Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [27th February]:
That this House approves the declaration of joint policy agreed to by the three great Powers at the Crimea Conference and, in particular, welcomes their determination to maintain unity of action not only in achieving the final defeat of the common enemy but, thereafter, in peace as in war.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 12.15 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
After the Debate and the vote on Poland I think the House will probably wish now to turn to other questions covered by the Report. The first of these is Germany. The declared purpose of those who signed the Report is to make it impossible for Germany ever again to disturb the peace of the world. I should like to add, "and also to make it obvious to Germany herself that it is no use for her to try." We have heard from time to time a great deal about the re-education of German public opinion, I have no confidence whatever in the ability of foreign writers or foreign lecturers to undertake that. There is one contribution we can make: It is to make it very clear for a long time to the German people themselves that military aggression is for them a physical impossibility. Perhaps in time their own teachers will adjust their philosophy to that fact, at least that seems to me to be the best hope.
I do not think the people of this country, even after all that has happened, are vindictive against the German people. We have no desire to deny themselves any human satisfaction except one—a satisfaction that cannot anyhow be enjoyed by countries with poorer resources. It is possible for a country like Switzerland or Sweden to aim with hope of success at economic progress, at eminence in the arts and sciences. But if those countries were ever inclined to fall to the temptation to which Germany has repeatedly succumbed they would be saved from falling into it by the limitations of their resources. What we need, all we need, in regard to Germany is safeguards for the future security of Europe. Those safeguards we must have. So far as they may conflict with the maximum 1580 of economic advance that would otherwise be possible to Germany, then the safeguards must, I suggest, prevail. But subject to that we do not desire that Germany should be limited in the pursuit of every ordinary human ambition, except only this one of forcibly attacking other countries.
It seems to me that the proposals in this Report are based upon a very farsighted view of what is necessary to achieve this purpose. It may be called a policy of expediency, of what is expedient in the interests of the security and prosperity of Europe. But I suggest that expediency of this kind will be more merciful to Germany than strict justice. It will mean a settlement which will indeed be severe by comparison with the wrongly-abused Treaty of Versailles. But it will be less severe, I submit, than strict considerations of justice would either suggest or permit. I do not accept the idea that obtained such wide acceptance after the last war, not only in Germany but in this country and across the Atlantic, that a just peace is one which treats a country which has started a world war exactly as if she had not done it, and which encourages a would-be aggressor to gamble on the profitable basis of "Heads I win, tails I don't lose."
Having said that, I think there are some respects in which the policy which is being pursued will prove more lenient to Germany than justice itself would suggest. For example, I perceived certain expressions of dissent when my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir W. Beveridge) said that he did not think it would be a good thing to impose forcibly the partition of Germany into a number of separate sovereign States. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, for this simple reason, that I believe that if such a separation were imposed a splendid rallying focus would be given to any new Hitler, and then the policy of reunion could be pursued gradually—industrial arrangements first, economic union second—so that it would be practically impossible, and ultimately, I think, politically impossible, to prevent by force the reunion of those separate States into one. I think such a policy would be much more difficult than even the perpetual garrisoning of Germany with a view to the enforcement of disarmament. I think it would be easier, though not easy, to control for an 1581 indefinite period all the industries of Germany which might be used for the manufacture of weapons. It would be easier to effect some alienations, with transfer of populations, of German territory important to her war potential. There are occasions when a surgical operation is less severe and less painful than a permanently difficult and drastic course of treatment.
One other thing I would like to say is that I am extremely glad that this time it is proposed to take reparations in kind and not in cash. I was General Secretary of the Reparations Commission in 1920. I believed then, as I have always believed since, that it would have been immensely better if the major part of reparations had been taken in the form of the physical rebuilding of the devastated regions of France and Belgium by German labour with German materials. We made the mistake not of taking too much from Germany—Germany certainly did not pay too much in reparations—but of exacting it in the wrong form.
I turn now from Germany to the problem of world organisation, only saying in passing that both the settlement with Germany and the adjustments of any frontiers that may be required as the result of what has happened in the last five years is, I think, quite clearly a victors' responsibility. It cannot be transferred to the new world organisation. This may, indeed, take over from time to time in future the responsibility for some parts of the settlement; it may preserve the future integrity of the States within the frontiers which are now drawn, but it certainly cannot take over from the victors the responsibility that rests upon them now. What is this organisation that is now proposed? It is, like the League of Nations, an inter-state organisation, this time, however, with new membership and with some new methods. I think the new membership is immensely the more important. In 1920 neither the United States nor Russia were members of the League. They will be, we hope, members of this new organisation, and it is obvious that both their position in world affairs and their attitude to world affairs are profoundly different from what they were in 1920. It is upon that fact mainly that, as I personally believe, the prospects this time are very much more favourable than they were before.
1582 If then we take this proposal as it appears in the Dumbarton Oaks scheme what have we to say to it? I would say, as a first criticism, that I think the framers have been much too timid in approaching the question of national sovereignty, that they have tended to suggest that separate national sovereignties are more eternal and more immutable than they are or should be. I confess that I do not like the phrase in the first principle—which is indeed taken over from the Moscow Conference and was not invented at Dumbarton Oaks—The sovereign equality of all peace-loving States.Every significant word in that phrase is, I think, both ambiguous and disputable. I should hope myself that the regional mutual aid associtions which are contemplated in the Dumbarton Oaks scheme would develop in a federal direction. I believe that here and there something like the federal system is possible, and so far as federalism can be got I believe it gives infinitely greater security than an inter-State system. It is infinitely less likely that States in a system like that of the United States of America would fight each other than would States connected only by inter-State arrangements. But, of course, it is quite obvious that federalism, however and wherever it may be possible, cannot be expected in any near future to be more than very partial and very patchy. It is obvious that the main framework of international relations for some time to come must be that of inter-State organisations of the kind which Dumbarton Oaks contemplated.
Assuming this, I think the main discussion will range round the relations and position of small States. There are a few things I should like to say on that subject. There is one respect in which small States may be legitimately anxious when they read this scheme. I think there is too exclusive an emphasis upon the threat to peace as the reason, and apparently the only reason, for the Security Council to act. I will not argue this throughout the detail of the text. If hon. Members will read the whole of that document they will come to the conclusion that the danger is not altogether unreal, that if a large country is bullying a small country, let us say Germany bullying Denmark, the point could be made that the disparity in strength between them was so great that peace was not threatened and that 1583 therefore the Security Council need not do anything about it. I do not think that is the intention, and I do not think that, read in conjunction with the Atlantic Charter, it should be regarded as the probable effect. But I think it would be reasonable that something of the relevant provisions of the Atlantic Charter should be incorporated in the charter of this new organisation. I would also express the hope it will be clear, when the final Charter comes out, that every kind of dispute which any country, small or great, has against any other country may be brought forward for discussion without any danger of a veto on such discussions by any one of the major Powers.
§ Mr. Tinker (Leigh)
Is the right hon. Gentleman referring to Article 4 of the Crimea Conference, because I think that covers all the points he has mentioned? It allows all to be brought forward.
§ Sir A. Salter
I think it would be rather difficult to argue now the detailed text, but if hon. Members will take the document as a whole they will see that there is—in the absence of some further explanation—some danger that certain subjects may be blocked by a veto of the Great Powers. But supposing that that possible objection is overcome. There remains the question of voting in the Security Council. We have not been told what the compromise arrived at in the Crimea was; but what if it should prove that, while nothing is debarred from discussion by the Security Council, we find that Russia still insists on a veto at the last stage, when the enforcing apparatus is to be put into operation? I should regret this but I hope that we shall not, too hastily, rush into despair and disillusion. It is true that an ideal collective system should give equal security to every country against every other country. But we are now starting to build this organisation; we are not going to create it full-blown from the beginning. Would such a position greatly change the realities, as we must recognise them for a number of years to come? If there should be a quarrel, going to the point of war, between any of the three principal Powers in this present system, is it not clear that whether war came or not it would not be prevented by the new organisation which is now being set up?
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
My right hon. Friend's authority on this matter is so great that it is very important that we should know exactly what he means. Would he not agree that the danger of a Great Power being able to veto in this way is not only that it would protect the Great Power itself, if it were an aggressor, but that any satellite or ally of the Great Power would be protected by that veto, so that the small Powers would be almost forced to accept a position of vassalage, to obtain protection?
§ Sir A. Salter
I agree that, unless we took steps to overcome it, that would be a real danger. But in the years ahead, if there is a quarrel of that kind between such Powers, it is not this new system which will prevent war from coming. I regret that, but I do not regard it as a reason for complete despair and disillusion. We ought, if this should be the position, to recall the whole history of the last 25 years, and to see whether there is not a good deal in that history which will explain the position that I think is being taken.
I want now to turn to the further question of what is to be our position in this new system, as Great Britain and as the British Commonwealth of Nations. However the three Powers may share their responsibilities and power with themselves—and the process is already beginning, and I hope will go further—it is clear that, for a long time to come, the position of the world will depend mainly upon a tripod of Powers. Many of us are extremely anxious to know whether we shall be equal partners with the United States and with Russia. I think we all believe that it would be not only in our interests but in the interests of the world that we should be. But shall we? I think we must answer that if we mean that our leg of the tripod is Great Britain, this little island in the North Sea, the answer is: "No." But if we mean the British Commonwealth of Nations, the answer is: "Perhaps." We can be.
That depends a good deal on the development of relations between the members of the British Commonwealth. The Dumbarton Oaks scheme contemplates a regional organisation; but here is a great non-regional political association that has stood the test of war better than any association based upon regional 1585 proximity. Italy, after all, did not come into the war in 1939, but the British Commonwealth, with the exception of the one unit, which was nearest the conflict, did come in by free and instant decision of the Dominions, although many thousands of miles away and surrounded-for thousands of miles by neutral countries. The Dominions have fully shared the burdens and the hazards of this war. Yes, but they did not share either the burden or the privileges of defence preparations and policy, and of foreign policy associated with them, in any comparably equal way. When equality of status was arranged in the Statute of Westminster it has been explained, in the Balfour Report of 1926, that equality of status did not necessarily mean identity of function. And Great Britain has, in fact, been left ever since, in peace-time, with, I think, a disproportionate responsibility and burden in regard to the defence of the Empire as a whole and the policy associated with it. This is a question which we know has preoccupied the minds of some of the leading Dominion statesmen. We have seen reflections of it in General Smuts and Mr. Curtin. I do not know what the future will be. It is a question not only in which the Dominions are as interested as ourselves, but in which it is perhaps better that the Dominions should take the initiative. However, perhaps it is worth while for someone speaking here as a private member to recall the vital importance of this question, and what seems to me the grave defect in our present arrangements.
I should like now to turn back to the Report as a whole, and to the position of the Government in relation to the Crimea scheme. I think we have in this Report a framework, in which nearly everything that we want is possible but a good deal of what we want is uncertain; a great deal depends therefore on whether we have confidence in our Government and in our representatives to do all that is humanly possible to get the best that can be got through this new instrument. I shall, without hesitation, vote in favour of the Motion to-day. I have for some months been a silent listener to bitter criticism of the Government, and of the Prime Minister in particular, and to some criticism for which the word "bitter" is perhaps too weak an adjective. I would like to ask the critics what remains, in the light of events, of their criticisms?
§ Sir A. Salter
Perhaps the critics may say, not altogether without reason, that there have been occasions on which it might have been better for the daily execution of policy, within the main principles previously decided upon, to be left more to the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office, in accordance with British traditions. Perhaps they may say, not altogether without reason, that there have sometimes been impulsive interventions; and that perhaps sometimes personal likes and dislikes have marred or impeded policy. But if we turn to the great issues and the great occasions, if we think of France, of the United States, of Russia, of Yugoslavia; I would add, with the Moscow visit in mind, of Poland; I would add, with the Christmas visit in mind, of Greece—if we recall the great decisions and the great speeches made at those times, is it not true that we see in the Prime Minister a kind of obstinate and unfailing magnanimity—and a faculty of instantaneous decision? Looking back on all those great occasions, was he not, in fact, right? I think it is in this perspective that any discussion of current questions should be viewed.
The hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) expressed regret that the Prime Minister travels so much. I do not suppose the Prime Minister travels purely for the pleasure of travelling, although it is perhaps possible that a lesser reluctance on his part to travel may sometimes be a factor in the decision as to where the conference is to take place. But it is the case that the Prime Minister has been the most active architect of Allied unity. The oldest of the three, he has been the most mobile. When the President could not he there, he was there with the Marshal; when the Marshal could not be there, he was there with the President; when both were there, he was there too. This is an appropriate occasion to remember that, when we are trying to forecast the prospects of this Report now before us. What is this Report? I have followed rather closely for some 25 years nearly every important international conference. At a considerable number of them I have been inside the conference chamber.
I say, deliberately, that I have searched my memory for any conference which 1587 within so few days has yielded so rich a harvest as we see in the Report of this Conference. It is a harvest, it is true, which is not yet reaped. It is still subject to the hazards of political storms and weather and seasons. Much will depend upon those who reap this harvest. I personally have strong hopes that, so far as our representatives are concerned, they will prove good reapers. The harvest is ripe for reaping. What can we in this House do? We can make, and we are in the course of this Debate making, some constructive suggestions. But when we finish the Debate I suggest that much the best thing we can do is to give a unanimous vote of confidence, unimpaired, if possible, even by abstention.
§ 12.43 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage (Louth)
Like the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), I was also in Germany on one of the commissions of control. I hope the House will let me give some of my experiences there, and that they may be of use in helping to settle the problems on the Continent of the aftermath of this war. I had the honour of being on the Inter-Allied Commission of Control in Germany, from its inception until disarmament was practically complete. The difficulties we experienced show, as we see it now, that not only were we dealing with disarmament, but we were forced to deal with economic and diplomatic questions, for which we were not qualified, because we were practically all Service men. We had the beginning of what is now called the "underground front" and we also had the difficulties of settling boundaries with varied populations. All these problems will face the Allies after this war, and, if I indicate some of our difficulties and show the way in which we solved them, it may short-circuit some of the problems that will have to be faced after this war.
First of all, luckily, we found among the soldiers a man who was a diplomatist—Frank Bingham. It was accidental, perhaps, but he was able to prevent the Germans from continually trying to separate us from the French, and I may say that insidious propaganda of that kind started at once. It was, perhaps, unexpected by us—we were all rather young fellows—but that kind of thing will go on, and will confront any commission 1588 which is set up after this war. That kind of propaganda, which we now call the underground front, will continue. The second trouble we had was the interpretation of the Versailles Treaty. The German views on legal questions were constantly in opposition to our own. If I may give an instance, they brought forward the argument that flame-throwers were not instruments of war but instruments of peace, because they could be used on insect pests in the orchards.
§ Sir A. Heneage
It was not accepted, but I give that instance to show the kind of obstruction that was created. I suggest that the chief of the commission should have full powers to make legal interpretations. Yet another problem concerned the question of liaison officers. If we went to factories, we went in plain clothes with a German officer; if we went to service formations, we went in uniform, also with a German officer. These German officers were not there to help us; they were there only to hinder us, and I suggest that the selection of German officers should not be left to the German General Staff, but to the Allied Commission of Control. These German officers were able to do a great deal of obstruction of our work, and were also able to find out who gave us information about hidden arms, and, generally speaking, to obstruct us and our means of getting knowledge of subversive movements. They also worked against their own Government—the Ebert Government.
I want to say a word on the question of armaments. Armaments get out of date very soon. I believe that, even if the amount of hidden arms in Germany had been sufficient to arm five divisions—and that would probably have been an over-statement—in any case, they would have been out of date by this time. Actual disarmament is not the problem. I should like to see more attention paid to the tricks of the underground front. The "Green Police" was an organisation of ordinary constabulary, but in fact they were the nucleus of the future army. Not only were they organised on a military basis, but the personnel were completely fitted for becoming the N.C.Os. of a potential army. In their depot were four machine-guns, which they actually 1589 produced for my inspection. When I came to ask about the number of spare parts, I saw at once that there was alarm and despondency, and, on examining the books, I saw that they had spare parts for 4,000 and that these only needed assembling. These are some of the ways in which the underground front was proposing to function, and I hope very much that it will be possible, this time, to short-circuit some of these tricks.
In going up and down the country, we were, of course, assailed by intense propaganda, which, however, did not have much effect upon us. It was rather crude. I remember visiting a large schloss to examine the possibility of arms being hidden there, and being told by the people there about their ancestors who fought with us at Waterloo, and asked why we were not on the same side now. That sort of thing was constant. I make a suggestion about one of the difficulties which will have to be faced. When we were sent out there, we were told that it would not be possible for us to have our families out there. We had been four years in the war, separated from our families. I am very glad to say that we did eventually get the families of officers, but not of the rank and file sent out there. I think that, in the case of any of these commissions that go to remain for a long time, arrangements should be made beforehand, that the families of officers and men must either accompany them, or follow them very soon. That is one of the things which I have not heard mentioned, but I think it absolutely essential that, in the case of any kind of commission going to spend more than a few days on foreign soil, the families of the members should travel also. When we got the families out there, we found that there was much less fraternisation and much less difficulty. Although it may seem a small point, it is one which may have far-reaching effects.
I come to the question of the boundaries which we were trying to settle. It was a general boundary question, which was difficult, because of the varied populations. I think many of us, when we look at the map of Europe, think that populations are like the map, and that, where a boundary is marked by a wobbly line, that indicates a division between two completely different nationalities. It is not so. Populations put themselves into a country in the form of a chess board, with 1590 a square here of one kind, and a square there of another kind. In Macedonia, you can go from one village which is Bulgarian to another which is Greek, and to another where you used to find Turks, and the whole situation appears to be perfectly impossible. The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett), who, I am sorry, is not at present in his place, presided at a most interesting B.B.C. talk the other clay, when this question of population and boundaries was considered and the question of how far geographical considerations and considerations of religion and various kinds of historical associations should be taken into account in fixing boundaries was discussed. To us Members of Parliament, who have to decide on these matters, I recommend a study of these questions because they raise many difficulties, and, to a certain ex-tent, confuse a solution.
What we are troubled about is the question of minorities. We have minorities in this country, but they do not create what may be called "international" trouble. They may give political trouble, but not international trouble. International troubles about minorities only arise when a minority longs for the nationality of a Great Power. If you get, say, Germans in Greece, you get trouble; if, in Greece you have a small population of Cretans, you do not get international trouble. The biggest factor of international trouble with minorities is the question of special privileges. I like the suggestion which has been put forward that minorities should have no special privileges, but should have the free choice whether to stay in the country or go to their own country, and if they stay in the country where they are, they should accept full citizenship. We saw all that kind of trouble in Silesia. If you have a minority with privileges, the minority will say that these privileges are not enough and that they want more, and their home country will enlarge all their grievances. If they have no privileges, but are just citizens of the country in which they live, they give much less trouble.
Those are some of the experiences which we had in Germany, and I hope that these few words of mine, contributed to the first foreign Debate in which I have spoken in 20 years, may be of use. I put them forward in the genuine hope that they may help in solving some of the troubles that will face us. I only want to add that 1591 there is a great deal of knowledge of this kind in this country—not necessarily among Members of Parliament—and I hope very much that, when these commissions are set up, the advice of people who had this sort of problem to deal with before, will be sought. So often, when you get to the end of a war, you set up a completely new organisation with no past experience. The difficulties with which these commissions will have to deal will require political experience. They will have to deal with politics as much as military affairs, and I do not think we have sufficiently considered that point. If these commissions are to be effective in dealing with peace, they must get down to the rank and file of the country in which they work. They have not got to be just water-tight compartments for destroying ammunition. They have to find out things, to talk to and encourage the people. If you choose the commissions wisely, and they develop on the right lines, they will be the best peace-makers of all—better than any education committee which may be sent out—because they will be genuinely in touch with the people of the countries concerned. It is a very difficult proposition. I would like to see Members of Parliament visiting these commissions and giving their advice. With such experience as I have, I am very glad to support the Yalta decisions and the Motion moved by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
§ 12.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) spoke on the first day of this Debate, he promised support for the Motion on the Order Paper on the understanding that it should not be used in evidence against anybody and permitted a number of reservations. I find myself in the happy, if not altogether usual, position of being of exactly the same mind. I see nothing in this Motion which need arouse any very acute controversy. I was surprised that anyone should have thought it necessary to devote quite so much of our three day Debate as was yesterday devoted to one question. Nobody would wish to reopen that issue now, but I would like to say that my reservations with regard to this Motion, the Yalta Conference and to the White Paper have no reference whatever to the position of Poland. As far as I can 1592 see, that decision was eminently right and just and ought to be defended not as the best compromise obtainable but as very much the best thing that could happen in circumstances that were admittedly difficult. Neither do the reservations necessitate responding to the invitation by the hon. Member who opened to-day's Debate. He seemed, after making a very realistic and valuable contribution to this Debate, rather to challenge people who are critical to defend or to withdraw their past criticisms. That would be a very useless waste of our time in this Debate.
I have been, I suppose, among the critics of the Government and of the Prime Minister from time to time and I see no reason whatever to alter anything I have said on any of those occasions. Indeed, the progress of the war has served only to confirm the kind of criticism which I have thought it right to make from time to time and to support in others. But I do not think it is an attempt to avoid the issue if I reject the challenge. We and the world are less concerned with the mistakes or with what correct things were done in the conduct of this war, politically and militarily, up to this point. The question is, What happens now? Among the contributions which the Prime Minister has made to this war, and none of his critics has ever denied that he has made very great contributions and that his place in history will be a very high one indeed—the most valuable of all, and from his point of view the most difficult, is his contribution in securing real understanding and friendship between this country and Russia. I should have thought one of his very greatest services was the speech that he made immediately on the entry of Russia into the war, when so very many people might have been tempted to hesitate, to hold back or to act quite differently.
Coming to the Motion and to one or two reservations that are in my own mind, I have found in the Debate so far, particularly in the first speech this afternoon, further references to the treatment of Germany after the war, and the report of the Yalta Conference is full of it. I do not know whether it will be a very popular thing to say—I am sure it is an unusual thing to say—but I doubt very much whether the treatment of Germany after the war will have very much to do with the organisation of peace. I do not 1593 share the general feeling that all wars in the past have come about because Germans had a particular kind of mentality and that all wars in the future will be prevented if only that particular kind of mentality is re-educated somehow or other by somebody, or is hedged in by all kinds of restrictions and controls that do not apply to other people. I am not going to debate that to-day. I have felt tempted to debate it many times, but I doubt very much whether the House of Commons, at the end of a war of this kind, is really the proper place to rewrite the history of the past 50 years.
The Yalta Conference, the San Francisco Conference that is coming, and other conferences—I suppose there will be a major Peace Conference some day—will be concerned with, above all other things, the question of how the peace of the world is to be secured in the future. I am sure the overwhelming majority of common people all over the world are already satisfied that there must be a world security organisation. I only pause to reflect that, if it were true that something in the blood, or something in the nature, or something in the soul or something somewhere in the German people, as such, were alone responsible for war, nobody would be bothered about a world security organisation. It would not be necessary. If there is to be a world security organisation while providing for all those preventive measures with regard to one country it is only because it is recognised that the causes of war lie deeper than the merits or demerits of a particular race of people. I would be among the last to think with anything but impatience about these racial generalisations. I belong to a people who have suffered from them more than any other.
Now I come to the world security organisation. I cannot find anywhere in the Report or in any of the speeches any definition of what nations will be entitled to become members of the world security organisation. Are all nations to be immediately capable of membership, or are some nations not to be admitted either at all or for the time being? If some nations are not to be admitted for the time being, which are they; or if it is not possible to say which they are, what is the basis of discrimination? We ought to be told something about that. I do not belong to those who believe that there ought to be no discrimination. There 1594 ought to be discrimination, a test of qualification. No nation ought to be admitted into a world security organisation whose internal, political or economic relations are such as to offend against the common acceptation of what is right and fair. I would like to see the Great Powers upon whom the building of the world security organisation depends committing themselves to a kind of international Bill of Rights. In the Constitution of America there is a Declaration of Rights, in which it is declared that all men have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." With great moderation, its authors limited the right to the "pursuit" of happiness, not necessarily its attainment. So long as people could keep chasing it, it did not matter whether they ever caught up with it. Perhaps that was right. I would like to see that kind of attitude to individual liberty, free from any discrimination on the ground of race or creed or any other arbitrary ground, made a condition of membership of a world organisation which could only succeed on the basis of equal liberty among the nations. The notion that the individual sovereignty of nations is not to be subject to any kind of limitation either by other nations or by a common society of nations will no longer work.
I had great sympathy with what the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) said about that when he opened the Debate to-day. We cannot maintain ultimately a world security organisation which has effective power to organise the peace of the world and, at the same time, preserve the full and unfettered sovereignty of the individual member States. They must be subject to some very general—not specific at all but, nevertheless, clear—conception of justice. I would not seek to list what such requirements should be, but I am certain that some nations who will not be called to the San Francisco Conference could never qualify for membership of a world security organisation. I do not know, and I would like some. intimation if it is possible to give it, why no nation is going to be invited to the San Francisco Conference at all unless it first declares war on Germany. I do not want to use language which would be presumptuous on my part, but such a condition seems to me nonsense.
1595 If the San Francisco Conference is to be an organised conference of nations to consider how machinery of a world security organisation can be perfected, then it is very difficult to understand why, for instance, Switzerland or Sweden should not be entitled to be there. They have not declared war on Germany and presumably they would not be expected to do so for obvious reasons, yet under this condition, they would not be entitled to be there. I wonder what was the reason for it. On the other hand, if no invitation was extended to Spain under her present Government it would have the approval of almost everybody for obvious reasons, and for reasons that fall well into line with the suggestion I was making just now, that there must be a common standard of internal justice, a certain minimum level of internal civilisation, before a nation becomes entitled to come in and exercise, with others, authority over a world comity of nations. Perhaps it might be possible to say whether there is to be any test of membership, any qualification of membership, and any obligations by the member States as to their internal arrangements.
Another thing that I missed, which would be a ground for reservation in my mind, was any reference to economic co-operation between the nations. So far as I can see, there is a passing reference here in the White Paper—
§ Mr. Silverman
Very little more than that, and certainly no proposals, no examination of principles, and no indication of the basis of co-operation. There is a good deal of indication, not too much, which can be read into the White Paper about the political side of co-operation, but I suggest to my hon. Friend that if he reads the document carefully—
§ Mr. Silverman
Then we must agree to differ, if he has read it, and still differs. I cannot find in the White Paper any sufficient indication of the basis of economic co-operation. I am persuaded myself that to have a spirit, even a sincere spirit, of political co-operation and at the same time to allow nations to remain economically isolationist would result in the breakdown of the whole world organisa- 1596 tion. While it is certainly not true to say that economic causes are the only causes of war, they are the predominating causes and they are the more frequent causes. It is not merely a question of the economic conflict between nations that seems to me to be inevitable in a capitalist society, but the economic conflicts inside. Others may differ, I merely express my own view, but I feel absolutely confident that Hitler would never have been able to attain power in Germany, even in the fraudulent way in which he attained it in 1933, but for the fact that nearly 11,000,000 Germans were at that time unemployed. Adding to each of the 11,000,000 Germans unemployed, say, two dependants, we find rather more than half the German nation either unemployed or dependent on the earnings of unemployed persons. I am absolutely certain that that was the overwhelming factor in the re-rise of Nazi votes in the general elections of 1933 and 1934. I say "re-rise" because the history of the matter shows that before that the votes had been falling. I would add that we ourselves had a very great share of responsibility for that rise in unemployment, because we had in the year before, by the decisions of the Ottawa Conference, committed ourselves to a course of action that was completely inconsistent with international economic co-operation. It is not a matter that can be settled in Debate here, but it is a matter of great speculation what history will have to say when it evaluates all the causes that led to the tragic breakdown of order in the world, about what importance has to be placed upon our own endeavour to arrogate to ourselves a greater and greater share of a market continually dwindling, knowing that by doing so we inevitably caused world trade to dwindle still further.
There is nothing in the White Paper either about economic co-operation among the nations, or the imposition of such international standards of employment and standards of living as would prevent strong conflicts, prevent mass unemployment in all the member States, and prevent the kind of degradation and poverty that leads masses of people with nothing to lose to follow anybody who comes along promising better things. I am wondering how far that is due to the absence from any of these Conferences, including this final Conference, of any 1597 member of this party in the Government. I understand that the Lord President of the Council is to go to San Francisco, and I think we shall all welcome that, but that is a purely political Conference. I do not know whether it is to include any economic discussions. I hope it is, and, if it is, then it is all the more important that my right hon. Friend should go. It seems to me, however, to be one of the great lacks in all these Conferences that there has been no representation whatever of the point of view of parties who claim, and I think, rightly claim, to be the voice of the working folk of the world—no economic experts, no trade union representatives, nothing to indicate that the leaders of these three great Powers recognise that political co-operation is not enough. Unless the whole of this thing is to break down, means must be found for ending the economic rivalry between the great cartels, between individuals and classes and, certainly, the economic rivalry among nations for foreign markets. No political organisation of nations can work unless this economic cooperation is provided for. I hope, we may be told something about that, because it seems vital to any concept of the future policy of nations guaranteeing the peace of the world. Economics is at the basis of it but seems very largely to have been left out of all these matters.
Finally, there is a reference in the White Paper to the punishment of war criminals, but no reference either in the White Paper, or in any of the speeches, to the trial of war criminals. I do not know whether I am right in drawing the inference that the leaders of the nations at Yalta finally decided that any question of punishment of this kind is to be dealt with by administrative action, by political action, and not by legal or quasi-legal methods. I hope no such decision has been taken. I would attach very much more importance to the trial of international offenders by an international tribunal than I would attach to the penalty.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
I wonder if the hon. Member would allow me to interrupt him for a moment to assist him. If he is asking for information from the Government, perhaps he could ask whether there is anything sinister or significant or merely accidental in the fact that the text as published in "The Times" 1598 and, I think, most other English newspapers, spoke of bringing the war criminals to "justice and swift punishment" but the White Paper says "to just and swift punishment." What has happened to the "ice"?
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not know whether my hon. and learned Friend is suggesting that the introduction of the "ice" should necessarily involve the introduction of a tribunal?
§ Mr. Silverman
I have not noticed myself that all tribunals are so constituted. However, I think he will agree that in neither phrase is there any necessary reference to trial at all—
§ Mr. Silverman
I suppose "to bring to justice," as a technical term, would involve a trial, but I suppose that many people would regard the execution of Hitler as justice anyhow, whether there was a trial or not. Therefore, perhaps the words are not necessarily conclusive. I would like them to be made conclusive, and I repeat that I would attach very much more importance to the trial than I would to the penalty. Penalties do not matter a great deal; people die anyhow, sooner or later. The important thing is this: we have seen in the last few years crimes of horror that before were, I suppose, inconceivable to most of mankind. I think the fact that they are not prohibited by any national or international code is due to the fact that nobody ever conceived, that they could possibly take place, and yet they have taken place, and on a scale that staggers the imagination. I am not an international legal expert by any means, but I appreciate a good many of the difficulties in the way of trial. I appreciate the difficulty that arises about the acts of a sovereign State with regard to its own nationals in its own territory. I appreciate the difficulty of treating as a war crime something that was done before any war had broken out at all. There are a number of other difficulties which I do not enumerate, but which I do appreciate; there may be others of which I have not thought. But if there are any difficulties of that kind, I think they ought to be overcome.
Law, after all, is nothing but the common conscience of a society. Our own 1599 common law was never enacted by anybody; it is the measure of the common sense of the community, of what can be permitted and what cannot be permitted; what kind of act strikes at the roots of social life altogether, and what kind of act may be tolerated and dealt with by other remedies. That is not enacted, it is the common body of opinion, and the force of the State is used in order to give a sanction to the common conscience of our own people in our own land. Why cannot we have a common law of humanity, and why cannot the United Nations sanction that in exactly the same way as we do domestically within our own frontiers? To take hundreds and thousands and millions of defenceless people of all ages, of both sexes, and transport them like cattle over hundreds and thousands of miles, to annihilate them in masses, so that millions of innocent victims die—no one can ever have thought that was right; and, if our international statute book is not equal to deal with it, if it is out of date because we never conceived such horrors possible, then bring our statute book up to date and act as though it were there.
I think it is far more important that we should take this opportunity now by trial, not merely by the exercise of indiscriminate power by the victors against the vanquished. That does not do anything; but taking action now will afford the precedent which we lack so far. Do not let us any longer say that these things are inconceivable; they are not only not in-conceivable, they have happened, and they could happen again. As I say, the important thing now is for international law to be made. No one can ever have thought that the things were right and it was just as wrong to do them on 2nd September, 1939, as it was on 4th September, 1939.
I think that is all I wanted to say in this Debate. I come back to what was said by the right hon. Member for Oxford University in order not to accept his challenge with regard to entering into recriminations about the past. We ought to realise now that we are on the eve of an overwhelming victory in the most terrible and bloody war the world has ever seen. We have declared ourselves for unconditional surrender, which means that the making of the new world is our responsibility alone. I think it proper 1600 that the House should use the rest of to-day's Debate, not for purposes of the kind which have been indicated, but in order to take counsel together to see how the terrible obligations which history has laid upon our shoulders may be discharged.
§ 1.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Jewson (Great Yarmouth)
The week before last I found myself in a Persian garden where a discussion was taking place on the works of Omar Khayyam. Some of his aspirations were not very lofty, but I think all of us have shared, at one time or another, his wish to shatter to pieces the existing scheme of things, and "remould it nearer to the heart's desire." If he had been alive to-day he would have found the b existing scheme of things well and truly shattered, and he would have found also that the remoulding of it was not as simple and easy a matter as he had, perhaps, imagined it might be. I am not surprised that our representatives who are engaged in that complicated and difficult task should feel the need to receive the support of this House from time to time, when they have reached a definite stage in their labours. What we are considering to-day is whether they deserve our support or not, and I am glad to have the opportunity of placing on record a few recent experiences which, I think, are relevant to that question. I have recently been enjoying the hospitality of our great Russian Ally, and I would like to underline what the Prime Minister said on Thursday, that their hospitality is unsurpassed and might probably be said to be unequalled. I had not only the opportunity of much conversation with a great many of our Russian friends, but also of meeting representatives of a large number of other countries, and I am glad to be able to say that as a result of those contacts I formed the conclusion that whoever was handling our foreign affairs was doing a very good job.
My first contacts were in Finland, where I have had business connections for a great many years, and I was surprised and pleased to find how happily matters seemed to be going in that country, in the present somewhat difficult circumstances. That gave me a good start off. It was not long before I met a representative of the Greek nation who, so long ago as 19th January, when matters in Greece had by no means progressed to their present 1601 comparatively happy stage, assured me that our policy had been the right one, and that we should find ourselves more popular in Greece in the end than we had ever been before. I am inclined to think that what has happened during the last few weeks, and when our Prime Minister paid his last visit to that country, indicates that my friend was correct in his expectations. That seemed to have shown me that we may well have confidence in those who are handling our foreign policy.
Almost every word that could be said about the Polish question was said yesterday, and I do not want to detain the House for more than a minute or two on the subject. I have to admit that one unhappy man I did meet among the representatives of other nations was a Polish Minister, but it seemed from our conversation that his difficulties and troubles arose more from the internal dissension of his own people than from any feeling against what we had done or not done. The more I have considered this Polish question—and I do not claim to have any special knowledge—the more clear it seems to me that the Curzon Line is the correct basis for Poland's Eastern boundary. However, that is all I want to say about the frontier question. I agree that the question of freedom is very much the more important of the two, but I want to say, for the comfort of my hon. Friends who had some doubts on the matter, that I, at any rate, do not feel any doubt as to the bona fides of our Russian friends and their intentions in this matter. It is often very difficult for us to discover what a Russian is really thinking. It may be difficult at times to obtain from the Russians a decision about a matter—I do not know—but I am confident that not only are they extremely friendly towards us, but that when they have given a decision they will stand by it through thick and thin. I think we may take that for our comfort. It is true, of course, that in dealing with people who speak another language, and have another viewpoint, you must be careful to see that the words you use have the same meaning to them as they have to you, but I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary needs no advice from me on so elementary a point as that.
I was surprised and extremely pleased and proud to find the way in which the small nations with whom I had contact 1602 looked up to our country, and expected very much from us. My mind went back to Nelson's famous words:England expects every man to do his duty this day,because that is the way in which all these small nations seemed to me to be looking to England. They certainly expected us to do our duty by them, and see that they are properly treated in the world. I was obliged to point out that we cannot, with the best will in the world, police the whole world by ourselves. One reason why I am glad to support the Motion is because I am convinced that the future of the world and the small nations depends so much on the continued co-operation of our two great Allies with us. The Crimea Report marks a definite advance towards obtaining that co-operation in future. The only other thing I want to say about it is how glad I am to see the opportunities that are offered to France, a country for which I have great affection, and also to China, for whose people I have very great respect. I shall, therefore, have no hesitation—indeed, it will be a pleasure—in voting for the Motion before the House, which, I hope, will be carried unanimously.
§ 1.40 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I have listened to a considerable amount of the Debate since the Yalta Agreement was explained, by the Prime Minister, and I am becoming more and more aware of the difficulties which are appearing from many sources, and of decisions being arrived at that are not notified to this House or the country. I see this morning, in the newspapers, a statement that one of the decisions of the Crimea Conference was that Russia, France, the United States and ourselves are to have the over-lordship of certain territories in Germany when the war has been won. This newspaper says that there are smaller nations who are asking that they should have a share in the administration of German territory. If we bring in the Chinese, the Indians, the Dutch, the Belgians, and the Colonial peoples we are going to have a very fine set-up in Germany after the war. That country, we are told, is to be administered for a period of 50 years, which may have been an exaggeration or an under-estimation.
I do not require to give sympathy to the German people. If they are to have 1603 no armaments and are to be completely deprived of an opportunity of building up any form of military rule and caste they will be able to sit back and enjoy seeing the stranglehold that the destruction of Nazi power has imposed on the rest of the successful nations of the world. They will see us with permanent conscription, and with tremendous air and naval fleets, and the training of young men in this country, as envisaged by those who have power at the moment, as the inheritance of the struggle for democracy and freedom. Eventually, it may be that the German people will be the only ones who will enjoy complete immunity from military service and the overbearing weight of armaments that will be imposed on the successful Powers. I do not suppose anybody worries about the fate of the Nazi leaders. According to to-day's newspapers, I see that they are threatening to die at the Front. Well, most of those who threaten to die very often live as long as they can, but if they do die at the Front it will be more than can be said for some of the politicians of this country. They allow other people to die while they accept responsibility and enjoy the benefits of a democratic system—
§ Vice- Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
I do not think that that should be allowed to pass. Many Members of this House have served their country in the Armed Forces, and are serving now. It is a gross insult to Members of this House.
§ Mr. McGovern
I do not want to prevent the hon. and gallant Member from interrupting, but I say that in every war those who have encouraged young men to fight have themselves enjoyed immunity from the struggle. I have never seen the Cabinet battalions, the bishops' battalions, the landlords' battalions and the bankers' battalions going to the Front. All I have seen are the miners' battalions, the artisans' battalions, the shopkeepers' battalions, and the warehouse workers' battalions going to the Front, in order to defend other people's rights and privileges.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
Do not forget that they were working in London all through the bombing.
§ Mr. McGovern
There is a general assumption that the destruction of the Nazi power involves the complete destruction of the military power and the power for evil of the nation. That is not true, because Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess and the others could not have come to power if it had not been for the financial backing of the bankers, the large landowners and the big industrialists. The evil power that has been wielded behind the set-up of Nazi gangsterdom is the power behind the scenes which no Yalta Conference has decided to deal with. Therefore, we are only deluding the people of the world if we try to make them believe that, with the removal of the Nazi gangsters, we are preventing anything in the nature of war. If we had been anxious to outlaw war and to root it out entirely we should have taken over the large landed estates of the Junker class and distributed them either for communal purposes or for the peasants. We should have gone right into all the industrial establishments, taken them out of the hands of the industrialists and turned their arms into ploughshares. We should have manufactured and supervised the production of articles for use in peace time as against war, and we should have rooted out entirely the system which makes for war.
The thing that has produced this war is economic development and growth in Germany and Japan. These newer Powers came on the scene, ranged themselves into Fascist or Nazi camps and set out by terror and discipline to mobilise their peoples in order to challenge the older Powers which are dominating the world to-day—dominating markets and enslaving colonial peoples. The Germans have tried to profit by the experience of the British, American, French and Dutch ruling classes in emulating the methods that they found eminently successful in building up Empires, and therefore the challenge came from this military caste in Germany backed by all the vested interests of the country, who hoped for a share in the products and in the slave labour of the world, hoped to amass wealth, as the British, American, French and Dutch ruling classes amassed it out of the exploitation, the degradation and the misery of the poor. There is no suggestion in this plan that we are going to take this land and these industries out of the hands of these individuals, who are the villains of the 1605 piece. I do not mean individually. Individually people can be kind, but collectively, by the operation of the system, they can be very cruel. By the operation of that system they have brought their own nation to ruin and degradation.
I have always been tremendously opposed to the idea that war is the product of the mentality of a few individuals. It is a lifetime growth of ideas of education, of economic necessity and of the need for expansion. War does not occur because a few individuals are either maniacs or demented people. They see the necessity of war to enlarge their spheres of influence, their territory or opportunities of exploitation. When we say to the mass of the German people, "You are responsible for this war," that is something that I honestly and openly attack, because the German people are the victims of circumstances, as the workers in every country are the victims of circumstances. One of their greatest mistakes was in not getting rid of the capitalist system before Hitler ever came to power. If they had done that, war would have been averted entirely. There are many in this country who think that no one has a right to have any point of view except that expressed by the Prime Minister. The "Daily Worker" talks about the I.L.P. lap dogs of Hitler. That comes very ill from a newspaper which was suppressed because of its traitorous activities and from people who are living on the threshold of the Isle of Man or of Brixton Prison because of their backing of Hitler until Russia came into the war. They talked glibly, and with the Union Jack and the Hammer and Sickle over them in 1940 they regarded themselves as 100 per cent. patriots. I do not mind any one having a different point of view from mine and holding it strongly, and crossing swords with me, but I object to them saying that we are all Fascists because we dare to cross swords with the Prime Minister in carrying out the agreement.
I am asked to subscribe to the theory that the German people have got to pay. I hear more expressions of human sympathy with the German people in the tremendous bombing that they are having to undergo than ever I thought I should hear. I hear some of the most rabid supporters of the war expressing pity for the poor people who are going through these long days and nights of terror and horror 1606 and, if they have got to pay for their support of Hitler, in my estimation they are paying a very high price indeed. It should be a lesson for us not to be so enthusiastically behind the Fuehrers in this country. I refuse to accept the theory that the German people have to pay. They have a whole continent, so to speak, to rebuild after the bombing and misery which have been enacted by the war and, if they are to rebuild their own nation in a reasonable time to provide habitations and employment for themselves, they have a task that I do not envy them. If, in addition to their other burdens, the miners of the Ruhr and the dock and factory workers are to be compelled to pay toll to the other nations of the world because of their responsibility for the war, to my mind even Russia should be expected to pay because she had a certain responsibility for the war. The Foreign Secretary said yesterday that, if the free nations had been together, there would have been no war.
I am not going to vote for any plan which is going to put fresh burdens on the German people, who are the victims of circumstances. If the document had said: "We are prepared to see that no armaments and no military associations are developed and that Germany is completely freed from gangster rule and there is a thoroughly democratic rule set up under supervision," I would subscribe to it. I am not going to be a party to a plan for demanding reparations in kind which will mean that Scottish, South Wales, Derbyshire and Yorkshire miners will be kept idle while the Germans will be pouring out coal. I am not supporting any policy which will enslave the German working class and make them responsible for the rise of Hitler to power when the ruling class in this country and France did more to help him to rise to power than did the German working class. The desire to destroy German industry is the desire of the large business houses of America and this country to cash in on the shortage in the world's markets. They are out to destroy and penalise every competitor and to clear the field for themselves in order to make tremendous profits out of the situation.
There is the further question of Poland, which was debated yesterday. One Member said that we are not going to return to it to-day, but I will say a few words about it. We are told that we must not, 1607 on any occasion, doubt the word of Marshal Stalin, or the word of the Prime Minister, or the word of the President of the United States. This is not, however, a mutual admiration society; we are not collected here to pass compliments to one another. Members of the House can talk as glibly as they like on the Floor or in the Press, but the great bulk of opinion in this country does not believe that the Polish plan will be carried out in a decent and democratic manner. I would be enthusiastic if there were a coming-together of Russia, Poland, Germany and France and if they were prepared to work with one another in a decent atmosphere, but, with the deportation of millions of Poles, and the putting to death of a large number of Polish politicians and trade union leaders, and of every individual who does not subscribe to the totalitarian ideas of Marshal Stalin, I have grave doubts about the carrying out of this democratic plebiscite. I have seen these democratic plebiscites carried out before. I have also seen attempts made from time to time to involve people in a decision which is made to appear as if unity prevails. A plan is decided upon before you get to the meeting, and everybody has to be black-balled into submission or dubbed as traitors or dishonest.
I am a person who does not mind the attacks that will come on me, because I always remember this and take consolation from it. At one time the right hon. Gentleman the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leaders of the Labour Party were on the show-grounds of Moscow and other Russian cities, and the people threw balls at them as the social Fascists of Great Britain.
§ Mr. McGovern
Not in person. The right hon. Gentleman was there, but he did not know it. He was an effigy. That was at the time when the Communist Party wandered into the Labour Party and tried to catch them. At that time they had these figures in the show-grounds in Moscow, and the children were taught to make dollies of the British Labour and trade union leaders, who were regarded as the social Fascists of Great Britain and Hitler's pals. I see these changes taking place. Now they want to woo you. It is 1608 a change of tactics, just as Stalin's approach to the Polish issue is a change of tactics. The Prime Minister and the President of the United States would not admit that they were compelled to accept the decision because their pride would not let them do otherwise. The fact is, however, that they found an accomplished fact in Poland. Marshal Stalin had created the Lublin Committee, and he backs it every inch of the way, because it is his Committee and his Government. He created it and he is determined that it will operate. There will be further deportations and murders until he carries his way in the plebiscite. I wish it were otherwise, but I cannot see it as anything other than that. Members talk of the great foundation that has been laid in the great unity of the three Allies which is to operate for 25 years. They are not realists in talking in that way. They are only "kidding" themselves, but they are not "kidding" thinking men and women, who know that the great Powers are all preparing to get the mastery of each other economically and militarily for the time when it arrives.
This Yalta Agreement is more important for the things it does not say, than for the things it does say. It presents, like the Atlantic Charter and the Teheran decisions, a jumble of words with no meaning or reality to any individual who is politically honest. If Members think otherwise, although they are quite honest about it, they are badly deluded. The Yalta Conference did not face the position. As a Socialist, I maintain that war is brought about by the rival antagonisms, both financial and industrial, of the ruling classes of each country. You will have shed the blood of millions of people, you will have destroyed millions of homes and broken hundreds of thousands of hearts in every country, but unless you lay low that economic and financial power which causes war, then a further outbreak will take place as the next rival rises up, too powerful for the present combination. I condemn the Yalta Agreement as being only a hypocritical declaration that has no real foundation of any kind.
§ 2.7 p.m.
§ Major-General Sir Edward Spears (Carlisle)
Like other speakers to-day, I would like to say a few words about the Polish question because I imagine that my case is that of many other speakers yes- 1609 terday. The question that I put to myself is this: Was the Agreement arrived at at Yalta in conformity with the principles upon which this war is being fought? That is the question I imagine many other Members put to themselves. Having heard the Prime Minister, I came to the conclusion that he, at any rate, was convinced that that was so. I was prepared to accept that, and to support him; if I had not felt that, not even a six-line Whip would have made me vote for the Government.
I regret one thing in the Yalta Conference very much, and that is that so much has been laid upon the Ambassadors' Conference. I have the highest opinion of our Ambassador in Moscow. I think he is one of the finest men in the service—
§ Sir E. Spears
I have a hideous memory of a similar conference that took place in Berlin after Munich where we were represented by an Ambassador, and I think the teaching of history ought not to be so lightly disregarded. I have been reading a book which I think that all Members would do well to study. It is Mr. Sumner Wells' book, "The Time for Decision." This book shows clearly that all the evil effects which flowed from the last Peace Conference were due to the abandonment of the high principles which had inspired millions of people to bear the burdens of a terrible war. Expediency took the place of principles, the masses lost faith in the peace settlement, and another war became inevitable. For this reason I was frankly horrified by what was said by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) yesterday. He put forward the view that foreign affairs must, inevitably, be governed by expediency alone, and he appeared to accept that fact. If that is the view of the Labour Opposition, they are doomed, and rightly doomed. It is not only incredibly sordid, but terribly disappointing.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton, West)
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman allege that the Yalta Agreement has been primarily reached through morality rather than expediency?
§ Sir E. Spears
I have just attempted to explain that, all things considered, and taking the facts as they were, the moral basis upon which this war has been fought is the basis of the Yalta Agreement. To say that expediency alone governs foreign affairs is to accept Hitler's principles and the principles of "Mein Kampf." I was horrified to hear those principles put forward here yesterday.
I should like now to turn to a subject which interests me most, and which I know best, namely, the Middle East. Several Members yesterday touched upon the question of the Levant. I happen to have spent most of the war years in that part of the world, and the one thing about which I became convinced was the vital importance of the Middle East to the British Empire. I also became convinced that the situation there has been entirely changed since the last war. The Arabs have come of age. They can no longer be dictated to, nor can they be told by the Western Powers what is good for them. Since my return, I have attempted to explain these things to the public. The visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Cairo and their meeting with Arab leaders have thrown a vivid light on the importance of the Middle East to the world. I am certain that after his talks with the Arab leaders, the Prime Minister must have been made aware of the new spirit of which I have spoken. He must have been made aware of another thing—the deep friendship of the Arab people for the people of this country.
I was very glad to hear the Prime Minister state clearly his support of Syrian and Lebanese independence, but I share to some extent the anxiety of some previous speakers concerning the Government's attitude on this subject. To proclaim, as I understood the Prime Minister to proclaim, that we will not use force to safeguard the promise of independence we gave to the Levant States, is, surely, dangerous. I would have thought that the best way of ensuring our being placed in a very difficult position, was to make a statement of that kind. It places us in an awkward and not very honest position. When the British people have given a promise, surely there can be no alternative but to fulfil that promise to the best of our ability, using whatever means of doing so may be necessary, not 1611 necessarily using force, but not excluding such force as may be necessary to carry out our undertakings.
§ Mr. Hammersley (Willesden, East)
Against whom is the hon. and gallant Member suggesting that we should use force?
§ Sir E. Spears
I would say: Use force against anybody, anything, any person who may violate the undertaking that we have given in that part of the world. If the hon. Gentleman will be patient, I will, in a minute or two, give an example of what I have in mind.
The Prime Minister told us that he would like to see the French have a privileged position in the Levant States. He also told us that the United States and Russia were opposed to the French having such a position. What he did not say was what are the views of Syria and Lebanon in this matter. I cannot believe that the Syrian President left the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in any doubt about the views of the local people on the subject, and surely the point of view of the local people, the people chiefly concerned in a matter of this kind, is of more importance, even than that of the United States or of Russia or ourselves. I found this omission to take into account the point of view of Syria and the Lebanon, particularly surprising, if I may say so, in a signatory of the Atlantic Charter.
I would like to ask a question of whoever is to reply for the Government. The Prime Minister told us that he and the Foreign Secretary had seen the Syrian President with a view to calming things down in the Levant. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and the Government representatives here are no doubt aware that while the President of the Syrian Republic was seeing our Prime Minister in Cairo, the French authorities were sending local troops, that is troupes speciales under their command, to prevent the Syrian gendarmerie from restoring order in the Alaouite country in North Syria, where a gendarmerie post had been surrounded and attacked by the armed followers of a local bandit, named Suliman Mushid, well-known in the Middle East—a man who has a private army of his own, and who, unfortunately, has always enjoyed French support.
1612 When the gendarmerie post was surrounded by these bandits, the Syrians sent reinforcements of more gendarmes. Those gendarmes had the situation well in hand when the troops under French command arrived and drove away the gendarmes. My question is this: As these troupes speciales are under British operational command, how is it possible that they can be employed by the French against the forces of law and order in Syria? I should also like to ask, if I may, whether members of our Government took the opportunity of the visit of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs here recently, to point out to him that such incidents are little calculated to reduce tension in Syria, or to produce the friendly attitude towards the French, which the Prime Minister told us he and the Foreign Secretary enjoined on the Syrian President.
I would like to say something, very shortly, I hope, about what I believe to be a possible solution of the situation in the Middle East. It is only an outline, but it may be useful for further consideration. I suggest that in the first place we should support the complete independence of the Arab States, and support the new Arab League. I submit that we should create a Middle-Eastern Council, on which Russia, the United States, France and ourselves should be represented. I think the headquarters of this Council might well be at Jerusalem, as that city is likely to have international status for a long time. But the Council should, I think, meet in all the Middle-Eastern capitals in turn. The Council should take over the trusteeship of Palestine. The Council, and this is my main point, should be responsible for co-ordinating the relationship of the Member Powers on Middle East matters towards each other, and towards the Middle East States. It should provide such technical advice and help as the Middle East States may ask for. It should take over the remaining activities of the Middle East Supply Council. It would be responsible for the security of the whole area against outside threat. It would make, with the Arab States, or with the Arab League as a whole, such arrangements as may be necessary, within the framework of whatever security system may be set up after the war. In view of the preponderating interests of this country, I think the 1613 chairman would inevitably have to be British.
Lastly, I have been long convinced that our own relations with the Middle East require co-ordination. At present, part of the Middle East is dealt with by the India Office, the Colonial Office, and the Foreign Office, not to speak of many other Departments, such as the Ministry of War Transport. Our policy has greatly suffered as a result. The Middle East is so important to us that we should have a Minister of Cabinet rank, whose duty it would be to co-ordinate our policy for the whole area. It is only comparatively recently that we have divided the Department of the Colonies from that of the Dominions—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
Surely my hon. and gallant Friend is incorrect in saying that the India Office has this power. Surely the India Office now has no constitutional responsibilities in the Middle East.
§ Sir E. Spears
Constitutionally, no. But there is a survival of a good many old functions in the Persian Gulf, perhaps not constitutionally. I am certain that we really require a separate Department for dealing with that part of the world, which is almost as important to us as our own Dominions. I look upon our position in the Middle East as vital to the prosperity and safety of the Empire. We cannot go on organising our relations with so important a part of the world in a series of more or less water-tight compartments.
My final word is this: We have a great opportunity in the Middle East, greater than ever before. Our stock has never been so high. Interest, duty and honour alike enjoin us to take advantage of a position which we cannot abandon without breaking faith with people who trust us, and who are, themselves, the soul of honour.
§ 2.28 p.m.
§ The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I do not intend to detain the House at any great length, and my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken will perhaps excuse me if I do not deal with the specific points he raised. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be intervening later to deal with specific points. I am glad that to-day the Debate has been brought to the broader aspect of the White Paper. The junior 1614 Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), who has a very great and almost unrivalled experience of international conferences and organisations, made a very thoughtful and very well-informed speech, and I was glad to find that he thought the work at Yalta had been well done. I rejoice very much that there should be such general acceptance of those views. The exception is the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), who performs the function on occasions of indicating the general solidarity on public matters in this House. I was a little surprised at the hon. Member rather stressing the point of how foreign affairs should be conducted. Our foreign affairs are carried on by the Foreign Secretary. Sometimes, the Prime Minister intervenes, sometimes other Ministers, but I assure him that major decisions on foreign policy, all important decisions, are decisions taken after due consideration by the War Cabinet. I think it is important to remember that.
This House is very fortunate in having Members who are expert on almost every subject that comes up. We had the Junior Burgess the Member for Oxford University; then my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Sir A. Heneage), who was able to give us his personal experiences of what it meant to be on the Control Commission in Germany; then my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Jewson), fresh back from Russia, who could tell Members what Russia looked like, instead of merely having to depend upon imagination or distant memories; and then we had my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir E. Spears), fresh back from the Middle East.
I am glad that to-day we are getting on to the main question, which has been diverted by the Polish question. It is natural that we should have devoted a great deal of attention to the Polish question. That is a subject that arouses very much sympathy; very much pity. I do not want to add much to what has been said but I would like to say a word because I have very many close friends among the Poles. I have visited the Polish troops, both in their training camps and in the line in Italy; and I have personal friends in various parties, and indeed among members, who think as I do on most subjects, of the London Polish Government. I am not unacquainted with the history of Poland, and I have a great 1615 admiration for the qualities of the Polish people, but I cannot say that political wisdom is an outstanding quality among them. I have pleaded very often with my friends on these matters, and I have, to my sorrow, seen chance after chance lost. I have seen the position getting worse and worse. I have begged my friends to remember their place in the world as neighbours of the Russians; and we have to take into account our neighbours in this world. Some I have seen take a realist view; others, I think, take an ultra-romantic view.
I recall very well receiving a card this Christmas from one of my Polish friends. It was rather characteristic. It consisted of a map of Poland in the 17th century. It is this tragic harking back by so many peoples of Central and South-Eastern Europe into the past, instead of looking to the future, that makes the establishment of permanent peace so difficult. I noticed in the Debate yesterday, and indeed in all Debates on frontiers, that Members tend to be too historical, and everyone has his particular year from which he likes to start the argument. I want to see this Polish question in the general picture of Yalta, because we have to think of what the statesmen gathered there had to do. They had two preoccupations; one with the present, the winning of the war, and the second with the future, the winning of the peace. Those two things are much more important than the past.
§ Captain Cobb (Preston)
But my right hon. Friend will agree that they also had a very great concern with the maintenance of British honour.
§ Mr. Attlee
I quite agree—the maintenance of British honour in the past, the present and the future. But it is not useful to encourage claims on the past. My hon. Friends so often beg the question, because they assume exactly what the point of honour is, which they often base on the principle of regarding as sacrosanct some particular arrangement at some particular point of time that happens to suit their particular point of view. I suggest that that is not really useful.
Could my right hon. Friend explain what right the Lublin Committee had to decide anything as regards Poland?
§ Mr. Attlee
The Lublin Committee does not enter into it at all. We have not recognised the Lublin Committee. I was not dealing with the Lublin Committee: I was dealing with certain points of the past. We have to look at these things from the point of view of the future of the peoples of Europe. Over all these countries the storms of the past have gone. You have to try to unravel a tangle that has grown up through the 18th century. We ought to appreciate the magnitude of the storm that has now passed over Europe, killing millions of people, wrecking the lives of people; with 5,500,000 Jews or more done to death; Poles killed; many people, workers of various States, carried off from their homes; homes wrecked by war; Germans deported by their own Government from some places; Germans driven out by Russian armies. There have been unprecedented movements of population. The same thing has occurred in other places in Europe. You have an immense area of disturbance. You have to try to see how that is going to settle down in the future. I suggest that we should not always be thinking that it must necessarily settle down into the position of the past. One thing is quite certain. If you ask who is responsible for these movements, this terrible thing that has smitten Europe, there is no doubt at all that it is the Nazi rulers of Germany, and the people of Germany who actively supported them, and, in a lesser degree, those who have acquiesced, and who have been quite satisfied as long as things went well. I do not suggest that you can draw an indictment against a. whole people, but neither can you relieve of responsibility a whole people.
§ Mr. Silverman
Who can be relieved of responsibility for that? Did not all Europe acquiesce for six years?
§ Mr. Attlee
I really do not think so. I recognise the generosity of the hon. Member: I realise how he feels on this subject; but I do not think it is reasonable or right to suggest that the responsibility here is at all equal. I think it lies quite definitely on the Nazi leaders. Nor do I believe that the Nazi leaders are just the tools of some wonderful form of secret capitalist organisation. I believe that the German capitalists were in it; whether they were the tools of Hitler, or Hitler the tool of them—which befooling which—I do not know. You have to recognise 1617 fairly and squarely that this terrible thing which has come upon Europe is the responsibility of the German leaders and of the German people—and I am afraid that there are a great many who accepted those ideals. They have broken down the old barriers, and therefore I say that they cannot appeal to the old Europe. If they have to yield, to make restitution, they are not entitled to appeal on the basis of the moral laws that they have disregarded or the pity and mercy that they have never extended to any others. I do not believe in treating them as they have treated other people, but I cannot admit that they have a claim to appeal to rights and moral principles which they have utterly disregarded.
Therefore, if it is necessary to take some German soil, to make it up to the entirely innocent Dutch people who have seen their land destroyed, I shall not complain; if it is found necessary to take certain areas in order to enable the Polish people to lead a free, full life, I shall not complain—and I do not think that the Germans have a right to complain. I shall judge all these changes, not by whether they fit into past history or whether they are performing an act of revenge, but entirely as to whether they will make for a peaceful Europe in future. The shifting of population at the present time may be very, very painful, but it may be far better than a long drawn out sore of populations under peoples whom they hate. It may be that a single adjustment will be better. It is therefore precisely here that, I think, we can see the importance of the conclusions of the Crimea Conference.
If we look at Europe, looking backwards to the past, we see a whole congeries of armed States competing with each other, anxiously looking to see whether they are going to be attacked, or looking possibly for opportunities for attack. We ought to try to look forward to a Europe which, free from the fear of war and secure, will consist of citizen States living peacefully together, developing the arts of peace, and not perpetually trying to make war against each other. Therefore, I say that these difficulties of adjustment are far less when you look at them in the light of a world organisation. I hope that the San Francisco Conference will result in the establishment of a system of security, under which the nations of Europe may at long last settle 1618 down and live together. It is necessary to get the section dealing with Poland into its right perspective in the White Paper. It is one of the many problems which we must deal with if we are to have an established peace.
I say the same on the question of settling on an interim Polish Government. Some people seem to think it is very easy to get interim Governments, fully representative of all people, although those countries have been swept by war and occupation. Believe me, it is extremely difficult. Even the technical constitutionality of the existing Government does not always carry you through. Governments in exile change their membership. They become more or less representative as time goes on. I claim that it can be shown, in the dealings of this Government, that in every influence we have been able to bring to bear we have steadily striven to get the Governments with whom we are in contact, the Governments in exile, more and more broadly based. It is not so very easy. The Government which came out of Greece was not a democratic Government; it gradually grew, and we took the utmost pains to get it as fully representative as possible, by getting people from the resistance movements into it.
The Royal Yugoslav Government was not a very democratic one, and we have been working hard to get that Government together with the men who are fighting with Tito. The Italian Government we had to deal with first consisted of the King and some officers. There we have a Government representative of various political parties, and the House will see that even the French Committee, during its forced stay in this country, became gradually more and more representative. I claim that we have a good record there, but the House should remember that, when you have done all that, you have only got a Government which is as representative as you can get, until you can get free, fair and full elections. That is what we are working for, but we know, from our own experience in war conditions, that it is not easy to get full, free and fair elections.
Not very much has been said in this Debate, so far, on the central problem of Europe—the German people. We hope that, at some time in the future, the German people may re-enter the comity of 1619 nations, but it is idle to think that the process of converting the German people from the barbarities into which they have sunk to civilisation, is not going to take a long time. It is perfectly useless for someone like the hop. Member for Shettleston to talk of masses of German workers all trying to get back to democracy It is not true. Unfortunately, the younger generation of the German people have been perverted by the Nazis, and anyone with knowledge of the care of the young will know that it is very difficult to repair that. We cannot afford to run risks. We have to be quite sure that Germany is not only beaten, but that Germany knows that she is beaten, and that Germany is prevented from re-arming and being a menace once more. I hope that, in due time, we shall find the new Germany arising, but I say I am not optimistic and that it is going to take a long time. The country has been so flattened down during the years of Nazi rule that, so far as I can see, it is difficult to find where the springs of a new German life are coming from. We hold out the hope to the German people that they will, in time, regain the position they have lost, but we shall have to look very closely to see that a change of heart is genuine. I was interested in what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) said about the punishment of war criminals. It is a difficult subject. I rather disagree with him when he said that punishment did not matter very much and that he thought much more of the trial. Of course, my hon. Friend is a lawyer. Perhaps he is taking the trial and perhaps I may be the criminal?
§ Mr. Silverman
I am sure my right hon. Friend would not wish to belittle the point I was trying to make. I was trying to distinguish between a penalty inflicted merely by the exercise of force, which can be exercised against anybody in their discretion, and the enactment now of something which will raise these matters above the level of victor and vanquished. Is not that more important than the penalty?
§ Mr. Attlee
I quite understand the position, but my hon. Friend knows quite well the difficulty. Where these laws infringe against some definite code, that is one thing, but, unfortunately, the world has been without a code which could be enforced in these matters. It is the in- 1620 tention of the three Great Powers to help the Germans on the road to peace by removing the means to do evil. We have heard something on the question whether we can disarm Germany. That is a technical matter—the question of what we can do with the industries. You have not merely to destroy so many rifles, guns, bombs, or whatever it may be, but to prevent the growth of a war potential, and that is a technical matter. You must do that without destroying the industries on which the Germans must live, but you cannot allow again a war potential to grow.
I rejoice very much that, in this White Paper, we have the resolve to establish a general organisation to maintain peace and security and to remove the causes of war. I think this is almost the first time that I have been able to speak on behalf of that great principle from this side of the Table, but I am afraid I have bored hon. Members of the House very often by insisting, in season and out of season, on my belief in the principle of collective security. I, many times, proclaimed my faith. I believe that it is only by the adoption of this principle that we can prevent war, and that we can reduce the overhead burden of armaments and build up the prosperity of the world. I hope to go to the San Francisco Conference as an idealist, but not, as what I believe is called a "starry-eyed idealist," because I have always held that international co-operation for the prevention of war, the provision of the means of preventing aggression and the acceptance of the obligations imposed by the implementation of this policy is not "starry-eyed idealism," but cold common sense. I believe that our determination to do this is as sensible and practical as the determination of a town council to form and maintain a police force. I have for many years believed that that is a condition precedent to a tolerable existence for the peace-loving nations, and I believe, even more to-day, in view of the development of weapons that we have seen in this war, that it is an essential condition for the survival of civilisation. I believe that, at San Francisco, we shall be taking part in a Conference that may well determine the future of mankind for centuries. We have learned in this war how easy it is to see a great nation lapse into total barbarism, and we have seen in the past 1621 civilisations perish, and, unless we can manage our affairs better than we have done in the last 20 years, there is no reason to think that our civilisation will not perish also.
I have dealt with only one or two points, but, behind it all, we are considering these policies and working for these policies for the prevention of want as well as the prevention of fear. These policies must grow up, because a police force is no good without a reasonable standard of life for the people protected by it. I gather that we are likely to come to a Division. I hope that it is going to demonstrate an overwhelming majority behind the proposals of this Conference. I would like to remind hon. Members that this Parliament has lasted for nearly 10 years. It is sometimes suggested that it has outlived its mandate. It is, therefore, worth recalling the occasion when this Parliament was elected, not for the sake of raising any old troubles, but to recall that the leaders of all the main parties went to the country definitely in support of the principles of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Therefore, this old Parliament may have a chance of redeeming the promises that were made it its christening.
I should like to regard the acceptance by this House of this Motion as a step in the achievement of a unity of policy in foreign affairs and defence, and a unity of purpose, common to all major political parties in this country—a policy of world organisation for peace, and for cooperation in the activities of peace, and a purpose and resolve by all of us not to give lip service only but to accept wholeheartedly the obligations which this policy entails. It may well be that, in the immediate years after the war, people will flag, that there will be signs of weariness, a tendency to relax and an idea that the burdens we have accepted are intolerably heavy. They are nothing like so heavy as the burdens that we have had to accept because we would not take the obligation in support of the principles of collective security embodied in the League of Nations, now, I hope, again to be embodied in the international law of the civilised world.
§ 2.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
As the House is aware, I represent a minority view here, and it is just as well that it 1622 should be put in the very short time at my disposal. I hope my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, will forgive my saying that I agree with a great deal of what he said, and the only comment I make to him is that, if our Labour Party had never joined the Coalition, he might well be delivering the very speech that I am now about to deliver. I have listened to the whole of this Debate, and I had better say how it has affected me. I do not want to dwell unduly on Poland, but hon. Members have dealt with only the Eastern side of Poland; I want to say something about the Western side. As it happens, I have been in Danzig, the Corridor, Silesia and Poland and know just a little about that part of the world.
The first thing I want to say about the Polish question is this. I was really amazed yesterday at what came from the Foreign Secretary about the Polish situation. The right hon. Gentleman said—if hon. Members will be quiet, they will hear me better—that Poland was, in effect, a ramshackle State in 1939. How on earth came it about, therefore, that the British Government could give a promise to defend the independence of a ramshackle State like that? The second thing that astonished me was—and I am sure the people of this country have been deceived in regard to Poland—that the only guarantee we gave for its independence was in the event of an attack on Poland by Germany. It did not matter if Russia, or any other Power, apparently, attacked her. It was, in effect, and I hope I am not being too biased, an invitation to Poland to stand up to Germany in order that we might make war on Germany. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary made another statement that, generally, the avowed policy of this country for centuries was that no great Power should be allowed to rise in Europe to challenge the liberty of the peoples of this Continent. If that is our policy, let me say that the next generation in this country will have to be prepared for a war on Russia, because it will be the next State to be involved in that policy of balance of power.
That is an awful state of affairs, and I do not like the situation at all. If my right hon. Friend—and I hope he does not mind my reminding him—looks up his own speeches delivered before the outbreak of this war and before our party joined the Coalition, he will find that they 1623 do not tally with some of the statements he has made to-day. That is one thing about Coalition Governments, and I am not blaming him personally. One of the results of a Coalition, to be quite blunt, is that members of all parties soil their political shirts, and their collars and ties as well by joining it.
Let me now turn to the Western side of Poland; this is the one thing that puzzles me in the Crimea Declaration. If it is the policy of the Allied Powers to hand over Danzig and East Prussia and other patches of Germany to Poland, to establish a new State by giving patches of Poland to Russia on the other side, do they imagine for a moment that they are likely to establish a durable peace in Europe? If they think that they cannot really be called three big men, we might as well christen them three blind mice instead. Does my right hon. Friend and his colleagues imagine for one moment that millions of Germans will live in peace under the control of the Poles? My right hon. Friend shakes his head. I know his answer, it is that the Germans have left those territories already; have evacuated them. Supposing the people of Wales and Scotland were compulsorily evacuated to England and left their schools, institutions and the graves of their people behind them, does my right hon. Friend imagine that they would be satisfied and would not desire to return to their native country? That is human nature.
§ Mr. Attlee
I do not think that my hon. Friend is quite right there. There is a little piece of Flintshire which is detached and I do not think that there would be serious trouble if we moved those people from Wales.
§ Mr. Davies
My right hon. Friend had better try it on and see what would happen. I think that all Members of this House, whatever their views upon the war may be, are looking forward to something more hopeful for mankind emerging from the San Francisco Conference. I put a Question on the Order Paper to-day to find out how many representatives would be sent to that Conference on world organisation, and I received the reply that there would be four from this country; I do not know how many from the U.S.S.R., the United States and China. I understand that Russia has a new tech- 1624 nique; she has established 17 separate Republics. Yes, that was given in an answer to a Question of mine some time ago. From within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics there may be 17 separate delegations to any world organisation on peace.
§ Mr. Attlee
I know that my hon. Friend does not want to give a mistaken impression. That is an entirely false statement. There is no suggestion that there are 17 different Republics.
§ Mr. Davies
I am glad to have that assurance from my right hon. Friend. I can read English as well as most people, but I cannot make sense of what the right hon. Gentleman replied to me to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] I asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,If he will state the basis of representation and the number of delegates who will attend at the General International Organisation as envisaged at Dumbarton Oaks, of the British Empire, the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R. and China, respectively.China was not even mentioned at Yalta, by the way. This is the answer, and my hon. Friends can see what they can make of it:As far as His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is concerned, this matter is under consideration, but I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by the Prime Minister on this subject in the Debate on 27th February, as regards the chief representatives of His Majesty's Government at the Conference. I cannot, of course, speak for the Governments of the other countries mentioned," —That is exactly what I wanted to know—but hon. Members will have seen the announcement made by President Roosevelt on 13th February on the subject of the composition of the United States Delegation.I am not at any rate any the wiser after reading that answer. I would ask the House to remember two or three things that happened at the end of the last war. I suppose that everybody here remembers what happened then; and when the right hon. Gentleman talks about punishing war criminals I am reminded of what I have said before. I remember my wife and me standing outside the mansion at Doom where the late Kaiser we were going to hang was living a life of luxury, and I said to her: "I would not mind hanging out here for 20 years." All this about trying war criminals is sheer propaganda. They know that they will not try war criminals. Where is Hess, who landed here several years ago?
§ Mr. Davies
Whatever views may be held about the war—and there are many—one thing is certain. This war does not differ in its progress from any other war—there have been over 500 wars waged in the course of history—and we started this war with great motives and high ideals. We published the Atlantic Charter and then spat on it, stamped on it and burnt it, as it were, at the stake, and now nothing is left of it. Hon. Members know that very well and I want once more to enter a protest. If I were the only person in this House to lay down this dictum, I would say that those few who make quarrels between the nations ought to do their own fighting. That used to be the case once upon a time. I am in a minority here, I know, but happily for me the people of this country are beginning at last to see the deception about this war. It was believed that this country went to war for very high motives and the independence of Poland. I shall not be a bit surprised when it is all over if it is found that it has been waged by Great Britain and the United States of America deliberately in order to destroy the industrial capacity of Japan and Germany. The right hon. Gentleman laughs at me. I repeat to him that if he had not been in the Coalition Government we might have seen him standing where I am, saying exactly the same thing. I sit down protesting once again against war as the means of settling any problem between nations. I am hoping nevertheless than when the Dumbarton Oaks proposals are put into operation the world will be a better place, to live in for our children than it has been for us of this generation.
§ 3.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Kendall (Grantham)
This is the first time that I have intervened in a Debate on foreign affairs and I do so with very great modesty, and I shall be very brief. I listened to the Debate yesterday, and I have listened to all the speeches to-day so far, and the quality of all of them has been excellent. No speech was better made than that of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), who asked a number of very pertinent questions of the Government as to the conditions for nations entering the new League of Nations, as it may be called. He asked what type of objec- 1626 tions would be raised to the nations who are not to be allowed to join. These questions will some day have to be answered. The Government should not be pushed or forced to-day, however, into setting down hard and fast rules as to the conditions to be placed upon nations entering the proposed league. For the first time in our history, at the Crimea Conference, a working agreement was arrived at between Russia, the United States of America and ourselves. The general conditions of that agreement are wide and should be kept as wide as they are in the White Paper and in the report that is before Parliament. It may well be that through the rapidly changing events in Central Europe, one will have to make concessions on the one hand and tighten up conditions on the other. I do not believe for a moment that it would do the present agreement between the Soviet Union, the U.S.A. and ourselves any good if we tried to lay down hard and fast rules now.
With reference to the vote of confidence, it must be realised, first of all, what a very difficult and hard task the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had at the Crimea Conference. They met the head of another great nation, Russia, and Marshal Stalin went to that Conference with the full knowledge that he had 100 per cent. support of his people behind him. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary went to that Conference to get the very best deal possible out of a very difficult situation, knowing full well that they would have to come back and report to this House on those conditions and the reasons why they accepted certain things which perhaps did not give them all that they wanted, and that they would be open to criticisms in this House from one section or another. It is absolutely essential, certainly before the San Francisco Conference takes place, that there should be without question an overwhelming vote of confidence given to the decisions taken at the Crimea Conference. I have in the past from time to time been critical of the Government and exercised my right here of free speech and free voting. I have supported the Government from time to time when they have agreed with me and to-day I am exercising the same privilege. I am not under the authority or the persuasion of a three-lined Whip, which has been sent out I think twice on the present issues before 1627 Parliament. I am here speaking as a moderate, independent, free man to this great Assembly, and I say without any hesitation at all that on this issue it is more than ever essential that the whole of the Soviet Union and the whole of the United States of America, those two countries in particular, should know that this House is giving to-day to the Prime Minister on these issues a tremendous and overwhelming vote of confidence; in fact, a unanimous vote of confidence. That I would like to see
§ Mr. Kendall
My hon. Friend says there will not be a unanimous vote of confidence, and it may well be that there are reasons why he may find a reason for voting against the Prime Minister, I do not know. If, however, everybody except one Member votes for the Prime Minister I think that will be a pretty good sign; it will be an indication that we have faced realities and not a lot of idealistic dreams that we could never put into effect and could never back up. Though it may well be that on some domestic policies that may be raised in the House I shall be in opposition again, believe me, I say with the utmost sincerity, let us get behind the Prime Minister and really tell the whole world that we are going to give the very best chance we can of making this agreement work, with the hope that we shall get from time to time moderations in the demands from Soviet Russia to various questions concerning Poland which were so ably raised yesterday. With those words I will close, saying that the Division to-night will give me immense pleasure, and that I hope everybody in this House, apart from the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), will register a really sincere vote of confidence in that great man the Prime Minister.
§ 3.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I am a little sorry that the Lord President of the Council could not stand it any longer. I do not know if he knew that I was likely to be called; if he did, he was more pessimistic than I was optimistic. I had hoped partly to answer him. I should like to say a word first of all about the' curious coincidence of—is it four or five independent Members who 1628 have chivalrously rushed to the assistance of His Majesty's Government upon this occasion?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am not quite sure what would have happened to them in Poland or Yugoslavia. They do not appear to me to be Members of recognised democratic parties, and it seems to me a little queer that they feel so safe here that they do not mind the rule elsewhere that persons conducting elections should decide which party is going to participate in them and which not. They do not seem to mind that rule spreading over Europe, they seem to be perfectly confident that it will not reach England or, if it does reach England, at any rate it will not reach the Midlands.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown rose—
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
I only wanted to say that the hon. Member is under a complete misapprehension. We feel quite confident about this country because the opponents of the Independents of this country are so much less formidable than they are elsewhere.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Nobody seems to be quite sure whether that was funny or not; if I were to give a lead, I should say not. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister told us that he wished to put the Polish question in the general framework of Europe, and as he told us that, I make no apology for turning to that part of the subject at rather greater length than I should otherwise have thought proper. He proceeded to tell us the principles on which he was going to put it in the general framework of Europe, and I was astounded, not at those principles, but at the avowal of them. In this world's history there have often before been men who preferred to arrange the present with no reference to the past—if I might quote my right hon. Friend's words, I think exactly—in the light of the future, and from the point of view of the people of the future.Though there have been people who have tried to do that often enough before, it has never produced anything but extreme disaster. However, this is the first occasion in history I think upon 1629 which a gentleman occupying so elevated a situation as that has avowed that preposterous principle—we are to try to arrange Eastern Europe not in the light of the past but in the light of the future, and from the point of view of the people of the future. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because the light of the future is not here yet. That is why we cannot use it. My right hon. Friend also made great play with the argument, which has been frequently used by all the supporters of His Majesty's Government on this occasion, that the only chance of peace is that we three should stay together. That really is a meaningless statement. Of course it is true. You might as well say that if you threw my right hon. Friend into the Thames, he would be wetter.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Of course he would, but does that really get you any further? It is perfectly true when three great Powers are approaching the victorious end of a great war, that so far as anybody can perceive, there will not be another great war so long as these three Powers hang together. Of course that is true, but really it does not get you any further, and it really is not fair to use it against those who are dubious of the best way of caring for relations between His Majesty's Government and one of the other three Great Powers. It is not fair to use the argument that it is we who are sticking spokes in the wheel, that it is we who are making agreement difficult. It is not fair.
I have the utmost objection to withholding my support, however little it is, and it is no more than the least that any hon. Member has—I am well aware of that. I am the leader of no party and the adviser of no section. I bitterly dislike, however, not voting for a Government and, much more, in war, and, most of all, at great crises; but I think it necessary on this occasion to explain why I do not see how it is possible to do it. I thought that the speeches which favoured the Government yesterday made it quite impossible to cast a positive vote in favour of the Motion. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—it is quicker if I do not use my notes to quote textually and, if I misinterpret him, I am sure somebody will interrupt me, but I think I am giving 1630 the gist of it—said that for the purpose of our country's international relations, it was necessary that he should have as nearly as possible the unanimous support of the House of. Commons. That was the first step in the argument. The second step in the argument was that he ought to have the unanimous support of the House of Commons because what he had done, he had done under no compulsion of force or circumstances; he had done it because he thought it right in itself. I think it is almost true that every one of the supporters of the Government's case in the subsequent Debate took exactly the opposite line—very nearly everyone, and very conspicuously my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stafford (Captain Thorneycroft) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson). They took very much the opposite line, about power, not justice.
The line taken by—I was going to say the Leader of the Opposition but I do not know what he ought to be called—perhaps I might say, my right hon. Friend from the collaborationist bench—about this Motion was that, of course, we should vote for it because it did not really mean anything, we all had an indefinite number of mental reservations. I really think that almost all the value is taken out of it, partly by that, and partly by the fact that the Prime Minister put his claim upon one ground and that his supporters put their claim upon quite a different ground. So that to go into the Government Lobby seems to me to make quite obscure which of those lines one is taking.
I want to say a word about the Yugoslav paragraph in this declaration. It will only be very short, but I think somebody ought to say something about Yugoslavia in this matter because the story is as important and, in some ways, as painful as the Polish or any other part of the story. We were twitted yesterday, as we have been very frequently twitted, with an excessive willingness to pick up news where we could get it. I do not think that I am over-easily persuaded that evidence is evidence, and I do not think I have ever brought before the House any evidence on those matters which came from a foreigner which was not established by some sort of collateral testimony. That argument was used yesterday; but what does that argument prove? It does not prove anything 1631 against anyone, even if there were somebody, on these benches who may have been a little over-careless in accepting evidence that could not be fully attested. It is not really a charge against him, but it is a charge against right hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of the Government of this country: if we have not all of us all the information that can be got; if where that information is dubious and doubtful, it is not made clear to us that it is open to doubt, that really is the business of the Government—especially in the sixth year of a war in which all the means of information, all the channels of news, have been directly or indirectly controlled by His Majesty's Government—to make us know about it. Honestly, I do not think we do know anything like as much as we ought to know; nothing like as much. If, therefore, we sometimes argue unfairly or vote wrongly, the blame is really not upon us.
On this occasion, exceptionally, I shall read from a report from a Yugoslav source which I have not been able in any way to check. It is a confidential report dated 10th February:Recent demonstrations against the King.. were mostly composed of civil servants who were forced out of their offices—I did not think you had to force civil servants out of their offices. Half of my College is filled with them, and I have a general, perhaps false, impression of them leaving their offices at 20 minutes to one o'clock or 20 minutes to five o'clock——into the streets, and peasants who came to the markets who were also forced to take part in the demonstrations. Every night posters are put up on the walls with the inscription 'Long live King Peter.'… Tito's army is in occupation of towns and villages along the lines of communication. In all these places Communist councils have been appointed while the real masters are the political police—Now this sentence is the real point for the purpose of my argument; it does not matter if all the rest is wrong. This is the important sentence:If peace is wanted in the country free elections should be carried out quickly. In the case of free elections Communists will lose everything.I do not know whether that is true or not, but the point I am trying to get at is this: we have made many mistakes. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary would not for a moment deny 1632 that we have made many mistakes in Yugoslavia—perhaps many of them have been inevitable—but if there are still people there who think that free elections could produce something roughly resembling the will of the country, then for heaven's sake let no time be wasted. Should we not have observers there too? Should there not be official observers? Should there not be many official observers and unofficial observers?
I should have thought that there should be very many, and, further, that we ought to have newspaper correspondents there. There is one other quotation I should like to make, if I may, which is from a paper which has been referred to occasionally in this House. On 29th January this paper said:Marshal Tito speaking at a women's anti-Fascist meeting states that he has made all possible concessions to King Peter. … The King now comes along and says he does not want agreement but to offer conditions. It is only natural that a King should fight for his throne. There is no civil war, but throughout the land dissatisfaction and protests against the King's declaration have appeared. There is your plebiscite.Is it not high time that His Majesty's Government told us where the Free Yugoslav Radio is, and where it has been? Is it not high time that they told us whether they do or do not agree with Marshal Tito's view that the plebiscite has already been carried out? I could give many other quotations of the same sort from Yugoslavia, from newspapers, all of which are very strictly controlled indeed, about only Communists being allowed in, no party dissensions, and so on. I say that the policy upon which we are entering at the moment becomes quite frivolous unless we not only want to see that kind of thing corrected, but are confident of our power to correct it. Unless we are confident of our power and authority to make sure that there is something like the free expression of public opinion in the countries for which we assert that democracy is our policy, then we are getting ourselves wholly in the wrong.We cannot say to the world 'You have to do this and you have to do that'. That is beyond the power of 45,000,000 people, but what you can do by your own conduct and leadership is to try to establish and maintain those standards of international conduct without which there cannot be peace. That I conceive to be the duty of foreign policy.1633 That is what the Foreign Secretary, in May, conceived to be the duty of foreign policy. I conceive it to be the duty of foreign policy still. I am profoundly convinced that unless not only we want there to be the real expression of public opinion in these countries, but also arc sure that we can see that that happens, this plebiscitory policy we are entering upon will be a bogus policy, and will be the least realist and the least idealist of all policies, and the one which will make most certain quarrels with our Allies.
I have only one other piece of hastily fetched foreign information, about which I would like to ask my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary a question. I take no responsibility for this, but as a statement I think it has enough evidence to make it fair to ask the question, which is this: Is it true that Madame Arciszewski, the wife of the Prime Minister of the Polish Government, recognised by his Britannic Majesty's Government, has been arrested? I think it is of some importance that we should know. I should be the last to start such a rumour, or even to help it into circulation, if it was not already quite clear that it was in circulation, but so soon as it is clearly in circulation, I think it ought to be answered.
I want to say one other thing about the Polish side of the case which is, I think, a little different from what taking them together, I may call the incomparable eloquence of four or five of my hon. Friends in the last few days. I do not think I can say better what they said, but I think I am trying to say something slightly different. Incidentally, if my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary can remember the far off times when they were on these back benches, I want to tell them that I am just as anxious as ever they were to draw myself to the favourable attention of the leaders of the Tory Party. What I want to say is this: It really is not any good their telling us that it would be improper, impolite or impolitic to question the word of Marshal Stalin and M. Molotov. I should not think of questioning their word, but if I did, and wanted to annoy them, which is the last thing in the world I wish to do—[Laughter.] Yes, it is the last thing in the world I wish to do, and I do not think that what I am going to say will annoy them, or cause them to be critical if they do me the 1634 honour of reading my remarks. As I was saying, if anybody did wish to annoy them I think it is very dubious which of their utterances they would have found it most insulting to have questioned. I have taken a good deal of pains to read Marshal Stalin's books and M, Molotov's speeches. I do not think it is I who throw doubt on the intentions and engagements they hold.
Suppose I wished to lend £1,000 to my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin), because I liked his face, and I was sure that he was wholly trustworthy. Supposing I wanted to lend him £1,000—if I had £1,000—there would be no reason in the world why I should not do it, as the seductive advertisements say," On note of hand alone." But if, on note of hand alone, I lent him £1,000 which were not mine, but which were deposited with me, and in relation to which I was in a fiduciary capacity, then no amount of politeness would excuse me for that. I should need not only assurances but securities.
The essential thing about this Yalta Agreement on Poland seems to be not whether it is the best arrangement which could possibly be made at that time. That still begs the question. For instance, we were told yesterday that this and that had happened because of the existence of the Lublin Committee. But His Majesty's Government were not wholly without influence in the days before that Committee came into existence. There are all sorts of things which we do not know about what relations were between His Majesty's Government and the Soviet Government. The main point is this: This thing is presented to us as the first step towards a great new world organisation. I will be frank with the House. I am not very easily taken with love for great new world organisations. Perhaps I am too sceptical about them. But I make this small boast. By an accident of the date of my by-election I was, I think, the first Member of this House to say that now that all parties had agreed to enter upon the path of sanctions, no party could have any duty which conflicted with the duty of re-armament. Therefore, I was a League of Nations man in that sense, which is more than can be said of all League of Nations men.
I am, perhaps, over suspicious about great world organisations, but I feel sure 1635 that such an organisation can be built up only by taking up all that there was in the modern world of international law and international comity, and building as from that. It seems to me that however much this may be much the best arrangement, and however much it may be said that the Poles may be idiots for wanting to keep their old provinces or for not wanting to have chunks of Germany, what sticks in my gizzard, what I find it impossible to give positive approval to, is that so far as I know it is the first time in history that one country has had both its régime and its boundaries altered in the course of a war by three other nations—all in alliance with it, or at least, two of them are in alliance in every sense of the word, and the third is in alliance in one sense or another—without that country being present. It may be that that was necessary. It may be that at the point we reached in January, 1945, which, judging by the Prime Minister's speech in October, was a point very different from that which we reached three months sooner, this was the best and only thing to do. But to say that it should be done with candles, bells, flags, ribbons, rejoicings, and jigs, because this is the way to start building a new world organisation, to say that is too much with which to face every Member as has been done by the demanding and the advocacy of this Vote of Confidence. Therefore, with the utmost reluctance, I find myself unable to give that Vote. And I would ask my right hon. Friend, Is it really wise to go out of your way to make this three days' Debate, on what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will admit to be a debatable act of foreign policy, a test between the Government and every individual Member of this House, however faithful any particular individual may be?
The Prime Minister was twitted two or three years ago, I think it was, for what I thought was an unimpeachable utterance of his, when he said that he hoped that when the long day was done the Tory Party would prove to have been the main rock upon which victory had been built. That was a perfectly fair thing for any party leader to say. [Laughter.] Yes, it was a perfectly fair thing for any party leader to say, or for any patriot or any Englishman to say. I do not know what else any Englishman could say in time 1636 of war for his party. I never understood the questioning of it which came from certain quarters. I would not endeavour to cut this House up into parties, still less would I endeavour to cut up my own party. I have never belonged to any organised clique in it which has tried to be a party inside a party. I have always thought such things wrong. There are, however, recognisable strains in a party, as in any other biological collection of people, but those of us most troubled about this question can fairly boast that not before in the course of this war have any of us been the ones who have been tiresome in moments of crisis. We have not been the ones who, if our war machinery has been proved to be a deathtrap, if our ships have been sunk, or the battle has swayed the wrong way, or a great Ally has thought that a second front ought to be opened at a point of time when to do such a thing would have been a certain way of losing the war, have asked awkward questions and have gone into the wrong lobbies on those occasions.
I ask the Government, before they repeat this experiment: what happens if this goes wrong? I am all for it going as right as it stands, but supposing it goes wrong? Suppose it becomes plain within the next six weeks or six months that there was never any real chance of getting any real expression of opinion or independence of provisional Government in Poland. It is certainly going to be difficult. Anyone who listens to the Lublin wireless will know that you are not allowed to have a typewriter, or listen to any wireless except at a communal listening point. All parties and papers are strictly controlled. We have been trying for 18 months to settle on a way to have a general election in this country and we have not yet brought it off and, when it does come, we know that it will be a sweepstake.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
That remains to be seen. The hon. and learned Gentleman may yet find himself winning a moral victory. Very confident politicians have done it in the past. But we know how immensely difficult it is. From Lublin information alone we know that it is almost inconceivably difficult to arrange anything like a real election, there.
1637 If this goes wrong, what is to happen to the next Vote of Confidence? Are we still unanimously to express confidence or to have the whole of our policy in relation to our great Ally suddenly very much altered? Are we suddenly to go right off the foot on which we have been for the last two or three years? I am by no means persuaded that the policy and the way it has been presented to us is not that most likely to arouse difficulties. I admired my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday, very much. It was a very persuasive speech, exactly calculated for its audience, and I thought it was extremely successful and on the whole fair, though I thought he slipped into what was unfair towards the end in the stuff about Goebbels. But, again, "my withers are unwrung." When I was a small boy in 1900 my father told me that the South African war was the beginning of the attempt of the German Empire to conquer the world through the British Empire. I believed it. then and I have believed it ever since. I have never had the least pro-Germanism or tenderness for Hitler. But let all that be as it may—this surely is true of the Goebbels propaganda: it has all been based upon the argument that, if you knock out the German military machine, the Russian military machine will be irresistible. I have never believed it and I do not believe it now. I do not think there is any necessity to be frightened of Russia. I have never been frightened of Russia. Those who supported the Government yesterday are those who took that line. They continually got up and said, "What else could you have done? It was the best bargain that could be made in a very tight corner." It is a little hard that that particular reproach about Goebbels' reaction should be levelled at those of us who, with the bitterest regret, are critical of the Government at this historic moment.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Mack (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Whatever one may think of the political opinions of the hon. Member the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), at least he is entertaining, and he was none the less so on this occasion because he purported to be serious. But, behind all the arguments advanced and the jeux d'esprit which he introduces into his speeches, the first thing that will be apparent is the fact that he himself, together with a number of others whose 1638 identity we know very well, are strongly opposed to the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that yesterday we had a long discussion on the particular case of Poland, I think it is right and proper to say a word or two about the type of people who in large part constitute the Polish Government in this country and to compare them, as far as we can, with, those elements of the Poles inside Poland. The Polish Provisional Government which is in Poland at present is not composed of Communists alone or people who have ideological relationship with Russia. They are highly representative of various political parties, including the Polish Democratic Party, which is, I understand, similar to our Liberal Party in outlook, the Socialist Parry, which is analogous to our Labour Party, the Workers' Party, which may roughly be regarded as a Communist Party, and the Peasants' Party, which is agrarian and contains Conservative elements. It might be of interest to know how much the Polish Government in Britain is costing the taxpayers. Something like £45,000,000 is being expended annually, out of which £21,000,000 is going to officials of various kinds, and I am advised that medium officials are receiving something like £40 to £60 per month, whereas Ministers are receiving £120 per month, all free of Income Tax. They have conducted a continuous spate of anti-Soviet propaganda.
In this House, I am sorry to say, in spite of the commendable efforts made by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to reach a solution on the basis of equity, because they regard the solution as just in all the circumstances, these two Ministers are being arraigned, mostly by Members of their own political party. If the gloves are to come off in this fight I have no objection at all. Someone has said we are not afraid of Russia. There is no need to be afraid of Russia's military might, because she would never use it to do injustice to any small nation in order to seize some small advantage.
It follows the Shakespearean maxim:It is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.I was not surprised, though I did raise an eyebrow, to read two days ago in an editorial of the "Dairy Express," a paper with 3,000,000 circulation:Russia, in her dealings with the outside world, has shown full integrity and honesty. She has dealt with her conquered foes with 1639 the most remarkable fairness and restraint. Stalin gave Finland a peace which astonished the world by its moderation. Speak as you find is a good maxim. For the people of Britain it means TRUST RUSSIA.I shudder to think what would have happened if another Power had conquered Finland in the then circumstances. Would it have given her the opportunity to re build the country, resuscitate herself and live a free and independent life, as Russia did? I would remind hon. Members opposite in particular, when they talk of frontiers being destroyed and about Poland not being consulted in the matter, of the immediate pre-war record of that country, which endeavoured to seize a part of Czechoslovakia and tried to make territorial depredations in the direction of Vilna. Its policy was definitely aggressive for years before the war. But in pre-war years hon. Members seldom rose to speak about Poland, because the country was relatively little known. It is only now, when there is a possibility of driving a wedge in the relationship between Russia and ourselves, to say nothing of America, that they wax indignant. May I be permitted a slight reference to one of the most detestable speeches ever made in this country by an hon. and gallant Gentleman, the Member for Cleveland (Commander Bower) recently at a Northern seaside resort when he impugned and bitterly attacked the good motives of Marshal Stalin? If he is right, all I can say is that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, who have met and deliberated with Marshal Stalin, are guilty of a crime of the first magnitude if they deliberately deceived us as to the intentions of the leader of the U.S.S.R. I do not believe that they would do that for a moment. I was satisfied that they spoke with a feeling of honesty when they said they had implicit trust in Russia's word. To talk about 47 per cent. of Polish territory being given over to Russia—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I must point out that we have devoted a day and a half to the question of Poland and Russia and had a Division, and I should regard it as approaching a misuse of the time of the House if further extensive references, or the whole of the hon. Member's speech, were devoted to that subject alone.
§ Mr. Mack
I think I shall be in Order in referring to the general position of Russia as distinct from the Polish situation and the relationship between that great country and ourselves. I will bear your suggestion in mind, Sir. If it were true that it was the intention of the U.S.S.R. to tear up every democratic country in Europe, they could have adopted the policy of saying: "J'y suis, j'y reste" and no one could have shifted them. People will say that is force majeure. They will say: "We have no desire to interfere with a country of that size and importance."
§ Colonel Viscount Suirdale (Peterborough)
Is not that what they have done in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia?
§ Mr. Mack
No, most certainly not. I think it is generally conceded that in war a country that has to cross the frontiers of smaller countries which are in geographical contiguity to it must, of necessity, establish some form of influence and control of those countries during the operations of war. I do not concede that they have used that influence in the aggressive sense that my hon. and gallant Friend suggests.
§ Captain Sidney (Chelsea)
According to my recollection, the Soviet Republic went into the Baltic Republics before they were engaged in any war in Europe.
§ Mr. Mack
The hon. and gallant Member is quite right, but there was a free vote and these small countries decided themselves to become an integral part of the U.S.S.R. This to me is an important factor. The purpose of this Debate surely is to give support to the Government in their most difficult task in bringing about the Yalta Agreement. One of the important things achieved at Yalta was to succeed in convincing American opinion, or alternatively for America to convince British opinion, that the intentions of Russia, as far as these countries are concerned, have at least, been honest.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Would the hon. Gentleman agree to give India the same opportunity of a plebiscite as was given to the Baltic Republics?
§ Mr. Mack
My hon. Friend knows and endorses my views in that respect. All I am saying is that my views are antithetical to those of hon. Members opposite. 1641 There are some Members in this House whom I would regard as plasticine politicians; they can be shaped any way. At one moment they vote for the Government and the next they vote against the Government. They speak about sincerity and loyalty to the Prime Minister and go up and down the country using every argument they can against certain people, suggesting that they are not behind the war, yet to-day and yesterday we have seen the greatest disloyalty on their part, and something worse, whether they realise it or not; they are making it extremely difficult for the Government to carry out these protracted and difficult negotiations.
On 25th April the Allies are going to meet in San Francisco, a very nice place for a meeting. They are going to meet for the purpose of arranging the new world. I regard it as essential, if we are to go into the future with a sense of reality, that we should have good faith and believe with all our hearts in the honest intentions of other people. There is an old and trite saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The blood that has been spilled by Russia and other countries, but particularly by Russia, is a practical and physical proof of the sincerity of their efforts. There is nothing more contemptible and despicable than sneering, slanting references against the integrity of the U.S.S.R. It is a reflection of the minds of those who make them. As far as this is concerned, there should be a show-down. I often wonder why the leaders of the Conservative Party do not deal very drastically with those Members who have done all they can by their speeches and conduct to render more difficult the work of the Government.
There are two points which I should like my right hon. Friend to deal with in his reply. At Birkenhead a number of Polish seamen who are alleged to hold certain political opinions are not allowed to enter vessels of the Polish Shipping Federation. I would like to know whether the Polish Shipping Federation are to be allowed to do that in this country after the Yalta Conference, and whether the accredited representative in this country of the Lublin Committee is to be given any facilities to make his case and to meet the Government. I should like to ask, also, whether Lady Sinclair's Fund to help Warsaw will be handed over to the Provisional Government once that is 1642 brought into being upon a broad democratic basis. I should like to ask, too, if we are to have foreign broadcasts by the London Poles which cast aspersions on the good faith of at least one of our Allies. These are things which arc very pertinent and are exacerbating good opinion.
This Debate has had one good effect. It has proved itself to be a clearing house of opinion and it has shown hon. Members in their true colours. This period of the war is not the least important. In the penultimate state of a war unity is essential between one country and another, and in this fight for democracy and freedom we should be bound together by sincere motives. There are, however, people who are allowing their prejudices—their religious prejudices in some cases—to operate to the disadvantage of the relationships between Britain and Russia. If that is to be allowed to obtain I am sorry for the future policy of this country. I believe that the combination of the three Powers, plus China, France, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the smaller Powers, can, with good will, lead to lasting peace. I believe that the prestige of Britain stands higher in Russia to-day than it has for a long time. I was one of those who in the past bitterly opposed the Prime Minister for some of his utterances. I now applaud him for having the magnanimity, decency and honesty to admit that what he said in years gone by does not affect his attitude at the present time, in the light of the new facts. We ought to support the Government, and I shall support them in the good work they have been doing and give them a chance at San Francisco to build on democratic lines a world which will mean a great deal for the millions of suffering people in all the countries of Europe.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Sir Geoffrey Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
When I say that I have only one more sentence to add, it will be my last sentence, and I shall not go on for another ten minutes like some previous speakers. It seems to me that during the Debate there has been a competition for the position of outside right on the Parliamentary playing field, and I felt that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) seemed rather well qualified for that position, because he combines with ex- 1643 treme political views a pretty wit that always entertains the House. I could not agree with him when he suggested that the Government ought not to have brought in this Motion. I think they were very wise to let us separate the sheep from the goats and to let us see those who are behind the Government in the great efforts they are making for world peace. If we had had a woolly Motion committing nobody, the world would have been ignorant of where the House of Commons really stood. The Prime Minister was right in asking hon. Members to toe the line and to make clear what their position is. It is clear that the hon. Member for Cambridge University is prepared to take action which, if it were universalised, would put the Government out of office. He is willing to see the Government fall. Where is his alternative? Is it among his friends who are no longer in the Chamber at this moment? We want to know what the alternative is if- we are to put the Government out. It is a reckless procedure at this stage of the war for any hon. Members to give a vote which would put the National Government out of office. I believe that by our vote to-night we shall make it clear that the House of Commons stands almost unanimously behind the Government.
§ Sir G. Mander
Except on the question of Proportional Representation, which is a special thing, I have always supported the Government. The hon. and gallant Member cannot make a point against me there, because I have acted in accordance with the principles I am now expressing. I think we are going to make it clear to-night that we stand behind the Government in their desire to work with the Big Three and the smaller nations associated with them, in peace as they have worked together in war.
I have no intention of going over the ground of the Polish Debate, but I would like to make one point. I hope that the Poles, whether in the Polish Government in this country, whether outside the Government or in Poland, however bitter and disappointed they may be feeling, will take the opportunity that now presents itself to try to get something done. I urge them not to reject it out of hand by 1644 a precipitate refusal to play any part in the negotiations. It is their duty in the interests of their country to make the best of the situation which presents itself and try to obtain a reasonably representative Polish Government in Poland. We ought not to allow emotional sympathy for ideal solutions of particular problems to blind us to the overriding consideration that the three Great Powers are the people on whom we must rely for peace in the world for a considerable time to come. I believe that these three, so different in their history, constitutions and methods, are at one in sincerely desiring peace and the onward and upward march of mankind. May I make a reference to the interesting speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle (Sir E. Spears) with regard to Arab Federation in the Middle East? He put forward a view which I am sure will be carefully considered. He said that we ought not to run the risk of breaking faith with those who have trusted us. We have given certain promises to the Jews, too, and we must be careful that we do not break our promises to either the Arabs or the Jews. I hope that in the arrangements that are made in the Middle East that point will be borne in mind.
I would like to say a few words about the new world organisation, which is much more important than some of the matters we have been discussing. It is to be a long-term structure which will affect the world for better or for worse for many years to come, and, I hope, for all time. The League of Nations is to be restored but this time it is to be given power to act. Justice is to be armed with might. That may be a form of power politics, but it is the right kind of power politics. Without it nothing could be done. Other changes will take place, too. The new organisation will go by the name of the United Nations. Some have criticised that on the ground that it might be a constant reminder to Germany, when she comes to join it, that she was defeated in the war. I do not think that is a strong argument against it, for it will be a good thing if Germany can be constantly reminded that she was defeated on a military basis in the war. In any case I am quite sure that the use of pretty words will not solve the German problem. The only thing that will do that is firm, definite action. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was so right 1645 last night when he referred to the certain resurgence of German propaganda. They will come forward and once again appeal to the generous-minded and tolerant British. They took in so many people before the war, and there is a risk of their doing so again. We need to be very much on our guard against the whining German. By all means let us try to make him into a civilised German, but he will be a whining German to begin with. Let us look out for him.
In regard to the actual structure of Dumbarton Oaks, one of the best features, it seems to me, is that forces are to be ready organised before they are needed. Certain Air Force contingents of the Allied countries are to be earmarked, ready for action. I hope that means that they will manoeuvre together, and go on living the common life that they have lived during this war. I was very glad to note that in a Debate in another place the other day the Lord Chancellor, in reply to Lord Trenchard, said it was proposed to continue the common life among the Air Forces that had grown up during the war. We shall certainly need it. I hope that in due course, as confidence is built up, there will arise out of that joint action an international police force, directly recruited and paid by the world organisation itself.
With regard to the naval side, the Prime Minister has said on one or two occasions that we want nothing from Greece. That is perfectly true, but surely the United Nations want something from Greece, and Greece wants a good deal from the United Nations. Surely if we are to make effective a new police system there must be a mutual use of bases. All the naval bases must be available to all the Allies. I should have thought that the ports of Greece, and Malta, Gibraltar, Singapore, Dakar, Shanghai, Antwerp and Vladivostok, to take just a few of the great ports of the United Nations, should be available to each other, just as much in peace time as in war, if we are to make a reality of the proposals.
There is the question of the peaceful settlement of disputes. I suppose the right thing, which in due course we should like to see, is the settlement of all disputes by compulsory arbitration, by third party judgment. The proposals that are available under this plan are the World Court, which did such good work 1646 in the inter-war years, and any other method which may be adopted. I suggest it would be desirable to emphasise in the organisation which is built up the possibility of using what is sometimes called an equity tribunal for the trial of cases which are not of a justiciable nature, something on the lines of the Lytton Commission, but backed by force. That is the sort of thing we want to build up. It will take time, but I hope that in due course, just as the Optional Clause of the League of Nations was being generally adopted, there will be the same procedure under this new United Nations organisation. There is a point I would just mention, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir. A. Salter), that is that the Security Council is to concern itself only with those disputes which are likely to endanger international peace and security. Surely that is rather putting a premium on agitation. If a country wants a dispute to be put forward it will have to work up some kind of agitation in order to bring it before the tribunal. I think that some amendment is necessary there.
Finally, a suggestion has been made by the Deputy Prime Minister to-day, and Lord Templewood has spoken about it in another place, as to the desirability of having a national foreign policy. I very much hope we can have it, but it must be based on the sort of thing we are talking about to-day, the system as agreed at Yalta. If the whole nation can place itself behind a plan of that kind, all parties vying in trying to make it ever more perfect, that will be a great step forward in the life of this country and the history of the world. When the three great statesmen were at Yalta, no doubt the mountains looked very high—the physical mountains, and the political mountains too. One cannot scale the crests of success at one stage. The important thing is to get our feet firmly planted on the right path. I believe that at Yalta we commenced that task.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Hammersley (Willesden, East)
I shall confine myself to a very limited part of the Crimea Conference. I wish to refer to the Prime Minister's conversations in the Middle East. We all recognise that the tranquillity of these vast Arab lands and their amiable relations with us, are-highly necessary for the welfare of the 1647 British Empire. In fact, it is true to say that if it had not been for the tranquillity of that area we should have been deprived of a bulwark in this war which has been most necessary for its successful conduct. Therefore, it was quite natural that the Prime Minister should have had these conversations with King Ibn Saud, King Farouk, President Shukri, and others. We were told that meetings took place, and there were other conferences. We have no knowledge at all of what was said. Rumours were very freely circulated. It was said that there were going to be decisions about the Arab Federation and about Palestine. But the Prime Minister himself said there was no question of shaping new policy, and he spoke of reaching a solution to the problem of the whole Arab world, and of the Jewish people in Palestine, after the war.
This is a problem which involves many countries and many interests. The suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle (Sir E. Spears) that these issues should be worked out in conference, and by consultation with other countries, is one which it is desirable should be carefully considered. France is involved, America is involved, Russia is involved, the Arabs are involved, and the Jews are involved, and I think that we ought to be careful to see that the policy that does eventuate is one which is arrived at after due consultation, and not a policy which may be forced on us by the pressure of events. We have had an unfortunate example in Greece, where though on the whole it was recognised that Greece was a British interest, Britain pursued a particular policy, Russia remaining very much aloof, and the United States considered it necessary to indulge in a good deal of criticism. We want to avoid a repetition of any such procedure in regard to the Middle East. To leave these matters until after the war will be to run a very great risk.
I particularly wish to make this point. There are substantial numbers of Members in all parties in this House who throughout have thought that the Balfour Declaration was a great act of statesmanship. I am sure these Members from all parties would support the Prime Minister in bringing forward any solution of the problem, or any policy in connection with Palestine, which might mean the final fructification of that Balfour Declaration. I 1648 think it would be desirable if the Foreign Secretary, when he replies, could say that these matters are really under active consideration, that consultations are taking place with all affected interests and people, and that we are not in fact waiting for a peace conference.
The hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle spoke about the new spirit of the Arab people. Surely it is not really a new spirit. It is the growth of the old spirit of nationalism. I feel that the argument he put forward, suggesting that we in this country might use force in dealing with the problem of the independence of the Levant, was an unfortunate argument, because the basis of it really is this: a suggestion that if the Arabs are given free independence in the Levant they will be content with something a little less than free independence in other Arab countries. In point of fact I do not think that any Arab State has reached a state of development at which it can be completely and entirely independent, and it seems to me to be unfortunate that we should make any suggestions in this country which would indicate to the French that we desire to take their special position in Syria and the Lebanon.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
I have listened to all the speeches to-day, and candidly I do not think there are any that need any reply from the Government point of view. There were one or two, one from the unpredictable Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern)—we never really quite know what he is going to say when he gets up, or what he has said when he sits down—the very predictable speech of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), to whom we have listened with pleasure so often, and for so many years; and then there was that irresponsible tirade against the Tory Party by an hon. Member on the Socialist Benches who, I think, has since disappeared. I will not, therefore, waste the time of the House, very little of which is at my disposal, in trying to answer any of those speeches, but will merely concentrate on following the Deputy Prime Minister's advice and come back to the Report itself. We had, as the House knows, a very thrilling, dramatic and factual report from the Prime Minister on Tuesday about ourselves, and the affairs of ourselves and our friends, and most of such queries as.
1649 I might have had in my mind were therefore anticipated and dispersed. But there are one or two points I would like the Foreign Secretary to deal with when he comes to reply.
What is the broad basis of our foreign policy? The Lord President, in a speech on which I would like to congratulate him, made the first venture into a discussion of our foreign policy that he has made for some time, and it was very helpful. But the Foreign Secretary should dot some of the "i's" and cross some of the "t's," so that we may be satisfied that our foreign policy is strong and candid, yet objective, and that it constantly bears the interests of Britain first. I would like the Foreign Secretary also to elaborate the commitments which he has undertaken on behalf of Britain. We want to know where we stand with our two great Allies, and with all these new Allies that seem to be fluttering round our candle just now. We want to know what caused Turkey and Egypt suddenly to decide that the real cause of democracy lies with the United Nations. We would like to know that our Government speak with equal strength and candour to friends and enemies alike, and do not leave it to the "Economist." We want to know that British prestige is being kept at a high and dignified level throughout the world.
Another thing has been worrying me for some years past, and I have never been able to get any satisfaction about it. For about four and a half years we have had some seven exiled Governments on British soil, most of them in the heart of London. In addition, we have had an assortment of free movements, committees of liberation, and so on. That situation gives a unique opportunity for uniting post-war Europe under the enlightened, democratic, and objective leadership of Britain. As the Prime Minister once said, we are in the happy position of not wanting anything from anyone, except peace, prosperity and freedom for all. Therefore, we have every right to expect the trust and confidence of those who are seeking the same things. Were those meetings held periodically, or, even better, frequently, under the persuasive chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary?
I would like, with all respect, to interpose one word of warning: I expect many of my colleagues in this House will agree with it. It seems to me that some of 1650 these movements of liberation need watching. I am not referring particularly to Lublin, although that is perhaps one of them. We read of Free German movements being organised in the United States and in Russia, with a certain amount of domestic support. Is not their formation somewhat belated? I cannot recall hearing of these movements when Hitler was sweeping with scythe-like strokes across Europe and into the Soviet Union. I cannot remember protests from these free and independent Germans when the loot was corning in, nor can I recall that these anti-Nazi Germans held up their hands in pious horror when the scythe-strokes of Hitler were followed by the thugs and torturers of Himmler. Therefore, we should keep our memories refreshed, and our minds clear and free from sentiment or propaganda, when the day of reckoning comes. I am not going to continue with that subject, because, as the Prime Minister has often said, the need of winning the war is so urgent and immediate that it would be a waste of time to decide how to cook one's hare until one had caught it.
There are one or two other points on which I should like reassurance, and on which I think the House would like reassurance. What about the position of the liberated countries, Italy, France, Belgium and Holland, or those parts of them that are completely free? We are told that there is starvation in these countries, that they are much worse off with us there as liberators than when they were under the heel of the Hun. The Prime Minister said a little about that subject on Tuesday, but there is a lot more to be said. Food is more important than freedom to a hungry man. If these reports are true, what are we doing about the position, and what is being done by this nebulous organisation, U.N.R.R.A., upon which such high hopes were built? There is the job for which it was created, but we read in the Press sad and harrowing tales about these liberated peoples, to whom we owe a duty.
I want to refer to a country which was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter). There is more genuine bewilderment, I think, in this country about Yugoslavia than about anywhere else. We have been told over a period of years that General Mihailovitch was more intent on fighting the 1651 Partisans of Tito than on fighting the Germans. On the other hand, we got quite definite reports that Middle East Headquarters had to cease sending equipment to Tito's followers because it was in danger of being sold to the Germans. It is quite definite that the B.B.C. have established themselves, no doubt with the approval of the Foreign Office, as practically the public relations officer of Tito. Also, it is a fact that there were military missions from the United States and from our own country with both Tito and Mihailovitch; but, very oddly, we got information only from Tito. I am not attributing that to any malevolent purpose. I am naturally comforted by the tact that Marshal Tito is advised, as I understand, by the junior Member for Preston (Major Churchill), but the picture is too unbalanced to satisfy me. The position has been described in a book published in the last two days by someone called Padev, which is obviously designed to represent Tito as being of such perfection that not even the Almighty or Field Marshal Montgomery could compete with him.
Your predecessor, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, said that the question of Poland should not be dealt with at great length to-day, and I quite agree. Members have expressed their views, and the Government are well aware of them, on both sides. I am a friend and ally of suffering, desolated, courageous Poland, but I am also a friend and ally of outraged, heroic and conquering Russia. All that I ask is that the generous treatment which was indicated by the Prime Minister on Tuesday shall be fully accorded. Frontiers are not of the same importance to-day as they were long ago. V/'s and V/'s take no notice of frontiers: the weapons of the future will take still less; and, although it may be necessary for Marshal Stalin to seize that territory behind which his Armies will have room to deploy for immediate defence and ultimate victory, now that victory is in his hands, now that he can afford to be, as he is, generous, let him err on the side of generosity. That is all I have to say about Poland. I would be happy to know that our foreign policy and Russia's foreign policy march hand in hand. I do not know what Stalin's foreign policy is: I am not specifically clear what our own is; but I want to be sure that they are marching together.
1652 I wish to mention the slogan, or phrase, "unconditional surrender." I have no quarrel with the term; I have no quarrel with the intention; but I am perturbed about what will happen after it has been achieved. We have had four countries changing sides, and more threaten to do so. We have had Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Finland doing so, and now there is Hungary. Overnight, apparently, they turned from fighting against us to fighting with us—a very odd change. Yet the soldiers of these countries have killed our men and the men of our Allies. Why have they become our friends? Simply because we have defeated them. This seems a very odd policy. Are we to carry it to its logical conclusion, and, if Germany accepts unconditional surrender to-morrow, to invite her to come and fight Japan with us? I do not think that even Germany's help just now would be very advantageous to us in our struggle against Japan.
We have had our clashes of temperament, our clashes of opinion, our clashes of view, in this House in the last three days. There must always be those clashes where temperaments are so different as they are in this House and in this country. But having got our complaints and our difficulties off our chests, let us think what it will mean to the whole world if this Motion is passed unanimously. I believe it will have a reverberating effect, both on our friends and on our enemies; and if there be one or two who feel themselves genuinely unable to vote for the Motion, surely they can find a cup of tea waiting for them in the smoking-room.
§ 4.44 P.m.
§ Mr. G. Strauss (Lambeth, North)
The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) has said that it would be a fine thing if the House were to pass the Motion unanimously. But the difficulty about the Yalta Declaration and the Motion before us, in which we are asked to approve that Declaration, is that so many of the most important things agreed at Yalta are left dangerously vague. We are presented with a blank cheque and asked to approve all sorts of things, which may be good or may be bad; but we do not know what they are. May I quote, for example, the opening sentence of Article 2 of the Crimea Conference Report? The signatories say: 1653We have agreed on common policies and plans for enforcing the unconditional surrender terms which we shall impose together on Nazi Germany, after German armed resistance has been finally crushed. These terms will not be made known until the final defeat of Germany has been accomplished.We have not the remotest idea what those terms are, yet by the Motion in front of us to-day, we are asked to support them. Some of us have very great difficulty in taking that line. In other parts of the Crimea Conference Report, a policy is outlined in such a vague way that, again, it may mean anything or nothing at all. We are told that steps are being taken toeliminate or control all German industry that could be used for military production.What on earth does that mean? It may mean a plan similar to the Morganthau plan; it may, on the other hand, be an excellent proposal for putting under international authority the chemical works, steel works and other big industies, not only of Germany, but of other European nations; in which ease we should all on this side approve. But we do not know at the moment what it means at all. It is difficult to approve a policy when we do not know what that policy is.
There is, at least, one section of this Crimea Conference Report which, I think, has had overwhelming support and certainly has my full support. That is the declaration on liberated Europe. This is an enormous advance on anything we have had before. It is an advance in that it is far more precise in stating what the major Allied nations intend to do to establish democracy throughout Europe; and it is an advance in that the three major nations say that they are going to act jointly for this purpose. If that policy had been accepted a year ago, it is quite certain that the Greek tragedy would never have occurred.
I only want to make one comment about Article 5, that is, the declaration on liberated Europe. The task that is being undertaken there by Russia, the United States and ourselves is a very big one indeed. It is not going to be easy to see that elections in some half-dozen European countries are fairly carried out, and that the people there will have an unfettered choice. It is an obligation which, I am sure, everybody in this country willingly undertakes. But we have got to see that it is properly done. We should now be considering the training and the organisa- 1654 tion of an international body to supervise this type of work. It will be the greatest tragedy if we find that this work is imperfectly done.
There is a not unnatural scepticism, in this country, and probably in many parts of the world, about White Papers and international declarations. The written and spoken promise has often been very different from the policy which has eventually been carried out, and it might well be a fatal blow to our hopes of a new Europe if, after the intentions stated in the White Paper it should prove that the United Nations, either through negligence or insufficent preparation, were not able to operate them in the countries concerned, and their democratic elements never given a chance to emerge victorious at the polls.
There is one question I want to ask about this part of the Agreement. It is a point about which I gave notice to the Foreign Office yesterday, and I hope we will be able to get an authoritative reply. I am most anxious to know what the position of Austria is. Does Austria, in the first place, come under this section at all? Is Austria considered either a liberated State—and we hope she is going to be liberated very shortly now—or a former Axis satellite? Will Austria, in fact, come at all under the provisions of Article 5, and will she enjoy the advantages, for they certainly are advantages, which are set out in Article 5, namely, that the three major Powers will act jointly to see that there shall be a fair interim Government until unfettered elections take place, etc.? I would further like to ask whether Austria will be considered a liberated area when she is liberated, or a satellite country. The difference is really very important indeed. It seems to me that, in the ordinary meaning of the English language, she should not be considered a satellite nation, because at no time did she have a Government which consented to go to war with Germany. It seems to me just that when the Nazis and the German Army are driven out of Austria, she should be considered a liberated nation and not an Axis satellite country.
I wanted to say a great deal about the Crimea Agreement and the speech of the Prime Minister, but I have agreed to speak for only a very few minutes. I hope, however, to make one final point within my time limit. Much has been said 1655 during the Debate about the splitting up and dismemberment of Germany. It was indeed remarkable that, when on Tuesday the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir W. Beveridge) said that he was against such a proposal, there were roars of disapproval from the Conservative Benches opposite. To-day the Deputy Prime Minister said that there might be a case, in some parts of Europe, for the dismemberment of Germany, but that that should only be done where it would be to the advantage of the European peace settlement. According to the Prime Minister some parts of Germany, certainly Upper Silesia, are to go to Poland. I hope the Government will hesitate before it finally gives its approval to a proposal of this sort, which can hold out no advantage to anybody but may be exceedingly harmful to the general prospects of a lasting European peace. On what ground is such a proposal put forward? That it is going to be some compensation to Poland. But the whole justification for the Curzon Line is that it was agreed in 1919 at Versailles. Not only was the Curzon Line, but also Poland's Western boundary was agreed at Versailles. If one is fair to Poland, so, presumably, is the other.
Finally, I put this: It is surely unworthy to put forward the argument which the Prime Minister advanced, that we can uproot populations and carry out punitive measures because Germany is to be rendered powerless for many generations, and therefore she will be powerless to revenge herself—in other words, we are free to commit an injustice because we can do it with impunity. Any realistic study of the problem will show that a policy of large-scale dismembering or splitting up of Germany must have harmful, and possibly, disastrous effects on a lasting European peace settlement.
§ 4.55 P.m.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, South)
I intervene for only a few moments to raise a matter of very great importance. I quite understand why the Foreign Secretary is not in his place at the moment, but I would be grateful if his right hon. colleagues will convey what I have to say to him. Many of us have been informed that the wife of the Polish Prime Minister in London, together with a number of other ladies working for the Red Cross in Poland, has been arrested. This seems 1656 to me, in the light of this Debate and of the Crimea Conference, a very grave issue indeed, and, before this Debate ends, we ought to learn from the Foreign Secretary whether it is true or not, and if it is true, we ought to know what steps His Majesty's Government are taking to safeguard the rights and liberties of these people against the actions of the Lublin Committee.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence (Edinburgh, East)
We are approaching the end of this historic Debate. Originally, the Government only intended it to last for two days, but I am quite sure that the Foreign Secretary will agree with me that, having heard the greater part of this Debate, the third day has been fully worth while. We had a Debate yesterday which rose to a very high level, and I think I may say, with the agreement of all sections of this House, that the speeches that have come from all sides, whether we agree with them or not, have exhibited a sincerity, a moderation and a cogency which it would be very difficult to surpass. Speaking for myself, I can only say that I have never heard a Debate in this House where such a high level was maintained on all sides.
If I may sum up in a sentence what I understand to be the purpose of the Yalta decisions, I would say that their object was to prepare a blue print, first, for the destruction of Nazism, and, secondly, for the construction of a new civilisation of Europe and of the world. As to the former, the destructive side, quite naturally and quite properly the details have not been elaborated, but even the outline which has been allowed to be known has already had this noteworthy success. It has so depressed Dr. Goebbels that he has thought fit to expound at some length to the German people the heroic method of his own end. Leaving Dr. Goebbels to his own posturing, I can assure the Prime Minister that that outline of the destruction of German Nazism commands the overwhelming support of the members of my party. We are all one as to the punishment of the German criminals, as to the extirpation of the German Nazi system, and of the German Army organisation, and as to rendering Germany impotent to plunge Europe and the world again into the blood bath which we have witnessed during the last six years and 1657 finally, as to the exaction of reparations in kind to the greatest possible capacity from Germany.
I pause there to say a word with regard to this question of reparations in kind. For my part, I regard it as a great advance that it has been decided to exact reparations in kind and not to assess them in some fantastic terms of money, which could only lead to something like what happened on the last occasion. It has this further advantage. I presume that by being expressed in kind they will be limited in the matter of time, and time is very important. My own view is that they should be finished during what is generally known as the intermediate or transitional period. By that period I mean the time while materials and labour are in short supply. Only on that condition can the catastrophe which took place in the inter-war years be avoided in the future. During the inter-war years we had international conference after international conference on the subject of reparations, and one after another, they all failed to extract any substantial cash contribution from Germany, and in the effort of trying to do so they poisoned the wellsprings of national economy and international trade.
I shall refer to the question of German reparations a little later, when I come to the second part of my speech; but before leaving the first part I should like to say that I was glad to hear the statement by the Prime Minister, in specific terms, that the Allies do not intend to encompass the destruction of the German people and that, when their power to work evil had been finally destroyed, they would be readmitted into the comity of nations. With our British tradition it might have been assumed that that was axiomatic. It would never occur to the British people that an enemy whose power for evil had been destroyed would be annihilated or put into a position where they could never have an economic and reasonable life in the future. But it might well not have appeared so axiomatic to the German people. They have been accustomed, at the dictates of their own rulers, to work the most frightful havoc upon their defeated enemies, to put them to the sword in enormous numbers and to destroy their whole method of life. They may well have supposed that when their victorious enemies came to deal with them they would mete out to them the 1658 same kind of infamous treatment which they have themselves meted out to others. Therefore, I feel most strongly that this statement, so far from being otiose, was absolutely necessary, and I do hope that even now it may serve to lessen the urge of the German millions to continue the hopeless struggle until hundreds of thousands more men on both sides have perished on the battlefield and further large tracts of the territory of Europe have been laid waste.
Having said that with regard to the first half—the destruction of the Nazi system—I turn to the other half—the constructive side of Yalta, the building up of a new Europe and a new world. It must be self-evident that in this matter of the reconstruction and resurrection of the life of Europe we are confronted with a series of problems whose intricacy and complexity have never been equalled before. First in importance, if not in time, is the political sub-structure. Can we underpin the peace of the world by an international organisation? The suggested answer to that is the scheme promulgated at Dumbarton Oaks, which was reaffirmed at the Yalta Conference and is to be subjected to the scrutiny and amendment, as I understand, of the San Francisco Conference. Can Dumbarton Oaks, as amended, be made to work?
I listened with great interest to the speech of the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) and I find myself in considerable agreement with the points he made. The Dumbarton Oaks system will not work if the sovereignty of separate individual States becames a fetish, and if that is to stand in the way of agreement on collective security, to which the Deputy Prime Minister referred in the course of his speech this afternoon. Equally, Dumbarton Oaks will not work if the interests of smaller nations are to be the plaything of the great Powers. I was very glad to hear in the speech of the Prime Minister on Tuesday the definite statement that he recognised that the three great Powers could not, and must not, attempt to be the dictators of the world after the war. Again, Dumbarton Oaks will not be a success if the facade of peace rather than world justice is to be the sole guide of international policy.
I could not agree more than I do with the right hon. Member the Junior Burgess 1659 for Oxford University in the necessity of reading into the terms of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals for dealing with threats to the peace of the world, that they must include the arising of any differences of opinion between the States even if the weaker of the two sides is so small that the peace of the world could hardly be taken to be jeopardised. Neither can it be worked if reality and idealism are to be treated as antagonistic things. We need our ideals. We need to temper them with reality. We need our reality but reality without ideals is expediency of the lowest type. I would add that it will not work if the social and economic rights of the common people are subordinated to the convenience of their rulers. It was largely through the misery of the mass of unemployed in Germany in the 1930's that Hitler was enabled to come to power, and if in any part of the world there is after this war the misery, destitution, unemployment that there was in the inter-war years, we may say goodbye to the peace of the world, because it cannot be laid on those foundations.
We have not before us the proposed Yalta solution of the vexed problem of the absolute veto of Great Powers. There is, therefore, an immense field for the decisions to be taken in San Francisco by our delegates, including my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, to whom we on this side certainly wish every prosperity and success in taking part in that great Conference. Wise decisions in San Francisco are fervently to be looked for, and I am very glad to be told that the French Government have decided to be one of the co-signatories in issuing the invitations for that Conference. It means, I hope, that we shall have the support and the good will of the French Government, as well as of its people, in forming this important machinery. For on the fruits of the labours of our delegates and others at San Francisco in hammering out a workable machine, the future of the world rests; but I should like to add that however good the machinery may be, it will not work unless the statesmen that have to use it put their hearts into it, and are of higher calibre than those who mishandled the affairs of the world and of the League of Nations in the inter-war years.
Now I come to the question of boundaries, which has proved in the past to 1660 be a fatal germ of war. Before we meet here in this House every day, we pray that our deliberations may be guided from above, and that the highest wisdom may be given to us in coming to our decisions. That prayer must be doubly necessary in the case of those who take part in determining the frontiers of the world at the Peace Conference. I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Harold Nicolson), who, I think, took part in some of those Conferences, would bear out what I say. It is essential to settle at the Peace Conference not merely what seems just at the present time but what will appear just 20 years hence, and this applies in particular to the frontiers of Germany herself. For that reason I was very glad to read in the Yalta Agreement, and to hear the remarks of the Prime Minister, about the Eastern frontier of Germany towards the mouth of the Oder. I think it would have been disastrous if the Eastern frontier of Germany had been fixed along the Oder all the way to the sea in advance of the peace settlement. I do not think that could have promoted the peace of the world and, as I understand it, it is not desired by the Poles. The inclusion of great tracts of Pomerania in the Polish Republic would be fraught with grave danger to the security of Poland and to the peace of Europe and the world, and I do not think that the British people in 10 or 20 years' time would go to war in order to enforce that settlement.
I turn now to the questions of financial and economic reconstruction. I do not propose to say anything about the financial side, because that is mainly a matter of what are known as the Bretton Woods' proposals, and the House will have future opportunity of debating that very intricate and complicated subject. Nor do I propose to-day to go into the question of U.N.R.R.A.: we have been promised that in the very early future we are to have a Debate here upon the present working of U.N.R.R.A., and of the whole question of the re-victualling of North-Western Europe. In view of that, it is quite unnecessary to say anything with regard to them to-day. However, those matters relate to the present and immediate future, and I think we are entitled to look beyond that period to the intervening years before the shortage of materials and labour comes to an end. One of the difficulties of Europe will be 1661 this: that whereas it is part of our business to render Germany impotent to make war, yet in the past, at any rate, the great industrial system of Germany, and her enormous output of fuel, was one of the essential parts of the economy of Europe. If that is not to be allowed in the future to work at a high level, it is very difficult to see how the economy of Europe can be restored until a completely new set-up has been devised. Therefore, we appear to be confronted with two mutually incompatible ideas: one, the destruction of German industry in order to prevent her making a further war; the other, the raising of German industry to a high level in order that she may make her necessary contribution to the reconstruction of Europe. Somehow that very grave problem will have to be faced, and a solution compatible with both objects devised.
My party are quite clear that, as part of the settlement after the war, the rights of the common people must be safeguarded and their standard of life promoted. In the international arrangements is the proposal for the formation of an economic and social council, but, so far, I have not seen any very full exposition of what the functions of that council are to be, and what is to be its relation to that very fine body, the I.L.O., which is in one sense the only international organisation that has lasted through the storms of war. The functions of the I.L.O. are exceedingly important to the work of the world, assisted, as it may be, by the international organisation which was initiated the other day at the World Trade Union Congress, and which I hope will uphold the working conditions of workers all over Europe and the world. Moreover, on this matter the Labour Movement feels very strongly with regard to the position of the workers of ex-enemy countries.
A suggestion has been made that in the matter of German reparations the Germans themselves should go to the devastated districts of Europe, and that they should themselves, by their own hands, do a great deal to repair them. I see no objection to that proposal, with one proviso, that there is nothing in the nature of slave labour or a reduction of the workers to a sub-standard of life. I am certain that my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side would resist any such action, because you cannot reduce the 1662 standard of life of one section of the population without affecting adversely the standard of life not only of Europe but of this country. Those who have the future in hand will have to be very careful in steering their way through the serious dangers of which we are all aware.
But important as are these material matters, frontiers, the economy and the standard of life, behind them all lies the restoration of the confidence of nations in the pledged word of treaties. The nervous system of the international body politic is perhaps the hardest thing of all to repair. In this connection, I should like to make one observation with regard to the question of Poland, which was the principal subject of yesterday's Debate. I appreciate the chagrin of my Polish friends at having a decision about the future of their country taken in their absence, I appreciate their feeling of intense regret that their Eastern frontier, in particular, has been decided against their wishes; I appreciate their anxiety with regard to the future. But I would beg them not to carry their lament over these "might have beens" to the extent of failing to grasp the opportunities which are still in front of them. If I have learned one thing in life I have learned this: that when a thing has happened, and has happened irrevocably, then so far as possible it must be put on one side, and one must turn one's mind to the future. Whatever may have been the theoretical case before the Division took place yesterday, it must be perfectly clear that Yalta is now settled policy and that its decisions cannot be undone. I would appeal to those who sponsored the cause of Poland yesterday to face that fact. They may regret—we all regret—that Poland has not been able to reach by consent a settlement with Russia in which both sides would feel they have a satisfactory solution. We may regret the proposed frontier, we may regret all kinds of things, but what is absolutely essential is that such advantages as Poland does get out of the Yalta settlement shall be implemented and seized to the full.
I said I thought that the Debate yesterday was on a very high level, and that the case for Poland was put with cogency and sincerity. But I do think this: that if a good deal more time had been spent, not in criticism of the Government, but in trying to discover exactly what opportunities now remain, it is possible that 1663 the fruits of that Debate might have been even more valuable than they are. We have had the promise of the three Great Powers that there shall be a free and independent Poland, that there shall be a fair transitional Government, and that there shall be, in future, elections of a free kind. To that the three Powers have put their hands and, in particular, the Prime Minister of this country has put his hand. The prestige and honour of this country are, therefore, bound up in that decision, and it is my advice to my Polish friends, and to those who so valiantly advocated their cause yesterday, that we should seek to develop that promise, and make sure that it is carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter. I recognise that this may be hard advice, but I believe that it is in the true interests of friends to give advice which is founded upon judgment, and not merely upon emotion. Therefore, I venture to give that advice, believing it to be in the best interests of the Polish nation, and those who have the interest of Poland at heart.
I have done, and I will say only this, in conclusion: In my opinion Yalta marks a great step forward. It may have its limitations, it may have its blemishes, but I never knew of a settlement, agreed to by three parties, that was without them. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, it does represent not merely a tremendous effort but a tremendous achievement in obtaining unity between three Great Powers that are fighting this war. Not only is it a great step forward, but it is a sincere step towards world unity, and on behalf of my party I can assure the Government that if it comes to a Division to-night we shall go into the Division Lobby in support of the Yalta decisions.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
I feel I owe an apology to Members of the House for intruding myself upon them again. I can only say that if what I hope will not become a daily turn is painful to them, it is infinitely more painful to me. But we thought that in view of the number of detailed points in the carefully thought out speeches, which have been made in the course of to-day's discussion, it would be only courteous to the House that one of the Ministers who took part in the discussions in the Crimea should himself seek to answer those points.
1664 I would begin by giving the House some information about the work we hope to do at San Francisco, or, rather, about the preliminary stage in that work. As a result of exchanges between His Majesty's Government here and His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions, it has been agreed that there shall be a preliminary meeting here between representatives of the British Commonwealth, in London, in advance of the San Francisco Conference. I know that not only His Majesty's Government but every section of the House will warmly welcome that decision. My right hon. Friend the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) emphasised how valuable and how desirable it was that we should have these exchanges with our friends from the Dominions. Of course we are all in entire agreement with him and it is a very happy fact that we can now be sure of consultation and discussion between us before we all go to this meeting. I have a very vivid recollection of the value of the contributions made by the Dominions Prime Ministers on foreign policy at their last meeting in London. It was for me as Foreign Secretary a most exhilarating experience to hear the views of these men—who are intimately informed at every stage of the knowledge that we possess—and to get their reactions and their advice. I also agree cordially with the description which Mr. Curtin, the Prime Minister of the Australian Commonwealth, gave about the conversations that we are going to have in London, which he very aptly called a "family discussion."
The right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) and East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) have referred to economic matters and asked whether we were neglecting them and concentrating too much on political affairs. The Dumbarton Oaks proposals in fact contain an important section, I think Section 9, which deals with economic matters, and advocates the setting up of an economic and social council. This section will be considered at the San Francisco Conference. I should like to make one comment on what an hon. Member said just now. I agree entirely with him as to the importance of the economic issue, but I should not myself accept the doctrine that it was the economic problems of Germany that brought about Hitler. That they contributed, that they gave him the occasion, I would 1665 agree, but I fear we must not delude ourselves that Hitler represents something which is not there. He represents something which is latent in the German character, or, shall we say, active. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) may not agree that it is there but I must say that but for the defences which have been so gallantly carried out in this island, he might easily have had personal experience of it. The hon. Member's is a nice, easy, simple solution, but I hope he will never have to put it physically to the test. He thinks that when all the capitalists have gone, the German will be a docile animal. If ever that is tested I hope he will not be too near the experiment. The right hon. Gentleman also said yesterday that we should not ask for millions of pounds in reparations but for reparations in kind. I agree and that is exactly what we are doing. No doubt mankind learns slowly, but we hope that it does learn and from the lesson of the last war we have learnt that reparations in kind are what we should seek. We should like, for instance, a little timber for the reconstruction of our houses. Russia will certainly provide some but I do not see why Germany should not too.
§ Mr. Tinker (Leigh)
Does that mean the transference of German population? The first speaker to-day made the point that reparations in kind meant transferring the German population to other parts.
§ Mr. Eden
Reparations in kind mean the delivery of materials like timber.
I have been asked whether we have made any plans at all for the control or guidance of the Press and radio in Germany after the surrender during the period of occupation. The answer is "Yes, we certainly have." The plans are ready, and will be put into operation in due course—I hope not very long ahead.
Now may I say a word about Austria? On 1st November, 1943, at Moscow we agreed on a joint declaration with the Soviet Government and the United States Government that Austria, the first victim of Nazi aggression, should be liberated from the German yoke. The position of Austria, though she waged war as an integral part of Germany, is none the less rather a special one. It is not conceivable in our judgment that she 1666 can be placed on an equal footing with liberated territory or Allied territory, or any arrangement of that kind. On the other hand, it has been repeatedly made clear that in the final settlement account must be taken of Austria's own contribution, if any, to the overthrow of the Nazi regime. So perhaps I might take this opportunity to remind the Austrian people that time is running short. It remains the wish of His Majesty's Government that a free and independent Austria should be re-established, and I should also say that, as far as we are concerned—and for the moment we are not the only persons concerned in the matter—we shall certainly wish to foster conditions in Austria in which, after the elimination of all vestiges of Nazism, democratic institutions may be restored and Austrian national life rebuilt in accordance with the wishes of the Austrian people.
Next may I make a brief reference to our nearest Ally geographically, than whom none is closer in our thoughts—that is, France? I should like to say how much we welcomed the visit we had from the French Foreign Secretary the other day, and how glad my colleagues and I were of the chance to talk matters over with him. We did so on the completely intimate terms which have characterised the relations of our two countries for so long. I think we were able to clarify certain points for our French friends and we are sure the results were worth while. We look forward to a steady development of our relations with France, and His Majesty a Government will labour with conviction at this most sympathetic and agreeable of all tasks.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir E. Spears) raised certain points about the Syrian situation. He was right when he said the French troops had intervened to restore order when it was being disturbed by the followers of a certain local chieftain who had taken matters out of the hands of the gendarmerie. As the French have territorial command under the arrangements there, they were entitled, as I understand it, to do this. In fact, therefore, through their intervention in this case, we think that loss of life was probably prevented. At any rate, the matter has now been settled by an agreement that both the French troops and the gendarmerie are to be with-withdrawn from the area, and as the 1667 result of a suggestion of ours, if there are any further difficulties, the matter will be referred to an Anglo-Franco-Syrian Commission of Inquiry. I wish that some of our other problems had for the moment so hopeful a complexion.
§ Sir E. Spears
I am naturally delighted to hear of the solution that has been arrived at, but I must emphasise the fact that the responsibility for maintaining order is that of the local Government.
§ Mr. Eden
My hon. and gallant Friend is aware of the arrangements, and I do not think I can go into details now, but the House will be relieved that the immediate problem is solved and be thankful for that. My hon. and gallant Friend also suggested that something in the nature of a Middle East office should be set up in London. That suggestion has been made before. The difficulty is that our interest in these territories varies. Sometimes it is administrative, sometimes purely diplomatic, and so forth, and that makes such a scheme impracticable.
Then I have been asked about the invitations to San Francisco; on what basis they were made, and why we asked people to declare war. The position is simply this. Invitations were issued to Allied and Associated Powers. In some cases Associated Powers had refrained from a declaration of war at our own request, and that being so, we felt it only fair to those nations to give them the opportunity to declare war, and to become, thereby, members of the United Nations and foundation members of the club if they so desired.
Let me refer to two other matters which have been raised in the Debate. I want to say a word about Yugoslavia and also a word about Poland. My hon. Friend the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) said about Yugoslavia that free elections should be held, and held quickly. Of course, I agree about free elections being held, but I am not so sure about their being held quickly. The whole country is not yet liberated. Everybody knows what the difficulties are about holding elections here, even under our conditions and if we are to have really fair elections, I think it may be that they had better not be held too quickly. I was also asked about newspaper correspondents. I answered a question about that a few days 1668 ago. The position is that there is no barrier at all to the entry of newspaper correspondents, that there are two in Yugoslavia, that visas have been granted for two more, and that a declaration has been made by the Yugoslav Government that they would like more. So far as we are concerned, we would welcome that; for the more information that is obtained from those countries which have been liberated recently the better. If hon. Members are short of information, I assure them that it is not because the Government do not want to give it. On the contrary, we would like to see as many correspondents as possible in these countries to give fair and dispassionate accounts of what is going on.
§ Mr. Eden
I am not sure about that one. My hon. Friend also asked whether it is true that in large areas only Communist officials were in control and only Communists were allowed in. I can absolutely assure him as regards people being allowed in that there is no such limitation. Nobody could describe Dr. Subasic as a Communist, whatever else he may be. The majority of the present members of the Yugoslav Government are not Communists. There are, in fact, only five Communists out of the total of 22 members of the Government. I might add that I understand that some of those here, who have long been connected with Yugoslav politics, may shortly be returning to Yugoslavia, and in due course they may play a political part again. One never knows what anybody's political fortune may be. As regards the freedom of the people to express their opinions, I received this morning the best testimony one could wish in a telegram from our representative at Belgrade, giving an account of the tremendous welcome given to Field-Marshal Alexander when he arrived to meet Marshal Tito. It is evident that the visit, as anybody who knows Field-Marshal Alexander would be sure it would be, was a very great success indeed, and that he has charmed the people of Belgrade as effectively as he has defeated his enemies in the field. I was asked, again, whether we would see that the elections are fair. That is our object in all these countries, and the House can be assured that we 1669 shall do everything in our power in that sense.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Mack) asked a question which I should like to answer because it helps once again to clarify a point about which there seems to be some doubt. He asked whether facilities are now to be given to the representatives of the Lublin Government to have contact with Polish seamen here, just as the representatives of the London Government have contact with them. The answer is, "No." We have in no sense recognised the Lublin Committee, and, may I add, we have no intention of recognising the Lublin Committee. We do not regard it as representative of Poland at all. When my right hon. Friend and I met the representatives of this Committee in Moscow, I must say that they did not make a favourable impression upon us. There is no question, and the House need not be anxious that there is any question, of our affording recognition to them—not at all. I hoped that I had made that clear yesterday, but from some of the comments in the Debate, I am not sure that I did. It does not surprise me to hear for instance, as I was told in this Debate, that the Lublin Radio is pouring out streams of contentious stuff. I have no doubt what the Committee want. Their purpose is to maintain the position they already hold; but that is not what we want, nor is it what the Yalta Conference decided upon. The Foreign Secretary of Soviet Russia and the Ambassadors are now beginning discussions in Moscow, and we shall see whether a broadly representative Polish Government can be created. If it can be created, and if we are satisfied that it is representative, then and only then will we and the United States Government recognise it. If it cannot be created, we shall stay as we are. If it can be, then that is a satisfactory solution. I hope that on this point there is now no further misunderstanding.
§ Mr. Eden
We have recognised this Government in London, which has gone through many changes. We will continue to recognise it until a new Government is created—if it is created—as a result of 1670 the conversations in Moscow, and provided it can be regarded as broadly representative of the Polish people. I received a message a short while ago, to which I understand the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) referred, of the reported arrest of the wife of the present Polish Prime Minister in London and a certain number of people working with her in the Red Cross. [Interruption.] She is reported to have been arrested in Poland. I have had no report about that except a message just before I came to the House, from the Polish Ambassador in London. Of course, we shall take that matter up, not with the Lublin Committee, which we do not recognise, but with the Soviet Government, at the same time informing our American friends of the message we have received. I will then, in due course, when we have made our inquiries, report to the House the outcome of those inquiries, and of those representations.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University and others who have been a little critical again to-day—and I must reply to them—really have not told us what alternative course we ought to pursue. What they have said is, "We do not think you ought to have got into this position." Let me assure the House that we did not want to get into this position. It was because we did not wish to arrive at this position that, a long time ago, my right hon. Friend and I began our efforts—the moment when Polish-Russian relations were broken off—to try to restore them. I repeat what the Prime Minister said, that if little more than a year ago the Polish Government had felt able to come to a decision about the frontier position in the East, I am quite certain it would have been possible for us to make arrangements with our Allies whereby that Government would now, be in Warsaw with Mr. Mikolajczyk as its Prime Minister. It is just because we feared this present situation was going to arise that we made those efforts. Faced with that situation, neither my hon. Friend, nor anyone else in this Debate, has told us of any course we could pursue, except to sit still and take no action at all. I think it was the hon. Member for Cambridge University who referred to some reference I made to Goebbels in the House yesterday. All I said—I do not think there was very much harm in it, and it seems to be literally true—was: 1671Some of my hon. Friends have said with warmth, that the decision we arrived at at Yalta has become a matter of world anxiety, I really cannot accept that that is true. So far as I know the deepest anxiety of all was caused to Goebbels. If the House will read some of the stuff put out by Goebbels, after the Yalta Agreement, they will see in that the measure of the success of that Agreement." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1945; Vol. 408, c. 1512.]I was not passing any reflection on any hon. Member of this House. I was only expressing, I hope, not unnatural satisfaction that Goebbels found himself anxious.
Finally, I want to deal with the question which has been brought into this Debate as to whether or not the Government were right or wise to ask the House to express its opinion on the work we have done in the Crimea. This raises, I fully understand, a very important issue, and we did not lightly take our decision. We gave a three days' Debate, so that all Members of the House, as far as possible, should have a chance to express their views. But after that, after there has been this wide range of opinion, I think it is not only reasonable, but absolutely essential, that the Government should ask the House for an expression of its opinion. Surely, that is how our Parliamentary institutions are carried on. I beg my hon. Friends to believe that it is not a question of trying to test anybody's loyalty. After a work of this kind—whether they agree with it all or not, everyone will agree it is a work of great magnitude and of immense significance for the future—the Government endorse the work our own Prime Minister did, and surely it is not only right, but necessary, that we should ask the House to express its views. If we did not do so, let the House think for a moment what the consequences would be. Each foreign country would assess the opinion of this House in a different way. Everybody who knows the House can judge, or thinks he can judge, though he may not always do this rightly, how the trends of opinion are moving, but foreigners cannot judge that; foreign Governments cannot judge that. They will read the speeches, and it is very
§ natural that in almost any of these Debates it is the critics who are most anxious to speak. That is as it should be. If you are well content there is not much point in getting up and purring once or twice. If you do not feel that way, it is a more agreeable exercise to get up and scratch once or twice. That is always the effect Debates have. If we do not ask the House to take a decision, I do nut know how foreign opinion would assess the view of the House on the work we have done.
§ What are we asking? We are not asking for a detailed approval of every line and comma of this document, though much trouble was taken over those lines and commas What we ask for is, in the terms of the Motion, for approval of our work and for authority to go on with it. It is an endorsement which we must have. My hon. Friend said, "What will happen if you fail in this Polish business, despite having got the support of the House?" That would be a very serious state of affairs, I do not deny it at all. All I am asking the House to say is we must try, not only in respect of Poland, but of all the other big issues, to go forward.
§ May I conclude with these words? My right hon. Friend on whom the heaviest burden fell, strove, and I think with success, to bring out of the Crimea a contribution to the future. Let the House remember for a moment the state of our relations as they appeared before the Crimea Conference, and let them look at them now. Let them look at the disappointment our unity has been to the enemy, and surely they must approve in general of what we have done, which is all we ask of them. If they will give us that message, we will go forward, and do our best to be worthy of their trust.
That this House approves the declaration of joint policy agreed to by the three great Powers at the Crimea Conference and, in particular, welcomes their determination to maintain unity of action not only in achieving the final defeat of the common enemy but, thereafter, in peace as in war.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 413; Noes, O.1675
|Division No. 10.]||AYES.||[6.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyle, Lt.-Col. Sir G. J.||Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)|
|Adamson, Mrs. Jennie L. (Dartford)||Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)||Barnes, A. J.|
|Agnew, Comdr. P. G.||Apsley, Lady||Barstow, P. G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Bartlett, C. V. O.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Astor, Lt.-Col. Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Baxter, A. Beverley|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)||Hulbert, Wing-Commander N. J.|
|Beattie, F. (Cathcart)||Dunglass, Lord||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Eccles, D. M.||Hunter, Sir T.|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hurd, Sir P. A.|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hon. R. E. B. (P'ts'h)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C.(E'burgh)|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Ellis, Sir G.||Hynd, J. B.|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Edition, Captain Sir G. S.||Isaacs, G. A.|
|Benson, G.||Emery J. F.||James, Wing-Com. A. (Well'borough)|
|Berry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||James, Admiral Sir W. (Ports'th, N.)|
|Beveridge, Sir W. H.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Jenkins A. (Pontypool)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Evans, Colonel Sir A. (Cardiff S.)||Jennings, R.|
|Blaker, Sir B.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Jewson, P. W.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||John, W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fermoy, Lord||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. (Stl'g&C'gm'n)|
|Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Fildes, Sir H.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Boyce, Sir H. Leslie||Findlay, Sir E.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k Newington)|
|Brabner, Comdr. R. A.||Fleming, Squadron-Leader E. L.||Jones, Sir L. (Swansea, W.)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckress)||Foster, W.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. J. G. (H'der's)||Fox, Squadron-Leader Sir G. W. G.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hon. L. W.|
|Brass, Capt. Sir W.||Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)||Keatings, Major E. M.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Furness, S. N.||Keir, Mrs. Cazalet|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||Kendall, W. D.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Gallacher, W.||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwall)||Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Kimball, Major L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd(P'b'ke)||Kirby, B. V.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Gibbins, J.||Lakin, C. H. A.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Gibbons, Lt.-Col. W. E.||Lamb, Sir J. O.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Gibson, Sir C. G.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Bull, B. B.||Glanville, J. E.||Lancaster, Lieut.-Col. C. G.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gledhill, G.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.|
|Burden, T. W.||Gluckstein, Col. L. H.||Lawson, J. J. (Chester-le-Street)|
|Burke, W. A.||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Goldie, N. B.||Leigh, Sir J.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Cower, Sir R. V.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Grant-Ferris, Wing Commander R.||Levy, T.|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Granville, E. L.||Lewis, O.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Liddall, W. S.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)||Greenwell, Col. T. G.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Cape, T.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Carver, Colonel W. H.||Gretton, J. F.||Little, Sir E. Graham- (London Univ.)|
|Cary, R. A.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Llewellin, Col. Rt. Hon. J. J.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Ladywood)|
|Challen, Flight-Lieut. C.||Grin, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff E.)||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.|
|Channon, H.||Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard|
|Chapman, A. (Ruthergien)||Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||Lyons, Colonel A. M.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Groves, T. E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Oliver|
|Chater, D.||Guest, Lt.-Col. H. (Drake)||Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, N.)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gunston, Major Sir D. W.||McCallum, Major D.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hn. Winston S. (Ep'ing)||Guy, W. H.||McCorquodale, Malcolm S.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Macdonald, Captain Polar (I. of W.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Mack, J. D.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hambre, Capt. A. V.||McKie, J. H.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hammersley, S. S.||MacLaren, A.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Maclay, Hon. J. P. (Paisley)|
|Conant, Major R. J. E.||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||McNeil, H.|
|Cook, Lt.-Col. Sir T. R. A. M.(N'flk, N.)||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.||Magnay, T.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Maitland, Sir A.|
|Cox, Captain H. B. Trevor||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Mander, Sir G. le M.|
|Critchley, A.||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Manning, C. A. G.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Heneage, Lt.-Col. Sir A. P.||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Cundiff, Major F. W.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan.||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hepworth, J.||Martin, J. H.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Herbert, Petty Officer A. P.(OxfordU.)||Mathers, G.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Hewlett, T. H.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Hicks, E. G.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Higgs, W. F.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)|
|De la Bère, R.||Hill, Prof. A. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Danville, Alfred||Hogg, Hon. Q. MoG.||Mitchell, Colonel H. P.|
|Dobbie, W.||Holdsworth, Sir H.||Mitcheson Sir G. G.|
|Doland, G. F.||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Montague, F.|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||Holmes, Sir Stanley||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. C. R.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||Horabin, T. L.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. (Rochdale)|
|Drewe, C.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Hubbard, T. F.||Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hudson, Sir A. (Hackney N.)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Hughes, R. Moelwyn||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Major C. E.||Salter, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Oxford U.)||Thorneycroft, Capt. G. E. P. (St'ff'd)|
|Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)|
|Nall, Sir J.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. E. D.||Thurtle, E.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Schuster, Sir G. E.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Neven Spines, Major B. H. H.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)||Tomlinson, G.|
|Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selkirk)||Touche, G. C.|
|Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)||Selley, Sir H. R.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)||Tufnelt, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Shephard, S.||Turton, R. H.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Owen, Major Sir G.||Shinwell, E.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W.||Shute, Col. Sir J. J.||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Sidney, Captain W. P.||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Peat, C. U.||Silkin, L.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Silverman, S. S.||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Peters, Dr. S. J.||Simmonds, Sir O. E.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.||Waterhouse, Captain Rt. Hon. C.|
|Power, Sir J. C.||Smith, Sir Bracewell (Dulwich)||Watson, W. McL.|
|Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Watt, G. S. Harvie (Richmond)|
|Prescott, Captain W. R. S.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)||Webbs, Sir W. Harold|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Prior, Comdr. R. M.||Smithers, Sir W.||Weston, W. Garfield|
|Pritt, D. N.||Snadden, W. McN.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Procter, Major H. A.||Somerset, Sir T.||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham).|
|Purbrick, R.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Pym, L. R.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Spears, Maj.-Gen. Sir E. L.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Ramsden, Sir E.||Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Rankin, Sir R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring)||Wilmot, John|
|Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey).||Storey, S.||Windsor, W.|
|Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Strickland, Capt. W. F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)||Studholme, Major H. C.||Wise, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Suirdale, Colonel Viscount.||Woodburn, A.|
|Riley, B.||Summers, G. S.||Woolley, Major W. E.|
|Robertson, D. (Streatham)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M.A.(M'cham)||Sutcliffe, H.||Wright, Mrs. Beatrice F. (Bodmin)|
|Robinson, Wing-Corn. J. R. (Blackp'l)||Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. N.||Wright, Group-Capt. J. (Erdington)|
|Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Taskar, Sir R. I.||York, Major C.|
|Ross Taylor, W.||Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)||Young, Major A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Rothschild, J. A. de||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Rowlands, G.||Teeling, Flight-Lieut. W.|
|Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'thm'tn)||Mr. James Stuart and|
|Salt, E. W.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Mr. Whiteley.|
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Mr. McGovern and|
|Mr. Campbell Stephen.|
That this House approves the declaration of joint policy agreed to by the three great Powers at the Crimea Conference and, in particular, welcomes their determination to maintain unity of action not only in achieving the final defeat of the common enemy but, thereafter, in peace as in war.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
May I raise a point of Order with you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether, in view of the circumstances of this so-called Division, when nobody went into the Opposition Lobby, it is possible to make some arrangement in the procedure so as to avoid putting hon. Members to this inconvenience?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
The Chair certainly has a discretion, but in this case I did not think it right to exercise that discretion.
§ Mr. McGovern
May I take it that the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) is now desirous of a Reichstag in this country?