§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn." — [Mr. William Whiteley.]
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
It will be recognised that it is essential that I should give a review over a wide range of foreign affairs, and not only the Peace Conference. I am afraid, therefore, that I shall have to weary the House with rather a lengthy statement. World War No. 2 has caused such an upset—the greatest the world has ever seen—that it virtually means that the whole world has to find a new settlement on a com- 1488 prehensive basis, if we are to prevent a further catastrophe. The problems to solve in Europe are interlinked with those of the Middle East and the Far East, while at the same time we have to take into account the rising of nationalism all over the world and, while recognising it, guide it into a world organisation or it may become a danger of further conflict.
There are some who judge by the speed with which the Versailles Peace Treaty was signed at the end of World War No. I who are impatient at the pace with which we are settling the present world problems, but I would emphasise at the outset that there is no real comparison with World War No. 1. The great problem that had to be settled then was that of Germany and the re-division of Europe, and the creation of new States in Europe. At that time a League of Nations was shaped which did not function before the Peace Treaty, but was the outcome of it and functioned afterwards. This time the United Nations organisation was established apart from, and at the same period in time as, the Peace Treaties. Therefore, the heart of the subject was being dealt with at the beginning, and the other questions were dealt with afterwards. The whole problem of reconstruction of the world now is entirely different. For the sake of the security of the future, the two main aggressive nations of the world are being left to the last, on the ground that it is essential to continue to exercise such control over them, and occupation, as to prevent them ever becoming aggressor nations again. Therefore, as a result of the discussions which took place at Potsdam, we are proceeding from the circumference instead of from the centre, and even this raises such antagonism and difficulties, that the task is made extremely difficult and calls for patience, toleration and a steady moving away from the war itself.
Another great factor which did not have to be taken into account at the end of World War No. 1 was Russia. She was then a defeated nation. She had passed through a revolution. Her position was largely ignored and, as many of us felt at that time, this was one of the greatest mistakes the peacemakers of that time made. If that error had not been committed, much more confidence might have been established between the two 1489 wars, and particularly if the United States also had conic in to the League. It is quite fair to assume that in this case, World War No 2 might have been avoided. But I am not unhopeful that, as we proceed, understanding will come, and it will not be the fault of His Majesty's Government if it does not come.
The House will be conversant with our difficulties from the large amount of propaganda which is put out against the British Empire and Commonwealth, and the temptation there always is to reply, which often makes things worse. But I have taken the view that our contribution to these two world wars, the price we have paid in blood and money, our moral claim as well as the sacrifices which we have already given, do not call for a justification of our existence every five minutes. In fact, I think our steadiness and patience are bringing their own reward. These attacks on the British Empire and Commonwealth do not all come from one source. We hear the old idea of British Imperialism being trotted out in the West and in the East, but our policy in these days, with all the experience of the war behind us, and the great desire for freedom throughout the world, is, I believe, more clearly understood now than ever before.
If I may, to begin with, I would like briefly to touch on the Far East. This is a region of very great importance to us and particularly to the British Commonwealth, and Australia and New Zealand. Australia had to face the dangers of invasion, although happily that did not actually take place. She is, therefore, quite properly concerned about the future settlement with Japan, and the peace which will be established in the Pacific. The agreement reached at Yalta provided for the handing over of certain territories to Russia, including the Kuriles, the occupation of Korea, and so on, as well as an understanding with Russia regarding her coming into the war against Japan. At the Moscow Conference at the end of the year, it was decided to establish a Four Power trusteeship for Korea. Unfortunately, not much progress appears to have been made yet, and the situation there is very similar to what it is in certain parts of Europe.
We, both in the occupation of Japan and in the handling of the situation in the Far East, have cooperated closely with 1490 Australia and New Zealand and Canada. There is a British Commonwealth force in Japan, and we are represented collectively on the Council by an Australian assisted by representatives from here. We admire the administration that has been set up in Japan by General MacArthur and his Council, and the progress that has been made towards the establishment of democratic institutions and practices in that country. Physically, the demilitarisation of Japan is complete; the task ahead is to ensure that the Japanese have neither the resources nor the desire to tread the path of aggression again. Therefore it is quite proper, having regard to the contribution made by the partnership of the British Commonwealth, that we should be closely associated with this present task, both by the employment of our Forces in the occupation and control of Japan, and by our counsel in international deliberations. We are anxious to conclude an enduring peace with Japan, and this will be helped if the Japanese people are ready and willing to put into practice the democratic ideals of their new constitution.
China has shown resistance to the Japanese over a number of years, and we are all concerned to see an early return to peace and prosperity in that great country. Invaded by a powerful aggressor, many of her great industries destroyed, a good deal of equipment taken, particularly from Manchuria, and now torn by civil war, that great country is left with tremendous problems to solve. She is now handicapped by an unfortunate dispute between the national Government and the Communists. The United States took a very wise step in sending General Marshall there with the object of bringing about a reconciliation, and it is a matter for regret that this great effort has not, up to the moment, been successful. It is certainly not the fault of General Marshall. He has been wise and patient, and has done everything in his power to try to bring the parties together to obtain a settlement in the hope that wiser counsels would prevail. His Majesty's Government can only express the earnest hope that, before long, such a settlement will be reached and China, under a united Government, will achieve her goal of peace and prosperity.
One of the encouraging signs is to be found in the developments that have taken place in Indonesia. It will be re- 1491 membered that I indicated to the House that His Majesty's Government would do their best to promote a settlement in that territory. We have been pushing this with vigour. Lord Inverchapel went there, and helped to encourage discussions which are now being followed up by Lord Killearn. We have carried out our task in collecting the Japanese prisoners and moving the internees. This creates a better atmosphere, and we are able to pursue a determined and sincere attempt at reconciliation. The arrival of a Netherlands Commission General in China, headed by the ex-Prime Minister, Dr. Schermerhorn, for the purpose of negotiations with the Indonesians, will, I hope, lead to a final settlement The Netherlands and Indonesian delegations have met under the chairmanship of Lord Killearn, and, on 14th October, a truce between the armed forces was concluded. This is an auspicious start, upon which the two parties principally concerned and Lord Killearn are warmly to be congratulated. It has been our aim throughout to try to bring the parties together, and both sides have recently made friendly references to the part we have played. Dr. Van Mook on 8th October said that the Dutch would not forget their gratitude and friendship for the British Empire for what we had done in the Netherlands East Indies, and, on the other hand, the Indonesian Prime Minister, Mr. Sjahrir, said on 7th October that the British Forces had shown a just appreciation of the Indonesian national movement, and the national revolution that had grown out of it. Our troops will be out of Indonesia finally on 30th November [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I have every hope that, by that date, a settlement will have been reached.
Further North there has also been progress towards a settlement of the longstanding territorial disputes between Siam and French Indo-China. One great bugbear which has hampered our work in these lands has been the food situation, and it still remains very serious in the Far Eastern territories. In spite of every effort, supplies of rice have not been coming forward to the extent expected, and the cereal rations in these countries have had to be cut below the danger level. In conditions of famine the development of peace is extremely difficult. The Special Commissioner in South East Asia, in con- 1492 sultation with the Governments concerned, is taking all possible steps to help in the economic rehabilitation of the rice exporting countries in order to increase their rice production. At the same time much has been done to stimulate the local production of foodstuffs in the devastated areas. I do not need to remind the House of the self-denial of the people of this country. Since March, 1945, no rice has been imported into this country, and the British housewife has had to do without this food in order to prevent starvation in these Far Eastern lands.
I should now like to direct the attention of the House to the Middle East. This review has to be as quick as possible because of the territory that has to be covered, but this area is a very vital one. It needs to be handled with very great care. Great Britain and the countries of the Middle East have very close ties, and no country has done more to promote their security and the development of their independence than Great Britain has done. So far as Syria and the Lebanon are concerned, both the French and our troops have been withdrawn. As regards Egypt, we are at this moment trying to replace our existing Alliance, which was forged under the threat of Axis aggression, by an Alliance founded on identity of interest and the principle of partnership and mutual responsibility. These talks are still continuing, and the Prime Minister of Egypt, who is unfortunately ill in this country at the moment, came over to continue the discussions. We wish him a speedy recovery. We are handicapped in bringing the talks to a final conclusion, however, owing to a good many internal political differences in Egypt itself. Both parties are agreed that it is to their mutual interest that a proper Alliance should be established which, later on, can be fitted into a world security arrangement.
These discussions do not only affect Egypt as an isolated entity, but have repercussions over the whole Middle East area. We are extremely anxious to avoid anything which will create suspicion or difficulties with other countries. In this connection, I would remind the House that the Suez Canal has been open to the shipping of the whole world on equal terms, and it is that status we are determined to maintain. We have other interests in the region. It should be borne in mind that this area is vital to the peace 1493 of the world, and that the countries in it themselves look to us for assistance in their development. Allegations have been made that we in Britain wish to oppress and exploit the people of the Middle East. That is just sheer nonsense. It remains an essential part of the general policy of His Majesty's Government to respect, sustain, and develop their independence. This is appreciated in all the countries concerned, but the attainment of political independence is, of course, not the end of a country's problems.
The great task now is for those countries to build a healthy economy, based on a better standard of living conditions for the masses of their peoples. In this, the outlook of the new Britain particularly qualifies us to help, that is, if our help is desired. We can assist by advising on labour laws and conditions, the development of agricultural and irrigation schemes, health services, and so forth, and we have said that we are prepared to put at the disposal of the Middle East countries all the experience and knowledge that we have gained of such things in the past. This is our attitude, not only to the Arab countries, but to all the Middle Eastern countries.
This brings me particularly to Persia. This country has been looming largely in the news recently. In Moscow I struggled very hard to try to get an understanding in regard to Persia. I realise that Persia is in a dangerous position where interests of great Powers meet, and I am very anxious that the smaller Government should never fall a victim of any difference of opinion by three larger Powers. Therefore, it is a matter of regret to me that the suggestions made during the Moscow Conference were not adopted. On the other hand, the British interests there are those of large employers of labour, and we have taken steps to see that so far as the labour employed by British interests is concerned, the standard of living shall be on a good level, and that we shall be model employers. I have read with very great interest the Reports of the Parliamentary delegations which visited Teheran, and their suggestions are being followed up. We cannot submit, however, to unfair discriminatory conditions, but we have indicated to the Persian Government that our attitude will be that of really good employers, looking after the welfare of the people in health, housing, and general amenities, and the maintenance of a 1494 decent purchasing power of the wage-earned. We shall observe labour laws laid down by the Persian Government, and we have given definite instructions that there is to be no interference with the Government itself. We wish to see Persia united in maintaining her independence, free from foreign interference, and progressing steadily to a higher standard of life. If this is observed by all countries, this area will be kept clear of any possible conflict.
The next vexed problem which has been given attention is that of Turkey. This matter came up at Potsdam, and the Declaration agreed by the three Powers there was as follows:The three government? recognise that the Convention concluded at Montreux should be revised as failing to meet present day conditions It was agreed that, as the next step, the matter should be the subject of direct conversations between each of the three governments, and the Turkish Government.What we think right is that there should be a discussion between the great Powers and Turkey, in order to consider a revision of the Montreux Convention, which now governs the passage of vessels through the Dardanelles. At the various international conferences during the last three or four years, and in their latest correspondence with the Turkish Government, the Soviet Government have made it clear that they are anxious to obtain a base in the Straits, which would ensure, in effect, that the control of this waterway would rest in the hands of the Soviet Union and not in the hands of the territorial Power most clearly concerned. His Majesty's Government have made it clear that in their view, if this were adopted, it would involve an unwarrantable interference with the sovereignty of Turkey, and the effect of it would be to put her really under foreign domination, and would also represent an improper interference with the rights of other Powers concerned. During the last two months, the Soviet Government have placed their views publicly on record in two Notes to the Turkish Government, which have received wide publicity. I repeat that His Majesty's Government do not dispute that the existing Convention requires modification in certain respects to bring it into accord with present day conditions. For instance, at present Japan is one of the signatories. The Convention itself contains a number of references to the League of Nations, and the definition of warships given in an 1495 annex to the Convention is now clearly out of date. We agreed at Potsdam with the United States and the Soviet Government that as a next step matters should be the subject of direct conversations between each of the three Governments concerned, and the Turkish Government. But, while recognising that revision is necessary, His Majesty's Government are very anxious to keep the international aspect of this waterway always in view.
It was with this aspect in mind that they considered the Note received from the Soviet Government in August last. In this Note the Soviet Government stated that during the recent war the Convention of the Straits did not prevent the enemy Powers from using the Straits for hostile purposes against the Soviet Union, and other Allied States. His Majesty's Government, on the other hand, although they have in the course of the war had some difference of opinion with the Turkish Government, about the interpretation of the Convention, held that, on the whole, its terms had been conscientiously observed. Holding these views, however, the Soviet Government suggested that the establishment of the regime in the Straits should be reserved to the Black Sea Powers alone, and that Turkey and the Soviet Union, as the most interested Powers, should jointly organise the defence of the Straits. Against that H.M. Government pointed out that it had for long been internationally recognised that the regime of the Straits was the concern of other Powers besides the Black Sea Powers, and that they could not, therefore, accept the Soviet view. H.M. Government also stated that the proposal that Turkey and the Soviet should jointly organise the defence of the Straits was not acceptable. They felt that Turkey, as the territorial Power, should continue to be responsible for the defence and control of the Straits. This view was also expressed by the United States Government. The Soviet Government have not been able to accept these views, and a further Note has been addressed to the Turkish Government insisting on their point of view.
Our view now is that the direct exchanges of views provided for by the Potsdam agreement have come to an end, and any further discussions should, therefore, take place at an international conference called for that purpose. If 1496 such an international conference is called, of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union, and all the other signatories of the Montreux Convention, other than Japan, we shall be glad to join, and to strive hard for an agreed solution of this difficult problem. That solution should take into account the legitimate interests of Turkey and the Soviet Union, for I would remind the House that we are bound by treaties of alliance with both countries. But any solution must, in our view, respect the sovereignty of Turkey and the interest of other Powers concerned outside the Black Sea. I believe that if this case is not pushed unilaterally, and is dealt with on an international basis, a solution will be found. Matters have been made much more awkward by the war of nerves which has been carried on, and I am satisfied that if this ceased, a new atmosphere would be created which would enable the matter to be dealt with on a much better footing.
May I now turn to Greece? Greece has been the subject of a pressure and a propaganda attack which has been unprecedented. I have explained before that His Majesty's Government have, all along, considered it essential that there should be both elections and a plebiscite on the question of the monarchy. From that we have not departed, and indeed this principle was in the minds of the British Government and the Greek representatives before the Allied Armies returned to Greece at all. I am perfectly certain that it is in keeping with the desires of the Greek people. It is a matter of great regret to us that all the parties did not join in the Election. This habit of boycotting elections is not a good one—[Laughter.] The Opposition obviously do not intend to adopt it. The suggestion that all this has been carried out at the point of British bayonets, to force upon the Greek people a regime they do not want, does not bear a moment's examination. The Greek people desire to live in security, and why they should be selected, and made the victims of external propaganda and a nerve wax, is difficult to understand. No country in the world in the last 30 years has suffered more than Greece. It is a country which has to be completely rebuilt. His Majesty's Government have no other object in view than to endeavour to put Greece on her feet again, allow her to develop, in her own way and without interference, her demo- 1497 cratic institutions, and to carry out what is so essential, both a short term and a long term reconstruction which will put her people into a position of developing a rising standard of life, restore her trade and allow her to take her place among the other nations of the world under good and sound conditions. This has been hindered by the constant agitation that has been carried on, not so much by people inside Greece itself, as from outside.
It will be remembered that in February last the question of Greece was put on the Security Council agenda, and I thought that as a result of that discussion, the matter was closed. Everybody knew why we were there, and knew that we only wanted to go as soon as we could. We have done our best to recreate Greece as a State, for we can never forget that in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, Greece was the only Ally of the Commonwealth at a moment when the most friendly relations existed between others and Nazi Germany, and that she had to take the brunt of the attack of Italy, and later was invaded by Germany. I should have thought that gratitude alone would have left her to return to peaceful development. That has not been done. Had it been so, a much more balanced situation would now be existing in Greece. Had the original plan of elections without civil war and without one party seeking to put through its aims by force been followed, Greece would today have made greater progress towards recovery. We tried, as a result of international observers, to get as good and as clean an election as possible. I should like to have seen international observers for all the Balkan States, and have no more pressure on the people of those other countries than that which has been placed on the Greeks, while exercising their vote.
Before the return of the King I made the position of His Majesty's Government quite clear. I indicated that we expected that the monarchy in Greece would act in a strictly constitutional manner. In addition, I have met not only the Prime Minister and members of his Government and diplomatic service in Paris, but also the leaders of most of the parties, and indicated to them the view of His Majesty's Government that it was everybody's duty today to create and rally that great democratic opinion in Greece, and to use it for 1498 the reconstruction of the country and to bring happiness and prosperity back to Greece. There is a tendency there to play politics a little too much in a critical period like this So far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, and I say this with emphasis, we will not desert Greece after the great comradeship that existed between us, and we shall pursue a policy of trying to assist her economically as well
Therefore, I repeat that I should like to see Greece with a broadly based Government, and with a state of law and order such that the Government will be able to repeal very soon the Emergency Measures Law, and that Greece will then return to normal life, with a prison population reduced so that only actual criminals remain in the prisons. Then the political conflict would be at an end. But if she is to do it, outside interference must stop, and allow her to do it. I suggested to the political leaders outside the Government that all political parties should, in a crisis of this character, join to work to this end. Notwithstanding this policy of His Majesty's Government towards Greece, which has been made quite clear, we were taken again before the Security Council, while the actual Peace Conference was going on in Paris, this time by the Ukrainian Government, and again completely vindicated. As Sir Alexander Cadogan said then, what Greece chiefly needs is to be left alone so that she can grapple with her economic needs. I think at this stage—[HON. MEMBERS: "Leave her alone. Take the troops out."] Well, I may say I am leaving her alone except that I am offering help everywhere I can. I am not interfering, neither are His Majesty's Government, with the Governments the Greeks create, how they should be set up or in any other way. I give the lie direct to all those charges so glibly made. I think at this stage 1 ought to pay tribute, and I am sure the House will agree with me, to the part played by the Regent during his years of office and his services to the Greek people during this very critical period.
Before leaving Greece, I should like to touch on the question of the Greek trade unions. I have received a number of letters in the last few weeks protesting at what is described as the suppression of the Greek trade unions. Greek trade unions have not been suppressed. What 1499 has happened is that, by decision of the Council of State, the highest judicial authority in Greece, the ministerial decree under which the elections to the executive of the Greek trade unions have taken place, was declared invalid. [Laughter.] I would remind my hon. Friends, my own comrades on this side of the House, that many of them would not be here today, if it had not been for the judicial decision in the Osborne judgment, and if it had not been for the Campbell judgment, the Labour Government would not be here. These historical precedents must not be judged at the moment they happen, but must be looked upon in the light of their possible effects.
The fact that the elections were observed by the representatives of the World Federation of Trade Unions and the Trades Union Congress does not make the slightest difference to their validity as far as Greek law is concerned, and it is not for me to question the decision of the Greek Council of State on matters of Greek law. What I did, from the moment I knew that an appeal had been made to the Council of State's jurisdiction, was to express to the Greek Government, through the mouthpiece of His Majesty's Ambassador in Athens, the hope that in any action the Greek Government might take arising out of whatever decision was reached by the Council of State, they should bear in mind the extreme importance which would be attached, both by His Majesty's Government and by organised labour throughout the world, to their ensuring that nothing was done which would jeopardise the working and development of free trade unions in Greece. It should be borne in mind that the situation in Greek trade union affairs was far from satisfactory before even the decision of the Council of State was made known.
§ Mr. Bevin
I am stating the facts. Strikes were constantly being called for political reasons, though very little attention was paid to such calls by the majority of Greek workers. There was also very little prospect of a healthy development of collective bargaining. I realised, however, and the Greek Government now fully recognise, that the situation which has been developing since the decision of the Council of State is far from satisfac- 1500 tory, and the Greek Government sought the assistance of His Majesty's Government in solving the crisis which has arisen. At their invitation, I have appointed Mr. Hull, the resident labour attaché, and Mr. Braine, who has served with very considerable distinction as labour attaché in our Embassy in Rome, to go to Greece and make a special investigation into trade union matters there and to make recommendations to the Greek Government, with a view to a solution of the present problems which would be satisfactory to all the parties. Discussions are now going on with the Greek Government on the basis of Mr. Braine's recommendations, and I earnestly hope that the Greek Government will accept those recommendations, so that these discussions may not merely lead to a solution of the immediate crisis, but also provide a more solid basis and the introduction of new laws for the future development of trade unionism in Greece.
Now, may I turn to the Peace Conference? I have already explained—
§ Mr. Bevin
With regard to the British troops in Greece, we shall get them out as soon as we can. We have certain obligations to fulfil, and as soon as they are fulfilled the troops will come away. I hope that will not be long delayed.
I turn to the Peace Conference. I have explained already that it is unreal to compare the settlement after this war with the Versailles settlement, and we must not be impatient if the work of making peace appears to go slowly. If we are to lay the foundations of a structure which is to last, we cannot afford to take decisions without full consideration. This Conference has given the main Allies the opportunities to which they are entitled to state their views on the peace. The recommendations sent forward by the four members of the Council of Foreign Ministers have been subject to searching criticism and to frank discussion. All concerned now _ understand better the problems and the points of view of their Allies, and all of us have made personal contacts which may help us to better understanding in the future. In many respects we have employed methods different from those employed at other Peace Conferences. One of the most important of these, I think. 1501 has been the full hearing and consideration given to the views of ex-enemy countries. There has been no question this time of dictating a peace to them.
This Conference has also been open to the Press and to the public. Everyone can know the facts and, as should be the case in a democratic world, can pass judgment on a peace settlement to end the war which he helped to win. I regret to say in some cases, I feel the publicity given to this Conference has been abused. There have been attempts to use the Conference as a forum for propaganda speeches, and some States have taken the opportunity to level frivolous charges at others. Sometimes particular and selfish interests have been strenuously pursued without regard to the general good, and sometimes we have seen States swayed, not by the merits of the case, but by ideological sympathies. There have appeared to be two blocs when we came to the voting, and the world has got the impression that the Conference has led to the division of East and West. Such division must, and I am sure can, be prevented. If it continued, it would delay and threaten the recovery of Europe. But if we are to avoid division, artificial barriers in political and cultural fields which prevent free contacts must be removed. Only this will create mutual understanding and good relations between countries which will ensure a peace worthy of the name.
I now turn to the achievements of the Conference. In some cases the Conference clearly expressed its opinion on territorial questions. Agreement was reached on all the frontiers of Finland and Rumania. The views of both the Rumanians and Hungarians were heard on Transylvania, and the Conference decided unanimously that it should be left to Rumania. It was agreed that Bulgaria should retain the South Dobrudja. As regards the frontier between Bulgaria and Greece, we and a number of other delegations felt that the claims of Greece had not been studied sufficiently and that a final decision should be deferred. Hungary has its prewar frontiers back, with a small adjustment of the Czech frontier. Here, the Conference was called upon to examine the problem of Hungary's minority in Czechoslovakia, His Majesty's Government have-always felt that a satisfactory solution 1502 of this problem, in accordance with humanitarian principles, could only be reached as the result of agreement between the two Governments concerned. This course has been recommended by the Conference, and the Government earnestly hope that the Hungarian and Czechoslovak Governments will enter into negotiations without delay and find a solution of their present difficulties.
It was in the Italian Treaty that the most contentious issues were raised, and some of them aroused very heated debate, but I will first deal with those on which there was little disagreement. A minor rectification of the frontiers between Italy and France, in France's favour, was agreed to on the condition that Italy's economic interests in this area were safeguarded. I am glad to say also that the Conference agreed that the Dodecanese Islands should go to Greece. As regards the Southern Tyrol, I am sure this House, after the criticism levelled at the Government on this question, will join with me in welcoming the agreement concluded between Italy and Austria, whereby the German-speaking inhabitants of the territory are assured of their rights, while Italy can still rely on the water power essential to her industry. At the same time, it should be possible to develop the tourist trade in this territory, which can be of so much advantage to both countries, particularly in the realm of foreign exchange. I would like to congratulate the two Governments concerned on this happy solution of their difficulties, and I hope it will be a precedent set for other similar agreements. The Conference decided, by a two-thirds majority, to include in the Treaty a reference to this agreement which would give it international recognition. Many interesting proposals were put forward for the future of the Italian Colonies, but, in the end, the Conference agreed to a recommendation of the Council of Foreign Ministers that further reflection is required before their fate can be decided.
I now turn to the most disputed and contentious point—that of Trieste. This question was hotly debated at the Conference. The House will remember that the Council of Foreign Ministers agreed in July to recommend the adoption of the so-called French line, and the estab- 1503 lishment within that line of a free territory of Trieste. After discussion of a number of alternative proposals, the Conference also agreed to the adoption of the French line. Here I must confess that H.M. Government, basing themselves on the London decision that the frontier between Italy and Yugoslavia should be decided according to ethnic principles, originally felt that everything West of the so-called British line, including Pola, should go to Italy, and that a free port should be created in Trieste, which would safeguard the interests of Yugoslavia, and generally promote European trade. At first, I doubted whether the solution recommended by the Council of Foreign Ministers was a wise one. I had in mind, of course, Danzig, but there is a difference between Danzig and Trieste. The former only served one country, while Trieste can serve several countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe beside Italy and Yugoslavia, and even Danzig might have worked if no Hitler had ever arisen. I, therefore, came to the conclusion that, if we could provide for a really independent and free territory, and a free port within it, the proposal recommended by the Council of Foreign Ministers was the best solution, having regard to the problems of Europe as a whole. In fact, we are trying to create in Trieste a new Hanseatic area.
At the Conference, the main debate centred on the future regime of the territory. Our difficulties were increased by the fact that the Soviet delegation, which had voted with us over the French line, put forward proposals, and supported a number of Yugoslav proposals, which, in our view, would have reduced the governor to a mere reporting agent of the Security Council and would have removed the stability which Trieste needed if she was to remain an independent territory. We joined with the United States delegation in declaring that our agreement to the French line was contingent upon agreement being reached on the other parts of the decisions of last July, including the statute for the free territory which would provide a real guarantee for its integrity and independence, and would protect the rights of its citizens.
During the debate, our motives in doing this were attacked. We were accused of wishing to establish an Anglo- 1504 Saxon military base in Trieste. I have made it clear many times, and I wish to do so again, that this is just nonsense. We have not approached the problem from the point of view of strategy at all. We have not thought of a military base, and shall be only too glad when we can withdraw our troops. We are pursuing no selfish national interest, but purely the interest of wishing to see a solution which will bring peace and stability to the area. We seek a solution that will stand the immediate strains and stresses and also stand the test of time. We feel that, in view of the racial divisions in the free territory, and the consequent risk of outside interference, special measures must be taken to ensure the maintenance of public order and security, and the protection of the rights of the inhabitants, of whatever nationality they might be. If these things are assured, we hope that both elements of the population, Slav and Latin, will develop a consciousness of common citizenship that will enable them to live and work together in harmony.
Next, we desire that everything should be done to enable the territory to prosper. For this, we feel that there are two essential requirements. In the first place, the States concerned must agree to grant freedom of transit for goods passing across the territory between Trieste and the countries which it naturally serves. The second requirement is peace and stability. Only if there is evidence that this has been established, is it reasonable to count on the confidence and the necessary finance for economic development and the proper employment of the people of Trieste. Thus, we look at the problem. We feel the necessity for a strong and impartial Government under the effective control of the United Nations organisation. We believe that the responsibility of the Security Council for the free territory should begin from the moment the treaty comes into force, and that the governor, as the representative of the Security Council, should be given power to ensure the fulfilment of the Security Council's responsibilities. In such circumstances, we are ready to place our troops at the disposal of the Security Council during the transitional period, while the fundamental structure of Trieste is being organised. The Security Council would decide the date on which our troops would be withdrawn. The Conference could not reach agreement on the terms 1505 of the permanent statute of the free territory or of the instrument for the provisional régime and the régime in the free port
A resolution was put forward by the French delegation suggesting a number of principles which the Conference might recommend to the Council of Foreign Ministers, which embodied what, in our view, are most essential points. We therefore supported the resolution, which received a two-thirds majority in the plenary session. I do not underestimate the difficulties which lie ahead of us in the further discussions, before a final decision is reached by the Council of Foreign Ministers. As the House is aware, the Yugoslav Government have said that they will not sign the treaty with Italy, nor withdraw their troops from the part of the proposed free territory of Trieste which they now occupy, if a solution based on the French line is upheld. I hope the Yugoslav Government will withdraw from this extreme position. The essential condition of success of the free territory is that both Yugoslavia and Italy shall show good will and willingness to subordinate to the general good, their irredentist aspirations. Both these countries have a great responsibility, as well as a great opportunity, and I hope they will take it.
Dealing with the Italian treaty as a whole, my view has always been that, in 1919, Italy went too far. This has now brought about its reactions. What we have to do now is to avoid doing anything that will again create irredentist feelings. Therefore, I am anxious that Yugoslavia should not make the same mistake this time, as Italy did in 1919. On the other hand, I have made H.M. Government's position quite clear to the Italians. We have had to have regard to the damage done by Italy in her days of aggression, but we have made every allowance for the services she rendered after the armistice. We have tried to find a just balance in our treatment of Italy. On the other hand, we have made it clear to Italy that we are ready to discuss trade and other difficulties at the earliest possible moment after the treaty is signed, and we look forward to resuming relations on the most cordial basis with a new democratic Italy.
I now turn to the economic provisions of the treaties. As regards reparations, on which most useful work was done, we 1506 found it necessary to strike a difficult balance between the principle that enemy States should make good part of the damage done to their victims and the need not to destroy the capacity of these countries to restore their own trade and economy, thus hindering the reconstruction of Europe. The Conference recommended that 75 per cent. compensation should be made by enemy States for damage done to the property of members of the United Nations. While we, at first, supported the principle that full compensation should be paid, we finally deferred to the majority view, and voted for the recommendation. Many other economic questions were examined, and the Conference accepted a number of recommendations, particularly in the Balkan treaties. Here we came up against the difficulty that all States did not accept the principle of equal treatment for all. H.M. Government have made it clear that, while they do not expect preferential treatment, they do expect to be given the same treatment as others, and feel that this principle should be embodied in the treaties.
This difficulty became clear when we considered the Danube. With my United States and French colleagues, I supported a proposal that the Danube should be free for all States to navigate on equal terms. In order that this principle should be put into practice, the British delegation urged that obligations should be put on Rumania, Hungary and Bulgaria to participate with the four major Allies and the other riparian States, in a conference to be held within six months of the Peace Treaty coming into force. The object of this conference would be to establish a new international régime for the Danube, which would take into account the conditions of today. The Soviet delegation maintained that it was unnecessary to include in the peace treaties any reference to a future régime and denied the right of any country, other than the riparian States, to have any say in the organisation of navigation of the river. We opposed this view and in doing so we only reaffirmed a principle which has been generally recognised for at least 100 years. We are not trying to impose our point of view. At the conference which we proposed, the United States, France and the United Kingdom would be outnumbered by the riparian States, but we do feel that it 1507 stands out clearly that some international body is necessary to ensure that freedom of navigation on the Danube is respected and that this necessary conservancy work is carried out. We pressed for the inclusion of a clause to this effect in the treaties with the Balkan ex-enemy States because we know to our cost that ever since the international régime has existed on the Danube, it has been obstructed by one or other of the riparian States.
We are impressed by the urgency of this problem. As the House knows, the Danube has a swift current and silts up very rapidly. We have reports to show that there are serious blocks South of Bratislava and that the Sulina channel, the only Channel which is navigable to ocean going shipping, may shortly become totally impassable. It is, therefore, our earnest resolve at the future meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to press forward this proposal for the freedom of navigation and the calling of a conference. We feel it is in the interest of the riparian States, and we are certain that only in this way can the Danube be maintained as a great international waterway of South-Eastern Europe, on which ships of all nations can move as freely as on the sea, and bring prosperity to these needy lands. If we delay longer, the river may become impassable and, if this happens, it would bring misery to the people who live along its banks.
This brings me to the end of the main subjects discussed by the Peace Conference, and I should like here to say a word about what lies ahead. The Paris Conference met for a limited purpose, which I think we can say it has successfully accomplished. It had to consider the proposals made by the Council of Foreign Ministers to whom, in turn, it was to submit recommendations for a final peace settlement. The Conference was never meant to reach final conclusions or to agree on final texts. This is the task of the Council of Foreign Ministers which will meet in New York on 4th November. This meeting of the Council will consider the recommendations of the Peace Conference. Many of those on which the four major Powers were agreed will certainly appear in the final text, but on others, they voted on different sides, and it is the main task of the meeting in New York to resolve these difficulties. I do not 1508 under-estimate the difficulty of this task. Each Foreign Minister has his own national interest to defend, but I feel sure that if we are to achieve lasting peace and economic recovery, which the peoples of the world desire so ardently, all must show readiness to recognise the legitimate interest of others and to subordinate national interest to the common good. If we approach the peace treaties in this spirit, we shall succeed. If not, we shall fail, and, in those circumstances, no peace treaties will be better than bad peace treaties, which could only be a hollow mockery.
I am deeply disappointed that our work on the peace treaties did not include a settlement with Austria. As this House is aware His Majesty's Government have made determined efforts to have a treaty with Austria discussed at the same time as the treaties with the German satellites. But it has not, so far, been possible to overcome Russian opposition to this course. At the forthcoming meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers to settle peace treaties and to discuss Germany, we shall continue to take every possible opportunity to press for early discussion of an Austrian treaty. Without this treaty, the whole Balkan settlement is incomplete. For one thing, until a treaty is made with Austria and the occupation forces are withdrawn, Russia can claim that she must keep some of her Forces in Rumania and Hungary on the lines of communication between Russia and Austria. In a more general sense, it is most important since Austria stands at the crossroads between East and West. So long as these roads are blocked, Austria cannot fulfil her necessary functions of providing a meeting place and market for neighbouring countries on each side. The delay in reaching a settlement with Austria is particularly unjust in that the Austrians have shown their political maturity both in holding free and honest elections at an early date after Austria's liberation and more recently, in their wise and statesmanlike agreement with Italy about Southern Tirol.
Moreover, the Allies are bound by the Moscow Declaration of 1943 to re-establish a free and independent Austria. This agreement will be nullified if we are continually prevented by one pretext after another from concluding a treaty which will leave Austria free to run her own 1509 affairs. We fully realise that the question of displaced persons in Austria, is a most difficult one, and that their presence constitutes a serious burden on the Austrian economy. But their presence is no fault of the Austrian Government and does not in any way constitute a reason for the delay in making a treaty with Austria. The occupying Powers and the Austrian Government have already made considerable progress in carrying out de-Nazification, and in removing the last traces of German influence in Austria. If there, is further work to be done in this direction, it should be easy for the Powers to agree between themselves what it is, and to ensure that the Austrian Government take steps to carry it out. This, again, is no reason at all for delay in consideration of the treaty. We have the greatest sympathy with the Austrian Government in the difficulties which they encounter as a result of claims to a large part of industrial plant as reparations on the ground that it is a part of the German external assets. We do not attempt to dispute that Russia is entitled to take as reparations whatever can be fairly claimed to be a German asset in Eastern Austria, but no definition has ever been agreed to as to what is a German asset, and we could not agree that one of the parties should make a unilateral decision defining this question in its own interest. We have tried on many occasions to secure early discussions between the four occupying Powers as to what this definition should be, but we have not as yet achieved this. We shall continue to try, both in Vienna and, if necessary, at meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers.
The question of supplies for Austria continues to cause us considerable preoccupation. It is clear that if U.N.R.R.A. aid comes to an end about the end of this year, Austria will not yet be self-supporting and will need assistance from outside. The need for such assistance would, needless to say, be considerably reduced if the Austrian economy was not handicapped by the uncertainty of the reparations claims which have been made against it, and by the obstacles placed in the way of the exercise of the Austrian Government's authority in the Russian zone. But even if these difficulties were removed, foreign assistance would still be necessary. We have already taken some steps to improve Austria's economic posi- 1510 tion by arranging for the restoration of trade between this country and Austria. In all this difficult situation one thing is perfectly clear, that Austria must in the shortest possible time, regain her full independence as a united country. We have gone a considerable way towards eliminating the effect of the zonal barriers in Austria, particularly in the West, and we do not for a moment contemplate taking any steps to reverse this process. The special difficulties in Eastern Austria must be dealt with by opening the area fully to the authority of the Austrian Government, and not by shutting it off as a plague spot which can only be treated in isolation from the rest of the country.
I now want to bring the House to one of the most difficult subjects associated with peace, and particularly with the problem to which one has to find a solution, namely, Germany. I turn to Germany, where we and our Allies are confronted with a most difficult and testing problem. Agreement on Germany is at once the touchstone of the relations between the four Powers, and our opportunity to build a system of lasting peace and security for the world. I would like to recall what I said at one of the July meetings at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris. I suggested there were three possible approaches to the peace of Europe: (1) A balance of power between States of equal strength, (2) domination by one Power or by two blocks of Powers, (3) united effort by the four Powers with the cooperation of their smaller Allies. I said on that occasion that H.M. Government regarded the last approach as being the most likely to produce the greatest stability. In spite of all the difficulties, we remain firmly of this opinion and it will not be H.M. Government's fault if it fails. It is our aim that this system should be applied, above all, in Germany, and if it succeeds this will lead to a general unity in Europe. But to bring it about there will have to be a general improvement in relations and a much greater confidence between the four great Allies. We have had lately some notable statements on Germany. In the first place, I refer to Mr. Byrnes' speech at Stuttgart on 6th September. H.M. Government find themselves in almost complete agreement with what Mr. Byrnes said. It cannot be too often repeated that the continuance of American interest in Europe is vital to the peace of 1511 Europe and particularly to the future of Germany. In fact, it is one of the brightest parts of the postwar picture, and one of the main grounds for hope that we shall reach a better settlement this time than we did at the end of the last war. I say again how much we welcome the proposal set out in the draft treaty on German disarmament which Mr. Byrnes put forward last July. We would be glad to see agreement reached on some such proposal for 40 years or whatever period is considered appropriate.
Equally, we welcome Marshal Stalin's statement, and we are extremely glad of his categorical denial of the idea that Russia might be intending to use Germany against the West. We can only hope that Marshal Stalin's words will, in practice, make easier cooperation between all the Allies in German and other questions. If, therefore, we take Mr. Byrnes' pledge of American cooperation, Marshal Stalin's words, the declaration which I have just made of Great Britain's desire for four-Power cooperation, and the known willingness of France to collaborate in European security, and if this desire for cooperation can be applied in practice in the conference room, and written into the settlement, the future of Europe looks brighter than it has looked for ages. Whatever difference of opinion there might be as to the final settlement in Germany, the four Powers in occupation of Germany are joined by their determination to prevent any future German aggression, or the creation of any state of affairs in Germany in which such aggression might be prepared. The issues in Germany will have to be faced at a special meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in November in New York. I must not mislead the House into assuming that the German question can be finally settled at this meeting. One hopes that it will be possible to agree on general principles to be worked out at later meetings, until we arrive at a final solution. Our ultimate goal is the preparation of a peace treaty, but there is a large amount of preliminary work to be done before that can be accomplished. It is obvious that the views of the countries which waged war against Germany must be heard. The exact procedure to enable their views to be heard must first be worked out at the Council of Foreign Ministers, but it is clear that no final 1512 decisions can be taken until all the Powers who actively took part in the war against Germany have had a chance to express their views.
I should like now to state some of the general principles which H.M. Government hope to see adopted with regard to the treatment of Germany. I hope they may commend themselves to the House, and that we may go into the conference in New York fortified with the knowledge that our ideas have the support of public opinion, of the House, and of the country. We wish to see established, first, political conditions which will secure the world against any German reversion to dictatorship or any revival of German aggressive policy; second, economic conditions which will enable Germans and the world outside Germany to benefit in conditions of peace from German industry and resources; third, constitutional machinery in Germany for these ends which is acceptable to the German people, and is thus likely to be more permanent. As regards the first point, we are striving to stimulate habits of orderly self-government amongst the Germans. There have recently been elections in the British zone for local councils. There have also been elections in Berlin, of the results of which the House is already aware. Next spring there will be elections for the provincial councils. The lesson, that the exercise of political power and responsibility is dependent on the approval of the electors expressed through the ballot box, is one of the most valuable we can teach the Germans.
As regards the third point, the constitution of Germany, we are decentralising German administration as far as possible. We have set up a new province of North Rhineland-Westphalia, and we intend reorganising the remainder of our zone into two other provinces, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony The Hanseatic towns of Hamburg and Bremen will, for the time being, remain separate from the arrangement. Looking further ahead, we contemplate a German constitution which would avoid the two extremes of a loose confederation of autonomous States and a unitary centralised State. Certain questions would be exclusively reserved to the centre; the regional units would be exclusively competent in all the remaining powers. Allowance would thus be made for local differences in tradition, religion and 1513 economic circumstances. The central Government might consist of two chambers, one of which would be popularly elected. and the other consisting of representatives of the regional units. There might be a supreme court like the United States Supreme Court, with jurisdiction to give rulings on the powers of all central and provincial legislatures. A central German government can, in due course, be established on condition that it can be freely elected from Germany as a whole and that its authority runs throughout Germany.
I now come to the second point, economic conditions. In the short term, our guide should be the Potsdam Agreement, which lays down the economic principles to be followed for the initial control period. There are many imperfections in this Agreement, but we have said many times that we are ready to carry it out in its entirety. What we are not prepared to do is to carry out parts of it which are unfavourable to us, while other parts are not fulfilled. Neither are we prepared to operate the Potsdam Agreement, unless it applies to all the zones on equal terms, and covers economics, finance and reparations. The basic provision of the Agreement is that Germany shall be treated as an economic unit. It follows that there must not be reparations deliveries from current production, so long as there is a deficit in the balance of payment account in any one zone. As a result, Eastern Germany and Western Germany are treated as two separate economic units. We and the Americans have had to buy food and other goods to send into Western Germany, while the Russians are taking similar goods from Eastern Germany into Russia. This is a situation which cannot go on. We must either have Potsdam observed as a whole, and in the order of its decision, or we must have a new agreement.
This situation was so serious that I had to declare at the Council of Foreign Ministers in July that Great Britain would not tolerate paying large sums to keep German economic life going, and that we must take steps to put our zone on a sound economic basis which would prevent any cost falling on the British taxpayer. This would have involved the coal to other zones and to other countries being paid for on a dollar basis. To meet the situation the United States offered to 1514 merge their zone with any other zone, and to form one economic unit. His Majesty's Government accepted that. This will not, of course, cure the present deficit of the two zones, or take the place of the treatment of the whole of Germany as a single economic unit. However, we are satisfied that this merger has been a most useful step in the right direction, and that its actual results, providing the financial situation can be straightened out, can be made satisfactory.
As regards German industry, the British estimate, taking steel as the yardstick—and this was worked out on what was called the Armistice and Postwar Committee of the Coalition Government, after the most careful examination of all the facts—was that Germany should be allowed to produce 11 million tons. That 11 million tons would not have created any possibility of aggression, but it was just enough to rehabilitate German life. We met with strenuous opposition, and in the interim arrangement which we reached the figure was left at 7½ million tons. However, the facts have proved that our estimate was right, if the devastation in Germany is to be dealt with. We agreed to this plan on the clear understanding that Germany would be treated as an economic unit. As this has not been done, we have a right to revise the plan. Meanwhile, we and the American Government are having to provide large sums of money in order to keep our zones of Germany at the minimum subsistence level. This is most unpalatable, and we are doing our utmost to reduce this burden. The greatest single improvement would be to increase the coal output of the Ruhr. In spite of all efforts, we can do this only by retaining in Germany temporarily more of the coal which is at present exported, and so rehabilitate the German coal industry as to be in a position at an early date to step up exports all round. Of course, every importing country is greatly concerned. But the fact is the industry there is run down and destroyed, and stocks are almost exhausted; the workers are becoming worn out on their poor diet, and are disturbed by lack of certainty about the future of German industry.
We had to meet two points of view. We had what was called the Morgenthau Plan to ruralise Germany, and that influenced 1515 the United States outlook considerably. We had the Russian mind, which, looking for security, thought it ought to be completely destroyed, but the British calculation, taking steel as a yardstick at 11 million tons, and basing the rest of industry on that footing, has turned out a perfectly right calculation, upon which we must work. All these difficulties are intensified by the presence in Germany of a very large number of displaced persons, for whom at present no home can be found, and by the transferring to Germany of millions of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia. We are not trying to evade our responsibility to receive a proportion of these now homeless Germans into our zone, but their arrival, obviously, increases the difficulties and hardships of the already overcrowded population. Housing space per inhabitant in the British zone, owing to the air war, is already less than it is in any of the other zones.
I was glad to see from Mr. Byrnes speech at Stuttgart, that it is not a part of the American policy to deny to the Germans the possibility of improving their lot by hard work. M. Molotov also said, in one of his statements in Paris in July, that, subject to the necessary controls, the German output of steel, coal, and manufactured products might be increased within certain limits. It is our considered view that German industry has a most important part to play in the whole of European economy, and it is not our intention that it should be permanently crippled, except in so far as it might endanger security. The plan for the Ruhr must be worked into the plan for the disarmament control of Germany as a whole, which is set out in the draft Treaty proposed by Mr. Byrnes, which I referred to earlier.
Apart from this, we have also to consider the ownership of the basic German industries. These industries were previously in the hands of magnates who were closely allied to the German military machine, who financed Hitler, and who in two wars, were part and parcel of Germany's aggressive policy. We have no desire to see those gentlemen or their like return to a position which they have abused with such tragic results. As an interim measure, we have taken over the possession and the control of the coal and steel industries, and vested them in the Commander-in-Chief. We shall shortly take similar action in the case of the heavy 1516 chemical industry and the mechanical engineering industry. Our intention is that those industries should be owned and controlled in future by the public. The exact form of this public ownership and control is now being worked out. They should be owned and worked by the German people, but subject to such international control that they cannot again be a threat to their neighbours The industries are in great disorder. Many of them have been heavily damaged; most of them are operating at a considerable loss. The case for the public ownership of those heavy industries was never stronger than it is in Germany today. The Germans know this themselves. I am satisfied that this statement by me in the House today will give hone to those Germans who never again want to see themselves the victims of these cartels and trusts which led them to disaster, those magnates who used the labour and skill of the German workmen with such ingenuity and with such disastrous results to them and to the whole world.
Let me sum up our economic aims with regard to German industry. The production of war material in the broadest sense must be absolutely and permanently prohibited. Germany must become self-supporting as quickly as possible. To achieve this more coal must be produced and retained in Germany. Thereafter, German industry should be free to expand, subject to a measure of international control whose form is to be determined. We should give active support to the German plan for the socialisation of their basic industries. Another most important matter to be discussed at our forthcoming Conference is that of Germany's frontiers. At Potsdam we agreed that a large part of eastern Germany should be provisionally put under Polish administration, pending final settlement of the Polish-German frontier. We did not at that Conference deal with Germany's western frontiers. There are many pressing and important questions on that side as well. The French wish to incorporate the Saar in their economic and administrative system, but without formally annexing it. They also propose that the Rhineland should be detached from Germany and formed into a separate State. They also wish that the Ruhr should be formed into a separate State. In addition to these major problems, it is possible that the Netherlands, the Belgian, Danish and 1517 Luxembourg Governments may put forward claims for territorial adjustments with Germany.
Our own view on some of these claims has already been expressed and told to the House. His Majesty's Government are prepared to accept the French proposals about the Saar, subject to the necessary adjustments of the French reparations balance and the delimitation of the exact area. We feel that this has been too long delayed, and that in the interests both of the miners and other workers in the Saar and of the French Government it is right the matter should be settled quickly. While, therefore, we shall support the French over the Saar we cannot support their proposal with regard to the Rhineland and the Ruhr. An arrangement can, we think, be made, which would satisfy French security, by providing for the maintenace in those territories of an Allied Force, even after the end of the occupation of the rest of Germany.
As regards the Polish frontier, I will not try to conceal the fact that it was with the greatest reluctance that we agreed at Potsdam to the vast changes upon which our Russian Allies insisted. It was inevitable that such enforced, large-scale emigration of people should provoke the deepest reaction in Germany, and I fear we have not seen the last result of the Polish affair. Our own assent to the provisional arrangements at Potsdam was given in return for various assurances made by the provisional Polish Government, to the effect that they would hold free and unfettered elections as soon as possible, on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot, in which all anti-Nazi parties should have the right to take part and put forward candidates, and that representatives of the Allied Press should have full freedom to report to the world on developments in Poland before and during the elections. We also secured agreement that the returning soldiers— which has been the subject of so much criticism—should have free entry back into Poland and the advantage of having the use of lands that would be available. We see no reason why we should finally ratify the cession of this vast territory to Poland, without being satisfied that those assurances have been fully carried out. We should also wish to be assured that the Poles were able to develop this territory so that the economic resources were 1518 properly used, and that it did not become a wilderness from which the Germans had been excluded, but which the Poles were unable to populate.
There is a great deal of talk nowadays about the need for putting things right in our zone of Germany. All this talk is very right and very natural. I must say, however, that people, both here and in Germany, are apt to see these things rather out of perspective. It must not be forgotten that crimes were committed and millions of Germans were implicated in those crimes, and Nuremberg by no means wipes the slate clean. We must behave like decent and sensible human beings and not like Nazis, but I appeal to the country not to allow itself to begin indulging in sloppy sentiment. It will not do the Germans any good, and it will only result is misleading them. Having regard to the fact that we have had to fight two wars, with all their sacrifices, we must now secure a just settlement without fear or favour. It is extremely distasteful to see victorious nations courting a defeated enemy for ideological reasons. The sooner we can get away from this, and consider objectively what is demanded by justice and by the long-term interests of Europe and the world, the better it will be for ourselves and for Germany as well.
We have also, of course, a major interest in seeing that Germany does not become a permanent distressed area in the centre of Europe, and that the Germans should have a proper and reasonable standard of living. If this distressed area is allowed to develop, it can only result in bringing down with it the standard of life all over Europe, including our own and indeed that of the world. Therefore, striking this balance is a very difficult thing to do. We are in Germany partly to clear up the mess which Hitler caused, and the Germans would be very much worse off if we were not there. We are, of course, fully conscious of the need for publicity to make quite sure that our point of view is fully presented to the German people. Instead of indulging in mutual recriminations and accusations against our administration, the German political parties and indeed our own friends at home here, would be well advised to reflect on the present situation of Germany in its European setting and on how all this has been brought about. Only in that way shall we arrive at a useful understanding, and only in that 1519 way will they be able to use their utmost energies to retrieve the past crimes and errors of the Nazis, and help Germany to a new place in the society of nations.
I now turn to France. When I was in Paris, I was able to see for myself some of the tremendous work of reconstruction to which the French people have put their hands. Nobody who goes to France can fail to be impressed by the courage and resourcefulness with which the French have set about repairing the ravages of war. It is our policy to help them in every way we can, not only because they deserve our help, but because it is in our interest, and in the interest of all Europe, that France should be strong and prosperous. I am glad to say that the volume of trade between this country and France is continually growing, but because of production and exchange difficulties, it is unfortunately by no means as large as it ought to be. M. Bidault and I discussed all this in Paris, and we thought it would be useful to set up a joint committee of officials to meet at regular intervals in order to examine, and if possible overcome, any particularly difficult obstruction to the development of Anglo-French trade. That committee had a successful first meeting in Paris at the end of last month, and its next meeting is to be held in London in a day or two. The work, of course, is not intended to supplant the work of the individual officials on each side, who are in continual consultation with one another on day to day matters. The establishment of an Anglo-French committee of this kind must also not be taken as meaning that we are less interested in developing our trade relations with other countries, and particularly with our immediate neighbours. On the contrary, the more trade, the more prosperity there will be for all of us.
The corollary of freer trade is freer travel. No argument is required to demonstrate the futility of imposing unnecessary restrictions on the movement of private individuals from one country to another. Unfortunately, we have hitherto had to exclude ordinary tourists from this country because of shortages of food and lack of accommodation. Now that conditions are improving, however, there is no longer any need to do this. I told M. Bidault in Paris that we should like to negotiate an agreement with the French 1520 Government providing for the mutual abolition of visas and for the removal of handicaps to the tourist traffic. M. Bidault accepted the offer on behalf of the French Government, and negotiations are now commencing. We shall shortly be making similar offers to a number of other countries and, assuming that the offers are accepted, negotiations will be entered into and completed as soon as possible.
Before I sit down I would like to say just one word about another part of the world, and that is South America. I am happy to say that the agreements arrived at, and the negotiations that have taken place, both with Brazil and with the Argentine, and are now going on with other countries in South America, are not only bringing back our trade and our good will, but are also establishing very friendly relations with those countries.
Time does not permit me to deal with the United Nations, which will be dealt with by the Prime Minister tomorrow. I have no doubt that the House at this moment thinks that I have been talking long enough. We hear a lot of suggestions being made about this subject, but I would rather have it dealt with fully tomorrow. However, I would like to say that formerly it has been said that the role of the United States was to play the part of an intermediary between Britain and Russia. Now I see, in some of the Press, it is suggested that we should play the part of intermediary between the United States and Russia. Our r61e is not to be an intermediary at all. We have our own contribution to make to world peace, and they have theirs. We place our proposals on the table, and we ask for a discussion of them on their merits. We are not ganging up with anybody, neither with one side nor the other. Our approach to peace is not on that footing. When we suggest something, it is neither dignified nor proper to use the suggestion to argue, that we are making attacks either on one or another of our Allies. We cannot evolve world peace unless we have made our views clear by discussion, and have seen what emerges. This should always be done without prejudice or accusations of ulterior motives. Unless this procedure is maintained at the Council of Foreign Ministers and at the United Nations, we shall never get the common understanding which is essential to build world peace. As far as 1521 I am concerned, I shall continue to art on this principle.
The peoples of the world want, above all, to be allowed to get on with the work of reconstruction, which is so necessary everywhere after the ravages of war. I would ask the House however to appreciate the conditions under which the peacemakers are working. Hanging over them are the terrific inventions of science —atomic energy, bacteriological warfare, rockets, and all the other devilish devices for the destruction of human life, and with them the suspicion and fear that they create, which pervades the conference room. The peacemakers are haunted by a subconsciousness of the dangers of a recrudescence of Nazism and Fascism arising from economic disorders. I am conscious that there is only one effective antidote to it all, and that is to be found in policy—a policy which will establish confidence. settle these outstanding political and territorial difficulties between nations, introduce new relations, and make the necessity for the use of all these devices so remote that the whole world can begin to think and act in an atmosphere of peace and confidence.
Therefore, upon the great Powers, in particular, and upon the small Powers as well, rests at this moment a terrific responsibility. In this, I can assure the House and the country, Great Britain will do her best to plant the feet of the people firmly on the road to peace, with all the opportunities that follow from such a policy. Great Britain, after all, has a great past. She set the example in the Commonwealth of Nations, where unison and liberty have been able to march together hand in hand, the bonds being strengthened more and more as liberty has been increased. She is entitled to expect that this great experiment should be examined by the rest of the world. Her sacrifice in two great wars for freedom, and her ability to practise it in war and peace, entitle her to a proper place and adequate consideration of her views in the councils of the nations. She cannot and will not be dismissed. Her moral example, her steadiness and, if I may say so, the economic stability she is now showing after the terrible devastation of war from which she has suffered, place her in a position to render great assistance in the resettlement of the world. We shall stand firm in our purpose; I am sure that 1522 the world recognises the work work are doing, and that, in spite of our difficulties, our prestige and moral leadership are bearing fruit.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
I feel sure that the House will have welcomed the calm and massive survey of the right hon. Gentleman. We have, during these difficult times, admired his patience and his clear speaking, and today we have admired in his speech the moral purposes which should always be and have always been at the basis of British foreign policy at its best. I do not suppose that the right hon. Gentleman is accustomed to such politeness, but I can assure him that it is not my intention to carry on in the atmosphere of the conference which he has left. He does not believe, as he has indicated, in answering back, but he must not think that I am forgoing altogether the right to make one or two observations from this side of the Table; I will endeavour to make them in a constructive spirit. I think it should be stated at the outset that with the large majority of his remarks we are in agreement and in support on this side of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the methods of the Paris Conference. I think it is true and clear to us all that there are severe limitations to the value of open diplomacy. Negotiation in front of a microphone is not the type of negotiation which the right hon. Gentleman has himself adopted in his long career and negotiating past. I doubt whether he would be here had he adopted such methods, nor would he have been a leader of the Labour movement. While the value which publicity achieves in bringing home realities to the people of the world may be remembered, it is to be hoped that in the forthcoming discussions there will be at least some reversion to the traditional method of diplomacy which has stood us in such good stead in the past, and which, I do not doubt, the right hon. Gentleman has attempted to exercise in the limitations afforded him at the conference. One constructive suggestion I should like to make which arises from his speech, is that, while I can understand his desire not to answer back, I think there is occasion for some positive statement of our own British attitude in foreign policy, if not on this occasion, which has been the occasion for a great 1523 review, at any rate on some future occasion.
The right hon. Gentleman has relied on the empirical method and on morality for his basis, and he has exhibited great patience, but I think that there is need for a fundamental reassessment of British policy in the light of resources available to us, to enable us to honour our undertakings in every part of the world—in the light of the strength of the British Commonwealth, in the light of our world commitments and in the light of the friendships which we are continually making, and which we should consolidate. Allied with this there should be a further initiative, further than that mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and that is the approach to ideals such as those which have been mentioned in such stirring language by Field-Marshal Smuts and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). We should aim not only at the federalisation of Germany, but towards an ultimate federal system for Europe as a whole. I hope to show that we should approach these ideals firstly by economic steps, since economics appear today to be the key to these conferences, and the key to this peacemaking period, in exactly the same way as self-determination was the cry at the end of World War No.1—in 1815 the call was for the Balance of Power.
I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his statement on the subject of Germany. I shall be having something to say on that a little later. Let me follow the right hon. Gentleman's example, and make what diplomatists describe as a tour d'horizon. I will try to make it as short as possible to assist Members to take notice of what I have to say, and in view of the obvious need to compress one's remarks in the remainder of the time available. I wish to say at the outset with what pleasure I heard the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the Far East. To us this is an important part of the world, about which far too little reference has been made in this House. It would appear that the machinery for governing affairs in the Far East is somewhat as follows. There is a Commission in Washington, an Allied Council in Tokio, and a British representative with the rank of Ambassador. I should like to ask whether the Government are satisfied that this set-up does justice to the obvious need 1524 for Britain to represent her interests in Japan, and to exert her influence in the present formative period in the Far East. We are represented on the Allied Council by an Australian representative, and I realise the value of the work of Australia and New Zealand. We should like to pay tribute to the excellent work done by General MacArthur and by Americans in Japan.
I should like to ask the Government whether they do not think that a little more contact of British officers in the day-to-day work of administration would be valuable, and whether it would not be advisable, for example, for the British Council to exert itself in Japan to a far greater extent than hitherto, particularly in the realm of education. Are we, in short, sufficiently closely associated with the administration of a country with which we have had so much to do in the past, and with which we are likely to have so much to do in the future? In regard to Korea, I understand that the economic situation there is extremely bad, and I trust that we may have further information from the Government as to the advisability of proceeding with the arrangements originally suggested at Moscow.
One last word about British troops. We receive very unsatisfactory accounts of the position of the Commonwealth garrison in Japan. I understand that they are situated in Kiushiu with comparative lack of proper facilities, and inadequate opportunities of making contact with the country. Would it not be possible for the area which is under the control of the Commonwealth garrison to be enlarged, so that they might at least contain a wider area with which contact could be made? The right hon. Gentleman referred to the gains acquired by other nations, particularly to Russia, and to the short period during which Russia was engaged in Far Eastern hostilities. It has to be remembered that we fought for over four years. Some of the most bloody battles in Burma, and other parts of the world, were fought by our most gallant units and divisions. We do not require anything from Japan. We are not asking for half an island, or fishing rights, or anything else. All we are asking is that when our troops are sent there their conditions should be of the best, and that they should have the most interesting life possible. I trust that these men will not be forgotten, that Japan will not be, for 1525 them, the land of the setting sun, and that they will be remembered by their own Government at home.
Running shortly over some other parts of the world, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, let me say that we entirely support him in the case of the discussions about the future of the Montreux Convention. We support his view that the sovereignty of Turkey should be maintained, and that the interests of interested Powers should be safeguarded. We agree that the international aspects of this waterway should be maintained by means of international discussion. As regards the Italian Treaty, I know that the Foreign Secretary said in Paris that he did not consider that it was harsh. But, studying the machinery and the processes of the Paris Conference, it would appear that in the case of certain countries parts of their future were farmed out to different commissions and committees to consider, and that when the whole was brought together on the operating table the country looked less happy than it was before the operation was undertaken. There was, in fact, according to my information, some lack of coordination, and while parts of the Italian Treaty may not have appeared to be severe when negotiated, the total does wear a rather harsh aspect. Therefore, I hope that when these matters are discussed by the Council, and the right hon. Gentleman has his say, this treaty will be made no more severe, because I think that the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues have gone far enough already.
With regard to Trieste, I would like to ask what happens as a result of Yugoslavia's decision to withdraw, which, I trust, will be reversed. The right hon. Gentleman said that it would be for the Security Council to decide when the troops to which he referred were to be withdrawn and that foreign troops would be allowed to enter the territory only by decision of the Security Council. I would like to ask the Government to reaffirm that statement, and to say that there is no intention of withdrawing British and American troops before the final settlement, in view of the recent decision of the Yugoslav Government. I sympathise with the Foreign Secretary in his desire to see a Hanseatic port in Trieste, but it has to be remembered that circumstances leading to a satisfactory Hanseatic port are 1526 not necessarily entirely present in the case of Trieste. To what extent, for example, are the lines of communication controlled by Powers which do not appear to be entirely friendly to the idea of a settlement of an international character? I think there is great danger that Trieste may be another Danzig, and I sincerely hope that the Foreign Secretary, in aiming at his ideal of a Hanseatic town and port, will not depart from his first instinct, that unless this matter is finally and properly settled by himself and his colleagues, at a later date there is danger that we shall get back to the position of Danzig.
In the case of the Tyrol, we welcome warmly the agreement made between the two countries. We think that it is a vindication of the interest taken by the House of Commons in the matter. I do not say that it would be right, even for a loyal Member of this House, to attribute too much credit to the House, but I do say that the House of Commons showed particular interest in this question, and that the right hon. Gentleman himself took particular trouble over it. As a result, the two nations concerned have got together, and have produced one of the brightest features of the whole Paris Conference. I hope that autonomy in cultural and other matters will be real, just as one hopes that the physical arrangements about water supplies, and other necessities, will be satisfactory to Italy. It was on the sentimental, as well as on the practical side, that we desired to put this matter forward from this side of the House, and we are gratified that the arrangement has been made.
As for Greece, I always think it wiser not to say too much, particularly as the right hon. Gentleman asked us not to expand the area of politics. Therefore, I will only say that we are extremely gratified that Greece is to have the Dodecanese Islands and that we consider they should have, from Albania, the Epirus. We think that this may be difficult to achieve. In view of the intolerable Bulgarian menace to her northern border, and the fact that she has been invaded three times in 50 years by Bulgaria, the terms suggested in the Treaty for Bulgaria are extremely unjust. We trust that the right hon. Gentleman will press the claims of Greece still further, and will attempt to gain for that "gallant Ally of the Commonwealth," as he 1527 called her, even better conditions in the final discussions with his colleagues. I was glad to find that reference was made to Austria. We know that the Foreign Secretary has a particularly soft spot in his heart for Austria, as I think many of us have. I would like to ask to what extent it will be possible, through the medium of expanding trade between Briatin and Austria, to help Austria with some of those sinews of economic assistance of which she stands so much in need.
Taking the Conference as a whole, it would appear that the one common denominator between the nations which gives some ground for hope of reaching an ultimate understanding is the economic method. This would seem to be the best line of approach, and it lay below the whole of the Foreign Secretary's observation about the need for raising the social and other standards of other countries. It would seem to be a more hopeful line of approach than stirring up what I saw described in the ''Manchester Guardian'' some time ago, as the "potent mythology of national sovereignty." I did not have the joy of listening to all the speeches from the Soviet side, but on reading them I found that nowhere is the Russian language less propagandist and less political than when the Russian leaders describe the sufferings of their own country in war, and the need for economic reconstruction. One has to peer beneath the surface and discover what are the genuine causes of trouble, and from this examination one may be able to do something to help. Four million workers in Russia have been deprived of the factories they need to give them their daily bread. I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman will pursue this economic method.
On this side of the picture, it is extremely disturbing to find—as has been found before in recent international negotiations—that there is no common language between those who are discussing those matters. Not only is there a Babel of tongues, but there is a completely different dictionary as to the meanings of such words as ''democracy" and "economic enslavement." This is particularly true in the case of Rumania and the Danube. We have Mr. Molotov's extraordinary doctrine that if the big countries of the West trade with the 1528 smaller countries, the smaller countries are destroyed. Does this doctrine apply to Russia and her neighbours? When we, or America, attempt to enlarge the areas of international trade, it is described as "economic enslavement," and when Russia enlarges the limit of her own economic autarchy then an area of freedom and democracy is obtained. This is a really serious question which we have to face. I noticed that on the Danube question there was probably more going back into history and the more using of dates than in any other matter. I want to go back to what the Empress Elizabeth of Russia said in 1817:This abyss of iniquities which we call politics is vainly covered with a tissue of brilliant phrases. It is easy for anyone of the least intelligence and whose heart is in the right place to see through this tissue and recognise that in spite of evangelical treaties, and in spite of reign of justice it is always the weaker who are sacrificed to interests of the more powerful.Bearing that in mind, let us examine the position of those countries where elections are to be held. We should like to support the view of the right hon. Gentleman that it would be very satisfactory if international observers were introduced to watch the elections in the Balkan States. We particularly support his language about the elections in Poland, and we hope for results in the elections in Rumania and Bulgaria, although we recognise the severe difficulties with which we are faced.
I want now to come to the main question with which the right hon. Gentleman dealt in a most constructive spirit—the position of Germany. The right hon. Gentleman read out some definite principles upon which he is working. First, that political conditions should be established which will secure the world against any German reversion to dictatorship, or any revival of German aggressive policy. He said, later in his speech, that industry should be worked by the Germans, but subject to such international control that they cannot again bring a threat to their neighbours. Let us examine this first principle in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman said on the subject of the Rhineland, the Ruhr, and the Saar, because he deliberately, and, I think, very frankly stated the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the French claims in those directions. It is now clear that the future of the Saar is to be decided 1529 in the sense which the French so urgently desire. It is also clear that in the future geographical set-up of Germany, which I think on the whole we should desire to welcome, judging from what we have just heard, on this side of the House, that the Rhineland and the Ruhr are to be included in the general bounds of what will amount to a federalised Germany. We have also to remember in the right hon. Gentleman's speech his reference to the need for concentrating all the coal produced in our zone for the purposes of recreating the industries and economics of that zone. What I am interested in, and what, I am sure, the French nation will be interested in, is what international machinery is proposed to ensure permanently that the product in these areas, that is the Rhineland and the Ruhr, are allocated in the interests of the nations particularly interested, both large and small, particularly France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.
It is true that the right hon. Gentleman made reference to the need for the military occupation of those areas for some time ahead. I do not believe that will be sufficient to allay anxieties, either on this side of the House or in the minds of the French, as I think that it is vital to have the cooperation of the French in this plan, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman desires that above everything else. I trust that he will describe a little further the international machinery, which did not appear to be very clearly outlined in his speech, no doubt owing to the lack of time.
Proceeding from that general statement, I want to say a word or two about France before I come to consider the right hon. Gentleman's remarks on the future of the British zone. I was very glad to welcome what has been said on the subject of further conversations with France, but I am bound to say that they are, at the present moment, on a comparatively minute plane. What he said about developing trade is very important, but I feel certain that we want, just as we want all the nations of Western Europe—the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Belgium—to integrate ourselves much more closely, starting, if you like, on the economic level and proceeding further with that afterwards, with those countries, including France. Every time we have spoken on this side of the House—and the 1530 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), whose absence we regret today, is particularly anxious that this point should always be made—we have recommended such development, and it is a disappointment to see that the right hon. Gentleman, while outlining his views for the future of Germany, has not been able to take his argument a little further on this occasion than he has done hitherto
I now come to my observations about the British zone. Here we have the second of the principles laid down by the Foreign Secretary: the economic conditions which will enable the Germans and the world outside Germany to benefit from the use of German industries and resources. The right hon. Gentleman asked us not to indulge in sloppy sentiment. It is not sloppy sentiment which actuates criticism of the administration of the British zone from all parts of the House, but it is genuine anxiety, particularly during the last month or two when there has been a spate of criticism, and when the most formidable and machine-like of all brains, Lord Beveridge, has applied itself to the subject. My namesake, Mr. Harold Butler, who has unique knowledge of the international labour conditions, has also weighed in. Our most valuable ally on this matter is the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. At a bankers' dinner in the City on 16th October, he said that he thought that the £80 million or more which he forecast, and which the English or British taxpayer has to bear, is a burden which every taxpayer might resent. I have noticed that the first criticism of British administration in Germany came from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As we are told that our Front Bench needs a great deal of fortification, I trust that the right hon. Gentleman may continue to help us in this matter from that side of the House. It is quite clear that if the calories are to be raised to 1,500 in the British and American zones—a great deal less than the right hon. Gentleman was able to get on the occasion of that happy dinner—the cost, according to my information, would be something in the nature of £84 million, shared between the Americans and the British. I should be grateful to have the correct figure, if that is not correct. Therefore, the truth is that the British taxpayer is faced not only with the 1531 burden of £84 million, but with considerably more coming in.
What is needed in the British zone? An infusion of lifeblood, that is, coal and steel, into a moribund industry. We on this side of the House maintain that that infusion has been far too long delayed and could well have been undertaken earlier, at the end of last year, when such questions as reparations and demilitarisation were the aspects of the problem which were being too much stressed. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned steel production at 7½ million tons, and said that that was considerably less than the previous estimate made; but do hon. Members realise that we are producing steel at a level far below the German level of industry plan? The figures I have indicate that we are producing steel at 3 million or 4 million tons a year, as against 13½ million tons in the period before the war, with plants capable only of producing 2 million tons destroyed. In the case of coal, where only 10 per cent. of potential plants for production have been destroyed, we are producing only between 50 million and 60 million tons a year, as against the 138 million tons produced in the zone before the war. There is little wonder that "The Times" describes the position as involving "a phalanx of encroaching ills." In fact, Nazism has been destroyed as a force, but the economic chaos, oppression and sense of inferiority which have been created in the wake of the Nazi wreckage may be, perhaps, the greatest menace to the future of world peace of any that we have been discussing today.
Why is it, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said, at the end of September, that he viewed the future with confidence and even with equanimity? Since then, there have been the closing of five steel plants, with consequent unemployment, the curtailment of the electricity supply, and many other troubles. I really think that the right hon. Gentleman was not absolutely on the target when he referred to sloppy sentiment. We claim that further steps are necessary by the Government to enforce the new policy which the right hon. Gentleman outlined today. What seems most necessary, if that new policy is to be a success, is a revision of the control of the "control" plan. We maintain that it is impossible for the Minister, whose personal credentials I have no wish to 1532 question, with his hindquarters in Hamburg and fore paws in different buildings in London, to control this vast administrative experiment which would challenge the genius of perhaps the greatest administrators which the British race has ever produced. We consider that there should be some big administrative figure in Germany itself. We consider it would be in the interests even of the Foreign Office if some of the crossed wires were uncrossed and some of the administration made clearer as between representatives of the Foreign Office and the Duchy of Lancaster. Then it would be possible to appoint a Minister or Ministers to represent this important matter in the House.
The last point concerning this matter on which I wish to touch is somewhat more controversial from our point of view. It is the decision of the right hon. Gentleman to vest German industries in public control and temporarily in the Commander-in-Chief, a new form of nationalisation of which we have hitherto had no experience I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman's language about the gentlemen who have operated these industries during the period of the war, but I trust that in the final arrangement for German industry the German people will be able to decide what they want to do with their own industries in their own way, and I hope also that the right hon. Gentleman will remember that there should be some, liaison or understanding as to the treatment of industries in the contiguous zone with which we are now linked up, namely, the American zone. There have been elections in Germany which have had what may be described as moderate and successful results, and it is essential now that those who have come to the top, and who will in the later wider county and provincial elections some to the top, should be able to decide their own future in their own way, subject to a general plan laid down from here, and if the right hon. Gentleman's great statement today on the future of Germany is to be implemented, it is essential that it should be done by a form of machinery which is satisfactory to him and gives confidence to the country as a whole
In conclusion, I said it was necessary to assert and fortify the strength and resources of Britain and greater Britain, and to state and reassess British policy as a whole. Nothing clearer arises from this 1533 Conference than that we are in a period of hard bargaining. Every sign of increasing strength is noted, every indication of weakness is at once exploited. It is doubtless the case that our Imperial relations are as happy, cordial and sound as they ever have been, but there are few-public indications that the British family, especially in defence and economic matters, are spreading their responsibilities and their risks, whether by the grouping of industries in this or that area, or by arrangements for decentralising defence. It would fortify the right hon. Gentleman's hands immensely if, both here and in the Colonial sphere, where, as a result of closer liaisons in Europe, we could no doubt create a closer nexus of our Colonial system in the world, it were possible to indicate the continuing and abiding strength of the British Commonwealth and all its friends. In future, those who believe in common ideals must work as one whole team together. Our family group gives us an interest in the affairs of the whole world. The right hon. Gentleman has plenty of scope for his activities. We may sympathise with him that he is always in conference. We do not desire him, like Canning, to lose patience and to "quit the Areopagus," but we do desire Britain to be ever wakeful, ever active and ever strong, enlarging the circle of her friends and preserving those standards and ideals for which we have so often fought and so often won.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (Plaistow)
I wish to ask the House for its customary indulgence towards one who has the privilege of addressing this ancient Assembly for the first time. In my case this request is no traditional formality. Absence—I am glad to say absence with leave—in Germany has prevented me from acquiring what our American friends might describe as the "know-how" of this distinguished Assembly. It is because I have spent most of the last year in Germany, and because I think that Germany is the very nerve centre of our international relations, that I ask leave to speak about Germany and will resist the temptation to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) on his tour d'horizon.
Since I returned to England, I have been struck by the fact that many of my fellow countrymen, in characteristic 1534 British fashion, follow the practice which is almost universal in Germany of putting all the blame for Germany's present misery upon the occupation authorities, and especially upon the British occupation authorities. It is astonishing how many of our fellow countrymen in England and how many Germans deliberately shut their eyes to the fact that Germany's misery is largely of her own making, and I should like to underline the warning that my right hon. Friend has given about the danger of sentimentality in this matter. We are accused in Germany of wanting to annihilate the German people and of depriving them of food because that is our intention. But Germany is short of food, as we are short of food, because her armies ravaged Europe from Calais to Stalingrad, and because they laid waste the farms of people whose only wish was to live in peace. Then again, with regard to the housing problem in Germany, there is a suggestion, which I regret to say I have even heard hinted at in this House, that Germany's housing difficulties are due to brutal requisitioning by our military government authorities. Germany's housing problem is caused by the fact that she initiated the technique of bombing from the air, a technique which she started at Guernica, perfected at Rotterdam and Warsaw, and then extended to our own country. It is unfortunate that it was necessary for the Allied nations to learn that technique, to better it, and to wreak upon Germany the destruction which she initiated upon other countries.
I think it is necessary in these times that these things should be said and, if I may say so, said by a Socialist so that they may be heard by German Socialists. I have in recent times addressed a gathering of German Social Democrats at Nuremberg. I addressed them upon the domestic legislation of His Majesty's Government so that I should not enter upon matters which, in German eyes, might seem controversial. But all the questions put to me—and the audience were astonished at the privilege of being able to ask questions—were those which a Nazi might have asked. They were German nationalist questions. I think that in these difficult times the German people should be reminded of their responsibilities in this matter. I am not suggesting that we should adopt any lack of humanity in our attitude towards the 1535 German people; we need to exercise the utmost sympathy in our dealings with them. I also discern a certain amount of sentimentality in our own country in the shape of the belief that Nazism is dead. My experiences in Germany lead me to the unhappy conclusion that that is not true. During the last stages of the Nuremberg trial I received a letter, postmarked in Berlin, and written in German by an anonymous writer, which said:We will answer your pleas for humanity by building bigger and better gas chambers next time.I am not suggesting for a moment that that reflects the prevalent mood of the German people, but it is imperative that we should realise that there are sinister elements in Germany exploiting the misery they created in the hope of rebuilding once more a Nazi movement in Germany. The answer to that sort of political activity is, first, eternal vigilance by our own security authorities, and secondly, and perhaps more important, to encourage the German people to adopt a dynamic political creed and give them a real pointer towards the future. The speech of my right hon. Friend today has done a great deal to point the way to the German people because he has enunciated without qualification that the intention of British administration in Germany is to promote democratic socialism. That needed to be said in the clear terms in which it has been said today, and the misfortune, perhaps, is that it was not said sooner.
What we must do now, that clear statement of policy having been enunciated, is to give tangible proof to the Germans that that is, in fact, our policy. I think that it will have a considerable effect, particularly in the sphere of coal production which is of great importance to Germany as it is, of course, to us. At the present time the German miner does not quite know for whom he is working; he has a vague conception that he is the slave of international finance. My right hon. Friend's statement should at least disabuse him about that. The right hon. Gentleman has said that it is imperative that the German people should be given an opportunity of pronouncing a verdict upon this issue of nationalisation. My experience of Germany leads me to believe that they will give the same verdict as the British people have given. There 1536 is, in fact, hardly any controversy in Germany upon the necessity of public ownership of her industry. It is not surprising that that should be so when one remembers the record of those who ran industry in Germany before the war. They pressed a revolver into Hitler's eager hands, and they put millions of money into his pockets. They also created a special fund to finance Himmler, and every year the directors of banks and industries were supplying Himmler with funds. These facts are notorious to the German people, and they do not want to experience the same thing again. Private ownership of industry resulted, in a time of crisis, in the introduction of a political system of Fascism and Nazism which deprived the German working class of its liberties and led to the menaces of war and the general enslavement of those territories which the German armed forces overran. I am confident, therefore, that the statement of my right hon. Friend will give great strength and support to our real friends in Germany at the present time.
But I feel that, important and significant as the declaration of aim is, it must be accompanied by positive encouragement to German working class organisations. I discern in Germany a certain diffidence about the development of the trade union movement—a certain anxiety about the development of works councils and vital organisations of that kind which are necessary to give life to the new economic and political set up of Germany. Whatever may remain of German industry and finance must be freed from those who played a vital role in collaborating with Nazism. It is not without significance that Germany's military leaders and her political leaders are being automatically eliminated from positions of responsibility. I have heard, however, a certain criticism in Germany that there is not a sufficient parallel elimination of the leaders of German finance and German industry itself. I think it is not satisfactory that more than a year of military government in Germany has elapsed without an agreed policy being announced as to the fate of the industrialists and financiers. I believe I am right in saying that, with the exception of Krupp, not a single industrialist leader in Germany is at present under charges as a war criminal. It is imperative, in keeping with the statement of my right 1537 hon. Friend, that no cloak of immunity should surround Germany's Nazi economic leaders, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will have no desire whatever to shroud that cloak around them There has been a good deal of vigorous action in the British zone with regard to some of the steel company directors and some of the leaders of the coal syndicates. In spite of these sporadic actions, however, there is no provision for the ultimate disposal of those leaders. Urgent consideration should be given to this problem, so that we may have an end to the era of punishment, and may look forward to the era of reconstruction.
Whatever the economic difficulties of Germany, one thing must be clear. My right hon. Friend has made it clear. We must set our faces against reconstructing the German trusts, whatever the difficulties of finance may be and whatever inducements may come from other countries. We must resist that easy line of action at all costs. Who sups with the devil must use a long spoon. It is not possible to exaggerate the dangers of the future of the world if such a tendency were to be encouraged by His Majesty's Government. There are already dangers of a link-up between German industrialists and a Nazi underground movement. It is important that we should bear that fact in mind, in case there should be some tendency to be tolerant towards people like Krupp. I am not suggesting that any hon. Member of this House has shown such a tendency, and in any case it would be improper for me to do so in a maiden speech. There is evidence, however, of an important character as to this connection between German industry and the Nazi underground. A conference took place in Strasburg on 10th August, 1944, between representatives of German industry, in particular of Krupp's and leaders of the German Army, Foreign Office and Nazi Party. At that meeting, pledges were given by Krupp that representatives of that firm would cooperate in financing and developing a Nazi underground movement if Germany met with military defeat. This underground movement contemplated dissemination of political propaganda, building up economic strength and establishing small independent and secret plants in Germany for research and for the development of weapons. These men have courage, determination, and great ruthlessness. It is therefore very important 1538 that everything should be done by His Majesty's Government to support our security measures against these sinister developments. In the economic field we must set our faces against the re-emergence of fanatical Nazis of that calibre.
Finally, I would endorse my right hon. Friend's underlining of the vital necessity of unity among the United Nations in dealing with Germany. In the course of last year my right hon. Friend made a great speech in which he quoted with approval a dictum of the late Lord Beaconsfield, which was:Britain and France joined together are an insurance for peace; but Britain, France and Russia joined together is a security for peace.I would add that if to that trio were added the United States of America, we should have an absolute security for peace. It would indeed be a grim mockery of the sacrifices of the men of our own country, of Russia, America, France and elsewhere, if the present divisions between us in Germany and elsewhere were to enable the very evils we sought to destroy once more to bedevil the world.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)
It falls to me to congratulate the hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. Elwyn Jones) upon a belated but very able maiden speech. He obviously knows a great deal, at any rate on the seamier side, of the subject of his speech. He delivered himself with great force and conviction, and I have no doubt that the House will look forward to hearing him again. I too, wish to speak about Germany. If I do not altogether agree with the hon. Member's speech I hope he will not take it amiss.
I hope that this Debate will be centred, as much of it already has been, upon Germany, because Germany is the vital area where the battle for Western civilisation will be won or lost. It is the place where we can directly intervene and where we are directly responsible. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler), and with the principles enunciated by the Foreign Secretary, but there is a time factor in all these matters. There is no time to lose. There is a very great body of agreement that the present tendency of our policy is disastrous and that it may lead to a major catastrophe in a short time if it 1539 is pursued. There is agreement among Members on both sides of the House, among statesmen outside from Field-Marshal Smuts to Lord Beveridge. There is agreement in the Press, from the "National Review" to the "Tribune." They all agree that the policy is going wrong. The best summing up of this feeling was given in the "Observer" on Sunday. That paper was commenting upon the inevitable decline in prestige which the Social Democratic Party would suffer after its successes in the recent Election. The words used were:What other results could be expected from labelling as Democracy a state of affairs in which the relation of Government to people is that of a dictatorship of victors over vanquished, characterised by severe privations, some official corruption and much inefficiency, continual personal humiliation and an all pervading hopelessness?That is the tale which has been told to all visitors—Members or journalists who have been to Germany. It sums up the main factors of the situation in Germany which are causing moral and material ruin there. It is a country where alien rule is altering the whole social structure, social insurance, war pensions, local government, without any reference to the people; where production of consumption goods is one-fifth of what it was before the war, and producer goods only two-fifths; where the industrial machine is rapidly running down, even from those very low levels. It is a country where the greatest heresy hunt in history is now going on. I do not want to talk much about de-Nazification. I have done so before, but I would like to put this point. To be a town clerk in Germany under the Nazis you had to be a Nazi. I would like to ask any hon. Member of this House a question: If you were a town clerk in Nazi Germany and had a wife and three children, would you have chucked up that job, starved your wife and children and gone to the torture sooner than join the party? I am afraid that many people would not have had the courage to do it. I do not know whether I should have had the courage myself. Many people who now cry loudest for blood, do not strike me as being the stuff of which martyrs are made. Lastly, Germany is, above all, a country where hope is dead.
We must clear our minds on these matters. We must not give up that vital ground without a struggle of any sort 1540 whatever. We had some very sensible remarks from the Foreign Secretary, immensely more sensible than many remarks by people more directly concerned in the management of Germany. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said the other day that he had won the battle of the summer. He said he faced the winter with confidence and hope but with no equanimity. I can see the reasons for his loss of equanimity, but not for his confidence and hope. The other day we had the Chancellor of the Exchequer whining about the money it was costing him. It is the policy of his Government which is causing it. He generally accepts all expenditure with a song in his heart. When it is a case of keeping the Germans alive, that highly musical organ emits only a dull wheeze.
I very well understand the difficulties. They are grave. There are two main difficulties which have bedevilled everything we have done. The first is that we have naturally felt that it was right to appease Russia and keep in with Russia, by every possible means. Secondly, there was the also very natural and proper fear of building up Germany again into a mighty aggressor. On the first point. I sympathise with the idea that everything must be done that can be done to improve our relations with Russia, but, again, there is a time limit here. We are playing with the lives and happiness of millions of people. If in the so far very unsuccessful hops of appeasing Russia we are going to cause ruin and disaster to Germany, we are doing something which is wrong. On the second point, I fully confirm and agree with what the hon. Member for Plaistow has said. I do not expect a change of heart in Germany. It was always improbable, and, I think, owing to the way we are acting it is now impossible. After all, there is nothing new about their attitude. Aristotle said:In all nations which are able to gratify their ambition, military power is held in esteem.That may sound a sad and cynical remark, but if we look round the nations which are able to gratify their ambition today, it is difficulty to say it is untrue.
The point is that there is no difficulty whatever in coercing Germany provided we have the moral and political conviction that it is right to do so. The time when it may be necessary to coerce Germany is not now but 20, 30 or 40 years 1541 hence. What are we going to feel about it then? I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to remember what they said about the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles was a just treaty, and compared with what we are doing now, it was, I suppose, the justest thing ever done, but steady propaganda was made against that Treaty from the word "go." The hearts of hon. Gentlemen opposite bled for Eupen, for Malmedy, for the Corridor, for Silesia, and our hands were weakened in enforcing the military clauses of that treaty for this reason. Indeed, when the Germans marched into the Rhineland in 1936 it was positively welcomed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Further, this attitude continued during the war: the present Minister of Health said in 1944:Instead of regarding the Germans as uniquely different, let us regard the mass of them as victims equally with ourselves of the Nazi regime.I agree, but office seems to have dried up the springs of compassion in hon. Gentlemen opposite, because that is not the way they talk today. If we behave badly to the Germans, we shall have the same feelings of guilt as after Versailles. That will weaken our hands and if—and I have some difficulty in believing it—in 20 years time Germany rises again, the really dangerous thing will be if the people of this country feel that they have behaved unjustly, and feel guilty, and for that reason are unwilling or unable to exercise the coercion which would be necessary to stop the next war.
What can we do? First, we ought to go in wholeheartedly with America. The Foreign Secretary today backed up what Mr. Byrnes said the other day, and I hope he will do so with more than words. The first thing we must do is to build up their economic life again, to stop the destruction of the factories and to put capital in rather than to take it out. It will pay us in the end—to put it at the lowest level. The fact is that Rump Germany needs more machinery and factories—not less. It is a small country with 70 million people stuffed into it. The next thing we must do is press on with devolution. Every Minister who speaks says that we are going on quickly, and handing over to the Germans, but meanwhile our staff is growing all the time, and nothing much happens. The devolution should be both economic and political, and we should allow the Germans to shape their institu- 1542 tions and social system, provided they do nothing which is against the Atlantic Charter.
I come to my last point and I attribute great importance to it. There has been a great deal of talk today about sloppy sentimentality. My last point is a plea for mercy. There was a time when mercy was a virtue which people valued. That time now seems to have gone. I cannot help feeling that we have drunk up some pollution from the blood of the Nazis. People so often say that the Germans would have done worse. Of course they would—a thousand times worse. Cannibals eat missionaries, but that is no reason why missionaries should eat cannibals. How often do we hear statements made, particularly by the Lord President of the Council, starting, "We do not love the Germans." It is difficult to love one's enemies, but it would be much more hopeful if someone began by saying, "We are trying not to hate the Germans."
§ Mr. Birch
Magnanimity after victory has always been both the tradition and the glory of this country, and it is particularly the tradition of the Services. Nelson's last prayer before Trafalgar was:May the Great God whom I worship, grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general a great and glorious victory, and may no misconduct in anyone tarnish it, and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet.Our victory is nothing unless it is for the benefit of Europe. Misconduct will tarnish it, and humanity after victory is the mark of a great people.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
It you follow statistics, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you will have observed with some interest that this peacetime summer has been marked by the loss of more lives in the world as a direct consequence of British foreign policy than any peacetime summer that has gone before. If you followed even more closely, you would observe that in every field of external policy—India, the Mandated Territories, peacemaking, or the ruling of prostrate Germany—there is one single man who claims distinction and responsibility for all that has happened, and that is our present Foreign Secretary.
1543 What is happening? The Foreign Secretary said today that he stands absolutely firm. We understand that he has a policy. He applies it consistently and, indeed, ruthlessly. What is it? His policy is to seek out in every land where his writ runs that party which for certain will oppose the Soviet Union and Communists, and he backs that party to the hilt. He is not alone in that, of course. He has the support of hon. and right hon. Members on the other side of the House. He is supported in Wall Street and by a small part of Whitehall, and he is supported by Morgan and Dupont above all. The result is that in every land where this policy is being pursued we are faced now, or will be shortly, with major civil wars. Civil war is on in Greece, it is on in Spain, it is on in China. Every word we have heard today from the Foreign Secretary followed the familiar lines, a complete absence of any clear policy that will make toward world peace and break down the existing difficulties; the same veiled abuse of the Soviet Union running through it, and the same bald assertion that it is all done in the name of the people of the world.
It is worth remembering that in March of this year there were many people on this aide of the House who drew attention to the fact that if this policy continued, for example, in Greece, by autumn civil war would be open, and so it has turned out. We were told at that time that, right or wrong, the policy must go on because, if the policy were ended or diverted, this would be a triumph for the Soviet Union. That has been the basis on which we have drifted through all the calamities during the summer. Why do we have this violent unrest in every country where our or the American foreign policy is operating? It is very simple. In every one of the occupied countries in Europe or Asia the people made, because of the occupation, a great political advance. We have had it here without occupation and, as a consequence, to a lesser degree. One thing that the people of Europe and Asia learned was that the mark of a Fascist dictator is racial fanaticism and fear of the Soviet Union and Communism. I know of no reason whatever to suppose that our present Foreign Secretary is imbued with racial fanaticism; indeed I have heard 1544 him say that he is not. He is rather like Cecil Rhodes, above race. But when he seeks a party in any European country, which is worthy of his approval by reason of being steadfastly opposed to the Soviet Union, he is bound to pick upon one which is steeped in this most foul of all political doctrines. The people of Europe are prepared to fight, and fight now, to see that one of these parties is not re-established in any one of then countries, not even though the Foreign Secretary may desire it.
May I turn to Rumania, a country which has recently been the most abused and a country whose condition at the moment is most interesting? May I first refer to the pre-election situation? It fits in with what I have just said. Whom are we backing? Of course, the Opposition. The correspondent of "The Times" last week, in an interesting and rather confused article, said that the Opposition represent only the outworn past. I have had the privilege during this month, of meeting the leaders of all three of the Opposition groups, and not only the leaders but their main supporters, and the editors of their national papers. I also met some of the editors of their provincial papers. These gentlemen treated me with extraordinary frankness, frankness that did them great credit. There was no mistake on anybody's part, and no misunderstanding as to my position. Indeed, their newspapers made great play of it the moment I arrived in the country. The two outstanding leaders—Mr. Maniu, of the Peasant Party, and Mr. Bratianu, of the Liberal Party—both made it clear that they have no electoral programme. They said that quite frankly. They are there to oppose. All three of the groups, the dissident Socialists included, say that they are really in Rumania what the British Labour Party is here. Bearing in mind their absence of programme, and bearing in mind that each is opposed to the other, the claims seem a little inconsistent.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
The claim is obviously based on the fact that each one of them has support from the British Government indirectly. Mr. Bercovich, the editor of the Liberal paper, put it in these words: 1545 "Our policy is to complain, to complain against the Government day by day. You can rest assured that Mr. Maniu or Mr. Bratianu will probably have a letter to the British Minister each day." The routine is well worked out. A letter goes to the Prime Minister, Mr. Grosa, every day and a copy goes to the British Minister, who is a rather unwilling recipient. The system works quite well, except that on one occasion the original went to the British Minister and the copy was sent to Dr. Grosa.
These gentlemen complained in a formal manner to me of want of freedom to get on with their electoral preparations. However no such want of freedom could be observed. One met them as one met any other person, by ringing up, by going to call, by their coming to one's hotel, or meeting them in a café in public. They have their papers, national and provincial. They hold their meetings publicly and openly; indeed, they had a meeting in Bucharest when I was there. The National Peasant Party, meeting to discuss, I think, whether to put forward an election programme or not, went on for four hours 100 yards from where I was staying with not a Russian soldier or machine gun in sight. [Laughter.] I can assure hon. Gentlemen that the Opposition keep their machine guns carefully concealed.
There is one complaint which can be substantiated. They complained, and rightly, that in certain sections of the country they cannot hold their meetings in safety If that were the situation in this country, it might well be a ground for complaint against the Government or the people. But this is Rumania, and I ask hon. Members to remember what are the reasons for the bitterness and the hatred of the people in many neighbourhoods against the Opposition parties. In 1907, 11,000 peasants were shot down at one onset by artillery—that is the classical example of artillery against unarmed peasants—and a certain august personage complained that his artillery proved somewhat inefficient. I discussed this with the Bratianu's, both uncle and nephew, Mr. Dino and Mr. Bebe. Mr. Romniceanu, their Cabinet Minister, explained that it was impossible to blame this kind of thing on the Liberal Party of today, that their leader was not in the Government, he was not even in the country in 1907 when these peasants were shot down. This 1546 may sound strange but Mr. Bratianu senior is 82, and in 1907 had been connected with the Government for some years. Two of his brothers were in the Government responsible for this massacre, however. It was put in this way, "How can the people blame this on our Liberal Party of today, because both brothers are now dead and, therefore, are no longer members of the party?"
From that time on the use of troops against industrial workers has been almost common. The outstanding occasion was in 1933 when Dr. Maniu's party was in power. It was explained to me in Dr Maniu's presence, and he accepted the explanation, that the mistake of a stupid policeman led to the shooting down of 480 working men at Trevitza, the main railway works in Bucharest. That could not be put against Dr. Maniu because he was not in the Government, although he was President of the party, and the Home Secretary at the time was no longer in the party today. The Home Secretary of the time was Mr. Voivod and it is true that he is no longer active in the National Peasant Party. But his name has been kept in the public eye. He was used by American oil interests for the nominal purchase of their oil shares so that throughout the war they could go on collecting from the Germans the profits on the sale of Rumanian oil to Germany. This man is no longer associated with Dr. Maniu's party, as a result of which no one should dream of holding the incidents of 1933 against the Opposition But it has not finished yet. In 1945, on 18th February, in the Palace Square, six workmen were shot down by the army. Mr. Radescu was the Prime Minister. Immediately after the unfortunate affair a British aeroplane and pilot rescued Mr. Radescu, and he now adds one to the ranks of displaced persons. The Home Secretary, in February, 1945, was Mr. Penescu. I invite the House to remember what was said by the Minister of State on 9th October in describing to the House the incident alleged to have occurred at Pitesti. In this House my right hon. Friend expressed regret at the killing of a member of the National Peasant Party which had occurred at the village of Pitesti and gave the impression that possibly the Government and the police may have been implicated in the killing.
What are the facts? The report delivered to this House is of course the 1547 report of the Opposition. As far as I can find out it has never been checked by any reference to the Rumanian Government, to which our Minister is accredited. The gentleman who barely escaped with his life was this Mr. Penescu, the Home Secretary at the time of the killings in Palace Square, on 18th February, 1945. My impression from canvassing this matter in industrial areas in Rumania and in some of the villages, was that he is more hated than any of the Opposition, mainly because he was responsible for the most recent of these public killings. The names of Timisoara and Petroshan, where similar incidents took place, are the Peterloo Tolpuddle of Rumanian working class history. It is impossible to suppose that the Rumanian people can forget this history. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary can rest assured that it is perfectly true that if Liberal or National Peasant advocates were to go to industrial areas and press their propaganda for those parties they would be lucky to escape with their lives. This is not a reflection on the Rumanian people, but on Rumanian history. But these opposition parties are the people we are supporting. In doing so we place our foreign diplomatic representatives in an intolerable position. They are virtually forced into a position of having to intrigue against the very governments to whom they are accredited.
I observed last week in a Foreign Office release to the Press another typical story from the Rumanian Opposition. It was the story of the fraud of the election lists. Dr. Maniu told me himself that he had the actual written instructions from the Home Office to the local mayors telling them to publish one list at their town hall, then later to destroy it, and to use a separate and purged list for the elections. I was told the same story by our Minister, who had it direct from Dr. Maniu. I challenged Dr. Maniu and our Minister, that if this was a genuine story and not a hoax on the whole world, Dr. Maniu should produce the document. The Minister agreed with me that this was a legitimate check that could be applied and that he would ask Dr. Maniu whether it existed. Dr. Maniu was unable to produce it and said he did not know where it was. In the list on the town hall every name is there in order and duly numbered. It is incredible that such 1548 a paltry device could be adopted to interfere with such a list once it had been made public. For my part, I could find no evidence to support the story of the Opposition. What the Opposition really complain of is that election frauds are not being carried out in a gentlemanly fashion. The Liberal editor said:Of course, the peasants were marched to the polls by the gendarmerie in our day, but it was done in such a way that they would like it. In our day, although we had a written constitution, the practice was rather different. The Monarch appointed the leader, and the leader selected the Government, and the Government immediately went to a general election and on every occasion the people then confirmed the choice of the Monarchy.Changes of Government took place without any debate in Parliament and without any crisis. The Government fell merely because the Monarch decided, for reasons connected with foreign investors or foreign affairs, that it was time that he should change his Government. At one time there were three such changes in three successive years and at each the incoming Government gained an overwhelming majority against the Government just previously elected in a similar style. Let us turn to the propaganda of the Opposition. There is little of politics in it. It is wicked and cunning, and I regret to have to say it, blasphemous. I found examples of it which could be checked. The Rumanians are going through the second year of a most terrible drought—
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
If my hon. Friend will be patient a moment he will see. The Opposition agents are going round the villages, where they are not so bitterly hated as to be unable to do so, and saying to the peasant people, "You know that last time there was a Godless Government on earth there was a period of drought. Then there were seven years of drought. That proves to you that this is a Godless Government. What will you feel like after three, four or seven years of drought?" That is a wickedness which I call blasphemy. If my hon. Friend has another name for it, no doubt he will think of it before he makes his speech.
The present Government will win the election on their own solid achievements. The Rumanian Government have carried through a policy of land reform which, if 1549 we only observed it, we might think of applying in some areas under our domination. They have introduced religious and racial tolerance in a country which is more of a hotch-potch of varied races than any other in Europe. They have allowed the workers for the first time to organise freely and to play a part in the control of industry and the government of their country.
May I turn to the question of reparations? I noticed that in the Paris Conference a new basis has been adopted in regard to reparations. I had not heard before of victors demanding reparations in respect of their own property damaged by themselves in the vanquished country. That is what we are now demanding from Rumania. I did not know that Rumanians ever invaded Great Britain, or bombed London or New York, and I have never heard a report of a single Rumanian fighting on the Western Front. Yet we are demanding from the Rumanians the same type of reparations as are the Soviet Union. The destruction of our oil refineries at Ploesti was trifling as compared with the destruction caused by the Rumanians when fighting as satellites against the Soviet Union. But who destroyed the refineries of Ploesti? The British and the American bombers. What we did not do, the Germans finished for us. We are further demanding reparations for damage done to our refineries when the Rumanians were fighting as our Allies. On what grounds can this position be defended? The Rumanians are presented with a further difficulty. They do not publish all their views because the terms of the armistice in 1944 require that they should not say anything offensive about the three great Powers who then became their Allies.
Their difficulty is that the bombing of Ploesti took place when the Russians were at the gates of Rumania. The first bombing was on 1st May, 1944, but on 12th April we had at Cairo settled the terms between the British, Soviet and American High Commands and representatives of the King, terms which were finally adopted, which led to the turning of Rumania against Germany. Our High Command knew perfectly well, as did the Soviet and American that the moment the order was given to the army by the King to turn against the Germans, the Russians would be in Ploesti, as indeed they were. 1550 The Germans had the benefit of Rumanian oil all the way to Stalingrad and back. It was only at the end that the bombing took place, and the Rumanians find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that its object was not so much to hamper the Germans as to deprive the Russians of the fruits of their victory. These small sums we are demanding are vital to Rumania. Her economy is in a condition in which it will be extremely difficult to bear the burden of the extra reparations we are demanding. They mean nothing to our Chancellor of the Exchequer.
There is one other new development in reparations in Rumania. The Soviet are taking substantial reparations, but before they do so they build industries which then provide the products which go to the Soviet Union. I know a shipyard newly equipped with the finest shipbuilding machinery of a character which the workers said they had never known before in the history of the yard. I have seen factory after factory restored, equipped with machinery and supplied with the raw materials, pouring out goods, a proportion of which go to the Soviet Union. This is a new attitude towards reparations, which, as soon as the reparations stop, will leave Rumania a wealthy country.
The Rumanian people want, above all, capital investment and assistance from America and Great Britain, but they will not allow it and they will not invite it on the terms on which we insisted on giving it to them previously. In the past, our capital investment has carried with it the Government and control of Rumania. The Rumanians are absolutely clear that that situation will never come about again. An interesting example has been set, because already the Soviet Union is investing capital in Rumania, but in every one of the Rumanian-Soviet corporations established, each country takes 50 per cent. of the capital holding. I have travelled by the Tars Transport airways service which has many bases in Rumania—it is a civil air service, hon. Member opposite will be glad to know. The whole of this airway is supplied by the Soviet Union—the aeroplanes, ground equipment of every kind, even the hangars. Only the labour, the air and the chimney pots are supplied by Rumania, but the capital holding of each Government is 50 per cent. That is the case in each one of the other industries 1551 which the Soviet Union is helping to reestablish. This is an example which, if we follow it, will open to us a fruitful field for investment, and will lead very quickly to the rehabilitation of what is, after all, the richest country for its size in the world. Liberal investment now in Rumania, where our technicians and industrial achievements are so well respected, will soon bring a rich reward in the raw material and food that we so badly need.
May I say one final word about the Danube? The Danube is not a new problem. The Danube was not created by the recent war, and the question of the Danube is not one that falls to be settled as part of the peacemaking. We are not dealing with Rumania as a conquered country from whom we have just won freedom of navigation. I know that there are hon. Members and right hon. Members who have just discovered the Sulina Arm and Bratislava and the Iron Gates. The European Commission and International Commission left a bad taste in the mouth of the riparian people. What has been said in this House today is the same as has been said by British and American representatives throughout the summer. We, the Americans and France, it is suggested, are demanding the right of freedom of navigation on the Danube, as though others were opposing it. Not a single word has come from the Soviet or any of the other riparian States to challenge this point of view. They too are insisting on freedom of navigation under conditions of equality for all flags. Why we should, as my right hon. Friend did today, try to pretend to the world that we are the ones championing freedom and other are opposing it, I cannot under-stand. What the riparian States, and Rumania above all, insist upon is that freedom of navigation must not be limited by the fact that States which have no riparian interests are controlling that freedom. I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend in connection with the Dardanelles espousing the claims of Turkish sovereignty. It will lift up the hearts of the riparian people to think that perhaps their sovereignty is to be respected as well.
I have heard a report today that the Sulina is in danger of silting up. Is not this a new story? From 1938 the 1552 Rumanians have been controlling the mouth of the Sulina and have been responsible for the technical work. It has not been suggested before that they have failed in this work, and I believe that quantities of shipping are passing up and down that river now. It may not be British shipping because so far we have found ourselves unable to take the steps that will lead to our giving credits and opening substantial trade with the Balkans. The test of whether there will be free trade in the Danube basin does not depend on whether there is an international non-riparian control. It depends on whether the countries are willing to trade with us and we with them. One thing is abundantly clear. If my right hon. Friend would use the vehemence that he uses in abusing the Rumanians in trying to get the Americans to hand over the 700 or 800 barges stolen from the Balkans there would be a better prospect of freedom of trade in the Danube and more credence might be given to the assertion that the present Foreign Secretary desires it. The most amusing suggestion that has come from the Paris Conference is that America claims an interest in the Danube as being a riparian State. I am not sure that the Swiss could not claim the same. After all, Sardinia itself was a party to the earliest European Commission of the Danube. But part of the Danube which is under American control in Germany does hold some water. It is enough to harbour the Balkan barges, but not enough to float them down to their rightful owners. The problems of Rumania can be solved, but more speedily and successfully and with less suffering to her people if the policy of our present Foreign Secretary is radically changed.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
My first impulse, while listening to the beginning of the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) was to rash to the assistance of the Government Front Bench, who are obviously suffering considerably on the basis of:Save, oh save me from the Candid Friend.But I have an idea that they themselves will be able to deal with the points he has raised. I could not quite follow the middle part of his speech. Was he recommending annual elections, which 1553 would automatically turn out the existing Government, and that the new Government should then proceed to machine-gun the previous Government that had become the Opposition, and every 25 years decimate what was left of the Liberal Party, for which they would have to be fairly good shots, even with a machine-gun?
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish entirely to misrepresent me, but he is describing precisely what happened in Rumania in the years leading up to the war.
§ Mr. Fletcher
in the latter part of his speech, the hon. Member was trying to encourage British and American capital to return to Rumania, which is very laudable but is hardly practical. If a country is to refuse to pay reparations of any sort on holdings of this country, if a state of society is presupposed there under which neither interest nor principle on any bonds or loans which are made will ever be met, the overwhelming temptation to America and this country to step in with financial assistance is slightly diminished.
I am almost afraid to deal with the question on which I wish to speak, an economic question which is concerned with Germany, because on the argument of the hon. Member for Finsbury, I do not think we are entitled to talk about Germany. After all, Germany is a very old country. We have known it in history for hundreds of years, and apparently if a country is sufficiently old, the fact that it was involved in the last war, does not entitle us to speak about it.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not think so—not as civilised countries. At all events, it is interesting to study these foreign Debates over a long period. If one looks back about 100 years, one will see that there has been a real change. There used to be foreign affairs Debates going on for three or four days or more, almost entirely about changes of frontiers and possession or non-possession of territories. The economic angle hardly ever entered into it. But there has been a very salutary change, and now much more of our time is devoted to economic questions It was, therefore, comforting to hear the pronouncement of 1554 the Foreign Secretary about the economic future of Germany. I have not had recent experience of going round Germany, either as a one man band or cheer leader—the role which some hon. Members adopt. But I started my education in business in the docks of Hamburg as a dock labourer drawing samples of the commodity in which I deal from the holds of ships. For two years, I lived every day cheek by jowl with the German labouring man.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That was in 1911 and 1912—I confess my age. I do not believe that the German character has altered very greatly since then. It is for that reason, and the fact that I have had a business in Germany all the time between the wars, and kept up connections with their country on a trade basis, that I would like to bring to the attention of the House a point which I think must have some importance if not in the immediate future, at any rate fairly soon. I believe that we are entering into a new phrase. The Allies, I think, have come to the conclusion and their policies are gradually crystallising, from whatever source they may come, into the view that we will not get political peace in Germany until we have undertaken the real rehabilitation. We may have to alter Potsdam; we may at the next meetings in New York produce a new form, but sooner or later, whatever is the motive—whether it is to save the £80 million a year which we are expending, or whether we believe that this is the best way to produce some form of stability in central Europe, and on that construct an era of peace—I think we are moving towards an era of building up Germany again. I rather deplore that, from one angle, it is being done on the export from this country of a prefabricated Socialism, a sort of Procrustean mental angle by which we are going to fit Germany, whether they like it or not, into a Socialist life.
It is quite clear that in a few years' time Germany will be on her feet again, and gloomy prognostications are, I think, ill founded. We have seen how very rapidly the economic scene can change in a country. In France, from about March onwards, one could almost hear a click like a thermostat in a refrigerator. Almost from one day to the other, the whole economic machine of France 1555 started to turn, and to build up again from a position which appeared hopeless, owing to lack of coal and to labour troubles. We have had an economic renaissance in France, even though the political situation has remained unstable in every way. I believe that in a reasonable distance of time, we shall see very much the same thing happening in Germany. The German is essentially a person who has been, in his time, ideal cannon fodder but he is also ideal factory fodder. Whether it is in nationalised industry, or privately owned industry, we are going to see in Germany an enormous economic recrudescence such as was seen after the 1914 war. Many of us believed that Germany made the great mistake, from her point of view by precipitating that war, and that she had only to continue as she was for two or three years, and her economic position in the world would have been a dominant one. People who can do what they did between the wars, with all the disadvantages under which they laboured, will certainly achieve something like the same result when they are given the opportunity again.
I am not against it. On the contrary, I believe that is the only policy that can be followed; but it must have certain results. I think it is most important that these results should be made clear and should be before us, because it is going to entail, in due course, certain difficulties and sacrifices from this country. If this country is asked to make these sacrifices, we should be willing. There is no doubt that the competition from German industry, working gradually up to a fall scale, will be felt enormously in the markets of the world. I do not say that is a harmful thing but, as we are working in this country under a Government who have as their main plank. an economy of full employment at good wages—with which nobody disagrees—we must nevertheless watch very carefully what the effect of the sort of Frankenstein monster which we are creating in Germany is going to be.
I had a very curious instance of this the other day in Bury, the working man's constituency which I represent. The head of an enterprising firm there—I do not want to give the name of the firm or say what they produce, because it would be wrong to advertise, though it might suit 1556 me—was asked by the Board of Trade to go to Germany, to get on its feet a parallel German industry. They have succeeded in doing that to a considerable extent. The cost of labour in Germany is so much lower than the cost in Lancashire, that the goods produced for export, in the same way as goods are being produced for export here, are available in Germany at a much lower price. What is to happen? The firm, very intelligently, go to their workpeople and trade union representative, and consult with them on how to handle this matter in an objective way. They have a proposition which I do not think is a particularly sound one. They suggest that the difference in price should be credited to a reparations account. A reparations account is a very vague thing. I think once the money got there, it would, never come out of the maw of the Treasury again, because, with his usual eel-like agility and assurance, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would make certain that that fund disappeared from view in a convenient fashion.
The only alternative is inflation, because if we raise artificially the level of wages in Germany before we can supply the goods and services which the people can purchase, we will create black markets and wrong sorts of demands. Those points are, no doubt, being watched by the Government but there will come a day when, in my view, we will not be able to control them. There is no doubt that Germany is on her feet again. It may be that in three or five years time she will have all the feelings of a sovereign State. Let us admit that we have inoculated her against a war potential. Let us admit all these things, but we shall never, in my view, eliminate the very great risk that will arise when her economy is working full out, and she has all the feelings of a sovereign State. We shall not be able to control her. We shall then have her—and we must face this— as an enormous danger against our economy here. If she is going to produce, through reasons known to all hon. Members—harder work, more ideas and a less expensive and didactic economy than we have at the moment—if she is going to produce more goods at cheaper prices than the rest of the world, then we shall have to pay for our present policy. I am not saying that it is a wrong policy. I believe we have to do it. I believe the dividends we shall get, will not be in 1557 cash and goods, but in the possibility of re-establishing peace. I think it only right to draw the attention of the House to that almost inevitable result of the policy announced by the Foreign Secretary today.
I would like to take now a leap—showing that I have rather surprising agility—to the Far East. This is a subject to which I refer in this House very frequently I would like to discuss the question of Japan. May I say how very nice it was to hear from the Foreign Secretary today of the promotion which the Far East has received? The Far East took the first place in his speech. On certain other occasions he has had to cut it off from the end of the queue because it did not get sufficient priority even to appear. It is a salutary thing that Far Eastern questions are becoming more and more recognised as important, and are getting more and more attention from the Government. The same danger that I have been trying to indicate as far as Germany is concerned is now showing itself in Japan and making itself felt there. Japan is, very largely, and for obvious reasons, under Japanese control, and, although the Foreign Secretary drew a picture of our participation, that participation is that of a very junior partner throughout the Far East. We should not be jealous of that or cavil against it. The American interest, and the American share of the burden during the war, are undoubtedly greater than ours, and they have a perfect right to the line they have taken. They are the dominant Power, but, if the American economy inside the United States continues to turn out as it seems to be doing at the present moment, and we have a sort of spiral of higher wages, higher prices, higher wages, the American Government may say to itself, "Here we have, in Japan, the greatest arsenal for the production of cheap goods the world has ever seen."
Before the war, one of the most difficult things with which we had to contend throughout the war was the flooding of the world market by cheap Japanese goods, which were cheap partly because they were subsidised and partly because of the lower Japanese standard of living. If we raise the standard of living, as I am sure everyone desires to do, we shall, with American machinery and trade development, have an ancillary machine which, if 1558 American economy goes on in its present direction, will present us with very serious troubles from the export point of view, and it is exports on which we live. Goods will be produced in Japan on a far better scale and in much greater quantity. Without attracting a Government subsidy, they would act in such a way as to undermine us and undercut us in the huge markets of the East, to which we are now devoting a good deal of attention, and where there is a good chance of our increasing and improving our previous trade position. I believe that this is a question which should be taken up at the earliest moment, and studied in real seriousness, and on a practical basis of finding out how we are to prevent the competition of goods from that country.
I would like to turn for a moment to China. I think the most important thing in China, a country in which I spent a number of years during the war, is that we should always respect Chinese sovereignty and not interfere or take sides in the battle now going on inside China. There are examples of other countries which are, rather obviously, taking one side or the other. That policy has great dangers, and, in the end, renders no service to the people of China. I think that until we have raised the standard of living in China, and improved the economic circumstances of the man in the street, we shall not hope to see in our time anything else but civil war. It exists today, and it is no use pretending that there is such a thing as a unified China. There is very little reason for a united China, because North and South China are utterly different in outlook and race. Even if we have it firmly fixed in our minds that it is absolutely necessary for a united China to have the right government, we should, at all costs, refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of China.
Let me now turn to a question which the Foreign Secretary mentioned—the question of rice in Siam. I have made a nuisance of myself for a good many months on the question of the rice in Siam. Today, for the first time, the Foreign Secretary, with all the authority which he commands, did agree on the importance of the question. This matter has big importance, because it is the first time that there has been an acid test of international dealing with the Far Eastern States. Here you have the known fact 1559 that 1¼ or 1½ million tons of surplus rice, which is not needed by the people of Siam, is available; next door, in Malaya, the rice ration has come down to three ounces per head, and, when we are on the point of attaining stability in that area, we may start to disrupt it and cause the maximum amount of suffering. That rice is needed in Malaya and in India, and it would not come amiss in this country. Yet, for nearly 10 months, during which I have been pressing this matter, hardly anything has been done.
The origin of the difficulty is this. Originally, this rice was to be handed over as reparations. Owing to the intervention of other Powers, we were frustrated, and, since then, it has stayed there, of no benefit to anybody at all. Why? I have seen it stated in that excellent journal which is so well represented in this House, the "New Statesman," that it was due to profiteering motives. The value of that rice is probably £80 million, and there was not enough finance in the few merchants of Siam to hold on to that rice for 10 months. It was not due to that at all. It is no use trying to export our ideology and teach it to Chinese or Malayan merchants. We might be able to do it in a thousand years, but by that time, this Government will not be in power and the people who need the rice now will be dead. The real point of this issue is that we make a high level bargain, signed by Lord Killearn, with the Siamese Government, who are largely the culprits. Here, in this country, we have Ministers attacking people who, they say, are behaving anti-socially, such as the black market building ring and. the various people who are holding up food. Here, in Siam, we have a Government which is holding up, against the rest of the world, food which means the lives of hundreds of thousands.
§ Mr. Fletcher
What are the Government going to do about that? They are not in a position to offer the necessary temptations to all the men, big men, small men and the rest, but I think they have certain responsibilities. I believe that it is doing a service to this country and others, to bring this matter out into the open air, so that we may see how it is going to be settled. It is no use saying that the situation is improving. It has not 1560 improved. The rice is needed most urgently, and it is now up to the United Nations to see what machinery they can produce to prise this rice out of the hands of those who hold it—and hold it wrongly—to distribute it to the people who want it. I most earnestly beg that this matter should not be looked at in any doctrinaire way. It should be discussed objectively and, if necessary, a new start should be made, as in the case of Germany, by sending out an international mission to represent to the Siamese Government how badly they are behaving to the rest of the world, and what benefits they will get if they will do what they can to assist the rest of the Far Eastern countries to put their economy on its feet again.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Crawley (Buckingham)
The hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) always seems to me to take one of the most consistent lines of any hon. Member on that side of the House. He is undisguisedly, and I have no doubt also successfully, a business man. He seems to me to look at the affairs of the world, and of this country, from the point of view of a business man. It is, possibly, a rather narrow point of view and it is one which, on another occasion, I should like to have the opportunity of disputing.
At this moment I want to come back to the Foreign Secretary's speech as a whole, and to try to probe a little beneath the vast array of facts with which he presented us. The Foreign Secretary speaks from a very deep conviction, and as he touches on events in one country after another, it seems to me that, for the rest of us who are trying to appraise what is being done, it is very important to understand what those convictions are and what the policy must be which emerges from it. The most important thing about the Foreign Secretary, besides the fact that he is Foreign Secretary, is that he has been a lifelong Socialist. It is because he is a Socialist, and because Socialism is a new ideal which is calling for a new outlook in human relationships in the world, that we on this side of the House, and the world as a whole, are looking for a new orientation and a new expression of British policy. I claim that neither we nor the world have been disappointed.
In the period between the two wars, when the affairs of this country were very 1561 largely in the hands of hon. Members opposite, it was never very difficult to tell what British policy would be in any given set of circumstances. Where it dealt with weak races, it would be a form of more or less aggressive imperialism, and where it dealt with races which were strong it would be a form of more or less extreme appeasement. The picture now is very different. In two of the spheres of this world where we are dealing with less powerful races, this Government have completely reversed the policy of their predecessors. All that was not done in India for so many years, in spite of repeated protestations, has been done, and though there may still be people who when they read of communal disturbances rub their hands and hope that the great effort in India may fail and may react to the discomfort of this Government, I do not believe that any hon. Member in this House has such feelings. Nor do I believe that any one—perhaps with one or two exceptions—really thinks that any other action could have been taken in India which would have given that country a chance to join the ranks of the great democracies in the world. If the present Indian Government succeed in producing a form of peaceful democracy, then I believe that the action of this Government in giving them their chance will have been one of the greatest political actions that this country has ever taken. Indeed, one might add that it is in marked contrast to the launching of the last great democracy for which this race was responsible. One may hope that its future will be as rosy.
Egypt is a country in which discussions are already going on, and I mention it only in passing. Forgetting for the moment the limits of our military resources and leaving out strategical considerations, I would say that the action which this Government have taken was the only one which allowed any chance of a settlement in the Middle East in which this country could continue to play a leading and a peaceful role. For that reason, again, it seems to be a really great departure in foreign policy But it is when we turn to the other zones, to Europe, the Far East, America and Russia, where our interests conflict with the interests of so many other countries, that the policy becomes less absolutely clear. All the more important, therefore, is it to remind ourselves what it is The aim of this Government, like that 1562 of every other Government, is peace, but the difference between this Government and their predecessors is that they believe that peace will come through the spread of Socialism. The tact that stands out above all others is that the basis of Socialism is democracy Without the great freedoms of democracy— and those freedoms are indivisible —Socialism, as I and as I believe 99, or to be more exact, 98 per cent. of the Members of this House understand it, would be utterly impossible. Socialism means a free association of peoples who organise themselves for their own good. The idea that we can have a free Socialist economic system without first having the social and political freedoms for which we in this country have struggled for so many hundreds of years is, perhaps, the most tragic misconception which pervades the world at this moment.
Having been in Germany—if I may interpolate a personal note for a moment—during most of the late war, I can, perhaps, speak with greater personal experience than many other hon. Members of what a police State means and of what are the feelings of people who live in a police State. As I understand and speak German, I was able to keep in close touch with the people. Unless one has had that experience, it is really impossible to understand what a police State is Where there are secret police who can arrest without process and without warning, and where there are spies, not merely in one's home, but in the workshop and all around, and where one's opinions, whether about politics, about work or about people are or can be a crime, it is utterly impossible for any friendly cooperation or any intelligent association to take place. Socialism is impossible under such a system.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
Will the hon. and gallant Member indicate what a police State is, so that we may know?
§ Flight-Lieutenant Crawley
I am coming to that in a moment, if the hon. Member will give me time. It is useless to deny that such States do exist in many parts of the world. So long as they exist, peace is precarious; so long as they exist the first concern of all Socialists must be to preserve the basis of their faith, and to protect and foster it in the many parts of the world where it has made a beginning and might not be absolutely secure. Their second concern must be to prevent absolutism growing up in those neutral 1563 regions. Absolutism exists all around us. It is closest in Spain and, without question, most dangerous in Russia.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Crawley
Absolutism must be opposed. Nobody denies the right of Russia, or of any other country, to try to spread its political philosophy. We acknowledge that fact and even welcome it, but it is just as much our duty to spread our philosophy and to oppose the others. It is no good being chicken-hearted, because the representatives of Communism and other forms of absolutism in the world are much more numerous than their representatives in this House. It is no good allowing fear of what may happen when one maintains one's point of view to weaken one's case. It is no good giving way to a weakness which most men at some time have, of currying favour. The majority of the world is on our side. It was made only too plain during the recent meetings of the United Nations that the majority of the world does not want absolutism, but social democracy; and the majority of the world is looking to this country to give it a lead.
I believe it is getting that lead. Around the perimeter of foreign affairs there are, undoubtedly, many things which all of us would like to see done, but I believe we are giving the right lead to the world. The stand which has been taken by the United Nations organisation against an attempt to use that organisation as a platform for propaganda, the attitude of the Foreign Secretary in what is the core of our foreign problems in Eastern Europe—Poland, Bulgaria and, in spite of what my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) has said, Rumania—in the near East and the Middle East, is absolutely necessary to assure the world that the democracies have enough faith in democracy in peace time to stand up for it as firmly as they did in war. I take the recent elections in Berlin as a triumphant vindication of that attitude.
That attitude has been established and the lead has been taken. I have no doubt that the Foreign Secretary and the 1564 Government will go forward with what I might call the second instalment of their foreign policy, and will do all they can to spread Socialism in the world because it is our belief that that is the essential basis of peace. I hope that something more may be done in relation to Spain. I hope that in other countries such as Argentina, Portugal, or even in Greece, if necessary, as much trouble will always be taken to insist on the freedom and the rights of minorities, reciprocal trade and the other bases of our democratic existence, as in countries controlled by Russia.
I would like to say a few words in particular about Germany. I was most relieved to hear what the Foreign Secretary had to say on that subject today. Although hon. Members opposite do not like to hear it said, it is my firm belief that there is no hope of building a democratic Germany without a much more thorough socialisation of its industries. Even the hon. Member for Bury might agree with me when I say that no one who has lived in Germany, who knows the German mind, the facility with which they are regimented, the inclination to obedience which the mass of them have, and the exactly opposite inclination which so many have when they accept an office of any kind, can doubt that, in order to get any democratic spirit in Germany at all we must have a radical broadening of the whole organisation of German life. So far as Germany is concerned, it is not a question of evolution as in many other countries, including ours. We have a blank sheet to begin on. We must try to build up a social, economic and political democracy at the same time, and I urge the Government to go ahead as fast as possible with their constitutional plan for Germany, to put the control of German economic affairs into their own hands, and support to the full whichever party wins the elections in doing what the Germans have shown they know to be necessary.
I come to my last point. The fact that America has joined in taking a lead where the principles of democracy are in question, seems to me, far from being a menace to this country, to be one of the greatest hopes that we, as Socialists, have. I say that in spite of any setbacks which may have occurred recently to the Democratic Party in America. What matters about America is that she is a democracy. Hon. Members opposite will not agree with this, but, slowly and inexorably, the 1565 capitalist system there is being modified. It is being checked day by day, by strikes and industrial disputes which, as anybody who has studied industrial history will agree, will inevitably lead to the kind of Socialist evolution which we have experienced in this country. Can anybody who has studied American history deny the significance of the Roosevelt regime? Do people expect industrial disputes in America suddenly to cease? Obviously they will continue, and will have a tremendous effect on American economy in the next 25 years. Have people really missed the significance of America's entry into the international agreements of Bretton Woods? So long as any country remains a democracy and is prepared to operate democratic institutions of that kind, capitalism must inevitably be modified. I believe that by the leadership of this country, American capitalism will in the next 25 years be tremendously modified, and Socialism will make tremendous strides in America. Surely, in any case, that is the right goal for a socialist party—the goal of spreading by democratic methods democratic socialist ideas—and not a wooden, stubborn refusal to have anything to do with another country because its economy happens to be at an earlier stage of development than our own.
Opposition does not mean war. We shall have to oppose America probably in Germany and in many other spheres, but we shall continue to work with America. Perhaps with America, we shall have to oppose Russia in many spheres, but we shall continue to work with Russia. The pessimists who have been saying that our relations with Russia are deteriorating are not borne out by the facts. Russia is operating the international system of U.N.O. She is accepting the verdicts of nations which vote against her. That is one of the most encouraging things which could possibly have happened since the war ended. One might almost say that Russia has accepted the position of being the official opposition to the Assembly of the United Nations. But much more can be done. I hope that we shall increase enormously our trade with Russia. It is only by increasing trade with Russia and by helping the Russian people to repair their standard of living which has suffered so seriously during the war, that Russia is likely to take the next step in her revolutionary development and attain the 1566 Socialism which I believe is part of her ideal. I do not believe in two world blocs. The emergence of India and, we hope, the eventual emergence of China, make such a picture unreal; but I believe in the assertion of world opinion by the vote of peoples in a world organisation, and it is because I believe the actions of this Government and of the Foreign Secretary are building up a world organisation of that type, that I give them my unqualified support.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I agree with most of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieutenant Crawley) has said. I think he has shown a fundamental knowledge of the steps that have to be taken in order to bring the world back to a sense of reality, and to give to the peoples of the world an opportunity to develop their life and happiness in peaceful surroundings. It is obvious that the statement of the Foreign Secretary was rather a cold douche for a large number of Members of his own party, and that a fairly large section of Members are opposed to his foreign policy.
I wonder if we could get some definite statement, made by a leading individual, as to where and how this country is to go along the road that will lead to a peaceful solution of the difficulties which surround us in the world today? I am rather inclined away from this point of view, and sometimes depressed, because there is a continuous propaganda going on in the world today which tries to put the blame for every happening and every disaster, on to the shoulders of those who are running the affairs of this country. No attention is paid—or at least it is sidestepped very carefully—to where the real blame lies for a tremendous amount of that blank wall with which the Foreign Secretary was met in the Conference, and with which he is met in the discussions that are now taking place.
When I see the Foreign Secretary of a Labour Government, in power in this country for the first time, entrusted with that task, and when I see hon. Members of his party going to Europe and the Balkans, and to areas where there is trouble, I am always keen to hear of those hon. Members inquiring about conditions in every country, getting to know the common men and women, finding out 1567 what they feel and what are their reactions to events. However, when they go into those countries and make speeches, and try to instil into the active opposition of those countries the feeling that the Labour Party in this House is not behind the Foreign Secretary, they do more damage than anything else to the chance of getting peace in the world today. When I hear of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) making a speech in which he says, "A large number of Members are not behind the Foreign Secretary. About 70 of them are prepared to break with the Labour Party on foreign policy," I say that anybody knows that is just nonsense. Most of us who have been in this House for a long time have been urged on from time to time by this seeming opposition which never materialises, and always funks when it comes to a showdown. To go out to the Balkans and to talk bravely, and encourage opposition to their own statesmen and their own country is not, I think, playing the game.
§ Mr. McGovern
I could pick on the hon. Member who related tonight the story of what happened in Rumania and elsewhere under the present rule. I know that in Rumania, in old Poland, in Greece and in all these countries, there was a dominant feudal aristocracy which imposed its will on, and was guilty of some of the most brutal happenings towards, the peasants and the workers. We expect that; but we do not expect those countries which are called progressive and enlightened, and which pretend to have an ideal, to have the same "police State" methods as in Greece and in other countries.
§ Mr. McGovern
If the hon. Member does not find it, that is because he does not want to find it. He is either dishonest or a political babe who should not be in this House. In these countries men disappear during the night to concentration camps and to prison cells; their bodies are found with bullets in them, with their heads kicked in. Do not tell me that does not exist in a "police State."
§ Mr. McGovern
I am anxious not to put case against case, but I say to the hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends: Please do not get up in this House and try to make the country believe that those happenings go on in certain countries but that others are immune. I want freedom, and I want Socialist libertarian freedom. After all, my conception of Socialism is that it should give a greater amount of freedom than capitalism gave. If not, I do not want it. It is not simply a question of getting bread and butter, and boots and clothing. Mankind needs something more. In view of these statements which have been made unfairly against the Foreign Secretary, we should realise the difficulties the Foreign Secretary has to face. I hope that as long as I have a tongue in my head, I will be able to expose humbug, no matter where it comes from.
§ Mr. McGovern
It would be a poor thing if it was not there as well. The Foreign Secretary has all these difficulties. Representing this country, he goes to territory which has suffered the greatest industrial devastation that has ever taken place in human industry, and he has to try to work out an agreed policy—because it is no use if it is not an agreed policy—between the partners that have taken on the job of dismembering and dismantling Nazi Germany. I am not a bloodthirsty person. There have been shootings, killings and so forth of leaders. Their lives matter little compared with the millions who were the victims. I do not like to hear, in this House, continual demands for and talk about de-Nazification as if every poor human being is to be treated as equally guilty, as if all the schoolteachers, office workers, and turners at lathes had imbibed and accepted the Nazi philosophy. They were economic victims of a Nazi system, men and women who were compelled to accept a system in return for what it could give them. in the shape of wages; the idea was spread throughout Germany that Nazism could give the country more than ordinary capitalism could give, in the shape of work and wages, and the needs they required.
In trying to bring the world back on to a right course with what do we meet? With what does the Foreign Secretary 1569 meet? With what do the Government meet? With what does this country meet? A continual barrage of lying propaganda. Mark the result of the Berlin municipal elections. If there were completely free elections in every country in the world, that is the result we would get. In any occupied country—because they are occupied; Russia is occupied—there would be a repudiation of both Russian policy and the "stooges" who are running those countries, if the people were free to vote in the ordinary British way.
§ Mr. McGovern
I have met with this sort of thing so often. Some people only see either Fascists or Communists. It should be understood that there are some things in between. There are people who are neither Fascists nor Communists. I am not opposed to Communism. I am a Communist at heart, but I loathe the totalitarian gangsters masquerading as Communists. Therefore, when this propaganda goes on, and when the Foreign Secretary is meeting with that blank wall of refusal at the Paris Conference, it is up to us to examine the position and to see who is responsible. I find—and I regret to have to say it—a large section of people who are inconsistent. Before the war they were shouting "Stand up to Hitler," and now they are crying, "Lie down to Stalin." They said there was to be no appeasing of Hitler, but that we have to appease Stalin all the time, and that the only way to get friendship is to salaam before the Russians and retreat step by step, as they advance. I am glad to see that the British Government are not prepared to do that. I think that they are entitled to greater consideration. In my estimation this Government are the best this country ever had. They are facing up to the job in a far better manner than I ever dreamed they would, and I want them to have the opportunity to succeed in every field, because mankind today, in Germany, in Japan, in Britain and in every other country, is gasping to get back on to some road that will lead to human happiness.
I am glad to hear the Foreign Secretary saying that he wants to see German industry developed and socialised. But we meet with great difficulty. Here on the Continent is on one hand American private enterprise unlimited and, on the 1570 other hand, totalitarian, alleged Communism unlimited. Britain, with democratic ideas, is trying to lay the foundation of a new world based on nationalisation and socialised industry, and is being squeezed between the two. Russia should be giving greater consideration to this Labour Government in this country than ever they gave any previous British Government, because if they want Socialism—and sometimes I wonder if they do want it—they should be encouraging even this child, and encouraging its footsteps along the road that will lead to the goal, instead of permitting this barrage of lies and propaganda that now goes on. I will say more, and this is frank: There is a considerable number of Members of this House who are playing at politics—just playing at politics. We have had them in our party. They have had one foot in Moscow and one foot in the I.L.P. We drove them out, and said: "Get both feet in Moscow if you want to do so." There are too many people who have that dual loyalty, and are not prepared to back up their own side when it comes to the rough and tumble that takes place on the Continent or elsewhere. Mind you, when it comes nearer to the General Election a large number of them will begin to throw their crypto-Communism behind them, because it is not a popular thing with which to go to the polls, with its persecution of minorities and its persecution of Christians; and then we shall begin to see them showing some recognition of the realities of life.
I want to see Germany put on its feet. I should like to see a general agreement between Stalin, America and Britain, based on democratic compromise, which this country is prepared to have. I think this country has shown great evidence of its desire for compromise. However, some of the first steps that were taken were deadly steps. It was only a question of time before the Government retreated. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, whether in simplicity or vanity, believed he could "put it over" the Russians, and that he could get them round to do his bidding, as the people of this country did. But the Russians have a policy; whether we like it or not, they have a policy to drive on remorselessly, through country after country, until the world is at their feet. Do the Socialists in this House value human freedom? Are they pre- 1571 pared to tolerate police States on the Continent? If they are, we shall have them in this country, because if we are going to have them on the Continent, then we are bound to have them in this country.
Take Greece. In Greece there is a continuous insistence that this Government is backing a reactionary regime in Greece It may be that the presence of troops and the assistance we gave led to that supposition. It is not at all the case. There was the devastation caused during the war when everything was driven willy-nilly. But the people of this country who criticise by saying there is an occupation in Greece are wrong. I do not think there is. Why do not they say to Russia "You give by silence your adherence to the people in Greece who are causing civil war in Greece" We want to see some sort of unity in Greece, but we are not all to be subjugated to the will and desire of a minority. It is wrong to say that we have no right to express our opinion, tht we have no right to open our mouths; that we must accept all that is said in Moscow." It will not do.
The world wants to see that the British Government is prepared to make an exact compromise, but is not prepared to retreat all the time, while no agreement can be reached on the basis of compromise. In so far as the Foreign Secretary is attempting to get Germany on its feet, to get Japan on its feet—because we cannot raise our standards in life while we hold other people's down—let us encourage the Government along the road, so that we may get back to a decent life, in which, when a man makes a statement, he means what he says and he says what he means. That is the ideal in politics in the international field So far as I am concerned, I give my backing unreservedly to the Government of this country in attempting to lay the foundations of that sort of society
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfrid Roberts (Cumberland, Northern)
The Foreign Secretary is a very fortunate man in having wider support in this House and in the country than any Foreign Secretary in recent history. He is supported for a good many different reasons by a good many different people. While I agree with much that the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) said, I think it is 1572 a bad reason to support the Foreign Secretary because one is anti-Communist. I feel that there were elements of that in the speech which we have just heard
§ Mr. McGovern
If the hon. Member will pardon me, may I ask does he think that, because a Member of this House, or anyone in this country, stands up for Britain, he must necessarily be anti something else?
§ Mr. Roberts
Well, I do not think the hon. Member means it, and I do not think it is an important thing about the leadership of the Foreign Secretary or of this country in international affairs. But it is a reason why people in this country and in other countries support the Foreign Secretary. I think it is a bad reason. If I support the Foreign Secretary, as I do, it is because of a positive reason. There is the other point of view, and one of the things which disturb a number of people is that our policy, in many countries, attracts those who are not positively in favour of the liberal, or social democratic policy of the British Government, but are very much against the policy of Russia As a result of that, we have some very peculiar friends in the world.
I am going to be rash enough to mention Greece, a country which I have not been to, but which I read about, where politics are obviously most complicated and difficult. I do not need to do more than listen to the Foreign Secretary's speech today to learn that he is quite a lot dissatisfied with what is happening in Greece today, that he could imagine Greece having a Government much more to his liking, a Government much more liberal, in the broad sense of the word, under which the fundamental rights of individuals would be very much more respected. I do not think the Foreign Secretary would deny that. There are some people in Greece who are, quite frankly, very reactionary; they see in us friends who will protect them from much that they do not want. I do not know how this situation has come about, I cannot judge it in detail; all I know is that the result of interference by this country—and do not let us deceive ourselves, of course we have interfered in Greece—in spite of having a Labour Government following upon a National Government, is that we have not developed in Greece a really democratic régime of which the 1573 Foreign Secretary or any other democrat could be proud, or at which he could point and say, "This is the sort of Government which the British social democrats, the British liberals, the British spirit wants to see in Europe today."
I cannot help mentioning Spain. There is a lot of talk about police States, and while there are police States in Eastern Europe there are also police States in Western Europe. We have no immediate special responsibility for the régime in Spain today, yet we do get ourselves manoeuvred into a position, on the Security Council and elsewhere, in which we seem to be protecting the present régime in Spain against other people. It is not the business of a back bench Member to say exactly how these things can be avoided. A back bench Member, like a member of the British public, can only look at the results and say, "The results are not satisfactory." What has been done wrong is not my business, but neither in Greece nor in Spain are we in the position which I for one, and I think the majority of hon. Members of this House, would wish us to be in. It may be that it is not the fault of the policy of this Government. There are great difficulties at the present time, and we are wildly misrepresented in international propaganda, I agree. Perhaps there are greater dangers; perhaps if the régime in Spain was overthrown there would be a dictatorial Government of the Left—a Communist Government. That is an argument, but personally I have enough faith in democracy to believe that it is a very bad argument, and one which led us into a lot of trouble before the war. But it is an argument, and I have heard it: "Oh, no, you must not upset dictatorial régimes of the Right in case we get something worse." Well, there we are, and while I do not join with those who are admittedly critical of the Foreign Secretary—I recognise his enormous difficulties—I will not say that we are satisfied, that we have achieved what we want, or that we have yet succeeded in positively putting over what we stand for.
The hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieutenant Crawley) made an admirable and most interesting speech, but I think some of it was wishful thinking. He drew a grand picture of what this country stood for in the eyes of Europe and the world, a progressive, socialist, democratic country. We had a 1574 tremendous lot of good will in the world at the end of the war, people in all countries, under enemy occupation and elsewhere, had listened to our propaganda, and they looked to us for what I would call a really radical progressive policy. This Government have carried out in their policy during the last year a lot of the radical progressive work which I and other Members of my party have supported, but I do not think we have yet got that over to the world as being our message. In some way, in the last year, we have got ourselves manoeuvred into a very false argument—a dialectical argument—with the Russians. They are very good politicians, the Russians, and instead of putting over our positive ideas in international affairs, we have been involved in a rather negative and fruitless argument A lot of what is said against us is no doubt untrue, and much of that is now to be allowed to go by, which I think is much the best way of treating it.
The Foreign Secretary made a very interesting general survey of the whole field of foreign affairs. What was new, and what was most interesting, was what he said about the future of Germany. Many people, in all parts of the House, have been very much concerned about what has been going on in Germany recently, apart from merely detailed criticisms of our administration in Germany, they have felt the absence of any definite directive and plan, and that we were working under international agreements which made any effective policy impossible.
What the Foreign Secretary has said today has cleared away very many of these difficulties. There is a policy now in regard to the general control of Germany. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is most important to try to get agreement between the major Powers upon the political and economic future of Germany. If we cannot get that, we have to go ahead in carrying out our own policy where we can get agreement, because as other hon. Members have said, Germany is the economic key to Europe. We shall not be able to regain prosperity in Western Europe if Germany is reduced to a distressed area. I want to dissociate myself from the sloppy sentimentalists. Many of us do not want to be kind to the Germans in that sense, but we believe that we cannot restore the prosperity of Western Europe without 1575 making full use of German resources, German industry and intelligence. The Germans would certainly benefit, but we. want to see this policy of destroying German industry reversed, not out of sloppy sentiment, but on account of the needs of Europe generally.
In reviewing the foreign situation, the Foreign Secretary said nothing about a subject upon which he laid so much emphasis in his earlier speeches, namely, the economic reconstruction of Europe and the world. I think that he has been drawn into this political argument. I wish he had told us something about what he hopes to get from the international conference meeting today in London. It is not so popular on those benches above the Gangway, because the Conservative Party have the gravest doubts about that conference, but we believe very firmly that it is more important to get on with creating conditions under which we can have more international trade. It is more important to do that than to delineate frontiers in Europe according to what we think is just.
There is a great deal to be done. There is the international conference at Copenhagen on food and agriculture organisation. Taking a long view, it is through that sort of organisation that the problems of Germany and Europe, as well as ourselves, will be settled. We have got a very good story to tell on food, which is a question today of foreign affairs. The reduction of our food, voluntarily and deliberately, for the sake of other countries is a thing about which more should be said in Europe and the world, and I hope that the Minister will have something to say about that when he makes his reply. I am told that tomorrow the Prime Minister will have something to say about the proceedings at the U.N.O. meeting in America. It is plain to all now that the veto, as it has been worked in practice, has frustrated the efforts of those who believe that ultimately the success or failure of the United States is vital to the peace and future of the world. I think that we on these benches can take a little credit for having protested against the veto, even before the Charter of the United Nations was drawn up, at San Francisco. We did it in the Press, Lord Beveridge did it from this bench, and we even had a deputation to the Foreign Secretary of that time. We were assured 1576 that it would be used only in decisions vital to the Security Council. Well, it has turned out that it has been used on every possible and impossible occasion in procedural and other matters. We were told that in this matter, as in so many others, the hands of the Government had been tied, in this case, at Yalta. I see that the indomitable Australians are returning to the charge that at San Francisco representatives of the British Government put the case for the veto against Australia and New Zealand, who foresaw how disastrous it might be. Can we not now support Australia, if not in abolishing the veto, at any rate in reducing its operation very greatly?
I want to say a word or two about proposals—which I have not heard mentioned except obliquely—made by the Leader of the Opposition at Zurich. I think the ideal of a United States of Europe would be an admirable addition to the international organisation which we have already. If the United Nations develop, the role of such a federation of States would perhaps become less important, but if the United Nations were not so successful then a federation of European countries, with very much the same ideologies, might become more important. In any case, it seems a rather ideal and distant possibility, but I believe that we could both politically and economically take some steps along that road.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of an arrangement which he has made with France. While that is all in the right direction it is a very modest beginning, a too modest beginning, in my opinion. I believe that Holland and Belgium have carried out some of the economic agreements which the British Government, before the war, prevented coming into effect. When, at Oslo, the Scandinavian countries tried to establish by agreement a closer economic relationship with us and invited us to join them, the Conservative Government, before the war, succeeded in preventing them. I think that was a mistake then, and I think it is highly desirable now that we should come to an economic understanding with those countries of Europe who are willing to come together with us. Therefore, I support the view that if a federation, or even a confederation, is too much, we should take the opportunity of pressing for both economic and political cooperation with those countries. I do not think that the 1577 Russians need be too hostile to that. They have already an economic and political association with the Eastern European States, which is much closer than anything we can achieve in Western Europe for a long time. What I am suggesting is not aimed against Russia, but with the purpose of increasing our own economic prosperity and our own political ideas.
Finally, may I say I am not one of those who believe that the Soviet Union will ever precipitate a war? I think that they have suffered far too greatly in the last two world wars, ever to take that action. There are many other reasons why they should not. I had the advantage of seeing some of the devastation in Europe. Whether or not they may have aggressive ideas in the future, the best answer is to make our Western liberal—Socialist if you like—experiment a real success; not to be drawn, as I have tried to suggest, into rather fruitless political arguments, but to be bold enough and confident enough of our own capacity to lead Europe. It seems to me that we are missing President Roosevelt's leadership in the world today and that no one has taken that statesman's place. I may be wrong, but I sense a feeling on the Government Front Bench that they are too much impressed with being only practical, and are not giving a wide leadership, which might be criticised as idealistic. The Foreign Secretary, in one of his speeches in answer to the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), said a few words about the ideal of a world federation. Without going so far as that, I believe that we have much to say which would strike a chord in the hearts of many people in the world, and which would be in keeping with the prestige which we gained, and the part which we played, in the war. I urge the Government to give greater leadership to the democratic forces of the world, and not to be drawn into fruitless and rather useless arguments, which, at present, seem to be the main object of international conferences.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield)
I make no apology if, in my short intervention in this Debate, I refer simply to one country, and that a country to which the Foreign Secretary was unable to refer in his speech this afternoon, namely, Spain. Those hon. Members who visited Central Europe 1578 during the Recess probably became aware of how our failure to take any action in regard to ousting Franco from Spain has done harm to the cause of social democracy throughout Europe. The enemies of social democracy use our failure to take action in Spain as a weapon to attack the principles and ideas which the Government of this country put forward. Having experienced this myself in Central Europe, I went to Spain during the Recess to see if I could ascertain whether the Spaniards themselves would wish for intervention from the Great Powers to bring about a change in the regime in that country. After touring the country for four weeks I must say that I returned convinced that the overwhelming majority of the Spanish people are looking to the democracies to assist them to overthrow the Fascist regime in that country.
I found the people of Spain disappointed and disillusioned because we have failed so far to take that necessary action. We had the opportunity immediately the war ended, and we had it again when the Labour Government came into power in this country, and on both those occasions we failed to seize the opportunity. The third opportunity is now with us with the meeting of the United Nations in New York, and I urge the Foreign Secretary to see that this matter is brought forward and thoroughly discussed there. The people of Spain are not in a position to take action to rid themselves of the present Government without outside help.
There are various reasons for that. In the first place, the standard of living is deplorable. The condition of the people is far worse than it was when I was in Spain before the Civil War. The rations there are infinitesimal compared with the rations which we receive in this country. They get one eighth of a litre of oil per week, a mere handful of beans per week, three ounces of bread a day, and so on, and the prices of foodstuffs in the ordinary market are high and in the black market extremely high. The regime is blamed for the very low standard of living from which, the people of Spain are suffering, because the black market is in the hands of the Falange and the military. Although one sees children starving in Spain, children with beri-beri and rickets, in spite of the glorious sunshine in that country, although the people are starving, they tell one that they are willing to put up with even worse conditions if action is taken by 1579 the United Nations to cut off their imports and compel a change in the regime.
Of course, the second reason the people of Spain are so anxious to have intervention from outside is that they cannot organise themselves into a sufficiently strong opposition to bring the military and police over to their side. There is still political persecution in Spain which prevents the organisation of political parties. In Granada I heard political prisoners executed within a few yards of my hotel just before dawn on the morning of 14th September. I heard the cars come up, the shots fired, and the next day I ascertained beyond a shadow of doubt that these were political prisoners who had been brought down from the mountains. They were ex-Republicans who had become guerillas, they had been captured, imprisoned for a day or two, and then, without public trial, had been executed. When I was in Malaga a political murder served as an excuse for a round-up of guerillas in the hills, and when a round-up of that sort takes place, these so-called bandits are shot at sight.
One meets people continually who have been in and out of prison and who are still hunted by the secret police, the Civil Guards, and so on. In these conditions it is not possible for Franco to be turned out without external assistance and without organised intervention by the great Powers. It is not possible for the resistance to organise successful civil war in Spain or the successful bloodless ousting of the regime, but if action is not taken I feel that civil war is bound to come to Spain again, and if it does it will be bloodier and crueller than that of the 1930s. I am sure of that because Spain is seething today with hatred bred of persecution, and there is a lust for revenge which is fostered by political murder.
How, then, are we to intervene, and in what way can we in this country and the United Nations generally take action to assist Spain to get rid of the present regime? First, there must be established some Government which can be considered as an alternative to Franco, and to succeed such a Government would have to be strong enough to appeal to the Opposition of Spain and to bring about that unify among the Opposition and among the resistance forces which, unfortunately, does not entirely exist today. 1580 It would have to be strong enough to inspire confidence, and sufficiently well backed by the great Powers to attract to it the military and police, for without them obviously no alternative Government in Spain could succeed. In passing let me say that unquestionably the monarchy cannot revive such a Government in Spain today. I found in Spain very little support for the monarchy and I do not believe—although the contrary is frequently said—that our Foreign Secretary any longer harbours the belief that the return of the monarchy would bring about a solution to the Spanish problem.
The alternative Government must be one which would be representative of all sections of opinion and of all sections of the opposition, a Government, that is, of national unity which would include not only those republican and other leaders who are outside Spain but also some of the leaders of the opposition and of the resistance movement inside Spain itself. Once formed, such a Government would have to be recognised by the Powers, who would have immediately to break off relations with Spain and endeavour, through propaganda by one means and another, to get this Government accepted by the Spanish people. I believe that then the military and the police would come over to the new Government and that with a bloodless revolution we could bring about a change of regime in Spain. The question is whether the present Giral Government, which has been formed on the basis of the continuity of the Republic, represents sufficient of the opposition, and whether it is possible that that Government could be the alternative government to be backed by the United Nations and taken back to Spain as the provisional Government. Unfortunately, inside Spain the Giral Government is not as yet entirely recognised by the people, but one reason for that is that it has not sufficient backing from outside. The backing which the Giral Government has received has been entirely that of some of the smaller States, the majority of which are considered to be the satellites of Russia. Consequently, inside Spain, which is an anti-Communist country, the Giral Government is partly considered as being backed by the Communist element and does not, therefore, appeal completely to the Spanish people. Even so, because this Government represents a continuity of the Republicans, a constitutional Government, a legal Govern- 1581 ment, it has a very large measure of support. If it received the support of the Great Powers it would then be recognised by the majority of the people of Spain.
In order that that should happen, it is necessary that the basis of the Giral Government be broadened. It seems to me most unfortunate that the Foreign Office in this country has not established relations of any kind with the Giral Government, or with the Republicans who are outside Spain, or for that matter, unfortunately, it has not given any encouragement to the Resistance movement in Spain. No encouragement has been given to resistance there. If informal and unofficial discussions were to take place with the Giral Government and with the other Republicans who are in exile, I believe that they would listen to suggestions from us for the sake of obtaining that recognition which is necessary for their success. That would broaden the basis of their government and bring in elements which are not in—possibly Negrin and others—and they would fulfil the wishes of the Great Powers in order to obtain the recognition of those Powers.
I urge the Foreign Secretary, in reviewing this difficult situation—it is a difficult situation to solve—to take into consideration whether the time has not arrived for him to enter into discussions with the Republicans in exile and whether he would endeavour to discuss with them ways and means whereby that Government could be enlarged and made a possible alternative Government to receive the backing of the Great Powers. I do not believe that the position in Spain can be put an end to without external intervention, and I do not believe that external intervention by the United Nations will bring about civil war in Spain. If there is no external intervention, I believe there will be civil war in Spain. Therefore, I urge upon the Foreign Secretary, in the interests of preserving democracy in Europe and bringing back democracy to the Spanish people, to see whether it is not possible, at the meeting of U.N.O. in America during the coming weeks, for joint efforts to be put forth to solve the terrible Spanish problem, put an end to the last remnants of Fascism in Europe and restore democracy to Spain.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
I hope that the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) will forgive me if I do not follow him in a debate on Spain. I may have to take up some time of the House, in order to develop my argument, and I know that many hon. Members wish to take part in the Debate. I listened to the Foreign Secretary and I noticed two things both of which he was probably forced to say. If hon. Members will read the speech again in the morning they will find many "ifs" and many time factors. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can do anything else.
It is on a matter relating to Germany however on which I wish to speak tonight. The German problem is a European problem, and in approaching it, one has to be extremely careful that one does not indulge in either pro-German or anti-German madness, which automatically leads one to be either pro-Russian or anti-Russian. One has to be very careful to approach the whole problem with a level mind. It is worth considering why we went to war. Personally, I am completely convinced that we went to war in order to uphold and cherish those liberties—that much twisted word today—for which, in fact, the majority of hon. Members in this House stand. At the same time, if we do stand for those liberties, we have to bear in mind that although we cannot forget the terrible atrocities committed by Germany, it does not make us unable to forgive. They are two totally different things. I would like to draw the attention of hon. Members to what is happening in Germany today. With regard to the broad policy of quadripartite control, it appears to me that one of the chief factors that is acting against this control is that there are four pairs of spectacles looking at Germany at the moment instead of one, and those four views are making themselves felt. The Potsdam Agreement, which was drawn up and agreed by the parties concerned, was agreed because it was felt at that time that Germany would be governed as a whole. It was felt that a surplus in the food producing areas would be distributed throughout Germany, However, we know full well that in Berlin itself there may well be certain quadripartite Powers sitting down and issuing certain directives, but that those direc- 1583 tives are not carried out on a quadripartite basis.
Another matter upon which hon. Members should exercise their minds is the very dreadful position in which we find ourselves as a result of the refugees and "expellees" coming into Germany. But it is only proper before criticising that Agreement to realise why in fact this has come about. When the Agreement was signed, it is only reasonable to suppose that the Members of the Government who signed it thought that they would get a proper proportion of working men, women and children, whereas in fact the number of men capable of working who have come into the British zone is nearly negligible. That has made a very wide difference to the over-population of our own zone.
What is the major problem in our zone? Let us take food, and the question of agriculture. We are short of fertilisers—of nitrogen and potash—quite apart from the world food shortage. More potash could be obtained if there was more coal, but there is not sufficient coal. There is not sufficient coal either to improve the supply of nitrogen. Then there is the question of accommodation. I do not call it housing. Four square yards of housing for a person—is accommodation not housing. What is the limiting factor? It is exactly the same as it is here. There is not enough steel and not enough bricks because there is not enough coal. The capacity of the German steel industry before the war was round about 22 million tons. At Potsdam it was realised that the 22 million tons before the war included the manufacture of war material as well as the necessary domestic affairs of Germany, and it was agreed to leave the capital equipment capable of producing 7,500,000 tons with a limitation to produce only up to 5,500,000 tons. The amount that is being produced is, I believe, 3,500,000 tons.
I hope the Government will review this position, and perhaps refer it again to the quadripartite Powers, because there is a point here which I do not believe has been taken fully into account. I assume it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to keep a lengthy control of Germany, and although the capacity of 22 million tons of steel was the capacity of war potential plus the capacity of domestic affairs in Germany before the war. Owing 1584 to the destruction which they have brought about themselves, the capacity that will be required to rebuild and rehouse, even to the most modest economic level, will be all that can possibly be developed. At a later stage, and at a later date, when things may alter, then indeed may be the time to break up that capital equipment and send it on its way. I am rather puzzled about another angle. So far I have been talking about the capacity of Germany in order to get her to a normal level, but I cannot see, as agreement has been arrived at with the quadripartite Powers that Germany shall not be allowed deep ocean going vessels or the construction of them, why certain gantrys in Hamburg have not yet been destroyed. Perhaps I may have an answer to that at a later date?
May I also refer to the difficult subject of de-Nazification? One has to approach this subject fully realising the dreadful atrocities which these people have committed. I think it is proper to say, however, that in Germany prior to 1939, anyone who reached the equivalent rank in civil life of, say, a sergeant, was probably a Nazi and, if he got a little higher, he was granted rank in the Nazi Party as an honorary degree. We have to be very careful indeed that we do not go forward with this policy of de-Nazification to such an extent that we never find, any executive people able to carry on the different forms of necessary business for Germany. In the two trips that I have made to Germany in the last nine months, I was rather shocked when meeting the different German individuals—who may have great capacity but I doubt it—whom we have placed in power in the different factories round about. I do not propose to say very much about Berlin. I think probably all hon. Members who have been there will agree with me that, while realising to the full the terrible atrocities that that nation has committed throughout the world, one must at the same time realise that Berlin today is like a tawdry musical comedy, and that there are much weeping and very sad eyes behind the scenes. There is an unhealthy state in the four sectors of Berlin, unhealthy not only for the Germans but for all our people who have to carry out their duties over there.
At this stage I would like to put to the Foreign Secretary certain suggestions. I feel, as do certain hon. Members on 1585 both sides of the House, that the Chancellor of the Duchy, or someone attached to him of very high executive office, should be resident in Germany. When I say "high executive office" I am talking of high political executive office.
With regard to the question of coal, as far as I know, the present arrangement under the agreement is that 50 per cent. of the coal production goes to the public utility services in the British zone, 30 per cent. goes to Berlin, and about 20 per cent. goes to the different Allied countries ravaged by Germany These amounts are quoted in percentages, but I believe the only way to get coal production up, is not by giving it in percentages, but by setting a target and basing it on present figures, so many tons for public utilities, so many to go to Berlin, and so many to the Allied countries, and saying that any surplus can be used for essential requirements in the zones. I believe that that carrot, that incentive, will gain the amount we require, and at the same time will obtain the extra coal needed to restart and resettle the economic life of Germany. I hope that we shall see to it that Germany does not have any deep-sea or oceangoing vessels again. I am not like some hon. Members who feel that Germany can never revive. I am not at all sure, but what I am sure of, is that the Potsdam Agreement was made in order to stop Germany having a war potential, and it was rightly made. But it was made under a quadripartite control, and if we do not have that quadripartite control, we would have to look at our own zonal affairs, and the whole approach would have to be very different. I trust that if the situation arises that Russia refuses to implement the quadripartite agreement in Germany that she will realise to the full that she is forcing every other zone to resuscitate a war potential in Germany.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I am very grateful for the opportunity afforded me to take part in this foreign affairs Debate, the first foreign affairs Debate in which I have spoken. I suppose there is no field in which there are more experts than in the field of foreign affairs and none where there is less agreement between the experts, or less unity. I approach this problem as a layman, and perhaps may be allowed to state the prob- 1586 lem as it appears to me. I was very interested in what the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) said in regard to Germany I feel very deeply about this problem of peace and war. I belonged to a family of seven boys, five of whom were in the first World War, and two of whom, unfortunately, lost their lives. I can well remember as a boy the tragedy and the sorrow that surrounded my home. I felt forced to consider the problem of war and peace rather deeply. I came to the conclusion, and I still hold that opinion, that war is the greatest of all crimes—because it justifies every other crime.
It appeared to me, and still appears to me, that there are two fundamental principles necessary for the establishment of world peace. First, we must have a general will to peace; and secondly, adequate machinery for the establishment of world peace. On the advent of a Labour Government with power, I had the highest hopes that these two principles would be secured. I have seen successive stages, of hope, bewilderment and concern. I desire to intervene on this occasion be-cause I feel profoundly disturbed at the present international scene, and fear that there might be final disillusionment in our foreign policy. I do not subscribe to the very bitter criticisms that have sometimes been made against our Foreign Secretary from this side of the House, and I hope that my contribution may be interpreted as something a little more constructive and an attempt to lift the international scene from its sombre state, to a state more worthy of our consideration.
I am disturbed, nevertheless, at the trend of Anglo-Soviet relations, because it seems to me there is a danger that these relations are in greater jeopardy than at any time since 1938. When I was travelling in Germany recently I was much impressed by the opinions expressed to me, both by English and German people, and I was rather disturbed at the view which seemed to be generally prevalent that, somehow or other, we were bound to find ourselves at war with Russia. I am not seeking to blame any side, but it seems to me that it would be a tragedy if that opinion should prevail. It seems to be an opinion that is widely shared in America, for I notice that Mr. Henry Wallace, in his letter to President Truman, made this statement: 1587I am even more troubled by the apparently growing feeling among the American people that another war is coming, and that the only way that we can head it off is to arm ourselves to the teeth. Yet all of past history indicates that an armament race does not lead to peace but to war.I think that every step we can take to remove the impression that war is inevitable ought to be taken. I am bound to admit that, somehow or other, the Foreign Secretary, for whom I have great admiration, seems to have created the impression that everything that comes from Russia is difficult and that all that emanates from America must be accommodated.
It seems to me that more than words are required to meet this situation. I do not believe that everlasting peace will come from the platitudes of Paris. It can come only from concrete contributions to the cause of mutual trust among the nations. I submit, very humbly, three points for consideration. I think if our Foreign Secretary could make a statement to the world upon these three points, a statement that was clear and unmistakable, it would do much to remove the fear and misunderstanding which exist in the international sphere. First, there should be international control of the atomic bomb and a statement of our complete belief in atomic disarmament. Second, there should be international control of the waterways of the world. I do not see why these passageways should not be controlled by international organisation. In this connection, I would remind the House of a further statement in the letter of Mr. Henry Wallace in which he said:For example, most of us are firmly convinced of the soundness of our position when we suggest the internationalisation and de-fortification of the Danube or the Dardanelles, but we would be horrified and angered by any Russian counter-proposal that would involve also the internationalising and disarming of Suez or Panama. We must recognise that to the Russians these seem to be identical situations.The third point for consideration would be the revision of the policy of the Western Allies towards Germany. There has been some prophecy that there will be a curtailment of German reparations. In fact, it has been suggested in some quarters that there might be a loan from the United States of America to Germany. The policy of reparations is insane. When I was in Germany recently and saw the Borbeck steel works being dismantled for reparations, I could not help 1588 feeling that it was time for us to revise the Potsdam Agreement and take a saner approach to this problem. There were 2,500 men working upon the dismantling of those works and they will be employed until next June at a cost of nearly £1,000,000. It seems to me that if we were to pursue a policy of thorough Socialism in regard to Germany, it would be far better than any of the prophecies to which I have referred, such as the granting of a loan. In that way lies the hope of unity between Russia and ourselves. The German problem is the fundamental testing ground between east and west. To take the other direction would be to push the problem into the orbit of American economic imperialism. I do not think that would be a satisfactory solution.
Apart from that, there is the political aspect to be considered. This is even worse. Any suggested loan would be regarded with great suspicion, especially in view of the fact that there has been a refusal to grant credit to Russia. I feel that we are in danger of being driven into a similar position to that in which we were after the first World War. We ought to secure ourselves in time. To avoid stumbling into a difficult position similar to that which arose after the first world war, we have, I think, to make a frank and fair approach on both sides. The international problem at the moment will not be improved by some of us on this side of the House seeing everything that Russia does as being right whilst hon. Members on the other side never see anything right in what Russia proposes at all. I remember the first time I addressed an open air meeting. It was 22 years ago in the city of Oxford, and I advocated a loan to Russia. It was a very much more unpopular proposition then than it probably would be today, but I was heckled and pursued and called a Bolshevik. That, of course, was in the days before the invention of the term "crypto-Communist." Nevertheless, our approach to Russia was wrong throughout those years, and the foreign policy of the Tory Party has driven this country along the road to war. I say that not only is the Tory foreign policy the cause of war, but that to uphold the system of capitalism is a further cause of war. These two together are the two biggest contributory factors to causing war.
1589 So I submit these points very humbly for the consideration of this House. Great as our difficulties may appear to be at the moment, we must never succumb to the creed which leads to dictatorship and war, nor to that creed which leads to the. fastening upon the youth of this country of military conscription in time of peace. I fear that the policy that is being pursued may lead to a permanent system of military conscription. After all, it is policy which shapes our armaments, and before embarking on such a policy we should all hesitate.
Therefore, I appeal to the Foreign Secretary to give consideration to these points. I do so feeling that he is a great personality, that he can bring great pressure to bear upon these things, and because, in spite of my queries or my disagreement, I believe that our Foreign Secretary is a very sincere man who will give his careful consideration to the points I have mentioned. We have to choose either the way of peace or war, and I believe that the present situation can lead only to war unless we take action in the other direction. In the words of Thomas Hardy:When shall the softer, saner politics,Whereof we dream, have play in each proud land?And patriotism, grown godlike,Scorn to stand bondslave to realmsBut circle earth and seas?
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Beechman (St. Ives)
At the outset of his comprehensive and, as I thought, very sound survey of foreign policy, the Foreign Secretary said what has long needed saying. We need not be acutely disappointed or worried at the lack of speed in coming to decisions. This is an age of rapid change, but it does not follow that we would necessarily do our best by making up our minds and coming to decisions at once. I remember that, as the war was coming to an end, when I was a minor Member of the Government, it was understood that the making of peace was going to take a considerable time. I am not in any way criticising the Government; it is not their fault that we had to stage yet another peace conference. It is quite true that the Foreign Secretary said, and I am glad he did, that this was not a peace conference like Versailles. The philosopher Thales said, "You cannot bathe in the same stream twice." When I read about 1590 trumpeters welcoming the arrival of the Prime Minister and about the trappings of the conference, I wondered whether we were not, after all, attempting to have another Versailles or another Congress of Vienna.
In these times of change we must first make up our minds what it is that we wish to, and indeed can, preserve. I will answer that question in one word and I hope that my use of it will not excite hostile feelings in the minds of hon. Members who occupy the bench in front of me. The word is "Liberalism." I use it in the sense in which it will concern many people in all parties in this House as being the essence of civilisation. In the course of his interesting observations an hon. Member opposite talked as if the policy of the Government was based upon Socialism. What I want to see is the encouragement of Liberalism by hon. Members of all parties. After all, Liberalism is not a closed shop; it has been encouraged by the Government. The fact that we have had open debates in Paris has been of the greatest value. I quite agree with the Foreign Secretary when he says that the open debate has meant an opportunity for specious propaganda. So it has, but when we come to the end of open debates, we find that, after cut and thrust, decisions have, in fact, been accepted. In these debates we should make it plan to Russia, for instance, that we understand that there may be countries which have some basic Slavonic ideal which they wish to foster. We must remove their apprehensions, but in so far as they may be bringing together certain nations in order to menace or oppress others, or threaten war, we should make it plain, as we have done in the course of our Debates, that we shall not on any account tolerate such steps by Russia or by any other country.
I hope that, while these debates take place, we shall do our best to make Europe work economically. I was very glad to hear the Foreign Secretary insist more than once that what he has in mind primarily is to raise the standard of living of the masses of the people. I hope more attention will be paid, and more public notice given to the work of the Economic and Social Council. Already splendid work has been done by nations taking counsel together on the subject of food, but great work in the sphere of 1591 health and economic rebuilding could be done by nations working together, and not by nations working singly—work which would strike the imagination of the people all over the world and would take their minds off these continual ante-deluvian and dangerous bickerings about the niceties of frontiers. I was in France when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made his speech at Zurich about the possibility of France and Germany taking the lead in a European federation. The speech made a tremendous impression and, at any rate, it did lift people's minds off that narrow regard for their own frontiers. I confess it is true that the people of France did not think there was any practical possibility of this idea being carried out. So far as I have been able to judge, there is a warmer feeling for us in France than there has been for very many years. There is no doubt that the people of Belgium look to us for a lead, as do the people in Holland and in Western Germany.
Cannot we give some lead? It may be that the lead would best come from back benchers and others who take an interest in foreign affairs. Cannot we give some lead in getting these countries to which I have referred to work together on certain specific matters? We often hear people say, "Let the Western countries work together." I have in mind certain specific things in regard to which I think there should be cooperation. I do not think that we should stand up against Russia, because I hope I have made it perfectly plain that we have got to work with Russia. I do not agree with the suggestion of Field-Marshal Smuts that we should agree to differ. I have experienced a good deal of agreement to differ in politics, and it always ends in difference and no agreement.
I say we should take a lead in bringing these Western countries together in working to sustain freedom. The countries to which I have referred might become a form of commonwealth of nations specially concerned to sustain freedom—freedom, first of all, in its spiritual aspect. I am not one of those who think freedom can be chopped up, though for the purposes of this analysis I venture to do so. We should work together to sustain freedom of thought, freedom in the expression of ideas, and of worship. We can work together to support and develop what is 1592 called, I think falsely, economic freedom; what is meant is economic security. We must take joint steps to build up a better and a higher standard of living for the people of these countries and of the people they protect. There are practical steps which we can take. Finally, we can take steps to ensure freedom of movement. I congratulate the Foreign Secretary very warmly on the steps which he has already taken. I hope the identity card which many of us, including myself, have looked upon with some odium may yet prove to be the title deed of a citizenship which covers all the western countries to which I have referred. The greatest things have often had humble beginnings.
I will add only this. I hope Italy, and Spain, can be brought into the sphere of the freedoms to which I have referred. I think not enough has been done to show that we appreciate the fight many Italians put up at the end of the war on our side. Little is known of the way many ships of the Italian Navy fought on our side. I am glad to think the Foreign Secretary has had the courage to send a message of hope to the new Italian Foreign Secretary. I am one of those, like quite a number, who have come back from Spain. After a short visit I would not presume to say very much. However, I have come to some quite definite conclusions—indeed, about some I had no doubt before. There is undoubtedly political persecution in Spain; there is poverty in Spain. I have made it clear before, both in this House and outside this House, that the methods of Franco repel me. I have also come to the clearest conclusion that nothing has so helped to establish Franco, as he is established now, as intervention from outside. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] [Laughter.] It is only since hon. Members opposite have come into this House that I have returned to the sort of public school atmosphere which I thought I had left with many thanks many years ago. The facetious laughter which arises from the benches opposite when serious issues are concerned brings back memories of the fourth and fifth forms.
I say to hon. Members opposite—because they can perhaps help in regard to the Spanish question more than anybody else—that there is no doubt at all, on the facts as I encountered them and heard about them, that the closing of the frontier between France and Spain—as recognised 1593 by the French people and by the anti-Spanish French — has become an absurdity. It has helped to make Franco a bit of a hero in Spain. Furthermore, there is no doubt at all that the people of Spain and the working classes in Spain are, especially the young ones, fearful, as is natural, of another civil war in Spain. It is true that the older members of the working classes, very largely and very naturally, think of the situation in terms of the bitternesses of the civil war, and in terms of the atrocities which were wrought upon them. But the younger members of the working classes in large numbers go so far, in a sense, to support Franco because they believe that he stands between them and civil war. In my judgment, intervention from without at this juncture can only bring the horrors of civil war to Spain in the worst possible form.
§ Mrs. Manning
I only want to ask the hon. Gentleman a question. When he speaks of intervention from outside, does he mean by a foreign Power, or intervention by the legitimate Government?
§ Mr. Beechman
I mean that intervention, armed intervention, by a foreign Power at this moment would bring civil war to the Spanish people. They are a proud people, who have great gifts to bestow on the world in art, literature, music. These gifts are all there still. Do not let us destroy them. But, on the other hand, I do think that visits by people, by hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies opposite, do very great good in Spain. The hon. Lady was helpful in mitigating sentences. I believe, in one or two cases. I wish to pay my tribute to the work done by our Embassy. One of the things we can do in Spain, no doubt, is to help people who are suffering this persecution to which I have referred. It is only fair to say that our Embassy watch these cases with care and in very many cases have been instrumental in seeing that death sentences have not been carried cut, or in lessening sentences in other ways; and I should like to say that, as far as I can judge, our Embassy is well in touch with all aspects of life in Spain.
1594 I think nothing but good can come of visits by people who by their presence are likely to encourage those in Spain who want to see freedom for Spain and who wish to see poverty abolished; and I am not sure that the Minister of Stale would not do well to consider sending a mission to Spain consisting of trades union leaders and others, who would officially go into Spain and make contact with the people who are thinking along these lines, so that they may be sustained, and, indeed, given protection in their work.
It is no good just stating that Liberalism should be sustained. It is no good thinking that it can be sustained in Spain in the same way that it has been in this country. Liberalism in this country was built up, after all, largely—not wholly—by Nonconformity and the middle classes. There is no Nonconformity in Spain and there is precious little of a middle class. Therefore, we have to allow these countries to build up their freedoms on the basis of their own traditions. In advocating that countries should work together, I want to see the qualities of individual nations preserved, and all that I do say, and all that I do pray, is that those individual qualities need no longer be marked by rivers of blood.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilkes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
There is a fairly definite way in which one can judge the success of a Minister in home affairs. If the Minister of Health does not build houses a hundred times more quickly than houses were built at the end of the first great war, then obviously the Minister of Health is failing in his job. If the export figures of the President of the Board of Trade do not rise quickly, then obviously the President of the Board of Trade is open to some criticism. But one of the tragedies of foreign policy is that there is no clearly objective way of judging whether foreign policy, at any particular moment, is meeting the needs of the situation or not. Consequently, those who study foreign policy are acutely conscious of the fact that, at the moment of British foreign policy's greatest failure during the last 25 years, it has gained its maximum popular support in this country—as at the time of Munich. I am suggesting that so far as Greece, Palestine, Spain and other 1595 countries are concerned, British foreign policy at the moment is suffering from paralysis, and is failing to perform the functions which we hoped it would perform.
I am acutely conscious of the tact that today we are living in a world whose moral standards are disintegrating. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I might say that I cannot quite understand the cheering of hon. Gentlemen opposite, whose foreign policy for the past 20 years has done more to destroy the world's moral standards than anything else. [Laughter.] I do ask hon. Gentlemen to be serious for a moment. We are all conscious of the fact that we are living in a very ugly world just now, in which more people are in concentration camps, more people live in terror, and more people are homeless than ever before in the world's history. For that, hon. Gentlemen whose policy did so much to produce the last great war are primarily responsible. I am fully conscious that the Foreign Secretary bears a great burden, but the cheers which greeted his speech today from the other side reaffirmed what I have felt for the last six months, namely, that he is failing to break with that lack of morality, with that regard for expediency, with that support for reaction and that negative policy on the part of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite which did so much to bring the world to disaster.
Let us be specific. I have heard hon. Gentlemen in this House making vague generalisations, but I want to be specific. In Greece—and I regard the Greek part of the Foreign Secretary's speech as grossly inadequate, and sometimes deliberately misleading—in the elections for the trade union movement 21 men were elected to executive positions. Those elections were held under the supervision of distinguished British trade unionists, and were also supervised by the World Federation of Trades Unions. Under a Metaxas law, those elections were not valid. For some technicality the Greek Government were not only quick enough to take advantage of this and declare these valid trade union elections invalid, but they went further than merely resciding them. They actually appointed, to 16 of the 21 executive positions, Royalist trade unionists who had been active during the German occupation. Only five positions on the new executive 1596 were given to the wing which, had been ratified by the World Federation of Trades Unions, as representing valid free trade unionism. The Government went further than merely declaring them invalid; they reappointed their stooges, and gaoled those of the free trades unions union movement because they objected to the position. This is only one pointer to what is going on in Greece. The Greek Government, and there are other Governments almost as bad in Europe—[Interruption.] Unlike hon. Members opposite, I am a little jealous of the good name of this country abroad. Because evil is done in other parts of the world, I do not like to justify evil which we ourselves are doing.
The British Military Mission in Greece is building up and training an army of three infantry divisions and one tank brigade. The mission has been in operation now for two years. One would have thought that the primary object would be to create a national Army, representative of all shades of political opinion. In fact, I have in my hand a letter from the Foreign Office which shows that there are 228 officers on active service with the Greek Army who were members of the quisling security battalions during the German occupation. If it is remembered that 228 of those officers took steps to join the quisling occupation troops, how many hundreds of the present officers in the Greek Army were at best acquiescent during the German occupation? The Foreign Office admits that only 191 officers at present on active service were members of the resistance movement. Is that the kind of army which the British Military mission ought to be creating in Greece?
Again and again, in this House, I have raised this question of the great predominance of quisling officers to whom we are giving training and providing tanks and equipment. Again and again, I hear the excuse that to intervene and make representations would be interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign State. Such considerations do not weigh with the Government when it comes to laying down conditions before we give financial aid to Poland. Why cannot we insist on decent conditions and behaviour being observed before pouring in financial aid and giving arms and tanks to this country? Why not do what we do to Poland and Yugoslavia, and say, "If you do not observe fair, elementary, decent conditions you shall 1597 not receive our aid"? This Government in Greece has been officially indicted by U.N.R.R.A. for misusing their food supplies for political and discriminatory purposes. It is rather a salutary thought that the only two Governments against which U.N.R.R.A. have brought this charge should be the Greek Government, which has been created by us, and the Chinese national Government, which is backed by America. Sometimes, when we get a little virtuous about governments supported by us and governments supported by the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, we would do well to remember these facts.
I want to know what is to be done regarding Greek affairs in the future. We have our British police and British Army advisers in Greece. The gendarmerie behaved so badly during the German occupation that Mr. Papandreou, before coming to Athens, in October, 1944, gave a pledge that they would be abolished. That pledge has not been fulfilled. It is six months ago since I brought to the attention of the Foreign Office that Sir Charles Wickham had admitted that he was not excluding members of the Right Wing organisation, but excluding all ex-members of E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. from taking positions in the gendarmerie. Every report, whether British, American or French, on the Greek political situation, has emphasised the lack of impartiality shown by the gendarmerie. That is entirely due to our British police advisers in Greece.
§ Mr. Wilkes
On the authority of two Members of the House and of officers with whom I served for nearly a year in Greece, and who later became members of the police mission in Greece. I am not making political propaganda, or retailing newspaper reports. I had a year in Greece and some few weeks under the last part of the German occupation. During 1598 the occupation of a country you find out who are Britain's friends and who are not. Today, we have a situation—and Members have seen it on the tape—where Greek army officers and N.C.Os. are being executed because they are warning the so-called bandits in the mountains of impending army drives against them. Over 50 men and women have been executed in Northern Greece during the last month. That is according to reports in "The Times" and the "Manchester Guardian." I would like to point out to the Minister of State, who is to reply to the Debate, that not one quisling of officer status has yet been executed in Greece, not one. Yet over 50 men and women of the Resistance have been executed recently in Northern Greece. We and our experts are apparently deeply enough committed in the affairs of Greece to receive discredit for the discreditable things which are done there, but we are not sufficiently committed, in an executive capacity and with the necessary authority, to be able to alter the course of events, and to insist that before aid is given decent conditions and behaviour should be observed by the forces supporting the Government. That is an entirely false position in which to place this Labour Government and the British people.
Why cannot we insist on conditions being observed in Greece, just as we insist on conditions being imposed in Poland, Yugoslavia and Albania? So long as the present situation continues, in which the choice is given to men of the Resistance between prison or going into the mountains or being exiled, they will go into the mountains, and people who are now called bandits will grow in numbers until we shall be faced with an explosive situation in which an international crisis will fast move towards an unhappy culmination. Therefore, I call on the Government to change their policy, and to insist on decent conditions being observed before further aid is given.
Since I happen to know Greece rather well, I should like to say this: If the British Government made it perfectly clear that no financial or armed aid would be given unless certain things are done, then those things would be done extraordinarily promptly. Let us take a look at what has been happening recently. The Chief of the Greek general staff, General Spiliotopoulos, was a colonel in the 1599 German gendarmerie throughout the German occupation; later, I am told by the Foreign Office that he became a British agent. I should like to know the date on which he became a British agent, because there are a great many politicians and generals in Greece who became British agents, to help us in 1943 and 1944 when the war had taken a turn. The men who are today being executed and victimised are the men who went into the mountains in 1941 and 1942 when our fortunes were at a low ebb. The Vice Premier of Greece, General Gonatas, has openly admitted that he recruited for the security battalions during the German occupation. Yet General Bakerdjis, who received the D.S.O. in the last war for services to the Allied cause, and was recommended for decoration in this war, is exiled to the islands, and General Gonatas, the recruiter and supporter of the security battalions, announces to the world, as Vice Premier of Greece, General Bakerdjis' exile.
I would earnestly beg my friends on the Front Bench to believe that our present foreign policy in Greece is making more members of the Communist Party in Greece than ever Mr. Zachiarides has been able to recruit. In absolute despair, we are driving the Greeks into two camps, and I want to suggest what lies at the bottom of this policy. We hoped that when the Labour Government was elected a Labour Foreign Secretary would realise that the answer to Communism is not support of Fascism or near-Fascism, but is the creation, support and working of an active Socialism. The answer to Mr. Zachiarides is not King George or Mr. Tsaldaris: the answer to Communism in Greece is in the hands of Professor Svolos, Mr. Sofianopoulos and Mr. Tsirimokis and the other Liberals in Greece, who by reason of their associations with the Venizelos Party are our historical friends and allies. The answer and the alternative to Franco is not Juan but support of Senors Negrin and Giral. We hope that the Foreign Secretary would realise this, and it seems to me we are treading dangerously into a situation where we are not only continuing the foreign policy of the right hon. Gentle-man the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) but we are going back to the days of Mr. Neville Chamberlain.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
Does the hon. Member realise that during the war even Communists in Spain feared more than anything else what they regarded as our sponsorship of Senor Negrin as indicative of our opposition to Spain as such?
§ Mr. Wilkes
I do not really understand that interruption. The answer to Communism is not support of Franco, of a police State in Portugal, or of the Grand Mufti. The answer to Communism, if there is an answer to it, is a working Socialism actively supported the world over, in Germany, in Eastern and Western Europe, and in the Mediterranean area. I would point out to the Minister of State that in the last year we have seen the dissolution of three trade union movements in the Mediterranean area. The Cyprus trade union movement has been dissolved, the Athens and Greek trade union movement has been dissolved, in Spain the trade unions have been dissolved, and in Palestine and Egypt trade union leaders have been gaoled.
It seems to me that more and more the Foreign Secretary is adopting a negative anti-Comintern policy, a policy whereby more and more that social and economic wellbeing which we hoped would be the basis of his foreign policy is becoming impossible to achieve, because of the fact that the forces upon whom he is relying in the Mediterranean area care nothing at all for economic reform. If ever it should, unhappily, come to a showdown between the Soviet Union and ourselves in the Mediterranean area, I want, as I am sure hon. Members on this side of the House want, this country to be supporting social forces that have some kind of answer to the future problems of the world and which can procure mass backing. If we rely upon forces such as the Grand Mufti, or King Farouk, or Sidky Pasha instead of the Arab, trade unionists, whose movement was dissolved less than six months ago, if we rely upon antiquated and antediluvian forces like that, we shall find ourselves in the same miserable position as the party opposite found themselves at Munich, a position which they appear, for some obscure reason, to glorify and wish to perpetuate.
I wish to make an appeal to the Minister of State. I know that he personally is anxious about the way things are moving, as indeed we all are. From 1933 1601 until 1939 we Labour Members tried to persuade hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the League of Nations was not some vargue and visionary ideal, and that it was actually the only way of defending the British Empire in the present state of the balance of power in the world. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite dismissed that, they thought it was vague, visionary and idealistic, and they were practical men. How practical they were. Today we have to realise that support of the forces of Socialism and Democracy the world over is not visionary and idealistic; it is the only way—when British power has in material terms diminished—in which we can make our moral position felt throughout the world. By backing those forces which have no future, the forces of Tsaldaris, the Grand Mufti, Franco and the rest of them, we shall sacrifice our moral position in the world, just as the facts of our economic life have forfeited our one-time economic predominance.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Central Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Wilkes) in the tongue-twisting Greek names he mentioned, but when it is a question of moral issues, I would remind him that many hon. Members on this side were just as opposed to appeasement in the days before the war as any hon. Members opposite. I would remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friends the Members for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) were in opposition to the Government before the war. In addition, they did something far more effective than the 15 members of the present Cabinet who voted against the National Service Act in April, 1939. I am glad to say that that number did not include the present Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
Did not 87 Members of the party opposite refuse to vote for the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) becoming Prime Minister in May, 1940?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I would also point out that the remarks of the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates) appeared to me to be following along very much the same lines. He seemed to be maintaining first of all that he believed that we should abolish conscription in this country and that he would prefer permanent domination by a foreign Power to a period of 18 months to two years' conscription under the present Government. Perhaps he knows the hidden objects of the projects of his party better than we on this side of the House, but I hope that was not what he meant He appeared also to say that he believed in punishing the Germans not by making them pay reparations, but by giving them a "dose of Socialist planning." I hope he was in the House to hear the very remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) on crypto-Communism. If the hon. Member for Ladywood misunderstood (he difference between a Bolshevist and a crypto-Communist, had he heard that speech he would have known the difference.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I remember being present in this House last July, listening to a speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), when he spoke of one of the most remarkable things—in the 12 months following the last General Election—being the change of opinion in this country towards Russia and seeing on the Government side of the House those who indicated their clear approval and those who looked out of the windows or anywhere else they could rather than show approval of that statement. By recording those nodding heads and other signs of approval one could have drawn the line between crypto-Communists and, as we like to think of them, the stout-hearted Labour supporters of the Government.
§ Major Bramall (Bexley)
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that anyone who differs from the Foreign Secretary's policy is necessarily a crypto-Communist?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I was not suggesting any such thing, but was referring to one aspect of the opposition to the right hon. Gentleman There are two constructive points I wish to make to the Minister of State who is to reply to this Debate. The first is in relation to the subject of what the Americans call "fellow travellers" and what we in this country refer to as "crypto-Communists." It may surprise some hon. Members opposite to know that in many parts of the United States this Government is regarded as the most imperialistic we have had for some 50 years. This is largely due to the one-sided propaganda which is going on, particularly in regard to Palestine, and to the sensationalising of the news of the Calcutta riots and misunderstanding of such orders as Mr. Nehru's that villages in the North West Province should no longer be bombed. But the net result is that there are large bodies of opinion in the United States which regard this Government as very imperialistic, and it is doing considerable harm, not to Socialist Party prestige—of which I, for one, am not particularly mindful—but to British prestige generally in the United States. I am an absolutely unashamed supporter of Anglo-American relations; I believe they are fundamental to the future of the world and to democracy as we see it.
As the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieutenant Crawley) pointed out earlier this afternoon, we may agree or disagree with certain aspects of the American Government's foreign policy from time to time, but it is a democratic country supporting the general way of life in which we believe in this country. I would, therefore, urge that the Minister of State should consider strengthening, as well as he can, the existing information services in the United States, with a view to selling not Socialism, but the general background of British policy. I believe this is most important. The existing services are doing their best with the resources at their disposal—in fact they are doing a very fine job—but I believe that still more can be done, and it would be a very good investment of such money and personnel as we can spare to send to that country.
The other point to which I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of State concerns the other side of the world—the 1604 Middle East. Here again I believe that friendly British relations with the Arab-Moslem world are one of the keystones of our policy for all time. I believe we can maintain that policy whatever happens, and that we can keep the basic friendship of the Arab-Moslem world which extends now from Calcutta to Casablanca. It is of the greatest possible importance to us. Clouds may come across our relations but I believe we can solve the passing problems, that of Palestine for instance, and I believe we can and should come to a satisfactory settlement with Egypt. But I beg the Minister of State to give the House a reassurance that we will not in this particular instance purchase our freedom of action and our defence position in that part of the world at the expense of the Sudan.
In March of this year the Foreign Secretary gave an assurance that there would be no change of suzerainty in that country without consulting the people of the Sudan. Having had the privilege of serving for some 10 years in that country I believe that less than one per cent. of the Sudanese wish to see a return of Egyptian suzerainty in any form. A certain number may do so for personal reasons, but by and large an absolutely overwhelming majority of people in that country do not want to see Egyptian suzerainty perpetuated. May I ask the Secretary of State to give another assurance, when replying to the Debate, that we will not purchase our defence position in the Near East at the expense of the long-term interests of the Sudanese?
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Chamberlain (Norwood)
I want to turn, as some other hon. Members have done, to the subject of Spain. The Foreign Secretary did not refer to it in his speech but that was not, I am sure, because he feels that there is not a great interest in the subject. Indeed, I know he is well aware of the very great importance of the subject of Spain and I think that probably he did not deal with it because he knew that it had been dealt with a week ago in an Adjournment Debate. I am sure he and every hon. Member in this House would agree that it is indeed a subject of the greatest importance and moment, particularly in view of the fact that it is to be dealt with in a few days time at a meeting of the United Nations.
1605 Like certain other hon. Members, I spent a couple of weeks in Spain quite recently. I went for one purpose only, because I felt that one Should seek to know the truth, to find the truth as best one could, and then to say what one found. Before I went, I received categorical assurances that I could go wherever I liked, talk to whomsoever I liked and say whatever I liked, and that I would be entirely free both there and here to report, criticise and comment. That assurance was fully implemented—
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge)
In order that we may get a fair picture, may I ask under whose auspices this was, and who paid the expenses of the visit?
§ Mr. Chamberlain
With pleasure. The Spanish Government themselves offered to invite my wife and myself as their guests. I said that I preferred not to have that. They suggested that a tourist bureau of Spain, which had funds available for inviting visitors, would be very glad to pay the expenses and to welcome me as their guest. I should be glad to do that anywhere provided I got the undertakings, which I had in this case, that I should be entirely free to criticise, to go where I liked and to say what I liked. It Moscow invited me to go in the same way, and gave the same assurances, I should be very glad to accept. I hope that any hon. Member would have the courage and the strength of mind to do it in that way and not to imagine that because he went under certain auspices, he was under an obligation to those who invited him.
I have the advantage of speaking Spanish, rather badly but sufficiently well to carry on conversations without external aid. Throughout Spain I carried on conversations with all and sundry—all ranks and levels, shopkeepers, factory workers, people in the street, and farmers. I want to make this very clear because I have certain other observations to make. In my view and the view of most hon. Members, civil war brings horrors and bloodshed and there are regrettable actions on both sides of which those who take part would wish afterwards to be ashamed. That was true in France and in our own country, and is always true. I want to say quite clearly that in my view the Spanish regime is an entirely undemocratic regime. It is a sort of regime which 1606 we would not wish to see in this country, and which we do not wish to see in Spain. I hope and believe that, in due course, the regime in Spain will be changed, but having said that, and underlined it in case anybody mistakes it and my very strongly held view that it is not democratic and not good, I want to say quite clearly that it is quite untrue to say that it is brutal and tyrannical. My contacts convinced me quite clearly that that is not true. To say that Franco is tottering is just wishful thinking. We may wish it, but it is not a fact.
Lastly and above all, to suggest that the Spaniards want intervention of any kind is pure moonshine. I spoke to people in all quarters, to Communists, Trotskyists and Socialists, but in not one case was the wish expressed to risk the horrors of a further civil war. They want no kind of intervention by ourselves, by the Giral Government or from any other source—
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether a picture of his somewhat striking face was published in the Spanish Press at the time of his arrival?
§ Mr. Chamberlain
I do not know what pictures there were. I do not think my face is prominent or striking enough to have any effect in Spain, nor do I think that it was important to the public in Spain. The point I am making—I must reiterate it because I want the Foreign Secretary to understand the position clearly—is that I do not believe in and do not agree with the regime in Spain but that at the same time" it is futile and absurd to suggest that any kind of intervention—blockade, arms or by any other means—will succeed, or will be welcomed there in any quarter whatever. We have heard in this House recently lurid stories about armed persons at every comer of Madrid, ready to drag people off to gaol at the least provocation, I was in Madrid at all times of the day and night and I was also in Barcelona, Burgos and Bilbao, and I say that that statement is absolutely untrue. Even at Burgos, where Franco came to celebrate his tenth anniversary, it was not a military demonstration. Certainly, there were soldiers on horseback but we have that kind of thing when we have our Lord Mayor's Show, and the demonstration was preceded by all kinds of local dancing groups and so on. It was not a militarist 1607 parade, and I was stopped by only one policeman when I wanted to get into the hall where Franco was speaking. There was an Irish journalist in the hall ten steps from Franco, and I asked him how he got in.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
He said that he got in without anybody attempting to stop him. I mention these things, not because I approve of the régime—I do not—but to try to put a clear picture before the House. It is best to face the facts. Although there is a black market there, as there was in Belgium where I was last week, and as there is in most places, efforts are being made to stamp it out. Also, I visited the most up-to-date hospitals, medical aid societies, cooperatives, and day nurseries, and I saw a great deal of housing, of which, indeed, our own Minister of Health might well be proud. I saw all that in Burgos, in Pamplona, outside Barcelona, and in various towns. We must face the fact that there is a lot of progressive, useful work going on in the country for the workers. It is said that we should break off diplomatic representations—
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Brentford and Chiswick)
Before my hon. Friend gets on to another point, may I ask him a question? He has told us that there is no police terror and that a great deal of progressive work is being done by the Spanish Government. He then told us that he thinks the régime is bad. Can he tell us why he thinks there is anything wrong in it?
§ Mr. Chamberlain
Yes, because I think any régime not based upon democratic principles is not a good one. They may be providing hospitals, and so on, and yet it may be a régime which is in no way democratic. There is nothing inconsistent, then, in saying that that is a régime with which I disagree but, let us be truthful about it, they are doing some useful things. I am only trying to paint a fair picture. If we break off diplomatic relations, they are a proud people, as an hon. Gentleman said, and if the object of my hon. Friends in suggesting the breaking off of diplomatic relations is to overthrow Franco, I assure them that is the very last 1608 way they ought to go about it. They will never achieve their object in that way. He is not rocking on his feet, however much we may like to think so. In a general way he is accepted by all classes of the community, even those who belong to other parties and who wish to change the régime. They agree that, for the time being, there is an opportunity, a breathing space for them to build up their funds, and so—
§ Mr. Chamberlain
May I finish my sentence?—to suggest intervention in the way of breaking diplomatic relations as a way to overthrow Franco is entirely futile.
§ Mr. Orbach
Perhaps my hon. Friend will tell me which parties, other than the Falangist Party, are legal today?
§ Mr. Chamberlain
Whether they are legal or not, they exist. I met Communists, Trotskyists, and various grades of Socialists. Whether they are legal or not, they have their meetings. They told me exactly what party they belonged to, and they informed me that they have their meetings and that they exist as parties. Whether they are legal or not, I do not know.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
May I get on with my speech? My hon. Friend can make his own speech in his own way. Then there is the other suggestion that Spain should be blockaded for imports and exports. Again I say they are a proud people, and they would immediately rally around Franco if we tried to do that kind of thing. It was suggested that Spain is going to export a substantial amount of food. Unfortunately they had always to import a considerable amount of grain even in past years. They might export a little olive oil. The fact of the matter is that they have very little to export in the way of food, and if this blockade were imposed we should be cutting off our nose to spite our face, because we would be stopping the export of oranges, wines, tinned fish, and other things.
I want to make perfectly clear what my position is. I dislike the form of government, but I like to keep my feet on the ground, and face facts, not fancies. 1609 Criticism is welcome, hut let us keep a balanced judgment in these things. I suggest to the Foreign Secretary that we should stop talking about any idea of intervention, and get busy with the much more important matter of trade. That would be better for the peoples of both countries. Although we talk a lot about Governments, it is the people of the countries who matter. Do not let them become pawns in this game as is suggested by some hon. Members, but for the sake of the peoples of both countries let us forget the business of intervention and get on with trade in their interests.
§ 10.18 p.m.
§ Major Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
We have just listened to a fair-minded and impartial speech on Spain by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain). There seems to have been quite a considerable exodus from the party opposite to that part of the world during the Recess. But the hon. Member for Norwood, and the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) seemed to differ on more points than one. That, whereas one hon. Member went under his own name, the other appears to have gone under another name.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker
I would be grateful if the hon. and gallant Member would say exactly what he means, because there have been misleading reports in the Press, and a lot has been said about my visit. Would he make his meaning perfectly plain?
§ Major Mott-Radclyffe
I have no information further than what I read in a large number of newspapers, namely, that the hon. Member went to Spain during the Recess, crossed the frontier, I think from France, under a false name, and with false papers. If that report was wrong, I must apologise for having accepted what a large number of papers reported as being the facts.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I think the hon. and gallant Member must apologise. If he had read "The Times" not very long ago, he would have seen that I wrote a letter explaining the circumstances, and he would see that I did not travel to Spain under a false name, nor with false papers.
§ Major Mott-Radclyffe
Certainly, if I have done the hon. Member an injustice in any sense, I will withdraw it. I still do not quite understand from what source the Press derived the original accounts.
We listened earlier this afternoon to a first-hand account by the Foreign Secretary of the events which took place at the Peace Conference in Paris. I think we should congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the part he played. If both agreement and success were limited, certainly no blame can be laid at the door of the right hon. Gentleman's suite in his Paris hotel. I think the question which is uppermost in the minds of most of our fellow countrymen who followed events in Paris is, in the first place, whether the Soviet Union genuinely desires to rebuild Europe in conjunction with her Allies, or, whether, on the other hand, she is determined to erect a wholly different structure of her own making. If she is bent upon the latter course, it is difficult to see what further action His Majesty's Government or the Government of the United States could take to convince the Soviet Union' that we desire, as genuinely we do, her cooperation. Not long ago Marshal Stalin gave an interview to a newspaper correspondent, Mr. Alexander Werth, which was acclaimed by all and sundry as marking a turning point, a new era of cooperation between ourselves and the Soviet Union. The Press of a multitude of nations seized upon his phrases as a drowning man will grasp some floating object. This was accompanied, a few days later, by a fresh assault upon Great Britain by M. Molotov in Paris, by a further Note to Turkey demanding exclusive participation with Turkey in the defence of the Dardanelles and by an intensified war of nerves against Greece, a former Ally and a country to which Russia has every reason to be grateful, because it is at least probable that the Greek campaign of 1940–41 so retarded the German timetable, in their onslaught on the Soviet Armies at the crucial moment, as to make the whole difference to the course of her campaign to the East in the autumn of that year.
To accept the arguments advanced by Moscow is to accept the view that a monopoly of truth and a monopoly of democracy belong to the Soviet Union, and that no elections are free unless the Communist Party gets a majority. Alone, apparently, among the great Powers, the Soviet 1611 Union is innocent of any imperialistic design. If we, in seeking to fulfil treaty obligations with Egypt, endeavour to negotiate a fresh agreement for the joint defence of the Canal, through which, as the Foreign Secretary said earlier, the ships of all nations may pass freely, and which is, after all, an area vital to the security of Imperial communications, we are, apparently, guilty of an outworn imperialistic policy. But if the Soviet Union asks for bases in the Dardanelles or seeks to monopolise the control of navigation on the Danube she is inspired by no such base motives as she attributes to us. That kind of propaganda cuts little ice in the countries outside the "iron curtain". The right hon. Gentleman has done well to rebut with such vigour these allegations against us, and though he requires no encouragement from a humble back bencher like myself, I would say that the force with which he rebutted those arguments carried a great deal of weight amongst our friends in Europe who used to listen clandestinely to the B.B.C. during the war.
Against this background one must view the treaties with ex-enemy countries. The signature of a peace treaty necessarily involves recognition of the Government of the country concerned and a return to normal diplomatic relations. But under the terms of the Moscow Agreement certain conditions were required to be fulfilled. In the case of Bulgaria in particular, a country which I visited under less happy financial conditions than those enjoyed by the hon. Member for Norwood in Spain, the Moscow Agreement is still in thin air. As I understand it, both His Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States attached the normal interpretation to this Agreement, namely, that democracy was to be established in Bulgaria by the inclusion in the Government of two Opposition members who were to be active partners. The two Opposition members demanded, as a condition of their entry into the Government, first, that the Ministry of the Interior should be held by a non-Communist, and, secondly, that the militia, or the police, should be under neutral control. Those two demands were reasonable enough in view of the treatment meted out to the Opposition Agrarian and Socialist-Democrat parties by the militia. They were refused point blank by Mr. Vyshinsky 1612 during his visit to Sofia on the ground that, according to his interpretation of the Moscow Agreement, the Opposition were not allowed to attach any condition whatever to their return to the Government. But the only reason why the bulk of the Agrarian and Socialist parties left the Government in which they had originally participated, together with the Communists, to form the Fatherland Front—a political combination which brought the Bulgarian Army into the war on the Allied side—was because they were unwilling to continue as "stooges" in a completely Communist controlled Government. As the leaders of both the Opposition Socialist and Agrarian parties explained to me, to return into the Government on Mr. Vyshinsky's invitation, without attaching any conditions, would have been to surrender all their principles and to blacken their good name by associating themselves with what they described to me as "a reign of terror."
I am glad that I do not belong to one of the Bulgarian Opposition Parties, because elections are to be held next Sunday, and under a "Law for the Defence of the People's Powers," anybody can be arrested for statements which are "calumnious, or likely to create mistrust of the Government or any of its economic enterprises." I wonder how some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite would have conducted an election campaign had a similar law been in force in this country last year. In particular, I wonder how the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health would have fared, if he had made some of the speeches which we recollect in the last Parliament—so full of strategic wisdom and so helpful to the war effort.
In Bulgaria today, the Opposition newspapers, although they are published and enjoy a very wide circulation, are frequently suppressed for from five to 10 or 15 days without any reason being given. Many would-be candidates at the elections are still under arrest. I must confess that I found great difficulty in discovering whether broadcasting facilities would be available to the Opposition. I was assured by the Prime Minister that they would be available; I was told by the Minister of Information that the Opposition parties would not be allowed to broadcast. I was given three completely conflicting replies to a similar question which I put 1613 in the course of an interview with that well known and powerful Communist figure in the Balkans, Mr. George Dmitrov.
There are two questions which I would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State. In "The Times" today there is an account of an exchange of notes between the American officials and Bulgarian and Russian representatives on the subject of the impending elections on Sunday. The United States representative requested freedom of the Press and radio for the Opposition, non-interference by the militia, either with candidates or voters except to maintain law and order, release of political prisoners and elimination of any possible threat of post-election retaliation for political reasons. These demands seem to me to be demands with which hon. Members on all sides of this House would wish to associate themselves. However, according to "The Times" report, this note was delivered by the United States representative only. Did His Majesty's Government make similar representations, and if not, why not?
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman a second question, and to accompany it with an appeal which I make with all the sincerity of which I am capable. For the sake of Great Britain's good name, for the sake of those in Bulgaria who suffered persecution at the hands of the pro-Nazi Government and who are now suffering persecution under a Communist Government, and who are displaying great physical courage—I use that phrase deliberately—in continuing to state their point of view openly, and who are casting anxious glances in the direction of Great Britain and the United States of America as being the only two remaining power stations of real freedom, will the right hon. Gentleman in conjunction with the United States Government make one thing perfectly clear? Whatever may be the outcome of the draft peace treaties to be discussed in the near future by the Foreign Ministers' Council, will His Majesty's Government and the United States Government state in categorical terms that, though formal recognition may have to be accorded to the Bulgarian Government which results from Sunday's elections, as soon as the Peace Treaty is signed, recognition of that Government does not signify approval unless the elections are free? If we do not make this clear, then 1614 we shall have no defence against those who will accuse us of having abandoned our expressed ideals.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Pargiter (Spelthorne)
It is perfectly true that very few people in the world today believe in the imminence of a third world war, but it is probably equally true that millions of people have a profound sense of disquiet in viewing the field of international events today. While we have had a masterly exposition of the facts and of our hopes and aspirations from the Foreign Secretary, I do not think it will materially alter that feeling of disquiet, a feeling which started largely at the time when it was decided that the atom bomb should remain an American secret. Although people deplored the effect of Russian suspicions, it is clear that, while we are all in the same boat together, and have to do our best to get out of difficulties, it is unlikely that the suspicions that existed during the inter-war period will suddenly be washed away. What we really want, and we want it from the combined Foreign Secretaries, is something indicative of a vital policy, which will really get rid of these suspicions and show some practical sign that each of the Powers is no longer pursuing a policy designed in its own particular interests.
We have, on the one hand, Left-wing opinion in this country suggesting that we are being dragged at the heels of American Imperialism, and on the other Left-wing opinion in America suggesting that they are being dragged at the heels of British Imperialism. None of this tends at all to ease the suspicions that exist in the world today. Equally, one must feel some disquiet at the chances of the United Nations organisation in view of the suspicions existing today. Quite frankly, I would like to see someone start something in the nature of a new movement. I would like some Foreign Secretary to say "I am not so much concerned with my own particular country except as it fits in with the general framework of the whole of the nations of the world." I feel that it is time that someone said to America and Panama, that the Panama Canal should be under the direction and defence of the United Nations organisation, and that someone should say to Russia and Turkey that the same should apply to the Dardanelles. And again it is time to say that the 1615 same should happen with regard to the Suez and Singapore; I believe that if we could get this sort of thing, with some degree of community of purpose between the major Powers, there would be a real chance of a future which would be free from the fear of war. I think we must make up our minds that we are not free from that fear at the present time. We shall never get free from it if we keep on as we are going at the present time. But it may be possible, if we get some method by which the major Powers will amend their present stategy in favour of the whole world and not each a part of it.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
I believe I bring this very long Debate to a close for tonight, and I am sure we agree we have all had a very exhausting day. [Interruption.] It may well be that the hon. Member opposite will get his share, if he stops interrupting. It must be fairly obvious to anyone that we are now getting towards the finish. There has been a certain air of unreality about this Debate today. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was very long and, I hope he will not mind my saying so, very dull. I think the whole House was almost prostrate with boredom by the time he had finished. In the course of nearly two hours, he seemed to me to say one thing of real interest—something we had not all read in the newspapers for many weeks past. That one thing was that His Majesty's Government do intend to revive German industry. I think that is a very important thing, because Germany is to-day, as always, the key to the European problem. Whether they intend to revive German industry by nationalising it, or in some other way, is of comparatively minor importance as against the major fact that they do intend to do something to bring about the industrial recovery of Germany. But this was about the only really important thing, I thought, that the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the Peace Conference. He gave a long report. The "New York Herald Tribune" gave a briefer and rather different report; and I think the "New York Herald Tribune's" account was rather more accurate than that of the right hon. Gentleman. The "Herald Tribune" said: 1616The Paris Peace Conference died very much as it had lived, in a final, small, but angry blaze of total disagreement.That is a rather more accurate summing up than the one given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Although we may not be much further back, we are not one inch further on. There is no sign of a real peace settlement; and no sign of genuine Polish or Austrian independence—in fact, I think it must be said that the state of affairs, from our point of view, in both Poland and Austria, is absolutely intolerable. The independence of Austria was one of the declared political objectives of the Allies while the war was on. We are apt to forget that; and we are also sometimes apt to forget the fact we went to war for the independence of Poland. Russia remains in absolute control of the whole of Europe, East of the Stettin-Trieste line, and of a non-Russian population of well over 100 millions in that area. There the values of Western democratic civilisation as we know them, are being systematically destroyed, and bureaucratic absolutism established.
§ Mr. Boothby
It is about half way, just on the border line. It is on the edge. You can draw the line where you like, the fact nevertheless remains that Russia has got in her complete control, and at her absolute disposal, the whole of Eastern Europe. That is the sequel, and, so far, the only sequel to the second world war. From our point of view it is not an entirely satisfactory one. Reference has been made to the Treaty of Versailles. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) that the Versailles settlement compares very favourably with anything we have managed to achieve up to date. There were howls from the Left when the Treaty of Versailles was debated. But, looking back on it, it was a paradise of liberalism, of toleration, of fairness and mercy, by comparison with anything that is going on at the present time. Furthermore, one year after the Armistice in 1918 the Treaty of Versailles had been signed, and we had some kind of settlement and order in Europe. It has been maintained today that it is better to set up the United Nations organisation than to make peace; and that the mistake of Versailles was to make 1617 peace first and to set up the League of Nations afterwards. I venture to suggest that that is entirely untrue. I think it is far better to make peace first, and then try to set up an international organisation. I do not believe that U.N.O. will be worth anything until peace is made. Furthermore, had the much-abused Versailles Treaty been implemented by the Governments who signed it, it would have prevented a second world war.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Will the hon. Member tell the House of the crookedness that went on behind the scenes after the first world war? It has at least been dragged into the open after this one.
§ Mr. Boothby
I do not think that that is a great advantage either. If there is going to be crookedness—and it seems that there must be an element of it—I am not sure that it is not better to conceal it rather than to haul it out for public gaze. It only exasperates tempers.
I must say that I am getting a little sick and tired of the phrase so often repeated—and repeated by the right hon. Gentleman today—that "we must restore the unity of purpose of the great Powers. This is a phrase which is now being used on all hands. "We must get back to our wartime unity of purpose." Except for the purpose of defeating Hitler, that unity of purpose never existed. And, in the nature of things, it could never have existed, because between totalitarianism and social democracy there can be no compromise. I have a great respect for the Communists. I respect them for their single-mindedness and also for their power, which is very great in the world at the present time. I do not agree with them because I happen to be anti-totalitarian. I do not think that ends justify means; I do not think that one party or one person has a monopoly of wisdom. I abhor dogma in any shape or form; and I do not think that anyone has an ethical right to impose one iota of additional or unnecessary suffering upon humanity for the sake of a hypothetical millennium, either in this world or the next. That is just how I happen to think. The genuine Communist thinks the opposite; he believes all these things, and is fully entitled to his view. He has at least got intellectual integrity. There are others who have not got the guts to join the Communists, who profess the 1618 democratic faith and yet fawn in abject subservience on the Kremlin in Moscow. They have been faithfully dealt with by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), and I have nothing to add to what he said.
There is another phrase which gets me down—"The democratic peace-loving nations' —when applied both to the Soviet Union and their satellites, and to the Western democracies. The Soviets do not believe in democracy as we understand it; and they do believe in the class war. So it seems to me to be very difficult to describe them as either peace-loving or democratic. They have made all this quite clear. They made it clear at San Francisco, at Potsdam and recently in Paris. This clash between Russian Communism and Western democracy is the most important, significant and anxious business in the world today; and I submit that it can only end in the discovery of some modus vivendi between the two, or in a third world war. That is what everybody knows, and that is what this Debate and every other Debate on foreign affairs is about. Can we solve this problem or can we not? If we cannot solve it we shall have another world war which may very well end in the complete extermination of the human race. That is the plain risk with which we are confronted, and it is time we faced it.
I have been at some pains, because it is important, to try to discover the motives of the Soviet Government in the present situation. I think it is important to study the views of their writers and journalists who are usually the mouthpieces of the Politbureau. Quite recently, Professor Varga, who is the acknowledged mouthpiece of Stalin, said in a publication called "World Economy and Politics" that the Communist parties of Europe were the backbone of "a new type of democracy," essentially anti-capitalist and anti-reformist; and he went on:The fact that the Soviet Union and highly developed capitalist States were in the same camp against Hitlerite aggression meant that the struggle of the two systems inside the democratic camp was relaxed, and temporarily stopped. It did not mean that the struggle was ended. The Allies helped the Soviet Union, but never forgot the difference in their social systems. Now in the post-war period the preservation of capitalism is their main aim, and reformist Socialists are used as useful auxiliaries to 1619 this end. The fact that the Labour Party is in office is very convenient for mobilising reformist groups in Europe to serve capitalist aims, such as opposing Communists wherever possible,That is Professor Varga's view, and it is important that we should know it and think about it. Then there is a paper called "The Bolshevik," which said a fortnight ago that there is nothing in common between the social democratic parties of Western Europe and Soviet Communism, and made frequent references to "Eastern European Socialism." That paper regards this country as merely a junior partner of the United States of America in their plans for achieving a world hegemony through dollar diplomacy, and more so than ever since the passage of the American loan. There are also constant references in a paper called "New Times" to "the stern struggle for domination over Germany."
In Russia itself there have recently been substantial purges, and an ideological as well as a military mobilisation. Recent directives issued in Moscow to authors and composers have directed them todisclose in their works the nature of capitalism, to fight its corrupting influence, and explain the character of modern imperialism.Authors like Zoshchenko and Akhmatova have been bracketed in the Soviet Press with Somerset Maugham, who is regarded in the most exalted Soviet circles as the absolute end. Even the composer Shoshtakovich was hauled over the coals, and found himself in very hot water over his last symphony, which was considered not to be ideologically sound from the Soviet point of view. All this is surely proof that in the minds of the Kremlin the struggle against the West has entered upon a more intensive phase, and we must try to understand why this should be. Marx bequeathed to the Politbureau the sense of being continually at war; and to the proselytising drive of international Communism, Stalin has added the whole force and power of Russian nationalism and Pan-Slavism. In addition to this, there is enough of the Marxist dialectic left in Moscow to convince them that a "show-down" must come with the bourgeois capitalist democracies of, the West, because they have no alternative except to go to war. That is the essence of the dialectic, and we must have it fixed in our 1620 minds. I am trying to be quite fair, because I want to understand the motives of the Soviet Government. In addition to this, they are painfully aware of the existence of the atom bomb. We ought not to forget that. Finally, they see in the Pacific the strategic bases of the United States of America; and on top of that, and accompanying it, they see the United States reverting to an economic policy of complete laissez faire.
I only want to point out to the House that there are elements of very great danger in this situation. What are we to do? I submit that our policy should be twofold. First, to try to stop the spread of totalitarianism to a point which makes an explosion inevitable; secondly, to prevent the Klassen-Kampf developing into a Klassen-Krieg. Those seem to me to be the two most important objectives of our policy so far as this fundamental question is concerned. I am sure we shall not do it by pursuing a policy of appeasement. We tried that before, and many of us were in this House and watched it going on. It really does not do; one "buys" it in the end, if one pursues a policy of flat-out appeasement. If we choose to do so, I suppose we can abandon a great many principles and a great many people, as well as the values of Western civilisation. That is what it seems to me Mr. Henry Wallace is inviting us to do at the present time. I am sure that this is not the answer.
I think we must now adopt an altogether different method of approach to this problem. For a whole year now—and I am glad the Minister of State is here—we have struggled, without the slightest success, to dislodge the Russians from the areas where they have all the power, and where we have no power at all. That has been the main objective of our foreign policy; to get them out of places where they exercise absolute power, and where we exercise no power of any kind. In the areas where we have power, all over the world, we have achieved precisely nothing. Our eyes have been fixed upon Trieste, upon the Danube, upon Rumanian oil; and they have been as steadfastly averted from Hamburg, from the Rhine, and from German steel—until this afternoon. Small wonder that we have failed. I also think it is about time we made up our minds, and got it into our heads, that majority decisions, minority rights, appeals to "world 1621 opinion," and all the other devices upon which our diplomacy has relied for the last 12 months, just do not mean a thing to the Russians. It is really no use bawling at them in public; they only bawl back, in language that we do not understand—and the last state is worse than the first. It is, I submit, rather significant that the only sphere in which, and the only occasion upon which, we have achieved really successful cooperation with the Soviet Union in the last 12 months has been at the Nuremberg trial—and that cooperation was achieved in private, and not in public with the Press, the radio, and the photographers of the world carrying on their antics all the time.
I do not believe that public dispute on rostrum after rostrum, first in Paris, then in New York, and then back again to Fort Success or Lake something else, or wherever it may be, is the way to conduct difficult and important international negotiations. I am afraid I never shall believe that is the way to do it, particularly with an Oriental Power like Russia.
Finally, I think it is time we got rid of the "one-world" illusion. World unity requires a common concept about how the world is to be run. At the moment that concept does not exist. Why do we go on pretending that there is no division between Eastern and Western Europe at the present time? It just is not true As Professor Saurat wrote in "The Times" some weeks ago:those who profess to try to avoid this division close their eyes to the fact that it is now in being. Our problem is to make the two camps collaborate. In order to collaborate both must exist. Western Europe must be created. We have the elements of the solution, if we have the will.That is the opinion of a most distinguished French professor. Some kind of integration must come in Europe, politically and economically, or Europe will perish. If it does not come voluntarily, another attempt will be made to impose this integration by force, just as it was in 1939. That is the real and fundamental danger—that history will repeat itself, that Stalin may make the same mistake as Hitler, and regard the present paralytic impotence and division of the Western democracies as evidence of total and fatal weakness. This is the real danger. He would have every excuse for thinking so, as well as the authority of Marx. Yet nothing is more certain than that an attempt at Communist domination over 1622 the whole Continent of Europe would lead directly to the third World War. And that is what I am so desperately anxious to avoid.
There is only one way, in my view, to secure a modus vivendi between us and Communist Russia—that the democracies of Western Europe, including Germany, unite. Let them define their essential interests. Let them stand firm in defence of them, and prove to the ruler of the Kremlin, by deeds rather than by words, that they are not going to attack them, because they do not have to. And let them make it perfectly plain that there is a line beyond which it is impossible to go. That is what we never did with Hitler; or, rather, we were so weak and impotent—almost, although not quite, as weak as we are now—that Hitler, not unnaturally, concluded there were no limits to which he could not go. This is what may happen again. The Socialist weekly, the "Tribune," last week said with regard to the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), that it regards himwith the tolerant objectivity which is reserved for the figures of a bygone age.Presumably, it takes the same view of Field-Marshal Smuts. But I would say to the House tonight, that when two men of the experience, the vast experience, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford and Field-Marshal Smuts speak with the same voice, it is time for tormented and tortured humanity to listen. There is something to be said for the United States of Europe. If we are to have it, let us begin small, and build from the bottom upwards; because, if we do not build from the bottom upwards, we shall be likely to find we have not constructed any building at all. Let us keep the goal steadily in front of us—the revival of the Concert of Europe, and the preservation of European civilisation; the substitution of the reign of force by the rule of law. But let us lay the foundations on the reality of groups of nations which have cultural, political, economic, and strategic interests in common.
§ Mr. Warbey
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him whether it would be unfair to say, that what be has suggested is that a revived German iron and steel industry should form the spearhead of our anti-Communist front?
§ It being Eleven o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Collindridge.]