§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
As I listened yesterday to a number of speeches in the Debate, one dominant reflection was left in my mind, as I think it must have been in the minds of Members in all parts of the House—how fantastically horrible it is that almost exactly three years from the day of victory we should be making speeches in this House and once again mentioning the word "war." It is fantastically horrible but perhaps it is better than that we should drift into actual conflict in part because we do not understand. It would be wrong in my judgment if this knowledge of the deterioration of our situation were to induce anything in our minds of the nature of fatalism. I do regard the present international situation as very dangerous, but I do not regard it as desperate, and the purpose of my few comments this afternoon is to try to put before the House some considerations which I hope will be regarded as constructive in character.
I will first say a few words about the Motion on the Order Paper and the Amendments.
§ [That, in the opinion of this House, steps should now be taken, in consultation with the other members of the British Commonwealth, to create in Western Europe a political union strong enough to save European democracy and the values of Western civilisation, and a trading area large enough, with the Colonial Territories, to enable its component parts to achieve economic recovery and stability;
§ That for this purpose there should be an emergency policy designed to secure immediate and effective co-operation between the countries of Western Europe, and a long-term policy designed to bring into being a federation of Europe;
§ That the emergency policy should establish forthwith a Council of Western Europe consisting of representatives of the governments of the sixteen participating countries in the European Recovery Plan, and Western Germany, to lay down 1271 the broad lines of common action; that the Council should have power to set up permanent international staffs to coordinate the social, economic and defence policies; that the first and most important task of the economic staff would be to frame concrete proposals for the stabilisation of the currencies of Western Europe, for the development of trade, for the execution of the European Recovery Plan, for a comprehensive production plan, including agriculture and the heavy industries, and for Colonial development; that the necessary staffs should act under the direction, and by the authority, of the Council of Western Europe, and should be in continuous session;
§ That the long-term policy should be to create a democratic federation of Europe, with a constitution based on the principles of common citizenship, political freedom, and representative government, including u charter of human rights; that such a federation should have defined powers with respect to such matters as external affairs, defence, currency, customs, and the planning of production, trade, power and transport; and that to achieve this objective, the governments of the states of Western Europe should take steps to convene, as soon as practicable, a constituent assembly composed of representatives chosen by the Parliaments of the participating states, to frame a constitution for such a federation.]
§ The conception of European unity is, of course, not new. It has never been quite dead since the days of the Roman Empire when, it is a sobering reflection to recollect, a man might travel and trade between the Scottish Border and North Africa, even perhaps to the Sudan, with security both for his person and his property. Throughout the Middle Ages under the Roman Church, at least until the period of the Reformation, the inhabitants of Europe still thought in terms of a United Christendom, and still regarded themselves in some sense as citizens of Europe.
§ The Reformation and the bloodthirsty conflicts that followed broke up this unity until M. de Sully, the famous Minister of King Henry IV of France in the early years of the 17th century put forward the first concrete proposals for forming a United States of Europe in what he 1272 called his "Grand Design." Despite dynastic wars and national rivalries this idea persisted. In more recent times two major attempts by Germany to impose her own form of unity on Europe have been foiled, but each of these in turn left behind it political fears, economic misery and general demoralisation to an extent which could scarcely have been imagined by the dwellers of Europe at the beginning of this century. The tragedy of it all is that the more patent the political and economic interdependence of nations, the sharper have become the national rivalries and antagonisms.
§ As the House knows, I have always been in favour of closer relations between the Western Powers, and, as many members of the present Government know, conversations on this subject had already taken place in general terms before the war ended. There were, however, difficulties in making progress then, one of which was that the exiled Governments quite rightly from their point of view felt some hesitation in committing themselves without fresh contact with their own electorates. Therefore, there is much in the terms of this Motion with which I personally agree. The account which the Foreign Secretary gave us yesterday showed that steady progress is being made with Western Union in many spheres. That is all to the good, and we shall look forward to further accounts from time to time.
§ The fact that the result of the pursuit of this policy must be to bring us closer to the nations of Western Europe underlines the essential importance of the position of the British Commonwealth and Empire in relation to these discussions. For us in this House as a whole the welfare of the Commonwealth and Empire must always be the first consideration. This is paramount. I hope, therefore, that the Prime Minister will be able this afternoon to give us some information about the conversations which must undoubtedly have taken place on these questions with our great partners overseas. We have seen the speeches of Field-Marshal Smuts and, if I remember rightly, Mr. Mackenzie King warmly supporting the conception of the Western European Union, and I have no doubt the Governments of the Commonwealth are not only being kept informed at every stage of these discussions but, as the right 1273 hon. Gentleman said yesterday, being consulted.
§ It is indeed absolutely essential that in an endeavour on this scale and of this kind, and as the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday, a fresh development of British policy, the Empire should be with us at every stage. That is one reason why I should myself have some reservations about this Motion which is on the Order Paper. I am anxious that the closest possible relationship should be established between ourselves and the other nations of Western Europe, but there is one condition to such progress which must be absolute, and it is that the Empire is with us in the conception and the execution of that plan at every stage.
§ I would hope that it might be possible in the reasonably near future to have a conference of Empire statesmen on these matters. I know, as the Prime Minister will admit, what are the difficulties in arranging such a meeting; elections, the inevitable concomitant of true democracy, take place at different times and in different parts of the Empire and there are many other obstacles. Still there have been such meetings before at critical times in our history and they have been invaluable—invaluable, may I say, in particular to the Foreign Secretary of the day. In these days of the full exchange of information with the Dominions it is possible to obtain from these discussions with Empire statesmen a point of view that is not only fully informed but fresh, given from a different angle and backed by unrivalled experience. The Prime Minister, I know, would agree, as would his right hon. Friend sitting beside him, how much help it was in the war to us to have that historic meeting of Empire statesmen. The problems which the House is now considering are equally as important as any in the war in relation to the future of the world. I very much hope, therefore, that such a meeting may soon be possible, and I am in full agreement with what was said last night by the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) on this subject.
§ There is another consideration which must never be absent from our thoughts. It is essential when we are examining, as we are invited to do today, projects for closer relations between whole continents or any parts of them that we should not lose sight for one instant of the fact that 1274 there will be no real peace and a true sense of security in any part of the world unless and until there is acceptance by the nations of a rule of law, and unless a world authority is in being which is itself respected and can maintain that rule of law. Unhappily, we are far from that state of affairs today. Our world is rapidly contracting in size, and more and more should it be apparent from recent experiences that one single part of the world cannot hope for long to remain at peace or to command prosperity if other sections of it are torn by conflict and shadowed by economic ruin.
§ Therefore, my first caution in respect both of the right hon. Gentleman's speech and the Motion on the Order Paper is that in considering these various regional agreements we must never forget the world aspect of our problem. When there is an effective world organisation regional organisations can be an invaluable buttress to the world organisation. When the world organisation is not effective, regional agreements, however good they may be, are only a second best. That I am afraid is the grim reality, but it does not absolve from the task of seeking to increase a sense of security and with it a volume of trade and material prosperity in those areas where we have a special responsibility. Therefore, I for one would cordially support our efforts to co-ordinate and strengthen the economic, political and military agreements between the nations of the West.
§ I was glad, but I was not altogether surprised, to note that the Foreign Secretary said nothing at all yesterday to indicate that in his belief the Western Union must have any party political basis whether Socialist or otherwise. Of course, we are all of us free to hope that there will be majorities in these various Western European lands which correspond to our own Political faith wherever we may happen to sit in this House. Surely the essential is that the people of those lands shall be free to make their own choice as between one political party and another. That, we maintain, is what distinguishes the countries west of the Iron Curtain from those behind it.
§ I say to the Prime Minister, and I hope that he will agree, that it is quite untrue to suppose that in international affairs Socialists in the Government of one country cannot work with, let us say, 1275 Christian Democrats or Radicals or Conservatives in the Government of another. Perhaps I may give my personal experience. I never felt any difficulty in working at San Francisco with the Prime Minister himself or with Mr. Spaak, recently Socialist Prime Minister of Belgium, who has contributed a good deal to international goodwill in many spheres; or, in earlier years, with Mr. Blum, of course a Socialist. Equally, I am sure that the present Foreign Secretary does not feel any great difficulty when he is in discussion with the present Prime Minister of France or the present French Foreign Secretary, neither of them being Socialists, or in his conversations with Mr. Marshall. One has to be very careful in these matters. The truth is that there are many variants of Socialists and of Conservatives, and indeed of Liberals too. It is only the Communists who are all of one complexion. That is surely the fundamental difference between the totalitarian philosophy and the free philosophy.
It is so easy to delude oneself, as did so many Socialists at the last General Election, when they thought because they were Socialists they were best fitted to co-operate more and more closely with Soviet Russia. I never could understand that particular line of reasoning. I would remind the House now of some words of M. Herriot, which I quoted as a warning at the time of the General Election. He used them upon his release from German captivity, and I believe his words to be profoundly true. They were:
In foreign policy … you can do nothing constructive it you subordinate that policy to considerations of home policy.
I mention all these matters not in connection with the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday at all, but because of the strange writings which have appeared from time to time in leading articles of the "Daily Herald" lately. For instance, on 29th April last, I read these words:
We Socialists have a distinctive attitude to questions of European unity.
[An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Rather a timid bird. I ask the Prime Minister to tell us when he replies, how is that attitude distinctive? In what way, for instance, does it differ from mine, or from the attitude of non-Socialist Ministers in Western Europe with whom all these negotiations have to take place? On the
very next day, the "Daily Herald" went a little further and said:
Why, then, should any British Socialist blur his party's attitude and confuse public opinion by joining an unrepresentative Congress which includes bitter opponents of Socialism?
§ I would like to reply to that. I think that he should join because we seek the same things in Western Union. We seek the same results in foreign policy which the Foreign Secretary is at this time trying to pursue. Incidentally, there will be many distinguished Socialists present from all the countries in Western Europe. It is a misfortune for Europe, and it is confusing to opinion on the Continent, that the Government have adopted this attitude towards the Hague Conference. Surely, if we think we are going to be able to unite Europe it is a little unfortunate if we cannot even unite ourselves on an occasion when we happen all to agree. However that may be, let us hope that out of the considerable effort which is being put into The Hague Congress by many people of all parties and from many lands, including Socialist representatives from the other Western European countries, some constructive and helpful outcome will result which will assist the right hon. Gentleman in his efforts. If so, we shall all be more than content.
There is something a little ungrateful in the attitude to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). I have the record here—it is not secret—of one of Mr. Marshall's interviews at the Press conference when he had just announced what has since been called the European Recovery Programme. It is worth inflicting it upon the House because of some of the answers given by Mr. Marshall. This extract is:
(Q.) Could we go one step beyond—was the idea of shifting the initiative to Europe entirely an American idea, or did we get some indication from Europe that future overall planning for reconstruction would be better, rather than by piecemeal?—(A.) No, we did not receive any indications—direct to us, that is. There had been discussion over there. Mr. Churchill had made some announcement about a United Europe. There had been other announcements of that kind. That was the situation as various proposals had developed but none of them had been brought to us direct.—(Q.) Mr. Secretary, Churchill's pronouncement for a United Europe envisaged, did it not, a political purpose for a United Europe?—(A.) Yes.—(Q.) You are not implying that we are following the
Churchillian idea of a western political bloc?—(A.) We are following the proposition of their getting together in some way that will make it possible to try to restore the economy of Europe and on how there is political, that depends.
That shows that Mr. Marshall's initiative was not uninfluenced by the initiative of my right hon. Friend. That is all I have to say about The Hague business for the moment. I only hope that the result will gratify the Government in such a way that we can all forget that attitude before the Congress takes place.
§ There is a further reflection that one ought to make when considering this question of Western Union. I believe that in the present state of the world there can be no more direct contribution to the maintenance of peace than the recovery and the prosperity, and with it the international authority, of the Western European nations. We want to stand on our own feet again and to do that not only for reasons of self-respect, but also because it is thus that we can make our best contribution to peace. We have also, I regret to say, to accept the fact that in present conditions to build up the strength of the western democracies must include co-ordinating and reinforcing their joint military effort. There is no escape from this in the world as it is today. In this connection my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) made some realistic observations yesterday. Nor do I consider that by ourselves alone—by "ourselves" I mean the western European Powers—we can bring our defences to that standard of security which is an indispensable guarantee of peace. For that, we shall need the help of the United States.
That does not mean that we ought not to get together in Europe to contribute the most that we can. Having done that, we should be most encouraged by the words that President Truman used in Congress a few weeks ago. He said this:
I am sure that the determination of the free countries in Europe to protect themselves will be matched by an equal determination on our part to help them to do so.
I should like to be assured, if possible by the Prime Minister today, that, so far as the Western European nations are concerned, every effort is being made to integrate our plans and our production effort so that there is the greatest economy as well as efficiency in the joint use of our
manpower, of our raw materials, of our industrial power and of our geographical situation.
§ This brings me to what is the fundamental problem of this Debate, the policy of the Soviet Union, and it relates directly to the Motion which is on the Paper. It has always been part of the Communist ideology that what they call the capitalist world, which appears to be any particular part of the world that is not Communist, is tottering to its fall. I have asked myself many times in the last year or two, do the men in the Kremlin really believe today that the Western way of life is doomed? It is hard to believe that they really think that, especially when they contemplate the vast efforts, for instance, which the United States is making to rebuild the economy of Europe, a plan in the benefits of which, let us remember, the Soviet Union and her satellites were all invited to share. And if the Soviet Government does not believe this, then it is surely running great risks and hazarding peace in acting as if it did.
§ No doubt today there are great strains and stresses within the Soviet economy; that must be inevitable after the supreme effort that Soviet Russia made in the last war and after the wide devastation that the German armies caused. Yet is it really necessary, in order to explain those problems to the Soviet people, to pour out this daily barrage of abuse of the Western Powers and their representatives, and to pretend that they are antagonistic to the recovery of the Soviet Union? Maybe it is apprehension of the consequences of contact with the West that is the cause of this clear determination of the Soviet Union to break all these contacts and, in order to break them up, that this barrage of abuse continues day by day. Must the Soviet foreign policy continue to be based on this profound error of judgment? If it is, I fear that, however sincere our efforts, we shall not get far in restoring confidence between nations, because the Western way of life is not about to break up.
§ In all these projects which we are now considering for strengthening the Western nations, there is no provocation, there is no menace of war; on the contrary, cannot the Soviet Government rid itself of what appears to be this Communist obsession, if we are to judge by their own 1279 propaganda, as to the inevitability of war? It is they who always speak of this in their propaganda, and no one of us has the right to say that war is inevitable.
§ Mr. Eden
I say that no one of whatever nationality has the right to say that war is inevitable. The hon. Gentleman ought to distinguish between the daily Government propaganda of the Soviet Union and isolated, unwise voices in the United States of America. We never hear a single word of it from any responsible statesman in the United States, and we are bound to treat this propaganda as representing the view of the Government which emits it. The argument I have just used seems to me to be the only explanation of the Soviet Government's attitude to the Marshall Plan. The American Government invited the Soviet Government and the Eastern States to come in. M. Molotov refused to have anything to do with it because he claimed that the European Recovery Programme, to use his words, was:a violation of the sovereignty of European nations.He went further and exerted such pressure on his Eastern European neighbours that they also declined to come in—their mouths might have been watering, but they could not get any of the fruit. I believe that M. Molotov was wrong on two counts: first, because there must always be some merger of sovereignty in any common central organisation for any international purpose, whether it is to maintain peace or even to fight a war; secondly, if M. Molotov thought that the surrender of sovereignty was in some way being made to the United States Government, I should have thought that Mr. Marshall's address to the Senate in presenting his programme was a complete answer to that charge.
Let me sum up. There seem to me to be three conclusions to draw from this Debate which I present to the House. The first is this: that there is a well-nigh unanimous desire in all parts of the House 1280 for the conclusion at the earliest possible date of the most comprehensive, immediate and practical agreement between the Western European Powers, in association, we trust, in due course with the United States. Secondly, there is a sincere desire for improved relations with the Soviet Union, but an absolute refusal to seek such an improvement by courses of weak appeasement which would fail to recognise the real facts and forces that are at work. In this connection I was glad to hear, and I endorse entirely, the Foreign Secretary's observations on the subject of Berlin. In a situation such as this, there is more danger in standing on a slippery slope than in standing four square on your own rights.
The third conclusion I draw is this: a conviction that successful negotiations can yet be conducted with the Soviet Union, but only from a basis of strength, when the Soviet Government itself learns that neither by sapping nor mining, neither by abuse nor by sabotage, can it force the Western people to change their way of life. I believe that there are men in the Kremlin far-seeing enough to understand this. Having seen something of the devastation in Russia, I find it impossible to believe that there are no men among her leaders who do not feel how desperately urgent is that country's need for peace. We here in this House want her to enjoy such peace, but that can only be on a basis of mutual tolerance, respect and good faith. Then let the Soviet Government face these truths, and let them act upon them, and peace can be preserved, but they must surely understand that to persist in their present methods—such methods, for example, as they have been employing recently in Czechoslovakia and Berlin—is to risk an overwhelming calamity for themselves and, alas, an overwhelming calamity for the world.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Mackay (Hull, North-West)
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) opened his speech by saying that one of the tragedies which confronts us today is the fact, fantastic as it is, that three years after the end of the greatest war we have ever known, we are now talking about war again. That is a reflection which will meet with approval in all parts of the House. One conclusion from it is that the only alternative to war is government, and that the problem we 1281 are considering this afternoon is the problem of trying to expand the area of government in different parts of the world, particularly in Europe, so that we can avoid a recurrence of this type of war. The English, the Scots and the Welsh do not bother to fight one another; they use the political machinery given to them in a Parliament to resolve their difficulties. As a good Scot I might have said that, of course, the Scots do not bother to fight the English anyway because they do not think it is worth while, but the real answer is that they have merged their sovereignty and have come together in a union, not in a co-ordinating committee, which provides political machinery which they can work properly. It is from that point of view I want to approach the problem this afternoon.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we have to think of this in terms of world government, but that is a long way off, because world government will only come when we are able to give to a world authority real power. In Malaya, on the grave of a number of British soldiers, there is a headstone which says:For your tomorrow we have given our today.Some of us remember the phrases coined at the end of the first World War when we were going to build a world safe for democracy, and so on. I have never thought those phrases were hypocritical, because people were genuinely trying to build an organisation which would eliminate war. However, the period between the two wars has demonstrated that the machinery created then was inadequate, as the machinery—U.N.O.—that we have today. The machinery created between the two wars was, in the first place, too big. It threw responsibilities on the countries that they were unprepared to take. It also had no power. We should not have needed to prepare for the second World War if the League of Nations had had adequate power at that time. Also it had no capacity for dealing with social change. Society is not static, and if there is to be world government it must be able to deal with social change and the problems which social change involves.
So we have not yet solved this problem, and I want to suggest to the House that its solution has to be taken step by step. However, we must know the kind of 1282 steps we are taking. If we think the solution will be in a society like the League of Nations or U.N.O. which, after all, is a body based on the fantastic conception of the equal sovereignty of independent States—as if Albania was equal in sovereignty with Brazil or North America, a conception which is fantastic—if we think that, if we are to go on with a body of that kind, we are not providing the solution of the problem in that way.
I want to refer to the Motion on European Union which stands in my name and that of about 190 other hon. Members in this House, and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Lord President and the "usual channels" for seeing that facilities have been made available to discuss this Motion, although it will not be moved. I would like to make it clear that the terms of the Motion are intended to suggest a solution to the problem we are discussing. The paragraphs of the Motion are not distinct and independent as some hon. Members have said. It provides for one scheme—a federation of Europe—to be achieved in two stages. We must have a political union. England, Scotland and Wales represent a union, America is a union. A union does not mean a League or a United Nations, or a "Continuing Committee" for they are not unions. If we are to use this phrase, let us see that in using it we understand what we mean, and that we do not talk about things which do not apply or have no significance in the sense we are using them. Surely the history of the period between the two wars should guide us not to use phrases which do not have the same meaning for all people. The illusions about collective security, disarmament and all the other such phrases are enough to indicate to us how careful we should be in choosing our words.
If we talk about Western Union, do not let us think that a co-ordinating committee is a union, because it is not, though it may be a step towards it. The fundamental thing which comes out of this Motion, is that it suggests a political union, an economic union, so that we can get a big trading area in Western Europe and the immediate creation of a council of European Ministers. It suggests as well a constituent assembly of some kind, not to settle a form of constitution like that which the Americans or Russians have, but so that an opportunity can be given 1283 to people to discuss the form of political organisation to be devised in the future for the proper working of the federation of Europe and the United States of Europe.
That is what the Motion means, and in relation to it I wish to ask three questions of the Prime Minister, who I understand is to speak later in the Debate. I want him to indicate whether the Government generally approve of the ideas in the Motion. I am not asking that he should agree with every word of it, or accept the Motion as such. That would be an improper suggestion. I want him to say whether the ideas in it are such as the Government consider would be for the benefit not only of this House and of this country, but of Europe, and whether he is able to say that it is the sort of idea upon which we should be working. The French and the Dutch have put down similar resolutions to be discussed in their Assemblies, and similar resolutions are being considered in most of the other Parliaments of Western Europe. It is important that the attitude of the House of Commons should be made quite clear. Obviously I do not ask the Government to say that they agree With the Motion in toto, but whether they accept the general underlying idea in the Motion, which contends that union does mean the creating of an authority for Europe and that machinery should be devised whereby the necessary federal or other authority can be created.
Two further questions arise from it, and on the first I would like to get an unequivocal answer from the Government. It is whether they are prepared to transfer the sovereignty of this country to another authority, whether we are prepared to face the problems of union which means merging into a wider sovereignty. Are we prepared to pool our sovereignty, our currency or Customs, for example, with other countries and give it to a European authority. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington raised the question of a wider authority, a world authority, and I agree with what he said. He also raised the question of the Dominions. Perhaps I have some special reason for agreeing with him because I come from one of the Dominions, and I know what the feeling in the Dominions is. The Motion says that we want to do this in consultation with the Dominion's. 1284 I have always taken the view that if this country went into Europe in some kind of economic and political union, it would enlarge the field of activity for the Dominions. Is there any reason why the Commonwealth should be a static organisation which does not try to grow into something bigger and better for the world? Is there not something in the way in which it grew up in the 18th and 19th centuries which is a pattern which could be taken by Europe? If we unite the countries of Western Europe, particularly those on the fringe, on the west coast, we will unite at once the whole of the colonial territories of Africa. That means uniting a very large area indeed. Will the Prime Minister let us know exactly where we are in regard to the question of sovereignty?
Thirdly, will he also consider in conjunction with the French and other countries convening a European Assembly at which Members of Parliament from all European countries can sit together for two or three months to work out a method or way in which there might be some kind of union between the European Powers? There would be nothing binding in what they did. It would have to come back to the Parliaments for ratification. Is not the time arriving for something like that to be done? We have 12 months before the European Recovery Programme has to be re-voted. The Americans will want to know what the European States are doing to bring themselves into some kind of organisation of a political nature. What is going to be done about it? It seems to me that a lot of people in this House and in the other Parliaments of Western Europe could well spend two or three months of the next 12 months in discussing the economy of Europe and the way in which such a political union can be brought about.
Now I come to the speech of the Foreign Secretary yesterday. It raised questions of a very important character, some in conflict with some of the things I have been saying and which I wish to say. I think it right that we should pay tribute to the Foreign Secretary for the way in which he took up the Marshall offer, the drive he gave to see that it went through, bringing the nations of Western Europe together, and the lead given in order to get going the organisation which exists at present. But when we come to the fundamental question of the Debate he said, dealing with the Brussels Treaty: 1285The Treaty provided for the closest co-operation of the partners in economic, financcial, social, cultural and military matters;It is quite true to say that, but the Locarno Treaty also provided for co-operation in military matters, and that did not keep us out of the second world war. May I remind hon. Members of the request made by M. Flandin to Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, for the implementation of the guarantees in that Treaty? It did not result in any action. As the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, we discount treaties today, and that is the point. Treaties are inadequate, for they only provide for nations to act together if they wish to do and never for action where they do not agree. The Foreign Secretary went on:It did not provide for union in the sense of some pooling of sovereignty or the creation of a European federated state.A little later he said:Meanwhile, the only course open to us is to unite voluntarily what can be united, merging national interests so far as possible into the common pool. We have no intention, however, of being diverted from the great practical task to which we have set our hands by any academic discussions about sovereignty.He also said:The people must have a clear idea of the objectives we seek to attain.We are not going to discuss academic questions of sovereignty, thoughthe people must have a clear idea of the objectives we seek to attain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th May, 1948; Vol. 450, c. 1118–22.]There is a great inconsistency between those statements and I want to look at the idealistic approach, which the right hon. Gentleman criticised so heavily yesterday in regard to the whole question of European union. I would deal with it in two ways, and I propose to bring in evidence first a person not regarded as a practical person and second one who is very much a practical person. One of the most illuminating books of recent times, a posthumous book by Professor Delisle Burns on "The First Europe" analyses the way in which the first European Empire was built up. There appears in the introduction this interesting passage:The settlement of 1919 failed because of archaism, not utopianism. The peace settlement of 1919"—and I might interpolate of 1945 as well— 1286collapsed, not because those who supported it were moved by ideals which were too exalted for practical politics, but because both the idealists and the practical politicians were thinking in terms of sovereign States—terms which belonged to the Renaissance and were archaic in the twentieth century, exactly as the conception of a centralised Europe was obsolete in the ninth century. The history of the Dark Ages, however, shows how difficult it is for any age to escape from the ghosts that haunt the graves of the past.I would remind the Foreign Secretary that there was a day when anyone asking for full employment would have been regarded as an idealist. It happens to be considered today a practical idea, by people on this side of the House. We used to think that it was idealistic, but we have been able to get rid of the ghosts of the past. Sovereignty is the same; it is an idea which is completely out of date. There will be hon. Members who will argue that national sovereignty does not create a war, but surely it creates the conditions from which war arises? The conditions between the wars created unemployment in Germany without which the second world war would never have come, and it created conditions in Italy which led to unemployment which undermined democratic government there. It is very practical to realise that the merging of national sovereignty in an area like Europe is a problem which we have to face.
Another consideration I would bring to the notice of the House in this problem of idealism is something written quite recently, not by Sir Oliver Franks but by his assistant in Paris and Washington, Mr. A. D. Marris, one of the ablest and most practical economists, who cannot be regarded as a starry-eyed idealist in any sense. He is a managing director of Lazard's Bank and was second in command of the British Delegation in Paris and Washington. In an address he gave at Chatham House only a few weeks ago he made it very clear that we have first to decide the things we want to do. The Foreign Secretary said yesterday that we must be clear what our aims are, and if our aims are only to go about creating a committee which can discuss different problems and a co-ordinating committee, that is not sufficient. But if our aims are bigger things, the problem of moving working populations to and from different parts of Europe has to be faced. The surplus population of Italy must be moved to 1287 Switzerland, to France and to Britain. That is what has to be done. Apart from important movements of population, there is the planning of industries, the planning of the coal industry and of steel and of the aeroplane industry if we wish to go as far as that, and also the problem of planning agriculture. If we could make Italy, France and Britain have the same amount of agricultural production per worker in the next five years as Denmark has today, we should be getting rid of part of our dependence on the Western Hemisphere which exists at present.
Again, there is the problem of national investment, which is becoming more and more apparent. Only a few days ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer went to Belgium to discuss, no doubt, important financial problems of the Benelux countries. Four or five of them are in debt to Belgium, while France is in debt to us, and although we had a treaty with her she did not get any better terms in regard to freezing sterling balances than the other countries. As these economic and financial matters are affecting different countries in the Benelux group, they are increasing the gaps in the balance of payments, reducing trade and making the difficulties much worse. Only think of the things we need to do if we want to plan investment, agriculture and industries of Europe, and to try to bring about a real economic development in Europe and to plan the dollar pool, which is the most important of the lot. We want something more than a co-ordinating committee, which has no power to deal with these matters in the proper way. Mr. Marris said, and I repeat he is no starry-eyed idealist, but a practical person:A 'Continuing Organisation' would only have the requisite power if it were the properly constituted executive of the Federal Government of the countries of Western Europe, which had merged their national sovereignties in the wider sovereignty of Western Europe.That is a considered opinion by one of the people who has had more to do with the economic programme than anyone else. He also says:That they should do this is not now contemplated either within the framework of the Marshall Plan or of Western Union and therefore a policy in which their economies are fully integrated will not now be pursued.I suggest that the whole question we are considering is that of facing up to the 1288 issue of sovereignty and the fact that if European Union is to grow into an organisation of any value, it must be one with executive power, an organisation of an executive under some kind of federal authority which draws its authority from the people of the different countries, and that only by having such an authority can we secure the planning of European recovery which is required. Having said that, may I just say in emphasis that it may be that these are all steps in that direction? If that is so that is all to the good, but it is very important, as the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, that we should keep our aim well ahead and understand what we are trying to secure.
There are two arguments I should like to put in favour of the view I hold. The first is obviously the political argument. Surely the time has arrived for people in this country and in Europe to realise that democracy in a small area where there are a lot of democracies is an unstable form of government. The political machinery and the vote represent one aspect of democracy, the political one, but we have to realise that social security, social justice, equality of opportunity, etc., are equally important in the democratic scheme. At the same time, if the area of one country is too small it makes for instability. There is a federal element in democracy as well. In the twentieth century the great countries, in the sense of those with higher productivity and wealth are the countries with large units—the United States and the Soviet Union. We have to bring about the same sort of thing in regard to Europe.
We have to ask ourselves whether we want a federal solution or a solution like the League of Nations or U.N.O. If we believe in the federal solution, and if we realise that we have to create an authority to which to transfer power for the whole of Western Europe, we are beginning to get a solution of this problem. The problem will not be solved unless we have some kind of federal union. Take the position in Germany. Under the present plan, exports in 1948 are to amount to 600 million dollars but to be self-supporting, Western Germany should have exports of 2,000 million dollars. Her coal production was 94 million tons in 1947 and is to be 110 1289 million tons in 1948, but 152 million tons are required to make her self-supporting. In the case of steel, her production in 1947 was 3 million tons and is to be five million tons in 1948, but if she is to be self-supporting a production of 11 million tons is needed. We shall not get that increased production in Germany under the European Recovery Plan so long as France and other countries are frightened that Germany can become a big military Power again. The only solution is to merge the sovereignty of Western Germany into the sovereignty of Western Europe. That would bring 40 million Germans into an area of 270 million people, thus taking away the risk of Germany being able to fight another world war. Such a step would enable the fullest production to be encouraged in that country.
The political arguments in favour of a federated Western Europe are almost legion, and I do not want to go over them now. Other Members will doubtless be dealing with them in the course of the Debate. The fact remains, however, that we must realise that the development of the world is towards larger and not smaller areas. Some people will say that Europe is a Continent with a thousand years of civilisation, with different languages, ideas, cultures, etc., and because of that the countries of Europe cannot be brought together. No one is suggesting that because America came together Europe will do so in the same way. The fact is, however, that out of the 270 million people of Western Europe, 250 million are working people earning less than £5 a week. They have a great deal in common. They desire security, freedom from war, freedom from unemployment and decent opportunities for living. Those are good economic facts to unite people in a political organisation to try to bring about the things they desire.
The economic arguments for the federation of Western Europe are easily described. The problem we have to face today is that we are facing a changed position from that of the past. We have a great export drive in progress, and necessary as it is, everyone is coming to realise that it will not be enough to bridge the gap. There are today warehouses full of textiles which cannot be sold abroad because people have not the foreign currency with which to buy them. There 1290 was a cartoon on the subject in yesterday's "News Chronicle." It showed two people standing outside a clothing warehouse, which was full, one saying to the other, "What a pity it isn't fish. We could dump it into the sea." That is an atrocious position to which we are getting back, because production is going on in this country and we are finding it impossible to get the necessary import licences from other countries. So these goods cannot be sold, and yet there are people who want to buy British textiles and cannot afford to do so.
If we had a common currency for Europe we would not have this problem. There is no difficulty for someone in London buying from Edinburgh something he wants with English money because there is a common currency between England and Scotland. Yet it is difficult for British people in London to buy things in Stockholm because of the lack of a common currency between England and that country. A common European currency would remove all problems of foreign exchange, import licences and balance of payments. A customs union gets us nowhere. What we require is to get rid of import controls and quota controls, so that there can be free trade between the two areas.
§ Mr. Mackay
The noble Lord who is so enthusiastic about what I am saying must realise that the controls to which I am referring are not the controls that he has in mind. The controls which are operating in this country, and which provide people with fair shares, are perfectly proper, but import controls and matters of that nature which arise because of the exercise of sovereignty on the part of different States are entirely different. If we are to get rid of that kind of thing we have about four years, within the period of the Marshall Plan, to reorganise the economy of Europe, to get a common currency and get rid of the customs barriers in Europe and build up a big trading area. It is from that point of view that this matter should be considered.
We must face the fact that the twentieth century is different from the nineteenth century and that the position of Britain is different. We have to realise the fact that the troubles we are facing in relation 1291 to our overseas balance of payments are the troubles which every European country is facing. On political and economic grounds there is every reason why the ideas outlined in this Motion should be accepted by hon. Members of this House, and become the policy to be followed.
There is only one other thing I want to say but it is something which I can perhaps say a little better than some other hon. Members because I come from a country which has benefited from the extension of British ideas of government, and which has been given an opportunity to develop itself under British tutelage into a free country, standing on its own. I wonder if the people of this country and the Members of this House realise the enormous opportunity that is given to the British people today to give a lead to Europe? There is no other country which has the same moral authority at the present time in regard to creating some kind of organisation for Europe. Also, there is no other country which has the organising ability to do it. The European people are waiting for a lead from this country. In the last six months I have spent many weeks in many European countries. Wherever one goes, one finds people waiting for this kind of lead from Great Britain at the present time.
The question has been raised that if we go into this sort of organisation we have to face the problem of the British Commonwealth. That should not be an insoluble problem. I would say that we have ahead of us a great adventure, a great opportunity to work out a form of political organisation different from any which has previously existed. Let us apply our political genius to a new problem however difficult it may be. We must go into it in the way in which we have gone into things before, to work out for Europe this form of political organisation.
In his last speech 150 years ago Pitt told this country that they had resisted aggression by their exertions but that they would save Europe by their example. We have resisted aggression during recent years by the exertion of the people of this and other countries. Our opportunity now is to free Europe by our example, by giving a lead, by saying to the European people that we realise we are one of the States of Europe, 1292 and that we want to co-operate with them to the fullest extent, that we are prepared to modify our sovereignty and to build up a federation of Western Europe, a United States of Western Europe, in order to secure a stable area of 270 million people under one authority. If we exercise that authority now, and give that message to the European peoples at this time, we shall have made a greater contribution to the peace of this world and to the stability of Europe than it has ever been the lot of any generation of British people to give at any time.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I wish to bring out one or two aspects of this Motion to which, although it is not being moved today, reference has been made. There is the question which has been referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). The charge that is made against the promoters of this Motion is that we are leaving the Commonwealth behind. That is a charge which must be faced and met. I have no hesitation in meeting it because in the whole of my political life I have been devoted to the interests of the Commonwealth. I can claim as much experience and knowledge of the Commonwealth as most of the people who are trying to put forward the argument to which I have referred.
I have quite recently returned from a tour of Africa, and I am convinced of two things that have taken place as a result of the war. The Africans are both politically and socially conscious of their position in the world today, and their political and social conscience is far in advance of their economic development. Unless the balance between their economic development and their social and political consciousness is redressed there will be political differences and a great deal of unrest in those countries of the African Continent. We are experiencing it today in West Africa, and similar problems are being faced in other parts of Africa as a result of the war.
The Government have recently entered into a military alliance with France, Belgium, Holland and the other Benelux countries. I cannot conceive of any military alliance that includes those countries which does not include their African Colonies, because in the last war 1293 our African Colonies played a vital and important part. I maintain that had it not been for the aid of the West African and East African Colonies we might not have been able to win the war. They provided bases, food, men and materials at a time when we could not get them from other sources. Therefore, the military alliance which I understand has been entered into must be extended to the African Continent. In that sense, from a defence point of view, one might as well say that Africa is already in the European Alliance.
So far as the Dominions are concerned, one of the first people to give his blessing to the idea of a federal Europe was Field Marshal Smuts. He has been followed by Mr. Mackenzie King of Canada and Mr. Fraser of New Zealand. Mr. Chiffley made a statement yesterday which he qualified by saying that the Dominions are to be consulted in any steps that are taken. A complication to which he referred was that the Ottawa Agreement would have to be brought into consideration in relation to any European Union which was contemplated. So much for the Dominions. Another Dominion statesman, who I understand is tipped to succeed the present leader of the Liberal Party in Canada, has even gone further on the subject of European Union and has said in a speech that it should be extended to all democratic countries, including America. Why not? No doubt that will come.
Nevertheless, the problem confronting us today in the European Union is to try to see in what way we can make a contribution. I cannot conceive any European Union in which Britain does not play its part because, whether we like it or not, geography and history have placed Britain in Europe. So far as the Dominions and Colonies are concerned, twice in my lifetime—twice in the last quarter of a century—they have been brought into a war which they did not desire, a war which started in Europe. It is the duty of this country to exercise every possible effort in preventing another war, but unless steps are taken today, with other European countries, to check the onrush of militarism from Eastern Europe, there is no doubt in my mind that another war will be upon us. I, therefore, welcome the military alliance into which we have entered. I will even say that if this same alliance had existed before the last 1294 war, the last war might not have taken place. So much for the military and defence aspects of this problem.
What of the economic aspects of the Colonial and Commonwealth countries? The Colonial Empire today consists of some 40 administrations and about 62 million people. Of that number, 47 million are in Africa. About two-and-a-half million are in the West Indies and the remainder are in the Mediterranean and the Far East. In Africa today we are faced with very serious economic problems. What are these problems? In the first place, we shall have to face hunger and starvation in those Colonies unless greater agricultural production takes place in a very short time. That has been said by Sir Philip Mitchell, governor in Kenya, and other governors in Africa. I have just returned from a tour of West Africa and I was faced with that same situation—unless greater agricultural production takes place in the near future some of that territory will be faced with famine and starvation.
What do those territories require? In the first place, they must have adequate water supply. The crying need of the whole of Africa today is for adequate water supply, and I would suggest that a bad supply of water—in many cases water has to be carried for miles on people's heads—is responsible for a great deal of the disease which is rampant in those parts. Further, the African countries require a great deal of money to be spent on research to deal with pests, the tsetse fly, locusts and all those other things which confront the African countries. They have to develop railways and river transport. They have to get their communications under way. All those things which confront the British Colonies in Africa also confront our neighbours in Africa, who are at the same time our neighbours in Europe.
Therefore, so far as three-quarters of our Colonial Empire is concerned, these countries must be brought into any European Union which is to take place, because without the bases which Africa can provide from a defence point of view, without the food which Africa can supply, the fats and the oils, the minerals and the other things which she can contribute, we cannot possibly survive in this country. Few people realise that West Africa alone provided 40 per cent. of our 1295 fat ration in the last war. Today, they are growing groundnuts and providing other edible oils and are only too anxious to ship them. I saw 300,000 tons of groundnuts awaiting shipment. They could not send them to us because they had not enough railway engines and wagons.
Today the Government are spending millions of pounds developing the East African groundnuts scheme. It is, therefore, absolutely essential from an economic point of view that our Colonies should be brought into this Western Union. It is useless for us to spend millions of pounds on research and to try to deal with the pests of Africa if our neighbours, the Belgians, the French and the Portuguese, are taking no steps at all next door, in conjunction with us, to deal with these things. Disease, locusts and tsetse fly are not respecters of boundaries, and it is essential for these Colonial territories that the European countries which are responsible for the development of African countries should work together in order to develop them. I have no hesitation whatsoever in giving my wholehearted support to this Motion and to Western Union, because it is absolutely essential that not only European countries but African countries as well should get together as soon as possible and work out their salvation.
Turning to the rest of the Colonial Empire, in the West Indies there already exists a Caribbean Commission on which the United States, Britain, France and Belgium, are represented, and the United States have bases throughout the whole Caribbean area on lease for 99 years. In that sense, the Colonial Empire—or parts of it—is already committed to a union, and is likely to remain so committed for a very long time.
I have no hesitation in supporting this idea of a Western Union. I intend myself to go this weekend to The Hague where I am certain we shall find in the Conference representatives not only of politics, but of churches, religion, trade unions and the industries of the countries—including the Chairman of the National Farmers Union, who told me he was going. All these people are interested in this Union, and for the Socialist Party to ban this Conference is the 1296 most short-sighted thing I have ever heard. All the same, there will be a very representative gathering at The Hague and I hope, when they are there, they will be able to work out some form of constitution for the future development of this idea of Western Union. I am quite convinced that it will receive a great deal of support, not only in this country, but in all the countries of Europe.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Crawley (Buckingham)
In an interesting speech the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) dealt with a particular aspect of the problem, and I agreed with much of what he said, but I would like to add this caveat: any idea of developing, jointly or otherwise, all the Colonies of Africa as a substitute for economic development and co-operation in Europe is a dangerous one. One has heard people talk about Africa as if it offered an immediate solution to our difficulties in this country and to the difficulties of Western Europe. I am a firm believer in the development of Africa and in the co-operation of the whole of Europe to that end—
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I tried to convey the idea not as a substitute for European cooperation, but as complementary to the development of the Western Union.
§ Mr. Crawley
And I am emphasising that even as a complementary idea it will take a long time to achieve. Before coming to the one real point which I want to make, I would like to address one remark in passing to the Leader of the House. He rejected, stoically, the demand that we should have extra time for this Debate, and he has every right to do so. But I want to suggest to him, through my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, that it is perhaps time we considered not only the question of the time we should give to foreign affairs Debates, but also the very character of the Debates, because, surely, the relationship between domestic and foreign affairs is undergoing a very drastic change. We cannot today discuss our balance of payments without, in fact, speaking a great deal of Western Europe—we cannot discuss defence without speaking of the five Brussels Pact Powers—or indeed, about America.
I would suggest to the Leader of the House that in future we should begin to 1297 have regional discussions and to debate regionally some of these matters; instead of always debating the economic state of the nation, we might take the economic state of Western Europe as a subject, and when we discuss defence we should discuss not merely our own forces but inquire into the preparedness of Powers on whom we so entirely depend. Hon. Members representing the Foreign Office would take part in such Debates.
I would like to make one other observation, and that is on the speech of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in which he dealt very largely with the question of the Hague Conference. I would like to make this point. I think the real tragedy about The Hague Conference is the way in which the idea was born. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) had been as disinterested in the beginning as I have no doubt he is now in the matter, if he had really wanted The Hague Conference to be quite above party, it would obviously have been right to have approached the Labour Party first before calling the Conference, and to get the co-operation of the majority party in this House and in the country to begin with.
I have always had a great respect for the global approach of the right hon. Gentleman to many problems, and I am sure in his mind there is much disinterestedness in this matter, but I cannot help thinking also that in the first place there m as a sidetrack in his mind which saw the opportunity of making a great deal of party capital out of what is fundamentally a non-party ideal. I want to go further; even now, if the right hon. Gentleman really wants to use his unique position in Europe, in this country and in the world, to further Western Union, he should seriously consider whether he should not, in fact, resign his position as Leader of the Opposition in this country, and, having raised himself above party considerations, devote himself to the cause of Western Union. We on these benches would be sorry to see him go, but he would be doing both this country and the world a great service—
§ Mr. Michael Astor (Surrey, Eastern)
Is the hon. Member really suggesting that the Labour Party avoided the Hague Conference because of a hurt feeling, or of some petty vendetta in this matter?
§ Mr. Crawley
I would like further to say that I myself disagree with the view which the Labour Party has taken about the Hague Conference, but I obeyed the majority decision because I believe the right way to get the Labour Party to change its mind is to continue waging war from within.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
It is not a majority decision, but a caucus decision.
§ Mr. Crawley
I entirely approve of the idea that there is a distinctive Socialist approach to Western Union. I entirely approve the various organisations that are being set up among the Socialist parties of all countries in Europe, and I think it would be a very good thing if similar organisations were set up among other democratic parties, because just as the Socialists have some special influence to exert through trade unions and labour elements, so the Conservative Party have influence to exert through employers' federations and other bodies which will be affected by the whole idea of Western Union, and it is vitally necessary to exert it. But neither of these two functions should be exclusive. There are obviously many subjects essential to union which have to be tackled jointly on an all-party basis, and I appeal to the Labour Party—and to the Prime Minister—although it is too late to alter the decision about the Hague Conference, not to close their minds for the future on this subject. There are educative processes which can be carried out only on an all-party basis and amongst people of many countries.
For example, there is the question of sovereignty. The truth is, of course, that unless a country has economic sufficiency it has not absolute national sovereignty today. A country which depends on another for most of its food cannot have absolute sovereignty. Nor can absolute sovereignty exist where defence plans have been combined or arms production pooled. It is not, therefore, a question whether we have absolute sovereignty or not, but a question of how much further we are to merge our sovereignty with that of others, and in what form. That is obviously a question which must be debated on a non-party basis. It would be a tragedy if the Labour Party took too exclusive an attitude on that subject.
1299 The background of this Debate is our economic position, which in a sentence one can describe thus: this country, the richest of the countries of Western Europe, is running a dollar deficit which, if not corrected, will result in such depreciation of our currency that we shall be ruined in a very short time, and there will be unemployment and hunger on an unprecedented scale, not only here but in the other countries of Europe. It is against that background that the charge has been made that the Government are not tackling this question with sufficient urgency. The Foreign Secretary rightly pointed to the many things which he has done, and he can say quite truly that the first stages of a diplomatic revolution are always the most difficult and that much has been accomplished in the last nine months. He has created the machinery which brings Western Union into being, and I very much doubt whether, in all the difficulties that have existed, anyone could have done more. However, I think my right hon. Friend will agree that this is only a preliminary step, and that our survival, and the survival of Western Europe, depend not only upon the working of the machinery that has been set up, but on the speed with which it works from this time onwards.
One of the things that will retard that speedy working is the fact that in all the countries of Europe there are many people—well-informed people, and many politicians—who still believe that this country in its heart hopes to remain aloof from Europe in the end, or as much aloof as possible. Unless that belief is dispelled quickly, none of the machinery which the Foreign Secretary has taken the initiative in setting up will produce a solution in time to save us from economic ruin. I think that belief is based on three things; first, on the knowledge that we are members of the Commonwealth; secondly, on the knowledge that the only positive commitments we have so far made in connection with Europe are military; thirdly, on the knowledge that in planning and undertaking economic co-operation this country will have to make many of the largest sacrifices in the initial stages. There is still great uncertainty in Europe whether we are prepared to make those sacrifices, and whether the people of this country are aware that they will have to be made at all.
1300 I should like briefly to deal with those three considerations. The first is the least important, because it has been largely answered by the statements of the Dominion Governments, but I think that this wants reiterating: Britain can be of use to the Commonwealth only if she is prosperous; a declining Britain is of no value to the Commonwealth at all; and if Western Union is the salvation of Britain, and the only means by which we can survive, then Western Union is the only means by which the Commonwealth will be held together.
The Foreign Secretary says he sees nothing incompatible in the two ideas. That is a negative way of putting it. We ought to make it plain that in the view of this country Western Union is as vital to the Commonwealth as it is to us. It is for that reason that I reject the Amendment on the Order Paper, which states that we should enter into Western Union only with the agreement of members of the Commonwealth. Quite apart from the fact that that suggestion would mean fatal delays, it is unconstitutional. We did not wait for the agreement of the Commonwealth to enter war nor to enter into the Marshall Aid discussions. We have always, according to constitutional practice, to act in consultation with the Commonwealth.
As to the military commitments I would say this in passing. Of course, defence arrangements are absolutely necessary; but the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) in his speech yesterday talked about cardboard alliances. I would remind him that cardboard troops are also valueless and that without economic revival that is all our troops are likely to amount to.
So long as the only positive commitment we have in Europe is a military commitment, the countries of Europe are bound to feel that what we want most out of Western Union is a defensive buffer for ourselves. So long as the only common plans are merely the plans for the defence of our perimeter, that suspicion is bound to exist and to deter the countries on that perimeter, and make them very hesitant to enter into such plans. Unless we can break down that suspicion we shall never break down what I consider to be the wholly mistaken idea of neutrality in countries like Sweden and Switzerland.
1301 It is therefore on our economic policy towards Western Union that the test of our sincerity will come. There is not much time, perhaps only three and a half years, in which to increase our production as a whole so that we can pay for the food we need. That is not so long to achieve the necessary revolutionary reconstruction of our economic life. What is the position now? The French and Italians have committed themselves to the idea of a customs union, and the Benelux countries have achieved one. There are in Europe positive steps being taken towards co-operation in providing hydroelectricity. So far, however, this country has only made statements about the desirability of economic union. I do not know what is going on in technical committees. No information of a positive character has been made available to us. However, if we are to get economic re-organisation in time, we have to make known our desires and aims much more clearly and positively than we have up to now. When people talk of a more definite lead from the Foreign Secretary, that is what they are thinking of.
To give one example—we talk about enlarging the area of the home market and of mass production. Has the Foreign Secretary through any of the committees or sub-committees—has he himself—ever talked about standardisation? Has he invited the Federation of British Industries or similar bodies in other countries to consider this question? Here at home the Chancellor of the Exchequer has talked to the manufacturers about the numbers of types of cars that we are producing, and has said that such variety is uneconomical at this time.
If we are to get mass production and standardisation to increase manufacturing output in Western Europe, we have surely now—not a moment later—to tackle this question through all the relevant organisations, and we have to get them to tackle the question of how to save machine tools, manpower, and materials in the production of all these basic goods such as motorcars, tractors, and so on. Would it not he a good thing now to make it known that that is our goal, and that is what we want, and that is what we mean when we talk about economic co-operation in Europe? Few people in Europe believe that that is what we mean, and many 1302 believe that despite our talk we have strong mental reservations.
Although the Foreign Secretary has done all that he could have been expected to do in nine months, in his desire for caution so as not to raise raise false hopes, he has, I think, said too little. We have in this Debate discussed whether economic reconstruction or defence should have the priority. In some countries of Europe there is a desire for neutrality. Surely we shall never persuade people to abandon neutrality, we shall never get people effectively to defend even their own territories, unless they do believe in an idea. The reason why in the past we fought effectively to defend Great Britain was not only that we loved our land but that we loved our way of life. If we are to succeed in making either defence plans or plans for economic reconstruction in Europe, we have to inspire the people of Europe with some idea in which they can believe enough to go into battle—if it is into battle they have to go. Even to undertake the task of economic co-operation we have to inspire them with fervour and enthusiasm. We have seen only too recently how futile it is to have troops if there is no faith in a way of life.
§ Wing-Commander Millington (Chelmsford)
When the hon. Gentleman says we must inspire people in Europe with enthusiasm to go into battle, he assumes, probably, that there is an enemy against whom to go into battle. What enemy has he in mind?
§ Mr. Crawley
My whole theme has been that economic reconstruction comes first and is vital. I spoke of defence only because we have defence plans, and while we reconstruct, if we are attacked, we must defend ourselves. I was saying that unless people have a clear idea of what they are fighting for they will not defend themselves, and unless they have a clearer picture of what they are aiming at they will not achieve economic reconstruction. I suggest therefore, that it is time that the Foreign Secretary began to talk about ideas such as common citizenship, began to invite people to inspect what the effects of common citizenship are likely to be, and to invite people to see how they, in their several countries, can promote such a thing as common citizenship in Europe. To that end I support the idea that there should be summoned a convention to discuss such matters. It should be called 1303 on a representative basis soon—certainly this year. By such a means these basic ideas can be ventilated, and people can become acclimatised to them. For unless people fully understand what Western Union means and approach it with fervour and enthusiasm, our plans will fail.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfrid Roberts (Cumberland, Northern)
It is already clear in this Debate that those of us who support Western Union come to it with a different emphasis and from different points of view. That is natural and desirable. The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) laid all his stress on the economic development of Western Europe. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) seemed to lay rather more stress on the military aspect of unifying the defences of Western Europe. One cannot really approach this problem without doing what other speakers had done—seeing it in the general concourse of foreign affairs.
It seems to me that one thing that is true at the present time has not yet been said in this Debate. It is sometimes encouraging when in difficulties to look at how things may seem from the other man's point of view. I cannot feel that if the people in the Kremlin, who guide affairs in the Soviet Union, were really to look objectively at the last three years, they could be very pleased with the way their foreign policy had achieved or failed to achieve their aims. In fact, it seems to me that Russian foreign policy has not been a success. They were successful during the war in getting good co-operation with their allies, and I suggest that the success they had was mostly within the area which was agreed by the various conferences to be a sphere of influence—countries which they would liberate or occupy. Outside that area, the Soviet Union have won no friends and lost perhaps more good will than any other country has ever lost before in so short a time, and have achieved very little. Even their other methods of working through Communist committees, which 18 months ago looked as though they might be successful, had not won them any success.
I do not feel that our foreign policy has been very successful either. I do not 1304 think that it has achieved very great success. One of the outstanding successes which we have had in foreign relations has been India. One hopes that this situation will continue satisfactorily. This success has had a striking effect in many parts of the world in showing our real intention to carry out the democratic ideal for which we fought and on which we have made great pretensions. Otherwise, the only outstanding success that I can see that we have had is the Brussels Treaty. That has come late, and, as I think is generally agreed, it is only a basis on which to work.
I should have liked the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, in his admirable speech, to have developed a little further what he believes to be the possible practical developments of the future. He used some strong language about our proceeding quickly and effectively and getting the maximum possible co-operation, but he did not tell us what he thinks is possible. He seems to think that Brussels and the Continuing Committee of Paris are only a beginning. I think it is fair to say that the Brussels Treaty is only the beginning, and that we want a more complete form of unity in Europe. The Brussels Treaty has been made possible by American policy, think that the United States have achieved something by their foreign policy, in Europe at any rate, since the end of the war. I am doubtful whether their Far Eastern foreign policy has been so successful. The Marshall Plan, however, is an outstanding event and makes it possible for us to advance in Europe.
We have to face the possibility of war again, and it seems to me that the first and foremost aim of our foreign policy should be to use our influence to prevent war. People are increasingly taking war for granted, both in this House and in the country, and I think that it is worth saying again, as was said from the Opposition Front Bench, that we do not and must not take a third world war for granted. We shall not prevent it by appeasement. I agree that sometimes we might have been firmer in dealing with incidents. I do not think we shall achieve anything by apparently not caring—or not caring sufficiently—what happens to British nationals. Nor is it any use, as the Foreign Secretary seemed to say yesterday, thinking how well we would get 1305 on with the Russians if they were not Communists, because they are Communists; and that is one of the facts we have to face. I do not think the fact that they are Communists and have a Communist system is really the great difficulty. I think that others have put their finger on it when they have said that the Russians believe, or seem to believe, that war is inevitable, whereas we do not believe it is inevitable.
Approaching the problem of Europe from that point of view, my first reason for supporting Western Union is that I believe it makes war less probable. In addition to the fact that another war would be far more ghastly even than the last one, I believe that very little that we recognise now as Western democracy would survive anywhere in the world after a third world war. If we are to preserve democracy as we know it and to preserve our values of freedom, independence and individuality, we have to develop our Western ideas of democracy, and do it together. The Russians will respect a strong Western Europe and be more prepared to come to terms with it than they will with a weak Western Europe. We have had examples of that in the past. Particularly will they respect the economic strength of Western Europe. Therefore, I subscribe to the views of those who lay emphasis on the economic development of Europe rather than on the increased military strength which the Brussels Treaty or any other arrangement will create. From a military point of view there is not much to prevent the Russians from advancing into Europe this Summer, except the atomic bomb and the certainty that that would ultimately bring about war with the United States. We have time to make Western Europe a success by democratic and economic means.
It is from that point of view that we on these benches approach this problem. We think that the nationalism of Western Europe, with its emphasis on the individual sovereignty of countries, is outdated. It does not fit into the economic realities of today. Therefore, my party, at a recent conference, accepted the Motion which is on the Order Paper in the names of Members of all parties as a statement of our views about Western Union. We mean that Western Union shall be something more than an alliance. 1306 Eastern Europe is already knitted together by innumerable alliances. We believe that something more than that is necessary. It is possible that some new sort of constitutional expedient might be better than a cut-and-dried form of federation, such as there is in the United States and in other countries. It is not possible at this stage to lay down exactly what form of association would be best, and certainly we do not suggest that grasping at a more complete form of association should delay the less complete and less satisfactory form of co-operation.
I believe that to proceed merely on the basis of treaties and ad hoc committees and co-ordinating committees, dealing with any particular problem as it arises, is not sufficient to meet the problem of today. Therefore, we also welcome The Hague Congress, and we welcome the mild approval which I thought the Foreign Secretary gave yesterday to that Congress. I hope that he will not get into difficulty with his party because of the words he used. We feel that the consolidation of European nations is essential to make progress in this matter. If, as a result of The Hague Congress, a greater impetus can be given to the idea of Western Union, and if we find that the representatives of other countries are prepared to go further and faster than many people in this House think possible at present, that Congress will be of immense value. I hope that we shall find that that is so.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Squadron-Leader Millington (Chelmsford)
The atmosphere in which we discuss international affairs these days is one fraught with fear, suspicion and hatred. The Debate today—and particularly the contributions of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and the hon. Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay)—has been in an atmosphere entirely different from that which we had yesterday. In fact, nothing fills me as a young man, with greater horror than that hon. Members should get up in this House and in the country and coldly discuss preparations for a third world war. If we have any responsibility to the people whom we represent, it is to use every endeavour and to pursue every conceivable path to make a third world war impossible. And for people to sit cosily in their seats and discuss the 1307 possibility of defending a line from Stettin to Trieste, and to discuss uniting all the peoples who have the same kind of attitude in order to wage a third world war as soon and as effectively as possible, is a betrayal of everything that I have ever stood for; and, I believe, a betrayal of the good faith that the majority of people in this country placed in their Members of Parliament when voting for them in the election of 1945.
I realise that, if we allow things to go precisely along the path they are going at this moment, there appears to be nothing that can stop the rush of the peoples of the world into war. I welcome, therefore, the two speeches to which I have referred in particular, because they dig at the solution to the problem. The hon. Member for North-West Hull spoke at great length of the necessity for re-orientating our ideas about sovereignty, and the need for finding a new sovereignty into which we can merge the various sovereignties of nation states in order to create a system of international government in which people will be free to pursue their ways of life without the imminent and constant threat of war.
The first thing that must be done is, I think, indicated in the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) and others:
§ [This House views with dismay the rapidly deteriorating political position in Europe, welcomes the statement of Field-Marshal Smuts that a new effort should be made to reach an understanding with the Soviet Union and urges the Government to initiate Three-Power negotiations at the highest level with the aim of establishing a modus vivendi between the Western and Eastern Powers based on the principle that neither should intervene in the legitimate sphere of interest of the other, the two spheres to be defined in the agreement; that, to this end, this House is of the opinion that steps should be taken to bring about an early meeting between the Prime Minister and Marshal Stalin and, if possible, President Truman, and would view with favour the participation in the Conference of leading representatives of the British Commonwealth such 1308 as Field-Marshal Smuts and Lord Mountbatten.]
§ I believe it is essential for His Majesty's Government, realising the Gadarene rush in which we are plunging towards war, to use the offices of some unsuspected international statesman, like Field-Marshal Smuts or Mr. Nehru, and to convene a conference of the "Big Three" in order to settle, at least temporarily, the question of spheres of influence, whilst we have time to consider what this new form of organisation in the world must be.
§ Last Sunday week I saw a vast concourse of people gathered in the Albert Hall under the title "Christian Action." Their purpose in meeting, I submit, was one which commands the sympathy and support of large numbers of people in this country. We see in this world not only a political and economic problem, but a problem of the total (breakdown of moral and spiritual values; and that meeting declared the necessity of calling together all Christian peoples, or peoples with like philosophies, for the purpose of re-asserting those beliefs—re-asserting the only ethic upon which we believe a decent life can be based, and trying to find some common political action based upon that ethic. But some people who spoke at that meeting in the Albert Hall—and there are supporters for their view in the country—betrayed the first concepts of Christianity, in that they said that the best way to advance the Christian faith in the world is by preparing for and, if necessary, fighting a war now against the forces of anti-Christendom.
§ I believe that when people, who pride themselves on their libertarian philosophy, on their belief in democracy, and on their faith in the Christian religion, talk glibly about fighting an international war to defend those philosophies, they fail to realise that in the course of history—particularly in this century—the first victim of an international war is the liberty of democracy and Christianity, in the name of which we say we go to war. Therefore, we must call a halt. We must find some immediate technique by which we can put off the prospect of a war, and in that gap of time try to find a new orientation, a new method of settling differences which may occur between the peoples of the world.
§ I believe that the fear which exists over the whole globe at the moment is a 1309 fear which is called ideological: it is not so much fear of a different philosophy of life which exists a thousand miles away, but fear that those who pursue that different philosophy may, if they have a strong enough military force, go across that thousand miles and impose that foreign philosophy upon other and unwilling peoples. When people talk—with hysteria it would seem to me—in this country, in Western Europe, and in the United States of America, about the possibility of the imposition of Soviet Communism by the Red Army upon the rest of the world, they forget that people in the Soviet Union, whether or not they are deluded in their millions, are equally frightened about the imposition of a foreign culture upon them. And only when we have some balanced realisation that every man, wherever he lives in the world, has an entitlement to his own belief, and an entitlement to be free from the fear that somebody wants to take that belief away from him by armed force, can we have a world with a chance of living out its life in peace.
§ For the last three years we have had general discussions on the problem of sovereignty. Those discussions have gone on, not only in this Chamber, not only in this country, but throughout the whole world. Leading statesmen and ordinary citizens are investigating what this thing is which seems to stand between the peoples of the world and international settlement of any single problem which is presented to them. We see it at the functional level; we see it, as it were, at the Security Council level. I believe that if there is any one thing wrong with the determination of people of all parties in this country and in the countries of Europe going to a conference with the intention of trying to find some means of integrating the policies, economies and the culture of Western Europe, it is that they are seeking to merge the sovereignties of 16 or 17 States into one larger sovereignty, with the door shut against the inclusion of any other peoples in the world who may wish to join with them.
§ I know that, to a large extent, my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) agrees with my approach; but I do not believe that even he, who seemed to protest at my last remark, would suggest that everybody who is going to The Hague has the same view 1310 of this problem that he has himself. True, an attempt is being made to mobilise opinion throughout the country and in Western Europe in support of the concept of a Western Union on the propaganda of exclusiveness, and on the propaganda of building something in Europe in order to keep other people out—in order to get the most effective method of military containment. Whatever the ideal plan might be, and were the ideal plan advanced to the peoples of the world at The Hague or at any other conference, it may be that those who rule the Soviet Union and those who rule Eastern Europe, and even those who rule the United States of America or any other part of the globe, might decide that it is not in the interests, either of their national economy or of their ideology, to come into an ideal form of world organisation. But I believe that responsibility rests quite firmly upon the people of this country, above all, to try to plan that structure of a world organisation with the door wide open to everybody in the world to co-operate. If we do not, then we are morally responsible for sharpening the division in the world and making the possibility of a third world war even more urgent, and even more desperate than it appears to be at this moment.
§ That is why I and a group of hon. Members, who have an organisation in this House, seek all the time to present here, in the country, and in other countries in which we have contacts, the cosmic, the universal approach. We do not know what will happen. But while the hon. Member for North-West Hull wants to get the representatives of 16 nations into a constituent assembly to discuss a constitution for Europe, we want to get the representatives of all the peoples of the whole world together. If they will not come, that is up to them. But we want to invite them, and to make it possible for them to come, in order to make a plan for world organisation. I believe that before we are very much older we shall see that the step-by-step approach is a dangerous one, and that if the steps in contemplation in Europe were to come to fruition, then, instead of being a stepping-stone in the path towards the creation of an effective world organisation which could guarantee peace and a rising standard of life for the peoples of the world, that very thing might provide the immediate stumbling block over which the 1311 peoples of the world would trip in their search for peace, and would precipitate a conflict which already seems just around the corner.
§ I know that it is the responsibility of Governments and of Foreign Secretaries to make an analysis of the situation as they see it, and to seek to prepare the best plans at the moment to meet whatever emergency may arise. Therefore, I join with other hon. Members, in saying of the Foreign Secretary that on his reaction to the Marshall offer, on the promptitude of the work he has done in Western Europe, and on the whole approach to developing contacts to merge our sovereignty with those of other countries in Europe, he is to be highly congratulated. But, in fact, the job of how, by some technique or another, we can call a halt in the rush towards war in the world, the job of creating a new structure for a new world organisation, is not a job which can be done by Foreign Secretaries or by diplomats; and if we, as politicians with any claim to leadership at all, have any job on hand, it is to go amongst our own people, and amongst the ordinary peoples of the whole world, and to create such an overwhelmingly powerful desire for an effective world government that we will force Foreign Secretaries, who have to walk in step—the Foreign Secretary here and those throughout the world—to listen to that voice, and, before we are plunged into world war, to create an organisation in which we can live out our lives in peace.
§ 5.44 P.m.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
I think that, clearly, in our minds at the present time must be a distinction between union in one sense of the word and union in the other sense. It seems to me clear that the first sense is the union in which we have recently fought wars in the very closest association with our Allies. The other type of union is that between England and Scotland, which is long and indissoluble. The first, on the other hand, dissolves automatically at the end of the particular emergency which created it. We wish to solve both the short-term and long-term problems. We do not in an way wish to make more difficult for the Foreign Secretary, and for the Foreign Secretaries in other countries, the immediate problem of averting war, if 1312 need be, by the first type of union. That method, by balance of power and by the common standardisation of calibres of ammunition and so forth, undoubtedly produces fewer wars, but at the expense of a very much bigger war when it comes.
It is well worth paying the price to avert wars and if, by a Western Union of this kind, a war can be averted now, all of us are behind the Foreign Secretary in making even that type of Western Union as successful as possible. That should not deter us from looking at the longer term—more fundamental and more important—objective of a Union in terms of that between England and Scotland. It seems to me that that sort of union is the only permanent solution of war. No other solution can begin, or ever will begin, to touch it.
Let us face up to the fact that a Union of that kind is based, not on sanctions, but on what I call acceptability. Let us say, for instance, that the City of Glasgow, after a union, accepts what this House says, and accepts it willingly. The police have very little power to act; they act really on the basis of free and willing acceptability. The problem of the union, in the real sense of the word, is one of willing acceptability for good government on a wider basis. That is the long-term objective which we seek.
I do not wish to take the time of the House in giving my reasons and the reasons of those who supported the particular Amendment on page 2345 of the Order Paper for 18th March. It is silly to give all the reasons why such a union is possible. It is clearly possible, even as a snap union, as in the case of the Orange Free State and Cape Province and Natal in the Union of South Africa; or as a gradual process, as the case of the Italian States becoming the single State of Italy. Many other examples could be given—the list of reasons is about as long as the list of difficulties. I am not ignoring the immense difficulties. We ought not to cry off from a problem merely because of the list of difficulties. The main trouble regarding those difficulties is that a union of this kind—a real and proper union—must be based solely on acceptability, which is an issue of popular demand bubbling up from beneath and not from the superimposition of allegedly superior wisdom of governing classes from above. That can 1313 play its part; but inherent in the problem of creating such a union is the need of a truly great educational programme. In any educational problem, and in selling any idea, it is infinitely easier to sell a concrete conception of steps of action than to sell an abstract idea. Our real difficulty in this educational sphere is that this idea, while a fine ideal, is, nevertheless, an abstract conception until it can be brought down into terms of positive action.
Those of us who are supporting the Crusade for World Government, which is operating in or has contacts in all countries, are pinning our faith to a specific course of action. As we said in our Motion, we would like to call together private people, not later than 1950, in Geneva. We believe that the function of Foreign Secretaries is to get on with the work they have at present; our kind of work will only tend to take such people's eyes off the very important immediate policy which they must pursue. We envisage private people meeting together on a basis representative of all the countries of the world, so that everybody is implicated, to work out a practical scheme which can then be laid in front of all the Foreign Offices of the world for them to accept or reject as they think fit.
It is most important that such an Assembly should be representative of all nations, and not merely of the Western Nations. Only by laying out and dusting the chairs for every conceivable part of such a world-wide union can we hope to get the greatest possibility of acceptance when such a scheme comes through. It will not emanate from such an Assembly unless it has a reasonable chance of acceptance. Therefore, those of us who put our trust in it can claim that any such scheme, unless it dies an abortion, is bound to be a truly wise solution of the problem. I am asking that the Foreign Secretary should give his quiet, benevolent support—not active support, for I think that is positively harmful in this particular field—and I suggest he should regard it as an off-shoot which is to be encouraged. I hope that hon. Members will use their influence in their constituencies to produce an interest in the only true solution which can ever hope to stop wars—a union between nations of the world as close and perfect as that between Scotland and England.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I intend to intervene only for a few minutes. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary went very fully over the ground yesterday and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will be replying later, but there are one or two points with which I would like to deal. I think this is one of those Debates in which we want to get as many Members giving their views as possible and, therefore, the Front Bench should not take up too much time.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) raised certain points yesterday with regard to the Indian sub-continent. I think he realised they were not quite in place in a foreign affairs Debate, but yet, of course, Indian affairs are of vital importance to the peace of the world. I should like to join in what he said in giving congratulations and good wishes to Mr. Rajagopalachari on his appointment as the new Governor-General of India.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the Kashmir problem. There has been long and arduous work at U.N.O. which I hope will bear fruit. It is vitally important that this quarrel between two of our Dominions should be settled. Suggestions have been put forward as a basis of settlement. I think those suggestions are fair. Neither side agrees entirely with them. That may mean that they are fair. I think they can be accepted honourably by the Dominions of India and of Pakistan. I hope that the Commission appointed by U.N.O. will go out to India and that agreement on the conditions of a fair plebiscite will be arrived at. That dispute makes relations between the two Dominions very difficult, but I would like to assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is constant consultation between the two Dominions, difficult as that is, on matters of trade, refugees, arms, water, and on other matters and common problems.
The case of Hyderabad was raised also. That is rather delicate; it involves a relationship between the Nizam and his subjects and also between the two major communities. I think it is inadvisable for me today to say any more on this matter but I hope that here, too, a settlement may be come to.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) 1315 made what I thought was an extremely helpful speech. I would like to agree with him emphatically that it is a horrible thought that we should be talking and discussing war; I should also like to say most emphatically that I think it is utterly wrong and dangerous to talk of war as being inevitable. I do not believe it. I do not believe that there are any people in the world who want war. If there was any drift to war, it might be, if it did arise, that it would be through someone's chancing their arm too far so to speak. I do not believe there is any aggressive desire for war. Therefore, it is a great mistake to talk of the inevitability of war. At the same time the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that it is no good putting our heads in the sand and not seeing that these dangers do exist in the unsettled state of the world.
I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman stressed the point that, whatever we do we have to consider that what we need is a world organisation. Undoubtedly we need a Western Union and our agreements in the West, but this country cannot apply itself solely to one continent. We are interested in all continents throughout the world, and we have been seeking very hard ever since the end of the war, to try and make the United Nations organisation effective. I am not despairing of the United Nations organisation, despite all the difficulties we have had. The right hon. Gentleman said, quite rightly, that regional pacts are only a second best, but I think they are essential today, that we have got to work towards them.
In the Debate yesterday, particularly in the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), there seemed to be an idea that there was some kind of incompatibility between co-operation in economic and social fields on the one hand and co-operation in defence. There is no such incompatibility. In my view, working in these two fields is complementary. We are trying to build up a standard of life in Europe, and particularly in Western Europe, and for that we want economic strength. We are working to get out plans on the economic field.
1316 We want to see a levelling up of standards of life on the social side, and in working with these countries in a common effort towards greater prosperity, I think that we are laying the foundations firmly for strengthening our democracy, because it is when the economic conditions are bad that the anti-democrats, whether they be Fascists or Communists, get their chance. It is no good stressing just one side. We want freedom from fear as well as freedom from want. There is then scope within the Union for regional agreements for defence, and that is the defence not only of Western Europe, but of the British Isles and the British Commonwealth. There is nothing aggressive whatever in these regional agreements. It is quite obvious that there are already regional agreements for defence in the East of Europe, and there is no earthly reason why there should not also be agreements in the West or in any part of the world. We have a common interest with our European neighbours in relation both to Europe and to the world in general, because we are not the only Western nation which has interests in the East and in Africa and looks out on the Atlantic Ocean. We should like to see the Atlantic Ocean henceforth always pacific, and therefore we should look to its defence as well. In this connection, I would refer again to the very remarkable speech of Mr. St. Laurent in Canada.
That brings me to the point the right hon. Gentleman made in regard to Commonwealth consultations. I should like to assure the House that in all these matters we keep in the closest touch with the other Commonwealth countries. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is not the practise to divulge confidential communications which are going on all the time between the various members of the Commonwealth, but we have kept in very very close touch, and we take very full account of their views. In the course of this Debate, the views have been quoted of Field-Marshal Smuts, Mr. Mackenzie King, and Mr. Fraser, and there has been general approval of the idea of Western Union. Let me say also that there is no reluctance whatever on the part of the Government to have a full Commonwealth Conference, but the right hon. Gentleman knows that in one Doninion there may be an election, while in another Parliament may be in session so that the Prime Minister cannot leave. 1317 We are planning to have one as soon as we can, but it is really not a question of reluctance but of the difficulties we experience. We want to get together. In the meantime, both by our telegrams and through the High Commissioners here and the High Commissioners in the Dominions we are keeping in the closest touch.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Union of Europe which existed in the past. For such a Union there must be a common basis of moral values. That was when we had a union of Christendom; with all the difficulties, we had common values. In the nineteenth century to a large extent we had in Western Europe a broad general acceptance of moral values. The difficult thing is that we have not got that common acceptance by the Soviet Union, and therefore we have to deal with it on a different basis. We want to have the most friendly relations with them, but we have to recognise that their views are not our views, and that there is that breach in the general sense of values of European civilisation. On the other hand, these values belong not only to Europe but across the seas in the United States, in South America, in India and wherever Europeans have been. Therefore, we have this basis of moral values and our common heritage of believing in democracy. That gives a unity to our Western civilisation.
The question was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay) and others as to how far we can go in implementing this at the present time. I have often said that ultimately I believe we must come to federation of Europe. I have often spoken against the continuance of some absolute idea of sovereignty. The Motion is admirable in its general intentions, but suggests that these things can be got over rather more easily than is possible. After all, there is no exact definition of what is sovereignty. We have had a good deal of experience. The right hon. Gentleman was there with me at San Francisco, and he will know how difficult it was whenever there was a question of infringement of sovereignty. As a matter of fact anyone entering into an alliance or a treaty does take away to an extent their absolute power to do as they will. Therefore, in all these approaches we do get a merger of authority, but to what extent we can go beyond that is a debateable 1318 question. We are very close to our own fellow Dominions in the Commonwealth. We go in with them on a basis of equality in sovereignty, and we work closely together, but it is not easy to get a return to something by which by some instrument we merge sovereignty.
I agree that we want a new conception of sovereignty in the world, and we have to work towards it. The question is what is the best way of working towards a Western Union and towards some sort of federation? I do not think that it can be done by some constituent assembly discussing these matters in abstract. I believe the right way is the way they are being approached today, by dealing with practical matters in a practical way, and by working out our plans on the economic field, on the social field and on the defence field. Let me say that that is being worked out in a very practical spirit, and in a spirit of urgency. My hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull drew some comparison between what we are doing and something which was done at Locarno. This is something far more advanced in planning than was ever thought of at Locarno. We have to think of our economic resources, and the planning of these resources for the mutual benefit of all the states coming in on this Western Union. We have to think how best we can economically and most efficiently organise our defence forces.
In advocating Western Union, we are prepared with other Powers to pool some degree of authority. I am not prepared at the present to agree to all the propositions in the Motion as being immediately practicable, but as an ideal to work towards. We would most heartily agree with the idea that underlies the Motion of federation of Western Europe and ultimately of the world. We are not prepared to call a constituent assembly right off. I do not believe that that is the way to work towards what we want. I believe that we shall get it far better by the practical steps which are being taken now, not forgetting that we work all the time with the Commonwealth. I was disturbed by the suggestion in the Motion that we might somehow get closer to Europe than to our Commonwealth. The Commonwealth nations are our closest friends. While I want to get as close as we can with the other nations, we have to bear in mind that we are not solely a Euro- 1319 pean Power but a member of a great Commonwealth and Empire. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the meeting at The Hague. He said that the Government had refused to take any part.
The Government were not asked to take part. It is not an affair of governments. I think that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) put it quite well when he said that they were working towards creating a public opinion, and they hoped to work up to their conference in 1950. The work of individuals and organisations is one thing—it is a matter for the individuals and organisations to which they belong as to what part they take—but it is certainly not a matter for the governments of the day. I hope that in this Debate we shall get the largest possible amount of unity, not for some specific proposals which I do not think are practicable at the moment, but for the general ideals for which we are working, for a closer union between all the Western countries and with the countries overseas, based on our common outlook, our common belief in democracy and our common urgent desire for the peace and prosperity of the world.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Astor (Surrey, Eastern)
In a Debate which has ranged so wide it is difficult for a back bencher to make a speech in strict debating form, a habit which should be encouraged. I think the House will agree that the Prime Minister's speech has taken us a little further than the speech of the Foreign Secretary. We have had two rather tepid assurances, but nevertheless assurances, that consultation and cooperation between ourselves and the Dominions are part of routine. I take it as the sort of remark such as "We are doing our best," but the reply to that is, "I should jolly well hope so;" and the statement in itself is of no significance. I was disappointed that the Prime Minister said nothing more specific in reply to the suggestions put forward for a meeting between the statesmen of the Dominions. He did not say whether he thought that the time was appropriate or not or even whether such a meeting should be convened. The Prime Minister did mention once the word "power" in reference to this country, for which I was very pleased, because I was beginning to think the Cabinet had really come to the conclusion that we were no longer a power.
1320 I am, however, sure that both sides of the House will welcome and applaud the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I am sure that it will also be welcomed in the country and abroad. One hon. Member referred to a "cosmic approach to foreign policy." I do not understand what that means, but in so far as I can guess what it means, I can only say that I entirely disagree with it. I would like to make a passing reference to a remark made by the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts), who said that the Soviet foreign policy was a failure. I would have said that Soviet foreign policy, so far, has been an outstanding success. That is what is so disquieting. Merely to say that they have not acquired any friends and, therefore, their foreign policy is a failure, seems to make little sense. Instead of friends they have acquired an enormous number of slaves, workers, voters, supporters—all forcibly conscripted within their new empires. They have done that in a remarkably short time, and where success has been achieved lies in the fact that they have done all this without giving us any cause to fire a single shot in anger.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I said that they acquired no friends—and I would now add, little influence—outside the area which they occupied during the war.
§ Mr. Astor
The trouble is that that area is becoming larger.
I want to make one or two remarks to the Foreign Secretary about the state of lethargy into which he now seems to have lapsed. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may understand a little more of what I mean when they have heard me make more of my speech. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman yesterday was a pedestrian monologue. To say that the country is apprehensive about Russia at the moment is a gross understatement, but I think it worth emphasising that the main apprehension lies in our attitude vis-à-vis Russia. Recent events have indicated that the Foreign Secretary has done too little to counter Russia's further imperialist expansion towards the West. He has rather led us to think that he regards our position as being so weak that we can no longer act as a great Power. The country as a whole was horrified by the Berlin air crash incident not 1321 long ago. It savoured of an unpleasant echo of Munich, but it was worse, taking the very long view, because anyone carrying out a post-mortem on Munich would say that there were certain excuses for what happened. At least we bought time, which was then on our side. Now, time is not on our side; it is on the side of the Soviet Union, and one would have thought that the Foreign Secretary, in this year, 1948, would have gained some experience in that particular matter.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
The hon. Member has compared the Berlin accident with Munich. Does he suggest that we should have gone to war over the Berlin accident? Otherwise, how is his reference to Munich relevant?
§ Mr. Astor
I said that the accident was an echo of Munich and if the hon. Member waits a little longer he will find out where my inference applies. It seemed part of the frame of mind which got us into trouble in the past, and which will lead us into difficulties again. If we assume that the Russians were flying a kite or rather a Yak in order to test our moral fibre and degree of resistance, the disquieting conclusion is that, in the end, we gave certain assurances and certain encouragement that would indicate that they could, with impunity somewhere, of their own choosing and at some time determined by them, stage another coup d' etat on the Czechoslovakian model. I may be over-stressing this, up to a point, but can the House imagine what would have happened if that aeroplane had been shot down in the American zone?
§ Mr. Astor
Certainly not, but a far stronger line would have been taken. [HON. MEMBERS: "What line?"] Possibly by way of suitable reprisals, in the form of blocking shipping to German ports—certainly not a withdrawal such as we presented. At least, the Russians would have realised that they were up against something tough. In the end, it is in the interests of security that we should now be as tough as we ever intend to be, 1322 because that will do more to avoid war breaking out as a result of a relatively minor incident, than anything else will. We should make it plain now where we intend to take a stand. I would like to know why the Foreign Secretary watered down the note which General Robertson sent to Marshal Sokolovosky. We may not be a powerful military nation—indeed, we are not, and we are greatly depleted materially and economically—but we have powerful Allies, with whom we act in concert. We still have considerable prestige abroad, and we should act as a great nation, as a great Power.
I now want to refer to one specific point, which is embarrassing to me in the sense that it is personal, in connection with certain remarks made by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff over that air incident. It is embarrassing because I knew that very distinguished Officer as a soldier in the war; and everyone closely connected with him or remotely connected with him had the greatest respect for what he did and for his particular genius in military affairs which has gained him a lasting place in our history. I am not advocating, in this case, any control of ideas, but if we cast our minds back we remember that there was at the moment great anxiety in this country, and great concern and sadness, about the loss of British lives and the subsequent loss of a good deal of British prestige. In that situation, the C.I.G.S. made, for public consumption, on his return from Berlin, what I consider to be really lamentable remarks in very poor taste.
We all realise that the C.I.G.S. is not the official spokesman of Government policy, but we know that a great many other people do not know that, particularly those abroad, and particularly when his comments are reported in the Soviet Union. It is as well to bear in mind that no Russian senior officer or official takes any action, or makes any statement, without specific instructions beforehand from the Kremlin, and it would be hard for them to realise that these remarks were quite unofficial. Perhaps it would be inappropriate for the Foreign Secretary to assure the House on this matter, but at least he could assure himself that so far as he can, he will dissuade the C.I.G.S. from attempting too often to catch the public imagination. I have no recriminations to make because we all make mistakes. I often make mistakes, 1323 but my mistakes do not particularly matter, whereas when Field-Marshal Montgomery makes an occasional mistake, it matters a great deal.
§ Mr. Bramall (Bexley)
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us specifically the remarks of Field-Marshal Montgomery which he considered to be in bad taste?
§ Mr. Astor
I heard the various statements on the wireless, and I was referring to the general frame of mind of the C.I.G.S. vis-à-vis himself and Marshal Sokolovsky.
I would like to say a few words about the open diplomacy which seems to be the general method of approach which the Foreign Secretary has of reaching agreements with the Soviet. Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that he achieves the best results in negotiations by speaking in front of a battery of Pressmen and wireless microphones? Open diplomacy serves a useful purpose at U.N.O., where grievances and criticisms of nations are voiced publicly and all over the world; but I think that the danger of open diplomacy, at the moment, is due in part to Russia thinking in terms of her own public opinion. It results in the speeches from the Russian authorities of the kind which we hear from time to time in this House, due to the fact that our speeches are reported in the newspapers and, occasionally, on the wireless—that is, speeches which are not primarily germane to the important matter under discussion, but are really intended for the constituency and the constituents.
Whether we think of foreign policy in terms of Western Union, or alliances, we must in every case look to our own defence and our own internal security. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) has been turned out of the Labour Party for doing rather more than make it plain that he was no longer a Bevin boy. It seems to make slight nonsense of this serious situation when, on the one hand, the Foreign Secretary tells the House—as we all agree—what little confidence we can have in a written contract or agreement signed by a Communist Power, and then the Leader of the House who, possibly because of the absence of other effective leadership, seems to run the Labour Party, is prepared to admonish some 40 crypto, or cowardly, Communists merely because 1324 they are willing to sign a pledge. Are we really to suppose that the hon. Members for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), Luton (Mr. Warbey) and Hornchurch (Mr. Bing)—to mention only three—will do more than merely pay lip-service to the principles of democracy, in so far as they are vested in a Socialist State?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of Order. The hon. Member has just mentioned, Mr. Speaker, three Members of the House who are, apparently, to be covered by his discription "crypto-Communists." I want to know from you, Sir, whether such an expression with its implications of deception and dishonesty, is in Order?
§ Mr. Speaker
It depends upon how an individual takes it, but I should have thought that to single out individual Members, and make charges against them, was contrary to our usual practice.
§ Mr. Silverman
Further to that point of Order, I understand your Ruling to be, Sir, that a charge of dishonesty against individual Members ought not to be made. As that was implied in the words used by the hon. Member, ought he not to withdraw?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not know quite how hon. Members might or might not take the charge of being crypto-Communists. They might sympathise from that point of view, but no distinct charge has necessarily been made against them, although I think these allegations are not quite worthy of the House.
§ Mr. Silverman
The charge made by the hon. Member is, I submit, clear and precise. It is that people calling themselves members of the Labour Party are really Communists, and by the word "crypto" there was implied the other adjective which was specially used by the hon. Member, namely, "cowardly."
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
Further to that point of Order. Is it not a fact, Sir, that the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), one of the three Members mentioned by my hon. Friend, is here and if he had taken any exception would have made ms own defence instead of employing the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman).
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
I am sorry, but I am afraid that I was not listening to the hon. Member for Eastern Surrey (Mr. Astor). I was mentally rehearsing the speech which I hope to be able to deliver. If he called me a crypto-Communist I strongly object, because that implies that a member of the Labour Party is taking his orders from some party outside Not only is it not true, but whatever my failings are, they do not include excessive fondness for taking orders from anybody.
§ Mr. Speaker
After these points of Order, perhaps the hon. Member for Eastern Surrey (Mr. Astor) will bear in mind what I have said. We will now proceed with the debate.
§ Mr. Astor
I will bear in mind what you have said, Mr. Speaker, particularly as I was going to make a reference to a speech by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt). What a mistake it is for a large number of back benchers and a certain number of Front Benchers on the other side of the House to be so very coy in paying just and due tribute to the generosity of American aid in laying the foundations for the continuance of democratic life in Western Europe. I am not specifically referring to the scurrilous speech, totally unworthy even of the Labour Party, made by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith, but I can appreciate that it is embarrassing for hon. Members opposite to have to explain in the country that socialised Britain has to turn to a free country like the United States, with a free economy, in order to avoid the terrific unemployment and starvation in this country, which would otherwise be the case.
I see the Attorney-General in the House. I read a speech which he made over the weekend as it was reported in the Press. It is lamentable that he spoke in the country of how three years of Socialist rule had fed everybody nicely and employed them constantly. He did not point out that this was an artificial state of prosperity, and I should have thought that the senior Law Officer of the Crown in this Chamber would at least pay just a tribute to that source from which comes our state of temporary prosperity. I feel that it is irresponsible to a degree to make a party point like that 1326 when holding the office of Attorney-General.
I was in Washington early this year and I heard an enormous amount of discussion both in the Senate Committees and outside, about Marshall Aid for this country. The sort of criticism that was advanced was that it was a mistake to lend any money to this country in order to further experiments of doctrinaire Socialism, and in every case, very wisely and very generously, that criticism was countered by this kind of argument—quite rightly in my opinion—"We have ultimate confidence in the British people, and it is their own affair what sort of Government they choose. Any way, by and large, in Europe Socialism is the enemy of Communism." Whether we like it or not, particularly after the next Presidential election, the behaviour of the British Government will influence public opinion in America in relation to Marshall Aid, despite their desire to place their arguments and judgment on the highest and most objective level possible. It seems to me tragic that in returning real, generous and helpful thanks to the United States the onus is left to the Leader of the Opposition, although he carries far more weight in the United States than any hon. or right hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House.
May I say one word about Spain? I completely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) in everything that he said yesterday. None of us, except a very small minority of lunatics, approves of the Franco régime, as such, but let us remember the effect on the people of Spain is better under the Franco régime than it is under the Communist régimes further East. The degree of liberty is also greater. Let us try to get a sense of proportion in the matter. It is significant that Russia at the moment is not attacking Franco politically. She is not doing that because she does not wish to stage any political coup in Spain till she realises that the moment is propitious for supplanting the dictatorship of the Right with a far more stringent dictatorship of the Left. Equally it can be taken as an argument that the moment is not unpropitious for Spain according to her own lights to advance towards a more liberal form of Government.
1327 Our policy in Spain is deplorable and it is also weak. Originally it was initiated, I am certain, to pacify the Soviet Union. That was the time when "The Times," in its leading articles, was taking a certain line about Greece, and the general tenor was, "At the moment you must not tread on the feet of these sensitive Soviet people, because, poor dears, they do not understand Western diplomacy." That illusion is completely shattered. Our foreign policy towards Spain remains the same. If we wish to see a liberal—I use the word in the broadest sense—revival in Spain, we are doing everything we possibly can to stop it by attacking the Franco régime and boycotting their society. Spain has got to work out and produce her own form of government and she is not going to do it by being dictated to from outside. Only by establishing contacts, diplomatic, economic and political wherever possible shall we give the more liberal elements the incentive and the encouragement to take a more active and prominent part in their public affairs.
In conclusion, I should say that our rôle in Europe should be still that of a great Power. What is lacking as far as policy is concerned is leadership. What is tragic is that the degree of our prestige and good faith is vested to a very large extent in the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). It is tragic because for the moment they are impotent to do anything. The political tragedy here at the moment is that we are in the position where the Government cannot find men of the calibre to fill their shoes.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
The hon. Member for Eastern Surrey (Mr. Astor), whose sentiments have been echoed ad nauseam from the benches opposite, reminds me of an anecdote about Charles Lamb. He was reproved by his chief for always coming late to the office and his reply was, "But see how early I go." Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to find it difficult to live down the painful fact that they landed us in the last war through appeasing Fascism, and they seem to think that they can compensate for this crime by landing us in a third World War to fight Communism. The benches 1328 opposite are full of ex-appeasers of Fascism turned into frustrated anti-Communist interventionists, spitting venom at our ally the Soviet Union with tongues still sticky from licking the boots of our enemy Hitler. Hon. Members opposite should not trade too much on the shortness of memory of our people.
I want to tackle this question of Western Europe in its world context. There are two possible world contexts, one a Western Union within the United Nations and the other a Western Union based on American power politics. A United Nations context means that Western Union must be based on an agreement between all the European Great Powers that are permanent members of the Security Council. That means concretely an all-European regional agreement within the United Nations, and Western Union as a subdivision of that agreement. I am not going into the kind of policy that is necessary to produce that framework, except to say that it postulates the possibility of finding common ground and mutual interests between our people and the peoples of Western Europe, on the one hand, and the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, on the other. I am convinced that such common ground exists and can be found, if we take a Socialist and not a Tory view of the interests of the British people.
What I want to examine now, somewhat critically, is the result of trying to base Western Union on American power politics and anti-Communist fanaticism, as advocated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). The basis from which he starts has been made amply clear by him. Here I wish to say that last Thursday I wrote the right hon. Gentleman and told him that I proposed to criticise his policy. I had a reply saying that he did not himself propose to take part in this Debate as he was reserving himself for the Hague. I gave him the references to the articles and speeches outside the House which I propose to quote in this connection. The right hon. Gentleman's fundamental attitude is summed up very characteristically and vividly in an article in "Colliers' Magazine" of 4th January, 1947, when he said:Greater divergencies have opened among men than those of the religious wars of the reformation or of the political and social con- 1329 flicts of the French Revolution, or of the power struggle just concluded with Hitler's Germany. The schism between Communism, on the one hand, and Christian ethics, on the other, is the most deadly, far-reaching and rending that the human race has known. The atom bomb in the guardianship of the United States is the main safeguard against the third World War.Some safeguard! The political consequences of basing international policy and Western Union on anti-Communist fanaticism is, first of all, to foster Fascism and not democracy; secondly, to put class before country to the extent of sacrificing our national independence and our right to order our internal affairs; thirdly, to make Western Union economically unworkable; and fourthly, to make a third World War inevitable. Apart from that it is a good policy. Some hon. Members may have been surprised at the reference in the quotation I have given to the power struggle with Hitler, as though there had been no ideological issue between this country and the Fascist regimes.
But from the point of view of a good many Tories, the war was rather an unfortunate error, because we were fighting on the wrong side. It was not fundamentally an ideological quarrel. After the war the result of the policy of anti-Communism which was initiated has certainly been to restore in Greece a corrupt, violent, bloody and horrible dictatorship of the very Fascists and quislings that we fought the war to put down. It has just started butchery on a large scale. I think 1,000 Communists are slated for killing. If they go on like that I suggest that we should advertise for some of the Germans who had experience at Belsen and other concentration camps to start destruction by mass means. Defending democracy by the old-fashioned method of shooting people in batches is getting a bit too slow for the needs of those whom we are supporting.
We have just had a further plea that we should back Franco. The hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), as reported in "The Times," recently made a speech in Madrid asking for Franco to be brought incontinently into the anti-Communist front. The American Congress passed a resolution asking that Franco should be brought in. "The Times" Washington correspondent reported that the State Department thought this was a gratuitous error, because E.R.P. unamended allowed Franco 1330 to be brought in quietly through the back door and it was tactless of Congress to put out the red carpet. Nobody seems to remember that as recently as 1946 the United Nations General Assembly condemned the Franco régime in the strongest terms as a tyranny imposed on the Spanish people by the intervention of Mussolini and Hitler, and guilty of having taken part in preparing the war against this country. That is, of course, forgotten and forgiven, because Fascism is regarded as an ally against Communism.
A further result of this policy is illustrated in France and Italy. It is confessed openly in the United States in a very interesting article in the "Saturday Evening Post" of 21st February this year by Joseph and Stewart Alsop. The article is entitled, "Must America Save the World?" and it announces gleefully that the United States is now in the business of making and breaking foreign Governments. It goes on to explain, also gleefully, that the United States, taking advantage of the necessity of the French and Italian peoples, made the granting of humanitarian relief contingent upon the expulsion from the Coalition Governments of the Communist Party in France and of the Communist-Socialist alliance in Italy. The result is that the working class and trade unions of France and Italy have been denied any share of power, in spite of the fact that in France they were the biggest party as voted freely by the electorate, and in Italy the Socialist-Communist combination was one of the biggest units in the Parliament. What has gone on during the Italian Election—
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
The hon. Gentleman has just stated that the workers have the right to govern Italy, but is it not a fact that they have been denied that right, if it existed, by the Italian electorate, as a result of the General Election? Is he suggesting that there was a faked election by the United States? I can assure him that it was not.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I was speaking of the fact that the Communist and Socialist Parties were expelled from the Coalition some time ago, when de Gasperi went to America and got a loan on condition that that was done. Coalitions depend on compromises between the parties composing them. If one side in a coalition knows that if they take an intransigent line and refuse to 1331 compromise they will be supported by the United States with money and food, they will go ahead and break up the coalition. That is what happened. If the hon. Member thinks that that is democracy, I do not.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
Will the hon. Member quote the evidence for saying that the Americans made expulsion of the Communists out of the Italian Coalition a condition of the loan by the United States?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the article in the "Saturday Evening Post" by two reputable political correspondents. In the recent Election in Italy there was most tremendous pressure from the United States, both through threats and through bribes in the shape of America saying before the Election that if the Communists came in all help to Italy would immediately cease. These developments have materially interfered with the free play of democracy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course they have. When there is foreign intervention people cannot vote freely. The present regime in Italy is rapidly evolving into something like a Franco or Dollfus type of pseudo-Christian Fascism, supported by the big landowners and big businessmen. The Italian workers have only half of their prewar wages now, and are only just above the level of starvation. There is no rationing or price control, there is unlimited profiteering and a wide open black market and there are nearly 2,500,000 unemployed.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I do not know what the official line of the Kremlin is. I am only reciting facts. I am sorry if unwelcome facts are identical with Communism in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite. If so, they will have to go on living in cloud cuckoo land. The truth is that hon. Gentlemen opposite look upon Fascism as the last line of defence of the existing social system.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Let me read what the Leader of the Opposition said when he was in Rome and was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Baldwin Government and, therefore, spoke with official responsibility and as a leading Member of the Conservative Party. On 20th January, 1927, he told the assembled Italian and foreign Press that if he had been an Italian he would certainly have been wholeheartedly with Mussolini from start to finish in his "triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites of Leninism." The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—and it is this that is really important—that Fascism, in its international aspects, had rendered a service to the whole world, because, he said:The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or a working class leader has been that of being undermined or overbid by someone more extreme than he. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the masses of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilised society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.
§ Mr. Osborne
That quotation, which is an old one and which may be perfectly true, can be offset by what the present Chancellor of the Exchequer said more recently than that. He said that it would not be a bad thing for this country if the Germans won. We can have one quotation set against the other.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I have never heard of the Chancellor of the Exchequer making any such statement and I do not believe he ever said it.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The result of basing the Western Union policy on anti-Communism and total dependence upon the United States, is that we risk the sacrifice of our national independence and ultimately make war inevitable. It is the policy first proclaimed by the right hon. Member for Woodford at Fulton, and a policy condemned, curiously enough, by Field-Marshal Smuts, in his speech in November, 1943, to the United Kingdom Branch of the British Empire Association. He said: 1333Many people look to a union, or closer union, between the U.S.A. and Great Britain, with her Commonwealth and Empire, as the new path to be followed in the future. I myself am doubtful about that. I attach the greatest importance to Anglo-American collaboration for the future. To my mind it is, beyond all doubt, one of the great hopes of mankind.I agree fully with that, but within the framework of the United Nations. Field-Marshal Smuts went on:But I do not think that, as what I might call a political axis, it will do. It would be a one-sided affair. If you were to pit the British Commonwealth plus the United States against the rest of the world, it would be a very lopsided world. You would stir up opposition and arouse other lions in the path. You would stir up international strife and enmity which might lead to still more colossal struggles for world power than we have seen in our day. I do not see human welfare, peace, security along those lines.Neither do I. But that is the programme which has been proclaimed in season and out of season by the right hon. Member for Woodford. The disparity that Field-Marshal Smuts foresaw in 1943 has turned out to be much greater than we could have foreseen in our worst and gloomiest forecasts of the future.
Western Europe is, for all practical purposes, an outgrowth of American power politics. It is underpinned by E.R.P. Its economic structure depends largely upon United States capitalism and it is geared to United States foreign policy. The general purpose of the European Recovery Programme has been stated quite accurately in a source which may surprise some hon. Members who hear it quoted by me—but I am always in favour of realism wherever I find it. I refer to the May number of the "Review of Stock Exchange quotations," in which this passage occurred:The Marshall Plan has been conceived, not as an adjustment of war expenditure, nor as a temporary loan to tide over a period of rehabilitation, but as a political move which by helping Europe to rebuild Western civilisation will prevent the spread of Communism. The American Administration clearly has in mind the restoration in Europe of a state of economic equilibrium founded on a price mechanism which, within reasonable limits, permits the free operation of the profit motive and the encouragement of private enterprise.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
It goes on:Great Britain cannot lightly escape the responsibility thrust upon her of leading western civilisation back to sanity, but if we are to succeed in this task many of the Labour 1334 Party's most ardent theories will have to be tempered by the cold logic of realism, necessitating a re-orientation of outlook of which there are already welcome signs.Let us see how that is applied to the steel industry. The "New York Herald Tribune" on 25th April reported from London that:Labour Government chiefs have their fingers crossed on the appointment of Averell Harriman as roving Ambassador to keep in touch with participating nations under the European Recovery Programme. They know Mr. Harriman is a strong personality with pronounced views on government planning and Socialism. They have a pretty shrewd idea that Mr. Harriman is unfavourably disposed toward the theory of nationalisation. And he is liable to be in Britain or very nearby just when the all-out fight will commence on nationalisation of the iron and steel industry. They wonder how far Mr. Harriman, his pockets bulging with Marshall dollars, will go behind the scenes in opposition to this nationalisation project.Behind Harriman is his boss Paul G. Hoffman, of the Studebaker Corporation, who has gone on record as a fervent believer in the blessings of free enterprise and capitalism. Behind Paul Hoffman are the wide powers of the Marshall Plan and E.R.P., and behind that again Congress with its whiphand because of its voting Marshall Plan appropriations by annual instalments. Behind that again is the Administration.
The man who seems to be emerging as favourite in the running for the Republican Presidential candidate is Mr. Harold Stassen. Whoever is Republican candidate this time is in for all practical purposes. Mr. Stassen has gone on record repeatedly, emphatically and publicly as holding that any European State receiving American aid must refrain from any further Socialist experiments during the period of receiving American assistance. He was asked at a Press conference in Washington whether that meant nationalisation of the British steel industry, and he said, "Yes." He was then asked what he would do if the British disregarded his view and went ahead and nationalised their steel industry notwithstanding. He said that, of course, he could not interfere in British internal affairs, but that in such circumstances Britain would become a bad risk, and the U.S.A. could not invest money in a bad risk. So much for controls, loss of national independence and American interference in the internal affairs of the participating States.
1335 As to the powers of the Marshall Plan, a close study of it was made by two American economists in the "New Republic" of 12th January. They summed up the Marshall Plan, as it had gone to Congress, as follows:It is not a program of European self-help by united effort, but is essentially a plan for the extension of American influence.
- 1. It is not directed toward industrial development and stable trade.
- 2. It does not encourage European economic cooperation.
- 3. It subordinates Western Europe economically to western Germany.
- 4. It imposes a large measure of American control on the internal economies of Western Europe."
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
Is not the hon. Member rather surprised, in view of the opinion he is now expressing as to the predominant view in America, that a Republican Congress of America—after three years experience of, and knowledge of the fact that there is a Socialist Government in this country—has passed the Marshall Plan with no kind of discrimination and, indeed, has put forward a preliminary estimate under which the biggest single recipient of that aid is this Socialist Government?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The Plan provides for a measure of control and policies which are quite effective in checking any further measures of Socialisation, and even in rolling back what has been done. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Somebody says "nonsense," but let me give a few more facts. It is facts that count, not feelings. The American administrator must approve each export country by country, and project by project, thus exercising direct American control over a large part of Europe's foreign trade. Then there are the blocked accounts into which we pay the equivalent in our own currency of any help received from the United States, and on which we can only draw for purposes approved by the United States. The "New Republic" continues:The huge blocks of local currencies coming under American control will give Washington decisive influence in the internal economies of the participating countries.To obtain assistance, each participating country must agree to follow American principles with respect to currency stabilisation, rate of exchange, tariffs and foreign-trade controls.1336 That is what Secretary of the Treasury, John Snyder, said a few months ago, and I see now that the European States who participate in the scheme have to send Washington letters of intent. That struck a particularly poignant chord in me, because they apparently take the form of individual undertakings to be loyal to American principles and policies in international economic relations. The "New Republic" goes on to say that:the whole weight of American pressure will be used to hamper nationalisation of basic industries and to break down restrictions against unessential imports.There is the provision for acquiring strategic raw materials, and then there are the provisions for the setting-up of controls the pressure of which:will compel Europe to open its doors to Wall Street investments and American branch plants. The proposed economic co-operation bill specifically guarantees such projects for 14 years up to $800 or $850 million—five per cent. of the total cost of the program. But even more important, the exercise of economic controls by the United States is in itself a guarantee to American big business against European nationalization programs and against blocking the transmission of profits made in the participating countries.That is the Marshall Plan. Unfortunately the scheme is likely to be economically unworkable, because it is tied to American foreign policy. By the Mundt Amendment passed by Congress, making explicit what was all along implicit—the United States reserves the right to forbid the export to East European countries of any goods made with materials supplied from America, provided the export of such goods is also forbidden by the United States, and that means American control of our foreign economic policies. It means our being unable to develop trade with the Eastern European countries and with the Soviet Union in precisely those goods which those countries want.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean) rose—
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I am sorry, I am speaking against time. The other reason why it is unworkable is that a condition of receiving American help in France and Italy is to split these countries horizontally by supporting regimes which exclude the working class and the trade unions from any measure of power. Neither France nor Italy can be reconstructed without the full support, confidence and co-operation of the workers in those countries.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I have said several times in this House that the way we can get the good out of the Marshall Plan, and avoid the dangers, is by coupling it with a policy of full trade and friendly political relations with the Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
That is the only way we can get out of the present jam and make the thing work. The worst of all is that the whole scheme of Western Union is linked up to American defence policy, and American defence policy towards Western Europe is that in a war with the Soviet Union Western Europe is expendable. The U.S. will fight in Western Europe to the last Englishman, to the last Frenchman and to the last native of Spaakistan, but they expect Western Europe to be over-run and wiped out, and propose to carry out a counter-offensive through the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Those are the reasons why Western Union conceived on these lines is mortally dangerous. Those are the reasons why I can quite understand the anxiety of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench when they see some of my hon. Friends on the back benches innocently eager to be off to The Hague on a political petting party with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford. It is as though the headmistress and staff of Roedean should see some of their young charges being taken for a ride into the desert by a masterful old sheikh on the pretext that he wanted to show them his paintings of Western Union. Anxiety is natural because, after all, it was only last January that the right hon. Gentleman claimed to have fathered both the Labour Government's foreign policy and the foreign policy of President Truman; now he is off to the Mecca of Western Union with a large, varied and motley political harem, running from the temperamental virgins of anti-Communism on the Labour back benches to Tories whose pro-Fascist reputations it would be an affectation to call doubtful.
Some of my hon. Friends now en route for The Hague belonged to a group called "Keep Left." When they moved 1338 smartly off to the right, they left a few unconsidered trifles that I have found on looking over their deserted camping ground, and that they might take with them as souvenirs. I earnestly entreat my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) to find room in his suitcase for his article in the "Political Quarterly" of January, 1946, when he explained that technological developments had rendered… the British Isles completely indefensible in any third World War. The next World War would bring with it in its first week the destruction of the capital of the Commonwealth and of the ports through which we receive our food. … Western Bloc or no Western Bloc—Great Britain is indefensible in an atomic war between America and Russia which is fought in Europe.His conclusion was that we should try to keep out of such a war by neutrality. I do not agree with his conclusion, though I do with his premise; it is possible to prevent a war, but not to keep out after it has started. His further conclusion was:To attempt to build a United States of Europe is merely another way of preparing for the third world war, whoever makes the attempt.That is one for The Hague. Then there is that little pamphlet called "Keep Left." I will read some headings:Tory Policy: 'Britain an Outpost of America.'It does not seem to like the idea at all. Of course, Western Union policy as run by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford is at present precisely calculated to bring about that result. Another heading is:The Fallacy of Collective Security Against Communism.If America, supported by the Labour Government, organises 'collective security' against Russia and uses dollar loans to prop up anti-Communist regimes,dire consequences will ensue. That is perfectly true. President Truman's message to Congress of 18th March last said that Western Europe must be protected against internal, as well as external, aggression. Internal aggression, I suppose, includes our nationalising the iron and steel industry. Then there was the heading:No truck with Churchill. Kill the Tory idea of bolstering up the British Empire with American dollars and fighting America's battles with British soldiers.1339 The whole thing reads like the agenda for The Hague Conference, with "don'ts" in front of each item. So much for the erstwhile "Keep left," now described by the slogan in Vicky's cartoon:Don't be vague, ask for Hague.A final word to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench. The Leader of the Opposition is very fond of telling the world that the foreign policy of the Labour Government is his, and that the Labour Government completely shares his fanatical anti-Communist obsession. In the hands of the Leader of the Opposition these are things that are a serious danger to world peace, because he and his party would really go all the way. They really are prepared to start a world war in order to exterminate Communism.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
That is what the party opposite stands for. They are the party of the Third World War. But not the Labour Government. In no circumstances would the Labour Government go to war for any such wicked and insane purpose. But there is a danger that some of my right hon. Friends may feel that, perhaps by way of reversed Lend-Lease, they should indulge in a little war talk from time to time. I would couch my advice to them in the terms of a delightful cartoon in the "New Yorker," depicting a rather comfortable looking matron with a shopping basket, looking doubtfully at a highly ornate perfume bottle labelled "Tropical allure" or "Midnight violence" or some such title, while the clerk behind the counter says:Madam, do not buy it if you are only bluffing.That sums it up. The trouble is that some of my right hon. Friends may think they can anoint themselves in all innocence with a little of the right hon. Gentleman's War medicine, in order to acquire political glamour and economic sex appeal in the eyes of Uncle Sam. But if they do they are apt, before they know where they are, to be ravished by Mars. The appeal I make is that they should try to find common ground with the workers and trade unionists of Europe, and to think of Europe as composed of workers, trade unionists 1340 and peasants, toiling to rebuild their shattered countries, and not as a world divided into rival ideologies. If we think as Socialists we can find common ground with the workers building up their countries, and that is the task of the Labour Government in seeking peace and ensuring it, I beg my hon. Friends to lead our country and the world into the path of peace and brotherhood.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs)
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) has done something which I did not think possible in this House, he has produced a complete verbal edition of the "Readers Digest." It was difficult to find parts of his speech on which one could comment, because one did not know what was his own, and what he was quoting. We will have to leave a good deal unanswered, except to say that it is inconceivable that we should still get from people the general charge that the intention of America in producing a recovery programme is to make war in some way. I have had no shadow of doubt for some years that there was one hope for economic prosperity and peace in the world and that was based, first, on the British Commonwealth and Empire working together and, secondly, on the closest and most open harmony in the United States in everything to do with defence and economic matters.
Having said that, I am afraid I am going to return to a very modest little speech on Western Union, a subject from which we have departed for some time. If I cover some ground which has been covered before, it is only because there are some things which should be said and not have been fully said, and some explanations which need making. Obviously, it is politically and economically impossible for Europe to recover as isolated units. It is essential that Britain should take the lead in all stages in developing Western Europe, but it is not just a question of Europe itself but must be one also of the co-ordinated development of colonial dependencies. One or two hon. Members have touched on this matter as if it were quite separate, but if Western Europe means anything it must mean the countries with colonial dependencies working together and developing a colonial policy reasonably integrated and worked out together. I hope that that is fully 1341 in the mind of the Government, and that talks are going on simultaneously with the more complicated currency and economic talks in relation to Europe itself. There was an interesting suggestion made earlier in the Debate that the great industries of this and other countries are all involved in this matter and it would be a very good thing if the great industrial organisations could be stimulated by governments to think about their part in the problem and how best to develop from the industrial point of view the economic structures of Europe and the colonial dependencies.
I agree with everything that has been said about the British Commonwealth and Empire working together in this. I appreciate the constitutional point that it is not a question of the Commonwealth agreeing. But Western Union will come to nothing if we do not integrate Commonwealth resources. That means that in all stages of the working out of Western Union proposals the Dominions must not only be consulted and kept advised, as the Prime Minister said, but we must find means of getting them to take a more active part, particularly in the early stages. When the Prime Minister was speaking, I had vivid memories of a Question I put to him more than a year ago, when I asked what were the arrangements for effective consultation with the Dominions on major matters and day-to-day work. The Prime Minister gave a full answer on what the arrangements were, and when I asked a supplementary question, whether he really thought they were working, he assured me that they were. But, within a week, the British Government had made an announcement about future policy in regard to Egypt, and it was absolutely apparent that some of the Dominions not only were not in agreement, but were not consulted. I realise that responsibility does not lie exclusively with the British Government, and that there are great difficulties, but this is one of the things that must be tackled and overcome, if we are to move forward to any effective future.
I said when I started my speech that I have always believed that the structure of the Commonwealth and Empire plus the United States is essential to world development and have always believed that on such a basis the nations of Western Europe must join in, and within that we 1342 can get forces working for peace. It is inconceivable that anyone should contend that such a course is backed by intentions which are not strictly peaceful. There is nothing to keep Russia out of this, and no action of ours is contemplated which would keep Russia out if she showed the slightest signs of wanting to come in. But one thing is clear, and that is that Russia is not going to cooperate with a series of divided units, but means to fish in troubled waters. If we can rebuild Europe and achieve a world in which prosperity is increasing and the standard of living rising, even if the present rulers of Russia do not, the people of Russia will realise that there is another form of life possible, and will force their rulers to take a decent part in world recovery. It must be our objective in everything we are doing to leave the door always open for any sign of Russia's willingness to change her general attitude.
Obviously one must congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the conclusion of the Brussels Treaty, but should not that have really come a couple of years ago? It is one of the major tragedies of the day that our present Government, of its very nature, was unable to give the clear lead that the world wanted two or three years ago. It would have saved invaluable time, and we might have found ourselves a couple of years ago at the point we are painfully reaching today. Even today effective work may well be difficult if we get the confusion which we have had throughout the Debate from some hon. Members about a Socialist Western Union. I have not the slightest idea what is meant by it. I think the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) put the thing perfectly in an interjection as to what this Socialist Western Union meant or how it could possibly be achieved. It will be most regrettable if we are to have immediately feasible advantages messed up by a kind of thinking which is purely party politics. I sincerely hope that some really tangible advantages will not be lost—
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge (Bedford)
Does not the hon. Member realise that without a very large measure of nationalisation, socialisation or whatever else one likes to call it, it is quite impossible to rebuild the economy of Western Europe on sound working lines?
§ Mr. Maclay
I just do not realise it. I do not see how nationalisation is relevant. 1343 I would be delighted to argue the matter with the hon. Member, but we must not start that argument now.
§ Mr. Maclay
A great development like this cannot be dealt with on the basis of nationalisation or no nationalisation. It might be a very good thing if we dropped all talk of nationalisation. Western Union might then be easier to achieve.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Is the hon. Member aware that the report of the European Economic Commission, which was published recently, strongly emphasised that it is impossible to reconstruct Europe without comprehensive and stringent economic planning?
§ Mr. Maclay
Again one could answer that by saying that economic planning may be necessary, but we can argue for a long time what planning means. Of course, we need planning at the top, but that does not mean that there is any evidence anywhere in the world that the detailed kind of planning to which the hon. Member is alluding has achieved results. It certainly could not do so in an area the size of Europe. No one would deny that comprehensive planning at the top is needed, but one does not try to do that as detailed Socialist planning.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that one of the greatest factors in weakening the hand of the Foreign Secretary during the last year has been the amazing failure of nationalisation in this country?
§ Mr. Maclay
I think one can fairly say that many nations are watching to see if it can achieve results. If it had done so we should have made one of the greatest contributions to world politics or economics that has ever been made, but there is still no sign of it, and I do not think there will he. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about coal?"] This is great fun, but I must not continue on that topic because there are other things to be said.
We have a unique opportunity at the moment, even if it has come a little later than it might otherwise have done. Some things that can be done are essentially international, and I need not go into them 1344 in detail. There is the whole question of defence, which was so admirably dealt with yesterday. With defence is linked foreign affairs. It has not been made clear that the moment we work on a common defence policy we are automatically working on a common foreign policy. The moment we have done those two things we have begun to surrender sovereignty. That must be made abundantly clear. Quite frankly, I am very nervous about the extreme idealist advocates of the federal idea. I agree with what the Prime Minister said this afternoon about the stages through which we have to go in working towards the proper widening of Western Union until we can achieve some form of federal union.
International action can only go so far however. I suggest briefly some points which have to be resolved before any type of Western Union can be made to work effectively. These things are essentially national jobs. The real test of whether Western Union can ever work, whether the European Recovery Programme has been worth while, must be whether the individual nations concerned are themselves prepared to take the necessary action out of which most advantage can be derived from the American gesture. There are certain things which can only be done nationally. For example, there is the whole question of budget policy—whether the budget is being properly balanced, the achieving of a budget surplus on a really sound basis, such basis being the reduction of total national expenditure to something which the nation concerned can afford. There is the problem of a good many nations, including our own, of a swollen bureaucracy. A major problem in France and Italy is somehow or other to get the unproductive Government servants into productive work. There is something to be said about that in this country. All these are matters for national action. Above all, production has to be raised in individual countries in Europe.
If individual countries do not deal with these matters we cannot get the equilibrium which will make possible a wider development into something which is more ideal and which ultimately can take the form of effective federal government. The European Recovery Programme has given us a four-year chance to take these necessary steps which I do not think any supra-national body, such as a federal constitution must mean if it 1345 means anything, could insist on nations doing—those difficult things that have to be done even under the few headings which I have mentioned. Each nation in Europe has grown up with certain national characteristics and on certain methods of working, and it must be the elected government of that nation which will take the very tough measures which will be needed if Europe is to get back on to a sound economic basis from which we could bit by bit gradually hand over sovereignty until we achieved the kind of federal world which I think most people would like to see achieved.
The key, however, to the whole of the immediate problem rests on whether we can get the Commonwealth aspect integrated with what we are doing in Western Europe. I hope that the Government will be able to give us some better assurances than they have already clone about consultation at all stages of negotiation, not just when something is finished—that we should be assured that consultation begins on a departmental level. The technique of High Commissioner to High Commissioner does not achieve that result.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham)
I do not intend to try to follow the hon. Members who have immediately preceded me, particularly the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay). I agree with his general approach to the problem, although I would recommend to him two or three books on the subject of federal union, written by my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. Mackay). Nor do I intend to attempt to follow the very long speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), who always presents to the House the amazing spectacle of a man who holds with complete integrity and sincerity views which it is almost impossible for a man of sincerity and integrity to hold. In generosity, I will not refer to the fact that he was rather more offensive than usual to some of his colleagues, perhaps because he is suffering at the moment a good deal of frustration. I suggest that if he concentrates on "Keep Left" instead of "The Saturday Evening Post," he will concentrate on a very sound political background, and his political knowledge will be extended and become more realistic and steady.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Does the hon. Member realise that the foreign policy to which he makes objection is the foreign policy of "Keep Left"?
§ Mr. Hale
The hon. Member is wrong in that. He should read the pamphlet again. It advocated Western Union and United Africa, which I hope to mention later on.
It is three years ago today since the German forces capitulated unconditionally and we found ourselves able to estimates the ravages and sufferings of war; three years since we began to have time to take stock and to find that the war had left us with economic shackles that would cripple our people for generations. It is three years since we were able to estimate all over Europe the real, serious consequences of war. Our great Russian ally had lost millions of the lives of her people and the damage to her productive capacity could not even be counted in many billions of roubles. All over Europe—in Greece, the one spot on which I agree with the hon. Member for Gateshead—and in particular in the whole of Eastern Europe, there has been left a legacy of hatred, of moral degradation and of suffering that brings so much in its trail. In one of his more enlightened documents President Roosevelt—and most of his utterings were enlightened; I do not mean my comment to have any derogatory interpretation—said:The one thing to fear is fear.I would add to that, "The one thing to hate is hate." It is in these conditions, in which all over Eastern Europe there is fear and hatred, that we have to approach this problem. In Eastern Europe there is still the smell of the gas chamber, and in the derelict cities there is still literally the stench of unburied corpses. There is still the recollection of hatred and Eastern Europe is left a Rachel who is weeping for her children, and will not be comforted.
It is right that we should endeavour to have a complete understanding of our great allies, whose sufferings in the last war we should examine, and we should have comprehension and understanding of what is happening. It behoves all of us who approach these problems to bear in mind that peace involves understanding, and understanding involves comprehension of all the relevant facts, and that 1347 presumes an understanding and a realisation of the sufferings and losses they have sustained and of the big economic battles they have to fight to get back. Nevertheless, I say very deliberately, that it is right that our Russian Allies should understand that we know and recognise this policy of infiltration; they should realise that when a tired and tortured body fell from a window in the Czerny Palace a few weeks ago, it fell with a sickening thud which reverberated in the minds and hearts of men throughout the world. They should recognise that we know the technique, and that there is a limit to the operation of that technique, and they should recognise that the continuance of that type of infiltration is an unfriendly act against us and against our friends.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary yesterday was cautious, and rightly so. Obviously a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs cannot afford to take a false step or to proceed with haste. He was able to refer in this House to substantial achievements; the 16 Nations Conference, the five Nations Treaty, the setting up of the European Economic Organisation in Paris; these were all substantial contributions in dealing with this problem, and they represent substantial progress on the road we all seek to travel. It has been suggested in certain quarters that the progress along that road may be hampered to some extent even by the cheering planners ahead of him. All I can say to him is this: if as a careful driver and student of the Highway Code he takes the steady advice "Keep Left," he will find fewer people ahead of him than he would have found a fortnight ago. Of those who are left, most of them are men who have worked on this road for some years, who knew it indeed when it was a country by-way, who have planned it, laid it, channelled it and kerbed it, and have assisted to make the right hon. Gentleman's rapid progress possible, and are prepared to cooperate in making the road still further ahead.
I must refer, more in sorrow than in anger, to the speech the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) made yesterday. My hon. Friend referred to his comrades as "decoy ducks." He has his ornithology mixed. We have been called many kinds of birds in the course 1348 of these negotiations. As a dramatist he might have said there were cuckoos in the nest. My right hon. Friend really seemed to fear what my mother always warned me against—the consequences of my getting into bad company; it was her concern for my immediate future.
§ Mr. Hale
And what an unwise young man is the hon. Member for Eton and Slough. This is a question of world peace. We have had speeches in this House from hon. Members who have decided not to go to The Hague and still say that we must give the world an inspiring lead, we must call the peoples to battle and rally world opinion. But we shall not be able to rally it by stopping at home.
Let us examine what the hon. Member for Eton and Slough said. He objects to the chairman of the Congress; and he objects to being connected with it, even as an obscure back bencher, listening to what may be brilliant speeches. Who is the chairman of the conference? As my hon. Friend approaches the name, he assumes the position of a startled rabbit glaring at a stoat. The chairman of the conference is a freeman of the County Borough of Oldham, which I have the honour to represent in this House. The hon. Member draws a colourful and graphic picture of my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull and myself, punch drunk with rhetoric, blinded by cigar smoke, following the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) with constancy and faithfulness, as the lamb followed Mary. I think it is a slightly ungenerous picture. I do not know what I should suffer from remote association with the right hon. Member for Woodford. Knowing him as I do, I may say, perhaps, that he might profit considerably from my acquaintance—three days' association with me.
What is the subject we are going to discuss at The Hague Congress? We are going to discuss an all-party resolution tabled as a Motion in this House. How did it come to be tabled? It came to be tabled by a committee which consisted—using the hon. Member's general terminology—of three reactionaries, two decoy ducks and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough. Perhaps he was doubtful about one word 1349 or maybe a comma; he was slightly coy about the word defence; but on the whole, he associated with reactionaries—I hope my hon. Friends will forgive me using his words—and what is worse, he did it on a week day, when there is no absolution for such conduct.
§ Mr. Levy
I am sorry to interrupt. It is perfectly true that I took part on the drafting committee which drafted the resolution which is on the Order Paper today. My difference, however, was not a difference of a comma, but the differences I elaborated at length yesterday when, I am afraid, in response to barracking by my hon. Friend, I riposted with rather more vigour perhaps than I could have wished afterwards. The difference was a very important difference, and it is embodied in my Amendment on the Order Paper, which I recommend to the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Hale
I have read it and it is always pleasant to co-operate in any way with the lion. Member for Eton and Slough. I think we have got our respective views off our chests with the maximum mutual courtesy and the minimum moral harm.
Another wise man said many years ago:No man is an iland intire of itselfe, every man is a peece of the continent, a part of the maine; if a clod be washed away by the sea Europe is the lesse. … Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankinde and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.I am not making any special pronouncement about you, Mr. Speaker, in using the word "thee." I am addressing the House as a whole through you.
This very morning the whole world had a warning of the greatest possible importance from one of the most distinguished experts in the sphere of international food organisations—a real warning, a sound warning, a warning that everyone in the House with a knowledge of the subject would echo. We are advancing towards catastrophe. We are advancing towards catastrophe not only because of the ravages of the war, but because of the cost of preparing for the next war, because of the mounting scale of armaments, because of the rivalries and bitter animosities arising in this important sphere. One who is, I think, among the best American poets drew a picture of Abraham Lincoln walking at midnight: 1350The sins of all the warlords burn his heart.He sees the dreadnoughts scouring every main.He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders nowThe bitterness, the folly and the pain.He cannot rest until a spirit dawn shall come,The shining hope of Europe free:The league of common folk, the workers' earth,Bringing long peace to cornland, Alp and sea.We have go to bind up the wounds of the nations, to appease their hatreds, to stop their conflicts, and to direct their minds to examing the real obligations of mankind. To the federation of Europe, we can bring the federal principle of America with its Jeffersonian foundation; the art of France, and the French system—the model system—of colonial representation; we can bring Russia's contribution of the theory of racial minorities: we can bring Belgium's new conception, of juridicial equity; and more than that, Britain's long, deep-rooted heritage of Parliamentary liberty and democracy and, what is more important yet, the great invisible ties of comradeship and human understanding, the mutual understanding and tolerance, that for years have bound the British Commonwealth of Nations together. These are not small things. If we want a defensive system on the Elbe, if we are going to construct a Maginot line on the Elbe, let it be the one really effective Maginot line—a democratic, self-governing Western Germany, as a full partner and comrade in the new organisation.
United Europe means something more. It means a United Africa. It means the possibility of a trading federation stretching from the North Cape to Capetown. It means an area where we can develop what I would call the seven freedoms—freedom from fear, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of trade, freedom of information, and freedom of travel. We do not think of this unity of Africa in terms of "dominion over palm and pine." We think of it in terms of a continent gradually developing and extending the life and wealth of its people—of deserts that could be made fertile, of forests that could be levelled and brought under cultivation, of torrents that could be dammed, of food that could be garnered, of wealth of almost unexplored magnitude being 1351 brought gradually into the service of the peoples of the world. The Thunderer in one of its recent less impressive detonations dismissed those of us who think in these terms as idealists and visionaries. I have always taken the view that the valued realities of today were the ideals of yesterday, and when it comes to building a new world I, personally, would rather trust the poet than the logician—Say not the struggle naught availeth, The labour and the wounds are vain,The enemy faints not nor faileth, And as things have been they remain.For not by Eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light.In front the sun climbs slow—how slowly— But westward, Look, the land is bright.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I have nothing with which to disagree, I think, in the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale). The very last words with which he concluded were quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) on a great occasion during the war. He read those words out to me before he sent me on my mission to America, and as soon as I got there I heard him speak them on the wireless with a range of influence that covered the whole of that great country at a very crucial moment. While there is nothing from which I dissent in the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, with whom I look forward to collaborating in another place in the next few days, I can find nothing with which to agree in the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), who spoke before him. I wish that he were in the House at this moment, for I would much sooner say in his presence than in his absence what I am about to say, and what I hope he will, at least, read in HANSARD.
I think I have never heard a more poisonous or more pernicious speech. I do not think it will do immense harm—certainly in this country—because I cannot believe that anyone who is at all hesitating whether he will be on his side or the other will be anything but repelled by what he said. I do not think the hon. Member is very well qualified to speak on behalf of "our people." I do not think he is very well qualified to speak on behalf of his party—if, indeed, it is still his party: I have not read the stop press news tonight. I do not think he is very 1352 well qualified to criticise, with the viciousness with which he did criticise, Tory Members whom he accused of appeasing Hitler before the last war. I do not think his record at that time was such as to give him any special right to criticise them in the tone and temper he did. But if he does criticise appeasement in that tone, or temper, that does not particularly qualify him for now advocating a form of appeasement that goes even further in regard to a menace not less serious. Those of his words that may do some harm were those which he spoke about the United States of America. Really, I have hardly ever heard anything so fantastically untrue and ridiculous. He talked of power politics, and of America's exercising an influence upon the way of life of other peoples. It is quite true that America, like ourselves and practically every other country now, is interested in what is happening in other countries, and is trying to exercise an influence. One would not have gathered from the hon. Member that there was any other country in the world that was trying to affect the fate of other countries; and still less would one have gathered from him what is the difference between the kind of influence that America is exercising and the kind of influence that that other country is, in fact, exercising.
What is the purpose of America in the policy she is now pursuing? It is not, indeed, accurate to say, as the Foreign Secretary seemed to say a few weeks ago, that in the Marshall Plan she has only a humanitarian purpose and no political purpose. Of course, she has a political purpose. Her purpose is primarily political. But what is that purpose? It is a political purpose very much like our own during the war—the purpose of preserving her own and other people's freedom. It is in that sense, and in that sense only, that she is exercising an influence on political movements in the free countries of Western Europe. The distinction she has made, and the only distinction she has made, in her foreign policy, in regard to the whole conception and framing of the Marshall Plan, is the distinction between countries which have free Parliamentary systems and which decide their own fates, and countries which have tyranny and which attempt to impose that tyranny on other countries against their will. How can any hon. Member now say in this House that we 1353 ought to take an exact middle line between these two opposing policies? The classic example of the mayor who said on taking office that he would do his best to keep the middle way between partiality and impartiality is nothing compared to such a fantastic goal and objective. Here, on the one side, is America directing her policy to giving countries that are still free any help that they may desire in preserving that freedom, and within that freedom deciding what ever may be the form of domestic policy they wish, whether Socialism or not Socialism; and, on the other side, there is the other country imposing by force, menace and intrigue her own system of slavery upon others. I do not know that I need go further in answering the hon. Member for Gateshead. But I would like to say a little more about the purpose and attitude of the United States.
I do not think that the response and recognition of that purpose in this country has been quite adequate. There have been many references to the generosity in the financial sense of the Marshall Plan, but that financial generosity is, perhaps, the least remarkable feature of that plan, and of the policy with which it is associated. Take the record of America in these last seven years from the time of lend-lease, when there was a pooling of supplies without precedent in the history of war, to the subsequent U.N.R.R.A. contributions, the American loans and now Marshall Aid, which in their purpose, in their scale and in their magnanimity, in their freedom from hampering or restrictive conditions are beyond precedent in the history of peace. If we look at the part that America is now playing and her attitude to the attempt which we are now discussing in this House to form a Western Union, I think we ought to recognise that the pace at which, and the extent to which, America has developed a responsibility proportionate to her power is really miraculous. And not the least remarkable feature in that development is the fact that in this year—the year of the Presidential Election—the whole of the Marshall Plan, its conception, its legislation, the appointment of its administrators and the purposes for which it is applied, and the foreign policy of which it is a part, have been placed on a completely bipartisan basis and kept above politics. That is a very remarkable 1354 achievement to which I do not think that we as Englishmen can now refer without some sense of shame and humiliation. We have no election immediately in prospect in this country, and yet could we say that as a country we have risen to the same heights of magnanimity in regard to a great world policy?
I do not think that the Prime Minister can realise what it is that those who have criticised the Labour Government, or perhaps I should rather say the Labour Party, with regard to their recent attitude to Western Union really have in mind. Of course, we do not complain that the Labour Government are not going to The Hague. It is not a Governmental conference; but we greatly regret that the Labour Party has discouraged private Members from going to The Hague to take part in this conference. We think that it did so for very unworthy reasons. We greatly regret that there has been some attempt to associate the conduct of Labour Members in going to The Hague with those who sent the telegram to Nenni. There is all the difference in the world. Those Members who sent the telegram to Italy were acting in contradiction to the main purpose and policy of their party and of the Government, and, indeed, of the country as a whole in regard to a vital matter of foreign policy. Those Members who are going to The Hague are going to do what they can to help the idea with which the Government and I believe the country as a whole—but certainly the Government and the Foreign Secretary—have constantly, and consistently expressed agreement. They are going to help and not to wreck. That is one reason why we criticise; the other is this: We have seen what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) has been doing recently. We have seen the attempt to convert the movement for Western Europe into a movement for Western Socialism.
§ Sir A. Salter
The hon. Member says "quite right." I agree that it is perfectly legitimate for hon. Members who are Socialists not only to attempt to maintain socialism in this country, but to associate with fellow Socialists in other countries and to see whether, by the ordinary, electoral and Parliamentary 1355 methods which are used in this country, they and their colleagues can secure Socialism in the different countries now being brought together under the Marshall Plan. By all means let them do that. That is not our objection. Our objection is their making Socialism the condition of entry into this Union. It is perfectly clear that if there is to be Western Union now, it can only be on the basis of the union of free people each of whom remains perfectly free to elect a Socialist Government or a non-Socialist Government.
§ Sir A. Salter
Yes. Certainly that is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland is doing. What is his purpose? He brings in this question at the initial stages as a condition of the formation of a Western Union. Some things are perfectly clear. One is that the majority of the countries who are now coming into the Marshall Plan had freely elected their Governments and had chosen Governments that are not Socialist. The second thing is that after the experience of the last two or three years, where, in case after case, misguided Socialists have been tempted into association with Communists and have then found themselves trapped into preparing the way for a Communist coup d'état—after that experience there is now a notable movement not indeed to reactionary Toryism, but a movement to the Right of previous Socialist policy in most of the countries of Western Europe. It is perfectly clear that if this movement for converting the Western Union into a Socialist Western Union gathered some strength it could not possibly go so far as to achieve a Western Socialist Union. But it might well, in the attempt, wreck the possibilities of a Western Union between all free countries, each of whom would remain free to adopt Socialism or not.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton, West)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give some evidence of his previous statement that the attitude and policy of the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) was to try to convert the Western Union entirely to Socialism?
§ Sir A. Salter
He tried and apparently succeeded in persuading M. Blum who had intended to go to The Hague not 1356 to go, because The Hague is a Congress designed to help the union of the free countries without distinction between those who are Socialists and those who are not. May I finish this part of what I have to say by referring again to the attitude of America on this point? America has a strongly non-Socialist Government. America knows, as we know, that Marshall Aid, the principal slice of which is apparently coming to us, is absolutely vital to us in the next year or two. Nevertheless, America has made no distinction between the free countries which have Socialist Governments and those which have not. I ask the House: what would be our position if America, with the same temper and attitude of mind which has been exhibited here in the matters to which I have referred, had said, as she might have, "Not Marshall Aid for all free countries, but Marshall Aid td those free countries who have the same views as we have on the question of Socialism and non-Socialism."
I am one of the signatories to the Motion in relation to which the Debate is taking place, and I stand by the terms of that Motion. However, there are one or two interpretations upon which I should like to make some comment. The hon. Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay), in speaking of the advantage and, indeed, as I think he said, the necessity of Federal Union as distinct from what I think he called co-ordinating committees, spoke at one moment as if one could not go on with the immediate task until having got the organic union. He referred, for example, to the problem of the dollar pool. While I entirely agree with the second part of the Motion, which looks forward to Federal Union, I should be very sorry if the idea got about that we could not deal with the immediate problems until we had achieved that ultimate political development. Nevertheless,' I think that we ought to work towards that ultimate development. I agree however with the Prime Minister, that the way to work towards it is by dealing with the immediate problems, and constructing the political and economic machinery required to deal with those problems. Out of that I think we shall prepare the way for, and gradually construct, something like a closer union.
But, although it is well that we go step by step, and do not attempt to jump, we 1357 should have an idea of the direction in which we are going. I believe that where it is, and as fast as it is, possible to get a closer form of union, that is undoubtedly a better assurance against war between the constituent members than any form of inter-state organisation, such as the League of Nations, or the United Nations, which is an inter-State arrangement, preserving and not merging sovereignty. In saying that, I am not saying that we ought to contemplate federalism replacing the inter-state system. I believe that federalism must proceed slowly and partially. It is a remote possibility for the world; but it is a proximate possibility for those countries that are as nearly homogeneous as those of Western Europe. But I think—certainly during our lifetime—it is practically impossible to conceive of a World Federal Union. We may have groups of federal unions, with other States outside, not in the same union with themselves—or perhaps not in a union at all.
Therefore, I think that we shall have to have two movements in the world: one towards Federal Union, where it is possible, and the other an inter-state system in order to govern the relationship between countries which are not incorporated in the union at any one moment, or between the different unions that may be so formed. I therefore very much regret the kind of fratricidal conflict there has sometimes been between the League of Nations, the inter-state people, and the Federal Union people. I think that the inter-state people ought to recognise that, where a closer union is possible, that is preferable; and the Federal Union people ought to recognise that that will only be possible for some parts of the world, and that therefore an inter-state is also required.
Finally, I return to the problem of appeasement, or collective resistance. I do not, myself, despair of an ultimate settlement with Russia. But I do not believe there is any chance of a settlement with Russia so long as Russia can count upon, or thinks she can count upon, either a great and disastrous American depression—on which it is common knowledge she has been speculating; or upon success in the cold war, on which she has had both successes and failures; or so long as Russia thinks that she can deal with those who are still free, one by one and separately, along the lines of the Hitler technique. If we can show—as we can 1358 show—by union in policy and in preparation that we have strength in our own system, strength to rebuild prosperity, and strength to unite and preserve our freedom, then we shall be in a position to bargain from strength. At that point there may be still a very real chance of a settlement—and a satisfactory settlement. If hon. Members doubt that, and still think that we should not proceed with defensive arrangements in Europe in conjunction with America for fear of provoking Russia, I ask them to consider objectively, in the world as it is, in Europe as it is, and with Russian policy as we know it to be, whether on the whole the greater danger is now provocation to Russia through preparation or temptation to her through weakness.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
I have listened to most of this interesting Debate on Foreign Affairs, and I must say that on the whole I am pleased with the tolerant spirit shown on both sides of the House. During the last few months I had feared that we were, in 1948, gravitating to a dangerous position not very much unlike May and June, 1939, when the bogy was Hitler: the bogy at this moment is, to some people, Marshal Stalin. There are people in this and every other country who always find a bogy. Issues of grave importance to us have been raised in the Debate, but I must say, in passing, that speeches do not, by themselves, affect my mind about peace as much as do the actions of Governments in preparing for war. Neither am I impressed when Governments talk of defence, because for some Governments defence very often means that they are silently preparing for a conflict.
One thing of significance about the Hague Conference which has emerged in this Debate is that some people argue that we ought to have a Socialist European combination. I wonder whether the House will be good enough to follow a pet theory of mine about the universality of any "ism." So far as I am aware, there are over 60 sovereign countries in the world, but no two nations have ever been governed alike, and I doubt whether any two will ever be governed alike. If I read history correctly, it was argued in olden times that peace could be secured in the world if all human beings were either Catholics or Protestants. Another 1359 group in the Far East and the Middle East declared that if all mankind were of the Mohammedan faith peace would prevail. Then, I remember the old folk in the village where I was bred and born arguing on the other hand that there would be no peace in the world until we did away with all the kings; that monarchs and princes were the causes of every war in history. The first world war, however, destroyed about a dozen monarchies, but mankind is no more sane and peaceful after getting rid of kings, queens and princes.
I am not one of those therefore who believe that all the world can ever be Communist, Fascist or, indeed, Socialist or democratic. What is the use of talking of world peace if we say to America that until she becomes a Socialist State we shall not live in peace with her? The Americans would laugh at us; and, incidentally, we must remember the power of that country. As far as I know she produces more coal and steel, and has more factories, more aeroplanes and more ships on the high seas than the rest of the world combined. If he wants peace what is the use of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus—I wish he were still here—criticising and almost insulting America, the only Power left who can afford a war? One thing is certain: we cannot afford another war.
On that score, it may be early in the day to make a declaration like this, but if a conflict does ensue between America and Russia here is one Member at least who will plead for neutrality for Great Britain. We may not be able to achieve neutrality—it may be difficult—but one thing is certain and on which we must be clear: if a war breaks out between America and Russia with atomic bombs, more of which are probably possessed by America than by Russia, it will be a very sad day for the people of this island, which will be used, I suppose, as a base of operations. I plead again for an acceptance on all occasions of the fact that all nations differ in complexity and political outlook. What is the use of talking of a Socialist State to Turkey or to Egypt? And what should we say of the political systems of China, or India. I trust that in any peace negotiations, our Ministers will not take the slightest heed of the internal political set-up of any 1360 country when making the peace. We should accept France and America and all other countries for that matter just as they are.
I was rather astonished at the remarks cast by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead about the Leader of the Opposition having met Mussolini and probably having dined with him when he did not pay tribute at the same time to the same right hon. Gentleman for drinking champagne in Moscow with Stalin later on. If he knew the right hon. Gentleman as well as I do, he would not be surprised at his changing his mind or his politics every few years. I well remember the right hon. Gentleman as Liberal candidate for the Exchange Division of Manchester. We can see how far he has travelled since—he is now leading the Tory Party.
As one who has been here for some years I have seen many Governments come and go. Let us be clear that nothing can destroy a Government of the Left more effectively than war. The Liberal Party took the British people into the first world war; that was the end of the Liberal Party. The Tory Party took us into the second world war; that nearly knocked them out also and if this nation is taken into a third world war by a Labour Government, I would doubt the fate of the Labour movement with which I have been associated all my life. I appeal for as much effort to save the peace as some people are putting forward to prepare for war against Russia. I have been rather alarmed recently at two articles in one of our most responsible weekly journals, "The Observer," giving chapter and verse, statistics and strategy in readiness for the next war. I trust that our Government will stand firmly against any propaganda urging that our people shall enter into a third world war.
Nobody objects to Communism more than I do. I object to all forms of totalitarianism, and I draw not the slightest distinction between one form of totalitarianism and another. One of the reasons for my objection is that I deny the right of one man, or of a dozen or even 100 men, to presume in their arrogance and conceit to do the political thinking of millions of their fellows. I am astonished sometimes that dictators do not familiarise themselves with the fate of their predecessors. I once heard Mussolini speaking in public in one of the great squares of Rome, 1361 with thousands of people cheering him and his ragged soldiers standing to attention around him. I lived long enough forsooth to see it reported that the dead body of the same Mussolini was kicked in the same square, as if it were a piece of old leather, probably by the very people who cheered him a few years before. That is the fate of dictators. I wish that my voice, on this issue, would carry far enough so that all dictators would understand the fate that awaits them, too, if they continue to suppress their people.
I am not surprised at what is termed the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia. The Russians have never known what personal liberty means. Under the Tsar they were under the foulest tyranny, and I hope I do not offend them when I say that they have not since the Bolshevik Revolution tasted the right of free speech as we know it in this country. Let me, however, say something to the Tory party when they are critical of Russian policy today. Why are the Russians so suspicious of the British? If I were bred and born and lived in Russia all my life I do not think I could readily forget the campaign of the present Leader of the Tory party intervening with British troops in 1919 to try to prevent the Bolshevists achieving power. Nations have a long memory, and I should venture to say that the action of the right hon. Gentleman in spending £100 million of our money in 1919 in trying to prevent the Bolshevists coming into power has poisoned relationships between us and Russia ever since.
As is known to many, I have been preaching peace for years, and I should not like to think that in my lifetime I shall see still another world war, coming upon mankind. There have been 500 wars waged in history. They are all recorded; and not one of them has achieved anything worth while. What did the last war do? The only thing the last war achieved was to destroy two dictators in order to make room for a third; and those who once urged that the two dictators should be destroyed are now saying that the third is no better than the other two. Let me warn those who are now thinking in terms of war with Russia of what might happen at the end of another conflict, even if we should win with American help against the 1362 Soviets. Such a conflict would turn Europe into a shambles. I have been in the Ruhr recently, and I never thought till then that war could be so destructive. I pray and hope that the cities, towns and villages of these islands in which I was born will not be turned into sheer rubble such as I have seen in Cologne, Hanover and elsewhere. I therefore, preach peace at all times; and I wonder whether Members will regard me as being a very simple man for relating the following, although I do not mind much if they do.
I have just come to live in the little seaside place of Porthcawl, where one of the greatest epics of the sea was enacted last year. A ship called the "Santampa" was in distress in the Bristol Channel, faced with the most fierce storm in history. She had a crew of 40 men on board. They cried for help, and none was forthcoming. They cried for help again, and the Mumbles lifeboat went out with 12 men to their rescue. As the lifeboat got nearer to the ship the storm grew worse than ever, and the 12 brave men could do nothing but return to port. When they got back they thought again of the fate of those 40 sailors, and out they went the second time, and they never came back. And so down went the 12 members of the Mumbles lifeboat and the 40 sailors of the steamship "Santampa."
The lesson to Parliaments and to people all over the world is, that when the 12 lifeboatmen went out to the rescue of the crew of that ship they never inquired the nationality of the ship or its crew. The sailors might have been Greeks, Russians, Slays, German or British, but all that mattered to them was that 40 human beings were about to lose their lives, and they lost their own lives in an attempt to save them. I salute their memory, and I hope that some day the peoples of the earth, and of Europe in particular, will elevate their minds and thoughts to the realisation that mankind is not divided into races, into blacks, yellows and whites, but into ordinary human beings, good, bad and indifferent. I say finally to this House that federal governments, united nations governments and world governments are all right as pieces of machinery; but until the peoples of the earth accept the fact that men and women are very much the same throughout the world, there is no peace possible in spite of the best machinery we can ever devise.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
As I promised to be exceedingly brief, I will not comment on the speech which has just been delivered with great emotion, which moved the entire House by its sincerity. I hope that its message will go further afield, right be-bind the red walls of the Kremlin. As regards the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), I should like to ask him this question. If Fascism and Nazism are the evil things that he described—and I do not deny it—why was it that his ideological leader made a pact of friendship with the arch-Nazi of the lot ten years ago? I think that, that would be a very difficult question for him to answer.
The real reason why I wanted to intervene for a few minutes in this Debate is because I have a letter in my possession, which I received three weeks ago from an American business friend of mine in New York, containing a sentence I should like to read to the House. It reads as follows:Now that war is inevitable between the United States and Russia—This is an honourable, decent, sane, balanced, hard-working man, and yet that is what he wrote. He did not even attempt to excuse it afterwards. That, to my mind, is a dreadful and calamitous sentence to be passed across the Atlantic. If that feeling widely exists in America, then obviously something drastic must he done by us, and done quickly. On the one side we have unshakable friends in the United States, and on the other we have an ally to whom we are peacefully, I hope, tied for 20 years. Therefore, we cannot stand on one side and see at the least our country involved as a base of operations, possibly becoming the rubble heap described by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), or at most in the complete disappearance of civilisation as we know it.
I have tried to comfort myself with the thought, which was possibly wishful thinking, that no steps had been taken by the United States Government to damp down the war hysteria among their people because they wanted to get Marshall Aid through easier and then, having succeeded in that effort, we should see a lowering of the temperature in America. Such comfort as we may get from that 1364 thought should not blind us to the fact that at any minute some unforeseen torch may start the conflagration which will continue until the world as we know it is extinguished.
I am hopeful, because I know the Russians a little, as I was there for some years. They are a peaceable, kindly, friendly people desperately allergic to war. But they have leaders, and those leaders will, I believe, go to the 59th second of the 59th minute of the last hour in provocation but will not risk its final results. Unhappily we cannot be sure that a clash may not arise through some unexpected cause and for some unexplainable reason, and then willy-nilly we shall find ourselves in a position from which there will be no drawing back. We have already had a few experiences of how this calamity might arise. The Berlin air disaster has already been quoted, where a Russian pilot tried to be a little bit too clever and then found he was not clever enough. There are other provocative gestures of a similar nature we have seen, which before the war would inevitably have been the cause of war, which we have been able to avoid only by the deliberate policy of appeasement pursued by the Foreign Secretary. I am not blaming him for this, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that some of his hon. Friends and colleagues had harsh words to say about Mr. Neville Chamberlain when, 10 years ago, he tried that same policy.
I have said before, I believe in this House, that I thought there was one possible policy which might be adopted if the dreadful catastrophe which confronts us is to be permanently avoided. I believe that British and American public opinion will not tolerate the continuance of the tense atmosphere to which we are now subject. I also believe that it will not go on suffering the national insults and national dishonours which are being heaped upon it, by the Soviet radio and by "Pravda," "Izvestia" and other Government-controlled Russian newspapers.
Unfortunately, the old proverb, "A country gets the Government it deserves," has been heard by the world and that world, including the Kremlin, looking at the somewhat spineless grasp of affairs by His Majesty's Government, definitely believes that Britain is finished. They 1365 say, "It is true, the effort was too much for her; she is finished, let us get to the pickings." And so, amongst other indignities, we find Guatemala telling us where we get off. There is no significance in what Guatemala says or does, but that is symptomatic of the condition in which we find ourselves and what we have to expect in the future in the way of constant pinpricks and provocation.
Something must be done and done soon. I suggest that the Government consider and implement their own slogan "Let us Face the Future." Let the Foreign Secretary invite Mr. Marshall to pay a visit to Moscow, and let the issues be put before Stalin. It is the only way the Russians will understand that we mean to do something. Let us say, "Do you want peace? If so, we will give you peace on agreed terms, and co-operate in carrying it out," or "Do you want war? If so you can have it on our terms." We cannot go on as we are now. It is possible that Marshal Stalin will evade giving a direct answer. That is more than likely. What is to be done then? Are we to drift towards inevitable disaster, or take alternative action?
In support of the Motion on European Unity, I believe that the obvious course is to pursue with greater enthusiasm, determination and momentum the policy of bringing the Western nations, together, including Western Germany and also, I would say, Spain. It has now become national policy, or at least Socialist policy, to criticise Spain, and find no good in her. Why? Because Franco was the first to fight Communism in Europe, or because of an answer which the Foreign Secretary gave to a supplementary question some time ago, when he said, "I detest the Franco régime"? More than anything else that has inevitably kept Franco in power.
If we can make Western Union a success, and especially an economic success, and have in that group happy, contented, prosperous and strong nations, we shall have no trouble from Russia. If we can do that we shall induce the unhappy nations in Russia's cage—her victims—to break their fetters of their own volition, and join this association of free nations. The result will be that Russia, deprived of the safety belt which she has so wearily, hardly and viciously created, would be rolled back within her own borders. The 1366 nations of the rest of Europe would then be free to live their lives fully and according to their own political, social or ideological desires. I have made these few suggestions because of one sentence in a letter and because I believe they are the only means by which we shall prevent the world destroying itself.
§ 8.37 P.m.
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Acocks Green)
I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) will forgive me if I do not follow in detail all the points he has made. I agree with him on two points: first, that the great disaster which appears to be looming ahead must be avoided; secondly, that it can be avoided. I differ, however, about the methods by which I consider it can be avoided.
I would like to take up a point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) about the federation of Europe. The right hon. Gentleman said he regarded it as impossible of immediate achievement; although he welcomed it as a long-term objective, and said that all the steps towards it were to the good. I gathered that all steps are good so long as they remain only steps, and do not reach the goal. He said he regarded federation as impossible of achievement and he gave various reasons. I do not know-why he regards it as impossible. All I will say is that, for different reasons, I happen to regard it as possible. I believe it can be achieved. It must be left to history to decide whether I am right or he is. But federation must be achieved within a very short time if it is to be effective. We have a race against time if we are to stave off the appalling disaster with which we are now confronted.
The right hon. Gentleman said, looking towards me with, I thought, a sense of disapproval, that I and some others on this side of the House ought to be attending the conference at The Hague. For many years I have devoted all my spare time and my energy to studying the problems of federation. Nevertheless I am not taking part in The Hague Congress, not because I fear any sanction which might fall upon me for so doing from the leaders of my own party. Indeed, I made up my mind a long time ago not to participate in that Congress—and not because I did not want to sec Europe federated—indeed, I do—but 1367 simply because I believe the plans of The Hague Congress are the wrong ones for getting it federated. I want desperately to see Europe united, and peace secured.
I think it was the hon. Member for Northern Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) who said it was wrong to say that war was inevitable. That was reiterated by other speakers. I believe it is wrong to say that, but it is not wrong to say that peace is inevitable. The only question is: how soon? For the fact is that there never has been world peace—yet. My hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay), in a brilliant speech, showed that we can only get peace by creating government. We have not got world peace yet, because we have not got world government. In relation to war and peace the problem then is: how to create world government, and as quickly as possible. In relation to economics, particularly as regards this country, there is also the need for an enlarged area in which we can secure free trade; and in that context the pattern of a United Europe falls into its proper place.
In the few minutes which I wish to take up, I should like to ask the House to bear with me in discussions of first principles. It is so very easy to get bogged down by discussions of what are commonly called practical politics. But I want to consider what are called Utopian first principles, because along that line I think we shall find what we seek more quickly. As long ago as April, 1929, H. G. Wells in a speech, oddly enough delivered to the German Reichstag, said:Something very fundamental is being shirked and evaded in this peace discussion. The difficulty is the sovereign independence of States. That is a cardinal difficulty before us; and until we tackle it instead of walking round and round it we shall not make further progress towards the peace of the world. Peace and national independence is incompatible, and our world is refusing to face it.What he said then is true today. We may be nearing it, but we still will not accept the logical conclusion. We will not accept federation. We will take every step in that direction, but we will not surrender sovereignty. But until we do surrender our national sovereignty to a supra-national authority, we will never get peace.
1368 I am therefore staying away from The Hague, and for two reasons. One I want to give briefly and the other at slightly greater length. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) put it in a nutshell when he said that it would be all right to create Western Union if it could be done inside an effective world authority. A few years ago that was possible. We might have been able to create a United States of Europe inside the United Nations, and it might then have been made to work. I regret to say that that organisation now neither works, nor does anyone believe it works. The fact is that as an effective international organisation it has collapsed; and for that reason we cannot now create a Western Union inside it.
On the other hand, I believe we ought to tackle this problem of peace more fundamentally and on a far broader canvas. Let us get down to first principles and realise the fact that peace is in fact a by-product of responsible government. It involves the creation of this effective international organisation without which there cannot be created a nucleus Western Union. Let us consider what are the essential powers which any effective world organisation must have. It is not the slightest bit of good continually repeating the aspiration that world government is desirable. What do we mean by world government? We will find, I think, that when we approach this problem impartially and with a sense of urgency and the recognition that the ordinary man everywhere in every nation desperately wants peace and is prepared to pay the price if only he is told what that price is—we will discover that Bertrand Russell was right when he spoke on the radio a year ago. He then said:Never since the beginning of recorded history has mankind been faced by so terrible a problem. Either we must within the space of a few years, consent to an entirely novel form of political and military organisation or, if we fail in this, we must expect a worldwide disaster surpassing in its horror all that past misfortune enables us to imagine.And then he went on:There must be one central government possessing a monopoly of the more dangerous weapons and strong enough to insist on the substitution of law for anarchy. So long as no such central authority exists, war is sure to recur.Now, no such central authority does exist. It is, therefore, necessary that that central authority we so urgently desire be 1369 created. And it must have a monopoly of armed force to enable it to enforce its law and to "substitute law for anarchy." That means the nations themselves must be disarmed, for it is complete folly to create an international organisation and give it the power to enforce its laws and yet for nations to retain the armed forces with which they can oppose the enforcement of those laws. It means in fact for nations total national disarmament inside a strong federal authority.
And then there must be a world atomic development authority. That is the other half of the same coin. Secondly, it also involves the creation of a world bank in order that the currencies of participating nations should be linked. It means that there must be a world bank at the disposal of the central authority, because obviously the central authority has to pay for the services of the world police force. And there is another point that falls automatically into place. It is that the world authority needs to have the means at its disposal to initiate and to carry out large-scale economic development plans. Many of the criticisms that have been levelled at E.R.P. derive largely from the fact that the spending of the money for reconstruction is in the hands of people at Washington, whereas, in fact, it ought to be under the control of all those people for the good of whom it is to be spent.
I want to illustrate the second part of this point. I can do so quite shortly. Let us suppose that there does exist a central world authority which has powers to settle disputes on the basis of equity. Such an authority would immediately be faced with the problem in Palestine. It could quite easily solve that problem because if it decided that the solution was partition, it would, of course, have the force to enforce its decision. But much more important, it would have a world bank of its own at its disposal so that at the same time as enforcing partition it could propose the creation of, may, a Tigris Valley Authority, which would afford economic prosperity to the Arab states and more than offset their displeasure at the prospect of a partition of Palestine. You cannot have a world authority that can effectively settle disputes unless at the same time it can also initiate economic enterprises. It must have the power to do both in order to do either effectively. And if we are to have a central authority 1370 with those powers, why should we not give it also executive power to create and to run a world food board? Now, these four points will be agreed to by almost everybody. The question is, therefore, how can we create in time the world authority with those powers. I am of the opinion that this task cannot be done by governmental action. It cannot be done even by action through legislatures. Much as we might think that that is the shortest route, I believe that governmental action is in reality a cul de sac. Moreover it will be wrong to do it in that way. Now there is a point I would like to take up, made by the hon. Member for North-West Hull. He opposes the Amendment which I and some other hon. Members have put to his Motion, on the argument that Western Union can be more effectively created by getting Governments to sponsor the constituent assembly. It is odd for him of all people to say that. He has had experience in Australia as he pointed out. Then he should be aware that the federation of the Australian Colonies which was pressed for nearly 52 years was achieved finally only when the initiative was taken up unofficially and by the people. Federal conventions had failed on every occasion when they were sponsored by the State Legislatures, but at the Convention of 1898 which consisted of popularly elected representatives the present constitution was created.
We therefore say that the right course now is for a constituent assembly, with representatives of all the people of all the nations invited to attend should be held at Geneva in 1950. There a charter of world Government embodying the powers which I have mentioned should be framed. As the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) has pointed out, this constitution would be only a piece of paper. It would not, and could not, come into effect until it had been ratified by the nation States through their ordinary legislative processes. We say that there should be a clause in the constitution to the effect that the central authority should actually he created as soon as a given number of nations have ratified the constitution. If such a clause were not included we should merely perpetuate the veto. It is my belief that the Russians will not come into any such central authority which could govern effectively until they are perfectly certain that the United States and Britain will also do the same. It is not the 1371 slightest bit of good our saying to the Russians that we would do so if they did so also. That gets us nowhere.
It is necessary, first, for some nations to unite under these terms. When those nations have united, then is the moment to turn to the Russians and to ask them if they will do so also. Approaching the matter in that way will, I believe, remove from the concept of Western Union the stresses and strains of strategy. There is definitely an indication in the support behind Western Union that it is regarded by some people from motives with which I should not like to be associated. If, on the other hand, we design a constitution of effective world government containing within it provisions for regional federations, one of which must surely be a United States of Europe, we could then say to all the nations, including our own: "Will you come into this union, on these terms?" I believe that the ultimate miracle can then be achieved, and that world government and world peace by 1955 may indeed be possible. If I am wrong, and if the Russians are, in fact, intransigeant, it is for them to prove it by saying finally whether they will accept the constitution, but we can expect them to do so only after we ourselves have said whether we will come into it. That, then, is the moment to turn to the Russians and see what they are going to do.
I conclude upon a note which has already been used in this Debate. It is true that, in the last two wars, we have saved ourselves by our exertions. It has been suggested that, as a result of it, it is now possible, in the words of Pitt's Mansion House speech, for us to save Europe by our example. But that is not enough. We must try to save all mankind, the whole world, by our example, and in the crusade for world government, which I have tried to outline to the House tonight, that is precisely what we are trying to do.
§ 8.57 P.m.
§ Mr. Boothby
I have found this Debate fascinating. It has not had a dull moment; which is a good thing, because I have listened to most of it. I have found that each of the speeches, even that by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), had its own peculiar and particular individuality, adding in that way to my fascination. I think the House 1372 will agree with me that not very many of the speeches have been specifically addressed to the subject—constructively addressed, perhaps I may say—of Western Union. Nobody doubts the sincerity of the hon. Member for Acock's Green (Mr. Usborne). But he believes in world government, and he is not disposed at present to give very much countenance to any alternative. That is the impression which I have had from what he says, and what he writes. He is a world federalist; and he does not believe that anything short of the federation of the world is very much good. Other things may help, but will not solve the problem.
I take a rather different view. I would like to address myself, without any great vehemence or controversy, to the problem of Western Union. Hon. Members on all sides will agree that the collapse of Europe, following upon two world wars in which she was a major battleground; and accompanied by the rapid development of international economies in the west and in the east upon a continental scale, has produced a crisis for our democratic Western civilisation which we have so far made no attempt to solve. We have had very nearly three years in which to make the attempt; but that attempt has not yet been made. I do not think that it is too late. I only say that time is getting on.
As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) said in his extremely able speech yesterday, Western Europe is at the moment a power vacuum. Sooner or later that vacuum will be filled, either by voluntary integration achieved from within, or by forcible integration imposed from without. I do not think there is any question about that. Nothing is more certain—and it is almost the only point upon which there is universal agreement—than that the 16 so-called Marshall countries cannot hope to survive in the modern world as separate political and economic units.
I want now to put two propositions to the House with regard to Western Union; and I put them with great sincerity, and with all seriousness. The first is that, if it is to be of any use at all, this Union must be positive, not negative. If it is merely an expedient designed for immediate political or economic ends, it will fail; if it is merely a defensive alliance against 1373 the Soviet Union, not only will it fail, but it will almost certainly lead to war. Unless it is based upon values, upon a conception of life held in common, and also a sense of mission, it is nothing. Therefore, I say that any Western Union which is worth the name should enshrine, as part of its covenant, a charter of human rights, enforceable by an International Court. I believe that to be the necessary foundation of any effective democratic union in Western Europe.
My second proposition is that, if it is to be anything more than a meaningless phrase, it must involve some merging or pooling of national authority or sovereignty, for defined purposes. I do not much like this word "sovereignty," it is a louche expression, which everybody can interpret in different ways. If I may give my interpretation to the House it would be this: during the war S.H.A.E.F. was a classic example of the successful pooling or merging of national sovereignty for a defined purpose. It was a brilliant example of what can be done, and done quickly, in this time of peace which differs, alas, so little from the time of war.
It is interesting to observe that the Russians are well aware of this. The Russians do not want, at present, the integration of Western Europe. There was a moment in 1945 when they were so busy integrating Eastern Europe that, if we had gone on with the job, they might not have noticed—until it was too late—that we had been integrating Western Europe as well. To do myself justice, I was howling for the integration of Western Europe at the time of the San Francisco Conference; but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) pointed out, there were great difficulties—the emigré governments were naturally reluctant to give up any form of national sovereignty. Nevertheless, I am quite convinced that the newfound enthusiasm of the Soviet Government for the rights of all sovereign states not under their immediate control is mainly due to their disinclination to see anything in the nature of a united Western Europe.
It may be that the last paragraph of the Motion which my hon. Friends and myself put on the Order Paper of this House—and which, after all, was signed by a large number of hon. Members—is 1374 too precise, at the present juncture. The theoretical best is sometimes the enemy of the immediate practical good. But this I want to say on the subject of sovereignty, which has recurred today in speech after speech. In my submission, war is inherent and endemic in a world of completely independent sovereign States. I believe that to be true; and my mentor and teacher in this was, curiously enough, the late Lord Lothian. I remember 15 years ago taking a long walk with Lord Lothian at Sandwich; and he then expounded to me, with great force and passion, his theory and belief that the principle of the sovereign equality of nations was false and wrong; that it had no basis of reality; and could only lead to war, and world war at that. We were talking about the peace settlement of 1919, in which Lord Lothian played a great part, and which was negotiated on the basis of President Wilson's doctrine of self-determination.
What Lord Lothian told me at that time, and which interested me very greatly, was that his underlying idea, and the underlying idea of a great many other people in Paris, including Field-Marshal Smuts, was that the United States of America, France, and the British Empire should collectively discharge the function which Britain alone performed during the 19th century, through the exercise—invisible but unchallenged—of universal seapower. He said that the breakdown was caused by the fact that the United States contracted out, that the United States turned towards isolation and deliberately chose isolation; and we ourselves withdrew from Europe, following Monsieur Poincaré's abortive occupation of the Ruhr. I remember him saying that the result could only mean anarchy; and anarchy was what we got. The doctrine of self-determination led, in practice, in those circumstances and in these conditions, to secession; and to isolation on the part of the different sovereign States. For 20 years the disarmed, disunified and isolated democracies of Europe writhed in the rigid structure of separate sovereign States evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries; and, to use M. Litvinov's famous phrase,chloroformed themselves with the new narcotic, neutrality"—until mistrust, poverty and unemployment gave way to hatred, dictatorship and the new combination of Fascist aggressor 1375 States which led ultimately to yet another attempt to impose integration upon the Continent of Europe by force.
Why did all this happen? It happened, first, because the League of Nations was nothing more than a piece of diplomatic machinery; a manœuvring ground for the separate sovereign States in an anarchic world, without real power, and with war and the threat of war as its only instrument of policy. Secondly, because no single European country was, in isolation, even before the outbreak of the last war, an effective political or economic unit. What we have to face tonight is the fact, the dire fact, that both these conditions still prevail—the separate independent States of Europe are still not effective political or economic units; and there is no discernible difference between the United Nations Organisation in its present form and the defunct League of Nations, except that the League of Nations was a little more effective.
Isolation in the modern world is a terrible thing. I am old enough to have been in this House when it was considered to be a good idea, not only for the United States, but also for this country. The dream of every potential aggressor is to isolate his opponents, one by one. It was the secret of Hitler's success; and in this connection I wish to give a quotation to the House. My quotations will be fairly numerous, but not so lengthy as those of the hon. Member for Gateshead. I would like to give a quotation from our greatest political philosopher, Burke, which we should never let slip from the back of our minds:When bad men combine the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.There is profound wisdom in that. If we had remembered it 10 to 15 years ago; we should have been spared a lot of misery.
I now turn briefly to the economic aspect of Western Union. There is no doubt that the need for the economic integration of Western Europe is now widely recognised and accepted on both sides of the House; but do not let us under-estimate the difficulties, because they are considerable. We cannot, with our long-developed separate national economies, plunge simultaneously into a Customs Union; nor can we plunge simultaneously into free currency convertibility. 1376 I am the last Member of this House who would advocate currency convertibility prematurely, at any time. As for the suggestion of the hon. Member for North-West Hull (Mr. Mackay) of one universal common currency for Europe, I hope it may come one day; but in present circumstances it is quite unthinkable.
The correct and indeed the only practical method of approach to these problems is first of all, preferential arrangements, to which I am delighted to see that with every day that passes the Americans are becoming more and more converted. Even Lord Layton, the high priest of Liberal orthodoxy, has now plumped for preference as the best method of reducing existing barriers to trade. Also, so far as currency is concerned, multilateral clearing and payment agreements—that is the sort of method of approach which I am sure is right—and, of course, some kind of dollar pool. In view of the ghastly shortage of dollars that exists throughout Europe today, that is essential to any effective form of union.
The keynote, so far as the economics of the business is concerned, is, as I have often said to the House before, expansion, which involves the progressive abandonment of restrictive practices of all kinds, both on the part of employers and the trade unions, and also a greatly increased mobility of international labour. I was in Italy the other day. I only give this as an example, but some outlet has to be found for the surplus Italian manpower, if that country is to revive and recover. Unless some outlet can be found for their surplus population, there is no hope for Italy. There is room for this surplus Italian labour, not only in Europe but also in Africa, if we have the vision and the courage to go ahead.
What a field there is on the economic front for creative endeavour! First, there is the development and expansion of the Colonial territories, not of this country alone, but of all the countries of Western Europe; because therein lies the great future. By a miracle, the countries of Western Europe control vast territories of almost unimaginable wealth in the Far East, in Indo-China, Malaya and Indonesia; and also even greater territories over the whole area of the Continent of Africa. We will never get the development which is required by modern times and conditions by pedalling our own little 1377 way independently. In these great areas there must be regional councils. There must, in fact, be federation. It is the simplest and easiest form of federation which we can possibly achieve—to get these regional councils set up in the East and on the African Continent, bodies which could have a common and dynamic approach to the problems of security, of social welfare, and, above all, of economic development and expansion. It is almost the only hope of this island, and of the countries of Western Europe as well.
There is also the planned expansion of food production, to which my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull referred; the expansion of the basic industries, the development of hydro-electric power—which is untouched—and the rationalisation of transport. I give only one or two practical possibilities which do not involve any real questions of sovereignty—possi bilities in the economic field which I knew appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—and they can be extended almost indefinitely. But we must begin, the must make a start, we must get going, and I do not think—and this is the only concession I am prepared to make to the hon. Member for Gateshead—that we should seek, of our own volition, to cut off trade with the countries behind the Iron Curtain.
On the contrary, we should seek to expand it by every possible means, if they will permit it. We want their stuff; we want their timber, their feedingstuffs; and they want capital goods from us. I believe this is the only means of contact with these countries that we are likely to have for a considerable time to come. I am not by any means opposed—and I do not think anyone on this side is opposed—to a healthy, reciprocal trade between the countries of the West and the countries of the East in Europe.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Does not the hon. Member think the conditions imposed by the Mundt amendment to the European Recovery Programme will subject trade between Western Europe and Eastern Europe to control in the interests of American foreign policy, which aims at isolating Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R.?
§ Mr. Boothby
I do not think so. I do not think that is the case at all. I think, perhaps, the United States would look 1378 with some perturbation upon any proposal by which we should supply arms to the countries of Eastern Europe; and I sympathise with them in that view. But I do not think they would interfere with purely reciprocal trade between the West and the East of Europe.
Always in the background of this Western European problem is the continuing horror of Germany. This really is the crux of the problem which confronts Western Europe today. Unless and until Russia succeeds in uniting the whole of Germany under a Communist regime controlled from Moscow, she cannot be master of continental Europe. That is what she is now trying to do. Every day and every night, with every gesture, and every happening in Berlin, they want desperately to get control of the whole of Germany. I say—and I am sorry to have to say it—that by our insane German policy that is what we are helping the Russians to do. I will not continue on this theme; I hope we shall have a Debate on this in the near future. In all the years I have been in this House, I have never seen a problem which has been so persistently raised by Members on both sides, and on which the Government have been so totally indifferent. It is almost incredible.
The Secretary of State yesterday said he wanted to rebuild Germany. I hazard the suggestion that he will not rebuild Germany by blowing it up. He is continuing to blow it up—Heaven knows for what reason. I think it is about time this House asserted itself on the German question, because we are all largely agreed on the matter—and even the Ministers charged with the responsibility of administering Germany, as soon as they come out of office, make speeches in which they advocate a policy precisely opposite to that which they have been adopting. Everybody disclaims responsibility; but somebody must be responsible for this deliberate sabotage of the whole German economy. I do not know who it is. This refusal to allow 40 millions of the most industrious, hard-working, efficient, technical people in the West of Europe to restore any kind of economic life is incredible. At this moment, to have reduced the annual output of steel in the Ruhr from 17 million tons to 4 million tons is—and I repeat the phrase—in my judgment an act of insanity.
1379 It would be altogether wrong to dismiss or to disdain empirical methods. I admire the fanatics. They proclaim the ideal. They hold aloft the torch. They lead the way. I regard the hon. Member for Acock's Green as the ultimate fanatic, and I regard the hon. Member for North-West Hull as a moderate fanatic. I say, God speed to them. I am all for them. They light the way. The world would never have got very far but for its fanatics.
But, so far as I am concerned, just as I believe that regional international organisation is an essential prelude to any kind of global international organisation, so I believe that functional and therefore empirical, organisation is the essential prelude to regional organisation. All I contend tonight is that we must have some ultimate international, political authority or sanction, if anything is to work at all; because somebody has to give the orders. That is all I am saying. I make this appeal to hon. Members on both sides who are sceptical of the whole conception of Western Union, and particularly doubtful about federation—whether we call it the United States of Europe, or the Federation, or the Commonwealth of Western Europe, what ultimately emerges must, in my submission, be something less than a single sovereign State, but at the same time something very much more than a league of totally independent sovereign States. And for my part I am prepared to leave it at that.
I want to ask this question. What are the real intentions of the Government? They have never been made plain. I understand they were offered the Secretary-Generalship of the European Recovery Organisation; and they had in Sir Oliver Franks the ideal man for the job. I am told they turned it down. They sent Sir Oliver Franks to Washington, where, I have no doubt, he will do very well; although I do not think he will do as well there as he would have done in running this attempt to organise the economy of Western Europe. Where does the Foreign Secretary stand in this business? I listened to his speech with great interest. It was all right as far as it went. But I came to the conclusion that he does not, on the whole, stand at all. He sits in his frying pan, reluctant to get out of it.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
It is a good frying pan.
§ Mr. Boothby
I say that it is a hot frying pan. He thinks that outside it is hotter. But if he gave a really good heave, a really good lurch, he might get out of the frying pan, over the fire, on to dry land. [Laughter.] There is nothing like a mixed metaphor for driving a point home.
I come to the thing that has worried us for two days, that worries us all day and all night—this underlying struggle between two opposing faiths. In essence, it is a struggle between the religion of totalitarian Communism, or dialectical materialism, on the one side; and Christian democracy on the other. It is an underlying struggle from which none of us can escape, though many of us long to escape from it. Between these two faiths there can be no compromise; and in this struggle there can be no neutrals. I think the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary realise this. Some of their supporters are so reluctant to do so, for very understandable reasons, that they refuse to face the facts. The classic example of the refusal to face facts was the speech of the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) yesterday. Hence these stresses—these very genuine, sincere stresses—in the Labour Party opposite, not altogether incomparable, though fiercer, with the stresses which gripped my own party before the outbreak of the last war. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite still insist on proclaiming that Communism is really democracy. All I can say is that it is democracy with a "new look"—and it has a very fishy look to me.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington has dealt very well with the question of The Hague Conference. I do not want to raise any controversial issues tonight; but only to say that, of course, the Prime Minister made not the slightest attempt to answer the charges we have made against him from this side of the House because it is not what the Government have done, but what the caucus has done, that we complain of. They have deliberately thrown the spanner into the works. It is not to be denied that, if this is the impression we are going to give to Europe, that those who are really keen on Western 1381 European unity are themselves so disunited that they would not travel in the same boat or go to the same town—if we are pulling to such different purposes—it is not a frightfully good start to this general movement.
This I must say. If the Government think that they can achieve any lasting unity in Western Europe on the basis of Socialism alone—that they can spurn the assistance of all other European democrats—they are profoundly mistaken. That is isolationism of the worst kind. Moreover, the past record of the Social Democrats is not so impressive as all that. Before the last war, the most powerful Socialist Party in Europe was the German Socialist Party; and it was kicked out not by Hitler but by Von Papen, and went without a word. In this affair, the Government require, and should demand, the support of all men and women who are ready and willing to serve a great cause.
The question that has echoed and reechoed through this House today and yesterday is "Will there be war?" That is what nearly all of us are thinking all the time and it is a tragedy that, three years after the last war, we should be thinking of it. I do not think that there will be, if we can bring about the rebirth of Western Europe in time. I have not the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach—the same certainty of war—as I had in 1938–39. It is really a question of will. I would like, if I may, to quote a few sentences from Philip Lothian's Burge lecture, for he was a man of no ordinary stature, and, in a sense, they are his final message to humanity, especially to the Western world, which he knew and understood so well:I return to reason with my pacifist friends, men and women who hate war, who are prepared to make any personal sacrifice to end war, but who are in doubt as to how they should proceed so as to produce the result for which they strive. They will at least have no doubt about my opinion. It is that if they want to end war and establish permanent peace among men they must work for nothing less than the merging of part of the national sovereignty in a federation of nations. That is the predestined method by which alone the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man can come into visible expression on earth It is interesting to remember that the Founder of Christianity was sent to his death by a Palestinian mob because he refused to lend his support to the Jewish nationalist movement to break out from the Pax Romani.1382 It seems to me that the supreme object of our policy should surely be to build a democratic world order so strong that no State or combination of States will dare to challenge it. I agree with the hon. and Gallant Member for Carshalton that, for this, we shall have to make sacrifices. As Admiral Mahan said:The function of force is to give time tot moral ideas to take root.Such a democratic world order can only be built up by the creation of a United States of Western Europe, in some form or other, in close association with the British Commonwealth, and with the United States of America, upon whose material strength the entire structure must in the first phase depend. Without the full co-operation, active support, and practical assistance, both of the British Commonwealth and the United States, the idea of a Western European Union is nothing more than a mirage; and what nonsense those people write and talk who say that the idea of the British Empire and Commonwealth, and of a United Europe, are contradictory or clashing ideas. On the contrary, they are entirely complementary.
The process must he one of spiritual growth, as well as of material progress; and the end must be a series of organic acts of union. I see no other way. The choice that confronts hon. Members in all parts of the House, to whatever party they belong, is fundamental. I do not think it is obscure. It is the choice between international anarchy and the rule of law; between the rebirth or the doom of our Western civilisation.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
On a point of Order. It has been drawn to my attention that earlier this evening, when I was not in, the House, the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Astor) referred to myself and two other hon. Members as "crypto and cowardly Communists." If I were a Communist I should be a member of the Communist Party, and should not sail under false colours. I should like to ask you, Sir, first whether the word "cowardly" is a Parliamentary expression; secondly, whether it is in Order to impute to an hon. Member the deliberate deception of the electorate; and thirdly, whether it is in Order for an hon. Member to make an abusive personal attack upon another hon. Member without having the 1383 common decency to notify him in advance that he intended to do so.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member may be aware—perhaps he is not so aware—that that point, or part of it, was raised at the time the statement was made. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) was present, and said that he had been rehearsing his own speech and had not noticed what was said. I then said that I could not see that to call anybody a "crypto" something was wrong. One might be a crypto-Communist, a crypto-Conservative, or a crypto-Liberal. I do not think that is offensive. But I did indicate that to make personal attacks and to single out an hon. Member when making charges of any kind was not in accordance with the customs of this House. I hope that will answer the hon. Member's point.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Further to that point of Order. The charge "crypto-Communist" means being a secret member of the Communist Party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear.] The noise from hon. Members opposite proves what I am saying. It means being a secret member of the Communist Party while ostensibly belonging to the Labour Party. If that were true, it would be a very dastardly and infamous thing.[Laughter.] That laughter strengthens my case, Sir.
§ Mr. Speaker
We ought not to argue this now. The point was raised at the time, and I thought I had then dealt with it. After all, I have heard the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) called a "crypto-Conservative," and no objection was made to that.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge
In view of your rebuke administered at the time, ought not the hon. Member for Eastern Surrey (Mr. Astor) to have had the good Parliamentary manners to withdraw?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that there was anything un-Parliamentary or out of Order in what he said. I did say, however, that I thought it was not in accordance with our usual practice.
§ 9.34 P.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)
I was becoming somewhat afraid that events would compel me to deliver a "crypto" speech if I did not rise to my feet with undue haste.
1384 I should like straight away to say that I thought the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) delivered one of his usual very persuasive and eloquent speeches, in the course of which he said that he intended not to be controversial. I would hate to accuse him of bad faith, but he does not always succeed in that intention. I am not referring to his exaggerated and fanciful metaphor of my right hon. Friend in the frying pan, but I would refer to what I am sure was an unintentional slip on his part in suggesting we were pursuing a policy which involved the bringing down of German steel production from 17 million tons to two million tons.[HON. MEMBERS: "Four million tons."] Four million tons—I am sorry, I must have misheard the hon. Member. In any case that is unfair to my right hon. Friend. The steel production was brought down to four million tons by the R.A.F. and by Hitler, and not by His Majesty's Government. On the contrary, we have been raising the level of steel production and intend to raise it to 11 million tons, and we wish it were higher. I do not know whether the hon. Member meant to imply that we had reduced production to four million tons, but I resent the suggestion.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I will not go into that familiar debate. The hon. Member, who spoke in one part of his speech of a union, was speaking of Germany with an insular touch. The truth is that we have to look at Germany, not only through the eyes of the British people and Government, but as a European problem also. On the subject of Germany, we do not find to exist in Europe the same unanimity as the hon. Member claimed. My task is not to follow the hon. Member for East Aberdeen so much as to revert to the beginning of the Debate and give answers on a number of detailed points. I have been asked a considerable number of questions but shall not be able to answer all or enough of them at sufficient length.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) and the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air-Commodore Harvey) raised questions concerning the Far East. The Government regard the completion 1385 of the Japanese treaty as long over-due and a matter of urgency. Not only Japan, but all the nations of the Far East must learn where they stand, for the reasons which were put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden. In particular, the level of Japanese industry needs to be known.
I was asked what our policy is. A draft paper which is before the Far Eastern Commission is rooted in the original suggestions of His Majesty's Government. We feel that that paper has prospects of being agreed to by the members of the Far Eastern Commission. It needs not only the agreement of the Far Eastern Commission, but would need agreement also at a Peace Conference, if it were called, before the final level of Japanese industry can be determined. The present paper incorporates suggestions of almost all of the members of the Far Eastern Commission and offers us hope of unanimous agreement.
Time is short and I will not go into all the figures and details which have been asked for, but they are all available. Hon. Members may have seen reports that the United States—whose taxpayers are paying the cost of the Japanese occupation, a situation in which we sympathise with them—are considering how to reduce the burden on their taxpayers. While we sympathise with this objective, we would naturally expect that we and the other powers concerned should be given an opportunity of considering carefully any major changes in economic policy for Japan which the United States may wish to propose. As in Germany, so in Japan—we must try to get these post-war tangles behind us. Uncertainty is a great enemy in Japan, as in Germany. It destroys not only the ability to plan recovery but the will to work for it. We have lost no opportunity of stating our view of the necessity of an early treaty. Unfortunately, we cannot make progress without a substantial measure of agreement on who is to compose the Peace Conference. We stand by the statement we made in the past, which my right hon. Friend has asked me to re-affirm, that the Conference must include representatives of all the countries which fought all through the war.
I was asked a number of questions about other aspects of our policy in the Far East. I was asked what we are 1386 doing in regard to South-East Asia to implement our new treaty with Burma? The answer is that we have the British Services Mission now in Rangoon, and we are doing everything possible to help the Burmese to deal with their very serious problem of internal order. Burma is now a matter for the Foreign Office. We have built up our Embassy there, and we are giving them all the help we can in the extremely difficult job arising from the difficulties of their new independence, their war devastation, their problem of internal order and, of course, the difficulties arising after the assassination of their leaders and the tragic death of Aung San. We have done our best, and we shall continue to do our best as allies of Burma.
The other aspect of South-East Asia to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was the Killearn Mission, about which I want to say no more than to draw attention to one feature which may not be well known, and that is that the numerous countries which form these monthly liaison meetings in South-East Asia, which have been going on since the Mission arrived two years ago, have never once failed to reach unanimity on their recommendations and decisions. The representatives at these meetings are from the following countries: Burma, Ceylon, French Indo-China, Hong Kong, Malay Federation, Singapore, the Netherlands East Indies, North Borneo, Sarawak, Australia, Siam, the Philippines, China, the United States and India.
It is a remarkable thing that this executive work, with the very big responsibilities of co-ordinating food production in, the area, such as allocating rice, preparing shipping programmes, arranging transport priorities, allocating coal and sending out agricultural advisers, should have been done without any lack of unanimity. It is a great constructive achievement, and it owes a great deal to the exercise of the personality of Lord Killearn and to the conferences he has convened. There has been established in the true sense a regionalism in an area where it has never been known before. It illustrates the theory that these economic factors need not be a cause of jealousy and friction between one country and another, but, properly handled, can be a great means of binding them together. This work will proceed under the new Commissioner-General, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald. The 1387 conditions in South-East Asia are now improving slightly. The rice ration has been generally increased, and the prospects are not unpromising. We in the United Kingdom will devote ourselves to promoting the maximum further recovery. Our essential political aim in South-East Asia is to promote the material welfare of the people there.
I was asked a number of questions on the Middle East, and the right hon. Gentleman asked for a categorical assurance that we would stay in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean. I give that assurance freely and willingly. His Majesty's Government recognise that the Middle East is a vital factor in world peace. We recognise that it is of supreme importance to the safety and welfare of the British Commonwealth, and we are determined to stay there. I was also asked by the right hon. Gentleman whether I could give an assurance that our policy would be based on social progress and whether we would pay regard to the new forces arising in the Arab world. This request seems to me to be chiefly notable as evidence of how the ideals of this side of the House turn up in strange places. I thought the right hon. Gentleman might have been quoting my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary who has, on many occasions, not only stated that, but acted upon it—
§ Mr. Mayhew
It is true that we did not institute the Middle East Economic Office, but we have saved it, developed it, and carried it on.
§ Mr. Mayhew
If there were time I could quote more instances. That is just one instance of the policy which my right hon. Friend put forward, and which has been carried out. Looking at Palestine and the other difficulties in the Middle East no one would deny that they have overshadowed the long-term economic and defence plans, and have made it impossible, in many ways, to go on as fast as we would like. But this Middle East organisation is freely used to an increasing extent by Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Experts have visited all these countries, on invitation, and their advice has been given and acted upon in very 1388 many cases, including agriculture, forestry, social questions, and related subjects. In the Middle East office pilot projects for soil conservation and forestry have been initiated. There has been a good deal of constructive achievement in the Middle East in conformity with the policy laid down by my right hon. Friend. For instance, there is the huge Iraq irrigation project. That is now being held up by the financial and political difficulties of Iraq itself, and the Iraqi Government have not yet accepted all the projects in-included in this vast enterprise. Nevertheless, what has been agreed is tremendous, and when the whole scheme is agreed it will be found to be nothing less than an economic and social revolution in Iraq. When the full scheme is in operation it will multiply by 150 per cent. the entire cultivated area of Iraq.
§ Mr. Mayhew
On the contrary, the plan is the work of The Haigh Irrigation Mission, sent out in 1946, the technical reports of which have now been received. That again has been helped by the initiative of my right hon. Friend.
I would like now to turn to the question of the Sudan. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) asked me if I could say anything about what he considered was the obscure situation regarding Sudanese self-government. Briefly, the position is this: in 1944, the Sudanese Government set up a Sudanese administration conference of all Sudanese parties, except those who declined to attend. Its aims were to connect the Sudanese people more closely with the Administration, and to increase their responsibility for government. A year later a report went to His Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government as co-dominies of the Sudan. These proposals involved extending the Northern Sudan Advisory Council into a legislative assembly for the whole of Sudan. Except for a few cases all its members were to be directly or indirectly elected. Simultaneously the Governor's Council was to become an executive council, including six Sudanese under-secretaries. His Majesty's Government welcomed these proposals, of which the Egyptian Government made several criticisms. 1389 These were embodied in various Amendments made to the proposals, and friendly discussions are now proceeding with the Egyptian Government as a result of which we hope for agreement. We feel we have done all we can to help forward Sudanese self-government.
I turn to the latest speeches made today in the Debate on Europe and Western Union. Two speeches of a rather similar character were made by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) and the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) who I regret to say is not here now. These speeches I suppose one could describe as progressive, democratic, anti-Fascist but Communist. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead will deny that they are Communist or that they owe anything to the Moscow Radio. If he says that, of course, I believe him, but from North Korea to King Street there is not a Communist who would not be proud of them.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Is it the hon. Gentle-man's habit to judge everything not by realities or facts but by attaching the label of Communist or anti-Communist?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I am perfectly willing to judge a speech on its merits. My only criticism, if it is a criticism, of the hon. Member's speech is that it is completely familiar to anybody who has heard any Communist propaganda in any country of the world. It is completely unobjective. What is the main thesis? I cannot go into it in detail but much of it is such self-evident nonsense as not to be capable of repetition. The main thesis is that American economic aid for Europe without political control is Imperialism, and Soviet Russian political control without economic aid is sheer good neighbourliness.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Does my hon. Friend assert that I mentioned one single word comparing Soviet policy and American policy, because I did nothing of the kind? Does he deny the fact about, the controls under the Marshall Plan and Averil Harriman's intentions as regards the nationalisation of steel?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I deny almost everything that my hon. Friend has said with one exception to which I will come. When he was challenged for the source of his information he used United States newspaper reports. In another context what 1390 does the hon. Member say about the United States newspapers? They are hysterical, inaccurate and capitalist, but when it suits him to make some fantastic misquotation, he uses them. He has wasted the time of the House with the speech that he made tonight, and I shall not go into any details in an attempt to refute it.
There is one point where I agree with the hon. Member, though I do not agree with the tone and the way in which he made the point. He referred to the executions in Greece. The truth of these executions is as follows, and I am sure that the House will agree that this is a most serious and important matter. For some weeks past the Greek authorities have been carrying out the execution of persons sentenced to death for common law crimes committed during the 1944 rebellion.
§ Mr. Mayhew
These persons convicted of common law crimes were specifically excluded from the amnesty clauses of the Varkiza Agreement and had mostly been in jail for up to three years, owing to the time taken to hear successive appeals up to the end of April. Over 100 executions of that type had taken place when, on the 1st May, Mr. Ladas, Liberal Minister of Justice, was assassinated by a Communist, who had recently been released from exile. On May day, General Markos in a broadcast, incited his followers in the towns to carry out further attacks on Greek political leaders. On 4th May Mr. Rendis, Liberal Minister of Public Order and provisional Minister of Justice, is reported by Reuters to have ordered 152 further people to be executed and is also reported to have used the phrase, "Clear the files of another 830 convicted persons." His Majesty's Ambassador has been instructed to make a report immediately. In the meantime it is clear that these wholesale executions will come as a grave shock to decent opinion. His Majesty's Ambassador has been instructed to represent this to the Greek Government in the strongest terms.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I feel tempted to add that these events have been made possible and do become possible only when minorities use civil war as a method of policy, and 1391 when other countries encourage them to do so. Let no one be led by propaganda to suppose that the acts of the Greek Government cannot be paralleled and will not be paralleled by those of their enemies. If criticism can be made against oppression and justice in Greece, no Communist has any moral standing whatever for making it.
Spain has been mentioned upon the Opposition side. There seems to be a spirit of "forget and forgive" on the subject of Spain from the benches opposite. All of us would like to see Spain not ostracised but part of the community of nations; but Franco must go first, as has repeatedly been stated by His Majesty's Government. As my right hon. Friend has said, the success of Western Union and of E.R.P. depends on their having an underlying moral basis. There is no room, therefore, in that conception for Franco Spain.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I am afraid I must pass over a very large number of points which were raised both today and yesterday, but I know that my right hon. Friend would want me to comment briefly upon the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head). I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that the dangers of what he called "cardboard structure pacts" are fully appreciated as also are some of the military factors which he mentioned. There is no cardboard, I can assure the hon. and gallant Member, about the general defence conceptions of my right hon. Friend nor about the Brussels Treaty, nor about the measures of joint defence and production which we are attempting in implementing it.
My right hon. Friend would also want me to stress, I am sure, that in meeting this challenge of Soviet Communist ex- 1392 pansion, success in the long run will depend not merely on the negative defensive measures we take but on our capacity to rally enthusiasm for our positive ideals. As the hon. Member for East Aberdeen said, if Western Union is to be purely a negative conception it will fail. Certainly, the final answer to Communist infiltration is in the positive success of democracy. So far as the new technique of Communist infiltration has been tried, it has been effective. In country after country freedom and national independence have been destroyed. It is essential that the countries of the West should make it plain that this technique cannot be used successfully again, that we democracies intend to remain democracies and that the Communist countries must do business with the Governments of the West, and not with unrepresentative minorities in our midst whom we repudiate.
Hon. Members opposite have accused us of a lack of a sense of urgency in foreign policy. It seems to me the accusation is totally unjustified, especially when it comes in the tone of voice and in the somewhat superior manner of men who have no alternative policies of their own to suggest. The truth is that hon. Members who criticise us have put forward nothing constructive in the place of what they are criticising. It is totally unjustified to state that we lack a sense of urgency in these circumstances.
I would like to end by referring to what has been said by several speakers about the perniciousness of the theory of the inevitability of war. Once war is regarded as inevitable there is only one logical policy left, and that is to strengthen yourself and to weaken your supposed enemy. Such views on the inevitability of war are utterly repudiated by His Majesty's Government.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.