§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. William Whiteley.]
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I welcome the opportunity to present to the House a statement—which, I am afraid, must be taken in the nature of an interim report—on the steps which have been taken to date in the work of preparing a peace treaty with Germany. Before I left London I indicated that it would be wrong to expect too much from the Moscow Conference in the matter of providing the final settlement of a peace treaty with Germany. I ask the House to recognise that the form in which we create the new Germany, the methods adopted for its government, and the mapping out of its future position in the society of nations will take a long time to realise. It is both important and complicated. It is as well to remind ourselves that there is no German Government to deal with, and that the result of the war was a tremendous smash, with, world-wide 1719 effects, in which Hitler carried out his intention of bringing down with him the whole fabric of the German State. In consequence, there are no precedents to work to, and time is required before a final settlement can be reached—in fact, the whole of Middle Europe has really to be rebuilt as a result of this war.
On the other hand, if the task is unduly delayed—and I think the Moscow Conference brought out the difficulties in all their broad reality, the differences of approach, and the objectives which the respective Powers were endeavouring to reach, so that we know now what we have to face at the next Council of Foreign Ministers—as I say, if the task is unduly delayed, then the difficulties will get worse instead of better. It is a question now of bringing to a head the next stage in the organisation of Germany. I would say at the outset, on many of these issues—Germany and Austria, and, in addition, the relations between East and West that if they are not brought to a much more satisfactory conclusion at the London Conference in November, no one can prophesy the course the world will take.
I regard the London Conference in November, with the issues now brought clearly before us, as probably the most vital in the world's history. On behalf of this nation, I will certainly work hard to fry to reach a conclusion, but I must remind the House that this settlement does not lies in the hands of His Majesty's Government alone. I welcome this Debate, because all of us are anxious, I am sure, to make the best contribution we can. I give the House the assurance that His Majesty's Government will take into account any points or suggestions which are made. I shall not speak in any controversial sense, but purely objectively, and I am sure the House will approach the problem with the same sense of responsibility.
Dealing first with the methods of approach, I would say that the Conference opened with the examination of the Control Council's Report. It was a voluminous and a very valuable report. Much in that report had been agreed by the representatives of the Powers in Berlin, but a very large amount had not, and that which had not found agreement raised great and fundamental issues, 1720 which we proceeded to examine. The British delegation felt that they must take steps to avoid misunderstanding in the future, and therefore reserved their position on 'separate items, until we could see the picture as a whole arising out of these discussions. This was a wise decision, and other delegations came to a similar view later, as the issues were found to dovetail, as it were, one into the other. Arising out of the report came such questions as demilitarisation, de-Nazification, democratisation, territorial reorganisation and the problem of displaced persons, as well as a large number of vital economic questions.
In this connection, there has, unfortunately, grown up the habit of hurling charges about some of these problems. I do not think it is wise. This happened particularly about de-Nazification when that was discussed. His Majesty's Government were accused of employing Nazis, and of protecting them. When examined, the accusation was found to be quite untrue. Out of the names given me, only one was of a person still in employment, and he had been acquitted by the proper court of being a Nazi. In turn I, of course, had to give the Soviet delegation, as a result of our information, names of Nazis employed by them, which were not disputed. When one examines the enormous task that the Control Council and the administration were given to do, in rooting out the worst elements of Nazism after the indoctrination carried on by Hitler, one realises that they have done a great job. Therefore, I think it is better in future, for all of us, if we find that we have an idea that one or the other of the Powers is not doing what we feel ought to be done in administration, to communicate with one another and investigate it rather than make it a first-class issue between Powers.
All these things led on to a discussion of fundamental issues in which agreement was found on some points, divergence of opinion on others, and disagreement on the remainder. I will try to set out briefly the advances which were made and where the fundamental differences exist. The method that I adopted was to bring all these proposals together. I did this in a document called "Supplementary principles to govern the treatment of Germany." We circulated it to the Council of Foreign Ministers on 31st March. 1721 I claim that this document set forth a constructive and comprehensive plan, not for the final solution of Germany, but for the next stage. It is strictly related to the carrying out of the Potsdam Agreement, and supplements, in the light of experience, the principles contained in that Agreement.
I am not one of those who want to turn down the Potsdam Agreement. What I want to do is to carry it out in all its phases, without question and without qualification, and, if I may say so, without selection, which is very important. The document to which I refer gives our point of view on the political and economic principles, reparations and the level of industry in Germany, and covers not only points of major importance, but also minor questions which cannot be ignored. Here let me say that there is a tendency to try to settle points of major importance ignoring consequential minor questions—that is minor questions of the moment—but these minor questions eventually loom into big questions affecting interpretation and action and lead to disagreements. I will not today weary the House by going through this document, but in order that it may be read in the context with what I have to say, I will, with permission, arrange for it to be immediately available in the Vote Office.
When we came to deal with demilitarisation, the whole question of reparations, past, present and future, came up. And on this, if I may deal with the past for a moment, our position has been as follows. We agreed to the Potsdam decision; we proceeded to operate it; but in operating it, we found it to be bound up with economic unity and a balanced economy, and when this economic unity was not achieved, difficulties obviously arose with regard to the part of the Potsdam agreement dealing with reparations. It was part of a combined whole. In addition, the basis of Potsdam reparations depended on the level of industry. It was decided at Potsdam, for instance, that sufficient plant should be left in Germany to give the Germans a reasonable standard of life, but to restrict any danger of Germany maintaining a war potential. For instance, what are now known as "Category 1 plants" are war plants. I agreed at once that they should be removed urgently, irrespective of the fact that other parts of the Potsdam Agreement 1722 were not being given effect. I thought it was better to have no further argument about what were purely war plants and that, therefore, we would deliver them where possible to the Russians and to the other Allies in accordance with the proportion decided at Potsdam.
Arising next is the question of the plants known as "Categories II, III and IV," which are based on a steel output of 7½ million tons, which figure I have always protested against as being too low and needing revision. If you were to take as reparations all the plant at present scheduled under Categories II, III and IV—much of which can be used for peaceful purposes—you would do a grave injustice and create a worse position than that which was left in 1918, and possibly have to restore them to Germany again in order to produce a reasonable and balanced standard of life. To take them away and then have to replace them, is a stupid process. However, it is interesting to note that His Majesty's Government have always adhered, as a yardstick, to a German steel capacity of 11 million tons. It was worked out, I believe, in 1944 when we were examining the postwar industrial level of Germany, and it has turned out to be correct. Soviet Russia and the United States argued for a long time for 5.8 million; then they came to 7½ millions; now the Soviet Union says 10–12 millions, and the Americans appear to be hovering round a similar figure. I regret the delay over this level of industry business. It has not been possible to organise the thing properly because this was not settled. It certainly handicapped the Moscow Conference in dealing with other problems, and it is regrettable that agreement was not reached earlier on this question and the problem faced in terms of reality.
Again, the problem of the level of German industry brought up the question—raised by the Russians—of reparations from current production. The House will be aware of His Majesty's Government's views on this matter. In the document to which I have referred, I indicated that we have not closed our minds to this but we must take first things first. They are as follows: the economic unity of Germany, a balanced economy and the repayment of what we have had to put in to keep the Germans alive since the occupation. I think that is a legitimate claim. I am not 1723 talking about extraneous expenditure; I am talking about what we have had to put in to keep the show alive, and the sooner that is got through, and settled, the sooner we can see what, if anything, can be done in connection with current reparations. But I do not think it will be out of place at this moment if I draw a deduction from what happened after the end of the 1914–1918 war which has led us to adopt this attitude. I will not go into great detail, but a few figures will illustrate the point I am making.
In the Versailles settlement, the original demand for reparations from Germany was for payment of £13,500 million sterling spread over 35 years. The impossibility of payment on this scale was soon realised, and the demand for reparations was scaled down by successive stages, with the result that, when reparations ceased in 1932, Germany had paid only some £900 million sterling. Of this sum, about £515 million sterling was paid out after 1924 under the Dawes and the Young Plans. Immediately, in connection with that, long-term loans were advanced to Germany amounting to £475 million sterling, and these figures take no account of the short-term loans made to Germany from abroad in the same period, which were estimated to have brought Germany's short-term indebtedness in 1932 to a total of £700 million sterling at the 1932 rate of exchange.
I have no intention of following a policy which allows us once again to be placed in a position of making loans on a scale which we know to be quite irrecoverable from Germany. Furthermore, the effects of the reparations settlement after the 1914–18 war cannot be judged in terms of money alone. Reparations took the form of deliveries in kind and deliveries of plant, equipment and ships, as well as of cash. This was, as I have said, followed by foreign loans which enabled Germany then to re-equip herself with modern equipment, in addition to forcing her—or attempting to force her—to find foreign exchange for the purpose of reparations, this in many cases putting her far ahead of her competitors. In fact, we had the old stuff and she had the new, and this helped Germany ultimately to build up her efficient war potential to start the second world war. That is a process which I think, after the experience of only 25 years ago, statesmen ought not to follow.
1724 Reparations bring up another problem which is fundamental, and that is, What was agreed to in these various Conferences during the war? We are sometimes accused of going back on agreements. But that is not so. It is true, it was suggested at Yalta, that 20 billion dollars or £5,000 million sterling should go to the Allies, of which 10 billion dollars or £2,500 million sterling should go to the Soviet Union. Nothing was settled. When we looked into this in the days of the Coalition Government, we then estimated that yearly payments on this basis would be roughly equivalent to German prewar gross exports, not allowing anything for imports, in an average year between the two wars.
These exchanges of view were never regarded as binding, and in fact the British delegation at that time reserved their position. It is also interesting to note that figures of less than 20 billion dollars were also mentioned at the same conference. No one was committed to anything. Then, at Potsdam, I was clearly under the impression—it should be remembered I arrived at the take over very late as the result of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) coming back for the count—that so far as the Western zones were concerned we had settled reparations by the following decision embodied in the words of the Potsdam Agreement:The proceeds of exports from current production and stock shall be available in the first place as payment for 'approved imports.And it is indicated that this decision was made "in accordance with the Crimea decision," which was the Yalta decision. It is, therefore, clear that until there is a balance of payments in Germany, export proceeds from current production must go towards paying for imports, and the taking of reparations from current production, although not expressly excluded, cannot be considered until that stage is reached. I, therefore, was unable at Moscow to accept the argument that the discussion of reparations at Yalta represented a decision binding on us to agree to the taking of reparations from current production now. In addition, I was under definite instructions from His Majesty's Government that we would not, and could not, agree to the principle of reparations from current production, which involved Great Britain 1725 and the British people and the other Allies virtually in paying reparations to another Ally. Things did not move so well, when we could not agree on this question. But, I think the whole matter is causing some thought among all the Powers, and at the next meeting—now that we understand the position—some solution may be found.
Here I desire to make our position very clear. We have no desire that Germany should escape payment of her contribution to the rehabilitation of countries to whom she did so much damage. She must not be allowed to escape. We must be careful to ensure that the cost is imposed on Germany, and not on the peoples of other countries who had to put up with her attacks. As I said at the outset, the problem of reparations immediately gave rise to the question of economic unity. In this we have been handicapped in two ways. In the first place, we agreed at Potsdam to central administrations in certain fields, and we have been anxious to operate this agreement ever since. It was to the advantage of the Allies that this should be done. France, who was not present at Potsdam, could not agree, because of the claims she had in regard to the Ruhr, the Rhineland and the Saar. Therefore, as unanimity is necessary in these things and was not obtained, the agreement was not operated.
Further, it was not operated on the economic side, because it was understood that there would be a pooling of all the foodstuffs and production in the four zones, and proper collection and delivery with a view to getting a balanced economy in Germany. Had these things been effectively carried out, as agreed, it would have been to the advantage of all the Allies, and would have helped us now to deal with these other problems which have since become so acute. But the fact that these arrangements were not operated, is not the fault of His Majesty's Government, nor of any influence from Great Britain.
If the Council of Foreign Ministers is to build conditions of political stability in the world, it is absolutely essential that no hindrance should be put in the way of getting economic stability. It is almost impossible for us to achieve satisfactory results unless the two things go together, or, at least, are worked on together.
1726 I now turn to the question of political development. Here there is a divergence of opinion arising largely out of historical difficulties, which affect the approach of the nations in different ways. At Yalta, there was a discussion on this problem also, but no agreement was reached. That discussion was on the basis that Germany should be dismembered, and in fact a committee was set up to study the question, but it did not get very far. At Potsdam, the Soviet delegation swung right away from the position foreshadowed at Yalta, and proposed the central agencies to which I have referred, presumably to lead up to a centralised Germany. That was the new policy at Potsdam, as against the conception at Yalta. The United States, who are concerned about a powerful and centralised Germany, have always taken the view that, to a very large extent, the new Germany should rest more and more on the Lander, or on provincial organisations. The French want to go even further and give more power to the Lander to deal with such subjects as nationality, diplomatic relations, and so on. The British delegation tried to combine the elements of federalisation and centralisation, influenced, I admit, to a very large extent, by our own constitutional experience in Canada, Australia, and other parts of the Commonwealth who have developed constitutions of this character.
In presenting our statement, we urged that we should not get involved in slogans, because there has been an attempt to say that the Western Powers wanted to federalise Germany for all sorts of vile reasons. It really does not help discussion to deal with foreign affairs in this way. As there was a tendency to make another first-class quarrel by using such terms as federalisation and centralisation, as if they were points of conflict, I was anxious that they should be abolished. After all, it is a purely practical problem in which we must arrive at a conclusion, which will preserve the political and economic unity of Germany on essential matters, but which does not over-centralise Germany so that she can again endanger our security.
We, therefore, approached the question by the method that we should specify the matters which should be embodied in the powers of the central government and the residual powers, not so specified, should 1727 be left with the Lander. I feel that if as a result of the discussion we can get a further objective constitutional approach, much work may be done between now and November, and these differences of approach may be reconciled. For instance, one very important point was the desire that the police should be a national institution, under the control of the central government. We strongly objected to that, yet we are conscious that, as in this country and other countries circumstances may arise in which there should be some authority at the centre in connection with the police, just as there is here in the Home Office, and in similar institutions in other countries.
We did succeed in arriving at a tentative decision, which I thought was very encouraging, that the control of the police, their organisation, etc., should rest with the Lander with the executive authority over the police residing in the Lander, but that certain functions with regard to the investigation of crime and other matters, which may be worked out, might be co-ordinated, so that the State might have the advantage of the police. The main objective we have to reach in this matter is to prevent the development again in Germany of a police State, which is the very antithesis of democracy. It does not matter how many elections there are; if there is a powerful secret police, operated by a single Minister, in secret, which can inculcate fear into the people of a country, there is no democracy; you are not within miles of it. I made it clear that this must not be created again. Nothing could be more terrifying than the Hitler police methods with the development of the Gestapo and everything associated with it.
Further, the Soviet delegation took the line that we should follow the pattern of the Weimar Republic for the Constitution of Germany. We agreed that there were many things there which it would be useful to study, but I had to remind the Council that the President of the Weimar Republic had the power to suspend the whole Constitution, which he did. It was agreed unanimously that such powers as that could not go again into a new Constitution. There were many points in the Weimar Constitution which would be dangerous to the Allies and to peace, but there were other points which 1728 could be taken into account when building up the new Constitution of Germany. Then there is the question of elections. As the House knows, nearly all countries on the Continent favour proportional representation. Personally, I have never been enamoured of it, but I do not mind whether there are elections similar to our own, or ones conducted under proportional representation. I think the Germans are entitled, after discussion, to work that out and not to have imposed on them one system or the other. What we have to be careful about is that we do not create in Germany a system which leads to the one-party system or one-party control.
A matter which I regarded with deep concern was the failure to reach agreement on the Four Power Treaty. At the end of the 1914–18 war, the United States withdrew from Europe, and I must say that in Paris, when Mr. Byrnes revealed the willingness of the United States for 25 years, and later for 40 years or 50 years, to enter into an agreement with the rest of us for the demilitarisation and disarmament of Germany, I began to have visions of peace in Europe for centuries. To us, to France, to all the Western Powers, this was a vital and important decision. Unfortunately, the Soviet delegation were not willing to accept the American proposal unless there was added to it a number of matters not directly related to it, and upon which we had been unable to agree at the Conference itself. The United States delegation clearly felt that the inclusion of these matters would make it impossible to reach agreement on the Treaty at all.
I felt that here was the United States, responding to the suggestion which has been urged all over the world, that East and West should come together, and actually designing and planning a great bridge between the two views to make harmony where there had been at least discord hitherto. Even if this American proposal did not cover all that was required, the very establishment of this link, as foreshadowed in the Treaty, would alter the course of world affairs. I hope and trust that, on reflection, all of us will be able to strive, between now and November, to create an atmosphere in which a beginning can be made with a treaty of this character. If we do not grasp it now, the chance may never come again. Fortunately, the Secretary of 1729 State, Mr. Marshall, with whom I was glad to have the opportunity to work, made it clear that the offer had not been withdrawn. I can only repeat that I trust that wiser counsels will prevail, and that an attempt will be made in the manner I have indicated.
I now turn to the Ruhr. The claim has been put forward that the Ruhr should be put under Four Power control. I regard this claim as untenable, so long as there is not complete and genuine economic unity in Germany. When such a unity has been achieved, we are willing that the production and allocation of the resources of the Ruhr, in common with the production and allocation of all the resources of Germany, should be dealt with under Four Power control, acting under the authority of the Control Council. We cannot accept the view that the Ruhr should be singled out at this time for special treatment. Partial economic unity is not possible. It would be wrong for us to agree to put the Ruhr under this control at a time when other parts of Germany are treated as close preserves.
In spite of the efforts made, we were unfortunately unable to reach agreement on another very important matter affecting the preparation of the German Peace Treaty. The principal point of disagreement under this head is the question of the extent and method of the participation of Allied States in the preparation of a draft Peace Treaty. There is strong feeling among countries who poured their troops and their money into this great struggle, against being kept on the outer fringe, so to speak, and not allowed to take part in the reshaping of the world. I have been anxious to secure the most liberal rights of participation at all stages. I attach the highest importance to the Dominion Governments, in particular, who were in the war from 1939 to the end, obtaining such rights as a recognition of their contribution to victory. A number of other points were left outstanding on this matter, and the whole question is being further studied.
We then turned to the question of territorial claims against Germany. It was hoped that the Deputies or a special commission, would have been instructed to deal with this, and to report at the next meeting. Unfortunately the Soviet delegation claimed that the new German-Polish 1730 frontier had been settled at Potsdam, and should therefore be excluded from examination. We were asked to accept the provisional frontier as final, in spite of the fact that it was agreed at Yalta, and confirmed at Potsdam, that the final delimitation of the Western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement. I am perfectly certain that if this had operated the other way, and we had made such a claim for a settlement without reference to the Peace Conference, that it would not have been tolerated by our friends for a moment.
All I ask is proper treatment. When one has entered into agreement it should be carried out as it was intended. The territory between the Eastern and Western Neisse, it seems, has been filled up, but I am not so sure about the territory between Frankfurt and the Baltic, which is a great agricultural area. Before territory of this kind is finally handed over—and I pronounce no opinion as to what the final view of His Majesty's Government would be—one is entitled to have the facts before giving a final decision. That is all I have asked. We have an open mind on the matter, but we accept the view that Poland must be compensated for what was taken away from her by Soviet Russia in the East. The fact is that the Polish population has dropped from 35 million to 22 million, but there are, as I said the other day, a large number of Poles abroad and, if they come back and are given the land in the manner promised to us at Potsdam, it may create a different situation; but there have been so many handicaps which, happily, have now been removed.
In the territorial field, we supported the French claim to the Saar—that is the Saar of the 1919 peace settlement. There are claims from Luxemburg, Holland, and Czechoslovakia, as well as a very small claim from Belgium which really aims at straightening the frontier to include a small part of a railway which runs inconveniently. In any case, I trust that we shall be able to succeed, and not one of us, in my view, should deny to the other the right of getting the facts, nor should we expect a decision to be made without knowledge of the facts.
There were a number of points upon which, for the time being, agreement could not be reached. If we can achieve agreement on the economic principles, however, 1731 these other points have a reasonable chance of settlement. Here are illustrations. There is little difference of opinion now between at least three delegations about the future operation of German political parties and trade unions on an all-German basis. If that can be agreed ultimately, it will shape the course, to a very large extent, of the political and economic organisation in that country. We also made some progress on the question of population transfers. I assure the House that this is one of the greatest difficulties that has to be overcome. Density of population has to be worked out over the whole of Germany if we are to get a decent Germany at all.
The questions of refugees, overcrowding, and so on, present great problems, but we discussed the matter very fully. I was sorry that the suggestion was not adopted that a German commission be established in order to study how refugees who have already been received into Germany should be most equitably distributed. I shall press for that again. On this also, three delegations were in agreement, but the French delegation, who had themselves other important proposals to make for the emigration of Germans from Germany, were, unfortunately, unable to agree. The present overcrowding in Germany is worst of all in our zone, and that tends to depress the standard of life there as against the other areas. Another vitally important question is that of freedom of movement, since, unless there is complete freedom to travel throughout the country as a whole and to take work and to settle down where work and houses are to be found, there can be no chance of developing a peaceful and democratic Germany. Three delegations found it possible to agree on this all-important principle, but one was unable to accept it at present.
I could give many more examples indicating each detailed point which was made, but I will not weary the House. Although it may seem tedious, I assure hon. Members it was more tedious for me for six weeks sitting there. Someone said to me the other day, "You must have been born again." I asked why, and he replied "Because nobody can remember you with the patience you have got now."
I turn to a number of points upon which agreement was reached. The Council 1732 agreed to a law already passed by the Control Council for the liquidation of Prussia. We pressed for agreement also, and I am glad that we succeeded, on the repatriation of German prisoners of war. We have made returns of the members of former German armed forces and auxiliary services at present in our hands. The Control Council will find this very useful in planning for the absorption of these returned men into the economy of Germany. Secondly, we agreed that the repatriation of German prisoners should be completed by 31st December, 1948.
§ Mr. Bevin
My hon. Friend very kindly sent me letters with his views, but I remind him, quite seriously, that to absorb over two million people into an economy of that character, without preparation, might create terrible difficulties. As no properly worked out plans have been received, I think it wise to let a steady ratio go back, who can be settled peacefully, as the industries develop. At least we agreed to that. On the important question of political principles a number of points were agreed but, as I have said, we did not finally put it in the protocol because, this time, we want to see a complete scheme. There is one matter upon which we made great progress but failed to reach final agreement. We had proposed that a German representative body should be nominated at an early date to advise the Control Council on various matters, including the details of the provisional German constitution. The Council did agree, with certain reservations, to the date when the Advisory Council should be established, and to its functions. Unfortunately, the proposal broke down on the question of the composition of the Council. There was a difficulty between the Lander concept and that of the centralised institutions. If they were to survive afterwards, I think it unwise to go on having these things prepared by the Control Council and then find that they have no roots at all in the country. The association of the Germans with this task at this stage, especially those who know what Hitlerism meant to the country, will be very helpful.
Then, as I indicated earlier, we had a long discussion on the division of powers between the provisional central government that would be established, and the 1733 various Länder, in order to ensure that the central government has sufficient authority, within certain well defined fields. A broad measure of agreement was reached upon which powers should be handed to them. We agreed that certain legal, economic and financial powers might be within the competence of the central government. The Council agreed that the whole question of the provisional political organisation of Germany should be developed by the deputies, and I hope to see progress made by the time the London Conference meets. I do not want the House to assume that because I am not presenting a report of agreement on everything, there are very strong divergences. The Conference has reached a stage in which we got a consensus of opinion even though we had not really reached the exact form for finding agreement.
There is another matter on which we reached agreement and that was complete land reform throughout Germany by the end of this year. That gets rid of the foundations of the old German General Staff and breaks up the land. I think it will make for greater efficiency and particularly for reorganisation. Agreement was also reached on another very important matter, namely free exchange of information and democratic ideas throughout Germany. Instead of holding the opinions confined within the zones, there must be free exchange of views. Upon de-Nazification we all decided that it should be speeded up, and that responsibility for completing it would be placed upon the appropriate German authorities. It was not merely a question of the military government getting rid of Nazism, the Germans must take a share in getting rid of it in their own country. In response to a request of mine the Soviet delegation gave an undertaking to liquidate all category C warships in their possession, which include an aircraft carrier and a heavy cruiser, and they gave an undertaking that that would be completed by August, 1947. I gave an assurance that the Diertsgruppen, of which the Soviet had complained, would be disbanded in the British zone at the end of the year apart from those required for minesweeping at sea, and 5,000 skilled men whom it would be impossible to replace before March, 1948. I think it will be a good thing to clean up this 1734 business and remove the cause of the complaint.
On the last day of the Conference we briefly discussed a resolution which is vital to us and to the Allies. It was a resolution which Mr. Marshall had tabled, about the size of the Allied occupation forces in Germany. We have agreed to instruct the Control Council to consider this matter and to report to us not later than 1st June, 1947, as to what size our respective occupation forces should be on 1st September, 1947. I think it is a good thing to have these forces regulated on a four-Power basis and remove any dispute about them.
I now turn to the present and the future. I have already stated that the Potsdam Agreement has failed to function as it was intended to function. It is clear that it can only function if supplemented and strengthened in the light of existing circumstances, and on the lines of the principles to which I have referred. I am not now going into the reasons for the failure. It has thrown up a great deal of bitterness and a great deal of misunderstanding, and the fact that it did not function caused us and the United States to enter into the fusion agreement. As regards the present state of the fusion agreement, I have this to say—it must be made to work and it must be treated as an urgent economic operation in the interests not only of Germany but of France and the liberated countries; in fact, of Europe as a whole. The restoration of the economy of Germany, of France, and of the other liberated countries depends on coal, but we cannot get the coal, steel and other production needed unless the workers are fed. Unfortunately there is and there will be for the next three months a serious shortage of food. When, once this critical period. is surmounted—and the prospects of imports of grain for May and June are much better than they have been for some months past—I believe there is hope of a better food ration for the Germans in the future. More food, more home production, economic recovery—that is the cycle, but it will not be achieved without a will on the part of the Germans themselves to face difficulties and to contribute to their own recovery.
After all, it is not only Germany but the whole world that is short of food, and this is a result of the war for which Germany was responsible. I know that the 1735 German workers are depressed and hampered by low rations, but the responsibility for their present predicament is their own. We will do our best to help and we are in close and constant consultation with the United States Government on this vital problem of food and production. It is the German people who must work their passage back to economic recovery and to a standard of life that they can maintain. In fairness I should point out that it is not only collections of grain from German sources that have fallen short. Difficulties for Germany have also arisen from the supplying countries, for a variety of reasons, being considerably behind schedule. It is a combination of factors. Apart from food, the remedy for the present difficulties of Germany lies in the successful fusion first of the British and American zones, and then of the other two zones with the combined British and American zones, as soon as they are ready. The fusion agreement as I have stated so often is open for the others to join. Ultimately, I hope and believe it will lead to the creation of a unified Germany.
On my way back from Moscow I stopped in Berlin and held discussions with the Chancellor of the Duchy and the British authorities there. A number of points in connection with the operation of the fusion agreement have been under discussion between our and the American representatives in Berlin. I am able to make the following report on these discussions. The first issue concerned the use of the funds which had been made available for the importation of raw materials. It is clear, in view of the limited size of these funds, that great care must be exercised in their expenditure and safeguards taken to ensure that exports will result so that the money expended may be replaced. On practical grounds, it is very difficult to relate every import to an export. The issue has now been resolved by an agreement, which sets out in quite a clear manner the extent to which the available funds may be used. Under the plan, it is permitted to anticipate the future proceeds of export to a strictly limited extent. I consider after studying it, that it offers a sound and workable solution, while at the same time it ensures that the available funds are laid out wisely and carefully.
1736 The next matter which has been under discussion relates to the status of the bi-zonal German agencies, which have been established and their effectiveness for the execution of their task. Agreement has been reached upon an ordinance which will define these matters and ensure that the decisions and orders of the bi-zonal agencies shall have binding effect on those to whom they are issued. The Lander administrations are, rightly, responsible for implementing instructions put out by the bi-zonal agencies except for such matters as railways which obviously have to be administered centrally. However it is established that the Lander governments must take prompt action on decisions put up to them by the bi-zonal agencies. Heavy penalties for the infringement of these orders will be prescribed, but we shall not limit ourselves to penalties. We have decided to adopt methods which will give every encouragement to increase production. The chairmen of the bi-zonal agencies will be given a measure of executive authority to enable them to act when the committee governing the operation is not in session.
Under this agreement we will get greater efficiency and control, and I welcome the decision that all bi-zonal agencies shall be concentrated in one place as rapidly as practical considerations permit, and that place is Frankfurt. The final bi-zonal agencies must operate efficiently, and they must be associated with the Germans and the Allied Military Government. I am happy to say that General Robertson and General Clay have reached agreement in principle on the machinery to achieve this objective. The actual details of this machinery are now being worked out. I am confident that agreement will be reached very soon. To sum up, the British and American representatives in Germany have now reached such agreement as will enable the operation of our fusion arrangements to function successfully, and I am appreciative of the spirit of cooperation on the part of the American representatives which makes it possible for me to say this today. For our part, we are throwing all our efforts into the reconstruction of a peaceful Germany, with the two provisos that no additional burden can be imposed upon the British taxpayer and that Germany does not again become a menace to the peace of the world.
1737 Now a word about socialisation. I have seen in the London Press this morning some reports from America which indicate the powerful imagination of journalists' minds. We adhere to the principle of the public ownership of the basic German industries. At the moment the coal and steel industries in the British zone are vested in the Commander-in-Chief. He is not, however, the owner; he holds them, as it were, in trust. It would be impossible if we wished it, or if anybody wished it, to return these industries to their former owners. Public ownership is the only remedy. But we must be careful to safeguard the rights of our Allies and ourselves. I am not in favour of breaking up these basic industries, as a piece of organisation, into a lot of small parts. If there is to be a reasonable and peaceful economy, the only way to organise it with security, and later on create a situation in which international control and supervision can be devised to operate, is by some form of public ownership. Against that there have been no questions about the business at all. What we have agreed to do, in connection with it, is not only to act ourselves but, as the Germans have to operate them and develop them, to consult German opinion on the matter as we go along.
This great problem of Germany has now, by decision of the Cabinet, been placed under the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary. It was found that the day-to-day administrative problems could not be separated from policy. I want, however, to pay a tribute to my hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions who, in the chaos which followed the close of the war both in Germany and in Austria, was given a very difficult task indeed. He manfully dealt with the complicated problems of the administration of Germany from the outset. I extend a welcome to the Chancellor of the Duchy, and I promise him that, in dealing with this job, he will not rust up.
In addition, I shall welcome the opportunity now to make contact with the workers and others in Germany and encourage them in their resolution to recover from their present plight and work their way back with the rest of Europe into a peaceful, prosperous and democratic way of life. In fact, if I can get any time to do so, I should be glad to 1738 meet the miners and steelworkers of the Ruhr in order to discuss matters at first hand with my colleagues out there. I think I ought to pay a tribute to the Commanders-in-Chief, to Sir Sholto Douglas and General Robertson, and many of the other executives out there, who have been under fire a good many times. I have looked into the job in the few weeks I have been more closely associated with the administration, and if one has regard to the bombed conditions, the chaos and the difficulty of evolving order out of the whole thing, the removal of millions of displaced persons and transplanting them back to various countries, I think we may well be proud of the administrators that we found for this job.
I turn to Austria. It was my hope that in Moscow we should succeed in agreeing an Austrian Treaty. It would have been a big contribution to the return of normality in the Danube Basin and would have resulted in the withdrawal of troops from the whole of that area. Our failure to agree an Austrian Treaty arose from our inability to settle the question of German assets in Austria. This question has a long history. We agreed at Potsdam that no reparations should be extracted from Austria, but that German assets in Austria should be included as one of the sources from which German reparations were to be made, and for this purpose the U.S.S.R. renounced any claims to German assets in Western Austria and the Western Powers renounced any claims to German assets in Eastern Austria. Unfortunately, the Potsdam Agreement did not define what a German asset was. The action taken in Eastern Austria by the Soviet authorities since the Potsdam Agreement has shown that they interpret the term to cover everything which was nominally German, irrespective of how it was acquired. The House will appreciate that in a country like Austria, whose economy was integrated with that of Germany after 1938, and which was subject to the whole body of Nazi law directed against certain classes of German and Austrian nationals, such as the Jews, and against the rights and interests of the United Nations, it was essential to unravel many of the transactions by which property came into German hands before accepting the whole of it as being bona fide German property.
1739 In the Moscow declaration about Austria, the three Governments agreed that Austria, as the first free country to fall a victim to Hitlerite aggression, should be liberated from German domination, and the three Governments stated that they regarded the annexation imposed upon Austria by Germany as null and void, and considered themselves in no way bound by any changes effected in Austria since that date. I well remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) impressing upon the House what the agreement was when he came back, and we were happy to see that result, because of the difficult situation which the Anschluss had created. In my view, it would be wholly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of that declaration, to accept as valid all the transference of property which was made after 1938 by the Nazi laws and methods. It is our view that it is wholly inadmissible for us to recognise, and worse still to seek to profit from, Nazi misdeeds at the expense of innocent victims. We have tried with all kinds of formulas to settle this matter, but we have not succeeded. During the meeting of the deputies in London, however, we did suggest trying to settle it on a factual basis, and in the end everybody came back to that method, and a Commission with an expert committee has now been set up with a view to getting the facts and then reconciling the differences.
This problem of German assets shows what words mean in handling international affairs. In all the other treaties dealing with the question of the property of United Nations nationals we used the words "taken under force or duress," which is intended to deal, of course, with the indirect methods that may be adopted. In this case the Soviet Delegation wanted us to agree to "direct force." I think it is perfectly obvious that that is not exactly what it is sought to say, and we were unable to agree. However, I say no more about it now, because the Four-Power Commission are there, and will be starting their work. I am hoping that they will work very speedily because, while there are such matters as Yugoslavia's territorial and financial claims, the restoration of United Nations property, rights and interests in Austria, and the treatment of Austrian property in the territory of the United 1740 Nations, this is the essential thing, and if we can get this problem settled I think the others will fall into place. The thing I must emphasise before I pass from Austria is that it is no good restoring the independence of a country if at the same time a method is devised which puts a very large portion of its economy under indirect or direct influence from outside. Neither is it wise to have anything in the nature of giving to any property taken under those conditions special treatment outside the law of the country. We must adhere to that.
Just a word about our own relationships with the Soviet Union. I met Generalissimo Stalin and discussed with him the question of revising the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance of 1942. We agreed that we should get on with it. There have been four meetings already, and the matter is still under consideration. I am hoping that we shall be able to arrive at agreement on arrangements which will have to be built up in peacetime conditions, and not merely as a result of wartime needs. That would give it an element of permanence which would be very desirable. I want to point out that, in dealing with this Treaty, I have had in mind the obligations which would be imposed, and the need to relate them to the Four-Power Treaty to which I have referred, so that in the establishment of these links and relationships everything contributes to what will be in the end a complete organism. In the same interview I also dealt with the question of trade, and the results have been announced to the House.
There are other matters, but I do not think I will weary the House with them now, except to mention one item in relation to Poland which is of outstanding importance. I notice that in certain quarters it has been suggested that I have altered the policy of His Majesty's Government towards Poland. I have done nothing of the sort. In the Potsdam discussions I was given certain pledges which were not fulfilled, and great difficulties ensued. Now, as soon as I see that there is apparently a change of approach, I am willing to respond immediately under such circumstances. On 20th March, 1946, I stated in the House that, while we would not use force to compel the Poles to return to Poland, I nevertheless wanted them to go back. I have never disguised our firm conviction 1741 that all of them ought to go back; in that we have been perfectly consistent all the way through.
At present, co-operation between us and the Polish Government in connection with the return of the Poles is much better than it has ever been. I think there is an understanding in Poland even with regard to our intentions about the Polish Resettlement Corps, and the denunciations that went on about it have ceased. The Polish Government now see that we are trying to get a planned and organised method of dealing with a very vexed problem, and perhaps the House may be interested in what we have done with regard to repatriation from here. We have sent back from the United Kingdom to Poland over 66,000 Polish Servicemen. This does not include a considerable number of Poles who were repatriated direct from Italy and Germany. For instance, 12,280 servicemen went back to Poland direct from Italy. About 28,000 men in the United Kingdom are still awaiting repatriation, which we are speeding up. These people were held up because the Baltic was frozen, and because of the very bad weather. They are being sent back now at the rate of 15,000 a month, so that this back-log should be cleared before the end of June. In addition, since the end of March, just over 10,000 volunteers for repatriation have come forward. I think there is a better understanding of the genuineness of our motives and of our desire, not to desert the men who fought with us, but to get them to go back to their own country.
I am convinced now that I can say to the Poles with greater confidence, that they can return to Poland with a better feeling than they have hitherto thought possible. The trade, financial and other agreements which have been worked out and will be put into effect will, I believe, have a good effect on both our countries In addition, I have been in touch with all the other countries in Europe, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Balkans and I find a greater response towards us now than there has been since the close of the war. A more friendly feeling is beginning to develop, and if only we can get trade going, in coal and other things and get production in this country to help make our contribution to them, next year it will be a great advantage to us in our own economy in regard to food and in many other ways.
1742 Last of all, I want to make a reference to the very happy event that took place when I left this House to go to Moscow, and to the welcome which I received in France at Dunkirk on the occasion of the signature of the Treaty of Alliance between the United Kingdom and France. When M. Bidault and I met there, it was, I must confess, an emotional moment, full of the memories that Dunkirk has for all of us. In signing that Treaty we have confirmed that, while Germany may be down and out at the moment and is not a danger, we do not forget what France has suffered from Germany during the past years, and the natural feeling which exists there, "If Germany revives again, will she endanger France's security?"
It is the policy of His Majesty's Government to leave France in no doubt as to our attitude, and as anyone who reads this Treaty will see its purpose is to provide for mutual assistance in the event of any renewal of German aggression. It makes our position clear at the outset both to the French and to the Germans, in the hope that it will cause French confidence to grow and cause the new Germany to take the right course, and be under no misapprehension that she can break Treaties or ignore obligations with impunity. That is the spirit in which this Treaty was signed and I hope that future Governments will never falter or fail, nor leave France in the position she was in when Hitler entered the Rhineland and when the other events which led up to the war took place. This Treaty is intended to be a pledge on the part of the British people to stand with France for our mutual security and development, in the hope that together we can make a great contribution to the rebuilding of the world. Working together, in co-operation, we shall help all our other Allies, help towards European peace, help towards world peace, and be of benefit, I feel sure, to humanity for generations to come.
§ 5.10. p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I am sure that all of us are glad to welcome the Foreign Secretary back to another discussion upon international affairs. We were glad to hear from him that apparently he is none the worse for an experience which he described as tedious, but which others of us might describe by a slightly stronger epithet. 1743 The right hon. Gentleman has given a broad and judicial account of the proceedings through which he has worked, and I should like, at the outset, to associate myself, and my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the House, with his concluding observations about France. As we watch the disappointments which have occurred in international affairs at this time, we note that little attention seems to have been paid to the interesting progress in economic union which has been effected between Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg. There is, perhaps, in that movement the possibility of a further development which we should not altogether ignore. As the right hon. Gentleman spoke of France, it seemed to me that we could there visualise possibilities which would be advantageous to the nations of Western Europe, and also a contribution, in the wide sense, to the maintenance of peace.
It is now two months since we had our last Debate on foreign affairs. At that time, the treaties of peace with Italy and the satellite countries had just been signed, and the right hon. Gentleman was looking forward to the next step in the restoration of peace in Europe—the Moscow Conference. Business which lay before him and his colleagues included the conclusion of the treaty with Austria, the solution of the German problem—in particular, in its economic aspects—the revision of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty and the consideration of the American proposal for a Four-Power pact. That was the Moscow programme. The preparatory work had been done by the Foreign Ministers' deputies, and there was good ground to hope that agreement on the Austrian treaty at least would not be unduly difficult. These were the hopes, but by the end of April, it was clear to everybody that the Conference had failed. There is, unhappily, no escaping the fact that after seven weeks of sterile and tedious discussion no agreement has been reached on any one of the major points involved. I need not add that I am saying that in no spirit of criticism of the right hon. Gentleman, but because I think it is no use deluding ourselves that the position is better than it really is. While I endorse to the full, the right hon. Gentleman's determination to persevere, I cannot myself feel that it does any good 1744 to conceal either the reality or the gravity of the set-back which has occurred.
It is not enough to say that all the differences between the Powers have now been revealed. They were pretty well known before the Moscow Conference. I believe that the hope of success in future lies in not making too much of the very limited success that has been achieved, but in admitting, frankly that the Conference was a failure in trying to diagnose the causes of that failure and, above all, by taking, immediately, what steps we can to prevent any further deterioration of the situation. It is that sense of urgency which must surely be in all our minds today. Moscow brought no message of hope to a Europe which sorely needs such a message. The next six months may well be decisive, not only for the economic recovery of this country, but for Europe, and, particularly, for Germany.
I want to say a few words about Germany. It is clear that there is not going to be an agreed Allied solution of Germany's economic problems before this coming winter. About that, unhappily, I do not think there is any dispute. Therefore, it is essential that we and our American friends should take the necessary steps to restore the economic life of our two zones, in the closest possible contact with our French Allies. Of course, we would have much preferred to deal with these German issues with the Soviet Union, but I am bound to say, after such study as I have been able to make of the published documents, that I have no doubt that it is due to the obstinate and intransigent attitude of the Soviet Union that we have not got that agreement. I regret having to say that, but I think it is only fair, not only to the right hon. Gentleman but to our Allies, to give expression to what one believes to be the truth in these matters, which are so charged with fate for the future of mankind.
The most extraordinary thing in these discussions was the continued reiteration, day after day, by our Soviet Allies, of the need to uphold the Potsdam Agreement. That contention has been the cause of all sorts of pretexts, difficulties, and delays. But the fundamental basis of the Potsdam Agreement was that Germany should be treated as an economic whole. That is the Agreement. The Soviet Government itself has consistently and persistently made that 1745 impossible. How could anyone regard an attitude like that as other than unreasoning and unreasonable? The right hon. Gentleman said that the partial economic unity of Germany is quite unworkable.
In these circumstances, what must we do? I think the course is clear. During these summer months, we must ensure that there is maximum food production, and that its proper distribution is not interfered with by faulty administration of Government, or the selfish interests of individuals. The present crisis in our zone and the American zone in Germany appears to be due in part to the fact that the fusion we agreed upon last January has not become a reality until now. I accept it that this has not been because of any lack of good will on the part of the British and American authorities. I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman—what appeared to me if I understood him correctly to be a most important announcement—of the agreement between General Robertson and General Clay, which the two Governments concerned endorsed, and that now we can go ahead together in making that agreement of January a living and effective reality.
§ Mr. Bevin indicated assent.
§ Mr. Eden
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has indicated assent. That is the best news we have had yet for our zone, and for dealing with the troubled condition of Germany. I congratulate all those concerned on it. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has taken over the ultimate direction of affairs in Germany. I am not saying that to criticise anybody else, but it is with the Foreign Office that ultimate responsibility ought to lie. I emphasise the urgency of these problems. I think General Robertson said, at a Press conference a few days ago: "The longer these problems are left unsolved the more difficult it becomes to solve them." Let us ensure that these problems are not aggravated this winter, by failure to set up an efficient machine ourselves before the winter comes. I should like to see something of the spirit and machinery of S.H.A.E.F., as it used to be, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) knew it very well. That is what we must get back to. We would much prefer the other method, with our Soviet Allies as well, but we cannot allow the future of 1746 cur zone to be further jeopardized, in search of an agreement the failure to reach which, I must surely say, is the fault of the Soviet Union. We can only hope that our French friends will come in and co-operate on these new plans and these new arrangements.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two other questions about Germany? The first concerns the Saar. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is the position in respect to the Saar? Last autumn, if I remember rightly, he told us that the Government were prepared to accept the French proposal about the Saar, subject to necessary adjustments about the French reparations plan and to the delimitation of the exact area of the Saar. He also explained that he thought the matter should be settled quickly. I agree with him, but this, like other issues raised at Moscow, has not, I understand, been settled. I think that the French Government also now propose a very considerable addition to the Saar territory, as it has hitherto been known. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us about this? I, personally, agree with his statement of last October, but if the French Government really wish to extend the Saar frontier line far beyond the area of 1919 I must say that I would feel grave doubts about that. I think I know what the argument would be—about the gap North of the Saar, between the Saar and Luxemburg, and so on. But if, seriously, there is a proposal to add anything like 50 per cent. to the Saar territory, including considerable agricultural areas of which, we know only too well, Germany is already too short, then, I think, we have to be very cautious before we give our agreement. At any rate, I hope that if our French friends have any feeling about this they will not persist in asking for an extension of the Saar territory far beyond that territory as it was known after the last war. I should be grateful for information about that.
There is another matter which has a very close bearing on the economic and food position in the British and American zones, about which I would also like whoever is to reply for the Government to tell us something. What is now the real position regarding the Oder-Neisse line? Has there been any tacit if not written acceptance of the Russo-Polish interpretation that the line provisionally agreed upon by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary at Potsdam is now permanent? 1747 So far as I know, there has been none, but I ask the question because of the propaganda which is at present being made. The House will see the importance of this. Apart from the higher political implications, this matter is of practical importance to our authorities in the British zone, because, as I understand it, the Polish Government are planning to deport 400,000—or is it more?—of the remaining 580,000 Germans in the former German Eastern territories. They are to be deported to Germany proper, and a large proportion of them, as the right hon. Gentleman told us the other day in reply to a Question, are expected to be received into the British zone.
I trust, in view of the dangerous contribution that this would make to the existing appalling problem of overcrowding and underfeeding, that His Majesty's Government will strongly resist any such proposal. What would be the result of such an exodus? It would result, not only in the overcrowding of our zone, but in still further reducing the population in the food-producing areas of Germany—Germany's granary, which is already underworked and under-populated.
With regard to the American Secretary of State, Mr. Marshall—I find it difficult to refer to him as Mr. Marshall—I would join with the right hon. Gentleman in paying a tribute to him. I am sure that there is not an American who could have a wider measure of support in this country for the work which he is doing, and none with whom it would be a greater privilege to collaborate. He raised this issue at Moscow as a broad European interest, which it certainly is, and he pointed out that the area in prewar Germany, now under provisional Polish control, once contributed more than one-fifth of Germany's food supply. Mr. Marshall put forward a concrete proposal. He suggested that there should be a boundary commission to settle the Polish-German frontier, and to recommend arrangements to meet the needs, not only of Poland, but of Europe as a whole.
I am bound to say that, judged by any standard, this seems to me to be a very sensible suggestion. I was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman associated himself with it when he said he was anxious to see whether we could not put more agricultural areas inside Germany, 1748 as, otherwise, it would be impossible for her to have a balanced economy. I would, therefore, like to ask the Minister who is to reply whether, in view of the extreme urgency of increasing food production in Central Europe, the Government are taking any steps, first, to cry a halt to this proposed ejection of Germans from the Eastern territories, and, secondly, to urge the Polish Government to take all possible measures to increase agricultural production in that territory.
I would also like to ask whether, for example, this was one of the topics which the right hon. Gentleman discussed in the conversations which he told us he had with the Polish Prime Minister on his way back through Warsaw, and which led him to recommend that we should ratify the Anglo-Polish financial agreement. I hope that it was discussed, and that the right hon. Gentleman got some assurances on this point, as, otherwise, I am bound to say that it is difficult for me to understand why, after nearly a year, the Government suddenly decided to ratify an agreement which is extremely favourable to Poland—far mom favourable, I believe, than was our financial agreement with France last year—despite the fact that the provisions of the Yalta Agreement have never been fulfilled, as we unhappily know, and that free elections, as His Majesty's Government have pointed out, have not been held there either. If there were reassuring news to the House about the movement of these populations, and about agricultural production in that part of Germany, I should count that a great gain, but, without that, I am bound to say that I am perplexed as to why these generous terms should be given at this time.
I want to take a long view about another issue to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and which was one of the most disappointing features of the Moscow conversations. It was the failure to reach agreement over the American proposal for a Four Power Treaty of guarantee against German rearmament for a period of 40 years. I agree with everything which the right hon. Gentleman said about that. For any nation that feels apprehensive about the resurgence of German military power—and I myself can understand those apprehensions, and sympathise with them—it seems to me incomprehensible to repulse an offer of that kind, backed by the measureless powers 1749 and resources of the United States of America. What would we have felt after the last war had the United States been willing to assume obligations of that kind in 1919, or at any like period between the two wars? How immeasurably relieved and heartened we should have been. Might it not be true to say that, had America then been willing to do this, there might have been no war at all? I do not think that that is an exaggeration.
As I understand it, the American proposal outlined by Mr. Marshall in Moscow was just a simple, workmanlike agreement that the four Great Powers should act together if at any time during the next 40 years Germany was found to be rearming. It was warmly welcomed by His Majesty's Government and by France, but M. Molotov, while he did not reject the proposal, as the right hon. Gentleman explained, sought, apparently, to transform it into something like a general peace settlement, covering all sorts of questions such as the Ruhr, reparations, and the future of the German Constitution, and goodness knows what.
This pact was only meant to deal with one particular problem, but it is an aspect of the German problem which every Soviet statesman to whom I have spoken reiterates to me on every occasion—the risk which the Soviet Union still believes she has to face from a revival of German military power. It is not astonishing she should feel it. Those proposals could not be put in a treaty of peace without usurping the position of other treaty making Powers who have a right to play their part in the final peace settlement. I deplore the fact that there has been a deadlock on this issue. I understand, however, from what the right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon, that these American proposals are still open. I have always sympathised with that part of the Russian thesis which is based on the recollection of the sufferings and wide destruction which the German hordes had inflicted on their lands and cities. I would have thought that these guarantee proposals would have been welcomed by them, and I earnestly hope that, on further reflection, agreement will be reached.
I must say a word about Austria. That problem is only less important than the problem of Germany because of the relative sizes of the two countries, but disappointment at failure over the Austrian 1750 treaty is, in some respects, sharper, and I know the right hon. Gentleman will feel it so, for if the Austrian problem was smaller it was also far less difficult. Here again, the Soviet Government not only pressed to a deadlock their own highly questionable claims—I must call them that—to German assets in Eastern Austria, but they also supported the wholly unjustified Jugoslav claim to territory in Corinthia and Styria. Much progress was made by the deputies before this part of the discussion began, and in all lands, and, above all, in Austria itself, it was hoped that a successful solution would be reached. What happens now? The issue goes back to the deputies for further consideration, and I suppose that no final decision can possibly be reached before the Foreign Ministers meet again in November. That is deplorable.
Meanwhile, Austria has to continue to bear the burden of international occupation, with her small territory split up into different zones and her economic future still in doubt. Not only does this mean that British troops have to be tied down in Austria for a further period; it also means, as the House will recall, that as long as the occupation lasts, Soviet forces will be retained on the so-called lines of communication through Rumania and Hungary, even after the departure of the main occupation armies in these countries. The failure to reach agreement on the Austrian treaty is so difficult to explain in the light of progress which has already been made, that one is reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the Soviet Government, for reasons not connected with Austria, are anxious to postpone a settlement for as long as possible. I regret that fact, but I think it better to state it.
If the House will bear with me a little longer, I would like to make one or two comments on the Middle Eastern situation, which is also of consequence to us. I make no complaint that the right hon. Gentleman did not deal with it. He had a wide enough field to deal with, anyhow. Perhaps whoever is to reply will deal with this subject. I would like to pay a tribute to the services of Sir Hubert Huddleston, who has just retired from the Governor-Generalship of the Sudan which he has held for seven years. This country has cause to be grateful for his eminent services, especially during the war, when our military position in 1751 the Sudan was, to put it mildly, pretty precarious. The right hon. Gentleman may remember that at one time we had one brigade in the Sudan, with a few gallant but small in number Sudanese forces against about 200,000 Italians across the way in Ethiopia—an uncomfortable disproportion of forces. During that time, there is no doubt the Governor-General, owing to his own special position in the Sudan, rendered quite invaluable services, and in him the Sudanese have lost a true friend who has always worked for their interests and sympathised with their ambitions. It would also be appropriate to wish the new Governor-General success in the difficult task which lies ahead of him. I am sure he and the Government will have the full support of all parties in fulfilling our obligations in the Sudan which, as I have said before, and repeat now, are to ensure that the Sudanese shall have a free opportunity to express their own unfettered point of view as to their future destiny. It is to be hoped that there will be no vacillation in pursuing this objective, which is one dictated not by motives of self-interest but by conscience.
It is quite true there might be a temptation to get an agreement with Egypt, and even to get some material advantages for ourselves out of these negotiations with Egypt, in matters not only of defence but of war debts, by a policy of appeasement over the Sudan. Such a course might earn us temporary popularity in Egypt, but such a course must be, and I am sure will be, sternly resisted. Our engagements to the Sudanese are a matter of honour. They cannot be whittled down either for our own benefit or for the sake of achieving some other advantage for ourselves in Egypt. Egypt's interest in the Sudan is to some extent, a matter of prestige, but is far more concerned with the waters of the Nile. I know the Foreign Secretary on 27th January stated that he had offered the Egyptians every guarantee in this matter of the waters of the Nile and, with regard to the Nile Water Agreement of 1929, it should be possible to meet what they desire in that respect without in any way influencing unfairly the opportunities for the Sudanese to make their own decision about their future.
I would like to ask one other question about the Middle East. I noticed with 1752 some interest in the Press a little while ago that King Abdullah of Transjordan has issued a White Paper on postwar policy. It seems that our habits are becoming rather catching. In that White Paper he spoke, I think, of forwarding the establishment of a greater Syria, consisting of Transjordan, Syria and Palestine, within the framework of the Arab League. I would hesitate to ask the Government to lay other Governments' White Papers before us. We have quite enough of our own already. But, apart from the difficulty of obtaining copies of this document, I suppose it is presumably written in Arabic. In those circumstances, I would ask the Secretary of State whether, at some convenient time in the future, he would give the House a summary of this document—I think it may be of considerable interest—and, at the same time, when he has had an opportunity to study it, tell us what are the reactions of His Majesty's Government to it.
I would now like to say a few words on the subject, which I think is urgent, of the Italian Colonies. For a long time the deputies of the Council of Foreign Ministers have been considering the future of the former Italian Colonies, and I trust that at the end of the year for which a settlement was deferred there will be no further delay in reaching a decision. Apart from concern for our own interests, we have to think of those of the territories themselves, and we cannot expect a wise and enlightened administration when the future national life of the country concerned is unsettled. As things are, there cannot be any economic development. There cannot he any long-term preparation for the future. Therefore, the sooner we cease to mark time on these issues, the better. Since I have no responsibility like the right hon. Gentleman has, I will suggest one or two things that might be settled straight away.
At least Cyrenaica ought to present no particular problem. Here we are pledged—I gave the pledge myself—that in no circumstances shall the inhabitants of that country be returned to Italian rule. In view of the past, that is a pledge which I think the House will agree was deserved. I should have thought the correct course to pursue would be to hand the administration over to the Senussi who, under the guidance of Sayyid Idris, should be qualified to take it over. As to the ex-Italian territories on the Red Sea, we all recognise 1753 Abyssinia's claim to be compensated for the grievous wrongs inflicted on her in the Mussolini regime, and we understand her demand for access to the sea. At the same time, our desire to be generous ought not to blind us to the fact that ethnological considerations must be taken into account there, and to hand over peoples who do not wish to be under the Ethiopian flag would merely make more trouble for the future. I could speak for much longer, but I do not want to on this subject, because I know other hon. Members want to speak.
I should like to say a word or two about the Far East. Unhappily, the hopes that have been expressed in this House that the internal affairs of China would better themselves and become more stable, have so far proved vain. They are not events to which we ourselves can make any constructive contribution. I can only express the heartfelt wish that time will show an improvement, and that our long-standing friendship with China will he further strengthened. I content myself with referring briefly to one or two matters which intimately concern us. It is now nearly five months since our trade mission from this country returned from China. In the Debate on foreign affairs last February the Government said they were studying the report of the mission. However, it seems to me that they have had long enough to study that report, in five months, and I hope that it will be published before long. Although in the present economic conditions of China it is clear that it is difficult to reach trade agreements which can be of wide practical value, we really ought not to lag behind the United States in these matters, and the United States have already concluded a trade treaty with China.
The second matter I want to mention briefly is that of British-owned property in China, much of which is still being held by the Chinese, despite diplomatic representations and promises by high Chinese authorities. The House will remember that the United States and ourselves made some treaties with China in 1943, and we allowed the Chinese to take over control, or agreed that they should take over control, of the International Settlements at Shanghai, Amoy and elsewhere. Since the conclusion of hostilities the Chinese have enjoyed the full possession of all the assets of those important municipalities, but they 1754 have not yet, as far as I know, met any of the liabilities. The consequence is that not only have British bondholders remained without interest or capital repayment in respect of the loans which were raised by the municipalities, but a very large number of British ex-employees—particularly of the Shanghai Municipal Council—are, I am told, without pension, superannuation or any recompense for their loss of office, except in so far as the Foreign Office here have made advances. Many of these men, whose age and experience make it difficult for them to get new employment, and who have served those municipalities well in the years gone by, are now virtually destitute. I think steps should be taken to see that our legitimate claims in these matters are met at a reasonably early date.
One other question about the Far East. I should like to be told whether any progress has been made on the subject of the peace treaty with Japan which, according to the Government statement last February, was favoured by General MacArthur and Dr. Evatt. What, in that respect, is the position in the industrial sphere? We have had to admit the need for the revival of the Japanese textile industry, because if Japan's heavy industries, which formed the basis of her war-making capacity, are to be eliminated or reduced, her only hope of living at all is through her textile trade. The Americans talk quite frankly, I notice, of the need for building up the Japanese textile industry to a prewar standard and making it the mainstay of her postwar economy. This may imply Japanese domination of the textile markets throughout South-Eastern Asia. Nobody denies that Japan must live; but clearly the resuscitation of the Japanese textile trade to a prewar standard will be serious for Lancashire. We should, I think, feel less concerned about it if we were satisfied that at least decent rates of wages were paid and proper hours of work maintained in Japan. There, I think, the influence of the trade unions can do a great deal, and I am glad to see that there is to be a British trade union representative attached to General MacArthur's headquarters. Finally, on the Far East, could the right hon. Gentleman tell us something about the position in Indonesia? I understand agreement has been reached. We should also 1755 like to know how far these islands are recovering economically. I am told it is largely due to the deficiency of tea from the Dutch East Indies that there is the possibility of a world shortage of tea and increased prices.
Before concluding, I must put to the Foreign Minister certain questions which I put to the Minister of Defence the other night without getting, I thought, any satisfactory reply. Those questions are on the subject of our commitments. I ask the right hon. Gentleman: Where are we in respect of Government commitments overseas, and our power and determination to fulfil them? During the first national service Debate the Minister of Labour made the position very clear to us. He told us that it was impossible for him to agree to 12 months' service because of a lack of volunteers, and because of the extent of our commitments. Now, as the Foreign Secretary knows, the Minister of Defence suddenly astonished the House a day or two afterwards by agreeing to 12 months. I asked the Minister of Defence, therefore, during the Debate—the Foreign Secretary will find it in HANSARD—what had happened to our commitments which, on the showing of the Minister of Labour himself, could not be fulfilled without 18 months' service. I did not get any very clear reply. If what the Minister of Labour told us was true—and I have no doubt it was true—then the Government cannot fulfil, under the 12 months' plan, the commitments which they themselves intended to fulfil under their 18 months' plan. Is that correct? If that is correct, what are the commitments which they propose to allow to lapse? If it is not correct, how do they propose to bridge the gap which the Minister of Labour himself made plain could not be bridged? We shall be grateful for more enlightenment on those interesting topics.
Let me sum up. Our earnest desire is to continue the collaboration of the Great Powers, whose unity alone made victory possible. That is what we want; and about that there is no doubt. But at the same time, in respect of issues like Germany, where we have special responsibilities, if agreement cannot be reached with the Soviet Union, we must act without them. The cost of delay measured in human suffering has been heavy enough 1756 already. I read something which M. André Philip said the other cay at Geneva, which seemed to me to be very significant. He put the position of German economy as simply as this: Whether Germany is to remain an infectious ulcer in the centre of Europe or to be assisted towards progressive reconstruction in the interests of the rest of Europe. For a French statesman to put that as the issue is a remarkable step forward; and if our Russian friends would see the issue in the same light, then, indeed, agreement might be reached.
The other development of immense significance since our last foreign affairs Debate has been the development of American foreign policy, and the shouldering by that great nation of responsibilities commensurate with her power. Surely all of us must welcome that; at least, all of us who believe that we are now one world, and that our responsibilities towards the world are intermingled and unlimited. This policy spells the end of isolation—and is there anyone who is not fervently relieved to see such a development? As for the reactions of those events upon our other Allies, I submit to the House that it is a profound delusion to suppose that by getting further away from the United States one necessarily gets any closer to the Soviet Union.
The overwhelming majority of the people of this country continues to hope, and will continue to work, for the agreed solution of all these problems by all the Great Powers. The overwhelming majority of the people of this country desires collaboration with the Soviet Union. But that really cannot continue to be a one-way traffic. Therefore, the Government must take, with the United States and, if possible, with France, the decisions necessary for the life of Western Germany. There is no escaping those responsibilities. Let us trust that by firmness and decision in this course we shall all contribute to that true world unity which is the constant ideal of us all.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) into his rather fleeting visits—his almost jet propelled visits—to the Italian Colonies, Ethiopia, China and Indonesia. Nor do I care to 1757 follow him today into this question of what are our commitments, although this is a question that he and I must continue to press upon the Minister of Defence. I really do not know how our commitments abroad are to be met by conscription for 18 or for 12 months. I desired to know what happened at Moscow, and I should like straight away to pay a high tribute to the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary for his complete and wide survey of what took place there, and, still more, for his frank and open statement. It is to be noticed and remarked that, alone of all those taking part, thanks to our Constitution, and thanks to this great democratic institution, he, and he alone, is capable of giving a full, frank and free description to the people of his country of what took place.
I should like to pay a very sincere tribute to the Foreign Secretary for his great work. Whether we agree with his policy or not—and I should imagine that the vast majority of the people of this country do agree with his policy—we must express our admiration for his great courage in the manner in which he has undertaken his tremendous task. Be it remembered, too, that he has undertaken this task without a rest, and without at any time uttering one word of complaint. He began high office in one of the most difficult periods that this country has ever had to face—on 10th May, 1940, when he undertook the work of Minister of Labour and National Service, and was summoned into the War Cabinet. With but a few weeks' interval he was called to this still greater task of trying to settle the world's peace as the Foreign Secretary of this country. There is something about him that instils confidence in him—his character, his personality; and there is a kindliness about him; nevertheless, one feels a sort of safety with him. He reminds me more than anybody else of an old British oak firmly rooted in the ground, and it matters not what wind blows nor what criticism, he still survives and still persists in his way.
The tragedy of the present moment is that two years have elapsed since Germany unconditionally surrendered. Nevertheless, there is still no peace in the world. Peace has not yet been restored. Instead, there is at the present moment hunger, misery, hardship; and all that has resulted from the devastation of war. There is much worse than 1758 hunger and misery—a sort of feeling of hopelessness, bewilderment and hopelessness, on the Continent of Europe. Men and women, undoubtedly, want guidance and a steady form of government, and when they have them, then and then only, will they settle to work again to rebuild their factories and their homes, and to re-establish the mode of life of themselves and their families. Today, few problems can be dealt with in isolation, and even fewer, I think, can be dealt with strictly upon their merits. All are governed by the one great overriding factor, and that is the relationship between the three great Powers, the Soviet, the American and the British Governments. That is so whether the issues lie in Europe or whether they lie in the Far East. That relationship dominates every problem.
I do want to mention—it is a secondary problem, but it is one which has its effect—the development of nationalism everywhere. There are two kinds of nationalism, one good, one bad. The bad one breeds envy, jealousy, isolation, and, ultimately, may lead to war. The right one, the good one, instils in every person a pride in his own nation, in the mode of life of his own people, pride in the traditions and destiny of his people, and in the development of their arts and culture in their own way, and with one real desire—that his own people may add to the wealth of the world without envying anybody, or being jealous of any other nation. Undoubtedly, nationalism can have both economic and political effects upon other nations throughout the world. Speaking for myself and, I am sure, for most people, and certainly for all those associated with me here, I would say that what we desire to do is to remove all barriers, so that people may freely communicate with one another, intermingle with one another, converse openly with one another, and trade freely., so that the fruits of nature throughout the world, and the goods manufactured by men, may be available to all who need them; and in that way one can promote good will and understanding and betterment of life. I am sure that is not only the royal road but the only road to ultimate peace.
To return to the present position and the failure—for, undoubtedly, there has been failure, hitherto—in the Conference 1759 of the Great Powers at Moscow, I am sure the Foreign Secretary did everything he possibly could to get complete and mutual understanding. I want to emphasise that an agreement, merely for the sake of making an agreement, and to enable one to say, "Agreement has been made." is not worth the paper it is written on. It must be an agreement which will be accepted by every one party to it, with a strong desire by everyone who is a party to it to carry it out fully, openly, and with the best intentions for the good of all.
Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, I want to face up to our present difficulties. We all wonder why it is that the Russian Government refuse to collaborate in the economic and political settlement of Europe. It seems to be a persistent and obstinate refusal to co-operate. Why is there, all the time, this continuous abuse, this refusal to collaborate, even in international control of atomic energy? Why, all the time, is she saying "No" to any proposal brought forward? One hears various explanations. One of these is that there is great suspicion. There may have been grounds for it in the years gone by, when what I would call the great experiment in Russia was started. Some 30 years ago, and for a number of years afterwards, the Russian people, her Government and the experiment itself were all regarded as a sort of pariah by other Governments and peoples. But that is a long time ago, and since then we have fought side by side against a common aggressor, and we have suffered side by side. There is undoubtedly a real desire in all other countries to understand Russia's point of view and co-operate with her, and it is about time that that suspicion was removed.
Another explanation is that of fear. I do not believe for a moment that Russia desires war with anybody. I do not believe that, if she did desire war, she is in a position to wage it. I do not believe that she has any aggressive ideas with regard to anybody or anything. But it is equally true that we do not desire war, either, and it is still more clear that, if anybody in this country did desire war, it would be impossible for anyone to secure it. That is clear not only for ourselves, but also with regard to the United States. On no occasion has that great 1760 democratic country ever waged war except for defence, and it is absolutely unthinkable that there should be any threat of war either by this country and the British Commonwealth or by the United States, so that I cannot, for the life of me, see why there should be any cause or reason for Russian fear.
Thirdly, there is the economic position of Russia. Undoubtedly, her economic position today is weak, and that is using very moderate language. It is almost strangled. Russia has suffered more than any one of us, greatly as all the others have suffered. Her countryside has been ravaged, her towns destroyed, and not only by the enemy, but actually burned by the Russians themselves so that the enemy could gain no advantage from her. Her populations have been destroyed and millions of people have died. There was no country which had such a deep fund of sympathy extended to it at the end of the war and for some months before the end as Russia. Unfortunately, since 1945, somehow or other, she has managed to turn aside that deep sympathy which was felt for her here and in the United States, and that vast reservoir of good will and sympathy is, without a doubt, slowly drying up. I believe myself that, if Russia at the end of the war, and even in 1945 and early 1946, had appealed to the United States for economic assistance, it would have been readily given, for the people of America are a kindly people, and, in many ways, a soft-hearted people. Russia let her opportunity go by, and, undoubtedly the sympathetic feeling which there was towards her is nothing like what it was at the end of the war or even last year.
Russia has, to my mind, been wrong in her attitude to the United Nations organisation, wrong with regard to the Balkans, and, still more, wrong in her propaganda. Her propaganda has been bad, annoying, unworthy and not only untrue, but demonstrably untrue, and I am afraid that her diplomacy has largely been misled because her information is so bad and so unsound. I feel that her representatives, both in this country and with some other nations, obtain such information as they get through their few contacts, and that these are only contacts with those people whom they desire to know, and that they pass on such information as they get from these limited contacts. My fear is that they only send 1761 back to the Kremlin the kind of information which the Kremlin would like, whereas a Government should get the fullest information and not rely on getting merely the information which it would like to have. Very often, it is far away better for a Government to get the information which it would not like to hear. I am venturing to say that, because, undoubtedly, as the Conference in Moscow was progressing, there was a feeling expressed that the failure of the Conference would not lead to any reaction either here, in the United States or elsewhere, against Russia, but that it would be in favour of Russia, or against our Foreign Secretary and Mr. Marshall.
Russia is suffering, but, then, so are we all. There is, however, this difference—that we are not draining other countries so as to benefit ourselves. We have bled ourselves white in these two great wars, and we have contributed, and are still contributing, more than we can really afford towards the resuscitation of Europe, and I see no justification whatsoever for Russia draining off resources from Rumania, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans or Poland, as she is at the present moment. It seems to me that her Government are concerned solely with the welfare of Russia. One is not surprised at that, if one's ideas, and the whole of one's background, are based upon materialism. She has claimed 10 million dollars out of Germany and all the German assets out of Austria. She is claiming to rebuild herself out of those other countries. Mr. Vyshinsky, probably unintentionally, seemed to say why. Quite obviously, the real reason is to carry out to the full her five years' plan. Their whole reparations policy seems to be devoted to that end. What we would ask Russia to do is one of two things, or perhaps both: either to take less in reparations at the present moment, or to wait longer for her repayment, or to do both. What can we do? We cannot give her any financial help at present. We cannot help financially or materially. It may be that the United States of America can, and even now would, come to the assistance of Russia in her desire to rebuild herself, but that is a matter for the U.S.A. alone. That is how the position seems to me.
May I turn for a few moments to the question of Germany? I was delighted 1762 to hear the statement of the Foreign Minister today. We realise that his visit there made a difference. What we are all anxious to see is not only an improvement in the working of the joint zone, but a complete understanding throughout. Undoubtedly, great progress has been made during the last few months. I am sure of this, that what is wanted is what he himself mentioned earlier in his speech, and that is to get a higher level of industry for Germany. I am not sure but that Russia is willing. I believe that she is. May I join in what the Foreign Secretary said, and what the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said, with regard to this? We all know how much France has suffered from three aggressor wars in a period of 70 years. We are all anxious to see France restored to her great position, and we all acknowledge the deep debt of the world to her, politically and socially, for her literature and culture. We are anxious to see her restored and grow into the position in which she has no fear of any kind. One is proud of the fact that this agreement has been made and made on that historical spot of Dunkirk. I believe that every country is equally anxious that France should never again be allowed to suffer from any aggressor, and certainly not from Germany.
What is required is a larger measure of industry in Germany, which would bring a new hope into Central Europe. They are not only underfed there at the present time—and that is bad enough—but what is worse, they are again without hope. They need guidance and they need direction; they need an objective. I was delighted to hear the Foreign Secretary talk about the need for the economic unity of Germany. If she can once get that objective and that direction, then I believe that the men and women will go back to work, and do all that they can to bring back that proper standard of life which is necessary for them. In that way, will they not only build back their own position, but be in a better position to pay back the reparations that Russia and the others desire. It is in that way that one can work towards a successful atmosphere for the great conference in November. That is the vital conference. If it breaks down one hesitates to think what may be the future for anyone.
1763 Great advances have been made, without a doubt. The Foreign Secretary mentioned a great number of matters about which agreement had been made, or nearly made, or which could be made, if they went only a little bit further. I am quite certain that the rock upon which agreement has hitherto broken is the rock of reparations. Because Russia has suffered so much, and is so anxious to get herself restored, that looms more in her mind than almost anything else. Therefore, I would conclude by saying this: What one is anxious about is that there should be better information, better communication, and the removal of those barriers which prevent us from getting together. Let there be easier methods of our going to see one another; better intermingling, which will lead to a better understanding. Let us ask that the iron curtain which not only blots away our view of Russia but blots out Russia from all true information of the world be removed, and, at the same time, let there be removed the barriers which exist in other countries as well.
Those of us who had the honour and privilege this afternoon of listening to the very remarkable speech of His Majesty the King will never forget it, because there was in that speech not only expressed a great feeling of toleration and understanding, and a desire for better working among the peoples of the world, but above everything else a sense of the duty of every man to try to work for the general peace of the world. That is the only way we can get a better understanding with one another and obtain the peace which we all desire.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Dr. Stephen Taylor (Barnet)
I am sure that the whole House will agree that the Foreign Secretary has shown himself to be a monument of persistence and determination in the way he has endeavoured to get something out of this Conference. I am sure that he has done as much as any human being could do, and yet, hanging over the account which he gave to the House of the Conference, was a big question mark, which the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) rewrote, "Why is it that the Russian Government is so persistently difficult and has shown such a strange perversity in negotiations throughout the whole period 1764 since the end of the war?" It is to that subject that I propose to devote myself this afternoon.
It is not easy to stand aside from the present and try to see immediate events as transient items in the conveyor belt of history, but if we are to understand the present, I think that that is what we have to do. Foreign policy is the result of many forces—economic, social and historical. If I pick out one such force—the force of the human mind itself—it is not because I underestimate the others, but because it is through the minds of men that the others find expression.
There are many people who hold that the postulate of racial character is both false and dangerous. If by that they mean that human beings the world over have much in common both in body and in mind, then, of course, they are right. But if they mean that it is impossible to pick out patterns of thought and behaviour which are commoner in certain groups than in others, then in the universal experience of all who leave their homeland, or even their homes, that is false.
In our dealings with others, whether as our Allies or antagonists, we are the more likely to succeed the more we know of the way their minds work. This knowledge lies ready for the gathering, not in Blue Books or White Papers but in the literature, particularly the great imaginative literature of the world. Just as we reveal ourselves in the pages of Dickens, Bunyan and Shakespeare, so the Russians reveal themselves in Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Tolstoi. What do they reveal? First, a tendency to see current events or crises as relatively unimportant interludes on a vast canvas of time and space. Tragedy inevitably succeeds tragedy on the long road to a perhaps moderately happy ending. As Tolstoi says,Events take their own path whether generals, kings, or other illustrious folk like it or not. And where those events appear to spring from their own actions, this is not really so. The actions are in truth just a part of the events. Of course, every event is caused by some kind of power. But this power is still a mystery to us.It is on this ground of gloomy determinism that the experiences of the Communist Revolution have been grafted. Such an attitude to life keys perfectly with the Marxist conception of history. Dialetical materialism provides 1765 an answer to Tolstoi's mystery of the power behind events. All that has happened to Russia since her revolution has strengthened their case for accepting the belief that Marx's interpretation of history was correct. I am satisfied that the small group of people responsible for Russian foreign policy are working on a theory of history which, because it has proved true for them, they assume has universal validity. They assume that capitalism is violently self-destructive, but that before the final death agony is reached it will attempt to export its failure by aggressive action. The practitioners of capitalism are neither more nor less wicked than other men, but they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.
The Russians are not deeply impressed by British capitalism or what remains of it, but they are immensely impressed by United States capitalism. They believe with absolute certainty that U.S. capitalism is doomed, and they are no less certain its death agonies will involve the rest of the world, especially themselves. They profoundly deplore this conclusion, but they neither question it nor shrink from it. As a corollary they regard the United Nations organisation as doomed to fail, but they are ready to use it in every way to protect themselves and delay the clash. Since they hold that the next war will end in the rising of the American people to proclaim the United Socialist States of America, they plan for a long-drawn-out defensive war. They have only to hang on long enough and the Marxist hypothesis will do the rest. At the same time, they have to delay the conflict to the last possible moment on account of their own postwar weakness, the unilateral distribution of atomic power, and the belief that capitalist democracies rapidly run down their military strength in time of nominal peace.
Their policy aims are three. The first is that wherever possible they will isolate themselves geographically from attack so as to minimise the battlefields on which the delaying war must be fought. The second is to strengthen themselves economically while, if possible, weakening their potential enemies. The third is to avoid provoking armed conflict till the last possible moment. Granted these beliefs, every Russian action in the sphere of foreign policy is entirely logical and entirely reasonable. When our aims coincide with their needs as they see them, they will 1766 agree; when they do not, they will be completely non-conciliatory, unless pushed to a point where there is danger of an armed clash.
It is just possible the Russians may be right in their analysis. If so, the path we poor humans have to tread is indeed a hard one. It is, however, more likely that they have got hold of two-thirds of the truth and are assuming it to be the whole truth. I believe they are right in assuming that a capitalist world economy is certain to lead to war, but they are wrong in assuming that a capitalist economy cannot change to a Socialist economy without violence. Our part in the task is, first, to demonstrate practically that such a transition is possible; and, secondly, to make sure that those in whose hands lies the fate of both Russia and the United States know what we have achieved. The concentration of power in a few hands in Russia should greatly simplify our task there. If the propaganda ingenuity which we displayed during the war against Germany cannot do the job that is entirely our own fault.
The propaganda directive is an extremely simple one—that democratic Socialism can be made to work. I think there is evidence that the rulers of Russia are already beginning to have second thoughts about Labour Britain. My guess is that two years ago they were 100 per cent. certain we should fail and revert to capitalism, and in consequence join the United States in the final conflict. Now they think there is a 30 per cent. chance we may succeed in our plans for evolutionary Socialism. And if we do, of course, they are bound to have their first doubt about the truth of their major hypothesis. But if we falter or fail then their hypothesis is once more proved correct, and the world will indeed be heading for atomic war.
It is across the Atlantic that our task is hardest, and there is, I am afraid, little that we can do about it. The United States have been good friends to us in the past. In spite of a lot of anti-British steam being blown off, their machinery is still turned to help us. But unless they can become the world's economic Good Neighbours, they will certainly explode in aggressive action sooner or later. Our job is to delay that explosion while we give the forces of history a chance to work. I do not think the scene is by any 1767 means hopeless. It will not be by our precept and example alone that they will learn, for when it comes to altering their whole way of life, human beings and societies only learn by experience. Our people in Britain only learned the necessity for both Socialism and economic planning in 20 hard years of peace and six years of war, and judging by their Industrial Charter hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have even begun to learn. The Americans nearly learned after their last slump. The lessons President Roosevelt had to teach were pretty tough and they did not like them. So history decrees that they must have one more lesson and one more chance.
An American slump may be pretty unpleasant for us; it will certainly be very unpleasant for them; but it will be a great educator. Many of us who heard Mr. Henry Wallace on his recent visit here were a bit disappointed. People felt, I think, that he lacked fluidity and that he lacked a clear-cut expression. I must confess I was not at all disappointed. I think he is one of those people who are of a very well recognised type, with high intelligence and low verbal dexterity. Those people do not, perhaps, often emerge in Parliament, but they are very good people in a crisis. By British political standards he seemed very inarticulate, and he did not preach a clearcut Socialist doctrine. He would have been very foolish if he had, because when the Americans have their planned economy they will not call it Socialism. They will call it a second New Deal, and it will be a pragmatic, utilitarian, streamlined and efficient affair. Even when it is settled on its feet—as I am sure it will be—it will be some time before the gentlemen in the Kremlin recognise that they are wrong, but only when this happens will they and the rest of the world be able to sleep at nights with easy heads.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Woodburn)
May not the Americans call it "Liberal-Unionism"?
§ Dr. Taylor
They may well call it Liberal-Unionism, but in any case it will certainly take the Russians some time to realise that a change has taken place. When it has, the world will settle down, and then—and only then—the human race can begin to realise its full flowering.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Barnet (Dr. Stephen Taylor) will excuse me if I do not follow him in his discussion either of the explanation of the present foreign policy of Russia or even of the policy which has recently been put forward by my party in regard to industry in this country. The Foreign Secretary had the sympathy and support of all sections of this country in the long, patient and persistent efforts which he made in Moscow to obtain for the settlement of the peace with Germany something of that unity and concord between the Great Powers which resulted in the war being won. I am bound to say that I regretted the lack of any apparent sense of urgency in the right hon. Gentleman's speech today about the present economic conditions of Europe. The fact that the discussions between the Foreign Ministers have now been adjourned for six months until November, when the next winter will be coming on, surely raises the grave question as to whether Europe will have taken those steps that are necessary in order to prevent a general collapse when winter comes.
There was one sentence in his speech which I thought was far and away the most important. He said, if I noted down his words correctly, that all our efforts are now thrown into the reconstruction of our zone in Germany. If that was indeed what the Foreign Secretary intended to say, I most sincerely welcome the change in the policy of His Majesty's Government in having departed from what was laid down in the Potsdam Agreement about demilitarisation and de-Nazification and the whole of that negative policy, and the fact that at last the right hon. Gentleman and His Majesty's Government realise that upon the immediate and vigorous economic reconstruction of Germany depends not only the survival of the German people but, as I believe, that of the greater part of Europe also. I welcome what he said and hope that the Minister who replies tonight will make it plain that there really has been this change, in at any rate the priorities, of the policy of His Majesty's Government which I thought I gathered from that one sentence in the Foreign Secretary's speech.
1769 I feel that in the first place we have a very special responsibility for the British zone. We have taken it under our administration, and it is intolerable that now that the war is over people under our administration should be suffering the appalling hardships which are being experienced in Germany today. Even more important than ending the hardships of the German people is the fact that upon the revival of German industry depends also the revival of many of the countries of Europe, especially those lying to the east and south-east of Germany. When I was in Bulgaria three weeks ago I saw large quantities of rolling stock which was either out of use or was certainly going to break down in the next few months. I made inquiries and I found that so far as concerned motor transport they are still depending on the accumulated stocks of spare parts that they obtained from Germany in the good days when the war was still being fought. There are no more spare parts coming from Germany. Whatever may happen in the case of agriculture, whether the crops be good or bad—and they are threatened with a second failure of the harvest—the situation of Bulgaria as, indeed, of other neighbouring countries, must be extremely serious if transport is not improved. As things are there is every indication that it will deteriorate.
It was because I believe that the reconstruction of Germany is of such vital importance that I was sorry to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he desired to see Potsdam applied. I believe that if Potsdam were applied—and when I say Potsdam I include the Level of Industry Plan of March, 1946, that followed upon it—that would make a revival impossible. I recognise, of course, that the present disastrous state of Germany is not due to the full application of Potsdam but to its partial application. But I believe that we have to go much further than merely applying Potsdam as a whole. The whole policy has to be revised. In my submission it is during this summer that certain steps must be taken in order to bring about this revival. The first thing, as have indicated, is to revise the level of industry plan, and I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say that the figure of 11 million tons of steel production per annum which the British Government have always stood for has now been accepted by America, and that there is 1770 some likelihood that Russia will also accept it.
The present position, however, is not due to the Level of Industry Plan. Production in Germany at the present time is far below that envisaged in the plan, and if we are to bring about any substantial improvement something needs to be done in order to give to the Germans the incentive to increase their output. We can hardly expect the German miners, for example, to work harder and to increase production of coal if the bulk of that coal is to be exported from the British zone either to foreign countries or to other parts of Germany. It follows from my two previous points that the reparations deliveries for the future must be limited. I hope that the Government will explain tonight exactly what is the position with regard to earmarking of factories in the British zone for removal to other countries as reparations.
Reparations can be of three kinds. First of all there can be the dismantling and export of plants which are suitable only for war purposes, if they are suitable only for that purpose, I do not mind very much if they are dismantled. In the second place, there are those factories in Germany which have been dismantled in the recent past, because they would have resulted in production in excess of the level permitted under the Level of Industry Plan, 1946. Since the Foreign Secretary has indicated today that there is to be a revision of that Level of Industry Plan, surely it is necessary to make it quite plain to the Germans at once that as this is to be done, there will be no further question of earmarking for delivery as reparations, of factories which are at present in use. When I was in Germany in December, responsible British officials there emphasised that there was little incentive to the Germans to increase their production, when they never knew at what time some representative of the occupying Power would come down and point out a factory which had, with immense difficulty and labour, been brought back into production, and say that it was to be taken away for reparations.
In the third place there is this matter of current production. I was glad to hear what the Foreign Secretary said about that today. Such reparations as Germany paid after the four years' war amounted 1771 to less than what was lent to Germany by America and Britain. If there is to be any payment of reparations out of current production, it will only mean reparations being paid by one Ally to another. I do not see how we can expect the Germans to make the effort, which the Foreign Secretary asks them to make, in trying to increase their production, unless they are to be able to keep enough of their production to maintain themselves at a tolerable standard of living. I hope there will be no departure from the attitude the Foreign Secretary took up at Moscow, and that we shall be told in the course of this Debate what is the administrative policy to be adopted now in the British zone, to take off the backs of the Germans this appalling burden of reparations, with all the uncertainty it carries with it.
If there is to be a substantial economic recovery in Europe, and especially in Germany, there will be need of aid from the United States. That aid will have to take two forms. Firstly, the United States are the only country which is able to give the financial assistance required for the purchase of food, raw materials and so on. Secondly—and this is a slightly different point—she is the only country with the economic resources to produce the machines and equipment urgently required to enable German industry again to get going. I hope that in all these discussions which are taking place, there will be the very closest cooperation between the United States and ourselves.
I am sure the House heard with great satisfaction the Foreign Secretary say—I think he said it in so many words—that the agreement we have read about between General Robertson and General Clay has, in principle, the approval and support of His Majesty's Government. We all hope, of course, that the time may come when France and Russia will be willing to bring their zones into the economic unit now composed of the British and American zones, but during these months which lie immediately ahead, there must be no more delay and no more waiting for those who have had every opportunity to come in, but have declined to do so. I feel that this is a matter of the most extreme urgency, and that it is essential before the next winter comes that the European 1772 economic system shall once more be on the upward grade. When I was in the Balkans a fortnight ago, I felt more convinced than ever before that unless Germany could once more revive as an economic unit, the recovery of the whole of Europe was extremely doubtful. I hope, therefore, that during the months which lie ahead, there will be no waiting for the London Conference, but that the failure of the Moscow Conference to bring about an economic understanding will be taken as a starting point for a new and vigorous policy by His Majesty's Government, in harmony with the United States, to do what is necessary for the reconstruction of those parts of Germany for which we are responsible.
§ 6.7;48 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)
I hope that the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) will forgive me if I leave the important matters has been discussing and turn to a rather different subject. I listened with great interest to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Barnet (Dr. Taylor) on the very important question of the general movement of our foreign policy. I am an unrepentant and whole-hearted supporter of the Foreign Secretary. He has rendered immeasurable service during the past few years to this country and to the world, but I think the time is now upon us when we shall have to contemplate a new departure in our foreign policy. We have now had two years' experience of the United Nations, and I do not think anyone can claim that it has shown either the substance or the promise of security for the peoples of the world, for which it was primarily intended, or has even shown any faint hopes of establishing a full standard of living for the distressed millions of human beings who look to it for succour.
This is a single coin with two facets—economic and political. For obvious and well-known reasons, the two great Powers of the world are unwilling to face up to this problem. To every other country, including ourselves, it is a matter of vital consequence, and we can no longer allow the present position to continue.
As I see it, the supreme question in world affairs for us is: what are we going to do about this? What form ought our action or intervention to take, and when ought it to be taken? I have no doubt that the time is approaching when 1773 we shall be almost compelled to take some action and that for my part I believe that we should insist—as far as we can insist—upon the reform of the Charter and of the United Nations organisation, I do not think this matter can be developed fully in a back bench speech but it is clear to me that there will have to be a drastic change in the veto, the unanimity rule, the composition and powers of the Security Council, and the powers of the Military Staffs Committee. All these things are matters of primary importance which will have to be dealt with. The economic side also will have to be tackled afresh.
The question is, when is the right moment for action? I say the psychological moment is now very near, and for this reason: we have had two years' experience of the United Nations organisation, of its weaknesses and its strength. From the information I have received there is no doubt that a new armaments race is commencing. If that is true, it will develop very powerfully in the next few years. I should say, roughly speaking, from the experience of history, that we have two or three years in which to manoeuvre and take action. I do not believe that we have longer because, at the end of that time, the world situation—if I am not mistaken—will be so delicate that no Government and no Foreign Minister will wish to take any drastic action to disturb it. That has been the position whenever any great war has threatened in the past, and I have no doubt that it will be the position again. Therefore, unless we take action soon, the critical moment will escape us. For that reason, I believe that this is the right time for making an approach to this difficult subject, and it is in order to raise the matter that I have ventured to try to catch your eye, Sir. Let us consider what are the alternatives for this action. We are bound to consider them. There will be many people who will say that any action of this sort is too drastic, and that it is sure to end in failure. I for my part am under no exaggerated impression of what will be the consequence of any action taken by His Majesty's Government or any other Government in this field. I am certain that great patience will be needed, and that serious reverses will be experienced. All I claim is that the Government which takes this action will create a new situation in the international field which will enable the whole world to take 1774 a fresh departure, and that until such a new situation is created, we shall find ourselves continually marking time in a cul-de-sac.
What then are the alternatives? There are three principal ones and they all involve going on very much as we are today. The first would involve our entering into the Russian camp. I do not think there are many hon. Members in this House, or any considerable body of people in this country, who would advocate that. At the same time, there are distinguished hon. Members who, I know, wish for something of that sort, and I think we have to consider what it would involve. We should be compelled to agree to the gradual Sovietisation of the whole of Europe and, ultimately, of ourselves; we should be faced with a split between ourselves and our fellow members of the British Commonwealth, a split with the United States of America, and we should undoubtedly have to face sooner or later, directly or indirectly, a serious extension of the austerity that is at present bearing upon us all so severely.
The second alternative is that we should associate ourselves with the Americans. I do not rule out that; in the last resort, that may be the right or inevitable action for us to take, but I think it would result at the present time in a very serious conflict of opinion in this country. It would be a vast disappointment to nearly every hon. Member on this side of the House who has hoped for better things and for greater co-operation with the Russian people, and I think it would perhaps immeasurably embitter the world situation at the present time, undoubtedly cleaving Europe in two.
There is a third and much more subtle and interesting policy which does not involve any drastic departure from our present situation. It has been advocated by some of my hon. Friends and is much in vogue at the present time. This policy is one of endeavouring to maintain an equipoise between the American group, on the one hand, and the Russian on the other. Because it is so much in the public mind at the present moment, I would ask the House to bear with me while I consider that briefly. It seems to me indisputable that, as this situation develops of a clash between two great military and economic Powers in the world, it will become less and less likely that they will 1775 tolerate for long any strong Power, less strong perhaps than themselves but still able to exert a formidable influence upon events, standing uncommitted in the wings. Blandishments, briberies and every sort of pressure will progressively be put upon us from one side or the other. There is a group of hon. Members in this House representing an important and influential body of opinion in the country who think that we should stand aside for profound religious reasons. I greatly respect them and I believe they may indeed be right. But there is another group of opinion that does not take that view; it accepts the necessity for armaments, and that we should have regard to our security, our lines of communication, and so on, but believes at the same time, that we should remain uncommitted. That seems to me a quite untenable position. It would result in the fact that at a critical moment we would either be without allies at all, or with allies so inadequate as to be of little avail.
It has been widely canvassed that we should have some sort of European association. There was a meeting yesterday attended by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), advocating something of that sort. There are other hon. Members who believe in something called the Western bloc. All these ideas seem to me to be entirely illusory. The fact is that as long as Russia refuses to allow a large part of Europe to enter on a concord of that sort, such a concord is absolutely in vain. As for the Western bloc, who can suppose that in a comparatively short time, by 20 or 30 years, nations so dissimilar in history, religion, language and outlook can be formed into a sufficiently coherent association really to resist the pressure that will be put upon them by the great Powers? I do not believe it for a moment. I do not believe it is practicable. What I do believe will happen is this. Pressure will be put upon one member, let us say Sweden, to take some particular action, and she will look for support not to Holland, Belgium, or Luxemburg, but to these Islands, and our commitments will be increased. We should be without effective. Allies, with increased commitments, and possibly in a desperate economic position.
Again there is another point. Our own economic troubles at the moment are 1776 sufficiently great, and it seems to me imperative that we should take them into account. If my constituency is any evidence on the subject, the country is sick of our present experience, sick and tired of austerity. No blame attaches to His Majesty's Government for this; it is the inevitable aftermath of war. But we have to face the fact that we cannot escape from that without entering into some economic accord with another Power, and as long as we are in a warmaking world in which the United Nations organisation is not effective, any economic accord we make will have its political aspects, and political conditions will sooner or later be superimposed upon it. I should like to see us superimposing our conditions on any economic accord we make. It will inevitably have a political aspect, and we should try to make it as useful a contribution to the solution of world problems as possible.
There is another aspect. We are members of the British Commonwealth and though I do not believe we need necessarily assume that there might not be conditions under which we might break our associations with it, I am shocked at the levity with which some hon. Members who have advocated this policy of non-commitment have regarded our Commonwealth associations, because there is no question that our fellow members of the Commonwealth as a whole are deeply committed, in the event of a warmaking trend, in world affairs, to the American camp. Any break-up of the Commonwealth would cause a great cleavage of opinion in this country, and have immeasurable effects on foreign policy, not only here but throughout the English-speaking world and on all our hopes of peace. That has to be taken into account.
Lastly, people here will, as the world moves in the direction of war, become anxious and concerned as to where this policy is leading us. We shall have to satisfy those anxieties, and see that food is stored in this country against an emergency, and that a great system of underground refuges is provided. All that will stimulate public anxiety and apprehension, and we shall be very fortunate in those circumstances if we escape a serious internal crisis. I do not think it would be exaggerating to say that it might even bring us perilously near to civil war. The civilisation of the world has fallen fast 1777 and far in the last 40 years, despite great progress in certain directions. We are today on the edge of a precipice, to the bottom of which no man can see. I think they do well who remind us of those civilisations which already lie beneath the seas and the sands. It does seem sometimes as if the world might shortly experience the reality of Prospero's vision:… These our actors,As I foretold you, were all spirits, andAre melted into air, into thin air;And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,The solemn temples, the great globe itself,Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,Leave not a rack behind.If that should be the consequence of the Divine plan millions would meet it with confidence and faith. If it should result, as some may think, from the blind operation of the forces of nature, millions would meet it with fortitude, but that it should follow from the failure of man to sustain the levels to which he has climbed, from the breakdown of the human mind, from despair in the soul, from corruption of statesmanship—that would be a tragedy beyond computation, and almost beyond belief. It is to avert that tragedy, that I would plead with His Majesty's Government this afternoon. I have no doubt that if they will now give a lead to the world they will earn the gratitude of mankind in the far future, and in the present they may count on the support of the vast mass of the people of these Islands to the uttermost, and to the last.
§ 7.9 P.m.
§ Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
We have just listened to a very thoughtful speech. The hon. Member was certainly not unduly optimistic, but I, for one, was very glad he should so emphasise the extreme gravity of the present situation. The Foreign Secretary said that not Germany alone, but the whole world, was short of food at the present time. However that may be, there is certainly a shortage in this country and, indeed, it would be monstrous if our people who had war made upon them, should have to suffer anything comparable in sacrifice to what will be the fate of those who made war. But, I would like to stress a little more than I thought the Foreign Secretary did, the extreme difference in magnitude between the sufferings in this country, and 1778 those in Germany. Only today a friend sent me a letter received a few days ago from a Quaker worker in a team helping refugees. I would like to quote one short sentence, because I think perhaps its moderation makes it the more telling:We are living at present on a daily diet of 700 calories consisting of bread and potatoes, but the bread is short "—There is no exaggeration there—with the result that we have had none for two days, and the new ration card is not available until Monday. If only we were given the possibility to work and export, we need not be a burden on the British taxpayers.It is only just a year ago that the Combined Nutrition Committee made their report in which they said we are… facing a nutritional disaster, the magnitude of which and consequences of which the Committee fears may seriously retard the recovery of Western Europe and probably disturb its political development.That was a year ago. I believe that we are now on the verge of tragedy. These people have been living for a long time now with little food and no hope. That is no foundation upon which to build a democracy, which is so vital to Western civilisation.
At this alarmingly late hour the Government have decided on a change in Ministerial responsibility. The new Chancellor of the Duchy comes to his extremely important job with great energy and great talents. I can perhaps claim to have know him longer than any of his Socialist colleagues, or perhaps anybody in the House today. When I first knew him he was of a different size and shape to what he is today. There was then no unwisdom in his political views, but even in those days he was noted for two qualities—courage and independence. I believe that he has got those qualities today, and indeed he will need them if he is to make a success of this job, the difficulties of which are only exceeded by its importance. In those days, I used sometimes to be able, when was 12 and he was 10, to force my will upon him. Now, from a humble quarter of the House, I can only diffidently express my views, and hope that perhaps he may find time to skim through HANSARD tomorrow.
I would like to say to him two things. I believe that whether he can make a success of this job depends on two things. First, he should institute a most searching inquiry as to how the failure has come about. I was very glad to hear 1779 my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) with his great wisdom and experience, emphasise that very point; the great need to diagnose why we are in this state. I hope that the Government will not be too frightened of admitting failure. To fail sometimes is inevitable. Governments, perhaps as good as they, have failed in the past, but if they are complacent, and say that this disastrous state of affairs has come about through no fault of theirs, and indeed is unavoidable, then I shall be in despair. I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy will make the most searching inquiry as to how we have got into the appalling position in which we now are in regard to people who are our responsibility.
I wish to take up a point about food. I have no doubt that if strenuous steps had been taken far more food could have been obtained for Germany. There could have been fish from this country and Scandinavia and vegetables from Holland. I believe that they were held up through red tape and inability to improvise. I believe that industrial conditions in Germany today are quite appalling. It is as though a quarter of our workers were unemployed, and we are keeping them in that condition. In 1931 we faced a crisis in this country. We were then unable to absorb all the goods that there were or to use all the workers who were available. We had unemployment and poverty. I believe that today in this country we are facing the prospect of far greater unemployment, far greater poverty through the very reverse reasons—because we have not enough men or men in the right place, and because we have not got enough raw materials. Under those conditions it seems to me a monstrous thing that in Germany we should not be making use of every able-bodied German, but that on the contrary we should be keeping them idle and pouring our precious goods into their country. That seems to me to be a reversal of what we should be doing Germany should be an investment; it is a hideous liability.
In the short time at my disposal I cannot possibly give an outline even of the causes of failure, but I will give just the headlines. I suggest four. First, I believe that the arrangements by which the decisions of the four occupying Powers are arrived at are thoroughly 1780 unsatisfactory. I believe that the quadripartite machinery is clumsy and badly used. Second, I believe that there has been confusion between Norfolk House and the Foreign Office, between London and Berlin and between Berlin and the zones. Third, that there has been confusion between those who have been trying to rehabilitate the industry of Germany and those who, for security reasons, have been trying to pull German industry down. I would quote Mr. Gollancz, whom we do not claim as a Tory, and who I believe announced again last night that he was a Socialist. He says:If we now choose the path of destruction rather than of reconstruction: if we fill the German people with despair rather than with hope: if we make them hate and despise us, when they were ready for emotions of a very different kind—then the Nazis, in spite of everything, have won, and tomorrow's world will be of their pattern and not of ours.Wars are made by guns but it is the minds of men that make the guns. The Germans are very far from making war now, but after all it is the minds of people that matter in the long run. We are creating a condition which would inevitably bring about war. We must try to make a Germany fat but impotent.
Fourth, I believe the Potsdam agreements, however much better they would have been if they had been fully implemented, are quite monstrous in the way they have been carried out. I believe that they prevent any rational action from taking place. Surely, nearly two years after the Potsdam Agreement it is time we faced this fact. However bad a divided Europe may be it is infinitely better than a ruined Europe, and the sands of time are running out. I would suggest as essential remedies that we must first get industry going, give industry some assurance that it has a period in which it can work. What factory is there now but which knows that at any time it may be taken over or stopped from functioning? We must make drastic alterations in the taxation system, which is pre-Gladstone. There is no inducement to any industrialist now to make profits. It pays him better to hoard his raw material. What is worse, there is no inducement whatever to the worker. I believe it would take six weeks' work to make enough money to buy one pound of butter on the black market, whereas if the worker spent his time idling in the market, selling his curtains or carpets, he might make 1781 enough in the one day to buy himself a good deal. I believe it is absolutely vital to give an incentive to industrialists and workers to get on with the job.
I believe there should be at once a drastic currency reform, so that those who do earn money can have a fair chance of getting what goods are available. I would beg the Chancellor of the Duchy to make the most searching inquiries about how these most disastrous failures have taken place. I also ask him to go to America. As has already been said, it is only America which can quickly produce the goods which will remedy the situation. When I was in America a few weeks ago I was immensely struck by the sympathy of the American people for this country, and by their determination to do everything in their power to preserve Western civilisation. But I was not conscious of their realisation of how crucial the position was in Germany.
I believe that the Chancellor of the Duchy—and few people would be more convincing—should go to America to explain how absolutely vital it was to avoid this crisis in Germany, and to get through next winter without disaster. They should be told that if they are intent—as they are on preserving Europe, then a small sacrifice now would save their own taxpayers a great deal in the long run. Finally, he could stress to them the fact that perhaps never in the history of Western civilization has there been such suffering as there is in Germany today. It may be that the people who are suffering are our enemies, but they are at our mercy and, surely, we cannot indefinitely punish them for their misdeeds in the past. We must remember that millions of them were not born, or by way of an age to do anything about it when Hitler came into power. Surely, every hon. Member of whatever party can agree that real suffering, such as there is today, should be attacked in every way, however that suffering has come about and wherever it is.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
The House will pardon me if I do not follow in the same direction as the majority of speakers today. I am greatly concerned to see how the centre of gravity of political activity is shifting from Central and Western Europe to the Mediterranean. On that account, from a geographical point 1782 of view, Spain has become outstandingly important. We must take great interest in what happens in Spain, because Spain may be a crucial point in any future world conflagration. Some three or four weeks ago, not being satisfied with the information I was receiving in this country, I went to Spain to make my own investigations on the spot. For me it presented no difficulty. I have long-standing relations with Spain and I speak the Spanish language almost as well as a Spaniard. I could do all the necessary work myself without having any intermediary of any description.
I found there that although the people of Spain wanted a change of government—and they all do—there was no particular hatred with regard to Franco. Even the working classes spoke of Franco with a certain amount of respect, but the hatred there, in Spain, was against the Falangist Party. That party is corrupt, dishonest, and is holding the Spaniards to ransom. Almost everybody wants to get rid of the party. The difficulty is that if Franco gets rid of the party, Franco will have to go as well. The only alternative to Franco is Prince Juan, who is in the direct line of succession to the throne.
This week I have been to Portugal and I had a very long interview with Prince Juan. In fact, I was in Portugal this morning. I had my breakfast there, and now I am here making this speech. Prince Juan is leading' the life of an ordinary middle-class person, a good healthy family life, quietly, with no ostentation. He received me and told me that he was quite willing to answer any questions that I liked to ask. I gave him plenty of questions to answer. I asked him what his attitude would be towards the trade unions if he were enthroned as King of Spain. I took his answer down word for word in front of him. It is an interesting answer:Trade unions today are an industrial necessity. They must name their own representatives and not have their representatives named by the regime, which is actually what is happening at present in Spain with the Syndicates.He recognised the full authority of the trade unions, and he said he would accept them as a part of the system of government if he were appointed to the throne. I asked him about free speech and a free Press. He replied that his rule would be worthless without both, and also that 1783 a free Press would not be the same sort of free Press as existed in Spain before the civil war. It would have to be a free Press with full responsibility. I have known something of the Spanish Press as it was even before the first world war, when there was no responsibility at all. It was libellous and in every way disgraceful. He said that they would have to introduce a law of libel similar to that in this country. They would have to make the Press fully responsible for its actions—[Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but this country would be very badly off if the Press did not have to accept responsibility.
I asked Prince Juan what sort of government he intended to accept if he were to become King of Spain. He said he would be an absolutely constitutional king as in this country, above parties and not interfering with politics. I asked him whether he would accept all parties in Parliament, and his reply was that all parliamentary parties, that is to say, any party that believes in parliamentary government, would be acceptable; but those not believing in parliamentary government would not be accepted. As I think along the same lines, I say that it is perfectly reasonable, and that a person who does not believe in parliamentary government should not be elected to Parliament. If he is only elected to destroy Parliament, then he should not be sent there. The great difficulty—
§ Mr. Follick
If hon. Members want to know who they are, I should say they are the Fascists and the followers and participants in the glory of the Russian political system.
§ Mr. Follick
The difficulty at present is to get rid of Franco. Recently, a polemic seems to have arisen as to who should continue the Government—Franco or a future King. When I was in Spain recently everybody, including former Prime Ministers, former foreign secretaries, and even the present Foreign Secretary himself, said that they were in favour of a monarchical system, but Franco recently in a public manifesto said that he intends 1784 to appoint his follower himself. The only true successor to the throne in Spain is Prince Juan. I asked him, would he compromise with Franco at all? I pointed out to him that Spain could not go from a dictatorship system to a constitutional system overnight. There has got to be a period of transition; we do not know how long that period of transition will take. It may take a fairly long time, because up to the present, with the exception of a very short period, Spain has had no proper elections for nearly a quarter of a century. Political education in Spain has ceased, it will have to be brought back to Spain by free speech and a free Press.
I asked the Prince, would he compromise in working with Franco for a transitional period so that they could put an end to the dictatorship and reach a constitutional system by peaceful means and without too much disturbance? He said that if that were the only obstacle to introducing a constitutional monarchy he would even agree to that so that there should be a perfectly smooth carrying over from dictatorship to constitutionalism. If there is not that, there will not be a peaceful transition. That is a tremendous concession, because up to now that has been the one point that the Prince would not agree to. He would not agree to cooperation in any shape or form with Franco but now he says should that be the only obstacle he would agree to it.
We in this country have a great interest in Spain, and as time goes on our interest becomes greater in the peaceful development of a constitutional system there. There is no alternative to dictatorship but either anarchy or the peaceful transition to constitutional monarchy. There is no choice. I know the Spaniard and I know the Spanish temperament. I know what any other system of transition will mean. It will mean disaster and more disaster still, and it will be happening at the very entrance to the Mediterranean where we want peace and quiet. I submit that we should encourage this passing from a dictatorship to a constitutional monarchy. I believe that a constitutional monarchy is the sanest form of government. Constitutional monarchies have stood up to everything right through these difficult years in Sweden, in Denmark, in Norway, in Holland and in this country and possibly it would be the salvation of Spain. If I did not believe in a constitutional 1785 monarchy I would not be standing here tonight. That being the case I do urge this House to give sympathetic consideration to the pretensions of Don Juan, and if he ascends the throne of Spain we should help him in every way to carry over this transition period so that he can direct the dictatorship slowly into a proper system of electoral government. If that could happen, Spain could take her place amongst the Western democracies, and I think the Western democracies will be all the better for it.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I think the House always enjoys a speech based on first hand, courageous and independent investigation but I am certainly not competent even to comment on the speech to which we have just listened. It illustrates my point, however, of how difficult it is to speak in this Debate, because it is so easy to range not only over Europe, wide as that is, but also over a much wider field. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's speech today was in one sense very important for its implications. If I could give a title to it I would say it is, "Towards a British Foreign Policy." I always remember that when the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was going to San Francisco with the present Prime Minister, the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) remarked "Good luck to them, but the realities will always remain in Europe." The last two years have taught us that not only do the realities remain in Europe, whatever may be happening at Lake Success or New York, but that Geneva, especially during these last few months, is corning back to life in a very real way.
The reason I rise at this moment is that I think we need three investigations. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman) that we require a precise and exact survey of what is happening in Germany both from the economic and currency point of view. I have, with one or two other people, tried to work out some sort of basis for a balanced economy in Germany. It would seem that only now, almost within the last 76 hours, have the Foreign Secretary and all the distinguished people at the head of our affairs in Germany been forced down to brass tacks. 1786 I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that if Moscow was a failure it is better to say so. There was a little gleam of hope in Warsaw, then in Berlin and now in London, for the Foreign Secretary seemed to be dealing with the realities of Europe and at the same time realising that it is impossible at present to get very far with Russia. I say this with great reluctance, but I believe that there are great, fundamental ideological differences and it is much better and more honest to face them.
That leads me to one of the points I want to make. I have seen a little of Europe in the last two or three years. I have been as far East as Vienna and Trieste. Where one goes on the Continent one is faced with deterioration and, what is more unpleasant, deterioration of the respect in which this country is held. It is not because they do not realise our conditions or our very difficult position, particularly, say, in Italy, but because our case is not being put across. I am very mindful of the work which the British Council have done. They have literally revived the cultural links between Europe and this country. I think it is high time that somebody said that. I am also very conscious of the work being done in the Press Service, but here I want to enter a warning. The Press Service has now become part of the Foreign Service, and I do not think that that is a very wise move. As a matter of fact a person can now be moved from the Press Service into the Foreign Service, and become part of the ordinary Foreign Service personnel; he can be moved to another branch altogether.
At this moment it is almost unbelieveable—I think it is midsummer madness—that cuts are being made in all the overseas services to Europe. This is a piece of Treasury nonsense. The trifling cost of putting over our case in Europe—broadcasting, the Press Service and the British Council—does not amount to more than £1,500,000 a year. We cannot fight with force. We have seen the 18 months' national service whittled down to 12 months. Our economic and manpower position prevents us being the kind of force we were in the nineteenth century though, Heaven knows, we still have something to say.
There is an immense and pathetic desire in Europe to be told about the ideas for which this country stands. One 1787 can go to the universities of France, to Leyden, Louvain, Graz, Vienna, Bonn, Cologne, or anywhere else in Europe today and find that a new generation is growing up. This is the new Europe. The old Europe is very largely, and almost literally, dead. This new generation is growing up, not only in the universities, but in the schools and in the youth organisations. They are struggling with problems which can be answered better in this country than in any other country in the world, and they know it. The consequence is that there is an almost pathetic desire to know more of how we do things. I am not going into the details of this matter today, but I could quote chapter and verse from a very large number of countries which I have visited to prove that that is so.
Therefore, to my mind, this is not the moment in history to cut down on these services. On the contrary, we should fully maintain these services while we have differences with regard to Russia, such as those which the Foreign Secretary mentioned today, one of which was the system of feeding Germany. The people in Europe have no idea of voting for a man; they vote for a list. That system is adopted in Austria, Germany, and almost everywhere else on the Continent. The consequence is that any explanation, even of our Parliamentary system, is listened to with great eagerness. These may seem very simple things to those of us who have grown up with them. It must be remembered that we had 300 years of sheltered life until the first bomb hit London at the beginning of the war, when that period came to a very abrupt end. We have now introduced conscription or national service, whereas 10 years ago that was supposed to be undemocratic. Then we were protected by the water around us, and had good reason for opposing it. Now we are literally part of the Continent.
The first inquiry should be an intense one into the reasons for the decay of Germany. I have seen, for example, the condition of students. Lecture notes are sold on the black market, which is another illustration of the conditions which everybody now knows. The second inquiry should be into our overseas publicity service, which I think ought to be doubled rather than cut by 10 per cent. The third inquiry should be made into U.N.O. In 1788 my opinion, U.N.O. is becoming an unwieldy organisation. I do not know whether it is realised that we are spending on U.N.O. four times the amount which we spent on the League of Nations at its peak. The United Nations organisation has four times the staff which the League of Nations had at its peak. That is a very serious thing. The one organisation which is most capable' of doing good in Europe is the Economic Commission for Europe, which has taken two years to get into action. I wish that our representation on it was as high as that of some other countries. I believe that Russia is co-operating on that Commission. I should like to know why Russia co-operates in some things and not in others. We have got to understand Russia a great deal more than we do at present.
I have just become, together with a few of my friends, engaged in the activities of an Interchange Council for some of the Central and Eastern European countries. It is easy enough to exchange ideas with Belgium, Holland and France, but the real problems are in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria and in Russia itself. On this Council we have no political views at all. This is an educational exchange. If I say these things about Russia, I do not say them in any anti-Russian sense, but because I think that we have still to get underneath and to understand how they are looking at us. I am a very great believer in the Foreign Secretary, and have been for the last two years. If I have even the mildest criticism to make of him—and his patience during this time is something which very few of us can understand—when he speaks, he occasionally gives the impression that it is always Russia which is standing in the way. I can understand that.
We ought to make a very careful inquiry into whether we are getting not only value for money, but whether the international organs now being set up are really achieving anything at all. The United Nations Association meetings in this country are not attended by the masses; on the whole, they are rather small meetings. I believe that there is a feeling of deep frustration because people cannot identify their own interests and those of their villages and towns with these vague organisations which have not yet come alive. If this new generation—and it is a very good generation—in the 1789 universities and elsewhere, is going to be talked to in the language which they understand, they have got to realise that the instruments and organs being created are going to have a very practical effect on their lives in the coming years. At the moment, I cannot honestly say that that has happened. Therefore, my three pleas, if I may repeat them, are, first, for an inquiry into the German economy; secondly, an overhaul of the publicity services overseas, and, thirdly, a much more realistic approach to the European problems, as distinct from world problems.
As far as I can understand, when there are activities by international organs—what are called clearing-house activities, in other words, surveys or World Health Organisations—Russia comes in. I do not know whether that is because such activities are innocent activities, and are not going to do anything practical. But when a global organisation is set up which is going to do something, then, I notice, there is a shyness and a reluctance on the part of Russia to have very much to do with it. It is time that we realised that where we cannot obtain Russian co-operation, we must go ahead on our own and with those who will act. That is why I and other hon. Members welcome the decision which has been taken within the last two or three days on the fusion of the Anglo-American zones. It is not because we wish to see the Foreign Secretary going ahead without Russia, but because the people of this country believe that if we do not go ahead and get some tangible and practical results there will be not only a feeling of deep frustration on the Continent, but a feeling that their own austerity and economic conditions are never going to improve. I do not know whether it would be possible for the Foreign Secretary to answer some of these questions tomorrow, but I should be very grateful if he would.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)
The theme of this Debate so far today has been revival in the West. The Foreign Secretary spoke of his hopes for a closer approximation of the British and American zones in Germany, and my hon. Friends the Members for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) and Scarborough (Mr. Spearman) have both re-emphasised the urgent necessity for greater economic unity in Germany and a more highly organised system in the zone for which we are 1790 responsible. I hope the Foreign Secretary did not miss the significant words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) when he spoke of the economic fusion which has taken place between Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg, and more particularly the wider implications which might flow from it. The Foreign Secretary himself spoke of the Anglo-French Treaty, but I think his words there were not as pregnant as elsewhere. He spoke of it, if I may say so without offence, in a rather old-fashioned Foreign Office sense; there was the idea that one country should come immediately to the aid of the other if attacked. Those were the terms in which treaties were written before the war. Some treaties of this kind were not fulfilled. We have been promised closer economic collaboration with France as a result of this Treaty, and I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have said, and perhaps will say in winding up tomorrow, something more about the visits which have taken place between the economic experts of the two countries, and what is being done to speed up the closer union of the French economy and our own.
I have one other criticism of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and that was where he spoke about the socialisation of industries in the Rhineland and the Ruhr. What is the United States view upon that? We have not been told. Do they approve of this policy of nationalisation and socialisation? It would be very strange for the Americans, who believe in the virtues of free enterprise in a free economy, to give an endorsement to this policy. What is their view on that? Secondly, is it a wise policy? The right hon. Gentleman said he thought it would lead to greater economic and social advance in Germany, but will it not also place in the hands of a potential German totalitarian Government, if ever we are faced again with such a thing, an economic unit of great power and force which they can turn to their advantage? Suppose, for some reason, we have to withdraw from Germany—we do not want to leave behind a highly integrated set of industries which somebody, later on, in a single coup d'état, can take over and use to threaten us. I think the policy is a wrong one; it should rather be the dissemination and breaking down of industries. After all, during the war my 1791 right hon. Friend the Minister of Production, as he then was, did not have to integrate every industry in this country in order to get the best possible results from it. He had many controls, which he operated and which the Government now operate, over private industry to get the most beneficial results. It is not necessary to socialise the industries in the Ruhr for the purpose of advance in Germany.
I wanted to say by way of introduction that in this Debate so far the theme to which all parties have agreed—there has not been a single dissentient speech—is that we cannot now wait for Russia in Europe, but must carry on with Western unity. In the remainder of my remarks I want to say the same thing in a wider field. I believe we cannot now wait for Russia in world affairs. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Martin) said in a very thoughtful if rather pessimistic speech, the relations between the Great Powers today continue to dominate the foreign scene. Without any doubt at all, the last year has witnessed an exacerbation of those relations. On the American side there has been the Canadian spy trial, and a host of books, publications and articles have been written in America on the more sinister aspects of Russian totalitarian control. These things have served to whip up American opinion against Russia. There has been, and still is, some very irresponsible talk over there of a preventive war while the United States still have the exclusive use of the atomic weapon.
On the Russian side, the increasing hostility and suspicion in the West has had its effect. The demonstration of the atomic bomb at Bikini and the extension of American influence in the Near East—which I personally warmly welcome—have had a serious reaction on the Russians. They have served to inflame Russian propaganda. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen have seen the B.B.C. monitoring reports which have been coming out recently from the Russian radio, but they make most extraordinary and rather terrifying reading. This attitude of extreme nervousness and bitterness in Russia has had reactions within the Russian economy itself. Powerful aid has been given to the party commissars in their attempt to stamp out 1792 the Western democratic practices which crept into Russia during the war. Taking it all in all, it appears to me that veil after veil has descended over the iron curtain, making it thicker and more impenetrable than before.
As my right hon. Friend said, the Moscow Conference has been an almost complete failure, but who could have hoped that it would succeed in the atmosphere which now prevails? Germany is a pawn in the game of power and fear. It is sometimes easier to get agreements between Powers, or between persons for that matter, in the realm of theory than it is in the realm of practice, but we have had no agreement in the realm of theory in the United Nations organisation, even on the simplest procedural discussions. How can we expect to achieve concord in the practical realm of policy in Eastern and Western Germany? Those great zones have been torn apart and thrown into the whirlpools of conflicting ideologies. We have to reckon with the consequences of Teheran—a fateful decision forced upon us by military requirements, against which the most enlightened liberal statesmanship on all sides could scarcely have prevailed. It did not prevail. Germany has been partitioned as Poland was partitioned 150 years ago, and if the forces of nationalism are no stronger now than they were then—and that is saying a very great deal—it will take a very long time indeed before Germany regains her unity and independence.
I believe that the Foreign Secretary—now that he has at last secured a deputy for Germany, a man, I am glad to say, of vision and ability—should turn his mind to the larger questions. If Britain is to play any part at all in this modern world of great State groupings we must exercise courage and initiative in the field of ideas, and put our administrative talents to purposeful use. I was disappointed to read, the other day, of the right hon. Gentleman's moan about coal exports. It was redolent of the 1920s, and I thought the Labour Government had left the 1920S far behind. We shall, in my view, open no magic casements with the key industrial exports of the last decade. We are now high cost producers, and shall remain so, and coal and cotton, iron and steel, are not by and large the products to select over the next ten years to increase our influence in foreign markets and foreign chancelleries. Other 1793 countries will soon be producing these things in greater abundance at a much lower cost than ourselves.
I will follow the right hon. Gentleman if he will talk as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade talked yesterday in terms of exports of high quality merchandise, and I will follow him still further if he will talk of plans for emigration, of the talented products of our secondary and public schools. I think it is about time that the proverbial ticket to Victoria was given to about a quarter of a million of these people. The frustration from which so many people are suffering today is, I believe, due to the impact of thousands of eager, trained, minds on an equalitarian, little England economy that they cannot mould or change. Our present condition has been coming upon us steadily since public education began in 1870, and unless something is done soon by the Government and facilities provided, by arrangement with the Dominions and foreign Governments, for the emigration of those who desire to go, we shall, I am convinced, suffer serious psychological illnesses in the next 10 years.
I thought it appropriate to say these few things in passing, and now I would like to return to, and conclude on, my main theme The most difficult and ineluctable question of all is this: What will move Russia—force or appeasement? The choice, and it is an absolute choice, lies with the Western Powers, ourselves, the United States, France and Canada. Both weapons are at our command. One can take the view that Russia is playing for time, that behind the curtain the atom bomb is being hastily prepared, that atomic equality is certain in the next five years, and that after that tension and suspicion will grow until, in a fever of fear and anxiety, the least responsible nation looses the thing and chaos reigns over the earth. That view was cogently and forcefully presented in an important Debate the other day, in another place. I believe that such anxieties can lead to nothing but thoughts of preventive war, and I, for one, would never share them. On the other hand, one can take the view that Russia knows well that she has no capacity for making the bomb, that she knows she is outstripped, and permanently so, that Mr. Gromyko's refusal of the right of inspection by the Atomic Development Authority is in order to conceal the nakedness 1794 of the land, and that his proposal for the outlawing of atomic warfare and the destruction of existing stocks of atom bombs is a genuine attempt to rid the world of the pest, and ease the psychological burden on his own people. That view leads to a policy of patience and toleration, of acceptance of the Russian proposals, in the hope that Russia, in due course, will modify her standpoint on the veto, when the whole United Nations concept can move forward to a new position.
The tragedy of the situation is that we do not know which view of the Russian mind is right. Therefore, we cannot, with safety to ourselves, or the world, embark on either course. I am, therefore, forced to the conclusion that we must pursue a twofold policy. We could probably now, such is the state of affairs, get all the members of the Security Council except Russia, to abandon the veto, and press on with plans for an atomic development authority and an international force. But if we did that it would be to confront Russia with a formidable alignment of power, and, I believe, would drive her further into exile. On the other hand, a mere policy of wait and see would be futile and exasperating and would, in her present mood, lead to a dispute between ourselves and the United States. It appears to me that the only solution lies in a combination of a decision to abolish the veto, and to apply the Atomic Energy Commission's proposals, on the one hand, with, on the other, proposals for very large trading projects with Russia, and with her satellites, and reconstruction loans on a very large scale from the international bank.
I do not believe for one moment that Communism can be defeated by armed force, or by the threat of armed force. Communism thrives on the fear of war, on crises, and on poverty. The way to turn the mind of Russia and her satellites is by means of trade, material progress, and the offer of prosperity. I agree here with what was said by the hon. Member for Barnet (Dr. Taylor). I believe that ideology has far less a hold on human nature than the blessings and benefits of the earth. We in this country, distracted and temporarily poor, as we are, can do little enough to help them at this time, but we can propose much. We have many avenues, many opportunities, and many means of persuading nations of 1795 what we may deem to be of advantage to all. If the Foreign Secretary will turn his mind to these questions, press on with his own ideas of direct election to the General Assembly of U.N.O., then he will identify a British interest with a beneficent international purpose, and actively promote the cause of peace.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Devonport)
The noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has made a speech of such baffling contradictions that it is a little difficult to follow him. He said at the beginning of his speech that he disliked the idea of public ownership in Germany, and at that we on this side were not particularly surprised, because we know that he dislikes the idea of public ownership in Britain. It must be a little discomforting for Members opposite to realise that one of the ways of cleaning up Germany at the end of the war is to take all the power we possibly can out of the class which they represent. So, it was natural that the noble Lord was opposed to public ownership in Germany, and the socialisation of German industry. But when the noble Lord, at the end of his speech, said that he did not believe it was possible to fight and defeat Communism by force, and that one of the best developments that could have taken place at the end of the war would have been large-scale loans to Russia and Eastern Europe, I heartily agreed, and I am sure that very many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House also heartily agreed. We only wish that he had a little more effect on his own party in putting forward some of those proposals. If some of the speeches made last night in the Albert Hall and a few months ago at Fulton, or some of the speeches made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) in this House, had been to suggest that the best service the United States could do for the world would be to start a reconstruction loan for the Soviet Union, we might not be "bogged down" on the reparations issue.
One of the difficulties is that Russia is trying to get out of Germany the funds which should be loaned by the United States to carry out her reconstruction. At the same time as we are "bogged down" in this business of Russia having no means whereby to obtain the resources she re- 1796 quires to rebuild herself, we read long speeches from the Secretary of the State Department in the United States saying how difficult it is for them to get rid of all the wealth which they have amassed in their country. Surely, it would have been simpler for a reconstruction loan to have been initiated in the United States in order to encourage the Russian Government to participate in a wiser and sounder reparations plan for the whole of Europe. I believe that until we get such approach from the United States to this problem, we shall go on being "bogged down." Almost the only American statesman who has so far proposed this plan is Mr. Henry Wallace. That is the main proposal which he has put forward. He has put forward a plan whereby Mr. Dean Acheson and his friends in the United States may be able to dispose of this vast surplus with which they do not know what to do. That is a sound and civilised proposal.
Leaving the speech of the noble Lord I would like to come to the general subjects which have been discussed in this Debate. The main criticism which I would make—and it does not apply to some of the speeches or to the hon. Gentleman who read through one of the ration cards now distributed in Germany—is the fact that we are holding this Debate largely on Germany at a time when Germany is in a state of economic crisis—a state of famine. There are very few speakers who have discussed it in those terms. There is something like famine prevailing in Germany today, only a few months after the fusion agreement was announced between Britain and the United States. It was announced in this House, and we were told that one of the major advantages of this agreement was that it would solve many of the economic problems in Germany and lift the danger of a food crisis in Germany.
In that announcement, it was said by spokesmen on behalf of His Majesty's Government that one of the results later on of this fusion agreement would be that the ration level in Germany would be lifted from the starvation level of 1,500 calories to 1,800 calories. I think that that was to have taken place this month, but instead of lifting it to 1,800 calories, we find that in large parts of the British zone of Germany, and in many of the biggest industrial areas, the ration has fallen to 700 calories, as the hon. Gentleman proved by reading the evidence to this 1797 House. This means to say that this much vaunted fusion agreement has not worked.
Before hon. Gentlemen go on to praise all the skill and the delicacy with which Anglo-American relations always work, why do not they see if this really works? What in fact was done in this agreement was that we entered into a very costly arrangement for ourselves, paying fifty-fifty with the Americans to assist in rebuilding Germany, and so far that fusion scheme has not worked and it has not provided the goods in Germany. In view of that fact, I do not think that it is wise that in Germany itself during this appalling food crisis through which the Germans have been living for British officials to say, "It is all the responsibility of the Germans," because it is not all the responsibility of the Germans. It is not the responsibility of the Germans that an administrative system was set up by General Clay in the American zone, which makes it so difficult for the food to be extracted from the Bavarian peasants; nor is the amount of food imported to Germany the responsibility of the Germans. It is largely the responsibility of the Americans, and this responsibility they have not fulfilled. I hope to say something further about that in a minute or two.
I would like to turn to what I consider to be the second grave weakness in this Debate, and of the speeches in particular from the two Front Benches at the beginning of the Debate. Not merely did they seem to show insufficient recognition that there was a grave economic crisis in Germany, but they showed little recognition of the fact that there is a gave economic situation in this country, and that the first test of our foreign policy must be how it assists the economic situation in this country. The result of the policy which has been followed—the result of the Moscow Conference—has been that we, as the Foreign Secretary said, must wait for a considerable period until November—that will be the vital conference—and in the meantime we have to wait a little longer. The Americans can afford to wait; I think that the Russians can afford to wait; but it is very much more difficult for this country to wait, because the present foreign policy of this country is prodigiously costly to this country, and one of the chief aims of the Foreign Secretary should be to reduce the cost of his foreign policy. The cost of our foreign policy is shown quite simply by 1798 Government expenditure abroad in our balance of payments as some £300 million. I am not suggesting that the whole of that should be wiped out, but it is a very big item—the biggest item in the debit balance, except for food.
We are told by the Government in its White Paper that this year the £300 million is to be reduced to £175 million. We have never been given any indication by the Government what reductions are to be made in what parts of the world to make that reduction from £300 million to £175 million. I fear that the figure may not be reduced to as much as £175 million, but, at any rate, we should have a much clearer explanation on that point. Another way of estimating the cost of our foreign policy is its cost in terms of manpower. The cost of our foreign policy at the present moment is that we are maintaining forces of 1,400,000, which are to be reduced by 1949 to something like 700,000. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) put some questions to the Foreign Secretary on the subject of commitments. I should be very glad to see that subject raised from the Front Bench, because some of us on this side of the House have been trying to get an answer from the Government about commitments over the last three or four months. We were described by the right hon. Member for Woodford as degenerate intellectuals or crypto-Communists and apparently it has been agreed up to now, through the usual channels, that there shall not be any discussion on the subject of commitments. I am glad that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington raised the subject, and may be he will get an answer, even if we have not been able to get an answer.
§ Mr. Foot
Maybe not, but the fact is that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington can possibly work out for himself what will be the cost of our Armed Forces if they are to be reduced very considerably by 1949 or 1950, and reduced a bit more by reason of the cut made in the period of service under the Conscription Bill which we are to discuss later tonight. They are to be very considerably reduced. We have always been told that the purpose of our Armed Forces 1799 is to maintain and support our commitments, and, therefore, presumably, if we cut the numbers of our Armed Forces, we cut also the size of our commitments.
If that is not the case, then words have no meaning. By 1949 we are to have Armed Forces of something like 700,000, or even fewer perhaps, and by that time we shall need very considerably to have reduced our commitments. We should very much like to know which of these commitments we shall have reduced by then so that we can discuss intelligently which others should also be reduced in order that we can cut down the enormous burden which our present foreign policy imposes on this country.
It seems to me that there are three choices before this country with regard to these commitments. The first is that in some parts of the world we should make a sudden and disorderly retreat from commitments which we now have to bear. Hon. Members opposite, or others, may say that it is a monstrous thing for anyone in this House to stand up and make such a proposal, but we know that in the case of Greece and Turkey a disorderly and sudden retreat from a commitment was made. I claim that unless we think the thing out we shall have to do the same with regard to other countries too. If anyone on this side of the House had got up three or four months ago and said that we ought to cut down our commitments in Greece and Turkey because they were too much for us to bear, we should have heard the phrase "degenerate intellectuals" once again. Nevertheless, it has come to pass and we have suddenly had to make this cut in our commitments. I submit that it would be much better to do it in an orderly fashion than in a disorderly fashion.
The second alternative—since all the facts about our Armed Forces show that we must make reductions in our commitments—is that we should reverse the commitments that have been made concerning the reduction in the size of our Armed Forces and put them back to where they were, building them up and maintaining them at something like their present level of 1,400,000. We might even follow the policy of the right hon. Member for Woodford, who would like, presumably, to have forces of some 2,000,000 so that they could execute very awkward commitments 1800 in places like Burma, Malaya, India, and in other parts of the world. That is the second choice which would, of course, inevitably do much to bring this country to an early end. The third possibility, which I say is by far the wisest for this country, is that we should make these reductions in our commitments in an orderly and designed fashion, and that we should begin to realise now that if we are to have only some 700,000 men in the Armed Forces by 1949 or 1950 we must have a very serious cut in our commitments. Moreover, if we look at our balance of payments—and I suggest that that is a matter which the Government must obviously have very much in mind in framing their foreign policy—then surely we must be prepared to make cuts in our commitments at the same time.
What are the cuts which we can make? First, with regard to Germany, I suggest that the time has come for the British Government to say to the American Government quite clearly that we can no longer afford to go on spending money to maintain our part of the occupation of Germany. I suggest that it is much better and fairer to the Americans that we should say that now than have to say it in the midst of some economic crisis about 12 months hence. We should say to them that we are quite prepared to maintain our own Armed Forces, such as they are required there to keep up our part of the Control Commission, but that it was never intended under the American Loan Agreement that they should pay us dollars which we had to pour out in Germany.
It would be much better for us, much better for them, and much better for the Germans that the responsibility for the supply of food and commodities that are required to be imported into Germany should be taken over by the Americans. I suggest that we should make that proposal as soon as possible. It is a remarkable and paradoxical fact that when the Americans ended Lend-Lease to this country at the end of the war they began it to our enemies. They cut off supplies to this country and started paying out huge sums and sending huge quantities of goods to Italy, Germany and other countries. I am not complaining about that, but it is a fact, and I suggest that we should then, perhaps, have foreseen more clearly the economic situation in which we find ourselves and in which we cannot continue on the present scale. However this may 1801 be, I suggest that the Government should make such a proposal to the American Government as soon as possible.
Second, I think we must also be prepared for further cuts in our commitments in the Middle East. The extraordinary thing about the Middle East is that we are now spending millions of pounds and millions of dollars, and maintaining tens of thousands of our troops to fulfil commitments which, in certain conditions, we have ourselves stated we are prepared to abandon. We are maintaining troops in Palestine although, if the U.N.O. Commission says so, we have to clear out. We are maintaining troops in Egypt, although again, we have told the Egyptians that we are quite prepared to clear out. We also maintain troops in one part of Saudi-Arabia overlooking Persia, and a few more in Greece, though there again we agree that we are to clear out in certain circumstances. If in certain circumstances it is possible for Britain to survive with her troops cleared out of those places surely, in the present economic situation, the sooner we do it the better, and the sooner we do it the better we shall establish friendly relations with the Arabs, the Jews and the other unfortunate people who happen to live in that part of the world.
Of course, if we make a proposal of that kind some old Blimp will get up and say, "If you move out of these areas then of course the Russians will move in." They say that there is a vacuum and that if the British move out then either the Americans or someone else goes in, and that probably it will be the Russians. This theory of the vacuum, which is very popular in the United States and to some extent in this country also, has, of course, no basis of fact. It happens to be true that there is one country in the Middle East where this theory can actually be decided and applied. Britain very wisely decided to withdraw her troops from Persia and the Russians, contrary to their treaty, kept their troops on Persian soil. It happens to be a fact that this country where the Russians kept their troops, and from which we withdrew ours, is the place in the Middle East where the Russians are most unpopular and where our diplomacy has succeeded best. If Persia has been kept independent it is not because the Americans have moved in or because somebody has played power politics. It is really because of the cleverness of the Persian Foreign Minister, and because we 1802 had the luck to have cleared out of the country m time in accordance with our treaty. That kind of thing will add to the prestige of this country at a very rapid rate.
I would suggest, therefore, that the matters we have to discuss in this foreign policy Debate—and which we have not discussed so far—are the principles upon which our foreign policy is based. We very rarely discuss those principles. We have a report of some conference that has taken place, we have comments on the report, we have congratulations to the Foreign Secretary on his good health or his bad health, and that is the end of the Debate. But we are living in a new world where Britain can no longer conduct the kind of foreign policy she had in the past. We have to recognise that we are more part of Europe than ever before and we must begin to frame a policy on that basis. If we are going to do that the first principle we must apply is not to attempt to conduct a foreign policy which is beyond our strength. That is what we are doing today, and the real decision we still have to make is whether we are to devise a foreign policy which is comparable to our strength—which I am sure is also a policy which will enable us to win the friendship and the support of other peoples all over the world—or whether we are to conduct a foreign policy which is far beyond our strength and which will mean that we shall become totally dependent on the United States of America, not merely for the conduct of our foreign policies but also for the conduct of our policies here at home.
That is the real choice which we in this country have to face. It is not the choice of appeasing Russia or hating Russia or despising Russia. I do not think it is going to be easy for historical or other reasons for us to reach an agreement with Russia and to reach such an agreement is going to take us a very long time. We have got a much earlier decision to make, and that is whether we are going to have a foreign policy which will enable this country to thrive and prosper as a great Socialist commonwealth. If we can have a foreign policy which enables us to do that I believe the future peace of the world will be secure.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Colonel Wheatley (Dorset, Eastern)
The hon. Member for the Combined 1803 English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) at the beginning of his speech said that a Debate such as this wanders over the whole place so much that it is difficult to make a speech at all. That is especially so when one follows the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot). He will forgive me if I do not follow him entirely, but I should like to make one remark on something which he said just now. He said we had evacuated our troops from Persia. I am reminded that it was not so long ago that we had to send some of the troops back again to protect our nationals.
§ Colonel Wheatley
I agree that we did not send them to Persia but we sent them to the border. There is another point: we never had any troops in Saudi Arabia in our lives, and if any one knew the King of Saudi Arabia he would know that we would never have the opportunity to put English or any other troops into that country.
If I may, I want to move away from Europe. The speeches which we have heard in this Debate have been mostly about Europe and I want to move to another part of the world where we have serious commitments, as we have had for many years. I am referring to the Middle East. The Mediterranean, for the last 140 or 150 years, has been of great interest to this country. Formerly it was only the western end, but since the Suez Canal was opened our responsibilities have grown, especially in Egypt. The Arab world has increased in importance by the rising of Arab kingdoms which are independent now. Of particular importance to us has been Egypt, where our responsibilities have been vitally important and difficult, particularly as the wealth of the country has increased, and education has encouraged that country towards its own self rule, entirely due to the tutelage of this country. After all, we went to Egypt much against our will in the 19th century in order to put down a rebellion, because the French, whom we asked to do the job, refused to take on the responsibility. I do not want to detain the Members of the House with the recital of that history, and all I need say here is that we have remained there ever since.
1804 Before the 1914–18 war it was a question of occupation until we got Egypt back to solvency and assisted it to recover its wealth. After that war we first made it a protectorate, then a sultanate and next we granted it the status of a kingdom which brought self-rule. The difficulties that have arisen since then have been very great, which is due to a desire on the part of the Egyptians to have their country for themselves and to get rid of British or any other troops. A lot of people say that the Egyptians dislike us. I do not believe for one moment that that is true. I think individually Englishmen are persona grata to the Egyptians. What they do not like is having foreign troops in their country.
Two fundamental mistakes we have made in dealing with the Egyptians have been, firstly, our failure to remove our troops out of the Delta immediately after the war was over. If we had moved the troops out of Cairo down to the Canal in accordance with our Treaty, we should have saved ourselves a great deal of trouble. The second mistake we made was really psychological. We started negotiations to alter the treaty between the Egyptians and ourselves by saying that we were moving our troops out of Egypt and clearing out altogether. In doing that we took away from the Government of Egypt of that day the opportunity of bargaining, and if we had finally agreed instead of saying at the outset that we were going to take our troops out at once we would have enhanced the prestige of that Government, who would have been able to say to their own people, "See what we have done by argument and persuasion. We have got the British to move out their troops." That is an important factor when dealing with people in the East. They love bargaining, they live by bargaining and if one can win a bargain it adds greatly to one's prestige.
I should also have liked the Government at that time to say straight away that there was going to be no alteration in the status of the Sudan, and it is about the status of the Sudan that I desire to speak in this Debate. I think it is of great importance. I know that the Prime Minister has already said in this House that there is no idea of our changing the status of the Sudan, but rumours go on the whole time while intrigue is practised by the Egyptians, who are using all sorts of means to try to get us to alter that 1805 decision. I should like whoever answers this Debate to make it clear once more, and especially to the Egyptians, that we are tired of having strings pulled by the opposing political parties in Egypt to gain prestige. I would make it clear to hon. Members opposite that the whole of this trouble in Egypt in regard to the British people is not because the Egyptians dislike us, but because they want some sort of handle with which to beat their political opponents. That may seem fantastic, but I assure hon. Members that it is so and it is the reason which animates all the anti-British talk which is heard in Egypt and which does not go to any length at all.
As regards the Sudan, I am anxious to make it clearer than ever that there will be no appeasement in order to meet Egyptian claims and that we will not give away our status in the Sudan. We are responsible for the people of the Sudan. It is not one country containing one type of people. In Northern Sudan there are more or less the intelligentsia, if one may use that word in this respect, while in the South there are wild tribesmen who have hardly emerged from their wild state. However, owing to education a difference is gradually being brought into Southern Sudan and the whole country is being brought along slowly and, I think very wisely, into the ways of self-government.
It has been the policy of the Sudan Government, ever since the country was reconquered in 1898, gradually to educate the Sudanese to be able to govern themselves. In the Northern part of the Sudan, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years, the Sudanisation of the Services, including the political Services, has been going forward very rapidly. The Governor-General stated, to the Advisory Council in the North only the other day, that in 20 years he could foresee the Sudan being fit to govern themselves. The difficulty is Southern Sudan, where there are negroid races. They are by no means likely to govern themselves in 20 years' time. The other day I was talking to a Sudanese who had recently become assistant legal secretary, which is a very high appointment. He said, "Of course, we cannot pretend at the present time that we can take over the Southern Sudan. England or America will have to take it over." They realise that this is a difficult proposition.
1806 For the Egyptian to talk about unity of the Nile, and that the Nile is all one, is just humbug. To begin with, the Nile starts in Uganda, and not in the Sudan. To talk about the Egyptians and the Sudanese being all of one race and all of one religion is absolute bosh. The Sudanese are mostly pagans, although large numbers of them have become Christians in the last 20 years. The Northern part is Muslim. They have no more affinity with the Egyptians than we have, and perhaps even less. This same judge told me that he had had conversations with Egyptians who told him, "I cannot understand why you Sudanese do not welcome us, your brothers, into your country." He asked, "What can you give us? Can you give us culture?"—"No"; "Can you give us morality?"—"No"; "Can you give us money?"—"Yes, but we do not want it, because the Sudan has been brought to such a state of finance that we are able to stand on our own legs."
I hope that the Foreign Secretary will make it perfectly clear that whatever course the negotiations may take, the Sudan will keep its present status. We do not want any sort of suggestion of an Egyptian deputy Governor-General, or anything like that. That will only disturb the Sudanese. They truly say that if the Nile acknowledges the King of Egypt as the King of the Sudan, when the time comes in about 20 years' time when the Sudan will be able to choose its own way, the fact that there is a king—and in the East a king means a king, and not a monarchial government such as we have heard talked about today, but a person who rules his country—there will be fighting in the Sudan. The Sudanese will not put up with Egyptian sovereignty of any sort. They pride themselves on the fact that they drove the Egyptians out of their country, and, indeed, they advanced so far down into Egypt that it was only with our assistance that the dervishes were prevented from reaching Cairo.
The Sudanese are a proud people. They feel they are quite as capable of running their own country as the Egyptians. To allow the Egyptians to have any sort of control in the Sudan will only lead to trouble and fighting. Here is a commitment which, on moral grounds and on every other ground, we cannot give up just because it may cause a little trouble. I look upon it as a shameful thing if a 1807 nation, just as with an individual, which has taken on some responsibility, gives it up because it is going to cause trouble. We have to face the trouble there. We can be proud as a nation in what we have done, not only for Egypt, but for the Sudan. I hope the Foreign Secretary will stand firm on this point, and that the status of the Sudan will not be changed until we give them their opportunity when they are ready for self-government to take over their country.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
I could not help feeling, when listening to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Dorset (Colonel Wheatley), who speaks with great authority on Egypt, that he did the Foreign Secretary rather less than justice when he suggested that by withdrawing our troops from Cairo he had weakened his bargaining position. I was in Cairo only a few weeks ago, and, according to my observation, far from having weakened his bargaining power, it has strengthened his position, because the Egyptians regard it as being a gesture of good will. On the other hand, I fully agreed with the hon. and gallant Member when he spoke about the Sudan. It would, indeed, be a fatal error to concede the Egyptian claim. There is today a catchword about "the unity of the Nile." When an Egyptian talks about "the unity of the Nile," he means, of course, the political unity of the Nile. In point of fact, the political unity of the Nile has never been a reality, although there is an economic unity of the Nile. I hope that when the Foreign Secretary resumes negotiations for a new Treaty with Egypt he will emphasise that we are willing to secure, not only for the Egyptians, but also for the Sudanese—and for that matter the Abyssinians and the natives of Uganda—effective control of the waters of the Nile, in the interests of all the peoples who are fed by the Nile and whose land depends on the Nile for irrigation. He might suggest the possibility of a Nile Valley Authority, being made responsible to the Economic Council of the United Nations, which would remove from the ordinary Egyptian fellah the fears which have been injected in him, that his daily water may be in danger in the future, as he has been told it was after the murder of Sir Lee 1808 Stack. One of the most effective political weapons of the Egyptian leaders is the continuous threat that Great Britain wants to deprive the Egyptian fellah of the Nile waters through her control of the Upper Nile. It is most important that our information services should be strengthened, because the ordinary Egyptian has absolutely no idea of Britain's benevolent intentions towards Egypt. He is continually subjected to anti-British propaganda, with the result that not only does he fail to understand Britain's gestures of friendship, but, in addition, he is under the constant fear that Britain, far from wanting to promote his economic prosperity, wants to ruin him or at least blackmail him with the weapon of water.
This evening I want to talk more particularly on the question of Germany. I welcome the fact that the Foreign Secretary confirmed in his speech this afternoon that the Moscow Conference did not break down, but merely adjourned. What we do during that period of adjournment will be decisive to the future of the world. I was glad that the Foreign Secretary has not been hustled by any of his advisers into accepting as a permanent fait accompli the present division of Germany. If we establish a Western State of Germany in opposition to an Eastern State of Germany under Soviet influence, then we shall create two great irredentist movements—an irredentist movement in Western Germany and an irredentist movement in Eastern Germany. The Germans will never accept this partition; there is not a single political party which would renounce the unification of Germany. Each State would regard itself as being under the patronage of one or the other of the Powers, and the result would be a permanent potential war situation. Each state would try to unite with the other; each state would seek the support of one of the Great Powers; each state would recognise that the only hope for German unification would lie in a war from which Germany might re-emerge as one again—the reward of a vassal's service to the victorious Great Power.
There is a further argument against the creation of a Western State of Germany in opposition to an Eastern State, and that is the economic argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) rightly argued that one of the main objects of foreign policy should be to reduce the cost of that foreign policy. 1809 Quite clearly, if we encourage the formation of a Western German state, politically and economically independent, we shall have to stimulate in that state exports to a height which will necessarily be competitive with the exports of this country. It will mean that those exports will be directed into hard currency areas in order to earn dollars with which to pay for the goods and foodstuffs which that Western state has to import. The result will be that precisely in those markets where we, in the future, will want to export our goods, we shall find ourselves in direct competition with the German state which we have fostered, and with the German industries we have sought to develop.
I do not for one moment believe that anything should be done to restrain or diminish the productive capacity of Western Germany; on the contrary, I welcome the fact that at Moscow there was a proposition considered by all the four Powers, and approved I believe by all, to raise the level of German industry and to base it on over 10 million tons of steel production. But the historical development of the German economy has been such that the natural movement of German industrial exports has not been from Western Germany to Western Europe and to America, but rather to Eastern Europe and to South-East Europe in exchange for agricultural products. That is the natural and organic form of German economic unity. I believe that the Foreign Secretary has been absolutely right in always keeping before him the fact that Germany can only be healthy economically if there is this natural interplay of exports from Western Germany to Eastern Germany and to South-East Europe in exchange for agricultural products from those regions.
In the meantime, in these coming six months, we have an immediate problem of administration. I regret very much that after the bi-zonal fusion of Germany had been established the actual administration of that economic fusion was not more effective. There is an economic committee at Minden, a joint food board at Stuttgart, a joint finance committee at Frankfurt, and a joint transport committee at Bielefeld. No wonder that economic fusion has not been as efficient as it should have been. I see today that there is a likelihood of all these economic agencies being moved to Frankfurt, and I welcome it; but I still believe 1810 there is a great danger in these coming months that the administration of those joint agencies will not be effective because their decision must percolate downwards through the governments of the Lander, which often, as in the case of Bavaria, are unwilling to carry them out. Unless the Lander governments will execute the decisions of these bi-zonal agencies, their orders will merely be paper orders and completely valueless.
The objection to having a proper governmental system which will allow the decisions of the bizonal agencies to be carried out is that if there were such a thing as a bizonal German Parliament, the Russians would immediately take fright and imagine that we were trying to create a Western state of Germany in opposition to the Russian zone and to Russia. I believe the Foreign Secretary has been right not to exacerbate Russian aspirations on this point. We are in the dilemma that in order to make the bizonal decisions effective, we must have an effective legislature and an effective administrative agency in order to carry out those decisions. At the same time, we cannot have a bizonal Parliament because of our fear of exciting Russian suspicions. I feel that there is a middle way; that there is a method of enabling the Länder to carry out the decisions of these bizonal agencies which will not create the suspicion that we are trying to create a Parliament for a Western German State. I suggest that the Lander should delegate authority to a council of the Lander, and that this council should be pledged in advance to carry out the decisions of the bizonal agencies. In that way, although it would not exist as a formal Parliament, it would have the authority, derived originally from democratic elections within the Lander, which would enable the economic decisions of bizonal agencies to be carried out.
Here, I would like to talk about food, which is obviously the most urgent and critical problem in Germany today. I am sure that no hon. Member would like to envisage a future in which Germany becomes a permanent mendicant of the world. We want Germany to be able to stand on her own feet; we want the Germans to be able to enjoy a decent standard of life; and we want Germany to be assured that her daily bread will be forthcoming. I join with the hon. 1811 Member opposite who welcomed the appointment of the new Chancellor of the Duchy, for I am quite sure that everyone will agree that he approaches his new job with energy which is important and with humanity, which is fundamental. On the other hand, humanity in itself is not enough. There must be machinery to translate it into reality. One of the major difficulties in Germany today, as far as food is concerned, is not that food is not produced sufficiently to supplement imports, but that rather the food which is produced is not properly collected and distributed.
One of the main reasons for this failure is that the farmers will not yield up what they produce. I could not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport when he seemed to put all the blame for not feeding Germany on the Allies. It is an undoubted fact that in Germany in the month of February, for example, the target for deliveries of cereals from the farms was not reached by 58,000 tons. The grain was there, I believe, but it was not delivered, and one of the main reasons why the farmers will not deliver the produce is that they have no faith in the currency, and prefer to hoard the produce, or use it for barter. So long as there is not a currency in Western Europe, or the rest of Germany, which has the confidence of the farmers, so long will the deliveries not be made. So long as they hold up the grain, we shall have the anxieties, fears, and concern for the Germans, as in the present crisis. That clearly is something which can only be settled if there is currency confidence in the whole of Germany. I hope that when the Conference takes place, the Foreign Secretary will put the question of currency reform very high on the agenda. It is an administrative thing, which can be settled very quickly.
Then there is the question of coal. For a considerable time the Germans, particularly this year, were steadily increasing their coal output, and at one point it had risen to something like 237,600 tons a day. Recently it has fallen off, and the reason is that the German miner, instead of digging coal, is digging his garden. He is gardening because he too is apprehensive about the food situation. Until we give some guarantee to the Germans that their food reserve will be sufficient to guard 1812 them against the sort of crisis through which the are now going, there will be difficulties in regard to the delivery of food and of coal.
I now come to the question of the Ruhr. I believe that we should look at Germany as a whole, and when we talk about the internationalisation of the German arsenal, we should think not only of the Ruhr, but also of Silesia. It is of fundamental importance that there should be nationalisation of German heavy industry, but at the same time I ask hon. Members to consider what would have happened if, when Hitler came into power, there had already been in existence a nationalised industry. I do not believe that the fact of nationalisation would have prevented Hitler from achieving the concentration of power which he did effect. It might indeed have been that nationalisation would have simplified his task. I urge, therefore, not only nationalisation, but international control of nationalised industry. That is the only safeguard which can prevent the concentration of power, such as a nationalised industry presents, from falling into the wrong hands. In dealing with the Russians, we should advance this proposition, that if they wish to take part in the international control of the Ruhr, they should equally accept that Silesia is a European arsenal in which we, and the Americans, should have some interest.
Above all, we must continue to think of Germany, not as a partitioned State but as a unified State. At Moscow the Foreign Secretary made a valuable advance. He approached agreement with the Russians on the future political form of Germany and at no time have the Russians been nearer to our conception of a federated Germany than then. We do not want a ramshackle confederate Germany nor a powerful, unitary, monolithic Germany. We want a federal Germany not strong enough to make war, but strong enough to support herself in her own interest, and in the interests of Europe.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
I make no apology for following the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) on the subject of Europe, and particularly on the subject of Germany. This afternoon we had from the Foreign Secretary a very realistic, if somewhat over detailed, analysis and account of the talks which have just taken place in Moscow. I was 1813 very glad that the right hon. Gentleman showed a much greater sense of realism than he, and, for that matter, his American colleague, showed in the previous brief accounts they gave of their conversations, when they tried to make out that the Moscow Conference, although it may not have agreed anything of any importance whatever, had at least been able to clarify the various differences and difficulties which separated the great Powers. So far as I can see, all the conferences which have taken place over the past two years have been steadily clarifying, and, what is more, accentuating, the difficulties and differences which separate the three Great Powers. I cannot see that for one further conference to have further clarified and accentuated these differences can in any way be regarded as progress.
After this Conference, surely, the time has come to take stock of the situation. What is the lesson that these peace talks have taught us? Surely, it is that there is no longer any reasonable doubt whatever that the Russians in their present frame of mind will play only where and whenever it suits them to do so, and that Russia will not compromise when her national interests are in the smallest degree threatened. It is no good arguing, it is no good trying sweet reason, it is no good trying the normal methods of diplomatic negotiation. The Americans tried that. Mr. Byrnes tried it very hard indeed, and it ended in abject failure. We must realise that only in a very limited field is Russian co-operation possible, and that on all major issues, such as Germany, the European Economic Commission and Austria, Russian collaboration is not to be had. So much is fairly obvious.
But may I, for a moment, try to analyse the position? What is behind this non-co-operation of the Soviet Government? First of all, obviously they believe that stalling will produce stagnation, stagnation chaos, and chaos, in its turn, Communism. But, surely, even greater hopes are nurtured in the Russian bosom. Surely, they hope and believe that the Western capitalist world will ultimately, perhaps fairly soon, collapse, that America will have a serious slump, and, following the precedent of 1930, will withdraw from Europe, leaving them a clear field. That is certainly the propaganda which has been sedulously put out by the Communist machine for a long time. And I do not think that one can altogether blame 1814 Marshal Stalin if for once he believes a bit of Moscow propaganda. In short, the Russians believe that time is on their side. But I wonder really if it is, or whether the Americans are not, in fact, a great deal stronger and more able than in the Soviet Union to stand up to the icy economic blasts that will blow in the future.
Do not let us ever forget the parlous economic state of the. Soviet Union today, which is occasionally revealed by Russian admissions in the Press and on the radio, especially when they are trying to justify gigantic demands for reparations. Do not let us forget also the position of the buffer States, Poland and the rest of the Slav group, who are getting little but a diet of party ideology and party brotherhood from Moscow, which does not do much to turn the wheels of industry and fill empty stomachs. Do not let us forget that there is, in Russia today, a growing demand for a much higher standard of living than they have got, a demand that is only too natural, bearing in mind the Russian Forces who have come back from occupation duties alongside better fed, better clothed and better paid American and British Forces. Surely, with this economic state, surely with this chaos in the buffer States of Eastern Europe and in Russia herself, reparations from Germany and Austria will not be able to supply the need for food, for agricultural and industrial equipment, even if they get all the reparations they want. And surely they will have to depend more and more on the West as the supply of reparations dries up? Signs are certainly already abundant of the Russians and the Poles turning more and more to the West for economic and financial assistance.
Therefore, I am not altogether pessimistic about ultimate hope of Russian cooperation, because I sincerely believe that there will, in the end, be some common ground between ourselves and the Soviet Union, some common ground of economic necessity, which can create the foundations for ultimate agreement. In the meanwhile, what policy should we follow, bearing in mind the urgent and chaotic state of Germany and Austria, not to speak of other countries such as Italy and Greece? It is surely important to concentrate on taking every possible measure to stop this rot in Germany and Austria, to lessen the burden on the 1815 British taxpayer by making Germany able to pay for her own imports by her manufactured goods, and to feed Italy and Greece with raw materials without which they will, to say the least, have a serious unemployment problem indeed; in short, to prevent the Russian short-term and long-term dream coming true—the short-term dream that the German abscess will burst before their own, and the long-term dream that the Western Powers will "go bust" for want of European buyers.
In view of our own needs, in view of the weakness of our own economic position, this means working more closely than ever before with the United States of America. Therefore, I would join very warmly in urging the Foreign Secretary to press ahead with the fusion of the United States-British zones in Germany, and to extend this arrangement, if possible, to the French zone. Perhaps we may hear, in the Government reply to the Debate, about any approaches and their success, to the French to come in on the fusion agreement. I should also like to see the fusion arrangements extended to Austria, in the way of which there appears to be no immense geographical obstacle.
I realise that there are difficulties on both sides due to the different methods of administration employed by the British and American authorities. We heard from the Foreign Secretary this afternoon an account of the difficulties which are likely to be created, and which are being created by the Lander governments in the American zone. But I want to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that the delay in implementing the fusion agreement has gone on too long already. Delay today is more than dangerous. It may well prove fatal to the whole future economic stability of Western Germany and, hence, of Europe as a whole. We must press on with the setting up of a joint economic administration. And if the situation warrants it, I would go so far as to support a joint political administration as well.
Fears have been expressed of the dangers of splitting Germany into two rival halves, Let us be realistic about this problem. Let us admit that Germany is already split into two rival halves, as indeed the whole world is split into two rival blocs. And anyway what is the 1816 alternative? If we do not set up this joint administration, surely, the only alternative is to let the position drift into anarchy and irretrievable chaos with the direst consequences to Western civilisation as a whole, and the greatest possible benefit to Russian ideological and physical expansion. In every way it seems to me essential that we should seize on the present moment to act in this matter, and to act quickly. Not only is there the gravest danger in delaying action on Germany and Austria, but also, in the recent American initiative in Europe, the American credit to Greece and Turkey, and the general, and frequently expressed desire of the American Government to take their full share of responsibility in European affairs, surely, we have in all this something of unprecedented importance and magnitude, and an opportunity for strengthening the forces of real democracy in Europe that may never recur if we hold back now.
We have tried for long enough to secure tripartite agreement with the Russians by the normal diplomatic methods of negotiation. I believe that the time has come to stop this abortive, time-wasting policy. At conference after conference, the right hon. Gentleman and his American colleague have spent weeks attempting this impossible task. For two years we have scrupulously avoided making any arrangements with America which could be regarded as hostile, or in any way opposed, to Russia. For two years we have avoided making any counter-bloc, to that of the Slav group. We have tried, and indeed I am glad and welcome the fact that we have tried, to avoid doing anything likely to cement the Eastern bloc. We are now faced with what is, surely, a far greater danger than cementing the Eastern bloc, the danger of a total collapse of Western Germany and, through her, of democracy in Europe. With the aid of America, it lies within our power to prevent this collapse. Russia will not play because of her own self-interest. Therefore, in these pressing issues where Soviet collaboration is not, and cannot be obtained, I would join with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington in urging that we and the Americans must act without Russia. We must concentrate all our energies on restoring Western and Mediterranean Europe. leaving the Slav group, for the 1817 moment, in the isolation it appears to desire.
When I joined the diplomatic service, two essential principles of diplomacy were impressed upon me as a new recruit. First, I was told never to attempt or threaten anything which I could not carry out, and, secondly, always to try to manoeuvre the other party into offering what one wanted to get out of him. In the policy which I have urged in this House tonight, I believe we shall be fulfilling both these principles. We shall set out to achieve that which lies in our power to achieve—the bolstering up of democracy in Western and Mediterranean Europe. And ultimately, Russia and the Slav group will find isolation most unprofitable, and will be driven by sheer economic necessity to offer to us the real co-operation that we require from them. I sincerely hope that His Majesty's Government will be courageous enough to go as far as this, believing that it is the right method and the last chance to save Europe from the slow death with which it is now threatened.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. King (Penryn and Falmouth)
For the past two years I have listened to half a dozen foreign affairs Debates, and have not opened my mouth in one of them. I seem to discern in past Debates a certain familiar pattern. There has always been one hon. Member who has made a violent attack upon the Foreign Secretary and upon the policy he represents. There has usually been one hon. Member who has retailed to the House a number of atrocity stories about what happens inside Russia, and there has also frequently been one hon. Member who decried America. I must say that I deprecate all such destructive attacks, wherever they come from. I hold, being a simple person, that he who by a careless word or by a planned attack weakens or splits the forces which now support His Majesty's present Government, not only renders no cause to peace, but also renders no cause to his own party, and, finally, renders very little good even to the cause he purports to support. Those who devote their considerable mental powers at one and the same time to attacking my right hon. Friend and to giving an uncritical appreciation of everything in Russia, frequently fail to realise how they provoke that very anti-Russianism, which they and I deprecate, just as 1818 those who seem to discern in American knock-about Capitalism the dim outlines of Utopia are doing much to create an anti-American party in this country. I know of nothing in this House—and I say this quite sincerely—more distressing than the way in which I have seen one side jibe and jeer when they hear of an alleged atrocity in some country in Eastern Europe, and the other side jibe and jeer when they hear of an alleged atrocity in Spain.
We who are in the long tradition of the Socialist Party, with a long libertarian history behind us, have the job of upholding the dignity of human kind irrespective of the label under which the insult upon it is committed. I may be told that it easy to indulge in these generalisations, but that they are, in fact, distinct alternative policies, between which the differences cannot be blurred and the issue has to be fought out to a conclusion
§ Mr. King
That is the kind of view my hon. Friend would hold. I suggest that that is not so, or, at least, not to the degree which is commonly thought. Within this House, and on this side in particular, there are some broad lines of policy which can command common assent. If a minority of hon. Members, as they have done tonight, moderate their language and make some effort to achieve that unity at home which they are so fond of preaching abroad. Before I sit down I want to indicate what those broad lines seem to me to be.
First, however, I would like to say a word on three subjects. The first is the American incursion into Greece and Turkey. I am not concerned for the moment to attack or to defend their policy. It is too early to do that; it depends upon the way in which the money they are providing is spent. I would make one comment on a remark in the rollicking and rather inaccurate speech we had from the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) who, I am sorry to say, is not here. He condemned what has sometimes been called the theory of the strategic vacuum. With respect to Greece, I would like to consider what he said in the context of present American policy. There are plenty of my hon. Friends who urge that British interference in and responsibility for Greek affairs should be diminished; I 1819 have much sympathy with the view, I do not think anyone, not even the authors of British policy there, was completely satisfied with the results. But the fallacy lay in the remedy, which seemed to me to be worse than the disease, for it is those same hon. Members who were most critical about what we did in Greece who seem no better satisfied with what is now happening there. If those who with so much vigour urged British withdrawal condemn equally the American incursion, it seems to me that their original criticism, or at least their original remedy, is very largely stultified.
There is one other popular catch-phrase on which I should like to comment. Peace, it is said, depends upon the unity of the "Big Three." I have heard that many times, on this side of the House as well as that. If that is so, one's instinctive comment is, "God help us." That is not to say that we should not do all we can to promote unity, but those who use such phrases seem to me to have looked back into history very little. I cannot, offhand, think of one single example of a triple affiance which either endured or in fact made any contribution to lasting peace. Surely the whole of Socialist foreign policy, about which we hear so much, has been a condemnation of the idea that the peace of the world depends upon the linking up of sovereign States. Emphasis has been placed and rightly placed upon that collective security with which, in my view, triple, quadruple or quintuple alliances are quite incompatible.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Is my hon. Friend aware that in the foreign policy on which the Labour Party won the General Election the unity of the "Big Three" was stressed as the foundation of the whole policy?
§ Mr. King
I am quite aware of that and I know that my hon. Friend is very fond of quoting from the pamphlet entitled "Let us face the future." He brings it out in almost every foreign policy Debate. I had great faith in that pamphlet, but the future we were rightly invited to look into is now the past, and I would now ask my hon. Friend to look into a further future.
§ Mr. Zilliacus rose—1820
§ Mr. King
Later on—perhaps the hon. Member will have another chance.
The next catch-phrase which I want to take up is, "We must have faith in U.N.O." I know the Government have also used that phrase. If it is meant that we should have faith in U.N.O. as it is now, then I have no faith in U.N.O., nor I think has anybody. It is in fact nothing far short of a power-political propaganda scramble. If on the other hand, it is meant have faith in the U.N.O. which might yet be, a U.N.O. rid of the veto, with its own police force, not dependent upon the Big Three, but equipped with sovereign power from each of its members, then of course support U.N.O. But that is not always what is meant. I earnestly hope that we shall not become as hypocritical about it, as in fact we did about the League of Nations, and attribute to it powers which it does not possess and, under its present constitution cannot possess and was never intended to possess.
Are there then any broad principles upon which the House could find unity? I think the answer is, "Yes." It is good sometimes to consider foreign policy on a long-term and not on a short-term basis. We might even do well to remember that, even if all the problems outstanding between Russia, America and ourselves were solved in a moment, we must not imagine that we should have achieved anything permanent, because others equally stubborn and equally dangerous would emerge. Therefore it is well to look ahead and see whether there is even the remote possibility of a long-term lasting solution. I do not think any hon. Member of this House would disagree with my first statement, that the only final conclusion to our problems must be world government. Equally, I am conscious that while many would accept that theory, they will say that it is wildly impracticable. I am inclined to agree. I see only one possibility, at the moment, by which a world Government could emerge, that is, if the world goes Communist. Given depressions in this country and America that is not impossible. If the choice is to lie between a world in which atomic war takes place and a world completely Communist the choice is not so easy as one might think. However, in the present state of opinion that kind of world Government is unthinkable. Therefore, we must ask ourselves whether, if we cannot obtain a 1821 world Government in one bite, can we do it in two, three, four or five bites? Is there any form of regional grouping which will form an approach towards that world Government?
I read with great interest, as I am sure did many of us, the pamphlet entitled, "Keep Left." [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to know that I have got so much applause from the other side of the House, from which a pale imitation has just emerged. In that pamphlet, there is one germ of a policy which would do something to heal the wounds of Europe, restore economic prosperity and incidentally do something within our own party to close the fissure we must all try to narrow, and not to widen. I was delighted to read, in that pamphlet, a plea, mitigated it is true, for a united Socialist Europe. The authors write;prosperity and scarcity depends upon Europe. We are working towards the economic union of European States.Many of us have been working towards that for some time. I was, therefore, glad to welcome that view, and similar views expressed by the I.L.P., for whom I have great respect.
Beyond the idea of regional groupings of Europe the possibility of African and Asiatic groupings is by no means to be neglected. We remember, in this connection, the Prime Minister's own statement in 1939—he did have some views on foreign affairs even before "Keep Left" was written—that Europe must federate or perish. Then there was the resolution of the T.U.C. in 1921 to a similar effect. I remember listening, too, to the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this year's Budget when he declared that the slow recovery of the non-dollar world was our major misfortune, and if more of what we wanted could be purchased outside the hard currency area that would solve, or go a long way towards solving, our difficulties. I want to suggest to the House that European problems can be solved in no other way. In the economic sphere, demands for transport, for shipping, for raw materials, as we all know, are not much less urgent than the demands for food, and are urgently demanding more joint consideration than they are at present receiving. In 1939 nearly all European Governments had the spectre of mass unemployment before them and behind them, and now starvation is also not far off. This seems to me to be the 1822 one moment in history when a real appeal for a degree of functional unity, if not organic union, in Europe could be made with some hope of success. All, or nearly all, European Governments are Socialist or near-Socialist, and dependent upon international trade. They are dedicated to planning for full employment. If they plan in isolation there is stark disaster ahead.
Lastly, the question which must come to everybody's mind when we discuss this subject is: are our feet on the ground? It is not often that the desirability of the end I have described is even disputed. What is disputed is whether or not it is practicable. That is where the argument lies. I was interested to see that Count Coudenhove Calergy, an American historian of repute and of European extraction, had recently circulated almost every M.P. in Europe. It is interesting to observe his results when he asked all European M.P.s the question whether the member was in favour of establishing European federation within the framework of U.N.O. In answer to that question there were 612 members who said "yes"; 12 who said "no." It is of some interest to see that 86 French Deputies said "yes" and among them was the President of the French Republic, the Minister of War, and Dr. Schumann, founder of M.R.P. Of this House, 63 members of the British Labour Party said "yes" and 34 Conservatives; in the Italian Parliament, one-third, in which there were six Communists; three Greek ex-Prime Ministers; and since that time another 100 members of Parliament all over Europe have concurred. I quote that only to show that there is a growing body of opinion which in my view is in favour of some such process. Europe's peace is the safest guarantee alike of Russian prosperity and of American progress. But this has got to be an open union. Hitler made an appeal to claustrophobia. We make the opposite appeal. We unite against no one but in order to preserve our lives against economic and political ills which can be removed in no other way.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
; The hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. King) always makes a thoughtful contribution to the Debate with some part of which, at any rate, it would be possible for hon. Members on this side of the 1823 House to agree. In spite, however, of this and other notable contributions by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), I agree with him when he says that on the whole this has been a most depressing Debate. It began with the Foreign Secretary telling us the sad tale of the failure of the Moscow Conference, and that failure was reinforced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) who followed.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
My right hon. Friend did not use the word "failure" in speaking of the Moscow Conference.
§ Mr. Hogg
I did not say that he did. I think I said that he described the failure. There followed a number of speeches, the only common characteristic of which was an exceedingly doubtful forecast of the future. I again find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Devonport—I hope that I have caught him aright—when he claimed that the reason for this sense of frustration was largely due to the absence of any clear definition of what our conception is as to the part which our own country should play in the world of the future. I think it is the absence of such a conception which has led to the confusion of this Debate, and the only encouraging feature which I saw, with which perhaps the hon. Member for Devonport would not agree, was the almost complete absence of any single point of view in the party opposite, which, at any rate, freed us from having to listen to those moral lectures to which we used to be subjected in the early months of this Parliament.
I think we should address ourselves to the very question which the hon. Member for Devonport put to himself. I agree again with him that it is no good talking in this connection about our policy being founded on adherence or loyalty to the United Nations organisation It may be that that is our policy, but loyalty to U.N.O. is no substitute for a foreign policy any more than loyalty to Parliament is a substitute for a home policy. U.N.O. is a constitutional structure and it enables us to discuss our problems but not to formulate our points of view. However strong the constitutional structure we are able to build up, we shall still have to have a foreign policy in which we will 1824 pursue the purposes of this country in order to defend its interests and to enable it to fulfil its moral destiny It is not the least bit of good seeking to avoid the ultimate answer to this question by words with which most of us are prepared to agree loyally to support the world constitution which we are trying to set up. As it seems to me, there are two possible answers to the question posed by the hon. Member for Devonport apart from the answer given by those who seek aid and comfort in friendship with other countries to the exclusion of our own interests, amongst whom I do not for the most part include hon. Members opposite and amongst whom I do not include the hon. Member for Devonport.
Apart from them, there are two possible points of view about the part which our country ought to play in the future of the world, and both start from a frank recognition of the same urgent realities of the present situation—a recognition of the consequences of war upon our nation, its straitened resources, its limited manpower, the needs of its domestic situation, and its economic shortages. These are the realities from which we start, although we proceed from that point to very different conclusions. The conclusion which one set of people draws from those premises and that which I think I discern in the speech of the hon. Member for Devonport, whose views differ, I think, less from the radical little Englandism of his respeoted father than either would be honoured or prepared to admit. The first of those views is that we must cut and run in general from our commitments, provided we can do so in an orderly manner. That view was put forward very cogently in a recent pamphlet by a colleague of mine, Professor G. D. H. Cole, entitled "Labour's Foreign Policy." He said:There are at present two, and two only, Great Powers in the world in the historic sense of that term. They are, of course, the United States and the Soviet Union. It can be shown conclusively that Great Britain no longer has the resources needed for playing the part without certain disaster.He continued:This is the basis upon which I have argued that, morals apart, we must settle with India, and we must come to terms with political independence movements wherever they appear. It is also the ground on which we must come to terms with the Soviet Union.1825 The hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport embroidered on that theme this evening by saying that we must clear out of Germany, abandon the Middle East and cut our commitments in other parts of the world. That is a formidable case because there is no doubt that our resources are straitened in exactly the way he maintained, and there is the greatest possible danger in hanging on to commitments which we are no longer able to honour. Nevertheless, I believe that that view is a fundamentally mistaken one of the part which this country has to play in the world. I believe it is a view which is certain to lead to disaster, and above all things, to lead to a third world war, and one which is, in fact, a dishonourable view.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport complained when my right hon. Friend spoke of degenerate intellectuals, but having regard to the policy which he proposed I was a little surprised that he should resent it. What could be more dishonourable at the present time than to clear out of Germany completely, believing that the United States would shoulder our burden for us as they have done in other parts of the world? For 25 years our criticism of United States policy has been that they have refused to undertake their share of responsibility. There can be no honour in, and no respect for, a country which, having levelled that criticism with reason against one of its great Allies, proceeds to cut its own commitments and run away from its own responsibilities at the moment when suffering and difficulty tempt it to do so.
§ Mr. Foot
If the hon. Gentleman does not think it is dishonourable for the British Government to have run out on 1826 their financial commitments in Greece and Turkey, would he withdraw the word "dishonourable" as applied to a proposal that we should get out of our financial commitments in Germany, which I think is much the same thing?
§ Mr. Hogg
I have always understood that we carried out our financial commitments in regard to Greece. I do not think the hon. Member is doing a service by trying to avoid the real fundamental difference of opinion which exists between us, which I am trying to state. I believe that this policy is dishonourable, and more than that, I believe that it is going to be disastrous. The hon. Member complains that our present policy would lead to subservience to America, but where would the policy which he recommends lead? It would lead to far greater subservience to America. If America is to undertake our burden in Germany, or is to undertake our burdens in the Middle East, and we are to clear out, it does not mean that our interests in Germany or the Middle East will disappear. It only means that we are incapable of protecting them and have committed them over to America, and that we shall be bound to do exactly what America desires.
If we desire our foreign policy to be independent, we must remain a great Power. I believe it is worth a great deal of sacrifice. I say this to hon. Members opposite: Governments have to undergo unpopularity, even from their own supporters, to do what they believe is ultimately in the interests and for the honour of their country, and in a matter of that kind, I shall be happy to support them, even against their own supporters, if they stand by the interests of this country as a great Power. A policy of abandonment of our commitments, in the way proposed, would certainly lead to another war. I can imagine no more certain way of precipitating the differences which at present exist between the United States and Russia, than that the great conglomeration of economic, military and territorial interests, which at present make up the power and wealth of the British Commonwealth and Empire, should be liquidated and left, like a carcase, to be pecked by the other great Powers of the world, I can imagine nothing more certain to lead to disaster. It is a policy of cowardice, and for that reason I condemn the policy put forward by the hon. Member.
1827 But at least I agree with him in this, that our foreign policy must be based upon the necessity of maintaining an adequate standard of life for 47 million people in these Islands. I do not believe that a policy of abandonment of our commitments all over the world—the disintegration of the British Commonwealth and Empire and the refusal to honour our commitments—will make it possible for more than about 20 million people to live in this country. It is because I believe that the view of our country's role held in all sincerity by the hon. Member, spells the greatest ethnological disaster its people can ever undergo, that I for one, and, I believe, all my hon. Friends, condemn it. We have trodden the way that leads to greatness, and back along that path there is no return. We have bitter sufferings to undergo, and many differences must divide us while we undergo them—more is the pity—but about this let us be quite clear, that only by Great Britain remaining great and a great Power in the world, in the true and historic sense of the term, can there be peace for the nations of the earth, and prosperity for the people of this country.
§ 9.54 P.m.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker (Smethwick)
I could, if I were unfair, content myself with commenting on the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) by commencing with the sentence with which he himself started his speech, namely, that up till now this has been a depressing Debate. But I think that would be less than just to him. I would like to follow him into the question of the cost of our policy in Germany. I agree with him that it is a prime national interest of ours to fulfil our commitments in Germany. I regard that as the key to the recovery of Europe which I believe, when it comes, will alter the entire balance of the world. However, although I agree that we must meet our commitments in Germany to the full out of our own resources, I cannot agree that it is possible to meet our commitments in Germany out of resources which we have not got, and that is what we are doing to a considerable extent at the moment. We are, in fact, borrowing American dollars to spend in America on American wheat to go to Germany. A large part of our financial commitments in the world come from the cost of our policy 1828 in Germany. It is difficult to disentangle the figures exactly, but I think about half of our total Government overseas expenditure is due to expenditure in Germany, and something like a quarter of our dollar deficit on the balance of trade is due to expenditure in Germany.
I do not think that is a possible position to continue. And I use the word "possible" in the strict sense of physically possible. It could not in any case go on beyond the end of the loan from America. We are using the loan to quite an important extent to pay for this policy in Germany. So it is impossible for long in the physical sense and incidentally, of course, it makes our loan run down quicker than it otherwise would do. To some extent as well it is bad for the world. I have a nightmare feeling that we are building up the same economic position in Europe that we did after the first world war—borrowing dollars from America, lending them to Germany, creating a completely topsy-turvy and top-heavy economy which, when the American slump comes, will be catastrophic. The American slump, without such a development, would not be so catastrophic. After the first world war we did this by private borrowing in the main; now we are doing it by Government borrowing and that, in a way, makes it worse because Governments, much more than private people, ought to know what they are doing with their money. [Laughter.] Well, they ought to know the total effect of their actions. Individuals can be forgiven if they do not know that all their actions will end in a slump; Governments certainly ought to know.
Why is there this automatic assumption on the part of hon. Members opposite that the Americans are to have a slump? They produce no evidence at all. They assume it because they want it.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I would not assume it; I think the future is unpredictable. In the main, however, the Americans are behaving as they did after the first war and after that war they had a slump. Therefore, it is probable, to put it no higher, that they will have another.
One other point I would like to mention, which has not been mentioned in this Debate so far I think, is in connec- 1829 tion with the future organisation of Germany. It seems to me we are in some danger of having too much decentralisation in the fused zones we are setting up, and which we hope will ultimately lead to a single Germany. It is quite natural that the Americans prefer complete decentralisation and federation. That is what they have grown up to know about. But why they want to foist on any other country a system which is almost impossible to work in their own country, I cannot understand. The Secretary of State said we had drawn on our experience of Canada and Australia inside our own Commonwealth in suggesting and formulating the set-up inside the fused zone. That is to some extent a false analogy. Those Dominions were made up of units that were originally separated and then brought together; Germany was originally a unit which has been broken up into Lander. I am frightened that, if we go too far, we shall get an emotional desire for centralisation in Germany that will be dangerous and recreate the conditions which occurred under Bismarck. The desire for centralisation, which is a natural and neutral desire, gets tied up with nationalism and dislike of foreigners and becomes a bad and dangerous thing. I am a little frightened that, if we overdo the decentralisation, we shall end up with the same sort of dangers that came out of Bismarck's Germany—
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.