§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. William Whiteley.]
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, before the Debate starts, may I ask the Patronage Secretary, in view of the fact that three of the Front Bench speeches last night took three hours and 40 minutes, whether it is not possible to extend the time today? The whole of the extra hour granted to the House was taken up by the speech of the Minister of State. That was most unusual.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley)
Friday is not a very easy day on which to suspend the Rule because people catching trains leave at about four o'clock. That is one of the reasons we do not do so.
§ 11.6 a.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Brentford and Chiswick)
Perhaps, first of all, I ought to apologise to those hon. Members who were expecting at this time to hear the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), and are going to hear me instead.
A great number of hon. Members will have been gratified by the warm welcome which has been given in many parts of the world to the speech by the Foreign Secretary. I believe that a big step towards economic and political consolidation in Western Europe is not only inevitable, but very desirable. I believe that, in the long run, making Western 530 Europe work is the only way of getting a better relationship between East and West. I hope at the same time that it is going to be made clear that this is not an exclusive arrangement, and that we shall continue our efforts, despite very extensive political difficulties, to get trade agreements between East and West. I believe that Europe cannot permanently survive if there is not only a political, but an economic iron curtain splitting the continent in two.
I want to refer particularly to that part of my right hon. Friend's speech which dealt with Greece. I believe that the tragic situation in that country is probably the most urgent specific international problem facing us today. I am afraid that any delay in settling it would expose this country and the peace of the world to incalculable dangers. I also feel that, because of their heroism and loyalty to us in the early stages of the war, and because of our responsibility for many of the things which have happened since then in Greece, the British Government still have a very big moral responsibility towards the Greek people.
I know that those who follow the Communist Party's line in international affairs will certainly seek to attack and discredit my views on Greece. I think therefore that I ought to say that I am one of those people who believe that no real social or economic progress is possible without political freedom. I also believe that the converse is true, and that is why I am a member of the Labour Party, and a democratic Socialist. I recognise a fundamental difference between our objectives and motives and those of the Communist Party. I do not admit that the dictatorship of the proletariat, or any other dictatorship is compatible with true democracy. Nor do I admit that the so-called new regimes in Eastern Europe, in Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, for example—who today claim they lead the world in democratic practice—can sustain that claim for one moment. They may have other achievements to their credit, but democratic practice is not one of them. I think—particularly in view of recent events in the Bulgarian Parliament, and after the brutal reprisals in various other places practised against democratic Socialists like ourselves on this side of the House—the less said from these quarters about democracy and freedom, 531 when discussing the case of Greece, the better for all concerned.
I have never believed that the extreme Right can be an effective weapon against the extreme Left. I have always thought that dictatorship breeds dictatorship, violence breeds violence and oppression breeds oppression. That is one of the reasons I have so often urged my right hon. Friend to press for action against the Right Wing dictatorship in Spain. It is also the reason why, in the past, I have often hoped that he would be able to bring pressure to bear on earlier Greek Governments to moderate some of their unwise actions, not only against Communists, but against their other political opponents. The situation in which those things took place has now fundamentally changed, as I hope to show a little later.
At this stage, I think I ought also to say that I believe, with His Majesty's Government, that the United Nations can and must be made to work if there is to be any real hope of preventing a third world war. I was profoundly depressed by a number of references in this House during the Debate yesterday to the work and progress of the United Nations. It is true that a good deal has been done on the practical side. On the political side, the aspect is very grim indeed at present. It is regrettable that all the big international disputes with which the United Nations have been called upon to deal have reflected the growing cleavage between Soviet Russia and the Western Powers. That is probably inevitable at the moment, but I believe that, in the long run, the only hope of a general reconciliation between the East and the West lies in making the United Nations a respected and effective force in international affairs. I believe that can still be done. But the United Nations must be used. Decisions which are democratically taken by them must be implemented uncomprisingly and without delay.
Today there is very little time to lose. The prestige of the United Nations has suffered very severely in recent months and, with that, a new disillusionment is growing up, so that I believe that 1948 will probably be the turning point in its work. In this year the United Nations will either finally establish itself as an over-riding factor in international affairs, or it will finally fail. That choice depends 532 to a very large extent, on the action that is taken with regard to Greece. Greece has become the political problem No. 1 facing the United Nations in 1948.
There is still a tendency in this country for Greece as an international problem to be overshadowed, in the minds of some people, by internal Greek political dissensions. That is one of the great advantages, from the Communist point of view, in selecting Greece as victim for the first big postwar experiment in Communist aggression. I consider that the policy of British Governments during and since the war has sometimes been at fault, and I have said so in this House. I also think that earlier Greek Governments, under the strain of bitterness and hatred caused by the fighting in 1944, have in the past adopted unwise repressive policies which wronged many democrats and which helped the Communists in their task of recruiting, and gave them valuable ammunition for their propaganda.
But, for all that, I will not be misled, as the Communists would like to mislead me, into thinking that past mistakes by the Government of this country or the Government of Greece, can disguise the real character of Communist intentions in the Balkans, as they have developed in recent months. Today I think the Greek problem has many of the features of the Spanish civil war. Those who now press for non-intervention do so for very similar reasons. They know that, without foreign help, the Greek guerillas could not maintain themselves for a fort-night. They know that the Greek guerilla movement represents only a small minority which is determined to overthrow a legally constituted Government—a Government which many of us may have disliked in the past and may still dislike today, but a legally constituted Government for all that—by force, with foreign help, and to put a foreign-inspired dictatorship in its place.
That is why there is now absolute division inside Greece between Communists and non-Communists. That is also why the Soviet Government, and those associated with them, have constantly obstructed, delayed and misled the first United Nations Commission which went out to investigate in Greece. That is why they have boycotted the second United Nations Commission which is in that country at the moment. 533 That is why the Soviet Government, and those associated with them, are now pressing for non-intervention on the part of the Western Powers.
Nevertheless, despite the slowness of the British and American and other United Nations Governments in acting, the Communist aggression against Greece has not gone at all according to plan. The so-called "government" of the guerillas was indeed a pathetic attempt to give an aspect of popular backing to the guerilla movement. The effort to capture a capital for that "government" was a complete military failure. Despite the very great material help which came from across the Greek frontiers, and every kind of facility being given to the Greek guerillas, the Greek Army beat them back with a spirit which recalled their campaign against the Italian invaders in 1940 and 1941.
It is sometimes asked in this country, how it is that the guerillas, if indeed they are only a small minority, as I believe and know them to be, have for so so long been able to maintain themselves against superior forces of Greek troops. The report of the United Nations Commission shows clearly that their relative success is very largely the result of aid and assistance of many kinds from the Governments of Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. The fact that it is only along Greece's northern frontiers that the guerillas can maintain anything like a constant pressure bears this out. There are other reasons, in addition. As anybody knows who visited that country during the war, Greece is an impossible country in which to fight against guerilla tactics. Until very recently, the Greek Army itself has been quite inadequately equipped for that kind of warfare. Lately, the situation has improved, but not before a great deal of war material, including mountain guns, had been made avaliable to the guerilla forces.
There is another factor which must be mentioned. We have heard a great deal about atrocities in Greece in recent months. Friends of the Communists have made a good deal of unscrupulous propaganda out of these atrocity stories. It ought to be said quite clearly in this House that whatever reprisals there have been against Communists or others—and I have been the first to protest about them when they took place—they are as nothing compared with the callous and 534 deliberate policy of terrorisation adopted by the guerilla leaders. Brutal atrocities, forced recruiting, a policy of implicating new recruits by compelling them to commit barbarous crimes, has become a regular routine of the guerilla army. I know something about these things from direct experience. That is why, in many areas, the population is so overcome by terror that they fear co-operation with the Greek Army, because of possible reprisals, more than they fear helping the guerillas.
The determination to fight to the end, which I think is shared by the great majority in Greece, has been increased lately by the intensification of the Communist activity centring round the Com-inform. It has also been stiffened by the growing realisation that behind the intervention of Greece's northern neighbours lies, possibly, an important territorial motive. Defeated Bulgaria still shamelessly repeats the claim that she ought to be given back Greek Thrace, that part of Greek territory which was her reward during the war for helping the Axis. Though Yugoslavia has been a little less vocal in her claims to part of Greek Macedonia, during the investigations of the United Nations Commission it was significant that the Yugoslav delegate consistently refused to repudiate Yugoslav claims on Greek soil Therefore, it is not surprising if the Greeks see in the present attack against them not only an attempt to impose on them a Communist dictatorship, but also a revival of Sla[...] nationalist aspirations on Greek territory.
It is interesting that throughout the discussions on Greece the Communist Parties have consistently accused the Western Powers of precisely those tactics and motives which the Communist Governments themselves have been adopting. The whole trouble, we are told, is the result of imperialist intervention by the Western Powers. We are told that the presence of British and American soldiers in Greece proves that this is so. That kind of pleading has an old Hitlerian ring—accuse your opponent of precisely the things that you yourself are doing, and probably some kind hearted people will be fools enough to believe what you say. Of course the Western Powers are interested in preventing the imposition by force on the Greeks of a Communist dictatorship or of any other dictatorship. That was one of the things guaranteed by 535 the treaty so recently signed. And, of course, the Western Powers are interested in protecting Greek independence against an attempt to overthrow it by camouflaged invasion. But I think there is quite a substantial difference between aid freely asked for by an elected and constitutional Government, whatever its politics, and openly given, and hidden assistance smuggled across a mountain frontier to rebel guerilla bands.
I think there is still one very hopeful sign about the Greek situation, and that is that Communist policy in Eastern Europe and this aggression against Greece is being sponsored with very great caution. The Communist lines of retreat are carefully being kept open. I think it was significant that Konitza was chosen as the possible site for the rebel capital on the Albanian frontier, and I think it is significant that the formation of the Marcos Government should not at once have met with recognition by the Eastern European Soviet satellites. I think that all this goes to show that the Communist lines of retreat are being kept open in the Balkans, so that, if at any moment there is a firm reaction by the democratic powers to intervention in Greece, the Soviet Union would not, apparently, be compromised. That is why I think it is so important that there should be no appeasement in the case of Greece, and why I think the United Nations should act decisively and soon. There may be risks in taking action now, but, surely, the whole lesson of the years between the wars was that action taken at once against aggression is, in the long run, far cheaper and far less dangerous than a policy of appeasement and surrender.
I believe that the Government should now press for a special Assembly of the United Nations to discuss Greece, and I think that three immediate practical decisions should be taken. First—and I think this is most important—there should be a guarantee, by the United Nations and by individual Governments, of the existing frontiers of Greece, and a warning that any attempt to revise them by force would be considered as an act of war. The second decision which I think should be taken is that, without delay, those member Governments of the United Nations who feel able to do so, should send an international force to seal up the Greek northern frontiers and 536 make impossible any further intervention from that quarter. I do not believe that, unless the frontiers can be closed, the civil war can ever be brought to an end. Thirdly, I think the United Nations should offer, and work out machinery to implement a guarantee of civil liberties in Greece as soon as the fighting and the civil war come to an end. Finally, I believe we should make it quite clear now that, although for many years to come, Greece will need international help in her rehabilitation and reconstruction, our eventual aim is to see her standing on her own feet, independent of all foreign influence in her domestic affairs, and ready to take her place, when that becomes possible again, as a real economic and political link between East and West.
I do not make my plea for action in the case of Greece merely on the grounds of anti-Communist policy. I think that negative anti-Communism is a bad and stultifying motive in politics which has been responsible for a great many evil things in the past. I do so because I think that for us to fail to take action in Greece would be a tragedy to the Greek people, would be fatal, in the long run, to the United Nations and to the maintenance of the peace of the world, and that, by taking such action we shall be doing something which would eventually help to establish really peaceful relations between Eastern and Western nations.
§ 11.24 a.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I wish to speak shortly, and, therefore, I begin by putting one specific question which I might otherwise forget to put in the course of my argument. I am sorry the Foreign Secretary is not here, because it arises out of something which he said yesterday in answer to me. Indeed, I do not think he has been here at all, except when keeping an eye, or an ear, on the Minister of State last night.
The Foreign Secretary yesterday said we are making a trade agreement between Western Germany and Eastern Europe, and I was not quite sure whether he meant that or whether he had, as is so very easy, slipped into using one wrong syllable, so I asked him what he meant and he said that that was what he meant. Within four minutes he said— 537in 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1948; Vol. 446, c. 409.]From that it seems that my question was at least excusable. What is meant by the statement that we are making a trade agreement with Western Germany and Eastern Europe, and then immediately saying that Eastern Europe cannot freely enter into trade arrangements? I think we ought to have some explanation of that.
I wish to say very little about the speech to which we have just listened, with almost all of which I agree, except for one small piece of logic which I did not quite follow, when the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) said that he had always believed that despotism breeds despotism and compulsion breeds compulsion, and that was why he had always desired that the Great Powers should put pressure with regard to internal politics on Spain. I do not quite follow how those two things hold together. Of the things the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, the House will forgive me if I do not refer at any great length to those portions with which I agree, which were, I think in general, those portions with which most of the House agreed. Our business surely is to try to question and discuss those things about which we are not all, or almost all, in full agreement. One thing which he said which I was pleased to hear was that propaganda is not a contribution to the settlement of international affairs.
I think it is a very good thing now that that truth should be generally recognised: and I think he also recognised that, right as it was that there should be a full and frank alliance with Russian power during the war in the latter part of the war, there was then an excessive amount of pro-Russian propaganda, and that that has been a part of the reason for the excessive strength of Russia in international politics since. Indeed, we were told yesterday that threats of that sort, or the use of the effect of propaganda in other countries, are made in international conversations. We were told that Molotov said, at Paris, I think it was, roughly speaking, "If you do not do what we want, you will find trouble in your own countries." That is an illustration of how propaganda, which anyway never goes on being 538 believed for very long, has very great disadvantages. First of all, it makes quarrels more likely in the long run. Propaganda by a foreign country always excites a reaction, and is always liable to turn against the object for which it was intended. But the worst drawback to it is that if foreign countries think they have a party inside your country, that gives them a weapon which they would not otherwise have.
I want to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, I hope without being excessively controversial, whether that consideration should not make them reconsider the speeches they are apt to make even now, about the propriety of using strike action for political, even foreign political, purposes. We have had quite recently from the Lord President of the Council and others, and from the Foreign Secretary not long ago, boasts about the Council of Action and strikes stopping ships, and the effect it had and so on. That is a knife that cuts both ways, and, if we are to boast of that sort of action, in our position, we can hardly expect the Russians to take our sense of democracy, or to think it improper they should use in the present and in the future action of a sort used here in the past.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I could not agree more; the doctors are a very good case in point. How would the right hon. Gentleman opposite like it if the doctors now said, "Unless you make a close alliance with France, we will not see a patient for the next 12 months"? They would not like it at all. This continual remembering with complacency the use of action of that sort has a very bad effect indeed upon international affairs.
I think the order arises mainly from the excessive importance attached opposite to the economic factor in politics. I would ask them to consider another question. We were told yesterday that we were to get from the Marshall Plan a very small amount of steel and machinery, and far too much dried eggs and tobacco. Two days before we had been told that we are refusing to buy films with the dollars which we have already borrowed, or which we have tried so hard to get. No doubt that is right; but the question I want to put to hon. and right hon. Gentle- 539 men opposite is to consider is it not now becoming plain that where you have all States controlling the movements of currencies and commodities, where bulk buying and bulk selling control all the most important markets, that it is quite impossible to choose what can be bought or what cannot be bought; or at any rate that the only people who can choose are those who happen to have the greatest number of dollars or whatever may be the strongest currency. It is not within our power to say to people who are perhaps prepared to lend us more dollars, "Thank you very much. We will take the dollars for this purpose and for that, but we will not take the dollars, for instance, to buy tobacco or films." What I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider is whether there is not the whole of their philosophy tied up in that, and whether it really may not prove impossible for a free foreign policy to be conducted upon the basis of bulk buying and bulk selling.
I want to come to one or two immediately practical questions. I did put in one at the first because I was a little afraid that I might forget it in the course of my argument. And now first of all I want to say a word about Greece. I do not apologise if I repeat perhaps to some extent what has already been said, because I think it is important that it should be said from various sides of the House. We were told by the Foreign Secretary that we should get out of Greece immediately they lifted a finger and honestly agreed to leave Greece alone; "they" meaning I suppose Greece's Northern neighbours. The question I want to put is—what is meant by "honestly agreed"? These people have agreed to all sorts of things, from the early days of Tito and others down to perhaps the day before yesterday. There have been continuous and offensive breaches of all agreements. Everybody knows it, and there is no use any longer being diplomatic and tactful about it. What does the Foreign Secretary mean by "honestly agreed" to leave Greece alone? I would ask for an assurance that we are not going to get out until we are quite certain that they will leave Greece alone. There is no question of agreement, to turn out honest or dishonest, but rather we must be sure beforehand.
In that connection I should like to ask, are we going to tell the Northern neigh- 540 bours of Greece now what we regard as intolerable and what we will treat as enemy action? Have they been told? Is there any objection now to our being told publicly that they have been told? What, also, is the legal position about recognition? Has U.N.O. been asked what is the legal position if a member of the United Nations organisation recognises some state which is not recognised by that organisation? I should have thought that that would have been legally and diplomatically an intolerable situation, and it seems to me a question which is now a practical one, has been made practical by recent actions in the Balkans.
With all respect for his knowledge, which I know in some respects to be superior to mine, I think the hon. Member for Brantford and Chiswick was a little optimistic when he told us about the complete Communist military failure in Epirus and Northern Greece. No doubt the Communists have not taken Konitza, but is it not clear that the plan they are following is the running sore plan? The sore is running still, and the Foreign Secretary told us yesterday that the Communists might think if they keep it going long enough the Americans and the English would get tired. No doubt the Americans and the English might very well get tired, and I do not think at this stage it is safe to assume that the Communist offensive in Greece is a failure.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but the point I was making was that one side of the campaign in Greece was clearly to set up a government and then to capture a capital. What I said was that the effort to capture a capital was a complete failure.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
We all know that the effort to capture Konitza was a failure, but I am not quite sure that the whole operation was a complete failure. That was the only point I wanted to make.
I should like if I may to ask a question or two about Germany. The Foreign Secretary reminded us yesterday that His Majesty's Government had always been against the dismemberment of Germany, on the ground that it would naturally lead to irredentism. I respectfully agree with that. It is possible that Germany might have dismembered itself if it had been treated with infinite wisdom in 1919. However I do not want to go into that. 541 I was sure then, and am quite sure now, that if Germany was dismembered from the outside we should only do more harm than good. I am sure we all agreed with the Foreign Secretary when he said that.
What I want to ask in that connection is—Is there anything we can do or any further declaration, to make it absolutely clear that we stay in Berlin and in Vienna, and that we regard Berlin and Vienna as the capitals of Germany and Austria? It seems to me quite certain that unless we make some great mistake in Germany, the Russians really cannot win there, and one of the great mistakes would be if we allowed the Germans to think, "Oh, well, Berlin has gone. The West does not care any longer about Berlin, or Vienna." I am not accusing His Majesty's Government of being careless or mistaken in that regard. All I am asking is whether we can be reassured about it, and also assured about any further steps that can be taken.
I have one last point about Germany and then a small one about Palestine. The last point about Germany is in regard to the currency. We were told yesterday that we were going to have some discussions in order to get something like a sound currency in Western Germany. Surely we ought to be told more about it and especially we should have been told more about it in yesterday's speech. The main point of yesterday's speech was that no longer can we go on pretending to believe that the Soviet Government is just another friendly Government from which we can expect the same sort of treatment as normally we expect from a friendly Government. That was the main point of the speech, and having said that, what has happened? We ought surely to be told what technique is going to be used by His Majesty's Government to get agreement about currency in those circumstances; or failing that, we should surely be told now, or at an early date, whether His Majesty's Government will go on without an agreement if necessary. This thing is long overdue, and surely it is high time after all these recent months when there have been such fatal failures, that we got into the closest co-operation with our French and American allies with the idea of rearranging the German currency and acting in regard to that in such a way that nobody can do anything to spoil it; and of telling the Russians that if they do not want to come in with 542 us on it as we think proper, we will do without them. Surely, we ought by this time to be told what is the date by which that is going to happen.
The last thing I want to say is a smaller thing in a way, but Heaven knows how big it is in the measure of human misery. In these Debates we all have to leave out large subjects and large areas, which we should like to discuss. One part of the world which can hardly ever be forgotten by anybody in this House at present is Palestine. I should like to ask if time can be found for us to be told not what we have done about Palestine directly, but what we have done to make sure that a continuation of forced and excessive immigration into Palestine is not claimable on humanitarian grounds. What are we doing to clear up the question of the displaced persons? Incidentally, one of the things we might do is to send back our own German prisoners. What are we doing to clear up the whole of this human misery problem of hundreds of thousands of people being in the wrong places? What are His Majesty's Government doing? We ought to be told, because our chances of peace, or failing that, of any kind of tolerable campaigning by anybody, in the Near East depend largely upon its not being possible to say, "Here are x hundreds of thousands of people who cannot possibly go anywhere else." We must take that weapon out of the hands of ill-meaning, and indeed of well-meaning people. I think it is not too soon for us to say that His Majesty's Government ought by now to be able to tell us exactly what they have done and are doing about that problem.
§ 11.42 a.m.
§ Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)
I would like to follow the good example of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) and not refer to those parts of my right hon. Friend's speech with which I agree, but try to direct the few words I have to say to a subject about which I feel considerable anxiety. Nevertheless, in passing, I would like to say that I thoroughly agreed with the second part of my right hon. Friend's speech, and I welcome it. I wish only that he had been more precise. I wish he had given us some suggestions such as the very admirable suggestion which came at the beginning of the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) and 543 in the middle part of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison). The marriage of those two ideas would give us something on which to build the suggestions which my right hon. Friend propounded in the second part of his speech. I was particularly pleased that he gave what I think was a complete answer to the speech of John Foster Dulles the day before yesterday, in which he suggested that we could not make up our minds whether we wanted to cast in our lot with Europe or with the Commonwealth. These are not alternative policies. They are not mutually exclusive aims. Indeed, they are necessary to one another and, as my right hon. Friend said, if we are to have economic integration in Europe it is absolutely essential that we should have access to raw materials. It is for that purpose that this week we have given the Third Reading to that great Bill which helps us to get raw materials in Africa—the Overseas Resources Development Bill.
I wish to refer to something that was said by my right hon. Friend in the course of his speech. It is not something which is any new source of anxiety; I have been worried about it for some time. He said:The solution arrived at at Yalta was looked upon by His Majesty's Government at that time as a sensible compromise between conflicting elements."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1948; Vol. 446, c. 386.]I would call attention to the words,looked upon by His Majesty's Government at that time.I am anxious to know whether His Majesty's Government have altered their view about what they felt was a reasonable compromise at that time, and for that reason I wish to direct the attention of the House to the succession of events which led us to fix certain frontiers between Poland and Eastern Germany. This is just one of the things which is causing the corroding suspicion which exists between us and Eastern Europe at the moment. I have been told—I do not know with what truth—that it was one of the things which caused the breakdown of the Foreign Ministers' Conference recently. It may have been one of the causes—I do not know—but it is a matter in which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has some 544 interest; he took Dart in the discussions at Yalta and Potsdam which helped to settle the frontiers between Poland and Germany. Therefore, I hope he will corroborate what they have to say about that.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
Would the hon. Lady put her point a little more precisely? I cannot say that my memory is fully charged with what happened at Yalta, but if the hon. Lady will put her point more precisely I will do my best to answer it.
§ Mrs. Manning
I hope I can put it precisely, although I do not wish to take too long. I think everybody will agree that in 1944 it became necessary that we should decide with the Russians, our Allies at that time, what was to be the boundary as between Poland and Russia. We have recently been told by the Under-Secretary of State that in diplomatic correspondence which took place between Poland and the Allies, Poland was promised that she might extend her territory to the line of the Oder, including Stettin. That information was given to us only a few days ago. At the Yalta Conference this decision began to take shape, although it is obvious that diplomatic correspondence had been going on for some time. At Yalta the three statesmen agreed that the Curzon Line was to be the line of demarcation between Poland and Russia.
§ Mrs. Manning
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman agrees so far. For Poland that meant the loss of a very large amount of territory—something like 48 per cent. of her territory.
§ Mrs. Manning
Well, more than half. I am glad to have some support from the Opposition. It meant a very great loss of economically valuable territory to Poland, although it is true that it got rid of a great many nationality difficulties. We know that there were enclaves of Polish people living in the Ukraine and in Byelorussia, but the majority were Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who on the whole, preferred to be with the U.S.S.R. rather than with Poland. So the decision was reached that the boundary should follow 545 the Curzon Line. There is no doubt—and I hope the right hon. Member for Woodford and the hon. Member for Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory) will agree with me—that at that time we promised that the Poles should have territorial compensation for the losses that they suffered as a result. It was left to Potsdam to settle what those territorial compensations should be. We had them set out very clearly by the Under-Secretary of State in reply to a Question on 24th November of last year. He said:… the following territories should be under the administration of the Polish state: the former German territories east of a line running from the Baltic Sea immediately west of Swinemunde and thence along the Oder River to the Confluence of the Western Neisse River and along the Western Neisse to the Czechoslovak frontier, including that portion of East Prussia not placed under the administration of the U.S.S.R.".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th November, 1947; Vol. 444, col. 1594.]I know it may be said that the determination of those frontiers was to be made the subject of an agreement when the Peace Treaties were discussed. The Peace Treaties have been held up a long time, and in the meantime those territories administered by Poland have become an accomplished fact. At the present moment this is a de facto region of Poland and I think if we were to ask the Attorney-General he would say it is also a de pure region of Poland. He has been quite explicit about it and has said we cannot alter these boundaries even at the Peace Conference.
What has happened in the meantime? I think the Foreign Secretary rather gave the game away when he was speaking about this particular problem. He said that the Soviet Union and Communism had extended its power from Trieste to the Elbe. That may be so, but does it mean that Poland ought to suffer because today she is friendly with a Power which for centuries past she has hated? Ought we not to be glad that at one point in the world we find love and friendship where formerly for centuries there had been hatred? I think that is something for which we might at least be grateful.
§ Mr. Churchill
Would the hon. Lady make one point clear? Does she favour the frontier between Poland and Germany being drawn along the Western or the Eastern Neisse?
§ Mrs. Manning
If that is so, then it is one of the points which at the final determination of this frontier at the Peace Conference should be decided in favour of Poland. Two objections have been raised to these frontiers. It is said part of these regions should go to Germany because they are the granary of Germany. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who knew those regions in pre-Hitler days knows very well that there was a constant flight of German people out of these territories, whatever might have been the desire of the German Government in its drive to the East. So far as the people of Germany were concerned, they never could be kept in these territories; they were always leaving the East and it was the Poles who did the work, growing thousands of tons of potatoes and rye which were wasted because they were surplus to German requirements.
It has also been said that, so tar as the economy of Germany is concerned, it is absolutely necessary that they should have these regions. Again, I do not agree. So far as wartime economy was concerned, yes, but never in the peacetime economy. This was a great springboard for the German people in their determination to conquer the rest of the world. I think everybody who has been to the regained Provinces since they have been in the hands of the Polish people will know that the whole of the area has been worked upon and reconstructed with enthusiasm and a love for the country which nobody could possibly believe who had not seen what the Polish people have done there. At the time when the Germans were asking for Lebensraum they always looked at their Eastern territories and said, "But there is a space without people." They knew it was dangerous to them, next door to the "Over-full Polish kettle." They always feared that Poland would over-spill into that area. Now the Poles have migrated there as a result of what happened during the war, and the Germans have left. The Poles have been given these territories and the Poles are determined to keep them.
In the words of President Cyrankiewiez, "The Polish people does not wish to be 547 like a tramp eternally sitting out his life in the waiting room of a station, with luggage packed waiting to be shipped alternately to the West, and then back again to the East." They have established themselves there by a dint of terrific work and by a supreme belief that this is inviolable Polish territory regained after centuries.
I know that there are people who, surprisingly, do not like the Poles and who criticise the way they carried out their elections. I have heard constant comment from people in this Chamber about the Polish elections. I have always been surprised at the lack of historical perspective which this House shows when it is dealing with and speaking about Eastern Europe. It has taken us six hundred years to arrive at the pitch of perfection in which we practise political democracy in this country today—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear "]—a long journey of struggle from Simon de Montfort to Mrs. Pankhurst.
§ Mrs. Manning
I thought if I mentioned the elections it would bring the hon. Gentleman to his feet. I am not interested in whether the Government thinks them frauds or not. They may not have been carried out in exactly the way we should approve here. That is why I referred to the fact that it has taken us 600 years [HON. MEMBERS: "700"]—or 700 years to reach the kind of political democracy which we practise here today. This struggle has also has had its Calvaries. We do not forget the Palace of Westminster and Whitehall; we do not forget Peterloo, or Parliament Square and Holloway Gaol. All these things are stored up in the memory of our people who have had to fight hundreds of years to gain the political democracy which we enjoy today. But we expect people who have thrown off feudalism only a few years ago to behave in exactly the same way as ourselves. I ask hon. Members to have a sense of perspective; to put things in the right proportions. If we do that, in our attitude towards Poland, we shall demand that the Poles have their rights and that these frontiers, established during the war be finally determined in their favour. Let us never forget that 548 this country, which lost six million citizens out of a total population of 35,000,000 is the same country with whom we fought alone in the first days of the war. Remembering that, let us determine that it must not be betrayed on what right hon. Gentlemen opposite and on this side of the House agreed at Yalta and again at Potsdam.
§ 11.58 a.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I think I may say that this is the first time in my experience I have ever been called upon to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning). I hope she will forgive me if I do not attempt to reproduce from memory the intricate discussions which took place at Yalta and afterwards at Potsdam. Broadly speaking, at Yalta we reached an agreement about the Eastern frontiers of Poland on the basis of full Polish independence. We did not reach the point of deciding what compensation should be given to Poland for the changes on her Eastern frontiers in favour of Russia—what compensation should be given her at the expense of Germany—but there had been some talk, even during the days of Teheran, about the line of the Oder.
As the hon. Lady knows, the Oder forks into the Eastern Neisse and the Western Neisse and we had always thought that up to the Eastern Neisse was fair compensation for Poland at the expense of Germany, having regard to her gains on the Baltic shore, and fair compensation for the concessions she had made of districts which, though large in territory, consisted mainly of the Pripet Marshes, to Russia in the East, and which were an essential part of the strategic defence of the Soviet Union. When we got to Poland everything was in flux. Great masses of people were being driven about by the advancing Soviet Armies. The Poles pressed on accordingly and not only the Eastern Neisse was occupied, driving millions of refugees before them, but the other tracts between the Eastern and Western Neisse were occupied.
These two added together comprise a very large part of the arable land of Germany. The feeding grounds of Germany were thus, in a marked manner, separated from the mouths of Germany, and millions of people were driven from the frontiers into the British zone, in the main, where they now are under con- 549 ditions which no one can contemplate without growing anxiety. The hon. Lady says that we must recognise the fait accompli; that they have been driven out and the newcomers have settled themselves down there. All I can say is, we have not agreed to that; and it was only agreed to by the United States on the basis that it would be provisional until a peace treaty was made. Well, that is how the matter stands, and no one can possibly doubt that it remains a complication and a dark cloud over the map of Europe.
I am sorry, and a little surprised, that the depressing declaration about the destruction of so large a part of our material reserve of battleships should have been announced at the very time that the Foreign Secretary was about to make so serious and important a pronouncement, because I have no doubt this unwise and improvident step will have its effect upon our influence and authority in international discussions. I do not, of course, intend to discuss the merits here. We shall ask for formal debate in due course, upon this and other aspects of our naval administration at the present time, particularly directed to the point of what value we are getting for the unprecedented peacetime sums of money which are being voted, and for the very large assignments under Vote A.
There is, however, another question of a Foreign Office character, connected with old battleships and warships, on which I must say a word. At the time the Italian Fleet surrendered I had a great desire personally to give Italy the feeling that they would be welcomed into the Allied ranks, and to show respect, as far as possible, for their national sentiment and pride. My colleagues in the National Coalition agreed to try to avert the proposed division of the Italian Fleet between Russia, Britain and America, and we were successful in this so far as the United States was concerned. We also persuaded Russia—by a very considerable sacrifice on our part, namely, the loan of a battleship and 14 other vessels—to forgo any claim she might have on the Italian Navy. The Americans gave one ship, and we gave 14 out of the 15 that were used. They were a timely reinforcement to our Soviet Ally. I hope this arrangement will stand, and that the Soviets will keep our British ships, which they have adapted to their own uses, rather than insist upon hav- 550 ing a proportion of the reduced Italian Navy handed over to them. It is very important that Italy should feel we have a regard for her feelings and sentiments in a matter like this, in which they can be so much more easily satisfied than, for instance, on the question of Colonial possessions. We should do our best in that direction, and if we fail we shall not have lost any good will in that part of the world.
There is another point I should like the Prime Minister to mention, if he will, when he replies. It is only a very small point. I beg your pardon; it is only a very precise point, and not a small point at all. It is: What has happened to the negotiations with Albania by which we were to have some satisfaction given to us for the murder of 40 British naval men and the grievous injury to many more by a State we had helped and nourished to the best of our ability? That is not a matter which can be ignored or forgotten, because it occurred in time of peace, and cannot be, as it were, swept into the vast, confused catalogue of human injuries and wrong deeds which were done in the course of the great war on both sides. This was a very special matter. I think the representative of the Admiralty, the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, used very direct language upon the subject, which I believe was supported by the Foreign Office in their diplomatic negotiations. We trust that some statement may be made upon this, and that we shall certainly not allow the matter to rest in its present state of deadlock and stalemate.
On the whole, the Government have maintained a continuity in foreign policy with that pursued under the National Coalition Government of which I was the head, and of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was Foreign Secretary. We have, therefore tried to give them all possible help, and thus keep the foreign policy of Britain outside the area of party controversy. In Greece, the Government have pursued exactly the same policy as that which my right hon. Friend and I went to Athens that Christmas—
§ Mr. Churchill
We tried to give all possible help. In Greece, the Government have pursued exactly the same policy as that which my right hon. Friend and I flew to Athens that stormy Christmas time in order to assert; and which at the time the present Foreign Secretary so loyally and courageously defended at the Trade Union Congress with great success, and for which he achieved acceptance by that body at that time.—[HON. MEMBERS: "The Labour Party."]—Well, it was formally accepted. Let there be no doubt about that. Not only has this policy been carried through with persistence and perseverance by this country, but it has now also received the active and growing support of the United States, who have relieved us of a large part of the burden and responsibility which we were finding it hard to bear.
When I look back at the attacks made upon our Greek policy three years ago by "The Times" and "Manchester Guardian," and by hon. Members, some of whom are important Ministers today, at the bitter prejudice that existed, and still exists in some quarters of the House, and at the violent attacks which were made upon it by men who now fill the important offices of Minister of Health and Secretary of State for War, who are now leading Ministers of the Crown, I must congratulate the Foreign Secretary on having been able to make his will effective and to procure the support and acquiescence of the Socialist Government and Party, including these Ministers, for a clear, steady policy—for what? For preventing the vast majority of the Greek people from being conquered and enslaved by a Communist minority, steeped in bloodshed and crime, and aided and tormented by Communist intrigues and incursions from Albania and Bulgaria, inspired and directed by Soviet Russia.
§ Mr. Cocks (Broxtowe)
The right hon. Member did not say that in 1944. It was not the position then.
§ Mr. Churchill
It is quite true that in 1944 Mr. Stalin did not oppose the action which we took. "Izvestia" and "Pravda" were silent, while "The Times" and "Manchester Guardian" were vocal in their attacks. But then, it must be remembered that we had with the leaders of the Russian State very inti- 552 mate relations, which had grown up in the comradeship of the long, bloody and terrible war which we thought was reaching a happy and final conclusion. Those agreements were kept when they were made, even though they were hard sometimes.
I am also very glad to see the great change that has taken place in American opinion on this subject. Four years ago, the views we held so strongly about Greece, and the action we took in consequence, were the subject of widespread disapproval throughout the United States. Not only the large majority of the Press, but the State Department also, were highly critical of what was then held to be an Imperialist and reactionary policy on the part of Great Britain. However, in the interval, the United States Government have entirely come round to our view, and are acting in exactly the same upright and disinterested spirit and intention as animated the National Coalition Government, in which I was associated so cordially with both the present and former Foreign Secretaries. My hope is that having put their hand to the plough, the United States will not look back, and Greece will be allowed and enabled to settle its affairs in accordance with the freely-expressed wishes of the majority of the people, and that it will not be reduced to another Communist-ridden police State, such as have been set up against the will of their peoples behind what has come to be called "The Iron Curtain." I cannot help also feeling content to see that not only the British, but the American Government, have adopted to a very large extent the views which I expressed at Fulton nearly two years ago, and have, indeed, gone in many ways far beyond them.
§ Mr. Churchill
I am only reporting facts, which are naturally a source of satisfaction to me. I was much criticised on both sides of the Atlantic for the Fulton speech, but in almost every detail, and certainly in the spirit and in its moderation, what I there urged has now become the accepted policy of the English-speaking world. The language used by the Prime Minister and the Lord President of the Council about Soviet Russia, and about the dangers of a new 553 war, far exceeds in gravity and menace anything which I said at that time, or, indeed, have ever said on this subject since the war. The joint use of bases, the maintenance of the common staff arrangements between Great Britain and the United States, and the close integration of our foreign policies, are being pursued throughout the English-speaking world without any prejudice to the overriding and supreme status of the world instrument of the United Nations, which it is our solemn duty to sustain to the best of our ability, and ultimately, to bring into effective reality as the sovereign instrument of world government.
In another sphere, events are also moving along the lines which I have earnestly desired. It is a year ago since I spoke at Zurich. There I pleaded for the ideal and objective of a United Europe, and later we formed a Committee of all parties in this country to promote that cause.
§ Mr. Churchill
On work of gathering together the strength and friendship of Europe, trying to weave it into one body, and forgetting some of the feuds and quarrels of the past, we should certainly not have asked for the assistance of those whose declared purpose it is to rupture all that happy programme. As I say, we formed this all-party Committee, with the exception of the Communists, whom we did not invite, and whom we do not now invite to join us in that or in any other form of social and political activity. The essence of my conception at that time, which was certainly not a new one—and the right hon. Gentleman said that it was 12 years ago since he had this idea—
§ Mr. Churchill
It shows how durable is truth. The essence of my conception was that France should forgo her thousand-year quarrel with Germany, and rise again to a leading position in Europe by bringing the German people back, with all our aid and goodwill, into the comity of nations. That implied a sublime act of faith on the part of France, but we are now in a region where such acts are perhaps the only ones which will be decisive.
I must say a word about our unofficial Committee for a United Europe, and also 554 about its limitations. I am most anxious to reassure the Government and the Foreign Secretary on this subject. We do not aspire to compete with Governments in the executive sphere. What we seek to do is to build up moral, cultural, sentimental and social unities and affinities throughout all Europe, or all those parts of Europe where freedom still reigns. We are anxious to spread the idea of the men and women of many countries being good Europeans, as well as patriotic citizens of their native lands, ready and eager to meet and work with one another on terms of honour and amity, to forget past tragedies as far as possible, to recognise that what has happened in the past is unpayable by mortal man and that to exact its payment will wreck the world, and to build for a future which may one day make amends for all.
I was very glad to observe that six months ago Mr. Marshall spoke of our movement as a link in the chain of thought which had led him to his memorable decision. Of course, we are watching with the greatest sympathy all the steps which are being taken under the Marshall Plan by the Governments of 16 countries to bring about economic unity and well being over these wide areas, in which I have heard it said 270 million people dwell. But that is primarily the business of the responsible executive Governments in every country. There is also the question of measures of common defence which is now coming in to the fore. That, again, is a matter for the executive Governments. The relationship of this committee to the executive responsible Governments is very similar to that of U.N.A. to the United Nations, or the old League of Nations Union to the League of Nations. It is an unofficial body of private persons engaged in carrying forward the ideas on which these institutions are founded.
We welcome everything that was said by the Foreign Secretary about the more intimate relations we are to seek with France and with what are called the Benelux countries, and I presume with Switzerland, if she would wish it, and also, I am glad to hear, with Italy. On this side of the House we give our full support to this policy. We are sure that, as my right hon. Friend said last night and as the hon. Member for Epping said just now, this European policy of unity can 555 perfectly well be reconciled with and adjusted to our obligations to the Commonwealth and Empire of which we are the heart and centre. I cannot believe that those difficulties will not be settled by patience and care. It is no help to draw sharp lines of contradiction between them. We need both as pillars in a world of reviving prosperity.
Nothing in the activities of our unofficial movement and committee can hamper the progress of the policy of His Majesty's Government. On the contrary, we hope to provide at least the atmosphere and even contribute to the foundation of that scheme for a united Europe of all free countries who, without giving up their customs and traditions, will come to regard themselves as parts of that great entity of Europe from which the civilisation of the modern world has sprung and without whose coherent existence it cannot be preserved. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will not commit the great mistake and failure of duty of trying to divert this movement of European unity into party channels. For instance, we are told that there should be a European association of Socialists or Socialist parties. This has been brought forward as a reason for opposing the all-party movement which some of us have tried to set on foot and which has many connections in Europe, but surely nothing could be more unwise and more reactionary than that. Once we try to make a united Socialist Europe we put ourselves on the same level as those who are trying to make a united Communist Europe. It is simply the ideas of the Cominform with another label, and there would no doubt come into being on this strange theory a united Liberal Europe, a united Roman Catholic Europe and a united Right Wing Europe and so on, all quarrelling with each other.
That is not the way to recreate the new historical continental entity, the structure of which is now recognised as vital to the modern world. On the contrary, it would only be a means of introducing strife and disorder in a scene already wracked by hideous stresses. Let us try to keep the idea of a united Europe above the party divisions which are inevitable, permissible and even tolerable in all free countries. Let us try on a basis above party to bring the collective personalities 556 of the anxious States and nations as a whole into the larger harmon[...] on which their future prosperity—aye, and indeed their life—may well depend.
§ Mr. Churchill
We have very great unities in this country. The vast majority of the people of this country are united on fundamentals both in regard to constitution and freedom. They are united in resistance to continental forms of totalitarianism and also united in their pride of their past and will I trust become united in their hopes for their future.
It is evident to anyone who listened to the Debate—I am afraid I was not in my place last night, though I gather that there were some very interesting speeches and some very interesting reactions to those speeches—that there are differences on foreign policy in the party opposite and that not all are agreed with the line which has been definitely adopted by the leading Ministers in His Majesty's Government. At the same time I had the feeling yesterday while the Foreign Secretary was speaking that he was the toiler, the man on the labouring oar, and deserved the effective support of the House of Commons without consideration of party. Moreover, I am quite sure that at least 75 per cent. of the people of this country and an equal majority of this House will support him and sustain him in the painful, wearisome and anxious task to which he has been called owing to the free and accepted workings of our Constitution. I have the feeling that the British people as a whole will recognise him as representing important elements in their decent way of life and also as one who possesses strong and brave qualities above personal interest or factional clatter. Therefore, I do not intend in anything I say willingly to add to the burden that he bears. When we on this side of the House give our support to a Minister and to the general trend of his policy, we shall take care that it is not only a fair-weather gift.
I read while I was abroad the speech which was delivered by the Lord President of the Council on foreign affairs on 12th January. I am sorry that he is not in his place. I must say that it was a very serious speech, especially coming from him. I was sorry that he should have tried to inject into this pronounce- 557 ment on foreign affairs, ordinary party gibes and controversy. He was reported in "The Daily Telegraph" as saying:We must avoid the Tory drift and class prejudice in the conduct of foreign policy between the wars.The greatest fault the Conservative Party committed between the wars was in being too much influenced by the pacifist views which prevailed on that side of the House. He went on to say:The Conservative Party carries a terrible load of responsibility for the muddle which led to the war.That speech was referred to last night by the Minister of State, who I am glad to see back in his place after having acquitted himself in a buoyant and distinguished manner on the other side of the Atlantic. When I read this speech of the Lord President of the Council I thought it necessary to ask the Conservative Central Office to produce for me a list of his previous convictions. Let me reassure the House that I will not burden it by reciting all of them—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"]—because after a bit one might even have too much of a good thing with such an ample list. This however I will say, that if we are to go into the conduct and opinions of individuals between the two wars, as we are quite prepared to do—I am very ready to do so—it would be quite possible to distribute the blame for the many mistakes made in such a way as to give the Lord President of the Council no particular cause for personal self-satisfaction.
In case at any forthcoming General Election there may be an attempt to revive these former controversies, we are taking steps to have little booklets prepared recording the utterances at different moments, of all the principal figures involved in those baffling times. For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself.
After the various grave things that have been said by the Foreign Secretary, and, out of doors, by other Ministers, it would be wrong to let this Debate evaporate in benevolent and optimistic platitudes. We are, after all, the guardians of the ordinary, humble, hard-working people, not only here at home, but in many lands. It is so little that they ask—only to get their daily bread by the sweat of their brow and enjoy the simple pleasures of 558 life which were meant for all and should be denied to none.To make a happy fire-side climeFor weans and wifeThere's the true pathos and sublimeOf human life.But now all these millions of humble humans are hustled and harried this way and that, first by nationalistic or imperialistic ambitions or appetites, now by ideological doctrines and hatreds, and all their small lives may be shattered and convulsed, millions at a time, and they may be only regimented up to suffering wounds and unrewarded toil. We, their representatives in this world-famous assembly, have a great responsibility, and we cannot always discharge it by treading easy paths and saying smooth things.
I am often asked, "Will there be war?", and this is a question I have often asked myself. Can you wonder, Sir, that this question obtrudes itself upon us when the Lord President of the Council speaks, as he did 10 days ago, of the "risk of war" with Russia—twice, I think, he used that phrase—and speaks of:The availability and, if necessary, the readiness of armed force to prevent the outbreak of violence"—and when the Prime Minister says—and I agree with him when he says:Soviet Communism pursues a policy of Imperialism in a new form—ideological, economic, and strategic—which threatens the welfare and way of life of the other nations of Europe.These are statements from men whose whole lives have been spent in denouncing the dangers of militarism, when they have not been actively engaged in fighting for their lives against tyranny. These are the speeches of Socialists. It is not a question of Jingoism. These are the speeches of Socialists and the Ministers responsible.
Can you doubt that times are grave when the word "sabotage" is used in accusation of one of the greatest Powers of the world, both by Mr. Marshall in the United States and by the Foreign Secretary in this House? Such language in any previous period would have been incompatible with the maintenance of any form of diplomatic relations between the countries affected. I think it quite right to say the things said, but when they are said it is certainly not odd that we should have to ask ourselves this grim and hateful question, "Will there be war?" 559 When I last spoke on these questions in the House in October, 1946, 15 months ago—I venture, by the way, to refer to what I have said in the past, because I do not speak on these matters on the spur of the moment, but from a steady stream of thought which I have followed and pursued with a study and experience of these matters over many years—I said:I am not going to attempt to examine this afternoon whether war, which would, of course, be total war, is imminent or not. I cannot tell at all what the men at the head of the different Governments will do. There are too many of what Bismarck called, 'Imponderabilia'. It was easier in Hitler's day to feel and forecast the general movement of events. But now we have not to deal with Hitler and his crude Nazi-gang. We are in the presence of something very much more difficult to measure. We are in the presence of a collective mind whose springs of action we cannot judge. Thirteen men in the Kremlin hold all Russia and more than a third of Europe in their grip. Many stresses and pressures are working on them. These stresses and pressures are internal as well as external. I cannot presume to forecast what decisions they will take. Even less can I attempt to foresee the time-factor in their affairs. Still, it is certain that these 13, or it may be 14, men have it in their power to loose on the world horrors and devastations, compared with which all we have gone through would be but a prelude. We are told that they would never do such a thing, and I earnestly hope this may be true. They are certainly calculating, ruthless men, officially divorced from Christian ethics in any form, and with Asiatic views of the value of human life and liberty. On the other hand, they have a vast expanse of the land surface of the globe and all its populations to guide and develop as they choose, with arbitrary power and with all that science—if not perverted—can bestow upon future generations of mankind.I beg the House to permit me to remind them of this, because I do not wish to say the same thing again, but I would use very much the same language now.Eight months ago"—speaking on this subject 15 months ago—"I made a speech at Fulton in the United States. It had a mixed reception and quite a number of Members of this House put their names to a Motion condemning me for having made it; but as events have moved what I said at Fulton in the presence of the President of the United States has been outpaced and overpassed by the movements of events and of American opinion. At that time, I said that I did not believe that the Soviet Government wanted war. I said that what they wanted were the fruits of war, and I pointed to the heavy impact of Soviet Russia upon Eastern and Central Europe—the Iron 560 Curtain and so forth—their demands in the Dardanelles and Persia, and their aspirations in the Far East. I fervently hope and pray that this view, which I then expressed, is still correct. But now I cannot tell. I should not blame His Majesty's Government if, even with all the information at their disposal, they also were not able to come to a definite conclusion. For all these reasons there. I expressed no opinion tonight upon the future, upon what the Soviet Government intend, or upon whether war is imminent or not.Certainly, in the interval that has passed, the Soviet Government have not used their overwhelming military power in Europe to march westward to the North Sea, the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, it is common ground between all parties that the situation has deteriorated, especially in the last six months. No, indeed, it is not odd that this ugly question should still be put, and force itself upon us: "Will there be war?" I will only venture now to say that there seems to me to be very real danger in going on drifting too long. I believe that the best chance of preventing a war is to bring matters to a head and come to a settlement with the Soviet Government before it is too late. This would imply that the Western democracies, who should, of course, seek unity among themselves at the earliest moment, would take the initiative in asking the Soviet for a settlement.
It is idle to reason or argue with the Communists. It is, however, possible to deal with them on a fair, realistic basis, and, in my experience, they will keep their bargains as long as it is in their interest to do so, which might, in this grave matter, be a long time, once things were settled. When this Parliament first assembled, I said that the possession of the atomic bomb would give three or four years' breathing space. Perhaps it may be more than that. But more than two of those years have already gone. I cannot think that any serious discussion which it may be necessary to have with the Soviet Government would be more likely to reach a favourable conclusion if we wait till they have got it too.
We may be absolutely sure that the present situation cannot last. The Foreign Secretary spoke yesterday of the Russian frontier line which runs from Stettin to Trieste. This was exactly the line which I mentioned in my speech at Fulton—Stettin to Trieste. He also mentioned the Elbe, and who can ever believe that there 561 will be a permanent peace in Europe, or in the world, while the frontiers of Asia rest upon the Elbe? But now this line runs farther south along the Adriatic shore, and there is actual fighting now going on in Greece to decide whether it shall not curl round Athens, and so to the Dardanelles and Turkey. Surely, there can be doubt in our minds that this is highly dangerous, and cannot endure. It is not only here in Europe that there are these iron curtains, and points of actual collision. In China and in Korea there are all kinds of dangers which we here in England find it baffling to measure. There is also much to be considered in the Middle East. There are very grave dangers—that is all I am going to say today—in letting everything run on and pile up until something happens, and it passes, all of a sudden, out of your control.
With all consideration of the facts, I believe it right to say today that the best chance of avoiding war is, in accord with the other Western democracies, to bring matters to a head with the Soviet Government, and, by formal diplomatic processes, with all their privacy and gravity, to arrive at a lasting settlement. There is certainly enough for the interests of all if such a settlement could be reached. Even this method, I must say, however, would not guarantee that war would not come. But I believe it would give the best chance of preventing it, and that, if it came, we should have the best chance of coming out of it alive.
§ 12.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Those of us who, for some time, have been advocating the policy of Western union must, of course, welcome the fact that the Opposition have accepted the idea; but we do so with some considerable embarrassment, after the speech which we have just heard, because what is clear is that, on the subject of Western union, and the organisation of Europe, as much as on domestic affairs, there are vast differences between the two sides of the House.
I must say that when I sat listening, particularly to the concluding passages of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he talked of "bringing things to a head"—and we must all know what that implies—my mind went back to the remarkable speech which was made from the back benches yesterday by the hon. 562 Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus)—with which I profoundly disagreed, but which I thought was one of the most ably argued speeches I have ever heard—and since the right hon. Gentleman was not here, I would like to give him the gist of it. The hon. Member for Gateshead said that he liked the idea of the Marshall Plan and of Western union. He then went on to illustrate how such an idea can be corrupted into a mere sterile policy of military containment. Listening to the sort of support we are getting for Western union from the other side I see the danger of such support. They mean something very different by it from what we mean. If mere sterile military containment were the thing which was being put to us by the Foreign Secretary, then there would be substance in the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead. If that were all that the Marshall Plan and Western union meant—a military bloc—then let us face the fact that war would be inevitable. I must say that if the speech we have just heard had been made, not from the Opposition Front Bench, but from this Front Bench as a declaration of Government policy, I would say that war was very near indeed. That is a policy that can only lead to war.
I believe that one of the greatest mistakes—and I noticed it in the speeches of the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) and of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe)—is the easy assumption that we can equate National Socialism and Communism, and that measures which would have been successful—purely military measures—for destroying Hitler in the 30's, can be made to apply with equal success in the 40's. To be perfectly blunt, that underrates the Communist danger.
What was National Socialism? The more we see the documents, the more we realise that it was a disease, a paranoia of the Western mind, a revolution of Nihilism. In Communism, however, there is something much more formidable, something which adapted itself, as did the French Revolution, to the traditions of a great country. The Nazis did not even win the support of the Junkers, of the traditional supporters of Bismarck's real-politik. They conspired against them in 1944 because they thought German national traditions were being destroyed. Communism, on the other hand, has won 563 its way into the Russian tradition. It has conformed itself to traditional policy.
Secondly, Communism is an idea, and a challenge to this world, and I think the hon. Member for Gateshead made a sound point when he said that, against the appeal of Communism in China, Korea, and Japan, we have put forward very little which makes sense to the common man. We ought to face those facts, and realise that any equation of Western union with a sterile military policy of containment is fatal. We cannot blow Communism away with military bluff, for who would be bluffing in that case? This country or Soviet Russia?
What we heard yesterday from the Foreign Secretary was something very different. What we heard from him, as from the Prime Minister's broadcast, was the argument that, if we are to defeat Communism, we need not merely strength—we do need strength—but a dynamic and creative idea through which we can organise our part of the world strongly enough to resist the challenge of that philosophy. What have we heard of such an idea from the other side today or yesterday? Not a thing. I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite that appeasement does not simply mean making conciliatory gestures. The real road to appeasement, as Professor Napier has pointed out in his recent book on Munich was the ambiguity and indecision of men who were defending an effete order. That is the real danger of appeasement. And there was a second danger in 1939—paper pacts and guarantees which proved useless in the time of trial. Let us draw the right moral from Munich. The men of Munich failed because they had not the spirit without which the Nazi challenge could not be met.
§ Mr. Crossman
Yes, but it was very nearly destroyed by six years of appeasement. We got the right spirit because a few hon. Gentlemen opposite had the courage to put their patriotism before their defence of the order. That was the difference between the Tory critics and the appeasers. They said "Even though it means a social revolution"—which it has meant—"we shall defend this country." They should be saying the same thing today about Western Europe. 564 The freedom of Western Europe cannot be defended without a planned economy. One may not like the word "Socialism," and I do not want to make the matter a party one, but what did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) mean by saying to us yesterday that we must not have Socialism in Europe? We cannot defend the freedom of Western Europe without a planned economy, and what is meant by a planned economy if not Socialism? If hon. Gentlemen opposite will say that they are in favour of the planned control of capital investment and heavy industry we shall really have national unity about how to defend freedom in Western Europe.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I never said that we must not have Socialism in Europe. It is for the various countries to decide the various forms of government which they want. What I said was that we could not hope to build a united Europe if this Government assumes that it can only be done on the basis of Socialism in Europe.
§ Mr. Crossman
I must say in reply that we cannot conceivably save ourselves from disaster in 1948 unless this Government know that Western union means the planning of Western Europe, whether that be called Socialism or not.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
Why should the hon. Member go on confusing a planned economy with Socialism? He knows perfectly well that the greatest advocate in this country of a planned economy is one of the stoutest Tories in this country, Mr. Amery.
§ Mr. Crossman
I do not intend to enter into a long discussion on a planned economy. I would only say that most of us think of the planned control of heavy industry and the control of capital investment as having something to do with Socialism. I shall welcome it if hon. Members opposite are glad to see that happen in Western Europe. We shall not succeed in Western union if we think of it as something we are having to do because we want Marshall aid or because there is a Soviet offensive against it. We have to do it on its own merits. It is something which we should have had to do, whether there had been the so-called "cold war" or not.
565 I noticed the suggestion in the speech of the Foreign Secretary yesterday that we were discarding the balance of power in our foreign policy. We cannot discard something which ended years ago. In 1942 the European balance of power ceased to mean anything at all. We have seen, in this war, the transformation of a European balance of power to a world balance of power, the transformation of Europe from the subject of world politics to one of the objects of world politics. That is the fact upon which the case for Western union rests. Eastern Europe will be in the Russian strategic sphere so long as Soviet Russia exists. I will be blunt and say that Western Europe is going to be in the American strategic sphere so long as tension exists between Russia and America. Our aim must be to have better luck vis-à-vis America than the Eastern countries have had vis-à-vis Russia, in achieving a measure of independence.
When the Truman doctrine was announced, following soon after the Fulton doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, many of us were deeply alarmed about American foreign policy. We welcomed the Havard speech precisely because, instead of looking at Europe in narrow strategic terms of military containment of Russia, it envisaged a constructive problem of reconstruction. It was because the Harvard speech differed profoundly from the Fulton doctrine and from the Truman doctrine which followed that it won such enthusiastic support from this side of the House. It was seen as a new chance for Great Power accord. America said to the world, "We offer our aid without ideological conditions." I regard it as a major disaster of Russian diplomacy that the Soviet did not accept it, and instead organised opposition to it.
I suggest that when we were faced with that situation it was impossible to go back on what we had said. We have got to carry through our side of the Marshall scheme. The fact that the Russians say that they will oppose it, does not affect the issue of whether it is right or wrong, or good in itself. But if we are to succeed in our Western union, we have to see that the Marshall doctrine is not transformed back into the Truman doctrine—to a sterile military policy. If this happens even the military policy of containment will collapse.
566 I will be frank. My own views about America have changed a great deal in the last, six months. Many Members have had a similar experience. I could not have believed six months ago that a plan of this sort would have been worked out in this detail with as few political conditions. It is an amazing tribute to Mr. Marshall's personality that he has disciplined all the forces against him in America itself and has at least got this policy presented to Congress in a form as acceptable as it is to Western Europe. It is the isolationists in America, who think only of the containment of Russia, who are the real enemies of this country, and who advocate only the putting of arms into Greece and China. Marshall is fighting these isolationists, and it depends on the initiative taken by our Government in organising Western Europe as to who will win in Washington. If we take that initiative Marshall will get his policy through Congress and defeat the isolationists, who say, "These people are effete, no good, and we may as well pile up arms in Greece and China and prepare for the third world war." We can still be masters of our destiny. We shall be, if we follow the lead which was made by the Foreign Secretary yesterday.
I was disappointed yesterday in one regard. I hope that the Prime Minister will fill in some of the gaps in the Foreign Secretary's speech about Western union. It is no good telling us that it is difficult. Of course, it is. What we now want to know from the Prime Minister is the sort of line of approach which Britain is to make to the other countries of Western Europe. Are we to make concrete proposals for joint commodity boards, so that instead of eight delegations going to Moscow and negotiating against each other, and, in the event, paying more, we negotiate as Western Europe for our food throughout the world—both in America and Russia? Are we to have a beginning of joint planning of heavy industry and capital investment in Western Europe? Without that, I do not see any reality in Western union. Are we to have free trade within the area and discrimination outside the area, and be hard in our negotiations with America on that point?—I think there will be some Tory support for this—for unless we resolve to say as a bloc that we must be able to discriminate against the outside world there is no reality in Western union? These are some of the 567 questions about which we should like the Prime Minister to give us information in relation to the line of approach which is to be made by this country to her neighbours.
I was disconcerted last week by a rumour published in "The Times" that we had made approaches to find out whether the Americans would like us to recall the Paris Conference while Congress was still sitting. In the interests of Anglo-American relations there are times when one does not talk. One does a thing and hopes that the other chap approves of one's having done it, because he would have to say "No" if one asked him. It is fundamental for the safety of Western Europe that we should take certain risks with American public opinion, and I believe that we shall get it on our side by showing independence and not by going cap in hand.
Moreover if we do not recall the Paris Conference within the next few weeks, if we do not start on this job, the prospects of French democracy are indeed bleak. I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the Third Force in France who have defeated the first Communist offensive, though they have no economic resources. They have nothing to offer the people in France. They cannot survive without offering anything solid, without positive assistance from this country. We can offer them as help, our activity in organising Western Europe. That would, I believe, produce a new psychological atmosphere in France. The Third Force is weak, so long as it is only French. But if Britain and France together actually organise Western Europe that might save French democracy. If we do not get ahead with the job de Gaulle will be in power before the end of 1948, and it will be our fault if he is in power.
The same is true of Germany. I think it was a mistake when the Foreign Secretary implied that the blame for the situation in Germany rested mainly on the Germans and the Russians. There is a major blame on the Russians, but the real trouble in our zone is that we have a split personality on the subject of Germany. It is our indecisiveness about what should happen to Germany which has destroyed the possibility of administering the Wes- 568 tern zone. We all know what that split personality is. Unless the Germans are given the ability to rule themselves they will not do the job. Farmers will conceal food, as they do in all countries when there is an occupying power there—and sometimes even when there is not. Without a Government with real sovereignty the Germans will not pull themselves together. But how can we give them that when they will use it immediately to recapture the Polish Provinces? That is the dilemma, and we ought to be honest about it.
The only way to get out of that dilemma is by the Western union. The French say, "You must internationalise the Ruhr." They are quite right. But I would reply to that, "Let us do our part by planning our own industry as well, so that the German feels he is not having something imposed upon him as an enemy, but as a member of a federal Europe; that he is being taken into federal Europe, not merely economically, under the Marshall Plan, but politically." The French can only be reconciled to giving back to Germans their rights if international control is imposed. The Germans cannot be allowed to rebuild a sovereign State, they must become Europeans, members of a Western union. That is our only chance in Germany.
I want to answer a point made by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington yesterday about our hope of a Socialist Western Europe. If we have a Western Europe there will be Socialists and anti-Socialists. I believe the Members opposite would all agree that the basic thing is to restore and save democracy in Europe. But they will find when they start meeting their opposite numbers in France, Belgium and Holland that there is no one who has not long ago accepted the necessity for the planning of the basic industries and Monopolies of that country. There is no Conservative Party in Europe which, on this point, is in accord with the other side of this House. It would be a fatal thing if, owing to Conservative pressure here, we became a drag on a Europe which wanted to go far faster in setting up a planned economy than this country. I do not believe this is going to happen. I believe this country under this Government is going to apply in Europe the Socialist principles it is applying at home.
569 We heard yesterday one of the most momentous declarations of British history. "We no longer manipulate the balance of power from our side. We are part of Europe." I would conclude by saying that there is no going back from that declaration. If we falter or hesitate now, having made this tremendous declaration, if we leave it at that or start back-pedalling, there will be disaster for Germany and France this year and for us very soon after. The Communists are going to launch an offensive this spring. The only way to save Europe, and in the long run to save ourselves, is to defeat that Communist offensive; and the only way to get reconciliation with Russia, is to make Western Europe work, not as an anti-Soviet conspiracy, but as a genuine independent Western union, friendly with both the great non-European Powers.
§ 1.6 p.m.
Mr. William Teeing (Brighton)
I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) in what he has been saying especially as I have only just returned from Germany myself. But I know there are many others who wish to speak, and I feel that unless we turn for a few moments to the Far East we are going to give an extremely wrong impression throughout the world. Well over six months have elapsed since the last foreign affairs Debate and one would have thought that the Foreign Secretary would, as a result, have had time to say a little more about our position with regard to Japan and the Far East generally. Looking at the length of time he gave to discussing such points as tourist travel abroad, we cannot but think that he could have spared a little longer for the Far East.
Probably the answer is that for some reason this Government does not wish this country to know too much about what is going on in the Far East. I am inclined to think that we have no policy with regard to Far Eastern matters at all. I believe that the situation in Japan and the situation in the Far East is far from saatisfactory from the British point of view, and that the Americans are not at all happy with regard to our attitude and our behaviour on many points. When it is considered what that can mean to Yorkshire and Lancashire and to the whole export drive of this country, it seems rather alarming that we should concen- 570 trate so entirely upon the German trouble and what is happening there without comparing it with the situation in Japan as well.
As hon. Members will know, five of us went out a few months ago to Japan and were there during October and November. We went, I believe, because General MacArthur and the whole American set-up in Japan was anxious that this country should know a little more about what is being done there and about the problems there. I would like to take the opportunity of saying how grateful we all were at the wonderful way we were received, and the marvellous efforts that were made by everybody to see that we got what information we wanted. We were allowed to see Japanese and Americans on almost any point we wanted to discuss.
I believe democracy is one of the subjects which are being taught at the present moment to both Germany and Japan, and therefore, perhaps, it will be a lesson in democracy to the Japanese to realise that Members of this House can go out to Japan at the expense of the Government—and when in Japan, I believe, at the expense of America—and still be able to get up on their return and criticise those hosts who sent them out, and also the kind American hosts who looked after them there. I believe the Americans will not take it amiss, nor do I think our own Government should.
I cannot make out why we should pretend there is a different programme—or is there a different programme?—for our attitude with regard to Germany and Japan, the two great menaces of two, three, or four years ago. In Germany we are trying to go in for decartelisation of big firms. That may happen in two quite different ways in the American and British zones. The attitude in the British zone is to go slowly at the present moment, because it is not entirely fair on everybody in the zone that they should be sold out until it is absolutely certain that they had some connection with Nazism.
On the other hand, in Japan, what is our policy in regard to decartelisation. There they have the "Zaibatsu," as they are called—"family concerns." Many exaggerated things have been said about them recently. If anybody thinks 571 that in America there is a united policy on the way that the Zaibatsu are being got rid of, he is making a very great mistake. Only last week a speech was made in the United States by the Army Secretary, Mr. Kenneth C. Royall, who was replying to General MacArthur on this subject. He then said:The dissolution of the Zaibatsu may present in itself no serious economic problem, but at some stage extreme deconcentration of industry, while further impairing the ability to make war, may at the same time impair manufacturing efficiency and reduce the overall production and the exportable surplus of Japanese industry—may, therefore, postpone the day when Japan can become self-supporting.Later he said:Our decisions will be made with realism and with a firm determination of doing all possible to prevent Japan from again waging unprovoked and aggressive and cruel war against any other nation. We hold to an equally definite purpose of building in Japan a self-sufficient democracy, strong enough and stable enough to support itself and at the same time to serve as a deterrent against any other totalitarian war threats which might hereafter arise in the Far East.Now we are very seriously studying our export drive. We hope, not only in this year but in the years to come, to be able to sell that which we are begging our workpeople in this country to work harder to produce. What is the attitude of our Government to this policy in Japan? Let us not forget that the population of Japan before the war was increasing at the rate of one million a year. Today it is increasing at the rate of 1,300,000 a year. We should not forget that today Japan is only half the size of what it was before the war and that six million more Japanese have been brought back to the country since the end of the war.
Yet, according to some, and to the speech I have quoted, it is the American policy that the country shall be self-sufficing. We all know that that means that the country shall be able to sell and export abroad. Equally, we know that in the textile industry, so far as cotton piece goods are concerned, Japan sold more in the last quarter in the Far East than the total exports anywhere of Lancashire and Yorkshire during that period. What is the policy of our Government with regard to the breaking up of these Zaibatsu firms. Before this statement in the United States, the policy was to get rid of everybody who could be linked up 572 in any way with the head of a firm which might have helped in the war effort. Presumably we agreed to this, and the result, as we saw it, when we were out there, was that firms were being left in the hands of the Government eventually to be sold to persons unknown. As far as one could see, the people to whom they would have to be sold would be either black marketeers or people closely connected either with Communist trade unionism, as it has developed in Japan, or people linked up with firms in the United States. The same thing is happening in Germany, and we have the following happening. In connection with the auction of eight mines in Stuttgart, it has not yet been decided who is to get them, but one of the bids likely to be accepted was made by Siemen's, of New York. What is our policy on that subject?
In connection with de-Nazification in Germany, we know that in our zone we are not pressing it to quite the same extent as are the Americans in their zone. Indeed, there will be complications about that in Bizonia in the next few weeks or months. What is our attitude with regard to the purge that is going on in Japan? Do we realise that people who are found to be connected with the war effort—heads of firms, some of whom, like the Mitsuis, are not even being tried—are being purged even to the third degree of their relationship? Their grandchildren, even, are not allowed to take any part or interest not only in the firm with which they may have been connected but also in any concern or business that might be in any way like the one in which the family was concerned before. Does that not savour of something just a little like what was done to the Jews not very long ago? Is it not wrong? What is our attitude? As Americans themselves have been pointing out, many Japanese who are pro-American and pro-British are being included in the purge without any great reason, as far as one can see. What is our policy?
Also, we must not forget the question of Korea and the danger that is coming from that part of the world. It is a danger which may come very soon. Large numbers of Americans have a certain view of our policy and I would like to ask the Government for a statement on this matter. Why is it that we are removing the 2,000 odd troops who are at present in Japan? It is said quite 573 definitely by some people in America that the reason why we are doing this is because there is a possibility of war in that area, in Korea, or connected with Korea, and we want to be out of it and not in it. That is why I say that it is not fair for the Foreign Secretary to give the impression that nothing is wrong in Japan. The Americans are worried about our attitude. These 2,000 troops were included in what is considered the minimum required for the defence of Japan. I ask the Government whether they are acting with the full approval of the Australians, whether we consulted them? I would like to know the real reason for the withdrawal. I hope that it will not be said that it is in order to economise and to bring people back to this country so that they may work for the export market. That would be a typical shortsighted Treasury point of view.
If we are really short of people, why is it that we have 17,000 civilians working in the British zone of Germany whereas there are only 4,000 in the American zone? Eleven thousand Americans are able to carry on the whole of the Japanese Empire. In both cases, I do not take into account the armed forces. These 2,000 troops in Japan could easily have been taken away from another part of the world, possibly from civilians in Germany, if it is export workers who are wanted. Then we would at least have been left with a token force in Japan. Many Americans say that by taking away these troops we are waiving any claim for any interest in the future development of Japan. They say of that if we are not willing to pull our weight out there, why should we try to press what I contend are our legitimate claims in regard to trade, and so on? If these 2,000 men come back, they may produce more goods, but we lose the right to bargain and to see that the Japanese cotton and other textile products do not compete too seriously with our own in the Far East and that we have some division of markets. I would like a definite answer on this point.
I think that we are from the Treasury point of view—it is more their fault than that of the Foreign Office—cheeseparing far too much on small things. From small things very often one can get greater results. In the case of our Ambassador in Japan and the whole of the Embassy organisation, they are left—other than the 574 British money they use amongst themselves—with the vast sum of four dollars a month which they are allowed to spend in order to keep on friendly terms with the Americans and to meet them in American places. Because one general happens to be a particularly good golfer he is able to make a little extra money on the golf links, and in that way a few more people are able to get about. In Frankfurt, as "The Times" pointed out, not only were the chief British delegates allowed ony one dollar for all their stay, but the most important of our Civil Service officials was allowed only 50 cents because it only costs 30 cents for breakfast on the train. These pettifogging things are doing a considerable amount of harm. We could spend a little more money and get far more in contact with the Americans, and explain our own point of view.
I do not think people realise in what an inferior and appallingly humiliating position our people in Japan are at the moment. Do they realise, for instance, that our Ambassador, though he is not officially called that, has not yet met the Prime Minister of Japan, who has been Prime Minister since last February, or had not when I left in November. Why that is, I do not know, except, possibly, that from some policy point of view it may not be desired that he should do so. We are not allowed to interfere in any way, and yet I do know that vast numbers of Americans are working on wonderful schemes of development in a wonderful way in Japan at the moment, and I think that we should be working in with them and I believe they want us to do so. Instead of that, they receive the news that our 2,000 men are going away, and they feel that we are not helping them, because, if things go wrong, we are leaving all the responsibility to them, and, on the other hand, if things go right, they would gladly have us working with them. I have seen what General MacArthur has done in sending coal to Hong-Kong, when it was badly needed in Japan, and also how he wants to cooperate with us in Japan. He has asked B.O.A.C. to come out but so far London has refused.
Japan, after all, is not only the country of the people who committed all the tortures and atrocities in the war. I think we will find that the worst segments only came from agricultural areas. I have seen the new kind of Japan both in the 575 agricultural districts and the industrial areas, which are just as large. In the industrial areas, nearly all the people are descended from the Liberals and liberal-minded people who were running Japan in the early '20's, and we should not forget that we were the first white allies of Japan in the old days. We should not forget, either, that there are large numbers of people in Japan who are more than anxious that we should go back and work with them. The vast majority of Americans also want us to work with them.
Nobody in Japan todays knows very much about the British. They know they beat us out of Singapore and Hong-Kong, but little else; they do not seem to have heard of Burma; and there is no publicity or newspapers from Britain; and we are doing nothing now in the way of presenting our case in that country. We have been asked to send out B.O.A.C., but for some reason they are not allowed to go. People here have wanted to go out to extend our trade there, but the Treasury will not allow them enough money. We need quicker means of transport and communications. All the time both the Americans and the Japanese would like us to do that. The young businessman now coming along in Japan does not know anything about us, or that we once had a great trade with Japan, mainly Empire. On one occasion, when we went about the country, I found that people had never even heard of the British. All these are things we must remember.
I came back from Japan with this message. We must remember that we have lost many thousands of people in the fighting in Malaya, Burma and elsewhere, and, here are whole areas in which we can combine with the Japanese and the Americans; if we lose our opportunity now, we shall have no justification for putting in a claim in the peace treaty that might save us from being hampered in other parts of the world. I therefore ask the Government what is their policy with regard to the withdrawal of troops in Japan, and with regard to meeting the undoubted coming competition from Japan in the years to come? If it is true that Japan is to receive a 750 million dollar loan from the United States, as has been reported from Moscow, if it is possible that the peace treaty may not, 576 after all, be signed in the next few months, and if the Americans are then going to remain in Japan, what is the position going to be with regard to our traders going out there and in regard to reparations generally, and is there any policy that might save Yorkshire and Lancashire? For the absence of a policy on this we shall have much regret in years to come while we still want to export.
§ 1.25 p.m.
§ Mr. John Paton (Norwich)
I am very glad to have been given this opportunity to intervene in this Debate, and, particularly, that I have been called immediately after the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling), who has introduced a subject which ought to be given far more opportunities in this House for effective discussion than it has hitherto had in this Parliament. It is true that, inevitably, in present circumstances, the great problems of Central Europe must tend to overshadow the enormous and important problems that emerge for us, 10,000 miles away on the other side of the world. It is my view that the Japanese problem, while it may not be so complex of solution as the German one, is, nevertheless, of quite equal importance to the peace of the world, and it is more than time that this House got down to a really effective Debate with adequate time in which we might examine all the difficulties that face us in that area.
Like the hon. Member for Brighton, I was privileged to be one of the Members of the Parliamentary Delegation which went to Japan and Korea as the guests of General MacArthur, and I think it would be better if, instead of trying today, in quite inadequate time, to investigate the problems of that vast area, I gave the House one or two broad impressions of what I saw there and the conclusions to which I came. May I endorse every word which the hon. Member for Brighton said with regard to the generous hospitality extended to us by the Americans during the whole of our tour over these great areas of Japan? I cannot myself find words to express all I feel about it, from General MacArthur himself right down to his humblest subordinate, because, in every part of our journey throughout Japan we received always, on every occasion, the greatest 577 kindness, abundant hospitality and a real warmth of friendship which left in the minds of all of us, I am sure, the most enduring memories of gratitude, and I am very glad today to have this opportunity to say publicly that which I expressed privately while I was still in Japan.
The House is now familiar with the important features of the political revolution which has taken place in Japan since the cessation of hostilities, and I think most people know that there is now in Japan a popularly elected Government, and a democratic, written constitution, which expresses the basic principles of democracy in the way in which we accept and have proved them in all the most advanced democracies of the world. There is also on the Statute Book of Japan a Bill of Rights which gives expression to all the popular freedoms upon which the advance of democracy in all Western nations has been founded and based. There has been placed on the Statute Book a great measure of agrarian reform, and more measures are in contemplation for completely reorganising the educational system. A vast mass of most valuable enactments has already gone on to the Statute Book, and many more are in contemplation, which constitute a complete political revolution in that country and which give this Oriental country for the first time the whole apparatus of an effective and sound democratic system.
§ Mr. Paton
I do not want to give way, because I am keeping to a timetable. There has been some cynicism expressed by critics both in this country and Japan about the permanent value of all this great apparatus of democracy which has been installed there. It is said, and truly, that these developments have come about through the wishes of General MacArthur and the American occupation forces, but I think that that view forgets the fact that these enactments have been brought into being in Japan by a popularly elected Government. It would be an injustice to leaders of the Japanese Government to suggest that they did not believe in the political instrument which they were bringing into being and it would be a gross injustice to suggest that the present Coalition Government under the leadership of the Socialist Prime Minister, 578 Mr. Katayama, is not a Government which believes wholeheartedly in democratic principles and is working most steadfastly to bring them into being.
While we agree that the American influence has been strong, nevertheless, it is my considered view that these enactments and this new system have been brought in with the will and the support of the Japanese themselves and of the popularly elected Government which is there now. But the cynics say this cannot possibly have any permanence because it runs counter to the mental concepts, all the traditions and all the habits which the Japanese have formed over thousands of years. True, no one can dogmatise about this. It may be that this democratic system will not be a permanent one. One cannot say; time alone will test it. At the same time, many of those who are cynical about this great development are most unjust to the aspirations and the good will that have formed it. While no one can afford to be dogmatic about the permanence of the new system in Japan, I can say most definitely that everyone of us is satisfied that the aims and the objects which inspired the Americans in helping in the formation of that new system are worthy aims and objects which ought to be wholeheartedly supported by every democrat in the western spheres of the world. There ought to be no cavilling, and while it is not in man to command success, at least as democrats we can express goodwill towards the system and extend our best wishes that it should have every success.
When we come to the economic side of the picture—and I want to conclude by saying in a very compressed form some of the things I have wanted to say—the verdict is bound to be much less favourable than that on the political side, where one sees clear-cut decisions, clear aims and a policy successfully worked out. When one contemplates the economic side everything is fuzzy, obscure and there are no decisions. In fact, there is irresolution, indecision, false starts, policies formulated and withdrawn and nobody seems to know exactly and precisely where they want to go. I know, of course, that there are tremendous differences between the kind of problems that they face politically and the economic problems. Politically they were able to start with a clean sheet—a sheet that had been wiped clean as far as the former political system of 579 Japan was concerned by the impact of war and defeat.
In the economic field the situation is far different. They are up against intractable economic problems that cannot be so easily waved aside. I suggest that one main factor lies at the root of the confusion of thought—the lack of clarity in aim and object which distinguishes the Japanese scene just as it distinguishes the German scene. I take the view that the Ruhr, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said yesterday, "must be allowed to live," but also I believe it ought to live decently and sufficiently. That idea has an application also to Japan. The rehabilitation of Western Germany and the proper utilisation of its industrial power is essential not only for Germany, but for all Europe. I believe the same thing holds true about Japan.
I never will believe that it is possible to write into peace treaties a prohibition which can condemn permanently great and able peoples to a condition of half-life with a pulse feebly beating, and reducing the body politic to a state of persistent anaemia. For that reason I have always been opposed to the central doctrine of the Potsdam Declaration. I want to see something else done. These policies of forced limitations are not capable of achievement in the long run, as the Versailles Treaty amply demonstrated to the world, but are the very negation of statesmanship, and they are on the level of the imbecile applying a torch to set alight the haystack of the farmer.
The real task of statesmanship is to find a solution for the problem of reconciling all the essential factors for security with full development of the industrial potential, using for that end all the productive forces and resources of the defeated peoples. It is a problem which is not easy. The nihilistic way of destruction is neither statesmanship nor policy. So my final word is that I hope our Foreign Office and the able minds that are in it as well as our Foreign Secretary will apply themselves to this problem. No one in recent years has been more insistent in this House on the overwhelming importance of economic reconstruction and economic improvement than my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I hope that the Foreign Office 580 will look at this problem, and that they will bring those able minds that exist there into contact with it in order to find how it is possible to make not only Western Germany and the Ruhr, but Japan also, fit into the future system of world peace, while at the same time giving the peoples of those lands a sufficient meed of life. I can assure the House quite definitely of one thing, there can be no stable peace in Japan and no permanence for the new system of political democracy there unless there is at the same time a sufficient Japanese economy that will sustain the people in full and decent life.
§ 1.38 p.m.
§ Major Vernon (Dulwich)
The subject which I wish to raise today relates closely to the subject of the two preceding speeches, though it deals with even a larger country, namely, China. Before beginning my subject, I should like to say a word of praise to the Foreign Secretary for the fact that his speech was so largely ideological, by which I mean it dealt largely with questions of right and wrong—the standards of right and wrong with which most of us here would agree, such as detestation of the police State, bullying, tyranny and all those things which we deplore. However, I was disappointed in his speech in that he dealt so much with the faults of one part of the world and so little with the corresponding faults of another part of the world. His denunciation of the expansion of Soviet influence occupied a good deal of his time, but he said no word about the corresponding expansion of American influence which is in many respects comparable, particularly with regard to China.
As we all know, in 1945 an agreement was made at Moscow confirming the earlier statement of non-intervention in the internal affairs of China. Britain has observed that agreement quite honourably. Russia also has refrained most meticulously from interfering in China, and all her troops were withdrawn from Manchuria in April, 1946. The Americans, on the other hand, have intervened with vigour and absolute shamelessness in the affairs of China. As is known, civil war has been raging in the country for 20 years, and all the evidence we have shows that the opposition parties are efficient, humane and democratic compared with the Government Party which is tyrannical, inefficient and thoroughly corrupt. 581 The Americans have intervened vigorously and on the wrong side. They have given 271 ships which are used for blockading the northern ports. They have trained and equipped 45 Chinese divisions. They have given vast quantities of war materials. They have over 1,000 military and civil advisers in the country and, in fact, they have intervened to the utmost extent in every way they could to bolster up the wrong side in the civil war in China.
What has been the effect? About 18 months ago the Chinese Government gathered together an army of something like 4,000,000 men to engage in another attempt at the final liquidation of what they called Communism in China. In the earlier expeditions, they were called bandits. This great expedition was aimed, first, at the headquarters of the opposition in China, at Yenan. When they captured the city they found it deserted. Since then they have done their utmost to reconquer Manchuria, and they have fought a war as ably as they and their American advisers, could with the object of defeating the opposition in China. The result is that Manchuria is all but lost to them. "The Times" of 20th January says that the few remaining garrisons in Manchuria are beleaguered and that aircraft are being used to take out valuable machinery and plant, obviously because they understand that it will no longer be of any use to them there.
When the Japanese were in occupation they never held down the whole country but only strips beside the railways and the main roads. The hinterland was always in the hands of the Chinese. Now the Chinese opposition have cut all the railways in Northern China. They have defeated every one of the Government armies. They are right on the Yangtse, and I am told that some of them have even crossed the Yangtse River. In the whole of the Northern Provinces the areas which they control are linked together. There are American bases here and there, and isolated garrisons, but there is no doubt that the conclusion of this 20 years' war is in sight. It may be some time yet, but at least one-third of the population of China are in revolt against the Government and there are isolated areas of revolt right through the country.
582 The American policy seems to be to bolster up the Chinese Government with all the power they have. They have not been able to stabilise finances, because the country is in the grip of a runaway inflation. They are issuing notes of 100,000 dollars denomination, and the cost of living is thousands of times higher than it was in 1939. It is said that the American policy is to establish a stronghold in South Eastern China, in Kwangtung, which they can use as a base for the conquest of China at some future date. Their policy has been a failure for some time, and I can see nothing but failure for it in the end.
What is the British policy to be in this state of affairs? Clearly, it should be a policy of friendship and trade with the Liberated Areas, as they are called. In this we ought to have agreement from the Government. The Foreign Secretary has said how much he deplores a police State. Of all the police States in the world, the Chinese Government are running one of the most ruthless and cruel police States in existence. A friend of mine in China saw a number of men, with their hands and feet tied together, kneeling along the roadside. A police officer came along with a revolver and shot them dead one after another. When he asked the reason, my friend was told that they were suspected of being Communists. The deputation which has just returned from China has said that the universities are completely isolated from the general population, and that they are surrounded with barricades, with armed guards to prevent people going in and out. The ordinary liberties which we know do not exist in Government China. For this reason, we should expect the Foreign Secretary to be on the side of the opposition.
With regard to trade, the famine has disappeared in the Liberated Areas. In fact, there are vast quantities of food waiting to be transported to wherever it can be used. They are burning soya beans as fuel because they cannot be disposed of in any other way. Some recent bargains showed that people were prepared to give a ton of grain for four yards of cloth. Another bargain was 10 tons of soya beans for a roll of cotton cloth about 40 yards long. There are vast quantities of food available at the moment, and there are enormous potentialities for the export of food in the Northern regions of China. In exchange, they want not the goods which are difficult for us to pro- 583 duce, but the very simple manufactured goods such as tools, hardware, fabrics, cotton and so on. It is really in Britain's interest, commercial and financial, that trade should be established as soon as possible with the Liberated Areas of China. To those who think of expediency I would say that it is a good thing as well to be on the winning side, and liberated China is the winning side in this conflict. Everything is in favour of British friendship and trade with the Liberated Areas of China, and there is no excuse at all for any encouragement beng given to the effete, corrupt, and ramshackle organisation which is the official Government of China in these days.
§ 1.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
The last three speakers to whom the House has listened all dealt with the Far East. As I have no direct knowledge of the areas with which they dealt, I think I had better not follow them on that subject. I wish to speak mainly about Europe. The Foreign Secretary made admittedly an extremely important speech yesterday. The country is today faced with one of the most serious situations which it has ever had to face. I have been a critic of the Government in many matters, and on some points of foreign policy, and no doubt I shall be again, but I do not believe that any fair-minded person, to whatever party he belongs, would deny that the Government have, and have had for the last two years, to face an extremely difficult position in foreign affairs.
Little assistance is rendered by over-simplifying any factor. At the same time, it is vitally important that we should not blind ourselves to any important aspect of the truth. The greatest contribution that can be made by any public man is to discover and to tell the truth. The most important fact in the world today is the active aggression of Communism, in accordance with its philosophy, throughout a great part of the world and certainly in Europe. I sometimes think, and my view has not been altered by the speeches we have heard in this Debate, that the most fundamental point in the creed of some hon. Members opposite is their belief in the non-recognition of fact. That can be most unfortunate. Let me take, for example, the speech made at Fulton by the right hon. Gentle- 584 man the Leader of the Opposition. I can understand that there may be a legitimate difference of view as to whether it was advisable for him to make that speech at that time. I can understand there may be a legitimate difference of view whether the remedy he suggested was the right one, but what was terrifying in the objections made at that time by hon. Members opposite, and also made subsequently, was that they never asked the important question: "Was what he said true; did he truly describe the position in Europe?"
I should have thought there could be no doubt that, as a mere description of what was the state of Europe, the existence of the iron curtain and the destruction of liberty behind it, what he said was, as has indeed since been recognised, absolutely true and could have been known to be true by any good and sincere investigator at that time. I want to call attention to the sort of attacks that are being made on this country and on His Majesty's Government by the Communists abroad and by our Communists when they go abroad. I saw from the "Manchester Guardian" that when Mr. Pollitt was recently in Milan he said this about His Majesty's Government:The British Labour Government was just now capitulating to Wall Street and to the City of London and 'under Attlee is aiming at lowering the standard of life of English workers, sabotaging produuction and seeking to split trade union unity'.That sort of charge is an insult to the Prime Minister and the Government. I do not believe that any of them honestly believe those are the Prime Minister's aims or the Government's aims, but they regard this as a useful thing to do as part of the great international conspiracy of Communism, under the leadership of Russia, of which the Communist party in this country is a fifth column, against European civilisation and the peace of the world. As was pointed out by the first hon. Gentleman who spoke this morning from the Socialist Benches, the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), one of the difficulties with which we are faced is the constant habit of the Communists of using words to convey a meaning precisely opposite to their true meaning—using "democracy" when they mean "tyranny" and using "reaction" as a term of abuse against anybody whom they dislike. I personally regret that that same term has been used, and that His Majesty's Ministers 585 have now been called "reactionary" by the Communists, because I can no longer so much enjoy the complimentary title of "reactionary" as before. Normal intelligence would suggest that reaction was good or bad according to whether the thing against which it was reacting was bad or good. If Communism is what it is stated to be by all its chief advocates, I am very proud to be a reactionary against Communism.
Take another word—"imperialism." The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) last night argued on these lines: "I dislike imperialism. I dislike capitalism. Therefore capitalism is imperialism. Russia is not capitalist. Therefore Russian aggression cannot be imperialism." Of course, if one likes that sort of argument, one likes it; but it is complete nonsense.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I gave the definition of "imperialism" taken from Hobson, after very keen study of the subject. Can the hon. Member take Hobson or any other authority and get an alternative definition of "imperialism"?
§ Mr. Strauss
As the hon. Member has tempted me, I will give some quotations which he will not be in a position to deny, and had better not deny, since they are quotations from Stalin's "Leninism." Before I give these quotations let me give an example of the way the Communists use the Press, and I very strongly advise all hon. Members on both sides of the House to take the "Daily Worker." This statement from the "Daily Worker" is, quite unconsciously, completely true:The cause of the Greek people is the cause of democracy and peace not only in the Balkans, but in Europe and the world.These words are exactly and precisely true; the only thing which is not mentioned is that Communism is fighting against the cause of democracy, whereas the cause of the Greek Government is the cause of democracy.
It is really most dangerous to ignore Communism, because after all it is a dogmatic secular religion held with enormous conviction and its sacred book, the one from which I propose to quote, is Stalin's "Leninism." We know Communism is based on the dictatorship of the proletariat and that its method is the method of revolution and its object the 586 conquest of the world. Let me give one or two quotations from "Leninism.":The Russian Revolution constitutes the first stage of the world revolution, and a mighty base for its further development.What the dictatorship of the proletariat means in practice may be seen from the explanation that it is "based on force" and "unrestricted by law.":The scientific concept, dictatorship, means nothing more or less than power which directly rests on violence, which is not limited by any laws or restricted by any absolute rules.… Dictatorship means unlimited power, resting on violence and not on law.Not only do we know the theory, but we have now seen this armed doctrine advancing in practice to enslave half Europe. I heard with interest the extremely clever speech made yesterday by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), and I welcomed it on one ground only—that it is always good to hear the Communist case presented as ably as it can be presented, although, unfortunately, we cannot expect that very often from those who are labelled "Communist" in this House.
§ Mr. Strauss
What was alarming to note was the joy with which it was received by so many on the benches opposite in contrast to the silence which greeted the greater part of the Foreign Secretary's speech. So many of the speeches, including the interesting speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning)—and there were several yesterday—talked, I think, misleadingly, about what was happening in Eastern Europe, as though it could be attributed to an "ideological difference." It seems to me an extraordinary thing that, when men are being slaughtered and imprisoned, and when the countries indulge in what is known as "social engineering," meaning the destruction of whole classes and creeds, that should be spoken of as an ideological difference, like a difference between two scientists about some matter of which the merits are not decided.
Let me remind the House of the sickening technique that we have seen in country after country. It is not as if any of these countries had chosen their present régimes. What happens? The Communist leaders are brought in with the advancing army: very often those who signed the alleged and pretended 587 dissolution of the Comintern; they are now running the countries into which they were introduced. They arrest Opposition leaders, some of whom are never heard of again, while others are brought to trial after months and months in prison. The method is at once to give certain key posts—generally the ministries of the interior, justice and war—to the Communists. As to Parliament, two methods are adopted; sometimes one and sometimes the other. If Parliament is allowed to meet at all, one method is to have completely fraudulent elections in which one side is suppressed. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State, in answering Questions, have frequently given descriptions of such fraudulent elections in various parts of Europe. There is no doubt of the fact.
An alternative method is to have a comparatively fair election—as was the first election in Hungary—and then, when it does not produce the Government the Russians want, the elected Government is overthrown by a coup d'état. Of that, too, we have heard a description from the Government Front Bench. The opposition is prevented from holding meetings; their leaders are arrested. Sometimes there is a second stage in which the opposition parties are accused of plotting civil war, the main evidence always being that their members have spoken to an Englishman or an American. Then, the opposition Press is banned. The next step is to arrest, try and execute, by a parody of justice, the most important of the Opposition leaders, including, in particular, the leaders of the Peasant Parties. Next, the Opposition parties are banned altogether. If by any chance, at the end of the whole process, there remain in Parliament a few independent men who do not agree with the reigning tyrants, they are told when they oppose the Budget that it is proposed to hang them. To talk of countries in which this state of affairs obtains as countries with which we have merely some ideological difference is to show oneself lacking in humanity and decency to an extent which I find perfectly shocking.
There is so much that I wish to say, but for which I know I have not the time. However, let me if I may, try to sum it up. The Government cannot hope to proceed with success, in this or any 588 other policy on which they are now embarked, if the most important fact in the international and national situation is ignored. The Communist conspiracy, which is run by Russia and has its fifth column in all these countries, has made perfectly clear, both in writing and in practice, what Communists are doing, and what they propose to do. To mention one more example of misrepresentation by the Communist Party, let me take their attitude towards America. They now say that American imperialism—I see the hon. Member for West Fife is leaving, although I am just about to mention one thing with which he dealt—
§ Mr. Gallacher
I have a visitor, the seeing of whom is more important than listening to the "blether" of the hon. and learned Member.
§ Mr. Strauss
In a later Debate I propose to quote what Lenin said about the hon. Member. The Communists talk about imperialism. Apparently American imperialism is threatening the Western democracies by offering them loans to which terms may be attached. Well, the Western democracies can take the loans or not, as they like; they can take the help or not, as they like. The insincerity of that objection coming from the hon. Member for West Fife, who voted for the American Loan, just shows the complete willingness of the Communist Party at any stage to say anything which its directors at the moment demand.
The right hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), in his vigorous speech which followed that of the hon. Member for Gateshead, said what we all know to be true from our experience with those we meet. He said, speaking of the miners, that so many of them ask, "What does Russia want?" I do not think we get the answer to that question by mere guesses; but we do get the answer by applying, as I have said before, a perfectly simple principle of the English common law, namely, that men are presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions. Ever since the war the Communists and Russia have been pursuing a policy which prevents co-operation, and causes famine and chaos and the breakdown of Parliamentary institutions. Everywhere they are causing hunger, misery and tyranny or chaos. If that is the consequence of their 589 policy, is it not obvious that it must also be their intention?
One or two hon. Members have spoken of Russian suspicion. There is no evidence whatsoever that Russia has any suspicion. The use of suspicion, and the pretence that they have a suspicion, is to enable the Communists to bring off the "no confidence" trick. It is pretended that Russia is suspicious of the Western Powers, and that for that reason His Majesty's Government and others must give them some concession for which Russia asks. If that concession is given—sometimes against the better judgment of those who give it—the same suspicion is renewed, and its removal has to be purchased again and again by further and further concessions. I am glad to think that His Majesty's Government have at last concluded that that process must now end.
I have only one other thing to say. I noticed that in his speech the other day the Lord President of the Council, after describing the tyranny which Russia and its servants are spreading throughout Europe, said that he spoke more in sorrow than in anger. I doubt myself whether that much appeased even the Communists. I do not think that men with the traditions of European civilisation, who care something for the traditions which we owe to Rome, to Greece and to Christianity, need be ashamed of honest anger when they see to what Europe has been reduced. I believe it to be better to admit anger and to show it. After all, if the Communists did come in and win, those of us who have opposed them would be killed anyhow. We have at least this comfort, that in the world which the Communists would produce free men would not wish to live. I say, not to the Communists—because they have their creed: unconditional surrender to the orders of the Kremlin—but to their fellow travellers, that as they will be killed in any event if Communism triumphs—perhaps a little later than I shall be—they might have the fun of being honest meanwhile.
§ 2.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Haworth (Liverpool, Walton)
I listened with interest to the condemnation of the Communists by the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). I could not help wondering, if all he said were true, 590 what reply would come from him and from his party. It is more than a coincidence, I think, and how regrettable it is, that the Leader of the Opposition should have begun his speech by speaking of the reduction in the number of our battleships, and ended it with a statement about the atom bomb. Is that the only hope there is for the world at the present time? The Leader of the Opposition wants us to call a conference with Stalin, presumably with the atom bomb in our pocket. Hon. Members opposite seem Bourbonlike to be travelling along the same road as that which we travelled before the wars. How terribly reminiscent today is of 1913 and 1937, when we could see the world drifting into war, and no one seemed to know what to do about it.
I have followed very closely the work of the Foreign Secretary, and I have had the honour to defend his policy at my own trade union conferences and at the T.U.C. I believe that he is sincere and is trying his utmost to pursue a policy which will make for the betterment of the world. I believe, however, that he is failing. The history of the Foreign Minister's Conferences, the speech the Foreign Secretary made yesterday, and the book "Speaking Frankly," written by Mr. J. F. Byrnes, all seem to show that we are drifting in the same way as before the two wars. What are we to do about it? One of the most terrible things about the speech made yesterday by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) was his sincerity. He stated the case for the Communist Party very well, and he meant what he said; that is the terrible thing about it. I was born in a Socialist household, and my father was the secretary of the branch of the S.D.F., and I was in the B.S.P. in my early days. All my life I have been a Socialist, and it hurt to hear the hon. Member for West Fife refer to William Morris, of all people, as justification for the policy of the Communist Party. "Fellowship is life, and the lack of fellowship is death," said William Morris.
§ Mr. Haworth
Can anyone who knows William Morris and the old Socialist movement not believe that the friends of the hon. Member for West Fife have prostituted the name of Socialism and departed from everything that we hold 591 dear? What the representatives of the capitalists have said about the policy being pursued by those who have stolen the label of our Socialist movement is only too true, and I regret that that should only have been said by them.
I want to get back to the early Socialism, which was based on the best things in life. I do not think we are getting any help from hon. Members opposite, because their basis of capitalism and materialism is as lacking in idealism and a moral basis for life as the Communist philosophy in Russia and other places. If we are to save the world, we must have a re-orientation. To begin with, we must have a moral basis for all our activities. Prayers are said in this House every day before the Business begins, and I wonder how many of us really feel there is anything in them. To me, the only hope of avoiding war is to try to get back to the principles of 2,000 years ago. This may be regarded by many as namby-pamby sentimentalism, but I believe that it is the only practical, commonsense approach at the present time. Where in Ricardo, Adam Smith, Marshall, or any other economist, is there a Gandhi? Where does he get the power he exercises in India today? Only by having the power of God behind us can we have any hope of preventing a third world war.
If a third world war does take place, it seems to me that it will probably be the end of civilisation. We have tried these other ways. When the Foreign Secretary goes to these conferences, he goes with all the beliefs and ideals of the Labour Party, but with a policy to defend the interests of Britain. The American representative goes to them with the idea of defending the interests of America, and naturally enough Stalin goes with the object of defending the interests of Russia. We need to have people going to conferences who are prepared to stand up for what is right and for God, instead of merely defending the private interests of this or that country. That means sacrifices on the part of the country advocating such a policy, but if we can make some gesture to the world, showing that we are prepared to sacrifice something, I believe that we may be able to start the world on a new track, and that we may be able to get Stalin to 592 believe that we really mean what we say.
I went last year to the International Centre for Moral Rearmament, which may be regarded with scorn in many circles. I believe that what is happening there is something which may revolutionise the world. It is giving an inspired democracy to the world, and only by an inspired democracy can we find the answer to the inspired Communists. Why is it that the Communist movement is the only movement with an inspiration today? Why is it that the hon. Member for West Fife is a man who has an inspiration and passion? It is because he has something he believes in. I am afraid that many of us have forgotten the things in which we believe, and I fervently believe that the only way we can get back to that passionate inspiration is to have a belief in God, and a determination to follow out His teachings.
§ 2.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Crawley (Buckingham)
The hon. Member for Walton (Mr. Haworth) has made a most moving and courageous speech, and for that reason alone I am glad to follow him. I think it is significant, however, that there are no other Members on the other side of the House who are interested in this Debate. If that is the measure of the enthusiasm they are putting behind the policy, which they say they share in common with the Government, it is not a very good advertisement. I wish to make a comment on the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). He spent the whole of his time telling us about the workings of the Communist system. I could agree with much of what he said, but I thought it was remarkable to choose this Debate to tell us so many things which all of us knew before and none of which has anything new in it. Yet surely in this Debate we have had presented to us an idea which is new? Yesterday the Foreign Secretary got up and for the first time in the history of this country said, as Foreign Secretary, that this country stood or fell—that was the sense of his words—by Western Europe. No doubt he would have liked to be able to use the words, "by the whole of Europe," but he used the phrase "Western union" several times and said that the time was ripe for the consolidation of Western Europe.
593 That is a real departure in the foreign policy of this country. For the last three or four hundred years, although a part of Europe, we have sat on its perimeter and drawn our wealth and livelihood from almost every other part of the globe and have kept the least possible contact with Europe, had as little to do with its affairs as we conveniently could, and maintained our position by the old policy of the balance of power. Now for the first time our Foreign Secretary has committed himself to a policy of the closest possible collaboration with any part of Europe—it is not confined to any country—which will come in with us on the basic principles of what we believe to be democracy.
It is, therefore, true to say that this is an historic occasion but I cannot help adding—perhaps it was because one had looked forward to the Debate with great anxiety—that when the Foreign Secretary sat down, deeply impressed though I was by the central part of his speech, I also had a sense of anti-climax. I suppose that though one had been expecting him to say something of that kind, one had also expected something more. He said that he had to achieve this consolidation step by step, and I must admit that I expected from him a rather more definite lead as to what the first steps towards that consolidation might be. The right hon. Gentleman might reply that he did lift the ban on travel in Europe and he mentioned new treaties which are being prepared between this country and the Benelux countries. Important though travel in Europe is—it is absurd to underestimate it because we cannot consolidate Europe unless we can move—and important though the treaties may be—it would be interesting to hear from the Prime Minister how much wider in scope these treaties will be than the Dunkirk Treaty—I cannot feel that those two items are the most necessary steps to take in the new policy towards Western Europe, or that they really reflect the urgency of the position and the urgency of the need to get on with the job.
Surely, the most urgent reason why we are adopting this policy is our own position? This is not a party matter. I do not take the view of some of the bankers who have recently been speaking and have said that the condition of the country is due to the fact that the Government are in power instead of themselves. The truth 594 of our position is that if it were not for the Marshall Plan, this country would be descending to the level of Germany, in nutrition, within a year and that even with the Marshall Plan neither this country nor the countries of Europe can recover and restore their prewar standard of living unless there is a far more drastic reorganisation of their economies, and much more efficient use of their productive power than exists at the moment or than they can achieve as single entities.
The arguments based on that thesis are well known. What the European countries will get under the Marshall Plan is a deficit before it starts. It is less than the minimum which they said they needed, and in the meanwhile they have had strikes which have put back their programmes. They are unlikely to reach the target they set themselves and they will have intense difficulty in getting their reconstruction going if they do no more than use their resources in an isolated way. The same applies to this country.
What are the conditions which can alter that position? Surely, we and every other European country, in order to make better use of our resources, must have the wider market which has been spoken about, so that we can standardise, mass-produce and export more goods at competitive prices and earn more money with which to buy the food which we all must have? It is desperately urgent that standardisation and mass-production should begin to be planned now, because although the Marshall aid is planned for four years, it is a deficit before it starts. If everything went right for us, if all our targets were reached and nobody closed down on any of the things we wanted to sell, we should still be running a deficit in dollars at the end of next year, which is far more than the sterling area can support.
Is it not, therefore, of the utmost importance that the planning for this better production should not be merely instituted now, but instituted with a sense of urgency that will captivate the imagination of Europe? If there was anything lacking in the speech of the Foreign Secretary, it was just that sense of urgency about the economic aspects of the Westion union to which he pledged himself. Instead of leaving it as it is at the moment in the hands of technical committees to plan, in what one can only regard so far as a rather leisurely fashion, 595 a survey of our wealth, industries, hydroelectric power and other resources in Europe, and, in even more leisurely fashion, the problems of currency and customs union, which, must be complicated and take time—there should be a pronouncement from the Government that these things are the very first concern of this Government from now on, and that they will be moved to the highest possible level and pushed with all the vigour of which this country is capable.
Various criticisms of this policy have been made. I cannot help feeling that one of the reasons why some of these steps have not been announced is that some people still have a feeling that although we have committed ourselves to the general idea of a Western union, there is still a chance that we could solve our problems ourselves and that we need not commit ourselves finally to schemes which would tie up our resources and economy with those of our neighbours and land us in a position where we should have to unite with them politically and in every other way. If there are any reservations in the minds of anybody on the Government Front Bench or in the rest of the House on that score, it is that which will prevent the Western union from coming into being in time to save both this country and Western Europe.
I will deal with two of the criticisms which are made. First of all, people often say that the type of union which is suggested for Western Europe, embracing a customs union or the pooling of resources, is based on the analogy of the United States, but that Europe is tremendously different from the United States because there are barriers of language, old civilisations, and developed economies instead of a great continent in which there is still a great deal of pioneering, in which the same methods can be used throughout as it pushes ahead. That is true. A union in Europe will not have the same uniformity as there is in the United States, and it will be different in almost every respect, except that it will at least be a continental organisation.
Surely, if we have these reservations we shall never get these countries moving towards reorganisation. It is not only the Socialists in Europe who are feeling sceptical about the real depth of our intentions in this matter but there are many 596 men, property owners, Conservatives and others all over Europe who believe that democracy can only survive if this country takes the lead and who are still terribly afraid that we are only using words and have as yet proposed no positive action which shows that we are going to commit ourselves; that we have one foot on the Continent and one foot still pointing towards the Atlantic. That I believe is a fatal defect psychologically in the approach to this problem.
Tied up with that—and this is the last objection with which I want to deal—is a very general phrase and one which has often been used to me, "Oh, well, we must pay lip service to this idea, but really the people on the Continent are not very efficient and not very reliable and although we must get what help we can from them it would be a great mistake to commit ourselves too thoroughly." If we have these mental reservations what hope have we of convincing the people and of saving democracy in Europe? Or what hope have we if we go into this with the attitude that the people we are trying to save are not worth saving?
Of course, it is inevitable that the people in Europe who have suffered the devastation of two wars should be in a less favourable position and have developed characteristics different from those which we ourselves possess. We ought to thank our stars that we have not had to go through what they have had to go through. It still remains true that the skill of 270 million people in the countries we are now thinking about is second only to that of the United States and perhaps its equal. It still remains true that they are the most advanced, or represent the most advanced civilisation in the world.
What is the alternative to throwing in our lot with them and giving them that lead and that stability, which partly through the circumstances of war and partly through other circumstances they have not had? What is the alternative to our doing that, and by the enthusiasm with which we lead them in democracy, saving democracy? The alternative is that they will inevitably disintegrate. They will lose faith in us and by a feeling of growing despair of this country, by a feeling that we are simply trying to sit on the fence and pick the plums for ourselves while using Europe as a convenient 597 buffer so that we can save our own corn fortable way of life on this little Island protected by the sea, accept the entirely different conception of life facing them on the other side, rather than have to continue in a constant state of suspense. It seems to me that what matters most now, therefore, is the urgency with which the Government implement the pledge of Western union which the Foreign Secretary gave yesterday. I plead with him that he should give from now on a more definite lead in the steps which this country considers should be taken.
§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Wingfield Digby (Dorset, Western)
I fully agree with the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) as to the urgency of the position. If I have fault to find with the speech of the Foreign Secretary, it is because I did not sense quite enough urgency or quite enough detail in it. It seems to me that if what the hon. Member for Buckingham wants to come about is to come about, it is most important that there should be the fullest confidence in this country, not only politically—and we should not be frightened of taking a lead politically—but also economically, because before we can expect other nations to throw in their lot with us, we must inspire in them the greatest confidence in the future of our economy. I think that some of us feel that in that direction the Government still have a very considerable contribution to make. Obviously, this Debate is of the greatest importance; nevertheless, it is a Debate in which I find myself in some difficulty to express what I really think without the fear that I am being too frank.
There is no doubt whatever—and this I think has been recognised on all sides of the House today and yesterday—that there has been a progressive deterioration in international relations—progressive and, therefore, seeming to be less than if it had come suddenly. The principal reason for that deterioration has undoubtedly been the attitude of Russia. Few of us, probably, can fully understand or explain that away. As the right hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) said yesterday, "What do they want?" That is a question which most of us would like answered.
§ Mr. Digby
Nevertheless, it would be the greatest mistake to suppose that this attitude of Russia is likely suddenly to change, and to continue to ba[...]e our policy to any degree on the probability of such a change, at any rate, at an early date. Away back in 1912, the French newspaper "Liberté" wrote about a certain Power, that they wanted to "Sell words for facts and formulae for territories." We have been concerned a very great deal with words and formulae over the last few years. Every one must pay tribute to the care which the Foreign Secretary has taken in framing those words and in trying to work out those formulae, even under difficult conditions. Those words and formulae went back beyond his time, too, as we have heard in this Debate—to Yalta and Potsdam—but I believe that words and formulae have ceased to be of so much importance as facts and territories in the position of the world today.
The facts are perfectly plain for anybody who cares to see them. They can be enumerated at length. Europe is not recovering from the war as we should have wished. However much we may criticise the peace settlement of Versailles, we have not done nearly as well this time, because we have not even a peace treaty with Germany or Austria. It is very difficult to see how Europe can be built up on a united basis without such peace treaties. By comparison, the Congress of Vienna comes out extremely well. In Eastern Europe we have something approximating very closely to the Exclusion Edict of the Japanese Shoguns. Europe is more divided than it was at the time, many centuries ago, when Suliman the Magnificent stood at the gates of Vienna.
When we come on to territories, I think that the picture is surprising. If those Russian diplomats of the old school, such as Prince Gortchakov and Saburov could have seen what has been realised by Soviet diplomacy at the present day, they would, I think, have uttered expressions of extreme astonishment. When we come to look at the traditional aims of Russian foreign policy, we are amazed at the extent to which they have been realised. The set-back of the Russo-Japanese war in 1905 has been fully restored, and Russia has a zone of influence in Northern Korea as well. Outer Mongolia has come fully under the Soviet sphere of influence. 599 It is true that Manchuria is now controlled by the Chinese Communists, who, I think it would be wrong to assume, as one at least of the hon. Members opposite has done, are the same thing as Russian Communists. The Baltic has become a Russian lake, and when we go round the world, we really only see one place in which an old—and it may be legitimate, or it may not be legitimate—Russian ambition has not been realised. That is the question of the control of the Straits, the realisation of which was promised in the first world war, and, according to documents which have just come to light, seems to have been a subject of discussion between the Russians and the Nazis in 1939. That, alone, is unrealised. So, indeed, we must come back to that original question which was asked by the right hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), What do they really want? Unless we can get some idea of that, it is very difficult to go on negotiating with them with any hope of success.
I am certain that any half-way house in this matter is a delusion, and that we have got to stick to those ideals which have so long formed part of our foreign policy. I know that Mr. Gladstone was not one of our best Ministers in foreign policy. Nevertheless, he laid down, in 1879, a principle of British foreign policy with which, I am sure, few of us would disagree. He said that "the foreign policy of England should always be inspired by love of freedom." It is becoming increasingly tempting not to adhere to that today, but I feel that we should remain true to that particular idea of our foreign policy.
With regard to the solution, if I may call it such, which was put forward by the Foreign Secretary in his speech yesterday, I was, of course, disappointed that he did not give us more details as to what exactly these conversations are to be. What is to be their limit? What kind of things are they going to achieve? I, like almost all other hon. Members of the House, should most certainly agree with the general principle. I should agree with closer political co-operation with France and the Benelux States. I would also agree with economic co-operation, although I should be bound to say, straightaway, that it seems to me, looking at the Monnet plan and the 600 internal economies of those countries, that it would not be a very good economic unit. If the whole of Europe were lumped together, it would obviously be a bad economic unit. Further to that, the Colonial territories which go with those countries must also be lumped in, and I am not at all sure that it would not have to go even further afield in the new world.
Although we were not told so, I assume that, in this matter, we shall work in cooperation with the United States of America, because the fact remains that, economically, they still have much which it is impossible to get elsewhere. I should not like this Western union to be something which was, to any extent, more in competition with the United States than it was forced to be, owing to dollar scarcity which looks like prevailing for some time to come.
In conclusion, I certainly feel that it is better late than never. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has now come forward and made this concrete proposal. Personally, I should have been very much happier if it had come earlier, because I feel that valuable time has slipped by, and that there is very little to show for it. The Foreign Secretary spoke about wishing, as much as possible, to do away with the balance of power. I suppose that all of us would agree with that. But, as I mentioned just now when dealing with the question of facts and territories, there is no doubt that the balance of power has changed to our detriment since the end of the war. There is no further time to be lost, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman has every success in the negotiations he is now undertaking.
§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Mr. John E. Haire (Wycombe)
I am glad that the Opposition managed to find yet another speaker to make yet another somewhat gloomy tour round our foreign relations. I thought that the speech of the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Digby) was something of a contrast with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) who preceded him, and who, I thought, made a constructive and detailed contribution to this Debate. I agreed with him very much when he said that the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday was an historic new chapter in our foreign policy. For good or ill, I believe we have taken a very big 601 decision on which there is no going back. I hope it will eventually be for good. On the other hand, it will still require the most delicate handling before we reach the blueprint stage.
This decision to form a Western union was inevitable; following the repeated break-ups of the Foreign Ministers' Conferences. By taking this decision, I think that the Government, through the Foreign Secretary, recaptured the initiative in Western European affairs which we have lost since the war. The division of Europe into East and West is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) said yesterday, a reality. I still refute, however, the suggestion that Europe has broken into two camps. I believe this division can be used for peaceful purposes, and can be without warlike aims. It is indeed a counsel of despair to say now, arising out of this division, that "East is East and West is West, and never again the twain shall meet." The lubricant for this new machine is provided by the Marshall Plan. I am one of those on this side of the House who welcome that Plan and the initiative shown by the Foreign Secretary in rallying the nations to Paris last July. I regret that his efforts were not more successful, but we know that that was not his fault. Without such assistance, I believe that Western Europe may not recover for many years.
The United States recognise at the present time the need for this aid to Europe. This recognition, I believe, does not bear the construction which so many of my colleagues put upon it. As a result of the swarms of Congressmen who came to Europe this summer, America has at last had a view of the destruction and decay in Europe which are the result of the war. I believe that many people in America, now that they know this picture, are embarrassed to think that they fought the same war as we did, and that they now enjoy great prosperity, while we in Western Europe suffer depression.
When I was out in the United States recently, even the farmers in the Middle West were described as enjoying such prosperity as they had never known before. This was their mink and Miami period, I was told—fur coats and Florida. My impression, as a result of my visit, is that there is as much misrepresentation in this country of what is 602 taking place in America as there is in America of what is taking place here. I hope that denigration on both sides may stop, and that we may have a closer understanding of our separate and mutual problems. I tried to find out the motives, as understood by the ordinary man in the street in America, for the grant of aid to Western Europe. I think I could describe them very largely as humanitarian and economic. Among many people, there is undoubtedly a political motive, but I should say that, in the minds of the higher-ups in Washington, there is the feeling that political labels attached to American aid to Western Europe are an unwarrantable infringement of sovereignty, and though they desire to avoid it, undoubtedly there must be speeches in Congress with regard to political conditions. We cannot avoid unfortunate speeches being made in this House, nor can they avoid such speeches being made in Washington.
But I wonder if it is known in this country that when one of these American delegations visited this country during the summer led by Congressman Herter, of Boston, they called upon various political leaders, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), and having put a question to him—I hope I quote correctly what I heard in the United States—as to whether he considered that political conditions should be attached to aid to Britain such as would stop further Socialisation, he is reported to have replied that that would be fatal. We often hear mentioned in this country an unfortunate speech made by a prospective Republican candidate for the Presidency, Mr. Stassen, who is alleged to have said that no further aid should be given to Britain if the British Government continued with its nationalisation schemes. I do not believe that that view represents any wide section of opinion in America.
In the three motives I have mentioned, I believe that the United States administration at the present time is interpreting the wishes of the American man in the street who is certainly decent, democratic and sufficiently politically conscious to recognise that he cannot follow the woolly wanderings of Wallace. A great deal of liberal thinking is going on in America at the present time. Indeed, there is quite a political ferment. Most of these people are progressive, on the Left, but do not 603 find their political saviour in Wallace. It would only be right to point out that there is also a great deal of woolly thinking about Communism in America and a fear of Communism among many people, without knowing what the bogyman is like. This lack of definition in political thinking is brought out well in the story of the picket parading outside a shop where a strike was in progress, when a burly policeman came along and said, "Come along we do not want any Communists here." The picket replied, "All right. I am an anti-Communist." The policeman retorted, "I do not care what kind of a Communist you are—move on." There is no longer, I am happy to say, much anti-Britishism in the United States. I feel that the Colonel McCormicks are a lost legion. Even the Irish of Boston, thanks to the correct attitude of His Majesty's Government towards Eire during the war are now indeed somewhat on our side. Maybe the Jews of New York do not like us much at the moment, but that will pass.
I was deeply moved by the individual offers of assistance to this country made by the American man in the street and by the good will shown in many wide circles towards our social experiments. Many an American said, "Your social experiments are all right so long as you do not export them to us." I must confess that Socialism is not, perhaps, our best dollar earner in America at the present time. However, that is their choice and it is not our business to interfere. Those of us who know the British Information Service in America and its excellent and objective activity, know that it cannot be described as anything in the nature of a Socialist export.
The dictatorship of Wall Street, which has been mentioned in this Debate, is now a myth because I find, from speaking to many people, that there is no better way of discrediting an American politician than to say that he is associated with Wall Street. This, in my view, is what made Vyshinski's Wall Street warmonger speech at Lake Success such a damp squib among the American people, but perhaps it was not intended for them. America recognises that peace cannot come while countries in Europe lie in misery and decay. We should be ungenerous if we did not applaud their generosity in giving this aid, while being watchful to protect our 604 own interests. We should gratefully acknowledge, and I was glad the Foreign Secretary did, the suggestion that part of this offer should be in the nature of a grant-in-aid. This is, in fact, continuation of the U.N.R.R.A. aid and is similar to the Lend-Lease aid of the war years. If I were in the Foreign Secretary's place I should encourage the Americans to grant us as much of this loan for off-shore spending as possible. Congressmen are now debating the shape of the loan. My view is that we should say to the Americans "Before you grant any aid for Western Europe we would like to be sure that the purchasing power of that aid is to be maintained." I would support President Truman in his two approaches to Congress to attempt to get an anti-inflation Bill through as a condition of this Western European aid.
Let us hope that our friends in the United States will have the wisdom to see that they should not control the machine too rigidly, and not write into the scheme impossible political or economic conditions. I am convinced that the aid should be given in toto to the 16 Paris Powers. Here I seem to be at variance with the general drift of opinion. I believe this aid should be administered through the 16 Powers Committee which the Foreign Secretary got together in Paris, and that the Committee should apply it through a planned economy for the area, which they should proceed forthwith to erect. I agree with those of my colleagues who appeal for urgency in this matter. I believe that the Powers concerned should throw into this pool their Colonial resources, and, while I recognise the difficulties, I believe that they should aim eventually at a Western European customs union. Having taken the decision to have a Western union, let us get on with it at all speed. Let us have, as soon as possible, the first steps as forecast by the Foreign Secretary yesterday. I acknowledge his offer to lift the embargo on foreign travel. It is welcome but it is only a gesture. If we do not make rapid progress while we have the present dynamic, the opportunity to federate in Western Europe may pass. A great deal of thought has been given to this problem, and in spite of what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, I believe that the blueprints of the various interested societies are not without value.
605 But as a first step, let us drop this international slanging match. Where does it get us? Certainly, from our side, not to the Russian people. I would especially appeal to America in this matter. It is one thing for the State Department to adopt a "tough" policy, but when every third, fourth, and fifth-rate journalist and radio commentator, joins in, then atrocities of misrepresentation are committed. Shortly before I left America I saw a drawing in a New York paper of the Capitol in ruins and underneath was the caption, "Must we wait for another Pearl Harbour?" It seems to me that when Walter Winchell on the radio, speaking to an estimated audience of seven million people, says, "We should drop our atom bomb now," he is indeed being guilty of misrepresenting the views of the American people. I am satisfied that there is not in America any large set of those who want a preventive war.
I would also appeal to some of our own newspapers to maintain a high standard among their foreign journalists. I am not satisfied that it is always done. I am satisfied that there is misrepresentation, on occasion, about conditions, in the countries in Eastern Europe. I can check some reports and comments from my own experience. I consider it somewhat anomalous that when the "Daily Telegraph" and "Daily Mail" correspondents are permitted freely into some of the countries in Eastern Europe, the "Daily Herald" correspondent in Vienna is refused. Perhaps he has earned his right to a recall and a refresher course at home.
Let us allow Eastern Europe to get on with shaping its own destiny. Let us recognise that Eastern Europe has performed magnificent feats of reconstruction which are unparalleled elsewhere in Europe. Let us recognise that progress towards a planned economy has been achieved by their three, four and five-year plans, which were integrated in regular conferences long before the Cominform was thought of. Since when have revolutions in Eastern Europe been carried out with a fine code of morals? These new regimes, I believe, are now assured of their future. The clock cannot be turned back. Let them, therefore, recognise that Parliamentary democratic practices, freedom from arbitrary arrest, habeas corpus, and all that we associate with justice for the individual and human 606 rights in this country, may now safely be introduced. Let them stop tilting at rea[...]ionary windmills. Above all, as we build our Western European union let us recognise that there are many open gates in the Chinese wall that now divides Europe. Let us not hesitate to use them frequently and fully. Let us continue to aim at a united Europe and, eventually, a united world. Let us continue to say to Eastern Europe: "Help us with your good will and co-operation to achieve what the common man everywhere wants—peace in our time."
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
Those of us who have listened to the Debate feel that all the speeches have been on that loftly level which one expects from this House on a great occasion. It was perfectly obvious that, without a single exception, the genuine, sincere desire of every speaker was to have peace in our time—not only peace with honour but, far greater, peace with justice for our fellow men throughout the world.
We are now approaching a situation which, in my view, is as grave and as critical as was the situation in August and September, 1939, when this House faced that perilous occasion which led to war on 3rd September. The disheartening and agonising thing is that, two and a half years ago, Germany was forced to surrender unconditionally, and yet, when two and a half years have elapsed, there is still no peace. For six years we and the other nations of the world were engaged in bloody and deadly warfare such as the world had never experienced before. Millions were killed, countries were ravaged and devastated, and untold agony was caused.
When we look back to that period of 1939 we again put to ourselves the question—what was the cause of that war? It was, above everything else, a war of ideology. It was, in the mind of all of us for a very considerable period during that war, a war of ideology. We and our sister nations of the Commonwealth, and France, took up the challenge as free peoples fighting on behalf of freedom, against tyranny and totalitarianism, or that form of government which makes a god of materialism. We were fighting first against Nazi tyranny and then Fascist tyranny and against the extension of the police State. Later, after Poland, Belgium 607 and Holland had been brought under the cruel heel of that vicious, inhuman and vile tyranny, we were joined, first by Russia, who was attacked by Germany, and then by the United States, who were attacked by the Japanese and their ruthless, vicious tyrannical gang. When Germany, Italy and Japan had been defeated, there was then a general rejoicing amongst freedom-loving people who thought that, now tyranny had been conquered, the world could set about the task of securing peace for all, removing the fear of war, the fear of aggression, and building up prosperity amongst their own subjects in their own way.
The world now realises that that fear, which we thought had ended, has not been removed. It still persists. That is the position in which we find ourselves today. Throughout his term of office, the Foreign Secretary has been in an extremely difficult and unenviable position. It has not been easy to try to secure peace, even though it has been the genuine desire of the world. That is why all of us rejoiced in the formation of the United Nations organisation. The truth is that even today the United Nations—in spite of the name—are not united. The truth is that the war of ideologies still goes on between those who believe in individual freedom and those who believe in totalitarianism and the right of the few, which they claim unto themselves, to rule, govern and direct the many, without the conscious consent of the people.
The first safe anchorage of those who believe in freedom was provided by the Atlantic Charter. The first dire mistake that was made—and it was made by those who really desire freedom—was when they departed from those principles which had been laid down in that Charter. No good can now come from any attempt to apportion blame for that departure. Now, again, having lost its anchorage, the world is adrift. There lies the initial mistake which has been the cause of so many disputes and so many troubles which have since arisen.
Therefore, we now come face to face with this situation. There are still in the world those who cherish freedom, who regard every man as having the individual right to his own views and opinions, the right to do his utmost to use his talents in his own way and to build up for himself 608 and his family that mode of life which he—with the education which he gets in modern times—conceives is best. We also realise that each person desires, and should have, that material justice which will enable him to use those talents to the full for the benefit not only of himself but of his fellow men. That is on the one side. On the other side, there is this ideology of tyranny, of the right of the Government to rule without the conscious consent or desire of the people.
Therefore, what we have to put to ourselves today is the question whether it is possible for these two ideologies to exist side by side in the world, or whether they must lead to an inevitable clash which cannot be settled except by force of arms. I thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), in his remarkable speech this morning, was quite right in putting that question to himself and to the world. Can these two ideologies exist side by side, or are we inevitably drifting into war? It is dreadful that we should be putting that question to ourselves today when we know that the desire of every ordinary man and woman in every part of the world is to live in peace so that they may develop their own lives in their own way, with all fear removed from them, so that in course of time they can raise not only the standard of life of themselves and their families and improve the general situation, but also that of their fellow-men in their own time.
Nevertheless, we are face to face with this tremendous question today. War at any time is horrible. It was my fate to be in this House on 3rd September, 1939, and there is not one who was here then who will not bear with him so long as he is on this earth, the memory of that tremendous hour. The mere thought of war, after six years of the greatest and most dreadful war which man has ever experienced in his long history, makes us shudder even more, but even worse than that is the fact that we now have to realise that, horrible and dreadful as the last war was, with millions killed and the slaughter that took place, the agony and anxiety and misery that still follow because of it will be as nothing compared with what may happen if another war breaks out. It will be something more ghastly than man has ever thought of. Therefore, it is the earnest wish and 609 prayer of everyone throughout the world that we should be able to find a peaceful solution of our difficulties. We also know that there comes a moment when we can purchase peace at too high a price. That, Sir, was the moment when we decided to declare war upon Hitler and his Nazi crowd on 3rd September, 1939. We had then come to the conclusion that we could purchase peace at too high a price. Nevertheless, though that is true, there is not one of us who is not anxious to avoid both that price and that war.
I turn for a moment to the Foreign Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman has been patient, but he has now recognised, in that very remarkable speech yesterday, that there is a danger in being over-patient. It was a danger into which we gradually fell between 1933 and 1939, and that is why I said at the beginning of my remarks that this situation today is getting perilously like the situation that occurred prior to September, 1939. I feel, therefore, that the time has come when he should make our position clear, certain and definite beyond peradventure, that we should state our aims and objects so clearly that everyone will understand them, and that we should say, "Beyond that we want nothing, but we will not yield an inch from that."
The political and economic situations today are inexorably mixed and the history of recent years has taught us that totalitarianism flourishes where economic conditions are worst. Therefore I, in common with many other Members of this House, welcomed yesterday the Foreign Minister's declaration that His Majesty's Government are not animated by antagonism against anyone, but by a genuine desire to build up a strong and prosperous Europe and to link it up not only with Britain, with the great British Commonwealth of Nations, or with the assistance which we will get from the free countries of the Western Hemisphere, but with those great areas in Africa and in other parts of the world, both for our own benefit and for the benefit of millions who may be suffering anywhere on earth, in order that prosperity and justice may be secured for them and, over and above anything else, that it will be a true answer to totalitarianism and totalitarian ambitions.
Communism as practised by Russia, and as we understand it today, can flourish only on diseased flesh. Let it be 610 clearly understood that in our view what is now being put forward by the Foreign Secretary, which is fully supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, is not an antagonistic step to anyone, bears no enmity towards anyone or jealousy of anyone, but represents a genuine desire for co-operation with anyone so that we can walk together for our mutual aid wherever we may be, without distinction of race or creed or even political belief. That is why I am sure the right hon. Gentleman laid his emphasis upon the need of not bringing together only those of one political creed in any country. Europe has really learned its democracy from this country and it has admired our democratic institutions for generations. In fact, we are doing today in this House what we so often do, namely, approaching matters from different angles, but it is extraordinary what a wonderful measure of common agreement there is among us. It is not necessary to emphasise any political creed in Europe today. The real desire is not for unity of any particular creed, but for a unity of the peoples of each country so that they may all work together towards that common end, each contributing in their own way to the common good and to the common cause.
That, as I understand it, is what has been put forward by the Foreign Secretary and is the policy of His Majesty's Government. Having heard the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition this morning, and realising that it is his policy also, I need not assure the House or the country that that is also the genuine desire not only of myself and my colleagues but, if the House will forgive me for referring to a political side for a moment, of Liberalism, as I understand it, and in which I still firmly believe.
We want to see prosperity restored in Europe. It will be difficult, because each nation, very rightly, has its own democratic institutions and its own method of approach towards all these questions, whether economic or political. Our desire is that they shall come together. It is difficult for the Foreign Secretary to lay down any particular rules. He has been criticised by some of the newspapers this morning for not being sufficiently definite. This is not a matter upon which one can be definite. This is not a matter in which people are directed, but in which one tries 611 to steer and guide people so that they may work together. Rightly the right hon. Gentleman has approached France first. Then he has turned to the small democratic countries which have worked together, suffered together and which desire to work with us; after which he has turned his attention further away to the new Italy, to which we offer our very best hopes and all our encouragement—not the Italy of Mussolini, but the Italy of Mazzini and the Italy of modern thought.
I can, therefore, see the beginnings of what so many of us all along have desired—the first step towards one great world organisation. It will take a long time. There are two kinds of nationalism. There is one which somehow breeds a hatred of everybody else who does, not happen to belong to that particular national organisation, and there is another which takes pride in its own traditions, literature and mode of life but which is anxious to contribute as best it can to the general welfare of the world. That is the kind of nationalism that I would like to see flourish, with one great object—peace on earth in our time. I am certain of one thing. It is that if we lay down definitely what our aim is and make quite clear what our ideology is, instead of constituting a threat of war it will lead ultimately to peace. From Russia there has been an infiltration which is far more dangerous, because it has been far more subtle than even the threats that were uttered by Hitler and Mussolini. They may go on, as Hitler went on, from step to step hoping that no action will be taken. There is a great danger, not only for us but for them, that one day they might take some step as Hitler did, from which there is no retreat, and which will lead to war. That is why I think the best earnest for peace is to make our position absolutely clear and to ensure that there is no deviation from it.
When dealing with a number of small democratic nations, it is often very difficult to ascertain the true line which they all want to pursue, each one having its own ideas and each having the right to express them; but when we have, as we have in Moscow today, people who know what they want and intend to follow it, no wonder they have succeeded as far as they have. It is right that we should now call a halt to all this, and say 612 definitely and once for all, "So far, and no further." In that way only shall we get peace.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave an extended survey of recent events and of the present position in the field of foreign affairs, and he made a remarkable speech giving, I think, a new initiative. His speech was followed and supplemented by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. I do not intend to speak at any length this afternoon or to traverse the ground which he covered. I desire only to deal with some points which were either implicit or explicit in that speech, to develop these points and to reply to some of the questions which have been put in the course of this Debate.
I would like to deal first of all with one or two specific questions. The senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) put forward rather an obscure point, I think, of alleged inconsistency in the speech of my right hon. Friend. There really is no inconsistency. My right hon. Friend said that we were trying to build up trade relations between Western Germany and Eastern Europe, and he subsequently said that in trade matters the satellite countries had to take their orders from Moscow. There is nothing inconsistent in that, because the orders from Moscow obviously allow them to enter into trade relations. The second question he asked was whether we could lay down an exact date on which, if we had failed to get quadripartite agreement on currency reform in Germany, we would proceed with the other two Powers. It is quite obvious that we cannot give a date when the negotiations have not yet begun.
The next point asked specifically was by the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), who made an interesting speech with regard to Poland. The boundaries of Poland were not finally settled at Potsdam. It was made perfectly clear that the line of the Western Neisse was adopted provisionally because, obviously, if we were going to have any resettlement at all, we must have some boundaries on which people could work. But there is a claim there, and there are other claims from the Dutch, the French and others for a redrawing of the map of Europe and a retrocession to them of cer- 613 tain parts of Germany. We proposed that these matters should be dealt with by a boundary commission and it is not our fault that these have not been made definite owing to the long delays in coming to the peace treaty.
I come next to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, whom we are all pleased to see back again, in good health and in so robust a form of oratory. He asked, first of all, about the scrapping of the obsolete battleships. I can assure him that this action has been taken on the best technical advice of our Admirals and that every consideration was carefully examined as to whether this would strengthen us or weaken us, and we came to the definite conclusion with our advisers that the scrapping of these battleships would not materially weaken our strength.
The next point he raised was in regard to the Italian Fleet. He referred to the ships which were lent by the British and American Governments to Russia in 1944 until such time as it was possible to arrange for Russia to receive a share of the Italian Fleet. If I understood him correctly he suggested that we should let the Russians keep our ships if they left any Italian ships allotted to them under the Peace Treaty. We and the Americans have already decided to allow the Italian Government to scrap the ships they were to have delivered to us, and that was a generous act appreciated in, Italy.
§ The Prime Minister
As scrap. The agreement is as to scrap. It is open to the Russians to, act likewise, and we shall be delighted if they do so. That would be a further help to Italian economy. However, I can see no reason why we, in return for such help by Russia to Italy, should leave our ships in Russian hands. We are entitled to get those ships back; and the scrap would be extremely useful to us at the present time.
The right hon. Member asked a further question with regard to the dispute with Albania. The Security Council recommended that the dispute between Albania and Great Britain should be submitted to the International Court of justice. That was on 9th April, 1947. Our pleadings were filed in that court in September. The Albanian pleadings were due to be de- 614 livered in December, but Albania submitted a preliminary objection, arguing that the International Court had not the right of jurisdiction in this case. Thereupon, the court ordered that the United Kingdom should submit observations on this objection, and that has been done. If the court decides it has jurisdiction, the Albanian Government will be ordered to file its pleadings. If it does not, I take it that judgment will be given in default to Great Britain.
§ The Prime Minister
Then, I think we shall have to await an appeal. I am afraid so. There would be an appeal to the court, who would naturally be concerned with the action recommended.
This Debate has naturally ranged over a fairly wide field, and there have been some extremely interesting speeches. It is perhaps suitable that we should have a speech from a representative of a small nation in this matter which involves the fate of small nations to such a great extent, and also from a minority party, because we are concerned that minorities should live and should be vocal. We had what I thought was an extremely interesting and well-informed speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Brent-ford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), and also interesting speeches from my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) and my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman)—and a little later I will deal with some of the points he made.
Before dealing with the objections, I think it worth while recalling at the end of this Debate a very large measure of agreement in the House. First, there is general apprehension at the state of the world two and a half years after the end of a war. I do not think it is good to be talking of war; but on the other hand, it is no good shutting our eyes to the possibilities of war. I do not believe war to be imminent, but I do believe that we must use our greatest exertions to do away with the causes of war and to prevent war arising. Secondly, there is a realisation of the danger of the world being divided on ideological lines, and there is great anxiety at the course of action of the Russian Government. There is a general desire to know what is the real 615 object of the rulers of Russia. That question was asked several times, but there was no answer, even from those who seem to be the habitual exponents of the Russian point of view and the apologists for Soviet Russia. Thirdly, there is a recognition of the need for leadership in the non-Communist world.
Finally, there is general support of the policy indicated by the Foreign Secretary for the closer integration of Europe—for closer political integration and closer economic integration, coupled, I believe, with a recognition that Western Europe cannot live by itself as an economic unit. Hence the desire for wider integration with Africa and other overseas territories, and with the great Western democracies and with our own Dominions. Union of Europe is a fruitful idea. It has been put forward many times in the past—it has been taken up and dropped again; but it is a fruitful idea. It is, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, something that wants to be done under the larger unity of the United Nations—European civilisation has spread all over the world, and our democratic ideas are not confined to Europe, but have spread throughout the world. While I think that the idea of a united Europe is one which is most fruitful, we must be careful not to think that it is something exclusive, and something which excludes the rest of the world.
There was some criticism because my right hon. Friend was alleged not to have laid before the House enough details and a cut-and-dried plan for political and economic integration. I do not think it would be wise straight off to say "Here is a plan." It would be much better first to try to get results, and to build on those results. I believe it is right to get the idea formulated, and then, through conversations, build up support for it, rather than to have some kind of dramatic meeting with a concrete plan, where probably all the difficulties of the plan would come out most clearly, and all the details would cause dissension. There is one statement which I thought was quite false, and that was that enough initiative had not come from this country and from this Government. My right hon. Friend has been rightly praised for the very great patience he has shown. He has again and again shown initiative in these difficulties in 616 trying to find a way out, and it is due to his initiative in seizing on the historic speech of Mr. Marshall that we owe the gathering together of the 16 nations, and the beginning of this practical integration. The hon. Member for East Coventry asked a certain question on this, and what was being done.
The British and French Governments have already initiated consultations with the other countries which participated in the Paris Conference, with a view to furthering European co-operation and considering what preparatory steps could be taken in setting up a joint organization. They have certainly not lost sight of the possibility of reassembling the full conference of the 16 countries at an appropriate time, but such a conference calls for careful preparation and timing. A great deal can be achieved through direct consultations, such as those which are now in process, as well as through various technical committees which are meeting from time to time under the ægis of the Economic Commission for Europe. Therefore, it is not true to think that nothing is being done. With regard to the actual practical steps being taken on European economy, there is already machinery for programming an allocation of wheat, rice, oils, fats, fertilisers, cocoa and tin on a world wide basis, and coal and timber on a European basis. If the examination of the possibility of a Western European customs union, which is now passing through its technical stages at Brussels, results in the decision of a number of countries forming such a union, it will mean that trade will eventually become free throughout that area. While I cannot state now exactly what measures may eventually be agreed upon by the many countries concerned, I can assure the House that we shall press ahead with the utmost vigour consistent with the immense complexities of those problems. To turn to the major points—
§ Mr. Churchill
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the question of a United Europe, I hope he will say a word about the all-Party Committee which has been formed here—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] May I not express the hope, and may the right hon. Gentleman not gratify it or dispel it? [An HON. MEMBER: "Why should he?"] It is a committee which contains supporters of his own as strong as 617 Mr. Gollancz, and others. May he not say whether a lead should be given so that people might join that committee—[Interruption.] Hon. Members need not join it unless they like to do so; it is not compulsory. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say a word about it. It would be a pity if he did not.
§ Mr. Delargy (Manchester, Platting)
May that request be strengthened from this side of the House also?
§ The Prime Minister
I have already said that we welcome the fullest support for the united Europe idea. As regards any particular organisation, it would not be right for the Government to pronounce an opinion on it, but we have always welcomed and supported it. It is a voluntary organisation for the propagation of ideas.
§ Mr. Churchill
With very great respect, all I am asking is that the Government should let it be free and open for all to do what they think right.
§ The Prime Minister
It is really not a matter about which the Government can take a decision. It is free for anybody to join in the organisation. We ought to recognise that the task on which we are engaged is a very difficult one. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party was indicating some of those difficulties. We have to recognise that there is in Communism a dynamic force. It is a fanatical movement which enlists the support of people of a certain type of mind or people in a certain condition of society, and it has become the official creed of a great nation. It is a propagandist creed, and its adherents seek to force their creed on other nations. Russian Communism is distinctively Russian. Communism is an old word with very respectable antecedents. This particular form of Communism is Russian Communism, an economic doctrine wedded to the policy of a backward State, which has but very slight appeal to those who have experience of Western civilisation but makes a strong appeal to backward peoples who have never known anything better. [Laughter.] This is a serious statement. It behoves us all to remember that, because the policy that this country is pursuing with regard to the less advanced countries of the world for which we have 618 responsibility must be to see that we raise the standards of those peoples so that they can appreciate what a free and democratic life means rather than that they Should fall a victim to totalitarianism. Like all fanatical movements, Communism has certain advantages. It has a single narrow outlook. It sees everything in black and white, or rather in black and red.
It is rather like the attitude of the early adherents of Islam. Every one outside it is an infidel. The orders from Moscow are obeyed, not only by the satellite countries, but by Communist parties in other countries. There is just one party line; there is no room for thought or other views, although, of course, they are required to bless one day what they have cursed the day before. But there is here a tremendous driving force. Now we can, and we wish to have the friendliest relations with the people of Soviet Russia. We can have the friendliest relations with the Communist State. There is no quarrel between our peoples but we are not prepared to accept Communism. We are resolutely opposed to the Communist way of life. The police State is utterly repugnant to the people of Western Europe who have enjoyed freedom for so long—[Interruption.] I am sure it would be equally repugnant to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) if he actually went to live in Russia. Knowing as we do in this House his genial nature, I do not think that he would last long.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I have been in Russia a number of times, and I have behaved in Russia in exactly the same way as I behave here.
§ The Prime Minister
The hon. Member is much more fortunate than a large number of prominent politicians in Russia, whom I can remember being held up to me as examples of great democratic Socialists about 20 years ago, and a few years afterwards they all seem to have been traitors.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, liquidated. We shall not try to foist our system on the Soviet Union, but equally we demand that they should not try to foist theirs on us. I am quite sure that Mr. Stalin is enough of a realist to appreciate the complete failure during the difficult interwar years of the Communist creed to 619 make any effective advance in this country. Therefore, he should give up that idea that somehow or other this country is going to turn to Communism. But we who believe in freedom have to evoke an equal enthusiasm and an equal loyalty to our own ideals. We are opposed to the Communist conception of uniformity. Diversity, the essence of democracy, is difference of opinion, free discussion, toleration of other people's point of view, and the world we want to see is a world in which there is a number of diversified and different units as compared with the Communist world in which they try to make Bulgaria and Yugoslavia little copies of Russia.
Yet, if Western civilisation is to stand against this ideological assault—I am talking in terms of influence and ideas not of war and of bombs and guns—it must obtain a degree of unity. But if we attempted to get uniformity it would defeat the very object which we have in view. I naturally desire to see all countries embracing the principle of Democratic Socialism, because I believe that here is a dynamic counter to Russian Communism, but it is no part of Socialist policy to force Socialism upon other nations. Here again I do not look for uniformity but for diversity. Other countries will find the kind of economic arrangements which suit the characteristics of their people and their countries. What we want is the same spirit. Further, I do not take a static view of society. I do not think that when a large part of land and capital has been nationalised, one says, "Here is a finish; we have Socialism and there is nothing more to be done." I do not hold that view of finality; I believe that all communities are in a state of becoming.
In all the free countries of Europe today there is a mixed economy in course of evolution, and, I believe, evolving towards Social Democracy. The Scandinavian States have many very fine achievements to their credit. We have had great experiments in our Southern Dominions, outside Europe. And even the United States of America have the remarkable example of the T.V.A. But I am not claiming that all these States are likely to go Socialist tomorrow, or even to have Socialist majorities. [An HON. MEMBER: "Perhaps some will give it up."] That is quite possible. I be- 620 lieve they will all work together, and that, despite these differences, there is one point they all have in common—a point well brought out by my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry. They all believe that, in the modern world, we must have a planned economy. I think they all increasingly recognise that the national plan in each country must be fitted into a wider plan, a plan for Europe and a plan for the world. Therefore, that 19th century conception of a self-acting anarchic economic system of private enterprise is dead today. I really doubt whether today many of the more experienced hon. Members opposite hold that we could go back to the kind of economic system which flourished in the middle of the 19th century, despite some of the remarks of the hon. Member the senior Burgess for Cambridge University.
But there is here a point which unites us all in Western Europe—we have a common interest in the economic field. None, I think, of the countries of Western Europe, if it wants a full life, can imagine itself being completely self-contained. We are not a continent like the United States of America or Russia. Europe is composed of a number of small countries, and, even if they all come together, they are not economically complementary. There comes in the point which my right hon. Friend stressed, the importance of Africa and Asia, and also the importance of the close economic relations with the Western Hemisphere. There is another thing which unites us—equally important—and that is the recognition of human rights. The United Nations Organisation is devoting much time to working out a charter of human rights, and that is good work. But it is still better to accord these rights to human beings. In the countries of Eastern Europe, whose representatives attend U.N.O., these human rights are disregarded. In the long fight of the working class, there have been many battles for human rights, freedom of speech, conscience, public meeting, the vote, personal freedom, the right of association and the right to work.
§ The Prime Minister
In the Socialist movement, we revere the fighters for all this freedom, a great many of whom came from right outside our own ranks. In 621 the old days, when we assessed the progress of the workers in the various countries, these things were taken into account. It is curious that there should be people who claim to be on the Left, and who deny those rights to their fellows. It is still more curious that there should be some would-be Left-wingers who shut their eyes to the absence of human rights when they look to Eastern Europe. Those people who deny human rights have no right to claim that they are in the van of human progress. The only van they are in is the police van, and in the field of human rights today Russia and Eastern Europe are right at the back end of the queue. I was amazed at the effrontery of the hon. Member for West Fife in appealing to the memory of the leaders of the Peasant Revolt, Charles James Fox and William Morris. Charles James Fox stood against kings, but he also clenched his fist against the French aggression when it came under the rule of Napoleon, and William Morris was the last man in the world who would ever have bowed to any Marxian authority.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, I think he could have said that to some in Russia as well as here.
The Leader of the Opposition referred, in a very moving passage in his speech, to the sufferings of the innumerable humble people who only desired to be allowed to live in peace—
§ The Prime Minister
And freedom These people are for ever in our minds when discussing foreign affairs. In view of the great economic stringency, and we are only too well aware of the precarious and low standards in Western Europe, there are great difficulties in Germany. We are doing our best to help them, and we will do what we can, though what we can do is limited. The 622 main burden of administration now rests on the Germans themselves, but it has been made plain that we will give them power and authority to take such measures as they consider essential to ensure efficient administration. I would here add a word to encourage the Minister-President of Rhine-Westphalia and the trade unions in the difficult task which they have got. If we are to bring help to these people we need help from the Western Hemisphere.
I cannot understand how people can oppose the Marshall Plan when they have nothing whatever to put in its place, unless they are prepared to march towards the realisation of their ideas through the death and starvation of millions. How are we to try to bring peace, security and prosperity to these millions? Not by imposing a way of life upon them but by saving them to live their own way of life. But just as we know that political freedom and security from war can only be attained in the larger organisation of the United Nations, and, within that larger organisation, smaller groupings, so we must have a planned economy for the world, an economy in which we shall not be the sport of gamblers but in which we shall try to see that the supplies in the various parts of the world move where they are most required. Herein lies the importance of this departure. My right hon. Friend has always kept his feet firmly on the ground in dealing with economic matters. Here, in this country, we have a chance of giving a great lead because we are showing how what amounts to a social revolution can be brought about by peaceful and democratic means. We are showing how we can get an overall economy without sacrificing human rights and liberty. That is the work we have before us today.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.