§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. James Stuart.]
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
My first sentence must be to express my warmest thanks to this House for their generous treatment of me in so kindly re-arranging Business as to enable this Debate to take place in the last week before the Christmas Recess. I understand, of course, that that re-arrangement must have been inconvenient to many of my hon. Friends in all parts of the House, and I am the more grateful to them. The fact is that it would not have been possible for me to take part in these recent Turkish conversations in Cairo and get back, despite the best efforts of the Royal Air Force, in time for a Debate last Thursday. Again I express my thanks. Let me say also that I only too well understand the disappointment that hon. Members must be feeling that the Prime Minister is not able to be here himself to give a first-hand account of these three Conferences in which he has played so leading a part. My right hon. Friend asked me to express his regret to the House, but there is still important work for him to do in the sphere where he now is, and he is sure the House would wish him to see that work through to the end. So this poor substituteStruts and frets his hour upon the stage.We have spent three very strenuous weeks. Into that short time have been compressed three Conferences of world significance any one of which in the ordinary leisured times of diplomacy would have taken a full month. But, with the rapid development of air communication, methods of consultation have been transformed, so it was possible within only a month of the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries in Moscow to open the yet more authoritative Conferences of the heads of Governments in Teheran. These meetings between the three men who bear the chief responsibility in their respective countries must be a rare event. Their value can hardly be exaggerated. They impose a considerable additional burden on those who travel or take part in them. It is not so much the intensity of the work that has to be done as the wide range of 1425 subjects through which the mind has to move from one to the other which adds so heavily to the burden. I do not believe even my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, ardent as we know him to be for work, has ever devoted more hours of the day and, alas, of the night to unremitting labour than during these Conferences. I am glad to be able to report to the House that, in spite of that, I left my right hon. Friend, though perhaps a little tired, in good health, stout of heart and most confident in spirit.
Now let me describe our work. It fell into three main, easily defined chapters. First, the first Cairo Conference for the prosecution of the war against Japan, next the Teheran Conference for the prosecution of the war against Germany, and then the second Cairo Conference for discussions with the President and the Foreign Secretary of Turkey. I propose to say something about each, and also about a number of subsidiary and important matters which were discussed and dealt with in both Cairo and Teheran. The greater part of the time of the first two Conferences in Cairo about the Far East, and in Teheran about the war against Germany, were taken up with military matters. It was possible for us to bring these matters to a state of complete and collective preparation far exceeding anything that had hitherto been realised in this war. The thought is, I think, quite well expressed in two sentences of the Teheran communiqué, to which I draw the attention of the House because they are, I think, the most important of all. It states:Our military staffs have joined in our round table discussions and we have concerted our plans for the destruction of the German forces. We have reached complete agreement as to the scope and timing of the operations which will be undertaken from the East, West and South.That is a message which it has never, as yet, been possible to give to the Allied peoples in this war. The words must ring ominously in German ears and in those of Germany's unhappy satellites. They could be applied textually to the earlier Conference at Cairo in respect of the Far East. That Conference had certain special features. It gave the Prime Minister, for instance, his first opportunity of meeting the Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. I think it was also the first time the President had met the Generalissimo. 1426 By the luck of good weather I arrived in Cairo on the evening when the Prime Minister was entertaining the Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, this leader of indestructible China and his most gifted wife. It was a most memorable experience when the Prime Minister took his guests and Admiral Mountbatten, who is Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command, and who, of course, also came to Cairo for the Conference, into his map room, where for some hours we dived deep into war plans and projects.
If I may just strike one personal note, I would say that it is difficult not to be deeply impressed by the Generalissimo, even at a first meeting. Some of my hon. Friends have already met him. I had never met him before, and that impression deepens as time goes on. Under the outward gentleness and gracefulness of this remarkable personality there is a core of supple steel. His is a strength, you feel, that cannot be broken; it can only be bent and then strike back with even greater force. From what I have said, the House will understand how readily the Generalissimo and our Prime Minister understood each other. They speak just the same language of determination, and all through that evening and many subsequent discussions and meetings Madame Chiang Kai-shek was always there to help us with her sagacious counsel, her unrivalled experience of East and West, and her brilliant gifts as an interpreter. I am sure the House will not wish me to apologise for giving just this personal impression of meeting these very remarkable personalities. As I have said, our Military Mission agreed in Cairo upon future military operations against Japan, but we also thought it well to take this opportunity to set out the political principles for which we are fighting, and we did so in these words:The three great Powers are fighting this war to resist and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion.Such being our purpose, it is our determined intention that Japan shall be deprived of opportunities for further mischief; that she shall be expelled from all the territories, to whomsoever they belong, which she has taken and that reparation shall be made to China for the wrongs which have been done to her. We thought it well, too, to take this opportunity 1427 to tell the people of Korea that we had not forgotten thom and that their country would, in due course, become free and independent again. The House may say and it is true, that there is, in all this, no new declaration of British policy. The House will remember that even before Pearl Harbour, the Prime Minister warned Japan that if she attacked the United States we would declare war within the hour. From that moment we have been committed to the objectives which are set out now, for the first time, internationally, in the Cairo Agreement. We are committed to them because we understand that to destroy Germany and then make a compromise peace with Japan, would only sow the seeds of a third world war.
Let me emphasise that the war with japan is not one in which we in this country are playing the part of benevolent assistants. Even if we are compelled, for the time being, to devote the greater part of our human and material resources to the task of defeating Germany, we are still principals in the Far Eastern war. Japan is just as great a menace to the security of the British Commonwealth as she is to the security of either the United States or China. Ask any one of the splendid fighting men from Canada, Australia or New Zealand who are in this country, whether they have any doubts on this score or whether they could contemplate any future for their countries unless the power of Japan were broken. They and thousands of their fellows came here in 1939 to help us in our defence here. Many of them are still here, in spite of the dangers to their own countries, and we should be utterly unworthy of our heritage and traditions, if we did not, at the earliest possible moment, deploy all our resources for the purpose of establishing their security on a firm basis. For that we have to fight Japan to the bitter end whatever the cost and however long it takes.
I have no doubt that this meeting between the leaders of the three great Powers, upon whom rests the heaviest share in the conduct of the war against Japan, has been of the greatest service to our cause in the political as well as in the military sphere. I was able during these conversations to have some discussion with our Chinese friends on another 1428 matter in which I know the House takes an interest—post-war collaboration between our two countries both in policy and in commerce. I told our Chinese friends that it was the desire of this country that that collaboration should be as close and as cordial as possible. I found that to be their attitude also, and I hope, in fact I feel sure that we are going to be able to make steady progress in both those spheres.
Now, I invite the House to leave Cairo and the Far Eastern Conference and, if they will, to take their places with me again upon the magic carpet—in this instance the good aircraft "York"—and fly across the Dead Sea over Iraq and the Persian Hills to Teheran. This long journey which many, like my noble Friend opposite, have performed in the past, we performed in the incredible space of five-and-half hours. The Teheran Conference lasted four full working days and they were crowded days. We had, every afternoon, a plenary session of the heads of the Governments and their principal diplomatic and military advisers. All the mornings were devoted to preparation and to those numerous consultations which have to take place between delegations in the course of any successful conference. There was a welcome absence of formality about all our meetings. Both lunches and dinners served for the further prosecution of business, except, perhaps for the Prime Minister's birthday celebrations. The party at these meals never totalled more than eight, with the necessary addition of interpreters. In this way, it is fair to say that all the waking hours and many hours normally devoted to sleep, were during these four days and nights, devoted to discussions on any and every topic between the leaders of these three countries.
When I came back to this House from Moscow I ventured to give the House a message that I was confident that the foundation had been laid for enduring collaboration between this country, the United States and the Soviet Union. I am many times more confident of this today. The work of Teheran began just where the work of Moscow left off, but the Teheran Conference, being a conference of leaders, carries a still more stirring message to the world. I would like to quote just one extract about the Conference from the Soviet newspaper 1429 "Pravda," and I quote it because it expresses exactly my own feelings at the end of this Conference. They say this:Only a short time separates us from the Moscow Conference of the three Foreign Ministers of the Allied Powers, the decisions of which not only demonstrated the strengthening of friendly co-operation between Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. in the war period, but laid the basis for fruitful work together after the war. But what a tremendous step forward has now been taken along this path.I am convinced that that is true. Let me try to sum up the results of the Teheran meeting. The first result is that the war will be shortened. The close co-ordination of all our military plans which was reached at the Conference will ensure it. Clearly, we can do better when there is a close interplay at every move, which we have not had until now. The Teheran Conference laid the plans to this end. All is now agreed. Every plan is now agreed, and the timing is now agreed, and, in due course, the decisions of the Teheran Conference will be unrolled on the fields of battle.
Even this is not all, because victory is a means to an end, and the end is a peace that will last. More than once before allies have stood together in war and fallen apart in peace. In the last year or so many hon. Members in all parts of the House must have said to themselves, "Is this going to be our experience once again?" Well, that will certainly be Germany's game. Let the House not doubt that. She will play it with all she knows from the moment the last shot is fired—to sow confusion, to sow doubt and division. That will be Germany's game, and thus to prepare for the next war. This recurrent threat of war can only be met if there is an international order firmer in strength and unity than any enemy that can seek to challenge it. Is there or is there not the possibility of creating such an order? Do the foundations exist?
Six months ago I could not have given any certain answer. It might have been so; it might not have been so. But to-day I can give the answer. It is an emphatic "Yes." The foundations do exist, and I am truly confident that there is a possibility, and more than a possibility, a desire, among the three Powers for continued co-operation not only during the war, not only in reshaping Europe when the Armistice comes, but also, thereafter, 1430 in maintaining in the world an orderly progress and continuing peace. The foundations of that understanding were laid by us in Moscow. They have been strengthened and confirmed in Teheran. We three worked together. We have set our hands to the task, and heavy is our responsibility to ensure that we do not fail.
I would like to give two illustrations of the beginning that has been made. When I came back from Moscow a month ago I told the House that we had set up there an Advisory Council for Italy, on which there would be representatives of our country, the United States, Soviet Russia and France. That Committee—that Council—has begun its work. Its members have had a number of meetings. They have been to Italy and surveyed the position there. I had the opportunity when I was away to see the representatives of all four of the countries, and each and all told me that the work was proceeding smoothly and well. That is the first step. And then there is the Advisory Commission for Europe, the Commission agreed on in Moscow, which is to sit here in London. That has now been completed by the nomination by the United States of the American Ambassador in London, Mr. John Winant, a most admirable choice. I understand I am not telling secrets if I say that there is another body which is to have its first preliminary informal meeting to-morrow. That is the beginning. These two bodies were planned in Moscow, but the scope of their work was greatly increased by the decisions taken at Teheran.
I will now pass to another matter—Turkey. It was decided in Teheran to invite the President of the Turkish Republic to attend a Conference with the representatives of the three Powers—the United States, Soviet Russia and ourselves—in Cairo, on what was our homeward journey. The Turkish President accepted, and he was accompanied by his Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General of the Turkish Foreign Office. The British, the American and the Soviet Ambassadors in Ankara accompanied him. Unfortunately, Mr. Vyshinski, who was to have been the Russian representative to join us in that capacity, was away at the front in Italy, and he could not reach us until after the close of the talks, but I was able to see him before I left Cairo, and I gave him a full account of all that had passed, and discussed with him the outcome of 1431 our work. These conversations were in the nature of a fuller and more complete development of the earlier meeting which I had had with the Turkish Foreign Secretary in Cairo five weeks ago. I clearly cannot at this stage give details of these confidential discussions—too many people might be listening—but I can say that I have good hopes that they will be found to have established a sound basis for future co-operation between the four countries—ourselves, Soviet Russia, America and Turkey.
Since his return to Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Minister himself has made a statement which the House, perhaps, may not have noticed, in which he said that the conversations in Cairo were so intimate and far-reaching that he could now say that Turkey's relations with the United States and the Soviet Union were almost as cordial and as strong as with Great Britain. Those who know the past history of this business will realise what an important statement that is. It augurs well, I think, for the progressive development of future relations between us four, and were it on account of this development alone I should feel justified in telling the House that we regard the Cairo Conference No. 2 as encouraging. Further than that I cannot go to-day.
While we were in Cairo my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I were able to discuss the recent crisis in the Lebanon with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stockton (Mr. Harold Macmillan) and with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carlisle (Major-General Sir Edward Spears), who is our Minister at Beirut, as well as with the Minister of State in the Middle East. The House has already been informed of the development and of the conclusion of that crisis, but, if the House will allow me, I want to take this, my first opportunity, to say something about it. Our interest in this matter is twofold. We have sympathy, deep sympathy, with the national aspirations of the Arab world.
We are the only country that has ever concluded a Treaty with and withdrawn from an independent Arab State. Yet at the same time the preservation of order and tranquillity in the Lebanon is an Allied interest, for it closely affects the whole of our war effort in the Middle East. I understand that General Catroux is going back to Beirut on behalf of the 1432 French Committee of National Liberation, and he is to conduct negotiations to try and bring about a modus vivendi in the Levant States. No happier choice of representative, I think, could have been made by our French friends, and I am sure the House will share the earnest hope, which we have expressed already through diplomatic channels to the authorities concerned, that these negotiations will be conducted in a conciliatory spirit on both sides and that they will lead to early agreement. I am confident that all our Allies, all the members of the United Nations, share that view.
It so happened that on my return journey one of the engines of our four-engined aircraft became tired of operating, luckily when we were getting near the aerodrome of Algiers, and so we landed there and were delayed. As a consequence I had opportunities of meeting both M. Massigli and General Catroux himself and of having conversations with them about this situation. Here let me say just one word—which I hope the House will endorse—to the people of France. We are at the heart of the fifth winter of this war. The suffering of the French people has been harsh and cruel. France has endured a long ordeal, which perhaps, but for the hazard of geography, the British people might have had to share. We believe that this great people, 40,000,000 strong, enriched by the moral and intellectual qualities that have been theirs throughout history, will find the spirit to lift them up again from the heavy blows which have been dealt them during the last four years. We believe that in the Colonial and French Forces in Tunisia and in Libya, of which I have heard from our own officers who served with them, and in the heroic and ever-increasing resistance movement in France, some of whose representatives I have met within the last few days—we believe that in those people we have the real soul of France. So I say at this time that despite all the difficulties we extend to France our sympathy and our confidence.
What I have said, and said deliberately, applies not only to France but to all those nations now under German occupation. What we are seeking, what we are working for, when we approach these matters in harmony with the United States and Russia, is not to impose a three-Power will upon Europe. We are seeking to liberate 1433 those countries so that each and all can take their place in the European family again. There could not be anything exclusive in the arrangements between the three Powers. We want to restore the liberty of these nations of Europe, great and small, so that they can play their part in Europe. I am one who believes that Europe has still perhaps the greatest contribution of all to make to the future of mankind.
Having said that, I must come to one or two of our troubles, for it would not be fair to ignore our troubles. There are two countries in the Balkans about which I must say a word or two—Yugoslavia and Greece. It is, perhaps, inevitable that after three years of enemy occupation and guerilla fighting there is not a little internal confusion and chaos. It must be remembered that German propaganda, day and night, is trying to increase that confusion, trying to spread false reports of our intentions, trying to divide us from our Allies and play one off against the other. So I hope I may say to the House that in approaching these matters in public discussion we should use all possible restraint and above all, if I may add it, resist the temptation of fighting our own elections in all these Balkan lands. I laid down some time ago, with the assent of the Cabinet, of course, three rules to try to guide us in this state of affairs, and I will give them to the House. First, to give all the practical help in our power to those elements in these countries which are actively resisting the enemy. Second, to make clear that so far as we can exert any authority it shall be used to ensure that these countries shall be free to choose their own Governments when they are liberated. Third, to work in the closest possible concert with our Allies.
Having said so much, may we, on the basis of these rules, look at Yugoslavia? For many months past the head and front of resistance to the enemy in Yugoslavia have been the partisans under their Commander-in-Chief, General Tito. From all the reports which we have received it is clear that these partisans are containing and engaging a large number of German divisions. We are doing all we can to supply them with munitions and to support them in every possible way. Our action in this respect has, of course, been endorsed by our Allies.
§ Mr. Eden
By the Soviet Government and the United States Government several times over, at various conferences. Now if I may I would like to go back a little into past history. I want to show the House the development in this matter. As a result of information which we had we decided as long ago as the spring of this year that we should ask General Tito to receive a British Military Mission. He replied, "Yes," and British officers have been with him ever since. Our Mission has been and, as it happens, is under the leadership of a Member of this House, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean), who has established most excellent relations with General Tito. As the House will have seen from the newspapers today, the Soviet Government have decided also to send a Military Mission to the partisan Commander-in-Chief. I want to make it quite plain where we stand in this. Mr. Molotov was good enough to discuss this project with me, both when I was in Moscow and more recently in Teheran. He said, "You have a Mission with them, and we think of sending a Mission, too." We, of course, endorsed this proposal—the Prime Minister and I—and Mr. Molotov and I agreed that our two Missions shall work together in the closest collaboration when the Soviet Mission reaches the country. That is the position.
Now for another development since I left Teheran. As the House is aware, a Supreme Legislative Committee and an Executive National Committee of Liberation have recently been set up under the auspices of the Commander-in-Chief of the partisan Forces. So far as I am aware, this National Committee does not claim authority outside the borders of the area in which it operates. It has certainly not claimed any form of recognition from His Majesty's Government. As I understand the position and as it has been reported to me by our officers, the partisans emphasise the provisional nature of this administration, and they hold that it is for the Yugoslav people, as soon as their country is liberated, freely to choose the form of Government they prefer. If that is the position, this, too, is the view of His Majesty's Government. It is also, as I know, because he has told us so, 1435 the desire of King Peter himself and the policy of his Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] They have publicly declared it as their policy. We must be fair in all this. A public statement was made by the Government that the moment the war was over they would lay down their portfolios and the country would choose what Government they preferred.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
Do the radio pronouncements of the Yugoslav Government from Cairo confirm that statement?
§ Mr. Eden
Certainly, Sir. I am not trying to say that the Government in Cairo agree on all points with the partisans. Clearly that is not so. I am trying to make a fair approach to this very difficult question, and what I am saying is that all, including the Government in Cairo, have declared that the moment their country is liberated they will lay down their offices and it will be for the country to choose its Government. That is a point on which all are agreed—the King, General Tito and the Yugoslav Government. [Interruption.] I feel myself the greatest sympathy for this young King. He came to his responsibilities at a most critical hour in his country's history. He did his best to rally his country to the Allied cause, and he is now faced with the most difficult problems that any young monarch could be faced with. I repeat that we must try to be fair, and, if I may use the word, not too partisan in our actions in the literal and not the military sense of the word. Finally on that subject, let me tell the House this. We are in consultation with other Allied Governments on this policy, and the Prime Minister and I devoted no little time to it while we were in Cairo. We are now at work in conjunction with our Allies to bring all those in Yugoslavia or out of it together who want to tight the common German enemy. I hope that the contributions of this House will be made to that end.
One word about Greece. The position there is not on all fours with the position in Yugoslavia. There there are warring bands, all of them in different degrees hostile to the Germans. There are also political controversies which cut right across the matter. It is our aim there to try and unite all these bands, or almost all of them, in common action against 1436 the enemy. We have some hope that we may have a measure of success in that. The recently published letter of the King of the Hellenes which he had written last November to his Cabinet, shows clearly that the King is anxious to make his contribution so that his position shall not be a matter of controversy or get in the way of unity. I am not without hope that we may see some progress in the near future, though I do not pretend that the task is particularly easy.
I want to say something about the progress of the fighting in Italy, because it is wrong that we 4nould adjourn for Christmas without the House being informed of the latest information that the Government have. We must admit, first of all, that the advance of the Allied Armies in Italy during the third and fourth months of the campaign has not covered quite the spectacular distances we achieved in the first two months. That, of course, is not due to lack of initiative on the part of our Armies. The truth is that we have now reached what is the narrowest part of the Italian Peninsula. The Apennines stretch almost from coast to coast, and where the Apennines stop the swollen rivers take over. That is the position which confronts us. These natural facilities afford exceptional opportunities for skilful defence, and the Germans, as they are forced relentlessly back, are making good use of these advantages. Add to this heavy persistent rains which swell every river and turn every approach into a sea of mud, and we have a fair picture of the background against which the Italian events should be reviewed. On 8th November, after a surprise sea borne attack on Termoli, the Eighth Army pressed on and secured a bridge head over the river Trigno while inland their left flank was moving up through the Apennines. Meanwhile, on the west General Clark's Anglo-American Fifth Army crossed the Volturno and fought their way to the next river obstacle. By the 8th, by a lightning thrust most characteristic of him, General Montgomery swept the Germans back across the Sangro River. The whole of the rest of his line moved forward at the same time while the Fifth Army kept pace in the Western Apennines. It was then when, as I know, our commanders felt the campaign to be developing as they wished, that we had another deluge and steadily worsening weather conditions 1437 which called a halt along the whole group of armies. That time was spent building up stocks, preparing rivers and roads and getting ready for the next offensive, General Montgomery waiting for a spell of fine weather.
At last it came and on the night of 27th November the Eighth Army, further strengthened by the arrival of the Second New Zealand Division, that most gallant veteran Division, was able to launch its main assault. It was preceded, as has become almost the custom now, by a familiar and shattering bombardment and the full support of the Royal Air Force. The 78th and the 8th Indian Divisions, both of them also veterans in fighting, advanced and secured Fossa Cesia Ridge. Down came the rain again and still our troops fought grimly on, as they are doing now to the line of the Moro and beyond. Far on the left Canadians have now relieved the 78th Division and they are pressing on towards Ortona. Inland the New Zealand Division is trying to gain the high ground which will help the Canadians further in their advance. Meanwhile, on the west the Anglo-American Fifth Army began the battle for the Mignano Gap. There was a struggle to secure this mountain feature and the enemy had plenty of time to prepare formidable defences. But thanks to the gallantry of the Allied infantry all the more important of the hill features are now in our hands and it seems that the Germans may be forced to withdraw further. It would be unjust to make these references to the fighting in Italy without paying tribute to the Royal Engineers and the administrative services. Theirs has been an immense task to keep communications open and to reconstruct them where they are destroyed, and yet throughout this fighting the Army has never lacked for a moment a shell or food or supplies of any kind. It is my duty to give the House the casualties from the moment of the landing on the mainland to 23rd November. The British casualties were 3,212 killed, 9,709 wounded and 3,153 missing. Total 16,074. The American casualties were to 25th November: 1,603 killed, 6,361 wounded, 2,685 missing. Total 10,649. Up to the most recent counting the German prisoners taken by the Allies total just over 6,000.
Let me sum up my impressions of these three weeks. My right hon. Friend and I were greatly encouraged by the outcome 1438 of our three conferences. So I believe were all our Allied colleagues. To that extent I bring the House a message of good cheer. These events, of course, give no cause for easy optimism—far from it. If I were to do that I would give my message falsely. The truth, on the contrary, is that the very magnitude of the plans to which we have set our hands, to which the heads of other Governments have given their approval, will call for an immense effort in the coming months from each and all of the United Nations. Plans, however good, can only yield results if the force of the citizens in all the lands is behind them. We have set ourselves a hard task in our determination to achieve victory at the earliest possible date. Great battles are impending. For this effort we shall need all our strength, all our courage, all our unity in greater measure perhaps than ever before. I ask this House to give the pledge that for our part that effort will be forthcoming,
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
I should like first to express the feeling of thankfulness of all sections of the House at the safe return of my right hon. Friend from another of his arduous and hazardous journeys. We are glad to welcome him back again in health and strength, and we appreciate to the full not merely the risks he has gone through in recent months—for physical courage has been shown—but the enormous amount of work he has put in in the interests of this country and in the Allied cause. When the news was bruited round the world that great events were toward, there was a feeling of hope and anxiety in all the lands of the United Nations. The great series of Conferences, with the Teheran Conference as the king pin of them are historic in a special sense. I do not believe that any meeting at Versailles was so pregnant with value and importance for the future as the conversations which have taken place first in Moscow, then in Teheran and then in Egypt. There have been people who have criticised the lack of a co-ordinated policy for the prosecution of the war. There have been criticisms of bi-lateral action by two Powers and a third Power being subsequently informed of what was taking place, and there has been a feeling that the time had arrived—indeed, many people thought that the time had arrived a considerable number of months ago—when there should be a master strategical 1439 plan for the further conduct of the war. It may well be that had the three great leaders met earlier the results might not have been quite so fruitful as I hope they will prove as a result of their meeting recently at Teheran; but however that may be, the outstanding fact is that the three great leaders have met and have issued a declaration from Teheran on 1st December which ranks, in my view, with the Atlantic Charter. Indeed, it is a continuation of the Atlantic Charter, and an expression of a determination to put into effect, to carry into operation, those principles which are enshrined in the Atlantic Charter. My right hon. Friend has given us information to-day and has heartened us by his impressions of these discussions, but I am afraid he has not lifted the curtain very far, nor, indeed, could I expect him to do so. Suffice it to know that the three leaders have put their names to a document of first-class importance, and we must, I think, accept those words of theirs at their face value:We express our determination that our nations shall work together in war and in the peace that will follow.And we have the words from my right hon. Friend as to the scope and timing of the operation. We have, therefore, on the basis of this published statement—not published lightly, but after full consideration—the firm assurance that now the great Allies are united in spirit and in action and that there is a master plan to be put into operation. My right hon. Friend referred to troubles—Yugoslavia and Greece. May I suggest to this House that the major troubles are going to be the creaking, the growing, pains between us, the United States and the U.S.S.R. Four days of the closest contact between the three great leaders cannot at once sweep away a quarter of a century of suspicion and misunderstanding between ourselves and the U.S.S.R., nor can they sweep away some generations of misunderstanding and lack of appreciation of one another between ourselves and the United States of America. It is becoming clear now—I think it was clear to many people a long time ago—that among the three great Allies each needs the other two, that not one of them, for the prosecution of the war and in the peace period that follows, can stand alone; that all three must stand together if there is to be a world living in security. Therefore, we 1440 must do our best to get rid of this lack of understanding which has governed our relations with our American Allies, who speak the same language—with certain modifications, and perhaps with different meanings—and with the U.S.S.R.
I remember in the early days after the Russian Revolution that the people of this country viewed this new, nascent Power in the making with the deepest suspicions and forebodings. My own party, who were not afraid of the Communists at all—nor have we fallen for the Bolshevik bogy: indeed, we dealt ruthlessly with the Communists over 20 years ago and even rejected their new advances as recently as last Whitsuntide—took an attitude of friendliness and co-operation towards the Soviet Union, because we felt with the death of Czarism and the rise of a new regime, that whether we liked it or not, in a country with almost illimitable, untapped resources, with a people freed from serfdom and with hopes of release from the bad past, there were the beginnings of the making of a great country. That has proved to be true.
I remember how, when accounts were published in the British Press of five-year plans, they were received with a certain amount of derision in this country. How grateful we should be now that those five-year plans were so fruitful. I remember seeing in "The Times", before the war, a half-page illustration showing large numbers of parachutists floating down at some air exercises or manoeuvres near Moscow. The people of this country were interested, and amused. In April, 1939, I published a booklet called "The Soviet's Fighting Forces." I quoted there a speech made about the fighting forces of the Soviet Union as late as March 1939. That speech was made by the Peoples' Commissar for Defence. That speech was ignored. That speech was delivered by Marshal Voroshilof, who has been one of the great architects of defence and offence in the Russian Army. In it he showed the enormously developing military power of the U.S.S.R. Whittle down the figures, make what allowances you cared to, it was still clear to all who could read in March, 1939, that here was a formidable world Power with whom, either in peace or war, the world would have to reckon. We took little notice. I remember when Hitler committed his worst of all blunders, his attack that fateful Sunday morning on Russia, that people who ought to have 1441 known better said, "It will all be over in three months—or three weeks." Fortunately, that has proved not to be true.
This is the new nation with which we have to deal now and in the future. She has made prodigious contributions to the prosecution of the war. She will declare her mind when the days of peace begin to dawn. With the United States, a sister country, a new, ambitious, virile country, different from us, with its roots not so deeply embedded in the past as ours, we cannot always expect to see eye to eye. She also is making prodigious contributions to the prosecution of the war, and her views must be heard in the making of the new world after the war. As for ourselves, let us not hide our heads in modesty. Of the great Allies we alone declared war against the German monster. Our contribution to the war has not yet been fully measured. We also shall require to be heard in the shaping of the world after the war. These three great Powers, each with its own outlook, each with its own prospects, each with its own way of life, each of them, perhaps, in a rather clumsy form having its own ideology, have somehow or another to learn to live together not only for their own good but for the good of mankind, and it will not be easy. In the past Anglo-Russian relations have poisoned political development in Europe and far beyond Europe. Ideologies stood in the way of economic and political realities. I say of Marshal Stalin that he is perhaps the greatest realist in the world to-day. No man is less governed by ideology than Marshal Stalin. Of course, he has his views, we all have our views, but in this new welter and confusion of thought out of which constructive effort, was coming we have got to learn to live with the very hard-boiled American on the one hand and the double-dyed Communist on the other. It will not be easy, and I suggest that it is high time now to begin to pull together not merely on the war issues but on the peace issues. I agree with what my right hon. Friend has said that the new co-ordinated plan, the decisions that have been taken, will call for further sacrifices from the people of this and of other countries who are on the Allied side. All those sacrifices will be willingly and gladly made without reserve. But we must go further forward. I am not criticising the Teheran statement when I 1442 say that it is primarily concerned with the war and only secondarily with building for after the war:As to peace, we are sure that our concord will make it an enduring peace. We recognise fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace that will command the good will of the overwhelming masses of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of want for many generations.Those are fine and noble words and I believe the authors meant them. But it continues—I am not blaming the authors, because even four of the fullest days described by my right hon. Friend could not solve all the world's problems:With our diplomatic advisers we have surveyed the problems of the future and we shall seek the co-operation of all the nations,and so on. This is prospective. I suggest in all earnestness that the real testing-time of this new friendship, forged in the furnace of war, will come when we have to take the strains of the peace, and if these three nations from now onwards, without any delay, can give their minds and their hearts and their beings to learning how to live together to shape the future, that will be the greatest guarantee of future peace and prosperity in the world. We have had the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, the Hot Springs Conference, U.N.R.R.A. and other things, all bits and pieces. We cannot afford to wait for four and a quarter years after the Armistice for a master plan for the future. That plan must be worked out now, and if this Debate is to be of real value to the world, we ought to get a statement from His Majesty's Government that the Teheran Conference is a final chapter, written and now to be executed, and that, from now onwards, this new friendship, conceived in all good spirit, from which these men left as friends in fact, in spirit and in purpose, is the opening of a new chapter of permanent international co-operation.
§ Captain Duncan (Kensington, North)
I venture to speak in a foreign affairs Debate for the first time in my Parliamentary life, because I believe most firmly, as one who has served in two wars, that we must make sure of external security after the war before we can settle down to progress and peace internally. I have been devoting a good deal of my time, as other people have, to thinking about the future, I welcome the speech just de- 1443 livered by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). It was a courageous speech we have heard from him, and I wish for once to associate myself with practically everything he said. That is an unusual thing for me to say, but I am glad to be able to say it in the present situation
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs spoke for 50 minutes. I am sure he will not misunderstand me when I say that he said very little during those 50 minutes. I do not blame him for that in the least, in present circumstances, but he did say three things which I should like to underline. He stated quite definitely that at Teheran the foundations were laid of co-operation between the United States of America, Russia and ourselves in the peace. The right hon. Member for Wake field alluded to that point, but I think the Foreign Secretary has already answered it in saying that the foundations of peace were laid at Teheran. The second thing he said was that our object with regard to occupied countries was to liberate them and to enable them to play their part in Europe. He also said what I conceive to be most important, in view of the statements which are being made in this country to-day that they should be free to choose their own Government. That is most important and cannot be too strongly emphasised. The third thing for which we are grateful to him is his statement about Yugoslavia and Greece, which clearly expressed, under somewhat different circumstances, the British attitude to those two countries, in spite of some what confused newspaper and other reports which we receive from those countries.
For a few minutes I should like to be allowed to express, as General Smuts did the other day, a few of the thoughts that have been passing through my mind—to think aloud—on foreign affairs. First of all, as the right hon. Member for Wake field has already said, Marshal Stalin is not an enthusiastic ideologist. Our foreign policy should be based, not upon ideology, but upon realism. I think that is important. Secondly, the object of this country and of the Allies is to beat Germany. Let us get that quite clear. At the same time we should, in beating Germany, enable the countries of Europe to have the sort of Government they 1444 want. I am glad that that has already been stated to-day by the Foreign Secretary. Thirdly, in ranging over wide fields of foreign affairs, we must be careful to restrain ourselves to British interests. It was said, I think 120 years ago, that foreign affairs are "British interests abroad." Let us maintain that principle to-day and confine ourselves to British interests abroad. Fourthly, in working out our proposals for the peace, we must recognise the balance of power in Europe. It always was recognised up to 1918, but, as General Smuts, has said, the Peace Conference at Versailles tended to get away from the balance of power, or to think that they could get away from it. Experience of the League of Nations has shown clearly that, however much we try to get away from it, we never can, and that it must remain in the future and be taken into consideration.
I think that those four points should be in the foreground of our foreign policy in the peace. General Smuts made a speech the other day. Whether we agree with it or not does not matter. It was a very important speech, in which he surveyed the world to-day, and he said some rather startling things about France, Germany, Italy and Russia. He referred to Russia as the colossus of great power who would be ending this war as the preponderating Power in Eastern Europe. He said that Germany, Italy and France had gone and that we were weakened as the second greatest Power in Europe, while far away across the Atlantic was the most powerful nation in the world. He asked what the future of Europe was to be. I very largely agree with his conclusion that we must maintain complete unity of purpose with the United States and Russia in order to solve that problem. I do not altogether agree with him in his conclusion that France has gone. I believe it will be generally agreed that the birth of anything is painful and that rebirth is still more painful. We may have to watch a good deal of pain, trouble and internal strife in France before we see her regain her strength. We should do everything we can to help France to regain her strength. If I may give one word of advice to Monsieur Viennot, who broadcast the other day, it is that he should not be too proud to accept British assistance in restoring France's strength 1445 and that if the A.M.G.O.T. officials wanted to help the military administration when the invasion comes, he should not, through pride, refuse that assistance.
Germany, I believe, we must finally deal with. I cannot see any way of preventing the revival of a warlike spirit in Germany unless we take such drastic action over a very long period that Germany will not be allowed to revive again. Unless we do that, even now German military leaders are beginning to think of stopping the war before the army is beaten in order that they will be able to say after the peace in five years' time, "The army was never beaten. The civilian population in Germany let the State down. We must get going again to rebuild our armies and our air force by stealth to be ready for the next time." We must not let that happen, whatever else happens to us. Italy is in a slightly different position. It is a country teeming with population. Emigration to America has been restricted since 1921, and her outlets for her population have been restricted in other ways. We must not allow a situation to arise in Italy in which she will burst again. We must give her some method, either by territory or by allowing her to emigrate, of getting rid of her surplus population, instead of bursting her bounds as she has done recently.
Lastly, in regard to other European countries, we must not allow grievances over population or economic grievances to remain, and we must deal with them in such a way as not to interfere with lasting peace. So far as Japan is concerned, I am not at all certain that I agree that all her territory must be stripped from her, not of course the territory she has gained since the war. There, again, there is a teeming population, with a very low standard of life, which cannot go very much lower without resulting in starvation.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
What territory has the hon. and gallant Gentleman in mind that he would not take from Japan?
§ Captain Duncan
Formosa, for one. We must do everything we can to foster the three-Power agreement and to see that nothing interferes with the utmost unanimity of action and purpose. We must keep the practical for the ideal and not be led away into the mistake of setting 1446 up a League of Nations as it was before, because that was proved to be a failure. I would give one instance, and that is the invasion of Manchuria. Nobody put the situation more clearly than did the Minister of Aircraft Production, who, in 1932, said that that matter was the test of the League of Nations. Not one of us in those days here was willing that our mothers' sons—[Interruption.]
§ Captain Duncan
—should be sent all the way to China for that ideal. And the country would not have stood for it. I do not believe that the French would have stood for it either. We must not go for that great ideal which cannot be carried out. We must keep to what is practical. I have great hopes that Premier Marshal Stalin has the same sort of ideas because he is at any rate a realist.
Finally, we must build up a system on practical lines which will stand the strain in 20 years. It was easy to set up the League of Nations just after the last war, but as soon as the strain came 15 or 20 years later the system broke down because it was based not on the practical but on the ideal. We must build up a system which will last when the strain comes, and will take that strain. That is, I think, the thing which is going to be most difficult to work out because we have all to project our minds 20 years hence and try to see what the strains will be 20 years hence, a difficult thing to do. But we must, and I suggest the whole House of Commons ought to try to project our minds into the future, and not make a peace unless it is based on a system which will stand that strain when the strain arrives in 20 years time. Finally, may I make one more plea, that the Armed Forces be maintained at full strength because unless our system is based on force and the force of the small nations of Europe, provided they will all play their full part, we cannot through idealism make any system work because I regret to say it is not human nature, and we must have regard to human nature in making our system work.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
I would like to begin by adding my congratulations to those of other hon. Members to the Foreign Secretary on his safe return from the very tiring and dangerous 1447 journey. I do so with all the more enthusiasm because I quite genuinely believe that the Conferences in Teheran and Moscow really do mark the turning point of the war in the political field just as definitely as the Battle of Britain or the Battle of El Alamein did in the military field. They do give us not by any means the certainty that we shall make a sensible peace after the war but for the first time the possibility of doing so.
I would like to take two or three points that arise from the Conferences. In the first place, I wonder how many people in the Soviet Union or the United States or even in this country said to themselves that the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary was signing documents not merely on behalf of the less than 45,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom but on behalf of the 500,000,000 inhabitants of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I know there was a Debate the other day on Commonwealth affairs. While the House was dealing with these 500,000,000 inhabitants of the Commonwealth I was dealing unsuccessfully with a far larger number of influenza germs and missed an opportunity then. I did ask Mr. Speaker and I gathered that I should be in Order just to refer for a moment to two Commonwealth matters in so far as they affect our foreign policy. I shall do my best not to cover the ground covered in that Debate. As a preliminary remark I think that it is time some Members on the other side of the House stopped talking about the Commonwealth as though they conquered the whole thing single handed and were therefore its proprietors. Nothing can do more to aggravate people in the Dominions. I also think it is lime that people on this side stopped talking about the Commonwealth as though it was something to be ashamed of because they do not happen to like the way we govern in India or some African Colonies and so on. I think that an organisation of that size scattered over the globe that has survived two world wars is obviously something to which we have to pay the very greatest attention, and of which I think we have considerable right to be proud. I say that because it seems to me that if we are to play our full part in this triangle of great Powers about which we have been hearing to-day, it is essential that 1448 we should adapt our machinery as much as possible so that no one in the world should doubt that when the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary signs a document with the two other members of this great triangle, he does so on behalf of this vast concourse of peoples. I was sorry that the other day the Government did not accept the suggestion advanced in various speeches that we should as soon as possible discuss with the Dominions the establishment in London or one of the Dominion capitals of a Commonwealth secretariat which would prepare necessary conferences to decide Commonwealth defences and foreign policy. I am quite sure that with the transfer of a great deal of this power from this country to the Dominions overseas we shall reach a stage when matters of Commonwealth defence and of Commonwealth foreign policy will have to be discussed in a much better, more practical and speedy way than is the case at the present time
Why is it necessary that we should assure this full Commonwealth co-operation? For reasons which do not quite tally with those of my hon. and gallant Friend who preceded me, I believe that it is quite essential that we should feel strong after this war, because otherwise we shall not have a strong foreign policy. To a very great extent, but not quite to the extent some of us feared before the Foreign Secretary has cleared up the matter, these three Powers have taken on themselves the responsibility of making war and peace, and unless these three great Powers can continue to co-operate, can develop their co-operation much more, it is quite clear that we shall not be allowed to wait even another 20 years before we are involved in another world war. I believe that means that we must not only have a strong foreign policy but a progressive foreign policy. I believe that for two reasons. If we support a narrow stratum of society in these different countries and if we find the Soviet Union supporting the vast masses of people in those various European countries very soon we shall find ourselves in difficulties with the Soviet Union and the triangle will break. I was very encouraged by what the Foreign Secretary said about Yugoslavia. I share his sympathy for this young King but I think that in the past we have been much too reluctant to realise 1449 that in Yugoslavia, Spain, Italy, and to a slightly different degree in Greece, in many of these countries the future is in the hands of the masses of the people and not in the hands of whoever happens to be King at the time, however gallant he is or however great his services in the past. Unless we realise that and adapt our foreign policy to the requirements of the masses of the people in those countries, inevitably we shall find ourselves in conflict with the Soviet Union. The triangle of great Powers will break.
But there is a second reason I would venture to suggest why our foreign policy must be a progressive one. I think it is impossible to exaggerate the extent to which these so called smaller countries—many of them much larger than ours—of Europe look with hope towards this capital of ours, this Government of ours, this people of ours. They must not be overlooked, they must not be bullied. In all the Foreign Secretary's speech the passage which personally pleased me most was his tribute to the people of France and of all those occupied countries. When in the very distant future one really gets the complete history of this war written, I venture to believe that no passages will be more moving, no heroism will be more inspired, than those describing the heroism shown by those people who have worked against the enemy despite the Gestapo all round them, despite the fact that every time they carried out an act of sabotage they knew they were going to bring acts of revenge on their own people. They deserve our highest tribute, and I am very glad, and I think the House is very glad, that the Foreign Secretary paid that tribute.
These smaller countries of Europe really do depend very much more on Great Britain than most people in Great Britain realise. I agree more often—I am sorry he is not here to-day—with the Senior Burgess for Cambridge (Mr. Pickthorn) than he agrees with me. I suppose that, being a very learned gentleman, he has remembered that the Latin for left is sinister. The result is he distrusts everyone on this side of the House. I would point out to him that the Latin for right is dexter and that suggests to us dexterity, log rolling, wire pulling, all sorts of mysterious political activities. But I did agree with him, particularly when in a speech just before the last Session came to 1450 an end, he referred in very cordial terms to these smaller countries. They look to us with hope for two reasons—not only because this country was the first country which in the Battle of Britain put up a successful resistance to the Germans and therefore revived their hope of survival but also because these people in all these occupied countries have seen enough of dictatorship. They know what may happen once power comes into the hands of a single man. They want, I think, all of them want desperately to get to or to get back to a more democratic system. It happens to be part of my job to see a great number of people from European countries. I would say in all sincerity that we cannot exaggerate the way in which these people look to us for a lead because they say to themselves that we have transferred our whole economy from a peace-time economy to a great war production economy without abolishing our democratic machine. They therefore hope that in the time to come we shall continue to give them a lead. They all know that great social changes in their countries are inevitable, and they believe that we have begun to discuss the great social changes which will be necessary in our country. It is not just an accident that the Beveridge plan or the summary of it was translated into Spanish, Czech, German, Portuguese, Chinese and Italian. It has been published in Switzerland, the Argentine, Mexico, Brazil and so on. That has happened because these people look to us for a lead.
I am always coming across people, and my hon. and gallant Friend who spoke immediately before me rather accentuates my point, who begin any discussion by saying that they are not idealists. They say, "We must not be idealists." I profoundly disagree. I do not believe that any foreign policy has any sense at all unless it has an ideal behind it. There is all the difference in the world between having ideals and not being a realist. I think that those of us who in the past supported the idea of a League of Nations were the realists, and that all those people who did their best to corrode the machinery of the League with cynical arguments were the perverted ideologists. I am an idealist, and I am proud of it; because I do not believe that any Government which is not inspired by a decent ideal can possibly arouse the enthusiasm of its people and maintain the respect of other peoples. 1451 All this talk of military strength, although. God knows it is important, does not deal with the most important thing, a unity of purpose. At the time when Germany was weak we had all the military strength necessary to keep Germany down, but we bad not the idealism, the faith, to get together and see that Germany did not become a great aggressive Power again.
I feel very hopeful, both from the speech which the Foreign Secretary made when he returned from Moscow and from the speech which he made to-day, that this triangle of great Powers really has reached a basis of understanding, and that it really is going to make full use of the contributions made by these little countries, because it would be a great mistake if we forgot how much colour and life and light those countries have brought into the texture of our civilisation. Above all, in this House of Commons there is growing up, I believe, a sufficient number of members, whatever their parties may be, who realise that in the very difficult and dangerous years to come, when a terribly great responsibility will rest upon us, their attitude towards these problems must not be influenced by vested interests or party politics. With that in mind, I venture to believe that when the time comes and we have to face up to the full responsibility of making a peace, this country will not fail.
§ Captain Gammans (Hornsey)
I would like to say a word about the Conference in Cairo, because I fear that the great events in Teheran may have overshadowed in our minds some of the implications of the Cairo Conference. The Foreign Secretary assured us that the Cairo Conference has done two things. First, the three great Powers involved in the war against Japan have now agreed on a common strategy and policy. Secondly, any suspicions which our partners may have had as to our intentions regarding that war have now been removed. I could never see why the Americans should ever have had any suspicions about our intentions: we have far more at stake in the Far East than they have. Secondly, reassurance has been given to China, at a time when she badly needed reassurance. She has had six years of war, and is suffering, naturally from war weariness.
1452 But I feel that the war against Japan has certain implications which people here do not realise. As I go around the country I find, as I imagine most Members do, that most people think that when Germany surrenders, the war will be ended, that prosperity will automatically return, and that there will be no necessity for further sacrifices or hard work. That belief is extraordinarily dangerous. Although we have been told that there can be some partial demobilisation of our Forces, this war against Japan is going to take very much longer and to require very much more from us than most people realise. It is going to mean that a large part of our industrial concerns will have to devote their energy to it, and that we shall not be able to start the great task of reconstruction to which we all look forward, because we shall not have the men or the materials. For example, I do not see how, while the Japanese war is on, we shall be able to find the necessary men or women for the extra teachers we shall require, or the materials for building the schools. I only hope that we shall be able to devote such resources as we have for what I consider the most necessary task of all—that is, housing. But we shall find, during the Japanese war and for some time afterwards, that we have to make a choice between capital goods and consumer goods. I doubt whether the average person in this country knows what is the difference between capital and consumer goods. The rationing of consumer goods will have to go on in the form which it takes to-day. I do not think it will be so much a choice between guns and butter as a choice between houses and hosiery. Our people should be made to realise that.
I believe, too, that during this Japanese war it will be essential to maintain national unity in this House, though I know that some of my hon. Friends opposite do not agree with that. We have been told that we are going to have the luxury of a general election as soon as the German war is over, but I hope we shall not attempt to fight the Japanese war or to lay the foundations of a peace treaty as a matter of party politics, to be fought across the Floor of this House.
The chief problem that is going to arise is the demobilisation of our Fighting Forces. This war has already gone on longer than the last one did, and those of 1453 us who were in the last war will remember how in 1918 our great armies simply disintegrated overnight, because we had not made our people realise that it is no good winning the war and then failing to make sure of the peace. This time, I think, it will be much harder. Many of our people have been away for three or four years. Demobilisation must be lopsided as between the Army and the other Services. We shall not need our large armies in the Far East, if for no other reason than that we shall not be able to deploy them, but we shall need a large Navy and Air Force. That worries me, because I do not see how you can apply this principle of first in, first out. In addition there is a large Army in India, presumably being trained for jungle warfare or whatever other specialised warfare they have to undertake. You cannot demobilise those men merely because they happen to have been longest in the Army. There will be very grave problems, and something will have to be done to avoid dissatisfaction, or worse, when the German war comes to an end. Certain steps must in my opinion be taken by the Government even now. First, the people of this country should be made to realise that the Japanese war has to be fought, and to understand what we in this country and the Empire generally have at stake.
There is another thing which the Government could do on this problem of demobilisation. They should make a statement here and now that after this war compulsory military service is going to remain; that we are determined that never again shall we be a weak military Power, unable to fulfil our obligations to our own people, and incidentally to fulfil the obligations we have accepted at the Teheran and Cairo Conferences. If people know that military service in future is going to be a normal part of our ordinary life, I do not think there will be the same haste as there otherwise would be to get out of it directly the German war is over. The Government also should see—as I imagine they will do—that directly the German war is over those men in the Eighth Army and First Armies who have borne the brunt of that war will not be immediately shifted to the Far East. We may have to tell our American allies quite frankly that these men in our own Army, Navy and Air Force who have been fighting for 2½ years longer than the Americans have done, must be given some leave 1454 before they are asked to go off and fight the war against Japan. Another thing which we must do is to raise the pay of those men whom we ask to go on fighting in the Far East, and satisfy them that when they come home they will not find all the best jobs taken by the men who have had the good fortune to be demobilised first. I wonder too whether it would not be possible, when we can start a certain amount of industrial demobilisation, to arrange for those young men who have had the good fortune to be in reserved occupations throughout the war to go into the Services and do their share of the fighting. Whether that is feasible or not from a military point of view I should not like to say, but I am sure it would prevent the cleavage which otherwise will inevitably exist after this war, as it did after the last war, between those who have risked their lives and those who have stayed at home, and have not done too badly out of it.
If we are to fight this war against Japan with vigour and success, we have to do something more to get the right psychological approach to it. At present, I believe, the psychological approach of the British people towards the Japanese war is as bad as it could be. We have allowed a feeling to grow up that there was something disgraceful in our Colonial record in the Far East, and that that was primarily responsible for the Japanese victories. In articles and speeches all over the country, and especially in America, it has been suggested that the inhabitants of Malaya and Burma welcomed the Japanese, on the ground that what had happened to them from the British was so bad that what would happen to them from the Japanese could not be much worse. On Sunday I heard a postscript after the 1 o'clock B.B.C. news, in which the speaker said that the people of Malaya, and he also threw in the Dutch East Indies, were so indifferent to their fate that they were prepared to welcome the Japanese. I do not know what authority he had for saying that—at any rate, he was not there—but that sort of thing has done harm among our people and in the United States. When I was in America this year I found that those of my American friends who had always been favourable to this country did not want to mention Malaya to me, in the same way as if a friend of yours had a son who had forged a cheque and gone to 1455 gaol you would not want to mention the matter in conversation. When I brought it up they were most surprised.
§ Mr. Cove (Aberavon)
I think that this particular broadcaster said that he had lived out there for two years and had been back only about eight months.
§ Captain Gammans
I think he said that he had been in New Guinea for two years, but I would not like to be dogmatic on that. He has certainly not been to Malaya for the last two years. This psychological approach of our people and troops to the war in the Far East is important. What are the facts of the case? Why did we, and incidentally our Allies, suffer a staggering defeat at the hands of the Japanese? There are three main reasons. The first is that the back door to Singapore, the linch pin of the whole defence scheme, was open when Vichy France sold out Indo China to Japan. Second, during the whole of that time were there adequate modern arms with which to defend the country? As far as I can gather, there were no British tanks or modern aeroplanes. That is not to be wondered at, because we lost the Far East less than eighteen months after we had suffered a staggering disaster at Dunkirk and after we had lost all the arms that we had got together in three years of rearmament. Between that time and the attack on Singapore we have re-equipped our armies at home and we have had the Wavell victories in Africa and sent substantial quantities of arms to Russia. There is no reason why we should put on white sheets for the insufficiency of modern arms in that campaign; they were not there because they were somewhere else. The third reason and most fundamental of all is that the Allies had lost the control of the seas in Pearl Harbour and by the sinking of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales.
The point I want to make is that there is no earthly reason why we should have gone round, as we have for the past two years, allowing the most damaging and dangerous—and I think disgraceful—things to be said about our people in the Far East, and especially against that small British community of about 6,000 people—all this talk about whisky swilling planters and blimp civil servants. When you have tanks coming down the main street and are being dived bombed it 1456 would not make any difference whether you were all teetotallers and vegetarians.
As some of my hon. Friends know, I spent 14 years of my life in that part of the world. Many hundreds if not thousands of my friends are to-day interned in Malaya. Therefore I hope the House will accept my assurance when I say that for that reason I have gone to very special pains to try and find out what, in fact, did happen when Malaya was invaded. To what extent did the people of Malaya—the Chinese, the Malays, the Indians, many hundreds of whom are my personal friends—betray us at this most vital and dangerous part of our history? I have talked to both military and civilians, and I can assure the House that I have been unable to trace any fifth columnism or treachery whatsoever. What many of the stories arise from is that the Japanese very largely fought the campaign dressed as Malays or as Chinese. They came in dressed in Malay sarong and short trousers which the Chinese wear. Our troops could not recognise Chinese from Japanese and came to the conclusion that they were being stabbed in the back by their own friends.
What really happened was exactly what happened in Denmark, Holland and Belgium and all other invaded countries of Europe. That is, a peaceful people found themselves overwhelmed by modern arms of which they had had no previous personal experience. These people saw the British on whom they had relied implicitly for defence and protection for 50 or 60 years driven out with apparently no opportunities of retaliation. What specially annoys me about these distorted stories is that our American friends appear to find some difference between what happened in Malaya and what they say happened in the Philippines. The greater part of the Philippines was in fact overrun in the matter of a few days, but General MacArthur had the good fortune to have a natural fortress like Corregidor to which he could repair and where he was unhampered as was General Percival in Singapore by a large civilian population. The Japanese, when they could spare the troops, came back and mopped him up in a short time. Other critics have said that the people of Malaya would have fought better if they had been independent countries. What absolute nonsense. You have Siam. an independent country, that 1457 did not even make a pretence of fighting and in Iraq, which owed its independence to Great Britain, the Government of the day were prepared to make a deal with the Germans.
Perhaps the best indication of the attitude of the people of Malaya to us is what has happened since. If they were as friendly to the Japanese as some of our critics suggest, all I can say is that the Japanese have not rewarded their friendliness with what they might have expected. The first thing the Japanese did was to give away to Siam lour out of the five unfederated States, and now the whole of North Malaya is incorporated in Siam. The treatment of the Chinese appears to have been so appalling that one hardly dares to mention the details. I received a letter from a Chinese friend of mine at Chungking a few weeks ago, and I would like to read one extract from it. He says:When the Japanese entered Singapore the first day they killed 5,000 of our people. On the second day they divided Singapore into several sections and got all our people from the houses into the streets for the purpose of checking. They were left in that condition three days and three nights without food or shelter. Five men were chosen by the Japanese to scrutinise the people so as to find out whether they were anti-Japanese or not. These five men sat with faces covered at a table and by simply nodding their head would send people to their fate. Over 50,000 young women and young men were taken away to an unknown destination, and not a single one came back. The people all pray day and night for a speedy recovery of Malaya by the Allied Forces so as to rescue them from tyranny.That is a letter from a Chinese friend of mine who has escaped during the past six or seven months from occupied China. There you have the Japanese record in Malaya. This is my point. For four years our own Government here have allowed this spate of criticism and worse to go out about our rule in Malaya and also about that campaign and not a member of the Government has ever thought fit to go to the microphone or in any other way to explain what happened and to disprove this scandalous criticism. Our men who are going to go there and risk and in many cases give their lives will want to know for what they are going to fight. Are they going to Malaya and into Burma as liberators or as conquerors? Are they going to think of themselves as men who are going into these British territories to liberate their own fellow British subjects or are they going to have dinned 1458 into their ears as they have had it dinned into their ears up to now that they will be unwelcome when they land and that it is a good thing that the Japanese came there in the first instance? How are we going to get on with our fellow British subjects in Malaya if we start fighting by regarding them as traitors and people who stabbed us in the back? In this campaign we must get the psychological approach right not only for our own Forces but for our Allies. I am not prepared to put on any white sheets or hair shirts over the British record in Malaya. It is a wonderful story of a country which in 50 years was transformed by the energy and initiative and by the honest administration of our own people from a worthless jungle into the richest part of Asia. After the war we have to finish that job, but before we can finish it we have to reconquer the country. Let us undertake the task not with a sense of inferiority complex or with a sense of shame but with a sense of pride with what we have done.
§ Mr. Burgin (Luton)
The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) to which we have just listened, with his description of what happened in the Far East, and with which I shall very largely find myself in agreement, is one of the profound justifications for the decision of our own Foreign Minister and the other great leaders of the United Nations to have that first Conference at Cairo in which the discussion was so largely centred upon the war against Japan. I can imagine nothing better at the present moment, when we are all so desirous that British and American sentiment should continue to walk step by step, that the first Conference of the leaders of the nations should have as its object the war against Japan. We must never let America be in any doubt as to our intentions that the war against Japan is just as vital a part of the overthrow of tyranny as the war against Germany, our, own nearer enemies.
One fact has occurred since this House last met. The length of the present war has already outstripped that of the last world war. It was natural therefore that when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs came to give his report on these world-important Conferences that he should have been listened to by an all-expectant House, and indeed, 1459 listened to by the entire world. Matters of enormous significance occurred at these Conferences. Necessarily they are in the future and if I have questions to put to His Majesty's Government in the course of the few minutes that I propose to detain the House, they will be asking how soon these proposals of the future may be put into the present indicative, how far the hopes of what is to be may become the actual and immediate bringing to bear on the anatomy of the geography of the enemy this great power which is already that of an alliance.
I think the House heard with very confident interest what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had to say. Naturally, my right hon. Friend has a somewhat difficult task. Much of the really important decisions necessary cannot be revealed and an account of Conferences at which the great leaders of United Nations attend cannot differ very much from an account of the previous Conferences, and if you are tied by secrecy and by reasons of strategy and of great military importance from giving the decisions that were actually arrived at it does naturally lose a great deal of its colour. But what immensely significant facts those Conferences really convey. What have Marco Polo and Vasco da Gama upon some of these great leaders of the nations who brave the seas and fly the oceans and who do not mind the snow of the Arctic or the heat of the desert, and who are coming from immense distances, at great personal hazards too, in order that they may confer with General Chiang Kai-shek, the representative of a civilisation dating back into the dim past, who first met President Roosevelt in the sight of the pyramids, another civilisation going back a tremendous distance? I wonder which is the older, the Egyptian or the Chinese civilisation. When one thinks that at one time the very place where the Conference took place was regarded almost as the battle line of Egypt, one realises how the tide of good fortune has flowed on the side of the Allies. At Teheran, the capital of Persia, how fortunate the world was to have as the reigning Monarch of Persia such an enlightened Shah, who had much of his education at a very famous school in Switzerland, who learned international law, international appreciation, and so much that counts to make his participation in world events of such importance.
1460 I think the world's imagination has been captured by President Roosevelt's sense of Oriental behaviour in accepting at once the invitation of Marshal Stalin to have his dwelling in the hall of the Soviet Embassy. No one of us who has had any experience of the East will undervalue the stories which will be told in the bazaars of the leader of the Western Republic, who knew what Oriental hospitality meant, and knew what the world would think of the great leader of America, who accepted Premier Stalin's invitation, who left his own United States Embassy at Teheran and went as the guest of Marshal Stalin to the Soviet Embassy. That was a gesture of extreme politeness which had a far wider effect in the East than those of us sitting in comfort in the West are always able to appreciate.
I was very glad my right hon. Friend in his account of these Conferences, paid such a deserved tribute to the services of the interpreters. That is a subject specially near to my own heart. Interpretation is not at all the same thing as a knowledge of languages. Interpretation means catching the spirit of the one who is speaking and transferring that idea to another's understanding. There is many a Britisher who is a good interpreter who knows no word of a foreign language, because he is able to interpret the thought of one into something that the mind of another can understand. In a very real sense our own Prime Minister is a magnificent interpreter of the British point of view, because he makes it understood by other minds. I know something of all these countries where the gatherings have taken place and something of the nationalities of the groups round the tables, and my right hon. Friend, with his experience in Geneva before the war, as well as of other conferences, will know something of the enormous value that a good interpreter can be in giving an accurate reflection of one speaker's mind to another. I am sure that in his tribute to the interpreters my right hon. Friend would include also all the staffs who, behind the scenes, translate those interpretations and rough headings into actual detailed schedules of the topics of conversation.
Perhaps what interested me most in my right hon. Friend's speech was the frequent use of the word "Political." Of course, these Conferences had as their main object questions of strategy, questions 1461 essentially of military value. How right it was to assert that there were political issues running all the way through the agenda of the Conferences. The act of liberation of any country from the occupation of the enemy is a political act, as we have seen from Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Liberation is itself political and, side by side with military strategic discussions, however important may be their value, are these immensely important political questions which may transcend in immediate effect, and in terms of shortening the war, some of the actual military decisions themselves in importance.
The House did not expect military revelations. No one expected for a moment that the Foreign Secretary would be able to reveal plans. No one would have thought of asking anything of the kind, but perhaps I may tell my right hon. Friend some of the matters that are passing through the mind of the man in the street. It is difficult for a layman to comment upon such a report as we have heard to-day of the events of these Conferences. The ordinary individual feels so powerless and so impotent. Here is the whole world a stage. Here are the masses of the United Nations, here is the encircled enemy. What can one pair of hands, what can one mind, what can one speech do to clarify the situation? The demand that is going up from the peoples of the world is the answer to these questions. When is the weight of armour of the Allies going to be brought to bear upon the body politic of the enemy? When is the admitted naval supremacy, when is the admitted air superiority, when is the piling-up of the arms and the growth of armies going to be so mar-shalled that its effect may be seen rather than looked for in the future? The Russian Armies sweep on, but even so, as Lord Hankey pointed out this week-end, they are 300 miles from the frontier of East Prussia. The Armies in Italy are making progress, and the road to Rome becomes shorter. All Africa is cleared. The Mediterranean is re-opened. The enemy is encircled. There is not a single spot in Germany or any of her satellite countries which is not now within bombing range, both by day and night, of the Allied power. When is all this superiority going to be brought to bear and to be felt by the enemy?
1462 We read in the Press that the Ministry of Supply is reducing its staff. We learn from the American Press that so many men in the armaments industry are surplus to requirements and that it is possible to release tens of thousands to be relegated to the manufacture of articles of civilian requirement. If that means that all the requirements of the Army in this country have been provided for for as long forward as one can calculate, if it means that every article of useful application in the waging of war in America has already been made, well and good. But some ask whether that is really the right deduction to be made. Some of us say, particularly about the second Cairo Conference, Is there anything that Turkey lacks that we might be able to supply? Has the lesson been learned by all the countries of the world that transport is the vital essence of any modern Army? Has the lesson yet been learned that such is mobile warfare that the quantity of armour and fighting vehicles required by a nation is almost past belief? Are we really to say that those hands that have been discharged by one nation or are being released back to civilian work by another could not be better employed in making something that the world wants? These questions are not asked in any spirit of petulance and are not asked in order that any immediate reply may be given, but in order that the Government may realise what is being said up and down the country by groups of men and women who meet together and ask these questions of Members of the House. They say the Navy and the escort vessels chase the U-boats and have deserved success. Aircraft carriers bear the planes and make a most useful contribution. Here and there a larger ship bombards the coast, but is the main strength of the capital ship being used at all or being used adequately?
In the realm of the air Leipzig was a tremendous success. Those of us who had some experience of the last war know of the infinite variety of the use of smoke and artillery in order to disguise where the infantry thrust was to be. How many times in France was there a violent smoke attack at one side and a smoke attack at the other, with artillery preparation between, and the enemy fooled into thinking the infantry attack would follow the artillery, whereas of course the infantry attack was switched somewhere else. Our 1463 bombers turned and attacked Leipzig at a moment when all Leipzig's firemen were in Berlin awaiting the raid that did not come. All that seems to show that the tactics that were used on the Western front may apply in the realm of the air. Is this naval supremacy and air superiority being brought to bear as much and as quickly as it possibly can every time? Those are the types of question that are being asked by the man in the street. These Conferences appeal to the imagination. Nothing could be better than that the leaders of the United Nations should know one another and talk on intimate terms. Nothing is better than that the Foreign Secretary should discuss with the representatives of China post-war associations between our two countries, if I rightly understood him to say that that was one of the matters that he discussed. I hope also that those discussions as to post-war matters took place also with the representatives of Soviet Russia. We recognise that in these world Conferences there have been matters discussed of the greatest importance not only to our generation, but to generations of all time, and we thank the Foreign Secretary for his part in them. We thank him for the explanations he has given to this House, and we say to him, "Let all these plans for applying the might of the Allies to the enemy be put into practice, and the sooner the better."
§ Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)
I am sure the right hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Burgin) will excuse me if I do not devote any of the short time I propose to take up to the very interesting speech he has made, but I wish to confine my remarks to one of the Foreign Secretary's statements on which I should like, and on which I am sure the House would like, to have some further information. The question which I desire to ask is, whether the Government can give the House some more precise information as to the policy which they have in mind in regard to the emerging problem in Eastern Europe, of a conflict between the peoples and the Governments of two or three of the countries concerned? I have in mind, in particular, Yugoslavia. The same applies, in a lesser degree, to Greece and to Italy, but, in any case, I think we all appreciate that as we get nearer to a maximum offensive, in pursuance of the decisions arrived at at Cairo and at Teheran, and come to 1464 the point of deploying the Allied Forces in the South of Europe—I need not remind Members that the scheme of the offensive includes the West, the East and the South—as we come nearer to applying the Allied offensive in the South, it is of the utmost importance that we should carry with us at that time the maximum support and good will of the peoples in the enemy occupied countries.
What are the facts at the present time? They are known to all of us, and I do not want, in my speech, to raise acute controversial issues. But the facts are pretty well known, and they ought to be faced, that there is a strong division of opinion, particularly in Yugoslavia and Greece, as to what the Allies' intentions are regarding those countries, and as to the form of free government to which they will be entitled when the war comes to an end. It is, therefore, very important that every effort and every statement should be made that can be made to render that position as clear as possible.
§ Major Petherick (Penryn and Falmouth)
May I interrupt my hon. Friend? He used the expression "form of free government to which they are entitled." They are entitled to any form of government they wish.
§ Mr. Riley
Quite. I said "free government," and may I remind my hon. and gallant Friend in that matter that I am basing my statement on Article 3 of the Atlantic Charter, which says that the Allies shall respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they wish to live? That is all. May I take, for a moment, the position of Yugoslavia? The position of Yugoslavia at the present time, as we are all aware, is that there are now two Governments in existence. There are one Government at Cairo and a second Government in Yugoslavia itself, elected by the liberation forces. In that connection, I am sure we were all glad to hear from the Foreign Secretary that the Allies are giving generous support to the Forces working under Marshal Tito, and that we have a liaison delegation in contact with General Tito's Forces.
What is the position on the other side? On the other side we have a Government which was formed two or three weeks ago by delegates in Yugoslavia itself, drawn from all parts of the country where transport was available, and representing all 1465 the elements of the people in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, standing and fighting for its liberation. In that Government we have one which conforms to the ideal for which we and our Allies are standing in this great struggle—fighting for the right of the peoples to establish their own forms of government. On the other hand, in Cairo, there is an exile Government, none of whose members—and I ask the House to bear this in mind—claim even to have any mandate whatever for any section of the Yugoslav people. It is a Government of six persons who have never been identified with the democratic, political work in Yugoslavia. They were only officials and such like personalities. They hold office under the direction of a Prime Minister, Monsieur Pourich, who was, I believe, a civil servant—at any rate he has no mandate from political forces in the country over which he assumes to rule—and they are issuing orders in Cairo as to what Yugoslavia shall do. I see in this morning's Press that they are calling upon the Forces of Marshal Tito to recognise the jurisdiction of General Mihailovitch, who is one of the six members of that exile Cairo Government and the only one at present in Yugoslavia, to accept their jurisdiction, to forsake the organisation of Marshal Tito and to accept instructions from General Mihailovitch.
In that connection I want to ask whether the Under-Secretary, or whoever is going to reply for the Government, will make it quite clear whether the Government are going to give support to Marshal Tito and his Forces fighting the common enemy for the liberation of Yugoslavia, and also to General Mihailovitch, and what are the conditions on which such support is to be given. It is common knowledge that during the course of the last two and a half years General Mihailovitch has been in collaboration, first, with the Italians, before the fall of Italy, receiving arms from them, and, within recent months, it is rumoured—I do not know how true it is—that he has tried to make contacts with the puppet Government set up in Yugoslavia by the Germans under the Prime Minister Neditch. It is very important that the Allied Governments should make it perfectly clear that we cannot play a double game of giving support to those who have unequivocally shown by their actual fighting that they are fighting against the aggressor and on behalf of the people, and also to that section of the 1466 military direction which has alliances with the enemy.
I should like to have some more information as to whether that position is quite clear. I noticed in the Foreign Secretary's speech his cordial references to the part which Marshal Tito and his Forces are playing in the great fight. We have all seen the records in the newspapers of the guerrilla activities in Yugoslavia. On the other hand, the reports indicate that the Mihailovitch section which does not have its foundations in any democratic mandate from the people, receives its orders from the exile Government in Cairo, which represents only 12,000 or 15,000 at the outside.
I ask, therefore, that the Government shall speak with no uncertain voice with regard to this problem in Eastern Europe, and that they shall make it crystal clear to the Forces fighting on the side of the Allies, who have proved their worth and reliability, that the Allied Governments will recognise their rights as a people to choose their own Government and not have a Government imposed upon them, nor a King either for that matter, but that they shall have, in accordance with the principles of the Atlantic Charter, the right as a people to settle their own form of government. I do not want, as I am sure none of us wants, to say an offensive word against the brilliant efforts of the Prime Minister or of his stimulating speeches which he gives to us from time to time, but I was very much disturbed, as I feel sure many other Members were, some three months ago when he expressed the view that he hoped the time was not far distant when the King of Greece and the King of Yugoslavia would be restored to their thrones. I thought that was a most unfortunate statement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because it is not in consonance with what we are fighting for.
§ Major Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
Is it in Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for an insinuation of that character to be made against a Monarch of an Allied country?
§ Mr. Riley
I said that I did not want to say anything offensive, but I suggest that it is no use mincing matters. It is necessary that these things should be said. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] That our actions should not belie the expressions of our principles, as we have set them forth. We have to make it clear 1467 to the world that we are not playing in this war the role of restoring fallen Kings to their thrones. It is the right of people to choose their own way of government. We do know that in the case of the King of Greece he violated the Constitution by authorising Metaxas—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman ought to pursue that line of thought. He is not entitled to reflect on the Sovereigns of friendly nations.
§ Mr. Riley
Well, then, I will not pursue it in words, but I hope, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you will not suppress my thoughts. I will only add that one is glad to find that since that remarkable speech by the Prime Minister, to which I have just referred, there have been signs recently that the persons to whom he referred had been learning their lesson and that now there is a disposition not to build on the idea that thrones should be restored, but that the matter should be left to the people. That is all I want to say, except to emphasise that it is essential to the Allied cause that our attitude and our declarations as a Government, both as a British Government and as a part of the Allied Governments, should be clear to the peoples in Southern Europe and that they are to have the right of free peoples to choose their own Government.
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
I want to speak shortly on a question which was not touched upon by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in his extraordinarily interesting speech, which dealt almost entirely with three great Conferences as they affected the war and the war situation itself. My right hon. Friend did not deal with the international issues with regard to the postwar settlement or measures for the relief of those vast numbers of unhappy people for whom our victory may come too late. Perhaps if he winds up the Debate he may be able to say a few words to relieve our anxiety about some of these topics.
I wonder whether hon. Members remember that precisely a year ago next Friday there was that memorable scene in the House when the Foreign Secretary, on behalf of the United Nations, disclosed the horrible truths about the cruelties being perpetrated on innumerable Jewish victims on no other ground than their Jewish race. 1468 Spontaneously Members of the House rose to their feet and for a moment stood in a silent tribute of pity and horror for the victims. Ever since then the atrocities have continued, and they are continuing day by day. The number of victims has risen from hundreds of thousands to millions, and they are not confined to the Jewish race. In addition, thousands of Czechs, Poles and Russians have perished, although the Jews have been most ruthlessly slaughtered. In Poland alone it is estimated that between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 Jews have been massacred, starved or worked to death by unspeakably sadistic methods. Every week brings news in the Press of the dreadful truck loads of victims that are going across Europe to the murder camps of Poland, from one European country after another, from France and from Holland, most recently from Greece. We have been promised punishment for the war criminals, but that will not restore the dead to life. With its usual keen sense of the practical, British public opinion fastened immediately, after the statement of a year ago, on the question, "What can be done for rescue before it is too late?"
There has seldom been a more spontaneous and widespread agitation, irrespective of class, creed or political party, than followed that declaration. Perhaps the most weightily signed cable ever sent to a British statesman was that which was sent to the Foreign Secretary when he was in Washington last spring. It ran:British conscience so deeply stirred that nation prepared for any sacrifice consistent with not delaying victory.What was the result? In actual rescue pitiably little, but we know the Government, in consultation with other Governments, have been doing something and planning more. Five months after the December declaration by the Foreign Secretary a conference between our own and the United States Governments met at Bermuda. We were told at the time very little about the results and were asked not to press for more information on the ground that disclosures might frustrate the action that was being taken. So we abstained from pressure and I abstain today from asking for information if there is reason to think that it might frustrate the measures being taken. But last Saturday a Press statement was issued by the Foreign Secretary, and simultaneously in 1469 the United States, which carried the matter a step further. It was a statement on the Bermuda Conference and subsequent developments, and I shall be on safe ground if I take the text of my few remarks from that statement. It told us—as of course we knew already—that the whole subject, both of immediate rescue and of the post-war settlement of refugees, had been referred to the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees, which was originally set up at Evian. I must say, in passing, that I was rather astonished at the reply I received from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State when I asked him a Question a few weeks ago about the position of the Inter-Governmental Committee and its activities. The right hon. Gentleman did not give me the information but recommended me to inquire from the London office of that Committee. That surprised not only myself but some of my friends, who have much greater international experience in these matters. As one Noble Lord—an asknowledged authority—put it to me, it was as though Members of Parliament when they asked for information about the activities of the League of Nations had been referred to the Secretariat at Geneva. That, he said, had never been done. It has always been taken for granted that Parliament could get information about the League of Nations, and I hope that that is the intention in regard to this Committee, in which our Government must inevitably play a leading part.
As regards information about practical activities, given in the recent published statement, there is one point I would like to call attention to because it seems to me extremely important. It concerns the help which may be given or promised to neutral States in order to encourage them to take in more refugees. The importance of that is that until we have successfully invaded the occupied territories where all these persecutions are taking place, the one chance of large-scale rescue depends upon the action of the neutral States. Two things can happen. Refugees can creep secretly over the frontiers into neutral States. That is happening, and usually, we are told, they are very seldom sent back. But it seems that such escape is only possible for active and daring adults. Neither children nor parents with young children can escape. The only chance of rescue for them is when the enemy can 1470 be persuaded to let them go. We cannot persuade the enemy; only the neutrals can do it. I shall be told that some neutrals have tried to do it and that their offers have been refused. But is not that ignoring the changing war situation? Can we doubt that as our victory draws near the Nazis and, still more, the satellite nations, are becoming increasingly aware of the danger of further outraging world opinion and may yield to pressure where formerly they hardened their hearts.
There are just two things we can do to influence the result. We should convince the enemy that this is a matter about which we care passionately, so much so that if they continue with their massacres and cruelties it may affect their future position and our treatment, after victory, of their peoples. Secondly, we must make it possible for neutral States to offer large-scale hospitality. Are we doing that? There appears in the published statement a point which arouses some anxiety. It foreshadows the help which is to be given or promised to neutral States in maintaining their refugees until they can be repatriated. But it says nothing about those who can never be repatriated. There must be large numbers to whom repatriation will be practically an impossibility, who can never be asked or forced to return to countries where all their nearest relations have been murdered, where their homes are in ruins or have been expropriated, where anti-Semitism is so deeply rooted that it will take a generation to root it out or where political difficulties are such as to make a return impossible. What is to be done about these people? Obviously, the small Allied nations cannot be expected to do more than maintain and repatriate their own nationals. They cannot be expected to offer hospitality to other foreigners in their ravaged territories. The two countries that could do something are we, with the help of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the United States.
Cannot we promise to take responsibility, not for unlimited numbers, but for a proportion of the refugees accepted by the neutral States, possibly after some given date and so make it possible for the neutral States to offer to take further large numbers? Some have been very generous already. What is the difficulty? As for the United States, the Press statement says that since 1938 they have taken in 195,000 foreign immigrants, most of them refugees. 1471 That number is less than one-third of the number whom the United States might have admitted in those five years under their existing yearly immigration quotas. Surely, therefore, they could afford to promise a fairly substantial measure of post-war generosity. As to ourselves, the same statement said that we took in since May, 1940, some 60,000 refugees and that we are still admitting them at the rate of about 800 a month. Let us be honest about that. The recent admissions are made on a strictly utilitarian basis. Nearly all are admitted because they are wanted for the Armed Forces or the Merchant Service of ourselves or our Allies. Nearly all of them are people who would be repatriated after the war. So we, like the United States, could afford to take some responsibility for those in neutral States who cannot be repatriated. We could find room for some of them in this country; for larger numbers in Palestine, because even under the meagre White Paper quotas arranged before the war there is still room for 34,000 more Jews. We could also find room in our Colonies and try and persuade the Dominions to take their share.
Suppose the enemy refuses to let them go after the neutral States offer to have them in. So much the worse for the enemy, and let the Nazis and their satellites know that it will be so. We shall at least have relieved our consciences. Suppose however that the enemy were willing to let them go, but the neutral States felt unwilling to make the offer because they lacked assurance of present help and of future relief from the burden of non-repatriatable refugees.
That, I suggest, would be a terrible responsibility for us. We should by our refusal to give this kind of assurance have abandoned to death thousands of men, women and children who we might have saved. We have already got a special responsibility in this matter of refugees because of our relation to Palestine. If it had not been for the restrictions placed on immigration to Palestine in pre-war years, even before the Palestinian White Paper, imposed partly for economic reasons and partly to please the Arabs, tens of thousands of men, women and children who now lie in bloody graves would long ago have been among their kindred in Palestine. That is something 1472 I shall never forget, and I hope the House will never forget it either.
As to more recent policy, here I am going to speak plainly. I claim to know as much on this subject as anyone in the House, outside official circles, and I perhaps know almost as much as anyone in England. But there are many others who like me think of this terrible question day and night. It is on our consciences all the time. We are not satisfied that the utmost has been done for rescue. We know that the difficulties have been enormous. We do not belittle them. We know that the vast majority of the victims are outside our reach. They can never be relieved nor rescued except by final victory, and that may come too late to save them. But more might have been saved if more courage, resource and imagination had been put into the task. Shipping has been grudged, though it is often found for far less vital services. Visas are most grudgingly and sparingly given. They are always given on utilitarian grounds. The test is not, "Is this man or woman in danger?." but, "Do we want them for our own purposes?" Neither we nor the United States have shown a shining example to the world in this matter. We who are working on this subject find ourselves continually in this dilemma. If we say publicly all we know and clamour for all we want, we are told that we are informing the enemy and hampering efforts that might otherwise be planned. So we have kept silent for months and damped down public agitation. Then nothing happens or very little that is apparent happens. It really seems as though the authorities go to sleep. Consider the timing of such action as has been taken. Five months elapse between the declaration of last December and the calling of the Bermuda Conference. Then another three months elapsed before the Inter-Governmental Committee to which the whole matter was referred began to meet. Even now the Committee as a whole has not met; only its small and curiously composed executive has met, and most of the countries chiefly concerned are not represented on it. That is not the way to tackle a task on which the lives of thousands of innocent, people depend.
Now we have this published statement. At first reading it sounds all right. It promises some action, but it fails to deal 1473 with the crucial question which I pointed out just now—what is to happen to the refugees who cannot be repatriated, and what are we going to do to make it easier for the neutral States to offer them hospitality? I beseech my right hon. Friend and through him the Cabinet to give further thought to this matter. Do not let them be content with urging our Allies to repatriate their own nationals. Most of them have promised to do that without being asked. Let them not be content with urging the neutral States to take larger numbers in. Let them say plainly what we are prepared to do ourselves and to ask our Dominions and the United States what they are prepared to do. If the Government do that it will have the support of every section of opinion in the country worth consideration. Do not let them be deterred by the mean jealousies and selfish fears of a mere handful of contemptible people who have been influenced by anti-Semitic or by anti-foreigner propaganda. The agitation which took place only last week about the release of Oswald Mosley, though I did not join in it or approve of it, at least showed what the country thinks of Fascism and all the works of Fascism. Our people and the people of the United States are both generous-hearted and deeply humane peoples. Do not let us forget, too, that both these peoples are, professedly at least, Christian peoples. Then let them remember the example of Chaucer's priest of whom it was said,Christ's law and that of his apostles twelve he taught,But first be followed it himself.
§ Sir Edward Campbell (Bromley)
We listened with great interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. One thing in which I am particularly interested was his reference to the Conference in connection with the war in the Far East. The Dutch have large territories in the Far East which are at present in the hands of the Japanese. If we have not heard either during the Conference or to-day anything of the Governments having co-operated with or considered the question with the Dutch, I sincerely hope that the American, the Chinese and the British Governments will seek their advice. They can learn a lot from the Dutch out in the Far East. I suppose that no one knows Far Eastern waters better than do 1474 the Dutch. They have had ships and aeroplanes there, and some of their authorities know the position very well indeed, and I therefore ask the Secretary of State to do his best to collaborate with our very good friends the Dutch people. A little while ago I was asked by various Governments to broadcast in Dutch to Europe, because the Germans had spread a rumour that the British intended taking over the Dutch East Indies after the war. We know that to be absolute nonsense, but we want our friends in Holland and overseas to know it too, and I had the honour and pleasure of being able to inform our enemies as well as our Allies that there was not a word of truth in that statement. Therefore, I beg of the Secretary of State and our Government to keep in touch with the Dutch people, to show that they will seek their collaboration and that we shall do all we can to assist the Dutch as well as the rest of the Allies.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
Like the hon. Member for Bromley (Sir E. Campbell), I want to turn to the Far East and consider the first Cairo Conference, but I want to consider it from rather a different aspect, from the aspect of the Chinese campaign. We have fought against Fascism for four years now, and our people are beginning to feel the strain. They will continue the fight, but no one can doubt that they do feel the strain. What is the position of the Chinese people, who have been fighting on and off, with only a short break for 12 years, since 1931? Let us never forget that they were the first people to meet Fascist aggression, and that they have stood up against it to this day. They have stood out at great cost. I will not weary the House with many figures, but it has been estimated from reliable sources that during this period the Chinese have lost 6,000,000 soldiers in killed and wounded. There are 2,000,000 Chinese war orphans, and, after all, Chinese children are no different in their feelings from British children; Chinese war orphans suffer just as much as British war orphans. There are also 50,000,000 homeless people in China, people who are going from their homes not just in motor cars but in carts, in wheelbarrows, in rickshaws, in anything they can get hold of, and on foot. Year after year there has been this great exodus of people driven from their homes by the Japanese. Then, again, it is not 1475 only a question of what the enemy has done; nature too has played a part. We have heard something lately about the famine in India, and everybody has been moved by the horror of the sufferings of people in Bengal, but that is only one famine. There have been famines in China during all these years, which have cost the lives of millions of people over and above those killed in the war against Japan. China has fought both Fascism and famine for 12 long years.
It may be said, "Yes, that is all very interesting, but what does it mean to us?" I submit in all seriousness that we owe a great debt to China. I would submit that we owe nothing less than the preservation of India and Australia. That is a very bold thing to say, but what was the situation? The hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans), in a speech to which I listened with great interest, referred to the campaign in Malaya. I would not dream of entering into any discussion with him as to whether the policy pursued in Malaya was right or wrong. He has had great experience of that country. My own opinion is that we pursued the wrong policy. But, in any case, what happened? We found ourselves driven gradually—well not gradually, but rapidly—back on to our defences, back through Malaya, back out of Singapore, back through the Dutch East Indies almost to the shores of Australia. In the other direction we were driven right through Burma to the frontier of India. That was by a Japanese army which had already been "winged" by the Chinese, which had been fighting for 10 years. What would have happened supposing the Japanese had been fresh, supposing they had never fought any Chinese campaign? If that had been the case who is going to say the Japanese would have stood either in New Guinea or on the frontiers of India? I think by now they would have been both in Sydney and in Delhi; certainly they would have been in either one or the other.
I have spoken of China's struggle and what it means to us. I would now come to what we can do to help. I do not ask the Foreign Secretary, obviously it would be foolish to do so, what offers of help were made at the Conference in Cairo—he cannot tell us—but I hope that 1476 he made two. I hope in the first place that he made an offer of help in the Burma campaign. I know it is all very well to stand here and suggest that troops should go forward into the Burma jungle; it is easy enough to do that. But the campaign in Burma affords the only direct way of helping the Chinese to-day. It must help them considerably if it draws off Japanese forces. Is it possible for us to develop that campaign? What will happen if we do not? People maintain that China will hold out in any event. People said that about another great country, about France. They said "Do not let us worry, the French nation will hold out for ever," but they found afterwards that even in spite of the Maginot line France did not hold out for ever. Supposing the unthinkable were to happen and the Chinese were to say "We have waited for your help in Burma, we have fought for many long years, and the time has come when even we can continue to fight no longer." It is a possibility. I do not say it is likely to happen, but should we trade on the bravery of the Chinese people, should we delay even for a moment a further campaign in Burma if this is possible.
I come now to another, perhaps an easier, way in which we might help the Chinese people, and that is by supplies. Not long ago I asked the Foreign Secretary a Question with one purpose in view, to bring out what we had already done to help the Chinese in equipping their Armies. I know we have done much in that direction, I know the difficulties of getting supplies through owing to the Burma Road being in Japanese hands, and the immense journeys planes have to make in going to Chungking, but can we do a little more to send some supplies? Here I must tread upon somewhat delicate ground. I understand that China is in what is called the American sphere. I have the greatest possible friendship for the American people, but I cannot help reflecting that, after all, Europe may be said to be our sphere, and yet nobody complains that to-day London is to all intents and purposes an American armed camp. Nobody complains that we see far more American troops than British walking up and down the street—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I say that is so. Why should there be any objection if, I would not say British troops, but 1477 British planes and R.A.F. personnel, joined with Americans in China?
There was the very sorry spectacle some months ago—a year or 18 months ago, I think—when British R.A.F. personnel were in Chungking and, unfortunately, had no planes. They became the laughing stock of the people there. They were called "the Englishmen without wings." That was a terrible position to place R.A.F. men in, and we should send planes, perhaps not a vast quantity but some, to fight beside the American forces in China and to show the Chinese that we just as much as the Americans are interested in the preservation of Chinese freedom.
I come finally to the post-war question. I congratulate the Government upon the abolition of extra-territoriality. It is a very fine step to have taken and to have got agreement between Great Britain and America upon this all-important step. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will state categorically that we now recognise China as a complete equal in every possible respect and that there is no holding back at all and no feeling that in some way she may still be inferior. Is she in fact a complete equal, as much an equal as Russia and America? I hope that he may say "Of course," but this cannot be stated often enough, in view of the very grave misgivings which our past actions have created in China. When our ships, our planes and our merchants go out to China after the war, will they go out as equals, without any protection from Britain, other than is accorded to British subjects going to any other country? Will they be treated in fact exactly the same as British subjects going to any other part of the world? Will they depend entirely upon Chinese hospitality? I hope they will, because unless that is so we cannot say that China is yet treated as an equal. I believe she is an equal but I would like an assurance on that point. I hope that after the war we shall send many merchants and many planes to China, because China will have need of our goods. I understand on reliable figures that China will need 100,000 miles of railway, 1,000,000 miles of road, 2,250,000 tractors and motors and 12,000 planes, if she is to be set on her feet and properly equipped after the war. We can play a part in the sending of that stupendous quantity of goods needed by China to build herself 1478 into a first-class nation. But I ask that we should help China, not just because she is a potential market or because she has helped us. I ask it above all because the Chinese, like the British, are a brave people, and the brave should help the brave.
§ Mr. Purbrick (Liverpool, Walton)
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told us that since the landing in Italy our casualties have been about 36,000 men, up to three weeks ago. Since then they have increased. That figure does not include the casualties that we have incurred in the Dodecanese Islands. During the Debate on the Address my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) drew attention to the disaster we had sustained at Cos and Leros and afterwards at Samos, and he expressed the opinion that the House was entitled to a much fuller explanation than that given by the Government of the reason for the occupation of those islands. I think That not only the House but the country at large are anxious to know the reasons, because there is a very grave feeling of dissatisfaction in connection with the matter.
The Lord Privy Seal gave two reasons for this operation. The first was to help the attack on Italy by causing the Germans to disperse their forces. I look upon that as a very feeble excuse because the number of troops that the Germans required for the operation in the Dodecanese was infinitesimal, a very small number compared with the millions of Germans in the field and it had very little effect on their main forces. Although the Germans drove us out of these islands and have reoccupied them with their own forces it does not seem to have had much effect on their defensive campaign in Italy. The second reason given was to take advantage of those fleeting opportunities which the collapse of Italy brought in its train. I must confess that I do not follow this excuse. Certainly the opportunity was very fleeting. We no sooner walked in than we were driven out again. I ask for some enlightenment as to what the right hon. Gentleman meant in regard to this matter.
Then my right hon. Friend the Minister of Production endeavoured to explain away this operation by saying that we were launching three amphibious operations practically at the same time, which 1479 we were unable to do. Surely, the commander-in-chief in the Middle East knew what Forces he had at his disposal or what he would require to carry out his purpose. It seems to me to be the height of folly to embark on a campaign which, from the beginning, had no chance of success. It was nonsense for my right hon. Friend to talk as he did about taking risks. A well-thought-out risk is very often worth while taking, but it is foolhardy to fake risks which have no chance of success and which are taken with a fore-knowledge of failure.
His analysis of the situation is one with which I cannot agree. In Sardinia we had already occupied the country without very much resistance from the Germans. Neither Sardinia nor Corsica was of much value to them, and they evacuated the latter before we got there. Corsica is of no value as a base. If it has any airfields at all, they are mere pocket handkerchiefs. There were two little ports, one on the north-east and one on the south-west which can accommodate no vessels to speak of, and anyhow the French had already occupied Corsica before we got there. I know this country well, as I know Salerno, Naples, and the Dodecanese Islands themselves, and I unhesitatingly affirm that our occupation of Corsica, while it was desirable to help to restore the prestige of our French friends there, was of no practical value from a military point of view.
I repudiate the suggestion that the occupation of Corsica and Sardinia represented an entry to the French Riviera and to the Rhone Valley. They were useless as bases for the Germans, and are equally useless for us. Of course, the occupation of the Dodecanese Islands is an essential preliminary if we were going to make an invasion of Europe through Greece and the Balkans. We could not leave them behind us in the occupation of the enemy; but we were not ready to invade. Until we are, why nibble at the bait in this fashion? Maybe it was done to impress Turkey and bring her in on our side, but if so I must say that our short occupation did not bring this about and that our retreat must have had quite the opposite effect.
Take our attack on Salerno, another madcap adventure. We took a grave risk; and it just came off, but at what a cost. 1480 We know how many lives we lost. We wanted to get to the north of Italy, and we are not very far up there yet. Since Salerno, we have been losing lives daily and are going on losing them. What is the object at this time of the Italian campaign? Our gallant troops have been hammering away for many weeks at strong positions well defended. We are making a little headway, but at this rate it is going to take us a long time to get into Germany this way, and a great deal of senseless devastation of Italy will take place in the meantime. I suggest that, having captured the Southern part of Italy and with the use of our Navy against the ports in the Northern part, we could have safeguarded the Mediterranean for our shipping. It seems to me that we are playing Germany's game and squandering our men's lives and our resources in this Italian attack. The right hon. Gentleman said that the weather has been holding up our offensive. He said that repeatedly during his speech. Anyone who knows the country knows that the weather in the winter in that part of Italy, the plains of Lombardy, is worse even than the weather in this country. I am sure that I am more an optimist than a pessimist, but I cannot see where this action in landing in Italy is leading us under present conditions—
§ Mr. Purbrick
I will come to that in a moment. One of the worst features of this campaign against Italy in its effect on the war is the fact that a considerable number of heavy bombers, both of the Americans and our own, are being used in this sphere and for that reason are not available to help in the war at this end in bombing Germany. Surely, even now, the Italian campaign can be held with medium and light bombers so that we could have all these heavy bombers sent at once to this country, where we have all the aerodromes ready to receive them and all the facilities for handling them so as to help in our smashing blows on Germany's war industries?
Surely it stands to reason that we should concentrate the whole of our striking force on to Germany itself so as to smash their fighting machine at its very source. I gather from the reports that are published from time to time that something like half of Germany's war industries have already been destroyed or crippled, but our destructive 1481 work progresses slowly because we have not got our full strength of heavy bombers to enable us to go ahead more quickly with the job. The work of our Bomber Command and that of the American Bomber Air Force here is marvellous. Give them enough machines, which we have, if they would only be made available to them, and the war could be quickly brought to a conclusion. Imagine the effect of the continuous bombing by day and by night, day after day, of these German cities. The Prime Minister, in a speech some time ago, referred to reaching the saturation point of Germany's air defences. This is what we would quickly achieve with this continuous bombing. We are assured by our Air Force and by the American Air Force here that they can achieve this. Why not let us hasten this day by giving them every heavy bomber that is in use elsewhere with very little and with very much less important effect? This is going to save countless lives of our men and those of our Allies instead of launching land attacks against well defended positions. It is no good accumulating in reserve elsewhere a lot of heavy bombers for use later on for invasion purposes or for attack on Japana. These should all be brought here, our own and the Americans, and turned to the work of winning the war now.
We have found a considerable answer ourselves to the enemy's U-boat menace, and assuredly they will find sooner or later an answer to our bombing attacks. In fact they claim, with how much truth one does not know, that they are almost ready now. Be that as it may, if they do succeed in doing this it may be very disastrous to this country, and we may suffer terrible casualties here, which prompt action, before these methods can be brought to bear, can prevent. There used to be a school of thought which said that no war could be won solely from the air. I hold the opinion—and I am sure it is a sensible one when one sees the facts of results already achieved in devastating these cities of Germany—that if we augment our policy of bombing Germany to final destruction the only work left for our Armies will be to march in, more or less unopposed, to occupy it. Japan will then present no problem, as our heavy bombers will then be available to pulverise them, together with immediate action of the combined fleets of America 1482 and ourselves, and it will be no time before Japan is out of the war.
One last word on the subject of Russia. Let us be frank and realise that Russia did not come into this war to help us. She came in to defend herself when she was attacked by Germany. How enormously we have benefited by her being in the war it would be difficult to state, but it must be remembered that to enable her to hold her own and carry out her successful counter-offensives we and our Allies have given her an enormous amount of help. Though her action in going to war was not to benefit us, we have, of course, reaped enormous benefits from it. The collection of our great Armies on the Western front of Europe and elsewhere tied down millions in the German Armies and war material which would otherwise have been free to attack elsewhere. This has been of great benefit to the Russians, and in fact, if it had not been for the threat of our Forces, and Germany had been free to release hers to carry on the warfare in the East of Europe, I cannot help thinking the Russians would never be where they are to-day. Similarly, the attacks of our bombers on Germany have the effect of drawing off from the Eastern front an enormous number of enemy aeroplanes required to use against us here. This, again, has been of incalculable benefit to Russia.
I have reiterated these well known facts for the purpose of pointing out that while we will help her all we can, as in the past, we must not be turned aside from our own strategy of the war in attacking Germany in our own way merely because the Russians desire us to land an Army in Western Europe. In conclusion, I will just say if we give Harris and Eakers and Anderson all the heavy bombers they can use, they will finish off the war quickly and at the minimum cost in the lives of our gallant men.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
The hon. Member has been making it clear that every State that has gone into this war has gone in from the point of view of self-protection and self-interest. Self-interest involves acting together in the common interest. The hon. and gallant Member for North Kensington (Captain Duncan), who spoke earlier in the Debate, in an interesting speech referred to the question of Manchuria and 1483 how little at that time was the importance a the event realised, that that was the beginning of the war, and to the great unwillingness there was, in this country, to take any action about it. I do not wish to go into the history of that far away event. I think what we want to bear in mind is to learn this lesson, that for the future when any little incident of aggression occurs in any part of the world we must have ready enough apparatus of force which will react at once to nip in the bud anything which may otherwise in the course of years end up in a great world conflict.
§ Mr. Mander
The United Nations. I should like to join in the congratulations to the Foreign Secretary on the great work he has done in the last three weeks, work of infinite importance to the whole future of the world. It may be said, looking back in history, that 1943 was the Great Divide between the bad old ways of international organisation in the past and the good new ways which the United Nations intend to operate in the future. Everything depends on the way that the three great Powers get on. If good will and understanding operate, everything can be accomplished. If they do not operate, if we cannot bring them about, everything we are fighting for in this war may well fail.
I visualise the Peace Conference taking place something like this. All the Powers of the United Nations will assemble together, and the three or four great Powers will ask the smaller ones in Europe and elsewhere to do their best to agree upon the new frontiers, give them advice and guidance and every kind of help and inspiration they need to arrive at decisions by mutual concession. I think and hope that this will happen, but if after a sufficient lapse of time these countries are unable to agree among themselves the great Powers, on behalf of mankind, will say "You have had your chance. We are going to exercise our judgment in this matter, and we say that the frontiers in future will lie there, and there, and there immutably for the time being, and we will look to you to see they remain untouched, and we shall insist that they are untouched." That is the only way, to my 1484 mind, by which you can start building up a peaceful settlement and avoiding chaos and internecine warfare among the small Powers in certain parts of the world.
There has been a certain amount in the Press recently about the future of Austria, and the possibility of building up a federation around Austria is hinted at in the reports of the Moscow Conference. I should have thought that in principle it would be a very good thing if such a Danubian Federation were built up, but, once again, it depends on the relations of the three Great Powers, and upon making it abundantly clear to the Russians that what is being built up is in no way a cordon sanitaire against Russia. We may have said in the past that the form of Government inside a particular country does not matter to us. That was one of our profound errors before the war. We said, "Germany can do what she likes; Italy can do what she likes; it does not concern us." But it did concern us most profoundly. While we are saying, rightly, now that it will be for each, country, after the occupation is taken away, to settle its own form of government, I hope that we shall make it clear that that must not be a Nazi or a Fascist Government. [Interruption.] Certainly; I understand that we are fighting against Nazism and Fascism. We shall not have won the war if there are set up in various countries governments of that kind. I should be surprised if anyone challenged that. There are many alternative types of representative governments, both political and industrial, and it will be open to countries to pick and choose which they fancy; but I hope that any form of Fascism or Nazism will not be tolerated.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson (Mossley)
The hon. Member has thrown out a challenge to anybody to contest the great principle that, under the Atlantic Charter, any country may choose the government it likes, provided that it is one that the hon. Member likes. As the sole surviving Liberal in this House, I protest against that.
§ Mr. Mander
I should quite have expected that my hon. Friend would challenge that, because he is always against every view that appeals to the rest of the House. The application of what I have been saying to three countries in particular, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece, will be apparent. My right hon. Friend has told 1485 us some most interesting things about what is being done to create good will and unity within those nations. Perhaps he can give further information, when he comes to reply, on the letter issued by the King of the Hellenes. It has been differently interpreted in different organs of the Press. It has been suggested in one, for example, that he committed himself to the view, which obviously, has been pressed upon him from many quarters, that he should not return to Greece until after a plebiscite has been taken. It is not clear whether that is the intention or not. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend can throw further light on that.
I would like to refer to the speech delivered by Field Marshal Smuts the other day. He was thinking aloud: I would like for a moment, to think aloud on the same lines. I have for a long time felt a great deal of sympathy for the sort of views which he was expressing in connection with the British Empire and the organisation of Europe. I believe profoundly in those words, as applied to this country:God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.I hope that one of the results of this war will be a great increase in the influence of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I do not mean territorially; I mean spiritually, in the sphere of international leadership. We are in a position to do it, and I hope we shall ascend to the great heights of our opportunities. Obviously, anything of that kind which is done must be acceptable to our great Allies, the United States and Russia. Some form of world organisation is obviously contemplated, and is essential. There should be no individual spheres of influence. There should be spheres of influence, but they should be joint ones, in which all the great Powers should take part. I do not think we want any balance of power; or if we do have a balance of power, it should be one in which the peace-loving nations are on one side and the aggressors on the other, the peace-loving nations, backed by armed force, and the aggressors without armed force.
I believe that in the future organisation of the world at the peace conference we could make our best contribution by bringing to the council table not only the members of the British Commonwealth of 1486 Nations, but certain other European States with whom we have special historical and sentimental ties, as Field-Marshal Smuts suggested. There is, for instance, the closest emotional tie between this country and Greece. There are obvious ties with Norway, Belgium and Holland geographically, and they are of immense importance to us. There is Czechoslovakia. That is a case where you will have to have mutual arrangements. A very admirable Treaty has just been signed between Czechoslovakia and Russia. That is a valuable step forward, and a loophole has been left for signature by a third Power, Poland, which may, I hope, be made use of before many months have gone by. Of course, Poland is not a small power. We are closely interested in and have the warmest feelings towards Poland. There again you will want to have a joint and mutual association between the Russians and ourselves. I do not think that one ought to regard the pre-war frontiers of Poland as being immutable. We ought seriously to consider, for instance, whether East Prussia ought not to be added to Poland after the war. Possibly the Germans might be made to adopt the policy, which they have started, of a transfer of population into Germany itself. There could then be no trouble about a Corridor. Let us hope that that matter will not escape consideration when the time comes.
§ Mr. Mander
I do not think it would be useful to say anything about that. I believe that an association, such as I have suggested, with certain European States would be welcomed by them and would be valuable to us, provided, of course, that it met with the good will and approbation of our two great Allies. The one criticism I have heard of a proposal of this kind is that one is chosen and the other is left. There may be something in that. But this is not a logical world. There is not a set and ordered pattern to which we have to conform. We are pragmatic. We take things as they are and if they work, we carry them out. It is essential that we should have an all-embracing world organisation and I see no reason why there should not be special ties among special friends.
The last point to which I desire to refer is one which has some importance with 1487 regard to the prevention of war in future in connection with the position of Germany. It was raised first of all by the Archbishop of Canterbury—I do not quite know what he meant by it—when he suggested the internationalisation of the Ruhr. I do not say that in disrespect. I do not know; but it seems to me to be a very excellent idea. If there could be some control overt the Ruhr, Germany could never make war gain. The Ruhr produces seven-tenths of the 200,000,000 tons of coal that were produced by Germany before the war. There are all the iron and steel and other war industries there as well. It would be very much better than making any attempt to split up Germany which would merely encourage her to come together again, and, while leaving the Ruhr inside Germany, it should be internationalised in this sense. I suggest that the great industries should be taken away from their present German or other owners and that shares should be owned by various members of the United Nations. The directors should be United Nations directors and the managers should be drawn from the United Nations and some workers should go over there as well. That would make it impossible for Germany to prepare secretly for war purposes in the way she has done in the past. It may be said that that might work for a time but obviously it would be keenly resented by Germany and there would be obstruction in due course. That is just the point where the future international police force would most effectively come in. You have to have some kind of united force in peace just as you have in war. Whether it was ad hoc or directly recruited, the great thing would be to give it a job right away, to give it something to do and something into which to get its teeth. The best way would be to station the international force in the Ruhr and let them carry out manoeuvres there so that the Germans could see all the time that there was a world organisation which was going to stand no nonsense from them. It would be a very valuable opportunity for experimenting and practice in the use of an international force permanently in peace time.
It is clear that force is going to operate in the world for a very long time to come, and the great thing is to put it into the right hands and not into the hands of gangsters where it has been in the past, 1488 but into the hands of peace-loving nations such as the great three who have so recently held a most satisfactory conference. We must clothe justice not only with majesty but with power. We must protect peace not only by political plans but by military might. We must try to make this the policy of the whole British race founded upon the structure of which the foundation stones have been so well and truly laid at Moscow, Teheran and Cairo.
§ Viscountess Astor (Plymouth, Sutton)
Really this is a most interesting House of Commons, and if Europe has changed as much as Members of the House of Commons, we can hope for permanent peace and that pretty soon. I welcome the speech of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). He is becoming almost bellicose.
§ Viscountess Astor
The hon. Member has changed so and it is encouraging, and I congratulate him. I have not very much changed my point of view since I have been in this House. I came into the House of Commons after the last war when the whole world wanted peace, and I have sat here ever since. It is just a little upsetting, because the other day I heard some Members in this House make the same kind of speeches they made in 1922, 1923 and 1924. It was almost frightening. It was only in talking about local or here-at-home questions that their attitude had not changed. They had not learned very much and that is why I am grateful to the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, because he has learned a tremendous amount since joining us in the House of Commons.
I congratulate the Government on these Conferences. An hon. Member said that the Foreign Secretary had not said much, but he has said very much. When you think of what these Conferences accomplish it makes you hope and rejoice that although the air has done many things and has been the cause of much devastation, it must, if used in the right way, be one of the greatest steps in world peace. The Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister and all who took part in these Conferences should be congratulated and thanked.
I heard the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) talking about the Government and 1489 the United States not having done sufficient for the refugees. A great deal has been done by the United States of America and the British Empire and by this Government, which are the only Governments that have really tried to do anything. It is wrong in the House of Commons to talk as if our Government have not done what they can on a most difficult and complex question. It will need not only our two Governments, but the whole of the Governments of the world to try and put it right. I believe that only free people can free the world from tyranny and the freest people in the world are the people who practise and approve of democratic government. They are the British Empire Governments and the Government of the United States of America. I welcome Russia's help, and I welcome China. It is wonderful having them with us and all that depends on it, but the real burden will fall on people who have practised democracy. After the war, in spite of all our desire for peace, it is going to take the very best of the people of every country to ensure it.
I wonder whether the Government have ever considered the one question on which you can get everybody agreed, and that is the question of the children of the world. When we sent our soldiers as an army of occupation to Germany after the last war I know of the reports that came back. Our soldiers could not bear seeing the condition of the German children. It was the thing that moved them most, and it was a danger, because they said, "If our policy is going to be to punish the children, of Germany, we can take no part in it." The late Prime Minister said he would have no part in the starving of the children of Germany. We have to make up our minds to it that the condition of the children of Europe is perfectly appalling. I do not like to think of it. It is so dreadful that it does not bear thinking about. I beg the Government, no matter what we do or what treaties we make or what we do to punish those in authority, never to think that it will pay us to do anything to bring even German children into a state of starvation.
§ Viscountess Astor
I was speaking of the time directly after the last war. The German children now are far better off 1490 than the Greeks or the French or any others. I just used that as a figure of speech. We do not want any children starved. We do not want the sins of the fathers visited on the children to the third generation.
§ Viscountess Astor
Not even the children of this country. I know we have done our best to look after the children in the occupied countries; we have not succeeded, but we have done a great deal. The Chinese children have been referred to. That is tragic too. Our appeal to the Government is for the future of the children of the world.
I agree with General Smuts' speech. A great many people said it was too frank, but I do not think it was. I believe the French people, if they wanted, could become a great nation, but I do not believe that we could make them a great nation. No one could say at this moment that they are a great nation. The greatness of a nation does not depend on its size but on the spiritual and moral qualities which make a great nation, and a nation which has those qualities is bound to lead the others. All progress must really be spiritual progress in the end. If it was not so, there would be no hope. The Germans would have won long ago. The great nations of the world are those which have vision and courage and are prepared to fight and die for what they think right. The feeling of the majority of the people of the country is naturally for their own but, apart from their own, they want to help the children throughout Europe and Asia, and, unless we do something for them quickly, they will never recover from the effects of a war with which they have nothing to do. I pray that the moment peace is declared we shall have a foreign policy based not on the Foreign Office but on all the parties in the country. It ought to be above party, because in that way we may set an example to the rest of the world. I rather dread the peace in some ways. After the last war magnificent speeches were made, but we went back. I am deeply grateful to the Government for the fine work they have done at these Conferences, and I hope the Prime Minister was impressed by Madam Chiang Kai-shek. It shows what a woman can do when she has a job.
§ Mr. Craik Henderson (Leeds, North East)
I think the House will all want to congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the work he has achieved during the last month. Undoubtedly he has not been able to tell us as much as we should have liked, but I think the feeling that everyone has is that there has been created a harmonious spirit among the leaders of the Allies which must have borne fruit in satisfactory decisions and which gives great hope for the future. The Foreign Secretary said that at the first Cairo Conference they were determined to take steps to prevent future aggression by Japan. With regard to the Teheran Conference, he did not get the same assurance, which is unfortunate, because running through all the speeches to-day there has been at some time or another a reference to the question what we are going to do with aggressor nations after the war. This question transcends all others in importance. There can be no social or any other form of security unless we can obtain security against aggression.
The delegates at the United Nations Relief Administration have recently expressed the view that both security and justice require that severe terms should be imposed upon Germany. I have never felt that the people of this country would be willing to administer justice to Germany. The crimes that she has committed, as was said by the Archbishop of York, are crimes which never before have been committed in the whole of history. The stories which come from all sources and are well authenticated make one's blood run cold. Such stories as that of people who were shot in an open grave and buried and the mounds afterwards actually moved bring horror to us. While Germany has undoubtedly surpassed in brutality anything that the world has know before, I am sure that the people of this country and the United States would feel it much too brutal to exact justice. I think all parties are agreed that the people responsible for those crimes must be punished where possible. We do not want any massacres or anything of that kind, but undoubtedly if the authors of the crimes that have been committed are not punished it will be a betrayal of those who have suffered such brutalities. What I feel most is the necessity to obtain security.
We must begin to think how we can get security. In the "Observer" the other 1492 day an important article emphasised how important it was that this House should begin to discuss the methods which are to be adopted. What we must not have are measures proposed by Governments which the country as a whole are not prepared to support. The country must realise the gravity of the situation and the necessity of finding a solution that will work. Otherwise the future of civilisation is indeed dark. The problem is not an easy one. Germany is a country which for hundreds of years has had a belief in her racial supremacy. She is militaristic and aggressive in outlook, as has been shown over a long period, and is possessed of great cruelty and deliberate brutality. It will not be easy to change that outlook. It is not important whether there are good or bad Germans. The point is that the German nation is susceptible to militaristic aggressive leadership. She falls in at once behind anyone who is prepared to give her a lead along those lines. There could be nothing more conclusive of this than the fact that during the last war she fell in wholeheartedly behind an imperialistic Kaiser and that in this war she has been equally prepared to follow behind a national Socialist corporal from Austria. Whoever has provided the leadership, and provided it has been aggressive, Germany has supported it.
How are we to change the outlook of Germany? There are two points which must be kept in mind. We must show Germany this time that crime does not pay. Germany for hundreds of years has been carrying on a policy of aggression. During that time she has seen very little of the sufferings which she has inflicted on other countries. She has gathered in the indemnities, and she has had victory marches, but she has seldom been invaded by other countries. In this war it may be that Air Marshal Harris is doing as much as anyone else to lay the firm foundations of peace by bringing home to the German people the fact that war is not a glorious pageant but is something painful and unpleasant, particularly for those at the receiving end. I hope that on this occasion it will not be possible for the German Government and people to maintain that the German armies have not been defeated. I hope we shall invade and occupy Germany. If we do not, then I can see no hope of educating 1493 Germany against the idea that war is glorious, beautiful and a magnificent thing in itself. We must occupy Germany this time in force, not brutally, but the occupation must be one with no fraternisation or anything of that kind.
We must as well as occupying Germany educate Germany. I know this suggestion leads to laughter in many quarters, where it is said that it is quite hopeless to educate a country from the outside and that education must come from the inside. But for 200, 300 or 400 years now there has been no sign of this coming from inside Germany. If there is to be peace in Europe we must help the German people themselves to obtain a different outlook on life. I do not suggest for a moment that we should send in British teachers, but we must prevent the teaching which universities and schools in Germany have been giving for so long—the teaching of racial supremacy and of their destiny to rule the world. I believe it is quite possible to educate by the control of broadcasting. We have seen during the last 20 years what can be done by broadcasting. Most of it has been for evil purposes, and this would be an opportunity to try and build up a new culture for Germany. It will not be easy to do in the years after the war unless teachers and professors are dismissed who want to go on instructing students in racial hatred, in aggressive militarism and in the glorification of what Germany has done. If we allow that, we shall have the same trouble all over again. So I hope this country will turn its mind towards working out the solution to this problem, for we must prevent aggression by Germany in the future.
After this war Germany will be even more full of the desire for revenge. If we are to have executions and punishment, it will make them desire revenge all the more. We must train and educate our people to the gravity of the problem and make them realise the consequences of failure. Unless we can evolve some principles which will prevent future aggression, there will be no real hope for the world. This problem is one to which we should all be devoting our minds. After this war all allied countries must be prepared to work together for this object and must have the support of the peoples of these countries. We all know what happened after the last war in America when the Domocrats were turned 1494 out and the Republicans took up a different attitude with regard to post-war problems. After this war I hope that it will be possible to get a sufficient measure of agreement among all the countries and that they will stick to the job and not tire after a year or two and give it up as hopeless. This time we have to make a determined effort to prevent aggression.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Leeds (Mr. Craik Henderson) has turned our minds to an important question, the future treatment of Germany. The facts on which he based his argument are undeniable, but the interpretation he gave is not the only one nor, in my judgment, is it correct. No one can deny that from the time of Frederick the Great, first the Prussian Kingdom and then the German Reich have pursued a policy of aggression in Europe. They were not, however, the first nations in Europe to pursue aggression, nor have they differed in their methods from France and Spain in other periods. The explanation, to my mind, of what has happened is that after 1918 we made no attempt to overthrow the real seat of power in Germany. The Junkers and the industrial magnates of the Rhineland, who had controlled the German State through the Army chiefs and the bureaucracy under Wilhelm II, continued to rule that State right through the Weimar Republic. When we add the psychological fact, to which the hon. Gentleman has drawn attention, the long tradition of obedience among the German people, the fact that they are a nation, as someone has put it, of carnivorous sheep, we have a complete explanation. The moral to be drawn is that on this occasion we must see that there is a real overthrow of the seat of power in Germany and that those elements which are wedded to peace—and everyone of us who has relations or friends in Germany must know such elements—are allowed to assume control of their country.
I do not wish to dwell on the German question. I would rather come back to the account of the Conferences which was given by the Foreign Secretary. To anyone who likes to seek exemplars in history, the meeting of the Prime Minister, President Roosevelt and Premier Stalin at Teheran must recall the Three Wise Men who set out from Persia to follow their star in search of the Prince of Peace. I 1495 hope that the deliberations of these three wise men will bring an end to the Massacres of the Innocents and will usher in a real era of world peace. I am disappointed, however, that we cannot, as yet, see what pattern is emerging from all these Conferences. The Prime Minister has two hobbies. As a bricklayer he must know that a house can be built only brick by brick, and not a corner here, the eaves there, and so on—unless he has, indeed, adopted the sectional building favoured by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom). The policy which has emerged from these Conferences seems rather to be inspired by the Prime Minister's other hobby, painting. We have had declarations on Italy and Austria, Persia and Korea, war criminals and the rights of small States. They suggest to me a dab of burnt sienna here, a splash of yellow ochre there, a healthy contempt for Prussian blue and plentiful splashes of crimson, delivered with an arm as accustomed to wielding the sword as the brush. These elements are very colourful—Italy and Austria, Persia and Korea, war criminals and the rights of small States—but we cannot as yet see any consistent pattern in them.
I take the view that the best use to which we can put this Debate is to do some fundamental thinking about the basis of our foreign policy after the war. There have recently been two such essays in fundamental thinking. There was a series of articles in "The Times," which can give guidance to Downing Street no less than to Printing House Square for a long time to come. There was also the more controversial speech by General Smuts. These fundamental essays had one thing in common. They both laid great emphasis on the necessity of power to back up policy. That is a truism which was so much neglected in the years between the wars that it cannot be too much emphasised now. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) has been converted to it.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am delighted to hear it. I listened with great interest to the hon. Gentleman and the Noble Lady, but I was a little overcome when they claimed consistency. 1496 This is a truism that needs to be emphasised, but I see a danger that the leaders, at least, may go to the other extreme. More particularly in General Smuts' speech—for "The Times" guarded itself against this charge—there seemed to be little beyond the idea of force; he appeared to believe that power in itself is a sufficient guarantee for the future peace of Europe. I am certain that the United Nations will find it as impossible as Louis XIV or Napoleon or Hitler to hold Europe down by power alone. If policy without power is ineffective, it is equally true that power without policy is blind. That appears to be the situation into which we are drifting.
The greatest need in our foreign policy, as I see it, is that it ought to be infused with some high moral purpose. That would be disagreeable, I know, to the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), because he has just written a pamphlet denying it. I firmly believe that that is the greatest need of our foreign policy. In 1939, when this country, ill-prepared as she was, went to war in defence of the frontiers of Poland, we had the moral leadership of the world. We had it again in 1940 when this country glared lone defiance across the Narrow Seas at the greatest armed might the world had ever seen. Since then, however, as the danger passed and our strength increased, we seem to have dissipated the moral capital that we then had. Voices are even heard suggesting that the Atlantic Charter is no longer binding on us. I hope that it is not asking too much if the right hon. Gentleman will make it perfectly clear before the end of the Debate that this country regards herself as solemnly bound by that covenant.
May I suggest one or two other leading maxims which I believe ought to govern our foreign policy? The first is that a British foreign policy must be British. When General Smuts and my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) agree it is perhaps not necessary for a back bencher to say any more. But I believe that British foreign policy must steer between Moscow and Washington, not only for military reasons, with General Smuts, nor only for economic reasons, with my hon. Friend the Member for Sea-ham, but for such reasons as these. In the visible and audible arts there are many countries that are far ahead of this country, but there is one art in which this 1497 country has always led the world, the most important of arts, the art on which every other art depends, the art of living together. There we have something to give to the world, and I should be very sorry to see our ideals submerged by the subordination of our policy to that of any other nation.
In recent years we have been attempting to transfer this art of living together from the life of individuals to the life of nations. The free association of nations in the British Commonwealth of the Statute of Westminster is to my mind one of the most fertile principles mankind has ever discovered. It is a political principle no less vital than representative government, which is also the discoverey of the British race. Indeed, it is very difficult, as one studies the records, to avoid the conclusion to which Milton came, that when God reveals Himself He does so, as His manner is, "first to His Englishmen." At any rate here is something of great value to the world, and it is for such reasons as this that I hope Great Britain will continue to give leadership to the world and not be subordinated to the foreign policy of any other country, though naturally our foreign policy must be harmonised with theirs.
The second maxim which I think should govern our foreign policy follows from the first. This country cannot pursue such an independent policy by itself. We have not the population or resources to enable us to do it. It may be forgiven, perhaps, in order to avoid any charge of plagiarism, for pointing out that in my last speech in this House, on 11th November, I pleaded for some grouping of the United Kingdom with the western nations of Europe, more particularly the maritime nations; and I was naturally delighted to see that this policy has now been vested with the great authority of General Smuts.
In order that we may be able to pursue such an independent policy there are several requisites. First of all there must be closer integration of the Commonwealth itself. Then there must be a more rapid development and advance to self-government in the Colonial Empire. We must attempt to heal finally the Irish question; which is a source of weakness to British foreign policy in many parts of the world. Above all, we must endeavour by a new policy to win the Indian peoples to the wholehearted 1498 support of the same ideals, so that they will throw their great population and resources on to the same side. Then, as I said, we ought to extend this idea of the free association of nations to the western nations of Europe. The British Commonwealth is not a club touting for members, but if we were to throw its membership open I believe there would be a long waiting list. The Scandinavian and the Low Countries would naturally be very welcome members. I believe that if Germany were to apply she would probably be black-balled for some years to come. France must certainly have an honoured place in the group. Unlike the Noble Lady, I deeply regret the wounding words about France that General Smuts felt it necessary to use. They might have been appropriate for private discussion but not for publication. If it had not been for 20 miles of salt water we should have gone through exactly the same humiliation as the French and behaved in exactly the same way—and there would have been collaborationists in plenty. It is only fair to France that we should say that. I have not the slightest doubt that after the war France will rise again, as Turkey and Russia rose from even greater humiliation in the last war.
The last maxim that I would like to suggest is that a British foreign policy must be a really national foreign policy. I do not want to be misunderstood on that point. I am not asking for a continuance of Coalition. Party rivalry is healthy and may be the expression of a deep underlying unity. Unity of parties can be bought very dearly if it is bought at the expense of real national unity, and creates a rift between the Government and the people. I am not asking for that. What I am asking is that every party should pursue a policy which can win the love of the great working masses for their own country. I can conceive of nothing more disastrous to British foreign policy than that the Conservative party should become identified with the pro-American cause and the Labour party with the pro-Soviet cause. That would be utterly disastrous. Every party should pursue a policy which can win the love and affection and genuine patriotism of the working masses for the country, just as we have seen genuine and deep-seated patriotism arising in the Soviet Union. The Senior Burgess of Cambridge University, to whose pamphlet I referred, has laid down 1499 the maxim "My country right or wrong." I think that is a bad principle, but at any rate it is a healthier principle than that which hundreds of thousands of persons in this country have adopted: "Stalin's country right or wrong" or "Roosevelt's country right or wrong." I wish we could evoke among our people the same affection for our own society as has been evinced in the Soviet Union in the present war, and that calls for a great deal of self-discipline from the parties.
§ Mr. Bartlett
Did not we evince that same sort of love of our country during the Battle of Britain?
§ Mr. Thomas
If my hon. Friend was in earlier, about which I am not sure, he would have heard me say that at that time, and in September, 1939, we had the moral leadership of the world; and my argument was that we had to a large extent lost that moral leadership in the intervening period. I thoroughly agree with him.
Finally, I wish very much to make this point. Millions of people in the country are now thinking and talking about foreign affairs in a way they have never done before. They very much need guidance. We have seen in the past few weeks some examples of the dangers that may arise from lack of guidance in foreign affairs. How can that guidance best be given? The best way, to my mind, is by frequent Debates in this House. At present the public outside are dependent on the propagandists, some paid, some merely ignorant, such as the writers of "inside information" in the Press. The judgment of the people on great issues of policy or persons is generally correct. That is presumably what we mean by democracy. But the people cannot form a right judgment unless they have the facts set before them, and it is in the interest of democracy that we should have frequent Debates in this House upon foreign affairs. The Government can give us at least some genuine "inside information," and every point of view can be expressed in the debate. Fleet Street has a long tradition of looking up to this House for guidance, and if the Leader of the House can make such arrangements he will strengthen his own position as Foreign Secretary, because he will be creating the buttress of an informed public opinion.
§ Wing-Commander James (Wellingborough)
In foreign affairs in general, and in international conferences in particular, the experience of these last 25 years, has been so unfortunate that I think both the House and the country are inclined to examine very critically announcements made on the subject of foreign affairs. I do not think that the Foreign Secretary will find that the public and the House are to-day in the frame of mind of the inter-war period, when wishful thinking bemused judgments. We very much hope that the results of the recent Conferences will come up to the hopes that they rouse. While one realises what a lot of cooking is necessary, the proof of the pudding really does come in the eating of it.
In the very short time which I have at my disposal, I wish to develop two points upon which I feel very strongly. The first is on the position of the satellites. Those unfortunate nations have been roped in and tied on to the tail of the Axis chariot. I feel very deeply about them. My hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) and myself are probably the only two Members of this House who have had the interesting and sad experience of living in a neutral country, as we did in the late autumn of 1940 and early 1941. Anybody who has had that experience would have an outlook on the position of those unfortunate States very different from the outlook of those who then were living in England. After the collapse of France in 1940 the crude fact is that there was not on the Continent of Europe a score of people who, whatever they might wish, did not believe that this country was beaten. It was a universally-held opinion that there appeared to be no chance of our survival. The magnificent German propaganda machine, tuned up for the job, impressed that belief upon everybody. Germany appeared to be invincible. Hon. Members doubtless listened a week or two ago to the magnificent B.B.C. postscript of Francoise Rosay when she described the inimitable technique of the Boche will remember how well-mannered, well turned out and nice the Germans were at first, under orders, and how they gradually turned over to be just brutes, all in accordance with Government policy. In the autumn of 1940, being in possession of most of Europe, they were being nice, but blandishments covered threats.
1501 I remember being sent in Madrid to look at a German propaganda film and to report upon it. It was a film called "Victory in the East" and was most impressive. The audience in a packed house, obviously hated it. It showed German armed might, masses of tanks, villages being destroyed by great forces, and weeping women on the pavements as the Germans marched through. I thought, wrongly, how crude, and how silly the Germans were to show that kind of thing, but it was deliberate propaganda to terrorise the people. The whole of the German Press and the propaganda machine was tuned in. In this country people do not realise the effect of living in an atmosphere wholly saturated with German propaganda.
It was in this period that the satellites joined the Axis. At that time, we stood absolutely alone. The United States were still in isolation and Russia to all appearances—and the German propaganda played it up—was in alliance, by treaty, with Germany. There appeared to be no chance of survival for any of those small peoples unless they took the course which appeared to be the only one open to them. They had confronting them the fate of Poland, not only smashed by Germany but, as to its Eastern part, seized by Russia, apparently with German collusion. What chance had they to offer any resistence? They had not much encouragement. It was at that time that, on the pavements of Madrid, there was produced an admirable joke—the Spanish never fail to produce a clever joke—that "Europe is divided into two parts, the occupied and the preoccupied."
This country in 1940 was protected by the Channel. Perhaps we were very stupid in not knowing that we were beaten. I will give just one illustration to show the House the kind of atmosphere which prevailed in neutral countries. I remember a certain high official—I shall not identify him by name or country because he is obviously within German reach now—in a country now a satellite. After his country joined the Axis he used to wait in a dark corner of a street or in a side alley or under a tree. He would come out as I walked back at night from the Embassy to my house, in order to get news, because otherwise he got nothing bin German propaganda. Those people did not like the Germans but they were terrified and they saw no other possibility 1502 at all. For another illustration, look at France. At the end of 1940 was there a kick in metropolitan France? Not a kick. Now there is that magnificent resistence movement. But it was not resisting at that period. I believe very sincerely that if we are to secure the speedy destruction of Germany—that is what our troops want, speedy victory over Germany—to save life and to save the appalling war destruction which will take years to repair, and if we want a lasting peace and want to avoid playing the German game, we have not only to be realist towards those satellites but to be charitable too.
The second point to which I want to make reference is the future of Anglo-Soviet relations. I believe that all of us want to see a practical working friendship with Russia and I have encouragement to believe that it is possible, encouragement not from what I read in newspapers but from what I am told by friends who have lived in—not merely visited—Russia in the inter-war period and during this war. They tell me that they found the Russians with whom they dealt to be people with whom they could live, and who were personally likeable. They tell me also that from their experience, Anglo-Russian co-operation and friendship are possible. It is very encouraging. For Russia to join with us and the United States, she has obviously to do one thing, which is to emerge from the isolation into which she plunged herself after the last war. From that isolation she must emerge. I say that because I believe it is necessary to dispel illusions and to smooth out difficulties by being frank. There are one or two points more, which I want to make. I find myself disturbed by two distinct voices with which the Russian propaganda machine speaks. Many of us can read this for ourselves in the "Soviet Daily War News" which is sent to us. On the one hand, there is a sort of leading article, containing generalities to which nobody can take exception, such as statements about the rights of individuals and of small nations, and so on—articles that might well appear in "The Times" in its saner moments. On the other hand, you get occasionally violent political partisan attacks on the Governments of not only neutrals but Allied countries, and these are very disturbing because they are political attacks. These criticisms appear to me to be outside all bounds of propriety 1503 in the circumstances. One hears nothing analagous to that in this country. I very much hope that after the Teheran and Cairo Conferences that greatest and most powerful Czar, Marshal Stalin, will give the word and stop it.
Referring for a moment to the small States, like the last speaker I have long shared the hopes that the small North Western seaboard Powers of Europe would federate with the British Empire. On 22nd June, speaking in this House of the Dutch people for whom I have the most profound admiration, I said that I hoped that:After the war there would be closer integration of our two Empires.I hope that all the small Scandinavian countries will join the British Commonwealth of their own free sovereign will. In that I include Finland. Finland is after all perhaps the most democratic, classless State in Europe. Her position has been impossible. There was, I think, a very unfair first leader in "The Times" yesterday. How can Finland, depending for her bare existence on supplies from Germany, walk out on Germany at this juncture? I hope that the British Government and the United States Government are at this moment doing everything they possibly can to facilitate her extraction from the Axis clutches and securing for her fair terms from the great neighbour of this brave, unfortunate, little country, Finland.
Time is very short, but there is just one other point rather more directly concerned with the war that I should like to refer to, merely for the purpose of putting it on the record, and that is the position of the Fleet Air Arm. I think the House should know that all is not well with the Fleet Air Arm, not with the personnel, the flying personnel, but with the higher direction of the Fleet Air Arm. It is not too much to say that all these grave defects in direction which same of us who were very close to it saw in the Royal Naval Air Service in the last war are now repeating themselves in the Fleet Air Arm. It might be shortly put by saying that all the gloomy forecasts and warnings by the greatest of all authorities on air strategy, Lord Trenchard, are being borne out to-day in the Fleet Air Arm. It is a great pity that the Cabinet decision limiting Admiralty control to ship-borne aircraft has been 1504 gone back on. Once a breach is made in the dam, you can depend on the Admiralty putting a flood of water through it. That is what the Admiralty have done.
Basically there were two things wrong with the direction of the Fleet Air Arm. The first is that owing to their age and training, traditions and background, the higher Naval Staff persist in regarding aircraft—indeed in hoping that aircraft may prove to be, merely ancillary to ships, especially big ships—like flying torpedoes or guns, and not as the first weapon of sea warfare.
§ Mr. Speaker
Although the hon. and gallant Member is perfectly in Order, he cannot expect a reply on these matters from the Foreign Office.
§ Wing-Commander James
No, Sir, I was not hoping for one. As I said, I am saying this for future record. I do not want to leave the point quite as loose as it stands. The trouble of course, the fundamental problem, is the rank fetish. In the Navy the position of an extra ring or half ring has an effect on a more junior officer not understandable in the Army or the Air Force. There is only one qualification for handling aircraft in war, that is long experience of actual piloting under war conditions. For that there is no substitute, and it is an unfortunate fact at the present time that there are only two officers up to the rank of rear-admiral on the Naval Staff who have had any requisite service. I know this is a little out of harmony with the Debate, but I wished to say that.
In the last two minutes may I make a purely personal apology and put on record in Hansard a correction of a very unfortunate thing I said in this House some months ago? Speaking of the personnel employed by the B.B.C., I said that Professor Harold Laski was an unfit person to employ because in the last war he had left the country to avoid fighting. I deeply regret having made a most mischievous, misleading, wholly untrue statement. I was misinformed. Dr. Laski only left the country on the advice of his tutor at Oxford—the brother of an old friend of mine—after he had been rejected for military service. He made repeated subsequent efforts to join the Services here and abroad and was rejected. I very much regret that I should have caused him pain, as I must have done. I wish to 1505 withdraw anything I said, especially because, disliking his political outlook intensely and in every respect, I am the more reluctant that he might think I made this attack because of his political views. I would like to put on record in Hansard my abject apology to the House which I misled and to Professor Harold Laski whom I wronged.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
I shall not follow the hon. and gallant Member either in discussing the Fleet Air Arm or in his private row with Professor Laski. I wish if I can, to bring the Debate back to the field of foreign policy and the war. So far as the Foreign Secretary said anything about the war, I would just like to say that I do not pretend to know anything about military strategy at all, but I do think, regarding the description used some five or six months ago of the "soft under belly" of the Axis, that it has not proved quite so soft as optimistic right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen thought it would when they made those statements. I am much more concerned as to the Foreign Secretary's speech so far as it showed any indication whatever that any decisions had been reached on foreign policy. Certain hon. Members have to-day made suggestions as to what our foreign policy should be, and I should like to know—I do not see any representative of the Foreign Office on the Front Bench [Interruption.] I did not know the Minister without Portfolio was representing this office—having regard to suggestions as to post-war foreign policy whether anything at all was agreed on at Teheran which prevented individual members at that Conference pursuing and having the right to have a foreign policy of their own. Suggestions have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. I. Thomas) and the hon. and gallant Member for Welling-borough (Wing-Commander James) that some of the smaller nations in Europe might consider some form of federation with this country.
§ It being the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.