§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 11.10 a.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
Let me begin by joining in the general welcome to the Foreign Secretary on his return to the House after a well-deserved and much needed holiday. He and a good many others on the Government Front Bench have had a long spell—eight years or more; they used to work very hard in my day, and no doubt they have been working very hard since. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, in welcoming him back from his holiday, we feel that there would be no great harm to the public interest if further and prolonged holidays were taken, not only by himself, but by those of his colleagues who sit with him.
I understand that it will very shortly be in order on Foreign Office Debates to deal with the question of Ireland. I am sure everyone will say that if that should come to pass, it will be an Hibernian corollary to an arrangement between the two countries by which neither of them are to regard themselves as foreigners. I have still some hopes—and I do not intend to go into the merits—as far as I can follow the matter, because it requires an effort of mental gymnastics, that the policy of the Dublin Government is that Ireland must be partitioned together and thus excluded into the 704 British Commonwealth. If that were so, any Ruling you might have to give in the near future, Mr. Speaker, as to its place in Foreign Office Debates would not only be as wisely considered as all your Rulings are, but would also be thoroughly in harmony with the Irish way of looking at things. For myself, I shall not fret unduly, if it all works out in a happy and agreeable manner. There may be larger groupings—in conection with which I shall make some remarks later—than we can see in our present situation, and still less prescribed groupings in which the old feuds of past centuries will find no place. I must, however, warn the Government that there are several serious questions of jurisprudence and international law which are beyond our control, and which may very well hamper the loose and casual arrangements which they have made.
When I come to the foreign policy of the Government as a whole, I naturally find myself confronted with some of the same difficulties as those apparent in the Foreign Secretary's speech, namely, that the topics are so varied and wide, and that there are so many different separate countries and theatres to be discussed, that it is very difficult to have a general theme. I see that the right hon. Gentleman has been criticised for a lack of a general theme. I do not admit that the criticism was justified. At any rate, if he is to be guilty of dealing with matters in compartments on such a Debate, I shall place myself in the dock at his side.
In the course of the remarks I wish to make, I should like, if it were possible, to begin by dwelling on matters on which we agree. I must observe, however, that since the Socialist Government came into office, the Opposition have been treated with extreme disdain and altogether excluded from the slightest share in the Government's councils on Foreign Affairs. It is the more remarkable when we remember that we have just emerged from a mortal struggle in which so many of us on both sides were colleagues and comrades for more than five years.
It might have been thought that some sense of continuity, some form of consultation with the Opposition, would 705 have been sought by those who are now in power, especially when they represent less than half the nation and less than half the national effort needed to win the victory. Certainly this aspect of the Socialist conduct of affairs falls very far below the standard set by American democracy. We have seen, for instance, how the bi-partisan principle in foreign policy was respected even throughout the hard-fought clashes of the late Presidential election. We have seen how immediately after the election was over the President invited Mr. John Foster Dulles, in the regrettable absence of Mr. Marshall through the need of a serious operation, from which we all rejoice to hear he is recovering, to fill temporarily the position of the United States chief representative at the United Nations meeting in Paris, although his name had been mentioned in a manner not to be ignored, as the Republican Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if Mr. Dewey had been successful. That is a remarkable instance of the length to which the Americans, who conduct their affairs with so much vigour and tenacity, are able, in determining who are to have the offices in the State and who are to have the particular policies in home affairs, to deal with subjects of common interest to the life of the nation as a whole on an altogether higher plane. I think they reach a very high level on these matters in the United States.
But here the Government have used their victory only to ignore and brush aside all political forces not included in their own circle. I should never have believed that after the ordeals of the late war had been undergone unitedly the partly which I have the honour to lead, and the Liberal Party, should have been treated in such a high-handed fashion—[Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but the country does not laugh at this attitude. I hope the day will not come when there are no Liberals in the House of Commons. Certainly during the period of the Conservative Government, after the National Coalition, I invited the Prime Minister to come with me to Potsdam, and in letters which I wrote to him I offered the closest consultation and fullest information to him and to the Foreign Secretary in all matters of Foreign Affairs.
When I look back, as I can, with my long memory, on the relations in foreign affairs which subsisted between the 706 Liberal Government of 1914 and the Conservative Opposition of those days, relations which were maintained even while party bitterness had almost reached the limits of civil war in Ulster, I cannot but marvel at the gulf which, in their self-sufficiency, arrogance and conceit, our present rulers have opened and maintained between themselves and those who lately led them forward through the years of storm. It is too late now for this Parliament, which is in its closing phase, but I say that should we become responsible at any future time we should not, I hope, follow the bad example which present Ministers have set in matters which are above domestic party politics.
However, we have not allowed this odd and surly treatment to influence or deflect our judgment and actions on the great questions affecting the common cause, which is still under challenge and in jeopardy throughout the world. On the contrary, we have given the Government steady support, not only in foreign affairs, but on questions of defence, with which foreign policy is inseparably interwoven. We have never hesitated to give them that support. Such, however, is the temper of the Socialist Party that neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Secretary has ever dared or deigned to say as much as "Thank you" for 3½ years of unfailing assistance, both in Debate and in the Lobby, in all these spheres which we regard as above ordinary party politics. But this churlishness to Conservatives and Liberals, has not shielded the Foreign Secretary, as he might have hoped, from many reproaches from his own Left Wing. There, the Communists and the crypto-Communists, and "fellow travellers," and the like, maintain their unceasing cacophonous chorus of abuse against the Foreign Secretary.
There is the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), who spoke last night, and who was reported last week as saying—and I suppose this was the greatest insult he could conceive—that the policy of the Foreign Secretary was only "Winston and water," adding that in later manifestations there were "larger doses of Winston." I wish to come to the rescue of the Foreign Secretary. I assure the House that I have not had any conversation with him, except casually, on social occasions—[Laughter.] Yes, social occasions cannot wholly be excluded from the contacts 707 of ordinary daily life—since the early days when he took office. I have managed to keep going without that privilege. But there is an unintentional compliment in the gibes of the hon. Member for Gateshead, which I value all the more because it is unconscious and involuntary. What he really means is that the policy of the Foreign Secretary has been to pursue, as far as he could, the major themes for which we all laboured and fought together during the war.
What are these major themes? The first is an ever closer and more effective relationship or, as I like to call it, "fraternal association," with the United States. We are working with them on all the larger questions all the time all over the world, or almost all over the world. I rejoice in this, because in the ever closer unity of the English-speaking world lies the main hope of human freedom and a great part of the hope of our own survival. Britain, who fought the war from start to finish, was deeply exhausted at its close, and the United States have rightly not hesitated to give vital financial and economic support to a Socialist Government, whose principles they abhor, in order to enable our island to regain its strength and play an effective part among the nations.
Further steps of immense consequence have been taken. The ever-increasing unification of the military forces of both countries; the interchange of officers; the sharing of military knowledge; the standardisation of text books and of weapons, for some of which I pressed at Fulton, has made continuous progress. We gather from what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday that the United States may well now be prepared to do what they have never done before, or dreamed of doing before, namely, give a guarantee to Western Europe against aggression, coupled with practical measures of military collaboration. It is a tremendous event. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said last night, if such an event had occurred in 1940, or in 1939, the whole tragic history of the world might well have been changed, and possibly a catastrophe might have been prevented.
§ Mr. Churchill
Certainly, in maintaining the League of Nations, but we have to bear in mind what one's view would have been had one been an American in those days, America having left Europe to conquer and develop a vast continent, and having, as their main principle, to keep out of European entanglements and quarrels. As I say, I rejoice at what has occurred. The most remarkable of all the measures of collaboration is the stationing of American bomber squadrons in our bases in East Anglia.
§ Mr. Churchill
The significance of such a step has not been lost on anyone, as the hon. Member's interjection shows, least of all on any potential enemy to the interests of this country. I do not wonder at all that the Communists continually attack this measure, so far as they have any power. I pay my tribute to the Government, and particularly the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, for having had the wisdom and courage to make such a far-reaching step possible, a step which, so far as I know, is unprecedented in times of peace.
While I am on the subject of Anglo-American amity and brotherhood I should like to. refer to General Eisenhower, who laboured so faithfully for that cause throughout the war. I was sorry to read the newspapers attacks which have been made in this country upon his loyalty to the common cause, as evidenced by the book which he has recently published in America, and which will, I trust, soon be available to British readers. These have been replied to by my old friends the wartime Chiefs of Staff and Lord Ismay, and I should like in the interest of Anglo-American relationships to add my testimonies to theirs. I did not always agree with General Eisenhower on strategic questions, and I shall take the opportunity of expressing my views if my life and the life of the Government are suitably prolonged.
I cannot do better than, with the permission of the House, read a personal telegram which I sent. Words spoken at the moment are always better than words worked up some years after. I like to be judged by the words I spoke at each 709 particular moment. On 9th May, 1945, a few days after the surrender of all the German armies, I sent a telegram to President Truman which I will read to the House, because I know my words will be carried to every part of the American public and facilitate the clearing of the atmosphere in regard to this particularly unfortunate episode. This is what I wrote:May 9, 1945. Let me tell you what General Eisenhower has meant to us. In him we have had a man who set the unity of the Allied Armies above all nationalistic thoughts. In his headquarters unity and strategy were the only reigning spirits. Unity reached such a point that British and American troops could be mixed in the line of battle and large masses could be transferred from one command to the other without the slightest difficulty. At no time has the principle of alliance between noble races been carried and maintained at so high a pitch. In the name of the British Empire and the Commonwealth, I express to you our admiration of the firm, farsighted and illuminating character and qualities of General of the Army Eisenhower.We on this side of the House are also in agreement with the Government upon the broad outlines, though there are many points of difference in administration, of the policy which the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues have pursued towards defeated Germany. We congratulate them upon the success, surpassing expectation, of the prodigious airlift to feed the people of Berlin. The issues which this famous achievement have raised are far more important than the technical success, magnificent as it has been. It has taught the peoples of Germany on either side of the Iron Curtain, in a way which no speeches, arguments or promises could do, that their future lies in ever-closer association with the Western world.
The recent elections in Berlin have been a proof of the resurrection of the German spirit, and are as a beacon casting its light upon the minds of a mighty race without whose effective aid the glory of Europe cannot be revived. I earnestly hope that nothing will be done by the Government, or so far as we can deter it, by our Allies, to chill or check this vast evolution of German sentiment. It is for these reasons that I look forward to the day when all this hateful process of denazification trials and even the trials of leaders or prominent servants of the Hitler régime may be brought to an end. At any rate, I should like to put this point. Surely enough blood has been 710 shed. I would not take another life because of the quarrels, horrors and atrocities of the past.
I trust that the demolition or destruction of German factories and plants, except those which are directly and exclusively concerned with war-making—because we must not depart from our resolve to carry out the disarmament of Germany, not only in the military, but in the munitions sphere—will be brought to an end at the earliest possible moments. The right hon. Gentleman has reminded us that it was rather hoped that two years would suffice. I hope we shall continue to use our influence and resources, such as they are, to make the German people or the states and principalities of Germany able to govern themselves and earn a good livelihood as soon as possible. I am hoping that the states of Germany—Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg, Hanover and others—may regain much of their old individuality and rights. I am sure that it is along that road that both France and Britain will find it easiest to advance, and it is along that road that reconciliation and healing will, in the first instance, be most easily found across the former lines of battle. Individuality should be restored and revived before any degree of structural unity can be achieved. I shall show presently how all this fits in with the European movement.
In all this process of reconciliation with Germany lies the opportunity for France to regain her place in the leadership of Europe. It is time that the thousand-year-old quarrel, which has ruined Europe and almost destroyed world civilisation, should be ended. The accounts can never be squared. Vengeance is the most costly and dissipating of luxuries. Even retributive justice on so vast a scale is beyond the sphere and competence of human emotions. Let France, as the most interested, take the lead in bringing back the Germanic peoples to the European family. In this way alone can they overcome their own failure and regain their place in the world. I feel we have a right to offer this sincere counsel to the French people, at whose side for more than 40 years the British nation has struggled and suffered. When I spoke in this sense at Zurich nearly two and a half years ago, it was not well received in France, although they 711 are always very kind to me. But I find a different mood today. I rejoice to find it. Be careful that the Government do not chill it by any step they take.
This brings me naturally to what is called Western Union, in respect of which the greatest credit will rest upon the right hon. Gentleman and the Cabinet of which he is the Foreign Secretary. It brings me not only to Western Union but to the wider United Europe movement which has been its herald and will always be its friend, helper and servitor. The swiftest means of bringing Germany back into Western Europe—preferably, as I have said, on a basis of states—may well be found in this European movement in the first instance. It may well be. And when one considers countries like Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and so on, many German states are much larger and more powerful, much more numerous in population than these, and I cannot see why there should not be a continuous confluence of ideas and goodwill between them all.
Here, when we come to the European movement, I must part company with the Government and the Foreign Secretary. The attitude of the Socialist Party under their guidance has hitherto been far from creditable and below the level of these important world and human events. Petty personal jealousies and party rancour have marred their actions and falsified their principles. We all remember how the Government and their party organisation tried to wreck The Hague conference in May, and how they failed. Last week, at Question Time, I complained about the composition of the delegation which the Government had sent to the Conference on European Unity which is still meeting in Paris. The Government seem to be absolutely and obstinately determined to keep this movement towards the unity of so many people who are divided by such grievous feuds, as a party preserve for the Socialists.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington yesterday referred to this in scathing terms, and dwelt upon the folly and conceit of such an idea. The movement towards European unity, as he said, cannot be a monopoly of any party; least of all should it at this moment become the monopoly of a party which, in many parts of Europe, 712 has shown in a most lamentable fashion its inherent weakness when exposed to the serious attacks of Communism. The movement towards European unity can only achieve success through the reconciliation and good will of whole peoples, irrespective of their internal political or party bias, divisions or labels.
We are not seeking in the European movement—and I speak as one of the Presidents; I share that honour with M. Blum and with the Prime Minister of Italy and the Prime Minister of Belgium, M. Spaak—to usurp the functions of Government. I have tried to make this plain, again and again, to the heads of the Government. We ask for a European assembly without executive power. We hope that sentiment and culture, the forgetting of old feuds, the lowering and melting down of barriers of all kinds between countries, the growing sense of being "a good European"—we hope that all these will be the final, eventual and irresistible solvents of the difficulties which now condemn Europe to misery. The structure of constitutions, the settlement of economic problems, the military aspects—these belong to governments. We do not trespass upon their sphere. But I am sure there is no government wholeheartedly loyal to the idea of European unity which would not be invigorated and sustained by the creation of a European assembly such as we asked for at The Hague, and such as is now proclaimed and asked for by three, if not four, out of the five Powers which now comprise the Western Union.
For this reason the composition of the British delegation to the Conference which is now proceeding came as a shock. It came as a shock not only to a great body of opinion in both parties in this island, but to all those powerful elements of European opinion to which we understood so many British Labour men hoped to make their special appeal. Nothing could have been more astonishing than the appointment of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster as the leader of the delegation after the line he had taken and the speeches, quoted yesterday -by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, which he had delivered recently. He has been the great opponent of the idea of this European movement—
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Dalton)
§ Mr. Churchill
—except on Socialist party lines. In commenting on this appointment by the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary used some guarded language indicating how it was his duty to take anyone who was put alongside him.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I hope I did not convey to the right hon. Gentleman that I was not a party to the appointment of my right hon. Friend, because I have absolute confidence in him in doing the job.
§ Mr. Churchill
The right hon. Gentleman naturally has to express his confidence, but he should read carefully what he said, because a more chilling welcome to a comrade and colleague I have rarely heard expressed. I say that the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman after the speeches he has made—unexplained, unretracted in any way—wore the aspect of nothing less than a resolve to sabotage the whole conception—
§ Mr. Churchill
—of European unity except on a Socialist Party basis. I have also criticised on different grounds the appointment of Sir Edward Bridges. There is no man I respect more, but he is the head of the Civil Service and I do not think the Prime Minister should have brought him into this sphere, which is necessarily controversial. The right hon. Gentleman said at Question time that it was quite normal for Governments to employ civil servants when they have Government representatives going to conferences. He said how my right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary had often—invariably, in fact—taken his civil servants and advisers from the Foreign Office with him. The right hon. Gentleman completely misses the point. It is an absurd argument to use in this connection. Of course, civil servants may go to conferences to assist Ministers, but to take the head of the Civil Service and make him a delegate to meet the former Prime Ministers of other countries, and so forth, in a matter about which opinions differ in parties and between parties, is an abuse for which there is only one precedent that I know of, and that is not a good one.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would apply that criticism also to the representation of this country at the United Nations, where the delegation has frequently been led by Sir Alexander Cadogan? I have never heard the right hon. Gentleman object to that.
§ Mr. Churchill
He is the servant of the Foreign Office and is expressing the views of the Foreign Office—a diplomat. I think the head of the Civil Service stands in a special position and that it was a very unfair thing to induce him to act in such a capacity.
We do not know what line the Chancellor of the Duchy is going to take. He is to make a speech and we shall be glad to hear it. Far be it from me to set aside any hopes of his reform or of a modification in the attitude of the Government towards the consultative and deliberative European Assembly. I await his reply. I am willing to judge his attitude by it. It is never too late to mend, or, if I may, on account of his ecclesiastical upbringing, use another similitude:Betwixt the stirrup and the ground He mercy sought, and mercy found.If the right hon. Gentleman feels able to make a declaration today in the sense in which I have spoken, he will improve the reputation of the Government among the Western Allies and in the United States. If he will not, if he only goes over the old ground of the speeches he delivered to the T.U.C. and at other party meetings, the general condemnation of the Government's attitude, and of the Foreign Secretary's attitude—because it is felt that he has played a leading part in this attempt to hamper and break down the unofficial and private efforts that have been made to build up this public opinion in favour of a united Europe—will be extended and emphasised and the Chancellor of the Duchy himself will have entered another large sphere of activity only to distract, confuse and vitiate it. I hope, however, that we shall hear something encouraging from him today, not only with regard to the salvation of a single human being, but about the larger issues which concern us in Europe.
The subject of Palestine was dealt with yesterday by my right hon. Friend. There is an oft-used quotation of the 715 right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary which I will read. No doubt he has it in mind. On 13th November, 1945, in reply to a question from behind him, he said:I give my hon. Friend my personal assurance, as I gave it to one of the Jewish leaders the other day, that I will stake my political future on solving this problem, but—he added—not in the limited sphere presented to me now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 13th November, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 1934.]That was England only, without American aid. I am sure nobody wishes to take the right hon. Gentleman too seriously or too strictly at his word—I do not know who would be his successor—but I must say that no part of the Government's policy has been more marked by misjudgment and mismanagement than Palestine.
It is my belief that in the months immediately following the German capitulation we had the power and the chance to impose and enforce—I must use that word—a partition settlement in Palestine by which the Jews would have secured the National Home which has been the declared object and policy of every British Government for a quarter of a century. Such a scheme would, of course, have taken into account the legitimate rights of the Arabs, who, I may say, had not been ill used in the settlements made in Iraq, in Transjordania and in regard to Syria.
I always had in my mind the hope that the whole question of the Middle East might have been settled on the largest scale on the morrow of victory and that an Arab Confederation, comprising three or four Arab States—Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Transjordania, Syria and the Lebanon—however grouped, possibly united amongst themselves, and one Jewish State, might have been set up, which would have given peace and unity throughout the whole vast scene of the Middle East. As to whether so large a policy could have been carried into being I cannot be sure, but a settlement of the Palestine question on the basis of partition would certainly have been attempted, in the closest possible association with the United States and in personal contact with the President, by any Government of which I had been the head. But all this opportunity was lost.
716 The Socialist Party gained votes at the election by promising greater concessions and advantages to the Jews than anything to which Britain had formerly been committed. Then, when they came into office, they turned their backs on it all, raising bitter feelings of disappointment and anger. Their whole treatment of the Palestine problem has been a lamentable tale of prejudice and incapacity. When, after a year and a half of growing disorder and detestable murders of British soldiers who were only doing a philanthropic duty, it was evident that nothing could be evolved by the Government, in spite of the very large army maintained at the expense of well over £100 million a year in Palestine, I then suggested to the Government that if they could not make up their minds upon any effective policy or coherent scheme they had better return the Mandate.
They took another year, with further terrible episodes and disgraceful murders of our troops, before they acted in accordance with this advice. Then they did so. The obvious consequence of the British leaving the country was a trial of strength between the Arabs and the Jews. It seems to me very likely, although I cannot, of course, prove it, that the Foreign Secretary misjudged the relative power of the two sides, and it certainly looked on paper as if the Syrians, Egyptians and Arabs, invading from so many quarters, would win. That was not my view. During the war Lord Wavell was asked by me to express an opinion as to which side was the stronger in Palestine and unhesitatingly he said that if both sides were left to themselves the Jews would win. This is what, in fact, has happened, and it only proves how easy it would have been to have enforced an effective partition after the German defeat.
We now have a new situation. The Palestine problem is not a party question. Both parties are divided upon it. Both parties have their own views about it and it is natural, at any rate while we are in opposition, that there should be a certain latitude of opinion upon it. But whatever party we belong to, and whatever view we take, we must surely face the facts. The Jews have driven the Arabs out of a larger area than was contemplated in our partition schemes. They have established a Government which functions effectively. They have a victorious army 717 at their disposal and they have the support both of Soviet Russia and of the United States. These may be unpleasant facts, but can they be in any way disputed? Not as I have stated them. It seems to me that the Government of Israel which has been set up at Tel Aviv cannot be ignored and treated as if it did not exist.
I entirely support my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington that we should send representatives to Tel Aviv without further delay. The Russians have a very large representation, the Americans are fully represented and other countries are represented—19 countries altogether have recognised either de facto or de jure this new Government which has been set up and whose setting-up is an event in world history. Other countries are represented, and we, who still have many interests, duties and memories in Palestine and the Middle East and who have played the directing part over so many years, would surely be foolish in the last degree to be left maintaining a sort of sulky boycott.
There is a special reason in addition, which was referred to by my right hon. Friend. We have a Treaty with King Abdullah which would pledge us to come to his aid if he were attacked in Transjordania—and Transjordania goes right down, not according to the Jordan, but according to the interpretation, to the Gulf of Akaba. We have a duty to King Abdullah. It is 27 years since I proposed and supported his appointment as Emir of Transjordan. During all that time—and what a time; very few institutions are remaining which stood 27 years ago—he has acted with wisdom to his own people and with fidelity to the Allies, irrespective of the fortunes of war. We cannot remain indifferent to his fate, and treat him as we have treated the Nizam of Hyderabad.
But, if Transjordania is attacked and we are drawn in, this might bring us into direct dispute with the United States. After all the good work we did over 20 years in Palestine—and all the progress that was shown there—it would indeed be tragic if the only result we carried away, apart from the hatred and abuse of Jews and Arabs, was a deep divergence on a critical issue between us and the United States. That, indeed, would be a sorry reward for all our efforts. For 718 every reason, therefore, it is our interest to be represented at Tel Aviv as we are at Amman. It is lamentable in my opinion that this should have been so long delayed.
This question of official representation in countries with whom we have difficulties is not confined to Palestine. There is also Spain. My right hon. Friend yesterday made a constructive suggestion of high interest for including Italy in Western Europe and of an arrangement about administering the Italian Colonies, which would be under the Trusteeship of Western Europe, and settling that issue in a manner favourable to Italy. I agree with that, or some of it, but why should the Spaniards be regarded as pariahs? Italy was our foe in the war and many scores of thousands of British lives were lost at Italian hands. Immense labours were expended by us to force Italy out of the war.
I am strongly in favour of reviving our traditional friendship with Italy, but what is to be said about Spain? No British or Americans were killed by Spaniards and the indirect aid we received from Spain during the war was of immense service. Trade was precious. The use of the Algeceiras anchorage and the use of the neutral ground around Gibraltar were invaluable to us, especially in the crisis preceding the operation known as "Torch." Spain refused to facilitate the movement of Germans to take Gibraltar and enter Africa, and the way in which Hitler and Mussolini were treated by General Franco is a monumental example of ingratitude. We cannot say that Spain injured us or the United States at all in the late war. Why, then, should we be told that the Spanish people must be treated as outcasts just because they are governed by General Franco—whose Government, incidentally, have, I believe, prohibited for the time being the publication of my book in Spain, so that we are by no means joining a mutual admiration society?
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Brentford and Chiswick)
Has the right hon. Gentleman quite overlooked the fact that thousands of Spanish troops and airmen fought against our then Allies on the Eastern Front?
§ Mr. Churchill
One division was, indeed, sent to fight in Russia, but, so far as Britain and America were concerned, 719 none of our troops were killed by the Spaniards. As a matter of fact, the sending of a division of Spaniards to fight on the Russian Front, about which Stalin spoke in very contemptuous terms, was a very small thing compared with fobbing off the demands to allow German troops to come down and take Gibraltar. The hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) must have a little sense of proportion on these matters and remember how many facts there are in interplay at the same time.
I say there is certainly far more liberty in Spain under General Franco than in any of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. I do not wish to live in either set of countries and I expect I should get into trouble in both cases, but, at any rate; we must look at these facts. The great mistake is to allow legitimate objections to Franco and his form of Government to be a barrier between the Spanish people and the Western Powers with whom they have many natural ties, especially with Great Britain, with whom they have the unforgettable association of the War of Independence against Napoleon. There is the folly which, so far from leading to the downfall of Franco, has in fact, consolidated his position at every stage. I was sure it would be so. They are a proud people and rather than be spurned and dictated to by the outside world, they have given allegiance to him, which he never won before, since the Spanish war ended.
I agreed at Potsdam that Spain should not be invited to join the United Nations and I am not going to shirk any of the facts. I did so in the hope of inducing Soviet Russia to give this world instrument generous and friendly aid in support. But time has passed since Potsdam; three and a half years have passed; and I am sorry we have a different relationship with Russia from that for which we all hoped. I certainly see no reason why Spain should be excluded from the United Nations any longer. It is not for us to settle these matters alone, but I see no reason why our vote should not be cast in favour of their inclusion. Still less is it wise to withdraw Ambassadors from Spain, which was done on the authority of the United Nations, and to conduct diplomacy, as I said three years ago, through the back door, a kind of 720 black market diplomacy, because everything has to be dealt with some time or other.
I say we should send envoys without delay to Tel-Aviv and, as soon as we can obtain the consent of the United Nations, send them back to Madrid. Ambassadors are not sent as compliments but as necessities for ordinary daily use. The more difficult relations are with any country in question, the more necessary it is to have the very highest form of representation on the spot. I venture to submit to the House that I have tried to argue this with an understanding of the different points of view on this question, but in this latter occasion the key to the problem is to think about Spain and the Spanish people and not allow their welfare to be restricted or their good will estranged by prejudices against a particular man who is, after all, only a passing incident in the life of the country.
I must beg the indulgence of the House to touch for one moment upon the question of Greece. Here I will venture to address a word of friendly counsel to other countries than our own. The question of intervention by one country in the affairs of another is most anxious, doubtful and debatable, but if a great country intervenes in the affairs of a small country it should make its intervention effective. Of that I am sure. Otherwise all that happens is that it prolongs the agony. If it is thought right to go to all the criticism, opposition, expense and difficulty of intervention, it seems to me that it follows irrefutably that intervention should be on a scale and with a purpose and intent that will make it effective. Certainly when we intervened —I had the courageous support of the Foreign Secretary in those days, and my right hon. Friend was with me—we did so effectively, and for 40 days we fought the Communists in Athens with three or four divisions, and saved Athens from that hideous domination. I trust that what I have said will not give offence elsewhere.
I have only one more subject to mention. I greatly apologise to the House for having been so lengthy.
§ Mr. Churchill
While our thoughts are so constantly riveted on Berlin and the delicate day-to-day situation there, 721 we must not forget the enormous events which are taking place in China, where the advance of Communism seems to gain momentum every day. There is also particularly the question of Hong Kong. I see that some reinforcements are to be sent. I hope that it will be made quite clear that British naval, air and military forces will defend Hong Kong from any assault which may be made upon it. I cannot conceive that such an action taken in self-defence, would raise the larger issues on which the balance of European peace depends.
Finally, I wish to say one word—and it shall be only a very brief one—about the greatest topic of all which overhangs our minds, our relations with Soviet Russia. I have frequently advised that we should endeavour to reach a settlement with Russia on fundamental, outstanding questions before they have the atomic bomb as well as the Americans. I believe that in this resides the best hope of avoiding a third world war. I wish to make it clear—and this is the principal reason why I refer to this matter in the Debate—that I have never attempted to suggest the timing of such a solemn and grave negotiation. I have not the official knowledge necessary to form an opinion about that.
I wish also to make it plain, in view of what was said by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), who said that the policy of war with Russia was the policy of the Leader of the Opposition, that that is not at all the policy which I have put forward—far from it. It has always been my earnest desire, which I do not yet abandon, that a peaceful settlement may yet be reached with Soviet Russia if it is within the bounds of possibility. It is not my fault since I left office, nor do I think it is the fault of the Government, that this friendly atmosphere has not been maintained or this happy, amicable settlement reached.
I will only, venture to use words, not coined or prepared for the occasion, which express the view which I held about Russia. I will read to the House some passages from a private and personal communication which I made to Mr. Stalin on 29th April, 1945. I said this:Side by side with our strong sentiment for the rights of Poland, which I believe is shared 722 in at least as strong a degree throughout the United States, there has grown up throughout the English-speaking world a very warm and deep desire to be friends on equal and honourable terms with the mighty Russian Soviet Republic and to work with you, making allowances for our different systems of thought and government, in long and bright years for all the world which we three Powers alone can make together. I, who in my years of great responsibility have worked faithfully for this unity, will certainly continue to do so by every means in my power and in particular I can assure you that we in Great Britain would not work for or tolerate a Polish Government unfriendly to Russia. Neither could we recognise a Polish Government which did not truly correspond to the description in our joint Declaration at Yalta with proper regard for the rights of the individual as we understand these matters in the Western world.About Greece I said:In Greece we seek nothing but her friendship, which is of long duration, and desire only her independence and integrity. But we have no intention to try to decide whether she is to be a monarchy or a republic. Our only policy there is to restore matters to the normal as quickly as possible and to hold fair and free elections, I hope within the next four or five months. These elections will decide the régime and later on the constitution. The will of the people, expressed under conditions of freedom and universal franchise, must prevail; that is our root principle. If the Greeks were to decide for a republic, it would not affect our relations with them. We will use our influence with the Greek Government to invite Russian representatives to come and see freely what is going on in Greece, and at the elections I hope that there will be Russian, American and British commissioners at large in the country to make sure that there is no intimidation or other frustration of the free choice of the people between the different parties who will be contending. After that, our work in Greece may well be done.I concluded by looking at the other side. I had at that time very good relations personally with Mr. Stalin. It was just after Himmler had made overtures to the late Count Bernadotte. I had telegraphed to Russia very promptly the information. Stalin had replied:You have acted exactly as I thought you would do.That was the high point of my relationship with him. I finished, therefore, in this way:There is not much comfort in looking into a future where you and the countries you dominate, plus the Communist parties in many other States are all drawn up on one side and those who rally to the English-speaking nations and their associates or Dominions are on the other. It is quite obvious that their quarrel would tear the world to pieces and that all of us leading men on either side who had anything to do with that would be shamed before history. Even embarking on a long 723 period of suspicions of abuse and counter-abuse and of opposing policies would be a disaster hampering the great developments of world prosperity for the masses which are attainable only by our trinity.I wrote:I hope there is no word or phrase in this outpouring of my heart to you which unwittingly gives offence. If so, let me know. But do not I beg of you, my friend Stalin, under-rate the divergencies which are opening about matters which you may think are small, but which are symbolic of the way the English-speaking democracies look at life.That was my outlook and hope then, in April, 1945. It was my dearest wish. I believe that trinity of co-operation and the efforts o, these three Powers would have opened to mankind a golden age of productivity and peace, and moral and intellectual well-being. That was my outlook then. I deeply regret the reasons that exist—and they are known to us all —which make it difficult to share it and express it fully now.
§ 12.21 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Dalton)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a speech full of deeply interesting material. Whether we agree or not with all he has said, it is good that we should have in this House such speeches casting a backward light also on the very important historical events in which he played, as I have constantly maintained, a most dominating and essential part, affecting the welfare of our country and the world.
I am only going to speak about one of the many matters to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I am going to speak about the Committee sitting in Paris to study closer European union, and how we are getting on. I am also going to quote from the speech which was quoted from yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in order to make quite clear my own view as expressed some months ago, and to put this matter into better perspective than the Press at a time when they are beset, on the one hand, with a shortage of newsprint and, on the other hand, with a preference for misrepresenting Labour speakers, have so far been able to give to the public. I will reserve the quotations to the latter part of what I have to say.
The Committee in Paris is meeting in a very friendly and harmonious atmosphere, 724 which not even the Continental "Daily Mail" has been able to disrupt, though it has tried hard. I could also quote from that, were it worth while, but I think it would be a waste of space in HANSARD. Vicious attacks have been made upon myself—these I do not care about, they are as water off a duck's back. But vicious attacks have also been made by the Continental "Daily Mail" on the various persons associated with me in the British Delegation, Lord Inver-chapel, Sir Edward Bridges and Professor Wade. These attacks are not worth quoting and not worth noticing. The dog will return to its vomit by and by in the offices of the "Daily Mail."
We are conducting very friendly and constructive discussions in Paris. At the first meeting, at my proposal M. Herriot, that very distinguished French man of State, was appointed President. It was universally approved that he should occupy that position. We have been studying in our discussions in Paris the practical and detailed aspects of the problem, and various proposals that have been made from various quarters. There is a British proposal for the creation of a Council of Europe. There is a French proposal for the creation of a Consultative Assembly. There are other intermediate proposals, other suggestions made by private organisations, with some of which the right hon. Gentleman is connected.
I have made it quite clear that so far as the British Delegation is concerned—and the other delegations have agreed with us—we are happy to hear witnesses, to listen to statements of opinion, and to receive memoranda from private bodies which have views on this matter. Only yesterday Mr. Duncan Sandys and various of his colleagues were giving evidence. I was very sorry that I could not be there, but I had to be here. The day before my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. Mackay), who has played a great part in these affairs, and some of his colleagues were giving evidence. I mention these facts merely in order to illustrate our procedure. We are willing to receive evidence from responsible quarters where it is offered.
But, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary explained yesterday, we are a fact-finding body. We are, if one cares to use the term, a working 725 party. I would like to quote the words which the Foreign Secretary used yesterday about this matter. He quoted the terms of reference of the Committee, about which he said there had been some misunderstanding. The terms of reference were:To consider and report to Governments on the steps to be taken towards securing a greater measure of unity between European countries …and he went on to quote in detail. Then he said:This Committee is exploratory. It is fact-finding. It is endeavouring to find out what is in everybody's mind. It was decided at the Consultative Council—That was of Foreign Ministers——that the Committee's report should come before them at the next meeting. It is at this stage that the Governments will have to make their decisions as to what is the best form in which to develop this organisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th December, 1948; Vol. 459, c. 586.]Our purpose therefore is to prepare the way for that consideration by the Governments.
I must say a word at this point about what has been said about my colleagues there. Politicians are fair game for the flicking of cherry stones at any time, but it is, I think, rather deplorable that public attacks—
§ Mr. Dalton
May I go on? It is rather deplorable for public attacks to be made upon distinguished public servants.
§ Mr. Churchill
I made no attack of any sort or kind upon any civil servant or public servant. I have attacked the Government for bringing them into the arena of controversial policy.
§ Mr. Dalton
It is wrong to describe this as controversial policy. I repeat, the purpose of the Committee is to consider all the proposals that have been put forward and to consider them in a calm, rational and friendly atmosphere, and that is being done. I would say this about Sir Edward Bridges, who served the right hon. Gentleman as Secretary to the Cabinet. Sir Edward Bridges is a most valuable member of our team, because there is no man in this country—and when I say this, I say it deliberately, having in mind all the politicians as well 726 as civil servants—who has a better knowledge of the details and machinery of Government and how it works. He has seen it working in successive Administrations. He knows what administrative possibility exists for carrying out this or that rhetorical politician's formula. He can bring it down and relate it to the expert, capable, practical work of our British constitutional machinery. We should be very much poorer in these discussions without this expert and impartial knowledge which he brings. That is his qualification. He is an expert, and as such, he is, of course, adviser to me.
§ Mr. Dalton
Not at all a delegate. We are there, the five of us, in order jointly to contribute to the technical consideration of this matter. If I may be allowed to quote one French word it is éclaircissement, what the British call in their clumsy language "studying all the implications." I call it éclaircissement. The right hon. Gentleman speaks heroic French I know, and he will understand.
Something has been said about Sir Horace Wilson, and I regret to have that ghost of the past brought up. It is certainly most unfortunate to speak of him in the same breath as Sir Edward Bridges. But the complaint that was made about the activities of Sir Horace Wilson—and here I think the right hon. Gentleman and I were in complete agreement—when Mr. Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister was that he was taken about by Mr. Chamberlain and allowed to usurp the functions of Foreign Office experts. He was taken to Berchtesgaden and elsewhere to séances at which neither the Foreign Secretary at that time nor any Foreign Office experts were present.
But that is not the position here. The position here is that we have with us in Paris as a colleague Lord Inverchapel, who has a wider range of diplomatic knowledge than any other diplomat now living. He was Ambassador at Moscow. I think the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for his going there and, in my view, Lord Inverchapel performed a very fine task there bearing in mind all the difficulties and limitations which we all know about. More recently he has been Ambassador in Washington and he is, therefore, well aware of American feelings on these matters. Before that 727 he held a number of other important diplomatic posts. In addition to Lord Inverchapel, a most distinguished diplomat, we have Mr. Gladwyn Jebb, one of the youngest and most vital of the Foreign Office officials, who has just been promoted by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to be a Deputy Under-Secretary. With these two persons present in our delegation, Foreign Office expertise and point of view are fully represented. I say without hesitation that this is a valuable body of people who are associated with me and they are doing a good job of work in the preparation of the report that we shall finally tender. At this stage it would be wrong for me to prejudge what form the report of the Committee may take. We are in the midst of taking evidence and having discussions among ourselves.
I now propose to say a few words about the declarations of the Leader of the Opposition on this matter; this will conveniently lead on to the quotations I intend to make from what I myself have said. I do not disagree at all with what I am now going to quote. It is reported in "The Times" of 18th November that the right hon. Gentleman opened a United Europe Exhibition. The report said:Mr. Churchill said that to imagine that Europe today was ripe for either a political federation or a customs union would be wholly unrealistic.He rules out a federation and he rules out a customs union. At any rate, a customs union is now being studied by a body working under the Brussels Treaty. The difficulties of such a union for us, with our Commonwealth relationships, are very great. That indeed is obvious. But the right hon. Gentleman goes further and he says that it would be wholly unrealistic. He says the same for a political federation. The report continues:But who could say what might not be possible in the future?The right hon. Gentleman will notice a curious similarity between those, and some remarks of my own which I will quote in a moment.
§ Mr. Dalton
I am very sorry for the right hon. Gentleman but he will notice 728 it in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say:They should not underrate the progress already made in the field of inter-governmental co-operation during the last 12 months.I do not want to quote at undue length, but the right hon. Gentleman went on further to say:It might, of course, be argued that a purely deliberative Assembly without executive powers would develop into an irresponsible talking-shop, and that it would be better to leave the work of European unification to be achieved through inter-governmental negotiations.He said that was not true and dissented from that idea. It shows once again that he rejects federation and a customs union.
I have taken the precaution of bringing the official report of what 1 said at the last Annual Conference of the Labour Party. When accusations are made in vague terms and without much detail as to my being an enemy of Western Union and so forth, I always wait to hear exactly what speech is cited. I have a note of what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington yesterday. He cited a speech which I made in May at Scarborough. Some of my hon. Friends heard that speech, but naturally the Press were only able to report part of it. It was a lengthy speech and I am going to quote only a few bits of it. It was a winding-up speech at the end of a fairly lively debate on a wide range of subjects, including federal union, common provisions for defence and a project for a Socialist United States of Europe. At the end, on behalf of the National Executive of the Labour Party, I wound up. I touched upon a number of these matters in what I had to say. It has been stated in the "Continental Daily Mail" that I am a notorious arch-enemy of Western Union. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford does not read the Press which supports the Opposition. He ought to read the "Continental Daily Mail." It has been saying the most scandalous things.
§ Mr. Dalton
I get it too, as a precaution.
I want to quote in order to put this matter in proper focus. I always like 729 to be judged by the words I spoke at the time. These are the words I spoke at the time. I was not a Member of the Government. I was speaking responsibly and I said then just the same as I do now. I was speaking on behalf of the National Executive of the Labour Party winding-up this debate. I am quoting from the official report of the Labour Conference at Scarborough. I said:… this conception of the United States of Europe, which has been in the minds of imaginative and noble thinkers throughout many generations is a constructive idea which rallies almost universal support when put in general terms. It is right that we should lift up our eyes towards the high mountains, from which we draw our hope. It is also important that we should keep our feet upon the ground in our approach to them.The phrase "Feet on the ground" has now gone into the title of a document which has been issued from Transport House. Then I referred to what had already been done in very similar terms to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman which I have just quoted. I referred to what had been done in regard to O.E.E.C. and the building up of that organisation. I said:That organisation is in existence and has begun to work.I described its constitution. I said:It has set up a Supreme Council of 16 Members representing the 16 European countries who are going to participate in the European Recovery Programme.I said that the Executive Council consisted of seven members. I continued:The Secretary-General is a distinguished Frenchman and an important secretariat and group of technical committees have been appointed. Those are facts and not aspirations. Therefore already the first steps have been taken towards the end that is universally desired. We should be glad that this is so, and I pay my tribute to the man who more than any other in this country is responsible for it, namely, Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, who has been organising those forward steps.Then I spoke of the federal possibilities which the right hon. Gentleman and I both agree are not for today. I spoke of the alternative possibility of advancing step by step along what is called "the functional road." I said:… you should begin by dealing with those things that are ripe to be dealt with through the agencies that exist.730 In the next sentence I used a phrase which I hope will not cause dismay to people with thin skins. I said:You should begin, not with conclaves of chatterboxes but with functional advances by Governments who have the power to make their decisions operative… Let those Governments appoint their representatives and get on with the detailed actual first stages for the closer economic integration of Western Europe.I went on to say:I am wholly for the practical British functional approach rather than for any theoretical federalism. Let us keep our feet upon the ground. I certainly do not wish—and this is getting very close to what the right hon. Gentleman said——to rule out the possibility of federal developments later, when we see how we get on with the existing arrangements and what sort of people we might have to bring into a federal scheme.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he now thinks, looking back, if he had been successful in his attempt to sabotage what he called "the conclave of chatterboxes" at The Hague, it would have been a good thing?
§ Mr. Dalton
I think that has very little relevance to the Hague Conference. I think we attach very much more importance to what the Governments have achieved, and I do not regard that as central to this controversy. After referring briefly to the question of joint defence, speaking at the end of a long Debate, I said that no speaker had uttered a word of criticism against the Five-Power Treaty signed between the French, the three Benelux countries and ourselves based upon the Pact of Brussels, in which we are all now in fact committed to joint military arrangements one with another. I welcomed that and also its acceptance in the Conference.
I now go on to cite what I said about the British Commonwealth, because this evidently has some connection with what I have said about Western Union. I said:We are very much closer, in all respects except distance, to Australia and New Zealand than we are to Western Europe. Australia and New Zealand are populated by our kinsmen. They live under Labour Governments, they are democracies, they speak our language, they have high standards of life and have the same political ideals as we have. If you go to those countries you find yourself at once completely at home in a way that you, 731 do not if you go to a foreign country as distinct from a British community overseas.I then spoke of Canada and South Africa, and then I said:I am quite sure if the choice were put to us: 'Will you move closer to Western Europe at the cost of moving further away from the countries of the Commonwealth?,' for my part I would answer: 'No.' If that were the choice, I would say: 'If moving closer to Europe means moving further away from Australia and New Zealand and the rest, I do not move.' However, I do not think that that is the dilemma. I think that we can move closer to Western Europe and at the same time maintain in all its fullness, and I hope perhaps extend and expand, our relationship with the countries of the Commonwealth.I continued by saying:The family is a closer unit,—that is, the British family——but, having said that, and on condition that we fully consult our comrades in the Commonwealth and carry them with us in our plans for closer connection with Western Europe, and making sure that these are not inimical to their interests, whether political or economic, by all means let us go forward.I do not find much evidence of sabotage in what I said then, and I went on to speak of what a federal system would mean, and the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me that this is wholly unrealistic, so that this could be called a hypothetical exercise. I thought it necessary to point out to the Conference what it would mean, and I dwelt upon what we had achieved in the last three years in this country—full employment, social security and other things, and I said:We are not going to throw away the solid gains brought to us by a whole generation of political agitation and by the votes of our people and by three years of solid work in power in Parliament, in the trade unions and in the Government, upon any doctrinal altar of a federal Western Europe.It is perfectly clear that this passage of my speech is against precipitate federalism. There follows then the quotation which the right hon. Gentleman accurately gave yesterday in the context of a federal union.
Finally, I said, and I was referring to the extension of Socialist measures for planning and control:Without that we shall be doomed to go back again to the uncontrolled and unplanned capitalism and the uncontrolled and unplanned anti-social operations of financiers and vested interests; to go back to all those miseries we knew in the years between the wars.732 I apologise for quoting so much, but I have done so in order to put in its proper context what I then said, and from which, today, I withdraw not one word or sentence. We have a long way to go yet before we come up against this issue of federal union, which may endanger the livelihood of our people by leading to the handing over of the controls which we think are essential to us over a wide variety of things. We are a long way from that, and there is a great distance to be covered on that road.
I have made these remarks at length because I have been constantly attacked and have shown remarkable patience and reticence, but I think the time has come to get these matters put right. I hope to return to Paris in the course of next week, and we shall continue our work in a very friendly atmosphere with the French and Benelux representatives. We shall continue our efforts to make quite clear exactly what is implied in each of these schemes, so that we can put up to the Government, not a lot of vague generalities, but some perfectly clear and detailed propositions, showing how this scheme or that scheme would work in practice. I believe that that will be found to be a very valuable and useful piece of work. I am quite satisfied that those associated with me could not have been better chosen for the work in hand.
§ 12.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
We had a long speech from the Foreign Secretary yesterday which dealt with the international situation, and we have had a speech just now from the Chancellor of the Duchy which dealt with the course of the conversations which he has been conducting in Paris, but, so far, we have very little indication from either of the right hon. Gentlemen about the Government's plans for the future, and I think that both the House and the country are entitled to some indication of the Government's forecast of the manner in which events may develop.
I believe we are in danger of falling into a false sense of security. A great number of people in this country are under the impression that everything is all right because the air lift is being maintained. They regard the air lift as a sort of permanent taxi service which can go ahead indefinitely so long as the aircraft are able to fly. I do not believe 733 that the public have the slightest conception of the immense physical effort which is required to sustain the air lift, and I doubt very much if they have any conception of the financial effort required. We may be able to get through to the spring, given good luck and good weather, but nobody in his senses believes that the air lift can go on, month in and month out, year in and year out for an indefinite period.
I must confess that, in recent months, I have got the impression, from speeches and, Debates in this House and from answers to Questions, that the Government are waiting hopefully for something to turn up. The trouble about waiting for something to turn up is that something does turn up, but usually that something is unexpected, and then there are no adequate plans to meet the eventuality. We have seen the Soviet Union gradually encroaching upon Berlin. There was, first of all, the blockade; then the attempt to hamstring the Berlin City Council, and now the rival City Council. I notice that this has been accompanied by a further request that, in respect of the air corridor, aircraft should not fly above 3,000 feet. It is perfectly obvious that, sooner or later, matters must come to a head.
It would be entirely in keeping with the well-known Soviet technique if, at some future date, they proposed that all the occupying Powers should withdraw from Germany, that a separate peace treaty should be negotiated by which Germany would become an independent State. They will not, of course, make that proposal until they have brought their own plans for dealing with that eventuality to a state of readiness, and until they have the secret police and the underground movement ready to fill the breach. But, however superficially attractive that proposal might seem at any given moment, I am sure that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Under-Secretary of State will agree with me that the Western Powers have one overriding obligation. It is to ensure, so far as is possible, that those Germans who have co-operated with the Western Powers during the last three and a half years do not suffer the fate which will inescapably be theirs if the whole of Germany were gradually, or suddenly, to fall into the Communist grip.
I have always believed it to be a mistake to assume that the difficulty over 734 the Berlin blockade concerns merely the Western Powers and the Soviet Union in their relation with Germany. It is part of a much wider world problem—whether, in fact, the Soviet conception of government and what we call Western civilisation can live peaceably side by side. It is still more a mistake to refuse to recognise the fact that the Soviet Union has declared war against Western civilisation, by all known means except bullets and shells.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
A cold war is no less dangerous than any other form of warfare merely because missiles are not flying about. Nations can be subjugated without a single shot being tired just as easily as they could in former days when a victorious army marched on the capital of a defeated nation. It is no good trying to pretend that it is otherwise. We must admit that the cold war has brought the Soviets immense territorial gains which, in area, compare very favourably with the great military conquests of history from the time of Alexander the Great to Napoleon. It is not the slightest use thinking that we can fight the cold war by half-hearted methods, any more than we could fight a war in which vast armies are grappling with one another.
That brings me to the first question I want to ask the Under-Secretary of State about East-West trade. Some of us on this side of the House are not entirely convinced that East-West trade is operating to our own benefit. We know that in the last two years we have been supplying the Soviet Union with an immense quantity of commodities. We have provided them with jet engines, machine tools, wool, rubber, aluminium, fats, electric generators, and so on. What have we had in return? Coarse grains. Could the Under-Secretary of State tell us how much of the consignment of such grains due to be delivered has, in fact, been delivered, and how much is outstanding? Could he also tell us whether the coarse grains in question really come from the Soviet Union proper, or are merely requisitioned, so to speak, by the Soviet authorities from countries like Roumania, Hungary and Poland? I hope the hon. Gentleman will be able to say something to convince us that the bargain is really favourable to us, and not merely to the Soviet Union.
735 Of course, the strategy of the cold war is in no way different from the strategy of any other war of aggression. If we look at the map and the position of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, and then at the events in China, to which reference has been made in this Debate, that suggests to me about the biggest pincer movement of all time. I have always understood that it was a cardinal principle of our foreign policy and Empire strategy to keep open the lines of communication to the Far East and to the Dominions. If we look at the map again, we see that all along our lines of communication to the Far East there is a series of vacuums, and in every case there is a danger that the vacuum may be filled by some Communist influence, direct or indirect.
Reference has already been made to China. In Malaya we are by no means out of the wood. In Burma, under a pretence of giving independence, we have only created chaos. Civil war is raging in India, though no one here pays much attention to it. In Palestine there is an enormous vacuum of immense importance, in which the Russians are intensely interested. In fact, the solution of that unhappy problem will determine the security of the Suez Canal. In Greece, the key to the Eastern Mediterranean, there is virtually another vacuum where the situation is far from satisfactory. In Greece last summer and autumn the Greek army certainly drove the guerilla leader Markos and several thousand rebels from the Grammos Mountains across the frontier into Albania. What happened? The fruits of victory have been denied to the Greek troops by their own country's observance of international frontiers, and the Communist disregard of them.
§ Mr. Solley
Would the hon. Gentleman permit me to ask him a question? If he accepts that argument, how can he explain the triumphant presence of Greek patriotic rebels in the extreme south of Greece?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
As far as the remaining guerilla bands in Greece are concerned, their long-term plan is, as it has always been, to disrupt the normal life of the country so that, in time, the economy collapses automatically. Some 700,000 refugees have been evacuated from the villages where fighting has taken place. Those 700,000 men and women will not go back to the villages whence they came and cultivate the soil until they can be assured that no further attacks will be made upon them. Under existing circumstances, particularly in the frontier areas, it is almost impossible to give such an assurance. It is not merely that village life, on which the economy of every peasant country like Greece is built has been broken up, but family life also. About some 15,000 to 20,000 children have been kidnapped from their homes and families and taken behind the Iron Curtain, whence they will never return.
§ Mr. Solley
The hon. Gentleman is saying something which is absolutely untrue. I have been there, and have seen what is happening.
§ Mr. Speaker
Unless the hon. Member controls himself, I shall have to ask him to leave the Chamber.
§ Mr. Solley
On a point of Order. In view of what the hon. Gentleman has said, Mr. Speaker, am I not entitled to intervene to disprove what he is saying?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to ask in an unparliamentary manner. These interruptions are very much to be deprecated. They cause a lot of heat and do not advance the truth any further, and they are unparliamentary.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I was about to explain, when the hon. Gentleman interrupted me, that the economy of Greece is based on the village unit, and it is that unit which has been split up. The smaller unit, namely the family, has also been split up. The father, for instance, may have been compulsorily conscripted into the guerilla forces, the mother and the two younger children removed to a refugee camp near Athens, and the two 737 older children taken away to Hungary, Albania, Roumania, behind the Iron Curtain. This break-up, both of village and family life, has brought immense social, as well as economic, difficulties in its wake. By this method, the Communists have very nearly achieved something which no previous occupying Power in Greece has ever achieved, either Turk or Bulgar, German or Italian.
Having very properly intervened in Greece in order to preserve Greece's independence, I think that it is incumbent, as the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said this morning, that our joint intervention—British and American—should be effective, and that we should finish the job properly. That being so, it is not the slightest use for anybody to think that intervention can be on a hand-to-mouth basis, month in and month out. It entails a continuous flow of economic assistance, the provision of military equipment and of technical advice for just so long as the Iron Curtain envelops her northern neighbours in its folds. One does not have to be a graduate of the Staff College to understand the tactics of cold war. All one has to do is to look at the map.
Since the threat to Western civilisation comes from the Soviet Union and since the Soviet policy is nothing if not power politics the world over, it surely follows that the only two countries really able to organise the defence of Western civilisation are ourselves and the United States, because we are the only two really great world Powers. But for American dollars, the whole economy of Western Europe would have collapsed, and but for the atom bomb who knows whether the cold war might not already have become a hot war. I hope that when the Under-Secretary of State winds up he can tell us within reason something which the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us yesterday, namely, exactly what progress has been made by this Joint Defence Committee under the chairmanship of Field-Marshal Montgomery. We are getting into a rather ridiculous position. Neither the House nor the public has any idea either of our capacity to defend ourselves against attack or our capacity to make any effective contribution to any joint defence plan for Western Europe. I think that we have to put ourselves in the position of the French, Dutch and Belgians—
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I appreciate that. My remark was qualified by the suggestion that it should be "within reason." The French, Dutch and Belgians look at the problem of defence in a way very different from the way in which we look at it. These countries were physically occupied by Nazi troops for the best part of four and a half years, which was a very unpleasant experience, and one which happily we did not have in 1940 owing to the width of the English Channel, the courage of Spitfire pilots and skill of the aircraft factory workers who in 1937 wisely disregarded the advice of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer to refuse to make armaments. It is very unpleasant to be occupied for four and a half years by Nazi troops.
If a third world war should break out, they see themselves faced with the prospects not of being occupied by Nazi troops but of being occupied by Soviet troops—hordes of them, half of whom may well be Asiatics. If that happens, we may well see the horrors associated with Genghis Khan re-enacted in the twentieth century. Nor are the fears of the Dutch, Belgian and French allayed by the widely publicised views of American strategists in Paris that the intention is to hold the Pyrenees.
What are we doing to convince our friends on the Continent that we are, in the first place, taking the cold war seriously, and, in the second place, making effective preparations to deal with the situation should it deteriorate much further? We have failed to recruit enough men for a proper Regular Army; we have juggled about in the most humiliating fashion with the National Service Act, all of which has had a disastrous effect abroad; and, the Prime Minister has appointed the Chancellor of the Duchy to be the head of the British delegation to the Conference on Western Union in Paris. In spite of his speech just now, I still regard the right hon. Gentleman as the great 739 exponent of the extraordinary theory that all we have to do to stop Communism encroaching further westward is to erect a barrier which can neither be got over nor got through, provided that the material with which it is built is exclusively Socialist material. That is quite ridiculous.
I do not know whether some of those who live in France, Belgium or Holland or elsewhere may gain some confidence or hope from the fact that there is a Conference either about to take place or taking place in a very nice country house not far from the boundaries of my constituency, where Socialist delegates from seven countries are to discuss the international control of basic industries but not, I fancy, the international control of Buscot Park.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I am interested in this part of the hon. Gentleman's speech. I am sure that he is supporting Western Union; but he has spent the last few minutes indicating that he resents the Socialists of Europe getting together to discuss which is the best way of getting a united Europe. Why, if he believes in United Europe, should he object to Europe's Socialists seeking unity? I am not so partisan. I would welcome any sign of the Tories losing their insularity and getting together with Conservatives of other Western Union countries to work out a common view of Conservatism. It would do them a lot of good and make their support for Western Union a great deal less airy and more practical. I must say I resent his partisan insinuations—
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I do not object to the conference meeting at Buscot Park. I only used that as an illustration. I want to see where this Socialist bulwark theory leads us. The threat from Communism is a world threat and is not confined to Europe. Therefore, if we must erect a Socialist barrier to stop the Iron Curtain from coming farther westward in Europe that barrier must also be extended to other parts of the world, so the argument presumably runs.
Would the Chancellor of the Duchy apply Socialism as a condition of international co-operation to countries in the Middle East? Are our relations with 740 Turkey, Iraq, Iran or Egypt to be governed by whether or not in those territories there is in existence a National Health Service, which, in return for a weekly contribution, provides no false teeth? That is the most ridiculous theory for any British statesman to propose in connection with British foreign policy. Would the Chancellor of the Duchy care to reflect what his own position would have been when Chancellor of the Exchequer but for the flow of American dollars freely given without any political strings attached to them?
I beg right hon. Gentlemen opposite to learn to sing the same tune. They must realise that they cannot talk about liquidating the British Empire in one breath and Britain's position as a world Power in the next breath. Foreign countries do not understand that kind of contradictory language. A world Power cannot, for very long, remain a world Power when governed by men with small minds. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite must now and again try to look at themselves through the world's eyes, rather than to look at the world exclusively through the binoculars provided by Transport House. Let them fight the cold war with increasing vigour. Let them tell us, if necessary in Secret Session, what has already been achieved in the sphere of joint defence plans. Above all, let them act with far greater speed, lest Western civilisation should disintegrate into bits and pieces in front of our eyes while we stand hopelessly by in the rôle of nationalised spectators.
§ 1.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
I hope to deal later with some of the observations that have just been made by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe). I want to speak primarily about Anglo-French relations, because I regard good relations with France as the corner-stone for Western Union. When I listened yesterday to my right hon. Friend speaking about recent negotiations with France, I could not help feeling that the susceptibilities of France had not been sufficiently considered, and that our diplomacy towards France during the last year or so had paid very little regard to some of the deepest feelings of Frenchmen. When my right hon. Friend spoke about French susceptibilities, he spoke of them rather as if they 741 were the product of some kind of hypersensitivity of character. In point of fact, the things about which Frenchmen feel so profoundly today, are matters which affect their very existence as a nation, and, more than that, the very existence of Western Europe. For that reason, I should like to say something about what I regard as being essential for good Anglo-French relations.
I was surprised the other night to hear Members opposite objecting violently to the aid which has been given by British Socialists to Socialists in France. I was particularly surprised because the objections they were expressing had only a few days previously been expressed in even more violent terms by the French Communists. It is an extraordinary thing that those in France who resented most fiercely the fact that British Socialists had provided the Populaire with financial aid were the French Communists, who coupled the attack on this aid from Britain with a most violent attack against M. Moch, the Socialist Minister of the Interior, who had been largely responsible for ending the wave of strikes.
§ Mr. Piratin (Mile End)
I am sure that the hon. Member wants to keep to the facts. He will recall the facts are that it was M. Moch who wanted to take action against the Communists, and it was they who brought in a resolution concerning the Populaire which they would not otherwise have brought in.
§ Mr. Edelman
That interruption merely reinforces my argument, that in France those most actively opposing Socialism are those who were most actively opposed to this aid being given to French Socialists by British Socialists.
§ Mr. Edelman
It establishes that in France the forces that are today most energetic and successful in resisting the Communists, and in preserving the values of Western Civilisation, are those forces, of which the French Socialist Party forms a part. I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be discouraged from authorising aid of this kind to those political parties which comprise the Third Force in France, because it is precisely these parties which best guarantee the stability of France and the maintenance of good relations with Britain.
742 But there are certain things on which all Frenchmen are united, whatever their internal political differences. One of the most fundamental of these is the question of security. In France today, from the extreme Left to the extreme Right, all parties are united in the determination that French security shall be maintained. It is for that reason that I feel doubtful about the way in which the settlement of the Ruhr has been handled. I do not think it is sufficient, as my right hon. Friend indicated, merely to have informed the French of decisions that have been taken on the Ruhr. The French are more actively concerned in that matter than any other nation. They have felt the effect of German invasion three times in the last hundred years, and they want to make sure that the Ruhr, both strategically and economically, is not likely to become a menace to France.
Here is the dilemma which Britain and America face in dealing with the Ruhr. Britain and America want to make Western Germany viable, but they can only do so by stimulating its industries and increasing the exports from the Ruhr so that Western Germany as a whole will be able to pay its way. It has been estimated that in order that Western Germany should be able to pay its way, exports have to be inflated to something like£300 million per annum. Under present arrangements that obviously can only be done at the expense of British and French exports. It is obvious that it is impossible to increase the export output of Western German industries without at the same time doing harm to the British and French economies. It is also clear that if the industries of Western Germany are to be stimulated, there is the difficulty that by so doing we shall increase the war potential of Western Germany. And so we again find the paradox, that on the one hand the Western Powers concerned with their own security want to damp down Western Germany's production, and on the other hand want to increase that production in order to make Western Germany pay its way. And as an extension of the paradox, whereas, on the one side, there is the process of dismantling those industries likely to be of help to the German export trade, on the other side, there is the attempt to increase the capacity of Germany's export industries. The recent 743 example of that is the horological industry, where a decision was taken in Wurttemberg to reduce capacity to something like 50 per cent. of its 1938 value. The argument in favour of doing that was partly that the industry was well adapted for war purposes, and partly that the industry was likely adversely to affect the British watch and clock industry developed during the war years.
It is right to stimulate German industry in order that Western Germany may be able to live, but it is equally right on the part of British exporters and French exporters to have grave anxieties about increases in industrial capacity in Western Germany which may be a threat to both their economies. The question is how it is possible to achieve that integration of Western European industry, of which so much has been said, but about which so little has been done?
Three proposals have been put forward. First, there is the proposal for a federal settlement of Western Europe, a constitutional settlement, which would provide a sovereign authority able to tell the countries concerned what they should produce and, in that way, rationalise and dovetail the industries of each country one with another. However desirable that may be—and I agree that it is desirable—it remains something remote. It is not something which can be done now to deal with our immediate problems and difficulties. The other attempted solution, now being applied, is to set up various committees such as O.E.E.C. which are, in effect, blueprint committees concerned with planning and giving advice. But those committees have no executive power; they are committees in which experts participate; but when it comes to giving instructions which will smooth out the contradictions which exist in the Western European economy they have no power and, consequently, the difficulties remain.
There is a final possibility, that of planning by consent and by means of the functional arrangements to which reference was made today by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. A cardinal necessity in the settlement of Europe is that there should be a settlement not simply of the Ruhr question but of the whole of Western European iron and steel industry. One 744 of the great disasters of the past has been that in the Ruhr there has been an intense concentration of industrial power, iron and steel, which has facilitated the making of war by the German Reich. The position today is that even if the iron and steel industry of Western Germany were to be nationalised I do not see that that would in any way diminish Germany's power to make war. Indeed, I believe that if the iron and steel industry of Western Germany had been nationalised at the time Hitler came to power, so far from making his task more difficult it would have made it considerably easier.
I agree with the French, that the nationalisation of the Ruhr in itself, however desirable from a domestic point of view, is not enough to guarantee either French or European security. Were I in a position in which I had to choose between a nationalised German iron and steel industry without international control, or a German iron and steel industry with international control, but without nationalisation, I would, unhesitatingly in the interests of security, prefer to choose international control. I believe the French, too, would be well satisfied even if there were no nationalisation, provided international control was made effective. The major concern of the French is that that control should not be merely a paper control, but should be translated into practice.
The only way in which control of the iron and steel industry of the Ruhr can become effective is if the centre of gravity of the European iron and steel industry is shifted from the Ruhr to Lorraine. In the past, as Members know, it has been the custom for the iron ore of Lorraine to be taken to the coking coal of the Ruhr. I suggest that that process, should, as far as possible, be reversed. Instead of the iron ore of Lorraine going to the coke and coal of the Ruhr, as much as possible of the coke and coal should go to the iron ore of Lorraine. In that way there would be a great shift of emphasis in Western Europe's iron and steel industry, and I believe that that would not only be of advantage to the European economy but would also be of the greatest strategic advantage. One of the major doubts which the Americans have had when contemplating aid to the industries of Western Germany has been the fact that they are relatively near to 745 the Russians. For that reason I believe it could do nothing but good to Western Union if the centre of iron and steel production were moved farther to the West.
The Chancellor of the Duchy, in refuting the charges made against him that he merely favoured what has been vaguely called a Socialist federation of Western Europe, pointed to the alternative which is, in effect, that in Western Europe, in order to achieve the economic integration in which most of us believe, certain functional arrangements should be made between sovereign States so that projects for the common benefit could be entered into and completed. I want to suggest two or three such projects which, I believe, could be entered into quickly, and could be of the greatest benefit to Europe.
First, I would like to suggest that my right hon. Friend should work towards the creation of an Iron and Steel Authority not merely for the Ruhr but for Western Europe, in order to plan the iron and steel industry of the West as a whole. Sometimes when that has been advocated it has been suggested, in reply, that that would merely re-create prewar cartels. I suggest that whereas prewar cartels were primarily concerned with prices and, to a certain extent, with restrictions, the object of a cartel, if it must be called a cartel, existing under an Iron and Steel Authority for Europe, would be not merely that various industries, whether Socialist or private, could participate, but that Governments would participate, too. The Governments would ensure that the working of the authority would not be contrary to public policy, as so often has been the case in the past between the various private monopoly undertakings which compose cartels.
The second suggestion I would like to put forward is that my right hon. Friend might consider initiating a project for a Joint Authority in Western Europe for Fuel and Power. Towards the end of and after the war there was a European Coal Organisation, which has now been taken over by the Economic Commission for Europe. That organisation worked efficiently; it was run by experts and brought great benefits to all countries which took part. I believe for example that if there were a Western European Fuel and Power authority which could carry on the development of hydroelectric 746 power in Southern Europe, of which my right hon. Friend has spoken in the past but which has not yet come to fruition, it would be an important instrument for achieving the economic integration of Western Europe.
To offer one final illustration, there is the question of the automobile industry and firms manufacturing agricultural machinery in Western Europe. One of the great problems of Western Europe has been to provide enough transport and agricultural machinery for its revival. It has been to a great extent dependent upon the American industry. One of the greatest things that could be done for Western European revival would be to revitalise those industries. They can be placed upon a sound basis through general consultation between the various countries concerned with the manufacture of motorcars, tractors, and agricultural machinery, in order to provide for specialisation in manufacturing and to avoid wasteful competition. Finally, it could achieve standardisation, the lack of which has been one of the most heavy burdens of Western European industry.
Before concluding this theme I should like to say that if we are thinking in terms of Western European defence, it is obvious that we must also think in terms of the standardisation of equipment and of production methods. While it is a desirable thing to obtain with America an agreement on standardisation, it would be of equal value if we combined with Western Europe in common defence matters and agreed on the standardisation of the various machine industries. However, I do not want to develop this argument any further.
I want to conclude by saying that I believe a functional approach is the most practical approach to Western European integration that can be made at the present time. If we are energetic in developing new projects and seeing they are translated from paper to practice, then indeed we can make a reality of Western Union. I believe also that having made Western Union a reality we can then use the technique of functional co-operation in order to knit together East and West which have been so widely divided. I believe that we can and must have a modus vivendi with the East if the disaster of a third world war is to be avoided. Even if we cannot agree with 747 Russia, on fundamental principles we can at least achieve a working agreement. The functional method is the way to achieve it.
§ 1.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Piratin (Mile End)
One of the most important and serious features about the contribution made yesterday by the Foreign Secretary was the lack of attention which was paid to his remarks. As hon. Members will remember, the House was half empty, and by the time the right hon. Gentleman finished it was three-quarters empty. In addition, many of those who were listening were not doing so very attentively. "The Times," in its leading article yesterday, foretold that something like this would happen, for it declared that there seemed to be a lack of interest in any discussion on foreign affairs. That is worthy of some comment before we pass on to the major issues which we are here to discuss.
I do not believe that this inattention is because of a lack of interest in foreign affairs. Every Member of this House is very seriously concerned with international affairs whether in the wider aspects or in the narrower field which was mentioned by the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman). The fact that last week 120 Labour Members of Parliament refrained from supporting the Government on the Second Reading of the National Service Bill is an indication, in part, that many of those are concerned with the foreign aspects of that Measure.
§ Mr. Piratin
If the hon. Member likes rubbish he can go on having it. Secondly, 60 Labour Members of Parliament have signed a request put forward from the Union of Democratic Control for the Government to take some steps for a reconciliation in Greece. That is an indication that those 60 Members are concerned with foreign affairs.
I believe there are two reasons why there was this lack of attention yesterday. First, it is pretty obvious that the statement made by the Foreign Secretary did not deal with the issues which people feel are at the bottom of our problems. 748 With regard to the United Nations, the report of the right hon. Gentleman's speech shows that one paragraph was devoted to that subject. It is true that he added that the Under-Secretary of State, in his reply, would deal with questions of this kind if they were raised in the course of the Debate. A great many things have happened at the United Nations about which the right hon. Gentleman should have told us. There is the question of disarmament, on which the Foreign Secretary should have expressed his opinion and the reason for the stand he took, without leaving it to the Under-Secretary of State to deal with it by answering questions. In regard to Germany, he had very little to say. He concerned himself with certain developments which are taking place in Germany, but he carefully avoided some aspects of international affairs which have been referred to in the course of the Debate and which show how much a failure his policy has been.
The question of Palestine has been raised from both sides of the House. Both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have given their points of view, which are in contrast, about the steps the right hon. Gentleman should take. This matter was also raised by several other hon. Members on this side of the House. In regard to Greece, the right hon. Gentleman cannot be content with the position there. Hon. Members opposite would like him to go further and see to it that our intervention is a successful one; hon. Members on this side of the House want to know whether intervention is worth it at all.
On these things the right hon. Gentleman refrained from speaking. He refrained from making any reference to the underlying recognition in the country that its economic position was affected by his policy. No reference at all was made to the fact that, because of the foreign policy, we are faced with a "squeeze," to use a card term, whether we are to have the social services which the people expect and which the Government in their legislation have predicted, or whether the Government are going to state, "We cannot afford them because our money has to go into other directions." The hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Webb) raised, at a private meeting of the Labour Party recently, the 749 matter of the rising cost of living, and it is easy to see that rising cost of living is partly the outcome of the foreign policy of the right hon. Gentleman. These matters combined, constitute the first reason why there appears to be a lack of interest in the foreign policy of the Foreign Secretary.
The second reason is that, consciously or unconsciously, there is a realisation in this House that we no longer decide the foreign policy of our country. It was bad enough years ago when many people suspected that it was not the House but the Foreign Office which decided foreign policy. Even today the Foreign Office tries to pull wool over the eyes of innocent Members of Parliament by attempting to show that it, and not the State Department in Washington, shapes the foreign policy of this country. The current example of what is going on has been the difference of opinion between our representatives and the representatives of the United States with regard to dismantling in Germany. We are on common ground with France. A committee has been set up, but everyone knows that it is American and it will come to a conclusion satisfactory to America, which we shall have to accept. Therefore, our policy of dismantling and the policy agreed to, will have to go by the board. I have made those remarks because I am seriously concerned at the way in which hon. Members walked out yesterday, since it showed a certain attitude on foreign affairs.
I want to deal with Germany and her problems, not for themselves alone, but because they are vital in many other respects. They reveal why the Three-Power Agreement was reached, to which the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) referred in the latter part of his speech today. This Agreement represented an understood relationship at the close of, and immediately after the war. The right hon. Member for Woodford today quoted from a letter of his to Stalin dated 29th April, 1945, when he was Prime Minister. In that letter he voiced his sentiments, and there was some applause when he said that it was far better to quote what he said at the time than to make remarks now about what he then thought or felt. That is true. He then referred to his desire for the future co-operation of the three major Governments in the world, the Soviet 750 Union, the United States and ourselves. No doubt his mind went back to the date when that letter was written.
Yet many things have changed since then. It was only 11 months after 29th April, 1945, that he made his speech at Fulton. The House cannot believe, and the public cannot believe, that the world had changed so irrevocably in those 11 months that he had to make at Fulton the speech which laid the basis for the present part we are playing. The Labour Party likewise, in its post-war election campaign, declared for co-operation between the three Powers. In its programme it said:We must consolidate in peace the great wartime association of the British Commonwealth with the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.Today we have not got that three-Power co-operation. On the contrary, we have a growing hostility between two sides. It is claimed by many people that it is the fault of Russia. Everyone in his senses must accept that it is a two-way process. Again, if we are in our senses, we must accept that perhaps it is cause and effect. At least, if we are in our senses we ought to look carefully, step by step, at everything that has happened. With great respect—I want to cause no hostility—I ask all hon. Members who can hear, or will read what I am saying, to read over some of the things that have been said in the last few years. If we have reached a state of hostility in the world today, and if we claim that the fault lies to a large extent at the door of Russia, at least let us ask ourselves where we have gone wrong from time to time, and then maybe we can prevent the present difficult position becoming further exacerbated.
The case of Germany is one for which no one can blame Russia. No one can blame Russia for our administration in the Western zone of Germany. Whatever has happened or is happening there is our concern. We took those steps and we knew what we were doing. First let me establish what is the position. On 29th July, 1946, the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) asked the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, then the Minister of State, this Question:Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that no decision will be taken which will prejudice the possibility of carrying out a Socialist policy in the British zone of Germany?751 The present Minister of Commonwealth Relations answered:Yes, Sir. I am very glad to give that assurance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1946; Vol. 426, c. 499.]And "The Times" leader of 9th October this year, just two months ago, said:Little has been done by the occupying Powers to alter the basic pattern of society in Western Germany, or to weaken seriously the ruling groups which first welcomed, then served, and only at the last moment turned against Hitler. Coal and steel have not been nationalised; the Civil Service and administration are in many cases unaltered. The uncontrolled economic policy which is at present being carried through has, among its various consequences, also hastened the 'return to normal' and further weakened the power of the workers.Therefore, it is "The Times" which calls the Government to book for having done nothing at all to carry out the promise contained in that Question and answer to which I have referred. In fact, the power of big business has been restored. "The Economist" of 2nd October said this:In every way the German leaders are, very naturally, trying to build up the strongest possible position for their country in the future world. Viewed from the depths at which they began three years ago, their success has already been considerable.German capitalists have also been successful and are succeeding in stopping the dismantling. Hon. Members may have different views on that, but no one is under any illusions as to what the French think about that question.
§ Mr. Piratin
Therefore, it is a matter for our consideration. Take the question of shipping. "The Times" of 13th November mentioned that the United States authorities have declared that German shipyards should be re-opened and should build merchant ships. I ask the Under-Secretary of State to say whether this is true or not, for it is a fact that a shipbuilding contract, placed with a Sunderland firm by Norway, has been cancelled, and this contract has now gone to a German yard at Kiel. If it is a fact, will the Under-Secretary say whether it is with the endorsement of the Government that this action has been taken?
Further, while capitalism has been strengthened in the Western zone of 752 Germany the conditions of the working people have declined.
§ Mr. Piratin
On 8th November, the Minister was asked a Question with regard to the index of prices of various commodities, and he replied that "footwear had gone up 55 per cent. and clothing had gone up 25 per cent. since April, while the hourly wage increase in the same period had been only between 4 per cent. and 6 per cent." It was then claimed by the hon. Member for Luton, who raised the matter, that in his opinion and in the opinion of other observers, these differences were much sharper than those acknowledged by the Minister, and the Minister actually then used the word "approximately."
Therefore, I put these points: what have the Government achieved in the Western zone of Germany, where they can put no blame upon Russia and where we have to ask ourselves what part we have been taking? In the first place, big business has been re-established and the cost of living has gone up. The Under-Secretary of State is well aware of the feeling in the Western zone of Germany and Bizonia, where only a few weeks ago 10 million workers came out on strike, including 4 million in the British part. Those workers did not come out because of Cominform instructions, as has been said about miners in France; they came out because they were hungry and because the wages they were receiving were not sufficient to supply their elementary needs.
Secondly, we have upset France. The French have a different attitude to Germany from ours. The right hon. Member for Woodford made that point, and every one is aware of it. Both immediately and in our long-term policy we have fallen out with our former and present French Allies. So far as the immediate aspects are concerned, the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) referred to coking coal which used to go to France in abundance for the French to make steel. It no longer goes to France, or very little goes, and as a result French steel production is not rising, while we are told by the Foreign Secretary that German steel production is rising.
§ Mr. Piratin
Yes, from nothing. German steel production is going up at the risk of that of France going down. The production of coal is vital to so many things that if there is only a limited quantity for coking purposes the economic advisers in Bizonia must decide how much shall go to France and how much shall remain in Germany for steel making. The answer is clear from the fact that German steel production is increasing while that of France is not.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is the hon. Member aware that the whole policy is framed so that, once German coal production is really increasing, coking coal shall be sent to Lorraine instead of Lorraine iron ore being sent to the Ruhr? That is established already.
§ Mr. Piratin
That is what the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) says. It is in contradiction to what was said by the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) a few minutes earlier.
§ Mr. Edelman
May I comment on that? Although that is part of the Ruhr agreement in principle, my reservation about it is that there is not yet sufficient authority to make sure that that will, in fact, take place.
§ Mr. Piratin
The immediate effect of our policy is that, on a long-term basis, France will suffer. We know that this very difficult problem of the control of the Ruhr is one about which France feels more strongly than any other country could feel. That is only reasonable, for France has been affected three times in the past 70 years because of its proximity to Germany.
I now come to my third point. We are building up Germany, amongst other ways, to compete with us in exports. Questions have been asked, notably by Conservative Members—they are quite entitled to state their views—about the building up of Japan and its competition with us in world markets. We must agree that every country shall be free to compete, provided that the conditions in those countries are fair to the people who produce the goods. We cannot directly affect an independent country, but in Germany we do possess a certain degree of control. I mentioned Japan only to 754 show that Germany is not an isolated instance. Is it not a fact that miners in the Ruhr are receiving only the equivalent of 1s. 5½d. an hour? Obviously, on that basis, they can easily compete with coal from Britain or elsewhere. That rate of wages, however, is endorsed by the authorities, and those authorities are America and Britain. We are building up, therefore, a competitor for ourselves on absolutely unequal terms.
Fourth, we have fallen out with the Soviet Union. It may be claimed that we have fallen out with the Soviet Union on many things. In this case, however, the Soviet Union is entitled to judge us by the way we are acting in the Western zone of Germany, where, apparently, we have power to carry on our policy irrespective of the speeches which are made by Government spokesmen. Fifth, this policy in Germany is one further indication of domination by the United States in seeking to establish in Germany a reactionary Government, based on a powerful industry and in order to ensure that they have an advance base for any war plans which they contemplate.
If I have been one-sided let hon. Members say so, but I have tried to be fair in my conclusions, because I have not heard one hon. Gentleman on this side of the House say anything very favourable about conditions in Germany during recent months. Therefore, we ought to look at the way we are conducting our affairs to see whether it has any bearing on the international situation. I think we shall rue the day that we initiated this policy in Germany. Its sad effect cannot be blamed on to Russia. We must take responsibility for it ourselves.
Is it too late to change this policy of building and maintaining a reactionary Government in Germany—as we are doing elsewhere, in, for example, Greece? Our country is the key to peace. We all know that the United States is in many senses a much more powerful country. We know, too, that the other one of the three great Powers—the Soviet Union—is also a powerful country. The strange thing is that our country is to the key to world peace. If we were to say that we were striving and acting in a way that would ensure the maintenance of world peace, no side could go to war. Military strategists in America have always declared that in Europe there are only two 755 countries upon which they can depend: one is Britain, the other is Spain. They cannot rely on France. An article in the Sunday "Observer" a few weeks ago referred to the very difficult position facing us in France and asked how we could give the French more support or get America to build up the armed forces there when one man in four in the Army was a Communist. American military strategists know they cannot rely on France to carry out American big business policy. Britain and Spain are the only places in Europe which America—
§ Mr. Piratin
But they are hoping to. In fact, however, Spain is of no account, either in Europe or in the world. But Britain is, and we have the key to the situation. If we told America we would not take part in its war plans, that we would produce for the needs of our people, that we would maintain a force for the defence of our people and not for carrying out the war plans of America; if we spoke in those terms and stood firm on that ground, we would get a different attitude by the Soviet Union towards us. That would be a gesture in the right direction and one which would win its reward.
For those reasons, I say that this Debate on foreign affairs is a deplorable Debate. I do not understand—I hope he will forgive my saying so, for I have some respect for him—what was the necessity for the contribution made this morning by the Chancellor of the Duchy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Oh, no, I am not playing your game. I do not understand why he thought it necessary to answer the accusations and allegations of hon. Members opposite. There may have been some personal justification, but his contribution helped us no further in discussing the affairs either of our own country or of the world.
I hope the outcome of the Debate will be that consideration will be given to the question, not of how to intensify the gap between the Western world and the Soviet Union, but of how to get rid of that gap. I hope, too, that the words near the end of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, who spoke with sincerity and sentiment, 756 mean a change from the speech he made on 11th October at Llandudno. He said something very different this morning from what he said two months ago. We all want peace, and I hope that the Government will take up the various points which have come from our discussion. Our attitude towards Palestine is just one example. They can take up the reins where we left them three years ago in our relations with the Soviet Union.
Hon. Members may think it a little quaint for me to conclude with words used by the right hon. Member for Woodford and not those of Harry Pollitt or Stalin, but I ask them to remember that in this case we all fall, or stand, together. The right hon. Gentleman said in the House on 27th February, 1945:The ties that bind the three Great Powers together, and their mutual comprehension of each other, have grown. … United we have the unchallengeable power to lead the world to prosperity, freedom and happiness. The Great Powers must seek to serve, and not to rule."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1945; Vol. 408, c. 1294.]That philosophy still stands and I hope the Government will welcome those principles today.
§ 2.1 p.m.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Before referring to the diversionary tactics of the hon. Members to whom we have just listened, I wish to say a few words in comment on the most admirable speech of the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman). I believe that last Sunday he was described by a colleague, the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) as a "dark horse" in the party. So far as speeches from the other side of the House are concerned, I think he won in a canter this morning. He made some recommendations, to which I hope the Government will pay careful attention, regarding the future of the Ruhr and Western Germany's industries. What he said was extremely important. I am convinced that there is nothing the French consider more important at present than the solution of the future of the Ruhr and if we can give them some reassurance it will help to stabilise their political situation more than any other single thing.
I now turn to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin), whom I see fast disappearing from the Chamber. He 757 began by quoting from the Fulton speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). In view of the great misrepresentation put about not only by the Communist Party, but by others, about the Fulton speech, it is fitting that we should bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman did say in that speech. Obviously I cannot quote it all, because it covers many pages of one book, but I think we should remember that he said:I do not believe that Soviet Russia desire war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here today, while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries.It seems to me that the criticisms made by the hon. Member for Mile End of my right hon. Friend are quite insubstantial. If the hon. Member also looks at what the right hon. Gentleman considered the greatest threat to humanity he will find that he said:To give security to these countless homes they must be shielded from the two giant marauders, war and tyranny.It is obvious that the hon. Member for Mile End and his colleagues are only too anxious to show to the world that the right hon. Gentleman is a warmonger. That speech at Fulton has been quoted in various ways as representative of that view. I believe that if everyone in this country and in the world took the trouble to read the speech again, they would see how very far from the truth is that suggestion. So much for the hon. Member for Mile End.
May I turn to what I consider to have been the three salient points which have come out of the Debate so far. Two of them are the result of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) had to say yesterday. The third has run through several speeches. It was touched upon by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and also referred to by the senior Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) and the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). Those three things are, first, the recommendation regarding Palestine, secondly, the recommendation regarding the Italian Colonies and, thirdly, the general disquiet 758 of mind which seems to exist on the subject of U.N.O. So far as the Palestine suggestion is concerned I think I should make clear and emphasise what my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said this morning, that this matter cuts right across party and that, in fact, parties themselves are divided within themselves on the matter. Anyone who has listened to previous Palestine Debates will know what by view is on the matter of recognition of Israel. I indicated what it would be when the Foreign Secretary first announced the Bernadotte proposals. Of course, I must separate myself from my right hon. Friend's view about what I think virtually amounts to de facto recognition. I cannot possibly accept that. That does not mean that I have any quarrel with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington. It would be natural that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford should support him in that, because, after all, he is a self-confessed Zionist who has always been a Zionist—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—he has openly said in Parliament that he is—
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, I am grateful for the correction. Certainly since the end of the war he has generally been sympathetic towards the Zionist point of view, anyway. I should be extremely surprised if he tried to controvert in any way the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington. What I strongly urge the Government to realise is that this matter of recognition will I believe eventually, if not immediately, sound the death knell of the Arab League.
I do not know whether His Majesty's Government want the Arab League to continue. Personally I believe the Arab League is as essential to this country as it is to the Arab States. Probably some hon. Members think I am plus Arabesque que les Arabes but, nevertheless, I assure them that my interests in this matter have been solely guided and directed towards serving our own interests. I believe that is nothing incompatible between British and Arab interests and I believe we must, from our own point of view, as well as from the Arab point of view, seriously consider whether this matter of recognition of 759 Isreal is one we should contemplate at all. I think it is a ghastly mistake, particularly at the moment.
I warn the Under-Secretary who is to reply of one thing which I think is likely to happen, if it has not already happened. That is, that certain Arab leaders will come forward and make approaches to right hon. and hon. Members in this country and try to persuade them to do something which the Arab leaders ought to do themselves and things which they dare not do for fear of recriminations for their own people if they did them. I think he will know to what I am referring. I sincerely hope he will emulate Mr. Agag on the matter. It is extremely important that we should not be led into doing something which may be directed more from personal aims than national aims of other people, who have not the courage to do it for themselves.
We should also realise that the name King Abdullah has chosen, or his Parliament have chosen, for the Arab part of Palestine is South Syria. I hope we shall bear in mind that South Syria may one day become Greater Syria and perhaps that is behind the plan. We should be very wary and see that we do not get landed into supporting Greater Syria before we know where we are. It is a matter which requires careful consideration and it is certainly one which will turn the Middle East upside down.
As to my right hon. Friend's suggestion about having a representative at Tel-Aviv, he said it was practical politics to do so. My own feeling is that there has been too much practical politics in the Middle East for far too long. I believe that what we should now try to do is to bring back some respect for our sense of justice. Let us be clear in our minds that we cannot hope for peace in the Middle East or anywhere else unless we first establish justice. If anyone thinks that Israel is being established on a basis of justice, I consider that their sense of justice is past praying for.
Turning to the suggestion which my right hon. Friend made about the future of the Italian Colonies, everyone in the House must agree that it is a very important suggestion indeed. No doubt my right hon. Friend has good information, but I would say that his suggestion may 760 lead to a fear among the Arab section of the population that if the United Nations Assembly agree to the suggestion, the Western Powers might tend to shoulder out the Arabs from having any say in their own future and might try to settle the matter between themselves with the Arabs scarcely getting a word in edgeways. Let us remember that these two African countries of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania are countries which have a large Arab population. Together they have a population of about a million. That of Tripolitania is by far the largest—more than 800,000. For that reason we must have regard to the Arab point of view.
In my view some of them may be extremely unhappy at the thought of the Western Powers dealing with those lands. I have recently been in Tripolitania and I asked that question of some Arabs. That is the evidence which I obtained. It may not be as valuable as that of my right hon. Friend, but that is the evidence which I offer to compare with his.
I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary one or two questions in regard to the future of the Italian Colonies. I would first ask him whether His Majesty's Government consider themselves bound by the recommendations which were made, with the Minister of State as a delegate, as to what should be the future of those Colonies? Before the whole matter was referred to the United Nations we made some recommendations, which we have never seen. I ask the Government whether they still stand by them and, if so, whether they will now publish them and let us see what they are; or, if they have changed their minds since making those recommendations whether they will now say what their policy is?
Secondly, do they realise the great problem involved as to whether Libya should be one country or three? At the present time it is divided into Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan. I believe that it will take a lot to persuade the Senussi Arabs to agree to the permanent separation of Libya into three countries. Within living memory, and for a good deal longer it has been one country. At the present time there is considerable resentment that it is divided. This will affect not only North Africa and the other Italian Colonies but the whole of the Middle East situation, because the 761 leader of the Arab Liberation Committee is Counsellor to King Ibn Saud. Therefore, the decision we take in North Africa will affect the whole Arab world. I hope that we shall tread cautiously and not ignore any representations which the Arabs put forward. I ask the Government whether they realise that any attempt to restore the Italians as the trustees or as the sovereign nation there will either involve the Italians fighting their way in or their way being fought in for them by someone else? I desire from the Government an unqualified assurance that, no matter what the solution may be, British troops will on no account be used for that purpose. It is important that we should have that assurance soon.
On the question of the Italian Colonies, I would ask whether His Majesty's Government place any weight in the case which I believe is being put forward by the Italian Government that if the Western Powers really want Italy not to go Communist, Italy must have her Colonies returned to her? I know that is a difficult question which it may not be possible to answer today, but it is important to know whether it is looked upon as a substantial case which is being put forward by the Italians. We should make up our minds one way or the other, and do so at an early date.
Lastly, I want to deal with the disquietude of mind about the United Nations. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech yesterday, said:Well, the United Nations is giving us grave concern as to whether it is going to face the serious problems involved."—[OFFictAL REPORT, 9th December, 1948; Vol. 459, c. 588.]Other speakers have mentioned the disquietude of mind about the United Nations, particularly the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, who reiterated something which I said, more or less in the same words, during the Debate on the Address as to the bickering and unnecessary blackguarding which has gone on in the forum of the United Nations, upsetting the minds of the people of the world. I then suggested that we should wind up the United Nations with the very important safeguards that we should keep in being the International Labour Organisation, the International Welfare Office, the International Court at The Hague, and the 762 United Nations Association. I said that we had built the United Nations from the wrong end. I still believe that.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster today talked about advancing step by step along the functional road. What function has the United Nations served? The Foreign Secretary has said that considerable progress has been made since he last reported to the House. I agree, but how much of that progress is in any way due to the United Nations? Practically none at all. Practically all the progress has been made by agreements outside the United Nations. I believe that we have to face up to that. How can we hope to build step by step as long as the United Nations and particularly the Security Council remains in being? My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, early in the life of this Parliament suggested, on the subject of the United Nations that the Charter should be reviewed and said:I hope they will unanimously decide that the retention of such a provision—that is, the veto—in the Charter is an anachronism in the modern world."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1945; Vol. 416, c. 613.]In his reply the following day the Foreign Secretary said:Great Britain will not be afraid, and will not in any way decline to have anything it does, or wants or seeks to promote discussed in open assembly, at the United Nations if necessary.He went on:it will be the purpose of His Majesty's Government to utilise the United Nations, may I say stretch it to the limit of its capacity from the security point of view."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1945; Vol. 416, c. 760–761.]He certainly carried that out.
Then we have to make up our minds whether or not national sovereignty means anything to us or whether we want it to mean anything to us. We have to think for ourselves whether or not national sovereignty, if we do want it, has been increased or reduced—our own and that of others. There can be no doubt in the world today that the United Nations have served two important purposes. They have increased the national sovereignty of the Soviet Union and they have served the Zionist cause in Israel. Those two things they have achieved, but not any other thing. I 763 believe that there has been a further reduction in our national sovereignty and that it is less than when it was imperilled at the end of the war. I believe that there is nothing disgraceful about national sovereignty and that we should aim at building it up by the most favourable means possible. But I do not believe that that means is through the United Nations. The longer we remain members of the Security Council the longer our prestige is going to go down in the world. The time has now come when we have to take very rapid and decisive steps to try and bring the Western countries and the British Commonwealth and Empire together. We should accept the fact that so long as we remain members of the United Nations, we shall do nothing but harm to ourselves, very little good to anybody else and only serve the ends of the Soviet Union which is determined to split the world into two.
§ 2.23 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean)
My reason for asking to intervene in this Debate is because I have just returned from Central Asia and the Middle East. My purpose is to say something about the repercussions of the cold war in Asia and how it may react in Europe. There are three important points in the world where the cold war is on—in the Far East, the Middle East and in Europe. In this respect, however, we must be realistic. It is no use thinking, as the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) seemed to think when he spoke yesterday, that by a friendly gesture to the Soviet Union, we can solve this difficulty. We require to be ready to make whatever overtures are possible in Moscow, and to meet whatever overtures they may be ready to make to us. But we ought also to be ready to resist, by force if necessary, all attempts of the Soviet Union to impose their will upon areas which we consider absolutely vital to the maintenance of the free way of life in the world. We want no repetition of what went on in Czechoslovakia in the spring of this year. Outside the main zone of Soviet Russia's influence, we must resist.
I agree that the cold war with Russia is of comparatively recent date, which encourages me to believe that Russia may possibly think again. Three years ago 764 I remember that the voice of Moscow was very different from what it is today. The kind of thing that was being said then was that Socialism was inevitable throughout the world, but that it would come in different countries in different ways and there was no need to force the pace. Only two years ago Mr. Stalin gave an interview to a correspondent in which he said that Russia was still interested in the American Loan. That was before the crisis in the winter of 1946–47 in this country; the coal crisis and the further development of the dollar crisis in the spring and summer of 1947, which made the rulers in Moscow think that the hour had now come and that it was possible to throw over all conciliation and to adopt a more drastic line. The answer of America, Western Europe and those States associated with them, must be that we can solve the economic problems, and then I believe that we shall see a change in Rusian policy.
Meanwhile the Communist parties throughout the world have been nothing more than instruments by which the Soviet Union is attempting to impose on the world its spiritual Imperialism. Russia in its foreign policy advances its ideas—in Czarist times, Czarist ideas and in Communist times, Communist ideas—first in one part of the world where it thinks there is a weakness, then in another. It has clearly received a check in Europe, and now it has switched to Asia. This is nothing new. The other day I came across a letter written by General Skobeloff in 1875, to Emperor Alexander II, when he was leading the Russian Armies in their advance across Central Asia. He wrote:The stronger Russia is in Central Asia the weaker Britain is in India and the more amenable she becomes in Europe.That I believe is true even in 20th century surroundings. The British Empire in India has gone but the whole question is still whether the Indian sub-continent, and Southern Asia for that matter, will follow the Western way of life or whether it will follow the Soviet way of life. Moreover the faster Russia advances across Asia, the further she will tilt the scales in the direction of making it difficult to realise the Marshall Plan in Europe. Once again, Russia hits at a weak spot in Asia to attain her ends elsewhere, just as in 1881 she hit at Britain in Afghanistan in order to attain her ends 765 in the Balkans and in Constantinople. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose
Are we then facing a third world war? I do not think so. We are faced with a re-creation of the Eastern question which troubled our fathers and our grandfathers so much. I do not think that Stalin comes in the same category as Hitler. He does not want a war. He wants the fruits of war without war if possible, and I think he will go a very long way to avoid it. But we must make it quite clear that beyond a certain point he will get war if there is anything like the military aggression which there was in Persia in 1945 or in Czechoslovakia early this year. Therefore, we cannot neglect defences, any more than our fathers and grandfathers did in dealing with Russia. In 1881 Gladstone came down to this House and asked for a credit of £12 million for war preparations if Russia advanced beyond a point on the Afghan frontier. To this day Russia is where she is in Central Asia because he made a firm stand in 1881.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
Before the hon. Gentleman moves from the point he was making about what he calls the advances of Soviet power in other countries, would he explain to the House whether he means that if the French people were to decide to have a Left Wing Government we should then invade France to prevent it? That is what I understood him to say.
§ Mr. Philips Price
The French will not decide to have a Left Wing Government, so the question is hypothetical. I do not propose to build up my speech on hypotheses or to waste the time of the House in this way.
§ Mr. Philips Price
We cannot try to defend a government in the Eastern part of Europe which is directly under Russia's immediate control. We cannot do that because we cannot get there, but we can say that if any force is used West of a line Stettin-Trieste, if any attempt is made to interfere with the integrity and independence of the Turkish Republic or the Kingdom of Persia—
§ Mr. Philips Price
It is nothing of the kind. I use the line in Europe, Stettin-Trieste. In any case Turkey is certainly outside the line of Russia's sphere. Everything in the way the Turkish Republic is developing, shows that she has no use for the Russian way of life. Having visited Persia, Afghanistan and the Arab countries recently, I say that if they are left alone, they also will have no use for the Russian way of life. Therefore, I say that West and South of that line we must take a strong course.
In China a difficult situation has developed. There the circumstances are different. I feel strongly that Communism cannot be resisted by force alone. Communism can only be resisted by setting up against it a form of society which is equitable and fair, and where corruption in high places does not exist and there is no oppression of the poor. That is not true of Nationalist China today. There can be no question but that the advance of Communism in China is entirely due to the rottenness of the national regime there. Communism is advancing because the Chinese peasants are sick of the exactions of landlords and moneylenders and because there is corruption in high places. The Chinese peasant is ready to accept the totalitarian regime of Communism which at least gives a man his daily bread.
Great Britain cannot do much in the Far East owing to her economic weaknesses, but at least we can advise our friends in the United States, from our superior knowledge of the Far East over many generations. We can tell them what are the true facts about China. With the best intentions in the world our American friends have failed to realise the need for reforms in nationalist China. They have poured money and arms into that country—into a bottomless pit. Until the really progressive non-Communist China evolves which will give the people economic liberty as well as personal liberty, which they will not get under the Soviet regime, there will be no chance of stemming the tide.
So also is it true in the Middle East. In Palestine the United States have shown a recklessness and irresponsibility which encourages the extremist elements among 767 the Zionists all the time. Our Government are perfectly right in taking up the stand of resisting extreme Zionist demands and in helping to get a fair deal for the weaker side, the Arab side, because it has not got the American millions behind it. Unfortunately, it must be said that the Arabs in many ways have been their own worst enemy in recent months. Intransigence, muddle and intrigue inside the Arab States are largely responsible for their plight. Transjordan is the one country that has come well out of the last 12 months. The Zionists may laugh and gloat over the situation, but let them not laugh and gloat too long and too loudly.
The Arabs are in a bad way, partly through their own fault, but the day of Arab renaissance will come some time. There are 25 million of them spread over a very large area which has big resources. They are an intelligent people with whom the Zionists must reckon. The Zionists cannot ride roughshod over them, though they think they can today. All well-wishers of the Arabs must hope that they will put their house in order and avoid the spread of Communism which undoubtedly will come if they allow the present state of affairs to continue. Russia will be only too glad to switch from the support of the Zionists to the support of the Arabs, if they think it will suit their book. Meanwhile I see no reason why we should capitulate to the extreme demands of the Zionists or jettison the Bernadotte plan. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) seemed to suggest in their speeches yesterday that we should jettison the Bernadotte plan and base a settlement on the military situation irrespective of what is right.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
Why does the hon. Gentleman attach such high authority to the Bernadotte plan when he himself was prepared—he advocated it—to jettison the plan of the United Nations General Assembly?
§ Mr. Philips Price
At no time have I objected to the Bernadotte plan. I objected to the plan of December last on quite a different basis.
§ Mr. Philips Price
That is a different plan. The plan of November, 1947, shut the Arabs off from the sea. The Bernadotte plan does not. It is much fairer, for that reason. I know the Zionists think that because of Arab stupidity in not accepting the Bernadotte plan at once, and because they have won military successes, they can revert to the situation which was much more favourable to them. In other words, they are trying to impose by force, or trying to get the United Nations to impose for them by force, what they could not get under the Bernadotte plan. That is the course that the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery and the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne advised the Government to support.
I hope that the Government have got some plan for dealing with the tragic situation of Arab refugees I know that the Government have given £1 million. I should like to know under what conditions it was given and how it will be administered. What kind of machinery is there for administering this money?
There is one Arab country which seems to be making use of the Arab defeat in Palestine to impose a reign of terror at home. I refer to Egypt. When I was passing through Egypt recently, I had some of my books taken from my small luggage by the Egyptian police. The books were finally returned but they were on Hindu philosophy and Middle Eastern history. I asked them if they were thinking of banning the Koran as seditious literature. One Arab State at least is trying to suppress discussion, because it dare not tell its own people what has happened. We must keep firm in our relations with such a country, though, of course, it is no affair of ours how Egypt is governed. We must also be quite firm in our intention to stay in the Canal zone, till we get a full treaty with Egypt on all outstanding issues; and in regard to the Sudan, we must stand firm there too and see that we do not leave until the Sudanese are ready to take over, and ensure that we are not going to hand over the country to the present regime in Egypt.
Finally, these are the two points in Asia, the Middle East and the Far East, where the danger lies. The cold war 769 has receded somewhat in Europe, but it is flaming up in the Far East and is incipient in the Middle East. I hope the Government will bear all these points in mind. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe that it is desirable that we should try to have an understanding with these two worlds, but we cannot allow the forceful expansion of the one into the other, and we should try to confine the Soviet world to Eastern Europe and Northern Asia so that it will no longer be a menace to the countries outside.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ Mr. John Foster (Northwich)
The previous speaker took to task the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) about the Palestine question. I feel that these criticisms cannot be applied to the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and also by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), and I would like the Under-Secretary when he replies to say how he meets that suggestion.
The Government are asked to create conditions in Palestine that will lead to a possible settlement, agreed to by both Jew and Arab, and, as the first step towards creating those conditions, the suggestion is that, instead of standing at arm's length from the position in Palestine, which is a reality, they should at least open informal diplomatic intercourse, because, after that has taken place, it will inevitably lead to de facto recognition. The reason for that is because de facto recognition is the facing of reality. If there is a State in Palestine and an authority which is exercising control, even though it is unpleasant, that is a fact which has to be recognised. The whole history of de facto recognition is a history of facing the facts, sometimes pleasant, as when we recognised the budding South American Republics at the beginning of the nineteenth century, sometimes unpleasant, as when we had to accord de facto recognition to Franco in 1939 and to the conquest of Abyssinia.
In this case, the facing of facts will lead towards an improvement in the conditions in which a settlement can be achieved, and I hope that the Under-Secretary will 770 deal with that suggestion and will say whether the Government are prepared to act upon it or not, and, if not, the reasons for not doing so. The present situation is ludicrous. One of our consuls may write to the Mayor of Tel Aviv regarding a matter in which British interests are at stake, but the mayor asks him to refer to the Provisional Government of Israel. The unfortunate consul cannot get any answer, because he is not allowed to approach that Government because we do not recognise that it exists at all. At a recent Radio Convention in Mexico, a former signals officer of the Eighth Army who is now the head of the communications of Israeli, attended, and, as I understand the matter, the British Government took exception to his being present because, they said, he did not represent any recognised Government. It was then left open to the Soviet representative to score a point by saying "My Government recognises it." Is it not rather foolish of us not to face these facts? I ask the Under-Secretary to consider this practical suggestion and to take the first step, which is to institute informal diplomatic intercourse.
The other matter which I wish to raise concerns the criticisms by my right hon. Friend of the Chancellor of the Duchy regarding his attitude to Western Union. The charge which the Chancellor of the Duchy ignored was that of taking the view that only by the establishment of Socialism in each of the component parts of Western Union can the plan be made to work. The Chancellor of the Duchy did not deal with that at all. He quoted at inordinate length some quite irrelevant observations made by him at the Labour Party Conference, and then he said "I do not find any evidence of sabotage there." Of course, he would be unlikely to quote the further passages which would have shown the evidence of sabotage. He should have faced the facts of these further quotations which state, in terms, that Western Union would not work unless each component part was Socialist. What we object to about that is that it is too narrow a view for the chief delegate of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Is there anything at all incongruous in a Socialist believing that this arrangement 771 will not be effective unless its components are Socialists, any more than in a Conservative believing that it will not be effective if there are Socialist Governments to interfere?
§ Mr. Foster
But a Conservative does not believe that. He believes that it can be fully effective when each component part decides itself what kind of internal politics it wants. I believe that to be true, and I am not trying to give a debating answer. I believe that a Socialist who is so intransigent as to believe that it cannot work without each part being Socialist, ought not to be on this delegation.
§ Mr. Warbey
Will the hon. Gentleman say, in that case, if each Government determine their own economic policy, how we could have any effective planning for the whole area?
§ Mr. Foster
Of course, we can have effective economic planning, and Marshall Aid, O.E.E.C. and E.C.A. are proof of that fact. Both the American and British Governments are achieving a very respectable degree of economic co-operation.
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy did not meet the charge. He did not say, "I made a mistake; perhaps it would work, but I rather think it will not work well unless every part is Socialist." That is one answer which the right hon. Gentleman might have given, and he might alternatively have said "Socialism is such a wonderful thing that we cannot have anybody in Western Union who is not a Socialist." He did not deal with that at all.
I wish to support the protest from the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay). We had a very long speech from the Foreign Secretary, about the length of which I do not complain. But I think it is a pity that two long speeches have been made from the Front Bench opposite, one of them evidently founded on the basis that we do not read the newspapers, and the other on the idea that we ought to hear all the details of Labour Party conferences. Neither of these, in my submission, contributes to a foreign affairs Debate, in which people should make suggestions, and in which the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should not give an account culled from the newspapers of 772 what has happened, but should give his views of what the future is going to be, and should detail the problems and the principle on which he will deal with them.
§ 2.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Mackay (Hull, North-West)
This Debate has ranged over many subjects, but I want to confine my remarks to European unity as it has developed under the Brussels Treaty and O.E.E.C. I should like to take up the point made by the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) about the delegation chosen to represent this country at the Paris talks. It is high time that hon. Members opposite gave up this point and recognised that the delegation which has been appointed is a very good delegation. In the first place, its leader is the only Cabinet Minister sent from any country on any delegation. If hon. Members will look at the Resolution which many of them signed in this House, they will see that it asked for a body of this kind, namely, representatives nominated by the Government. If the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who referred to this matter this morning, would only look at the submissions made by the body of which he said he was president, to the Committee in Paris, he would find the words which I am about to quote. Of course, this is another example of the way in which the Tory Front Bench says one thing and Members behind them say another. The memorandum on the whole question dated 23rd November, 1948, and submitted by Mr. Duncan Sandys and others yesterday, says:On the other hand, the decision that the members of the Committee should be selected by Governments instead of by Parliaments raises an issue of principle. But the practical significance of this change depends upon the actual composition of the delegations. In fact, the Governments have designated persons of high public standing, who, taken together, cover a wide range of political opinion. The authority, independence and representative character of the Committee as a whole, appears thus to be assured.It is completely ridiculous when a body like the European movement, of which the right hon. Member for Woodford is the president and about which he spoke this morning, submits a document on these lines, for the right hon. Gentleman to come to this House behind the backs of the people who submitted the document and criticise the delegation who went to Paris. He said that the people 773 composing that delegation were chosen on party lines and that they should have been chosen from other parties; that they should not have been the particular people who were chosen.
§ Mr. J. Foster
I wish to repeat the criticism which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). His objection was that the Government had chosen people who were not the right people to take political decisions. If the hon. Gentleman will look at the terms of reference, he will see that the delegation was to consider and report to the Government on the steps to be taken towards securing a better Western Union.
§ Mr. Mackay
This Committee has to work out practical problems, such as what is to be the agenda of any council created, how it is to be created, and what is the best way to deal with the question. It is entirely a working committee. That being so, why not have people on it who are used to political procedure? After all, the Secretary of the Cabinet in this country is very well versed in the practical problems which will arise in an assembly or a council of Europe set up for the purpose of considering how the Brussels Treaty and O.E.E.C. can be more widely extended to give them political effect. This is entirely a question of political science and how one determines the way in which this organisation is to be created. All the other conferences which have taken place during the past two years have been organised on the same basis.
I spent last week seeing some of the delegations in Paris and talking to people from different countries in Europe who are interested. They all wanted to know why, when a chance is given to get an organisation going, the people in Britain who want it, should seek to depreciate the qualities of the people sent over. Everyone who has been there will appreciate that. It seems a complete absurdity for hon. Members opposite to criticise the delegation and its leader, when they have been working harder than anybody to see that the things for which they stand are properly ventilated and brought before this Commission.
The Chancellor of the Duchy will agree that if anyone has a complaint against him over the Scarborough Conference, 774 it is myself. But hon. Members should recognise that the debate in which he was taking part and the discussion on this point were entirely a question of the federation of Europe. He said that one cannot federate Europe because one is going to put the control of the economy of Britain in the hands of the people in Europe who do not agree with control so that the benefit of four years of development since 1945 may go by the board. It is an argument which hon. Members opposite have used on many occasions; it was used when they walked out of the Interlaken Conference not long ago.
It is completely wrong for the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) to quote a small part of the speech without appreciating the whole Debate. If he reads the Debate, he will find that it was on a resolution for a federation of Europe. The proposer of the resolution does not say that every country must be Socialist. The Chancellor of the Duchy, on behalf of the executive, said that we did not want a federation. He was arguing that case all the time. He argued that if this country went into a federation, we should have to put the controls which exist here at the present time, such as for example, over taxation, and over our indebtedness abroad, and things of that kind under the control of people in other countries. I want to see that happen, but he does not. It is a complete distortion for hon. Members opposite to take a few words out of a speech without reading the whole speech.
I wish to deal shortly with the committee in Paris. I do not want to go into details of schemes proposed by the different Governments, because I have not seen them and know nothing about them, apart from what one reads in the Press. I ask the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary, in the discussion which will take place during the next few weeks, as to whether there shall be either a council of Europe or an assembly, to bear in mind two major questions. The first is that the council should be large enough to be really effective. A council of Ministers can meet at any time. That is not what we are talking about. What I want is something bigger, something which will bring in a number of representatives so that we can have a wider discussion of the whole question of 775 European Union and so that the discussion will be taken on to a larger field.
The second point I wish to make is that the committee should consist of representatives of the 17 countries who are signatories to O.E.E.C. and that they should be nominated by Governments. I am not saying they should only be members of Governments or Government parties. If this were to be a body with legislative and executive power, then it would be right that it should be elected; but that is not the type of body suggested. It is a body to discuss whether we can take further steps to unify Europe, with no legislative or executive power. Its decisions should be decisions which the different Governments will ratify.
My suggestion is that if you take a body of about 110 people, Britain could send, say, 25 and if seventeen or eighteen came from the Government, the other seven or eight could be chosen from other parties and possibly from outside the House of Commons. For example, Sir Harold Butler is a person emminently suitable to go on a delegation of this kind. If we can call a council of Europe early next year so much the better. If we are to have a council of Europe, it should be of about 100 people, the delegates being nominated by the Governments and responsible to the Governments. The decisions which they make will come back to the Governments and we can have some solid effective lead given to them.
I want to suggest three considerations to Members of the House which would have to be borne in mind in any discussion at a council of Europe. It has worried me to sit here and to hear all the time that people are more concerned with individual problems and countries in considering foreign affairs, and that at no time have we had a review from anybody of the principles which should be guiding our foreign policy in the changing conditions of today.
My first suggestion is an economic one, and I do not say that I know the answer. We have to think out the problems threatening us and Europe because of dollar scarcity. The European Recovery Programme may tide us over the next four years, but there are good reasons for saying that because America is not a country depending on imports and must 776 always be putting a large part of her profits in investment in her own country, and whose savings must always be much larger than her export trade, she can never play a part in the world by putting into the normal channels of trade the amount of money required to make multilateral trade work. To my mind dollar scarcity is a permanent thing in our lives for the next 10 or 20 years. The four-year plan which the Government are submitting to the O.E.E.C. in Paris is put forward on the assumption that we shall have convertibility in 1952. That seems to me to be a completely erroneous idea. If this is true, if because of American industrialism and other factors, dollar scarcity is permanent, we have to think what we are to do. We can only do something that works if we think in terms of commodities and not of nations.
We had the Foreign Secretary saying yesterday that the French had to realise that we could not now import their luxuries. In saying that, he was saying that the French people would have to change their methods of production and trade. But we are trying to sell luxuries all over the world in the form of motorcars and other things. We are acting exactly as the French are acting. In planning European recovery we should be thinking in terms of commodities. We are going to find that the whole of Western Europe depends on the imports of raw materials and foodstuffs and the sale of manufactured products abroad. If we are going to plan production all the time for export trade, as we are now doing, each of the 17 countries will come into competition with one another overseas as to the right prices of the goods, and this will make the economic position of each of us quite hopeless. It is obvious that if we are going to do this in the future, we shall be forced ultimately to exchange a Rolls-Royce car for a bushel of wheat before many years are out.
If we accept the dollar scarcity as permanent, and realise that Europe must plan its resources in order to provide much greater food and raw material and other things than have been provided in the past, the next step is to know how to do it. It is ridiculous under the E.R.P. programme that we should buy 26 million dollars worth of cheese from 777 the United States when there is a surplus of cheese in Italy and France. It is ridiculous to think of many of these things as luxuries. The French want to bring luxuries here if we do not put a prohibitive duty on them. If we move the three million unemployed in Italy today into France, we shall get back to the period when France is producing more wheat than Canada, as she was in 1938, and when Italy is producing more wheat than Canada, as she was in 1938.
That brings me to my third point. The whole history of development throughout the centuries is that when social and economic conditions change, it is necessary to alter the political institutions. That was the case with our Revolution in 1688, with the French Revolution and with the Russian Revolution. We must make our political forms conform to the facts; that is an essential condition of recovery in Europe. The fact remains that economic conditions in Europe make our political institutions completely out of date, and that is why we are unable to do anything about recovery in Europe or building further on O.E.E.C. To do that we need some political authority in Europe to create, to handle and to control the economic machinery we require.
There is the question of a council of Europe being constituted shortly. It may not do so much in itself, but it can herald a new age for the European peoples. After all, the fall of the Bastille was a comparatively minor affair. I think it only released four coiners, two madmen and a debauchee, but it heralded a new age in Europe. If, as a result of what is going on in Paris and of the creation of a council of Europe, we can have full and representative discussions on the problems of the political and economic union of Europe, we shall be making a real step not only towards the stability of Europe but towards the peace of the world as well.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Hollis (Devizes)
I shall confine myself to getting quite clear the important point about the part the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has recently been playing. I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for adopting such a personal note, but it is, after all, an important point. The Chancellor of the Duchy told us the observations he made in the course 778 of the Scarborough Conference, which are not particularly here or there, but the fact remains that he supported a resolution calling for the creation of a democratic and Socialist Europe. He promised to support a resolution to co-operate with European Socialist Parties in taking practical steps to achieve the united Socialist States of Europe, and he told my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that he said such a thing could only fully succeed if all the countries of Europe committed themselves, as our electorate did in 1945, to the belief that Socialism is the hope of us all. He also said that he was quite convinced that the success of any scheme for the union of Europe was going to depend on the success of these democratic and Socialist Parties in each of these countries. There is no dispute about the facts. I do not question the right hon. Gentleman's right and sincerity in believing that Socialism is the solution to the future problems of Europe. I simply want to examine whether, under these circumstances, he was the proper person to send to the Paris Conference.
§ Mr. Dalton
I do not want to repeat myself. The hon. Member is, of course, re-quoting a passage which was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington. I do not know whether the hon. Member was in his place when I spoke, but I said that this quotation, while completely accurate, had been taken out of its context, and that the rest of the context I would supply. I have supplied it, and the hon. Member should bear it in mind in any remarks he makes.
§ Mr. Hollis
I am certainly bearing it in mind, and I was present when the right hon. Gentleman spoke. I do not think there is any dispute about the facts. When this exchange took place, the hon. Members for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) supported the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman, that if there is to be a United Europe it can only be a planned Europe, and therefore only a Socialist Europe. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington answered that if that be so, there could not be any united Europe in the near future. We must face the fact that there is about as much chance of Parliamentary Socialists capturing the countries of 779 Western Europe as there is of the man in the moon becoming Prime Minister.
As my right hon. Friend said, people work together without being Socialists; it is fantastic to pretend that that is not possible. It is equally fantastic for Members opposite to equate Socialist economy with planned economy, as if they were synonymous terms. If there is one thing the Government have proved, if they have proved anything at all, it is that they are not guilty of planning. It is interesting to note, when we look at the position of Parliamentary Socialists in Western Europe, that in every country, with the one exception of Norway, they are in a small minority. There is no conceivable chance of their sweeping Western Europe in the immediate future, during which we must find a solution of Western European problems. They are in a small minority, not an increasing minority. They are not a new party. They are a party which dates back from the last century. New parties are coming along and taking the place of the old Socialist parties that are now dying out.
I should like to quote from a source which is not unsympathetic to what is going on today. Mr. Gerald Barry, writing in the "World Review" says:In almost every European country, except Britain, Socialism is on the defensive, if not actually on the run. If Britain had taken the lead in Europe, when Labour came to power in 1945, things might have looked different, but that is another story. The collapse of Liberalism and the first signs of the decay of Socialism are the most depressing phenomena of our present age.The important fact about most distinguished Socialists on the Continent, M. Blum, in France, M. Spaak, in Belgium, and Signor Saragat, in Italy, is that they do not take the line of refusing to co-operate with non-Socialists. On the contrary, they are anxious to co-operate in an age when the obsolete division between laissez faire, on the one side, and Socialism, on the other, is passing away. A solution of our problems depends on recognition of the fact that that division is passing away. Our complaint against the leaders of the present Government is that they were born in the 1880's, and that they have never got over that fact. The Under-Secretary, who is to reply to the Debate, has at least an advantage over his colleagues in that he was born in the 780 20th century. I hope he will address his mind to the problems before us while bearing that fact in mind.
What disturbed me so much about the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday was that he said that Europe could not prosper or recover if Germany and Europe remained divided. He seemed to have no idea of how Europe was to be reunited and the Russians removed from Eastern Europe. I am not complaining, but I am asking what is the answer to that problem. I have a great fear that the foreign policy of the Government and the Foreign Secretary is a policy of drift, and that in the minds of hon. Members opposite is the foolish fallacy that Socialism is really a stopgap against Communism. The objection to that as a principle of foreign policy is that it has nothing to do with foreign policy but is a manoeuvre in domestic politics, which is the worst basis for any foreign policy.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliff)
There is one point I want to deal with in the few minutes at my disposal. Before coming to that, however, I want to make a reference to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) which in many respects was a remarkable and useful speech. He descended into a little pettiness here and there, which is to be excused, but in general content it was a remarkable speech. He did, however, in my opinion, do a very great disservice to the conversations that are going on in Paris at the present time, because there is nothing more likely to damage those conversations than to cast suspicion upon the purposes of the British delegation.
What my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is quoted as having said is quite correct and, as I interjected, should occasion no surprise whatever nor any suspicions of the motives of the Government delegation. What he said was that European federation of European union could not fully succeed unless the component parts were Socialist. There is nothing incongruous in this opinion on the part of a Socialist. On no occasion did he say anything to deprecate association between the non-Socialist and Socialist parties in Europe. I cannot develop that, 781 except to say that I hope that the next speaker on the Opposition will dispose of any such smear upon the purposes of the British delegation.
The positive things that have been done by the Government are substantial, and those on this side of the House who were a little suspicious about the progress that was being made on a functional basis have been highly gratified at the tremendous progress that is now being made. There is no question at all that, as between all the elements in this country and any other parts of Western Europe, there is a tremendous degree of agreement on the objective we are seeking. However, there is one tremendous hiatus. There are, on the one hand, those people who say that the functional approach is the only effective approach at the present time, but who hesitate for legitimate reasons to face the tremendous obstacles involved in creating European federation and trying to overcome all the difficulties of establishing a powerful, central, organised political authority; and on the other hand, there are people who think that federalism is necessary because of the urgency of the position but who are suspicious of what is going on behind closed doors.
Both points of view are very sincerely held. It is but right to say that the position of the Labour Party is becoming more and more clear on this subject. There is one remark I have to make to those on the other side of the House who have talked on this subject. Here I challenge my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on his reference to "conclaves of chatterboxes," which is rather a peculiar way of describing democratic conferences and consultations. I would refer to the pamphlet he mentioned, which makes this remark about "conclaves of chatterboxes." After referring toissues to be debated in democratic discussion under the guiding influence of public opinion,it goes on to say,But there is a danger that if Western Union is organised exclusively inside expert committees far removed from the public gaze, vested interests and bureaucratic inertia may slow down progress below the critical speed, and bad decisions may be reached under pressures which public opinion would not tolerate. Moreover, at some points national groups may be faced with sacrifices"—782 and I refer this particularly to my right hon. Friend—which are unacceptable if people are indifferent to the issues involved and ignorant of the problems.That was a tremendous concession to the necessity for a European assembly. Why is there this hesitation in accepting it? Because, we are told, this assembly would be expected to draw up a cast-iron constitution for a federation of Europe. There is no reason whatever why that should be so. There are alternative courses. There is a bridge which can be erected between these two points of view, and which I believe would solve all the problems that face both sides.
One hon. Member opposite, who made the monstrous suggestion that we should wind up the United Nations organisation altogether as completely useless and ineffective, at least made the concession that he would keep the I.L.O. Why? Because the I.L.O. is the one functional organisation of the League of Nations which, through all the vicissitudes of war and peace, has survived because of the peculiarity of its constitution which, while avoiding all the complications and commitments of a really authoritative assembly with executive powers, is still able to co-ordinate the activities of its various sections and is able, through its assembly and its governing body to concentrate public opinion on the issues and to concretise that opinion.
I believe firmly that if the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Duchy—who are both partisans of the I.L.O., as I am—will examine its implications in regard to this problem, they may find the solution which everybody in France, Belgium and this country and other parts of the Western world so ardently desires. Unfortunately, I have not the time to go into a discussion of the adaptations and adjustments of the I.L.O. constitution, representation methods, and so on, which would be necessary, but the system of conventions to which on one is firmly bound, but which nevertheless have the pressure of public opinion behind them—and the history of the ratification of I.L.O. conventions is sufficient evidence of the force of that opinion—and of Recommendations as an intermediate step towards a convention, offers a solution. In view of the importance of this issue, and the urgency of its solution, I impress 783 upon the Front Bench that this is a suggestion worthy of serious consideration.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
Like my two immediate predecessors I realise that I have to make a telegraphic speech; it is a slight flaw, but I will do my best. Naturally I am delighted to welcome the complete conversion of my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay). It is splendid that he should have come round so nicely and so well. He will remember that at Interlaken I advocated precisely the kind of council that he advocated this afternoon, and also a deliberative and consultative assembly for Western Europe; and the hon. Member for North-West Hull opposed me vehemently. He swung the conference against me, in favour of a written federal constitution for Europe. I was beaten then, but now I emerge triumphant. I am delighted. I am always welcoming converts, sooner or later, to my point of view. It is no new sensation; but it still gives me great pleasure, and I am glad the hon. Gentleman has come round.
He said it was necessary that this delegation in Paris should be of use. I quite agree. I think it may be. He also said it was necessary that the members should be unprejudiced. There I am afraid I am not so sure. I see the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster sitting before me. Can he put his hand on his heart and say that he is altogether unprejudiced? I do not think so. I suppose we should be grateful to him for coming back all the way from Paris to give us, at second-hand, a speech that he delivered some months ago at Scarborough. I myself was not very grateful. I thought, on the whole, it was pretty poor stuff; not worth repeating at such length for the second time, and indeed rather insulting to us. If we were to hear it at all, we might have heard it, as it were, fresh instead of stinking. Never mind; we got it. I found myself wondering, while it was going on, how the hon. Member for North-West Hull enjoyed the flaming denunciation of federation or federal union in any shape or form. Does he still think that the right hon. Gentleman is the best possible leader for our delegation?
§ Mr. Mackay
Since the hon. Gentleman is gracious enough to give way, does he realise that the committee in Paris is working out details of the assembly and is not discussing federation?
§ Mr. Boothby
That must be a great relief to the hon. Gentleman. One point to which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy did not refer was the point made so often on this side of the House that he has said several times that we cannot have an effective Western Union of any kind in Europe except upon a purely Socialist basis. We challenge that absolutely. We think it is a denial of democracy as such; and a denial of the whole point of a democratic Western federation, which is that people should be free to express their own points of view and that it should contain all parties. We say that it is a travesty of the whole conception of democracy to say it can be founded only upon a Socialist basis. The right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to deny that charge.
§ Mr. Dalton
I was waiting to hear some speech of mine quoted. One speech was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman and I have supplied the missing context. If further quotations from other speeches of mine are made, I will equally supply the missing context. So far there has been only one.
§ Mr. Boothby
I hoped the right hon. Gentleman would say, in his well-known, genial way, that he thinks other people besides Socialists can take part in a Western Union. If he just says that, I shall be quite satisfied. That is all I am asking.
§ Mr. Boothby
The right hon. Gentleman also, I think, got his history entirely wrong. He said The Hague Conference had had no effect. I do not believe that for a moment. I believe that when the historians come to write the history of Europe during the immediate post-war years they will trace the impetus in the United States which culminated in Marshall Aid to the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition at Zurich. The cause, and the effect. Secondly, they will trace the impetus given to this whole 785 movement towards closer unity in Western Europe directly to The Hague Conference. It would have been a disaster if the right hon. Gentleman had been successful in sabotaging that conference, as he tried most desperately hard to do.
I do not want to continue on the theme of Western Union because the right hon. Gentleman, happily, has thrown open the portals of this Conference in Paris to any responsible opinion. I hope he takes the view that I am responsible. Then, perhaps, he will allow me to submit to him in Paris, either verbally or in writing, such further views as I hold. Thus I shall be able to confine my speech to the time to which I am limited.
The one other subject about which I wanted to say something is the thorny question of Palestine. As a life-long Zionist—I confess it quite frankly—I have long desired to express a view, which, I think, is quite a moderate view. I think many hon. Members will agree that the White Paper of 1939 was a swing round right against the whole of our considered policy ever since the first world war. That White Paper prohibited any further immigration into Palestine; but, with half a million Jews already in Palestine, it was impossible to carry out this proposal.
What happened? The war came, and the White Paper was abandoned by tacit agreement. The important point, which has not, I think, been sufficiently mentioned, is that during the war the Jews of Palestine fought for us. They wanted to form a corps of their own. They did, in the end, form a brigade. But it cannot be said that either the Mufti or Raschid Ali Pasha fought for us. They fought against us. Then we came through at the end of the war; and at the last General Election, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition so clearly pointed out, the Socialist Party gave the most tremendous pledges to the Zionists. I remember reading them at the time. They won a tremendous lot of votes by giving those pledges. We gave no pledges; but we would have done much better for the Jews.
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary then swallowed the policy of the Foreign Office, hook, line and sinker—in so far as it had a policy at all. But what did it amount to? For the first two years, a total refusal to accept any 786 kind of responsibility at all. He kept the troops there. That is all he did. He staked his political reputation on finding a solution, but he found no solution; and, even then, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition pointed out having, as it were, thrown in his hand having done nothing to impose any kind of a solution, he obstructed the first U.N.O. scheme, and waited another year before finally abandoning the Mandate.
In the end he put all his money on an Arab victory, without apparently thinking for a second that the result of a total Arab victory would have involved the complete destruction of 30 years' constructive work and effort on the part of this country in Palestine. We have now to face the facts. The result went against the right hon. Gentleman; the Jews have won the victory. I hold no brief whatever for the violent terrorists who did so much damage to the Jewish cause, no-one can; but the fact remains that the struggle which the Jews finally conducted against these Arab forces was an epic struggle, which will have value, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said, in the world's history. If I believed with the same conviction of many hon. Members in the power of transcendental forces in our human affairs, I should regard this Jewish victory, in the face of such opposition, as something of a miracle; and see, in this further deliverance, the hand of Providence. Because it was almost incredible a few months ago that the Jews could or should have triumphed against so great an opposition as that which was launched against them.
What now? I know very well that the Jews are not universally popular. I myself have always liked best those Jews who were Zionists, and least those who were opposed to Zionism and would have nothing to do with it. I am told that many of those who now occupy executive positions in the Government of Israel fought for this country in the Eighth Army during the war—a very large number of them did. I believe that to be true. I am also told, and believe it, that Dr. Weizman, one of the best friends and wisest counsellors this country has ever had, feels deeply grieved at what we have done; and well he may. In alienating his support, we have not gained the support of the Mufti. He remains, as he has always been, a great enemy of this country. And the Egyptians, now in full 787 flight, do not seem to have changed very much either. Meanwhile, about half a million unhappy Arab refugees have this Government to thank for their plight.
§ Mr. Boothby
When one backs a loser one has to pay; and it is better to pay with some dignity. Our stake in the Middle East is vital. We cannot afford to lose all our influence as well as our prestige there; nor can we afford to quarrel deeply with the Americans over this issue. There are only two people who matter now, the Jews—the State of Israel—and King Abdullah, to whom we are pledged, and have the greatest obligations upon which we cannot go back. U.N.O. does not now matter in the least. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) that it has done nothing, can do nothing, and will do nothing—
§ Mr. Boothby
No, I cannot give way, I have not the time. I only ask the hon. Gentleman who is to reply to say what is the objection to giving de facto recognition to the Israeli Government, and to bringing about direct negotiations, as best we can, between them and King Abdullah? That is the only policy; and the only hope.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)
I will try later in my speech to reply to the points put on Palestine by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby). My right hon. Friend yesterday covered very fully many of the most important subjects concerning Western Europe, the proposals for a North Atlantic Pact, the progress made under the Brussels Treaty, the work of the Paris Committee of the O.E.E.C. and the economic recovery of Europe and of Germany. With the exception of the very much disputed subject of the British delegation to the Paris Committee, I think there has been very general agreement on these broader schemes and I will not follow speeches made this afternoon, much as I would like to, such as the helpful and well-informed speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay). I must deal rather 788 with the other aspects raised in the Debate and try to give a reply to them.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition this morning raised several questions outside Europe, one of them Hong Kong, in which he asked for a statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government. I think there is no need to make any formal or long statement. I will merely state that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to maintain their position in Hong Kong. We entirely appreciate the importance of Hong Kong as described by the right hon. Gentleman. Indeed, we feel that in this particularly troubled situation the value and importance of Hong Kong as a centre of stability will be greater than ever.
The right hon. Gentleman also made a reference to Spain. Indeed, I think it is the first time that His Majesty's Opposition have openly stated that they wish for Franco Spain to be inside the project for Western Union, that is to say unless this was another example of the latitude which the right hon. Gentleman now enjoys in speaking for the Opposition on matters of foreign policy. We now hear that his view on Palestine is not the view of His Majesty's Opposition. On Spain we understand it is.
§ Mr. Churchill
I certainly never said that the opinions which I expressed, and which my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) expressed, were not the views of the Conservative Party. They are the views of the Conservative Party. Reasonable latitude is given but they are the formal views put forward and agreed to by our party.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Nevertheless, on the subject of Palestine, and on the subject of European unity, I think His Majesty's Government have put up a very ragged show during this Debate.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I meant His Majesty's Opposition, of course.
On the subject of Spain, however, I understand that the Opposition are united and that it is now considered that Franco Spain—
§ Mr. Mayhew
—should enter into the comity of Western Europe. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman actually defended the role of Franco Spain during the war. He elaborated a new and extremely strange thesis that, provided a country attacks one's Allies, and is not actually facing one's own troops, its part in the war is something which can easily be neglected after the war—a fantastic theory. The Blue Division fought against Russia, and the Blue Division was therefore an effective ally of the Nazis and the Fascists. We say that the record of Franco Spain during the war is a serious reason why we cannot consider the welcoming of Franco Spain into the comity of Western Europe.
§ Mr. Churchill
How then can the hon. Gentleman welcome Italy? [Interruption.] On the contrary, large numbers of Italian troops fought against Russia.
§ Mr. Mayhew
If the Spanish people were given a free opportunity of choosing their Government, such as the Italian people have had—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Russians? "]—I am speaking about Spain. Spain has been outlawed by the United Nations and we are, therefore, not in a position to agree with the right hon. Gentleman on that matter. We know how important a democratic Spain could be to the project of Western Union. We know of what value E.R.P. could be to the people of Spain in the economic recovery of their country. All these things are possible and desirable, but those who want to join the club must obey the rules of the club—[Interruption.] —I am referring to Western Union. There must be a moral and political basis for Western Union and in that moral and political basis Franco Spain cannot have a part.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to his book. It is not for me on behalf of His Majesty's Government to discuss the merits or otherwise of his book, but I can say that a political system which 790 declines to allow even his book to be read by the citizens of that country is not the kind of political system which is fit for Western Union.
§ Mr. Mayhew
As for the United Nations, it would be a first class psychological and political blunder for us to support the entry of Franco Spain into the United Nations at this time.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The right hon. Gentleman referred to Greece and certain of my hon. Friends also have referred to Greece. The right hon. Gentleman made no particularly helpful reference, but on the subject of Greece I would like to say a word or two because the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) and the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) also referred to it. There is no encouraging news at all to report from Greece. There is a lack of political courage and a lack of firm leadership, and in spite of exceptional military operations this year the prospects of peace are still far away. There still remain the tragedies referred to by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe). There are hundreds of thousands of refugees; there are poverty, unsettlement and fear. There is loss of life and there are hundreds of feuds. It is only natural that we should consider all possible courses for bringing the conflict to an end.
I want to refer to the campaign, supported by over 60 hon. Members and launched by the Union of Democratic Control, which suggested that the United Nations should send a mediation commission to Greece to try to bring the two sides together. It was referred to by the hon. Member for Maldon. In the view of His Majesty's Government this scheme is wholly impracticable. It is in direct conflict with the charter of the United Nations and with the recommendations of this year's Assembly of the United Nations. We consider it would be more likely to perpetuate this class of conflict. The Charter expressly precludes intervention in matters which are essentially within the jurisdiction of any State.
I must make clear the distinction to be drawn between mediation between the Greek Government and the rebels, on the 791 one hand, and, on the other, between the Greek Government and the Governments of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania. So far as mediation goes between the Greek Government and the rebel bands, the Government having been elected under the supervision of a team of 1,000 international observers, the Greek Government's relations with the rebel bands are a matter for the Greeks and not for the United Nations.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I am afraid I cannot give way. In any event, we consider that this would not meet the case, because it does not touch upon the basic cause of the disturbances in Greece. The basic cause is the determination of the Communist northern neighbours of Greece to keep the flames alight. That reality is recognised by the General Assembly in the resolution in which it approved the report of the United Nations Special Commission for the Balkans to the effect that the Greek guerrillas have received assistance on a large scale from Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria with the knowledge of the Governments concerned. The resolution also stated that the Assembly considered that this assistance injures the position in the Balkans and is inconsistent with the United Nations Charter. It called on the Communist countries to cease this assistance and to co-operate with Greece.
§ Mr. Boothby
On a point of Order. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) is reading a newspaper. I do not blame him, but is it in order?
§ Mr. Mayhew
This campaign cuts across initiative, ignores realities, and would not be helpful in solving the Greek problem. The speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) was, I am afraid, his usual speech—or rather it was slightly unusual in one respect. Now and again in his speeches one sees a deviation from the official Cominform line. Yesterday, in the course of a lengthy speech, I noticed not one single deviation from Cominform policy. I think the key to his speech was his phrase:The Socialist quarter of humanity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 9th December, 1948; Vol. 459, c. 614.]792 We should face honestly the implications of what he said. What is this Socialist quarter of the world? It is the quarter of the world from which comes the stream of Socialist exiles to the West, the exiles for whom the British Labour Party has started a special refugee fund. The Socialist quarter of the world is the quarter of the world where the gaols are filled with Socialists. It is the quarter of the world from which comes the stream of propaganda against the Socialist parties of the world, against the British Labour Party, the German Social Democrats, the Austrian Socialists, and against our comrades in France, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, New Zealand, India and Ceylon. This so-called Socialist quarter of the world is, in fact, the enemy of Socialism in the world today.
The hon. Member said that we must revise some of our moral and intellectual preconceptions. I suggest that this is one of the adjustments that Socialists in this country must make. I say that a speech such as that of my hon. Friend, which is founded on this false assumption, is not a contribution to the cause of peace and Socialism.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
May I ask my hon. Friend what political conclusions he draws from his analysis? Do we want war with this quarter of humanity or is he prepared to make peace with them?
§ Mr. Mayhew
If there was time I would carry on with that important topic. I merely wanted to challenge the basic assumptions of my hon. Friend's speech, because I believe that it is important to do so.
Before coming to discuss Palestine—and I am sorry to hurry in this way—I will make a few remarks about the United Nations organisation. The meeting of the General Assembly is coming to a conclusion. I should have liked my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who has borne the heavy burden of the General Assembly, to have been here to report to the House. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), the hon. and gallant Member for the isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke), the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) and others all made reference to the Assembly. I reassure the House that I shall not give a full account of all the debates that have 793 gone on in the General Assembly of the United Nations; they were distinguished for length, repetitiveness and violence. I should like to deal with one point which has been mentioned by several speakers —namely the "bickering and black-guarding" which went on in the debates. It was implied that this was not confined to the delegates from Communist countries.
For several years past delegates to the United Nations have been familiar with attacks from delegates from Communist countries on the institutions, policies and even personalities of the Western democracies. This year, it is true, was notable in that these attacks on occasion drew extremely frank and direct replies from Western delegates, especially from delegates from the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom adopted this course after thought and with reluctance. We believe it is better if the meetings are conducted peacefully without polemics. Polemics raise the temperature and hold up the proceedings They also put the spokesmen for the democracies at something of a disadvantage if they are scrupulous, as they are, about telling the truth and being consistent. For those reasons, in the past we have allowed these attacks to go by either in silence or with formal acknowledgement. But it has not been possible to maintain this attitude. There are times when silence can be mistaken too easily for lack of conviction and moral courage.
There are times when, in Debate, attack on the ground of one's own choosing is the most appropriate and effective method of reply, and it is true that selected and distorted facts constantly and vigorously repeated, can confuse the judgment, or at least lower the morale, of those who have to hear them. Therefore, as these hon. Members have mentioned in the Debate, there has been an unprecedented vigour about the language of United Kingdom delegates at the United Nations Assembly from time to time. I believe that is necessary, and I believe that the reason for it is understood. If a propaganda battle is imposed upon us, we have no alternative but to defend ourselves as best we can.
I come now to the subject of Palestine, and, before dealing with the more general political questions, I would like to say a few words on the subject of the Arab refugees, on which I thought the remarks of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen 794 (Mr. Boothby) were most ungenerous. I do not think there is any Government in the world which has done more than His Majesty's Government to try to solve the problem of the Arab refugees, or to bring help to them urgently. The subject has been mentioned by many speakers and it is a tragic and urgent one indeed. There are several different refugee problems in the world today. It used to be said that the refugee problem was the aftermath of a war, but it is not so now. In Greece, in Palestine, in China, in Western Germany, the refugee problem is something either new or growing, and not simply the aftermath of a war. Each of the refugee problems has been assisted by a great deal of work done by the international refugee organisation.
The plight of the Arab refugees in and around Palestine is almost certainly the most urgent and desperate problem of all. The hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) argued the political point whether they had been driven out by the Jews or not. The Government's attitude is that we should forget questions of politics and regard this primarily as a humanitarian question, and deal with it on a non-political basis. We have taken the initiative and we are not ashamed of the work we have done, a full account of which has already been given to the House. We were the first to raise the question in the Security Council. We advanced £100,000 on our own initiative, and we took the initiative at this Assembly of sponsoring and getting through a resolution on the basis of which Arab relief is now founded. An organisation has now been set up and Governments asked to contribute. We promised £1 million before the resolution was passed, and that sum is now at the disposal of the organisation. The French promised £500,000, and we have a lively hope of a substantial contribution from the United States. Other countries have promised supplies in kind. Supplies are arriving, not through this new initiative, but from a previous one, and the results of the new initiative have yet to be realised. The Arab Governments themselves have made very great efforts. The position is still extremely grave and extremely tragic.
On the political side of the Palestine question, I cannot undertake now a broad and comprehensive defence of the 795 Government's attitude, or even a survey of the problem, but we have been attacked on three main points. It has been stated by several speakers that, in some way, we are holding up successful direct negotiations between the two parties. Secondly, it has been stated that we have widened the gap and parted company with the United States on this subject. Thirdly, it has been stated that we must recognise the State of Israel.
On the first of these points, to say that we are holding up or interfering with direct negotiations between the parties is a complete misstatement of our position. We have always been anxious and tried our best to promote free negotiations between the parties, but they must be free negotiations, freely entered into. We shall be no party to any move to compel the weaker side to sit down under the stronger; rather than do that, we shall continue our efforts to persuade the United Nations organisation to accept the responsibility of implementing its own recommendations for a settlement. Nor is the second accusation levelled against the Government just—that we have parted company on this issue with the United States of America. There have, of course, been wide differences between the two countries in the past. I am bound to say that we have not always found our American friends wholly consistent on this issue. However, the differences are not so wide today as they were; we have drawn closer together with the United States on the substance of this problem.
A short while ago my right hon. Friend announced to this House our support of the Bernadotte proposals. The House will be aware that these proposals were also endorsed by Mr. Marshall in a public statement. At that time, there was little or no criticism in this House of the Bernadotte proposals. That was, of course, not only a narrowing of the gap, but a substantial basis of agreement with the United States. Since then, in regard to the Resolution and the Amendments to the Resolution of the United Nations, we have, in fact, on all points of substance, found ourselves voting with the United States of America.
On the third point raised by many speakers—the question of recognition of the State of Israel—the Government 796 have, of course, no intention of perman ently ostracising the Jews. We look forward to the establishment of friendly relations with them. Mr. Marriott, His Majesty's Consul-General at Haifa, has been back here for consultations, and the question of establishing better means of contact with the Jewish authorities, without prejudice to the question of recognition, is being closely studied by the Government. We hope to make a further statement very soon. However, we cannot decide on the question of recognition before we consider the results of the deliberations of the current Assembly, or without taking into account the observance or non-observance of the Security Council truce. I must make it clear that the consideration we are giving to the establishment of these closer contacts does not mean that we are prepared to act as mediators in any way in any further negotiations for a settlement. Before recognition can be granted, we must have some assurance as to what the frontiers of Israel are to be. Surely, we must have some assurance about the observance of the truce, and some assurance about any further claims that might be made by the Jewish authorities against their neighbour States. Surely, that attitude is reasonable? For these reasons, I am not able, at this time, to state that we are prepared to recognise the State of Israel.
I am afraid I have left myself no time to deal with many of the other points raised in the Debate. I would assure hon. Members that we will very carefully study the speeches made, and I shall be very glad to write to them to explain the views of my right hon. Friend on the many points they have raised.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
Before my hon. Friend sits down, could he just say whether he can do anything to save the lives of those men in Greece during the coming weeks, following his own precedent of last May?
§ Mr. Mayhew
It has been stated quite recently that, in relation to the trials of foreign nationals in foreign countries, we can only intervene where either British interests or British treaty rights are involved.
§ Mr. Driberg
Then why was my hon. Friend able to intervene in Greece last 797 May on behalf of Greek Nationals? Will he answer me that?