§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
In addressing the House this afternoon, I am speaking in the third Legislative Chamber in ten days. On Tuesday, 13th November, I had the honour of addressing a Joint Session of Congress at Washington, and on Monday last I had the privilege of speaking to the two Houses of the Canadian Parliament at Ottawa. I am speaking in this Debate on foreign affairs because I think it right to take the earliest opportunity of giving the House some account of my visit to the United States and Canada, and to amplify, in some degree, the Joint Declaration which was made by President Truman, the Prime Minister of Canada and myself on the subject of atomic energy.
I also sought an early occasion for Members of this House to express their views. It will, I am sure, be realised that I have not had very much time to prepare myself since landing on Tuesday night, and I therefore do not propose to range over the large number of topics which may properly be raised in a Debate on foreign affairs, but rather to confine myself to the main subjects of the discussions which I had across the Atlantic, la doing so, I should make it clear, however, that the Government have no desire or expectation that this Debate should be restricted to these topics, and the Foreign Secretary, who dealt more at large with foreign affairs a fortnight ago, will be speaking tomorrow, and will reply to this Debate.
I would like to say a word here about the circumstances which gave rise to this visit. Towards the end of September last, I made known to the President my view of the vital importance to the world of the discovery of atomic energy, and that its application to warfare made it essential 602 that those in responsible positions, in the three countries under whose auspices this development had taken place, should consider the problems to which it had given rise, and the implications which the emergence of this weapon has on the endeavours we are all making to banish war from the world. In conveying to him the tentative conclusions at which the Government had arrived, I suggested that personal discussion might follow, and in October I received an invitation from President Truman to go to Washington to discuss the whole matter with him and the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King. The latter, as the House-knows, had been over here on a visit, and I had the advantage of exchanging views with him.
I left London by air on Friday afternoon after the Guildhall luncheon, and I reached the White House in time for breakfast next morning. I was very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), whose knowledge of the whole subject and of the circumstances attending our work with the Americans and Canadians in the research on atomic energy, is so great, for being so good as to accompany me. His knowledge and advice and help at all times were invaluable, and I am greatly indebted to him. During my stay in Washington I was most kindly entertained by the President and the Secretary of State, and had numerous opportunities of meetings with Members of the Government, Senators, Congressmen and other leading figures in the political world. From the day of my arrival we had constant meetings and talks. Most of them took place at the White House, but we had one long, fruitful and pleasant talk on board a yacht on the Potomac.
While the principal subject of our talks concerned the problem which we had met to consider, I naturally discussed with the President and Mr. Byrnes and others, matters of common interest to our two countries, and I found always the most friendly and co-operative attitude. On nth November I took part in the Armistice Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery, and laid a wreath on the memorial to the unknown American soldier of 1914–18. I also laid a wreath on the grave of that great soldier, Field-Marshal Sir John Dill. No man from this country has ever been more beloved and respected by all 603 those in America who came in contact with him. That was impressed on me many times and it is well, 1 think, that we should recall the great service he has rendered to this country and to the cause of co-operation between the United States and Great Britain.
As I said, I had the honour to address a Joint Session of Congress, and I paid tribute, as I am sure this House would have wished me to do, to the unsurpassed war effort of the United States. I also told them that I had come to visit America with the united good wishes of the whole House of Commons, in the task that lay ahead. 1 am quite sure that in the United States, it is fully realised that there is no difference of opinion in this House about our desire for the utmost cooperation in world affairs with the great Republic across the Atlantic. I would like to acknowledge here the great assistance I had in all my work from our Ambassador, Lord Halifax, Field-Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, and all the members of the staff in Washington.
After we had concluded our business in America, I proceeded to Canada in company with Mr. Mackenzie King. I was exceedingly glad to accept his invitation. I had a very kind reception; I was accorded hospitality from the Prime Minister and Members of his Cabinet, the leaders of the Opposition parties, indeed from all whom I met, and I was immensely struck by the deep desire of the Canadian people to do all that they could to help this country in the difficult circumstances of the present time. I told them very frankly of our difficulties, and I assured them that we met them in the spirit of resolution and confidence. Immediately before taking flight for home, I had the honour of addressing the Senate and the House of Commons in Joint Session. There I paid tribute to the Canadian people for their magnificent contribution in winning the war. The Prime Minister of Canada, whose great services we all know so well, assured me of the affection and admiration of the people of Canada for the people of this country. Indeed I found that assurance in the demeanour of everyone with whom I came in contact. In Canada too I had the honour of laying a wreath on that very fine war memorial in Ottawa, and in Ottawa I had the benefit of extremely able help from 604 our High Commissioner, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald.
I now turn to the principal matters which I discussed with the President and with Mr. Mackenzie King. I would like to say something first in regard to the approach which I made to this question of atomic energy applied to war. In my view, it is impossible to isolate the problem of the atomic bomb from that of the use of other weapons of destruction. There was a time when wars were local, fought out with weapons which to us seem extraordinarily primitive. In those days the losses and destruction caused by war could often be made up in a few years, and great as was the misery caused, the thing was measurable. Sometimes even the losses were slight. Men in authority might count the cost of a war as worth while, for the advantages gained, though those advantages seem to us today very often trifling. Such an attitude towards war is impossible to our generation. We have seen two world conflicts, and we know the cost—or at least we know some of the cost—in human suffering and the destruction of the work of generations of men. The practical obliteration of great cities which took place in the last war as the result of shelling and bombing was bad enough. We know only too well what the effect of bombing was in London, and in Coventry, Plymouth and other cities; but anyone who has seen Aachen, or Stalingrad or Warsaw, knows how infinitely greater is the ruin on the Continent of Europe.
It was with that object lesson in their minds that the representatives of the nations met at San Francisco. But since then we have had the atomic bomb. Two only were dropped on Japan, but in each instance a large part of a great city and of its inhabitants was wiped out. The atom bomb is the latest word in destructiveness, but it may not be the last. It brought home, as nothing else had done, that if civilisation is to survive there must be no repetition of the first and second world wars. Therefore, when I addressed the President, when I spoke at the Mansion House, and in all my discussions, I have considered, not just the elimination of the atom bomb from the armoury of the nations, but what kind of a world order is necessary in an epoch in which science has placed in men's hands such terrible weapons.
605 I emphasise this because there have been attempts in the past to eliminate certain weapons and certain methods of warfare. There were some successes in the past; there have been wars in which the Geneva Convention has been pretty fairly observed on both sides; but, broadly speaking, the attempt to ban certain weapons has failed. Gas was banned before the war of 1914-18, but it was used; and I have no doubt that if the Nazis- had thought it worth while they would have used gas again. The bombing of open cities once filled the world with horror, but it became the everyday experience of the citizens of London in the last war. I do not believe that in a warring world, except to a very limited extent, there can be a set of Queensberry Rules. I think an attempt on these lines is as futile as the attempt of the knightly combatants at the close of the Middle Ages to ban that unsporting method, gunpowder; and I think it is as well that we should make up our minds that if the world again lapses into war on a scale comparable to that from which we have just emerged, every weapon will be used, and we may confidently expect that full-scale atomic warfare will result in the destruction of great cities, in the deaths of millions, and the setting back of civilisation to an unimaginable extent. You will find this thought expressed in Section 3 of our Joint Declaration where we say:The only complete protection for the civilised world from the destructive use of scientific knowledge lies in the prevention of war. No system of safeguards that can be devised will, of itself "—I emphasise those words"—of itself, provide an effective guarantee against production of atomic weapons by a nation bent on aggression.I stress again those words—by a nation bent on aggression.The Declaration reverts to the same theme in Section 9:Faced with the terrible realities of the application of science to destruction, every nation will realise more urgently than before the overwhelming need to maintain the rule of law among nations and to banish the scourge of war from the earth.We have in prospect the meeting of the United Nations Organisation, and there is the instrument which, if all the nations resolve to use it, can establish the rule of law to prevent war. I say "resolve to use it" because, to my mind, here is the essence of the problem. Just as no sys- 606 tem of inspection or control of weapons will work without good will, so no international organisation, however carefully framed, will be of any avail unless the nations resolve to lay aside war and the threat of war as instruments of compulsion; unless they determine to establish between themselves such mutual confidence that war is unthinkable. While this is the only real solution, no safeguard offering any chance of success should be overlooked or ignored. I say mutual confidence is needed, but it is well to remember that over great areas of the earth's surface this confidence is already established. War between Britain and any one of the Dominions is unthinkable; war between Britain or Canada or any one of the Dominions and the United States of America is unthinkable. It seems to me that it is the task of statesmen to spread that confidence throughout the whole world, and the Declaration which we made at Washington was made with this object of increasing confidence, in order that we may press on with the great task of ridding the world of the fear of war.
Let me turn now to what we have actually done. First, we—the three countries concerned in the discovery and development of -atomic energy, the countries which possess the knowledge—have already made available to the world the basic scientific information essential to its development for peaceful purposes. We declare our readiness to make available any further basic scientific information of this kind for the whole world. We desire to promote the use of advances in scientific knowledge for peaceful and humanitarian ends, and we declare our willingness to exchange fundamental knowledge and to arrange for the interchange of scientists with any nations that will fully reciprocate. 1 ask the House to note that desire for reciprocity. We cannot tell what other scientific discoveries may be made, or might be used for the purposes of warfare; therefore, we ask all nations that they should be prepared to do what we have done and what we are prepared to do.
I now turn to the question of the disclosure of detailed information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy. Atomic energy has already been used for destruction. Its development for peaceful purposes—for helping, instead of destroying the human 607 race—is not likely to be perfected for many years, or for some years at all events. Meanwhile, the methods and the processes already developed can lead to either purpose. It has been urged in some quarters that knowledge of these processes should be broadcast to the world in the same way that the fundamental scientific information has been given. I cannot think that this would be wise.
In the first place, this knowledge cannot be given in a formula or a handbook or a blueprint. It can only be done by scientists and- technicians being taken to the plant, everything being shown and explained to them in detail. Well, that is a matter which would take a long time, and to do this for all the nations would clearly be a matter of very great difficulty, and I can see no reason for singling out particular nations.
Secondly, this discovery can be used either for peace or war. Can it be wise, when the United Nations Organisation is only just born and is not out of its cradle, to broadcast to the world the methods of making such a destructive weapon? In our view this must await the growth of confidence and the development of safeguards. It may be said, "What safeguards are of any use?" I may be asked, "Have you not already said that no system of safeguards can be devised to provide an effective guarantee?" I ask the House to note the words "by itself," and the words "a nation bent on aggression" in Section 3 of the Joint Declaration. Where there is not mutual confidence, no system will be effective, but where it exists, there will be no difficulty.For instance, there is no difficulty between Britain, Canada and the United States; we trust each other, we are able to have free, full and frank discussions, we are working on plans for future cooperation between us in this field, and we wish to establish between all nations just such confidence. It is to be remembered that, although the processes for producing atomic energy are complicated and require great plants, the product itself is a small thing and the weight of the bomb on Hiroshima was not great. Clearly, there must be the most sedulous care taken in the control of this most dangerous substance.
608 The three signatories, however, declare their readiness to share with other nations on a reciprocal basis the practical industrial applications of this discovery just as soon as effective enforceable safeguards can be devised, and to this end they propose a Commission under the United Nations Organisation. The House will have seen the duties which it is proposed to entrust to the Commission. It will be remembered that the United -Nations Organisation is set up for the prevention of war and the establishment of the rule of law. It is, therefore, natural to entrust this work to a Commission which will make recommendations to the Organisation. I would draw special attention to the provision that the work of this Commission should proceed by stages. It emphasises again the need for specific action to be based on confidence. Note, also, that it is not only atomic energy which is to be dealt with, but all weapons adaptable for mass destruction; no one of these weapons has any legitimate place in the armaments which are necessary for ordinary purposes of internal security, or for the protection of a Government against lawlessness.
§ The Prime Minister
Lawlessness. They are weapons of total war designed for mass destruction, and we must banish total war from the world if civilisation is to continue.
Well, here is our Declaration. I hope there will be a world-wide response to its principle, and that the proposals here made for the spreading of scientific information for peaceful purposes and the prevention of its perversion to war will be accepted by other nations. The next step will lie with the United Nations Organisation, which will soon be meeting, when this matter is brought before it. This is a matter which cannot be solved by Britain, Canada and the United States alone. It would have been a disservice to the cause which we have at heart if we tried to do so. We have set out our views, we have pointed out the immediate steps which are necessary, but this is a world question, and for its solution we need not merely the agreements of Governments, but the will and the faith of peoples.
609 The lost friends, the ruined homes of the last war are fresh in the memory of us all. We have been through so many horrors that perhaps it is difficult for most people to grasp the vista of still greater devastation which stretches before us unless men can so order their affairs as not to be destroyed by their own inventions. The atomic bomb is here present in the world; it is not something just to be noted, a newspaper sensation to be read about, tucked away comfortably at the back of our minds while we return to other things; it is the danger that hangs over every one of us, and over all the people of the world. The United Nations Organisation is here present in the world; it was born almost at the same time as the atomic bomb. It is not something vaguely heard of, something quite outside the range of our national life. It is the hope of the world. It is filled with immense possibilities. I want every man and woman in this country and in the world to feel a vivid personal concern in the success of the United Nations Organisation.
I would like to end with some words I used on Monday in addressing the Canadian Parliament:Unless we apply to the solution of these problems a moral enthusiasm as great as that which scientists bring to their research work, then our civilisation, built up over so many centuries, will surely perish.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I am sure that all sections of this House will join in welcoming home the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson). A flight across the Atlantic in mid-winter is not without its risks, and it is characteristic of both of them that they covered with becoming modesty the fact that there was only one aerodrome left in England at which they could land. It is part of the business of Ministers in these days to take such risks, and we are all happy that the right hon. Gentleman has done so this time without any unhappy consequences. We are glad to see him looking well and here with us again. The right hon. Gentleman has given us some account of his experiences and of his impressions of his visit, which were valuable. I trust he will forgive me if I say that I had hoped he would tell us a little more about what steps are to be taken now to give effect to the conclusions 610 reached in Washington. As I understand it, the really new departure in the Washington discussions was that the three Powers charged with this particular responsibility decided that it was their duty to take an initiative in the matter of atomic energy in relation to the other nations of the world, and their initiative has been to ask that a Commission of the United Nations should be set up which would by stages,it is hoped, and by agreement deal with this subject.
If I am right in my description, there are some points I should like to know about which, it may be, the Foreign Secretary can tell us tomorrow. If it is agreed that the Commission should be set up under the United Nations who is going to compose that Commission? Is it to be, presumably it will be, all the members of the Security Council? Any others as well? If so, who else? And have the invitations gone out? If they have not gone out when do they go out, and who sends them out, and to whom do they go, and when do the Commission meet? Before the end of this year? Those, I think, are the kind of questions which were in our minds when we read of what I thought were the admirable bases of work which were agreed upon in Washington. As I understand it, this Commission is proceeding by stages. In view of the immense intricacy of this subject I think that is right. Stage A was described in the statement which the Leader of the House read out to us aboutextending between all nations the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends." —[Official Report, 15th November, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 2368.]As I see it, what will happen will be that if these invitations are accepted then the United Nations Commission, whoever they may be, will meet together and first exchange this information. If that exchange is accepted by all of them you have got your first steps in the creation of international confidence and you move to your next stage, which is to evolve the control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to use it for peaceful ends, and so on. But we would like to know how that first step is to be put in motion, and what is the machinery contemplated and when it will be put in motion. Another thing we would like to know is, Have any communications gone to other nations since the Washington talks were completed? In particular, has any communication 611 gone to Russia about the outcome of the talks?
§ The Prime Minister
Before the Declaration was made, it was communicated to the Russian Government.
§ The Prime Minister
I am sorry. I am afraid 1 ought to have made it clear, but i thought it was clear, that the United Nations Organisation would itself set up the Commission, and therefore till we have the United Nations Organisation, I cannot tell the composition of the Commission. It is a matter for the United Nations.
§ Mr. Eden
I do not wish to press the Prime Minister, but these are points of great lnterest. Is it the conception that there will De a special meeting of the United Nations Organisation so that they may set up this Commission, because otherwise it may be a very long time before that happens. My suggestion would be that somebody should send a communication—I think there is an acting Chairman of the United Nations Commissionߞasking that they should call a special meeting to set up the Commission of States who are to be entrusted with the task. Otherwise I fear we may have to wait quite a long time before even preliminary steps are taken.
Let me come to what seem to me to be the fundamentals of this problem. The truth is that by the discovery of this atomic energy science has placed us several laps ahead of the present phase of international political development, and unless we can catch up politically to the point we have reached in science, and thus command the power which at present threatens us, we are all going to be blown to smithereens. I think that Mr. Byrnes, the United States Secretary of State, put it quite well at Charleston when he said that the civilised world cannot survive an atomic war, and I agree entirely with the Prime Minister that no set of rules will enable us to survive a future war when this -veapon is latent for use. I agree, 612 too, that no safeguards by themselves will provide an effective guarantee. They have to be accompanied by the acceptance of the rule of law amongst the nations. It is something more than 100 years ago that Castlereagh first conceived the idea of making progress in diplomacy by conference. He was on the right lines, but he failed. After the last war the nations tried again, by the League, to make another effort more in conformity with the developments that had taken place in the intervening period, and they failed, and during this war we at San Francisco tried again, and have sought of lay the foundations of a new world order.
The truth is that all the inventions of recent years have tended the same way, to narrow the world, to bring us closer together and, therefore, to intensify the shock and sharpen the reactions before the shock absorbers are ready. Every succeeding scientific discovery makes greater nonsense of old-time conceptions of sovereignty, and yet it is not the least use our deluding ourselves, any more than Mr. Byrnes did in his Charleston speech. It is yet true that national sentiment is still as strong as ever, and here and there it is strengthened by this further complication, the different conceptions of forms of government and different conceptions of what words mean, words like "freedom" and "democracy." So, despite some stirrings, the world has not, so far, been ready to abandon, or even really to modify, its old conceptions of sovereignty. But there have been some stirrings. There was the Briand plan after the last war for the Federation of Europe, which my right hon. Friend revived in another form in what he said in Brussels the other day, about the new unity of the European family. In the darkest hour of 1940, there was the offer made to France by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wood-ford (Mr. Churchill), on behalf of the Coalition Government, and there were the various suggestions made between the United States and ourselves. Now atomic energy has come to enforce the call for something more, because the world family is smaller to-day than was the European family at the end of the last war. I have thought much on this question of atomic energy both before and since that bomb burst on Nagasaki, and for the life of me I have been unable to see, and am still 613 unable to see, any final solution which will make the world safe for atomic power, save that we all abate our present ideas of sovereignty.
Mr. Gallaeher (Fife, West)
The right hon. Gentleman's own side of the House is silent.
§ Mr. Eden
I am not making a party point. We have got somehow to take the sting out of nationalism. We cannot hope to do so at once, but we ought to start working for it now, and that, I submit, should be the first duty of the United Nations. We should make up our minds where we want to go. In this respect I know where I want to go. I want to get a world in which the relations between the nations can be transformed in a given period of time—we cannot do it in a short period—as the relations between this country and Scotland and Wales have been transformed. What are we going to do about that? What are the first steps that can be taken? One of the first steps has been described by the right hon. Gentleman in the communiqué which was issued from Washington, and I hope the further steps which I have traced will be followed up to get this United Nations Mission to work soon.
There is another possible step in connection with the San Francisco organisation. At an early date, in my judgment, the United Nations ought to review their Charter in the light of the discoveries about atomic energy which were not before us when the Charter was drawn up. Nothing showed more clearly the hold that nationalism has upon us all than the decision of that Conference to retain the power of veto. Surely in the light of what has passed since San Francisco the United Nations ought to look at that again, and, having looked at it, I hope they will unanimously decide that the retention of such a provision in the Charter is an anachronism in the modern world.
I turn to another aspect of foreign relations, not at all connected with atomic energy. It is a subject about which I want to speak with a frankness which, I hope, will be misunderstood neither here nor abroad, and that is our relations with Russia. Nobody here will deny that recently there has been an increase of suspicion and mistrust between the Soviet Union and the other two great partners in victory, the United States and ourselves. 614 We all deplore that, and if I make some remarks upon it I hope it will be understood that they are made by one who has always been and is still convinced that the future peace of the world depends upon an understanding between ourselves, the United States and Russia. We have not forgotten the lessons of previous wars, the Napoleonic War and the Great War, when we and Russia had to come together to prevent one Power dominating Europe and how, after those wars, we fell apart again with disastrous consequences for us both. We all of us desire, we should all work, that this should not happen again, but let us look, as somebody who is not a Foreign Secretary can look, at what these suspicions are. I have read, like many hon. Members, many of the statements in the Russian Press and on the Moscow radio and so forth, and I have here one extract from the "Daily Herald" of a report from what used to be called "War and the Working Class" and is now called "New Times." I do not know whether there is any connection. It says:It accuses the reactionary Press of Britain, America and France of trying to convince the people of the weakness of our country"—that is, Soviet Russia. It goes on:and of appealing for the elimination of the Soviet Union from any participation in European affairs.I say without hesitation that no printed statement could be further from the truth of the feelings of the people of this country. Exactly the opposite is what we want, and what we are all prepared to work for. But since we feel that, we really are at a loss to understand the meaning of the Soviet Government's attitude to what they call the "Western bloc." We want the fullest Russian participation in all world affairs on equal terms. That is the object of our policy. Let us look at the Western bloc, as it is called—I think wrongly. Many times Russian statesmen have spoken to me and to my right hon. Friend also of their need for security and of the necessity they feel for friendly relations with their neighbors. We have never disputed that. The Russians have gone very far in making arrangements with almost all their neighbors; in some cases—take Hungary, for example—they made an economic union infinitely closer than anything that I know that has ever been contemplated between us and our Western neighbors.
615 Against whom are all these Russian arrangements being aimed? I know the answer; they have given it so many times. They are being aimed against the possible resurgence of German plans for the domination of Europe. The Russians are not yet by any means convinced, as are some people in this country, that the Nazi spirit is entirely dead. Any arrangements which the right hon. Gentleman may make in Western Europe are for precisely the same purpose. They will be complementary to the arrangements that Russia may make in the East and any arrangements between us and our Western neighbours are no more aimed against Russia than are Russia's arrangements with her neighbours aimed against us. It is desirable that that should be plainly stated, for I am convinced that it is the literal truth. We know that Russia's arrangements are not aimed against us. We can surely ask her to believe that our arrangements are not aimed against her either.
I have said that there continues to be in this country, among virtually all sections of the people, a deep desire for friendship for Russia, as close and cordial a friendship even as we have with the United States of America. But there is another unhelpful influence which militates against this, and which I think should be mentioned. It is the difficulty of getting information out of Russia and out of territories controlled by the Soviet Union. We had an example of this the other day in the message sent by Anglo-American Press correspondents in Moscow to Mr. Molotov. I would beg our Russian friends to believe that they could make no greater contribution to real understanding between our countries than to allow the foreign correspondents in their territories, or territories under their control, the same full freedom as is allowed to Russian correspondents here. We have to get, to know each other and that involves freedom to speak and freedom to comment across the frontier. Drop those barriers of censorship and you will blow away in one gust much of this black fog of suspicion.
I come to one other aspect of our relations with the Soviet Union to which I must refer, because I have some responsibility in the matter, and that concerns recent events in Persia. We have read—I think all of us—with some, concern in 616 the Press of recent disturbances in North-West Persia, and of a decision by the Persian Government to send troops to deal with those disturbances and a report that those troops were turned back by the Soviet authorities. I must say that I find it impossible to reconcile such action either with the Anglo-Soviet-Persian Treaty of 1942, which I signed myself, or the Teheran Declaration of 1943, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford put his name. I must remind the House what that Declaration said. The last paragraph begins:The Government of the United States, the U.S.S.R. and the United Kingdom are at one with the Government of Iran in their desire for the maintenance of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran.Let me recall what happened and why our troops are in Persia at all. From 1940, and still more in 1941 when Russia was attacked, Persia became a happy hunting ground for German agents. The moment that Russia was attacked, we had need of those communications through Persia as the only alternative route to the Northern convoys, the full story of whose gallantry I pray that somebody will one day write as it should be written. Apart from that route, there was no other means save through Persia, and to deal with the German agents and threats of sabotage to that railway, as anyone who knows it can see it was easy to sabotage, it was necessary to take military steps. We did so, but we made it plain that in so doing it was only to ensure our supplies to Russia that we intervened in Persia and that we wished to interfere as little as we could with Persian sovereignty. I would refer to one passage of the Treaty which we signed. It is signed by us and the Soviet Union as well as by Persia. It reads:It is understood that the presence of these forces on Iranian territory does not constitute a military occupation and will disturb as little as possible the administration and the security forces of Iran, the economic life of the country, the normal movements of the population and the application of Iranian laws and independence.It is not by accident that those words are there. We put them there because we were most anxious not to revert to that harsh and pernicious policy which was called "Spheres of Influence in Persia." We remember what happened after 1907, Sir Edward Grey's attempt. It left a legacy of suspicion in Persia which made us unpopular for 20 years or more.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the United States were also a party to this Treaty?
§ Mr. Eden
No, Sir, they were not a party to the Treaty because at the time they had no troops in Iran. It only concerned us and the Soviet Union. Their troops came later. In view of that, when the German war began to come to an end, we became anxious to withdraw our troops and first raised this matter at Yalta. It is fair that I should state these matters and that the House should know them because the issue is important to us. We raised it at Yalta, but no decision was reached about the withdrawal of troops, but the Russians did reaffirm to us their determination to stand by the Teheran Agreement I have just quoted. Later, at an early stage of the Potsdam Conference, we raised the matter again and our desire then was to arrange for an early with drawal even before the Treaty obligation came into effect. The Treaty obligation, I may say, is to withdraw six months after the close of the Japanese war. At Potsdam the Russians did agree to an immediate withdrawal from Teheran, and the stages for full withdrawal they agreed to discuss at the Foreign Secretary's Conference in London when it met. Before that meeting took place, the Japanese war ended and the Treaty came into force. In London agreement was reached, as I understand it, to withdraw by 2nd March.
I am recapitulating all this to the House because 1 want to emphasise our task in Persia, and our only task was to create lines of communication and supply and not to interfere in the internal affairs in Persia. Those lines of supply are no longer of any importance except for the maintenance of our troops and of the Soviet troops that are there. I am afraid that the incident of the two battalions is not the only occasion when the Soviet have refused permission to the Persian Government to move their troops and gendarmerie about in the 'area under their control. In consequence of these events it is not very surprising that suspicions have been aroused.
There are two steps which our Russian Allies could take which would remove those suspicions. They can make it plain that they have no objection, as we should certainly have no objection where our 618 troops are, to the free movement of Persian troops into their area and that they will be prepared to give those forces an opportunity to move and act when they reach, the area. Might I also add that here, as elsewhere, the Soviet Union could greatly strengthen its case and remove much suspicion and many charges, some of which may be unfair charges, by inviting the Press of the world to come and see for themselves what is going on in the area and allowing them freely to publish their observations. I have spoken fully of these matters, as I think it my duty to do because of the responsibilities I had in office before. I believe it better in the long run for our relations with Russia, about which I hope my record shows I care very deeply, that one should speak frankly on occasion when the occasion arises.
There is one other topic to which I want to refer before I sum up, and that is, the position in Greece, about which I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us, if he will, some information tomorrow. What exactly is going on in Greece? We read that the Archbishop has resigned. That I think is deplorable, if it is true, because he has given very valuable service to Greece at a very critical time. Perhaps resignations in Greece are not quite so serious as they are in this country. It may be that he may come back again, but it would be a good thing if we had some news about that position tomorrow. More serious is the news of the postponement—I do not say the postponement on the initiative of the British Government—for two to three years of the plebiscite, in respect of the constitutional future of Greece.
§ Mr. Eden
That is just the point. Is that democracy? Is it only democracy when the hon. Gentleman gets the result he likes? I am afraid that is part of his attitude. I am not going into the merits or my desires whatever they may be, if I have any, about the outcome of the plebiscite but I want to say about the delay of two to three years, that it is running counter to the Varkiza Agreement and also counter to the undertakings which 619 were given to the King by us, by the then Prime Minister and myself, when he himself offered not to go back to his country until the country had voted. We then told the House, and it is on public record, that the idea was that a plebiscite should be held at an early date. No one in the world would say that a date two or three years from now, should be regarded as an early one. Therefore, I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman could tell us about that. With regard to the report of financial assistance being conditioned in some way perhaps he could give us some information about that matter also.
Let me try to sum up. I know the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary was disappointed by the breakdown of the London Conference. Despite this, we all hope that he will persevere in his efforts to bring about another meeting, where perhaps we might do better next time. It is by such direct contacts with Russia and the other Allies that suspicions can be ventilated and allayed as they must be, if the world is to have a chance of enjoying the enduring peace which it deserves. Earlier in my speech I spoke of the destructive possibilities of atomic energy but there is another side to this stupendous discovery—the possibilities for good which, if I may say so, are as immeasurable as the possibilities for evil. The world sees, not so very far away a chance of security or even plenty for all. The world must seize that chance if we are to prove worthy of those who fought and died that we should have it.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Mack (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
I wish to join in expressing the thankfulness of all of us at the safe return of the Prime Minister to this country after his arduous labours abroad. What he has had to say this afternoon has undoubtedly left a deep impression as to the onerous character of those labours and we all hope that success may finally attend them. My task this afternoon will be to say something, with the kind indulgence of the House, about Poland, which country I have been visiting quite recently. As far as I know, I am the only Member of this House who has had an opportunity of visiting Poland since its liberation. I will resist the temptation, a very natural one, to be dramatic, be- 620 cause I believe hon. Members in all parts of the House are anxious and desirous at least to know something about that country. One hon. Member in a recent Debate said of Poland that it was a country behind an iron curtain. I have been behind that iron curtain. I travelled over various parts of the country and saw for myself—without the disability of a conducted tour—many strange and terrible sights. I travelled from Warsaw to Lodz, to Bydgoz, known better as Bromberg. to Danzig, Zopport, and Gdynia, the modern port of Poland, right along the North coast of Pomerania, through Koslin and on into the city of Stettin, immediately after it had been taken over by the Poles. After that I was able to travel—with very great difficulty because the absence of transport is one of the most difficult problems in Poland—to Pozna and then back again by a circuitous route through Lodz to' Warsaw. During that time I had the privilege of being accompanied for two days by the Prime Minister M. Osubko-Marawski and also had a long conversation with President Bierut at the Belvedere Palace, the old home of Pilsudski.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
It is extremely interesting to have this speech from the hon. Member opposite dealing with his visit to Poland because none of us have had the opportunity. Would he tell the House who gave him the invitation and whether a similar invitation would, for instance, be extended to me?
§ Mr. Mack
I do not think that that is strictly relevant to the point but I will tell the House that the invitation was extended to me by the Polish Government, and I believe that I am correct in saying that if practicable, a similar invitation may be extended to right hon. and hon. Members of this House possibly during the forthcoming elections, so that they will be able to see for themselves many of the things of which I have to tell them.In the great task of Poland, the rebuilding of the country comes first and foremost. In Warsaw for example, which has only one-third of its pre-war population, the Poles are trying to patch up the city in an almost hopeless fashion and their efforts indeed are pitiable however heroic. It reminded me of the remark made by a celebrated American humorist who likened such attempts to the efforts 621 of a rubber-nosed woodpecker in a petrified forest. However, what Warsaw wants and what is wanted all over Poland is machinery and all forms of transport, if the country is to be saved. The political set-up in Poland is an arrangement which has been agreed to by members of all parties. There are four main parties which roughly speaking—if I am to be analogous—are the P.P.S. corresponding to our Labour Party, the Communist Party, the Peasant Party and a small Democratic Party, which of course has not much political influence because it is composed of what one might euphemistically call the intelligentsia. All these parties are bound together by a realistic understanding of the needs of 'heir country. First and foremost, they believe it is essential to have a' firm and enduring friendship with Russia on terms of equality, but equally they turn their eyes to the West, because of sentimental and economic ties to Britain and to America in the hope that those two great democracies will eventually help Poland to come once again into her inheritance. 1 am authorised to say from the President of Poland that those Poles in the Polish Army in this country who return, will not only be given full civic-rights but that no recrimination, in any shape or form, will be visited upon them because of anything they may have done in the past.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Would the hon. Member let us know what will be done to make this guarantee possible?
§ Mr. Mack
I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member is trying to be facetious or just unkind. I do not mind this in the least, but I did think-that my speech was rather more serious than to invite that remark. I found in Poland a rather difficult attitude towards this country, and so far as the Press is concerned a rather critical one—one 622 might almost say in some instances a little hypercritical. First, there is criticism in some quarters, airing the theory that Britain has remained aloof and detached from the needs of Poland. They were anxious that we should under stand them better. They were also concerned and agitated about the recent trials at Paderborn where a number of young Poles had been sentenced to death after having been found guilty of murdering some Germans, and they felt that in the very extenuating circumstances we might take a broader view of that case and at least mitigate the severe penalty. They were also very agitated about the return of shipping, which at present is pooled, because their needs here are very great and their resources extremely small. They were also very anxious for the return of the Polish soldiers who are in this country and in other parts of Europe. It must—
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I wonder if the hon. Member could tell us what are the reactions of the Polish people in this country, and what is said about this magnanimous offer now being made on behalf of the President of Poland?
§ Mr. Mack
I would not describe that offer as magnanimous in the sense that the Polish authorities are alleged to be speaking with their tongue in their cheek. I believe it to be both a genuine and honest offer. I also believe that the Poles in Britain are, in some instances, being influenced by their military officers and in other cases by political cross currents, and that but for this the vast majority of them, would gladly return to their own country.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the arrests of the officers and men of the underground army still continue in Poland?
§ Mr. Mack
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that if he will bear with me just a little longer I will try to cover that point, but he can rest assured that there are no arrests of that kind in Poland at the present time. I can assure him also that the Poles are anxious that the millions of their countrymen outside their country should return. It must, however, be borne in mind that the population of Poland has decreased from some 35,000,000 before the war to a bare 20,000,000 at the present time—
§ Mr. C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)
Is the hon. Gentleman now making an offer from the President of Poland saying that if these troops over here return they will not be penalised for anything they have done in the past? Am I right in assuming that he is referring to the Polish soldiers who fought on the side of the Allies during the war?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I apologise if I am mistaken but surely it is in Standing Orders that we cannot discuss the heads of Allied States, and that being so, is it not really impossible that we should receive direct messages from them through private Members?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
It is the practice and custom of the House not to discuss the heads of another State in an unfriendly sense. What the hon. Member was saying was not in any way derogatory.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
Further to that point of Order, has it not been laid down again and again by your predecessors in the Chair, and by Mr. Speaker, that we cannot discuss the conduct or the opinions of the heads. of foreign States, and that the hon. Gentleman is discussing the opinions and views of the President of Poland?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We cannot discuss the heads of foreign States in an unfriendly fashion. It is an extremely difficult point and I do advise the hon. Member who is now speaking to leave this part of his discourse, and to get on to a broader basis.
§ Earl Winterton
Can we, Sir, with the greatest respect to you, have a more definite Ruling? Did the House understand you to say that it is not in Order for the hon. Member to pursue the line of argument that he has been taking?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did advise the hon. Member that it might be wise if he did not now pursue that particular subject:
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think it would be to advantage if the hon. Member were allowed to continue his speech.
§ Mr. Mack
I will leave that side of the matter because I have to cover a little more ground. What they are much more concerned about in Poland is what they regard as our undue tenderness to the Germans. There is, of course, in this country a small element—I am certainly not a part of that element—which has expressed in this House a certain solicitude for Germany. I would be the last, as most hon. Members would, to want to inflict wanton cruelty on any nation, even including the Germans. The Poles who have endured the most savage treatment by the Nazis and come into direct contact with Germans naturally and rightly take a different view. So far as I have seen of Germans from erstwhile German territory, I have never seen a single instance of direct cruelty, or indirect cruelty in a personal sense, to any German. It is an amazing thing that when a nation has gone through the trials and vicissitudes of war, as Poland has done, instead of having a vitriolic hatred towards people, like Germans, there is a kind of resignation; a feeling that they have got to get rid of these people eventually, that they do not want to hurry them unduly, but they must make it crystal clear that they must finally leave their country.
I have given hon. Members verbal notice that I intended to mention. the remarks made from time to time by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who is a kind of modern Douglas Fairbanks—a swashbuckler. He has stressed sympathetically the needs of the Germans —that may be all right as far as it goes—but even more important than the needs of the Germans are those of the Poles and Czechs and all who have suffered. In that, I think, hon. Members of this House will generally agree with me.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Now that the hon. Gentleman has referred to me, in the most flattering terms, perhaps I may ask him if he will take the trouble to read my speeches, because in the last three, I made clear that I was referring to people in distressed circumstances, to whatever nation they might belong.
§ Mr. Mack
That is rather a change of heart at this late hour, but I welcome it. But I leave it to the judgment of hon. Members in this House, and the people outside, who know something about the hon. Member's fulminations to assess what he means, and to whom he specifically refers. I do not mind these little things at all, but 1 see clearly danger in what the hon. Member does, and it is this: There are people outside this country who attach far too great importance to the utterances of the hon. Member for Ipswich who does not, in the main, represent the nation, and the various parties in this House.
§ Mr. Stokes
In view of the fact that I am being attacked, may I say that if the hon. Member has killed as many Germans as I have, I shall pay more attention to what he has to say?
§ Mr. Mack
I never knew that the killing of Germans was a prerequisite to passing one's intelligent judgment. I never - realised that slaughtering Germans was an advantage in the mind of the hon. Gentleman, and all I can say is that my valuation of him has gone even lower. [Interruption.] Having come into contact with some of the Russian soldiers, and others, in Poland, I found no evidence of cruelty, or domination, political or otherwise. It is true that when the war had just concluded there were incidents. It is only natural that there should be incidents when millions of men like the Russians, who have spent four years taking part in the bitterest war in history, come into a somewhat hostile country with different degrees of democratic understanding. It is to be appreciated that under such conditions unpleasant things can happen. But I am assured, on all sides, by eminent Poles that today there are scarcely any incidents whatever, and the general tendency of Russia is to allow Poland to have its own Government and own way, with one exception. [Interruption.] I am not giving way. Not only are they giving a fair opportunity to Poland to have its own free and unfettered election, which it is hoped will take place in the spring, but their only condition is that whatever Government is to be the future Government of Poland, that Government should be friendly in its foreign relationships with Russia—and surely that is reasonable, and it ought to be endorsed by all Members in this House.
626 I took the opportunity of talking to a Russian of some importance—I will not mention his name—and he said, "We have no territorial demands to make on Poland or any other part of the world, although, indeed, our territory is smaller than it was before the first world war. But we make this condition: We believe that we have so to organise things in Eastern Europe that it will be impossible for us to be engaged in another war with the Nazis or that Germany should be strong enough, and able enough, to use weapons again." The Russians, it must be remembered, like ourselves, are not perfect. They are the first to admit this, but I believe that we can talk to them on a level, very honestly and sincerely. To me one of the most amazing things is how easy it is to accentuate differences, but how hard it is to compose those differences. It ought to be possible, as the right hon. Gentleman for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said, in view of our common ideals, to bring about a real friendship between the U.S.S.R. and this country. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is not at the moment in his place. I am sure we all admire him for his rugged integrity, courage and forthright spirit—I liken him to a burly bastion of Britain abroad, who can send out broadsides to other countries. But I question whether he is rendering, however good his intentions, the best service to both Russia and this country. I do not believe that that method is the most efficacious one, and that it is at all necessary to proclaim the power and the right of one country in semi-defiance—for so it may be interpreted—of another country. I do not agree that we have anything to fear from the U.S.S.R. I once said in this House, in the words of a great poet, who lived somewhere near the constituency of my right hon. Friend:O! it is excellentTo have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannousTo use it like a giant.Russia has no intention of doing that. Like the "Dynamos", they are still undefeated. I believe that Russia will be undefeated in any circumstances, so that the question of war cannot possibly arise. We should be the last to talk in that direction. The only salvation of this country is a firm, lasting and neighbourly friendship, with sincerity in our hearts and minds. I believe Russia has got it, but 627 I am not so sure that everyone in this House has the same sincere desire as they have. I say to Members of the Labour Party that our recent phenomenal success was to a large extent due to the great effect that Russia made—[Interruption] —I am reminded of the words of the Foreign Secretary who said at the recent Conference of the Labour Party:We, unlike our opponents, have no bad past and no bad history with Russia to live down.If I am to be attacked, I am prepared to accept the challenge and to give thrust for thrust. I conclude by saying that this is no easy task; it is surely the biggest job in the world on which we can set our hearts. I am not in the position of Front Bench Ministers, but if I were, I would stake the whole of my political future and life on one thing—that is eventual friendship between Russia and this country, without which the world may descend to barbarism. My words from the Poles to this country are these—and I am sure the Noble Lord will appreciate this. I say this to the Noble Lord—and I know beneath his dour exterior there is a warm heart—that he will be pleased to hear that there is a very warm feeling in the hearts of the Poles for Britain. They have a great admiration for many of the things which we have given to the world. They have expressed their admiration, and may I add that some of the utterances which the President of the Republic made to me, and which have caused a certain measure of criticism were made earlier in the same day to a representative gathering of the Press of all countries including the American Press. It was not a question of a secret message, it was a general sentiment which I believe will be appreciated by the people of England. If hon. Members can only go to Poland, see for themselves, study the problem, commune with the Polish people, and give them sympathy in a practical sense, by saying that whatever our differences in the past this country wants to understand their, problems and help them, we shall have rendered a great service not only to Poland but also to our own island and the cause of the human race.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
Like many other maiden speakers in this Parliament, I must crave the due measure of "tolerance and indulgence always so 628 generously accorded to Members making their first speech. I need it, especially as the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) have made more than half my own speech already. I am, Sir, addressing this House not, like the hon. Member who has just sat down, as the unofficial ambassador of any foreign Head of State; I am addressing it because I feel profoundly disturbed by the present foreign situation. The present situation seems to me to be directly comparable to that which existed at the time of the Congress of Vienna and the Peace Conference of Versailles after the last war. I was re-reading the other day the famous work of Mr. Harold Nicolson—which I think all who have to do with the peacemaking now would be well advised to read if they have not already read it—" Peace-making 1919," in which he said:They "—the peace delegates—were convinced they would never commit the blunders and iniquities of the Congress of Vienna. Future generations will be equally convinced that they will be immune from the difficulties that assailed the. negotiators of Paris. Yet they in their turn will be exposed to similar microbes of infection.How true is this prophecy today. How true is it in the light of the microbe of infection—the terrible suspicion which dominates the councils of the world at this moment.
Both these conferences, the Congress of Vienna and the Conference of Versailles, failed to maintain the peace, in the case of the first because of the general territorial greed which animated the participating nations, and in the case of the second conference because of the general desire, the general mania for security, and the determination of one great Power to grind down her vanquished enemy economically. How similar is the position today. The world is becoming divided, whether we like it or not, into spheres of influence. In the East of Europe there is a Russian sphere of influence; in Asia, in the Far East, an American sphere; and it is therefore natural that the Western European States should incline towards this country in the form of a counter-bloc as a means of protection against anything which they may, in their present suspicious frame of mind, have to fear from this great massive Power in the East.
629 The Americans are running the Far Eastern theatre as they like. They are running it with the minimum of Allied interference, and with the minimum of assistance from this country, and indeed from the Soviet Union. In Eastern Europe the Russians are reversing the "cordon sanitaire," collecting round themselves the Balkan States, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Finland, and repressing the forces of democracy in exactly the same way as those forces were repressed in the years that followed the Congress of Vienna, in exactly the same way as Prince Metternich repressed the forces of liberalism and nationalism in Europe in the 19th century. It is natural in those circumstances that there should be a tendency to grow up in Western Europe a bloc of States as a counterweight to what is taking shape in the East.
This situation is profoundly disturbing. It is highly dangerous for the future. It is an historical fact that blocs lead to counter-blocs, that counter-blocs lead to rival spheres of influence, which, if unchecked, like arms races lead inevitably and ultimately to war. Therefore, if allowed to go unchecked the present situation may well lead to another world conflict; at least all the necessary factors for another world conflict will be present. At best it can only lead to the isolation of America on the one hand and of the Soviet Union on the other. Already there are tendencies in America towards isolation. We see that in the very chilly reception which President Truman's recent 12 points for future world peace encountered in some quarters in America. It is not to my mind a very large step from this to a repetition of the repudiation of President Wilson, which occurred after the last war. As to Russia, the very policy she is bent on following at this moment, a policy of creating a bloc of buffer States round herself, is a policy which tends to isolation. At all events, whichever of these alternatives befall the result can be nothing more or less than a betrayal and a denial of the declared aim of the United Nations.
What are the causes of this situation? In the first place, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington said, it is the Russian security complex. The Russians, having been so badly bitten as they have been during this war, are naturally anxious not to give an aggressor in Europe —another Ger- 630 many —another chance of coming at them again. But the main underlying cause of all this, particularly of the Russian motive, is suspicion. Indeed it is the main cause of the underlying motive behind all the spheres of influence which are being established in the world' today. The great Powers all have their suspicions one of another, either on political or military or commercial grounds. Dominating all their counsels is a terrible vicious circle of suspicion. The Russians suspect us and the United States for our refusal to divulge to them the secret of the atomic bomb. The Russians suspect the United States for their refusal to invite them to participate in control in the Far East. Some Western European States, as I have already said, suspect the intentions of the Russians in Europe. So do the Americans. There is even suspicion between ourselves and the Americans over American commercial policy in the Near East. In short, suspicion is the root of all the other causes which lie behind the sphere of influence mentality which now dominates both American and Russian policy.
What is the solution? To my mind the war produced both the conditions and the men for a world settlement on a really sound basis. Some of these men are no longer at the helm of public affairs, for varying reasons; but their work lives on. The treaties and agreements which they concluded with the United Nations, and particularly amongst themselves, amongst the three great Powers must and do remain, both in the spirit and the letter, the cornerstone of a future world settlement. The Anglo-Soviet Treaty, the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter—all these treaties must remain the cornerstone of the future peace settlement of the world. We must not simply pay lip-service to these instruments of world organisation, but in the spirit as well as in the letter of these agreements, we must seek to break the vicious circle of suspicion. We and the Americans, 1 believe, hold the keys—the atomic bomb and the question of participation in control in the Far East. While I welcome the recent statement by Mr. Attlee and President Truman issued from Washington on the control of atomic energy, I do not think it can possibly be applied to Russia. I am glad to see that Mr. Byrnes, the American Secretary of State, implied that in a recent speech. We must regard 631 Russia as outside any arrangement which may come within the scope of that statement. The way to break this vicious circle of suspicion is to secure a definite agreement with the Soviet Union that in return for giving to her the secrets of the atomic bomb, and for inviting her to participate in control in the Far East, she should forgo this passion for sovereignty, she should forgo creating her spheres of influence in Eastern Europe, and agree to treat the world as one entity, the security of which is indivisible, and work with us in an overall, all-embracing world organisation for peace. Only by this means, in my view, can we persuade the Russians that their best hope of security for the future lies in a general settlement, rather than in a partial settlement based on a bloc tucked away somewhere in some corner of Europe. By this means can be avoid a repetition of the abortive, not to say painful, conferences and congresses that have taken place in the past, such as Vienna and Versailles, and so contribute to the peace, as we contributed to the war, a gift that will long be remembered and hallowed in the annals of the human race.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
It is with real pleasure that I avail myself of the privilege of congratulating the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) on his speech. It was well argued, reasoned, cogent and sincere, and if I may say so, one felt that in him is a worthy understudy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I am sure that there is a great and bright future before him, and we in this House will await his next speech and his contributions to our proceedings with interest and pleasure. It is with complete sincerity that I congratulate him.
I also wish most sincerely to congratulate the Prime Minister upon undertaking this mission to America, and upon his safe return. It was an ambitious mission. It was a mission requiring courage and boldness. I feel that he was not only running, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington has already said, a great physical risk, but possibly he was also running an even greater risk than that—carrying with him the reputation of this country. I would 632 like to thank him for the speeches which he made before the American Congress and before the Canadian Parliament. They were in every way worthy of the best traditions of this country, and, from all that I have heard, either from the United States or from Canada, they have accomplished much in removing any possible misunderstanding that might have hitherto been felt about the whole situation.
I would like at once to refer to the main subject of this Debate. To me it seems that a new era has begun, and I believe that with good will on all sides, Wednesday, 14th November, may be a memorable day in the records of men's memories and of history. At any rate, one can say that it seemed to mark the ending of the old era. If there is any doubt about that, one need only refer to paragraph 9 of the Declaration, to the statement made by the Prime Minister the other day, and still more to the early part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). As was stated in the speech which we have just heard, there is now among all parties a recognition that there is only one certain way of putting an end to the danger of war. That is by one rule of law, to which all nations will owe allegiance, laid down by one body to which we all contributed and which we all obey. Everything short of that has been tried and tried again, and has been found wanting. That is why I say that this Declaration of 14th November marks an entirely new and tremendous advance on all treaties of the past—on all peace treaties such as have already been mentioned, whether the Treaty of Vienna, the Treaty of Versailles, or even the agreements and declarations decided upon at Yalta and San Francisco.
I was immensely struck by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington said from that Box that, as a result of this scientific discovery, the whole matter of San Francisco and the agreement which was reached there has now to be reconsidered. There were many of us who, before the right hon. Gentleman went to San Francisco, protested against what had been agreed upon at Yalta, namely, that there should be three, or maybe five, nations or States above the law, that the 633 rule of law should govern everyone, strong and weak, and that all should be subservient to it without any exception. I am glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman who led the mission from this country to San Francisco is now saying that, as a result of this discovery, all that was agreed upon there must be reconsidered in the light of that discovery.
Let us also realise why it is absolutely essential and vital to the peace of the world that there should be complete understanding between the United States of America and the British Commonwealth of Nations. War between them, as everyone agrees, is unthinkable; but that is only one part of the world, only one set of people. One naturally then asks: What of the others, what of Russia? Everyone, as is borne out by the speeches of the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, and other speeches which we have heard, seems to be emphasising the need for a complete understanding with Russia. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington mentioned Persia. Another hon. Member has mentioned Poland and other places. It is not the slightest use our discussing the position in the Near East, the Middle East or any part of Asia, unless there is a complete understanding between this country and the United States on the one hand and Russia on the other. Any misunderstanding between us will always be a festering sore in the body politic of the world.
If I might go back to the speech made by the hon. Member for Melton, I agree that the underlying trouble with regard to most of these matters is suspicion. Suspicion begets suspicion. If we suspect Russia, Russia cannot be blamed for suspecting us. If we are seeking alliances with other nations, including some within our sphere and excluding others, we cannot very well complain if those whom we have excluded and those whom we have blackballed from our society seek their own form of alliance. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the Opposition bench this afternoon made it so clear that he believes in this one rule of law for the whole world. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition could be equally clear. I sometimes feel that he has a dual per- 634 sonality, one personality fighting the other; one personality the great statesman with the broad view, the great orator, the great leader; and the other personality a rather small politician engaging in taunts which lead nowhere except to trouble, as taunts always do I would refer to the speech which he last made in this House. He concluded with five points. With some of the words he used I agree; with some of the phrases that he used and the intentions behind them I would fundamentally disagree. I shall always recall with pride that he was, and still is, the first President of the new commonwealth which was established by that great man whom I followed in representing the county of Montgomery, the late Lord Davies. The whole purpose of the new commonwealth was the very purpose to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington has given his adherence this afternoon—that there should be one law-making body, a tribunal elect, one police force throughout the world, and the abolition of all arms except in the hands of this one international body. If I may, I would like to refer to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said on the last occasion.
He said: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.For the purpose of world peace, yes; but for the purpose of common protection, against whom? Therein lie the seeds of disunity in the world to-day. I will now proceed to his third and fifth points:We should not abandon our special relationship with the United States and Canada about the atomic bomb, and we should aid the United States to guard this weapon as a sacred trust for the maintenance of peace… Fifthly, and this, I take it, is already agreed, we should make atomic bombs, and have them here, even if manufactured elsewhere, in suitable safe storage with the least possible delay." —(OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 1303–4)Against whom? For what purpose? Start that tremendous destructive weapon and you do not know when the moving finger moves. What horrors it will bring, and all that we can do is to start another one in revenge. I am glad that the declaration has abandoned the advice that was tendered from that bench on the last 635 occasion when we were discussing foreign policy. What occurred to me was this: supposing the position had been reversed. Supposing it was Russia that had first discovered this, and had used it for the complete destruction of Berlin and other German cities, and then had said, "We will preserve it to ourselves as a sacred trust, but," in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, "we will continue to manufacture it, we will increase its power and we will put it in safe storage for some day to come." The advice which was tendered to the Prime Minister by the right hon. Gentleman from the Opposition before he left for America would have been entirely different from that which he gave.
I do not want in any way to criticise this declaration, but there has already been a criticism of it made by the Prime Minister himself when he spoke this afternoon. The Commission propose to abolish the use of atomic energy for the destruction of mankind, and also of all weapons which lead to mass destruction. I was glad to note that the Prime Minister went further, when he gave utterance this afternoon to what is also my desire, that there should ultimately be abolition of all weapons of destruction and that the world itself should become like the people of this country, subservient to the rule of law, nobody carrying with him any weapon of destruction but all being subservient to the authority to which we have all bowed and to which we have surrendered our own individual sovereignty.
The cost of war is, as we all know, illimitable and immeasurable, in the agony, sorrow and misery that it causes not only for one generation but for many generations. Peace also has its price, but the price is not heavy. It would be a small premium to pay for the abolition of war. It would merely be the surrender of national sovereignty. Unfortunately, during the last 150 years too much emphasis has been laid upon antagonistic nationalism, which has led to disruption, jealousy and, ultimately, to war. Men ought to be able to appeal to the commonman everywhere to surrender this national sovereignty and to do away also with all the barriers which divide us. Do away with all those man-made difficulties of communicating with other men. Let us 636 share the benefits that Nature has provided in the world. If this were done and if we could look upon the world, which is now getting smaller and smaller, as one world with one people, subject to one rule, we should have accomplished more in our time than all the generations which have preceded us.
I would end on this note: If we are to ask Russia to be frank with us, let us in return be completely frank and open with her. I am not sure that there is not, here and now, a political antagonism with regard to Russia that rather blinds the outlook of some people. I wish that that could end and one could realise that the safety and the general liberty of man throughout the world lie in complete frankness, friendship and understanding.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
While looking at a dictionary the other day, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I turned up the word "maiden," a word which I need hardly say has been on my mind rather a long time. I discovered to my surprise and enlightenment that in Scotland, the word "maiden" meant a machine, like a. guillotine, used for beheading persons. I then recalled what was said the other day by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). He wished that a guillotine might be set up on the Floor of this House so that he could behead hon. Members opposite. I also wish at this moment, my feelings are such, that the hon. Member for West Fife were operating upon me. It is in that mood that I ask for the indulgence and the consideration of the House during this, my first, speech in this House.
During my adult life I have passed through two major wars, not to mention one which took place when I was an infant, "mewling and puking" in my nurse's arms—the South African War. In the first great war I served first in the ranks, and then as a subaltern in the Royal Field Artillery. It was at a place called La Bassee that I first, almost with a blinding flash of conversion, realised the futility of war—not its horrors, I had realised them in no small measure before. Looking across towards La Bassee, a grim, grey, deserted place, I felt the absolute nonsense and futility of a young man having to sit cooped up there in an old brewery chimney, day after day, week after week, and month after month, going through a performance of that kind.
637 It was then that I began to take an interest in how war could be eliminated from this earth. I sent home, and they sent back to me a book by a very distinguished Member of this House, then Mr. F. E. Smith, on "International Law." The book was written, I think, during his first years at the Bar when he was a briefless barrister.
I came back and I studied international law at the University. My interest in international law has gone on from that day. My interest took me naturally to the League of Nations Union, and I became the chairman of a branch with over 1,000 members. There was a section of people interested in these matters before the last war, but they were not sufficient in number. You may recall a film and a play by Noel Coward, called, I think, "This Happy Breed." The film depicts a man, who might be called the hero of the film, who whenever some danger threatened from the Continent and the tramp of foreign armies grew nearer and nearer to this country, was to be seen digging, digging in his own little garden. That was a tragic comment upon the march of events and also upon the lack of interest taken by the common man between the wars in this profound subject. If interest is not taken in it in the future, it will bring this civilisation to an end.
The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) has described the recent war as the most unnecessary war in history. Perhaps it would not be impertinent if I were to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the right hon. Gentleman. That war could have been stopped by an enlightened foreign policy between 1919 and 1939, but we did not have it and we drifted month by month and year by year towards war. We advocated in the League of Nations that war should be put behind us and that a system of collective security should be built up. We were called sentimentalists and idealists by many of those who occupied the benches supporting the Government in the last Parliament, and who now, I am glad to say, are no longer with us. They laughed at us and called us warmongers. Events have shown that we were right and they, were wrong.
I found in my constituency, the Crewe Division of Cheshire, during the Election a very great deal of interest in this 638 matter of foreign politics. People came and listened. When I mention Crcwe many people remember the dreary railway station, but I like to point out that my constituency contains some lovely Cheshire farms which produce delightful Cheshire cheese. I would like to mention Nantwich also, which is a town of beauty and industrial importance. We have also many fine industrial factories waiting to do useful work when they can be set in motion.
We demand that out of this war should come a world organisation which will end war. We have now the United Nations Organisation, and we have the Charter which we ratified in August, but almost before the ink on the Charter was dry, the atomic bomb had made it-out of date. The atomic bomb is with us, and we cannot put that genie back in the bottle, much as we should like to do so. It is out, and it will stay out, and it is no use pretending that it is not there. It must be controlled. If we do not control it, we shall perish. Gone are our frontiers. Gone the famous "Ditch," to save us this time. In prewar days it was Hitler who took the initiative on the international stage. I hope it will not be thought presumptuous of me to congratulate our Prime Minister upon taking the initiative in this great matter.
It is a happy beginning, but logic demands even more than this Statement. The words of the Statement include these:Atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction should be eliminated.I would that those words were: "all offensive weapons of any kind whatsoever." People are interested. They demand now the establishment of the rule of law throughout the world. We must go on and establish a supernational authority. Absolute sovereignty must go. It is too dangerous a doctrine, with atomic bombs about. Many times in its long history this country has assumed the moral leadership of the world. I appeal to our Prime Minister, and I know I shall not plead in vain, to lead the world to peace. We believe he can do it. We have the utmost faith and confidence in him. We appeal for a declaration by this Government on the following lines:That this great country of ours is willing to limit its own national sovereignty. That 639 we are willing to make a contribution to the establishment of an international police force; that this country is willing to submit all disputes to the arbitrament of the Permanent Court of Justice and, in the case of non-justifiable disputes, that we are ready to set up some kind of international equity tribunal to settle disputes which cannot be dealt with by the Permanent Court.The Prime Minister has approached the United States of America. We appeal to him now to carry on the good work and, either alone or in conjunction with the President of the United States, to go out to win Russia. Russia is deeply suspicious. We on this side of the House are as conscious as hon. Members on the other side of the House of certain features of the Russian State that we do not like any more than they do. But if we are to live in this world we must win the confidence of Russia, and I appeal to the Prime Minister to go out and seek Russia. She is suspicious and wary, almost childlike, but I believe that our Prime Minister is big enough to win her confidence. Social progress, which we believe in, depends upon the elimination of national armaments; we cannot go on with these vast swollen budgets for war-like purposes if we are to achieve the good of the common man.
This year is the tercentenary of the death of Hugo Grotius, the father of international law. Three hundred years ago he had written his great work, "De jure belli et pacis," and it would be a fine monument to him if, in his tercentenary, we abandoned national sovereignty. If we did that, this year or next year, we could build the super-national state. Then we might prove that Shakespeare's view of man was too gloomy a view, when he said:Man, proud man ! Drest in a little brief authority—Most ignorant of what he's most assured, His glassy essence, —like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, As make the angels weep.May we be spared from the last great fantastic trick of suicide by atomic bomb.
§ 5.49 P.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I am very pleased to have what I am afraid has become a conventional task, which in my mouth on this occasion is not at all conventional although it is difficult to find new words in which to utter it, of congratulating the hon. Gen- 640 tleman who has just resumed his seat upon the mode and matter of his utterance. If your ears had ever been open to frivolity, Mr. Speaker, you might remember a song which I used to hear, about the poor lady who complained to the conductor that she wanted to go to Birmingham but there she was at Crewe. When that song was sung, I could never understand why she wanted to go to Birmingham, but now I can even less understand why she complained at having got to Crewe.
I am sorry that none of the Liberals are present. We all listened with great assiduity and attention to their leader, who attracted a concourse to support him, although none of them were able to last to the end of the next speech in spite of its excellence. Being by nature, I am afraid, a controversial sort of man—which may be forgiveable in a debating Chamber—I should have rather liked, being precluded by our normal courtesies from taking litigiously the speaker immediately before me, to begin by referring to some of the phrases and aspirations of the heir to Gladstone; but perhaps the task has become rather otiose and I will pass to other things.
I am unfortunate altogether because the next thing I should have liked to do—and I think I still shall—is to offer a word of consolation and encouragement to my right hon. Friend who spoke from the Front Bench on this side. I think he may sometimes have been tempted to suspect me of thinking some of his hopes futile, and even a few of them unwholesome, but he expressed one hope today about which I think I may reassure him. He said that his hope was for a world in which nation would no longer fight with nation. That was the world to which he wished to go. That is the world to which he is going. That is the world to which we are all going. We all owe to God a debt, and when we have paid it, the reward we get is security. Every time we assume that we are going to get that before we have paid the debt, we make it more likely that we shall get the extreme of insecurity.
One of the silver linings of war, apparently, through all its horrors—and nobody has disliked them, or been more frightened of them than I have, between the wars and during the wars—seems to be its power to make eloquence come almost without ex-cogitation, and agreement 641 without the slightest effort. I have noticed today that almost all speakers have agreed about almost everything. I am very sorry to break in upon this harmony, but I am bound to utter my profound sense that the gravity of the situation in which we now find ourselves has not been anything like indicated in any of the speeches so far delivered; nor do I believe that the remedies proposed or implied by any of the speakers have been the right remedies. I fully understand that to begin a speech with an utterance of that sort is to expose one's flank to an almost, or quite, mortal accusation of pretentiousness. [Interruption.] I do it however with no intention to claim any rightness for myself, and if the hon. Gentleman opposite whoso flow of facetiousness runs almost continuously wishes to deviate for a moment into explicit wit—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
—let him do so and I will do my best to answer. If not, perhaps he could now and then be silent for a few consecutive seconds. There was one point on which I did agree with almost all previous speakers. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister himself used the phrase, not only today but in Washington and in his Canadian speech, when he put in the forefront the necessity for the Rule of Law. I agree very profoundly that the Rule of Law is what we must get back to, but I would disagree about what the words mean and about the way to get back.
Before I come more explicitly to that point, may I say a few words about the atom bomb. I believe it a mistake to assume—we have already heard a little of it, and I hope we shall not have much —that we can induce peace by frightening people with the horrors of war. I am sure that we cannot; it tends to work the other way. Time after time between the wars people used to come to Cambridge to address undergraduates and say that the next war would destroy civilisation, that gas would permeate blocks of concrete, and so on. That never stops war; there is always someone who thinks he will win quickly and not suffer the horrors. There is also the danger, I think, that it tends to make young people feel, perhaps unconsciously, that they would in some senses welcome war. High- 642 spirited little boys do not commonly say, "Daddy, I perceive that bank clerks escape the rigours of the weather, therefore I want to be a bank clerk"; they generally say, "I want to be a soldier"—or a cowboy, or pirate or something of the kind. There is a great danger that they will see in the tests of endurance and courage imposed by war a challenge to face the most difficult things rather than a deterrent prospect of the most horrible things. Horror propaganda has a psychological effect the opposite of that intended, and war is not the worst that can happen to us.
I think it is a mistake, if I may say so with respect to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to assume that modern wars are more destructive than old wars. It would be rather a metaphysical calculation to work it out, but I very much doubt whether it is true. It is far quicker to rebuild a factory or a machine than it is to replant fig trees and olive trees, and I doubt very much whether it is true that the atom bomb, in that sense, makes things very much worse. Nor do I feel quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman's argument about gas led the way he intended. If the Germans, he said, had thought gas would pay them, they would have used it; so it would be with the atom bomb, which had made war totalitarian for good. I do not know, and I would not venture to prophesy, but I think it may be argued the other way. Both sides had gas but neither side dared to use it, because neither side felt sure enough, and the same thing may prove to be true of atom bombs. It may prove that atom bombs will be the means of getting away from total war. It may prove that total war was compatible with the human mind only so long as it was not felt to be destructive beyond a certain point. It may be that the next wars are going to be indirect wars, and in some respects like the old wars used to be. They used to be for a specific point; if you lost the war, you surrendered that point, but you were not utterly destroyed. We have seen such wars in our time, but not fought openly. Russia and Germany fought such a war, in Spain. They fought a limited and not a total war; the liability of the contestants was limited, and it is just conceivable that the atom bomb may lead to a similar kind of thing. I do not put this forward as the most probable theory. All I do 643 is to beg hon. Gentlemen not to make easy assumptions about the effect of the atom bomb, and above all not easily to take it for granted that technical changes, even of the utmost magnitude, make in the long run very much difference to the great human problems. I believe that that is the safest way to approach it.
§ Captain Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
Both Britain and America, who are surely the most honourable belligerents in the world, have in fact used the atomic bomb not once but twice. It is a little remarkable to suppose that other and presumably more dis-honourable belligerents will refrain, on humanitarian grounds, from doing what we ourselves have already done.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
That was not really an interruption, it was a short debating speech, and one cannot give way to every hon. Member who wants to make a short debating speech by way of interruption. I did not suggest it would be on humanitarian grounds; what I suggested was that it might be thought not clear enough that it would pay either side to begin using it. I think that is a possible result. Whether we ought to have used the bomb or not, this is not the time or place to debate that, but I confess to the hon. Member that I am dubious about it. On the regulation of the atomic bomb, I have two suggestions to make to His Majesty's Government. I do not know anything about science, I know very little about bombs, but I do know a great-deal about scientists. I have lived my life among them, and I have known with very particular intimacy some of the scientists who had most to do with this, and particularly the one who had most of all to do with it. I have talked time and again about this problem, even before the war began, when the thing was already in the offing.
The two suggestions I make are these. There is almost certainly no hope of controlling the manufacture of atomic bombs, and very little of controlling the use of them except by the conceivably political consents that have been indicated. Two things are possibly helpful and on the first, I am sure, everybody will agree. The first is that we must have maximum freedom and openness in scientific investigation and in communication 644 between scientists. You are a great deal more likely that way to know what is happening and to be able to take your precautions than you will be by thinking you can get two of the best scientists and shut them up, literally or metaphorically until they have put you a couple of jumps ahead of other Powers. It would be the grossest mistake if we started to try to control scientists in that sense.
I hope that will carry universal agreement. On my second suggestion agreement may not be so universal. I think it just possible we might be able to get an international authority which could control the raw material. As I understand it, at present there are only two—one far more important than the other—elements which can be used for this purpose; and as far as the best opinion can guess, it is not likely to be in a very short time or without previous warning that other elements will be added to that list. Therefore, it is only two elements that you have to watch. I suggest that if there is any hope of international organisation in this matter, the proper line of approach is by an international office with absolute rights of inspection anywhere and everywhere, particularly in mines and geological surveys, and the keeping of continuous accounts of how much uranium and thorium there is at a given moment in each country, so that when stocks go up or down, inquiry may be made about what is happening.
Almost every hon. Member who has spoken so far has said that this is a new era. I think I am right in saying there have been 17 new eras since I came into the House. And almost everybody has agreed that we now have got and are getting a much better peace settlement than any previous one, including Vienna. That seems to me very remarkable. Vienna, after all, gave the world 100 years of peace and the greatest age of prosperity in human history. What peace it is or what conference it is, now, which is being favourably compared with the conference of Vienna and its work, I simply cannot understand.
I beg hon. Gentlemen to think twice before they go on spouting this stuff about such and such a thing being the last hope of civilisation. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) went to San Francisco, he said the San Francisco 645 Conference was the last hope of civilisation. I make a safe bet: if any hon. Member went over to St. Stephen's Tavern, to the four ale bar or the saloon, and asked the first eight people he saw in the bar there what the San Francisco Conference did, not one of them would have the foggiest notion. Whatever it actually did, it was not such a success that we can hang on it civilisation.
Civilisation is not going to be destroyed by the atomic bomb or by any other mechanical contrivance or scientific discovery. One thing only can destroy civilisation—that is, if there is a wide enough practice of using words in senses which they cannot bear, or of cherishing sentiments which you really have not got. If either or both of those practices spread very much further, then in my judgment civilisation will be tottering upon the edge of the abyss. Nobody is more frightened of bombs than I am. I had my first serious experience of bombs when I was already painfully wounded; I was in a tent and they came every morning, and I used to lie awake at night crying in fear of the next morning's bombing. Do not think that I underestimate bombs, but above all do not think that bombs arc going to destroy civilisation, whatever they do to you or me. I feel sure they will not.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister told us that the United Nations Organisation is only in its cradle. I think it is very important to remember that it is only in its cradle. It is not an illegitimate baby, but like a famous illegitimate baby, it is so far a very little one, and it has not, so far, shown any inclination to strangle serpents from the cradle. It is only in the cradle and when the Prime Minister tells us that we want something more than agreement between Governments, we surely may remind ourselves that we want not less than agreement between Governments; and that it is no agreement to persuade two or three or more Governments to put their signatures to forms of words to which they do not severally attach the same meaning. Lately, the most respectable and even—they are more or less identical—the basest of our newspapers have been occasionally indicating that the word "democracy" and the word "freedom" are sometimes used in different senses according to the longitude. We should stop talking about 646 "like-minded." I am myself of Mr. Molotov's mind. Volumes of Mr. Molotov's speeches have been published in this country more than once, and the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) wrote a most amusing preface to one volume, which I commend to the House. Mr. Molotov has more than once in his speeches taken the line that you must not try to approach foreign politics with the Left-Right dichotomy in your mind. Your business is to have such friends abroad that your country is not likely to be involved in war and if it is, is sure to win quickly; and whether the Italians are Fascists or the Germans Nazis is not your main business. I am sure Mr. Molotov is right, and that the proper way to deal with foreign affairs is on the basis of the interests of your own country in its relation with other countries regarded as entities and not according to your guess whether they arc Left or Right.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
Is it the hon. Gentleman's contention that Mr.Molotov has stated that it makes no difference whether the Germans were Nazis or not, and it is indifferent to him whether he is dealing with a Nazi regime or something else? If so, when did he say that?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The book is published by Lawrence and Wishart, and has a preface by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith. I will give the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) the quotation if he likes. It has been made plain and clear. More than once by official spokesman, including Mr. Molotov, they have enunciated that theory—I do not pretend to be able to quote the exact words—and I have many quotations here, but I do not want to stop to find them, in the sense that it is a gross piece of nursery politics to say, "How can you possibly have an understanding with the Italians, because they are Fascists, or with the Germans, because they are Nazis? "
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
Even though the hon. Gentleman proposes to join the CommunistParty, does he still maintain it is a matter of indifference to us that Germany was Nazi before the last war, in view of the fact that that produced the last war?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not think you, Mr. Speaker, would like me to explain to the 647 House what I think produced the last war. It would take a long time. Of course, nobody suggests it does not matter what is the regime in other countries. Of course it matters
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I said nothing of the sort. I said it was a gross mistake and a piece of nursery politics to suppose that ought to be a decisive factor in deciding your alliances, friendships, and suspicions in international politics. I am certain that is true.
§ Mr. King (Penryn and Falmouth)
Is the hon. Member speaking for his party, and in that case would he be willing to enter into an alliance with a Nazi or Fascist country?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not think there is again likely to be, by that name, a Nazi or Fascist country—[Hon. Members: "Spain."] This is not an Election platform. It is certain that this country has found it in the past, finds it now, and will in the future frequently find it, necessary to be allied with countries whose political philosophy and regimes are extremely different from ours. Of that there is no doubt whatever. I do not think I can go into that matter any further. The rule of law, I am quite sure, is what has got to be established before there is any hope, but I am quite sure that the rule of law cannot be established by the means indicated by the two Front Benches. I am quite sure that not without infinitely, or almost infinitely, more discussion than we have yet had, and infinitely more understanding than we now have, of national sovereignty, what is involved in it and what would be involved in giving it up, can it be proper for us to give up any-national sovereignty. There is, I think, a misunderstanding in this matter. The champions of national sovereignty are such not because they are racialists, as indeed, in the main, they have not been, not because they are aggressive or aggressionists, as again, in the main, they have not been—the reason is this, that the object in human society is to get within one system of compulsion, one sovereignty, the maximum number of people who do agree about their fundamental vocabulary.
648 If you get into one nominal society enough people who disagree about the fundamentals of their vocabulary, the result is that you are really using more force than you needed to do under the old system, of national sovereignty; and what happens next? What heppens next is civil war. What happened in the United States in the day when the two halves of the country did not agree upon the fundamentals of their vocabulary, when they did not attach the same meanings to the same fundamental words, about which they felt deeply? The result was a bloody war, one of the bloodiest. It is no use thinking that we are going to get the desired result simply by juggling with sounds. We have got to revive respect for law with a capital "L." I think everybody understands that.
Here we have had the greatest victory in history, the most complete strategic successes in history have been won by us and our Allies. What happens next? We were told a year ago by the then Prime Minister that when the war with Germany ended, the transition to peace would begin. Has the transition to peace begun yet? [An Hon. Member: "Yes."] Well, it is very difficult to perceive, if you look out at Europe. 1 admit that is a difficult thing to do, but, when you read all you can of foreign newspapers and talk as much as you can with people who have come back, it is very difficult to be assured of that. I will suggest, and particularly to right hon. Gentlemen opposite—I do not blame them any more than I blame the right hon. Gentleman in front of me, but if the thing goes on much longer they will be blamed—I suggest to them that even now we have not imagined the horrors in Europe, that, for instance, it may be wrong, but it is not unreasonable, to say that every baby less than a year old in Germany east of Berlin is going to die this winter—[Hon. Members: "No"] —Well, I hope it is an exaggeration, but I say it is widely feared and the fears are not wholly unreasonable. The fact is. that, all over Europe now, there are people not doing things because they have no sense of predictability in their minds. They do not know where they will be next year or what the law will be next' year; and There is going to be a terrific swing to extreme authoritarianism if people are not careful. I am sure hon.
649 Gentlemen opposite, with one or two exceptions, will not like it at all if that swing comes along, whether it is Communist or Rightist, nor do I believe that it would be in the interests of the people of this country.
Europe has largely lost faith in law as a practical, immediate system; and our business it is to revive that faith as an idea and possibility, and that is one of the reasons, and there are several, why I personally rather regret the system of trials which is now going on. People like the right hon. Gentleman who used to be the Attomey-Gcneral or like Lord Justice Wright are obviously honester men than me, abler men than me and obviously more competent about law. I mean exactly what I say, and when they feel sure that it is all right, I find it very difficult to believe that I am better advised then they, but I am bound to say that I find it also difficult to agree. Law, in the ordinary sense and in the ordinary man's understanding of it, is that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, the rules of evidence, the fact that one must not be brought up for doing something which, at the time one did it, one could not have know to be penal—this sort of rule of law now seems to me to be going by the board. It places a very difficult duty upon His Majesty's Government to continue that process, and, at the same time, to revive Europe's faith in law and in the predictability of what will be done to one by public force, because the want of that, far more than physical destruction by bombs, is what is standing in the way even of the economic rehabilitation of Europe.
§ Flying-Officer Lever (Manchester, Exchange)
Will the hon. Gentleman assist me to follow his argument? Do I understand him to say that, in the case of the international trials, he does not want Goering and Co. punished for their offences of murder, rape and looting because they had no reason to suppose that they were penal at the time they arranged these crimes?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am grateful for the interruption. It reminds me of a distinction I meant to make. The murder, rape and so on is one thing—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The Debate is on the Motion for the Adjournment and the discussion is quite in Order.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Further to that point of Order. It was ruled by Mr. Speaker this morning that the International Court would have the same rights as a British court, and, as a British court is not discussable in this House, is there any reason why the International Court should be?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
There is some difficulty and in view of that, may I ask the hon. Member not to pursue this matter further?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I did not mean to say anything in any way critical of any international court of justice; or any member of one, but this House is not precluded from asking what is or is not punishable, even under our own courts. I know I have been a long time, and I am sorry, but I cannot for one moment admit that I have said a word out of order on any ruling. I come back to the difficult task before the Government if they are to build up this Rule of Law. The fundamental thing about the rule of law is that people should feel that there is some objective standard by which things are judged, and that they are not judged at the convenience of party or race, that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and that, if a Chilean is run in for bigamy, an Argentinian cannot get away with two. That is one most important part of the rules of law which we must, somehow, get restarted in Europe; and this is all the more difficult because of these courts, however necessary.
Perhaps the next important point about the Rule of Law is the notion that contracts should be kept. I have forgotten which speaker it was earlier who spoke of the great men the war had thrown up—great enough to deal with all these immense difficulties, some of whom had passed on—demised, either naturally or politically—but still, the hon. Member said, their work lives on. Well, I do not know; some of their work goes on, no doubt. But does Yalta, does Casablanca, the Atlantic Charter, live on? Which bits of them live on? Which of us really think 651 that, in the countries of Europe there really has been or is going to be at once freedom or democracy, in the pre-war English sense, in the setting up of Governments now? I would like to read an extract from one of the weekly news papers. I will not say which one. Hoi! Members may guess which:In Austria, preparations are being made for the elections. The three permitted parties are the Communists, Socialists and People's Party—the last-named being Catholic. … Other and smaller groups, some of them with a 'monarchist' tinge, have asked permission to contest the elections. It remains to be seen whether such permission will be granted. All this give the impression that Austria is really once again an independent and sovereign State.What would anyone have thought that that meant in 1939? We should have thought the compositors had all gone off their heads. Perhaps I might ask the Minister of State a question, because he told us, in an earlier Debate, though I have not got the quotation here, that it was quite true that certain parties were not allowed to take part in a certain country—I think it was Poland—but that members of those parties might, if they liked, join the parties which were allowed to take part and thus be enabled to play their part. And the right hon. Gentleman who sits next to him also made a speech in which he said there were certain countries in Europe where democratic regimes had been set up, and that His Majesty's Government was going to see that propaganda against those governments was suppressed. Whether it was going to be suppressed, in their own country or in this country, did not seem to me to be at all clear. I am not singling out these two as being more reactionary or nonsensical than the average of political discussion at the present time. What I am trying to say is that, if you take the prewar meanings of English words, sentences like that make nonsense of words like "law," "liberty," and "democracy."
§ Major Wilkes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
I have no wish to prolong the hon. Gentleman's speech, but I should like to ask why he presents such an ill-balanced picture, drawing no attention at all to precisely the same, or even worse, conditions, prevailing in Portugal or Spain from the standpoint of democracy, and drawing little attention to his 652 own past advocacy and support of Fascism.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is supposed to be asking a question, not making a speech.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The hon. and gallant Gentleman asserts my advocacy of Fascist regimes. I challenge him or anyone else to produce any evidence that I was ever anything but the extremist and bitterest opponent of Fascism or anything like it. I challenge him to ask his own Front Bench whether that is not true. We have had the same sort of abuse of words in Yugoslavia, and I apologise for returning to Yugoslavia. It is very difficult to get hon. Members of this House extremely interested in Yugoslavia, or in the Portuguese, the Greeks or the Basques. I fully understand that, but we have a duty in this matter. I believe it to be an immense moral duty, and I believe that, unless we are evidently seen to have made every effort to discharge it, that duty will prove an immense political burden upon our shoulders as long as anybody in this Chamber survives. I could bring very recent quotations from the "Soviet War News," or whatever it calls itself today, to say that the whole Yugoslav people stood up; they stood up in response to invitations from British Cabinet Ministers, one of whom broadcast in Serbo-Croat. They were told by the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition that they had found their souls. They were unanimous. Of course not every Yugoslav was there—Josif Broz for instance—but the point that I wish to make is that what these Yugoslavs did was heroism which even in the melodramatic times we have lived through is difficult to describe without excessive emotion.
We made all sorts of promises. We renewed these promises quite frequently. This people's war against the invader got complicated, and I do not attempt to say whose fault it was, but the fault was certainly not 100 against nothing but was more likely 49 against 51, but I repeat their war against two invaders got complicated with a civil war, and then we decided to choose and to support one side and one side only. The result now is that one side and one side only is in control of the country and the whole management of the elections in that country, and 653 after months of the strictest management of rations and employment. It may have been necessary, strategically necessary, but do not let us pretend that what has happened in Yugoslavia is something Democratic, Free, Lawful, the sort of thing that we went to war for. If we permit ourselves to fall into that hypocrisy, the more contemptible because it deceives no one except ourselves, if we permit ourselves to fall into that hypocrisy we shall never be able to claim allies on the continent of Europe within any measurable time. And I think the same thing could be said about other countries, as about Yugoslavia.
That is as much, I think, as I ought to say. I am bound to confess that I have been long and disjointed. I hope that I have not failed to express what seems to me to be the main point necessary for emphasis at this time. Unless we are prepared to believe in. the old Law, it is no use our talking about some sort of supra-national law and state; if we are not prepared to stand by Law we ought not to pretend that there is Law where there is no Law. Unless we can get it clear in our heads, so clear that we cannot mislead ourselves and if we find it necessary to lie, we know what we are doing, without that we shall find in my judgment that despite all these immense victories, we are going on and on with this unexampled spectacle of futility, having to our credit the greatest military victories in history, and nowhere anything like peace or even the preparation for peace.
§ Mrs. Ayrton Gould (Hendon, North)
I wish to add my thanks to the Prime Minister for taking the rigorous journey he did, an order to try to help us to win a real peace. I have listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), and to my immense surprise there was one point he made with which I agreed. That point was on the question of scientists being allowed freely to share their knowledge. I had not intended to get up this afternoon until I heard what the Prime Minister said about the decision that had been made about the atomic bomb. Of course I entirely agree, as every sensible person must, that the only possible chance of peace in the future is that of good will and of the complete outlawry of all means of warfare, particularly this hideous new one that has just been discovered. But I am 654 much concerned about the mistake that I feel is being made in trying to keep information from other countries, especially Russia, which is in any case going to get that information. I rather believe that Russia already has that information. The reason I am certain of this is that I think the whole question, the build up of scientific discovery, has been wrongly interpreted by both Front Benches. At the last Debate on foreign policy there was the suggestion, first from the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and then from the Foreign Secretary—although it was more of an implication than a suggestion—that if the scientific knowledge of the atom bomb got to countries other than the three who already had it, it would be because scientists had betrayed their trust and had almost committed treason.
I am not a scientist myself, but I am the daughter of two scientists, and I was brought up in a home where nothing but physics were discussed—[Interruption.] I do not mean medicine but I mean the science of physics. My home was the one to which Madame Curie always came when visiting this country, and it is because I know something about the scientific build-up' that I am speaking this afternoon. Now and then scientific discoveries are made by mistake. Actually, radium was discovered by mistake. One of my earliest memories is Madame Curie explaining how, when experimenting, she had not been looking for radium at all. She had been looking for something quite different in pitch blende and when she was asked why she called it radium, she said: "Parceque ga rayonne"—because it shines. That is how the whole build-up started and has ended, most unfortunately in my view, in the atomic bomb. As the Prime Minister suggested this afternoon, there is hope that before very long atomic energy may be used in industry. It may be a very considerable time. I would remind the House that it was a very long time since dynamite was discovered, but never yet have we managed to harness dynamite for construction. It is perfectly true that it is used in industry, but always as a blasting destructive force. We have never yet found how to use it as a constructive force.
What has happened about atomic energy. Various scientists from various countries started to work on the problem which is, I suggest, what always happens on every scientific problem. When 655 Madame Curie came to study radium, every scientist interested in the same problem was asked to come to the house, quite irrespective of the nationality to which he belonged, and they talked into the early hours on the particular problem of radium, pooling their knowledge in order to help each other secure more knowledge on the subject. Exactly the same thing must have happened and indeed I know it has happened, on atomic energy. There has been a great build up by scientists of various nations, including the Russians, pooling their knowledge which, when the structure was completed, resulted, as it were, in one flag being put at the top and that flag was the atomic bomb. In that build up various people of various nations acquired a great deal of information. Incidentally it was a Russian scientist, a distinguished chemist, who first brought "heavy water" from Paris to London and that is how it came into this country.
A number of distinguished Russian scientists who have been working on atomic energy have now gone back to their own country, and Ibelieve others belonging to other countries who have been working on it have gone there as well. Therefore if they have not already discovered the whole secret of the atomic bomb already, they are well on the way to it, and in every country that is large enough to spend money on it there must be experiments going on atomic energy. While such experiments are going on, they cannot even tell whether the discoveries are going to be along the lines of destruction or construction until those experiments are finally completed. It can therefore only be a very short time before the Russians, who have great scientists, secure the whole secret of the atomic bomb. I want to say that we are not doing any good in attempting to protect this secret because it can only be a few months before it is in the possession of other nations.
I know it has been argued that peace can only be maintained by keeping and protecting this secret, but that is not the way peace can be maintained. I would suggest, and I think it is a perfectly practical suggestion and a realistic one, that we would do very much better in not destroying the confidence which exists at present. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington 656 (Mr. Eden) spoke of the way confidence between Russia and this country had been destroyed. We all know in this- House, as the Prime Minister mentioned, how very difficult Russia has been but in order to gain Russia's confidence we have got also to give them confidence. It is a supreme necessity and of supreme value that we should gain their confidence. We cannot hold this secret because it is not possible, and because in attempting to do it we are weakening the possibility of securing confidence between the nations, the confidence which is necessary to enable us to build the real peace which the United Nations Organisation was set up to achieve. I want to suggest that, in order that we may get the only possible atmosphere to enable us to achieve peace, we should not go on insisting, for the brief time available to us, on withholding from Russia, and from other big nations that may be working on it, the secret of the atomic bomb.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
I always feel that it is a little presumptuous for one who made his own maiden speech a few months ago to take it upon himself to congratulate a fellow Member who has just suffered that ordeal, but I am quite certain it was no ordeal to the hon. Lady the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould) who has just resumed her seat. She spoke with a profound knowledge of the subject before the House today. To a large extent she was above my head and I was out of my depth, but anyone who speaks with personal knowledge of the subject which the House is discussing is sure of the ear of this House, and there is no doubt that the hon. Lady had it today and it is certain that she will command it on future occasions when she addresses us.
It may appear a little affected or a little unseemly that the Junior Burgess for Cambridge University should be called so soon after the Senior Burgess of that University (Mr. Pickthorn). That is a result of no collusion but simply of your own wise ordering, Mr. Speaker, and I do not commit myself necessarily to agreeing with every word which mysenior colleague has said; he has his views and I have mine on various subjects, but I profoundly agree with him on two things he said tonight. The first was that we shall not advance this Debate, or any Debate 657 like this, by mere facile phrases about good will, or even the rule of law; we have to face hard facts, and some of them are very hard, and we have to take a perfectly dispassionate and objective view about them. The other point on which I profoundly agree with him is that the situation in the world today is a great deal graver than some speakers in this Debate have suggested.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister used one phrase which was meant to be reassuring but seemed to me to have a slightly sinister ring about it. He said that after all we are assured of peace over large spaces of the world today; it was unthinkable that there should be war between any of the British Dominions; it was unthinkable that there should be war between any of the British Dominions and the United States of America. And there the right hon. Gentleman stopped. I have no doubt that, if he had been pressed, he would have gone a little further, but I think it is probably a good thing that he stopped where he did, because to stop a little further on might be even more significant than to have stopped at the particular point which he chose. This is a very grave situation and they were very momentous matters which the Prime Minister and his colleagues were discussing at Washington.
I want particularly to address a few brief remarks to the House tonight upon a subject which has already figured in many speeches—the subject of Russia—and I do that because I believe in all seriousness that the question of our relations with Russia today is even more momentous than the question of the atomic bomb and its consequences. 1 say that for this reason: if our relations with Russia are right, then we need not be much concerned about the atomic bomb; if our relations with Russia arcwrong, then the situation is most grave and menacing—atomic bomb or no atomic bomb. In the last general speech he delivered on foreign affairs in this House the Foreign Secretary made one observation which, if 1 may say so with deference, aroused my profound admiration. He said that when he was negotiating with foreign Powers, one thing never entered into his calculation, and that was the atomic bomb; one thing always entered into his calculations, that was how far his policy might further the future policy 658 of the United Nations. Along that line of country I believe we are taking a safe and sure road. But while we have had two subjects before us tonight: the atomic bomb, to which the Prime Minister particularly addressed himself, and the subject of Russia, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) largely addressed himself, I was rather suprised that the connection—the very real and obvious and important connection—between those two subjects was not more emphasised than it was by either of the right hon. Gentlemen.
None of us have been admitted into the secrets of the discussions at Washington, but it is quite certain that during the whole of those discussions one subject must always have haunted the minds of the three participants, and that was the subject of Russia. The Prime Minister said, as I understood him—and indeed we have had the report of the Conference—that it was decided that the secrets of the atomic bomb should only be shared when sufficient confidence has been created in the world to make that safe. But in order to create confidence it is sometimes necessary to show confidence, and to show confidence is often the best way to create confidence. I need not emphasise afresh what has been said about the feelings—the obvious and natural feelings of Russia—in regard to the atomic bomb. They may be unreasonable; I only know that if I were a Russian today I would be unreasonable. It is obvious that this secret has not been withheld merely at this moment; Russia has known during the last two or three years of the war that these experiments were going on and between Allies fighting shoulder to shoulder this secret was not shared. It is no doubt true that Russia has plenty of reticences on her own conscience, but that is hardly reason for her to be satisfied that her own Allies should keep silence on this all-important subject.
What I feel peculiarly tonight is that we have to apply ourselves, as far as we can, not merely to an understanding with Russia in the sense of agreement, but to an understanding of Russia in the sense of comprehension, and it is idle to suppose that it will be easy. It is very difficult indeed to understand Russia. We do not know enough about Russia. That is very largely Russia's fault. So far as we do possess the knowledge, it 659 is very difficult often to know how to interpret it. An hon. Gentleman from the other side said that we must go out and seek Russia. Well, let us go out and seek her now by all means, but one cannot predict what the result will be because that does not depend on us alone. Let us try to grapple Russia to our souls with hoops of steel but, unless she submits herself to that operation willingly —and there are few signs of that so far—we shall not get very far. Russia is the great interrogation mark, a multiple interrogation mark in foreign politics today, and there are two or three questions we need to ask ourselves the answer to which will very largely determine the policy to be pursued towards that great country. It is idle for me to attempt to give answers to the questions I am going to put, but I respectfully put them to the Foreign Secretary in the hope that when he replies to this Debate tomorrow he may say something in regard to one of two of them.
We want first of all—at any rate, I want—to know what it is that Russia really wants in the world, to what her foreign policy is directed. We want to know why she is adopting the characteristic attitude that she has been adopting in certain discussions. I need not particularise further. We all know the difficulties that have arisen, and they are difficulties raised by Russia in a way that they are not raised by this country or the U.S.A. I think we ought to know who or what Russia is for purposes of negotiation. Is it just Marshal Stalin? Is it Mr. Molotov? Is it Kalinin? Is it the army? Do the generals influence foreign policy to any large extent? If we knew with certainty the answers to these questions, we should be able to frame our own foreign policy more clearly.
Finally, what are we going to do about it, and what are the right and effective methods of negotiating with Russia? First of all, briefly, what is it in fact that Russia wants? Are we to infer, as we might from some of her recent actions, that she is out for territorial aggrandisement? Is Russia, in fact, an Imperialist Power? Does the annexation of the Eastern provinces of Poland indicate that? Does her present action in Persia indicate that? Or the action she took earlier in regard to the Baltic States and the desires she has expressed, for example, 660 in regard to Tripolitania? I myself do not believe that Russia is out for territorial aggrandisement; it cannot be supposed that a country which stretches almost from the Vistula to the Pacific Ocean really desires to extend her territories, merely for the sake of extending them. However, that may be, we want some explanation on some aspects of Russian foreign policy.
Is it a question of security, as we are repeatedly told? That perhaps is a more agreeable hypothesis, but it is a very difficult one to accept, for against whom could Russia conceivably want security today? However, we are told from time to time that it is security, and I shall be glad if in due course the Foreign Secretary will tell us whether his opinion is that Russia is genuinely anxious about her security and, if so, from whom she apprehends any kind of aggression. Is it, what is more plausible, a general desire for political dominationv—a desire to establish a kind of informal suzerainty in Eastern Europe? That is a conclusion to which a great many facts seem to point and if that is true, and so far as it is true, it is a little incongruous, as hon. Members have pointed out today, that Russia should be complaining of the formation of a Western bloc in this part of Europe.
Now we are faced with various facts in recent history in foreign politics which emphasise what may be described as the intransigent attitude adopted by Russia in recent discussions—and I think it is of importance to try to discover what the motives of Russia are, because, if we ascribe to her wrong motives, we are likely to develop a wrong policy in response to them. It is not enough to say merely that Russians are Russians or simply that Russians are Communists or, indeed, to say—though the idea is suggestive—with a recent high authority on Russia—that Russia at the present moment is suffering from both an inferiority and a superiority complex. I think that is probably true, but it is not an explanation of everything.
I would like briefly to suggest what, it seems to me, may explain a good deal in Russia's attitude in foreign politics. It traces back to her attitude to home politics. Now it is not necessary to argue tonight whether Russia is an autocracy or an oligarchy. It is not derogatory to her to say that she is either one or the other. Merely for convenience I will use 661 the word "autocracy." It would be a mistake to suppose that an autocracy does not need to court public opinion; it has to support itself with public opinion the whole time. That is the reason why Hitler invented Goebbels and the Gestapo; that is the reason why in Russia the Press is strictly censored and there is, by common consent, a secret police in fairly active operation. It is the essence of an autocracy, curiously enough, by a kind of paradox, that it should always have an opponent; it has to be saving the country from some danger within or without, and if the danger is not real, it sometimes has to be invented, or even created.
If you look back over Russian history in the last 20 years you will find that all the time there has had to be something, either in the country or outside, justifying the existence of the autocrat as the defender of his country against various possible evils. You had, of course, first of all Czarism, against which the revolution was aimed; you had then the external attacks by the White Russians supported by this country and by America—for reasons which I think were perfectly well justified, if it were necessary to justify them. But there was the fact and there was the consequence. You had then the antagonism with Poland; you had then a kind of aggressive propaganda spread over Europe with the Comintern as its main instrument. You had the leaders of Russia who hailed themselves as the preachers of this great gospel to the world. Then you had a new position in Russia, with Trotsky as the enemy, and Stalin the defender against the extreme Left. And so it went on. There was the challenge of what is commonly called Western capitalism, and it must be admitted that on more than one occasion Western capitalism played considerably into the hands of the defenders of Russia. Then, internally, there was the peasant question with the introduction of the collective farms, and the kulaks became the internal enemy. Later there were the treason trials, which are best explained as another demonstration of the dangers residing within Russia and the activity of the men at the head of the country' in defending it from those dangers. Finally, there was the fear of Germany; and last of all the war. The war provided quite sufficient antagonists and opposition, and the leading men in Russia were completely secure.
662 Now we have come to a new situation, and what was possible in war becomes a very different matter in peace. I cannot help thinking that the leaders of Russia, Stalin, Molotov, and so on, feel the necessity of being assertive against some one, and as 'they can no longer be assertive against enemies in the war they have to be assertive against their colleagues in peace. If that is their intention I do not think anyone can complain that they are displaying any laxity in pursuit of it, as I am sure the Foreign Secretary would acknowledge if he were forced to disclose all that was in his secret mind. If that is so we are faced with a rather difficult situation. If I am at all right—and I hope I am wrong—in thinking that the autocrat in any country always has to have some kind of foil, some kind of opponent—and that for the moment Great Britain and America are cast for that role—we are faced with a very difficult situation, and the question is how to get out of it and what to do about it. One obvious question which must exercise the Foreign Secretary continually is whether it is wise in negotiations with Russia to take the line of what I may call, briefly, talking smooth or talking rough, whether to pursue the path of conciliation or to employ towards Russia the language which—quite legitimately—she thinks fit to address to us. In the matter of conciliation, I think it is possible to go a little too far in that direction. An hon. Member of this House who was speaking on the wireless the other night said, if 1 understood him rightly, the fact that we had possession of the Rock of Gibraltar gave Russia reasonable cause to complain of maritime suffocation. If policy is to be carried to that length, I am sure it will end in disaster. Somehow or other, we must disarm Russia's suspicions. I do not share the lightheartedness with which other speakers have referred to this aspect of the matter. I do not profess to be able to instruct the Foreign Secretary how these suspicions are to be disarmed, but unless they are disarmed the world will head straight for disaster.
My own belief is that the best hope is in another conference of the heads of States alone, or of the heads of States with their Foreign Secretaries, because I venture to think that we shall never get. agreement about the atomic bomb unless it can be discussed straightforwardly and objectively across a table. As I visualise 663 It, the mere exchange of diplomatic conversations will do nothing but confirm Russia in her present attitude. I say that even if the conversations are conducted through the medium of our Ambassador in Russia, whom I mention in order to express the view that we are probably better served in Moscow than in any other capital of the world, and I am thankful that that is so. But it does seem to me that the kind of perfectly sensible, straightforward deal which might be made with Russia over this atomic bomb could best be made frankly across a table, or round a table, between our Prime Minister, the President of the United States and Marshal Stalin. I put their opinions before the Foreign Secretary with all deference. It may. be observed that in my few observations I have neither criticised nor eulogised him. If he desires eulogies I have plenty to offer, for I do not think that I dissent from a single word that he has spoken on foreign affairs in any speeches in this House since this Parliament opened; but all I desire to do now is to urge that we in this House should do what we can to show him our sympathy and to assure him of our unbroken support as he faces the immense responsibilities that rest upon him, particularly in this matter of relations with Russia.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Lee (Manchester, Hulme)
I rise to make this my initial speech in this House very conscious of the fact that the question we are now discussing will, probably more than any other, decide the fete of the people not only in this country but throughout the world. Indeed, when we look at our domestic problems and think of the Bills for social security, the building of homes, town planning and so on, we must surely realise that unless we can ensure a permanent peace throughout the whole world that programme, great as it is, becomes absolutely meaningless. I feel that it is altogether good and wholesome that at this time the old idea of a small number of people making the conduct of foreign affairs a profession has gone for ever. Hon. and right hon. Members who have recently been in close contact with people in industry must have been amazed not only by the amount of discussion that goes on but by the exceedingly high quality of the understanding which men and women in the factories have of this 664 tremendously important subject. I agree that that interest has in a large measure been forced upon them because of the life which we have had to face in the last 30 years. Men and women of my generation, who were at school in the last war, have been forced to realise that we have never known peace in the true sense, that either we have lived amid wars or rumours of wars, or been forced to endure the horrors of the aftermath of war as evidenced in unemployment and degradation of every type and description. In that way they have been forced to realise that only by getting a tremendous consensus of opinion in the country can we force any Government to take a realistic point of view in diplomacy with other Governments.
I recall from my reading that at one period when great colliery disasters and so on occurred it was common to dismiss them as acts of God. Those days, fortunately, have gone, and I would submit that just as we have seen that change on the industrial front so there has been a change in the understanding of the people, and that it will no longer be possible to fob off the peoples of this or any other nation with the time-honoured excuses that war was created because of the murder of an archduke, or because the Kaiser would not listen to reason, or because Hitler could not be negotiated with. The people of the country are watching the kind of diplomacy which leads to the position in which we cannot avoid going into war.
In order to take my seat in this House I resigned the chairmanship of what is probably the most powerful works committee in this country. I remember that when my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was created Minister of Labour in the last Government he showed tremendous sagacity by visiting our works committee, as an honoured guest. I do not blame him in the least for realising that the type of counsel and advice he would get from that works committee would stand him in very good stead in the high office which he had taken. I do not claim that the whole of his success was as a result of the counsel we gave him, but obviously we did not lead him far wrong. And, in any case, if any other of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench want to queue up and get me to use my influence to obtain them an invitation to the works committee I will gladly do so. There was another right 665 hon. Gentleman who was in the Coalition Government, who, probably taking a leaf out of my right hon. Friend's book, came to visit us also and we poured words of wisdom into his ears but, unfortunately, the end was not the same. Within three or four weeks he felt himself obliged to tender his resignation, in his case, probably because his political persuasion proved superior even to the kind of wisdom he received from us.
I come from the engineering industry, and the engineers are utterly tired and sick of the thought that it is only when it is essential that weapons of death and destruction must be produced in a short time that it is possible to get a basis of really good and full employment. We object to the sheer prostitution of our craft, ability and energy in that way by the creation of such weapons. We desire most urgently that we should be allowed to use our capacity in order to help in the great policy and programme of reconstruction of which this country, and, indeed, the whole world, stand so badly in need. We realise that, unless this great army of people can be put on to work of constructive value, it is utterly impossible to talk in terms of reconstruction, of the great plans of this and other countries and in terms of huge prc -fabricated ideas as far as houses are concerned. We want most urgently to feel that we can look forward as a great constructive army to the reconstruction of this country. It is clear that if we are to create the conditions necessary for peace, we can only do it by working conscientiously in order to veto want and economic insecurity both in this and every other country of the world. 1 agree wholeheartedly with what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his recent speech, when he said that he regarded the great economic development, the lifting of the burden of the life of the people as the most important element in foreign policy; and he believed that this country had much to give and much to gain by proper exchange and arrangements with other countries in economic, cultural, and artistic life.
When we look at the position in Java, it would be more helpful if we could have the engineering industry so used to create conditions in that country to which we could export machinery, etc., which would give them, in their turn, a higher 666 Standard of life, rather than enforcing a position, whether in favour of Dutch Imperialism or not, by British bayonets in that country. The nations of the world pinned their hopes of peace on a strong United Nations organisation. What then is it that holds it back? We do not find any disagreement on that principle and yet, though six months have elapsed since the last shots were fired, we seem further away than ever before.
It is convenient for hon. Members in this House to blame it all upon the atomic bomb. It is rather a cowardly way out, because I feel that we would still have been in this position at this period whether the atomic bomb had been discovered or not. One might as well argue that the creation of the tank in the last war was responsible for the failure of the League of Nations. We must look further than the bogy of the atomic bomb. One of the biggest single things we must recapture is the spirit of material and economic aid which was developed to such a high degree when, in common with our Allies, we were faced with a terrible crisis brought about by Fascism. We must get back to the stage when this selfish outlook, which is creeping into diplomacy again did not exist, and we must share our secrets and go forward on a guaranteed basis in peace as we did in war. One of the factors which is mitigating against success in this field is the history of the intermediate years.
While I wish to look forward and not backwards, nevertheless, we must realise and look at some of the things which have brought about the situation which has been spoken of in this Chamber today. It is no exaggeration to say that, from Versailles to Munich, the whole studied story was one of political discrimination, and, in regard to certain phases of it, actually in high places. One could refer at length to the attitude of Governments of this country at that period in respect of the U.S.S.R. and also as far as the position of Spain is concerned.
Let us frankly face the position that, if we are to get away from this situation, we must do everything in our power to prove to the nations of the world that we, in all sincerity and honesty, wish to take our part as a great and responsible nation within the comity of nations to work to that end and not to selfish ends 667 of which we have seen so much between the two wars. During that period much damage was done. I mention the point because I am very fearful that much damage is again being done by the irresponsibility and sophistry of certain sections of the British Press, from which the journals of Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere cannot be exempt, nor can the Hearst Press of the United States. These things in those days were deliberately designed to split the understanding and unity of the peoples of the world. The tragic history of the last six years has proved how effectively they managed to do the job. When we see that element creeping into the Press again, we hope that it will not express the real needs or inclinations of the people who read that Press and that they will know the best remedy to stop it.
Today my right hon. Friend faces the harvest which was sown in those days. It is even fortunate that the very birth of the United Nations was only possible because of the crisis into which the world had been dragged by the encroachment of Fascism. We had never known a period up till 1939 when, of our own accord, we co-operated wholly with the Soviet Union and tried to understand their desires as a great nation. If we are to allay the suspicion which has been spoken of it can only be done by proving our sincerity, now that the great crisis has passed, and our desire to work as harmoniously with her in peace as we did in war.
I do not want it to be thought that I am asking this Government to bow down and take second place, either to the Soviet Union or to any other country in the world. We in this country have a right to be very proud of the great accomplishments we were able to achieve during the war. In fact, I would say—if it is not presumptuous for a maiden speaker staggering through his initial effort to address another Government to the U.S.S.R. that- the very fact that these Benches are fillcd to overflowing with Members who certainly would not be any party to connivance in any type of thing that would result in ostracism of, or any lack of realistic approach to, the U.S.S.R., is proof that we would not entertain such a policy. Nor do I think His Majesty's Government would ever attempt one It may not be inappropriate to say that my 668 right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who today administers the foreign affairs of this country, is exactly the same type of man as the dockers' leader who, in 1920, carried out those efforts which resulted in the stopping of arms intended to be used against the young Soviet State in those days, and I do not believe that either the man or the policy has changed in any degree since that time.
I listened with great interest to the Debate which took place the other night, instigated by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), in which he referred to the plight of the 4,000,000 Germans in the British zone. One could not help being struck by the humanitarian aspect which so many hon. Members in all parts of the House brought to bear in that Debate. I assure you I am no supporter of Lord Vansittart, but I would say that it is very possible for forces in this country, which are not so disinterested as hon. Members here, to use positions such as were created during that Debate for their own particular ends. I would ask hon. Members why it is that we seek to isolate the position of the Germans who, we are told—apparently more in rumour than in fact—are being driven hither and thither throughout Eastern Europe. Is it not true that the Belgians, the Czechs, the Poles, the people in the Ukraine, and in other parts of Europe, who fought so hard during the time of Nazi oppression, are in equal danger of starvation to the 4,000,000 Germans? I would point out to hon. Members that it is capable of a very different interpretation in the eyes of those Governments in Eastern Europe which, up to 1938, I am afraid were somewhat betrayed.
What about the position of the great Republic in the East, the first country, in fact, to draw the sword against Fascism? Are we equally concerned that millions of her population are in danger of starvation? I feel the only real effort made today is that of the wife of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, and I would commend the fact to hon. Members that we should keep these questions in their correct perspective and not be led, by any carrot drawn in front of us, by people who wish to use a position in order to start a campaign against Governments they have never liked. I rejoice that, this time, we have in the world an organisation recently 669 brought into being which I feel can, more than any other, play a tremendous part in the maintenance not only of world peace, but of world friendship. I refer to the world Trade Union Organisation which was born in Paris. I trust that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, with his vast knowledge of the trade union movement, will agree with me that such an organisation should be used to its utmost capacity by Governments in order to ensure that that organisation of hundreds of millions of working class men and women can be used to make sure that, never again, is misunderstanding allowed to percolate through the countries of the world.
I suggest—I have listened to hon. Members talk about Western and Eastern blocs —if we can use that organisation, it will be the finest measure possible to ensure that we never again resort either to Eastern, Western, or any other type of bloc. I believe it was Hitler who once said that an alliance which does not lead to war is senseless and worthless. 1 would recommend that to people who are thinking in terms of blocs of any type. No Debate on foreign affairs can exclude the question of export policy, and I suggest that if, instead of remaining at a distance, or talking merely in diplomatic terms, we could get our trade delegations to those countries in Eastern Europe with whom, at the present time, we are not in complete accord and understanding, it would be a tremendous step forward. They would be fine ambassadors in the interests of peace. I would ask my right hon. Friend what has happened to the trade talks started with the Soviet Union some months ago. I understand they, more" or less, broke down on the technicality of long-term credit. I do not believe that such a technicality could deter the enthusiasm of a Government to get signed and sealed tremendous trade agreements which could be great bonds of friendship between us all.
In conclusion, I repeat the point I made previously. I feel that when we have finished talking in terms of technicalities, and so on, it is essential that we should prove to the whole world that the policy for which we, in great measure, were responsible—the policy which between the wars betrayed China, Ethiopia, Spain and Czechoslovakia—the policy which even brought us to the position of the Hoare-Laval Agreement, that we, as a nation 670 and a Government, are finishing for ever with that type of diplomacy and that we will never support the ideas of blackguards such as Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco, and allow them to be bolstered up by such Press lords as Beaverbrook and Rothermere.
We have a great position in the world. Let us be sure that the feats of our men and women throughout the war are equalled by the feats which we can now achieve in the fields of peace, decency and security. Our greatest poet has told us:There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.I submit that the world is now on that tide and that we can, if we act correctly, go forward to a period where we shall make sure that never again shall the nations of the world have to go through the horrors which the present generation has experienced twice in 30 years. This Parliament can go down in history as a great Parliament which played a tremendous part in bringing the world to a sense of reality, security and idealism, which has never been known in the last 100 years.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. McAdam (Salford, North)
Previous to my election to this House, I had served an apprenticeship of something like 13 years as a prospective Parliamentary candidate. In between times, 1 had been the candidate in one by-election and two General Elections. During the period of my apprenticeship, I had been a consistent reader of Hansard, and I was always surprised to hear that new speakers claimed the indulgence of this House prior to making their maiden speeches. Tonight, I am aware of the reason for asking that indulgence.
The first point I want to make is that when a war has been fought and won for a principle, and that principle is departed from in the fixing of peacetime conditions, then, not only do you break faith with those who died and betray those who suffered and survived, but you also inflict punishment upon the generation which follows. The peacetime conditions established after the first world war were deplorable conditions. The principle in defence of which millions 671 of men sacrificed their lives was entirely lost sight of at Versailles, with the result that you had in this country, commencing in 1918, industrial dispute followed by industrial dispute, culminating in the General Strike of 1926. Then followed large scale unemployment, financial crises, the imposition of the means test, and the reduction in pensions of those who fought, suffered and survived as a result of the war.
Then in the United States of America, at a time when that country claimed 75 per cent, of the world's currency and was carrying an unemployed army of 12,000,000, the late Owen D. Young, the noted American banker, said that America had now definitely reached a stage when she was producing year by year more than she was able to consume. For this there appeared to be only three remedies: the burning or destroying of surpluses, keeping men and plant idle, or dumping surpluses abroad at whatever price could be obtained over the cost of transport. The U.S.A. followed each of these methods, but that did not prevent them from becoming involved in the world financial crisis which swept Europe in the early nineteen thirties. There can be no denying the fact that these strikes for a living wage, the suffering of the unemployed, the under-employed, and the ex-Servicemen—yes, and the present war—could all largely be traced to those shortsighted politicians who incorporated in the Peace Treaties reparatons and indemnities, and were responsible for splitting up Europe into unecomonic units without any regard to racial or religious points of view.
In this country, democratic government, as we understand it, means government by the express desire of the majority, with the right of minorities to express their own particular points of view. It has to be admitted, however, that in some European countries prior to the war, democratic government merely meant the suppression of the minority point of view, and it was this suppression that gave Hitler the means to create strife within nations. I am afraid that today we are faced with exactly the same position as followed the last war. Around Europe today, there are milling thousands or millions of displaced minorities out of every country in a vain search for a 672 permanent home. Personally, I cannot see what has prevented countries with substantial minorities from adopting the federal form of government which applies, say, in Switzerland. In that country, we have Swiss-Swiss, Italian-Swiss, German-Swiss, and French-Swiss, each with their own local Governments, and from these a Government operating on behalf of the country as a whole. As a matter of fact, I am prepared to go further and state that it is only a short step from a federal form of government within a State to a federation of European States.
I recognise, however, that before that desirable stage can be reached there are other important factors which must be taken into consideration. The ability of nations to wage war upon each other must be drastically restricted. In my opinion, the only effective way of accomplishing that is to make it impossible for individuals, or groups of individuals, to earn profits out of the manufacture and sale of war material, by a system of international control over armaments. Peace and prosperity do not entirely depend upon military precautions. They also depend upon nations recognising that no country contains within its own boundaries all those things necessary for the wellbeing of the citizens of the country, and, therefore, if they are to live in peace and security, side by side, they must be prepared to trade with each other on equal trading terms. In the past, nations have attempted to gain economic superiority over each other by the erection of tariff barriers against each other's trade; and they have claimed that by the adoption of such a policy they were protecting the interests of their own people. In dealing with that claim. I am reminded of what Professor Thorold Rogers stated in his "Six Centuries of Work and Wages." He says:Modern Governments wrong labour by pretending to protect it against foreign competition. What they actually do is to increase the profits of the capitalist, cripple the energy of the workman by narrowing his market, and shorten the means of the consumer by making that dear which he wishes to purchase.With that point of view I entirely agree, but to it I would add that past experience has taught us that when tariff barriers become too stiff to get behind by ordinary trading methods, then war is indulged in, as a means of battering the barriers down. During the recent war, 673 tariff barriers which once existed between this country, the U.S.S.R., the U.S.A., China, and the British Dominions were swept aside. Personally, I am of opinion that if those comrades in arms would only get together in the trading sense, and come to an agreement as to what they wanted to buy from and sell to each other, other nations would be bound to follow their example. Equal trading facilities between nations would become possible and then and only then would war and the shadows of war entirely disappear.
I recognise, however, that when you grant trading facilities to other nations, certain protective policies are necessary. We must have an international agreement covering common exchange currency, and agreements covering minimum rates of wages and maximum hours of labour. In conclusion, therefore, I am hoping that this Government of ours will take the lead in calling a world economic conference, based on the principle that within this old world of ours there is sufficient to meet the needs of all, and that from the economic standpoint, at least, the world is due to be considered as a common boundary, buying and selling between nations a common object, and the object of buying and. selling work, leisure, and social security for all people. If they do call such a conference, they will be taking a real step in laying the foundation stone for that human ideal for which we on these benches stand—an ideal so aptly described by Ruskin when he wrote:There is no wealth but life, life including all its powers of love, of joy, and admiration. That nation is the richest which nourishes the largest number of noble and happy human beings.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
It is indeed a pleasure to congratulate the last two speakers on their outstanding maiden speeches. It is also, for one who so recently emerged from the maiden speech stage himself, rather an ordeal to offer one's congratulations to two obviously so experienced speakers. It was with admiration and a little envy that I listened to their remarks, and, I would also add, with pride, for both of them, like myself, are members for Lancashire constituencies. One of the things that struck me was that both said they were men who had had experience of 674 everyday life and of practical affairs, but despite that, indeed perhaps because of that, it was very encouraging to think that their idealism and their sincerity have emerged from the ordeal—and one can only call it an ordeal. I am sure that the House will look forward to hearing further speeches from them, and that those speeches will be valuable contributions to the conduct of affairs. I would give them one word of warning. I should like to invite them to profit by my example. I have always been told that it is not the first step that counts, but that it is the second step which is the real ordeal. Therefore, I hope that they will accord me their sympathy in the ordeal which now confronts me.
The discussion today has ranged over a variety of subjects, but there is one subject which is clearly arousing considerable disquiet in the minds of almost every Member of this House, that is, the present state of our relations with the Soviet Union. It has also been noticeable that a certain note of disappointment has crept in. That, I think, is not altogether surprising. During the war hon. and right hon. Members opposite freely issued the claim that if they were returned to power they would bring to our relations with the Soviet Union a cordiality and harmony impossible under a Tory Administration. They said that they had ideologically so much in common with our Soviet Allies that this could not fail to act as a point of unity. To quote the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary:Left can speak to Left, in comradeship and confidence.Even the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who, in the light of his own experiences in Moscow, should surely have known better, made similar assertions. These glowing promises have not been fulfilled. They have turned out to be, if I may borrow a telling phrase coined by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Garry Allighan), yet another slice of political "pie in the sky," which is threatening to become the staple diet of the British public. In fact, our relations with the Soviet Union in the four months since Labour came into power have shown a sharp deterioration. They are now worse than they have been at any time since the Pact of 1941, a product of Tory statesmanship, made the Russians our 675 Allies. What is more, this has led to suspicion of any attempt to find, in common, a solution of many of the great problems which are now exercising the minds of everyone in Europe
Had such a crisis in our relations with Russia arisen with a Tory Government in power, it is quite easy to imagine what the attitude of the Labour Party would have been. They would not have hesitated for a moment to throw the whole blame for this unfortunate event on the Government of their own country. They would have accused them of reactionary prejudices against the workers' paradise. I do not intend to take that line. We all know that it takes two to make an agreement, and I cannot help feeling that our Soviet Allies have not done all that they might have done to make that easier. In fact, by all accounts they have, in many cases where our interests meet, shown themselves suspicious and uncompromising. But I think there is one conclusion that may be drawn, that is, that the Leftist complexion of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite does not necessarily endear them to our Russian Allies. Soon after they assumed power the Government and their supporters proclaimed in song that they would "keep the Red Flag flying here."
§ Brigadier Maclean
Perhaps they would like to give an encore. But I would remind them that their Red Flag is a very tame affair in comparison with the full-blooded emblem which floats over the spires and pinnacles of the Kremlin. I would also remind them that "parlour pinks" and other Left Wing diversionists inspire neither admiration nor respect in Moscow. I see the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) looking rather uneasy. Let me at once reassure him that I was not referring to him.
These unfortunate events have done one thing: they have disposed for good and all of the dangerous doctrine, so carefully fostered by hon. Members opposite, that our foreign policy depends on our own internal affairs and the internal affairs of other countries. That at any rate is something, for there could be no more dangerous basis for our foreign policy. Our foreign policy 676 requires a firmer, more realistic basis. My own experience of the Russians, and I have had considerable and extremely cordial dealings with them, has been that they admire and respect someone, who, while taking full account of the legitimate interest of the Soviet Union, also stands up for his own interests and for his own principles, and who is prepared to take his full share in whatever activities may be in question. From his recent utterances, I think there can be little doubt that, whatever he may have thought in the past, the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary has got the right ideas and is determined to put them into practice. I only wish that the process of enlightenment had extended to hon. Members on the Benches behind him who are still in the depths of gloom. It is fashionable to say that the Russians are incalculable and inscrutable. They are nothing of the sort. Their foreign policy is based on a hard-headed realism and a high sense of their national interest. which we at times should do well to emulate. It is this sense of their own national interest which has led them to establish on their own frontiers a security zone embracing large areas of Europe and Asia. This, I submit, is an understandable precaution on the part of a country which has been brutally invaded twice in 25 years.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that we must decide what our attitude is to be, in the face of the accomplished facts with which we are now confronted. Hitherto, that attitude has been one of pained but largely helpless disapproval. We have taken the line that we dislike the whole idea of spheres of influence. That attitude will get us nowhere. It is no good one partner renouncing spheres of influence, when the other two partners already have their spheres of influence marked out and firmly established. While our Soviet and American Allies are losing no time in assuming their responsibility for keeping order and maintaining security in large areas of the world, we are preparing to withdraw from those areas which for hundreds of years have enjoyed the benefits—I repeat benefits—of British rule and suzerainty. While the Russians are establishing themselves more and more firmly in Eastern Europe, we are fading out of the Mediterranean. While they lay claim to Tripoli so recently 677 liberated by British Armies, we discuss how quickly we can get out of Egypt and the Sudan. While Americans establish bases in the Pacific, we start moving out of India and Burma. While the Russians consolidate their position in North Persia, we deliberately undermine our position in South Persia. Such an attitude will not win us the respect of our Soviet Allies, or of anybody else for that matter. The fear has been expressed that the Russians have embarked on a policy of unlimited expansion. All I can say is that if somebody else moves into the void which has been created by our own inertia, we really cannot complain.
Before I sit down, I would like to refer to one specific case, namely Persia, a country of which I have had some first hand experience, and which I think illustrates the points which I have tried to make. In Persia, British and Soviet interests met, and during the past 80 years have at times threatened to clash. At the moment the country is under Allied occupation In four months' time our respective Forces are due to withdraw. In what state shall we leave Persia? In the fruitful food producing Northern zone, Soviet ideas have been so firmly instilled into the minds of the population, and Soviet sympathisers have achieved such a degree of control, that even now there is a movement for the incorporation of parts of North Persia in the Soviet Union and for a change of regime throughout the country. Even now the exponents of these ideas are marching on the capital, Teheran, with the object of imposing them by force if necessary on the central Administration which sits there extremely shakily. The position in the South is very different. It is a barren area which has always been threatened both by famine and by the depredations of the very wild tribes who live in the hills. When in four months we withdraw, there will be a situation of chaos, famine and insurrection highly prejudicial to the very important British interests there, and inviting foreign intervention. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman who replies to this Debate to answer a question which I put to him yesterday, namely, what are we doing to protect our interests in that area? In his reply he said:I cannot divulge … in answer to a Question, all the strategy of the Chiefs of Staffs.…"["OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November 1945; Vol. 416, c. 442.]678 That was not at all the answer that I expected or desired. Strategy and Chiefs of Staff are brought into play, not in keeping order in our outlying part of Asia, but in a major war, and that is exactly what we are out to' avoid. I want to know what we are doing, not to prepare for the worst, but to consolidate our position in South Persia, just as our Soviet Allies are consolidating their position in North Persia.
In conclusion, I would repeat what I have already said, namely, that there can be only one satisfactory basis for our relations with the Soviet Union, and for that matter, for our foreign policy as a whole. Let us by all means respect and recognise the legitimate interests of our great Allies, but let us also demand that they recognise and respect our interests. If they have spheres of influence we must also have spheres of influence, however disagreeable it may be to us. We cannot afford to allow our strength and our Forces to fall into disrepair. In his recent statement on American policy, Mr. Truman said:Wo have learned the bitter lesson that the weakness of this great Republic invited men of illwill to shake the very foundations of civilisation all over the world.What the President has said of the United States, applies equally to the British Empire. Unless we preserve our own strength and security, how can we hope to play our proper part in co-operation with our Soviet and American Allies, in the establishment and maintenance of world peace and security?
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Acocks Green)
I am very proud in this, my maiden speech, to have the privilege of making a contribution to such an important Debate. There are just one or two things I want to say rather precisely, if I may. I believe that there is only one hope of permanent peace, and that it lies in world government. Until we have world government, as distinct from world leagues or confederations, we cannot guarantee world peace; but I do not believe that it will be easy to get world government in the compass of the time that is available to us before the atom bomb gets loose. We must, therefore, do something now and take some positive steps in that direction. I believe that; helps, if we want to achieve something, to say so, and to say where we want to 679 go. I believe that Great Britain would help a great deal if she did have a positive and understandable long-term political strategy.
I would like to say one or two words about this problem of peace. I do not believe that peace can be kept by force. I believe that peace can be kept only by maintaining order under law. If you want law you must have a legislature to make it. Without law you cannot have justice, and without justice no peace is worth while. Our strategy must be designed towards achieving law over a greater area than at present exists.
In that connection perhaps I might recount a short historical story, of which I was reminded early this year when I happened to be flying across the United States and across the Colorado River, because it illustrates exactly the point I want to make. Late in 1934, the Federal authorities built a dam across the Colorado River where the river divides the State of Arizona from California. At the moment of the story they had just started to build the first preliminary dam. The Governor of the State of Arizona decided that that was the moment to reach an agreement with the authorities to provide that half the electric power should go to Arizona and half to California. He decided at that moment to call out the State Militia and to declare martial law in Arizona. California replied that if that was his attitude, it would be more logical to give California 10 times the current, because they had 10 times the population of Arizona. The Governor of Arizona was obdurate. He sent people up and down the river in boats and threatened to shoot the first Californian who set foot on the Arizona shore. This was in 1934. The incident was like a declaration of war between California and Arizona, but no war took place. What did take place was that President Roosevelt sent a telegram to the Governor of Arizona telling him, as I had it described to me this year, not to be an ass but to go home, or otherwise the President would send the Federal police to arrest him and bring him before the Supreme Court of the United States. The incident closed, and the Americans laughed.
I would like the House to compare that incident with another which took place in 1932, over the Chaco oil wells, 680 and gave rise to a war which lasted for four years. All the power of the League of Nations was not able to stop it. The significance of the incident which was laughable in the United States was that a common law existed there which covered the people of both States, a supra-state law, before which an individual could be tried. It was not necessary to indict the whole population of Arizona. I believe that we have to carry that lesson forward. In the next period of years we shall have to reconstruct Europe, and we shall inevitably run into all kinds of conflicts. Without some supra-national court before which differences of opinion can be brought and a decision reached, we shall not be able to solve those difficulties.
I believe that many people all over the world in many countries realise this fact and that they realise also that the first step by which anything can be achieved must now come from Great Britain. Great Britain must take the lead. There is inevitably, as I see it now, an historical process of political integration going on all over the world. It is almost as though we had before us a jigsaw puzzle of some 60 Sovereign States, all separate and distinct, each one imagining itself to be the centre of the world picture. Somehow or other we have to integrate that jigsaw puzzle until we can see and can act upon a One World composite picture. How can that be done? Either we can, under the stress and fire of war, fuse them forcibly into one homogeneous mass—and I hope that will not have to happen—or, just as one would do a jigsaw puzzle, we must start by integrating those parts which have obvious similarities. That is what Russia is now doing and I cannot see why we should not do the same with people who have obvious similarities with ourselves. I want Great Britain to" consider whether the time is not ripe to give a definite lead in that direction by saying what, in the belief of His Majesty's Government, are the fundamental necessities for fusion and politcal integration with our people.
May I have the presumption to read briefly the points which I think are important and which I would like His Majesty's Government to stress in an announcement which I think ought to be made as soon as possible? It would give 681 The one thing that the world lacks a hope and a belief that we are moving in a definite direction which is intelligible.
I want to suggest that His Majesty's Government should signify its readiness to form an organic political union with any other country which will accept in principle these conditions: (a) The constitution of the Union shall contain a Bill of human rights, and thus guarantee political liberty and democracy; (b) the powers of the federal government of the union shall enable it to co-ordinate a full employment policy for all the constituent States; (c) the union shall be disarmed down to the level of its policing commitments, but will at the same time subscribe to the United Nations Organisation a sum of money to be agreed by the Security Council as its quota of the cost of the Organisation's armed force, and recruit and supply to this armed force a similarly agreed quota of manpower; (d) the union government will directly own and control all research stations in its area devoted to the development of atomic energy,' and undertake to make all the information it discovers, with all laboratories, records and plant, constantly open to inspection by accredited representatives of all other Governments. It has been suggested that the union might be called "The United Commonwealth of Nations."
I imagine that this proposal would meet with a great deal of opposition. That I do not mind. I am quite certain that if we doubled the opposition we should get 10 times the enthusiasm from the common people all over the world in support of a proposal such as that. Is the proposal fantastic? Is it Utopian? Yes, it is both fantastic and Utopian. It is just as fantastic as the atomic age in which we now live; it is just as Utopian as the hope of world peace. I have suggested in one of the clauses that we should put our armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council, even in spite of the fact that Russia and America now have a veto. Some people will say that that is ludicrous. I do not believe that it is ludicrous to expect to break down the suspicion of Russia by doing directly what we believe is right, without waiting for anyone else to do it likewise. There seems to me to be no doubt that everybody here would be pleased to wake up tomorrow morning and learn that all the armed forces of the 682 world had been placed under the orders of the Security Council, and under its direct control. If that is right, it is right for us to do it now; for ourselves, at once to offer to do so with any other countries which can be persuaded to unite with us on those terms.
I would like to end by quoting a statement that was made on what I believe to be an almost exactly similar occasion some 150 years ago, in 1787, by General George Washington. This is what he said, addressing the Congress at Philadelphia:It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. But if, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The event is in the hands of God.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Brigadier Peto (Barnstaple)
It falls to my lot to congratulate the hon. Member for the Acocks Green Division of Birmingham (Mr. Usborne) on a very clever, well-delivered, carefully thought-out and. excellent speech. I am just out of the maiden speech stage myself, and I feel rather bumptious in congratulating him, but it is not only my duty but my privilege, and I do so wholeheartedly and most sincerely.
I will not detain the House long; we have listened this afternoon to a spate of oratory from all quarters, some of which was a little on the long side. I think all in this House, with few exceptions, are in agreement on a good deal of what has been said today. We agree that we are aiming for peace. We agree that no one method can ensure peace if an aggressor nation wishes to commit an act of aggression. What we want is the greatest sense of security that we can get, stage by stage. Personally I have drawn immense satisfaction and comfort, and a feeling of confidence, from the very remarkable, statesmanlike speech which was made on 7th November by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. Again I hope nobody will consider that I am being patronising or bumptious; I am speaking from my heart. I felt that that speech would go down in history as one of the greatest speeches any Foreign Secretary has ever made. At this time those things needed saying; I believe the people of this country, the Dominions and foreign countries can understand the truth when it is 683 bluntly told, and by hiding the truth we do much disservice.
The only reason I have ventured to intervene in this Debate is that for the past 14 months I was closely associated with our Allies on Field-Marshal Montgomery's staff, and I know their thoughts absolutely first-hand. I listened with some surprise this afternoon to a speech made by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Mack) because it did not portray in the slightest degree what the Poles in this country feel. It did not portray their fear and certainty of terrible consequences if they go back to that part of Poland which is at present occupied. The speech did not show to the country, which will read it tomorrow, in the least a true picture of the feelings of absolute hopelessness of some of the Poles in this country. I was with Belgians, French, Dutch, Czechs, occasionally Russians and occasionally Americans, and of all the countries which may be examples for us at this moment, I think that Belgium is our closest Ally. They think very much the same as we do on most things. They will not be defeated, they will not be terrorised, they have the utmost sense of resistance, they are keen business men, they like good wine—all the things that are characteristic of most English people. I quote them only because I know that there we have the first nucleus of what I, and I think most other people, aim at.
What is the most surprising thing we have heard in this Debate? I think it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) saying that he advocated a departure from our previous feelings with regard to national sovereignty. I entirely agree with him. When he made that statement I was watching hon. Members opposite, and I saw everybody sit up—and I did, too. It is a fact that there have been many wise people thinking along those lines, people like Walter Lippmann in America and Lionel Curtis in this country. As long as we have this national feeling, the feeling that something will affect our national interests, we are heading for another war. That is the fence we have now got to jump, and if we can get over that fence we shall probably be on the first stage to a lasting peace. I have quoted Belgium because Belgium, Holland, and to some extent France, and 684 Little Luxemburg, are all ready to take this international view with us.
People have said to me that it is quite impossible to have an international army. That is not so. We have proved that in this war. In the Second Army under General Dempsey there were at one time five different nationalities fighting. Belgians, Dutch, Poles, Czechs were all fighting with our equipment, using our gunnery terms in English, our signalling in English, our wireless in English, and the whole thing worked just like one clockwork piece. That is the beginning of what we are looking for—an international force. If it can be done in war in a hurry, why cannot we continue to do it now that we have leisure and peace? In conclusion, there is one thing I want to say—do not on any account let us ever hear that word which stinks in the nostrils of every Briton, the word "appeasement." I think that appeasement, going back on your word and not backing your country, not backing England for all you are worth, is the worst thing that could possibly happen. I hope and believe the present Foreign Secretary will not allow the word "appeasement"to enter into his vocabulary.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Major Vernon (Dulwich)
I rise to make my first contribution to the discussions in this House with some reluctance, but that reluctance is not the result of any lack of confidence in the cause which I propose to advocate; it is a lack of confidence in my own force and skill in putting it across. The cause which I wish to advocate is one which has been voiced generally in the House today, the cause of world government, -but it is world government as a matter of urgency. 1 do not think the urgency has been sufficiently stressed. I do not intend to stress the urgency because of any fear of war or out of any panic sense of that kind, but will stress it from the point of view of giving a series of practical answers to practical problems. I will select a few of the considerations which have led me to conclude that the urgent setting up of world government is the. key to a solution of our present difficulties.
First of all, we have heard a great deal in the House lately about demobilisation and the importance of getting our people out of the Forces quickly. We have 685 been told from the Government Front Bench that the size of the Army depends upon our commitments, and two kinds of commitments have been mentioned. There are our own individual commitments throughout the world. The assumption is that we may have to fight heavily armed forces similarly equipped to our own. Those commitments are the commitments of England as a national State. The other sort of commitment which has been mentioned, rather in small print, as it were, is our contribution to the United Nations. It is unfair to put both these commitments together, because we shall either get one or the other. If we are to have world government, if we are to have unity among the strong Powers, we do not need heavily armed forces. If we are not going to work on that line, if we are to face the world alone, then it may be, as the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said, we have no right to begin demobilisation at all. In any case it is unfair to take both courses at once and to assume that we must have enough men to fight alone and also to make a contribution to fight pirates, bandits or brigands who may break out in other parts of the world, because if we had to do that we should not have to do it alone, but would have the aid of other countries, and our contribution would be very small.
We already have the beginnings of world government in the United Nations Organisation, but it seems to me that the United Nations Organisation, much as we admire it, is like a vehicle with more brakes than engine power. It is composed of 51 sovereign States and each one can on occasion act as a brake. There are not only brakes that can be applied occasionally, but the vehicle starts off with the brakes screwed down. 1 do not know what the future will hold. Some day we shall get world government. It may come by taking off the brakes one by one, by evolution from the existing United Nations Organisation. It may come through some crisis causing us to abandon that very unwieldly vehicle and design something fresh, to meet some emergency, from which the world government can be fashioned. I am not going to prophesy which way it will come, but come it must, and the quicker the better.
We have heard in the House a certain amount of talk about the location of in- 686 dustry in the country with reference to strategic needs. This is extraordinarily interesting. If we are to think of strategy in the location of our factories, the simple answer is to scatter the factories pretty uniformly over the countryside, and scatter the population as thinly as we can. There is no excuse at all for retaining large proportions of our industries in the South-Eastern parts of England, unless we are going to protect them in the only way we can protect them, and that is under a heavy layer of concrete. We shall all have to go underground, if we are going to consider the defence of the South-East part of England against even the old-fashioned weapons. What we shall do against atomic bombs is another problem altogether. If we are to consider this business of a world government and this notion of strategy, what sense is there in rebuilding this Chamber on its old site? It was blown up last time, and it will certainly be blown up again. Not only must we think of moving this House to some other part of England—that is not good enough—but we have to consider the headquarters of our Empire being moved to some place as safe as it possibly can be. I should think of Northern Rhodesia or Tanganyika, or Arctic Canada, as sensible and suitable places for the centre of the British Empire.
Many other subjects have been commented upon in the Debate. Civil aviation is coming along. From the engineering point of view—and I have been concerned with the engineering side of civil aviation between the two wars—it is a simple business to plan a series of large aerodromes at the most convenient distances, each served by planes of 2,000 miles range, and with secondary aerodromes and feeder stations for 1,000 and 500 miles range. From the engineering point of view, this is a perfectly simple straightforward job, but the politics of the case are so complicated that it is out of the question to plan the job in that simple straightforward manner. The British Empire is a curious shape, and if you try to make a system of world airways on British land alone, it is a highly inefficient and unsuitable scheme at which you arrive. The world is so small nowadays that a single world air system is necessary, and that is a job which the world government could undertake, and I can 687 not see that any other organisation should tackle it at all.
Another question mentioned today was that of conditions in the Armed Forces. One hon. Member suggested that the brightest people should be retained in the Forces, and seemed to deplore the fact that all our clever people were leaving the Forces. It seems to me that it is the best thing in the world for the brightest people to leave the Armed Forces and come into industry and commerce, whore their brains are so much needed. I think the Under-Secretary of State for Air mentioned a staff college for the Air Force. If we are to have a world government, before long bombers and fighters will have no place, and his staff college should be replaced by something like a glorified Hendon Police College for the international police force, in which people can be trained for police duties in that international force. All the way along I come up against people who look to the old ideas and old conditions continuing, when the force of circumstances has forced us to contemplate a central world government as the way out of our difficulties and as the only solution.
I know it is the custom in a maiden speech to avoid controversy. Controversy I take to mean the taking of sides in some matter of doubt. I hope, if my definition is right, I have avoided taking sides in matters of doubt, because on this matter of world government I submit there can beNo possible, probable shadow of doubt, No manner of doubt whatever.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Lieutenant Peart (Workington)
I take the opportunity of congratulating the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich (Major Vernon) on his maiden speech. Like a previous speaker, I do so with a certain diffidence. I made my maiden speech so long ago that I feel I am making another maiden speech this evening, but I am certain that the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich, whom I once heard outside this House, will live up to his reputation and that his speeches will always be welcomed.
I want to refer to the general theme which has run through most of the speeches today. It is that because of the discovery of atomic energy, and the processes connected with it, there is a 688 need to establish an effective safeguard against aggression. This finally resolves itself into a real and earnest desire to abolish war. I make no apology for stating that, as a Socialist, I accept the position that war, and particularly the two major wars just passed, have resulted from a crisis in a system. I emphasise that view because I approach the present idea of world government in that spirit. We can plan and print paper constitutions, but if we keep intact an economic system which allows antagonisms, spheres of influence and all the interplay of forces which we had before this war, and before the war of 1914–18, then we shall allow history to repeat itself.
At the same time, we must try to make effective this idea of a United Nations Organisation. I think there is certainly a general desire on the part of all people to help their Governments to provide an effective international instrument for preventing aggression. It is strange that, after the most terrible war in history, we still talk about the threat to peace. Is history repeating itself? Do the great Powers still think in the orthodox terms of defence, spheres of influence, power politics and secret diplomacy? I am afraid that I feel they do. We ratified, some months ago in this House, the United Nations Charter, and we have seen the birth of the United Nations Organisation. I think hon. Members of this House must take a realistic view. Its initial success depends upon the military and economic power of Russia, the United States and this country. Its final success will, of course, depend on the moral power, not just of nations, but of all peoples. The success of the United Nations Organisation is, the keystone of our own foreign policy.
At the same time, we have had before us the warning of the tragic and unfortunate failure of that noble experiment, the League of Nations. I need not go into the details of that period, a period of appeasement which made a noble experiment fail, and a noble organisation weak and helpless. Today, despite a conflict of ideologies, I am convinced that Socialist Russia and—if I may say so this evening—Socialist Britain and Capitalist America can come together and plan a real and effective international organisation. Indeed, they must, because the peoples of all the countries of the world have had enough of war. Not only must 689 we create that international organisation, but this Government must pursue a policy of economic co-operation. We must remove the causes of war. I always take the old-fashioned Socialist view—and I stand by it today—that, if you take the profit out of war, you will go a long way towards the winning of peace for the peoples of the world.
I wish to make one or two brief observations, and I would speak, first, on the need for Anglo-Soviet unity. A great alliance forged during war must continue, but our friendship and our attitude towards the Soviet Union, must not be negative. They must 'be positive. After all, we have a Pact of Friendship with the Soviet Union, and that Pact must not be one of mere words; it must be made a living reality. I would remind hon. Members on this side of the House that, whatever faults the Soviet Union may have, it was the first country that went Socialist, and the first country, in the practical field of economics, that laid the basis of a stable economy. While we may make criticisms about the conception of Soviet democracy, it has, through great trials and tribulations, established a regime which has raised the standards of living of peasant and worker throughout a vast Continent. I have seen the Soviet Union and 1 know that many hon. Members here—perhaps even Tory, and even Liberal—would agree, even if they disagree with the political ideology of the Soviet Union, that that experiment of planning has achieved a great measure of success, a success demonstrated by the very fact that that regime was able to counter the military onslaught of the Nazi war machine.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman, on that basis, what was demonstrated by the Nazi efficiency of the military machine?
§ Lieutenant Peart
I said Soviet economy and stability; and its success gave the peoples of the Soviet Union a country which was theirs, and, in their desire to defend that country, as they did, and because of the stability of that regime they were able to defeat the Nazi armies. I claim that this country owes much to the people of the Soviet Union, and I am certain that there is in this country, in spite of remarks which may come from certain parts of this House, a 690 tremendous feeling of good will. That good will was demonstrated during the General Election. It has been demonstrated in a small way, also, by the success of the Soviet footballers in this visits from the Soviet Union were encouraged.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he is confusing atomic energy and dynamic energy?
§ Lieutenant Peart
I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to M. Molotov's recent speech on atomic energy. He mentioned other energy, too. Perhaps he was thinking in terms of the Dynamo footballers. I would emphasise that we have this good will, and I would ask our Foreign Secretary and Government not to allow discussions on the atomic bomb to poison our relations. I appeal for the Soviet Union to be called in to discuss problems of atomic energy. We know that the possession of atomic energy gives only a temporary advantage. In other countries research will go on. Russian scientists who have achieved distinction in many other departments of science will un-doubtedly develop atomic power in their country, and I am certain that the Soviet State will give them all the support they require. The Leader of the Liberal Party, the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), said that if the Russians had dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, later, had decided to withhold the secret, there would have 'been much criticism from that side of the House today. If we wish to be frank with Russia—as has often been said we should be—or, if I may use the words of the Foreign Secretary, "lay all the cards on the table," then this House must reject, in the interests of world peace, any idea that we seek an Anglo-American bloc against the Soviet Union. I trust that, from this Debate, that impression will go out into the world.
The threat to security may come from other quarters. It may come from the desire of certain nations who seek economic interests in other parts of the world. There is another form of Imperialism which has now been termed "Dollar Imperialism." There was a time when, if you wanted to build an Empire, you sent the missionary and the whisky bottle. Now one sends Bing 691 Crosby and a tin of Spam. I am suspicious and disturbed about American monopoly capitalism which seeks to gain a stranglehold on many parts of the world. I think we should be frank and say so. We had an example, which was mentioned specifically in this House some time ago, in a Question addressed to the Minister of Fuel and Power re the granting of oil concessions by Abyssinia to an American concern. We had a report in August of this year of the Naval Affairs Committee of the United States' House of Representatives, part of which has been published, which outlined American strategy in the Pacific and her desire for bases, of which this report stressed the need, and territorial expansion there. We have the recent statement of Mr. Harold Ickes, the Secretary for the Interior, who said that America was now a "Have not"nation because she had a shortage of minerals. He argued that the more dependent America becomes on outside sources for minerals, the greater must be her military forces. They are points which I think we should criticise.
In conclusion, I say, Let us be frank if that frankness is going to bring a closer relationship between this country and our friends who helped us to triumph, to defeat and smite down German Fascism. Let us, too, be positive in our approach. Let us end continuity of foreign policy. I repeat what I asked in my maiden speech. Let us have a Socialist foreign policy, which will make the United Nations Organisation real and effective. We must foster the spirit of internationalism. We must remove the fundamental causes of war—causes which are political, economic, and psychological. This Government have made a great start in the domestic field. Now we must look forward towards a Socialist Europe, and a Socialist World.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
The hon. and gallant Member for Workington (Lieutenant Peart) has advocated a break in the continuity of our foreign policy. I am sorry that he should have suggested that after the very helpful speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick' and Leamington (Mr. Eden). One thing is perfectly clear about 692 this question of winning the peace, that it will not be the easy thing that many people thought during the war, and that if we are to win the peace we shall have a very much better chances of doing so it we can agree among ourselves as to how it is to be brought about. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that Socialist Russia, Socialist Britain and capitalist America could agree about a foreign policy. I am with him there. He said they must agree. If he would substitute the word "should," I would also be with him there. The question we have to decide tonight is not, Can they agree? Or should they agree? But will they agree? And unfortunately we are up against the practical fact that at present the signs of agreement are, to put it mildly, far from encouraging. He told us also that there must be no appeasement. What then, exactly does he suggests that the Foreign Secretary should do in this matter of what is happening in Persia? There is an agreement there for which, as we were reminded this afternoon, we also must accept some responsibility. Does he suggest there should be appeasement there, or not, if Russia persists in her position?
I mention these facts, not as debating points, but to try to illustrate what I think to be true, that it is the easiest and the most obvious thing in the world to talk about the need for co-operation and collaboration. Unfortunately, history has shown that it is the most difficult to bring about. Therefore, such contribution as I want to make in the brief time at my disposal will be rather to try to make possible that co-operation and collaboration.
I think it must be clear to anybody who surveys the international situation that our relations with Russia have taken the wrong road; and not only our relations, but also the relations of the United States of America. I believe we have a very important part to play in acting as a bridge between the United States of America and Russia in trying to bring them together. What we ought to try to do is to convince Russia where, as we see it, her real interest lies. We are with her in her desire for security. It is only natural that she should want this, particularly in view of what she has suffered in two wars, but we must try to convince her somehow that by co-operation and collaboration through the United Nations 693 Organisation she will find security, and not by the other method which she is pursuing. It seems to me that in one respect at least history is repeating itself —Russia is trying to find security very much in the same way as France tried to do so after the last war. When France had taken away from her the guarantee that America originally gave her, and the guarantee which we withdrew when America ceased to tand by her original proposal, she sought security in building up influence in a number of small States which she thought would help her, and did not put all the force she should have done behind the League of Nations. That was one reason for the failure of the League. What happened was that when a crisis occurred, all the edifices she had built up tumbled down like a pack of cards, and I am afraid that Russia may find the same thing happen to her.
We must either trust Russia or not. It does not seem to me that we can say, "We will trust you under certain conditions "or" We want you to give certain undertakings." That has been described today as reciprocity, or something of that kind. Either we trust her or we do not. The issues are very serious. In any case, a great risk has to be taken—for instance, with regard to the secret of the atomic bomb. If we hand over the secret to Russia, some people fear that it may be used in a way we should not like—I will not put it any stronger than that. On the other hand, if we do not hand it over, there will remain this wall of suspicion. If we hand it over to try and win confidence, we are really playing for a great prize, the peace of the world. The alternative course would lead to a lack of confidence and ultimately, it seems to me, to disaster.
Therefore, I say, let us try once again to capture the spirit that animated us all during the war. Then we had a common objective, all other issues were seen in proper perspective to this big objective, and we won the war. Let us realise that now we have also a common objective, to win the peace. Let us see all the differences that arise between the three Great Powers from time to time in relation to this big objective. Somehow or other we have to learn to collaborate and to work together. Our relations with Russia will either get better or they will get worse. It is perfectly obvious that pin-pricks are being inflicted by her in various parts of 694 the world, and a situation might arise which might get beyond our control. I appeal to the Foreign Secretary to use all the patience he has, and all his eloquence, earnestness and sincerity, to try to achieve world peace and to get our relations with Russia on to a proper basis. Let us make a fresh start. I hope that very soon there will be a meeting of the leaders—the Prime Minister of this country, the President of the United States and Marshal Stalin—but before that I would like to see the Minister of State sent to Russia on a good will mission to try to prepare the ground for such a meeting. Whatever views we may have on other matters before this House I think we are united on this point and have a common objective. We all want to see that the sacrifices made in this war shall reap their full reward, and that the generations to come will not have to undergo what we of this generation have had to suffer. We will give the Foreign Secretary all the support we can in his efforts to bring that about.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)
I am rather sorry that, following so many splendid and idealistic speeches, I should have to come back to the point which, perhaps the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) put forward, the pinpricks in Europe at the present time. I refer to the question of Istria and, more particularly, Trieste. I say "more particularly Trieste "because I feel that, however cynical Ministers may be in the world today, they could never dream of doing other than give Istria to Yugoslavia. But I do feel that the position with regard to Trieste is very difficult, and I am sorry that the Foreign Secretary is not here, because I should have liked to ask him what exactly the position is to be. I know nothing that has so deeply wounded our friends in Yugoslavia, those who fought with us at a time when we were standing almost alone, a small nation that held at bay 40 divisions, a small nation that suffered in death and wounded and devastation more than any other nation except perhaps Russia, a nation which my right hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) has spoken of so highly. I do not know whether one is allowed to use his name in a quotation, but I should like to say the Yugoslavs have a word for him. They 695 said of the right hon. Gentleman that he loved them so much that he sent his only begotten son to them, and they have a very great regard for him. I mention that because I was so sorry to hear the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Maclean) engage in an attack upon Yugoslavia in the way he did. I wish he had had the courage to come with us on our good will mission, if I may call it that, to Yugoslavia. He would have had a very different opinion from that which he expressed so outrageously in the House tonight.
I want to say that the position with regard to Trieste is one which ought not to cause any difficulty. I do not know why the difficulty has arisen. The Yugoslavs think, in my view naturally, that this matter is not being regarded intrinsically but in the light of our general attitude towards Russia and the question whether Russia shall or shall not have access to a port in the Adriatic. One cannot help feeling that is the basis of this. What other reason could there be? Neither ethnographically nor historically, and certainly not economically, has anyone any right to Trieste except the Yugoslavs. For 1,000 years Slovenes have lived in that part of Europe—certainly under Austria, when the Germans, pressing down from the North, made it a part of the domains of the House of Hapsburg. That was the situation at the time of that ancient Treaty, when Italy offered herself to the highest bidder in 1915 and we bought her because we could afford to offer most by offering her this part of the world. If anybody thinks there is any legality in that today, I feel the people who think that think also that the services which were rendered to us by Italy in 1914–18 were very valuable indeed, and that we can overlook all that has happened in Italy since those days. My friends the Yugoslavs feel deeply wounded that we should put them on the same level as ex-enemy Italy. It is not a laughing matter, but a very serious matter. I believe that here in this situation is one of those pinpricks mentioned by the hon. Member for Cheltenham which might develop into a difficult situation, even as the situation in Danzig developed after the last war. I hope that Foreign Ministers will take their courage into their hands and give Istria and Trieste back to where they belong.
696 I would like to say a word about the remarks made in the course of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster, who I am sorry to say is not in his place. He might have known that the question of Yugoslavia would be raised. It might be imagined, from the things he said in the course of his speech, that Yugoslavia was some sort of totalitarian State—but it is very far from it—a State where nothing but civil war took place during the years of the great war, and that all the crimes had been committed by one side, and that not the side for which I am speaking tonight.
§ Flight-lieutenant Teeling (Brighton)
May I point out to the hon. Lady that the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Maclean) did not mention Yugoslavia in his speech from start to finish, and the hon. Lady was not present.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Teeling
Is not the hon. Lady making a mistake? Does she not mean the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn)?
§ Mrs. Manning
It was certainly not the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), whom I know well, although I may have been mistaken in the hon. Member's constituency.
§ Mrs. Manning
I would like to say to the hon. and gallant Member that I read his speech on our journey with great interest while I was away. I say to the hon. and gallant Member and to other hon. Members opposite who have expressed interest in this matter that some of the most terrible things that took place in Yugoslavia took place on the initiative of those whom they now befriend. I wish that some of them could have been with me as I stood on the heights behind Ljubljana on my way down to Trieste in a beautiful wood, drenched with the golden sunlight of the Adriatic; the air filled with the songs of birds, but also with another sound—the crying of women who had come to identify their dead, for we stood beside the common grave into which had been thrown the bodies of hundreds who had 697 Fought against the common enemy with us. We saw, spread out, the corpses which had been disinterred—not a very pleasant sight—but grotesque, shapeless flesh, filling the air with a horrible stench. These were the bodies of people who had been done to death by those whom hon. Members now try to protect with their words. I believe that Marshal Tito is going to make of Yugoslavia a great country which we may honour, and I believe may find an extremely useful friend in that part of the world; a country which looks to us, and not only to Russia—it is not entirely Slav—to help them to climb the democratic ladder upon the first rungs of which the people have now set their feet.
I would like to say to the House tonight—and I would like my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to hear it—that the new world is no longer in the West. The new world is in Europe. Europe is now beginning on one of those great epochs which have marked the whole of progress in history, one of those great epochs which one may liken to that of the ancient Christian chivalry, and then to the rise of the bourgeoisie. But now it is something much more, the rising of the great masses of the common workers and the peasants in the world. Europe has risen. Europe looks to us to help her forward in the coming march of the workers. We have not only a great responsibility but a great opportunity now offered to us. We can become the leaders of Europe; we can win the most golden and wonderful of dividends it is possible to win. We can renew once again the great moral victory and the leadership which we had had in this country in 1848, but which we had thrown away in the intervening years. Let us go forward and our Foreign Secretary may yet be the greatest Foreign Secretary of modern times, may yet lead this nation, and the rest of the world, into a thousand years of peace.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I have been 40 years in the working-class movement of this country. I have attended all kinds of demonstrations and all kinds of conferences, and I have never in all my experience had any reason to doubt the Labour analysis that the fundamental causes of war were the greed of the capitalist class, their chase for markets and their grab for profits. I think that 698 is the position of the Labour movement yet, for I see no reason to think they have changed. I supported the Prime Minister when we brought forward a Motion of thanks to the troops on the ground that it was undesirable to particularise, because it was easy to choose the wrong people leaving a peculiar feeling about those who had been left out. This afternoon the Prime Minister went away from that principle that was applied in the Motion of thanks to the troops, and he started particularising. He said there is no fear of our going to war with our Dominions, that there is no fear of our going to war with America. What about the others? It is a dangerous thing to particularise.
Why is there no danger of our going to war with America? Is it because we are too weak? Is it because America has become so powerful now that we cannot oppose her? In 1938 the Federation of British Industries was in Berlin and made an agreement with the big monopolist capitalists of Germany against America. Would anyone deny that? It was the first declaration of economic war against America, if things had not gone wrong for the F.B.I. They had the agreement signed and then the Nazis went into Prague. Hon. Members ought to look back into the records of this country and see what the political leaders said about America in the time of the Civil War, when they were backing the South against the "barbarous" North. They should see what they said in that fight for freedom. It is very dangerous, this particularising.
What is it that we are concerned with? What is the job of the Foreign Secretary and the Government? Is it to build or to blast? That is a simple question. The answer, so far as the people of this country are concerned, is that their job is to build. If they are going to build—where? They are going to build a new Europe. In association with the Soviet Union and the other progressive peoples of Europe, they are going to start to build a new Europe on the ruins of the old. They are going to build something better than ever before. That is the job before the Foreign Secretary and the Labour Government. That is the direction our policy should take. If you are going to have capitalists and landlords here you will want capitalists and landlords in the other countries. If you do not have them 699 here, you will not want them in the other countries. The Labour Government have a mandate from the people to build in this country, and to build in Europe, as a progressive force in Europe. What a job for the Foreign Secretary and the Labour Government!
A couple of weeks ago I went to a mental hospital —[Laughter] —fortunately, I came out again. I was talking to one or two of the lads there. One came up, not a bad-looking fellow, and said "Do you know me? "I said, "I know your face very well, but I can't just place you at the moment." He said, "lam Einstein. If you had the brains I had, you would be worth £ 30,000. But what use is money if your stomach is out of order? If your mind is at rest your stomach will be at rest, and my stomach is in order." Not bad. I came away from that mental hospital, and I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He said that we are four years ahead of any other country with the atomic bomb. By the time any other country gets to where we are, we will have a plus terrible weapon and by the time they get there we shall have a double plus terrible weapon—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) is not in a mental institution. Has anyone heard of anything more insane?
There has been much talk about what is happening in Europe and the Soviet Union. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), when he was talking about Russia and the neighbouring States, tried to suggest that somehow or other the Soviet Union was making a bloc. All he could" bring out was that they had an economic treaty with Hungary. There was never any question that the Soviet Union was working for friendly Governments in the countries thereabout. Do we want friendly Governments in the countries round about us? Of course we do, and we have got them. France is friendly, so are Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway. What more do we want? This talk about a Western bloc is the same illusion as was the Four Power bloc pursued by the Tory Government before 1939. The Soviet Union has no bloc. This country needs no bloc, with friendly Governments round about, and with friendly rela- 700 tions with every progressive Government in Europe.
§ Mr. Gallacher
There is much talk about the lack of democracy. What is the matter in Yugoslavia and in Bulgaria? The trouble is that the progressive forces that brought about the liberation of those countries refuse to allow themselves to be divided up. They will not break up their unity and give the landowning group a chance to get back again; they will not give the reactionaries a chance to get back again. Having won freedom for their country through unity, they are entitled to maintain that unity and get rid of the landlords for good and all. The landlords have been swept out in all those countries, and I hope it will not be long before they are swept out here. When we have the unity of all the working-class forces here, we shall have one party and we will blot out the Tory Party, and be able to get on with the job without any trouble of any kind.
Let me deal with the question which has been raised about democracy. The Indonesians are fighting for their independence. What sort of demonstration of democracy are we making there? Have they a right to fight for independence? Had America any right to fight for its independence 150 years ago? We have had so many slanders and attacks against the Soviet Union; we have had all this talk about the displaced persons in Europe. We have had Member after Member, particularly the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), posing as humanitarians. Are they concerned about the displaced persons in Europe? Not a bit. It is an opportunity for an attack upon the Soviet Union. I do not believe one jot or tittle of the professions of those people who have been talking about the displaced persons in Europe. Over in Surabaya an instruction was given, or advice was given, by our military Forces to the women and children to clear out, to get into the hills, to get anywhere, and there are these men, women and children running out to the hills, anywhere, seeking shelter and life. Did we have any of these people to whom I have referred raising the question of the treatment of the Indonesians, the people of Surabaya?
701 There are the rubber plantations, and in the Near East is oil. On these subjects there is never a word from any of those who talk so much about humanitarianism.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
The hon". Member must give us a chance. Some of us who have been very concerned about many of the people displaced in Europe, and who would be very sorry to see the scenes in certain parts of Europe which have been authentically described to us, have been very strong in our attitude for years over the treatment of the Colonial people. He should not put us together in that way.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I am sorry. I was not looking to the rear but in the direction of the hon. Member for Ipswich and some other hon. Members. If I had looked at the rear I would have known that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) has always taken a thorough and strong stand on behalf of the Colonial peoples. The important fact to which I wish to draw attention is that if we are going to have peace in the world—and it is essential that we should have peace—it is absolutely necessary that we should start building a new Europe, and, in order to ensure that that is done, the first thing is to bring together the three big countries. We all realise the part that capitalism has played in promoting war. When the three big countries come together there must be a curb on capitalism. The three nations must come together and build around them the solid security of the United Nations—that is essential—but in the process of doing that they must go ahead with the building of a new Europe. 1 say to the Government, let them turn their attention to the great task that lies before this country, to see that they unite with the progressive forces of Europe—the new forces that are coming forward-for the rebuilding of a shattered and broken Europe.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
During this Debate on foreign affairs there has been extremely little reference to the Far Eastern question—not nearly enough. I believe if we devote too much of our attention to Europe and to America, we run the grave risk of forgetting an area of the world which has been important in the past and is going to be more important in the future. As far as I can make 702 out, it is looked upon at the moment almost entirely as the area in which the atomic bomb fell, which provides its chief topic of interest. Outside that, there has been a reference by the last speaker—whose perambulatory style of oratory I dare not venture to imitate owing to limited time—to Indonesia. That, I think, was based on a profound lack of know- ledge combined with an absolutely firm determination not in any circumstances to learn from facts. The violent attack on capitalists and landlords, who seem to be classified together in much the same way as eggs and bacon, is beginning to lose its point, and I would recommend to the hon. Gentleman that he should return to the Blackpool school of Bolshevism, and learn at the next annual meeting, a few new epithets to hurl at us which will be more effective than those which he is using at the moment.
I would like to say one thing about the atomic bomb and scientific research. There seems to be prevalent an idea—and I think it is rather a dangerous one —that scientific research is not chemistry but alchemy; that it is a sort of magic practised by one or two exceptionally gifted individuals sitting at midnight in a laboratory; a sudden flash of inspiration, a look into a test tube, and an epoch making discovery is made. That is the Hollywood view, but not the real view. What really happens is, I think, closely analagous to what the common insect does. It is a slow, almost imperceptible process carried out by a vast range of people all over the world, led, it is true, by a band of more gifted scientists. But the real hard work, the method of trial and error, which is used in science just as in everything else, is done, I believe, by those who do not get the most credit for it. I would put in a plea for the scientific research worker all over the world who really is the father of nearly every modern invention.
I believe that it is impossible in the long run to maintain for any length of time, any invention as the secret property of any one nation. That does not mean that there are not occasions such as this, when political and not scientific considerations come in. It is very important that people should differentiate in their minds between the scientific and the political. The two are really separate worlds, and although they can join together for certain great purposes, the 703 methods of one are not the methods of the other. It is very important to realise that. Turning to the Far East, I believe it is extremely important, in order to understand many of the problems
§ Mr. John Lewis (Bolton)
Would the hon. Gentleman follow his argument to its logical conclusion? If, as he says, science makes it possible for people in any part of the world to discover the same things, because of the logical process to which he has referred, does he also say that political reasons in any way differ from scientific reasons, so far as the dissemination of this knowledge is concerned?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I would' not venture to guide the hon. Member through the tortuous ways of his mind. He must draw his own conclusions.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Turning to the Far East, we must realise that there has been a veil for some time over events there and there is not sufficient interest in the Far East to force the issue of having the veil drawn aside. I think we forget our very great Ally, China, her needs and her contribution to the war. If our policy towards China is correct and generous in every way, we shall be making for ourselves a very happy future in Far Eastern affairs. It is a mistake to imagine that we should be jealous in our attitude in relation to the fact that the United States are undoubtedly at the present moment the dominating factor in the Far East. Because that vast area with its 500,000,000 inhabitants is open to the United States as a market in which they take the lead, we should not say to ourselves that that is a matter about which we' should be jealous in any way at all. On the contrary, I believe that if, under the guidance of America, China advances and her standard of life increases, when we return to help her with wider markets and better trade, her people will rise from seven years of war and misery to better things. I suggest that we can even now make a contribution, and on that, I would like in all humility to put a point to the Foreign Secretary.
704 Here, as in so many other spheres, we can do little on the material plane, but we have a great fund of knowledge and experience which we have garnered through many centuries of political wisdom and "know how." We have knowledge of how to deal and trade with native peoples. I have seen for many years the respect in which we are held, despite many of the ill-judged and ill-founded accusations made from the other side of the House. I say in all sincerity, that if we contribute our knowledge, leadership and guidance, and America contributes on the more material plane, we can, by a joint and unselfish effort, once again help in China and in the Far East. It is most important that we should have a clear and direct policy towards China of all the countries which are now passing through the trouble phase, such as Indonesia and Indo-China. The Chinese, who are great travellers and great people, believe in their country and in settling down and becoming prosperous, while helping the prosperity of other countries. If we have consolidated and made good a clear, helpful policy towards China and the Far East, we shall have done a very great work for them. Incidentally, when the period comes when we do not have to consider exports in quite the same light as at present, we shall have prepared for ourselves a means of raising the standard of living in our own country. [An Hon. Member: "What policy? "] A perfectly clear policy—that we are not jealous of America in any way, that we propose to open up in China in every possible way, that we grant permission as soon as possible for people to travel there, to open up our trade, open our consulates, etc. That is a policy which is perfectly clear to those who have been to those countries.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am sorry that intervention is so irrelevant that I cannot think of an answer. To return to my distant path in the Far East, I hope that the Government during this Debate will make certain points clear to us. One is in regard to Hong Kong. I believe, and this is based on talks with a great many of my friends in China, that one of the greatest services we could render China would be to retain our place in Hong Kong. [Hon. Members: "Why?"] 705 for one very good reason. Since the giving up of extra-territorial rights in China—which was a splendid move on the part of those who did it—there has to be some place of confidence, where business and similar transactions can be carried out. China is at present in a state of chaos; it is extremely unlikely that she will be able to revive the whole of her legal system for many years to come, and by having British justice and British methods available in Hong Kong we shall be doing her a very great service. That is not my belief only, but that of a great many others in China. We shall be taking the lead there, and we shall have the support of our American friends in doing it. Finally, I hope that we shall have some pronouncement regarding a joint policy with the United States, which may well have arisen in the conversations which the Prime Minister has had during his recent trip.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks (Broxtowe)
The hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Fletcher) has directed his remarks to the Far East. T do not propose to follow him there except to remark that there, in the Far East, is one of the danger-spots of the world at the present time. Great patience and great statesmanship will have to be exercised in the next two years if we are not to see there the start of another terrible war.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in his opening speech today make a remark to the effect that, with the release of atomic energy, science has placed in the hands of mankind a power greater than we, in the present state of our political organisation, can be trusted to control. That is very true. Placing that awful power in the hands of humanity in its present state of development is almost like placing the Holy Grail itself, blushing with the blood of the Redeemer, in the hands of a gorilla. Indeed, the problem is, in the short space of time that is allotted to us, to create a political organisation to which this terrible power can safely be entrusted. I doubt whether it can be done. Knowing, as we do, that absolute power corrupts absolutely, it seems to me that to place this terrible power for destruction in the hands of some Council, even if that Council consisted of the President of the Free Church Council, 706 the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope of Rome, would be to cause that Council itself in a very short time to be corrupted. Nevertheless, even if civilisation is under sentence of death, we must do our best, as well as we can, just as we do as individuals even though each one of us is doomed to die.
One of the first things I think we should do is to adopt the suggestion that 'was put forward by the Federation of Atomic Scientists in America, 90 per cent, of whom were engaged in the research that led to the making of the atomic bomb, and invite Russia, America and this country to an immediate conference, without there being any preliminary commissions whatever, to discuss the danger to the world that has been created by the discovery of the way to release atomic energy and discuss the methods by which this awful power may possibly be controlled. I am not very hopeful that such a conference would end in complete success, but I think that something might emerge from it that might help in the formation of a world order which we all desire, and the need for which was voiced so eloquently this afternoon by the former Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington. It is only the formation of a world order that can save humanity from almost inevitable destruction.
We know that, as a result of the last war, three great Powers have emerged with immense and towering resources—Russia, America, and ourselves. It is clear that the peace of the world can be preserved only as long as those three great Powers remain united; it is almost a platitude to say that, tout platitudes are often true. Hence we have in the Charter of the United Nations, which has nothing to do with collective security, let it be known that the preservation of peace must depend upon the union of those three Powers. Collective security, which was sought after the last war, means, of course, that if all the nations stand together against a potential aggressor, there will never be a war because no one nation can successfully defy the collective power of the rest of the world. That position has passed altogether, because at the present time neither Russia nor America can be coerced by the rest of the world without a world war. There- 707 fore, in this Charter the idea of collective security has been frankly abandoned. There is no definition in it of aggression, no statement as to what is to happen to an aggressor; under the new system any of the- great Powers can act exactly as they like without fear of inquiry or penalty, and even a small nation can attack another small nation and no one can stop it if one of the Big Five interposes its veto. Under the Charter no great Power can be forced to take action against its wishes by any action of the other four Powers combined. They are like the gods on Olympus, as depicted by Euripides in "Hippolytus," where Artemis says at the end:No god may thwart a god's fixed will; We grieve, but stand apart.That is the position of the United Nations. In other words, collective security is dead, and we may as well say so. We go back to the uncompromising fact that world peace depends upon the three Great Powers, and, on that basis, effective machinery has been or is being devised by which we hope to preserve the peace of the world for some years to come. During this breathing space—it is no more than that, and it may very well be a short one—we must endeavour to bring about international economic co-operation, through the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations, by building up stocks of food and raw materials under international control, to be rationed out to the various nations according to their requirements, as suggested by the report of the United Nations on economic stability, in the post-war period, by Mr. Wallace, and by our own Foreign Secretary.
I rejoice that we have as Foreign Secretary at the present time a statesman who has applied his mind to that particular subject for years, and who realises that rationing and orderly marketing can do much to end that cut-throat competition for markets, which is the characteristic of capitalism and one of the most potent causes of war. During the war, we had an example of what can be done in that direction, in the Middle East Supply Council. There, we had Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Iran and ten other countries who were enabled to obtain their food and other commodities, according to their various needs. In 1941, the harvest 708 failed throughout the Middle East, and the population would have perished if it had not been for the action of the Middle East Supply Council, which purchased 600,000 tons of grain from Canada and Australia and arranged for it to be shipped to those countries. That is a small example, in a limited way, of what can be done by the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations, and, for the first time in history in this country, we have a Foreign Secretary with a solid grasp of this economic problem, and a far greater interest in it than in the evasions and polite insincerities of ordinary orthodox diplomacy. The right hon. Gentleman stated some time ago that the Government regarded the economic reconstruction of the world as the primary objective of their foreign policy. I wish him and them God speed in their heavy task, on which the preservation of the peace of the world so largely depends.
I want to say a word on regional arrangements under Articles 52, 53 and 54 of the United Nations Charter. It was said the other day that the most urgent case for regional grouping was Europe. Here is the heart of the problem of the restoration and integration of Europe in a regional group. This has been an urgent problem long before to-day. By Europe, I mean Western Europe, not Eastern Europe. I mean the nations which formerly formed part of the Roman and Hellenic Empires, all of which have Socialist Prime Ministers at the present moment. Whether we like it or not, we have to recognise the vital fact that the whole of Eastern Europe, up to the Elbe, to-day, is becoming a Russian sphere of influence. Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia are becoming their special sphere. These countries have many economic, political and ideological ties with the Soviet Union. Therefore, it seems to be quite useless for America or ourselves to refuse to recognise some of these Governments, to protest against economic agreements, or to demand free, popular elections on the British model in those countries, such as they have never enjoyed in the whole of their history.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Are these closer ties between the Soviet Union and these European countries being arranged at the wish of the peoples of the nations concerned?
§ Mr. Cocks
Yes, I think so; especially of the working people. It seems to be absurd that we should insist that our admirable system—by which we won the last election—the fine flower of generations of healthy government, should be forced upon Balkan States when the people have been kept in ignorance for years, where the ruling classes are rotten to the core, where Ministers and workers during the war collaborated with the Nazis. To those peoples, as to the people of Soviet Russia, democracy means something very different from what it means to us.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Did the hon. Gentleman suggest that the Poles worked with the Nazis of German?
§ Mr. Cocks
No, not in that particular case. I was referring to the Balkan States at that moment. Those countries in the first place want economic security, and political democracy, as we understand it, can come later. That is their view of things, and, therefore, it is useless and dangerous for us to interfere. It is useless because we can do nothing at all about it; it is dangerous because it is causing a breach between ourselves and Soviet Russia, which is holding up the work of reconstruction everywhere in Europe and making nonsense of our own election statement, that the return of the Labour Government would make possible the friendship of Soviet Russia. It seems absurd to me that the United States should demand bases in the Pacific Islands, and claim that she is to be virtually the only country to decide on the future of Japan, and then that she should interfere in Rumania and Bulgaria. Just as we recognise the Monroe Doctrine in the West, so should the same, or a similar doctrine be recognised in Eastern Europe. We should concentrate chiefly upon cultivating our own garden, which in some ways is the richest and most promising of all.
The Foreign Secretary, in his earlier speeches, spoke of the appalling economic problems now facing Western Europe, and of the terrifying organisation which exists there. Giant problems require giant solutions. I suggest that, in collaboration with the French Government, and other Governments, we should endeavour to set up under the United Nations Charter, a European planning authority and a 710 Reconstruction Council, with the object of forming Western Europe into one economic unit, with its industry planned on natural lines, rather than on national lines, and with internal tariff walls swept away. There should be a common currency, a common banking system and a common transport service, instead of a system of railways cutting across frontiers. Frontiers should not be regarded as barriers, protected by rocket and atomic bomb projectors. In saying this, I am not talking about a Utopian dream, because those views are the views of European statesmen. We are sometimes told that such a system would necessarily be hostile to the Soviet Union or to America. It is true that neither of those countries would like us to have a system of that kind: America, because she thinks it would be a sterling area and not subservient to dollar diplomacy; the Soviet Union, because she is afraid of combinations hostile to her. I think there is no need for those fears at all. A united Socialist Western Europe should be able to live in perfect amity with a Communist Eastern Europe, exchanging their goods by barter or mutual arrangement. Then the special problems of Germany would be merged in the wider problem of Europe and solved with it. That, to my mind, is a way to sanity and a way to peace.
We have been accused by hon. Members opposite at different times of advocating a foreign policy based on the shifting sands of ideology rather than on the solid rock of war friendships. History shows, I am afraid, that there is nothing so fleeting, nothing so evanescent, as friendships founded upon alliances of war, and there is nothing so solid and permanent as the possession of a common faith and common interest. Western Europe, once upon a time, was held together by the traditions, the language, the law and the rule of Imperial Rome; later, to some extent, by the common possession of the Catholic faith. Rome has fallen, and the faith has fled—it is no longer the force it was. That common bond has been dissolved, and if Western Europe is again to be united, it can only be by the unifying agency of Socialism, an economic system that unites, just as competitive capitalism divides. In my view Western Europe must now become Socialist or perish, and England must lead the way. In this Parliament let that be our task, and its achievement our glory.
§ 9.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
The Prime Minister in opening this Debate said—and we all echo his words—that one of the key notes of our policy should be that there must be no repetition of a world war. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised the necessity for increased confidence not only in the work of government, but confidence of the peoples of the world in each other. I want to devote the few minutes at my disposal to that particular theme, which was also referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) when he said that the policy of all must be to bring all together. It is, I suggest to the House, a question of degree, how that shall be accomplished. We have heard much during this Debate about Russian influence and the desire to achieve a united front between America, Russia and Great Britain.
The question of the atomic bomb has been predominant. Various suggestions have been put forward by hon. Members opposite on the need for Russia to clarify her position, and bring herself into line with the requirements of America and Great Britain. No one knows how difficult it is for the present Foreign Secretary to clear out the aftermath of all the negotiations and intrigue between us and Russia during the years between the wars. It is not possible. Could we reasonably expect that a great country like Russia will forget overnight everything that took place during those years, right from the time when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who was not then representing that constituency, was so instrumental in sending our troops over to Russia in order to try to defeat the revolution? Following on that we had the Zinoviev letter scare, which again tried to foment bad relations between us and Russia. Later there was the Arcos raid, and again a fomentation of bad relations. The keynote running through it all was that Russia would not pay her debts—debts contracted under what particular circumstances? It is from that point we must approach the whole problem, the need to get the confidence of Russia and the need to get the confidence of the peoples of the world, if I may echo the Prime Minister's words. We have seen during the war years a close alliance between Russia and two great countries, 712 but now we find the same suspicion creeping into everything. We find the atomic bomb being utilised and developed not to further that alliance but to cut across our relations with Russia.
We have found in Eastern Europe a similar set of suspicions creeping in and it is to the Balkans that I want chiefly to devote my few remarks. We heard from the Opposition benches some fortnight ago statements about Russian influence in Yugoslavia. Some of us read while in Yugoslavia reports of the speeches, and what the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Flight-Lieut. Teeling) said when he accused a great nation of inviting a group of British Members of Parliament to visit them so that they could be chaperoned round in order to see a clear-cut Government policy, casting suspicions galore in order to try to defeat the very objects of a nation just springing to a new life, getting far, far away from the policy suggested by the Premier and the policy suggested by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, the policy of confidence. During our sojourn in Yugoslavia we were given—quite the opposite of what was said in this House—the utmost freedom to go where we liked, to interview what people we liked, to speak with the people through our interpreters. I can only say, in passing, that I am shocked that the Tory Party were not represented on that delegation. They had the opportunity; certain members accepted and then withdrew. It would have been much better in that unofficial party if there had been representatives of the Opposition. They would have found, as we found, that instead of a country that was suspicious towards this country, it was a country very well disposed and friendly towards Great Britain.
§ Lieut. William Shepherd (Bucklow)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that the suspicion is entirely due to this country?
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am suggesting that the situation that exists arises from ignorance of the actual conditions of that country. There was a whispering campaign. It would have been well therefore if the Opposition had been represented in order that they might find, as we found, a country which was friendly during these difficult years. We found that the R.A.F. had played a tremendous part in Yugoslav history and had done a tremendous lot 713 towards creating a friendly feeling for Britain, as did the paratroops who were dropped among the partisans. At Trieste, difficulties and lack of common sense at that time, created a certain suspicion which did not destroy the good feeling, but held a cloud over it. We have found, however, that the people still have faith in us and still desire to understand us and associate with us. Some people feel more concerned about collaborating with Fascist Italy than collaborating with a free people like the Yugoslavs. [Hon. Members: "Rubbish."] I am voicing the opinion of that country and not my own opinion. We found that that is what is in the minds of those people.
There should be some gesture from us, in order that they may ally themselves with Western democracy. They are not tied to any routine economic theory. As soon as the country was liberated, they asked the Russian troops to move out and this the Russian troops did. They feel that they would like our confidence also. The whole of the people in that country realise the tremendous amount of good work done by U.N.R.R.A. A Russian is in charge of U.N.R.R.A. in Yugoslavia and his chief personal assistant is an Englishman, and that body is working smoothly and in very close collaboration. The goods that they are receiving for relief of destitution in Yugoslavia are actually reaching the people, with no black market. U.N.R.R.A. is satisfied with what is being done and the goods they are handing over to the Government there are going where they are actually needed. There is a good feeling of friendship between that country and our own and they hope for the establishment of confidence between the peoples of Europe.
Another matter about which they are very suspicious is the position of war criminals. This country which fought so magnificently on its own and experienced in its own country the fluctuations of war on many occasions has seen the Allies declare as part and parcel of their aims the return of various war criminals. Commissions have gone to enemy countries to seek out war criminals. Yugoslavia has submitted applications, and asked for the return of a number of war 714 criminals who committed atrocities in their country that take one's breath away and yet they find these people away in Italy today as tourists. The Yugoslavs asked that certain persons should stand their trial in Yugoslavia and they find that these persons are now in control of the education department in Trieste. That is a thing which they cannot understand, and they ask for some enlightenment. They ask the Western democracies to give them that evidence of confidence to which they feel entitled.
I also feel that if we desire to establish confidence between the peoples of the world, here is a country where we might commence, a country which is coming anew to life, where wonderful events are taking place; where for the first time in history, four races are becoming united in one nation; where four countries are combining on a certain set of economic laws for the Balkan States as a whole; where there is good feeling and good fellowship, with a grim determination that the King Peter regime is never going to return. [An Hon. Member: "Why not? "]Because they say, to use their own words: "Marshal Tito stood and fought; Peter ran." That is the only thing that concerns them. These people are making a stand, but we must not confuse the illiterate peasants and try to give to them our democracy which has been built up over many years. They are building a new democracy. They are fighting today a similar battle to that which this Parliament fought a hundred years ago. These Yugoslavs are determined to achieve that aim whether we assist them or not to remedy their economic conditions, which are very bad.
I am sorry there is not more time to develop this theme, but I urge that the keynote of the Government's policy must be that indicated by the Prime Minister. By. establishing confidence among the peoples of the world, between us and Russia, between us and the Balkan States, we may hope to see that Socialist ideal realised. We must see that a change in our foreign policy takes place to meet the situation caused by the new revolution born in Europe. The old diplomacy must go by the board once and for all.