§ 3.20 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I beg to move,That this House approves the ratification of the Charter of the United Nations signed at San Francisco in respect of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the 26th day of June, 1945.On 17th April last I opened the Debate in this House on the subject of the forthcoming Conference at San Francisco, and on the proposals generally called the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, which were formulated as a basis for discussion by the sponsoring Powers. In that Debate, while there was criticism of certain provisions of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals and, particularly, of the agreement come to at the Crimea Conference at Yalta with regard to the veto, there was general agreement in favour of the formation of an international organisation. That Debate took place shortly before we proceeded to San Francisco, and the House will remember that the delegation from Great Britain was lead by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), and that Members of the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and of both branches of the Liberal Party were included. This was in accord with the procedure adopted by many of the States represented at San Francisco, in particular by the United States and by the Dominions.
It was felt that in this new attempt for the setting up of an organisation for the prevention of war—a matter of such vital importance to all—it was desirable to lift the whole matter outside the range of party controversy, and try to mobilise behind it all shades of political opinion. It is, therefore, with confidence that I submit to this House the Charter which has been approved by representatives of 50 nations, represented by men and women of various political views. This Charter was discussed in Conference, and every paragraph was subjected to close examination and amendment in the technical committees on which all those nations were represented.
I would, at this point, like to pay tribute to my colleagues of the British delegation. My right hon. Friend opposite, who was then the Foreign Secretary, took a very leading part in the earlier, and, I think, perhaps the most 660 difficult, stages of the Conference, which I think owed a great deal to his wise leadership. Of my other colleagues in this House, Mr. Mabane, Mr. Dingle Foot and Miss Horsbrugh have fallen by the wayside in the recent General Election but they, with those who are still with us, played their full part in committee work, as did, also, Lord Cranborne and Lord Halifax. I would specially mention the work of those two Noble Lords, because of the very heavy burden which fell upon them. The impending General Election caused the withdrawal, gradually, of the House of Commons representatives. They had to carry on, and right well they did so. Everyone of my colleagues served on one or more of the 12 main committees, everyone took charge of a special subject, everyone made his or her contribution to the final Charter which emerged.
I would like, here, to say a word about the admirable work done by the very strong team of officials which accompanied us. I am sure the House would like to join with me in expressing our deep regret that some of these were lost in an aeroplane accident on returning to this country. I would specially refer to Sir William Malkin, a jurist of very great authority, who had done particularly distinguished work. I would also like to acknowledge the great service to the Conference which was rendered by Mr. Stettinius, who presided with so much understanding and tact over all our deliberations.
This Charter was voted and discussed in accordance with the best traditions of democracy, and it was ultimately signed by the representatives of all the 50 nations. Since then it has been ratified by the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, by France, and by New Zealand. I now come to the House to ask for ratification here.
I do not think I should serve the House usefully this afternoon by discussing the Charter paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, or line by line, nor do I think it would be particularly desirable that I should show in detail how the Charter emerged from these lengthy discussions, and how the original Dumbarton Oaks proposals were amended. I would rather call attention to some of the outstanding points. It was realised in the Debate last April that there was bound to be much 661 discussion on the allocation of power between the greater and the smaller States. Well, we in this House know very well the difficulty of seeing that constituencies are approximately equal in electoral strength, and this House has often heard long and eloquent speeches on the well-worn theme of "One vote, one value." Therefore, Members will understand the difficulty of combining in one organisation a number of States differing so widely in extent, population and power as those comprised in the 50 nations that were represented at San Francisco.
Undoubtedly the most critical debates and discussions turned on this very point, as to whether we could preserve the rights of small nations while seeing to it that the great Powers were given a position commensurate with their importance and with the responsibilities they had to assume. In particular, there were questions as to what was called the veto, which, it was suggested, gave the great Powers the right to be judges in their own cause. As I explained to the House in April, the exceptional position accorded to the great Powers was due to the special obligations which they undertook. I think there was considerable agreement that this particular matter could not be settled by the simple method of putting all States completely on a level, oblivious of their population, extent and power. The doubts that were raised in this House were very fully expressed at San Francisco, and, indeed, they were hotly debated, but in the end, although there were modifications, to which I shall refer later, the small States ultimately accepted the broad lines of the great Powers' proposals. And that, I think, was due to the fact that they appreciated that the basis of the Charter corresponded to the realities of the situation that exists in the world to-day.
I would like here to emphasise again a point I have made, perhaps rather too frequently, in discussions on this and kindred subjects. The success of the new organisation will not depend so much on the exact provisions as on the spirit in which they are worked. If a great Power resolves not to carry out the principles laid down in the Charter no paper provisions will restrain it. Failure of the great Powers to agree and act together would inevitably mean the ruin of the organisation, and I am sure that as the debates proceeded at San Francisco the truth of this was realised 662 by the delegates, and I suggest to this House that the realisation of this truth is borne out by the writing into the Charter of the Preamble and the widening of the principles and purposes. That Preamble we owe largely to Field Marshal Smuts. His authoritative contributions to the discussions at San Francisco were the result of that union of lofty ideals and practical wisdom that we have come to expect of him. I remember there was a complaint that the Dumbarton Oaks proposals formed a rather frigid document. I pointed out at the time that it was the work of officials who were not expected to be eloquent, but I think it will be agreed that that defect had been cured at San Francisco. Field Marshal Smuts brought before the Conference a draft which he had prepared in collaboration with the Foreign Office, and that Preamble was very carefully considered and amended. But although amendments were made the substance and spirit of the Preamble are derived from the Field Marshal's draft. It is worth whale, I think, that I should remind the House of the Preamble, and thus have it on record in this House:We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined—It is worth noting that this declaration does not start by saying "We, the Governments." It starts by saying "We, the peoples." This, I think, is right, because it expresses the fact that this 663 Charter is an endeavour to put into practical form the deep feelings of all the peoples, including the fighting men who have made it possible to have a Charter at all. Here, then, in this Preamble we have an expression of the desires of the peoples. I am aware that that Preamble is not binding, but it is an expression of intentions. Its purposes and principles are an integral part of the Charter, and in Article 24 the Security Council is charged with acting in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. That addition, I may say, was made at the instance of the United Kingdom Delegation. If you make a comparison between chapter 1 of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals—and there has been issued a very useful document setting out in parallel what were the proposals of Dumbarton Oaks and what was done at San Francisco—you will see that there is a great advance in the statement of principles. For instance, where the Original proposal only said that international disputes were to be adjusted or settled by peaceful means, in the Charter these are to be settled in conformity with the principles of justice and international law. Again, friendly relations among nations are to be based on respect for the -principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, while a new purpose altogether is introduced, that of promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind and
- to reafirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends—
- to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
- to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
- to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
- to employ international machinery for the promotion, of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
Here we have a very notable extension from the consideration of the rights of nations to the rights of human beings within the nation. I am aware that there was provision under the League of Nations for the protection of minorities, but I do not think the League of Nations had anything quite as explicit as this, in that we are seeking not merely good relations between nation and nation but good relations between the human beings within the nations. It is true that the exact way in which this is to be secured is not specifically laid down, and I must admit there is a limitation as to the intervention of the United Nations in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, but can anyone deny that the kind of treatment that was meted out by Hitler and the Nazis to the Jews is a matter that far transcends a question 664 of mere domestic jurisdiction? I am certain that if there should arise, which God forbid, anything like this persecution in other lands that the new organisation will take note of it and I believe take action. I have stressed the Preamble and the purposes and principles laid down in the Charter because it is precisely the acceptance of them which gives value to the machinery set up. Without the genuine acceptance of these principles mere machinery is almost valueless. There must be the spirit which quickens.
The next point I would call attention to is with regard to the functions of the General Assembly. It was, I know, felt by many delegates, particularly the delegates of the smaller Powers, that in the original proposals, too much stress was laid on the Security Council and not enough on the Assembly. The functions of the General Assembly were expanded at San Francisco partly at the instance of the sponsoring Powers themselves and partly as the result of long debates in Committee. It is very easy to under-estimate the value of public opinion and of open discussions which lead public opinion. No Member of the House of Commons should make that mistake. The General Assembly has power to consider any matters affecting the peace of the world and to make recommendations about it, unless it is some subject which is just at that time in the charge of the Security Council. I am certain that the discussions in the Assembly, as the discussions in the Assembly of the League of Nations, can be of immense value in focusing public opinion on the great issues that arise between nations.
There was a good deal of discussion about the composition of the Security Council, but it was left almost in exactly the same position as in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals. By Article 23an endeavour was made to give guidance in the selection of the non-permanent memers. The House will recall that there are five permanent members and six members that change from time to time. That was in two directions; first by consideration being given to the contribution of the members to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the organisation; and secondly, to equitable geographical distribution. In view of the heavy responsibilities which are placed on the Security Council I think it will be agreed 665 that there would be a great advantage that the States represented thereon besides the great Powers should include always some of those States which have shown not only their willingness but also their capacity to make a contribution to world security. Among those States one may mention the Dominions, which in two wars have shown tremendous willingness to come forward in the cause of peace. But it is equally obvious that if peace is indivisible—and we should recognise now that wars which begin at one end of the world may spread all over the world—there should be representatives who are concerned in all the various parts of the world in which danger may be thought to arise.
The final provisions of the Charter on these points owe much to the contribution made by the Canadian delegation. In the discussion of the powers of the Security Council the British delegation took a foremost part in seeking to make the Security Council something more than a policeman who is called in only when there is already a danger of a breach of the peace. We sought, and sought successfully, to make it a place where the policies of the States, and especially the greater States, could be discussed and reconsidered for the time, especially when they showed signs of such divergencies as to threaten the harmony of international relations. Collective security is not merely a promise to act when an emergency occurs, but it is active co-operation to prevent emergencies occurring. In the past the League of Nations too often came into action at too late a stage, and I hope now that that error has been corrected. What, I think, is required is a continuous discussion of international affairs, not spasmodic action at times of crisis.
There are other points, on which I do not propose to speak at length, such as the setting up of a Military Staff Committee, and the provision that agreements by which States promise to keep special contingents of Armed Forces at the disposal of the Security Council should be made with the Security Council itself and not merely between the various States. On the other side encouragement was given to regional organisations to provide means for settling minor disputes between members and thus taking off part of the burden that rests on the Security Council. I have 666 dwelt at some length on the machinery for dealing with disputes and the prevention of war, but while much of the time was taken up with that, the Conference was very conscious of the need for dealing with the economic and social causes of war, through international co-operation I think there was a general feeling that peace is not negative, but positive. I think a comparison of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals with those of the Charter will show hon. Members the extent of the expansion and elaboration of the original scheme which took place during the discussions. In this, I think, our delegates may clearly claim to have played a leading part with our friends from the Commonwealth and also from India, Sir Ram swami Mudaliar, who, many of us know, was the very able Chairman of the Committee which was responsible for this detailed work.
In the first place, the Economic and Social Council which had originally appeared only as a subsidiary part of the Organisation was made a principal organ of the United Nations. I may say, incidentally, that the principle that men and women were to be equally eligible to participate in, the work of any part of the Organisation—a matter which this House may think perfectly clear to all of us—was made explicit. I think this is important, especially in respect of the work of the Economic and Social Council. Let me recall to the House the purposes of the Economic and Social Council. It is charged with promoting higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development, as well as solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems, international cultural and educational co-operation and a universal respect for the observance of human-rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without any discussion as to race, sex, language or religion. It will be seen, too, under Article 56, that all members pledged themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operating with the Organisation for the achievement of those purposes. That is to say, the raising of standards is not a matter that must wait until there has been international agreement; it means that all can go forward, everyone in their own country and thus in co-operation try to get uniformity and a moving forward together. This, I may say, was inserted 667 on the initiative of the Australian Delegation.
I know many Members of this House are interested in the I.L.O. and the British delegation fully demonstrated its belief in the I.L.O. as an instrument for raising standards and bettering conditions for the workers throughout the world. While it was eventually decided not to single out any one agency for mention in the Charter, a general provision was made for bringing those specialised agencies, of which there are of course a number, into relationship with the new Organisation. There was widespread recognition that such bodies as the I.L.O. and the Food and Agricultural Organisation should come in under this provision.
So far, I have been dealing with extensions and expansions of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals. There are two entirely new parts of the Charter which I would bring to the notice of hon. Members—the Statute of the International Court of Justice and the chapters concerning dependent territories. The Statute of the International Court of Justice follows, as was natural, very much the lines of the Permanent Court of International Justice that we knew under the League of Nations. The provisions relating to it were worked out by a very experienced body of international lawyers, prominent among whom was Sir William Malkin, to whose loss I have already referred.
I would like to say a special word with regard to Chapter II which deals with Colonial problems. Here we have a declaration on Colonial policy. This declaration, as is most proper, arises from the initiative of the representatives of the greatest Colonial Power—the United Kingdom. I would like here to pay a very special tribute to the diplomatic skill and patience of the former Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Lord Cranborne, and the present Minister of Works, the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson), who were jointly responsible for handling this subject at San Francisco. The doctrine of trusteeship as a guiding principle in Colonial policy is nothing new. It has been our guiding policy in this country for many years, but the Declaration in Chapter II of the United Nations Charter is the first general international declaration of Colonial policy.
668 Let us look at it for. a moment. The Colonial Powers who have signed this Charter recognise the principle that the interest of the inhabitants of non-self-governng territories are paramount and accept, as a sacred trust, the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories. They undertake to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses. They undertake also to develop self-government, that is, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples, and their various stages of advancement. Provision is made for the regular transmission to the Secretary-General of information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in these territories. Here the Delegates of the Government of Australia made a very substantial contribution in the adoption of this Article.
Chapter 12 deals with the international trusteeship principle. Here, the United States and the United Kingdom took the lead in securing the adoption of this Chapter. Of course, its provisions are naturally based to some extent on the old mandatory system, but there are one or two differences to which I ought to call the attention of the House. The old systems of mandates laid down what was in effect a policy of neutralisation, forbidding fortifications, forbidding bases, and limiting the training of native troops to local defence purposes. I think the new system recognises the positive obligation that the inhabitants of the territories placed under the system should make their full contribution to defence, and there are also provisions designating parts of any trust territory as a strategic area under the supervision of the Security Council.
There is another important provision—I think still more important—relating to what was commonly know as "the open door." Under the Mandate system there was an absolute requirement to guarantee equal treatment to all members of the 669 League of Nations and their nationals in economic and social matters. In practice, this often operated to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of the territory. We see that in regard to some of our mandated territory in Africa, and I think one can say that the motives underlying these provisions, which incidentally were not reciprocal, were quite as much to protect the rival interests of the sovereign Powers as to promote the interests of the mandated territories themselves. This has now been modified. While there is still an obligation to ensure equal terms, this obligation is made definitely subordinate to the basic objectives of the trusteeship system and these include the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants. No one would suggest that the State entrusted with the administration of these territories should apply discrimination in its own favour; but if it is to be a good trustee it must be free to apply measures of discrimination where necessary in the interests of the peoples whose welfare is entrusted to it.
There is one point I should like to make before I leave this part of my speech. The purpose of Chapter 12 is to create a system of international machinery. It does not itself place any territories under international trusteeship or take any decision as to the future of such territories, nor by passing this Motion will the House be entering into any commitment. I may add that the conference owed a great debt to Mr. Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand who presided over the Committee responsible for the drafting of these Chapters on Colonial policy and trusteeship.
I have endeavoured to draw the attention of the House to the salient features of this Charter. Further points will be brought out in discussion, no doubt, by my right hon. Friend opposite who took such a leading part in our discussions, and by other Members, by the Minister of Education, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who will bespeaking later in the Debate. But I would like to express my profound conviction of the supreme importance of this subject which we are discussing. It is easy, of course, to suggest amendments, but I believe the House will recognise that it is a great achievement that the delegates of 50 nations, while a great war was still raging, 670 should have been able to come to agreement on a matter of such vital importance. Discussions and debates of this kind do mean a good deal of "sweet reasonableness" and willingness to accept majority views.
After long discussion and debate, the Charter was finally approved by all the delegates. I say that this is a great Charter which I am asking the House to ratify. It is a great instrument ready to be used in the interests of world peace and world prosperity. It is a step forward in international organisation. I do not claim for a moment that it is a final step. The Charter itself can be amended as a result of experience. We may, I hope we will, go much further towards international co-operation, but its existence is itself a sign that the nations of the world realise that without co-operation for peace there can be no security for any nation.
When I spoke in the House in April before leaving for San Francisco, I recalled to the House how we in these islands were familiar, as we had never been before in our history, with the horrors of war. I pointed out that grievous as were the wounds that had been inflicted on Europe, we should be very foolish if we imagined that the science of destruction had yet done its worst. I said that we had in the flying bomb, and the long-range rocket only a foretaste of what was in store for mankind, unless world affairs could be managed more wisely than in the past. I said that we must realise that, unless we could get away from world anarchy, we and our children would know life only under an abiding menace of sudden devastating attack, launched from far away, without warning and perhaps without, for a long time at all events, any real possibility of defence. All I said then has been only too terribly reinforced. The coming of the atomic bomb has, in fact, brought into actuality what I described to the House then as only a possibility. I am certain that all of us, in this House, realise that we are now faced with a naked choice between world co-operation and world destruction, and it is, therefore, with the consciousness of six years of war behind us, and all the possibilities that hang over us in the future, that I commend this Charter to the House and confidently ask approval of its ratification.
§ Squadron-Leader Fleming (Manchester, Withington)
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain one point? He referred to the persecution of the Jews in certain countries as being a domestic problem. I would like to ask him whether he means by that that the Assembly, or Security Council as at present constituted, will have no authority to intervene, and stop such persecution before it gets out of bounds?
§ The Prime Minister
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member did not quite catch what I said, which was that although there was provision against United Nations interference in affairs which were purely domestic, I was certain that such matters as the persecution of the Jews, which took place under Hitler or anybody else, could not, with their far-reaching repercussions, be regarded purely as domestic matters and, therefore, would be taken into their consideration.
§ 4.5 P.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
The right hon. Gentleman has just given us a clear and concise, and if I may say so, well-presented account of all the provisions, numerous as they are, in this World Charter. I do not propose to follow him—in fact, it would be impertinent for me to do so—in a detailed review of the Charter, and I shall confine myself, in what I say, to a few comments on certain points. I would like, at the outset, to join with the right hon. Gentleman in expressing thanks to our fellow-members of the United Kingdom delegation. I think we were a happy party, which is quite important, and I think we did our work quite well, which is even more important. Looking back over those weeks I do not feel that we have to come to this House in any white sheet of apology or penitence, for the work which we sought to do on behalf of the nation.
I am also glad that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have taken this, the first opportunity, of asking the House to ratify the Charter. That is good. It so happens we are a little behind some other lands. That is the fault of certain transitional events on which I need not comment this afternoon, events which, perhaps, changed those who would otherwise have recommended this Charter to the House. It is right that we should, at the first opportunity, debate it and recom- 672 mend it. I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman spoke as he did about two of our colleagues from another place, whom we left to bear a very large part of the burden when we returned for electoral activities here. Finally, in that connection, I would like particularly to endorse the right hon. Gentleman's tribute to Sir William Malkin, Chief Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office for a long number of years, who brought to his task—a most important one—qualities of mind and character quite exceptional. He will be greatly missed by my successor in the work that lies ahead of him.
I would present to the House two considerations for their examination in approving this Charter this afternoon. First, I would ask them to consider whether we need a world organisation at all, and if we are agreed we do need one, is this one suited to our purpose and what are its differences from our earlier attempts? As for the need, I do not really think there will be any dispute in any part of this House. In truth, for something like 150 years, the world has been seeking for some organisation of some kind to deal with these international problems by means other than or, if you like, supplementary to the ordinary diplomatic channels. It was towards the close of the Napoleonic wars that Lord Castlereagh, then our Foreign Secretary, began to make proposals for what came later to be called diplomacy by conference. In fact, those proposals and that work came to naught and came to be much derided, not, as I think, because the method was wrong, not because the principle was wrong, but because its application was unpopular, and probably rightly unpopular at that time. What were intended to be discussions between nations round a table became, in the terms of our Allies of that date, means of imposing certain forms of government on the Europe of that day—what I think, in modem parlance, we should call ideological practices. Personally I dislike these whether they were carried out on behalf of the Tsar or something at the other extreme—but the result was that for many years afterwards there continued in this country a dislike of what was called diplomacy by conference.
Yet, to-day, with all the developments of science—and for once I am not talking 673 about the atomic bomb at all—every stage of our modern life makes it inevitable that we must have some form of world organisation, if we are to deal with the problems as they now arise, at the pace at which they now arise. I have often felt envious—and I know the right hon. Gentleman will share that feeling—when I used to turn up sometimes at the Foreign Office the number of despatches, for example, which came to be dealt with in the days of Lord Salisbury, not so very long ago. Then the Foreign Secretary led a leisured existence compared with the right hon. Gentleman. The despatches have multiplied many times, and whereas, in the old days, one had space as a shock-absorber that has now gone entirely. An event in China, a civil war or some other kind of international event did not then disturb us here at all. Often we did not know about it until many months afterwards, when it was probably resolved. To-day these shock-absorbers have gone and, to-day, events have their immediate reaction in other parts of the world. That makes the task of diplomacy infinitely more difficult. It is no slight on our Ambassadors abroad to say that, in addition to the work of the diplomatic channel which is already so heavy, we need a world organisation, not only to keep the peace, but as a clearing house.
Curiously enough it was the League which brought back into popularity, as it were, this diplomacy by conference. It was not part of the Covenant, but he result of the establishment of the League was the meeting of those responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs in their respective countries. So there grew up the valuable habit of diplomacy by conference. It as a somewhat startling fact that to-day, so far as modern conditions are concerned, we are at this moment much nearer to, say, San Francisco or, if you like, Tokyo, than Washington was to New York a century ago. I think that the world has not yet understood the extent to which the tasks of the Foreign Offices of the world are made heavier by this event. Equally is that true in the economic sphere. Nobody now supposes that one country can be prosperous in isolation, or by itself. The prosperity of one nation reacts on the prosperity of all, and either the world is prosperous together or impoverished together. These matters were true, but I think were never under- 674 stood to be true, in comparatively recent times. For all these reasons, we must have the organisation which we now have.
I would like to say a word or two about the League in relation to this Charter which we are now discussing. One can talk about the reasons why the League failed for quite a long time, but I will not do that. There are aspects of the League's failure which we should consider and examine when considering this Charter. The League came into existence because the balance of power, which had operated for nearly a century, failed to prevent the war of 1914. It failed to do so because, at that time, the balance had become so nice that it was possible for one Power to use a temporary occasion of greater military force to try to snatch results try the exercise of that force. The balance of power had ceased to be a balance that kept the peace. So, the nations looked round and decided to attempt some other method which came to be called collective security, under which most of the nations of the world would band themselves together and would have sufficient power to prevent any nation that wished to disrupt the peace, or any other nations that wished to work with it, from being successful.
That was the conception on which the League began. If it failed, I think it failed for two important reasons, though for many subsidiaries. First of all, the original conception of the League, as of the Charter, was that it should be universal, and the League was, in fact, never universal. That was the first great handicap under which it lay. Secondly, there was the matter to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, Very appositely, I think, in his speech just now. The conception of democracy in international affairs led people to think—falsely, as I believe—that the League was constituted so that every nation must be regarded as exactly equal and there was no relation between power and responsibility. It was a case of one nation, one vote, with the result that Liberia was as important as the Soviet Union, and, if you like, Costa Rica as the United Kingdom. That was not a sound basis on which to found an international organisation, because it was not a basis of truth. Law and order, whether national or international, must be founded on truth, and, if it is not founded on truth, 675 it pays the penalty eventually and is impotent when the crisis arises. It seems to me that we have embodied these lessons in the new world organisation, because, there, our membership is universal. Other countries will be invited to come in when they are considered fit for admission.
I come now to the very important matter to which the right hon. Gentleman referred—the question of the veto. I think there is still, on the subject of the veto of the great Powers, some misconception. Under the League, every Power, great or small, had a nominal right of veto. Under the Charter, only the great Powers have it, and they only have it on the Security Council, because it is the task of the Security Council to keep the peace, and it is the truth that this burden of keeping the peace must fall on the great Powers. There is one other difference between the Charter and the League which has not been publicly referred to, and which I think has very considerable importance. The League, in its original conception, was a part of the Peace Treaty of the last war—the Treaty of Versailles—and was bound up with the fulfilment of that Treaty. It is no secret that many of those nations who supported the League in its early days, did so, not in the sense that they were taking part in a new international organisation, but in the sense that they wanted-something that would buttress existing treaties, and existing territorial settlements. In my experience, no process in diplomacy is more difficult than the process of peaceful change, and it is quite certain that the League was never successful in that process. Article 19 of the Covenant, vague as it is, was never, in fact, used at all, and it is an advantage even to us on this occasion, that the San Francisco work was done before the peace treaties were made, and does not concern itself with enforcing this or that particular settlement of boundaries. It is concerned with an organisation to keep the peace, which sets up rules of conduct which members will observe and which will give us in future, if it is honestly applied, a better chance of dealing with the territorial questions and issues than we would have had, if this Charter had been tied on to the tail of whatever peace settlement finally concludes this war.
I would also ask the House to notice the great importance of the distinction to 676 which I have referred as regards opinion in the United States. If there was one thing that discouraged America from remaining in the League after the last war, it was the fact that, by so doing, she would have been consenting to certain territorial settlements in Europe and guaranteeing them in some way. It is impossible to exaggerate, in my view, the significance for this organisation of the fact that the United States is not only in it from the start, as one of the authors of the organisation, but, as I, the right hon. Gentleman and other members of the British Delegation can testify, is a wholehearted supporter of this new world organisation.
Let me turn to another criticism which has been made and to which the right hon. Gentleman also referred, and this is on the relation of the new Assembly of this world organisation to the Security Council. I think there has been a great deal of confusion of thought about that. The position is this. The United Nations are all represented in the Assembly. They have, through their own decision, given certain powers to the Security Council under the Charter, just as they have given other powers to the Economic and Social Organisation, and yet other powers to the Trusteeship Council. While the Security Council is dealing with any problem, the Assembly cannot intervene. I submit that that is right, because the Security Council is the best political authority, by the decision of the Assembly itself, to deal with political issues. The League suffered from the fact that the definition of authority between Council and Assembly was bad, and it was possible to refer matters from the Assembly to the Council and from the Council to the Assembly back and forth, and, by resorting to that device, to avoid facing issues which should have been faced. That is not possible now. The responsibility has been placed where it rests, on the Security Council, and it is only if the Security Council fails to fulfil its functions that the Assembly can take up an issue with which the Council should deal, and it can then take it up—I think I am right in saying—and no veto power by any great Power can prevent that happening. I think that, on the whole, that is about the best system that will be devised, and now let me tell the House why.
In the first place, on the Security Council, if it is to be real, we must have 677 the presence of all the principal Powers. A terrible lot of time is, in my judgment, wasted in argument about the relative positions of the great Powers and the small Powers. The blunt truth is that, unless the great Powers in the modern world are going to agree and play their part in the world organisation, that organisation cannot function properly. So I say that the great Powers must be there, all five of them, because, without them, any action would be of no value. Even so, I ask the House to note that they are not in a majority. In addition to the five great Powers, there will be those smaller Powers elected by the Assembly under Article II. I have heard some talk about this plan being a plan of the great Powers imposed on the smaller nations. That is true in the sense that the Charter originated from the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the great Powers in Moscow in the Autumn of 1943. In that sense, it is a great Power plan, but it is also a great Power plan in the sense that it was their representatives at Dumbarton Oaks who did the first work of preparing it. It is also a great Power plan in the sense that they all now happily agree with it. But it is not true in the sense that the great Powers dictated the provisions of this plan to the smaller Powers. That is not so.
I have seen a certain amount of criticism of the meetings which took place at San Francisco of the four or five Powers and of their conclaves in secret, and, as I was present at most of these meetings in the earlier days, I should like to say something about them. I have said, "in secret"—if anything could be secret in a city of a thousand and one correspondents. What we did was simply this. We examined the amendments which the other nations had put forward. There were a thousand pages of these amendments, equal to both halves of the London Telephone Directory. It might be said "That shows how bad your original work was." I say no; it does show that we gave many months to all the nations, great and small, to present their ideas. What we did at these terrible meetings, concerning which there were some sinister imputations in some parts of the Press, was to classify the amendments made by the other Powers, and see how many of them we could agree upon, and put into the work that had been done at Dumbarton Oaks. We also examined a num- 678 ber of suggestions of our own for improving our original proposals at Dumbarton Oaks. We were, as a matter of fact, able to adopt a large number of amendments and to improve the Charter very considerably by the work these other Powers have done.
I want to give two examples of the kind of change which was made by the work of other Powers than the great Powers. There was, first, a Canadian proposal, which I thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to mention when he referred to Canada. It was a proposal which seemed to us very reasonable, and the Canadians said they felt very strongly that, before any military action was taken by the Security Council which involved one of the Powers not a member of the Council—and there is that very wide power—before that power was exercised, and before, say, Canada was ordered to move certain divisions by the Security Council, it should have the right to go before the Security Council and be heard in the matter. That seemed to us a very reasonable amendment and we brought it forward before this meeting of the five Powers; it was agreed by them and carried, and was embodied in the Charter.
There was another example with an amendment to which importance was attached by both Canada and Australia. They asked that, if there were certain Powers, not great Powers, who did carry part of the burden in time of war, as Canada and Australia had done in the last two world conflicts, it was only fair to see that some account should be taken of that. They said, "While we realise that the great Powers have a position, the distinction ought to be made between us and others who played hardly any part at all in these conflicts and we think that we should have our place." It seemed to us a very reasonable proposition, and it was eventually embodied in Article 23 of the Charter in these words:The general Assembly shall elect these other Members of the United Nations to the Council, due regard being paid, in the first instance, to the contributions of the members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the organisation.I only mention this to the House because I have read, rather with resentment, which I think the right hon. Gentleman will share, a suggestion of dictation, in connection with the work of this Confer- 679 ence. Certainly, in my experience, I have never known an international delegation on which so much trouble was taken to give people opportunities of having their full say. Not only were these amendments examined by us in the way I have indicated, but every single article of the Charter was examined by one of the commissions or committees set up specially for the purpose, and, on these commissions and committees, every one of the nations in the Conference was represented.
Every item of the Charter had to be carried by a two-thirds majority. I say, on the face of that, that it is ludicrous to pretend that this was a dictation by great Powers. If, however, there was ever an international document which represented the consensus of opinion of nations in conference, I claim this Charter is in fact such a document. I ought to have mentioned in connection with the Charter that when we were debating it there was no suggestion of a guillotine or other measures such as we have on occasion to contemplate in this House. That shows how very conservative we were.
I do not pretend, for this Charter, that it is a perfect instrument. No human instrument is perfect. There are some amendments which we would like to have incorporated in the document, and there are other amendments which other countries would like to have incorporated in it. That applies to any international agreement that has ever been arrived at, but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is a workable instrument if the nations are determined to work it. In some respects, as I have said, the Charter is better than the League. It puts responsibility fairly on the Council, where it should lie. It provides machinery for carrying out decisions in the shape of the Military Staff Committee and the forces which the Military Staff Committee will have at its command. No doubt, those provisions will have to foe looked at again in the light of recent discussions. Also in the Charter are provisions whereby problems can be brought to the attention of nations in council before they reach the stage of a dispute, and I think this is a matter of the greatest importance. Over and over again, in the League in the past, I have seen problems of acute international controversy arise, and nations having 680 taken up their positions before ever the Council got to grips with questions at all, thus infinitely multiplying the difficulties of handling them. Under this organisation it will be possible to handle these problems at an earlier date. If we can apply that, perhaps we need not worry about the atomic bomb, or even talk about it. Here is where the problem of the Economic and Social Council must play its part. As now devised—andit is an important change;—that Council can be one of the most important organs of the whole organisation. It can give scope not only for Government effort but for private enterprise. Perhaps that is not a very popular term just now in some quarters; I will put it differently—not only for Government effort, but effort by non-Governmental authority, for instance like chambers of commerce and so forth.
I sum up by saying that if there ever was a subject upon which there should be unanimity in this House, it is this. I hope that the House will give the Charter its unanimous approval and pledge itself to uphold and apply its principles in our own country. I cannot close without a tribute to the Government and the people of the United States, who were not only our hosts at this Conference but who, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, provided for us the machinery and the secretariat without which the Conference could never have accomplished its task. I would also like to refer to the faith and farvour with which my friend and former colleague, Mr. Cordell Hull, championed this cause from the days of the Moscow Conference, and indeed much earlier. The difficulties in the earlier days, I can assure the House, seemed very formidable. They have been overcome. The Charter is here. In a like spirit must we all join to give it life and make it work.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
Conscious, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, of the clemency habitually extended by the House to a Member about to commit a first offence, I ask leave to make a brief incursion into this discussion. New Members of this House, and perhaps some old ones, must have been greatly impressed with the spirit of good will and co-operation which has marked the discussions in this House to an extent which is perhaps a little surprising in view of various observations which were made in different 681 places during the month of June. But it is certain that the standards then set will be more than maintained by the proceedings to-day, for we have laid before us an agreement of which the chief architects are the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), an agreement whose signature was authorised by a Government of one particular colour and whose ratification is sought by a Government of a visibly different hue, and which has been recommedend with equal conviction and fervour to-day from both the Front Benches. That seems to me to be of good omen for the future of the organisation and of the association of this country with it.
The document which the Prime Minister has presented to-day is very formidable. As hon. Members are aware, or, as the case may be, unaware, while the Covenant of the League of Nations was content with 26 Articles, the Charter of the United Nations runs to in. I would like to make a few observations on each of these—but for reasons with which it is hardly necessary to trouble the House I will confine myself to rather narrower limits. That self-restraint, which I trust will not disappoint or depress the House unduly, is made easier because it is hardly possible to-day to discuss or criticise in detail an instrument which it is not in the power of the House to amend. We have to take or reject this document as it is, and there can be no question what the choice will be. It may not be precisely the document which all Members of this House would wish to see, or which any particular Member of this House would wish to see, but it is obvious that when representatives of 50 States reach a conclusion, that conclusion can only represent the highest common measure of agreement between them. The Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, if I may speak in metaphor, must have found some strange bedfellows at San Francisco, and we must be grateful to them for having been able to secure the inclusion in the Charter of so much that must commend itself to most hon. Members. But if it is not possible to discuss the Charter as a whole, there is, I think, some advantage in attempting to elicit from the Government information on the interpretations and applications of particular provisions in the Charter; I would there- 682 fore like to put some questions and ask a reply from the Government on these points.
The first question is simple and will not need any elaboration. I should like to be told what the relation of that valuable and important body, the International Labour Organisation, will be to the United Nations Organisation. It will no doubt be associated with it in some way, and it would be valuable to know precisely how. Then I would like some information about the nature of the British representation upon the Security Council. It is provided, as hon. Members will remember, that the members of that Council should be continuously represented on the seat of the Council, and President Truman took an early opportunity of translating Mr. Edward Stettinius, the Secretary of State, to the position of permanent member of the Security Council, stating at the same time, rather like the Mayor of Dover presenting Charles the Second with a Bible, that he was bestowing on him the greatest gift he had in his power to offer. It would be very distressing if any such a misadventure befell our own Foreign Secretary, and I have no doubt that the Government, from the wealth of talent at their disposal, will be able to provide adequately for the Security Council, without unduly denuding the Foreign Office. I would like to know whether it is intended that there shall normally be someone of diplomatic rank from this country at the. Council, with the Foreign Minister or the Minister of State attending when required, or whether there is any idea of appointing a Resident Minister such as we became familiar with at Cairo and in Western Africa.
Now I wish to turn to a subject which is very much more important than may at first be realised, and that is the organisation of the Secretariat of the United Nations Organisation. The right hon. Gentleman who for so many years, and indeed for so many decades, represented Carnarvon Boroughs in this House once described the Indian Civil Service as the steel framework upon which the whole fabric of government and administration in India rested. It will be essential that nothing less than that shall be said of the Secretariat of the United Nations Organisation. Here I think the experience of the League of Nations is of some value both as guide and as warning. 683 It is no easy matter to assemble a Secretariat, consisting of representatives of some 50 nations, differing not only in language—that is probably one of the least of the difficulties—but in method, in tradition, national outlook and background. Yet the thing has been done.
I had an opportunity of watching the League of Nations Secretariat at close quarters for a considerable time, and there is no question but that it was a remarkable body of single-minded men and women. This was due largely to the wisdom and firmness shown by the first Secretary-General, Sir Eric Drummond, now Lord Perth. But there were certain exceptions, and it is of these that I wish to speak particularly. Certain nations had difficulty in enlarging their vision from the national to the international, and worked assiduously to secure the appointment to the Secretariat of their own nationals whom they wanted to see in key positions of importance. Some of those officials were in fact appointed. It may be said in language which is a little different from the sense of the original words, that they left their country for their country's good. They went to Geneva for their country's good and they worked inside the international organisation for their country's good, displaying a form of national service for which, no doubt, they expected reward and recognition on their return to the land of their nativity. I do not believe that that is a less serious danger now than it was in those days. I am sure that to-day there are nations which will make that same attempt. I want to ask the Government to give us an assurance, which I am sure will be forthcoming, that they will unswervingly support the Secretary-General in the endeavour which he will certainly make to confine his appointments to men of competence, integrity and single-minded service to the organisation.
There is one other question I would like to raise, and that is with regard to the criterion of admission of new members to the United Nations Organisation. The League of Nations had some advantage over the United Nations in that it associated the neutrals with it at an earlier stage than seems probable in this case. That seems to me of the most vital importance, even though there were more neutrals available then than there are now. Nothing is more politically or psychologi- 684 cally important than that the United Nations should not be, or appear to be, a mere association of victorious belligerents. It is of the first importance to dissociate the United Nations as far as possible from the war. The organisation took its origin in the war, but it stands with its back to the war and its face to the future. The task which faces it is to build up the fabric of peace. Those who went to the Royal Gallery yesterday heard among the gracious words then spoken some which it would be an impertinence even to emphasise but which I think imprinted themselves on the minds of all who heard them:The time of destruction is ended, the era of reconstruction begins.The supreme symbol of this reconstruction is the United Nations Organisation. I say, therefore, that it is of the first importance that that organisation should start out on its prospering way without its skirts trailing in the debris of war. One of the best ways to achieve that result is to make the organisation as comprehensive and as catholic as possible, so that it cannot be said that it consists entirely of victorious belligerents.
There is another reason for bringing in almost all the neutrals at the earliest possible date. It used to be said of certain Cabinets in this country that particular Ministers owed their positions there, partially at least, to the fact that it was safer for the Government to have them in, than to have them out. I am sure that that applies to the neutrals in relation to an organisation like the United Nations. Any nation about whom there is a suspicion, about whose intentions there is any uncertainty, would be very much safer inside the organisation than outside. If they come inside they can be held to the pledges they gave when they joined the organisation; any action they take can be canvassed in public and they can be called on to give an account of their actions. I should hope that every endeavour would be made to bring all neutrals in, and at the earliest possible date.
It is stated in the Charter that membership of the organisation is open to the peace-loving nations, but every nation today is peace-loving, particularly when it has been defeated. The definition is so indeterminate that it is hardly worth pursuing it further. There is a much better 685 criterion enshrined in the Atlantic Charter in Article 3 which says that the authors of that document respect the rights of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live. It must be remembered that what was created at San Francisco was not a League of democracies. If that criterion were applied, a very extensive purge would be necessary among the original signatories to the agreement. I do not know why there should be a different test for original members and for newcomers—why Portugal, for example, should be ineligible, because its Constitution more closely resembles that of one of our Allies than our own. I hope that the Government will realise the importance of catholicity and comprehensiveness.
My last question is whether there is anything implicit in any article of the Charter which secures the right of the Press of any particular nation to visit countries of the member nations, and to send their reports home free of censorship. Nothing is more important to the peace of the world than that we should receive information about conditions in other countries. It is essentially the task of my own profession, which has acquired a considerable facility in insinuating itself into other people's business. It knows what to look for and where, and how to find it, and if is better able to provide information than any other body of men and women. I would ask the spokesman of the Government whether, from the words that the Prime Minister quoted with respect to human rights and fundamental freedom for all, we can extract a pledge of freedom, of free communication about what is going on in other countries.
May I add one last word? I think that many hon. Members would be sorry for this occasion to pass without one mention of a great man who spent his strength and shattered his health in the endeavour to win from his countrymen acceptance of a plan of international organisation. In December, 1921, I went to see Mr. Wilson—he had then ceased for eight months to be the President—in his private house on the outskirts of Washington. I found a broken man, sitting in his study where someone had put him, and where he would stay until someone came to help him to rise. But physical affliction had left his mental vigour unimpaired. We naturally talked about the League of 686 Nations, and he insisted, I am sure rightly, as he always did, that the core and centre of the whole League of Nations Covenant was his favourite Article 10, whereby members of the League undertook to respect and preserve against external aggression the territorial integrity and political independence of all members of the League. It was in violation of that Article that the crime of Manchuria was committed; it was in violation of that that the crime of Abyssinia was committed. I am glad to find that words taken from that Article appear almost unchanged in the United Nations Charter. When I took leave of Mr. Wilson, I said, a little elaborately perhaps, that the fire he had kindled would go on burning. He replied immediately, "If it does I hope some Republicans will get scorched." It is possible that they did. It may be that it was through purification by fire that the leaders of that great party so completely changed their views regarding an international organisation that the Senate, which rejected the League of Nations in 1919, was the first of the major Legislatures in the world to ratify the Charter of the United Nations in 1945—and by something approaching unanimity. That was a notable event, not only in the history of the United States. It would be an equally or even more notable event if this House, containing more than six times as many Members as the Senate of the United States, should ratify the Charter to-day or to-morrow, as I trust and believe it will, by a unanimity unbroken and complete.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
It is fortunate that it should fall to my lot to follow the hon. Member, and to offer him the usual felicitations upon the very sincere tone of the speech that he has just made. In congratulating him, I congratulate the House of Commons upon having within its precincts a Member with such ripe experience and great knowledge of the old League of Nations. It will be invaluable to us particularly in connection with the new United Nations Charter. I feel that the unanimity for which the hon. Member has asked is very likely to be accorded, because the need for ratification of the United Nations Charter is very clear to all our minds. The Prime Minister in his speech to-day, exposing the matter in his clear and lucid way, gave us 687 a comprehensive picture of the immense tasks before us. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), speaking on the Opposition side of the House, referred to the changed conditions of the world at the present time, the narrowing of space and the cutting down of time, bringing all the world into a very much smaller compass than ever was the case before.
The world at the present time is faced with very great danger. It is not only danger from the atom bomb. Too much emphasis has been placed upon this new and, strictly speaking, revolutionary discovery. There were quite enough weapons to destroy civilisation invented in the war, before the atom bomb was made known. It was only that we defeated Germany fairly early that prevented the elaboration of V.1, V.2 and Other weapons of the same character which would certainly have caused colossal losses had they been able to be deployed over a period of, say, another year from the actual ending of the war. The danger to civilisation does not really arise from the weapons themselves and it does not arise from the atom bomb, which incidentally it is impossble to keep secret within the nations of the world.
From the information that has already been printed in the ordinary daily papers, many hundreds of scientists in the world could follow up the clues there given, even though they had had no information of it before, and could find out how to make the atom bomb. The technical difficulties of making the apparatus which enables the bomb to be used are another matter, and is a great industrial undertaking. To find out the principle of releasing atomic energy and to find out how to make use of it, if you have the organisation to do it, can be done, and there is no way by which you can keep it secret. Science cannot be debarred from pursuing its researches, and will do it, no doubt, in all the countries in the world. Among the scientists who were concerned in the preliminary investigations and discoveries which resulted in the atom bomb, were German and Japanese scientists, and other scientists from all over the world. You cannot keep these things secret. You cannot hush them up.
The danger is not in the atom bomb, or in the V. weapons, but in human con- 688 flicts and differences. If all men were reasonable, fit, prosperous and happy there would be no danger from war weapons. There is a phrase, I think it comes from India, with regard to the powers of the great and the miseries of the poor. It says that it is the tears of the oppressed that undermine the thrones of princes. I have no doubt at all that it is from the miseries and sufferings of men who are oppressed and who are under-privileged and poor and diseased that the danger arises. It is from them that other men seeking power for themselves, men of what we call now the Fascist mentality, will organise them politically and economically, creating great armies and using whatever weapons there are.
Do I need to remind the House that Hitler, in the few years between 1933 and 1939, was able to build up enormous power which it has taken the concerted efforts of all of us against him to beat down into dust and ashes? That tremendous power can be built up by others. There are parts of the world, where exist the conditions of deprivation, poverty, ignorance and ill-health which are an open invitation to Fascist organisers to get to their foul devilish work. I am particularly glad that, in discussing this question of the United Nations Charter, attention has been drawn both by the Prime Minister and by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, to the tremendous importance of the Social and Economic Council. I venture to think that through the work of that Council we shall be able to avoid the dangers out of which another war of Fascist aggression mightarise. Let me remind the House that, in the great slice of tropical Africa which includes British West Africa and British East Africa, vast possessions which we have, a large majority of the people are underfed, their death rate is equivalent to their birth rate, they are under-educated and riddled with diseases which are entirely preventible and curable by known medical and scientific methods. That is a great danger.
If someone whose designs are only for power, who desires to impose some Fascist domination on the world, could get control of these people—and they are magnificent fighters, some of them being on our side in the war—there would be a great danger. There is danger in India. Masses of the population in India are living on the verge 689 of subsistence, and they are splendid fighters. There is danger in China. I do not know what the population of China is. An hon. Member suggests that it is 480,000,000, but different reference books give figures differing by large numbers of millions. The actual numbers are not known. The fact is that among the people of China, there are the most deplorable poverty, the greatest deprivation and awful disease. I need not emphasise, for we have talked about it these two weeks, the acute danger there is in Europe and in the liberated countries, which are suffering and may, in the winter, surfer much more severely from various kinds of deprivation. They were referred to by Governor Lehman in the meetings of U.N.R.R.A. in London last week. There are these dangers and difficulties and this possibility of the organisation of the oppressed in other parts of Asia too.
The real danger out of which Fascism and war may arise in future is the miserable poverty, disease and social misery of the world and the lack of education and the opportunity for decent living. In the old days, as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said, great and terrible events might be happening in China and we would know nothing about them. That cannot happen today. It cannot happen anywhere in the world. The standards and conditions of life in China, in the tropics of Africa, in India and other parts of the East and in Europe, in fact, in any part of the world, affect us intimately and are part of our existence. We have, therefore, to tackle them. These depressed areas of the world are a typical capitalist development. The era of competitive capitalism cannot possibly continue. The capitalist system can integrate itself into the modern world if it will obey the rules of good living. There will be great danger, however, if we have in the future capitalist economies which ruthlessly exploit and take out of some of the areas I have been naming their wealth and labour power, without rendering to them the opportunities of development equivalent to that existing in this country or in the civilised parts of Europe, and these competitive capitalisms will inevitably result in war.
I believe that the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations Organisation is, by far, the most important instru- 690 ment of progress. It can use the work of the International Labour Organisation, and it can ruthlessly apply that organisation, not only to the world of white men in Great Britain, Europe and our Dominions, but also to the coloured parts of the world, Africa, India and the East, in order to maintain good standards of working conditions. Another immensely important organisation of which the Social and Economic Council must make full use is the Food and Agriculture Organisation which, if it follows out the pronouncements made when its original meetings were held, will provide full and adequate nutrition for all men in all parts of the world at all times. That can be done as a matter of capitalist convenience at the present time. It certainly should be done as a matter of world social organisation.
I venture to lay stress on something which has not yet been mentioned, namely, that we must call into world consultation scientists and the scientific knowledge of the world more than we have ever done before. I know that a Scientific Advisory Committee advised the late Coalition Government and was enormously valuable in helping them in directing the war effort. But we have not, in this country, taken enough account of the value of the work of the scientists, and in this connection I want to put another view of the atom bomb. I want the great scientific workers of this country to be brought into full consultation with the Government. I am aware that we have set up a Scientific Advisory Committee, but I mean a great deal more than that. I mean giving great scientific men like the President of the Royal Society executive power in our political organisation. I would like to see these men called into consultation and charged with making the discovery of the atom bomb the opportunity of getting that tremendous release of energy made available for industrial and all human purposes. That would enable us to improve circumstances in a way which, up to the present, has not been impossible, but has been much more difficult.
Atomic energy can be applied to the uses of industry and to the uses of transport. It will, when applied, enormously minimise weights that have to be carried and simplify the distribution of industry over wide areas. There is no reason why, 691 with atomic energy, we should not industrialise, to the advantage of the inhabitants, the great stretch of tropical Africa which goes from West to East which is largely under our control. It is inhabited by over 40,000,000 people of great potentialities, and with this new atomic energy we might make it an industrial, civilised community as important and powerful as that which the Soviet Union has made of European Russia, a comparable area, in the short period of 25 years. With applied atomic energy we might do it in a much shorter time. I have always thought that one of the great attractions of war was the fact that peace can, for the ordinary man, be such an incredibly dull thing. There is nothing in the life of the coalminer or the railway worker, and nothing in the ordinary life of industry, to attract men. It is much easier to turn people away from peace into war, for it gives a man the opportunity of leading a man's life, of having adventure, of achieving something really great and splendid, and of working for honour instead of for the paltry rewards that commerce will give him. We should make our peace life adventurous and splendid by using the gigantic energy of the atom for industrial purposes. In the Soviet Union during fairly recent years they have built enormous hydro-electric projects by the use of the knowledge known up to that time.
With the atomic energy now at our disposal we could, in a period of 20 years, transform the surface of the whole world if we had the intelligence to do it. We could raise the standard of life of all people in the world, because everything depends on the power we have to do things, and it could be done in a short time. It cost £500,000,000 to perfect the working of the atom bomb in time of war. Let us say to the scientists of the world, "Spend £500,000,000, or even £1,000,000,000, for peace in order that there will be at the service of the United Nations an illimitable source of energy to be devoted to man's progress and happiness and security." Let them start with this new bomb, which some at first said was such a terrible thing, and make it the opening of a new would into a greater civilisation, a civilisation which, when it wants to be adventurous can lift its eyes to the skies and see the planets. It is a fact that this atomic energy will enable 692 us to explore into planetary space. Let us, then, face the greatness of what has happened to us by this scientific discovery and make sure that in our international United Nations Organisation we use this great power as a trust for the service of the world.
§ 5.13 p.m.
Squadron-Leader de Freitas (Nottingham, Central)
This is my first speech in this House, and I can assure you, Sir, that I am in real need of the encouragement and kindness which I know I shall receive from all hon. Members. We are considering the ratification of a document which is regarded by millions among the United Nations as a written constitution of world government. We should, therefore, be frank and admit that, as a nation, we do not understand written constitutions and do not like them. This side of our political character is a disadvantage when estimating what it means to other nations to ratify this Charter. To other nations, the Charter is far more than a treaty, far more than an international agreement. To many of them it is a real written constitution of world government, and a written constitution to such countries as the United States of America is something almost sacred. Such veneration is as foreign to us as worship of the sun, but in our irreverence on this matter, there are great advantages which the United Nations may derive.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) referred to the important question of peaceful change. We in this House, most of us Socialists, sitting in a Royal Palace, are the inheritors of a system of government which has changed in accordance with the social and economic forces of the times. We are all part of a procession, mostly orderly, of men and women who have been coming here to govern for 700 years. I will not go into details regarding the knights of the shires and the burgesses, the Roundheads and Cavaliers, but if I over-simplify our political history and omit such things as the Civil War, that omission only illustrates that there can be no orderly progress in government unless there is flexibility in the instrument of government. It is a real tragedy that of all the Parliaments and Congresses which will be debating the ratification of this Charter, it is only in this House that written law is not and has never been the master but is, and has always been, the servant. For instance, 693 it is only here that it is realised that it is we, the Commons, who really represent the people, and that it is we, and not Magna Charta or some other law, who really guarantee their liberties.
There are many hon. and learned Members here, and it is true that throughout our history we have been blessed with more than our fair share of lawyers. Nevertheless, we have always rejected legalism and we, even the greenest of us, are, toy tradition, impressed with the fact that our Constitution has adapted itself and will adapt itself to meet the economic and social forces—in other words, the politics—of the times. I believe, therefore, that it is the political example, experience, and leadership of this House which the United Nations require, if this written constitution is to work. I challenge the assumption found to-day in many parts of the country that, because we are now a relatively small country with a relatively small population, because we can no longer build two battleships for everyone else's one, our days of greatness are past. I believe that with our Socialist Government and with our example of political leadership and experience we have a very great contribution to make to the working of this Charter.
Like many other hon. Members, I have, during this war, seen something of the United Nations at work. I did not deal with the heads of Governments, I did not deal with military commanders of high rank, but as a junior officer, I worked with junior officers of many nationalities, and I found that if an aim was stated and agreed, a means to achieve that aim was agreed upon too. But if we sat round merely interpreting some written directive, too often we lost sight of the ultimate aim in disagreements on construction. If the Governments of the world regard this written constitution as they regard their own written constitutions, there is a grave danger that the representatives of the nations will waste their time in legal argument. I say "waste their time" because we all know that the problems of this world are not problems of law, but problems of politics, in the widest sense of the word. Therefore, in supporting the ratification of the Charter, I say, let us accept the Charter, but let us always remember and point out that it is only the first step on a long, long march, a 694 march on which the world's politicians are welcomed with enthusiasm, but on which the world's lawyers—and I am a lawyer—are welcomed merely with courtesy.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
It is my very pleasant duty to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member who has just addressed the House, and who has put before us a very interesting constitutional point. I can perhaps claim to know a little of his subject, since I, like other Members of this House, have worked with representatives of other nations, at the League of Nations, under an instrument or written law similar to that which we are now discussing. I would like to assure him that it is possible, when working with other countries under such a constitution, to secure the flexibility and the advantages of personal co-operation on which the hon. and gallant Member so rightly placed a good deal of stress. I trust the hon. and gallant Member's constitutional interest will give him a real opportunity, perhaps in the near future, of contributing to the solution of the problems facing this House.
The signature of the Charter, whose ratification we are now discussing, is, indeed, as the Prime Minister justly claimed, a great event and a great achievement. It is so, however, not because the contents of the Charter are fundamentally different from those of the old Covenant. There are, of course differences, and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said, there are some improvements, but it is not because of those differences that this is a great event. It is, I suggest, because this Charter now comes to us ratified by Russia and by America, as the Covenant of the League did not. It is because this Charter not only crowns the successful union In war of the Allies, but promises to continue the union in peace of those whose absence undermined the strength of the old League.
We are discussing the ratification of this Charter, and nobody doubts what the result will be. We shall of course ratify it, and we must do so without modification. In such circumstances there seems to be a little unreality in discussing its provisions clause by clause. Were the circumstances different I should certainly have some comment to make on some of its provisions, taking perhaps as a starting 695 point the opening statement in Article 2 that the organisation is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members. One significant word from that phrase, "equality" has been to some extent, shall I say, interpreted by subsequent clauses, and another significant word, "sovereign," is also acquiring a different meaning in the light of subsequent and current events. As I have expressed my personal opinion on the detailed provisions an earlier discussions when they could be amended—as indeed they have been amended at San Francisco—it seems to me to be more useful now to discuss some of the external conditions which are indispensable if the new Charter is to achieve its purpose. I propose to refer to two in particular, the control of the atom bomb, and the restarting of European economy.
It is sometimes said that the shock received by the public through the appearance of the atom bomb may be a very powerful assistance in strengthening the new security organisation. It may be. It must be, if civilisation is to endure. But it is not too certain. The world has supped on horror now for six years, and there may come a point when the normal reaction of civilised man is no longer roused against horror but becomes numbed by custom, when, in Shakespeare's words:Blood and destruction will be so in useAnd dreadful objects so familiar,That mothers will but smile when; they beholdTheir infants quartered with the hands of war.That may happen. Statesmen therefore must utilise this first reaction quickly, skilfully and adequately. We must do what we can to hang on to what remains of the older and humaner tradition and restore it. From this point of view most of us I think, in this House and outside, have found our joy in victory mingled with anxious questioning and with deep concern in the last few days.
It is not however of the past but of the future that I wish to speak. The bomb has come, it has been used; how shall we control it? If we look at this Charter, how obsolete do its military provisions seem in the light of this new weapon, unless we indeed succeed in controlling it effectively. It is not so much the mere destructive potency of the bomb, it is not merely that it is clearly a war-winning weapon; it is rather the terrifying speed 696 with which a potential aggressor, with the bomb in his hand, may believe that he can achieve a decisive victory and escape retribution. It is obvious that the task of a security organisation is immensely easier if current military warfare is such that a decisive result will certainly take a considerable time to achieve. Any security organisation has to adjust its machinery to what it knows of warfare, and what it anticipates warfare will be in the future. The provisions of the Covenant of the League of Nations were adapted to warfare as it was known at that time, and I think reasonably adapted. Then came the immense development of the aeroplane before and during this war. Those who drafted the new Charter at San Francisco therefore re-adapted the military provisions and speeded them up, so as to fit the conditions of warfare as they in turn knew them. Then, within a few weeks, this new discovery has again made those provisions obsolete, if they stand alone.
For these reasons it seems to me that the control of atomic energy is far and away the most important problem that now faces the world. It is also far and away the most difficult. I say it is the most important because I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) who said in effect that it does not so much matter about the bomb, but that we must create conditions under which everybody is happy so that the bomb will not be used. Let us do all we can to make everybody in the world happy, but let us not delude ourselves with the idea that there will at any time in our lifetime, or in the lifetime of our descendants, be not enough unhappiness in the world, not enough wickedness in the world, for a bomb to be launched if it is in the hands of and immediately usable by a small group of people or by the rulers of a single country. It is absolutely vital that this thing should be controlled adequately I said that it would be the most difficult thing to do. I say that because I think it will mean that some restriction on research will be required that will be very distasteful to all the traditions of science. I think it will mean an international and predominantly foreign control in each country of the most important weapon of war which will run counter to every national prejudice and every national tradition. It will be immensely difficult, but it has to be done. It will be sodiffi- 697 cult that I think many of us roust have thought with sympathy of the words, quoted recently by Sir James Marchant, as spoken shortly before he died by that great scientist, Dr. Alfred Russell Wallace, who said, looking into the future:If I should stumble upon the secret of releasing atomic energy, I would carry that secret with me to the grave.He would do that because, he said, man was not yet ready for it. It is possible that there may be an enormous beneficent use of atomic energy later, but the destructive use of the bomb is with us already. The possible industrial use is distant, if not doubtful. My hon. Friend the Member for North Islington said that in 20 years we could transform the world. But we 'have to get across that space of 20 years, and that will take a great deal of doing.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
How does the right hon. Gentleman expect that this energy can ever to be put to constructive use if, as he proposes, restrictions are imposed on research?
§ Sir A. Salter
I did not say there should be a stoppage of all research. What I meant was that research would have to be conducted under conditions of public and I think international control, which would watch what is being found out and take adequate steps at every stage to control the use of what is being found.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that if the uses of atomic energy for bombing can be discovered in the war period there is no reason why the discovery should not be applied industrially in a comparable period of live years, with a further 15 years for application?
§ Sir A. Salter
I have no scientific knowledge which will enable me to guess whether it will take five years or 20 years, but in any case, whether the period is long orshort—and scientists who have spoken on this subject recently have indicated that the period is likely to be long—we have to bridge the interval. It would indeed have been fortunate had there been in existence an international form of Government sufficiently established to control this new discovery at the moment when the discovery was made. It was not to be. We have to take the 698 position as it is. What can we do about it? As I have suggested, I think it will be found necessary to have a form of control by representatives not of one nation, but representatives of the world's interests, in each country who will have to watch and control research and experiments as well as devise methods for controlling the actual use of the bomb when produced. I entirely agree that scientists must be enlisted in a task which must in certain aspects be rather distasteful to them, and I welcome wholeheartedly the setting up of the Committee presided over by my right hon. Friend the Senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) and the composition of that Committee, as a first beginning.
Secondly, I think it is clear that it will be impossible and intolerable for any single Government or people, our own or any other, to hold on to this secret alone permanently or for any long period. It would clearly be intolerable to the rest of the world and clearly it would be dangerous. In fact it obviously could not be done for any long period. But if that is so—and undoubtedly it is true for the longrun—there still remains the immediate and extremely difficult question as to what should be done at this moment. This secret is now in a few hands and a few hands only. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) suggested that the secret should be imparted by those who hold it almost immediately to the Military Staffs Committee on the new organisation. I realise the force of his arguments, but looking at the relevant circumstances, on which I will not now dilate, I cannot agree with him. I think this secret should be imparted only as a counterpart to an assured international control in each country which is given possession of the secret. I think that should be promised and in due course should be given, but given only on that condition. It is a condition which it will be very difficult to realise and which it will take time to realise.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman with a view to trying to clear up what seems to be a misunderstanding in the minds of some hon. Members? Various suggestions have been made as to what should be done. Will the right hon. Gentleman bring out the fact that, of course, the matter rests with our Ally, the United States?
§ Sir A. Salter
Yes, but I realise also our special relationship, as compared with other Allies, with the United States in regard to this bomb. And, speaking in this House, I naturally had in mind that special relationship, rather than referring directly to the action of another country.
I will leave that subject now, and turn to one other immediate and urgent condition which must be satisfied if this new Charter is to have a reasonable chance of success. This is the restarting of the wheels of European economy. This again is something which must be done in order to give a chance to this new security organisation. It is something which it cannot do itself. It is true that there is the Economic and Social Council, but that Council cannot take on this job, although it may assist in the later stages of reconstruction, as the Financial Committee of the League did after the last war. But what is wanted now is urgent and immediate. A few months ago I suggested the creation of a new Allied Supreme Economic Council. That will still be needed later, I think; but the action wanted at this moment is so urgent that it can wait for no new machinery; it must be taken with the aid of the machinery that now exists. It can be taken only by the great victors in this war.
After the speeches of the Prime Minister, the Minister of State, the Foreign Secretary, and lastly, the Lord President of the Council, I need not dilate upon the actual situation in Europe or on the political consequences that must be expected from that situation unless it is relieved. I need not argue that with political chaos, which will certainly follow from widespread famine, if famine should come, the whole provisions of this Charter will be unworkable and even unmeaning. I entirely agree with the diagnosis of the position in Europe given by the Members of the Government who spoke in the Debate on the Address, and in particular I agree with the emphasis which the Prime Minister placed upon coal and inland transportation. I was, however, profoundly disappointed that he had so little that was encouraging to say as to the use which is to be made of the great resources that can be released as the result of the victory overy Japan. He told us that we must expect to wait for some months before we can see any results in this matter 700 from the victory over Japan. Why? He spoke of ships being engaged in the Pacific. But we do not need to take ships that are in the Pacific; we can take ships at the loading ports which would have had to go to the Pacific if the Japanese war had continued. So with other things. There are quite enough motor lorries, American and British, in this country and in Europe to meet all of Europe's immediate needs and to solve the transport problem in Europe for this winter if they are turned over quickly. They are there ready to hand.
So in a large measure is it in regard to food. If you use the shipping that can now be easily released, if you use the Army reserves and in some cases civilian stocks accumulated prudently with a view to the efforts and hazards of a war that was expected to continue, you can do a great deal to relieve even the food position in Europe. During the last few days we have seen in the Press reports of very considerable releases of meat in America. We have had no indication so far—I hope it may come—that those releases, or even a part of them, will be devoted to the desperate needs of Europe as distinct from increasing consumption in the producing and supplying countries. Army reserves exist, mainly in America, it is true, but not exclusively in America. I believe that if the resources of the Armies, particularly the engineering skill of the British, Canadian and American Armies, were used with all the urgency of a war operation, the production of the Ruhr could be so increased as largely to solve the coal problem. I believe that if the lorries that we and the American Army have near the spot where they are required were used quickly, the transportation problem of Europe could be solved. I believe that if the reserves of meat and clothing which the Armies have were freed and quickly used, a great deal could be done to meet the other necessities of Europe.
But immediate decision is required, an immediate decision which will move the military authorities into immediate action. I entreat the Prime Minister to appeal to the President of the United States to join with him in issuing appropriate instructions at once to the respective Armies. The Prime Minister spoke the other day, very truly, of the way in which each shortage aggravates every 701 other. When you have a shortage in coal it impedes your transport and production, and so on with every particular shortage. He gave us a picture of what I might describe as a kind of sinister snowball movement, accumulating disaster as it goes. That is true but the opposite is equally possible. Put in a little extra meat for miners and you then produce more coal, and you produce more of everything you need. You then have a snowball movement of the opposite kind, a beneficent snowball, accumulating benefits as it moves. The first aid required is of manageable dimensions. Now that Japan has been defeated it can be given. And it will make all the difference to Europe's future. Happily the basic economic structure of Europe is much more intact than we had any reason to hope before liberation. Give this first start—and it can be given—and the whole future is brighter. The enormous danger of political chaos, which will wreck this new organisation which we are discussing to-day as well as very much else, can still be averted.
That is all I have to say. I am convinced that this new Charter will succeed if the great victors in this war, as they alone can, now establish the conditions for its success. If they do not and another war comes, with new and terrible weapons, the world will relapse into a devastation worse than that of the Dark Ages. If they do, there is a good prospect at once not only of peace for the world, but of prosperity, and it may be that in a later generation the new atomic energy will then lift humanity to a higher level of happiness and of civilisation than man has ever known.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Hackney Central)
It is only my reliance upon the traditional tolerance of this House which emboldens me to address it at this early stage in our deliberations. I had hoped that the first subject I would have had the privilege of raising in this House, coming from a borough which has lost 6,000 houses through enemy action, would have been the housing problem, and I would have liked to have joined with the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. G. Thomas) in his plea for some special assistance for these heavily hit areas. But I do not want to be pulled up for being out of Order, and having, through that subter- 702 fuge and your kindness, Mr. Speaker, at any rate been able to make housing the first subject I have mentioned in the House, perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words, constructive, I hope, in regard to this question of the United Nations Charter. I was very interested in the comments made by the Prime Minister about the International Labour Organisation, and I am not at all satisfied with the position of the I.L.O. vis-à-vis the new United Nations organisation. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary the other day, addressing the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations, now meeting in London, paid a tribute to the I.L.O. I would like to read it. He said:You know that all British Governments, irrespective of politics, have consistently and strongly supported the I.L.O. in that great work which it has carried on to the benefit of workers all over the world during the last 25 years, work which we all hope it will continue to expand and develop. I believe too that the economic and political council,"—that is, of the U.N.O.—in association with specialised agencies such as the I.L.O., the F.A.O."—that is, the Food and Agricultural Organisation—and others, will become the focus of the economic activities of the United Nations Organisation. The Economic and Social Council will formulate policy and ideas. The I.L.O. is the valued instrument system for transmuting many of those ideas into actual working practice.When I examine the Charter, which I hope we are going to ratify unanimously, I find, as far as I can understand the relationship of the I.L.O. to it, that it becomes a specialised agency under Article 57. In Chapter 3, Article 7, there are certain organisations which are called principal organisations. They include the Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council. I am rather apprehensive that that places the I.L.O. in a relatively worse position in relation to the International Court of Justice, for example, than that in which it found itself within the League of Nations Organisation. In view of the universal approval of the work of the International Labour Organisation, I do not think it is good enough that the I.L.O. should be relegated to what is called one of those specialised agencies. It should be raised at the earliest possible moment to the position of one of the principal organs 703 of the United Nations Organisation. At the moment the I.L.O. is in a most unfortunate position. It belongs to nobody. It is really a part of what is almost the non-existent League of Nations. That is where it gets its finance. It is suspended, like Mahomet's coffin, between heaven and earth. Surely, for reasons of tidiness or businesslike methods, we ought to place the I.L.O. on a firmer footing than it has at the present time. It is my humble suggestion that it might be placed in its proper perspective within the organisation of the United Nations Organisation.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) paid tribute to the fact that the United States of America were the hosts of the Conference which set up this organisation. I would like to feel that, having given unanimous ratification to this Charter, this country should have the honour of being the permanent host of the headquarters of this organisation. I do not know where it is going to be situated. Some people say it cannot be at Geneva, though for the life of me I do not know why. If it cannot be at Geneva, is it not possible, and would it note a tremendous honour to this country, and a tremendous advantage, incidentally, to have the headquarters of the U.N.O. in Great Britain? Another suggestion I would make is in regard to the General Assembly. I notice that the National Delegations to the General Assembly have been raised from the original number of three per country to five per country. My suggestion is that perhaps that might give us an opportunity of including in our national delegation something that would be in the nature of the tripartite system of delegation which has been so successful in the I.L.O. If we had three Government delegates, as originally suggested, and two others representing other national interests, I believe that that would be all to the good, and it would be just as successful in the United Nations Assembly, as it has been for many years in the I.L.O.
Coming to Chapter 12 on Trustee Territories, I would suggest, in regard to the very notable clause which enables territories to be voluntarily placed under the trusteeship system by the Powers that, for the moment, are looking after them, that there is a wonderful opportunity for 704 this country to make a gesture to the world. In looking through the articles which govern what we used to call mandated territories, and which in future are to be known as Trustee Territories, I suppose that every Member of the House would claim that the principles therein contained are just the principles upon which we govern our Crown Colonies and other similar parts of the British Empire. If that is so, why not make the gesture of voluntarily placing some at any rate of those parts of the British Empire under this new trusteeship scheme? That gesture would be appreciated; it would be an example to the world and would be of great advantage to the British Empire.
Another part of this trusteeship matter in which I am particularly interested is the question of Palestine. I do not want to flog this question, because I know the difficulty of the Prime Minister. He told us to-day—and I appreciate it—that the Government have only been in office for a very short time, and are not yet in a position to make a public statement of policy on this matter. I am content so long as the Prime Minister, if he possibly can, will indicate, publicly, that this matter is under very active consideration, that, for example, the decisions of the recent world Zionist Congress are before the Government, and that a statement will be issued very shortly, even if it is only on the humanitarian aspect so ably and eloquently put by the hon. Lady the Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) in the Debate on the Address.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) spoke very feelingly as a Jew. May I explain, not by way of apology but just by way of explanation, that I am not a Jew? I am the next best thing, as a member of the Scottish army of occupation in London. Perhaps it is all to the good that a non-Jewish voice should be raised in this humanitarian cause, urging that perhaps this is another opportunity for the Government not to indicate policy—I am not asking for that—but to indicate in a sympathetic way that they have the matter before them and will issue a statement at the earliest possible moment. Every Member of the House has been sent a pamphlet called "Nowhere to lay their heads." I hope hon. Members have read it. It must appeal to the conscience of everyone. If 705 we are sincere in our efforts to give the victims of the war real freedom from fear, we have to get this thing straight, and we cannot be content while we have it on our conscience, as a mandatory Power, that at the moment Palestine is being governed according to the White Paper of 1939, which has never had the assent of the Mandates Commission of the League, and indeed, I believe, was rejected by that Commission. We cannot be satisfied while that remains the position.
Finally, I want to mention a matter which formed the peroration of the speeches of both the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, as indeed it must be the conclusion of everyone who discusses this matter. That is, as was so eloquently put by one hon. Member a few minutes ago, that it is not the wording of the Charter with which we should be most concerned, but the spirit of the Charter. That is the thing that will matter. References have been made to the so-called failure of the League of Nations. I am an unrepentant admirer of the old League of Nations, and whilst I appreciate everything the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington said about the way it was handicapped by the United States of America not being a member, and by all the other handicaps; whilst I appreciate the fact that we have 20 years' experience behind us and improvements have been embodied in this new Charter, I would say there was another reason for the so-called failure of the old League of Nations, and that was that it never had a chance. It never had a chance in this country because of the very unfair attacks made consistently upon it by certain sections of the Press, and it never had a chance at Geneva because the member States of the League were mostly determined that it should not work, and membership in that spirit guaranteed that it would not work; so when it came to the pinch, of course, it did not work mainly for that reason.
How, therefore, can we guarantee that it is going to work any better this time? Surely we have the great lesson of the second world war behind us. We have also the implications of the atomic bomb, which has been mentioned so often that I will not say any more about it. But perhaps it is not sufficient to say that it 706 will be to our interests to see that it works this time. Cannot we put the plea on a higher plane than that? Is it not our bounden duty to civilisation? Is it not a challenge to us, after all those years of civilisation, that this time we must make it work? We have to attune our own consciences to see that it does work—because it will mean sacrifices for this country as well as for other countries. We must indeed have some kind of universal moral rearmament so that each of us individually will see that each Government individually enters into membership of the United Nations Organisation determined that this time we will breathe some real life into this Charter of the United Nations Organisation so that it can hold the ring while we build a better world.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Durbin (Edmonton)
My excuse for intervening in the Debate upon this most vital subject is that I think it will be of interest to the House that a Member of my generation should contribute his impressions of the Charter of the World Organisation. I belong to a generation which is neither young nor old, and, for the second time in my lifetime, we are embarking upon the experiment of attempting to preserve the peace of the world, without the obligations of federation, or without any substantial diminution in the sovereignty that the States members will enjoy over their domestic affairs. My generation grew up "heavily sold "—to use an American expression—upon the idea of the League of Nations, and we are forced to ask ourselves: what are the reasons for supposing that this new experiment, cast in such a similar mould, will be more successful than that to which we attached so much of our faith and in which, in the long run, we found ourselves to be deceived?
I was most interested in the remarks on this subject made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I would agree with him that this new Charter possesses two marked superiorities over the Covenant of the League of Nations. The first of those superiorities is that a positive obligation is placed upon the Security Council to seek and to ensure security and peace by any methods that are: open to it, not short of the use of military force. The second great superiority is that it is 707 firmly and openly and courageously recognised, that in the world in which we live, the hopes of peace must rest upon the organisation of force, and that organisation is provided in the Articles that set up and define the duties of the Security Council.
However, one great defect remains. I thought that it was a defect which had been introduced in the Charter, an inferiority to the Covenant of the League, but I was interested to notice that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington said that this represented no change as between the Charter and the Covenant. But whatever the history of the precedents maybe, one grave defect remains, and that is the right of veto which is vested in the permanent members of the Security Council. It is possible for any great Power to veto the use of force against itself under the terms of the Charter. New great wars are made by great Powers. It is the sad lesson of European history that "the aggressor we always have with us." Before Germany, it was another European Power; after Germany, it may be yet a third European Power. Therefore, it is a matter of serious concern that we should examine with realism, the implications of this veto upon coercive action.
Before the Conference met at San Francisco two hopes were entertained—two loopholes for the circumvention of this limitation upon the powers of the Security Council. Hope was felt very strongly, for example, in the Southern Dominions of the Commonwealth that either some provision could be made for the revision of the Charter, or, alternatively, that some provision could be made for the exclusion from membership of the organisation of a recalcitrant Power. I am afraid, as I understand the provisions of the Charter now laid before us—I ask for guidance—that both those loopholes are closed. From the grave passages in Articles 108 and 109, I gather that the amendment of the Charter is itself subject to the veto of the permanent members of the Security Council, so that any potential aggressor is in a position to veto the amendment of the Charter that would enable coercive action to be taken against it. And as for the exclusion of a recalcitrant member, who is unable to follow the recommendations of the Security Council or honour his obligations under the 708 Charter, the provision is, in my view, a slightly curious one. Such a nation can be removed from membership of the organisation by, if I remember correctly, a two-thirds majority of the Assembly. But this can only be done upon the recommendation of the Security Council. And I imagine that such a recommendation could not be treated as a procedural matter under paragraph 2 of Article 27, since it would be a matter of the supremest political importance. However, on that matter I should like further light and guidance from the Government.
Now where does all this lead us? I think we must recognise that there are certain dangers, certain weaknesses, inherent in the Charter. It possesses, if I may put it this way, a certain top-heaviness in its structure. The Charter proposes that we should set up an elaborate coercive apparatus, that we should enter into all sorts of military commitments and treaties. It is even suggested that we should have strategic bases, jointly occupied under the direction of the Security Council. There are to be special provisions for the creation of something that will resemble the old plan of an international air force. Yet all this powerful apparatus of force, all this machinery of coercion, more ambitious than anything ever conceived in the League of Nations, rests upon the extremely insecure foundation of unanimity amongst the great Powers—the permanent members of the Security Council. It does not seem sufficient to me to reply that if such a situation arises, if one of the permanent members, one of the great Powers, is moving towards aggression, it will mean that the battle of peace is lost, that then the tragedy is completed, that then the world is faced with war. It has always been the profound conviction of most Members on this side of the House, that it would make an immense difference to the issue between peace and war, to the final dreadful decision as to whether a potential aggressor would become an actual aggressor, if the extent and certainty of the combination that would be called forth against it by the threat or practice of aggressive action were known beforehand. My fear about the Charter is that there is some danger that the peoples of the world will be led to trust too deeply in it, and even feel themselves under some obligation not to stand together 709 in a threat of aggression from a major Power. So I must ask: what is intended? How is the Charter and the Security Council to operate if the worst comes to the worst?
Let us face the possibilities. Surely, after our experiences of the last 10 years, we shall be prepared in this country and in this Assembly to face the worst possibilities? I ask: what will happen if the worst comes to the worst and a permanent member of the Security Council threatens the peace of the world? We must be clear about what, in that situation, will be the obligations on the other permanent members of the Security Council under the Charter. That leads me to the last thing I have to say. The Charter, as I see it, offers us two hopes and one plain duty. I do not blame either the present Administration or the last two Administrations in this country for anything that is in the Charter or not in it, because I am sure that it was the best that could be secured from the Conferences. But it presents us with only two hopes and one plain duty. The first hope is that the work of the subsidiary Organisations—economic, social and labour—will bind the nations of the world together in the more constructive purposes of peace. Of course, I share that hope, 3 5 I am sure every Member shares it, but I should be sorry indeed if the prospect of peace rested upon that alone.
There is, however, the second and, in my view, the more substantial hope, that military agreements if they are come to, military commitments if they are entered into, reinforced by the terrifying instrument of destruction that the mind of man has put into our hands—for evil purposes, as well as for good-—will bring into existence so powerful a centre of force that whatever the words may be, whatever the formal obligations of the Charter, no potential aggressor will raise his hand or launch his aeroplanes in the face of such a force. It is because of this that I share the hope of previous speakers that we shall accept the Motion now before the House.
The plain duty remains. There must be no illusions this time; there must be no false hopes. It is our bounden duty to explain to our people, and the peoples over whom we can exert any influence, the grave limitations of the Charter. It is our duty to seek to amend and improve it. But here it is, and we must explain its 710 weaknesses as well as its strength, so that we shall not be lulled to sleep again by false hopes and paper guarantees. We must root out of our hearts the last vestiges of pacificism that may lurk there, and we must have courage to tell our people that it is the grim paradox of the terrible historical period in which we are living that we cannot have peace unless we are prepared to fight for it.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
It devolves on me to congratulate the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) and the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. H. Hynd), who preceded him, on the excellent speeches they have delivered to the House. The hon. Member for Central Hackney has had to leave his place, but I am particularly glad to congratulate him, as he and I are colleagues in some work we do outside this place. I listened to his remarks regarding the International Labour Office with particular interest, because I do not think it was mentioned in the Debate until he mentioned it, that Sir Harold Butler has done some wonderful work with the I.L.O., and has made a great contribution to the work of the Charter since he has been in the United States. In regard to the hon. Member for Edmonton, I have never heard a speech delivered with such assurance by any Member for the first time. Those of us who know his background, realise the particular opportunities that were his to follow all these things, and the great assistance which he always gave to his chief in the work he has been able to do.
I rejoiced to hear from him that in considering the Charter, it is the duty of this House to have no illusions about it. I think it would be false to all we represent and stand for, if we slurred over the difficulties. Therefore, I was particularly glad to hear the hon. Member emphasise what, in his opinion, might be the "snags" against which we shall come up, possibly sooner than some people think. I should like sincerely to congratulate the hon. Member-and to say that I am sure the House will look forward with great interest to his further contributions. Another Member made a notable contribution which lasted a short time, but was, none the less, full of admirable topics. He emphasised that what we should think of is the spirit and not the letter. I am sure every Member feels like that. I believe 711 intensely that if this Charter is to be a real success, we must improve the relations and understandings between the peoples. It is absolutely vital that there should be a better understanding of what is moving the hearts and minds of people, in all parts of the world. The ultimate resort of all these things is a better understanding between the peoples, to overcome the difficulties of language, if we can, and to encourage travel. I am sure that one of the things we ought to press for is that there should be no restrictions of censorship on newspaper articles, or on correspondents moving freely in every part of the world, and communicating to their peoples, through a free Press, fearlessly and honestly, what they see and understand.
To-day there is a sort of steel curtain cutting us off from various parts of the world, even those which are close at hand. It is ludicrous to suppose that we shall ever make the Charter successful, unless everybody understands its implications. It is only the countries which have something to hide, after this great convulsion of war, which are unwilling that the rest of the world should share their difficulties and bring them assistance. How can we promote well-being and raise the standard of living through U.N.R.R.A., and by other means, if the efforts of such an organisation are hidden from us by restrictions which may be necessary in war, but which are without any excuse in peace? The more you retain restrictions, the more you prevent an understanding between the peoples, and the contacts between the different Parliaments, and the understanding of what we mean here by free elections. Countries will understand the meaning of all these things if there is contact and movement between the peoples.
I hope the Government will do everything they can to encourage travel, not only by representatives of trade and industry, but by workers and people in every walk of life. One of the most excellent things which was ever done was the formation of the Workers' Travel Association. I have been in Russia several times between the wars, and I know that the In tourist organisation was set up for this purpose. I believe that nothing would be more helpful to this task if we went all out to encourage travel between our people and the Russian people. We have nothing to be 712 afraid of, nor have they, so why should we not encourage them? Russia is a self-contained world, not dependent on the outside world for raw materials, and unless we can show her how anxious we are to co-operate and that she should be a partner not only in affairs in Europe but in the East, there is grave danger. I believe that this country, and this country alone, can make the first gesture. I have seen a good deal of the work done in that enormous country, and no one can fail to admire the astonishing efficiency of the Red Army in the present war. I am equally sure that it is through the medium of that organisation, that Russia will quickly recover her internal economy. Let us share with her that recovery; let us help all we can by a cultural interchange of relations. They have much to teach us in regard to music and the opera and things like that, and we should profit greatly by learning what they have to teach us.
There is one other matter in regard to the Charter which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr, Eden), and that is the way in which different countries are being divided now into what are called greater and lesser Powers and ordinary Powers. I think there is rather a danger of these terms becoming used perhaps too frequently and, conceivably, in a rather insulting way. After all, our great Dominions are being classified now as middle Powers. Denmark, Norway, Holland, and so on, are content to be called lesser Powers. The great Powers, therefore, become more and more those who are members of the Security Council. It is extraordinary that we have been able to get 50 countries to agree to an organisation where they are all members of this Assembly. I so much agree with what the hon. Member for Edmonton said, that we must be careful that we do not delude our people into thinking that the future is safe for the generations which will follow us.
I came into this House immediately after the last war, in 1918, and I remember the Debates about the League of Nations and how full of hope we were. I was a new Member then, as so many hon. Gentlemen are to-day. Perhaps they have the same hopes of this Charter as I had then of the League. At any rate, there is this about it; we know where 713 we made our mistakes—and they were plenty. The greatest was in not recognising the fact that you cannot have peace unless you have policemen and certain people who are definitely charged, with the wish and consent of the rest, to be trustees of the future. There is a great opportunity before this House. We are all united, so far as I can see on this matter, as we are on the main principles of foreign affairs. We can show the world a very great example. We have emerged from the war poorer financially, perhaps, but greater in spirit than this country has ever been. We have a tremendous opportunity, a great mission. By supporting His Majesty's Government in every way we can this House has a chance of preserving peace in the future. That is the one important thing that matters.
I do not think this House realises the degree of starvation and misery which is abroad. I have had the opportunity of seeing something of it, and it is an appalling prospect. Unless we are able, in the next few weeks—and it is a matter of weeks—to do something, there will be such chaos in certain parts of Europe, certainly Germany, that no Army of Occupation, no organisation we can contemplate, will be able to control that situation. Once that goes, the Charter and everything else is upset. It is not only abroad that there is danger; there is danger here in this country. What will we have to say to the people of this country when they are starving, because, believe me, from what I know Lend-Lease is ended, and unless the United States do something out of charity, I do not know quite where we shall be. It is far better, surely, that we should do all we can to support the Prime Minister in what he said, and the Foreign Secretary—that all of us should make any contribution we can to, production to get export trade going, and should put party prejudice aside, because this is a national problem.
It is appalling, to my mind, that we should emerge from the war with the risk of real shortages in this country. That can only be put right by certain very simple things: the recognition of what confronts us, the will to work and the determination to get over our difficulties. I believe that if we do that we shall get over these difficulties, and unless we do, when we look at the menacing position looming up abroad and at home, all we 714 may say to-day about this Charter will be of very little effect. This Debate will indeed have been worth while if we can tell the country and the world that we are. determined to do all we can to preserve peace; that we will learn from the follies of the past, and that we recognise that the situation that confronts us to-day is a hundred times more difficult to handle-than was the situation in 1918.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Dr. Barnet Stross (Hanley)
I, like so many others in the past few days, would pray the indulgence of the House for this occasion, the first time I have spoken here. I apologise in that I ask hon. Gentlemen, in reviewing this subject of the Charter, to put away for a moment the telescope they have been using for so very comprehensive a survey and allow me to suggest that they might, for a few moments, use a microscope and examine one or two tiny facets of the problem.
The Charter can be translated into a few very simple and homely words. To most of us it means an attempt to give peace to a world that is sick of war, and that peace means a sufficiency of food for all and shelter for all, and a release, perhaps, from the anxieties which have beset so many of us. This word "anxiety" has become a technical term not only physically, but psychologically, whether it be used to describe the physical effects on the individual as in certain diseases—Graves'disease—when the hands tremble, the eye protrudes, the skin is hot and the heart is cold, or whether it refers to the anxieties that beset so many human beings in the world, and which are so very difficult to treat; or whether it is a term that should be applied to certain sets or whole groups of people or nations who suffer from rabid forms of ultra-nationalism that prevent them from joining with their fellow men in any common object.
There is more anxiety perhaps to-day than ever in the world before, and peace and all that is associated with peace will be needed in order to cure this condition. On shelter, we have some knowledge so far as its need is concerned, for in our own country we know the lack of it—not total lack but the permanent overcrowding which for any section of the community can be so deadly. In terms of death, it means an increase in the infant mortality rate of 31 out of each 1,000 infants born. But it is of food, and its 715 position in the world to-day that I would like to speak.
We have heard from the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) this phrase: "We must be prosperous together or impoverished together." In order to understand what prosperity we seek, or what impoverishment we risk, it is perhaps worth while examining conditions as they are to-day, or as they were just before the war. It was stated in the Gracious Speech that the ravages of war have made the world food supplies insufficient to meet our demands. There may be a fallacy in that statement. It is a statement that is easily misunderstood, and it should not foe taken to mean, for a single moment, that the position before the war was satisfactory. All our investigations show that, in 1936, two people out of three in the world were hungry, although two people out of three work on the land in order to produce food. It is, indeed, true to say that some of the terrors of these new methods of destroying ourselves pale into insignificance when considered in the light of what we have always suffered, stealthily and quietly, and as a result of stale custom of which we had no terror at all. The wings of hunger have always been spread over the world, and under their shade millions every year have died; not only in simple numbers of 60,000 from one bomb, but millions each year, and hundreds of millions have survived to grow up crippled, deformed and diseased.
We knew, even before the ravages of the present war, that we required very considerable increases in the world food supplies if we were to have any safe or secure foundations of peace. We needed an increase even of cereals, the commonest and cheapest of our foods, of 50 per cent. In milk and milk products, we needed an increase of 1½ times; fruit and vegetables, three times; meat, fish and poultry, 1¼ times. I cannot share the optimism of some people who feel that if all goes well we shall soon bring about a happy millennium when all men will cease to be hungry and no man will suffer from lack of food. However much we coordinate our effort, it is going to take 50 or 60 years before we can be really successful. If we do not combine to help those who need our assistance, hundreds of years must go by, and this reproach and shame will still confront us.
716 It is said by some people that you can use the consumption of milk and milk products as the yard-stick of the nation's health, and there are some even who would suggest that you might use it as a measure of its culture. From either point of view, it is interesting to note that the consumption in our own country before the war per head per year was 700 pints of milk and milk products and in the United States it was 640. Italy is very far behind with a 183 and that very much discussed country, Bulgaria, with 52. If civilisation and the consumption of milk be allied, we have to be profoundly sorry for Japan with eight pints of milk per head per year. There are other countries, like India, where the position is, and always has been, deplorable. The figures available suggest that half the population never see milk or milk products at all, and with the remaining half—I am specifying one particular survey only—only 25 per cent. have a consumption of one-third of a pint of milk per week.
It is not only in this particular and important food that we see an unequal distribution about the world. This unequal distribution must always make for jealousy and envy and create a condition of affairs that makes strife possible. The whole available sugar that used to be exported from the Carribeans was taken up by the United States and Britain to the extent of 83 per cent., that is to say that 10 per cent. of the population of the world consumed 83 per cent. of most of the available sugar. Of the available orange crops exported in the world 95 per cent. was taken up by Britain and America, and countries on the Western coast of Europe. For all other fruits, the figures and the position were much the same. It is said of edible fats and oils that the struggle for them really does constitute the struggle to live. We see in the years 1934, 1935 and 1936 the world manufactured something like three and a quarter million tons of margarine and of this 90 per cent. was taken up by North America, Britain, Japan and Western Europe. Much the same figure was true also of the total amount of whale oil used in those years.
There were some countries that not only produced food, but exported it to a great extent. We find that they exported it to the detriment of their own people. A typical case might be cited 717 in the case of South Africa, where, with a population of 10,000,000 people of whom 2,000,000 are white, there was quite enough fruit for everybody, if there had been none exported, but the amount of fruit exported was sufficient for 5,000,000 people. They manufactured there in those years before the war enough butter for three and a half million people but exported enough for one million. Of meat, fish and eggs they had not enough for themselves, and yet their export of these was considerable.
The position in Britain, I am sure, is better known to most hon. Members than it is to me. I would simply say that it has been most gratifying to health workers like myself to note during the war years the very remarkable improvement that has occurred particularly in certain sections of the population such as among our young children and expectant women. A notable factor is the improvement that may be effected when there is distribution according to need. In fact, it has been pointed out to me that whereas it costs us £12,500 to kill a Nazi, we were satisfied to keep mothers alive for a few shillings. Adjudged by pre-war standards, we estimate that this country requires a very considerable increase in milk, eggs, fat, vegetables and meat.
If we are to have peace and stability, and the Charter is to mean anything, then the fundamental things which lie behind peace, or will arise from peace, must be observed. Firstly, the whole of the world must produce very much more food; secondly, importing countries will have to produce much more for themselves than they have done in the past.
This of course gives us an opportunity of improving our agriculture far more than we have done so far. Further, exporting countries must satisfy the needs of their own people before they feel themselves free to sell abroad. Lastly, that science must now be wedded to agriculture. I would not like to give the impression that this lady science is free to wed anybody. She has been so long and deeply associated with war that she might be considered to be married to it, but a divorce might well be desirable, and I think we shall have a more fruitful union in the future if we achieve it. One would like to see my hon Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) associated with 718 beating swords into ploughshares. We would expect the harvesters and tractors and binders to roll out. We shall get searching and constructive criticism, no doubt, by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill).
In conclusion, although this has been such a humdrum sort of subject, I would say that the solution of world hunger must surely mean the solution of the problem of foreign policy, and whoever solves, or partially solves, the problems associated with foreign policy will bring us nearer abiding peace and will have the undying gratitude of those who come after us.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Major Digby (Dorset, Western)
It is my pleasant duty to congratulate the hon. Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross). I am sure we all agree that he has performed his arduous task of making a maiden speech with the greatest skill, and by the facts that he has quoted to us he has made it clear how much he has thought about these subjects. We shall look forward to his taking part in our Debates for many years to come.
I rise as one of the many who wish to support this Motion. I am sure that there is the greatest unanimity in the House about this Charter. When we consider the large number of nations who agreed to it we must feel that it is a very great achievement; there is no doubt about that. At the same time, I do not feel that this should blind us to the fact that it is not enough for us to approve this Motion here to-day, and feel that we have then done all that is necessary for the future preservation of peace. I believe there are certain points about this Charter which deserve our close attention, and will continue to deserve the attention of the House in years to come, when the Charter is a little older, and we see how it works out in practice. Those who had the arduous task of drawing up this Charter had a great advantage which those who drew up the Covenant of the League of Nations did not enjoy. They had relatively modern experience on which to go, and it is therefore not surprising that in a number of respects the Charter shows a very definite improvement on the previsions of the League Covenant. A great deal may be said about that, but I only propose to refer to one or two points this evening.
719 First, I should like to draw attention again—it has already been done in this Debate—to the advantage that the Charter is not tied to the peace treaties. A great many of us who have travelled a lot abroad would agree that that was one of the greatest disadvantages of the Covenant of the League that it was tied to the peace treaties. This was not an innovation. In Europe, for many hundreds of years, the settlement after great wars, if a universal system was attempted, it was tied to the peace treaty. For example, we had much the same thing with the Peace of Westphalia, the Peace of Utrecht, and finally the Peace of Vienna. I am very glad that in this instance there is no connection between the Charter and the peace treaties, which are not yet drawn up.
There is a second point—again I would apologize as this has already been referred to in this Debate—that is, the question of universality. It goes without question that one of the chief defects about the League was that it was not universal, that the United States did not come into it and that there were a number of other important States which did not. In the Charter we have got the adherence of those States but I think we should remember a number of others who are still outside it, for example, Sweden and Switzerland. I am sure we all hope that in due course they will be included, so that it really does become a universal system. Thirdly I would like to refer to what is known as peaceful change. In the Covenant of the League an attempt was made to deal with this, perhaps the most difficult of all questions connected with international co-operation, in Article 19, but as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has pointed out, Article 19 of the Covenant never worked. Therefore it is particularly reassuring that the framers of the Charter have endeavoured to frame something which will work.
It is very significant that in Article 34 not only disputes are referred to, but situations. One may say that it is usually disputes that give rise to war, but that is not always the case. For example, there has been a dispute between this country and Argentina for about 100 years about the Falkland Islands, but no reasonable person supposes that that will 720 ever give rise to war. Disputes may be perfectly harmless with regard to future wars, and after all it is that in which we are interested. On the other hand there may be situations which develop very quickly into war without there ever being a long drawn-out dispute. Therefore, I am very glad that in Article 34 of the Charter the Security Council has the right to investigate such situations. I hope that in the future use will be made of this power. I am also glad to sec that in Articles 36 and 40 they have power to act, and the way in which they deal with these matters will play a very important part in how far this Charter is more successful in avoiding wars than was the Covenant of the League, for under these powers which can be exercised by the Security Council—I think I am right in saying that by the agreement of the five great Powers and two of the lesser Powers elected to it—they can in fact bring about peaceful change, and they can in theory at any rate alter some of these situations which in the long run tend to lead to war, because nothing in this world is permanent. These situations are bound to develop over a period of years, and as and when they develop it will be necessary to face them.
There is one other point which I think I should mention in connection with these powers under Articles 36 and 40 as to those powers to take action, when a situation endangers the peace, because one cannot expect a would-be aggressor to give due warning of what he intends to do, and it may be that preventive measures will decide whether the peace shall be maintained or not. In this connection I very much hope there is to be some type of Staff conversations between the Powers of the Security Council, because weall remember, for example, in the case of Belgium in 1940, that when it came near the time she was to be invaded she did not dare to have Staff conversations with the Allies because she feared that would be grounds for a German attack. The absence of these Staff conversations meant that we knew extremely little about the Belgian defensive positions. Therefore, I very much hope that there will be some organisation for Staff conversations, and also that the Combined Staffs at Washington, which have done such excellent work in the past, will not just be written off at once now that peace has come.
721 In an international organisation of this kind, as in a written Constitution of a country, one of two things can be done. Very beautiful machinery can be drawn up which it is hoped will work smoothly in practice. It can be drawn up optimistically with the hope that the defects will be smoothed over. On the oilier hand there can be laid down only those things about which you feel fairly sure they will work smoothly and easily from the word "Go." You can face the bitter realities and propose the bitter minimum that you know will work. That is what I believe that this Charter has set out to do. I believe that it has done it very well when we bear that in mind. But I do feel that we in this House cannot just say that we approve this Charter and then leave the rest to the Charter to work out of its own accord, and automatically prevent further wars. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said that all depended upon the spirit with which this Charter was worked. I would venture to suggest that perhaps we might go further than that, and say that everything depended upon the imagination with which it was worked.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
I crave the indulgence of the House, this being my maiden speech. I crave it for a two-fold reason, because I am going to raise a question that is little understood in the politics of this House. Before doing so, I was cautious enough to take advice, as a new Member, whether I should be strictly in Order in doing so and was advised to go ahead, because, although it was rather an abstruse and not altogether understood subject, I was told it would receive consideration and even attention from all the hon. Members of this Assembly.
I listened carefully on Monday to the whole Debate on foreign affairs and today I have listened to the Debate on the Charter. The shadow of the atomic bomb seems to be hovering over the House in such a way that we seem to have raised a Frankenstein monster by our scientific improvements and do not know how to bury him. Our bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made the whole world shudder. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said that this was our last chance. The right hon. Gentleman the 722 Foreign Secretary gave us such a horrible picture of Europe that he did not seem even to give us a last chance. Next time, there will not be a warning. Unless something is done now, a fleet of rockets will come over laden with these atomic bombs, and the country will be wiped out before knowing that it is even being threatened. It is quite true that the Prime Minister has given us the assurance that the atomic bomb is to be controlled, yet, on Sunday in the Press, we read that the Polish Government have decided to raise a fund for atomic research. The Poles have never been lacking in scientists and mathematicians from the early days of science. They produced Copernicus, and, right up to modern times, have produced scientists without whose work the atomic bomb would not have been possible. I am speaking particularly of Madame Curio.
After the last war we had the League of Nations, and we all believed and felt that we were really approaching the end of war. For years we believed in that. The greater part of my life has been spent going from one country to another, and from one continent to another, and I know that, in those first years of the twenties, people did believe that we were going to outlaw war. Now, we are up against a similar problem, and we have this Charter in front of us. Is it going to satisfy our requirements? How are we to get universal peace by means of a Charter? Or is some nation going to find out some unknown explosive and blow the Charter to pieces, in the same way as Hitler blew the League of Nations to pieces?
If we deserve peace, in present circumstances, the Charter may be a beginning, but we shall have to go much further than that. Unless we all work together for the benefit of mankind and for the elevation of the human race, we shall not be able to defend ourselves against the possibility of a new attack. If we throw away the ideas of nationhood and national aspiration, and exert all our exertions and efforts for the benefit of mankind, then the atomic bomb will be useless, because it will not be necessary. Unless we do that very soon, in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, when some national aspiration intervenes, we are going to be faced with terrible consequences, of which we have no idea now, because the atomic bomb is not the last word in 723 dreadful explosives. It is only the first word in a new era of abominable things. We cannot realise these common aspirations towards a total human effort without having the medium and the instruments by which we can come to an understanding. The basis of common interest is common understanding, and the instrument of a common understanding is a common language. In the past, other thinkers have produced what was known as an international language called Esperanto, but what is wanted is not an artificial language, but an existing living language, such as English itself might be, which could be spread through the world and become the common medium of common understanding. To give an example of the binding power of language, I take this Chamber. We have here in this Chamber the English and the Welsh. [An Hon. Member: "And the Scots."] I happen to hail from Wales, and I am just taking these two, because they are very good examples for my purpose. We do not feel any differently because we come from Wales. Our people are loyal, not to Wales, but to Britain, and all our people are striving for the welfare of Britain. We have a common language, and yet there is a lot of' difference, ethnologically, between an Englishman and a Welshman—as much difference as between an Englishman and a Russian. It is language which binds us, and it is language which separates the nations of Europe.
In the United States they have all nationalities working together for the welfare of that great nation. All are bound together by a common language. They totally forgot the ancestral troubles in the Europe which they left behind them. Surely, if the United States can do it, the people of Europe could also do it if they had the benefit of a common language binding them together. Nothing else separates the nations of Europe but language. Language builds the frontiers, and the frontiers build the problems. As an international language—and I know six languages fluently, and can work in a great many more, so that I can speak on this subject—English is very simple, with very few inflections. It has few words of more than four syllables, and is very easy in pronunciation. The difficulty is that the spelling does not conform to the pronunciation. If we could 724 reform the spelling of the English language we could have the ideal international language. Curiously enough, only yesterday I was talking to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, who assured me that the English language was spreading quite rapidly. If the rest of the world would absorb the English language—it must be done by absorption and not by compulsion—we would make a big stride towards universal understanding.
With this in mind, I approached the Council of the University of London some time ago, and they sent a delegation to see me and asked me to explain the whole procedure. The delegation reported back to the Council. I had a second interview with the delegation, and they told me that they would view with favour the establishment of a Chair of Philology with this purpose in view, if money could be found for this object. I understand that, under the will of Sir George Hunter, there is £30,000 waiting for something of this description—what he called simplified English or simplified spelling. I would willingly give £5,000 to such an object. That leaves £25,000 to be found. We could find £500,000,000 in the stress of war for destruction, because, say what you will and think of it as you will, that money was spent purely for destruction. If we could find £500,000,000 for destruction, surely the Government could come forward with £25,000 for something which might lead us to a new civilisation, a new understanding of civilisation, and a new medium of common understanding?
I would not have ventured to broach this subject had not a speech on it been made by the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). He favoured and fostered Basic English. Nobody knows more about this than I do, because I actually wrote a work in a limited number of words. I have the book here. There is no difficulty; you have to learn how to manipulate the words you use. It is not, however, a restricted number of words that is wanted, but English in all its full beauty, richness and magnificence. We do not want to curtail the language but to give it all our great ideals. If the English language were spread to the far ends of the earth, even the beggars would use it as their language. I can, on the average, teach a person to speak 725 English fluently in two to three months. [An Hon. Member: "A Yorkshire man?"] Yes, a Yorkshire man. I even went to the extreme—this is my maiden speech, and hon. Members must not interrupt—I even went to the extreme of teaching a deaf and dumb Spaniard to speak English. [Laughter.] Perhaps hon. Members do not know, but anybody born with a tongue in his mouth can speak. I was successful in teaching this man to speak a fair amount of English, when he could not talk in his own tongue. I submit that an addition to the Charter should be accepted to the effect that we agree with this proposition, that the University of London, in the very heart of the Empire and Commonwealth, should found this Chair. It is only a matter of finding £25,000 for the welfare of future civilisation. It is the only alternative we have to the atomic bomb. It is the only alternative we have to destruction. If we can afford £500,000,000 for extermination, surely we can afford £25,000 for this, even if it is only an experiment; it might lead to the definite solution of the troubles of the world.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
To-night I am able to realise the ambition of eight years. For eight years I have had the honour of being a Member of this House, and I have never had the opportunity of congratulating anybody upon a maiden speech. It has needed an extraordinary General Election to enable me to do it to-night, but I do so with very great pleasure. I congratulate the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) on a speech which was certainly sincere and equally certainly original. I want to say, too, that this is the first time that I have ever known any Member of this House to bewilling to back his ideas with his own money. For that reason, as well as for others, I am sure that hon. Members who have been privileged to listen to this maiden speech will long remember it. I congratulate the hon. Member on the success that he has achieved to-night.
I am sure that the Government must be well satisfied with the reception which the Motion moved by the Prime Minister has had. From all sides of the House has come welcome for the Charter. Certain things are quite clear. The House will ratify the Charter. It is equally clear that the need for a world organisation is 726 obvious to all, but the doubt still remains r will this international organisation work or not? Will it be able to deliver the goods? I am not worried about that doubt. I should be much more worried if that doubt did not exist, because we have been told by speakers that we must have no illusions about this Charter. I am very glad to hear that. I am glad to hear that Members of this House have no illusions, and I believe that very large numbers of people in the country have no illusions about the Charter. The trouble last time, and one of the reasons why the League of Nations was not able to achieve its objects, was that there were too many illusions then. At the end of the war in 1918 people were so tired of the war and so impressed with the horror and futility of it all, that they thought it would never happen again, that all that was necessary was to set up an international organisation and that of itself it would do the trick. This time we know better. I think it is because we are alive to the difficulties and dangers which still remain that perhaps this time we shall do what we did not do last time, follow up our approval of an international organisation, accept the responsibility of ratifying this Charter and see that it is made to work.
It has been made abundantly dear in the discussion that the Charter itself is workable, but it yet remains to be proved whether those who are responsible for working it will see that it docs work and that is not the concern of Governments only but of the peoples as well. I would like to express the hope that what was done at San Francisco when the terms of the Charter were agreed upon might be followed in the working of the Charter too. At San Francisco we had an all-party delegation. When we send representatives to the Assembly and to Conferences arising out of it, why should not these include representatives of the Opposition Parties as well as of the Government? These things are above party, and it is very much better if our representatives at these gatherings can speak not only as representatives of a Government or of a party, but as representatives of the nation as a. whole. I hope, too, that Members of this House will be given a greater opportunity of playing the part which they ought to play, to see that this Charter is made to work, and that to enable them to do this they will 727 be given much more information about the real state of foreign, affairs than they have been given in the past. I know this information cannot always be given on the Floor of the House, but whether this Charter is to work or not does not depend upon this clause or upon that. It really depends upon the state of our relations with other countries. To ensure that they should be right, I think it is necessary that the Government should have 'behind them an informed House of Commons, whose members can bring home to their constituents throughout the country the true state of international relations. I hope, therefore, that upstairs in committee rooms there will be frequent meetings of representatives of the Foreign Office and Members of the House of Commons of all parties.
The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin), in a maiden speech of great excellence, posed this terrifying question to us, speaking on the veto of the great Powers: What is going to happen if the occasion should ever arise when one of the great Powers on the Security Council threatens the peace of the world? He did not provide an answer to his question. Who can give an answer? All we can say is: Heaven help humanity if that situation ever arises. Our duty, therefore, is to see that it does not arise. Whether this Charter will succeed or not, whether this new world organisation will be the success that we hope it will foe, and which it ought to be, or whether it will be the failure that its predecessor was, depends upon whether the great Powers can preserve their cooperation, friendship and good will. To do that we have to remove a great deal of suspicion that now exists.
Let us not blind ourselves to facts. There is a great deal to be done if the great Powers who were Allies in the war are to co-operate together in peace so as to secure and maintain the peace of the world. Therefore, with regard to the atomic bomb, one must ask: "What is to be done with it?" The present proposal is that the secret should be shared by the United States of America and ourselves. The United States of America have the full facts, but on the whole the secret is shared. It is a very difficult thing to decide whether that is the right course to pursue or not, but what is clear is that it is going to be extremely difficult to remove the suspicion which still exists as to our inten- 728 tions so far as Russia is concerned, and to convince Russia that we do not believe she has any evil intentions.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Would the hon. Member explain further, how the system of collective security works, the system that depends on the greater power of all the United Nations, over any one individual member, if one member alone has decisive power over the whole world?
§ Mr. Lipson
I was going to follow up the point I have made by saying that the only result of America and ourselves trying to keep this secret is that the other Powers will feel they are not very safe if one Power has a weapon of this kind, and for the sake of their own security—and we all realise the need for national security in these days, perhaps more than ever—that it is necessary for them to take steps to find out the secret of the invention themselves, and ultimately they will do it. Therefore, the only way to deal with the atomic bomb is to hand it over to the Security Council, but if that is done I think steps will have to be taken to prevent its manufacture by any single country for its own purposes. It is a fact that the invention of the atomic bomb not only makes it more necessary for us to make a reality of this world organisation in order to maintain peace, but it also brings home to us the need to revise the arrangements made at San Francisco for preserving the peace of the world against an aggressor. I do not believe that in the years that lie immediately ahead there is any danger of further aggression on the part of those who have been our enemies in the last war. We have to make sure, on the other hand, that aggression does not arise from any other quarter. To prevent that happening, I think it is necessary to put in the hands of the Security Council this new and dreadful weapon, and I hope that in the light of recent events the Government will give further consideration to this matter.
The success or failure of this new world organisation will depend upon the success or failure of our foreign policy in the years that lie ahead. Let us realise that we have to do all we can to see that friendly realtions are maintained, and for that reason I welcome the importance given in the organisation to the Social and Economic Council. It is impossible to expect that political relations between one 729 country and another will be friendly if all the time an economic war is being waged. If we want to preserve the peace of the world we have to arrange our economic relations with other countries so that we do not try and obtain trade at the expense of others but have more regard for the benefit of all. No doubt this Parliament and this Government will commit many sins of commission and omission, but I believe they will all be forgiven if they can really establish our foreign relations on a proper basis. If they can ensure that the peace of the world is reasonably safe, if they can give a proper start to this new world organisation, if they can make it clear to the nations of the world that they are determined to give it all the support they possibly can, they will have deserved well of the country and the country will forgive them sins of commission or omission in other matters.
We, in this country, have a very great part to play, owing to the prestige which we have been able to build up for ourselves in the war and the confidence that we have been able to win thereby. I believe that we have found a place for ourselves which will enable us, in the years that lie ahead, to help to guide the world on the path of peace and prosperity. I believe that in the ratification of this Charter we shall take an important step in that direction, provided that with that ratification is a clear realisation that it carries with it a responsibility and pledge to do all that we possibly can to see that the new International Organisation works as it ought to work.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
I am reluctantly forced to add to the anxieties of a maiden speech, by venturing on what might be regarded as controversial ground, but it cannot be helped, because I believe that this Motion should not be a subject for uncritical assent. The hon. Member who has just spoken called attention to the difference between the attitude, expectancy and hope which obtained in this House in 1918, when the Covenant of the League of Nations was under consideration, and the atmosphere that obtains to-day. It is an inescapable fact that there is a notable lack, by comparison, of popular enthusiasm and of popular optimism for the Charter, and I believe that, as usual, the popular instincts are soundly based. 730 So, although I shall vote for the Motion, I shall do so with qualified enthusiasm. I shall do so because there is offered to us, at this moment, only this one alternative, only this instalment of collective security. Obviously, for Great Britain to fail to ratify, would only cause discouragement and confusion.
I feel that it is none the less very important, if not more important, that we should recognise and emphasise what this proposed organisation is and not pretend that it is what it is not. What it is not, is, I suggest, a world authority designed to ensure peace on principles of objective justice. What it is, on the contrary, to be quite blunt, is an old-fashioned alliance of great Powers piously hoping that they will love and cherish each other "for ever and ever. Amen." They promise to love each other, and to honour each other, but to obey nobody. This, in rather different language, is precisely what Article 27 says. It confers, as we know, the right of absolute veto on any of the big Powers and it ensures, therefore, that no decision is ever likely to be taken that is sufficiently controversial and, therefore, sufficiently important, to excite the dissent of any one of the big Powers.
I have been exhorted—we have all been exhorted—not to go into the detailed criticism, to which, from time to time, this Chanter has been subjected. I think that much of that criticism has been justified, but there is one criticism which I think is of extreme importance and must not be ignored, and that is that the position of the International Court of Justice itself is curiously helpless. It has no executive authority. One is bound to ask what can conceivably be hoped for from a concept of permissible authority. All its rulings and all its interpretations of law are only valid subject to the concurrence of the big Powers, that is to say, subject only to the concurrence of certain potential litigants. It is also relevant to ask what is there to be hoped for from promises of security which are founded on nothing else than the mere hope of five great nations that their interests will never clash.
It is, I know, easy to make this general criticism. I appreciate fully the enormous significance of getting 50 nations together agreeing to sacrifice the right, however illusory, to conduct independently their affairs. I realise too how enormously diffi- 731 cult it is to persuade 50 nations in this time of mutual suspicion and fear to embark on any system of disarmament, but something has happened which should make it much less difficult, and that is that the nations of the world, all except one, now are disarmed. Disarmament and armament are relative terms. In the age of tanks, a country armed with bows and arrows is a disarmed country. In the atomic age, a country armed with tanks is a disarmed country. I suggest that it is no exaggeration to maintain that at this moment of time—I do not say how long it will last—Powers like Russia and even Great Britain are as helpless, so fax as fighting strength goes, as Switzerland and Luxembourg, and that to talk even in terms of Great Powers is to talk in obsolete terms. I suggest that if this is not a revolution, changing the picture of foreign politics and urgently requiring not only new thinking but new action, then there will never be such a revolution.
I believe, moreover, that this moment of common helplessness is not only, as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said, our last chance, but that it is also our first real opportunity. I cannot believe, for example, that if Marshal Stalin is as longheaded as he is reputed to be, he will be content any longer to rest the security of his country on the veto allotted to him on the Security Council. I am convinced that he, too, at this moment, will be taking fresh stock, and that this is the moment of all moments when he and the representatives of all other great Powers might profitably be approached. It is hard to believe that he would be averse from grasping this opportunity of transferring the one monstrous menace that exists, from the hands of an independent foreign Power into the hands of an international authority. It can be done, but the initiative has to be taken, and I sincerely hope that this country will take it. If Marshal Stalin's object is still, as I believe it has always been, to protect his country from foreign aggression, and to secure for it a long period of productive peace, he will not, I am convinced, be so difficult as his enemies might fear.
It might be asked why should the United States, in their singular position, be prepared to hand over this weapon which gives them, at the moment, pre-eminence? I suggest that they might well 732 do so, because they, too, are conscious, no doubt, that their monopoly might not be long lived. Moreover, it is worth remembering that the monopoly, and that the manufacture, of this atomic bomb is a State and not a private enterprise, and that the State is not, therefore, likely to view the irresponsible production of it abroad with any welcoming eye. Since the first use of this bomb we have been told, everywhere and constantly, that the people of the world have now finally to choose between co-operation and annihilation. It is not true. The people of the world have already chosen, even before the discovery of this bomb. There was no more profound passage in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs than that in which he called attention to the fact that the ordinary men and women do not start wars. They merely fight and die in them. That is why I believe that nothing contributes, and can contribute, more substantially to the maintenance of peace and the spread of genuine democratic government.
If it is not the people who may be the obstacle, and who have yet to make their choice, who is it? I humbly suggest that it is the Foreign Offices of the world. They operate according to a tradition, and it is not a popular tradition. It is a tradition dating back to the Italy of the 15th century and it has barely changed. It is a tradition for which the popular current term is "realism," I confess that whenever I hear a mention of realism, I have a premonition of impending mischief and violence. It was realistic to condone the Japanese action in Manchuria. It must have been realism. It was realistic to declare for the path of non-intervention in Spain. It was realistic to encourage and strengthen the incipient Herr Hitler in Germany because of the realistic calculation that possibly his weapons might be turned East against the Bolsheviks. To all those of us who survive, when we survey the long record of disaster that the calculations of realism have put upon our shoulders, it is not altogether un-understandable that there should be a certain degree of mistrust in the judgment of the Foreign Office. I am not making an attack on individuals; it is an attack on a tradition. I am attacking the tradition of expediency and opportunism. I am convinced that the contribution of the ordinary man, especi- 733 ally in the realm of politics, is fundamentally a moral contribution. He thinks in moral terms because he has the advantage of being uninstructed and cannot see the wood for the trees. I cannot but think that considerable advantage might accrue by the introduction of a few moral simpletons into the Foreign Office.
What is needed now? I am certain that it is not a shrewd stroke, the stroke of astute traditional diplomacy. What is needed is an act of forcible, even spectacular imagination. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will publicly affirm and endorse the opinion, which I believe to be widespread, that much of the Charter is already obsolete and ripe for immediate revision; that this revision must primarily remove the power of individual veto granted in Article27; that the atomic bomb should be forthwith transferred to international control and manufactured on territory especially internationalised for the purpose; that the nations shall submit to an international inspectorate to ensure agains secret manufacture; and that this country, for one, is readly to recognise the supremacy of an international authority, and to surrender, moreover, the requisite degree of her own sovereignty in consequence. Such proposals, I suggest with all diffidence, should not be made through the usual channels; they should be made publicly to the heads of States with the avowed and unashamed purpose of mobilising the pressure of public opinion in every country. There is at this time a vast deal of popular feeling waiting to be canalised. Let it be canalised behind the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary of Great Britain.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Captain Gammans (Hornsey)
I do not imagine that since the Parliament of 1906 so many maiden speeches have been made in this House in so short a time. I think that I have listened to most of them, and what has struck me is the extremely high level of what has been said and the eloquence with which it has been said. The speech to which we have just listened is a notable example of both. My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. B. Levy), who has just sat down, apologised when he got up for threatening to sound a discordant note in the Debate. I do not think he need have apologised. In the early part of his speech he brought us down to some of 734 the realism which he deprecated in the latter part, and in the end of his speech he made us realise that to a great extent what has been agreed at San Francisco has been put out of date by the atomic bomb, and that the world had better have another think as to whether the whole conception of sovereignty and the principle of limited liability which is contained in this document ought not to be reviewed afresh.
I do not want to strike a discordant note, because what I am hoping as the result of the Debate is that the world will know that the Parliament of this country is behind the San Francisco Charter, not only in the pure letter of what has been decided, but also in the spirit of what we hope will result from it. One of the things which has given me great pleasure in the Debate is that almost all speakers have been realistic in understanding the limitations of San Francisco. We understand its possibilities, but we also understand how little in effect can be done by the Charter itself unless behind it there is the will to make it work. Let us acknowledge straight away that this is not an arrangement of collective security. I hope that we shall not use the words "collective security" in the years which lie ahead. This Charter is in effect an acknowledgment that the future of mankind depends on whether or not three great Powers can get on together. If they can, there is some hope. If they cannot, there is nothing that has been put on paper at San Francisco that will get us anywhere. If we take the Charter at its face value, it is extremely disappointing. It is full of platitudes and high sounding phrases, and there is that limitation of the veto to which almost every hon. Member has referred.
If I may refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, there are, to my mind, two things on the other side of the balance sheet which we must remember which redeem the whole conception of San Francisco. The first is the realisation of all the great countries that unless they hold together there is no hope for any of them separately. If San Francisco did nothing more than make the Great Powers determine to go on trying, San Francisco would have been a success. To my mind, the outstanding feature of San Francisco is that the United States has now fully and without 735 reservation accepted her obligations as a great world Power. That is far greater than anything which has been put down on paper.
What I want specially to say a word about—I do not think any other hon. Member has referred to it—are the regional arrangements under Article 52. At one time it looked as though both Russia and the United States were going to oppose any conception of regional arrangements within the Charter. I remember being in the United States two-and-a-half years ago, and when I tried to talk about a Western European pact or an Eastern European pact, I found American opinion extremely hostile to it. They said, "This is the old power politics dished up in another form." We also found Russia hostile to the idea of regional arrangements. There existed the old suspicion of a cordon sanitaire around them. But to-day these two countries have not only largely changed their views of regional arrangements, but have set up regional arrangements of their own. We ought to satisfy ourselves and try and understand what those arrangements are.
Russia has made it perfectly obvious that she is going to concern herself with whatever happens in Eastern Europe. I do not think it is much use our criticising or approving the way she has done it, but she has made it clear that in those countries which are contiguous to her—Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic Republic, a large part of the Balkans, and, in all probability, Manchuria and Korea as well—not only is she going to satisfy herself that they are in alliance with her, and, in the case of Czechoslovakia, a treaty of military alliance, but she is also going to demand that they have Governments which are friendly to the Soviet Union. I do not want to blame Russia or approve of her actions, but do let us realise that is what Russia is doing. As a result of the war, the population of contiguous countries which are favourable to Russia and upon whom she can rely has nearly doubled her population. America has long had the Monroe Doctrine, but that old, rather negative conception has been much reinforced by the recent conference at Mexico City.
The point I want to make is that if these regional pacts are thought necessary for the security of Russia and the United States, surely we in this country, who are 736 a hundred times more vulnerable than either Russia or the United States, had better look to regional pacts of our own. It is obvious that in Western Europe the security of France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, the Scandinavian countries and Iceland is bound up with our own security. We cannot afford to ignore What happens in those countries for our very life's sake.
I am one of those who believe that there is such a thing as a Western European conception of life. It is a conception of life which is based upon Christianity, democracy and freedom of speech and conscience, and also on a belief in the value of human personality. That Western European way of life has received in this war and in the last an almost mortal blow. Whether or not it can revive itself, it is still too early to say, but of one thing I am absolutely convinced; that is, that it will not be revived except by leadership from this country. All the countries of Western Europe are looking to this country for a lead, and if we do not give it, we may find that Western democracy as we have known it, which has largely given the pattern to the American way of life as well as to our own, will be swallowed up, and we shall be the last remaining bastion of true democracy on the European Continent. I do not want to be unduly depressing about this but when one considers what is happening to-day in Western Europe it is as well that we should consider these things.
I am most specially concerned at our relationship with France. Our whole future, whether we like it or not, is indissolubly linked with France. Not only the ties of blood shed in two wars link us, but also something far stronger than that, and that is the very ties of mutual security. The Channel to-day is no wider than the Somme was in the last war. I do not think anybody can feel entirely happy about what has been happening during the last year or year and a half in our relations with the French Republic. It seems to me that there has been an attempt—I do not know whether it is a deliberate attempt or not—to relegate France to a subordinate position. If they are asked to an international conference they are asked as a sort of poor relation. That has not only wounded very deeply the pride of France at a time when France is feeling very sore about the events of 1940, but it has made the task of General 737 de Gaulle and his Government all the more difficult. I do not want to go into the reasons for this. I do not think General de Gaulle himself is entirely blameless, but certainly in the past the United States have never been particularly favourable to him. But let us forget the past. Not only for the sake of France but for our own sake it is up to this country to insist that whatever may have happened before, France should be treated as a first-class Power in future.
I will give just one example. So far as I know no members of the French National Committee have been asked here to London, nor have we, as Members of this House, had opportunities of going in our joint capacity to France to make those contacts with French democracy which are absolutely essential if the link between the two countries is to be cemented again. I hope that the new Government and the new Foreign Secretary will not, so far as a Western European pact and our relations with France are concerned, feel themselves too tied to the policy which has been adopted by the other two Allies. Now that this Charter has been accepted throughout the world, I am quite convinced that upon the restoration of France as a Great Power, and upon the creation or rather the recreation of the western conception of life in all its glory, rests not only the peace of the world but the security of this island.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
We have been debating the ratification of this Charter, which was produced by the late Government. One of the most realistic speeches I have heard upon the subject was made by an hon. Member in a maiden speech. He applied reason to the application of the Charter, and warned us of the dangers that lie ahead. I realise that after any great war there is an emotional disturbance, throughout the world, because war has brought tremendous destruction and loss of life. Because of that the people are naturally looking forward to the establishment of some means to prevent war in the future, and their Governments are called upon to take some action which, to the unthinking multitude at least, gives at any rate the appearance that a plan has been produced to prevent future wars. The great mass of the people of the world then begin to lie back in ease and comfort of mind imagining that the 738 plan means what it says, and that it will prevent wars in the future.
I take a rather optimistic view of the future, but I take a pessimistic view of the solution proposed in this Charter. I do not take the view that every Bill brought before this House is meant to cheat the public in their desire to eliminate war, and in so far as it can arouse, in the minds of the people, a desire to eliminate war, and a realisation of the necessity to produce some plan to that effect, it is to be encouraged and supported. As has been said, time and again, during this Debate, our minds to-day go back to the old League of Nations. It was apparent to any thinking Socialist who was area list that the League of Nations could only be really effective if the causes of war had been eliminated entirely. If the causes of war had been removed, the peoples would automatically have come together. The same is true of the Charter. It may show a desire to eliminate war, but it also shows a desire to defend two completely antagonistic motives.
A great revolution has taken place; as was shown in the late General Election, the people are on the march. This new Government has gained tremendous power, because of the revulsion of feeling of the common people against war and its crudities, and against the insecurity and disturbance which it brings to their lives. They have felt, in a great and simple manner, that war has always been associated with the Conservative Party of this country and with the conservative elements in the world and, although they have gone through the fires of war apparently giving support to the leaders of the Conservative Party, they have now turned to them and said, "You were the cause of the conflict, and you will be relegated to the scrap heap for all time." They will, if the Labour Party do, in a reasonable manner, the things the electors have given them power to do. As man, with that idea in mind, advances through his democratically elected parliaments, as he eliminates the causes of war by destroying the rights of certain persons to make profit out of the necessities of the people of the world, or to take out of their hands land, finance, and industry, in the measure that mankind advances through his popularly elected representatives in parliaments and governments, the plans of San Francisco will bear fruit. It is that realism that 739 must enter into the lives of the people if they are to enjoy security and if the intentions that lay behind their sacrifices during the war are to be realised in our time.
One hon. Member in a very brilliant maiden speech—with which I did not completely agree—placed some of the desires and necessities of the future in wrong categories. He said that one of the most important things was a common language. That is very important, but I think a common motive and a common morality are even more important than a common language. There are two motives in the world to-day. One is that of San Francisco—the desire to use power to prevent your neighbour from going to war because it may upset your private and personal interests. But there is another motive in the world. In Soviet Russia there is the underlying evolution of public ownership, although I disagree very often with the methods employed to enforce it. Soviet Russia desires to drive the world along the road to Communism. The capitalist world desires to preserve private ownership, private industry, private land and private finance. Those two motives have clashed and will clash more and more in the future. I do not place so much importance on the Soviet method of achieving their end, although that may be all right in the Russian areas; I attach importance to the method that has been employed in the recent General Election. Intelligence and reason have advanced both the mind and the heart of the nation along the democratic road to the elimination of private interests.
Is San Francisco to be used to preserve an Empire of slave labour? Is it to be used for the purposes of backing one aggressor capitalist nation against another aggressor capitalist nation? Is it to be used for the purpose of defending capitalism against the encroachments of Communism? These are the apparent contradictions that San Francisco can never solve. A former member for Shettleston, the late John Wheatley, said that nobody ever introduced in this House a Bill to abolish rain, because people knew it was utterly impossible. When one talks of abolishing war while the causes of war remain, it is only an attempt to mislead the public and to make people believe that a ready means is at hand of eliminating war. Mankind is 740 advancing in knowledge and seeing the reasons for war; the common people never demand or desire war. If an atomic bomb is launched, for what purpose is it launched? It is launched to maintain and defend the private interests of the world against the encroachments of a new order, a new ideology. When I hear San Francisco talked of as being a means of eliminating war and the giving us the ideal system of the future, I must express complete disagreement.
I am glad that the Charter is being ratified by a new Government, even though it was born of the old Conservative Party which dominated the late Government. If I may say so in passing, I watched as an interested spectator the evolutions during the recent General Election that produced the change that has taken place in this House. I watched the great assistance] which the Labour Party received from Lord Beaverbrook. I think Transport House should put up a monument to Lord Beaverbrook. I do not know whether or not he wanted to get one back on the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), but he did so. He led the Conservative Party into complete disaster. The former Foreign Secretary was continually telling us about the dangers of dictatorship. The Conservative Party will have reason to remember dictatorship at this General Election. I do not know whether the Conservative Party realise it or not, but the popular mind resented the dictatorial attitude of the Prime Minister during the war. The first time the people got an opportunity to administer a rebuke in a quiet but effective manner they did so.
People saw that the Prime Minister's family was able to move throughout the world with ease whereas many girls in the Forces could not get home to nurse their mothers who were ill. There was a popular realisation that all was not well in this country. The Prime Minister was moving around with "V" sign, cigar and hat on top of a stick. People felt that he was enjoying the war, that it was fans private war, and that he was prepared to carry it on almost, as Mrs. Churchill said, till the cows came home.
§ Mr. McGovern
Supposing I were to admit that that were true, for argument's 741 sake, it would not destroy in the popular mind the view that the war was being used for personal purposes by certain individuals during the period of the war. I am only trying to say that the Conservative Party should realise that they have suffered from a personal dictatorship during this war and during the General Election—[Interruption.] I am only saying this in passing. With regard to the Charter, I support it, as many Members support it, because we have had an influx of intellectual ability into this House which I am glad to see. As one who is growing old I am also glad to see an influx of youth into the House, with new ideas, energy and the desire for changes to take place. I hope they will draw on the lessons of to-day and make the proper deduction that this is only a step on the road to security and the entire outlawry of war. So far as the Labour Party are concerned, I hope they will move speedily along the road to public ownership. Time is a vital necessity at this moment. In so far as they can eliminate private ownership and private interests in this country and throughout the Empire they will eliminate the possibility and necessity of war, and the Atlantic Charter will be unnecessary. The clauses outlined in this Charter are more suitable for the time when the peoples of the world have come together, having eliminated the causes of war.
As to the atomic bomb, some people are disturbed because it is in the hands of America. Some people are saying that it is a good job it is confined to one country and that, therefore, the mischief that might be done by the atomic bomb would be reduced to a minimum. But does anybody believe that the atomic bomb will be the property of one nation? Scientists of every country will be engaged upon it every moment of their spare time, and energy and money will be poured into research in order to discover even more devastating ways of dealing with entire populations during the period of a war. An hon. Member mentioned that Poland was spending money on research, and we must realise that when he said Poland he meant Soviet Russia. The Lublin-controlled Government of Poland is Soviet Russia. In almost every country in the Balkans, in the Baltic and in Central Europe, if they are engaged in research, it will be for that one ideology. Money will be poured out, I have no 742 doubt, from the Foreign Office in this country and in other countries in order to try and discover ways and means of getting hold of the methods of the atomic bomb by buying the secrets, as Foreign Offices usually do. Therefore, the future in store for the populations of the world is one of complete extermination unless peace can be quickened and private ownership completely eliminated, so that public ownership takes its place and the industries of the countries are socialised. The peoples of the world will then enjoy prosperity and peace with the elimination of war entirely.
I will finish by saying that I welcome these changes which have taken place, but as mankind is marching slowly towards the goal we must quicken the pace, stimulate the emotions of men and develop a knowledge of the causes of war in order that we may continually keep alive the power to destroy these causes. If in the future, in co-operation with other countries that are steadily marching towards that goal, the Labour Government deal intelligently and energetically with these interests by keeping them under control or eliminating them, then they will have secured power, not for five years, but for the lifetime of every human being in this country. In that way, they will be assisting in the development of mankind towards the elimination of war, and when they have eliminated the causes of war, they will have laid the foundation of real friendship, peace and prosperity throughout the entire world.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
As this is the first occasion upon which it has been my privilege to address this historic Assembly, of which I am proud to have so recently become a Member, I crave the indulgence of the House, as is the custom. A last war rank-and-file member of Mr. Speaker's own Regiment, I address the House as a member of that generation, which, having fought one war, has recently had to send its sons to fight another. We did not take very kindly to September, 1939, and still less should we appreciate having to watch our grandchildren on the march 10 or 15 years from now. For that reason, our approach to the problem of post-war international settlement is strictly an objective one. We are not so much concerned with a 743 hard peace or a soft peace, always having regard to the humanities, of course. What we are concerned about is a peace that will endure. I would describe a peace that will endure, as a peace which the people of Great Britain and the people of the political democracies of the West will be prepared to mobilise to maintain 10 or 15 years from now. It is from that view that I approach this problem.
What are the proposals as far as they are known? In the East it would appear that East Prussia is being taken over by Russia, that the Polish frontier is being pushed to within 40 miles of Berlin, the line of demarcation being the Oder, and in the south even further east than the river Neisse. Despite doodlebugs, rockets, air-borne armies and atomic bombs, we are still basing our hopes of peace on some out-moded strategic conception that security can safely be based on a river. It would appear that is the policy that is going to prevail, and once it has been decided upon one of two things has to be done. Poland would have to face up to the presence of a large and virile German minority or a policy of forcible deportation on a very large scale has to be carried out. The second course seems to have been followed and in consequence we learn from the assistant chief of the Berlin department for evacuated persons, that at the present time 200,000 old people, women and children are pouring into Berlin each week from the east. They are homeless and possess nothing but that in which they stand up. One woman brought six children in two perambulators 90 miles. Fifty camps have been set up to deal with these people, and after they have been fed—a bowl of soup and a quarter of a pound of bread—they are sent on their way again, where to, goodness only knows. I ask the House: Is this what those gallant souls, who will not come back, those who will not grow old as we shall grow old, fought and died for? I do not think so. Neither do I think that the future peace of Europe is helped by such happenings. I go so far as to say that the seeds of another war are being sown at this moment.
Let us turn to the West. It is common knowledge that General de Gaulle is pushing for the French frontier to be based on the Rhine. If, what has been done in the east is logical and just, why not? 744 doubt very much whether that will be. France lacks military strength, and the capacity to make herself a nuisance in other parts of the world, so it may well be that that will not come to pass, but we have to contemplate that possibility. If it comes to pass, what will be the position then? France, with territory already larger than Germany and a population of no more than 40,000,000, will be faced with the problem of dealing with a 10,000,000 German minority.
Having regard to our knowledge and experience of the resistance movement, what sort of a headache will this be for France? Of course, there is this alternative of forcible deportation, and if that takes place what will confront us? We should have the spectacle of 65,000,000 people trying to live on land that will only maintain 45,000,000 people at the outside—this when these deportees have been pushed back into Germany. I do not believe that this is a policy at all; I believe it is lunacy. I do not think peace will be helped by such measures. If we do what I have just mentioned, what are we going to have? A permanent U.N.R.R.A. in Germany? Because if not we shall have famine and pestilence and, as we well know, famine and pestilence know no frontiers. I would like to say at this point that the heavy industries of the Ruhr are necessary to Europe, and despite anything which persons anxious to export unemployment may say, the heavy industries of the Ruhr will have to be restored.
Now let me say that this attempt to indict 65,000,000 Germans for the misdeeds of a few is as illogical and unjust as it would have been to indict 47,000,000 Britishers for the Spanish non-intervention policy. A proposal to create 65,000,000 untouchables in the heart of Europe does not remove the powder barrel from Europe, it only compresses it into a smaller space. It behoves us, on this side of the House, at any rate, never to forget that the first victims of Nazism were Germans—German trade unionists, German co-operators, German members of democratic political organisations. It was they who first peopled the concentration camps and graveyards of Germany, and there were people in them, at the time when the Anglo-German Naval Agreement set the seal of approval on the Nazi regime.
745 Having regard to this propaganda to the effect that the Germans are barbarians, I would ask the House to bear with me whilst I relate a personal happening. Early in 1938 four fellows met at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. One was a pitman from Bedlington, one was a pitman from Wardley, the third was a steeple-jack from Consett, and I was the fourth. We drove down to Dover, put the car on the boat, went across to Calais, and then started a trip which lasted nearly three weeks. We went down the old Western Front visiting the places we knew and the graveyards where we had left some of our comrades, and eventually went on, down through Verdun and Metz, into Germany. Before we crossed the frontier we had a meal at the last French town and planned a campaign. We decided that we would not have any of this "Heil Hitler" nonsense; we would not mind standing to attention if they played the national anthem, we would behave as intelligent people would be expected to behave. The point I want to make is this: this, if I may say so, was a fairly robust party. None of us was troubled by inhibitions or frustrations, and certainly none of us had any great love for the Germans. We went into Germany and, much as I would like to tell the House of some of the things that happened, time does not permit, but I might say that it was a wonder we did not find our way to Buchenwald. Coming out we had a couple of days in Berlin, where we had spent three months after the last Armistice, and we held an inquest on all that we had seen in Germany and on the Germans themselves.
We came to this unanimous conclusion, that there is no essential difference between the Saar mine-worker and his Durham counterpart, that there is no essential difference between the Dusseldorf lathe-hand and his Birmingham counterpart, that there is no difference, bar that of language, between German bar-tenders and transport workers and their British counterparts. It is complete nonsense to say that the Germans are any different from ourselves. It has been my privilege to travel in Europe and the United States, and, speaking out of that experience, I find the common people the same everywhere, their wants are relatively simple and relatively stable—they want to be free from the fear of war and the fear of want. That is all they want, and the 746 proposals, so far as we know them at present, do not contribute to that end. That is my indictment.
I am going to say a word on a somewhat delicate subject and I am not afraid to do so because I have been a steadfast upholder of Anglo-Soviet collaboration, through the columns of "The Birmingham Town Crier" of which I am privileged to be the chairman. I am aware of the suspicions of our Soviet comrades and I understand them. It would be an insult to our own intelligence to expect that the events of the past four years have entirely obliterated from Russian minds all memories of the previous 20 years. However, I would suggest to our Soviet comrades that Europe is in the melting-pot, and an entirely new condition of things obtains. I believe that on 5th July something happened in this country which, in years to come, will have as great an historical significance and importance as 14th July, 1789, in France and October, 1917, in Moscow. I would ask our Soviet comrades to have regard to this, and to get back to the principles of Lenin, the principles of international socialism, based on the equality of all men and all nations.
I have to say this. It is my view that if these proposals are implemented, and if in 10 or 15 years the Germans start agitating diplomatically, and by other means, to restore to the Reich territories now being wrested from her which have been German for centuries, no Englishman, no Frenchman and no American will raise his little finger to deter them. That is my belief, and I think it is better to say these things now, than to spend the next five or ten years quarrelling and wrangling over the implementation of engagements which are alike contrary to British honour and British interests.
What has been suggested is a bad economic and a bad territorial settlement which will not be upheld by the political democracies in 10 or 15 years to come. The de-industrialisation and pastoralisation of the Reich would create a distressed area in the centre of Europe. I hold no brief for the Nazi gangsters; bring them to trial and penalise them in accordance with the law. Having done that, control rigidly the German metal, machine and chemical industries and prohibit the production in Germany of arms, however small. But, having done those things, do not deprive 747 the Germans of the means of life, because they are a virile race which has made a contribution to man's progress, and they will not rest under a peace of revenge. We now know that the last war solved no problems; instead, it created them. I am of the opinion that the 900,000 gallant young men who gave their lives for this country did so in vain. Happily, for the second time in my lifetime we have a plain son of the plain people as Foreign Minister. The record of the first one will bear investigation; I believe that the second one is destined for a great historical future.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)
It falls to my pleasant lot to congratulate the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) upon his maiden speech. He has shown in it two qualities which are always popular with the House—deference and sincerity in the expression of his opinions, coupled with a little dry humour, which is also very popular. I can assure him that if he continues in that way he will always have the ready ear of the House when he seeks to address us.
The Charter of the United Nations which we are discussing to-day is one more attempt to bring about organised peace throughout the world. The history of the last 120 years is littered with attempts of a similar kind. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), in his speech earlier to-day, called attention to the fact that after the Napoleonic Wars the first big attempt was made by what he called the method of "diplomacy by conference." He went on to show how that had failed, and I agree that it did fail, because of the Holy, or Unholy, Alliance which two Emperors and one King formed to impose their will on Europe. The machinery was there, but not the spirit. In the concert of Europe which operated in the latter part of the last century, mainly over the south east, there was another attempt to bring about an international organisation for a specific purpose. That, too, failed because the spirit was mot there. The military autocracy of Russia and Austria largely caused the concert of Europe to fail.
There was an attempt after the last war in the creation of the League of Nations, but that was wrecked, partly because two 748 great Powers, the United States and Russia, were not there. So, with this attempt we are entitled to ask: Will it fare any better if the spirit is not there to make it work? Under Article 24 of this Charter members of the General Assembly set up a Security Council to act as a watch-dog over international law and order. Again, the mechanism of the Charter is admirable, but is the spirit there? We have the legal bones, that is not enough, the bones must be clothed with spirit and flesh or the Charter will not work. I am reminded of the famous chapter in the Book of Isaiah concerning the Valley of Dry Bones. The Prophet sees dry bones lying about; he sees them come together in human form, but they remain only dry bones, and he says:Come from the four comers of the earth, ye winds, and breathe upon these bones that they may live.I feel that I want to say the same thing about the Charter that we are now discussing. We must, indeed, hope that the winds will blow a spirit upon these bones that they may live. As if to test mankind science has now made a discovery which will wreck the whole of this international organisation unless appropriate attempts are made to control it. That is the spirit which we want to see enliven these dry bones; otherwise the atomic bomb will blow them, and the Charter, sky high, and will scatter them to the four winds. There has been some rather foolish talk in the Press in recent weeks about the possibility of shutting down on scientific research and invention. That is impossible. Mankind cannot put the clock back. Like Faust, in Goethe's famous drama, mankind has raised spirits of evil. He can control those spirits, and he must control them, or they will destroy him.
It is the duty of statesmen and politicians, and, not the least, of this House to support the Government in any means that can be devised to control these new weapons. In this respect, I am a little disturbed by a passage in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) the other day, when he said:…the secrets of the atomic bomb shall so far as possible not be imparted…to any other country in the world.;"—[Official Report, 16th August, 1945; Vol. 413, c. 79.]The right hon. Gentleman is not, apparently, alone in that view. It appears to 749 be the view of the President of the United States, and I would ask the House to consider the dangerous situation that will arise if we persist in that philosophy. Is Russia likely to reconcile herself permanently to a monopoly of this kind? And I do say this, that by putting a barrier between ourselves and Russia in military secrecy and scientific research, we shall only intensify the political barrier between us which does, at last, show some signs of breaking down. The danger is that the three great Powers of the Security Council may themselves be divided into two camps which religiously guard their military secrets and scientific inventions. I ask the House to reflect: is this a healthy situation? The scientific world, I know, is deeply disturbed by the situation. The spirit of science is a spirit of free inquiry, untrammelled by secrecy, relentlessly searching after truth.
A distinguished scientist, Sir Henry Dale, the President of the Royal Society, in a letter to "The Times" pointed out that while scientists will gladly give of their best in war, working in secret for the State which is in danger, when the danger is over they do ask to be allowed to come out into the open and work in public, so that: the freemasonry of science can once more be established. That is the voice of science to-day. It wants to make civilisation secure. It has helped to defeat barbarism, and, having done so, it asks for the end of secrecy. The Prime Minister was right in a speech which he made a day or two ago, when he said, referring to the new discovery:It is quite obvious that this thing must be controlled in the interests of all the people of the world and not exploited in the interests of only one."—[Official Report, 16th May, 1945;Vol. 413, c. 104.]I realise that the task is not easy. American opinion is probably not as far advanced as ours and we must certainly do nothing to cause a breach between ourselves and the United States in this matter. It may also be true that the Russians are not very anxious to pool information. If that is the case, the role of Great Britain must be that of pioneers in bringing about co-operation between the three great Powers in controlling this terrible invention. We must not be dragged along behind the band wagon of either Russia or the United States in this mutter.
750 I suggest that there are certain points the Government ought to consider in dealing with this. There must be, firstly, in this country, a State control over research and manufacture of this infernal machine, and no private manufacture ought to be permitted. Second, all the powers of the Security Council, on whom the peace of the world will really rest or who are responsible for maintaining it, must partake of this knowledge and control. Third, the scientists of the world must be allowed to work together in the international co-operation which is always the condition under which they wish to work. Fourth, if ever there should be need to use this terrible weapon, it should only be used by sanction of the new Security Council to restrain any aggressor that may arise in the interest of world order. I hope that the Government will draw from the Debate to-night the moral support which is needed to deal with this, the gravest and most serious problem of the post-war world.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Sub-Lieutenant Austin (Stretford)
I am very grateful that I have been able to catch your eye this evening, Mr. Speaker, I hoped originally to speak on matters in connection with the constituency I have the privilege of representing. Stretford, as as many hon. Members are aware, is a large industrial area, with perhaps the largest concentration of industry in the country, and I felt it incumbent upon me originally to speak in connection with that industry. But the fact is, that I have been stirred, stimulated or goaded perhaps, by the speech made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) last Thursday, and by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) to-day, to enter the foreign arena.
I would say to hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite that I ascribe to them all the qualities of the human race, as I do to the Labour Party and to the public, but I regret that they have been so conditioned that they cannot think along the lines to which, in my opinion, their thoughts ought to be directed—along the lines of a greater sense of conscience and humanitarianism. Accordingly, we find their views are conditioned by their environment and upbringing, and I am afraid I detected, in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, a note, perhaps 751 unintentional, of anti-Soviet bias, which is rather alarming. Now the Leader of the Opposition is developing the propensity, an ambidextrous one, of lavishing praise on the Soviet Union with one hand and endeavouring to deliver a left hook—or an extreme right hook—with the other.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington to-day, in outlining what in his view is the reason for the failure of the League of Nations, made, I think, a wrong analysis, but an analysis which, in his position, he cannot possibly help. He ascribed the main reason for the failure of the League of Nations to the fact that it was not universally constituted—that certain countries had kept out. That was not the real reason for the failure of the League of Nations. I would refer the Opposition to the country, which has kept a very close watch on foreign affairs. At the recent General Election, our major programme was ostensibly concerned with domestic matters, but in the background was an overriding consideration of foreign affairs, because the public has been largely concerned with foreign affairs ever since the end of the last war. At the moment a review of foreign affairs in retrospect may not be entirely out of place.
I have with me a book written by my hon. Friend the Member for Gates head (Mr. Zilliacus) from which I shall quote a passage in regard to the anti-Soviet bias, which was one of the prime factors in the failure of the functioning of the League of Nations. This indicates, in my opinion, the keynote of the policy motivating the Foreign Office ever since the end of the last war. In December, 1917, nearly six weeks after the Russian revolution had taken place—it was a violent revolution in accordance with their own genius, just as we have achieved a constitutional social revolution recently in this country—Mr. Balfour, then Foreign Secretary, sent to the French Government a Memorandum. The first main proposals of the Memorandum was:We should represent to the Bolsheviks that we have no desire to take part in any way in the internal politics of Russia, and that any idea that we favour a counter-revolution is a profound mistake. Such a policy might be attractive to the autocratic government of Germany and Austria, but not to the Western governments or America.752 The second was:Money to reorganise the Ukraine and pay the Cossacks and to subsidise the Russians…Besides finance it is important to have agents and officers to advise and support the provincial governments and their armies. It is essential this be done as quietly as possible, so as to avoid the imputation as far—as far as we can—that we are preparing to make war on Russia.It will be recognised how difficult it is for me to apologise for being controversial, because it is impossible to distinguish between that which is controversial and that which is true.
That anti-Soviet bias was maintained in the succeeding years. In July, 1920, the late Lord Lloyd-George hinted at possible war with the Soviet Union, and in August, 1920, Lord Curzon, then Foreign Secretary, sent a note to the Soviet Union threatening war if they did not stop their advance in resistance to the invading Polish army. I shall not attempt to recapitulate to-night the series of tragic events which developed from that abysmal policy, the mainstay of which was the anti-Soviet bias. We have seen all too readily the train, the advent of Hitler, the rise of Fascism elsewhere, economic friction, and starvation at home, and meanwhile appeasement abroad and the up building of the Fascist dictatorships, which ultimately led us to war. I maintain that if we are to consider for a moment the basis on which the San Francisco Charter which we are discussing to-night is founded, it is exactly the same policy of collective security which was the foundation of the League of Nations 27 years ago. But unfortunately we are implementing or ratifying the San Francisco Charter 27 years too late. Had we been a little more broad minded in those years, had we maintained an outlook commensurate with our responsibility there would have been no war, there would have been no need for the San Francisco Charter to-day.
The failure of the League of Nations can also be ascribed to the fact that, on the one hand, America, because of her own insularity and the narrow-mindedness of her President in antagonising the opposition political party in his country, kept out of the League, and we lost there a tremendous opportunity. On the other hand, this country, because of its own prejudiced outlook, kept out a great Ally. To-day, there is a great opportunity. We have 753 within the framework of the San Francisco Charter, both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.K. and an opportunity which we must seize with both hands. I would regret that, while we have prevented Spain joining the United Nations in ratifying that Charter—Spain, which has been responsible for some of the greatest evils that the world has ever known, the country in which many good honest citizens are still languishing in Fascist jails, which gave away information to the enemy during the war and which caused untold harm to our lads in convoy through "Bomb Alley"—while Spain is kept out of the Charter, we have allowed the Argentine in. The Argentine is just as great a Fascist State as Spain or Portugal, and I regret that it was the pressure of the United States that enabled the Argentine to join the United Nations at San Francisco.
It is impossible to discuss foreign affairs without reference to the atomic bomb. The two are inseparable. I think that to-day it is a truism to say that San Francisco and Potsdam are both out of date since the revelation of the atomic bomb and the menace that it connotes. Accordingly, I was amazed in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford last Thursday, to find him exulting in the fact that America is at the summit of the world with her monopoly in the production of the atomic bomb. The right hon. Gentleman went on to outline the position, saying that it will take three or four years for any other nation to catch up on the processes of production and in the equipment required for the manufacture of the atomic bomb, and we have the curious paradox of the Leader of the Opposition going on to say that he welcomed that three years' lag because it will enable the nations to try to remould the hearts of men. The Leader of the Opposition, not so long ago, was gibing at us as "starry-eyed idealists and Utopians who want eventually to change and remould the hearts of men," and here he was talking of remoulding the hearts of men in three years.
The other point must not be lost sight of cither. That is the point that, at the moment, the United States has got a monopoly of the atomic bomb. I think I am right in. saying that it is the wish of the majority of the Labour Party and 754 of the people of this country for the atomic bomb to come within the scope of international control. Are we to go on in an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion, because that is what the present conditions mean? We have this tremendous power, from the productive point of view, vested in America and to a lesser degree in ourselves. From whom are we withholding that invention? Not from Germany, nor from Italy, nor Japan, but from the Soviet Union. I submit to the House that there is one method by which international control of the atomic bomb could be hastened, and that would be if to-morrow the Soviet Union announced that they had developed an even greater atomic bomb or a similar device of greater potentialities for devastation. Then we would see the implementation of machinery for the international control of the atomic bomb and any other devices which perhaps at this moment are on the laboratory benches all over the world. I am reminded of the viewpoint of Conservative opinion as evidenced by an article by Major General Fuller, who is not a Socialist. This is what he said:Is not war killing itself through its own imperfection? Though I hope so I doubt, it, because the things which emerge from man's brains seldom change the evil in his heart. Therefore, I think that wars will continue for many years yet.There you have the opinion of an eminent military critic but not a Socialist military critic. My contention is that had that been the comment of a Socialist military critic he would have used words to this effect:Now the world has been confronted by this tremendous menace, we must sec to it that never again can war be possible.That is why I am unhappy about the vesting of the atomic bomb in the United States of America, because it: may be vested eventually in the resources of Wall Street and not in the people of America.
There is another implication, quite distinct from the menace of atomic energy, and that is the benefit that such energy can bring to mankind. Who knows but that even now efforts are being made by certain commercial interests to capitalise and harness the production of those resources of atomic energy in the industrial field for their own purpose, in order to make a profit out of it? I say to the House that we must divorce ourselves from party shibboleths, forget whatever 755 traditions of party politics may exist, and try to realise our responsibilities to the world and to the future. It is a question of either Socialism or smash. I say to the Foreign Secretary, to whom we wish good luck in the great task which lies on his shoulders, that when he meets the Council of Foreign Ministers we hope he will develop the machinery necessary for the international control of the atomic bomb and any other devices which may be in the lockers of all the nations.
In conclusion, I would say there has been comment about the Foreign Secretary being an unorthodox type. I remember that Arthur Henderson was an unorthodox type, but he was a very successful Foreign Secretary. If the orthodox types are of the character we have known before in this House and of the calibre of Sir John Simon, of Sir Samuel Hoare and Lord Halifax—if they are orthodox and have brought about orthodox consequences, the sooner we get unorthodox consequences from the Foreign Secretary the better for this country and the world at large.
§ Ordered: "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Mr. Mathers.]
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.