Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd August]:
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."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Miss Wilkinson)
The Prime Minister has asked me to intervene in this Debate, not as Minister of Education, but as the only other member of the present Cabinet who was in the Labour delegation. The Minister of Works completed the Labour trio. But while I do not speak as Minister of Education, I feel I must just say this: The most destructive atomic bomb yet discovered is the human mind. To-day we see the trail of destruction that its misapplied energy has produced. Many speakers in this Debate so far have emphasised that we must harness this newly developed weapon, this newly discovered energy, for the purposes of peace and not for war. To do that it is not only necessary that we should produce first class scientists and technicians. We must educate a whole generation of men and women to be fit to use the immense powers that are about to be discovered. On 6th August, 1945, a new era opened for mankind—the era of atomic energy. The only thing comparable to it in our history is the discovery of steam power 150 years ago, and how small a thing that seems compared to what we are now facing. Then very belatedly, reluctantly, and in the most parsimonious spirit, the nations started the education of the people who had to use that power. Now we see the result of that parsimony, and we must learn the lesson. If we are to reap the fruits of this Charter we are discussing we have to be willing for big new advances and a much bigger conception of the 862 whole process of the education of our communities. I wish to emphasise that I am not saying this as a sales talk for my Department. I am just issuing a blunt warning,
I will reply to as many as I can of the interesting points raised in yesterday's Debate in the course of a speech which I do not wish to be too long. But it was thought that the House might first like to have a picture of the very human assembly which produced the Charter we are now discussing. After that I will deal briefly, but in more detail than he was able to do, with the Social and Economic Council, the section of the work to which the Prime Minister referred in passing yesterday. Returning to England while the Conference was still in progress, I was struck with the great difference in the attitude of the Press and of the country generally in this country as compared with America. It is true that we in Britain were very preoccupied just then without own affairs, but San Francisco meant a lot to America. There were two very strong emotional reasons for that. Very dramatically, and in very tragic circumstances, a most beloved President, whose presence was terribly missed at the Conference, had just died. He had set all his hopes for the peace of mankind on that Conference, and it was felt by us all, but especially by the Americans, that that was to be his legacy to mankind. Even those who had opposed him most bitterly when he was alive felt, perhaps because of that, that the Conference must be a success. Also, America a very neighbourly country, and they felt perhaps a little uncomfortable lest the fact that they had kept out of the League of Nations in the first World War was at any rate one of the factors that went to the making of the second.
I must say that both the Government and the people of the United States—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me—did everything they humanly could to make the Conference a success, and certainly the city of San Francisco performed wonders of hospitality. One of the occasions they arranged I think none of us who were there will ever forget. It was a night when, to a vast audience of delegates and diplomats, the great violinist Menuhin played Beethoven's Violin Concerto. I think the feeling swept through us then that somehow in that great music the torch of the 863 culture of the old world was being passed on through that young genius, to the new world that we were assembled in San Francisco to bring to birth. To the ordinary folk of San Francisco, every delegate wearing the beautiful Conference badge, seemed somehow a being set apart, specially consecrated to the work of bringing peace to mankind. One could hardly go into a shop without finding oneself the centre almost of a public meeting, and I think it was that tremendous friendliness, that belief that we had come to bring something of the message of peace to mankind, that helped us so much in the Conference itself.
The Prime Minister has paid many tributes, very well deserved tributes, to his colleagues, particularly to the right hon. Gentleman the late Foreign Secretary, but I think our present Prime Minister, who was then Deputy Prime Minister, also deserves a tribute. I remember his first Press conference. American Press conferences are fearful things. They are battles of wits between hard-boiled American Pressmen and hard-pressed American statesmen. The Deputy Prime Minister assumed that his audience were sensible men with a job todo—to get news. He gave it to them, and he said "No" when he could not, and explained why. This eminently businesslike way of dealing with the situation appeared to make a journalistic sensation. One of the most famous of American commentators said to me after that Press conference, "Your British Labour Party has got something there." At the recent General Election the British people showed that they agreed with that opinion.
One of the biggest problems of the Conference—here I know I am treading on rather delicate ground—was the under-representation of Europe. All the States on and bordering the American Continent were represented, while many European States were occupied by the enemy. The hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Digby) asked about the membership at San Francisco. The Conference by definition was "an assembly of peace loving States," and no State could be considered peace loving on the Conference formula unless it had declared war by 1st April, 1945. So neutrals who had not declared war on anybody did not come within the definition. We had 23 American countries, and that is including the 864 48 United States as one, compared with 12 European countries. In justice I must make it clear that the Americans did their best not to take advantage of that fact, but by sheer weight of numbers it was a fact, and the debates on some of the most difficult problems took place in a rather unreal atmosphere. As regards the future, the United Nations had already said at the Potsdam Conference that neutrals and even enemy States will be allowed to become members at an early date, provided that their Governments are recognised by the United Nations, and that they show that they wish to carry out the obligations of the Charter, and that we can trust them to do this.
The main attention that San Francisco has received in this country, and also in this Debate, has naturally been centred on the composition and power of the Security Council, and the machinery for the prevention of disputes and dealing with them when they have occurred. The speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) and Eton and Slough (Mr. B. Levy) and the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) all dealt with this point, but as the Foreign Secretary will himself be replying to-night, the whole of these correlated questions and the question of the veto, which is part of it, will be dealt with in extenso by him. I want to deal with what I think is something even more fundamental, and which has been raised by many Members, that is, the establishment of positive international action and collaboration to tackle the basic causes of international unrest and dislocation. I may, in passing, say here to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris), with whose very helpful maiden speech I will deal later, that His Majesty's Government have been very much alive to the points he raised about the Secretariat, and they will certainly do all they can to ensure both the efficiency and independence of that Secretariat.
One of the great weaknesses of the League of Nations was that it did not succeed in dealing with those, essential economic problems, which lie at the root of war. Had positive international planning been in existence to prevent that world economic crisis, the circumstances which enabled Hitler and his fellow dictators to rise to power might never have arisen. The peoples of Europe, it seems clear to us now, only flocked into the camps of the aggressor when they really 865 saw no hope of employment or security anywhere else, and, unless, this time, the enormous social and economic problems, which we are facing now as the legacy of the war, are tackled on an international basis, and a planned basis, and unless jobs and food and homes are provided, not by individuals but by common action, it seems to us on this side of the House—and I am sure the others will not disagree—that no security measures yet devised will prevent new demagogues arising to plunge the world into misery and into further war. That is why, in my view, the chapters of the Charter dealing with international, economic and social co-operation, dealing, in fact, with the Economic and Social Council, the Declaration concerning non-self-governing territories, which we include in the term "International Trusteeship," are really among the most important achievements of San Francisco.
I am proud to recall the part that was played by the British delegates and the Dominions delegates, who thought out these problems very carefully in the preliminary meetings we had here in London. I think it was a happy circumstance that the Committee dealing with social and economic planning was presided over by a very distinguished Indian, for, if there is a country in this world that does need to talk economics instead of some of the things that it spends its time talking about, it is India.
The United Nations stand committed by Article 55 of the Charter to joint and separate action to promote—I will quote textually—
I admit that the world has a long way to go, and many difficulties to overcome, before those brave words can become a reality, but they must be made into a reality. It is really the worst form of deception to have high-sounding phrases about a new world, leading the people of the world to believe that something on these lines is going to be done, and letting the people; see the diplomats and statesmen going on in the same old way. We 866 really have tried to see ways by which this declaration can be translated into action, and to have a machine to do the job, because words are meaningless without the machine to implement them. The Economic and Social Council has been created as one of the principal organs of the United Nations, under the authority of the General Assembly. It is no use criticising that now; it has not, of course, begun in any real sense. The main thing about that Council is its tremendous possibilities for the future if properly used. I think we ought to put our minds to thinking how it can be used, rather than criticising the instrument as it is at the moment, and before it can be tried. Obviously, the status and success of the Council's work will depend on the constructive lead that is being given by just those nations which, by virtue of their economic position, can make or mar successful international planning.
- "(a) higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic progress and development;
- (b) to the solution of international economic social and health problems and international cultural and educational co-operation; and
- (c) universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion."
In the Council, representatives of the various economic systems now functioning in the world will meet together, and it is important that we are quite realistic about this. It is no use pretending that, because people say the same words they mean the same thing to all the different countries. Surely now, we are no longer dealing with an entirely pacifist world. We are dealing with a world in which very different economic systems are flourishing side by side. It surely is the gospel of despair to say that that must necessarily lead to clashes and to war. I think people who have very different ideas on how their countries should be run, and who are running their countries according to those ideas, will just have to get together, to find out ways by which, in the interests of all, they can achieve international collaboration. We, in this country, were credited at San Francisco—and I am not quite sure whether this is regarded as a compliment or not—with standing midway between the two extremes of the economic system. If so, the greater our responsibility to find means by which they can work together.
Under the authority of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council is the organ responsible for entering into agreements with the various "specialised agencies"—that is a technical term now—which are playing a role of increasing importance in building up experience in the various forms of international co-operation. This matter was 867 raised in the Debate by the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), who was dealing with his experiences of this great problem of international planning and co-operation. The I.L.O., the Food and Agricultural Organisation, U.N.R.R.A., the proposed International Monetary Fund, are all forms of planning, which will help us on these lines. The Council will also have the task of co-ordinating their activities, and will, of course, initiate negotiations among the States if it is felt that new agencies are needed for this purpose. I am hopeful that one will come from the United Nations Conference, which, on the initiative of the Allied Ministers of Education, is to be held in London this autumn. Of course, the Allied Ministers' Conference was started by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) when he was Minister of Education in the Coalition Government about two years before San Francisco—which, I think, proves the right hon. Gentleman's foresight.
The British delegation desired to see the International Labour Office, in view of its great record and achievements, formally associated with the new organisation. There were difficulties, and certain questions were raised as to its constitution, but I understand that changes are being considered at the present time to meet the difficulties that were raised. We, in this country, and the trade unions especially, are aware that the I.L.O. has, in the past, done much to raise the standard of life and the conditions of the working people in many different countries, and, quite frankly, we understand that conditions in this country, too, depend for their preservation and improvement on the general standards of living throughout the world. As an agency for giving detailed and practical effect to many of the ideas and policies of the world organisation, the I.L.O., because of its experience, has a great contribution to make. Whether it continues to work under that name, whether some different agency with the same name is used, or whether the same agency works under another name, the things which the I.L.O. represents must be part of the new organisation.
These are not the only forms of economic planning. We are at the end of a great war, and we have seen in the course of that war many other experiments 868 in international and economic planning on the very widest scale. The military authorities of the United Nations have learned to work together in great detail. That has been even more difficult than getting politicians to work together, but they have done it, not only in planning warlike operations but also in dealing with the economic problems which the liberation of Europe, and now of Asia, are constantly bringing to their attention. Many of the functions exercised by S.H.A.E.F. on the economic side are already being sadly missed, especially in Western Europe, and U.N.R.R.A., the first body of the United Nations to attempt to handle these problems in practice, has a role very strictly limited in scope. As has been said, some of us, who are the last people in the world to be considered militarists, may yet miss the speed with which the military authorities have been able to handle some of these apparently insoluble problems. Well, they are men who now have experience; the change of clothes does not, after all, take their experience out of their minds and hearts, and we hope that the best of these men will be available for the work that is rapidly developing in Europe.
Before all this work is allowed to disappear it is clear that some other agency of a more permanent and constructive nature must be developed to co-ordinate all this vast work of rehabilitation and reconstruction, and, of course, it must be on a much more permanent basis than that which is necessary with the rapid improvisation of the military mind. The nucleus of such an agency may well be found to exist in the Emergency European Economic Council and in the various ad hoc advisory bodies that have been set up in connection with it. In other regions further a field, much spade work has already been done in international economic co-operation and planning. The Middle East Supply Council, for example, has achieved great results in planning trade and shipping, supplying technical services to agriculture and industry and dealing with problems of pest control. Those are just a handful of the many jobs they are doing, and doing with success, in areas which may cover as many as a dozen quite independent countries.
We have also had experience, jointly with the United States, in the Caribbean Commission which, is at present dealing with just those problems which, are aris- 869 ing out of the war—problems such as crop diversification, labour distribution, re-employment, monetary problems and all the rest. This could very easily develop into a fully fledged body for economic planning. Australia and New Zealand have invited the United Kingdom, America and France to co-operate in the working of the South Seas Regional Economic Commission to secure the welfare and advancement of the native peoples in the Pacific. The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) raised the importance of this development in Africa. In West Africa there has been close consultation with the French and the Belgian Governments, and that is obviously essential to the satisfactory economic development of that area. We must see that all this machinery is not dissipated, as this work is very important. It is so easy to think, when any kind of machinery is set up, when it is working, and dealing with its problems, that if only you just scrap that machine and get together half-a-dozen sensible men—as every speaker thinks, like himself—how one could cut through red tape and all the rest of it. The newspapers are going to say "What is the use of all this bureaucratic machinery?" and we have to be on our guard against that kind of propaganda. When we set up these economic planning bodies, and give them a job to do, and when they are building up their experience, so long as they are tackling the problems they should be left to tackle them, and not, as so often is the case, be pestered by other bodies of a similar nature being pushed into the same field with inevitable muddle and friction that arises in these cases.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I entirely agree that we must keep and adapt this very complex machinery of executive bodies. What I am concerned with is whether the Government are considering, with our major Allies, whether they would put at the top of this machine something like the Economic Council, which can co-ordinate, and give direction with power. It is not a matter of finding a certain number of wise men. It is a matter of getting together people who are vested with power, and who can transmit energy of consistent quality.
§ Miss Wilkinson
That is the intention of the Economic and Social Council. Let us 870 remember that that is where Governments are represented.
§ Sir A. Salter
Ultimately perhaps, but we have in this next year, in fact in these next months, work which certainly the Economic and Social Council will not be prepared to direct, and I do earnestly press upon the Government the necessity for having a body from which power and policy can emanate.
§ Miss Wilkinson
I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's view. I would point out, however, that, as he said, it is an immediate question, and what I am dealing with is the machinery that was set up as the result of the San Francisco Conference. Quite obviously we were not dealing with just the immediate planning problems that are arising out of the war. I need not say to the right hon. Gentleman that if he wishes to do a little propaganda on those lines, the Foreign Secretary will be speaking at a later hour and the opportunity will be there for him.
Speaking again about the Economic and Social Council, I want to point out also that it has a wide variety of powers and duties. It may make reports and recommendations to the General Assembly, prepare draft conventions and call international conferences. It may furnish information to the Security Council, and must give it assistance when required. With the approval of the General Assembly, it may perform services at the request of members of the United Nations, and it is to be hoped that many of them will make good use of this service. Altogether, therefore, the powers and duties of the Council as laid down in the Charter are wide and flexible, and they do provide immense opportunities for progress if—and this is the "if" in all these questions—they are properly used, and if there is passion behind them to see that they are used. After all, it does depend on the spirit and energy put into this side of the work, how far these powers are used to prevent what is really the shadow over all this and the bogy in the back of all our minds—the bogy of another terrible international depression. This country, it seems to me, is well fitted to take the lead in seeing that this machinery, which after all is but an extension of much that we are doing in this country, is used to the fullest possible extent.
871 All these fine principles enunicated by the 50 nations at San Francisco depend on whether people are prepared stenuously to fight to see them put into practice. It is fairly obvious to all of us that there are many narrow but powerful interests who may stand in the way of operating the Charter with that energy, to put it mildly, that was so often absent from the League. Had this and other countries remained faithful to their pledges in the Covenant and given a determined, constructive lead on these economic matters, a good many of the political problems that have plagued us need never have reached such tremendous and devastating proportions. Our international machinery is still lagging many centuries behind the developments of technical science. That has nothing to do with the atomic bomb. Our social machinery is really not equipped to deal with the scientific progress that we have had—never mind this new age of energy into which we are being ushered. I do not claim, and the Government do not claim, that the Charter of the United Nations is a perfect instrument, but what we do say is that it was the best that could be achieved in the circumstances of the time and—this is very important—it does contain within itself provisions for its own amendment and improvement. Our task now is to see that the thing works. Governments can do a lot in that way. After all, it is in Governments that power rests, but I feel that Governments can only use that power effectively if there is a great feeling among the people that this Charter does represent something that is theirs, that it has been planned for them, that it is not just a treaty between Governments and not just another piece of international machinery, about which a large amount of paper will now begin to circulate around the country.
I think all of us as representatives of the people, whatever may be our own personal views on problems in this country, are united in the view that now is the time constructively to prevent the next war, and that we should not want to start thinking about it when it is already looming on the horizon. We now know that papers, resolutions and conferences will not stop it. What then will stop it? The passion of the people will stop it. I think it is up to us to make this Charter a success by harnessing to it the passion of 872 the people for peace, for economic security, and above all for enabling the ordinary man and woman to build their homes and have their families, and plan ahead instead of living under this continual menace which is a man-made menace. Here we have, in this Economic Council, the possibility of laying the axe on some of the economic roots of this foul thing called war. In commending this Charter to the House, I hope I have been successful in answering some of the questions which have been raised concerning it.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
It is with considerable trepidation that I rise on this, the first occasion on which I have had the honour of addressing the House, and I pray that hon. Members will give me the same indulgence which they have given by tradition to maiden speakers before. If I may say so, the indulgence of hon. Members on this side of the House has been considerably strained by several maiden speeches to which we have listened. Indeed, several of them were frankly and openly offensive, and I hope that I shall not over-tax the indulgence of hon. Members who sit opposite. If I err on the side of speaking too plainly, it is because I think that a half-cocked policy in a matter of this importance is not only dangerous but shows a deliberate refusal to face facts. I welcome this Charter. Hon. Members throughout the House do so as well. We are debating whether or not we approve the ratification of this Charter, and of that I am sure I am correct in saying there is no doubt. It is, therefore, a somewhat anomalous Debate. Little purpose can be served by criticising each and every Clause of the Charter. It is easy to suggest amendments, but we are unable to amend it even if we wanted to at this present moment.
I am going to dwell on one aspect only of this matter. My plea is for realism. It is a plea that we should face indisputable and often unpalatable facts. I hope that the Government will give earnest attention to what I am going to say. They will not get this warning from their own benches, that is unless the ideas of hon. Members opposite have altered as much as have their numbers. My song is as old as the hills. It started with Adam and Eve, or it started, if you will, between two troops of monkeys: Are we to be idealists or realists? [Hon. Members: "Both."] I thank hon. Members. 873 "Both" is the answer. We must be both. The two are inseparable. They are one and indivisible and one is no good without the other.
Between the wars I think we got into a lazy, decadent state. Rather more than 11,500,000 people signed the questionnaire sent round by the Peace Pledge Union. They signed it in all good faith. We had the Oxford Group. France was smashed for getting into just that state which I am describing, although they got into a rather worse one. We were saved by the Channel. There were many people in this country who advocated unilateral disarmament and who pinned a childish faith to paper collective security. That is idealism being allowed to run away with realism. During this war there have been very many more than 60,000 conscientious objectors. Let me be the first to say that I have nothing but intense admiration for those conscientious objectors who offered their services with His Majesty's minesweepers or bomb disposal squads, and in the Royal Army Medical Corps. I have no sympathy with the rest of them. Their political sympathies—or the large bulk of them—are well known.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) continuously warned this country of the dangers of an untrained and unprepared nation and his was not the only voice. Among them, I am proud to say, was my father's voice. I am very proud that I should have succeeded my father as the representative of what I consider to be—and this I am afraid will be controversial—the most intelligent county of all, Sussex. I represent the heart of that county. Sussex is a county, which, in their own words, "won't be druv." The country did not listen to the warnings that they had during the inter-war period. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. Those warnings are just as important to-day. People do not alter, and merely because they change their politics and go in for Left Wing politics it would be a very great mistake to think that they do.
The ravages of this war have been very great. The losses have been very sad and hard to bear, but there are many people in this country—I know I am right here—who have not been seriously touched by the war and indeed who have profited from it quite a lot. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear"] I hear some hon. Mem- 874 bers opposite saying "Hear, hear," and the significance of it is not lost on me, but I am referring to the large number of men who remained in industry and did a very fine job, and who earned more than they have ever earned in their lives. To-day we have the moral rearmament movement. People's memories are short. Many people may have read the book "Ideas have Legs." It has been very widely read throughout the country. I think it should have been called, "Idealism has Legs." Many of the sentiments it expresses are admirable and I subscribe to them, but this is the old story all over again of allowing vague idealism to run away with one's commonsense, to dismiss the lessons of history and to refuse to face facts. The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) painted a picture of a Utopia on earth. I think the adjectives he used were "reasonable, well, prosperous and happy," and he went on to say that where those conditions did not pertain there was a breeding ground for Fascism. I do not think that the Germans were particularly unwell in 1930 or unprosperous. I do not think that they had any particular cause to be unhappy; but they were unreasonable, and that is human nature.
The economic causes of war are of the utmost importance and I subscribe most wholeheartedly to the conclusions of the Hot Springs Conference. I hope that the Government will press ahead for all they are worth in putting into effect those conclusions, and making them efficient. We must do all in human power to ensure that we find a final solution to the problem of maintaining peace in the world. Disarmament is an ideal and it is not easily achievable. Until we do achieve it—and this is the burden of my song—we in this country must be strong. We must maintain well equipped, well paid, ever-ready Armed Forces. National readiness must not again be sacrificed for the sake of an ideal. Where would our pacifists be now if we had been defeated by Germany? We in this country have no territorial ambitions whatsoever. There is no country in the world, however small and however weak, which has any cause to fear us. With the world in its present state of turmoil, upheaval and unrest, the greatest single contribution which we can make to the cause of world peace is that we should be strong. Let us go forward 875 with the highest moral purpose. Let our ideals be as lofty as possible but let us temper our moral purpose and our ideals with realism. There is an old French saying which goes like this:Oignez vilain, il vous poindra,Poignez vilain, il vous oindra.[HON. MEMBERS: "Translate."] I have been asked to translate. It is not very easy to translate that saying, but I would suggest: "Appease a villain and he will knock you down; stand up to him and he will lick your boots." Where do the Government stand in this vitally important question? I hope they will make it abundantly clear. I use the word "vitally" in its real sense.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
I venture to take part in this Debate so soon after entering this House, because this subject is one very close to my heart. While I was still in the Army at the end of the last war, I decided to try to enter the service of the League of Nations, and I succeeded in that attempt. For 19 years I was an official of the League of Nations Secretariat. I entered the service of the League because I believed then as I believe now that world government is the only alternative to world war, and I believed then and I believe now that this country has a very special part to play in the great adventure of leading mankind into the paths of peace.
Some of the founders of the Covenant looked upon the League as the first step towards world government. It is my belief that the League failed largely because we lost the urge and the vision necessary to follow up that first step. At any rate, we did lose, and the second world war was the penalty. That is the price we have paid for our second chance, perhaps our last chance as has been said here before. Presented to us as our second and last chance, the Charter of the United Nations inspires mixed feelings, in some of us at any rate. On the one hand we are profoundly grateful to have been vouchsafed a second chance, and, of course, we must ratify this Charter and make the best of it; but on the other hand, 27 years after the launching of the Covenant and after six years of the second world war, this Charter is a very poor and timid affair. The Covenant, it will be remembered, was re- 876 garded by large sections of public opinion as a deep disappointment and as a very poor and unsatisfactory proposition, but the Charter of to-day is only the Covenant writ large. There are some improvements certainly, but there is not very much added to the Covenant. There is, of course, ode enormous difference, and a very great and beneficial difference, and that is that the Charter was first ratified, and by the overwhelming majority of 89 votes to two, by that redoubtable body, the United States Senate, which an American friend of mine once described as the graveyard of all the fallen hopes of world peace.
The second important fact is that one of the three foundation members of this Charter of the United Nations is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I venture to believe that the third and equally great fact is that this Charter is being presented for approval to this House by the first Labour Government to have a majority of its own. In a world where long-range rockets and flying bombs, world-wide air travel, television and wireless communication have become commonplace, the Charter strikes one rather, when presented as a foundation for building world peace, as a proposition to enter a horse and buggy race at Brooklands. In the light of the explosion of the atomic bomb, which has bludgeoned our imagination and bruised our souls, one feels rather that on arrival at Brooklands in our horse and buggy we find that the event has been changed without notice into a jet-plane race.
That is why I welcomed the Prime Minister's statement the other day that the discovery of the atom bomb might make a revaluation of the whole situation, especially in the sphere of international relations, necessary, and the even stronger words that fell from the lips of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the opening meeting of the Preparatory Commission for the United Nations, when he said that the effect of the atom bomb on the organisation of security was such that, in the whole security sphere, a great many of our previous conceptions and a great many of the assumptions on which the San Francisco Conference had worked might have to be radically revised.
I hope that we take the San Francisco Charter in our stride, and ask ourselves 877 incidentally, "Where do we go from here?" The Charter provides for its own amendment and can be used as the starting point for supplementary treaties and agreements of every kind based on this or that provision of its many clauses. Let me deal with one or two of the points that seem to me to arise in the present situation within the main features of the Charter. I believe that we should proclaim boldly that we regard the Charter as nothing more or less than an embryo system of world government, and intend to work as far as and as fast as we can to develop it in that direction. At the end of the last war, when the Covenant was first being elaborated to the world, a great statesman, Field-Marshal Smuts, with that union of lofty idealism and practical wisdom to which the Prime Minister paid such a just tribute yesterday, produced a remarkable pamphlet, "The League of Nations: a Practical Suggestion." It was really a kind of public statement more than a pamphlet, for Field-Marshal Smuts was then a member of the Imperial War Cabinet. In that pamphlet he said that what we wanted was a League of Nations that would be real, practical and effective as a system of world government.
I suggest that nothing less than that should be the aim of British foreign policy to-day, and that all secondary problems and immediate issues should be approached in the light of that over-riding major purpose. It makes a real difference to the way in which we solve immediate issues if we approach them from the point of view of working for the realisation, as the Labour Party's policy in 1935 put it, bit by bit and step by step, of a co-operative world commonwealth, or, as we approach the Charter, of the maximum infringement of sovereignty within which we will try to make ourselves as comfortable as we can on the basis of the balance of power. So much for our major long-term policy in approaching the problems of organisation raised in the new Charter.
I come to the economic and social foundations of this new peace machinery. The Charter is a great improvement in this respect and a great advance on the Covenant. For the first time, the improvement of social and economic activities and relations has been realised, as it were, officially and as a part of the structure of peace. I want to suggest four points 878 that, I think, are worthy of attention in this connection. The first is the need for making the new specialist agencies, or, as I should prefer to call them, functional organisations, comprehensive, combining this new machinery and the bits that remain of the old machinery. For instance, the International Food and Agricultural Organisation should absorb whatever is left of the International Institute of Agriculture. The new World Health Organisation should take over what is left of the League's Health Organisation and the old pre-last war international Public Health Office in Paris. The new organisation for transport and communications should find room within its framework for the universal Postal Union, and so on.
Second, there should be a sufficient measure of central direction and impulse to this whole rather elaborate and scattered machinery. That is the point to which my right hon. Friend and former colleague from Geneva, the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), has already called attention. It is a serious problem because, owing to the degree to which States have clung to their independence of this new machinery, the danger is that, with the very multifarious economic, social and technical activities, we shall have Governments succumbing to the temptation, either of saying that they will not do a thing for fear of offending certain sections of public opinion, or of not doing a thing because they do not want to do it, and so "passing the buck" from one committee and conference to another ad infinitum. We saw the beginning of that kind of thing at Geneva, and it would be a pity if the scattered and loose nature of this new machinery should allow such a situation to arise again. Fortunately, the provisions of the Charter are so vaguely and lightly sketched that there is room for a great deal of initiative in this respect, and I hope that the Government will take the initiative in framing these new proposals on lines that will endow the Social and Economic Council with adequate powers of supervision, direction and co-ordination, and that it will base this organisation on the budget and general directives of the Assembly.
I hope, too, that the principle of the International Labour Organisation, the principle of direct functional representation which has been found so successful, will be extended to all the specialised 879 agencies. For instance, in the organisation concerned with international economic relations, I hope there will be room not only for boards of trade, but also for national and international chambers of commerce, for national and international co-operative associations and trade union organisations; and in the transport organisation I hope to see the great international shipping companies, the national and international associations concerned with coastal traffic, railways and other forms of communication, as well as the international transport workers' federations, seamen's unions, railwaymen's unions, postal workers' unions and every kind of sectional interest directly concerned with these organisations. The arguments for that are the same as the arguments for applying the principle to the International Labour Organisation.
I come to the question of international trusteeship, to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister drew attention yesterday. As this system stands in the Charter, it does not advance us very far, for in Chapter 12, Article 76, it is provided that the principle of the open door shall be applied, subject to the overriding interest of the native inhabitants. That is a very true and sound principle, but the Charter allows it to be applied by the colonial powers on their own judgment and consideration. Article 77 provides that Governments may, if they wish, voluntarily put their colonies within the international trusteeship system, but are under no obligation to do so if they do not choose. The system applies primarily only to the colonies taken from enemy Powers in the last war and the colonies that may be taken in this war. So that what the system amounts to in the Charter is a very high-sounding formula for allowing us to take the colonies of the ex-enemy States and putting them within our Imperial preference system.
The Labour Party have a policy on this subject, which I hope will be in some form, in outline or principle, the policy of His Majesty's Government. The Labour Party in 1943, at their annual conference, adopted a post-war policy on colonies in which they proposed, on the basis of reciprocity, to offer to put all non-self-governing colonies under a system of international trusteeship, and to apply to that system the principle of the open 880 door, subject to the over-riding rights of the native inhabitants, but taking the judgment of the International Trusteeship Council on whether or not any particular measure of discrimination should or should not be regarded as necessary in the interests of the native inhabitants, with the right of appeal to the court on questions of law and fact arising out of such matters. I hope that that is still our policy, for, if that is the policy of His Majesty's Government, we shall infuse honesty and vitality into provisions that at present seem somewhat hollow.
The central question of the organisation of peace is, of course, the question of the distribution and use of power. I welcome the fact that power in the Charter is to be openly vested in the permanent members of the Council, that is, the Big Five. I have no objection to the so-called veto of the Big Five. In the first 10 years of the League, the League worked effectively only because it was, in fact, run by England and France who have been Allies in the war, and still could pull together. They had to take account of the views of other States, because the votes of other States were necessary, and they were bound by the obligations of the Covenant; but they did, in fact, control the League jointly on the basis of the obligations of the Covenant, with due regard to the rights of smaller States, and although they were theoretically bound to apply sanctions to each other, such a contingency was unthinkable. As from 1934 onwards, the Labour Party advocated the revival of the collective system, laid in ruins by the appeasement policy of the self-styled realists, but the conclusion of an alliance between France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union within the League as the steel framework of peace in Europe, and by establishing the closest possible co-operation and association between this group of States and the United States as the foundation of world peace. That, I believe, was a close anticipation of the central security provision of the new Charter, and I believe if that policy had been adopted when it was first pressed by the Labour Party 10 years ago, we should never have had the second world war.
Let us assume for a moment that the primary problem of how to keep the Big Five together has been solved from the point of view of security. Obviously, if 881 the whole of security rests on the solidarity of the Big Five, the major problem of security is not the assembling of international military forces to deal with aggression so much as the political problem of how to ensure that the Big Five pull together and do not fall apart. As long as they pull together, there is no aggressor in the world that would dare to stand up to them for five minutes. They therefore do not need any of the elaborate provisions of the Charter for assembling international forces from the ends of the earth, which is a dubious expedient and politically quite superfluous. All that is unnecessary as long as the Big Five pull together.
There is a secondary problem, the genuine police force problem of maintaining law and order. If the Security Council is to function effectively, it needs some kind of what I should like to call a handy all-purposes executive arm. The Labour Party's policy contained in "The International Post-war Settlement," for a genuine international police force to be put under the command of some commander appointed by the military staff committee of the Security Council, would provide the proper body for discharging the routine functions of maintaining world law and order that will fall to the lot of the Security Council. We have had two instances recently which may serve as cases in point. The first was the recent trouble in Syria and Lebanon. It would have been very valuable if we had had the Security Council in being and an international police force at its orders to maintain law and order in those territories, without arousing the kind of suspicion and national animosity that were aroused by the way in which the incidents had to be handled under existing conditions.
Again, we have had a good deal of potential trouble and unrest between Greece and her Northern neighbours. There, too, the kind of force that I am suggesting, and which is suggested in the Labour Party's foreign policy, would be an extremely useful kind of force to carry out any routine police duties and investigations required by the situation. The Charter is an advance on the Covenant in that it rules out national intervention—the system by which a great Power would land marines or something of that sort to take care of the lives and property of its subjects in the territory of some other State which, in the view of the great 882 Power, had not maintained order and which was too weak to resent this action, and such an international force would be useful to the Security Council to fill the vacuum thereby created. An international police force would carry out such policing duties as were necessary under the orders of the Security Council.
What about the major political problem of keeping the Big Five together? I believe that it turns very largely on whether agreement can be reached between the Great Powers on the question of their armaments. If there is any kind of competition or suspicion between them as regards their armaments, it is impossible for them to work together effectively, and any kind of alliance between them will not be worth the paper it is written on. On the other hand, if we do conclude an agreement on armaments, then we have laid the foundation for a solid working agreement as partners and allies in upholding law and order in the world. The question of the atomic bomb is crucial to that issue, because so long as we withhold the secret of the atomic bomb from the Soviet Union we make ourselves directly responsible for starting a race in atomic bomb research, which will be far worse than a race in armaments; indeed, it will be the most fiendish form of a race in armaments. I realise that the Government may have difficulty in stating now their position on that issue, but I do hope that they will at least repudiate the attitude adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who declared firmly and emphatically his opposition to sharing this secret with any other State in the world. A gloss has been given to that statement, perhaps quite unjustly, in certain parts of the Press. It has been stated by some diplomatic correspondents, for instance, that now there is a serious shift in the balance of power owing to our monopoly of the secret of the atomic bomb, and that from now on an Anglo-American bloc will function more or less as a unit in international affairs and will use their improved position in the balance of power to take a much tougher line with the Soviet Union about Eastern European affairs. Whatever hesitation the Government may perhaps quite rightly have about stating their positive policy on this matter before meeting the other Foreign Secretaries in council, I hope that they will make it perfectly clear that they do not propose to play Anglo-American atomic 883 power politics against the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.
So much for the question of power, in relation to the holding together of the Big Five, which is the central issue in making this new world organisation work. I should like to touch on the essential problem in its relation to our European policy. Let me take as a starting point two statements made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during his magnificent address to the Blackpool Labour Conference last Whitsuntide. He said that the United States of America was a country which believed in private enterprise and that the Soviet Union had socialised her internal economy. Britain, he said, stood between the two with a tremendously progressive urge towards the socialised economy we need. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education just now made the same point that we stand, in many respects, half-way between the Soviet Union and the United States. It is a very important point, to which I shall return in a moment. The Blackpool statement went on:I think it was the late Lord Beaconsfield who once said Britain and France joined together are an insurance for peace, but Britain, France and Russia joined together are a security for peace.How can an Anglo-Franco-Soviet combination serve to keep together the Big Five? I believe it can do so in this way. The United States and the Soviet Union are at opposite poles in this social crisis which, at present, is convulsing the world. The real danger for peace—let us face it quite frankly and honestly—is that the Big Five may break up because their two greatest members drift apart owing to their too-different approach to the paramount social issue. But under no conceivable government on either side of the Atlantic could a breach be opened between the English-speaking nations wide enough to threaten peace. Thank God for that; we have reached the stage of civilisation in our mutual relations where that possibility is definitely ruled out. On the other hand, American reactions, I believe, could and might have pulled a Tory England out of Europe and into opposition to the Soviet Union, whereas American Liberalism and trade unionism will always be strong enough to prevent a breach between an Anglo-Franco-Soviet combination and the United 884 States. Therefore, our way to keep the Big Five together is to cleave to our Alliance with the Soviet Union through thick and thin, and let nothing come between us or cloud the good relations and feelings which exist.
For what purpose and on what basis can we and France and the Soviet Union co-operate and form a firm and enduring combination within the United Nations Security Council? I believe we can do that by dedicating ourselves to the reconstruction, the unification and pacification of Europe. We are pledged to co-operate by the Anglo-Soviet Alliance, and I venture to believe we should work towards converting the Anglo-Soviet and Franco-Soviet Alliances into a comprehensive all-in agreement embracing on one side Great Britain, France and our Western European neighbours grouped in some form of economic and political union, and on the other the Soviet Union and the Eastern European group of States associated with the Soviet Union. The immediate objective of that combination, of course, would be to apply the provisions of the peace settlement to the ex-enemy States, but the constructive long-term purpose would be the unification and reconstruction of Europe. In that enterprise we could confidently enlist the co-operation and friendship of the United States and, so far as they were relevant to the situation, of China also.
On what basis can Europe be reconstructed? The point has been rightly made that political democracy is essential to the reconstruction of Europe, but I think it is equally important to make the point that Europe can be successfully reconstructed for peace only on the basis of a sweeping advance towards Socialism. I hope that His Majesty's Government will make their position quite clear on that point, even at the risk of losing the appearance of national unity in foreign policy. The Labour Party declared in its own foreign policy statement, "The International Post-War Settlement," that Socialism was a fundamental necessity to the realisation of our international aims as well as of our domestic aims. Why did we say that? The answer is quite simple; it is not even new. It is contained in Palmerston's statement, "If you ask me what a good foreign policy is, I reply that it is a good home policy," and in Gladstone's statement, "If you 885 want to understand a country's foreign policy, you must examine its domestic conditions, for the two are inseparable."
To-day, it is less than ever possible to separate domestic policy from foreign policy, for both are concerned primarily with issues of social justice and economic organisation. The dividing line between them has become so thin as to be well-nigh invisible. In home affairs we have national unity as regards our aims. We all want more houses, full employment, social security, better health services, better education and better pensions for the aged, and the only rock on which our national unity is split is the all-important question of the means to attain those aims. We believe that certain measures of nationalisation, a limited but definite advance towards Socialism, form the essential basis for reconstruction in this country. The other side do not believe that. I venture to think that in foreign policy we have the same unity of aims and the same difference as regards the methods necessary to attain them.
While those of us who sit on opposite sides of this House can debate this question, thank Heaven, in a spirit of mutual understanding, and a desire for compromise and agreement, those who represent the same two points of view in Europe are standing on opposite sides of the barricades with arms in their hand. These things are being settled by Fascist counter-revolution and by social revolution led by the resistance movements. The overthrow of Fascism in Europe has meant the downfall of capitalism, for the reason that the defenders of the old social order in Europe, with a few honourable exceptions who were promptly liquidated or expropriated, threw in their lot with Fascism and have been dragged down in its fall. They started as appeasers, continued as collaborators, and ended as Quislings; they are now pushing up the daisies or facing firing squads. The resistance movements, on the other hand, are based on the working class, and largely on Socialist and Communist leadership. Their reconstruction programmes involve a sweeping advance toward socialism. On the issue of political democracy and civil liberty we stand with the U.S.A. in opposition to the views of the regimes in Eastern Europe. We are entitled to press our views of political democracy and civil liberty. I am glad we have abandoned 886 the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of European countries, because I think the job of reconstruction cannot be hindered by the claims of sovereignty.
The political formulae of Western democracy displaced from their social context can mean anything or nothing. I speak feelingly because I have seen three years of intervention in Russia conducted in the name of non-interference with the internal affairs of Russia, claiming to be solely concerned with political democracy and self-determination in Russia without taking sides either with the Right or Left. I have seen, at Geneva, years of appeasement of the Fascist powers, conducted in the name of non-interference. I have seen some people defend non-intervention in Spain. As for Greece, I leave hon. Members to draw their own conclusions. I do beg the Government to make it clear that when they are using this same formula of political democracy and self-determination they axe doing so in the context of the social struggle that is taking place in Europe, and that they will make it clear that in no circumstances and under no pretext whatever will British-controlled economic and military power be used to bolster up reaction and counter-revolution in Europe. Having pressed our view of political democracy and civil liberties, I hope we will also say that we share with the Soviet Union the view that economic reconstruction in Europe can operate successfully only on the basis of a substantial advance towards Socialism, because the old social order has been smashed materially and compromised morally beyond repair in Europe, and that we agree with the reconstruction programmes of the resistance movements under their Socialist and Communist leadership, wish them every success, and would be glad to co-operate with them on the lines indicated in their reconstruction programmes.
Let us say frankly that we believe Socialism is a fundamental necessity to the reconstruction of Europe and the spread of political democracy and liberty in Europe. Those were our words when we were in opposition; let us stick to this policy now that we are in power. We have acted on that belief in this country; let us act on it abroad. The necessity for Socialism does not stop at our frontiers, but expands throughout Europe. A new 887 wind is blowing throughout the world and we are part of the wind. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal said a few days ago that he hoped it would be understood that the coming into power of Labour meant something different in this House. It means something different throughout the world. For this election, if you like, is our British version of the Russian Revolution, or, better still, perhaps it bears the same relation to the Russian Revolution and to its successor, the resistance movements in Europe, as the Government and Parliament that brought in the Reform Bill of 1832 bore to the French Revolution, and just as the Whigs and Liberals of the 19th century made no bones about their sympathy and support for the middle-class revolutions that were engaged in cleaning up the remnants of feudalism and the power of the landed aristocracy on the Continent, I hope that Labour in this country, to-day as yesterday, will send its sympathy and support and give its co-operation to the resistance movements which are working for a new social order in Europe. Let the message go forth that the hopes of those in other countries who greeted the advent of a Labour Government with joy are not mistaken, that their great expectations are not to be dashed to the ground, that we are not merely a Tory "Caretaker" Government in foreign affairs, but that foreign policy from now on will be inspired by a new vision, a new spirit, a new hope, new aims and new purposes, so that those who have died in the war shall not have died in vain and that this country, the Mother of Parliaments, will once more take the lead in this difficult art of living, the art of government, and apply that leadership and new faith to that enormously difficult problem of converting the tangled and miserable world of to-day into a mankind living free and at peace under an effective system of world government.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
The very pleasant and unusual duty falls upon me this afternoon of offering, on be half of the House, our sincere congratulations to the three hon. Members who have preceded me. It is right that I should begin by congratulating the right hon. Lady who opened the Debate this afternoon on obtaining high office. She is the second lady who has attained Cabinet 888 rank. We are all sure that she will bring to bear upon the great problems of her office, Education, the vigour, determination and broad experience which we know she possesses. Her speech this afternoon was delivered with vigour and with charm.
I come to the two more recent speeches. It was indeed a pleasure to hear my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Tufton Beamish). He reminded us of the pleasant experiences we had when his father was our colleague in the House. He spoke, as one would have expected him to speak, with directness and with vigour, and we hope we may often hear him again. With regard to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), whose friendship I have had the good fortune to enjoy for many years, we all realise that in entering the House he brings with him a vast store of knowledge and a great and almost unrivalled experience in the affairs of Europe. We are grateful to him for his intervention in this Debate, and I am sure we shall look forward to his assistance in our future discussions.
The Debate has been of the most interesting character. We have heard some very excellent speeches, but if I may say so without any disparagement of the speeches from the Front Benches, I think the highest level has been reached by the speeches that have been made from the Back Benches. I found myself in accord with that most remarkable speech that we heard yesterday from the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Benn Levy). The war has ended successfully against the tyrant in Europe and the tyrant in Asia, and before it had actually ended in Asia 50 nations had met together in conference at San Francisco to see how far they could agree that war was an evil thing that should be abolished from the earth. Fifty nations agreed, and now we are presented with this Charter. It is impossible for us to discuss the Charter in detail. No amendment can be suggested. It would be almost churlish to comment upon it when 50 nations have agreed upon it, and still more so when we are delighted to know that the United States Senate has already expressed its adherence to the Charter. Russia, China and France have done so, and now to-day I am sure that we will with unanimity express our adherence. We have to realise that this Charter is from its very nature 889 a compromise. I am sure there were not only individuals but States that desired to go still further along the road that we all desire to travel, the road that leads to permanent peace; but I am almost equally sure that there were some that had to be dragged rather unwillingly to reach this point on the road. It is a remarkable and outstanding achievement that 50 nations have agreed to this.
But let us put to ourselves the question, Does this document ensure permanent peace? There can be only one answer. Early in one's study of law one found that the true definition of law was that it was a rule laid down by a law-making authority, breach of which rule would inevitably and certainly and quickly lead to punishment, or, to put it another way, a rule enforceable by sanctions. That undoubtedly is the true definition of law. To use the word "law" in connection with international law is not only a misnomer, but it has largely led to a deception and a false position. There never has been and there will not be under this Charter an international law in the same sense as a law is a law of a municipality. It has taken man centuries to realise that if he wants to enjoy to the full measure his own individuality, he must surrender part of the sovereignty of his own individuality so that it conforms with that of other people, and in that way only has been established the rule of law within countries, so that there is greater freedom for the individual. Still longer has it taken to decide upon who shall be the law-giver, the law-maker, for the individuals within a State. We know that even to-day in many States that decision has yet to be taken. It is not to be wondered at then that it is going to take probably still further time before States can realise that true freedom lies in their surrendering part of their sovereignty. If they want to enjoy for their people the full rights that they would desire, they must be prepared to defend similar rights in other peoples.
Very rightly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) yesterday referred to the efforts that were made soon after the Napoleonic Wars in trying a new method of diplomacy. It was quite unsuccessful and led nowhere, because it was based upon the old ideas. It was only applying new methods to old ideas. 890 Then began a period, less than 100 years ago, when the nations got together to try to mitigate the horrors of war. There was the Peace Treaty of Paris; but it was found that whenever it it was in the interests of any nation to disregard it, they disregarded it, because they said all was fair in war, and they were entitled in the interests of self preservation to flaunt what they had previously agreed to abide by—the sort of defence that a pirate or murderer makes. Then, within this century, came the first real effort to devise some means of avoiding war. It was a poor effort, but it was the first one. It resulted in the Hague Conference of 1904–5. That effort failed and its very failure was obvious to everyone within ten years. Then came the finest effort of all, the effort of 1918 to form the League of Nations. That again tragically failed for reasons that one may not go into. We are all agreed that, at any rate, in this Charter there is a greater opportunity than there was in the effort of 1918, not merely because of its framework but because in the signatories to this are those two mighty Powers, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
But on what is this still based? It is still based upon the individual sovereignty of every signatory to it. I am sure that there are idealists and realists who are discussing this. Their ideal, undoubtedly, is to ensure peace on earth and abolish war for ever. That was the ideal at the end of the last war; in fact, we were told that the last war was "a war to end war." That, undoubtedly, was their ideal but they were also, as has been said—to use a word that is often misused—"realists"facing up to the facts. They said, "There are some nations which are strong and large. There are five outstanding nations with vast armies, vast navies and tremendous strength in the air and there are weak ones. We will give special duties and special powers to the five great ones. We must recognise that the little ones are unable even to protect themselves." They were realists still depending upon mighty armies and the strength of their own people. Before the ink was dry upon the Charter, before the men had even started really to come home, a new factor had arisen which made all that realism practically nonsense. The greater the Power, the larger the armies, the greater the navies, especially if they begin 891 to concentrate, the more is their vulnerability, if this amazing scientific discovery is used for destruction.
There is only one way that I can see by which we can achieve the ideal we all desire and that is, to submit ourselves throughout the world to one Sovereign just as we do within the borders of a State, within the borders of these Islands, one people subject to one law, and having for that law a sense of obedience for that law, a respect and even a passion. What is the cause of war? Many causes will be suggested. They say, "It is an economic cause." One nation says, "We want more room for ourselves." That has been the German excuse. Another one is that "Owing to our economic conditions, we are suffering and we are poor and we have not enough and must go out and fight for more." But in truth, and in fact, they can all be summed up in this—war is the clash of sovereignties, each one saying that he is prepared to take part in war, for the defence and expansion of his own sovereign State. Individuals did it until they realised it was essential to submit their own individual liberties, curb their designs and become subject to a rule of law which gave them the greater freedom.
While we welcome this great Charter, let us not delude ourselves as to the position. Let us rather use it as a new starting point from which we shall set out to achieve the ideal we all desire—peace on earth. It is no use merely going in for the immense social reforms which are so greatly needed to conquer want, unemployment and disease—and what amazing discoveries there have been in the conquest of disease. Let us go out to do those things by all means, but we cannot achieve what we desire, if all the time, above our heads, is the fear of war. Surely we can achieve far more than we have achieved, now that we realise that the danger may come, not from mighty armies, but from a set of evil men situated in a small tenement—that the power may even go to them.
There is confronting this country at the present moment an opportunity such as has never been presented to it before. Mighty as it has been in the past, and glorious as it has been in the last six years, let us realise that there has emerged out 892 of this war, apart from this bomb, not five, not three mighty Powers, but just two, having control over vast areas of the earth, having resources and wealth and power which are almost illimitable—the United States of America and the United Soviet Union of Russia. Great as is our power, our peoples are scattered, our lands are scattered over the earth, and if we merely take up the part of buffer State or honest broker it is not a noble part to play. For 300 years this country, with all its faults—and there have been many—has, nevertheless, been the leader of the world in morality, freedom and toleration. It has been on the side of the weak and the poor. It is to it that the little nations look for succour and help. Let it follow that wonderful moral course, leading them all again on the greatest crusade it could ever undertake—peace on earth, war abolished and an evil thing vanished from the face of the earth. There is a wonderful opportunity presented by the country to this new Government—a country which has just emerged from the horrors of war, and desires to put an end to even the memories of the holocaust. Let the Government respond to the call the country has made to them. Let them lead the world in this great crusade for the benefit of all mankind.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric L. Gandar Dower (Caithness and Sutherland)
I would like to find some new and interesting way of announcing a first speech. I have watched the indulgence of the House and I know I can rely upon it. The Peace Conference at San Francisco has been born in a world fresh from misery. When wounds have begun to heal and memories have become dim the new organisation will meet its first test. I believe that there is one way of cementing the world together. I understand that it has already been mentioned in this Debate. I featured it in an Election address and it never failed to raise enthusiasm at meetings. It is—the teaching of one international language throughout the world. Fifty nations have signed the Pact at San Francisco. If these nations would undertake to introduce one international language as a supplement to their own a generation would grow up within ten to 15 years able to understand each other. Mistrust and war are born of misunderstanding. The teaching of an international language would assist the inequalities, if 893 any, of our educational system. The cultured man, with four or five languages at his finger-tips, would not appear to be superior.
This House is about to ratify the San Francisco Pact and at the moment it is perhaps appropriate to examine the stepping stones which have assisted to build this modem structure of international peace. Hon. Members will know that the idea of peace has always followed a major war. Subsequent to the Napoleonic wars the Concert of Europe attempted to ensure European peace. This Concert, like many an orchestra, failed because some of its members would not play in tune. It was not assisted by the Bourbons who on restoration to the throne proved to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
This idea of peace owes much to a notable man whose name I would wish this House to recall at the present moment. I refer to that scholarly President of the United States, Dr. Woodrow Wilson. It was from his brain that the League of Nations was born and it was a tragedy that on his return from his peace mission to Europe his work was rejected by his own nation. If America had been part and parcel of the League of Nations I think that when Germany marched into the Rhine, when Japan attacked Manchuria, and Italy invaded Abyssinia Great Britain would have found support and would not have hesitated. I am one who considers that, if President Wilson had invited the Leader of the Congress opposition to go with him to Versailles America would have remained in the League and the present world war might not have taken place.
I would draw attention to the well considered action of the Leader of the Opposition in this House who invited the present Prime Minister to accompany him to Potsdam. In the light of events it is difficult to determine which was Jonathan and which David, but I feel sure the example will not fail to be remembered by the Prime Minister, when the "whirligig of time" is about to bring in its revenges. I do not feel happy at the suggested European boundaries. Poland was not a warmongering country. I cannot see why she had to suffer. The guarantee given by the late Mr. Chamberlain was against all comers. I was glad to see that in the 894 last House 25 Members voted against the recognition of the proposed settlement. Why do I feel ashamed when I meet a Pole?
The atom bomb has rendered nugatory all proposals for buffer territories and natural defence lines. I would like to see all States confess the uselessness of war by going back to their pre-Hitler European boundaries. Abuse of victory power will surely be revenged.
I have little to contribute further to this discussion. This House is in a serious and intellectual mood—almost depressed. I would like to lead it for a moment into a lighter and unintellectual vein. If this had been the Debate on an Address in reply to His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech, I had a contribution to make which would have held this House for 20 minutes spell-bound—in slumber. That speech, like many others, was never delivered. I feel sure that new Members on both sides of the House have notes of speeches in their pockets, masterpieces which will never see the light of day. What would Mr. Sol Hurok not give for the American rights? I have—I blush to confess it—made several friends among the Government Party. [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] I am informed that several are considering crossing the Floor, because they believe that greater opportunity can be found on these benches for a maiden speech. I must remind those hon. Members their numbers are the penalty of success, but, in consolation, I would add that "distance lends enchantment to any view."
This House has many traditions and there is none more acceptable than that which ensures a new Member the right to speak free from interruption. How delightful it is to have the House at one's mercy. Do not deny the novice his moment! It never comes again. And now, as I have no wish to play up and down the scales of a very limited eloquence, I will conclude this speech which, on examination, will surely prove to befull of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
In following the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Southerland (Mr. Dower) I feel like him, a little lonely, although perhaps I am not so lonely on my bench as he is on his. When I reflect that the fearful 895 ordeal which hon. Members opposite and around me are about to undergo, has to be enacted something like 345 times in this present Parliament, I begin to wonder whether this long drawn-out procession of verbal offerings to the vestal fire may not prove a little tedious, and whether some hon. Members may not begin to nourish a secret longing for the somewhat crude and hasty methods by which the Sabine women were dealt with. However, as it is not customary in this House for hon. Members to seek the safety of numbers and to make their speeches in massed choirs, we must perforce go through with it one by one.
If I devote my first speech in this Assembly to international affairs, that is not because I, or much less my constituents, regard domestic affairs as being of minor importance. The constituency of Luton is now a modern manufacturing area where people are engaged in those light metal trades which are of great importance to the future prosperity of this country. There are in Luton, and in the small neighbouring town of Dunstable, men who in the past had to make a very long trek over hundreds of miles from South Wales, from Clydeside and Tyneside, in order to search for work and food. Those men are deeply anxious that they should not have to undertake the trek for work again. They are also deeply concerned about good homes, as soon as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health can produce them, and deeply concerned about health and education and other questions.
There is, however, one thought which haunts all of them at this moment. That thought is this: what is the use of creating healthy, happy homes, peopled by prosperous and comfortable families, if in 20 or 15 or 10 years' time those homes may be blown to smithereens in an instant by a missile, hurled without warning, from some distant part of the planet? That is the thought which haunts them to-day, and the thought which haunts, we know, every hon. Member of this House, too. When, just over a fortnight ago, I listened to that awe-inspiring announcement on the radio that the atom bomb had been discovered and used, my first reaction was that it meant either world government or world destruction. Maturer reflection has confirmed my first reaction, 896 and I am glad to see that the opinion is held by very many other people, often in the most surprising quarters. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in addressing the members of the United Nations Preparatory Commission, now happily meeting in London, said that world government must be our aim. He added that world government could not be imposed from the top, but must grow naturally. I entirely agree. Might I suggest humbly that world government must grow quickly; it must grow within this present generation if civilisation is to be saved from disaster.
I suggest that there are three types of process by which this growth and maturity of world government may take place. The first is by the progressive modification and adaptation of the Charter of the United Nations. It would be easy to find fault with that Charter. It is full of faults. It does not by any means set up a machinery for world government. On the contrary, it confirms the anarchy of the existence of 60 odd separate, independent and self-regarding nation States. It confirms, moreover, inequality not only de facto but also de jure between the great Powers and the smaller and medium-sized nations. It sets up a body of policemen, but those policemen, as distinct from the policemen in this and other countries, are not subject to any law-founded authority and power. And, moreover, any one of those policemen is free at any time to turn gangster apparently with impunity, for, we are told, if that happens then the whole structure of power, authority and collective security must collapse, and the nations are left with no resource but a frenzied sauve qui peut.
Yet we must ratify this Charter, because for the moment, it is all we can get—or I should say, it was all we could get at the time when it was drafted, because at that time the peoples of the world were not yet aware of the atom bomb. Therefore, to that extent, it is already out of date and out of keeping with the revolution which I believe is taking place in human minds. But we can, nevertheless, and His Majesty's Government can, participate actively in this process of adapting the terms of the Charter to the situation which now confronts us; I suggest that the Government might do two things. First, that they should prepare the way for a revision of 897 the Charter, not in the 10 years foreshadowed in Section 3 of Article 109, but in three or four years time, before the present inadequacies become too dangerous. Secondly, I hope that His Majesty's Government will—in fact I am sure they will—take the initiative in the working of this machinery, in giving the utmost possible emphasis to all aspects of the work of the United Nations Organisation which bring out the international as distinct from the purely national character of its activities.
I believe there are certain initiatives that this Government might take. One such initiative concerns the international force which is to be set up. That international force will, I believe, have to rely in the first instance, not so much upon the atomic bomb which, both for technical as well as for humanitarian reasons may not be the best instrument for this purpose, but rather on a highly mobile force which is ready to move at short notice to any part of the world in order to gain control of strategic centres, means of communication, industrial plant, and so on. I suggest that it would be a fine tribute to the gallant men of the First Airborne Division, who have played such a noble part in bringing about our victory, if they were to receive the honour of being earmarked as the first contingent of the contribution to be made, under the agreement, by this country towards the international force. These men of the First Airborne Division are at present in Norway, where they are very happy, and very welcome to their hosts. The Norwegian people have christened them, "The Red Caps." I suggest that no greater honour could be paid them than that they should become the "Red Caps" of the future world military police force.
Further, the international force will need to have strategic bases at its disposal all over the world. I believe our Government can make a contribution here; they can, under the trusteeship arrangements provided by the Charter, voluntarily place certain non-self-governing territories at the disposal of the international trusteeship council. I have in mind, for instance, Hong Kong. Where those territories contain, or consist of, important strategic areas they would then be placed under the direct control of the Security Council in accordance with Articles 82 and 83 of the Charter.
898 I am fully in agreement with what was said in the remarkable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter). He suggested a further step which we can take, as a nation, by announcing our willingness and our intention, in agreement with other countries, to see an international control commission come to this country to investigate and, where necessary, to control, research into the use of atomic energy and the materials and processes associated with its production and use. These are some of the ways in which we can contribute, and although I fully agree with that individual abrogation of our national sovereignty, I believe many hon. Members are of the opinion that absolute national sovereignty is now an out-dated factor in international affairs.
I mentioned earlier that there were three types of process by which a world government might come to maturity. I will not trespass further upon the patience of the House, except to headline those other types. The second of these is what I would call the growing together, or what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) termed, "the mixing up of nation States." I believe there is a great opportunity in the future for nation States to get more mixed together, especially in their economic functions. We have a particularly excellent opportunity in the case of those nations in the north and west of Europe, and I include our own, which, I am glad to say, have now very largely a common political outlook, and which are intending to pursue similar policies of planning for full employment and for raising standards of living. We can get together and plan very largely in common in order to achieve those objectives. In doing so, we shall be forming regional arrangements which are well in accord with the terms of the Charter.
The third process is that of the growth and pressure of public opinion, which, I believe, will become an increasingly significant factor in this field. The human mind has something of the facility for acting under the impact of outside forces as is possessed by uranium 253. It can, under certain impacts, set up a successive chain of very rapid reactions, so rapid that they may work, on occasion, in certain histori- 899 cal moments, with even explosive force. I believe that under the impact of the atomic bomb human minds are beginning to undergo these processes of rapid, and even revolutionary, development. I believe we shall find the common people of this and other countries far more ready than ever before to realise, and even demand, that we should begin to create what must come very soon, a level of power and authority higher than that of the individual nation State. That, I believe, will be increasingly demanded by the people. If we can assist in the promotion of this process by public education and information we shall have the opportunity, as we must find the opportunity if civilisation is to be saved from disaster, of bringing about within this generation the dream foreshadowed by Lord Tennyson—the establishment of "the Parliament of man."
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
A very pleasant duty now devolves upon me in that I have to offer both a Right and a Left congratulation. I am happy to say that I am in a position to do so with complete sincerity in both cases, which, I can assure the House, is not always so. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. E. Gandar Dower) stormed the fortress of Caithness, hitherto considered in this House quite impregnable, in a series of dramatic flights in a Moth aeroplane. Now he has stormed and captured the House of Commons in an equally dramatic flight of oratory, and I suggest that there are no heights to which he may not attain in future, if he sets about it. I would also like to pay a sincere tribute to the eloquence and sincerity of the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey), who has worthily maintained what I think I am right in describing as the great tradition of maiden speeches in this House. Never have I heard such a series of sparkling, brilliant and well-informed orations. We shall all be looking forward to hearing him, and the hon. Member who preceded him, on many occasions in the future. I feel that I am making something of a maiden speech myself in that I have the same hollow feeling in my stomach, the same slight apprehension, and the same sense of dismay at the standard of oratory which has already been set by the back benches. 900 In fact, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said to me the other day, "The standard of oratory is so high now, that if you do not do well in your first speech in the new Parliament the new Members will say, 'Good gracious, we heard that Boothby was a rather good speaker!' "
I am sorry that in the first speech I have to make to this Parliament of Hope, I am compelled to strike a rather melancholy, perhaps even a discordant, note. But I must record my personal conviction that in the conditions which prevail today the Charter we are discussing is not adequate to meet the situation. And it is hypocrisy for Members to try to pretend that it really does meet the situation which has arisen. Although it has become platitudinous to say so, the main reason, of course, is the atomic bomb. Sooner or later, this frightful weapon of destruction will have to be confided to an effective world authority, or humanity will perish from this earth. You cannot stop the march of science in any country, even although my right hon. Friend the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) seemed to suggest, when he spoke the other day, that he would like to do so. Many of us would like to go back to the pre-steam days, seeing the position we have got into now; but it is not possible. The only real hope is to try to see that human nature begins to make some small jog-trot of progress in order to keep some kind of pace with science instead of standing still or retrogressing, as it has done for the last 200 years. The atomic bomb, in existing circumstances, cannot remain permanently, or even for any considerable period, the exclusive property of the Governments of Great Britain and the United States. We may wish it could be so; but we know in our hearts that it cannot.
I said, a few moments ago, that it would have to be handed over to some kind of effective world authority, and I ask the House: Does this Charter establish an effective international authority? We have to face the fact that it does not. It is disquieting, although, I think, not altogether surprising, that the discovery of this bomb has coincided with a marked deterioration in international morality. We say many fine things in this House, that sound good, about the future of the world and of mankind; but the fact is that 901 the terrible events of the last five years have inevitably seared the conscience and blunted the compassion of humanity.
Let me give one example of what I mean by this, affecting this country. A few years ago we should have been shocked beyond measure if we had been told that we were fighting this war for the annexation of vast areas of Eastern Germany, from which the population would be forcibly ejected. When the Peace Conference comes to be held, we shall no doubt be told, with absolute truth, that the population of Eastern Germany is now exclusively Slav. And we shall not seek to probe too deeply into the events which have brought about this remarkable transformation. Some of us, on both sides of the House, may, in our secret hearts, be only too thankful they have been kept under a veil of impenetrable secrecy; but we must recognise that it will not be easy to reconcile these events with the aspirations which were expressed not so very long ago in the Atlantic Charter. In these circumstances, and it is best to face the facts, I do not think it is surprising that the San Francisco Charter has fallen somewhat below the level of events and expectations, even in the pre-atomic world. If we look at the Preamble written by Marshal Smuts, we find that it is as impressive, as far as it goes, as anything written by Marshal Smuts would be, but it is curiously un-specific and couched in the vaguest terms. I would ask hon. Members to compare this Preamble, written by one of the greatest democrats of our time, with another Declaration written by perhaps the greatest democrat of all time, Thomas Jefferson:I do not like the omission of a Bill of Rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the Press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the Habeas Corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact. Let me add that a Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every Government on earth, general or particular, and what no Government should refuse, or rest on inferences…I cannot give up my guidance to the magistrate, because he knows no more the way to Heaven than I do, and is less concerned to direct me right than I am to go right.I say "ditto" to Mr. Jefferson. All human experience goes to show that power—and we have now to create an instrument of unchallengable power or perish— 902 can only endure if it secures liberties under the reign of law which men will make great sacrifices to retain.
This brings me to the crux of the matter before us this afternoon. Paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the Charter lays down that the decision of the Security Council on all matters, other than procedural, shall be made by an affirmative vote of seven members, including the concurring vote of the five permanent members. So long as the great Powers reserve to themselves this right of veto, the Charter can give no guarantee of peace. I think it is much better we should face this issue squarely, and now. No world authority consisting of separate sovereign States will keep the peace, under modern and atomic conditions, unless they are prepared to submit unconditionally to its decisions, and to place their armed forces unreservedly at its disposal.
The question now posed is: "Are we to retain, or are we not to retain, the national ownership of military power?" It would involve a divestment of national sovereignty greater than the nations of the world have hitherto felt able to accept, or indeed accepted at San Francisco; but have not events imposed this necessity upon us? The original structure of the modern sovereign State was a force organisation. Evolved by combatant necessities, they were inevitably imbued with a combatant tradition. The old League of Nations expected them suddenly to sit down together, and liquidate the struggle for existence which had created them. It was like asking a lot of tigers to tea with the vicar. There was not a chance of success. First, they consumed the vicar, and then they start consuming each other. San Francisco made a considerable advance in so far as it recognised the importance both of the federal and of the functional approach to the problems that now confront us. What it failed to do was to erect a single world authority, with the power necessary to impose peace upon humanity.
Some hon. Members may remember the organisation, of which the late Lord Davies was the guiding spirit and driving force, which advocated, in season and out, the creation of an International Police Force. I was a member of it, and so was the present Leader of the Opposition. The majority of people, however, regarded the idea as impractical and 903 Utopian. What I want to impress upon the House to-night, to urge upon it, is that it is now a matter of dire practical necessity to create an effective International Police Force. Disarmament is no solution of the problem, as we discovered between the two world wars, when both we and the U.S.A. were pacifist and isolationist in outlook. In the modern world you cannot avoid war or be left alone by doing nothing and simply holding tight and hoping for the best. Our object to-day is to replace a system of international anarchy by a reign of international law. This necessitates the establishment of a satisfactory synthesis between peace and power; because law is the justified use of force, and peace without power is unobtainable. If you do not use force in the service of the law, it will be used, sooner or later, against the law. That is the great lesson of the last 50 years, and we have to take it to heart.
Will human beings be able to make the terrific sustained mental and moral effort required to modify, to the necessary extent, the concept of national sovereignty—a concept which has been establishing an increasing domination over their minds and emotions ever since the eighteenth century? Upon the answer to this question, the fate of our species, I think, very probably depends. What is the alternative? We are already beginning to see. The alternative is power politics, culminating in war. In the absence of a world authority with effective power, it is inevitable. Who is Marshal Tito that he should now be turning the heat on his neighbours in the authentic Hitlerian manner? He owes his existence to us and our Allies; and it is high time we told him, in no uncertain terms, that we fought this war in order to get the heat turned off, and that having won it, we intend to see that it is turned off. It is not good enough, in the face of what the Foreign Secretary said the other day, for hon. Members to say that Marshal Tito is not trying to turn the heat on. Anyone who has any knowledge of Eastern Europe knows that that is what he has been attempting to do.
There is another aspect of the problem to which many hon. Members have referred. The principle of regional groups of nations which have strategical, political and economic interests in common, is 904 accepted in the Charter. It is one of the best things about the Charter. Such a group came into existence on the American Continent with the Act of Chapultepec, signed in Mexico City just before the Conference at San Francisco was opened, under the auspices of the U.S.A. A similar group in Eastern Europe, under the auspices of Soviet Russia, was established during the Conference with a rapidity which was somewhat embarrassing, but the general effect of which I personally applaud. China is potentially a third regional group. What about our group? Surely we ought to have a group. The British Commonwealth and Empire has already demonstrated how small units of humanity can combine together on a basis of freedom and self-government for their mutual benefit, without any loss of status; and I believe that a regional extension of this group to include the democracies of Western Europe and their dependencies could only bring increased stability and well-being to the world.
We have a contribution of great value to make to the civilisation of the future, arising to some extent, from our genius for compromise. Such a group would be no more, but no less, than the regional organisation of a number of countries which have economic interests in common; similar, if not identical, economic objectives; and complementary trade requirements. The truth of the matter is that unless the relatively small nations of Europe, including ourselves, get together in pursuit of a common economic policy, they can scarcely hope to survive economically, and certainly cannot hope to raise their standard of living in the modern world. I think it is a tragedy that neither the late Government at San Francisco, nor the present Government, have taken the lead in forming a Western European bloc. America has formed her bloc, and Russia is forming her bloc in Eastern Europe—not a bloc against anyone, but fundamentally an economic bloc—and I believe it is essential for us to do the same in order to maintain our standard of life. I agree with the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. M. Foot) when he said we had our own particular contribution to make—a planned economy. What this country has made up its mind to do is to have a system of planned economic expansion. There may be a difference of method between the two parties, but on 905 the ultimate objective we are all agreed. This economy will differ equally from the free knock-about capitalism of the United States, and the rigid State socialism of the Soviet Union. We must all face the fact that the overthrow of Hitler will not restore the laissez-faire capitalism of the 19th century to Europe any more than the overthrow of Napoleon restored feudalism.
There are some who point to the danger of creating blocs which may subsequently become opposed to one another. I think the answer to this is threefold. First of all, I believe that regional organisation is an essential prelude to any kind of global organisation. You must build from the bottom upwards. The League of Nations was a magnificent superstructure which crashed because it had no foundations. Secondly, I believe that three or more regional organisations are infinitely safer than and preferable to two, particularly when these two would be based respectively on a socialist and a capitalist system. Thirdly, I think all regional organisations should, from the outset, be fitted into the general structure of the world organisation, and subject to the ultimate jurisdiction of the Security Council.
This brings me to my last point. I hope that His Majesty's Government will press very strongly for the establishment of a scientific section of the Economic and Social Council. I think it is very unfortunate that this has not already been set up. And I hope that in this section there shall be included not only physicists but also psychologists. They study human nature. And, in the final analysis, as "The Times" pointed out this morning, international relations are conducted, and wars waged, by human beings. Men and women, not nations, are going to be the ultimate arbiters of our human destiny. I know that in the minds of many people psychology is no more than a fantastic hotch-potch of œdipus complexes, and sex in the nursery. But there is more to it than this. As a matter of fact, there is a great deal more to it. The greatest psychologist of our age, Freud, maintained, and his theories have never been overthrown, that there are two fundamental instincts in human nature continuously at war with one another—which he called the instinct of life, and the instinct of death or destruction. Long before the outbreak of the last war, Freud pointed 906 out that human beings had now brought their powers over nature to a point at which they could very easily exterminate each other to the last man. "Hence"—the characteristic comment—"their current mood of dejection and apprehension."
I have little doubt myself that some of the violent emotional reactions caused by the discovery of the atomic bomb are due to the fear of the subconscious instinct of destruction that the game may perhaps be up—that its favourite pastime, war, may be removed from it for ever. This applies particularly to those who want to hide the discovery of the atomic bomb, and try to make rules for the conduct of war, as though it were a game of football. I doubt if war was ever the romantic and glamorous adventure depicted in some of our history books. But the objective of modern war is nothing less than the total destruction—the extermination—of the other side. I do not think there is much glory to be got out of being vapourised; and I doubt whether there is anything we can really do about it. The atomic bomb, unless it is to be checked and controlled, makes complete nonsense of life. What is the use of nationalising the Bank of England this year, if it is to be vaporised next year? There is, in fact, very little object in carrying on our daily task.
I believe, Sir, that the basic struggle of humanity remains to-day what it has always been. It is waged within each one of us, in human nature itself; and centres round the discovery of some solution between the instinctive claims of the individual and the social claims of a civilised community. So far as this struggle is concerned, there is no irreconcilable difference between psychology and religion. What the psychologists call the life instinct, the Churches call God; and what the psychologists call the death instinct, the Churches call the Devil. They are both lighting on the same side; and it may well be that our survival depends on their joint success.
The physicists cannot be greatly pleased with the result of their work to-day. It has been put at the service of the destructive instinct of mankind. In this connection, a very remarkable sentence written some time ago by Professor Crew, of Edinburgh University, lingers in my memory. I have quoted it before in this 907 House. It will bear quotation again. He wrote long before the outbreak of this war:Science has put matches into the hands of grubby, mischievous little boys, who with them have set the world alight in a blaze of misery and hatred; whereas they should have been used to light the candle that stands upon the altar of truth.I suggest to the House it is really time to call the psychologists to our aid. They have been neglected for too long by the politicians. In 1938 the present Leader of the Opposition said that the choice between blessings hitherto undreamed of, and miser unmeasured, had never been so nakedly offered to mankind. Misery was chosen.
Once again humanity stands at the cross-roads, but this time the stakes are higher. This crisis is mortal. For the first time in its history humanity faces the possibility of extinction. I therefore say, let the Government rise to the height of the occasion, let them consult with the Government of the United States of America, who share with us this awful secret, with a view to a joint approach to the Soviet Government. Let us say to Russia, "We are prepared to share this great secret with you, provided you are prepared to settle our outstanding differences amicably, provided you are prepared to join with us in making the Security Council established at San Francisco an effective world authority."[Interruption.] If the hon. Member wants to know what I mean it is this: Withdraw the right of veto. Until that is done, the Security Council will not, and cannot, be an effective world authority, wielding unchallengeable power. The production and supervision of this weapon could then be confided to the International General Staff, and to that Staff alone. Unless and until that happens, we shall have to cherish this secret and hope for peace; but we shall be living in an uneasy world. After the last war old Clemenceau wrote:The glory of our civilisation is that it enables us—occasionally—to live an almost normal life. The armistice is the interval between the fall and the rise of the curtain.That was true of Clemenceau's time. It is no longer true of our time. If the curtain rises again on another world war, it will rise on the final act of the human drama.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I rise to ask the indulgence of the House on the occasion of what is to me, if I might adapt a phrase from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Watford (Major Freeman), zero hour of D-day for a new Member. I also ask that indulgence because, after such a long Debate, I am bound to have, to a certain extent, to recapitulate a great deal of what has been said so ably before, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. B. Levy). Some of my hon. Friends and I tabled an Amendment to this Motion. It proposed to add the words:and further expresses the opinion that the security proposals contained therein have been rendered inadequate by the atomic bomb and that the Government should take steps to represent to the United Nations that—That Amendment has now been withdrawn. The reason for that Amendment was that we wished to place on record, with the greatest emphasis at our disposal, our sincere conviction that the atomic bomb which shattered Hiroshima, shattered just as effectively the security provisions laid down at Sam Francisco, and because we are firmly convinced that it is essential for Great Britain to lead the world to-day, as it has led the world in the past, and to represent to the United Nations that we must achieve a far higher degree of internationalism than was envisaged at San Francisco; and, in particular, that we should press for two things, first the internationalisation of atomic power, both in relation to research and production, and secondly a system of international inspection of every acre of national territory.
- (a) an international centre for research and production in relation to atomic power should be created at international expense and staffed by international scientists and experts;
- (b) that the international centre should take over the benefit of all existing plant and research on the subject;
- (c) that a system of international inspection of national laboratories and production plants should be instituted for the purpose of ensuring that no development of atomic power for purely national purposes takes place."
That Amendment has been withdrawn because we hope and believe that the principles embodied in it, principles which have received approbation in many speeches from the back benches, particularly in the eloquent speech of the hon. 909 Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), represent not only the opinion of a great proportion of the British public, but embody the very things for which the Labour movement has striven throughout its long dark night, until it has reached its present glorious morning. It seems to me that the greatest motive and cue for passion in the whole history of mankind is the struggle described in the tragic title "The Martyrdom of Man." For 50,000 years mankind as we know him has been upon this earth and has been engaged in warring of one kind or another. Surely something very remarkable would be required after 50,000 years in which he has been warring, and in which he has always used the most effective weapons at his disposal to cause him to say "We have changed. We will no more go to war; we will no more use these appalling weapons of destruction." That would be the most remarkable reversal of the whole basis of human nature and organisation, known in the history of mankind. It would be very remarkable, and it requires something far more profound than has been seen in the Charter of San Francisco, which is very little more than a greatly improved version of the League of Nations.
The question I suggest that His Majesty's Government have to consider is: What is the irreducible minimum of internationalism that we must achieve if mankind is not to perish? The issue is not how much can we get nations to agree to, how much can we extract by common agreement among the nations. It is: What must we get in terms of complete internationalisation now, or suffer the risk of virtual extinction? There must be no compromise whatever on that test. Once we have decided on that degree of internationalism, we must be loyal to it, and stick to it at all costs. It seems to me that this situation is not unlike the situation in which we were in 1940 and 1941, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was the leader of all humanity, and when he said that we should fight on until the curse of Hitler was lifted from the brows of man. We have to fight just as effective and strong a fight with all the powers of sacrifice that are at our disposal if we are to lift this appalling curse from the brows of man, and prevent mankind from being engulfed in a tragedy greater than that of the Dark Ages. It is a situation 910 like that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. They were told "You go into the burning fire or worship the golden idol." They said in reply:Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace….But if not, be it known to thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods.The situation is one in which we must stand for what is right and logical, and we must advance, even if it be only a ballon d'essai directed towards our American friends. Even if it be only in that capacity, we must stand forth clearly before the nations and say that the least degree of internationalism compatible with our future rests on the two principles I have mentioned. We must not let it be said, as Lord Keynes said of the settlement of Versailles, that it was the best settlement which the demands of the mob and the characters of the chief actors combined to effect.
May I recapitulate three characteristics of the new weapon which must be considered? First, it cannot be kept secret permanently; second, that atomic power may be produced out of other materials than uranium; third—terrible thought—I understand it is possible that it might, at some future date, be combined with a rocket so that a country might be destroyed anonymously, and we should have the first international detective story. There is indeed a consolation that I can extend to Members of His Majesty's Government. Assuming they fail in their colossal task, they will have the consolation that there will be no historians to record their failure.
It is part of the two proposals we have put forward that there should be international research, which would forge ahead, and enable atomic power to be harnessed for the purposes of peace, as well as for the purposes of war. We suggest international inspection of laboratories and national territory. It is impossible for anyone ever to be secure again if we do not know what may be happening anywhere in the world. This idea of an international police force is really an old idea, and an idea for which the Labour Party has stood for a long time. It is an idea which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford advocated long before I was born. May I quote the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, from speeches he made only two years ago:A world association is the aim.911 I am leaving out a passage here—We hear a good deal of an international police force, mentioned as though it meant the occupation by military forces of all dangerous or strategically significant parts of the world for all time. A police force means no such thing. It means a civil agency of inspection, supervision and control, with military forces in the background that need only be of small size though efficient for the purpose, because it has no military force to reckon with.That is what we ask the Foreign Secretary to give his favourable attention to. We ask him to put before the United Nations the need for an international police force, meaning a "civil agency of inspection, supervision and control" everywhere, for the purpose of seeing that this engine of destruction cannot be manufactured in secret. May I say one word about the great advantage of the international police force? It is that it helps to create international loyalty, and make international loyalty a real thing in the world. No mere machinery will avail. There must be a complete re-orientation of the attitude of nations, great and small, on the question of national sovereignty.
Let we now turn to the greater and more important question of removing the causes of war. It is essential for us to have a machinery which will keep the peace for a sufficient period of time, to enable the other factors to operate that will remove the causes of war. The great bonds which have been forged between the Soviet Union and the United States and ourselves are bonds which must remain firm and unshakable for all times. That great alliance forged in war is itself the ante-chamber, and the only one, through which we must pass if there is to be any hope of our going into the hall of peace. That is a path which we must tread, and, if we diverge to right or left, either in the direction of hostility, or veiled hostility to America, or of veiled hostility towards Soviet Russia, all will be dark, and we will never enter that hall.
The position of Britain to-day, it is quite true, is that of a country which has come through a terrible war and is numerically small, but Britain is still to-day the capital of the only world Power. The British Commonwealth of Nations embraces a quarter of the peoples and territories of the world. So long as we can keep machinery which will draw the Dominions together with us, so long 912 as we keep that alive, then, indeed, with our brothers at our side, we are in a position to speak in the councils of the world, as we have done, and our voice will be held with effects and authority. No one can realise that more than the present Foreign Secretary who, in a speech which I do not desire to make controversial—and I believe the right hon. Gentleman will prove to be the greatest Foreign Secretary in the history of Britain—showed that he knows perfectly well that, difficult as it is when you have one man of one nationality and another of another nationality in a council chamber, when one is a lawyer and the other is a lawyer, or the one is a scientist and the other also a scientist, somehow they talk the same international language. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that is the bridge towards creating this international loyalty, which we must achieve or else the future will be dark. That cause of ad hoc internationalism is in the safest possible hands, because we have such immense confidence in the policy already outlined by the Foreign Secretary, which was acclaimed when it was previously announced in a speech at Blackpool.
May I conclude with a reference to the wider and broader issues that confront men everywhere to-day? It has long been clear that man's intellectual and scientific attainments have far out-distanced his achievements in the moral sphere. It has long been clear that our moral height is nothing, compared with the immense ingenuity and imagination which our scientists have shown. Is it too much to hope—perhaps this is the wrong place to express it, as it is undoubtedly the wrong place to say that nationalism is the world's main disease, since Britain is the last country to say it—that we can make our voice heard throughout the length and breadth of the world, so that every man everywhere may appreciate that the brotherhood of man is as much a scientific and practical fact, as it is a religious fact, so that people may be able to follow the exhortation of the hymn:O, brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother.Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;To worship rightly is to love each other, Each smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Major Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
In rising to make my first speech, I ask the same indulgence which the House has accorded to all new hon. Members. After the most moving and most eloquent address which has just been made, I wish rather to strike a more humble and mundane note. I feel that we should confine ourselves rather to-day to discussing more particularly the Motion before the House. I have a feeling that the atomic bomb has possibly so shaken people that they are all, at the moment, wishing to run before they can walk. It is obvious now that we must strive towards a very great deal more co-operation, planning and good neighbourliness than we have ever had before, but what we do not wish to have recorded is that we are driven to that at this moment by fear alone. On this Motion, I put it to the House, we should go into the Lobbies realising that these are the first steps and the earnest of the good will of the nation as a whole, to compensate for the mistakes of the past and work together in the future for the greatest good of mankind as a whole.
It is easy to see what were the mistakes that led us into difficulties at the end of the last war. They are obvious and have been pointed out many times during this Debate. There was the failure that arose from the fact that not all nations entered into the League. There was the failure that arose from the equality of power and the subsequent delay involved, but the greatest failure was the failure of spirit. I feel that we must not allow the impression to be created that we are being cascaded by the atomic bomb into the "Aye" Lobby on this matter and that we have lost entirely the necessity for the spirit to which the last speaker dramatically drew attention. What is the spirit that we must follow in the early stage? In the last war the approach was wrong, and each person sought peace for himself. Furthermore, all the victorious nations and peoples felt that they had endured great sacrifices and that they were entitled to expect rewards for those sacrifices. To-day, we do not believe that. To-day we are prepared, or I believe should be prepared, to pass the sponge over the slate and start out anew in the new hope that this Charter gives. We recognise that peace can only be obtained by the deliberate and continuous efforts 914 of all nations. Peace among the nations must be an affair of brotherhood, as the last speaker said.
I support the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris) in the contention that the United Nations should be thrown open to all nations just as soon as they show that they are able and willing to carry out their obligations and show any sign at all that they love peace, for all nations must feel that they have a stake now in peace. There is one thing I would like to say in passing, and that is that too little, I feel, has been said so far in this Debate regarding the place of France and the contribution that she has to offer in these things. We ourselves came out of this struggle very much the poorer. France has been denuded of almost all that she possessed and yet her great spirit remains, and I believe it will be of inestimable value in the councils of the world.
Something has been said about the means of getting people together, including the possibility, mentioned by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Gandar Dower) of a universal language. I do not think that all people in this country are sufficiently conscious of the necessity for working together. With that object I consider that Field-Marshal Smuts has given us a key to what may be done in the first stage. Many of us, when we were young, may have learned the Shorter Catechism; the older ones may have learned the Longer Catechism. But if every school child at every school can be urged to learn by heart and understand the Preamble to the United Nations Charter there will already be the beginnings of that world consciousness which we seek so desperately in the world to-day.
The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) referred to the possibilities that lie in the regional arrangements. I think here again we may have a tendency to act and move too swiftly. Regional arrangements worked quite well in many cases before the war. There wore, for example, those in the Balkans which were started on the initiative of Turkey, and included Turkey, Yugoslavia, Greece and Rumania. Unfortunately, Bulgaria would not come in because of territorial considerations. Again there was the non-aggression pact concluded by Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. I feel it is rather on that basis that we should start the work. Above all we must avoid in the early 915 stages those jealousies which used to exist between great Powers. If we form up in vast blocs each dominated by a great Power, then inevitably there will arise jealousies, whereas if we encourage the small Powers to form unions of their own and if we encourage them to work out with the assistance of the Economic and Social Council, their own methods of improvement and to lay any differences that may arise, not before some tutelary Power but before the United Nations, we shall already be a long way on the path towards world co-operation and to the establishment of a world State.
I would like to ask one or two questions of the right hon. Gentleman who will, no doubt, reply to this Debate. They are questions which are far below the very high level of policy which this Debate has been attaining lately, and which has been looking far into the future. They deal directly with the text of the Charter which I have studied carefully. The hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) has already raised the question of the basis of representation of this country. Is it to be an all-party representation? Is it to be ministerial or official? Is it to be permanent or is it to be for a given period? If it is to be official, is it to be recruited from the Civil Service or from men who have given distinguished public service in other walks of life? All these questions are of vast importance for the immediate work of the organisation. The second question I would like to put is this: In the provisions for the establishment of membership of the Economic and Social Council there is no provision for permanent membership of the great Powers. It is true there is no bar to re-election, and it may be assumed perhaps that the great Powers will in fact automatically be members of the Economic and Social Council, but I would ask for an assurance on that point from the right hon. Gentleman.
Article 63 provides for the method of association of international specialised agencies with the Economic and Social Council, such as the Food and Agricultural Council, the I.L.O., etc. What is to be the method of the association for non-governmental organisations? This country can play a very great part, not only in general leadership of, shall I say, altruistic service in the organisation, but 916 also in detailed leadership and guidance of the smaller Powers so that their standard of living may be vastly advanced.
What is to be the basis of this Association? Under the terms of the Charter, limitations are put on such association by Governments at their will. That is to say, it is only with the will and consent of the Governments concerned that the Council can approach the non-governmental organisations. I would like to know, first of all, how it is proposed that the international organisation itself should deal with non-governmental organisations, if at all, such as, for example, the Chamber of Shipping, the London Chamber of Commerce, and so forth; and secondly, with whom they are going to deal. For instance, they will deal with employers' unions or employees' unions; and will there be some definite hard and fast scheme laid down?
I observe that there is no reference, or virtually none, to the manner in which financial contributions to the organisation's activities are to be made. In the present state of the finances of this country this is extremely important. The possibilities of development are practically unlimited, and if we are to play our part, not only in the development of our own Empire but also in the development of the world as a whole, there will be a very considerable strain on our resources. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman how he would propose to deal with this question.
Something has already been said on the necessity for making the whole of the world "co-operation conscious." I feel that for a very long time there has been a great dearth of encouragement in this direction. Had the League of Nations Union been able to get the full support and backing of the Government during the inter-war years, had it been brought home by constant publicity to every member of this great nation that it was of vital interest to the whole world that everyone should contribute to international co-operation, I do not believe that those dark days of the 1930's, when little by little we saw the country slipping towards war, would ever have occurred. What I feel we must inculcate into all our people is that we must always be prepared to deal with other countries with firmness, frankness and fairness, and that there must foe no appeasement.
917 Next, if we are to co-operate effectively, we must get down to a thorough understanding in the financial sphere. At the present lime there is very little mention of this in the Charter, but there is one point which is salient and that is that every single nation has one vote on all the important subjects. I feel that in any organisation which is set up for the financial control, whether it is directly under the organisation of the United Nations or not, that organisation must be based on the principle of "One nation one vote."
The great Powers have great responsibilities thrust upon them, and those responsibilities can only be faced, first, if each and all are prepared to make sacrifices in the interests of peace; secondly, if each and all of them are prepared to abandon the ancient jealousies; thirdly, if there is a complete abandonment of the old suspicions. When the League of Nations was formed it incorporated a large number of old suspicions which were not eradicated. Some suspicions, unfortunately, proved to be justified. Others—I speak particularly of the suspicion of Soviet Russia—have most fortunately proved to be unfounded. Lastly, the nations must seek to promote the happiness not only of themselves and of their own people but of all mankind, and therein find their own happiness.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)
There is no task, however justifiable and however pleasant, that does not stale by constant repetition, and I feel that the duty which has fallen upon us Members of previous Parliaments of congratulating, in the course of this Debate, those new Members who have come into the House, has perhaps staled a little by constant repetition. I think that is a great pity because we have had, as we did earlier in the Debate, a most remarkable flow of eloquent, thoughtful and felicitous speeches. It falls on me in particular to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Dumfries (Major Macpherson) who has made a very interesting and sincere contribution to our Debate, and whose reference to France gladdened my heart and exempted me from pursuing a topic upon which I had intended to touch.
Before that my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) made a speech with eloquence and passion 918 which, I am sure, impressed all hon. Members. I would like to develop a little, in the comparatively short time that I shall detain the House, the theme which was elaborated very eloquently in the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Durbin) yesterday, and which has been further developed by my hon. Friend the Member far King's Norton this afternoon and by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby). I find myself very much in accord with what the hon. Member for East Aberdeen said. I think the Charter is not only inadequate but I believe we should have done well to suspend ratification of the Charter until we had had further time to improve it and develop it. I think we might commit ourselves to a situation in which we find further development and improvement becomes increasingly difficult as the years go on, with the necessity for making the existing Charter operative.
The details of the Charter have been so widely and profoundly discussed and considered by hon. Members on both sides of the House that it is not my purpose to touch on them very much now. I want to ask the House to consider a very simple test, which we can apply, and which I think we must apply, to the Charter both now and as the years go on. That test is, How far is our foreign policy and the foreign policy of the other member nations transformed as a result of the active and operative presence of the Charter?
May I remind the House of the basis of our foreign policy in the past? For centuries of time our foreign policy has been based on certain assumptions. The form in which those assumptions have been expressed has changed from generation to generation and from Government to Government but at the back of it those assumptions have always persisted. The most salient of those assumptions has been: There should be no one great Power dominant on the Continent of Europe. The Channel ports should not be allowed to fall into the hands of an unfriendly Power and should, so far as possible, be distributed among more than one Power. The sea lanes should be kept free and open, either by the operation of His Majesty's Navy or by the consensus of all nations to the freedom of the seas, for the traffic of British merchant ships and British trade. To those, I would add 919 one further basic principle which is of rather more recent date and which I think is as true to-day as it has been true for the last 30 or 40 years. It is that the one foreign nation with which war for us is unthinkable is the United States of America. It is unthinkable, not because of the racial affinities, or the linguistic affinities, of which men often speak and which indeed are important, but because that is the one thing which could vaporise in a moment of time—if I may use an expression which I foresee is coming into common use—thestrategical and political bonds which unite the British Commonwealth as a whole. That one factor makes war between that Commonealth and the United States impossible and unthinkable. On those assumptions and on the policy which proceeds from them, we have acted for a very great period of time.
Those assumptions and that policy were undoubtedly grafted into a system of power politics. That is a phrase which is rather unpopular sometimes with some hon. Members on the other side of the House, but it is a phrase which not inaptly describes the situation with which we have had to deal. The question which I think we must pose to the Governments who support the Charter is whether that system is going to be maintained, in spite of the Charter, and whether our policy is going to continue to conform to that system; or whether some other system with some other policy is going to arise. On the answer to that question very much depends. There is no doubt what the answer is at the present moment. It was given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in his speech last Monday. In the course of that speech he referred to the extreme importance of the Middle East to us at the present time. My right hon. Friend—if I may so describe him—the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) went out of his way, I thought, to endorse that statement and I think they were both profoundly right.
Let us make no mistake as to what this statement implies. Let us make no mistake about the Middle East and why it is of such vital importance to us. There are other parts of the world with which we have closer economic ties and closer racial and, in some senses, cultural links. The significance of the Middle East to us is a political and strategical significance; this is of the first importance in a 920 world which is based on power politics. My right hon. Friend went on to speak of Hong Kong. I see this morning that his observation has caused some excitement in the American Press. That excitement indicates, I think, how delicate, how sensitive and how important this matter is. On the basis of our own policy I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend is absolutely right to stress the significance of Hong Kong, but on the basis of common-sense and reason there is no more reason why, in a world that is really committed to the abolition of war and perpetual peace, Hong Kong should be in the possession of the British Empire than the State of Minnesota. We shall continue to hold it and I, for my part, shall support my right hon. Friend in any resolution he may pursue in this matter. We shall continue to hold it for political and strategical reasons of the first significance in the survival of the British Commonwealth.
An hon. Member opposite seems to feel that there is a catch in this. It is clear that a policy of that nature is utterly irreconcilable with the kind of policy that we must pursue if war is to be eliminated as an instrument of policy among the nations and the world is to be federated in one union.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
Does not the hon. Member agree that collective security and a strong British Empire go hand in hand and that one is impossible without the other?
§ Mr. Martin
It entirely depends upon what my hon. Friend means by a strong British Empire. The British Empire may be extremely strong morally and economically, and federally, but not necessarily strong in a military sense, if, in fact, we are going to abolish the military weapon as an active policy among nations.
§ Mr. Nicholson
Collective security surely implies military strength on the part of those people contributing to collective security?
§ Mr. Martin
There is a great difference. Perhaps if the hon. Member will allow me I will develop this matter further. I would go back a little to what I was 921 saying just now. The problem is quite simple. If I desire to go to Brighton, Mr. Speaker, it matters immensely if, setting out from this House, I turn right and proceed over Westminster Bridge, or on the other hand, turn North and West across the Park, in which case every step that I go towards Birmingham makes more difficult the fulfilment of my intention to go to Brighton. So every step that we take on the road of a policy that was constructed and designed—and rightly constructed and designed—to defend the interests of this nation and Commonwealth in a world of power politics carries us further and deeper still into that world of power politics and further away from that world which we are to-day in this House, at any rate on this side of the House, so anxious to see constructed.
Where does this take us if we proceed on this policy of power politics? Perhaps I shall now be able to satisfy the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. G. Nicholson) opposite If we are to proceed further in this matter, where does it lead us? We shall have, now that the atomic bomb is upon us, to reinforce ultimately our overseas bases scattered throughout the world. We shall have to develop airfields, and we shall have to collect vast stores of fuel. We shall have to preserve a Navy fit to keep the sea routes open to those bases and have dockyards and arsenals established; I say nothing of the Army now.
Before very long all that will imply a development of Civil Defence in this country such as we have not seen yet and such as we never dreamed of between the two wars. We shall have to prepare an alternative troglodyte existence for the people of this country in order that a substantial remnant of the population may be preserved and continue to live and have their being, if another war should unhappily burst upon us. Those are the national implications and consequences step by step of pursuing the kind of policy indicated by my right hon. Friend's observations about the Middle East and about Hong Kong. As I say, I endorse that policy. I believe it to be a true and valid policy, a necessary policy in the existing state of affairs; but it is hopelessly irreconcilable with the matter which we are considering to-day.
922 My hon. Friend opposite said something about collective security. Much turns upon the use that is going to foe made internationally of national armaments. It is quite clear that if your national armaments are only to be used internationally and are only a contribution in an international force; then the control of those armaments must pass necessarily from the Governments of the nations concerned into the hands of the international authority, and whether the contribution is large or small is irrelevant. Whether that contribution is the only military force which a nation is allowed to maintain will also be a. matter for that authority if we and to have an effective organisation, and not to make small contributions to an international force and, side by side with it, preserve large airfields, armies and navies in the hands of the Governments concerned. It is clear that we cannot embark on this matter without a much stronger organisation for peace than this Charter promises to give us.
I want to endorse what was said yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton and the hon. Member for East Aberdeen about the veto. What seems to me of intense importance is that whereas the veto may be a mistake and regrettable in a lightly armed world, in a world that has definitely turned away from war, it is a danger of the first order in a highly armed world. I think it is dear that the Charter does not offer us sufficient facilities for the operation of peaceful change. I agree with the hon. Member for East Aberdeen that the position in which Europe finds itself is one of the greatest anxiety. The Western Neisse cannot be regarded as a satisfactory Western boundary for the German nation for an illimitable period. Changes in Europe as it is now organised seem to be inevitable, and unless the Charter can provide better facilities for peaceful change than it does at present, its hopes of succeeding are small.
I am confident that with the main principle of what I have been urging, His Majesty's Government are absolutely in accord. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is most anxious to see that these changes which have been made necessary by the advance of time and science are carried out. In the last 15 years, we have had three great Foreign Secretaries. We have had Arthur Henderson, whose tragedy 923 was that he found the greatest opportunity of his life in his hands, but neither the power within nor without the State to bring it to fruition. We have had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, who came just too late upon the scene to do the things which I know he desired to do. Now we have my right hon. Friend the present Foreign Secretary, who may be the man—I think, perhaps, he is the man—who will by his exertions and leadership of this country save the world. It is going to be a terribly difficult task. I cast no blame at either the present Government or the previous Government or the Government before that. I am certain that they all desired a successful issue to this matter. But the fact remains that the atomic bomb has revolutionised the whole situation and the weaknesses of the Charter must sow the greatest anxieties in our minds.
Great responsibility lies on the United States. It is not always desirable to say much about the policy of foreign Powers in this House, but I would like to say that isolationism is not only dead, but must remain dead in the minds of the American people, or the world is lost. All that idea about the independent sovereignty of separate nations must go down in the face of the stern realities which face us to-day. Unless the United States are willing to make a contribution, not only greater than they have made in the past, but greater than, I am sorry to say, there is any sign of their making at this moment, I fear that we are indeed heading towards catastrophe. There is something also to ask from Soviet Russia. It is impossible in this world that one great nation—and the greater the nation the less possible it is—to remain sacrosanct behind a Chinese wall of secrecy. Just as it will be impossible for us to preserve the Colonial Empire in the sense in which we have preserved it in the past, just as it will be impossible for us to reserve overseas bases, dockyards and arsenals in various parts of the world for the defence of the British Commonwealth, so it will be impossible to have zones of interest, Protectorates and semi-independent small nations subject to any great Power, whatever that Power may be.
My right hon. Friend has to make clear that we are prepared in this country to 924 make the sacrifices that will be necessary—and they will, from the point of view of our own philosophy, be heavy and grievous sacrifices—inthe common interest. We must also make it clear to those who are going to be our collaborators in these tasks that they have their contributions to make. I hope that my right hon. Friend will succeed. I know that there are many Members who think that time can be given for these matters to develop. I am convinced, however, that time is against us. Time, said Mr. Lloyd George, is not for us, it is neutral. Time is now against us. After the last war we had a 20 years' interval of peace, but long before that 20 years was over vital decisions were being taken which made the end of that peace a catastrophic certainty. I doubt whether we shall have 20 years' interval this time. Before the lifetime of this Government is out, vital decisions will have to be taken which will determine whether we shall follow the policy of power politics or follow the policy of international collaboration. As Shelley said:The world's great age begins anew,The golden years return,The earth doth like a snake renewHer winter weeds outworn.Last Tuesday the curtain went up on what was not so much the last act as the epilogue. Unless we see to it that that prophecy is triumphantly fulfilled in the next 10 or 20 years, it will vanish in final denigration and the universal agony and madness of mankind.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Wheatley (Dorset, Eastern)
As a new Member, I rise with great trepidation and I claim the indulgence of the House. I ask for a double portion of indulgence in view of the eloquent speeches from new Members that we have heard to-day. I have listened with earnest attention to the various speeches, and I have only one point to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. We have heard many times that this is the world's last chance. We have also been told that we must have a proper spirit behind the Charter. I would go further and say that we must also have a burning faith in the success of the Charter. It is no good having a good Charter unless it is going to be successful. Unless we have this faith the whole castle will come toppling about our ears. Surely we should have an overpowering faith in 925 this Charter, otherwise we shall lose before we have started. It has been well said that a soldier who goes into battle without faith in success is beaten before he starts. Surely this nation above all others should have faith in the Charter, and I should like to see the Government and this House giving a lead to the whole of England in an unshakable faith in its success.
A great deal has been said about the atomic bomb and that it has made a great deal of the Charter obsolete. But is that really so? If there had been no atomic bomb, might it not also have been said of the powerful United States Navy with its numerous aircraft carriers? It does not seem to me to matter much how the world is destroyed, but it does matter very much that this Charter should be believed in. I personally look upon it as an act of faith, showing the determination of the nations of the world to live in unity and peace, and their determination to control anyone who affronts that universal desire. I, as a new Member of this House, hope the House will approve the Motion without any shadow of doubt, and that we shall thereby show the world, giving a lead to those nations who have not yet ratified the Charter, that this House, with the whole of England behind it, has a burning faith in the Charter and its future success.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Mulvey (Fermanagh and Tyrone)
As a new Member I claim the indulgence of the House and express the hope that the House will bear with my shortcomings. I have been very much interested in the contributions that have been made to this Debate; they have been very elevating and instructive, and I, no doubt, can never attain such oratorical effects.
The aim of this Charter is one which has been highly commended; it insists on equal rights for the men and women of all nations, large and small. It advocates the promotion and creation of conditions under which people can live together in peace and good will. That makes a special appeal to me, and will undoubtedly make a special appeal to the Irish people. The first question that I must ask myself, and I am sure all fair-minded hon. Members on both sides of the House will ask themselves, is, How is this Charter to be applied to Ireland? What is the position of small nations whose circumstances may be in some respect similar to those of 926 Ireland? The thought arose in my mind that in any scheme of world security a preliminary step should be a chapter for small nations, which would give those nations the right to freedom and independence in accordance with the wishes of their people. If that were created, the way would undoubtedly be prepared for a world organisation that would be lasting and binding. It has evidently not been done up to the present.
I ask myself again how, in existing circumstances, is the Charter of the United Nations to help in the promotion of better relations between the Irish and British peoples. The Irish people desire to live on friendly terms with Britain; they seek no territorial aggrandisement. They are anxious to assist in every way possible to promote peace and good will between the peoples of the two nations. But before that peace can be established, justice must be done to Ireland. Ireland has been unjustly treated. It is unnecessary for me to go into the history of the disputes between Great Britain and Ireland; it is a dispute of centuries' standing, but the worst act that could be perpetrated was the partition of our country 25 years ago. No party within the country ever asked for the partition of Ireland; it was brought about and instituted by the British Government, and it will be the duty of the British Government, if it is desirous of world peace, to remedy the situation in Ireland, and undo the injustice that has been done to my nation. Six of our counties were partitioned 25 years ago, contrary to all the principles of democracy and justice, and during that period the British Government have encouraged and maintained a reactionary Tory minority within those six counties.
Let me now give a brief outline of the situation within those six counties to show the injustice that has been done to the Irish people as a whole. The constituency of Fermanagh and Tyrone, which my colleague and myself represent, comprises more than one-third of the area of the whole six counties, and of the people of the two counties practically 60 per cent. are opposed to the partition of our country. If we take the counties of Londonderry, Armagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh, there is an appreciable majority for national unity and against the division of the nation. There are only two counties remaining to be accounted for, Antrim 927 and Down, and it is well to point out that there are large nationalist areas in those too. That is the situation. There are other areas apart from those constituencies within Down and Antrim with thousands of people who are against this division of our country.
Taking Ireland as a whole, with a population of approximately 4,250,000, it is a fact that only about 800,000 in the North-East within the six partitioned counties can be classed as supporters of partition. The question of partition is responsible for the ill-will that exists between Ireland and Britain. Partition, while it remains, will be an obstacle to the friendship that should exist between the two countries, and as long as it exists, no matter what Charter may be devised for world security, relations must naturally be strained between Ireland and Britain. I do not feel disposed to go at length into the disabilities under which the minority in the six counties suffers to-day as a result of this division of the country, but I would say that a system has been adopted there which, as far as I know, is unknown elsewhere, a system of rigging or gerrymandering electoral areas so that a minority within a county can control administrative affairs in that county and remain in power. I ask fair-minded Englishmen, if any attempt were made by a party in England or in any part of Britain to re-arrange electoral divisions with the object of holding that party in power, what would be the reaction of the British people? That is a question entirely for them to answer. It is difficult for the British Government in the administration of the six counties to give any special consideration to the six counties in view of the fact that Ireland is a unit in itself. The other night there was a complaint about the manner in which the six Northern Irish counties are treated in the matter of permits. They are treated in that manner just as the other half of the country, and I think that shows that the country is one unit.
The question of Ireland must come largely to the forefront. Now that the reactionary forces which have fostered and promoted partition are no longer in power, and the people of Britain have realised the futility of those forces in the matter of politics and social affairs, and have elected a Government which professes to adopt enlightened and progres- 928 sive measures, I hope that Government will at least see that this question is examined. If there is to be peace in the country or peace in the world, situations such as that in Ireland cannot be overlooked. Therefore, we hope in Ireland that, with this reorganised plan for world security, the conditions that have obtained for so long in Ireland will be shortly brought to an end and that Ireland, desirous as she is of doing so, will play her part in this great work of world organisation.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Colonel Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
It is my pleasant duty to congratulate two hon. Members upon their maiden speeches. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Dorset (Lieut.-Colonel Wheatley) made an admirable speech of which not the least quality was one which hon. Members get to admire more and more as the days go on, and that was brevity. The hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Mulvey) also made an eloquent speech, but I must say that the thing about his speech which struck me more than anything else was the skill with which he managed to introduce a subject which seemed far away from that which we are discussing. I do not know whether that was due to the skill of his performance or to the occasional benevolence with which the Chair regards maiden speeches. In any case, we must assume for this evening that San Francisco is in Northern Ireland.
We have listened to two days of extremely interesting speeches. The central theme has been the San Francisco Charter, but there have been a number of variations upon that theme. I heard yesterday an interesting discussion on Basic English and to-day an equally interesting dissection of the Freudian interpretation of dreams; but if the subjects have sometimes been varied, the standard has been uniformly maintained. From all sides of the House we have heard speeches, many, if not most, of them by new Members, which have worthily upheld the standard of any maiden speeches I have heard in the past. It is with real sincerity that I and those behind me say that we regret, having listened to so many brilliant speeches by hon. Members opposite, that in view of their great majority and the pressure of their Whips in the matter of Government Business, we 929 shall in future hear them at such long intervals.
Although I was interested in the speeches, I think I was even more interested in the speakers. Both in the two days' Debate upon the Charter and in the previous Debates we had upon foreign policy, it has been very noticeable that among those most anxious to participate were younger men who either still are in or only recently left the Services. That is of particular interest to me when I remember my own experiences and the experiences of many of my age after the last war. We came out of the last war not knowing what the future held for us or for our country, what it held of poverty, disease, disasters of one kind or another, but certain, many of us, of one thing only, that it did not hold any more war. To us the four years of the last war had been such an experience, the danger, discomfort and suffering had been so abhorrent, that we could not imagine that the feelings we had were not shared by people all over the world, and that, victor and vanquished alike, the men who had taken part were determined that under no pretext would they do so again. The consequence, I am afraid, was that many of us who were interested in politics turned for our special subjects rather than to foreign policy to some of the great problems facing us at home, economics, social services, education, and so on, and for those first vital years we were to that extent neglectful of our duty. It is plain that the people who in this war are in the same position as people like my hon. Friends and I were in the last war have learned a lesson, and they realise that it is these questions of foreign policy and security which are the gateway to all those other interests which they may have.
I want particularly to-night to speak about that section of the Charter which deals with dependent territories. I do so because it is a subject about which I know something, and although, of course, it has never been considered in this House that knowledge is essential before one speaks, it has never actually been considered as a disadvantage. Incidentally, my choice of subjects has this one advantage, that it is about the only political subject on which it is quite unnecessary to introduce the name of Professor Laski. He has been so busy that he has not yet got round to the Colonial Empire. I see 930 in front of me the right hon. Gentleman—indeed I think that in the absence of that mentor, the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) I might call him my right hon. Friend—the present Secretary of State for the Colonies. I and all who sit upon these benches wish him well in the task he has undertaken. I regard it as a task not only of great importance, but of absorbing interest. It is one for which he is well qualified by his knowledge, his interest and his character, and we shall all of us wish heartily for his success. I wish that he had been in a position to take part in this Debate to-day. The provisions of the Charter with regard to dependent territories are of great importance to them, and I think they themselves would have liked to have heard them explained by their Secretary of State for the Colonies. I know that the right hon. Gentleman himself would much like to be in a position to do it and I regret even in this two days' Debate it has not been found possible for him to join in.
One point that we have to remember with regard to the dependent area parts of the Charter is that, unlike all the others, they were not the subject of any previous discussions. There has been no Dumbarton Oaks. There has been no exchange of conversations before, no change prepared or draft Charters accepted. That makes even more remarkable the success of those who, in that comparatively short time, were able to produce for agreement between all these nations with such varying interests a document which I believe to be of great importance to the Colonial territories of the world.
The provisions fall into three parts. There is, first of all, a general declaration in Article 73 applicable to dependent territories wherever they are; secondly, the trusteeship provides for certain territories; and thirdly, and perhaps the most important of all, there are those social and economic provisions of the Charter which, if they make no separate mention or separate differentiation for dependent territories, may in the end prove for them the most important part of the Charter as a whole. It is true when you read the Charter that, as far as this country is concerned, it might be said that it only sets out what is already the object of our Colonial policy and that what we are binding ourselves to in that obligation is nothing more than what we are already 931 doing. That, I believe, is true. The progress towards self-government and economic and social development has been the concern now of successive Secretaries of State for several years, and I am sure it will be equally the concern of the right hon. Gentleman who now occupies that office. But even if that already is our policy there is a great gain in that it is set up in the form of a declaration in explicit terms and witnessed by 40-odd other nations who have subscribed to this part.
It means in future that in successive Parliaments or successive Ministries there can be no change of policy and there can be no going back on the road along which we have advanced. There it is in black and white in the Charter to which all the 60,000,000 inhabitants of those territories can appeal, and by which all of us can judge the acts of successive Ministers or successive Parliaments. Therefore, I do not for one moment underrate the importance to the Colonial Empire of the general declaration. There is then the chapter which deals with the setting up of the trustee system. That, of course, is an extension and a revision of the mandatory system under the old League of Nations Covenant. In 1920, when that mandatory system was first introduced, it was regarded as ths last ward in the progressive treatment of dependent areas. I am not sure, personally, that I would regard it as such to-day, and I am very doubtful whether it will be regarded as such in a few years' time.
As a system it has two great defects. The first is that the approach of the mandatory system is a negative and not a positive one, the basis of which is preventing the mandatory Power from doing things which they ought not to do, rather than helping them to do things which they want and ought to do. It does not offer them constructive help and international co-operation for the social and economic development of these territories. The second difficulty is that, drafted as it was, now some 25 years ago, it is based on the assumption that the mandatory Power has, and will retain, complete sovereign rights in a dependent territory and can enforce its will, and by enforcing its own will can carry out the instructions of what was then the permanent mandatory Commission. Whatever may have been the position 25 years ago, it is a long way from that to-day in the British 932 Colonial Empire, and it is going to be even further than that in the future.
I am leaving aside Colonies like Ceylon and Jamaica, which have already attained to a very large measure of self-government. But in almost every Colony we are developing unofficial majorities in the legislature. A convention has grown up that if a Governor retains overriding powers, they are not used except on matters of the highest importance to override decisions arrived at by those legislatures with their unofficial majorities. Therefore, we are arriving, and will arrive, at a position in which the decision of the new trusteeship council, may not only be overriding the administration of the mandatory Power, but may be found to be in direct contradiction of the express will of the peoples themselves. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I, personally, attach a great deal more importance to the development of these unofficial regional commissions which I would not be in Order in discussing in detail now, but it is an interest which I know he shares, and a future which I know he will foster.
In continuing the system certain alterations have been made which I think are of advantage. The Prime Minister mentioned one of them—the alteration that has been made in the open-door provision of the old Mandate system. I am not going into an argument now as to whether the open door is the right fiscal policy for a country. I do not know whether it is going to be the fiscal policy of this country, but what I am sure is that, right or wrong, the particular territory should not be deprived of the choice which every other country has, and certainly should not be deprived of that choice when nothing is given on the other hand. Although the mandate area had to maintain the open door for all the nations of the League of Nations, the other nations had not got to maintain an open door for them, and it is quite clear that the point of the thing is that they should have the right to choose whatever system is to their advantage. Similarly over defence. The right hon. Gentleman will remember the difficulties there were when the Japanese menace first became acute over the defence of East Africa. Under the mandate, you could raise troops, you could fortify bases for the defence of the territory, you could raise troops to defend Tanganyika, and you 933 could have spent money fortifying Tanganyika, but you could not move according to the strict letter of the law one man over the border into Kenya to protect the port of Kalindini against the Japanese invasion. That has gone now under the new provision.
I believe, therefore, that this new mandate machinery, in so far as the mandate system is the solution of Colonial progress, is an improvement and can be made to work, but, like the whole of the rest of this Charter, it is not really the machinery that matters so much as the spirit behind it. This Trusteeship Council is composed half of the mandatory Powers and half of Powers elected by the Assembly, and they must include all the great Powers. It all depends how that Council is going to work. If they tackle these Colonial problems in an objective spirit, in an expert spirit, in a scientific and technical spirit, then I believe they can do not only a great deal of good to the territories which come within this machinery, but they can be a great help over a much wider area to dependent territories as a whole. But if this Council is to be merely a plaything of power politics, if it is a place where you can twist the tail of a mandatory Power, where you can get back on somebody on some trade dispute by making trouble about their Colonial administration, then it can only be a curse to Colonial administration and a curse to Colonial people. I hope and believe that in fact this machinery will be used in that objective spirit and can be of the greatest service.
There are just two points with regard to this part to which I would like the right hon. Gentleman during his winding up speech to refer. The first is this. In the old days the chief objection to the mandate system in certain of the areas over which we held the mandate was the uncertainty that it created. Was it really going to remain administered by us, or was there a chance of its being either handed back to the Germans or over to some other country? Now under this new provision the mandates cannot be altered without the consent of the present mandatory Power, and I believe it would give great reassurance in those areas if the right hon. Gentleman could confirm that His Majesty's Government have no intention of relinquishing their mandates for those territories which they now hold.
934 The second point is this. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, during the days when I was at the Colonial Office, took a very real and, if I may say so, a very robust interest in Colonial affairs for which I am most grateful. He will remember the reason why this new Charter contains a voluntary provision, a provision by which territories not the subject of an old mandate, not acquired from the enemy in this war, can be voluntarily put under the mandate system. It was the decision of the late Government, of which he was a member, that while we should support that provision we should make it quite clear that we ourselves did not intend to make any use of it until we had had much more experience of the working of the present system, and until we could quite see much more clearly that it would be to our advantage and the advantage of the Colonial Empire. I would be glad if he could give us an assurance that that is still the policy and that there certainly would be no changes without an opportunity for this House to discuss them.
I have, of course, up to now been talking only about the B. mandate. I have purposely refrained from talking about the A. mandate, which, as far as we are concerned, means the problem of Palestine. The Government, in reply to questions in the last two days, have asked for time to consider that problem. It is a problem of terrible intricacy. It is a problem fraught, if the solution is wrong, with terrible consequences, and nobody on this side of the House wants in any way to hinder the Government in their work, or to press them over a matter which requires most careful consideration. However, perhaps I might be allowed to say that I wish—and it is a wish that may be shared by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite—that the Labour Party, before they made a declaration of policy at the last Election, had shown the same caution which the Labour Government is now showing before it makes a declaration of action.
§ Colonel Stanley
I can show the hon. Gentleman, if he likes, exactly what I wrote to any constituent who asked me about Palestine.
§ Colonel Stanley
The hon. Gentleman will have seen that on this particular subject we were wise enough at that moment to maintain a complete silence.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
You cannot always get off.
§ Colonel Stanley
Finally, on this particular subject of the mandate, I want to refer to the general economic and social provisions which, on the whole, I believe the future will show to be the most valuable part of this Charter to the Colonial Empire. After all, it is not only constitutions that these people want in dependent areas, it is economic and social progress that they need even more. The great point of these economic and social provisions of the Charter is that they do away with what in the mandatory system is, I think, sometimes a very false division, a division between independent countries and dependent countries. You can be hungry and you can be miserable and you can be ill in independent countries, and you can be well off, well fed, and happy in dependent ones.
The real division is between the progressive and the backward countries, and it is, I think, quite ridiculous to say, for instance, that Ceylon, with its long tradition, with what is almost self-government, with its Ministers with their great social sense, needs some special looking after by the Council of Nations while Abyssinia, because it is an independent country, needs none. Yet if you compare the economic conditions of the inhabitants of the two territories you would have little doubt which you would prefer. Now I believe that in these provisions of the Charter the Colonial territories can find great hope. The real approach to raising their standards is in these signatures of these international conventions, conventions which have to be signed both by dependent and independent countries, and which lay down a level for all. I wish those organisations well and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will make the greatest use of them.
936 Now, if I might turn for a minute to the general provisions of the Charter, the Charter has been received in this House with general approval and with almost equally general criticism. It is not surprising, for who thinks that you could, under the circumstances, get a document with every word of which every individual would agree? In fact, no individual will ever agree with any document unless it has been drawn up by one man, and that one man is himself. You cannot expect that, when this had to be agreed by over 40 nations, there would not be in it many things which individuals here and there would have wished to be altered. I do not want to go into what those points are. Quite rightly, the Prime Minister set the tone in not pointing out those questions on which we differ from these proposals, and where we have subsequently modified our opinion.
There are two main points we have to stress. The first is the transcendental importance of getting agreement at all, not because in getting agreement we can tell the people that we have something for their security which we know we have not got, but because if you once get agreement it is something on which to build. If once the machinery works the opposition may disappear; once you have agreement there is always the chance that it can be improved in the future. But suppose we had not got it. If the Conference had failed; if we had split into two camps or the attempt had been abandoned, then indeed, the prospect would have been hopeless. That is why I think it is rather unfair that the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. M. Foot), in his maiden speech, which appealed to many sections of the House, although, perhaps, not to the Front Bench opposite, said that we had not taken the lead in this Conference. The lead in what? The lead in making the most popular speeches in the Conference, or the lead in trying to get agreement? They are very different things. I do not believe that if by pressing to the point of breaking some of the things for which we stood, some of the improvements which we wanted, and this House was discussing to-night, not the ratification of this Charter but the failure of the Conference, even those who made that criticism would to-day be talking in a more cheerful spirit.
937 If we, on this side, had not done it these people would have been saying, "As usual, you have let your ideological feelings run away with you. You have wrecked the most promising chance of world peace." I am not at all sorry that we know that differences exist. We do not believe that a spurious agreement has been reached which, as soon as it was tested, would have fallen apart. In the early days of the war I was a student at the Staff College and I remember General Montgomery coming down to lecture us. He instituted a famous and not very popular system in the Army of a seven mile run for all officers of all ages and all occupations. The A.D.M.S. of the Corps said to him, "General, if you make some of these people do this run they will die," and he answered, "Let them die. Far better that they should die now than in the face of the enemy." There is great truth in that. If you are to have difficulties and weaknesses it is far batter to disclose them now, when you have time to deal with them, than that they should be concealed until the test comes and disclosed only then.
In conclusion, I think I should almost be oat of Order, certainly out of the ordinary if I did not refer for one minute to the atomic bomb. It has been the theme of most of the speeches and has coloured all of them. Normally, I must confess that I am rather sceptical when somebody tells me of some event which has created anew world. We were told that in the Election from the platforms of hon. Members opposite, who said that their return would create a new world. Their eloquence was reinforced by pictorial skill. Members will remember the posters showing faces looking forward, all registering anticipation and, because of what they could see, apparently being able to ignore the obvious discomfort of their present condition. Well, we have now had a fortnight of the new world, and certainly in the new world there are still some familiar speeches. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, in that splendid speech he made on Monday, which was acclaimed in all parts of the House, made me wonder whether, in his spare time—if he ever has any spare time now—he had not been dipping into that brilliant old play, "The Importance of being Anthony."
938 It is certain that in this new world we shall find some familiar faces. When my right hon. and hon. Friends are finally allowed in, no doubt after a period of what, in the old days, used to be called, euphemistically, "Political education" we shall not be quite at sea. We shall at least find there Lord Catto, who, having played the part of the wicked industrialist in the old world, is now, with little change in his make-upor costume, cast for the part of one of the financial cherubs of the new. Frankly, I am still sceptical. If I do not believe that a new world was created in the early days of July I am not so sure whether a new world has not been created in the early days of August. Certainly, we have seen a new phenomenon for evil, and possibly for good, but at any rate a phenomenon where evil is certain and good is problematical for the future.
If I have followed the general example in dealing with the atomic bomb, I am going to be quite exceptional in putting forward no solution for the problem. I have not had time to realise the tremendous repercussions of this new event. I have not the knowledge which is required of the means of manufacture, the possibilities of not only the secrets of the bomb but its methods of manufacture becoming easier so that it becomes within the range of every nation, big or small, even, almost, of groups of individuals. I have not got any further than just feeling that it is an event which has made a difference to the lives of all of us, and that all of us must think again. I do not say that what has happened has made San Francisco unreal, that it has made our discussions unreal, but it has made San Francisco only the beginning and our discussions to-day only a groping for something in the future.
Fortunately, this horrible discovery rests to-day in the hands of a nation which, above all other nations of the world, can be trusted not to use it for aggressive purposes. We have a breathing space to find out how we are going to control it, but that breathing space is not long. It is a great responsibility for the Government.
The knowledge of all of us will help, but we can only help by the realisation that it is going to call, in future, for greater sacrifices of national interest than perhaps we were prepared to face in the 939 past, because, by these greater sacrifices, we are going to avoid greater danger. If all of us in this House support this Motion to-night, we are pledging not only ourselves, each and every one of us, but the country which we represent—pledging it not only to stand by the letter of San Francisco, but, what is more important, to go forward in that spirit.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I would like to apologise to the House because I have not been in attendance throughout the whole of the Debate, but I think everyone will appreciate that in the task I have now, two Debates affecting foreign affairs in one week are rather heavy, with all the other work I have to do. I assure the House that I have kept in touch all the time and have tried to follow the points raised by the various speakers. If I may deal briefly with the points of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bristol, West (Colonel Stanley), I would like to compliment him, first of all, on his real faith in the survival of the Derbys; in his unlimited faith that, after all these years, nothing will ever destroy them. They will come back in some phase or another on the political scene as they have always done. I like his remark too about Labour putting on their poster this picture of anticipation. I cannot imagine a Derby having that anticipation. He has enjoyed the glorious things of life so long that there is nothing else that he desires to satisfy, and he must not be surprised if some of the other people are a little hungry at times—even if it is not I.
Dealing with the points he raised, I am very glad to have his acknowledgment of the work we jointly did in connection with the Colonial territories. I served as a member of the Colonial Development Committee from 1929 to 1933, and I realised then that the mandate system was going to present very great difficulties indeed both financially and, what is more important, in really advanced planning for a long term. You cannot deal with any development of territory unless you take a long view. Another thing I thought very bad at that time was the system of the Treasury in giving a grant every year and, if it was not spent at the end of that year, keeping it. We could not make a plan more than a year ahead. Happily, recently, that has been remedied, and as 940 far as the mandated territories are concerned, I think the Colonial Office can plan now for a considerable time ahead without any risk of being pulled up.
If that applies to the territories under our own control, it applied equally in mandated territories too, and therefore whatever the organisations are about trusteeship, it recognises—and I welcome the change—that whoever takes responsibility must have a real chance of a long enough duration to do the job properly; otherwise it is useless to take it on. As far as the administration of our existing mandates is concerned, there has been no change in the policy to which we were all a party in the Coalition Government. It was thoroughly thrashed out at that time. There was no party difference about it at all, and we arrived at a decision on this question which I can assure my right hon. and gallant Friend has not even been reconsidered, because we regarded it as really settled. He asked me a rather more difficult question when he said, Would I give an assurance that no Colony would be placed under trusteeship? That is a rather wide and sweeping suggestion. In general, I answer "Yes," but he knows, as well as I, that there are certain territories now under Colonial administration in regard to which, if I gave an absolute answer, it would make it impossible for me to adjust frontiers and impossible for me to deal with certain territories which might come under discussion in the settlement of, say, the Italian Colonies.
If I give the answer "Yes" in a general sense, I must enter the caveat that there may have to be adjustments made. Neither would I like to be put in the position of saying that as Foreign Secretary I am tied by any undertaking. That would be an impossible position to put oneself in, especially when one knows that one can make things better by certain adjustments.
§ Mr. Bevin
Yes. Turning to the Debate generally, I would express my appreciation of the maiden speeches that have been made. It is very encouraging I think, having gone through the Debate in Hansard, to find in this new House of Commons so many people who must have been giving study to these problems before they came to the House. I am sure that they will benefit, just as much as we shall, by placing their views on 941 the anvil of discussion in this House, and having them examined, so that the nation may be able to arrive at a correct and proper decision. I have noted that a number of hon. Members have shown dissatisfaction mainly with the voting provision of the Security Council. As I understand it, they would like in some way, which as far as I have been able to follow the Debate they do not very clearly define, that the decision of the Security Council should be by a majority vote. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) made it clear the other day, but it may be as well to repeat it, that the formula is that proposed by the late President Roosevelt at Yalta and agreed to by the Three Powers, and subsequently by China, and then by France at San Francisco.
There are two quite separate points which are sometimes confused. The first concerns the votes of the Great Powers. When they are parties to a dispute they have no vote in any of the decisions made under Chapter six of the Charter for a pacific settlement. That means that the Security Council can, by a vote of seven, of which at least three must be small States, pass judgment on a Great Power, and recommend what it considers the proper solution of the dispute should be. It is only when it comes to sanctions for a breach of the peace that the assent of the Great Powers who are parties to a dispute is required. I would like to say in passing that it has been my good fortune in my career to have to write a lot of constitutions, not State constitutions but constitutions just as difficult, for trade unions, friendly societies and other bodies. In dealing with these things I sometimes think that all human beings are very much alike. When I have made my greatest speech on unity, the first question which I am always asked is "What about the funeral benefits?" Thus one gets down right away to important matters from the member's point of view. I am not too sure that when we are dealing with these rules and regulations the same mentality does not sometimes apply.
The situation is that the Great Powers have not taken obligations under the Charter to inflict sanctions on each other. They have taken this course because such sanctions would mean a major war, in which the United Nations' organisation as 942 at present constituted would inevitably perish. Therefore, when the real point is reached at which the sanction operates it is there whether there is a veto by the major Powers or not. If they disagree at that point then the thing is over in any case. No such war could take place without all the major Powers being drawn in, and there is, I think, no need to impress on this House what that would mean. Therefore, in connection with these constitutions it is a question of whether one means to work them or whether one does not. I remember on one occasion negotiating a settlement between two great bodies, and there was a lot of discussion about the agreement and the constitution. When they had finished they began asking me how it would be carried out. I said: "I have not the faintest idea, but I will tell you what I intend to do about it. I shall put it in a strong room at the office and never look at it again until somebody complains about the way I have carried it out." Up to this day it has never been taken out. It is very largely the same in other matters. It is the spirit behind these things that matters, whether one really intends to honour and carry out all one undertakes.
Thus the peace of the world depends on the unanimity of the Great Powers in great matters. I do not mean in details. There must always be differences between them on many subjects. But there must be decision on the necessity of avoiding such differences as would lead to war. We always held the view that we should have preferred that, as a matter of principle, the parties to a dispute should not have had a vote on sanctions. But, really, it is ridiculous to talk of Great Powers going to war in this way. We know that civilisation, perhaps the very globe itself that we call the earth, might be involved in destruction If the Great Powers cannot be reasonably true to the promises which they have made in the Charter, no promise to inflict sanctions upon each other will save the world. What is necessary, and what we intend to do, is to make the Security Council the place where the great questions of policy are resolved, and this can only be so if there is a systematic intercourse inside the framework of an ordered society between those who are in charge of such questions. This is the major function of the Security Council, and we, for our 943 part, intend to do all we can to make it the very centre of the world's international affairs.
Then there is the second question which has been raised in Debate—whether a great Power should vote in all questions when it is not a party to the dispute. Surely this is a necessity in the world as it is constituted to-day. Without the assent of the Great Powers not parties to a dispute, no recommendation of the Security Council would carry the weight necessary to make it an effective instrument for peace. It might, indeed, by ranging the Great Powers on opposite sides, become the means of creating war, or at least a very dangerous situation. This was recognised in the Covenant, and we heard very little about hidden vetoes then.
It is true, of course, that if a great Power wishes to prevent an aggressive small State from being disciplined by the Security Council it can do so, but, if Great Powers are going to take that attitude we may as well shut up shop. If such a disciplinary decision is made, it is imperative that it should only be made if all the great Powers agree and then make it effective. It is their duty to stop actions of this kind, and they have promised in their undertakings in this Charter to do so. If they refuse to carry out their responsibilities, it is not a change in the system of voting that will make them do so. It is a question of their willingness to carry out their undertakings. I can say to this House and to the world that, for our part, if any such action or seeming action occurs, we shall see that it is brought before the Security Council immediately.
The House should remember that no State can prevent the Security Council from considering and discussing such a situation. Our representatives, I think, made that perfectly clear at San Francisco. Under these conditions, we shall be able to get the situation clearly defined. If then, any great Power insists on having its own way in defiance of the principles of the Charter, the organisation just will not work. I think we have had rather too much talk about votes and vetoes. There were hardly ever any votes in the Council of the League. I do not know whether I ought to reveal a Cabinet secret, but we really do not come to conclusions in the Cabinet by voting. I 944 once said that we just adjourned. You arrive at a consensus of opinion in such bodies, and that is really the only way that you can make the thing work at all. That is the way the Security Council will work and that is how it must work until the day comes, perhaps sooner than some people imagine, when we shall have found a way to express more definitely at the world centre the preponderance of opinion in the nations of the world.
The Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) raised a point about establishing machinery to deal with the present economic problems as they arise in Europe. I do not think it is really pertinent to this Debate dealing with the Charter, but I can assure him that we have taken a leading part in the establishment of the Emergency Economic Committee for Europe, of which the right hon. Gentleman himself was Chairman, and the transport and coal organisations, all of which have done valuable work during the three or four years of their existence. As I announced in a speech this week, we have now succeeded in coming to a unanimous arrangement for Russia to take her part on the European Transport Conference, which is one of the most vital keys to the restoration of the economic life in Europe. Transport is really the bottleneck of nearly everything, and if we can get that working aright, we can make a big contribution to solving the other problems that follow on.
§ Sir A. Salter
The right hon. Gentleman, I think, meant to say "three or four months." He said "years."
§ Mr. Bevin
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon—during the three or four months of their existence.
As the last speaker mentioned, no one can take part in this discussion without referring to the atomic bomb, and there have been many suggestions made in this Debate. There have been suggestions that the secrets of the atomic bomb should be confided to the Military Staff Committee. My answer to that is this: My view is that the world organisation should stand in the same relationship to the Military Staff Committee as each Government stands to the military authorities in its own country. Civil authority must predominate, and I should not be prepared to see control handed over to the military authorities at all. Control is the 945 responsibility of the Government. The military authorities must remain their advisers.
With regard to what was said by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) and his reference to my speech at the luncheon given to the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission, what I had in mind when I used the words which he quoted was that a great deal of attention had been devoted at San Francisco to the formulation of specific rules, including provision for such things as defence facilities, and so on. The advent of the atomic bomb and other forms of explosive makes it apparent, to my mind, that in future statesmen will have to be more conscious of the necessity for making the world organisation operate than of merely formulating rules. Their whole attitude, owing to this great development, would—may I use the phrase?—be such as to make them less finicky as to the wording of a clause but rather more obsessed with the great purpose to be accomplished. It is not merely the atomic bomb, however, but the whole advance of science in the field of war, which must be controlled. That is a task for the world organisation. The future depends, in the main, on whether or not war is to be allowed to be the predominant factor. It is the aim of His Majesty's Government that under the world organisation we should eliminate the desire to exploit the discoveries of science for the purposes of war, and turn them into channels where they can serve the advancement of humanity and human well being.
War is not caused by the invention of weapons alone. It is policy that makes war. It is our duty, after these six years, to try to ensure that the policies which we and the world follow, do not lead us back to war. When I speak of policy I mean the policy either of a number of nations or of one nation who would propose to exploit the advance of science because they had the intention to go to war. What we have to do is to remove the intention to go to war, or to control it, or, may I say, nip it in the bud directly it shows itself, and to direct the minds of our collective Governments towards the idea of a peaceful settlement, based on economic and social justice. If peace is to be preserved it can only be as the result of creating conditions in which men no longer desire to go to war. If 946 the security organisation cannot achieve this, there is very little hope for any of us or for the Charter we are now discussing.
Then I have been asked: Why not give the secrets of the atomic bomb to the three Great Powers? My answer would be: To whom are we to give those secrets? Merely to the three Great Powers? Or to the five? Or to the world organisation? I think we must postpone consideration of this question until the world organisation is established and we can see clearly how matters stand. The whole question of the control of dangerous weapons is one which we must discuss together. And I go further; dangerous weapons cannot be made without the essential raw materials. Nearly all the raw materials from which they are made are generally located in certain areas. It may be one kind of raw material in one case, or another kind in another, but you have to take a very wide view and see that the essentials are controlled as well as the actual finished product. That is the right approach. You can only do that when you have got this thing established and you can get everybody to agree in what way it shall be done. We must, above all, try to turn the attention of the peoples of the world towards the immense powers of modern science to serve human advancement.
It is the view of His Majesty's Government that in so far as it is necessary to implement the work of the world organisation to control scientific research or the manufacture of weapons, we should aim so to direct our policy that the use of such weapons may become unnecessary and, therefore, unprofitable, and secondly, to keep a careful watch to ensure that no one Government starts out with warlike intentions and proceeds to land us all in war. I think that is the policy which we are agreed on, and I hope that the whole House will agree with it.
With regard to the atomic bomb, we should always remember that this is not the only thing of this kind that science has produced. If the war had continued for very much longer science in a very short time would have produced many other deadly things. Scientists, however, did not set out to split the atom for the purposes of war. I am perfectly certain that the late Lord Rutherford had no idea of war at all. I believe it is what I call scientific curiosity to master the forces 947 of nature which is really the great drive behind this. It is we, in the form and control of our policy, who misdirect the results of scientific research. I do not want to do anything, for should the world organisation do anything, merely to stop science. I think that would be disastrous. It is we who must make the use in war of the results of science unnecessary, by making this organisation work.
The point has been raised in the course of the Debate that everything would be all right if only we had a world State now. In theory I do mat disagree, but I believe it was the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), who pointed out that it would take time, and he called attention to the length of time it had taken to make Great Britain. The only way we could make Great Britain was by handing ourselves over to the Welsh and the Scots. I think it was a very good deal; we certainly got peace, and we are the only one of the three countries without a home rule movement. It did take time. I would remind the House that the League of Nations did not altogether fail. I rather regret the view that it did. It did not do all it was expected to do, but it did not fail completely.
I remember reading a famous report, which has never been published, written by our late lamented friend Sir William Malkin, in which for the purposes of the San Francisco Conference he set out what were called the transferred functions of the League. When you saw in black and white what had been accomplished in the social, labour and colonial fields and in research and investigation, it was apparent that the social side of a world organisation had been almost built up by the League. What we had not done was to set its political head correctly in order to prevent war, but I would not say that the League had failed. It was a beginning and a trial. You might just as well say that Great Britain had failed because we went to war, or that this House or our Constitution had failed. It just failed to preserve peace at a critical moment, and it was not entirely the fault of the League. Much of it therefore has been preserved; but it only shows how difficult it is to build a world State.
Unhappily national feelings, national suspicions and conceptions of sovereignty 948 die hard. We cannot succeed in eradicating them without patient and continuous effort. But I think I speak for all Parties in this House when I say that now we have gone through this terrible trial for six years we are going to take what is left of the League and build it up into the world security organisation. In any case there is a real advance. The advance represented by the present Charter would have been impossible had it not been for the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was because of the weaknesses revealed that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues were able to obtain such an improvement in the Charter for the future. It is true that the principle of veto has been embodied in the new constitution, but it has been embodied only as the result of a realisation of the facts. If the Charter is worked, is it not reasonable to hope that as we build up and get agreement the veto of the Great Powers will slip into the background and be superseded by the procedure under the Charter itself on a wider basis, and by the Assembly? That at least must be our aim.
In this work, I ought to mention, we had valuable help in discussions with the Dominions. There were conversations in London just before the San Francisco Conference, and at the Conference there were constant consultations, but in no case was there an attempt to form a British bloc. It was consultation by really independent States trying to arrive at agreement and make a workable proposition.
In conclusion, if this Charter of the United Nations is to have vigour and life, it is not Governments alone that must act. There must be behind it Parliaments, and what is more important, organised public opinion, to see that it is made to work. One of the instruments of the League was the International Labour Office. I know of no instrument under the League that created moral authority behind international action more effectively than the International Labour Office did. The tripartite discussion, arriving at what was virtual agreement and then translating it into the realm of industrial conditions, collective agreements, and so on, gave men a conscious vested interest in international action. As one of the aids to make this organisation work, I look forward to the International Labour Office playing a very great part. When I was Minister of Labour I urged 949 and got accepted the creation of a great international industrial committee of miners, textile workers and the like. My experience of 30 years of international work is that if you get men together talking about the same occupation, the same trade, the same machines, nationalism ceases and occupation and life interest take its place. Therefore, I hope this great instrument will not only be preserved but will be developed.
I go further. I think that the Economic and Social Council will do well if they have much of their economic discussions in the open, affecting as they will in their decisions so many millions in the world. There is nothing to hide. If there is a difference as to whether this country has raw materials or not, or has certain facilities or not, it is better for it to be discussed in the open than for pressure to be put on us in the Foreign Office to secure this, that or the other arrangement. I hope that in every headquarters and branch office of the unions and of all the great trade societies in the country the objects of the Economic and Social Council, of which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has spoken, and a pledge by the members that they will co-operate to achieve these objects, will be prominently displayed. I go so far as to say that, if the main items of this world Charter, particularly on the economic and social side, can be got out in a suitable form, I would like to see them placed in every church, in every parish, in every hall, in every trade union branch, in all places where the public assembles, to back international law.
I recognise that the Charter is a complicated document, probably a little more complicated than the Covenant, but it is fair to say that the world is more complicated than ever it was before. But there are things which must be done. We as a government intend to use this instrument to the full. We do not intend merely to adopt the Charter to-night and then forget it. We intend to proceed to work out our responsibilities and details under it, and to see to it that in all our actions we shall square up to our responsibilities, if we enter into it.
I am under no illusion as to what has to be done, but there is one gratifying thing, that in this field there is no party difference. Indeed, there is no national difference. There is a resolute determina- 950 tion to try. When those 50 nations signed that document I remember the vote very well, and I said to myself—and perhaps my right hon. Friend will agree—that the unanimity might have been caused to a very large extent by a sort of sub-conscious realisation on the part of the nations of their failure to make the League work when they had it and the six years we had to pass through in consequence. Therefore, that sub-consciousness that brought them to accept this greater responsibility, including the military provisions, the economic and social provisions and the security provisions, gives me the feeling and hope that this time they are conscious that it is not merely a question of putting their hands to a document, but of taking advantage of the great possibilities that lie ahead. The failure of the last League and our own shortcomings, and theirs too, and the frightful price we have had to pay in consequence, may now make us resolutely see to it that this new instrument is made to work.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
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.