§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr.Mathers.]
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bevin)
I must, as on a previous occasion in a foreign affairs Debate, pay a compliment to those who have delivered their maiden speeches. These foreign affairs Debates seem to give a great opportunity for new Members to reveal the very deep study which not only they, but obviously those whom they represent, have given to world problems. I must say it is a very healthy and encouraging sign. I do not propose, in this statement, to take every point which hon. Members have raised in their speeches, and reply to them, but I have tried, since the House adjourned last night, to summarise under headings the questions that have been raised, and as so much was mentioned I am afraid I must warn the House that it will take me some time to cover the whole ground, especially in view of the complex nature of the problems raised I would also like to say that if today I stick very closely to my brief it will be understood that every word I say concerns not merely this House or this country, but will be fastened on, in these difficult days, in so many countries in the world. Therefore, I thought it better to try to stick to the document, rather than be tempted by any rhetoric, or flights of oratory.
In the course of the discussions yesterday much was said about suspicion, and I would like to deal with that at once. I can only repeat what I said on 7th 760 November, that if the Great Powers which are primarily concerned will say exactly what they want, either in territory or bases or in any other form, then it can be examined, and there is no need to take action of any kind which will cast reflections on the actions of one another. I used the phrase on that occasion:Put the cards on the table face upwards."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 1341.]If any large or small nation in the world is suspicious of Great Britain I invite them—I repeat, I invite them—to tell me frankly what their suspicions are, and I will frankly face them. Equally, I say to other countries that nothing can remove suspicion but the utmost frankness as to our respective policies. I cannot see why there should be suspicion at all. We have agreed to the United Nations, we know its obligations. I will refer later in my speech to the issues raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I am only dealing with things as they are at the moment, but we are a party to the United Nations, and Great Britain will not be afraid, and will not in any way decline to have anything it does, or wants or seeks to promote, discussed in open assembly, at the United Nations if necessary. I do not think I can be franker than that to remove suspicion.
The right hon. Gentleman raised questions yesterday on the procedure that should be adopted in connection with the atom bomb and the communique which was issued in Washington. I do not think that any good purpose would be served at the moment in calling a special meeting to consider that. All Members of the United Nations have been warned that the General Assembly will meet on 2nd January or 7th January, and that is not very far ahead. I hope that the atom bomb will not be used before 7th January in any case. [Laughter.] There should be opportunities for the consideration of this vital document when the General Assembly meets. It would not, I think, and the right hon. Gentleman, with his experience, will agree, be technically possible to summon a special meeting earlier in any case especially in view of all the arrangements that have to be made for the General Assembly. That Assembly will have as its first task 761 the election of the Security Council, and the proposals of His Majesty's Government, the United States of America and Canada will no doubt then be considered, and early decisions taken as to how the Commission should be set up. Having examined the problem afresh, I think it is best to let it take its normal course. I would rather it were taken in the normal stride in this way than that we should have a special conference to deal with one phase of defence or aggression by itself. Therefore, let it take its course in that way.
I want, however, to make it clear that, whatever may be the ultimate result of the consideration and discussion of the constitution of the United Nations, its effectiveness or otherwise, which, as I say, I will deal with towards the end of my speech, I must say at the outset that that instrument has been created. It is on the Statute Books of an overwhelming majority of the nations in the world. We must develop that instrument. It is ready at hand, and if new dangers have caused the need for more new measures, this final step to world order must be dealt with without detriment to the using of the instrument we have created up to date. Therefore, it will be the purpose of His Majesty's Government to utilise the United Nations, may I say stretch it to the limit of its capacity from the security point of view, conscious all the time, as the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday, that the world is moving so fast that a great change has taken place even since he was at San Francisco.
Now may I turn to a review, summarised as I have indicated, of the questions that have been raised in the Debate, and probably one or two that were not dealt with very fully? I would like first of all to refer to France, which was dealt with by several hon. Members in connection with the alleged Western bloc. I do not want to say any more than I said on 7th November, except that, suspicion or no suspicion—I cannot help it if people have groundless suspicions—they have no right to accuse us, and I am not going to accept it. But His Majesty's Government must go on with the task of building up friendships with our immediate neighbours economically, and assisting one another in the promotion of the wellbeing of all of us. If people say that we are doing wrong, let them examine what we 762 do. I can only say that we shall not, in any arrangements that we make, commit any unfriendly act towards any other nation, great or small. I cannot accept the view that all my policy and the policy of His Majesty's Government must be based entirely on the "Big Three." I recognise, as was said yesterday, that they are great Powers which, if exercising their responsibilities aright and justly, can be a great umbrella for the security and peace of millions throughout the world. But if an ambassador, or representative, or a foreign secretary visits me to discuss a matter between his nation and ours, I cannot allow myself for one moment to consider whether he represents a great nation or a small one.
I think it will be accepted by the House and by the country that I would be failing in my duty if I did not try to decide the issue on the basis of the facts, and do right because it was right to do right—not because of my fears of what might happen if I did wrong. That is the principle upon which we must work, and I hope that will not be interpreted as being antagonistic to anybody. It does not matter whether it is a small nation or a big one. To me they are human beings. The fact that they are divided into large or small countries may be an accident of power or an accident of geography, but it does not alter the value of the contribution which they can make to humanity as a whole. Neither can we be influenced by the fact that, owing to the aggression of other nations, temporarily I hope, some nations have been knocked down, as it were. We must have regard to their history, their culture, their contribution and their civilising influence—and I would say that civilising influence is not determined by the volume of armaments you have got, but by the cultural devolopment that you possess.
In the case of France there is a great history, and I am convinced that there is a great future. We have followed recent events in Paris with close interest, and, while it would obviously not be right for me to comment in any detail on any internal French matter, I think I may, in the name of all of us, quite properly express our satisfaction that the crisis has been successfully overcome and a solution reached which appears mutually satisfactory to all parties concerned. At all events, I can assure General de Gaulle and his new government that we are 763 looking forward to working most closely with them and to carrying still further that close collaboration which we enjoyed with the late French Government. The political crisis of France was, of course, a direct outcome of the recent French elections which were almost the first national elections to be held since the war. These elections were not simply a political event. They marked the reaffirmation by Frenchmen of their faith in the traditions of liberty and individual freedom. It is on this sure foundation that the French are restoring their country and rebuilding the shattered framework of their economy, and it is on this basis that His Majesty's Government intend to collaborate with them.
Arising out of the war—if I may deal with some European problems first—one of the things that have agitated this House and the country has been the vexed problem of the transfer of German populations. Our aim throughout has been to ensure that the Potsdam decisions on this subject are implemented. This means to say that we did not seek to reverse or stop the necessary process of transfers, but we sought to ensure that transfers were carried out in the most humane and orderly fashion possible, and that they were suspended until the Allied Control Council in Berlin had decided the exceedingly complicated questions arising out of the reception and distribution of the refugees in the various zones of Germany. I do not want to speak with any cheerfulness of what is one of the most desperate problems in Europe, but I feel justified in holding out some hope to the House that our efforts have had some success. The most recent reports suggest that expulsions and forced migrations from Poland have diminished considerably in volume. Expulsions and migrations from Czechoslovakia were, on the whole, loyally suspended by the Czechoslovak Government after the Potsdam decision was announced. Here, too, I have reason to believe that such movements as have continued to take place have recently diminished. I therefore feel entitled to say that the situation shows some improvement, even though this applies rather to present expulsions than to the condition of those already expelled, which, I confess, remains still bad.
Moreover, the Control Council has now at length begun to make real progress with 764 the plan for the reception and distribution of the migrants. The House will have seen in the Press some details of the plan now agreed by the Allied Control Council in Berlin. This plan provides for the settlement of some 3,500,000 Germans from Poland, 2,500,000 from Czechoslovakia and 500,000 from Hungary. Of this total, 1,500,000 from Poland will be settled in the British zone. This is a little less than our proportionate share of the total, but, having regard to the fact that dwelling space in the British zone has been very much more reduced by bombing than in any other zone, and to the fact that the British zone already contains an exceedingly large number of German refugees from other zones, I think the British zone will certainly have made its full contribution, judged in relation to its absorptive capacity, to the solution of this terrible problem. I am hopeful, therefore, that real progress has been made and that the transfers, when they are now resumed as the result of this agreement, will proceed in the orderly and humane fashion designed at Potsdam.
Another country which has given considerable anxiety, and which was referred to in several hon. Members' speeches, is Poland. I see signs, in spite of the difficulties, of Polish independence asserting itself vigorously but in friendly relation with Soviet Russia. There are signs that the recovery from the stunning effect of the war is beginning to show itself in this country. I ask the House not to be too impatient. When two great armies have flowed over a country, when millions have been massacred, and when nations have been laid low, you cannot expect those nations to recover in a moment. But we must try to understand what the real progressive forces are doing, and, while I cannot by any means pretend that everything is satisfactory—in fact it is not anywhere in the world—
§ Mr. Bevin
—not even in Ireland, yet I would like to feel that if we as a nation had gone through what Poland, Czechoslovakia and some of these other countries have gone through, occupied by two great armies, we would have been blessed with the same resilience that they are beginning to show; and I am not going to say a word which will damp the ardour of some of 765 their leaders. One of the things from which they are suffering most is the destruction of so many of their best and most virile leaders. I know that the Polish State which is a feature of Eastern Europe creates very great difficulties, but I like to see the plant growing and I am not going to pull it up every moment to make sure that it is growing. I, therefore, look forward to Poland reasserting itself as a great independent nation.
For a long time past, however, we have been trying to make arrangements with the Polish Provisional Government for the return to Poland of those of the gallant Polish armed forces under our command who wish to go back. Some 23,000 out of the 67,000 in this country, 14,000 out of the 110,000 in Italy and the Middle East, and a few hundreds of those in North Western Europe have, up to now, expressed the wish to return. I hope that those from Italy will be on their way overland to Austria and Czechoslovakia within the next few days. They have been delayed by complicated discussions with the Czechoslovak and Russian authorities. It has hitherto been impossible to provide shipping for the 23,000 in this country, and the land route across Germany is fully occupied with the returning displaced persons from our zone of occupation, of whom 110,000 have now gone back.
I am glad to announce that we can now make shipping available next month. The Polish Military Mission which was recently here was unable, for some reasons which I do not altogether understand, to discuss the details of the return of these men, but now that shipping will be available there must no further delay. Those from this country and those from Italy will return in uniform and with their personal arms. As to the remainder, many of them, not unnaturally, want more detailed information about the conditions they will find in Poland when they return home, before making up their minds. We suggested to the Polish Provisional Government a long time ago that more would go back if a detailed statement on this subject, agreed with us, could be made known to them all. It has not been possible hitherto to arrange this, but I am glad to say that the Polish Provisional Government have now agreed to concert with our Ambassador in Warsaw the terms of a statement for them to make, covering the points on which the Polish soldiers, 766 sailors and airmen under our command particularly want information. I hope that this will enable many more to take the decision to go back to Poland and to help in the reconstruction of their country. I want to make it clear, however, that there is no intention of using compulsion, and indeed, the Polish Military Mission agree with us in that respect. I think the situation thus developing is more encouraging than it has been hitherto.
I would like now to turn to the points raised in connection with Italy. I sincerely hope that the recent publication of the terms of the Armistice to Italy will have served to show that we have already gone a long way towards removing restrictions on Italy's action as a free and independent nation. Furthermore, the Northern Provinces of Italy which have been retained under Allied Military Government will, I hope, with the exception of a small area, be handed over to the Italian Government within the next few weeks. What Italy needs above all, however, is a strong and united Government. I am glad of the approval that has been given to the extension of the activities of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Italy, and U.N.N.R.A. will, I hope, very shortly resume very considerable responsibility in connection with the supply of foodstuffs and other essential requirements for that country, which should go far to help them in the coming winter. I can only hope—I say this with all sincerity—that the reconstruction of the country will not be frustrated by political wrangling. What is needed is cohesion, and the minds of the Italian people must turn seriously towards the rebuilding of Italy on a democratic basis. This is far more important at this critical stage of her history than mere fighting for place. After all, a nation like Italy that has been under a dictatorship for years loses its political legs, as those who have had responsibility there, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) who has just returned to the House, will appreciate. They are like a man who has lain in bed with paralysis or illness and has to get on to crutches. It takes some time before he can get his strength back, and it is some time before these countries can accustom themselves to vigorous political institutions. I do not despair of that, but I think the words I have said ought to encourage them, and 767 to convey to them what we feel in this country, which is that they must place the rehabilitation of the country before everything else. They will have the good will of others to assist them in that task.
I was asked some questions yesterday by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington about Greece. The House seems to have heard about this little country very many times, and if the statement on Greece is a little lengthy, it is because I want the House to know all the facts. I cannot deny that during recent weeks I have been very gravely concerned at the marked deterioration in the economic and financial situation in Greece. I decided to send the Undersecretary of State with officials to Athens, to examine the conditions on the spot and to make proposals as to the further way in which we can assist Greece to repair the damage caused by the war and to restore her shattered economy. U.N.R.R.A. has been giving great assistance, and U.N.R.R.A. is financed largely by the generosity of the United States, ourselves and Canada, and certain other countries who have made handsome contributions. Much has been put into Greece, but it did seen to me that it was not having the effect that U.N.R.R.A. was intended to have, not merely of temporarily feeding the people but of restoring the economy of the country. As I said in an earlier speech, I think the first speech I delivered in this House as Foreign Secretary, we must avoid the danger of whole nations being, as it were, on the dole. U.N.R.R.A. must be used to re-create their economy, but it seemed to me that what we were doing was not having the right result.
These tasks, therefore, required urgent action, and it was my hope that if the economic and financial reconstruction of Greece could be put in hand on a sound basis, this would remove many of the country's political difficulties. After all, you do not get so much political unrest where people can live decently. Nothing contributes to political upsets so much as economic trouble that can be exploited. It has certainly not been my desire to intervene in Greek internal political affairs or to dictate to the Greek people on these matters. The Under-Secretary reported to 768 me that the Greek Government, headed by M. Kanellopoulos, was not strong enough and that it did not enjoy sufficient popular support to carry through the drastic measures which would have to be undertaken. A stronger Government had therefore to be found which would set itself to this task with determination, and with some prospect of success. All previous attempts to form a strong and representative Government had failed, because of differences of opinion on political questions, such as the date of the election and the plebiscite, and it was the opinion, both of the Regent of Greece and of the British representative there, that until a solution could be found for those political issues, it was idle to expect that the economic and financial problems would be seriously tackled.
The Regent informed me that he had decided to tell the political leaders in Greece that, in the interests of Greek unity, the plebiscite must, in his view, be postponed for three years, and that he would appeal to the politicians to accept this decision and form a united and representative Government which could undertake the task of reconstruction. I did not like this proposal, since it would hold out no firm prospect that the immediate economic and financial task would be undertaken. In fact, I indicated to the Under-Secretary that to deal with this by itself would be to indulge in a political manoeuvre and that any such provision could only be accepted as part of a wider plan for the immediate economic reconstruction of Greece. What I wanted to obtain was that any new Government would undertake a definite and comprehensive programme which would cover not only the political issues but—of much more immediate importance—the economic and financial problems. I, therefore, suggested to the Regent that instead of adopting his proposal, which dealt only with the date of the plebiscite, he should lay before the Greek politicians the following programme and stick to it:
First, elections to be held at the latest by the end of March, 1946;
Secondly, the plebiscite to be held in March, 1948;
Thirdly, immediate steps to be taken to deal on a sound basis with the economic and financial situation and to provide for the reconstruction of Greece.
769 I offered no bribes or loans conditional on dealing with the elections or the plebiscite. All my proposals were directed towards the urgent problem of economic reconstruction—railways, roads, planning, textile production, taking over factories if the Greek employers would not produce to the orders of the Government and putting them in the hands of the State to see that they did produce. I was ready to organise people to go out there to organise co-operative distribution, in order to cut down this frightful profit on U.N.R.R.A. goods, and all the rest of it. All that kind of thing I was endeavouring to introduce into that country. Anyone who knows Greece knows that it is essential that this should be done and that it will have to be done. I informed the Regent that if a strong Government could be formed which would accept the economic programme and would announce its determination to carry it through honestly and vigorously, His Majesty's Government would be prepared to give their full support both to the Regent and to the new Government.
A new Government has been formed. This Government includes the best-known figures in all the Moderate and Republican parties. I wish that it might have included some other of the more representative men, in order to give it a more representative character. There have been many reports about the resignation of the Regent, or about his intention to resign. It is true that at one moment he tendered his resignation because he failed to secure an all-party Government. I hope that he will think better of it and stick to his post and help to see the country through this critical crisis. I can say that since the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) went there under very difficult circumstances, and the Regent took on, the Regent has rendered great service to Greece during a most critical period of her history.
The Under-Secretary of State has already had discussions with the Ministers of the new Greek Government who are concerned with economic and financial matters. They arc now showing a much more realistic, clear-headed attitude towards these problems than has been apparent in earlier talks. They have declared their firm intention of proceeding immediately with the essential measures to check the continued deterio- 770 ration of the economic situation, the rise in prices and the fall of the drachma. I hope these good intentions will be translated without delay into good deeds. If they arc, the Government can be sure of all the support in our power. Through this long and difficult period my sole aim has been to bring about a state of affairs in Greece which would permit of the speedy reconstruction of the country. I hope this new Government will be able to carry that task to a speedy conclusion. If I may speak on the lines of what I said when speaking of Italy, let it not be forgotten that Greece was under the Metaxas dictatorship, Greece has been through a terrible war, Greece has been bleeding since 1912, on and off. Here again, I am not going to be unmindful of all that this little country has gone through, or of the very grave difficulties the Greeks have to face. I am not going to be too critical, and that is why I tried to remove the whole contentious matter from the political plane on to that of economic reconstruction, in order that I might get the country living decently again.
It has been suggested that in supporting a proposal to postpone the plebiscite we have broken pledges given to the King of Greece by the Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretary of the former Government. I cannot agree that His Majesty's Government have ever been committed to any particular date for the plebiscite, or any particular order in which the election and plebiscite should be held. It has always been our desire that the Greek people should decide for themselves, both about their future Government and about their future regime, but we have always insisted that these decisions should be taken when conditions of normal tranquillity have been restored to the country. I do not think any member of the former administration, or of this one, can say that I have experienced any normal tranquillity in Greece since I have been in office, or that at any moment I could have taken an election or plebiscite. We had to build a gendarmerie, the civil service was gone, everything was gone—I am not saying this in a critical sense. Great efforts are being made to turn the Greek Army into a non-political national army, which it ought to be. On one occasion in Athens, when there was a great demonstration, and people advocated civil war, 771 which might have set the place in flames, our London police mission just escorted the people away—as they have escorted me many a time.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I do not wish, in an interruption of a few moments, to go into any of the detailed arguments about pledges and engagements, but I feel it absolutely necessary to place on record my own personal view, namely, that a delay of two or three years in the holding of a plebiscite on the question of monarchy or republic in Greece, would not be a bona fide interpretation of the pledges and understandings we have given, not only to the King but to the Greek people, with whom it is a burning question. I feel bound to place that upon record, and I trust that further detailed examination will be given to the various statements which have been made upon that matter. It is, in my view, vain to suppose that political peace will come to that country by the kind of arrangement which has been proposed, and which postpones the burning question.
§ Mr. Bevin rose—
§ Mr. Churchill
That is my view. [Interruption.] Really, we do try as much as we possibly can to treat these matters in a friendly and reasonable form of discussion, but hon. Gentlemen are so impatient that they make it difficult, even in this field.
§ Mr. Bevin
If my right hon. Friend had waited until I had finished the story of Greece, he would have seen that I deal with the very points he has mentioned. I was a member of the Cabinet and must not reveal what went on in the Cabinet, but I do not remember any mention of a date. I remember the emphasis on the restoration of tranquillity, and I defy anybody to be able to run a plebiscite in Greece at the present moment. I have just learned to-day that men are going out from this country to try and get the registers in order, together with American and French observers.
§ Mr. Bevin
Let me deal with this question of the dates. After all, there was a great Labour Party Conference operating at the time, and the Labour Party at that 772 moment was very resentful of our policy in Greece. I joined with the right hon. Gentleman, as Prime Minister, in the decision, I did not go back on it, and I shall not, but on the other hand, I have to try to see what is the best way to carry it out. Let me deal with the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. It is true that the Varkiza Agreement of last February states that the plebiscite shall be held in 1945 and shall be followed by elections. As the House will be aware, this Agreement was negotiated between the Greek Government of General Plastiras and the E.A.M., and although our efforts and influence played a major part in bringing the Agreement about, it could not be said at any moment that His Majesty's Government were bound by its terms. They were not a party to it. We had certainly not, at that date, made up our minds whether an election or a plebiscite should come first. No question was ever raised on my speech to the Labour Party Conference—indeed, I was complimented by everybody on what I said, and on the order in which I presented it—and I think that in accordance with the Cabinet decision of the time, what I said was absolutely correct. If what I said in a public statement of that kind was not correct, I ought to have been pulled up then. What did I say?
§ Mr. Churchill rose—
§ Mr. Bevin
If the right hon. Gentleman will please have patience, what I actually said in my speech to the Labour Party Conference last December was this:There was first of all, as soon as tranquillity and order were established, to be a general election, and the only thing we stipulated was that the Greek Government must take all precautions, if our name was to be associated with Greece, to ensure that the general election was fair, above board, and that there was no rigging. After that, a plebiscite on the question of monarchy or republic was to be taken. Could anybody, on democratic basis, have a better lay-out than that?That is what I said at the Labour Party Conference last December, and at that time a vote was carried approving it. Since that time, up to the time the Regent of Greece came here, I have tried to give effect to the Varkiza Agreement and have never put forward the Labour Party's statement at all. But did I get a Government? It is not for me to suggest who prevented me from getting a 773 Government in order that I could get an election. But I candidly confess that I do not think I have had a square deal. I think that there have been influences from this country every time I tried to get an all-party Government in Greece. I am not talking about our people, but influences going from this country to Greece which have prevented me— [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Churchill
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear¹ that he is casting absolutely no aspersions on those who sit on these benches.
§ Mr. Bevin
I have made that clear. I am not going to say whom. In all these problems in these Balkan States, this country is full of emigrés of all kinds, and no one knows better than my hon. Friends how difficult this is. I have never at any moment been able to get the Populist party to serve in any Government. I have been appealing to them all the time, irrespective of whether they were Royalists or what they were, to come in and give me a Government in order that I could assist Greece. What I have refused to do is to nominate a Government myself. This is a great difference as against other Balkan States. I preferred to let Greece have her trial and error, and all her difficulties, as long as I could, but I could not see her go down economically. Then, at the last moment, I was told that if I forced this issue of the institutional question before I got tranquillity in the country, I should run the danger of civil war, disturbances and economic disaster, and, God knows, Greece has had enough of that.
For good or ill, just as I stood by the decision in the late Government, I took the decision now with the approval of the Cabinet and said, In what reasonable period can I get this country into a tranquil state to vote on the institutional issue? I have no objection to monarchy in any country as an institution, but let it be a constitutional monarchy, and not a party monarchy. I said to myself that Greece may desire to return to a constitutional monarchy; that is her business, that she must decide without one word of influence from Great Britain. But how long is it going to take me to get Greece out of what I call a party monarchy into a tranquil state? [Interruption.] I do not want to get excited, but I do say 774 that these were our considerations, and believe me, I cannot see—
§ Mr. Bevin
It is between the two opinions that the decision would be, but those two opinions ought not to be influenced by economic disaster. When the head of a State is to be elected, a country ought to be in such a tranquil state, and as prosperous as possible, that judgment, and not prejudice and starvation, should be the guide. I have by this decision tried to get Greece on to a basis where the question of the monarchy could be decided on its merits, without any influence at all either way, and I say to His Majesty now that the greatest contribution he can make to his country is to use all his influence to try to bring Greece back to a healthy and prosperous state, with the aid of the economic assistance we are trying to give, with the help of America and others at the present time, and to put no more sprags in the wheel. This institutional question is a very serious matter indeed. My right hon. Friend knows very well that it is not limited to Greece. I do want in this task of economic reconstruction to try to get Europe back on to a footing in which we may get ordered government and a condition of affairs in which it is possible that countries may live decently and decide their own issues properly. What does it concern Great Britain whether Greece is a monarchy or a Republic? It is not for us to decide. Greece was our ally, Greece has gone through this terrible war, Greece has paid a terrible price, not only in this war but in the Chanak war, in the Turkish war, in the war in which the Coalition at the end of the last war fell. Greece has paid a terrible price, and now I say it is my duty to try, without prejudice, without feeling, to create a condition of affairs in Greece such that this question can be voted upon with sound judgment, and then I hope the country may go on for years making again a great contribution to civilisation.
I would turn for a moment to the Middle East. We are very anxious to co-operate with the Middle Eastern countries in winning the victory of the peace, as we co-operated in winning victory in war. We wish to maintain our 775 relations with the countries of the Middle East on the basis of free and equal partnership. In wartime we all worked together to defeat the enemy. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) refer to the work that was done to prevent starvation in those territories during the war. At that time we built up what was called the Middle East Supply Centre, which rendered very great service. The enemy tried to bring starvation, disease and famine in this region, as well as revolt. His plans were defeated. His Majesty's Government are anxious now to keep in being the same spirit of common effort to promote the well-being, health and prosperity of the people in these regions, and to co-operate with the Governments to raise the standard of living of the common man.
During the war the Middle East Supply Centre was a joint Anglo-American organisation. These offices have been abolished, but we wish to preserve those parts of the organisation which will be useful to the Middle East countries in peace. We have, therefore, set up a British Middle East Office whose duty it will be to maintain close personal liaison with the economic and social representatives of the Middle Eastern Governments in Cairo, and to work in harmony with the Middle East States. To ensure the efficient working of this new policy the appropriate machinery has been set up in this country, and a strong Official Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, who has had a long and distinguished career in the Middle East, is a sound guarantee that the policy will be energetically pursued.
In setting up this office, however, I desire to make it quite clear that His Majesty's Government have no intention to interfere in the local politics of the different countries. Questions of government must be a matter for the peoples in those territories. This is merely an attempt, as reconstruction and new production comes along, to do our best to assist our friends in those areas and to develop trade. In Iraq, we are happy to think that by this means we shall have yet another way of keeping in close touch with our Ally. Our friendship with the Iraqi nation is firmly based, and I am confident it will grow and flourish in the 776 coming years. In Syria, with the termination of the war against Japan, the Syrian and Lebanese Governments have been considering raising the question of the withdrawal of British and French troops. His Majesty's Government have been in communication with the French Government on 'this question. Negotiations are still proceeding and the views of the French Government are awaited. I was hoping that this might have been brought to a head by today, but the difficulties in France recently interrupted the negotiations.
Reference was made yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman to the recent events in Persia. According to my information the facts are as follow. A political group in the Province of Azerbaijan, in North West Persia, which has been carrying on agitation for autonomy, had resort to violence against the Persian Government, and forcibly seized the railway station in the town of Mianeh. It attacked and overcame the Persian troops and gendarmes stationed at Sarab, a town some 70 miles east of Tabriz. It is also reported to have taken over the town of Maragheh. Telegraphic communication between Tabriz, the capital of the Province, and Teheran was cut several days ago. In view of the situation which had arisen, the Persian Government wished to send a force composed of two battalions of troops and one battalion of gendarmerie to that province to restore their authority—which seemed to me quite a reasonable thing to do. Since there are Soviet troops in North West Persia under the Anglo-Soviet-Persian Treaty the Persian Government informed the Soviet Embassy of its intention and expressed the hope that no obstacle would be placed in the way of the despatch of that force. It appears, however, that when the Persian force had almost reached the town of Kazvin on its way, it was stopped by the Soviet troops. It would appear that the Persian Government's desire to send forces to restore order in part of their territory is perfectly legitimate under the Treaty, and it is to be hoped they will be able to proceed freely with their plans. The question is presumably being taken up by the Persian Government with the Soviet Government. In the circumstances I am sure the House will excuse me from saying anything further about it at this moment, except that His Majesty's 777 Government have given the strictest instructions to our military authorities to see that the Teaty is properly observed, and I was assured by Mr. Molotov, when he was in London, that their instructions to their people were on the same footing.
I am sorry to be so long; I cannot help it. All the world is in trouble, and I have to deal with all the troubles at once. The other great trouble is in Indonesia, about which the country is showing anxiety, and therefore, if at this rather late hour I have to put the facts before the House, it is in order that our position may be quite clearly understood. I ought to explain that this task was allotted to Great Britain on behalf of the Allies, and this makes me wonder sometimes why I get uniform resolutions coming in from the shop stewards, in view of the fact that this is an Allied matter. We are there to wind up the war with Japan, and in doing this Admiral Mountbatten has been carrying out the job allotted to us under the surrender arrangements made by General MacArthur, as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.
What were our military tasks there? They were, first, to disarm and concentrate the Japanese forces, secondly, to rescue and bring home our prisoners of war, and thirdly, to rescue the thousands of internees in the camps throughout this large island. We had no intention of using any British forces for any other purpose, or against the inhabitants. Indeed, our efforts to avoid the shedding of blood have resulted in our being accused of weakness. It is essential for the fulfilment of our military task to secure and maintain law and order, and naturally General Christison has authority to use his forces for that purpose. I believe I am expressing the views of everyone in this House and in the country when I say that the conduct of all ranks in carrying out their arduous and dangerous task in that area has been beyond praise. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
The next point is that we had no intention of being involved in any constitutional dispute between the Netherlands and the people of the Netherlands East Indies. Once the military objectives had been attained and civil administration placed on its feet again, we were resolved to withdraw our troops as rapidly as possible. It must be remembered, however, that the Netherlands stood by us when 778 we were attacked by Japan. They were, I believe, the first actually to declare war on Japan. It was not their fault or the fault of the Netherlands East Indies that they were unable to assume control. It is quite clear that His Majesty's Government have a definite agreement with them to provide for the Dutch Netherlands Indies Government to resume as rapidly as practicable full responsibility for the administration of the Netherlands Indian territories. We had no indication that our forces would be opposed. Accordingly, we are now faced with a very difficult and intricate situation. It is impossible for us to avoid becoming involved in the political affairs of the island in view of the developments that have subsequently taken place.
It has been strongly argued in Holland that it was the delay in sending forces that led to the present situation, and we have been severely blamed for this delay. On the other hand, we have also been blamed for sending our forces to carry out the task allotted to them. But, in any case, whatever the grounds of criticism may be, those who criticise clearly have no idea of the size of the problem that was facing us when hostilities with Japan ceased.
Let me remind the House that, when the first Japanese offer of surrender came, arrangements were in train for a large expansion of Admiral Mountbatten's responsibilities by the transfer to his command of a large part of the American command of General MacArthur, including Java. The transfer was intended to be gradual, with a view to ultimate, but not immediate, warlike operations. It was only on 15th August, that Java, and the adjacent islands, were transferred to the South-East Asia Command, thus adding 55,000 square miles and over 43,000,000 inhabitants, some 50,000 Japanese troops and 25,000 Japanese civilians to Admiral Mountbatten's responsibilities. If hon. Members will study those figures in HANSARD, they will see what a problem that was.
The Japanese offer to surrender transformed the whole position throughout this large Command. Instead of concentrating all our forces on successive strategic objectives in the South-East Asia Command, we had to disperse our man-power and means of transport, as far as possible simultaneously, to take the Japanese 779 surrender over an enormous area. We could not hope to occupy the whole area at once. We had to be content to occupy key points with small forces as and when the necessary transport could be made available, pending the building up of greater forces which required more time. We were obliged to use the expedient of placing the responsibility on Japanese commanders for the maintenance of law and order and for the safety of prisoners of war and internees throughout the rest of the area. In Java, at all events, that arrangement broke down. There was, unfortunately, an enforced delay before any movement could take place. Nothing could be done throughout the area of the South-East Asia Command until the first Japanese surrender to General MacArthur in Tokyo Bay had taken place on 2nd September, and until the necessary orders to give effect to that surrender had been issued by direction of the Emperor to the Japanese forces. Thus, it was not until 29th September that the first Allied Forces arrived at Batavia. They consisted of a single British battalion with some Dutch troops attached, and their task was, as I have already revealed, to deal with these islands.
In the meantime, there had been some conferences in Java. The Nationalist movement is no new thing. It was in 1918 that the first experiment towards self-government was made with the opening, by the Dutch Governor-General, of the People's Council. Even before the outbreak of the last war, this Council had a majority of Indonesians, and there was no widespread desire for the severance of the connection between themselves and the Netherlands. On the contrary, there was a willingness to co-operate. The Japanese, however, changed all this. They exploited the nationalist feeling, but they took great care to keep good control over it until the surrender. On 7th August the Japanese announced—and I ask the House to note the date—that approval had been given to Indonesian independence. On 19th August, Dr. Soekarno declared that the independence of the Indonesian Republic had been established, with himself as President. When our advanced forces arrived at Batavia, they found. the public services, civilian administration and transport in the hands of these people, while the Dutch officials were still in detention. The Japanese, in 780 disobedience of the orders for surrender to Admiral Mountbatten, had left military equipment, to a large extent, in the hands of Indonesian forces whom they had themselves previously armed and trained.
The Indonesian leaders declared that they would oppose the landing of Dutch troops, but this did not happen. The situation was that 50,000 Japanese troops had to be rounded up and completely disarmed, though they had relinquished control to the Nationalist forces. The armament of these forces varies. In addition to small arms, they possess Japanese machine guns, mortars, armoured cars and small tanks. I think I have said enough to indicate the situation with which we found ourselves confronted in that area. We began, however, to advise that negotiations should be opened, and I do not propose to go into any controversy about the personalities of this individual or the other. The Netherlands Government refused to negotiate with Dr. Soekarno. On the other hand, our generals met him and had a talk with him. I have rather taken the view, over this question of so-called rebels, that some of the greatest events that have happened in the history of the British Empire, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford will agree with me, occurred when we had the good sense to meet a rebel and to settle with him.
§ Mr. Churchill indicated assent.
§ Mr. Bevin
We now have as some of our very greatest friends, people who were rebels but who have become great Empire statesmen; so I was not going to be too much impressed about the so-called rebels. On the other hand, it was the question whether they could deliver the goods, which really mattered, and, in that, I think we have been extremely disappointed up to now with their efforts to try to keep control. I would have the House remember that we cannot desert, and will not desert, from the task which General Me Arthur has given us. We do not want to fight the Indonesians; we wanted to go in and disarm the Japanese, representatives of a Fascist power and an aggressor. We wanted to relieve something like 125,000 people who have been suffering in internment camps in Japanese control. We did not want our men, when they came to the camps to rescue these 781 people, to be shot at and totally destroyed, as some of our convoys have been. As in other parts of the world, the quicker the Indonesians drop the fighting and begin talking, with the Netherlands Government, aided by us, the better it will be for their country; and, if there are resolutions to be carried, let them be sent to the people who are fighting. Let not people always accuse the British of being the only villains of the piece.
Our business was rescue work and nothing else. We were not there for any other purpose, but to carry out that task and get out of it again as soon as we could. We have had the misfortune, when actually arranging a truce, of our representative being killed. No one did more to try to prevent loss of life in Indonesia than Brigadier Mallaby, or General Christison, both of them what may be described as soldier-statesmen, who, in their task, thought less of themselves as soldiers and more of their duty as statesmen, in order to try to avoid bloodshed. I do hope that we shall support their efforts.
Several meetings have been held. There was one as recently as 22nd November, and I understand that another has been arranged. The last word which I want to say about Batavia is that the terms which the Dutch Government have suggested do, in my opinion, offer to the mixed races of these islands—and I cannot recite them all, as they are well known— a system of public administration which could be submitted to a conference as a reasonable basis of settlement, and which, if it was adopted, would, I think, promote the prosperity of the islands and enable good relations to be established with other nations.
Lastly, I want to turn to the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick, and Leamington with regard to the question of sovereignty. Mention was made yesterday of the example of M. Briand in trying to form a Federation of Europe. This is a project which is very near to the hearts of social democrats. We have advocated it for a long time. I was a member of the Social Democratic Federation with Mr. Hyndman and others who advocated this scheme for many years. In fact, in 1927, I moved a resolution at the Trade Union Congress, and succeeded in carrying it, 782 declaring that the policy of that movement should be an attempt to create a United States of Europe, the object being to prevent any one country dominating another, and to confer the benefit of a great free trade area, with common services in railways, shipping and all kinds of transport, posts and customs. That would have involved us in difficult decisions, but at a time when I think many of us could see how Europe was drifting, I, at least, did my best to try to advocate the United States of Europe in the hope that, by so doing, we might, among other things save the Weimar Republic, by making it possible for trade to flow through Europe without all these tariff barriers and for prosperity to return. But it was not to be.
I do not regret that, in the regional discussions now taking place, that idea is being revived, probably on a wider basis than one could visualise at that time. We feel that the attempt to manipulate states and to Balkanise them economically—and I emphasise—the word "economically"—was a great mistake. I agree that the more we have cultural developments in the matter of race, language and things like that, the better it will be; but we must develop an economy which prevents economic disorder, and I cannot see a single frontier in Europe today that is economically sound. It will be difficult. One hon. Lady talked yesterday about Trieste and Northern Italy. Ethnographical conditions cut across every economic consideration in that area and the whole world, and therefore for us in this country, with so many races, to begin talking about settlement on purely racial grounds is a mistake.
One great institution in which we have tried to bring people together, from the workshop and the office and the management, has been the International Labour Office—the one great thing that has survived the war, which knows no national frontiers in its decisions. I would ask that attention be paid to that. However, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the coming of the atomic bomb and other devastating instruments has caused offensive action to jump ahead both of defence and of the machinery of diplomacy, and the instruments capable of settling world affairs. He had a remedy with which I heartily agree. The 783 right hon. Gentleman called it the surrender of sovereignty. I do not want to use that word.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Bevin
I beg the pardon of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not want to attribute a word to him wrongly. If I have misunderstood it is because it is often suggested by people, when they talk about sovereignty, that what you are asked to do is to surrender your sovereignty. I want to develop my argument that that is not what you do. If I attributed to the right hon. Gentleman what I ought to have attributed to some one else, I am sorry. He said there must be established a rule of law, but law must derive its power and observance from a definite source, and in studying this problem I am driven to ask: Will law be observed, if it is arrived at only by treaty and promises and decisions by governments as at present arranged? In all the years this has broken down so often. I trust it will not break down again but, if it is not to break down again, I think it must lead us still further on. In other words, will the people feel that the law is their law if it is derived and enforced by the adoption of past methods, whether League of Nations, concert of Europe, or anything of that kind? The illustration was drawn of the constitution of the United Kingdom, which took many years to establish. Where does the power to make law actually rest? It is not even in this House, it is certainly not in the Executive, it is in the votes of the people. They are sovereign authority.
It may be interesting to call attention to the development of the United States of America. Originally, when the States came together, they met as States with separate Governments, but they soon discovered that they had little or no power to enforce their decisions, and it is the enforcement of the decision, the sanction, that is the real difficulty in world law or any law. They then decided, for the purpose of conducting foreign affairs, taxation, defence and the regulation of commerce, that they would create a federal body and in that body there would be direct representation of the people, not through the 13 States, but direct from the people to the federal Parliament of 784 the country. So, from the outset, the United States drew its power to make laws directly from the people. That is the growth of the United States to the great State which it is today.
§ Mr. Bevin
It may have done. We have had any amount of civil wars. I do not know what the last two wars have been. I doubt very much whether the last war has been an international war at all. It was really a tremendous conflict of ideas. After all, in many ways the world is no greater today than the United States was then. To take another example, the right hon. Gentleman played a part in South Africa. There you had racial differences—the Old Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In the end, to get peace and development there had to be a federal Parliament, and it had to rest on the votes of the people direct to that Parliament.
§ Mr. Bevin
Not yet, but if you had been as intelligent as we in the years when you were in office, you would have done that. At any rate, liberal-minded persons like Campbell-Bannerman and Selborne developed the idea. I am not saying who should vote or what should vote. I am speaking of principles. I do not think the interruptions of the hon. Gentleman make any difference at all. We have benefited, at any rate, as an Empire from that decision on two great occasions, because that great country had the foresight to build on the votes of the people. It was the same in Australia, which did not just bring the State Governments together but built up the Federal Parliament on the same lines. I used to argue this thing out with the late Lord Lothian and other people for many years, and I am glad to have the opportunity of putting a personal view—not a Cabinet view—because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington raised this matter yesterday. I think it right to let the country see exactly where the surrender of sovereignty leads us. The fact is, no one ever surrenders sovereignty; they merge it into a greater sovereignty.
§ Mr. Bevin
A portion, for specific limited purposes. I think if you try to take on too big a thing, like all the things you are building up under the United Nations now, such as education and all the rest of it, your organisation may break down. It can only deal with the specific objective that the people feel is necessary for their security.
§ Mr. Eden
Might I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, because he keeps saying that I referred to the surrender of sovereignty, and I never said anything like that. The point I was trying to make, which I think he is trying to make, is that these modern developments make nonsense of certain old-fashioned conceptions of sovereignty.
§ Mr. Bevin
Well, I am trying to put a new one anyway.
I am asked to restudy San Franscisco. I have not only restudied it but, when it was being developed, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I was gravely concerned, with him, as to whether we were really finding the right solution. There was no conflict between us. We were all trying to do our best, and what worried me, and the right hon. Gentleman and others on the Committee of the then Cabinet, going through all these meticulous documents, was whether again the people would be disappointed. That was his worry, I know, as it was ours. Now that is added to, and accentuated, by the coming of the atomic bomb and many other devastating weapons. In 1940, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford offered France joint citizen ship—
§ Mr. Bevin
Yes, that is quite right. Often after that I tried to study how we could have given effect to it, and it seemed to me that joint citizenship involved joint Parliament and joint responsibility. It involved an acceptance of this for certain limited purposes in order to derive the powers of law. Therefore, when we turn from all the things you have built up the League of Nations or your constitution—I feel we are driven relentlessly along this road: we need a new study for the purpose of creating a world assembly elected directly from the people of the world, as a whole, to whom the Governments who form the United Nations are 786 responsible and who, in fact, make the world law which they, the people, will then accept and be morally bound and willing to carry out. For it will be from their votes that the power will have been derived, and it will be for their direct representatives to carry it out. You may invent all sorts of devices to decide who is the aggressor but, after all the thought you can give to it, the only repository of faith I have been able to find to determine that is the common people.
There has never been a war yet which, if the facts had been put calmly before the ordinary folk, could not have been prevented. The fact is they are kept separated from one another. How did Hitler do that? He enslaved Germany with a law as bad as our Vagabond Act of centuries ago, and did not allow anybody to move hither or thither. I knew a South African professor who went into Germany for 12 months as an experiment and read nothing but Nazi papers. He was hard put to it to resist the mental influence as a result—a strong-minded man who made up his mind to try the effect of it upon himself. The common man, I think, is the great protection against war. The supreme act of Government is the horrible duty of deciding matters which affect the life or death of the people. That power rests in this House as far as this country is concerned. I would merge that power into the greater power of a directly elected world assembly in order that the great repositories of destruction and science, on the one hand, may be their property, against the misuse of which it is their duty to protect us and, on the other hand, that they may determine in the ordinary sense whether a country is acting as an aggressor or not.
I am willing to sit with anybody, of any party, of any nation, to try to devise a franchise or a constitution—just as other great countries have done—for a world assembly, as the right hon. Gentleman said, with a limited objective—the objective of peace. Once we can get to that stage I believe we shall have taken a great progressive step. In the meantime, there must be no weakening of the institution which my right hon. Friends built in San Francisco. It must be the prelude to further development. This must not be considered a substitute for it, but rather a completion or a development of it, so that the benefit of the experience 787 and administration derived in that institution may be carried to its final end. From the moment you accept that, one phrase goes, and that is "international law." That phrase presupposes conflict between nations. It would be replaced by "world law," with a moral world force behind it, rather than a law built upon case made law and on agreements. It would be a world law with a world judiciary to interpret it, with a world police to enforce it, with the decision of the people with their own votes resting in their own hands, irrespective of race or creed, as the great world sovereign elected authority which would hold in its care the destinies of the people of the world.
§ 12.46 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
This House and the world will realise that far and away the most important feature of this Debate has been what the Foreign Secretary has just said and what his predecessor said yesterday about the importance of merging national sovereignty. I profoundly and passionately agree. I do not, however, propose to develop that theme further at this moment, nor will I attempt to follow the Foreign Secretary over the wide survey of international problems that he has given us. Others will doubtless follow him on that ground. I propose to return to the theme of the Prime Minister yesterday, to the problem of the atomic bomb. I join with other Members in offering my sincere congratulations on the great advance which the communiqué of last Thursday marked on the previous position. How great is that advance we can see if we reflect on the position left by the four speeches which were before us at that time. We had the Declaration of President Truman of 27th October, the speech of Mr. Molotov of 6th November, and the two speeches in this House of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and the Foreign Secretary. Taking these four speeches together, there was only one possible conclusion to be drawn, namely, that unless the policies there indicated were changed, and changed rapidly, the course of events was certain—a competitive race for the new weapon, an increasing deterioration of international relations during the process and, at the end, an explosive condi- 788 tion in which sooner or later, and perhaps soon rather than late, disaster would come.
The great merit of the policy indicated last week is, in my view, that the worst and weakest elements in the previous policies of America and Great Britain up to that date were eliminated and the best retained. It is a remarkable thing that the United States, possessing as they do not only the only stock of atomic bombs, but the only industrial plant which can manufacture them and, beyond that, possessing the competitive advantage of superior industrial facilities, should have been prepared to join with us and Canada in offering to forgo those advantages on a reciprocal basis, that she should have offered to share not only present but future scientific secrets, that she should have been prepared, again on a reciprocal basis, to submit to reciprocal international inspection. I trust that the full significance of this offer will be appreciated by the world as a whole and by Russia. I trust that its full significance will be made clear and that its full implications will be developed. If so, I believe that this may be the basis of a real solution of this terrible problem.
There has been a good deal of discussion of the alternative policies of what I may call the conditional carrot or the unconditional sop. I agree with the Prime Minister that there is a strong case for not broadcasting immediately all the information at present possessed by certain countries without an attempt being first made to ensure a system of effective safeguards. The offer now made—I wish it could have been made earlier—if it is fully understood, offers the basis for such safeguards, but it will need careful explanation; it will need to be cleared of every possible ambiguity and to have its present implications developed. There are some ambiguities in the statement, and I do not think that the Prime Minister's speech did anything to remove or even to diminish them.
We must, of course, expect that the communiqué will be examined with critical and meticulous care. I would like to refer to a few points in it. First, there is the question of effective safeguards. We are:prepared to share on a reciprocal basis detailed information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy just as 789 soon as effective enforceable safeguards against its use for destructive purposes can he devised.Some doubt, however, is implied in paragraph 3 as to whether effective safeguards can be devised until we solve the whole problem of preventing war. What the Prime Minister said yesterday did nothing to remove that possible doubt and suspicion. I hope it will be made clear that what is meant, as a condition of imparting information, is only effective safeguards, so far as they are humanly possible, for dealing with the special problem of the atom. Second, in paragraph 7, four items in the task of the new Commission are defined. The Prime Minister also referred to stages in the work of the Commission. I thought, for a moment, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) had taken it that the four items in paragraph 7 were also the four stages of the work of the Commission. I do not think, however, that that is the true interpretation; it would be disastrous if it were. I should like to see that ambiguity removed.
Third, there is a rather regrettable ambiguity as to what weapons are to be eliminated. The Prime Minister said that he was sceptical about the possibility of isolating the problem of eliminating the atomic or similar weapons from that of eliminating all destructive weapons. If he means by that that we should not be content until we have effective safeguards against war in general, I agree. But if he means that we cannot proceed to eliminate this class of destructive weapons until we have an effective safeguard against all war, I think he will not only be saying something which is regrettable in itself, but be inconsistent with the provisions of sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph 7, which put upon the Commission the definite task only of eliminating from national armaments all atomic weapons and other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. That is definitely isolating this problem of major weapons as a stage in the task of safeguarding peace in general.
There is also some ambiguity, though it was partly removed by the Foreign Secretary, as to what are the next steps. Before, however, dealing with that question I would like to say three things. First, I greatly welcome the fact that 790 what is aimed at here is not the outlawing of the use of the atomic bomb, but its elimination from all national armaments. Second, I greatly welcome the fact that it is the task of the Commission to devise a system of inspection. This is the crux of the whole problem. I agree that we cannot expect inspection to be 100 per cent. effective against a hostile country bent upon aggression. That is not really the point. The point is whether we are to have an accepted and agreed entrance into each other's countries for inspection, and an interchange of information, or to have, as at present, sealed frontiers, laboratories and arsenals. There can he no doubt that if we have the first, as the communiqué proposes, we shall have something which will greatly relieve tension instead of continually increasing it.
I would like next to say something about the position of scientists. There has been a tendency to criticise their public action in regard to atomic energy. But I believe that it is a welcome development that scientists, more in relation to this discovery than to any previous discovery, have shown a sense of collective responsibility for the consequences of their work. They have not been trying to replace responsible Governments; they have been trying, as is the duty as well as the right of all bodies of citizens with special qualifications and knowledge, to influence the policy of Governments. And most happily they have succeeded. The almost unanimous and identical views of scientists on both sides of the Atlantic have been a great factor in securing the great advance from the policy of a fortnight ago to the policy announced last week.
I come now to the question of the next stage. I agree that it would be undesirable to have a special meeting of the United Nations Organisation before January, which will leave us with an interval of five or six weeks. But I hope that that interval will be used. I believe that the next step is to do everything that is humanly possible to see that Russia is associated with the proposal or, at least, is fully consulted on the proposal before the United Nations Organisation considers it in January. The Foreign Secretary uttered an obvious truth when he said that foreign policy cannot be the monopoly of the Big Three. Have we, 791 however, yet arrived at the position in which it is desirable to dissolve the leadership of the Big Three? It was inevitable that the first step in this matter should be consultations between the three countries which happened to have advanced furthest in this discovery. But once that step has been taken, is not the most convenient and wisest step, from every point of view, to invite Russia to come in in a position proportionate to her previous association with us, to her responsibility and to her power? When the proposal comes to the United Nations Organisation in January, it should not come from the three countries only, Britain, America and Canada but should come with Russia, if possible, among the sponsors, but at least among those specially consulted beforehand.
I trust that when the Commission is formed it will include a strong element of scientists. I trust there will be imperative instructions by us to our representatives on that Commission to do everything that is humanly possible to develop the full implications of the policy of the communiqué and not to allow themselves to be hampered or impeded by any vested rights in either industrial secrets or military secrets or patent rights. I trust that this will mean the opening of the doors of the central citadels of all national sovereignties. If so, we have a chance of such a development as the present and the late Foreign Secretaries have just advocated. If they are not so opened, I think the citadels and all those that they were designed to protect will perish together.
For a moment, let us see what will be the position if Russia can have this policy sufficiently explained and made sufficiently attractive. I hope and I believe—though in the present state of limited knowledge no one of us can speak with absolute conviction—that the tragic situation which has been developing with Russia is really due to misunderstanding and deep mutual suspicion, which however difficult to remove are essentially removable, and not to an irreconcilable conflict of purpose and policy. If we could only get past this first obstacle, if Russia would cooperate with us on an equal basis in recommending the policy of the communiqué to the consideration of the United Nations Organi- 792 sation, and in setting up the new Commission—then indeed the path of our history and the world's history would at last turn upwards towards the still distant promised land, not only of peace, but of prosperity, instead of continuing downwards to an abyss of unimaginable horror.
§ 1.3 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Crawley (Buckingham)
With the exception of the Foreign Secretary's speech, which dealt with a wide range of subjects, this Debate has dealt mainly with the difficulties of English speaking peoples and Russia, and I want to narrow it down again to the point where so many of these difficulties are now concentrated—I mean Germany. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) suggested that the root of most of our difficulties with Russia in Europe lay in the fear of German military aggression and the revival of German militarism. I entirely agree, but the corollary of that statement is that, unless the Allies can form a concerted policy towards Germany, unless they can make up their minds what they are going to do with Germany, none of those difficulties, either the immediate difficulties or the long-term, can be solved.
The reason I burden the House with a maiden speech on this subject is that for four years, up to May of this year, I was a prisoner of war in Germany, and during that time I learnt, or thought I learnt, certain1 things about the Germans and their character which I felt might be of value to this House in considering such a policy. I should perhaps add, by way of explanation, that prisoners of war were not quite so cut off as many people may imagine. They obtained a certain amount of information from German newspapers and radio, and at all times they were able to correct their impressions by secret radio. They lived in many camps in the different parts of the country in which they were imprisoned. The guards were frequently changed, and they consisted very often of fighting troops who came from many parts of the front and had moved all over Germany. As it was the duty of prisoners to keep in close touch with their guards, they managed to keep pretty well informed. Towards the end of the war thousands of prisoners were set on the march across Germany and one mingled with the population, lived in their 793 houses, marched with them in the many caravans and covered wagons which streamed across the country. In that way I was able to feel the pulse of the nation with an intensity which it must have been very difficult for anybody living there in peace time to do, except over a very long period of time.
In case I may seem in some way to be tainted in my views towards Germany and the Germans, may I say that no one who has been a prisoner of war can like the Germans? But the first point I want to make is that the Germans in this war were a united people, and they were united not by terror, and not by any deep belief in the principle of National Socialism, but by ties of blood. When the German armies were to be successful nearly all Germans gave lip-service to National Socalism, but after Stalingrad they changed very quickly. Afterwards the great majority of Germans over 30 were, 1 believe, against the policy of their Government and knew that they were in for defeat. Yet they clung together and went on doing their jobs, not from fear of being shot—to most of them that was the remotest possibility—but simply because they felt that they were one people. They had committed themselves, and they must stand or fall together.
It is difficult to convey briefly the intensity of that feeling. Perhaps I can do it in another way. One has read since coming back to this country, and indeed before, a great deal about the dogged determination and the good humour with which the British people faced the trials of 1940 and other times. I can only say that when, unrecognised, one sat in a German air-raid shelter, with British bombers overhead, and heard the people talking about the size of the bombs—and they were very big bombs—or heard them discussing what they had found in the ruins that morning, or comparing the relative merits of cobblestones and concrete as a mattress to sleep on, one had the impression that one was experiencing at first-hand, though in a different setting, many of the feelings and the sentiments one had read about the people of England. The German people in this war were, in my opinion, as united a people as the British or any other people who fought in this war.
794 The reason I make this point is, that one has heard and still hears it argued that that is not so. Indeed, the only firm policy towards Germany which I have seen put forward seems to be based on the opposite argument, namely, that the history of the German race has shown that it has no sense of unity and that it is now possible to continue the partition of Germany, to lop off this or that part of it and, without transporting the people living there, to put them under this or that foreign sovereignty, whether international or not. I believe that that is a profound mistake. It is also a profound mistake to think that, because Germany is prostrate and because her people are exhausted, her sense of unity is dead. If the Government support a policy of that kind, a policy which contemplates the further partition of Germany, they arc, in my opinion, laying in store for themselves very great trouble in Europe, besides which the trouble we now have in Poland, Palestine, or other countries will seem insignificant. Were the only alternative the recrudescence of German militarism, that would be the better of two evils, but I do not believe that that is the only alternative.
My second point is that, contrary to an opinion I hear expressed very often here, I do not believe that National Socialism in German}' was more than skin-deep. It never became what democracy has become to this country, a deep political faith. The reason that I adduce for that opinion is not simply observation. We did have, or were able to have, practical tests. I do not believe that any deep political faith goes along with corruption. If I understood the sense of my reading correctly, the people, whether Communists or Catholics, who fought in Spain were not as a whole corruptible. I do not believe that the British people who fought this war or the British soldiers who guarded German prisoners were as a whole corruptible. Yet it is my experience and that of very many others who have had similar dealings with Germans, that almost all Germans—and this goes equally for the S.S. or the Gestapo—if you could have long enough with them, were corruptible. And that means, surely that the German people never had any deep political beliefs. And if that seems very slight evidence, it is borne out by the whole history of the National Socialist Party, by the way they 795 feathered their own nests, by the way they bullied the German people, by the way, indeed, they were increasingly, before the end, loathed and despised by the whole of the German people. The truth about Germany was, and is now even after the war, that racially she has a strong sense of unity, but that politically she is still very immature. The Germans are not at heart either democrats or National Socialists, Communists or anything else. Politically, they are almost a blank.
Surely, this is a great opportunity. We have, for the first time in our history, complete and absolute power over Germany. We have, with all the necessary safeguards, with such absolute power, a chance to inculcate, gradually and slowly, the principles of democracy. We have a chance to encourage the Germans to practice these principles. That must be the aim of the United Nations Organisation, and, with regard to the German people, there is no other aim worthy of that organisation. I hope the House will not think that I am in any way soft towards Germans. I have not even very great sympathy with what they are going through now. I have intense sympathy with what many of the other countries in Europe are now going through, and I was imprisoned in some places by them and saw how people were treated. But what I am asking in particular is, that the Government should make it plain, first, that they will not support any policy of partition, of further partition of Germany in Europe; second, that their long-term aim—and they should make this clear now— is, that under Allied control the German State should be reconstituted; third, that that State should, for its boundaries, have broadly the line of the Rhine to the line of the Oder and Neisse and should include the Ruhr; and fourth, that the aim of that State, and of its creators, should be the new nationalism of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington spoke earlier in this Debate, that the aim in recreating the German State should be to begin in Germany, which is prostrate and which we can influence, a shared sovereignty in the many things which are common to so many countries of Europe.
I know there are difficulties. The existence of the zones themselves and the 796 different points of view in those zones create great difficulties, but surely the main difficulty there is the feeling that nobody knows quite what the other fellow wants. Surely a clear, long-term policy would allay that suspicion. Also there is the difficulty of France, which would probably not immediately support such a policy, but has it not been the case in the past that what France has lacked from us has been any clear policy towards Germany and any clear set of undertakings towards Germany? But the policy I am proposing would surely fulfil both those functions, and I cannot help thinking that if we could convince France of that she would be reassured.
Lastly, there are the difficulties with Russia, but what Russia is afraid of besides a recrudescence of German militarism is, surely, a Western bloc. A policy which offers to Russia a share not merely in control of her own zone but a share in the future education and elevation of the rest of Germany would make it clear that there is no sort of a Western bloc. Since Russia has herself admitted the idea of some central administration for Germany, surely she must also have some such idea in the back of her own mind. I do not despair of the German people. They have great qualities and they have potentialities. If we can achieve the degree of co-operation for which I am asking, and if we are prepared for a long occupation and for the necessary safeguards against the recrudescence of her militarism, I believe, the Germans being as pliable as they are, that we can remould Germany into what she should long ago have been, the most productive of the peace loving nations. I believe this policy is in line with the Charter. I believe the German people, under supervision and tuition, are capable of its achievement, and I believe that if it is achieved it will not only cement the relations of the Allies but, perhaps more quickly than any other measure, lay the foundations of a new world order.
§ 1.18 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Teeling (Brighton)
It is a very great pleasure for me to be able to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieu-tenant Crawley) on his maiden speech. It is particularly a pleasure in that I was educated with his brother, and I am only 797 sorry to see that this particular member of the family has retired to the other side of the Chamber. But his speech has been most intensely interesting and very sincere, and I think all of us who heard it did so with special interest, because I believe I am right in saying that he is the first ex-prisoner of war to speak in this House. He has given us considered views, thought out, perhaps, while a prisoner of war, and there must be many prisoners of war who want to have their point of view put in this House. On R.A.F. Stations during the war I have often heard men and officers saying how they wished that their point of view could occasionally be heard in the House of Commons. Therefore, 1 very much hope that we shall have many opportunities of hearing the hon. and gallant Member, and that he will keep closely in touch with his friends whom he met out there and will put their point of view frequently in this House.
He has spoken of Germany and Germany's problems in the future. Frankly, I am worried at the little attention that is being paid after this war to the problem of Japan. After the last war we frequently heard in his country that the next war would be against the United States. Today many people are talking in the same loose and stupid way about the possibilities of war with Russia. I was firmly convinced then that there was not the least likelihood of war with the United States, and today I am as firmly convinced that there is not any more likelihood of a war between us and Russia. I do not see it coming at all. What those people who talked only of the United States being a danger had overlooked was the fact that Germany's strength was gradually creeping up, until finally it was almost too late to do anything about it, and in the end we had this present disastrous war. I feel that this time Germany is really completely defeated, that she is absolutely down and out; but I do not think Japan is in any sense of the word absolutely down and out, and while we are all talking about atom bombs, the necessity of keeping in with the United States, and the necessity of keeping in with Russia, we seem to be forgetting completely the danger from Japan. She has not been defeated in this war. Her army has not been defeated, her navy has not been defeated—badly damaged, yes, 798 but the cause of her final collapse was two atomic bombs.
The Prime Minister told us yesterday that the atomic bomb meant that the world would be finished unless we could get unity and agreement among all the nations. He talked of every nation, practically, except Japan. Nobody mentioned what we and the United States have planned to do—if any agreement was reached—with regard to the future of Japan. There is still a colossal army there. They have had their arms taken away from them, but they are still there, and the nation is essentially a militarist nation. The hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham says that he does not think National Socialism is more than skin deep in Germany. I can assure him that Shintoism goes more than skin deep in Japan. There we have a nation of 100 millions, or more, and [...] militarist nation, and as far as I can see the United States are the only people who at the moment are taking charge of it; and the population of the United States is not so vastly larger than that of Japan. The troops of the United States are going home fast from Europe, because they do not want to stay so far away from home, and in the same way they will in the near future be going home from Japan, because they will not want to stay out there indefinitely. What are we going to do about the Japanese? I am not saying in any sense of the word that we want the British to obtain control there; far from it, because we have quite enough to do on our own. The Foreign Secretary today told us how we are occupied in dealing with conditions in Java, and that is going to be quite bad enough. What we ought to do is to point out to the United States, in all friendliness, that it is almost impossible for her alone to control Japan for a long period of years and keep Japan safe from producing the atomic bomb and eventually being the real cause of the next war.
Therefore I feel that not only the United States but Russia ought to be brought in. Japan has to live. She has more than 100,000,000 people and they have to be fed. Already we read that the Japanese Emperor is disposing of his treasures in order that food may be bought, and we know how little the Japanese people eat. If they really get to the condition that they cannot get food there will be as much trouble there in the future as in Europe. Where does a good deal of her rice and 799 other food come from? A good deal of it comes from territories over which Russia has at the moment a considerable measure of control. Russia must be consulted about feeding Japan. I foresee grave possibilities in the near future, as well as in the distant future, unless we take a more active interest in and talk more openly about what is being done with regard to the control of Japan. I do not want the United States to be left in the position of having to carry that baby. We ought all to be helping, because we shall find that Japan will be doing her best to try to sow dissension between ourselves and the United States and between Russia and the United States. Naturally that will be part of her game. The incidents in Java are already part of her game. She is working on it at the present moment. We can only stop this by friendly co-operation and by sharing responsibility for everything that is done. Otherwise I think, frankly, that what will happen is that we shall rind ourselves at war with Japan in 10, 15 or 20 years' time, and I should not be a bit surprised if Japan did not do her level best to bring Russia in on her side. She would try to do that with an eastern policy.
We arc so intent on worrying about Germany and about European affairs that we forget that we are part of a vast Empire, that Canada and Australia came to our rescue and that we should have to go to theirs. If Japan attacked the United States tomorrow she would do it via Alaska and via Canada, and Canada would become in a sense the Belgium of the Pacific. Her population is not very much bigger than the populations of Belgium and Holland here in Western Europe. That is where the fighting would happen, and if Canada were attacked that would mean that we would be attacked, and if Russia came in on Japan's side then the United States might be attacked from via Siberia and the Behring Straits. We should inevitably be brought in against Russia, which is one of the countries we least want to fight. Therefore it seems to me absolutely essential that we should pay far more attention to the Japanese situation and I should like to know what is being done. I spoke on this subject in a previous debate, I think in August. The Minister of State, who then replied, took up a lot of time with Greece and, I suppose, had no time to discuss the 800 Japanese position. I asked the Foreign Secretary about it afterwards, and there had been hope that Japan would be mentioned. I hope that today the Minister of State will say a little about what is planned with regard to the future education and control of Japan and, when if ever, he feels that the Allies can evacuate that country.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
The hon. and gallant Member said previously that there was no possibility of war with Russia but now he is saying that Japan will bring Russia in against us.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Teeling
What 1 said was that there is no possibility of the English and Russians coming to blows between themselves, but if we leave a country like Japan with opportunities to sow dissension between two great nations for 20 years it is quite possible that we shall get ourselves landed into some such trouble, whereas if we are all responsible for looking after Japan possibly that risk may be avoided.
I will switch over from this general subject of Japan to two very short points which I wish to make upon events nearer home. So far in this Debate we have not discussed Tripolitania or the suggestion that Russia has put forward that she might want to go there. I do not want to go into that question beyond putting forward this suggestion, if Russia's claim is put forward again. Almost exactly opposite Tripolitania we have Malta. Malta is an island which has suffered tremendously in this war. I think everybody is agreed that she has played a noble and wonderful part in the war. The island is also very thickly populated and its population is increasing rapidly, and there is nowhere for the Maltese to go. Malta had a good Constitution of her own, and there is no reason why she should not soon carry on her Government again as before. Rather than give Tripolitania to Italy or Russia or any other country is there any reason why some arrangement should not be come to whereby the Maltese could enter Tripolitania and carry on with their Maltese Government, as a reward for all the good work which they did during the war? It would provide an overflow for their population. There is' also the point that we must not forget that it was British troops and nobody else who cleared Tripolitania.
§ Mr. Follick
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggesting that it should be a sort of British Colony? I thought we were objecting to Russia having it.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Teeling
I would prefer it to be a Maltese one, and I hope that one day Malta will be in the position of finding herself as independent as any of the Dominions. The Foreign Secretary referred to the Poles and their going back to Poland. May I ask the Minister of State if it would be possible for him to make one or two points more clear? The Foreign Secretary quite rightly said that there are thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Poles who cannot yet make up their minds as to whether they are going back to Poland or not. The Polish Government and the Polish military authorities have been asked some questions which, if they were answered, the Foreign Secretary feels would make it easier for the Poles here to make no their own minds whether they would go or not. I quite agree.
When you are going to make up your mind as to what you are going to do about something in the future, you want to know more than one side of it. It is hardly fair to ask the Poles to make up their minds whether they are going back to Poland unless you can give them some idea of what is the alternative.
It was suggested some time ago, that the Poles might become British citizens or Empire citizens, but there has been a deadly silence about that for a long period of time. We realise that there are great difficulties in arranging it, partly because we do not know how many people want to go back. Could there not be some enlightenment so as to give these Poles a chance of knowing, not only what conditions would be like in Poland, but whether they would be able to take employment in this country or the Dominons; whether it is going to be possible for them to settle in any of our Dominions, and what is the alternative, supposing they feel that they do not want to take the risk of going back to their own country?
Lastly I must say a word or two on the question of Yugoslavia, because I have already been more than slightly criticised on that. Unfortunately, HANSARD today does not cover the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West 802 (Mr. Popplewell), which he made late last night, and I do not know what he said. But I gather it implied that he considered that some of the Conservative Members ought to have gone to Yugoslavia as well. We had a Debate on that, and the whole matter was put pretty clearly. So far as I am concerned, no one ever suggested my going with that party. Marshal Tito, I think, knows quite well my views and he knows that I, personally, would never have gone, unless I knew that it would be possible for me also to go into the mountains and see there the large number of partisans, on the other side, who were the original people to start to do the righting on our side when Yugoslavia first came into the war. They are still there in large numbers, although at least 100,000 refugees have gone into Italy and other places in the last few months. Some of us must have read in "The Times" yesterday the report of the hon. Members who have just been to Yugoslavia, and everyone who has read that report must agree that they are obviously not satisfied that there was complete freedom and democracy as we know it, or complete freedom and choice in voting. All that the Foreign Secretary has said today with regard to the problem and a plebiscite in Greece should have equally applied, to my mind, with regard to the elections and the general recognition of the Government in Yugoslavia before the events of last week.
One last word on the subject raised by the hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), who last night made in this House an attack on the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean). I rose then to point out that the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster never referred to Yugoslavia, and there was good reason why he did not, because he happens to be a personal friend of Marshal Tito. If she wished on that occasion to encourage friendship between Marshal Tito and our country, she could do no greater damage than by putting into the mouth of the one man who served and fought with Marshal Tito, worked with him and who was sent out by the former Prime Minister to do so, words which he never used. I think that the hon. Lady ought to make sure that in Yugoslavia the mistake which she made is completely corrected, and that she will in some way apologise for what now appears in HANSARD and which can be seen to be completely incorrect.
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Binns (Gillingham)
I rise for the first time in this House with considerable and natural diffidence, but realising that after all one must make one's first bow in this Assembly. I represent the Gillingham division of Rochester and my constituency has, I imagine, more thousands of men who have travelled round the world than most constituencies— men in the Navy, the Army and the Royal dockyards, men who know a little about the difficulties of people living together in various countries. I think therefore it is worth while for one who represents them to have his say in this Debate. During the last election, I made no sweeping boasts or promises with regard to what this Government could do in foreign affairs. I said, simply, that I felt we could do at least as well as the Government which was in being previously. I said that because my first acquaintance with this subject was while still in khaki after the last war, when I listened to Woodrow Wilson, who was then admired above all others, when he came over to this country. From that time onwards, in humble ways, hundreds and thousands of us have tried to help forward the building of a League of Nations. From that time onwards, these people gave whatever they had to the cause of peace.
During those years, those of us who were concerned with the relatively humdrum, day to day organisation of these affairs, learnt that we had to exercise considerable discrimination and judgment upon the information which reaches us from the various quarters of the globe, and that we should never accept implicitly what is said by representatives of some foreign country. We also found that it was unwise to go abroad to a foreign land and come back a hundred per cent. patriot for that country. One has to assess what is in the minds of people and meet them at the conference table where they are representing various interests, and determine what they think and mean not by their words alone but by their character and general intentions. I myself am confident that the Foreign Secretary, and all those other gentlemen concerned with our foreign affairs, in reaching their assessment, have had far greater opportunities than we ordinary 804 Members of getting somewhere nearer the truth.
I went through all these years of fluctuating foreign affairs and I stood by the Party that I represent in this House because I thought that their policy was right. When I entered this House there was only one point upon which I was in great conflict with His Majesty's Government, and that was the policy we were pursuing in Greece. I had occasion, many months before, frequently to meet representatives of foreign Powers, or rather the resistance movements of foreign countries, who had come over here, and the Greeks did certainly influence my mind with their honesty and sincerity. I arrived at the conclusion that by taking action as His Majesty's Government had done in Greece, we did in fact line up the whole of our power on the side of the extreme Right; and although I was fully aware of the fact that the E.A.M. had a strong Communist influence, I believed at that time that fully 90 percent. of the E.A.M. were constitutionally minded people determined to put their country on a constitutional basis.
I was, therefore, very glad when the Foreign Secretary was able to tell us that at last he had reorientated his policy and that the Greeks would be enabled to express themselves freely. I have spoken to many Greeks and others from Balkan countries, and I have never had one tell me that they had lived in a true democracy. None of these countries have ever had a true democracy in the sense that we have had it here. It is futile to expect that by a stroke of the pen true democracy will result from anything we do in the next few months, but we must preserve the rights of humanity and the individual against any sort of organisation which would take away from the ordinary people their right of expression.
I have been engaged for many years in engineering science, and, therefore, have been interested in the atomic bomb. I was glad that the scientists were taking some action in regard to the work which they had done, since it had brought us into this plight. I took the view that the scientist, although he may express his opinion with regard to foreign affairs or with regard to the use of his product equally with anyone else, was no more entitled than anyone else to express his views on the foreign policy that should 805 result from his invention. I do not think that the discovery of this new method of destruction has really changed anything fundamentally. It has only multiplied enormously the difficulties that already exist. The fundamental argument is that we cannot possibly have a proper world security without world order; and one great power must somehow get to work with two other great powers of this world, to enable us to get down to the basis of real world order.
I was pleased to hear the speech made yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), because he has been much admired by many of us, irrespective of party, during the years between the two wars. I was pleased and delighted to hear a leading Member of the party opposite take the stand he did on the necessity of securing international government. I feel that with the response we have had in the speech of the Foreign Secretary today, what we have to do now is somehow or other, through this assembly, to make a call to Russia to come into this business, and stay with us in it, once and for all. I do not feel that we must go begging to any other Power. I feel that this Government would not have the views which they have on this matter unless they had been rebuffed, time and time again. From this clear fact, and both sides in this House having declared themselves firmly for an establishment of a world order, I feel that we can take some action now to carry this matter further forward immediately.
§ 1.47 p.m.
§ Major Hugh Fraser (Stone)
It is my great pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Binns) who has just spoken. As one who has himself just stepped out of the sphere of maidenhood in speech making, I must congratulate him on his obvious faith in what he was saying, and his serious assessment of the situation in the world today. I think that yesterday's Debate was overcast by the shadow of the atom bomb, by the blanket of security which is still around Washington, and by the iron walls which, as we know, separate us from the Eastern world. I also think that a little London fog had crept into this House, and indeed for one moment one almost felt that we were present on the ground of Tottenham Hotspur when those protagonists of 806 Moscow, the Dynamos, were struggling with those of the Arsenal of democracy. Perhaps that fog has been dispersed by the Foreign Minister, who shed over the whole a blinding light of reality as regards international events, though one must confess that when he soared into the universal sphere and went past the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), one felt as though there had been a disintegration at a very high altitude, into something like smoke.
Today I wish to speak for a few moments on the question of sanctions and sovereignty. I think that this question, as regards this country, automatically brings into consideration those countries which have scarcely been mentioned at all, countries which helped us to win the war, countries which were represented at San Francisco, and to which only passing reference has been made by hon. Members on the other side of the House. I refer to the British Commonwealth, the great Dominions who not only helped us to win the war, but who at this moment are contributing to U.N.R.R.A. and who formed the sanctions behind any foreign policy which this House may have. This is a point which I think cannot be sufficiently emphasised. As we know, every foreign policy has behind it a sanction, the sanction of the Soviet Union, the sanction of the United States of America, two very great States of enormous size. The sanction behind a policy is not an atomic bomb. The sanction behind a policy cannot be a resolution of a party conference. The sanction behind a foreign policy is the realisation of what makes up the national life, or the life of national groups.
I think here that I might venture into a geo-political survey, as it might be called, of the growth of Russia and of the United States of America. The United States, as we know, started off as a small group of Colonies, East of the Alleghany Mountains. Russia began as the Duchy of Moscow. One spread Westward and the other Eastward. They went through a process first of what one might call federal growth, and then growth to an extreme state of power. In Russia, federalism was centralised under the Tsar and is now centralised under the Communist Party. In America there was a growth of the executive, so that to-day we are faced by two very large groups, 807 in the East and in the West, which have grown in that fashion to enormous power. Our strength, I maintain, grew in a different fashion. The strength of the British Empire has been developed by two surrenders of sovereignty, the one in 1783 and the other in 1931.
It seems that the question before this House is to decide what are the sanctions behind our foreign policy. The sanction behind it is not our immense prestige in Europe. The sanction behind any foreign policy of this country is undoubtedly the unity, the spiritual and political unity, of the British Empire. Professor Laski in one of his, I believe, ironical remarks said that this country had sunk to being a second-rate Power. I am afraid that that, unless we consider ourselves in relation to the Dominions, is a fact. We have got to realise that the strength of this country lies in the support of the Dominions and the British Empire, and the eventual growth of what are at the moment Colonies to Dominion status. That is the sanction behind our policy.
I would like to ask His Majesty's Government whether the Dominions are being fully consulted about what is going on in Washington, and whether there is full agreement on what is being performed there. I think those are extremely important matters. There arc one or two other points I would like to mention. As we know, in 1931 the recommendation of the Conference which produced the Statute of Westminster was that the major share of responsibility for foreign policy rests now and must for some time continue to rest with His Majesty's Government. I suggest that the Statute of Westminster might now need revision. It is only a suggestion. It is extremely difficult for us in this country to take upon ourselves the responsibility of speaking for the whole of the Commonwealth. It is in fact impossible for us to do, but I seriously suggest that the Government should review certain things which, at the moment, are outstanding needs.
As early as 1917, Mr. Lloyd George suggested that there should be Imperial Cabinet meetings once a year. I think that there should be summoned an Imperial Conference, because I seriously believe that we must keep together in the Empire all these free countries with a unity and a common sense of law, in 808 the same way as the Soviet Union is united in its own common interpretation of law, in the same way as the United States of America are themselves united. Then there is the growth which is happening and taking place in Europe today. Perhaps it is the idea of Briand, the idea of Koudenhove Kalurgi, and perhaps what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said when he was in Brussels. There is today undoubtedly a growth of great communities. When the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary spoke today of a world Parliament, a world assembly, I think he was looking very far into the future indeed. I do see a reality in our Commonwealth of Nations who are in agreement coming together. We have seen what happened in America and in Russia, a slow expansion of different constitutions building up into two extremely powerful organisations. We know that the British Empire has grown in a different fashion, but we have unity, if only in times of crisis and disaster. Three times in my own short lifetime there has been a gathering together in a common cause of these great three Dominions, in 1914 in the international crisis, the economic crisis of 1929-31, and the recent war. This continues. There are Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians working in Europe now. There are Canadian troops garrisoning Europe, and Australian troops in the Far East. What I seriously suggest to His Majesty's Government is that the time has come for us to seek some specific way in which we could ensure the solidarity of the British Empire, not merely as a defence and something to be called together to cure when disaster has come on us, but to prevent the coming upon us of disaster. I think there is, first of all, the idea put forward by Mr. Lloyd George and also by that other great statesman, Mr. Menzies, and other men from the Dominions, and that is to hold an annual Imperial Conference.
There are similar points which I would like to make in the same sense, such as the question of imperial preference, which I think I cannot go into now because it is perhaps outside the scope of the Debate. But I believe it must continue. Then there is the general question of an Imperial Secretariat which existed after all in the League of Nations. As we know 809 the sanction of foreign policy and sanctions for the establishment of a universal system are not made by good intentions. Good intentions have paved the corridors of many great organisations in the past, with disastrous results. The best and the only real sanction is that of interest of strength as we see it in the Dominions. The interchange of students, of thought, should all be encouraged within the Empire bloc, in the same way as there is exchange of such in the bloc of the States of the Soviet Union and in the bloc of the States of the United States of America. We form an imperial bloc of people who think the same way and who respect the same common rule of law. There is also' the question of news services, of preferential cable rates. These I think must be retained. On the defence side, there should be established a basic and common equipment of common training so that we can if the worst comes to the worst be powerful and united as a community. I do not think there is a danger in an imperial bloc. It is not a danger but on the contrary* it is the acknowledgment of reality, the same way as the union of the States of United States and of the States of U.S.S.R. are themselves realities. Without this I think we are doomed to the conditions of being a second-class Power and for us with a huge population for Europe and for the world it should not be tolerated. This point I think I might reinforce with a quotation from a great Spaniard who might be called just a little Left from the Centre, Senor Madariaga:Not in vain has she (Great Britain) been allowed centuries of insular concentration so that the collective virtues she has cultivated in her island should be spread by her over the whole world when the time for universality is ripe.There is no antithesis between the preservation of these, our true interests, and the creation of a system of universal security. It is not by Balkanisation but by the coming together of great groups of families of nations that this can be be achieved. We are not prepared to become either the economic fief of Washington or the political fief of Moscow. Only if we can organise the Commonwealth, and we can only do it by asking the free peoples of the Dominions if they are prepared to continue standing with us, can we avoid both these dangers. Weakness, not strength, is the cause of friction, weariness and war. We, like the United States and like the U.S.S.R., 810 should be prepared to be united, to stand together in our common belief in a certain type of law and a certain type of order, and with those great States come together as families of nations, and eventually, perhaps, with a Union of Europe, such as Briand contemplated. Those families, coming together, alone can see that there is built up a universal system of peace and justice.
§ 2.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Tiffany (Peterborough)
1 rise in response to a statement made yesterday by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) when he said:…do not let us pretend that what has happened in Yugoslavia is something Democratic, Free, Lawful, the sort of thing 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1945; Vol.416, c. 652–3.]If the hon. Member is prepared to put forward Yugoslavia as a State by which we can judge other countries, I am prepared to accept that position entirely. I want to view the situation of Yugoslavia from a different angle, possibly, to that of other hon. Members. I lay claim to have been a co-operator, one who has fought inside the Co-operative movement and for the Co-operative movement, and who recognises that freedom flourishes inside the Co-operative movement and that the Co-operative movement itself can only flourish within a free and democratic State.
I wish to deal with the situation of the Co-operative movement as I found it in Yugoslavia, and to give some facts in relation to this situation. The Co-operative movement cannot develop within a totalitarian State. We know full well the situation in which the Co-operative movement found itself in Italy, Germany and Spain. Where Fascism raises its head, where freedom is denied to the people of the country, it is found that just as with other workers' democratic movements, the Co-operative movement also is submerged. What is the position of the Co-operative movement in Yugoslavia? Let me quote a statement by Mr. Nickolas Rezak, Director of Field Operations and 811 Distribution, in the Yugoslav Mission of U.N.R.R.A. Here is what he states:
Anyone travelling through Yugoslavia immediately becomes aware of the fact that life is being developed along co-operative lines. The distribution of supplies is done on a co-operative basis through co-operative stores; production is also done on this scale. Practically all the houses in the devastated areas are being built through the use of co-operatives. Practically 100 percent. of the agricultural work is co-operative.That is a statement in relation to the Co-operative movement inside Yugoslavia.
We are told by the hon. Member for Cambridge University that freedom and democracy do not exist inside Yugoslavia. Again, let us look at an independent report in relation to the Co-operative movement in Yugoslavia. What do we find in this, a report from an American source? It says that the well-known Rochdale principles of co-operatives are very closely adhered to throughout the country—democratic control, one vote for each member. Any person may be a member regardless of his religion. So one could proceed to quote throughout this report. The further important statement is made:Co-operatives are being stressed by the people and the Government as one of the most economic devices to be used for the rehabilitation of the economy of Yugoslavia. It ensures control by the people, lowered prices and knowledge of what is going on in their economic life.Is it possible to visualise any State in which we are told freedom is non-existent where the Co-operative movement flourishes along the lines indicated in those reports? I could continue at great length in relation to the Co-operative movement in Yugoslavia.
The Foreign Secretary made a good point this morning when he spoke about the Greek situation, and said that it was the intention to use the co-operative distribution method inside Greece. It is known full well that in a State where there is a co-operative working on those lines, supported by the people, freedom must exist therein, and it gives the direct lie to the hon. Member for Cambridge University when he infers that freedom is non-existent in Yugoslavia. Let us look at the matter from the political angle. In the recent elections held in Yugoslavia the number of the electorate was raised from 812 3,829,000 to 8,020,000. Would one suggest, with figures of that description, that democracy was not being promoted? Would one suggest that there we had totalitarianism? At these elections for the first time in the history of Yugoslavia, the women exercised the right to vote.
I remember that on one occasion while we were there, one woman over 100 years old, a peasant, said she had lived her life to see the day when she could exercise the right to vote. Now she felt that she was not satisfied. She wanted to live longer in order to see the accomplishment of the reconstruction that had begun in Yugoslavia. I remember also going into one of the devastated villages where the partisans had fought battle after battle, where the village had been destroyed, where the houses had been devastated. Where reconstruction had begun some of the houses had been rebuilt. Down in the valley one could see the red tiles of one of those houses. I remember asking one of the old peasants in this village why he was supporting the National Front and Marshal Tito. He pointed to the roof of the house and said, "Because of those red tiles." There, I think one had it epitomised that the people were giving their support freely and honourably in the recent elections.
I talked with priests in the villages to find out whether there was any suppression from a religious point of view. I remember that on the Sunday when the elections took place, I went into a small village, unaccompanied by any of the other members of our part, and discussed with a priest, in English, the religious situation. I asked him what was the position in his village, and he said, "My village stands behind Marshal Tito." I asked him what was his position, and what he felt about the elections. He said, "I feel that the elections are free. It is the first time in my country that I have seen an election in which there have not been soldiers standing by armed and with their rifles ready. It is the first time I have been able to vote secretly, with no one watching how I voted." I asked him about the position with regard to religion. He said, "We have no persecution, my church is full every Sunday, and my people come to worship. We have full freedom." I could quote one example after another of priests who told me the same things when I spoke to them about religious matters.
813 Before going to Yugoslavia, I was told of the oppression that was supposed to be taking place. I tried to find it. I could not find it anywhere, except in the minds of some of the Members of the Tory Party in this country. The oppression and terrorism that are supposed to exist in the Balkan countries and in Yugoslavia do not exist. We were forced to land without notice at a certain place owing to bad flying conditions. They did not expect us. We immediately got into touch with British people in that town. Let me make it clear that they were holding official positions. We asked them for their opinions with regard to the situation. They told us there were terror and oppression, and that worst of all was the secret police, the Ozno. They told us that people were interned in the prisons, and we were left to imagine the kind of things that happened in those prisons. Within an hour of being given that information, we went into the Ozno prison in that place. I suppose that some people will try to suggest that before we went there conditions were got ready for us, but believe me, we were not so simple as some people think.
Whom did we find in charge of that Ozno prison? It was the man who had previously been a prisoner inside it himself, a man who had been imprisoned by the Nazis and had suffered from Nazi treatment. He conducted us round the prison, and allowed us to see any part we desired. We spoke to the prisoners in their cells. We spoke to the man who had been chief of police under the Nazi authorities, and we asked him whether conditions were good in the prison. He said they were good. We asked him whether they were better than they had been when he was in charge of the prison and he stated definitely that the conditions were better. He said that the only thing to which he objected was the discipline, but quite honestly, if the time comes for me to be put in prison, I would much prefer the Ozno prison there than some of the prisons in this country. We saw three and four people in large cells, with running water in the cells; they were smoking, there were books to read, and food in the cells. We tasted the food that was brought down to the prisoners. We failed to see in any form the terrorism and oppression that were supposed to exist. Hon. Members opposite may smile, but they must realise that I am speaking 814 of the things that I saw, and not of what has been told me by people who are opposed to freedom and democracy on the Continent.
We had the fullest freedom to enter any part of Yugoslavia, and no let or hindrance was placed in our way. On the day the elections took place, we saw people experiencing the right to vote for the first time. There was happiness in the people's eyes, there were dancing and singing in the villages, and the gypsy bands were playing, on that day of supposed oppression. They were indeed rejoicing in the freedom that had been given them. We looked everywhere for oppression. We found members of the opposition and had discussions with them. We asked them for facts, which were never forthcoming, and we found that, instead of the position being that in Yugoslavia there was a State that was in a straitjacket, there were people who were proud of what they had fought for, proud of the fact that they were commencing the reconstruction of their country on new lines, proud of their democracy.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of the cohesion of parties in Greece; there is that cohesion of parties inside Yugoslavia. We spoke to members of the Peasant Party, who had belonged to that party for 20 or 30 years; we spoke to members of the Democratic Party, the Communist Party, and practically of all parties, and we asked them whether they were in the National Front of their own free will. The reply that we received was that they were in the National Front because they placed the reconstruction of their country first. We read the questions that were put to candidates who were putting up in the elections. The first question was: "What did you do during the war? Did you collaborate with the enemy or fight against the Fascists?" The second question was: "What is your position with regard to reconstruction in our country?" In spite of the devastation, the tortures and the murders that had been committed in their country, the people were laying emphasis not upon what they had done in the war, but upon the reconstruction that faced them.
I have never met with a more hospitable people. I have never met people with so much right to stand up with pride and dignity and say that they 815 fought literally with bare hands against the might of the Fascist hordes. It would have been a crime if we had intervened in those elections and tried to impose upon the country King Peter, a king whom they do not want. The people of Yugoslavia have freely spoken in the elections. They have spoken without any fear in their hearts. They have given their decision for a democracy in which they believe. That decision will result in reconstruction in Yugoslavia such as has never been seen before. Instead of the Balkans being the cockpit of Europe, as in the past, we shall find that in the Balkans there will arise a new people with a new vision, such as has happened in this country, and we should continue to give them every support.
I want to pay a tribute to the splendid work U.N.R.R.A. has done in that country, and to say that that work should continue. They have saved thousands of people there from starvation. They have placed a tremendous part, but more yet remains to be done. Clothing, food and machinery are required in Yugoslavia. Friends of mine have been in various parts of Yugoslavia. We split up our party in order to get as wide a view as possible of the life of the country, but wherever we went, whatever we saw, all of us came back with the same feeling that the people of Yugoslavia are proud of their independence. When some people suggest that Yugoslavia is merely a vassal of the U.S.S.R., they are entirely wrong. People who will fight for their freedom as the Yugoslavs have fought for theirs would not accept any sort of domination by another State. They are standing on their own legs, they are free, and they will fight like blazes to prevent that freedom from being taken from them. Democracy rules in Yugoslavia. The co-operative movement is strong, and is getting stronger every day, in Yugoslavia. I would say to the Foreign Secretary, By all means give your support to the people of Yugoslavia who have so freely declared their will.
§ 2.20 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Millington (Chelmsford)
I am glad, for three reasons, of the opportunity of intervening in this Debate. The first reason is that I can congratulate the hon. Member who has just sat down. If he continues to give 816 this House speeches of information coupled with fervid 'belief, if he enlarges the knowledge of hon. Members in Debate as he has done in this, his first, contribution, I am sure that we shall all be very glad to see him and to hear him as often as possible in future. Secondly, I want to speak in this foreign affairs Debate today for a personal reason. This is the last time I shall appear in the House of Commons as a serving Member of His Majesty's Air Force. I have worn this uniform for a number of years, and I have worn it because of wrong foreign policies in the past. All the other people like myself who have fought in the war have been the victims of foreign policy. We are all civilians at heart, in our desires and aspirations. I intervene on this last occasion that I shall speak here in uniform because I want to make it clear that the most important aspect of British politics to the people in the Services is our relations with foreign Powers, which should be such as to prevent those men and women ever again going back into uniform.
Thirdly, I came into this Debate with certain ideas, as the result of long thinking. At the top of them has been a sense of dissatisfaction with the statements of policy which we have had from His Majesty's Government, a dissatisfaction which was increased rather than diminished by the statement made by the Prime Minister at the opening of yesterday's Debate. I am glad, from all points of view, that the dissatisfaction has been considerably lessened by the very long, excellent and comprehensive statement made by the Foreign Secretary this morning. We have felt—and by "we" I mean young men and young women—that the approach to foreign affairs by His Majesty's Government has not been sufficiently rapid thinking, has not been sufficiently virile. The policy of the Government has tended to be dominated by Coalition-mindedness. In fact, my reaction yesterday was that the Prime Minister made an excellent Conservative speech, and that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) made the best Socialist speech on foreign affairs that I have heard from any right hon. Gentleman, at any rate during the life of this Parliament. Now we have seen a changed line from the Foreign Secretary which will be greeted by all right-minded people throughout the 817 world, and not only in this country, as an indication that the Labour Government of this country is applying a Socialist mind towards our relations with other Powers.
There are just one or two criticisms I should like to make of the Foreign Secretary's statement. I suggest to him in all friendliness that the first step towards breaking down the wall of hostility and suspicion in people's minds, in Russia towards us and in Great Britain towards Soviet Russia, is that the British Government must remember that they are a Socialist Government and that the elementary basis of Socialist thought towards international affairs is that it is anti-imperialist. The Foreign Secretary must realise that on particular aspects of foreign policy, it appears to the peoples of the world and to the people of this country that the Labour Government of Great Britain are pursuing an imperialist foreign policy, in particular in Indonesia. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will make an announcement at a later date in which he will lay it down categorically that the attitude of the British Government is anti-imperialist, whether the imperialism be British, American, Dutch or French. That is the only situation in which they can honestly say that they are opposed to Russian imperialism.
That leads me naturally to suggest an extension of the Foreign Secretary's ideas. The right hon. Gentleman quite rightly has shown in previous speeches in this House an exasperation towards the veil of secrecy which the Soviet Union has drawn over its internal affairs. There was an inference of anti-Sovietism, I suggest, in some of the remarks made by the Prime Minister. What the Foreign Secretary must do to raise a wind to blow away the fog of suspicion that was referred to by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington is to say: "We understand our comrades in the Soviet Union. Your suspicion is the result of 28 years of hostility, but now we have a Socialist Government in Great Britain. We understand why you have got yourselves veiled round with secrecy. We ask you, as comrades and brothers, to remove that veil because our intention, as Socialists, is to go forward with you in brotherhood and friendliness." If the right hon. Gentleman could make a declaration of that sort and back it up, I am convinced 818 that we should see a softening and a diminution of the bitterness and acrimony which is felt and shown by the Soviet Union towards Great Britain.
I would like just to ask the Foreign Secretary to remember certain further aspects of Socialist policy which we expect from this Government. First of all, it must be opposed to any form of imperialism. That goes for India and the African Colonies just as much as for interference in Indonesia and other foreign places. Secondly, a Socialist Government believes in political freedom and democracy for all nations in the world. I have heard recently two speeches by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) in which he raises quibbles about the use of the word "democracy." When we talk of democracy for India and for Greece we mean leaving those peoples to choose the form of government which they themselves wish to have. We believe in nations being allowed to choose their own forms of government. We believe that the economic interests of the British people depend upon raising the standard of life for the peoples of the world and we believe in economic liberty for all peoples throughout the world. I noticed that the Foreign Secretary agreed with that, because he has done much work in struggling for the economic rights of workers throughout the world.
I would like to emphasise what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the constitution of a World State. We can see that it is a natural stage in historical development, to build up some kind of World State, but we can agree with a World State only on the basis of an administration elected directly by the individual peoples. We cannot have a World State of delegates and nominees of Governments, because that cannot ensure the sovereignty of such a world organisation. Equally there has to be a World Military Organisation which shall not be made up by contributory contingents from the various nations of the world, British divisions next to American divisions, but shall in fact be recruited from the man in the street in the various countries of such a federation. If we start now, if we go to the peoples in Europe who are working towards Socialism in their own way, and say we can create a European State based on a democratic philosophy and upon a Socialist economic system, we can create a European Socialist Federation in the 819 very near future, given the right kind of strong and positive lead from Great Britain. If we do that, we shall be talking much more realistic politics than the hon. and gallant Member who wants to create a British imperial bloc; that would be highly dangerous to the future peace of the world. May I conclude by saying that I am convinced that not only the Socialist movement of this country but suppressed peoples throughout the whole of the world will look with delight upon the speech made by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, and I would like humbly to congratulate him upon it.
§ 2.31 p.m.
§ Major Macpherson (Dumfries)
Like almost everyone, possibly everyone, in this House I pinned great faith on the prospect of collaboration by alls nations in the United Nations Organisation. It was thus with some dismay that I, again like so many Members of this House, saw the prospects of real collaboration disappearing into the distance owing to the difficulties and misunderstandings at present arising. It must be the first endeavour of all Governments in the world to ensure that all nations get together as soon as possible, since only in that way shall we reduce this interim period, which is dominated by the will of just a few great nations, and come to the stage where there is a democracy of nations. There is no doubt that confidence has suffered very considerably in the meantime. That lack of confidence was one of the reasons why I accepted the invitation to accompany the unofficial Parliamentary delegation which has just visited Yugoslavia. I hesitate to take up much of the time of the House on this subject, but as little has been said from this side I think perhaps the House will bear with me if I speak of it for a short time.
I would like to say at once that the warmth of the reception we received there was perhaps a little apt to dull the acute-ness of observation which I felt that I should bring to bear as an observer going out from Parliament, and I would like to thank the Yugoslav Government very much indeed for their very great hospitality. People in this country are naturally inclined to regard with some mistrust an election in which there is only one party, in which the Government control 99 per cent, of the means of propaganda, and where the army, schools and youth in- 820 stitutions are all thoroughly indoctrinated. I think that all members of our party would have preferred to see a thoroughgoing opposition. Marshal Tito himself expressed the same view. The reasons why an opposition did not take part were extremely difficult for us to unravel, but I think one of the principal reasons was that no one party which could have formed an opposition would have been representative of a cross-section of the whole nation. Most of the oppositions before the war represented only part of the nation. The principal result that the National Front, arising out of the Partisan Movement, has achieved is the moulding of Yugoslavia into one entity which never existed before. There is no doubt that there is a tremendous movement towards federation in the country. Within the National Front there were previous opposition parties, one of them actually standing as such, although forming part of the National Front and representing only a small section of the country—a small limited locality, and not a cross section.
Just a word about how the enormous response was built up. Let us remember that the Partisan Movement arose from a determination to resist the Nazi invader. Committees were formed in almost every village and district which first of all worked underground and then, as the territories were liberated, took over the civil government, replacing the civil government which had collaborated or which had in some way compromised itself. In other words, the whole government of the country is at present based on the Partisan Movement, which, accompanied by British liaison officers, swept the invader out of the country. To go back on that would, in a very real sense, be reactionary, and that is why the National Front is steadfastly opposed to those who wish for some different form of government. Out of this new Government can arise a degree of freedom and civil liberty that Yugoslavia has never known before, and it is a unique opportunity for the Government. It is far too early to say how that opportunity will be used, but I believe that with the fullest support of this country the Yugoslav people will have the best opportunity of attaining that liberty. With opposition from this country, that liberty may easily be suppressed, through the natural desire of the Government to ensure continuity of government.
821 In Yugoslavia we all found, I think, a certain diffidence in their relations towards this country. There was evidently not a full understanding of the British point of view. I am not particularly qualified to speak for the British point of view, but I would like to make one or two observations which may perhaps be read in Yugoslavia and which, I hope, will lead to a better understanding of our position. I am not certain that they really understand that the basis of our point of view is a love of fair play coupled with an abhorrence of violence. I believe fundamentally that strife begets strife, and violence brings violence in its train, as was said by the Greek poet 2,000 years ago. If that is so, does it mean we are to resign ourselves to another war? Is this last war to bring in its train another war? We believe it is possible to eradicate that evil, but I do not consider that we can do that merely by writing it off as unthinkable. I remember that that was done in 1929, but still it implied merely a refusal to contemplate war and not a determination to take those steps which are necessary to obviate it. I do not believe that mass executions and mass deportations can do anything but harm, and I greatly deplore them. That is definitely the Nazi way. Such measures, in my view, can never be effective. They can only sow the seeds of fresh bitterness and vengeance.
Our problem is to ensure that the atomic bomb will not be used, and I would say that the Nazis failed to accomplish their task of enslaving the world because they had not sufficient accomplices to enable them to reach their aim. The horror of the atomic bomb lies not in its inhumanity. Indeed, it is in a way one of the most humane weapons ever invented. There is no agony of anticipation, no pain, no suffering, no tears afterwards, because there is just nothing. The horror lies in the immense and frightful effectiveness it can have in the hands of just a few evil men. Our problem is to ensure that the counsels of evil men will not prevail in the high places of Government in any country in the world. I believe that a Government which is freely elected by the" people, and which therefore feels its responsibility to the people and to its electors, would never resort to such wicked expedients, for I believe that all peoples are fundamentally good. For that reason alone, I believe that the 822 British people would prefer to see such Governments, and I strongly support the policy of His Majesty's Government and of President Truman in only recognising Governments which are so elected in countries lately occupied by the enemy.
I also believe that there is in some countries a great fear of interference. I believe that the sole justification for interference in the internal affairs of another country can only be because there is no effective Government in that country, and because a country where there is no effective Government is a menace to other countries. That was, perhaps, the justification, apart from military necessity, of our intervention in Greece, and I welcome very much the assurances of the Foreign Secretary. I would like, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, to identify ourselves very fully with that policy. No country can brook intervention. Natural pride revolts, and history has shown that, however benevolent an intervention by one State in the affairs of another, in the long run it gains not gratitude but resentment as the reward of that intervention. I would urge His Majesty's Government to declare most strongly and frequently that it is categorically not their intention to intervene in the internal affairs of any Government. It may seem that it is not necessary to make such declarations. I can assure His Majesty's Government after a visit to Yugoslavia that it is. There is even a demand for intervention from certain sections in Yugoslavia, and, as a counterpoise to that demand, there is a natural fear on the part of the Government that there may be an intervention. In Yugoslavia there are at least two sections of the people—very small sections, yet noisy—who would welcome intervention, the separatist portion of the Croat peasant party, which, ever since its inception, has been demanding intervention. It goes back to 1920. Secondly, there is a considerable number of Mihailosvich supporters, who are still at large, in rebellion. They are the advocates of Serbian domination who are against the federal principle which is accepted universally, apart from these minor rebel elements, by all peoples in Yugoslavia. I am told that it is now known beyond dispute that Mihailovich did, in fact, collaborate with the Germans, and His Majesty's Government would' do a very great service to the relations between 823 Yugoslavia and this country if they would publish such evidence of that collaboration as they possess.
A second case of intervention is Spain. There have been demands in certain sections of this House that there should be intervention in that country. In my own view, the situation is not similar, but the same principles apply. I very much welcome the assurances lately given by the Foreign Secretary. It is clear that the longer we abstain from interfering in the affairs of Spain, the more democratic will that Government become. I hope that there may shortly be elections in Spain, when Spain will admit the self-styled Republican Government formed in Mexico, and that it will be allowed to participate in those elections. But I also hope that His Majesty's Government will not again commit the error of recognising Governments in exile, for it has been shown by experience, necessary as it was at the time, that such recognition can only harm the Government in exile itself.
I would like to refer very briefly to the Netherlands East Indies. It is evident there that we were forced by military necessity to take part, in the absence of Dutch troops, which was, I presume, due to the fact that the war ended so very suddenly. I do hope, however, that His Majesty's Government will do their best to ensure that the responsibilities for the maintenance of order in Indonesia will be taken over by Dutch troops at the earliest possible moment so as to relieve this country of any suspicion of intervention, and to save the lives of soldiers of this country.
I do not want to detain the House any longer, but there is only one thing I wish to say. On behalf of my colleagues, I very strongly support the idea of giving up some sovereignty, but we should work towards it through regional federation. We are already closely linked with our Dominions, and I feel that that is a fine basis for further union. But it must not be exclusive, and I feel that the very fact that, in our own Dominions, there are various nationalities in origin—British, French, Dutch and many others—gives an ideal basis for uniting together these nations of Western Europe to work together. With the French, Dutch, Belgians and ourselves as a basis, perhaps, we might gradually unite the whole of 824 the races of Western Europe, not as a threat to any particular nation, not even as a defence, but merely as an economic and cultural union that will get part of the world together in advance of such a union spreading all over the world.
§ 2.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
I have listened with admiration and disquiet as the Debate has proceeded—with admiration for the objectives that have been outlined for our policy, not only by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, but also by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I wish to subscribe with all my heart to these objectives, but I also wish to impress a very urgent warning not to proceed on the assumption that, having failed to bring together the "Big Five," we can then simply summon the United Nations Security Council or Assembly and expect that machinery and procedure to produce that agreement which we have not been able to reach between the Great Powers, because, if we do that, we merely court a fresh deadlock and a fresh breakdown, which, this time, will involve the credit and the very existence of the new world organisation. There is no way of getting round the difficulty of resolving fundamental disagreements on policy between the Big Three except by agreement between the Big Three themselves. It may very well take note of the existence of a new world organisation and its application and machinery, and the solution which we may seek may prove possible because we can utilise that new world organisation, but the solution itself must be settled by agreement between the people principally concerned.
I will concentrate on the question of our relations with the Soviet Union, because, in the case of the United States, the problem does not exist. If anything, it is the other way, and we are agreeing too well with the United States and falling into the very danger against which General Smuts warned this country two years ago when addressing the United Kingdom branch of the Empire Union. He pointed out that Anglo-American combination would make us a vassal State of the United States and would provoke rival combinations, and would set the stage for alignments—rival alignments—that might endanger the whole future of peace. 825 I fear that we are in danger of slipping into that position, because it is so easy to agree with the United States, and, hitherto, we have found it so difficult to agree with the Soviet Union.
I believe that it would be a good thing, from the point of view of the world, if we were less acquiescent and bolder in disagreeing with the United States on some big issues, and if we made a bigger effort to come to terms with the Soviet Union on issues on which there is no present agreement. On the question of the Far East, I fully understand and sympathise with the apprehensions of the Soviet Union about the extension of American naval and air bases right up the shores of Eastern Asia. I also quite understand why the Soviet Union does not feel happy about American planes having exclusive control of Japan. I believe that we should press for turning the territories taken from Japan into United Nations' bases and join with the Russians in asserting the claim to inter-Allied control of Japan, because, whatever Warner Brothers may think, we did have something to do with winning that campaign, even in Burma.
Coming nearer home, in the Middle East, we have a conflict between the Soviet desire to protect the approaches to their back door through the Black Sea, and the traditional British desire to protect our Empire communications. In a case of that sort, the only logical way out would appear to be to permit the sharing of power in these areas and the return, once more, to this principle of United Nations' control of United Nations' bases. I hope we may see our way to proposing a revision of the Montreux Convention of 1926, revision of the Suez Canal Convention, and of the international status of Tangier, as well as some form of international control or demilitarisation of the Dodecanese, so far as their military potentiality is concerned. On these lines, I believe we may solve the conflicting interests in the Middle East between ourselves and the Soviet Union on the lines of internationalism, rather than imperialism, and this is the more important since these lines of communication no longer lead to an exclusive Empire in the Middle East but to areas which have become pre-eminently areas of United Nations concern. Whether it is a liberated India or the liberated territories between India and China, wherever one looks, one 826 finds these vast areas which have become matters of international concern to be dealt with by the United Nations. If the destinations to which these communications lead are international, the communications themselves may well have to be under international control.
In Europe, we have two issues, the power issue and the ideological one, that divide us from the Soviet Union. On the power issue, I press the Government to make a statement that we are not concerned with trying to build up a balance of power against the Soviet Union in Europe or anywhere else. The Soviet Union certainly believes that we are, and I would welcome an assurance from the Government that they have no more apprehensions about extensions of Soviet power, and are no more concerned to build up a balance of power against them, than we are in the case of the United States, because we have made no difficulties about the United States. On the ideological issue, the question turns on the meaning of the word "democracy," and I hope we will abandon the practice of unilaterally interpreting the Yalta Conference decisions. There was a tripartite decision on Yalta, and, since then, this country and the United States have put their own interpretations on the meaning of those decisions, and have applied them in the form of the policy towards the Balkans which does no good and provokes much misunderstanding. I welcome the much more hopeful approach outlined by the Foreign Secretary today in relation to Greece—the economic and social approach—because those of us who are Socialists are quite clear about the fact that democracy, as a way of life, can survive where it docs exist, or be restored where it. has disappeared, only on the basis of a system of government that can deliver the goods and give the people the work, homes, food and security which they need. Only when those elementary needs are satisfied can we build the superstructure of democracy. That is the approach which we are now adopting in Greece, and I hope we will be able to apply the same criterion to what is being done in the rest of the Balkans.
One of the most striking things about Yugoslavia is the intensity and vigour with which the people are reconstructing their country, their faith and their confidence in what they are doing, and the destination to which it is all leading. I 827 spoke there with a high American official of U.N.R.R.A., who told me that he was one of the few people who had worked for U.N.R.R.A. in both Greece and Yugoslavia, and that the contrast was startling because, in Greece the common people have lost heart. They are apathetic, they are bewildered, they are confused, they are surrounded by corruption, inefficiency and black-marketeering and they do not know where they are going or what they are doing. That is because the resistance movement was smashed in Greece, and reconstruction there can only succeed when the forces of the Left take control again. In Yugoslavia they are in control, and they are succeeding in reconstructing the country.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I am not speaking for the men of Munich. I can understand why some hon. Gentlemen opposite view democracy, as understood in Yugoslavia, with alarm and despondency because, as democracy is understood in Yugoslavia, men with the record of pro-Fascist appeasement of some hon. Gentlemen would be lucky if they remained at large.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
In Europe as a whole we are bound by the Atlantic Charter to grant democratic self-determination, but it has been been emphasised again and again that that cannot include the liberty to restore Fascism. I want to warn the Government against the danger of slipping into the position of marking down Communism as the new enemy in Europe, because it is fatally easy to do so on the usual ground of one totalitarian being very much like another. The catch in that is that Communism today is inseparable from the resistance movement in Europe. The resistance movement is inseparable from the working-class. The working-class in Europe is inseparable from the Socialist revolution in which we, as Socialists, have taken one side and the hon. Gentlemen on the other side have taken the other. We cannot in any circumstances find ourselves directly, or indirectly, involved m a new attempt at counter-revolutionary interference in Europe, with whatever intentions. That is the danger, and I believe that the way 828 out is to be found once again in that social and economic approach which has been so strongly emphasised in the speeches made on the Government side.
I believe that we can, on the basis of recognising the social revolution and the forces. of the Left in Europe, find sufficient measure of common social purpose with the Soviet Union in the reconstruction of Europe to make peace an effective, common, international policy, and I believe that only on that basis can we unite Europe and reconstruct Europe and pacify Europe. Only on that basis, I believe, can we reach an agreement with the Soviet Union which will make it a hopeful and possible enterprise to build up a union of West European democracies which should be part and parcel of the organisation of a United Europe in conjunction with the Soviet Union, and with the assent and co-operation of the United States and the Dominions. I believe on those lines, on the lines of a Socialist foreign policy, to which the Labour party has been committed over and over again by its official party declarations, that we may yet resolve this deadlock between ourselves and the Soviet Union. Until it is resolved, until we reach an agreement, it is hopeless to attempt to go forward with the United Nations Organisation or with the organisation of peace.
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
This has been a notable Debate and a great House of Commons occasion. I feel sure that we all take pride, wherever we may sit in this House, in the fact that on this occasion the new Parliament, instead of launching out into dynastic rivalries or commercial adventures, should have launched high into the realm of idealism. We have had, indeed, a festival of idealism, and I feel sure that no words of mine should be allowed to mar the pleasure and the joy which that impression has created.
I shall address myself to various aspects of the foreign policy which has been put in so able a manner by the Foreign Secretary. I should like to say, if I may sum up what I want to say in rather a crude compliment, that we regard him as a diamond lying on a vast heap of coke. He sparkles and brightens in front of his contemporaries. He has never been brighter or more sparkling than today. The right hon. Gentleman, who has given 829 the House and, indeed, the world so great a lead today, has, I believe, rightly declared that British foreign policy should not be the prerogative or the perquisite of three Powers. I am glad he has done that. The very history of triumvirates is disappointing to read. The right hon. Gentleman may remember one particular triumvirate in the history of Rome. I refer to the history of Rome because I know it is fashionable on the other side of the House, particularly in those yellow-backed books written by anonymous intellectual persons, to choose Roman names. I remember one particular triumvirate between Marc Antony, Augustus and Lepidus. Now it will be no desire of this country to assume the role of Lepidus, or to write books signed by that name, with this reservation, that there is no doubt that in his morals and behaviour Lepidus was as high-minded as anybody has ever been. Unfortunately, however, his end in that triumvirate was not very satisfactory. I myself would prefer to take words of Canning and see whether they are suitable to us today. This was a description of the foreign policy of Canning:Holding high the balance, and grasping but not unsheathing the sword, he sought to place this country in the position of umpire in order that, restraining the passions of both parties, he might prevent their dreaded collusion.That may well represent to some extent the ideal which the House might note for the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary to achieve. But, if I may say so, as a student of history, the right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity to go further than Canning, but on a different line of policy. The days of balances are passing and the days when we look forward to some international instrument through which we can work and through which we can regulate world affairs are coming upon us. Therefore I think it right to say that the right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity to lead even beyond what is so excellently described about the work of one of our greatest Foreign Secretaries.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me? In connection with the idea he has of foreign policy, does he propose to use in place of the "sheathed sword "the atomic bomb as a weapon of diplomacy?
§ Mr. Butler
That is not really relevant to the argument. I have only about 20 minutes, the Government have had a long time, and they have yet another speech to make; may I continue, after this interruption, with the ordinary level of the argument that I was trying to put forward? I was saying that the right hon. Gentleman can stretch out even beyond previous achievements; he is stretching out towards a world federation. We, on this side of the House, have heard with the greatest interest his ideas. I should like to ask him to tell us, either on this occasion or on another occasion, what relationship he contemplates this organisation—elected by the people on the same sort of basis as the American Federation—shall have with the United Nations Organisation itself?
Secondly, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman or the Minister of State to tell us what is the limited and specific purpose for which this organisation should be set up. As I understood him, the right hon. Gentleman said that this organisation should be set up for the limited purpose of achieving world peace. I wonder whether he means the limited purpose of building world law? In the light of that interpretation, I think, we should have a clearer idea of what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, and perhaps the Minister who replies will clear it up. We all, as I say, welcome the idealism expressed by the right hon. Gentleman by putting forward this idea, but we must say that very much patience and careful thinking will have to be entertained and undertaken before we reach this happy condition. The right hon. Gentleman himself said that his policy would be to use the instrument which had already been built up. That means he wishes to use the instrument patiently created in the United Nations' Organisation. We welcome that. He then said that he would wish to stretch it to the utmost, and I think that our support for this is borne out by the speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). The point has since been put that we should not stop where we were. I would remind the House that, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington did not wish the Foreign Secretary to stop where he was. What the right hon. Gentleman did say was:We all hope that he"—831 that is the Foreign Secretary—will persevere in his efforts to bring about another meeting with the great Powers where perhaps we might do better next time. It is in 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1945; Vol. 416, c. 619.]In order to bring into being some of the things which have been so idealistically expressed, we have to be as patient as we possibly can be and to take every opportunity of allaying all suspicions and fears.
I pass on to what has been said about the Great Powers. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said he did not want them to monopolise the stage. I should like to introduce an atmosphere of realism by saying that it is in fact the Great Powers which are essential to operate this vast system and that that was realised by the framers of the document at San Francisco. We do not think that the Great Powers should be brought in on terms which render international machinery valueless. We want to bring in the great Powers as essential leaders, and as the guarantors of the scheme for which the international machinery was established. I should think that it would not be beyond the task of statesmen to achieve that. I must also make it clear, with equal frankness, that a system under which either great or small Powers would consider that they should have the best of both worlds, that is indulgence in intervention at one moment and a preoccupation in an international form of machinery at another, is not one that could be tolerated by those who desire the peace of the world. Another Foreign Secretary, Castlereagh, had the same problem and he attempted to turn the Emperor Alexander from his policy of intervention by reminding him of the universal union of guarantees. Those who want to study this in more detail will find it in the "Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy." However we examine this, and whatever result we reach, international machinery must have effective powers. That is the pre-requisite of world peace.
I feel somewhat deeply upon this point because of my own small circle of knowledge and experience of working at Geneva. I attribute the failure of the 832 machinery of the League of Nations, at any rate during the period when I happened to be there, which was at the very end and was the most difficult part, partly to the absence of the Great Powers and in particular one great Power which was never present after the last war, and partly to the absence of collective and effective sanctions. This international method must operate purposefully since it has taken the place of the old-fashioned form of diplomacy. Therefore, I urge on the Government that in any final schemes they may reach on the methods which they will apply, the machinery they use must be effective, because on it will rest the future not only of our country but of the whole world. In passing I would say that there has been a great deal of criticism of the Soviet Union but I would add that in all my experience at Geneva if there was any one nation upon which one could rely to stick to its word in carrying out whatever decision had been made under an international system, it was the Soviet Union.
I now turn to the position with regard to the atomic bomb and its relationship with the machinery that we have set up. I would endorse the very intelligent and capable remarks of the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) who referred to the part America has recently played in this matter. I think that we endorse the view which he has expressed in this House that America has, in fact, taken a very forward step in agreeing to the document which was read out by the Lord President of the Council the other day and brought home by the Prime Minister. Further, I would like to endorse his criticisms not only of the Prime Minister's speech but also of the drafting of the document which we have to study. There is no doubt, as he has said, that there is ambiguity between the phrases in the document, one—
No system of safeguards that could be devised will of itself provide effective guarantees.and a later one which indicated that the new machinery should provide these very safeguards. I trust therefore that the Minister in his reply may be able to enlighten us a little more on the apparent ambiguity of this document and what is meant. by talking about the safeguards which the document itself states cannot be easily devised. Then I would like to 833 ask whether he would give a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn)—because we must keep a balance between the universities—on the question of the inquiry into raw materials. In paragraph 8 of the document details are given about this inquiry and about the exchange of scientists and scientific information.
Leaving this question of atomic energy on the understanding that a Commission will be set up, I would like to ask one other question. Some doubt has been felt in circles connected with the United Nations Organisation whether this Commission will in fact be appointed by the Council or by the Assembly. I realise that the Assembly is charged with responsibilities of an economic and social character, dealing with such questions as industry, for example, but I cannot help thinking that, in the interests of world peace and the handling of the question of atomic energy, it would be much wiser if this Commission were, in fact, appointed by the Security Council, for reasons which must be obvious. I feel that it would be more agreeable to the Great Powers concerned and the wisest course.
Apart from the question of the machinery for dealing with atomic energy, I want to say that. it is under this Security Council machinery that we would hope to see the problems of the Great Powers gradually resolved. I fail to see why the Soviet Union should be suspicious of agreements made between this country and our immediate neighbours, particularly France, if these are to be organised, as suggested by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), under Article 52 of the Charter. Article 52 of the Charter deliberately makes provision for such regional agreements to be made and; provided that they are made under that general cover—it would certainly be our desire on this side of the House—I cannot see why they should not be prosecuted with the utmost vigour in the interests not only of this country, but of all countries.
I would specially plead for a closer union between this country and France. We have understood, or tried to understand, some of the sufferings of France. Those of us who may have been brought up there, and who are inspired by the civilisation of France and all she has done for the arts, laws and politics of mankind, feel that the time has really come for a 834 little more imagination in the handling of the French question. The French elections are over. Their internal problems are presumably less acute and I feel the time has arrived for imagination in handling this question. Gone are the days when Lord Aberdeen, after a great deal of correspondence and after a great deal of doubt, set out in a yacht to that not very remarkable meeting at Eu. Gone are the days when Cobden negotiated his treaty to deal with trade alone. The day has come when our union should be closer than the Entente Cordiale. The time has come for an understanding with France, deep into the country itself, made with all sections of opinions in that country, in a manner which, I believe, would be agreeable to the right hon. Gentleman himself. The fact that we have reorganised now our Embassies, with the aid of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington and the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, to be better representative of the economic, social and other operations of the life of countries, should give an opportunity for reaching a real national understanding with France, with the day-today France, and with the real life of France herself.
I am considerably encouraged in this by the fact that the United Nations Conference on Education, Science and Culture has had a successful conclusion and has decided that the seat of this organisation should be in Paris. Paris was the centre of intellectual co-operation before the war and I feel that it will be a very suitable centre for this organisation. I would say in passing, that I am astonished that Members of this House and the Press of this country should appear to have taken so little interest in the Educational Conference which has just been so successfully carried out in this capital city. I trust that further interest will be taken in it and that the noble words of the Preamble will be borne in mind:Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.Now I come to deal for one or two minutes with some of the more controversial points that have been raised. First in order, I put the Greek question, and I would like to say that we on this side of the House are very dissatisfied and perplexed at the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman himself on this subject. There 835 was an agreement, as is well known to all parts of the House, signed at Varkiza on 12th February, 1945. This was an agreement signed between certain leaders in Greek life, but the British were not wholly uninterested and in fact certain of our representatives may be said to have been deeply committed to the results of this Conference, I refer in particular to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) and His Majesty's Ambassador who did their best on that occasion to bring about agreement. Article 9 of that Agreement says:At the earliest possible date, and in any case within the current year, the plebiscite shall be held and thereafter shall follow, as quickly as possible, elections to the Constituent Assembly.We desire the Government to give a specific answer on why, if that constitutes a part of that particular Agreement, the situation should now be that the elections should be brought on before the plebiscite; that the elections should be held early next year and the plebiscite postponed for two years. The right hon. Gentleman laid great stress on the point that the country was not in a satisfactory condition to have an election and at this moment was to hold a plebiscite. What is the precise difference between the holding of elections and the holding of a plebiscite? If it is thought possible to hold the elections in the early part of next year, I must ask the Government most emphatically to give the reasons why it is necessary to postpone the plebiscite after the election for a further period of two years. I say this in no spirit of backing any particular faction. The right hon. Gentleman himself took what I think was a fair point of view, about the question of the Monarchy in general. I am not approaching this from a particular angle. I am approaching it from the angle that we desire to see, in Greece, the best possible democratic result from both the plebiscite and the elections. I do not believe that this result will be achieved if there appears to be any breach of faith whatever. Therefore, I trust that the Minister of State, with all his knowledge on the subject, in replying, will do something to allay our very real anxieties for the Greek nation.
Before I conclude and give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity of replying, I would refer for a moment to the 836 Far East. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) raised some very important questions from this side of the House on the subject of the Far East. As I see it, there has not been time for the Government to give him an answer so far, but I trust that the Minister of State will be able to give him an answer. The position in the Far East is, in every way, most confusing and very unsatisfactory. The slimy trail of Japanese propaganda has left behind it suspicion which has been deliberately sown between the East and the West. It is a conflict on a vast scale such as the world is only just beginning to understand. As was written in a recent number of the "Economist":The Far East, like Europe, is struggling in the toils of strategic forces, zones of influence and rival ideologies. Equilibrium is possible, but a long-term pacification is not in sight.In face of that, I feel sure that the Government will desire to tell us what are their policies; what are their views about those zones of influence; what are their views about the new Council set up in the Far East, and what are their suggestions for answering the legitimate anxieties of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury?
This opportunity of mentioning the Far East enables me to conclude on a serious note. We in Europe also have our problems of East and West. We have had these problems in (the past. At an important stage in the civilisation of Europe there was a terrible and lasting split between East and West which took the form, in those days, of the split between the Eastern and the Western churches. I sometimes think, alas, that we are more interested today in ideologies and politics than we are in the questions of the Churches, but whether that be so or not it would be equally tragic for the history of Europe were there to be a split between East and West, projected as it would be against the broad canvas of the rivalries between East and West in the world as a whole. I trust, therefore, that in envisaging this terrible possibility the Government will exercise all those arts of statesmanship which we desire to associate with them, and with the right hon. Gentleman in particular, and will realise that we are at the parting of the ways and that patience, conciliation and toleration should be the order of the day.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)
I hope the House will accord to me, as to other Members, its indulgence. My task this afternoon is both light and difficult; light because on the major issues my right hon. Friend has said so much that there is little left for me to say; difficult because he made so great a speech that I fear to spoil its great effect. It is difficult also because hon. Members have in the Debate covered an immense range of different subjects, and it will be quite impossible for me to cover many of the matters, especially those which are relatively matters of detail, to which right hon. Members rightly attach importance, and which they have raised. I want to make a reference to the splendid maiden speech, not heard by many hon. Members, made this afternoon by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Buckingham (Flight - Lieutenant Crawley), who spoke as an ex-prisoner of war. It was a sound, clear, intelligible exposition of a sound, clear and intelligible reconstruction policy for Germany, a policy which the Germans and our people could understand. I think the Government go very far in agreeing with him that such a policy is required. I think they agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Flight-Licutenant Teeling), who spoke most interestingly about Japan, that for Japan, as for Germany, a similar kind of policy is needed, and so far as it lies within our power we will use our influence to secure that reconstructive policy for Japan. It is my belief that 15 years ago, before the adventure in Manchuria, Liberalism in Japan was a real and a growing force, not strong but getting stronger, and if the rest of the world had stood for collective security I believe it might have triumphed. We shall work for the re-education and regeneration of the Japanese nation, as of the German nation in our Continent nearer home.
The hon. and gallant Member for Stone (Major Fraser) spoke this afternoon about the Dominions. I agree with him that, in practice, as in law, as I think, under the Statute of Westminster, to which I have given close and prolonged study, the Dominions are in status and in rights equal in every way with the mother country. Each, if it likes, can pursue its own policy in foreign affairs. But I believe that when they act together they are stronger. I believe that they will act 838 together the more surely and the more often, if they all stand on the principles which are embodied in the Charter of the United Nations. That has been the lesson of the past. I say it, having worked with Dominion delegations over many years. The more we stand together for international co-operation and international peace the more certain we are that our friendship will be close and that we shall achieve the great results we want.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gates-head (Mr. Zilliacus) asked about the revision of the Straits Convention. His Majesty's Government agreed to that long ago, subject to discussion with Turkey. We still believe it is required, but we do not believe that the revision should be used for the purpose of giving people bases. He asked me about Tripolitania. The United States Government propose that Tripolitania should be placed under the joint trusteeship, the international administration, of the United Nations. We agree. What more does my hon. Friend desire that we shall do? He asked us to say again that we are not intent on building up a balance of power against the Soviet Union. Why should we keep on declaring our innocence? My right hon. Friend has done it a dozen times, and if I have the time before I finish I will say another word.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) spoke of Greece. Again he will forgive me if I do not say very much after the comprehensive statement made by my right hon. Friend, which I think the whole House would do well to study. But I will say this, that throughout this year His Majesty's Governments have hoped that the Greek people would be able to form a strong united Government, that would get on with the economic reconstruction of the country. Unfortunately, so far, they have failed. The basic fact was that all these last weeks there has been a growing and a terrible danger of uncontrolled inflation. For a period Mr. Varvaressos succeeded in holding the drachma at a stable par of 12,000 to the gold sovereign. It escaped and went to 15,000. He brought it back. Then he fell from power—I will not examine why; there were many causes. What followed? Prices were uncontrolled, wages could not keep up. The drachma went from 12,000 to 20,000, to 30,000, to 40,000, to 50,000, and our advisers told us last week that 839 it very soon might be at 100,000. Everybody knows what that means. If the printing press is set to turn out drachma notes by the million, the hundred million, every month, of course things are bound to end in irretrievable disaster. Until that state of affairs can be remedied, until the country is economically reconstructed, it is impossible to have a plebiscite on the constitutional issue that will be fair and just.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter
While we on this side of the House know that what the right hon. Gentleman says is probably absolutely true and could be proved, will he say why the King of Greece was not even consulted or informed until he saw it in the papers?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The Regent of Greece is exercising the Royal power, and it is with him, through his Ministers, that His Majesty's Government must deal. I would add that for 30 years the constitutional issue has bedevilled the political situation in Greece, and I hope that in a short time it will be finally cleared up. His Majesty's Government do not mind at all what the result will be. But at this moment it would be impossible to have a plebiscite that would be fair and just. I would end by saying that "The Times" this morning reports that there is in Athens a feeling of confidence which no Greek Government for a long time has enjoyed.
Yesterday, and again this afternoon, hon. Members have asked the Government to face the facts of the present international situation and to recognise how serious it is. I do not think that my right hon. Friend and I are likely to fail in recognising that there are unpleasant facts. They flow across our tables in the Foreign Office in a veritable tide of paper day by day. No one in his senses would deny that a supreme effort by the nations of the world is now required. But a great American once said that a pessimist is a man who of two evils chooses both. As I have listened to hon. Members, I have wondered what they thought was going to happen when the war was over. Did they think that for six years you could let loose this' immense destructive power, that you could turn production over to armaments, run down the output of coal, smash your transport system, have an enemy occupation which breaks up your 840 civil services and undermines the basis of the democracy by which the countries were governed, and then come through that period of devastation without another period of hard and difficult recovery, in which there were bound to be troubles and disputes and civil wars and revolutions of every kind? History does not produce miracles like that. Of course, after the last war there were civil wars, revolutions, hunger, pestilence, and disputes about frontiers and reparations, and about what the nations called their' national rights. We always had to expect that this time that would be the same, that we should have a period of chaos, misery and disorder, and that the chaos, misery and disorder would be greater now than they were a quarter of a century ago. But I think he is a blind observer who cannot see the beginnings, and more than the beginnings, of reconstruction going on today.
There is a credit side to the account, both on the material and on the spiritual side. This summer, three-quarters of a million Parisians went by train for their first holiday since the war. Trains from Paris to Marseilles take 12 hours now instead of 10 before the war. The Fourth Republic has just been launched, with guarantees that French democracy will emerge purified and strengthened from its ordeal. Belgium, with a great Prime Minister, is making a recovery which can be called sensational in its rapidity and scale. Holland was the last of all to be relieved. Examine the reclamation of her flooded lands, and judge what an effort her people have made. Norway has carried through a General Election, and she is not the only country to have done so with success. Even Italy is making progress, and very striking progress, considering the long night of Fascist tyranny through which she has had to pass. I do not believe that Europe is finished, and I do not agree with those who say that Europe has ceased to be the centre of world affairs. I am certain that modern Europe with its great literature, music, architecture, art, medicine, science, engineering and, above all, its genius for democratic Government—Europe is still destined to play a great part in the history of the world.
I think that the Continent is going to live again. I believe that the more strongly because I think that the Continent will emerge from the present con- 841 flict purified by fire. For 50 years Europe has been under a triple curse—predatory militarism, profiteering from war, and high-tariff monopolistic exploitation of the workers by moneyed powers. I believe that postwar Europe will be free from all these things. If I confess to a deep faith in the peoples of our Continent, it is because I believe that these peoples have learned the lessons of the last 50 years, and have understood that they must unite or perish; and that, as we emerge into this period of reconstruction, month by month, there will be a greater hatred of war and conflict, and a growing desire for reconciliation, unity and peace. But an aspiration for peace will not do. It must be translated, as Disraeli once said about the nation, "into institutions." We believe that the institutions now being created, leading on to the ideal of which my right hon. Friend has spoken today, are the foundation and the hope of peace and of success in our foreign policy.
The work of U.N.R.R.A. was debated in this House a week ago. It is the first of the United Nations' institutions to come into active life. I do not want to add now to what I said then, except this: No one who saw the U.N.R.R.A. Council meeting in August last can doubt that international institutions can be made to work. That meeting had very important business. It asked the Governments to vote another very large sum of money. It discussed questions on which Governments were keenly, even bitterly, divided. it decided to extend relief to countries that not long ago were enemy States. It had vigorous and plain spoken debates. But these debates were democratic. They were in public, and the decisions were by majority vote; the minorities, which were beaten, accepted the majority vote, and went on working in a co-operative spirit on the next business to be done. There could be no more difficult work than that on which U.N.R.R.A. is engaged, and yet, from first to last, I believe that Council showed that U.N.R.R.A. is patiently succeeding.
The same is true of the Emergency European organisations being set up to deal with economic reconstruction on the Continent. I wish I had time to speak of the Inland Transport Organisation. Its constitution, since I last reported to the House, has been signed by all the Allied Nations in Europe, including the 842 Soviet Union, and by the U.S.A. Its Council is now at work. It has a mission in the Ruhr to help the Allies solve the vital problem of the transport of coal.
The same is true of E.C.O., the European Coal Organisation, dealing with, perhaps, the most vital of all Europe's problems, striving to increase production and to secure a better distribution of Europe's coal. Coal is life and food and work to the Continent today, and week by week, and month by month, E.C.O. is getting real results. The same is true of what is called E.E.C.E.—the Emergency Economic Committee for Europe. It was started last summer by the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir Arthur Salter). It has developed, as I think he would have desired, and has come to deal with a vast variety of problems—the rehabilitation of public utility undertakings, taking over tractors from Allied Armies and putting them into agricultural work, the allocation of seeds and plants for next year's sowing, the supplying of fertilisers, the campaign against infestation, the wheat position, the import and export of electric power—a vast variety of subjects, and it too is already getting practical results.
These are short term emergency regional organisations. In the last few weeks we have had the birth of two of the long-term agencies of the United Nations. It was my honour, last month, to lead the delegation of this country to the first Conference of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. I never had a more inspiring task. Hon. Members will remember that under the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman who now sits for South Kensington (Mr. Law) the Hot Springs Conference laid down the principles upon which freedom from want can be assured. They declared that hunger and malnutrition were widespread but that they could be abolished. It is a fact that two-thirds of the people in the world today are hungry or under-nourished; and that two-thirds of them, including many who are hungry, work in agriculture. But science can so raise the level of output now that the prosperity of the farmers can be increased to meet the food demands of all mankind. F.A.O. has been created to marry agriculture and nutrition; to pool the brains and organising power of Governments and scientists and administrative experts of various kinds.
843 It was a large conference. There were 500 to 600 delegates with a variety of experience and knowledge which I have never before seen equalled, with a spirit of co-operation which was all that anyone could desire. And I think it produced extremely good results. I would only draw the attention of hon. Members to two decisions, in which I think the conference showed great wisdom: one, the fact that the Food and Agriculture Organisation should be made an integral part of the general structure of the United Nations; and the second, that it was decided that the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Boyd Orr) should be appointed as its first Director-General. I think that that decision not only created great satisfaction in the Conference, but great satisfaction in this country and throughout the world.
I wish to speak of one more of "the agencies of the United Nations which has been at work, but I must first of all mention the Educational Conference to which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down referred, in the preparation of which he played so great a part and which, under the guidance of the Minister of Education, had such an extremely successful first meeting. I feel that he and she are to be congratulated on the results and particularly on the fact that this organisation is immediately to start to help in reconstructing the educational system of shattered Europe.
I turn now to the last of the bodies of which I want to speak, namely the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission set up by the San Francisco Conference. The Preparatory Commission itself, representing 51 members of the United Nations, is meeting tomorrow. Its task is the constitutional organisation of the institutions for which the Charter provides. The Executive Committee consisted of the spokesmen of 14 countries including all the so-called five great Powers. All its work has been in public, and the world's Press has been present from first to last. It has presented a report of 140 large and closely printed pages, which I hope to make available to hon. Members if I can. It contains a great variety of recommendations on the constitutional organisation of the Assembly, the Councils and the other organs of the United Nations. Ninety percent. of these recom- 844 mendations were unanimously agreed. The rest were carried by a majority vote and the minority always accepted the decision with great good will. I am not going to attempt to describe what is in this volume, but I hope that hon. Members will look at it themselves. The organisation of the Assembly, its Committee structure, its procedure, its methods of operation, details of the three Councils, the fully international character of the Secretariat, all this and much more is contained in this volume, and when hon. Members get possession of it they will see reports of the highest importance for the right development of the organs we are setting up. A copy is I think available in the Library now, but I hope to have it in the Vote Office for those hon. Members who wish to obtain it.
The Preparatory Commission is to meet tomorrow. It is to be followed in January, on the 2nd or 7th, by the General Assembly. That I think is the answer to the questions which were put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington about the atomic bomb. We do not intend to call a special meeting of the United Nations to deal with the atomic bomb. We think the right body to deal with it is the Assembly. We think that no special meeting of the United Nations could be called together with any hope of success before January, when the Assembly is due to meet. The matter will be put on the Agenda of the Assembly by the three Governments, that is the United States, Canada, and our own.
§ Sir A. Salter
May I ask whether any attempt is being made so that not only the three countries, America, Canada and the United States, will be concerned but that Russia also will be able to help in putting views about this particular problem to the United Nations?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The Prime Minister has just told me that he has in fact kept in communication with the Soviet Union in connection with this matter.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Of course the Government will consider that suggestion, but one of the difficulties is that the Security 845 Council cannot exist until it has been elected by the Assembly.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The non-permanent members have to be elected by the Assembly,- so that it does not exist, with respect to the right hon. Gentleman. In any case, if it is to be on the Agenda of the Assembly, not only the Soviet Union but all the members of the United Nations will be called into consultation as to the best means by which this matter can be dealt with, and I think we can trust the Assembly to ensure that the best machinery and the best methods will be adopted.
I would say in reply to the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me that with regard to the Washington Declaration, it says quite plainly that "safeguards by themselves" will not be completely effective, but it is hoped that the procedure which the Assembly will work out for dealing with the atomic bomb may ensure the safeguards of control, which are absolutely essential, while confidence and co-operation, which arc also vital safeguards, are increasingly built up.
I do not need, alter what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said, to tell the House that the Government attach the utmost importance to the success of the United Nations Institutions. We are prepared to go as far and as fast as possible towards international government. We do not believe that power should be used in the settlement of disputes; we should seek instead to do what we believe to be right. My right hon. Friend has said many times that this is the principle upon which his policy is founded. He has said time and time again that it is not the frontiers, the territorial arrangements, that matter most; what is most important is what happens to the people within the frontiers, what kind of life they live. That is another way of saying what the Prime Minister has said so well and so often, that the success of these new international institutions is the greatest political and moral issue in the world.
The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) asked us in an earlier Debate if we would have an ambitious foreign policy.
846 I think the answer lies in what my right hon. Friend has said and what I have tried to say this afternoon. It is proposed to put in the hands of the United Nations questions like the international government of the Italian colonies and the control of the atomic bomb. Could anything be more ambitious than that? We believe that these policies will succeed. We believe that we will have the good will of the Soviet Union in that work and I recall the words used by M. Molotov on 7th November when he said that the Soviet Union will be a trusted pillar upholding the peace and security of the nations and that it was prepared to prove it by deeds and not alone by words. He was then speaking of Soviet participation in the United Nations. We, for our part, intend to support the United Nations to the limit of our power. The Prime Minister has said that it is the first object of our foreign policy. We will send our legal disputes to the international court. We will help to work out an impartial machinery for dealing with non-legal disputes. We will work with all nations who are ready to share in establishing general security against war. And in all this work we shall rely on the peoples to support us.
I remember an earlier Foreign Secretary, the late Mr. Arthur Henderson, once saying in a meeting of Governments' representatives, that the peoples, in everything to do with peace, were far ahead of the Governments of the world. It has recalled to my mind the words of one of our great historians, who wrote:In the sciences, the philosopher leads; the rest of us take on trust what he tells us. The spiritual progress of mankind has followed the opposite course. Each forward step has been made first among the people, and the last converts have been among the learned.The peoples want the end of war. This Government hopes that it will be the instrument by which their desire will be achieved.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
May I ask a question? It is, of course, quite true that the Security Council does not yet exist, but the permanent members—
§ It being Four o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.