§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. William Whiteley.]
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
The statement that I have to make today is rather in the nature of a report on developments since I last spoke to the House in July. This period has been a very active period in the sphere of international affairs. There have been a large number of conferences and meetings, all of which have a bearing on one another and on the evolution of the problems we are attempting to deal with.
It would be well if I first recited the conferences that have taken place during this period. In July, as a result of our financial difficulties, we had the financial talks with the United States and Canada in London, which were attended by Mr. Snyder and Mr. Abbott. There followed the meetings in London of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers. Then in August we had the Council of Europe at Strasbourg. At the beginning of September we had the Washington tripartite financial talks between this country, the United States and Canada.
They were followed by talks on various foreign political problems with Mr. Acheson and Mr. Schuman. We also had the meeting of the Atlantic Pact Foreign Ministers in Washington, followed by the meeting of the Defence Ministers, leading to the setting up of the machinery of the Atlantic Pact and the Military Supply Board. At about the same time there was the opening of the United Nations' Assembly, at which I was present and where I had many discussions with other Foreign Ministers and informal meetings with members of the Council of Foreign Ministers in connection with the Austrian Treaty.
I then proceeded to Canada and had discussions with the Canadian Prime Minister and other Ministers. At the end of October there was the Ministerial meeting in Paris of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, which was attended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Immediately afterwards I attended the Committee of Ministers for 2204 the setting up of the Council of Europe. This was followed by the Consultative Council of Brussels Treaty and the tripartite talks on Germany with Mr. Acheson and Mr. Truman during the past weeks. We have now accepted an invitation to a conference of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers in Colombo in January, and I hope to be able to lead the United Kingdom Delegation.
I mention these conferences because it is significant that the United Kingdom was concerned in all these meetings and was indeed the only country which was present at all of them. At these conferences the interest of three great sectors of the free world was covered, and they are all inter-related. There was the Commonwealth, North America and Europe, and the problems arising out of each had to be dealt with; and the United Kingdom, not only now but always, will have to reconcile its responsibilities to all three; we cannot isolate ourselves from any of them. In addition, of course, we have our overriding obligations to the United Nations.
In reviewing what was done at these conferences I should like to call attention to the fact that, at the meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers every problem was discussed freely and frankly affecting the economic and financial position as it affected the whole area, and they succeeded in taking common decisions on how to act in dealing with that crisis. It is well known that in addition to these there is, of course, constant day-to-day consultation and collaboration with all the Commonwealth Governments on foreign affairs, and I think I can claim that the machinery of consultation in these matters is as perfect as we can make it; no information is withheld which should pass between the members of our Commonwealth.
It is significant that the coming conference of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers, which was agreed some time ago when the Prime Ministers were in London, and which I have already mentioned, is to be held at Colombo, the capital of one of the new Commonwealth countries. I do not propose today to go into the problems of the Far East; I do not want to be discursive; but I think the House will appreciate that that conference at which all the problems of 2205 Asia will be dealt with, will be a very important conference indeed. No doubt there will be opportunities later on to be able to report the results of the exchanges of views.
I think it is significant to note that this Commonwealth of ours is perhaps the greatest unifying force which draws together Asia and the West. It is the one great instrument with such ties. With all the constitutional changes and with all the economic problems of the sterling area, it holds together. I felt it was wise to call attention to the fact that, so far as we are concerned, there is no Western and Eastern division: there is a common unity in this Commonwealth between East and West which we shall do our best at all times to maintain.
With regard to the problems of North America, there is one thing which has been very disturbing since the close of the war—indeed, one can say it has been disturbing for years; sooner or later we knew it would come to a head—I mean the lack of equilibrium in the financial and economic field between the dollar and the sterling areas. Unless this problem can be solved it may tend to undermine all the political efforts we make for peace. It is not a problem that can be solved unilaterally; we have to find a common solution.
As Foreign Secretary, I confess that I have always had a dread of three systems in the world as being a positive danger to peace. We have the autarchy of the Slavs—there it is; it is their point of view and we have to write it off as being their system. But in the West, in the friendly countries throughout the world, if a common solution could not be found it seemed that we must break up the sterling area, or have a dollar area and a sterling area in conflict, with the problem of settling foreign affairs intensified in consequence. I had a long discussion on the whole problem with our American and Canadian friends, first with Mr. Snyder and then with Mr. Abbott, when they came to London. It was agreed not to confine discussion purely to the finance problem, but to take it up on the political level and examine every action we might take, not only in its financial repercussions, but in its political repercussions as well. It was that which led us to the tripartite discussions in Washington which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I attended.
2206 At that conference we had a very full and frank discussion, not only over our problems, but over their problems as well. Let me deal with just one aspect. It is said, rather easily, that there is a great market for British goods in America, and that this conflict between America and Britain can be solved if only we sell at the right prices and do the right thing. I think that is an over-simplification. I had to tell them quite frankly that no one, as a trade union official, had made more speeches in the old days than I had urging employers in this country to turn their backs on America because it was a protectionist country. I told them that I always urged the employers with whom I dealt to look elsewhere for markets, and not merely to hang on to something which obviously was lost. I think it is true to say that merchants, employers and everyone else realised that, right from the McKinley tariffs of 1890 to the Hawley-Smoot tariffs of a few years ago.
I had to argue that we could not suddenly turn all our people back on to a market where they had no security. I could imagine, sitting among my old friends and arguing that they should do this, how they would look at me and say, "What about the markets we have got? If we are now going to divert from these markets, how long will it be before the pressure group arises and we are out of the American market again? Where shall we be then?" I am not saying this in any spirit of criticism, but I think it is much better to face the issue. The situation is that we cannot keep our economy going without the cotton, nonferrous metals, tobacco and various other things which we must have from the Western Hemisphere.
We had to explain that we did not want Marshall Aid after 1952 but that we wanted to be able to turn our people on to work to sell goods in America to pay for what we needed. We told them that they must let us sell our goods, and that they must adjust their tariffs and make arrangements to allow that to happen. It is to America's gain that they should do so, and they are beginning to think so now. If we read the speech Mr. Dean Acheson made the other day in the campaign that has been inaugurated in America, it will be seen that there is a great change. He says, speaking of America's favourable 2207 balance of payments, that it is not a balance, and that it is not favourable. Those are two very significant phrases for an American statesman to make.
At Washington we set up a continuing organisation, because the answer cannot be got in five or six days. This is a continuing problem; we must go on examining it and deal with the new problems that arise from time to time. I am glad to say that this work which was inaugurated at Washington is going on satisfactorily. I do not expect a solution of the problem immediately—
§ Mr. Bevin
Discussions are still going on. All I want to say is that apart from politics, parties or the trade unions—this is a question of stability for the nation—I am concerned with its equilibrium and with the removal of the kind of things that unnecessarily disturb foreign relations. I appeal to employers, manufacturers and trade unions to face the new situation which is arising in the United States and develop a great export drive in that area. I think the chance is there. It can be done, as far as I can see, without any very great disturbance either of the sterling area or of the home market. It needs better organisation, extra work and effort, and keeping costs right. There never was a better chance than there is now for this country to establish an equilibrium as between the Western Hemisphere and ourselves and Europe. The amount is small—about 9 billion dollars per annum—that America must absorb to let Europe buy all she wants in raw materials and to end the post-war difficulties.
Now may I turn to Europe? The House will be conversant with the successful inauguration of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, in August. I cannot, in the time at my disposal, give a detailed account of the recent meeting of the Committee of Ministers, in Paris, but 2208 we met from 3rd November to 5th November. We had very many problems to deal with, but I am very glad to report that throughout the meetings the representatives of 12 free Parliamentary democracies which belong to the Council did not have to take a single vote. They had to take decisions on several important problems dealing with European policy, but at the end of the discussions they were able to arrive at unanimity. I think it augurs well for the Committee of Ministers, which now represents such a wide area of Europe.
I am sure that the bringing together of this Committee of Ministers will prove vital to the unity of Europe. They represent their Governments and as time goes on they will, I am certain, increasingly take decisions on many matters of common European interest. In making this statement I do not wish to be derogatory to the Assembly, which has a different function to perform. The Ministers themselves, being responsible representatives of their Governments, will from time to time have matters referred to them on which decisions have to be taken.
I will not weary the House with a detailed report of the conclusions reached at this meeting on every matter that was referred to the Committee of Ministers by the Assembly, but will limit myself to dealing with the most important matters that confronted us. If the House wishes there will be a White Paper later, dealing with all the decisions. It would take too long to go through every detail that was put before us but—
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that there will be a White Paper?
§ Mr. Bevin
That can be discussed through the usual channels; I have no objection.
The really important question which confronted us was the admission of Germany as an associate member of the Council. We also had to deal with the question of the admission of the Saar, which was of special concern to the French. But first let me say a word or two about the handling of this German problem. I beg the House to be very moderate in dealing with it. We have bitter memories of the 1914–18 war and what happened subsequently, and the 2209 feeling is probably much deeper in France than it is here. In discussing this problem—it is one about which I hope there will be no party controversy at all—we have, in every step we take, to act with care and see that we do not build up for ourselves another problem in Europe. I try to the best of my ability—in spite of all my feelings, and I do not disguise them from the House—and as the representative of this country, to be just in dealing with this matter. But I am not sentimental, and I do not think it is wise to be at one minute laudatory and the next forget those who suffered from the treatment we have had to undergo during the last 30 years.
We realise that in building the peace of the new Europe we have the worries of France and Belgium and our own worries, too; on the other hand, we want to pursue a policy which will result in integrating the German population with the rest of Europe in a manner that will not be dominating but co-operative. When this problem had to be discussed in Washington in April, we drafted an occupation statute; we devised means of creating a German federal republic; and we arranged a transfer of powers from the military government to the High Commissioners. That worked out, in time, with remarkable precision.
We could not take a final decision to admit Germany to the Council, first of all because the United States is an occupying Power, and we had to consult her; and also because we were anxious to consult the Permanent Committee of the Assembly and get their views. There was a suggestion that we should have a special Assembly, but I do not think that that is necessary. I think the device by which the Committee of Ministers could consult the Permanent Committee of the Assembly and get their views, was the correct one. At our next meeting we shall have the further development before us, and I have no doubt that we shall be able to arrive at a decision to admit Germany to the Council of Europe. There was also the question of the admission of the Saar to the Council of Europe, about which the French were anxious, as it was nowhere represented. We arrived at a conclusion on this point as well.
The European Assembly raised a very important point which I want to deal with 2210 now. They proposed that new admissions to the Council should be made conditional on their receiving a majority vote in the Consultative Assembly. We could not agree to this proposal; it really hands the foreign affairs of a country over to an assembly of individuals, and that cannot be accepted. In the United Nations delegates to the Security Council are under Government instruction. We cannot admit a country to an assembly of the character of the Consultative Assembly without encroaching on Government responsibility in that field, and I ask the House to support that. We are willing to consult, get advice, hear views and get opinions, but beyond that we cannot go. We are responsible to our Parliaments and our Governments, and I hope that that will be accepted. As I have already said, we have no desire to disregard their opinions.
With regard to the Council of Europe, we are anxious to make the institution work and work satisfactorily, but I must confess there seems to be a tendency on the part of the Assembly to introduce the parliamentary methods of individual countries into the Council of Europe and set up an opposition to the Committee of Ministers as though the Ministers were all of one party. I can assure the House we are not. We are just Ministers from all parties in Europe, and I do not think there need be any antagonism between the Assembly and the Ministers at all. It is new, and it will settle down to the problem of discussion.
There is one matter on which I must assert the Government's right, and that is the delegates wanted to have meetings when they liked, where they liked, as continuous as they liked, and have the Government to pay. Treasury authority cannot be handed over in that way, and some arrangement might be arrived at between them as to what ought to be done. On that footing I must really draw the line, and no Government could do otherwise. Subject to that, I think all the problems can be satisfactorily dealt with. If there are disagreements in their Parliaments, it is very unwise for the delegations to carry them to Strasbourg. It is far better for them to operate on a basis of trying to get all-round European unity.
We move from the Council of Europe to the Brussels Consultative Council. It 2211 seems to be a bit of a conglomeration but it had to grow this way and it could not be done any other way. We had the Brussels Treaty and we have to work where we can. This Brussels Treaty has done good work. Turning, firstly, to the cultural side, I am glad to note that it was possible for us to sign an agreement between the Five Powers covering reciprocal arrangements for social security and medical assistance. This may not affect this country so much, but if we can bring that convention to the 12 countries it will be the biggest contribution to the mobility of manpower in Europe. It will materially assist Italy with her unemployed, as well as other countries, to get that distribution of manpower that is so essential.
The work of the social and cultural committee has been fully reported in the Press. One other thing I ought to mention to the House is that we attach great importance to the work of the health committee in arranging for common health control over sea and air transport. This mobility of service to the world is very important. On the social and cultural side, when we reach a point at which the 12 countries will be willing to tackle this branch of the work it will be possible to rationalise it and pass it on to the Council of Europe and to the Committee of Ministers.
About defence I said we had had a very thorough review of present and pending military expenses for Western Union defence. This will be examined by the Ministers of Finance in a few days, but the Brussels Powers have developed a close knit organisation under the Treaty, and our Continental friends are very anxious for an assurance on the point that we will do nothing to weaken the organism that has been created under that Treaty. I can assure the House that we readily gave the assurances. What we now have to do is gradually to work this Brussels military organisation into the Atlantic Treaty, so that again we can rationalise the process and develop one great organism.
In doing it there is a great anxiety, particularly in France, and what I have said to the French Ministers is, "Well, this country played its part in 1914–18 beside France; it played its part in 1939–45 until the liberation. Why doubt 2212 us now? We are with you, and we shall be with you. If there are details in the military organisation which you have to argue out that is one thing, but on our solidarity you have no ground at all for questioning our sincerity." I say that now to the French overseas. The Brussels pact has fulfilled a very useful purpose, and all its work and its accumulations of information can be available for the rest of Europe.
Turning back to Germany; as I have said we had our meetings with M. Schumann and Mr. Acheson in Washington, when we decided that we would watch events and review the position at an appropriate moment. The House will recollect how failure of the Four-Power Agreement in 1947 led us to work out a joint policy for the three Western zones and a general agreement was reached in July, 1948. The detailed agreement in Washington I have already referred to and it covered the following points: basic law; the constitution; the occupation statute; the tripartite control agreements; the Ruhr authority; the military security board; reparations; and prohibited and limited industries. In other words, we were endeavouring to build a state and at the same time retain enough control to give security to the Allies, enable the country to get on its feet and satisfy ourselves that it was democratic.
We established a High Commission, and a German Federal Republic was established in Bonn in September. His Majesty's Government, reviewing this situation, felt we had reached the stage when a new chapter should be opened and another policy or a continuing policy should be evolved in the next period right up to the end of the Occupation Statute, which is about a year from now. We communicated with the French and the United States—M. Schumann and Mr. Acheson readily accepted the proposals—and expressed a desire to meet in Paris. I should like to pay my tribute to the very ready response of Mr. Dean Acheson to fly over and take part in this conference at such short notice.
The whole discussion proceeded in an atmosphere of friendly confidence. There were many difficulties. In the end we agreed on the text of a directive to the Allied High Commissioners, which was designed to enable them to engage in discussions with the German Government 2213 over a very wide field. Accordingly, the High Commissioners met the Federal Chancellor on 15th November, and a second meeting is being held today. We had to take certain decisions with regard to the Occupation Statute. We came to the conclusion that we would not review it until the end of the agreed period, but we felt that there were many other questions which could be dealt with under it. These included: German membership of international organisations; the establishment of German consular representation abroad; the German attitude to the International Ruhr Authority and the Military Security Board; reparations; dismantling, and the conditions under which German shipbuilding could be resumed.
Subject to a satisfactory agreement on other points, we contemplated some modification of the dismantling programme, but I must say that in all the evidence that I saw, on pure economic grounds, particularly on the steel side, there was not much of a case presented. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] No, there was not much of a case. We were told in the end the old story; when you have no other argument, you say "It's psychological." That is a very good get-out, but on that I was not impressed.
§ Mr. Bevin
They are not operating even the amount allowed now. They have cut it back themselves. There are 11.2 million tons allowed and there is a capacity of 13½ to do it. They have cut back production to 9. They are asking, on psychological grounds, for 16 million tons capacity. Anyhow, I will not argue it. It has gone to the High Commissioners. All I say is: Do not be taken in by propaganda. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Or by prejudice, either. Therefore, we said we would slow down on some of these plants, but there are a large number of other plants which are still being dismantled.
I hope that the House will support us. Under no circumstances will we give way on war plants or that type of thing. In dealing with this problem we have to remember the very great anxieties shown by France. It is quite easy for us, but it is very difficult to get agreement. We want assurances on security. We want the 2214 economy of Germany to be put on a proper footing to play her part in an integrated European economy. We want all that, but we want to be sure that the security side is properly looked after.
I cannot go any further today into the directive, because it was agreed not to publish any more while these delicate negotiations were being conducted by the High Commissioners. I undertake to the House that as soon as these negotiations are through, I will publish a White Paper on the whole business and leave it to the House. I am sure that the House will support the High Commissioners in this very delicate matter. We are not imposing a diktat. We are talking the thing over and we are trying to see whether understandings can be arrived at, and, in that spirit, to produce a better result than we did before.
In general therefore our chief aim, since the breakdown of the Four Power collaboration in Europe, has been to consolidate and revive Europe, maintain liberty, try to restore morale and mutual confidence and—what I am sure the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) will be glad of—to arrest the spread of Communism amongst us. We want to bring about a sound relationship between Europe, the Commonwealth and the United States of America. We do not want a wedge to be driven between any of them, if we can help it. In that way, and in addition to what I said at the beginning about the establishment of commercial and financial equilibrium, we are aiming to establish one free world. That is the object of our policy. In this, the United Kingdom is playing her full part.
There has been a lot of misunderstanding and propaganda on the Continent and elsewhere about our real attitude. Recent developments made it necessary that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be instructed to make a statement at the O.E.E.C. so as to remove any misunderstanding about our relationship towards Europe and the Commonwealth. I think I had better read to the House what he said. The quotation is as follows:We have made it clear from the beginning that our task was to try to combine our responsibilities and interests as a leading member of the Commonwealth and of the sterling area with support for the development of unity in Europe. This is not an easy task, 2215 for we must make it clear that our relationship with the Commonwealth and sterling area is not a limited one, but spreads into North America through our association with Canada, into Asia, Africa and Australasia, in which Continents the foreign trade is predominantly carried through in sterling.Our position therefore is such that we could not 'integrate' our economy into that of Europe in any manner that would prejudice the full discharge of these other responsibilities that I have mentioned.Yet, at the same time, we regard ourselves as bound up with Western Europe, not only in the economic terms and in political and strategic interests, but in our culture and, indeed, in our participation in the heritage of Christian civilisation.That is the spirit, and in that spirit we have from the beginning, from the day Mr. Marshall made his speech, taken the lead in the organisation of European co-operation. Our position I think is now quite clear and understood both by the Governments in Europe and by the United States. All appreciate that we intend to co-operate fully with our European friends in working out a practical solution of our economic problems. In this connection we took the lead in working out and submitting proposals for the liberalisation of trade.
The only other matter I want to mention now—I am sorry to keep the House so long—is the Atlantic Pact. It is only a few months since the Atlantic Pact came into force, but the complicated machinery of the defence system is taking shape. A vast, fictitious peace campaign has been designed, to persuade the peace-loving peoples of the Atlantic area that their determination to stand against aggression was really warmongering.
Nobody capable of independent thought has been convinced that the Atlantic Pact is an offensive instrument. We are working hard to try to make it a success. We are conscious of the defeatist elements in Western Union which have thought to cast doubt on our attitude and intentions, but I am glad to say that this does not apply to any responsible statesman holding office in Europe. As I have said, we have given evidence of our allegiance throughout the whole development of this Western Union policy.
I should like to acknowledge that it has been very happy for me as Foreign Minister here during these past four years to work with M. Bidault and M. Schumann. No one could have been 2216 more co-operative in their respective terms of office than they have been. They have never allowed themselves to be affected by doubts and suspicions. I would say that their approach to all these problems is that of great Europeans. Also I remember the Dunkirk Treaty, and although our old friend M. Blum was only in office for a few weeks, he took the necessary steps to get that proceeded with very promptly.
With regard to Italy, there has been trouble in relation to the Italian colonies. I hope that will soon be settled. We do not underestimate the task of Signor De Gasperi and his government in rehabilitating Italy and restoring her position as a leading democracy, and we wish them well. In regard to the question of Belgium, there has been considerable difficulty about the commercial problem, but M. van Zeeland will be here tomorrow, I think, discussing this matter, and I hope that will also be settled.
In conclusion, there is one matter I should like to mention before I sit down, and that is that I think the House will join in an expression of satisfaction that The Hague Round-table Conference on Indonesia has been brought to a successful conclusion. It looked very ugly between Europe and South East Asia. It will lead to the transfer of sovereignty to the Indonesian Republic whilst preserving a link with the Dutch Crown. I think the delegates and the representatives of The Hague Government, the Netherlands Ministers, the Indonesian delegates and the United Nations Commission are to be congratulated on their efforts. It has been a great pleasure to work with Mr. Stikker, the Foreign Secretary, in this as in so many other problems.
Since 1947 we have had a difficult task. It looked as if France would be disrupted and as if Italy would be disrupted and as if it would be difficult to hold the German position, but the coming of the Brussels Treaty, the solidarity of Western Europe and the Atlantic Pact stopped the onward rush of destructive forces, and those things have consolidated not only the outlook but the effort of millions of people throughout the world. I am glad now to feel that as a result of the steps we have taken people can breathe more freely and with greater confidence than they could before.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
Before I come to the matter of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, it is my duty to clear up a matter upon which I was misinformed at our last foreign affairs Debate in July. The right hon. Gentleman introduced into the Debate as a controversial issue the question of responsibility for the introduction for the term "unconditional surrender" into our policy in the war-time conference at Casablanca. It seemed to me that he cast some of the responsibility on me for the use of that phrase. He seemed to complain that the Cabinet had not been consulted, and he asserted his inveterate opposition to the idea. It had left him, he said, with nothing but a shambles to deal with in Germany—the House will remember the occasion—and from this arose many of the difficulties of his task. This was, of course, the exact opposite of what he had said 18 months before when—and I entirely agree with him—he said that he did not think unconditional surrender had played an important part in the conditions in which the war was brought to an end.
The right hon. Gentleman raised this matter without giving me any notice, and on the spur of the moment I said that the first time I heard the words "unconditional surrender"—in regard, of course, to the late war—was when the President used them in his speech to the Press Conference at Casablanca. This was the impression which had been left in my mind and which I had expressed to Mr. Robert Sherwood three years before when he raised the point with me in connection with his biography of Mr. Harry Hopkins. This impression was confirmed in my mind by what President Roosevelt said himself on the point, which is quoted in the Hopkins' biography. This is the quotation:Suddenly the Press Conference was on, and Winston and I had no time to prepare for it, and the thought popped into my mind that they had called Grant 'Old Unconditional Surrender,' and the next thing I knew, I had said it.However, there is great danger in quoting, from memory when all these things crop up about the tumultuous past. We all remember the advice which the aged tutor gave to his disciples and followers on his deathbed when they came to him—"Verify your quotations." At 2218 any rate, I have now looked up the telegrams and records of the occasion, and I find that undoubtedly the words "unconditional surrender" were mentioned, probably in informal talks, I think at meal times, between the President and me. At any rate, on 19th January, 1942, five days before the end of the Conference, I sent the present Prime Minister, then the Deputy Prime Minister, the following message as part of a long telegram on other matters:We propose to draw up a statement of the work of the conference for communication to the Press at the proper time. I should be glad to know what the War Cabinet would think of our including in this statement a declaration of the firm intention of the United States and the British Empire to continue the war relentlessly until we have brought about the 'unconditional surrender' of Germany and Japan. The omission of Italy would be to encourage a break-up there. The President liked this idea, and it would stimulate our friends in every country.To which the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden)—he is not here today; he is absent in his constituency, as many hon. Members have to be in present circumstances—replied on the 21st:The Cabinet were unanimously of opinion that balance of advantage lay against excluding Italy because of misgivings which would inevitably be aroused in Turkey, in the Balkans and elsewhere. Nor are we convinced that effect on Italians would be good. Knowledge of rough stuff coming to them is surely more likely to have desired effect on Italian morale.It is clear, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken, I have no doubt quite innocently—and I was in my own way, though not in such an important aspect—in saying that the Cabinet had not been consulted. They not only had been consulted but had expressed a very decided opinion. Also, I think he was mistaken in saying that he was not a party to that opinion before President Roosevelt's speech was given to the Press.
It will be seen that the opinion of the Cabinet was not against the policy of unconditional surrender. They only disapproved of it not being applied to Italy as well. I did not want this, because I hoped—and the hope has not been unfulfilled—that Italy, freed from Mussolini's dictatorship, might fight on our side, which she did for several years of the war, with lasting beneficial results 2219 to the state of Europe. I have the strong feeling that I cooled off on the point because I did not want to bring Italy into this sphere; and I thought that that would influence the President, too. This is borne out by the agreed communiqué which was drafted by the Combined Chiefs of Staff and approved by both of us, and which contains no mention of unconditional surrender.
As the issue was raised in debate by the right hon. Gentleman in his very responsible position, and as my own memory was at fault on the subject, I felt it my duty to place the true facts on record in the journals of the House if only in justice to the memory of President Roosevelt. I apologise for this digression which I think was necessitated by what had already occurred in the House.
I now come to the review of the spacious European scene which the right hon. Gentleman has given us in, I might almost say, dulcet tones—at any rate, in a manner which seems to leave it free from all atmosphere of urgency or danger. I will begin with this question of Germany and German dismantlement. We all admire the work which has been done since the war in the British zone in Germany. It has been a great achievement into which, as in the American zone, an immense fund of personal devotion has gone. We have also spent large quantities of British money which we could not properly afford, in enabling our enemies of yesterday to recover after the shattering conditions of defeat, and they have made a very remarkable recovery in many ways. The success of the Air Lift into Berlin, where the Allies were trying to feed the German people, and the Soviet Government were trying to starve them—
§ Mr. Churchill
—was a famous event.
What a pity it is that the right hon. Gentleman should mar, as I think he has to some extent marred, these sacrifices and achievements by errors which arise from smaller facts and lesser considerations. I cannot speak, of course, now about the trial of German generals four and a half years after the Armistice, because that is at present sub judice, but on this side of the House for two years past we have steadily drawn attention to 2220 the unwisdom of belated dismantlement. Yet this is what the Foreign Secretary has pursued with astonishing perseverance. It is impossible to reconcile his insistence upon belated dismantlement with the policy which he also supported of free elections in Western Germany.
To bring on the elections and then feed the fires which burn at such times with all this fuel of dismantlement, is an act which cannot be explained by any wise or rational process. To persist in belated dismantlement—after all, the great bulk of it has already been completed—and at the same time to give the German people full freedom to say what they thought about it as an election issue, was to authorise and stimulate every force in Germany hostile to the Western democracies to give full vent to their passions. There was something to be said for finishing up dismantlement; there were serious arguments, certainly. Security against future perils must always be in our minds, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is not excluded from my mind by mere sentiment.
There was something to be said for finishing up dismantlement. There was much also to be said for German self-government, but no human being can find anything in reason to say for the combination and the exact timing of the two processes. It was, I say, a grotesque piece of mismanagement. Now that the harm is largely done, we are to have a new set of proposals probably going half way or a third of the way, and these are soon to be put before us. There is not an argument for stopping or mitigating dismantlement now which was not valid or even clamant six months, 12 months or even 18 months ago.
In this matter, as in the Palestine policy, the Foreign Secretary, I regret to say, has succeeded with astonishing precision in securing for our country the worst of both worlds at the same time. It is, indeed, melancholy to find that the fine work of British administration in Germany is blurred over in this way, and needless misunderstandings are created between peoples who, for good or ill, have to live together if the world is to revive. It is really like someone painting, with art and labour, a magnificent picture and then, at the moment when it is about to be exhibited, throwing handfuls of mud all over it. Happily, perhaps the mud can be washed off by other hands.
2221 I say that the right hon. Gentleman has made serious mistakes in this. Some of these mistakes have had beneficial reactions. We are, I think, largely indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the present Right wing complexion of the Government of Western Germany. The House will remember how three years ago His Majesty's Government declared that they would enforce nationalisation of German industries throughout the British zone, and specially the Ruhr. Then the United States used its influence—
§ Mr. Churchill
—and asked them whether it would not be better to allow the Germans to express their own opinion upon a matter of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman had to give way, or gave way, and so it was decided that this matter should be left to the first elected Government of Western Germany.
It is said that the speech about dismantling made here by the right hon. Gentleman in July when the German elections were about to take place turned a million votes over against the Socialists of Germany. I should not at all mind if any oration which the right hon. Gentleman delivered had a similar effect here. At any rate, the Parliament chosen by the German people and the Government based upon it have rejected the policy of nationalisation and support that of private enterprise under customary modern controls. Here is a case, and not the only one, when the right hon. Gentleman has shot at a pigeon and hit a crow. Which is the pigeon and which is the crow I shall not at this moment attempt to define. I am sure it is a wise decision of the German electorate and the Government resting upon them not to take all these industries into the direct control of the German State but to allow others to exist in their country besides the State itself.
This is not the only case of these difficulties. We have in the main throughout this Parliament supported the foreign policy of the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Mr. Churchill
—but I must say quite plainly, after fully considering the French position as well as that of the United States, that it seems to me that no Government in this country after the present 2222 one is likely to carry the official Socialist policy of dismantling, as it has been pursued up to the present time, very much further.
§ Mr. Churchill
The greatest part of dismantling is in our own British Zone. Therefore, we have for a very long time been in the extremely unfortunate position of getting all the unpopularity with the Germans while our friends the French were largely immune from it. [Interruption.] I have my opinion, which I have expressed.
Now I come to Strasbourg and United Europe. The right hon. Gentleman told us in a previous Session that United Europe was his idea, that he had thought of it 20, or even 30, years ago. But the unlucky thing was that the right hon. Gentleman forgot to take out a patent for it at the time. If he had only done that, how much smoother the course would have been; and he could have had all the credit to himself, and he might have been much more helpful and friendly to the development of this great idea. Instead, the right hon. Gentleman has been forced, as everyone knows, by deep tides of public opinion in Europe and in his own party, to make great concessions to the idea of a United Europe, but he has always done it, it seems to me, in the least possible degree, at the latest moment and in a grudging manner.
This process reached its climax at Strasbourg, where the right hon. Gentleman was so ably assisted by the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It was remarkable to me to witness how quickly they lost all effective contact with their own Socialist comrades in Europe. These three Ministers together completely threw away what the British Socialist Party had long greatly desired—namely, the leadership of Social democracy in Europe.
The party opposite, under the control of the right hon. Gentleman, have completely lost their influence as a party in Europe and they are regarded with bewilderment by their own best friends. The right hon. Gentleman referred to M. Leon Blum. He is a friend of both of us and certainly must be considered one 2223 of the most eminent of all the Socialist statesmen of Europe. I was reading in the "Manchester Guardian" yesterday what he had written in Le Populaire. Hon. Members opposite should take notice of these words by M. Leon Blum, a man of very high elevation in intellect and spirit, who says:On various occasions doubt has arisen as to whether our comrades of the [British] Labour movement were not opposing the European movement. Although they declare that these impressions were false a great deal of damage has been done by them already. We have the right to turn to our English comrades and to insist that they should spare no effort to dissipate such an impression.That should be weighed by members of the Socialist Party throughout the country. If I were a Socialist—which I am not—I certainly would be rather pained to see, on a great matter like this European Movement, the most prominent European Socialist expressing himself in terms like that, which are all the more powerful because they are so moderately expressed.
Steady progress has, however, been made in this field. At Strasbourg in August I pointed out that the admission of Germany to membership of both the Consultative Assembly and the Council of Europe was a matter of urgent necessity for the future of Europe. This has indeed been my theme since I spoke at Zurich in 1946, when I appealed to France to take Germany by the hand and lead her back into the European family and forget the age-long quarrel which has rent Europe and the world.
Everyone present at Strasbourg this summer agreed that the matter was one of primary importance and deserved the gravest consideration, but there were some who thought that it was being raised at too early a date Since then opinion has advanced by long strides. Two months later nobody considered the matter premature. At the beginning of November the Committee of Foreign Ministers, to which the right hon Gentleman referred, met and gave out to the Press a statement that they were unanimously in favour of the principle of the admission of the Federal Republic of Western Germany as an Associate Member.
The Foreign Ministers did not themselves decide to admit Germany. They 2224 decided, very wisely I consider and very courteously to take the opinion of the Standing Committee of the Consultative Assembly. That committee met and considered the matter and on 9th November, the week before last, it was announced that this committee were also unanimously in favour of the admission of Germany provided that the new German Government indicated its wish and ability to comply with the democratic conditions of membership.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? This is of vital importance. I put this question in no partisan spirit whatever. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite need not smile—this is vital to the destiny and peace of the world. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to take the risk of completely rearming Germany at this juncture, because that is what his proposal really ultimately means?
§ Mr. Churchill
I must leave the House to judge of the total lack of connection between what the hon. Member has said and any language being used by me or anything in the immediate circumstances before us in Europe.
It was a very remarkable decision of the Consultative Assembly Standing Committee, and I hope that it may become a milestone on our journey. The Standing Committee contained representatives of nations, including France, which the Germans did over-run and occupy for long hard years. The representatives of those countries, especially of France, deserve the thanks of every lover of peace and of every good European for their sagacious and tolerant view. There could be no stronger proof of the advance which European opinion has made towards greater unity and, as we know, it is in this greater unity that the best chance and hope resides of the future salvation of the world.
Nevertheless, we must remember that the formal admission has not yet taken effect. I urge His Majesty's Government to make every effort to ensure that no time is lost. Nineteen hundred and fifty may well prove a critical year as to how the minds of Germans will turn; I mean Germans free to express a conviction, outside the Iron Curtain. I am troubled by the thought that even if the admission 2225 becomes a fact at once, it may not be until next August, or September, that the Germans will take their seats. I am sure it will be of great benefit if the meeting of the next Assembly could be brought forward, so that the introduction of German representatives to this infant, but vital, democratic body could at the earliest moment become an accomplished fact.
I wish to turn to a kindred, but different topic in the great field that lies before us. There is, I think, some obscurity of thought about the recognition of different countries and diplomatic representation which should be sought with them. I spoke some time ago about Spain. Fancy having an ambassador in Moscow, but not having one in Madrid. The individual Spaniard has a much happier and freer life than the individual Russian—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—or Pole, or Czechoslovak. I do not suppose that there are ten hon. Members in this House who, if it was actually put before them as a decision which they must take tomorrow morning, whether they would rather live the next five years in Franco Spain or in Soviet Russia, would not book their ticket for the south.
§ Mrs. Manning
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I should not have a chance of living for five years in Spain—nor for five minutes.
§ Mr. Churchill
Happily the hard choice is not thrust before the hon. Lady. Other difficulties and interests will confront her over here. She will still have full liberty to remain in this country and to discharge her duties. But the question remains, which I leave for reasonable people to consider, if we have an ambassador to Moscow, why should we not have one in Spain?
Now the question has arisen also of what our attitude should be towards the Chinese Communists who have gained control over so large a part of China. Ought we to recognise them or not? Recognising a person is not necessarily an act of approval. I will not be personal, or give instances. One has to recognise lots of things and people in this world of sin and woe that one does not like. The reason for having diplomatic relations is not to confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience. When a large and powerful mass of people are organised together and are masters of an 2226 immense area and of great populations, it may be necessary to have relations with them. One may even say that when relations are most difficult that is the time when diplomacy is most needed.
We ought certainly to have suitable contacts with this large part of the world's surface and population under the control of the Chinese Communists. We ought to have them on general grounds, quite apart from all the arguments—and they are very important arguments—about the protection of specific British interests. Again I would say it seems difficult to justify having full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Government in Moscow and remaining without even de facto contacts with its enormous offshoots into China. On this side of the House, however, I am speaking of the general principles, the general line of approach to these topics—we agree with the Foreign Secretary in the answers he gave yesterday that no such step should be taken by us, except in consultation with the whole of our Commonwealth and also, of course, with the United States.
§ Mr. Churchill
We should certainly not be in favour of isolated action in this respect, although, if it could be brought about as a joint policy, as the right hon. Gentleman foreshadowed, it would seem to be well worthy of consideration.
A very different issue arises when His Majesty's Government deliberately select a country which is held in Russian bondage, which is not free to express its own opinions and whose Government is a mere Quisling tool of Soviet policy. His Majesty's Government deliberately select such a country to be placed on the Security Council of the United Nations. We all have deep memories about Czechoslovakia and much British blood was shed to save her from German tyranny. As things have turned out, the unhappy people of Czechoslovakia have only exchanged one tyranny for another. Everyone knows that they have been to a large extent robbed of their civic liberties and national independence—
§ Mr. Churchill
I think the Communist Members and fellow travellers have a pretty good run in this House.
§ Mr. Gallacher
On a point of Order. A direct reference has been made to the Communist Members getting "a good run in this House," by the right hon. Gentleman, who never comes to this House except when he is going to make a speech.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
Order. I hope that all hon. Members in this House get "a good run."
§ Mr. Churchill
I have been wondering of late years and months whether indeed representation ought not to be made to the Chair on the abuse of raising questions on points of Order which have nothing whatever to do with Order. It is no doubt a fault which is not confined to any one party. That I can well believe, but I certainly think that some more precise definition would be a help to hon. Members in the discharge of their duties.
I say that not one of the present representatives of Czechoslovakia has the slightest right to speak in the name of the brave Czechoslovak people, whose love of democracy is as strong as ever.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
No point of Order can arise. The hon. Gentleman has made persistent efforts to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman who has possession of the House. He is not entitled to do that.
§ Mr. Chamberlain
My point of Order has nothing to do with rubbish. I wish to know if it is in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to classify me along with himself by referring to me as "the right hon. Gentleman"?
§ Mr. Churchill
I quite agree that my profound apologies are due to the House.
I wish to say a few words about the Czechoslovak people. It has been their fate to live under outside rule for many generations, but in all this time they have learned how to preserve a very great deal of their own national life. They have by their own means of internal and passive resistance presented a kind of subdued but constant opposition to all those who have sought to rule them in the past 300 years. At the present moment they are under extraordinary stress. The Communist form of tyranny is far more efficient than any that has ever been devised in bygone centuries. Many things are happening in Czechoslovakia which must be the cause of anxiety to their foreign overlords and to those persons whom those overlords employ in ministerial offices.
There have been cruel executions, in some cases of men who fought valiantly for the Allied cause during the war. Purges have taken place in every grade of society. There is a tense if partly concealed reign of terror. Large numbers of refugees of every class are making their escape from this Soviet prison camp. We read in the newspapers only yesterday how the whole Czechoslovakian Reparations Commission in Western Germany were seeking asylum and British protection for themselves and their wives and children rather than go back to their native land in the plight into which it has fallen. What a symbol this is of what is actually going on inside Czechoslovakia.
I cannot feel that there is any Government in Europe less deserving of being chosen to be on the Security Council of the United Nations. I cannot think of any step more likely to discourage all the forces in Czechoslovakia who are working so patiently and steadfastly to free their country from the Soviet yoke The fact that Great Britain, which has always been looked upon with so much regard by the Czechs, should give its vote for placing on the Security Council a Government which at the dictation of the 2229 Kremlin is trying to torment them into Communism will be a heavy blow to all those in Czechoslovakia with whom, on both sides of the House, there is a great measure of sympathy.
Yet that is what the right hon. Gentleman has done, and that is what he asks the party who sit on the benches opposite to become responsible for. We are told that there was a "gentlemen's agreement" to the effect that representatives of the Eastern bloc behind the Iron Curtain should in practice be chosen for the Security Council in accordance with the wishes of the majority of those States. But the "gentlemen's agreement" was in 1946, and since then the revolution in Czechoslovakia has taken place. We have an entirely new situation. Was the fate of Masaryk and Benes covered by the "gentlemen's agreement"? Was the execution and purging of some of the finest Czechoslovak patriots part of the "gentlemen's agreement"?
The United States at any rate did not consider themselves bound in this way. They voted for Yugoslavia which has to a large extent freed itself from Kremlin oppression though not from Kremlin menace. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is still Communist."] I think that the way in which they manage their internal affairs is for them to decide but I certainly do not think that they should be held down under foreign pressure from outside. Even if they be Communist, which I largely question because they are a very free, rough and ready mountain people, the product of centuries of war in the struggles with Turkey—I doubt very much whether they are—I ray that it was in those circumstances an extraordinary thing for Great Britain to vote for the election of the present Czechoslovak Government to membership of the Security Council.
I have also heard, although I cannot vouch for it, and I am quite ready to be corrected if I am contradicted, that there was some kind of deal—that if we voted for the Soviet-managed Government in Czechoslovakia the votes of the bloc of satellite States would be given to one of the British Dominions for a seat on the Security Council. If this is true—and I shall be very glad to hear that it is not true—it would seem to be an unworthy transaction reflecting not only upon those concerned, but affecting the dignity of the 2230 United Nations institution itself. Be this as it may, we are astonished that the right hon. Gentleman has lent himself to supporting the controlled, satellite Government of Czechoslovakia rather than the free and independent—in the national sense—Government of Yugoslavia. I am sure that the majority of the party opposite, if they dared express their minds, would condemn such a decision.
It is the sort of behaviour which makes people in many friendly countries in Europe and America feel that they do not know where Britain stands on some of the large issues for which in the past we have fought so hard. It robs the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government of all distinction, and indeed to a very large extent of rational explanation. On both sides of the House, I think, we are glad that Yugoslavia and not Czechoslovakia was elected to the vacancy on the Council of the United Nations in spite of the British vote to the contrary.
The threatened position of Yugoslavia raises directly that of Albania. It is known that the Soviet "Diplomatic Mission" includes some thousands of military and scientific personnel and that the Russians are in physical possession of the former Italian submarine base at Sassano opposite Valona. The internal development schemes, including oil exploration, which formerly were being carried out with Yugoslav help, are now directly in Russian hands. On the other hand, the land communications with Albania are in the hands of Tito. This certainly seems to be a danger point at the present time. We have no reason to trust the Government of Albania. The regime of Enver Hodja, like other Kremlin-controlled institutions, commands no real national support. Last June, Hodja's Deputy-Premier Xoxe, who also held the position of Minister of the Interior—a very important position—and was also General Secretary of the Communist Party was executed after charges of collaboration with Tito had been made against him.
It is clear that fierce political stresses rack Albania, and I must remind the House before leaving Albania that it is now three years since the mining of the British destroyers in the Corfu Channel proved Albania's complete disregard of international law. Forty British lives were lost for which compensation, adjudged by the International Arbitration 2231 Court to which the matter was referred, was accorded and, of course, has not been paid.
§ Mr. Churchill
I certainly cannot blame the right hon. Gentleman for that. The fact remains that we have not yet received any compensation, after three years, for the murder, in defiance of international law, of 40 British sailors.
§ Mr. Churchill
I was not so much—[HON. MEMBERS: "You were."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not know what I am going to say. I was not so much blaming anybody as deploring what is an undoubted fact.
Albania is, of course, the principal base from which the Communist rebellion in Greece has been sustained, and it has also been the refuge of the Greek Communist forces whenever they have been in difficulties. We must all rejoice that the fortunes of Greece have so greatly improved. High credit is due to the Americans for the strong aid they have given to Greek freedom. They took over, adopted, and made their own the policy which Great Britain under the National Coalition—the right hon. Gentleman and I were associated in that—initiated in Greece during the war—not without much criticism here and much criticism in the United States.
We are glad that a British Brigade has been kept in Greece all this time. I had myself thought that it would be withdrawn after the General Election in Greece held under inter-Allied supervision in 1946, but I readily agree that circumstances have changed and that the Soviet-sponsored Greek Communist rebellion made it desirable for us to continue to associate ourselves with the Greek policy of the 2232 American Government in every way. I hope that the date of the withdrawal of the British Brigade, however desirable on other grounds, will not be determined purely on the grounds of expense, but only in due relation to the whole situation in the Balkans and, I may add, generally throughout the world.
The latest attitude of the Soviet Government is curious. They have now asked for a free election in Greece under international supervision. But this was the very proposal which we made—which the right hon. Gentleman made—to the Russians three years ago, and we strongly urged them to join us in seeing that the election was fairly and freely conducted, but they refused. Now they have asked for it. They have also asked for an amnesty for the defeated Greek rebels, but this also was offered by the Greek Government two years ago and spurned. It seems to me that, after all that has happened, the question of holding another supervised election in Greece and also that of extending an amnesty, are measures about the timing of which the Greek Government, after all it has gone through, is entitled to be the prime judge.
I apologise to the House for having kept them so long but even if one deals only selectively with this vast field there is much to be said. I now reach the end. I have had to make some serious criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman, most of which I imagine will have their echo in the breasts of Members of the Socialist Party because in this matter I think he has put a needless strain upon their feelings.
I wish to end on a different note. I have on former occasions paid my tribute to the many characteristic British qualities which the right hon. Gentleman possesses and to the courage with which he has faced misunderstanding and unpopularity among his own supporters. We all trust that his public life and personal health may long be preserved. It may be, however, that this is the last Parliamentary Debate on foreign affairs we shall see in the present House of Commons, and it may be that so far as the tenure of the Foreign Office by the right hon. Gentleman is concerned, we have listened this afternoon to his swan song.
The right hon Gentleman certainly had a great opportunity. When he 2233 took up his important office we were the most respected country in Europe and not surpassed by any other country in the world in the esteem in which we were held. Under this Administration we have fallen back in many spheres and from this we cannot exclude the foreign sphere. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman has not represented the coherent outlook of Socialists or of Liberals or of Conservatives. It cannot be reconciled with any integral theme of thought. It has been swayed, and even at times dominated, by his personal likes and dislikes, strengthened by pride and enforced by obstinacy.
We on this side have done our best to support him. We have sustained him in all aspects of his policy which are a logical and harmonious part of the great causes which Britain has at heart. His manly resistance to Communism, his preservation of good relations with the United States, the Brussels agreement about Western Europe—
§ Mr. Churchill
—the policy pursued in Greece, the reinforcement of Hong Kong—are all events of the first magnitude in which the right hon. Gentleman has played a prominent part. We are sorry indeed that those achievements do not stand by themselves unclouded by other and lesser actions, but still they stand, and on that note I will take the opportunity of bringing my remarks to a close.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Crawley (Buckingham)
We can take hope from one remark of the right hon. Gentleman, when he accused my right hon. Friend of having lost the Socialists in Germany more than a million votes. There must be many people sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman himself who feel that in the last Election in this country he lost an equal number of votes, not in Germany, but in this country. I can only say that we on this side of the House are very glad not to share their apprehension about the speeches he is now making.
2234 We can take less comfort, and I should think that the country can take less comfort, from his attitude towards dismantling. The facts about dismantling are that it has been an agreed policy, the responsibility for which has been shared by the United States, the French and ourselves. One of the great difficulties about dismantling has been that the major part of it had to take place in the British zone. That difficulty has not been lessened sometimes by the attitude of some of the officials of other countries who were our allies; and for the right hon. Gentleman to encourage the point of view—which is wholly incorrect—that it is only this country which has the responsibility for carrying through dismantling is surely doing a disservice which is unworthy of him.
It was Emerson who said:Great men have nothing to do with consistency.Believing that the right hon. Gentleman might have something to say in his speech today about Strasbourg, and hoping to get guidance as to what his attitude might be, I looked up the speech he made at The Hague in 1948. Right at the beginning, where he is referring to the movement for European Union, I found this sentence:This is a movement of peoples, not of parties.I wonder if anybody listening to his speech today would have got that impression. He went on to say:If there is to be rivalry let it be to see which will distinguish themselves most in the common good.I should like to try to examine what the attitude of the Conservative Party towards Western Union really is. During the war, and immediately after it, the right hon. Gentleman himself undoubtedly had a deep vision of a united Europe. It was not a new idea, but he himself gave a new impetus to it. I have no doubt that at many moments he still has that vision, but what has happened since? Has the party opposite, as a party—and this is, after all, what really matters from the point of view of Europe and ourselves—defined its position towards Western Europe in any important detail? Has it defined its position towards the resolutions passed in the French and Italian Parliaments, that the Council of Europe should as soon as possible be- 2235 come an elected Parliament? Has it defined its position even towards the Motion which was passed at Strasbourg—it has had the opportunity of a party conference since—that the Couniil of Europe should become a political authority with limited functions but definite powers? Has it defined its position or given any idea of how it would like to see carried out any liberation of trade?
If one goes further into the speeches and discussions at Strasbourg or elsewhere, one fails to find any definite line of policy officially put forward by the Conservative Party. It may be very good tactics in this country to refuse ever to announce a policy, but in Europe, over the question of European unity, such tactics can only be taken for having no policy at all. For these are in fact the things that Europe wants to know. If the right hon. Gentleman really thinks that his own party made a great impression in the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, let him ask his colleagues what reception his hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) got when, with great assurance, he got up and proposed that other countries should join the sterling area; because, as he said, "We shall win the next Election and you will then have nothing to fear." The immediate response from one whom we might have thought to be one of his colleagues—a Belgian and also a Liberal laisser-faire disciple—was that they would have nothing to do with it whatever. Far from being pleased that the Conservative Party might win the next General Election, most of the delegates with whom I discussed the matter asked—after the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Wolverhampton in which he referred to money devoted to helping Europe since the war as money wasted on foreigners—what would happen if that party came into power, and was that what the Conservative Party meant?
In fact, of course, when Europeans remember what was said at Strasbourg or read in the newspapers about the statements of right hon. Gentlemen opposite about Western Union, they find only baffling contradictions. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) on economic matters, favours planning. The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) favours complete laissez faire. 2236 The right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan)—I tried to find his exact words and I could not—favours, I think, making the Council of Ministers more of a European Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman himself during a Debate on posible future political alterations in Europe, said he was not in favour of a federal or any particular form of solution at the time at all. Then we have in the background all the time the right hon. Gentleman's closest associate, Lord Beaverbrook, who says that Europe is not worth anything at all.
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
Would not it be common fairness to say that hon. Members went to Strasbourg as individuals? Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that the kind of differences between hon. Members on this side of the House to which he has referred were equally evident among hon. Members from that side of the House?
§ Mr. Crawley
What I am trying to point out is that though the right hon. Gentleman, as he implied today, wishes to convey the impression that the Labour Party is both divided about, and even against, the idea of Western Union, the fact is that the Conservative Party is equally divided and there is no evidence whatever to show that it is any more in favour of Western Union than anybody else.
That is the point I really want to make. The real truth about the position with regard to Western Union is that there is a deep division on both sides of this House, both between parties, and throughout the country. Although much has been done, and although in this country there is a feeling that there is some historical inevitability about a closer union of the nations in Europe—due to two world wars, due to the advances of science which make it so difficult for previous barriers to be maintained—nevertheless there is a great hesitancy on all sides to face the implications of closer union. I do not wish to belittle anything that my right hon. Friend has done. By and large the broad outlines of his policy have always been right. What he is doing now with regard to Germany—in spite of errors of timing in the past which have not always been his fault—will allow Germany to emerge with a far greater chance of taking her place in a peaceful Europe than was ever the case after the last war.
2237 Nevertheless, if one tries to outline what are the real hopes behind the frame-work which is now being set up under the Brussels Pact and the Atlantic Pact and in the Council of Europe, and what the people themselves hope, and probably the majority of hon. Members on the opposite side of the House hope, I think they would be that in Europe, France, Italy, Germany and Benelux should themselves get as closely together as possible, that the Scandinavian countries should come into the sterling area; and that we all with the Commonwealth and the United States should combine loosely or, if hon. Members wish, as closely as possible, as regions for defence. I believe that that really is the idea at the back of the mind of both my right hon. Friend and of all who give thought to this problem. The question I want to ask is: Is that policy and conception possible today? Can we in Britain be so sure of our position that we can sit on the edge of Europe and combine with it only for defence purposes? Frankly, I do not believe that it is possible.
I do not propose to touch on the economic sphere in any detail, although I am not one of those who think that there is any permanent basis for our economy in trying to sell manufactures to the greatest manufacturing country in the world. I accept that we have today to do our utmost to increase our supply of dollars, but I cannot help feeling all the time that there is grave danger, while we are diverting exports to the United States, of losing markets which may be more valuable and more permanent in the long run. The right hon. Gentleman so rightly said that this problem can only be solved in a two-way sense and that the United States must play their part. I think it should be added that they should play their part at the same speed so that we are not in the position of diverting exports from all our old markets and perhaps risking a catastrophic loss of trade in Europe and elsewhere. They should take their action before it is too late so that the benefits which they may be able to confer by lowering tariffs and by investment in allied and overseas territories shall have effect and help us to expand our trade all round.
I am sure that in the long run we shall have to enlarge our home market in Europe. I agree that that is something 2238 which can only be done slowly and gradually, and that the dislocation which would immediately occur if we tried to do it quickly would be disastrous. But I believe that that should be our goal. I really cannot be convinced by economists who try to persuade us that the lowering of trade barriers and freer convertibility—I am not now thinking of convertibility with the dollar, but freer convertibility with European currencies—are in fact likely to result in a decrease rather than an increase in trade. That seems to me to be like arguing that black is white, although no doubt on occasion one can make one look like the other.
My other criticism on the economic aspect is not so much that we have not done anything—we have even taken the lead—but that we have too often made our proposals in such a way that we have discouraged the people from whom we have hoped to get reciprocity. It really is no good prefacing every gesture that we make in Europe by a long statement saying how little we can concern ourselves with the integration of European economy. It really is no good doing that and then blaming other people for not responding immediately to any concrete gesture that we make. In fact, over the last year or two we have made greater concrete gestures than anybody else but we have created psychologically a vicious circle. Every time we make a move we do it in such a way, with so many hesitations and prevarications, that the others are not really sure that we mean business, and they do not play their part nearly as quickly as, I agree, they should.
If only we could set our goal in the economic sphere a little more clearly and decide on two or three steps which we think are practicable—let us say some planning of the basic industries to avoid waste and overlapping, bearing in mind the dangers of cartels and framing our proposals in order to ensure that any cartels which may have to be devised shall have some form of public responsibility—if we could make concrete proposals of that kind with enthusiasm, then I believe that my right hon. Friend would be surprised by the amount of support that he received.
The main point I want to make is that the real problem of Europe today is not economic. The real problem is political 2239 and it can be summed up in the one ward "Germany." I know that because we are beginning to see a way out in connection with dismantling and beginning to see Germany emerge from occupation, many people think, or are beginning to think, that the German problem which we have had since the war is disappearing. We shall no longer have to argue over the occupation, over the administration of the British zone and so on. But, of course, the fact is that because Germany is emerging the German problem is just beginning. Does anyone really think that Germany can take its place in a Europe, which we all think is becoming more closely knit, without in fact dominating it, if we stand apart?
I have heard it argued that because Germany is divided there is now no danger of Germany dominating the West of Europe, but really and truly that seems to me to be nonsense. Not only are the Germans the most efficient, the most cohesive and the most determined of all the European peoples, but there are more of them in Western Europe than there are of any other nation. The fact that they are divided, inconvenient though it may be in many ways for them, gives them diplomatically not a disadvantage but a weapon which they can always use by playing off the Russians against ourselves. I would say that, as they are emerging, unless we throw our own balance into Western Europe in a far clearer way than we have done so far, then there is no doubt whatever that the Germans within a very few years will be the dominant Power in Western Europe.
It can be argued, I suppose, that that does not matter. It may be said, "Well, what harm is there in a Western Germany of 45 million people with a security committee seeing that they cannot rearm in any way that will endanger the nations round them? What harm is there in Germany, in an economic and perhaps even in a social sense, dominating Europe?" Once again, I think that that view is extraordinarily short-sighted. The real danger of the Germans is still in their national character and it is due to the fact that they are not a democratic people. Nobody who has been to Germany on any mission of any kind since the war would suggest for a moment that as a 2240 people they understand democracy or that they can be brought to understand it without a long period of tuition. Does anyone really imagine that the very delicate struts which are supporting democracy in countries like France—France being the other major country—are really capable of containing and moulding a rising Germany in a democratic frame?
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
As the hon. Gentleman said that the Government ought to have taken far clearer steps in the direction of European unity, I should like to ask him one plain question. Would he advocate a Frenchman, a Western German or an Italian having exactly the same vote in relation to Western Union as one of his own constituents or one of mine?
§ Mr. Crawley
I will deal with that question, but I do not think that the answer will be dramatic in any way. I think that we must take the lead in certain positive ways. The real danger is that France is incapable of educating the Germans in democracy. There is no other country in Europe which could do it except ourselves. Therefore, unless we gradually enter a common organisation in Europe in which we, as the leading democratic people in Europe and politically, one might say, in the world, can influence the Germans by directly sharing with them democratic institutions, then I do not see how we can expect Germany to develop as a democratic Power. One has also to bear in mind that in France and Italy there are large undemocratic parties which would not find it difficult, in circumstances which are quite easy to foresee, to enter into an agreement with a Germany that was democratic only on the surface, and which would emerge eventually into one or other of the opposite systems.
Such developments cannot be in our interests, and must, in fact, endanger us. We have seen so often in the last 10 years how easily undemocratic countries can make deals with each other whatever their ideological differences. We must feel the real urgency of the time and take action which will enable us to bring the whole force of our democracy and our experience to bear in building a new Europe; otherwise, I tremble for the future of democracy.
2241 That is the real issue for Western European Union, and, coming down to practical measures, I am not one of those who think that we can immediately embark on federal organisation. I believe in the functional approach, and I would like to ask my right hon. Friend to do one or two things. First, I ask him to begin the real study of the basic industries, with a view to cutting out overlapping and waste, particularly in the armaments industries, which has already been recommended both by the Council of Europe and O.E.E.C., and to which some lip service has been paid by the Government. If this is done thoroughly, not only could considerable economies be made in our armaments industries, but European countries would get some real sense that we mean business. A really serious attempt to tackle the problems of cartelisation and public responsibility is the most immediate need. Secondly, we ought to press ahead far more sincerely than we have done so far with the question of the inter-convertibility of European currencies. If these things are done with enthusiasm, they will convince Europe that we mean business, and it is surely idle to continue the argument that this inter-convertibility might result in the reduction of trade.
The second thing I would ask my right hon. Friend to do is to re-orientate, only a little, his attitude towards the Council of Europe. In fact, not only by the initiative which he took originally, but also by the way he and his colleagues received the recommendations made at Strasbourg, he has shown himself to be friendly to the Council of Europe. Although on one particular item we had to defy the Ministers, on most of our recommendations they granted the substance of what was asked of them. Although the right hon. Gentleman said that he would not remove the Assembly's right to have a veto on new Members, by conceding the point that the Permanent Committee of the Assembly shall be consulted about new Members to be admitted, they have in fact given the Assembly practically what was asked. All that, in fact, has been granted, as were quite a number of other recommendations, such as that we should have our own Secretary-General and officers, and the power to arrange our own agenda.
For all these things, I think the Assembly should be grateful and I think 2242 it shows that the Council of Europe is working well as a whole. The only difficulty that exists boils down to a small matter of the meetings of committees and the places where they shall meet. On the Continent last week, newspapers were trying to make out that there was deadlock and great disagreement between the Permanent Committee of the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers; they blamed particularly my right hon. Friend, which was grossly unfair, because all the decisions in the Committee were unanimous. In fact, the only outstanding point is this one about the committees of the Assembly and when and where they are to meet. I would only ask my right hon. Friend to look again at the Charter. It is arguable from the Charter that the Assembly has the right not only to appoint committees—and there is nothing in the Charter in the way of any limitation—but to say when and where they should meet; and, if the Ministers are trying to dispute such an interpretation upon it, then it is arguable that they are trying to place a one-sided interpretation on the clauses under discussion.
I think the whole thing could be easily settled. One of the fears which the Committee of Ministers quite rightly has is that those Members of the various Parliaments who gather for the Consultative Assembly like very much to go there, and will accept every possible excuse for having committees meeting involving visits to Paris, Rome, Brussels or anywhere else. The real reason why some of these Members like to do this is that some of them have very liberal allowances, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to note this point. It is remarkable that the larger the scale of allowances is, the smaller and more remote are the countries concerned, and, as a matter of fact, at Strasbourg I think the Turks had £12 per day and the Greeks £6 per day. It is still true that most of the other countries have much more than the English or the French.
There is no doubt that, if the delegates have very liberal allowances, their visits to these meetings are much more agreeable, and if the right hon. Gentleman really wants to cut down both the number of committees and the inclination of members to attend them, there is no better way than by giving the Assembly the power to pay its own members so that 2243 everybody would be paid the same. If the Assembly is the master of its budget, everybody who attends a committee will be paid on the same level, and the Committee of Ministers should be given a budget at a figure which does not allow excessive allowances to be paid. If we give the Ministers control over the purse, and if the Assembly is given a global sum which is not large enough for any extravagances, we would be doing a service both to the Assembly and to the Council of Europe by allowing the Assembly itself to decide when its committees should meet and where. It is only a small disagreement, but I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the matter again.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
It is quite right that the Debate this evening should concentrate on these very important developments in Western Europe, but I hope that the House will forgive me if I remind it that Western Europe is overshadowed by the East. There are seats for the Eastern European countries now waiting in the Assembly, and one wishes very much that they could be filled. I want to talk about Eastern Europe because during the last few months I have made a fairly detailed journey through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and I have reached certain conclusions which may be of some interest to the House. I would, therefore, like to make a few suggestions.
In the first place, I venture to suggest that in this House, in the Press and in our ordinary conversation, we should try to talk a little less about war. Almost every time one listens to a news bulletin on the B.B.C. there is something about the armaments side of the Atlantic Pact, and so on. I cannot help feeling that the immediate danger of war diminished very considerably with the success of the airlift in Berlin, and that it is now much more a psychological struggle. I found all over Eastern Europe how very much people believed that the Western countries wanted war. Every time we talk too much about war that belief is strengthened. We must always remember that much as those Eastern European countries hate Russia, most of them hate Germany still more, and that they are 2244 Very much afraid that we shall be building up Germany as a military power against them.
§ Mr. Blackburn
While I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman says, I think he ought in fairness to say that we are not building up Germany into such a power, and that the only people who are doing that are the Russians.
§ Mr. Bartlett
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. It is an extremely important point because one has only to go to Germany today to realise that in Eastern Germany there is quite a considerable German military force called the "People's Police."
The second suggestion I want to make is that we should talk less of the Cominform countries as satellites. It is true that their geographical position makes it inevitable for them to have Communist Governments, but we should remember that in all of them except Czechoslovakia there were social reforms which were terribly overdue, and that therefore each of the Communist Governments does have rather more public support than we here should expect. We must remember, too, that none of these countries, with the exception of Czechslovakia, ever had much liberty and freedom for the individual, and they do not always understand our system, based as it is on centuries of defence of individual integrity.
It is true that we have treaty rights to protest every time the Hungarians, the Roumanians or the Bulgarians do something atrocious—and they do a lot of atrocious things. I cannot help thinking, however, that it is not very much use responding to their breaches of the treaty by, say, withdrawing somebody from our Legation or Embassy, because it is most important that we should maintain as many contacts as possible with these countries. The one thing the Communists want about all others is that these cominform countries should break all links with the West. Therefore, I suggest that the Government should bear that in mind. It is a poor form of reprisal merely to bring somebody back from a legation or to break off further contacts by way of protest.
In all these countries, if we make a strong protest and do not follow it up 2245 —as we cannot without war—they conclude that we are weak. Again, if we protest against the things which their Governments do and they know that the Soviet Government are doing precisely similar things against which we make no protest, then I think we underline what appears to be weakness. In each of these Cominform States there is, without doubt, a secret split inside the Communist Party; there is a secret latent struggle between the Communists and—
§ Mr. Bartlett
I know it because only a day or two ago I read that Gomulka, who is a good Polish patriot as well as a good Communist, is going to be tried. However, I dare say the hon. Member will have a chance to make his speech later, and I should like to make mine now.
I want to say very definitely that I am sure that in all these countries there is a split inside the Communist Party. Every day we have evidence of it in the political trials which take place in them. There is the struggle between those Communists—Muscovites, as they are called—who are prepared to see their country entirely subordinated to the Soviet Union, and those other Communists who, while being good Communists, are also good patriots. Of course, ever since the breach between Yugoslavia and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union some 18 months ago, that struggle has become very important indeed.
Therefore, I suggest that we ought to follow the developments in Eastern Europe with a little more understanding and sometimes with a little more sympathy because I do not see how any one of those countries could have avoided having a Communist Government at the present time. When I say that we should not go in for reprisals against their misbehaviour by withdrawing British diplomatists, and so on, I do not suggest that we are helpless to delay the absorption of these Cominform countries into the Soviet Union. I do not think we are helpless. We must remember, for example, that the Hungarian five-year plan, the Czechoslovak five-year plan and the Polish five-year plan cannot be carried out successfully unless those countries trade with us.
2246 For example, in both Hungary and Poland the so-called agrarian reform is proceeding much more slowly than the Russians like, and much more slowly than in the other Communist countries, for the fairly simple reason that they depend for some of their imports from this country upon sending us food. They cannot have the peasants disturbed by an over-hasty collectivisation of the land, and we should keep that in mind when framing our policy.
I have sometimes heard right hon. and hon. Members on the Government Front Bench arguing that foreign trade and foreign policy were two separate things which should be kept apart. I think that we should stop considering them in that way because this present divorcing of foreign policy from foreign trade may be disastrous. On the contrary, I suggest that it is important, not merely to decide that such and such an export consists of a war material, and, therefore, must not be exported, but that we should decide in each case whether such and such an export will help the patriotic element in these Cominform countries, whether it will improve East-West relations, and whether it will discourage the Russians from trying to turn these Cominform States into mere republics of an enlarged Soviet Union. I am sure that is the plan in the mind of the Soviet Government at the present time, and it goes some way towards explaining the appointment of Marshal Rokossovsky in much the most nationalist-minded of these countries.
I wish to ask the Government two questions about Germany. The first is, will they take the initiative in bringing German refugees and expellees—if the hon. Member the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir Alan Herbert) were present, I would apologise to him for using that word, but it is one which is adopted in international language—
§ Mr. Bartlett
I think it would be better, but I do not run these things. I repeat, will the Government take the initiative to see that these German refugees and exiles—if the hon. Member prefers that word—are brought within the scope of the International Refugees Organisation?
2247 Nobody can visit Germany today without realising that one of the greatest possible dangers to peace is the fact that we have there some nine million people—unwanted people, home-sick people—who have been turned out of different countries in Eastern Europe or who, in many cases, have come from the Soviet zone of Germany. We have these nine million people wandering around as second class citizens. It strikes one the whole time that the German Federal Government in Bonn, even if it has the will, cannot possibly have the resources to absorb all these people. I believe that unless we see that some of these people are given a chance to emigrate and are given facilities similar to those offered to people who come under the National Refugee Organisation, then in a few years' time another Hitler will arise who will have no difficulty in enrolling as his supporters all those German refugees who want to go back to the country in which they were born.
Secondly, could we have some information as to when the British Government intend to make up their minds about the Oder-Neisse frontier. Among the Germans, only the Communists accept it and, obviously, they accept it with their tongues in their cheeks. It is a frontier which we all know is unjust to Germany, but we do not always remember that it would be extremely unjust to Poland to change it. We do not always remember that Poland is smaller now by some 30,000 square miles, that the territories she has lost to the Soviet Union are some 30,000 square miles greater than the territories she has taken from Germany.
I cannot help believing that, however great the danger may be of losing a lot of support in Western Germany or in Poland, it would be more honest and more courageous for the British Government to make up their minds as soon as possible as to whether they intend to consider that frontier as a permanent one or not. After all, for the first time Poland is a thoroughly homogeneous country and we shall create the utmost distress if we are not careful. In any case, it would be far better to decide the frontier one way or the other now, than to wait for a few years, until Germany is sufficiently strong again to make a fuss about it, and 2248 then to say that we never meant the frontier to be final.
I should like to end on a more personal note. I am not standing again for Parliament and this, I imagine, will be the last time I shall have the honour of addressing this House. In the last four years I have had the opportunity of travelling very widely, from the United States to Japan, from Finland to South Africa, and in every country where I have been I have come across two things, one of which has shocked me and one of which has pleased me. In every country I have visited far too many British subjects, because they happen to dislike the present British Government, are saying things about the British people and about this country which are shameful, shocking and suicidal. I hope that in the weeks and months ahead of us we shall remember the appalling harm that can be done by people who look at things far too much from the party point of view and not enough from the national point of view.
The other thing is that in all those countries I have also come across a great number of foreigners who look at this country with intense interest and admiration—intense interest because they say to themselves that in the social changes which are inevitable at the end of a war, here is one country which has gone a very long way to get through its social revolution without disturbance and without bloodshed.
I am quite sure that one of the main reasons for the fact that we have been able to go so far along that road towards peaceful agreement on these great problems and changes is the tradition of this House. I am quite sure it is due to the readiness of the House to respond to anybody who speaks with sincerity, the readiness of the House to listen to a man who speaks with expert knowledge, the ability of the House on great occasions to rise to acts of tolerance and decency which are much greater than the individual capacities for tolerance and decency of each Member, and above all the way in which the Chair always defends the rights of minorities.
Those qualities mean two things to me. First, I look upon it as a great honour to have been allowed to represent a constituency in this House for 11 such important years. Secondly, and much more important than that, they mean that this 2249 country, despite its present material difficulties, has a very great part to play in the future of the world.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope (Midlothian and Peebles, Northern)
The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) did me the honour more than four years ago of congratulating me on my maiden speech, and I therefore think it is perhaps not unfitting that I should condole with him on having had to make his last speech in this House, if indeed that is the case. I am bound to say that I share with him his confidence in the future of the country. I think he over-did what he said about our countrymen abroad, who are supposed to be saying things against this country because they dislike the Government. There are some, and no one condemns what they do more than I have already condemned it in the United States. But there are not many, and I think we do no service by exaggerating either the numbers of those who behave like this or, indeed, the harm they do.
In one other respect I venture to disagree with the hon. Member for Bridgwater. I doubt very much whether he is right when he says that the countries of Eastern Europe fear the future Germany more than they fear the Russians. If the hon. Member does me the courtesy of listening to a little more of my speech, I think he will see why I hold that view.
§ Mr. Bartlett
Before I do so, might I remind the hon. Member of the example of Warsaw, which was almost destroyed, house by house, by the Germans? They will never forget that. Above all, the reason behind my argument is that the Press is so strictly controlled in those Eastern European countries that the mass of the people, who have suffered under the direct occupation of the Germans, do not yet realise to what extent they are being brought under the domination of the Russians.
§ Lord John Hope
That is precisely the point I was about to make. I think they will soon realise it and will dislike the Russians as much as they have ever disliked the Germans. So far as Warsaw is concerned, I doubt very much whether the part played by the Russians in that tragedy will redound to their credit in the hearts of Poles or of anybody else.
2250 I am as much aware as anybody else of the potential menace of a resurgent Germany. My own opinion is that, if the Germans get a chance, they will one day do again what they have already done twice in a generation, but I am not pessimistic enough to believe that they will be able to do it. I should have thought it worth while suggesting that, as a result of the Second World War, there has arisen a balance of power in Europe, as between Germany and Russia, which in itself may make the Germans realise that it will not be worth while trying to do again what they have already very nearly done twice. In broad terms, I see Germany in the position vis-à-vis Europe which France occupied after the Napoleonic Wars. When we talk about Germany, when we look to the future and possible renascence of German offensiveness and aggression, I think inevitably, unless we are very careful, we are apt to forget just how well things have been and are going for the Russians. I want to speak of that first, because in what will be a short speech, I particularly want to put first things first.
A few days ago a very distinguished soldier, Field-Marshal Lord Wavell, was reported to have expressed the opinion at a Canadian Press conference that Russia was satisfied and that we had really no more to be frightened of in that direction. I think that when a distinguished servant of this country, and a man for whom we all have the greatest respect, makes that kind of remark it is the duty of somebody in public to take him up, and that is what I propose to do for a moment or two. I want first to remind the House of something which was written in "Pravda" a month after the October Revolution of 1917. That was when "Pravda" represented not only Lenin's but Trotsky's personal views. This is what "Pravda" said:The oppressed nations of Asia await just as passionately the fall of the capitalist régime of violence as do the oppressed proletarian masses of all Europe. To merge these forces into a world revolution against the imperialist bourgeoisie—is the historic task of the workers and peasants of Russia.As it was, so it is. I am bound to say that I cannot help feeling that Lord Wavell's reported opinion represents nothing so much as what I would call the inexhaustible capacity of the English 2251 to get used to almost anything in time, and that if we go on like this we shall very soon be looking upon the Iron Curtain as an accepted if regrettable edifice—rather like the Albert Memorial, or something of the sort. Really, this Iron Curtain is a terrible thing of dynamic significance, and while it exists for the purposes for which it is intended it should exist, then I fear for the future of the world.
I see a danger in what I call lack of stimulus as far as the cohesion of the Western world against the Russian menace is concerned. We always react well—we always have reacted well—to such a stimulus. We reacted well to the coup in Czechoslovakia, and to the Berlin blockade; and there has been, of course, a very strong reaction, in terms of awareness, to what has happened in China. I should have thought that the best chance that the Russians had lay in their not bringing upon the world too many of these stimuli in succession.
Stalin has written about something extremely interesting, which I think is immediately relevant. He has written about it in his "History of the All-Union Communist Party"; I mean the law of ebb and flow. I want to remind the House of what that means, and then to show, very shortly, how true to form things have been running. The course of revolutionary movement was never, in Stalin's opinion, expected to be uniform, and there were various crests of the waves and various recessions that he mentioned. The 1905 revolution was one crest; the recession was the Stolypin reaction; there was another crest in 1913 and 1914; and then, of course, there was the major crest in 1917, with a recession in 1925. He says this:The epoch of world revolution … is a whole strategic period, embracing a whole series of years, and, I dare say, even a number of decades. In the course of this period there can and must be ebbings and flowings.He also added that whenever there was an ebb the job of the Communist movement was to take the opportunity to consolidate what it had gained during the flow.
What has happened conformable to this pattern since the war? In the West we had the flow—a pretty successful one, too—right up to the Stettin-Trieste line. 2252 Then the ebb was brought about by the improvised—it is true—but successful Western policy on American initiative, consisting first of the Truman doctrine—
§ Lord John Hope
—thereby preventing the outflanking of the Mediterranean, and then of the Marshall Plan, and then of the North Atlantic Pact.
§ Lord John Hope
I would far rather finish. The hon. Member may well catch Mr. Speaker's eye, and I do not want to speak long because other hon. Members want to take part in the Debate.
Then came the final consolidation, which was overdone—and this is the really interesting thing at the moment—in the case of Marshal Tito. The East is a little outside the scope of the Debate, but in that respect I cannot resist suggesting that we may see a significant development in terms of the desire of the Soviet Government not to do too much consolidation too quickly with Mao in China, in case the same thing happens there as in Yugoslavia. It will be interesting to see whether one is right or not.
Now, what about the future? There are distinguished men—for instance, Lord Boyd Orr the other day—who believe that the Government should make yet another effort to come to an understanding with the Russians. Really, I do not think anything is lost by facing facts in this matter, and the facts are that the Russians have given no signs since the war that they can be trusted in any way whatsoever. We have that terrible catalogue of deceit, consisting of the breaking of the treaties—the Balkan Treaties, the Berlin Agreement—all the time. Every time a treaty has been made or an agreement signed, it has been broken.
Lately we have had the insolent suggestion at Lake Success of the Russian plan for the supervision of the atom bomb. The intention—and, indeed, the effect—so far as Stalin is concerned would certainly be to leave Russia free to produce the bomb for herself while disarming America. I hope very much that the answer to the Russians in this particular manoeuvre will be very much on the lines 2253 of what I read in "Time"—I think it was—the other day; of the answer given by the late President Roosevelt to a request by Stalin—I believe it was at Yalta—when they were going to be photographed. Stalin put his hat on, apparently because he did not want to show the Russia people that he was going grey and old, and he asked President Roosevelt also to put his hat on. Roosevelt was reported to have said, "Tell him to go to hell." I hope very much that, of course in the correct terms, that will be the kind of way in which this monstrous attempt to cheat the West will be dealt with at Lake Success and anywhere else.
§ Lord John Hope
At least the hon. Member's interjection shows that he has done me the honour to listen to my speech up till now, and I am most grateful even for that.
Some people in America, I regret to say—some quarters in America—have shown a tendency to wonder whether it perhaps would not be a good thing to return to the isolationism of the old days. I do not believe for a moment that that represents American public opinion. If anyone tries it on, he will get the kind of answer he deserves. Nevertheless, that feeling is beginning to grow, and it is no good disguising the fact. I would say this to these people. First of all, isolationism of the United States is the urgent, primary tactic inside the grand Communist design. Secondly, there are two factors in the situation that remain unaltered.
Communism is still an armed dogma which takes no account of human life and depends on terror and forced labour for its effect; and it is still convinced of its historic mission to destroy the whole of the anti-Communist world, including the United States of America, ultimately by force. As an earnest of these intentions, Russia has, it is estimated, 175 combat divisions under arms now with a total strength of 16,000 planes and a potential of up to 300 divisions in 60 days and 502 divisions in the field in a few months. It is because of American intervention and firmness, that there is any semblence of peace in the world, including the U.S.A., today. Should that intervention be withdrawn or that firmness weaken, then war will come very soon.
2254 It is not for me to take up the time of the House, and I am not going to do so by switching to the detailed steps that must be taken in terms of the unity of Europe, the Commonwealth and so forth. That is for others to do, probably far better than I could. I wanted to detain the House for these few minutes to point to this danger of what is nothing more nor less than complacency over what the Russians have been and are doing. I do not think that the free West will go down, but if it does, it will be its own fault. I believe that I am right in forecasting that the essence of the verdict will be not so much that Communism never slept but that freedom never woke up.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I do not know how the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles, Northern (Lord John Hope) gets his figures about the size of the Russian armed Forces because I believe that on this and other matters the Soviet Union is somewhat secretive.
§ Lord John Hope
They were an estimate that was given by General Bradley before the Armed Services Committee in Washington.
§ Mr. Bellenger
General Bradley is obviously a military authority to whom we have to pay attention. Sometimes, when I see the so-called informed articles in the newspapers about the number of divisions Russia can mobilise, I wonder whether there is only an element of truth in them. For instance, I have heard estimates that the number of divisions that Russia could place in the field in a very short time is 300. I doubt that very much indeed. Divisions have to be properly equipped, and I am not sure that even with the equipment with which the Allies supplied them during the last war, Russia could mobilise completely 300 divisions or anything like that number. Many of the divisional troops in Russia are horse-drawn, and as for their Commissariat, I doubt if they would be able to advance into Europe if there were a scorched-earth policy.
It is notable that Russian troops generally live on the country. We saw, in the last war, the success which could be achieved, not only in the Western side of Europe, but also in Russia, by a properly carried out scorched-earth policy. Apart 2255 from that, I do not believe that Russia wants a "hot" war. She has achieved so much by a "cold" war that it would be foolish of her, with the recollections she has of Hitler and his policy of indulging in war, to try it. I do not believe that she wants to try it.
That does not mean that the Western Powers should not be properly prepared to meet any threats of oppression from wherever they may come. Therefore, I welcome, as I am sure the House does, the attempts made by the Foreign Secretary to organise a Western Union purely for defence as he has told us so often, and with no idea of attacking anybody; but making certain, so far as military forces can do it, that if the Western Powers are attacked they will not go down without putting up a fight.
I can well understand the difficulty of my right hon. Friend when he comes to prepare his speeches on foreign affairs. More than once, the open diplomacy or the semi-open diplomacy which we have had has caused him considerable inconvenience, notably on the question of the dispersal of the Italian colonies; but I suggest to my right hon. Friend that it is not fair to this House that we should have to get our information on important matters, such as dismantling in Germany, by opening our newspapers and reading what the German Chancellor says to his own Parliament. I think that this House is not entitled to know all the details—I understand the susceptibilities of France and the French Parliament in particular—but it should not be left to the German Chancellor to inform us of the results of conversations which are taking place between his Government and the High Commissioners.
I want to devote a few minutes to the subject of Germany, and nothing else but Germany. The Far East is a very important field, as the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) said. There are I suppose—
§ Mr. Bellenger
I think that the hon. Gentleman said that he had made journeys to the Far East. It is true that he did not develop that matter and concentrated on Europe, but what the hon. Gentleman did imply, in passing, was 2256 that the Far Eastern situation was one pregnant with all sorts of possibilities, particularly in regard to defeated Japan, and the policy that America is following in Japan.
We must not forget that the last two world wars started in Europe, and there is no doubt that Europe is a danger spot in the world. I do not say that in other parts of the world there are no dangerous areas, but Europe is the principal one. I think that my right hon. Friend knows that. At any rate, it is the nearest one to our doorstep; and, therefore, if we are to get the people of this country to join the Civil Defence Forces or the Armed Forces, they will want to know something more about who is most likely to be the enemy on their own doorstep. It is true that many of our men went to the Far East and fought there in the last war, but that was only because the Far East is, as it were, the residue of the Imperial interests of Great Britain, built up largely in the last century. We cannot ignore the Far East, but I wish to concentrate on Germany.
I well understand my right hon. Friend's remark that he had bitter memories of the 1914–18 war, and that probably conditions his cautious policy towards Germany. I agree with him entirely that we cannot treat Germany purely on a sentimental basis. No one asked my right hon. Friend to do that. If at times there are hon. Members, or people outside this House, who say, "Let us forget and forgive," well, that will have to come I agree—to forgive but perhaps not to forget. Nevertheless, we have to do something vis-à-vis Germany. We cannot leave this unsatisfactory state of affairs with British and American money being poured into Germany, as it has been, for the purpose of re-educating Germany in democratic methods, and then not follow it up.
In that respect, I was surprised, and indeed a little shocked, to hear from the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) that he was so pessimistic about the future of German democracy. Has he never heard of the wonderful trade union movement that was built up in Germany between the two wars? Has he never heard of the Social Democratic Party, which is now the second largest party in Germany and a possible future Government? What are we going to say 2257 to those whom I suppose my hon. Friend would call comrades if we simply attempt to write them off and say that they are not going to help to bring Germany along to that position which we can one day hope for, when Germany will take her place in the councils of Europe in the same democratic fashion as we in this country? At any rate, it is we who have encouraged the German people to elect their own Parliament; the people in the Western zone have spoken and have elected the Social Democratic Party as the second largest in the country.
On the question of dismantling, let my right hon. Friend not be afraid of propaganda. He knows something about propaganda, and very shortly we shall all be engaged in that pastime. What those who have to listen to propaganda must do is weigh the pros and cons, the rights and wrongs, and the justice and injustice of that propaganda. There is no doubt that in some respects the dismantling policy, which now looks as if it is coming to an end, has to a large extent been unfair to many workers in Germany. I do not for one moment accept the statements that have been made about the unemployment in Germany which will be caused as a result of this dismantling policy. It will cause some unemployment, and so far as it does, we, at any rate on this side of the House, should take that propaganda into account.
If anybody wants to see well-balanced propaganda let him read the memorandum that has been sent to this country to the National Executive of the Labour Party by the Social Democratic Party of Germany—a memorandum which placed these various pros and cons in their correct proportion. The Social Democratic Party in Germany has not been adverse to dismantling for disarmament purposes, but what they say is: "Let us bring it to an end. Give us a chance to work for our own country." And why should they not? Why should not the German workers have a chance to enjoy a proper standard of living—which they have not had for years—as well as the people in this country? I believe that my right hon. Friend does not want that stressed, because, although he attempted to tell us this afternoon that his policy was not animated by sentiment, he is one of the most sentimental Members of this House. All I would say to him is that I am 2258 glad he is a realist too; and the juxtaposition of sentiment and reality is, I feel, a very good foreign policy to follow.
I think my right hon. Friend was quite right in the intervention he made to another hon. Member on the cessation of dismantling the steel works. He has been the one who in international conferences—although the record has not always been open for the public to see—has fought against Russia, who wanted to limit Germany to a ceiling of something like four or five million tons of steel, which is totally insufficient for Germany. My right hon. Friend has fought for and won a higher ceiling, until today the accepted target for Germany is 11 million tons, with the possibility of a two or three million tons increase if certain of these steel factories are retained in Germany and saved from dismantling.
What is our policy towards Germany? My right hon. Friend did not attempt to tell us today in broad outline what the policy was. In many respects that policy is a policy of expediency. It had to be, of course, in the two or three years immediately after the war, when Germany was in a state of confusion and chaos, verging almost on anarchy; and it was the British Army, in the main, together with the British Control Commission—particularly in the most important zone of Germany, the Western zone—who helped to save Germany from that anarchy, which would not have stopped at the frontiers of Germany but would have spread far and wide and involved us in, who knows what? Perhaps another world conflagration.
After the end of the war we started off with the Morgenthau policy to ruralise Germany. It is true that it was never advocated strongly in this country, but it came from a very powerful country. The originator of that policy was an American, and one can well imagine the effect on the German people when they heard of that Morgenthau policy. That, I am very glad to say, was soon swept away, because a nation of 40 million in the Western zone, and perhaps 60 million or more within the entire German frontiers, which has built up its position on industry, as we have done in this country, cannot possibly be turned back to their own soil only. That passed, I am glad to say.
2259 Then followed a policy, under the auspices of my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Hynd), which did attempt to build and reconstruct Germany, not only physically but spiritually. I remember that I was in office at the same time as he was, and I had an opportunity of seeing the work of, for example, rebuilding bridges, and even essential factories, which was carried out mainly under the auspices of the British under my hon. Friend's supervision, and also the educational work that was carried out by the Control Commission. I think that sufficient tribute has never been paid to my hon. Friend for the work he did, which kept him at his desk until the early hours of the morning, helping to rebuild Germany. My hon. Friend has not that facility for publicity which some individuals have, and therefore very little credit has been given to him in Germany, or indeed in this country, for what he did.
As a result of that policy and what followed, there was amongst the Germans a friendly feeling towards this country. If hon. Members ask me how I know, I would say, first, that I speak German, and the most useful thing for knowing what the people in any country are saying is to be able to talk to them in their own language. I am not a fluent German speaker, but at any rate I can talk to the Germans. I had the opportunity of talking to all classes of Germans after the war—and of course before the war, too—and there was undoubtedly, even in the American and French zones, a very kindly feeling towards this country and our officials. It is true that we had some misfits in the Control Commission, as my hon. Friend would be the first to admit, but they were weeded out.
What has happened over, for example, the later dismantling? There has grown up a good deal of bitterness, not least—and I ask my hon. Friends to pay attention to this—in the Social Democratic Party, which presumably is the counterpart of the Labour Party in this country. They could not understand our reasons for it. That prompted me to put a question to my right hon. Friend the other day, asking him whether the main consideration in this dismantling policy was security, and he answered "Yes." Now we have got the key to the whole situation of dismantling. And more than 2260 that; we are entitled to demand of any German Government, security against possible aggression in the distant future. The German people are a martial people—and a very good martial people they are, too, in so far as one assesses that virtue when one comes to military warfare. I would go so far as to say that if it had not been for that cardinal mistake by Germany, both under Hitler in the last war and under the Kaiser in the first war, of trying to fight on two fronts at once, we might have seen a very different result.
The dismantling policy has been a tripartite policy, and I sympathise with my right hon. Friend on the odium which has been placed on Britain and British officials as a result of our carrying out that policy agreed between the three Allies, America, France and this country. What I very much regret amongst allies in that all do not speak in the same language. Unfortunately, Britain has been allowed to carry this odium for too long, with our Allies not attempting, in later months at any rate, to implement the tripartite agreed policy on dismantling. We have done our share, and much of the dismantled machinery British officials have broken down has been packed and sent off to Russia, where, I regret to say, a lot of it has been allowed to rust.
§ Mr. Bellenger
It is quite easy to know that. We know where the cases go. We know they are still standing on the goods sidings and the machinery is not being re-erected in Russia. There are still many cases left rusting in Germany in the British zone, which will probably never reach the destination for which they were intended.
I ask the Under-Secretary of State to deny, if he can, the widespread statements that have been made in the newspapers, the suggestion made by Professor Erhardt, who is very closely associated with the German Chancellor, that Germany would welcome foreign investments up to the extent of 40 per cent., and to say whether it has been considered as a practical policy on a Governmental scale, or even on a private-enterprise basis. The Comité des Forges still exists in France. The 200 families in France 2261 have not been liquidated as a result of the war, and it would be very convenient for big business in France to link up with German interests in the Ruhr to the exclusion of British interests. I hope, whatever may be the future of the Ruhr industries, whether they are to be nationalised or not, there is not going to be any unholy alliance between big industry in France, backed by American dollars—because France has not the money to do it—and German big industry. That would be a most dangerous policy if it were allowed to be implemented, and it has been advocated in very responsible quarters.
This subject is, of course, capable of being discussed in a very wide aspect. Its ramifications go very wide indeed, far beyond the confines of Europe. On the whole, the policy of the Foreign Secretary in regard to Germany is a policy we can all applaud. He may perhaps be a little cautious, but he has reason to be, and so has this country. We have set up a German Government, a freely-elected Government, and we are in the process of giving them, not complete autonomy, but certainly, in regard to trade, a much wider control over their own life. Up to the present, German trade has been conducted through the Joint Export and Import Agency, which was an Allied Control Commission organisation to decide how much Germany should import or export. That is not going to be possible for 40 million people if they are to have any reasonable standard of living and we want to maintain democracy in Germany. I am very glad to see that J.E.I.A., as it is called, is well on the way out.
I suggest that at some time—and I do not think it is too far distant—we shall have to end the state of war with Germany. I know the legal difficulties, with Russia as a partner to the Potsdam Agreement being outside. We have to deal with facts, and so long as Russia is prepared to unite Germany on a proper basis, a truly democratic basis, we can well afford to wait for her agreement, but if she is not prepared to do that—and there are indications that she is dividing Germany far more than the Western Powers—we shall have to proceed without Russia. There are many people who say that if we did that, it would only cause Russia to march. It 2262 all depends how we do it—at any rate, we cannot keep this present anomalous situation in the Western zone. To those who are afraid of Germany becoming re-militarised, I ask, "What is happening in the Eastern zone?" There are many thousands of Germans being trained under Russian supervision, trained with weapons and in divisional formations. I say that that is not entirely for the peace of Germany, or for the peace of Europe.
The time will come, and it will have to follow on step by step, when Germany will have to be taken into Western Union as a full partner. We hope it will be a united Germany, but if not, it will have to be a divided Germany. I believe that when she is taken in, after a period of education, supervision and help, such as we are giving her now, it will be conducive to the peace of Europe, far more than a lot of people imagine at the present time.
I hope Members have read the speech of General de Gaulle. He is a Frenchman, and Frenchmen have a traditional suspicion and fear of Germany, because France is a much smaller nation and is probably not so efficiently organised. What did General de Gaulle, a man not exactly a close friend of this country, who was a most difficult ally during the war, say to his own people? He said that they could not rely on British troops in any large numbers to come and defend their country if there is another war, but that next door to France was a country well disciplined which could work hard, and that it was a country with which France should unite. It is a very good illustration of the change of feeling that is possibly going on in France. After the first world war, France attempted to get security by mobilising the Little Entente, which failed miserably. Perhaps new times mean new methods.
Anything that can be done to ensure security we are entitled to ask Germany to do. It would be quite easy, even without a large army of occupation, to control Germany's possibilities of making a war of aggression. We are in the Ruhr, which is the arsenal of Germany and without which she cannot fight a major war. So long as Germany is prepared to admit that we have the right, not only for the purposes of occupation but for peace, to remain in control of the Ruhr, and they are prepared themselves to come into the 2263 controlling body under the Ruhr Statute I believe that we shall be able to get that security for which we have a right to ask and for which France has so long striven. America is far away, even Britain is far away, but atomic energy, jet planes and all the rest of it can do things which sometimes appal those who consider the situation as France has to consider her next-door neighbour, stronger in numbers, more skilled in invention and scientific knowledge.
The only thing which we should ask from Germany is security, and then leave the Germans to rebuild their own country and provide evidence that they are prepared to co-operate in a peaceful and prosperous Europe. Deny them, by all means, naval ships and aeroplanes, if you like—although the time will come when we shall have to let them have civil machines. But do not deny the possibility of 40 million Germans reconstructing and rebuilding their own shattered country in which so many honest people, who have never held Nazi views, but who were swept along with the tide, are now living in circumstances in respect of which if they had been living in this country, Members of this House would have been attacking the Government of the day. It is because I believe that my right hon. Friend is proceeding along these lines that I support entirely the policy which he did not adumbrate to any large extent today, but which I know is at the back of all his actions at the Foreign Office.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfred Roberts (Cumberland, Northern)
I think there is a good deal of agreement on foreign policy and, as the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) has said, I think most of us agree with the fundamental purposes of the Foreign Secretary's policy. Sometimes I think we are a little in advance of it. For instance, on the question of dismantling in Germany, if the right hon. Gentleman had been more ready to give way sooner I think it would have been better. Perhaps eventually we shall also get him to take the view which a large number of Members in this House take about a united Europe and Strasbourg.
The right hon. Gentleman has a good story to tell but, as the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw said, he did not tell it today. He told us nothing that we could 2264 not have read in the Press. Foreign Ministers are sometimes in that position; they cannot say very much. But I have a feeling that in the multiplicity of organisations, in the weight of the number of their meetings which the right hon. Gentleman has to attend, it is possible that he hardly has time either to look back on what has been achieved or to look forward to see what is the object of it all.
I think there has been a great achievement. The danger not long ago was that Europe might go Communist by peaceful, or tolerably peaceful, means. It seems that that danger is much less now and that the Communist threat to Western Europe, the threat from within, is much less important. That has been achieved by common action; we owe very much to America, we owe something to the democratic spirit of Europe, and we owe something to ourselves, too. But is that enough simply to prevent the overthrow of democracy in Western Europe and to put as bold a front and as much strength behind the opposition to invasion from the East as we can? Many of us think it is not enough, and what was disappointing in the right hon. Gentleman's speech today was that he gave no indication of what he was really aiming at in his foreign policy in Europe.
The right hon. Gentleman threw no light at all on this policy; the only light he did throw was disappointing, in as much as he brushed past what some of us think is the most hopeful of all developments, namely, a united Europe and the meeting at Strasbourg. He told us that it was not the business of representatives gathered at Strasbourg to say with whom they would associate and whether they would invite Germany to become members of the Council of Europe, but the business of the responsible Foreign Secretaries. That seemed to indicate what I believe is a quite wrong attitude to the whole development of a united Europe. I do not want to go into great detail, because I know many other Members want to speak, but I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not the Foreign Office or the Government that pays for these activities but the taxpayer, and that if the Members of Parliament of various countries cannot decide to some extent what they will pay, it is a bad look out.
2265 I want to try to show what I hope future developments will be. Now we are under pressure of public opinion I hope we shall stop dismantling in Germany, except for purely war factories. My party, like the official Opposition, has pressed this on the Government. We are now in a new position in which there is a democratic German Government, and I hope we shall try to give it all the support we can and treat it not as an equal yet, but as soon as possible as an equal. I recognise the possibility that democracy in Germany may not be a success. I do not want to be too idealistic about it, but we have to try it.
What else have we to try except that? We can take precautions and see that the Germans do not rearm. We can come down heavily on any tendency to do so, which we did not do between the two wars. If Germany is in the Atlantic Pact we can keep the joint forces of the Western Powers within Germany, as they are within other European countries. If we could advance a little further to a joint police force I believe it would be much easier to do that. I think we should advance to a mixed joint international police force. Let us recognise that Western Germany alone can never be a threat to the security of the Western European nations.
The danger is that Western and Eastern Germany might unite and adopt a policy which has existed for a short time and which could exist again—unity with the Soviet Union. That indeed would be a threat to the freedom of Western Europe and democracy everywhere. How can we do anything to avoid that? So far as I can see, the only thing is to assist Germany to establish a reasonable standard of living, treating her as an equal and encouraging her growing democratic aspirations as far as we can.
I am glad to see that there is a Liberal Party in Germany. That is something which is very desirable. There is no other policy than that which is the policy of the Government, and which is now seemingly accepted by the other countries of Europe. I do not believe that an association of independent countries in Western Europe will get it out of its difficulties. A purely negative idea of Western Europe as a military alliance and as an association to receive American assistance is something which will not secure us 2266 against a Germany which might become nationalist, nor against the even greater danger from the Soviet Union and from Communism.
Therefore, I was very disappointed in the attitude of the Foreign Secretary today and in what I have heard of what happened at Strasbourg. I was not there. No Liberal was there as a representative of the Liberals of this country. It happened that about 24 per cent. of the representatives of other European countries at Strasbourg were proud to call themselves Liberals, but there was no Liberal representative of this country, though Lord Layton, as an individual, appointed in his individual capacity, was honoured by the Assembly and his work appreciated.
I find through my contacts in Europe that the feeling is very widespread that it is the British Labour Party which is the greatest obstacle to the further development of European unity. It is deplorable that we did not have a special Debate to deal with Strasbourg. Almost every other Parliament provided a very early opportunity for their delegates to report on what happened at Strasbourg. I do not know why Parliamentary time could not have been found here by the Leader of the House if he had felt he had a good story to tell Parliament. Perhaps he was not altogether satisfied with the way he led the British delegation. I cannot tell.
At any rate, it reinforces the idea held on the Continent that the British Government looks with real suspicion on the development of European union into anything more than the loosest kind of association between Governments. That seems to be all against the traditions of the British Labour Party itself. It is a very short-sighted policy. It is one that the Americans do not seem to understand and one which the Labour Party's opposite numbers on the Continent cannot understand. It can only be explained by a new spirit of isolationism in the Labour Party itself. I hope it will be changed, and that it will not last for ever.
We got from the Foreign Secretary no sort of lead as to what his policy is to be in the future. The establishment of a democratic Government in Germany is a new development. The success in defeating, for the time being at any rate, 2267 the growing strength of Communism cannot be left just there. We have to go ahead. If not, we shall run into perhaps greater economic difficulties in 1950 and 1951 and we shall have no real organisation under our feet to meet them. However, I do not want to say anything more about that.
I should like to say a word about the Far East. I was very greatly encouraged when the Leader of the Opposition said that he thought it would be a reasonable thing to recognise the Communist Government of China. That is a view which I have already expressed in this House, and it seems to me to be good sense. I do not see what object there is in indefinite delay. If I felt that the delay was because the Government want to get the agreement of the Dominions or of the United States so that they could act together, that would perhaps be a good reason, but I feel it is again an example of the Foreign Minister's very British characteristic—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is, of course, not out of Order but I do not know if he knows that I have confined this Debate as far as possible to Western Europe, Germany and Strasbourg. I have told a good many hon. Members who wanted to speak on the Far East that as far as I was concerned I would not call them. In other words, they would not catch my eye.
§ Mr. Roberts
I did not know that, and as the Leader of the Opposition had referred to the matter I thought I should be in Order. I certainly bow to your request if not your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, and I shall say no more about it.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Burslem)
I thought the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was a little less than fair to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary today when he charged him with laxity in the matter of dismantling. I thought all of us recognised that the obligation about this problem was a tripartite arrangement and responsibility. We all know that the view of the French is vastly different from the view of the Americans, and, no doubt, the view of the right hon. Gentleman is different, too, from the view of the Americans. We seem to be 2268 agreed this evening that the future of Western Europe is going to be determined to a large extent by the appropriate control and the development of Germany. Germany is the linchpin of Europe. The chief factor about this position is the fear which is resident in the minds of all neighbouring States near Germany. That is easy to understand.
We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) this evening something about giving Germany a chance to develop her economic life, and rehabilitate herself and relieving her from some of her obligations in terms of finance. I must confess I thought he was a little optimistic in expecting that Germany would learn in a very short period of time the democratic ways of life, in the sense that we have known them in this country. The old background of German life, in terms of local government and Parliamentary experience, has nothing to compare with what we have known. None of us has any idea of keeping Germany down and sitting on her indefinitely, so as to subject her for all time to the kind of supervision which some people seem to fear, but it will be a long time before Germany has earned a right to be considered as a fit and proper nation to control even her own destiny. That destiny is wrapped up, whether we like it or not, with the well-being of Europe and the peace of the world.
It may be platitudinous to say so, but we must remind ourselves of it, that within 40 years or so Germany has upset the peace of the world twice. I have some moral outlook and some respect for Christian principles, and for that reason I should not expect to keep in mind indefinitely some of the atrocities that were committed, without hoping ever to forgive my German friends, and particularly the working men to whom my right hon. Friend referred. But I should be failing in my duty to myself and to my country, and to other countries in the world who suffered so grievously at the hands of those people, if I did not remember to what depth humanity can descend. I will not go so far as to say that some of the atrocities were peculiar to the German people, but I would remind hon. Members of the terrible and monstrous things 2269 which the Jews and other great bodies of nationals suffered at the hands of Germans, not only once in our lifetime.
While I personally wish the German nation all the luck in the world; while I am prepared to agree that we have a responsibility, particularly as Labour men, to recognise our comrades across the seas in every land as entitled to a decent standard of living, and while wishing to co-operate with them, I am not prepared to say that the Germans are to be relieved of their responsibility for much of the anarchy and the economic collapse in which the world finds itself today. Did my right hon. Friend mean that we should withdraw all our troops from Germany?
§ Mr. Davies
My right hon. Friend says "No," and I am glad to hear it. So far as the American obligation and the British obligation are concerned in terms of occupation, our responsibility is not likely to end for some time. My right hon. Friend made reference to what would happen. He suggested that at some time in the near future there might be a demand for a united Germany. We can very well expect it. In the divided condition in which she finds herself, Germany is able to bargain between the countries of the West and the great Soviet Union. There is a chance for her to play a new part. We are glad to hear of the progress that has been made since the setting up of the Bonn Government, but I am a little apprehensive about some of the economic developments in Western Germany.
For example, my right hon. Friend is apprehensive about financial developments going, on there. He referred to the Comité des Forges in France and feared some kind of similar development in Germany and a close affinity. One wonders what would happen if the great German steel industry were allowed without limit to develop and reach, as the Foreign Secretary said, an output of 16 million or 17 million tons? We should need to have an eye from these benches upon it, as we are interested in the development of steel in this country. We cannot allow either in this country, in France, in Germany or in any of the other Continental countries, individual development of basic industries without some kind of co-ordination and plan.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I was interested in what the hon. Member was saying about steel. Is he really saying that this is not merely a question of military security but of the competitive power of the German steel industry against British production?
§ Mr. Davies
I mentioned that point incidentally I think there is a danger from both the military and industrial sides. What I am saying now is that there should be some sort of planning of the basic industries of Europe We have the spectacle of Belgium, where there is much unemployment in the mining industry We are told in the Press today that they have three million tons of coal stockpiled there and cannot sell it because, they say, there is competition at a cheaper level from Britain. I have no doubt that in the course of time the same problems will arise in France.
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) refer to refugees. I shall never forget—if I may "reminisce" for one moment—the position which I saw in Germany several years ago, where the so-called refugees and "expellees" were being unloaded in the middle of Germany. It is a problem of some dimensions, and I hope that the Foreign Secretary, in consultation with his colleagues, is paying attention to it. It forms part of the problem that we are likely to encounter in the future. Here is a second aspect of German life of which we have to take account: there is large-scale unemployment in Germany. In October it was running at the rate of 9.4 in the British and American zones and rather less in the French zone. We can expect our German colleagues to be exercised about this bread-and-butter question.
Surely our aim should be to try to alter the life of Germany and of Western Europe so that we can raise the standard of living for all the communities concerned. May I say one word, however, about what Mr. McCloy said the other day? It seemed to me that he did not make matters any easier for the Foreign Secretary in dismantling. He talked at large, apparently without any kind of consultation with his colleagues. I thought there was joint responsibility. If that is so, may we not expect that there shall be some sort of agreement on these matters?
2271 We may expect from Germany a demand for frontier revision. The Germans are not going to be satisfied with what is happening in Poland. We may expect them to demand a healthy economic policy which will abolish unemployment and raise the standard of life. As I have said, there is wide-scale unemployment in Germany today. Some 500,000 men and women are not receiving statutory benefit but are on a relief scheme, which means that they have exhausted their benefit. I expect that the Germans will demand an equality of status among other nations, and we may also expect them to demand a share in the defence of Europe. What we have to ask ourselves is how far these ends are practicable, desirable and consonant with security.
I mentioned at the beginning that the besetting thought of all the Labour countries, and particularly France and the countries in East Europe, is one of fear, and rightly so. I repeat what was said by my right hon. Friend: "How can we resolve the problem?" Like the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts), I think that the planning of the basic industries is a matter for international co-operation. The amount spent on armaments today by individual nations is a luxury which the world cannot afford, and the sooner we can reduce it the better it will be for all of us. I hope that we shall come together, as the Foreign Secretary has sought to do with his colleagues on the Continent, and try to work out in practical terms some kind of collective force in which in the course of time the Germans themselves might have a place. If we can also have a place for the basic industries of the Ruhr, there will be some kind of control and an improvement in the standard of life.
We listened the other day to Mr. Hoffman talking about Marshall Aid in Europe. He reminded us that there is a limit to the aid which is forthcoming and that unless there were signs that the nations of Europe were co-operating, and unless there was some integration of economies in such a way that we were likely to be in an independent position, or well on the way to that, by 1952, the people of America would tire. Then he called for some attention to be paid to problems of currency, to the convertibility of currencies, the integration of 2272 economies and so on. He was very optimistic indeed if he thought that all these problems would be resolved within the very short time before 1952.
It is quite unrealistic and impracticable to expect that we can recast the economic life of Western Europe in this way. It is a great speculation and a great experiment which impinges on the national build-up of each of our countries, on trade union conditions and on our various ways of taxation. It even takes into consideration the problem of national sovereignty and of how far we are able to forgo national sovereignty in order to get the advantage of a planned economy in larger terms.
I welcome the work which was done at Strasbourg and the report we have had so far. My colleagues who went there deserve to be congratulated in that they were able to give up so much time to struggle in a very difficult situation with some of these problems. I know they must have felt discouraged at times and perhaps some of them, at least some from the other side of the House, would have liked a little more encouragement from the leaders of the Government. However, they did a very useful job of work, and I hope they will continue it.
We should be very careful indeed before we invest Germany with all the powers with which some people would like to invest her. There is no desire to prolong the feeling of enmity, if such exists, and I doubt if it exists to any considerable extent in this country. We desire nothing better than to have the peace of the world established and to live freely and to co-operate with all men, but we should be doing mankind a disservice if we put behind us the bitter, sorry experience we have known in our lifetime. This great country has a wonderful heritage and experience to place at the disposal of not only Western Europe but the rest of the world.
We desire peace but we recognise that there can be no peace or justice until there is law in the world and until the rights of the individual citizen are recognised and upheld. In this country we have had a unique experience in building up that kind of political life and that respect for humanity which should be copied elsewhere. I do not wish to be sanctimonious or ultra-religious, but I believe 2273 that in the Christian civilisation which this country has developed we have a great heritage to pass on to the world, and I hope that some of our comrades elsewhere who have suffered under the Nazi tyranny and are reaping the results now—even Germany is reaping the results of the whirlwind—will, as the French are trying to do, attempt to put behind them their traditional hatreds so that all may live together as a community.
In that connection I would not give up hope as far as the Soviet Union is concerned. I hope we shall continue in our good work of trying to build up a policy of friendship and understanding with the great Soviet Republic. Let us remember that their problems and background were something vastly different from ours. There existed illiteracy and all kinds of subjection and all kinds of difficulties which were peculiar to that country and made it necessary for them to follow a certain way of life. We regret very much some of the methods they employ today, but let us seek to come together in trade, political understanding and the study of problems such as atomic energy. If America, Britain and Russia can work harmoniously, the rest of the world will follow suit.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I agree with the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. Edward Davies) that every individual in every country in the world should enjoy certain basic human rights, but the difficulty is that throughout the Soviet system the human individual is denied any rights at all. I also agree with the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), that it is unlikely that the Soviet Union is at present anxious to start a third world war, subject always to the condition that were the Western Powers and the United States, now bound together by fear of the Soviet Union, to fall apart, the temptation might be very great.
The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw talked about the scorched earth policy in the extreme eventuality of war. We should do well to remember whose earth would be scorched in the initial stages. It would be French earth, Dutch earth and Belgian earth, earth which has already suffered occupation by the Nazis for varying periods during the last war. That is a factor which we in this House should 2274 never underestimate when we talk about defence arrangements for Western Europe.
When I listened to the Foreign Secretary giving a kind of progress report this afternoon, I asked myself how I would regard his statement had I been a Frenchman, a Dutchman, a Belgian or any national living in closer proximity to the Iron Curtain than we are here in these Islands. The Foreign Secretary gave us an impressive list of the conferences attended, of the discussions which had taken place, of the decisions which had been made. Of course there is all the difference in the world between taking a decision and implementing it, and that is fundamentally the test by which the right hon. Gentleman's term of office in the Foreign Office will be judged by future historians.
I fully sympathise with the Foreign Secretary in this sense, that he and his hon. Friends behind him were greatly handicapped for the first two or three years of his office by certain ideological obsessions. Broadly speaking, these fell under two main headings. The first was the 1945 obsession, dished up for the purposes of the Election, namely, that only a Socialist Britain could get on friendly terms with the Soviet Union. That was based on a complete misunderstanding of history and an equally complete misunderstanding of the minds of those who sit and work in the Kremlin. In any case, that illusion was quickly dispelled by events.
The second phase was almost as dangerous as the first. It was what I call the Socialist bulwark theory which, while admitting that the Iron Curtain was an unpleasantly familiar and highly mobile feature on the map of Europe and must be halted at an early date, held that this could only be achieved by a cordon sanitaire constructed with exclusively Socialist material. Unfortunately, during the last three or four years in hardly any country which has now been swallowed up by the Iron Curtain have the Socialist parties constituted a bulwark at all. I do not wish to rub salt into old wounds by quoting to hon. Gentlemen opposite the unfortunate example of Czechoslovakia or the incredible spectacle of Transport House backing Senor Nenni and the majority of the Italian Socialist party until the very eve of the Italian elections, when Nenni 2275 and his Socialists were in league with Senor Togliatti and the Communists in fighting elections against the Christian Democratic Party of De Gasperi who stood for Marshall Aid and for all the things for which the Foreign Secretary and most of us in this House stand.
§ Mr. Albu (Edmonton)
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that the countries in Europe which have the smallest Communist parties—with the exception of Germany which is a special case—are those countries with Socialist Governments?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
What happened was that at one stage or another in almost every case, the Socialists were the willing or unwilling stooges upon whose shoulders the Communists finally climbed into power.
It took a long time for the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to cotton on to the idea of a United Europe, mainly because it was the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) who was one of its principal architects. When the Foreign Secretary earlier this afternoon advised us not to carry party disputes from our own Parliament into a conference like Strasbourg, I thought that was a justified reproof of the Socialist delegates who attended that conference.
At long last, however, most right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are beginning to realise that British foreign policy cannot be conducted upon party lines because our relations with foreign countries, and above all relations with the Dominions, do not depend upon whether at any given moment the Government of those countries is of the same political colour as His Majesty's Government. For example, it would be fatuous to suppose that Anglo-Turkish relations—which are extremely important because they depend upon geographical features of immense strategic value—blow hot or cold according to whether or not the President of the Turkish Republic prefers "The Right Road for Britain" to "Labour Believes in Britain" in the unlikely event that he would have time to read either.
If the cold war has abated in Western Europe to some extent, let us try to make the best use of it as a breathing space, for it may well be a breathing space only. I would have thought that during the breathing space Yugoslavia was the key 2276 point. I am diffident about talking on Yugoslavia in front of my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) who is an expert on that country, and who may perhaps later on catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. However, I was frankly disappointed that the Foreign Secretary said nothing about the policy of His Majesty's Government towards Tito, and perhaps when the Under-Secretary replies he will fill that gap. If Tito holds out against the pressure from the Kremlin, and if there is no recrudescence of guerilla warfare in Greece, then considerable progress in South-Eastern Europe will be made. We shall, so to speak, have a good deal more elbow room.
I beg right hon. Gentlemen opposite to realise that any plan for the defence of Western Europe which does not take into account the importance of the Adriatic and the Eastern Mediterranean is largely meaningless. It is the old analogy of looking after the front door while leaving the side door open. In this respect I hope also that the Under-Secretary will say a word about the policy of His Majesty's Government towards Albania because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said, Albania is in a precarious position. She is geographically isolated from the rest of the Iron Curtain, but we know that there are large numbers of Russian technicians still in that country and we should like a little more information about what they are doing in the former Italian submarine base to which my right hon. Friend referred, at Sassano opposite Valona.
I hope we are not being a little too optimistic about events in Greece in the sense that we are counting our chickens before they are hatched. What has happened, it seems to me, is that once again the Greek Army, with its usual gallantry, has chased the guerillas across their frontiers, having defeated them in the field when they have been brought into action. Although the Yugoslav frontier is now closed, which is of immense importance to the Greeks and makes their task infinitely easier, the fact remains that several thousands of these guerillas have merely gone across into Bulgaria or Albania and no one knows whether or not they will come back in the spring. Indeed, whether or not they do so depends upon events in Yugoslavia. The two are inextricably connected.
2277 If Tito was liquidated or if his resistance to the Cominform collapsed, then the threat to Greece would recur in its severest form. For this reason I am not too happy about the timing of the decision to withdraw the small British token force from Greece. The small British token force has been in the last four years of great psychological value in the sense that it has been the only physical token of our interest in the independence of that country—a physical token which no military, naval or air mission however efficient could ever be. By the withdrawal of this force we are withdrawing the outward and visible sign of our interest in the independence of that country.
I fear that that decision may be deliberately misinterpreted in certain quarters as a weakening of our interest in Greek independence—which is certainly not the case—and, following upon the incredible support we have given for the inclusion of Czechoslovakia in the Security Council, as a futile, last-minute attempt to appease the Soviet Union. It would be much better to wait until the spring and to think again, and I cannot conceive what possible use can be served by merely switching the troops from Greece to Cyprus.
I should like in conclusion to refer to the 28,000 kidnapped Greek children, about whom Questions were asked yesterday in the House. The Foreign Secretary told us that, in spite of the resolution in the United Nations Assembly, not one child had been repatriated to its parents. We were told that representatives of the International Red Cross had visited Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Can the Under-Secretary of State tell us when he replies what happened when those visits were made? Did the representatives of the International Red Cross actually visit the camps; did they check up the lists of names and addresses; did they receive any sort of co-operation from the authorities or, as one might expect, were the usual kind of obstacles put in the way?
Is any settlement of this frightful problem any nearer than before, or is the authority of U.N.O. to be continually flouted month in and month out? What is the real obstacle to the repatriation of these children? When we consider the public outcry which arose from the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby, it is a 2278 bitter condemnation of so-called post-war civilisation that public opinion is apparently so indifferent to the removal from their parents of 28,000 Greek children, which must be one of the most inhuman acts ever recorded in history, and equals the blackest pages of the Middle Ages, which all of us, in this House and outside, so rightly deplore. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to use all his influence with his American colleagues and other men of good will, whatever their country, to do something to solve this problem with the utmost possible speed.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Zilliacus (Gateshead)
The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) made one point with which, I think, the whole House will agree: that there is virtual national unity in foreign policy. That national unity has been achieved by the simple method of the Labour Government throwing overboard the election pledges of the Labour Party and taking the Tory line, as the Leader of the Opposition has rubbed in on several occasions, with no denial. Unfortunately that line, that foreign policy, is leading us deeper and deeper into a great crisis and nearer and nearer to a third world war.
I will illustrate those two points with the cases of Western Union and Western Germany. A good many speakers have reproached the Labour Government for not heeding Mr. Paul G. Hoffman with sufficient alacrity and going all the way into Western Union. It has been pointed out gleefully by the Conservative and Liberal papers that this, of course, would mean a considerable measure of uniformity in the social, economic and financial policies of the States combining in Western Union.
That is where the difficulty begins, because American intervention has restored capitalism throughout Western Europe, and has done so at the cost of reducing the working class in those countries to a truly pitiable plight. In Italy, for instance, some 2,500,000 people are unemployed; the standard of living is only about two-thirds of what it was even under Mussolini. In France, the average real wage of the French worker today is the equivalent of £15 a month in this country, and the standard of living will go still further down as the results of devaluation become felt. In Belgium 2279 there is large-scale unemployment. In all these countries social services are at a very low level, Income Tax is paid erratically, if at all, controls and rationing are off, the rich do themselves proud and there is glaring social injustice. That is why it is exceedingly difficult for the Labour Government to go all the way into Western Union.
The alternative course, however, is hardly more attractive. It is the one which, I believe, is favoured by the Foreign Secretary. He alluded to that fact in his speech this afternoon. He did so in the House on 18th July. The view was aired freely in the newspapers here at the time of the Washington Conference. That policy—that is, the alternative policy—of Great Britain standing half out of Western Union but going into a tripartite arrangement with the United States and Canada, is attributed in the United States to Mr. George F. Kennan in the State Department.
But that view also has considerable difficulties if we begin to examine it. One of these, of course, is that it means we are exposed to the full blast of an American depression, and even a quite small American depression, which would not worry the Americans very much, would be enough to knock us off our perch, as devaluation has shown. Even without a slump, the results of that policy may be very drastic for this country. They were summed up quite accurately, I believe, in the "New York Herald-Tribune" on 28th September by a friendly and shrewd American critic, Mr. Walter Lippman, who had this to say:… In a union between the gigantic economic power of the United States and of the British economy as it is today, there can be no true partnership of equals. No amount of tact and good will could disguise or long prevent the inexorable consequence of such a union: the reduction of the United Kingdom to an American dependency in which we, who would be paying the piper"—that is, the United States—would be calling the tune. The British nation is not, we may be confident, prepared to resign and to retire as a great power in the world, and to be pensioned off by the United States.For this conception of their future is the nadir of defeatism, appeasement, and of moral surrender—and it is an economic monstrosity as well.2280 It is either that or Western Union, or a mixture of the disadvantages of both.
Matters will not be improved by bringing Western Germany into the combination, for the position of the West German workers is even more tragic than that of the French, Italian and Belgian workers. The average wage of the 12,500,000 workers in Western Germany, expressed in real wages, is the equivalent of £11 a month in this country. That ranges from 600,000 civil servants drawing the munificent salary of £16 5s. a month to 1,200,000 women clerks who have to try to live on £8 a month. Most of the industrial workers live at about £10 10s. a month. On top of that, the unemployed today number something like 1,300,000 and are expected to rise to over two million in the spring.
This, again, is the result of the American policy of restoring capitalism in Western Germany and of the failure of the Foreign Secretary to carry out his pledge to the German people, which was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, given in the House on 22nd October, 1946, to nationalise the industries of the Ruhr. So far from carrying out the pledge, when the Diet of the Rhine-Westphalian province, by a three-quarters majority, including many of the Christian Democrats, passed a law for nationalising the industries of the Ruhr, it was vetoed by the British Military Governor, under the responsibility of the Foreign Secretary.
The result is, of course, that we have gone back to exactly the thing which the Foreign Secretary said must never happen: that is, to restore the power of the Ruhr magnates. If anyone wants to follow up that painful subject, I can warmly recommend a study of it made on the spot and published by the Union of Democratic Control, called "Can we Face German Competition?" The conclusions of that study have all been amply verified by events, the conclusions being that the size of industry in Western Germany is very nearly pre-war, that the damage done by bombing is less than has been thought—and a lot has been built up since.
This and the further statement, in the pamphlet to which I have referred, that the United States would help to build up German industry, have been greatly 2281 reinforced by the ending of dismantling and by the news that there is some sort of a deal being arranged between German and French big business, with American capital being poured in to cement the deal, the British steel industry being left out for the present, although perhaps with the convenient postponement of nationalisation it may find its niche in the united West European compradors of Wall Street.
The conclusion of this pamphlet, which I endorse fully, is:The elections were a walk-over for the Right-wing parties, for the parties, that is, who stand for 'free enterprise' under unrestricted capitalism. But a capitalist Germany … will not, and perhaps cannot compete on fair terms with a Socialist Britain. Either the German capitalists who now run Western Germany will cease to cut their export prices at the cost of the mass of the people; or Britain will sooner or later be driven to compete with Western Germany on Western Germany's terms—low wages, next to no building for the people, scanty or non-existent social services, and a general policy of devil-take-the hindmost.… The condition of Western Germany today is an urgent threat to the standard of living of the workers of Britain and of other European countries. Western Germany is today a capitalist slum with sweated wages, high unemployment, bad or non-existent social services, next to no building for the workers. This is the Western Germany which now means to undercut our exports.The conclusion is rammed home by pointing out:The West German economy is now securely controlled by the Americans … West German industry … has every prospect of attracting the close and continued interest of large American corporations desirous of investing their surplus capital abroad … German competition, therefore, is also American competition. And the deciding voice is likely to be American not German. The whole emphasis of the German export drive is at present turned westward, where it is bound to compete ever more sharply with British exports—instead of being directed towards markets, notably in Eastern Europe, where a large and as yet unsatisfied demand for German manufactured goods now exists.So much for this wonderful policy of a cold war against one-third of the world, for which we are paying more and more dearly. The House a few days ago discussed the same situation in relation to Japan, which is having equally disastrous results to the struggling trade of this country. The Government are helping this development by encouraging manufacturers to abandon the markets they have already gained to German com- 2282 petition, in order to batter themselves against the American tariff wall and perish under the pressure of American vested interests and pressure groups and, if they survive, to go down in the next American slump. It is a magnificent policy.
That is not the end of it. As big business takes charge, militarism, Fascism and irredentism are rearing their heads in Western Germany. Field-Marshal Lord Wavell pointed out the other day that Germany was bidding fair to become again a serious danger to peace. There have been faint echoes in today's Debate; there were clearer echoes at the time of the Atlantic Pact Debate; the same note was sounded at the time that Western Defence was discussed a week ago in another place, and it has crept out cautiously in our newspapers, that, after all, Western Germany should take her share of the defence of Western Europe, which means in plain English that big business Nazi Western Germany should be rearmed, and that the whole vicious cycle should start all over again. We are still very coy about that. There are denials. I attach the same importance to those denials as I do to the denials that went on for two or three years that we were lining up with the United States and building up common defence arrangements with them against the Soviet Union. Then one day those facts came out into the open.
I have good reason for saying that one of the main causes of disagreement between Lord Beaverbrook and the Leader of the Opposition is that Lord Beaverbrook does not believe that the Soviet Union want war. He agrees with Lord Wavell that they want peace. He believes that they have more to fear from the Americans than the other way round. Therefore, he is opposed to the rearming of Western Germany, and also opposed to this country being reduced to the status of a greater Cuba in the cause of the cold war.
The decision is not in our hands. The decision is in the hands of the United States. The fact is quite freely discussed in the United States, when American strategy is being discussed, that the French will not fight, the Italians never were willing to fight, and that the only people who will really fight in Western 2283 Europe are Franco Spain, a largely re-Nazified Western Germany and, they believe, Labour Britain. I believe they are wrong on the last point, but that is what they believe. It is a very dubious compliment.
The American Press has been far more frank than anybody would venture to be on this side, as to the plans for the re-militarisation of Germany. For instance, the "Washington Times Herald" of 31st March, 1948, had an article by Mr. John O'Donnell in which he said:We are now about to make military sense in Germany. Despite denials from some sources, we have drawn up plans to reactivate some of those tough fighting German Panzer and S.S. divisions. Give them plenty of food and first-rate American equipment and let them, led by American officers, fight a rearguard action when and if pal Joey decides to send a few Commie armies.The Conservative "United States News" of 30th July, 1948, said:U.S. military officials in Germany are talking in terms of the rebuilding of a German army as an offset to Russian strength in Europe. This talk is causing a rather sharp reaction in France and other countries in Western Europe.A few days later, on 6th August, the same newspaper reported that:U.S. military men, who have been shaping U.S. policy in Germany, favour the rebuilding of a German military force as an offset to the Russians. The military attitude is that the Germans are more ready to take on military obligations than are the French, who are slow to make serious moves towards rearmament.We have not gone slow. We are using 8 per cent. of our national substance on armaments, which is much more than any other country, and is quite enough to wreck this country. The Chancellor, in the devaluation Debate on 26th October, promised that expenditure would be increased in the next Budget. I do not suppose that anybody in the House has been taken in by the swindle of the supposed saving of £30 million on this year's Budget. All the Government have done is to avoid the painful necessity of asking for a Supplementary Estimate of £30 million for Hong Kong. The total remains the same. It is still £760 million.
As a result of this vast burden of rearmament, however hard we work, we cannot possibly make ends meet. As a result of submitting to the American cold war policy and American strategic in- 2284 terests we cannot trade with the world, not even with China, great though our interests are in that field. It is quite impossible for us to close the dollar gap. We cannot quadruple our exports to the United States. We cannot even hold the £ at 2.80 dollars. The £ is already being quoted at 2.50 dollars on the American black market, and our Press is already discussing that fact.
In this and in much more we are paying for a crazy and fanatical Foreign policy—the policy first formulated at Fulton and faithfully followed by the Labour Government ever since. This policy rests on two propositions. The first is that we must stop world Communism by force. That again rests on identifying all serious social and colonial unrest with Communism and on identifying Communism with Soviet aggression and expansion. The second proposition was expressed by the Leader of the Opposition at Fulton when he said that what was wanted wasnot a quivering, precarious balance of power, but an overwhelming assurance of strength.That meant an overwhelming superiority of force. He imagined that this could be obtained by banding together the forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire, the United States and Western Europe.
The plain truth is that Communism cannot be stopped by force even if there is an overwhelming superiority of force. If time permitted I could trace that in detail from the history of intervention in Russia, and particularly in the Ukraine and Siberia. The same will prove true in Greece and Spain. The same has proved true in China and proved true in Europe between the wars, when the Fascists had overwhelming superiority of force for 10, 15 or 20 years and used it with the utmost violence and brutality. In the end all that they had done was to convert the working classes to Communism as the only means of fighting their way out of Fascism.
The Tories never understand the argument put forward that democratic Socialism is the best answer, because it is not a question of stopping by force something that arrives in a suitcase or in tanks from Moscow. It is a question of the workers revolting against intolerable social conditions. Make conditions tolerable, give them peaceful means of redress and there 2285 is no reason why they should revolt. People do not revolt for the fun of it. They do it when they find that it is the only alternative to counter-revolution and Fascism. If the Tories had their way the whole world would be driven into counter-revolution and Fascism. They are prepared to go all the way to Fascism and a third world war to stop the spread of Socialism in the world, whether by democratic and constitutional or any other means.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
Will the hon. Member agree that, in spite of all his efforts, he himself is being denounced as a Fascist or something like it by the Kremlin? And does that not show how little good it does to try to kill them by kindness?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
My reason for believing that the Soviet Union wants and needs peace as much as we do, does not rest on agreement with her controversial manners, her ideas of democracy or even on the view that the Soviet Government is always right. I do not hold any of those views. But I hold the view that the Soviet Government wants and needs peace. I agree with Lord Wavell on that. I agree with the Secretary of State for War, who said the same thing, somewhat inconsistently, in a recruiting speech at Liverpool in October, 1948.
In the second place, even if Communism could be destroyed with overwhelming superiority of force, the point is that we can never obtain an overwhelming superiority of force. The best we can hope for is a precarious quivering balance of power, which will quiver more and more and become more and more precarious as we rearm, until the whole edifice topples over and overwhelms us in the ruins. The whole strategy of the Leader of the Opposition and the United States rested on the belief that the United States had the monopoly of the atomic bomb and that the atomic bomb was the absolute sovereign weapon. Time and again, the Leader of the Opposition has said that the world's hope for peace rests upon the atom bomb—done up in the Stars and Stripes of course. I do not want to be blasphemous or even un-Parliamentary, but it is literally true to say that the atomic bomb is a hell of a foundation for world peace. In any case the military limitations of the atomic bomb have now been exposed, first by 2286 Professor Blackett in his book, then by General Fuller and various American military writers, and now has been shown up by the American admirals during an all-in scrap with the Air Force before Congress with the Kleig lights on.
China has solidly joined the Socialist bloc. The Soviet Union has the atomic bomb. Therefore the whole military foundation of that policy to which I have referred has crashed—it has collapsed, it has gone. On top of that, this policy is losing its hold on the minds of the people. The believers in the policy of force are falling back on reckoning in tons of steel. They say that the Western camp can produce three times as much steel as the Eastern bloc. They should remember what Lenin said during the First World War. He said that the war would be won not at the front but in the workshop.
I say that the cold war will be lost in the workshops of Britain and Europe. The workers will not put up with this sort of thing. They have had enough of it. They want peace. They are tired of being bled to death. They will not work their fingers to the bone and they will not agree to the freezing of wages and the freezing of the social status quo so as to prepare for their destruction in a third world war. Why should they sacrifice their standard of living and get ready to lose their lives in an utterly idiotic, unnecessary, suicidal and genocidal war?
It is the nadir and Nemesis of bad and dishonest statesmanship that it ends by provoking a revolt of the people, who will not tolerate any longer the incompetence and bad faith in the foreign policy of their leaders. That goes for both Front Benches. We shall reach that point very shortly, the point where there will be revolt because it will be the only alternative to intolerable conditions, with no prospect but world war in sight. I plead with the Government to make up their minds while there is still time, and to change their disastrous foreign and defence policy.
I will conclude by quoting what has been said by an American enemy of the policy for which I and my hon. Friends stand. He is a strong supporter of the present Anglo-American power politics. He says on this very subject—and this is a star Washington political correspondent, 2287 Stewart Alsop, writing after his return from a trip round the world—as reported in the "New York Herald-Tribune" of 5th September:One conclusion appears reasonable to the traveller returned from a journey of political observation round the world. This is that American foreign policy, both in Europe and in Asia, is now faced with failure. …The first danger is in Europe. Unless bold counter-measures are taken, the British are now expected to go bankrupt within the next six to eighteen months. … The British reaction to the threat of bankruptcy is already apparent. It is, first, to try to erect an autarchic economic system within the sterling bloc, insulated against the United States and the rest of the world. It is, second, to cut British commitments abroad to the bone.And, it is, third, to make barter deals with the Soviet Union and the Soviet sphere.As final bankruptcy approaches, these reactions will be intensified. … Finally, the cry for political as well as economic deals with the Soviets, already heard on the British Left, will become much louder. One can almost read the editorials in advance: 'Our choice—Yank bombers on British soil or Russian wheat in British mouths.'I ask the Government to say they stand for Russian wheat and no Yankee bombers on our soil.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) began by saying that over a period of time the present Foreign Secretary had consistently followed a purely Tory policy. I leave that for somebody on the benches opposite to answer. They will doubtless deal with him quite faithfully in subsequent speeches in this Debate and perhaps indeed in his constituency in the near future. In the next Parliament we shall miss the "snippet king" with his attractive speeches made up of quotations from the more obscure American papers, and animated with hatred and dislike of the American people to whom we owe so much and with whom our destinies are indissolubly linked.
The hon. Gentleman took us on a tour through Western Europe. We moved in his company from France to Belgium, Italy and into the Western zone of Germany. He told us of the poor wages there and the unemployment, and then he stopped. He did not tell us that coming across the frontiers from the Eastern zone were large numbers of refugees who had to be absorbed into 2288 the economy of Western Germany. He did not tell us of the camps in which literally hundreds of people are living under the most severe hardships because they would rather live under those terrible conditions, which hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House have seen, than endure the tyranny on the other side of the border. Neither did he tell us anything about the quarter of a million German prisoners of war who were taken to serve in silence camps in Russia, from which no word has ever come.
The Foreign Secretary greatly interested us with his review of foreign affairs today, but I hope he will not think I am in any way impertinent if I say to him that I wish that he had been rather more of an architect than a builder. The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with problems of foreign policy as they have come to him, competently, faithfully and patriotically, but I have some difficulty in seeing the aim he has firmly set before himself as the position this country should hold in the councils of the world. What is his idea of the shaping of foreign policy? He started off with, and this Debate has ranged over, two themes—the theme of the future treatment of Germany and the theme of Western Union. In that matter I believe there are not two themes but one, and one alone.
As I have listened to some of this evening's speeches I have felt that we might be making a great mistake as to our future treatment of Germany. I do not believe that we can now deal with Germany by making concessions spread over a period of years. There was certainly a time when Germany was prostrate and had to take whatever the Western Powers gave her. There was also a period, up to the time of the elections, when we were in a far stronger position to impose our will upon Germany, but now there have been elections in the Western zone of Germany. We have to face the fact that Germany has to be negotiated with and no policy which is going to be effective in Germany can be arranged without the agreement of the democratically elected German people.
Therefore, I hope that as the High Commissioners are engaged in their present difficult and delicate task they will not pursue a policy of political strip- 2289 tease. Let us get a clear and definite understanding with the German people at the present time. The policy of magnanimity to the defeated was tried by this country in its relations with South Africa after the South African war. On the whole, it has served us well and it has stood this country in very good stead. I believe that a similar policy, adapted to the special needs of the case, is the right one to pursue towards Germany. We cannot have a strong Germany loose in Europe—loose and unattached. She would be a menace and a danger to all the other powers. A weak Germany would be equally dangerous.
Great as the recovery in Germany has been from the time of the Wehrungsreforme and continuing now at an accelerated pace, I wonder how much further recovery there will be before the economy encounters considerable difficulty. Already grave problems facing Germany are lack of modern capital equipment, to a large extent the loss of young technicians able to assume responsibility when the older technicians drop out and the appalling problem of eight million or nine million refugees. I do not believe Western Germany alone is either strong enough or competent enough, to ensure her future and to solve these problems. These German industries and people are situated in a part of Europe so strategic as to make it essential that we should not allow that strength and ability to run loose. It must be harnessed in the service of Western Europe.
The right hon. Gentleman once stated his policy in terms—he has a gift of statement of policy in human terms. He wished to be able to go to Victoria Station and buy a ticket to wherever he chose. That is an admirable policy, but we are not much closer to it, despite the right hon. Gentleman's occupancy of his office, than we were when he announced it.
§ Mr. Butcher
I am delighted to hear that, but I would doubt whether we are as far advanced as the right hon. Gentleman thinks. Nevertheless, if that is the policy, what does it imply? It implies a far greater interchange of men, of labour, 2290 of capital, of goods throughout the whole of united Western Europe. It is towards those objectives that we must move. Unemployment in Italy is a danger to the prosperity of this country.
It must also be borne in mind that if we are taking real steps towards Western Union, which so many of us would desire to see pressed forward with rather more enthusiasm and more eagerness than the Government have shown up to the present, it will have repercussions on the economic life of this country. Western Union in which the peoples who believe in the Christian civilisation can live together in peace and prosperity, is not going to be achieved without some substantial hardships and difficult adjustments of which our country must take its share. Because we have not felt those readjustments and those hardships, I am inclined to doubt whether the progress is as great as it could be.
By not allowing an adequate and special day at an early date for a full discussion of the Strasbourg Conference, the Government have gravely misunderstood the desire of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to hear from their colleagues, of all political opinions, their impressions when they were fresh in their minds. They have equally misunderstood the keen and abiding interest which the people of this country have in working together. I am convinced that the people of this country, and of the whole of Europe are determined that there shall be closer unity, closer co-operation amongst each and every nation and individual. I therefore regret very much that the Government did not give an early opportunity for these matters to be discussed.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Manchester, Hulme)
The hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) has discovered that unemployment in other Western European countries can affect the standards of life of the people in Britain. I do not know whether this is the first loosening of the close connections between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Nationals and that we can now expect that in his election manifesto the hon. Member will advocate a planned economy as the only method of ridding Europe of mass unemployment.
2291 The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) spoke of the attitude of the British Labour delegation at Strasbourg and was somewhat critical of it. Like so many of his colleagues, he came to the conclusion that because the British Labour delegation insisted upon putting the points of view in which they believed, they were guilty of ideological despotism or something of that kind. The most peculiar thing is that when the Tories oppose that policy they do not do it from any ideological considerations, but merely because it is right and proper that everybody should consider the Socialists wrong and the Tories right.
One of the things that I deplore is that, with certain honourable exceptions, such as the "Manchester Guardian," the British Press did scant justice to the reports on the Assembly at Strasbourg. I believe they had a good opportunity, not by giving one-sided reports but by quoting verbatim the type of thing that went on, to interest the people of Britain in what is undoubtedly a very great experiment upon which quite a lot will depend.
§ Mr. Lee
I deplore that they missed that opportunity. The hon. Member for Windsor and others have pointed out that certain organs of the Press were critical of the British Socialist delegation at Strasbourg, but he should not imagine that the Tories escaped entirely scot-free. I have seen one or two of the organs of the American Press which have been very critical indeed of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) who, when he was analysing his attitude toward European unity in the course of his speech at Strasbourg, informed the conference that he would like to have a look at the lady before he married her. Far be it from me to question the honourable intentions of the right hon. Gentleman in the last analysis, but I understand from the same organ of the American Press that, at the Press conference which followed, the right hon. Member for Woodford decided not to face the newspaper men on this intricate problem of his relationship with the young lady but, in fact, sent the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), who faced the critics. I was not present at that 2292 Press conference, but I understand that the right hon. Member for Bromley also was rather shy in declaring that he was about to enter into the bonds of matrimony with the said young lady.
I believe that if we are to make a success of international conferences of this type, we should not be too squeamish if party politics show their head. Indeed, I would say that a conference of mixed political parties which did not show political life would be completely and utterly artificial. Looking back at Strasbourg—and of course I except myself—I think it was a very considerable success, especially when we take into consideration the complicated nature of the problems with which we had to deal. It was the first time such a conference had met and it was the first occasion upon which many of us had seen the colleagues with whom we sat during the course of our deliberations.
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) mentioned, quite rightly, some of the problems that beset us at Strasbourg. The British Socialists, quite naturally, were concerned that if there was to be integration in Europe it should be done in a properly planned way in order that we might avoid the horrors of mass unemployment. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) was quite within his rights, as a person believing in Conservative viewpoints, when he told the conference that there was, in fact, a majority of anti-Socialists there, and that we must ensure that co-operation and co-ordination were not carried out by Governments but by the people in fact in charge of industry. I do not complain in the least at that. I expect it. But when that type of comment comes, quite rightly, from Conservatives, it is a little squeamish for other Conservatives to complain when British Socialists put the Socialistic point of view so far as co-operation in Europe is concerned.
I really want the right hon. Member for Bromley, when he winds up the Debate for his party, to tell us something. We in Britain have tried, in the most adverse economic circumstances that any Government in peace time have ever encountered, to plan an economy, and a complicated economy which had bled itself white to defeat Fascism. We are proud of the way in which, on the whole, 2293 that planning has turned out. Yet during the whole period we have been subjected to sneers and jeers from the Opposition, as planners whose schemes always go wrong, and so on. Planning on a national scale is in its infancy. How much more complicated is planning on an international scale, on the vast scale necessary to co-ordinate the old economies of Europe, and to do it in such a way that the teeming millions of Europe will not suffer in the process. I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman how people who do not believe in national planning can really convince us or themselves that they are the instruments by which Europe can be successfully co-ordinated.
Let me turn for a moment to the question of economic integration in Europe, which I suggest is the greatest single issue. One cannot begin to discuss that project without first asking who is to do the integrating? What type of economy do we envisage? At what pace can we proceed? There is a host of key questions of that type to answer. Because we Socialists, who, incidentally, have a far better international record than the party opposite, see co-operation is a necessary operation between peoples as a whole, and not between those people who in the past have successfully managed the cartels of Europe, and because we insist that it shall be in the interests of the people, we are accused by the Press and by certain Tory spokesmen—I do not say all of them—of not wanting the successful co-ordination of the economies of Europe.
There are certain weaknesses which, I feel, revealed themselves in the Council of Europe during the period when we were at Strasbourg. Those of my colleagues who were present there would agree with me that it would have been indeed a miracle if we could have got through the conference without weaknesses disclosing themselves, in view of the newness of the venture, and so on.
I wish to bring certain points to the notice of my right hon. Friend. In the first place, I believe that, contrary to what was said by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the Lord President of the Council, before the end of that conference the vast majority of the delegates were extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend the Lord President for the way in which he insisted upon getting a 2294 sound constitution. Hon. Members who were there will know, for instance, about the principle of substitutes, and of how it was, in fact, a grave danger that might have ruined the conference. We were trying to get a Parliamentary atmosphere, and I suggest that we could not very well have done that if one Member could run out for a cup of coffee and somebody else could jump into his place and make a speech, and then disappear so that we could not see him any more. I think that is a fair analysis of what was happening. We were in danger of losing any semblance of Parliamentary atmosphere because of that type of thing. The Council has now agreed to delete the idea of substitutes, and I believe that our deliberations in the future will be all the better for it.
One of the things which I feel was causing our debates to lack the atmosphere which we all appreciate so much in this Chamber was the fact that we had no Front Bench against whom to direct our fire or to whom to extend our compliments. We had no Aunt Sally, as it were, against whom to "have a go." The very fact that no official element was there to answer our debates was something which, I think, we all missed very much indeed.
This brings me to wondering whether the present relationship between the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly is, in fact, the best one. I wonder whether it would not be better if we could have the Committee of Ministers represented, although I know that this would mean enlarging the Committee of Ministers. For instance, in a debate on foreign policy, could we not have the Foreign Secretaries present to reply; on economics, the economic Ministers of the various Governments? That type of thing would lead to far better conclusions within the Assembly itself, and not leave this void. I believe that it would help very materially if we had that type of Assembly rather than the one we had at Strasbourg.
§ Mr. Lee
I appreciate that point. What I mean is this: During our proceedings we had a debate on foreign policy. We had no one who could give us an idea of 2295 what the Committee of Ministers were thinking on any particular point. When discussing economics, we had no Minister present to tell us what the Ministers were thinking in terms of economics. I know that no one Minister could himself commit the whole of the Committee of Ministers. On the other hand, I think that it would be of advantage if we could have their ideas on the principal issues as we raised them in the Assembly.
I believe that the absence of what we call in this House the "usual channels" was also a great weakness. For instance, in the Permanent Committee last week in Paris, this was revealed very clearly indeed. I felt that in pursuing the replies sent by the Committee of Ministers on the reports from Strasbourg there was a very grave danger that we were not understanding each other clearly. I do not like this business of sending letters all about the place. I believe that if we could get closer together and discuss these things, instead of having to exchange letters, we would get rid of many of the misunderstandings that arise.
The Committee of Ministers seem to have the idea that the Economic Committee, for instance, wanted to set up a large number of technical sub-committees—to erect a whole range of economic experts, technicians and people of that type. The fact is that we did not want anything of the sort. What we are really asking for is that we should have at our disposal the help of existing organisations—O.E.E.C. and organisations of that type—which are made up of excellent people who have done remarkable work in getting out technical information—this is the key point—before we are asked to make our report. The Committee of Ministers may send these reports to O.E.E.C. and similar organisations.
I know this is only the first year, but I suggest that it would be most helpful, not only to the members of these committees but also to the Committee of Ministers, if the committees could give the Committee of Ministers advice based on technical information which we had been able to ascertain from O.E.E.C. experts before making our report. I think that the Committee of Ministers misunderstand us in thinking that we are asking them to spend thousands of pounds on setting up other organisations, whereas in fact we 2296 agree entirely that there are enough of these organisations, and that the question is one of getting the proper relationship between those organisations and the Assembly itself.
Finance has already been touched on today. I know that one can at times be a little irresponsible in wanting a lot of sub-committee meetings, especially if one is able to go to nice places such as Rome; but I believe that if the Committee of Ministers would agree to place at the disposal of the Assembly a global sum which the Assembly would have to allocate to the various committees, it would conduce to a far more responsible attitude towards the spending of the money. For instance, I would ensure that the right hon. Member for Bromley did not have six meeting's in some salubrious spot while my committee could not have more than one in, say, Manchester. There would be a greater degree of responsibility shown if we knew the global sum which had to be allocated and the number of committees it had to accommodate. I ask my right hon. Friend to examine that seriously.
I now turn to the momentous issue of the inclusion of Germany in the Council of Europe. Of course, on this there is no dissension between the Committee of Ministers, the Permanent Committee and the Assembly. Candidly, I think that economic unity in Western Europe is a farce without Germany, but I would point out—and I cast my vote in favour of this—that agreeing to Germany coming back within the comity of nations implies certain basic things which must be faced. It implies, for instance, that in bringing a nation into the Assembly, all of whose members are discussing how vastly to increase their own productivity, we cannot at the same time say to that nation, "You must stand still, because we do not trust you in increasing your productivity."
In saying this I am not criticising my right hon. Friend on the dismantling policy; I believe he has been right a thousand times all the way through. The right hon. Member for Woodford was less than fair this afternoon in contrasting zones which have nothing like the same amount of dismantling to do as the British zone, and complaining that we continued with dismantling after those other zones had finished, while at the same time saying it was very necessary to ensure that 2297 the German war machine could never again come into operation. That was completely contradictory and paradoxical, and it was less than fair of him to make that statement. He spoke of this action as throwing mud on a glorious picture, and told us that happily other hands may be able to wash off that mud. I would remind him that possibly those other hands could never have painted the glorious picture in the first place.
If we are to bring Germany to Strasbourg we must re-orientate our ideas on productivity, because it would be better not to bring her there than to bring her and then make her feel isolated from the rest of the Western countries by not being allowed to increase her productivity while the rest of us were carrying on doing so. They would then have the same excuses that they had after Versailles.
In conclusion, I mention one other matter which has already been touched upon. No matter how sincere the delegates at Strasbourg may be, and no matter how unanimous the Governments of Western Europe may be, we shall not make a success of unity in Europe unless the common people of the lands are given an opportunity to know what it means, to know what we are doing and are brought to believe in it as we do. It is essential that we should do everything we can to show precisely what we are trying to do. It would be folly to lead them to believe that we can get a federal set-up in a few years. It is necessary to show to them that not only the safety of all of us, but the retention of full employment and a decent standard of living will depend on getting rid of the old, tired economy of Western Europe and erecting a more unified economy to give us a higher standard of productivity.
I ask my right hon. Friend, with his great influence with the trade union movement, to try to bring them along with us, to ask them to realise that much which they desire and which I desire as a trade unionist, having had three years of unemployment, depends on the speed with which we can integrate many of our great industries. I know there are dangers, but I also know that if we can bring the trade unions along with us and find a place for them so that they can bring advice to our Economic Committee and to the General Assembly, 2298 they will be helping towards the retention of full employment and to the great blessing of Western European unity.
I have talked in the Permanent Committee to our French comrades, and they are apprehensive of what can happen if the unity between France and Britain which my right hon. Friend has worked for so long should fall asunder while Germany is brought into the Council of Europe. I do not want to enlarge on that, because the prospect is open for us all to see. I hope that we can assure our French friends, as this Government has done more than any other government to assure the Continental governments, not in lip service but in a practical sense. I am no starry-eyed dreamer so far as Western Europe is concerned, but by these methods we can bring in an economy which will be able to face the dollar world, resurrect a productive effort capable of giving our people a higher standard of living, and bring to a sorely-tried world the culture of centuries, uniting East and West as no other part of the world can do.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
The hon. Member for the Hulme Division of Manchester (Mr. Lee) deplored the absence from Strasbourg of an Aunt Sally. But here we are more fortunate. I should like to begin by saying a few words on the statement of the Foreign Secretary. It always seems to me surprising how little attention the Foreign Secretary pays in his speeches to the real issues that confront us, to the real urgency of the situation today. There are times when he seems to forget that we are not at peace but engaged in a cold war which our adversaries are waging with all the ruthlessness and bitterness of a real war, and that our opponent's aim is, not a friendly understanding with us, but our utter destruction.
I do not myself believe that Stalin wants a war at the present time. He is a very cautious man, and to want a war he would have to be quite certain that he was going to win it, and I see no reason at all why he should believe that today. But that does not mean he will never want a war. In due course, he may reach the conclusion that the balance of power is sufficiently in his favour to give him a good chance of victory, that the moment has come to deal the death 2299 blow to his adversaries and thus clear the way to Soviet world supremacy, which is his openly avowed aim.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Will the hon. Gentleman quote any statement by Stalin to justify that last assertion?
§ Mr. Maclean
The whole body of Communist literature revolves round that. The hon. Gentleman is a notorious deviationist, and I cannot accept anything he says on these subjects. If he were a more reliable exponent of Communist policy, it would be a different matter.
I have said that Stalin may some day reach the conclusion that the balance of power is sufficiently in his favour to justify an attempt at war. For the West, the immediate problem lies in making quite sure that he does not reach that conclusion. Today, three years after the Fulton speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), some sort of Western defence system is gradually growing up, but we are still a very long way from the type of defence organisation which is needed if anything approaching real security is to be achieved. The true test of any defence system lies in its ability to afford immediate and effective assistance to any country threatened with aggression. The existing system, in its present state, does not pass that test. The most a small country can hope for today, in the case of war, is to be overrun by the Red Army and liberated at an unspecified date by the Western Powers.
That is not enough. Such a system will not command the necessary confidence on the part of the small Powers concerned. Why should it? We have to approach this problem in another way. From now on, wherever national independence is threatened, wherever a weak place shows in the Soviet armour, the democracies must take immediate, positive action. Not only must we yield no ground, but wherever we get the chance we must advance; we must follow up every possible advantage. Wherever men are fighting to retain or to regain their independence, we must go to their help. We must meet the strong positive force against which we are contending with a stronger, more positive force. Above all—and this is most important—we must convince our opponents that we are stronger than they are and that 2300 we are prepared, if necessary, to use our superior strength. Will such an attitude on our part lead to war? Certainly not. On the contrary, the real danger lies in encouraging the Kremlin to believe that there is no limit to our patience, that there is nothing we will not put up with.
At present, there is one part of the world in particular where things are very much in the melting pot, namely, the Balkans. The situation there is full of dangers, but it is also full of opportunities. Yugoslavia's rebellion against Moscow has fundamentally changed the political, economic and strategic position in the whole of that part of Europe. The northern part of the Balkan Peninsula is no longer a solid Soviet-controlled block. Pressure on Greece has drastically diminished. Albania, a vital Soviet outpost, is isolated. And in one blow the Russians have lost important sources of raw materials and a potential jumping off place for further advance westwards. That in itself is of very great importance. But what has happened in Yugoslavia is of more than purely local significance.
Let me make it clear straight away that I have never had any liking for Marshal Tito's politics. For that matter he has never had any liking for mine. I admire the way he fought against the Germans during the war, but I repeat I do not like his politics. He tells me that what he is doing is building Socialism. I do not like Socialism. I do not like the sort of Socialism that Tito is building, the sort of Socialism that hon. Gentlemen opposite are building, the sort of Socialism that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) is building, and, above all, I do not like the sort of Socialism that Marshal Stalin is building, or, perhaps in his case, it would be right to say, has built, in the Soviet Union. I have seen all three varieties close to, and I do not like any of them.
But that is not the point. The point is that Tito is one of the very few people today in Europe or anywhere else who has really stood up to the Kremlin. What he and his followers are fighting for is the right to run their own country in their own way. That is not in the Western way: let us have no illusions about that. And not in Moscow's way. That is what all the trouble is about. But in a way 2301 which, with typical Yugoslav pride and obstinacy, they claim to be working out for themselves.
§ Mr. Maclean
No, I will not give way. Now, the Soviet system is based first and foremost on the supreme and infallible authority of the Kremlin, and for a year and a half Tito has been openly challenging that authority. And so, if they are not to suffer a disastrous loss of face and if they are not to risk recurrence of the same danger elsewhere, the Russians must at all costs obliterate him.
It may be said, to borrow a phrase, that Yugoslavia is "a far-away country with people of whom we know nothing." But in my view that would be to misjudge the situation. I think that a great deal depends on the outcome of this struggle. In a sense it is a test case. If Yugoslavia is crushed, the absolute authority of the Kremlin will have been vindicated and her fate will serve as a warning to any other small Power which might feel tempted to assert its independence. The Soviet steam-roller will be free to continue its progress unchecked.
But if Yugoslavia survives, the mere fact of her survival will be an encouragement to others to do likewise. It will show what can be done by steadfastness and determination. It will explode the myth of Soviet infallibility and irresistibility. It will strike at the very roots of Soviet imperialism.
I have said that the situation in the Balkans was full of dangers and full of opportunities. We should, therefore, bring to it a vigorous and positive policy. Let us examine for a moment what the Government's attitude has been. First of all there is Greece. On the strength of what may very well be only a lull in the fighting, the Government have announced their intention of withdrawing our few remaining troops. The number involved is negligible—a brigade. But that is not what matters. What matters is how this gesture will be interpreted: in Athens; in the hills by the rebels; in the rest of the Balkans; above all, in Moscow.
I know enough of Eastern Europe to say without any doubt at all that, however many statements the Government may issue to the contrary, their gesture will be taken to mean by all concerned 2302 that we are disinteresting ourselves in the Balkans, and that we are leaving them to face the threat of Soviet aggression by themselves. I sincerely hope that the Government will very seriously consider the grave psychological effect—I know that the Foreign Secretary does not like the word "psychological," but here it is necessary—which their decision will have, before they give effect to it.
Then there is the question of trade. Yugoslavia has been hard hit by the Soviet economic blockade. If she is to survive economically, she will need everything she can get from the West. What is the position? We have made long-term trading agreements with several other Eastern European countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia and even the Soviet Union; but we have nothing comparable with Yugoslavia. The Government may say that they do not conclude trade agreements on political grounds; that may be so, but it does not stop those agreements from having very great political significance. The Governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia trade with us not because they like us but because they have got to, because they cannot manage otherwise, and because without Western trade their economic and their political position might well become untenable.
In other words, what His Majesty's Government are doing by these trade agreements with Poland and Czechoslovakia is bolstering up Governments who are nothing but puppets of Moscow and who, on top of that, are openly hostile to us. With Yugoslavia, who has sought to free herself from Russian domination and is now being made to suffer for it, we have no proper trade agreement. One may say that we can have agreements with any of those countries, but to do that with Poland and Czechoslovakia and not with Yugoslavia does not seem to make any sense at all.
Another thing I find hard to understand—and I was very glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford mentioned it in his speech—is the Government's support of Czechoslovakia's candidature for a seat on the Security Council, in preference to that of Yugoslavia. In the first place, it implied support for the Czech Government which only recently embarked upon a new and 2303 intensified reign of terror. Secondly, it implied lack of solidarity with the United States Government, who supported Yugoslavia. Thirdly, it implied lack of support for Yugoslavia in her resistance to Soviet encrouchment, at a time when a clear indication of the opposite attitude was urgently called for.
§ Mr. Maclean
No, I am sorry. There is not very much time. The argument that I have seen advanced that we are bound by the Charter or by some gentleman's agreement, has already been faithfully dealt with by my right hon. Friend. It has also been dealt with by the American Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Acheson. If, on the other hand, the Government's gesture was intended to please the Russians, which seems all too likely, then its utter futility was amply demonstrated by Mr. Vyshinsky's hostile and contemptuous reaction to it. It is the old story of Left talking to Left in confidence and comradeship. It does not suit the Foreign Secretary to be reminded of that now. He should have learnt by bitter experience that comradeship and confidence are all on one side. Certainly, in this case they have been.
Finally, when, in spite of our opposition and of everything that we have done to stop it happening, the Yugoslavs won their seat on the Security Council, what was the reaction of the United Kingdom delegation? "Our Yugoslav friends will be pleased about this," said the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) who is a Member of the delegation in a statement to the Press. Surely that was adding insult to injury.
Now, what does all this add up to? If it adds up to anything at all, it adds up to something which looks very much like appeasement. And, if that is so, then the outlook is very black indeed, because this is not the moment for appeasement. If Yugoslavia is thrown to the wolves, there will be other victims. In the course of the next year or two the Western Powers will have to face other such decisions, and on the boldness and determination with which they meet them in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East will depend the peace of the world and the future of Western civilisation.
2304 Let us make no mistake about it; we stand today at a crisis in human affairs comparable to that which confronted us in the years immediately before the war, in 1938 and 1939. The problem in the ultimate analysis is one of power. Here for the moment we still have the advantage, but only for the moment. A great many things are happening which are shifting the balance of power, such as the absorption of the whole of China—400 million people—in the Soviet bloc; Russian possession of the atomic bomb; and so on.
If we maintain our present advantage and exploit it boldly, if we have confidence in ourselves and inspir it in others, then we should be able not only to surmount this crisis, but in the long run to build up a security system so strong as to render innocuous the force which today holds half the world in its spell. But if we continue to drift, if through inertia or lack of conviction we throw away our advantage, if by our weakness we encourage our opponents in the belief that our way of life is doomed to decay, if we disappoint those who are looking to us for a lead, then it is hard to see what can prevent the continued advance of Soviet power and the ultimate triumph of Soviet Communism throughout the world.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas (Llandaff and Barry)
I wish to confine my remarks to the meeting at Strasbourg, and I wish to say immediately that I consider that Strasbourg was an enormous success and that it holds great hope for the future of Europe. I do not think that there is any organisation which is so capable of bringing the peoples of Europe closely together and generating an understanding among the peoples of Western Europe as the Assembly at Strasbourg. It is, therefore of vital importance that the people of this country and that the different parties in this House should have a clear policy with regard to Strasbourg. It is particularly important that the Conservative Party and the Labour Party should know exactly where they stand in relation to Strasbourg and Western Union.
There are two points, therefore, to which I wish to address myself: first, political party problems which arise in connection with Strasbourg, and, secondly the general method of approach to 2305 Western Union. It is important to bear in mind the temptations of Strasbourg to mere party politics. The composition of Strasbourg and the powers of Strasbourg rather lend themselves to party exploitation. At Strasbourg there were no Government representatives. It was unfortunate that the British delegation was the only delegation which had Government representatives. It would have given greater weight and a greater sense of responsibility to the Assembly if other delegations had also included governmental members. I associate myself with the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Hulme (Mr. Lee) who suggested that somebody from the Committee of Ministers should attend and speak at the meetings of the Assembly at Strasbourg. It would give weight to the Assembly and add a sense of responsibility to its discussions.
Further, the Assembly has the power to talk, to vote and to make recommendations, but it has no responsibility for putting into action any of the recommendations it makes. Again, there is a tendency here to irresponsibility and party exploitation in its affairs. In the Assembly there is a predominantly Right-wing Opposition. Hon. Members can see for themselves the analysis of the voting position given in an article in "The Times." It shows that out of the original 87 members, 31 were Socialists and 56 were anti-Socialists. This was obviously a temptation to Right-wing parties in different countries to exploit the Right-wing predominance in the Assembly for purposes of party politics at home.
It is amazing that with an Assembly composed as this one was, there should have been such a successful issue. I am sure that every hon. Member who was at Strasbourg will recognise that this was largely due to the almost miraculous presidency of M. Spaak. There is the danger, however, of the Assembly being subjected to well-organised lobbying and as two hon. Members opposite have each devoted parts of their speeches to Strasbourg and have not hesitated to deal with it in a party manner, I do not propose to be mealy-mouthed in my own criticisms.
In my view it is essential, if Strasbourg is to develop properly, that the Assembly should not be an instrument of mere party policy. I do not mean by that that 2306 there may not be honest differences of opinion between different parties when it comes to dealing with questions of foreign policy. Indeed, as my hon. Friend said, it would be a rather emasculated Assembly if there were not, but that is a different matter from using it for the mere purpose of gaining party advantage internally in one's own country. Both sides of the House should have a clear understanding that no such exploitation should be used in connection with Strasbourg.
It is unfortunate, but not only did the Tories create the impression at Strasbourg that they were exploiting their right-wing predominance for mere party advantage, but they actually pursued that policy. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) started his speeches there by picking a quarrel, somewhat unnecessarily, with the Committee of Ministers. I must acknowledge in fairness, and I am very glad that it happened, that the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) rather dissociated himself from that type of attack and came down in favour of co-operation with the Committee of Ministers.
The right hon. Member for Woodford, in attacking the Committee of Ministers, propounded a most extraordinary doctrine. Contrasting the Committee of Ministers with the Assembly, he said:They are responsible to their various electorates.… We are responsible to all those forces in Europe which have called us into being.What does that mean? Surely the right hon. Gentleman is as responsible in the last resort to the electorate in this country as is anybody else. To suggest that he is responsible to some nebulous forces that have called him into being is precisely the dogma of every anti-democratic person from the time of Charles I down to Mussolini. There is no room for that kind of nebulous, ideological absolutism in a democratic State.
The right hon. Gentleman had with him at Strasbourg his son-in-law, who took a very active part in running the European Movement and in lobbying. I consider it most unfortunate that that sort of party policy, and that pressure and lobbying, should have been conducted as it was at Strasbourg. It was conducted very effectively. One would have thought that anybody in this 2307 country, quite irrespective of party, would be very concerned to see that as far as possible the British House of Commons method of proceeding should be adopted at Strasbourg; that our method of running Parliamentary affairs should, quite apart from any party considerations, be adopted by a Parliament of Europe.
What we actually found was the right hon. Member for Woodford and the Tory Members at Strasbourg getting up in the Assembly in order to defeat the candidature of my right hon. Friend the Government Chief Whip to the Vice-Presidency of the Council. Not a single Member of the British Governmental party was allowed to be a chairman of a committee. That kind of attitude is very prejudicial to the proper development of Parliamentary government at Strasbourg. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to laugh. Do they endorse that kind of policy and the use of Strasbourg and of the Assembly to gain points over their opponents in this country? That course was pursued by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles).
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
I have a very great respect for the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry (Mr. Ungoed-Thomas), but this is a matter about which we ought to be very clear. The vote which was made at Strasbourg was really not based on a party issue. It happened to be based on the fact that Lord Layton was very well-known—[Interruption.] I am really not making a party point. [Laughter.] No, I am not; I make that very clear. Lord Layton was very well-known to large numbers of those present owing to his having been engaged in these activities for a long time. There is no question of party. I beg the hon. and learned Member to believe that—it is the truth.
§ Mr. Bevin indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
I am concerned not with the votes that so many people innocently cast but with the purpose of the Tory policy and the working of the Tory machine at Strasbourg.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
Then I am not in disagreement with the hon. Member. In that case, had he followed what I was saying, there was no occasion whatever for him to intervenec.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
I cannot give way. I come now to the way in which this was pursued in dealing with policy at Strasbourg, actual questions of policy and the resolutions that were passed. The hon. Member for Chippenham made a very remarkable speech on the opening of the economic debate. He there endeavoured to invoke the Right wing majority in Strasbourg in order to fasten an anti-Socialist resolution on European Governments. Referring to O.E.E.C. experts needing something more than a place where they could talk as Europeans, he said:They require to be furnished with a set of political principles on which the expansion of European trade can be securely built.Then he goes on:We have to settle the frontier between the public and private sectors of our economy. We have to say where the long fingers of the State shall stop meddling in the economic lives of its citizens.He refers to confidence, apparently of his business associates, and says:That confidence has to be restored, and it can only be restored by making it clear in the Council of Europe where the balance of opinion lies … the Council of Europe should at once set up a permanent committee to hear O.E.E.C. experts and to give them a majority view on the principles upon which to build the expansion of European trade.What he is doing there is asking for a resolution which will call a halt to policies of nationalisation and control inside the separate countries.
We are not doing Strasbourg any service if we are just going to use Strasbourg as a means for furthering our own party disputes inside our separate countries. That was not confined to the British delegation. The same thing happened over the resolution dealing with the Charter of Human Rights on the last day of the Strasbourg Conference. There was a proposal that one of the human rights should be the parents' prior right to choose their children's education. The matter does not affect this country in particular because, happily, these questions of education have 2309 been comparatively solved, and here they are not a matter of acute political controversy. But in Europe this is a matter of acute political controversy between the different parties, and this was interpreted by clericals and anti-clericals as a great victory for the clericals who would impose their attitude towards education upon their own country if the resolution were carried.
I am not going into the merits or demerits of this dispute. It does not particularly concern us as a country and I am not concerned to pursue it, but what is important is that it was being fought out in Strasbourg as a means of getting a decision in Strasbourg which could be invoked in a matter of internal dispute between various parties in different countries where this matter was a very live issue. Strasbourg should not be used for any such purpose. I hope that no party will use Strasbourg, or continue to use Strasbourg merely as a means of strengthening their internal position in their own country in internal party disputes.
I hoped that, in dealing with Strasbourg, we should not come to it with any preconceived ideas of precisely the kind of Constitution which we wished Europe to adopt. There has been great dispute about the federal approach to Strasbourg. I am not yet sure what is the Conservative Party attitude to this and I think it would clear the ground a very great deal if the right hon. Member for Bromley could say quite definitely where he stands.
Occupying the position that we do, having the commitments that we have to the Commonwealth, having the commitments that we have to the sterling area, having the commitments that we have to the Atlantic Pact; having all these separate interests, it seems to me that we cannot say that we will make Strasbourg and Western Union the centre of our political life and make the Commonwealth, the sterling area and the rest of it fit in as they may.
I was glad to see that at the Conservative Party conference a resolution was passed in the very opposite sense, saying that the centre of our foreign development was to be the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
I will give the right hon. Gentleman the text if he is not familiar with it. It is:That this conference welcomes the creation of the Council of Europe and promises its support for all practical measures to promote European unity consistent with the full maintenance of the unity of the British Empire.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to mislead. He should read on:—and continuing collaboration with the United States of America.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
I have given the only part that is quoted in the report of "The Times." But the other part also supports my argument, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman appreciates. When the right hon. Gentleman himself spoke at that Conference, so far from saying that Western Union was to be the centre on which the Empire and everything else would turn, he said:The British Empire must be the centre and pivot of the grand design.He went on to say:The new structure must include those countries of Europe which are still free.I hope that we therefore now have it perfectly clear that the Conservative Party does not stand for federal union for Europe but stands primarily for the British Empire and the British Commonwealth and, so far as is consistent with the maintenance of that, then it will play on Western Union. I think it is essential that we should clear up this dispute between the parties on these points—first, on the use of Strasbourg for mere internal party purposes and, secondly, on the approach which we are making to Strasbourg.
I think myself that the only practical approach is the functional approach—of co-operation subject by subject. I am sure that if we get these misunderstandings out of the way it should be possible for us to concentrate on that functional approach, to come to practical conclusions 2311 and to contribute practically and much more rapidly to what I consider of tremendous importance—and that is the closer association of Western Europe and the Commonwealth and the United States under the United Nations.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
The hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry (Mr. Ungoed-Thomas) has complained, not, I think, with justice, that some hon. Members of this House used the Assembly at Strasbourg to fight their House of Commons party battles. It seems to me even more foolish to refight the battle of Strasbourg on the Floor of the House of Commons, which is what he has been doing. Much as I admire him. I much preferred, if he will forgive my saying so, the speech made by the hon. Member for Hulme (Mr. Lee), and I welcome the opportunity of saying that I thought he made one of the best contributions to our Debate today.
What the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry must get clearly into his mind is that British Conservative Members could not possibly have swayed that Assembly by themselves The significant thing is that the Socialists of Europe shared their attitude towards this problem of European union. M. Blum has already been quoted today, and it so happens that I have in my hand a report of an interview that M. Andre Philip gave a few days ago. He said among other things:The spectacle offered at Strasbourg, so painful for all the Socialists of Europe, and which has done so great injury to our cause in the world—this spectacle should never be repeated.Then he added these very significant words:European union must be brought about. And it will be brought about. With England we indeed hope, but, if it is necessary, without her. Members of the Labour Party are free to throw us into the arms of the Conservatives if they persist in their present policy. But peace cannot wait, and we can no longer procrastinate. Whether our British Socialist friends sulk or not, European union, the great enterprise of Strasbourg—though it has its faults and its gaps, which we shall correct with time—will come about in any caseI was in Italy not so long ago, when a leading Socialist said to me, "What has come over your Prime Minister? He used to say Europe must federate or perish. Now he says Britain must export or die." 2312 The old international note which used to animate the party opposite, and which was a very living faith in it, has, I am afraid, very largely disappeared. But not, I am happy to think, in the case of the hon. Member for Hulme. He is a living witness of the value of the Assembly at Strasbourg. I do not think that he showed any marked interest in the question of European union before, but he has obviously come back most convinced of its necessity.
The hon. Gentleman used to some degree a metaphor I wished to use myself, though I wanted to apply it to the Foreign Secretary. I was bound to contrast his references to European Union today with the noble speech—the very noble speech—he made on 22nd January, 1948. He seems to me to be rather like a young buck who made advances to a young lady and is now embarrassed by the warmth with which she reciprocates them. The young lady keeps asking him when the marriage is going to take place, but he says that idea was never in his head. He would really like to continue his bachelor state, flirting wherever his fancy takes him. He consults the members of his family circle, who tell him, "You must marry the girl." He looks rather longingly at the rich heiress over the water, but she sternly insists upon his making an honest woman of her. That is the position, as it seems to me, of the right hon. Gentleman today. It was his call that thrilled Europe on 22nd January, 1948; but today, I am afraid, it was a very different note that we heard from that Box.
I need not elaborate the metaphor. The family circle is, of course, the Commonwealth. Where my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and Mr. Amery lead, the rest of us need not be afraid to follow. From my own experience I can testify that purely colonial interests were compelling the countries of Europe to get together even before the question of Western Union was broached. Colonial interests will be powerfully advanced by the move towards Western Union, but this close co-operation of the European colonial Powers would in any case have gone ahead for reasons of its own. Therefore, from that angle, with which I have been much concerned myself, there is no incompatibility between the idea of 2313 Western Union and British Imperial interests.
With regard to the United States, the rich heiress of my parable, I hope the Foreign Secretary will get it quite clearly into his head that the United States means business about European Union. If that were not sufficiently clear from Mr. Hoffman's recent speech I do not know what will make it clear. If I read between the lines, I think it is quite possible that the United States might even come to the conclusion that we are hopeless and might turn towards Germany as the unifying force in Europe. It is quite clear that they are determined to see the unification of Europe. Their argument may be a little elementary, but they say, "We have made a great and powerful State on this Continent by coming together in a union, and Europe must do the same," and they certainly intend to see that we do make some progress in the direction of union.
I am afraid that since the Foreign Secretary made that great call about 21 months ago the Government have given many setbacks to the idea of Western Union. First of all, various members of the Labour Party, and the Labour Party itself, began to pour cold water on the idea. There was the document issued under the title "Feet On The Ground," though I think it would be better styled "Feet In The Mud," for throughout it, every single objection that can be brought against Western Union is brought out. Of course, there are difficulties, but it is the business of statesmen to overcome them, not to parade them on every possible occasion.
Then the line was taken, for example in the memorandum presented to the Selsdon Conference, and notably in a speech by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, that the only Western Union the Labour Party would contemplate was a Socialist union. Well, that really is not good enough. The fact must be faced that the greater part of Western Europe at this time is not Socialist, and it is not possible to unify Europe on such a basis. We must unite, whatever parties may be in power in the various countries.
I come next to the composition of the delegation sent to Strasbourg, on which I should like to make just one remark. I think it was very petty of the party opposite to omit from that delegation the hon. 2314 Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang), who has done so much for this cause over such a long period of time. It is perfectly obvious that if any one should have been included in that delegation it was he, and it was really rather a petty action to omit him.
I pass quickly to much more important things. The stand taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last spring, when the Intra-European Payments Scheme had to be revised, was a very serious blow to European co-operation. Much more serious of course—and almost fatal—was the British devaluation with hardly a word of warning to the other European countries. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may have many virtues, but when he wanders into the international field I do not think he ought to be allowed to do so without a keeper.
The Government may say that they are doing a very great deal in the various organisations that have been set up to promote some aspect or other of European Union, and today the Foreign Secretary quoted a statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about a British initiative in the liberalising of trade. I do not wish to detract in the least from that statement, although I think it is clear that he proposes to remove quotas where their removal is not harmful to us and to keep them on where he considers them necessary in any degree.
The point I want to make is that at the present time there are far too many organisations dealing with European unity. The noble idea of European unity is getting lost in a fog of committees. I think every one of us in this House is familiar with the fact that there is no surer way of killing an idea than getting it distributed among a large number of committees. There is only one purpose that a committee serves, from the Cabinet downwards, and that is to square persons, who might otherwise be rather troublesome, by the doctrine of collective responsibility.
At the present time there are far too many bodies concerned with European union in one form or another. There is the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation; the Brussels Treaty Organisation, with its committees relating to defence, social services, and so on; the Council of Europe itself, and various 2315 other bodies. I suggest that nearly all these activities can be channelled through the Council of Europe.
If the Government and the other governments were to take this Council of Europe seriously, they could make it the focus for the unity of Europe. There are not enough experienced civil servants to man all these various organisations, and in any case the Foreign Secretary in the last resort must be responsible for co-ordinating their activities, which is becoming more than one man can do. I suggest, most seriously, that the Government should try to cut out some of these organisations. For example, O.E.E.C. is simply becoming a channel for distributing American aid, a sort of provident society. I agree with M. van Zeeland's criticism of it. That work could be done through the Council of Europe, thereby giving it enhanced status.
It is far more important than working through these organisations, that the spirit of European unity should animate the whole of our policy; and the fact that it does not do so is one of the fundamental defects in recent British policy. It is not enough simply to add a few more staff to the Foreign Office, as a kind of excrescence on the normal departmental work, and to charge them with looking after O.E.E.C., or similar bodies. What is necessary is a burning desire for Western Union permeating the whole of our foreign policy. Let us consider a few of the big questions in the past few years. For example, there was the disposal of the Italian colonies. How much did the concept of Western Europe play in that? How much did it play in regard to the Indonesian question? I could give more examples, but my time is drawing to an end. Let me conclude on this note.
European Union is going to come about in any case. That is a problem we must face. Europe will either be unified under German leadership or under Russian leadership, or under Germany and Russia combined, which is the worst possible future we can contemplate. There is a great opportunity for Great Britain to take the lead, which is what the Continent of Europe is looking for, and particularly what the Continental Socialists are looking for. We have come to a crisis in the history of Europe, which may be 2316 as significant as the fall of Rome or the Renaissance; whether it resembles the one or the other is largely in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I am speaking from the Government side of the House because I wish to make a completely non-party speech—Independent Members usually sit opposite. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to pay tribute to Sir Gilbert Campion and the other clerks of this House and another place who did much to make Strasbourg a success. I only wish that the hon. Member for Hulme (Mr. Lee) were present, but I see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) is here.
I am sure he will agree with me that in a sense the procedure of this House, which we all honour, was brought very largely to bear at Strasbourg because of the personal influence of Sir Gilbert Campion and those who worked with him. It is true that Members were allowed to clap at Strasbourg, and not only to read newspapers but also their speeches, as well as being limited to 20 minutes. Members at Strasbourg were allowed to speak from their places, except on special occasions when the chairman of a committee spoke from the rostrum. It is because I think someone in this House should pay tribute to the enormous work which Sir Gilbert Campion and his assistants from both Houses did that I dare to make this intervention. I understand that they worked with the French clerks in the greatest possible harmony, and that during the whole of Strasbourg it was, in a sense, both an Anglo-Saxon and Continental compromise which made the various speeches and discussions such a great success.
As I have said, I am grateful for having been allowed these few minutes to pay this tribute, but may I also add this? The protest which some of us have made about the large number of Members who have been excluded from this Debate was not only a protest because we thought that you, Mr. Speaker, are the guardian of our liberties, but because we thought it was very invidious in a Debate of this character when large numbers of Members have had to be prevented from speaking, that you should have had to 2317 make the decision. It is because of that that some of us felt there was practical need for a longer discussion on these important subjects.
§ Mr. Blackburn
On a point of Order. Before the right hon Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) starts his speech, I ask you to place on record, Sir, for the benefit of the House, that Members on this side who wished to speak on subjects other than Strasbourg and Germany were, in your opinion, excluded on the ground that the Debate ought to be confined to those two subjects.
§ Mr. Speaker
No hon. Members were excluded, but some did not catch my eye. That is all. Anything was in Order, but, after all, it is for me to regulate the Debate.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), who I am sorry to say is not in his place, has done us all, as he often does, a great service, for he has recalled to us the main problem which should never be out of our minds. This Debate, like all other Debates on foreign affairs, is dominated by the shadow of the Russian Communist menace. This is now deepened and darkened by the new terrors of atomic warfare. I like to hear the hon. Member for Gateshead speak; I have a good deal of sympathy with him. He rings a rather nostalgic note, for he still talks the kind of stuff that Socialists used to talk before they got into office. Let us hope that they will not revert to it when they go out of office.
At the end of the war the British people had a deep and genuine sympathy for the Russian people. Hoping against hope, they strove to find some favourable interpretation of Russian policy, and this was not confined to any one party or to any one group. In the first speech which I made on foreign affairs in this Parliament in February, 1946, I expressed something of this hope and I asked that the matter should be put to the test. Perhaps we were all foolish to overlook, even in the emotion of victory, the damning history of Bolshevik thought and propaganda, never swerving from its subtle and malignant purpose. But I think we were right to have made the effort and to have had those feelings. I 2318 remember that at a much later date the House was deeply moved when my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) revealed the personal appeal which he himself made to Stalin after the end of the war in Europe.
But what, four years ago, was a pardonable and even praiseworthy spirit of good will would, I think, now be criminal weakness. We know now that there is no change of heart. In day-to-day Bolshevik practice there are, of course, continual changes of tactics, but the strategic aim remains the same. There is sometimes a step backward, but it is only to leap better forward when the time comes. Whatever the Russians may say, whatever specious offers they may make, whatever temporary changes in policy appear from time to time, we must not be deceived. Their effort and purpose is world revolution, to be followed by the Communist or, to our minds, the slave State. Yet in spite of their spectacular success in the West as well as in the East, they have had some reverses and some setbacks—in Persia, in Greece, in Yugoslavia and in Finland. When have these occurred? Never when they have not been opposed; always when they have been resolutely opposed.
The House listened with interest and regret to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett), interest because it was of value as a first-hand contribution about the state of Eastern and Central Europe and regret because he told us that he would not much longer be our colleague. No one regrets that more than I, for he and I have been friends for many years and have worked together in great causes. My hon. Friend observed that people who went abroad, especially to the United States, might injure their country by giving too pessimistic an account of conditions here. I think he gave that advice in a sincere and friendly way. No doubt some people do do harm in that way, but looking across the Table I can see that this accusation does not lie against the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
At any rate, I am sure that we shall make a mistake if we try to minimise the Russian danger, and it is in the light of this threat, either to the liberty or to the peace of the world, or to both, that we have to consider every problem of 2319 imperial and foreign affairs. Measured by this test I am not at all happy about the satisfaction—I do not say complacency, but it is something like it—which seems to exist in foreign circles regarding the Balkan situation. This was referred to in admirable speeches by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) and my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Maclean), than whom there is no greater authority. It is true that the Greek civil war is virtually ended, at least for the time being, and no praise is too great for the gallantry and persistence of the Greek peoples throughout their trials, under the leadership of their gallant King and Queen. They have now many internal problems, including that of 700,000 refugees without hope, many without clothes, and without the simplest agricultural instruments. With all the grandiose schemes of international charity which are talked about nowadays, here surely is a case where something should be done quickly.
Without disparagement to Greek arms, what has turned the balance in the Greek civil war? The quarrel between Tito and Stalin and the end of that state of affairs upon the Greek-Yugoslav border where the rebels could jump backwards and forwards like children playing at Tom Tiddler's ground. If Tito is liquidated or, to use an old reactionary expression, murdered, or even bumped off or got rid of, then the Greek civil war will begin all over again, not so much by the revival of any genuine Greek Communism, but by the infiltration of Macedonian and Slav guerrillas from the North.
At the same time, as has already been stated in the Debate the Albanian position is becoming more and more dangerous. Under Russian control, Albania is an ever-increasing threat to Tito, to Greece and to British naval security in the Mediterranean. No satisfactory statement has been made about the submarine and rocket-firing establishments which have been constructed in the neighbourhood of Valona. Most circumstantial accounts, which the Foreign Secretary must have seen, have been published in the reputable American Press. The matter was raised very recently in another place, but no reply was given. I hope, that something definite will be forthcoming tonight.
2320 Although in Greece itself the sky is clearer, there are dark and threatening clouds all round. For my part I deeply regret the decision to remove the British brigade stationed in Greece, stationed, let me remind the House, at the key point of Salonika. It may be said that this is a force with very little military significance, and that is true. Its presence was only symbolic, but it was precisely because it was symbolical that I should be sorry to see it go. It was a symbol of the British Army which saved the liberties of the Greeks in 1944. It was the symbol of British determination never to allow those liberties to be destroyed. It was a pledge to the Greeks and a warning to Russia.
If the presence of British troops in Greece for five years has been regarded as symbolic, I earnestly hope that their withdrawal will not be regarded in the same light. On the contrary, it should be made quite clear to Russia that any Balkan adventures on their part might be the signal for a general war. Balkan policy should, therefore, be tested by this criterion—will any action be regarded as a sign of strength or a sign of weakness? This consideration applies with equal force to foreign policy in general. The Western Powers cannot allow any more countries to be crushed under the Soviet steam roller. After all, was it not Mr. Litvinov who said, "Peace is indivisible"?
It was in this prophetic mood that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition delivered the Fulton speech three years ago. He was bitterly attacked by what are called progressive circles. Some hon. Members wanted him repudiated; some almost wanted him to be impeached. One hundred Members put down a Motion in the House of Commons that he should be publicly repudiated.
The Government showed no particular enthusiasm. But they had to follow his advice. They did not like it. In fact, they started with quite a different policy. They toyed with the idea at the time that they should act as a kind of arbiter or umpire between the United States and Russia. But, of course, this "third force" policy was based on an illusion. The logic of events proved inexorable, and three years after the Fulton speech came the Atlantic Pact.
2321 In the same way my right hon. Friend a year later issued at Zurich his appeal to Europe. The movement for European Unity and co-operation was launched. The Government and their supporters cold-shouldered it, but not all of them. I must be fair. There were notable exceptions, like the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Lang), but those who did not cold-shoulder the movement were pretty effectively cold-shouldered by the Government. Again the result was the same. Two years after Zurich, the Council of Europe met at Strasbourg.
I should now like to take up the reference which was made to our meetings there. I would associate myself with what was said by my hon. Friend sitting below the Gangway the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay), who crossed the Floor, in true independence, from side to side. He paid tributes to the work of Sir Gilbert Campion and the Clerks of the House of Commons, who did indeed a notable piece of work, which we all admired.
Many speeches have been made, to the details of which I hope the House will not expect me to reply. I thought the speech of the hon. Member for Hulme (Mr. Lee) was fair, generous, and good humoured. It was a most valuable contribution to this Debate, as indeed were his speeches in our Strasbourg discussions. The hon. and learned Member for Landaff and Barry (Mr. Ungoed-Thomas) had not quite the same sense of humour. He seemed to be in a great state of trouble about something. He complained about the European Movement operating at Strasbourg. Of course most of the members of that Assembly had been members of the European Movement. They had been keen on it. The hon. and learned Member said that they had behaved badly by continuing their propaganda. It makes me remember a story of somebody going to Oscar Wilde and saying, "What am I to do? There is a conspiracy of silence against me?" Wilde replied. "My dear friend, join it." On that basis we shall welcome at any moment in the European Movement the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry.
The hon. and learned Member complained about the election of Lord Layton instead of the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury to the post of vice- 2322 president of the Consultative Assembly. We voted certainly for Lord Layton—if it is fair to reveal the secrets of the ballot. We did not do what the Lord President of the Council did, hold meetings of international Socialists and try to get the whole movement to vote en bloc. The only mistake that the Lord President of the Council made was that he did not count up the votes of the Assembly. He has been so accustomed to being in the majority that he was quite surprised at the result. These were minor matters only the amusements on a much more serious field.
After this fleeting of the Council of Europe we were very much encouraged in the European Movement at the way things were going. We thought things were going well. Now Ministers seem to be swinging back into a new dose of isolationism. Sometimes this takes the form of just petty jealousy and obstruction. I am afraid that the Foreign Secretary still has that feeling about the Consultative Assembly. What a piece of meanness it is, for instance, to try to suppress meetings of the Economic Committee of the Assembly by refusing to pay the travelling expenses of the members. This is indeed discipline by the purse and diplomacy by exchange control At other times this isolationism masquerades as imperialism. I am bound to say for most of the members of the Socialist Government this is a pretty thin disguise.
Of course, I admit—indeed, it is the whole theme—that these unifying forces in the world have largely developed as the result of the pressure of external dangers. Of course that is true. In the halcyon days of the mid-Victorian era, that long period between the Treaty of Vienna and the rise of Prussia, that almost Antonine age as it seems now, the dominant theme in this country was Little Englandism. None of the clever people, like Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright, Mr. John Morley, Professor Goldwyn Smith, Sir William Harcourt and all the rest, believed in the Colonial Empire. Nor did the Colonial Office. They did everything they could to stop it growing, but it was developed in spite of them. I think the fashionable expression in those days was that the Colonies would drop like ripe fruit from the parent tree. In those days the only imperialists were either exotic romanticists like Disraeli or pushing 2323 young men from the provinces like Joseph Chamberlain, but, as usual, the clever people were wrong. They nearly always are.
Under these new pressures, new movements and old movements are being revived and strengthened to meet them. There is a difficult problem before us to harmonise the needs and claims of the Empire and of Europe in the economic sphere. There is not a man in this House, wherever he sits, especially if he has fought alongside Imperial troops as his comrades, who if the choice had to be made would hesitate for a single moment. That has been said over and over again. It was made clear beyond doubt by my hon. Friends at Strasbourg. It was accepted by the Consultative Assembly. It was specifically recognised in the wording of the economic resolution which made special reference to the importance of maintaining Imperial preferences.
I do not believe that this choice faces us. I believe that this is an absolutely unreal dilemma. It is a difficult but not insoluble problem. Our first duty, of course, lies to the Empire and to the sterling area, but how have we carried it out? What have the Government done to strengthen the Empire? What have the Government done to strengthen the sterling area? What have the Government done to strengthen sterling? The Government nationalised the Bank of England. They did not change its essential character. I could have seen some purpose in that movement had they put upon the board representatives, either as directors or advisers, from Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the sterling area and made it into something like a central bank for the sterling area. They did nothing of the kind but contented themselves by putting two representatives of the Socialist Party on it. That is all they did.
Above all, their duty was so to conduct their financial, monetary and economic policy that sterling would grow in strength and command once more the confidence of the world. After the fictitious, and, if I may say so in his presence, almost fraudulent methods of the first Chancellor, which raised by purely artificial means—and at what a cost!—the price of Government stocks, there has been ever since that time a 2324 steady decline in confidence which resulted in the spectacular collapse of the policy to which the second Chancellor was deeply committed.
How then can we ask the European countries to follow sterling—I mean to follow Socialist sterling? Restore confidence in sterling, restore confidence in the £ not merely as a medium of exchange but as a store of value, and then I think we shall have gone a long way towards the solution of this problem. If Europe had confidence in sterling, if sterling could regain its former proud position, then I believe it would be under the leadership of sterling that the necessary co-ordination and flexibility between European currencies could take place.
The problem in the economic field, therefore, is not insoluble, but it is urgent, desperately urgent. It is still more urgent in the political sphere. We have raised the German question many times in the House during this Parliament and we have never had a great deal of satisfaction. During the earlier years, however, we were chiefly concerned with the reanimation of the German economy, and at that time the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) was in charge. From the views which he expressed after he left office he seemed to have had some rather sensible ideas, but either he did not give them to the Foreign Secretary or he was never so fortunate as to find the Foreign Secretary in a receptive mood.
At any rate, the delay was long and expensive. The policy which was followed was equally a burden upon the German and upon the British economy. Indeed, until the generous action of our American friends relieved us of a large part of this cost, the dollar drain was large and painful. The currency confusion lasted far too long. I am not saying that there were not great difficulties—of course there were—but we clung too long to the quadripartite conception and even then, when this was abandoned, the Western Allies were far too slow to agree upon their own plans.
But if the economic problems were allowed to drift, what about the political? Of course I recognise the hesitation of our French friends during this period but the French are nothing if not logical, and so far as my limited experience goes, if you give them your confidence, you will gain 2325 theirs. Naturally you must not go and do a dirty trick like devaluing behind their backs. That, indeed, was a financial Munich. But if you are straight with them, they will be straight with you. Above all, you must not try to be too clever—it is sometimes better to be a bit stupid. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] You tried to trick them behind their backs, and you know it. And the right hon. Gentleman knows the opinion in France over that question.
I say that once the break with Russia was complete, it was obvious that the Western Allies would always be out-bidden by Russia and what they refused to grant to Germany, Russia would grant. This danger, that Germany would be wooed and courted from both sides, was apparent from the start. I am bound to say in frankness that I think serious German politicians and statesmen—Dr. Adenauer in particular—deserve some credit for not falling too readily into this temptation. I hope they will long continue to avoid this trap.
Much has been said today about dismantling. Dismantling was an economic and security question. The Foreign Secretary himself told us today he thought that on pure economic grounds there was not much of a case presented against it. Yes, but by the fatal policy of drift it has been allowed to become a political question. I do not think there is anything for me to add to what my right hon. Friend said on this matter except that this question only became a burning question because of the intolerable delay—four and a half years and then not finished—so that we now have to seem to yield to pressure and agitation what we ought to have yielded to good sense and goodwill.
There are many other problems on which I should like to have spoken—the question of the Ruhr authority and other matters—but perhaps the most crucial of all, on which many hon. Members have today spoken, including the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) and the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher), is what I might call the struggle for the soul of Germany. The most vital problem is that of the security of Western Europe and that cannot be solved unless Germany becomes part of a Western European association.
2326 It is because my right hon. Friend perceived the urgency of this need that I remember him discussing it at our informal congress at The Hague with German delegates there. It has all along been one of the main purposes and ambitions of the European movement. We have long felt that without British participation in Western Europe, German participation would be impossible. That is why we have striven so hard and earnestly to bring European unity into being in circumstances and under conditions which would allow of Great Britain playing her rôle in Europe without jeopardising, still less abandoning, her Imperial destiny.
The immediate admission of Germany to the Council of Europe as an associate member was raised in a dramatic way at Strasbourg by my right hon. Friend. Of course, there were doubts and hesitations—there always are when anything bold is suggested—but what was remarkable to me—and I think hon. Members opposite will agree—was how, starting with the atmosphere of doubt, within a very few weeks it began to change and the political committee unanimously accepted the proposal that the question of new entrants—that meant Germany and the Saar—should be taken up in a special session early in 1950.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I do not think that should go unchallenged. There was nothing new or dramatic about that proposal. Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that several meetings of Parliamentarians had been held in Europe in previous weeks and that on each occasion there had been unanimity among all the Western European representatives about the admission of Germany to the Council of Europe?
§ Mr. Macmillan
Those meetings were of a different character. What struck me most was, first, the careful speech of M. Bidault after the intervention of my right hon. Friend, and then the growth of opinion, especially French; and by the end the whole Assembly—I am glad that the hon. Member agrees with me—unanimously endorsed this proposal. I would like to put on record also that the French representatives proved themselves particularly prudent and statesmanlike. Once again, leadership found its reward.
2327 I agree with the Foreign Secretary in what he said about the approval of the Standing Committee rather than the whole body of the Assembly for new entrants. That was a good and sensible compromise, if only to save time, but I am still in some doubt as to what the decision of the Committee of Ministers really is. I take it that the invitation to Germany to become an Associate Member, now that it has been approved by the Standing Committee of the Assembly, will be made without delay, or have we to wait for the next meeting of the Committee of Ministers in February or March? I am bound to say I am sorry that we have to wait until next August or September before the German representatives are allowed to take their seats along with those of other nations at a full meeting of the Consultative Assembly. Would it not have been better if the Committee of Ministers had accepted the unanimous request of the Assembly for a special session early in 1950? It would have cost a little money, but not a large sum compared with the frightful cost of armaments and wars.
Before I close, I should like to add one or two general considerations. What will be the future of the Council of Europe? How will it or how can it develop, with or without British participation? If I may state my personal opinion frankly, I do not think it can survive, still less achieve its purpose, without full British participation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yet if it perishes, the last hope of peace will perish with it. We cannot go on as we are, with world wars every 20 years; nor can the British people continue to be dragged into war every generation to prevent the seizure of Europe by a single Power. Yet we must prevent the overrunning of Europe by a single Power. It has been our policy since the reign of Queen Elizabeth. We have pursued it with relentless determination throughout the centuries, and it is still a sound policy. It is even more necessary now, for on the freedom of Europe depends the freedom of the world.
Men of my age and generation have fought in one war ourselves as sons. We have fought in another war as fathers. I know which is the worst. I am willing to work with anyone, or any nation and any party, who will help me to see that my grandsons do not fight and die in a 2328 third war. That is why I supported the European Movement. Europe has been Balkanised; she must be re-united. Yes, but in what sort of unity? Of course, we can throw in our hand and accept the peace of Communism, but to most of us that is the peace of death. It is not the peace of God; it is the peace of anti-Christ.
If we mean to be free, we must either keep in Europe now and join in every-thing that will help to build her prosperity and power, or we shall be doomed to find ourselves fighting our way back into Europe every 20 years. At the same time, I do not believe that we can play our part in Europe alone, as the people or as the Government of the United Kingdom. We are the centre of the Common-wealth and. Empire. In this truly British conception, we do not need perhaps the kind of formal and institutional matters which some Europeans like.
We are in the Commonwealth; in the same family. We know and trust each other. Nevertheless, I think we shall have to strengthen rather than weaken the links of Empire, both in the economic and strategic field, if the British people are to do their job. We ought to build and use in peace at least as close a machinery of Imperial co-operation as we create in war. The stronger and better organised the British Empire, the greater will be our contribution to the recovery and security of Europe.
These are the tasks before us. The time is running short. If they are destined to be the tasks of a new Parliament, I say that whatever may be the chances or changes of electoral fortune, we must all be in on this together, or we shall go down together.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)
The Debate, including the last speech, has shown that there is remarkably little effective opposition to the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government. Earlier in the afternoon the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) did his best to scrape up a few points of criticism. In his tour around Europe he managed to find one or two little sticks with which to beat us, but it was a remarkably weak performance, and ended, in fact, with a long list of the achievements of the 2329 Government in foreign affairs, to which he paid tribute, and a rather condescending assurance of general support for my right hon. Friend's policy.
I hope I shall not be thought ungracious if I say that I always find the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman offers support for my right hon. Friend's policy a little surprising. It is given always as a gracious concession. It is true that my right hon. Friend welcomes support for his policies, even from most unusual sources, but it is time to point out that this policy is also very widely supported among all sections of the British people. Any political party which opposes this policy does so at its peril, especially with an Election coming along, and although the support which the right hon. Gentleman offers us is given as a patriotic gesture, it is well worth pointing out that it is also political wisdom.
The one strong criticism which the right hon. Gentleman made was on the score of what he called "belated dismantling." He said that we had reached the stage we are in too late and after we had granted democratic institutions to the German people. Thus, the right hon. Gentleman argued, we had provided in these elections a rallying point for all the worst forces of German nationalism. I would make two comments on this. First, that the right hon. Gentleman holds us exclusively responsible for what is a tripartite policy. This point has been well made by several of my hon. Friends in the course of the Debate. The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. A. Edward Davies) and the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) were quick to point out the injustice of that criticism.
Our record throughout on dismantling has been entirely consistent. Our attitude has been a steady one of striking a balance between the needs of security on the one hand and the needs of European recovery on the other. On the one hand, we have based our whole policy on the tripartite agreement with the United States and France. We were right in doing so. At first, the United States were definitely too much inclined to pay attention to the security aspect and demanded a very low industrial potential for Germany. Then rapidly they swung in the opposite direction, stressing the need for German participation in rebuilding Europe. Only a short while ago they were 2330 holding that all steel plants should be retained. France—and who knowing their history shall blame them—were unwilling to give up the plain physical measure of security represented by dismantling until they felt they had something else to put in its place.
The right hon. Gentleman pins all the responsibility on His Majesty's Government. He does what he disingenuously complains that others do. He blames it all on us, for no other reason that I can see than that dismantling goes on mostly in our zone. Suppose we had taken his advice and ridden rough-shod over the interests and views of our allies? Suppose we had unilaterally disregarded our agreement? What then? We have heard the trouble we have got into, quite unfairly, on the subject of devaluation. For reasons which we have explained in the House, it was not possible to give as much notice to our French allies regarding devaluation as we would have wished. We were accused on that. What trouble we would have got into if, over dismantling, we had done what the right hon. Gentleman suggests and trampled on their interests and views! Compared with what we are accused of now, that indeed would have been something to worry about.
The right hon. Gentleman made another point in this connection. He said that we should not have allowed both dismantling and the elections to continue. One or the other, he implied. Of course, anyone can see that it would have been better had we been able to get dismantling out of the way simultaneously with the establishment of the German Federal Government. But what does the right hon. Gentleman suggest we should do? Is he suggesting that we should post-pone the introduction of democracy in Western Germany, or is he pressing us to an issue prematurely in a way which undoubtedly would break up the tripartite administration of Western Germany? That would have been the result of such a policy. The right hon. Gentleman says we did too little too late. His alternative policy, which would have been a calamity, would have been a policy of too much and too soon.
We hope that at least we have reached, as a result of the Paris talks, a basis for a settlement by which security arrangements will be made which will be freely acceptable to the German people and at 2331 the same time that a new stage will have been reached in Germany's contribution to the economic and political recovery of Europe. But by exaggerating this issue and bringing it once again into the political arena at a time when, I admit, we are trying quietly to usher it off the stage, the right hon. Gentleman has done a poor service to Anglo-German relations and to German unity.
The second point which he mentioned was the question of Greece. That was referred to also by another hon. Member and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan). This question was the withdrawal of troops. There seems to be a conspiracy on the benches opposite wilfully to misinterpret our action in withdrawing troops. Nothing could have been plainer than our action or than the announcement with which we accompanied the decision. The right hon. Gentleman asked for an assurance that this was not a move dictated by economy. Who ever suggested that it was? There was no question of it. It was made perfectly clear at the time. The withdrawal was made possible by the victories of the Greek armies; it was made possible by the improved situation to which the right hon. Gentleman himself paid tribute. Another hon. Member said there was a danger in withdrawing troops when our action might be misinterpreted in certain quarters. But there is only one quarter in which it has been misinterpreted, and that is on the benches opposite. We perfectly understood the position. The withdrawal of our troops means no lessening of our interest in the independence and security of Greece.
Another point to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley referred was the question of Soviet Russia building a submarine base on the Albanian coast. Of course, we appreciate the great strategic importance of such a move if it were made. We are keeping a close watch on this situation. So far, however, we are not aware of any such action being taken by the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly there is a number of suitable sites on that coast which could be used by the Soviet Union. That is the only statement which I can make on the subject at present.
Now, may I turn to the question of Strasbourg which has, of course, been very 2332 prominent in this Debate? We have seen the delegates coming back from Strasbourg and performing the duty which everyone hoped they would perform—their duty under the Statute of the Council of Europe. They are fulfilling the aim of the Council in keeping Governments, Parliaments and peoples in touch with the European mind on certain European problems. We have seen at Strasbourg a concentration of European thought on the problems which are worrying Europe today. It is only right, perhaps, that having breathed the pure air of Strasbourg, they should return to urge us on, that their relationship should be somewhat that of prodders to plodders in the cause of European unity.
Their attitudes vary a good deal, but on the whole, opposition to His Majesty's Government on this issue has not been substantial. We had expected a great deal more from the right hon. Gentleman on this issue. Formerly he was a great deal more sceptical, I think, about my right hon. Friend's attitude to the Council. What I would ask is this. All these criticisms have been made about the Labour Party being an obstacle and doing too little. Even the word "isolation" was used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley. My question is, what precisely do they want us to do? Why do they not put forward some precise proposals? I have listened to this Debate carefully and I have heard one proposal, which came from the hon. Member for Buckingham. As for constructive suggestions, they do not seem to be there. Are they in favour of political or economic federation? They do not say so. What do they want? What powers do they want the Assembly to have, or what powers now given do they wish to be taken away? Until we hear something more substantial, it is hard to take their criticism seriously.
The question of committees was raised. We have been told that His Majesty's Government were showing a niggardly attitude, but this matter was not treated lightly by the Committee of twelve Ministers. It was agreed that the Standing Committee, and that the General Affairs Committee should sit, but it was also agreed that the other committees should sit before the Assembly, instead of permanently. It is a matter of timing. But to say that we are showing a nig- 2333 gardly attitude seems to be a wild allegation and to accuse His Majesty's Government of petty obstruction when this was a unanimous decision of the Council of Ministers, and when the President of the Assembly praised the action of the Committee of Ministers in this respect, would seem to any fair-minded person to be carrying things too far.
Have we held back on this matter or in European unity as a whole? The hon. Member for Buckingham said, and I agree with him, that the concrete actions of His Majesty's Government are ahead of those of other Governments in the matter of European unity. It would be possible to produce a list of the actual, practical steps taken towards European unity by this Government. The freeing of trade, the open general licences which we decided on not long ago, the work of O.E.E.C., our work in the cultural and social fields in relation to the Brussels Treaty, our practical defence measures under the Brussels Treaty, and under the Atlantic Pact, are all examples of these concrete achievements. In the cause of real European unity, Britain has done more deeds with fewer words than have many other countries.
The hon. Member for Buckingham criticised us because he said our presentation of our proposals was not good. He agreed that our concrete measures were good, but complained that we presented them in a way which discouraged the enthusiasts for European unity. My comment—and I do not know which enthusiasts have been discouraged—is that, on the whole, the cause of European unity has had rather too many second reading speeches and too little practical co-operation. I say that Western Union has now passed the second reading stage; that has gone, and we have now reached the committee stage. That is why stresses are beginning to appear.
In the initial stages of taking decisions for co-operation in defence and economics, and in setting up the machinery for co-operation, we are doing one thing. But when it comes to actual practical decisions, such as, for example, the movement of divisions, and things which materially affect the standard of living of one country or another, it is then that agreement becomes more difficult. When speeches are translated into acts one reaches the testing time.
2334 So far as Strasbourg goes, I assure hon. Members that there is a wide measure of agreement in the House that the meeting of the Council was a success. May I also associate myself warmly with the tribute that has been paid to the work of Sir Gilbert Campion and the other members of the staffs of the House of Commons and the House of Lords? We have heard from those who were at Strasbourg the great value of their work at the Assembly. The Council, therefore, as my right hon. Friend has said, should and can grow in status and authority. It can win the confidence of the Committee of Ministers, partly by rejecting the bad advice offered by some of its members. I would say that its success is a tribute to the moderate and restraining hand of the founders and signers of the Statute. I remember that when it was signed there was a number of very wild schemes for European unity which, had they been admitted or put into operation, might not have achieved the success which was achieved by the more moderate and wise Statute which was in fact signed. Indeed, some of the wild schemes then put forward by some Members opposite might have jeopardised the progress made in the cause of European unity.
May I now turn to one other criticism of the Government's foreign policy made in the concluding stages of the speech of the right hon. Member for Bromley.
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
Before we leave the point, may I ask whether we can definitely have a White Paper on the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers and the replies, as the right hon. Gentleman was not quite certain about it?
§ Mr. Mayhew
Yes, Sir, a White Paper will certainly be published.
The right hon. Member for Bromley said that our policy was not marked by any integral line of thought, that it was not consistent or logical.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
Will the Under-Secretary deal with the question of Czechoslovakia on the Security Council before he deals with that point?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I was asked whether there was a deal by which we supported Czechoslovakia in return for a number of Slav votes for our candidates. I can say flatly that there was no deal. There is a 2335 convention, and has been for some time, at the United Nations, that certain groups of countries get certain seats on the Security Council, but that is a very different thing from saying that there was a deal in connection with, any particular places.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Can the Under-Secretary say on what grounds the Government voted for the inclusion of Czechoslovakia?
§ Mr. Mayhew
Without notice, I should not like to answer exactly what is the convention. I should require notice to say exactly which countries belong to each group in a convention which I merely know exists.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
The Under-Secretary says there is a convention. Does he mean it is a formal instrument, or that there is a tradition? My right hon. Friend made it perfectly clear that there was a gentleman's agreement in 1946, but under different circumstances from those of today. Is that what he was referring to?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I do not know what name one calls it. It is simply an understanding between certain countries that they will obey certain conventions in the field of voting in these matters. If I may now turn to this criticism—
§ Mr. Mayhew
—that there is no train of consistency or logic in the policy of my right hon. Friend, I maintain, on the contrary, that post-war foreign policy has been remarkably consistent, logical and sound. I do not know with what period of history the right hon. Gentleman was comparing our policy when he said that there was no consistency about it. I hope he was not comparing it with the pre-war period. I exonerate him from that, but what about the others who cheered him? I should be sorry indeed to support a foreign policy as inconsistent as the pre-war Munich policy or one which brought the name of the British people 2336 so low in the world. But, in fact, our policy has been remarkably consistent, with one break, about half-way through the period, when Soviet intransigence forced us, with great reluctance, to change our objective from one world to one free world. But from that stage, which, one may say, was reached when my right hon. Friend replied to the famous speech at Harvard of Mr. Marshall, the pattern has unfolded itself by logical, consistent and well-timed steps.
My right hon. Friend spoke of the tripod of British foreign policy as being based on Europe, North America and the Commonwealth. It is a tripod, and in another sense it is development in the economic, the defence and the political fields. Here, bit by bit, we see working out a true pattern; a remarkable instance of consistency—and results have come. We have results in the habit of common action which has now become ingrained in many of the organisations to which we belong. The anxieties we now face, through some instances of disunity between one country of Europe and another, are in a large measure a tribute to the distance we have come. There are cases, which have been quoted by hon. Members opposite, of lack of co-ordination between one country and another in Western Europe which would have passed without comment only two or three years ago simply because we had not then established this custom and habit of common action with our friends.
The right hon. Member for Bromley said it was right not to minimise the Russian danger. I think we can all agree with that expression of view. It is also right not to maximise it, not to be alarmist or hysterical about it. For example, at the time of the airlift, it was wise not to become alarmist about the situation. As the right hon. Member for Bromley said in March this year:Have we solved the problem? I often wonder what history will say of that decision in June last year. Were we right or wrong? Would we have done better to face the issue squarely then? [An HON. MEMBER: 'War.'] I do not think there would have been war. I think there would have been a Russian retirement. At any rate, if we had decided not to enforce our rights, could we not then have taken some stronger counter-measures such as the economic boycott of the Eastern zone?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd March, 1949; Vol. 463, c. 381–2.]So, while the right hon. Gentleman is right and is uttering a platitude in saying 2337 we must not minimise the Russian danger, I detected in his references to Albania and Greece and the Soviet Government, a note of alarmism and hysteria not warranted by the facts. But, as I say—and I have been borne out by other hon. Members opposite; the hon. Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts), for example, and the hon. Member for Berkshire, I think it is—
§ Mr. Mayhew
I agree with the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) and the hon. Member for North Cumberland, who stated that the tide is slowly turning in Europe, and that we have had a succession of cold war victories. I agree that it would be dangerous to be in the least complacent or over-optimistic, but no one can deny that Western ideas are recovering the initiative and are strengthening their moral ascendency over Communism. The elections we have had in Western Europe in the past few months show how much the people of Western Europe are turning against the appeal of Communism.
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus), in what I may call a typical speech, of course stated precisely the opposite to this. He said that things were getting worse and worse with the people of Western Europe to such a degree that we have reached the point where we shall see revolt, by which he meant Communist revolt. If we look at the facts, not quoting out of one's own book—as I saw the hon. Gentleman doing—facts such as the elections in Norway, in Western Germany, in Italy, in Berlin and North Kensington, do we find the people in a spirit of revolt and turning to Communism? We find nothing of the kind. The truth is that the campaigns against the Marshall Plan and against the Atlantic Pact are failing in Western Europe.
The movement of the Partisans of Peace, as they are called—that is, all those who have promised to open the gates of their countries to the Red Army—all those pacifists who support the bandits in Malaya and Greece and worst 2338 of all, the war of nerves against Tito—about the most bloodthirsty pacifist movement there ever was—must see that they are failures, too. Even the blind can see that in Europe what purports to be a movement of liberation, peace and progress is, in fact, often a para-military fifth column. The same is true of Europe as a whole. The tide is turning, and Greece now joins Azerbaijan, Berlin and Yugoslavia as the Soviet Union's fourth frustrated territorial ambition.
Of course, we are aware of the danger. We are aware of the need to keep up our efforts for the political, economic and social advance of the Western world. It may well be that the centre of the cold war has shifted to the under-nourished countries, where the political maturity of the people is less advanced. Nevertheless, as we look back we can see in the history of the last few months a tribute to the policy of firmness and patience of my right hon. Friend. We have seen a sense of design and purpose given to the countries of the Western world. The unity and strength of the West has grown. I hope the lesson has not been lost on the misguided doctrinaires of the Kremlin—the lesson that the régimes of the West are not designed inevitably to collapse, and that they are not inevitably hostile to the Soviet Union. Therefore, there is more to gain by co-operating with the Governments of the West than by trying to weaken and undermine them, and more to be gained by dealing with Governments elected in the West by the people's will than with unrepresentative minorities in their midst, whom we all repudiate.
Were that lesson learned we could perhaps return to our first objective—we should be able to start working again with the ideal of security and prosperity organised, not on a regional basis, but on a world-wide basis as an immediate objective. Towards that ideal surely the policies and the future plans of His Majesty's Government will have made a great contribution.
§ It being Eleven o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Popplewell.]