§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
The departure of the Prime Minister for the United States in all the present circumstances is so important, that we thought it right there should be a Debate in this House beforehand. Although we are divided in domestic affairs by a considerable and widening gulf, we earnestly desire that in our foreign relations we shall still speak as the great united British nation, the British Commonwealth and Empire, which strove through all the perils and havoc of the war, unconquered and unconquerable. It is our wish, on this side of the House, so far as we can give effect to it, and as long as we can give effect to it, that the Prime Minister shall represent abroad, not only the Socialist majority in the present, and we trust, transient House of Commons, but all parties in the State. What I am anxious to submit to the House this afternoon has no other object than that.
From the conversations I have had with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, I have formed the opinion that His Majesty's Government would think it inopportune today for our Debate to range over the whole European scene, or to deviate either into the tangled problems of particular European countries, or into the troubles of the Middle East, for example, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Egypt. It would seem wise to concentrate, therefore, as much as possible, on the eve of a mission of this character, upon the supreme matter of our relations with the United States, and, in particular, as it seems to me, upon the momentous declaration to the world made by President Truman in his Navy Day address in New York on Saturday, 27th October.
It would not, however, be possible to speak on this subject of the United States without referring to the other great partner in our victory over the terrible foe. To proceed otherwise would be to derange the balance which must always be preserved, if the harmony and poise of world affairs is to be maintained. I must, therefore, begin by expressing what I am 1291 sure is in everybody's heart, namely, the deep sense of gratitude we owe to the noble Russian people and valiant Soviet Armies, who, when they were attacked by Hitler, poured out their blood and suffered immeasurable torments until absolute victory was gained. Therefore, I say that it is the profound desire of this House—and the House speaks in the name of the British nation—that these feelings of comradeship and friendship, which have developed between the British and Russian peoples, should be not only preserved but rapidly expanded. Here I wish to say how glad we all are to know and feel that Generalissimo Stalin is still strongly holding the helm and steering his tremendous ship. Personally, I cannot feel anything but the most lively admiration for this truly great man, the father of his country, the ruler of its destinies in times of peace, and the victorious defender of its life in time of war.
Even if as, alas, is possible—or not impossible—we should develop strong differences on many aspects of policy, political, social, even, as we think, moral, with the Soviet Government, no state of mind must be allowed to occur in this country which ruptures or withers those great associations between our two peoples which were our glory and our safety, in the late frightful convulsion. I am already trespassing a little beyond those limits within which I have agreed with the Government it would be useful that this Debate should lie, but I feel it necessary to pay this tribute to Soviet Russia with all her tragic load of suffering, all her awful losses and devastation, all her grand, simple, enduring effort. Any idea of Britain pursuing an anti-Russian policy, or making elaborate combinations to the detriment of Russia, is utterly opposed to British thought and conscience. Nothing but a long period of very marked injuries and antagonisms, which we all hope may be averted, could develop any such mood again in this land.
I must tell the House, speaking with my own knowledge, that the world outlook is, in several respects, today less promising than it seemed after the German capitulation of 1918, or after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. I remember well the period immediately after the last war, when I was a Minister in high 1292 office and very close to the Prime Minister of the day. Then, there were much higher hopes of the world's future than there are now. Many things, no doubt, have been done better this time, though we have not yet felt the effects of them, but certainly there is today none of that confidence among men that they or their children will never see another world war, which there undoubtedly was in 1919. In 1919 there was the same sense of hope and belief as there is now that we were moving into a new world and that easements and ameliorations awaited the masses of our people. But added to that, there was the buoyant and comforting conviction that all the wars were ended. Personally, I did not share that conviction even at that enthusiastic moment, but one felt it all round one in a degree that is lacking today.
It is our first duty to supply the solid grounds on which this, hope may arise again and live. I think the speech of the President of the United States on 27th October is the dominant factor in the present world situation. This was the speech of the head of a State and nation, which has proved its ability to maintain armies of millions, in constant victorious battle in both hemispheres at the same time. If I read him and understand him correctly, President Truman said, in effect, that the United States would maintain its vast military power and potentialities, and would join with any like-minded nations, not only to resist but to prevent aggression, no matter from what quarter it came, or in what form it presented itself. Further, he made it plain that in regions which have come under the control of the Allies, unfair tyrannical Governments not in accordance with the broad principles of democracy as we understand them would not receive recognition from the Government of the United States. Finally, he made it clear that the United States must prepare to abandon old-fashioned isolation and accept the duty of joining with other friendly and well-disposed nations, to prevent war, and to carry out those high purposes, if necessary, by the use of force carried to its extreme limits.
It is, of course, true that all these propositions and purposes have been set forth in the Declaration of the United Nations at San Francisco in May. None the less, this reaffirmation by the Presi- 1293 dent of the United States on 27th October is of transcendant importance. If such a statement had been made in the Summer of 1914, the Kaiser would never have launched an aggressive war over a Balkan incident. All would have come to a great parley, between the most powerful Governments of those days. In the face of such a declaration, the world war of 1914 would not have occurred. Such a declaration in 1919 would have led to a real Treaty of Peace and a real armed League of Nations. Such a declaration at any time between the two wars would have prevented the second. It would have made the League of Nations, or a world League strong enough to prevent that re-arming of Germany, which has led all of us through so much tribulation and danger, and Germany herself to punishment and ruin which may well shock the soul of man. Therefore, I feel it is our duty today, in the most definite manner, to welcome and salute the noble declaration made by the President of the United States and to make it plain that upon the principles set forth in the 12 Articles, which follow so closely upon those of the Atlantic Charter, we stand by the United States with a conviction which overrides all other considerations. I cannot bring myself to visualise, in its frightful character, another world war, but none of us knows what would happen if such a thing occurred. It is a sombre thought that, so long as the new world organisation is so loosely formed, such possibilities and their consequences are practically beyond human control.
There is a general opinion which I have noticed, that it would be a serious disaster if the particular minor planet which we inhabit blew itself to pieces, or if all human life were extinguished upon its surface, apart, that is to say, from fierce beings, armed with obsolescent firearms, dwelling in the caverns of the Stone Age. There is a general feeling that that would be a regrettable event. Perhaps, however, we flatter ourselves. Perhaps we are biased but everyone realises how far scientific knowledge has outstripped human virtue. We all hope that men are better, wiser, more merciful than they were 10,000 years ago. There is certainly a great atmosphere of comprehension. There is a growing factor which one may call world public opinion, most powerful, most persuasive, most valuable. We 1294 understand our unhappy lot, even if we have no power to control it.
Those same deep, uncontrollable anxieties which some of us felt in the years before the war recur, but we have also a hope that we had not got then. That hope is the strength and resolve of the United States to play a leading part in world affairs. There is this mighty State and nation, which offers power and sacrifice in order to bring mankind out of the dark valley through which we have been travelling. The valley is indeed dark, and the dangers most menacing, but we know that not so far away are the broad uplands of assured peace. Can we reach them? We must reach them. This is our sole duty.
I am sure we should now make it clear to the United States that we will march at their side in the cause that President Truman has devised, that we add our strength to their strength, and that their stern sober effort shall be matched by our own. After all, if everything else fails—which we must not assume—here is the best chance of survival. Personally, I feel that it is more than survival. It may even be safety, and, with safety, a vast expansion of prosperity. Having regard to all these facts of which many of us here are aware at the present time, we may confidently believe that with the British Empire and Commonwealth standing at the side of the United States, we shall together be strong enough to prevent another world catastrophe. As long as our peoples act in absolute faith and honour to each other, and to all other nations, they need fear none and they need fear nothing. The British and American peoples come together naturally, and without the need of policy or design. That is because they speak the same language, were brought up on the same common law, and have similar institutions and an equal love of individual liberty. There is often no need for policy or statecraft to make British and Americans agree together at an international council table. They can hardly help agreeing on three out of four things. They look at things in the same way. No policies, no pacts, no secret understandings are needed between them. On many of the main issues affecting our conduct and our existence, the English-speaking peoples of the world are in general agreement. 1295 It would be a mistake to suppose that increasingly close and friendly relations between Great Britain and the United States, imply an adverse outlook towards any other Power. Our friendship may be special, but it is not exclusive. On the contrary, every problem dealing with other Powers is simplified by Anglo-American agreement and harmony. That is a fact which. I do not think the Foreign Secretary, or any one who took part in the recent Conference, would doubt. It is not as if it were necessary to work out some arrangement between British and Americans at a conference. In nearly every case where there is not some special difficulty between them, they take the same view of the same set of circumstances, and the fact that that is so, makes it all the more hopeful that other Powers gathered at the Conference will be drawn into the circle of agreement which must precede action.
It is on this basis I come—and I do not want to detain the House very long—to the atomic bomb. According to our present understanding with the United States, neither country is entitled to disclose its secrets to a third country without the approval of the other. A great deal has already been disclosed by the United States in agreement with us. An elaborate document giving an immense amount of information on the scientific and theoretical aspects was published by the Americans several weeks ago. A great deal of information is also common property all over the world. We are told by those who advocate immediate public disclosure, that the Soviet Government are already possessed of the scientific knowledge, and that they will be able to make atomic bombs in a very short time. This, I may point out, is somewhat inconsistent with the argument that they have a grievance, and also with the argument, for what it is worth, that we and the United States have at this moment any great gift to bestow, such as would induce a complete melting of hearts and create some entirely new relationship.
What the United States do not wish to disclose is the practical production method which they have developed, at enormous expense and on a gigantic scale. This would not be an affair of scientists or diplomatists handing over envelopes containing formulæ. If effective, any such disclosure would have to take the form of 1296 a considerable number of Soviet specialists, engineers and scientists visiting the United States arsenals, for that is what the manufacturing centres of the atomic bomb really are. They would have to visit them, and they would have to dwell there amid the plant, so that it could all be explained to them at length and at leisure. These specialists would then return to their own country, carrying with them the blueprints and all the information which they had obtained, together, no doubt, with any further improvements which might have occurred to them. I trust that we are not going to put pressure on the United States to adopt such a course. I am sure that if the circumstances were reversed, and we or the Americans asked for similar access to the Russian arsenals, it would not be granted. During the war we imparted many secrets to the Russians, especially in connection with Radar, but we were not conscious of any adequate reciprocity. Even in the heat of the war both countries acted under considerable reserve.
Therefore, I hope that Great Britain, Canada and the United States will adhere to the policy proclaimed by President Truman, and will treat their knowledge and processes as a sacred trust to be guarded for the benefit of all nations and as a deterrent against aggressive war. I myself, as a British subject, cannot feel the slightest anxiety that these great powers should at the present moment be in the hands of the United States. I am sure they will not use them in any aggressive sense, or in the indulgence of territorial or commercial appetites. They, like Great Britain, have no need or desire for territorial gains. To my mind, it is a matter for rejoicing—[Interruption.] Is this an argument or a duet?
§ Mr. Churchill
I am not sufficiently familiar with the vernacular to follow the exact purpose and intensity of that joke. I am sure they will not use those powers in any aggressive way. Like Great Britain, they have no need for territorial gain. Personally, I feel it must be in most men's minds here today that it is a matter for rejoicing that these powers of manufacture are in such good hands. The possession of these powers will help the United States and our Allies to build 1297 up the structure of world security. It may be the necessary lever which is required to build up that great structure of world security.
How long, we may ask, is it likely that this advantage will rest with the United States? In the Debate on the Address I hazarded the estimate that it would be three or four years. According to the best information I have been able to obtain, I see no reason to alter that estimate, and certainly none to diminish it, but even when that period is over, whatever it may prove to be, the progress made by the United States' scientists and, I trust, by our own, both in experiment and manufacture, may well leave us and them with the prime power and responsibility for the use of these dire superhuman weapons. I also agree with President Truman when he says that those who argue that, because of the atomic bomb, there is no need for armies, navies and air forces, are at present 100 per cent. wrong. I should be glad to hear, in whatever terms His Majesty's Ministers care to express themselves, that this is also the view of His Majesty's Government.
I cannot leave this subject without referring to another aspect which is forced upon me by speeches made in a recent Debate on the Adjournment. It was said that unless all knowledge of atomic energy, whether of theory or production, were shared among all the nations of the world, some of the British and American scientists would act independently, by which, I suppose, is meant that they would betray to foreign countries whatever secrets remained. In that case, I hope the law would be used against those men with the utmost rigour. Whatever may be decided on these matters should surely be decided by Parliaments and responsible Governments, and not by scientists, however eminent and however ardent they may be. Mr. Gladstone said that expert knowledge is limited knowledge. On many occasions in the past we have seen attempts to rule the world by experts of one kind and another. There have been theocratic Governments, military Governments and aristocratic Governments. It is now suggested that we should have scientistic—not scientific—Governments. It is the duty of scientists, like all other people, to serve the State and not to rule it because they are scientists. If they 1298 want to rule the State they must get elected to Parliament or win distinction in the Upper House and so gain access to some of the various administrations which are formed from time to time. Most people in the English-speaking world will, I believe, think it much better that great decisions should rest with Governments lawfully elected on democratic lines. I associate myself with the majority in that opinion.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the King's Norton Division of Birmingham (Captain Blackburn) showed the other night that some breach of trust had already occurred, when he referred to the secret agreement signed by President Roosevelt and myself at Quebec in 1943, and endeavoured to give some account of it Let me say that, so far as I am concerned, I have no objection to the publication of any document or any agreement which I have signed on this subject with the late President. Surely, however, this is a matter for both the British and United States Governments to settle together in full agreement. Neither of them has the right to publish without the consent of the other, and it would be very wrong for anyone to try to force their hands or press them unduly.
§ Captain Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
May I point out that I did not make the suggestion that I knew of any secret agreement or that a leakage had occurred? I said that it was apparent from the Smyth Report, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, and from the White Paper and other circumstances, that some such agreement must, in fact, have been entered into.
§ Mr. Churchill
I took great pains to read carefully what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said in his very eloquent and able speech, and I think the references which I have made today, and which also were carefully considered, will be found appropriate and not unjust. I am not making any attack. I only say that it occurred to me to be quite clear from what he said that there has been somewhere a breach of confidence, which he published and brought to the notice of the House in the exercise of his responsibilities as a Member of Parliament. This, of course, was immediately telegraphed to the United States, and at the Press Conference the next day President Truman was questioned about it. A truncated 1299 report appeared in some of the newspapers here, with the answers which he gave, but not setting forth the exact question which elicited the answer. I have taken pains to verify the actual text of the answers which President Truman gave at his Press Conference on 31st October. He was asked by correspondents the following question:Mr. President, it was said in the House of Commons yesterday that President Roosevelt and former Prime Minister Churchill reached a secret agreement at Quebec on the peacetime use of the atom bomb. Do youThe President interposed:I do not think that is true.Those were the exact words, where he interposed.As nearly as I can find out, on the atom energy release programme, Great Britain, Canada and the United States are in equal partnership on its development, and Mr. Attlee is coming over here to discuss that phase of the situation with the President of the United States.QUESTION: Well, Mr. President, are these three countries in equal possession of the knowledge of how we produce the bomb?THE PRESIDENT: They are.QUESTION: Great Britain knows as much about how we produced that as we do?THE PRESIDENT: They do.It seems to me that that is a satisfactory statement of the whole position, and it affords an exceedingly good basis upon which the Prime Minister may begin any discussion he may wish to have with the President. Subject to anything that the Foreign Secretary may say, I strongly advise the House for the present to leave the question where it now lies.
May I in conclusion submit to the House a few simple points which, it seems to me, should gain their approval? First, we should fortify in every way our special and friendly connections with the United States, aiming always at a fraternal association for the purpose of common protection and world peace. Secondly, this association should in no way have a point against any other country, great or small, in the world, but should, on the contrary, be used to draw the leading victorious Powers ever more closely together on equal terms and in all good faith and good will. Thirdly, we should not abandon our special relationship with the United States and Canada about the atomic bomb, and we should aid the 1300 United States to guard this weapon as a sacred trust for the maintenance of peace. Fourthly, we should seek constantly to promote and strengthen the world organisation of the United Nations, so that, in due course, it may eventually be fitted to become the safe and trusted repository of these great agents. Fifthly, and this, I take it, is already agreed, we should make atomicbombs, and have them here, even if manufactured elsewhere, in suitable safe storage with the least possible delay. Finally, let me say on behalf of the whole House that we wish the Prime Minister the utmost success in his forthcoming highly important visit to Washington.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the state of affairs in the world today is as precarious and as ominous as it has been at any time since it became clear that Nazism was doomed to failure and defeat. The conditions in various parts of the world, in Europe, in the Middle East, in India, in China, are such that they cannot be viewed without the greatest anxiety with regard to the future. The Prime Minister has chosen, and rightly chosen, this moment to set out on a mission to America, and there cannot be anyone of good will and with any sense of responsibility who does not wish him well in his great task. I think he has chosen wisely in undertaking first this visit to President Truman. I believe the first requisite of a permanent peace is a clear, definite and full understanding and agreement upon all major questions of policy between the United States of America and the Commonwealth of British Nations, for if we disagree, or if we do not pursue the same high ideal, then, indeed, the outlook for world agreement is dim and cloudy.
On 27th October President Truman not only issued his Twelve Points but introduced them in a speech which contained some matters of grave importance. We all welcomed the statement that the United States, like ourselves, as we knew and had hoped from the Atlantic Charter, seek no territorial expansion or selfish advantage, that they have no plans for aggression against any other State, large or small, no objective which need conflict with the peaceful aims of any other nation; but this was accompanied by the statement 1301 that the United States also would need and seek bases for her own fleet and her defence. I shall return to this. For the moment I am only calling attention to the difficulties of reconciling the Twelve Points with the avowed policy which is at present being pursued by the United States. But most important of all was the statement that, not only would the secret of the atomic bomb be strictly confined to the United States of America, or, rather to its Government and its scientists; there was, further, the statement that it would not even be discussed with Britain, or even with Canada.
I should like to return to this point, or rather to its implications, but for the moment I desire to draw attention to the psychological effect which that must have upon Russia. I agree that in excluding us all from the secrets of the atomic bomb, it can be said that no distinction is drawn between Great Britain or even Canada, or any other of our Dominions, and Russia. But all the world knows that the use of the atomic bomb against Britain or any one of our Dominions is not only unthinkable to us but unthinkable to anyone in the United States. There are several views about Russia, about her Government or her policy, but everyone seems to be agreed that Russians are realists. Can anyone doubt that, the suggestion underlying this declaration was that Russia is being put on a level different from that of the United States of America—that the bomb undoubtedly gives its possessor overwhelmingly superior power and places everyone else upon a lower plane? It seems to me that the speech has strengthened rather than otherwise the growth of mistrust, the seeds of which have already been too widely sown. To my mind there is nothing so appalling or perilous as talk, either in public places of in private, of the possibilities of jealousies and of antagonisms and of the prospects of another war. Let there be talk only of permanent peace, mutual understanding and mutual aid.
The outstanding tragedy, even among all the other tragedies, transcending even that drab drama which is now being enacted in Europe, is the breakdown of the Conference of the Great Powers. I hope and believe sincerely that the Prime Minister will bend his best endeavours to bring the Powers again around the dis 1302 cussion table, to work out the conditions of peace for themselves and for the world. All three of the Great Powers have made such mighty sacrifices, so many millions of lives have been lost, and the danger of another war is fraught with such horror, that surely the leaders of all countries should have one object and one only—to obtain a just, fair and, above all, a lasting understanding; to abolish malice, to abolish jealousy, to abolish all aggression, all lust for power and desire for domination, and abolish all fear of one another. Unfortunately, each of them, and I am afraid I heard echoes of it again today in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, is pursuing the old methods that have proved so fatal in the past. No sooner is a war ended—the right hon. Gentleman reminded us today of 1919—than preparations are made for the next, and always, be it noted, on the plea that each must do something for his own defence, against the possibility of aggression by somebody else, each must seek new Allies lest somebody else should "snaffle" them first.
That unfortunate atmosphere of suspicion, jealousy and doubt is prevalent today throughout the world. Russia is securing her defences, pushing her boundaries further and further West, ousting millions of people from their homes, creating buffer States which are under her protection, exulting in her own strength, in her own immense resources, in her power of production, and, what is more, in the secrecy with which she can enshroud it. On the other hand, the United States, at the very moment that this great declaration of the Twelve Points was made, was exulting in her mighty fleet, the greatest in the world today, her vast Army, the enormous strength of her air power. She added to that claims for further bases and bastions, and finally claimed to hold the secret of the atomic bomb as a sacred trust for the rest of the world.
What of us? We, too, have been trying to find fresh Allies, supporting some faction or another, maybe in Greece or in Italy, that we think might be more favourable to us in a time of stress, and pursuing thus the time-worn ideas that have so long dominated our Foreign Office. Everyone of those great States claims that it is acting in the best interests of peace and of its own defence. What they succeed 1303 in doing is to build up a suspicion, one against the other, of these armies, and these fleets in the air or on the sea, and to impoverish their own people in doing so. I wish the leaders could translate into facts the fine ideas which they so rightly uphold which, in truth and in fact, express the sincere desire and prayer of the peasants everywhere. All that the poor peasant knows and realises in his bewilderment is that when the leaders quarrel it is he, the peasant everywhere, who is called upon for sacrifice. Let us begin afresh, let us start a new policy, and "let the dead past bury its dead." I realise that it is right that the Prime Minister should go to America, I realise that early negotiations, soundings and talks are best discussed primarily in private, but there does come a time when it is far better to discuss the great permanent policies in public, in open court, with the peoples of the world as the jury, that they may understand what is happening, what may be their hopes, and what, indeed, their fate.
We Liberals have expressed our view from the outset with regard to the atomic bomb, and the effect that it should have upon the nations of the world. I spoke on behalf of the Liberals in the Debate on the Address, and I am glad that now those views have the strong support of a man for whom all of us should have the highest respect, one of our greatest scientists, Professor Oliphant. His speech in Birmingham on Saturday was most opportune. What did he say? First, that the atomic bomb is the most devastating and horrible weapon that man has yet devised for the destruction of his fellow men, that it is only yet in its infancy, that its power can be immeasurably increased and made a hundredfold more powerful and devastating than the bombs which were dropped on Japan, each of which destroyed a great city. Secondly, he said that the secret cannot be kept. Undoubtedly, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, I knew nothing, and still know really nothing about any agreement, secret or otherwise, made between England and the President of the United States. It is obvious that, in the great march of science, nothing can long be kept secret. The main ideas are not only known to the great scientists of America, but to those of Britain and Europe, and 1304 possibly to those of Russia and also Japan. Might I, in passing, remind those who now hold this secret, that the final discovery was contributed to by the scientists of the world? Every nation has contributed its part to the final knowledge.
Thirdly, there is no defence or antidote against this dread weapon. I said in the House when I last spoke on this matter that this weapon had altered the whole situation. It has put an end to all the talk and theory of the balance of power. It has belittled and rendered almost nugatory, in spite of anything that the right hon. Gentleman has said today, or that the President of the United States has said, the defensive value of millions of conscript armies, vast navies and immense forces in the air. We know that wars may be started without declaration. They have been so started within our memory more than once; but if a declaration is made, we know that within a few minutes of its being made, there may be hurled across miles of territory or miles of sea this tremendous weapon, which may bring unimaginable devastation on the land and kill millions of people. A new situation has been created by this discovery.
What are we to do? Surely the answer is obvious. We cannot rely any longer upon treaties, understandings, or alliances, or any of the old methods of the past which were supposed to guarantee peace but never did so. The new problems cannot be settled by secret diplomacy. They cannot be solved by mere bilateral, trilateral or even quadrilateral agreements or understandings. They can be solved only by the united peoples of the world. I wish President Truman had made his twelth point first, as it is the most important. May I repeat to the House some of the words he used? He said:We are convinced that the preservation of peace between the nations requires a United Nations Organisation composed of all the peace loving nations of the world, who are willing jointly to use force, if necessary, to ensure peace.Great words, but I wish they had been even plainer. I wish he had said: "We desire that there should be one sovereign State in the world, to which all nations shall contribute, to which all nations shall owe allegiance. Let that sovereign State lay down the rule of law to govern all 1305 peoples and all nations. Let it, and it alone, have the power to enforce that rule of law against any wrongdoer, wherever he may be, or whoever he may be, without any exception." Until that has become the law of the world, there will, I fear, be talk of war, talk of aggression, talk of defence against aggression, talk of conscript armies, talk of navies, talk of air forces of each nation, talk of the balance of power and talk of alliances. Treaties will be made and treaties will be broken. They can only lead ultimately to one result, war. Be it remembered that war has not always spoken with the voice of justice. Cannot we realise that man has now devised a weapon with which he may destroy, not only millions of his fellowmen, but civilisation itself? Let there be, then, one world authority—no more vetoes for any Power or set of Powers raising themselves above the law, and no more classification of some Powers above the law and some below the law. Let us look well beyond Yalta and San Francisco. Let us remember that today, he who has been sneered at in the past as the idealist, is, in truth, the realist, seeing facts as they are, and foretelling the dangers of the future with precision and truth. Those are the dominant questions.
I will deal very shortly with the other points raised by President Truman. I am glad he has reiterated what was contained in the Atlantic Charter and the policy underlying the Atlantic Charter, the Mutual Aid Agreement and the Conference Agreement at Hot Springs, namely—and I think this is of vital importance to all the rest of the world—that the Society of Nations should have access to the trade and raw materials of the world, and that there should be full economic collaboration among all nations, so as to abolish want as well as fear. Naturally, we Liberals fully accept both pronouncements. We would like to emphasise again our adherence to, and our belief in, Article 7 of the Mutual Aid Agreement, which should have received the full concurrence and acceptance of His Majesty's Government. For some reason or other, during the period between the Mutual Aid Agreement and today, it has never been accepted fully. The reduction of trade barriers, and the elimination of discrimination, have always been part of our programme. People everywhere have been impover- 1306 ished by war, and the economic systems of all countries have been gravely, or even completely deranged. Everywhere people are waiting for guidance in order that they might adopt their own plans for world reconstruction. Political formulas, however, are not enough. Unless definite action is taken, the hungry and distressed in their hopelessness and despair, will turn for help, comfort and food to another programme, namely Communism.
No wonder that the world is waiting for a declaration of a lead from this Government. Britain alone, even with the assistance of all who belong to the British Commonwealth of Nations, cannot fully carry the burden of leadership. I do not believe that the United States alone can give effective guidance everywhere certainly not in Europe. The two great countries should come together and pool their ideas. To create greater economic unity and solidarity in the world we must have a great framework of currency, and commerce, and machinery, by which all nations can help each other and stand together, and so resist the onslaught of depression. The basis of the Mutual Aid Agreement has gone. What is to replace it? Events are moving rapidly, and the world, on the brink of disaster, is waiting. The predilection of the Conservative Party for Imperial Preference of the narrower kind has, in my view, been a serious obstacle to world agreement. Lord Beaverbrook put it in the forefront of the Conservative programme and the nation rejected it. But we have been waiting, so far in vain, for some pronouncement from His Majesty's Government. I hope that they will not hark back to the ideas of 40 years ago, and seek an exclusive British bloc. The British Dominions do not want it. Certainly Canada does not, neither the Liberal Government there nor the Opposition. I would like to quote from a speech by Mr. MacDonnell in the Canadian House of Commons. He said:A regionalised world, with the United States competing exclusively for a body of trade, which, by reason of trade barriers, will be smaller, will be most injurious to Britain.South Africa can only be embarrassed by being in a bloc working in opposition to the biggest buyer of her principal commodity. The only hope for the future solidarity and progress of this great British Commonwealth of Nations lies in 1307 a still larger area of co-operation, including the United States, working towards the same end, a more united and prosperous world, with all nations having free access to trade and raw materials everywhere. I hope that the Government are not instructing their delegates to make any reservations in the interests of over-rigid schemes. Planning should be designed to make our industrial structure more flexible than it was before the war and not more rigid. I hope more than ever that the Government will not have within their programme any idea of Protection. Our own home interests and our need to raise the standard of living, require international co-operation in a more rational world order. The Government must make a clear statement with regard to this matter.
Let the Government declare their policy is directed towards complete accord with the United States on the broad principles of the Mutual Aid Agreement, world economic unity, concerted plans to deal with depression, reduction of trade barriers and the elimination of all discriminatory practices. With the other noble sentiments contained in that declaration we are all agreed. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion throughout the world and that mankind everywhere should be helped to enjoy the fruits of the earth. As we desire to abolish want within the nation so we want to abolish want among the nations. We are dependent upon one another, and true happiness for the few is impossible in the midst of the agony of the many.
I hope and believe that the ideals to which I have now given utterance are those which also move the Prime Minister and which he desires to ensue. I want to assure him that he carries with him on this mission not only the good wishes but the prayers of a united but anxious nation—anxious for his success across the water. Once again I urge him to lead Britain in the old and honourable role which she has so often fulfilled in the past. Let her uphold the great ideals to which she has nailed her flag. Let her, behind him, give a moral lead to the world.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker (Smethwick)
I am glad to be able to make my first speech to this House on a matter so weighty as 1308 that now before us. I hope I shall not exceed what is fit and proper in a maiden speech. We are discussing today our relationships with a great Power with whom it is essential that we should remain friendly. The essence of friendship is frankness. I would like to say a few words about two problems concerning the security of the world, whose probable source of origin will be in America. Our attitude to them will determine the whole relations between our countries. These are the dangers of isolationism and of an economic slump in America. Of the many great dangers facing the world today I am not sure that a recrudescence of American isolationism is not one of the gravest. That point needs to be stressed, because the danger is obscured by the fears aroused in some quarters by every activity of America outside its own borders. This is a matter on which it is important to be logical. The people who cry out against the isolationists, and damn them as reactionaries, are the same people who decry American participation in the world and describe it as "Imperialist."
We cannot have it both ways. If we want, as I believe we should, and as would be in our national interest, to see a complete abandonment of American isolationism, we want more American participation in the world. In this matter I find myself in the perhaps peculiar position for me of being in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), but I have never held that one should change one's views because one's political opponents agree with them—even one's most distinguished political opponents. If so it would be very easy for those opponents to dictate one's policy. Of course, America may abuse its powers; in all power there is the possibility of abuse, but it seems to me that abuse of power is not the only danger inherent in power. Power which is not accepted by those who in fact possess it is as dangerous as power that is abused by those who possess it. What I mean is this. America is, in fact, a great Power, and even if it withdraws from the affairs of the world, all the other countries in the world are going to reckon on America's potential power. If America withdraws from the world, that means that the world will be in a constant state of dangerous and incalculable disequilibrium. It means that the world is, so to 1309 speak, running on three cylinders, and the fourth cylinder may, at any moment, suddenly turn out to be an atom bomb.
I, therefore, think that we should welcome the greatest amount of American participation in the world, and therefore we should also welcome Mr. Truman's speech, not so much for its idealism, to which we have grown accustomed from America, but for its large measure of realism. In Mr. Truman's speech were many examples of the determination of America to participate in the daily and current affairs of the world. I mention only one of them because it is perhaps the most striking, namely, the demand for strategic bases. I think it is a demand that we should welcome and, in general, support, because I feel that every step America takes towards participation in the world, is a good step so long as there is not sheer abuse of power. I would, however, add that I do not at all agree—and I say this with equal emphasis—with the manner in which America has put forward this demand, and I hope that our Prime Minister, when he meets Mr. Truman, will make it clear that neither we, nor any other of America's neighbours, can for one moment accept such a demand, unless it is clearly put forward by America as a member and full agent of the United Nations Organisation.
Although there are many encouraging signs of America's continued participation in the affairs of the world, there are some signs on the other side. There are some rather disquieting signs that America may be preparing to withdraw from Germany and Europe. Some aspects of American policy in Germany would be difficult to explain on any other hypothesis. If America did withdraw in this way from Germany, it would, I am sure, be a great blow to the interests of Europe and, I think, a blow against the long-term interests of America. I am quite sure it would be against the tenor and tendency of Mr. Truman's speech. This is a matter of immediate importance, and comes up in connection with the question of the location of the seat of the United Nations Organisation. I believe that it will be, in the long run, really in the interests of America and of the world that the seat of the United Nations Organisation should be in Europe, which is the key point, and the danger centre of the world. This matter will come up before the Preparatory 1310 Commission and again before the Assembly, and I hope that we shall do everything possible to press upon America the importance of reconsidering the decision, and of settling the United Nations Organisation in Europe. Having said that I am in favour of America's participation in world affairs, there is one form of participation about which I am not so sure. America has latterly adopted the habit of urging concrete policies upon other countries and, if I may say so, particularly upon us, regarding Palestine, Germany and other places. Of course it is quite right that our affairs should be public, and that America or any other country should express their views on them, but when America urges policies upon us in this way, I think we have the right to ask America to will the means as well as the end. We have the right to ask America how many men, and how much money would she be prepared to spend, if necessary, in carrying out the policies that she is urging upon us.
Now I come to the second danger, which seems to me every whit as great as and perhaps even greater than the other—the danger of an American slump. This is really a political matter, it looms across the future of the world and clouds and colours the relations of every country, including ourselves, with America. It is a matter on which I think there is need for clear thought because it is possible—it is sometimes done—so to exaggerate the dangers of an American slump that it would be quite impossible to achieve any sort of political agreement with America at all. It seems to me to be possible to state the situation quite simply, in two propositions. The first is that it is a prime necessity and interest of this country to maintain friendship with America. The second is that the basis of any understanding with America must be economic. That is the way the Americans think; they think from economic terms to political terms. America and Russia in this, as in so much else, are in opposite positions. With America you can only get a political agreement if you first make an economic one. With Russia it is the other way round. We shall not get proper economic agreements with Russia until we have solved our political problems.
Of course, I think we should not tie our economy to the American economy, 1311 nor the pound sterling to the dollar, we should remain masters of our own economy, but we have got to stop this policy somewhere short of complete economic autarchy. This means that we have to run some risks of the consequences of an American slump. I do not believe that there is any complete safeguard against the consequences of a phenomenon so colossal as an American slump, but there are some safeguards to which we should pay great attention in our political agreements. In any agreement that involves the payment of dollars to America, it is essential that we should have an escape clause, which forgives or postpones the payment of dollars when dollars are scarce—which means when there is a slump in America and America is exporting goods and not importing them. There is such a clause in the Bretton Woods Agreement, the Scarce Currency clause, which should be taken as a model in these matters. I would be in favour of ratifying the Bretton Woods Agreement if only because of that clause.
I have taken the best advice I can from economists who know more about these matters than I do, and it seems to me that we must reckon on the very serious possibility of a slump in America. I do not however believe that this time the consequences of such a slump will be anything like as bad as they were last time. I think the Americans may well get into their slump without any proper preparation, but when they do get into it Congress will resort to desperate and grandiose remedies, which will to a considerable extent limit its intensity and scope. The risks of an American slump can therefore be exaggerated. I feel that we have to take some risk in this matter; in the position in which this country is, both as regards America and Russia, we have to take certain risks. We have to demonstrate confidence, and I hope that as regards America, whilst taking all due precautions against the dangers of a slump spreading to us and the rest of the world, we shall not so exaggerate those dangers that we in fact make any political agreement impossible.
My final point is this. There is a danger of our country becoming a sort of vast Vienna, a centre of social progress and civilisation in the midst of a world that is deteriorating and becoming an ex- 1312 plosive world which may blow us up as well as itself. This imposes extra responsibilities upon our Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford mentioned how the people today are far less exuberant in their hopes of the peace than they were after the last war. On the whole that is a good thing. These difficult and serious problems have to be approached with sobriety. Our people are at least as eager to have a peaceful world to live in as to have good homes and good jobs. In a by-election in which I was recently engaged in my constituency, I was much impressed by the fact that the people at the meetings were as interested in international affairs as in problems of old age pensions or even of demobilisation, which at that time some organs of the Press were trying to whip up in order to discredit the Government. We have a chance here to achieve a really great policy that will be worthy of our people, if we are determined to put as much energy into the arduous and responsible pursuit of peace as we do into the building of our new Britain.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
I rise with trepidation and ask for the traditional indulgence of the House. In the course of the last 18 months I have had the honour of commanding an infantry battalion in sixteen operations, and anyone who has had that experience will be familiar with the agonies of apprehension before and after zero hour, but, Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that, for sheer misery, there is nothing to touch the suspense of waiting to catch your eye for the first time.
I wish to speak upon the first subject on the agenda of the Prime Minister's talks with President Truman—atomic energy—and in doing so, I wish to place before the House the point of view of the scientists who have been most closely connected with the discovery, and who have had longer to consider these problems than either politicians or the public. It is no exaggeration to say that many, if not most, of the physicists who discovered and developed nuclear energy, both American and British, are profoundly worried about the way in which this matter is apparently being handled. I do not doubt that much of this uneasiness would pass, if both Governments could 1313 see their way to be less reticent upon the subject of atomic energy, and my purpose in intervening in this Debate is to urge upon His Majesty's Government the advisability of giving much greater information to the people.
When, over a year ago, it became evident that it was going to be practicable to drop the atomic bomb in the course of this war, the American physicists sought from the late President Roosevelt an assurance that they would be consulted as to the way in which these bombs were to be used. It was considered that there were several ways in which this might be done. One school of thought wished to explode the bomb at a height of 10,000 feet, producing in the sky a phenonomon very much brighter and hotter than the sun and with a strong blast effect upon all those in the neighbourhood. This demonstration would have been followed by suitable publicity inviting surrender before other such bombs were detonated at a lower level. Others wished to blow the top off Mount Fuji-yama, or to obliterate an island naval base in Tokyo harbour and in sight of the capital city. Whatever differences of opinion there were between the advocates of these different courses of action, all were convinced that the bomb should first be dropped as a demonstration and a threat.
Hon. Members know what happened. The first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and killed 125,000 people, and an awful precedent was established. From my opening remarks, the House will have gathered that I am no pacifist. Indeed, I would without hesitation have used this new weapon quite ruthlessly and I would have killed every man, woman and child in Japan, if that lay in my power, if by so doing I would have saved the lives of any Allied fighting men who would otherwise have been killed in battle. It would seem that the opportunity of trying to end the Japanese war by the mere threat of the atomic bomb was not taken, and it is difficult for those with no inside information to escape the conclusion that the first two bombs were dropped without sufficient thought. It may well not be so, but that is what is being widely said at present, and the Government would be well advised to make public their no doubt excellent reasons for what was done. Democratic Governments need not only to do right but also to appear to be doing right in 1314 the eyes of the people. That first bomb killed 125,000 people, and we have the assurance of these eminent scientists that the atomic bombs of the future will be anything up to 1,000 times more devastating in their effect. Therefore, this matter is so much the more urgent today.
The whole House will welcome the forthcoming talks between the Prime Minister and the President. We know that both these men are animated by the highest possible motives. I hope that these conversations will consider, among other things, the wisdom of treating the subject of atomic energy quite openly and giving the people in both countries the fullest possible information. In the United States, due largely to this lack of information, opinion is very much divided between those who want to give away the details of the bomb and those who regard it as a secret American invention which they must keep as no one else is to be trusted with it. To clear the air, the American physicists have been at pains to circulate a memorandum in which they specifically state "those who advocate the secret of the bomb being kept, mislead our people." As my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) stated, the only secret that remains today is what he called the "practical production details," and even these will be discovered very quickly by those who wish to do so. In the same memorandum, the American physicists went on to state:even those nations with lesser resources than those of the United States will be able to produce atomic bombs within two to five years.Therefore, it is quite obvious that Russia, with her vast resources and above all her powerful State dictatorship, will very quickly catch up with the United States, and she has made it quite plain that she is going ahead just as fast as she can, with every intention of having the atomic bomb. So the position today is that the world has embarked upon another arms race and one which will have consequences a thousand times worse than the last one if it is not arrested. We in these small, densely populated islands are bound to be obliterated if this atomic bomb race reaches its logical conclusion. And it is because our survival is so utterly dependent upon the course of action taken by the United States that we 1315 in this House are entitled to express our views to the President and his Government. And if we seek to give advice, it does not mean either that we have lost our affection for the leaders and people of America or that we are not deeply grateful for all they have done for us.
What is it which has caused the start of the atomic arms race between the United States and Russia, which has got to be stopped if the world is to survive? I think that, difficult as it is to deal with, the cause is easy to define; it is mutual distrust and suspicion. And in this respect the attitude of the United States, in withholding the few remaining engineering and technical details of the bomb, is dangerous. It is certain that friendly co-operation between the United States, the British Empire and Russia is the only hope for the future of the world and, as the House well knows, no such co-operation exists today. I have listened to the weighty words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford. I am neither Russophile nor Russophobe, but an ordinary Englishman who is trying to take a realistic view of the situation as it is today. And it seems to me both obvious and understandable that Russia will not co-operate with the Western world as long as she is being treated at a lower level, as an inferior military Power, because of the conviction that she is not to be trusted. It is essential that Russia should be made to understand that we have no desire whatever to treat her on anything but an equal footing, and that the remaining details about the bomb, which have given America a two years' lead in time, will be at the disposal of Russia if she will agree to co-operate and above all to take part in a system of international controls and inspection which eminent British physicists say can be made effective.
I am of the opinion that His Majesty's Government have already lost an opportunity in not having made a general statement of policy some weeks ago to the effect that we desire to see no exclusive possession of the atomic bomb, but an all-embracing world security. The use to which the two bombs have already been put, in the absence of any saving explanation, the encouragement which today is being given to the suspicions of 1316 Russia, the time that has already been lost—it is 18 months since it was known that it would be possible to use the atomic bomb and almost five months since the first one was detonated—and the reticence of His Majesty's Government, give some grounds—I will not put it higher than that—for suspecting Ministerial ineptitude. This is no party matter, for science, like sex, knows no political alignments, and I assert that there is just as much uneasiness on the Government Benches as there is among my hon. Friends, and this uneasiness will persist until the Government take the House into their confidence.
In particular, we desire to know what are the intentions of the Government as regards the development of nuclear power for industrial purposes in this country. I was very glad to hear what my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said, and to have read the declaration of the President, to the effect that there is nothing to stop the development of nuclear power in this country, but we still await the assurance of His Majesty's Government that they have every intention of taking advantage of the new knowledge to provide our people with all the advantages of atomic energy. I cannot help wondering whether the decision to develop nuclear power in this country awaits the outcome of the talks between the President and the Prime Minister. I hope that when the Government think fit to put their programme for the development of nuclear power before us we shall find that their proposals are broad and ambitious, because for Great Britain to be left behind in such a matter would be the equivalent to our continuing to live in the Stone Age while other nations move forward to Bronze and Iron. I hope nothing will be decided between the President and the Prime Minister which will in any way restrict the scope of His Majesty's Government in the development of nuclear power for industrial purposes in this country.
The Prime Minister will take with him to America the best wishes of all our people. I hope he will tell the President with that frankness and firmness which Americans respect that we have every intention of going ahead in the full-scale production in this country of nuclear power so as to give our people all the benefits that this discovery may have 1317 made available. I devoutly hope that these discussions will initiate a policy which will roll back the rising tide of fears and mistrust, and stop the atomic arms race. Otherwise nothing will restore the ruins of our cities or revive the millions of our dead.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ Major Bruce (Portsmouth, North)
I ask the indulgence of the House on making my maiden speech, and I would also like to ask its further indulgence should I, in the course of my remarks, expressing beliefs which are sincerely held, transgress a little the rule which I believe rather discourages controversy in a maiden speech.
Since the dropping of the atomic bomb, we have all been living, in a greater or less degree, under its shadow. The very circumstances of the dropping of the first atomic bomb were attended by consequences so disastrous that I cannot help feeling that those who were responsible for the decision as to the manner in which it should be dropped may yet have to review the rectitude of their decision. I think I speak in common with many other Members here when I say that the peace for which we have all worked or fought so hard has not brought the promised relief for which we had so devoutly hoped. Hon. Members here participated in a series of ceremonials and celebrations in the vicinity of this House. Many of us went down to our constituencies to VJ parties, and various other functions of that kind, but one could not help detecting a far greater restraint in celebrating the end of the war, than would possibly have been anticipated six months before its actual end. The war ended, and a new peace arrived well under the shadow of the manner of its ending.
Shortly after the House met we discussed and ratified the United Nations Charter, and it was to the United Nations Charter that the hopes and aspirations of the bulk of the people of our country, I felt at that time, were directed. The United Nations Charter and its ratification by this House did give to humanity some new hope that an organised effort might be made in the future in order that wars might be prevented. I make no apology for once again reading to this House the Preamble of the Charter of the 1318 United Nations. This Preamble is one which is destined to re-echo through this Chamber many times before many years are out. It says, in the most stirring terms:We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined—to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which, twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, andto reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, andto establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from Treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, andto promote social progress and better standards of life and in larger freedom, and for these endshave resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.I venture to suggest that there are millions of people all over the world that did pin more than a considerable faith in the directness and in the power and in the nobility contained in the Preamble to the United Nations Charter, which we, in this Chamber, on 23rd August, did in fact, ratify. The Charter laid down the purposes and principles upon which the United Nations organisation was to be founded. It laid down conditions of membership, it gave details of various organisations of the United Nations, the Security Council, the Economic Council, etc.; it made provisions for the collective measures and action to be taken in respect of breaches of the peace and acts of aggression; and it made provision for the establishment of a Military Staff Committee to aid the Security Council. The details of the United Nations organisation or Charter can be examined practically anywhere, but the cardinal fact to note about the sum total is, that for the first time organised force was to be placed at the disposal of the United Nations.
The League of Nations which came to such an untimely end, mainly because lip service was paid to its principles as distinct from actions in support of it, suffered from the very great defect that there was no organised force placed at its disposal. But here, for the first time, there is some provision for organised force to be placed at the disposal of the United Nations as a whole. So much so that I feel that, when that Charter was ratified, 1319 some of the fears which had accumulated since the atomic bomb was dropped were, to some small extent, dispelled. In the meantime, there have been statements, which hon. Members have referred to here this afternoon, made by numerous scientists regardless of country, explaining the potentialities of atomic energy and insisting that it must be internationally controlled. One of the most remarkable things about them was that these scientists were unanimous and the dangers of any one nation holding the secrets of atomic power were set forth in most trenchant terms not only by Professor Oliphant, to whom reference has been made this afternoon, but also by Sir Lawrence Bragg, who said:I believe that any nation which contrives to keep atomic secrecy to itself is playing a dangerous game. The world's future lies in sharing knowledge, not in withholding it.It was in this atmosphere, and with the statements of the scientists fresh before us, that President Truman's speech was made on 27th October last. Far be it from me to say anything which can be construed as hostile or critical of anything that the President of the United States may tell us or that his country may do. I have worked too long with them myself on the staff of the Supreme Allied Commander both in the planning, and in the execution, of the operation upon which we were recently engaged to want to do anything of that kind, but I must record my own view that the terms of the announcement by President Truman, particularly in relation to atomic energy, are in direct conflict with the provisions of the United Nations Charter. I would like to detail these a little because it is important that we should see just where this conflict lies. Article 47 of the United Nations Charter provides that:There shall be established a Military Staff Committee to advise and assist the Security Council on all questions relating to the Security Council's military requirements for the maintenance of international peace and security, the employment and command of forces placed at its disposal, the regulation of armaments and possible disarmament.And later:The Military Staff Committee shall be responsible under the Security Council for the strategic direction of any Armed Forces placed at the disposal of the Security Council.I invite the House to consider a military Committee meeting under the auspices of the United Nations in order to discuss 1320 either the limitation of armaments or to discuss possible action against any breach of the peace. The Military Staffs would gather round the table and would presumably go into all matters of war potential and strategy it was necessary to investigate in those circumstances. If President Truman's wishes are carried out in this matter there will be the American representatives in full possession of all the secrets as to the war potential of the atomic bomb, its whereabouts, its availability in terms of administration, and a whole lot of other military factors in relation to it; and the other participants on the Military Staff will be in entire ignorance as to the real war potential at the disposal of the United States in any discussion that actually takes place. It would be like a conference of military experts, one of whom had at his disposal a fleet of tanks and the balance had merely pea-shooters. How could atomic energy be placed at its disposal, with the entire secret remaining in the hands of any one particular nation?
The implication from President Truman's speech is not confined to that. Not only in my view does it transgress the whole spirit, if not the letter, of the United Nations Charter, but it also indicates that the United States does not trust other nations. There are many distrusts at the present time and these distrusts will have to be resolved. In regard to America it may be said straightaway that no nation can regard with equanimity any other nation, whose large private armament interests are not altogether bridled, having full and complete possession of atomic power secrets. My hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon-Walker) has given some details as to American proposals for economic expansion, and it is common knowledge amongst those of us who have been with, and have had the privilege and fortune to work with, the Americans to know that the economic drive upon which they are now engaged has been going on for some very considerable time. We know, those of us who were over in France, that American troops were accompanied by a large number of commercial individuals clothed in what was called assimilated rank; these travelled with the advancing American Army and in many cases commercial interests were sufficiently strong, despite the scarcity of transport before 1321 the invasion, to ensure that many commercial agents came over to this country on priority tickets quite near to the day of the invasion itself.
We on these benches are not hostile to commercial development, or expansion, but the danger has to be pointed out that commercial expansion carried out with all the full and secret resources of the atomic bomb at its disposal is likely, or shall I say is possible, to produce a tension; so that with the best will in the world, and regarding the United States as our best possible Ally, we can never be completely and finally sure that atomic energy and the atomic bomb will be used entirely for the purposes which have been set out in the President's Twelve Points.
One of the other causes of distrust amongst the United Nations at the present time arises from conceptions of democracy which, I think, probably inspired a good deal of the background of the President's speech. American views of democracy differ very considerably from those of Russia and to a less marked degree from our own. I do think, therefore, we can say a few words on democracy because upon our conception of democracy a considerable amount depends. It may be said that America has much political democracy, a little economic democracy and she has much democracy in her everyday social existence, and that she has developed means of public expression which are harnessed to very big business enterprises. So far as Britain is concerned, we may say that we have much political democracy; we have a growing economic democracy, as the measures which are now being pursued by the President of the Board of Trade in connection with his working parties serve to illustrate; and we have a growing democracy in social life; and our means of public expression are in substantially the same kind of hands, at the present time, as in the United States. In Russia, on the other hand, we have a state that has almost complete economic democracy; almost complete democracy in social life; which has a growing, and only a growing, political democracy; and which has up to now a censorship over the means of news getting into and out of her territories.
The only point I am trying to make is that, if we are considering democracy, we must consider it as a whole, and we 1322 must say that it is not always applicable within a fancy political context I make that point because implicit in President Truman's statement there was, obviously, some indirect reference to the present state of affairs in Poland, Rumania and Bulgaria. Many of us on this side of the House wonder why so many of those hon. Members on the Opposition Benches who are now extolling the virtues of democracy in these unhappy countries, did not see fit to denounce the Fascist or semi-Fascist régimes existing in those countries before the war. I think that we cannot impose a Western democracy on countries whose economic state and condition will not support it, but that does not mean to say that we should accept any idea of democracy other than our own. We have to consider the attitudes of all other States towards the whole application of democracy, and we should not thereby be drawn into a conflict with Russia over what is, after all, a very broad question.
Russia distrusts the big democracies, and, if I may say so, she has had every reason in the past to do so. No country has been more shockingly vilified than Russia in the years preceding the war, and I am afraid it is quite true that Russia still suffers from a hangover of her pre-war treatment. She will suspect America as a capitalist country, and, after all, capitalism has in the past produced wars: she will suspect Britain as a matter of tradition, because Britain has attacked her and stooped to every conceivable trick to attack her in the years before the war. She will continue to resent talking too much democracy to the Balkans so long as we retain our present relationship with Spain and tolerate the state of affairs which exists in Greece.
But the fact that we, in this country, are now a social democracy entitles us to talk to Russia in terms, not only comradely, but also, occasionally, critical. I feel that Russia must understand, or must begin to appreciate, that in this country social democracy is a valid form of socialism. I have a quotation here which may illustrate that point of view from a standard more acceptable to herself. In the preface to the English edition of ''Das Kapital," written nearly 60 years ago by Friedrich Engels, it is declared:Surely, at such a moment, the voice ought to be heard of a man whose whole theory is the result of a life-long study of the economic history and condition of England, 1323 and whom that study led to the conclusion that, at least in Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal means.It is very necessary for us to point out to Russia that that revolution has, in fact, already taken place. Russia may remember also that, amongst the American people, there is a love for democracy which has no limitations, and the nation that is capable of such gigantic work as the T.V.A. scheme is not far removed from the ideals and purposes inspiring Russia's own efforts.
We are, in the words of Matthew Arnold:between two worlds—one dead, one powerless to be born.We have to decide in this country what part we can play in order to bring a new world into being. The first thing which, I think, we can do is to break from the past traditional foreign policy of our country, and to make that break quite sharp, obvious and clean, and, to that end, to take the appropriate and necessary action in relation to the two countries I have mentioned. The old diplomacy is completely dead. With the coming of the atomic bomb, we could, if we wished, tear up completely Clausewitz's classic "On War." It no longer has any validity. The second thing that we can do is to preserve the virility inherent in our democracy by taking a lead and urging full support for the United Nations Organisation, by surrendering some of our own sovereignty to it, by taking the lead in urging the United States to impart all the data in relation to the atomic bomb to the United Nations organisation and to surrender the whole control of it to the machinery set up.
Further, we should proclaim to the world the basis of our social democracy as Socialism, because in this country now, we are Socialists, and, though we may derive some of our philosophy from philosophers from other countries—such as Marx and Engels, and other great thinkers from America like Roosevelt, Mumford and Lincoln—we have our own philosophy, which has a validity for our own country—and the basis which I think, is expressed more adequately by a British Socialist—William Morris—who spoke of the two main essentials of life as being fearless rest and peaceful work. He said: 1324Troublous as life is, it is surely given to each one of us here those times and seasons when, surrounded by simple and beautiful things, we have felt really at rest. When the earth and all its plenteous growth, and the varied token of the life of men, and the very waste of sky and air above us have all seemed to conspire together to make us calm and happy, not slothful, but restful. Still oftener belikes we have had those other times when, at long last, after many a struggle with incongruous hindrances, our whole life's work has lain before us stripped of all complexities and unrealities; and we have felt that nothing, not even ourselves, could hold us back from the work that we were born to do; and that we were men and worthy of life. Such rest and such work I wish for myself, for you and for all mankind. To have the space and time to gain such rest and such work is the end of politics; to learn how best to gain it is the end of education; to divine its innermost meaning is the end of religion.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Ross (Londonderry)
It is very seldom that one is privileged to congratulate three new hon. Members of this House, but, on this occasion, I have that pleasant task before me. In congratulating, first, the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon-Walker), may I say that I listened to his speech with the very greatest interest? It was very well-informed, lucid and well expressed, and I hope he will not be offended if I say that I agree with much of what he said, because, on all other subjects, I think it is most unfortunate if one receives applause from the other side. If we can have a foreign policy which is above party, and thus national, the nation is thereby strengthened. In fact, I regret to say that I agree with the hon. Member for Smethwick rather more than with the hon. and gallant Member for Solihull (Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay) whose speech, after long and painful experience of this war, was sincere, interesting and informative. I think it may well be that the hon. and gallant Member will distinguish himself in this field as much as he distinguished himself in the course of the war, and that is paying him a very high compliment.
Then there is the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Major Bruce), which was both sincere and full of ideas which I think I shall find very refreshing, though I must say that the prospect of an American traveller carrying samples in the one hand, and an atomic bomb in the other, fills one with a certain anxiety. I was particularly glad to hear his allusion to that very 1325 famous English Socialist, William Morris, because some of my favourite reading comprised certain of his works, which contained all that fairy tale quality that is such a feature of his more serious political work.
I would like to address myself to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Clement Davies) who I am sorry is no longer in the House. The hon. and learned Member has all those qualities of Welsh oratory and rhetoric that we saw so admirably employed today. I have never heard a more passionate and successful denunciation of the methods employed in foreign affairs by Liberal Governments, when there still were Liberal Governments, than he put forward today. He denounced in the most slashing terms the way in which Liberal Governments used to try and arrange the affairs of the nation, and, at the same time, denounced the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I have always felt sure that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery was a man just approaching the prime of life and in full possession of every faculty, but, as the speech which he denounced as having been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), did not seem to me to bear any relation to it whatever, I can only assume that his hearing is not as keen as it used to be.
As I understood my right hon. Friend's speech, particularly on the point of the atomic bomb, it was that the United States was at present the trustee of that weapon. It is no good our saying how horrible it is and how appalled we would be if it were used. We all know that. That is the universal nightmare. The real question is a practical one, and my right hon. Friend is looking to the United States as trustees of the atomic bomb. The word "international "occasionally has a hypnotic effect on people who desire to have things on an international basis. Let us try to be practical. The United Nations Organisation is not yet a going concern. In due course, I have little doubt that the atomic bomb can be the main instrument by which the United Nations Organisation may make its authority felt, or, at any rate, its authority respected, if not felt.
There is only one really important point in connection with the atomic bomb, and 1326 that is that it should not be used. I think we are all agreed upon that. We are so interested and so concerned with this weapon that I think we are inclined to over-elaborate the whole question. Now what point is there in distributing knowledge of the atomic bomb all over the world? I cannot see a case that it should be given only to Russia. Russia is our faithful Ally, and I think that if there is a serious divergence in policies between Russia and other nations, a greater disaster cannot be imagined. But is that the only country to be given the secret of the atomic bomb? I cannot see on what logical ground that argument could be put forward, because, if it comes to the question of gaining the confidence of other countries, the record of Russia is not particularly encouraging. I think that very many of the difficulties and suspicions in Europe today are due to lack of knowledge, to lack of information of the territories which are at present administered by Russia. If the Press of Europe and of America could be given free access to these countries, many old suspicions which grew up, as they always grow, in the dark, would disappear. One cannot say with any great confidence that Russia has, so far, shown a very encouraging example of a desire to share her secrets with those of her Allies, and, in fact, the impression one gets is rather the reverse.
The danger of the atomic bomb, apart from a general horror description of what happens when it goes off, is that it is the ideal weapon for the aggressor nation. The aggressor nation—Germany in both wars—has striven for a quick knock-out; the careful preparation, the calculated blow, and then a quick peace—a quick, short war in which you can decimate your opponent so soon that you get the fruits of victory without any great exhaustion to yourself. For that, obviously this contrivance—and I rather deprecate people saying they know all about it and that nothing else is any good at all, because the knowledge even of the experts is still limited, and it is much too new a thing for anyone to be didactic as to its potentialities—is the ideal weapon of the gangster nation on the make. Now, whatever anybody may say about the United States, the United States is the least gangsterish nation on the make in the world today—[An Hon. Member: "It is the home of gangsters."] I am talking 1327 nationally. Therefore, I submit that it is obviously the most fit country to be the trustee of this weapon until such time as we have the ordered Parliament of the world in the United Nations, which we have not got at present. Can it be argued that it would make for the peace of the streets if there were a distribution of pistols or firearms? Because that, in the realm of the individual, is what the distribution of the atomic bomb would be in the realm of nations.
However, I do not want to take any more time on the subject of the atomic bomb. That is rather a subject which seems to have had more attention paid to it in this Debate than is useful, and there are many other matters, particularly in connection with our relations with America, which could usefully be discussed. I would like to mention especially the seventh of the points made by President Truman. There is no doubt that we can all, and should all, welcome those Twelve Points. Also, I think no one appreciates plain speaking more than the Americans. What is meant by the freedom of the seas? It is a vague term and there is much in the Twelve Points that could be construed in entirely different senses by two lawyers. It is always difficult to get a precise pronouncement in declarations of this kind. The only really sound parallel which I can suggest is that of the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland who, in discussing the question of ceding territory to the Irish Free State, said, "Not an inch"—and everybody knew exactly what that meant. However, it is much more difficult in Articles of this kind. The curious feature about the declaration of the freedom of the seas is how American policy has interpreted it. At the beginning of the war, there is no doubt that the freedom of the seas was completely abandoned by the United States, as soon as the German submarine war was declared against this country, because, alone among the shipping of neutral countries, American shipping was forbidden to approach the shores of Great Britain. In fact, it amounted practically to a blockade. I do not think that was consistent with what I should have imagined was in the mind of President Truman. In the days of "cash and carry," Britain was a forbidden area for American shipping. I think it would 1328 be most unfortunate if the United States ever became tired of being a first-class naval Power. We have had to be the sea policemen for generations. Whether it be a shipwreck or an earthquake, we have generally been obliged to send British ships to the scene, I hope that in future the United States will bear its share.
I would like to refer to another of the Twelve Points made by President Truman, that which relates to access to trade and raw materials. That access may be quite as easily prevented by currency differences as by legislative enactment. We had spent every cent of our foreign exchange before Lend-Lease was introduced for carrying on the fight, which is now recognised to have been a fight for the United States as much as for ourselves. Therefore, we are now shut off from the dollar countries, and it is impossible to buy American goods when we wish to do so. I trust that will be borne in mind in any discussions that will take place in the United States, because the lack of dollars produced by the war must result in a lack of trade. I have often thought that the most useful thing in international affairs, if it could be achieved, would be a common currency, because nothing is more unfortunate than to get into a dollar area and a sterling area. Nothing is worse for trade. I think all the attention of this country and the United States could be very usefully directed to that end, as I think it is to some extent being directed. The only other thing I would say about the United States is that we must always remember we are different countries, but if we are different countries, in our general ideas there are no two countries more alike.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas (Llandaff and Barry)
May I beg the indulgence of the House for yet another maiden speech? Nobody who has spoken in the House for the first time or who has been, as I have now been for some little time, on the verge of speaking, can doubt the sincerity of that request. The foreign policy of this country has undergone a great change during this century. It has now been brought into the homes of the people, it affects our daily lives, and it even affects our actuarial prospect of life. There must, therefore, be a correspond- 1329 ing change in the method of handling foreign policy. There is far too much, and there has been far too much, polite diplomatic language and ersatzexplanations which conceal the true position. Therefore, I welcome the stand made by the Foreign Secretary at the London Conference, and some of the bald statements in the speech of President Truman, because they serve to blow away some of this camouflage. As a new boy, fresh from the country, I urge upon the Government the tremendous importance nowadays of telling the country as much as possible about foreign affairs. Let people know where we stand; let them know what is happening. After all, if things go wrong, it is the people who suffer under modern conditions, and they are entitled to know. Tell them what has happened at these conferences. Tell them—what, in fact, we are all puzzled about—what happened at Quebec. Let us know at the earliest possible moment what will have happened at Washington. Tell the people, as the Leader of the Liberal party requested the Government to do, everything possible. Let this Socialist Government, which depends upon the confidence of the people, themselves confide in the people.
The crucial problem in foreign affairs nowadays, as I understand it, is the relationship of the three great Powers: America, Russia and ourselves; particularly America and ourselves, on the one hand, and Russia on the other hand. Even during the recent Debate on conditions in Europe the supreme importance of the relationship of the Western Allies to Russia came out quite clearly. Reference was there made to zoning—the zoning of Austria, Germany, Berlin—and that zoning policy quite clearly stood condemned in the opinion of this House, because it was a policy which divided up the Continent, a separatist policy where cohesion was what was required. The dreadful part of it is that this zoning policy does not stop there, it is merely a part of a bigger zoning policy—spheres of influence. The policy of spheres of influence, as I understand it, was brought into this post war world by decisions taken at the Teheran Conference. I am not blaming anybody for any decisions taken there; they were taken under the stress of war, and those at the Conference were rightfully concentrating upon winning the war at the earliest pos- 1330 sible moment. However, the result has been that this policy of spheres of influence, designed for military purposes, for war and strategy, has, in fact, been projected into peacetime conditions and into peacetime policy. This has meant that there has been brought into our new post-war world, power politics. We are already there. We must recognise the stark fact that nowadays, however much we may talk about a United Nations Organisation and the like, we are dealing with a power politics world. The relationship of the three countries, Russia, America and ourselves, dominates every question of foreign policy. Solve that relationship and then, almost automatically, solutions will be far more easily found for all the other problems of foreign policy.
Take the distress in Europe. The difficulty there has appeared again during recent Debates, and will be fresh in the memory of the House, and is a useful illustration of my theme. It is quite clear that the expulsion of German populations is due not so much to hatred and revenge for the past, as to fear and suspicion for the future. As for the urgency to have these populations expelled before this winter, nobody imagines that before this winter is through we shall be faced with a resurrected Germany as a military power in the world. The proposition has only to be stated for that to be perfectly clear. The fear and suspicion is not of Germany, at all; it is of the Western Allies. Let us be frank, and recognise that. Or look at the map. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Palestine, Persia, India, Japan, the Pacific Bases, the Western bloc and the sterling bloc—there is hardly one problem connected with those countries and questions that is not dominated by this relationship of the three great Powers.
We have heard a good deal about democracy, and the use of that word. It has been said that the difficulty has been due to the difficulty of interpretation. But the difficulty about this word, "democracy," has not been due to the difficulty in interpreting the meaning into Russian and English. If that were the only difficulty it would be quickly rectified. The difficulty has been due to the fact that there has been no common meaning to interpret, the Russians intending one thing, while we intend a different 1331 thing. The difficulty has been to arrive at any common meaning, common intention, common agreement. That is the difficulty, not the mere difficulty of interpretation.
Take our own interpretation of "democracy." How do we interpret and apply it? Do we always apply it with the same meaning? We must frankly admit that there is some ground for the suggestion that, even for us, it has one meaning in Greece, another in Austria, and another in Bulgaria. It becomes more dogmatic the nearer you approach Russia, the nearer you get into the Russian sphere of influence. Why are we not bothering about democracy, if democracy is what we are concerned about, in friendly Turkey and Portugal? Can we honestly say that it is merely democracy that we are concerned about? Why, then, this concern about democracy in the Eastern European countries? As the Foreign Secretary said in his great speech in August—his massive speech—what Europe is concerned about now is its existence. She is concerned with food and shelter and clothing, not with politics and mental aspirations. There is an ancient saying that "life comes before the good life.'' You must have life, before there is any possibility of its being good. You cannot establish liberty and justice except upon a foundation of order. Why then do we talk about democracy to starving chaotic people? I believe, I am sure we all know, that we have a sincere belief in democracy, a belief in that which has stood the test of time. But can we truthfully say that there is no foundation for the suggestion that we are concerned with democratic forms of government in Eastern Europe because a democratic government would have affinity with us, would be more inclined towards us than towards some country with a different form of government? To put the obverse of that: Would not the Russian form of government in the Eastern countries of Europe incline more readily towards Russia, and away from us? I am not blaming ourselves or Russia in this matter at all. So long as power politics dominate, so long as that policy calls the tune, then we must dance its grim dance. But let us realise that it is power politics. If we do not recognise the affliction we can never find the remedy.
1332 What remedy and what hope are there in President Truman's speech? I would like to comment on one or two of its points, but I will come directly to what seems to be the root of the matter—the twelfth point, to which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) referred. The President spoke of a United Nations Organisation. What organisation is this to which he refers? He stressed, throughout his speech, the importance of sovereignty, and of preserving sovereignty, and he referred—a lawyer will appreciate this point—not to the use of joint force, but to the joint use of force. In other words, his speech does not contemplate a military command under the operation of some world organisation; the President takes the position no further than the San Francisco organisation, and what hope is there in San Francisco? San Francisco is just a repetition of Geneva, a bigger edition, of stronger paper perhaps, but essentially paper. There is no fusion of sovereignty here, no diminution of the sovereignty of any sovereign State. The organisation has no attribute of sovereignty or any quality of a State. It is merely bringing the balance of power from the Chancelleries to the conference table, and that offers no firm foundation for building the kind of world which can save us.
Have we nothing to say about this? This country is not unqualified to speak in these matters. We have given self-government to the world; we are giving it economic self-government, too. We have given it representative government, free government, federalism, and by this means we have converted an Empire into a Commonwealth. Have we nothing to say on this subject? Has our genius stopped short at this stage, when the world is crying for deliverance? I believe the answer tame from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) when France was in her agony—a common State and a common citizenship. I appreciate the tremendous difficulties—ideological, religious, social, economic and political—but we live in an atomic age and the courage, imagination and creative capacity of our scientists must be matched by the same qualities in our statesmen. Scientists have given us atomic energy: statesmen must give us a world capable of holding it.
1333 What do we suggest? I suggest that the Government should keep closely in touch with opinion right through this country. For 25 years opinion in this country has been ahead of the Government. Let us now, with a Socialist Government, ensure that we have not a Government behind the people, but a Government giving a strong lead to the people. I hope the Prime Minister will consider making a declaration, if need be a unilateral declaration. President Truman has made his, and M. Molotov has made his, so why should not we make a unilateral declaration, stating to the world exactly how far we are prepared to go, and what practical steps we are prepared to take towards establishing a world commonwealth? The Prime Minister has the complete confidence of our people just as his great predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford had their confidence during his tenure of office. My right hon. Friend will go to Washington with the complete confidence of us all, irrespective of party and, irrespective of party I am sure that all wish him God-speed in his great mission.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I think we have all been encouraged by the maiden speeches to which we have had great pleasure in listening. These have been thoughtful, constructive and representative speeches, made on what I might call the heart-searching of the nation for a solution of the great problems which lie before us; temperate in their delivery and yet expressing, if I may say so, through their youth, a greater hope for the future than we have been able to exhibit hitherto. It is very encouraging in this House and in this Parliament to feel that, as we pass on, young, capable, energetic, constructive minds are coming along to rule this great country of ours. I would like also to express to all Members who have spoken, our gratitude and thanks for their good wishes to the Prime Minister, in carrying out the task that lies ahead of him in his visit to Washington. There is one thing about this country and this House, and that is that however much we may disagree on whether we have enough houses or fried fish shops, we seem to agree on the imperative necessity of Britain retaining her moral lead in the world.
1334 I want, however, to plunge if I may into the most acute side of this discussion which came at the latter end of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). In this connection let me pay my tribute to President Truman for his frankness, for taking the world into his confidence, and for endeavouring in the Twelve Points to express in such a complete form what the United States feel about the whole of this great difficulty. If I may first make reference to the claim, which is a very serious claim, of the scientists to supersede the State, we must say in response to the question put to me that His Majesty's Government cannot surrender either their power or their duty in the field of government to any section of the community. We have great decisions on policy and sometimes, to be quite frank, we have to enter into an arrangement in their development with other countries; and when you select people to enter into the study and research of these things, and they know of and have indeed entered into an understanding to observe not only the Official Secrets Act but the honour of their own country, then I think that ought to be observed and respected in carrying out their duty.
The campaign that has gone on recently has not only been disturbing but has been unfair to the responsibility of Members of this House and His Majesty's Government as well. For let it be remembered that we are not the sole agents in this matter. I want hon. Members to feel that in the United States there is a greater disturbance in the public mind on account of their being the possessors of this bomb, and a greater responsibility weighs upon them than on some countries who are not in possession of it. They are feeling their way as to what is the right thing to do. I think that it is quite understandable that before you plunge into a step which may be disastrous, you are entitled to ask, not only the conditions which you are prepared to observe, but the conditions that others who are going to share the trust with you are going to observe also. I would like to say, speaking for myself for a moment, that since I have been in thisoffice—and I think it would be true of my predecessor—I have never for one moment, when considering what decisions I should give on this or that issue, considered the atomic bomb. I have looked 1335 at despatches from our Ambassadors overseas, and from all the information I have been able to get—and I make this declaration which I hope will be accepted throughout the world—I have never once allowed myself to think that I could arrive at this or that decision because Britain was or was not in possession of the atomic bomb.
Believe me, however great the power of weapons may be, whoever the Foreign Secretary may be, once he departs from a code of conduct of deciding these things to the best of his ability on the ground of what is right, then you will drift to disaster. When I was challenged jocularly recently at a conference in London about the atomic bomb I said in reply: "Not a single answer I have given, or a single decision I have taken in this conference—not for one moment have I thought of it." But there is another very great test you must apply in your decisions. If I may say so with almost religious conviction, when I have been asked to take a decision on policy in this or that direction, I have remembered all the time the implied obligations that this House and this Government—all Governments, our predecessors as well as ourselves—have entered into in connection with the United Nations. We say to ourselves: If we take this decision, although the United Nations Organisation is not yet established, are we taking a decision that will ultimately fail to fit in with the framework and obligations we are entering into. That is the test which, I suggest, if followed carefully will keep this country on the right lines.
These undertakings are not the under takings of the old League of Nations. First, the number of countries that have signed and undertaken obligations under the new world organisation is far wider than was ever undertaken by the League of Nations. Secondly, these very Twelve Points, which the President on behalf of the United States has entered into, never existed at any time during the existence of the League of Nations. The League of Nations had to struggle along with Russia out of it on the one side, and the United States out of it on the other, with a chauvinism that the war in 1918 did not destroy, but only held in temporary abeyance for recrudescence at a later stage. That I think is the great difference in the two positions. Therefore having 1336 regard to the declaration of President Truman and having regard to the wider area that the United Nations represent and not merely its wider area from the point of view of adherence to wider functions than the League of Nations actually undertook, it is all the more important, to ascertain, with careful judgment, whether what we are doing would jeopardise it or not.
In that I am ready to confess, and I think it is understandable, that there is a conflict—a conflict of principles which only time and understanding can really reconcile. You get a frightful nightmare of insecurity arising at every turn. On the other hand, you have the principle of co-operation, which I have referred to, standing out as your goal. The great difficulty arises, largely due to the terrific struggle of the last six years, of whether or not you can entirely obliterate what are sometimes called the spheres of influence, and power politics. Sometimes, in these negotiations, I make the confession that power politics seem to me to be naked and unashamed; the next moment, you see searching and striving for the other ideal. I would ask the House not to be too impatient in this transition period. I do not believe myself that you are going to settle this world by old time methods of a peace conference, such as was held in 1919. There are so many things to be done. Remember that the world has moved, as I said in the speech I made when I first took office, and that world affairs have got to be dealt with on the economic plane as well as on the political plane. Here you have masses of people throughout the world who in this war were led to believe—and I believe in time they will be satisfied—that they would have a higher standard of living than ever before. That is true, everywhere, I think. Secondly, the world is a much smaller place than it has ever been before; and, thirdly, this great demand for social justice cannot be withheld. The question is whether it will become so impatient for satisfaction that you cannot satisfy it with the production you have available quickly enough and urgently enough. I think President Truman realised this in his Twelve Points.
The atomic bomb is one phase of scientific development, and there has been great excitement at the prospect that this atomic bomb, or atomic energy, is likely 1337 to produce great industrial energy very quickly. I do not believe it at all. I think we ought really to get down to a sense of balance about this. It will be long, weary, hard, patient work, before this new form of energy is available to rejuvenate and revolutionise the energy of the world in industrial and other spheres, and I do not think that the excitement about it is so justified as people make out. That encourages me to believe that, in view of the fact that the industrial side of it is both costly and long term, and has to be patiently evolved, it gives us time to build up the United Nations organisation for peace time efforts and world organisation; so that as atomic energy evolves in industry, the necessity for its use as a weapon will have disappeared by reason of the new world organisation which we will endeavour to create.
I am not too disturbed about it. I have already said that policy cannot be shaped upon it. You can, if you will, have regard to the disasters that would arise from a wrong judgment, not on the use of the atomic bomb but on the policy one is pursuing in connection with world peace, which would lead to the use of the atomic bomb. Therefore, I put policy in connection with world peace as the absolutely predominant consideration in nullifying the desire for any more of these destructive weapons. In that we have to be constantly at work, and constantly endeavouring to arrive at it. I have already said that power politics, spheres of influence and that kind of approach to world affairs do present great difficulties. I used, at the Labour Party Conference at Blackpool, quite a simple phrase, which I now repeat as an appeal to the great Powers on behalf of His Majesty's Government. Put the cards on the table face upwards. We are ready to do it.
What do we want to do? What do we want to retain? For myself, and for His Majesty's Government, I have openly stated, in this House and at the Labour Party Conference, and on the public platform, that we will take no steps, we will do nothing nor allow any of our agents or diplomats to do anything which will stir up hatred, or provoke or create a situation detrimental to Russia in the Eastern countries. We recognise—indeed, it was a British invention—the Monroe 1338 doctrine in the Western hemisphere. But if security against attack and intrigue and the stirring up of difficulties is given, I cannot accept that the natural thing that follows from that is to close the door and prevent entry or any contact with those peoples for trade or anything else. I say that these are two separate and distinct things.
Neither am I prepared to accept the contention, so often blared from Moscow radio, that Russia claims the right to have friendly relationships with her near neighbours, even as President Roosevelt claimed a good neighbour policy for South America, of which we approved; while I am to be regarded as a criminal if I ask to be on good relations with nations bordering on the British frontier. What am I doing wrong? I am doing nothing to injure anybody, and I am not prepared to accept that position from any other country in the world. What His Majesty's Government are willing to give, they claim the right to have for their part with France, with Holland, Belgium, Scandinavia or other countries—not a Western bloc for war purposes. They are our cultural friends; they are our historical associates; they acknowledge the same democracy as we do, and, therefore, I say that I am entitled, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, to have good neighbours in my street, just as any other country is entitled to have good neighbours in any other street. I am perhaps a little energetic about this, but I am a little resentful, and I think the House will agree that I am entitled to be. After all, if there have been invading armies in the East of Europe, there has been the blast of war in Western Europe. Much of Europe's great civilisation has been almost destroyed by this frightful struggle.
Therefore, I welcome President Truman's declaration. I think it is a healthy one. These things are to be done by agreement, not by force, not by aggression. They are to be voluntarily entered into with the acquiescence of the people concerned. His Majesty's Government accept that, and we want it not merely for our protection; we do not want it because we are afraid to defend ourselves. We have given examples of that, Heaven only knows. Reverting to the original speech I made in this House when I took this office, I say that I regard the great economic development, the lifting 1339 of the burden of the life of the people, as the most important element in foreign policy. I believe that this country has much to give and much to gain by proper exchange and arrangements with other countries in cultural, economic and artistic life. I have often stood and watched little children in a park going to a fountain to drink. The cups are hung on a chain; one drinks two cups, another drinks one. They never quarrel, because there is enough for both. I think that is true of the great productive capacity of the world. There need be no jealousy, no competition. Our capacity is so great that we can do it.
The right hon. Member for Woodford said that if such a declaration had been made by President Trumanin 1914, the war might possibly have been avoided. If it had been repeated in 1939, war might equally have been avoided. From the point of view of encouragement both to our own people and the United States, these declarations are wonderful; but our policy must be such that they must be capable of being given effect to if ever they are challenged. That is to say, our relationships, our knowledge, our planning, our arrangements in economics and defence must be such that we are ready to stop aggression, should the occasion arise. I assume that when President Truman made this great declaration he did, in fact, mean what he said in his references to the navy, the army, and the industrial development of that great country, that he was laying down not merely a slogan or a platitude, but was indicating the roadway that the United States intend to follow in relation to the rest of the world.
The right hon. Gentleman said that his heart was heavy. I must confess that mine is not. I will tell the House why. I think we so deluded ourselves in 1918, largely, probably through propaganda during the war, but also largely because we had not had a war for a long time and did not know what it all meant. We have this advantage, terrible as it may seem: Not only have we had the 1914–18 war, but this horrible war for six years, and then the atomic bomb. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford that this Government is probably in a better position than other Governments have been in at the end of a war, because there is a greater public 1340 consciousness, both of the duties and the dangers, than there has ever been in the history of the country. I am not uttering one word of criticism of what has gone before. I think that responsibility is accepted by the humblest people in the country, and they are in a better position now to help us to work out the right policy than ever in the history of our country. The very bombing, the very attack upon us, the fact that the civilians have paid the price, as well as the soldiers overseas, the fact that we have not profited out of this war, the fact that we have to face the bill even now—and a very heavy one indeed—the taxes we have to pay, the rationing we still have to undergo and the continued obligations we have to meet, I regret all that, but I cannot help feeling that His Majesty's Government are in a favoured position, both to mould public opinion and to guide this great issue of peace and war, because of the very backing we shall get in trying to find a solution.
Every speaker to-day has indicated the same kind of attitude of mind. I welcome it because I believe that the close unison of this House, the exchange of views and understanding and, whatever other controversy we may have in the country, telling the people the truth about these things, will enable us to pull through and play our proper part. It has been argued by many people that the coming of the atomic bomb would wipe out the need of armies, navies or air forces. I think that is quite amisconception. What are the duties, apart from fighting, of armies, navies and air forces? If you take 100 years, I suppose it would be fair to say that for 85 to 90 per cent. of that time their duties have been police duties. In this world you must keep law and order; you cannot carry on civilisation in any other way. I do not suppose that it is in any hon. Member's mind that, every time somebody becomes obstreperous, you should fetch out the atomic bomb—with disastrous results. I think it is much better to drop a leaflet which, probably, in an ordinary disturbance, has just as good, or probably a better result.
What astounds me about the history of the British Navy is how cheaply we have policed the world for 300 years. I often think, when I read this history, that it is a good job no one called our bluff very often, for really, in the discussions in this House on Budgets and Esti- 1341 mates, looking back over it, we did take some frightful risks at times. I think the world was policed largely by the British Navy with less than 100,000 men. That is a very cheap police force, if you consider the size of the whole world. Therefore, I do not want us either to get in a panic about the atomic bomb or to regard it as a substitute for the ordinary normal means of policing the world under ordinary and normal conditions. Neither would I like to see police forces, or military forces, regarded as being a weapon of offence. It is a question of balance, and a question of what is right for keeping order.
I hope that, as the United Nations Organisation grows, we shall succeed in cutting down military expenditure to a minimum, but not to such a point that will make the United Nations Organisation ineffective, in itself, to stop aggression. Therefore, the Government of the day, as time goes on, will have to balance that very, very carefully. His Majesty's Government at the moment have very, very wide obligations all over the world. There is the aftermath of the war, which is very costly and very difficult, but we are not taking any risks until we are quite out of the wood. I think the House will support us in that. Do please remember that the atomic bomb might have been preceded—if not by quite as dangerous a weapon—by very important weapons, if our enemies had been successful, prior to the final solution of the atomic bomb. Therefore, do not let us keep our minds solely on the atomic bomb.
There are many other forms of scientific development of an equally disastrous kind. There, again, it is a question of arriving at a moment of complete confidence as to whom you entrust it to. The right to that complete confidence does not depend upon the sentiment of what you do with scientific discoveries; it depends upon a confidence as to the policy you are all following, and the obligations you are entering into. I do not believe that any international legal gentleman, or anybody, can devise a plan wherein an international inspectorate is worth anything in this matter. There is only one way in which you can be positive in running an international organisation, and that is when that organisation accepts fully such an obligation and policy, and you can trust their word without having to send a 1342 policeman round every time. We have got to arrive at that stage, but we have not arrived at it yet. I think we are still too near the war.
The right hon. Gentleman said we agreed to give inventions to other countries, but we did not have any in return. It may be that they were frightened to give us any in return, but we did set the example, which was a very big thing. Therefore, if our example is to be followed, let it really get into the pool before we take an undue risk. If I may refer to Russia, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that we have met almost every demand that we ever thought would be made. At Moscow, at Yalta, and the rest of those conferences, no one dreamed there would be further territorial demands except here or there, and the Straits adjustment. One would have thought everything had been conceded. I must say that having conceded all this, and not having taken one inch of territory, or asked for it, one cannot help being a little suspicious if a great Power wants to come right across, shall I say, the throat of the British Commonwealth, which has done no harm to anybody, but fought this war. One is driven to ask oneself the motive; that is not unreasonable, and I think that we must get down to stopping this demand for transfer of territory, and, within reason, make adjustments here and there. It is of little value. All this chopping and changing of frontiers over hundreds of years has made people very little richer—[An Hon. Member: "Or more secure."]—or more secure. And do remember this—I make this plain because sometimes we are lectured about it—in the British Empire, we gave freedom where it did not exist before, by the development of the Commonwealth.
No one can read the policy of His Majesty's Government, within the few months that have followed this war, without seeing the desperate efforts we are making to extend that liberty and the Commonwealth idea still further. It is time we sang our own song a little. In view of what has been laid before this House since we have been in office—the efforts the Colonial Office have made, and others, in trying to rebuild these territories on a wider and progressive development of freedom—at least let us take credit when we are just. We get kicks enough sometimes when the charge against us is not 1343 proven, and we get terribly kicked when it is proven. I conclude, therefore, by urging that our eyes should be fixed upon the United Nations' Organisation. All nations of the world should be united to look that way, to judge their policy, as we will do, by whether it leads to that great goal—the only goal in my judgment—of creating a world organisation, capable and masterful enough, united enough, to hold in check this evolution of scientific discovery, and make it the servant of man and not his destroyer.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Osborne (Louth)
May I ask for that degree of indulgence which is accorded to a new Member when making his maiden speech, and express the hope that as few hon. Members as possible will leave the House? Having sat here for three hours waiting, as we used to say in the last war, "sweating on the top line," my nerves have gone to pieces, if ever I had any. I want to put to the House one or two simple, practical ideas on Anglo-American affairs which I hope hon. Members will endorse. I do not propose to talk about the atomic bomb, because I do not understand it at all, and I think that is a fairly good reason. But the Prime Minister and his advisers are going to America, and I am sure that from this side of the House, as well as from the other side, we wish them the greatest possible success, because I am convinced that upon American solidarity depend the future peace and welfare of the world. If we cannot collaborate with Americans, who have inherited our traditions, our ways of life, our prejudices, our religion, our laws, how can we expect to get on with the Czechs, the Poles, the Jews, the Arabs, and the Russians? Let us do the things that are easy first.
My excuse for intervening, after such a long wait, is that, during the war, I have had the pleasure of working in a voluntary capacity with the American Forces, mostly with the airborne troops, in the country. I had the privilege of establishing the first information centre for the American troops in this country, and during the past three and a half years something like 10,000 men have passed through that centre. If the House will bear with me, I should like to explain the method we used because, simple though it may be, I think it is effective and can be used elsewhere. We dealt with G.Is.
1344 and not with officers. In the 1914–18 war, I served as a Tommy Atkins throughout, and my sympathy was with the G.Is. We had volunteers ready to write to every man's mother or his wife. We had one amusing case. A man said he was married, but when we asked for his address he inquired what we wanted it for. One of my good-looking girls said she was going to write to his wife, but he said, "No, Mom, you don't; she will think there is something wrong." We sent thousands of letters and we had thousands in reply—mostly grateful letters, sometimes tragic and sorrowful because the last occasion on which the writers had heard from their sons or husbands was when they heard from our centre. We built up in that way hundreds of good contacts with the American people. Laws and regulations mean nothing, unless the good will of the ordinary people is behind them. We have in America today more ambassadors of peace than we have ever had since 1776. I think it is fairly true to say that about 2,000,000 American soldiers have gone through Britain during the war, and I believe something like half a million of them have been entertained in English homes. They have made contacts. The English homes have been their second homes.
§ Mr. Osborne
Well, I am an Englishman, and the greater includes the less. Of those 2,000,000 men who have been in this country, something like half a million have been privately entertained in British homes. It would be a tragedy to this country and to the world if all that good will which has been brought about by the people—not by Governments but by the people—is allowed to evaporate. I want the Prime Minister, in whom all of us here have the utmost confidence, to cement further good Anglo-American relations.
When I came to this House I had one shock. I came here with the conviction that, apart from looking after the agricultural interests of my constituency, the most important job I had to do was to try in my small way to cement good Anglo-American relations. I found in this House groups of men who were here to further the interests of the Jews, or the Arabs, the Czechs or the Poles, and even some 1345 of the Germans, but I have not found one group of any kind who were interested in cementing good Anglo-American relations. [Hon. Members: "Oh, yes."] I say I have not found it. It may be that it is my fault, but I have made careful inquiries, and I have not found one group of men who are primarily interested in what I think is the most important thing in this country—the cementing of good Anglo-American relations. It would be an awful tragedy if the Anglo-Saxon world built up a bloc against Russia, and no one with any sense in this country or in America wishes to do it. But I want to do first things first, and to do the easiest things first, difficult though it may be. I can understand an American, whose languare I can speak, better than a Russian whose language I cannot speak.
As I was coming to the House sometime ago on the L.M.S. railway from Leicester, we passed a slow-moving train, and on the guard's van was written in chalk by some decent, hardworking, earnest Englishman "Good old Uncle Joe Stalin." I have no complaint to make about that, because I think that was an honest tribute to people who fought hard, who suffered hard and who have helped in the common cause. What I complain of is that those who have educated the ordinary men of this country have shown them only half the picture. There ought to have been beside that chalked inscription, "Good old Uncle Franklin Roosevelt," because during the war our hope came from the West primarily, rather than from the East. We ought to teach our people that every fourth mouthful of food that we had during the war, came to us through the generosity of Franklin Roosevelt and his people. I do not say that we should blot out "Good old Uncle Joe Stalin," and I do not set the other one against it; they both should be there. I beg the Leader of the House, who I understand was the general and organiser of the Socialist Party's victory in the recent polls, to use his organising power and "sell" America to the English people, as he has "sold" Russia to them.
Finally, I would say this—and I hope I am not going too far, because I feel very deeply about this. In the past there have been five main contacts between this country and America. First there has been the church—the exchange of pulpits; 1346 secondly, the exchange of teachers; thirdly, the interest in our historic places. Those three things I do not wish to abolish—I hope they will continue—but two more modern ones are necessary and vital, and they are the job of those on the other side of the House. We want a closer, better and more regular understanding between trades unions of this country and of America. I think that is vital. Secondly, I want to see a closer contact between the business interests of this country and the business interests of America—not merely between the great combines like Lever Brothers and I.C.I., but the small ordinary business men so that we may do away with the suspicion which is so often in the minds of Englishmen, that some how the Yanks will be too clever for us—and, remarkable though it may be, it is also in the mind of the average American that he will be "out-smarted" by us. The only way to get over fear and suspicion is to meet one another and talk with one another. The more we see of them the better.
Much is talked about peace. I believe there can be no peace unless we and the Americans stand together. Peace can come only through strength. It cannot come through pious aspirations or noble speeches. The only lengthy peace that was known in Europe was the Roman peace, when Rome had the power to enforce it. In future, peace will depend upon industrial potentials, and the greatest industrial potential in the world is in the English speaking nations. As a father of four small children, I speak for the younger parents; I would give anything to save my children from a future war I feel that the first step towards giving them that great boon is for us and the Americans, to put all our cards on the table, so to speak, to help one another and mutually understand one another.
In "The Times" this morning there was a remarkable letter from which I may be permitted to quote, because it is typical of the hundreds of letters that I have at home from parents and wives of the men we helped to look after. The letter is written by an American sergeant—not one of the "upper crust" people. He says:On the eve of my departure from England I trust that you will allow me to express my deep gratitude for the innumerable acts of courtesy and kindness with which I have been met on every hand during my stay in England. I have travelled from Durham in 1347 the north to Rye in the south, and I have everywhere been treated with heart-warming friendliness.I return to the United States with a deep admiration and affection for the English people, with my memory richly stored with pictures of the English countryside and of the cathedrals and churches which are the glory of this island, with my heart warm with the thought of the many friends, both among civilians and in the forces, with whom I have spent so many happy days"—and this is the important thing—with a profound pride in the glories of our common heritage, and with the heart-felt prayer that our two peoples may be for ever united in the closest friendship.I wish the Prime Minister and his team the greatest success in America. I hope they will be abundantly blessed in all that they do. I feel if we are ever to get peace we have first to turn the minds of our people—the ordinary people; and I belong to them, although I sit on this side of the House, and I make a greater claim to that than most Members on the other side of the House—occasionally from Moscow to Washington, and to Winnipeg, Cape Town and Sydney, for it is in the solidarity of the English speaking peoples that our hope lies.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Flying-Officer Lever (Manchester, Exchange)
Having succeeded in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, I feel that I stand especially in need of the indulgence which a merciful tradition accords to maiden speakers, particularly as the atom bomb seems to have dominated this discussion. If I make a speech which is controversial I shall be rebuked for a breach of tradition; if, on the other hand, I confine myself to pious platitudes, there may be some who will accuse me of trespassing on the preserves of the Front Bench. Be that as it may, I must persevere and I trust that the House will forgive me if, unintentionally, I sin against either its custom or its rule.
I feel a very high honour has been conferred upon me in the privilege of addressing the House today in this important Debate. As I read President Truman's now momentous declaration, I could not help feeling that it is not the generalisations that he expresses which are of importance, but the intentions which one can deduce from them. There are two intentions which stand out in my mind as the only certainties from his pronouncement. One is that the United 1348 States of America intends to maintain enormous armed forces of all kinds, and the second is that she intends to continue manufacturing the atom bomb as her own secret of manufacture, as part of those national forces. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman who leads the Opposition, and naive as I am in comparison with his great experience in these matters, I must confess that I treat with great reserve generalised declarations and their effect, and I am more concerned with what I consider to be the immediate practical steps which Governments are taking.
I regret that I treat also with some scepticism the statement by the Leader of the Opposition that a declaration such as this would have avoided this war, that war or any other war. In my respectful submission, declarations will not avoid wars. What is needed is action deliberately planned to secure peace. I know that it is now said that all these national armaments are wanted in the cause of peace. The Foreign Secretary referred to our intention to police the world. Unfortunately, there are a number of competitors for this job, and it is now quite clear that the three Powers have each staked their claim to be the world policeman—not, apparently, in unison or by arrangement with some united organisation, but as an individual decision on the part of their Governments. They claim the right to keep on the backs of the peoples of the world this staggering cost of armament for many years to come, because nobody seems to envisage an early step being taken towards disarmament. They seem to envisage that the peoples of the world are going to be conscripted because they will not come voluntarily into the massed armies which everybody, with apparent equanimity, contemplates as a feature of the postwar world. If the music for the overture is to be the tramp of millions of armed soldiers and the clang of arsenals and factories turning out the munitions of war, amongst them the atom bomb, I think we must be very naïve if we expect the curtain to go up on a play called "Peace and Reconstruction."
In my submission it is the duty of the British Government to exercise the moral leadership it claims by taking early steps which are in accord with the demands of the common people of all lands to reduce the burden of armaments and to 1349 reduce the burden of conscription and war service now that the war has been won. I want to make it clear that we in England accepted our duty to serve in this war without question in the national interest, but we want that service to come to an end and to come to an end very soon, just so soon as the national safety will permit. We do not like conscription, we ordinary Englishmen, in peace time particularly, and we are under no illusions that when we gave up our liberties and accepted it for the time being it was not palatable. We do not consider even the voluntary acceptance of chains as being the equivalent of liberty, and we are anxious to see that the people of this land are not fettered by the logical consequence of acceptance of a policy of great arms and great armies in the post-war years.
An attractive theory is commonly held which accounts for the fact that nobody now cares to take the commonsense view that the first step towards peace is to try to get some international agreement for reducing arms and armies, and that attractive theory is that this war was brought about because this country was not prepared for war. I can understand hon. Members on the benches opposite holding that view, but for the life of me I cannot understand why it has any attractions for the Members on this side. Hon. Members opposite, for the most part, need it as an excuse for the policy which led to the war, which was, in fact, a policy precisely the same as that they are advocating today—I do not say they do it with any evil intent—the policy of nationalism, the policy of not honestly trusting or believing in an international organisation but all the time preferring this alliance or that alliance according as the needs of power politics prompt them from time to time. It may be said that hon. Members opposite have been chastened and that they now believe in international organisation. I should like to believe it. I am not anxious to jeer at them, because repentant sinners, we are told, are very welcome. In the eyes of the angels, I believe they are equal to ten righteous men, though I am afraid the proportions of those pious mathematics are not likely to prevail in the Division Lobby.
For my own party, as we are a Government, I think it is our duty to make 1350 it plain to the nation and to the peoples of the world that we do not envisage our security, or world security, as being any longer obtainable by those outworn methods of purely selfish nationalism. The atom bomb in particular has made them obsolete. I know there are some people in this country, and they used to exist before the war, who really believe that military service is desirable for our people, that they have always longed to put on us the same sort of fetters as have been accepted as part of the normal routine of Continental life. The same gentlemen used to go to Nazi Germany before the war and paint glowing pictures of the fine, upstanding Nazi conscripts. We now know what those fine, upstanding young conscripts had to make in the way of a contribution to the cultural and physical welfare of Europe—all the ravaging and suffering they inflicted, finally bringing down in misery and ruin their own country. So we are not anxious to have any predisposition in favour of imitating those who advocate military service for its own sake. If those people are so interested in producing healthy young people I suggest they should express that willingness by voting one-tenth of the sum required for maintaining them in armed camps for providing youth clubs and means of healthy exercise for these youngsters without any relation to war at all. I say that not in any sense as a pacifist.
This brings me to the second point, the atom bomb. The attitude of the people of the world to the atom bomb is, I regret to say, something of a vote of "No confidence" in world leadership. It is plain that he is not welcoming this giant stride forward in the mastery over Nature that man has achieved. The average man in the street does not believe that he is going to get motor cars that will drive him round the world for 6d., or ovens that will cook sponge cakes for next to nothing in a few seconds. He knows what he will get from the atom bomb, if our present rulers go on. He does not expect benefits, he expects destruction—unless by some magical process the statesmen of the world buck up their ideas. It is plain that none of the pronouncements they have made so far have given the common man any confidence in the policies being pursued.
I regret to have to say that the reaction of the average commonsense individual 1351 to the atom bomb is that he feels that his statesmen are very little men who are facing a problem far too big for them. To adapt a well-known saying, the mice have been in labour on this subject and they have given birth to a mountain of platitudes, but very little in the way of a practical policy. What is required is not so much the internationalisation of knowledge on this subject as a genuine, honest, international attempt to prevent the making of this bomb at all. Nobody seems to have suggested that, and I hate to appear in the light of the small boy who pointed out the nudity of people in the court, but I am bound to say that, speaking as an ordinary man who does not relish the idea of being blown to pieces or disintegrated with his family in a few years' time, I should welcome a statement from the Foreign Secretary that the Government are anxious not to make this bomb at all, but anxious to see whether means cannot be found whereby the peaceful purposes of nuclear research are not prejudiced and the horrible possibilities of atomic bomb management are disavowed at the earliest opportunity. I do not believe that a "police force," such as countries are so fond of calling their enormous array of armed might, requires the atomic bomb. In the declarations by Governments about how they intend to use their enormous forces we are told they are intended for peaceful purposes, but I do not feel very reassured, because the only use our statesmen have made so far of the United Nations Organisation has been as an excuse for having enormous armaments for an indefinite period of time.
The second point one ought to have hi mind when one sees how many countries are maintaining armies and their capacity for the production of weapons is that we are forming an international peace organisation and not a suicide club, and it seems to me that this point is entirely neglected when the Foreign Secretary gets up and, being himself the arch-type of light English humour, tolerance and good sense, tries to persuade us that the mighty armies which we and our Allies—or shall I say ex-Allies, because there is a possibility of that happening in a few years or sooner—are only harmless "bobbies" on the beat. I do not know whether the policeman's lot will be a 1352 happy one if this idea of every nation deciding to police the world is adopted, but the lot of the people of the world will not be enviable in the not distant future.
The three Powers, America, England and the U.S.S.R., have a duty, in my submission, consistent with their responsibilities. It ought not to be forgotten that those who are the only wielders of decisive economic power and decisive military power at a given period are the people on whom responsibility rests for forming the world, and they cannot escape that responsibility by saying, "We must have Cuba, Paraguay, and Timbuctoo brought into the Conference."
There are three Powers who have the duty among them of laying the foundations for world peace. The first step in performing that duty is to release the world from the incubus of these fantastic armaments which are bleeding the world of its productive capacity at the present time. People generally do not like being chivvied or badgered about by Colonel Blimp or people of the sergeant-major mentality in their formative years when they ought to be producing something useful. It is as well, incidentally, to bear in mind that Colonel Blimp is probably at present an acting-brigadier and is not anxious to lose his establishment by going back to the old conditions and his old cartoon status.
It seems to me that these are the problems to which the Foreign Secretary and the Government ought to address their minds. I urge upon the Prime Minister that when he goes to the United States he will bear in mind that the people of this world, and particularly of this country, after six years of war are crying out for peace and reduction of armaments, and that in their attempt to secure permanent peace the Prime Minister, the President of the United States and Monsieur Stalin should really set about the practical job of achieving unity on this matter and of providing relief for the world, as that may very well prove to be the key which will unlock the door to a solution of the problems which stand in the way of unity. They may provide the way to secure peace not only for the United Nations and not only for ourselves, but so that all nations of the world, small and large, will be able to live in peace.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
If I should appear less eager than the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken to "knock somebody's block off," I hope it will not be thought by the House that I do not sometimes enjoy indulging in that activity. The reason, I would assure the hon. and gallant Member, is that as I am about to make a maiden speech I feel convinced that the traditions of this House are sound and that maiden speakers should endeavour to contribute something to the Debate without being unnecessarily controversial. The process of maiden speeches becomes increasingly familiar to those who listen to them, but the intensity of the ordeal to those who have to make them is constant. It is therefore not entirely owing to the demands of tradition that I ask the House to grant me its indulgence during these next few minutes. I can say to the House, for its own assurance and for my own comfort, that these few minutes will be mercifully short.
I would like to say a little about the Americans, from the point of view of one who has had the privilege of sharing the hardships of battle with those great people from the operational and from the administrative point of view. I believe that it has been said before, and that it is worth repeating, that in no environment do men get to know one another so well and so surely as in the environment of war. We British got on so well with the Americans in war that there can surely be no doubt that we can do the same thing in peace. That applies just as strongly to the case of Russia. I cannot say much about Russia because I have not had the privilege or the honour of fighting alongside our Russian Allies. I wish I had. If I say little about Russia I ask the House to believe that what I am about to say in regard to America has to be applied just as much to Russia. The problem is one and indivisible. There must not be one problem between us and America and another problem between us and Russia; but simply because I know a little more about the former I shall dwell on it for a minute or two. I believe that never in our history have the relations between the United States of America and this country been as good as they are now. I believe that that is mainly for the reason that during the 1354 last six years of conflict more Americans have got to know well more British people than has ever been the case hitherto. Our two peoples have been flung together by the necessities of war. I would make the plea that those who lead our two countries should not forget the supreme value of that lesson. The immediate danger as I see it is that in the years to come far too few of each nation—of course I include Russia too—will see each other. If the peoples can work out a scheme whereby a flow of travel from one nation to another can be kept up in ever-growing volume, that scheme will make a very great contribution to world peace. It is only because people are strange to one another that they suffer from mistrust of one another. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said some time ago that the movement of men and women within the Empire had to be made easier and that a two-way traffic should grow. I would like to say that, admirable as that sentiment is, it might well be extended to include the sentiment that the movement of men and women throughout the world should be made easier. There should be a three-way traffic at least.
There are two further points which I wish to make. The first is that although understanding between ourselves and the Americans is so good at present, no step should be left untried to improve it. We must not sit back and rest on our laurels. I am optimistic as to the future in that regard, for reasons which I have already given. I feel it may not be stretching the point too far to suggest that one day, by the development of television, we might even be able to have a Debate with Congress. I should like to think that we could do the same with the Kremlin, but the language difficulty might make that a somewhat abortive project.
There is one great danger of which I would like to remind the House in connection with this increasing of understanding between the Allies. That is that there are sure to be continuing and growing attempts by those who wish no good to Allied unity to disrupt that unity. When the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) said the other day that we should be very careful when we criticise Russia because that is exactly what the reactionary elements in Germany would desire, I think he was 1355 right. I do not suppose that there is very much of what the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith says that I would agree with, but in that I am certain he was right. We cannot be too careful. Exactly the same applies to our relations with America. It is well known that just before the war the actively pro-German elements in America were carrying on a thoroughly successful and subtle propaganda, and there are those who are of the opinion that it was just nipped in the bud in time. We must watch that sort of thing very carefully, because there is no reason whatever to suppose that because Germany has been beaten her reactionaries have altogether thrown up the sponge.
The final point I wish to make is very short; it is that unless the eleventh point of President Truman's Twelve Points becomes a reality, none of the remaining eleven is of much use. The eleventh point is the one which postulates freedom of expression and religion. I believe that we have freedom of expression in this country, and I believe that there is freedom of expression in America. I am not sure—and in saying this I beg the House to believe that I have no desire whatever to cause bad relations anywhere—Iam not so sure that that freedom of expression exists in Russia to the extent to which it exists here and in America. Until that freedom of expression, which I believe is as good a common denominator of democracy as can be found, exists evenly throughout the world, there will probably be trouble, and certainly there will be suspicion.
That is all I wish to say to the House. I wanted, as best I might, to pay a tribute to those great people, the Americans. At the moment, as I said at the beginning, our relations with them could not be better. I sincerely hope that it is not true that these relations have been in any way worsened from the other side because of a major political event in this country. I see no reason whatever why that should be so. One is entitled to one's view and to express it, and therefore I may say that what may appear to some to be a deviation from the paths of political common-sense need not necessarily be permanent. So, I would say to our American friends that we, as a people, whatever our political views, are a people with a warm heart, and just because occasionally the 1356 warmth of the heart may develop into a slight heat of the head let them not despair. Let them know also that the Prime Minister goes to America with the sincere good wishes of us all, wherever we stand in this House.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Parkin (Stroud)
I, too, have to ask for the indulgence of the House on addressing it for the first time. That is a purely personal need, and the need would be as acute if I were addressing the House on some unimportant point as it is in connection with such an important matter as this. But it is not unfitting that, in a Debate as important as this, should be heard some of us who have not been here before, particularly some of us who have come to this House from constituencies which have recently changed their minds. There are many of us on this side of the House—I am one—who had behind them no strong sectional block vote, but who were sent here, and could only have been sent here, by the steady support of all sections of the community. It is most important that the common people of our Allies should realise what is happening in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said that perhaps the present composition of this House might be a transient phenomenon, and the hon. Member who has just preceded me also tended, I thought, to be offering a sort of apology in advance to the United States of America for this country having elected this Parliament, which is responsible for the present Government. But there is nothing transient in the deep yearning of millions of people in this country and throughout Europe for two things—that man should learn to be the master of material things, and that he should work out an international order. There is nothing transient in the determination of the people to attain both those aims.
There is nothing new in those aims; they were the hopes of millions at the end of the last war, but those hopes were disappointed. Perhaps those hopes were fixed on a more spectacular solution in both cases and that solution failed, but this time there is a quiet confidence that those aims can, in a practical way, be attained. Fresh heart was given to the people during the darkest hours of the war as it became evident that something 1357 was happening which some of us had almost regarded as beyond the bounds of possibility for many years to come—that the British Commonwealth, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the Republic of China would, joined and strengthened by liberated France, at the end of the war be united in leading the world towards a peaceful solution of its problems. That was the hope which inspired and encouraged many people, in all countries, to survive the war. Something seems to have happened to shake that hope, and we hear that there are disagreement and uncertainty, and that the hope is dashed. But what has happened? Nothing that one can pin down as a practical breakdown, nothing irrevocable or irreparable has happened; there have been some incidents, trivialities which have been exaggerated; there have been some statements which may have been quoted out of their context; but nothing yet has happened to make the world lose heart.
Now is the chance for moral leadership to restore that confidence and hope. There is nothing new in those moral aspirations. They were expressed, if I may be allowed to recall it to the House, very long ago by another weary warrior, King David, who, when he asked to be given a drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, would not drink it when it was brought to him and said:Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?and poured it out as a libation unto the Lord. That is the spirit in which ordinary people throughout the world hoped that the problems of peace would be tackled at the end of the war. They hoped that such benefits and advantages as might fall to us to offset the fearful losses and destruction of war might be poured out as a libation for the benefit of the whole of humanity. Now is the chance for that to be done. We have heard so often of the need for free access to raw materials and to markets; let us now add to that free access to scientific knowledge. Let the republic of knowledge open its doors to the whole world, and encourage people to forget these trivial differences.
The ordinary people feel that this is humanity's last chance to order its life on moral principles. We used to be told that we could not solve practical problems 1358 by moral uplift. We have made some progress there, too, because politicians, psychologists, industrial efficiency experts and physiologists tell us that we can solve practical problems by moral uplift. One of the biggest practical problems before the world at the present time is to get people back to useful work, the sort of work that they want to do and the whole world needs. People want to do something to restore the damage of war and restore the abundance which is possible. If we get a moral lead now, that moral lead will do more to restore the production of goods and send people back to work than all the industrial efficiency experts in the world. That is the chance that is open to this country now. If the Prime Minister seizes this opportunity to get a moral lead given to the world, he will get millions of young people, with new energy and enthusiasm, down to the ordinary tasks of life that will produce that abundance which can remove the causes of quarrelling, and send them enthusiastically forward, as we used to sing,With flame of freedom on their lips, And light of knowledge in their eyes.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
It used to be considered a great privilege to congratulate one hon. Member on his maiden speech, but nowadays it has become quite a common privilege to congratulate more than one. I have the unusual privilege of congratulating four hon. Members, and I can do so with sincerity because there is no doubt that the House has been held by the speeches of the four hon. Members. My congratulations go particularly to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) because he was interrupted in his maiden speech and did not seem to mind, and I find that, although I have got well beyond my maiden speech, I am still considerably embarrassed if I am interrupted. The hon. Member also had the courage to maintain that he was an Englishman. The Noble Lord the Member for North Midlothian and Peebles (Lord John Hope) also had the very full support of the House because he, like the other hon. Member, got away from the political side of things and down to the feelings of the ordinary people of the United States and this country. I think that is extremely important. The hon. and gallant Member for the Exchange Division of Manchester (Flying-Officer Lever) spoke with very great 1359 confidence, and we shall be glad to hear him again. I feel that some hon. Members of the Conservative Party will be glad that when the hon. Member speaks again, having got pas this maiden speech, they will be able to say what they think about his remarks. I am particularly glad to be able to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Stroud (Flight-Lieutenant Parkin) because he was partly responsible for putting me into the House seven years ago, and at the last Election, by an unfortunate accident, I sent a message to one of his opponents hoping that the hon. and gallant Member would not be elected.
This Debate is primarily a debate in which to wish the Prime Minister Godspeed on his journey. He does not go as the representative of one political party. We should make it clear to the people across the Atlantic that the Prime Minister goes with the good wishes of all people in this country, whatever their political views may be. The future of all of us will be affected by his success or failure. He goes as the representative of a great people that is proud of its part in the war and that will prefer to accept poverty with dignity to riches which might involve loss of independence. A few days ago Mr. Bernard Baruch, the American economist, was warning his people against the danger of helping Britain if Britain was going to nationalise her industries. It would be an offence to all of us, whatever may be our party, to have financial help based upon conditions as to what we should do inside our own country. If American private enterprise is so frightened of what our industries will do on a nationalised basis that it must refuse help, then we must get on as 'best we can alone. What this House would want to make clear is that the Prime Minister goes to America not as a beggar, but as a colleague anxious to discuss with President Truman the method of putting into effect point 10 of his programme, in which he said:We believe that full economic collaboration between all nations, great and small, is essential to the improvement of living conditions all over the world and to the establishment of freedom from fear and want.We must hope that the American people are ready to take the President at his word. The second point is that apparently the Prime Minister goes to America as the representative of a Government with 1360 the same knowledge of the atomic bomb as the President of the United States. I listened with great attention and admiration to what the Foreign Secretary said. But it seemed to me that he was giving us a warning that the Government are not going to urge upon the President of the United States that we should share the secret of the atomic bomb with other countries. I think there is a good deal to be said for that. It is true that during the war we passed on all sorts of secrets to the Soviet Union and that there was no reciprocity; but I hope very much that the Prime Minister will not go with a closed mind about this subject. I hope very much that he will not do what the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) urged upon him. The President of the United States said in his now famous speech:The people in the United States, in Russia, in Britain, in France and in China, in collaboration with all other peace-loving people, must take the course of current history into their own hands and mould it in a new direction, the direction of continued co-operation.The President of the United States mentioned the five permanent members of the Security Council, but it is the worst hypocrisy for any of us to pretend that that Security Council can possibly come into existence and do useful work if two of its members are in possession of so important a weapon which the others know nothing about. What frightened me was the way in which the right hon. Member for Woodford described how we were at least four years in advance of other countries in this business of atomic research and described how in four years' time, when other countries have thought it out, we should be four years ahead again. This picture of mankind involved in this horrible, mad race towards mass murder is surely utterly out of place after we have just come through such a horrible war and at a time when millions of people in Europe are still threatened with starvation and misery as a result of it. I was one of the first Members in the House to urge that the secret of the atomic bomb should be shared, with safeguards, with other members of the Security Council, and, despite what my right hon. Friend said about the lack of reciprocity, I nevertheless hope that the Prime Minister will be able to make that effort. I think—I do not like to differ from the right hon.
1361 Gentleman the Foreign Secretary—that if we made that offer conditional upon every possible right of search in any factories in any of the United Nations it would be a fairly useful deterrent and, at the same time, supposing any one of the United Nations was so foolish as to turn down the acceptance of this international right of search with regard to the atomic bomb, the world would know much better than it does now where the responsibility would lie for such a policy.
The final point I want to make is that one or two hon. Members of this House have drawn attention to the inconsistencies of the President's speech. It is very easy to do so. The President said:We do not seek for ourselves one inch of territory in any part of the world. Outside the right to establish necessary bases for our own protection we look for nothing which belongs to any other Power.That is obviously an argument which can be used just as well by the Soviet Union, which has very few outlets and which suffered terribly in the war because of lack of ports, through which it might get raw material. There are members of this House who have been on Arctic convoys and who know what serious losses we suffered in order to get material through to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, we should look at the speech as a whole rather less in the search for inconsistencies of that kind. We have been accused of hypocrisy in the past, and now that the power has passed to the United States, they will be accused of hypocrisy in the future. But let us remember, at a time when the people of the United States are passing through, almost a hysteria of disillusion after the war, that it is very courageous and useful that the President of the United States should have come out so definitely in favour of international co-operation.
If one reads those points through again, one realises that at a time when one would expect the growth of the demand for isolation, the President comes out pledging the United States to the extent of 100 per cent. co-operation in the future. It is a very welcome fact indeed and reminds us, however much some of us are depressed because the world looks a pretty lousy place at the present time, that the situation is very much better than it was after the last war. Those of us who were at the Peace Conference remember how the Italians walked out in the middle, and how Presi- 1362 dent Wilson had a cruiser ready to take him back to the United States. We should all be encouraged by the fact that at such a time as this the President of the United States should have made such a speech; it leads us to hope that the Prime Minister of this country, who, for all the years I remember him, has been perfectly consistent in support of international collective security, may meet the success in the United States for which every Member of this House hopes and prays.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
While expressing my real gratitude to your immediate predecessor in the Chair and to you, Mr. Speaker, for combining to call me to my feet, I feel that I must express a certain amount of regret that I have been called after my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett). Every Member of this House who has been for any length of time in the House at all has had the fun and pleasure of congratulating up to a round half dozen of maiden speakers. I have been deprived of that pleasure and I feel rather sore about it, and so I am looking round, for I have to congratulate someone. My attention has rightly fallen upon the Foreign Secretary. I have rarely heard a more robust and resolute exposition of British foreign policy. I would also like to suggest that, as our front bench here is rather empty at the moment, if at any time he would like to find a resting place from some of his enthusiastic—but not over-enthusiastic, I noticed this afternoon—supporters, I am sure the Conservative Party would be only too pleased to welcome so big, in every sense of the word, an Englishman—and coming from a non-Englishman the House will appreciate that that is a compliment.
In listening to the Debate, as I have listened to it, I feel that there is one fear, although not yet expressed, running through the mind of every speaker, and that is the fear that our friends in the United States will relapse back into that most seductive policy of isolation. It is no good wishfully thinking to the contrary. I have talked to hundreds of American soldiers and officers, and it was obvious that the chief object of every one of them was to get back home. There is another very important factor that sways heavily in American politics, and that is the mothers of America. The women of 1363 America, especially the mothers, have a very potent influence and they want to get their men back home and prevent them ever leaving home again. They do not like the idea of having them, once again, subject to the insidious wiles of the English flapper, or the German mädchen or the French cocotte—I forget what the exact term is. It is only by a policy of isolation that they can secure what they believe is the right policy for America, and that is the policy of keeping American men and boys in their own country.
I say to myself, and no doubt every hon. Member asks himself the same question, How can we negative this attitude and make sure that that friendship we have heard so much about as having been developed during the war will remain and grow and become a powerful factor in the peace and security of the world? One of the main ways to achieve that object—and a very good one—is the suggestion of making the headquarters of the United Nations Organisation in the United States. I believe that to have it located there would mean that we would maintain the interest of Americans in world security and also give them a sort of national responsibility for that security.
I now come very briefly to the Twelve Points and I want to be quite candid, because we cannot talk to Americans in any other way except with candour. They do not understand anything else. They like straight talk and I hope that all my American friends—and. I am very happy to have a great number—will absolve me from any impertinence in this criticism, which is the first I have heard today, of the Twelve Points. When I read them I felt that I had rarely read a more staggering declaration of power politics. I must characterise it as that; otherwise, it has a naïvete that I cannot claim for a man in the position of world leadership like President Truman.
I hope that our present Prime Minister, when he goes to America, with the good will of everyone in the House and everyone in the country, will try to represent the facts and realities of what is happening over here in Europe, and what is in the mind of the average British subject, so that President Truman might see fit to revise some of the declarations incor- 1364 porated in his Twelve Points. If I might take one or two of them which were referred to by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett), I would refer to that which states "We seek no territorial advantage." How can that be reconciled with the claim for a string of Atlantic and Pacific bases which previously were, and still are, the property of other nations? Then we come to therestoration of sovereign rights to all nations who have been deprived of them.Does that apply to Latvia, Lithuania, Esthonia and some of the Balkan countries? [An Hon. Member: "Yes, it does."] If the hon. Member has any point to make, let him make it, or else wait until the end of my speech and see how I try to present a balanced picture.
Then there is the refusal to approveany territorial changes without the freely-expressed wishes of the people concerned.There are very few places in Europe to which that applies today, and, reading carefully through these Twelve Points, I find it extremely difficult to discover a country that President Truman will be able to recognise at all. I want to make it clear, having made these brief criticisms in a spirit of the greatest possible friendship, but, at the same time, of candour, that I believe that the future of humanity and civilisation depends upon the United States and the British Empire being and remaining in the closest, most friendly and most intimate collaboration, and, therefore, I am very anxious that the Prime Minister will exercise all his persuasive powers and carry with him, in his heart and mind, the knowledge that he has to the American President and impress upon him that this friendship must be a flower which will be cultivated so that it may blossom to the greatest possible extent.
There is another point which I must make. It concerns the tremendously important statement about preserving peace by force. I have read that statement again and again. Is it by a threat of the atomic bomb that peace is going to be preserved? Is that at the back of the President's mind? If that is so, then, indeed, I give up all hope of seeing peace in this world. We cannot preserve peace by threats; we can only preserve it by good will, co-operation and understanding, and, on occasion, by compromise. That is the direction in which 1365 we have done so much, in the history of our country, in maintaining peace.
I would like now to deal with Soviet Russia in one or two sentences, because, in my preceding remarks, it might appear that I was unduly or unfairly criticising the United States, and I want to paint the picture, as I see it now, and which I hope will be the picture the Prime Minister will put before the President, fairly and completely. I remember a conversation I had with my friend Mr. Maisky, the Russian Ambassador here, just after Hitler had declared war on Russia. On that occasion I said: ''The great tragedy is that it has taken another world war to wipe away the clouds of suspicion, doubt and mistrust which have overshadowed our relationships during the 20 years," and I went on to say that it was, in a way, partly Russia's own fault, whatever good will we might have had, because of the curtain which Russia put up and which we could not pierce. M. Maisky said, with a twinkle in his eye, "Was it not rather a fortunate thing that that curtain was there, because the Germans were not able to pierce it either? Otherwise, they would have attacked you instead of us." There is a lot of truth in that. We have got to recognise that, though we may not understand the reasons and though we may close our eyes to its existence, this suspicion still exists. How can this suspicion be abolished? I know the answer, but I do not know whether we can carry it out. It is by constant and most intimate collaboration and exchange of viewpoints on the very highest level; that is, between President Stalin, our own Prime Minister and President Truman. What is even more important is constant intercourse on lower levels, and here I would like to say how glad I am that the Russian football team is over here. I wish the preparations for their accommodation had been a little more adequate, but, nevertheless, it is all to the good.
I know the Russians pretty well, and I have found them to be, generally speaking, kindly, generous, sympathetic and friendly people. I think, indeed, that we are both people with the same virtues, and, therefore, one feels so horrified and distressed that 20 years of ignorance, sometimes of deliberate misunderstanding, have left us both unable to appreciate these very same qualities that exist in our two peoples. I say they must be over- 1366 come, and that is one reason why I am particularly sorry that the Ministry of Information is likely to be abolished. I deplore it because I believe that time is on the wing just now. We may have a 20 years' alliance with Russia, but alliances do not make friendships and we have got to cement that alliance into real understanding friendship in which we both appreciate each other.
The Ministry of Information was able to do a great job of work in that direction, and that work, indeed, needs doing still. I have one complaint to make at present. Throughout every city, town and village in this country, we have active branches of the Anglo-Russian Friendship Society. I want to make that a two-way traffic. I want to know what Russia is doing in Russia to make known our ways of life and thought and the fact of British good will. What is the Government doing to persuade Russia to undertake that task? We have "Our Ally," which is totally inadequate. It is quite a good journal and reaches a certain number of people, but it has no effect whatever on the general good will which should exist between our two great nations.
I ask that the Prime Minister, when he sees the President, will ask him to reconsider some of the indications of American policy which he has given in these 12 points, and to persuade him that those 12 points, even backed by the atomic bomb, will not bring that permanent security that the world is waiting for today. I wish the Prime Minister Godspeed. He has got responsibility and opportunity now, and the chance of a lifetime, and I pray God that he will use it rightly and successfully.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Dr. Jeger (St. Pancras, South-East)
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am very grateful to you, after what seems like a 40 years' wait on these benches, for allowing me to enter the promised land of a maiden speech. Had I been as diffident in my constituency as I feel now I do not suppose I should have been here to make this speech.
I could not help admiring the way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) managed to progress from the disquiet with which he opened his remarks, to the complete satisfaction with President Truman's policy and speech which he 1367 expressed at the end of his discourse. A few weeks ago the right hon. Gentleman was talking here about demobilisation, and I remember that he then said that the coming of the atomic bomb ought to have speeded up demobilisation almost a hundredfold. Yet today he said that he agreed with the remarks of President Truman to the effect that a very large navy and a very large army are still necessary in this troubled world. I want to deal with President Truman's Twelve Points. I know many hon. Members who have preceded me have already spoken about them, but at the risk of repetition may I say that I consider that the speech of President Truman showed a marked degree of abstraction; like most good statesmanlike utterances, it was capable of various interpretations and misinterpretations. At best, I consider it was an example of a genuine high-minded idealism combined with complete inability to give that idealism a single concrete application, and, at worst, I cannot do better than quote the analysis of a Russian commentator to the effect that:Of the Twelve Points, seven were directed against the Soviet Union, and one was directed against the British Empire.Let me quote some of the points, one or two of which have been mentioned before. We were told that the United States seeks no territory. How does that square with the statement that there should be various bases which the United States should take over as necessary for her protection? President Truman almost denounced spheres of influence, and yet went on to demand for the Western hemisphere complete solidarity without interference from outside that hemisphere. He talked about the economic co-operation between the United States and the rest of the world, but we have only to recall how quickly the Lend-Lease plan was brought to an end the moment hostilities finished. We can recall, too, how in the United States they have demonstrated their economic strength so well that they have done away with their rationing system while a good deal of Europe is starving. They are going to maintain the largest navy in the world, and General Marshall has seconded President Truman's remarks by saying that they will maintain a very large army too. Now this talk of the largest navy in the world strikes a very 1368 familiar note with me. I can remember having been brought up on talk about the two-Power naval standard, and I seem to remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford was very largely responsible for maintaining that standard in days gone by. You cannot build up any sort of permanent policy on any temporary superiority, because the two-Power naval standard of the British Empire is gone and the other naval and military superiorities are likely to go in the same way.
President Truman wants to retain the secret of the atomic bomb in the United States as a "sacred trust." He wants everyone to trust the United States, but the United States is to trust nobody. This strikes me as being a very naive assumption and, if I dare to say so, a very unctuous assumption. This secret belongs to America for the moment, but how long will it remain her secret? I read a report in a paper the other day which said that Sweden already knew how to manufacture the atomic bomb. We know how the Soviet scientists are speeding up their researches in the Urals; we know how they are maintaining their army and air force at a high level, spending a large proportion of their national wealth on armaments. Russia is suspicious about everything; she blows hot and cold about co-operation, and she is preparing her cordon sanitaire. That was applied to her in the last war largely by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford. We remember how that cordon sanitaire was prepared, and now Russia is preparing her cordon sanitaire in reverse. Then I read a report in a newspaper recently that Poland was financing her atomic bomb research very heavily—these poor Poles who can always be guaranteed to secure the greatest possible trouble for themselves in any situation. Soon anybody will be able to make an atomic bomb in a back kitchen, and then where is the monopoly going to be? I think it is a mistake to imagine that we have several years ahead of us in which to prepare. I do not think we have several years. I think the march of science is a very rapid one. It begins slowly, then it speeds up, and then it overtakes events, almost like a volcanic eruption. Do not let us deceive ourselves, and do not let us go on drifting into another mess, which is what we are doing now. We are in the preliminary 1369 stages of a new armaments race and, if the disaster comes, there will not be any exemption in the world.
Hon. Members will remember how a few days ago we were discussing a Civil Defence Bill. We are not completely destroying our civil defences; we are maintaining our civil defences and considering new forms of civil defence against bomb attacks. Against whom are we preparing them? From whom is this danger feared? It seems to me that, if there is to be a great war between East and West, through a combination of atomic bomb and rocket we shall be largely in the position that Palestine has been in throughout history. Palestine has been trampled on from West to East, and from East to West by great armies, always being the cock-pit. It is quite likely that we may be the cock-pit in a future struggle between a great power in the East and a great power in the West, and we are particularly vulnerable, whether we take part in that struggle or not.
I can see only two plans for us to follow. One is to try to persuade The United States to disclose her secrets for manufacturing the atomic bomb. The other plan—which gives the only justification for holding the bomb secret back—is to use it as a bargaining counter to enforce the establishment of the nucleus of a world government to which it will be disclosed. The forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister to the United States shows a great deal of psychological in sight. It is a much more vital event than the visits of previous Prime Ministers to foreign parts for the purpose of coming to some sort of settlement. I hope that the Prime Minister will offer to throw into the common pool, when he meets President Truman, a modification of national sovereignty for this one purpose only, as a beginning—a modification which will mean participation in a single world state which shall alone possess in the future the means of coercion.
I would like to see Russia invited to help to draw up the very first draft of this new world Government. That would be a means of destroying her suspicions. This kind of situation has arisen before. I recall the time when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford made his offer to France. That was one of the bright spots in a long series of 1370 very bright spots. The offer he made to France was one of common citizenship and of common Government, united economically and militarily. If that could be done then, why cannot the same idea be carried a stage further, and thrown open to the whole world? I believe that public opinion is ripe for some action on these lines. If we can settle that problem we shall be able to concentrate on the use of atomic energy for lightening the toil, the poverty, and the burdens of mankind.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Lieutenant Herbert Hughes (Wolverhampton, West)
I rise in the long succession of those who have craved the indulgence of the House when making their first Parliamentary declaration, and I hope that that indulgence will be extended to me. My justification for rising tonight is that during the late campaign, I did at one time fight side by side with the Americans, and I also had the opportunity of meeting the Red Army on the shores of the Baltic. Without transgressing on the usual limits of a maiden speech, I must say that I, in common with others on this side, do not share the enthusiasm, almost, of the Leader of the Opposition at the prospect of the atomic bomb remaining under the control of one Power or any group of great Powers. I say that with no disrespect to the United States. Even if our own country had complete control of the bomb, I should not in the least be happy about the position.
The problem facing the peoples of the world is too great for any one nation, or group of nations, to tackle alone. We shall sink or swim according to the degree in which we are successful in bringing in all nations to participate in the control of this bomb and its use. Let us imagine what the situation would be if the boot were on the other foot, and that instead of the atomic bomb being in the United States it were housed somewhere in the centre of the Urals. I can imagine the degree of eloquence with which Members opposite would urge that the atomic bomb be put at the disposal of the United Nations. It is no policy to say that because, in the past, Russia has not agreed to the exchange of scientific information she should not have some say in the control of the atomic bomb. If Russia had control of the bomb we would urge, on this side, that she be brought 1371 into the pool. Are we now to take a different line because we are in a more fortunate position? The policy we are pursuing at the moment seems to be getting the worst of both possible worlds. We are disputing how much lead the United States has, whether it has six months, as Professor Oliphant says, or four years, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) says. But that is not the point. The point is that partial control of the atomic bomb by a group of nations is having a terrible effect on the hopes of bringing the three great Powers together. Every day that we retain a special position in relation to the bomb we are intensifying the psychological complex from which, as it seems to some of us, the Soviet Union is now suffering.
We remember that before the war problems of international organisation and security were vitiated by the fact that the leaders of the great Western Powers cold-shouldered the Soviet Union. Are we going to commit those mistakes a second time? I have no wish to defend for one moment the policy which the Soviet Union is now pursuing in Western Europe, a policy of bastion defence and spheres of influence, a policy somewhat similar to that underlying the recent speech of the President of the United States of America. The President's speech was not merely a restatement of twelve general principles; it was, first, that there should be a Western hemisphere block and, secondly, it contained the big stick that was to be waggled behind those general principles. His call for the biggest navy in the world, strong air power, conscription and bases seemed to suggest that we were near the old cry: "We don't want to fight, but by Jingo if we do …"As I say, I am not defending Russian power policy, and spheres of influence; neither am I defending American power policy and spheres of influence.
We in this country have a chance to play a great part in international affairs, but if we follow the line which has been advocated by many speakers opposite to night we shall throw away that chance. The policy of saying "Let us throw away our independent position, let us ally ourselves more closely with one of these power complexes rather than with another," is absolutely fatal. The strength of this country in international affairs today depends on the fact that we stand be- 1372 tween two other great Powers, and that we can, if we retain our independence, have a tremendous influence in bringing them together. Once we discriminate, our influence is lost.
The atom bomb could have been an immense power for good. It could have blasted all the nations of the world out of their narrow parochialism and the petty issues which are embroiling foreign affairs today. We must try, before it is too late, to see that that actually happens. The scientists have been criticised for arrogating to themselves the powers of government. It is said that that is not in their sphere. But the scientists, at the moment, are giving a lead to the statesmen, and I hope statesmen in all countries will be big enough to take advantage of that lead. Public opinion, not only here, but in America, has also given a lead. Conferences have been held in America criticising the President's policy, and saying that the atomic bomb is a justification not only for putting all our power behind the United Nations but for going even further than the United Nations. I am sure that if the Prime Minister, when he goes to America, says that we must solve the problem of getting the atomic bomb out of the control of the small group into the hands of the representatives of the world as a whole, he will be speaking for the common sense of the people of this country and America as well.
The Foreign Secretary has rightly stressed the importance to the peace of the world of economic planning and solving our present deadlocks; but until the problem of the atom bomb is solved, it seems to me that we shall not be able to get those Powers, which regard themselves as excluded, to come in on equal terms to face this real problem of world economic planning. The Foreign Secretary said that the whole problem is one of confidence. With that I profoundly agree. Anyone who has read the Soviet Foreign Minister's speech, reported in the Press this morning, cannot fail to realise that this problem of confidence is directly related to the control of the atom bomb. The Soviet Foreign Minister has said, to the accompaniment of cheers which lasted, it is reported, for several minutes:We, too, soon, shall have atomic energy.The whole basis of that speech was this: "We in the Soviet Union are being shut 1373 out, and our response to that is to go ahead on our own." There are only two choices before the world: either we solve this problem of getting the atomic bomb under international control, or we are going to get ourselves, if we have not already got ourselves, into the wildest and maddest armaments race that this world has ever known. If we do slip into that, where will this country be? When we have lost the six months or four years lead, we in this country cannot hope to compete in a race of that kind with either the United States or the Soviet Union. One hon. Member on the other side said that he hoped we would look to Washington. We have not to look to Washington; we have not to look to Moscow. The only hope for this country is to look to the new United Nations Organisation, and to place under that Organisation the fullest possible technical control of the atom bomb, and get the broadest possible exchange of scientific information.' If we can do that, there is still hope that our sons will not have to go through the horrors that this world has just been through.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
I am sure the House would wish me to offer our very warm and sincere congratulations to the hon. Member for South East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger) and the hon. and gallant Member for Wolverhampton West (Lieutenant Hughes) on the maiden speeches to which we have just listened. We listened to them with very great interest indeed. We hope that they will speak again, and often, and that as time goes by we may reach agreement on foreign policy so that we can speak in common for our country, and that in matters of home policy we, on this side, may find worthy adversaries with whom to cross swords in the future.
The Debate has shown a great measure of common agreement throughout the whole of the House. There was a slight undercurrent from one or two speakers who tended to criticise, in small respects, the speech made by President Truman. I am not with them. This tendency was typified by the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), and I refer to his speech especially, because his was not a maiden speech. I feel that in trying to find small inconsistencies in the speech of the Presi- 1374 dent of the United States, they were merely doing what people at the Bar call "special pleading." After all, when one comes to examine, sentence by sentence, the speech of anyone in this House one is bound to find small inconsistencies. What really matters is the spirit behind the speech. I believe that in the speech of the American President the spirit there was right, and we should welcome his determination that the United States is now going to play a part in world affairs worthy of a great and powerful nation. We have this in common with the United States: neither of us seeks any gain for ourselves in this postwar settlement. As far as world leadership is concerned, we ourselves have held it for a long time. We do not seek the whole stage for ourselves, and it is a thing which we are delighted to share with all the responsible nations of the world. I regard this as being very important, for with leadership come responsibilities. We welcome America especially. The President's 12 points, to my mind, show that fundamentally we do think alike. On the first eleven, we would find very little difference with the President at all. Perhaps, here and there, we might like to suggest some slight Amendments; but the one thing that stands out to my mind is the twelfth point, which is by far the most important. He said:We are convinced that the preservation of peace between nations requires a United Nations Organisation composed of all the peace-loving nations of the world who are willing jointly to use force if necessary to ensure peace.I repeat "who are willing jointly to use force if necessary to ensure peace." That was not just an isolated statement, because the President backed that up, a little later, when he reviewed the American military scene, and said they had four military tasks. The second one was, he said, that they must have forces sufficiently large to maintain lasting peace in the world, if necessary by force. His sincerity is proved clearly, I think, by the fact that, at almost the same moment, he went to the American people and said to them that for the postwar years they must have conscription in the United States. I think that that shows that America means business. What a great and wonderful contrast that is to the difficulties we had after the last war, when America would not join with us in 1375 the League of Nations, and refused to accept the principle that military sanctions were the ultimate means necessary to maintain peace. I believe that the failures of the past can and will be avoided. The United States in the height of its military power, and the fullness of its political maturity, is going to do unbounded good for the world by playing a real part in world affairs. I think that we should make clear to the United States that we are prepared to accept the same commitments as they are prepared to accept, and support a United Nations Organisation which has behind it the ultimate sanction of force; that we will maintain our own forces big enough to keep our pledges, and that we will consider an equal measure of conscription with them so that our forces are kept at a sufficiently high level.
There has been considerable discussion about the atom bomb this afternoon. One thing which has stood out abundantly clear is that the coming of this new and terrible weapon makes it more than ever vital that we should achieve agreement among the nations of the world. It was Mr. Wendel Willkie, that great American statesman, who pointed out that we ultimately would have to be so much together that there would be one world. We can be quite sure, in view of the atom bomb, that we have the choice of one world or none. On the decisions being taken now the fate of the world is going to hang. My own view is that ultimately the atom bomb should come under the control of the Council of the United Nations Organisation. I do not believe we can scatter it far and wide among the various nations of the world, like so much confetti. I do not like weapons of this kind to be in every one's hands. A great English poet said:How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds, Makes ill deeds done.I would prefer the weapon not to be in the hands of the whole of the nations of the world. When we do give away these secrets, we want to be abundantly clear that we are not putting this weapon into the hands of any one who might be a potential aggressor in any part of the world. I believe that, for the moment, we should hold this secret as trustees of the United Nations Organisation, making it quite clear that when the time became 1376 ripe this weapon would be put in the sole hands of, what we might call, a world security police force.
We need have no fear of the United States. It is known as a great peace-loving nation. In the matter of the atomic bomb, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said this afternoon, America has been most generous, the President having made it clear that there were three partners, the United States, Great Britain and Canada. We know it is in the hands of our natural friends and our partners. It has been my privilege for about four years, in the course of my Service duty in this war, to work with our American friends. I know them well, I know their country, and it gave me great pleasure during the war to see the vigour and energy of their work, and to share with them their play, and to receive something of the great warmth of friendship which only Americans can show for this country. In those years we showed how we could work together. It was shown by our Air Forces when I was in Italy, because I was serving on a Combined Staff there, British and American. The only thing that mattered was who was the man doing the job. The Commander-in-Chief would never say, "Are you an American, wearing brown?" or "Are you British, wearing blue?" Every man was one of a combined team. We proved that we could work together.
We want to keep that same spirit right through the years of peace. As the President warned us, it has unfortunately been proved after past wars that the unity among allies, forged by their common peril, tended to break down as the danger passed. We should re-echo that time and time again, and say that we are with the American President in sincerely wishing for continued co-operation, and that we shall all do our best to see that whatever happens after the war there shall be no slow disintegration of our true wartime friendship. Rather it should be developed. I believe it can be developed, as has been shown by things that have been said in this House today, particularly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford, and in the fine speech of the Foreign Secretary. On both sides of the House we have displayed good will and shown that we intend to strive hard to try to develop this Anglo-American 1377 friendship. It is not so easy at all times, because building peace requires just as much stamina as waging war. The tasks of building peace are painstaking and often laborious, they are long-term, they do not have the same dramatic appeal.
Above all, I want this wartime collaboration to continue. One of the finest pieces of collaboration between nations that there has ever been was shown during this war, when our country and the United States had in Washington what we call the combined Chiefs of Staff. They, our military leaders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, sat round a common table day after day, and discussed their problems. They were able to do it without the light of publicity glaring down on them, without other people waiting on every meeting for decisions and being disappointed, and thinking that if they did not get a decision on Monday instead of Tuesday that it was the end of the world.
I hope that when the Prime Minister goes to America he will talk about the possibility of continuing the combined Chiefs of Staff throughout the years of peace. It could only do good. Perhaps he might go even further, and see if he cannot try to do something rather similar in the field of foreign policy and economic policy. If we can work with the men in the machine from top to bottom knowing their opposite numbers, talking to them without publicity, I believe that we might get together in a way we have never been before. I remember in the autumn of 1944, when I was in uniform in Washington for a short period. I was walking down a street one Sunday morning when an American whom I did not know approached me, and said, "We have suffered a great loss." I did not know what he was talking about. He said, "The Marshal was a wonderful man." I realised that only the day before Field Marshal Sir John Dill, our representative there, had died, and I then understood what the American was talking about. The stranger said, "As your representative on the combined Chiefs of Staff he was so close to us, he was loved by us and he was one of us. He was one of the common team." I heard that kind of remark so often. I want to see that spirit continued.
I feel that the visit of the Prime Minister to the United States is most timely. Following the breakdown of the 1378 London Conference, there has been something of a vacuum in world affairs. It is our sincere hope that our Prime Minister shall be the bridge over which the nations at opposite ends of the earth can get together, so that we can have a really solid friendship between the United States, Great Britain and Russia. We wish the Prime Minister well in his discussions on world affairs whole in America. We hope that he will take the opportunity to speak for Britain, and that he will be able to bring about the successful conclusion of the negotiations we are now having with the United States, arising out of Mutual Aid. I do not think that Members of this House who have really studied the problem could have been very surprised when Lend-Lease came to an end, because if they had followed the discussions in the Congress of the United States they would have known that when that programme was passed some years ago, a definite pledge was given by the Administration that it would last only for the duration of the war, and would then come to an end. Obviously we require to have further discussions.
During the Parliamentary Recess I spent some little time in the United States. As a Member of the Opposition I knew nothing of the inside of these discussions, but it was abundantly clear, from the American Press and the words their citizens used in their conversations that Lord Halifax and Lord Keynes were doing a very good job for our country. They were helping to interpret us to the people of America. I hope that while the Prime Minister is over there he will have a look at our Information Services, and see how we can help those people in the British Library of Information who, handicapped by lack of money and staff, are doing a very good job in the United States of America. It is plain, from the speeches on all sides of the House, that when the Prime Minister goes over there he speaks for Britain, he speaks for all of us, not as the leader of only one Party in the House. It is our united wish that he may achieve something of that political understanding and warm personal friendship which undoubtedly existed between the ex-Prime Minister and the late President of the United States. We wish our Prime Minister success in a most difficult task in interpreting Britain to the President and people of the United States.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Morris (Swansea, West)
In rising at this late hour I feel I ought to apologise doubly, especially in view of the fact that I have to crave the indulgence which the House so generously affords to Members who are making their maiden speeches. The general tenor of the Debate to-day makes me feel that we are seeking ways and means of adjusting ourselves to the new conditions caused by the discovery of the atomic bomb. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will think of it in another direction as well. I hope he will not close his mind to the suggestion that we should discard the atomic bomb altogether, and that in fact we should strive to discover the best ways and means of using atomic power for the benefit of the country in every possible way rather than think of it as a weapon of war. I must confess that when I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) say this afternoon that we should make the bomb and store it, I had a sinking feeling. I represent a very badly blitzed town, and I have an intimate knowledge of the devastation and the desolation caused, not by the atomic bomb, but by what one would term a mere 1,000 or 2,000 lb. bomb. If the common man, reading the newspaper to-morrow, discovers that one of the principal suggestions emanating from the Opposition is that we should make these atomic bombs and store them, he will have very great doubts, indeed, whether the last war was fought and won and whether the cost was really worth while. Cannot we cultivate the habit of speaking of atomic power more often than of the atomic bomb? It is a tragedy of the age that even the adolescents and children speak of atomic bombs as if they were mere playthings, whereas we know, from painful experience, that they can bring us the greatest tragedy of all. Listening to the right hon. Gentleman for Woodford I recalled very readily the words that Kipling, I think, wrote some time ago:Nations have passed away and left no traces. History gives the naked cause of it. One simple, single reason, in all cases They fell because their people were not fit.We have to have a new attitude of mind in this problem, and I hope and pray that the Prime Minister, when he meets President Truman, will seek ways and means 1380 of persuading the people of America, and indeed the people of Russia, too, that the atomic bomb ought to be completely discarded. Unfortunately, we cannot forget it. Sir Lawrence Bragge, in a memorable broadcast early last year, I think it was, said that for a single issue the atomic bomb represented the greatest integration of brain effort that history can show us. The President of the Royal Society expressed the view that he was sorry that, in the stress of war, science had had to be a conscript, and that the fruits of scientific research had had to be used for destruction rather than for the healing and the health of the nation. I think the scientists of today hope for the time when they can apply their research knowledge in the same may as Mme. Curie applied her discovery of radium. When we encourage the scientist and give him free scope to engage in his research in order to bring about happiness, prosperity, health and healing then we shall, I feel, get the very best from him.
During the years 1939–45 this House did a great work, and I know it is very much to its credit that mere sentiment and cheap emotion make no appeal to it. But, surely, that does not mean that we are unmindful of the growing anxiety in the hearts of men and women today on account of the further threat of war as a result of the discovery of the atomic bomb. It does not mean that because we want to approach these problems dispassionately, and apply all sorts of thought to the solution of them that we have no feeling, no heart as it were, for the people who are wondering what the future holds for them. I know we preferThe even heart that seldom slurs its beat, The cool head that weighs the heart's desires. The seeing eye that measures hands and feet, The soul unbroken, when the body tires.These are the things the modern world requires. The mood of the people is such as I have said. I speak on behalf of people who have passed through terrible experiences during the last war, and who are hoping, and praying, that the Prime Minister, the President of the United States and Premier Stalin, those three people, will lead the world in bringing about the outlawing of war completely, and that we shall return to the ways of peace not on a temporary, but on a permanent, basis. I hope that when the 1381 Prime Minister returns he will be able to report progress in the direction indicated.
We have listened to statements from leaders on both sides of the House, but the number of speeches delivered, and the points of view expressed, in this Chamber must convince all that have authority and power that the common people are yearning for peace, and are prepared to sacrifice for peace, but if it means that we are just engaging in another mad race of armament, then they will feel that life is entirely in vain. I join with others in wishing the Prime Minister every success. We trust the lesson will rest upon him and that the people of America, Russia and Great Britain will make it abundantly clear to their leaders that we seek peace and not war, and that we want the fruits of science for the health of the nation, and the resources of the earth used in such a way that life will be a healthy and happy experience once again.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Captain George Jeger (Winchester)
Much has been said this afternoon about the atom bomb, and its shadow may be said to have descended upon the whole of this evening's proceedings. Indeed, its shadow now spreads over the whole world, but, at the same time, life goes on in that shadow, and life will continue to go on. When our Prime Minister goes to America, his discussion will range not only over the subjects of atomic energy and the atomic bomb, but over a much wider area. Because of that, I seek in my intervention into this Debate to narrow this subject down to something on a smaller scale. Whilst agreement is always easy on general principles, international conferences and meetings of the Big Three have, in the past, proved that the test really comes on the translation of those general principles into actualities and hard facts, and transferring them into practical measures in the international field. I want to ask the Prime Minister, when he is discussing matters with the President of the United States, to pay attention to a point on which agreement has been reached between them, if not by speaking man to man, then in pronouncements made in this House and in the equivalent House in America, and pronouncements on which have been made by representatives of people in both countries. I refer to the question of Spain.
1382 Agreement has been reached between peoples of all democratic nations on the detestation and hatred of the present situation in Spain. Agreement has been reached between the leaders of both sides of this House on that question too, and, even in this Parliament, the character of which has changed completely during the last few months, there are very few indeed who are willing to avow themselves as the friends of Franco.
There is no need at this stage to argue the case against the present régime in Spain, nor to emphasise how the existence of this Nazi and Fascist hide-out must be a menace to democracy and peace all over the world. In my constituency of Winchester, several years ago, we had the honour and privilege of welcoming and extending hospitality to 4,000 Basque children brought over to this country as the first mass evacuation of refugees from a Fascist-invaded country, refugees from Fascist aggression and the indiscriminate bombing of civilians. We, and the rest of Europe, later experienced that suffering ourselves, and in the various districts of my constituency, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Southampton which extended that hospitality proudly and generously to those child refugees, they are watching the conduct of Spain, because their sympathy is still keen and alive on that subject, and they hope that this House will very soon do something about it. President Truman, in the course of his 12 points to which reference has been made, did deal with the subject on which I am now speaking. Point 2 says:We believe in the eventual return of sovereign rights and self-government to all peoples who have been deprived of them by force.Point 4 says:Al1 peoples who are prepared for self-government should be permitted to choose their own form of government by their own freely expressed choice.Point 5 says:We shall try to attain a world in which Nazism, Fascism and military aggression cannot exist.Point 6 says:We shall refuse to recognise any government imposed on any nation by force by any foreign power.I submit that all this applies definitely to the present régime in Spain, and on that basis joint action of a speedy character can be taken in full co-operation between 1383 our Government and that of the United State. Action can be taken on the diplomatic field by demanding the release of political prisoners from the camps and prisons in Spain which are very like those which existed in Nazi Germany before our acts of liberation, and also by taking care to see that those who are classed as criminal prisoners in Spain are not there really on political grounds and falsely classed as criminals. We can demand free elections in Spain, and we can withdraw our recognition of the Franco Government and establish diplomatic relations with the Cortes at present meeting in Mexico, encouraging it in exactly the same way as we did the De Gaulle Government which was set up outside the territory of France. We can take action jointly in full co-operation on the economic too, by severing trade relations and by refusing to bolster up foreign trade with Franco Spain. A few days ago I was amazed to see that petrol was being shipped into Spain in larger quantities—petrol which was going to allow the petrol ration of individuals in Spain to be increased, while we in this country are going short of petrol for essential needs. That is a matter on which I would like our Government to take action, and in full co-operation with the American Government action can be taken.
During the years immediately preceding the late war we contracted a number of "debts of honour" in various countries in international affairs. We stood aloof while China, Abyssinia, Czechoslovakia and Spain suffered from Nazi and Fascist aggression, and we bear a heavy responsibility for those days. All those claims and burdens on our conscience are now cleared in China, Czechoslovakia and Abyssinia, but not yet in Spain, and we have now the opportunity of clearing our conscience on that last final bastion of Fascism in Europe. I am well aware of the sympathy of His Majesty's Government on this question, which has been expressed over and over again, but sympathy is not enough, and the time has now come when action is needed to bring freedom to the remaining victims of Fascism in Europe. There Fascism was being fought, while Members of this House and other people in this country and other countries were being deluded by the menace of Fascism, thinking it 1384 was friendly to the interests of democracy and of this country, and allowing themselves to be led astray by those beliefs. Those days have passed, and I hope that very soon, as a result of an agreement between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States, Franco Spain will pass too.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Major Digby (Dorset, Western)
It is my pleasant duty to congratulate the two maiden speakers who have just spoken, the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. P. Morris) and the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Captain Jeger). I think we all agree that both discharged their difficult duties extremely well. They produced some original ideas, and we shall look forward to hearing them in our Debates many times in the future.
In this Debate, it seems to me that some speakers have struck a note suggesting that there might be something inconsistent between advocating closer relations with the United States of America, and the continuation of any close relations with Russia. I, for my part, wish to make it absolutely clear that no such thought is in my mind, and if I am to devote myself in my speech to the subject of America, that is because of the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister. At the same time, I would not wish that anything I say to be taken as meaning that I am less in favour of friendship with Russia. I was somewhat heartened by the very excellent speech which we heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. When I came here this evening I could not help casting my mind back to the day three months ago when we were debating the Charter of the United Nations, and I reflected that in those three months international relations can hardly be said to have developed for the better. In fact, I think many would feel that it has deteriorated. But the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary has reminded us of the difficulties which always succeed a war. Those difficulties have always been there.
I believe it was the poet Dryden who said that "even victors oft are by victories undone." That is very true. After a great victory such as we have enjoyed, there is always a period when it is difficult for us to pull together, as we have done in the face of the common enemy. That is why I am very glad that 1385 the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is going to the United States of America to discuss some of these outstanding problems with the President. I am very glad that he is going to the United States because, owing to the course which the war took, we have worked in very close partnership with that country. It is a country which I have the privilege of knowing well. I have the privilege of having worked under Americans and, like other hon. and gallant Members who have spoken, I have had the privilege of serving on a combined Anglo-American staff, and seeing how it is possible for the representatives of the two countries to work together as one team. I should like to endorse what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for South Blackpool (Wing-Commander R. Robinson) when he said that this combined machinery which had been built up should not be too lightly cast away. It seems to some of us that S.H.A.E.F. was scrapped too soon. We still have the combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington working together in the spirit of the greatest frankness. It would be a very great pity if that machinery were scrapped too soon, because it is, after all, a concrete step in international co-operation. It could be said with truth that distrust is the cause of most wars, but let me say at once that in the case of the United States of America I cannot see that we have anything but the greatest reasons for showing trust and confidence. We know from her past actions how close she is to our ideas, and there is no country which I would sooner trust in possession of great power, such as she has attained during the course of the war, than the United States of America.
It has been fashionable tonight to talk a lot about the atomic bomb. I do not propose to do so because I am no expert on the subject, and because, unlike many hon. Members, I have not very set views on the subject. One thing which has surprised me is that more distinction has not been drawn between the idea of atomic energy as something which can be used in peace and the atomic bomb, which is merely a method of destruction in war; and whereas I am sure that all nations should have the benefit of atomic energy for the purposes of peace it seems to me that the atomic bomb, for the purposes of war, is one of those secrets which one would wish to be very careful about 1386 divulging. It is a great military secret, like the secret about D-Day, which few would wish to enjoy unless they had to bear the responsibility of it.
I should like to go on to the Twelve Points which President Truman announced not long ago. As the authoritative pronouncement of the head of a great people I think they are very satisfactory and should be welcomed by the people of this country. In the past we have suffered a great deal because America was not willing to playa larger part in the affairs of the rest of the world. The League of Nations might have been more successful had the United States stayed0in after the inaugural period. [An Hon. Member: "Come in."] Indeed, Mr. Walter Lippmann, in a very excellent work which he wrote upon United States foreign policy which appeared about two years ago, went so far as to say:We must face the fact that for nearly 50 years the nation has not had a settled and generally accepted foreign policy.It is certainly in the interests of the world that America should take the greatest possible interest in the affairs of the whole world and of the United Nations. I would welcome those Twelve Points as an indication that America proposes to do more to shoulder her great international responsibilities than she has always felt willing to do in the past
In connection with the Twelve Points I should like to direct attention towards a part of the world which has not been mentioned tonight, but which, I think, is of very great importance, and that is the Pacific area, the Far East. When we speak of the Far East we know that the future of that part of the world revolves very largely round China. Every one of us would be willing, I think, to accept the first of President Truman's points, in which he said that the United States seeks no territorial expansion or selfish advantages. We should be willing to accept that, and we can examine it in relation to the position in the Far East, because there American Forces are very predominant, in a part of the world where, before the war, this country had the greatest share of trade, and we can apply this term "Selfish advantages" to the question of trade. In his book "The Far Eastern Crisis"—about the Manchurian position—Mr. Stimson said that, in his relations with 1387 other countries about the Far East, although there were other countries which had larger share of commerce there than had the United States, none of them really had quite such a keen interest in that part of the world as the United States, owing to their geographical proximity. None would be quicker to realise that than would I and hon. Gentlemen in this House. At the same time we have to remember that we did have a large share of the trade of that part of the world. I hope that the question of the future of the Pacific area will be discussed at those talks. It is of the greatest interest not only to the mother country but to Australia and New Zealand, and even to Canada.
I should like to say once again how glad I am that the Prime Minister is going across to see President Truman. I very much hope that something will come out of this to improve international relations, to draw us more closely together and in particular to put more lifeblood into the United Nations. I hope that British interests in the broadest sense, particularly in the Pacific, will not be lost sight of. The right hon. Gentleman is going to a country which has, in the course of the war, become the most powerful of the English-speaking countries, in industry and in arms and it is already by far the greatest in population. I hope that when he is there and talks to the Americans about these problems, the right hon. Gentleman will not hesitate to use plain English.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, Western)
When the predecessor of the present Foreign Secretary came down to this House last year with a 20-year Alliance with the Soviet Union there was general agreement that such an Alliance with increasing friendship with Russia was the hope of this country and of Europe for peace and security; but any visitor from another planet coming to this country today, reading certain sections of the Press and listening to speeches in this House might be excused for believing that Soviet Russia was the country with which we had been at war for the past five years. [Hon. Members: "Nonsense."] Never has an opportunity been missed for publishing the most outrageous distortions and even direct lies. Last night in this 1388 House we had a tremendous barrage against the Soviet Union about some mythical masses of Germans who were coming out of the Russian zone and into the British zone. Not a word of truth in it. The most rabid speeches were made by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and others. The other day we had the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd)—and the stuff he was pouring out. What poison. Most ghastly stuff. Yes, anyone can read it in various sections of the Press, and hear in many of the speeches.
Now, of course, the real man is coming out on the other side: "We don't need the Soviet Alliance now to safeguard the future for us." The atomic bomb will safeguard the future of Britain, as hon. Members on the other side see it. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) made a speech this afternoon of the most dangerous character—[Laughter.] Yes, a speech that was a declaration, or the hope of a declaration, of war against the progressive forces of Europe and the world. [Hon. Members: "Nonsense."] Oh, yes. It is "America, America." A Member on the other side said that in this country we have freedom of expression, that in America there is freedom of expression, but he was sorry to say that in Russia there was not the same freedom. [An Hon. Member: "That is true."] In Russia there is a whole series of nations, black and white, and every man has freedom of expression. [Interruption.] Yes, every one who has visited Russia and has studied Russia agrees that there is democracy in the industries of the Soviet Union. [An Hon. Member: "What about the newspapers?"] The whole basis upon which the Soviet economy is built is democracy in industry. You will not find any democracy in industry in this country.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I am prepared to take my stand with the workers of the Soviet Union. I have always been proud of them as being the first to throw off the landlords. [Interruption.] Yes, the first to throw off the landlords and capitalists. That is something that should always be remembered. You can search Soviet Russia from one end to the other and 1389 you will not find a Tory landlord. You can search Russia from end to end and you will not find a monopoly capitalist. In America there are millions of negroes; will anyone tell me that they have got freedom of expression?
§ Mr. Gallacher
I can bring an abundance of proof, not only that they have not got freedom of expression but that in thousands and hundreds of thousands of cases they are prevented from having a vote. Mr. Byrnes, the American Secretary of State, represents only the very smallest percentage of his State. Is there free expression of opinion in India? There are thousands of political prisoners in India to-day. It is ghastly hypocrisy and cant to talk of free expression in this country and in America. What is the cause of all this trouble about the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia and the rest? We intervened in Greece, and I will guarantee that when the Under-Secretary goes to Greece he will find the landlords in possession of the land, but if he goes to Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Hungary, he will find that the landlords have gone. On the radio two weeks ago we were told by a commentator that it was impossible to set up a single administration for the whole of Germany, because of the different policies in the different zones. We are told that the Germans are very fond of us, we are so decent, we are so honest. I have never heard so much boasting as there was in the Debate last Friday. Talk about the Pharisee and the publican! "If only others would be as decent as we are," they say. They tell us on the radio that in the Soviet zone a great land reform is being carried on. Are there any East Prussian Junkers left in the Soviet zone? Not one.
They are all in the British or American zones. Their estates have all been taken over and divided up among the peasants. [An HON. MEMBER: "Robbery."] Yes, that is what is considered as robbery by hon. Members opposite. They want to keep the peasants in poverty and misery and the East Prussian junkers in idle 1390 luxury, building up armies to conquer here and conquer there— It being a quarter past Nine o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Captain Blenkinsop.]
§ Mr. Gallacher rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) must remember that the last half hour is given to Private Members, and as the hon. Member did not finish his speech at a quarter past nine, he cannot talk any longer on the previous subject of debate.