§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. William Whiteley.]
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I realise that there is intense interest in the House in this Debate, which is to last two days. I am also so conscious that what I say can so easily be misinterpreted in other countries that I propose to exercise very great care in the presentation of the Government's position. We are, indeed, at a critical moment in the organisation of the postwar world, and decisions we now take, I realise, will be vital to the future peace of the world. What, however, I have first to put before the House is the factual background against which decisions must now be taken. I do not propose to weary the House with a long history, because every Member is already conversant with it; there have been so many Debates in connection with these problems. I must, however, recapitulate in so far as it is essential for an understanding of His Majesty's Government's proposals for the future.
The story begins with a series of conferences which were held during the war, and at which many ideas were formed. Some were crystallised. Some were not. In this connection, of the political developments that have taken place, one of the 384 main issues at that time, affecting the line of subsequent policy was connected with the future of Poland. The solution arrived at at Yalta was looked upon by His Majesty's Government at that time as a sensible compromise between conflicting elements, but there is no doubt that, as it has evolved, it has revealed a policy on the part of the Soviet Union to use every means in their power to get Communist control in Eastern Europe, and, as it now appears, in the West as well. It therefore matters little how we temporise, and maybe appease, or try to make arrangements.
It has been quite clear, I think, that the Communist process goes ruthlessly on in each country. We have seen the game played out in Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, more recently in Roumania, and, from information in our possession, other attempts may be made elsewhere. Thus, the issue is not simply the organisation of Poland or any other country, but the control of Eastern Europe by Soviet Russia, whose frontiers have, in effect, been advanced to Stettin, Trieste and the Elbe. One has only to look at the map to see how since the war, Soviet Russia has expanded and now stretches from the middle of Europe to the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin. Yet all the evidence is that she is not satisfied with this tremendous expansion. In Trieste we have difficulties. We had hoped that the method of international agreement would be allowed to work; but it has not been allowed to work, and so what should have been a great experiment in postwar international collaboration has only been a continuing source of friction and bother.
Then we have the great issue in Greece, which is similar to the others I have mentioned. It has been assumed—in fact, said—that the Soviet Union can wait; that the United States of America and Great Britain will get tired; and that the so-called Government of Communist rebels can be recognised later on without danger; and then, in the end, that a Communist Government will be forced upon Greece, and she will be incorporated in the Soviet system of Communism with the rest. Here, let me make His Majesty's Government's position quite clear. We had hoped to be out of Greece. We had hoped that after the first election a Government would be formed; that in time subsequent elections would take place, and the whole process of democratic 385 development would be allowed to function. But that has not been allowed, because a state of virtual civil war has been perpetuated the whole time. So, it is not a question of what sort of elected Government there is in Greece—Liberal, Coalition, or whatever it might be—but it is a ruthless attempt, constantly maintained, to bring that country in the Soviet orbit.
Like Trieste, the Greek issue involves the signatures on treaties recently signed by all of us, all the Allies, including the Great Powers. I would remind the House that Greece had claims for an alteration of her frontiers. I came to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that probably Greece would be more secure if Great Britain did not insist upon that, and that the signatures on the Peace Treaty would have been a guarantee on our honour of her integrity, and there would be no attempt to pursue and trouble her further. But that has not been permitted. I know that I have been pursued in this country on this Grecian question as if it were a question between a Royalist and a Socialist Government or Liberal Government. It is nothing of the sort, and never has been. I beg all my friends in this House to face the fact: This is a dangerous situation. It a case of power politics. We have been trying to leave Greece an independent country and to get out of it; but we also want her northern neighbours, and everybody else, to leave her alone and to get o[...] of it. We will do that immediately they lift their fingers and honourably agree.
I would remind the House that the United Nations have been brought in, but they have been flouted by the Balkan neighbours of Greece. There is a very real danger that they and their Soviet mentors may make a great blunder over this business. In all solemnity, I would advise great care. Provocations like these lead sometimes to serious developments which we, and I hope they, are anxious to avoid. It would be better to settle this matter in accordance with the decisions of the Assembly of the United Nations than in the promotion of civil war, or in giving any kind of recognition to the Marcos junta, or in attempting the methods which have been applied elsewhere. There is the Assembly decision, and if we accept Assembly decisions in other matters, we should accept the 386 decision in the case of Greece. I say no more than this, that it is dangerous in international affairs to play with fire.
We have had other examples since the war, which I need not go into now—wars of nerves and pressure upon weaker neighbours. It is the considered view of His Majesty's Government that attempts to settle international affairs by political barrages and by wars of nerves reduce the chances of finding acceptable solutions, and make agreement difficult, if not impossible. Propaganda is not a contribution to the settlement of international problems. They are all so important that the only way to solve them is coolly and calmly to deal with them on their merits. So much for the background of Eastern Europe. I would remind the House that it is under three years since the war ended, and I hope still that, with the right use of power and organisation, these difficulties may be overcome. Meanwhile, we must face the facts as they are. Our task is not to make spectacular declarations, nor to use threats or intimidation, but to proceed swiftly and resolutely with the steps we consider necessary to meet the situation which now confronts the world.
Let me now turn to the background in Germany, which has led to considerable difficulty. Here again: there were recent Debates, so I will confine myself to a limited survey. There was a discussion at Yalta about the dismemberment of Germany. His Majesty's Government have always considered that dismemberment would inevitably start an irredentist movement, causing a resurgence not of a peaceful Germany, but of a spirit of war. For those reasons we have been against it. We, therefore, welcomed the change of attitude that appeared to have evolved by the time we got to Potsdam. In a sentence I will make clear what it was. The proposal was limited to central agencies, to the evolution of a new German State on a new basis; and to do it there was to be economic unity, and a gradual evolution on a Four-Power basis which would lead ultimately to a peace treaty and a German Government competent to sign it.
That, I think, describes in a sentence the approach to the whole problem. After we left Potsdam, things began to go wrong. The central agencies d'd not materialise, and it was not long before we 387 discovered, in the Four-Power Conferences in Berlin, that the Soviet Government had taken to hurling accusations at the Western Allies at meeting after meeting, instead of trying to evolve a common policy. Real progress seemed almost impossible. I do not deny that many things were done, and I want to pay my tribute to the Russian representatives who, when free to discuss things on their merits, are grand people to get on with, but who, when it comes to this political business, are held up and this delay and irritation then proceeds. The military governors left to themselves could have settled far more than they did in Germany on the basis of Potsdam, if they had been permitted to do so.
We have had discussions about these problems at the Council of Foreign Ministers, where at every step we have tried to meet anything which might look like a legitimate claim. But, the Moscow Conference last spring was certainly very revealing. We were there over six weeks. It is a matter of historical knowledge that His Majesty's Government devoted time and energy to trying to give that conference a working basis; but any rational meeting, where there was a will to do business could have done in a week everything we did in that six weeks. It was I must confess, very wearying, and even difficult to keep one's temper at times. Calm judgment in the conditions under which we had to work was very difficult.
Then, between the Moscow and London Conferences, other events took place. I will not enumerate many of them, but perhaps the most important development, which brought all this to a head and caused the whole issue of Europe to be focused, was the proposal by Mr. Marshall for a European recovery programme. That brought out what must have been there before. In other words, this programme brought vividly to light what must have been under the surface, and what was responsible for these attitudes ever since the war, and, if I may say so, for some of the events we had to face during the war.
The conception of the unity of Europe and the preservation of Europe as the heart of Western civilisation is accepted by most people. The importance of this has become increasingly apparent, not only to all the European nations as a 388 result of the post-war crises through which Europe has passed and is passing, but to the whole world. No one disputes the idea of European unity. That is not the issue. The issue is whether European unity cannot be achieved without the domination and control of one great Power. That is the issue which has to be solved. I have tried on more than one occasion to set forth, in this House and at international conferences, the British policy which has been carefully considered in connection with Europe.
This policy has been based on three principles. The first is that no one nation should dominate Europe. The second is that the old-fashioned conception of the balance of power as an aim should be discarded if possible. The third is that there should be substituted Four-Power co-operation and assistance to all the States of Europe, to enable them to evolve freely each in its own way. As regards the first principle, I am sure this House and the world will realise that if a policy is pursued by any one Power to try to dominate Europe by whatever means, direct or indirect—one has to be frank—one is driven to the conclusion that it will inevitably lead again to another world war and I hope that that idea will be discarded by all of us. It is this which His Majesty's Government have striven and will continue to strive to prevent.
With the old-fashioned balance of power, it was a question of having a series of alliances, and so manipulating them that, as each State moved in a particular direction, it was counteracted. I have no doubt that that led to intrigues and all kinds of difficulties, particularly for the smaller States, which often became the instruments of great Powers. On behalf of His Majesty's Government, I have stated that we will not use smaller powers as instruments of policy to produce difficulties between the larger Powers; thereby giving the smaller Powers a chance to evolve, under the umbrella of the Four Powers, without the feeling of fear or conflict. His Majesty's Government cannot agree to Four-Power cooperation while one of those four Powers proceeds to impose its political and economic system on the smaller States. On the contrary, as public opinion in those States changes, and as their 389 economic and social development progresses, none of them will willingly submit to the Great Powers interfering and preventing the introduction of economic changes, or any other changes, which they deem to be for their own good.
There is another factor giving great cause for anxiety. It evolved largely with Hitler and Mussolini, and now, I am afraid, it has become an instrument of a very dangerous kind in Europe, and that is what we describe as the "police State." We did not imagine that this would be maintained after the war, but it is, and it is carried out with ruthless efficiency. I must say, while we hear talk about elections and democracy, that where the police State exists, votes count for very little. It is true that the votes have not disappeared, but it is the voter himself who disappears and the successful candidate if he dares to have an opinion of his own.
As we saw in the Press the other day, some members of parliament in Bulgaria said that they objected to the budget, and they were immediately threatened because they had objected to the taxation proposed. The Americans and ourselves were immediately condemned, and made responsible for these men's opinions about their Budget. I have never known anybody welcome a Budget, especially when it involves increased taxation; and all this is purely nonsensical. I regret these statements, especially by a man like Dimitrov, the former hero of the Reichstag, who now seems to have taken to himself some of the characteristics of the bully and the braggart. This kind of thing creates very great difficulty.
As another illustration, we have the case of Jacob Kaiser, the leader of the German Democratic Party, the Christian Democrats, who has been prevented from leading his party in the Soviet zone of Germany for not bowing to the Soviet will. His friends have been visited in their houses and have been intimidated. The Social Democrats, I may add, had been dealt with and, indeed, suppressed in the Soviet zone much earlier.
One could give hundreds of instances of the subtlety and cruelty of this police State instrument, and I cannot see how a healthy democracy can grow up while it exists. If there was one thing that aroused Britain and made her fight so 390 hard in the world war, it was when she realised fully, for the first time, what the Gestapo meant. We hoped that the end of the war would mean the end of the police State, as well as of all instruments of that character. We have always accepted—I would emphasise this—and I repeat it now, that the friendliest relations should exist between Russia and the States on the Russian frontier; indeed, not only on the frontier—we want these friendly relations with everybody. It is madness to think of anything else if we are ever to have peace. That is quite a different thing from cutting off Eastern Europe from the rest of the world, and turning it into an exclusively self-contained bloc under the control of Moscow and the Communist Party.
§ Mr. Bevin
The European Recovery Programme brought all this to a head, and made us all face up to the problem of the future organisation. We did not press the Western Union—and I know that some of our neighbours were not desirous of pressing it—in the hope that when we got the German and Austrian peace settlements, agreement between the Four Powers would close the breach between East and West, and thus avoid the necessity of crystallising Europe into separate blocs. We have always wanted the widest conception of Europe, including, of course, Russia. It is not a new idea. The idea of close relationship between the countries of Western Europe first arose during the war, and in the days of the Coalition it was discussed. Already in 1944 there was talk between my predecessor and the Russian Government about a Western association.
His Majesty's Government at that time indicated to the Soviet Government that they would put the establishment of a world organisation first on their list. In any case, they proposed to rely on the Anglo-Soviet Alliance for the purpose of containing Germany, and eventually there might be similar arrangements between France and Great Britain and France and the Soviet Union for this purpose. That was in 1944. We also indicated that it might be desirable to have defence arrangements with Western Europe for the purpose of instituting a common defence policy against the possible revival 391 of German aggression, and to determine what role each State should play in the matter of armaments and the disposal of Forces. We indicated that when these matters arose, we would keep the Soviet Government informed, which we did. In 1945, however, there was a great deal of Soviet criticism, especially of this country, over the supposed formation of a Western bloc against the Soviet Union, which was quite untrue. At that time, we had not even had a meeting with our Western Allies to discuss the matter; and yet daily this criticism was poured out on the radio and in "Pravda" and the rest of it—a constant repetition.
When I was in Moscow, therefore, in December 1945, and saw Generalissimo Stalin, I explained that the United Kingdom must have security arrangements with France and other neighbouring countries, just as the Soviet Union had with their neighbours, to which he raised no objection. I stated that whatever we did would not be directed against the Soviet Union. To this he replied, "I believe you." Anything His Majesty's Government do now in this matter will not be directed against the Soviet Union or any other country, but we are entitled to organise the kindred souls of the West, just as they organise their kindred souls. As late as January, 1947, Stalin took a similar line with Field-Marshal Montgomery.
In 1946, I communicated to Mr. Molotov our intention of entering into negotiations for an Anglo-French Treaty. Mr. Molotov expressed interest, and asked to be kept informed. He made no comment. I kept him fully informed about the Treaty of Dunkirk. I have had no communication since about that matter. When the European recovery proposal was put forward in the same spirit, it was offered to the whole of Europe, including Russia. There were no grounds, therefore, for the fear that it was to be directed against the Soviet Union or used for any ulterior purpose. So clear was it that it was intended for the whole of Europe, that in Poland we know that even the Communist Party were anxious to participate. So they were in Hungary and Roumania, and Czechoslovakia even announced her intention to accept the invitation. About Yugoslavia and Bulgaria I never had any precise information.
392 Eventually all these States were ordered to abstain. What about sovereignty? We took no step to advise; we merely sent out our invitation for people to answer, and come freely if they wished to. If they did not, we knew that they were not staying away of their own volition.
The House will remember the conversations I had with M. Bidault and Mr. Molotov. At first, I was reasonably hopeful that everyone, including Russia, would play their part in this great offer. What was the idea behind this European recovery programme? First, that we should do what we could for ourselves and in co-operation with one another, and then secure from the American people supplementary aid. If we want to maintain our independence we have got to do all we can for ourselves. I think it is quite right when all neighbours co-operate together to see what they can do for one another. Then if they find they are stuck they can go to a pal to borrow something to help them through. I do not think that that is taking away one's independence.
In the course of the discussions in Paris there came a change, as it was decided by the Soviet Union—and I have very good grounds for accepting this—that rather than risk the generosity of the United States penetrating Eastern Europe and Europe itself joining in a great co-operative movement, the Soviet Union preferred to risk the Western Plan or Western Union—that is to say they risked the creation of any possible organism in the West. My further opinion is that they thought they could wreck or intimidate Western Europe by political upsets, economic chaos and even revolutionary methods.
§ Mr. Piratin
If the Foreign Secretary will give way for one moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Why does he not say what Molotov said in the first place?
§ Mr. Bevin
As the discussions went forward since the Paris Conference last June we knew almost the precise dates when these troubles were going to take place, and when these upsets were likely to occur. I must say this is rather unpalatable for me to have to do, but I suggest the world will never get right unless the thing is seen in all its nakedness and probably we will get on a better footing then.
As I have already said, it is no secret that Mr. Molotov threatened both ourselves and France that we would have to look out for these squalls if we went on with the European recovery programme. My answer to him, not boastfully but quietly, was that Great Britain had been accustomed to threats, that we should face them and that they would not move us from doing what we believed to be right. We have not, nor has France or any of the other nations who assembled in Paris deviated from that course. The best evidence that what I am saying is correct, as I am sure the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) will agree, is that the Cominform came into existence very quickly. M. Zhdanov and M. Malenkov are closely associated with it.
It has been clearly stated that the object of that body and of Soviet and Communist policy is to prevent the European recovery programme succeeding. I do not object to them coming to that conclusion, but because they came to that conclusion I do not see why I should be a party to keeping Europe in chaos and starvation. I cannot accept that proposition simply because the Cominform says it in their proposals. The fact is there have been great political strikes in France. Who disputes that they are behind them?
§ Mr. Gallacher
I dispute it. On a point of Order. When a Minister challenges hon. Members to dispute something and one of them accepts his challenge, is it not recognised courtesy for the Minister to give way in order that the Member can dispute the statement?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of Order at all. It is for the Minister to decide whether he should give way, and if he does not choose to give way he need not do so.
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Member continues to rise in his place and shouts across the Chamber I shall be compelled to take drastic action.
§ Mr. Bevin
I was once accused by a Communist newspaper of selling out and the courts gave me £7,000 damages. Perhaps the House will be interested to know I never got the order.
I was indicating that these strikes have been taking place and that the intention of the Soviets was to anticipate the interim aid from America so that by the loss of production at home, American aid would be nullified. That is not the way to express love of one's country and for one's own people.
Now for the steps we have taken in connection with this European recovery programme. As soon as I saw it, I submitted it to my colleagues and we felt that here was an opportunity of really trying to get Europe on its feet. The House will agree that we acted with promptness in order to get it going. We had no ulterior motive at all, and we did not intend to attack anyone. I should like to congratulate the staffs of the various Foreign Offices and Governments on the magnificent way in which they worked on this plan with a vigour and agreement which I think was amazing. When the plan was completed the United States officials were prompt to render the friendly aid promised by Mr. Marshall. I should like to pay my tribute to everyone who worked for the practical realisation of the ideas expressed in Mr. Marshall's Harvard speech. The issue is now before the American Congress, and I say no more about it than that we in Europe are not holding back awaiting the decision of Congress; we are doing our best individually and in co-operation to help one another. We shall he able to do it still more when we know the final decision of the United States Congress.
395 With all these influences the London Conference was bound up. In spite of what was going on—on which our information was very good—I still went on arranging for the London Conference in November. I confess that events were not encouraging. The flood of abuse against ourselves and the world by M. Vyshinski in New York was calculated to rouse tempers, but I am glad to say it fell very flat with no effect on public opinion anywhere outside the Soviet zone of influence. We still went on trying to get the conference on a proper basis as I reported to the House before the Recess. Every day when there was a proposal discussed and an effort made to reach a practical conclusion we had to waste a whole day listening to abuse of the Western Powers. It is all very well, but everyone in this House is a public man. I ask each one here to try to imagine what it is like to sit there hour after hour and to have thrown at one almost every invective of which one can think and not answer back. I felt very often like the boy who was asked what he would do if he were hit on the one cheek by his school teacher. He said he would turn the other. His school teacher said "That is a good boy, Tommy, but supposing you were hit on the other cheek, what then?" The boy replied, "Then heaven help him." I must confess that I felt very much like the schoolboy, and we had to suppress our feelings.
Now we have to face a new situation. In this it is impossible to move as quickly as we would wish. We are dealing with nations which are free to take their own decisions. It is easy enough to draw up a blueprint for a united Western Europe and to construct neat-looking plans on paper. While I do not wish to discourage the work done by voluntary political organisations in advocating ambitious schemes of European unity, I must say that it is a much slower and harder job to carry out a practical programme which takes into account the realities which face us, and I am afraid that it will have to be done a step at a time.
But surely all these developments which I have been describing, point to the conclusion that the free nations of Western Europe must now draw closely together. How much these countries have in common. Our sacrifices in the war, our hatred of injustice and oppression, our 396 Parliamentary democracy, our striving for economic rights and our conception and love of liberty are common among us all. Our British approach, of which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke recently, is based on principles which also appeal deeply to the overwhelming mass of the peoples of Western Europe. I believe the time is ripe for a consolidation of Western Europe.
First in this context we think of the people of France. Like all old friends, we have our differences from time to time, but I doubt whether ever before in our history there has been so much underlying good will and respect between the two peoples as now. We have a firm basis of co-operation in the Treaty of Dunkirk, we are partners in the European recovery programme, and I would also remind the House of the useful and practical work being done by the Anglo-French Economic Committee. Through this Committee we have already succeeded in helping one another in our economic difficulties, though at first, to tell the truth, neither of us had very much with which to help the other. But it was useful and the work it did was useful at a very critical moment. We are not now proposing a formal political union with France, as has sometimes been suggested, but we shall maintain the closest possible contact, and work for ever closer unity between the two nations.
The time has come to find ways and means of developing our relations with the Benelux countries. I mean to begin talks with those countries in close accord with our French Ally. I have to inform the House that yesterday our representatives in Brussels, The Hague and Luxemburg were instructed to propose such talks in concert with their French colleagues. I recall that after I signed the Dunkirk Treaty, on my way through Brussels to Moscow, I was asked by a newspaper correspondent, "What about a treaty with other countries including Belgium?" My reply was—I will quote it:I hope to sign a similar one with Belgium and with all our good neighbours in the West. The Labour Government will do everything possible to prevent misunderstandings arising from which aggressions might result. You have suffered from two wars; you have twice been occupied in two wars, and England has twice had to fight very hard. Great Britain is still conscious of the great role she has to play. She will do everything possible to prevent a new conflict in the West, whether it will come from Germany or elsewhere.397 I hope that treaties will thus be signed with our near neighbours, the Benelux countries, making with our Treaty with France an important nucleus in Western Europe. We have then to go beyond the circle of our immediate neighbours. We shall have to consider the question of associating other historic members of European civilisation, including the new Italy, in this great conception. Their eventual participation is of course no less important than that of countries with which, if only for geographical reasons, we must deal first. We are thinking now of Western Europe as a unit. The nations of Western Europe have already shown, at the Paris Conference dealing with the Marshall Plan, their capacity for working together quickly and effectively. That is a good sign for the future. We shall do all we can to foster both the spirit and the machinery of co-operation. In this context I am glad to be able to tell the House that as a practical immediate measure to make our relations with Western Europe closer, His Majesty's Government are proposing to relax the ban on tourist travel. I shall have more to say on this subject a little later.
Our formal relations with the various countries may differ, but between all there should be an effective understanding bound together by common ideals for which the Western Powers have twice in one generation shed their blood. If we are to preserve peace and our own safety at the same time we can only do so by the mobilisation of such a moral and material force as will create confidence and energy in the West and inspire respect elsewhere, and this means that Britain cannot stand outside Europe and regard her problems as quite separate from those of her European neighbours.
Now with regard to the tourist traffic. This is a step which we propose to take pretty soon, I hope in the early summer, provided such arrangements can be made without involving us in the expenditure of gold or dollars and I believe that is possible to negotiate. In our view a system can be worked out bilaterally with different countries which will enable a start to be made in the early summer. We hope to be able to publish in March a list of countries to which travel will be possible, and travel would then resume about 1st May. We are anxious to create conditions in which the peoples of the 398 respective countries can associate, and I know of nothing more important to serve this end than the tourist traffic.
I would like to make it clear that we are not doing this merely to cater for people with lots of money. Adults will be allowed £35 and children £25 per annum. In this connection there are a number of organisations which provide cheap holidays abroad. These organisations have handled thousands of people and have rendered a great service in this field. I myself helped to create the Workers' Travel Association out of almost nothing, and in the progress of years it has grown to handling the foreign travel of many thousands of people. There is also the Polytechnic and many other bodies of a similar kind. Therefore, foreign travel is no longer a privilege of the few. It is the desire of large numbers of people. We hope to allow this exchange to take place both ways at the earliest possible moment.
Perhaps I may now return to the subject of the organisation in respect of a Western Union. That is its right description. I would emphasise that I am not concerned only with Europe as a geographical conception. Europe has extended its influence throughout the world, and we have to look further afield. In the first place, we turn our eyes to Africa, where great responsibilities are shared by us with South Africa, France, Belgium and Portugal, and equally to all overseas territories, especially of South-East Asia, with which the Dutch are closely concerned. The organisation of Western Europe must be economically supported. That involves the closest possible collaboration with the Commonwealth and with overseas territories, not only British but French, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese.
These overseas territories are large primary producers, and their standard of life is evolving rapidly and is capable of great development. They have raw materials, food and resources which can be turned to very great common advantage, both to the people of the territories themselves, to Europe, and to the world as a whole. The other two great world Powers, the United States and Soviet Russia, have tremendous resources. There is no need of conflict with them in this matter at all. If Western Europe is to achieve its balance of payments and to vet a world equilibrium, it is essential that 399 those resources should be developed and made available, and the exchange between them carried out in a correct and proper manner. There is no conflict between the social and economic development of those overseas territories to the advantage of their people, and their development as a source of supplies for Western Europe, as a contributor, as I have indicated, so essential to the balance of payments.
What is to be the best method of dealing with this matter? We have been considering and planning for the territories for which we are responsible so as to establish particularly out of our capital production year by year, and also out of our production of consumption goods, a proper proportion in the right order of priorities to assist this development. Coincident with that planning, welfare and cultural development are being pushed ahead with great speed. Therefore, if we get the plan, we intend to develop the economic co-operation between Western European countries step by step, to develop the resources of the territories with which we are associated, to build them up a system of priorities which will produce the quickest, most effective and most lasting results for the whole world. We hope that other countries with dependent territories will do the same in association with us.
We shall thus bring together resources, manpower, organisation and opportunity for millions of people. I would like to depict what it really involves in terms of population whose standard of life can be lifted. We are bringing together these tremendous resources which stretch through Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to the Far East. In no case would it be an exclusive effort. It would be done with the object of making the whole world richer and safer. We believe there is an opportunity, and that when it is studied there will be a willingness on the part of our friends in the Commonwealth to co-operate with us in this great effort.
In the Middle East we have pursued a similar policy. We have a long standing friendship with the Arabs. The development of the Arab countries in the 30 years of their revived national independence has been remarkable, and our own country has made a very good contribution towards it. We shall continue 400 these efforts, to build up a system of cooperation in the economic and social fields which will carry with it responsibility for mutual defence on both sides. I have repeatedly said to representatives of the United States and of the Soviet Union that the Middle East is a vital factor in world peace. In addition, it is a life-line for the British Commonwealth. That statement has never been challenged. I think it is accepted by all. It is in that spirit that we have worked.
I think the House welcomes with me the recent Treaty with Iraq, negotiated and signed upon a basis of equality. There has been a lot of excitement in the morning papers about the reactions to the Treaty. There must have been some misunderstanding in Bagdad, but the Iraqi delegates should be able to remove it upon their return. The Iraqi Prime Minister, in a statement issued this morning, has said that that is his confident belief. Hon. Members may not have seen the statement so I will, with the permission of the House, read it. It is as follows:During our temporary absence some destructive elements in the country, whose number is fortunately limited, exploited some innocent students and succeeded in creating disorders. On our return to Iraq we shall explain the intentions of the new Treaty to the Parliament and people of Iraq. We are confident that it will be found that the national aspirations of the country are fully realised in this Treaty and that the overwhelming majority of the country will support it. It is with this belief that my colleagues and myself signed this Treaty.Neither I nor the Iraqi Prime Minister would have set our signatures to any document which ignored the aspirations of the people of Iraq. We assure our Iraqi friends that we intend to face the problems common to us, whether they are problems of defence or of social and economic development. I hope that the Treaty, which has been worked out with such care, will serve as a model, when it has been carefully studied, for other Middle East defence arrangements. I am discussing the situation first with Transjordan, whose Prime Minister is coming here to talk with us in a few days. The Emir Feisal will be here at the beginning of next month, and we shall have a talk with him, and through him with our good friend, his father, King Ibn Saud. I hope that other such talks will follow. I ought to say a word about Egypt, where a different set of historical conditions has to be taken into account. I want to get 401 away from the atmosphere of past disagreements and to concentrate upon what is mutually acceptable in the interests of both countries. I am not without hope of being able to do so at an early date, but it may take some little time.
Now I turn to the United Nations. All the steps I have mentioned, in the Middle East and in the Western Union, are in keeping with the Charter of the United Nations. When the ideological quarrel between the Powers is set aside—and it will be, sooner or later—and provided that the will to peace takes its place, all the things of which I have spoken will fit into a world pattern. They are all designed upon a regional basis to fit in with the Charter of the United Nations. It will be remembered that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State attended the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. He will deal with matters relating thereto in his speech. He will deal also with any information that hon. Members may want.
I have to confess that the United Nations up to now has been disappointing, but it might have been so under any circumstances, and it may be better to have the disappointments at the beginning than to have the enthusiasm at the start and the disappointments later on. In any case, I do not despair. There is an enormous amount of work being done in the United Nations—economic, social, cultural and so on—all of which is leading to world understanding. At the same time, the nations have collaborated in many fields, and they have collaborated a good deal in the settlement of disputes—none of them major disputes, as we understand them—and even in the Security Council itself there have been some very good discussions and good decisions taken.
It has achievements as well as failures, but it is handicapped by this ideological thing that is constantly coming up, and the extensive use of the Veto which was never contemplated, I am quite sure, by anyone who took part in its creation. There have been commissions in Greece and Korea. The tasks are hard. There is one going to India and Pakistan now, and I wish them well. At last the one in Indonesia seems at least to have created a truce which may lead to a settlement and I express the hope that, notwithstand- 402 ing our disappointments at the beginning, the whole country will remain behind it because we have to have some world organisation in any case. We must try to make it work if we can.
Now I want to say a word about the United States, which seems to be a sort of bogy in the minds of a good many people. Everybody has the idea that the United States has a great fund of dollars which it is trying to hurl at everybody for some ulterior motive. All I can say is that if anybody follows the hearings in Congress to try to get these appropriations, I do not think they bear that interpretation. They are a democratic country trying to look where they are going, and what responsibilities they are undertaking. Our primary task, as I have said, is to build up with our friends in Western Europe. We have to get resources together and repair a war damaged continent, and we have to carry out the development of these new resources overseas. The United States and the countries of Latin America are clearly as much a part of our common Western civilisation as are the nations of the British Commonwealth. The power and resources of the United States—indeed, I would say the power and resources of all the countries on the continent of America—will be needed if we are to create a solid, stable and healthy world.
When I speak of the United States, I am not thinking of the country misrepresented in propaganda as a sort of Shylock of Wall Street, but a young, vigorous, democratic people. It is a country not only of great wealth and great resources but one whose people are moved by a good will and a generosity which many of us in the Old World are apt to take for granted. American policy, like the policy of all great countries, must have regard to American interests, but it has been so often traduced as purely selfish that I think it is time to pay a tribute to the great heart of the American people which found expression in the European Recovery Programme. I was quite convinced, and I am now, that there was no political motive behind the Marshall offer other than the valuable human motive of helping Europe to help herself, and so restore the economic and political health of this world. That is, of course, an American interest; but it is everybody's interest, it is not exclusively American. 403 This does not make the offer less unselfish.
If we take the sequence of events in the United States from Lend-Lease it the war—and I cannot let it go by though I have mentioned it before—I think it is worth calling the attention of the House again to the tremendous work in connection with U.N.R.R.A. What sort of Europe we should have had without U.N.R.R.A., I really do not know; it is too horrible to contemplate. I think it would have been swept by epidemics. Everybody had a share of U.N.R.R.A., including Soviet Russia and the Eastern States—everybody—and that cost the United States £675 million, Canada £35 million, and it cost this country, even in our impoverished condition, £155 million. It was an event which stemmed horrible disease such as we had following the 1914–18 war, which most have forgotten. Therefore, the European Recovery Programme is a natural sequence in order to try to help to rebuild.
It is true that the Americans are as realistic as we are. They see the greatest dangers to world peace in economic chaos and starvation. It was the argument used over and over again that we made a mistake with Germany in leaving her in such depression that it allowed a Hitler to arise. The instinct is that it is much better to spend money now on rebuilding a healthy and self-reliant Europe than to wait for the devils of poverty and disease to create again conditions making for war and dictatorship. It is sound sense, and His Majesty's Government welcome it. Neither can I see anything wrong in America insisting that the nations of Europe should do everything in their power to put their house in order as a condition of American aid. If we are to look for hidden political motives, then I detect them much more clearly behind the attempt to sabotage the Paris Conference than behind the great Marshall offer. I am afraid I am wearying the House, but it is a very long subject. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
May I turn as quickly as possible to Germany and German organisation, where we and America are in partnership? In this connection I would like to call the attention of the House to the conflict over the political organisation of 404 Germany, which is bound up with the zonal problem. We stand for a united Germany, not a dismembered or divided Germany. We have been in favour of a centralised German Government but not an over-centralised German Government which in our view could be a danger to peace. In this I believe the Americans, the French and ourselves, despite slight differences between us, can reconcile our views. On the other hand, the Soviet Government are pressing for an over-centralised Government which we know could be used in the same way to develop a one-party dictatorship as has been done in the Eastern European countries, and we cannot agree to it.
It became clear a year ago that Germany was to be made, as a result of the series of disagreements between the Great Powers, a terrific financial liability on the United States and ourselves. No food was to come from the East into the West, no exchange, and hence the burden would fall upon our exchequers. I indicated that we had to make it pay by hook or by crook. We really had to make our zone go, and take the liability off the taxpayer here. Then the Americans offered fusion of the two zones in 1946, and negotiations for the first fusion agreement then took place in New York.
After the failure of the Moscow Conference, I was pressed very hard to agree to some kind of parliamentary instrument in the bizonal area. I opposed it then because I felt that, if that step was taken, it would mean probably the creation of the final division of Germany and of Europe. We therefore kept our arrangements to the economic field. While it is not bound to succeed, we have tried to make this fusion work, and work better, by setting up an Economic Council. We are still hopeful in Germany, and I hope I shall not be told I am too patient—because I am not waiting. We are going on with the work. By taking the right lines in our bizonal organisation in Germany, I believe that in the end we shall achieve a proper organisation of Central Europe. We have first to get the organisation on our own side efficient.
Later in 1947 we proceeded with a new fusion agreement. Now, as a result of talks between the American Military Governor, and our Military Governor we have improved, expanded and extended 405 the Economic Council as an interim basis. But that is an interim matter, and in a few weeks' time it is intended that the British, French and Americans shall have an exchange of views on the three zones, as well as the two. Those talks will take place at a very early date. What we have done up to now is an interim arrangement.
Another big problem for Germany, which we are still trying to deal with on a Four-Power basis, is currency reform, which is absolutely imperative, but very difficult to arrange. We are not going to assume that the Four-Power arrangement is ended at all. We are going to make our three zones work economically in order to take the load off our Exchequer here. But we will go on to try to see whether in the end we can make it work. The Germans have a part to play in this. After all, the Germans are more responsible than anyone else in the world for the mess the world is in, and if they are to win the respect of the world again and come back into the comity of nations, they must work hard and act and administer their decisions; it cannot be given to them.
I had a sense of disgust when I read of German farmers holding back food from their own kith and kin, and I can assure the House that the most resolute steps will be taken to put an end to that. But we would like the German administration, to whom we have handed powers, to do it, because it is important, if confidence is to be established, to see that that is done. General Clay and General Robertson are to be congratulated on the work carried on in the two zones. When the Frankfurt Agreement is completed, I will circulate it to Members of the House, so that they can see it in its detail, and I will not weary the House with it now.
I must also say that in working for this German recovery we have to bear in mind all the time the countries which had suffered from her attack, rather than to put German recovery ahead of the recovery of those who were her victims, and that we shall continue to do. We are making trade agreements between Western Germany and Eastern Europe. All kinds of steps are being taken to develop the export trade, and to put Germany back on her feet. But I must say once again that if the German people are going to rely on us, or act as if we are to feed 406 them all the time, they are suffering from a delusion. Germany must work and produce, like other countries.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Would the right hon. Gentleman permit me. I am sorry to interrupt. I am not sure, but I think he inadvertently said "Eastern Europe" instead of "Western Europe."
§ Mr. Bevin
I said trade agreements have been made between Western Germany and Eastern Europe. There have been agreements made with Poland, and we are going on with that policy, which we think a right one to follow. We are doing nothing to break down the contacts, in spite of all the political difficulties. Time will not permit me to go into all the difficulties associated with Germany, and I must leave it to my colleagues, who will speak later.
We have persistently endeavoured to make a Treaty for Austria. I cannot understand why a great nation of 200 million people like Soviet Russia should find it necessary to delay a settlement with a small country of seven millions. Whatever the causes may be, I think this torturing of Austria for all these years is really reprehensible. However, at the end of the conference there was a sign that there was a possibility of a settlement. I seized it at once, and referred it to the Deputies and I have been promised a new Soviet proposal in January. I hope they will do it, and let us have a chance of settling that problem.
One other matter I must mention in passing is Japan. There is a conflict again, because it is desired by the Soviet that we should refer the Peace Treaty to the Council of Foreign Ministers; not a very encouraging prospect. Really, it is very difficult to agree to it. Here are Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Burma and the Netherlands, who were all in the Japanese War from the very day of Pearl Harbour, and while I am ready to admit that the maintenance of great Russian armies in the Maritime Provinces probably had an effect before they came into the war, the actual time that Russia was in the Japanese War was but a few days. Yet I am asked to agree that they should take a predominant position over the Allies who fought in the Japanese War all the way through. Really, we cannot expect people to accept that. What we propose is that the 13 or 14 countries 407 which were involved should form the Peace Conference. In that way I think we are more likely to clear up the Far Eastern position, and I hope the Soviet Government will see their way clear to accept that, and let us get on with the business of, at least, making one good peace treaty. That, of course, includes the United States, Canada and other countries.
Burma has already been debated in the House, and our relations with Burma now become the responsibility of the Foreign Office. We are looking after their interests as well as those of the other Far Eastern countries by means of the system which has been developed there.
The Foreign Office staffs often get criticised, and we are always supposed to select the wrong people, but I do not want to let this occasion pass without paying a tribute to the staffs of that great office. Since the war the work has been terrific. Recently, to give an example, with the breakdown of convertibility, practically every agreement that we have made had to be changed before the ink was dry. Otherwise, there would have been no food and no exchange. I think the other Departments of State will agree that the magnificent way the ambassadors and their staffs worked to prevent any serious disturbance, either in trade or exchange, as a result of that difficulty, entitles them to the praise I am giving. They had a very difficult task, and I am quite certain they will continue to serve with success. They certainly deserve great credit.
To conclude, His Majesty's Government have striven for the closer consolidation and economic development, and eventually for the spiritual unity, of Europe as a whole; but, as I have said, in Eastern Europe we are presented with a fait accompli. No one there is free to speak or think or to enter into trade or other arrangements of his own free will. The sovereignty of the Eastern European nations is handicapped. What of the West? Neither we, the United States nor France is going to approach Western Europe on that basis. It is not in keeping with the spirit of Western civilisation, and if we are to have an organism in the West it must be a spiritual union. While, no doubt, there must be treaties or, at least, understandings, the union must primarily be a fusion derived from the 408 basic freedoms and ethical principles for which we all stand. It must be on terms of equality and it must contain all the elements of freedom for which we all stand. That is the goal we are now trying to reach. It cannot be written down in a rigid thesis or in a directive. It is more of a brotherhood and less of a rigid system.
In spite of criticism levelled at her, Europe has done an amazing job since the end of the war. One has to be conversant with it to understand just what it has been like, with all the economic confusion that was involved everywhere. The countries of Europe are returning now to established law and order. There had never been a war like this before. Never has it been so difficult to make peace. It is not a question of sitting down together, as it was at Versailles, and then at the end signing a treaty. This time it is systems, conceptions and ideologies which are in conflict. I do not want to take an irrevocable step which will make future generations pay, just because I was over-anxious to gain a settlement for settlement's sake. This time it has to be a real settlement which lasts for a long time.
In this new settlement Germany, like all other European nations, must find her place, but, as I have said, she must not come before her recent victims. As other nations settle down, Germany can settle down, but she must be prevented from becoming aggressive again. We shall welcome her return as a democratic nation. In all our efforts that is the objective for which we have been working, but I must repeat to the Germans that although I am not blaming the whole German people, they were the great factor which brought the world to this condition. They must realise that, as a people, they have got to work hard to get their own country and the world back to a proper equilibrium. I have been glad to note the growing realisation of this fact among the Germans themselves.
Despite all the artificial barriers set up, and the propaganda blared out, which no doubt will increase after this Debate, we shall pursue a course which will seek to re-unite Europe. If the present division of Europe continues, it will be by the act and the will of the Soviet Government, but such a division would be inconsistent with the statements of the highest Soviet authorities and of Stalin 409 himself. He told Mr. Stassen in Moscow last April that "for collaboration it is not requisite that peoples should have an identical system." Similar statements have been made on other occasions. We have always tried, and we are still trying, to co-operate with the peoples of Eastern Europe on that basis, although the activities of the Cominform, like those of its predecessor the Comintern, afford—the greatest hindrance to mutual confidence and understanding.
However, we shall not be diverted, by threats, propaganda or fifth column methods, from our aim of uniting by trade, social, cultural and all other contacts those nations of Europe and of the world who are ready and able to cooperate. The speed of our recovery and the success of our achievements will be the answer to all attempts to divide the peoples of the world into hostile camps. I may claim for myself, at least, that my whole life has been devoted to uniting people and not dividing them. That remains my objective and purpose now. That is the object and purpose that His Majesty's Government, of which I am the instrument, seek to promote in dealing with other countries.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
Once again on an extremely sombre occasion the Foreign Secretary has made a very important and lengthy speech. If I find difficulty in commenting on the whole of his speech, perhaps I may attribute that to the fact that I did not know I was to be called at this moment. I have been engaged outside the Chamber in collecting my thoughts for what I thought would be a later speech. However, I heard most of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and I find it extremely difficult to comment upon it. He showed a very genuine and proper realisation, as one would expect of him, of the menace to the world today of Communism and of the need, upon which he laid great stress, to avoid the domination of Europe by one Power, which indeed, if I understand British history correctly, has been the aim of successive British governments for many years. He complained very bitterly and with great justification of the policy, propaganda and activities of the Soviet Government and of the Communist Party in Eastern and now in Western Europe.
I do not think however we can regard his speech as heralding any very great 410 departure from the present policy of His Majesty's Government which, I D far as one can understand it, is to have no policy at all. The Foreign Secretary said, if I understood him correctly, that the time is now ripe to organise Western Europe. But how long has the time been ripe to organise Western Europe? I should have thought that the time was now over-ripe, and that if we are not very careful when we pluck the fruit, if the fruit is there at all, it will have gone very rotten indeed.
I would like to take up the Foreign Secretary on one point which, I thought, gravely undermined a great deal of the case which he made out for having been patient for all these months and having striven to secure a settlement on a Four-Power basis. He admitted in his speech that the total and final division of Europe began to show itself definitely and completely directly the Marshall Plan appeared upon the international scene, and directly M. Molotov and M. Stalin decided to sabotage and oppose that plan as hard as they could. If he recognised then that the division of Europe was definite and final, why have we dithered ever since? Why have we had no policy ever since?
Everyone wanted, at the end of the war, to give the United Nations a chance, to give Four-Power co-operation a chance, to give Potsdam a chance. Nobody wanted to take any step, at that moment, which might precipitate repercussions from Russia, which might precipitate a Russian "closed shop" in Eastern Europe. But I do suggest to the House that it has been for a very long time all too obvious that the Russians were out for their own ends, for an exclusive arrangement in Eastern Europe to the exclusion of the Western world. Directly that became obvious to us surely we should have stopped pursuing this mirage of Four-Power co-operation.
The right hon. Gentleman, with great patience and great tenacity, has persisted in the attempt to be a bridge between America and Russia or what is now known, in intellectual circles, as "The Third Force," but which some of my friends in France call "The Third Weakness." I have always understood that there were two functions of a bridge—one, to be blown up, and the other, to receive traffic. If we pursue this policy 411 of the bridge very much longer we shall, if we are not very careful, find an extraordinary amount of very odd traffic crossing over us from America, on the one hand, and Russia on the other, and, in the end, we shall be blown up.
A typical example of this particular type of misconception is a letter in the "Daily Herald," which caught my eye in the train this morning, from six Members of the party opposite. In this letter they advocate that we should go ahead immediately with the creation of a united democratic Socialist Western Europe. I do not know what that means; but they believe that it will, of itself, make more intimate co-operation with Communist Eastern Europe considerably easier. Where they get that idea from I simply do not know. I should have thought that with all the trouble they have had recently with Communist infiltration in their unions, they would have realised, by now, that their greatest enemy in the world is Communism, and that the power, the force, the political party which hates them most is the Communist Party. How they think that a Socialist Western Europe will make things easier in the field of international co-operation with Communist Eastern Europe I do not know.
The answer is that all these ideas of the policy of the bridge, or of an independent foreign policy, as some prefer to call it, are based on a total misconception of history, of the modern world, and of our position in that world. Since we ceased pursuing a policy of isolation from Europe, directly we were menaced from Europe, we have never had an independent foreign policy. Our policy has always been based on some other Power. It was either Prussia or France. It has never been an independent foreign policy. As to applying these ideas today, the logical outcome is that we shall find ourselves having an economic war against America and, at the same time, a political war against Russia—and we shall lose them both.
The time is long overdue for the British Government to abandon this aimless drift; they should recognise that the "cold war," as the Americans call it, is on in earnest that the third world war has, in fact, begun. It is a horizontal division instead of a vertical and international division between the contestants, but, 412 nevertheless, the third world war has already begun. If certain hon. Members opposite were still blind enough, after the emergence of the Cominform in Belgrade, not to recognise this truth, I should have thought that recent events in France, Italy, Greece, the Ruhr, and elsewhere would have brought it home to them by now.
We must line up the democratic forces of the world with ourselves and America. I realise that the Foreign Secretary is very loath to take any irrevocable step which, as he said, might land future generations in trouble and danger. Obviously he is, but if we are to go on refusing to take any step because it might be irrevocable, and might land future generations in trouble, we shall pursue the same policy of aimless drift, and do nothing to help ourselves, our neighbours, or the world. We must, I believe, form—and I use these words advisedly—a world alliance against the Communist forces in the world today. We must form that alliance forthwith with America, and abandon any ideas of being a bridge, or a "Third Force."
The only way in which we can get the Western European nations to come in on a policy of this kind is to lead them in. Surely we in this country, in Western Europe, are the only people who can give a lead to Western Europe today. The Americans cannot give it; if they tried to give it they would be accused of tying political strings to economic aid. The rest cannot; France and Belgium cannot. They have not the influence or political stability at home to do so. We are peculiarly fortunate in having the necessary political stability and unity in this country on foreign affairs. That unity could be behind the right hon. Gentleman if he took the necessary steps, but it will not be behind him if he does not.
Diplomacy is like military strategy. If there is no plan there is no initiative. If the initiative is lost the battle is lost. We have no plan at the moment except, as the right hon. Gentleman said, to start the tourist traffic going again. I know he once said that his foreign policy is to go to Victoria Station and buy a ticket to anywhere without having to have a passport, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman had his tongue in his cheek a little bit when he said that; I hope that he had a little more idea than that as to how to organise Europe. But it appears that 413 about the only thing we have to offer today, in the international field, is to start conversations with the Belgian, Netherlands, and Luxembourg Governments on trade, and restore the tourist traffic.
Unless we are careful we shall find that Stalin will succeed where Hitler failed, that he will succeed in a policy of "divide and conquer." He is particularly well placed to divide and conquer, because he has already a horizontal and political division between the Communist Party and other parties in nearly every country in the world. He is particularly well placed to follow up that policy, and make it win through. If we are not careful, and do not unite in our own defence we shall go down and lose that ideological struggle that is the third world war.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Lang (Stalybridge and Hyde)
With a good deal of what has been said by the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) I would be in agreement if he had not been so sweeping, and if, in one or two directions, he had been a little better founded. There is no question about the serious position in which we find ourselves, none at all, as the Foreign Secretary made perfectly plain. I agree with the hon. Member for Melton when he says that the third world war has already begun. I believe that is the case. In many ways we are witnessing and experiencing the same things that frustrated us and made us despair in 1937 and 1938. There is the infiltration, sometimes political infiltration, sometimes, one feels, almost if not quite at the point of weapons. Countries are being taken over and a solid front is being formed. Liberty is dying in front of our eyes. Religion is being overthrown and persecuted, and the time has come when some of us who feel and believe in these things must say perfectly plainly what we feel and believe and know is now true.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
When my hon. Friend says that religion is being overthrown, is it his contention that there is religious persecution in Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union? If so, I will tell him that he is misinformed. I would refer him to the testimony of the—
§ Mr. Lang
I gave way because I did not want my hon. Friend to think I was un 414 willing to do so, but if I have to give way too far it will be impossible to make my speech in the short time in which I wish to make it. I hope that if I tread on the corns of other hon. Friends they will seek and obtain an opportunity to put their view before the House. I can only repeat what I have just said, because I believe it—that is that there is a definite persecution of the Christian religion, as in these circumstances there must be. Totalitarianism of any kind can only survive if it can overthrow certain things, and the Christian religion is one of those things, and it is being persecuted in Eastern Europe.
That is why some of us have for some time now advocated with all our modest powers the unification of Europe. It must not be said, and it would not be true to say that that has been directed against Russia. In fact, at the launching campaign the Leader of the Opposition himself said that the door was open. But while the door is open to Russia to come in, it is no longer possible to sit down and wait until she chooses to come in. If we do that we are lost and altogether undone. I do not even agree with some of my hon. Friends, whose sincerity in this matter is not in question, that we can afford to wait for a United Socialist States of Europe or, for that matter, a Conservative States of Europe. If we are only to talk to each other when we have the same political persuasion, we shall fail.
The thing to do is to come together on a fundamental belief in the liberty of the subject, in basic freedom and, as I think, in spiritual values. These are the things that unite us, and these other things need not divide us and will not long divide us if we come to a unity upon a broader basis. I am an unrepentant Socialist; I have been in the movement for well over 30 years, and am not likely now to change my mind. I believe that if Socialism itself were practised in those countries it would be a substantial guarantee of permanent peace, but I cannot afford to wait, and I do not intend to do so, until everyone sees eye to eye with me upon these matters.
The thing is to get together now while there is some liberty left, for that liberty is fast going from Europe. We have no right to stand by and see the agony of Europe, to see Europe being destroyed and say nothing, and I will not. So long as I live, I will not be silent when spiritual values and the Christian religion are 415 attacked. There are many things for which I have been proud to fight and will be proud to fight. There are things for which I will give a great deal. There is only one thing for which I would die, that is the Christian religion. So long as I remain in public life, or am in any other way able to speak, so long will I defend it and press for its adoption in the world.
It is idle to pretend that there has been no persecution. One has evidence piled upon evidence. The Communist technique is a totalitarian technique. We ought to have learned enough about that by now. I am not casting any reflection on the great mass of the Russian people. One of the pathetic things is that there were more millions of Russian dead in the late war than those of any other country, and they died in the belief that they were fighting for freedom. I would be treacherous to those dead as well as to our own if I did not now demand that what was won at such a terrible price shall be maintained at whatever price and consequence.
That is not to declare war. I believe that war has already been begun. I do not believe that there is one hon. Friend of mine on this side of the House who would disagree with me that it is taking place. There is the same technique against which some of us protested when Germany was using it. What is the matter with us, after that experience and what we said about the people who appeased and appeased? Are we not now in danger of falling into the same error? Have we learned nothing from the pain and sacrifice and terror through which we have gone, and through which we are now going? Does that not count at all. Are we to sit here with comfortable ideologies, some of them very remote, while we know that our children and our children's children are in danger again of having to go to war in Europe?
Is it not better to go to Europe for conference rather than wait again until Europe is the vast abattoir of humanity that it has been twice in my lifetime? It must not occur again. It would be less likely to occur if we spoke plainly. There is nothing in the Soviet attitude which suggests that they will give way to weakness. Now is the time to speak strongly. We can afford to do so, and if we do not do it now, we shall have to do things 416 worse than talking before very long. Surely this great assembly of ours, to which we are all so proud to belong, and which is the very fountain of freedom, will not let the massacre of freedom take place. We have a plan for peace. That is where I disagree with the hon. Member for Melton. I think that the very restraint of the Foreign Secretary revealed that he had a plan and therefore could afford to open the Debate in a restrained manner. Surely the cut and thrust of this Debate, which the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett), said was perhaps the most important foreign affairs Debate in this Parliament, and its development, will mean that before its close we shall have a statement in more clear and cogent terms than we had at the beginning from the Foreign Secretary.
I hope that Members in all parts of the House will be able to bring their pressure to bear, and make their contribution, and show the Government that it is now time to act. The time for mere hoping has long gone. I was hoping, and still hope, that from this House, from the Government Front Bench and from the Front Bench opposite, there will come a clarion call to the free peoples of the world, particularly to the free peoples of Europe, to come together while there is still time, while some of us are still free, while there is a public opinion left in some parts of Europe to which we can appeal. There is no public opinion in the Soviet Union to which we can appeal. There is no possibility of getting to the Russian people, one simply cannot do it. There are a few countries and a few only left with an ear to listen to reason and to whom we can appeal, and it is now or never. We must do it.
I am aware that many of my colleagues, some of them old colleagues, will not accept what I am saying. I am sorry, but I cannot help it. I have declared my position while there is time and the possibility of doing something. Why should I be silent while people as good and decent as ourselves are being dragooned and treated to a third degree as subtly brutal as anything the Germans practised? We know that is taking place. In the Lobbies we say to one another, "Communism is going too far," and "This business with Russia is getting serious." Here, in open Debate now, while we can be answered, is the time to 417 speak to Russian leaders and to the world.
I suppose it is inevitable that after this speech somebody, perhaps many people, will say: "His desire is to link up with capitalist America as against the workers' movements in Russia and elsewhere." I have no defence to make for capitalist America at all. There are many things in America of which I am not particularly fond. But the American people are our brothers. I know nothing personally of Americans—I have not gone to America to earn dollars on a lecture tour and they do not know what they have missed. That gives me satisfaction which I can enjoy at home without the perils of travel or currency restrictions or the burden of Income Tax. I know nothing personally of America in that way, but I have seen America at work in Japan for two successive years, and I am bound to say that I have seen no evidence there at all that America is desirous of crushing democracy.
I am anxious that this should be a full Debate with all hon. Members taking part. It is only fair that when I have been allowed to express myself fully and frankly there should be the maximum opportunity for other hon. Members who may take another view. I have said what I believe, and I will continue to do so as long as I have breath to say it. I hope it will never be necessary again for some one to have to say, "You were warned and took no notice." This important Debate is at a time when the world is waiting for a lead if we will give it and we have the opportunity to give it. We may have to associate with people with whom politically we disagree. We had to do that in the war years and if we can come together during a war, why in the name of Heaven, cannot we come together to prevent it. There is no step I am not prepared to take in that way to preserve the dwindling freedom and keep alive the flickering flames that remain—and if possible kindle a few more—among the many people hoping and waiting in Eastern countries, who once were as free as I am, and who, if they could be here to speak, would say, "The day is not so far distant when our freedom will be gone.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I think we all understood and valued the sincerity with which the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) has just addressed the House. He has 418 reminded us, if indeed we needed reminding, of the importance of the Debate in which we are now taking part, and I agree with him. Even in my recollection of Foreign Office Debates, which goes back longer than I sometimes care to remember, it would be hard to recall one where the significance of the views expressed and, above all, the significance of the national policy which I trust will emerge, could be greater than it should be in this discussion. For that reason I shall attempt to address myself to this problem so far as I can, in as constructive a spirit as possible.
I do regard the present international situation with a gravity which it is not easy to exaggerate. The Foreign Secretary will remember that just before Christmas, when we were about to adjourn, he asked us to postpone the holding of this Debate so as to give him and his colleagues an opportunity to consider the situation in the light of the breakdown of the Foreign Ministers' Conference and then propose a definite policy to this House. I know that the Government would agree that the House has shown great restraint in its demands for a Debate on foreign affairs. In fact, we have not had one for about six months, which certainly was not my experience when I was Foreign Secretary, and I do not think it is a matter of the merit of the respective holders of the office. At any rate we felt in the existing conditions that was a request with which, in the national interest, we ought to agree, and so the Debate has taken place today.
Let me say at the outset, on behalf of all my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the House, that we welcome the broad lines of the statement made by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. I have no doubt at all that in the circumstances which prevail in Europe today, the policy which he has outlined offers the best hope of restoring European political stability, and through that, of providing a basis for an enduring peace. I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about the proposed agreements with Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, now generically described by a rather ugly, but no doubt expressive, word. I also welcome what he had to say about Italy. It is indeed desirable that we should do everything in our power to bring Italy back as an 419 active member in the European family. As it seems to us, the proposals that the right hon. Gentleman described this afternoon are constructive. They menace no-one, and they do show, surely, in unmistakable terms, our determination to maintain our own way of life and to join with others like minded with us to give practical effect to our purpose.
The right hon. Gentleman said that what he was outlining today was the result of thought which had gone on long before and back into 1944. That is true, and I agree that what he said today was only a beginning. There are many spheres in which the conception of Western union can, I believe, be further developed. Our aim ought to be to create such a union not only in the political sphere, but in the economic sphere, and in the cultural sphere also. Therefore, I welcome the lead the right hon. Gentleman has given and I am glad he has given it in conjunction with France. If there is anybody in this House who still has doubts as to the urgent need for the initiative that the right hon. Gentleman has taken, and the importance of expanding that lead to other fields with the utmost vigour, I would like him to consider for a moment, not the survey which the right hon. Gentleman properly gave us of the postwar years, but simply what has been happening in some countries in these very few weeks since we last met.
We have got to admit—though I would not go as far in my language as the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde—that, unhappily, even in that space of time, the international situation has deteriorated. There is nothing to be gained by seeking to ignore that very unpleasant fact. It does not cease to be a fact if it is ignored. What happened from the moment the Four Power Conference broke down? The Soviet Government and their satellites in Eastern Europe intensified their efforts through the Comintern, the Cominform and by every other means. We have seen this happening in Greece, where the notorious Marcos tried to set up a so called "government." Does anyone think that took place without the approval of Marcos's norhern neighbours? Certainly it was warmly welcomed in the propaganda of Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria, and even Moscow At the same time Marcos made a military offensive 420 and tried to seize a small town in Greece, which he could claim would give him some pretext for recognition. The tactics employed in this Marcos business are a new development in the disruptive offensive which the Communists are pursuing. The fact is that in that particular sphere what has been called the "cold" war is "hotting up." I saw what I thought was a good description of the whole business given by the "Economist" the other day:Armed intervention by remote control and with limited liability to themselves.I think that that about accurately describes it. Perhaps I may mention two impressions which I formed on a very brief visit to Greece the other day about the effect of these events. The first is that what has been done by the Marcos initiative has resulted in bringing to Greece a greater measure of unity than she has had at any time since Mussolini's act of aggression in the autumn of 1940. That was one result. The second result, I fear, is to inflict a great deal of suffering on a very large number of people, because in innumerable villages and small towns up and down the country the people have fled before the menace of these possible raids. I am told that there are now something like half a million people in Greece who are homeless as a result of this guerilla warfare and are making no contribution to their country's economic recovery and are unable to earn their daily bread.
I turn to France. I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman, because I might get into a similar controversy. I would only ask this: would anybody dispute that effort after effort has been made by the Communist Party in France to make the Parliamentary machine there completely unworkable—part, no doubt, of the general offensive against the free nations? M. Jouhaux has had a welcome measure of success and we are all glad of it, in the formation of his force ouvrière; but it unhappily remains true that the C.G.T. itself, which is still powerful, is now completely under the control of the Communist Party. In Italy the Communists, with the open connivance of Nenni and those who follow him, are intensifying their activities in advance of the April election. In this endeavour we know that they have received the reinforcement of Mr. Pollitt. Then in Roumania, the last appearance 421 of the democratic regime has been swept away. All this has been further intensified in the few short weeks of our adjournment.
As to Austria, as everybody knows, and as the right hon. Gentleman had to tell the House agreement could not be reached on a treaty. To mitigate that, he and the American Government approached the Soviet Government to try to get them to mitigate to some extent the heavy burdens the Austrian Government were carrying and to try to give them some liberty of action so that they might be a Government in something more than name. All these attempts, as I understand it, have been rejected. As a consequence, further strains are being imposed daily on Austrian economy. I believe that the price of oil was doubled this morning. Every kind of new burden is imposed. Is it anything remarkable that in these conditions the Austrian Ministers themselves should find the situation almost intolerable? I have no doubt myself that it is deliberately being made intolerable.
Finally, we have the example of Germany and of Jacob Kaiser which the right hon. Gentleman gave. Over and above this—and I agree with the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde, because it is a factor which we cannot ignore—we have witnessed for months past a campaign of calumny and abuse of the Western democracies, their way of life and all they stand for, carried on by Press and by radio. Ministers themselves in this country, with others, have been the victims of this compaign. It may be true—personally, I think that it is true—that it is no part of the design of the authors of this propaganda that it should lead to hostilities. I think that that is so, but he must be an optimist indeed who considers that it is possible to continue for month after month in a Europe living as it is today, with its present distress and with its clouded and anxious future, with the use of that language continuing, without imperilling the very existence of peace itself. One cannot continually wage a war of nerves without eventually getting on somebody's nerves. That is the position which we are now approaching.
Therefore, I say to this House that there seem to be two immediate threats to peace, and they are very serious. One is the violence of the language used by this Communist propaganda everywhere, and the violence of Communist action in 422 countries like Greece, at a time when Europe is still littered with kindling which it is so easy to set alight. The second is the risk that the Western democracies may fail to make a success of their own efforts to rebuild the prosperity of their countries with the aid of the Marshall Plan which in itself is surely one of the most generous acts in history.
There seems to be another aspect of the policy which the right hon. Gentleman announced today. I think it will be accepted in all parts of the House that it is the wish of all of us, if we can contrive it, to improve our relations with the Soviet Union. Certainly it has always been my earnest wish, and for many years past I have done what I could to give effect to it. If that be our wish, I am sure there is only one way in present conditions in which we can hope to do it. That is by showing that the free nations without the curtain possess both the means to restore their collective prosperity and the dynamic leadership to enable them to do so. Above all, the Kremlin are realistic. Once they have understood that our system is strong enough to withstand their propaganda barrage, or any other method of undermining, then I think that the right hon. Gentleman will find his task easier than it is now.
It is a little sad to reflect upon the extent to which political developments in our continent of Europe have failed to keep pace with the needs of the modern world. It is not only that nationalist feeling grows more intense, apparently with every year that passes, though I think that that is true, but also that national units themselves in Europe and the Middle East have tended to become smaller and smaller at the very time when development in other spheres would have led us to look for larger and looser political and economic associations.
There is no doubt at all, to my mind at any rate, that part of the great advantage which the United States enjoys today is because that great country is of a size to make the best use of all modern scientific and industrial development. Also it has got the essential unity which allows free play of thought and the free movement of goods over a wide area unhampered by tariff restrictions of any kind. In 1914 it was possible for any one of us, if we were old enough then, to go to any country in Europe, save two, without a passport or a formality 423 of any kind. We could go to every country except to Tsarist Russia and to Turkey. But today, unfortunately, we must admit that, just at the time when scientific progress should have loosened these barriers, they are more rigid both to thought and to economic life than they were 40 years ago. There is something for us to reflect upon in all that.
I remember, and so does the right hon. Gentleman, the morning when my right hon. Friend the present Leader of the Opposition proposed to us in the Cabinet the offer which he made to France in 1940. My right hon. Friend is being a little bashful about that, but I remember that morning, and I thought today, as I was walking clown to this House—Is the international situation any less grave now than it was then? Quite true, the complexion is different. Then, it was an immediate military menace that confronted us. Now, both economically and politically, who can claim that Europe is much more peaceful than it was in 1940? Yet, we have failed, at a time like this, so far, to make that wider association between the free Western nations which the hour seems to call for, in the judgment of us all. I tried to express in a sentence or two before Christmas what I thought ought to be our considered purpose, and I repeat it now. We want—and I think I speak for all my hon. Friends on this side of the House—the closest and most effective collaboration, economic, political and cultural, with all the free nations of Europe. That collaboration can take one of any number of forms. It can take, if we like—and some do—the form of a Customs union. Some people speak of a United Europe and others again speak of a union of the nations of Western Europe. In my judgment, each and all of these objectives can be reconciled, and each and all of them needs to be pursued with the greatest possible vigour under our leadership.
There are one or two questions I would like to ask the Minister of State who, I understand, is to reply to the Debate. I understand that, for some months past, the French and Italians have been discussing something in the nature of a customs union and have nearly reached agreement. Is that so, as I think it is? I have seen it reported that we have now joined in these conversations, and that 424 would seem to me to be all to the good. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us a little about our commercial relations with Benelux? He spoke of political agreements, which I said we welcomed, but we would like to know whether any further action is being taken. None of us is unaware of the difficulties in a position of this sort. We have our own special position at the heart and centre of the British Commonwealth, and I refuse to believe that it is past the wit of man to devise ways and means, economic, political and cultural, whereby we and these free countries, which also control great overseas territories, may be brought closer together than they are at the present time. That is what we seek, and that is why I, personally, supported the Briand Memorandum as long ago as 1930. Never has the European need for a proposal such as this been greater than it is today. We hope that what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested today will lead by stages to a freer and fuller life for Europe.
Here I want to make a comment or two which I know will not be palatable to all hon. Members, though I must say it. It would, in my judgment, be absolutely wrong to try to bring about a closer integration of the free nations of Western Europe on the assumption that one political faith is going to prevail among them all. That, let me say, is most unlikely to happen; nor is it in any way necessary that it should happen. There has been talk—and this is what I am referring to—of a United Socialist States of Europe. In Western Europe, there are today many Governments—in free Western Europe—most of which are Coalitions, comprised of all parties except the Communist Party. In these Coalitions, the Socialists are, in most instances, not even the largest party. That may show a lack of discrimination on the part of the electors, in the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I am dealing only with the facts, and it is the position that obtains in France, in Holland and in Belgium. It is the position in Italy, of course, where until recently, on the most welcome accession of the adherence of Signor Saragat's minority group, there was no Socialist support for the Government at all. I could quote the further examples of Austria and Hungary, where, until the Smallholder's Party was destroyed by outside intervention, it was the largest party.
425 What I am submitting—and particularly, to certain hon. Members who signed an interesting letter in the "Daily Herald" this morning—is that it would be impracticable, indeed fantastic, to attempt to build the unity of Western Europe solely on a basis of united Western European Socialism. That is not what we must look for. What we have to try to realise is something much wider than that, and I know that all hon. Members will agree. We need the help of all parties in all these countries, whether they are in the Government or not, who are supporters of the Marshall Plan. That help is imperative, and I say to the right hon. Gentleman, if he has such an illusion—and I do not suppose he has—that it is really not possible to do that on the basis of Socialism alone.
I want to make one or two reflections about Germany and to ask one or two questions. For quite a while past—and this is not a criticism; it is part of the legacy of agreements made—the Western Powers have been holding their hands in Germany in the hope of getting some measure of agreement between the four Powers. I fully understand the right hon. Gentleman's desire to achieve that, but for many months now we rust all have come to realise that it is not going to be possible to get that agreement, and that Soviet manoeuvres are really directed to try to delay those essential measures of reconstruction which the Western Powers themselves want to develop in Germany. I feel that to be true, and I think that what is so essential today is that every possible effort should be made to restore the economic life in the there Western zones of Germany, while maintaining the indispensable military safeguards.
What does that mean? It means, amongst other things, that the Ruhr should be given a real chance to live. There may be differences as to how to do this, but, personally, I have always felt sympathethic towards the conception of some form of enduring international regime for the Ruhr. As conditions are now, it must be obvious to everyone that the Soviet Government have now no claim to partake in such a scheme. They could not have, because of the manner in which they have failed to carry out the Potsdam Agreement and the extent to which they have flouted its express provision that Germany must be treated as an economic 426 whole. All this deprives the Soviet Union of any claim to participate in an international administration concerning an area of Germany now out off from the rest of Germany.
I cannot believe that it would be impossible to bring our French friends along with us on a plan of this kind, or some similar plan. It is really indispensable, if we are going to do that, to treat the French as equal partners from the beginning in this matter of the dicussion on Germany. If we do not do that, we shall raise again all those old suspicions to which the French are so properly sensitive. I was sorry to note what apparently happened the other day, and I do not know who was responsible, or whether I have got the facts right. The new Robertson-Clay proposals, which radically altered the machinery of the Bizonal Economic Council, were apparently first announced in the Press, and the French, it seems, had heard nothing of them until that moment. The explanation that appeared afterwards was that the proposals were not final, and the suggestion that the Germans must be consulted first was hardly a form of explanation which was likely to reassure the French. It is just that sort of thing which we have to avoid in making this approach jointly with the French.
I now want to raise some fundamental administrative problems about Germany. We would like some more information, either today or tomorrow, about what is actually happening in the Ruhr. I read in "The Times" this morning, as no doubt, did many other hon. Members, the report of their Frankfurt Correspondent on the Frankfort regime. He has two very serious things to say. He says:Well-placed observers are convinced that, given the necessary confidence the output of many factories in Western Germany could be more than doubled overnight, even in the present condition of plants … For various reasons"—this is the point to which I want to draw the right hon. Gentlemen's attention—notably the fear of dismantling for reparations and the complete lack of confidence in the Reichsmark"—these he gives as the two chief reasons why there is a go-slow policy in these factories, and continues:In the opinion of the Allied Control Office in Frankfort, large stocks of vital materials are being withheld from the market.427 I hope that the Government will tell us later today whether they endorse this view, and whether, even with existing materials, the output could be doubled, because, if that is the position, then I think it is our duty, with our Western Allies, to seek to do something about it.
This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman told us that he was hoping to get currency agreement between the four Powers. Of course, that is desirable, but nobody knows better than he that previous experience of four-Power agreement has not been particularly encouraging. What is to happen if it cannot be got? I am sure the House will feel that we cannot permanently sit waiting for the fourth Power to agree to currency reform. Therefore, I hope the Government will be able to tell us that, while they will try to get this agreement, if they cannot, then the three Powers will go ahead in respect of their own zones with what seems to them the most practical proposal. This applies equally to the question of dismantling and reparations.
It is the action of the Soviet Government which has torn up the real validity of the Potsdam Agreement. That cannot be denied by anybody. The fundamental conception of Potsdam was that Germany should be treated as an economic whole. The Soviet Union has never made its contribution to the life of Germany as a whole. Therefore, they can have no complaint if we have to go ahead with whatever plans seem to us to be best. I am sure that is the course the Government ought to pursue.
The coal output figures seem very disturbing. I do not know whether they are due to the railway wagon position. I read somewhere that there is more coal at the pithead now, despite the poor output, than can, in fact, be moved. If that is so, cannot something be done to ease the wagon situation? We know that there is here a vicious circle. Strikes in France, for which there is some Communist responsibility, have resulted in the loss of two million tons of coal. Owing to that fact, the French are more anxious than ever to get more coal from Germany. If they get it, then the result will be that German industries will suffer, and, as a consequence, the whole German contribution to the Marshall Plan will suffer. The 428 only way in which this matter can be settled is by the most complete and frank discussion between the three partners in Western Germany—ourselves, France, and the United States. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that such a discussion was contemplated. I hope we can also be told that, while we shall still seek a measure of agreement with the fourth Power on the proposals, if necessary, and if that agreement is not forthcoming, we shall go ahead on our own.
§ Mr. Eden
I have one other comment to make. I cannot conclude without some reference to the Peace Treaties which have been ratified by the former Balkan satellites of Germany since our last review of affairs in Eastern Europe. The violation of the human rights clauses of those treaties is, perhaps, the most tragic commentary of all on the decline of that good faith which is the essence of international agreements and international conduct. Petkov has been executed, Stanchev has been imprisoned for life, Kovaks has vanished, and Maniu is in solitary confinement. These are melancholy events which, surely, lay upon us the obligation not to ignore the practical issues that remain. Therefore, I ask the Government to tell us their view on the prospects of the fulfilment of the other clauses of the agreements—for example, of the Danube clauses. Are we to accept as abandoned the undertaking of the riparian States to observe the principle of free trade and navigation on this great artery of Europe?
Another important point about these treaties is the limitation of military forces. I raise this point especially in regard to Bulgaria because we were told before the Recess that the total number of forces under arms in Bulgaria is still far above that specified in the treaty. In view of the inflammatory character of Bulgarian propaganda against Greece, and in view of the fact that these large Bulgarian forces exist, though the Bulgarian frontier is supposed to be demilitarised by the terms of the treaty recently signed, I should have thought this was a matter which called for urgent investigation. I hope the Government will be able to give us some information about it.
429 During the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity of visiting some of the countries of Southern Europe and also of the Middle East. Everywhere, I found the utmost good will towards this country. I endorse what the right hon. Gentleman has said about Bagdad, and I hope, with him, that wiser counsels will prevail. As one travels through those lands and talks to their political leaders, or to their individual citizens, one cannot but be impressed by the extent to which their lives, like ours, are shadowed by the ever-present menace of a darkening international situation.
The ordinary people there, like the ordinary people here, ask nothing more than to be allowed to take their part in rebuilding the national life of their countries, to be able to till the soil, to work in industry, and to bring up their children in some measure of confidence and security. That is all they want. In some countries I was amazed at what has already been done to repair the ravages of war. In others, great new plans of irrigation, and so forth, are going to bring increased prosperity to those countries. Yet, despite all that, there is the oppressive, brooding fear. If I was asked one question by almost everybody it was, "What are the chances of maintaining peace? What is the danger of war?" Every time that was the question put to me. That is the fear which, owing to the relations that at present exist between the great Powers, makes itself felt in the smallest villages in the most remote parts of ale world.
I will conclude, as I began, by saying that it is the earnest desire—and I hope that Moscow will believe it, because it is true—of every hon. Member of this House to bring about some improvement in the relations between this country and the Soviet Union. I am convinced that there is now only one way by which we can do it, and that is by showing that we can make our way of life work. It is only on the basis of our own unshakable strength and the prosperity of our own free system of: society that we can hope to enter upon a period of reasonable relations with the Kremlin. I do not, by any means, despair of that, but those relations will only be established in the world as it exists today by negotiating on a basis of strength. If we are strong we shall deserve success and command it; if we are weak, we shall suffer failure, and deserve it.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
I find myself so much in agreement with the speech of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that I do not propose to deal with the points in it. Like him I have been very deeply impressed by the gravity of the opening remarks of the Foreign Secretary. I must say these opening remarks revealed that we were faced by a very great and difficult problem, but I was disappointed by the lack of precision in the plans the Foreign Secretary put forward for dealing with this problem. It seems to me that there have been very good reasons indeed in the past why this Government should not have taken more drastic action. I have been more fortunate than some hon. Members of this House in that in a very humble capacity I have seen the Foreign Secretary at work, and from the early days of the meetings of the Security Council I have been greatly impressed, time after time, by his very great patience under acute provocation. I think the country should be very grateful to him for that patience, but I also feel that the time has now come when rapid and decisive action is necessary.
We have paid a heavy price in some ways for his patience. Members who have visited the British zone in Germany will know how our desire not to accept the fact that there are two Germanys has had the effect of diminishing the enthusiasm and energy of members of the British Control Commission because they did not know whether they were staying in Germany or what was going to be done with Germany. The result of that has undoubtedly been that throughout the British zone there has been a loss of respect among the Germans for the British and, what in the long run is very much more serious, a loss of respect among the Germans for the democratic system as a whole. That is the price we have paid.
Now we are faced by the obvious fact that the Allies are going their different, separate ways. It is a lamentable fact which everybody in this House will deplore, but we must face up to it. How can we make the best of it? I maintain that it is really quite useless in the long run to increase the fat ration in Germany or the size of the Economic Council in Frankfurt unless we are going to give the 431 Germans something to hope for. Every decent German must desire national unity. It is not our fault that he cannot get it now. What can we give to Germany? We have got to build Germany up. But the very suggestion that we should build up a tri-zonal puppet State must be repugnant to every German; they do not want to be puppets and we do not want them to be puppets. How, then, are we to avoid the growth of a feeling in Germany which will be the danger of another war? I maintain that since we cannot have a united Germany at the present time we must do the only other thing which will give the ordinary German patriotic citizen some hope, and we must make him realise that Western Germany can be integrated in Western Europe.
Surely, it is quite clear that Western Europe will not recover unless it has access to the immense resources, technical skill and manpower of the Ruhr. Western Germany needs Western Europe, and Western Europe needs Western Germany. That is one of the principal reasons why the British Government should take much more drastic action than the Foreign Secretary outlined. I do not know what he is going to do, for he did not tell us in very great detail how he proposes to go ahead in Western Europe. How are we going to treat the other Western European States? Will he propose to the Benelux countries a treaty similar to our treaty with France? But that treaty, so far as I remember, was directed against Germany. These countries—Belgium, Holland and so on—want to know where they stand, so most of us will very much welcome the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that discussions would begin almost at once. The fact is that Germany will be lost to the world as a potentially useful part of it unless we get Western Europe organised very quickly, and that is a great argument in favour of drastic and quick action by the British Government.
There is another reason why we should take the initiative. I do not believe that any small unit in the modern world can pay its way. I would bet that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now much less worried about how to increase British production than about how to sell British products when they are made. That is a great problem and I do not see how 432 it can be solved unless we really do things in a big way. All these other Western European countries have an equivalent worry. If the 16 States taking part in the Marshall Plan are going to behave as 16 different units, I do not believe Western Europe or civilisation will recover. I think if we are going to discuss how the Marshall Plan will work, as individuals, the Americans will inevitably want a higher premium for their insurance. The American conditions will naturally start off by being economic conditions but they will later become political ones, and there will then be a justification for those who want the Marshall Plan rejected for saying that we are selling our birthright for a bundle of dollar bills.
That is another reason why we should get Western Europe organised in preparation for the Marshall Plan and that we should do so rapidly. My right hon. Friend pointed out how very strong Western Europe would be if with its long traditions of modern democratic government, which is indeed a very great force in itself, we also have the advantage of the great Colonial resources of this country and of France, Belgium and Holland. That would mean that a United Western Europe would be very strong indeed—so strong that it would win the full respect of the Americans on the one side and the Russians on the other.
If I may digress, I would say one word about America. I cannot help noticing with some regret how those who in the past have accused the Americans of isolationism are now accusing them of being Imperialist. I am quite convinced in my own mind that the ordinary American wants to take on as few international obligations as possible, compatible with a feeling of security. The Marshall Plan, after all, is either one of the greatest examples of generosity in history or one of the greatest examples of foresight. In either case we, who may go down unless we get Marshall help, should assist America by making Western Europe strong with the least possible delay.
§ Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)
Will the hon. Member define what he means by Western Europe? Does he include Scandinavia?
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett
I would include any country which agrees to come in on 433 the basis of ordinary democratic government. I certainly hope that would include Scandinavia, for it would be a great loss to the world if it did not. We must co-operate with America in that way.
Then we come to the other side. I think the anxiety of many Members of this House about the effect of Western European union on Eastern Europe is very understandable and very genuine; but I also believe it is mistaken. It really is not fair to expect those Eastern European countries, that have been so backward in the past, to get through a sort of social revolution, through which this country has passed, without any intolerance and injustice. Of course, there are acts of injustice, which I deplore as much as any other Member of this House; but I do suggest we must keep a sense of proportion. Many Members would welcome a number of those social changes which are being made in those countries—land reform, and so on. A number of those social reforms are generations overdue. It is the way in which these things are done that—rightly—disgusts us; we rightly deplore some of the measures that accompany that social progress. But we cannot overthrow Communism by force—nobody, surely, is going to be such a fool as to talk about a preventive war? We cannot overthrow it by supporting reactionaries in countries on the other side of the iron curtain. The only way of helping the ordinary, moderate, decent citizens of those countries, is by making a success of the ordinary, moderate, democratic methods in the area where we still have influence, namely, Western Europe.
Let me end with one word of encouragement. It is natural, as we read our papers or listen to the radio day by day, and have to endure this spate of depressing news, that we should sometimes find it difficult to keep our sense of proportion. After all, history is a long series of struggles of the individual to get liberty and security. There are periods when the legitimate desires of citizens are crushed by tyranny; but that spark of divine discontent has never yet been crushed out. Was it to be expected that, after a war such as the last one, we should not have the economic disasters? Was it to be expected that we should get through these 434 years without any extremism on either side? Of course, it was not. I maintain, however that sooner or later that spark of individualism, that desire of the individual to speak his own mind, comes to the surface again. It cannot be crushed out, even in countries where there is a 99 per cent. majority in favour of the Governments of those countries. Therefore, I believe it is important that this House, with its centuries of democratic traditions should—and we as Members of this House should—maintain as much calm in judging these things as possible.
Since I last had the honour to speak in this House I have been away, for nearly a year, going almost all the way round the world, and I cannot easily say how encouraged—tremendously encouraged—I have been to discover that, in all those countries, there are people looking to this country, and hoping that this country will come through its troubles, not because they love the British—nothing of the sort—but because they do realise that if Britain were to go down, there would then be an immeasurable loss to all, because of the traditions for which we have stood in the past. Now we have in this country in the last ten years achieved, to a very great extent, a social revolution. We have done it without the loss of any blood and with little loss of temper. I maintain that that is something about which the country should boast. It has its discomforts—revolution always has—but it has its enormous advantages and it has greatly impressed numbers of people everywhere who feel they would lose something if this country did not come through. We all remember how in 1940 the inspiring speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), then the Prime Minister, were whispered all the way through the resistance movements of Europe, and how they gave the people in those movements courage, and how we, in turn, were encouraged because we knew those people were looking to us. We should be encouraged by the thought that there is just as much desire in the world today for our victory as there was then.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
The course of the Debate has shown how far we have come along the road we have been tread- 435 ing for two years—the road towards a new balance of power, a new arms race, and preparations for a new world war, between an Anglo-American alliance on the one hand, dominated by Washington, and a combination of the States which have passed through a social revolution on the other hand, stretching from the middle of Europe to the Pacific Ocean—an area about three times the size of the United States of America, and including one third of China—soon two thirds—and comprising over 300 million people. I fear very much that the proposals that are being discussed tonight about the organisation of Western Europe on the basis of the Marshall Plan must be viewed as part and parcel of this wider policy, of this return to power politics.
I fully recognise the vital importance of our relations with the United States. I think one of the best things in this world is the fact that the relations between the English-speaking peoples have reached a level of civilisation where the idea of the possibility of war between them has simply dropped out of the picture. That is partly due to history, partly due to our kinship and the similarity of our institutions, and partly due also to our free democratic system. That free democratic system I profoundly believe, is not only superior to any other as a system of Government and a way of life, but is also superior as a medium of international intercourse for it enables opinion-forming discussion to take place across frontiers, and, even where there is disagreement on the official level, for discussion to proceed across the frontiers between the minorities who do agree with each other.
I do not underrate, either, the importance of close relations with our West European neighbours. In fact, I have, in speech and in writing, been advocating a West European federation ever since 1934; and it may be in the recollection of one or two hon. Members that, at the beginning of this Parliament, soon after the General Election, I advocated the extension of the offer, made by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Premier, to France in 1940, to all our West European neighbours.
I would now venture to make a constructive proposal, a small but practical proposal. It is this. Would the Government consider sponsoring, and making 436 itself financially responsible for, an invitation by this House, if this House by free vote should decide to make it, to the Parliaments of the Scandinavian countries, Benelux and France to elect parliamentary delegations, groups of their Members, to meet with a similarly composed delegation from this Parliament to discuss our mutual relations, projects for the organisation of Western Europe, the dangers to world peace, and what we should do about them? These delegations should, of course, vary in size, and each delegate should have one vote. As a basis of discussion I would suggest 60 each for this country and France, 40 each for Holland and Belgium, say 30 for Sweden, and 20 each for Norway and Denmark. In that way I think we could get a real and thorough airing of these problems on a responsible, but nevertheless not official, level, and also help to educate public opinion, which is one of the greatest needs of the moment.
Nor do I underrate the generous impulse behind the Marshall Plan. No one who has visited the United States, as I did quite recently, can fail to be impressed by the intense desire of a very great many people in the United States to extend a helping hand to the peoples of Europe. There is much of that humane, generous and constructive impulse behind popular support for the Marshall Plan. On the practical plane, on the plane of enlightened self-interest, we certainly need any assistance we can get from the United States—and Western Europe needs it—just as much as the people of the United States would be benefited by the reconstruction of Europe. Therefore, it is no part of the point of view I propose to put before the House to suggest that we should reject the Marshall Plan, or refuse to co-operate with the United States and Western Europe.
What I fear is that all our attempts to make a success of the Marshall Plan, and to co-operate with Western Europe and the United States on terms which will help our reconstruction and consolidate peace, will prove a dangerous and disastrous failure unless those policies are accompanied by a wholly different attitude towards the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe, taking shape in agreements leading to full trade and friendly political relations. On paper, the official assurances with which the Marshall Plan has been presented to Congress are 437 very reassuring; assurances of full recognition that the revival of Western Europe impossible without restoring trade with Eastern Europe; assurances that there will be no interference with national independence, and with the right of the European States receiving Marshall aid to order their social and economic affairs as they see fit. But if we look at the reality behind those official assurances, I am afraid difficulties begin to appear.
I will first refer to, although I do not propose to stress, the fact that the actual amount for which the European States asked has been reduced twice; first of all by Mr. Clayton, and then when being presented to Congress. It will almost certainly be whittled down still further by Congress. Even so, the sum left is very large, and means a very real sacrifice on the part of the American people. The question is whether it is possible, without an interference with American standards of living and social habits and organisation such as would be unthinkable except in an emergency of the magnitude of war, for the United States to produce enough help to make this scheme a success.
The second difficulty arises directly out of the character of the American economic system; that is, that the United States is still the only great community in the world which believes in uncontrolled private enterprise and where powerful private vested interests play a very big part, through lobbies in Washington, in the shaping and application of policy. There is no doubt but that the pressure of such interests is responsible for the perhaps somewhat excessive quantity of tobacco and dried eggs with which we are being blessed under the Plan, apparently without having really wanted them; and they are certainly responsible for the rather meagre amounts of machinery and steel, partly because there is no great desire on the part of American industrialists to start up competitors in business in Europe—a very natural preoccupation—and partly because the American steel barons have been playing down production for some time.
One theory as to why they have done that is because they are gambling on a coming slump, and do not want to stick out their necks too far. Whatever be the reason, the fact is, they are under-producing at the moment. Last August, the Federal Trade Commission denounced the American steel masters for practices in 438 restraint of trade and price fixing; but, of course, they are used to taking that kind of thing in their stride. Then there is the restriction on shipbuilding, which is not altogether unconnected with the fact that a lot of American shipping is lying idle.
I now come to the question of non-interference in the internal affairs of the countries concerned. There is the system of the blocked accounts, that is, the fact that the sterling equivalent of materials we receive from the United States has to be paid into a blocked account, which can be drawn upon only for purposes approved of by the American agents of the Marshall Plan, who, of course, will apply their judgment as to what are sound economic purposes. I would refer also to the recent speech of Mr. John Snyder, the Secretary of the American Treasury, in which he said that America would insist upon her views as to balanced budgets, taxation and currency policies in the countries accepting American aid. There is a further indirect control. President Truman pointed out to Congress that it is voting this appropriation for 15 months only, at the end of which the whole thing has to start again and Congress has to approve a further appropriation; and, as President Truman told Congress, naturally approval will be conditional upon whether the Administration are satisfied, and whether Congress is satisfied, with the behaviour of the States which have received assistance in the first 15 months. All that adds up to a pretty comprehensive system of control over our economic and social policy.
However, that is by no means all, for I now come to the heart of the problem. I begin by expressing my utter astonishment at the statement of the Foreign Secretary that there was nothing whatever political about the Marshall Plan, and that it was purely a great-hearted, charitable effort by the American administration. Frankly, I did not know we had a Pollyanna at the head of the Foreign Office. The Foreign Secretary could not have read President Truman's message to Congress, in which he explained in some detail that, to use his own words, the Marshall Plan isa major segment of American foreign policy.It must be applied in conformity with the objects of American foreign policy, and 439 the State Department must have a large part in the system of supervision of how the Plan is administered and carried out. There is not much ambiguity or doubt about American foreign policy. As described by the Americans themselves, it is the defence of democracy and Western civilisation against Communism and the Soviet Union. I think a somewhat less tendentious description would be to say that it is a policy of containment and cold war against the forces of social change and social revolution in Asia and Europe, which are identified with Communism, which, in its turn, is identified with Soviet aggression and expansion.
The United States proposes to carry out this policy by using the threat of force, and ultimately the threat of war to back its views, its rights and interests against any challenge. It wishes to associate Great Britain and Western Europe closely as instruments of that policy, and as adjuncts of it. It is in fact, as the Leader of the Opposition has several times rightly declared, the Fulton policy that has been adopted by President Truman. The Leader of the Opposition claims both the Foreign Secretary and President Truman as his fellow-travellers in world affairs.
Let us take the relationship of the Marshall Plan to American foreign policy. Let us take, first, the question of full trade with Eastern Europe. It must be considered together with the fact that the United States have been deliberately cuting down their trade with the Soviet Union. In four months, they have cut it down from 30 million dollars to 3 million dollars per month, purely as part of their political cold war. The argument is that you must not sell to the Soviet Union any manufactures or machinery which might possibly be used to strengthen the Soviet Union for a coming war. Similarly, the United States have tried to use loans, or rather the withholding and withdrawal of loans, as an instrument of pressure on countries in Eastern Europe. They have cancelled loans which were on the fringe of being granted.
They have used their influence to prevent the International Bank of Reconstruction granting loans, for instance to Poland, when such a loan clearly came within the four corners of the Bank's competence, and when the scheme put 440 up by the Poles was one of the most constructive in Europe—that is, for expanding their coal production. There has already been some comment in the American Press on the hypothetical danger that we might, after receiving aid under the Marshall Plan in the form of steel and machinery, controvert this American policy by ourselves exporting to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union those very types of goods upon which the United States have laid an embargo. It is quite obvious that that situation may arise, and if so, there will be some pretty vigorous non-interference by the Americans to stop us sending the goods.
The French have already broken off their commercial negotiations with the Soviet Union. When I was in Paris recently, I found the opinion prevailing, even in leading Socialist circles, that it was perhaps a good thing to break off these negotiations as it might improve France's chances of getting aid from the Marshall Plan. That is the way the thing works. Acting Secretary of State Mr. Lovett made it clear that the resources under the Marshall Plan would be instantly stopped in the case of any European country where the Communist Party shared in the government. That means that in France and Italy the present regimes of the Right and Right Centre have to remain in power, whatever the French or Italian people may think, as a condition for receiving American aid. Mr. James Reston, the diplomatic correspondent of the "New York Times," reported from Washington to that paper, on 5th December, that there is already talk in the lobbies of Congress, and in the fastnesses of the State Department, of the necessity ultimately to back up American economic aid by military intervention, in order to keep the present regimes of France and Italy in power, because if economic intervention does not suffice to keep these regimes in power, more drastic measures may have to be adopted.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
Is it not a fact that the countries in Eastern Europe which have Communist Governments in power have had direct orders from Moscow not to take part in the Marshall Plan? Will the hon. Member say something about that?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I could talk about a lot of subjects, but that is not one of the subjects with which I am dealing at the 441 moment. So long as the Marshall Plan is dominated by this American foreign policy, there is little or no chance of getting the Scandinavian countries to come into this Western Europe group. When I was in Sweden last Spring, I met several leading members of the Social Democratic Government who were old friends of mine. They told me that whereas the Right would like Sweden to line up with a bloc of Western Powers pitted against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Socialists were grimly determined to cling to neutrality and not allow themselves to be caught up in the Great Power rivalry. This is obviously a policy which makes it very difficult for them to come into the Western bloc, when it is based on a foreign policy such as that of the United States.
The view of American leaders has been made quite clear. Secretary for War James Forestal, in his recent speech, called for a Western European bloc tied up militarily with the United States, as well as through the Marshall Plan. Mr. Bernard Baruch, who is affectionately known as the wolf of Wall Street, also presses this proposal with great emphasis. That is why I say that because the Marshall Plan is part and parcel of the present American foreign policy, I fear that it will prove no solution to our economic difficulties, and may land us in the next American slump, unless the latter is forestalled by another world war.
This may be thought a somewhat harsh judgment of the American economic system. But, after all, it is President Truman himself who quite recently told Congress that unless they voted and adopted a scheme for the control of prices and rationing, nothing could stop a runaway inflation, which would have the gravest results. He denounced as "pitifully inadequate" the scheme put up by the Republican majority in Congress, and gave the warning that America was heading for an inflationary boom to be followed by a slump. The only thing I would add is that the city editor of "The Times," among others, has pointed out, that President Truman's own proposals are almost as make-believe and ineffective as those of Congress. That is because they were messed about rather thoroughly by the Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Averel Harriman, who himself belongs to big 442 business. The President's Administration is studded with big business tycoons, where they are not military men. Therefore, there is no chance, as far as one can see, of inflation being checked, at least until its first results have become sufficiently alarming to change people's minds.
I would remind the House of what I said about the Marshall Plan on 6th August. I pointed out that American capitalism was literally incapable of delivering the goods, unless controls, price-fixing, and rationing were reintroduced. I said that there was no chance of that being done with the present set-up in Congress. Unfortunately, that is what is happening. This is really crucial, because we are tying our fortunes to an American economic system which promises no assurance of stability and prosperity over the next two years, that there will not be a slump before then. I hope that the report last November of a group of economists of the United Nations, who, surveying the world situation, predicted an American slump this year, does not prove to be correct.
The House may think that my judgment of American foreign policy is harsh. If so, I would refer hon. Members to a sympathetic account of it, which was given by one of the most intelligent and best informed of American newspaper publicists, Mr. Walter Lippman, in his book on American foreign policy entitled "The Cold War." He is no starry-eyed idealist, but a hard-boiled realist, who himself accepts the principle of containment and cold war, but objects to the way in which the Administration is trying to carry it out. What he says about United States foreign policy is that it is based on the Truman doctrine, which is derived from the views on foreign policy of one of Mr. Truman's leading experts, Mr. George F. Kennan, who is head of the policy planning department of the State Department. He is also the author of what I can only describe as the monstrous article in the quarterly "Foreign Affairs," by Mr. X. entitled "Sources of Soviet Conduct."
The whole thesis of that article, according to Mr. Lippman, was that American foreign policy is based on the theory that the Soviet regime is inaccessible to reason, cannot be dealt with by peaceful means, has no elements of and cannot evolve 443 toward democracy, and will respond only to threats of force. He says, further, that they will not respond readily to threats of force, and the treatment must be continued for 10 to 15 years until, as a result of continued frustration, the Soviet regime will be modified or overthrown from within. That is where I came in. That is the state of mind which I found when I was, for my sins, pitched into intervening in Siberia in the first World War, and heard about the imminent demise of the Soviet regime.
This policy, to quote Mr. Lippman again, is carried out by:recruiting, subsidising and supporting a heterogeneous array of satellites, clients, dependants and puppets. The instrument of the policy of containment is, therefore, a coalition of disorganised, disunited, feeble or disorderly nations, tribes and factions round the perimeter of the Soviet Union.That is exactly what is happening. The United States are supporting a feeble Fascist regime in China, a medimval tyranny in Persia, subsidising a military dictatorship in Turkey, and spending a lot of money on a Royalist Fascist dictatorship in Greece; and now Western Europe is coming into line for similar treatment.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean)
Will my hon. Friend substantiate his statement that there is a military dictatorship in Turkey, when, in fact, there is an open Parliament there and free discussion?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
There may be open discussion but the Turkish regime is, I think, more accurately described as a military dictatorship than a democratic republic. My hon. Friend can have it whichever way he likes—[Laughter.] I do not think that the joke will be on me. Anyone who wants to believe that Turkey is a democratic republic can go right ahead and believe it, so far as I am concerned.
The most important point Mr. Lippman makes is that this policy is bound to end in failure. His reasons, I think, are convincing. They are rooted in the very character and structure of American Government and democracy, which cannot be geared for war in peacetime and cannot go on threatening countries over a long period of years without disrupting the internal life of the country and sickening its people. The policy is already failing.
444 The Americans are being beaten in China. American policy is failing because the regime they are supporting is so corrupt and oppressive that the Chinese people do not want it and are not supporting it. It is failing in Turkey because the wily Turks are now threatening that, unless a lot more money is forthcoming, they are going to make it up with the Soviet Union. This policy in Greece is on the verge of collapse. Something like £300 million—one-third of the American loan to Britain—has been spent in Greece by U.N.R.R.A. and the British and American Governments together, and today there are five to ten times as many partisans in the hills as there were a year ago, and they are holding more territory than they possessed in 1943, when they were opposed by five German and seven Italian divisions.
The Athens correspondent of "The Times" on 12th January reported that the country is on the verge of an economic collapse and in the throes of runaway inflation. The Greek Army is showing no tremendous enthusiasm to fight. There have been about 250 soldiers shot for refusing to fight, a steady stream of courts-martial, and some thousands of soldiers are in concentration camps for refusing to fight. Unfortunately, the expedition of American Marines to the Eastern Mediterranean did not raise morale as intended, but had the opposite effect. The Greek Army must have seen some of the American films which end with "Here Come the Marines." But they thought that they were in the audience instead of being the heroine struggling with the "heavy," and they are relaxing now, and saying, "If the Americans are coming in to fight, why should we risk our lives. If we take it easy, Uncle Sam will come along and bail us out."
The danger of this policy is, of course, that it may be accompanied by a real danger of a world war. Here again, I quote Mr. Lippman:The United States must stake her security and world peace upon satellites, puppets, clients and agents about whom we can know very little. Frequently they will act for their own reasons and on their own judgment, presenting us with accomplished facts we did not intend and with crises for which we are unready. We shall have either to disown our puppets, which will be tantamount to appeasement, defeat and loss of face, or we 445 must support them at an incalculable cost, on unintended, unforeseen and perhaps undesirable issues.That is precisely the situation we are faced with in Greece today.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Once is enough. The Americans are in a dilemma in Greece. They cannot draw back without losing face, and they do not see how they are to go forward without getting into very serious trouble. The appropriation of Congress of 150 million dollars will expire in June, and the American authorities are bothered as to what Congress will say when they ask for more money for the continuation of the same policy. They fear that a good many Congressmen will use the stock phrase that they are throwing money down a rathole. On the other hand, again, as Mr. Lippman has pointed out in a recent newspaper article, they cannot have direct military intervention on a limited liability basis. It is no good sending in one or two military divisions. It will be necessary to stake the whole military power of the United States behind those divisions. It may mean partial mobilisation. That is not a policy which the American people will tolerate. It would be very risky in election year.
That being so, the Administration have their own way out. They say, "Let George do it," or should I be in order if I said, "Let Ernie do it." There are still British troops in Greece. Why they are there is an interesting story. They are there because as former Secretary of State Mr. James Byrnes tells us in his book "Speaking Frankly," when the news came through that British troops were to be withdrawn, it caused alarm and despondency in the State Department; but he did not worry because he knew that he had only to speak to his friend the British Foreign Secretary and the troops would stay there. The troops are still there. They have been kept in Greece all this time to please the Americans. The Americans think, "why not use these troops," and that is why there is all this talk and fear of war in the air. That is why we have the somewhat startling fact reported in the "Daily Herald" on 21st January thatthe R.A.F. operational unit is after all to remain in Greece. A signal from the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East cancelling the plans for the departure came as a surprise just 446 as the officers had assembled for a farewell pasty.Why are these instructions cancelled? I should like to know why these boys have been kept in Greece and why our troops are still there. I should like the Government to give a categorical assurance that under no circumstances will they take any risk of war or sacrifice any British lives for the sake of American policy in Greece. That policy was undertaken without consulting this country. It was undertaken outside the framework of the United Nations. The Americans did it off their own bat, and the best thing that they could do would be to get out and take their Royalist, Fascist and quisling protégés with them.
The question that the Government, the country and the House have to face is whether we shall base our relations with the countries of Socialist reconstruction, totalling roughly 300 million people, with nearly the whole of the French, Italian and a large part of the German workers to boot, on the Charter or on a Balance of Power and an arms race. I do not believe that we can fight ideologies with weapons, but I believe that we as Socialists ourselves can find common ground with our fellow workers in Europe and Asia. We can, through full trade and friendly political relations create the kind of Europe and the kind of world in which there is secure peace and prosperity. It is only in that atmosphere and in those conditions that these revolutionary regimes—some of them in very backward countries which have never known democracy—can get rid of their harsh and ugly features. It is only in those conditions that democracy and freedom can develop out of these regimes.
Democracy cannot be imposed by atom bombs. Democracy can only grow in an atmosphere of friendship and security. That was what Petkov, about whom we have heard so much, said to me when I saw him last. "Tell your friends in England"—and I told the House this when I last spoke on foreign affairs" that if they really want to help us who are in opposition in Eastern Europe and if they really want to promote the cause of democracy and freedom in our countries, then the Western Powers should compose their quarrels with the Soviet Union and have a common policy with that country. That would be our salvation." [An HON. MEMBER: "Why was he killed?"] He 447 was killed because, instead of a policy of concord between the great Powers, the United States announced their cold war and President Truman went into Greece, which sent a thrill of fear all through Eastern Europe. I put this to the Government—do they wish to base our policy with the Soviet Union on the Charter, or on Fulton? They must stop humbugging and make up their minds and take their stand either on an Anglo-American alliance run from Washington, or on the Charter, which says we must settle all our differences even with the U.S.S.R. by peaceful means, and must never use force in our dealings with that country. On that choice hangs the issue of peace or another world war.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Lawson (Chester-le-Street)
I have heard several speeches by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) in this House, and I have read several of his speeches. I am a political neighbour of his, a member of the same party and one who respects him very much. However, like my colleagues from the North, I have been very reluctant to take part in a Debate in which the differences would appear to be so pointed, but the time has arrived when this House and the world outside should be told that my hon. Friend does not speak for anything but an insignificant proportion of the voters of this country.
§ Mr. Lawson
It may be that he speaks for some others in the party, but he does not speak for the majority of his party, nor does he speak for the working classes of this country.
§ Mr. Lawson
As a matter of fact, now that the question has been put, I lived among the working classes when I worked in the pits.
§ Mr. Lawson
I live in the same kind of house, in the same kind of street and among the same kind of people as when I worked in the pit, so I ought to know what they say. There are evidences in the North of England that there is not only dissatisfaction, but something amounting to indignation because the views put by the hon. Member for Gateshead are being interpreted as being something which represents the opinion of the working class of Britain.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I should like to point out to my right hon. Friend that I got a unanimous vote of confidence of my party.
§ Mr. Lawson
I knew my hon. Friend was going to put that point and he did get a vote of his divisional party
§ Mr. Lawson
However, I would remind him that since that time a very important miners' lodge has expressed indignation publicly about his views, and passed a resolution.
I want to make quite clear the facts upon which the people base their views on Russia When this war ended I suppose none of the Allies was more popular than the Russians were with the great mass of our men, who saw them as very gallant allies. It is perhaps seldom if ever in the history of Europe that a war ended with such high hopes of a world united and of permanent peace as when the last war ended. What has happened? The right hon. Gentleman who represents the Government as Foreign Secretary has been patient and has laboured hard. He has suffered, as some of my hon. Friends have said, acute provocation, and yet he has kept his temper. Side by side, the Russian representative, for what reasons he may know best, has delayed and disrupted proceedings at different Conferences, while the Foreign Secretary of this country has patiently attempted to get some agreement. I venture to say that in the diplomatic world there has never been a man who has shown such patience as the Foreign Secretary. On the last o[...]asion of the Foreign Ministers' conference the business was brought to an end by the Russian representative.
§ Mr. Lawson
So it was. What are our people saying? Right and left, this is what they are saying. They are not super-intellectual in splitting hairs, but they see and hear what is taking place, and they are asking, "What do the Russians want?" My hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead has told us many things this evening, but he has not yet told us what they want.
§ Mr. Lawson
We should be very interested to hear it. The British worker and people do not understand what the Russians want, but what they do understand is that freedom is being killed in those States that border the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Lawson
They understand that, in those States, a Prime Minister can threaten with death those who oppose him.
I am very pleased to have heard the statement made by the Foreign Secretary on behalf of the Government. I am glad that the Government are going to do their very best to build up an organisation. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend said kindly words about the Americans. In spite of their criticism of us—and we have plenty of criticism from other quarters—and of their being a capitalist State—I never liked a capitalist State and have no reason to do so—they are a great people, who think in generous terms. At a difficult moment they came to us and helped us. It may be that if they had not done so we should not be sitting here today.
The Government can take it that the people from the two Northern counties are behind them in their policy, and wish them well. I not only wish, but pray that their policy may work towards the restoration and rebuilding of the faith which the peoples of the world have almost lost, in permanent peace.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)
I am sure that the House is grateful for the speech which has just been delivered by the right hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson). We are 450 pleased to see him in good health and full of confidence and faith in the principles in which I am sure we both believe.
Let me deal first of all with the mischievous speech which was made just previously by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr Zilliacus). I do not wish to attach any more importance to the views which the hon. Member holds, and is known throughout the world to hold, than his right hon. Friend himself attached to them in his speech. The trouble is that the hon. Member and his Friends are very vociferous and they write a great deal. Many people in the world believe that they have a large following. The trouble is also that they have a following much greater than they would have if only the facts and the truth were fully understood. The reason why the hon. Member for Gateshead described the article in "Foreign Affairs" written by Mr. X, upon the "Sources of Soviet Conduct" as a monstrous article was that that article set out some truths—and the hon. Gentleman does not like truths.
In the course of his long speech the hon. Member put forward two reasonably positive proposals. One was that the Government should invite delegates from the Parliaments of a number of European countries: but what more would come out of such a meeting than out of the meetings which take place between the representatives at the Inter-Parliamentary Union I do not know. The second point—this was the only advice he gave to the Government—was that we should not merely try to appease Soviet Russia but should give in to them in every direction. The hon. Member objects strongly if we reply to Soviet Russia with any kind of action, or if we try to reach agreement with our Western friends and with the United States. We have to give in to everything which Russia demands and we must do nothing to resist the sustained and violent attacks she makes upon everything in which we believe.
That is the problem which faces this House today. As the Foreign Secretary said at the beginning of his speech, the policy of the Soviet Government is to get control of Eastern Europe and then of Western Europe. I think those were the words used by the right hon. Gentleman, and they are reason enough for the gravity which all Members who have 451 spoken in this House attach to the existing situation. There are two slightly different problems in Europe, as the right hon. Gentleman put the matter to us. There is the problem of Eastern Europe where the spread of Communism has been in large measure successful, and there is the problem of Western Europe where the cold war is still going on and may yet intensify.
I want to deal with one particular country, Greece, which is neither a part of Eastern Europe nor strictly a part of Western Europe. It is most important, however, that nothing should go out from this House to suggest that when talking of Western Europe we do not include Greece and we wish to leave Greece isolated. I do not believe that it is our intention to do so, but the way in which the Foreign Secretary dealt with the problem of Eastern Europe and then went on to Western Europe might mislead our Greek friends. It might also mislead those enemies of Greece who are constantly working against us in the countries of Eastern Europe.
The problem in Greece is by no means a separate one from the main problem with which we are faced in Western Europe. The United States are quite rightly facing the Greek problem in exactly the same way as they now face the problem of Western Europe. By economic and other help we must make it possible for Greece, as for other countries of Western Europe, to live in freedom and in order and to live their
lives as they wish. That can only be done if the conditions of economic chaos in which Communism flourishes are removed as quickly as possible. The problem of Greece is closely related to that of Western Europe. I should like to concentrate the attention of the House for a few moments entirely upon Greece.
In his short survey of the trouble in Greece the hon. Member for Gateshead made no mention of the root cause there today, which is civil war. It is civil war and not American aid which has given rise to the terrible inflation. Inflation is not caused by another country's generosity in providing extra goods and loans. The inflation in Greece is intensified by the action of the guerillas under General Marcos, supported by others outside Greece, in upsetting the economy of that 452 country. We heard in the speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) of the 500,000 Greek men, women and children who have been driven from their homes and are now wandering in Greece as refugees. Those people were not driven from their homes by American or British aid but by the guerillas of General Marcos. That half million represents one in every 14 persons in Greece, which is some measure of the difficulties directly caused by the guerilla activity. There are also indirect results in that the resources of the Greeks, increased as they may be by contributions from the United States, have had to be used far more than they should have had to be used on the Army and its equipment. When one adds up the strain on the economy of Greece caused by General Marcos and his guerillas one can very easily see what a false picture was given to the House by the hon. Member for Gateshead.
Though the United States are giving more economic aid to Greece than we can ever give in present circumstances, there is no reason at all why the British Government should not take the lead in the world's policy towards the present Greek situation. Greece may be an American interest—the peace of Greece and the rescue of Greece from the clutch of Communism is clearly recognised by the people of America as an American interest—but Greece is also a first ranking British interest and it is right and proper that the British Government should, if they think fit, be prepared to give a lead to the world in the policy towards the present problems of Greece. As I have tried to show, these problems are mainly caused—it would be an over-simplification to say entirely caused—by the action of the guerillas.
For some time past it has been hoped that the Greek forces themselves could deal with the problem unaided directly by other forces. I hope the Minister of State will tell the House how many troops we have there at present. I believe that they are very few and can make no great material difference though they may give moral support where moral support is badly needed. The purely military problem facing the Greek Army is that it has to rush from place to place to counter guerilla activity of whatever kind it may be—it may be just a small raid or a big raid like that which took place on Konitza 453 on Christmas Eve. The Greek Army has to be all over Greece, and at the same time it ought to be trying to seal the northern frontier in order to prevent the arrival of material reinforcements—war supplies and so on—and trained men from Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, of the transfer of which across the border there is ample evidence as the House surely knows.
It is apparent from all the reports which have reached me and which have appeared in the newspapers, that the Greek Army is incapable of doing both these tasks. Greece has never been able both to seal the frontier, and to counter guerilla activities inside Greece. They are two quite separate tasks and the Greek Army even if it is large enough, is not well enough trained to deal with the problem. If hon. Members think of the strain which is caused by guerilla activity, for instance, in Palestine on the vastly better trained and equipped Army of 100,000 men which we had there for a time, they will see the measure of the difficulties which the Greek Army faces. The Greek Army is supposed to be about 100,000 and is to be increased to 132,000, but it is not as well equipped or trained as our forces in Palestine, for instance, and we have seen the tremendous problems faced by a force even as big as that.
I have therefore come to the conclusion that if anything is to be done to stop the guerilla activities in Greece, Greece must have help from outside, As one of those who have always supported the United Nations, I should have liked to see an international military force or a detachment of it used to seal the northern frontier; but it does not exist. The problem is quite a simple one. If we are agreed that the northern frontier must be sealed and that the Greek Army is not able to seal it by itself, is the job then to go undone or is somebody else to do it? As I see it—it may be a slight stretching of the terms of the United Nations Charter—Greece is perfectly entitled to make agreements with the United States, us, France or any other country she may choose, under Article 51 of the Charter to lend her assistance against what is quite clearly an attack from the countries to the north of her—
§ Mr. Platts-Mills (Finsbury)
I understood the hon. Gentleman to define the struggle in Greece as a civil war. I now understand he changes that and says that 454 it is quite clearly an attack from outside. Does he now assert that it is not a civil war but a foreign invasion? If so, would he give some of the evidence which he says the House possesses, bearing in mind that the Greek Army failed to find a single prisoner from any foreign country although they have been pressed to try to do so?
§ Mr. Low
I understand that the recent Balkan Commission reported that it is undoubted that there is aid from Albania, and that is the report which has been sent to the United Nations Assembly. Two previous Balkan sub-commissions reported that there was aid in personnel training and in materials from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. I said—the hon. Gentleman may not have been listening—that I might be stretching the terms of the Charter, but I am trying to find an answer to the problem. If the hon. Member is not trying to do so, we are not on the same terms and are not talking about the same thing.
§ Mr. Platts-Mills
My only fear was that the hon. Member was seeking to stretch the evidence, never mind about his stretching the Charter.
§ Mr. Low
I am not seeking to stretch the evidence which I understood to be quite clear and which is reinforced by the reports of the correspondents of newspapers of all nationalities who have been on the spot. That then is the situation. The hon. Gentleman has of course put his finger on the problem. It is a very difficult problem both in law and in international ethics, but if we are really doing what the Foreign Secretary said we were doing which is, in my own words, to resist the further spread of Communism over Europe, we must at least try to find an answer to this problem.
Having dealt with the facts as I see them, I will quote an extract from a speech by Mr. John Foster Dulles in New York on 17th January. He said:The known obstacle to peace is the con fident belief of the Soviet Communist Party that their weapons of propaganda, penetration and sabotage will prevail. That obstacle must be cleared away.Later on he said:It must be proved that Soviet leaders cannot indefinitely expand their powers by trick devices of minority penetration and sabotage. Once it is apparent that such means fail, they will be abandoned.455 Then, as he said, the third phase of peacemaking may begin. Hon. Members opposite may be at variance with me and with hon. Members on this side about the means, but we are all agreed, surely, that we want to see what Mr. John Foster Dulles called the third phase of peacemaking begin. We want to get out of this phase, which may be said to have begun definitely when the Foreign Ministers' Conference broke down in London, into a phase where we may be able to trust Russian promises and Russian spokesmen. However, we cannot do that at present, and the problem now is, as was said earlier by my hon. and right hon. Friends, to make our part of the world work, and it is with that in mind that I have made my few observations about Greece.
I would emphasise to the Under-Secretary of State that I have searched every possible method I can think of to see how the Greek situation can be resolved in any way other than by some form of sealing the frontiers. It may horrify hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies opposite to think of the further use of British or any other troops in some other country, but in my opinion, if something like that is not done quickly, we shall have to expend far more resources in money, and possibly in blood, at a later stage to stop the spread of this evil of Communism. I put it to the Government with all the seriousness at my disposal that if they were to take the lead, invite the Greeks to consider the suggestion that an international force be given the responsibility of sealing the Northern frontier, very soon the guerilla activity in Greece would come to an end. That is the testimony not of any of my hon. Friends on this side of the House but of the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) who wrote to "The Times" to that effect earlier this month. When the guerilla activity in Greece has come to an end, that will remove one of the worst danger spots to the peace of Europe and to the peace of the world.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I have been wondering very much during the last hour whether the harmony which appeared to be present in this House during the opening stages of the Debate 456 was genuine, and I had reason to doubt it when my right hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson)—whom we are all glad to see back in robust health again—spoke with great vigour and sincerity, but obviously did not command the complete agreement of all hon. Members in his own party. I asked for an extra hour for this Debate, Mr. Speaker, because we ought to be debating this question the whole of this week. This is the gravest hour in all the time I have been in the House of Commons, almost not excepting the grave Debates preceding the war. I was in a Government which was appeasing, and I have not happy memories of some aspects of those years, but I cannot help feeling that during these last few months the situation has been almost parallel.
Coming as I have not only from the Ruhr but from America—in other words I have seen both sides—I feel that the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) has not given a fair picture of what is happening in America. We know now that the days of wishful thinking are over and that we have to face hard facts. For instance, we know that increased coal production is about the best asset that the Foreign Secretary can have in negotiation, and therefore domestic policy and foreign policy cannot be separated as there was a tendency to separate them a year ago. When one comes to America, I do not think it is sufficiently realised that there has been a complete revolution of thought in America as well as in Eastern Europe. When I was in Iowa three months ago I met a group of farmers who had flown over to Europe to see the facts for themselves, and they came back and said that on commercial as well as on moral grounds, their business was to help and to help quickly. There is a complete change of opinion throughout the Middle West from that of prewar days.
I wish my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead was here because I want to ask him whether he realises that this is not a Wall Street policy, but that it is a Main Street policy. If he will speak to men in small shops, men in factories, men on the railways, as I have been doing right through the Middle West, he will find they also realise the effect of foreign policy on domestic life, and they will tell him that this means a sacrifice of their 457 savings. It may be that it is endorsed by their Government, it may be that it is endorsed by men like Mr. Stimson, Mr. Baruch, Mr. Vandenberg, the President of Harvard, Mr. Rheinhold Niebuhr and the rest—names which have a European origin—men whose ancestors went from Europe to America, just as we gave in exchange Washington, Harvard, Tom Paine and Penn, to the United States. The other day, as "The Times" reported, Mr. Marshall said:I think I am on firm ground when I say that Europe in particular will be far better understood by the United States than the United States by Europe.Of course, he was referring to the five million ex-Service men who have gone back to the States with memories of Europe. The picture I have given of these men with European names is symbolic of European reconstruction and also of what is absolutely vital now, the re-creation of Western civilisation.
I wonder how we think of America? America has 30 million Catholics, 8 million Methodists, a large company of Quakers, a universal system of public education with two and a half million college students, and they have something to give Europe besides food and money. When I wrote about this to "The Times" the other day, I was writing with the full backing not only of the presidents of the great State universities, but of those in America with whom I discussed the Marshall Plan, for in America at present there is a group of citizens, men of all parties and professions and creeds who are backing this great conception. My only criticism of the Government is that when the Foreign Secretary came to the more concrete part of his Western Europe plan, I felt he was too vague. Quite frankly, in that middle piece I could not follow him
through Africa and the Continents. I know it is not easy to be precise in a speech covering the whole world, but if we mean anything by a Western Union, there ought to have been a great deal more practical thought given to the details. Does the hon. Lady wish to say something?
§ Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)
I wanted to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he did not realise that the practical part of a Western European Union is that it should have access to the raw materials 458 of Africa, and in that the right hon. Gentleman was precise.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I am glad that my hon. Friend followed the Foreign Secretary, but when the Minister of State winds up perhaps he will give us a little more practical detail about it, for I could not follow it, and I know that some of my hon. Friends could not do so. There is an enormous interchange between Europe and America. To give one simple example, there are at this moment 120 teachers in either country teaching in each other's schools. The larger American corporations were all lumped together by Vyshinski—Rockefeller and Carnegie, who have done untold good in Europe in the causes of health, science, education and peace. There is much more interest in these things in America, because, as one drives through the streets of New York, one can listen to Vyshinski on the wireless in the taxi cab, and people are not so out of touch with things as we are because the United Nations meetings are-held so far away from us.
It is my conviction that political plans and economic policies must ultimately be based on the acceptance of some common values and at present too little attention is paid to the humanism which distinguishes Western thought, whose spiritual home is Britain itself and which has not been called in aid for the Marshall Plan. Statesmen like Balfour, Asquith and General Smuts, great thinkers of Europe like Croce of Italy, Maritain of France and Whitehead in America—all these men shared the common hope that foreign policy would not be based merely on expediency and not even on immediate practical needs, but on what Smuts calls,Something enduring in the human spirit, and evolving structure of our international society.I do not think he used those words idly. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Gateshead that it is our business in this country necessarily to support all the revolutionary movements in Europe. My experience of Europe at the present time is that it is in a very sad convalescent state. The physical wreckage is matched by the psychological disturbance, and there is a spread of such things as juvenile delinquency. One only has to go to the Ruhr to see what is happening, or Poland where 80 per cent. of the children are tubercular, while in Greece the conditions in the 459 schools and among children are almost impossible. I am talking about the cities. Why I quarrel with my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead is because he seems to be glorying in the deep ideological differences. In some ways his speech was a cynical speech and aroused more mirth than thought at this moment in history as he discussed the European situation. Frankly, the European situation is not a subject which should arouse mirth. He ridiculed the United States but did not say one constructive thing.
Why is there such deep confusion in men's minds? Why cannot the United Nations Society in this country pay its way through lack of membership? Why is there such widespread scepticism throughout the student world, compared with 1922 when the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and many other Members of this House were students at Oxford and Robert Cecil and Nansen were rousing the conscience of the whole world? Was the situation so completely different? I think there are three main reasons, and unless we tackle the reasons we are only dealing with symptoms. To my-mind the Veto at Lake Success is a symptom of something very much deeper.
The first reason is the dictatorship in Europe has destroyed the sense of responsible liberty among millions of people and that has to be restored. The second is, as the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) said, everyone is bewildered. They listen over the B.B.C. in one week to a series of calamitous things happening all over the world and the average person feels helpless to do anything about it. The third reason is the impact of the East and the Middle East. Gandhi in one day has done more for peace than the Security Council has done in two years, and that has made a good many people think. Ultimately, the problem is one of rebuilding a sense of responsible liberty, of trying to clarify the bewilderment of the ordinary citizen and enlarging his horizon so that he can see beyond the immediate neighbourhood.
I will quote a sentence which I have taken from the official instructions given to Soviet teachers. It is in a book by a friend of mine in America which is called, "I Want to be Like Stalin" and the author is George Counts, who for 20 460 years has done everything he can to build a better relationship between his own country and the Soviet Union. This is the translation:The entire work of the school must be directed towards the education of the children inCommunist morality, a morally educated person being one who subordinates his own interests to the service of his motherland and people. Such service presupposes wrath and hatred towards the enemies of the motherland.That explains in a flash the mentality in parts of Trieste, Berlin, and Vienna. I have seen people taken and put away in Vienna, Trieste and Berlin. That is possible because this is being instilled into the children. Professor Dewey the great progressive teacher in America says in commending this book:This book is the best key in existence to understanding why disagreement with any piece of Bolshevik policy makes the dissenting nation an enemy to be dealt with by measures dictated by wrath and hatredThis has nothing to do with Socialism, Communism nor Karl Marx; it is naked nationalism. Because I believe that to be a fact, we have to proclaim from the house tops that this doctrine practised as it is over portions of the earth must be exposed and we must prevent any rebirth of intolerance in the Western nations or races. I do not believe from what I have seen that Western thought is extinct in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, or even Russia itself. Of course it is not. It is in that spirit that we ought to examine with much greater speed and objectivity how we can knit more closely together financial and economic ties. I was glad to hear the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington also mention cultural ties, because I believe they are basic to us now, and far too little discussion and thought have been given to them.
I am glad that the ban on travel has been lifted a little. Abolish the restrictions on books and give the ordinary citizen an active and vested interest in a policy of peace and reconstruction. I believe there are thousands of forces unseen and seen which are working for unity and co-operation in Europe. There have been the beginnings of a recovery, I would almost say an intellectual recovery. The Rector of Strasbourg, the Rector of Louvain and the Rector of Leyden have all been in concentration camps and have come back to their colleges and studies with a new vision of Europe. I am not 461 talking about siding with reactionaries in Europe, but of siding with people who are trying to preserve some stability in order to reconstruct. I think that is more important at present than trying to side with what the hon. Member for Gateshead rather loosely calls "revolutionary forces."
It is in that spirit that I very strongly support the Foreign Secretary for his poise and patience and moral courage during these trying months. I am one of those who, although I sit on this side of the House, support go per cent. of the legislation passed by this Government. That is the measure of my independence. I hope hon. Members opposite who disagree with the Foreign Secretary are going to tell us what their differences are. I understand the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). He is clear and consistent, but I cannot understand what the Foreign Secretary ought to have done—unless it is a question of degree on which we can all have little quarrels—during the last few years. If some of the hon. Members would tell us what the differences are, I believe this Debate will have been well worth while, and we can go out from it feeling a sense of essential unity and the world will feel it as well.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks (Broxtowe)
The atmosphere in which this Debate has been conducted tonight has been one of considerable gloom, and when one hears that a man so level-headed and equable in temperament as General Eisenhower is reported to have said recently that he could not guarantee that there would not be a war within 12 months, one must admit that that gloom is thoroughly justified. I agree with the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) that we have reached a critical point in the history of this country and of the world. The breakdown of the Conference of Foreign Ministers, the prolonged deadlock about Austria, the interminable and heated discussions at the Assembly of the United Nations and on the Security Council, show that the road we have been treading in the last two and a half years is bringing us perilously near to the abyss. In fact, we can almost feel the heat of the flames.
Surely, this is a moment when we ought to pause and reflect, when we 462 should consider whether at some time in the last two and a half years we may not have taken the wrong turning, and, if so, whether even at this last moment it might not be possible to retrace our steps to that point and take another road which might not skirt the abyss instead of plunging us into it, and even follow it down to a point where we might bridge it and cross into security. If such a course is possible, I am sure everybody in this House will wish to follow it. It is surely our duty to consider whether such a course is possible.
Looking hack to 1945—only two and a half years ago—it is astounding to me, as it must be to everybody, to see how far we have moved from the conceptions which most of us have held in the past. The Government, for example, state that they still base their policy on the Charter of the United Nations. As the Conservative Party says that the foreign policy of the Labour Party is their policy also, I take it that their policy also is to support the Charter of the United Nations. But how very different is our present conception of the United Nations from what it was two and a half years ago. In 1945 almost everybody agreed that the success of U.N.O. depended upon harmony and unity being preserved between America, the Soviet Union and ourselves. It was argued at that time that, as a result of the war, these three countries had become so powerful compared with the other nations, that not one of them could possibly be coerced by the united force of the world without a world war, and, therefore, they must stick together and act in agreement. That is how the veto arose; nothing could be done unless those three were in unity.
The Labour Party at that time published a paper called "The International Postwar Settlement" in which they said:If we three hold together all will be well. If we fall apart all will be dark and uncertain"—as it is now. That is a warning very strikingly fulfilled. I do not say that that conception of U.N.O. was ideal or a very high one, because it meant that when the Big Three spoke in unison all the smaller nations would have to hold their peace. It meant also that unless the Big Three were consistently animated by the noblest ideals and actuated by the highest motives there was a danger that they might perpetuate iniquity. Still it was a policy of a sort and it was a policy 463 which corresponded with the realities of power at the time. If it did not ensure justice, it was certainly calculated to preserve a peace backed by overwhelming force.
We have now moved far away from that conception. That is why peace is in peril. As a matter of fact, as I think the Foreign Secretary said today, there has hardly been a moment since Potsdam when the Big Three have acted together in complete harmony. Every month differences and disagreements have deepened and widened between Russia and the other two, or the other three as they are now. Instead of being partners they have become antagonists. Every month has been marked by a new asperity, a fresh harshness, a further failure to observe the ordinary courtesies of diplomatic intercourse, and recourse to violent and provocative language which a few years ago would have been unthinkable except on the very verge of war to which it would undoubtedly have led in those days. All semblance of unity has now been dropped. At almost every international conference at which Russia is represented she has either assumed, or been forced, into a position of an opponent and an antagonist instead of a partner of the other three.
The result of all this is that international discussion has failed, meetings have been drowned in a torrent of talk and floods of dialectic. The same arguments have been repeated and refuted over and over again, and no decision has ever been reached. No concrete results have been obtained, while all the time the atmosphere of the world has been growing more heated and more inflammable. As a consequence, the people of the world, although they are reluctant to resign themselves to the sad inevitability of another war, with its possibilities of universal chaos and annihilation, are rapidly losing faith in U.N.O. and, indeed, in any international machinery for the preservation of peace. When a great new institution like U.N.O. loses the faith and confidence of the ordinary people, its actual usefulness is nearing its end. I am a supporter of U.N.O., as I was of the League of Nations. But I always thought that to jump at once from a world consisting of a number of independent sovereign States with different traditions and different economic systems to a one-world organisation, was a very long step to take and that 464 it might not produce very satisfactory results. I have always thought that the first step to bring about international government would be for nations which had similar traditions, ways of life, economic circumstances and usually geographical proximity as well, to draw together and form regional councils or regional group systems to settle their own difficulties among themselves, and that those groups should send representatives to some world council to deal with matters affecting the world as a whole or with the differences between one region and another. U.N.O. has been constituted on a different plan from that, but there is provision in Article 52 of the Charter for the existence of regional groups.
I would like to see four or five groups formed under that Article to cover the whole world. Two of these groups are practically in existence—North and South America, with the exception of Canada, and the other the Soviet Union and its allies. Another might be formed of the rest of Asia south of the Soviet Union, which might or might not include the Muslim world, which might want to form a regional group of its own. The group which has been discussed tonight by so many people is the Western group which would comprise, I suppose, most of the Marshall countries. It would consist, that is to say, of the British Commonwealth, the nations of Western Europe, and their dependencies, the most important of which are, of course, in Africa, with its vast resources.
I do not intend to spend any time tonight in discussing the merits of the case for a Western zone, because so many distinguished Members on both sides of the House have already given their support to this plan. It has been mentioned several times in the Debate, and, I have no doubt, will be mentioned by others. Influential support has been given to this great conception, and there is no need for me to say anything about it; but I believe that just as life has its spiritual as well as its materialistic aspects so historic traditions as well as economic conditions play their part in moulding a nation's life. I have always held, for instance, that the peoples who have inherited the great traditions of the Roman Hellenic Empire or, rather, civilisation, are joined 465 together by invisible, yet unique, bonds which link them all to the times of Caesar and Pericles. I have always hoped that that unity of Western Europe, which was destroyed by the Huns, the Goths, and the Vandals, would one day be restored. I would like to say, so that my position may be clearly understood, that Greece, the mother of Western civilisation, to whom we owe all the best we possess in our civilisation, must be a, part of the Western regional group. Greece must not be absorbed by another civilisation with which she has nothing whatever in common
Now I want to come to my central theme, which is that we ought to recognise frankly, and in the friendliest way, the existence and independence of the Eastern groups of nations—the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Yugoslavia. I do not understand why the Foreign Secretary, in praising the idea of a Western regional group, should have said that he was against a self-contained Eastern bloc. If there should be a Western group, there is no reason why we should not recognise an Eastern group, which is, in fact, already in existence. That group of peoples differs from the Western group of peoples in many ways. They have never belonged to the Roman Hellenic civilisation. In many of those peoples there is a strong touch of Asia and the East. They have a different sense of time, as one knows when listening to their interminable speeches at conferences. In the West we are rather impatient; we think of time in terms of weeks and days—those days which pass so swiftly—whereas they think in terms of centuries. Further, their economic life is now based on the Communist system, which differs from social democracy as we know it in Britain, as well as from capitalism. But possibly their system is better suited to their own economic needs and their political and social requirements.
As has been said in this Debate, these peoples, during the last two and a half years, have been going through a social revolution which, in many countries, is still proceeding. Kings, courtiers, and the military cliques which surrounded the Balkan thrones have disappeared. Great landed estates have been broken up, and a great work of rebuilding, reconstruction, and new development has been taken in 466 hand by the various Governments. Young men and women in those countries are enthusiastically taking part in that work of reconstruction, and are backing up their Governments. That is a very important matter. By a series of inter-linking commercial treaties—a great number of which have been concluded within the last few months—they are developing a system of planned economy for the whole of that part of Europe, uniting Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, and all to Russia. This link-up, it should be noted, has removed the danger of wars between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and between Roumania and Bulgaria, which, in olden days, kept the Balkans always in a state of ferment and unrest, and gave the diplomats of the great Powers many opportunities for mischief. That is something which should be remembered.
It is true—and there is no need to disguise it—that what we know here, and enjoy, as political democracy does not exist, to a great extent, in those countries. It never did; the people there have never had it. It is absurd to compare the corrupt and selfish oligarchies which existed before the war in most of those countries with the British Parliamentary system, which is the finest and freest form of government in the whole world, infinitely better than those in any other country, and has been won by ourselves through 700 years of constitutional and unconstitutional struggle, in which crowns have fallen and wealthy people and noblemen have bitten the dust.
Lord Tennyson, forgetting civil war, said that in this country… Freedom slowly broadens down From precedent to precedent.That is largely true. There was no comparable process in those countries of Eastern Europe before the war. The peoples there were little more than serfs, and were starved and enslaved between coup d'etat and coup d'etat. Politics were then largely a series of intrigues between various families and one general and another. The people brought up under these conditions, know little, and perhaps care less, for political freedom as we know it. No doubt political speakers and writers work in those countries under considerable restraint, and under a strict censorship. It may be, however, that, as 467 the danger of war or social reaction recedes, these restraints may be relaxed.
What they have, and what they cherish, is what they term "economic freedom." They say that this should precede political freedom, which is impossible without it. They are only at the beginning of this great experiment; they are laying the foundations of a new system. Upon these foundations there may be erected—who knows?—in future, a mighty civilisation, differing in many respects from ours, just as the Taj Mahal differs from Westminster Abbey, but suited to its own needs, and not unworthy of mankind.
My point is that these people should be allowed to work out their own salvation in their own way without any interference or any intervention from us or anybody else—[Interruption.] These people include the Russian people. Treaty rights or no treaty rights, it is not an act of wise statesmanship to send a continual stream of notes protesting against their methods of elections, or their Press laws, or even their political trials, especially when there is no intention of following up those protests by any action. We create the maximum irritation and and also the fear on the part of Soviet Russia that we are trying to weaken their defences in that part of the world. Although some hon. Members may disagree about that, I am confident that a great Conservative Foreign Minister like the third Marquess of Salisbury, the grandfather of the present Marquess, would agree with what I have said. That is what his policy was.
I turn to our relations with Russia. Two years ago I suggested in this House that the Prime Minister should head a peace mission to Russia to try to get a modus vivendi with Marshal Stalin. That was not accepted. A year last December, Marshal Stalin told Mr. Elliot Roosevelt that he would welcome another meeting of the Big Three, and said that he hoped there would be several such meetings. That suggestion has not been followed up either, and such a meeting has not taken place. Since then, the international situation has deteriorated still further.
I suggest that if the Prime Minister went, he should be accompanied by a strong delegation representing the finest statesmanship not only of this country but 468 of the whole Commonwealth. He will find his task far more difficult than it would have been two years ago, but although it is more difficult, I do not think it is hopeless, for the following reason. In view of the terrible devastation which Russia suffered in the last war—entire provinces were swept bare of any kind of building, house, or factory or of any semblance of human life, and 24 million people, it is said, which is equal to half the population of England, lost their lives—it must be clear that every responsible Russian leader must view the prospect of another war with the utmost horror. That is why I was glad when the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said that he did not believe it was any part of the Russian design to lead to hostilities. Although they must all view it with horror, I know that in spite of that there is a school of Russian Marxists who believe that that horror is bound to come, whether they want it or not. This is the school which believes that capitalism itself, through its own internal strains, will sooner or later be forced to attack the Communist States. Therefore, they argue, it is the duty of the Russian Government, in self-defence, first to develop any kind of weakness which they can see on the opposite side, to let everything fall into confusion if they can contribute to that, and to push the frontiers of their control ever farther westward, so that, if they can possibly manage it, there will be no base left in Europe from which an attack upon them could be launched. The influence of that school is strengthened, as was pointed out in two interesting articles which appeared in "The Times" a few weeks ago, by the fact that many Russians believe that the Western Powers are now trying to reduce Russia's sphere of influence in Europe, as they did after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and after the Congress of Berlin in 1878.
But there is another school of thought in Russia, a more realistic school in my view, which takes up a more pragmatical attitude, and as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said, the Kremlin is realistic. These leaders hope that it may be found possible for Soviet Communism and Western democracy to exist side by side in peace. They realise, too, as was suggested in the famous Communist Manifesto of 1848, that a conflict 469 between the two might possibly end in the ruin of both. These people say that if the Russian Government were certain that they would never again be attacked from the West, and that no attempts would be made to weaken that great defensive belt of Allied countries which stand on solid guard before the road to Moscow, they would wish to devote, and would gladly do so, the next 10, 15 or lo years to reconstructing their own country, to restoring their own economy and developing the vast resources of their Asiatic territory.
That seems to me to be a sensible line to take. It is the line that we ourselves would take if we were Russia. It is sometimes a good thing to put oneself in the position of a wise opponent or a wise foreigner or a wise Russian, and say, "What would I do in that position?" That is the most sensible thing for Russia to do. Is it better for her to be involved in a war in which she might be destroyed, and certainly would suffer terrific injuries, or to remain at peace and build up a territory which is not one of limited space? It is enormous far-ranging territory in which all sorts of mineral and other wealth are to be found. That is what that school of thought would do if they were sure they would never be attacked again from the West. Some [...] them also believe that by the end of that period of 10, 15 or 30 years, they would have made such a success of their own enterprise that other countries would follow their example without fear and without a fight. That is as may be.
Judging from his public utterances, Marshal Stalin himself belongs to this school of thought. Therefore, it should I our policy to prove to him that he is right in taking that line. When I said, two years ago, that the division of Europe into two parts was bound to come, and that we might as well accept it, and let it come about in a friendly atmosphere, I was told from the Front Bench that I was advocating a counsel of despair. I have been told that before. I was told I was advocating a counsel of despair when I said in 1933 that the only way to deal with the Hitler menace was to re-arm as rapidly as we possibly could. Now that this division of Europe into two parts has come, it is no good saying that we believe in the unity of Europe. There is the unity of Western Europe and the unity of 470 Eastern Europe. The division of East and West has come, but instead of coming in a friendly way, as I had hoped, it has come in an atmosphere of anger and hostility.
I think there is still time to change that atmosphere to something better. The Government ought to assure the Soviet Government, in the most formal and categorical manner, that we have no more intention of interfering with Russia or with the Soviet zone of influence—all the countries I have mentioned—or with their internal affairs than we have any intention of interfering with the internal affairs of the United States of America. As I have said on a previous occasion, just as we recognise the Monroe doctrine for the Western Hemisphere, so we should recognise an equally strong Monroe doctrine for the East. Let us tell the Soviet Government and her allies also that our only desire is to live on friendly terms with them and to trade with them as much as we possibly can, even if it is by means of barter. In return, of course, the Soviet Union and her allies would have to refrain from any interference in our sphere of influence in the West. That includes, as I said, Greece.
I am not going into that matter now, but it is not correct to say that the unhappy position there is due entirely to a Communist conspiracy from the North. It is due also to internal conditions which have been prevailing for many years and derive directly from the unfortunate intervention of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) towards the end of the war. It is to be noted that in 1944 Russia did not interfere in Greece because under the Yalta Agreement she considered that Greece came into our sphere of influence. The result of being in our sphere of influence has not been too happy for that gallant people and their fair and famous land. But that is another story.
In the improved atmosphere which would follow such an agreement with Russia, we would be in a much better position to solve the problems of Germany and Austria than we are now, because that problem can only be finally solved with the collaboration of the Soviet Union. We should also be in a better position to deal with the dangerous position in Trieste. I should also hope that things would run far more smoothly for 471 the Security Council and for the other international bodies upon which the Soviet and her allies would be represented. U.N.O. might at last work. It has never really started to work yet owing to internal troubles on the Council.
§ Mr. Cocks
I would plead with the Prime Minister to take the initiative in this matter. It may be that he will fail, as Charles James Fox failed to come `to an agreement with Napoleon. He thought he could, and that Pitt was wrong, and that he could always have made an agreement with Napoleon. But when he succeeded Pitt, he found he could not. And the Prime Minister might fail in the same way. But the attempt would be worth making, and it is possible that it might succeed. If the Prime Minister did succeed, I think we would all agree that he would go down in history with greener laurels than ever crowned a nations' leader in a victorious war.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
The theme, so far as I could follow it, of the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks) seemed to sum itself up something like this, that if only we could give an assurance to Russia that she was in no danger of attack from the Western Powers, some form of living together in peace and amity would still be fairly easily achieved. He went on to describe how the Russian conception of things divided itself into two parts: firstly, the pure Marxists doctrine which thinks that capitalism would automatically die and is in fact already half dead, and the others who think both might live in amity side by side. If, in fact, capitalism which we are accused of by Communists is a dying force, how can it have the power to attack Russia? So, therefore, from their own argument, I would imagine they were answered.
So far as the second category is concerned, I should have thought that any onlooker who has watched the forbearance and the patience of His Majesty's Government in trying to persuade Russian delegates on these conferences that we had no aim at them whatever, and even the hon. Member, would have been persuaded that something different had in fact 472 to be tried, and that that is why the Foreign Secretary outlined in the grave and sombre speech which he delivered to this House what was for the Government a considerable change of front.
I for one am glad, and I believe many hon. Members on both sides of the House will have been glad to hear creep into our considerations virtually for the first time in foreign affairs the word "commonwealth." We await with interest the plan, for today was only the promise of a plan, to see how far that integration can be consolidated and be made compatible with the other aims, that is to say, the closer integration with Europe, with which I also agree. But there is going to be very considerable and important and difficult inter-play between those two conceptions which the Foreign Secretary has it in mind to try to marry. When the famous Marshall speech was made, it was evident to all the world that it would have a profound effect upon our foreign policy. Our Foreign Secretary at once took the initiative, and the rest is history to anybody who studies international affairs at all. At this moment that plan or report is battling its way through Congress and will emerge sooner or later in a more or less bowdlerised form and will affect the 16 European nations including ourselves, and perhaps the whole world, very profoundly.
It is one of the aspects of the Marshall proposals which I should like for a few moments to examine. The 16 participating nations pledged themselves to a number of things. They pledged themselves to as much co-operation and pooling of resources as is possible. They pledged themselves to examine the possibility of a customs union. We have already heard of Benelux; now we have the talks betwen Italy and France, and other talks between Turkey and Greece and the Scandinavian countries considering proposals along the same line. A customs union may mean little or much. It may only go a short way and stop or move along the road which will eventually join it to political integration and even the merging of nationalities. But if it means anything at all it must mean that those participating nations are determined to reduce or abolish such tariffs as exist between them. That is all to the good. That is a modern conception. That is a planner's paradise. Let us admit that much of Europe today 473 is an anachronism. Just as under the pressure of economic events big units have, in order to preserve themselves, grown up in industry, so big units among the nations are being pressed for the purposes of their own security to merge themselves together, having behind them a great home consuming public and a great reservoir of manpower.
So the 16 nations whose differences in the past have been very great, who had different languages, different political conceptions and rivalries, are being urged to get together. In the past they hurled insults and occasionally armies at one another. That, we hope, is now stopped. The lion will lie down with the lamb. Throughout history that has taken place continually—Scotland with England, Germany, the United States of America and the United States of Soviet Russia. And there are those—we have heard them today—who are now starting to urge, in view of the impossibility of a European bloc, the formation of a Western European bloc.
This may lead far. It must have a good economic effect upon the world in general, for who is going to argue that the world would have been better off if the States which go to make up the United States of America had all remained separate political entities; if Illinois, for example, had had its own economy or Texas its own taxes? Will anybody solemnly aver that the world would have been better off trading with Maryland as an individual concern, or with California? Would the United States of America or the world have been better in those circumstances, or would Europe have been better off to trade independently with the canton of Berne or the canton of Geneva? Certainly, that cannot be so. The world has benefited by prosperous component parts. Prosperity is derived from strength. Therefore, customs unions which are, as the right hon. Gentleman said, strength, will advantage the world.
But, and here is a curious matter, there is one customs union in existence already which, paradoxically and illogically, seems to draw resentment and criticism from the United States. I refer to our Commonwealth, because Imperial Preference is only a half-way house to a customs union. We were urged to form a customs union by the report of the Marshall Plan. Through some form of illogical thinking, 474 the customs union among the 16 nations of Europe is extolled, but it is criticised when it exists between the Dominions and ourselves. By what logical process of thought can we be asked to create a customs union in "Marshall-land," which I should welcome, and destroy it within our own Commonwealth—to build where our differences are so great that building must be difficult, and to pull down among the Dominions and countries who share a common language, a common political thought, and who are tied by sentiment and common loyalties to the one Crown? Surely, that would be Imperial Preference in reverse. That is illogical thinking.
How can it be praiseworthy that goods should be able to pass without let or hindrance from, let us say, Maryland to New York or from Vladivostok to Moscow, and yet that it should be wrong for goods similarly to pass from Adelaide or Johannesburg to London? One group of countries are separated by land; the others by water. Is there something specially sacred in land and specially vicious in water?
The Marshall Plan calls upon all the participating countries to do all they can to put themselves on their feet. As has been said today, dependent territories are mentioned occasionally in that report but only as a sort of afterthought and side line and generally in connection with our needs. Dependent territories, in any case, cannot cover our Dominions. What can the Commonwealth contribute? I was delighted to hear today that at last the Commonwealth, and indeed the French colonies and the colonies of other participating countries, were to come into the picture. But up till now we have taken no thought of what that contribution can be. It is like a parent company having drawn up a balance sheet without having incorporated the results of its main subsidiary. From time to time we see efforts made to develop our Colonies. Thus, we have the growing of tobacco in Northern Rhodesia and the groundnut scheme in Africa. Only the other day General Smuts mentioned his production of uranium plan. But they give the impression of being spasmodic and disjointed efforts. There seems to be no correlation and integration of all those plans into one great whole.
Therefore, I urge the Government to call at once a conference of representatives from the whole of the Commonwealth, charged with two purposes—first, 475 to see how far the Commonwealth can, in fact, contribute to setting both ourselves and the European nations on their feet again and to the world recovery of prosperity. Secondly, and leading on from that, they should be asked to what extent, and how many of them, wish to adhere to a single economic unit, with as much right to trade freely within itself as have the component parts of the United States of America. There is no conflict between this and the Marshall Plan, although it makes the integration of the two rather more complicated.
One thing is certain, and that is that this country will take an imperial toss if she allows herself to be driven ever more closely into a European customs union, and, at the same time, driven away ever further from her own Commonwealth. Economics, prudence, sentiment and history all cry out against such a course. Nor, indeed, would such a step be aimed at the United States, which only recently, I understand, incorporated Alaska and Hawaii into her union. Well and good. All past statistics show that, when inter-Empire trade has been prosperous and strong, so has the trade of these nations of the Empire with outside countries. British countries, in prewar years, bought 42 per cent. of the exports of the United States. What evidence is there of our having done any damage to them? We have always bought from the U.S.A. more than we have been able to sell them.
Surely, then, the stronger and more prosperous we are in normal times, the more we shall be able to buy from the United States? Between 1932, when the Ottawa Conference virtually set up the Imperial Preference system, and the outbreak of the war, the export trade of the United States to British countries increased not only absolutely, but in proportion to the whole trade of that country.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain how we can legitimately restore preferential tariffs in the Empire against America, while, at the same time, asking America to give us things free, gratis and for nothing to tide us over our difficulties?
§ Colonel Hutchison
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman; that is what I am trying to convey. The American logic on this question is completely faulty. America is 476 asking us to go into a customs union in which there shall be no tariffs, and, at the same time, asking us not to continue preferential tariffs with our Commonwealth. They are advocating that we should abandon in the Commonwealth what they want us to set up with European countries. I must join issue with the hon. Member on that logic. I cannot see it in that light, and I cannot understand why one customs union should be good and the other one bad. The United States maintains preferences between herself and the Philippines and Cuba. I do not object to that, and, if she cared to incorporate them completely in her own union, I would not object.
Let us then see what our own Commonwealth can, in fact, contribute to world recovery. Let us see how many great development schemes could be put on foot. Some have already started in a spasmodic way. Perhaps the United States would like to take a hand in that development? When we were a great creditor nation, our surplus funds found their way into the four corners of the earth, to the great benefit of mankind. A strong Commonwealth must benefit the world in the same way as a strong United States has benefited the world. The United States would have in the Commonwealth a strong strategic partner, for in the foreseeable future, we must be partners together. We share the same thoughts and conceptions of human rights and the freedoms under which men can live, and we are both aiming at the same world prosperity. What, then, is more natural, or more logical, than that we and our related States, in whose veins so much of our blood pulses at this time, should get together and see what we can do to formulate a joint plan for our own prosperity and for the benefit of the world in general?
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Many years ago, in the days before the first world war, we used to sing with great gusto in the Socialist Sunday school:Old folks all, a word with you,What a world to bring us to,We must build the world anew,Marching all together.I am quite certain that the right hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) joined in the singing, but I am equally certain that he never contem- 477 plated, nor did any others on this side of the House when they were singing that chorus, that the Leader of the Opposition and the Tory Party would be marching along with them. I am sure that if the Durham miners saw what was going on in this House, they would realise that the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) spoke nearer to their heart's desire than the right hon. Member for Chester-le-Street.
He asked, what is it the Russians want? I will tell him. He should go to the bomb-shattered areas of the East End of London and ask the people there what they want, and what those people would tell him is what the Russians also would tell him. They want peace. Much nonsense is talked about one-party government. The logical trend of historical development is one-party government. [Laughter.] All right. Do hon. Members on this side of the House who are laughing believe that Socialism is going to be successful? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Very well, then, what will happen to the capitalists and the capitalist party? Do they mean that the Tory Party will exist when we get Socialism? When the Leader of the House, who was faced with this dilemma in his own mind, spoke the other clay, he proposed political partition in Britain. "Do not," he said, "whatever you do, get a 100 per cent. victory. The ideal thing is two-thirds Labour and one-third Tory." I know from Scriptural reading that Joshua ordered the sun and the moon to stand still, but the Leader of the Opposition goes one better. He orders historical development to stand still. What nonsense! Can hon. Members laugh at that?
I have never listened to a speech so rotten with misrepresentation and distortion as that made by the Foreign Secretary today. I am sorry I cannot go into all the details of the speech and that I have not the time to deal with the tragic situation in Greece, where the workers are battling against most terrible obstacles as the result of intervention started by the Leader of the Opposition, continued by a Labour Foreign Secretary, and now handed over to the brutal overlords of America. I will give just two typical examples of that misrepresentation and distortion. The Foreign Secretary said—it is within the memory of all of us—that Russia was organising a self- 478 contained bloc of States, and cutting them off from the rest of Europe. Let the Foreign Secretary ask the President of the Board of Trade. He has got a trade agreement with Poland. Is that cutting it off from Europe? Is it part of a self-contained bloc? He has a trade agreement with Soviet Russia. Is that "cutting off from the rest of Europe"? He is discussing a trade agreement with Yugoslavia, with Bulgaria and with Roumania; he has got a trade agreement with Czechoslovakia. Is that "cutting off" from the rest of Europe?
Was there ever such blatant misrepresentation? The only case on record where we have outside interference is in the case of Britain. It is not the case in connection with any of these countries to which the Foreign Secretary referred; they are free to negotiate with any other State. Consider this country and America. The only case of outside interference is the declaration by Mr. Marshall that he was consulted about our trade agreement with the Soviet Union and he approved of it. What would have happened had he not approved of it?
Take the case of the French strike. It was not a political strike; it was a strike on wages, and it was settled as a result of protracted negotiations on the basis of a wage increase which was a compromise on the original demand. I say this to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as well as to the Foreign Secretary: if there were a Tory government in this country, and the workers had the wages which the workers had in France, and prices were continually soaring, and there was an open, shameless black market such as there is in France, there would have been strikes in every part of this country. It is a shameful thing for the Foreign Secretary to stand there and use against the French worker the very accusations which the Leader of the Opposition and hiscrowd made against the right hon. Gentleman himself when we had the general strike in this country.
Of course, it is true that we are in a grave political situation. I would remind Members on this side of the House of what the Leader of the House said at the Labour Party conference at Bournemouth in 1946:When we went into the economic and financial smash of 1931 we did not know we were going there. We ought to have known 479 what was ahead, but we did not know because there was no proper machinery of State to tell us and when we got there we did not know fully what to do about it. If you are not prepared to go into an economic and financial smash, there is not much you can do about it. Our Tory predecessors in 1929 left no preparation behind them. The real problem of statesmanship in the field of industry and economics is to see the trouble coming and to prevent ourselves getting into the smash.I want to know if the Government foresaw and were preparing for the present relations with the Soviet Union, because just before the election the late Chancellor of the Exchequer said:I most emphatically hold that a British Labour Government is far more likely to remove these suspicions"—that is the Soviet suspicions—than a British Tory Government.When did the rift between this country and the Soviet Union begin? It began with the speech at Fulton, Missouri. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows that perfectly well and he knows that the Foreign Office, staffed as it is with Tories, followed consistently the line of Fulton, and from the speech at Fulton relations between this country and the Soviet Union have steadily deteriorated. [Laughter.] I will give hon. Members something to laugh about before long. This is no laughing matter for the people of this country. But now that we have such an obvious and close unity between the leaders of the Labour Party and the leaders of the Tory Party, I will make my appeal to the Trade Union movement, the Co-operative movement, the rank and file of the Labour movement, to the general body of the British people, who desire above all things peace and progress, unhampered by the monopoly capitalists of America, and the graft and corruption that are characteristic features of their rule. Would the Deputy Leader of the Opposition like to deny that?
The right hon. Gentleman talked so much about propaganda from Russia against us. What about the propaganda of this country? Look at the papers day after day. Consider the feeling that is being created against Mr. Molotov. We have got such a vicious prejudice created against Mr. Molotov that sooner or later every little time-server will get into line and give out the bleat, "Mr. Molotov said 'No.'" Yet Mr. Molotov has always been a fighter for the realisation 480 of the Socialist system of society. Surely, instead of being sneered at by Socialists he should be honoured. They should be proud of him because he was strong enough to stand up against the representatives of the big dollar boys. It is an indication of political degeneracy that we get Socialists lined up sneering against Molotov. I would remind the House that Mr. Molotov is in good company; because I have read about One who, 2,000 years ago, was led on to a high mountain by Mr. Marshall—I beg pardon—Satan, who showed Him all the countries of the world, and he offered Him all the dollars He could desire, if only He would serve him. What was the answer? An emphatic "No." And a continuing emphatic "No."
But let us get to the guts of this matter. We need only to refer to the appalling and grovelling speech made over the radio by the Prime Minister a few nights ago. I use the term deservedly. I have here one or two quotations from a columnist, Don Iddon of the "Daily Mail," writing from America. Here are some:Messrs. Attlee and Morrison, who usually trail at the foot of the Third Division in popular contests here, are now being promoted. Socialist theories are still anathema, of course, in this citadel of capitalism, but even the Union League Club (the American Carlton)"—hon. Members know how bad that is—is conceding that Britain's Cabinet Ministers have finally got the right idea about the Soviet. So after two and a half years of distaste and distrust from the United States, the Pinks in Whitehall and Westminster are being smiled and waved at. Wall Street is forcing itself to nod politely, and the Middle West is essaying a wink. If more affectionate gestures are required, then all the Prime Minister and his colleagues need to do is again to put the blast on the U.S.S.R. It is sure fire and cannot miss."—I would say in relation to that, "Shame a thousand times on those who have dragged the sacred name of Socialism and the scarlet banner of Socialism into the filthy mire of American capitalism."
The Prime Minister said in that radio speech that the Soviet Union was following a policy of ideological, economic and strategical imperialism. I do not know if the language expert is here, the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn); I do not think he is. However, I am sure he would agree with me that that could be called using language, 481 not to clarify, but to confuse thought. True, ideology, economic pressure or strategic manoeuvre can be used to further imperialism, but none of these things, or all of them combined, is imperialism. Imperialism is capitalism in the stage of monopoly—[Laughter.] Oh, yes; it is capitalism in the stage of monopoly, when the export of capital is absolutely essential to the maintenance of its economy. That is a definition of imperialism which will be borne out by the close and valuable study of Hobson, and I challenge anyone to give a better definition.
If we accept that definition, then Russia is ruled out as an imperialistic Power. There are no capitalists in Russia; they have no big financial houses looking round the world for rich fields of investment to bring them in dividends. Russia has no such thing. But in America at the present time there is the greatest accumulation of investment capital that has ever existed in the history of the world. I ask the Opposition: is that true or is it not true? Any Socialist must understand the simple elementary fact that investment capital cannot lie idle, but must be put to work exploiting labour. American capitalists in the past were able to invest masses of capital opening up the American continent, and they could afford to be isolationists; but the American continent can no longer absorb the capital that is now lying idle. Therefore, they have to look to Europe and Asia. That is why America has taken over the Mediterranean, the Near East, the Far East and Western Germany. Will anybody contradict me on any of this? They have taken over those areas, and Iceland, Greenland, the Aleutian Islands, and a whole host of naval, military, and air bases all round the world. That is why we have the Marshall Plan, because they have masses of capital waiting to be invested in Europe and Asia; and the cry goes out, "Down with the Communists. Open the way for the advance of American investment capital."
Where are the representatives of the City of London? [Laughter.] Listen to them. For generations London was the financial centre of the world. Is it that today? Let hon. Members opposite have a good laugh now. Is it that today? Who robbed London of that advantageous position? Was it the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Yes, Wall Street; and Wall Street spits in their faces; and even as they wipe the spittle off they cringe in cowardly subservience, because they are afraid of the working class—the only class that could give this country a new and independent life. Where is the Leader of the Opposition? How often have we seen a picture of him in a big peaked cap and reefer jacket marching up and down the quarterdeck, while the massed bands played:Rule Britannia,Britannia rule the waves"?Can he do that now? Who has told him that that music must be played no more? Was in Bulgaria, was it Yugoslavia—?
§ Mr. Gallacher
The American counterpart of the First Sea Lord declared the other day that America is now master of the seas. Can hon. Members opposite say "Rule Britannia" now? No, they cannot. Is there a Mediterranean Fleet? If there is, what use is it? America has a Mediterranean Fleet. Did the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he was over that way, ask the people of the Mediterranean countries, who are now masters of the Mediterranean? If so, did they not tell him that the American fleet and the American marines are the bosses of the Mediterranean? Is there a Far-Eastern fleet, and if so, what use is it? America and the American Navy are in full mastery of the Eastern seas. Can anyone deny that? It is to this degrading situation that this country has been brought. It has been brought to this situation by the base treachery started by the Leader of the Opposition at Fulton, Missouri. That is what has brought this country down to this grovelling position before the swollen dollar Moloch, which has become the god not only of America but of certain Governments of Europe.
What a shame it is that the Socialists should be looking to Mr. Marshall and the monopoly capitalists of America, instead of to the mass movement of the working-class in this and other countries to bring freedom to us and to Europe. I am a Communist, and I am proud of it. It is a foolish lie that Communist ideology came from Russia to this country. It is the other way round. Communist ideology 483 was to be found in this country 600 years ago in the speeches of Wat Tyler and John Ball. It was there 300 years ago in the agitation of the Levellers during the Parliamentary wars when the bourgeois in this country set a fine example to Europe by cutting off the head of one King, and soon afterwards chasing another out of the country. Hon. Members opposite are worrying now about King Michael of Roumania, but that was the example they set. When they did not like James, they brought another fellow over from Holland and sent James flying. Yes, the ideology of Communism was to be found amongst the Levellers.
There is not a revolutionary idea in existence which has not had its birth in this country. The "un-American Activities Committee" gave a poor musician from Hollywood a roasting for un-American actions. What were these activities? He was shown in a photograph being met by some young lads on a railway station and giving the clenched-fist salute. I wrote to the Committee and told them I had seen this report. I told them that if some of their members would come over to St. Stephen's Hall, which is part of the Palace of Westminster, they would see a statue of Charles James Fox giving the clenched-fist salute. It was a symbol of defiance to the tyrants of Europe, a symbol of welcome to the new America of George Washington. But I said I wondered what Fox would say if he came back and saw the freedom-destroying antics of that Committee.
The Communist ideology was there in the writings, speeches and poems of the great artist and poet, William Morris, long before there was a Soviet Russia. This has been the home of revolutionary ideas and of revolutionary struggles. So I am proud to be a Communist and I declare here that the Communist Party has no other interest than the welfare and the advancement of the working-class and the professional allies of the working-class. Only the working-class and its professional allies can save this country, can remake this country, can give this old country a new lease of life, and lead it forward to higher and better things. Not from the Opposition side, no. Death and decay is represented over there, death and damnation for this country and the people of this country. Every Socialist ought to 484 understand that. The association that has been exhibited between the Front Benches today should be a warning of what is taking place.
So I appeal to the trade unionists and co-operators, to the rank and file of the Labour movement, to the people of Britain, to gird up their strength and advance towards the great goal of Socialism, and in the process wipe out capitalism and the Tory Party that represents capitalism. Let us build up cooperation with the Soviet Union, with the progressive peoples of Europe, of Asia, of the Dominions and of America, and lay the foundations for peace and progress throughout this wearied and broken world.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), apart from saying that I enjoyed his music hall turn very much. I thought that he was a little inconsistent when he attacked American capitalism so violently and then complained because they would not trade with Russia, because his fellow traveller, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) took the opposite line. Therefore, I do not think that it is necessary for me to deal with the argument of the hon. Member for West Fife. I leave that to the right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up the Debate. If he can get any sense out of that speech, he is welcome to answer it.
The reason I intervene in this Debate is to raise a problem which the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate omitted from his speech, although I know for a fact that it is a subject which he has very much at heart—the question of displaced persons in Europe. During the last few days, there has been a very excellent summary of the situation in "The Times" from the Geneva correspondent of that paper. There is also in the Select Committee on Estimates Report on Germany some paragraphs dealing with the situation in that country. I happened to be a Member of that Committee that went to Germany, and I had the opportunity of visiting some of these displaced persons camps.
During the Recess I had an opportunity through the courtesy of the executive secretary, an American, and our own British representative on the Interna- 485 tional Refugee Organisation in Geneva, of investigating the work of that organisation at Geneva. At the outset I should like to say that I was very impressed by the work which that organisation has done in the short time in which it has functioned. The executive secretary, Mr. William Tuck, is a first-class man for the job which he has been appointed to do, and he is ably supported by our representative, Sir Arthur Rucker, who is working with him. I found that there is amicable relationship between these two men, who are doing their utmost to solve this problem.
What is the problem? Go back to the end of the war and we will find out. The Allied Armies in Europe found about 8 million homeless displaced people in Germany, Austria and Italy. Most of them were people who were brought to Germany by the Germans to work as slave labour. Some of them were people who had been driven from their own homes, and a great many of them were people in concentration camps, mostly Jews. Of that 8 million people, only about 1 million remain, and the highest praise is due to our Army and to the Americans for the way they handled that enormous body of people, most of whom have been returned to their own homes. France alone had over two million of their population as forced labour in Germany, and then there were those from Belgium and the other occupied countries. Nearly all have been restored to their homes.
There remain under one million people, mostly political D.Ps., and as there are 52 Member States in the United Nations organisation one might imagine that that is a manageable number and should be quite easily dealt with. However, that is not the case. It is true that there are 52 nations in the United Nations organisation, but of the 52 only 21 have signed the I.R.O. Convention, and of that 21 only 12 have ratified it. Only 13 nations including ourselves are paying contribution towards the funds necessary to carry out this work. The financial aspect is the crux of the whole problem. The organisation is working today on a 75 per cent. budget. Their problem is an enormous one. Those million people, the residue, are the core of the problem. Various schemes, including one by our own Government—the Westward Ho scheme—have been 486 introduced for the resettlement of these people. In a lot of cases the able-bodied young men or the cream of these camps have been taken and the relatives, generally old people and children, left behind. That is what we mean by the hard core of the problem. These are the most difficult people to settle, and resettlement is the only answer to this problem.
There is the question of maintenance, and that is where most of the money is going today. Out of £115 million in this year's budget, over £80 million has been spent on care and maintenance of these people, and only about £4 million for resettlement and about £14 million for administration.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this country has taken only about 14,000 people, and it really is not true to say that all the young men have been stripped from the camps. There are lots of them still there.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
Perhaps my hon. Friend will let me finish this part of my speech. There may be only 14,000 so far as this country is concerned, but there has been resettlement in Belgium, in South American countries, and practically all over the world. Where these people have gone, young and fit men were wanted who could work, and the young men have in many cases not taken their families.
§ Mr. Stokes
Really, the hon. Member is quite wrong there. It may be so in only a few cases, but in the majority of cases the families have gone.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I have visited these camps, and in Geneva I have seen the head of the I.L.O., from whom I have obtained facts and figures. It is no earthly use the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) denying them. I know he is an authority upon every subject, but I have facts and figures straight from the I.L.O., as well as from our own headquarters in Germany. The fact is that there are still some young people who might well be settled if they would leave their relatives, but many of them were separated for years from their families. They have found each other again in these camps and have been brought together, under rather depressing circumstances it is true. They are very reluctant to be separated again, which is quite understandable.
487 This is not a problem of party politics and I am not trying to make party capital out of it. I know that the hon. Member is very concerned about it. I am also very concerned, because I do not think that the Government have adopted a realistic attitude towards the problem. More drive will have to be put into it, otherwise the problem will be there for the rest of our lives. The longer we leave it the more difficult it becomes. Every year, 20,000 more people are born in the camps than die there. The population of the camps is increasing. People are getting older. The longer they are unemployed the more unemployable they become. The problem becomes more difficult to solve.
What approach do I suggest? Our representatives on the Preparatory Commission of the I.L.O. ought to be told to take a more realistic view of the situation. Today, although resettlement is being found for a number of people, other people are pouring into the camps. There is an infiltration all the time. Many of the newcomers may be war refugees. They may, on the other hand, just feel that they would be happier in one of our very comfortable camps—as some of the camps are—having an easy life rather than staying in their own countries and working. It is therefore essential that a target date should be instituted, after which no one should be accepted as a war refugee. The way to deal with future political refugees is another problem but we must have a time limit for war refugees. That position has not been faced. I understand that the American President has laid down the principle that anybody who says he is a refugee from any country in Europe, shall be admitted to one of these camps. That is a hopeless situation. We shall never get the problem cleared up as long as that principle obtains.
The other question concerns finance. More pressure should be put upon countries who have signed the Convention, but have not ratified it, to ratify it. The I.R.O. organisation cannot be set up until 15 countries have ratified it. So far only 12 have done so. Some countries have signified their intention to subscribe but they have not paid and they should be urged to do so in order to keep the budget up to scratch; otherwise it will be impossible to keep these camps. We have 420 of them in the British zone of Ger- 488 many, there are hundreds in the American zone and hundreds scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East. There is no hope of getting this problem dealt with unless pressure is put on from Government sources. This country and the United States are the people to take the initiative. If they adopt a realistic attitude and bring pressure to bear on the nations who have not carried out their obligations, the problem can be cleared up within two years. If it is allowed to drag on it will become a problem for all time and a permanent liability on the resources of this country and the United States.
I join with others in congratulating the Foreign Secretry on at last taking a realistic view with regard to Germany. Last time I spoke here I urged him to face realities and deal with the problem in our territory in Germany. I pointed to what was found in Germany at that time according to the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates. There was a chaotic situation economically and politically, because of a lack of decision on the part of the Allied Governments. I pointed out then that if the situation was not faced realistically soon, the Germans, who were already beginning to lose faith not only in us and the Allies but in democracy, would in all probability be driven into another camp. I am today told that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have faced that situation in some respects but I regret very much that the monetary policy which is the crux of the economic situation has still not been faced and until that is dealt with, we shall have economic and political chaos in the British zone and the Western part of Germany.
I also welcomed the right hon. Gentleman's reference to a possibility of a federation of Western Europe. I have been rather sceptical about the possibility of such a federation or of our taking part in it in the past but, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said today, I do not think it is beyond the wit of man to devise means whereby the British Commonwealth can maintain its status as a Commonwealth and, at the same time, have a link with a united Europe. That is a job for statesmen and statesmanship, and I am quite confident that it can be brought about. I was very much impressed last summer when I was invited 489 to attend a conference with that object in view at Gstaad in Switzerand. I went more as an interested onlooker than as an enthusiast, because, being a very ardent and passionate believer in the British Commonwealth and all it means, as well as Imperial Preference, I did not think it was possible for us to surrender our sovereignty to such an extent as to become part of a European federation.
However, I was impressed when I found at the conference representatives of practically every European country in large numbers. I was also much impressed with their keenness and enthusiasm for the possibility of forming a European Parliamentary union. They were drawing up a framework of the organisation, and as I was one of four British delegates, they put me on the executive. It depends entirely on what shape the policy takes. Some people go so far as to say that we have to surrender all our British sovereignty to take part in a European Federation. If so, then I am not for it, but I believe it is not beyond the wit of man to devise means whereby we can maintain our Empire status and at the same time not be cut off from Europe. Therefore, I hope this policy will be pursued, and that every step will be taken to bring Germany within that Federation should it come about.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Shawcross (Widnes)
There is one thing in the speech of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) with which I, and I feel a great many of us on this side, must agree. We must all confess that during the election campaign we assured the electorate of two important things: the first was that only a Socialist Government could maintain friendship with Soviet Russia, the second was that only a Socialist foreign policy could restore Europe and bring permanent peace. That is about the only thing I said which has been contradicted by events, but does anything else matter? Nationalisation, housing, full employment, social welfare, all these are nothing if we are steadily and may be rapidly drifting into an economic disaster of the first magnitude, or if we are heading, it may be tomorrow or in five, ten or 20 years for a third world war. If those are the prospects as I see them, what is the cause?
490 I believe the cause is mainly this: that this Socialist Government has never yet had a real Socialist foreign policy. For that reason I was profoundly disappointed and disturbed to hear the great speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. Why is that so? Because it seemed to me that he was using all those great and weighty arguments which led to one conclusion, the conclusion of a constructive idea which could be put forward by this party and adopted by all the democratic parties of Europe. But what happened? Using all those arguments to that inevitable conclusion, he then perpetrated the greatest anti-climax I have ever heard. What did he say? What did he propose? It was nothing more—and I say this with the greatest regret and at the same time with the greatest respect—than the kind of woolly generalities, the kind of vague platitudes that one might have expected from a Ramsay MacDonald at the end of his life.
Is it too late to urge the Government to draw that conclusion to which the Foreign Secretary's speech inevitably led, the conclusion to which also the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) pointed, and to ask them, even in the course of the Debate tomorrow, to produce what is in my opinion, and in the opinion of so many of my hon. Friends on this side, and so many of our colleagues in Europe and I believe, in the minds of so many hon. Members opposite, the one hope of saving the world, which means the one hope of saving this country from the economic disasters which seem so near at hand, and of saving Europe and European civilisation? But first—and here I am sure I agree with some of the observations of hon. Members opposite—ought not this Government to declare what is its attitude to the United Nations organisation? Ought it not to be made clear that that organisation, for all practical purposes, is useless? It is useless to prevent war, or, if war should come, to subdue the aggressor. In one sense is it not worse than useless, in that it lulls people into a false sense of security? The very existence of the United Nations organisation makes people think there is an effective organisation to prevent war, and it blinds them to the need for more urgent remedies.
491 I have always been a believer in the ultimate idea of world government, which was put so forcibly in one of his first speeches in this House by the Foreign Secretary, but before we get to world government at least a great body of nations, or a number of great nations, must deny the principle of sovereignty, that principle which was so foolishly maintained in the Atlantic Charter, and again in the Charter of the United Nations. That does not say that that ideal should be put away in the background; it should be kept clearly ahead. We should consider how most quickly it can be obtained, whether through a reformed United Nations organisation or, as some of us think, by an entirely new constitution dependent upon direct representation of the peoples of all countries.
I wish now to make a few remarks which may at first appear to be a digression, in reference to two countries, one of which has not been referred to in the Debate, and another which has—Spain and France. I do not know, because the Foreign Secretary did not say, whether he considers Spain as a police State, but we must recognise the importance of Spain, and the importance of bringing that great country back into the community of civilised democratic European nations. We must also realise that just as there can be no United States of Europe without Germany, so there could never be a United States of Europe paired with a modernised and civilised Africa if, lying athwart its lifeline, was a police, a Fascist, a Falangist or whatever State you like to call it. From my own observations, which may not be reliable—but I can only report the facts as I see them—in Spain at the present time there is no indication of the possibility of an internal uprising, or of the overthrow, through that, of the Franco Government.
The general conditions in Spain compare favourably with those, for example, in France and Italy at the present time, and not unfavourably with those in previous periods in Spain itself. But the strongest force which maintains the Franco Government in power is undoubtedly the fear throughout the Spanish people of Communism. If that fear could be removed, and if by the example of great nations in Europe, we could show to Spain the economic advantages she would 492 derive by adopting a democratic constitution, and show at the same time that if she remained outside a democratic Europe her present dwindling resources would become less, there would be a possible chance of some change of government brought about in that country, not by external intervention, nor by force, but by consent.
France has been referred to with great force by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), who said how important it was that we should walk in step with France. In relation to the ideal of European union, we by ourselves can do nothing. Nor can France alone create it. But together, if only we unite upon this principle, all the rest could, I believe, follow easily, if not quickly. When the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington referred to the great offer that was made in 1940—and there seemed to be some confusion between him and the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) as to who was the author of that idea—for union with France, and it was rejected by the craven and contemptible men then in power in France, it was said at the time, and I have since heard it repeated, that one of the greatest opportunities in history was thrown away by France. I do not agree with that. I believe that perhaps the great opportunity was cast away by the Coalition Government of that time, which did not maintain that idea and improve upon it as a post-war policy for the restoration of Europe. I believe that we may now perhaps be casting away a second and probably the last opportunity of the same kind. This Government may be losing one of the finest opportunities that has ever been presented to it of formulating a real constructive foreign policy to which all parties who have the essential freedoms of democracy and of European civilisation at heart could subscribe.
I would agree with the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) that it would be advantageous to summon at once an Imperial Conference to find out to what extent the British Dominions would be prepared to join in an economic union with the countries of Europe. But that in itself is not enough. This Government could now, with France, declare that it was prepared immediately to discuss 493 measures, such as a customs union, which is being discussed between Italy and France at the moment, a currency union, a dollar pool, joint development boards, and, not forthwith but as an immediate or at least ultimate object, the forming, as soon as possible, of a real political union without which there cannot be effective economic collaboration.
Here I would say a word in reference to what the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said about the proposal for a United Socialist States of Europe. He said it was impossible to place any hope or reliance on such a scheme because the necessary conditions for it did not exist. That is quite correct, but it is no reason to sneer at those Members of the Socialist parties in Europe and in this country who first propounded that idea, long before European unity was thought of as a kind of military alliance by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and proposed by him at Fulton. It still remains an ideal to which all Socialists can with a clear conscience and wholeheartedly devote their work. It does not follow that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot propose a United Conservative States of Europe, but that might possiby be an even more remote ideal than the one covered by the other name.
What we Socialists have to decide is this—and I would like my hon. Friends on this side to consider it carefully. We must not, and I do not think many of us will, reject an idea simply because it has been twisted or turned or misused by any hon. Member opposite. We may think the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition for a union, and any he may make tomorrow, are really nothing more than a mere military alliance. If so we have nothing to do with them. But it does not follow that we should not advocate a real union based on different ideals, achieved by different methods, and for different objects. Whether it is called a Union of Democracies, United States of Europe or any other name does not matter. What we Socialists have to decide is which comes first, the hen or the egg? Can we have Socialism in this country, or any country in Europe without a degree of economic and political union?
On the other hand—[Interruption]—and the hon. Members opposite who seem so amused at what I am saying may not 494 agree—because I am sure they will be incapable of understanding—no degree of effective political union in Europe is possible unless it is based on essential Socialist principles. No such union could long be maintained, or succeed, unless the degree of Socialist measures which its common government introduced and administered brought increased prosperity to all the peoples within that area.
Without some degree of economic or political union in Europe now or in the very near future, there will be no chickens and no eggs, even for hon. Members who might be able to afford to buy them at black market prices.
I am not going to be interrupted. This is far too serious an occasion for time to be wasted on small debating points, especially of the kind which I know the hon. and gallant Member opposite is likely to raise.
§ Major Beamish
This is a very short point and very important. All I want to ask the hon. Member is that in the context of what he has said he used the word "Socialism." Does he mean "Socialism" or "Marxism," because there is a very big difference?
§ Mr. Shawcross
I mean precisely what I say. That is just the kind of interruption I thought the hon. and gallant Member opposite would make, and I refuse to give way any more, because this Debate, and the subject we are discussing, in my respectful opinion, is far too serious. Member after Member, and Members on the Front Bench on both sides of the House have pointed it out. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said it would be impossible to exaggerate the seriousness of the position at the present time.
I would like, however, to say again, in answer to criticism from hon. Members opposite, or to inquiries, something about the so-called Third Force. Somebody on the other side of the House said he could not understand the Third Force and he had heard it called the "Third Weakness," and that it was all nonsense. I would like to say, and I have told my 495 Socialist colleagues so in France, that it is a mistake to base a conception of European union on a Third Force. No permanent union, no great establishment, can ever be based upon momentary fear. That is perhaps why it was better in history that the offer made in 1940, which might have been accepted in the dire extremity of that moment, was not accepted, because it might have failed, and we might never have gone on to something greater and more permanent.
But this "Third Camp" as some prefer to call it, is a third influence, as I would prefer to call it, which may, if it is not too late, prevent the division of the world into two armed camps, which division is rapidly appearing, and which will inevitably lead to a third world war. If we think of Europe and Africa and the other territories envisaged as an economic unit, an economic entity, as the Foreign Secretary so clearly and so inspiringly advocated in his great speech—leading as I said, to his dreadful anti-climax—surely anybody, even those sitting on the back benches opposite, can see what a great power that will be, and the Communists in Soviet Russia and everywhere else will consider it is useless to try by their propaganda and all the other tricks and strategisms employed at the moment to try to break down European economy and make the Marshall Plan fail. For example, they would not withhold supplies or juggle with food for political ends. Therefore, the establishment of that Third Force, of European Union, would certainly be calculated to produce the result which was mentioned by one of my hon. Friends in the letter in the "Daily Herald" this morning which has been quoted.
The Prime Minister once said that Europe must federate or perish. The late Lord Baldwin, I believe, also remarked, some time in 1937 or thereabouts, that he often dreamt of the day when the United Kingdom and the British Dominions could join with Europe in one great political and economic unity. Our Foreign Secretary himself supported this idea many years ago when few others did. He carried a resolution, as I believe he has recorded in this House, before the Trades Union Congress in favour of the federation of Europe. In the United States of America the idea has widespread support on all sides and, it may be, for a variety of reasons. I would refer to one 496 —that mentioned by Mr. Foster Dulles in a speech which he made a few days ago, when he said that it was a magnificent idea to build up an economic unity of the British Empire. It was also a magnificent idea for Great Britain to join with Europe to build a great economic unity; but to dither between the two and to do nothing was utterly base. That was his calculation, with which nobody can disagree.
I suggest that far more magnificent, and certainly at least worth trying, though it may prove to be immediately impossible at this time, is a union in which Great Britain and the British Dominions, and the States of Western Europe, the great territories in Africa, South-East Asia and elsewhere, all join. I say to the Prime Minister and the Government, "Be bold. Do not be frightened of the jeers and sneers of the little men opposite. Have the courage of your Socialist convictions."
Finally, I would like to say this, and I hope that this at least may secure some slight degree of approval from hon. Members opposite. It is often said, in relation to this situation, that the key to the restoration of Europe is the right solution of the German problem. That is only a half-truth. I believe that the heart of Europe is France and that if we recognise that we can repeat what France and Britain did, not in 1940, but in 1939. I believe that history will show that that, rather than 1940, was our greatest hour. What is not often remembered is that it was then we, and we alone, who stood up and declared war on Nazi Germany. All the other countries, great and small, America, Soviet Russia and all the rest of them, waited until they were struck. Then they fought in self-defence. It is true that France fell out later because her manhood was decimated in the first world war, but we with France stood up and fought to save civilisation in Europe. It is here in Western Europe that our civilisation was born, and only here in Western Europe can that civilisation die.
Therefore, I say most seriously, earnestly and urgently to this Government that they should make a declaration now to France that we are prepared to join with her immediately in a union and then, as soon as may be, to take the necessary steps to secure the greatest possible degree of economic and political unity in Europe. But, in making that 497 declaration, the Government must make it equally plain that that is but one step, though a very necessary first step, towards the greater goal, which is government of the world by the peoples of the world.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Shawcross), at the beginning of his speech, fell into an error which is not uncommon with hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. He fell into the error of thinking that there were, in effect, two foreign policies, a Socialist foreign, policy and the other a Conservative one. In actual fact, there is only one foreign policy which any Foreign Secretary sitting on the Front Bench can pursue at any time, and that is a British foreign policy.
The Foreign Secretary today painted a pretty grim picture of the international situation. The horizon was obscured by clouds, and most, if not all, of the clouds were bigger than a man's hand. The story he told us was the story of conference after conference breaking up without any effective decision being taken, of delay upon delay occurring in the hope that there would be a change of heart. Over most of Central and South Eastern Europe during the last 18 months or two years, we have witnessed the human freedoms, as we understand them, first of all whittled down and then openly suppressed. The climax was reached last week, when we learned from the lips of M. Dimitrov that the judicial murder of the Bulgarian Opposition leader Petkov was due not so much to the crimes which it was alleged he had committed, but to the intervention which the Allies made on his behalf in the name of justice and humanity.
It is not only the human, rights clauses in the Peace Treaties which have been openly flouted. The position of the military clauses is also far from satisfactory. Reference has already been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and others who have spoken in the Debate, to Article 12 of the Treaty with Bulgaria, which lays down that the Bulgar-Greek frontier zone should be demilitarised. We are far from satisfied that this has, in fact, been carried out. Reference has also been made to the size of the Bulgarian Army, which, according to the answer given by the Foreign Secretary just before the House 498 rose before Christmas, was considerably in excess of the 55,000 permitted by the Peace Treaty. Although the Minister of State gave a somewhat lukewarm assurance yesterday at Question time about the withdrawal of Soviet occupational forces, I must confess that I myself would feel happier about that withdrawal if I were quite certain that a number of technicians had not been left behind and were today wearing uniforms of a rather different colour from those which they wore at this time last year.
If the period from September, 1939, to May, 1940, is called the period of the "phoney war," no doubt future historians will describe the period in which we are now living as the period of the "phoney" peace, but, for Greece, the war is far too real for the word "phoney" to be applicable. Eight years ago the village, or the town, of Konitza figured prominently in the public eye when the Greek army fought against Fascist Italy. I do not suppose that that grim village or town—call it what you will—has taken on a much more inviting appearance since that date. But today it is figuring no less prominently in another no less important battle for freedom and independence. If any country deserves freedom and independence, that country is Greece. It may well be the case—I hope it will be the case—that, by the spring, the Greek army will have succeeded in rounding up the guerilla forces, or in driving them across the frontiers.
If so, what will then be the position? Will the Greek army be demobilised? Will the men be able to go home to till the soil, to rebuild the bridges, the houses or the roads? Certainly not. All that will happen, so long as the present situation is allowed to continue, is that, in three days, three weeks, or three months, according to plan, fresh guerilla forces will appear replenished with new equipment from over the frontiers, and the whole business will start all over again. As I see it, the Greeks are virtually being obliged to undertake a kind of timeless test; they are being subjected to a remorseless wearing down of the will to resist.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington reminded us, there are half a million refugees from the North deprived of work and home. In these circumstances how can any Greek Government repair the country's 499 shattered economy? I ask the House to consider how different the position might have been if the Balkan Commission had had the backing of an international force, which was envisaged as an integral part of the original set up of the Security Council. Nowhere has the weakness of the United Nations organisation been more clearly underlined than in Greece. Nowhere has the result of the misuse of the veto been more effective, and never before has any international commission had more obstacles placed in its path than those experienced by the Balkan Sub-Commission at the hands of the Soviet Union and her satellites in their investigations in Greece.
There is not the slightest advantage to be gained by refusing to face these facts. I believe that Greece is, above all, the test case for the authority of the United Nations. If that authority is indefinitely flouted, the result will be that the effective membership of the club—if I may put it like that—will fall off, just as the effective membership of any club falls off as soon as it fails to provide the facilities for which it was originally founded. I hope that tonight the Minister of State will give some indication to the House as to whether it is intended to carry out the practical suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low), namely, to seal Greece's frontiers. That is what has to be done. I very much doubt whether the Greek army is capable of carrying out this task because I think it would entail permanently mobilizing such a large army that it would place an almost impossible burden upon the Greek financial structure.
The second point to which I wish to invite the attention of the House is "to what extent have His Majesty's Government given a lead in consolidating that part of Europe which interprets freedom as we do"? My own view is that, up to the speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, they have given no lead at all. They have been pushed about by events. They have been living hitherto in a world of their own, in which Socialist Britain collects around herself all the good Socialists from all other countries, like some clucking hen, to form a bulwark against the threat of Communism on the one side or the capitalist menace on the other; and the picture which we have been invited to 500 admire is a picture of the sun rising red and menacing in the East and setting in the dark, reactionary haze of the capitalist West, with great Britain basking in the rationed warmth of a rather watery sun in the middle of the day.
I note in passing that by some curious coincidence—it is, of course, only a coincidence—His Majesty's Government did not really recognise the menace from Communism until at least a section of the trade unions was to some extent threatened from the Communists quarters. This idea that the Socialist parties all over Europe form an effective bulwark against Communism is not borne out by the facts. What happened in France? In France, strikes brought down the Ramadier Government largely because the French Socialists took such a long time to make up their minds whether or not to make a clean break with the Communists. In Italy, we see the majority Socialist Party under Nenni voting with one voice against a moderate Government whose chief crime, apparently, is support of the Marshall Plan.
Still less can it be substantiated that the Socialist parties all over Europe have given any lead either in supporting the Marshall Plan or as a bulwark against the new-found dictatorship from Moscow. During the last year there have been three international Socialist Conferences—the first at Zurich, the second at Antwerp and the third not very long ago in London. These conferences gave no lead at all. They simply revealed the division between the Socialists from the Western group and the Socialists from the Eastern group, although I believe at the London Conference the Western group did suggest that at some future date, in March I think, an international Socialist Conference should be called to discuss the Marshall Plan. If this is the new dynamic policy which the Lord President of the Council announced the other day, I can only say that the dynamite must be at the end of a very long fuse.
In my view, it is equally unwise to pretend that we are the bridge between rival ideologies, holding the balance. We can only hold the balance between two equal weights if we have our shoulders muscled up and ready to take the strain. In any case, a bridge is apt to be trampled on and crossed by a great many vehicles and feet. We are heavily mort- 501 gaged to one of the weights which we are said to hold in the balance. We derive a greater part of the means by which we feed from that weight. Further, we are certainly not half way—or I hope we are not—between the freedom of conscience as enjoyed in the United States and the very negation of that freedom as practised behind the iron curtain.
The truth is that British foreign policy must inevitably be a long-term and not a short-term policy and, for that very reason, the sooner we recover our own economic strength the sooner we can exercise once more our rightful position as the leading Power in Europe. Although the Foreign Secretary's heart is unquestionably in the right place, the fact remains that he can only play the cards that are dealt to him by his colleagues and, of course, the cards are dealt to him face upwards on the table and, I suppose, left-handed. Which of these colleagues deals the hand which he can play at the Conferences where he represents His Majesty's Government and, indeed, Britain in the councils of the nations? There are a number of them. There is the Minister of Supply; there is the Minister of Fuel and Power; above all, there is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As I said—and the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to recognise it—hitherto the hand he has been dealt has contained no aces, certainly no jokers and very few high cards. All over Europe and all over the Near East our friends are looking to us for a lead. They believe that Western civilisation—which incidentally is Christian civilisation—can be saved if Great Britain and America act in co-operation while there is still time.
I recently had the opportunity of paying a visit to Turkey with a Parliamentary delegation composed of hon. Members from all parts of the House. The Turks expressed this same view. Although their attitude towards this country is to some extent coloured by events in Palestine—because while they do not wish to under-estimate our difficulties with the Jews, they cannot participate in a policy which is inimical to the Arab States—they showed an intense anxiety that we should speedily emerge from our economic difficulties in a healthy state in order to fulfil our obligations as a world Power. Being the 502 realists that they are, they also appreciate that we can fulfil our obligations as a world Power only if we are really strong.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
It is therefore the responsibility of His Majesty's Government to prove to the world that the citadel of democracy and of freedom still lies within the shores of these Islands, and that we are not unmindful of the responsibility for its safe-keeping.
§ 10.7 p.m.
The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil)
I should be less than grateful if I did not admit that the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) is normally understanding and generous in questioning me; but I feel that I have to say on behalf of the Government that it ill becomes any Member of His Majesty's Opposition to get up and tell this Government that we have no foreign policy and that we have been pushed around by events. The hon. Gentleman agreed that our position was greatly dictated by the cards dealt to the Foreign Secretary. Not all the cards were dealt to him by his colleagues. Many of the cards with which we had to contend were cards bequeathed to us by that previous Government which led us into war.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Is the right hon. Gentleman talking about the Government of which the Foreign Secretary was a member as Minister of Labour?
No, indeed I am not. I am talking about the Conservative Government which led us into this war from which we have just escaped.
I cannot imagine what the debate is about. That is beyond argument. While I am usually prepared to be as noncontroversial as possible on this subject, if the Opposition want to challenge a fight upon this subject they can have it at any time.
Many of the difficulties with which His Majesty's Government are contending are difficulties which this country need not have had if the Governments before this had been of a different character.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
If the right hon. Gentleman's own party had faced up to the situation before the last war and voted for the re-armament programme, they would now be in a greatly stronger position.
I did not need to be here to follow the conduct of this House, or to understand the principles or the motivation of my party, and upon that subject we can stand examination and debate at any time.
It is not true that His Majesty's Government or the Foreign Secretary have allowed events to push them around. Whenever opportunity has offered itself, this Government and my right hon. Friend have seized the initiative. I need not labour the point that the Paris Conference was convened on the joint initiative of M. Bidault and my right hon. Friend; I need not labour the point that the proposals offered by Mr. Marshall have been made flesh from that initiative. I should also like to add that, although there may have been little publicity since the Paris Conference was convened, His Majesty's Government have played their part in pushing forward the consequences of that Conference.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) asked me a number of questions in that connection. He asked, first, whether we were in close contact with the Benelux countries in connection with our commercial relationships. The answer is that we are in close and frequent contact with both the Belgian and Dutch Governments on this subject. We have just had a Belgian delegation here in London, and we are about to resume conversations with a Dutch trade and finance delegation; while, in addition, as 504 I understand it, these two Governments have kept in close touch with each other on this subject and in their relationships to us. Several hon. Members referred to the Benelux arrangement. Like all of us, they welcomed it; but it is proper that we should not expect too much, nor overestimate exactly what the arrangement is.
It has come into force in the sense that it is a tariff union. More may come of it, but that is all it is at the present moment. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington also asked me about the French-Italian conversations on a possible customs union, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Shawcross). It is true that those two Governments have had delegations discussing this subject in, I think, Rome; and it is also true, as I understand it, that the delegations have returned to their respective Governments interim reports of a generally favourable character. We have not been associated bilaterally in any discussions on customs unions because, as the House will understand, at the Paris Conference it was decided to set up a study group to deal with the subject of a European customs union. Some meetings have already taken place, at which I understand our delegation has played a full part. The study group is to reassemble in Brussels early in February, but more than that I cannot say at this stage because their work is incomplete.
The right hon. Member and the hon. Member for Windsor asked me various questions about treaty implementation. I quite agree that I have not been able to give very precise answers in reply to Questions. Today, I was asked about the Danube Conference, and about the demilitarised zones of the Bulgarian frontier. Also, various references were made to the human rights clauses. With the permission of the House, I would seek to escape from making any decisive statements on implementation just now. I am not in a position to do so, and the subject is delicate.
When we secured these clauses, we were not looking for political victories. By these clauses we sought to benefit the people of the various countries affected by them. The question of their implementation is of great delicacy. I have been trying to group together the various clauses in the three treaties which require 505 implementation, with the Danube and human rights clauses as examples. What we would, of course, hope is that the signatories would honourably offer to implement these clauses, but if this is lacking, we must still make our first concern the people whom we sought to benefit by them. We have, therefore, been giving considerable thought to the best method of approach to the whole question, and our studies are well advanced. I do not want to promise too much from the studies, and I would prefer to leave it by saying that when these studies are completed, my right hon. Friend will report to the House upon the broad question of implementation.
There is one other category about which I have had specific questions put, and that is the clause governing the military strengths. We have already given answers to the House covering the forces of Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary, respectively. These are estimates, based on the best information available. The Hungarian and Roumanian figures are, in our judgment, approximately in conformity with the limits laid down in the respective treaties. The Bulgarian figures, however, I have to admit are unsatisfactory, particularly in relation to the irregular forces. It is true that under the treaty there are rights to verify these figures, but, in the terms of the general answer I have given about implementation, the House will, perhaps, wait to hear my right hon. Friend when we have completed our studies, because I cannot truthfully give an answer which will ad vance the subject at this point.
I thought that I had already indicated that. I am not seeking to escape an answer, but asking to be excused from giving an answer which would be incomplete, or might prejudice or jeopardise any possible action we can take. I promise that my right hon. Friend will report to the House when we have something more definite and final to say on this subject.
506 In addition to the broad outline of the German situation which was given by my right hon. Friend, I have been asked several questions, all of which are important. Anxiety was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that France has not been too closely associated in the development of the Frankfurt Agreement. It is quite plain that no one will ever find my right hon. Friend, or this Government, lacking in an understanding of the legitimate French anxieties on all aspects of German policy. In the case of the Frankfurt Agreement, this was an arrangement which had to be made quickly in order to try to improve the emergency conditions inside Germany. The Agreement was primarily economic and administrative in character, and was certainly not meant as a major political decision. However, the House should know that, while I agree that in this instance there has been complaint from Paris, there is real hope that we shall soon reach a type of agreement which will make criticism of this kind impossible in future. We have fixed a tripartite meeting between the United States, the French and ourselves. It is to be held in London about the middle of next month, and only the exact date has still to be fixed. We all hope that from this meeting may emerge a fuller and wider partnership, not only in relation to Germany.
In relation to Germany, it has also been urged that we must give the Ruhr a chance to live. That, of course, has been the primary objective in our policy from the beginning. It has also been said—and I know that here I shall have wholehearted support from the Government Benches—that we ought to consider the possibility of an international regime for the Ruhr. There are many difficulties here, mainly of an operative kind, but the House can be assured that it is an idea to which my right hon. Friend is sympathetic and one which will be given the fullest examination by His Majesty's Government.
It was also said that production is being impaired, first, by our dismantling programme, and, secondly, by currency difficulties. I would not accept—and the authorities would not accept—the suggestion that we can double production just by tackling these two points; but let me deal with them. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that no dismantling is 507 permitted, except of plant which is surplus to the permitted global potential of the joint zone. Indeed, I can go further than that and assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is much more plant available than there is manpower, material and coal to operate it.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
Has the final list been settled of the plant that is definitely to be removed or dismantled, because until that list is finalised there will be uncertainty in the minds of many as to the position? By this time, the list should be ready. It should be a final list, and they should be told exactly the position.
Because a great deal of work has had to be done on it, but it will be, in the very near future, completed. However, I would not suggest for a second, and I do not think that it will be contended, while I admit that there has been this uncertainty, that that has been the major cause of retarding production. I know that the right hon. Gentleman very carefully protected himself by not offering his opinion.
On currency, however, I agree with the best advice available to us, that this is a much more important factor, operating much more widely. The present bad currency affects the whole economic life of the country, leading, among other things, to hoarding, black marketeering and impairment of production. Hitherto, all our efforts to deal with this problem on a quadripartite basis have met with failure. It is our considered view that it is impossible to accept continued postponement of reform which is fundamental to the whole German economy. There is a plan before the Control Council in Berlin, and I believe it is due to be dealt with on 30th January. As a result of these discussions on the currency reform plan we will know where we stand, and the way will be cleared for the urgent decisions which the House can be assured we will take.
508 The other important factor of production is food. Today the Economic Council at Frankfurt has been discussing this subject. An announcement on the ration scale for the period beginning 2nd February will be made very shortly, and I think will show an improvement. Our general experience is that production, particularly in heavy industries like coal, moves almost exactly in ratio to the food. Since the Debate started I have been told on the telephone that the Germans themselves have accepted a very improved principle upon which they are to be congratulated, and that is, they are going to impose a system of different scales of rations for the urban areas of Hamburg and the Ruhr and for the country areas where the people have better access to the food. The industrial areas will be guaranteed a higher scale and I do not know exactly what the difference will be. It may be 100 or 150 calories lower in the country areas, where we can expect the people to have access to some kind of indigenous food. This will not relieve the two Governments from the efforts that are being made just now to improve the imported food position.
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). We all know that regulations are laid down, but in a country area where food is grown people are bound to retain some of it. It is the Germans themselves who accepted this principle.
It might be appropriate here to make a passing reference to the "M" Plan, and to say that my right hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary and myself have been considering, so as to meet the very real interest in this matter, placing a photostatic copy of this document in the Library, and subject to the proviso that there is no real security risk we will do so.
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) launched a full-scale attack against the Marshall Plan, in which he was supported by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). In all these attacks there is just one simple question which I should like to put to the attackers and that is Do they say without reservation that they do not want to share in the benefits of the Marshall proposals at all? Will they say that in Fifeshire 509 and Gateshead before their constituents? The picture that the hon. Member for West Fife drew of some militant American bashing his way into the various capitals of Europe and forcing the people to accept dollar credits, dollar food, dollar tobacco and dollar petrol is, of course, quite ludicrous.
Whatever conditions may be attached—and allegations about some of the conditions are quite without foundation—whatever conditions may eventually be attached, no one is compelled to come into the scheme or accept its aim. I should, however, like to make reference to the condition to which the hon. Member for Gateshead alluded. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made it plain that the suggestion that the cut in shipbuilding is being imposed as part of the Marshall aid plan is quite without foundation and the hon. Member for Gateshead is much too intelligent to have missed that reply or to be at all deceived as to how the suggestion arose. It came from the Harriman Committee and is not a condition attached to the Marshal Plan.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? I never suggested that. I pointed out that the Marshall Plan introduced the proposal that we should cut shipbuilding.
Well, indeed it does not; but, at any rate, so long as it is plain in the hon. Gentleman's mind that the Government's activity in this respect is not being dictated from abroad, then that is satisfactory, but it is very difficult to understand why he should drag this point into his speech.
Another point put to me by the hon. Member for Gateshead was about the R.A.F. personnel we are retaining in Greece. There was here the inference that this was a fighting unit being kept in use at the dictates of Washington. That was quite plainly the inference given in the context of the hon. Gentleman's long argument. The truth is, of course, that this is not a fighting unit at all. Outside our training Mission we have no R.A.F. men of that character in Greece. This is a communications squadron and it is the only dependable method of communications which we have between 510 Athens and Salonika. It has no other function, and I make that plain on behalf of the Government.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why the squadron's leave to go home was cancelled? Why were plans put through to go home and suddenly cancelled as they were having a farewell dinner?
I expect the reply—but I do not offer this officially—is the obvious one that the relief had not come through.
They are not fighting men. The hon. Member for Gateshead also lashed himself into a fury about the United Nations Charter and the United Nations machinery. He asked whether we were prepared to base our policy on this, and he inferred that we should do so because the Soviet so based their foreign policy. But it is very relevant to remind the House here that this is precisely a place where the Soviet Government and where three associated Governments of the Soviet have refused to accept the ruling of the United Nations at all.
Again, I am certain that the hon. Gentleman is such a good and convinced student of international literature, which for long enough was his professional job, that he has read the two reports from the United Nations Commission on this subject. But he makes no reference to the fact that these two reports, from independently appointed people, made to the Committee and to the Assembly of the United Nations and debated most fully—and they have not been refuted—showed that, wherever the rebels did come from, they were receiving assistance from outside the borders of Greece. If United Nations policy is to be applied in Greece—and His Majesty's Government have always supported application of its policy in Greece and elsewhere—then all the signatories to the Charter, or members of the organisation, should at this moment be helping the servants of the United Nations in Greece. If those servants had such assistance, it would be quite idle to pretend that their job would be easily discharged: it would be as nonsensical as to pretend that there are two clear black and white camps in Greece, a pretence which the Government has never attempted. 511 But if the servants of the United Nations had such assistance their job would, for the first time, have been advanced in a systematic fashion, and a degree of peace and security would have been afforded to those 500,000 refugees to whom the hon. Gentleman referred.
The great weakness of the hon. Gentleman's speech was that he started with a very great peroration. It was a most excellent peroration with which he began. He told us that if we were to perfect our foreign policy, then we should seek an understanding with the Soviet administration. He then went on to occupy the rest of his time illustrating a dispute between a gentleman called Mr. X and a journalist called Mr. Walter Lippman; and before he had answered the question which he had addressed to the House in his peroration, either he exhausted himself, or perhaps he exhausted the patience of the Chair. At any rate, we did not have the question answered.
If the hon. Gentleman is going to further his subject, and if he is going to help His Majesty's Government with its difficulties, then that is the question which must be answered—"how can the relationships, not only between the Soviet Government and this Government, but between the Soviet and almost all other elected and representative Governments in the world, be improved?" That is the question which the House has been asking itself in various ways and in various areas—in Germany, in France, in Italy, in Greece—this afternoon. That is undoubtedly the question which ordinary men and women throughout the length and breadth of Europe are asking themselves this evening, and every evening.
What is the Soviet foreign policy? What is their purpose with us? What kind of people do they consider that we are? How do they interpret the statements of our policy, and the actions we offer in corroboration of those statements? For example, are we warmongers? I have not dealt at any length with United Nations proceedings because other questions were raised; but I would not agree with the suggestion which has been made, that the United Nations has been completely unsuccessful. It is a confusion of ideas to think that it was ever offered as a method of bringing a dispute between two great Powers to an end. In 512 a limited way the United Nations has had its successes, the latest being Indonesia. It had one in Persia. When the hon. Member for West Fife tells us that the Soviet Government never seeks to exploit or develop, he might tell us what Soviet forces were doing in Persia. Not that I necessarily would think that was a criticism of the Soviet Government. But there is a limited range of United Nations successes. If Governments would proceed as I hope and believe our own Government does, and admit the comparative weakness of this young organisation instead of heaping huge tasks upon it, we might see further successes.
But, Sir, at Lake Success, from the first day almost to the last, we found ourselves pursued with the cry that the United States and ourselves were warmongers, and this cry is still pursued in the Soviet Press. There may be some good internal reasons for such a gross misapplication of words, but in the outside world there can be no understanding of them. Anybody can tell this tale. What are the facts? There can be no comparison between the aggressive potentialities of this country and those of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has under arms just now some four million men—not an inconsiderable number as one hon. Member indicated—and considerable numbers are distributed throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The air force has some half-million men manning some fifty thousand aircraft, and the navy with about the same number of men, has about two hundred submarines.
Contrast these figures with the figures for the United Kingdom. Our Armed Forces, which reached a peak of about four and a half million during the war, have been reduced, as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence have shown, to about one million. The Royal Navy, which totalled some eight hundred thousand personnel in war time, numbers today about one hundred and fifty thousand. The Army, by a rapid process of demobilisation, has discharged and released about three million men since 1945 and is now about half a million strong. The Royal Air Force has about two hundred and fifty thousand. If facts like these are to be made available to all people, then there can be no charge that we are warmongers, or monopolistic or Capitalistic or imperialistic exploiters, 513 as we have been told that we are during tonight's discussion.
I am not suggesting that we are at the stage of competitive rearmament. In New York we have had repeated obstruction from the Soviet delegations. The delegations of France and the United States and, I am glad to say, of Great Britain, have sought to find a way round it, and there is still a hope that we may keep this work alive. What limited arrangements, in a military sense, we make, are quite clearly shown to be defensive arrangements of the most unambitious and frugal kind, of a completely nonthreatening nature; but, although, as I have said, we are not in any danger of competitive rearmament at the moment, it is, nevertheless, understandable that the people of the Western world, which has twice been so savagely battered and impoverished for taking the burden of the assault of tyranny, should feel anxiety at the tension of the present time. But we are still free from an armaments race. It is healthy that there is this anxiety, because, twice in this century, we have drifted into war because the constitution of a democratic people makes it almost impossible for them to start a defensive war. Their history and feelings make them shrink, not in terror, but in horror, from the barbarities we normally associate with war. So, Mr. Speaker, this is a matter, not for complaint but for satisfaction, to discern the anxiety which our peoples throughout the Western world are displaying about the deterioration in international relationships.
In this situation what they most want, and what must be primarily applied to remedy this situation, is a clarification of Soviet policy and Soviet intentions outside their own borders. No study of speeches, no study of Communist doctrine, no private conversations, apparently, can be taken at their face value when we are up against this problem. None of them give us any indication of Soviet policy. They are conflicting. They are inconsistent. By quotations one could show inconsistency and contradiction again and again. One of my hon. Friends referred to the report by Mr. Elliott Roosevelt of his interview with Generalissimo Stalin on 21st December, 1946. I will not bore the House with it, since Members have already heard it before, but confine myself to repeating Stalin's concluding words. Stalin said 514I do not doubt that the possibilities of peaceful collaboration will not only not decrease, but may even increase.Sir, you can put against that statement dozens saying almost exactly the opposite.
Yes, but I was referring to the fact that Mr. Elliott Roosevelt had been given an interview and that Generalissimo Stalin had declared, as other representatives of his Government have declared, that there was no conflict necessarily arising from the differing ideologies of the countries. But on the other side, as I have already said, one can find quotations saying exactly the opposite. Generalissimo Stalin again and again tells us, as we in this party probably know, that his direction, deduction and methods of thinking are based on Lenin and his teaching. In 1924, and again a year before the war, and after the signing of the German treaty, and in another recent declaration after the establishment of the Cominform, Stalin insisted that in that context:We are living not merely in one state hut in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republics side by side with imperialistic States for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. Before that end intervenes a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Union and the bourgeois States will be inevitable.One can find further contradictions in statements by Mr. Molotov and statements by Mr. Vyshinski. But none of these really worry me—not even the inconsistencies between the teaching of Lenin and the speeches of Generalissimo Stalin. What worries everyone is the inconsistencies between Generalissimo Stalin and Generalissimo Stalin. As my right hon. Friend said, probably there will be an outcry, another blare of propaganda following his statement, and this Debate. But the outcome of this Debate, this association upon which we are entering, has not been built up by anyone else except Generalissimo Stalin. He is the architect of any coalition which forms against him; and it is difficult to see where the coalition will end, unless there is an explanation, not only in words but in deeds, as to which of the two declared Soviet policies the present Soviet administration is following out.
515 I was very tempted to go back and quote from the Atlantic Charter, Articles 3, 4 and 5, where the rights of governments, where the rights particularly of small peoples, where sovereignty, where territorial integrity, are all guaranteed by this country and also by Generalissimo Stalin. That statement is still the policy of His Majesty's Government. Nothing will cause us to deviate from it, but of course, our task would be made much easier, and all over the world hopes would be raised, and there would be a new turn of effort, a new development would be possible, if we knew that the Soviet Government's policy was still the same.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Would the right hon. Gentleman excuse me? Does he want to impress on me and this House, and the people generally, that he gets on all right with the Tory capitalists of America, but he cannot get on with the Socialists of the Socialist Union?
I do not want to impress the hon. Gentleman with that at all. It is the other thing which I want to impress on him. We cannot do it; we try to do it everywhere. I noticed that the "Daily Worker" said a fortnight ago that their correspondent looking over the Gallery had never seen the Attorney-General, myself or any other member of the British Delegation to the United Nations conferring with the Soviet Delegation, but always with the American. That is not true. I had a fierce letter chiding me for a photograph showing me talking and smiling with Mr. Vyshinski. We were available any time they wanted us. We made repeated approaches to them, and there is nothing we want more than to get on with them. But what is social affability if we still do not know the policy?
No one pretends that the policy of the right hon. Gentleman is the best policy. P is not the policy we would have chosen. We were chided for not having made sooner the decision on our future policy, and for not having started sooner on this work of building up a Western association. It is true we took risks, but this Government will always be prepared to take the risks for peace that one would take for war provided that we do not barter our liberties or betray our principles. We have delayed, and we would 516 still delay if we could get understanding and clarity.
The hon. gentleman the Member for Widnes (Mr. Shawcross) complained about the smallness of our action. That is a dangerous and wrong way to look at it. It is a complex matter, developing these associations, and it will be better, in the words of the familiar cliche, to "build soundly by building slowly" and not on too little. We are not resting simply on this one political step. The consequence of the Paris Conference and the consequences of the Marshall aid, if and when it does come, will be manifold, and we are planning already for some of them.
Much of the association will not rest exclusively upon the physical understandings or the political understandings on the quid pro quo which we may expect inside a treaty or commercial arrangements which will develop. Much of the understanding will develop on the plane to which my right hon. Friend alluded, on the plane to which the Prime Minister in his broadcast alluded when he said that we had a philosophy in our own right. It is this distinctive Western European characteristic, discernible in our laws, in our governments, in our churches, in our social institutions, which gives hope that there can be a successful attempt to build an association which will circumvent the political difficulties frequently experienced in treaty-making and the commercial difficulties everyone meets whenever he considers the economic systems of countries that were not designed to be complementary.
There is a great area of the world where our common characteristics are accepted as the hallmark of trust and the platform upon which understanding can be developed. I wonder if the hon. Gentleman who sneered at the United States will look at the document presented by Congress and see there the admission that the Socialist parties of Western Europe are the parties which are distinguished for their concentration upon the rights of the individual and their democratic practices. I hope everyone will remember that in each of the territories of our Commonwealth from their foundations these same ideas are found, rich and profound, and I believe that it is this spiritual and cultural basis which makes the beginning which we have announced today more important than anyone dreams. Perhaps this is a time when very small events 517 throw a long shadow. That can be true of the good events as well as of the bad events.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
Might I ask a question about my right hon Friend's statement about steel in the Marshall Plan? I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after he made a statement about cuts in steel, was particularly questioned on the cuts affecting shipbuilding. He was asked by a journalist whether they were in conformity with the Marshall Plan and he did not think they were, thereby implying that there were some conditions dealing with shipping so far as steel is concerned.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said plainly that the activities of the Government were quite uninfluenced by those conditions. In any case, we are not yet at the stage where there are actual conditions.
§ It being Eleven o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed without Question put.