§ 3.46 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
As the House of Commons has not had a Debate on foreign affairs since 23rd October, His Majesty's Government have taken the best possible steps to keep the House informed by issuing White Papers setting forth the events that have occurred, and I think the Committee is pretty well aware of recent developments in the international field. I will, however, run briefly over some of the ground, but I am afraid that I cannot add very much that is new.
2291 In the first place I will make a reference to the peace Treaties. Perhaps the best feature of the treaties is that in the cases of Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Finland and Italy they represent the end of the technical state of war. When these Treaties are ratified—and I expect them to be ratified shortly—normality will be allowed to return to these countries, and relationships will be free to be developed on a much more rational basis. We have done what we could in the meantime to develop our own relationship with these countries. We gave recognition to the Governments of Italy, Rumania, Hungary and Finland many months ago and, on nth February, we recognised the Bulgarian Government. Ratification of these Treaties will also give us an opportunity of withdrawing our troops—which, in the case of Venezia Giulia, now represent a total of 45,000 men—and thereby enable us to continue the planned process of releasing men from occupation duties for the productive work for which they are so sorely needed by the country.
As regards the German satellite States, their position from the time of the outbreak of war was a most unenviable one. Certainly, the Balkan satellites were left little choice but to give way under German pressure. In the case of Italy, I do not think that by any stretch of the imagination one could say there was ever any enthusiasm for the war on Germany's side shown by the Italians. The best indication of this was that, when some of those who led them into the war on the German side were dethroned, the people then turned and fought with the Allied Forces. In any case that sorry state of affairs has come to an end, and the task that fell on those of us responsible for drawing up the Treaties was to create conditions which would ensure the resumption of normal life, trade and relationships. I am aware that there has been great concern among hon. Members on one important aspect of these Treaties, namely, reparations.' The reparations policy after the 1914–18 war is well known. But, after this war, we had to take into account the feeling of the countries which had been invaded. In the case of demands, by Russia, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Ethiopia, particularly, for reparations from Italy, we had to take into account the sufferings of those countries.
2292 The devastation caused by the invasion of the interior of Russia by German, Italian, Rumanian and Hungarian forces, is almost too dreadful to be believed. I mention this because happily we were not invaded, although we were bombed from the air. But we did not suffer the total destruction that some of these countries suffered. The thousands of towns, villages, and great enterprises which were destroyed, represent an appalling figure, and since the armies of the satellites, and Italy, helped the Germans, we can quite understand the feeling of the Soviet Union in this matter. The occupation of Greece, first by Italy, and then by the Germans, caused great devastation, and almost ruined the country. Incidentally, while there is so much discussion about Greece and such great interest in it, I would not like the Committee to under-estimate all that has been accomplished in Greece in the work of reconstruction. Miles of roads and railways have been constructed, and development has gone on. Those who have recently been there have asked me to make quite clear that that side of the work ought to be appreciated, as much as the criticism which has been levelled against their political idiosyncrasies.
Equally, the losses and damage caused to Yugoslavia were on a terrific scale. We have to examine the losses in men and material in Yugoslavia, due to the method of fighting, and the effort that was made, in order to understand the background of their feelings and their attitude to these problems. Our purpose, however, in dealing with this question has been not to burden the ex-enemy States with such sums in reparations as to prevent their economic recovery. In the case of Italy we established a two years moratorium which was intended to give her a period in which to get on her feet. We allowed current production as well as war equipment to he taken for reparations on the basis that the Soviet Union would supply the raw materials to be worked up by the Italians. In other words, we took every step that we could to try to prevent hindering economic recovery.
The next great difficulty we had to face was a geographical one. For example, there never has been any doubt in my mind that, in the case of Italy, the 1919 settlement was bound, sooner or later, to produce repercussions. Too much was given, in my view, under the secret 2293 treaties of 1915 in order to get them into the war, and I think a great wrong was done thereby in trying to put so many of the Slav population under Italian rule. We have therefore tried to establish just frontiers, and on the whole I think we have succeeded. If we take both sides of the Italo-Yugoslav frontier I think there are about 60,000 Yugoslays on one side, and roughly about 100,000 Italians on the other, without taking into account the people who are moving to Italy as a result of the handing over of the Istrian coast.
The greatest difficulty arose in the case of Trieste, which I explained in my previous speech, and this has now been settled. I never had any doubt that Yugoslavia would sign the Treaty. I feel quite certain she will ratify it, in spite of all she has said, and I have the further confidence that she will join with Italy in working it. It is sometimes said that all we have done in Trieste is to create another Danzig. That is not correct. The free port of Trieste is not under the domination of any one Power as Danzig was, any more than is the free territory. The free port regime provides for a commission of what one might call the "user countries," the purpose of which is to give everybody an interest in developing the trade of the port. If the Yugoslays and Italians make up their minds to work together—and when the Treaties are ratified, I am still confident that they will—Trieste will provide a great meeting ground and a place of great economic importance for both of them. But, in addition, it brings together on the commission such countries as Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Italy, all of whom are user countries, and all of whom should have a vested interest in the communications to and from Trieste for the development of their trade and commerce.
I would like to mention that during these discussions there seemed to be a lurking fear all the time in what is called the "Slav mind," or in the minds of our friends from the Slav countries, that our object was to use Trieste some day or other as a strategical base. I flatly repudiated that in Paris, and I repeat that repudiation. It would be a stupid thing to do, and it never occurred to me. There was never any intention on the part of His Majesty's Government, and as far as I know of any other Western Power, to 2294 do any such thing. The place is declared a neutral area. It is demilitarised; it has its own local Government; and, what I think is important, it is under the control and protection of the Security Council. In that way I hope this experiment will work, and the port of Trieste will become a link in the great communications of the South.
In making the settlement with Italy, I had to stand out for our rights, and Italy's obligations to this country. If one is making a treaty in conjunction with others, one is entitled to have one's rights established. What one does with them afterwards, then becomes a bilateral matter, and not a question to be bargained about with other Powers. That is the attitude I adopted. Since the Treaty has been signed—a decision on which the new Italian Government are to be congratulated—we have indicated that we will be willing to discuss any hardships arising out of those obligations. To that end an Italian economic delegation will be visiting this country next month, and we shall be considering with them whether there should be any easing of Italy's financial commitments to us, and how to improve our mutual economic relations in the future. Our rights having been established, that will become a matter for negotiation between Italy and ourselves, and this, I think, is the proper footing on which to deal with it.
We have already received a trade delegation, but owing to our own economic position, we have not been able to do as much as we would have liked. We are very anxious to restore the old connections, which should be valuable both to Italy and ourselves, and I do not limit this to Italy. We wish to establish our trade with all the Mediterranean countries which have suffered so much as a result of this war and I invite them to join in the discussions. As our trade improves, and our production develops, we shall try to do whatever we can to help their rehabilitation, and to build up connections which ought to be so valuable to both countries I invited Signor Nenni, when he was Foreign Secretary, to visit us in order that we could talk over the whole position so far as Italy was concerned. But the Italian Government fell before he arrived. I have, however, renewed the invitation to his successor, Count Sforza. The Committee will realise, I am 2295 sure, that I cannot carry out this engagement before I have been to Moscow, but I shall look forward to an exchange of views and discussions with him, as soon as I return.
Another problem which gave us considerable anxiety was that of the Danube. We desire to keep it open for all States, on a footing of equality. There has been a good deal of talk about Europe being divided in half. Perhaps there is nothing in the Treaties which gives the answer to that better than the settlement of the Danube. There will be a Conference, within six months of the ratification of the Treaties, at which the riparian States, as well as the four great Powers, will be represented, to discuss the question of maintenance charges, freedom of shipping, trading, etc., all of which I hope will be embodied in a new Convention.
In addition, the settlement of the difficulty between Austria and Italy regarding the South Tyrol should produce a new understanding. This has been debated in the House, and I will not refer to it further, except to say that I hope it will lead to the converting of the great watersheds of the Alps into a new source of international power, and so contribute to the raising of the standard of life of the whole area. Instead of a conflict for this water power I think that if Austria, Yugoslavia, Italy and France can put their heads together and develop an international board for electrical development in that great area, serving all the countries, it will be of tremendous benefit and make for peace instead of being a source of conflict as hitherto. What is needed is co-operation and not fighting. This problem can never be settled by the transfer of territory from one side to another. I think that the arrangements we have made will lead to this welcome development.
As a result of our meeting in New York, we decided to proceed with the Austrian Treaty at our next meeting. Meanwhile, the Deputies have been working upon it, and it will be submitted to the Foreign Ministers in Moscow. Here again, we are particularly anxious to clear up the Austrian situation. It will allow her to know where she is, and to make her arrangements with other countries, but, in particular, it will enable the troops of all the Allies to be withdrawn from the 2296 Danubian territories. This should contribute to the resettlement of the whole area. During all the discussions that have followed the declaration made by the three Powers in Moscow, in which they stated that they wished to see re-established a free and independent Austria, we have not departed from that principle.
The clearing-up of the Treaties with the countries I have mentioned now leaves the principal task to be grappled with, that of Germany and Japan, our two principal antagonists. If hon. Members have studied the agenda which is facing us in Moscow, they will see the difficult tasks we have to resolve. There has been a most voluminous document prepared by the Allied Control Council in Berlin. Not all this Report has been agreed, but a number of factors are brought to light in that document which will make clear to the Foreign Ministers how great is the task of dealing with a country like Germany, which has been devastated by war.
We have to approach the problem from two points of view. One is that we cannot afford to have 66 million people forming a depressed area in the centre of Europe. If we allow that to happen, and there is not a reasonable standard of life, it may drag down all the standards of other countries and, what is worse, may well prevent the recovery of many. On the other hand, we have to provide for the security of Europe, and I am not yet sure whether, even after two wars and two defeats, the Germans really recognise the effects of defeat and the stupidity of war as an object of policy. This they have to learn, either by education or in some other way. For, while there is a lot of talk about Eastern and Western Powers, I am obsessed, above all else, by the possibility of those major Powers having differences, which might result in allowing the resurgence of Germany. That is why I will not go to conferences or anywhere else and take much notice of what is said about our wickedness.
We see a good deal going on in Germany even now, which makes us exercise considerable care to prevent a resurgence of Nazism. We have had evidence of it only this past week. One thing is absolutely essential. If we are to content Germany again and have sufficient time to re-educate her on a democratic basis, we must somehow try to get agreement 2297 between the four Great Powers. There is no other way. Nothing will be gained by continued accusations that we are actuated by this or that motive. His Majesty's Government have only one motive and that is to allow Germany to re-establish a decent standard of life, to try to build a democratic Germany, and to make sure at the same time that in doing it we are not endangering the security of Europe.
As I have already explained to the House in a previous speech, we have to approach the problem of the reorganisation of Germany on the basis of a federal Germany. There was at one time, as the right hon. Gentleman my predecessor in office knows, a suggestion that a way out of this difficulty was to break Germany up. It received a good deal of discussion during the period of the Coalition Government. France has also wanted to take certain steps in the Ruhr which would detach it from Germany. But His Majesty's Government take the view that the best way to get a democratic Germany is probably by a decentralised Germany with powers vested in the provinces and with only certain powers given to the central Government. There are others who think that a highly centralised Germany can be better controlled and will be less dangerous. I have profound doubts about that. I went to Germany a good deal at the end of the 1914–18 war, and I must say I thought the Allied Control Council then contributed very largely to the centralisation of Germany. That is, they made it easy because they pivoted their administration in such a way as to cause everybody to go to Prussia, to Berlin, and, like a magnet, drew everything all over Germany to that point. Thus, under Allied Military Control, they really did what Bismarck did not succeed in doing.
On this occasion we have tried to avoid that. There is a pride and, I think I am entitled to use the phrase, a patriotism in the provinces which is traditional in Germany. There has always been a resistance to a centralised Germany. They have always been in favour of a unified Germany for certain forms of government, and one can understand that. I take that view. The whole thing will have to go on the anvil of discussion in Moscow. It will have to be argued. Every point of view will have to be put. I can only hope that it will be done with good feeling 2298 and with a view only of trying to find the right solution. That is the task which lies ahead of us.
There is no use in denying the fact that, up till now, Germany has been to us, as an occupying Power, a very costly business. We have been unable to get full effect given to one of the most important paragraphs of the Potsdam Agreement upon which all of the four Powers insisted, when this problem was being studied in all its details, namely, the unification of the resources of Germany so that those areas which were deficient in food could benefit by the surplus areas, and those deficient in industry could benefit from areas with surplus industry in other parts of Germany. That was the fundamental basis of paragraph 14, and unfortunately we have not been able to get that carried out. It really provided for Germany to be treated as one economic unit and, therefore, to fulfil the basis that I have suggested.
Over and above that there has been the problem of reparations. It was quite clear that with this failure to get paragraph 14 carried out, the reparations programme would be very difficult and the situation was deteriorating to such an extent that, if we had not taken some action, Britain would have been landed this year with at least £130 million expenditure on irrecoverable costs in this year's Budget. With our own economic difficulties, it must be obvious to the world that this is too great for us to face. A very large proportion of this expenditure would have had to be met in dollars, which would have affected the Loan considerably, and which was never contemplated when the Loan was being discussed.
After struggling with this problem for several weeks His Majesty's Government were therefore driven to announce that as paragraph 14 was not being carried out we would have to make our own zone self-supporting. That would have involved Germany and Europe in a very great financial difficulty but we could see no alternative. If we were not going to get exchanges of food and we had to go out into the dollar area and buy food and upset our own exchanges and increase our own difficulty for our own people in this country, the only thing left open to us was to charge dollars for what we were exporting from our own zone. There was no other way. The result of that state- 2299 ment led to the proposal by the United States for the fusion of the zones, and His Majesty's Government immediately accepted it. It was carried into effect and the finances were arranged while I was in New York.
The object of this is that by 1949 the results of our common policy will have reached a point where, without endangering security, the liability on us will have been ended and a beginning will have been made to repay what we have had to pour in. That is the basis of the capital re-equipment that is going on. I gathered from my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster this morning that the steps which have been taken in the last few months have lifted the coal output in the Ruhr from 175,000 tons a day up to 230,000 tons a day, and this in spite of the very difficult situation, for they have suffered from the weather just as much as the rest of Europe. It is a great improvement. We think it will go up higher as the better weather and opportunities come.
All the time, in order that Germany should not be divided into halves, or Europe divided into halves, we have made it clear that it was open to the other two Powers to join in, on the assumption that each would make a fair contribution to the cost of running Germany as a whole, and in order to put it on its feet. For the future Conference, the Cabinet has firmly laid down that our objective remains the achievement of economic unity, but that, in speaking on this subject in Moscow, I should say nothing to saddle this country with increased liabilities. I do not, however, want the Committee for one moment to be led into thinking that we should go to Moscow to this meeting and make a treaty with Germany. What. we have got to do there is to take the necessary steps so as to proceed to the next stage. A report describing the working of the Control Commission, and the events that have taken place since Potsdam, will all have to be examined, and ultimately we shall have to see what the next right and proper steps are that we should take. It is perfectly obvious that, in every step we take, we are, as it were, building up brick by brick the ultimate treaty as it is bound to be, because everything we do and every organism we create will have to fit into the final picture.
2300 There is much talk about reparations being put on current production. All I have to say publicly is that, whatever may be done, it must not increase the cost on the taxpayers of this country. The basis of the future German Government will have to be studied, and the elaboration of its electoral machinery, its constitution, and the obligations that it will have to undertake will involve considerable time and effort before we reach finality.
There is one problem which we shall have to consider urgently, and that is the question of frontiers. There are claims on the territory of Germany by other Allies. The French are claiming the Saar, and, as I announced on 22nd October, His Majesty's Government have raised no objection, but we have, however, made a reservation on the question of the actual territory which should go. The Eastern frontiers of Germany will also raise very vexed questions, as much of the area transferred is being demanded by the Poles, who are now claiming that the existing provisional frontier along the Oder to Stettin should be maintained. Other territorial claims have been made by Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, and in view of the many transfers of population which have already placed such a heavy liability on our zone, I want to put in a caveat here. If, in any transfers of territory which may be agreed there are financial provisions involved, entailing the removal of any assets that are now within our zone, then there will have to be financial adjustments made, because the territory cannot be handed over willy-nilly without regard to any liabilities.
I have received strong representations from other countries, including the Dominions, that, having regard to the sacrifices they made in the two wars, they must be adequately consulted in the settlement, not merely at the stage when the Treaty is drafted, but about the changes that are made in the course of the discussions. It is claimed by them that a wrong interpretation is being placed on the power given to the four or five Ministers, as the case may be, in the Potsdam Agreement, and it is held by them that it was never intended to place an interpretation that would exclude them from adequate consultation on these matters. The duty of the Foreign Ministers, as I understood it, was to draft proposals and consider 2301 these problems, and it has always been assumed that these countries would have opportunities of making contributions the settlement. While the Deputies have been meeting in London, there have been many discussions on this question of procedure, and no decision has been arrived at, but, if we are to carry the good will of these countries in the future, each in their turn must recognise that their attitude to this matter will have repercussions on the future confidence between the nations ii Europe. It is essential that this question of consultation be taken into account and dealt with.
Turning to the Soviet Union, the Committee is aware that we have recently had a most important exchange of messages with Generalissimo Stalin. The Soviet Government is now interesting itself in the suggestions put forward in this House, that the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance should be prolonged. The position is that Generalissimo Stalin has very naturally pointed out that the Treaty needs bringing up to date if it is to be prolonged. There has been that little misunderstanding about a sentence in my broadcast of 22nd December. It was first brought to our notice by an article in "Pravda," and, as soon as we got in direct touch with Generalissimo Stalin about it, I am glad to say that we found that he was good enough to say that our views exactly coincided. I cannot help wishing, however, that the Soviet Government had taken the matter up with us in the first place through diplomatic channels, when the whole matter could have been cleared up, without creating any public excitement. It is now cleared up, and I can say no more about it, except that we are entirely agreed that it would be a good thing to get rid of the out-of-date features of the Treaty: The point is that the Treaty was made before the United Nations came into existence, and so, very properly, there was provision for aligning the passage dealing with mutual assistance against Germany with any general international arrangements which might be made. We lost no time in asking Generalissimo Stalin what exactly were the points in the Treaty which he considered out of date, in order that we might examine the question how to meet them. He has done so, and we shall shortly be putting our proposals to the Soviet Government. In the meantime, I am extremely glad that the desire is shown to prolong the Alliance on the basis 2302 of close and cordial relations between the two countries. I am, of course, in all these matters, keeping the Dominions informed.
May I now say a word about France? The Committee will remember that, a few weeks ago, we had a very welcome visit from M. Blum, who was then nearing the end of a memorable term of office as French Prime Minister. I need hardly say how much pleasure it gave to His Majesty's Government to receive this very distinguished French statesman. During his visit, we were able to have some very satisfactory discussions with M. Blum on a number of questions of interest to our two countries. In particular, it was agreed that, as our countries had an equal interest in protecting themselves against a fresh German menace, a Treaty of Alliance should be concluded between them at the earliest possible moment, with the object of preventing any further aggression by Germany and of preserving peace and security. Negotiations for the conclusion of the Treaty have been going on during the past few weeks, and have made very satisfactory progress. Indeed, I hope that these negotiations will be successfully concluded in the very near future. As boon as we have anything definite to say, the House will, of course, be informed. Our United States and Soviet Allies have been told of our intentions to negotiate a Treaty, the object of which would be to prevent a German aggression, and the Dominion Governments have been kept fully informed.
In the meantime, pending the outcome of these negotiations about the Alliance, we have continued to collaborate with France in many other directions. There has been more than one meeting recently of the standing Anglo-French Economic Committee, and the experts on both sides have been working continuously on the problems connected with the commercial relations of our two countries. Further. more, we have, during the last few weeks, had useful exchanges of views with French officials on various matters connected with Germany. It should not, of course, be thought that this means that we are neglecting relations with other countries. We have had useful meetings between British, Belgian, Luxembourg and other commercial experts. I have also been pursuing my policy of reducing restrictions on travel between this country and foreign States. To this end. 2303 I have signed a number of agreements, first with France, then with Belgium, Luxembourg and Norway, and I hope that I shall shortly sign similar agreements with a number of other countries.
When the finance situation gets easier, and with these restrictions removed, it ought to make for travel and the interchange of people. Agreements like these between good neighbours contribute to the growth of understanding, and are an important buttress to world peace. But this does not mean that we are in any way departing from the principle of collective security, of which the Five Power understanding is the principal feature. His Majesty's Government are still committed to, and are anxious to secure the conclusion of, the Four Power Pact between the United States, the Soviet Union, France and ourselves proposed by Mr. Byrnes for the purpose of preventing the recurrence of aggression in Europe. That matter will be on the agenda at Moscow, and will have to be discussed. I think it is a great thing that the United States have taken this vital interest in the preservation of peace in Europe.
Here I would like to say that, while there may have been seine misunderstanding over the matter debated in the House two days ago, this is a matter which stands by itself. On all questions, our relations with the United States are of the most cordial character, and I can assure the Committee that we, for our part, shall not allow any wedge to be driven between our two countries, and to disturb our friendship. I am looking forward to meeting in Moscow, Mr. Marshall, who, as the Committee is well aware, is an old and staunch friend of this country.
May I now turn to Egypt? I regret that the Egyptian Treaty was not concluded. But it is quite clear that there is a great desire that a new Treaty shall be established. The main point at issue is the question of the Sudan, and it was a matter of profound regret to His Majesty's Government that the Egyptian Government broke off negotiations. I am quite willing to go on exchanging views with the Egyptian Government, and, thereby, try to solve this question. It would redound to the credit of two equal partners, like Egypt and Great Britain, to resolve this matter themselves. Of course, we have a sound case, and, if the 2304 Egyptian Government pursue the course they have announced, then we have a complete answer. In our view, the Treaty of 1936 saved Egypt, and, indeed, if I may say so, saved the Allies, and prevented a great disaster for us all. But we are willing to modernise that Treaty, and to substitute one of allied friendship in place of occupation.
Now I would just like to say a word about the United Nations. I am sorry to keep the Committee so long, but the matter is so vast. All the world is in trouble at once; the troubles do not come one at a time. While the Foreign Ministers were dealing with the Treaty in New York, the United Nations Assembly were operating at the same time, and many difficult questions had to be dealt with—atomic energy, disarmament, the withdrawal of troops, the veto, and many other problems. I think that, on the whole, for an international assembly, the debates were very good, and no objection can be taken to them. I would like to pay a tribute to my colleagues and to the staff who handled the business of that great Assembly on our behalf. I was unable to take a very great part myself.
I will make only one reference to the question of disarmament, and that is a fundamental one. The basis of any satisfactory scheme of disarmament must be the firm establishment of a collective security, which will inspire such confidence in its operation against a possible aggressor that it will act immediately the aggression is threatened, so that no one country will be left to hold the enemy for a considerable time, while others are considering whether or not they will come to its assistance. I regard that as a fundamental thing to settle before we can risk the defence of this country. We had many good discussions, both private and public, on the whole of these matters. I think that the United Nations, particularly its social and economic side, is evolving very effectively. What we have got to get right is the political relations, and I am afraid that that will take time, but I do not despair. At least, I think it can be said that the devilish instruments of war are such that everyone has a full sense of his responsibility.
Some of the speeches which were made obviously sprang from fear, and others from propaganda, but, underlying it all, I think there is a genuine desire in this 2305 generation to solve the awful problem of war for all time. I shall not lose my faith in the good intentions of others, whatever they may say in their Press, over their radio, or anywhere else. I believe that behind all the things they say and do, at the back of their heads they know that we have got to get co-operation, and, therefore, I shall let all these attacks pass over me, and go on believing in their good faith.
It is a matter of regret to me that the agreement made between Indonesia and the Dutch has not been signed. It was initialled last October. The food and raw material situation is such that, if only this agreement could be signed and operated, and Indonesia could get on with a free flow of commodities from that very valuable territory into the world market, it would make such a contribution to so many people who are suffering at the present moment. Therefore, without endeavouring to interfere with the rights of others, I earnestly hope that this settlement, which should have such a beneficial effect on so many millions of people, not only in the East, but in the West, will soon be complete.
In China there has been a very serious deterioration in the economic and financial situation. These troubles are largely due to the civil war, and I can only hope that some means of settlement will be effected pretty soon to enable this great country, which is such an old friend of Britain, to set out on the road to rehabilitation and prosperity. The methods of wars of nerves and civil wars, and all that kind of thing, can easily prove to be a great contributing factor to the danger of a general war. Forces are unleashed, great States may take different sides, and it is a very dangerous weapon to play with from the point of view of world peace. I think everyone ought to do all in his power to avoid this and not encourage it, and try to bring it to an end for the sake not only of the countries themselves but of the peace of the world.
I hope the country will not expect too much from us at the Moscow Conference. We have terrific difficulties to face. There has never been another situation like it, so widespread, involving almost the whole planet, as this struggle did, and accornpanied by probably the greatest economic disturbance the world has ever seen. Our task in making peace is terribly handi- 2306 capped by the economic disorder and disequilibrium at the present moment. I say to the people of Great Britain that when we are all able to get to work and increase our output it will be a blessing. For instance, it is far more important and more helpful to export coal and goods to those who need them than it is to give food parcels or charity. It enables other countries to live, to start production and maintain themselves and their independence.
The present situation is very difficult. We want houses, and, in order to keep themselves warm, some countries are burning timber which we need for the houses. They cannot let us have the timber unless we can let them have coal. Therefore, we get a bottleneck both ways. They want goods, but there is a terrible vacuum in the world. I am constantly being pressed, first by one side and then by another, to try to help them to get supplies for which they are willing to pay. If we could do it, it would help our position here and we, in turn, would be helping them I know everybody is doing his best but improvement in industrial output on all sides during the coming year would be the greatest help that we could possibly have to building up a sound peace. It is not a question merely of the Foreign Ministers' debating ability or arguments. The responsibility for making a good peace rests not only on Governments and their civil servants but on the peoples as a whole.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
am sure the Committee will wish well to the right hon. Gentleman and the delegation who are going to Moscow, in their very difficult task. The Committee do not under-estimate the difficulties of that task, some of which difficulties I will refer to in the course of my contribution to the Debate. I was recently given, quite unwittingly, a small volume discussing foreign policy from the Labour angle in the Labour "Discussion Series," and I am very much indebted to those who sent it to me. It included the following statement which, I think, is a very suitable summing up of the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties:Foreign policy is sometimes like war, sometimes like poker, sometimes like football, but most rarely of all like home policy.What we on this side of the Committee say is, "Thank God for that." In the 2307 case of the Government's foreign policy, whether it be like war, poker or football, we can, at least, from time to time, give it a certain measure of support. This general principle which is enunciated in this document on page 7 is in the abstract, but I think it does, in fact, apply to the conduct of the foreign policy of the right hon. Gentleman, which has in it an atmosphere of realism. To take another piece of advice from this simple document:The necessity for compromise will severely limit the scope of a generous idealism.I think the right hon. Gentleman must be basing his attitude upon the very good advice given him by his own Department. At any rate, in the midst of the very great difficulties which he faces, he manages to retain a considerable sense of idealism, as is evidenced by his concluding remarks, on aspects of a subject to which I shall come at the end of my remarks.
The Foreign. Secretary, however, has great difficulties. He has to conduct foreign policy, if it be like war, without a proper number of troops. If it be like poker, he has to play a hand without any sequence in it, and if it be like a game of football he has not even got a united team behind him. We are, therefore, extremely sympathetic with him in his difficulties, and we trust that as he faces them, he will feel encouraged from time to time by a strong body of public opinion in the country which agrees in particular with his concluding remarks and also agrees with him on the need for more output and greater. production at the present time. I believe this country will show that it has the same spirit as it had in 1940 in overcoming its difficulties, and that it will include in that the overmastering problem of putting up not only with its own difficulties but also with this Government and their lack of policy. If, somehow, it manages that last hurdle, we can, at any rate, feel that we are a great race, and I would agree with the new American Ambassador, Mr. Douglas—whom we would like to welcome from this side of the Committee—who, in the last interview he gave which I read in the Press this morning, said "Britain is a good risk." That I believe to be true. In insurance terms, we are a good risk and in a Debate of this sort we should 2308 all join in exhibiting to the foreigner a common front, and a front of which we can all be proud.
At the same time, Britain should be careful of her prestige abroad. I want to make one passing reference to a subject which is to be debated at length next week and which was debated yesterday in another place. I do not think the Government realise the effects in the world of the type of statement they issued recently on the subject of our Indian policy. With its emphasis on quitting instead of, as I think it should be, on helping India and maintaining contact with her in the years ahead—and I am not going into the merits of the policy—one finds, as I have seen in telegrams from all over the world, reactions of the wrong sort about the British attitude to the future of her Commonwealth and Empire. It is most important when we are facing these matters to remember that the foreigner may misunderstand our motives, and underrate our strength, and the more they underrate our strength, the less successful is the right hon. Gentleman likely to be when he reaches Moscow and discusses, with the Soviet and others, the realities of life.
While I am on the edge of Eastern matters I would mention the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the condition of China. All the evidence we on this side of the Committee have bears out what he has said. We should like to voice the same sentiment that civil war and discord of the type that is undoubtedly going in China are extremely bad, not only for China but for world peace as a whole. I would like the Minister who is to reply. to tell us a little more about the possibilities of British trade and other developments which may take place in China, but I would particularly draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that while mentioning Germany and the German peace settlement, and while mentioning by name Japan, he gave us no indication of the Government's attitude towards the final settlement on Japan. I hope, therefore, that the Government will supplement this information before the Debate closes.
Is it, in fact, our intention to withdraw the Commonwealth garrison? I know they have been very considerably reduced. Is it our intention to mix more, from the political angle, in the central 2309 administration of Japan; or is it, in tact, our policy to withdraw and not to let our opinion prevail in that region? There are arguments to be listened to on all sides on this question, and we should be very much obliged if the hon. or right hon. Gentleman who is to reply would further elucidate these matters for us. From the point of view of the British garrison, we have never had an entirely satisfactory answer about their conditions. They are isolated; they have a dull and restricted life; and I do not think that in the course of this Debate we, here, should forget those of our troops, and those of our representatives of nationals who are serving their country in a more distant spot than any other. I should also like to hear further about the situation in Korea, which I have always regarded as perhaps the greatest danger spot for peace in the Far East.
I have mentioned our prestige. I think it is most important at this moment, when we are clearly passing through difficulties, that no action should be allowed to occur which damages in any way our prestige as a nation. In passing, I want to refer for one minute to the utterly disgraceful episode which occurred recently in our relations with Albania. The Committee knows that damage was done to our ships, and we actually lost 44 ratings. This matter was taken before the United Nations organisation. I must say, if this is an example of how U.N.O. does its work on this sort of thing, I think we should be extremely cautious of allowing similar questions to go before it. This incident, from its start, was a flagrant violation of the Hague Convention. In my Opinion, this whole incident is being used —arising as it did originally as an affront to Britain, by, what I have seen described in the Press as, "an inconsiderable Power"—as an occasion to throw doubt on our sincerity, and further to lacerate the wounds which we have already unjustly received. I cannot see the point of setting up any committee on facts in this matter. After all, the facts are clear. The British destroyers were acting on a quite legitimate pretext; the Mine Clearance Board had given a unanimous opinion that they should act. I appeal to the Foreign Secretary that this matter should be put an end to, this humility brought to an end as soon as, possible, and the rights and dignity of Britain re-established.
2310 Coming to the question of Egypt, I was very glad to note the reference of the right hon. Gentleman to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, which was negotiated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). We should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his reference to that Treaty, which we consider has done the excellent service which he mentioned. I cannot believe that this matter of the Egyptian Treaty is a very suitable one to carry into the sort of atmosphere that I have just described. Therefore, I trust that, if there are to be any discussions on the question of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, this matter will he regulated between our two countries, with proper regard for our promise to the Sudanese and our obligations towards them.
I now come to an examination of the five Treaties, which have come before the Committee—and thus, we may take it, Parliament—for the first time. I think the first fact that strikes one on examining the five I reaties is that it can certainly be said of Great Britain that we went into the war to gain nothing. We are certainly taking nothing out. There are no territorial gains in these Treaties to attribute to a rapacious and Imperialist Britain. On the other hand there are considerable gains to be attributed to at least one of our major Allies—gains in territory, gains in position, and gains in bargaining power. I state that because I think it is our duty, as an Opposition, to state these things quite clearly, and to make them absolutely patent to all.
Coming to the Italian Treaty, the right hon. Gentleman referred in oblique terms to its hardness. I should like to congratulate him on having arranged already for an economic delegation from Italy to visit this country. This matter was, as far as I can see, foreseen by a recent démarche made by our Ambassador in Italy, Sir Noel Charles. I had intended to ask the right hon. Gentleman what was likely to be the result of his representations to the Italian Government. I also notice that Mr. James Dunn, the American representative, said in Rome on 11th February, that the United States public were willing to revise the terms of the Treaty. I, myself, feel that our relations with Italy should be improved by these negotiations. Italy worked her passage home, and as a result of that I think she deserves every consideration now 2311 in the terms of peace given to her. Therefore, within the possibilities—that is to say, of the bilateral negotiations which are to take place between our two countries—I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to offer some alleviations.
It is interesting to note, however, in regard to the military, naval and air clauses, that when Italy joins the United Nations, these can be modified by agreement—at least, so I understand the position; though I am open to correction. If that be so, I should like to draw particular attention to some of the hard clauses of the Treaty in regard to the Italian Navy. In the document signed between our Admiral Commanding and Admiral de Courten at Malta on 23rd December, 1943, there was this phrase:It should be understood that the extent to which the armistice terms are modified is dependent upon the extent and effectiveness bf Italian co-operation.Now, there is no doubt that after that date the Italian Navy did its best. Therefore, I think it legitimate to say that it would be right for certain of the clauses in regard to the Italian Navy to be modified eventually, when the matter is brought before the United Nations. Considering the small harbours of Italy, I think, for example, the taking away of small motor tugs and boats from the Italian Navy is quite unnecessary. I am not referring to the wisdom of keeping large armaments and large vessels. I am referring to such questions also as the equivalent of the "Victory." Of the two ships the "Columbus" and "Vecchi" the Italian Navy, at the present time, is permitted only one of them, with their tradition for the Italian Navy. I mention those matters as instances in which some further alleviation might be made in the forum of the United Nations.
I desire to say a few words about Trieste. I understand that after the appointment of the Governor there will be equal numbers of British, American, and Yugoslav troops retained; and eventually there will be a further withdrawal after the establishment of the permanent statute. Is it the case that the 45,000 men will all be relieved at an early stage; or will some of them remain under the arrangement to which I have referred? We should like to know the sort of extent of the relief that there is likely to be. If 2312 an answer could be given to that, we should be very much obliged. I trust, also, that the troops I referred to in the second part of what I have said will not be withdrawn until the situation permits of their withdrawal. I think the primary withdrawal might well take place, as advertised by the right hon. Gentleman. In passing, I think the Committee should be referred to the tragedy of Pola. If one has read it aright in the Press, it will have been seen that three-quarters of the population of that city, some 25,000 persons, have evacuated it in conditions of considerable misery and distress. The city has been left with practically no industries running for the new country to come in and take control.
In regard to the other Treaties, I have not much to add to what the right hon. Gentleman so lucidly said, but I want to refer for a moment to Bulgaria, and to ask what this demilitarisation of the Graeco-Bulgarian frontier will in fact amount to. Who is to supervise it, and will it be reality? We know that the Greek claims for the Thracian Uplands have not been granted, just as many other of Greece's legitimate claims for frontier revision have not been granted, but I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that the rehabilitation in Greece in respect of roads and other matters has gone ahead. If I am not wrongly informed, however, the situation of Greek finances at the moment is far from good. Have the Government any proposals, or is there any proposal on behalf of any of the great nations, for further assistance for the economic rehabilitation of that country? In this connection I should be interested to hear whether there is anything in the idea that we might in some way guarantee the purchase of a part or the value of the Greek tobacco crop. I realise that the Government are mad keen on the import of tobacco—that appears in the economic White Paper which has just been published—and this tobacco would perhaps have the advantage of not having to be purchased with as many dollars as the other tobacco they are so keen on.
In regard to Russia, Rumania and Hungary, we cannot help noticing that Russian troops are to remain, for the alleged purpose of guaranteeing the access to Austria. It is in this respect, therefore, that a settlement with Austria is absolutely vital if those countries are 2313 to return to normal. It is at least satisfactory that there is a term for the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Bulgaria. I would like to ask one question about the Austrian Treaty. I believe the main discussion has been on the subject of the definition of German assets. On one side almost everything is regarded as a German asset, to be taken away or realised in some way, but I understand that on our side we have suggested machinery for listing the assets which are to be transferred as liable for reparations. If an agreement of that sort could be reached it would be extremely satisfactory, and would give Austria same hope that something is to be left on which to build up her democratic independence.
It is at this moment that I think it would be appropriate for the Committee to glance at the small annexe on the subject of the Austrian Tyrol. I think this is a triumph for Parliament as a whole, because this particular text, the original of which was signed in English by the two parties, indicates that it is perhaps by the inspiration of our Debates, that such a solution has been able to be found. I trust that that solution of the Tyrol question, no doubt aided by the right hon. Gentleman and others, will be successful, but I trust that the Klagenfurt area in Austria will not be handed over.
Now I come to the central point of Germany. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a great deal of information on the subject of Germany in the course of his speech, and I welcome the general approach he made. First of all, taking the main considerations, I hope that some progress will be made at Moscow with the development of the Four Power Pact, and I should like to know whether there is anything in the report in the Press that a 40-year pact was recently suggested by the American Secretary to the State Department. We, and in particular my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, would be interested to know in what particulars it is proposed to revise the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, and to prolong it. We should certainly be in favour of prolonging it and making it as effective as it can possibly be made. But if I may say so it was a good Treaty when it was made, and we should like to know in what respects it is going to be made better. If the Government in their reply can give us some answer we shall be very glad to hear it.
2314 Of course it is a truism, but nevertheless an important truism, to say that the future of Germany must be settled in agreement with the major Powers, in line with the United States policy and with a desire to obtain agreement on the vital matters to which the right hon. Gentleman referred with the Soviet Union. There have been, as the Foreign Secretary said, rival themes played upon this question of centralisation in Germany. It is important for us to remember, as he did, the point of view of the Dominions. In particular, South Africa has expressed her point of view in great detail, and only today there are further reports of Dr. Evatt's views. On the whole, the States on the East of Europe seem to favour some sort of centralisation, and the States on the West of Europe seem to favour some sort of federal system; it is in the latter category that the right hon. Gentleman's approach falls, and the Dominions on the whole also fall into the same category.
What all are agreed on is that no steps should be taken which will make Germany a strong unitary State, with aggressive intentions, in the future. It is also valuable that the Government have acknowledged that some effort should be made in the directive given to those who are going to Moscow to achieve an element of economic unity, because however you face the German problem, whether you decide it in compartments, or work to make the Anglo-American zone a paying proposition, you cannot get away from the fact that in history, German economic unity has been achieved by the free passage across the country of the different products of East and West, food and other materials. I, therefore, hope that some solution will be found which, while preserving the general federal aspects, does face the realities of the economic position.
I welcome the statement that German coal production has been improved, and consider it high time that we should have information of that sort. We cannot go on with this drain, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself was the first to acknowledge this before many of our Debates on the subject started; the quicker the Government can improve their administration, and make the British and American zones pay, the happier we shall be. On this question of re-introducing some life and an infusion of strength into 2315 German industry, there is considerable obscurity about the Government's intentions in regard to the form of control they intend for German industry. We on this side of the Committee have always said that the control, of German industry should be carried out with the agreement of the German people and in consultation with them. I notice that in the case of the I.G. Farben dye combine, which is in the American zone, the Americans had certain proposals for breaking it down into smaller units. They then submitted the question to the new constitution of greater Hesse, and that meeting came firmly down in favour of socialisation of the I.G. Farben dye combine, so that is a decision taken with the approval of the German people. I should like to ask whether, in the proposals we are making or in the schemes we have already worked out or carried out for the coal, steel and chemical industries, we propose to take the German people into consultation and, if so, whether we shall take the decision they register. That is the only possible way of conducting the democratic Germany to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
Who is to be the authority? I have heard it rumoured that the British plan is for the Länder to be the authorities, and that industries should not be nationalised, but should be Ländised and put under the Länder. That is thought to be the most sensible approach. Certainly, it is a great deal better approach than the form of nationalisation we heard of before, which was that industries should be vested in the Commander-in-Chiefnot in the Defence Minister, but in the Commander-in-Chief—a form of nationalisation which I think is undesirable. Let us consider the question of putting the industries under the Länder. In my view, that is an undesirable solution, because already the Länd system is improperly weighted because of the concentration of industry in the Nord-Rhein Westphalian Länd. I think that if you put industries under the Länder, you are bound, first of all, to impose a very serious financial burden upon them, and secondly, you are bound to upset die delicate balance of any federal plan, because one Land—the one I have mentioned—is bound to have the greater majority of industries in it and is, therefore, bound to outweigh the other Länder. 2316 If we are not to do it through the Länder, we must invent some form of central control in the zone. Whatever solution the Government have—and I should like to dissociate hon. Members on this side from all nationalisation—we should be glad to hear of it, and we should be glad to acknowledge that Allied military control must continue in the interests of the district and in the interests of European peace.
This is particularly the case when one comes to examine the approach of the French. The French are primarily interested in the security angle and in producing the products of these districts for their own purposes, for their own rehabilitation and for the sake of Europe. That also applies to a certain extent to the Dutch, to the Belgians, and to Luxembourg, but in passing, before I come to examine the aspect of Anglo-French relations, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, it is interesting for the Committee to note that the Commission on the costs of the German occupation has just published a report in France, and we find there that no fewer than 450,000 civilians have been killed as the result of the German occupation in France, that 355,000 have been wounded or invalided, that 539.3 thousand million francs have been wasted by the destruction of soil, buildings, railways, roads, and forests, and that France calculates that plunder has accounted for some 690 thousand million francs. It is worth remembering these figures when we examine the point of view of France and her approach to the question of what shall be done to Germany.
I am glad to know—and I am very glad to accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement—that our negotiations on these subjects, which must include the French relationship to the German question, are going, as the right hon. Gentleman said, very well, and I presume that that means that the French are approaching some form of international control of the Ruhr and not a detachment of the Ruhr from Germany itself. We shall be very interested to hear of the progress made with regard to the Anglo-French Alliance. I understand there has been discussion about a clause in it on the possibility of joint consultation in the event of Germany reverting to a policy of aggression. If there is to be joint consultation, I wish the right hon. Gentleman well in finding 2317 a form of words which, I hope, will at once satisfy the French desire for security and at the same time fit into the general framework of the United Nations. Therefore, we shall look forward to a further statement from him about the Anglo-French discussions. I presume that considerable difficulty has been found over the rationalisation of different forms of production between ourselves and the French, and if the Minister who is to reply can give us any further indications on those points, we shall be very glad to have them.
I think I have, first, occupied the time of the Committee sufficiently long, and secondly, covered the main aspects of the points put by the right hon. Gentleman, and it seems appropriate for me, not being a Foreign Secretary myself, to take almost exactly half the time that was suitable to the right hon. Gentleman. Therefore, I end on the main question to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, namely, the future of the United Nations and the security system. It seems to me that a start has been made which, on the whole, as the right hon. Gentleman said, has been effective. I had to represent this country, very often alone, and very often without even those perpetual telegrams from the Foreign Office, in some very difficult years at the League of Nations in Geneva, and I think I was able to see there some of the grave shortcomings of international assemblies of this sort. I hope that much quicker progress will be made with the security side of the United Nations, because if the United Nations is to have teeth and thereby to be an improvement on the League machinery, which we all want to see, the teeth must be an effective denture. I do not believe that the Staffs Committee has either met very frequently or has had very effective meetings. If the Minister could enlighten us on this point, it would at least show us that something effective is likely to be done.
The Minister's definition of what collective security really means could not, I think, be improved upon, and we will accept it utterly, but we must be sure, at the same time, that when there is a transgressor the aggressive machinery is sufficiently satisfactory to deal with the transgressor. I remember how the Disarmament Conference of the League was sidetracked because some felt they had to make up for their own security in other 2318 ways than by an international protocol or international machinery, and I remember what a tragedy that was. Therefore, I hope that this time, with the great complication of the introduction of the atom bomb, the disarmament discussions will be real. We welcome what we have seen about a reduction in the armament provision in our own budget and in the Soviet budget up to date. I was reminded of some lines in Julius Cmsar when I was thinking of the future and the atom bomb. We have still time—Between the acting of a dreadful thing And the first motion, all the interim is Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream"—that is the interim we are in now—The genius and the mortal instruments Are then in council; and the state of a man,Like to a little kingdom, suffers then The nature of an insurrection.The unsettlement at the present time is therefore natural, because we are awaiting the result of the council of "the genius and the mortal instruments." We wish them success in council in Moscow, and we thus hope to avert "the acting of a dreadful thing."
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Younger (Grimsby)
Early in the Foreign Secretary's speech, my right hon. Friend called attention to the link which must exist between any settlement reached at Moscow and the reconstruction of European countries. I welcome that indication from the Foreign Secretary, and it is on that theme that I want to say a few words. I think it is generally realised everywhere that there is involved in the German settlement the question of the relations between the Soviet Union and the Western' Powers; but it is equally important to emphasise that there is also involved in the German settlement the whole economic and political development of Europe and the balance which the European economy will take. It was possible in prewar Europe for Germany to be a threat to the whole Continent because she was a single economic giant towering over relatively backward and underdeveloped countries, particularly on the east and south-east.
I will not weary the Committee with statistics. I would only say that if one looks up the figures for the years before the war one finds there were numerous countries whose trade with Germany varied from 25 per cent, to more than 2319 50 per cent. of their total foreign trade. Even with highly advanced countries such as Czechoslovakia and Italy, one finds that Germany was the most important foreign customer, often twice as large as the next nearest rival. The problem of Germany is therefore, in a very material sense, the problem of the whole of Europe. One has to realise that, in settling the level of industry in Germany, for instance, one is going a long way towards settling the levels of industry in many other European countries, both in the east and in the west.
Those European countries are just beginning to make their own long-term, economic post-war plans. So far, I am afraid, they are having to make those plans in considerable ignorance of the plans of their neighbours. What is perhaps even more important is that they are making them in complete ignorance of the basis on which they should attempt to develop their foreign trade. That is why I attach great importance, as I hope other Members of the Committee do, to the proposal for the setting up of an Economic Commission for Europe. The proposal is just now coming before the Economic and Social Council of U.N.O.
I need not trouble to describe the Commission. One of the proposals—they are not more than proposals at the moment— is that membership should include all European members of the United Nations, which I believe includes in this instance Russia and ourselves, and the United States of America. The proposed functions of the Commission include facilitation of concerted action for economic reconstruction, expansion of European economic activity and the development and integration of European economy.
As I read them these are by far the most promising of all the proposals which have been recently published for the integration or the uniting of Europe. There are various good reasons for this opinion. First of all, the idea of this Economic Commission has been welcomed, and to some extent promoted, by countries in the east of Europe. The idea has had approval from the Soviet Union. That fact enables them to avoid some of the major dangers of arousing political suspicion which have attended most other schemes for the unification of Europe.
Moreover, one must remember that the economic unity of Europe makes no sens 2320 eat all unless countries in Eastern Europe are included in it. I believe that the Continent was very nearly self-sufficient in food before the war, and a very large part of it came from the East. In oil, Europe was very far from being self-sufficient, but 8o per cent. of her resources also came from Eastern Europe. An even higher proportion probably comes from Eastern Europe now. Of the two great coalfields in Europe, one is in the East. One may expect that considerable development and industrialisation will take place, and that the countries in Eastern Europe will increase their agricultural productivity. It is clear that a united Europe is simply a fraud unless it includes the whole of these parts of Europe. The fact that this Economic Commission will have the cooperation of all the countries in those Eastern areas, is an enormous advantage.
Secondly, there are immediate practical tasks which such a Commission can undertake. There is a very urgent need to set up a clearing house for information about economic development, the sort of clearing house provided by U.N.R.R.A. in respect of relief. If all those countries in Europe are about to engage in great schemes of capital development it is vitally important that from the start one programme should be made to fit in with others. Moreover there are temporary organisations which have been operating since the end of the war including the European Coal Organisation and the European Central Inland Transport Organisation, and their activities should be put upon a permanent basis within the United Nations system. So far, certain Powers have refrained joining those organisations on the ground that they are not linked with the United Nations. One of the immediate practical organisational jobs that such a Commission can do is to co-ordinate and link up those temporary organisations.
In the work of the Commission there must, inevitably, be one very large and unknown factor. That is the future of Germany. I find it impossible to foresee at this stage and in any detail what should be the future constitution of Germany or the permanent level of German industry. I very much doubt whether even the Foreign Ministers in Moscow will be in a position to see these things accurately. There should therefore be in certain respects, limited objectives set by the Conference in Moscow. The first objective, which is very urgent, is that we should 2321 take Germany off the shoulders of the Allied taxpayers. There must be an emergency programme, first aid if you like so to call it, for the German economy. It must prevent the German population living at the expense of the population of the victorious powers. When those first aid measures have been completed, our further plans should remain flexible. We should not attempt to reach final and permanent solutions for Germany. At this stage we should not have another Potsdam agreement which would bind us in circumstances to which the agreement is inapplicable. I do not think we need be in a hurry to fix the final levels for German economy because for some time Germany will not reach those levels anyway. We have time in which to consider the matter.
In order of time, I would give a much higher priority to development, particularly industrial development, of some of Germany's neighbours, who were backward before the war. The development of those countries is a pre-condition for obtaining from them any agreement for a reasonable recovery of German economic life. Before the war, German economic power was a menace to them. Even now, in many instances they are still in an even more damaged condition than Germany, and they still think that the recovery of Germany would be a menace. In the course of reconstruction, however, when countries in the east of Europe have obtained much greater industrial power, it will be possible for them to agree to a greater degree of recovery of German industry. That would assist the restoration of European economy while ensuring that German economy was not again a menace to her neighbours. The two highest priorities which I would therefore put forward at the present time are that we should first get this Economic Commission going; and that at the same time we should never lose sight of the fact that the debates in Moscow are an essential part of the same problem of European economy. It is on the contribution which they make to the work of the Economic Commission which is to handle the reconstruction of European countries as a whole that the success or failure of the Moscow conference will, very largely, be judged.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Professor Savory (Queen's University of Belfast)
I am sure that the House 2322 has listened with the greatest possible interest to this Debate. We were all, I think, in full agreement with almost every word that was said by the Foreign Secretary; and I noticed that the spokesman of the Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) had also the ear of the House, and carried the House with him. We have just listened to an extremely interesting and valuable contribution by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger). We all, I am certain, derived a very great deal of information from what he said, and we have learned a great deal about subjects of which, I confess, I myself was very ignorant. I thank him very much for all he has said, and for the enlightenment he has given us. There was one point, however, on which he seemed to be rather doubtful, and that was the question of the constitution of Germany. I thihk, if I understood him aright, he had not quite made up his mind with regard to that point.
However, the Foreign Secretary was far less dubious on this question, and I must say I was delighted to hear the pronouncement which he made in favour of a federal Germany instead of a unified Germany. Looking back on the past, I think that we must all be agreed that, in the history of the pre-war period, perhaps, one of the most serious decisions was that taken by Hitler soon after coming into office in 1933, when he abolished all the federal States and created a unified Germany. We were surprised, I think, to find how easily Prussia, that State which had hitherto dominated Germany, was dissolved into this unified Germany. It is true, all of us know perfectly well, that Hitler did set up the centre of his Nazi regime in Bavaria at Nuremberg, hut that was pure camouflage. As a matter of fact the whole country was dominated in the most absolute fashion from Berlin.
We have to go back a certain extent in history to find out what really is the best solution for the German problem. The first mistake was the fundamental error of the Treaty of Vienna. It was not the fault of that great Ulsterman, Lord Castlereagh. He was overborne by the ambition of Prussia. But it was a profound mistake to hand over to Prussia the Rhine Province—the Rhine Province 2323 which differed, absolutely and entirely, in all its interests from Prussia. When that was done the position of Hanover was that of a country between two fires. Hanover was placed between Brandenburg Prussia and Rhenish Prussia. The position of Hanover was placed in the utmost jeopardy. We cannot forget that in that internecine civil war between Germany and Austria in i866 the pretext was seized for the complete annexation of Hanover by Prussia. In spite of the gallant resistance of the blind old King and the stubborn battle of Langensalza, Hanover fell victim to Prussia's domination, and, at the same time, not merely Hanover but the free city of Frankfurt—Frankfurt going back with its glorious history to the Middle Ages, Frankfurt the capital of the old German Empire—was also annexed, and also Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Nassau, but Hesse-Darmstadt was saved, mainly by the intervention of Queen Victoria.
This policy was the policy of Bismarck, this complete domination by Prussia of Germany, and the expulsion of Austria from the old German Reich. But even Bismarck, after 1866, when he set up—and this was really a masterpiece of statesmanship—when he set up the North German Confederation, was still prepared to allow very considerable autonomy to the different States. For instance, he, was obliged to conciliate Bavaria by allowing to Bavaria her own army, and her own post office with her own postage stamps. In the North German Confederation those States did enjoy very considerable power.
In 1870, after the setting up of the second German Empire, when the whole of, not merely North Germany, but the other southern German States were brought into a unified Reich, even then Bismarck was wise enough to allow such countries as Bavaria, and Wurtemberg and Saxony to preserve their kings, and the other States their Grand Dukes or their dukes or their hereditary princes. There was still a very considerable amount of federal autonomy. Those different States had not only their own princes, but they had also their own parliaments, which had very wide powers. Therefore, the position of Germany, right up to 1918, was a continuation of the old Germany of the Middle Ages, with only certain modifications imposed by Prussia.
2324 In 1918, the revolution which started in Berlin swept through the whole of Germany, and all the hereditary monarchies, the hereditary Grand Duchies, the hereditary principalities were swept away at one stroke. But the republican leaders, the men of Weimar, did not venture to abolish the parliaments. After the princes had gone, the parliaments of these different States still remained. That was the case till the accession of Hitler in 1933 to absolute power. Then it was that, for the first time, Germany sacrificed her federal system and became an absolute, unified State, subject to the dictation of one man. And that was the principal cause of the war. Hitler overrode not merely the Treaty of Versailles, which, he said, had been imposed upon Germany, but he also overrode the Treaty of Locarno, which, he said—and rightly said —Germany had voluntarily accepted; and not merely voluntarily accepted, but actually suggested through that great statesman, Stresemann.
But the capital moment was reached on 7th March, 1936, when, in spite of the Treaty of Versailles, and in spite of the Treaty of Locarno, Hitler invaded the demilitarised zone of the Rhine. Whether it was, as the French alleged, the fault of the British in not backing them up, or whether, as the British alleged, it was the fault of the French, on that subject three very important books have been published recently—the "Memoirs" of M. Francois Poncet, the French Ambassador in Berlin; the Souvenirs of M. Noel, French Ambassador in Warsaw; and last but not least, the book which he did not publish in France, but which has been published in Switzerland, the "Memoirs" of M. Georges Bonnet, one of the notorious persons as regards the war. When that demilitarised zone was invaded without the slightest resistance, surely it was the duty of France, being the most interested party, to resist; and I am perfectly certain that, as we were bound by the Treaty of Locarno, we should most assuredly have backed up France in any step which she determined to take. We should not have failed to carry out the obligations of the Treaty of Versailles and also of the Treaty of Locarno.
But what was the fatal result of not opposing that step? It was this. In March, 1936, Hitler entered Cologne, and in the following October the King of the Belgians made that very striking statement before 2325 his Cabinet, that now that the Germans had occupied the Rhineland, Belgium could no longer be protected, and she must revert to the system of neutrality she had adopted before the war. It is true that Great Britain and France were bound to Belgium by a unilateral obligation-They undertook, notwithstanding the fact that Belgium had resumed her neutrality, to go to her help in the case of invasion. That was the cause of the disaster. Belgium observed so scrupulously her neutrality that she scarcely entered into any negotiations, either with the French General Staff or with the British General Staff, and the result w as that we left the line which had been fortified for eight months. In response to the appeal of the King of the Belgians, we marched into Belgium. We fell into the trap of abandoning that magnificently fortified line in Northern France and occupied another which was scarcely fortified at all. We were compelled to abandon this second line, and there followed the heroic disaster of Dunkirk, when we lost the whole of our arms and all our equipment. Are we going to learn from the past some lessons for the future? After the Armistice of 1918, Marshal Foch came over to London to interview Mr. Lloyd George, and he did his utmost to convince him that France could only be protected on the Rhine. He said that by a miracle we held the line of the Rhine and he quoted that beautiful Psalm in the Vulgate version: "Non nobis, Domine, sed tuo nomini da Gloriani."
It was nothing but a miracle that we held the Rhine. Why abandon the glorious Rhine? Why give up the impregnable Rhine? But he was not able to convince Mr. Lloyd George, and again he went before the Big Four, where he prophesied that if the Rhine were not held by France, Paris would he occupied in the next war in five weeks. His prophecy was fulfilled absolutely to the very letter. Not content with that, he went again to the French Cabinet, presided over by President Poincare, and insisted on exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, the French were compelled to accept the Treaty of Guarantees. That Treaty must not be confused with the Treaty of Versailles, as it so often is. It was an entirely different Treaty, which guaranteed the Rhine frontier, and said that in the case of aggression, Great Britain and the 2326 United States would both come to the rescue of France, but unless the Treaty were implemented by both, it would not come into force. What happened? That Treaty passed through the British House of Commons and the British House of Lords unanimously, but in America it was not even submitted to the Senate, and only came before the Foreign Affairs Committee, where it was rejected. Therefore, the Treaty, not having been implemented by the United States, never came into force. France was abandoned to her fate, and five years before she need, she gave up the last of the Rhine bridges, Mainz. There was no security for her, as we have seen just now when I described the invasion by Hitler of the demilitarised Zone.
In view of what the Foreign Secretary has said, what are we going to ask him to take with him to Moscow? We should ask him to take this with him: that the unified Germany must be transformed into the old federal Germany. The Rhine Province must be neutralised, and the left bank of the Rhine must be, as it was under the Treaty of Versailles, a demilitarised zone, and not only the left bank, but 5o kilometres around each of the bridgeheads of Cologne, Mainz and Coblenz. The whole of the Rhine Province must be detached from Prussia. Prussia has already lost East Prussia, and she must be required to give back the portion of Saxony which she annexed after the war of 1815. She has already lost Silesia, which Frederick the Great seized after robbing the ally whom he had promised to defend. Silesia has gone, and Prussia must be reduced to the old province of Brandenburg, as under Frederick the Great before the invasion of Silesia.…
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
The hon. Member has made a mistake. Prussia did not consist only of the province of Brandenburg under Frederick the Great, but under the Elector.
§ Professor Savory
I am quite ready to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member that we should go back not merely to Frederick the Great, but also, if possible. to the Grand Elector.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
May I express the hope that the hon. Member does not go back too far?
§ Professor Savory
The interruption led me to go back to the great Elector. The first point I would ask the Foreign Secretary to insist upon in Moscow is the breaking up of Germany into the old Federal States, and the abolition of that unified spearhead which was one of the principal causes of the war. Secondly, there must be neutralisation of the Rhine. The Rhine must be held by the Allies. There must be the old garrisons in all the bridgehead towns, so that we do not make the terrible blunder we made after the Treaty of 1918. in sacrificing the only frontier by which France can be defended, namely the Rhine. If the Foreign Secretary will insist on these two points, the reduction of Germany to a purely federal system, and the occupation of the Rhine bridges, I feel certain that in future we shall be preserved from another aggression from Germany. Surely we are going to learn the lesson from the invasions of 1870, 1914, and 1940, and adopt the two very simple remedies on which I have ventured to insist.
§ 5.49 P.m.
§ Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)
I do not intend to pursue the hon. Member for the Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory) into pre-history history. And perhaps therefore the Committee will allow me to begin by making one or two genera remarks, which I believe will put into proportion what I want to say. First of all, we on this side of the Committee, unlike the late Prime Minister, in whose Cabinet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler) played such a distinguished part, do not consider foreign policy is a matter of far-away countries about which we know nothing.
We, on this side, have always considered that foreign policy finds its truest reflection in the wage packet. I think that ordinary people in the country will judge the reputation of this Government, not by its reputation among Statesmen and diplomats, but by its reputation on the breakfast table. [An HON. MEMBER:" And in the fireplaces."] Yes, and in the fireplaces. It will be in the ration book that the success or failure of our policy will be marked. It is for that reason that one is glad to see that the first object of our foreign policy will be the achievement of that universal pacification which, by closing the gap in the manpower budget, can, on the short-term, help this country forward. I think that my right 2328 hon. Friend the Secretary of State will agree that it is not a bloated military force which alone can support this country, but that it must have behind it the industrial might that can justify it.
But there is the further objective of foreign policy, as the Foreign Secretary has said. The whole future prosperity of our country, our whole standard of living, depends upon our achieving what the United States have achieved, a large area where our commodities can find a free and untrammelled market, a large area in which our products can be sold. For that reason, our relations with the eastern nations of Europe are of great importance. We ought to examine, very seriously and soberly, the differences which at present appear, now and then, to divide us from the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. I have been shocked—although I was not altogether surprised—to hear the irresponsible way in which hon. Members opposite have seen fit, from time to time, both appropriate and inappropriate, to traduce and revile the new nations of Europe. I remember, when I was sitting somewhere in the House where I was not able to speak, listening to a Debate which dealt with a visit of some of my hon. Friends to Yugoslavia. I listened to hear one generous sentiment, one fair word, about a country which, whatever its faults, had shed its blood without stint in the Allied cause. It was shocking that we did not hear from the opposite side one word in favour of a country which lost, in the common cause with us, 1,500,000 people out of a total population of 14,000,000. Is not this alone a reason that Members on both sides should try to understand the difficulties which face the new countries of Europe.
The Foreign Secretary I think, rightly, insists on democracy among these new nations, but it is very necessary that we—particularly on this side—should realise that democracy is often used as a stalking-horse by people who have no interest in it, but who have more sinister aims which they would prefer not to disclose. This is a matter on which one should speak out openly and frankly, a matter in which, in the immortal phrase of my right hon. Friend, we should "put our cards on the table." [HON. MEMBERS:" Face upwards."] We should put them on the table irrespective of how we place 2329 them. Foreign nations' suspicions are aroused because in every country democracy is differently defined. Let me give one example. Nobody would suggest that Mr. Byrnes, recently Secretary of State in the United States Government, was not democratic. But if one examines the whole machinery of government by which he was compelled to reach his position, one sees that he himself was compelled to arrive at it by a most undemocratic process. No one would deny that Mr. Byrnes would do his utmost to see that democracy was enforced. As Secretary of State, of course, he had the equal duty, under the American Constitution, of seeing that individual States of the Union obeyed that Treaty which binds them together, the Federal Constitution, as he had to see that democracy was observed abroad. Bearing that in mind let me say a word or two about the various complaints made by the United States, and compare them with what the "Congressional Record" itself says about the elections in Mr. Byrnes' home State at the times he was a Senator and Congressman for that State.
A number of charges have been made, both by ourselves and the United States Government, against various nations in Eastern Europe. A complaint was made on 23rd October to Bulgaria, and a Note was sent to Rumania on 14th November. There were also some protests which, while they did not have the full backing of my right hon. Friend, were at least thoroughly endorsed by the hon. Member for Queen's University, and were addressed to Poland in January. The gravamen of these charges was this that the Government conducting those elections was not representative of popular opinion. That, by itself, is not a very serious charge. It was true of the Caretaker Government which conducted the Election in this country. The really serious charges are of a different nature. They are that there was only one ticket or list, that Opposition votes were not properly counted, that electors were either bribed or terrorised. Now let me read to the House what was said about the first election when Mr. Byrnes himself was elected as a Congressman for the Second Congressional District of South Carolina. Mr. Byrnes stood on the Democratic "ticket" or list, and when the senior Senator from South Carolina came to discuss in the Senate the election of this "ticket"— 2330 speaking of the rival "Coolidge ticket"—he said:I think Mr. Coolidge received 1,100 votes in my State. I do not know where he got them. I was astonished to know that they were cast, and shocked to know that they were counted … I think somebody just counted a few in order to keep it from being, as the fellow said, 'new nanimous.' I know that we have not got that number of Republicans in this State, and I do not believe that we have that many colored people who could vote …The potential colored votes, if they were able to succeed in registering thorn-selves, are just under 200,000.
He goes on:What is the result? Out of a possible 445,000 voting population in my State my colleague … received 14,000 votes. Why? Because the white Democratic primary settles the question. There is never any opposition there are never any two tickets. If there should be any opposition, even at the last minute, it would take only a very short time to let them know and have them come down and cast their ballots in order to prevent any independence that may he attempted. Senators, these are the straight facts and true conditions in South Carolina.These are not isolated cases. I am not making this point as an attack on America I think that the last thing we should do is to throw out irresponsible charges against any country. I am trying to show it is desirable that, when we look at the affairs of foreign nations, we should have a proper perspective. There is something illogical in Mr. Byrnes complaining of a one party ticket, when he himself has never been elected on less than 98 per cent. of the total votes cast on any occasion when he stood for any elective office. It is not only in his State that this problem occurs. If one reads the report of the Nye Commission on the electoral practices in Pennsylvania, one finds that it is largely filled with references to persons referred to as "stuffers" and "repeaters." I had perhaps batter explain that a "stuffier" is someone who visits the polling booth only once but deposits on that occasion a large number of ballot papers. A "repeater" is someone who goes to the polling booths on innumerable occasions, ‡but is always careful only to leave one ballot paper on each occasion.
When one deals with intimidation one has to remember that in Spartenburg in 1940, which is the home town of Mr. Byrnes, when the negroes attempted to exercise their vote, they were battered down in the streets. Intimidation be- 2331 fore an Election is not peculiar to Eastern Europe, and I do not think that we get far by making attacks of this nature. But I think that we ought to make clear that it is a little illogical that we should condemn the Governments of Poland, Rumania or Bulgaria, because they have not, as yet, after five or six years in the turmoil of war and revolution, reached a political standard which the State of South Carolina, after 70 years of peace, has not been able to achieve.
Perhaps I may put to the hon. Member for Queen's University what I understand to be the ideals of the new Poland. The people in charge of Poland at the moment aim at setting up a Socialist, or, if you like, a Communist State. They look forward to achieving a closer union with the Soviet Union, and they aim at regaining what they believe to be the historic Polish territories of the West. In trying to carry that out, they are hindered in various ways by what they think is a small minority of people opposed to them, and prepared to oppose them by force of arms. They suspect these people, rightly or wrongly, of operating from territory outside Poland, and they believe that these people would be prepared to use the democratic machinery, if they were allowed to use it, for disrupting the State.
I have referred to the hon. Member for Queen's University, because it seems to me that that problem has a close parallel with the problem which his own Government in Northern Ireland had to face in 1922. I am sorry that he spoke before me, because I feel that he could have helped the Committee when we come to deal with these questions. Let me refer shortly to the points which he has made from time to time in this House. The last time we were discussing Poland—I do not think I am doing the hon. Gentleman an injustice—he told us about the difficulties of Mr. Mikolajczyk, that great Agrarian leader, who was forbidden to make speeches in some place or another, and who was hindered from entering this or that constituency.
In Ireland in 1922, there was another well known agrarian leader—a certain Mr. de Valera—and he chose to stand for the Parliament of Northern Ireland; and the Government of Northern Ireland, for reasons of security, thought that he ought not to be allowed to enter his constituency during the Election. I am not attributing 2332 any blame, one way or another—I merely say there is here the kind of difficulty, which arises when Governments have to take exceptional measures. However, despite the ban, the gentleman was elected, and an order was then passed which prohibited him under pain of imprisonment, from going within io miles of Parliament and that not being sufficient to control his activities, the order was extended to exclude him altogether from the territory for which he had been elected a Member of Parliament.
The hon. Gentleman said, with regard to Poland, that the police were political. That may be so, and it may be unfortunate, but I should have thought that he of all people would have realised that, in these difficult circumstances, the police have very often to be political. I would draw his attention to the interesting Debate, reported in the Northern Ireland HANSARD, which describes the case of a police inspector who combined with that duty, I think, the grand mastership of an Orange lodge—a position to which he had been elected at the suggestion of the Minister of Home Affairs. The matter would never have come up in Parliament at all, had there not been some occasion when it was desired by the Minister of Home Affairs to hold an inquiry, in which the police officer was concerned, and the Minister was annoyed when everyone who was summoned to the inquiry, received such threatening letters that they felt that they ought not to attend. The gentleman in question who is extremely able, and conscientious, is well known in the Northern Ireland Parliament, where he serves now as a Unionist Member. The hon. Gentleman, when discussing the question of political murders, said that in Poland we were up against political murders of every sort—
§ The Chairman (Major Milner)
It is not altogether clear to me what is the point which the hon. Member is trying to make, and I do not think that a detailed discussion which has ranged from South Carolina to Northern Ireland, is within the ambit of these Estimates.
§ Mr. Bing
With regard to South Carolina, we are dealing with a vote on diplomatic and consular services, and 2333 obviously political events in the United States are one of the factors which determine the extent of our diplomatic relations generally. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, I think that it is very desirable to see, when we are making criticisms of foreign countries, whether or not matters of a similar sort do not take place at home, as this serves as a basis of comparison on which to assess the charges. I will deal very shortly with the other points which I have in mind. I should like to say on this question of political murders, with which I regret the hon. Gentleman the Member for Queen's University did not deal on this occasion—although he has referred to it on many occasions previously—there is the difficulty, when investigating these things, to find anyone who is impartial. We always thought that the coroner was particularly impartial, but when the Government of Northern Ireland came into power they found that that was not so, and they have a Defence Regulation which prohibits the coroner, where necessary, from holding inquests. The reason for that was given by the Attorney-General of Northern Ireland when he said:We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there are some areas where the coroners are not in sympathy with us.
§ Professor Savory
May I ask what relation these matters have to the question under discussion? These matters are within the exclusive province of the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland.
§ The Chairman
I think there is substance in what the hon. Member for Queen's University (Professor Savory) says. The hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) should not go into details. It is quite clear that none of these Votes covers the detailed operations of another country. This Debate is concerned with foreign affairs, and we are concerned with the operations and policy of this Government, in relation it may be to these other Governments, but not the detailed administration of other countries.
§ Mr. Bing
With great respect, if you, Major Milner, would care to look at the appropriate Section of the Government of Ireland Act, 192o, you will see that it is specifically stated that there is an overriding responsibility in this House for 2334 the conduct of affairs in Ireland. I am merely addressing to the Committee the argument that we should, before attacking the practices going on in foreign countries, make certain that within our own territory, which is under the control of this House, the same abuses, which we complain of abroad, do not, in fact, occur at home. With the greatest respect, I do feel I am in Order in dealing with that.
Perhaps I will be permitted to sum up the general points I have made without making any detailed reference to activities of various sorts. As I understand it, the charges which the hon. Member for Queen's University has from time to time brought against the Government of Poland and other Governments of Eastern Europe is that they have prohibited meetings, they have restricted people's residence, they have suppressed opposition newspapers and parties and so on. Again I will only go over the headings, but if one compares those charges with the position in Northern Ireland what does one find? The Government of Northern Ireland have a Special Powers Act as a permanent part of their Constitution, under which a man can be sent to prison for a long term without trial.
§ Professor Savory
I must object. I never mentioned Poland in my speech at all. I confined myself to the Foreign Office Vote and I was dealing exclusively with Germany.
§ Mr. Bing
I am only keeping on the point for one second longer. The hon. Gentleman did not mention Poland, because perhaps he thought that he would weary the Committee if he went into that matter again as he had dealt with it so thoroughly and exhaustively on so many occasions previously. I have been through with great interest and great care: he speeches made by the hon. Member for Queen's University, and I find a parallel for every charge he has brought against the countries of Eastern Europe, taking place within the territory over which there is a subordinate Parliament and from which he comes. The prohibition of public and private meetings has been made part of the permanent law of Northern Ireland, while the Minister of Home Affairs in Northern Ireland can prohibit a newspaper, film and even the rendering of a gramophone record. He can prohibit any symbol, flag, or colours. 2335 There are people in Northern Ireland who have suffered long terms of imprisonment for wearing a flower the colour and species of which were rightly or wrongly considered provocative.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
Can the hon. Member tell the Committee how many Members of Parliament have been imprisoned in Northern Ireland including any Members of the Opposition parties?
§ Mr. Delargy (Manchester, Platting)
Yes, I can. One Member of this House was imprisoned in Northern Ireland and kept there for 18 months without knowing why—Mr. Cahir Healy, who represented Fermanagh and Tyrone in this House.
§ Mr. Bing
I would follow this point, but I feel that we are allowing the question to go rather too wide. If I may conclude dealing with the powers of the Government of Northern Ireland, if anyone does not come within any of these prohibitions, he can be imprisoned all the the same without trial at the will of the Minister of Home Affairs. While such things exist under the jurisdiction of this Parliament we ought to look carefully at any criticism we make of democracy abroad. I can understand, for example, the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) criticising both the Government of Northern Ireland and the Government of Poland, but what I cannot understand is how hon. Members opposite should commend what they call the finest flowering of democracy in Northern Ireland and in the same breath condemn as the greatest form of tyranny the same things when they happen in Poland.
I think one of the greatest disadvantages with which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had to contend, has been that he is heir to the foreign policy of the party opposite, who advocate a democracy it is true, but a democracy which turns out to be the democracy exemplified in the Government with which I have just dealt. My right hon. Friend has also another heritage and I believe a very precious heritage which comes from this side of the House—from the Labour movement. When, in 1920, the infant Soviet Republic was in danger and was being strangled in the name of democracy by people who knew very little about democracy, but who now sit on the Front 2336 Opposition Bench, my right hon. Friend tore aside this veil of hypocrisy and founded "The Councils of Action." That seemed to me one of the first most important steps in the tradition of a foreign policy which has no counterpart or dualism on the other side of the Committee. There was the civil war in Spain. It was not from the ranks of hon. Gentlemen opposite, experienced as they are in the practice of arms, that came the men who were prepared to fight almost unarmed against the might of Fascism. No, it was from the working men and women of this country including volunteers from that despised class, the left-wing intellectuals, who when democracy was in its greatest danger stepped in to defend it bare handed. I believe I speak for my hon. Friends, when I say that one of the proudest things we recall is that the battalion in which they fought in Spain was named after my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
Relations with America seem to me perhaps to be the most important factor of the moment, and if I may I will therefore conclude by reminding the House of one thing. The United States were at their lowest ebb in the 1860's—caught in a terrible civil war. At that time almost everyone in this country deserted the cause of progress, and made their peace or tried to make their peace as well as they could with the Southern States. I am glad to see the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Davies) is not here because I would be obliged to remind him of what Mr. Gladstone said in 1862. He supported the Southern States, and he was not then on the side of the angers. In those days, the progressive North had only one friend, the working people of Britain. I think that one can do nothing better to improve Anglo-American relations than just to recall for a moment the words exchanged between President Lincoln and the Manchester working men, thrown out and impoverished by the cotton shortage yet true to their ideals. Let me just read to the Committee what was said. The working men of Manchester wrote to President Lincoln:Our interests, moreover, are identified with yours. We are truly one people, though locally separate. And if you have any ill-wisher., here be assured that they are chiefly those who oppose liberty at home, and that they will be powerless to stir up quarrels 2337 between us, from the very day in which your country becomes, undeniably and without exception, the home of the free.…And President Lincoln replied:I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they excite admiration, esteem and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.Is there not in this exchange the secret of our relations with the United States? If Europe has any ill-wishers today, are they not chiefly found among those who oppose liberty at home? Can we ourselves have any unity of foreign policy abroad with those who would curtail democracy within the British Empire? Does not the past point to the way forward for the Labour Party? Does it not show us that the path does not lie in the continuity of the policy of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? It lies in the continuation of a policy exemplified in that exchange of messages, shown working to the full in the Councils of Action, and exemplified again in the Attlee battalion in the International Brigade. That is the clear-cut line of policy which it seems to me this Party would be well advised to consider.
When the Foreign Secretary goes to Moscow he will bear with him the very good wishes of us all and our desire that he will be able to achieve two things. First, an immediate and universal pacification which will enable us to demobilise sufficient of our forces to close the gap in our manpower budget, and, secondly, a general and perpetual peace which will enable the development in Europe of that great area of trade which alone can make us permanently prosperous and happy.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Hollis (Devizes)
I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) that nothing could be more important than that we should find some way, if we can, of dissipating the suspicions between this country and Russia. What is the situation—a situation in which none of us can rejoice? It is that 18 months ago hon. Members opposite and their friends, with complete sincerity, appealed to the electorate on grounds, 2338 among others, that they would have a special capacity for getting on with the Russians. The electorate voted for them, on that ground among others. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told us that Left understands Left. Now we look around the world and find the situation—in which, as I have said, none of us can rejoice—that these two great Socialist Governments are at issue with one another in very large portions of the globe. That issue constitutes the most serious of the foreign problems of the world.
There are a number of ways by which one could deal with that problem. There are some who think one can deal with it by abusing the British Government, and personally I do not think that that is very helpful. There are others who think that they can deal with it by abusing the Russian Government, and I do not think that is very helpful either. Then there are apparently some who, stranger still, think they can solve the problem by abusing the American Government, and that is even less helpful still. Finally, there are the strangest critics of all who find a solution in abusing the Government of Northern Ireland with what I consider to be complete irrelevance. If I may, I should like to return to foreign affairs.
One thing has been clearly proved by the serious developments of the last 18 months. It is that those people were a great deal too simple-minded who said—indeed, people sometimes still say it—that the international pacification of the world would be automatically solved merely by putting Socialist Governments into power. I would ask the Committee to consider, as passionlessly as possible, what is the difficulty of the Russian point of view. I remember that before the last war I used to have conversations with a Russian diplomat and he used to explain to me, "It is not fair to say that we Communists want to make revolutions in other countries. You misunderstand us if you say that. The way we are compelled to look at it as Marxians is that we think that all non-Communist societies are coming to an end anyway. There are these inherent contradictions in non-Communist economies which mean that they are inevitably riding for a fall. Therefore, the problem, as we see it, is not that we want to create disturbances in those countries but that they are coming to an end anyway and the only question is whether we shall allow 2339 them to collapse into chaos, or take such steps as are open to us to guide them on to the next logical point in their route towards the Communist state."
Granted the Marxian premises, that is an entirely coherent and, indeed, irresistible argument, and I am sure that one must understand that the Russians today, do honestly believe that all these bourgeois Governments of Western Europe are coming to an end. And whether hon. Members opposite like it or not—indeed, whether it he fair or not—when the Russians think of bourgeois Governments they include the Government opposite. There are many people who think that the Bolsheviks came into power by overthrowing the Tsarist regime. In fact, they did nothing of the sort: they obtained power by overthrowing the Parliamentary Socialists. If we read the extremely interesting letters of Lenin we discover that he believed, as all Bolsheviks believed when the revolution took place in Russia, that at the end of the 1914–18 war when Germany collapsed it would be possible to move Communism to Berlin and thence into Europe. That was their expectation. They expected Communist revolutions after the 1914–18 war. There is very little doubt that we shall find that they had the same expectation of revolutions after the end of this war. They thought there would be a war between Great Britain and Germany—in which they were right—they thought that Russia would be able to keep out of that war—in which they were wrong—and they thought that when it came to an end, Communist regimes would establish themselves in Europe. All the logic of Marxism compelled them to believe that.
That is what they thought. What happened? In the closing months of the war the Russian Communist forces were able to advance themselves to the line Stettin to Trieste, and behind that curtain, as it is fashionable to call it, there are now either Communist or near-Communist régimes. Sometimes we have a pure Communist régime, sometimes a Coalition government. A Coalition government in such a country means the sort of government in which the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) might be Prime Minister, and to show that it was not a one-party regime the hon. Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing) might be included as 2340 Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the one hand, over half of Europe there has been this very strong advance. On the other hand, over the rest of Europe something quite different has happened. It is important that people should understand what has happened. What has happened is that wherever there have been free elections—in Austria, Hungary, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Norway—wherever the people have had the opportunity of expressing their Opinions, they have expressed opinions very decidedly against Communist regimes. They have turned against Communism—and to whom? The Attorney-General wrote a letter to "The Times"—
§ Mrs. Manning
And will not be for a long time. But does the hon. Gentleman know the exact number of Communist Members in the French Parliament?
§ Mr. Hollis
I am perfectly well aware it is the biggest party, and I am also aware that it is not in the majority. Perhaps the hon. Lady will allow me to continue. The Attorney-General said, very truly, that Europe was not turning to the Conservatives. I entirely agree if, by "Conservatives" is meant the old Right Wing prewar parties, that Europe is not returning to them. On the other hand, the Attorney-General drew from the lesson that if the issue was not between the Conservatives and the Communists, then it must be between the Socialists and the Communists. In that he was completely misinformed, and the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus)—it is not often that I have the opportunity of agreeing with him—in his controversy in "The Times" with the Attorney-General, was completely right. The last thing they are turning to is the Socialists.
Some hon. Members opposite have put down a Motion asking the country to cooperate with the Socialist countries of 2341 Europe. The difficulty about that Motion is that there do not happen to be any Socialist countries in Europe, with the exception of Norway. It is a policy of co-operating with a ghost. It is perfectly true that the policy of parliamentary Socialism may stagger on for a few ineffectual years or perhaps months in this country, but one thing which is perfectly clear, for better or worse—I like antiques and sometimes regret it—is that Parliamentary Socialism in the world at large is a creed of the past and that the world has passed beyond it. Hon. Members opposite are museum relics. We must face those facts.
It is most important to understand who have been the new parties gaining in the elections on the continent of Europe. There has emerged a series of new parties with different names—such as M. R. P. or Christian Democrats—but all of the same nature, parties which are not in the least Conservative in the old sense of the word and not in the least Socialist. There are parties which the hon. Member for Gateshead referred to in his letter as Catholic Conservative parties, but of those parties on the Continent there is only one which in any ordinary sense one can call a Conservative Party. That is the Populist Party in Greece, and that one excludes Catholics from its membership so that the hon. Member's description was not entirely accurate.
The other parties are neither Conservative nor Socialist. Their differences from Socialists are not differences of immediate economic policies at all. In the politics of France there has not been very much difference between the M.R.P. and the Socialists or Communists as to what industry should be immediately nationalised and what industry should not. Rightly or wrongly these parties are willing to tolerate a great deal of nationalisation. The issue is a different one. It is that these new parties demand that social and economic problems should be solved within a framework where absolute values of liberty and justice are recognised as paramount, and refuse to admit that words such as "liberty" and "justice" should be treated as mere economic counters. For better or worse, that is the issue of the new age as opposed to the past age. That is the issue of the new age on which parties are today shaping themselves—a division not on economic lines 2342 but on spiritual lines. That is the fact we have to face.
Therefore Europe has for the moment, broadly speaking, divided itself into two, with the iron curtain between—the countries which live under the old plan of an economic world and the countries which are striving towards the new plan of the spiritual world. An uneasy peace rests between them. We hope that they are not too optimistic who tell us that frontier and such-like problems between them can be settled somehow or other for the moment and that peace can be kept between them so that the worst cannot happen. We may hope that in that way peace in future can be obtained. But that is a timid sort of security and something very much less than we had hoped for in the days of the war, and very much less than we hoped to be able to give the world in the future.
The great issue is whether there is any hope of doing anything better than merely patching up those differences with an uneasy compromise. In the long run, the situation is a great deal more hopeful for two reasons. The first reason is that the great Marxian society is not working out to Marxian conclusions at all. It is not at all working out towards the classless society but, for better or worse, to something much more of the nature of a managerial society. The capitalist societies of the West are also moving in the same direction, to a managerial plan. It is in the general lesson of history that there comes from time to time a conflict between two apparently irreconcilable forces. That has happened before in Europe. The general lesson of history is that when that occurs something happens as happened in the 15th and 16th centuries when there were the great wars of religion. To begin with, the Catholics said that life was not tolerable unless the Protestants were entirely exterminated, and the Protestants that life was intolerable unless the Catholics were exterminated. After a period of conflict and stress there emerged not a victory of one of those creeds over the other, but the victory of a tertius gaudens—a third point of view—in that case the people who demanded religious toleration and believed in a new sort of society which would not admit of those exclusive religious claims. That is the way history will work now. There will emerge a new society that will be neither 2343 Socialist nor Capitalist but of a third pattern. Therefore it is for that reason very important that the Foreign Secretary, to whom we wish well, and any other statesmen of responsibility who can, should give the world this important breathing space.
The second reason why I am optimistic is that no one who knows anything of the Russian nature and of Russian literature can believe that this denial of the spiritual nature of man is a permanent state in which the Russians will be content to rest. No society can for long be built upon a complete denial of science, and whatever we think of Marxian economics, Marxian metaphysics, the entirely out of date materialism of our great grandfathers is in flat contradiction of all modern science, and it is quite certain that any society which will survive has itself to revise those metaphysics. Indeed, this challenge to the totalitarian system came most vividly, by a curious paradox, in the nineteenth century from the greatest of Russian thinkers himself, from Dostoevsky. Not for one moment do I think that Russia will ever go back to political or economic arrangements that existed before 1917. We shall never get the Russia of the Romanoffs back again, but we shall get the Russia of Dostoevsky back again; we shall find a new Russia which will insist answering the new questions and the new problem, but answering the new problem with the old and with the eternal answers.
Therefore, the question for the moment is, what message we can send to the Foreign Secretary on his journey to Moscow. It is not for this Committee, and certainly not for one of the newest and humblest members of this Committee to attempt to dictate in any way any detail of the arrangements he should strive to make in a situation which must necessarily be one of arrangement with other statesmen but, quite dearly, we can say to him that so far as he has shown patience in the past, he deserves our commendation and, so far as he will show patience in the future, he deserves our goodwill. Secondly, and beyond that, we might, at any rate in generalisation, say this: that however we may be uncertain about details, it is an essential of foreign policy that, in the old medieval phrase, "words should be cousin to the deed"; that is to say, a very large pro- 2344 portion of the troubles of the world have come from this evil habit of patch paper formulæ, of people inventing formulæ in order to pretend to cover differences which are really not covered at all.
Take the situation of Potsdam. There was nothing particularly wrong in the idea of treating Germany as an economic unit. It was a good plan in itself, if it could have been done, but there was something a great deal wrong in merely saying that we would do that, when, in fact, it would be impossible to do so. So we have the political problem of Germany. I appreciated what the right hon. Gentleman said about the undesirability of irrevocably dividing either Germany or Europe into two parts. We do not want any divisions that can be avoided, and if the right hon. Gentleman can find at Moscow an entirely new spirit, and can bring back a genuine settlement and agreement on the German problem that is wholeheartedly subscribed to by all the great Powers of the world, we shall congratulate him and we shall support him loyally. But we hope he will not bring back a mere formula that pretends to be what it is not.
We do not advocate the division of Germany between East and West, but I think it would be much better to have a frank division of Germany between East and West than a pretence that Germany was not divided when, in point of fact, she was. I do not think it is a good thing, but I do not think it would necessarily be an irremediable evil if Germany should be divided between East and West, because, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory) said in his eloquent speech, this Prussian Germany is a very modern thing, the creation of a long lifetime, an unnatural thing. One way and another, if Europe is to have security, we want to bring it to an end. The best way to bring it to an end would, I agree, be to create a free federal German unity, but another less good, but not impossible, way to bring it to an end would be by a division of Germany between East and West which would at least have this advantage, that it would mean that the unnatural parts of Germany, the Prussian parts, were separated from the rest.
The right hon. Gentleman, in a once familiar phrase, laid down as the principle of his foreign policy—and it is not 2345 a bad principle of foreign policy—that he hoped to see the day when he could go down to Victoria and get a ticket to wherever in the world he wanted to go. Among all the high falutin' things said about foreign policy, there are many things that have been said which were a great deal less profound than that. That is no bad test of foreign policy, and I think it is no bad test that we should have a special friendship with those countries which are at any rate making some attempt to allow the right hon. Gentleman to take his tickets at Victoria; and if we find countries that are not making that attempt, then we have frankly to recognise that here is a different kind of society.
That is all that I appeal to him to do, to make the word the cousin to the deed. Let us have friendship between all nations if we can get it; let us have unity between all nations if we can get it; but do not let us say we have friendship and unity when there is neither friendship nor unity, for that is the worst obstacle to true friendship and true unity that can be found.
§ 6.47 P.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean)
When the House discussed foreign affairs last year, the problem was the same then as it is today, namely, to secure the cooperation of all great powers within the framework of U.N.O. Nor is the federation and the unity of Europe of any use unless the Anglo-Franco-American world is able to co-operate with the Slav-Communist world of Eastern Europe. That must be the basis of all the public law or Europe today and in the years to come. Even the last ten months have shown that some progress has been made in this direction, but the difficulties are still very great, and the suspicion of the great power of the East, Russia, of the Western Powers is still strong. A psychological iron curtain, largely of Russia's own creation, has been drawn down across Europe. I noticed it quite distinctly when I went behind it last autumn. I travelled behind it and could see quite a lot but, all the time, I felt the people behind that curtain knew nothing or next to nothing of what was going on outside.
I feel that the breaking down of this psychological iron curtain should be the primary task of statesmanship in Western Europe. It is not easy, for Russia's suspi- 2346 cions are very deep-rooted and originally were not without justification. Russia regards our Foreign Office in the same way as she once looked upon the Golden Horde, and the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary as if he were Genghis Khan. I feel that the only way to deal with this is by a combination of firmness coupled with sympathetic understanding, and I thought that last year the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary paid rather too much attention to the first, and not enough attention to the second. However, in the light of the events of the last six months, and of the successful conclusion of the Peace Treaties of South-East Europe, it is clear that he has shown both these qualities to an altogether admirable degree.
Moreover, he is now being assisted, I think, by influences which are inducing a somewhat more sober attitude on the part of Russia herself. The economic difficulties of that great country have been intensified in the last six months, not only by the terrible war devastation which I saw when I was there 18 months ago, but by a disastrous drought in Central Russia. I think that is having a sobering effect, and there is a very definite chance that she will be more ready to co-operate with the West. It is all the more vital therefore for us to show her that it is to her own interests to co-operate.
We on our side have to recognise that there are three conditions which she regards as vital to her interests in Eastern Europe. She thinks she is entitled to considerable reparations in view of the terrible destruction of her country by former enemy States. She thinks she is entitled to a defence zone along her western front where she can have a standardisation of equipment, and a right to enter upon those zones in the event of danger. The third condition, which is perhaps most difficult for us to follow, is control over the governments in her zones in the sense that she will not tolerate any anti-Russian governments there. Some of her policy has met with much difficulty in the last few months.
As far as reparations are concerned, large areas of Eastern Europe have proved for her a broken reed. Some of her Allies, like Yugoslavia are going to be a serious economic burden, which cannot help her. Even the ex-enemy States, 2347 Bulgaria and Rumania, are in no position to pay reparations to Russia in their present plight. Russia, therefore, is confining herself very largely to controlling the governments in her own zones in a way which we naturally feel to be quite reprehensible. She is using local Communists, and police, to interfere with and influence elections. I saw this happen in Bulgaria, and it happened more recently to an even more open degree in Poland. We cannot help this happening, however much we may deplore it. Our influence in Eastern Europe can only be a moral one. It is useless for us to be tough, if we cannot at the same time be effective. In the Danube countries, and in the Balkans, on Russia's doorstep we must recognise she has a right to see that there are no Governments which are going to be a source of hostile intrigue against her, as they were during a large period of the time between the wars. We can, and should, however, give moral support to those elements in those countries that like our way of life. There are such elements there, particularly in countries like Bulgaria and Hungary. There are elements there that value personal liberty and freedom from interference by secret police.
There is another aspect of what we might do. There is the question of commercial relations between us and Eastern Europe. Those countries are hungry for our goods. I think we can do a certain amount on the basis of exchange, not by loans, of course. As one hon. Member has pointed out, we might relieve our dollar position if we could induce our people to smoke more Balkan and Turkish tobacco, and to send those countries in return the things they need. In that respect, I think we shall have to consider the difficult question of Bulgaria's access to the sea, not that I think she should have a territorial access. When I was in Greece I understood from responsible people that they were quite prepared to consider Bulgaria's economic access to the sea as part of a general settlement, just as they have recognised Yugoslavia's economic access to the sea at Salonika in the past If we can do anything to facilitate a settlement on those lines, I think it would do a great deal to pacify that part of South-East Europe. Of course trade between us and South-East Europe can only be relatively small at 2348 present. Thanks to last year's drought, and war destruction, there is going to be a need for long-term relief there. Here I would like to ask a question of my hon. Friend who is to reply to the Debate. What prospect is there of such relief under the auspices of U.N.O.? There is an organisation called the European Economic Council. What chance is there of E.C.C. being able to fill in the gap, now that U.N.R.R.A. is closing down? In my opinion it is vital that that should be done.
The Foreign Secretary referred to the fact that in six months' time there are to be negotiations over the Danube. I think those negotiations should succeed if we can only make it clear to Russia that all we seek is freedom of navigation, and freedom of commercial exchange. I have always found the Russians suspicious when they think we are out to get oil or mining concessions anywhere on their frontier. There is a zone, from Poland right down through South East Europe to Azerbaijan in North East Persia. Along this zone Russians do not like to see any foreigners holding oil concessions. If we can do anything to meet them by liquidating—what I think are bad investments in any case—such concessions as we have there, I think it would be sound business in the long run. It would meet them on a very delicate matter. Can we hope that if we do this Russia will respond, or will she seek with her proselytising zeal to spread Communism throughout Europe? Of course there is no guarantee that she will not do that, but Communism only succeeds where there is bad government, and social disorder on which it can feed. The elections in Austria and Germany showed distinctly that Communism is making no headway there. Communism has spread in Italy and France, but even there I think it is a special kind of Latin Communism and that Communists there will not be such ready tools of Russia as some of us were inclined to think they would be.
Russia, of course, seems to have a kind of dual foreign policy; she has a sort of split personality, rather like Raskolnikov and similar characters in a Dostoevsky novel. This is a characteristic of a very vigorous but rather immature people who have suffered terribly as a result of a great war. These are all signs that, for the moment at least, a realistic policy towards the West is being followed, though we may 2349 always have propaganda coming over the Moscow radio which makes us feel that they are perhaps after all expecting the "rotten capitalist Governments and their Socialist Allies in Western Europe" to collapse. But we must not be disturbed by this kind of thing.
The explanation of the Russian policy in the past, so far as Germany is concerned, is, I feel, reparations. She would, I think, be quite willing to agree to the ending of the zone system—the dividing up of Germany into economic zones—provided that she could get reparations in some form or other. If, by taking part in the control of the Ruhr and the industrial West of Germany, she could get reparations, I think she would agree to that. But we on our side cannot agree to the impoverishment of Germany, as a result of a reparations policy, to the extent that we have an economic and social sore in Europe. We may have to look a little further. It may be that we shall have to see whether, if Russia gives up or reduces her reparations claims on Germany, we can give her some economic assistance. Can something be arranged, to replace U.N.R.R.A. in White Russia and the Ukraine, those terribly devastated parts of European Russia? I believe that in the long run international assistance of that kind would automatically reduce Russia's claims for reparations on Central Europe. Here is another chance for the European Economic Council. That is a thing which I hope will possibly be considered in Moscow.
Another thing referred to by the Foreign Secretary was the reconsideration of the Anglo-Russian Alliance. I hope that he will not be alarmed if Russia raises other questions arising out of those discussions on the Anglo-Russian Alliance. I should not be surprised if she raised the whole question of the Dardanelles, the Straits, and the Eastern Mediterranean, arising out of that. She has hitherto sought to settle the question of the Straits by direct negotiation with Turkey. During my visit to Turkey last autumn, I satisfied myself that that country is in no mood to regard itself as a satellite of Russia. From the Prime Minister downwards, I heard the same story. That will not happen, and the building up of a new Turkey is proceeding on the basis of the Revolution started by their great leader, Attaturk. But I 2350 believe that the Turks could be brought to a settlement about the Straits on an international basis, but on no, other. On the other hand, Russia may go a little further and say, "We agree to a settlement of the Straits on an international basis—international control—now that the Montreux Convention is due for revision, but we shall want something else as well. We shall want to throw into that settlement the Suez Canal." If that is asked by Russia, I hope that my right hon. Friend will grasp the nettle. I. see no reason why the question of those two great waterways in the Eastern Mediterranean should not be settled in much the same way.
Of course, we must make it plain, as my right hon. Friend said, that whatever Russia says or does, she cannot drive a wedge between us and the United States. United Stated relations with Russia are distinctly bad, but Anglo-American cooperation must remain an important pillar of our foreign policy. On the other hand, the United States must not think that by approaching Russia we wish to show any coolness to her. American foreign policy is still somewhat immature. She has made great progress however, and is now shouldering international responsibilities which she did not do after the first world war. Her economic thinking is still very primitive, but I do not believe that American economic imperialism will start a new war. There is no country which is more influenced by a moral appeal. Some people think of America only in terms of Wall Street, Republican Party bosses and Democrats in the deep South. We have heard about that in the Debate today, but people who think like that forget that that alone is not the United States. They forget the spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers, of Washington, Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
I am sure that the Committee will wish the Foreign Secretary every success in his difficult task in Moscow. I think he can take heart in the fact that he has attained a considerable degree of success by the negotiation of the South-East European Treaties. We must remember that however hard a negotiator Russia may be, she has always come to an agreement in the end, because even she cannot afford to flout world opinion. So, if, like Jason, my right hon. Friend is sailing to an Eastern shore, we all hope that, passing 2351 through many difficulties, and trials, he will return to us, bringing back the Golden Fleece of the new peace Treaties.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
I wish to start by recalling what Mr. Bonar Law once said in the House—that the biggest nuisance to a Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary was the Private Member who visited Bulgaria during the Recess. I have to make the statement to the Committee that I have just come back from America, and I hope that I shall not make a Bulgarian nuisance of myself if I speak for a moment or two about the United States. The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) said some wise things about America. He also said that America's economic thinking was primitive. I cannot repeat in this Committee what the Americans think of the economic thinking of this House. I believe it is necessary to realise exactly what is going on in the United States at the present time. Public opinion there is volatile; it changes rapidly. It has not the same centralisation of newspapers and domination of thought that exist in this country, or will do so until the Commission of inquiry alters it.
It is important to realise that the United States has never felt so warmly towards this country as now, despite the fact that it does not like the Government. But it is—a little late in the day—anxious about the continuance of the British Empire. The United States was very anxious that Britain should stop being wickedly imperialist, just as the Socialist Party was. The Socialist Party in this House has, for decades, denounced the British Empire and its continuance. The Americans are now asking themselves what, if it goes, will take its place, what will fill the vacuum. Indeed, there is no greater friend to the continuance of the British Empire than the United States. It is very important that we should understand that.
The sympathy of America in the Arctic crisis which came upon this country during my absence—not entirely because of my absence—is widespread. If we could only keep up the Arctic weather a little longer, we could have another loan. They would do everything they could. There is another aspect of the American scene which is important. The Americans over a long period of time have not been 2352 directly threatened by war. Certainly they have been threatened indirectly, and they should have recognised it more quickly than they did, but they have not been directly threatened. Now the Americans are too aware of Russia. Many responsible newspapers in the United States talk openly of war with Russia. They talk of the tactics of war with Russia, and that also might account for some of their warmth towards us.
§ Mr. Baxter
I think they would hope for that, because perhaps they helped us once or twice. They may think that this is an "each way" proposition. The hon. Lady has her own idea of those whom we should help. I hope myself that there will be no war. I say, in all sincerity, that if the difficulties of the East and West cannot be settled except by another world war, we should give the world back to the monkeys.
§ Mr. Baxter
The Americans talk too much and too openly about war with Russia. Here I believe that this country, geographically and psychologically between the two, can play a very powerful part. Somehow, we have to form a friendship and understanding with Russia, while opposing the growth of Communism. That is not easy, but I believe it could be done. In my travels through America, I put this point over and over again to American audiences, and they responded generously to the idea. I echo what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean that, somehow, we have to break down this curtain. I think it was the Foreign Secretary who said we should not underestimate our strength. We are still strong and able to approach Russia and to say openly, "If you have a better way of life than we have, come and show it to us. Take the Albert Hall and demonstrate your political views openly. You can take the Albert Hall back with you, for all we care." We should tell them to send their art, and their thinkers, and to take great halls to demonstrate Communism to us. We should say, "If it is better than the way of life we have, we will take it; but we believe we have a way of life which is better than yours."
2353 Let us, in turn, send out to Russia—and in this I am not attempting to be amusing—the horse that wins the Derby to race in Russia. I would send out Mr. Woodcock, if he beats Mr. Baksi, to knock out some Russians. I would send the Sadler's Wells ballet and the Old Vic company and some writers other than Kr. Priestley. I have seen enough of the Russians to realise that they respond quickly to generosity and to friendship. I saw young boys who were fine young soldiers, as fine as those who went out from France, Britain or any other country. I felt ashamed that I could not speak to them in Russian. I hope the Foreign Office is training men to speak in Russian. It is shocking when our people there cannot speak any Russian. But this I also think very strongly. Russia for a long period in history has been forcibly invaded—by the Swedes, by the Tartars, by Napoleon, by the Japanese and, in the last war, by Hitler's Germany. Every time there is a mounting toll in blood and treasure. Every time a conqueror arises in Europe, no matter what nation he defeats in the West be knows that he cannot make his triumph secure unless he defeats Russia. Across the Ukraine and through Finland to Leningrad, comes the invader, and every time Russia pays a terrible price.
I deplore their treatment of the satellite States but can we wonder that they say to them, "We will now stop this freedom. We will move up. We will make the nations subject to us. At least we will meet the tiger in its lair"—because there are still 70 million Germans? If we do not break down this psychological barrier between the East and the West, who can be certain that Germany lost the war? Germany's cities are destroyed as cities have seldom been destroyed in history. But if she is to occupy that central blackmailing position between the East and the West, we must remember that life lasts a long time, and nations have a long history, and let us not be too certain that Germany lost this war. She can turn one way and the other, blackmailing this way and that.
I promised to be brief and I end with this. I went to the sentencing of the prisoners at Nuremberg. It was a very imposing and tragic sight. It was tragic to see men who had become so degraded, who had loosed upon the world such trouble, such cruelty and bestiality. It 2354 was a grim thing to see eleven men sentenced to death. But Lord Justice Lawrence's summing up against the Nazi regime made a document that should be read and studied for a long time. I think perhaps he had been reading "Richard III." One part was very much like the ruminations of Richard III before the Battle of Bosworth. He said that nothing could stop the Germans keeping their records. As the Russian, British, French and American Armies advanced the Germans hid their records in chalk pits and holes in trees; they hid them in the sides of hills, and one by one these records were discovered to be brought out before the bar of history, with the cry of "Cruelty, cruelty, cruelty." Looking at that trial—the first time in history when men were charged not with killing somebody, but with conspiracy, war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity and listening to it and knowing that these men must die, I wondered if the time had come when we should say that not one of the four nations represented there, Russia, Britain, America and France, would commit any of the crimes for which they were condemning those men.
I would like to end with this thought. My hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean said that America is very susceptible to an idealistic approach. That is true. The kindness of America must never be discounted. It is true also, that while they have their extremists and while their political life is much different from ours, they spring from ancestors who had a strong religious purpose, and decent religion runs very deep in the American character. The world at this moment awaits moral leadership. There is not a single voice in the world speaking today capable of bringing us something of the really great force that Woodrow Wilson exercised with his Fourteen Points. This subject is bigger than party; it is bigger than the clash between the two sides of this House. I think we are all of one accord in this matter. We must break down this barrier between East and West. We must convince America that, if we approach Russia, as we should, we are not turning our backs on America; and we must be sure that we are keeping our Dominions with us because they are of good heart and great purpose.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I think the Committee will 2355 have been glad to notice that there was agreement between the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) and the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price), who has a lifetime's knowledge of the subject with which he was dealing, that it was essential to break down the barrier between East and West and to establish a firm and lasting friendship with the Soviet Union.
As I see it, there are two issues which entirely dominate the world scene. The first is practically never mentioned: to mention it is almost one of those things that "are not done." It is the control of weapons of mass destruction. That is the first great issue before the world. The second is the prevention of the spread of totalitarianism, the preservation and expansion of human freedom and the softening of the incidence of totalitarianism in those countries where it is now supreme. These two problems together turn upon Anglo-Soviet relations, and together are affected by the visit of the Foreign Secretary to Moscow. Of course, the United States is also an essential partner with Britain and the Soviet Union in having these problems settled.
The essential problem was put before this House 18 months ago. It was that, unless these three Powers co-operate, U.N.O. can never become a reality, and, unless they do co-operate and U.N.O. is made a reality, there is no chance whatever of imposing on the whole world control of weapons of mass destruction. If the control of weapons of mass destruction is not imposed on the world, and 1 say imposed advisedly, then, inevitably, five or 10 years from now, we shall have a situation in which some nation will develop these weapons, and even small groups of human beings may be capable of making weapons of mass destruction. Can anybody really believe, if we have a large number of nations with such weapons in their national armouries, that, at some stage, some idiot, it may be, will not let one of them off? If that is so, then, inevitably, we must face a war much more terrible and frightening than the last.
I think that, so far, I have been on common ground, but now I want to disagree most violently with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler). There 2356 is an utter complacency in many quarters about the time factor. Personally, I think the Foreign Secretary—who, I believe, commands more support in the country than probably any Foreign Secretary at any time, and I have gone over the country a good deal—I think the Foreign Secretary fully appreciates the gravity of this situation. There was one very significant fact which burst from his lips when he was charged, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), with protraction and delay in relation to Palestine. The Foreign Secretary said that he had taken as much time as he could from a world which was crumbling to disaster. I believe that is perfectly true. It may be even now becoming too late to control weapons of mass destruction. The raw materials for the control of atomic energy, namely, uranium and thorium, are widely distributed over the world's surface, but I believe. that they may have become, by now, entirely untraceable, and responsibility for that rests with the United States, the Soviet Union and this House of Commons, which has taken, if I may say so with great respect, very little interest in this subject and has never once debated it in full House.
The plan for the control of atomic energy—and I pay tribute to the Prime Minister for, having initiated it—was agreed to in New York five months ago by scientists of all nations, and was signed on behalf of the Soviet Union by M. Alexandrov. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) knows a great deal about this matter, and so does another hon Member opposite. Since then, nothing effective of any kind has been done. The essential factor in any attempt to control atomic energy is to control the raw materials at the source, namely, uranium and thorium. Can anybody really believe that, in the two years which lapsed since it became clear that both these raw materials are essential, the nations of the world have not taken steps to procure these materials so that they cannot be traced in future by any international authority? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford has said that we have only three or four years at the outside in which to establish control of these weapons. I think it is very doubtful whether the power of saving the world from crumbling to disaster has not already slipped from our grasp as a result 2357 of the lack of interest by politicians in this most important of all subjects today. May I underline the important fact that the whole of the basic scientific information on this subject has been international knowledge since 1939? It is overwhelmingly likely that other information has filtered through to other countries.
Take the Hiroshima bomb, which was made of Uranium 235. Professor Alan Nunn May sent a sample of Uranium 235, the very material of which the bomb was made, to the Soviet Union over 18 months ago. He also sent Uranium 233 and other extremely valuable information, and he was in a very important position indeed in Canada. I am only mentioning one or two of a large number of facts which could be brought to notice. Take Professor Joliot-Curie, a very distinguished French scientist—the man who made, in the immediate chain of discoveries which led to the atomic bomb, perhaps the second most important discovery of all. He is a well-known Communist. I informed him when I was in New York that I had seen a photograph in a French paper showing him about to fly to Moscow in M. Molotov's personal plane. I asked him if it was true, and he told me straight away—he is a man of great honesty—that it was so. I am not going to draw any conclusions from that. He is Director of Atomic Energy for the Government of France. I am not drawing any conclusions from that. I am merely indicating that valuable information must filter through. We cannot put a barrier against it, as Lilienthal quite rightly said. It is also true that General Groves, in the United States, was responsible for the publication of the Smythe Report, which gave some remarkable information on the subject, told which processes would work on the subject and gave much information away.
May I mention one fact which has been misunderstood? It will be remembered that the original Baruch proposals spoke of the possibility of developing safe factories for the production of atomic energy. It is now generally admitted by scientists, and I understand it to be the view also of the Government, that there is a great deal too much optimism displayed about that. It would, relatively, not be so difficult to turn denatured plutonium into a bomb and, again, these factories could, in any event, be utilised 2358 for the production of radioactive weapons, which are, in many ways, as bad as the atomic bomb, on a colossal scale.
I pass next, away from the subject of atomic energy, to other weapons of destruction. The Attorney-General said in New York that these other weapons are just as bad and, may be, more serious than the atomic bomb. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), who is the Government's adviser on the subject of atomic energy, said that other weapons are being produced which are worse than the atomic bomb. I presume that he referred to radioactive dust and bacteriological warfare. An enormous amount of work was done in this country and America in the development of bacteriological warfare, and remarkable results were achieved in 1944. In particular, it was discovered how to achieve a mutation of bacteria in the space of a few months which, in the ordinary way, it would have taken nature thousands of years to do. It is obvious, that with discoveries of this kind, it might be possible to produce bacteria of a highly virulent form, and enable it to be distributed in ways not yet thought of. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the reverse."] Yes, or the reverse. This should provide an excellent background to the discussion of this vital problem in Moscow. I would like to take up the remark of my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. He said that the way to deal with Russia was on the practical plane; that she should be shown that practical advantages can be obtained from co-operation. In my submission, it is in the vital interest of the Soviet Union, more than in that of any other country in the world, that the control of weapons of mass destruction should be effected. I say that for the following reasons, and I will, if I may, give an illustration.
Some six weeks ago the International Committee for the Study of European Questions, of which I happen to be the. honorary treasurer, which is financed by the Governments of France, Belgium, Holland and others, and which grew out of the Governments of those countries which were here during the war, published a document in which they sought to prove a Nazi conspiracy in Germany at the present time. It also gave details of the enormous funds in the hands of Fascists in Argentina, and elsewhere. 2359 There is no doubt that those facts were correct. Certain hon. Members said, if I may be forgiven for saying so, that I had acted in an imprudent way in signing that document. There was a good deal of criticism, and I must say, I, personally, was rather worried about it until, a few days ago, I learned that the whole plot had been discovered by the Government, and that the use of bacteriological weapons had been contemplated by those concerned in the conspiracy.
Here is the point that I wish to put to the Committee. Imagine, for a moment, that one is in the position of the head of a Power which was very friendly towards Fascism, and imagine that it is not a large Power, and that we, as representing that Power, are in the situation of being afraid of what is going to happen to us because the United Nations is going to take action. I will not specify the particular country for there are, in fact, more than one. Assume that the pressure on us becomes so great that we feel that the strength of the United States, Britain, Russia and other countries is going to be used to eliminate our regime. Surely, the best thing that such a country could do, particularly in the kind of situation such as that described by the hon. Member for Wood Green where American propaganda is violently anti-Russian and anti-Communist, would be to arrange for a weapon of mass destruction to be delivered anonymously in the United States, in such a way that it would be assumed that the Communists had been responsible. It may appear fanciful, but some such thought was evidently in the minds of those Nazis in Germany. Assuming the point I wish to make, there are many countries in the world and many groups of people who hate the Soviet Union more than they hate America or Great Britain. Those enemies of the Soviet Union have, in the weapons of mass destruction, an opportunity to attack the Soviet Union which they would otherwise not have. Therefore, it is in the interest of the Soviet Union to agree to the control of weapons of mass destruction in order to prevent such a possibility.
That is the first part, but I have a certain amount to say on the second subject. I must say that I would never have said this when I first came into the House of Commons, but I have rather 2360 changed my mind on this particular subject. I admit that. Unfortunately, I am afraid that there is overwhelming evidence coming into the possession of many hon. Members of that of which I am going to give particulars. Things are happening in Eastern European countries which are far worse than that to which the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) referred in his speech. Personally, I think that the less time hon. Members on this side of the Committee spend on attacks on the party opposite, and the more on vital constructive criticism, the better for all parties.
I should like, if I may, to take the case of Bulgaria. I have the highest possible respect for M. Dimitrov, who behaved so bravely during the Reichstag trial affair. I am sure that the people of Bulgaria have a great respect for him. I think that the recognition of Bulgaria should be followed by trade relations, and, if I can do anything in that direction, I shall be pleased to do it. But I wish to deal with the staggering case of General Stanchev. Here is what the Communist daily newspaper "Zarya" of Sofia, said on 15th October, 1944, about General Stanchev:Until recently, he was well known as Major Stanchev, a distinguished officer and a really great man. He had the greatest achievement for the victory of the Fatherland Front revolution. …Bulgaria is sending this hearty greeting to the people's general:'The whole nation is behind you, General Stanchev. Lead us to more victories.'But, unfortunately, he has, since June, 1946, been in a concentration camp and no charges, up to a few days ago, had been publicly made against him. None of his friends have been allowed to see him, although the Prime Minister, of the day was a personal friend of his. No one knows where he is at present. I can feel no real satisfaction about the matter, and I am sure that the people of Bulgaria generally are satisfied that, although General Stanchev may have made some kind of comment against the regime, he has not been guilty of treason or espionage of any kind, nor has he had any direct dealings with this country.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am asked by my hon. Friend how I know that. I do not know it for certain, but I would suggest that a man with his record is almost unassailable, 2361 and every Bulgarian to whom I have spoken is of the same mind on that point. Now I propose to come a little closer. What do we imagine is likely to be happening? It is an unpleasant thing to think about, but I will now read an extract from the speech of M. Petkov, the leader of the Bulgarian Opposition, on 3rd December, 1946. This a speech containing a signed statement by a member of the Bulgarian Parliament named Koev, who was a high official in the Government, and is today still a member of the Bulgarian Parliament. It describes how he was held under arrest for 90 days. He explained how confessions were extracted, and said:Complete collapse comes only at the moment when you realise you are completely defenceless, that there is no law and no authority to defend you and that you are completely in the hands of your interrogators.This is what they actually try to make you believe right from the very beginning. The methods to obtain a confession are mainly three—physiological, hunger and thirst, and lack of sleep; physical, torture; psychological hints that your family have been arrested, will be tortured, etc.I will make these documents available to all Members of the House if they require them. He describes how, after having been in these conditions for week after week, this is what occurred:On the fifth day I collapsed and was taken back to my cell where I immediately fell asleep for twelve hours. On waking up I thought the interrogation was over. On the same night at 11 o'clock they took me upstairs again to a bigger room. The Inspector Zeev, who was in charge of my interrogation, said that my obstinacy had obliged him to change his method to a really tough one. On his orders I was placed on the floor; my hands tied behind my back and my mouth gagged as well. Then for about two hours I was beaten on the feet with a thick rubber whip. During the beating the Inspector Zeev was asking the same questions. The interrogation and beating were repeated four nights in succession.In order to be fair, I must confess there have never been Bulgarian elections at which some numbers of people have not been killed. It is not part of my case that Bulgaria has ever been a beautiful democratic country. I do not believe that applies to any of the countries of Eastern Europe.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
Will my hon. Friend say what political conclusion he draws from the fact that these charges were made in the Bulgarian Parliament by Mr. Petkov, who still continues to be a Member of the Bulgarian Parliament? Is 2362 not that an indication that there are some signs of improvement?
§ Mr. Blackburn
Unfortunately, Mr. Koev, after being released, has been rearrested. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to the case of Petkov. He has behaved with extraordinary courage and is telling the truth. He was a member of the Fatherland Government; in fact, he was one of the original members of it, as my hon. Friend knows. In a way, that speech reminds me a great deal of the speech made by the father of a great personal friend of mine, August Weber, in the Fascist Parliament when this kind of thing first happened in the days of Adolf Hitler. Weber was then leader of the Liberal Party, and was allowed to make speeches of that kind. He was finally able to get out of the country.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
When did anyone ever make a speech of that kind in the Reichstag? Is it not the fact that when the Reichstag opened, the Social Democrats had the searchlights turned on them and had to salute Hitler? No one ever made a speech like that in the Reichstag.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am prepared to give the hon. Gentleman the book containing this speech by August Weber. I think the speech was made in 1933. The book containing this speech has a foreword written to it by the Secretary of State for War. I do not in any way desire to try to draw parallels between Fascism and Communism. They are entirely different. They are not the same thing at all, and I do not for one moment believe that the Soviet Union wants war. On the other hand, I think my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is quite right, and my hon. Friends who try to cover these things up are quite wrong, when he takes the same line that M. Blum took, and said, "Je n'ai pas le droit de me taire"—"I have not the right to be silent." It is in accordance with the traditions of this House which has been the bastion of freedom for centuries, where parliamentary government has been developed, and is an example to the whole world. It is entirely in accordance with the whole of our traditions that we should have my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary who is prepared to talk frankly on these subjects to the Russians with whom he is so desperately anxious to come to terms of friendship.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am well aware of the fact that certain things occur in Greece of which I do not approve. As my hon. Friend has interrupted me, I would like to say that he has talked, written and spoken about the so called "Bevin-Churchill under-the-counter Coalition which is the white hope of the black international." Whatever nonsense of that kind means, I really do not know. First of all, the Foreign Secretary is not in any kind of Coalition with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). I am quite certain of that. Secondly, what on earth words like "the white hope of the black international" mean, I do not know. Thirdly, the Foreign Secretary is perfectly prepared to be frank and open with America, just as he is with Russia. He did so a few days ago. I think, to some extent, he may be goaded into it and I think he is under a great strain. I think he has been very unfairly treated by many Members of my own party.
In conclusion, I think we are all agreed upon this point, that we must achieve friendship with the Russians. Friendship with the Russians, in my View, will be achieved by concentrating on common sense to the exclusion of ideology, by satisfying their legitimate demands for their own security and by developing that positive economic co-operation which has been referred to already. But, at the same Lime, I believe it is our duty to stand, as I believe this country has always stood, for freedom. I think Pascal said 200 years ago, "Je crois que l'Angleterre est le pays le plus libre du monde"—I believe England is the freest country in the world." So it is, and so it will always remain.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)
I would like for a short while to bring the Debate back again to what I regard as the central problem which will face the meeting of Foreign Ministers in Moscow. That is: What are we going to do with Germany? We have strayed a good deal from that problem. As I see it, the purpose of this Debate was to enable Members to express their views about matters which may come up for discussion at Moscow, and I feel that it is in relation 2364 to Germany that we can make the most helpful contributions.
There is one respect in which I approved the speech of the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and that is, it was at least controversial. This Debate, coming as it does immediately before the Moscow Conference, is, to my mind, a far more important occasion than the somewhat academic Debate in which we discussed an Amendment of hon. Members opposite to the King's Speech dealing with foreign policy. Although we heard a lot about Northern Ireland from the hon. Member for Hornchurch, we did not hear a single suggestion as to an alternative policy to be pursued by the Government at the Moscow Conference. I hope, for the edification of the Committee, we shall hear from hon. Members opposite, the so-called rebels who dissent from the policy of the Foreign Secretary, an indication of an alternative policy. They have moved their ground. It is interesting to note that, rather than attack the Foreign Secretary directly, they now tend to pity and sympathise with him as a sick man, and the legatee of a conservative heritage.
The Foreign Secretary said a very significant thing when he said we are going to aim at a federal Germany. A federal Germany implies a central Government. He also used a significant term when he referred to a Treaty with Germany. A treaty implies a negotiated peace. It has been suggested from time to time that the terms of the arrangement to be arrived at with Germany should be in the nature of a statute enacted by the victorious Allied Powers. I believe it to be of fundamental importance that a central German Government should be established at the earliest possible moment, and the terms of the proposed treaty should be negotiated with that central Government. The Foreign Secretary was very much concerned with the distribution of power as between the central Government and what he called the provincial Governments to be set up in Germany. I believe the statesmen will make a grave mistake if they try to create in too rigid detail the constitution of a future Germany, because the constitution of Germany will ultimately, no matter what people say at Moscow, be determined by the German people themselves. Peace will not be achieved by seeking to frame rigidly a 2365 constitution for the German people. Either the constitution must be one which they themselves can amend, or it must be a constitution which will be maintained by armed force.
I do not believe the way to the prevention of German aggression lies through constitution making for Germany. The way to prevent German aggression is through international inspection of her armament potential production. It is essential that an attempt should be made to set up a central German Administration and Government at the earliest possible moment, with an economic unity for Germany; and the final arrangement with Germany should be a treaty negotiated with that Government, not a statute imposed on some other form of German government. I am convinced that no other arrangement will bring lasting peace.
We have talked of Anglo-Soviet friendship and unity tonight. There are those who have talked of that unity in terms of an effort to keep Germany in restraint. I do not think real unity lies that way. In my view, the real reason for the revision of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty alliance is that that treaty was made with a view to restraining future aggression by Germany. Within any conceivable period of duration of an Anglo-Soviet Treaty, aggression by Germany will not be a practical feasibility, in my view. I submit that far more good can be done in negotiations with the Soviet Union if we direct our efforts to commercial relations and trade agreements. Whatever treaty we make, I hope it will be supplemented by a substantial trade agreement of some form. We can help each other. There is ample room for the exchange and sale of commodities between Britain and Russia.
The Foreign Secretary said that we must not expect too much of the Moscow Conference. Perhaps it was as well that he gave that warning. However well deserved the Foreign Secretary's strictures on Tuesday against the United States may have been regarding her handling of the Palestinian problem, they will not conduce to any good feeling between the United States and this country. Those critics of British foreign policy who maintain that we are tied too much to the United States may derive some satisfaction from that fact. It is most distress- 2366 ing that in spite of official protestations, at the highest level, Anglo-Soviet relations continue to deteriorate. There is no need to go over again the ground about how much Russia suffered during the war. No one could put more importance on the effects of those sufferings on our relations with Russia than I do. After the "Pravda" incident and the exchange of notes between the Foreign Secretary and Generalissimo Stalin recently, we thought there was room for a new understanding. Generalissimo Stalin said: "All misunderstandings have now been cleared between us." The visit of Field-Marshal Montgomery, and his personal contact with Generalissimo Stalin, apparently produced a cordial atmosphere. There is this to be said, that personal contact between a high British official or statesman and Generalissimo Stalin always seems to bring progress in the right direction. I hope there will be a substantial element of personal contact between the Foreign Secretary and Generalissimo Stalin. At conferences Russia may be a difficult state with which to deal. I believe that is true, but I think our attitude towards her in our policy of being tough—and we have tried to be tough—has not been altogether in the right direction for dispelling the Russians' suspicion. In foreign affairs believe the British people have shorter memories than Continental people. I still think it was a great mistake when, in January, 1946, the Foreign Secretary, at the first meeting of the Security Council, refused an inquiry, at Russia's request, into the presence of British troops in Greece and Indonesia as being insulting to British prestige.
The standing of the British Commonwealth at the forthcoming conference has also been diminished by the unfortunate attitude taken by the Union of South Africa towards U.N.O. Field-Marshal Smuts says he will not comply with the Security Council's recommendations regarding the future of the mandated territory in South-West Africa and the treatment of Indians in South Africa. It is a disgraceful thing that a man who had a hand in drafting the Charter of the United Nations should take that attitude in regard to their recommendation. It is particularly unfortunate that he should do it on the eve of the visit to South Africa of the King and Queen. In the midst of all this, the Moscow Conference assembles 2367 with great opportunities for beneficial personal contacts and in the midst of an overwhelming desire on the part of the common man in all lands that we should be friends with Russia, and that we should develop in Germany, too, a nation with whom we can be friends. On that basis, peace will stand firm.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Chamberlain (Norwood)
Although the Debate has ranged mainly around Europe and the Near East, with some diversions, I do not think any apology is needed if I call the attention of the House, for a brief time, to more distant fields such as Japan and the Pacific area. I rather shared the regret of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) that the Foreign Secretary did not find it possible to deal with that subject. But, of course, I fully appreciate he could not touch on all areas; and we quite understand that European matters are more in his mind at this time. Although the Pacific and Japan may seem more remote and less important, I suggest that in actual fact they are no longer remote in any real sense, and are certainly not remote from some of our most important Dominions. There can be no question about the great importance of that area.
The important point to which I want to call attention at' this juncture is the undoubted fact that we are very much starved for real information as to what is going on in that part of the world. We as Members of this House are starved, and so is the general public, and I suggest that it is important to have an informed public, on this as on all other matters, but they have very little chance of gaining any real information. On 27th November, I put a question to the Minister of State regarding the proceedings of the Allied Council for Japan, and in reply he said that the information was available quite freely. I searched in the Library of this House for some record of the proceedings of the Far Eastern Commission and the Allied Council for Japan, but found nothing whatever in regard to either of those bodies, to my surprise and regret. I should add that, through the courtesy of the Foreign Office, I have had access to the proceedings of the Allied Council for Japan, which are in a very voluminous and in 2368 digestible form, but I only mention this to show that we really have not got the proper information which should be available to us in regard to this highly important, and, indeed, highly explosive part of the world.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
It is very interesting that the hon. Member should have access to this document. Is it a public document? I should like to see it myself.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
I understand that it is shortly to be published, and since I was expecting to speak on the Adjournment on this subject the documents, which are not confidential and which are to be published, were made available to me by the courtesy of the Foreign Office.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
That is a very interesting point. One of our great difficulties, in the Opposition at any rate, is to obtain any documents at all. Would it be possible for us to obtain this document with the same facility as the hon. Member opposite?
§ Mr. Chamberlain
I have no doubt whatever that if the right hon. Gentleman desired to see the documents, which as I have said are to be made public, the Foreign Office would show him the same courtesy.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
On a point of Order. Would it be in Order to move the Adjournment to ask the Government to explain when it will be possible for somebody with some responsibility for foreign affairs to be here?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
It is outrageous that we should only have the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation present.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Though I could not accept a Motion for the Adjournment, I could consider a Motion to report Progress.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Then I should like to move that the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again, if I am in Order in doing so.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The right hon. Gentleman wishes to move to report Progress, but I think it would be undesirable to accept such a Motion. However, I have no doubt the intention and purport of that Motion will have been noted.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Further to that point of Order. I am as interested in the point raised by the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. Chamberlain) as I am in the question of the presence of a Member of the Government. I understand, of course, that Members of the Government have to go out for a little sustenance. What I am interested in is the point which has been raised about an hon. Member on the Government side referring to a document about affairs in the Far East which is said to be non-confidential but which has not been published. Is this an official document or is it not? If it is an official document, and is quoted in our Debates, I maintain that it should be laid in the House, so that Members of the Opposition can see it.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
It is a report of the proceedings of the Allied Council for Japan, which I understood was to be made available in the Library of the House, and which in due course is to be made available.
§ Mr. King (Penryn and Falmouth)
There is nothing whatever that is private about it. I have recently come back from Japan, and have seen it published in the Japanese newspapers.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
That is all I want to know. I hope it will shortly be put in the Library of the House.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Perhaps it would be useful if some succeeding speaker ventured to bring this matter before us again later.
§ Air-Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)
Further to that point of Order. I have not been to Japan, neither have I had the opportunity of seeing these documents, which is unfortunate because although I do not think I should have been fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Beaumont, if I had, I was going to speak on Japan.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I do not know why the hon. and gallant Gentleman should be optimistic or pessimistic about 2370 the possibility of catching my eye. I have not been to Japan, neither have I seen the documents.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
The main points I wanted to make were these. First, do we know exactly what is happening in the Pacific and in Japan? Second, if we know what is happening, do we understand the implications both for the world and for this country; and third, if we do understand those implications are there not certain things which the Government should do and certain actions which they should take in regard to these matters? I hope I am in no way an alarmist, though it seemed a moment ago that I might have filled that role, but I do not think that it is an alarmist attitude to take when I say that America has been given her head in the Pacific, and in regard to Japan, to an extraordinary and indeed to an alarming extent.
The Potsdam declaration very clearly laid it down that the future of Japan was the joint responsibility of all the Allied Powers, and that was confirmed later by the meeting of Foreign Ministers and still later by the Moscow Declaration in December of that year. I think it is appropriate and right that I should draw attention to what is happening in regard to the bases in the Pacific, a matter of which we have seen something in the Press. I am very glad it has been raised in the Press, so that public opinion can be informed. I noticed that America is applying to the United Nations under special procedure of the Security Council, and by reason of that special procedure special provisions will be attached to the trustee document, and I think these are rather alarming and regrettable conditions. There is to be only a very limited United Nations supervision of these bases, there are to be special rights of fortification, and apparently there is to be some special precedence for American nationals, companies, and business firms. I do not want to dilate on that, but I do want to call the attention of the House to the state of affairs. The matter is not yet decided, and I urge upon the Foreign Secretary that in my view he should definitely oppose that special trustee arrangement, particularly with a view to further and careful examination of the provisions to which I have referred.
I want to say a word on the special and I think privileged position of America 2371 in the Pacific and in Japan, with regard to trade and commercial matters. This is definitely, in my view, a serious and menacing thing for this country and for our trade and future. It is menacing to Lancashire, Yorkshire, Macclesfield, and indeed, to the whole country. On 10th October, my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade stated what were the instructions being given to our representative on the Far Eastern Commission. He said that Japan must be put again on her feet, commercially and economically, but he seemed to take only a lukewarm interest in what, I think, is the all-important matter of raising the standard of living of the Japanese workers, In the early days of the occupation, there was a good deal of talk about reducing Japan to an agricultural state.
All that has been forgotten, I think quite rightly, but the particular factors which have risen in this connection are, first, that more and more industries are being classed as "essential," according to the Potsdam basis of reckoning; secondly, that the United States are very heavily backing the revival of the textile industries; thirdly, that the United States are themselves handling both the imports and the exports of Japan, the imports through the War Department and the exports through the United States Commercial Corporation, and are also handling the export of goods to other parts of South Eastern Asia; fourthly, that the United States are themselves shipping raw cotton to Japan, this taking the place very largely of Indian shipments before the war; and fifthly—I consider it is very important to recognise this and bear it in mind—the head of the textiles division of the Supreme Command has stated that the yarn production is now 30 million lb. per month and will shortly be doubled, 80 per cent. being for export. I could give details with regard to the revival of the silk industry; suffice it to say that the same head of the textiles division has stated categorically that by 1951 Japan will have a world monopoly and will, in fact, be producing more than world requirements. One could refer similarly to the woollen industry and to rayon.
I want also to say how very glad I am that a delegation of the World Federation of Trade Unions is to go to Japan next month. I hope they will do a good and thorough job of work, because even if a 2372 reasonable standard of living is established for the workers in Japan, Japan will still be a menace commercially to this country, and we have to bear that fact in mind when we think of our future. If the standards of living there are as they were in pre-war days, it will be practically fatal to this country.
To conclude, I stress three points. First, I ask for much more publicity about what is going on in Japan and in the Pacific. There are not nearly enough Press correspondents there, and I believe I am right in saying that the representatives of the B.B.C. have been waiting many months to get General MacArthur's permission to go into Japan. We want also to have publication of all the records and documents, so that we may know what is happening. Secondly, I commend to the Foreign Secretary's attention the very important matter of the American bases, which I think are very menacing, and which I hope he will examine and oppose in their present form. Thirdly, there should be participation on a world basis, or in any case on an Allied basis, in the matter of the commercial control of Japan while that country is getting on to its feet. I think that recently we had to go virtually knocking at General MacArthur's door to ask if we could have some part in the trade of Japan, and I think he very obligingly said we could have some part in it. I do not think that is good enough. If the Allied nations were able to collaborate during the war in defeating Japan, surely they should be able to collaborate on an equal footing in the reviving of trade in Japan and in shaping its direction. I think it is only that way that, commercially, the future can be faced, and certainly only in that way can we be assured that the standards and levels of living of the Japanese people will be raised. I commend those three points to the attention of the Foreign Secretary.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Maude (Exeter)
I was extremely interested to hear what the hon. Member for Norwood (Mr. R. Chamberlain) said about the visit of trade unionists to Japan, which is of the utmost importance, and I shall refer to it later, but I want, first, to put to the Committee a point which I think hon. Members will agree is a sound and an interesting one, and I take it from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. At the end of 'his speech, he said that his task of conducting foreign affairs is ter- 2373 ribly handicapped by economic disorder and disequilibrium at the present time; he urged the people to work and increase output; and he pointed out, rather astonishingly, perhaps, in the House of Commons, if I correctly report him, that the responsibility rests not only on the Government and the Civil Service, but on the people as a whole. I think it is a little unfortunate, although I do not want to complain bitterly about it, that he did not say that the responsibility rests not only on the Government and on the Civil Service, but on the people as a whole, and particularly upon the House of Commons. It is in that respect that I look back to a year which I spent in America and remember how different England seemed to me at that distance from what it does in the House of Commons, in the extraordinarily unreal atmosphere that we get at this hour of the night. It does not seem to bear any relation to what is going on outside. One forgets how people are watching' the country the whole time, reading and studying, and seeing us in a horribly realistic way in which we do not see ourselves.
I wish to draw attention to three matters which they are watching day by day. First, they are watching to see whether Britain is at last engaged on the job of fitting in, wherever it can be done, the very best machinery possible—I do not mean, of course, in a shape or form that would create some ghastly unemployment, but in a shape that would answer the question whether Britain has become really machinery minded. Secondly, I know people are looking to see whether the British are, in those quarters where it should be done, restoring effective competition; have they really made up their minds that businesses and the persons who run them, the people who have dividends and so on, are kept up to the maximum by effective competition where that is really in the national interest; and are the British at last settling down to abolish restrictive practices on both sides of industry? I know it is becoming almost unpopular to draw attention to that, but the unreality in the situation is often missed.
May I make the point in this way? I have very great admiration for two hon. Members of the party opposite with whom I spent a fortnight in Greece—the hon. 2374 Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) and the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden). Both of them are not undistinguished in the trade union world. The interesting thing is that when the two hon. Members were outside this country and were able to see other countries quite objectively as in Greece, where they went to look at the trade unions, they saw them clearly in all reality. I make no complaint, I am not making a party point about it, and I hope I shall always be their friend; but I make the point that they saw very clearly something in Greece and did not see that it applies to our own country. I will quote a passage from the report of the Parliamentary Delegation to Greece in the part of it on trade unions which was signed by the two hon. Members:Daring the course of our visit we met at Athens, Patras and Salonika representatives of the various trade union groups, and we have formed the impression that politics are the dominating motive in trade union activities, to the detriment of the proper business of such bodies, namely, he cultivation of industrial relations, the development of wage negotiations, and the improvement of the condition of the workers in the various industries.Again, at the end, there is this paragraph:Finally, there is no hope for the trade union movement in Greece, in our opinion, unless there is a desire on the part of the workers of Greece to concentrate on the industrial movement for improved economic conditions and not, as at present, to be subordinated solely to political machinations and intrigues.I am not suggesting for a moment that that observation applies word for word to hon. Members opposite or to the British trade union movement.
When that passage was written about the proper business of trade unions being the cultivation of industrial relations, the development of wage negotiations, and the improvement of the conditions of the workers, and not politics, one sees that certain people do not see themselves as others see them. In that respect, it seems that those words should be enshrined in gold. I have been watching this matter for many weeks. There are things which hon. Members opposite overlook or utterly fail to see. Some hon. Members appear in these matters to be utterly blind. On the other hand, there appears to be a readiness in some minds to think again. There is the necessity to think again at this present moment.
2375 Here is a party and international point as well. It is all very well to find, when the Minister of Fuel is standing at that Box, as he was the other night, with his wintry smile, his tepid self-confidence and also the charming demand for assistance from the President of the Board of Trade—
§ Mr. Maude
I will show the hon. Gentleman. What it has to do is this: The Foreign Secretary says that it is very difficult to conduct foreign affairs unless the country settles down to pull its weight and to produce the maximum of goods. At the same time hon. Members are prepared to state that it would be right to demand that in this country one got the best scientific and managerial power going. We want the best scientific brains and the best management. If we were to be realistic we should say that it was very unsatisfactory.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I did not answer the hon. Gentleman because his question did not constitute a point of Order. I can tell him, however, that under this Vote almost everything except the Service Votes comes within the range of Order. It is more difficult to state what is not in Order.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
If the hon. Gentleman were called—I am not implying any promise—I should wait to hear what the hon. Gentleman proposed to say.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is it permissible to sleep a day, and then to start the next day discussing what was said the day before?
§ Mr. Maude
Surely it would be permissible to draw attention to what was said by the Minister of Fuel and Power, but I am not doing that at all. I am drawing attention to the point that if everybody in the nation was a little doubtful as to the quality of the management of the factories that would be a very bad thing, and the sooner we got the best managers in, the better. If hon. Members demand that, they must realise that the present Government managerial situation is extremely grave. There is anxiety as to the managers of the Government, if I may call them so. It is intolerable that there should be follies going on such as this one; which Minister is responsible for this particular folly I do not know. It may be that none thinks he is.
Would the Committee listen to a remarkable statement? It was made by the Vice-President of the National Farmers Union, in "The Times" of 26th February:Last year we spent £5,796,000 on grapes compared with £1,729,000 in 1938, and we got fewer grapes. We spent £2,644,000 on peaches and nectarines compared with £230,000 before the war.The point of drawing attention to these facts is that if we are such infernal fools as a nation to be spending all this money on grapes and peaches, the foreign observer to whom the Foreign Secretary pays a great deal of attention must be saying: "They are not getting down to it. They are suckers. This money ought to have been spent on something else."
We must ask ourselves whether appearances here justified suspicion abroad. I would like to take just one further example of administrative folly. John Smedley Limited, who manufacture textiles at Lea Mills, Matlock, ale four miles from a Clay Cross company coal mine and need coal badly. They are not allowed to fetch the coal from that coal mine today, because of some regulation. I am not blaming the origin of it upon this Government. This firm are not allowed to send their lorries to the mine to fetch the coal. This used to cost them 10s. The coal is taken all the way to Matlock and then it has to be sent from there at a cost of £3. The result at the present time is that it represents the highest possible folly. These 2377 administrative stupidities are things which only the Government can in fact cure. It is all very well to tell the country to emulate the ant, as the Foreign Secretary does, and to urge us to greater efforts and to harder work, but it is not satisfactory if those at the head of the administration emulate the grasshopper. Let us remember the grasshopper in Aesop's fable who did not take the trouble to store up food during the summer and when the winter came the ants would not let him have any of their food. This Administration will come to be known as "The Grasshopper Administration."
May I point out one thing finally? I go back to a wise old man who, in the middle of the 18th century, had known no less than 10 persons who became or were to become Prime Ministers. One was Chatham and another Walpole. He knew them intimately. He was Lord Waldegrave. He stated:It is a common observation that men of plain sense and cool resolution have more useful talents and are better qualified for public business than men of the finest parts who want temper, judgment and knowledge of mankind. Even Parliamentary abilities may be too highly rated; for between the man of eloquence and the sagacious statesman there is a wide interval.I am sure that hon. Members on all sides of the Committee will agree that this is true. If you want to lead the people at a time of necessity, it is not enough to be sagacious, it is not enough to be eloquent—and this is a thing that is demonstrably true—the people must be fond of you and love you.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)
I hope that I shall not be out of Order if I presume to go back to foreign affairs, because I want to deal with a point raised by one or two hon. Members earlier in the Debate, and also to say a word about an interesting point raised by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis). I want to say a word or two about our relationships with Eastern European countries. 2378 I think that in the delicate negotiations in which the Foreign Secretary will soon have to take part, this is going to be one of the most important points in which he will become involved. The last time I spoke in a foreign affairs Debate was 16 months ago. I had just returned from Yugoslavia. The views which I formed when I was in Yugoslavia have been strengthened by the time I have recently spent in Poland. From whatever part of the compass this argument comes, whether it comes from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, or from some Socialists below the gangway, the idea that we should have a Socialist United States of Europe or a democratic United States of Europe is wrong, is foolish, and is a misreading of history, of the present, and of the very recent -past. Unless we can have a United States of the whole of Europe we are going to land ourselves in the same sort of holocaust as that through which we have just passed. There is a grave danger continuing all the time, and it is the way in which people contend for or against those particular States, in Central and Eastern Europe which are, at the moment, attached by feelings of friendship and for reasons of economy to the Soviet Union—such States as the Danubian States, and the Balkan States.
If I speak more particularly about Poland, I do so because my memory is fresher of my visit to Poland than of my visit to Yugoslavia. It is of no use to try to bring pressure to bear on those States, whether in the form of pompous exhortation, in which so many statesmen love to indulge, or in the kind of economic squeezes and political pressures which come from the other side of the Atlantic. Neither do I think it wise—indeed, I think it is extremely dangerous—that Press propaganda should be indulged in, as it has been indulged in, against Poland. I am not proposing to enter tonight into a discussion of the Polish elections, but I want to say to hon. Members opposite that I wonder what would have been their reaction if, on the eve of the General Election in this country, a swarm of foreign journalists, neither speaking nor understanding our language, had descended upon this country, waving in one hand the "Rights of Man" and in the other Magna Carta, and then proceeding to send to their papers long accounts about the way we were carrying 2379 on. I think there would have been great indignation, and that sort of indignation is felt in Poland at the present time. I agree with Harold Nicolson in one of his dictums, that Press-exploited public opinion is a very grave danger to negotiation, and at the present moment we are on the verge of delicate negotiations in which Poland must be involved.
I wish to refer to three points, which were raised with me when I was in Poland. They were raised not only by members of the Polish Government and members of my own political party—which, whatever may be thought by some Members opposite, stands in very high regard in Poland, and has half the seats in the Government, and commands half the votes of the Government—but also by relief workers of every kind, including those in U.N.R.R.A. The first is that we must allow Poland, Yugoslavia and all these other States to find their political feet, and we must allow them to do that without any intimidation or exhortation. I thought that the speech of the hon. Member for Devizes was going to be a very dangerous one but he ended up by having my sympathy in the point of view hp expressed. There is a story in Central Europe, which is a kind of legend, of a meeting which took place between Lenin and the Pope. After the conversation had gone on for some time, Lenin said to the Pope, "It is all very interesting. A marriage between my system and your faith, would be the right thing for our countries." I am not at all sure what the Pope said in reply, but I daresay he went away very surprised.
What the hon. Member for Devizes is envisaging, what he hopes may happen in the future, is something which is really coming to pass in Eastern and Central Europe today. Certainly, in Poland and some of those other countries, there are vast numbers of people who are Communists and Catholics at one and the same time, and who owe no allegiance either to the Vatican or to Moscow. These people have come through a very difficult, very hard and agonising time. The simple authentic faith they bear in their hearts has helped them in these difficult times, and they are now rearranging the whole of their political philosophy on the same basis as the simple faith in their spiritual lives. I would advise the hon. 2380 Member that those things to which he is looking forward have already come about. That is one of the things which is influencing Eastern Europe, making it very difficult for us to understand the situation. We have to let the people find their political feet, and if they find what they regard as the best way to set their country on the path to prosperity and reconstruction, they have a right to follow it without pompous exhortations from us.
I want to raise another point which has not been raised so far. The people of Poland today are deeply concerned about the question of their regained territories. Marvellous work has been done in these regained territories, and they have enormous pride and enthusiasm in it. They have transferred to one part of Poland more than 4 million Poles. Increased productive output has been shown in the regained territories, and enormous activity in regard to reconstruction. I am sure that if anything happened, during the drawing up of the Peace Treaties, which in any way altered the boundaries of Poland it would result in bitter disillusionment in that country. I hope we shall not find ourselves in the same humiliating position as we found ourselves in, after the last war, when we lost prestige because of our vacillation in regard to Poland. I hope that the promises we have made to Poland about her regained territories will be kept to the letter. There is a good deal of enlightened self-interest in doing that. I would like to quote what Canning said many years ago, and to use that quotation in the obverse way. He said:I have called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old.We can put that the other way round. It will be necessary for us to do all we can in the old world to redress the balance of the new. In the world today we face two great economic antitheses. Across the Atlantic we have a country which is like a gorged sponge—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not think that they will be pleased by that expression but the hon. Member can have it her own way.
§ Mrs. Manning
I did not hear what the hon. Member said. We have this great country across the Atlantic, in which there is a major part of the wealth of the world. They turn out 600 millions of tons of coal per annum: half the steel of the world, 80 million tons per annum; 33⅓ 2381 per cent, of their budget—which is higher than ours or the U.S.S.R.—is devoted to armaments; they have a navy six times the size of ours, with ours the only other navy in the world; and 55 per cent. of the income of the world is spent by the American people. On the other side of Europe, we have a country that is like a dry sponge, a country willing to absorb everything that can be sold to it. We are so foolish that we would rather see that country turning its neighbours into economic colonies, while we could have those markets if we only took the right line towards its people. Those people have no wish to be members of economic colonies of Russia. As I have said, they are not subservient either to Rome or Moscow. They want to reconstruct their countries, and live a life of happiness and plenty.
Let us not forget that in Eastern Europe today there resides a great power, and an even greater potential. Poland, which is converting her economy into a great industrial economy, is a country with which we ought to be seeking the best economic relationship. That goes also for Yugoslavia, and any other of the Balkan States. We can do that, and we can have friendship with Russia. I would commend to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) the very wise and generous statement made by the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), who has travelled sufficiently widely to understand the difficulties of these problems. He has come back from America with an open mind with regard to the problems of Eastern Europe. He has not, like some hon. Gentlemen opposite, an iron curtain in his mind. He sees that, if we are to have peace in Europe, we can only get that peace by working for the best possible relationship with Eastern Europe, and, finally, for a United States of Europe.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Brigadier Rayner (Totnes)
I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) will forgive me if I do not follow her remarks. I have been in this House rather longer than she has, but I have not her eloquence, and I still need to grind out my points with the aid of notes. I want to make one particular point, and if I follow anybody it is the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), who went to Spain, but I will not follow 2382 the same route. This is the first foreign affairs Debate since we withdrew our Ambassador from Madrid on the U.N.O. decision. It seems clear to me that U.N.O. could only come to the decision to call on member States to withdraw their representatives on all or some of three main considerations—first, that the present Spanish Government may wage an aggressive war; second, that it achieved and exercises power by methods contrary to the Atlantic Charter; and, third, that it supported the Fascist Powers during the war.
The first consideration that Spain may wage an aggressive war, considering the number of golden opportunities which she has had, and her comparatively primitive state, is so ludicrous that I will not waste the time of the Committee by discussing it. The other considerations may well be broken up into several specific charges. The first is that Franco overthrew the established Government of his country. That is true enough. It is one of the few things for which the majority of Spaniards thank him. The Republic of 1931 was based on a constitution which was unsuitable for the Spanish temperament, and, by 1933 it had become such a complete chaos that the best Spanish Liberals left it in disgust, and their writings are now available for all hon. Members to read. I think, however, that possibly the best description of that period is found in a recent book by our wartime Ambassador to Spain, Lord Templewood, who, as hon. Members know, is no friend, on his own showing, of General Franco. If I might be allowed I should like to read a short paragraph from that book describing those years before the civil war:In the 96 months of the Republic's life there were no less than 33 Ministries and the ambitious constitution of 11,000 words was superseded for 86 months out of the 96 by a law of public safety that abrogated every personal liberty. Worse, however, was the anarchy that broke out in the late years of the regime. It was then that were perpetrated the worst massacres and the most extensive destruction of property.
§ Brigadier Rayner
If the hon. Lady would allow me I should like to finish my paragraph. That was the regime that Franco overthrew, and the point I want to make to the Committee is that other existing Governments had overthrown regimes with less excuse.
§ Mrs. Manning
I just want to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he has read my book on Spain. I think if he will do so it will redress the balance of his views on what happened in Spain at that time.
§ Brigadier Rayner
I will certainly read the hon. Lady's book and I shall enjoy doing so, but I imagine that the hon. Lady's book is one small particle of that very clever revolutionary propaganda, which has given a completely wrong partisan picture of what has happened in Spain. I was dealing with the time before the civil war. If I might go on I will now come to the second charge, that the Franco Government is Fascist. Maybe it is. Fascism has many different meanings. Many hon. Members on the other side of the Committee are inclined to use it for anything they do not like on the other side of the Channel. Whatever doctrinal difference there is between Fascism and Communism, there is no doubt that their methods of government are indistinguishable and, therefore, we shall think more clearly if I describe the Franco Government as totalitarian and Spain as a police State with the swollen army that a police State requires. Again, I want to make this point, that Russia is far more of a police State than Spain.
Just before Christmas I went to visit a small property that my wife and I have owned in Spain for some years. [Interruption.] Yes, and that is the reason I know something about Spain; whereas so many Members opposite do not. As I said, I went to visit a small property that we have in Spain, and I found that our employees were perfectly happy to discuss Franco in the most unflattering terms. I also found that wherever else I went. So also, apparently, did Lord Beveridge, who went to Spain last year. When he came back he said in various articles which he wrote that he found everybody perfectly prepared to discuss politics quite freely; that university professors were able to hold their jobs although they were known to hold opinions against the regime; that foreign correspondents were allowed to report quite freely, and that the Spanish censorship, although totalitarian, was much freer than he had expected. And those reports are very different from similar ones by observers who have penetrated behind the iron curtain. The third charge 2384 is that the Franco Government helped the Axis Powers. Of course the Franco Government helped the Axis Powers, but not so much as did Sweden and, judging by the evidence produced at Nuremberg, no whit more than did Russia before she was attacked.
§ Mr. Christopher Shawcross (Widnes)
Does the hon. and gallant Member not agree that any help by Sweden or Russia was given strictly within the terms of international law, whereas all the help by Franco's Spain was given in direct breach of international law, and was in fact unfriendly action of a nature which would entitle this country to demand heavy reparations?
§ Brigadier Rayner
I do not agree with the hon. Member for one moment. Help is either friendly or unfriendly and help to Germany by Russia or even by Sweden at the beginning of the war when we were up against her, though Sweden could not help it, was unfriendly, and there is no question of a point of international law. If I may continue, Mr. Hayes, the American Ambassador in Spain during the war, has stated in a book he wrote last year that General Franco was prepared to join the Allies if Hitler invaded his country. I do not know how much proof there is of that, but we can surely judge Franco by his actions. However much he may have wanted Hitler to win he kept his country on such a tightrope of neutrality that he served our interests. If Hitler had been able to move on Gibraltar via Spain he might have closed the Mediterranean, starved out Malta, and changed the whole course of the war. I suggest also that hon. Members should remember that we now know that no single detail of our necessarily open preparations at Gibraltar for the invasion of North Africa reached the German General Staff. Thus it can be proved that although the Franco Government overthrew an existing regime, other existing Governments have also done so and with less excuse, that although the Franco Government is totalitarian others are more so, and that if the Franco Government helped the Axis Powers it helped the Allies more.
I would therefore ask the Committee why U.N.O. outlawed the Franco Government. There is only one remaining honour- 2385 able reason—in the interests of the Spanish people themselves. That again can be proved to he a false reason. Since the end of the frightful Spanish civil war the situation in Spain has been improving. The social services, although watered down by general Spanish inefficiency, are scarcely behind our Own. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] On paper at any rate they are not a lot behind our own. The finances of Spain have been put fairly straight, and although the country is one large black market there is no doubt that the food situation is improving.
No responsible Spaniard, of whatever class or party, wants to put the clock back now by violent political disturbance. A Spaniard who fought on the Republican side said to a friend of mine the other day, "If it came to a civil war now, I should find that I should have to fight on General Franco's side because I prefer assassination with order to assassination without order "—[Laughter]I am glad that I am amusing hon. Members, because it has been rather a dull Debate. The majority of Spaniards seem to be heartily sick of the Franco regime—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and would prefer a much more liberal one, but they prefer to put their own house in order, and that should have been made very evident to the whole world by the national reaction to the action of U.N.O. the other day.
Least of all do they want to have any more interference by Russia, for they have conclusive proof, which is available to all hon. Members now, that from the time when Lenin on 27th October, 1917, called for a Soviet in Spain, up to the civil war, the Comintern had worked ceaselessly to that end. In this connection then, the United Nations organisation stands convicted of gross hypocrisy and dishonesty in that it has led the ignorant and unthinking to believe that the Spanish Government is the only Government outside the democratic pale. However much the youthful U.N.O. is bound to toady to one of the Great Powers on which it depends, we in this country cannot. afford to put on again those rose-coloured spectacles through which the intrigues and the weaknesses of the old League of Nations used to look like strong policy. If we do, we shall be caught out once more with our trousers down—
§ Brigadier Rayner
My apologies, Major Milner. We shall be caught out, and this time we may not have the time to recover.
§ Brigadier Rayner
Just as Franco served our purposes in war in spite of himself, so he is Row serving our purposes in peace in spite of himself, in that Spain is a country of law and order and some prosperity in a Europe where all these things are in short supply. In their own good time the Spanish people will find an alternative Government, and when they do none of us will care a hoot what happens to General Franco.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I desire to begin by saying two things which may seem perhaps even offensive or quarrelsome. First of all, I wish to say that I do not think I can really De expected to give way to interventions tonight.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) mistakes the subject which makes me sick.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I think that I am not as a rule worse than any other hon. Member in giving way to interruptions, but on this sort of occasion, in a winding-up speech, there is no particular point—and perhaps there will be none any way—but there is no great point—
§ Mr. Gallacher
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman but I did not realise that it was a winding-up speech. I want to put a point of Order—
§ Mr. Gallacher
My point of Order is this. I would not, under any circumstances, challenge the occupant of the Chair, but I always understood it was the courtesy and custom of this House that an hon. Member who had been through the experience through which my hon. Friend the 2387 Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. G. Thomas) has been, would get some consideration in the Debate.
§ The Chairman
That is not a point of Order, and the question raised by the hon. Member is for the discretion of the Chair, and the Chair only.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am sorry to have spent so much time on this, Major Milner, but I thought it fair to the Committee for me to say that it is necessary for me to give time for the Government to reply, and therefore, I cannot make time for interruptions. There is one other thing I wish to say which may seem a good deal more quarrelsome and litigious than what I have said already, and that is this: I quite understand the technical difficulties in which the Government finds itself at this moment. Any Government—I make no party point of it at all, but the fact is if we are to try to conduct a world policy, and if we are to try to do it upon the basis of a Parliamentary constitution, I really think it is fair for it to be said from this side of the Committee that it is necessary that responsible Ministers should be present. I have every sympathy in the world with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; I fully understand his difficulties and the burdens he is bearing; but I ask His Majesty's Government to consider whether debate really remains Parliamentary at all; whether if our Debates are properly reported here and in the Press outside, with the presences and absences, whether the dignity of this House as an ultimate maker of our policy, can be preserved under the conditions under which we sometimes have to work nowadays, and have had to work today.
At this point on such a day, I know not which is the more intimidating thought —whether the momentousness of the occasion or the extreme improbability that any of the words of the orator will have any effect. For it is a momentous occasion. It is the last Debate before, and the purpose of it I presume is to help to form the mind of the Foreign Secretary, before he goes away on the next step towards making a definite peace. I am bound to say I thought the memory of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) not as good as mine—I may be wrong, perhaps mine is not as good as hers—when she spoke 2388 of the risk that we might perhaps slip soon, in our foreign relations, in our peacemaking, into a situation as bad as we were in a year or two after the last war. I should have thought we had slipped as far as that already; and I have very authoritative warrant for my fears. I have authoritative warrant in what the Foreign Secretary himself said. He said today that the best feature of the Treaties already signed is that they represent the end. I am not meaning to take an unfair debating point from him. I know very well he means that they represent the end, and thereby make possible a new beginning for those states in their relations with other states. But, nevertheless, that the Foreign Secretary should think that the best thing to be said of a definitive Treaty is that it is definitive, is itself enough to make us think twice, or three times, before we make up our minds on the matters before us. 1 could bring equally authoritative testimony from the White Paper on Defence before the Committee, but I spare the Committee that, because I do not think it is necessary, and I wish to save all the time I can.
The first specific topic to which I desire to draw the attention of the Committee, is the topic of Greece. I apologise beforehand if I am about, as is probable, to speak with an appearance of dogmatism.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not think it is awfully unusual, but I think I am generally conscious when I err in that way. Any vice is tolerable so long as self-criticism persists. It is not possible in the time to produce the evidence upon which one bases one's assertions, and necessarily most of the evidence is indirect. We have not all been to Greece very lately, and even those who have been have not perhaps the direct experience as the strongest part of their mental machinery. [Laughter.]
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I will explain, certainly. It will take another minute from the Under-Secretary. I mean that even any one of us who have been to Athens or Salonika must, in forming the opinion he puts before the Committee, form it mainly on the basis of indirect evidence, and not on the basis of anything very direct. Let 2389 us remind ourselves of the recent history of Greece—seven years of war, before that four times invaded in the space of a generation, and three of those times from Bulgaria; perhaps of all the countries in the world, even including Poland, the one which has suffered most in the recent war, and certainly of all the countries in the world, again with the possible exception of Poland, that which was the most loyal and most gallant of our allies; and, perhaps characteristically, it was the country which produced, for the first time in the 20th century, a classical story. I think that story was classical, of how when the British troops landed in Greece they were covered with flowers and the girls brought out wine for them to drink. That was perhaps not very remarkable; but when the soldiers of the great power went away again, when the great big brother who was coming to save them from the big had wolf was, not running but still going away, that then they still threw roses to the soldiers, and handed cups of wine to them, that is a classical story such as has hardly happened except in the classical history of Greece, and it happened in the history of Greece and our country not very long ago; and we should remember.
What is the position of Greece at this moment? There is great disillusionment. I thought that the Foreign Secretary, no doubt his information is better than mine—I say that in all simplicity, very much better than mine—was a little optimistic today when he spoke about how much things were getting better economically. Great efforts are being made, things are getting better, but I believe it is still true to say that over that country business in general is half paralysed, and without any Minister of Fuel and Power, so far as I know, to offer a cupro-nickel lining to the clouds. That is happening largely because of the Civil War, which is not such a civil war as all that. The Civil War means much breaking of communications and blowing up of bridges. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman who has been to these places lately, knows it. All that means great misery. I think there are certainly regions in Thrace and Thessaly where the Government writ hardly runs. The Government can anywhere do what it likes if it sends soldiers there, but there are regions where, when the soldiers are not there, authority has gone too.
2390 At the moment I think that Greece has a chance, partly because of the presence of U.N.O. in Greece, because the international Committee of Inquiry, or Commission of Inquiry is, from their point of view, U.N.O. I think that gives them a chance, that, and the presence still of some British troops. When those two things pass, the chance may possibly pass too, and I think for the reasons I gave just now why we should be specially tender about Greece; and, we should add this too, it is most important we should add it, too, and not appear to make a virtue of what is our own interest: if we wish still to be a world Power in any sense, then some considerable measure of influence in the Mediterranean is one of the things we must want, and rightly and properly want. There is nothing for us to be ashamed of in that; there is nothing there, I believe, to which any of our friends need object.
If that is so, if there is to be a chance of Greece being preserved, I want to ask His Majesty's Government two or three questions if I may. I hope I may have answers to them. The only one which seemed to me to require notice I did give some notice of. First, I think this has already been asked, what is meant by the proposed demilitarisation of the Bulgarian frontier? Is, there to be some kind of international frontier control, with some international commission, I suppose at Salonika or somewhere like that? Is that what is meant? If so, may we now be told what is the chance of bringing that off. The second thing I want to ask is what promises have we made of help by way of armament, and how well up to date are we in the keeping of our promises? I think there is nothing indiscreet in giving some figures. I do not assert the figures as a basis of argument, and in giving them I think there is nothing indiscreet, I have heard them from half a dozen sources. They may have been published in the "Daily Mail"—I do not know.
I have heard the figure given that we guaranteed to provide enough arms to enable the Greeks to bring their Forces up from 100,000, as they were said to be a few months ago, to 130,000. Are we doing all we promised to do in that way, and do our technical advisers tell us that what we are doing should be enough to enable a reasonable Greek Government 2391 to maintain some kind of law and order, some kind of existing constitution and sovereignty in that country? Then, while I am in that part of the world, there is another thing I should like to ask. The hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) was very anxious that we should renew our economic connection with the Balkan countries and the countries in Eastern Europe. She assured us, and I was very glad to know on her assurance, that these countries are not in the least desirous of being economically in the Russian belt, that there is no reason in the world why we should not have full and free opportunities of economic relations and communications with them now.
I want to ask His Majesty's Government whether it is the view of His Majesty's 'Government that there is no reason in the world why we should not have such relations. Is a guarantee of such relations one of our objects in going to Moscow, and what are our chances of getting it? There is one other specific topic on which I wish to speak. There are many I must leave out to save time. With apologies, there is one little one I should like to mention because it corrects, I think I may humbly say, something which was suggested just now. One of my hon. Friends had ventured to speak of the relation between our economic arrangements—if arrangements be the right word—in this country and our chances of exercising influence abroad. There was a very lively and rather hilarious challenge from the other side of the Committee on the ground that that was not a relevant matter. I would remind hon. Members of what the Foreign Secretary said. He said, "If I had 40,000,000 tons of coal now I should be three times as powerful in Europe as I am." I take it the first "I" refers to the British people, and the second "I" to His Majesty's Government—that it was a short form of expression. If that gloss be accepted, I would venture to agree with him; and I hope Mr. Horner knows about that; and I hope Mr. Horner's sympathies in the matter are on the same side as mine.
The other specific topic on which I wish to say something is the topic of Germany, which must, I suppose, be at the top of all our minds. I hope nobody will suspect me of what is called "tenderness" for 2392 the Germans. There is no man in the world—no, that is an exaggeration—there are very few Englishmen, certainly, who have less reason to be tender with the Germans than I have. I think I am right about what I am about to say, I may be over-optimistic; but in the years after the 1914–18 war I never believed that Germany had been finally, or very much, crushed, and I often said that. When M. Blum told the British Labour movement that Hitler would be a six weeks wonder, I thought M. Blum was chancing his arm almost excessively even for a politician. I thought in those days that Germany was still a menace. I make bold to say now, that I think I am right that most people exaggerate the extent to which Germany still is, or shortly will be, a menace.
I was rather frightened when the Foreign Secretary spoke today—I think I have his words right—and said, "With me it is a continual obsession—the question of the revival of the German menace." Surely even the best of things, except perhaps it be the love of God or something of that sort, when it becomes a conscious obsession of a man's mind tends very much to derange his mental processes. I agree that we should all think very carefully of the possibility of a renewed, a revived menace from Germany, but we should be careful that we do not make the mistake that I always made at cricket, of playing the last ball but one, because it means generally that one does not get another ball to play. Whichever is right about this, I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider carefully my argument of the next five minutes, and then I will sit down. I was told I could speak for half-an-hour, and, for the next five minutes, I ask hon. Members opposite if they will consider this argument quietly and consider it as a fair argument, because it will assault some of their prejudices, and I do not want to stop to repeat myself or refute them.
Sir Sholto Douglas said the other day—I am sorry to quote him, because I never like quoting generals or civil servants or similar persons, although if they are allowed to speak, and speak as they should, it cannot be wrong to quote them. He said, speaking of Germany, "Why are we here at all?", and he gave two reasons—one, demilitarization, and the 2393 other, the setting-up of a democratic creed and way of life. And the Foreign Secretary said very much the same thing today, he said that we cannot afford a depressed area in Europe, and, alongside that, we had got to provide for the security of Europe. He went on to put the same thing in a different way: he said that we must set up a decent standard of living in a democratic Germany, but without endangering Europe. I beg hon. and right hon. Members opposite, whose prejudices are all naturally, and, for them, quite properly, to the Left, to consider whether that is not a hopeless way of approaching the problem.
First of all, there is the logical difficulty that we cannot really establish democracy in another man's country. The nonsense about re-educating Germans—I think we have got past that now, although we did the other day export another headmaster, but still, in the main, apart from the headmasters, it is pretty well dead now, and we do not have much of that stuff in the public Press. And further, we cannot logically do anything about setting up democracy while we are in military occupation, owe our authority to military occupation, of another people's country. I think that is a hopeless contradiction in terms.
Secondly, the decent standard of living. I do not believe we can enforce or achieve a decent standard of living in Germany. It remains to be seen whether we can get back to a decent standard of living in this country, or whether the thing will run down like an ill-treated clock, or what. I am not over-pessimistic about that, but it is mere imbecility to take the favourable answer for granted. It is enough for us to try to set up a decent standard of living in this country. Then, this business of socialising in Germany, cutting-up landed estates and the socialisation of industry; I come back now to my first point. It cannot be done democratically, because we are not in Germany as democrats; we are there because we won the war. There is also this argument, which I ask hon. Members opposite to consider in the stilly watches of the night.
If we do not want a Germany that is over-centralized and over-planned, with all the power running up to the head of a hammer so that it can be applied smashingly to a particular point, if that is not the sort of Germany we want, I should 2394 be extremely dubious about even desiring, let alone encouraging and still less imposing, the socialising of Germany. We cannot have a socialised Germany which will not be a highly-centralized, highly-organised Germany, very easily and swiftly convertible to war purposes, and all the history of Germany, where socialisation was invented and tried out, all its history for 200 years, right down through the alliance between Lassalle and Bismarck, to what happened with the Kaiser Socialists, and to what happened under the Hitler Socialists, with their alliances with heavy industry and bank finance, all show that that is a profoundly dangerous thing to try to do.
I would speak for only one more minute. I have had to stick to the two main points which I thought most important. I should like to finish upon a general background. The first point is the necessity for union in this House and in the country upon matters of foreign affairs. I should like to ask again right hon. and hon. Members opposite not too easily to think I am trying to make a party point. but to consider within themselves whether it is not generally normal in this country, and other countries, on the whole, for the party of the Right to support its country in its foreign conflicts. We are often accused in my party of being too apt to say, "My country, right or wrong," whereas the Left, on the whole, tends to the temptation of allowing itself to be deceived into using international necessities towards trying to get its own way inside its own country. If that is a risk which we sometimes run [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Germany before the war?"]—Yes, and in Germany, too. I ask right hon. and hon. Members to consider that possibility. And, lastly—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about Munich?"] We cannot always go back to the election platform. I am willing to discuss Munich at any other, time. I was never much of a Munich man, but I would sooner die on that scaffold than on many scaffolds I have seen erected since.
It was demonstrable eight years ago that Europe could not exist without this country, and that this country could not defend itself without its Empire, and without Allies in a real Europe. I believe that was demonstrable eight years ago. There is no necessity to demonstrate that any 2395 longer. Now, it is known. We have seen that Europe cannot exist without us, nor we without Europe, and I ask this final question, What can we be told now? What are the guarantees which we are going to ask? What are the promises we are going to desire to have in the making of this Treaty, and in the making of a new alliance with Russia? What are the guarantees and promises we desire which will enable us to hope that Europe shall be Europe again, and that not only something less than half of it shall be open to our communications, and to normal relations with us?
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)
I have seldom heard anything so wholly inconsistent as the final paragraphs of the speech of the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). After an appeal for unity in the House and between parties, he went on to suggest that the Right was the patriotic party, and that the Left was not, entirely forgetting the record of his party, and entirely forgetting the strong and steady support for the war which was given by the Labour Party, to which we on this side belong
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that his party gave more support than any other party to the war? Surely, we all did our part together?
§ Mr. Mayhew
Of course, I entirely agree. I never suggested that for a minute. I began by saying that the senior Burgess for Cambridge University had been inconsistent in his speech in asking, in the first place, for unity in the House and between the parties on foreign affairs, and then in making a statement about the Left in politics which could only be regarded as extremely provocative.
On the points of substance which he raised and on which he asked for an answer, the first was, What is meant by the demilitarisation clauses in the Bulgarian Treaty? There is, in fact, no international Commission for supervising the demilitarisation of the Bulgarian frontier. The Bulgarians have signed a treaty, and have undertaken to demilitarise that zone. If any country has a complaint against Bulgaria, then, under the provisions of the Treaty it would make 2396 the complaint under Article 36, and the dispute would go to the three heads of mission of the countries who signed the Treaty.
This provision is the same as in the other Treaties which have been signed. On the subject of armaments for Greece, I do not know if it would be in Order to refer to the fact that there is a Supplementary Estimate tomorrow on this subject, which is a broad one, and possibly, in view of the many questions I have to answer, I can pass that over now. The question of our economic relations with Eastern Europe is a big subject on which many Members have touched in their speeches, and I will, if I may, deal with it later.
I come to the 17 questions put to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). I will do my best to answer as fully as I can as many as I can. In the first place, with regard to the prospects of British trade in China, I am afraid there is little that I can say about that. I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's view that this is a matter of great importance which we should take all possible steps to put right, but, as my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, China is on the verge of economic and financial collapse. In those circumstances, trade is difficult, and, though a certain amount is being done, unfortunately it is very little. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, we sent a trade mission there recently. That has come back and has put in a report which we are studying. At the moment, there is not much I can say about our future intentions regarding trade there.
On the subject of the Japanese Treaty, we understand that Dr. Evatt and General MacArthur are in favour of an early Treaty, and we ourselves would not dissent from that view, provided, of course, the Powers concerned, and especially the Dominions, can work out the basis of such a Treaty. At the moment. as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the forces there are Commonwealth forces under an Australian leader. Recently we withdrew a brigade, so we still have a small force there. Any question of withdrawing the small force would, of course, have to be discussed' with the Dominions and with the United States, and naturally we do not want 2397 those forces to be there for a day longer than is really necessary.
The situation in Korea is very unsatisfactory. The deadlock between the United States and Soviet Russia about the establishment of a Joint Commission under the Moscow Declaration has still not been resolved. Korea is, in fact, partitioned, and it is not yet possible to make any progress towards the formation of an independent Government. In the matter of Trieste, I did not entirely understand what the right hon. Gentleman meant. The fact is that when the Treaties are signed and ratified we shall have 5,000 men there for the subsequent oo days, and, at the end of that period, the Governor can, if he likes, ask that those troops should stay on. There were-two other small points. There was the question of the 40 years' Treaty to which the right hon. Gentleman made reference, which I took to be the Byrnes' Four Power Treaty and which, in actual fact, is for a period of 25 years, but Mr. Byrnes has made it clear that he will welcome 4o years if the other Powers wish it.
Finally, the right hon. Gentleman referred to "teeth" in the Charter. Of course, we entirely agree with him. We agree profoundly that Article 43 in the Charter must be implemented as soon as ever it can be. We have from the very beginning taken a lead in trying to make the security arrangements of the Charter a reality. Those who followed the proceedings of the Security Council recently will know that on our initiative it was resolved that the Military Staffs Committee should be asked for a statement on what should be the basic principles governing the organisation of the forces of the United Nations by a stated time, by 30th April. All along we have taken a lead in trying to make a reality of those security provisions.
A theme that has run through this Debate today has been that of the relations between Eastern and Western Europe and the necessity for preventing a barrier growing up between them. The hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) in particular made a speech on these lines, and others who spoke on this subject were my hon. Friends the Members for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price) and Grimsby (Mr. Younger). With the signature of the Treaties and with the Elections in Eastern Europe, we feel that 2398 a new phase opens in the relations between the Great Powers in Eastern Europe.
It is indeed time that the abnormal conditions of the armistice period were ended. We are anxious to see the withdrawal of the burden of occupying troops from Bulgaria. We want an early peace treaty with Austria, so that Austria, Hungary arid Rumania can be freed from the same burden of occupying troops. In fact, we want the old armistice regime to end as soon as possible. Russia has greatly reduced the size of her occupation forces there; but the complete withdrawal of them and the return to normality would be a great step forward, from both the political and the economic point of view. In the peace Treaties the defeated countries undertake to allow to all persons under their jurisdiction the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms; that is to say, these Treaties establish that Bulgaria, Rumania, and Hungary shall not be "police" states. We in this country have not lost, and certainly not suddenly lost, our age-old hatred of "police" rule. We in this country, and the Labour movement in this country, hate and detest oppression of all kinds. Inevitably, our views of these countries will be much influenced by the way in which these clauses of the treaty are carried out.
The Treaties are one new factor, and the elections have been another. If the pledges that had been given to us at Yalta and Potsdam had been carried out, what a great step forward that would have been. The peoples would have enjoyed political freedom, and would have had governments fully representative according to the will of the electors. We know—we admit freely—that free elections are not the rule in Poland, Bulgaria and Rumania. The recent elections in those countries, in spite of the pledges given, were certainly not free; and we have made our views on this subject very plain to the governments concerned.—[Interruption.]—I would be most unwilling to intervene in the very witty, personal quarrel between hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. —If this is so, we still say we have no quarrels with the peoples of those countries of Eastern Europe. We must do all we can to promote their welfare, to maintain cultural and economic relations with them in accordance with our 2399 Socialist belief, in the widest possible measure of international collaboration. We shall, in this new phase, welcome the representatives of those countries in as many as possible of the international bodies and discussions which are now promoting international well-being. We earnestly hope that these countries will not go in for closed economics and economic blocs which carry with them the exploitation of others by the strongest members of those blocs.
The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean asked specifically: Why do not we do more trade with these Eastern European countries? As I have explained. in principle we want to do more trade. In fact, we do do a certain amount. With Finland, for example, we take all the timber they can possibly offer us. We have trade with Czechslovakia; we are beginning trade with Poland, from which a mission has just come over, and conversations will begin with the mission next week; and also with Hungary On the whole, trade with Eastern Europe is very small. There is not much to buy there. That is the principal reason Most of what is available consists in nonessential goods which we cannot afford to buy. Their prices are unreasonably high at the moment because of the exchange rates between local currencies and the £, which are unfair and unreal. For those reasons, and others because our exports are inconvertible currencies and not dollars—it is difficult to build up a substantial trade with Eastern Europe at the moment. But we hope these obstacles are temporary; we believe that once agriculture and industry are restored there will be room for more trade, and we welcome the opportunity for closer economic relations.
After all, it is in the political field where the differences between ourselves and these Eastern European countries are greatest. But in our pre-occupation with the political events of Eastern Europe we should not, I think, overlook the economic front. Impressive progress is being made in certain of these countries along Socialist lines. We regard the development of economic relations with them as a matter of prime importance. Many hon. Members have also referred during the Debate to the question of European unity.
§ Mr. Tiffany (Peterborough)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves Eastern Europe, could he say if the withdrawal of occupying troops applies to Greece as well as to Bulgaria?
§ Mr. Mayhew
Our policy regarding Greece has been often stated, and I have nothing to add to it.
The question of European unity has, however, cropped up from time to time. I am sorry I missed the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping, for I understand that she had her own United States of Europe, which she compared with another movement of the same name. We have noticed too a great deal of talk outside this House on this subject, and, we see, too, suspicions in the minds of our Soviet friends that these proposals are tending in fact to develop against the Soviet Union_ It is easy enough at first sight to feel sympathy with almost any proposals for diminishing the unfettered sovereignty of the nations of Europe in an atomic age. Such sovereignty in the circumstances of today is, surely an anachronism, and many people—the hon. Member for Acock's Green (Mr. Usborne) has a Motion down about it—would welcome the merging of the nations simply on the grounds that sovereignty in itself is bad. Of course, sovereignty may be an abomination, but to say that, and to say that its elimination is always and in all circumstances good, are two different things. To take an extreme example, Hitler's "New Order" was certainly a challenge to the sovereignty of nations. Much depends upon the aims that lie behind the proposals and upon the manner in which they are put through. Therefore, we should be wrong to support a scheme such as this well-known scheme for the United States of Europe merely because it aimed at the elimination of sovereignty. We ought first to ask ourselves how it will work out in practice. What countries will in fact support it? Will it in fact unite Europe, or accentuate divisions? Has it got the appropriate leadership? These are the questions we must ask before we can give such schemes our blessing, and the view of my right hon. Friend is that at present these schemes are premature and more likely to lead to disunity than to unity in Europe.
The ideal of European unity, however, is one to which all of us can subscribe, and may I say how struck I was by the 2401 speech of the hon. Member for Grimsby who drew attention to the importance of the Economic Commission for Europe in this context. We feel that it would be much the best to concentrate our efforts on perhaps less spectacular, more modest, but more realist and practical measures of unification, on measures that find an echo not only in the West but also in the East. For some time past His Majesty's Government, and in particular the Minister of State, have been supporting and helping forward this idea of an Economic Commission for Europe. We were very pleased with the unanimous vote at the recent Assembly, a vote including those of Soviet Russia and Eastern European countries, recommending the Economic and Social Council to take appropriate and favourable measures in establishing this Commission. It is due to be discussed at the Economic and Social Council meeting which opens tomorrow. About the purpose of the Commission something has already been said this afternoon. As we see its work, it will co-ordinate or absorb the temporary economic bodies which have been set up already, the Emergency Committee for Europe, the Emergency Coal Organisation, and the Inland Transport Organisation, bodies which have done excellent practical work already in helping forward the economic reconstruction of Europe, and we believe that through the Commission it will be possible to concert measures for European economic reconstruction. As time goes on, these things may develop much further, but as we look across Europe, let us look at it as a single continent from an economic point of view. Let us have no economic blocs any more than we want political blocs. Let us regard this huge, highly industrialised continent as something to be used for the economic benefit of Europe as a whole, and let us make sure, too, that the resources of Germany, despite the needs of security, which must be borne in mind, can be used to build up prosperity and a free and integrated economy in Europe.
Of course, that is not easy, and it certainly cannot be done overnight. The immediate needs of Europe include many kinds of food, raw materials and manufactured goods that cannot be got inside Europe. There is a need for dollars, of which there is an overall shortage, in spite of the large American lending. But we feel that, although it may not be easy, 2402 yet this conception is not hopelessly visionary. We feel that, by the economic approach, we may get these nations on grounds where differences of views are smallest and where the practical benefits of co-operation are largest, and we feel that in this way we may be doing something practical towards European unity. It is also, perhaps, reasonable to hope that by doing what we can to raise the living standards of Europe, we shall help to reduce political uncertainty and tension. May it not be, sometimes, that even quite a small change in the national income of a country may be the whole margin between an attitude of tolerance and an attitude of desperation?
Something has been said about disarmament and about atomic energy. We had a speech which showed tremendous technical knowledge, and also a very wide approach, from my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn). My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary referred to the disarmament question and to our attitude towards collective security. The Committee will be familiar with the fact that the Security Council passed, on 13th February last, the proposal that it 'should consider the Atomic Energy Committee's report as soon as possible, that it should set up a Commission for a disarmament conference for other weaponsi—not those of mass destruction—and that it should call on the Military Staffs Committee to submit before 30th April recommendations for the basic principles governing the United Nations armed forces. The Security Council is now involved in considering the Atomic Energy Commission's report, the general principles of which are endorsed by His Majesty's Government, and perhaps I may say that an encouraging factor of the present discussions is that disagreement appears to have been narrowed down considerably. The outstanding points seem to be these: the emphasis to be laid on the prohibition and destruction of atomic weapons; the timing of the prohibition and the destruction of atomic weapons in relation to the establishment of an atomic development authority; also the emphasis to be laid on the development functions of the international agency; and finally the veto question. But substantial progress has been made, and the area of disagreement has been narrowed down.
2403 There were several other speeches to which I should very much like to refer if there were time. The hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) made a speech with a large proportion of which I most wholeheartedly agree. He, too, like so many other hon. Members, stressed the enormous importance of not letting this barrier grow up between East and West, and that is a point of view which, of course, His Majesty's Government most warmly endorse.
I cannot conclude my speech without saying a word generally about the United Nations organisation. It has become a platitude to say that support for the United Nations is a cornerstone of British foreign policy. Frankly, I admit that when I hear the phrase I am reminded of the dictum that "the league of nations is the sheet anchor of British foreign policy." I wonder, as many people do, whether we have any right to expect the United Nations to succeed when the League of Nations in its main purpose so conspicuously failed. Perhaps to my generation particularly, the comparison between the two is at first sight depressing. We missed even the period of hope in which the League was born. For us the League was always a failure, always disillusionment. For us, therefore, there is perhaps an initial sense of defeatism before we fully understand the real benefits and possibilities of international co-operation.
It has often been pointed out, and the comparison is just, that the United Nations, unlike the League of Nations, has got both feet on the ground. It does reflect the realities of world politics in a way which the League did not. The United Nations has virtually a worldwide membership in a way that the League of Nations had not. We must of course continue our fullest support of the United Nations. Whatever the difficulties may be among the nations, they will not be ironed out, and they will not be solved, by war. All the nations of the world clearly know that. If not by war, they must be solved by agreement after discussion, and that discussion is possible only within the framework of the United Nations.
It may be said—indeed it has been said by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill)—that it is not possible— 2404 this is the implication of what he is saying—to organise on this world scale when civilisations are becoming so separate and so distant from each other, and that our only hope is large scale organisation based on those countries who have a common outlook, for instance the western world. We say that that is a policy of despair. We say that any proposals designed to take away responsibility from world organisations and to transfer it to regional organisations points the way to a policy of despair. Even if one day it should be forced upon us, that is no reason for accepting it as desirable now, before we have to.
It does seem inescapable that patience and perseverance in building up a United Nations organisation is the best hope that lies before us. In spite of the difficulties and the suspicions, the big Powers must use the United Nations for peace. They must make a reality and not a sham of the phrase "collective security." This policy of the Government, based foursquare on the United Nations and upon those same principles of Socialism and Democracy that we are carrying through on the home front, may be a slow business. It may not always be spectacular. It is a policy for patient men only, but it is realist, it is practical, it is empirical and it is, I am convinced, the best answer that Britain can give to the world's problems.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported Tomorrow; Committee to sit again Tomorrow.