§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Birch
A few moments ago, I was about to examine the question whether an independent Germany in the circumstances of today can be considered to be a potential military menace. I think you, Sir, will agree that we have in this House a very fair ration of world strategists, and I do not want to trespass on their special preserves nor am I so clear as are some hon. Members as to what are the strategic consequences of modern weapons. However, I would say—and I think this can be said with confidence—that three considerations will be important in any future war. They are manpower, industrial power, and dispersion.
As far as manpower goes, what we have to do is to look a little into the future, because there can be no question of Germany, now largely destroyed and with its armament factories removed, making war in the immediate future. Let us look forward to the population position in 1970. In 1944, the League of Nations published a study on population trends in which it was predicted that in 1970 the population of Russia would be 251 million. If we add to that the satellite countries—I exclude from them Finland and Yugoslavia—we get a total of 356 million people. Perhaps to that figure we may have to add 400 million Chinese. As against that, the prediction of German population in 1970 is only 431 69 million. There is clearly a big margin of error in these figures, but their order is right, and, on the whole, they probably tend not to exaggerate the preponderance of Russian strength.
As far as industrial power is concerned, as we have just heard from the hon. Member for Attercliffe, Germany is still operating under great handicaps; she suffered great destruction. There can be little doubt that for the next 20 years the industrialisation and industrial progress of Russia will be far more rapid than anything that can be attempted in Germany. On the last point, that of dispersion—this consideration will be of far greater importance in a future war than it has been in the past—the industries of Russia are spread out from Leningrad to Vladivostock, and extend up and down the Urals. Any attempt to knock out the industry of Russia with atom bombs would be very difficult, whereas the industrial power of Germany, concentrated as it is in the Ruhr, would be an easy target in any form of atomic warfare.
Bearing these three considerations in mind, I cannot believe that any rational man can accept the idea that an independent—I stress the word "independent"—Germany can be a military menace in the foreseeable future. It is in this context of Germany not being a military menace that we must consider the measures we have taken, measures which were, according to the hon. Member for Attercliffe, designed to bring Germany into the Western family of nations and to win the contest for her soul. I have often said in this House that the things we have done in Germany have been morally wrong and politically disastrous, and I see no reason to take back those words. I would include in the morally wrong things we have done the policy on arrestable categories, the scale of our denazification, the treating of all regular German soldiers as militarists, and, therefore, as pariahs who ought to have their money stopped and be unemployable—something exactly opposite to what the Russians have done with Paulus and others—and many of the war criminal trials. We are still thinking up charges against some of the surviving German generals against whom up to the present no charge has been brought.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
Regarding the stopping of German officers' pensions, surely the hon. Gentleman is aware that they were highly inflated pensions under the Nazis designed to encourage militarism. When they were stopped, it was for the purpose of bringing them into line with the normal social insurance provisions.
§ Mr. Birch
What happened with regard to the pensions was that all the old German sergeant-majors and generals were put on public assistance, which I cannot think was the right thing to do, but I am now speaking of the treatment of German staff and other officers who are not pensionable, but who, because they are classed as militarists, are regarded as permanent pariahs. That is far more dangerous than ill-treating those old men. Although that was a wrong thing to do, it was not of great importance in Germany, whereas the complete crushing of a whole class of people whom the Russians are doing everything to favour is extremely dangerous. That is the point I was trying to make.
These things were morally wrong, and I think that our economic conduct has been foolish if not, in some cases, also morally wrong. The long delay in currency reform was criminal, and this absurd shifting policy with regard to factory demolition has been appalling, and not least appalling in that it gives the Germans no confidence whatever either in our good sense or integrity. It has been a continuously shifting policy the whole way through, and a particularly ludicrous policy in view of the fact that Western Germany is going to be grossly overpopulated for as long ahead as we can see. That being so, what is required is that all the factories there should be made to work.
I also think that this is a very wrong moment to start rectifying the Western frontiers of Germany. I understand that a number of rectifications in the Western frontiers of Germany are contemplated which will have the effect of putting some 100,000 or more Germans, into either Holland or Belgium. This is something which might have been done immediately after the war, but to do it at this time is, I think, idiocy. Lastly, delay in drawing up the occupation statute at a time when the Germans are trying to hammer out their own constitution is very damaging.
433 For the last one and a half years we have been engaged in a laborious undoing of many of the things we have done. The trouble is that we pull out two pins and, as soon as we have done so, always stick in another. Therefore, the net result on the German psyche is not beneficial. The only positive thing which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have done is to try to foster the Social Democrats in Germany. That has been a fairly ineffective policy, but it has given some results. The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) can, I think, claim credit for it; I understand that he was a high officer in the political division. The type of effect it has produced in Germany was illustrated by a case which happened last summer. A German was arrested and put into prison for insulting British women while bathing. His defence was, "You cannot do this to me; I am a Socialist." That, I think, is a great tribute to the work done by the hon. Member for Edmonton. However, I do not think it has done us much good, and I feel it to be fundamentally absurd to suppose that we can attach the Germans to the Western cause by supporting a party which is both orthodox Marxist and atheist.
§ Mr. Albu (Edmonton)
Would not the hon. Gentleman recognise that the work that we did, for instance in Berlin, was extremely successful? In fact, it was the first real resistance to the Communist pressure which was coming from the East, and that was done by and with the Democratic Party in Berlin.
§ Mr. Birch
All I am saying is that the hon. Gentleman has done what he was sent out to do, and he produced some very remarkable results. I believe that we should have acted very differently in Germany if from the outset the mind of the Government had been clear about what they were trying to do—if they had been clear that Germany is not an immediate military menace, that Russia is a military menace, and that Germany and Russia combined are a terrible military menace. If we had been clear on those points, I do not believe that our policy in Western Germany would have been as clumsy and foolish as in fact it has been. I hope that we shall now try to heal the wounds, that we shall try to bring the Germans into Western Union as both the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) and 434 my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley have urged, and that we shall stop sticking pins into them all the time.
It may be said—and very understandably from those who have suffered—that we are offering to the Germans rewards proportionate to their crimes, and I do not deny the crimes of the Germans. Nor do I believe that they have undergone any change of heart. I have no false sentiment upon that matter at all, but because they have committed crimes and because they are quite capable of committing crimes again, there is no reason why we should act wrongly or foolishly. I profoundly believe that charity, good sense and interest all pull in the same direction, and that direction is the welcoming of Germany into Western Union and a building up of her economy.
I appreciate that this is unpleasant to the French, and I further realise that they are intensely sensitive to any idea of re-arming the Germans. I do not suggest re-arming the Germans. The only thing which I think we should consider is that we should not allow a paramilitary force under General von Paulus to be built up in Eastern Germany without saying "If you build up a paramilitary force in Eastern Germany we shall do so in Western Germany." If we do not react to the re-arming of the East Germans we shall be putting a card into the hands of the Russians which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley said, they will certainly play. If the Russians are going to arm the Germans to some extent, there is no reason why we should not do so, but I certainly should not suggest anything further than a parallel force to anything which the Russians set up.
I hope that we shall hear from the Foreign Secretary some indication that he really has cleared his mind on this subject, and that he is coming down on the right side. So far, he has not cleared his mind on the subject, and whenever he has spoken on the subject of Germany he has always come down on the wrong side. I have always felt of the right hon. Gentleman that words could be applied to him which were applied to a French statesman in the reign of the third Napoleon, that there is nobody who thinks more deeply about nothing. We see the right hon. Gentleman cogitating on the Front Bench, and very nearly 435 nothing comes out of it. What we have been doing all this time is dithering between two different policies. I will conclude with the words of Tacitus:A middle course is the worst of all policies in times of doubt.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Albu (Edmonton)
I cannot entirely follow the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch), although I agree with a good deal of what he has said. In particular I think it would be extremely dangerous at present and, as the hon. Member himself admitted, in the present state of the German mind, to start arming the German people again even if only for the purpose of the defence of Western Europe against Communism. He himself admitted that very little change has taken place in the state of the German mind, and I am afraid that all reports at present confirm that belief. I cannot entirely support my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) in his attitude towards this problem. In a recent article by an intelligent and able writer in a Hamburg newspaper there was a very interesting and serious discussion as to why the Germans were unpopular. Every sort of reason was given, including the reason that they lacked ease and social charm. The only reason which was not given was the fact that some of them in the past few years had murdered between 11 and 13 million of their fellow Europeans. We cannot escape from these facts, and there is a serious danger that the Germans themselves are escaping from recognising the real causes of their unpopularity in Europe.
We have to recognise that the French, Dutch, Belgian and other European nations have some justification for their suspicions and doubts. The policy which my right hon. Friend has pursued, therefore, is not quite so simple as the hon. Gentleman seemed to think. However, I believe that we have now come to a point where there are very serious dangers if we continue to delay in the setting up of a Western German Government. I realise that these delays arise out of disagreements between the Western occupying Powers over their treatment of Germany, and these differences are not the same as the differences which we have with the Russians in Berlin; in my opinion, those differences relate not so 436 much to Germany as to the general international field.
I do not want to speak of Berlin, but I would like to pay my tribute to the work of those in Berlin, particularly to that of our Military Governor, who for four years has really been in the front line of diplomacy, especially in relation to the Russians. Reference has been made to the part which I have played in Berlin, and I want to say that our Control Commission in Berlin, and our Military Governor in particular, have regarded their job as a real mission for peace. They have thought of themselves doing a job in which it was possible to have some common agreement and cooperation and in which it might be possible for all to work together. We know that it is not through our fault that that has not been possible. The strain under which the senior members of the Commission must have been living, especially during the last few months, merits a tribute from this House, and we should also recognise that the much maligned Control Commission, faced with a difficult problem in Berlin, have come out of it extremely well.
I believe that the attention to diplomacy in the early days of the occupation meant that a good many of the details of administration and of social and political developments in our zone received less attention than they deserve. The truth is—and the blame does not only rest with the present Government—that we started the occupation with practically no positive social policy. Each occupying Power tried to introduce its own ideas of political administration, and many of these were 50 or 100 years out of date in their own countries. In the very early days some people with little experience of local government tried to introduce a system of local government which was already out of date in England, while the Americans were introducing a system on the same lines almost starting with a town meeting. To be quite fair, my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe made some considerable improvements, and I think that some of these changes are bearing fruit. After all, when he was in office conditions were very difficult indeed. We never knew week by week whether there would be enough wheat for even the extremely low ration on which the German people were being fed. There was no Marshall Aid in those 437 days, nor was there the present development of Western Union. Some of the changes made at that time have been extremely beneficial.
A great change has come over the situation, of course, since the currency reform which, I agree with the hon. Member for Flint, was very much delayed. We have now a considerable economic recovery. I believe the hon. Member for Flint perhaps underestimated the extent of that economic recovery. Something like 80 to 90 per cent. of the 1936 production is already taking place and something like 8 million to 9 million tons of steel are being produced. This has brought with it a considerable growth of self-confidence among leading German politicians, business men, and administrators.
I do not believe it is possible to continue to treat the German authorities as if they were under tutelage or to continue the pettifogging interference which was evident in the replies to Questions put to the Foreign Secretary by my hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Bramall) on Monday. The Germans have to learn in their administration to make their own mistakes. It is no good us attempting any longer to think—and I am not at all sure that it was ever possible—that we could create by our occupying forces democracy in our image in another country. Nor do I believe it right—and whether it is right or not it is certainly not expedient or possible in the long run—to impose the details of the basic law of the German constitution which the elected German representatives are being asked to work out at Bonn and which the German people will be asked freely to accept. After all, government and administration rests on the authority either of force or free acceptance. I do not think we are intending to use force to carry out German laws and it is obviously right, if the Germans are to govern themselves through their representatives, that their taws are freely accepted.
But we must realise that our representatives are not the main offenders in this matter. The French, with their very great and natural anxiety, have tried to press a policy of extreme decentralisation while the Americans, frequently advised or represented by university teachers of constitutional law, see democracy only in States' rights. I ask the Government to recognise that in France, at any rate, the 438 extreme decentralisation position is not of the moderates but of reaction and very often extreme reaction. The extreme decentralisation position is Gaullist. It has been disowned by Socialists and other more sensible men of the M.R.P. I wonder whether the officials of the Economic Co-operation Administration in Europe, who understand the need for planning, support a constitution which is designed to perpetuate the economics of laissez faire.
On this matter the instructions of the military governors are confusing. In reply to a Question put by myself on Monday a very long-winded and extremely unclear statement of the position was given by the Under-Secretary of State. I asked a question about who would have the power under the new constitution and the new instructions given by military governors to legislate on the ownership and control of industry. The reply indicated that it would depend on the circumstances. The actual words were:Under the terms of the Memorandum it would therefore depend upon the circumstances of each case whether the Land or Federal Government is competent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1949; Vol. 463, c. 3.]Even in the actual Memorandum of the military governors the number of items which come under their instruction are very large indeed, including economy, trades, commerce, banking, stock exchange and so on—26 items in all. When I asked my hon. Friend who would be the arbiter in this matter he rather hesitatingly replied that it would be the Federal Government, but of course the whole essense of a federal system is that there is a contract between the central Government and the States and this must always in that case rest with some constitutional authority, in this case presumably a constitutional court. However the Germans wish to legislate on these matters, the final decision will be made by the judges, and we remember Roosevelt and the nine old men. Are we trying to impose a German constitution whereby they are never able to carry out necessary legislation and must always rely upon the decision of the judges? It must lead to delay and give rise to suspicion that it is meant to ensure that the Germans never have power to bring under their own popular, democratic control the basic industries of their country.
439 It is sometimes argued that decentralisation is a defence against Communism but I ask the House, what would be the position of Communism in Germany if a free vote were taken throughout Germany, West and East? The Communists would not get 5 per cent. of the votes. In those circumstances, the danger of Communism in Germany is very small indeed. Of course, if government is made impossible, if by constitution it is not possible to carry out government, desperate men will arise with the desire to force the unity of the country and they will make appeals of every sort—every sort of demagogic appeal—for the unification of their country. There is always the danger that the Communists may follow Hitler in trying to capture Germany state by state, starting with the states which border on the Western zones.
The present situation, with this inability to legislate or the doubt about the future possibility of being able to legislate on these matters, can only help those industrialists and business men who have been made immensely wealthy because of their ownership of real assets at the time of the currency reform. They are displaying a lamentable lack of social feeling at the present time which makes one doubt the German attitude to Germans. The demonstration of wealth and display which, I am told, exists in the industrial towns—the black market restaurants, the expensive shops—while, as some hon. Members have said, many Germans are living in terrible conditions of housing and even of possibility of food shortage, is something which is to be deplored.
Not only that, but these industrialists are resisting the perfectly just and right demands of the German trade unions for a share in economic policy. The power of the trade unions, unlike that of the industrialists, has been very much reduced because at the time of the currency reform, as they owned no real assets but only cash or securities, their funds were reduced by nine tenths. They are, in fact, one of the most stable and democratically based forces in Germany today and for this a great deal of credit must go to the Manpower Division of the Control Commission and particularly to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign affairs who, when he was at the Ministry of Labour, sent a very fine team of officials from that Department. If there is one 440 criticism it is that they lack some political understanding. They lost the trade unions in Berlin—there has been some recovery since then—because they did not understand the political importance of the trade unions.
I still doubt whether our officials in Germany understand the importance of backing the trade unions at the present time. I should like to see the trade unions in Germany pressing their demands for a greater share in the economic control in the Western zones and should certainly like a message to go, at any rate from these benches in this House, to the trade unions in that sense, because I believe they are the greatest force, the greatest security, which we have for a democratic development—a far greater security than the political parties.
Meanwhile, I think the time has come when we should draw a line under the account in Germany. All the past is not lost, but a new period has undoubtedly opened. The Germans must be allowed to set up a Government with reasonable possibilities of legislating on economic matters, with reasonable economic powers. I believe that the Control Commission and its personnel should be greatly reduced and a small permanent staff left. I should not like to see the present Military Governor go but I should certainly like to see a considerable reduction of the officials of Frankfort and an amalgamation of the officials of the regions and of the present intelligence staffs who often seem to be duplicating the same job. We must keep the Military Security Board and the Ruhr Control. I agree with hon. Members that we have to have a German Government set up which can be made to face its own problems, to face its own people and to take responsibility for its own development. They must be brought into the European planing organisation.
I do not believe they understand the difficulties and I believe they are escaping the difficulties because of the aid they are receiving. I should like that aid to be fixed, finite. I should like to see them take and made to take responsibility for their own affairs. If this is not done and if they are not brought into the European Co-operation Organisation, we shall in a short time have uncontrolled competition from German industrialists backed by American capital. 441 There are two ways of dealing with these people. We can either bring them integrally into the European economy and plan the economy of our own country so that it is complementary to theirs, or we can try to suppress Germany, which was the Morgenthau Plan. If we do that we shall only produce a Germany of unscrupulous men who will take advantage of the poverty-stricken condition of their country.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
Some interesting speeches have been made on both sides of the House on this great subject. I think it is important for those of us who sincerely believe that it is a question of our survival, and the survival of European civilisation, neither to exaggerate nor to minimise the points on which we differ from the Government. There is a good deal in the speeches from time to time made by the Minister of State and by the Foreign Secretary with which I agree. I hope that they will not think the sincerity of that statement less if I make it clear that there are some points on which I disagree.
The "cold war" is an expression that comes from the other side of the Atlantic, and, like many expressions that come from the other side of the Atlantic, it has come into general use without being, perhaps, a very happy expression. There are three things which I would say about the cold war. The first is that very definitely it is a war. On that I do not pray in aid anything said by any Conservative statesman. It is sufficient to mention three considered statements by Ministers—the speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 15th September last year, the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 1st November, 1948, and the statement made at the end of Questions by the Minister of State exactly a week ago. Nobody who studies any of those statements has any doubts that we are at war.
The second point I want to bring home is that it is by no means cold. Our planters who are being murdered in Malaya do not find it a very cold war. The Greek peasants whose villages are being burned and whose children are being carried into captivity do not find it very cold. The third proposition that I would make about the cold war is, I 442 think, the only one on which there can be controversy. I only give my own sincere opinion. It is that at the present stage all the evidence is that civilisation is losing the cold war.
§ Mr. Strauss
I shall deal with the hon. Member for West Fyfe (Mr. Gallacher) in one moment. I say that the evidence is that civilisation is losing the cold war. I believe it to be of vital importance for all who care for our civilisation to try to make the facts clear and to do everything possible to diminish public misunderstanding.
Let me give an example of public misunderstanding. One would think from reading many newspapers and from hearing many utterances by the B.B.C. that the great air lift represented an Anglo-American triumph and a Russian failure. I believe that nothing could be further from the truth. Let me say at once that I agree with what I believe to be the sentiment of every other Member of this House, that we should pay tribute to the magnificent achievement of the airmen who are making that great enterprise possible; but do not let us forget for one moment that the Russians, without a shadow of legality, and without spending one penny, are putting civilisation to a constant and enormous economic loss. Let me quote, to express my agreement with it, the description of this air lift made by the Leader of the Opposition in a speech outside this House, when he said this:It is like a contest in endurance between two men, one of whom sits quietly grinning in his armchair, while the other stands on his head hour after hour in order to show him how much he is in earnest.Another misunderstanding which I believe to be a great misunderstanding is that the risk generally spoken of, when people talk of the cold war, is the risk that it may one day turn into what the Americans call a "shooting war." That is, indeed, a risk; that is a great risk; but it is not the only risk, and it is not, perhaps, the most probable risk. The other risk is that European civilisation may go down without the enemies of that civilisation even having to fight.
Since the hon. Member for West Fife interrupted me a short time ago and I 443 promised to deal with him, I should like to quote an authority that even he will accept, and that is the authority of Lenin. Lenin gave advice to the hon. Member for West Fife as to why he should enter this House. The hon. Member for West Fife had written a letter to a paper which, believe it or not, was called "The Worker's Dreadnought," in which he advocated having nothing to do with Parliamentarianism. The great Lenin found the hon. Member—he was not then a Member of this House—in many ways an apt pupil, but he thought he had gone very wrong on that point, and this is what Lenin said:The writer of this letter does not raise the question—does not think of raising the question—as to whether it is possible to bring about the victory of the Soviets over Parliament without getting our Soviet politicians into Parliament, without disrupting parliamentarianism from within, without preparing the ground within Parliament for the success of the Soviets' forthcoming task of dispersing Parliament.
§ Mr. Gallacher
All right, I will. May I ask the hon. and learned Member whether somebody provided him with that quotation, or whether he has read the book? If he has not read the book, I hope he will read it. It will do him a whole lot of good.
§ Mr. Strauss
I can assure the hon. Member that I have certainly read the book. I have advised many others to read the book. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Gallacher
On a point of Order. If the hon. and learned Member is courteous enough to give way to me so that I may ask him a question, and if he is courteous enough to reply, cannot right hon. Gentlemen behave themselves?
§ Mr. Speaker
The noble Lord is forgetting himself. He must not say that an hon. Member is a traitor. He must withdraw that remark.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Whether the noble Lord intended the word "traitor" to be unqualified, as he first used it, or whether 444 he now intends it to be qualified in the sense that he has indicated, is it not equally out of Order?
§ Earl Winterton
I persist in the statement that any member of the Communist Party must necessarily be a traitor to Parliamentarianism.
§ Mr. Strauss
Having read out Lenin's advice to the hon. Member I naturally gave way when he wished to interrupt, but I would assure him that I read the sacred documents of Communism myself and in every speech which I make in the country I urge others to do likewise.
I now come to the first point on which I differ from His Majesty's Government. In the speech of the Foreign Secretary of last September, to which I have alluded, the Foreign Secretary made it perfectly clear that he had known all along that in one place after another the Soviet Government were stirring up civil war as an instrument of policy. That act of stirring up civil war in other countries as an instrument of policy is a direct breach of an express term of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance. I suggest that when the Foreign Secretary knew that that treaty was being broken constantly in this way, it would have been better if he had complained of the breach, instead of doing as he did, namely, offering an extension of the life of the treaty which was being broken. I think that it is very difficult to hope that the Kremlin will treat this country seriously when the reward which they get for breaking a treaty is an offer to extend its life.
I think that if our civilisation is to be saved, we must study Communism and know what it is after. Let me give an example of the attitude of "Let's pretend," which I think is very significant. I think that perhaps some hon. Members opposite, when I have given the example, may agree with me. Many will have studied some of the documents which in the last few months have been put out by the T.U.C. on this subject. In one of the earliest of these statements, they said that "the pretended dissolution"—that is, the dissolution of the Comintern—"is now known to have been a mere device." The pretended dissolution took place in May, 1943, and the Cominform was established in October, 1947. The 445 T.U.C. say that the pretended dissolution is now known to have been a mere device. I say that it was always known to be a mere device by every student of Communism.
If the House will allow me, I should like to remind them of the signatories of the resolution of dissolution, and then remind them of what happened to the gentlemen afterwards and their subsequent or present positions: Togliatti, the chairman of the Italian Communist Party; Dimitrov, the tyrant of Bulgaria; Gottwald, the President of Czechoslovakia; Zhdanov, recently deceased, the Secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party and a member of the Supreme Soviet; Thorez and Marty, of the French Communist Party; Pieck, Secretary-General of the German Communist Party and unofficial President of the Soviet zone of Germany; Anna Pauker, the tyrant of Roumania; and Rakosi, Secretary-General of the Hungarian Communist Party. I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in all quarters: is it not absolutely obvious that what these gentlemen and this lady were doing in 1943 was proceeding or preparing to proceed to their action stations?
I say that there is no excuse whatever for pretending that we do not know what the Communists are after, because we can discover what they are after by two independent methods, both of which give us the same result. The first method of finding out what they are after is by reading the sacred books of this dogmatic secular religion and seeing what it is that they say that they are after, and then doing them the honour of believing that they are sincere. The quotations which I shall give will not be many. They are all from Stalin's "Problems of Leninism," not an English translation made in England or America, but the English translation published in Moscow, and dated 1947. There are three propositions which I would ask the House to bear in mind, each of which I will prove with a single quotation, as I know that there are many other hon. Members who wish to speak.
The first is the well-known fact that in the view of the Communists—a view no doubt sincerely held—every State not yet captured by Communism and, therefore, in their view a capitalist State, is destined to collapse in violence and in 446 prolonged violence. In some of these quotations, Stalin is quoting statements already made by either Marx or Lenin, and the one which I am now about to give is one from Lenin, which Stalin has frequently quoted with approval:We are living not merely in a State hut in a system of States, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist States for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. And before that end supervenes a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States will be inevitable.The second proposition is that Russia constitutes the base for revolution in all other countries:The world significance of the October Revolution lies not only in that it constitutes a great start made by one country in causing a breach in the system of imperialism and that it is the first centre of Socialism in the ocean of imperialist countries, but also in that it constitutes the first stage of the world revolution and a mighty base for its further development.The third proposition is the fundamental importance of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In case any Member should be in any doubt whatever as to what is meant by this, let me give this final quotation from the sacred writings:The scientific concept of dictatorship means nothing more nor less than unrestricted power, absolutely unimpeded by laws or regulations and resting directly upon force Dictatorship means … unlimited power, based on force and not on law.These are a few of the bloodthirsty doctrines that the Bishop of Birmingham apparently believes to have been held by our Lord's disciples. That is the first method of finding out what the Communists are after—by reading what they say they are after and believing them. I say further that it is quite as dangerous to suppose that Stalin does not mean what he has written as it was to make the same mistake about Hitler.
§ Mr. Strauss
But there is a second and independent method of finding out what the Communists are after, and that is by observing what for years they have been doing, and then applying the simple but wise doctrine of the English common law, that men are presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions. If throughout the world, 447 in every country not yet under Communist domination, we find the Communists working against established authority, working to prevent economic recovery, and working to produce economic chaos, and, where possible, starvation, if that is found to be the effect of their action, we may be quite certain that it is also their purpose.
Now, if these things are true, what is the reason why this menace is not universally recognised? The reason is the continuing prevalence of three or four quite simple errors. The first error is this: that Communist success has anything whatever to do with its winning popular support. It has nothing to do with it. The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) said that not more than 5 per cent. of the Germans are Communists, and that therefore they are no danger. I do not suppose they are more than 5 per cent, in many of the countries they now rule. Why is it that Comrade Pollitt and Comrade Homer are not Members of this House? There is one reason and one reason only: Whenever either of them has stood for election the electors were allowed to vote for somebody else. They, of course, would do away with all that nonsense and establish the principle that they have in Russia and Eastern Europe, where no one is allowed to stand unless he is a member of the Communist Party or belongs to a party of fellow-travellers agreed with the Communists in advance.
I wonder if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have read the interesting correspondence that recently passed between Stalin and Tito? If so, I recommend to them either the last or the penultimate letter from Stalin. I have not got the exact words, but I think I am summarising it fairly—and if I am not I can no doubt be corrected. He said: "The Yugoslav Communists are really intolerably conceited. They seem to think that because they have been successful that means they have some merit. They seem to think that they are more meritorious than the Italian Communists and the French Communists. On the contrary," says Stalin, "they are not nearly so good; they have merely had more luck. The Red Army was able to operate in Yugoslavia, but had not been able to operate so far in France and 448 Italy." I am bound to say that I thought Mr. Stalin put the point very fairly.
The second of the great errors is this: that the people who matter are those who call themselves Communists. Let me assure the House of what is indeed obvious to it already, that those who call themselves Communists are very often those who could not be a danger to anybody, with the possible exception of their friends. They, let me assure the House, are not the danger. Those who are dangerous are those who are Communists but call themselves something else. If any hon. Members want support for that, let them study the Blue Book of the Canadian Royal Commission of 1946, where they will find, in passage after passage, the director writing from Moscow saying to his agent in Canada: "So-and-so proposed as an agent is useless for our purpose because he is already known to be 'a Red.'"
The third of the great errors is that political action is more important than economic sabotage. It is not. In this country the Communists are not even seeking to enter this House or local councils in great numbers. What they are seeking, and what they are obtaining, is the capture of key positions. I wonder how many hon. Members have thought what an extraordinary position it is in which the Foreign Secretary says, again and again, to the miners, "If you will increase the output of coal you will greatly strengthen my foreign policy," while the chief miners' leader is a member of the Communist Party whose daily organ says, with perfect truth, that its principal object is to smash the Foreign Secretary's foreign policy?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Would the hon. Gentleman also mention that the two leading officials in Scotland are members of the Communist Party; and would he also say where the best results in coal production come from?
§ Mr. Strauss
If I were making a speech on coal I might deal with all those things, but I agree that there are Communists among the miners' leaders in Scotland. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about that.
I must now come, if I may, to what I consider a very important point indeed, and one on which, although abroad the truth is generally recognised, in England 449 and the United States there is still widespread error. It is still supposed, quite erroneously, that Communism is a sort of disease of poor, uneducated men. It is nothing of the sort. I do not believe there is any hon. Member in any quarter of the House who has the least difficulty in forgiving an honest trade union worker attracted by a man whom he believes to be an efficient trade union leader into taking a view of Communism which is not the true view. It is not those men or their appetites that are threatening our civilisation.
The formidable Communists in this country, as elsewhere, are the educated, the well off, the prosperous. Not very long ago, last year, there was a Congress of Intellectuals held in a Communist country. It is difficult to imagine self-respecting men going to a congress with such a label. Perhaps as a university Member and one concerned with education I may give a short definition of an intellectual. An intellectual is a man educated beyond his intelligence; and the intellectuals who flock to these conferences of intellectuals in Communist countries are men who entertain a view of their own intelligence which is shared by nobody else, with the possible exception of the B.B.C. If our civilisation goes down it will go down through the treason of the learned—to give the famous name of a book published in 1927 by Julien Benda, "La trahison des clercs." It is that which is threatening the survival of our civilisation. I want to point out to the House that there is no reason for believing that time is on our side. I am not going into any discussion of weapons or anything of that kind in making that statement. I ask the House to consider two things. The first is what is happening on our side of the Iron Curtain, where the Communists have the much easier job of destruction compared with their opponents' job of construction. More important even than that is what is happening on the other side of the Iron Curtain. There something is happening without any precedent in history, and that is the second consideration. The Communists have discovered how it is possible to murder whole nations by liquidating, in their elegant phrase, all those whom they consider capable of leadership; by indulging in what they call "social 450 engineering," they can wipe out independent nations as they have already wiped out the Baltic States.
I believe that today there is a good deal of agreement outside the ranks of the Communists and fellow-travellers about the nature of this menace. Let us have a little realism. I was sorry to see that the Foreign Secretary, in a speech in his new constituency, said:I have no quarrel at all with the Communist system in Russia. If that is what they like it is their business, not mine.I regret to say that those seemed to me rather heartless words. Of course, if he had said that we could do nothing about it everyone would agree, but he was speaking of a system which dooms millions of men to slavery in which their lives are nasty, brutish and short. The Minister of State quoted what a Russian lady had recently said in this country, when she spoke of the threatened fate of the minority. But the greatest error in the whole statement was the supposition that the Communists were a majority. They are a tiny minority even in Russia. The greatest error of all, as great an error in morals as it is an error in intelligence, is to suppose that the Russians will stand on their present lines. They will certainly either advance or retreat. We have no right whatever to consider as permanent every advance the Communists have hitherto made.
The last point I wish to put to the House—and I thank Members for the patience with which they have listened to what I hope they realise is a serious speech—is the implications of some of the arguments that hon. Members opposite are sometimes tempted to put forward. I notice that, in the fairly recent past, not less than three Ministers, the Leader of the House, the Minister of State speaking at the United Nations, and the Minister of National Insurance, the present Chairman of the Labour Party, have all used the same argument. They have said how badly the Russians are behaving and how ungrateful it is of them considering what the present Foreign Secretary did for them in the 1920's.
I beg the House to examine the implications of that argument. If it is a true claim, it means they are asserting that the present Foreign Secretary was able by industrial action in the 1920's 451 to thwart the will of a Government responsible to an elected House of Commons. If that was right in the 1920's, on what principle do they complain when Comrade Horner and Comrade Pollitt propose to do the same thing today? It is not an argument that can be put by democratic leaders to a democracy. It is the argument that says: "If we win the General Election we will govern through Parliament, more or less, but if you elect the wicked Tories then we shall seek by industrial action to see that your votes are rendered useless." I ask Members, if they are opposed to Communism, to beware of this argument that strengthens the Communist case.
I say that two things are absolutely vital if European civilisation is to survive. The first is that the armed strength of the Communists must be matched by the armed strength of the free, and the second is that the faith of Communism must be matched by belief in the free society.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
It would be very difficult for me in the short time I intend to take up to follow the long line of arguments of the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). As it happens, I have already dealt with all his arguments. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has in his pocket a Penguin—"The Case for Communism"—and I will send a copy to the hon. and learned Member.
§ Mr. Gallacher
If the hon. and learned Member has a copy, why did he not tell the House that I have already dealt with every one of his arguments in that Penguin? In order to avoid any misunderstanding, although I dealt with these arguments in the text of the book, I put them down in a series of simple questions with the answers at the end of the book, and they are there for all to see. We now come back to the original discussion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) in a very lugubrious but bellicose speech, talked about how the hand of friendship had been held out to the Soviet Union during the past three years—how kind we were and how generous, and how the hand of friendship was rebuffed. He then jumped 452 back suddenly to the speech at Fulton, when he was quickly taken up by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). Was that the hand of friendship?
We can go further back than that. Before the war, under the Tory Government there was a deliberate policy of building up a Four-Power pact and war against the Soviet Union. Will any Member deny that? Does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley remember that after the present Leader of the Opposition from his seat below the Gangway opposed the war policy of the then Prime Minister the Tories hooted him out of the House? They then formed a guard of honour through which the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, passed on his way out. The Opposition hooted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) out of the House because he was opposing the war policy of the then Prime Minister. Mr. Chamberlain was working for a four-Power Pact between Britain, Germany, Italy and France. We heard it said many times that when we got a four-Power Pact we should be able to deal with Russia. In the face of such a situation was it not a desirable policy that Russia should agree to a non-aggression pact with Germany, to break up the possibility of such a combination against herself? There was nothing wrong with that. There was no treaty with Hitler which affected any other nation; there was merely a non-aggression pact to break up the possibility of that combination.
The present Leader of the Opposition, when Prime Minister, said, after the "phoney" war, and the whole of Europe was occupied by Hitler, that we would fight in the streets and on the beaches and, if necessary, from our great Dominions. He and the Government were getting ready to leave the country. Why was it that they did not have to leave the country?
§ Mr. Gallacher
All in good time. In August, 1940, Hitler invited Molotov to go to Berlin. If I had known the line which this Debate was to take I would have brought with me a quotation from 453 "The Times." Hitler tried to get a treaty with Molotov at that time, but Molotov refused to make a concession of any kind to Hitler. What happened? Instead of the mighty German war machine being concentrated across the Channel and being directed against Britain it was steadily built up in the East, to be used against Russia. That is what saved the Government of this country from having to leave Britain and go to our great Dominions across the seas—[Laughter]. Yes, I am giving the House some history. In the Ardennes, when the Germans broke through, General Eisenhower got into touch with the then Prime Minister, and drew attention to the very dangerous situation facing British troops. With whom did the Prime Minister get into touch? He sent a cable to Joseph Stalin, drawing his attention to the danger in the Ardennes, and asking what action he could take to relieve the position. This was at the beginning of 1945. Stalin sent a cable back to say that the weather was against an offensive, that it was impossible for aircraft and artillery to spot targets, but that in view of the difficulties of his Allies he would launch an all-out offensive to engage the forces which Hitler then had at his disposal. What happened then? The Prime Minister sent a cable to Stalin, thanking him in the name of His Majesty the King, the Government, and in his own name, for the magnificent work of the Red Army and the great service it had rendered to the Allies.
It was in 1946, at Fulton, Missouri, that, in line with the big capitalists of America, the Leader of the Opposition declared for war against the working-class of Europe. Where was the hand of friendship in that, after all the services which the Russians rendered? No, let us have no more of this miserable hypocrisy, that the Tories, the capitalists of this country, and those in America, have ever held out the hand of friendship to the people of the Soviet Union.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) has said today that the Leader of the Opposition, in making the arrangements that he did with the Americans for the establishment of four-Power control in Berlin, showed that our intentions towards Russia were nothing but peaceful. The exact opposite is the case. The fact that the Russians agreed, without the slightest demur, to Britain, 454 America and France having military forces in the heart of the Soviet zone is an indication that Russia had nothing but peaceful intentions when the war was over. If Russia had had any of the designs that are talked about, if she had not been desirous for peace, one thing she would not have wanted would have been to have had military forces of other Powers in the heart of her zone in Germany. It should be noted that the U.N.O. Mediation Committee made it clear that their proposals would have brought the difficult situation in Berlin to an end. The Soviet Union accepted their proposals and, in the first instance, we accepted them. But then America rejected them, and Britain fell into line with America.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I think this is an important part of my hon. Friend's speech, and I hope he will complete his story. If I have read the papers correctly, it was not only Great Britain who agreed to the proposals but France, too, so that the proposals really came to nothing as a result of a United States veto.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Yes, I should have mentioned France as well. Acceptance of the Committee's report would have cleared up the situation in Berlin—four-Power control over currency, the lifting of the ban, and all the rest of it. Britain and France accepted, then America refused and, later, Britain and France fell into line. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) kept telling us to look at the map. I wish people would look at the map and see to where the American capitalists have got. They are in Iceland, round Greenland, down in the South Seas and across the oceans, up to the Aleutians. There is no part of the world where the American capitalists have not got bases. The American capitalists are not concerned with the British people or with the British workers. In this country we are producing and exporting more than we have ever done. Where are the proceeds going? They are going to big American capitalists.
The other day the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food told the House that we had refused to pay excessive prices to the Argentine for meat and we had also refused to pay in dollars. We are paying excessive prices and in dollars to America. All the extra 455 labour and toil of the British worker and all the fight for exports which is going on in this country is in order to put bigger profits into the hands of the American capitalists.
§ Mr. Hollis (Devizes)
Could the hon. Member tell the House whether he voted for or against the American loan?
§ Mr. Gallacher
I voted for it. I have no objections to this or any other country negotiating a loan. That has nothing to do with the question I am talking about. I am quite sure that Lenin, Stalin, Dimitrov or any of those others would be quite prepared to negotiate a loan with America under given conditions. Why not? But that has got nothing to do with the facts which I am presenting. There would be no need for Marshall Aid if the Americans stopped fleecing this country through high prices and dollar payments. Why does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food declare that we will not submit to dollar payments or excessive prices from the Argentine and yet we are making dollar payments and paying excessive prices to America?
§ Mr. Gallacher
America has spread herself all over the place. The Americans are interested only in maintaining capitalism and the profits of capitalism. A statement was issued by Washington on the Atlantic Pact, in which it was stated that any nation or any association of nations dominating Europe and against the interests of America could not be tolerated. That is all that the Pact is for. That means that there could not be an association of Socialist nations in Europe. Such an association is the biggest menace with which America could be faced, for that would finish capitalism in America. American capitalists are determined that there will not be an association of Socialist nations in Europe.
The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) said, in reply to a question I put to him arising out of his talk about class policy, as to how it was that the Socialists were associated with the big multi-millionaires of America, that we have to fit our economy into that of those who will co-operate with us. Very 456 good, but let us see what that means. In 1946 the Foreign Secretary in this House made a declaration—nobody asked him to make it—outlining Government policy and he asserted that we were going to nationalise the industries in the British zone of Germany. I ask any Member on this side of the House to tell me what would have happened if that policy had been carried through and the industries in the British zone had been nationalised. There would have been co-operation with the Soviet zone and non co-operation with the American capitalists. In the American, British and French zones there is capitalism rude, rough and glaring.
The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) described the wealth as well as the poverty that there is in Germany in the industrial areas, but the same wealth is manifest in America and even worse is the poverty, for there are 15 million coloured citizens in America and five or six million poor whites. They are down right at the bottom of the economic scale with no rights of any kind, not even the right to vote.
The hon. Member for Lancaster was very anxious that we should send an army to Greece while there is something left to save. There has been talk in this Debate of the Communists being only 5 per cent. in Germany and in other countries. I ask any hon. Member who knows anything about the character of the struggle by the partisans in Greece whether only a handful of Greek people support them. It is no easy job for them. They endure hardship and suffering of the most appalling character, and opposed to them are a Government supported by America and Britain and financed with millions and millions of dollars. It is impossible to argue that the partisan Greek Democratic Government, only represent 5 per cent. of the people. The Member for Lancaster, who knows all about the Balkans, says we have to get in while there is anything worth saving. It never was possible and it would never have been possible for the Irish Republican Army to carry on the fight against the British Forces but for the fact that the mass of the people were sympathetic to them. In the same way it would be utterly impossible for the partisans and Greek Democratic Government to carry on the struggle 457 against a Government backed by America and Britain unless the mass of the people were sympathetic towards it.
Let us remember the terrible toll of executions. The hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities had the temerity to talk about the Communists and the murdering nations. "Murdering nations" is an easy phrase, but it can be quite meaningless. There is no question about the Greeks and the wholesale murderings of individuals. Mention was made of the changes that took place in the conduct of Members who went from the Front Bench to the back benches, but the change is nothing compared to that of hon. Members who go from the back benches to the Front Bench. I have here a copy of a university magazine from which I want to quote. I can produce the magazine if anybody wants it. I want to quote a line or two in regard to Greece:All that is important is to observe that in all the liberated countries there is, and will be, a struggle between Right and Left, both sides probably being armed. That there are in this country important elements anxious to support the Right in every case,"—that is, the Tories—and that there is in this country and in the U.S.A. a great volume of opinion other than the organised … Liberal, Labour and Communist votes which will oppose these attempts.Our job is to see that the workers' sides in Europe are identified, and that this large volume of support available to them in this country, in the U.S.A. and in the U.S.S.R. is harnessed to this end.It seems unlikely to me … that equity and justice have been secured in Athens. Plastiras seems an unlikely choice for such a job, and if an interview granted in The Times' … is to be accepted, the primary concern of the General would seem to be the hunting of the E.L.A.S. For this purpose he needs … 20 divisions. Where they will come from I do not know, but I know one place from which the arms will not come—Britain.That was written by the Minister of State before he reached the Front Bench.
In this situation we as Members of Parliament or as citizens of this country have to make our position perfectly clear. When the hon. Member for Lancaster was speaking I rose to make an effort to explain my position. I have for 45 years been a revolutionary Socialist at street corners, in public halls and marching up and down in demonstrations of all kinds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) 458 shouted at me "Traitor." No one, whether on this side or the other side of the House, can show where I ever deserted my fellow workers in any circumstances, or where I failed in loyalty to my fellow workers. It was in Westminster Hall that Sir William Wallace was tried and condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He said in the course of his defence, words to this effect: "I am accused of being a traitor to Edward I. I can never be a traitor to Edward I for I never gave allegiance to him, and while there is strength in this poor tortured body I never will." I never gave allegiance to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham or to his political conceptions, and I never will.
My allegiance is to the people of this country, to the masses of the workers of this country. This Labour movement was built up to fight for the workers against the capitalists of this country. Not only is it not fighting against them, but it has brought the capitalists of American into this country, and they have also been saddled on, and are exploiting, the people of this country. There is an American zone in England. We will fight to prevent any American zone in Scotland.
I have here a cutting from today's paper about which I tried to put down a Private Notice Question, but it was ruled out of Order. The State Department in America gives the reason for revoking the visas of certain Britishers who were going to a peace conference in New York. What a position for the once great and mighty Britain. The State Department officer says that they investigated each case. Just imagine if this had been someone in Moscow talking about Britishers. The statement added that other people in London checked the records and used every source of information, probably including Scotland Yard. A foreign Government can use Scotland Yard against our own citizens. What a shameful business. How is it that Members of this House can glory in their shame and bow low before the dollar god mammon.
I appeal as a worker. I want to see this country free and independent. [An HON. MEMBER: "So do we"] The Eastern countries are free and independent. [Laughter.] Very well, I will give 459 hon. Members a test. The President of the Board of Trade has carried on negotiations with the Polish Government and with other Governments. I challenge him or anyone else to say that there is any commodity in Poland which he cannot get from the Polish Government if the British Government desire it. Is that correct or not? There is no interference of any kind from outside. Is that correct or not? But can the Polish Government get any commodity which they want from us? No, because America bars Britain from supplying certain commodities to Poland. The Polish Government are absolutely free but the British Government are not free to do the same so far as Poland is concerned. Which is the satellite? Why will men blind themselves to the truth?
I am for the people of this country, the great masses of the people, not for the privileged few. If the Communists had power, there would be no Tory Party. There would be a working class party.
§ Mr. Gallacher
That process would mean that there would be a people's party. It is impossible for the Communist Party in this or any other country to break the power of the capitalist class. The only force which is strong enough to do that is the organised might of the working class, and sooner or later the organised working class, behind a combination of Labour leaders and Communist leaders, will overcome the capitalist class. There will be one party representing the people, and it will be made up of many who were in the Labour Party and many who were in the Communist Party. It will be one party representing the people, because Socialism requires all the resources of the country to be in the hands of the people.
If all the resources of the country are in the hands of the people there can be no resources in the hands of the Tory Party, and if they have no resources there will be no existence for them. This idea that we can have Socialism with all the resources in the hands of the people and yet have a Tory Party is an utter absurdity. They vanish like an evil thing. I stand for the people of this country and for the elimination of land- 460 lordism and capitalism. If war should come and foreign troops occupy this country, I will be a partisan fighting against, and for the removal of, the foreign troops.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has spoken very well to his usual brief. I sympathise with him for having to speak to a brief which is 101 years old and has never been brought up to date. He may comfort himself with the fact that he is now unlikely to be accused of being a national deviationist, like Gomulka, Tito and Markos. I think that Comrade Stalin, as soon as he knows of the hon. Member's speech, may forgive him for the letter which he wrote in 1920, as was recalled by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). The hon. Member for West Fife may comfort himself also with the fact that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who I am sorry to note is not in his place, is working his passage extremely fast into the hon. Member's party.
This is clearly a very important Debate. It was started on an extremely constructive, forthright and statesmanlike note by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan). I could not help feeling that the Minister of State was not up to his usual standard, although with much that he said I agreed. I feel that we are near a turning point in British foreign policy. When I last spoke in a foreign affairs Debate, I concluded by saying that foreign policy, as conducted by this Government, had left our friends in doubt and our enemies laughing at us. I do not retract any of those words or regret them. I was very shocked last December when the Foreign, Secretary announced in the opening sentences of his speech in the big Debate in this House that he would confine himself to speaking about Europe, and did not devote one single word of a speech lasting more than an hour to any of the countries now under Communist domination in Europe. That seemed to me to be typical of the defensive frame of mind in which the Government have been since they came into power.
It is quite clear that everyone in the country and this House, apart from a very 461 vociferous but insignificant minority, welcomes the Atlantic Pact. It is obviously a great step forward. The question I want to ask this afternoon is: when are we going to stop being on the defensive and go on to the offensive? There seem to be two reasons why we have allowed ourselves to be put on the defensive by international Communism. The first reason has been the wholly mistaken idea of the Socialists that they can conduct British foreign policy on party lines. I am glad to know that there are recent signs that such foolishness is being abandoned. The second reason is our military weakness ever since the war ended. For both reasons, the Government undoubtedly bear a very heavy responsibility indeed.
The hon. Member for West Fife gave us a lot of the usual Communist "hot air." I want to give him an answer in one or two sentences. The hon. Member cannot blink the fact, nor can his comrades opposite, that since the last day of the war, international Communism has succeeded in setting up by force Communist regimes in 11 European capitals, and that in the countries of which these towns are capitals there live 133 million people. He cannot blink the fact that in not one single instance in the world's history has the Communist Party achieved a Parliamentary majority by a free election.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) not aware that Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria have a coalition Government in each case and that the party that got the biggest vote in each case at the election was the Communist Party?
§ Major Beamish
That, of course, happens to be 100 per cent. untrue. Although it is perfectly true that on paper those governments are coalition Governments, I know that Mr. Cyrankiewicz is a lifelong Socialist. I know that that fact gives great comfort to hon. Gentlemen opposite, although it exposes the fact that the real struggle in the world is between Marxism and Christianity. The coalitions to which the hon. Member has referred are Marxist coalitions.
§ Major Beamish
I would not like to say that.
British prestige has suffered a severe diplomatic defeat. I do not think that British prestige has ever sunk so low for a long time indeed. I believe that it has reached its nadir now. I am the first to admit that the Foreign Secretary has been victimised by the disloyalty of a small section of his own party. I said earlier that I thought the Atlantic Pact might be a turning point in British foreign policy. I want to explain as briefly as I can why I think that is so. I recently saw a report in the "Daily Telegraph" of what Mr. Acheson said in reply to a question, which was as follows:Will not Russian threats now turn against free nations not protected by the Pact?Mr. Acheson's reply was:Special assurances will be given—I emphasise 'will'—to countries such as Greece, Turkey and Persia, that there will be no change in the policy of supporting their territorial integrity and political independence.Words roughly like those were said by our Foreign Secretary on 18th March in this House, when he said, referring to Turkey and Greece:Our actions in supporting that independence and integrity are clear expressions of our interest in the security of those countries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1949; Vol. 462, c. 2547.]A much more significant statement was made by the Minister of State when he said that our activities would not be confined to methods previously employed. That gives me some hope that there will be a real change in British foreign policy.
§ Major Beamish
I should think that we have suffered enough from war for the hon. Member not to make such a foolish interruption. Recently I had the opportunity of going to Greece. I got back only about 10 days ago. I want to warn the House of the dangers of false optimism. I detected a note of some complacency in the speech of the Minister of State today and I cannot help detecting 463 a note of considerable complacency in a recent statement which Mr. Truman is reported to have made, that because General Papagos has become the commander-in-chief in Greece, the situation is more promising than it has been for some time. Mr. Truman went on to say that there are signs that the balance is shifting against the guerrillas. We can do no greater disservice to the Greeks than by raising false hopes. I was glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley sounded a note of caution on this matter.
The bandit strength in Greece was roughly 20,000, this month last year. As a result of the victories which the Greek army won, it was reduced to about 5,000, and that number withdrew into Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, but today the bandit strength is back at 23,500, about the same figure at which it stood this month last year. The Greek army has to fight the same battles all over again with every prospect of the same thing happening after they have won their victory. Let us face it. We might as well accept the reality of the situation.
The bandits are extremely bold. I arrived in Salonika a few weeks ago, only three hours after they had raided the American Agricultural College about one and a half miles from the town of Salonika and only 1,000 yards from a British battalion in barracks. Forty-two boys and girls of between 17 and 20 years of age were taken away at the point of Sten and Tommy guns into the hills to be forcibly recruited by the bandits. Half escaped during the night, and I interviewed some of them. The remainder will either fight for the bandits after being reeducated in Marxism in Eastern Europe or carry stores for them. If any of the boys and girls still with the bandits escape, they know that their parents will be murdered.
That is what it means to live in Greece, and that happened a couple of miles from Salonika and a thousand yards from a British battalion. That shows bow bold the bandits are. I went to many other places which I will not describe to the House but I will mention that at Naoussa, 650 young boys and girls were taken away by the bandits and five factories employing 4,000 men were destroyed, and factory 464 managers and public officials were murdered.
Although the situation is rather gloomy at the moment, there are credits. For instance, we have seen the disappearance —I nearly said "the death" because it seems likely that it was the death—of General Markos, and his replacement by a man who is known to be loyal to the Kremlin. We have seen the victory in the Peloponnese, which has been a very well conducted campaign. We have seen the bandits over-confident at Florina only a few weeks ago, when well over 1,000 bandits were killed and the Greeks forced them to withdraw without themselves moving out of the town. All is not debit, there are some credits; but Greece cannot continue to fight for ever. The sooner that is realised by hon. Members opposite who think they can do so, the better. They have fought solidly for eight years.
As to the economic situation in Greece, I will give one or two figures which may be of interest. In August, 1939, an oke of bread cost 9.7 drachmae and today it costs 3,800. An oke of soap cost 32 drachmae in August, 1939, and today it costs 12,500. A kilo of coal cost 2.3 drachmae in August, 1939, and today it costs 1,640. Prices are roughly 350 times higher than in August, 1939. The cost of living index based on 1938 as 100, was 24,500 in December, 1948. Those figures may give hon. Members who are not closely in touch with the situation some indication of the success achieved by international Communism in Greece.
As to a solution in Greece, this is how I see the problem. I hope that whoever replies to the Debate, if he deals with nothing else in my speech, will give answers to the following points. First, do His Majesty's Government appreciate the urgent and vital necessity for a bigger Greek army?
§ Major Beamish
It is the opinion of all the military experts in Greece to whom I spoke, whether they were American or British, that a ceiling figure of 300,000 would be by no means too big. We have to face up to that. Secondly, about the air force, do His Majesty's Government admit that Spitfires promised to the Royal Hellenic Air Force—which has done wonders and fought brilliantly and whose 465 pilots are fine—more than four months ago, have not been delivered, and that there has been no explanation of the delay? I think we are entitled to an answer to that question as well. Lastly, with regard to the Navy, a great deal of help could be given in the way of small, fast craft to the Greek Navy.
I want also to ask the Government whether they appreciate that after eight years of war it is too much to go on plugging away at the old theme of a broad-based coalition Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was a dictator in wartime in this country; every man jack of us willingly gave him those powers, and we would have given him more if we could. President Roosevelt was a dictator in America, and he was willingly given those powers; but neither the Americans nor the British were fighting in their own home towns for their own lives—
§ Major Beamish
In comparison with Greece they were not. The hon. Gentleman knows nothing about conditions in Greece—
§ Major Beamish
The Greeks are fighting our war for us, and I hope the Government realise that if this coalition—which is an excellent one, and the best possible under the circumstances—does not prove equal to the task of fighting the war with undivided attention, it may be necessary for the Greek Parliament to agree—and I think they would agree—to a tougher and smaller regime, not necessarily including all parties.
§ Major Beamish
That is the sort of bright remark the hon. Member usually makes. I might give this analogy: democracy has been likened to the perfect wife—lovely but not fast—and there is no doubt at all that the Greeks have to move very fast in the months to come. 466 Do not let us make the mistake of looking at Greece in isolation from her neighbours, the Balkans. The whole Balkan situation is one situation and it is linked, in my opinion, with the situation in the Middle East. The essence of the problem in Greece is obviously the sealing of the Greek frontiers. That has been said from this side of the House on countless occasions by hon. and right hon. Members who have been out there and have seen conditions for themselves.
I want to say a word about Albania, a country about which it is extremely difficult to get any accurate information, although I have done my best to find out a little. Albania undoubtedly occupies geographically a vitally strategic position, both for international Communism and for the democracies. There is no doubt at all that the Albanians have failed to reach their industrial targets consistently during the last two years, and that they have failed badly. They have blamed the Yugoslav Trotskyites—those are their words. Their production of oil has fallen short of what they aimed at; they are short of machinery for the oil wells—most of the oil was going to Yugoslavia, but it is not going there now. They are short of coal, and the Russian ships are taking coal. They are short of iron—the Russian ships are taking iron. They are short of fuel, of electric power, because they have not the machinery. They are very short of yarn for their textile machinery. They were getting it from Yugoslavia, but she did not deliver the goods. There is a serious shortfall in timber. They are short of railway lines, and the whole of their railway building scheme has been held up until a Russian ship arrived. They are short of rolling stock and agricultural machinery. They are having serious labour troubles. I can assure hon. Members that these are facts which I have taken the trouble to find out.
There are also violent upheavals going on inside Albania. Only a day or two ago I read in the "Daily Telegraph":Soviet officers and N.C.O.s wearing Albanian uniform are directing operations against rebel bands in the country… clashes are occurring almost daily in the Jugoslav-Albanian frontier area… these frontier guerrillas are operating independently of other bands of political outlaws in the interior of Albania. Both groups have intensified their sallies during the past three weeks.467 I believe that to be a fact. The Albanian army, under its Soviet instructors, is giving direct help, as we all know, to Joannides, who has replaced General Markos. This direct Russian help—this direct help of the Albanian Army, backed and trained by the Russians—is, as we all know, in direct and flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter. I want to ask the Government this question: how long will the Atlantic Pact signatories allow Albania—responsible, incidentally, for the murder of British sailors, for which there has been no apology and compensation—to continue to sabotage the recovery of Europe; and how long will we fail to take full advantage of the situation I have so briefly described? I hope that when the Minister replies he can, at least, say something about this.
I cannot in the time available say more than the briefest word about Yugoslavia, which was touched upon by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean). I hope we shall not make the mistake of thinking that Marshal Tito will soon patch up his row with the Kremlin. His crime was lack of discipline, but he is none the less still a violent and aggressive Marxist. Do not let us make the mistake of bolstering him up unnecessarily and thinking he is going to be a direct friend of ours without, at any rate, some perfectly well-defined quid pro quo. As regards Bulgaria I want to refer only to one sentence from the statement of the Minister of State in the House on 16th March, when, speaking of the Bulgarian violation of the military clauses of the Treaty, he said:Bulgaria has also been unwilling to allow inspection of the Greco-Bulgarian frontier where she is forbidden by the Peace Treaty to erect permanent fortifications."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1949; Vol. 462. c. 2121–2.]Bulgaria has been unwilling to allow Great Britain and the Americans to inspect the frontier area, a duty which we have under the Treaty.
§ Major Beamish
That is just how low British prestige has sunk in Eastern Europe. The Atlantic Pact is clearly only a beginning. That is why I said earlier that I thought we were at a turning point in policy. But there is much more to 468 be done, and time is not on our side. The longer we delay the graver will be the risks we run and the more will Russian influence increase. What we have got to do is to close the back door.
In Greece, Turkey, Syria, the Lebanon, Transjordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and in Pakistan, to almost all of which countries I have been in the last eight weeks, there are Governments which are strongly opposed to the further encroachment of international Communism. I am very glad indeed that the Government have shown themselves well apprised of the importance of improving the situation which we have seen develop in the last few days. In my opinion, all these countries are ready and anxious to respond to an immediate approach by this country in co-operation with the United States of America and, probably, with the other signatories of the Atlantic Pact. As a result of my six weeks in the Arab countries and the Middle East, during which time I saw almost all the Arab leaders and had long private talks with them, I am convinced that it is urgently vital that we should now make a new approach in the Mediterranean area, the North Mediterranean coast and the Middle East, on the lines I have suggested and that the Moslem countries would be extremely receptive to any such approach.
Do not let us for one second delude ourselves into thinking that if we wake up one morning and find Greece behind the Iron Curtain it will not have a terrible effect on other countries. Only in recent weeks I know that international Communism, directed by the Cominform, has been dropping arms and equipment for Italian Communists under Signor. Togliatti, to make up for the arms and equipment taken from them by the police under the Christian Democratic Government. If Greece goes bad, it would not be an exaggeration to say that there is every likelihood of the Communists trying the same technique, that is civil war, in Italy and the effect on Turkey might be equally disastrous in a country which is forced, because of the Russian war of nerves, to keep a million men under arms. The Communist fifth columnists everywhere are well armed.
May I conclude with some constructive suggestions on how to go from the defensive to the offensive. I think the Greeks are tired of words of comfort and tired 469 of eight years of war. They want to know that we appreciate that they are fighting our war and that we will help them to win it. Secondly, let us fight the cold war for all we are worth and let us have no more appeasement. Stop the conspiracy of silence as to the real nature of Marxism and expose our own defeatists in this House and fellow-travellers—although, curiously enough, they seem to be getting less talkative as the Election approaches and are conspicuous today by their absence—or most of them are. Let us revive the Political Warfare Executive, which did such good work during the war. Let broadcasting play its vitally important function as one of the cutting weapons of democracy for telling the truth to the Marxists. Let us revise the policy of trading with the enemy. I am glad that the Minister of State made it clear that there are to be new developments in this direction. I will read an extract from the programme of the Communist International, dated 1st September, 1928. It is headed:The significance of the U.S.S.R. and her world revolutionary duties";and says:The simultaneous existence of two economic systems; the Socialist system in the U.S.S.R. and the capitalist system in other countries, imposes on the Proletarian State the task of warding off the blows showered upon it by the capitalist world (boycott, blockade, etc.), and also compels it to resort to economic manoeuvring with and utilising economic contacts with capitalist countries (with the aid of the monopoly of foreign trade—which is one of the fundamental conditions for the successful building up of Socialism, and also with the aid of credits, loans, concessions, etc.). The principal and fundamental line to be followed in this connection must be the line of establishing the widest possible contact with foreign countries—within limits determined by their usefulness to the U.S.S.R.That is something of which the Government might take careful note. Let us proceed to put teeth into the Atlantic Pact and be in a constant state of armed readiness, which is our greatest, and perhaps, our only safeguard. Also let us close the backdoor and realise at least that the never-disguised aim of international Communism has been, and always will be, world domination and that they have gone a long way in achieving that aim. I am convinced, and I have often said this, that there is no probability of peace in the world until international Communism has rolled back to its pre-1939 boundaries and until we 470 realise that the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements are both dead letters. As I said earlier, the struggle in the world is clearly one between Christianity and Marxism—Maxism based on class hatred and atheism.
§ Major Beamish
There is no half-way house, and if any hon. Members opposite think there is, they are no less dangerous than those who are convinced, dyed-in-the-wool Communists.
The Foreign Secretary knows that he has the support of all in this country who rate British interests above those of foreign Powers in any action he takes to regain the initiative by turning on the heat in the cold war and by giving urgent and maximum support to Greece in cooperation with our American friends. I believe that if we do not use the next five years to wipe out the severe diplomatic and military defeats that the democracies have suffered during the last four years, and since this Government came into power, it may mean—and I believe this most sincerely—the end of Christian civilisation in Europe, in our time.
§ Major Beamish
I entirely agree, and that is why I am making this speech, with the object of avoiding such a ghastly tragedy. Let the Foreign Secretary go forward to consolidate the positions he has recently won, and which we are beginning to take up, and let him then go on to the offensive. The stakes are enormous, and if we lose, we lose all.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
I feel sure the House will be in agreement that the Opposition has been fully justified in raising this important subject tonight. We have had a very interesting Debate, a livelier Debate than I, at any rate, imagined it would be. We have had a series of very useful and powerful speeches from both sides of the House, and we are still to have the privilege of listening to the Foreign Secretary wind up the Debate.
It is my duty to sum up the case as we have desired to put it from this side of 471 the House. Prior to the Foreign Secretary going to America for a series of what may be very important conversations on very important subjects, it has been our desire to sum up certain matters which lie outside the conclusion of that Atlantic Pact we were talking about on Friday afternoon. I should like to make clear that it is the desire of the House to discuss the Pact after it has been signed overseas at Washington. I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will give us that assurance and thereby save me, among others, from having to refer to it in greater detail tonight.
It has been our desire to consider British policy as it affects that immense border or curtain ranging from North to South, along which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) has described, the cold war is being fought. In this question of East and West I wish to make it clear, first of all, and quite categorically, that it is not we on this side of the House who wish to crystallise the issue between East and West and make further negotiation of any sort impossible. That would be a wrong policy at the present time. It is not our desire to make this curtain so impenetrable that no action, or counteraction, can occur. It is our desire to see, if possible, that openings are afforded to our diplomats and statesmen to take advantage of every occasion to promote the cause of peace and better realisation while there is time. That was the main reason for the Debate. While we have rightly been critical about the Government in many ways in their conduct and policy I wish to make that point of view quite clear at the outset of my remarks.
Another reason for our asking for this Debate and using the one privilege which the Opposition has—that is, of naming the subjects for Parliamentary Debate on days like this when we are considering the Consolidated Fund Bill—was the statement of the Minister of State about the satellite Treaties, which was made in the House last week. I said at the time on behalf of the Opposition that we agreed with the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, but we have since been even more critical than I was on that occasion, about certain matters which appear to arise out of his statement. If I may say so without borrowing a term 472 from the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton)— without making any wounding observations—I was not entirely satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman added very much to our thought on this matter in his oration today. But I have been in similar positions myself on the Government Front Bench and I am hoping that he left all the plums for his chief to give us following upon my remarks. At any rate, we expect a great deal more from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs than we have hitherto had by way of answer from the Government.
The Minister of State assured us when he referred to these Treaties, that despite the fact that the 18 months' period is over—and that means it is no longer necessary for us to work in collaboration, for example, with the Soviet Union as a signatory—he still hopes that there may be a chance of so implementing these Treaties that valuable results may follow. Let us first take the case of Greece which has been referred to so well by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) and by other speakers in the course of this Debate. What is the position of Greece? In 1941 Bulgaria invaded Greece for the third time within 30 years and pillaged the Greek provinces of Macedonia and Thrace. The Peace Treaty provided, among other things, for the restitution to Greece of confiscated property—such matters as railway rolling stock and looted livestock—and for reparations to be paid by Bulgaria for the damage done by Bulgarian troops. In addition Bulgaria's frontier with Greece was to be demilitarised.
Not one of these obligations has been fulfilled. The position is not only bad in the sense that I have stated it but, as we know, Greece is still fighting for her life. Despite the cautious words used by the Minister of State, we cannot see in the position of Greece any redeeming features at present. None of the obligations of the Treaty has been fulfilled. The Greek Government have informed the Allied Governments that Bulgaria is methodically re-arming and constructing fortifications in areas which, according to the Peace Treaty, should have been demilitarised. Demands by British and American diplomatic representatives in Sofia for an investigation have been refused by Bulgaria on the ground that 473 the Soviet representative was not in agreement. We have now reached a position in which, by the lapsing of the 18 months' period in regard to these Treaties, it is not necessary to have the agreement of the Soviet representative.
I wish to put this point to the Foreign Secretary. Are we to take it from the speech of the Minister of State, and the inference which I think we could draw from it, that in fact publicity is the only benefit we shall get by trying to implement the clauses of these Treaties? Or are we to hope that something can be done, for example, under Article 12 read with Article 35 of the Bulgarian Treaty which I hold in my hand? Are we to hope that something effective can be done to save the frontier of Greece and to save Greece at present? If that is not possible under these Treaties, I put it to the House that the great danger to British policy is that we get so cluttered up with being ineffectively bound by inoperative treaties, we waste so much of our time in argument at U.N.O. and other places where no good is being done at present to international relations, that we lose sight of the real interests of the United Kingdom.
In our attempts to seek legal advice from our advisers and to interpret this treaty that way and that treaty this way, we are in fact forgetting the real interests of our country and are not taking the most effective steps for peace. There is nothing more dangerous than that, as was pointed out in the famous Eyre Crowe Memorandum from the Foreign Office in 1906, on which most of our foreign policy has since been based, we should undertake commitments which we have not got either the strength or ability to carry out.
That is the great difficulty in which this House is placed in discussing whether these Treaties are in fact any good to us or not. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in face of the obvious Soviet move referred to in today's leading article in "The Times" and also in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley—a move which is designed to take the Macedonian portion of Yugoslavia from that country and the Macedonian portions from Greece and the surrounding countries—can be countered by invoking those parts of the Bulgarian Treaty. Articles 12 and 35, which give 474 us the opportunity of inspection, and, in particular, the opportunity of inspecting the Bulgarian frontier? If that is not possible, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman would be right to bring a more practical mind to bear and dismiss these Treaties as being useless for our purposes at present. Unless we can save Greece this summer, we may forfeit the whole position of the Middle East, and one of the most valuable counters between us and the Powers of the East.
I have had my attention drawn to a matter of great importance concerning these Treaties. There is on the Order Paper of this House a very important Motion on the subject of religion and religious persecution which deals with the case of Cardinal Mindszenty, which I do not want to go into tonight, but which is supported by a great many hon. Members of this House. This Motion goes on to say:Further, this House expresses its alarm and grave concern at the advancing tide of persecution of the Christian Church in Eastern Europe and urges His Majesty's Government to use all possible means to secure the release of Cardinal Mindszenty and to affirm and maintain the sacred right of all men to freedom of worship.This also raises the Declaration of Human Rights and the possibility of dealing with this question under Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nations before a court. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman if, in respect of these Treaties, as appeared from the answer given by the Under-Secretary on 1st December, he can do anything about the Greek-Bulgarian frontier as to building up. I also want to ask whether the Treaties provide the means of preserving human rights and freedom of religious worship as the people desire to render that worship. I think it is most important that in this Debate, which has only touched upon this subject, we should indicate to the Government the intense public feeling which there is on this question in this country.
If the right hon. Gentleman can honestly and conscientiously say that the speech of the Minister of State, as interpreted by us, is true and that the only hope of invoking these Treaties is to attract world publicity to these abuses, let him say so in frank and definite language and we shall know where we are. If that be the case, I would suggest 475 to him, as I mentioned on Friday afternoon, when he announced the decision about the signature of the Atlantic Pact, that something is wanted in the Middle Eastern area, and particularly in the realm of Greece and Turkey, to implement and carry further the conclusions of the Atlantic Pact. It would seem to me that it is highly necessary for us that our Government should get together with the Government of the United States and the State Department, and make some announcement following upon the Atlantic Pact which will indicate that we are in earnest and that we propose to collaborate, in a way which the right hon. Gentleman can no doubt discuss with the American Secretary of State, and thus implement our desire to save Greece before the summer is out. I therefore wish the Foreign Secretary well in his visit to America. I hope that he will give us an undertaking that this question of Middle Eastern strategy, and particularly the question of Greece, will be discussed by him with the American Secretary of State.
This reference to political questions, to questions of human rights, and to questions of religious freedom leads me to consider for a few minutes questions of East-West trade, which is another reason why we raised this subject in debate this evening. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State said that there were no blacks and whites, and certainly his speech indicated a vast area of grey in which we were barely able to distinguish any emerging features. He said in his statement about these treaties, in answer to our request, that the ex-enemy States—these small countries—have, in collusion with the U.S.S.R. persistently enacted laws or imposed measures,which, even though nominally non-discriminatory in form, have, in intention and effect, been aimed at Western commercial interests in general, and against British interests in particular. That is the truth coming from the Government.
I then asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, in the circumstances, the President of the Board of Trade proposed to go on making trade agreements with those countries whose habits were described in so unfriendly a way—and so accurately described—by the right hon. Gentleman. He referred me, according 476 to the usual "passed to you" tactics of any Government, to the President of the Board of Trade, and up to now, unlike jesting Pilate, I am waiting for my answer. I am hoping to get it from the Foreign Secretary tonight. Is it the intention of the Government, despite this description of the attitude towards East-West trade made by the right hon. Gentleman himself, to contract new trade agreements with these countries?
The right hon. Gentleman said today that an announcement had been made on 15th February that there was an export licence system and that there would be a new range of goods which would shortly be brought under control, but he was unable to tell me whether any conclusion had been reached in the matter for reasons which he gave, and which I think were understandable. At the same time, we know from the Foreign Assistance Act, 1948, of the United States, that in Article 17D the administrator is directed to refuse delivery, in so far as practicable, to participating countries of commodities which go into the production of any commodity for delivery to any non-participating European country—that involves the Eastern countries—which would be refused export licences to countries by the United States in the interests of national security.
§ Mr. Butler
I said 117, and I am obliged to the hon. Member for his interruption. Perhaps my voice did not reach him satisfactorily, but I am glad to see that he is so well informed on this matter.
What I was saying was that, taking this Article of the Foreign Assistance Measure of the United States, together with the British statement that after 15th February certain articles are to be brought under control, can we on this side of the House take it that no trade agreement will be concluded with an Eastern European country which involves commodities that are governed either by the Foreign Assistance Measure of the United States or involves commodities which may be used in war provision or to further future wars. If so, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether a list of such 477 articles is being drawn up, because this leads me to my next point, that we have not yet had an answer from the Government whether, under the existing circumstances of the cold war, they intend to go on delivering reparations to Russia from Germany, and whether they intend to go on delivering reparations to Czechoslovakia.
It really is a preposterous situation that when, in the terms of the Government's own statement by the Minister of State, the situation is being treated with contumely by the Governments of Eastern Europe, we should go on deliberately encouraging trade with them in articles which may be used for war production and for the purpose of war. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can finally and at last give us the undertaking that, in fact, further reparations to Russia from Germany will cease, and not only from Germany to Russia but from Germany to Czechoslovakia and other countries behind the Iron Curtain. I wish to be perfectly reasonable because we are discussing matters of the utmost importance to our own country. I do not ask that all trade between East and West shall be stopped. It would be quite unreasonable that we should not attempt to conduct trade agreements where matters can be conducted in such a way that we do not include capital goods designed for war potential to the East. We should have a definite undertaking from the Government that trade in war potential will stop.
In my concluding remarks I want to refer to Germany itself. The right hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) referred to the Humphrey Committee on Reparations. I want to ask the Government whether, on this question of reparations, they are beginning to take the advice so freely tendered to them by the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch), and so frequently given to them, to try to bring this question to a head and have done with it. The Humphrey Committee has recommended that 167 plants of the revised reparations list should be reprieved. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government have accepted that recommendation, which we understand has the support of Mr. Hoffman, and what is their decision about the future of merchant ship building in Germany—not so much from the merchant navy angle, but from the merchant ship 478 building angle? It always seems to us, on this side of the House, ridiculous that in the case of a merchant ship which may be built for the purpose of going out to obtain fish for the German population to eat, we should not allow that building to continue in the interests of the general recovery of Western Germany at the present time. We think it is high time that we brought an end to this question of reparations and that the Government gave us some definite answer whether they have accepted the general decision of the Humphrey Committee that there shall be an upper limit for steel, whether 10.6 million tons or 10.7 million tons, which we understand to be the figure of that committee.
In dealing with Germany I want to make this plea: that we get on as a Government with the task of linking a living Germany with a living Europe. The time for de-Nazification, for this short-sighted reparations policy, in particular for reparations being delivered to the East, must cease. The time is now, with our imagination, to link a living and reviving Germany with the Western conception which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has himself done so much to forward.
As the right hon. Gentleman wishes to begin his speech shortly, I do not propose to spend any time on the question of public ownership. I realise that hon. Members opposite are dedicated to this idea. I realise, at the same time, that putting the Ruhr or the German industries under public control gives a much better opportunity to a nationalist revival in Germany to use those industries for war purposes. But, whether that question be decided or not, what I am anxious to see is that the Ruhr region itself proceeds from the present negative position of the Ruhr Statute, which I do not think is consistent with German dignity, to a further development, and that the further development shall be on these lines: that the German potential of the Ruhr, shall be integrated, on an international scale, with the potential of Lorraine, the economic set-up of Benelux and with those nations of Europe which can work with this unit, to make the economic situation of Europe better than it has been in the past. In that way French public opinion would be satisfied, and we should begin to create an 479 economic future for Europe on a scale which we Europeans have never before envisaged. I believe that if we proceed on these lines there is some hope for the future.
My final question to the right hon. Gentleman is this: does he propose to build up the economic life of Europe on the basis of the machinery of O.E.E.C., or does he propose to follow the advice of the United Nations' Economic Commission for Europe? Does he propose to bring together all the little bits of machinery under the Brussels Pact, and the other arrangements that have been made to bring the nations together, or will it all be concentrated in O.E.E.C.? If it is concentrated in O.E.E.C., will he use the initiative given us by Marshall Aid to enable us to create an economic future for Europe on a scale which will add to Europe's prosperity and enable her to use her goods ultimately to the best advantage? I think it is time that the right hon. Gentleman gave us a picture of what he has in mind for linking Germany with Western Europe and making the two a living reality. If we can do that I hope he will take us a stage further. We believe that we now have a priceless opportunity to build something for the future which will save the peace, not only in our time but for future generations. We have shown by our own Commonwealth that we in this country have power of leadership, and it should be our duty, by means of the Atlantic Pact and the economic building up of Europe, to turn our own Commonwealth of nations into a Commonwealth of Civilisation.
If we do that in the spirit of my opening remarks—that we should look for every opportunity of easing the situation, avoid appeasement by sending war potential to the East and maintain trade which is healthy to nations on both sides of the Iron Curtain—I believe that we shall have taken a step towards relieving the anxieties of our people, who are looking to the summer with fear because they are wondering what will come next. We give the Foreign Secretary our best wishes for his journey to America; we trust that he will take all practical steps possible to make agreements with the American Government, and that he will report when he returns so that we may have a Debate.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
If I tried to answer every point which has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler), the House would be in for a very long lecture. I thank him for his good wishes for my projected visit to the United States. Most of the problems he talked about are not merely on the agenda at Washington, but have been on the agenda for a very long time. We are constantly exchanging views about them, but it is not as easy as making a speech to persuade Governments with different ideas, and to secure agreement among them about action which ought to be taken. I take the view that if German industry before Hitler, had been owned by the public instead of by Krupps, there would never have been a war. I cannot see the German people, with the control of those industries in their hands, handing the money over to Hitler to build up a party fund to destroy them. I base my case on that, and other people on both sides of the ocean are coming round rapidly to that point of view.
I want to apologise to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) for my absence when he opened this Debate. As a matter of fact I was at the office discussing these very problems with the American Ambassador. I was trying to get through those discussions in order to come over here. The inference I drew from the notes I have read—and I should like to get this clear because we want to get understanding about this business—was that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley wanted to do just the contrary of the statement which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden, for he wanted a complete blockade of Eastern Europe.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but if that was the information given to him by whoever took the notes it was completely incorrect. HANSARD will have on record what I said. I made my points very clear, and the Minister of State, in answering me, accepted the formula which I put before the House. He repeated my own words. He took my statement and my definition, and he said 481 that he agreed with everything I had stated.
§ Mr. Bevin
And that is where one of my predecessors went out. Sanctions should never be applied unless we have made up our minds to carry them through to their logical conclusion. Sanctions in this case would have meant war. When the breakdown of the Four-Power Conference occurred and when the blockade of Berlin took place, all these things naturally were considered in all their aspects. The United States and ourselves put on the air lift. That resistance to the Russian attempt to drive us out of Eastern Germany by forcing us out of Berlin was the first arrest of the onward march. It has been cheap. One year's cost of the air lift is equal to the cost of one day of war. By it we have maintained a population of 2½ million; we have built up the morale of Germany, a very important factor, and I doubt if it has really cost America and ourselves anything compared with what the cost would have been in military effort had Russia reached the Rhine. If we had left Berlin the difficulty which would have faced us of holding Western Germany would have been a very serious matter. The morale of the Germans would have gone, our whole position in Germany would have been jeopardised; the morale of France would have been shaken, and I am not too sure what the situation in Italy would have been. The cost which would have fallen upon the Western Powers if the air lift had not been undertaken is impossible to estimate.
482 Therefore, the attitude which we have adopted in dealing with Germany is as follows: We have, as I have said, tried to get Four-Power agreement. I have to accept responsibility for the Four-Power procedure because I was a Member of the Coalition Government which agreed to it, and I do not go back on anything that was done. I have to accept what was done at Yalta because it was reported to us and we accepted it. Hence I have never criticised it. I have had to accept what was done at Potsdam before we arrived there, which was when the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite made way for us to occupy their seats. Accordingly the whole background of post-war Germany was Four-Power collaboration. With all respect, that seems to have been forgotten in the Debate today.
This attitude was pursued until November, 1947. I think we were right to pursue it. There have been inferences that we should have broken off our efforts earlier. It was not appeasement; it was a real effort on the part of the United States, France and ourselves to get agreement. It was a real effort in the belief that it could be achieved. I would say in connection with the Balkan Treaties that when they were signed I believed that they would be kept; I had every reason to believe that. Russia is a difficult country but in other respects she has not broken her agreements. Where she has broken her agreements has been in the political field, not in trade and other respects, where she has kept her agreements, as I think all commercial people will agree. There seems to have been in the last few years in the field to which I refer a different morality from that in the other fields in which we have had experience of Russia. I think that has been a tragedy and will prove to be a tragedy in the end for Russia herself.
Having pursued this course of action and having failed to secure Four-Power agreement, we set out to build up a Western German Government. I was asked what point we had reached in regard to the Bonn Statute and the Occupation Statute. We have not reached finality, but I am glad to be able to tell the House that the matter has now been narrowed down to two or three outstanding points. My view is that the three of us must bend our energies, take a big view, overcome these troubles among 483 ourselves and get the Germans to carry out their own administration at the earliest possible date. I have been working on that very hard for weeks. Hon. Members say that we can build up this, that and the other thing, and that France and other countries will agree, but, believe me, we do not get over the history of Europe quite so easily. There are deep-seated fears and prejudices in the Parliamentary situation in those other countries, and it takes an enormous amount of time and work to overcome the problems.
The three Powers are, however, drawing very close together in their policy towards Germany. I cannot enumerate—I do not think hon. Members would ask me to enumerate them—the disputed points which are now under negotiation, but I regard them as the smallest part of our difficulties in comparison with those which we have already overcome. In that connection I appreciated very much the speech of the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter). I know the feeling about reparations but I ought to say that neither this Government nor even the previous Government are to blame for the reparations trouble. The policy of both Governments before 1945 and afterwards was to settle this question in 2½ years. That was a basic consideration. We did not want to have the problem dragging on and to have difficulties hanging over either the Germans or ourselves.
I had first of all to get away from the conception of a level of steel production capacity of 3.8 million tons. I had to get away from the pastoralisation policy proposed by Mr. Morganthau at that time. It took, in fact, nearly 2½ years before the level of 10.7 million tons was accepted. I am not talking egotistically. I worked with my colleagues in the coalition Government on this steel problem, and we have never moved an inch from the basis laid down in 1944 as the point below which we should not let the German level of industry fall. Therefore, if I have been guilty of a sin it must be the sin of consistency in my attitude towards reparations in both Governments, a unique feature for a politician.
The next point with which I have to deal is the Humphrey Committee's 484 Report. The line taken by the United States in this matter has been difficult to reconcile with the views of France and the I.A.R.A. countries. It has taken some time to resolve the difficulties which have resulted from this. I was hoping to be able to announce agreement today but there still remain to be settled two or three points which are rather vital to the countries concerned. I think that by the time we get to Washington they will probably have been disposed of. Like other hon. Members who have spoken today, I want to see this business finally cleared up and to know exactly what plants are to be left in Germany. It has been a very embarrassing situation for our Military Governor because he has had to handle the dismantling problem in the British zone where the bulk of these plants exist, and hence we have had most of the trouble.
With regard to shipbuilding, I did not quite know whether the right hon. Gentleman was putting it to me that there should be no restrictions on shipbuilding at all. There is a great conflict of opinion about that. We did that in 1924, and while I am hoping that Germany will be spiritually and politically alive to the West, we hoped so then, but we then allowed an enormous capacity which was all turned into submarines. I recollect agreements made by the Government of the day for 10,000-ton battleships. Agreements, moreover, unknown to France, which created a very bad situation. I also remember the subsidy by the Germans on construction at that time which made our shipyards completely idle and rendered the Clyde almost stagnant by a quite unfair method.
If these powers are to be handed over to Germany we must not forget the security of these Islands. While I want to do everything I can to rehabilitate the Germans it must be remembered that we have had two wars. That is a vital thing. If it is a question of building up the coastal tonnage first, the fishing tonnage—that is vital. Even then, however, we have to consider the question of speeds. We would be quite wrong to take no notice at all of our naval advisers, and it would be quite wrong if we did not consider carefully the type of ship. Some ships can be converted to aircraft carriers quite easily, other ships 485 can be so built that they can be converted fairly quickly, and with modern speeds all these security problems have to be looked at carefully.
Now that question arises under the prohibitive and limited industries, and it is being considered carefully. There are certain types of industry in Germany to which, on security grounds, His Majesty's Government cannot consent until Germany has worked her passage back into the comity of nations and can be trusted.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman is aware that I made specific reference to fishing tonnage in my remarks?
§ Mr. Bevin
Yes, but fishing is only one type. There is cargo tonnage, and there are other kinds. And there is the capacity of the shipyards, the capacity of repairs, spares, and all those things. We are discussing the whole matter with the United States but, as I have said, my difficulty with the United States in the last few weeks on shipbuilding has been the question of security, and I have refused to raise the question of competition, provided the wages and conditions are correct. I do not think we ought to allow a position in Western Europe where this vital industry, affecting the security of our country, can be jeopardised by the ability of an ex-enemy country to use conditions or methods inferior to our own to subsidise themselves or to upset our arrangements. The House will not want me to weary it with all the other prohibited industries. I have made a general statement.
I was asked, in respect of Berlin, why we did not allow Berlin in the Bonn discussion. We did allow them to attend, we did allow them to express a view, we did permit them to have a liaison, but we have taken the view—I think the right view—that we will not despair of a united Germany yet. I believe that Eastern Germany and Western Germany will unite. I do not think that anyone can stop it. That will come.
§ Mr. Bevin
It may take time, but it will come. Therefore, the question to be decided was, what part should Berlin play? I think our decision was correct. 486 Reference was made to the currency problem. The first currency difficulty in regard to Berlin, of course, was the result really of introducing the monetary reform in the Western zone. The blockade started, and Four-Power control of the currency was refused. Had we allowed that situation to continue, we should have been driven out of Berlin, not by the blockade of the railways, but by the use of the currency. Therefore, we had to introduce the new currency. Since that time we have tried to get this thing straightened out. We have given a lot of opportunities for it to be settled, but at the same time the splitting of the city has been going on in every other form of administration. Hence, in the end, it got to a point that any talk of a uniform currency was absolutely impracticable of administration; so we have introduced the Western mark for the Western parts of Berlin. The change went off very smoothly. As far as I can see, it is working extremely well and I think it will result in improving the standards in Berlin.
We had to do this for another reason. We have had a new appreciation, both of the needs of the air lift and of the amount of tonnage needed to maintain the standard of life. The monetary system had a very vital connection with that. It is the intention of the United States to step up the air lift to a much higher target. I do not like to name any target in case it is not reached, especially in view of weather conditions and so on, but it is considerably higher than anything we have achieved yet. We intend to use the summer months to build up stocks, production and all the rest in Berlin so that in the winter we can see its people through with warmth as well as food and other requirements. I think I have dealt adequately with the Bonn Statute and the Berlin position.
Now, as to the future. In O.E.E.C. we took the only steps open to us to associate the bizone with the Marshall Aid plan. So far as that is concerned, economically they are in the West, and they get Marshall Aid. Until we have established a German government we cannot, of course, say what will happen with regard to the proposed Council of Europe, but some form of association at the earliest possible moment will be worked out. We must in some way 487 keep Germany associated with the rest of Western Union pending the establishment of a government which is representative. Therefore, we have throughout had in mind the necessity of associating Germans with the West on equal terms as soon as the political situation permitted and in the meantime of making some special arrangement to meet existing circumstances.
The question of the Ruhr and the basic industries of the West has been raised and it is said that what we have done for the Ruhr is wrong. I have yet to learn what is right. We have never said that we would refuse to plan the whole basic industries of Western Union; but I suggest that if we proposed it now, we should meet with a storm of opposition. I should have still more opposition from the other side of the House if the whole of our basic industries were to be put into the pool willy-nilly without any planning, organisation or arrangement. It may come—I think possibly it will—but not by taking one country and passing a resolution. Every bit has to be worked out in minute detail and care and everyone's interests have to be looked after.
I think Western Union has developed with amazing speed. It was only three years ago, long before there were any Hague conferences, that all this was discussed privately behind the scenes. We began by setting up the Anglo-French Committee and the Anglo-Italian Committee. We began by building up the Treaty of Dunkirk, then the Brussels Treaty and now the Pact. Let me dwell a bit on this growth. Every bit has had to be worked out clause by clause in great detail, and what has been done cannot be done by polemics nor by perorations. It must be done clause by clause and bit by bit. Let those who claim credit for it do so; I am not a bit perturbed. I leave it to history. When I am out of office and can write papers or a book, perhaps the firm of the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) may publish it for me—who knows? Let history record the work that has been done in this business and I shall not be ashamed. Who else likes to claim the credit, let them do so, I am not a bit concerned.
On the control of the Ruhr, I would remind the House that we took a rather 488 different line, the Americans and ourselves, and there was great criticism because it was felt we had not treated the French quite rightly. We immediately reopened the question and made a new arrangement in order to satisfy the claims of France, who naturally had great fears in this matter. I wish to refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) and say how much I appreciate his great experience of the Control Commission and how much I appreciate the tribute he paid to Sir Brian Robertson, the Military Governor. He has done a great job and I am sure the House will agree with those remarks. The size of the Control Commission is constantly under review. We are torn between two decisions. On the one hand, we have to hand over to the Germans; on the other, the Germans are not equipped after years of Nazism to take over as efficiently as we should like at the beginning and we must therefore move step by step. I do not want to be caught with too small a staff when the bulk of the work has to be handed over and find inefficiency growing. I ask the House to trust the Government to watch this with very great care.
I have been asked about the giving back of the satellite countries and about East-West trade. We are members of a club, what I call a Western club. And we have not based this entirely on Article 117 to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. We feel we have a moral obligation, and indeed we have our own security to take care of. We have therefore had to impose controls on the export of certain goods of strategic value. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will deal with questions in this connection at the appropriate moment. We have been trying to move together with our friends in Europe, particularly with the Brussels Powers in this respect. I took the opportunity of acquainting them with the decisions of His Majesty's Government here, and I must, of course, give them time to consider them from then particular angle. We are not dependent on agreement with them. I want to assure hon. Members that we shall proceed. But when one is working in conjunction with other Powers it is wise to inform them so that they may decide their course of action.
489 I do not want to break off East-West trade. I would, however, withhold anything which might be used to promote war against us. The Western Powers are never going to be aggressive. They hold to the spirit of the United Nations when it was established. But if one cannot get people to agree on disarmament and other vital matters, one must take the only course open and agree with those with whom one can agree. There is, however, the question how far can we go in punishing the ordinary folk. That is an anxiety to me. Do we make converts of people in another country, however much they hate their regime, if we join in starving them? I do not think we do. That is why I welcome the rather pronounced view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden when he put this point. I would call attention to it, because it seemed clearer to me than the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley.
§ Mr. Bevin
But I heard the summary at the end. I do not wish to cause another split in the Opposition. I am expressing only my own view. In any case we are going on trading. In the trading which we are doing we are not sending capital goods, so far as I know, which have a war potential, excepting in so far as there are some goods which cannot help being war potentials. A ship is a war potential, but are we to deny them ships? Someone said we cannot do that. There are many things which are war potentials, but there are certain things one must have if one is to wage a war—aircraft, and all sorts of things—
§ Mr. Bevin
The engines were on the free list which was drawn up before my time, not long after the end of the war. It was not tightened up as much as it ought to have been, but that has been put right. Therefore, in the main I have met requests put to me by the right hon. Gentleman in this particular case.
490 In the last few moments I will turn to the question of the Treaties with the Balkan countries.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
We have been waiting so long for the answer about these reparations from West to East, all through Czechoslovakia, and the right hon. Gentleman has so often promised us the answer. Perhaps we may have it tonight.
§ Mr. Bevin
The right hon. Gentleman shall have the promised reparations. I think there are about 2,500 tons to go to Russia in the clearing up of the parcel. The rest have been dealt with by the reciprocal arrangement of which the right hon. Gentleman is aware. Cezchosloslovakia is another story. I am not prepared to say at the moment that it has completely stopped there. After the delivery of this last parcel, the whole matter will be over and done with, particularly after the settlement of the Humphrey business.
§ Mr. Bevin
I shall come to Greece in a moment. That is what I am trying to do. On the Balkan Treaties we take the view that we must try to exercise our rights under the treaties. If we are to be denied, as we have been denied—and it has been a part of the policy of Soviet Russia all through—then I quite agree that the Western countries must reconsider their whole position. With regard to Greece, the main responsibility is in the hands of the United States of America. We did not have the money. We could not carry it on. We shall certainly discuss Greece when I get to the United States.
It has been suggested to us that we have been losing this cold war. Someone said that time was running out, that we had been beaten back and that we had been losing all the way. Let us examine the position. Just over two years ago, when the cold war really began to get hot, it looked as if—and I certainly felt it—Russia would succeed in forcing us back in Germany. It looked as if Italy would be completely disrupted. In France, facing the tremendous strikes and manoeuvres of the Communist party, it looked as if the Government might fall and chaos might ensue. The real purpose behind it all was to drive a wedge between Western Europe and the Western world 491 and to create a situation where the West could never unite.
In a word, what has happened? Western Germany, with the majority of the population, is saved. I do not believe that they will ever go Communist now. That is my view. They will not stand red tooth and claw capitalism there, but they will stand an ordered democratic Socialism. That, I believe, they will accept. [Interruption.] I am putting the position as I see it. France has got over the disruption. Her economy is well on the way to restoration. Italy has overcome the strikes. She has produced a very firm Government.
§ Mr. Bevin
It is not the fault of America or the Marshall Plan. If the Eastern States had been allowed to trade and there had not been the coup in Czechoslovakia, Italy would have been all right today. All the countries in Eastern Europe would not be starving as they are. Italy has been saved and the Pact has been agreed. A new machinery will soon be set up which will produce a unity in the West which I very much doubt many hon. Members dreamed was possible two or three years ago.
Therefore, I go to America, I know, with the good wishes of the House. I shall do my best to pursue this policy of trying to unify the West and attempting to deliver the goods, not merely in the interest of our own country but in the interest of the peace of the world.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
I would not have risen to detain the House further at this hour had it not been that what some of us regard as the most important aspect of this whole subject only arose almost at the end of the Debate in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) and of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) who preceded him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden referred the House to the Motion stand- 492 ing on the Order Paper—(Conviction of Cardinal Mindszenty)—in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang) and a number of other hon. Members on the question of religous persecution in Eastern Europe. The hon. and gallant Member referred in his speech to the risk of "the end," as he put it, "of Christian civlisation." Again, the other night, on the Motion for the Adjournment, my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) spoke in similar vein, and said that there could be "no doubt that," in what have been called the satellite countries, "there is complete suppression of religious liberty."
It seems to me that these statements are, at the very least, gravely oversimplified, and I feel that it would be wrong if it went out from this House, and if my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary took to America with him, the idea that that over-simplification is typical or represents the whole of Christian opinion in this country or in this House. It is not so. Christians are deeply concerned about this matter, but they are not by any means unanimous about it. Many of them, for instance, in this House, who are members of the Parliamentary Socialist Christian Group, produced last year a pamphlet which enjoyed a very wide circulation in the country and which does approach this problem from a radically different point of view. On this aspect of East-West relations and on Russia, for instance, this pamphlet says:A British Christian citizen will not consider Russian Soviet citizens as inevitable enemies, but as a group of fellow-men who are, in his view, in error in certain important respects. He will seek to understand the mind of these neighbours and to value all that is best in their policy and practice—some of which is, from a strictly Christian point of view, in advance of anything yet achieved in the West.I think it would be generally agreed that that is a very different point of view from that expressed by the hon. and gallant Member opposite or by my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington, who is held in deep respect in this House, and who, as a matter of fact, is also a member of the group which sponsored that pamphlet.
I do not, of course, want to accuse of hypocrisy any of the hon. or right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken today, but 493 some of them seem to me to be quite unconscious of the unreality, or rather the half-truth, of what they are saying when they talk about these deprivations of civil liberties and human rights in one half of the world. I say half-truths because one eye seems to be permanently closed: they seem to be blind in one eye—blind to every infringement of human rights that occurs west of the Iron Curtain. I recommend the study of the parable of the mote and the beam. It really is absurd to suggest that everything imperfect and wicked is in one part of the world, and that all the rest of the world is completely impeccable. If we look at Spain, for instance, which is certainly in the Western World, and is, presumably, part of that Western or Christian civilisation in which the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes sincerely believes—
§ Sir A. Salterrose—
§ Mr. Driberg
If I may just finish my sentence, I will then give way—and which a number of hon. Members opposite have pressed the Government to invite into Western Union and into the comity of nations, we find that, even in that country, there is also religious persecution of minorities, not expressed, perhaps, in such violent terms, but, nevertheless, definite persecution. According to the latest and most reliable reports, Protestants in Spain are regarded as second-class citizens compared with Roman Catholics, and they are also imprisoned on trivial charges.
§ Sir A. Salter
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that infringements of liberty in the West are to infringements of liberty in the East as the proportions of a mote to a beam?
§ Mr. Driberg
No, I was not trying to make a cheap debating-point, but a serious contribution. It may well be that, in Western countries with a much longer tradition of liberal institutions than they have in the Balkan countries, the infringements of liberty, although the same in principle, are expressed rather less violently. But that does not 'excuse us from the necessity of studying that parable, particularly since we in the West pride ourselves, and rightly, on these long traditions of civil liberty. I hope I make myself understood to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Major Beamish
It seems to be implicit in the hon. Gentleman's argument that I approve in some way of General Franco's regime. Let me hasten to assure him that I think it is a perfectly rotten régime, and the sooner it is replaced by a democratic one the better pleased I shall be. I do not agree with the political or religious persecution in Spain, but I would not be prepared, if in a position of authority, to sacrifice British interests in order to satisfy narrow Socialist Party dogma, because of the strategic importance of the Iberian peninsula.
§ Mr. Driberg
I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not approve of religious persecution anywhere, and I did not attribute to him the proposal that Spain under Franco should be brought into the United Nations or Western Union, but that proposal has been made on a number of occasions recently from the benches opposite.
If one looks at South Africa, which is, after all, part of the Commonwealth, one sees the grossest persecution, not on religious, but on racial grounds, which, in my opinion, is almost as bad if not worse. Furthermore, that is a form of persecution or discrimination which does not exist in Eastern Europe or in the Soviet Union at all, so far as one knows. Some time ago a young English-born Anglican clergyman, who is now in this country, was imprisoned for some months in South Africa, not for any black-market currency offences, and not for plotting against the Constitution, but merely for insisting on living among his parishioners, who happened to be coloured. He insisted on going to live in a compound or enclave in which white people were not allowed to reside. He was imprisoned, but there were no great protests in this country or in this House, no marches through the streets about the Rev. Michael Scott. He has now come here to try to speak directly to the Government on behalf of the persecuted African people to whom he has devoted his life.
I need hardly do more than refer in passing to the discrimination which is almost universal in the Southern States of the United States of America, but anybody who has been there—I am sure any hon. Member from either side of the House who has been there, as I have—is bound to find that shocking to the last 495 degree. It is perfectly true that one can understand the historical causes of it, and one tries to do so, but one also tries to understand the historical causes of the crudities and even savageries which sometimes occur in Eastern Europe, or one ought to try to do so, I suggest. It is so one-sided and such a half-truth to concentrate all the time on one-half of the world and to pretend that the other half is completely blameless. It seems to me at least as gross an affront to the essential dignity and brotherhood of man that a Negro Methodist in Georgia is not allowed to sit in the same church, or in the same congregation, as his white brother Methodist, as that a Hungarian Cardinal should be imprisoned for alleged black-market currency offences and for political offences which would certainly be regarded as treasonable or seditious in this country.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton)
While most interested in what the hon. Member is saying about other countries, am I to understand that he thinks it is a bad idea that we should protest against what is happening to the Cardinal?
§ Mr. Driberg
I am suggesting that these protests should be a little less exclusively selective, a little less exclusively directed in the one direction. Also, of course, it is one's duty, so far as one can, to try to find out the merits of the case about which one is protesting, and I must confess that I find it extremely difficult to come to a final conclusion about the case of the Cardinal. It seems to me a tragic case, but I find it extremely difficult, as I think do many Roman Catholics in this country, to come to an absolutely final conclusion about it.
If one had to try to imagine a parallel to it, I suppose it would be almost as though a Bishop of the Established Church in this country were to start intriguing for the restoration of King Edward VIII. That would obviously be far more than mere political opposition to the Government of the day. I suggest that in this country that would technically be seditious. Whether he would be prosecuted or not I do not know; I rather doubt it. We got over those particular difficulties—our constitutional revolutions and so on—three centuries ago. It is fortunate for us that we did. But we must understand that 496 historical processes do not occur at precisely the same time in history or with precisely the same speed or momentum in every part of the world. There is no reason why they should.
I am not competent, as I say, and I do not believe many hon. Members are really competent, to pronounce on the case of the Cardinal. I sympathise with the feelings of His Holiness the Pope and of Roman Catholics who genuinely and sincerely feel that there is something, as it were, sacrilegious in the mere arrest by any civil Power of a Prince of the Church, but I suggest that those feelings naturally predispose them to a certain over-subjectivity in judging this case.
I do not honestly think that the argument from news pictures of the cardinal in court is really a very sound one on which to build any conclusion at all. I simply observe that the correspondent of "The Times," who was in court throughout and is not, so far as I know, a Communist, gave a rather different picture of the proceedings from that presented by some of the propagandists; that the author of the "Manchester Guardian" editorials on the subject, presumably not a Communist, also took rather a different view; and that so eminent a Free Church cleric as Dr. Nathiel Micklem, who certainly cannot be suspected of being a Communist or under communist influence, also found it necessary to suspend judgment and to regard the campaign by the Cardinal's friends with some scepticism. I observe particularly that the "Osservatore Romano," the official organ of the Vatican, commented on the case in these curious and significant words:The Cardinal followed the path of honour and justice. He admitted what was true, and he denied what was false.However, I, personally, have a perhaps unreasonable prejudice, in view of the practice of many Members of this House, against forming a judgment on countries which I have not visited myself, at least for long enough to get some first-hand impressions; and, rather than discuss the case of the Cardinal any further—because I have never visited Hungary—I would just say a word or two, if I may, about what hon. Members opposite will probably regard as a reasonably analogous case, that of Archbishop Stepinac of Yugoslavia, who is still in prison. When I was in Yugoslavia about 18 months ago 497 I went out of my way to investigate that case as thoroughly as I could, by discussing it fully with many well-informed people of every possible point of view, including Communist Ministers in the Government, Roman Catholic prelates, British diplomats and others, and after a number of those discussions I formed the view that, on the whole—for reasons which we should regard as wrong, that is, because he maintained a political opposition to the Tito régime, and by judicial processes which would perhaps seem to us, maybe in our insular self-satisfaction, somewhat imperfect—rough justice was done, since Mgr. Stepinac was guilty of extremely flagrant collaboration with the enemy during the war. That, at any rate, I have reason to believe, is the view which the British Embassy in Belgrade took after the matter had been pretty thoroughly gone into.
I do not agree with those Communists who say that the Vatican is committed to a policy of stirring up or organising a "holy war" against Communism. I was interested to notice only a few weeks ago an indignant denial of these allegations in the "Osservatore Romano," which denounces and deplores the suggestion made by Communists that the Vatican is interested in promoting a holy war. Yet, if the analysis given us, over-simply, by hon. Members of this House is correct, the Vatican ought to be doing just that but I do not believe that it is—
§ Mr. Speaker
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the House is not concerned with what the Vatican ought or ought not to do, but what the Government ought to do. The hon. Gentleman must direct his remarks to the responsibility of the Government, and to no one else.
§ Mr. Driberg
With great respect, I will endeavour to do so, Sir, but I suggest that the Debate has gone very wide at various times, and that we have been discussing the subject of religious persecution in various countries of Eastern Europe. It is rather like "Hamlet" without the Prince of Denmark to discuss the religious situation in Europe and omit the Vatican. However, I will make this part of my speech as brief as I can, and merely make these two points: first, the Pope has been, in recent years, badly 498 advised and informed from at least one country in Eastern Europe—factually, I mean.
Secondly, when I think of the Vatican policy in general, I am always reminded of that perfect example of empiricism given us towards the end of the war by the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition, when he said: "We will co-operate with kings or with commissars so long as they are killing Germans." Broadly, the Vatican will co-operate with kings or with commissars so long as they get freedom of religious worship for their priests and of education. The Vatican will make concordats with régimes of any political colour. That is one great reason why I resist all the time this dangerous talk of a holy war, a cold war, or any irrevocable division or clash between East and West.
Furthermore, when hon. Friends of mine talk, as they talk in this Motion on the Order Paper, and in Debates like that initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington, of a complete blackout of religion in Eastern Europe, they are being, if I may say so with respect, a little presumptuous in, as it were, unchurching completely the great Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe. It is all very well for people to sneer at those churches and say that they are simply stooge churches, puppets of the State, and have always been so since the time of the Emperor Constantine. I do not think that gibes like that come very well from those of us who, like myself, are members of the Established Church of England. The Orthodox churches at least have the liberty, to a considerable extent, to appoint their own bishops and to order the details of their own liturgy without interference from secular parliaments, which we have not in this country.
Incidentally, when one examines the case of the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus and considers his position vis à vis the British Government, it is really like a through-the-looking-glass parallel to the case of the Hungarian Cardinal vis àvis the Hungarian Government, although it is true, so far as I know, unless he has been arrested in the last few hours, that at the moment the Archbishop of Cyprus is at liberty.
I want to conclude by referring to a message appealing for peace which was 499 issued by the Patriarch of Moscow on the occasion of the recent celebrations of the quincentenary of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is an extremely impressive message. Although I will not read it, because it is lengthy, I should like to read a comment on it which appears in a small but extremely valuable periodical which I think must be known to some hon. Members—the "Christian News-Letter." It cannot be suspected of Communist sympathies. A correspondent writing in the "Christian News-Letter" seems to me to make one of the most profound statements on the whole of the religious situation in Europe that I have yet seen. I hope I may be forgiven if I quote just a few sentences. There have been many long quotations from the other side of the House, too. Referring to this Russian Orthodox appeal to Christians to co-operate in building up peace, this writer says:The document… is a reminder to Christians in the West that there are Christians in the East: it is also a reminder of the fact that the two immense forces of Russia and the West find themselves face to face not on the Elbe or in Berlin but in the very depth of European mankind. People in the West particularly in America and Britain… have become accustomed to oppose 'Christian civilisation'… and Communist Russia.That is precisely the antithesis which has been repeatedly presented to us today—in the first instance by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), who referred to "Western and Christian civilisation," and subsequently by other hon. and right hon. Gentleman. The "Christian News-Letter" contributor says:This is increasingly becoming a convenventional war cry on the lips of those who have little awareness of what is meant by either Christian civilisation or Communist Russia. I am simply not impressed by this hackneyed attitude, which is fit for military purposes, but, by simplifying, confuses the issue. The Russians are, of course, by no means free from a similar attitude… but with them it is largely due to a kind of persecution mania, which, as is well known, easily turns into aggressiveness, whereas in the West"—and this is a tremendously important point—it is the result of the sin of pride, of cultural hubris which issues in what Professor Toynbee calls the posture of the civilised lord of creation. It is perhaps a somewhat tragic comment on our predicament today that it is necessary for Western Christians to be reminded that there are Christians in the East. 500 There is no such thing as Western (Christian) civilisation over against Russian (non-Christian) civilisation, and I for one am conscious of the excellence and the tragedy of belonging to a world torn asunder yet fundamentally one: indeed it is this very unity, this terrifying one-ness, of the historical destiny of European man that makes me embrace and appreciate all our present tensions and conflicts.I have already read too much from that contribution and I apologise, but it seems to me a profound statement. The writer goes on to emphasise the essentially European character of Russia and Russian Christianity ever since the first days of the "second Rome." I hope that hon. Members who are seriously interested in this most important aspect will get hold of this issue of "Christian News-Letter" for 16th February.
I will end, again apologising to the House for taking up time so late at night, simply by saying that it is in the spirit of the "Christian News-Letter" contribution, and in the spirit of the pamphlet, issued last year, which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, that the possibilities for what might be called a truce at least, if not yet true peace, really begin to take shape. I shall always remember that when I was a boy, only just beginning to learn about Socialism, I went one day into that most beautiful of all English parish churches, at Thaxted, and saw hanging there the Red Flag, which Conrad Noel had hung up. It was then periodically being torn down and torn up by hooligans, the forerunners of the Fascists of today. On that Red Flag were inscribed the words:He hath made of one blood all nations.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I have been very much surprised by the end of this discussion. I had not intended to speak, and I have not studied for hours and hours in order to be able to make a speech of the kind to which we have just listened. My hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) has in reality endeavoured in his own way to indicate that this discussion today has been concentrated on developing the viewpoint that the differences of opinion which exist in the world today are dependent upon the attitude of religious bodies to the Soviet Union, and that all our opinions arise from that viewpoint. One would have expected that a man with the reputation of the hon. Member for Maldon would 501 not have attempted to make the kind of speech to which we have listened without at least giving some idea it was likely to be made. Of course, that might appear a point to be ridiculed by some hon. Members.
§ Mr. Driberg
I did not intend to do my hon. Friend any discourtesy, but it was quite impossible, and indeed would have been presumptuous, to try to notify everybody who might be interested. I did mention to two hon. Members opposite who are I know Roman Catholics, that I would be touching on this subject.
§ Mr. McKay
I do not pretend to be a specialist on Catholic theology and I do not intend to attempt to give the Catholic viewpoint. What I want to do is to try to show the real viewpoint in this discussion. What has happened to Cardinal Mindszenty has happened to other Christian leaders. What has concentrated the thought of the world upon this situation is not what has happened to the cardinal, but what has happened to a number of Socialist leaders in Europe—in Spain or in any other place. What has consolidated the thought of Europe and America is the fact that, while we might have various religious viewpoints and prejudices about religion, nevertheless one of the outstanding features of the Western world is that we have the common fundamental viewpoint, both in religion and politics, that the right issue of human activity will be forthcoming only when humanity speaks and acts freely.
This discussion should not be allowed to go forward with the idea that our consolidated viewpoint centres round the one question of religion. It is not centred on that at all. It is centred on the more fundamental question of the freedom of people to express themselves whatever their viewpoint. In future, before any hon. Member comes to speak, with some authority as it were, as a representative of the Christian group of Socialists, the position must be analysed a bit more.
§ Mr. McKay
Yes. I do not think that what I believe is a prejudiced view. I do not believe the viewpoint which we heard from the hon. Member for Maldon expresses the general attitude of the Christian Parliamentary Group. Therefore, I hope that, if we have the time, and if we get the opportunity, the question of the attitude of Governments generally throughout the world, and of the public in particular, to the question of peace and the rights of humanity will be debated at some future time, if necessity arises. I conclude by saying that I hope we shall get more broadminded viewpoints expressed in the future.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Solley (Thurrock)
I was not aware that after the speech of the Foreign Secretary we were going to continue this Debate, and to some extent I am not completely equipped to make the detailed statements of fact I would otherwise like to make. Nevertheless, I hope to make a useful contribution to the Debate. Unlike other hon. Members who seem to have firm ideas about the conditions of Eastern Europe, I visited Eastern Europe in 1946, 1947, and 1948, and I can draw comparisons of the progress—because it was progress—which I saw myself and which are not based upon the malicious lies and misrepresenation of Fleet Street in relation to Eastern Europe.
On my last visit to Eastern Europe, in October, one of the gentlemen with whom I dined on my last night in Bulgaria was described by an author, Mr. Michael Padev, in the "Tribune" of that very week, as having been liquidated. Mr. Padev is one of the sources of this lying propaganda which finds its way into the innocent hands of, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) who quoted Mr. Padev's works in his contribution to the Debate last week. In the same way, Mr. Padev inspired an article in the "Economist" at about the same time which contained more factual misrepresentation about Bulgaria than it would be possible to imagine. In my innocence, at that stage I thought that when I wrote a factual and not political letter to the editor of the "Economist" 503 pointing out the incorrect statements which ought to be corrected, if only in accordance with the standards of journalism in this country, it would be published. But there was no room, apparently, for a short letter from a Member of this House who had just returned from Bulgaria and could state the facts.
§ Mr. Solley
Freedom of the Press has become an iron curtain not dividing Eastern and Western Europe, but dividing Europe from this country across Fleet Street. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said something or other to the effect that Eastern Europe was starving. I must say that in 1947, in Roumania, the conditions were by no means deplorable; quite the contrary. There was a very optimistic attitude. In October, 1948, in that country, I found more food available for the ordinary people than there was to be found for the ordinary people of this country. I do not propose to go into an analysis of why that was so, and I make no comment at all about the rationing system here; why I found what I did is a matter on which, also, I make no comment. But, it is quite inaccurate to say that the people of Roumania are starving.
Suggestions have been made also about the lack of freedom in Eastern Europe, and especially about lack of freedom in religion. I should like to say something about religion from an angle different from that which we usually hear. Before the war there was never a democracy in Roumania; the Jewish communities were regarded as subhuman species. A Jew, be he an aristocrat or a worker, was spat upon in the trams and omnibuses, and was generally regarded as a completely non-human creature.
In spite of the attempts of the Government, in an official statement in this House last week, to suggest that the Jewish religion was one of the victimised religions of Roumania, I must say that, from my personal knowledge, no religion was subject to victimisation in that country. Certainly, in the case of the Jews specifically, they have never had such freedom in their entire history in Eastern Europe as they enjoy at the present time in Roumania. This is surely a 504 tribute to the liberal outlook of the Roumanian Government. In Bucharest last October there was established the State Yiddish Theatre. For anyone to suggest that there is evidence of persecution of religion so far as the Jews are concerned is transparently false and ridiculous, if one remembers that one fact alone.
I will tell the House of some of my personal experiences in Bulgaria last year. I met the leaders of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria; I did not meet the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, or any other, apart from the Muslim and Jewish leaders. On all sides I found that they had no complaint whatever against the Government. So far as the Orthodox Church was concerned, the priests were solidly behind the Government. I emphasise that I am stating facts—not misrepresentations and propaganda. The priests of the Orthodox Church are entirely with the Government. I went to one of the places near Sofia where three or four hundred priests were voluntarily giving their time, with peasants and workers, to build some sort of roadway, and it seems to me it would be an extraordinary thing for the priests to do that, unless they really believed they were assisting their country by voluntary work with the peasants.
I ask myself, What is the reason for this misrepresentation? What is the reason for these lies? The answer is very obvious if one has listened to the speeches made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite today. It is to create a war hysteria and to create fuel which will ultimately stoke the fires of war. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite realise that they cannot go to an English worker, or any ordinary Englishman in cold blood and say, "We want you to start a war against Eastern Europe." Nor can they say, "We want you to go to war against Eastern Europe." What they can, and do, say is, "You realise there is no freedom of worship in Eastern Europe; you realise that the people are starving in Eastern Europe, and you must realise that these conditions will come to this country one day unless we go to war. Therefore, you must go to war while there is a chance of winning it."
That is the reason behind this propaganda. I have been to Eastern Europe 505 and I am not prepared to agree with everything that is done there. On the contrary, I have my criticisms, but one thing I am certain about is that I can see no reason whatever either for war preparations or for going to war. May I give one small illustration of life behind this so-called Iron Curtain?—and with this I shall complete my speech. One night I returned unexpectedly to my hotel in Bucharest. I should like right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to know that I paid for my own hotel expenses and that I paid for my own journey there and back. I was glad to accept, and am always glad to accept, hospitality.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)
Has the hon. Gentleman any interest to declare in this?
§ Mr. Solley
Yes, I have an interest in establishing a different objective from that of some of the visitors who go there under Government auspices. However, as I was saying, I returned to my hotel—
§ Mr. Solley
I have no interest except to see that the truth is reported. When I returned to my hotel, the Athenée Palace Hotel in Bucharest, I found that there was a banquet taking place—a banquet behind the Iron Curtain. I made inquiries and discovered that it was being held by the Bucharest branch of the Waiters' Trade Union. They were celebrating the second Confederation of the Union of Food Industries. I was invited to participate, which I did very gladly. Whatever criticism I, as an Englishman, might have of the lack of some of the democratic features, which by virtue of our historical tradition I had become accustomed to and had come to value, here were waiters dining at the Claridge's of the Balkans. It seems to me that while this may disagree with the ideas of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, the incident which I have described is symbolic of the revolutionary changes which are taking place in Eastern Europe. It is certainly no reason why we should 506 go to war against the workers of Roumania or the workers of Europe generally.
I should like to conclude by making a short reference to Greece, which has been mentioned in this Debate. I was in Greece on May Day, 1946, immediately after the forced general election. At that time there was no guerrilla movement. On the contrary, there was a façade of democracy, and beneath this façade Liberals, including Liberal senators, Social Democrats, Communists and trade unionists, were being assaulted, beaten up, murdered, and falsely imprisoned. To my astonishment they were saying, "We do not want to answer back, because that will mean civil war." They told me that they still had hopes that this dreadful situation could be saved by peaceful means. Now we are told, and rightly, that Greece is the subject of intervention. Of course, it is—intervention by the United States of America, and, unfortunately, to our great regret on this side of the House, active intervention at some stage by our own country. If there is a liberation, a resistance, a guerrilla movement in Greece today, it is a direct consequence of the Fascist Government which Greece has not changed. If that is the sort of Government which the Opposition would like to have, if they would like to turn all Europe into a huge Greece, that is another reason why I would oppose that particular policy.
Mr. Vane (Westmorland)
Does the hon. Gentleman remember that shortly after he and two of his hon. Friends went to Greece under the auspices of Mr. Sophonopoulos and the League for Democracy in Greece—which is closely associated with the Communist Party—and produced a pamphlet which nobody can describe as very factual, that an all-party delegation went from this House and reached very different conclusions? I, as one Member of that delegation, can remember that time and time again we met people who were not themselves neo-Fascists, who told us that they hoped we would take a little more trouble than the three Members who preceded us to try to find out what had happened.
§ Mr. Solley
Of course, it is classical political history that a report produced by Fascists is a Fascist report, that a 507 report produced by Conservatives is a Conservative report, and that a report produced by Socialists is a Socialist report. I will admit immediately that I cannot be objective because I am a Socialist, and I do not want to have the sort of objective which hon. Members on the other side of the House seem to admire.
§ Mr. Vanerose—
§ Mr. Solley
The hon. Gentleman must permit me to answer his first intervention before he has a second go. I will admit my prejudice. It is a prejudice against Fascism, and if the hon. Gentleman read that prejudice into my report, I am indeed proud that the report indicated it. I cannot speak for his experiences; I can only speak for myself and my two hon. Friends who went with me. I am quite convinced, from what I saw, that Greece, as I have already described, had a Fascist Government acting under a facade of democracy.
The hon. Member seems to think I was referring to a Conservative delegation which produced what he has referred to as a Conservative report. I would point out that the leader of that delegation was the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), and the report produced certainly did not discover that the Greek Government was a form of Fascist Government. If there was any trace of suspicion of that, I should have thought the hon. Member for Broxtowe would have seen it.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
May I be allowed to remind hon. Members that in that all-party report there was a pretty severe condemnation of the administration of justice in Greece and also an admission that persecution of the Left had been greater than persecution of the Right?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am not quite clear what the hon. Member is talking about. I think the delegation went to Greece in 1946. We are now in 1949. Let us confine ourselves to 1949.
§ Mr. Solley
What I was saying was that in 1946 there was no guerrilla movement, but active intervention from outside. To suggest today that the guerrilla movement is the result of Soviet or out- 508 side influence seems to me to be a travesty of the facts.
Whatever views one may have about the nature of the Governments in Eastern Europe—and in many respects one can seriously criticise some of the things they have done—nevertheless, in the last analysis, approaching this problem from the point of view of historical perspective and making allowance for the fact that we cannot expect our particular brand of democracy to be transplanted to the soil of Eastern Europe, which has a completely different historical heritage, and making allowance for the fact that merely because they have attempted to achieve their revolution in a way which may well have been different from that in our particular historical heritage, I say that to call for war in the terms we have heard today from the Opposition is a disgraceful thing in 1949. If they have no better case to make than that we should prepare to go to war because we do not like the waiters of Bucharest sitting down at the Claridge's of Bucharest, then they should find a better policy.
§ 10.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
At this late hour the House has suddenly turned its attention to Christianity. I therefore make no apology for trying to apply the ethics and the principles of Christianity to the foreign policy of this country. I remember that, when the Minister of State began his career as a prospective minister of the Church of Scotland, he obtained a great deal of publicity by taking part in a debate in Glasgow University on the theme "We must not fight." I only wish that the right hon. Gentleman had continued on those lines. I wish that in recent international conferences the Minister of State had applied his early principles of Christianity to international affairs.
I do not see why hon. Members should treat so superciliously the Christian attitude towards war. I want to use this opportunity to preach the ethics and the philosophy of one section of the Christian movement, the Society of Friends I believe that if this House had listened to the Quaker point of view on international affairs and had listened during the last 25 years or so to the arguments and the philosophy put forward by the Quakers, we would not have reached the impasse 509 in international affairs that we have reached today.
I have listened to every speech in this Debate very carefully and I suggest to the House that we should hear more of the note that was introduced into the Debate by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg). People say that Christianity has failed. I remember reading in Bernard Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion" that it was not Christianity that had failed, because Christianity had never been tried. I want to see this House of Commons, which opens its proceedings with Christian prayers every day, apply the principles of the Sermon on the Mount to our international affairs. When we do that, we will begin to find the way out of the dilemma that faces us.
This afternoon we listened to speech after speech telling us that our foreign policy for the last 25 years had solved nothing. For six years we fought the Germans, and all the arguments this afternoon have been to the effect that, after we have destroyed the Germans and have brought in the non-Christian Russians to help us in that task, we have now got to rebuild Germany—so that the whole policy we have followed during the past ten years has been somehow wrong.
Let us see where our present policy is leading us. There is the Atlantic Pact. The argument of the Foreign Secretary is that this Pact will lead us into the paths of peace. His argument, and that of hon. Members on the Opposition side, is that the more we build up our arms the more likely is it to make Russia afraid of us. I challenge completely the theory of the remark that the more we prepare for war the more likely are we to get peace. The whole of the history of the last 50 years has shown that to be a complete fallacy. We are going the same old road again. We are preparing for war, and I regret very much to say that we are doing so under the aegis of a Socialist Government.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
If the hon. Member had been here during the last week or so, he would have known that we were preparing for—
§ Mr. McKinlay
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to accuse an hon. Member of being 510 absent for the last week when, in fact, he has not been absent since the Session began?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
As a matter of fact, I made no reflection on the hon. Member, because I did not know from whom the interruption came. I did not recognise it was from my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay). If hon. Members had paid attention to the Debates we have been having during the last few weeks, they would realise that we are spending £750 million on preparation for war, and that this year we budgeted for £105 million more for war than we did last year. If that is the policy which is to be followed, we shall be faced year after year with a steady increase in our budget for arms, and this armaments race will end in the impoverishment of the great majority of the people of this country, while our economy is going to be devoted to the production of armaments instead of the production of consumption goods.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday there was a meeting in Paris attended by the various Foreign Ministers and the Finance Ministers. I have read in the columns of a very influential and usually reliable Scottish newspaper that at this conference the United States Government presented this proposition, that Great Britain must agree not only to spend this amount, but must be prepared to step up her bill for armaments. I noticed with a great deal of interest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on behalf of Great Britain, protested very vigorously against this new proposition from the Government of the United States. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to continue to protest. I hope that face to face with the economic impasse that confronts us and with the steady increase of the burden of armaments that is to be placed on the shoulders of the working classes of this country, he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Labour Government, will take up the same attitude towards increased expenditure on armaments as Lord Randolph Churchill did many years ago.
What is to be our attitude to the Soviet Union? We have heard the term "fellow traveller" bandied about this afternoon. I do not know precisely what 511 a fellow traveller is. I am not a Communist; I have never been a Communist, and I repudiate completely the philosophy and ideology of the Communist Party inasmuch as it means the dictatorship of violence and the dictatorship of the proletariat. I do not accept that at all, but we must try to understand how the Soviet Union came to have this philosophy and its totalitarian point of view.
I heard the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs over the wireless last Friday talking about the peace-loving nations, and he seemed to assume that the peace-loving nations were merely the nations that were going to be combined in the Atlantic Pact. I believe that the Russian people are just as much peace-loving as we are, and if we are going to adopt the humanitarian attitude we are adopting to the people of Berlin—and it has been stressed in this Debate that the airlift is a great humanitarian gesture—then we have got to carry it a little further. If we are going to act in a humanitarian way to the people of Berlin, and take them food and prevent them from dying of starvation, then I do not see how we can take up a different attitude to the people of Moscow and be prepared to make war on them.
After all, it is not likely that Stalin and his oligarchy are going to be the first to suffer in the event of a war. If atom bombs are to be dropped on Russia, they will be dropped on the civilian population. They will be dropped presumably on Moscow, Leningrad, Odessa, and the oilfields of the Caucasus. So we are going to inflict misery on hundreds of thousands of innocent people who are not the cause of the war at all.
What happened in Japan? In the current number of the newspaper "Time" will be found an article on the effect of the atom bomb on Nagasaki. We are told that over 25,000 people were killed and 91,000 were injured. I presume that is the kind of war that will be carried out under the auspices of Britain and America if war unfortunately comes, and I suggest to the House that if we are prepared to be humanitarian to the people we fought for six years, if we are prepared to say to the people of Berlin that we are now prepared to treat them as decent human beings, we should take 512 precisely that attitude to the people on whose side we fought, and who were our allies for four years.
I cannot understand any hon. Member arguing that this is to be a war of Marxism against Christianity, and that we are on the side of Christianity. I cannot reconcile Christianity and the atomic bomb. It is impossible to do so. In various Debates hon. Members have talked about their humanitarian feelings. They have talked about analgesia in childbirth, and relieving the suffering of women in childbirth; but at the same time they are prepared to drop atomic bombs on cities containing maternity hospitals.
The determination to keep out of war altogether should be made the keystone of foreign policy. I do not believe that a war against Communism will suppress totalitarian Communism. That only developed in the Soviet Union as a result of the stress and strain of war. It was the Russians who first decided on peace in the First World War. It was the Russion soldiers who came home from the trenches to Leningrad and Moscow and made the revolution—not any Bolshevik organisation. The Russian people are as peace-loving as we are, and I suggest that we are going entirely the wrong way if we frame our foreign policy on the assumption that we are going to organise our resources to carry on a war against the Soviet Union.
I have seen the people of the Soviet Union, and I have seen the people of the United States. I have talked to both. I disagree with the Governments of both countries. But I believe there is a sincere feeling in America and in Russia, and in the Eastern countries of Europe, against the possibility of another war. So I end as I began, by saying that if we apply the ethics of Christianity and the Sermon on the Mount to international affairs, we shall begin to find a way out. I believe that the Society of Friends, who have repudiated violence, have shown us the way. In our foreign policy we should turn towards the real ethics of Christianity, and abandon the old theory of violence in international affairs.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.