§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
Last Monday we finished a two-day examination of the broad economic and financial situation, with the gains and the losses of four years. Today we have to cast the account in the sphere of foreign policy, and I am bound to admit that it would be ungenerous not to recognise the special difficulties within which the Foreign Secretary has had to work. Some of these have been imposed upon him, some have been the contributions of his own colleagues, and some, alas, spring from his own mistakes. In the first category, as we all know, has been the persistent malignancy of Soviet policy. This has been directed, ever since the war ended, to the old Soviet policy of subverting what they call capitalist society by every means in their power. This purpose, alas, marches hand in hand with the expansionist and imperialist traditions which they have inherited from Czarist days.
I will not weary the Committee today with a recapitulation of this terrible story of annexation and aggression. Nevertheless, we would be foolish if we did not keep always in the front of our minds in 1571 all consideration of foreign policy the immense advance in Eastern and Central Europe which the Soviet power has made. Perhaps the chief criticism which might be directed against the Government is the long delay in recognising the true character of Soviet aims. It was clear by the end of 1945, and it had become clear beyond doubt by the end of 1946; yet it was not until the end of 1947 that the truth was acknowledged, and with the failure, as hon. Members will remember, of the St. James' Conference, there could be no longer any possible doubt. For two and a half years, therefore, our policy has been hampered by clinging to hopes which were doomed to be frustrated.
I recognise, of course, the Foreign Secretary's special difficulties. He has to achieve the volte-face in Socialist policy with the minimum danger of disruption to his own party. In this he has, I am bound to say, been very successful, and what was once quite a large body of fellow-travellers has sunk to a few unhappy hitch-hikers. He has been handicapped also by the optimism he expressed at the Election four years ago, when he said:Left can speak to Left with comradeship and confidence.I am afraid he has not had much comradeship from Mr. Molotov, and I do not suppose he has very great confidence in Mr. Vyshinsky. But at any rate he has done this: in educating himself he has educated a very large part of the British people, and that is a substantial and valuable contribution. Nevertheless, the delay has been serious. As in the economic, so in the foreign field. Policies -which might have been fruitful had they been timely become barren if they are too long delayed.
In this Debate, in spite of all the temptations to cover a very wide field, I propose to confine myself to two questions only: the question of Germany and the question of the movement for European unity. I shall leave the other matters—the Middle East and the Far East, for example—to be dealt with by other Members on this side, and I have no doubt that they will be answered at a later stage in the Debate. In my view, Germany is, in every sense, the key to Europe and the key to peace, and on the management 1572 of German affairs turns the possibility of a long period of peace and reconstruction in Europe. The German problem, therefore, is the most vital of all the problems which the Government have had to handle. No doubt the Foreign Secretary will be able to give us his latest information on the position in Berlin.
Anyone who has read the proceedings of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris must feel that it is primarily a record of agreement to differ on all the major issues. Nothing has been settled as regards the unified control or unified government of Germany. Nor has there been any very great progress since the Conference, alas, in the practical handling of the Berlin situation, for, while it is true that the blockade, in the sense in which it has been imposed for many months, has been withdrawn, I read—and I only know, of course, from the information available to us all—that it has been succeeded by what is popularly called "the little blockade"; that is to say, while rail and water transport is not interfered with, road transport has been hampered by the closing of all the road crossings except that at Helmstedt. The stand of the Western Powers, the determination to keep Berlin and their position in Berlin, and to maintain it by the airlift, has won universal admiration, and once more, if it is not impertinent to do so, I should like to repeat our thanks and congratulations to all who are concerned in that spectacular operation.
At the same time, I have been rather puzzled by what seems to me to be a sort of switch in Russian policy which appeared to take place between the period of the Washington talks in April and the present time. While I do not think the broad strategy of Russian policy alters very much, sometimes there are bewildering changes in tactics, and I cannot help thinking that in April the Kremlin had reached the view that American power—political, military and economic—was not to be shaken. It may be that they have now interpreted the first signs of what is called the recession in America on orthodox Communist lines as the beginning of the long-awaited capitalist collapse. That would explain a hardening of the position regarding America between the conversations in Washington and the position taken up in Paris, and, still more, in the 1573 reimposition of all those embarrassments and hindrances to the movement of goods from the West to Berlin.
It may be that the explanation is much simpler, and is simply that the Russians are not anxious that a contrast should be drawn between the state of Russian-held Germany and Western-held Germany by allowing a too free flow of goods to go rapidly into Berlin. In any case, the broad situation in Berlin is an undoubted success for the Western Powers. Even if the Russians are carrying out their side of the bargain reluctantly and unreliably, we have earned a vast fund of goodwill and good relations from the German people. Let us see to it that this fund of goodwill is wisely used and not squandered.
We have had many Debates in the last four years on the workings of the Allied Control Commission and the policy of His Majesty's Government and the Western Powers towards the German problem. Looking back, I am sorry to say that my hon. Friends and I have not gained a great deal of satisfaction. We do not feel that the Western Powers have ever firmly grasped the need for a definite policy towards Germany, and we fear that the old dualism, which proved so fatal between the wars, may be repeated. Is Germany to be kept down, or is Germany to be revived? Is Germany to be united, or is she to be divided? Is she to be an independent Power, or kept permanently under control? And when that control is removed—and that is the vital day, whenever it may come—what will be the reaction of the German people? All those were problems which haunted the statesmen after the First World War. They did not find the answer, and it is largely through their failure that the second war occurred. Shall we be more succesful this time?
I hope I shall not be thought ungenerous or unfair to His Majesty's Government if I describe some of the policy they have pursued towards Germany as somewhat naïve. They have believed that it was possible, with the help of a few schoolmasters and other worthies, to reeducate Germany, to teach her democracy as we understand it. But democracy is not learned by precept, or taught by books. It can only result from long and intensive practice in every degree and scale of authority through decades, and 1574 even through centuries. Nor was there any reason to suppose that the particular form of Parliamentary democracy which we favour, with all its corresponding apparatus of elected local governments, can be precisely reproduced in any other country by anything except the gradual growth from genuine native roots.
I sometimes think we ought to try to put ourselves in the place of an ordinary German citizen of good type, not a Nazi, not even militaristic, who has had no special connection either with the central or the local government, either in the old imperial days, or in the days of Nazi control. In whatever class we might place such a man—whether a landlord, an officer, a non-commissioned officer, an agricultural worker, farmer, or an artisan—what we want to think is how he would judge and how he is now judging the efforts of the Western Powers in his country.
First, he will have seen a very curious contrast between the American and the British method right from the start, one riding with a continuing loosening rein and the other much more tightly held; the American with small and continually reduced staff and the British with a staff which all of us felt and still feel to be unduly large. He will have observed that in the British Zone the internal policy of His Majesty's Ministers in Britain are being clearly reflected. They have tried to impose, or suggest, their particular brand of Socialism and have expected him to welcome the idea that his great industries should be nationalised and subjected to the same dead hand of which they have not been slow to observe the results in Great Britain. We have had a great deal—[Interruption.] It is their free choice and we have no right to direct their choice. They have had a great many lessons on the benefits of social democracy, but what they should have seen in Central and Eastern Europe is that social democracy has been a prologue to Communism.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Perhaps the hon. Baronet will allow me to develop the theme and then I will give way. He will have noticed, except as far as the C.D.U. is concerned—and that is predominantly 1575 a Catholic party—that there is no responsible party of the Right which has been allowed to come into being.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I think that is very dangerous and it is not to be wondered at that less respectable forms of nationalist revival are forming themselves underground and unrecognised and none the less dangerous on that account. It is perhaps worth noting—I am only stating the importance to Germany which alarms me—that one of the most successful pamphlets which has swept over Germany is Colonel-General Halder's thesis. That is the old cry that it was not the professional army which lost the war, but the political follies of Hitler and his officers. It is another form of the excuse which became so dangerous after the first war. There is the Right Wing Nationalist "League of Independent Germans" to which I think the hon. Baronet may have been referring. It has not yet been licensed as a political party but it is not on that account to be disregarded; it may on that very account grow in strength.
It is reported that a union has been or is about to be made between this movement and the movement of the German refugees from Eastern Germany which is sponsored by Pastor George Goebel. This gentleman made a formidable declaration which is of great importance. He, the leader of this great party of refugee Germans, said:Do not drive us into desperation, as otherwise we could become the torchbearers of Asia. The Asian flood once put into motion will not halt at the English Channel.Those are sinister words. My mind goes back to the Rapallo Conference. It was the agreement between Stresemann and Chicherin which was the precursor of the Stalin-Ribbentrop Pact.
That is really the true danger to European peace, because if Germany cannot in some way or other be attached firmly to the West I fear that nothing can prevent her from sliding, either by purpose or by mistake, into the power or control of the East. Some may think that Communist aggression is the greatest danger that threatens the world today; others may think that the revival 1576 of Nazism in Germany is the greatest danger, but I think that everyone would agree that the greatest danger of all would be a combination of the two.
I go back to the ordinary German man whom I have been discussing. He may not be attracted by our form of democracy; he cannot learn it out of text books. He sees his country in the hands of a bureaucratic control, which however well meaning has had many faults. He sees perhaps little chance of reconstituting his country by peaceful means amid the quarrels of the great Powers. As I say, he is at the same time subjected to an immense nationalist propaganda, not only by these unlicensed movements I have mentioned, but by the natural tendency of all the official parties at the time of the election to rise again upon the nationalist cry. At the same time he is told that the Allies are wantonly dismantling his factories, not only for security but for competitive reasons. Is it to be wondered at that this ordinary German whom I have tried to picture is in a state of some uncertainty and confusion? The one great achievement on the other side has, as I have already said, been the success of the Berlin policy and the airlift. Do not let us lose the chance of using it now.
I mentioned dismantling but I do not wish to raise again in any detail this complicated controversy. All I can say is that from this side of the House we have time after time appealed to the right hon. Gentleman for early finality in this matter. Instead of that it has dragged on and on. The hon. Member who is the chief protagonist in this matter is not in his place today, but he has done a great deal to remind us continually of its importance. But it has gone on and on:If it were done, … 'twere well it were done quickly.Dismantling, which is certainly appropriate to a country in Germany's position in the first month or even years after defeat becomes, if it is allowed to drag on, a grievance far greater than its true importance justifies. I know that there will be differences of opinion between the Allies. That is one of the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman, but difficulties are made to be overcome. The position as I see it is that whereas a final decision should have been reached at least two years ago, the matter goes on 1577 and on, with all the dangers of which I have spoken.
In the same way the trial of war criminals should be swift as well as just. I know that it is very easy to arouse passion on either side on this matter. I would only say, and I profoundly and sincerely believe it to be true, that I do not believe that there is any British man or woman, however much they or their families may have suffered in the war, who can see without distaste the spectacle of an aged German general being brought to trial four years after the total surrender of Germany. I know nothing about his guilt or innocence, I know nothing of the facts, but I say that justice too long delayed is not true justice. Nothing could be more unfortunate than the effect of these two controversies, of which dismantling is of course the more important, at a time when the Russian system in Eastern Germany and their behaviour in Berlin have done so much on the other side to swing German opinion and German hopes towards the West.
What is the best we can do in this situation to avoid the mistakes which we made after the first war? As I have already said, I cannot help thinking that it is difficult to persuade other people to accept political institutions by merely trying to teach them. The most valuable and useful characteristic of the German people which may be used in this matter is their respect for law. If that can be extended to an equal respect for international law and convention, much might be achieved.
It is for this reason, because we have felt that the dualism of the whole period between 1918 and 1939 must be avoided—that the dilemma then posed but never answered must not repeat itself—that my friends and I, under the inspiration of the Leader of the Conservative Party, have given so much of our time, attention and effort towards the promotion of the broad conception of European unity. I do not wish to go back upon the story of the Government's attitude towards this movement. There have been some rather unhappy episodes. I understand the difficulties of the Foreign Secretary in his official position; I realise that he must hurry slowly, but I do not think it is necessary for him to be so hobbled. I know that he has suffered much from his colleagues. He has often told us what he could do in Europe if he could only 1578 have a little coal or some financial resources; two successive Chancellors may have been some burden to him.
Even now I do not see much enthusiasm for this movement. The delegates chosen by the Government have not, with a few exceptions, been those most conspicuous in their support of it. Much as, on personal grounds, we shall enjoy his company, I am not encouraged by the apparent necessity to take the Chief Whip with them to Strasbourg. We must hope for the best. In the genial holiday air the Lord President may unbend and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster may drop some of his old slogans which have done so much harm and have obstructed for so long the development of this movement. I give him warning—
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
The right hon. Gentleman has raised the question, and I am sure he means it quite seriously, of why the Chief Whip is going. If we are to have delegates who are to study the problems of procedure and get a reasonable Parliament going, should we not take one of the people in the House of Commons who is most experienced in procedure. Is it really fair to make a rather cheap gibe about that?
§ Mr. Macmillan
If that is the explanation, I am happy about it, but much as I admire the knowledge of procedure of the Chief Patronage Secretary, I should have thought that we were quite well served by having the services of Sir Gilbert Campion.
I must refer to the rather hole-and-corner way in which the matter has been handled by the Government. I understand that in the Parliament of every other country which is a member of the Council a formal motion has been placed on the Order Paper for the ratification of the Statute of Europe, and has been adopted. After all, it is no small thing that has happened. The passing of the Statute of Europe and the formation of the Council of Europe may be a landmark to the future historian. It is more important, perhaps, than any other event in the second half of this century. It affords now an opportunity to Ministers to regain much of the ground that has been lost.
I say frankly that I am sorry the Statute has been drawn that our discussions are to be so limited in the Consultative Assembly. However, I do not 1579 propose to argue that now; I think the thing is to make the best of the powers we have and to determine that whatever happens this first Assembly shall be a resounding success. At any rate we are allowed to discuss the economic field and problems that have arisen in the economic field which it will be within the powers of the Assembly to discuss.
Perhaps one of the most important questions, about which I should like to say a word, is the question of the economic relation between East and West. This is a question upon which I hope we shall not be too dogmatic. I have read a good deal of what is said at home and abroad upon this matter, and there is a great divergence of view. The President of the Board of Trade and his friends seem to think that in the development of East-West trade we can do a great deal to alleviate our important dollar problem. That may be true, but do not let us forget that other people feel that the development of the East-West trade is the instrument by which Moscow is out to split the Western bloc. For remember, at the same time as we may trade some minor benefits, it fortifies the industrial and strategic strength of Russia and the satellite countries.
Of course, in our present condition it would be foolish not to make whatever barter deals we conveniently can to assist in our short-term difficulties. But I think it is a great illusion to believe that Eastern Europe, and especially such countries as Roumania and Poland, have any intention of returning permanently to their pre-war system of providing the West with grain and other crops, with raw materials and dairy products in return for consumption goods. That relationship between East and West was deeply resented when, under Schacht and Hitler, Germany tried to impose it upon them. It was then called "colonialism." What I am sure Russia and the Russian-inspired Governments of those countries wish to do is to develop their industrial capacity at home. I think we shall find that what they will ask for in these barters are not textiles or sewing machines, but heavy industrial plant.
The long-term results of this policy—to which I was sorry to note the Foreign Secretary appeared to give such unqualified 1580 approval a few days ago, but perhaps I misunderstood him—may be very unfavourable. The advantages may be very precarious; and any attempt to fit our long-term economic pattern into this plan should be looked at with much caution. The East will not hesitate to turn off the tap for political or strategic reasons at any time it may suit them and without the slightest regard for the effect upon their populations.
Nor should we shut our eyes altogether to what is going on in these countries which we are supposed to be about to welcome as our new economic partners. Persecution in all its forms is running at its terrible rate. The most wicked and violent attacks are being made, not only on the Roman Church, but upon all other religious communities. In many of those countries a planned and premeditated attack and effort is being made to eradicate the Christian religion. We can only admire the resistance which the Church is making with all the fortitude of the early martyrs. This Committee will remember some of the criticisms which were widely made of the pre-war Governments in their dealings with Germany and Japan, and by none were they made more severely than by hon. Gentlemen now sitting upon the benches opposite. All I can say is that those whom Hitler chastised with whips, Stalin and his friends are chastising with scorpions.
Grave as these matters are, to my mind much the most important contribution which the Council of Europe and particularly the Consultative Assembly can make at the present time is towards the solution of the German problem.
§ Mr. Ronald Chamberlain (Norwood)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that very important question of trade with Eastern Europe—he has made something of a gibe against Russia and other Eastern European countries—will he agree that they have been entirely scrupulous in all their trade agreements so far with regard to delivery and finance? I think as much cannot be said of certain other countries, such as the Argentine.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I was not complaining of their having not met their obligations either in gold or dollars. That has been so, even with regard to the first Soviet Government, who met their 1581 current obligations, but they rejected their old obligations. They have met their current obligations so far as it has suited them to do so, and that will be their method.
I was saying, when the hon. Member interrupted me, that I still think the greatest contribution which the Council of Europe and particularly the Consultative Assembly can make at Strasbourg at the present time is towards the German problem. Nothing has been more encouraging to us than the changed and changing opinion of our French friends who, with true logic, are now swinging steadily to the view that the only hope of French security lies in the unification of Western Europe to include the great German bloc. Unhappily—and this is a point on which I should like the attention of the Foreign Secretary or the Minister of State—the German elections do not take place until 1st September, and we understand that the Assembly will not sit later than 3rd September. If I am misinformed, my point will not apply, but it will be very difficult to arrange for any German delegation to attend this year's meeting of the Assembly.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
There is a misunderstanding as to whether the elections are on 14th August, as I thought myself, or on 3rd September, as the right hon. Gentleman has stated. It makes a great deal of difference.
§ Mr. Macmillan
If the result is announced during the meetings of the Assembly, it makes it all the easier. But first the results have to be announced, the German Government have to come into being and certain details have to be settled, which makes it difficult for the German representatives to be invited. Under Article 5 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, as hon. Members will no doubt remember, there is a provision that invitations can be issued—not by the Assembly, but by the Committee of Ministers—to become associate members to any European countries which are thought to be able and willing to fulfil the principles laid down in the Statute. That is obviously intended to cover such nations as Austria, Germany and others.
If, therefore, the German Government is formed while the Assembly is meeting and arrangements can be made for a German delegation to attend, well and 1582 good; but if the timetable does not allow for that, I hope we shall not let another year pass, but that arrangements will be made in any commissions or organisations which are to follow the first meeting of the Assembly, and which are to be permanent organisations of the Assembly, to extend an invitation to representatives of the Government of Western Germany to be present.
In the Council of Europe, this germ of a European Parliament, for that it is; in the conception of the unity and solidarity of the European tradition; in the revived and fertilising power of the two great streams of European civilisation—the classical and humanist upon the one hand and the mystical and Christian on the other—in the renewal and renaissance of these tremendous forces; in these, and I think in these almost alone, the hope for peace stands. By itself, the German problem is insoluble. Indeed, it is worse than insoluble, for mishandled it will only be solved in this fatal way—a new Russo-Germanic coalition. But within the broad unity of Europe, Germany might find at once peace and hope. A great, and perhaps a last, chance now presents itself. In a few weeks the Council of Europe will meet at Strasbourg—a spot I think most happily chosen almost, as it might seem, for this special purpose. I beg the Government not to let this chance slip by, so that it may not be our fate in our old age, faced with the prospect of new horrors, to repeat vainly to ourselves those fatal words, "Too late."
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
The main burden of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) has been in regard to Germany. I did not detect or discover any general attack on the policy of the Government in relation to this very vexed and difficult problem. We had hoped that the problem of Germany might have been settled on a Four-Power basis and that the peace of Europe might have been thereby secured. But, as we progressed from Potsdam onwards, the roads diverged. We have done our best to try to help Germany—not only the British, American and French zones, but even the Soviet zone—to understand Western ideals.
1583 I think that as time goes on, very acute differences will be discovered even in the Eastern zone and in the Russian attitude. I acknowledge that the key to European peace is the settlement of the problem of the relations of Germany with Britain, France and America. That is to say, can we—or how shall we—bring Germany into the Western world? That has been a very difficult problem. If I detected any criticism of the Government at all today, it was that all the steps we have taken to try to make Germany a democratic nation have either been futile or puny—I do not know how else to describe them.
Therefore, let me give the House just a few instances of what we have done. First, we have tackled the problem from the base. In the world of industry, I urged that we should get rid of the Soviet policy of controlled prices and wages, in the sense that there was a rigid system which left nothing for the trade unions to do but to indulge in political discussion. As soon as we had got currency reform, we proceeded with the help of the manpower branch and with useful assistance from officials of the Ministry of Labour, to restore a proper method of negotiation on wages and conditions in all branches of Western German industry. That has had marked results.
From the workman's point of view that is the first place in which we reach equality. I have always had to deal as a trade union official with the men from the other side who in my young days could always say, "No." I had to be a supplicant. I fully understand what recognition means and what equality across the table means. I was in the Labour movement when those rights had to be won. When they were won, it was an important step to the ultimate development of the Labour Party sitting on this side of the House. It got rid of the sense of the historical dominance of one class in the community.
We have tried, therefore, to put the machinery of negotiation in industry on a proper level and on an equal basis. Then we have tried, by means of association with this country—by bringing large numbers of Germans here and introducing them to our country councils and all our other forms of local Government—to make people understand the democratic system of local Government. That factor 1584 must not be underestimated, because the German method of local bureaucracy is one of the biggest contributing factors to dictatorship. The result of the work which my Department has done in the last three years in the sphere of local Government is of vital importance. We shall soon be circulating a report.
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman greatly underestimated the work we have done in the field of education. How is anyone to get a democracy if it is not by education? What other means have we got? I say that Mr. Robert Birley has done a magnificent job in the last two and a half years. No one who knows what has been done in the universities and among the school teachers, and among all those responsible for teaching, can underestimate that magnificent work. I was very sorry when Mr. Birley decided to give up the job and to go to Eton, because I thought that his scope at Eton would be limited, compared with his possibilities in Germany. I am glad to say that arrangements have been made to carry on this work for a considerable period.
Another step to democracy is to enable the Germans to practise it. How were we to do that? The first step was to create a Government. We found in Moscow, in 1947, that what the Russians wanted was a highly centralised German Government, making secure, I assumed, the Ministry of the Interior which seems to be the most essential post under Russian "democracy" since it controls the police. We could not agree, so we set out to make a Federal Germany. In that Federal Germany, we have given great powers to the Länder and we have limited the power of the centre; in other words, we have created under the Bonn Constitution what is, I think, as perfectly balanced a federalism possible. We cannot do away with centralisation completely, because some parts of Germany are poor, and, where there is a budgetary position to deal with, as they found in the United States with their federal system, and in Australia and Canada, and even in this country in local Government, it is essential that the poor areas should be enabled to get financial help from the richer. Therefore this question of balance had to be worked out with very great care, and I believe that, in Washington a few months ago, we arrived at the correct result.
1585 But it may be argued that, in spite of all this, nationalism prevails. That may be true, but I do not know the statesmen yet who can, in a moment, wipe out this feeling after it has been indoctrinated in Germany for 84 years. They have fought four wars on it, they built up a great centralised bureaucratic Germany, they created a great militarist Germany, and I do not think all this can be undone in a moment. All we can do is to lay down carefully the road upon which they can travel, which is the democratic road. This is our objective and I am offering no excuses today, because I believe that our policy in Germany is one that will stand up to any criticism that can be levelled against it.
I must go back for a moment to the declaration of unconditional surrender made at Casablanca, on which neither the British Cabinet nor any other Cabinet had a chance to say a word. It was in the middle of a war and it was just made. But it left us with a Germany without law, without a constitution, without a single person with whom we could deal, without a single institution to grapple with the situation, and we have had to build right from the bottom with nothing at all. We have had to build a State which has over 20 million displaced persons scattered about it, and we had to build it while something like 5 million people were being driven out of one part of the country into the other. Believe me, although I do not want to go into it now, on looking back, although I cannot raise my hat to them in this House, I cannot pay too great a tribute to the military commanders and political advisers who were left with a shambles out of which they had to create a new Germany.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
(Plymouth, Devonport): May I interrupt my right hon. Friend? Is he saying that, on the subject of unconditional surrender, the position was that the British Cabinet never had notice of the matter at all?
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
The first time I heard that phrase used it was from the lips of President Roosevelt.
§ Mr. Bevin
That justifies what I am saying. I do not complain, I assure the 1586 right hon. Gentleman, and he will admit that I took my share of every decision of the Coalition Cabinet whether I thought it was right or not. I say that I never heard of that phrase until I saw it in the Press, and that, if it had been put to me, as a Member of the British Cabinet, I would never have agreed to it. I do not complain about it; I took it as it was, but it is rather hard for leaders of the Opposition to criticise me now when they left me with such a shambles to take on.
§ Mr. Churchill
The statement was made by President Roosevelt without consultation with me. I was there on the spot, and I had very rapidly to consider whether the state of our position in the world was such as would justify me in not giving support to it. I did give support to it, but that was not the idea which I had formed in my own mind. In the same way, when it came to the Cabinet at home, I have not the slightest doubt that if the British Cabinet had considered that phrase, it is likely that they would have advised against it, but, working with a great alliance and with great, loyal and powerful friends from across the ocean, we had to accommodate ourselves. I am by no means inclined to think that great harm flowed from this particular phrase. [Interruption.] It is indifferent to me whether hon. Gentlemen agree with me or not; I am only telling them that, in my own mind, I have not at all satisfied myself that it did in fact produce some evil consequences, although I do not think it was the phrase which we or our Government would have used.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
On a point of Order. It is quite apparent that certain matters are being discussed in this House when hon. Members have not had the opportunity in advance to realise the grave issues of this kind were likely to arise. In view of the very possible international repercussions, may I submit that it would be preferable if this matter could be left to be discussed later as a specific matter?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Before my right hon. Friend resumes his seat, as I think I am the only hon. Member in the House who 1587 spoke about these matters except the occupants of the Front Bench, would he bear in mind that a small group of us who used to sit on those benches on the other side raised this question of unconditional surrender, its implications and its dangers for the future, but nobody, either the Prime Minister or anybody else ever said anything about the British Government never being consulted.
§ Mr. Bevin
I am making no complaint about this. In a war, all kinds of problems arise. My only complaint now is that, when I get criticism of what we are doing in Germany now, of the way in which the terrific task that has been imposed on my Department and the Government is being handled, I only wish that hon. Members of the Opposition would take these facts into account. That is all I say. When the matter was reported, I realised the difficulty, and I made an honest statement when I said to the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition, "Well, it is done; we have got to make the best of it," and that is my way of working in any committee. I was not going to split the Government on this issue and was not going to cause any trouble.
§ Mr. Bevin
Or the alliance; not at all. What I am suggesting is that, when I listen to the rather supercilious attitude on this problem of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate—and I think he knows the facts, because he was a Member of the Government—I think he should have taken these things into account. It was left to us to try to overcome many of these great difficulties, which have affected policy ever since.
§ Mr. Bevin
Certainly, I do not object to that. I am making a very straight statement. I assumed responsibility, when the right hon. Gentleman was the Leader of the Government at that time, for the decisions that were taken. When the right hon. Gentleman reported to us that it had been done, I accepted responsibility, and I never went back on it, but I think it is rather regrettable, seeing that those responsible in the days of the 1588 Coalition Government had reached that decision, and that we have to reap the whirlwind, that the representatives of the Opposition do not take that into account. That is all I have to say. Really, many of the difficulties that have arisen, in remodelling Germany have unfortunately come in part from that very grave decision.
Now we get to dismantling. I am speaking from memory now, but perhaps the right hon. Member for Woodford—for whom I have a great respect—will agree that at Quebec the Morgenthau plan providing for the pastoralisation of Germany and for the restriction of German industry was accepted. I think that was signed at Quebec. I do not think that can ever be saddled upon me because, in the Armistice and Post-War Committee—I am sorry to have to hit hack, but I am really not going to take these cheap gibes—
§ Mr. Bevin
All right, let me carry on. This Morgenthau policy was accepted either at or after Quebec, and in the Armistice and Post-War Committee of which the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) was, I believe, the chairman, I stuck hard and fast. I think he will agree with me that there was no possibility of Germany living and not being a burden upon us with a steel production of under 11.1 million tons. The Committee agreed to that, and that is the basis of our settlement today. I had to oppose the Americans who wanted 5.8, the Russians who wanted 3.8, and all the others which are now called the I.A.R.A. countries; I had to resist them with all the arguments I could advance, and I went to Potsdam when we took over after the Election of 1945, sticking to the 11.1 million tons. Now I am accused of being responsible for dismantling. I agreed at Moscow in 1947 that I would try to do this in the British zone, which, remember, has the difficult task. It is all very well 1589 for our United States friends, who I do not think are involved to anything like the same extent—certainly the French are not—since practically all the plants involved are in the British zone; that is where the difficulty is.
After being opposed for nearly two years after I became Foreign Secretary for trying to raise the standard to 11.1 million tons, there was then a complete switch in policy, and the Humphreys Committee and the Steel Committee were appointed. I had to hold up all this dismantling for months while those committees toured Europe to decide what to do. This also became involved with the European Recovery Plan, though it really had nothing to do with it. I promised Moscow—and this is where I think the Russians have a grievance—that I would clear what were called the Number 1 war plants by June, 1948. I can say to the House that I tried my hardest to do it, but I was held up owing to differences among the Allies. America took one view at one time, then altered it and after these inquiry committees put up an entirely different proposal. In the end, after protracted negotiations agreement was reached. I doubt, however, whether this is really a matter of great importance, except in regard to the plants which affect security.
It is all very well to write Germany off as never being a potential aggressor. I am not ready to do that yet. I do not believe that any person with responsibility in the Foreign Office in the last 30 years and who has knowledge of the subject is prepared to do it either. I want to see whether the passage is really going to be worked, and what is really going to happen. Security for France and the rest of Western Europe is a vital concern as far as I am concerned, and I hope it is to the whole House, because many people were misled in 1918, 1919, and 1920. Germany again became the aggressor, and what policy she may adopt in future is a question that only time and experience will answer.
I assert that the dismantling scheme which is being worked out now is far the best as regards security. I have agreed to it on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and, since those negotiations, the Cabinet has approved it, and I do not think it is right to ask us to go back on a signed agreement of that character. We 1590 have our responsibilities to the other Allies—Belgium, Holland and France—which were all over-run, and I do not think this sloppy sentiment about the business is a right approach.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Does the right hon. Gentleman dismiss as "sloppy sentiment" the considered opinion of the trade union movement in Germany that further dismantling would lead to unemployment and greater economic and political difficulty?
§ Mr. Bevin
The trade unions tried to get as much as they could. I do not object to that; it is their business to make representations, but, on the other hand, I must have regard, not only to unemployment in Germany, but to the many children and women who were killed in my constituency in Wandsworth, and I am not going to forget it. Those of us who lived in it, and not in the remote parts of Scotland where they never saw anything, can never forget it.
§ Mr. Bevin
On one night, but we had them night after night. Nor shall we forget that. Security is the thing which any Foreign Secretary must work for, and every decision we arrived at contributed to the security of the West.
Now I have had this dear old bogy of the generals raised. I have sometimes thought, if I may venture to suggest it, that the British trade union movement and the international trade union movement were very powerful, but after the troubles I have had with this matter, I sometimes wonder whether the "international union of generals" is not much stronger. This is a case which I must not prejudice in the courts; it is there now, but the time it took to get it there made me wonder. I agree with the hon. Member that the delay was very disturbing to the Foreign Office. I had to press for these generals to be brought to trial. Some of them have escaped, which fact, in my mind at least, creates a profound admiration for the medical profession. [Interruption.] Well, hon. Members may say that is cheap.
§ Mr. Bevin
Not the one that is dead; that is settled. What worries me is that of the privates and the corporals and the 1591 sergeants involved in this, many have been shot; and I cannot see why an eminent field-marshal who is alleged, at any rate—I think that is the correct phrase used by the Press and I shall go no further than that—to have given the orders, should not be tried for giving the orders. I cannot draw distinctions of that character. If there has been delay I am sorry. I did not find anybody on the Opposition side subscribe one penny for the defence of a single private involved in this business—not one penny.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
Would my right hon. Friend say whether any privates or sergeants are being tried four years after the end of the war?
§ Mr. Bevin
The point I am making is that there was great rapidity in bringing them to trial. Why there was not rapidity in bringing these men to trial I do not know. I have told the House about this before and I have expressed my regret for the delays in this business over and over again. May I turn now, as far as Germany is concerned—
§ Mr. Bevin
I am not touchy a bit; I have not the slightest feeling. Evidently I am getting under the right hon. Gentleman's skin. If I am attacked on the basis of the right hon. Member's attack on me today, I shall reply accordingly, because the attack was not justified and it contained a lot of cheap clichés and stupid phrases. When he talks about writing books and so on, we have been expected to read his for years. I never thought anything of them.
Now as regards the German elections, I understand they have to take place on 14th August in the Western zone, and what we are aiming at is the establishment of a Western German Government. I am willing to examine it, but I do not think it is possible to discuss or settle any question of the accession of Germany at 1592 this meeting of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg. I think it is too early. After the election a government has to be established, the machinery has to be set up and the whole organism has to be created and, therefore, I should not like to hold out a hope that it is possible to settle this at this meeting at Strasbourg.
Questions were put to me about the Council of Europe. I should like to make a few observations about that. It was suggested that economic questions should be taken up by this Assembly. Well, under the constitution, we have ruled out all matters related to O.E.E.C. This was essential because there is a very delicate mechanism set up for dealing with the United States in connection with the Marshall Plan, and I do not think it is advisable that there should be any question of these subjects being dealt with by this Assembly. Probably it will arise later on.
There will come a moment, as I think I said to the House before, when something has to take the place of O.E.E.C. in 1952. How things will evolve then I cannot foresee. We have agreed that the O.E.E.C. is to be a continuing organisation. I have always visualised that some form of European discussion on economics and finance must come at a later period, but I do not think it would be wise to raise the issue at this first meeting because there is the delicate question of the appropriations, and of the United States' part which would be bound to arise; and I therefore take the view that it should be ruled out for the present.
The second question which we have ruled out for this particular body is the question of defence. That, again, is under very detailed negotiation. The Atlantic Pact is not yet carried in the United States or France and the machinery has yet to be established; it has yet to be evolved. At this meeting, therefore, which will take place in August, I think it is quite right that that subject should not be brought into the discussions. There is, however, a wide range of subjects to the discussion of which I am sure the Committee of Ministers will have not the slightest objection, dealing with what the right hon. Member for Woodford on some occasion said was necessary—the creation of what he called European opinion, the European approach to many wide and varied 1593 subjects. We shall try, in the arrangement of the agenda, to make it as broad as we possibly can, but it must be appreciated by the House that the commitments and the negotiations with the United States for which the Government are responsible must be taken into account, and cannot be made the subject of discussion at this meeting.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will permit me to ask a question, because I think what he has just said might be misunderstood, and I am sure that neither he nor I would wish that. I accept, of course, that the Assembly may not discuss matters of strategy or military questions. It may not discuss political questions as such. But if it is to be thought that what he has now said is to rule out economic discussions in their broader sense, it is rather difficult to see what is going to occupy the attention of the Assembly. What I hope he meant, and what I am sure he meant, was that we were not to discuss the details of the arrangements under O.E.E.C., but surely the broad economic problems of Europe—questions of labour, of tariffs, of all the currencies and many other questions in their broadest sense—will be within the purview of the Assembly; otherwise it makes it very hard to see what useful function it can perform, except, of course, on general cultural questions.
§ Mr. Bevin
I should not like to give a firm answer to that point today because I have to consult the other Ministers when we meet in Strasbourg as to the scope which we think is reasonable. However, I have always said—and I have made it clear to the public—that this Assembly would be handicapped for a period because of the Governments' commitments to these other institutions. The question is where we draw the line. I was in favour of a committee of Ministers for a period and not the Assembly, but other people thought the Assembly was a very immediate requirement. I have never withheld from the House of Commons or the country that one of the difficulties of the Assembly would arise from the fact of the commitments to the other organisations such as those depending from the Brussels Treaty, which have been developed in the meantime. Therefore, we have to wait until a suitable 1594 period arrives at which we can transfer the organisations.
Let me say a word about procedure. I leave it to the parliamentarians to discuss procedure when they get there. My job is in the Committee of Ministers. I am the last possible authority on procedure, having been all my life out of order according to nearly every chairman under whom I have ever sat. However, I shall make this very earnest appeal. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that this was a "parliament in embryo." So far as the Government are concerned, we have tried to avoid as much as we could constitution-making. I think that the unwritten basis of our Constitution is a very valuable one. To build up precedent on precedent is a method which may be very valuable to Europe. The tendency in Europe has always been to write down every detail in a constitution, and then difficulties have been found afterwards.
I hope that this European body will grow on the principle of precedents. I hope it will not attempt to be too rigid in the constitutional sense. In that way I hope there will be a bridle on all who attend when these very important delegations meet, so that they will not try to use too much force on one another to adopt any particular form of procedure at the beginning. I was concerned with the beginning of the International Labour Office and its subsequent development, and I found that, by proceeding largely on those lines, we were able to build a pretty effective instrument; and much was done outside altogether of the written constitution, such as it was. Therefore, I think restraint is essential. I am speaking to my own people as much as to everybody else. Restraint and steadiness in the opening session will have the biggest influence in developing European co-operation at this stage.
Now let me turn again to Germany. I do not want what I said earlier to be misunderstood. I want to see Germany in the Council of Europe. I want to be very careful how she is brought in. We cannot, sitting in this Committee in this country, always appreciate, I think, the very intense feelings that exist on the Continent on this matter. The problem has to be handled with very, very great care, but if we can succeed at Strasbourg in ending the age-old feud between France and Germany, great work will 1595 have been accomplished. I do not think it can be done at the first session. I do not think the German Constitution has advanced far enough. I do not think we can reach the stage where we can take the definitive decision, but I think that—indeed, I am quite convinced—if we work towards it it will be accomplished.
The last question raised with me was that of Berlin. I think this country with its Allies has put up a good fight in Berlin. We are building up the stocks now to a five months' reserve, and as soon as that has been completed, we hope to reduce the airlift; but we are going to keep in existence the machinery of that airlift in case anything happens. We trust nothing will occur. There will be difficulties in dealing with the Russians. There always are, because of their different approach and their different methods.
With regard to the Conference at Paris. I do not exaggerate its importance; I do not belittle its decisions. It may be that those decisions are the beginning of the end of a period of tension which has been very bad for the world; but only time can tell that. I cannot express an opinion yet on what the final outcome will be. But the unity of the whole of Europe is our aim. The opportunities for the peoples of Europe to associate in their development and prosperity is what we shall strive for. We may be a long time in achieving it. Others may reach the final result. So far as we are concerned, however, we are striving to that end.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I shall venture to trespass for only a very few minutes upon the Committee, but topics have been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman in his speech which, perhaps, require some comment from me. The right hon. Gentleman is, I am sure, uneasy in his mind about the belated, persistent dismantling that is going on in Germany. He is uneasy in his mind—or he should be uneasy in his mind—about the very belated bringing to trial of German generals, and in the mood that he is in, he takes, I think, an altogether exaggerated view of any criticisms that were made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. 1596 Macmillan) in his very restrained and carefully phrased speech.
§ Mr. Churchill
The hon. Gentleman is always intervening. On this occasion he did not even hop off his perch.
I should not have risen at all had it not been that the right hon. Gentleman felt so uneasy about those criticisms on the two points I have mentioned that he floated back across the years into the history of the war, and touched upon some large and important matters affecting our relations with the United States, with a view to throwing some invidious burden upon me personally; because otherwise there would have been no point in his doing so. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
I was a person very responsible in these matters, and I must say that the phrase "unconditional surrender" was not brought before me to agree to in any way before it was uttered by our great friend, our august and powerful ally President Roosevelt. But I did concur with him after he had said it, and I reported the matter to the Cabinet, who accepted the position. Whether if we had all discussed it at home we should have proposed such a settlement is another matter. Still, they did accept the position, as I, in my turn, on the spot, thought it right to do. I cannot feel that there can be any separation of responsibility between us in the matter, having regard to the long years in which we subsequently acted together.
Then the right hon. Gentleman rather used this episode to suggest that the difficulties in Germany were greatly aggravated by the use of this phrase. I am not at all sure that that is true. I am not going to plunge into a lengthy argument, but I am not at all sure that, if Hitler had been murdered by some of the plots which were levelled against him by men whom I do not hesitate to call patriotic Germans, a new situation would have arisen. I believe there was the force and vigour to carry on the fight, as it was carried on, to the very last gasp. He and the band of guilty men around him were in the position that they could not 1597 look for any pardon or any safety for their lives and they would certainly have fought to the death.
§ Mr. Churchill
I do not wish to give way, if the hon. Gentleman will permit me to continue. I have been rather seriously criticised by the Foreign Secretary trying, as it were, to throw all the discredit for "unconditional surrender" upon me. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If he did not mean that, he did not mean anything. He is doing that because he is vexed with what my right hon Friend, said, though I thought my right hon. Friend's statement was very mildly expressed. It cannot be said that the decisions to which the Foreign Secretary has come about the prolongation of dismantling are connected in any way with the use of the phrase "unconditional surrender" by President Roosevelt, so why bring it in and extend the Debate into other circles, and into matters of really very great gravity?
Another matter to which the Foreign Secretary referred, about which I do not by any means feel so confident in my conscience as to the judgment of my actions, is the Morgenthau Agreement at the second conference—the document published by Mr. Morgenthau of the conference. There is an agreement; it was initialed by President Roosevelt and by me, and it undoubtedly proposed treatment of Germany which was a harsh treatment, in respect of largely limiting her to being an agricultural country. But that was not a decision taken over the heads of the Cabinet. It was not one that ever reached the Cabinet. It never reached the Cabinet because it was only ad referendum; it was disapproved by the State Department on the one hand and by my right hon. Friend and the Foreign Office Committee on the other, and it just dropped on one side. I must say that it never required a Cabinet negative; it never had any validity of any sort or kind.
Nevertheless, I must say that I do not agree with this paper, for which I none the less bear a responsibility. I do not agree with it, but I can only say that when fighting for life in a fierce struggle with an enemy I feel quite differently towards him than when that enemy is 1598 beaten to the ground and is suing for mercy. Anyhow, if the document is ever brought up to me I shall certainly say, "I do not agree with that, and I am sorry that I put my initials to it." I cannot do more than that. Of course, many things happen with great rapidity, but to say it was done over the heads of the Cabinet, or anything like that, is quite untrue, and the Cabinet never agreed to it for a moment.
These two matters of great importance were brought in, in order to justify the right hon. Gentleman in pursuing the policy of dismantling, and some incidents connected with the trial of the German generals. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman need have brought such artillery back from the past to fire at me on such matters. I do not put the case with hostility against him. I consider that in the airlift and the treatment of the Berlin difficulty the Government and the Foreign Office—no one more than he—showed the very greatest determination, skill, good judgment, and tenacity, and their exertions over a long period were crowned by unmistakable success which has been of the greatest advantage to Europe, and very likely played a part in the closer drawing together of Britain and the United States, which has found its manifestation in the Atlantic Pact.
I was very much struck at the way in which all Germany watched the airlift, and how all Germany saw the British and American planes flying to carry food to 2½ million Germans whom the Soviet Government were trying to starve. I thought that was worth all the speeches that could have been made by all the peace leaders of Europe to turn the eyes of Germany to where her true destiny lies: namely, in peaceful and honourable association with the Western democracies and with the future into which they hope to lead the world under the auspices of the United Nations organisation. I indeed thought that was a very great advantage.
I must say that I personally was instinctively disappointed and chilled when I saw the dismantling policy, which has draggled and straggled on for four years, being a cause of upsetting this strong drift and tide of German sentiment which may be of very great value in the future. I could not help feeling that it was untoward. Of course, these things must in some cases be done. They should 1599 have been done, or could have been done, two years ago. That would have been all right.
But now, four years after, when Europe is in the midst of all this feeling of hardship and pressure, and of hopes of coming out of it again, to go on tearing down these buildings and solemnly proceeding with methodical routine on some agreement which now no longer has any validity or application to current affairs was, I thought, an error: not an error of major criminality, but a bad touch. I should have hoped that it would have been possible to have let that go. I should have thought it should have been brought to an end. I have said so several times in the last months, and I do not think it is a wrong thing for us to put that view.
Nor do I think that because I was present and supported President Roosevelt when he used the phrase "unconditional surrender" I am debarred from saying that at any time there should be a little give and take, and a different touch and handling in a sensitive manner of our relations with the German people. I am sure that the munitions which could be made by these factories which still remain to be dismantled would never do half the harm to the cause of peace, or to any future victory of the Allies against aggression, that is done by the great setting back and discouragement, out of all proportion, of the German movement towards Western civilisation and Western ideas. I will not put it at more than that.
As for the generals and so on, that, I think, should have been settled within a year or two of the end of the fighting; but to go on dragging these things out is simply feeding all the forces against peaceful solution and against passing the sponge across the past, with opportunities for making up and bad feeling. I do not make this a serious case of indictment against the right hon. Gentleman. In the main, we approve of his policy, but he really must not get so very upset and angry when certain notes are struck, even though when they are struck from this side, they awaken a very immediate echo on the benches behind him.
I have only one other thing to say, which I should not have referred to at 1600 all had I not felt it right to refer to the important topics which the right hon. Gentleman raised, and that is this question of our future meetings at Strasbourg. There will be a European Assembly at Strasbourg representing 10 nations.
§ Mr. Churchill
Maybe more. They will not necessarily consider themselves forced to agree with every dictat, ukase or regulation which is made by the Council of Ministers. They may not have any executive powers, but they will not be forced necessarily to accept the directions which come down to them from on high. Maybe, in the course of time, some method of adjusting quarrels, dispute and differences between the European Assembly and the European Council will be devised. Maybe we shall have a sort of Parliament Act and pass it to and fro, to overthrow eventually the veto of the upper chamber. Anyhow, I think this had much better be left until we get there.
What questions we should be allowed to discuss is not a matter on which they must not express an opinion. Personally, I should be very sorry to see military matters discussed, but I am bound to say that a European Assembly meeting together in these conditions should have a wide latitude to discuss matters of general interest not affecting the national safety of their countries and the combination of all the countries that there are. You will have to reckon on the views of the Assembly. You have called it into being reluctantly, and it is a fact, which I hope will not be easily removed from European affairs. I think it would be better for us to wait until we are assembled there and see how the Assembly chooses to act, what its thoughts are and what its political divisions are and may be. I hope and trust that the right hon. Gentleman will make sure that if there is a desire expressed, not only in the Assembly but in the Council of Ministers, that broad views shall be taken and good latitude given to the Assembly, he will not be the principal person to offer resistance, because he may not find himself possessed, either in the Council of Ministers or in the Assembly, of the large majority he commands in this House.
Perhaps I may be allowed to make an explanation, because this is 1601 very important internationally. In regard to unconditional surrender, I want the House and the right hon. Gentleman to be clear that what I was saying was that the use of that phrase meant that the whole constitution was smashed and that our military governor and the military governors of the Allies have had to build up right from the bottom. Therefore, I do not think the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) was justified—he did not take that into account. I do not complain at all of Mr. Roosevelt making the statement, and I do not complain at all of the right hon. Gentleman agreeing. I do not complain, because I agreed that in the circumstances the right hon. Gentleman could do nothing else but agree; I stood by that and never said a word in spite of all the criticisms of my own party that followed. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will accuse me of ever being disloyal to a Cabinet decision in the end.
In regard to the European Assembly, all I shall say is this: That it is an infant institution and that I am not laying down any laws or rules as to what should be discussed or not discussed. What I beg of the right hon. Gentleman is that we we should learn to walk in the European Assembly before trying to run. This is really a very delicate instrument which I have nothing to do with except as a member of the Committee of Ministers. It is in a very complicated stage, as we are involved in O.E.E.C. and the other things, and all of us, including the right hon. Gentleman in his wise old age and myself in my infancy, I hope may combine together to steer it along the right lines.
§ Mr. Churchill
I did not have this quotation on the subject of unconditional surrender when I first made my speech, but perhaps the House will allow me now to give it. Here is what I said:The principle of unconditional surrender was proclaimed by the President of the United States at Casablanca, and I endorsed it there and then on behalf of this country. I am sure it was right at the time it was used, when many things hung in the balance against us which are all decided in our favour now. Should we then modify this declaration which was made in days of comparative weakness and lack of success now that we have reached a period of mastery and power?I am clear that nothing should induce us to abandon the principle of unconditional 1602 surrender and enter into any form of negotiation with Germany or Japan, under whatever guise such suggestions may present themselves, until the Act of unconditional surrender has been formally executed. But the President of the United States and I, in your name, have repeatedly declared that the enforcement of unconditional surrender upon the enemy in no way relieves the victorious Powers of their obligations to humanity, or of their duties as civilised and Christian nations. I read somewhere that the ancient Athenians, on one occasion, overpowered a tribe in the Peloponnesus which had wrought them great injury by base, treacherous means, and when they had the hostile army herded on a beach naked for slaughter, they forgave them and set them free, and they said:This was not done because they were men;It was done because of the nature of Man.' Similarly, in this temper we may now say to our foes, 'We demand unconditional surrender, but you well know how strict are the moral limits within which our action is con-fined. We are no extirpators of nations, or butchers of peoples. We make no bargain with you. We accord you nothing as a right. Abandon your resistance unconditionally. We remain bound by our customs and our nature."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th January, 1945; Vol. 407, c. 423–4.]
§ I venture to rest on that.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I find it difficult to intervene in this combat of reminiscences from the two Front Benches, but as one who throughout the war worked under the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in charge of the department dealing with enemy propaganda, I should like to take up the right hon. Gentleman's last point and his quotation. His quotation proves exactly what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was saying; that it was not the statement of unconditional surrender but the refusal to negotiate with any form of Government which destroyed Germany. This really meant that we had to go on to the end and smash Germany.
I was very interested when the right hon. Gentleman referred to the generals who sought to overthrow Hitler on 20th July as "patriotic Germans." If he had permitted us to say that on 20th and 21st July we might conceivably have enabled that revolt to succeed. I shall never forget the night when we got the news, after midnight, of the attempted assassination of Hitler, and we had to decide what to say. We telephoned the right hon. Member for Bournemouth (Mr. Bracken) who said, "It is an invention of Goebbels, and say that it is." Fortunately, we did not take his advice. 1603 We got hold of the Foreign Secretary, who said that on no account was any distinction to be made between the men undertaking that revolt and the Nazis. They were to be all lumped together in our propaganda. In the face of that, it is a little late in the day for him to call them patriotic Germans, now when every one of them has been killed, though he did not allow us to do so when it might have meant the war lasting for only four years instead of five.
The right hon. Member for Woodford said that one feels tough about an enemy when fighting him, but that having got him down, one feels generous. That is a nice, personal feeling, but I doubt whether German nationalists understand that chivalry any better than Communists. A policy towards Germany based on romantic chivalry is nothing more than sentiment, based on the thought, "I have bombed you, and blasted your cities during the war. I have been as dirty as possible, but now I love you." A serious policy has to be based on long-term knowledge of German nature. To say, "We wiped out German cities by bombing, but now we think it is time we shook hands," may be a fine piece of cricket-field psychology, but the Germans have never believed in cricket. They have believed in conquering Europe and have exploited the cricket-players time after time.
I now want to turn to some of the problems of Western Union which will not be discussed at Strasbourg—military problems. It is precisely because they will not be discussed there that I think they ought to be discussed in this House. There is grave danger that we shall he committed to all sorts of military commitments in Western Europe, without any Member of the House knowing that these commitments have been undertaken. We read a great deal in the newspapers about the activities of the Western Union—Combined Staffs—air and sea trials, and so on—and Field-Marshal Montgomery makes a speech in Holland and says, "We will be with you next time." We ought to know what exactly this country is being committed to in terms of Western Union military planning.
I want to put this point precisely, in the form of a question: are we, or are we not, already committed to send an 1604 expeditionary force to Europe in the event of hostilities? That is a practical question. If we have not decided on that, then there is no European defence being prepared; and if we have decided on it the the Committee should be told that the decision has been taken. It would mean that in addition to the Forces necessary for our imperial commitments—which absorb £700 million of our Budget—we shall have to man-up and make our contribution to the European Army. I believe my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) threw out the suggestion recently that we might well contribute 10 divisions. I have tried to make a rough calculation, and I believe this would treble the size of our Defence Estimates. It would mean that over half our total Budget was being devoted to military expenditure. It would mean either that or that we should have to give up all our imperial commitments.
It is vital to know whether we are deciding to sacrifice certain Empire commitments for the sake of building up a European Army, or whether we are trying to do both simultaneously, in which case it will cost about two-thirds of our Budget, or whether we are playing war games at Fontainebleau and pretending to do things—which is a poor way of dealing with the Russians. We are in the same difficulty as the French. Today, the French are spending 35 per cent. of their budget on armaments. They have no contribution to make to a European Army, and half of their men are in Indo-China. If European nations are asked to undertake to maintain their imperial garrisons and, in addition, to maintain an army in Europe sufficient to stand up to the army from the East, I think it is infinitely beyond their economic possibilities to do it. How are His Majesty's Government reacting to this dilemma?
There is a simple way in which we can make Western Union not only economically self-sufficient but militarily strong, and that is by re-arming Germany. The right hon. Member for Woodford said that if German factories were producing munitions today they would be doing less harm to the peace of the world than they would if they were dismantled.
§ Mr. Churchill
I said nothing of the sort; what I said was that it was probable that more damage was being done to the 1605 future peace of the world by chilling German sentiments towards the West than would be done if these factories were at some future time used for making munitions.
§ Mr. Crossman
That is the point I was making. I thought the right hon. Gentleman said, "If they were making munitions?" If he only said, "They might make munitions," even then that is a point. Does the Opposition believe that to defend Western Europe we must let the Germans make munitions, and let them re-arm?
§ Mr. Churchill
I am strongly in favour of the enforcement of the disarmament of Germany. I have never said anything to the contrary. Most of these factories are not concerned with military matters at all, and others only indirectly, and it is from that point of view that I think the question should be reviewed. The hon. Member is now trying to fasten upon me a whole lot of ideas which I have never harboured.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am delighted to hear that the right hon. Gentleman disowns any suggestion that there should be any re-arming of Germany. It will be a great relief to our French Allies. But if Germany is not re-armed how is Western Union military defensible? How can we get sufficient military strength out of the members of the Western Union to make it a strategically defensible area?
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
The hon. Member ought to know that the only way to defend Europe is to push forward with a policy of Socialism and get rid of capitalism.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am talking about armaments, because we are faced with the Brussels Pact. We are trying to find out what preparations Field-Marshal Montgomery is making, what preparations are being made for European defence.
The obvious answer is to say that the Americans must come in and that because we cannot afford armaments, the Americans should supply them; that we should supply manpower and then rely on Lend-Lease for the weapons. Some time ago I argued here that we should not permit our defence expenditure to go beyond the figure of £600 million. From then on we ought to say to the Americans, "This is our upper limit. If we do anything 1606 extra, it must be supplied by Lend-Lease." If we had taken that line earlier I believe it would have been much wiser. But it is already clear that the Americans will not provide under Lend-Lease anything beyond a negligible trickle of armaments. The total amount that America has allocated is 1¼ billion dollars, which is a negligible sum for re-arming Norway, the whole of Western Union and ourselves. It is not a serious contribution at all.
We are faced therefore with the fact that Western Union cannot rely in peacetime on American Lend-Lease. Only when there is imminent danger of war will Lend-Lease flow in enormous quantities, from which we reach the gloomy conclusion that we have to be on the edge of war in order to get adequate American assistance. By then, it will be too late. On the other hand it is unrealistic to demand that America, when peace breaks out, should contribute vast sums of money to re-arming Europe. The Americans say. "If we are to have armaments let us keep them here. Why give them to the French and Belgians who may use them as badly as the Chinese did? Why not have them here, in the States where we know they mean real effective power?" There is something sensible in that argument, and if it is correct, what is the point of Western Union military plans? Are they just show? Are they just done to please ourselves or to persuade the French that something is being done, or is there anything seriously strategic in them? That is a question which ought to have been asked in the House, and I am amazed that the Opposition has not asked it.
I believe that part of the solution is to be found in the Atlantic Pact. I believe that President Truman was perfectly right when he said that the aim of the Atlantic Treaty was not to increase armaments but to decrease them—to provide a form of security for Western Europe infinitely greater than that which could be provided by 10 British divisions, six French divisions or two Belgian divisions. For the Pact ensures that if there were aggression there would automatically be American participation. I do not believe that Western Europe can have greater security than that. The right hon. Member for Woodford was correct when he said that the ultimate defence of Western Europe remains the fact of American 1607 military power. For good or ill the world has changed, and that is the fact of the world situation today.
If we spend millions on trivial Western Europe armaments we do not add appreciably to our security, because the Russian tots them all up and finds that they mean nothing. What he looks at is the real defence of Western Europe, the fact of American entry into any war against aggression, and that is the best defence we can have in Europe. I ask are we serious in trying to persuade reluctant Americans to give us more armaments to create a second-rate army in Europe in addition to that defence. Would it not be wiser if we faced the fact that since, ultimately, there can be no security for Western Europe in the event of war, our strategy must be designed to deter the Russians, and that if we waste our substance on half-hearted armaments we destroy the main bulwark against Communism—the standard of living of Western Europe?
I have been constantly told by the Front Bench there that there is no real dilemma here. Of course there is a real dilemma in how one spends one's money, and I am worried to see ourselves committed, little by little, to a strategy based on political consideration, "The French might be upset if we told them plainly what the real situation was." I do not believe that friendship based on half truths is a stable friendship. Friendship is only possible if our friends are told what is the real situation, and I believe that if we argue these things frankly with the French we shall be in a far stronger position in Western Europe than if we go ahead and make a pretence of rearming and not doing anything serious at all. This expenditure on armaments is only a flea-bite compared to the commitment we are taking on, but it will crush our social services without doing any great service to ourselves.
My last proposition is in regard to conscription. The reason why we are retaining conscription today in this country, certainly the 18 months' period, is largely political. I believe hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite will agree with me on this, that there is hardly a professional soldier who has a good word to say about the 18 months' period from the point of view of the effective strength 1608 of the Army. Look at the costs of transporting these men. First of all they are trained, and then £25 million a year is spent on shipping them out to Hong Kong and such places, where they only remain for a matter of weeks because their period of conscription is finished.
There are never less than 35,000 to 50,000 men in the pipe-line to and fro, and this at a time when we are desperately short of manpower. The reason for that is because we are using our conscripts as ersatz soldiers overseas—I have protested against this several times in the House—whereas the conscript should be part of a general reserve, and should finish his training in the Territorials. He should be separate from the professional Army, which must be large enough to meet our overseas commitments.
I am told that the reason we cannot adopt that reform is that the French would be upset. We know the French well enough to appreciate that they prefer a strong and efficient Britain to a Britain pretending to be strong and efficient in order to please the French. If we find means of recruiting men for the professional Army we shall be stronger than if we refuse to cut down our period of conscription, partly because the Minister of Defence is afraid of changing his mind again on this question, and partly because we feel our Continental friends might not understand it if we adopted the system I have suggested.
It is a mistake to fiddle with Western European defence in the way that is being done. It is wrong to go in for a strategy in Western Europe which is actually riddled with obscurities and difficulties, and probably does not exist at all. What we should do is to take the political and economic side of Western Europe and put all our energies into that and not into this half and half military defence, which is neither one thing nor the other. We have got to get political and economic union in the West, because if we do not we shall have German competition destroying us within ten years. We have got to have it as our bulwark against Communism.
Finally, if we ask where is the real strategic security for Western Europe, I must say that there is no security for Western Europe ultimately except in Atlantic Union. An Atlantic Union will bring America into any war where we 1609 are defending ourselves against an aggressor, not in terms of supplying a few armaments under Lend-Lease but as a member of a political union. There we have got something real and constructive. The thing that struck me very much when talking to Americans this year was their intense dislike of being brought into Europe by treaty and alliance and their intense longing for something positive and constructive. They cannot see the point of playing about with phoney Western Union strategy, but they would try to carry out a proposal for World Government in the free part of the world, with Russia able to join any time she likes.
We should push for a supra-national body to control atomic energy in this free part of the world on the lines of the Baruch proposals. That would be an organisation which could lead America into Europe, because for America that is something positive and constructive. As long as our policy rests on a basis of alliances in peace-time with always an insufficient supply of arms from America and with too much spent on armaments here, we are putting ourselves in a very doubtful position, and I very much doubt whether Western Union can succeed if strategy and not economic union is its main pre-occupation.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Brigadier Head (Carshalton)
I will not detain the Committee very long, because it was not my intention to speak in this Debate until I heard the remarks of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). I should like to cross swords with him on one or two of the contentious matters he has raised, but before doing so I should like to congratulate him on having moved some distance since he wrote down some of his views in "Keep Left." I wish to agree with the hon. Member on one point and that is his and our condemnation of halfheartedness in making either a reality or a sham of Western Union. Let us make a reality of it. The whole point raised by the hon. Member was his contention that we must depend on American power for the prevention of war and, in the event of war, for our salvation.
§ Brigadier Head
Exactly. If we make that assumption and if we decide to 1610 abandon making a reality of the physical defence of Western Europe, we are making a very important political and strategic decision. The decision we are making is that the primary object of modern war is eventual victory by armed forces. I profoundly disagree with that analysis of the object of modern war; and the reasons why I disagree is that if we write off Western Europe, then we are risking, in the event of war, the occupation of Western Europe by Russia; and perhaps we are making it inevitable. It is my belief that if a totalitarian Power, with a policy such as Russia has, were to occupy Western Europe, we should not only have an extremely long war even if we were to win it, but that in the event of our eventual recapture of Western Europe we should recapture countries in which all the élite, in the broadest sense of the word, had either been exported to Russia, or liquidated.
§ Mr. Crossman
I hope that the hon. and gallant Member does not attribute the phrase "write off Western Europe" to me. The whole of my argument was that we can defend it and deter the Russians.
§ Brigadier Head
Perhaps I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, but I believe that the policy he was advocating was that there should be no physical and territorial defence of Western Europe but a remote one. Inevitably that would be inviting an aggressor. We could not defend a country if we had not a soldier in the land and only aeroplanes in America. If the hon. Gentleman does not know that, he had better read a few elementary military textbooks, and he should not get up and talk about these serious matters. If we won such a war we should win a Western Europe which had been deliberately sabotaged and could never be put together again. We should have won the war, strategically and militarily but—and this is my contention—we should have lost the very thing for which we had been fighting the war, Western civilisation [AN HON. MEMBER: "We do not want to begin it."] Of course, we do not want to begin it.
The hon. Member was talking about the political and economic recovery of Western Europe but there are factors in that recovery which perhaps he overlooks. 1611 Those in Western Europe who stand for democracy and for the free way of life would feel very differently and much encouraged if there were a realistic territorial defence of that area rather than the present situation which comprises nothing short of a power vacuum, so that if and when Russia decided to move, she could move straight in. That would be a bad state of affairs for the strongest opponents of Communism, and all those who stand up on soap-boxes and shout for democracy know that their day would have come should Russia go forward. I believe that we should make a realistic attempt at a proper defence of Western Europe, which many hon. Members on the Government side, including the hon. Member for East Coventry, have said is impossible. It is impossible if everybody goes round saying that it is impossible and if nobody tries.
It is my absolute belief that if within this pact we try, and America tries, then it is possible. I would quote in that connection General Bradley, and, I believe, the considered opinion of the American staffs, that to fight the war by writing off Europe and doing it from bases outside Western Europe, would prove a disastrously mistaken policy. Lastly there is the fact that if we leave open a territory like Western Europe, history suggests that such areas left wide open to aggression for a long time are usually more a temptation than a deterrent to war.
I should like to make one last remark concerning National Service. The hon. Member brought in the subject of National Service. If he had honoured us in our Debates on this matter with his presence, he would have heard more of our views. We agree with the hon. Member that the present system is wasteful and ineffective. We have constantly said on these benches that in order to create the defences which we require in these difficult times, we need to read-just the present state if disequilibrium between the Regular element and the very large National Service element. To do that there are various means, including improvements in conditions and pay and improving the Regular element both in quality and quantity. As we succeeded in doing that we should be able to decrease our National Service element and 1612 so eventually save both money and manpower. When the hon. Member says that he is surprised that we do not raise more complaints about National Service, I can only reply that hon. Members on this side have never ceased to advocate consistently this same policy from this side of the House.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
I hope that the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) and the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) will forgive me if I do not pick up the threads of their very interesting discussion. I desire to occupy only a very few minutes and to confine myself to two subjects—unconditional surrender and dismantling. The subject of unconditional surrender may be said to belong to the past, but it has figured very largely in this Debate and it ought not to be left where it has been left. We are in danger of drawing unreal distinctions between words and things. It might or might not have been unwise to use the term "unconditional surrender," but it was manifest to everyone in 1942, and surely manifest to everyone today, that unconditional surrender there had to be. When the U-boat campaign was at its height, bombs were raining on London, German armies were in occupation of half Stalingrad and Hitler was in undisputed power, how could we talk about conditions and terms? Obviously there had to be unconditional surrender pure and simple. In the lesser war, which preceded it, I am not sure whether the term "unconditional surrender" was used, but there was absolutely unconditional surrender on the part of the Germans.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I apologise for interrupting the hon. Member because I know that he wanted his speech to be short and because interruptions tend to prolong a speech. For the sake of historical accuracy in the background, surely it is clear that in 1918 the Germans surrendered but so far from surrendering unconditionally, they did so on the face of a specific series of points upon which the treaty of peace was to be built.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris
I am prepared to take up that point. Let me first begin with the Armistice. When von Erzberger 1613 and his colleagues came to the railway carriage in the Compiegne clearing Erzberger began to argue. Foch stopped him at once, saying "Down in that corner is where you put your name" and down in that corner the Germans did put their names. That, it may be said, is only the Armistice. What about the Peace Conference? I spent some five months at Paris during that conference and again unconditional terms were imposed upon the Germans. The treaty was drawn up and handed to the Germans. They were allowed a certain time to look at it and to make counter-proposals. It is true that certain concessions were made, particularly in the matter of Upper Silesia, but they had to accept the terms which were imposed upon them by the Allies. That is why always afterwards one always heard from the Germans about the Diktat of Versailles. They were quite right. It was, and had to be, a diktat. It would be very pleasant for the Germans to get back by negotiation what they lost in war. But it would be very simple of the Allies if they acceded to that procedure.
What puzzled me was the remark of the Foreign Secretary with regard to the working out of unconditional surrender, which he said has smashed the whole of the German constitution with the result that we had inherited nothing but chaos. But was it unconditional surrender or Hitler that smashed the German constitution? What kind of constitution could we have inherited in 1945? Hitler had smashed every scrap of democracy in Germany. Despotic autocrats at the top, a subservient Reichstag and Gauleiters all over the country. Was that the kind of consituation that would have commended itself to hon. Members opposite? I am bound to express my agreement with the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) when he said he doubted whether the formula "unconditional surrender" had had any detrimental effect at all. I hope that we shall not be too ready to say that everything would have gone differently if we had not insisted upon unconditional surrender.
What is much more immediate, and what I specially want to emphasise, is the question of dismantling. I go very far with the Foreign Secretary in respect of dismantling. I have no knowledge of any secret history, but my belief is that one reason why there has been protracted 1614 delay about dismantling is that the right hon. Gentleman himself was battling all the time to limit dismantling to the lowest point possible, and that at the end he had to make a certain agreement with those who stand with us in relation to Germany.
I agree, too, that security is a major issue and that it is not inconceivable that Germany might again attempt aggression. But there are two ways of achieving security. One is to make a nation incapable of waging war and the other is to deprive a nation of the desire and disposition to wage war. I cannot help feeling that the Foreign Secretary has been running side by side two policies which will not run in double harness. He has been markedly successful, and we all congratulate him, in his effort to effect the evolution of a genuinely democratic Germany, but in regard to that democratic Germany we stand today at a point of the utmost crisis.
We are less than three weeks from the most momentous election which Germany has had or is likely to have for many years. Everything about the future of Western Germany may depend on the way votes are cast just over three weeks hence. Everything depends on whether success comes to the moderate men, the reasonable men, the men who try to make democracy a reality, like Herr Arnold, of Nord Rhein-Westphalia, Dr. Adenauer, Dr. Boechler, the trade union leader—whom the Foreign Secretary will know well—and Professor Schmidt. Everything depends upon whether they are in the saddle or those nationalists of whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) spoke and whose existence cannot be denied; and whether the extremists of the Right or the extremists of the Left get sufficient power to make the new Bonn constitution unworkable.
That is why I feel that the dismantling policy is so dangerous. Anyone who has been in Western Germany, even for only a few days, realises the depth and genuineness of the feeling created by the spectacle of the destruction of these constructive works at a time when construction has been pressed on Germany from every side as a necessity. That is jeopardising the coming elections, jeopardising the Bonn constitution and jeopardising the whole future of Western 1615 Germany. To avoid that, the dropping of dismantling will be a very small price to pay. On the other hand, the continuance of the dismantling policy may mean paying a terrific price in disunity in Europe, in disunity in Germany, in the domination by extremists and in the subjection of the moderate men.
For that reason, I earnestly appeal to the Foreign Secretary to see whether, between now and the election, he can do something to bring dismantling to an end. He has spoken of justice. I agree that it is just, but there is such a thing as political wisdom, and justice can sometimes be tempered by political wisdom. I hope that even now the Foreign Secretary will take that point of view and act accordingly.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I make no apology for taking up a little further time to deal with the fundamentally important historical revelations which have come from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I want first to say a word to the hon. Gentleman the junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris). I hope he will not think it presumptuous on my part if I say that it seemed to me that the way he put his point involved some confusion of thought. It is not necessary for a treaty with terms in it to be a negotiated treaty.
It is true that there was not much negotiation about the Treaty of Versailles, but, nevertheless, that Treaty was not unconditional surrender, nor was the Armistice. It was quite clear then to what the victorious Allies were committed. It is true that they refused to negotiate and that they refused to modify their terms except in certain minor particulars. It is true that they said, "These are the terms. We have won. It was right for us to win. It is for us to say what shall be the terms of the peace. Here they are."
That is unconditional surrender in a way, because the defeated enemy has no choice in the matter, but it is not unconditional in the sense that no one knows what will happen. It is not unconditional in the sense that the whole fabric of society is dissolved before one 1616 can begin to see what shall be built upon it. We negotiated with the German authorities in the sense that we said, "This is a German Government and a German State. It is a defeated Government and a defeated State, but it is a Government and a State, and we are making a treaty with it."
There is all the difference in the world between that and saying, "We recognise no authority at all. We recognise no Government and no State, and we recognise nothing except the pulverised atoms of a defeated enemy." As the Leader of the Opposition rightly said in the quotation he made from his speech in January, 1945, that means that the whole responsibility lies upon one to build up what has been destroyed and the responsibility for mistakes rests solely on the shoulders of those who insisted on doing it that way.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris
I go a long way with the hon. Gentleman. He is quite right. It is true that President Wilson's Fourteen Points were the basis of the Treaty. I do not think there is a tremendous difference between the victorious Powers saying, "These are our terms. Sign this or nothing," and unconditional surrender, but I concede to the hon. Member the validity of his argument.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Gentleman may be right and I may be wrong, but there is a more fundamental difference, and it is the whole difference between order and anarchy.
§ Mr. Skeffington-Lodge (Bedford)
Will my hon. Friend bring out the point of the great difference made by announcing unconditional surrender beforehand, while the war was still being fought?
§ Mr. Silverman
I hope my hon. Friend will be satisfied with what I have to say about that in a moment. All want to say about the whole matter in the light of, and against the background of the discussion we have just had is this. There was from the beginning of the Second World War a group of hon. Members, solely, I think, on the Labour Benches, who advanced the proposition that there were two important things about the war. The first was to win it and the second was the purpose of winning it, namely, what we were going to do with our victory when we got it.
1617 We took the view that the second of those was an important aid and asset to the first, that we win wars better when we know what they are for, and when we know what we are going to do with our victory, than if we fight purely for military victory and leave all the problems to be solved after that has been attained. It is not only the knowing in advance, but the careful framing of the lines of one's post-war world—not in any detail but in principle—has two advantages. One is that it makes the whole war effort more intelligent and therefore more constructive, and the other is that it gives one at least the opportunity of having allies even among the nations one is fighting.
We threw away—so many of us thought—throughout the war, the advantage of considerable assistance inside the enemy countries from those who were left in those countries to value what was of value in human civilisation. My hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) gave us a new example of it in the revelations which he contributed to our discussions just now. We failed in our endeavours. We were told, "No, that is not the right way." We were told so by the Government at the beginning of the war, and we were told so by the Coalition Government after it was formed. We were told, "It is wrong to do that. Our way is very much better—indeed, it is the only way." So we were told. There were differences of opinion about it. I remember the right hon. Member telling me when I questioned him during the war, "Why quarrel with Allies in the middle of fighting the Germans? The only thing to do is to defeat the Germans first. If you want to quarrel afterwards, you can do it without endangering the war effort."
I think it was wrong, although many others thought it was right, and they had more responsibility in the matter than I had. But what we are getting today is the most amazing revelation that no such deliberate decision was ever taken. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that the first he knew of unconditional surrender was when he saw it in a newspaper. The Leader of the Opposition said that he gave support to it, but that he was never consulted about it in advance. The first he heard about it was when he read a speech by the then 1618 President of the United States of America—
§ Mr. Silverman
—but that he did not know anything about it before. So that instead of the choice between these alternative policies being a matter of deliberate and careful consideration and considered statecraft, it was a complete and absolute accident. The Foreign Secretary said that the Cabinet was never consulted. He said further that if the matter had been put to the Cabinet, he would have opposed it. This is not only a matter of the use of a phrase. I have tried to point out that it is not. It was a question of whether we contemplated some day or other, either by discussion and negotiation on the one hand or by imposition on the other, making a deal about Europe and the upbuilding of Europe after the war with some kind of authority in Germany, or whether we were to wait until the fabric of society had dissolved in utter ruin before we did so.
I say that it is a most frightening revelation that that important, fundamental decision was taken in the lighthearted, casual, incidental, accidental fashion which has been revealed this afternoon. I wonder what the millions of people all over the world suffering the horrors of war at that time would have felt about the policy of unconditional surrender if they had known what we now know after today's revelation about how our great statesmen conducted the affairs of the world in those critical days?
It is important today. The Foreign Secretary said in one passage in his speech that of course we could not overthrow the spirit of nationalism in Germany in a moment; implying that the spirit of nationalism in Germany ought to be overthrown—at any rate one must so infer. Why should it be? Why should Germans alone among the peoples of the world not be entitled to try in their own nation and their state. Why? We do not want to extirpate the spirit of nationalism in this country or in any other country. It is quite true that we want to sublimate it some day into a spirit of internationalism. We want to do it in a constructive way, and that means by preserving nationalism and patriotism. Patriotism is not an evil thing, even German patriotism.
1619 The trouble in Germany is not that the spirit of nationalism is wrong but that the wrong kind of nationalism is rising. That is what we are complaining about—that in the absence of anything else, in the absence of any encouragement from anything else, in the absence of any constructive attempt to lead and direct the uprising of the German national spirit after their defeat into constructive and civilised channels, we are treating the thing as though there and there alone in the world it can be wiped out. It cannot, and if we try to drive it underground, inevitably we shall produce the wrong kind of thing. That is what is going wrong.
In the absence of real leadership, in the absence of constructive assistance, it is the Nazis who are coming back into power in Germany, coming back into the important positions. It is not for nothing that we read of the new parties and the joining of hands by those who wanted to kill Hitler and those who wanted to prevent his being killed. If I may be allowed one and one only reference to a matter of narrow interest to myself, it is not for nothing that thousands and thousands of Jewish cemeteries are being defiled month after month in the Germany of today without any effective prevention of it or any effective punishment of it.
If, indeed, we had not had the unconditional surrender policy, if we had preserved some sort of native German authority with which we could negotiate and upon whom we could impose terms if we could not negotiate the right ones, if we had an authority which could have acted and which could have canalised the human feelings, which cannot be eradicated, in a constructive and civilised direction—
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (Plaistow)
Would my hon. Friend allow me to interrupt? Does he think it is helpful to attribute this development in Germany to factors entirely outside Germany for which Germans cannot be held to be responsible, and for which they are not responsible? Because that is what he is doing and I submit, with respect, that it is not helpful either to the Germans or to European civilisation.
§ Mr. Silverman
I entirely agree that any such proposition would be as mischievous and dangerous as my hon. 1620 Friend describes it, and if anything I have said could lead to any such interpretation I cannot correct it now because I have not the words in front of me. However, let me say at once that nothing is further from my intention. Of course the people doing these things are responsible. Of course Germans, like everybody else, are responsible for what they do. My complaint is that these kinds of Germans have more opportunity than they ought to have, and more opportunity than they would have had if the others had been encouraged better than they have been in the last three or four years., That is my point.
I want to say only one other thing. I said at the beginning that there are two things that matter about a war once you are engaged in it. One is to win it, and the second is, what is it for; and it is necessary to get the second of these things clearly in mind at the beginning. This is just as true of a "cold" war as of any other kind of war. I think it would be a very good thing if the terms of the conflict between East and West could now be more specifically defined, not in slogans and implications, of which we have had enough from both sides, but in precise, exact and specificterms—the points of difference between one side and another, and the things which can be settled; the things about which both sides are quarrelling, and what contributions can be given to what the other fellow wants. That would not do any harm. It may not do any good—I do not know; but certainly it can do no harm, and there is no reason why it should not be done.
I was almost shocked to find that in no speech from either Front Bench so far was there any reference whatever to the negotiations in Paris, whose at any rate partial success afforded a degree of relief to the tensions in the world. I hope that we shall hear some reference to those negotiations.
§ Mr. Silverman
They were so tenuous that, perhaps, I missed their importance. But it would have been worth a few sentences to deal with them a little more fully, even as much as the revelations which, I think, were probably not intended, but which came, important as they are.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
The hon. Member can read what I said in HANSARD tomorrow. I think he will see that while attempting to confine my observations within a reasonable limit, I devoted at least three to five minutes of my speech to this very subject.
§ Mr. Silverman
I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says, and if what I have said did him any injustice I apologise freely. I understand that out of his speech of some 45 minutes he devoted three to five minutes to this matter. He may have thought that was sufficient. Personally, I did not. I think his speech would have been very much better had he devoted 15 to 20 minutes to this subject, particularly as 15 to 20 minutes could well have been spared from the other things he had to say.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)
He spoke as long on it as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) did.
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not think I have said anything I am not entitled to say. I am sorry if it hurts the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who did not speak, more than it appears, I am glad to see, to hurt the right hon. Gentleman who did speak. I hope that when my right hon. Friend replies, he will give us a much fuller account of what took place in Paris, how far agreement has been reached, and what hopes he has, if any, that further progress can be made upon the constructive lines adopted there.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stone)
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), in replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris), made a speech which was academic, aggressive and, I think, unfortunate in many ways. The issue now is, what will be the result of the elections in Western Germany? Surely, there are two things, whether the surrender was conditional or unconditional—for those are only things of the past—which probably condition the minds of the German electorate today, and two things over which the Government have some control. The first is the trial of one of these unfortunate Field-Marshals; and secondly, as the hon. Member for Cambridge University has 1622 pointed out, the question of dismantling. Those are the practical issues. When the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne spoke about the fact that there had been no agreement between the Russian side and our own, and regretted that there had been no statement of advancement and agreement, surely he was carping at what is obvious and known to everyone in this Committee, that there has been no agreement and that that is one of the problems.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I said that there had been partial advance, partial agreement and a consequent partial easing of the tension. What I was hoping for was a much fuller discussion about how far the agreements had gone, what were the outstanding issues now, and what hopes there were of solving them.
§ Mr. Fraser
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) has already to some extent referred to that matter. I believe that the Foreign Secretary also did so. The fact surely is that what we are seeing today, unfortunately, is a consolidation, of an extreme nature, in Eastern Europe and no similar consolidation whatever in the West. That is the problem. When the hon. Member talks about the terms of agreement and progress, what is going on in the East is a terrifying example of ruthless consolidation. Hon. Members will recall what happened between the wars—the agitation which everyone felt at the time of Hitler's rape of Austria, at the time of the attacks on the Jews, the attacks on various branches of the Christian Church and all the other things, economic pacts and so forth; but what is going on now in Eastern Europe is 50 times more alarming. We are witnessing a complete and absolute consolidation of power, not merely of economic power, but also there is now being launched a serious and widespread attack on all forms of religious belief.
It is not merely an attack against the Church to which I belong; it is not merely the persecution of the Catholic Church, the persecution of the Protestant pastors in Bulgaria or the persecution of individual Jews in Roumania, the suppression of the Jewish schools in that country and so forth; it is not merely the question of persecution and attacks on individuals such as Cardinal Mindszenty, 1623 or on the Lutheran Bishop Ordass or other individual people whose names are prominent. It is the consolidated, determined and ruthless attack on every form of organised religion behind the iron curtain which is a solemn and, indeed, terrifying thought.
That thought is not merely one which, I believe, shocks our conscience. It is an alarming thought because it means that the consolidation of Eastern Europe is being completed as soon as possible, not merely as the Germans consolidated, physically and militarily, but a consolidation which is spiritual and absolute. That is one of the frightening thoughts of today and we must face the fact that all this is taking place. We see also constant pressure on church schools and on clergy and the constant break-up of intellectual life, until finally we see being built up in Eastern Europe the type of State which Mr. Orwell has just described in his book "1984." In addition, we have seen the series of economic and other measures which are consolidating and concentrating Eastern Europe.
I believe that we must take this matter far more seriously than we have done up to now. We must face the fact that, despite rapprochements, agreements and minor details which can be effected here and there—agreements which almost instantly are broken—and despite the speeches of the Foreign Secretary about two systems being able to agree, we are bound to face the fact that there is an absolute and complete ideological gulf between the East and the West. It is a very frightening and alarming thought, but even more alarming is the refusal to accept it. That is the error which is still made by certain people on the Government benches.
Western Europe has got to come together in a much more swift and effective way than it has done up till now. In the East we are faced with a country, or rather a group of States, which can deploy with equal effectiveness either on the national—take the attack on the Catholic Church by the Czechoslovak Government and the attack by the Roumanian Government on Jewish institutions—or on an international level, while we still go on working clumsily on our various national fronts, occasionally 1624 forming committees for this and committees for that, a Committee for Western Union and a Committee for the Atlantic Pact the arms clauses of which have not yet been ratified by the American Government.
We have to concentrate far more on unity in Western Europe or we will see Western Europe destroyed, not by force of arms, but from within. That is precisely what we see now in this latest built-up purge against all forms of non-Communist belief in Eastern Europe. Some people say there is a decline in Communist pressure, but what is happening is far more frightening than any pressure put on by Hitler over the Sudetan question or on Austrian politicians.
Nevertheless I believe that all is not yet lost. I would quote one statistic of the resistance which is still going on. Of 6,000 members of the Catholic clergy in Czechoslovakia, only 200 have so far agreed to the new Government edicts. These Governments, directed by the Russian Government, naturally, under no circumstances wish to have martyrs. Someone said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. That is something which is not required by the Soviet Socialist system. But there is a resistance and when that resistance is stamped out, the whole face of Eastern Europe will be black and it will be difficult for the West to recover. I believe we must do something in this struggle, which is not between national States and not between loose international groupings, but between ideologies. We have to be prepared to see that in the West we make an organisation which is more effective than it is at the moment.
I believe it a pity that this afternoon we should have heard from the Foreign Secretary his statement that the proposed Council of Europe should from its very birth be vitiated and unable to discuss such things as the economic problems which face us all as Western Europeans. We are equally disappointed to feel that the Government are pursuing the process of dismantling and the legal process against this unfortunate field-marshal. I believe those things should be dropped. Hon. Members opposite have to amend their comments a little as the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) amended his this afternoon, and face the fact that the 1625 world is being divided into two blocs and that those who do not accept that truth are lost.
I believe further that we should set up, with other Western European States, machinery for understanding what is necessary in the way of trade and what trade should be carried on with the Eastern European States. There is no question that this country and others faced by grievous economic difficulties are being forced to break up what should be the conditioning factor in all decisions today, the political factor, in view of the economic stress in their systems.
The system in Czechoslovakia and other countries is, perhaps, not so strong as it was. Economically, they need the supply of far more heavy industrial equipment than they are getting from the Eastern States. That we must trade with those countries for the moment is obvious, but let it be at least like for like and, if we are sent consumer goods, let us send them consumer goods and see that this trade is not built up as a permanent basis of our economic life, but as a thing which for the moment has to be and which at a later stage, can be abandoned for more suitable areas of trade.
We have to hold out some hope to the people in Europe that we mean business and I believe we can mean business by seeing that Western Union becomes a reality and that the Council of Europe, which is to meet at Strasbourg, is a living thing, a landmark and not a tombstone and that trade with Eastern Europe will have political objectives behind it just as their trade is carried out in the West. I believe that Western Europe should take certain sanctions against Eastern European trade. It is a difficult thing to tackle, but I feel it should be done.
I believe the time has come when we should do as the Americans have done and set up a committee in this country for dealing with refugees from Eastern Europe. A great many of the New Dealers believed that in Russia lay the people who would bring better and brighter days. Men like Green of the A. F. of L. and Hamilton Fish and Eisenhower have now banded together to set up a committee for the reception of 1626 men exiled from their own country who believe that one day Eastern Europe may be free. Should that thought be finally removed, there will be indeed a black outlook. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne spoke of the danger that in time of war and of a cold war, that the objective for which we are struggling would be forgotten. I believe the objective for which we all struggle is simply this, that all Europe should one day be an area of freedom, an area where the doctrine of human rights still holds a little value.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Lang (Stalybridge and Hyde)
I am very glad to have an opportunity of taking part in this Debate, which comes at a most opportune moment. It comes a few weeks before the Assembly at Strasbourg and, as the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) has pointed out, at a time of exceptional persecution of freedom of thought in Eastern Europe. On both matters this House cannot be too emphatic.
It was my privilege, more than two and a half years ago, to be called to a meeting held in London to discuss the question of the unity of Europe. That meeting was called by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It was a meeting attended by a few representative people. On the executive committee of the United Europe Movement and on the general purposes committee, as I know, having been associated with them from the start, there has never been, and is not now, a Conservative majority. The Conservatives have always been in the minority. At one time the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who is the chairman of the committee, held up the list of sponsors for nearly five months in great hope that more hon. Members from this side of the Committee would become sponsors.
I say that because I shall have to criticise the delegation to Strasbourg, and it is quite clear that the Government have made up their minds that anybody associated with that movement from the start is not to be considered as a fit and propert person to be at Strasbourg. It is time someone said that plainly in this Committee to the Government. If the Government mean business, they have an opportunity of sending men and women who really believe in it and have worked 1627 for it. As the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) said, with a few exceptions, that has not been done. Obviously there are people on the list who should be first thought of, and there are a few notable exceptions and one particularly noticeable exception. We have to judge the intentions of the Government in this matter. I was not very encouraged by the speech of the Foreign Secretary, who had more to say about what could not be done than he had information about what is likely to be attempted.
I see my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hull (Mr. R. Mackay) in his place. He has taken a great part in affairs in Europe but he has not joined our United Europe Movement, and has therefore escaped censure and punishment. He will agree with me that when the delegates go to Strasbourg they will find a very lively anticipation amongst Continental colleagues who believe in the movement. I think we may modestly say that the United Europe Movement in this country has had a tremendous amount to do with the preparation for that Council and to strengthen the hands of our own colleagues. I think that most of the greater stability which we have seen in recent months in France has been due to the fact that by our coming together, they have been able to realise that they are not without friends or support.
I hope that this Council will be taken very seriously. I hope that when my hon. Friend replies he will elucidate for us the last sentence of the statement of the Lord President of the Council when he announced the delegation. He said that those who were appointed might not necessarily be appointed again. I am anxious to know whether the Government mean that they might have a change holus bolus next year, or whether it was a slight intimation to the members of the delegation that unless they are very good, they might not get a second holiday upon the Continent. I want to know that; it is important that we should know it. We know that there was at one time a desire to have a one-party delegation; we know that there was at one time a desire to have a bloc vote, with no freedom at all for members of the delegation.
It is those considerations that lead me to ask what the Lord President of the 1628 Council meant. Let us make no mistake, this is life and death to Europe; it is ultimately life and death to this country that we should have a vital Council, a real Assembly, with the right people who believe in Europe participating, and with some power to do something and that it should not be throttled by the Council of Ministers. That is as much as I need say about that matter. It has been a great opportunity to work for two and a half years in the movement up and down the country. I can claim to have done my part, in all sorts of places, in creating the right atmosphere for the Council of Europe. I hope that what I have said will be some explanation to a large number of people outside who have been surprisingly perturbed about the Government delegation. They are not as close as some of us are to what is going on, but they feel that the objective for which we fought has not yet been achieved.
I wish to refer to a matter which was raised by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser). The position in Eastern Europe is indeed grievous. We have had a great House of Commons day in the sense that there suddenly sprang up a great discussion between two and indeed ultimately three or four right hon. Gentlemen who played no inconspicuous part in the events of the fearful catastrophe of the recent war. It was a kind of backward glance into history to listen to them, and I, and I am sure other Members, felt how glad we were to be alive after those events. I also remembered how narrow was our escape. Some of us will never forget the Christmas of 1940, when stouthearted reasonable people were solemnly asking one another where, if anywhere, in the land of the living we should be on the following Christmas. We are not likely to forget that.
One way of preventing that situation recurring is for those who believe in democratic freedom and spiritual things to come together now while there is the opportunity. It is nonsense for people to say that by doing that we are setting up one bloc in order to freeze out Russia. She has never been frozen out. The door to the unity of Europe has been wide open from the start, and no one made that more clear than the Chairman of the United Europe Movement, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1629 Woodford, in his speech at the Albert Hall when our campaign was launched. What we have refused to do is to wait for as long as it pleased anyone to keep us waiting. We felt it our duty to proceed, while issuing an invitation to all those who would join with us. We shall not wait if it means that we must sit down and discuss little niceties of this, that and the other, when our lives and liberties and religion are at stake.
I cannot and will not be a silent witness of what is taking place, when men and women devoted to the service of the Church, priests of the Church, princes of the Church, Catholic and Protestant, and great simple men without office are being dragooned and put to death with all the horrors of faked trials, drugged trials and things of that sort.
§ Mr. Lang
It is not rubbish at all. It is all very well for the hon. Member to say that it is rubbish. That might be his view, but it is not mine. It is not rubbish, it is reality; and it is because too many people have for too long listened to that kind of view that it is likely to happen here. The hon. Member's intervention has underlined and emphasised, if that were needed, what I am saying. If the battle is lost much further in Europe, the battle is lost here, and if our spiritual freedom, our real freedom, goes, what else matters?
There are many things with which I have been glad to have been associated in this Parliament. In the last few years many things have been brought into law in which I very much believe, I have worked for them, and it is an additional disqualification for Government notice that not only have I associated with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford in something which I believe to be right, but I happen to have been in the party for over 30 years. That is an even more serious disqualification. Some of the things I have worked for all that time I have seen come to pass, and I am glad to have done so. But what will they matter if these other things are lost? I believe that nationalisation is in many respects a good thing, but if behind nationalisation, we are to have no freedom of the spirit, what then? I believe that the welfare State is a right thing, but what is the good of security in 1630 old age if one is in the grip of Satanic powers who deny freedom of the spirit? I believe in education, and in free education, but unless we can educate our people to be free, we may as well not begin to educate them.
Those are the things at stake. What is needed more than anything else is bold and courageous leadership, and we are not getting that, There is an opportunity for this country and Government such as never existed before. On the Continent, people are looking to this country. We are more capable than any other Western Power of giving a great lead on this issue of spiritual freedom. I wish we could give it. I wish that the spirit in which this party was conceived, a spirit perhaps too ancient to be known to some of our colleagues now, could either be revived or reincarnated, or at least remembered; the spirit in which men stood boldly and bravely for things that really mattered, when we were spiritual people with a spiritual vision. Anything less will fail us.
Man does not live by bread alone. He does not live by nationalisation alone, but by things which are much more vital and which must enter into those policies if they are to be of any real effect. I could say much more, but I am anxious that other Members should be allowed to make their contribution. I hope that no one will think that the brevity of my speech is any reflection upon my belief in it. I have said before and have been laughed at for saying it, but I say it again, that there are things for which I will work very hard. There are things for which I have sacrificed a great deal. There is only one thing for which I will die, and that is the absolute right of every man to have his conscience free towards God, to be free in his mind to do what he knows to be right. Those are the things which really matter, and if the Government fail to give a lead, then other people will have to do so.
There is in this country a great volume of sincere religious opinion that will sweep away, sooner rather than later, anybody who fails to give it leadership, fails to direct it and fails to accept this challenge. We have in the forthcoming meetings the opportunity to prove our 1631 reality. Let there come to us inspiration and courage. Let the delegates go forth, clothed with the power which this House and this Committee can give them, with belief in their mission and the intention to make their mission a reality. In that way we may save, not only ourselves and our western brethren from the horrors which have overtaken our friends on the other side of the iron curtain, but we may ring afresh a bell of hope for those whose only recourse now is prayer that someone will be raised up who shall deliver them.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
The Committee has certainly heard a sincere and moving speech from the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang). I regret that I do not propose to follow him, because I intend to confine my remarks to the subject of British policy in the Middle East. The only remark I wish to make arising from the speech we have just heard is that it was a most moving speech, and that the intervention of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) when he said, "Rubbish," only underlined the depth of the split between the dyed-in-the-wool Marxists and the Christians in the party opposite.
I would also say that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was replying to the most unfair attack made by the Foreign Secretary, I was reminded of some of the words he used early in the war when he said. "In war, fury; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity; in peace, good will." I believe that in those words of his we see the complete explanation of the most sincere and candid reply which he made to the attack of the Foreign Secretary—a reply incidentally which met with general approval from all sides of the Committee.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Can the hon. and gallant Member remember any occasion in any of his speeches during the war when the right hon. Member for Woodford preached magnanimity?
§ Major Beamish
I cannot remember any occasion on which he did not. I wish to turn to the Middle East. I know it is a big switch from what the Committee has been discussing so far, but as far as I know, there are no other hon. 1632 Members who wish to speak about the Middle East, and I propose to ask the Government a number of questions. I hope that the Under-Secretary will not think that I have ideas above my back bench station when I say that I hope there may be some replies forthcoming to these questions.
I think that today is the first day of the Middle East Conference in this country, a conference at which His Majesty's representatives in all the Middle East countries are present. It so happens also that three of the leaders of the Middle East countries are either here now, or will shortly be here; the Senussi leader, and the Regent of Iraq are here, and I understand that King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will soon visit this country. It does therefore seem appropriate that the views of this Committee on the situation in the Middle East should be made known. It so happens that a couple of months ago, I spent some five or six weeks in the Middle East. During that period I went to all the Arab countries, with the exception of Egypt.
I had the very interesting honour of meeting the kings, presidents, prime ministers and leading statesmen of the countries which I visited between the Lebanon and as far south as Qatar in the Persian Gulf, and so I can speak with some first-hand knowledge. I was not able to go to Israel, much as I wished to do, because when I left this country I could not apply for a visa as de facto recognition had not then been extended. But the present State of Israel, if one can call it a State, is one which I know very well indeed, having lived for several months in Tel Aviv and other party occupied by the Israelis.
I am not going into past history, beyond remarking that British policy between the wars always seemed to me to be hamstrung by two contradictory and conflicting loyalties which we conceived it our duty to carry through. By attempting to carry them through we hoped to get the best of both worlds. In fact, we got the worst of both worlds. None the less, I think it must be admitted, and history will admit, that our administration in the Middle East, and Palestine in particular, was characterised by tolerance and fairness. Certainly the Arabs have little to thank 1633 us for between the wars. Yet throughout this period it was only a minority of Arabs who embarrassed us; and when war came even that minority ceased to embarrass us. As for the Jews, they would do well to remember that no country in the world has done so much for them as we have, although today it is little thanks we get.
With the coming into being of the State of Israel we have to face a new situation in the Middle East which, broadly speaking, I see as follows. Israel is recognised by the United Nations. The Arab League has proved a failure; I do not think that is too strong a word. None the less, a large majority of the Arab peoples are clearly anxious to establish a closer working co-operation between Arab countries, particularly in what is known as "the fertile crescent." That would be a useful step towards the establishment of greater unity in the Arab world, but there have been many difficulties, not all of which can be laid at the door of the Arabs themselves.
What are British interests in the Middle East? First of all, strategically, the Middle East is a link between Europe and Asia and a link between Asia and the African continent. Furthermore, it lies across the path which connects this country with the British Empire and the Commonwealth overseas. Therefore, strategically, it is of the utmost importance. I hope I may be forgiven if this is a little simple, but I wish to lead up to the more particular considerations. Economically, the Middle East is of special importance, because of the oil which is contained there underground. In fact the Middle East has the largest proved oil reserves of any area in the world. They may even be so large as to equal the proved oil reserves of the rest of the world.
So far as Arab interests are concerned, as I see it from my recent first-hand knowledge, they want peace, better standards of living and independence. We should ask ourselves, "Are these interests conflicting, and do they conflict with the interests of America and Western Union in that part of the world?" My answer to that is that quite clearly there is no conflict at all between all these interests. I think that the main object of the free world must clearly be to ensure that the Middle East is not physically 1634 invaded or disrupted from within by international Communism. Hat is the first object of our general policy.
Russian strategy in the Middle and Near East is clear for all to see; to retain a vice grip on Albania, although it is divorced at the moment from the other Cominform countries; to drive to the Mediterranean coast at Salonika by an attempt to establish a Greater Macedonia State; the war of nerves against Turkey, forced to keep a million men under arms, and then the threat towards the oil in the Middle East and an attempt to disrupt the Arab countries, and perhaps in particular Iran.
Obviously, the Arabs have nothing to gain from Communism. That does not mean that Communist propaganda in the Middle East has been at all ineffective. We know that the Arab peoples are deeply religious, that they are independence loving and that they are individualists who like owning their own property. For those three fundamental reasons Communism, if established there, would make no appeal of any kind. But Communist propaganda, of course, differs completely from Communism in practice.
Therefore, I suggest, that none of us who believe in a free world and who wish to hold up the onrush of Communism can achieve what we want unaided and alone in the Middle East. It seems that it must be a joint effort of all the parties I have mentioned. I am the first to admit that the Government have had many difficulties in the working out of a proper and forward-looking policy in the Middle East during the last four years. The fact that this conference is now taking place gives me considerable hope that something really constructive will result.
What are the problems which the Arabs and ourselves, working together, must solve? First, there is the State of Israel. I do not think that it is at all an exaggeration to say that the establishment of that State was brought about by the complete casting aside of the rule of law and by the casting aside also of the principles of the United Nations Charter and of the Atlantic Charter. But, be that as it may, the United Nations decided by a small majority, after considerable juggling behind the scenes, to recognise the State of Israel.
1635 Two plans have been put forward since the war for the partition of Palestine. There was the United Nations plan of, I think, November, 1947, and there was the Bernadotte Plan. It is instructive to look at the map of Israel today. One finds that the Arab town of Jaffa, which had a 100 per cent. Arab population of 90,000 people, the Arab towns of Acre, Ramleh and Lydda, and the town of Safad, which was 75 per cent. Arab, are all in Jewish hands, and were all allotted, under the United Nations 1947 plan, to the Arabs, In fact, I do not think that it is an over-estimate to say that the present territory occupied by Israel is owned, as to 70 per cent. of it, by Arabs and has been for more than 1,500 years. I suggest that that is something which we cannot lightly ignore. But the present State of Irael seems to work on the basis that possession is not only nine-tenths but ten-tenths of the law.
I want here, if I may, to dispel a most popular illusion. That illusion has been put about by the propagandists of the State of Israel. It is that so soon as the British left Palestine, one of the first things that happened, if not the first thing, was an attack by five Arab armies—armies coming from five Arab countries—upon the State of Israel. That is completely untrue. Apart from the fact that a small band of Syrian irregulars made a small penetration in the vicinity of Lake Hule, where some of us may have shot duck, there was not penetration by any Arab army—before it had come into contact with Israeli troops—of any territory allotted to Israel under the United Nations Plan.
§ Mr. John Lewis (Bolton)
When the hon. and gallant Gentleman refers to these attacks, surely he must have in mind the fact that the Egyptian Army crossed into Palestine territory before they were driven out?
§ Major Beamish
I entirely agree, but it was into Palestine territory allotted by the United Nations to the Arabs in November, 1947. They entered that territory at the request of the Arabs. That is exactly the point I wish to make, and I thank the hon. Gentleman very much.
Immigrants are pouring into Israel at an incredible speed. The "open door" policy rules everything. We have it on the authority of Lord Samuel, who broadcast 1636 recently that every Arab house is crammed to the doors—I think those were his words—with Israeli immigrants. We can assume that immigration will continue unrestricted until such time as all the Zionists in the world who wish to go into the State of Israel have gone there. That raises a very worrying question in all our minds, because I think all of us must be concerned about the independance of the neighbouring Arab States and about what will happen when the pressure within the present boundaries of Israel is so great that some movement must be made to relieve it. Leading Israelis such as Mr. Ben-Gurion, and others, have given estimates at various times. I have seen three estimates by reliable Jewish authorities. They have estimated that there may be five million, 10 million and even 20 million Jews in the State of Israel in the foreseeable future. That must raise in all our minds many fears.
§ Major Beamish
I cannot give way too much. I do not want to speak for too long.
I should like to ask whether there is one rule of law for Europe and another for the Middle East. Was it wrong of the Dutch to suppress the armed revolts in Indonesia and right for Israel to seize large parts of Arab Palestine and bring about a situation in which more than 900,000 Arabs, men, women and children, are now homeless? I believe that figure may be as large as 950,000 and not, as Lord Samuel said recently on the B.B.C., a little more than 500,000. He, for purposes best known to himself, merely subtracted at least 400,000 from the number in a broadcast which I thought was obviously inaccurate and altogether disgraceful.
This is the first question I wish to ask the Government. What part are His Majesty's Government to play in ensuring that the boundaries of Israel are fixed by international guarantee and in establishing that any further aggression on Israel's neighbours is intolerable and will result not only in the withdrawal of United Nations recognition but in other counter measures? I want to know what is being done to stabilise this situation.
On the subject of the refugees, I would say that I have had the extremely 1637 unpleasant experience of visiting all the camps in the Jordan Valley. I can assure hon. Members that during the war, and on other occasions, I have seen some pretty unpleasant things—all of us have—but I have never seen anything which approached even one-tenth of the horror of those camps. I might add in parenthesis that I have visited all the D.P. camps in Austria and almost every D.P. camp in the British zone of Germany. None of them are one-tenth so horrible as the state of the camps in which the Arab refugees are living. I shall not try to play on the emotion of hon. Members by going into details, but I ask the Committee to believe that there can be no more horrible or tragic sight than the plight of these people.
I am the first to admit that the British Government have done more than any other Government to assist the Arab refugees. During my tour of the Middle East I met Mr. Griffis, the American head of the United Nations Commission which is helping the refugees. He said, "When you see Mr. Bevin tell him that I should like to thank the British Government for having done all they possibly can to make my task as easy as possible." I am the first to admit that the British Government have given a fine lead, but that does not mean that the problem is any nearer solution.
§ Major Beamish
I shall answer both these questions. The Arab Governments and the wealthy Arabs have welcomed these people. They have provided them with money and with food as best they were able. They have done everything which anybody could do. The hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Lewis) ought to go to some of the Arab houses in Jordan and see the way in which families have been taken into the little mud huts which are crammed to the doors with diseased and dying people. If he had seen these places like I have, he would not make an intervention like that.
Let me also inquire what the Israeli Government have done for the support of these people; they have not provided one single brass farthing towards it. 1638 Indeed, the Foreign Secretary of Israel actually used these words in reply to a request from Count Bernadotte, I think, that they should help to solve the refugee problem:Any method of repatriation undertaken solely on humanitarian grounds would prove to have been falsely conceived in that it would relieve the Arab State of a large part of the pressure exerted on them by the refugee problem.Could anything be more callous?
The second question I want to ask the Government is this: What will the British Government do now, following on all that we have done, to give the world a lead in securing the fairest possible solution of the problem of these unfortunate people? How can they be resettled, and how can we insist on full compensation from Israel?
Thirdly, I want to make some comments on the internationalisation of Jerusalem. All I would do here is to mention that this again is one of the decisions of the United Nations which has been flouted by the State of Israel. They have made it quite clear that they will not even discuss the internationalisation of Jerusalem, but they are prepared to discuss a scheme of international supervision of the Holy Places. That would be a wholly unsatisfactory solution, and it would deeply shock the Christian world.
The old City of Jerusalem is small and could hardly exist on its own, but the area of the whole of Jerusalem is one which could well be administered by an international tribunal. I am glad that the British and American Governments have made it perfectly clear, in spite of the intransigence of the Israeli Government, that we intend to stand by our pledged word in this respect. Is the Government aware of the very deep feeling among all Christian leaders in this country and throughout the world that there must be no departure from and full support for the complete internationalisation of the whole of Jerusalem?
Next, I want to say a word on economic recovery, and this, of course, arises out of President Truman's "fourth point," as it has come to be known, about the provision of capital and technical advice of many kinds, on which must depend the future prosperity and increased standard of living of the Arab countries in the Middle East. They are urgently in need 1639 of all the help that can be given, and I hope that this help will be given on an Anglo-American basis. I would ask the Government if we can now look forward to a period in which the British and Americans will work together. Can I have the Under-Secretary's attention for a moment? These are important questions, and they are not put in order that I may hear my own voice. If the hon. Gentleman does not listen to my argument, perhaps he will listen to my question, to which I hope for some sort of an answer. I will repeat it. Can we look forward to a period in which the British and Americans will work in co-operation to help to improve the standard of living of the Arab countries, and shall we now see active steps being taken to broaden trade understandings with the Arab Goverments in order to follow up the excellent beginnings made by the Middle East Office under Sir John Troutbeck?
From the strategic point of view, the time I have spent in the Middle East has convinced me that the position is thoroughly unsatisfactory. I could not help netting the impression from my extensive tour of a lack of co-ordination of our defence policy, and this is something which requires the immediate attention of the Government. I will mention a few things that spring to my mind. When one flies to the Middle East, one risks one's neck in landing on an aerodrome at Beirut, and the same is true of Damascus. Neither of these aerodromes are fit for a modern fast plane to land. The same thing applies to Amman, and these are the only aerodromes in these three countries—Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The Abadan airfield can only be landed on because private enterprise maintains it. At Kuwait one lands on a hard-baked ploughed field, and in Qatar there is only a small strip which is not really an airfield, because the plane lands on the desert. I should like to know if anybody is paying any attention to these matters.
Going slightly further afield, I should like to know what are to be the developments regarding the future of British troops on the Canal. There is a new priming of opinion in Egypt in these matters. One would seek the same information about the future of British 1640 troops in North Africa and particularly at Benghazi and Tobruk and down to the Sudan. It is about these defence matters that I hope the Government will make some sort of reply and assure us that these matters are receiving the most careful consideration. I recall that, at the height of the war in Palestine, and this is not generally known, the Iraqi Army and the Jordan Army could not have sustained battle for more than a few days had a further Jewish attack been made, and the reason was that the British Government had deliberately kept them short of the arms and equipments with which to fight. The world thought that we were arming the Arabs, but in fact nothing was done, because we were loyally carrying out the U.N.O. embargo on arms, while Czechoslovakia, also a member of the United Nations, was pouring arms and modern weapons into Israel, with practically no protest from this Government. That was a most disgraceful state of affairs.
§ Mr. Benn Levy
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us from what source did the Arabs derive such arms as they were using?
§ Major Beamish
I could easily deal with that point, but I shall not deal with it now, as I have already spoken for a long time.
The centre of gravity of the oil situation has shifted from the American Continent and the Caribbean to the Middle East, and approximately half the proved oil reserves in the world are in the Middle East. One cannot therefore possibly over-estimate the importance of oil in the Middle East, and I want to ask the Government whether consideration is being given at the highest possible level to the fact that at present only 2 million tons of oil is flowing out on the Mediterranean Coast. There could be 8 million tons flowing that way had the 16 inch pipe-line from Kirkuk to Haifa been completed. By 1955, if all the plans at present projected are carried out, there will be at least 70 million tons of crude oil flowing out on the Mediterranean Coast, but that will only be achieved when the three pipe-lines each of 30 inches or more and the two 16 inch lines from Kirkuk to Tripoli and Haifa are completed.
1641 Is sufficient thought being given to the question whether that oil should be refined in the Middle East or whether it should be shipped as crude oil? There are many questions about oil which need asking and answering in this Committee because, by 1951, Western Europe will be dependent for 82 per cent. of its oil supplies on the Middle East. That is approximately double the extent to which it is now dependent on the Middle East. Therefore, we can say that the success or failure of the Marshall Plan depends on the security of the Middle East and the way in which we extract the oil from that part of the world. It is no exaggeration to say that the success or failure of the Marshall Plan depends on this.
I shall end by saying that I believe there is a new climate of opinion in the Middle East in which joint Anglo-American endeavours will receive a most friendly reception, although there are bound to be some minor, and possibly major, difficulties. It must be made abundantly clear that Israel cannot continue to play fast and loose with the principles for which we fought the war, and that if she so continues, the result will be to alienate the democracies, not least America. Israel must remember that if she wishes to exist at all—as I hope she will—she must live in peace and concord with her neighbours.
Let me emphasise that the strip of land between Turkey and Pakistan is one of immense strategic importance, and that, unless this is appreciated, the vast outpouring of American dollars and British pounds and technical advice—and even British lives, so far as Greece is concerned—which have been given to Turkey and Greece, will be largely wasted, because it does not require much imagination to visualise the possibility of a swinging right-hand attack from the area of the Caucasus through Syria on to Turkey's "soft underbelly." The gap between Turkey and Pakistan is far too wide open at the moment. I am absolutely convinced that if the Arab leaders will show the statesmanship of which they are capable, and if the British and Americans work with the Arabs towards a common goal and appreciate the dangers of not having a constructive policy, then one more nail will have been driven 1642 into the coffin of international Communism, and free peoples will be able to look forward to a future in which they will have increased opportunities to prosper and flourish.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Hanley)
I shall not keep the Committee for more than a few minutes, but I wish to touch mainly on two sentences which were spoken earlier in the Debate. Before I do so, however, I should say that I listened, as we all did, with interest to what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish). I find myself disturbed by his criticism of a broadcast by Lord Samuel and his description of it, ending as he did by describing it as "disgraceful," "exaggerated," and so on. The hon. and gallant Gentleman himself, when speaking about Israel and the Arab countries showed an insufficient knowledge of the subject and exaggerated so grossly as to make apparent his own prejudice in the matter. For example, he spoke of up to 40 million in the foreseeable future being the plan for emigration into Israel.
§ Major Beamish
I did not mention the figure of 40 million; I mentioned three figures—five million, 10 million and 20 million. If the hon. Gentleman wants to know who suggested that in the foreseeable future there would be 20 million in Israel, it was the Chief Rabbi in London.
§ Dr. Stross
I thought that in his flights of fancy the hon. and gallant Gentleman went even to 40 million. However, I accept what he says, that in the foreseeable future someone has stated that there will be 20 million in the State of Israel. I can only say—and I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will admit it frankly and openly—that the Prime Minister of that country states that their best expectation, and that for which they must work, is, within five years, to reach two million—a doubling of their present population. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman agree with that? We will take silence as assent, and take this as being an example of some of the other things he said.
My hon. Friend the Foreign Minister said that he was not prepared, as yet, to write off Germany as a potential aggressor. I was very glad to hear him say that and to hear him say it so bluntly 1643 and firmly, because those of us who know something about mid-European countries and the people who live there, and who know from them what sort of a fate they suffered during the occupation by the Nazi armies, realise that they, too, will be glad to hear that coming from this Chamber and from the Foreign Minister. The mistake we made after the first world war was not to understand the psychological implications of further rearmament by the German people. None of us could have foreseen what penalties would have to be paid because of our neglect of that impending danger.
In assemblies of this description in countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia, of the sitting members who represent their people there, between 30 and 50 per cent. of them only survived the Nazi occupation because they were tough enough to outlast torture and years of degrading imprisonment in slave camps. This is something that it is really important for us to understand because we had the good fortune not to be overrun and we came out victorious in the end. But in Poland and Czechoslovakia there is, literally, not a family which cannot speak of members of its own kith and kin who died at the hands of the Nazis. This is something we are apt to forget, and when the Foreign Minister stated as clearly and straightforwardly as he did today that he is not prepared as yet to write off Germany as a potential aggressor, that is a statement which will be received with approval in France, Belgium and Holland, and in all the countries of Eastern and Middle Europe.
The other sentence to which I wish to make reference is one spoken by the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) who opened this Debate. I am sorry he is not present at the moment, but I shall try to repeat accurately what he said. He said—I paraphrase because I cannot remember his exact words—speaking of East-West trade, that he felt it might be a mistake to strengthen the links between ourselves and the Soviet Union and her satellite countries because they could at any time shut off the tap, and that trade with them would only strengthen them economically. That point was improved on a little later by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) who said that if we have to trade 1644 with countries like Czechoslovakia, and so on, we should do it on the understanding that it is only a short-term policy and because we have to, but that we should exchange with them not only goods for goods, but goods for like goods.
I think that is a fair description of what was said. I regret the right hon. Member for Bromley is not present because I would like to ask him whether he remembers saying in this Chamber a few months ago that, so far as the Soviet Union was concerned, we were in his opinion vis-à-vis our position with Hitler round about 1937. In other words, he meant that within two years we should be at war. If he admits that that is so, would he not agree that he is a little biased in his attitude towards East-West trade? If he does not believe that we shall stay at peace for any appreciable length of time, I should like to ask him this: does he really want war or is it simply that his dread of war and his desire for war are intermixed because of his hatred of the particular ideology existing in Central and Eastern Europe?
We have to ask hon. Members questions of this type because, if they successfully deceive themselves on this issue and are responsible for helping to drag Europe and the world into war within two years, as the right hon. Gentleman said a few months ago, history is never likely to forgive them and their fate will become the subject of mockery and derision to any who may survive. That is the only contribution I wish to make, although I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the Foreign Secretary make a speech without a brief, and I hope he will do so very much more often.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)
The last remarks of the hon. Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross) spoiled what effect his speech might have had, certainly so far as those of us on this side of the Committee are concerned. He must know by now that all of us here, and particularly my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, have frequently said that the whole object of our policy and, as we understood it, the whole object of the Government's policy, which in this matter we have loyally supported throughout this Parliament, was to build up strength in the West so that we could 1645 prevent another war ever occurring. To charge us with pursuing or advocating a policy which we know would lead to war is a wholly dishonest charge, and if the hon. Member will think back over what has been said—
§ Dr. Stross indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Low
I see the hon. Gentleman is now shaking his head and is implying that all I am saying and all that has been said by my right hon. and hon. Friends during the past four years is insincere rubbish. That is what he is implying. He is entitled to his opinion but I hope he is alone in it or is, perhaps, accompanied only by the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), who is sitting on the other side of the Gangway and who, we know, has different views about this. At least the Government, who are pursuing the policy which we have supported, must know that the hon. Member for Hanley is wholly wrong. I am bound to say that when he was talking I thought he was using the argument as a weapon of party warfare. Now I find that he is not even prepared to accept my word for it when I state what is the object of our policy.
A little time ago my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) spoke about the Middle East. I want to say a few words about the Eastern Mediterranean theatre or region, and I want to say it against the background of the start of this Debate. We started this Debate by discussing the importance of building up the unity of Europe and of increasing the security of Europe. Against that background, when I look at the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, I wonder whether we really hope to get unity in Europe and unity in the world at large when we allow deliberate flouting of law and order to go on in what used to be the centre of the world. I refer, of course, to Palestine, where force seems to be recognised, where charity has played a big part—and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and the Government on the lead they have taken in looking after the Arab refugees—but where law and order have really played no part at all in the past year.
In order to complete the picture, I should say that the disease is spreading to other countries, too. I think the Committee is aware that Egypt has been 1646 taking the law into her own hands over the ships she has stopped and searched, and from which she has sometimes removed the cargo, in the Canal. These things happen; there are protests; but nothing is done, and it appears that nothing can be done to stop them. I do not see how we shall build up unity in the world, which must in the last resort depend upon respect for the rule of law, if this sort of thing is allowed to go on unimpeded and unhindered in any part of the world. I know the difficulties, but I ask the Under-Secretary of State to let us know what His Majesty's Government are trying to do, whether alone or through the United Nations, to put a stop to this sort of thing.
I have in mind, too, the continued intervention in the civil war in Greece for which Albania and Bulgaria and, recently, Yugoslavia have frequently been condemned by bodies set up under the Security Council and the Assembly of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I will get up. Is it not the case that it has never been proved and that the statement which was prepared by a particular commission was based upon quite prejudiced evidence, and that it was stated by those who were responsible that it would never have been accepted as evidence in a court of law?
§ Mr. Low
I understand that two commissions have satisfied themselves, on the evidence which they have seen on the spot, that intervention was taking place. Moreover, I further understand that in recent days neither Albania nor Bulgaria has really denied that they are intervening. I do not want the hon. Member to interrupt me further at the moment, but if he intends to speak later tonight perhaps he will tell us, if it were in fact proved that intervention was going on, whether in his opinion that would be wrong. We should always like to know what is his idea of right and wrong in international law.
I was making a point about the effect of the flouting of law and order in the 1647 Middle East upon the general creation of unity in other parts of the world. I should like now to turn from that to the effect, as I see it, of the delay in settling the issue of the Italian Colonies. I would at once agree that it is impossible to take any one of the Middle East issues separately; we have to try to seek a general settlement, and I cannot see how the right hon. Gentleman is going to settle any one of these issues unless he also settles the future of the Italian Colonies.
I ask him what has been the result of the long consideration which the Government said they were giving to the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in a Debate which took place, I think, early in December last year. The gist of that proposal, as I understood it, was that the ex-Italian Colonies should be administered under a general trusteeship of Western Union countries and, as an addition to that, he said that Western Union should by that time include Italy. What has been the result? This is my question: what has been the result of the long consideration which the Government have been giving to this proposal. I think it was in June last that they told us they were still considering it. Not only must the failure to settle that problem have had an effect on the Middle East position and the Mediterranean position in general, but surely it also has had an effect on the defensive and strategic plans for the security of the area.
Now, perhaps, I may pass to the second part of my speech, which is a reference to the problem of security, first in Europe and then in the Mediterranean area. When we discussed the Atlantic Treaty in May it was pointed out, particularly by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), that the signing of that treaty was not the completion of a house of security, as it were, but was really no more than the settling of the blue-print of how that house would be built, and perhaps the laying of the foundations of that house.
What more has been done since May? I strongly suspect that nothing has been done inside the union of the Atlantic Powers. I have seen no signs that any new arrangements have been made by which our defences would be increased or costliness and wastefulness avoided— 1648 the costliness and wastefulness that there must be in the building up of defensive systems, even though the Brussels Pact system has got under way. I know there are difficulties in America itself. There appears to be there a growing hostility to military aid. I hope, however, that the Under-Secretary of State will tell us that, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, they intend to go ahead with the machinery under that treaty, and to try all they can to assist in the implementation of the spirit of its military clauses.
It was also said by my hon. and gallant Friend that an Atlantic defence system itself was no use at all so long as its right flank was exposed, and by its right flank he meant the position in the Eastern Mediterranean. The eastern end of the Mediterranean and the Middle East area have for the last century been one of the vital British interests. I ask the hon. Gentleman what are the Government's plans for securing that area at the present time? As I think my hon. and gallant Friend explained, it would appear that at the present time our position is certainly not relatively as good as the position we had in 1939, and our position should surely be much better.
Perhaps I may add my own opinion here. I heard my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes refer to the area between Turkey and Pakistan as a "yawning gap." It would appear from what we know that that is true. There are many Jeremiahs who go about telling us it is quite worthless to try to arrange the defence of that area. I ask the Under-Secretary whether the Government agree with this over-pessimistic view. The approach from the north to that area is one of the most difficult approaches in the world, and that area itself, being the centre of that part of the Mohammedan world, is well worth trying to defend.
The key, however, to the Eastern Mediterranean theatre at the moment seems to me to be Greece, and it is of Greece that I should like now to speak. The Committee must realise that the Greeks have been fighting, or have been under the lash of occupation, for nearly 10 years now, and that they are still fighting. We read from time to time of the successes of their army in driving out or mopping up the rebels, but we read also 1649 that many of the rebels who are driven out of one place go to rest, and to be supplied, re-armed, and comforted in Albania or Bulgaria and then go back again to fight another battle. We have read too, in the past two years of several attempts by the rebel bands in Greece to capture a town in northern Greece. We know the strain that must be imposed on the Greek Army in protecting the northern towns from capture by the rebels.
It is my opinion—and I know it is an opinion which is widely shared—that until the rebels capture a town in northern Greece it is unlikely that they will receive direct aid, as opposed to indirect aid, from either of the northern neighbours of Greece. The Greek Army has a big problem, and it has had that problem for the last two years. It is the problem of hunting, finding and destroying the enemy inside Greece; it is the problem of garrisoning key points in Greece; it is the problem of preventing the northern towns from capture; it is the problem, too, of trying to prevent the rebels, when they have been beaten, from escaping into Albania or Bulgaria; and it is the problem also of helping in rehabilitation and repair in many parts of Greece. It is a great problem, and I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is satisfied that Greece and the Greek Army can carry out alone their obligations imposed upon them by these problems. When I say "alone" I am not forgetting the dollar aid that has been given, or the technical advice given by this country and America.
But can we really go on watching Greece struggling alone in what is an international struggle, since Greece is the key, as I think many of us agree, to the security of the Eastern Mediterranean at the present time, and since it has been proved that the civil war is being carried on solely because of the intervention by her northern neighbours? Since this is clearly an international problem, is it not now up to the great Allies, America and ourselves, to go to her aid? I should say that this is a problem of protecting her northern frontiers. That is now much easier than it was last year because the northern frontier is not so long, following the closing of the Yugoslav frontier, about which we have all read in the Press.
1650 I should say that it would not require very large forces to protect the northern towns of Greece from capture, and if that force could be a joint Anglo-American force it would probably not have to be much more than three or four times the size of our small force in Greece today. We should have a repetition of the Central Mediterranean Force as we knew it under Field-Marshal Alexander during the war. It would bring to the Greeks freedom from the fear which they have suffered during the past 10 years. If we could free the Greeks from fear, and so allow them to get on with the job of settling down again in peace, and of recovery economically, socially, politically, and morally, we should add to the security of the Mediterranean and we should add to the security of Europe.
I believe that if we have learned anything in the past three years we have learned this, that all our economic schemes, all the schemes of social development here and in other countries, and of economic advancement and political advancement, all these wait on law and order; and that it is our bounden duty to see that law and order are again secured in Greece. We can help, and I say we should help.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
In the short speech I intend to make, following the rule for tonight of short speeches, I cannot take time to follow the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) on the subject of Greece, and I apologise to the hon. Gentleman accordingly.
I am particularly anxious to return to the subject of Germany, for Germany is in many ways the key to our present situation. Indeed my only reason for intervening for the first time in a Debate on foreign affairs is that in the last two months I have spent nearly three weeks in Germany. As I see it, the background of this problem is something of this nature. The tentative agreement reached in Paris gives us hope that far out in front of us there may be a better state of overall world agreement to achieve, but for the time being—and I am sure it is a very long time being; at least 20 to 25 years is the sensible time to calculate—we have to regard Europe and the world as divided into two blocs which will trade together, 1651 but which certainly will not agree with each other on fundamental matters.
I do not myself expect for one moment that the Soviets will invite the atom war to fall upon them by launching the Red Army westwards into Western Europe at any time. I do not expect that to happen, because from their point of view why should it happen? Their philosophy tells them that our way of- life is bound to crumble because in their view it is rotten. That view of theirs should not be dismissed quite so contemptuously as some do dismiss it, because, after all, our own Lambeth Conference last year stated:It is important for Christians to be instructed as to which elements in Communism are contrary to the Christian doctrine of the nature of man and which elements are a true judgment on our social and economic society.I think our task is to prove that the Soviets are wrong by remedying what is rotten in the existing social set-up of the Western world, and to build—and this is a theme I have developed in a book—a genuine partnership of democratically directed peoples on a world scale. That will be a colossal task, and we shall only rise to it if we display immense heroism and wisdom, and only if we get out of our heads the idea that some day—even in the next 20 or 25 years—we shall have "comfy" and cosy times, in which people will be able to buy all they want in the shops at nice easy prices. That just is not going to be so at any time in the course of the long struggle for this genuine partnership of democratically directed peoples.
There are one or two comments I should like to make about Germany, arising from my own observations, such as they were, on the speech of the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan). Perhaps I might have his attention, because I think he made one or two mistakes which did not correspond to my own observation. If he does not want to listen, that is too bad. He said in opening the Debate that our Government constantly interferes from a political point of view with German affairs, whereas Americans were wisely holding back and letting the Germans go their own way.
My comment on that is this. I do not think that there is in Germany a major 1652 political party which wants the German coalmines to go back into the ownership of private individuals. I will concede at once that the C.D.U. Party would not want to see the German coalmines owned in the central hands of the State, of the Government at Bonn. They would like to see the ownership of the coalmines divided up among municipalities, among Lander Governments, and among public institutions, such as trade unions and so on. But I do not think that there is a German politician, a moderate man of any standing whatever, who wants to see the German coalmines go back into the hands of private individuals. Their fear is that, not the British Government but the Americans are intervening in such wise as to leave a situation in which there will be no alternative for the German Government at Bonn except to let them go back into private hands.
I was surprised that the right hon. Member for Bromley suggested that no Right-wing party has been tolerated. I may be wrong about this, but I understood there was a party which was called—they give themselves curious names—the Free Democratic Party; and I understood that the C.D.U. had been greatly improved because all the biggest landowners, business men, reactionaries and bankers were leaving the C.D.U. to join the Free Democratic Party because they could not tolerate even the degree of progressive policy which the C.D.U. put forward. I think that that party would qualify as being a thoroughly Right-wing party, unless my information is quite wrong.
I must say that I agree with those who have spoken about dismantling. I do not see what anybody gains, compared with the harm that is done to Western Union and the hope of a united democratic peoples, by the dragging on of this policy after four years. But in this respect I would put dismantling quite second to frontier rectification, which has so far not been mentioned. For the sake of—what is it?—a dozen parishes between Germany and Holland where the frontier "wiggles," and in order to straighten it out, those dozen parishes are given to Holland. I had the honour of staying at a convalescent home for tramway workers in Dusseldorf; 1653 I had my meals with the tramway workers who were there recovering. They did not talk to me about their wages; they did not talk about their rising unemployment; nor did they talk about the housing problem. The only thing they wanted to talk to me about across the table was frontier rectification. It was in vain for me to say what a tiny little area the West was grabbing compared with the vast areas grabbed in the East. They said "The principle is the same. You take men and women who want to be Germans and face them with the alternative of being either refugees or else Dutch."
I plead with the Government, even at this hour, to recognise what harm is being done to the hopes of Europe, and what encouragement and ammunition is being given to all the most jingoistic Right-wing extremist elements in Germany by this policy. I plead that, even now, we should turn a little bit tough with the Dutch concerned and demand a plebiscite in this area before the fate of these people is finally decided.
This brings me to what seems to me the most serious problem of all—the refugee problem in Germany. There are, as I think has been stated, some 10 million to 12 million people who have come into the western zone of Germany from the east. This is not a problem which is over and done with; it is not a question of 10 million having arrived and their numbers now diminishing as they die off or as they are absorbed. The problem goes on; the numbers grow. I went to one of the intake camps at Uelzene in Hanover, some 20 kilometres inside the boundary, and there saw the arrivals for the day. They come to the camp of their own accord, because it is only if they are accepted at the camp that they will be issued with ration books and given the support of the community in finding jobs, homes and so on.
Now the intake per day is about 400. It was averaging 400 at the time I was there, which was in May, and I have written to the assistant of the Minister concerned within the last weeks to ask if there has been any change since I was there and he has said that it is about the same. Four hundred per day arrive, out of which they accept only certain categories: namely, those who have mothers, 1654 fathers and children also in the western zone; those who can show their health to be irretrievably endangered by forced labour in the uranium mines; those who are sorely needed as highly skilled workers; those who can prove—not suggest, but prove—from responsible people over in the eastern zone that they are in danger of immediate arrest and deportation. Those are the chief categories accepted and given ration books. They run out on an average at 50 per day, or 350 per week who are accepted through this one camp alone and I think there are about five similar camps down the whole of the frontier. Anybody can work out from that how many there are per year.
That 350 per week is only a trivial part of the problem; those are the people for whom the Government accepts responsibility. The remaining 350 per day are given one day's rations, put on to the train and sent back across the frontier to the East. It is then estimated that 250 walk back to the West because they would prefer to face homelessness and joblessness rather than go back and live in the East. This means that through one camp alone, the unofficial, and therefore—without imputing any ill to the individuals concerned—almost necessarily semi-spiv, or even semi-criminal, population of the Western zone is increasing at the rate of 1,750 persons per week.
That is one camp out of five, although I am not quite certain of the figure—it may be there are only four, or perhaps as many as six camps along the frontier—and if we multiply that number by the number of camps and the days of the year, it gives us some idea of the problem. This is just one of the problems which has to be tackled. It seems to me that the united West has to attack that problem, and that everyone except the poorest of the poor in our country ought to have to make material sacrifices to provide the resources to deal with it. We should tackle the problem with the same initiative and resolution as we showed in the airlift, otherwise the worst elements, not necessarily at this election but later on in the fullness of time, will get control of Germany in one form or another.
We must really mean business about a united West and the democratically directed partnership of peoples on a world scale. That seems to me to be the 1655 one chance of advancing to a world which some day may be united, when by our ability to sustain and prevent our system from crumbling we shall show that the Soviet estimate about us is quite wrong.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
I shall not follow the hon. Baronet in his remarks about the refugee problem in Germany. I am in entire agreement with his estimate of the gravity of that problem, and of the refugee problem in a great many other parts of the world. I hope that the Minister will be able to find time to touch on the Government's attitude towards this problem, especially now that the International Refugee Organisation has either been wound up, or is about to be wound up. It is a very serious problem in regard to which the Government of a great power should take up a well-defined attitude.
I should also like to take up another point which the hon. Baronet made, that the Russians are unlikely to invade the West. There again, a little to my surprise, I am completely in agreement with him. I agree that the Russians are unlikely to resort to war, not only because, as he said, they regard our civilisation and way of life as doomed to destruction, but also because they know that if they resort to war they will inevitably be heavily beaten, and also because they are getting a great deal, if not all, of what they want otherwise.
That brings me to the main theme of my speech, which is China and the Far East. The question I want to ask the Government is, what is their policy in China and in the Far East in general? It is a part of the world in which we have very great interests. Sometimes when one reads the papers one is tempted to believe that the Government have no policy at all. One constantly finds a lot of loose ends and it is high time they were tightened up. In the first place, I asked the Minister to give some details of our representation in China and of our channels of communication with the Chinese.
At this time, when the country is in a state of turmoil, we should have strong and effective representation, and we should give our representatives every possible support and backing in the hope 1656 that they may be able to exert some influence on the course of events. We have an ambassador in China at the present time, who is an extremely good one, but he is in Nanking. He is accredited to the Kuomintang Government, but for months he has been marooned in Nanking which is under Communist occupation. What is he doing there? I hope the Minister will give us some indication of his position, the privileges he enjoys and the functions he performs. Is he in touch with anyone at all?
It may be argued, quite properly, that we should have an observer in Nanking, but a vice-consul would be enough for that. We must remember than an ambassador is His Majesty's personal representative, and he should not be exposed to the insults and indignities which members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps are open to, in the area controlled by the Communists. We have only to take the case of the American consular officer who was recently beaten up and made to sign a most fantastic confession simply because he tried to get out of his place of residence.
It is not enough to say that we have left our ambassador in Nanking simply because the Americans have done the same. It is no good trying to follow American policy in China for the simple reason that the Americans have not got a policy either—it is simply a case of the blind leading the blind. The result is that at the present time, when it is most important that we should be properly represented, we do not seem to have any effective representation either with the one side or the other. It is esesntial that we should have a channel of communication with the Kuomintang with whom we are still in diplomatic relations, and also with the Communists in order to protect our interests.
Take, for example, the case of the Amethyst. Can we be told what is the present position in regard to that unfortunate vessel, and what effective steps are being taken to secure her release? It has always been hinted that this matter is too delicate to be discussed, but the Government must get out of their heads the idea that the Communists are as sensitive as all that. They are not dresden shepherdesses. The only sort of methods they understand are the methods of ruthless brutality which they themselves employ. To say that they are 1657 going to be upset because questions concerning them are raised in this House or anywhere else, is nonsense. Then there is the question of British commercial interests in China At the moment they are suffering at the hands of both the Kuomintang Government and the Communists. What action are the Government taking to protect them?
Finally, there is the much larger question of our overall policy in China and the Far East in general. We must not forget that China is one of the most important, if not the most important, theatres of the cold war. The fate of the whole of Asia is at stake. I am sure the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) will agree with me.
§ Mr. Maclean
That is going a little further than I would go, and being a little more optimistic or pessimistic, according to how one regards it.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
Would not the hon. Member agree that the reason for agreeing with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is that on this occasion the cold war there was so successful, that it reached the stage of the shooting war?
§ Mr. Maclean
I think we have pursued that diversion far enough. The hon. Member for West Fife says the cold war there has been settled. I say that the fate of Asia is still at stake. The fact that the hon. Member agrees is the best evidence and the greatest refutation of the views of those who say that Chinese Communists are not really Communists at all, but are simply Liberals with rather advanced ideas of agricultural reform. The fact that they enjoy the support of the hon. Member for West Fife is quite enough for me; I know which side they are on. If anyone doubts me he has only to read the recent speech of the Communist leader, Mao-Tse-Tung, in which he revealed himself as an out and out thorough-going orthodox Communist who associates himself 100 per cent with Moscow and the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Maclean
That corresponds to his idea of a democracy.
The fact remains that in spite of the triumphant attitude of the hon. Member for West Fife, vast areas of south-west China are still free from Communist domination. That is particularly significant, because these are the areas which resisted the Japanese during the war and which were never occupied by them. It is also significant because the south-west is a part of China which traditionally has always been in opposition to the north—and the Chinese are people who have a great respect for tradition. I should like the Minister to tell us what representation we have in those areas of south-west China? Are we, for instance, in touch with the Mohammedan leaders who are making most effective resistance to the Communists? What, in general, is the policy of His Majesty's Government in that matter? Do they propose to give those leaders any support or encouragement in their struggle, or do they propose simply to let the whole of south-west China fall under Communist domination?
§ Mr. Maclean
I would not be sorry to see Mohammedans in China or anywhere else playing their part in the struggle against a system which denies freedom of conscience to anyone—Christian, Mohammedan, Jew, or whoever it may be.
I am, however, asking what is the Government's policy in these matters because it is, after all, the function of the Government to frame foreign policy. Before they decide, let them remember that on the fate of south-west China depends, in the ultimate analysis, the fate of the whole of south-east Asia. Once southwest China has fallen to the Communists then Siam, Indo-China, Malaya and Burma cannot hope to stem the Communist tide. Let the Government remember that before they decide to leave to their fate the non-Communist elements which remain in China.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. D. J. Williams (Neath)
A number of speakers in this Debate have stressed the need for defence, but so far no one has said what is to be defended. One Member said that democracy should be defended, another brought in feudalism and oil in the Middle East; and the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) said that we must defend China and the Far East and nationalism. If all these things are to be defended, then we are faced with a formidable task. I would remind the Committee that only on Monday we debated what was called a serious economic crisis, and that that crisis has not yet been solved. Moreover, no one has said how all these things are to be defended and, most astonishing of all, no one has said against whom they are to be defended.
This Debate is one more proof that we are now engaged in a cold war, and it is clear that the longer this cold war continues the more difficult it will be to solve the world's economic problems. The cold war has now become a burden on our economy and on that of Western Europe. Economics are now being used as a weapon in the cold war, and the political division of the world—the great tragedy we have witnessed in the course of the last five years—is to be followed by the economic division between East and West.
The United States of America is using her tremendous economic power to erect an economic iron curtain between the agricultural East of Europe and the industrial West. This is bound to have disastrous consequences on all the countries of Western Europe. It will widen the gap between East and West; it will retard the recovery of Western Europe; and it will make it more difficult for Britain to solve her balance of overseas payments and achieve economic independence by 1952.
Another product of this cold war is the Atlantic Pact, and this, too, is bound to have serious effects on the economies of Western Europe. It was debated recently in the House, and I do not propose to repeat anything that was said then. In any case I am not a specialist in military or strategic matters, and I am not qualified to speak about these things. However, the Atlantic Pact raises far-reaching economic and political questions, 1660 and I want to make some observations to these aspects.
It has been said in support of this treaty that it is a defensive pact. I do not quarrel in the least with that argument. Indeed, I accept it. I do not regard the pact as an American plot against the Soviet Union. I take the view that the pact, though signed in Washington, was originally created in Moscow. But though the pact is defensive, we have to remember that defence costs money. It is no cheaper to arm for defence than for attack. The weapons are the same, and the cost is the same. It makes the same demand on the national resources and the same burden on the national economy. We have to remember that if armaments are to be our only defence, there is no cheap defence policy.
As my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) said this afternoon, many of us, while approving of the pact, have serious misgiving about its financial and economic implications. We realise that the nations of Europe, including this country, cannot, in their present condition, carry heavy additional armament burdens. The proposal has been widely canvassed that the United States, out of her colossal resources, should foot the bill to re-arm Europe. If America agreed to this, it would considerably ease our difficulties, but will she? Personally, I doubt it very much. The Americans are worried about their economic prospects. There is the possibility of a major slump, and it is clear that America is now haunted by the spectre of another 1929. In any case, we have to realise that if there is to be rearmament Europe and Britain will have to accept the responsibility and make their contribution.
May I say a word about the objectives of the pact? Its aim, as stated here recently, is to prevent aggression, and there is no doubt at all as to the source from which that aggression is expected. Let us be quite frank about it, it is Russia. Of course, Russia is not mentioned in the pact. Indeed, there is a provision in it somewhere that Russia can join, but if that were so there would be no cleavage between East and West, and probably we would not be having this Debate this evening. But if the authors of the pact are clear as to the source of the aggression, they are by no means clear as to 1661 what form the aggression is expected to take. Are they afraid of the Red Army or of Communism? Are they afraid of territorial aggression or ideological aggression? Are they afraid of Stalin as a marshal or as a Marxist? I think that distinction is fundamental.
The idea of territorial aggression arises from a complete misunderstanding of the Soviet system and of the philosophy on which it is based. There has been an idea widely spread since the end of the war and the defeat of Hitler that all dictatorships are alike and that there is no difference whatever between Hitlerism and Stalinism. I agree that there are certain very unpleasant similarities, but I would remind the Committee that there are vital differences. It is important that this Committee and the country should understand that there are fundamental differences between the Nazi dictators of Germany and the Communist dictators in the Soviet Union and the satellite countries. On this point I would quote a man who should know something about it, namely, Kerensky, who was head of the Provisional Government in Russia from March to November, 1917. He is now in exile in America. He has recently made this statement to a correspondent in New York:Stalin will never assume the role of aggressor in the classic style of Napoleon or Hitler. Undoubtedly, Communist strategy allows a new world war as a possible occurrence, but Stalin himself is quite sure that the war, if and when it comes, will be started by dying Capitalism in the Western democracies.There is a great deal of truth in that.
The danger now is that we are preparing for the wrong kind of war. We are preparing for the next war—Viscount Montgomery spoke of this the other day—in terms of the last war. It is well-known that history does not repeat itself, least of all in war. Russia's actions since 1945 have caused a great deal of anxiety and fear in the West. Indeed, the greatest condemnation of Stalinism is that it has frightened all the smaller nations in Europe who at one time looked to the Russian revolution to bring their emancipation. But it is in America that this fear has taken the greatest hold upon the minds of the people.
America has so far given two answers to this challenge of Communism. The 1662 first is Marshall Aid, which was a sensible and effective answer. The second answer is the Atlantic Pact and armaments, which, of course, are no answer at all to the problem of Communism. I do not think that America is afraid of Russia. Indeed, she need not be. She has overwhelming superiority in technical resources; but America is afraid of Communism—psychologically and pathologically afraid of it. America may defeat Russia in war but she will not defeat Communism by force of arms. That should be stressed and repeated in every town and village in the United States of America. Communism cannot be defeated by guns and bombs, even atom bombs. War will not destroy Communism. Modern history shows that war spreads Communism.
The danger is that the weight of armaments on the European nations will prevent their economic recovery and may lead to crises and unemployment, which are the traditional breeding grounds of Communism. The danger is also that the weight of armaments will make it impossible for the European nations to recover, by breaking down their economies. It is precisely in the breakdown and in the spread of crisis that Communism will flourish afresh. The real danger now is not war but economic crisis. If Europe is to be over-burdened with armaments, she cannot be prosperous, which is the only effective answer to Communism. Armaments are no answer to the modern challenge of Communism. Indeed, the armaments programme of the democratic nations is Stalin's secret weapon, and the most effective weapon in the armoury of Communism.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
I do not propose to detain the Committee long because other hon. Members wish to speak and for that reason, too, I shall not attempt to dissect the speech of the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. D. Williams). However, I gathered that he thought it was the intention of the democratic countries to go to war with Russia. I think I can assure him that no democratic country, certainly not this country or the United States, has any intention of going to war with Russia. If there is a war with Russia, the reason will be that 1663 Russia is the aggressor. I rather agree with another hon. Member who said that there is no great danger, at present at any rate, of Russia going to war with us in the usually accepted term, because the so-called cold war is doing her work very well.
I want to emphasise the importance of our trying to improve our relations with Germany. I fully agreed with what was said by the hon. Member the junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris) about the advisability of discontinuing the policy of dismantling. It has gone on long enough. I am certain that if we can satisfy the German people that we have no intention to injure their interests, provided they behave themselves in the way in which we believe to be right, there is no great fear of any recurrence of German animosity towards us.
So many of us forget that the collapse of Germany has entirely upset the balance of power in Europe, and that, unless there is a strong middle force in Europe, we shall always be up against the menace from the East. The hon. Member for Neath suggested that Russia had no territorial ambitions. He ought to look at a map of Europe since the war. He will see that Russia has come right into Western Europe. Russia has always been moving west though she has always adopted the policy of drawing back from time to time when she found it advisable.
§ Mr. Crossman
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman arguing that we must have a strong Germany in order to keep the balance of power in Europe?
§ Sir C. Headlam
If we wish to preserve the peace of Europe, we must have a balance of power. I did not mention the words "strong Germany." We must, nevertheless, recognise the fact that Germany is a powerful nation and is one of the most powerful factors in Europe. Our complaint about Germany is that its force was ill-directed, but if we are—[Laughter.] That seems to amuse the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus). I do not know why. Has he approved of the policy of Germany in the past?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The reason was that the remark that the only thing wrong with Hitler Germany was that its force 1664 was ill-directed, reminds everyone of the fact that the Chamberlain Government tried to direct that force Eastward, and was caught in its own trap.
§ Sir C. Headlam
I was not alluding to the policy of Hitler's Government in particular but to German policy since Germany became a nation. Our policy should be to strengthen in every way the moderate forces in Germany. We believe that Germany should join the Western Pact and that she should also belong to the Western European Assembly. Therefore I hold strongly the views expressed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and of the Junior Burgess for Cambridge University that a conciliatory policy towards Germany should be adopted by our Government.
I also welcome the fact that we are approaching what I believe to be the most important event in European history for many a day, the meeting of the European Assembly at Strasbourg. I remember that when I put my name down in this House to a Motion advocating Western Union, it was remarked in some paper, I think "The Economist," that there must be something in a policy of this kind when such an old-fashioned Conservative as Sir Cuthbert Headlam and the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) were both able to support it. I look forward with confidence to a continued strengthening of the democratic forces in Europe by means of European Union and the Western Pact, which is designed not for war but for the preservation of peace.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I always feel that I would like to agree with the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Sir C. Headlam) because his brother was an honoured commander of a battalion in the regiment to which I used to belong. However, on the issue of Germany, about which we have had much discussion today, I have always felt there are certain principles which are perfectly clear and from which we should not have wavered over the last three or four years. The first is that we must recognise the fact that Germany has over a long period, perhaps stretching back for 50 years, been responsible from time to time, for acts 1665 of aggression directed against France, Belgium and other countries, and that there are many countries in Europe which have every right to be frightened of a recurrence of German armed aggression.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I will not quarrel over that. There is, therefore, every reason to say that Germany ought to remain permanently demilitarised. That is the first principle.
The second principle is that if we agree that Germany should remain permanently demilitarised, then we shall not be frightened of a Germany that we see is permanently demilitarised but we shall be perfectly prepared to say that those factories in Germany which can be used for the economic rehabilitation of the people of Western Europe shall be used for that purpose, I say that in actual fact, there has been dangerous ambiguity in the policy which has been pursued by the Allied Powers.
I was rather embarrassed when we had certain disclosures earlier today. I was probably unique in the Committee. Possibly I was the only Member who felt it was a pity that we were disclosing in this House of Commons on this occasion, possibly for party purposes, matters which arose in the course of the war. But I think that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did in fact disclose—as I think many of us have reason to know he always could have disclosed—a perfectly proper case upon this matter. The fact is that the Soviet Union proposed a steel production of 3.2 million, the French 5.2 million, and my right hon. Friend has always been upon the side of the angels on this matter within the counsels of the Allies.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The hon. Gentleman—or my hon. Friend, as I hope I may still call him in spite of his recent consultations—and my right hon. Friend are in disagreement about this. I am quite certain that the Foreign Secretary has always stood, so far as he could, for the general principles which I am now putting forward. I only wish that his advice had been accepted more fully by the Allies. I am certain that he himself cannot for one moment support a 1666 policy of deciding that a single German factory which can be used for the production of peaceful goods shall not be used for that purpose simply because, if there were a war, it could be diverted in one form or another to warlike purposes. If I may say so, some of the factories now being dismantled are factories which, provided we meant permanently to de-militarise Germany, could perfectly well be put to productive purposes. There is no doubt about that.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
Would my hon. Friend permit me to ask one question? If we are permanently removing from the shoulders of Germany the burden of making any contribution to the defence of Western Europe, upon whose shoulders are we to put that burden?
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am very sorry to deal with this problem in the way in which I have to. I should simply love to discuss this issue of defence and to put forward my views, which I hold very strongly, which I have discussed occasionally in private with my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) and others, and of which they are very well aware. But I will say only two things about it. First, I do not believe it is necessary to have a force of 10 divisions ready to put into the field in Western Europe. I believe that to be absolute nonsense. We simply cannot afford to be permanently upon the footing which, I think, the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) wanted, so that we would always have that number of men ready to put into the field.
I have not discussed the atomic bomb in the House of Commons for something like 18 months or two years, and I hope that for that reason I shall not be regarded as entirely insane when I say again that I do not believe there is any army in the world which would fight against large numbers of atomic bombs. The atomic bomb is the absolute weapon. Air superiority is the No. 1 and vital issue in defence, and a strong air force, with atomic bombs, and backed up by a number of mobile brigades in the field, would be a force against which no Power in the World would fight. I do not, therefore, believe in this whole business of war defence which has been 1667 put forward. It does not matter whether we have 10, 15 or 20 million tons' production of steel. What matters is the command of the air—that is priority No. 1.
Secondly, if there is anyone who has command of the air and is in possession also of atomic bombs—if one side has them and the other side has not—in my opinion, in that event alone, the side which possesses both is in a position of absolute superiority, with one qualification, and that is that it has sufficient mobile troops to hold a line of some kind in the field. I entirely accept the view that, of course, in the last resort, anyone who is to win a war must have troops on the ground. But we could not hope in any circumstances whatever to produce enough troops to occupy the whole of Russia and Siberia. Therefore, the sooner people face this fact, the better. What we can do is to produce a defensive force so effective that nobody in the world will dare to challenge us or our Allies or the U.S.A. Let me say, in passing, that I hope the United States of America will be sensible enough, in relation to the recent conferences, to remember the fact that it was due to the initiative of scientists in this country that they produced the atomic bomb as quickly as they did. The sooner we get back to the same stage of atomic collaboration with the U.S.A. as we had in 1942, after the Quebec Conference, the better.
I wanted today to deal with more fundamental points, because I believe that the danger from the Soviet Union or from Communism is the danger not of a hot war but of a cold war, and the danger that they may be winning the cold war. I know this will be an unpopular point of view in some quarters, but I think that today we are bound to take our minds back to 1937 and 1938. I quite agree that there is no easy comparison between Communism and Fascism. I quite agree that Hitler was an entirely different proposition from Stalin, but nevertheless I say that there is a danger of appeasement, and I want to sound a warning note in this direction.
Anybody who has studied the American documents which were summarised in "The Times," will, I think, realise how appalling was the record of this 1668 country in 1938. I hope they will remember that it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler)—who the other day used the phrase "multi-coloured appeasement,—who, according to these documents, in April, 1938, after the anschluss, after Hitler had annexed Austria, still said to Ribbentrop, "We really have not any very great quarrel with the German people," and still was prepared to enter into details regarding the return of the German colonies.
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth): rose—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The hon. Member is perfectly entitled to criticise any person or party, but he should not omit to mention that at that period the Socialist Party were marching solidly into the Lobby against conscription.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The issue of conscription arose in 1939. I have not time to enter into discussion of a different subject, but I have the right to say that I am not going to stand here and listen to the kind of criticism that comes from some quarters—I do not say from the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft)—of the party opposite. I am a critic of my own Front Bench and am not the most popular member of the party, but, nevertheless, I am more ashamed as a Briton of the policy of appeasement put forward in 1937 and 1938 as it has come out in the documents than of anything I have read for a long time and I am very proud of my right hon. Friend because, although I am going to attack him now, I see nothing in his policy which I can regard as being in any way as shameful as appeasement.
§ Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
I have before me a quotation from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster of 26th March, 1936:It is only right to say bluntly and frankly that public opinion in this country would not support, and certainly the Labour Party would not support, the taking of military sanctions or even economic sanctions against Germany at this time, in order to put German troops out of the German Rhineland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March. 1936; Vol. 310, c. 1454.]
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am not trying to be controversial, but I recommend the hon. Member to read the remarkable book now appearing, written by the Leader of the Opposition. If, after reading that, he has any comments to make, I can only refer him to his own leader. I am putting forward practical proposals and I hope that hon. Members will realise that I am putting them forward seriously. I say to my right hon. Friend: Expose the facts. It is no good going to the dockers, about whom we are so worried, and talking about an international conspiracy. The dockers of this country do not yet know what Communism means—
§ Mr. Blackburn
I am not as great an expert as the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). Before coming down to what it means, I should like to give a little advice to the hon. Member for West Fife—
§ Mr. Blackburn
—of whom we are all very fond. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said the other day, I think very fairly, that Stalin fears our friendship more than he fears our enmity. The hon. Member for West Fife should be like Stalin and fear his friendship more than his enmity, because there are many secretaries-general of Communist parties in Eastern Europe who are now being tortured while the hon. Member is laughing. That is because first they went to the Socialists, then to the Churches, but this appetite grows by what it feeds on, as in the case of Mr. Haigh, and people turn against their own kith and kin. I say to the hon. Member, "If ever Harry Pollitt gets charge of this country, watch out." I wish to say quite seriously, let us expose the facts.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Owing to the Rules of Order, I am unable to put on the Order Paper, although noble Lords are allowed to do so in another place, questions about Buchenwald, which is in Germany. Is it not a fact that Buchenwald today is being used as a concentration camp by the Communists?
§ Mr. Blackburn
My right hon. Friend says, yes, it is. That is the kind of fact that the dockers could understand, and then they would understand what Communism is. We remember the surge of emotion produced by photographs of Buchenwald and Dachau, and when the people of this country realise, as they are beginning to realise, what Communism means to those who have to suffer it, there will be a great change in their attitude. I therefore say: Expose the facts and broadcast the truth about Buchenwald and other concentration camps to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and let the voice of truth be heard throughout the Soviet Union, and perhaps there will be a profound change. In all these Communist parties they are looking at one another with suspicion. I was a little sorry that our ambassador went to the funeral of Dimitrov. I am by no means certain about what way Mr. Dimitrov died.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I have no intention of intervening in the controversy between my hon. Friend the Member for Shore-ditch (Mr. Thurtle) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife.
My second principle is one which I raised yesterday, and the Government ought to accept it. I refer to the principle of reciprocal retaliation. To take the case of Miss Peters, whom we claim to be a British subject, I understand—I give her case as one instance but there are many others—[An HON. MEMBER: "Dual nationality."] If anybody in the British Embassy in Moscow is picked by the Soviet authorities and kidnapped, I would say that while we cannot reciprocate in the sense of kidnapping any Member of the Soviet Embassy here—I would not suggest that for a moment—let us immediately expel one official from the Soviet Embassy, a selected official whose expulsion we think would hurt. That principle should be accepted. Every time we get tough with the Soviet Union, every time we really indicate that we mean business, they withdraw. Take Persia, the very first instance which we in this Committee remember. One can give other instances up to the airlift to Berlin. I 1671 advocate in the cold war a policy of active and not passive defence.
One word about Greece. It is pathetic that we do not remember more often than we do in the House that in 1940, when we stood absolutely alone, the Greeks were the first people to put up a successful resistance to Fascist aggression. Ever since then that country has been a martyr country. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his general policy in Greece, but I think we should recognise, in view of the continual aggression against Greece, the right of Greece, with ourselves, in collective self-defence, to go into Albania. If the Greeks desire to counter-attack any rebels who attack from Albania, we should recognise their right to track the rebels down to their lair. Albania has sunk one of our destroyers—a destroyer that went all the way through the long Arctic night to Murmansk to deliver supplies to the Soviet Union. We have every right to authorise Greece to go into Albania and trap the rebels.
I turn to an issue on which I am afraid that I am again in a minority. I do not feel that we have any right to be complacent about our present situation. It is now four years since this Parliament first met. We then passed a resolution as a House of Commons that we had three or four years in which to make the United Nations work before weapons of mass destruction were developed by the nations of the world. All that time has elapsed and we still have not got an agreement and are nowhere near an agreement for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction from the armouries of the several nations. The time in which to achieve such an agreement is short; the time may be short for humanity.
Before many more years have elapsed, say three to four years at the outside, we must reach a settlement in one way or another with the Soviet Union. I do not mean that I advocate any form of actual aggression. I believe that we should have conversations once again. At some stage we should, with Stalin, get round the table in order to get some kind of agreement with him. There is little time left. Agreement must be based on a policy, not of passive but of active defence in the cold war, which will strike terror into 1672 the hearts of the Communist terrorists who have beaten the life out of some of the friends of my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife as well as our own friends, and which will perhaps once again give hope for the peace of the world.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Hamilton (Sudbury)
In the short time at my disposal I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn), but I should like to make reference to a part of the world of which we have heard little today, and that is the Far East. So far as I know, it was referred to only by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean). I agree with him to this extent, that I think we ought to set about making better contacts in China than we already have: but I disagree with him in other ways. I think we have taken a very mistaken line in China in regarding the Communist part of it as necessarily black and the non-Communist part as necessarily white. In China I think we have adopted the Communists' own game of trying to form a line and saying that everybody who is of our way of thinking is white and everybody else is black.
From everything I have been able to hear with regard to China, the Communist regime is more enlightened than the Nationalist regime. There is far less corruption and the ordinary Chinaman gets a much fairer deal. I was very interested to read a letter written by quite a distinguished Chinese in Peiping. He was a savant and a Christian, who out of sheer curiosity stayed on there when the Communists occupied the town owing to what he had heard from various students who had studied under him. He wrote that he was led to believe that Communism meant slavery but from what he had seen it meant liberation. The Chinese there felt it was a change very much for the better.
It may be that this is only the first step. It may be that later on we shall see the whole horrible paraphernalia of the police state; mutual suspicion, and every man wondering whether his neighbour will tell tales about him; and whether he will be hurried off to the concentration camp, or execution. That time may come, but it has not come yet, and there is no certainty that it will 1673 come. The hon. Member quoted Mao-Tse-Tung as saying he was in full agreement with Moscow. I daresay that for political reasons he has to take that line. But he has also said that he wishes to combine what was good in the old system with what is good in the new, which is a very different attitude.
In any case we have these millions of Chinese who under this present system of Communism feel they are getting a much fairer deal. Do we want to be associated in their minds with exploitation and depression as they felt it under the Nationalist regime? I should say certainly not. Therefore I hope that the Government will take more steps than hitherto to get into touch with the Communist part of China to see whether good relations can be established, and whether we might possibly even exercise an influence to help Chinese Communism to develop in quite a new way, instead of the way in which we have seen things happen in Czechoslovakia and countries of that kind. I hope that for that reason the Government will pay special attention to China. It has been to my mind very much left out in the cold, and I hope now that more attention will be given to it to see if we can establish friendly relations with this very large part of Eastern Asia.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. John Foster (Northwich)
The Debate took a rather curious turn when the Foreign Secretary was speaking. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) put forward some constructive criticism and paid a tribute to the success of the right hon. Gentleman's policy in Berlin. The Foreign Secretary seemed to take it very much amiss. He stated, with some vehemence, that the policy of the Government in Germany would stand up to any criticism. Then, as the Government so often do, he sought to find that it was the fault of somebody else. In this instance it was the fault of unconditional surrender and the Morgenthau plan. The excuse seemed to be that if it had not been for the unconditional surrender we would have had a tame, subservient democratic German Government with which to deal, and none, or very few, of these problems which have been in existence in Germany if it had not been for the demand for unconditional surrender, 1674 and that the right hon. Gentleman did not know of it until he saw it in the papers.
After that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) took up the running, and emphasised that it was the demand for unconditional surrender which wiped out the whole structure of the German State and vitiated social life, and that if it had not been for unconditional surrender, it would have been quite easy, apparently, to solve the problem of Germany. We can, I think, only thank heaven that the hon. Gentleman was not in control of things in 1945. Has he forgotten that we have had examples of unconditional surrender? We had unconditional surrender in Italy, and unconditional surrender in Japan.
Does he not appreciate that the reason why in Germany we had chaos and complete destruction was not the demand for unconditional surrender but the nature of Hitler, and of Hitler and his generals, and of Hitler and his gauleiters. That is what caused the chaos, and caused the problems with which the right hon. Gentleman, in many directions, has failed so conspicuously to deal.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the quadripartite control of Germany had something to do with it?
§ Mr. Foster
I would agree, of course, that some of the problems in Germany are caused by the Russians; and we have been maintaining on this side that if the Government had given up their pious hope that they could get on with the Russians while the Conservatives could not, if they had given up that hope a little earlier, they could have solved the problems a little better. I could not agree more. I am only sorry that the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), when he was in control of matters in Germany, did not appreciate that earlier.
§ Mr. Foster
We are not suggesting that. We are suggesting that the Russians would have appreciated, if our 1675 party had been in power, that it had no weak flank, no Left wing, which could blackmail the Foreign Secretary. That is what they would have appreciated. The difference in the attitude at Potsdam when the change-over occurred is very good proof of that.
But the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne seemed to think that there were people to deal with in Germany, that it only, apparently, needed Hitler to retire into the background and put up a dummy government and that then everything would have been all right. Has he forgotten who succeeded Hitler? And does he really think that unconditional surrender caused all that? It is quite possible that those actual words "unconditional surrender" would not have been chosen by a British Government, but the British Government of that time can bear no kind of blame for the conditions in Germany today.
It must be remembered that the words "unconditional surrender" were chosen by President Roosevelt, in order, I believe, to show to the Russians that we were not going to indulge in any backstairs intrigue with Hitler. They were always suspecting it, and the accusations after 1945 bear that out. I believe that President Roosevelt thought that if he used some tough words, it would show the Russians that there was no danger of our making separate negotiations with the Germans, and would also ensure that the reverse would not happen, either.
The unconditional surrender which we have heard about is a thing of the past; it is no alibi at all. The right hon. Gentleman should have the courage to deal with these problems or else say why they are so difficult, without trying to get an alibi from the past. What about the Morgenthau plan? What an alibi that is. I, personally, was very much against the Morgenthau plan. Since this is the day apparently for reminiscences—psychological warfare from the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) and so on—let me give an experience of my own. I was sent over on a special mission by General Eisenhower, to argue, at a very low level, in Washington against the Morgenthau plan, but when I got there I found that it was unnecessary to argue against it because it had disappeared. The combined 1676 opposition of the State Department and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was sufficient to kill the Morgenthau plan before it had got into any kind of effect, so that is no alibi for failure to deal with the problems in Germany. The Foreign Secretary must really think again.
The centre of the Debate today has, I think, been the conviction of hon. Members on all sides of the House that Germany is probably the most important problem we have today. Hon. Members have touched on the question of the Middle East and the Far East, and I hope that when the Minister of State replies he will satisfy us by dealing with the questions which have been put to him. Too often, I am afraid, in foreign affairs Debates the Government do not vouchsafe the information required, which can legitimately be demanded by the Opposition and by those who support the Government. I shall come to the problem of Germany in a minute.
I would remind the Minister that most important questions have been asked by my hon. Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) about Greece. What is the situation in Greece, and what are His Majesty's Government doing to support the fight of the Greeks against the Communist forces? Does he think, and has he good hope to think, that the campaign this summer will end in a victory for the Greek forces under General Papagos? Is there any danger that it will end, as it ended last year, in the guerillas being driven underground in many places only to reappear in the winter? If there is any danger of the Greek guerillas bobbing up again, I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not think that that will be such a blow to Greek morale that the whole situation in Greece may well be in danger.
I would also remind the Minister that my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) asked what the position is in China. What is our position with regard to representation in China? My hon. Friend asked whether it might well be wise to have an ambassador on the Communist side, because there is always a need for somebody to represent our interests. The right hon. Gentleman will also remember that he has been 1677 asked questions about the Italian Colonies, and he was asked especially a series of most important questions by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) about oil in the Middle East. Would he please answer those questions specifically?
I should like to add a question of my own. What is the position about the refinery in Haifa? Is it going to deliver oil in the near future, or does the right hon. Gentleman think that some kind of international guarantee is needed to see that the oil will not be used for warlike purposes? Will he answer that; and will he also tell us to what stage the financial negotiations in Jerusalem have reached with our representative there? What chance is there of getting the pensions paid by the Israelis, which are rightly a charge on them; and what is the position about the Israeli bank balances in this country? Which side will it fall—asset or liability? Shall we in the end owe some money, or will they owe us some money?
I should also like him to tell us what is the position about the Holy Places in Jerusalem. Where do we stand there now? If we do not take every step possible to see that the religious sentiment of the world is paid respect to as regards the Holy Places, we cannot object with sincerity or with such conviction to what is going on in Eastern Europe about the persecution of the Church. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will satisfy us about that. It is a question I feel he will be able to answer satisfactorily, but I think it would help if he made a statement of policy about it, remembering that many of the Holy Places are in Arab hands, which is one of the factors that has to be taken into consideration.
The main subject of the Debate, as I said, has been Germany. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley pointed out that the Foreign Secretary has a wonderful opportunity, with the coming meeting of the Council of Europe, to admit Germany to the Council. In that connection, many Members on both sides have drawn attention to the difficulties of Government policy in Germany at the present moment. A lot was said about dismantling. In my view the arguments are fairly evenly balanced at this moment. On the one side we have 1678 said for four years that we are going to dismantle, and on the other side we have reduced the number as a result of the Conference in Brussels, as a result of the Humphreys Committee and as a result of the Herter Committee. There is a good deal to be said for the contention, having taken a view, we ought to stick to what we say, but I think that it is out-weighed by the argument against it, that dismantling at this stage will do no good. It is purely a psychological matter. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said, these few factories, if they were capable of producing munitions in the distant future, would not matter one way or the other. But it is becoming an issue owing to the delay in carrying out the policy of dismantling.
It is the same vice of delay which is responsible for the evil effect of the policy of trying General von Manstein. In my view, it is a perfectly good argument which the right hon. Gentleman used, that it seems unjust to kill the corporals and privates who carried out the alleged orders of the general. That is a difficulty he has got into by this delay. He talks about the delay as if he had no control over it. It is "they," like the National Dock Board. He is the Government, or part of it, so why did he not say that the trial must come on earlier? Or is it some mystical body we cannot chase in the House of Commons that is responsible?
It is like the restitution of Jewish property in Germany. Do Members realise that four years after the end of the war no single piece of Jewish property has been restored in Germany? The same difficulty is going to arise there. It was only just that a statute of restitution should be passed immediately on our going into Germany, and I actually had one in draft when I left the Army, but four years later, when honest buyers have perhaps got hold of what was former Jewish property and Germany is trying to get her economy on an economic basis, restitution will cause hardship, and we shall get the same thing happening as with dismantling and General Von Manstein, namely, that it is too late to do anything because it will cause injustice.
There is, on the one side, the principle of abstract justice, that German plants which cause war should be dismantled, 1679 that German generals responsible for war crimes should be punished and Jewish property restored; on the other side, there is the dislocation and injustice which the delay of four years will cause. The Foreign Secretary has his alibis. It is, he says, all the fault of the Morgenthau plan, all the fault of unconditional surrender. I feel sure the Committee will not acquit the right hon. Gentleman of the mistakes he has made in Germany, and about which he is so touchy, on the ground of these two illusory alibis.
What can be done constructively? The constructive part is the Council of Europe. The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) made an eloquent speech in support of the movement of which he has been a member for so long. Tonight, there is an opportunity for the Minister of State to give a call to Europe to show that the British Government have had a change of heart. In life, it is a good thing to be cautious when there are so many committees and persons to be looked after, and it is difficult to go forward
The Foreign Secretary, in dealing with the Council of Europe, was oppressed with the difficulties. "We cannot discusss defence at Strasbourg," he said, "we cannot discuss politics, and we certainly cannot discuss economics because the whole situation is so delicate." The right hon. Gentleman must get away from that: he must look forward. He must say, "Here is a budding movement, full of idealism and perhaps, in some respects, unpractical, which can be worked out by full and frank discussion at Strasbourg and by the support of all the Governments concerned." It will fail if one of the chief Governments concerned does not give it their full support and if the leaders of the British delegation do not go to Strasbourg with the conviction and certainty that good will come out of their deliberations. If they do so, they will give a lead to the peoples of Europe.
We shall find that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) has started a movement in which the hope of peace, the hope of Western Union, lies. We shall find that it will not be necessary to resort to what I would call the blackmailing tactics of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman). I am, of course, not in any 1680 way speaking personally, but it is blackmail to say, "We cannot defend Europe." That is a most mischievous and dangerous idea. It is dangerous because it is encouraging the Russians to believe that Europe is free for them to take, and mischievous because it is using one of the arguments that is used in America to oppose Marshall Aid. I am sure it will not be necessary to resort to these tactics, and I am sure that neither the Foreign Secretary nor the Minister of State would wish to resort to them. I hope the Minister will deal with the speech of the hon. Member for East Coventry and give a categorical denial to the statement that it is impossible for us to defend Europe, that we must throw our hand in and leave it to the Americans to take the whole burden.
In conclusion, back again to Germany. It is at Strasbourg that there will be an opportunity to help the Germans to join the Western democratic State. I should like to get some factual information about the elections. They are on 14th August, but I was under the impression that the results would not be known until the beginning of September. If they are known earlier all the better, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would tell us as to that.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that it has been decided that at Strasbourg O.E.E.C. will be discussed, but that it is too early for any decision to be come to about Germany. That will be a most regrettable thing especially as we have the Bonn Constitution working freely, and elections taking place in Germany. This is the time to rally the Germans to the European family of nations. It is by that alone that the right hon. Gentleman can undo the harm done by his procrastination in such matters as dismantling, the German generals and, as the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) said, the rectification of frontiers. I would agree with the Foreign Secretary if he said that those matters are comparatively unimportant provided that we make a clear call to the Germans to come to Strasbourg. They would still be on trial and under control, but they will be given the opportunity, under less control and occupation to play their part in the defence of Europe and the establishment of a lasting peace.
§ 9.32 p.m.
The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil)
No one can complain of the narrowness of this Debate. I do not for a second promise that I will answer all the questions to which my attention has been directed. If I had not studied Parliamentary manners on this subject—as I have—I would have no difficulty in getting endless models of how to evade issues by studying various hon. Gentlemen opposite.
It is very tempting to pursue some of the larger subjects which have been raised. I suppose that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on all sides are never better than when they are engaged on the rollicking game of political post mortems, and I have a slight recollection of some of the Debates from which there arose the question of unconditional surrender and its consequences. I do not offer a full explanation, nor do I attempt to give a firm opinion as to all the consequences, but it is fair to say that anyone who is concerned to display the consequences which are present would be driven to make a study of the different conditions in Germany and Italy.
Both were our enemies; both were prosecuted with all the vigour possible. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) had a very intimate connection with one of these countries. It is true that theoretically we offered unconditional surrender to both, but in the one case we were able to affect terms with an administration which, partially at any rate, was able to take over. In the other case there was no administration. I am not saying who is to blame, but it is quite legitimate to say that hon. Gentlemen opposite, in attempting to assess how the job in Germany has been discharged, must take account of the facts as we found them and as any Government in this position would have found them.
Another small point which I am tempted to make is that the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. Foster) gaily dismissed the Morgenthau plan and said that it finished before he got to Washington and after the Quebec meeting. I am delighted that that was his experience, and that he had that success. I think he had no success. I remember that as late as the Moscow Conference, when Mr. Byrnes was Secretary of State, which was 1682 in 1947, the Government of the United States were still offering 5.8 million tons as their maximum ceiling for the German steel industry. That was a hangover from that Morgenthau attitude of mind.
I should attempt to deal mainly with the German proposition as it is offered. I do not want to escape from the substantial arguments which have been offered all round about the evil consequences of pursuing this policy of dismantling. As I understand the proposition, it is that whatever equity and urgency there may have been for this policy of dismantling, they have disappeared; that we have now reached the stage where, while there may be security risks in deserting the policy of dismantling, the risks of continuing it, in the shape of inflaming and exacerbating German opinion, constitute an even greater security risk.
The question of slowness has already been dealt with by my right hon. Friend. He has made the point that the decision has never rested completely in our hands and that if we have been slow in coming to decisions and implementing them—with which I would not agree—we certainly have not been the slowest of our Allies in coming to those decisions; and that, of course, decisions have to be taken in concert and not by us alone, although it is largely true that implementation rested in our hands.
It was only as recently as April of this year that we secured finality—at least I hope we have secured finality—with the United States and France, and subsequently with the I.A.R.A. Powers. Apart from pace, I am more concerned to try to deal with the substantial case that is put that this process is inflaming German opinion and is creating a security risk in itself, and is affording an opportunity to the worst elements in Germany. I suggest most earnestly to the Committee that it is unreal and improper to consider those things in isolation like that. If the issue rested only with the German people, I am sure the argument of the junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris), which was also put from my own benches, would be valid, but it is not rested exclusively in its reaction upon the German people.
We have no right at all to forget the fears and the anxieties of the people of Czechoslovakia, even if our relations are 1683 not presently as cordial as they once were, and as we would like them to be. Their fears and anxieties about Germany and about the level of German industry, and about the potentiality — [An HON. MEMBER: "Our own fears."] That is quite another point. What is true of Czechoslovakia must be for us much more true, and in relation to France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Those Powers have agreed to the latest level. They agreed reluctantly, but they did agree. The reasons for the reluctance are present and real to all of us. It would be no service if, in trying to meet this danger, which is undoubtedly present in Germany, we forfeited confidence, alienated our Allies and put our policy in doubt in the minds of the humblest people in these other countries with whom we have contact.
§ Mr. P. Thorneycroft
Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously advancing the argument that anxiety on the part of the poor people in Czechoslovakia would be an argument in favour of dismantling a factory in Germany which might make war potential and exporting the capital equipment to the other side of the iron curtain?
Certainly I am offering it. The feelings of the people of Czechoslovakia will continue to be a very real factor in any attempt to build stability in Europe. Further, we need not rest there. I am arguing that the feelings and reactions of the peoples of France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg are of even greater moment to us.
Yes, they are being tortured by the Russians, and democracy is being destroyed there, but I scarcely believe that we shall help to keep alive such flickerings of democratic spirit as there are there, by actions in Germany which might be construed by these people as a desertion of our professed obligations. As the Committee have already 1684 been reminded, the people of Czechoslovakia have had certain rueful feelings about the intentions of Governments in this country from time to time. I hope that we shall agree that we have reached finality in regard to dismantling in Germany.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
When my right hon. Friend talks about "reaching finality," does it mean that he has entirely rejected the opinion of the trade union movement in Germany, and that we are committed to an increase of unemployment among miners and steel workers in the Ruhr?
Unemployment among mine workers and steel workers would be a sad thing, and as long as we have a responsibility in Germany, it would be partly our responsibility, and we shall not seek to avoid it, but I repeat that we cannot judge these things in isolation. Trade unionists have written to my hon. Friend and he has written to us. No direct representations have been made. As my right hon. Friend has said, everyone can understand that the concern of the trade unionist in the Ruhr must be the protection of the men he represents. Our job as a Government is to try to consider our relationship to the whole of Western Europe, and we must therefore discharge our obligations as a consequence.
While I cannot give a firm figure for the prohibited industries, we hope and calculate that by about April of next year we shall be finished with the bulk of dismantling of the limited industries. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will agree that we should try to close that chapter and encourage the German people to revive their economy, which they are doing wonderfully, and to play their full rôle in the part which I hope will be afforded to them in the Council of Europe.
There were many other points with which I would like to deal. My hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) offered an engaging prospect. If I understood him aright, he considers that we do not tell the truth about Soviet Russia. I thought that was the complaint of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). We are constantly engaged in trying to display the facts as we find them in Soviet Russia and in the satellite countries. I also say 1685 to him that while we will not plunge into or commit ourselves to a policy of reciprocity at this time, we are concerned with these incidents affecting our employees and affecting British citizens, and that we are at this moment studying what effective action we could take. I do not promise that his is the most effective action—it might lead to a very long tale indeed.
§ Mr. Blackburn
May I say at once that I was not in any way trying to reproach my right hon. Friend—in fact, only recently I defended the Prime Minister in the columns of "The Times"—but would he be kind enough to enlighten us a little on this subject? Can he give us any information about forced labour in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe?
Certainly, I could give a great deal. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has done some excellent work on this subject and, indeed, only the exigencies of Parliamentary and some slight domestic business preclude him from being in Geneva just now where this subject is being discussed. Perhaps I might say that in this Debate at Geneva, we will offer irrefutable evidence about forced labour in Soviet Russia. We will offer evidence taken from Moscow itself. We will table and make available in translation the codex of the Soviet administration in relation to forced labour which will show that there are varying degrees of forced labour, including exiled forced labour. We will also show something that we have previously maintained and which is quite shocking to everyone who remotely thinks as we do, namely, that by arbitrary decree people are removed from their homes and from their jobs and committed to forced labour, or forced labour in exile, in Soviet Russia. That kind of publicity, that kind of display, we constantly try to discharge.
I have been asked a large number of questions on the Far East by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean). The situation is still confused. I cannot offer precise information about the military state. I could not even commit myself to the predictions he made and could make with much more authority as a soldier than many of us. However, I should say that we continue to maintain contact wherever that is possible. We have our Ambassador in Nanking, but we have a senior officer in Canton. The 1686 hon. Gentleman also asked me about our representatives in South-West China. We have a large number of consular officers there who are available, at all times.
I cannot pretend, however, that our attempts to make contact with the Communist authorities have been at all successful. I perhaps should say quite plainly that there is no Communist authority for all China, or even for the part of China they occupy. Further, we have not had even a formal request for recognition—not that we could accede to it in these conditions—but our attempts to effect a working relationship with their representatives have so far, and I think systematically, been rejected.
This, of course, tends to contribute towards the stagnation of trade. The position of British business in Communist China, I do not disguise, is causing considerable anxiety, and the continuance of the present conditions can only adversely affect not only our own interests, which are plain and quite honourable, but the whole economy of the Chinese people. As long as no working arrangement, which we are anxious to have, is accepted by the Chinese Communists, then distress and dislocation will continue to be visited on all sections of the Chinese community, including our own people.
I should have liked to spend a little more time dealing with another part of the territory to which the hon. Gentleman referred, South-East Asia. It is not altogether a gloomy picture, although I do not pretend that it is a satisfactory one. In all parts of that area we are still meeting the systematic attempt by the Communists to disrupt normal life, to impede economy, to impede recovery, but the ordinary peoples of these areas are having their successes.
I wish particularly to refer to Burma. As hon. Gentlemen know, we have had the great pleasure this week of meeting a representative delegation from that country, and my right hon. Friend took the opportunity of making sure that nothing which lay reasonably within our grasp and which could help them has been neglected. We have tried to understand their position and I want to take this opportunity of saying that, despite all their difficulties, despite the conflicts they have on their hands, they 1687 have made on extraordinarily good contribution towards the recovery of this area by their rice production this year, which I confess has surprised us. They have managed 767,000 tons out of their promised quota of 821,000 tons.
I should have liked also to discuss Indonesia. This is a vexed, complex and protracted story, but these months have given all sides an opportunity to display statesmanship in trying circumstances and, perhaps, in many instances involving sacrifice. I want on behalf of the Government, if it is not presumptuous, to congratulate these people on the progress they have made. We believe there is now reason to hope that the round-table conference may be held at The Hague by mid-August and I am not sure that it would be rash to say that if these three parties—because there are three, the Federalists, the Republicans and the Metropolitan Dutch—manage to work out, as we are now confident they will, a satisfactory agreement on this territory, it may have a decisive effect on the general recovery of South-East Asia.
§ Mr. F. Maclean
Can the right hon. Gentleman give information on the two specific points I raised, first, the position in regard to the "Amethyst" and, secondly, the status and position of His Majesty's Ambassador in Nanking?
I have already apologised to the hon. and gallant Member, in regard to the first point, and I could not attempt to dispose of it in the time available to me, even though I were very willing. I mean that I do not think I could add to the information which is already available to the Committee, to anyone's satisfaction. On the other point, we have a senior councillor whose office is specially designated, responsible for our communications with the Nationalist Government of China in Canton. The contact is satisfactory, the communication is regular and I do not think we could do more than we are presently doing in Canton in that respect.
§ Mr. Maclean
I am sorry to take up more of the time of the right hon. Gentleman, but what is the position of His Majesty's Ambassador in Nanking? What is he doing, to whom is he accredited, what are his functions and what privileges does he enjoy?
He is accredited to the only Government there is in China. His privileges have not been set aside by any enactment and could not be set aside by the authorities in Nanking.
I should think "enjoyment" was not the most obvious feature of life in Nanking just now, but he continues to do a job for His Majesty, whenever possible, vis-à-vis the Government to which he is accredited.
I might now hurriedly say a word about Arab refugees. I am indebted to the hon. Member who was so effusive about our efforts. We shall be asking for a further £500,000 and we hope that that will attract a similar amount in dollars from the administration of the United States. The funds of the Arab relief organisation are very low and, indeed, may run out by October. However, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has already appealed to governments which have not yet contributed, and undoubtedly the matter will be considered at the forthcoming Assembly.
I was asked a precise question about restitution by the hon. Member for Northwich, and I am indebted for it and feel rather apologetic on the subject. The restitution ordinance was published on 12th May. Tomorrow the active agency will be provided for by decree. There are two subsidiary organisations, one to deal with intestate property and, secondly, the final court of appeal, which have still to be provided for, but there is no reason why the machinery should not now operate. I also very much hope that our experience will be comparable to the experience in the American zone and that a great many settlements will be effected without using the legal machinery provided.
Finally, I should say a word about the Council of Europe. I was not too certain that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was not a little threatening, in his language—[Laughter]—I mean the Leader of the Opposition; my right hon. Friend may occasionally be provocative but is never threatening in his language. The Leader of the Opposition was a little threatening and I should say, almost in parenthesis, I think it a little unjust, as well as grossly inaccurate, for hon. and 1689 right hon. Gentlemen opposite to seek to attract to themselves the credit of this idea. I would like to direct their attention to a speech made by my right hon. Friend, I am glad to say in Scotland, about which I do not think he was too kind today. In Edinburgh in 1927, at the Trade Union Congress, my right hon. Friend moved a resolution on this subject. He is going to Strasbourg to the Committee of Ministers. He will be going there to see the embodiment of an idea which he has defended and furthered all these years. I should not want to claim any exclusive rights on that subject. It is a subject which has attracted support from all sides of the House. I hope, if I may say so without being presumptuous, because I am not certain what my relation is to this organisation, that the distinguished hon. and right hon. Members who make up this delegation will go determined to bring to this august Assembly the very best traditions of this House.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has any reason to come to that conclusion at all. He talked of reluctance and I prefer to talk about caution. If the hon. Member who closed the Debate for the Opposition is not much in favour of caution, I think it is because he happens for the time being to be on that side of the House.
Any representative Government will always display caution and this Assembly in Strasbourg, for which we all hope so much and in which no doubt a place will be prepared for Germany, a place which she will honourably fill—this Assembly will, I say from my not too slight experience of international organisations, make its reputation and power by the responsibility which it displays. And I am certain that our delegation will display that responsibility.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.