Forestry Commissioners regard it as most important that that knowledge and that experience should be made available for the replanting programme after the war. We do not want to get into the state of assuming that only the Forestry Commission and its officers can do good work. We want estate foresters and woodmen and estate owners, many of whom have studied the matter and are well qualified woodsmen, to help.
There is only one other thing I want to say, that is, to urge the House to remember that whether they start us on a large forestry scheme or a small one—and I hope it will be a large one, in the interests of the country—it should be maintained at a uniform level. There is nothing more disastrous than that one should be given a sum of so many millions for some years and then suddenly be cut 1200 short. It means great waste of labour. It is very much better to start on the scheme which it is intended to continue. I thank the House for listening to these remarks.
§ Mr. Daggar (Abertillery)
Most of my hon. Friends, and I think I can also say that Members of this House generally, are very pleased to have this opportunity of discussing the question of post-war reconstruction, especially as it follows the recent frenzied outbursts of Lord Croft. Those of us who knew him in this House when he adorned the Benches here were not surprised at the speech he recently delivered, because we knew him as the hon. Gentleman who could be depended upon either to say the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time, unless that be too high a compliment to pay to an individual who could in those days describe General Franco as a gallant and Christian gentleman. A man who could without any mental strain reach such a level of blatant indiscretion can be relied on to say anything other than to recite the Lord's Prayer or the Psalms.
But for two things I think we could afford, as Members of this House, to ignore these lordly vapourings. The first is that he is a member of the Government, one of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for War. The second is that his brilliant utterances were in sharp contrast to what the Prime Minister has said, and also to the terms of the Atlantic Charter, to which the Prime Minister's name is appended. The Prime Minister said on 18th December, when speaking at Harrow:When this war is won, as it surely will be, it must be one of our aims to work to establish a state of society where the advantages and privileges which hitherto have been enjoyed only by the few shall be far more widely shared by the men and youth of the nation as a whole.None of us could take exception to that statement of the Prime Minister, other than this, that he stated "when the war is over," and only a few of us agree that we should wait until the war is over before taking action in anticipation of the problems that must inevitably arise after the cessation of hostilities. Personally, I prefer the statement made in this House last Thursday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who declared:I recognise that when you are in a war you have to prepare for peace." [OFFICIAL 1201 REPORT, 6th November, 1942; Col. 845; Vol. 385.]Planning at the moment has again become quite fashionable. As the old song has it, "Everybody's doing it now." It has in fact become the politicians' pastime, but most of the suggested plans are political proposals for patching an economic system which, from 1919 to 1940 could boast of an unemployed army of from 1,000,000 to 3,000,000. There is another reason why Lord Croft's observations appeared strange and out of place, because they were violently in conflict with the pretty phrases used every weekend by occupants of that Ministerial Bench and also other prominent members of the Government. In fact, we are becoming surfeited with them. They resemble a week-end wash, and in addition the competition is becoming pathetically keen. Each member of the Government who speaks at the weekend endeavours to surpass that old slogan of which we heard so much at the end of the last war, namely, that it was the desire to make this "a land fit for heroes." All of them are attempts to describe the new order or the post-war world. At the moment there is no evidence that they will become anything other than phrases, notwithstanding the brilliant speech of the Paymaster-General yesterday.
I am indebted to the "Evening Standard" for this choice collection, and I crave the indulgence of the House to read one or two. Suffice it to say that the "Evening Standard" presented these reports, all 13 of them, probably an unlucky number. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs says that he wants England to be an England that is to become "a land where splendid hearts may go."
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
Actually, that is only a quotation. Somebody else said that.
§ Mr. Daggar
The right hon. Gentleman does not wish to get out of the responsibility. By virtue of the fact that he quoted to the extent that he quoted, he is responsible for approving that statement. Unless we get something more substantial than is to be contained in the speech of my right hon. Friend this country, particularly Wales, 1202 will be in a state in which splendid hearts will be broken. Lord Simon says that the post-war new order will be one "for international currency." As an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, that is very characteristic of him. The Minister of Pensions says" the new order is to be a state of society where there will be "no match selling for ex-Service men." I think the finest one is made by the Under-Secretary of State for Air, who said that the new order is to be one that is to provide opportunity, security, gaiety, sport, quick movement, travel for all and Christian toleration. I have simply given those as an example of what Ministers do at the week-ends. As I say, the "Evening Standard" presented us with 13–13 gems of political prophecy, with 13 pretty phrases by 13 pleasant prophets, but 13, nevertheless, political platitudes. Stringing words together is a harmless emotional exercise. What we are concerned about is, When can we expect deeds, not words, policies, not platitudes and phrases? When shall we be favoured with plans of a definite character? I must admit that to some extent I am disposed to modify my views on the Paymaster-General's Department after the speech which the right hon. and learned Gentleman delivered yesterday, although it did not, as was pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Bolton (Sir C. Entwistle), touch upon our fundamental problems, which are economic. I have always looked upon that Department as being a kind of political smokescreen, to prevent anything being done, a Department for which an appropriate motto over the door would be, "The defence of inactivity". I shall await the embodiment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's proposals in Bills which must come before the House.
Until yesterday we had had little but surveys, inquiries, investigations, and exhaustive reports from Committees. The people in the distressed areas were presented with a plethora of them before the war. We are unable to prosecute this war as rigorously as we should desire, because we did not make the necessary preparations before it began. To use a much-abused word, its prosecution was never planned. Unless we plan for the post-war period it will be said of us again that we were too late. The 20 years after 1919 should have provided us not only 1203 with the information we require, but also with an idea of the nature and magnitude of the problems that will confront us after this war. Some members of the Government have enough complacency to be optimistic about the future. I do not share that optimism. Only an imperfect and unreliable knowledge of our present economic system can explain its existence. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Production said, in a speech at Leeds on 17th September, reported in the "Daily Herald" on 18th September:I do not agree with people who think that unemployment is inevitable after the war, because there is bound to be an enormous demand for textiles and an enormous demand for building.But it should be obvious to anyone that textiles and buildings were required after the last war. For 20 years after the last war we had an annual average of unemployed men and women of 1,500,000, all of whom required clothing, boots, and coal. The demand was there, but the demand was not met because the unemployed lacked the means to satisfy that demand, as they were idle. Why were they rendered idle? Simply because the articles they were previously producing could not be sold at a profit. That was the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Bolton. He realises, as most of us realise, that after the last war we had over-production in relation to the capacity of the people to buy, but not over-production in relation to the capacity of the people to consume. That was then, as it is still, the fundamental economic contradiction facing this country, and it cost this country in various forms of unemployment benefit and assistance over £1,459,000,000 and lost this country wealth which expressed in money amounted to nearly £8,000,000,000, because of people being idle. Nothing in the speech which the right hon. and learned Gentleman delivered yesterday touched upon that economic contradiction. This war has achieved what peace failed to achieve: it has resolved that economic contradiction.
That constitutes a part of our indictment of the existing economic system. Does any hon. Member think we can face another period after this war with a National Debt which has already been increased by £5,000,000,000 and which will probably amount after the war to something in excess of £20,000,000,000? The 1204 right hon. and learned Gentleman agreed that education was a fundamental national question. But is it? There can be no reforms in this country unless the money is forthcoming to meet the cost, and it will not be forthcoming unless you can solve that economic contradiction. Some of the men who experienced the evil effects of that period of depression are now in the Armed Forces, protecting us from the enemy. A refusal to take steps to prevent similar conditions arising after this war would be not only cruel, but sheer treachery on the part of this House. Some of us will never forget those days. We lived with those men for over 20 years, in those depressed areas which were fitly described as the land of forgotten men. Last Sunday I addressed a meeting of those men, and it may surprise Members to know that they shared my pessimism about the future. They expressed a dread of the future, nothwithstanding their detestation of the war. The Prime Minister recently addressed a meeting of those men. They are entitled to know whether the charge that the Prime Minister is taking a firm stand against the introduction of legislation dealing with post-war reconstruction at this stage, is true or untrue. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary will assure me—so that I can assure those men—that the Prime Minister is not an obstacle to post-war reconstruction. I want to be assured that steps will be taken now to prevent a recurrence of what happened after the last war. In the 12 years from 1926 to mid-1938 Wales and Monmouthshire lost one-seventh of their population. It may be said that I am looking at this question from the point of view of Wales and Monmouthshire. Very well, in the four years from 1934 to 1938 Durham, Tyneside, West Cumberland, and South Wales lost through emigration 122,279 of their population. Exception was taken to an observation by my hon. Friend recently about what the Conservatives have done for us. We do not forget what happened after the last war. We do not forget the setting-up of the May Committee, which was responsible not only for acts in other directions but also for the infamous means test.
§ Mr. Daggar
No, not now. I also want to remind hon. Members that they were 1205 partly responsible for destroying the Labour Government of 1929–1931 simply because that Government raised £120,000,000 in order to pay unemployment insurance benefit. To prevent the return of similar miserable and tragic conditions, some of us desire something more substantial than phrase-coining. There is so much talk about "splendid hearts," "happier world," "pastoral hobbies," "international currency," "gates of opportunity," "green belts," "quick movement," "gaiety and Lake Districts" and "Christian toleration." One thing is required now. One word sums up our attitude, and that is "action." We want an indication of the attitude of the Government towards postwar reconstruction even if it is only to make unnecessary the publication of these Ministerial week-end wobblings. The party to which I belong has made its pronouncement. It has not been withdrawn. It was not prepared by Mr. Geoffrey Faber nor by the Headmaster of St. Paul's. That statement is as follows:There can be no return to the world which existed on September 3rd, 1939…any attempt to restore traditional Britain will deny our power to fulfil the purposes for which we fight and, sooner or later, create all the grave problems of the inter-war years in a more acute and profound form.As I have already said, everybody to-day appears to be planning, but no plans are laid. The Federation of British Industries has issued a memorandum which, by the way, is called "Reconstruction." The essence of that memorandum is summed up in these words:In our opinion the future organisation of industry should be decided by the industrialists, always subject to the over-riding principle that it must be in the national interest.That is called reconstruction. In any event, it deceives no one, and its reactionary outlook tricks very few people. It means the reappearance of depressed areas, of a period during which there will be a greater number of millionaires and an army of 3,000,000 recipients of unemployment benefit and allowances, and it will afford the opportunity to members of the Tory Party in this House to suggest, as was suggested then, that the unemployed should be fed with the spare unconsumed food collected in the London hotels and restaurants. It is a desire to 1206 re-establish the old order of things. I do not claim to speak for the men in the Armed Forces, but from what I know of them they are not fighting for the old system. They are fightng and dying to afford us an opportunity of creating a new order and a new world. I am aware of those people, including Members of this House, who, whenever reference is made to the need for planning the future, tell us, "You must get on with the war. You must finish the war first." These observations are generally made by people who are satisfied with the present order and to whom the existing system is an advantage. They are content with it. To them I recommend the reading of the Report mentioned by the Paymaster-General, namely, the Report of the Committee on Land Utilisation in Rural Areas. In that Report this observation is made:It is our firm belief that a vital incentive to the war effort is the presentation of a-clear picture of a better world which lies ahead and which, if plans are drawn up and the essential preparations made in advance, can be achieved after this struggle is over. To delay planning and the legislation to carry the plans into effect until the time for action is upon us—at the end of the war—we believe to be a fatal error.The right. hon Gentleman the Minister of Production also broadcast what, in my opinion, was a remarkably good speech on 26th April, and "The Times," commenting on that speech in one of its leaders, made this statement:Attention to the needs of the future is no kind of distraction from the effort needed to win the war. It is indeed the exact opposite. The Minister of Production might well have been moved to make his broadcast by the abundant evidence that men and women will have real heart in their work if they are given reason to know that victory will bring with it the prospect of a happier and a more spacious world.This is an effective reply to the advocates of delayed action. Effective planning demands effective control. Effective control is impossible without ownership. The members of the Federation of British Industries, the capital-owning class of this country, who signed that document recently—120 of them—know that these propositions are sound, and some Governments, if not the present one, will have to realise the soundness of these propositions. Whatever is done by the Government, whatever planning is done and whatever proposal is submitted for discussion by this House, you cannot efficiently 1207 plan the property of other people. You must have control. Those who own property now will agree with that. They cannot plan or control property which does not belong to them. It has always failed to solve the problems to which I referred in the miserable period from 1919 to 1939. What I am anxious about is, Are we expected to experience another similar period? If not, we shall require something more substantial than the proposals contained in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Paymaster-General.
I make this observation with complete appreciation of the ex-Lord Privy Seal's advice. For some reason or other he has been given another office, that of the Minister of Aircraft Production. He suggested to the House that the Members who claimed to have Left views in the Government should lag and loiter and that members of the Government—I suppose he included Members of this House who may be described as being on the Right—should hurry and run. We have never considered the right hon. and learned Gentleman a humorist, but these comments are worthy of the pages of "Punch". To imagine that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) or the Chairman of the 1922 Committee should be expected to hurry or to run is too funny for words, even if they are accepted either in a political or physical sense. The ex-Lord Privy Seal should try again.
Personally, I prefer, not his political speeches, but some of the sermons he has recently delivered. The best comment on that advice tendered by the late Lord Privy Seal is to be found in "The People" of last week by a contributor who signs himself "Man o' the People." He stated:Compromise and expediency may have to be studied by a Coalition Government, but they are a sorry pair of mules to harness to any great and noble cause.The task of making preparations for the future is, in my submission, a great cause. I have never claimed to express the feeling in the country. I have never claimed to speak on behalf of people other than those I have the honour to represent, and on behalf of thousands of people such as miners who, after being idle for years, secured employment with improved wages in factories and who have now gone back 1208 to the mines in order to produce the coal which is necessary for the war effort. I say that we desire a new order, a new Britain and a new world. They desire, as I do, a new order free from Nazism, Imperialism, exploitation, want and misery. I want a new order as a monument to the memory of those men and women who have given their lives as a contribution to the fulfilment of the ends victory is to serve.
§ Mr. Summers (Northampton)
Unfortunately I was not able to hear all of the speech made yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), but such of the speech as I did hear struck me as particularly moderate and showing tolerance in its approach to these problems. I welcome that moderation and tolerance, because I shared his views when he urged that we should not postpone until after the war the finding of a solution to many of these difficult questions. It was in very marked contrast to that laudable approach to these matters that we heard to-day from the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who, I am sorry to see, is not in his place. He asked that those who had not the opportunity of hearing the opening of his speech yesterday should look up the OFFICIAL REPORT. Well, if it bore any resemblance to what we heard just now, I feel there is little incentive for any of us to do so. I regard his speech as being both misleading and mischievous, mischievous on this ground—that if he and his associates genuinely believe that we should try to resolve our difficulties together before the end of the war, then it is surely nothing but mischievous to do anything to separate and widen the viewpoint between the different parties in this House. To claim, as he appeared to do, that his associates had a monopoly of constructive ideas for reconstruction is far from the truth and can only lead to that disunity which his original point of view would not find acceptable.
In listening to the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Paymaster-General and overcoming the disappointment which a number of the anti-climaxes produced as he passed from one topic to another, I could not help feeling that he was in a similar position to that of the pilot of a Flying Fortress. He appeared to have such a very wide vision and be so far from the objectives he was looking at 1209 that he found it quite impossible to define in any clear form at all what it is that he sought. If I may ask the House to come a little nearer to earth for a moment, I would like to touch on one or two of the domestic problems with which we shall be faced after the war. Not many months ago, with others, I had the privilege of showing Miss Dorothy Thompson around one of our munition factories in the Midlands, and a very delightful occasion it was. At the end of the day we went to the superintendent's office for a cup of tea, and she asked if she might put one or two questions to him. It was obvious that this was what the superintendent had expected, and he had prepared himself with facts and figures relating to outputs, temperatures, hours and conditions. He was, therefore, all the more staggered when the question she asked was, "What makes workpeople happy?" A number of replies were given on that occasion, and I have put the same question to many other people since. I am satisfied that there is only one really convincing answer, and that is "Security." There are those, I know, who hold the view that if we were so successful in our endeavours to achieve security, we should merely breed complacency, indolence and apathy, but I shall not be so optimistic as to believe that we shall reach the stage when anxiety will be completely removed from the minds of the people of this country. So I myself dismiss as of no account any risk from that point of view.
It surely is right that in any civilised society there should be a level below which an individual shall not be allowed to fall. To a large extent we did attempt to establish a level before the war, but to my mind we left out one very important feature in our policy in that respect. We asked for nothing in return. When a man had exhausted his insurance benefits we gave him something for nothing. I do not believe that the people of this country want something for nothing. They want the opportunity of earning that security to which they believe they are entitled. If the community does undertake to give security to the individual, it is surely only reasonable, and to be expected, that the individual will, in return, make some contribution himself. For that reason, with Members who have spoken earlier, I hope paramount 1210 attention will be paid to the question of employment or the lack of it. I believe the test the public will apply to this or any other Government in resolving our post-war difficulties will be the evidence they can engender in finding a solution of that problem. A former system was that we should insure for the temporary phases of unemployment to which all are subject. There is no doubt that the trade cycles to which this country has been subjected in the past can be materially reduced by less speculation, greater international co-operation and other methods of that kind. But surely, it is misleading to suggest that we shall ever reach a stage of complete stabilisation. After all, there can hardly be any progress if affairs are totally stable. For that reason, I think we must expect a degree of trade fluctuation and must visualise the transfer of our man-power from one industry to another. It is for that purpose that insurance was properly provided, but I believe that that in itself may not suffice. After the war, many of the resources of industry which have been used for war purposes will take some little time to transform to peace purposes, and during that time they will not be capable of offering that employment of which they will ultimately be capable. I foresee during that time the need for some development board, or some such body, which can assist in that temporary change-over period between war production and peace production.
We hear people nowadays speak with pride of the work they are doing as being of national importance. I cannot believe that work of national importance is confined to the period of the war. There will be opportunities for work of national importance as great in peace as in war. To apply the man-power which will become available from the change-over from war conditions, when it is wanted, we must prepare beforehand the projects which we believe it is desirable should then be undertaken. I hope very much that the Government will lose no time in preparing the projects, the locations, the materials and so forth, that will be needed, and the administrative machinery which will be needed to put them into operation at once, without waiting to waste time in deciding how and where work of that character shall be undertaken.
1211 There is another way in which I believe security can be materially improved after the war as compared with before the war. One of the principles of the Essential Work Order is that, save in cases of serious misconduct, a man may not be dismissed, in the industries scheduled, without permission of the National Service Officer; that is to say, his terms of service are no longer from day to day but are the minimum of a week. I know that complaints are frequently made, and with considerable justification, that that system has tended to undermine discipline in industry. I believe it is possible from the experience hitherto gained, it may be with some modification or adaptation, to reconcile the demand for the maintenance of discipline with the benefits of the longer contract of service than one day which we had before the war. For that reason, I hope that that element in our industrial practice of extending to a week the contract of service will find a place in industry after the war.
There is another point about our affairs which I regard as fundamental. There used to be an impression, I think, that the policy governing our distribution of public funds was that, since there appeared to be only a limited amount to go round, various devices were introduced to make quite sure that nobody should receive anything from public funds who could possibly do without it. The effect of that was merely to put a premium on extravagance and to penalise thrift. It is premature to go into the ramifications of the social services, and the effect on our previous policy and the possibilities of the Beveridge Report. I have not attempted to read that Report yet, and I think it will take some considerable time to absorb the real terms and effects of it, and I would not like to pronounce on it in any way at this stage. But this I will say, that however we handle the distribution of public funds in the future, I trust we shall not penalise genuine efforts at self-help to anything like the same extent as we have done hitherto.
In trying to find out ways and means of making life happier and easier for our people, I hope it will not be forgotten that the character of the individual is of infinitely greater importance than the system in which he lives.
§ Mr. Summers
Of course, environment has a bearing on it, but do not let us spend all our time thinking of what shall be the system in which people live; let us pay some attention to the development of the characters of the people who are to live in it and make use of it. For that reason, it seems to me that there are very great opportunities before my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education in helping to build up and strengthen the characters of the young people of this country in the new state of society, whatever it may be, after the war. There will be opportunities for improving physique, for developing self-confidence and self-reliance, opportunities which were not available to any of my right hon. Friend's predecessors. Not only will the circumstances make it an opportunity in itself, but part of the task which he will have to carry out will be materially assisted by the premises which have been built during the war. There will be large houses which cannot be maintained by their former owners. There will be hostels built for war purposes, unsuitable for domestic dwellings but highly suitable for some modification or addition to the normal process of education. I visualise wonderful opportunities for schools in some of our industrial towns to go to live in hostels in the countryside and become for a short part of the year boarding schools instead of day schools. There will be opportunities for courses to which boys in industry might be sent, courses which would improve their stamina and physique, opportunities for learning seamanship, and a host of other opportunities which should be added on to the normal educational curriculum and which the conditions after the war would seem to make so much easier than at any other time.
There is only one other thing I want to say. It is this. The changes in the news during the last month, the fact that success has replaced disaster and disappointment, that the Army is coming into its own, and so forth, have all brought out added confidence in the people of the country. This has not prompted them to slacken their efforts in any way, and I do not believe the possible expectation of a near ending of the war has been the result of the changes we have experienced. But it has done this; it has prompted people to pay far greater attention to post-war problems than they ever did 1213 before, to a degree greater probably than any planner, however glamorous, could have expected or wanted them to do. For that reason I hope we shall not wait until the fighting is finished before deciding how we shall solve these problems. Many of them are the old problems which will recur again, but there will be problems which we cannot foresee. It is, to my mind, all the more necessary that we should deal with those problems the conditions of which we can foresee now, as there are so many coming afterwards which we cannot foresee. There is little enough time, and I hope the Government will realise the sense of urgency which exists in the country and will show that they are prepared to play their part in appreciating it.
§ Mr. MacLaren (Burslem)
I enter this Debate with some feeling of temerity because of the background of the situation facing us and because of the present need for something to be said with regard to the immediate future. I want, first of all, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) on his speech. It was clear and direct. One stands almost aghast before the present and the immediate future. What is the background? A war in the process of the decimation of mankind, mankind in the process of assassination and suicide, a world in which the accomplishments of science are being rolled in the dust and the acquirements of education reduced to the level of the beasts.
May I be forgiven this personal statement? How often did I say this would happen? How often did I warn the House, when it was pursuing certain political actions, that the ultimate result would be what has happened? I do not want to continue on the line of saying, "I told you so," but it is necessary now, when men are facing what may happen when the war ends, to remind them of that fact. If history has any meaning or any purpose at all, it is to point the moral and advise how we should act in the future. How well do I remember the last war and the period immediately afterwards. I lived in the atmosphere of it. When it seemed there was a chance of the war ending someone said, "Let us have reconstruction committees." The fecundity of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd 1214 George) is amazing. When it comes to political expediency he is there. So he set up his committees. They also collected evidence and made recommendations. Where are those reports now? Go into the Library, and you will see a shelf rather bent under the weight of them. That is where they landed, and they have not been removed since.
We have had a rather interesting speech from the hon. Member for East Wolver-hampton (Mr. Mander), who gave us a new version of what he called Liberalism. It rather sent my mind spinning back to those days of what was called pure Liberalism. He tells us that Liberalism means trade boards, inspectors and committees of inquiry. This is a new version of Liberalism. I never heard of it before, but I remember when it started, in 1906, when there was to be an inquiry into this canker called unemployment—this thing that stultifies the so-called economists and creeps across this floor like a shadow intimidating Governments. What were we to do about it? What did we do in 1906? We appointed a committee of inquiry. Who do you think was the leading light in that committee of inquiry? [An HON. MEMBER: "Sir William Beveridge."] What did Sir William Beveridge propose in those days? He thought that the working man was often out of a job because he did not know where to go to find one, and therefore he suggested employment exchanges. Then Sir William Beveridge came face to face with the issue which seems to worry the hon. Member who has just spoken, this problem of "recurring cycles" of depression in trade. Sir William Beveridge and many other economists cannot understand what is the cause of it. The hon. Member himself seemed to accept it as something inevitable, something that God does be- cause we are not watching. He depresses trade now and then in a regular cycle of something like seven to 10 years. So Sir William Beveridge said, "I cannot explain this phenomenon, but I must get over it somehow, so I suggest a tripartite contribution—the State, the worker, and the employer—and when we get a fund together, there will be a sort of rope bridge to carry the worker over depressed periods until trade is rising again." So he invented unemployment insurance. That was the beginning of what I call Fabianism and the strangulation of the Liberal political system for ever.
1215 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, who knows as much about economics as they know about him, fell into the company of Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, another gentleman who writes books on poverty. I love these gentlemen who write vast tomes on poverty and unemployment, often they are professors in that incubation of nonsense called the London School of Economics. Mr. Seebohm Rowntree took the right hon. Gentleman on a trip to Germany, and, when he came back, he launched his scheme of unemployment insurance. I shall never forget that period.
There was in this House, the last great Prime Minister of this country, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. He said, "The way to resolve unemployment is to make the land of England less the pleasure ground of the rich and more the storehouse of the people." He declared that Liberalism was the philosophy which would remove the causes of unemployment and destroy the necessity for bureaucratic administration. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs went to Germany. What has it meant? It has meant millions of pounds for building employment exchanges and a vast army of officials ferreting about to see if you are working or not. Then there was an inquisitorial inquiry as to whether a man was getting more than he should. Think of this country now, with its vast bureaucratic institutions, employment exchanges and labour officers, yet with unemployment still continuing. The disease is still there, in spite of this vast instrument of bureaucracy, all created by the very gentleman whom the Government are calling in now to help them out of the mess.
That was the beginning of the destruction of the liberty of the individual, because it was as clear as noonday that once that step was taken, the upas tree of bureaucracy was bound to grow and expand. I would not mind having an army of civil servants with all its equipment if the disease were destroyed as a result. Oh, that I could get men to see the futility of this process! Millions of pounds are spent in patching economic diseases and leaving the root causes alone. I have already said in the House, quoting Lord Macaulay, that if the law of gravitation had challenged the vested interests, there would have been no England to-day. So when we come to the economic causes 1216 of our troubles—slums, hunger, want, bad education and low wages—when we come to deal with these problems, notice the temerity that suddenly floats across the House.
I have a great regard for my right hon. and learned Friend the Paymaster-General, but when in his speech yesterday he came to anything that was likely to be challenged by somebody in the House, he indicated that the matter would be dropped for the moment. We will not talk about the value of landed interests, he said, because that is a contested point, and we will drop it for the moment. He said also that he would drop the question of the value of development rights. I would advise him to leave it alone altogether, because there was never a more ghastly proposition. There are no such things as development rights. No one can define them, and if that is so, how can they be valued?
Notice the temerity there is when it comes to grasping the real problems. "The Times," in two remarkable leading articles yesterday and the day before, noted the tenderness and nervousness there were when it came to grasping the root causes of our troubles. The men who are on the seas and in the battlefields of the various fronts, every man, woman and child in this country, conscripted and dictated to by the will of the State, are serving in a common action, for what? To defend this country. I want to ask Members a question in all seriousness, as humbly as I can, and in the name of God. Are you now going to ask these men that come back from the bloody battlefields, broken, shattered, or at least with an experience they would have been better without; are you going to ask the women to come from the factories after being divorced from the quiet domestic atmosphere of their homes; are you going to ask the common people of England to come back from this enterprise, having accomplished the defeat of those who would have taken this land, to crawl through it as mere tenants, as tributory to the owners of the land? That is a challenge that I throw to the Government.
We hear talk about a new world, about replanning and about new Ministries. I defy the Government to do anything to replan, to rehouse or to reconstruct the social conditions of this State as long as land is held as private property. There 1217 has been enough cant and humbug about what we are going to do. There is nothing more vile, nothing more contemptible, than to tell men, "You gave us your bodies and your minds so as to defend the country against the common danger," and, when you have got them, and when you have decimated the homes of the people and the bodies of our men are lying in foreign graves, you say, "We had to make these promises during the war, but it becomes contentious when we try to fulfil them." Is there to be a repetition of what happened after the last war when they came home and traversed the streets? I remember one evening having the honour of taking some foreign visitors into the National Gallery to show them one of the finest collections of works of art under one roof. When we came outside we saw a body of Welsh miners singing hymns in the street. What a contrast! After all, this is the centre of Britain, this is London, and I had to tell my foreign friends the reason for this display of poverty in centre of apparent wealth.
After the war was over last time all sorts of promises were made. There was the ghastly performance at Versailles. There was the League of Nations—I have often sat quiet in this House and been amazed by some of the pronouncements I have heard made about the League of Nations—a league of mockery, a thing built on sand, without any foundations. Whenever I attended the League of Nations all I could see was a lot of gentlemen watching one another to see that they did not run away with something.—We had the economic depression, unemployment increasing and the mysterious thing called a trade cycle beginning to play its part, and then, as if the devil came into the tragedy to make it a little worse, what did Parliament do? I am sorry I have to say this to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they, who started the tariff policy in 1931, are as much responsible for this war as are some of the German rulers. Why did they adopt this policy? Because they thought that by keeping out foreign goods they would help the home market and give the unemployed jobs at home. Are men so blind that they cannot see that for every tariff they create, they must support it with military force? The Government launched this tariff proposal in 1931 by the most dishonest method, for they had 1218 got no mandate from the country. They unhorsed the Labour party with a lie. They imposed on the country a tariff policy, and they still sit as the dominant party of this Government, although there is not a man of them who is not ashamed of what happened. Is it not self-evident that they plunged the country into a tariff reform policy without the appropriate accompaniment of a well-equipped, powerful military machine? Once you enter into tariffs you have to support them with guns. May I again quote Cobden, who said that tariffs were the breeding ground for bayonets and that with the development of tariffs the most deadly wars known to man must follow. Hon. Members opposite resorted to this tariff device, I am not blaming them in a sense. They went into it light-heartedly. They went to Ottawa. They were going to make the Empire a closed shop against the traders of the earth, and in doing so they sowed seeds of deadly hate and poison in Europe and in America. Are they going to repeat those follies again? I can hear men saying in this House, "We won't do this, that and the other; we know much better." But do they?
What is this latest pronouncement of the Federation of British Industries? What is this new line-up which seems to be appearing on the horizon? I do not like to see trade union leaders coquetting too much with the F.B.I:, and I say to the leaders of labour, "Get out of that association." There are two ways this country can go: it can go the road towards liberty by destroying the causes of economic injustice in the State, or it can go the way of pursuing the policy of palliatives and political expedients, developing more bureaucracy, substituting bureaucratic marvels for social justice. But when we go along that road, and perhaps it is what we are doing, let us have a care lest in accepting too much State help towards securing social justice we sell our birthright to liberty and our birthright to economic justice. I do not like the new line-up which I see, and I want to denounce it from the Floor of this House. If there is to be any line-up in the shape of a consorting between the leaders of working groups in this country and vested capital interests under the guise of stabilising prices or stabilising this, that and the other, I say I would rather a thousand times that this country could boast of no wealth, no so-called economic 1219 stabilisation, but have men in it who were free to create their own destiny, free to live their own lives—all that in preference to being mere well fed digits in a vast bureaucratic structure. It has been said that in Germany you can be born in a State maternity home, can be transferred to a State nursery, then go to a State school, then join the State army, retire in the end on State pay and finally be buried in a State graveyard, but that at no time of your life have you been in a state of liberty.
I will finish with one or two words as to the part of the pantomine facing this country now. When men come to Parliament and do not know how to solve economic problems, when they do not know the simple elements of economics, when they philander with economic problems not knowing how to deal with them, what do they do? They appoint a commission and get a report.
I am very pleased that at last it has been driven into the minds of the people of this House and of all political parties that the land question is at the bottom of every other question. How often have I been jeered at as a sort of land crank, even by my colleagues here, but I forgave them, because "they know not what they do." At last it has come home even to those who laughed, that man is a land animal and that the bottom question is the land question. So what was to be done about it? They appointed the Uthwatt Committee and it has produced a Report. I will deal with that on another occasion. I have read it from cover to cover over and over again, and my marginal notes are not merely graphic and artistic but very interesting. The Uthwatt Report is almost characteristic of the English people. It has been said that the English are very largely what are called "Bird's custard politicians "; they want custards without breaking eggs. The Uthwatt Committee are just like that. Here is a powerful interest, private land monopoly. The Committee say, "We will not be un-gentlemanly enough to challenge it, but we will make something called developments right valuation and buy it out—we do not know what it is or what it will cost—and after we have bought from the landowners the development rights we will come along to buy them off the land. We do not know either what that will cost, we will not even make a target figure; it might be contentious anyhow."
1220 Over on the other side of the river we have a vast pigeon box. If you look at it from here that is what it looks like, a place where they keep pigeons. It is the Department of Works and Planning—I was going to say "works and racketeers." There you have a hierarchy of gentlemen who are supposed to deal with building and planning and all the rest of it. Within their terms of reference they cannot deal with three main causes of bad buildings and slums. We are told that the Report of the Uthwatt Committee is essential for the full expansion which is projected in the new planning of works and buildings under that new Ministry. So much for that. Then we had the Scott Report; and yesterday we had landed on us another Report. I have been counting the pages in those Reports, and I have discovered that a Member of the House is supposed to be the master of 1001 pages of closely-printed matter, highly technical, as a result of the deliberations of these bodies. The three leading Reports are, of course, those of Beveridge, Uthwatt and Scott—faith, hope and charity—Freeman, Hardy and Willis—Frank, Knight and Rutley! In not one of those Reports is there a solution of the problems that are immediately obsessing this House and are making every man and women apprehensive of what is to happen after this war, namely, social injustice? I notice in the Press that they call this Beveridge Report a British revolution. "British," you will notice. I opened this revolutionary document on page 151 this morning. What did I notice in the British revolution? That it proposes £4 for a maternity and £20 for a funeral. That is the British revolution.
This document of Beveridge's; is it set out with a view to the Government's accepting it? I do not want to be misunderstood on this point, so let me put it clearly, in case I may be misunderstood. The man or woman who is incapacitated by misfortune or by the process of his employment, the child who is left without a guardian, or the person who has fallen upon evil days and cannot stagger back to his feet, should not be offered charity. It is the State's duty to look after them. I ask this House and any thinking man, Why should we invent schemes of State charity for a normal man and woman, who should be able to make their own living if left alone and free to use natural 1221 opportunities? That is the anomaly of modern society.
Let me say a word to two about the Uthwatt Report before I leave this subject. Who is going to tell the soldiers when they come back from the war that they will have to wait 10 years before they can get on to the land to use it? That is what is implied. I was told by a very important member of the Government in a private conversation, so I will not mention his name, that when the war is over, the land of this country will, to all intents and purposes, become the property of the State, and whatever payment will be made to the present owners afterwards will be subject to the will of Parliament. That may be very novel practice, but let me make one comment. I, for one, and there may be many more in this House, am determined that, when the war shows signs of ending, this Parliament, with all its power behind it, shall take more courage into its hands than is evidenced now and that the land of this country shall, by declaration of this House, be made the property of the State. There shall not be any private interests or private body to stand between willing hands and the natural opportunities within this country for employment. There shall no longer be the slums and the foetid dens called cities. There is enough work in this country for the next 100 years in rebuilding and making more beautiful the cities of this country, but that cannot be done until we have removed this basic block which stands in the way.
Last, but not least, perhaps it is not altogether inappropriate that I should say that every one of us in this House must have a new spiritual outlook. It is not enough to talk of working men and of employers, as if God had created man to be nothing more nor less than creatures engaged in some eternal factory process. Behind the eye of every human being you gaze at there is a human soul. It is to save the soul of man that we fight for economic justice; to liberate man from the mere necessity of physical requirements so that his soul can rise to higher planes. Surely that is why the Labour Party came to this House. We mean this. It is what I regard as the real objective. When these people of ours are loosened from the bonds of military control, they will not wait for five, six, seven or ten years while this House, in its grand way, 1222 marches along towards some kind of mitigation. It is therefore essential that this House should give heartening to the people, give them some hope that there is within this House a body of men and women who will not be parried off by bureaucratic devices or grandiloquent phrases, but will go back to the simple basis of social justice and to the rights of human beings to live, which implies the rights of all men to the free use of air, sunshine, wafer and land. That is the simple basis, that conveys within it the crystallised embodiment of all that is meant by the struggle for social justice. Let us not be easily trapped into these schemes that are put in front of us, because we may be ensnared into economic slavery in the guise of being well fed and well housed. The men who are now in the vortex of conflict beyond this House are fighting for liberty; let it not be said that the politicians were unworthy of the great sacrifices of those noble fellows and were selling their liberty and substituting for that liberty State control.
§ Sir George Schuster (Walsall)
I should like to echo the closing words of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) in his appreciation of the value of liberty. I could not help reflecting while he was speaking that he was giving a fair demonstration of the measure of liberty enjoyed in this country. The hon. Member himself will agree that he has exercised that freedom to-day, and he appeared to be enjoying it. I wish I could share his faith—we all must have faith in these days—his clear and simple faith, that one remedy would be sufficient to put everything right.
§ Mr. MacLaren
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. I do not say, and I never have said, that merely taking control of the land will solve the economic problems, but I say that you have to do that first before you do anything.
§ Sir G. Schuster
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman, but at any rate he does see the hope of opening a fairly easy way by one remedy. But I feel that we are now in a more difficult and complex situation than that. I should like to come back to the speech made by the Paymaster-General yesterday and to congratulate him on his wide survey. At the same time, I am sure he will not take it amiss if I say that I found in the picture as he painted 1223 it elements which caused me a certain amount of concern. As I reflected on the wide range of subjects which he covered, I wondered where was the organisation to handle those matters effectively in a concerted programme. I want to say a word or two on that point and also to take up one other phrase from his speech, where he spoke of the restrictions on policy of "financial limitations." I would put it to my right hon. Friend that finance, financial resources or financial limitations, really are no more than the secondary symptoms of primary underlying factors, that it is to the primary underlying realities we must turn our attention, and that what we can attempt to do in this country will depend upon what we can produce in this country. Effective production is the key to all that we can do, and when I speak of effective production I include in that, of course, the production of goods which we shall be able to sell overseas in order to pay for the essential imports we must bring in. Production is the key, if we are to advance at all in material standards, and we ought to be preparing in these days for the future. It is to those matters we must address ourselves.
If we face the realities of the future, I think one can see four main considerations, or needs, or factors in the situation to which we should devote our attention. In the first place, there is the need, which has already been stressed in many speeches, for concerting measures of international economic co-operation which will have the effect of raising standards of living in the world, and thus create opportunities for full production, and which will further be a basis for international trade, so that each country may produce those things which it is most suited to produce. I do not wish to speak at length on that topic—all important though it is. I only want to say two things. First of all, I should like to echo the sentiments of one speaker who said that the foundations for these international exchanges must be sought on the position of the primary producer. If he can be made prosperous by finding full outlets for his produce, then we can have a sure foundation on which to build world prosperity.
Secondly, the key to any international economic collaboration must, as we all agree, lie in collaboration between the British Commonwealth and the United 1224 States. I want to plead that we should go as far as possible in achieving that collaboration now while we are brought together in the face of the common emergency in war. There are many things that we can do to-day in this spirit of unity which, if we leave them to the future, when domestic political considerations hamper statesmen in their actions, may lead us not to collaboration but possibly to something like head-on collision.
I turn from that to my second point. International economic collaboration can aid the raising of standards of living, which must be the foundation for any progressive policy, but it would be very unwise for us to pin all our faith on that. Whatever can be done in the way of measures of that kind, we have to face the fact that we shall be operating in very difficult circumstances after the war, and we have to put our own house in order. We cannot even take our proper part in international economic collaboration unless we are ourselves fully efficient. If we face the future, it is no use disguising the fact that we shall be faced with many difficulties. Many of our old export markets will be gone for ever; we shall have lost a great part of the income from our foreign investments; and we shall have lost too a great part of our invisible exports in shipping freights. Beyond this we shall be confronted with new demands at home. If we are to preserve that security—without which, as my right hon. and learned Friend so wisely pointed put, all plans for the future will become a mockery—we shall have to spend and devote a greater part of the produce of this country to making ourselves strong to keep the peace of the world than we did between the two wars. We shall have to face much more generous social policies at home and, I hope, much higher standards of remuneration of all who are working in industry. We can meet all these things—but only in one way, that is, by producing more. Producing more means efficiency, efficiency in management, efficient use of scientific processes.
It means another thing, too, and that brings me to the third of the needs which I foresee. Effective production will not be possible in this country unless we have harmony in industry, and that means a new spirit of co-operation between management and workers, a new appreciation 1225 of the human factor in industry, more equality of opportunity for advancement, the breaking down of class distinctions, and giving to all workers something that may be described as a soul-satisfying activity. I listened with interest to the hon. Member behind who spoke earlier when he gave as the answer to a question as to what makes workers happy, the single word 'Security." I cannot accept that answer. If he had turned the question round, if he had asked what single factor has done most to make workers unhappy in the past, and if to that the answer had been given as "Insecurity," then I might have agreed. But let us not be satisfied in this country with a mere doctrine of "Safety first." Let us try to offer the people of this country something better than mere security. That is a notion which somehow or other has to be got into the handling of all the relations between those who direct and manage industries—whoever owns them—and those who work in them.
The last of the four factors I have in mind is this: If we look forward to the future and the conditions in which our economic policy will have to be carried on, I think it is perfectly obvious there will have to be a closer link-up between Government direction and the working of industry than there has been in the past. That may be queried on both sides. People on this side may say, "Why should the Government interfere any more than before? We do not like too much planning." I cannot, in the brief time available, go into the matter at great length; but I think it is worth while just to mention one or two reasons why it is inevitable that the Government must take a greater part in directing and controlling the economic life than in the past. In the first place, as I have already said, the foundation for our own policy in this country must rest very largely on some form of international economic collaboration. This, of course, is a field of policy in which governments must play the main part.
Let me take a second reason. It would be folly to ignore the fact that insecurity of employment—the memory of mass-unemployment—represents the biggest single psychological factor in the minds of the workers of this country. I venture to prophesy that no Government, whether 1226 of the Right or Left, would dare to face anything like the last economic slump in this country, with its accompanying mass-unemployment, without having a plan to deal with it. If you wait until the slump has occurred, you are too late. You must be ready with your plans beforehand. This, then, is another reason why I think it will be inevitable that Governments of the future will somehow or other have to keep a hand on the control levers of economic life ready to stimulate activities in certain directions and damp them down in others.
Let me take another factor. I think there will be a very strong feeling in this country against anything in the way of great disparity between the earnings in different industries. That may be difficult to prevent. In certain industries, with new processes and new plant, there may be opportunities for much higher standards of wages than will be possible in the very necessary, but not so profitable, ancient industries which employ millions, like the railways, coalmining, or agriculture. That may mean a demand for subsidies on wages in those industries. Again, it is clear even from what has been said in this House in this Debate that there will be a strong feeling in favour of something like a balanced economy in this country. It will clearly not be tolerated that agriculture shall fall into a position such as it has held between the two wars. It will be felt too that there are certain industries which we must keep up to a certain level. Considerations of this kind will inevitably mean demands for assistance of some kind or other—subsidies or protective duties—at the public expense. I trust, and indeed I am sure, that the public will insist that such assistance shall not be given to bolster up inefficiency. That brings one up against a very difficult question. How is the State to check efficiency in a particular industry, and what sanctions is it to apply if it finds that an industry is inefficient?
All these questions open up lines along which it is quite clear the Government will have to have much closer contact with and understanding of industry. The Government will, in fact, have to get much more closely into gear with industry than it has done in the past. I realise of course that here one gets into the field of possible political controversy. Hon. Members opposite may say that the only way is to have State ownership. I do 1227 not want to argue that issue to-day. All I want to say is that the mere change to State ownership will not satisfy any of the needs that I have been suggesting. The mere change to State ownership will not affect those closer human relationships for which I have pleaded. It will not bring that efficiency which I claim to be so necessary. Nor will it alone solve the difficult problem of the machinery for providing the contact between the central authority of Government and the thousands of factories and businesses spread about the country, which must remain in all their complexity whoever owns them. Therefore, it is of very great importance that we should devote attention now to considering how this link-up is to be brought about. That is the chief point I want to make to-day.
I could say a good deal on what should be done on the industrial side for that purpose. I have indeed pressed publicly on several occasions that industries should organise themselves into groups, so that the Government could have a manageable number of points of contact. Since I suggested this idea a pamphlet has recently appeared supported by a number of leading industrialists which advocates something which is in many respects on the same lines, and I should like to make clear what seem to me the dangers of the proposals in that pamphlet. That pamphlet seems to me to suggest that the councils of industrial associations should have the power to control whole groups of industries and to say that this or that is uneconomic competition and that this or the other is not. To have power of that kind vested in any private industrial organisation is extremely dangerous. Power of that kind can rest safely only with the Government and with Parliament. The groups which I have in mind would be formed not for the protection of sectional interests, but merely to be integrated units through which the Government could give directions to classes of industries, and which could perform the task of working out the detailed execution of those directions.
I myself think, incidentally, that the problem of war production could have been more effectively tackled if we had advanced further in the direction of this type of organisation. I believe that with more decentralisation on those lines we could have a much more effective war effort. The war is not yet over: there 1228 is still time to work out an improved organisation on these lines—which will be valuable therefore not only for war but for peace thereafter. I suggest that this question of industrial organisation and the means of transferring direction from the Government to the whole complex mass of industry while avoiding rigid control at every point, is one of the most important practical questions that have to be faced.
It has another side to it—that is, the Government side. If the Government are to perform a role of this kind, it is absolutely clear that we need a new type of civil servant, or Government official. I have the greatest admiration for the existing civil servants, and we shall still want them, but if the Government are to take an active part in the economic activity of the country we need to develop a new career—a career of what might be called "industrial statesmanship." It is becoming more and more evident that we need men of this kind. The need was already becoming apparent in the years before the war. We had great organisations on the side of industry which did provide places for men of that kind. The Iron and Steel Federation, for example, was one, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply will not take it amiss if I put him forward as an illustration of the type of individual and the type of career that I have in mind. But he was on the industrial side. We must have men of that calibre and of that experience on the Government side, men who can talk the same language as industrialists, who know what industrial processes mean and what trade means, and yet stand in a position to see the tasks and problems from the point of view of the Government as representing the whole community. In that way we shall discover what is really needed—getting the organising power of Government geared in with the driving force of free individual enterprise.
That, I submit, leads up to one of the most important practical problems that we have to face. I should be very glad to develop it at great length, but many other hon. Members want to speak, and one must be short. I share with the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) his passionate desire for liberty, but somehow or other we have to devise some machinery which, while preserving scope 1229 for flexibility and individual freedom, yet produces a co-ordinated national activity. That is the great problem before the world to-day. It is a matter of desperate importance. There is the very real danger, to which several hon. Members have referred, that in making ourselves strong to defeat Hitler and to guard against the rise of Hitlers in the future, we may sacrifice the very things for which we are fighting. A great responsibility rests on us, because I believe we, in this country, are more likely to solve that problem than other peoples. Perhaps that is because we have a dislike of ambitious planning, or because we are modest and therefore not very likely to trust any of our fellow Englishmen to be wise enough to plan all our affairs for us, or it may be only because we are likely to rely on our national tendency for muddling along. Our task is to ensure that these tendencies do not leave us unorganised to meet the problems that must inevitably be faced. And for that, my submission is that we need not rigid control or exact blue print plans for a future which—except for problems like immediate demobilisation—we cannot exactly foresee, but rather a form of organisation, and, I would add, a generous spirit of co-operation for common purposes, which together will make us fit to deal with any problem and any situation that may arise.
§ Mr. W. Joseph Stewart (Houghton-le-Spring)
I wish to intervene for a short time in this most important and interesting Debate. I do not think that this House could debate a more important question (than that of post-war reconstruction. During these last few months we have heard from platform and from pulpit, from the Primate and from the Prime Minister, that when this war is finished, when we reach the post-war period, we are going to build a new and a better Britain. Taking into consideration what happened after the last war, one really wonders whether, when this business is through, we will honour that pledge which we have made to the great masses of our people. We have many memories—not very happy memories—of what happened from 1918 to 1938, with long-term unemployment, the breaking-up of homes and the apathy of the Government in dealing with questions 1230 that were of vital importance to our people. In my own county we had to face a very difficult situation so far as long-term unemployment was concerned for a number of years. In Durham, during the 20 years that followed the close of the last war, we paid £5,063,000 in unemployment benefit and allowances, plus £26,000 which was paid from local rates to meet the requirements of our people. The money which had to be spent was equal to £5 per head of the population of the administrative county, and from 1932 to 1938 we had to transfer over 50,000 people from Durham who found it impossible to find employment, and of that number 15,000 were our boys and girls. In 1939, in that same county, we had unemployed persons registering at the employment exchanges to the number of 87,664, of whom 26,000 had not worked for over a year, and over 6,000 of them had been unemployed for over five and six years. When we listen in this House to the schemes that are put forward to deal with new situations that may arise after the close of the present war we wonder really whether in Durham and in other areas we shall be faced with a situation something similar to that which faced us during the 20 years after the previous war.
There is another factor to be taken into consideration, that if the war had not happened, and if essential industries had not been got under way, even in that county to-day we would have been faced with the large unemployment figure approximating, as I have said, to 88,000 persons. I would like to know what schemes the Government have in order to help large industrial counties to meet the post-war situation. In Durham since 1918, 78,000 people have gone out of the mining industry. I wonder whether the Government would find it possible to take a survey of the mining measures in Durham with a view to opening up collieries that are now termed redundant. In the Forces to-day there are many thousands of miners recruited from our mines, and unless something is done along the lines I have mentioned, in all probability when demobilisation, takes place many thousands of these men and boys will not be able to enter their industry again. It has been mentioned in this House time and again that in one particular 1231 district in the Durham coalfield 14,000,000 tons of coal lie submerged, and that no effort has been made to get that coal in the interests of the nation.
Is it the Government's intention to keep the factories which are now engaged on war work in production at the end of the war, or is it their intention to let them become derelict? I suggest that the Government might extend the Team Valley Trading Estate in County Durham and set up trading sites in the urban areas of Boldon and Houghton-le-Spring and also extend the existing trading sites of St. Helen's and Pallion. Can anything be done to lift the ban that was imposed by National Shipbuilding Securities Ltd. upon Jarrow, so as to make it possible for that shipyard, which turned out some of the finest ships in the world, to be brought into production again? If something is not done on those lines and efforts are not made by the Government to open avenues to absorb the unemployed when the war is over, Durham County will be faced with a situation that will be infinitely worse than anything that happened after the last war. Then there is the question of the Jarrow Slake and its possibilities. Can anything be done to make it possible for large graving docks to be built at the Jarrow slips? There should be a determined effort on the part of the Government to extend the existing trading estate, to build additional trading sites and to lift the shipbuilding ban on Jarrow. If that were done, it would go a long way towards meeting the problem that will be facing us after the war.
In Durham there are large deposits of clay that could be exploited if the Government were so willed. Travelling between my home and this House, I see that certain brick manufacturers are piling up millions of bricks ready to meet the postwar situation. Can anything be done, other than transporting those bricks long distances, to make them available in our own areas in order to meet the large-scale building which is bound to take place? I leave these thoughts with the Government. I sincerely hope that the survey of the mining industry in Durham which I have suggested will be carried out and that industries will be introduced into Durham that will help to meet the postwar situation and so prevent the long-term unemployment which we had to meet for many years after the last war.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. Joseph Stewart) has made a number of practical suggestions to the Government such as are not always made in these Debates, and which I feel sure will receive the attention that they deserve. I have always held the view that, when the intentions of a Government or an individual are fundamentally good, they or he should be strongly supported when going through difficult times; and, therefore, I am glad that I was able to support the Government, both by voice and vote, in the Debate on the No Confidence Motion of last July. It is when Governments and individuals are on the crest of the wave and not when they are ploughing heavy seas that criticism is good for their souls, and nobody can deny that the Government and the Prime Minister are on the crest of the wave to-day.
I was very glad indeed that the Prime Minister struck a note of caution in his broadcast speech last Sunday, because I think we have been a little bit inclined to think that it is all over bar the shouting. Hitler occupies to-day a position stronger in many respects than that occupied by the Kaiser during the last war. He is in possession of the resources of the whole of Metropolitan Europe, and a large part of Russia, and has the advantage of operating on interior lines of communication with a unified High Command. So far as we know, Germany is nowhere near starvation. And although Hitler is feared and hated by the millions of people he has enslaved, he is accustomed to that, and I do not suppose it troubles him very much Because the whole fabric of the Central Powers collapsed with incredible suddenness in the autumn of 1918, many of us are apt to think that that will happen again. It may do so; but we should be unwise to count upon it. There may be a hard core of resistance in Germany. These men are desperate. They have everything to lose, including their lives, if they do not win this struggle.
When you are attacked by a brutal assailant that is not the moment to embark upon a discussion about the ethics and the purpose of life. You must first of all get his fingers off your throat; and the fact that we have succeeded in doing so against what seemed at one time almost overwhelming odds constitutes the Prime 1233 Minister's most imperishable claim to fame.
The swing-over from the defensive to the offensive makes a decisive change in the strategy, military and political, of the war. The other day "The Times" truly remarked:As the fortunes of war advance there is a smaller contradiction than ever between the military and social effort.Peace is inded a meaningless term apart from its content and purpose. What sort of world are we fighting for? That is the question which is being increasingly asked to-day. The Atlantic Charter sketches the broad outlines but it is a negative document. The positive aspects of peace have still to be defined. It seems to me that in this Debate one of the most interesting speeches was that delivered by my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson). It had a transparent sincerity, and it was so obviously the product of deep thought and of convictions not easily arrived at, that it touched a chord in all of those who were fortunate enough to hear it. Like his friend Lord Baldwin the hon. Member has a strain of mysticism in his composition. But the danger with mystics in our mundane affairs is that so often the visions they see lose touch with reality. I remember soon after I came into this House listening to the then Mr. Baldwin making one of his most famous speeches—on the Trades Disputes Bill. He painted a moving picture of industry, not as it was, or as it ever had been, but as he would have liked it to be. It was a wonderful picture of industry in which everyone knew the boss by his Christian name, where old gentlemen sat around on wheelbarrows smoking pipes, and where nobody ever got the sack. It was an idyll; but at me same time it was an illusion. That kind of industry never existed and certainly does not exist to-day.
The drive towards collectivism is the most remarkable feature of our era, and nothing can stop it. In one form or another it has got to come. The firm of Baldwin's itself is to-day the very centre of one of the greatest steel combines in the world. And so it will go on. Of course, the hon. Member for Mossley was quite right to point to the danger of the great monopolists of big business and of the trade unions getting together. The danger 1234 lies not so much in the fact that, obviously, they are going to get together. But for what purpose are they going to use their great power? Is it—and it is a question that has re-echoed through this Debate—to exploit the consumer and drive the small man to the wall? If that be the case, there is only one institution in this country powerful enough to stand up against them, and it is the House of Commons. Nothing else can do it. We shall have to do it. We are not, after all, fighting this war to make the country safe for Imperial Chemical Industries.
The question arises, What are we fighting for? The hon. Member for Mossley quoted Plato as an argument against planning, and that astonished me a little, because Plato was the first and greatest planner of all time. Nobody ever planned so completely as he did. In the last half century the world has been telescoped by scientific invention, and competitive capitalism has given way, very largely, to monopoly capitalism. The future lies neither with governments, nor with bureaucracies nor with private enterprise by themselves, but with a synthesis of all three. As one of my hon. Friends has pointed out, those of us who believe that to be the case find it increasingly difficult, as time goes on, to adjust ourselves to the political tenets of any of the major political parties in this country. The fact that we find it so difficult does not mean that we are not right. One thing alone is certain. Planning of some kind there will have to be, because the alternative is chaos. The question simply is: who is to do the planning, and with what object?
But it was the conclusion of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Mossley that I found most interesting of all, because in the final analysis it, seemed to me a conclusion of despair. For the sadistic physical superman of Nietzsche who conquers the world, my hon. Friend would substitute a masochistic spiritual superman who turns his back on it, and, in my hon. Friend's own words, "goes forward ultimately to crucifixion." I do not think that that can be the main object set in front of this country to-day. But it is necessary to face up to this issue, because it is a fundamental issue, and it is literally the issue of life or death. It was the philosopher Schopenhauer who said that to deny the will-to-live was the only radical cure for the disease of life; 1235 but a greater man, Goethe, said that the secret of life is living. I am on the side of Goethe. If one believes, as the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) does, that it is the personality of the individual that gives value to life, then one must believe that the supreme object of politicians is to create conditions in which human beings can develop their individual personalities, or, if the hon. Member for Burslem likes, their souls. To imprison the human spirit is the unpardonable sin. That is what is being done in Germany.
Fortunately, the business of this House is with this world, and not with the next. Our job is not to make people good, but to allow them to live; and we have not been very successful during the last 20 years. The positive achievement of humanity is staggering; but it has not all been done by saints and ascetics. The vagabonds and ragamuffins have had a hand in it, too, and it should be counted unto them for righteousness. I have always had a sneaking sympathy with the man who said that he would not mind going to heaven if he could ask a few chaps up from hell to dine once a week.
The hon. Member for Mossley was very scathing about the concern of the leaders of the Church for material things. It is true that man cannot live by bread alone, but it is equally certain that he cannot live without it. What do the young men who are now fighting and winning this war for us want when they get back? That, surely, is a question that many of us ought to put to ourselves very often. The hon. Member for Mossley has had much contact with these young men, and I myself had the good fortune to live in their company for some months. I venture to suggest to the House that what they want is quite simple, but fundamental. The first thing they want when they come back is work to do, jobs. They want to be wanted. They do not want to feel, as so many of them were made to feel before the war, that really it would not much matter if they were dead for all the use they were being. They want to be allowed to do useful work and marry and raise a family, and live a decent life according to their own desires, and to feel that the whole business is worth while. We would do well to remind ourselves sometimes that this is the very point on which, before the war, the Nazis succeeded and we failed; because 1236 the Nazis did make the young people of Germany feel that they were wanted, and however vile the purposes for which the young men were wanted, they got to the stage of desperation when they would rather be wanted for war than not wanted at all. That, I believe, is the secret of the Nazis' success before the war, as it was the main cause of our failure, because we allowed so many of these young men to rot in idleness for too long, although the intentions of our Governments were doubtless excellent.
There is a second thing, I think, that these men who are fighting want badly, and it has nothing to do with our political parties. They want equality of opportunity. I think it will be admitted that the Royal Air Force, perhaps because it is the youngest Service, is the least class-conscious of the three Services in this country At any rate, I was astonished by the number of young officers in the Air Force who are convinced that this is, in the end, a class-ridden country; and I found it very difficult to make an answer to one of them who said to me, "It is all very well, but in the end, in peace-time, the jobs go to the public schools." I found it not easy to answer that question, and it is one to which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education, when he is framing the new Education Bill, will have to devote very great attention, because some very drastic reform of our educational system, with the sole object of giving every man of worth an equal opportunity to fight his way to whatever position he may want, is, I think, absolutely essential.
That is all I have to say on the main theme; but there are one or two points I would like to make before I sit down on the practical proposals, or rather the absence of practical proposals, of the Government, with regard to reconstruction. The present Minister of Aircraft Production made me laugh a little when he announced that we could not have any controversial legislation in this House. On the face of it, that is a ridiculous proposition. The dynamic of present events makes it quite impossible for any Government in the world, even a Coalition Government, to stand still. And I venture to say to my right hon. and learned Friend the Paymaster-General that he will not get away with planting trees. However important trees may be, they take 30 1237 years to grow; and there are a lot of trees in Russia and round the Baltic that will do quite nicely for the immediate post-war period. This House and this Government will have to deal in one form or another with many vital problems of immediate urgency, and a pretty example we shall set to the world if we fail to do so. So let the Paymaster-General ensure that:They come as a boon and a blessing to Man, The Uthwatt, the Scott and the Beveridge plan.It is up to him to see that they do so. As I have mentioned the Beveridge plan—I hasten to say I have not yet read it—I would like, as I think some other hon. Members would, to pay a tribute to the memory of a very gallant Member of the House, the late Sir Arnold Wilson, who wrote a very great book on the subject of industrial insurance, who in doing so showed the courage which he always showed in every field, and which I am quite sure has borne fruit in this Report.
I have time only to enumerate, and not to discuss, some of the problems that have got to be faced as a matter of urgency. There is the question of bringing immediate relief to the liberated territories in Europe, above all, of food. There is the question of longer-term reconstruction; and this involves not only the supply of raw materials and capital goods but our own productive capacity, on which our prosperity and standard of life must ultimately depend. We must take steps now to ensure that we ourselves can produce in this country the goods which will be required abroad to revive the countries which have been desolated by war, and incidentally revive our own export trade.
There is one specific question I should like to ask. Nothing is more certain than that by the year 1943 there will be a world shortage of rubber which will take years, whatever happens, to remedy. I want to be quite sure that the Government, out of deference to other interests, perhaps overseas, are not going to leave this country without the means or the facility of producing the rubber which will be vital in 1944, 1945 and 1946; and that we shall not find ourselves at the end of the war without the means of producing a commodity which is of such tremendous importance. Because no one knows what will happen to Malaya and Burma.
1238 There are other problems of the machinery by which to accomplish the necessary transactions—of exchange and barter agreements. They are very complicated. They will arise with startling rapidity. Are they being studied? The whole question of overseas investment bristles with difficulties. We shall not solve it by burking it, or by handing it back to the unfettered control of the bankers of the City of London, who made such a rare mess of it between 1920 and 1930. Hon. Members would do well to remember the hundreds of millions that were poured into Germany in that period by the bankers, and the deflation subsequently imposed on Germany by the bankers, and the 6,000,000 unemployed in Germany which resulted from that, and on whose back Hitler climbed to power. These things cannot be argued against. So far as the management of money and the control of credit are concerned, I am on the side of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I hope, for once, of the angels.
Lastly, there is the political aspect, in some ways the most important of all. As Hitler's slave empire begins to disintegrate from the perimeter, an increasing number of political problems will arise demanding immediate solution. They have already begun. How important it becomes to foster the spirit of revolt in the conquered countries. There are some people who instinctively flinch from the idea of actively supporting rebellion. But let them be reassured. It is in accord with our best traditions. Fox started it, and Lord Palmerston, not generally regarded as progressive in domestic policy, but not the least distinguished and successful of our Foreign Secretaries, did everything he could to encourage revolution in every country in Europe on any terms. I suggest that the Foreign Secretary would do well to follow in the tradition and footsteps of Fox and Palmerston and foster rebellion and revolution abroad by every means.
I know that here I shall be treading on difficult ground, but there is, of course, the problem of the rats, which is by no means confined to Admiral Darlan. They have already begun to swim around looking for a ship that they can get on to which floats, and they will continue to do so. How are we to deal with these rats? As far as France is concerned, it is de Gaulle who symbolises the spirit of resistance and 1239 revolt among the masses of the French people who are now all crushed under the heel of the tyrant, and await deliverance. I feel most strongly that the time has come when serious consideration should be given by my right hon. Friend to setting up definitely some form of Supreme Allied Council in London. We have here a large number of statesmen and soldiers of great experience from Europe, and I feel they ought to be brought more closely into the counsels of the Allies. Whether we like it or not, we have to start planning the framework of the new world now. We must do it, or we shall be too late. And we cannot do it alone. Nothing short of a Supreme Allied Council can have the authority to make the ad hoc political decisions which will be called for increasingly in the months that lie immediately ahead, and lay the foundations of that new Europe which must emerge if once again victory is not to be turned to dust and ashes.
§ Mrs. Beatrice Wright (Bodmin)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) has given a vivid picture of what he visualises the post-war world will hold for us. I wish to raise one general and one particular point. We all agree that the post-war world depends for its success entirely on our victory. It also depends for its success on the careful plans we lay to-day. It will not be successful if we make hasty decisions. It depends for its success more than anything else, as this war is depending for its success, on the will of the people. Although I hesitate to cross swords with the Paymaster-General about anything, realising that his intellect would reach beyond my possibilities, I would say that when he suggested in his speech yesterday that all resources were limited, he was wrong. There is one resource in this country which has proven itself over and over again to be unlimited. That is the spirit and the will of the people. Our opportunities to-day to coordinate the will of the people towards the reconstruction of a better world are very great, but I beg the House not to overstep our own limits.
This House was elected seven long years ago, and I feel that we should be very presumptuous if we stood up in a two days' Debate and felt that we could speak with one voice for the people of this country. They are scattered to the 1240 four corners of the globe. They are on land and sea and in the air, fighting for this country. They are even in many thousands in prison camps awaiting their liberation. We cannot have the General Election which is necessary in order to achieve a realistic post-war world during these two days in the House, which is very much what we are trying to do if one listens carefully to the Debate. We must wait and give the people of the country a chance to speak for themselves and to give the country the benefit of making their own decisions. I therefore feel that we should be well advised to go slow in making any detailed plans for action. We must naturally build very carefully for what I consider to be even more important than the long-term post-war reconstruction, namely, the interim period after the "Cease fire." We must turn our attention to the international rather than the national problems for the moment, because on their solution all our hopes of this country's success in reconstruction depends.
I believe very much in what the hon. Member for East Aberdeen said regarding the welfare of the occupied countries, but I was sad to hear him link that with the fact that he felt that in preparing to deal with the necessities of the occupied countries we must have an eye on the re-establishment of our export trade. With all due deference I feel that what we do and the spirit in which we do it immediately following the "Cease fire" is going to indicate to the whole world whether the words which have been so nobly spoken throughout this war of wishing to assist, to liberate and to succour the occupied countries of Europe are indeed words of action, not platitudes.
I would suggest that probably one of the most important weapons we have for the peace effort—for I think we all agree we must fight for this peace as we have fought in the war—is the weapon of food, and I therefore want to come to my one particular subject, which I consider to be of such very great importance, the place which agriculture has in this interim period. I realise that industry and various sciences have their place in this interim period, but to my mind agriculture is almost more important than any other, because it is a thing you cannot hasten; it is a thing for which planning must be done well in advance. I believe 1241 that until we feed the hungry of Europe we cannot expect them to undertake the work of rebuilding their own countries, and until they set to work to rebuild their own countries, and we see the international possibilities of co-operative peace, for which we must do our share, how can we hope to build the fine new Britain which we have heard described in such glowing terms in the House to-day? I therefore beg of the Government to turn its attention to every possible means of keeping the potential efficiency of the agriculture of this country at as high a level as possible.
When I was in America recently I had occasion to discuss with various people in Washington this very problem, and sitting as I do for an agricultural constituency I was naturally very much interested to know their views, and even then—and it was before Pearl Harbour—America was making plans and putting out feelers to this country and the Empire to see what could be done with reserves of wheat, and with reserves of other foods, to re-establish health and sanity all over the world. With all due deference to the Government, I thought at that time there was a slight feeling that we were not being very co-operative. That is understandable. We had our backs against the wall, and, as our Prime Minister has reminded us, we were then standing alone against a violent enemy. To-day the United Nations are strong and going ahead quickly, and I suggest that we must make the words which we have often spoken of Anglo-American relations come alive by helping in the fine work of planning which is being ably led in America and ably led in this country. It is no good standing by and saying, "We want this, we want that, or we want the other," unless people realise that we need their will to sacrifice in peace as in war, and we should give them the feeling that this House at last realises that until the whole world is fed and clothed and housed we cannot go forward with the brave new Britain which we have envisaged here to-day.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
I have listened to most of this Debate and confess that I am considerably heartened by the tone of some of the speeches. This is the first occasion since this war began when I have heard it even suggested that 1242 we are not far away from peace in Europe. It would give me great joy and delight if that suggestion could be substantiated. Once again I hope the House will bear with me, because I take a minority view on most of these international problems. Incidentally, this could not be a Parliament at all unless it were ready to listen to minority opinions. Thirty Members of the House and myself have tabled an Amendment to the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech. The four main points we wanted to deal with were briefly these: First, the amplification and clarification of the Atlantic Charter—a matter which has been referred to already by other speakers. The problem of making progress in democratic government in the Colonies. Then, we demand that something should be said about independence for India. Finally, we come to the main point which I want to deal with, to-day, taking up the challenge that I have found in some of the speeches in this Debate, regarding what is to happen internationally at the close of the war.
I hope I may be forgiven, as one who does not know very much about foreign affairs, except what I have learned by travel. I have met a great number of statesmen on my journeys abroad. I would like to make one observation on that score. I trust that no Member in this House will envisage a world in which Great Britain, America, Russia and China will be on one side in a comity together, inciting into existence another group of opposing Powers on the other, and so divide the world into two great camps when the conflict is over. I have been very pleased from time to time with some of the speeches of our Foreign Secretary, in which he has made it clear that his mind does not travel that way. I would like to emphasise it. There is no hope for peace in Europe after the war unless Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia can all work together. I know it is unpopular to say that now, but the day will come when it will not be so. In the speech that he delivered some time ago the right hon. Gentleman made the point, if I remember rightly, that if you ruin one great nation in Europe, you might bring other great nations down to bankruptcy in the process. I have not liked some of the contrary sentiments expressed in the Debate to-day, on that issue.
1243 Let me turn to some observations which have been made suggesting that we should not bother about post-war problems at all until the war is won. That suggestion has been made fairly often of late. Let us remind ourselves that General Smuts, broadcasting recently to the Dutch in their own language when he was in this country, made a very firm declaration that the United Nations should say something more than is contained in the Atlantic Charter. Our own Ambassador in Madrid, the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) delivered a speech in his constituency some time ago when he was over here, demanding exactly what I have been trying to demand, namely, a clearer statement of peace aims. When Mr. Wendell Willkie comes to speak on the Atlantic Charter he is very frank to our Government. Let me remind the British Government of something. I know America fairly well, and I would not be surprised when peace is made that Mr. Wendell Willkie may then be the President of the United States of America. That is possible, and, therefore, there is no sense in not listening to Mr. Wendell Willkie. He is very blunt on this subject; he calls for much more than is contained in the Atlantic Charter. What does the Atlantic Charter presume? It presumes that Great Britain, America, Russia and China will be powerful enough to disarm Italy, Japan and Germany and keep them in subjection for good.
§ Mr. Davies
The hon. Gentleman says "Hear, hear." Let me combat that sentiment. God forbid that anything un-towards should happen to our country, but if it should, does the hon. Member think that anybody could keep the British in subjection? Does he think you can keep the Germans in permanent subjection?
§ Mr. Davies
I challenge that philosophy. You cannot keep the Germans, the French or the Italians down for good. As a matter of fact, the attempt has been made for centuries to keep 4,500,000 1244 Irishmen down, and you have failed to do that. I am sure nobody could keep the Welsh down for long. Hon. Members must therefore bear in mind that you can never keep any nation down against its will, and it is all nonsense to say that the United Nations to which we belong shall some day subject the whole world with which we disagree, and keep them in subjection for all time.
I hope hon. Gentlemen will forgive me but I have lived too long to be influenced by propaganda from either side. I have sat on too many commissions and signed my name to Reports too often to be much affected by the Beveridge Report, the Scott Report or the Uthwatt Report either.
Let me bring hon. Gentlemen up against one fact of the new world they are talking about. What of the new world we have already started? How many Members of this House are satisfied with letters from discharged soldiers who have been refused any pension. What about starting the new world there? No, if we want to build a new Jerusalem we have got to do something other than issuing Reports, and in consequence I shall be very interested to see what is to happen to these Reports, especially the Beveridge Report, in due course.
Hon. Gentlemen have been talking glibly about winning this war and the effect on this country of the victory. Let me bring their attention to Lancashire. There are other hon. Gentlemen here who know more about that county than I do, but I have represented a Lancashire constituency almost longer than anybody here. I ask the House to look at the effects of the last war on this country. Even when we win a war, the conflict damages trade, commerce, and our financial relationships with other countries. These are a few figures about what happened to the largest single export commodity in our country. In 1913, before the last war, the number of textile operatives employed in Lancashire was 711,000. We won the last war, we beat Germany, but the Lancashire textile industry suffered, not because we won that war, but because of the war, so that the 711,000 operatives were reduced, before the beginning of this war, to 390,000. That is what war does to our nation. An hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Let me add another point. This country to which we belong is the last in 1245 the world that can afford to go to war. Every time we go to fight, other nations to which we have been supplying commodities learn to manufacture those goods themselves. I understand that the United States of America are now supplying the goods which in the past we have sent from Lancashire to the South American Republics.
I do not wish to detain the House too long. I feel rather deeply about this problem of war. I am opposed to war. [An HON. MEMBER: "So are we all."] I hope you are, but the way to oppose war is to try to prevent it, and when you are at war to endeavour to get out of it as soon as you can. [Interruption.] It might be a very simple philosophy of mine, but I think Gandhi is a greater benefactor of mankind than the most efficient general of the day. I hope I may not be thought impertinent if I say too that St. Francis of Assisi did more to elevate mankind than any admiral in history.
So far as I know, there have been about 3,000 wars since Christ was born: there were 18 wars between the last great war and this; and war has never, as an instrument of policy, settled any problem satisfactorily to mankind. Indeed, wars create more problems by far than they set out to solve. Our chief aim at the outbreak of the last war was to destroy German militarism. We never aimed at the destruction of the Turkish Empire or the Hapsburg Empire or to give more power to the Serbs, or, indeed, to create a national home for the Jews. The one aim we started out for, namely, the destruction of German militarism, we never achieved at all. Then only a few of the 14 Points of the late Mr. Wilson were put into operation. In short, I want humanity to win this time. I do not know why the hon. Gentleman should be offended at what I say. I hope my other hon. Friends will not mind what I am saying.
I have been in this Labour Party from its very beginning. I was there to start it. This party was formed for two main reasons. One was to try to abolish poverty, and I am proud that this party has achieved so much in the abolition of poverty. Any hon. Gentleman who wants to know what has been achieved to the glory of Parliament, and especially of this Labour Party, might look at the census of the London County Council 1246 of the homeless on the Embankment and under the arches of this great city; and he will find that the social services we have established have made a vast difference to human well-being. This party has no meaning as a party however unless it has an international attitude towards things; unless it has something to say that will prevent wars. I object to the Hitlers, the Mussolinis, the Roosevelts and the militarists everywhere, men of 40 and 50 and over calling upon boys of 18 and 20 to do their foul work for them. I protest in the name of the common man against war as a means of trying to settle international problems.The song of hate is a song of hell;And some there be who sing it well.That is what one of your own poets says, and I say "Amen" to that. I feel strongly on these things; and I hope the House will pardon my feelings. I have, as already stated travelled a great deal of this world. Wherever I have gone I have found men and women just the same everywhere. Only the few take nations to war. I am not so sure, however, that the great statesmen now in power—Roosevelt, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and our own Prime Minister—will be in power when the peace comes. I care not, however, what anybody thinks of what I say about war. I was elected to Parliament 21 years ago because I opposed the last war, and I am not going to sell my principles for the applause of the crowd in a passing phase like this conflict. This war will come to an end like every other war, and, in spite of the glowing promises which are now made, I venture to predict that this war, like the rest, will make the poor poorer and the rich richer—that it will make the rich richer at the expense of the poverty of the poor. Finally, I detest war and protest once again, if I may, in the name of the common man throughout the world against the damage done to the soul of mankind by this insane slaughter.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
I am bound by time-table, and I know that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow him in his speech, and he will not expect me to do so. I would like to refer to what I regard as one of the most urgent aspects of post-hostilities planning. The other day the present Minister of Aircraft Production referred to European reconstruction as 1247 involving a major operation of war, and I want to say something on that. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) asked a question earlier in this Debate and he referred to a part of the speech made yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). I will quote the part referred to. The right hon. Gentleman said:I planned when I was in office a staff college where men and women of the Allied nations, including representatives of responsible volunteer agencies with the necessary knowledge and experience, could be trained in co-operation for the important and vital duties of bringing life and hope to the oppressed peoples and enabling them to restore their normal life. Some such international reconstruction service there must be, first, to assist in providing regular distribution of the necessities of life, and, second, to create the conditions under which the free peoples can begin to build their own free institutions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1942; col. 1047, Vol. 385.]I want to ask, and hope to receive an answer as far as it is possible in an open Session. What machinery have we for the administration of ex-enemy territories, for the control of civilised communities after the swift mobile battle has passed through the land? What is our system for immediate relief measures for the population? What is our organisation for maintaining the public services, for controlling the Press and broadcasting, for security and anti-sabotage measures, and for keeping the wheels of civil life turning?
This very greatly affects the Army, and I am very sorry there is not on the Front Bench at the moment a representative of the War Office, but perhaps my words will reach there. What part does the Army play in all this, and what part the civilian officials, and how are the latter organised? In fact, are they organised at all?
The Germans, in their thorough way, have administrations ready to plant down in occupied countries after the Army has gone forward. They have a Todt organisation, with thousands of uniformed officials and labourers to clear the battlefield, demolish and rebuild. They flood in, together with Gestapo agents, behind the heels of the troops, and behind them again come commercial men, bankers and industrialists, all with definite tasks to perform. They certainly know 1248 how to exploit the countries they overrun, but this is a rigid, over-organised system, inducing hatred and terror in the population, and I am not saying for one moment that we should imitate them in this. Indeed, it is our policy to encourage people in these countries to whose relief we come to recover their status and their prosperity by their own efforts and develop in course of time their own administration and system of government.
This astonishing war of quiet periods followed by sudden violent actions and quick break-throughs has already proved that the Army's main task in point of time and the number of man-hours worked is in policing, clearance, reconstruction and ancillary services. Although training for actual battle is of paramount importance, it is surely remarkable that so little instruction is given to commanders and staffs in these other duties and also to the host of civilian officials who will be required. There should have been instituted by now—perhaps there has been instituted and it is already working—a permanent college for military and civilian personnel chosen for language and other qualifications where problems that will arise immediately on the occupation of ex-enemy territory can be studied and solutions thrashed out. For what happens now? The Army moves forward, and a great vacuum is left behind. Considerable delays ensue before administrations adequate to their tasks are established. Abyssinia, Iraq and Syria are, I think, all cases in point. May I give an example of what I mean from North Africa, although it is too early yet to judge of what exactly has occurred there? Members may have read a newspaper report of the confusion which was caused to our own troops and to Arab traders—and it is vital that we should always have the good will of these traders—through the lack of specific instructions as to currency arrangements and rates of exchange. Again—did representatives of the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Supply and the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation accompany the expedition attached to General Eisenhower's staff to begin immediately negotiations with merchants for the establishment of trade between this country and North Africa? I hope they did. We all know the saying, "Trade follows the flag." But the flag moves very fast these days, and trade and relief measures must follow 1249 swiftly if anxiety and unrest are to be avoided.
But, after all, this is not so serious a problem in the Middle East, where the standard of life and the population per square mile are low, but in more civilised countries we cannot afford the danger to our troops and to our lines of communication which will arise unless the rearward areas are well organised. Nor the peril to the civilian population through the dislocation of trade. I understand that the Americans are taking this question very much more seriously than we are, and while the major share may quite well fall to them because of their superiority in numbers, we do not want to be backward on them in successful administration overseas, our strong point for so many generations. I do not know whether hon. Members saw a newspaper report in the "Sunday Times" of last Sunday, headed "The United States preparing for transition to peace." It was a report from a correspondent in Charlottesville giving particulars of the newly-created School of Military Government. I will quote from it briefly:In the words of the Provost Marshall General, who established the school, its purpose is to train a corps of military and civilian personnel capable of forming a military government without loss of time. Wherever this corps is instructed to take over the administration of a foreign state, local laws will be disturbed as little as possible, but to safeguard its military position, the occupying army must impose a super government over the local one.The report goes on:Lawyers, bankers, engineers, administrative experts, organisers, police officials, are all among those being trained at Charlottesville. The course extends over four months. The first part is devoted mainly to international law and military government and problems of military organisation and public administration.We often hear—we have heard it recently as a result of our victories over the last few weeks—that it is perhaps six months before we shall open the great offensive in Europe, when we shall hope that thousands of square miles of territory will come under our control in a short time. Six months! I urge on the Government to enlarge very greatly their ideas on this whole question, and decide, as a matter of vital urgency, on this important piece of post-hostilities planning. Nothing less than an army of military and civilian per- 1250 sonnel will be necessary, with specialised knowledge on the part of their commanders and organisers, trained together to a common end.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
I have been fortunate enough to hear most of the speeches during the past two days, and I think there is a general feeling in all parts of the House that this Debate has been both timely and useful. Indeed, in many respects I regret that we could not have had still more time for it, for I know that many hon. Members still have contributions to make; but I console myself with the reflection that it is unlikely to be the last Debate which we have on reconstruction. Before I pass to deal with some of the points raised in this Debate, I think I must make at least a brief reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). I feel with him, and of course every Member of the House feels with him, a hatred of war. But that is not his unique and privileged position. Many of us have seen war, perhaps more than he has, and perhaps hated it at least as much as he does. Where, perhaps, his mind seems to stop is that it does not draw any conclusion. If we were all to follow his attitude, not only could he not have made the speech he has made, which would have been unfortunate in a free Assembly, but, still more, this country would be exactly in the position which, say, Poland occupies at present. I have been receiving in the last few days, as others probably have, representations about the state of the Jews in Poland and the appalling things that have been happening there. If we all adopted the hon. Gentleman's attitude, there is nothing to stop exactly the same thing happening here. It is impossible to adopt an attitude like that.
§ Mr. Eden
They certainly did not. In listening to the Debate and to the many constructive suggestions which have come from all parts of the House, my dominating impression was of the immensity of the task which is going to confront us at home and abroad. I was glad that the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) deprecated false optimism. Of course, he is right. It is natural enough that he should feel and speak as he did, and as 1251 the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. W. Joseph Stewart) did, about the areas which suffered so much in the period between the two wars. Our task this time is going to be more difficult in some respects than it was after the last war. The wreckage is greater, and the business is not over yet. The duration is still uncertain. Yet we have to turn to these tasks, and I think the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) was a little unfair to my right hon. and learned Friend when he complained of chapter headings. It is a true statement. Much of the work at present is chapter headings. In the first instance it must be. But perhaps my right hon. and learned Friend's speech is not the last word to be said on the subject. It is the first time that any statement has been made on the subject at all. I was deeply astonished to hear the hon. Member complain of Tory Ministerial week-end speeches. We all have bad habits, and I think week-end speeches are a very bad habit. But I think my Labour colleagues indulge in them much more freely than I do. But the hon. Member made a more serious charge than that. He spoke of a report which had reached him as to the Prime Minister's attitude to legislation about the post-war period, and asked me a question which I want to answer. He said, "It is being stated that the Prime Minister is taking a stand at this stage against legislation concerning post-war reconstruction. Is that so? "The answer, quite definitely, is that it is not so, and if my hon. Friend will consider the position for a moment, he will realise that a number of the statements which my right hon. and learned Friend made yesterday in fact foreshadowed legislation. Legislation will be necessary and will be introduced. So the hon. Member can certainly give his friends who raised the point that assurance on the Prime Minister's behalf. We admit that this programme will need to be more substantial. We ask the House to accept it as a first account.
I wish to deal with a subject that has been referred to by many hon. Friends, my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) and my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) among others, on the subject of the immediate post-war situation in Europe, how we are going to deal with it and what we propose to do 1252 in the way of relief. One or two hon. Members seemed to think that we were relying on other countries to make all the running in the matter. I might perhaps, therefore, give a word of explanation. The Prime Minister said long ago in the dark days of 1940, a time of which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mrs. Wright) reminded us in an admirable speech, that it was our intention to arrange in advance for the speedy entrance of food into the occupied countries as soon as they had genuinely regained their freedom, and that we would do our best to encourage building up reserves of food all over the world for this purpose. Since that statement was made our own position has undergone a pretty fundamental change. So far as the reserves of food and raw materials are concerned, our own situation is that they have been very largely used up. Inevitably the primary responsibility for this building up of stocks must be with the Dominions and with the United States who have the necessary food available. That does not mean to say that we are not working out these plans with them. We are. Perhaps the House saw a recent statement of the President of the United States authorising the extension of Lease-Lend to areas occupied by United States Forces wherever they were. That is of the utmost importance for the future progress of our plans. Then came the announcement that Governor Lehman was to be appointed to undertake the organising of the work of American participation in the relief activities which are co-ordinated by the United Nations.
§ Dr Haden Guest (Islington, North)
Has Governor Lehman any responsibility to the committee of Allied representatives in London?
§ Mr. Eden
As I understand it, he will organise the United States share of the relief which has been co-ordinated by the United Nations. To that extent I think that my hon. Friend is right in his assumption. This is an enormous task, but I can tell the House that this country, despite its difficulties and its fewer resources, is determined to do what it can within its power to help in the immediate relief of post-war Europe, even though at some expense of sacrifice to ourselves, because we understand perfectly well that the immediate alleviation of this problem is essential to the recovery of Europe and to our own recovery as well.
1253 May I refer to what my hon. Friend said about the administration of the relieved countries? He drew a comparison between the thorough German method and our own which he feared was not so good. We are at work on these things, and I think the House will admit that the planning, for instance, of the North African operation, even in these details, was fully complete. But there is a distinction which the House must not forget between the German method, which is the method adopted by an invading army, in occupied countries and our position when we shall arrive as liberators and when the governments and local authorities of those countries will, I trust, be given the task of setting order in their own areas. The last thing I desire is that the impression should get abroad that we want to arrive in Europe to impose our methods and our will on the countries which have suffered so long from Germany, so though my hon. Friend may be assured that we think of these things, we have to approach them with some thought for the sensibilities of the countries which have suffered so much.
Next, if the House will allow me, I should like to say something about our foreign policy now, and about the trends of that policy so far as it is possible to judge it in the midst of the storms of war. In the first place, may I submit that foreign policy is a continuous process, going on all the time, and that what we do now in the midst of war determines the future much more than what our dreams about an ideal future may happen to be. Here and there there is a tendency to suggest that foreign policy is in abeyance in war time. If anybody would spend a day at the Foreign Office he would learn that that is not so. In fact, the manner in which and the extent to which we succeed or fail to succeed in co-operating with our Allies now will, to a very large extent, determine the course of post-war foreign policy. I have served at the Foreign Office in what was called peace, but was much more like undeclared war, and have also served in a period of war, and I have been impressed by the extent to which, since hostilities have broken out, the Powers fighting together have been able to integrate their foreign policy. It is a depressing thought, but it seems to need an alliance in war 1254 to bring about those results which might have prevented the war could they have been realised in peace. But there it is, and our aim must be to ensure that this realisation which we can achieve now in war is continued in peace, and it is not going to be easy, because we shall get the inevitable reaction.
The moment the Armistice is signed and hostilities are over there will be a desire to let up, a desire to cut our responsibilities, and yet whether we are able to maintain peace or not afterwards will depend on whether we can carry through this co-operation which we have now established with other great Powers, in particular with the United States of America, with Soviet Russia and with China. I was glad to hear one or two of my hon. Friends utter a note of warning about the need for this sustained effort after the Armistice. I believe that is where we, as Members of this House, will have a responsibility and an opportunity. There will be an immense temptation for everybody to relax and to say, "Everything is over," and naturally we shall feel infinitely more cheerful; but in passing over into the period of Armistice and peace we must sustain the effort we are making now. We have got to do it or we shall find we have lost the greater part of what we have been fighting for.
I have spoken of four great Powers, ourselves, Russia, the United States of America and China, but I must make it plain that I do not visualise a world in which those four Powers try to clamp down some form of big-Power dictatorship over everybody else. What will happen when the fighting is over is that these great Powers, and particularly ourselves, the United States and Russia, will have a virtual monopoly of armed strength, and that armed strength must be used in the name of the United Nations to prevent a repetition of aggression. But other Powers, be they great, be they small, provided they are willing to play their part, will, I trust, be secured in the enjoyment of that independence for which they have fought and suffered so long. Indeed, it is essential that the independence of these other countries should be restored if we are to create a free international society in Europe. And so I say that in any world system that is to operate all States will have to play their part.
1255 Now I should like to say a few words about our own position in all this, and then a few words about each of our great Allies. About ourselves first. Our foreign policy is to a large extent dictated by our geographical position. Whether we like it or not, we are part of Europe. Whether we like it or not, we are also the centre of a great Imperial Commonwealth, and so we are, in that sense, a world Power too.
Our duty is to act as a bridge, and there is nobody who can play that part but us—nobody else. It is to us that the nations of Europe will look, and I believe are looking now, for a message as to our attitude after the war. That is the question they are asking. What is our message to them? I would like to try, in half a dozen sentences, to give that message and to see whether the House approves of it. There are two alternatives, broadly speaking, open to us. We can say, in effect, to Europe, "Europe is the concern of Europeans? We wish our friends well. Good luck to you; but, when Hitler crashes, it will be for you to work out your destiny as best you can." I hope we shall not give that answer. If we give that answer, we abdicate our responsibilities and we are, as I believe, writing a charter for future German aggression. I would like our answer to be different. I would like our answer to be, "Whatever we can do to help you to re-establish your ruined economies we will do. The first need of Europe will be to build up an enduring system of defence against the possibility of renewed German aggression. We are prepared to make our contribution to that system and we are prepared to do this because we understand full well that peace and security in Europe are part of our own peace and security; and never again shall we turn our backs on Europe." That, I hope, is our message to Europe.
If the peoples are to be free and have a chance to devote themselves, as the overwhelming majority of them wish to devote themselves, to the arts of peace, there must be common action between us of the British Commonwealth, the United States and Russia. What hope is there that we can achieve such co-operation? I believe there is much hope. I may not have been optimistic in what I have told the House so far, but here I think there are grounds for hope. I make reference to two speeches which have been made, one by an Ameri- 1256 can statesman and the other by a Russian statesman and will see how they fit in with our own policy. Mr. Sumner Welles, speaking the other day, used these words:Peace—freedom from fear—cannot be assured until the nations of the world, particularly the Great Powers, and that includes the United States, recognise that the threat of war anywhere throughout the globe threatens their own security, and until they are jointly willing to exercise the police powers necessary to prevent such threats from materialising into armed conflict.Then he went on:Another essential is the reaching of agreement between the United Nations before the armistice is signed, upon those international adjustments which we believe to be desirable and necessary for the maintenance of a peaceful and prosperous world for the future.Then he went on—and I think this is of interest to us in this House—to issue a double warning; to warn against extreme isolationism in the United States and to warn against an attempt, from purely idealistic motives, to try to impose American standards on all the peoples of the earth. I regard that speech as an epitome of good sense. I believe that it indicates and represents the great bulk of American opinion at this time. It represents its firm resolve to fulfil a leading role after the war and thus to accept world-wide responsibilities for maintaining peace. As regards the second part of what he said, about the desirability of preparing for the Armistice in advance; there, too, we are in full agreement. The difficulties are many and obvious. No one can tell, in the shifting sand of war, in what circumstances or where, or even between what countries, the final shots will be fired; and yet the attempt must be made, and we are ready to join in making them.
Now I turn to the other great country, to Russia. As the House knows, I have for a long time held the view that there was no reason why there should be any conflict of interest between the Soviet Government and ourselves. I believe that policy is firmly based on history. In each of the great world conflicts there have been—the Napoleonic wars, the last great war and the present war—we and Russia have found ourselves on the same side, and each time after it is over we have drifted apart. Then we do not come together again until the next crisis.
§ Mr. Eden
I was dealing with more than one instance. I do not think that would be the complete historical fact; something happened before we attacked Russia. I do not think there is much object in entering into all that. It does not in any sense conflict with my general thesis, the truth of which I know the hon. Gentleman accepts. I say that is why I attach such importance to the Anglo-Soviet Treaty which we signed here in London this year, because that pledges us to 20 years of co-operation after the war. That is perhaps my only difference with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) when earlier to-day he asked us not to make long-term commitments. This is a long-term commitment which I believe has its roots in history. Mr. Stalin called it the other day a historical turning point. We believe that to be true. Nor, let me add, do we accept that political differences—here I am treading on more delicate ground, to which Mr. Stalin also referred in his recent speech—should or need make cooperation impossible. There are some in this country, not very many, I believe, who think that the existence of a Communist régime in Russia makes co-operation between our two countries in the long run impossible. I do not agree with them any more than I agree with those who think it is necessary to hold the Communist faith in order to co-operate with the Soviet Union in the field of international politics. [Interruption.] It has not been my experience. In this connection Mr. Stalin himself recently made some observations which I should like to quote to the House. He said:It would be ridiculous to deny the existence of differences in the ideology and structures in the States which form the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition. But does this circumstance exclude the possibility of coordinated action by this coalition against the common enemy who threatens them with enslavement? Definitely it does not.That also is the view of His Majesty's Government. When Mr. Stalin contemplates, as he clearly does in that speech, the extension of this Three-Power cooperation into the period of peace, I would 1258 say bluntly that on the maintenance of that co-operation lies the best chance of building a new and better international society after the war.
One passage about China. We and the United States are at this moment engaged in negotiations with the Chinese Government, as a result of which we hope by agreement to bring to an end the period of special rights of extraterritoriality and enter into a period of agreement on equal terms. Among the more absurd and fantastic of the Japanese claims for the domination of Asia are those thinly veiled under that most extraordinary phrase, "The Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere." That title sounds for all the world like a prospectus for a bogus company. That is just about what it is. China knows what a complete mockery all that is. Chiang Kai-shek has lately given his view of what the position of China will be. He has disclaimed any wish on China's part to assume the mantle of an unworthy Japan. He declares that China feels that she has responsibilities, not rights.
Our general object is to form a world system for ensuring the peaceful development of all peoples; but there is an essential preliminary to all this which we must never forget. It is to restrict, let us hope for all time, the aggressive power of Germany and Japan. I make no mention of Italy, because I do no regard that as a major problem. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said all that needs to be said about that for the present moment. I want to say one word about the greater—I do not know about the greater, but at any rate the nearer, of the two outlaw States, Germany. During the last 70 years—these are unplesant historical facts which we have to face—successive German Governments have consciously and consistently pursued a policy of world domination. This policy and the philosophy that is behind it is the first threat to enduring peace, and it will be the first and imperative duty of the United Nations on the morrow of their victory to elaborate such a settlement as will make it impossible for Germany again to dominate her neighbours by force of arms. That lies at the root of the business, and it would be sheer folly to allow some non-Nazi German Government to be set up, and then, so to speak, to trust to luck. The rooting out of the old false gods will be a 1259 long and strenuous business, but it must be accomplished. [An HON. MEMBER: "It will mean Socialism here."] It means, I hope, that whatever political idea is practised in this country, we shall be free of this nightmare.
Some Members may want to know what machinery I visualise. There are certain international services which have gone on during the war which have hot died, and which may render great service after the war. There are the international health services and economic services and the work done by the International Labour Organisation. We shall need that work more than ever after the war. The I.L.O. has struggled manfully, and with considerable success, to remove certain of the evils which are among the root causes of war: low standards of living, insecurity, and unemployment. Unless we can cure those evils, no peace structure can be enduring. The I.L.O. must be strengthened and developed. I should like to see it become the main instrument giving effect to Article 5 of the Atlantic Charter. Somebody may say, "How is all this to be done? What is the machinery to give effect to it?" I would reply that, although the machinery is important, it is, unfortunately, less important than certain other ingredients which are essential to the maintenance of peace. The old League of Nations failed, not because its machinery was faulty but because there was not the representation or the force or the drive behind it.
To my mind, there are three indispensable attributes—and I think these come near the definition which my hon. Friend gave early in the Debate—for any international organisation if it is to have a chance to achieve its purpose. First, it must be fully representative of the Powers that mean to keep the peace. The old League was not. Second, the Powers themselves must have the unity and the determination to arrive at agreed and positive decisions. And the third, and perhaps the most important of all, is that they should have the force behind them to give effect to their decision.
Let us take heed a little from the lessons of the past, and let us try to learn them. I believe that out of this organisation of the United Nations, based in the first instance on undertanding between ourselves, the United States and Russia, a great opportunity opens to us. 1260 After the last war there was, quite naturally, a sudden reaction against militarism in all its forms and hatred of war such as the hon. Member for Westhoughton gave expression to a little while ago, with the result that nations were reluctant to contemplate the use of force even to keep the peace. After this war we must, in my submission, be ready to make our military contribution to the United Nations to enable them to keep the peace. I repeat, the task is going to be a heavy one, but there is an opportunity—a great opportunity. Also, one's hopes, perhaps the main hope, lie in the factor to which we are not always sensible in these islands—the unparalleled suffering which has been caused by the German and Japanese hordes. Coventry, Rotterdam, Chungking, Warsaw, Belgrade, Stalingrad—all these events are more eloquent declarations of unity than the words any statesman can use. The Americans who have died in the Solomons and in North Africa, by their deaths have pledged their country to work together after the war more deeply than any speech can do. So I say that the simple lesson is that, however great the effort, we have to make our cooperation in peace as true and as effective as it now is in these war years. There has never been a more skilful and complete co-operation than the co-operation in North Africa. Are we really to admit we can only achieve this in battle? It is inconceivable. It can be done, and it must be done. Please God, we do not forget these lessons in the years that lie ahead.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Ordered, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Major Sir James Edmond-son.]
§ Debate to be resumed upon the next Sitting Day.