Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £40, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the charges for the following services relating to Foreign Affairs and the foreign policy of this country and the Dominions, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1945:
|Class I., Vote 4, Treasury and Subordinate Departments||£10|
|Class II., Vote 1, Foreign Office||£10|
|Class II., Vote 3, League of Nations||£10|
|Class II, Vote 4, Dominions Office||£10|
§ Sir Richard Acland (Barnstaple)
On a point of Order, Major Milner. Is not this Motion the same as that which was under discussion yesterday? I only want to finish what I was saying yesterday. You have put exactly the same Question as that which was before the Committee yesterday, which stood adjourned and was not voted upon. I had the attention of the Committee when we adjourned, no Question was put, and I submit we are resuming the Debate on the same Motion.
§ The Chairman
I am afraid the hon. Member is not correct. There is a new Question, which I have just proposed to the Committee, which may or may not be in identical terms with the one proposed yesterday. The Debate is not an Adjourned Debate, as the Committee reported Progress yesterday, and therefore a new Question is before the Committee to-day.
§ Sir R. Acland
With all respect, is it not exactly the same Question? If you had put a different question, I would have seen the point, but this is exactly the same Question.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member must appreciate that we are in Committee of Supply, and, in Supply, we do, in fact, propose a fresh Question each day. That is the Rule.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
The Prime Minister in his speech yesterday—to which the Committee listened with very deep interest—began to referring to the Dominions Conference of the Prime Ministers. I would like to say, speaking for myself and most of my hon. Friends, that we welcome that conference of Dominions Prime Ministers and hope that such conferences will continue, from time to time, as occasion requires. As my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence), who spoke yesterday, said, we yield to none in our admiration of the British Commonwealth and Empire. One does not wish to introduce a party political note into this Debate but, indeed, it is a matter of special pride to my hon. Friends and myself that two of the four great Dominions are now under the command of Labour Governments. Their efforts in the war are accepted as being efforts to the full, and we take pride in their achievements.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister devoted the greater part of his speech yesterday to the war situation, which he was quite entitled to do and which, indeed, he could not avoid. However, it shows the difficulty we have had in the House of Commons in the last few years in trying to fine a line of demarcation between the war situation and foreign affairs. I propose to devote the time that I have to-day to dealing with the question of foreign affairs, particularly from the point of view of the future. Our foreign policy in this country must rest on two foundations. The first foundation is that of the British Commonwealth and Empire. We may have had—as I took occasion to say a few weeks ago—a rather murky past which we are trying now to live down. I do not want to repeat what I said on a previous occasion, but there are episodes in the history of the development of the Empire which reflect little credit on this country. [Interruption.] If my hon. Friend has not read the history of the Empire, I am sorry. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has written it."] But it is all the more credit to us that we are becoming an example to the world in the development of the Commonwealth and the Empire. I wish we had an all-inclusive term, for it is an entity based partly on a predominant language, a predominant culture, and on common interests which have grown up as the years have gone by. I think so far as 957 one can understand the discussions that have taken place at the conference of Prime Ministers, the real strength of the Brittish Empire and Commonwealth is to be found in its unity of purpose. That unity of purpose is a firm intention to develop a community of free nations, and, as soon as we can, to lead the Colonies and Dependencies along the same path to full freedom and full democracy.
We have another claim to consideration. Not only is this a far-flung Empire, knit more closely now because of the war and because of the development of air transport. We have another claim to the respect of the world—that we, alone of the Great Powers now in the struggle, declared war. There was no doubt as to the position of the Dominions. The Prime Minister of New Zealand has recorded that when the news reached them, within three minutes they were at war without question. The fact that we declared war has cast upon Britain and her sister nations a very great responsibility which we cannot farm out, a responsibility to care for those nations which, as a result of a deliberate act by the British Government, have been over-run, and have suffered all the worst effects of German tyranny.
We stand, therefore, in a special relation to the European peoples, and I trust that His Majesty's Government will realise that those responsibilities have to be honourably fulfilled. In my view, there has been a disposition during the war to be a little less than frank with some of our great Allies, a disposition, I think, to funk vital issues; but it ought to be made perfectly clear to our great Allies that we have a place in the world and responsibilities in the world which entitle us to the full respect of all the nations in the world. Therefore, the sooner we can be perfectly frank with our Allies the better. It is no use denying that war, like adversity, makes strange bed fellows. You are perfectly clear about what you have to do with the enemy, but it is not always so clear how you are to treat your friends. The Prime Minister said yesterday that this war is not being conducted on ideological grounds, and that is true, but when the war is over you cannot expect national outlooks and national ideologies to be sunk permanently, because they will come again to the surface, and whilst one wants complete friendship with all nations it must be on the basis not of Britain's 958 rights but of Britain's authority and Britain's responsibilities.
What I am saying is not directed against any of our Allies, but it is clear that we have a special point of view, a special history and tradition, a special knowledge of world affairs, such as no other great Power possesses. I said a moment ago that we have special responsibilities in Europe. I think that is so. There not only are they the victims of a particularly cruel and horrible form of Nazi aggression but they are very near neighbours, and although the strip of sea is still a formidable naval and military obstacle we are, in fact, now a European Power, and I do not see us ridding ourselves of the responsibilities of that position. The Prime Minister said yesterday that the United Nations would assist the restoration of democratic institutions and democratic life in the countries which have been over-run. I hope that will be so. I hope that, with advancing military victory, we may do it quickly in the case of Italy. We must do it, I think, in all countries. The Prime Minister declared, however, that this Government and other Allied Governments could not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. That is not a new principle, but there are elements and aspects of Fascism in the overrun countries to-day which ought to be destroyed if a free life is to be obtained when the war is over. I give as one example the treatment of the Jews. I would say that the United Nations of the world were not fulfilling their responsibilities, when the European Continent has been released, if they permitted the continuance of anti-Jewish legislation. I am not going to argue the question of Palestine and its future, but one essential element of democracy is the freedom of all citizens, of whatever race, before the law. I would hope, therefore, that a broad interpretation will be put upon this principle of non-interference in national affairs on the Continent.
The second basis of our policy in the future must be that of international co-operation. If what I have said is interpreted as being unfriendly to our great Allies, it is only because I think that frankness, all the cards on the table, is the only way to a permanent understanding between the great nations of the world. And I would not say only the 959 great nations of the world, because the quality of a nation is not necessarily measured by its size. The Prime Minister yesterday made a very firm statement about international action from the military point of view after the war is over. With that, I think, the Committee would agree. I think the burden of that responsibility must rest primarily on the great Powers, but I should be sorry to think that the smaller Powers were to be excluded. I believe that neutrality is an outworn ideal. Should it unfortunately happen that there is another great war it will be a war of principles, and when principles arise those who are not for us are against us. Therefore, in considering the military control of the world I would like to see associated with it those smaller Powers who have stood by us, ill-equipped as they were, and those who hitherto have been neutral. I would also include in the greater Powers one which the Prime Minister did not mention yesterday, China. I was very sorry that the Prime Minister did not refer to the Eastern war or Eastern possibilities after the war. He also dealt with the question of a world assembly in very general terms—no details of any kind—and I think that was rather unfortunate.
My own view, which I have expressed in the House before, is that one of the finest moral stimulants the Fighting Forces can have is a confident spirit that the future will be all right for them. The idea that we can leave over until after the war things on which the destinies of the world will depend for generations is a very unfortunate one. I would have liked the Government to be in a position to pursue rather further the general principle of international co-operation after the war. I appreciate, to the full, all the difficulties that there are in war-time, I can appreciate that there are a lot of snags and a lot of differences of outlook and policy and intention, but it is high time now, when the war is reaching its height, that we and the world should have something more precise about the future world organisation than we had from the Prime Minister yesterday. Admitting all the difficulties, I still cast upon His Majesty's Government and the Governments of the United Nations the responsibility now, before it is too late, for getting a clear vision of what they want to build in the future and a clear idea of the ways in 960 which they intend to do it. We have not yet got very far along those lines.
The Prime Minister referred to the Atlantic Charter as a signpost, a mere indication of direction. The Atlantic Charter is not a signpost. It ought to be a swiftly moving car, surging on to a defined destination with the approval of the peoples of the world. Within our limits and with a certain amount of hesitation we have begun in this country to work out the eight points of the Atlantic Charter so far as they apply to us, but I assure the Committee that if we leave the application of those general principles until after the war they will never be clothed with proper meaning, they will never be realised, at least for a very long time. We hope that before very long the Government, in association with our Allies, will be in a position to say something rather more precise as to the instrument which they mean to establish at the end of the war. It is important from the point of view of the smaller nations. I do not believe that the world can be run by the three or four big Powers hi the world. I think it is undesirable and that it would be tragic if we were to try to do it. Those nations on the Continent of Europe who trust us in this country, who look to us for moral leadership, are prepared enthusiastically to support any big forward move for international co-operation after the war, and during these coming months, when their hours of trial will be even more anxious than in the past, it would be an inspiring thought for them to know without any doubt that there is a future for them in the comity of nations.
Very little was said by the Prime Minister yesterday about economic problems. My hon. Friends and I hold the view that economic problems are the major seeds of war, and unless we handle economic problems boldly we may find ourselves in a situation in which we are again heading for war. I remember a discussion which I once had with Rudolf Hess. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who is he?"] He is a missing German. He talked about the economic problems of Germany. There they were, engaged upon war production on a great scale, unemployment had ceased to exist, and I said to him "When you have done all that what happens next?" He replied "Oh, well, then we are going for the great social developments, and so 961 on". I remarked "Yes, and then what happens after that?" He said "Ah, I knew you would put that question. We want room to breathe; we want Colonies". I explained to him that our Colonies were not sources of profit to the British people, but were a great responsibility to us, and that we had to wipe out some of the evil things we had done in the past. There was an urge in that man. He wanted physical possession of large territories for economic reasons, very largely—economic power giving the Germans the opportunity to secure their full political aims. Well, that seems to me to be all wrong, and it has been accepted now as being wrong. The Atlantic Charter, to which I attach very great importance, was the first statement of its kind which did recognise the important part which the solution of economic problems must play in We future progress and hapiness of the world.
The Hot Springs Conference is another indication. There, we have had an agreed statement of principles, not as yet fully worked out, but an agreed statement of principles which will govern the world's economic life as regards the production and distribution of vital foodstuffs. One hopes that our foreign policy in the future will develop along those lines of economic co-operation. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, with an Imperial mind, has snatched from some other Departments and other branches of activity certain officers and certain people. That is all to the good. I think our diplomatists of the past have lived in too arid an atmosphere and have been, as the Americans would say, "socialites," rather than active persons understanding the life of the people, and, if my right hon. Friend proceeds to develop in the Foreign Office, a Department which views the economic problems of the world as being of equal importance with the political problems of the world, it will be all to the good. The question of economic development goes to the roots of future possibilities. I have said, on previous occasions, that we can attain freedom from want. There is no reason for five-sixths of mankind to live in dire poverty. The resources are there, and the vast majority of mankind, strange as it may seem to some people, prefer to work for a living. If they are provided with full employment and are given access to the available resources under properly organised con- 962 ditions, and free from the major profit motive, winch leads to such bad exploitation in the Colonies and elsewhere, then, I think, we are on We way to making a world really fit to live in.
I hope that we may find opportunities this Session, at a later stage, for a discussion of the broad lay-out of foreign policy after the war, and I hope that as a result of this discussion we shall be told of advances which have been made and decisions which have been reached on some of these issues. I do not, myself, believe that either the political or the economic problems of the world are going to be solved on the assumption that the old organisation of life and society is to continue to exist unimpaired. I do not believe that. If we believe in the things which we declare, if this House of Commons, having applauded the Atlantic Charter, believes in it, then we must be prepared, at whatever cost it may be to outworn traditions, to face the world with an open mind. The greatest nation of the future will be the one which gathers the rich fruits of the experience of the last five years, is prepared to get rid of evil things, and is brave and bold enough to head for a future well worth the living.
§ Sir Edward Grigg (Altrincham)
My right hon. Friend who has just sat down has made a deeply interesting speech. I should have liked very much to have followed him on many of the points which he raised—not by any means by way of disagreement, because I think I agreed with most of what he said, but by way of strengthening and emphasising some of the points he made. A very large number of Members, however, want to address the Committee to-day, and I am going to confine myself rigidly to three topics with which I am anxious to deal. Two of these are, as a matter of fact, topics on which my right hon. Friend has also said something.
Let me, in the first place, follow him in congratulating His Majesty's Government on the successful manner in which they conducted the meeting of Prime Ministers. I think it reflects great credit on the Prime Minister, on the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs—whom we still remember with affection in this House—and on the other Members of the Government who were concerned with its business. Everybody who has attended conferences knows that 963 they depend mainly on two things. The first is the mood in which people come to them. I do not think there is any question whatever about the mood in which the representatives of the Empire and Commonwealth came to the Conference which has just been held. All of them, whatever differences of method there might be between them, were out for securing the closest measure of co-operation, not only during the war, but after the war, throughout the British Empire. I do not think there is any question about that. In the second place—and I would like to lay emphasis on this—there is no question but that all of them felt that the Empire and Commonwealth must not be regarded as an exclusive clan. They were all anxious that it should play its part in the service of the world, and I emphasise that as a very important feature, much more marked, as a matter of fact, at this Conference than at any previous historical meeting of representatives of the Commonwealth. So far, then, as the mood in which the members of that gathering met is concerned, all was well. It reflects the living unity of the Commonwealth at the present time.
As to the handling, I think it was equal to the mood in which the Conference met. We take the Prime Minister for granted, but there is no question that, as one of the three men who have been making history, day and night, for the last four years, his personal prestige is enormous and a great asset to the Empire at the present time. Not only that. We know, in this House, his extraordinary gift for bringing to light the real significance of current events, events that are sometimes so over-shadowing, so stunning in their effect, that one does not realise their full significance. The Prime Minister has that descriptive gift; he also has the gift, which I am sure he exercised on this occasion, of holding up a mirror to the people here and to the Commonwealth as a whole, and showing them the greatness and the strength of their lineaments.
Apart from the Prime Minister whom, as I say, we generally now take for granted, I am convinced, from what I have heard from all who attended the Conference, that a special measure of thanks is due from hon. Members here to the Foreign Secretary for the part he played in it. That has been brought home 964 to me by many of the members who attended the meeting of Prime Ministers. He undoubtedly made, at that meeting, the impression which I think he generally makes in negotiations and in conference—the impression of candour, uprightness, sincerity and good will: I feel that, like Sir Edward Grey, he is becoming very representative of our national character, and I am grateful to him for having played that part in the meeting of Prime Ministers. I am one of the older runners in the historic relay-race of the Commonwealth and Empire, runners whose duty it is to make what progress is possible in their time, and to hand on the faith unimpaired. In that capacity, I naturally look to the future—all the time I look to the younger men—and I hope my right hon. Friend will allow me to say, as an older man, that his contribution to this meeting seems to me to have been exactly of the character which we all hope for the future, and to wish him success many years ahead, when older men like me have passed from the scene.
I think that the Committee, in many of the speeches that have been made, has shown its appreciation of the great significance of that gathering. It is worth emphasising at the present time who attended the Conference apart from the representatives of our own Government. Next to the Prime Minister in world prestige, unquestionably, comes Field-Marshal Smuts, not only a statesman, but a scholar, a man of science, a philosopher, a man not of British descent but of Dutch and Huguenot descent, who played a great part in these proceedings, as he has in the life of the Commonwealth for many years past, though he was in arms against us at the beginning of this century. Then there was Mr. Mackenzie King. Mr. Mackenzie King also makes a special contribution to meetings of this kind, not only for his long service in public life in Canada, but because he was partly educated in the United States and also, I think, because he is, in part, descended from French Canadian ancestors. I think that Papineau, a man whom we used to call at one time a "rebel," was one of his ancestors.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
Does my hon. Friend suggest that William Lyon Mackenzie was a Frenchman? He was the ancestor.
§ Sir E. Grigg
The Prime Minister of Canada. like all of us, has several ancestors. Mr. Curtin represents yet another race and another strain in the Empire. He is the son of a policeman of Irish extraction, who made his way as a journalist and a trade union leader, and has unquestionably expressed the resolve and virility of Australia in the last few years. Mr. Fraser represents yet another race and another line of life. He was born in Ross and Crornarty, brought up in the village school and worked in New Zealand as a general labourer and waterside worker before entering public life. Since the death of Mr. Savage, he has been at the head of affairs in New Zealand. And do not let us forget the representatives of India. One of them is one of the greatest Hindu Princes, the Maharaja of Kashmir, and one a prominent Moslem of well-known family, whose father rendered great services to India, and who has, himself, rendered great services, Sir Firozhkhan Noon. Finally, there is the representative of Rhodesia, a man of Kent, educated as a doctor at St. Thomas's Hospital, just across the Thames, and representing, I think, in that Conference, the new-born of self-government, the new life that is surging in the Empire everywhere.
I think it is worth reflecting on the extraordinarily varied character of that gathering. What other political system in the world could have brought these men freely together, and enabled them to confer on their own affairs and the affairs of the world in the atmosphere of a family gathering? It is worth considering what that means in the world at the moment. Hon. Members will remember a night in the City of London, more than two years ago, when a vast area seemed to be given over to fire, when no one knew what would be found next morning to be still standing. Of the many ancient churches, venerable monuments and great halls no one knew what would be left when the fire had burnt itself out. When the morning came and the fires had died down, when the débris had to some extent been cleared, there stood out, for the first time, something that we saw with new eyes—the glory and the grandeur of St. Paul's, seen as we have never seen it before. St. Paul's, the classic expression of order, proportion and massive strength, rising in all its lines to the dome which is the architectural symbol of unity, to the lan- 966 tern which is the symbol of light, and to the Cross, which is the symbol of service, faith and sacrifice. Could there be a better metaphor to describe what has happened in the case of the British Empire and Commonwealth in this war? Amid all the disillusion, all the suffering that have occurred, we have seen this great structure, not our own work, but the work mainly of those who have gone before, firm in its foundations, free and just in its ideals, appreciated by millions in this country, in the Empire, and in the rest of the world, as it was never appreciated before.
I am in complete agreemnt with the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) that the purpose of this Empire and Commonwealth must not be purely to serve itself. It cannot serve its own people unless, as it has in the past, it does its best to serve the rest of the world. That is, on one side, an idealistic policy but on the reverse side a policy of enlightened self-interest. I believe it is quite impossible for our system to thrive unless it works in co-operation with other nations throughout the world, and holds the good will of as many nations as possible.
In this respect the Prime Minister's speech rather disturbed me in one or two points, particularly in what he said with regard to France. No one in this House will question for a moment that military necessities must come first. About that we are all agreed. But those who are conducting operations are sometimes quite naturally inclined to lose sight of the fact that all the time military operations are going on, and especially when they have just left an area behind them, impressions are being created and sentiment is being formed which will deeply influence the future of the world. It is quite impossible to isolate the wake of military operations from the future of the Europe with which we are to deal. In this respect I must say that I found some slight cause for anxiety in what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about France.
What is the case at the present time for not recognising the French Committee of National Liberation? This Committee represents not one man but, so far as one knows, every party in France. It contains a large number of men who have been part of the resistance movement in France; it is supported, as everybody knows, by resolutions passed by leaders 967 of the resistance movement now in France itself. So far as I understand it, the only reason given for not recognising the Committee was that it was a provisional Government. Well, every Government will be a provisional Government until 'elections can be held, and if you are not going to recognise a provisional Government it means you will recognise no French Government until any elections are held, which, presumably, means that you are to hold the elections yourself. That is an absolutely impossible attitude to adopt towards any great nation, least of all to one with a proud and sensitive nature like France. I felt that the consideration shown to France was inadequate in what the Prime Minister said. Let us remember this: I was reading the other day a very touching tribute to the young men of this country who fell in the last war by a previous Ambassador at the Court of St. James's, Monsieur de St Aulaire. Let us remember, on our side, that we should not have won the last war—I do not think we should have survived the submarine menace—unless France had been held in the early years. France was held in those years, to some important extent, by the help we sent her, but in the main by the sacrifice of 2,000,000 French lives. Do not let us forget that. Do not let us forget either that General de Gaulle—he may be difficult, but everybody is difficult at the moment—was fighting by our side and for the faith that is in us at the time when the United States were not belligerents. We should remember that. Let us also remember that General de Gaulle represents resistance and that resistance is France. There is no other France, except the France which is resisting now. Finally, let us remember that there can be no Europe, no resurrection of Western civilisation, no system built up such as that we want to build up, without the co-operation and wholehearted sympathy and support of France.
This recognition ought not to be delayed, whatever other nations may say. Now is the time, because ineffaceable impressions are being made upon Frenchmen. They are suffering very cruelly at our hands. Surely we owe them something for the suffering which we are inflicting upon them against our will. I would remind the Committee of the declaration made by the Prime Minister 968 on 7th August, 1940. Addressing General de Gaulle, he said:I declare that His Majesty's Government is determined, when the Allied Armies shall have won the victory, to ensure a complete restoration of the independence and greatness of France.I hope it is in that spirit that negotiations will be conducted when de Gaulle comes here, where I am sure he will have a warm welcome from us all. The Prime Minister's declaration then was a great act of faith, and we need a similar act of faith now.
I have only one further point to make. Important as she is, we cannot think only of France. In different degrees we owe the same duty to all the historic nations of Europe, and they are looking to us. I believe that in the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary we are doing our best to carry out the duty which we have to undertake to restore the freedom and independence of other European nations, particularly of those who have been most closely associated with us in this war. I have only one anxiety about that, and it is an anxiety created by those nations themselves. I am beginning to be a little anxious about the narrow propaganda which some of them are carrying on. Like Paris, at the time of the Peace Conference, London is becoming a whispering gallery. Every hotel, every lobby, is full of people who tell you this and that and mention something as a fact which you may happen to know is not a fact or something else as a historical truth which you may know is a disputable historic truth. There is a widespread network of propaganda in this form. This propaganda springs from two motives, and it is quite natural. It springs in the first place from what the German philosopher Nietszche described as "historical insomnia," inability to forget the grievances of the past and refusal to look forward or even at the facts of the present time. That is disastrous for nations as for individuals, but it seems incurable in some. The other motive springs from domestic dissensions, which are not our affair, between classes which may have quarrelled with each other for generations and are striving to ensure their rights as they conceive them in the post-war world.
The House of Commons has a great responsibility in this matter. Its task is to support the Government in taking an absolutely straight, candid and outspoken 969 line in co-operation with the United Nations to whom we are allied. I hope this House will never allow itself to be swayed by foreign propaganda of the kind I have described. It has a great part to play in enabling our Government to act as a harmonising, reconciling and stabilising factor in international affairs, and it can do that best in its own English way. The Commonwealth itself has survived great disasters because it has known how to learn from its disasters and start again. That, I think, is the best example we can give, the best moral we can point, to the rest of the world.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), in his very interesting speech, made reference to the question of the recognition, provisionally, of the French Committee of National Liberation as the French Government, and feel that the Foreign Secretary must realise, after this Debate, that so far as the House of Commons is concerned it is quite definitely in favour of such recognition at as early a date as possible. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will take into consideration that fact in any consultations he has with General de Gaulle. I thought that some hon. Members in yesterday's Debate rather went over the events of the last 10 or 20 years, proceeded to justify themselves and then raised the question as to whether the reason for the difficulties that arose, and which led to this war, rested on the shoulders of the League of Nations or the Governments that happened to be in power in this country during those years. I do not intend to go into that field; I have no doubt that history and the coming General Election will have something to say about that.
We want to look not to the past—although we can learn lessons from it—but to the future organisation of the world. Reference has been made to the League of Nations and its alleged failure. There, I would range myself with the Prime Minister when he said that had it been better backed up things might have been very different. I am quite content to take that ground. I think the House has shown itself in favour of the general line taken by the Prime Minister yesterday. Certainly he has my wholehearted support, although I think some hon. Members on the other side showed themselves to be 970 still in a rather unrepentant isolationist mood. However, we are coming along. I would very much like to see in future a national foreign policy, about which all parties were agreed, which we could form from the basis of the general sketch put forward by the Prime Minister yesterday and then compete with each other in trying to make more perfect and more effective for the purpose of maintaining world peace.
No doubt different parties would make different contributions. Conservatives would emphasise more the question of force, and the Left parties would more emphasise universality, but both must be woven together in order to make an effective machine. Something has been said about the surrender of sovereignty. It seems to me that absolute national sovereignty, externally, as regards other countries, is as much out of date as the divine right of Kings internally. Every Treaty, every alliance, every engagement you make with another country is a surrender of sovereignty to some extent. It is a question of degree—how much you may think it is right to do. It may be done by a Treaty or even by consultative arrangements between States, but do not let us think for a moment that we can have safety in the world and maintain complete absolute national sovereignty. The two things are quite incompatible. Let me refer in this connection to the work of the Permanent Court of International Justice, which settled without disagreement a large number of disputes. In every single case there was a surrender of national sovereignty. The States concerned submitted their sovereign rights to the decision of the court.
The Prime Minister made clear the sort of world organisation that is to be set up after the war. It would be absolutely intolerable if we failed to achieve that purpose and, as a result, a third world: war came about, and it would be treachery to those who are now sacrificing their lives if we failed to do the job of preventing another war breaking out. That is the object we have before us, and we can achieve it if we will. The definition of the world organisation was very well set out in the terms of the Dominion Premiers' declaration, which will be on record. No doubt, the arrangement is for the "big three"—of course we have a "big four" in mind but China is not yet in a position to act, though she will 971 be before very long—to act, as regards force, on behalf of the community of nations. It is recognised that the great weakness of the League of Nations was that its police function was everybody's business, and therefore nobody's. In future we have to see exactly whose business it is and leave no doubt that the police truncheon will come down, at the first moment without any hesitation or doubt, on the offender. Let us call the new body that is to be set up, drawing on the experience of the old League, by some totally different name by all means, but do not let us imagine that there are not very good lessons to be drawn from the experience of those 20 years. Sometimes it is said that one reads too much in history books about force and battles, but battles make a tremendous lot of difference. The battle of Bannockburn settled the fate of Scotland for 300 years, and that is why it is so important to have force in the right hands, acting on behalf of mankind as a whole. I hope the new international organisation will have a little more colour about it than the old, that there will be a certain ceremonial, that it will have an emblem, a flag, a song, and things of that kind. Nothing can derogate from the Union Jack, the Stars and Stripes and the Red Flag, but let us have something symbolising the whole world.
Let me ask how the "big three" are getting on in their relations with each other. All the United Nations, and any neutrals that may come in, must be fitted into the picture and play their part to the full. There is a feeling amongst the smaller nations that they are not being told enough or being consulted enough. It may not be practicable, but they certainly have that feeling and, as far as the Government can meet them, it would be wise to summon such a body as the St. James's Palace Conference, which has not met for a long time but which certainly served a very useful purpose. Great Britain was never stronger and never more united with her Dominions in the whole of her great history, and I hope she may be greater still in the sense of the idea put forward by Field-Marshal Smuts, that this will come to something, and that Greece, Norway, Holland and Belgium for instance may become closely associated with us.
Then there is every sign that the United States are coming into co-operation for 972 their own sake and for the sake of the world. We are not concerned in what candidate gets in as President except in this sense, that we do not want to see an Isolationist returned, nor do they want to see an Isolationist returned in this country. Either of those things would be fatal to us and them. I note with interest the way election tendencies are going. There seems to be agreement over there, and both parties are in favour of cooperation in the world organisation.
As regard Russia I feel that the Moscow and Teheran Conferences made a fundamental difference in our relations to each other. The old suspicions have not gone but they have begun to go. We can speak bluntly as friends can speak to each other and no doubt, while many things can happen which may seem odd and strange and inexplicable to people with our experience, in time we shall come to an understanding of each others technique and better fit in with each other. No doubt the second front will have a big say in resolving difficulties. We must remember that the co-operative record of the Soviet Union is a very good one. So long as she was a member of the League of Nations she was better than any other nation in her willingness to carry out her obligations. That is a hopeful sign for the future. The Prime Minister referred approvingly to the Soviet attitude with regard to Finland and Rumania—no change of regime required and moderate terms asked for.
I should like to say a word, careful and cautious I hope, about the difficult question of Poland. Premier Stalin has made it clear on more than one occasion that he wants to see a free and independent Poland. Naturally, he wants a friendly Poland too. We have in this country a Polish Government, which I believe to be moderate, democratic and statesmanlike in its outlook. It has as its Prime Minister a statesman who is well worthy of confidence in this respect. At the same time it is fair to recognise that there are certain elements in military circles to whom the words I have just used could not be applied. There are certain elements which are authoritarian in outlook and anti-Soviet. That makes progress difficult. But, taking the attitude of the Polish Government, I feel that there is room for friendly accommodation and a settlement between the Polish Government and her great Eastern 973 neighbour. May I say parenthetically that I feel that with regard to the recent question of the Polish Jews, the Polish Government have done everything in their power to put things right and to prevent these occurrences and that it is through no unwillingness on their part that these soldiers are not in the British Army. It is essential that any agreement should be freely negotiated between the two States concerned, Russia and Poland. The appearance of pressure or force majeure would make progress impossible. I should have thought the Soviet Government fully capable of displaying a magnanimous outlook.
After all, what do two towns, to which the Poles attach so much importance, matter to them compared with the good will, the friendship and the confidence not only of the Poles but of vast numbers of people all over the world? If agreement could be reached by a friendly gesture from the Soviet Government, it would make things easy for the Poles and they would be rendering an immense service to the whole world, and not least to themselves. It is said that East Prussia should be given to the Poles in compensation for adjustments with regard to the Curzon line. I do not think there is any connection between the two or that they should be related together. To my mind the word "compensation" is not the right word to use. I think East Prussia should go to Poland in any case on strategic grounds, because to have Germans there is a danger to world peace, and I hope that will be done. It may be said that would involve a transfer of population but, as the Russian armies advance through East Prussia, there will be a very rapid transfer of population. Any Germans who may be there at the time will move away at an extremely rapid pace. But when you think of what is happening in the world, the slaughter in cold blood of millions of civilians, men, women and children, by the Germans in that part of the world, and the transfer of whole populations, to talk of the sanctity of Germans living in a particular area is quite out of the picture. Some people say we must not do anything of that kind unless we get the consent of the German people, because of the Atlantic Charter. I never heard such nonsense—that we should go on our knees and ask the Germans for permission to carry out any changes which may be 974 necessary for world security. I am glad the Prime Minister has made it clear that, while the spirit of the Charter applies to Germany, we are certainly not bound to ask their permission for anything that may seem necessary.
The Prime Minister said that this was not an ideological but a national war. I think it is both, mixed in different elements, because we are fighting for freedom and democracy—and there is more, than one form of democracy; it may be political, industrial or economic—and we are fighting for civilisation. It was well put in speeches broadcast by Mr. Cordell Hull, and in the Dominion Prime Ministers' statement when they said that we are going to see democratic government set up in enemy countries. I am glad that that has been said because there has been too much talk in the past about the form of government inside a country being no affair of ours. It is of profound importance to us whether the form of government is a war-like one or not. I think I am entitled in this connection to recall that I was the first Member of this House to advocate here that forcible action should be taken against the Germans. Hitler came into power on 30th January, 1933, and I introduced a Bill on 23rd May, 1933, to apply economic sanctions to Germany. That was the time to act.
The Prime Minister said that we were not necessarily going to try and change the form of government in other States. Surely the test to apply in our relations with another country is not necessarily whether it is democratic in our sense, but whether it is peace-loving and co-operative. There can be dictatorships that are peace-loving. There are Turkey and Portugal, for instance. No one would say that they are aggressive. They are quite capable of coming into a world peace organisation because, whatever their internal organisation may be, their attitude towards the world is a co-operative and friendly one. Apart from that, I think that democracy is doing well at the present time. It is doing well in Greece; it is doing well in Italy; it is doing well in Yugoslavia; and I hope it will do well in Germany after the war. We have to beware of the danger that the Germans will undoubtedly attempt to use any and every means after the war to capitalise the pity, sympathy, tolerance and kindness of the people here. They will organise a pity campaign, trying to take advantage 975 of the situation, and we must watch carefully to see that we are not taken in by it, so placing the Germans in a position in which they can start arrangements for a third world war.
A word on Ethiopia, which is an entirely different subject. We are negotiating a new treaty, but is not that a matter for the United Nations as a whole rather than for us? Help and finance should be given, but it is not solely a British concern, and both from our point of view and their point of view, it would surely be better put on a world basis.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Is the hon. Gentleman quite convinced that the present ruler of Abyssinia desires that?
§ Mr. Mander
I do not know, but one would have thought from his past record that he would prefer to deal with a world organisation rather than with one single State. My hon. Friend may be better informed. I should like to associate myself with what was said by my right hon. Friend about the Jews. We must see in the settlement after the war that they obtain their rights. The problem is now unfortunately easier because millions have been slaughtered. Discrimination against them must be stopped, and I hope that one of the results of the war will be to set up at long last the national home for Jews in Palestine. We must recognise that after the war we shall not be the greatest country in the world, physically or numerically, but there is no reason why we should not be the first and greatest in political leadership and spiritual influence. I hope that we shall try and hold high that ideal for our country, because, as Huskisson said:England cannot afford to be little; she must be what she is or nothing.
§ Captain De Chair (Norfolk, South-Western)
As I listened yesterday to the Prime Minister, I was reminded of the words of Emerson:There is in the action of his mind a long Atlantic roll, not known except in deepest waters.Since then we have had a Debate with many thoughtful speeches, including the spirited and refreshing speech from the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg). I hope that the Committee will have an opportunity of hearing the new Under-Secretary of State for Foreign 976 Affairs, whom we all welcome to his new post, so that the Committee may have an opportunity of seeing how "the face which launched a thousand ships" at the Admiralty contemplates the dark currents of foreign policy from the windows of the Foreign Office. The Prime Minister put himself in the vanguard of European thought on these great affairs, but, as he said, it is easier to ask questions about the future of Europe and the world than to answer them. Although he gave some indications of the lines along which his mind was working, and, presumably, the mind of the Government, he did not go into too great detail about the specific arrangements he hopes to make for Europe. I hope, therefore, that it will not be indiscreet to look back over the past record of the Prime Minister in this matter of European affairs to see why he may claim, as he said yesterday, to be a good European. It is of interest to see what the Prime Minister has written in the past on the subject of a United States of Europe. So striking have been his words, and so portentous for the future of Europe, now that he is in a position to give effect to his former ideas if he wishes to do so, that I will quote him at some length:The conception of a United States of Europe is right. Every step taken to that end which appeases the obsolete hatred and vanished oppressions, which makes easier the traffic and reciprocal services of Europe, which encourages its nations to day aside their precautionary panoply, is good in itself—is good for them and good for all. … But this idea of European unity, so novel to untutored ears, is no more, in fact, than a reversion to the old foundation of Europe. Why should it appear startling to its inhabitants? Europe has known the days when Rumanians lived on the Tyne and Spaniards on the Danube as equal citizens of a single State. She has rested her emaciated body upon the venerable structure of the Holy Roman Empire.Those words were first written by the Prime Minister' for the "Saturday Evening Post" of America of 15th February, 1930, and he re-published them as late as 1939. It was in this article and in connection with this conception of a United States of Europe that he used words which will have a familiar ring to hon. Members who listened to his broadcast speech on 21st March:Imagine the ruin which would overtake the Army if there were nothing but battalions and brigades and divisions. … Imagine, on the hand, a supreme command which had nothing between itself and the numerous divisions, all marching and manoeuvring independently. Either method has but to be con- 977 sidered to be found manifestly absurd. Why cannot Europe in time of peace utilise a little of the wisdom she has bought so dearly in the crunch of war? Why cannot the civilian realise himself as French, German, Spanish or Dutch, and simultaneously as a European and, finally, as a citizen of the whole world?Those words were first used by the Prime Minister in 1930, when he was only a back bencher. Yet we heard him use them again only a year ago with all the emphasis at the command of a Prime Minister. Yesterday he said on this subject:for my part, hope to deserve to be called a good European—to try to raise the glorious Continent of Europe, the parent of many powerful States, from its present miserable condition as a kind of volcano of strife and tumult to its old glory of a family of nations and a vital expression of Christendom. I am sure these great entities which I have mentioned—the British Empire, the conception of a Europe truly united, the fraternal associations with the United States—will in no way disturb the general purposes of the world organisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1944; Vol. 400, C. 786.]I emphasise that phrase in the Prime Minister's speech—"conception of a Europe truly united."
Nor is it as if the Prime Minister were alone in the present Government in the belief that the only possible future for Europe is a United States of Europe. Not long before the war, a Pan-Europe Committee was formed in this House and was addressed by Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, who has for more than 20 years championed the conception of a United Europe. The interesting thing about that meeting is that nearly all the back Benchers who were on the committee are or have been members, some of them prominent members, of the present Government. The chair was taken by the present Secretary of State for India, and among the members were the present Secretary of State for Air, the Minister accredited to the French National Committee, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham, the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. H. Guest), the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson), who made such an interesting speech yesterday, the late Colonel Victor Cazalet, and the humble Member who is now addressing the Committee. Among the latest recruits to this body of opinion is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), because, in a recent Debate, he came out on the side of a United Europe. All 978 these Parliamentarians, varying in distinction, headed by the Prime Minister, have for years held as their considered opinion that Europe must unite, and these are, with due respect to the House, among the Members who know Europe best. Their views were reinforced in a powerful speech by the late Lord Lothian when he was Ambassador to America. In a speech at St. Louis he said that the future of Europe after the war must take the form of a European Federation. Now General Smuts has brought his big guns to the assistance of idealists everywhere in the world. Less than a week ago, when receiving the freedom of the City of Birmingham, he said:Europe must not be carved up, atomized and reduced to a helpless chaos of fragments. Rather should she receive a new stable structure as the United States or Commonwealth of Europe. … And in the making of this new structure this island with its unique position should play its proper leading part.In view of this array of authoritative opinion, who will dare to say any longer that the idea of a European Federation is utopian? The difficulty has always been to see how it could be brought about; but now, if ever, will be the opportunity. The war and the destructive power of Nazi Germany have levelled the familiar homes of European nations to a common heap of rubble called "The New Order." With the destruction of Germany, this will be swept away and the foundations of the new Europe will be bare. Are we to resurrect upon this open space a replica of the old mediæval jumble of houses, picturesque in their quaint gabling and tip-tilted roof-tops, or are we going to build for the new future to an ordered plan? There is nothing to stop us. All the difficulties which obstructed the construction of European unity before the war are now swept aside. All the nations upon the Continent of Europe—and I emphasise the phrase "upon the Continent of Europe"—will either have been defeated by us in battle or have owed their survival to our protecting force. The only great Powers in Europe after the war will be ourselves and Russia. I emphasise the word "in" because they are in Europe rather than of it, and their relationship to Europe will be of a special nature. Apart from Russia and ourselves there will be no great Powers in Europe for a long time to come. France, without a fleet and with the heavy disaster of 1940 to make good, will rise, undoubtedly, 979 with Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Czechoslovakia as a gallant nation. We must face the fact, however, that France will not be able to take her place among the leading Powers immediately after the war.
Therefore, if Great Britain, Russia and the United States of America decide that the nations of Europe shall form a federation, a federation can be formed and the framework can be built. The cats, as it were, can all be put into the bag. There will be a good deal of yowling and scratching for a while, but I am hopeful that, under the powerful supervision of the three great Powers I have mentioned, the situation inside the bag will sort itself out in time.
§ Captain De Chair
I hope not. If we lose control of the situation at the conclusion of hostilities, and lose the opportunity thereby of establishing that framework of a United States of Europe and if we allow the nations of Europe to reassert their conflicting claims, we might as well abandon, until after the third world war, the ideal of a United States of Europe. The ideal of a United Europe is no more utopian to-day than was the conception of a United States of America in 1786. It may very well be that the constitution of the new Europe will follow similar lines. We have to consider the special relationship to this new European unit of Great Britain and Russia. I may perhaps save myself a great deal of trouble and explanation if I fall back once more upon the pellucid prose of the Prime Minister, who said:It is, however, imperative that, as Europe advances towards higher internal unity, there shall be a proportionate growth of solidarity throughout the British Empire and also a deepening self-knowledge and mutual recognition among the English-speaking peoples. Then, without misgiving and without detachment, we can watch and aid the assuagement of the European tragedy and, without envy, survey their sure and sound approach to mass wealth; being very conscious that every stride towards European cohesion which is beneficial to the general welfare will make us a partner in their good fortune, and that any sinister tendencies will be restrained or corrected by our united strength.A moment's reflection will show that it would be quite impossible for Australia or New Zealand to enter the United States 980 of Europe. The Commonwealth and Empire is not a unit which can be lightly broken up. Only in recent weeks it has given to the world one more demonstration that it is a solidifying influence and, but for its unity in DNA the world would now be a Hitlerite ball or globule. Yet Great Britain has, inevitably, a special interest in the preservation of peace on the Continent of Europe. Our geographical position, within three or four minutes' flying time from the European mainland, must give us a dominant place in the councils of Europe. The way I look at it is this: Great Britain and Russia will act together as joint trustees or guardians of the new young Europe during its minority, which may well coincide with the 20-year period of the Anglo-Russian Alliance. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass), in his remarkable speech yesterday, said that he hoped our alliance with Russia would be based on realism. I hope so too. That alliance is a mariage de convenance, not a love match, but it may very well be that as the years go by intimacy and even affection may develop.
§ Mr. Mander
Does not the hon. and gallant Member agree that there is very great enthusiasm for Russia in this country at present, and for the achievements of the Russian Army?
§ Captain De Chair
I entirely agree, but I still hope that our relations will be based upon realism.
§ Mr. Alexander Walkden (Bristol, South)
Does the hon. and gallant Member not take into account that many of us received great inspiration and spiritual aid from great Russians who lived here as refugees, such as Kropotkin and Stepniak? We loved them, and we love Russia.
§ Captain De Chair
I accept that observation, and I hope that nothing I have said will contribute towards a lessening of that affection. In the past there has been much suspicion between the two countries, but we hope that those suspicions are now over.
Although Europe is stricken down, she is still the cultural capital of mankind, and America and even Russia are only suburbs of it. It seemed to me that the Prime Minister yesterday was more specific about the world structure than he felt 981 able to be about European structure. By a process of simplification and elimination, we shall be left with five great world Powers after the war—the British Empire, the Soviet Union, the United States of Europe, the United States of America, and the East Asia Co-Prosperity sphere turned the right side up. The Central and South American Republics will I believe, go into a Pan-American union. There will remain the question of Arab Federation and the position of one or two other nations like Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan, which will have a special relationship to the world organisation envisaged by the Prime Minister in his speech yesterday. The five great Powers will be the ones that I have mentioned.
When one has spoken at some length about a United States of Europe and one begins to speak about world unity, one senses a sort of scepticism in the House. It is as if hon. Members were saying: "All this is very fine, but human nature being what it is and the nations being what they are, these grandiose conceptions will never come to fruition," yet nobody has produced a workable alternative. Power politics have not prevented great wars, and mankind has been driven by its own failure relentlessly towards the ideal of world unity. Lord Palmerston, one of our greatest Foreign Secretaries, saw at once the simplicity and difficulty of foreign policy, when he said:If, by a stroke of the wand, I could effect in the map of the world changes which I could wish, I am quite sure that I could make arrangements far more conducive than some of the present ones to the peace of nations, to the progress of civilisation, and to the happiness and welfare of mankind, but I am not so destitute of commonsense as not to be able to compare ends with means and to see that the former must be given up when the latter are wanting.The world has moved on since then. It has passed through the wars of German aggression against Denmark in 1864, against Austria in 1866, against France in 1870, against the rest of the world in 1914, and against humanity itself in 1939. Everywhere throughout the world to-day, the idea of a strong world administration, literally embracing the whole earth, is gaining ground, notably in the resolutions on world federation which have swept America since Mr. Humber persuaded the Legislature of North Carolina to adopt the idea. During the Debate in that Legislature one speaker expressed the im- 982 patience of the majority when, following someone who had shown himself unable to grasp the possibility of world union, he said:The world cannot wait for the understanding of the last speaker to grasp the meaning of the Resolution,and sat down, which I shall do very soon. It is a hopeful augury for the future of mankind that the idea of a strong world administration is beginning to be generally accepted. It is indeed an inevitable consequence of the recurrence of world wars. World wars are a symptom of the impending unification of the world. As the quickening of communications reduces the world more and more to a single unit, there is a corresponding quickening of the scramble to get control of the unit. A hundred years ago the unity of the world was an impossibility; now it is a necessity. The only question is who is to unify, and who is to control? Even if the Axis Powers could be successful in their joint bid for world mastery, a contest would inevitably break out after the victory to decide who was to be the final conqueror of all.
The Axis attempt to dominate the world has forced Britain, the United States, Russia and China into a partnership which, at best, can lead only to joint trusteeship of the globe for a generation after the war. During that period of trusteeship, it will need all the wisdom of the nations to prevent dangerous cleavages being driven between their ideas as to the method of administering the world. Obviously, there are a great many difficulties, but the point to realise is that if we do not act quickly and resolutely when the world is in a state of flux immediately after the war, if we wait for the world to unify itself, we may wait for ever; or we may wait for its final disintegration in a third and larger world war. The time to act is immediately after the war, and the time to prepare to act is now.
Where we have been wrong is possibly that we have looked rather at the units of which the world is composed and have waited for their self-improvement and mutual adjustment before we thought it possible to contemplate their organisation into a single world unit. The Prime Minister may even be in an enlightened minority in wishing to establish the world framework arbitrarily, as his speech implied, when the first chance of doing so arises after the war. This implies allow- 983 ing the various national and continental units to readjust themselves, within this world framework, to the new state of affairs. In the past, we have waited for compromise among nationalisms and sovereignties to prepare the way for world unity, while, in fact, these nationalisms and sovereignties had the strongest vested interests in maintaining their separate independence. If they were once confronted with the fait accompli of the World State they would come to terms with it, perhaps grudgingly at first, but then with a rush to get in on the ground floor. This applies to the economic as much as to the political future of man. In the search for economic stability we have all been searching for national plans or continental plans, which are doomed to failure because, although promising in themselves, they are only workable within the orbit of a rational world system, and no rational world system has existed up till now. If the world plan comes first, the national plans will solve themselves accordingly.
Those who find the power to make peace unexpectedly in their hands at the end of the war must act like lightning. They must astonish the world, and pay small heed to the repercussions, until mankind, dazed by the brilliance of the stroke, will admit that this technique, which was once used to prosecute nationalist war for the aggrandisement of individual nations, is better employed in establishing a reign of peace. From the technique of preparation for a lightning war, we must learn the lesson of preparation for a lightning peace.
§ Mr. Emmott (Surrey, Eastern)
An hon. Friend of mine who is sitting on the opposite side of the Committee, remarked to me yesterday that this had been a remarkable Debate, in that it had gone very much upon general principles; and I agreed with him. I am glad that fundamental general principles have formed very much of the stuff of this Debate; and—a sentiment that I believe will commend itself to my young Tory Friends—there are moral principles which should underlie all our foreign policy. My concern to-day is to offer to the Committee during a few minutes some general observations on this note. I want to find, at this critical moment in our affairs, renewed assertion of the leadership of Britain in Europe.
984 I think that in the last two years or so there has come about a certain change in what I might describe as the political atmosphere of Europe. In 1940, and in the early months of 1941, when we still stood alone, and even long after those days, there was no doubt at all in the minds of the peoples of Europe what it was for which Britain stood; they had no doubt, nor had they any misgivings. Europe heard from this country no voices that need cause her disquiet. She heard no talk of irrelevant or unseasonable politics; she heard only words, notably from the Prime Minister himself, famous words which will live as long as English prose is read, and as long as English oratory is admired, words of which I need not now remind the Committee, which expressed the very spirit of courage itself; and the only fear, the only anxiety of Europe was lest Britain should lack the strength to translate her will into act. The nations of Europe had no doubt, and had no reason to doubt, that the cause of Britain was entirely their cause, for was not Britain resolved upon invincible resistance to Germany, the Power that was the enemy of their liberties? Alone Britain and the British Empire defied the enemy: and because she did so she was the acknowledged champion of the European peoples—aye, and of all peoples—who desired liberty. She was the moral leader of the nations. And, be it remembered, this leadership she had in the time of her greatest military weakness. Let her not lose it now in the time of her military strength.
Since those days, as I say, I think there has been a certain change in Europe. I speak not of things military, because there is no doubt about our military intentions or our power to execute them. I speak of things political. I do not desire to say anything about the relationship of Britain with the greater Powers, not, of course, because that topic is not important, but because the time at my disposal is too short to permit it. I should like, however, in passing, to say a word or two on a passage in- the Prime Minister's speech yesterday relating to Italy. It was that passage in which the Prime Minister said that the people of Italy must decide whatever form of democratic government, whether monarchical or republican, they desired. He went on to say:I emphasise, however, the word 'democratic,' because it is quite clear that we should 985 not allow any form of Fascism to be restored. …."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1944; Vol. 400, c. 768.]The only comment I would make on that important passage is that I hope we shall remember in our treatment of this matter, that democracy has a vastly different meaning in Latin countries from the meaning that it has in British countries. It has certainly not the same connotations or significance in those countries, particularly in Italy, that it has for us. Let us not forget that the Parliament of United Italy, established only so recently as 1861, never had the spirit or character of the Parliament to which we have the honour to belong. It never really acquired strength or authority comparable with that of the English Parliament. The assemblies led, or rather managed, by Depretis, Crispi and Giolitti lacked some of the essential characteristics of the Parliament of Westminster. There are many things which are inconsistent with our ideas of democracy, but which are not therefore Fascism, and may be necessary features of government in Italy. I think we have to be very careful in our definition of the term "democracy." I would say that democracy in this context is the true expression of the instincts and opinions of a whole people: and whatever satisfies that condition, that is truly democratic.
I go on now to the topic upon which I chiefly wish to speak to-day: that is, the lesser States of Europe. The lesser States of Europe, particularly those situated in the Eastern part of the continent, between Russia and Germany, are to-day concerned in a vital manner with a principle which lies at the very heart of this war, and is indeed one of the chief issues of it. I consider that the best expression of this principle is to be found in the message which Pope Pius XII broadcast to the world from the Vatican on Christmas Eve, 1941. In that message he said that the first condition of the establishment' of an international order which should guarantee to all peoples peace and well-being was this,that within the limits of a new order founded on moral principles there is no room for the violation of the freedom, integrity or security of other States, no matter what may be their territorial extension or their capacity for defence.This is the elementary principle of justice in which the lesser States of Europe are concerned in the highest degree: this 986 right of States to exist; this right of nations not to be destroyed; this right of nations not to have their Governments determined for them or imposed upon them by other Powers or external influences; this right of nations to exercise a really free choice in the determination of their society and their government. We must compromise on that principle, and it is for us to assert at this moment our championship of this principle which is necessary to Europe, against any challenger.
I would add one or two observations about Russia. She says she is concerned with her security against the West. It may be so; but the European States lying to the West of Russia are equally entitled to say that they are concerned with their security against the East. Russia demands security against the West; other States demand security rgainst the East. Further, Russia needs the trust and friendship of the nations on her Western frontier, and indeed of all the lesser States in the Eastern part of Europe, as much as she needs the trust and friendship of the Western Powers. When so much is said, as it is, about the coldness of the attitude of the Western Powers towards Russia, is that a matter for surprise? Russia complains of the cordon sanitaire, but the barrier was of Russia's making. For Russia, in 1917, established a system which was founded upon principles that were avowedly inconsistent with the fundamental principles upon which all the Western States of Europe are established. She founded a system which according to the repeated statements of its chief architect was calculated to undermine the foundations of the capitalist, Western States. Is it surprising that there has been this attitude of distance between the Western European States and Russia? That, however, belongs to the past, and I hope that we may now be entering on a new period in the relations between Europe and Russia.
The general principle, and the only single principle which unites the separate national causes, is that to which the Prime Minister made reference yesterday when he spoke of the reign of law. Now, if Europe only had to have regard to official statements and declarations made by members of His Majesty's Government, there would be no need for those anxieties which do exist; but there are other indications of opinion which are available to the European peoples, and to the world. It 987 is not one of the least remarkable developments of to-day that in the Press, but especially in broadcasting, there is a means by which the people of one country can reach, as it were, over the head of its government or round its government, to the peoples of other countries; and what flows through these channels is taken quite as much for indications of national sentiment as are the official declarations of His Majesty's Government.
There is much that has gone out from this country in recent years which causes great disquiet in Europe, because it is so obviously inspired by strong hostility to all established institutions and to traditional ways: and this is called Progress. The Prime Minister yesterday made reference to caricatures of General Franco. We are familiar with that type of caricature, which is neither clever nor funny: odious and characteristic caricatures by Low, and all that kind of thing, the whole tone and temper of which is inconsistent with the principle of the maintenance of law. I consider that it ought to be strongly condemned.
I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. A. Greenwood) recognise to-day that we stand in a special relationship with the European peoples, and I believe that to be true and important. England stands in a unique relationship to Europe. We have had an immensely long experience of the diplomacy and politics of Europe; and moreover Europe has no fear of us. The United States evidently cannot have the same diplomatic experience; and it is unnecessary to prove to this Committee the strength of the tradition in the U.S.A. of detachment from European affairs. Therefore, this country is uniquely qualified to exercise the greatest influence upon the States of Europe. It was for good reason that the former Mayor of Narvik, broadcasting in December of last year, said that the people of Britain are the fixed point by which other peoples, whose lives have been more violently deranged by the German onslaught and occupation, will seek to regain their bearings. Let us remember those words, and the responsibilities which they imply.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
My hon.Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Emmott) has made, as usual, a most 988 interesting speech. He will forgive me if I fail to follow him into those somewhat academic observations, but turn to the speech of the Prime Minister, and make a more realistic approach to a solution of world problems. The Debate, subsequent to the opening speech, which we heard yesterday, has disclosed, apart from the universal desire to win the war as rapidly as possible, wide divergencies of view. It is clear that, while the essential unity of the nation remains unimpaired, as regards the utter destruction of the enemy, in relation to the pattern of the new world order and the measures which are to be taken to prevent a recurrence of international conflicts there is considerable disunity among hon. Members. Let us face this issue realistically, even if we must shatter some illusions. We had, as hon. Members are well aware, an international authority for about 20 years before the war, fortified by the endorsement, sometimes active and frequently passive, of many nations. Millions of people throughout the world placed their hopes and trust in that international authority. But, in spite of the best intentions, it must be admitted that, whatever the cause may be, that international organisation failed to prevent aggression and war. That is an inescapable fact, which conveys a lesson for every one of us.
There can be no doubt that every hon. Member, without exception, in every quarter of the Committee, desires to promote an international authority capable of preventing war; but it must be effective, it must not be half-hearted in its approach, it must be ready to act; and its declarations, whatever they be, must be implemented by force. Of course, it is deplorable that, in this age, after long years of striving, we should have to rely on force—whether it be of a national or of an international character is beside the point; it still remains force. Not only must the declarations of such an organisation be fortified by force, but, whether they like it or not, the nations which subscribe to the principles and policy of that international authority must be prepared to renounce a large part of their independence. The nations of the world can have one or the other: they can have complete independence or an international authority armed with power; but they cannot have both. That does not apply to the smaller nations alone: it applies 989 to all. Not a singe nation now engaged in conflict could have dealt with the aggressor alone and unaided. Who would dispute that? That fact disposes—I say it with the utmost friendliness to the hon. Members opposite—of the contention that we can avoid aggression by seeking to promote our own security, on the basis of national arms. We can make our contribution—and we should be ready to make our contribution—but alone, a nation of 46,000,000 souls, with limited resources, in a situation, imposed upon us by events not of our making—we might have wished it to be otherwise—must seek the aid of other nations, not when the crisis emerges, but in advance.
But let us be under no illusion about the differences that stand in the way of the promotion of effective international unity. Karl Marx—I hope hon. Members will forgive me for mentioning the deceased gentleman—said, about 80 years ago, "Workers of the world, unite." My hon. Friends behind me will detect the implication. In the course of yesterday's deliberations there was disclosed disunity on precisely these issues. What is the use of pretending that it is easy to achieve international unity in face of national disunity, here and elsewhere? If we find it difficult to resolve our own problems, by what right do we seek to resolve the problems of other nations? That conveys a lesson for all of us, not only for hon. Members on this side, but for hon. Members opposite. Nothing would delight me and my hon. Friends more than to be able to promote a complete and effective international unity on the basis of the idealistic assertions that are frequently made. But international unity cannot be achieved in that fashion: it must be worked for, organised for; and all the implications of international unity must be appreciated. So we must consider the immediate problem. May I observe that it is an immediate problem? There I agree whole-heartedly with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), who said that we cannot wait until the end of the conflict: we must make a beginning, here and now, in shaping, at any rate, the framework of the organisation which is requisite in order to reach a partial solution of world problems. If that be so, and if I have hon. Members with me so far, on the principle I have enunciated, we should seek in a prac- 990 tical fashion to adopt measures which in themselves can assist in the construction of a bridge that can take us from the present chaotic position throughout the world into an effective international world organisation. That is our task—the construction of the bridge.
Let us consider what are the possibilities, whether our hopes can be fulfilled. Are the tools ready to our hands? I believe they are. Let us look at the situation merely for the purpose of argument and illustration in a regional fashion. Take a glance at Europe and, projecting ourselves into the future, we see Soviet Russia—a mighty nation. Let us discard all prejudices, whether of one side or the other. A mighty nation, mighty in arms, but potentially mighty in industry and in culture. Here are we, in Great Britain, once assuming, and rightly assuming, the moral leadership of the world, fortified by the Empire, and with a recognition of the high qualities of our people universally admitted. Then there is France—a France in the throes of international conflict, the victim of sabotage and treachery, but a France capable of a great upsurge—a national of 50,000,000 people—[HON. MEMBERS: "57,000,000."] Let us not quarrel about figures. Whether the figure was accurate or not, my meaning can be clearly understood. A great population, a people with remarkable intellectual and, may I add, revolutionary traditions, who have made their impact upon the civilised world, but a nation in dire distress—. a nation and a people waiting expectantly and hopefully for a friendly gesture.
It is in our interest that we should make that gesture to France. Let it not be forgotten that, in the past, France served us well, as, indeed, we served France well. A friendly France is better for us and for civilisation than a hostile and embittered France. That brings me to the question of the position of the French Committee of National Liberation. I preface what I am about to say, with this observation—and here I agree wholeheartedly, if I may be permitted to say so, with the Prime Minister. Many hon. Members may not accept this, but I venture it, nevertheless, as did the Prime Minister. Any weapon is good enough in order to beat this enemy. I would even go so far as to say that I would avail myself of General Franco, or Marshal 991 Badoglio, and I ventured, on a previous occasion, before the decease of the gentleman concerned, to say that I would even accept the assistance of Darlan.
When the desire is to frustrate the knavish tricks of the enemy, you do not concern yourself with what weapons you are going to employ, as long as they are effective. If it can be demonstrated that, either in the case of Spain or in the case of the French Committee of National Liberation, the course we have adopted will assist the most speedy ending of the war, that is agreeable to me. But we have to consider the future, and we have to ask ourselves whether our acceptance of General Franco and the peculiar political dispensation in Spain, or our attitude to the French Committee of National Liberation and General de Gaulle, is calculated to improve our prospects when the war is over, in the endeavour to promote the necessary organisation in order to resist aggression.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
Would the hon. Member forgive me for a moment, as the point I want to make, I think, reinforces his argument? Would he not agree that we have to consider the fact that the only neutral country which, so far, has had any assurance from this Government that they will get a good time after the war, is the only neutral country which has consistently worked against British interests?
§ Mr. Shinwell
That may, or may not, be a proper point to make in a speech, but I am bound to say that it seems slightly irrelevant to me. I hope the hon. Member will forgive me for saying so, as I know he is possessed of great knowledge on foreign affairs, but it is not relevant to what I was saying. Concerning ourselves with the future, we must ask ourselves whether the steps we are taking now are calculated to fortify our position when the war is over. That is the whole point.
Let me say a word first about the Spanish position. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gleefully said—and I was glad to see him in such a happy mood and also to detect the note of impending victory which heartened us all—in reply to an interjection, that you must make a distinction between the man who knocks you down and the man who leaves you 992 alone. It depends. If the man who leaves you alone has provided the man who knocks you down with a knuckle-duster, or has supplied him with the weapons of war over a long period, or, as an hon. Member opposite remarked to me yesterday, holds your opponent's coat, it is a quite different matter. Dare I say that that illustration seems to relate to the position of Spain and General Franco in the past four years? I do not put it higher than that. Demonstrate that your kindliness towards General Franco—I do not say the Spanish people, because they are divided; make no mistake about that—demonstrate that your kindliness to General Franco is going to help us to win the war more speedily, and I will accept him for the time being. But does anybody really think that you can promote a great international organisation with complete unity with such diverse elements as General Franco and Marshal Stalin, General de Gaulle, the Prime Minister and President Roosevelt? You cannot divorce yourselves from these ideological differences, these racial and cultural differences, these political and economic differences, in order to promote effective unity.
So we must try to construct the bridge. As I see it, to begin with, so far as Europe is concerned—and it will make its contribution to the promotion of effective international unity in the long run—we must prevent anything in the nature of hostility towards Soviet Russia. We and the Soviet Union, so far as Europe is concerned, could prevent further aggression. That is a practical solution. We could bring in France, the Low Countries and the rest of them, on the basis of complete understanding that whatever aggressor dares to lift his sinister head will be bludgeoned. There would be no war in Europe for many a long day, and that is our resolve.
So much for Europe, but what about the Pacific? Of course, we must promote the most friendly relations with the United States of America. We must do so in order to safeguard our interests in the Pacific—and we have interests in the Pacific which affect the standards of life of this country and Empire—but we must also promote these friendly relations in order to safeguard the interests of the people in the area, in China and elsewhere. That seems a feasible proposition 993 and it is a practical proposition. It does not go so far as the complete international organisation that some envisage, but it is a practical step. So here are two practical steps—in Europe, with Soviet Russia and other nations, and with the United States in the Pacific, and, indeed, elsewhere. Then there is the further bridge between Europe and the United States and any other nation that agrees to come in, for the purpose of dealing with aggression effectively. That is the kind of bridge that we must assist to construct.
In the construction of that bridge, the British Commonwealth of Nations must he ready to make a great contribution. I do not envisage this country entering into relations with the United States on the basis of Great Britain, alone, in isolation. I think that would be disastrous, because, as I have already remarked, we are, comparatively speaking, a small country. We must speak to the United States and Soviet Russia on equal terms, and numbers count and prestige is frequently derived from one's economic position and the numbers of the population. Therefore, we must speak as an Empire.
Some of my hon. Friends have been a trifle—but no more than a trifle, I hope —disturbed about various observations I have made on the subject of the British. Commonwealth of Nations. I am going to say to them, and to the Committee, that I refuse to withdraw a single word of what I have said on that subject. I shall tell them why. Incidentally, may I make this observation? I am not concerned whether my views are agreeable on one side or another, as long as they are agreeable to myself, because the essential thing is that you should first mean what you say and then have the courage to say it. Nor does it mean changing one's geographical position in this House. I refuse to withdraw anything that I have said, because, in the eyes of the world, the Empire counts for something. There is moral leadership involved and it is capable of high promise, because the Empire gave the whole world a lesson in heroism when Poland was attacked. That is the greatest achievement of all, The Empire did not wait for the United States of America or Soviet Russia or any other nation but stepped in. We went in, incurring a tremendous risk. It is probably a good job we 994 did not stay to count the risk, otherwise perhaps we should never have resisted aggression. That is probably due to the fact, as the hon. Member for Lanark (Lord, Dunglass) indicated or seemed to indicate in his speech yesterday, that we are always full of confidence, facing up to anybody however strong. You can take a risk once but do not risk it a second time.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
The hon. Member misrepresents me completely. I said that I did not think the countries in the Near East, Turkey and Greece, could be defended for the very reason that I do not think that we can undertake unlimited commitments.
§ Mr. Shinwell
If I misunderstood the hon. Member, all the better. Then he is on my side and at any rate I have achieved something. The Empire has democratic ideals and government, and that is something, and the Empire, combined as I have already remarked, is equal to any other great Power. Britain, alone, is not strong enough. Also the Empire can teach the world much in social advancement, and the conception of Empire has now been followed by Soviet Russia.
Mr. Gallaeher (Fife, West)
§ Mr. Shinwell
It is not the Imperialism of bygone days. This is a new conception—a conception of groups of civilised men and women who have come together for social, economic and cultural advancement and not for the purpose of exploitation or for the purpose of enabling the few to live at the expense of the many.
That is all I want to say on that subject. I conclude—I understand that I have exceeded my time under the voluntary guillotine—by saying to the Committee that our first task is to win the war as speedily as possible. There we all agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. On the eve of great events, and facing a grim ordeal, the generosity and benevolence of our hearts go to the men on the battlefront and we wish them a safe return. Although we may require to take slow and gradual steps, let us all seek to promote world unity. Let that be the ideal. Let us seek to work towards it. Let us, equally, seek to make the best of the existing good feeling between ourselves, the 995 United States of America and Soviet Russia and, finally, in whatever way we can, promote good feeling among the nations of the world.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
After a speech as interesting as that to which we have just listened, I am sure that all the Committee, and particularly Members on this side, will welcome the opportunity for wider debate, which the Committee has taken after the very factual review by the Prime Minister. I trust that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who, I understand, is to reply, will find it possible to move in some of these wider aspects of foreign affairs discussed in the two days' Debate, and will not feel himself necessarily confined to a rigid review of his actions in regard to this or that foreign country. The limitations which the Prime Minister imposed upon himself, when he said he was like a man walking among heated ploughshares, are not necessarily applicable to the rest of us, whose gait is not by any means so closely scrutinised by the world outside.
I was most interested in the approach to this problem taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell). I noticed what one might call a preliminary "bulldozing" of the track, and a clearing of rubble, with the object of building on it something broader and wider after he had cleared the debris as he said, or shattered the illusions and cleared them out of the way. He will forgive me if I say that his constitution was more fitted to the shattering of illusion than the subsequent construction of the building. I listened very carefully to hear what he had to say, as to the approach he proposed to offer, and I did not find such light and leading as I expected from him.
He said that we ought to do everything in our power to make a friendly approach towards France. I am sure that the whole Committee would solidly agree with that proposal, but I would have said that the Prime Minister announced yesterday exactly the sort of gesture we should most have in mind, namely, an invitation to General de Gaulle, the man who is universally regarded as the head and symbol of the movement of resistance, to come here, as he said, to talk over these matters with him. I find, in travelling in 996 parts of the French Empire, now freed from Vichy, even among those who are by no means favourably disposed towards the Committee in Algiers, a universal feeling that General de Gaulle has established himself, in a most peculiar way, as the very symbol and soul of the French resistance, and of the hope of the men of the Maquis for the future. He is the man who has been invited here. He has not been cold-shouldered, but asked to come here and talk freely and frankly with the head of our Government, and that gesture has been taken by us and not by Marshal Stalin or President Roosevelt. It is to London that General de Gaulle has been asked to come. It is in England he will talk with our Prime Minister. He is to have conversations with our Foreign Secretary. They will talk things over. It is to him that we have made a gesture as the symbol of resistant France and of the men of the Maquis and we should recognise it as a step already taken by the Government and announced to the House.
There was the further proposal of my hon. Friend that we should be friendly with Russia. Surely the Secretary of State has told us that he has signed a 20 years' Treaty of friendship with Russia. Surely, 20 years will see both the hon. Member for Seaham and myself far along the road of, let us say, political advancement. We have, of course, to be friendly with Russia, but I think the hon. Member rather slurred over some of the inevitable difficulties, which we shall encounter when we try, simultaneously, to follow out the other part of his advice, namely, to find a rallying ground for the smaller nations of Europe. We cannot shirk the fact that there are dangers. The smaller nations of Europe and of the world feel themselves equally overshadowed and overpowered, by the economic strength of the United States and the political strength of Russia. Both of these great Powers seem to them enormous Juggernauts moving irresistibly along, and quite likely to tread on and extinguish any smaller organism which lies in the track of their great feet.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
My right hon. and gallant Friend has misunderstood the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell). He was putting the argument supported by many of us that smaller nations of Western Europe 997 should come into the ambit of the British Commonwealth in order to avoid these dangers.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
If I may develop my argument—and I wish to put this point particularly to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs —the point of view for the smaller Powers of Europe is whether the emphasis is on ourselves or our companions. There must be clear realisation in our minds that we shall have to undertake the very unpopular task, ourselves, of standing up both to America and to Russia. Let us not mistake the difficulties we shall be in either in this Committee or outside, if we take either of these steps. My hon. Friend the Member for Seaham put forward an eloquent plea for the utmost cooperation with the United States of America. I remember that my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir John Wardlaw-Milne) and myself brought forward only a few days ago a proposition for co-operation with the United States of America over monetary policy. [Interruption.] It is not difficult to see that, as soon as any practical steps are suggested, the hon. Member for Seaham finds himself in opposition to it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am within the recollection of the Committee. The contention of the hon. Member for Seaham was that it was all too practical—he would have preferred something still more tenuous, more shadowy, less concrete and with more loopholes than the proposition we put forward. He was the only man who said that if it lay within his power he would reject the proposition. He is entitled to his view, but to come forward after that as a keen apostle of Anglo-American co-operation is a role in which he is perhaps a little unfamiliar to us in this Committee. We can, however, forgive him all that, because of the eloquent passage with which he ended, about the necessity of co-operating with the other nations of the Empire. He was pushing at a door which, happily, is wide open now, and rightly so. That attitude will involve a certain emphasis of our own position, our own point of view which it is necessary to take every opportunity of emphasising in a Debate such as this, which will be listened to all over the world.
998 I, also, am strongly in favour of cooperating with the United States of America, but we are not the only candidates for the moral leadership of the world. There is Mr. Cordell Hull. He is also a candidate, self-nominated, for that post. I would like the Committee to pay attention to what Mr. Cordell Hull said during Foreign Trade week, 21st and 22nd May. He said:Above all, preparation must be made for the reduction, the revision or removal of unreasonable trade barriers, and for the removal of trade discrimination in all forms.I merely quote against that the words in the first leader in "The Times" of 26th January, 1944:What is wholly incompatible with any constructive social policy is a return to the automatic processes of 'free trade' and the removal of trade barriers.I simply say that we who are inclined to be realists should put these two statements in juxtaposition and make it clear that neither this Parliament, nor any other Parliament, as far as I can see, that is going to be elected within the next few years in this country, will give up the right of selection, the right of choosing those friends which are so necessary for us, living in a constellation of sea communities, and not, like Russia and America, within a great armed ring-fence within which they can do exactly as they please. America, the paradise of hard-shell private enterprise. Russia, the paradise of hard-shell Communism. You might call them the Great Crustaceans, the great hard-shell countries. We are a vertebrate, we are a soft-skinned country, with our bones inside, but with a possibility of growth, which, I think, is denied to those who put on their armour first and then develop their flesh inside it. I think we are in fact the youngest of the three great Powers of Russia, America and Great Britain. We, the British Empire, Great Britain, are developing all the time in our constitution.
The only attempt I have ever seen to reduce the Constitution of Great Britain to writing, in a form in which it could be understood by the foreigners, was in the original Constitution of the League of Nations where, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will remember, the name of the United Kingdom was set out on a line rather different from the other nations, 999 and the Dominions followed, inset by a quarter of an inch or so, as having the same powers, but not being exactly the same as ourselves. Even that was swept away by the Statute of Westminster, and they all appear now on exactly the same footing. The Statute of Westminster is more recent than the setting up of the Soviet Republic and far more recent than the Declaration of Independence. The recent Premiers' Conference is younger than either of them. Our group is evolving all the time, and it will be very necessary continually to bring that to the notice of the two powerful creatures with whom we find ourselves associated. My hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson), in a most interesting speech at the beginning of yesterday's Debate, said that the Prime Minister had yoked his plough on the one side to a young eagle, and, on the other side, to an enormous and very suspicious bear. It was a vigorous metaphor—he said he was trying to imitate the powerful imagery of the Prime Minister himself—but it illustrates the necessity of attracting the friendly attention of these great creatures as often as necessary.
When Mr. Cordell Hull said he was opposed to any form of discrimination, he was saying something that is not true, or, at any rate, that does not hold in every circumstance in which it might be applied. Take immigration. Does anybody suppose for a moment that the United States President is going to the country in the autumn on the principle of throwing down all the barriers and making no discrimination whatever between any of the races who seek to immigrate into the great Republic of the United States of America? Not for a moment. Well, what are immigrants for him are goods for us. The private choice which he claims to exercise, and rightly claims to exercise, over these with whom he will be associated inside the boundaries of his country it is necessary for us to claim for those with whom we are about to trade and in which countries we have to invest money, for possible development outside the boundaries of our country. There, too, we shall have to make it clear that the circumstances under which we are developing are not the same as those of Soviet Russia, and are certainly not the same as those of the United States of America.
1000 The hon. Member for Seaham brought up the very delicate question, "With whom then should we be particularly associated?" He answered it—if I grasped his argument aright—by saying with the Western Powers of Europe more particularly. I think that is true, but there are difficulties and we must face them. I have been twice associated with negotiations which concerned the small States in the East of Europe, once as Minister of Agriculture, where we were engaged in economic negotiations and, for a time, the Foreign Office was transferred to a back room in the Ministry of Agriculture. Argument went forward, and we were able to come to agreements with those small, friendly, happy countries who were anxious to make progress, anxious to trade. Then, again, I remember a long and bitter set of negotiations when we were trying to come to an arrangement with Soviet Russia. There were bitter suspicions on both sides. One of the many difficulties was to what extent were we pledged—to what extent did we find ourselves bound—to insist on the absolute liberty to change their Governments, if they desired, of the small States on the Eastern side of Europe?
As hon. Members will remember, these negotiations were unfruitful. We were not able to come to an agreement with Soviet Russia and, as everyone knows, one of the final difficulties was, how far were we willing to modify our attitude towards those small States? Well, whatever we desired to do for those small States, it was unsuccessful. They have been overrun, they have been steam-rollered, they have been cut up. The hopes that we had for keeping our word towards them —for they were also members of the League of Nations—of preserving their independence, their national entity, these hopes were lost. I should certainly think twice before attempting again to stretch a hand to the far side of Europe to take on such commitments, to put one's hand between the German hammer and the Russian anvil. These will be unpalatable decisions for the House of Commons to take, and grave responsibilities confront the Secretary of State when he enters into those negotiations. I trust he will be able to deal with them more satisfactorily than we were able to deal with them when we negotiated at that point, because, undoubtedly, there we 1001 came upon a head-on clash between the national sovereignty of those small countries, with their desire for self-determination, and the interests of the vast Powers on either side which ground them to powder in the past and may grind them to powder again if they insist on unlimited national sovereignty again.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
May I interrupt the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to clear up one point? I am sure he does not mean to imply that we should exclude the possibility of friendly commercial relations with some of those countries in Eastern Europe after the war.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
No, not for a moment. I had given a previous example of friendly commercial relations. I was talking of political relations. In passing, I would say I fear the result of an approach too exclusively by commercial and functional agreements because I find that, at the end, the political agreements override and roll these things out flat. However well you have done through functional agreements, you find, at the end of the day, that they are swept aside by the great political movements which concern the life and death of States, peace and war, and the other great issues which sovereign States have to consider.
I only wish to say again that the Secretary of State is having placed before him considerations which hon. and right hon. Members desire him to bear in mind when framing the foreign policy of this country. I say again, that the two great Powers of Russia and the United States are not of our way of living. We, the third Power, have a way of living of our own quite as original and still newer in the political, though not in the economic, sense. I ventured to suggest it was the vertebrate structure as against the crustacean structure. Let me end by saying that the essence of a vertebrate is a backbone, and that the backbone which is shown by our collection of States, both individually in negotiation and collectively in subsequent assistance and leadership to the world, will be the test of whether it is really a vertebrate or merely a jellyfish.
§ Mr. Tinker (Leigh)
On a point of Order, Major Milner. My protest is not based on my own desire to speak but I 1002 would draw your attention to the fact that this seems to be a Debate between ex-Ministers rather than back benchers. On a subject like this, I think it ought to be better balanced.
§ Mr. Tinker
It is about the only protest that can be lodged, and a protest has to be made to draw attention to what I think is wrong.
§ The Chairman
Perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to remember that the Chair is in a difficult position, and that yesterday a considerable number of back benchers took part in the Debate.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha (Devonport)
I would say, Major Milner, that right hon. Gentlemen, in this Committee, have almost the same rights as hon. Members and I am glad that you have protected them. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) has added to the wide range and interest of this Debate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) said in his practical speech, it has been a timely Debate. It takes place on the eve of what we all hope will be decisive events. If that be so, then military problems will be replaced by political problems of equal comprehensiveness and perplexity. Our purpose in these two days has not been to renovate the world; it is Europe which we are about to redeem and, in giving our attention to this subject, we may, to use the phrase of the Prime Minister yesterday, advance from vague generalities to more precise points.
It is 25 years since the last Peace Conference at Versailles. Why was the settlement there made so unstable and impermanent? The statesmen there assembled made an heroic attempt. They had seen the world system under which they had been bred pulverised. It had been a system of alliances and of balance of power. They were great alliances, alliances of mighty Empires. Britain had been compelled to under-pin her strength by an entente with France and an alliance with Japan. To these Powers Russia had been joined. That was in one scale. In the other scale were the Empires of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy. This was a global balance of power. It was found wanting. As a substitute for 1003 it, as a successor to it, collective security was adopted. What was that method? It was a co-operative method by which completely sovereign States, enjoying self-determination and retaining their independence of judgment and their liberty of action unfettered, met together to decide upon common policies to the extent to which it suited their individual purposes. That system did not suffice to prevent a second world war. You may amend the Covenant of the League. You may add to its membership. But no change in the drafting, and no alteration in the strength, can remove its underlying defect. There is an incompatibility between independent sovereignty and international authority. The two principles are completely irreconcilable.
What have we done so far? We have agreed to establish a world authority on the principle of the independence and sovereignty of nations and their equality —all nations, great and small. That is the principle of the League. We are to have an Assembly to which they are all to be invited. That is the principle of the League. We are to have a Council comprised of the great Powers. That is the principle of the League. We must hope that the Powers concerned—Britain, Russia and the United States—will live up to the height of the trust reposed in them, but the fact is that the essential irreconcilability remains.
We do, however, start under much better auspices than last time. Britain is supported by the whole of her Empire. That is the result of the Conference of Prime Ministers which has so successfully concluded. The United States, on this occasion, is to belong to the international organisation. That is a great achievement. Russia is to belong to that organisation. Another great achievement. Both achievements are due to the patient and skilled diplomacy of my right hon. Friend and his colleagues. We start under better auspices. There are no inter-Allied debts-on this occasion to cloud the relationships of the great Powers. The vision and imagination of President Roosevelt have substituted the method of Lend-Lease. We are not to have reparations on the same extravagant scale, but only restitution. The great Powers are not to concentrate on disarming one another; they are to preserve sufficient armed strength to maintain order in the world. All these are great 1004 improvements, and must be acknowledged. But the fact remains that there is this irreconcilability between the individual sovereignty of nations and an international authority.
It is quite obvious that there can be no executive power in an international body if it depends on States exercising their individual sovereignty and only co-operating to the limit of their desires. That is a mathematical proposition. To what practical conclusions does this lead? Does it not mean that we shall be deceiving ourselves if we place our hopes of peace solely on the creation of an international body so constituted? It does not mean that we should not create the international body. It is obvious, however, that no nations would be prepared to surrender their sovereignty to a global organisation composed of States of different degrees of culture and civilisation and different traditions. The world organisation, which is essential, can fulfil many useful purposes. It can bring about common standards, it can settle disputes, but in a crisis it is always liable to fail. That must be realised. If, then, we want peace, shall we not be more likely to get it if we restrict the scope of the problem within practical limits?
Take the case of Europe. That is the seat of the microbe which has twice infected the world. We can isolate that problem and we can devise a satisfactory treatment. It is not unreasonable to require that in parts of Europe, at any rate, particularly in the parts closest to our shores, there should be some surrender of sovereignty to a central body. What is the characteristic of Europe differentiating it from the other Continents? Europe is the only Continent—I leave out Russia for this purpose—in which there is no form of unity. In Canada there is federation, in the United States there is federation, in South Africa there is federation, in Australia there is federation, in India there is federation—in every one of these cases the component States have surrendered certain powers to an executive authority. Even in the great inter-Continental and oceanic organisation of the British Empire, there is a surrender of authority, a compromise of sovereignty, 1005 an understanding of nationality without nationalism, although in a less formal manner. In Europe alone there is no unity.
Have we the right, or the responsibility, to use the phrase of my right hon. Friend who opened the Debate to-day, to try to bring about this unity, or should we stand aside? Should we say: "These are matters for the individual States. Our task will be fulfilled when we have won the war and recreated the old States out of the dust in the form which they bore after the Treaty of Versailles"? Should we stand aside, or have we the moral right to influence a decision? Russia is pursuing her policy in Eastern Europe, a policy directed to preserving her own security. It is a policy in which we are acquiescing but which we are not initiating. We are recognising the power of Russia to deal with matters on her Western frontier. On what grounds would our Ally resist an attempt by us to secure our own security, without interfering in any way with the democratic rights, in Western Europe?
Would this be contrary to the wishes of the peoples concerned? Suppose we began with the federation or, to use General Smuts's phrase, a commonwealth, of Holland, Belgium and France, in whose strength we have a primary concern. Would that be offensive to those Powers? France, between the two wars, made repeated attempts to obtain a federation. There was M. Briand's plan, which was rejected for reasons which we need not now examine; there was M. Herriot's plan; and during this war M. Daladier advocated federation. He said that it would be necessary to envisage federal ties between the various States of Europe and M. Blum supported, from the opposition, the same proposal. General de Gaulle has advocated it in terms. Is it our interest to foster this, or is it not?
We have had speeches about France. There is in this House a passionate devotion to France. My hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Nicolson), who has just returned from Algiers, made an appeal for the recognition of General de Gaulle, and he was supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Cary), in a significant speech. What we want to do is not only to recognise General de Gaulle—I do not attach much importance to technicalities—but to recognise a 1006 fact, and that fact is this: My hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) referred to the population of France, and I would like to give the House two sets of figures, which are more conclusive than any argument, more indicative than any argument, of the steps which we must take if we are to preserve ourselves in the future and save ourselves from the exhaustion which a third war would involve. The figures are these: the French population, at the beginning of the 19th century, was 25,000,000. It was about equal to the population of the German Confederation. It was twice the population of Great Britain, and twice the population of Italy. In 1940, the French population was 41,000,000: it had become smaller than the population of either Great Britain or Italy, whereas in the early part of the previous century it had been twice as great. It had dropped to half of Germany's and a quarter of Russia's populations. More significant still, for every 10 French births there were 17 Italian, 27 German, and 80 Russian. Since then, 2,500,000 Frenchmen have been carried away. Does our security depend upon a strong Western Europe, or does it not?
Holland was not strong enough to buttress France—and indeed refused to make complementary arrangements with her—and Belgium was not strong enough to buttress France. Is it not in the interests of all of us to promote this federation? That is what I argue before this House as a practical proposition. I make no criticism whatever of the successes which have been attained; I think it is remarkable that Russia, the United States and ourselves should have been brought into agreement about the establishment of an organisation. That is a triumph of the first magnitude, and differentiates the situation of to-day from the situation after the last war. I do not want to press my right hon. Friend the Foregn Secretary to make a declaration on this subject now, nor would I have thought it fitting that the Prime Minister should have made a declaration about it yesterday, but I press it on my right hon. Friend as a solution for his consideration.
We are about to invade the fortress of Europe. It is not quite the same Europe that existed four years ago. Much has happened in these four years. Hitler has, for his own fell purposes, intergrated the 1007 economy of Europe. He has a unified transport system, a unified communications system, a unified broadcasting system, and a unified postal system. He has a Reichmark which determines the rate of exchange between all the occupied countries. He is not bound to take any account of frontiers. Apart from the suffering which he has caused, he has made changes on the surface of Europe. Cannot we use for good what this man has intended for evil? Cannot we take account of these facts? Hitler did not make a geological distribution of iron and coal over the borders of Germany and France; he did not arrange the resources of Europe in such a way that they were regionally inter-dependent. We go in with a clean sheet. It is by our Armies that the peoples of this Continent will regain their freedom, and it is by our Armies that they will retain it. Have we not the right to ask for something in return? The least we can ask is that there should be a constitution of Europe, or the parts of it in which we are principally interested, which will give us a guarantee, in so far as human devices can guarantee it, against a third world war.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister concluded his remarkable survey by claiming to be a good European. What a striking and paradoxical boast for the spokesman of an island Empire! He claimed to be a good European. What did he mean by that? Surely he was recognising that in Europe was the source of our secular, as it has been the vehicle of our religious, civilisation. He was recognising that in that Continent had been nourished peculiar values which have regard to human personality, that the people of that Continent have given a way of life to the world. Their preference was for craftsmanship, painting and individual endeavour. They did not set efficiency as the standard of all their judgments. They did not mistake wealth for happiness. Better ideals were deeply enshrined in Europe. It is these which we have 'the mission to revive. It is that Europe which we can, if we will, reconstitute.
§ Wing-Commander Roland Robinson (Blackpool)
Though not having had the privilege of hearing the whole of the discussion, I feel justified in detaining the Committee for a few minutes. I should like to have heard more, but it was only 1008 on Tuesday morning that I left Italy, where I have been serving with the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces on the combined Anglo-American staff. The Allied Air Forces are devoting their main effort to the air offensive against Southern Europe and the Balkans. I felt, perhaps, that the Committee might be interested to have a few impressions which I have been able to gain at first-hand. It has proved a great encouragement to all of us in Italy, to see the great success which our French friends have been able to obtain in the field during the past few weeks. They are proving their worth, both in the field and in the air, in a way that delights us all. We wish them well and hope that their troops may go forward to victory and to the regeneration of France.
The Prime Minister yesterday spoke of the great sufferings through which the Italian people have gone. Anyone who has been there cannot fail to realise how grievously the Italian people have suffered from the wrong-doing of Mussolini and the Fascist authorities. After years of oppression by the Fascists, they now see their country turned into one vast battlefield. It seemed to us when we went in that the people were war-weary. Once a gay and happy people, they have now lost their hearts, but they retain the old Italian desire for freedom, which was born in the days of Garibaldi, and indeed long before that. We feel that the people there need, above all, leadership and unity so that they can join with us in the struggle to eject the Huns from their country. It has, undoubtedly, been a good thing that Marshal Badoglio has been able to broaden the basis of his Government and include representatives of so many other parties. We in this country should do all we can to support such a broadening, not only in Italy but throughout the whole of the Balkans, in order to find some unity, some common ground for the oppressed people so that they may rise together and throw the oppressor from their country.
As it is with Italy, so it is with the Greeks. I happened to be in Cairo at the time of the Greek mutiny. There is no doubt that regrettable incidents of this nature not only tend to weaken the Greek and the Allied cause in the Balkans but also divert the attention of many of our own soldiers, who might be engaged 1009 in offensive operations against the enemy. In Greece or anywhere else, brother cannot fight brother and expect at the same time to defeat the common foe. Hence it was, indeed, good that our Government and the Prime Minister should have devoted some time to try to heal those breaches among the Greek people. It may be that, with the new Government which has just been formed, we shall have common ground and unity from which the Greek nation may once again go forward. The Greeks undoubtedly have fine qualities. They have great fighting men. I have never seen their armies in the field, but only a few weeks ago I sailed in an American built ship. It was flying the Greek flag, and was manned by an all-Greek crew. Those men were quietly playing their part in the war. It was not until after considerable cross-examination that they confessed that in the few preceding months they had taken their ship into the Anzio beachhead no fewer than 24 times, with arms and supplies for us.
Perhaps the most interesting thing of all to me was a visit that I was able to pay to Marshal Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia. I went there, not as a Member of this House but rather as an Air Force officer, and in that way, I was able to form a view based on practical achievement rather than one that might have been tinged with political bias had they known that I was a Member of this House. I did not meet Marshal Tito, I did not visit his headquarters, but I spent some little time with his men who were operating in a certain part of the country. I gained the impression that our British Mission was ably led by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean), who is doing a really outstanding job. I think, too, that it was a very good stroke when the Prime Minister allowed my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Preston (Captain Churchill) to go there as, well. It made a profound impression on the common people there that our Prime Minister should allow his own son to, share the trials and tribulations of the common people of Yugoslavia. There is, no doubt, very great friendship for us. I went in with two officers of the American Army Air Force. When the partisans saw our uniforms, British and American, they at once opened their hearts to us and were prepared to do 1010 everything they could to help us and to show us everything that they had. Our uniforms symbolised to them the help that they were getting, and expect to get, from the Allied Forces and it made us really proud of those uniforms.
Never have I seen a war effort so completely "100 per cent." as among the partisans. It was an inspiring sight to see them all, men, women and children, fighting. That was their one view in life. During the three or four days I was there, I saw only two people who were not in the partisan army, and I believe they had come with a mission. The people were interested only in fighting and killing Germans and clearing their country of the invader. The women were fighting as well as the men. They carried guns and grenades and went out on nightly raids. Even the children were doing their bit. I remember two boys about 12 years old who went out to one of the islands, and they came back next morning with two German officers as their prisoners.
The military discipline of these partisan soldiers of Tito is great. They have spirit and strength, and they have courage. Having seen these fighting men, I believe that our Government were right in their decision to send supplies to a body of men who are prepared to fight to the last man in order to get the Hun out of their country. If we send equipment to Tito and his men we know that it will be well and properly used. They have every reason to fight. I saw shiploads of refugees from oppression who were coming out of their country. It made one's heart bleed to see the sight. They looked poor and weak. They were oppressed and downtrodden. They were hungry. I saw a young fellow, who could not have been more than 22 years old, with both hands cut off. I saw two boys of about 12 each without an arm and two children of six each of whom had lost an eye. I saw old men, women and children who could hardly drag themselves along. The Prime Minister said that atrocities had indeed been great. He was right. With that background and that knowledge of what has happened to their own people, the partisans will use our arms with ruthless determination against our common enemy.
I believe that in Tito they have a great leader. It would be a profound mistake for any of us to be prejudiced against him on account of the fact that he has a 1011 Communist background. Out of the war and out of adversity there grows a new spirit, and a new national allegiance inspired by patriotism is thrown up. I believe that Tito is a leader imbued with the greater patriotism that comes from adversity. Of course, many of his followers are Communists, but his cause is common with ours. He has with him people of all races and creeds who are working together for a common cause, and we must be with him. It is the same with Tito, as with Russia. Our cause is common. Let us work with them, but do not let us do it merely on the grounds of necessity. Let us do it because we admire their spirit, because we admire their endeavour, because we respect them, and, above all, because in our hearts we want them as our friends.
§ Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)
The whole Committee has listened with great attention and interest to the moving personal experience of the hon. and gallant Member for Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson), but if he will forgive me, I will not follow him into those interesting fields. At this stage of the Debate it is difficult to contribute anything very new, but I want to refer to some questions raised earlier in the Debate to which I hope the Foreign Secretary will reply. I would like, first, to say a word about France. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson) and every subsequent speaker urgently pressed that the French National Committee of Liberation should be recognised as a Government. It seems to me that that is to put the matter rather extremely. The French Committee of National Liberation has not, and cannot have, an electoral mandate, and I think that many friends of France and many members of that Commitee will recognise that to ask under those conditions for full recognition is rather a difficult thing. None the less, the fact remains that if we are going into France in the near future we have to recognise a provisional Government there.
The Secretary of State replied to a Question which I addressed to him some time ago by saying that we regarded the Committee of National Liberation as the trustee for France, and the authority with which we should negotiate when we landed in France. If that is so, I find it difficult to understand the position taken 1012 up by the Prime Minister yesterday. Some Government has got to be negotiated with. Important questions are to be decided urgently now, such as the question of the provisioning of the population of France when Allied troops get into possession, questions of requisitioning of property and of the administration of justice—all kinds of questions of a difficult nature, which cannot be improvised when the moment arrives. Unless those questions have been settled before the Allied Forces occupy France, it is difficult to hope or believe that a satisfactory settlement will be arrived at a little later. I hope that this question of recognition will be reconsidered when General de Gaulle comes here. We hear that he has accepted the invitation that has been extended to him. We hope that he will be here before very long and that these questions will be thoroughly discussed and a settlement arrived at before our invasion takes place.
There is another country to which I would like to make a reference and about which the Prime Minister said something yesterday. He spoke about our relations with the Government of Spain. Everybody, including hon. Members on this side of the House, wishes to have friendly and cordial relations with the Spanish Government. Everybody will be glad if those relations can be speedily established. Everybody appreciates what the Prime Minister said about the obligations we are under to the Spanish Government for their behaviour towards us at various periods of the war. None the less, the fact remains that the Spanish Government were, until the war was far advanced, hostile to ourselves. They supported in every conceivable way the military action and policy of our enemy. They sent a division to fight against our Allies in Russia. These facts must be taken into account when the resettlement of Europe takes place. I speak with respect always of the Prime Minister, because every one of us owes him so vast and undischargeable a debt for the services he has rendered to this country during the past four years, and I am not one of those who would easily or lightly wish to say anything critical of his policy to-day after the burden that he has borne and the great services he has rendered. None the less, we are concerned now with the future and not with the past. I think that his analogy yesterday with 1013 regard to our relations with Spain and his distinction between a man who has knocked us down and a man who has not were false.
The question, when you come to regard a man, is not only whether he is going to knock you down but whether he is associated with people who have knocked you down, and whether he is looking round the corner to see whether the policeman is coming or is finding them another bludgeon. There is no question that that was the attitude of the Spanish Government at that time. When Europe comes to be resettled I should certainly support the arguments put forward from various sides of the Committee that we have to find some machinery in the new world not only for taking action against the aggressor but against the would-be aggressor, the man who is preparing for aggression and whose policy is likely to lead to war. That is one of the problems of to-day.
That brings me to the problem that we are discussing at the present time. Some weeks ago, when we last debated these great questions, and again yesterday and to-day, a large number of hon. Members have made their contributions to the symposium of what caused the present war. With modesty, I hope, I would like to add my contribution. From all the contributory reasons, and of course there were many, I would single out one. It is that, in the interval between the two wars, the great nations of the world were unable to make up their minds between the old system and the new. I would count us among the greater culprits in that respect. We were faced with a situation which was not really to be coped with by the old method of alliances and of national armaments used in an individual sense and, on the other hand, there was a new condition of affairs which required some basis of law to administer it.
It is not my purpose to expound the virtues of the old League of Nations. We all know about its defects. It is inescapable that a choice has to be made when the war is over between a system based on law and extending not only to continents but to the whole of the world, and the old-fashioned system in which individual nations, retaining their sovereignty, made their awn particular arrangements for self-defence, either within a small group or by themselves alone. There is a great deal to be said for the old system of alliances. 1014 You knew exactly where you were, unless your alliance was so long-dated as to become otiose, as was the case with our own alliances before the war. Otherwise, you had a circumscribed time in which you knew that you could depend upon your alliance, and you could agree upon the amount of the contribution that you were going to make in ships, money, arms, etc. You could also measure the fluctuations which arose from the movements of your opponents.
The great problem of alliance in the last 20 years has been that the tempo of life has been so much faster. Changes in human thought have been so much more rapid, and the facilities for producing new and terrific forms of armaments have become so much greater, that alliances have been increasingly of less value. That was at the bottom of the relationships that France had with us during the 20 years before the war. Increasingly the French found themselves having to face a burden of war alone, finding themselves in the position of front-line troops. Increasingly they found themselves facing the enormous weight of armament which Germany could bring against them, and they tried to compromise and equivocate in regard to the political situation. Exactly the same thing happened over here. We realised the terrific form that war was going to take, and we became less and less anxious to plunge into it. Although there is a great deal that can be rightly said about the Munich policy, the fundamental feeling of it was no doubt based upon a horror of the threat of war to the people of these islands.
That makes nonsense of the whole system of alliances. It creates a world in which neutrals must increasingly desire to draw out of the responsibilities which alliances involve. It must increasingly mean, if an alliance is to be effective, that nations must be powerful and equipped with resources in men and arms. It increasingly calls up counter-alliances against them. Hon. Members yesterday spoke of an increasing alliance. I do not believe there is any such thing as alliances which may extend, and extend, and ultimately mean a world system. If hon. Members mean a world system, for goodness' sake let them set to work to lay the foundations of that system. Let us prepare to build it up. Do not let us hope that, by creating a small 1015 alliance, we can gradually draw more and more nations into it and escape the obvious consequence that a counter-alliance will rise up against it, and that an increasing number of small nations will desire to be neutral and escape the consequences of the coming clash between the two growing Powers.
If that is true, we must look forward with more energy and detail than we have yet given to this question of building up a world order and establishing world peace. Admittedly it is going to be an extremely difficult task, not because there are any insuperable political or economic barriers but because there are profound and searching psychological barriers. Nothing is more difficult than to dispose of the idea in the minds of nations of their right to exercise unfettered sovereignty. We have all heard people say that such and such a reform could never come to pass because of the opposition of human nature. It is true that the idea of national sovereignty is deeply implanted in men's minds and is difficult to expel. That makes it all the more alarming that the American Government should believe that they can enter into the post-war world on the basis of a system of unfettered sovereignties from which alliances—as I understand the policy of the State Department—will be largely excluded. That seems to me to be asking for trouble.
Before I sit down I should like to make an allusion to one problem which is much in hon. Members' minds at the moment, and which is bound up with this question of the post-war world order, the problem of the Polish boundaries. The Prime Minister has said words with which hon. Members will not seriously quarrel about the desirability of the Poles making surrenders on their Eastern frontier to Russia and receiving compensation from Germany for that surrender. The Poles are a great and gallant people, and everybody must desire that their position after the war shall be adequate to a nation which has a great contribution to make to the European scene. But if we are to assume that East Prussia or any considerable area of Germany is to be lopped off from the rest of that country we have to consider this question which I want to address to the Secretary of State. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will ask him whether he can say something about 1016 this problem. It is all very well to say that the Germans have no right to claim the application of the provisions of the Atlantic Charter to-day. I agree. I think they have no right. It is all very well to say that they should cede this territory for the sake of the Polish nation or Polish access to the sea, or European peace, but what is to be the end of this? Is there to be in the new order some facilities for peaceful change? If there is, at what point are the people who occupy East Prussia to be able to say that they want this arrangement to come to an end, and that they would like to go back to the German State? Are they to be refused indefinitely after the point at which German people have become decent members of society again?
Quite possibly some hon. Members will say that the German nation will never become decent members of society again, but we must not proceed on that assumption. We must proceed on the assumption that at some time the world will settle down and we shall have some system of European society really working together for the benefit of mankind. If that assumption is to be made, we must look forward to see what the borders of this nation are to be. If it is assumed that East Prussia is to be handed over, are the population to be moved to the centre of Germany? If it is desirable for strategic or defence reasons that East Prussia should be handed over, then might it not be said that the Rhine frontier should be handed to France? Where are you going to stop? Where are you getting to? When you have transferred the population from the Eastern and Western frontiers into Germany there will be created a new economic unit entirely different from what existed before. Are there plans to see that it functions in a way that will not disturb the peace of Europe?
§ Captain Alan Graham (Wirral)
May I remind the hon. Member that the German Rhineland on this side of the Rhine was handed over to Prussia in 1815 in order to counterbalance the preponderance of French population vis-à-vis Western Europe, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. HoreBelisha) spoke about? It has not been an integral part of Prussia longer than since 1815, and as the population position has altered so much to the prejudice of France it is quite arguable that it 1017 would be advisable to remove that control of the Western Rhineland from Prussia and Germany.
§ Mr. Martin
I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Member. I am aware of that fact, but it does not seem to me to alter the fact that a large number of people who live on the Western side of the Rhine are German people by many generations of descent. Has the problem been envisaged of reducing the German leibensraum, which in justice is a perfectly desirable and defensible proposition? What will happen if you reduce the German leibensraum to such a state as to have a highly centralised population? It seems to me that that population will become highly industrialised. Either it will be a poor industrial population, which is a continual menace to the peace of Europe and the world, or it will be a very rich one, which will have tremendous effects on the future of this country and that of all the Allied nations in Western Europe. All I ask—I do not want to debate that problem now—is, Has it been considered by the Government? What is their answer to the decision to hand East Prussia over to Poland having regard to the consequential developments that that win probably have unless it is linked up with a general European settlement which we all desire to see? It is quite conceivable that East Prussia may become part of Poland, but it should at least be seen as part of the whole problem and not as an isolated instance.
All I would say in conclusion is that I think we are deeply indebted to the. Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary for the part they played in bringing the Empire together—bringing the Commonwealth together—with us during the past few weeks. I think it is clear that not all members of the Commonwealth see eye to eye with regard to this question of a new world order. There are some members, important members, who think that the new world order must be of a more comprehensive nature than the British Empire. I believe they are right. For my part I set no great store on whether the Empire continues or whether it takes another form, but it should not change before the times are ripe for it to change, and when it does change, it should merge into something in which the English-speaking people, the British race, can make the contributions to human progress 1018 and happiness that they have done in the past.
§ Mr. Burgin (Luton)
If I understood the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Martin) aright, he seemed to say in his last few words that he did not think it mattered very much whether the British Empire remained in its present form or whether it changed. I am one of those Members of this Committee who think it is extremely important that the British Empire should remain in its present form. I merely wish to make that observation in passing. We are drawing to the close of a memorable Debate, and I think I shall consult the convenience of the Committee if, instead of making any general survey of the points raised by the Prime Minister's. speech, I content myself with making one or two points quite shortly, and reserving other matters for some other occasion. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Yes, that is all very well; but, subject to the safety of the realm or danger to the State, there is no topic of greater importance to all Members of this Committee and the country than foreign affairs. The Prime Minister, very naturally, spoke for the information of this Committee, the Empire, and the world, touching the principal topics upon which a world audience was awaiting guidance. Each of the matters to which he referred gives rise to a dozen or more problems, and many hon. Members have reasons for thinking that they have specialised knowledge on one or other of those major problems. Those of us who have, in the past, held offices in the State and have been delegates of this country to the League of Nations would claim to have, from experience alone, some contribution to make in regard to the shape, form, or character of any new world organisation; but time will allow contributions of that kind to 'be made in some other Debate.
There have been many references to France. There is no more passionate lover of France in this House than the right hon. Member who is addressing the Committee at this moment, but I would beg hon. Members to realise that this question of giving recognition, or not, to the Committee of National Liberation is the most thorny one. There are many difficulties and dangers, and I believe that we shall be best served by not covering them at the moment, and by allowing the meeting of General de Gaulle and the leaders of 1019 this country to take place in the hope that free and frank discussion will blow away many misunderstandings, and that certain assurances and promises can be given, by which many things will be made less likely. But I rose for an entirely different purpose. Every waterfall is potential electricity, but it will never become electricity unless the force of the waterfall is directed along some conduit and the electricity generated led by some system to a point of light. No foreign policy will be of any effect upon this country, or the Empire, or the world, unless there are adequate instruments and adequate machinery to carry it through. Nothing is more appalling in ordinary household experience than to turn a tap and find that the water does not run; and, unless the pumping station is maintained at its proper efficiency, and the water taken by pipes to where the tap is, the water will not run.
I have just returned from a four months' visit to Canada, the United States, and Central and South America; and it is my fervent wish that the reputation of the Foreign Office and the machinery of the Foreign Office, the powers at the disposal of the Foreign Office, should be increased, and made commensurate with the tasks which the Foreign Office is called upon to fulfil. If a ship of His Majesty's Navy appears, the entire world recognises the strength and force of His Majesty's Navy. If something from the Treasury is referred to, the whole commercial world, at al events, recognises the strength of His Majesty's Treasury. But the Foreign Office is not in the same category. The Foreign Office and its servants, men of most exemplary character, who work under the greatest difficulty, are not so recognised. That is very largely because this country, for a long time past, has adopted a most parsimonious attitude to its foreign servants. We had a Debate in Parliament not very long ago on a plan for the revision of the Foreign Service.
I found it particularly interesting to be in Brazil when the first implementing of that scheme was taking place, when all the Consuls of Brazil were called together in order that the first steps in the new composite Diplomatic and Consular Service should be explained to them. I found it interesting to be able to watch 1020 at the circumference something which had been decided at the centre. But the British Foreign Office representatives, diplomats, senior members of Embassy staffs, and Consular officers, are not supported from our country in the same way as similar officers are supported by other countries with whom we are having day-to-day contacts. All these plans we are discussing, all these matters referred to by the Prime Minister in his speech, should be geared into a machinery capable of producing results at the points at which they are required. That is why I am making this request. The Prime Minister said that if we have a world organisation, we must see to it that it is given military power. If we are having a foreign policy, we must see to it that our Foreign Office is given power to implement the decisions and the recommendations that are sent back from abroad.
This Committee would scareely believe that, in more than one of the countries of Latin America, the British Embassy is not either the owner or the sole tenant of the building that it occupies. The very idea of a British Embassy being in a building where there are many tenants, a building of which it does not occupy the ground floor, and to which a taxi cannot drive, strikes many Members of this Committee with horror. Yet that is a common occurrence. If you reside in an Embassy, you will be treated with every courtesy, and you will receive every hospitality; but you will find that the senior officials spend a considerable time every morning discussing which of them is entitled to ride in the inadequate number of cars which are provided. I am simply saying that, excellent as it is to discuss foreign policy, excellent as it is to have the Prime Minister making a chart of the journey which we are to pursue, it is only the engine power of the steamer which will enable it to follow the chart. The Foreign Office must have adequate backing, and adequate freedom from an out-of-date Treasury control. We must make its powers commensurate with the modern conception of representation, bearing in mind, if for no other reason, that trade follows the flag. I wanted only to make that one point: I do not want, on this occasion, to discuss all the attractive elements contained in the Prime Minister's speech, and I will leave the matter where I have taken it.
§ Major Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
There is very much that I would like to say, but there is so little time that I will confine myself to a few observations about matters on which I feel most deeply. I would have liked to have followed up some of the major themes of the Debate —to have said how much I agree with many of the statements of the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), how much I agree with the idea of federation outlined by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hare-Belisha), how much I agree with what the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) said and how much I admire the courage of some of the remarks, both pertinent and impertinent, of the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), although I do not agree with them all. But I want to say a word or two about particular subjects on which I feel strongly. None of us need be surprised—I think nearly all of us have exhibited pleasure and pride in the fact—that the Empire Prime Ministers were able to agree on the major principles of our foreign policy. We are pleased to know that that was so, but why should we be particularly surprised, when all of us in the Empire, having the same way of life, look at things so much from the same angle?
We understand the language of democracy, and we mean practically the same thing when we talk about democracy, but, now that the Empire has agreed upon the major principles of foreign policy and upon the outlook after the war, the real job is about to begin, for we have, as has been rightly said, to convince and convert those others of our Allies who may not look at things from the same angle as we do, for not all are democracies, and are, therefore, not able so readily to speak the same language. One hon. Member has said that democracy in Europe is not the same thing as democracy in this country, but the acid test of democracy, when all is said and done, to my mind, is whether or not it can tolerate minorities, or whether it tries to stamp out and squash minorities and not allow them to exist.
Another of the great difficulties which we have to face in the future, in consultation with other nations, in regard to the post-war world, is that our war aims and objectives are a bit mixed up and not, necessarily, by any means, the same. 1022 This war is not merely a defence against Germany. It is not merely a fight by Britain and her Empire, in accordance with her historic tradition, to protect the weak against the strong. It is for many an ideological war—to me, it is not. Quite frankly, it is to me and to many hundreds of thousands in this country, merely a repetition of the last war, in which we and the rest of our Empire took up arms to protect the weaker nations against a strong aggressor. But there are many in this country, and in this House, to whom that consideration is not, perhaps, so important as the fact of an ideological war against Nazism or Fascism. Therefore, their post-war outlook is coloured in that way and they will not feel that the war is won unless, in Europe and in other countries over which they can exercise some influence at the peace table, a Socialist regime exists. I am not interested in fighting this war for that at all. I feel that we have been fighting to protect the weaker nations, for whom, in the first place, we went to war.
But to come down to some more immediate plans, not so far distant as some of the theories we have been discussing. We have never yet heard anything with regard to what is going to happen in some of the countries of Europe whom we are pledged to protect, and for whom in great measure we went to war, during the most difficult period while the conquering armies of the Allies march through those countries to Germany and Berlin. I can well imagine that, in the West, we are negotiating and bringing to a fruitful conclusion arrangements which will give those countries, through which we and the Americans will pass, a thoroughly satisfactory status, a collaboration with us in the administration of their territories until such times as they can take over themselves. It would seem as though almost final arrangements have been made, in the West, but are we satisfied that we know exactly what arrangements have been made, or are in contemplation, with regard to those Eastern countries, in which we are also interested, as conquering armies pass through on the way to Berlin? Are these arrangements to be entirely unilateral at the exclusive will of the conquering army, or are they to be made not only in co-operation with the countries, and the legitimate Govern- 1023 ments of those countries, but also in accordance with the mutual agreement of the United Nations who form the great alliance?
I tried to get an answer to that pertinent, but, I do not think, impertinent, question some months ago in a foreign affairs Debate, but I never got an answer and scareely expected it. But now the time is ripe and opportune, surely, for those interested, both in Parliament and in other parts of the world, to have an answer. Is there to be any status whatever for emigre Governments, and are they to be allowed to collaborate in the occupation of their territory or are they to be excluded? What is right for the West should be right for the East. I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary whether he is prepared to accept a completely unilaterial decision in the East, which he would not be able to justify in this House, if applicable to the West? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will grasp the nettle and give some satisfaction to those of us who want to know what is going to happen in those Eastern countries when they are overrun by the conquering armies of our Allies.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
On a point of Order. Without questioning your action, Major Milner, in calling on the hon. Member, may I point out that the hon. Member will be the fifth Front Bench speaker from this party, four of whom speak for the Government?
§ Mr. Parker (Romford)
I want, in speaking to-day, to say a word or two about the subject of the Debate generally, but also to raise two points dealt with by the Prime Minister in his speech. First, in this interesting Debate, one thing which has been outstanding has been the very wide measure of agreement on all sides of the Committee on the need to create some kind of international authority after the war. There have been one or two hon. Members, notably the Noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass), and the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick), who took rather a different view and I would like to take up their argument for a moment. The Noble Lord spoke as a Scotsman, and the hon. Member for Penryn as a Cornishman. They are, no doubt a good Scots- 1024 man and a good Cornishman respectively, as well as good supporters of this country as well. They have a loyalty, not only to Scotland and Cornwall, but to Great Britain. There may be times when they feel a conflict of the one loyalty with the other, but, on the whole, I think they manage to reconcile them, although, if they feel that Scotland or Cornwall is not getting a fair deal, they will rise up and make a fuss about it. The Noble Lord said that if this country formed part of an international organisation, we should find an irreconcilable difficulty between loyalty to this country and loyalty to the international organisation. I think he was overlooking this point that, if we can reconcile loyalties within this country, we can reconcile loyalty to this country with loyalty to an international authority. One cannot admit that loyalty to a part is greater than loyalty to the whole, and it should not be impossible to reconcile loyalties of this kind.
The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) said we wanted to build bridges to this international authority, and I agree with him, but I would like to make this practical suggestion—that we want one important bridge constructed first—a political bridge. We also want a good many bridges built in the economic field. If we try to have one big bridge, to deal with political and economic matters all at once, we shall make no progress. If we take the political factor first, we can get over the difficulty of securing collaboration between a Communist country like the Soviet Union, a highly capitalist country like America, and a country like our own. If we try to make our international body at first a political institution we may get agreement on certain narrow political issues such as the keeping the peace, which is just what we want an international authority to do. If we can have some such international authority, which necessarily means some surrender of political authority by this country, and by Russia, and America to another body, able to guarantee and keep the peace, that machinery might work. Alongside that political bridge, we want more specific bridges to deal with particular economic problems. We may get collaboration between great Powers, to deal with questions like the control of oil supplies, of water power in the Danube Basin and the more of these bridges we can build, the stronger it will make our 1025 political authority as well. We should do these two things separately, but at the same time, and in that way, we are more likely to get some workable international authority.
I would like to deal with one point raised by the Prime Minister. He stated, with regard to the different Governments returning to their own countries after the war, that the Governments of King Haakon and Queen Wilhelmina are lawfully founded Governments, and we should recognise and co-operate with them fully. He went on to say:Should our liberating Armies enter those countries we feel we should deal with them and also, as far as possible, with the Belgian and Danish Governments, although their Sovereigns are prisoners, but with whose countries we have the closest ties."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1944; Vol. 400, C. 780.]I would like to ask the Foreign Secretary what exactly is meant by "collaborating as far as possible with the Belgain and Danish Governments." Does he think that because King Leopold is in prison, and because Denmark is overrun, and the King of Denmark has no authority in Denmark, we should just put up a Government here in one case, and perhaps the Government that previously existed in Denmark in the other case, and collaborate with them, or that new Governments should be set up when the invasion takes place? In what way does the Belgian situation differ from the French situation? The policy of the Government ought to be made a little clearer for the benefit of our armies of invasion and of the peoples of those particular countries.
The next point I would like to raise in rather more detail; it concerns what the Prime Minister said about Greece. Members on all sides of the Committee will welcome the agreement reached at Beirut in favour of creating a new United Greek Government, and we welcome also what the Prime Minister said about full British co-operation with that Government. The Government should however be a little more forthcoming than the Prime Minister was in what he said. I do not think that he was as generous or tactful as he might have been in what he said about the Greek situation. It must be recognised that it was only the pressure of opinion, not only in Greece itself, but among the Greek forces outside the country, even though it led to unfortunate things like the mutiny which took place, 1026 brought to bear on the Greek Government in Cairo, that ultimately led to the Beirut Conference and the setting-up of this new United Government. I think that we shall agree that as satisfactory a solution as possible has been found, with regard to the question of the King. There were this conference a majority of people who are Republican, but they accepted an agreement to collaborate with the King until Greece is free when the situation will be solved by the Greek people themselves. It must be recognised that there has been a surrender of principle both on the part of Republicans as well as Royalists in this matter.
The important thing that should be made clear to the Greek people is that the British Government have no intention of dictating to the Greek people what form of government they will have after the war. I would like to know from the Foreign Secretary whether the recognition of the new. Government means that supplies of arms, medicines and foods will go into Greece, to be used by all sections of the Greek people, in the united army that is to be, in fighting the common enemy. It has been put to me by numerous Greeks who support the general war effort against Hitler, that, if we can only send adequate supplies of arms to Greece, and we do something similar in regard to Yugoslavia, when the time of invasion comes, the people of Yugoslavia and Greece will themselves be able, very largely, to deal with the German troops in that part of Europe. It would be a good thing to get the co-operation of the people in that fight.
In regard to the conference at Beirut, I was interested to see the statement of the general secretary of the E.A.M. who said that the Greek people do not fall into two groups, of Russophils and Anglophils. They want to be friends of both countries. It would be very unfortunate if we gave an impression that we wanted our friends to dominate Greece, and were prepared to allow Russia's friends to dominate other countries in their part of the world. We want these people in Yugoslavia and Greece to be masters in their own home, and to run their own show in their own way. We should collaborate with Greece and give all assistance. We do riot want the partition of Europe into spheres of influence after the war. We want to see some kind of all-European organisation 1027 set up, in which the United States as well as Russia will co-operate. The peoples of Europe must be able to play their part in world organisation, and also to be masters in their own house, as far as their own affairs are concerned.
I have had many complaints from Greek friends in this country with regard to the conduct of our Ambassador at Cairo. It is claimed that he is very much bitten with the anti-Bolshevik bug and that many of the unfortunate things that have happened in recent months and years have been due to very strong prejudice on his part. Now that the new Government have been set up, it would be a good opportunity to send an Ambassador to this Government who could collaborate with them and see that we have real friendship between Greeks and ourselves in the coming months.
§ Captain De Chair
Is it in Order, Major Milner, for an hon. Member to attack an Ambassador who is performing his duties with singular ability in Cairo?
§ The Chairman
The hon. and gallant Member has asked for a Ruling. I do not think that our Ambassadors are privileged persons in that sense, but no doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will reply to the point.
§ Mr. Parker
There are differences of opinion, but this opinion is very strongly held by many Greeks who are friends of this country.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
Is the hon. Gentleman referring to the Ambassador who is accredited to the Egyptian Government, as I understood, or to some other diplomat?
§ Mr. Parker
Mr. Leeper. The point I would like to go on to now is a question which was also dealt with by the conference at Beirut, and that is Greek claims on other territories after the war. I think we should see that this country, which is an ancient friend of ours, is given territories where there is an undoubted Greek population after the war, such as the Dodecanese, when they have rescued from enemy occupation, 1028 parts of the Northern Epirus which are definitely Greek, and the Island of Cyprus where the great, majority of the population is Greek and which is desirous of uniting with Greece—only 18 per cent. of the population there is Turkish and opposed to union with Greece at the present time. I would point out to the Committee that, in the past, Mr. Gladstone gave the Ionian Islands—formerly British possessions—to Greece to assist in the establishment of a new government there, and I think it would be a very good gesture on the part of this country, to make a similar gift to Greece at the present time. It may be that in handing over the island we should keep our military bases there and the right to them, as we have the right to military bases in Egypt at the present time as regards the Suez Canal and so on. Perhaps further bases in other parts of Greece might also be granted us for carrying out our general international obligations after the war.
Some statement on that matter would help our friendship with Greece at the present time and I hope and trust we shall cease to interfere in Greek internal affairs and do our best to see that this new Government gets a fair start and can carry on a good job of work in driving the enemy out of South Eastern Europe and in building a new Greece that will play its part in helping to create the world community we want after this war is finished.
§ Sir John Wardlaw-Milne (Kidderminster)
I have listened, as have many hon. Members, to the larger part of this interesting Debate during the last two days and the outstanding feature of it to me has been the fact that most hon. Members are agreed in principle as to what they want in our future policy but are groping in different directions as to how to carry out a common purpose. I think the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) was perhaps a little bolder than most speakers, even on his own side of the Committee, when he went the length of deciding what particular islands in the Mediterranean were to be handed over and to what Powers. I think it is a little early to get on to questions of that kind. The interesting thing is that, while we have had so many different views expressed in this Debate, the fundamental underlying principle has been the same 1029 in almost all the speeches. It has been a question of everybody trying in different ways to find a method by which this country can after the war make the utmost possible contribution in bringing about world peace and prosperity.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his very interesting survey declared that it was the policy of this country to build up an international system to restrict the power of aggressors in future, and to retain strong enough forces to play our part internationally. I think on that we all agree; that is clearly what we and we hope all our Allies want to do, but I think it is well we should remember that we have already given certain pledges and definite undertakings which are sometimes apt to be forgotten. We have definitely pledged ourselves, for example, to the restoration of France. I do not want to enter to-day into the controversy which has been going on in the Committee for two days, as to whether we should now recognise the National Committee of Liberation, or whether that recognition should be delayed. I cannot think myself there can be any better move than the one taken by His Majesty's Government in inviting General de Gaulle to come here and discuss the whole matter across the table. But it is true to say that even if it were decided—if there were no other difficulties now in the way—to give recognition at once, it would only be recognition of a provisional Government, and in the time to come—we hope very soon—it will be possible for the French people, in France, to decide their future Government for themselves. This seems a strong argument for early action.
As I say, we are pledged to the restoration of France. We are also parties to the Atlantic Charter and we have concluded a mutual aid agreement with the United States and there is my right hon. Friend's great achievement in making a 20 years' treaty with Russia. I noticed to-day that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. A. Greenwood) asked for a clear definition of the Atlantic Charter. I must say I was a little surprised to hear that from the right hon. Gentleman because the Atlantic Charter is not a treaty at all; it is merely a statement of principles, and the interpretation of those principles may be very much a matter of discussion and argument and even of divergence of opinion in time to come. However, there is one point about the 1030 Atlantic Charter which is sometimes overlooked. There is one definite statement in it that cannot be argued and the details of which cannot lead to a difference of opinion. It definitely commits its adherents to unilateral disarmament of the enemy Powers. That is one thing defined clearly in it. When I say that, I do not in any way cast doubts upon the great advantage of laying down the great principles of the Atlantic Charter, I merely say that it is not a treaty, and that it can be interpreted in different ways and there may be differences of opinion about it.
Unilateral disarmament of enemy Powers brings me at once to a question which has only been lightly touched upon in this Debate and that is: What is to be our definite policy in regard to the disarmament of Germany? I think everybody is agreed that Germany has to be disarmed, her military and air power destroyed. But there has been a great deal said in the Debate as to what the future of Germany is to be and it has been suggested that it would be a great advantage if Germany could be told now what her future is to be. In all these things I believe it is a great pity to try to move too fast; we cannot really do so with safety. We could not lay down with our Allies the future of the world at this moment even if we had won the war, far less before we have won it. One thing is perfectly clear: in the world we foresee Germany, or any other country, cannot be kept permanently in chains. The prosperity of nations is interdependent, and I would emphasise that by saying this: as I see it, there are only two courses before the world after this war. The world will rise to great heights of prosperity and security under international co-operation or, alternatively, it will fall back under a system of economic nationalism which will almost inevitably lead to another war in the early course of time.
There is no doubt whatever that in time to come Germany must have her place in a world which will want her great scientific attainments and her energy but, before that time comes, clearly she must be purged of the brutal doctrines which have caused her to plunge Europe into war over and over again in the last century and which, in my view, have not altered in the German character for several hundred years past. That means, a real re-education of the German, people, 1031 and it probably means also a splitting up of Germany in some way or other. Above all things it means definitely the splitting of the Prussian influence from the rest of Germany. That is fundamental, if we are to have any success in bringing Germany back, eventually, into the comity of nations. I am afraid this will take a long time, and it means quite clearly local governments with local police forces in an endeavour to build up local feeling and local independence, whether some of the many States of the past eventually join together for common services or not. The same problem which faces us by the terms of the Atlantic Charter in regard to Germany will face us in regard to Japan when the time comes. I do not want to enter into that to-day, because we are looking ahead already and I do not want to look too far ahead all at once. But it is quite clear that we shall have to make definite arrangements when the day comes to deal with her naval and military power and the future of Japan.
Consideration of the Far East position brings me to China, and I want to ask the Foreign Secretary whether he can tell us something of the help and assistance which the Government have been able to give to that much tried country. China is the oldest belligerent in this war. She has really been in it since the seizure of Manchuria in 1931. If ever there was a case of a country being unprepared, China is that unfortunate country. If we realise the want of cohesion and the unpreparedness of China, we can appreciate that marvellous resistance she has offered. Despite her withdrawals, disasters and defeats she has engaged something like 1,000,000 men of the Japanese forces, and that fact alone must have been of very great moment to those who are now fighting the same enemy in the South Pacific. I do not suppose China's resistance has always been 100 per cent. effective. It would be futile to say so—after all, there have almost always been internal wars in China—but to-day she is united under Chiang Kai-shek and it is one of the misfortunes of this war that we have not been able to give her any real assistance in the way of arms during the last year or two. I am not making any criticism, because I realise the difficulties, but it is a real tragedy.
The closing of the Burma Road was a blow for her and the loss of Burma, more 1032 recently, was a still greater misfortune. When one realises what has been done by the air squadrons working on the borders of Burma one realises what a difference a number of aeroplanes would have made to China a year ago, or even a few months ago. Without any exaggeration, so far as anybody can see, China will offer as great, or greater, possibilities for development after the war than any other country in the world. Do not let us forget our long friendship with China; let us look upon her and speak of her as one of the four great nations which will have a great part to play in the future.
I now want to deal with a domestic matter but one which also affects our war effort in the Far East. Statements have been made during the last few days, in another place, in connection with the transfer of the Enemy Section of the Ministry of Economic Warfare to the Foreign Office and also, I understand, about the eventual closing, soon after the armistice with Germany, of the Ministry of Economic Warfare altogether. I do not want to suggest that I am not glad to see that the Government intend to take a lead in the closing of Ministries after the war—I hope that that process will go on at a rapid rate—but I think it desirable and I hope it will be possible for the Foreign Secretary to tell us something of the arrangements which have been made. One thing struck me as a little dangerous. I understand that the work of the Ministry, which has been hitherto carried on in the Far East, is now to be carried on by the United States on our behalf and not by us at all. If that is the case—and I would like the Foreign Secretary to let me know—I think it is rather dangerous. In saying that I do not in the least cast doubts on the abilities, good will or genuineness of the United States' efforts which might be made there on our behalf, but I do not think we ought to hand over our interests in the Far East, even to our greatest friends. I think we ought to look after them ourselves. I would like to know also whether the Foreign Office has the staff and the organisation with which to carry on that part of the Ministry of Economic Warfare's work and whether it will be able to carry on the work of the Ministry in Germany, when Germany is defeated. I am sure the House would 1033 like to know something more about this matter.
The Prime Minister, yesterday, made some helpful references to the situation between Poland and Russia, and we all hope that these references will be proved to have been well-founded. I hope it may prove that he might have been even a little more optimistic than he was, because there can be no satisfactory solution of the problem of dealing with Germany after the war unless we have a strong Poland. Further, a strong Poland is the best possible Ally for the Russian people. I hope we shall have a strong Poland and a strong France. The United Kingdom and the United States have, I understand, made agreements with Belgium, Holland and Norway, but so far as I know no details of these have been published. I hope they provide for the early local administration of these countries by their own nationals when the time comes. I would like to know whether it is possible and intended to publish the details of these agreements.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister also outlined a new world organisation to secure peace but I hope that in considering this matter the House will not expect the Government or the Allied Powers, to move too fast. The United Nations to-day are fighting for power. Do not let us mince matters. They are fighting for power to enforce a permanent and enduring peace, and this power must be such as will secure it. We are not fighting to secure a permanent dictatorship. We are fighting for a peace which will enable us to build up a new international organisation and order after the war in which all nations can join. But it cannot all be done at once. I differ from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield in his request for a clear statement of the future world organisation. I think it would be the greatest pity to try to-day to outline fully what that organisation would he because it might do great harm after the war, when we eventually come to conference with all the Powers in the world, if our minds were made up as to the form which this world organisation should take. My right hon. Friend the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. HoreBelisha) made a statement bearing on that which I did not quite understand. He said the United States is to belong to the new authority. I understood him to mean 1034 that the United States had already agreed to join in some new form of world organisation.
§ Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne
I have no doubt that the United States is anxious to join in such an organisation, and everything that we do must be in the closest collaboration with her, but I am a little concerned to see a report in the Press that Mr. Cordell Hull and a committee of eight Senators are likely soon to make a preliminary report on international cooperation after the war and on post-war problems. They are likely, it is said, to frame a peace plan which contemplates courts of justice for the settlement of international disputes backed by cooperative military action rather than by a world police force. Also the setting up of an international council as directing body, of which the United States, Great Britain, Russia and China would be the chief members, other United Nations to be invited to the conference table and the Axis Powers, when reconstituted, accorded a place. All this is quite interesting and perhaps helpful if it were not for what follows. I do not wish to raise an issue unnecessarily with our good friends in the United States, but I think attention should be drawn to this. One matter to be discussed apparently is the inclusion of an "escape" clause under which no member of the council would be forced into co-operative action without its consent. This is said to have been advanced as an answer to the demand said to have been made for the preservation of American freedom of action in any international organisation which the country joined. As I have said before, do not let us try to go too fast, but, above all, do not let us set up any kind of organisation however limited its scope which has an escape clause, because, if we are not prepared to cooperate without an escape clause it would be far better to enter into no agreement at all. It seems to me that that is one of the greatest dangers there could be.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport said that independent sovereignty and international authority were almost impossible to reconcile. It may be so, but if we are to enter into any agreement even of a limited character let us do it wholeheartedly and not go 1035 further than we feel sure we can carry out. We cannot see at all what lies ahead but we know that the world all the time is moving on and it must unify or it must die. The old principle of disruption, nation working against nation, has gone. No new League or any similar organisation is possible until, outside Geneva, there is a spirit which promotes and sustains such an organisation. It is a new spirit, I fear, that is required in the human heart. Humanity has been caught up by forces for which no person and no class, capitalist, Socialist or anything else, is responsible. We have to get a different spirit if any agreement that we make is really going to succeed. In the old days a river separated two countries. Now, economically, the world is one. The forces that unite are in deadly struggle with the forces of disruption. To abolish war in the future we have to abolish the causes of war, and I believe that as the result of this struggle a new era of social security, health and happiness lies ahead. The past is finished. The future is in our own hands.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
I shall make my few brief points without preamble and without peroration. First, France. I noted that many hon. Members supported the powerful plea of the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Nicolson) for full recognition of the National Committee in Algiers. The hon. Member has a particularly good title to speak on that matter, for he has lately returned from Algiers, where he was able actually to see the Committee at work and, no doubt, to engage in long discussions with the right hon. Gentleman whom I have the best of precedents for referring to as Mr. Duff Cooper. Incidentally, I am sure many hon. Members must have read with particular interest, in the hon. Member's admirable article in the "Spectator" a week or two ago, of the attempts now being made in Algiers to establish an institution comparable to Question Time in this House. I think the reason given by the Prime Minister for non-recognition of the National Committee is not really adequate. He said we should not be able to recognise it even as the provisional Government of France.because we are not sure that it represents the French nation in the same way that the Governments of Britain, the United States and Soviet Russia represent the whole body of 1036 their people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1944; Vol. 400, c. 780.]I do not want to be provocative about any other Allied Governments, but surely it could be claimed that the French Committee represents the French nation at least as comprehensively as one or two of the other Allied Governments here in London represent their respective nations. It must be a matter of satisfaction to this House that no fewer than three hon. and gallant Members of it have lately been in direct personal contact with Marshal Tito, to whose gallantry the Prime Minister paid such welcome and eloquent tribute yesterday—the hon. and gallant Members for Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson), Lancaster (Brigadier Maclean) and Preston (Captain Randolph Churchill). They all come from Lancashire, you observe. It may be a case of what Lancashire thinks to-day of Marshal Tito, England will think to-morrow. Having myself had the privilege of talking with General Velebit, I should like to put in a plea not only for arms for Yugoslavia but also for medical supplies, which are most urgently and acutely needed.
Like others who have spoken, I was rather disturbed by the Prime Minister's references to Spain and his somewhat puzzling analysis of the future of Europe. Enemy or ex-enemy countries are not going to be allowed to have Fascist forms of government; but neutral countries are. One can only suppose that this qualification or exemption applies also to Allied countries: it is not inconceivable that at any rate one or two of our Allies might choose afterwards to set up Fascist or quasi-Fascist forms of government. The situation would be rather awkward and ironical if Fascist or quasi-Fascist Governments were set up here and there, in one ex-Allied country after another, until eventually only the Axis or ex-Axis Powers were firmly and compulsorily wedded to democracy.
There was one remark which the Prime Minister made in passing—it has so far, I think, aroused no comment—which I should be grateful if the Foreign Secretary would elucidate. If I am correct, and if the Prime Minister was not speaking lightly—and I can hardly believe he was —tnis represents a considerable change of policy, or, at any rate, an announcement of new policy on a specific point which many hon. Members on both sides have 1037 in the past asked about in vain. The Prime Minister said:We have great hopes that the city of Rome may be preserved from the area of struggle of our armies."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th May, 1944; Vol. 400, c. 767.]Does that represent a new policy, or was it merely a passing, casual remark thrown off by the Prime Minister? I can hardly believe that it was the latter. If it represents a change of policy I think the Committee is entitled to a slightly fuller explanation of it. I do not want to enter this controversy, but it would be from the historic, the aesthetic, and the religious points of view a disaster to humanity if the city of Rome were to be destroyed. It would also be a disaster to humanity if our armies in Italy were held up and delayed any longer. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether a way has been found of avoiding the one disaster without risking the other.
That brings me to my final point, which is also one that may be a little contentious and which has not been raised before. I must be brief because I want, if possible, to leave a minute or two for the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), who has been sitting here so patiently. I want very tentatively to raise the issue of the position of the Vatican in European and world politics. To my mind there are to-day two principal dynamic ideas in the world. One is the idea of Christianity, which finds its most highly organised and disiplined focus and expression in Rome. The other is the idea of what is roughly called Socialism or Marxism, which finds its most highly organised and disciplined focus and expression in Moscow. May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether he can say, from his knowledge of affairs in Rome and of the reports from our Minister there, if there is any chance of a reorientation of Vatican policy towards the democracies and towards the other countries? There have been some indications of this in recent months. It might well be of momentous importance to the future peace of the world—especially bearing in mind the tremendous influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland—if there could be something in the nature of a rapprochement between the Vatican and the Kremlin. I thank the Committee for listening with such patience.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
The hon. Member for 1038 Maldon (Mr. Driberg) has asked me a question, to which I should like to reply at once, in respect to what the Prime Minister said about Rome yesterday. I thought that it was clear to the Committee at the time that what my right hon. Friend meant was peculiarly closely allied to what he said. It was that we hoped the city of Rome would be spared the destruction of its monuments or any other destruction, but he did not indicate any new approach in the sense of any new instruction to our military authorities. I hope that the Committee feels that it has had two days of pretty good Debate. I have certainly had the impression that the discussion has ranged far and wide and that hon. Members have taken the opportunity, not merely of following my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his very conclusive review of our relations with various countries, but of going outside that and, as I think they should, of putting their own suggestions and ideas forward so that the Government may study them in their policy. At the conclusion of this Debate I would like to try to reply to the points that have been raised, and try, too, to carry matters perhaps a little further, as some of my hon. Friends have asked me to do, in one or two directions.
As I listened to this two-day Debate, I had the impression that there was a growing note of confidence about ourselves in the speeches. No doubt there are reasons for that outside these walls. Military events at the moment and the good news from our armies would account for it. But I thought there was more to it than that. I think that there was also the increased sense of unity which the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Empire has given us. I felt an echo when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) said that international unity was difficult to achieve. I could not agree with him more whole-heartedly. I happened to be reading in a history the other day about one of my illustrious predecessors who had one period of office of about 18 months. The history just noted the term of office of Lord — by saying, "No event of any international significance occurred." I thought that that was a time when I would have liked to be Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. We live in very different times.
I would like at the beginning of my remarks to say something about the 1039 meeting of Empire Prime Ministers. Many comments have been made in this Debate about that meeting, and I think it is right to say that it was probably at once the most successful and the most significant meeting of that kind which has ever been held. Both the men and the moment served to bring that about. Here were gathered together five statesmen of widely different character and experience, but all united with the one purpose of trying to maintain, and strengthen this Empire and Commonwealth and to ensure that the world should have the benefit of the service we could render it together. Of course, that is the note, as I conceive it, of the British Commonwealth and Empire. We are not an exclusive organisation, but we do think—and I make no apology for saying this—that we are the one really successful experiment in international co-operation that there has ever been. Out of that, we may suggest with becoming modesty to others there may be something to be learnt.
As I attended these proceedings, I reflected more than once what a strange, indefinable and, if you like, what an illogical thing, this British Empire is. Sometimes the links that hold it together seem so frail as to be almost non-existent, or so frail that they would snap at the first pressure. That is a mistake which foreigners often make. It is a mistake that Ribbentrop made, though God knows I and others tried hard enough to make him believe it was wrong. This demonstration of the reality of the strength of that relationship comes at a moment when it may be of real service to the world. Anyhow, it has so happened that, in two world struggles in one generation, the British Commonwealth has shown itself to have a unity which nothing can break. In the second of these struggles it stood alone for a year or more.
How difficult it is to try to explain what brings these men together from these many corners of the world, and leads them to feel such deep loyalty towards the British Empire. I cannot pretend to describe it, but perhaps, like all really deep forces that move mankind, there is an element of mystery in it that cannot be put into words. I believe that to be true. Of this meeting I must say that it owed its special character more than anything else to the leadership given to it by 1040 our own Prime Minister. Sometimes, here within this island, with our vast controversies and frequent Debates, it is difficult to stand back and view matters as they are seen in perspective by other lands and other peoples. Certain it is, that the immense advantage of my right hon. Friend's position in the world was of quite invaluable aid in leadership in those discussions.
There is another advantage. In the stress of war—and there is still a stress of war—nothing is more difficult than to avoid becoming immersed in the daily details of one's particular task, be it on foreign affairs, economic affairs, the Treasury or whatever it is, and the burden is such that when you have a moment in which you are not occupied with your own affairs, the Cabinet is discussing somebody else's affairs that are just a degree more tiresome than your own. When one is living like that, it is invaluable to be able to look at the problems which we have to face in company with a man like the Prime Minister. It is then that his experience is more valuable still. I can only say for myself that the experience was one that gave the greatest encouragement.
There was, it seemed to me, a feature of our meetings this time which I had not perceived before. I was privileged to attend the Imperial Conference of 1937. Since then we have developed to a very large extent the practice of sending the greatest possible amount of information to the Governments of all the Dominions; so that to-day, it is not merely a question of consulting them from time to time and asking their advice on some particular problem that arises, but it is the practice to give them fully all the information that we have on the day-to-day developments of foreign policy. The growth of that practice was immeasurably helpful at these meetings, because the whole background of knowledge was present to an equal extent in the minds of all the men round the table. It may be that there is more we can do in that regard. If there is, we will gladly do it, for I am confident that this exchange of information is an indispensable element in true co-operation between the Dominions and ourselves. If, as a result of that, we get from time to time, when we give information about foreign affairs or whatever it may be, replies, questions, even criticism, we wel- 1041 come them, because they are all elements of strength to the British Commonwealth.
Having made those remarks on that aspect of our work, I want to plunge into the details of some of the matters which were discussed. More than one hon. Member in the Debate, talking about foreign affairs, has said that in war-time, of course, foreign policy must take second place to the immediate military needs, and that is true. In war-time the Foreign Office has two duties: to help the military arm and, as part of that help, to maintain, as far as lies in our power, unity among those who are fighting the common enemy. Also, so far as we can during war-time, it is to lay the foundations for co-operation afterwards. Those are the tasks on which we are engaged now. In war-time it sometimes happens that military needs may even conflict with political needs. I will put it another way—you may have to take decisions for a short-term advantage which, in the light of long-term policy, you would prefer not to take—that does sometimes happen; but there is one aspect of the work we have done to which I would draw the attention of the Committee.
Despite all those difficulties, and I may say temptations, in this respect in war-time, we have not on any occasion in these four years of conflict, entered into any secret engagement of any kind with anybody. I want the Committee to understand the importance of that. Hon. Members, like the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson) who were present when the Treaty of Versailles was negotiated, will remember what embarrassment was caused when secret treaties were pulled out of pockets and engagements, often conflicting engagements, were all put on the table together. There is nothing of that kind on our part this time. To that extent, we shall have an advantage.
I have said that one of our tasks is to try to help the Armed Forces. I will give briefly some examples of what I mean by that; for example, the negotiations with Portugal about the Azores, the negotiations with Spain over wolfram, the handling of our affairs with Turkey which led to the stoppage of chrome. I had, as one or two hon. Members have remarked in this Debate, the task of lending help to our Allies, among others, in trying to smooth out differences which arise, even between Allies. Those are our tasks.
1042 Here let me say one word about the neutral Powers. My hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester was, I think, rather hard on us about the neutrals. He was inclined to criticise us for our treatment of them. I know they may sometimes regard our methods as harsh and arbitrary, and think that we take too little account of the rights of small nations. If they do, I can say truly we regret it. I can also say that we have asked no nation to take any step which violates its neutrality and owe have asked no neutral who is also an Ally—of whom there are some—to take any step beyond that which is specifically within our rights according to the terms of our Alliance, and we must insist to the limit on what are our rights. It is our duty to do everything in our power to shorten this struggle. And therefore, to the neutrals themselves I say that if sometimes we have seemed outspoken and urgent in our demands, I regret it, but it is a fact that such action as we ask them to take is in their own interests, as anyone in this hour can see, if only it shortens the conflict, which they, as much as we, wish to see brought to an end.
I must say that my sympathies and thoughts are more at the present time with the occupied countries. I felt that the Members of the Committee were many times right when they recalled the staunch Allies whom we have in Europe to-day. I think that at a time like this the Committee would like to send a message to those occupied countries—the smaller occupied countries of Europe—a message of encouragement and hope that their liberation may not be long delayed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I would like to speak of one or two of these countries. We had a remarkable speech just now—there were not quite so many Members present—from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson), just back from first hand experience in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. He told us of his experiences in a Greek ship, and how its sailors had 24 or 25 times taken that ship back into the Anzio beachhead. We are greatly encouraged at the political unity which the Greek nation has, of last, achieved. We can neither forget the past of that country, nor its own amazing achievements in this conflict at an earlier stage. After all, the Greeks were the first to 1043 debunk Mussolini. It was not we who did that. They defeated him and repelled him from their land, and we of this Committee would like to tell the Greek people that we hope that they are now united, and that they will be able to work together and re-establish their reputation in the world.
The hon. Gentleman the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) was a little critical of our Ambassador to the Greek Government. I think he said he had an anti-Bolshevik bogy. Quite honestly, I do not quite know what that means, or its particular relevance to the present situation, because people have different definitions of Bolshevism and bogys almost every week. However that may be, I can tell him that our Ambassador has, in fact, rendered the most loyal service in all this struggle. I happen to have known him for many years. Whether he has been right or wrong—[An HON. MEMBER: "Who is he?"] He is Mr. Leeper.
§ Mr. Woodburn (Stirling and Clackmannan, Eastern)
That is not the Ambassador to whom my hon. Friend referred.
§ Mr. Eden
Whether he has done right or wrong, everything he has done has been on instructions from His Majesty's Government here in London. [Interruption.] I wish to mention one or two other of these countries—Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The suffering of all these countries has been great, and the prayer for liberation is there. In particular, I want to say a word about the North-Western countries, if I may so call them, which have been referred to in one or two speeche—Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands. Within the last few days we have signed agreements with the Governments of all three of them. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) asked whether we could perhaps make them public. We considered that in conjunction with our Allies who have signed similar agreements, and we have found a difficulty in it because the agreements are not only political; they also contain military clauses affecting action which must be taken if and when these countries are liberated.
§ Mr. Eden
No, it is quite proper. A secret agreement disposing of somebody else's belongings would be most improper, but if it is a secret agreement arranging how by military means you are going to free a country I think that is not very shocking. That is what they are. I can tell the hon. Member, to relieve him from any strain of anxiety, that so far as the political clauses are concerned, what they are designed to do is to give the Governments of those countries the full control of their own affairs at the earliest possible moment.
Now I come to a country which has been mentioned several times in this discussion—France. There is no part of our policy to which we attach more importance than the restoration of the independence and greatness of France. France is our nearest neighbour, for more than 1,000 years our histories have been interlocked, sometimes in conflict. Sometimes the French got help from our Northern neighbours, if I may speak as an Englishman for just one moment, But I think that as inhabitants of this island we would acknowledge that no country has contributed more to the civilisation of Europe in the best sense of that term. For the future we know that the French people will have their part to play in Europe, and we shall need them, as they will need us, if confidence and security are to live again in Europe. In the meanwhile, I would like, on behalf of the Government, and I hope of the Committee, to pay tribute to the spirit of resistance which the French people are showing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—showing all the more despite the necessary bombardments which we are unhappily compelled to inflict upon them. I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) yesterday. He said we must hand over the full responsibility for the government of France to the French people as soon as is possible. I agree; there is no difference about that. There is not the least intention in our minds to inflict an A.M.G.O.T., as it is called, upon France, or indeed upon any Allied country whatever, though incidentally it is not in the least the kind of machine which the hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) so eloquently imagined yesterday. But be A.M.G.O.T. good or ill, it has no connection with 1045 France or any Allied country when they are liberated.
In the light of these observations, I come to the special problem of recognition, and I would like to try to put it in its true perspective. I regret that there is some misunderstanding as to the extent of recognition already accorded to the French Committee of National Liberation. For instance, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Maldon asked why we did not recognise the Committee, as though there was no recognition at all. Of course, that is not the position at present. We welcomed the unity of the Committee last year at Algiers. We were happy to recognise them last August as the body qualified to conduct the French effort in the war. We have gone much further than that since. We have dealt with the Committee as if they were the legitimate Government of all French overseas territories. We have made agreements with them—financial agreements, economic agreements—on that basis. Our representative in Algiers has been given the rank of Ambassador, and the French representative here, Monsieur Vienot, who is doing such good work, has been given a similar rank. More than that, we have dealt with the French Committee not only as if they were the Government in the territory where their writ runs already, but we are also dealing with them in matters which concern the Metropolitan territory of France, and as the French authority which will exercise leadership in France as her liberation proceeds.
Now I come to where I think the difficulty lies. In connection with these discussions certain conversations have been necessary, and these conversations, and the progress of them, have unhappily been interfered with by the restrictions which we felt compelled to institute over a wide area as a security measure on account of forthcoming operations. I say, frankly, that those restrictions are extremely troublesome to the conduct of foreign affairs, not in respect of one country alone. I would like to say at this Box how grateful the Government are for the spirit in which the Diplomatic Corps as a whole have taken these quite unprecedented measures. But the House will understand, as I am sure our French friends will understand, that, vexatious as these restrictions are, the needs of absolute military security must come first. 1046 That being so, we think that the best way to deal with the question of civil administration in France is to have direct conversations. It is for this purpose that the Prime Minister has invited General de Gaulle to come here and General de Gaulle has accepted. He will receive, I know, a warm welcome from all of us here. I feel confident that nothing but good will come out of that meeting, and that, when the whole situation can be surveyed, we shall be able to clear away all misunderstandings, however formidable they may seem now. At least, that is what we wish to do.
I will turn for a moment to another matter, to which I want to refer because of one or two speeches which were made, about our attitude to Europe. I do not know whether hon. Members happened to see a two-column article, which appeared in "The Times" on 13th May, containing an analysis of German propaganda. If not, I commend it as quite good reading. That analysis showed that German propaganda had just two themes, One was that the Empire was breaking up. That is not working awfully well just now. The other was that we were disinteresting ourselves in certain parts of Europe: in other words, that, at some place or other, never specified—it may be Moscow, it may be Teheran—we had done a deal, it may be with the Soviet Government or it may be with somebody else, by which we would cease to interest ourselves in certain parts of Europe. That is absolutely and categorically untrue. I would like to go further. In the first place, no arrangement of such a kind has been come to. In the second place, no arrangement of such a kind was suggested to us. In the third place, if anybody had suggested such an arrangement to us, we would not have agreed to it. Otherwise, the report is approximately accurate.
It is, of course, true that there are certain parts of Europe—Western Europe and the Mediterranean—where our interests are more directly concerned than others. But, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. HoreBelisha) emphasised in his speech, we are, above all, Europeans, and our interest in Europe is not limited to any single part of Europe. What we seek is the security of a Continent which has suffered so much, but which has given so much light and leading to the world in the past, and 1047 could do it again, if only it could recover its unity and prosperity. I am confident that the Governments of the Dominions perfectly well understand our position in this respect, and that they endorse it. No great country should attempt to do more in its foreign policy than its strength will allow. But, having said that, I think I can add that, as a result of this meeting, and as a result of the events in the war, the British Commonwealth's authority and influence in the world is at least as high as it has ever been; and that influence we should use, can use, and will use, to promote the prosperity and unity of Europe.
What do we want to achieve in our foreign policy? I would put it like this. We want, in our relations with other countries, to try to maintain a standard of honesty, of fair dealing, and of international good faith. Foreign affairs are really not so very different in those respects from domestic affairs. Human intercourse is based on good faith, on the. keeping of promises, on honouring the pledged word between man and man. I agree so much with what my noble Friend the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) said yesterday—we are very glad, all of us, to welcome him back—about the consequences of a lowering of international standards. I remember myself venturing to make, some years ago, a speech in this House, in which I said that I thought that we were in the presence of the progressive deterioration of international standards. I say, frankly, that I think that that process was one of the main contributory causes of the outbreak of this war. Why did the war become inevitable? It was because Hitler and Mussolini refused to observe the ordinary standards of international conduct in the day-to-day conduct of international affairs. It was more than that, because they used the desire of other nations to maintain those standards to obtain concessions, to profit by those concessions, and then to proceed to their next demand. They were encouraged by the desire of the peace-loving countries to avoid war if ever they could.
I remember an occasion, in a conversation with Hitler—I think it was 1933, or thereabouts—when he spoke to me of the Versailles Treaty, and he explained how that Treaty had been imposed upon 1048 Germany, and how, therefore, he could never accept it. I said, "What about the Treaty of Locarno? He said, "That is another thing. That was a freely negotiated Treaty. Germany signed that of her own free will. By that I stand "—or words to that effect. He said it with a fervour and an eloquence which, I confess, entirely convinced me. I came back thinking, "That is not such an unreasonable attitude," and so forth. Eighteen months after that, Locarno had gone the same way as the Treaty of Versailles. That was the method, that was the technique, of those men. If those methods and those techniques are practised, whoever practises them, there cannot be an enduring peace. So I say to the Committee: We cannot say to the world, "You have got to do this; you have got to do that." That is beyond the power of 45,000,000. But what we can do is, in our own conduct and by our own leadership, to try to establish and maintain those standards of international conduct without which there cannot be peace. That I conceive to be the duty of British foreign policy.
May I, for a moment or two, look a little into the future? When the victory is won, the first task will be close collaboration between the British Commonwealth, the United States, the Soviet Union and China—but in the main, so far as Europe is concerned, between the first three—to ensure that Germany cannot start this business again. I want to speak for a moment about co-operation between the three in particular—ourselves, the United States and the Soviet Union. If I emphasise it, it is because I am convinced that, if we can establish real understanding, all else, though difficult, will be possible. But, if we cannot establish that understanding, then the future is very dark indeed. Having said that, I am not suggesting that these three Powers should seek to impose some three-Power dictatorship on the world. That would be bad, very bad. But what they should do is to serve the world in assuring, at least, for the outset, that these two particular aggressors, with whom we are now dealing, are not in a military position to repeat in a few years' time what they did before. I hope I shall carry the Committee with me in that. There is nothing exclusive in our desire to work together. It is indispensable that we should so work together. May 1049 I mention a suggestion about cooperation in Western Europe? I think it may be desirable that we should have close, intimate and friendly relations with other countries in Western Europe, but neither my hon. Friend or anyone else would suggest that on such a foundation alone such lasting security could be found. We have to stretch wider than that.
I would like to say a word about our relations with these two Powers. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) spoke about our relative size—our 45 millions and these two countries, one with 140 millions and the other with 200 millions. That is true, but, on the other hand, I must tell the Committee that, though I have been in many negotiations with these two Powers alone, I have never felt any sense of inferiority, and I honestly do not believe that they felt any particular sense of superiority. I do not mean individually towards me, but towards this country. The reason is, of course, that, though we are only 45 millions, we have in this island a unique geographical position and a rather remarkable experience, because we are the centre of a great Empire. I would suggest that we need not over-stress the size of our partners or under-estimate our own significance. At any rate, of all our international troubles, that is the one that worries me least.
About the United States, I think I can say that, at this time, our relations are as close and cordial as they have ever been. We had the other day the experience of a visit from Mr. Stettinius, the Under-Secretary of State, who, I think, spoke to hon. Members upstairs. That visit was remarkable, not only because of his own personality, but because he brought with him a large number of representatives of the State Department, and they worked together with our own representatives in the Foreign Office, with the result that, apart from the understanding at the higher level, there is now interlocked, at every stage, an understanding by each of the other's policy. That is something quite new in our experience with the United States, or, indeed, with any country, and I think it will be of great service, because, although decisions must be taken by Ministers, it is good that all those down the hierarchy should understand each other's point of 1050 view. Recently, we have had, both from the President and Mr. Hull, statements that American leaders are thinking on broad, courageous and good neighbourly lines.
Now I turn to our relations with the other great Power—our Ally Russia. There is, in our minds, no reservation when we say that we wish to work with the Soviet Union in the fullest and closest collaboration, but it is also in the interests-of our two countries that we should accept that there are certain difficulties in this task, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. A. Greenwood) that we do not gain much by ignoring them. There is, first, the legacy of suspicion, difficult to describe and quite impossible to exaggerate. It is a suspicion which is not, as many think, of modern growth, but which dates back to, and existed in, the days of Tsarist Russia, and will be found many times in the records of the Congress of Vienna and so forth. Unhappily, it has always played its part in Anglo Russian relations, and it has a habit of accumulating suspicions on their side which produce counter-suspicions on ours, and, before we know where we are, a mountain of suspicion is the result. For that, there is only one cure—that, bit by bit, our peoples get to know each other better. We are ready, I say to our Soviet friends, to do anything in our power at any time to further that result.
There are other things—differences in form of government, differences in the attitude to the individual, to the Press, and so on. These are all pretty wide divergencies, and I repeat that we do better to face them frankly, but, on the other side, there is something else to put in the scale. There is the fact that, in the three great world convulsions, in the Napoleonic war, in the last great war and in this war, we have found ourselves allied and fighting together for the same purpose—to stop one man or one Power dominating the whole of Europe. On each of the last occasions when we fought together, we fell aside quickly soon after, but this time we have got to do better. We have an absolute conviction here in this country that the Soviet Union means to see this struggle through to the end. We have the same intention.
I have been asked about the extent of our collaboration now. For instance, 1051 are we consulted on such matters as the Soviet peace terms to Rumania and the negotiations with Finland? The answer is that we were consulted on both questions. In respect of Rumania, we thought M. Molotov's speech, and the offer made, fair and just to Rumania. In respect of Finland, we deplored the fact that the Finnish Government had turned down the peace terms. On both these matters, we were consulted. I do not want to belittle the extent of the effort which has got to be made in both these countries to make of this 20-year treaty a lasting reality of value to our two countries and to the world, but, surely, the Committee will feel that the stakes for the future in this matter are so huge that both of us must make every effort that we may succeed. Personally, I believe we shall succeed.
I have been asked several questions about the situation in the Far East, particularly by the hon. Member for Kidderminster, the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) and many others. I think we are all conscious of the heavy burdens that China carries just now. We in this country are in the fifth year of the war, and, looking back on it, it seems a pretty long period. China is, however you reckon it, at least in the eighth year of the war. Her people have suffered greatly, and many of her cities have been destroyed. We have been unable to carry to her all the help we would like to carry, and it is only by the remarkable efforts of the Air Force—quite unique efforts—in crossing the Himalayas, that any assistance has reached her at all. Her ordeals have been long and stern. We pledge ourselves anew that we will not rest until Japan is defeated and China has restored to her all those territories wrongly seized from her. An hon. Member asked me about supplies. In the main, of course, the supplies have to be for the United States Air Force which has been built up in China, and for the needs of the Chinese armies under General Stilwell's leadership; but, whatever space is left over, it is for the Chinese Government to say what priority they want for the goods that are sent to them. We all wish we could send more, but we are sending already to the limit of our capacity.
While speaking of the Far East, I would like to make a statement upon the 1052 position of our prisoners in the hands of the Japanese. What I am now going to tell the Committee arose from the suggestion made, I think, by the hon. Member for Seaham on 28th January, when I spoke about Japanese treatment of our prisoners and it was suggested that the Soviet Government might be asked to make representations to the Japanese Government on behalf of these prisoners. I communicated later with His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow, and he recently approached the Soviet Government and explained to them our anxiety. There were three points on which we particularly wanted satisfaction from the Japanese Government.
They were, first of all, that the right should be recognised of the protecting Power, in this case Switzerland, and of the International Red Cross, to visit all the camps in which British subjects were held and to report freely and frankly on the conditions prevailing. [An HON. MEMBER: "And civilians."] Yes. Secondly, we should be given complete lists of our prisoners of war and internees in their hands, together with a list of those who had died; and thirdly, that the Japanese Government should agree to receive Red Cross supplies, which would be sent at regular intervals in neutral ships to Japanese ports, and facilities should be given to distribute those supplies. The Soviet Government replied that, while these matters fell directly within the competence of the Protecting Power, they were, nevertheless, prepared to approach the Japanese Government in regard to them, and they have now done so, and I want to thank them and to express the thanks of the Government for their action. I ought to add that this action does not in any way express any lack of confidence in Switzerland as the Protecting Power. We know that our Swiss friends have done everything in their power and we hope that this additional action may assist them in their work in this connection and in what they will do for us hereafter.
My time is nearly up. I want to say a word on economic affairs. I want to tell my hon. Friends that it is true that the Foreign Office has taken over certain fresh activities in the economic field. We have not snatched them—as an hon. Gentleman suggested—the Foreign Office never snatches—but we have negotiated. We 1053 have these additional opportunities now. We shall need them, I am confident, and perhaps in a later Debate I may be able to describe the set-up for dealing with these activities to anybody else, either to the United States or anybody. We maintain our organisation in that respect. As a result of this arrangement, we shall receive at the Foreign Office now, the economic intelligence which used to go to the Ministry of Economic Warfare.
That will be of great value to us in our political work, and also a new Department which I am setting up will be able to make use of the economic intelligence that we receive. There will be, as a result, a closer relation between our political and economic policies as a whole, and, I hasten to add, it does not mean that I am attempting to take any duties away from my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade or my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But it is the truth that foreign policy and economic policy are now more closely related, or perhaps, what is more probable, there is a better understanding now than there used to be of how closely they are related. But however we express it, there is no doubt of the need for an organisation such as I have described, and which I would like to describe more fully at a later time.
In the six minutes that remain I want to take a look into the future—
§ Sir R. Acland
There was a speech made yesterday by me in which I made serious charges. I did not make them lightly, but on the authority of those in whose bona fides I have confidence. I wish these questions to be answered. It happens over and over again that a serious speech made against the Government is not answered.
§ Sir R. Acland
My charge is that in the whole of your A.M.G.O.T. and G5 organisation, you have been careful to exclude any man who has any previous record of being opposed to Fascism before the war. You have carefully selected people who do not know anything about the job at all, and that can be answered.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) cannot go on repeating himself in that way.
§ Mr. Eden
I want for a few minutes—and I much regret if I have shown discourtesy to any hon. Member; it was quite unintentional—to look into the future, as some other hon. Members have done. There has been much said about the League of Nations, where it succeeded and where it failed. I am not going to argue that now. There is not time, and even if there were, it would take many hours of discussion and there would be many divergent opinions. The Prime Minister explained yesterday that we do not want to impose upon others in detail whatever our ideas may be; at the same time we are entitled to say what our general ideas are about the world organisation.
I would like to leave with the Committee just a few principles on which we suggest this future organisation should be based. They are these: first, that the world organisation must be designed, in the first instance, to prevent a recurrence of aggression by Germany and Japan and must be fully equipped with forces to meet the purpose; secondly, that to ensure this there must be close political and mili- 1055 tary co-operation between the United States, the Soviet Union, the British Commonwealth, and China—[An HON. MEMBER "And France"]—and other Powers; thirdly, that the responsibility in any future world organisation must be related to power, and consequently the world organisation should be constructed on and around the four great Powers I have mentioned, and all other peace-loving States should come in and play their part in the structure; fourthly, that the world organisation should be flexible and not rigid, that is to say, that it should grow by practice and not try straight away to work to a fixed and rigid code or rule; and, fifthly, that all the Powers, great and small, included in the world organisation, should strive for economic as well as for political collaboration.
I understand only too well the difficulties in any attempt to translate into practical experience the principles I have outlined. What I can say is that we have already begun informal conversations with other Powers about these propositions and I hope that in the coming months we shall be able to make more progress with them. At least we are convinced that it is only by translating into the period of peace the confidence which we have built up and the machinery we have built up for collaboration as Allies in the war, that we can hope to save the world from a repetition of those conflicts, which, twice in our generation, have caused so much misery to mankind. I have tried to give the Committee some account of our policy, and I can only repeat, as I began, that, despite the difficulties to which hon. Members have referred, we shall persist in our course and do so with a greater measure of hope as a result of the meetings of Prime Ministers held in London in these last weeks.
That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Captain McEwen.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read and postponed.