§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I think there has been a general desire that with this debate I should give a fuller account of the talks which I had at Washington and supplement the fairly full report that was given in the communiqué. I should like at the outset to recall the circumstances in which I decided to pay a visit to the United States of America. It will be recalled that the House debated foreign affairs on 29th and 30th November, and that just at that time there were grave developments in Korea. I think there was in this country, and, perhaps, not only in this country, a good deal of anxiety as to where events were leading us, and the course of the debate indicated that the present time would be opportune for me to pay a visit to the President of the United States, which I had had in contemplation for some time.
I accordingly made my suggestion to President Truman that I should visit him in order that we might in an intimate way take a wide survey of the problems which face us today. I think that that suggestion was welcomed; and the President, although beset with other preoccupations and engagements, very readily undertook to receive me. Let me say that. I did not expect that the result of this meeting would lead to any spectacular action or any dramatic announcement. What I hoped for, and what, I think, was achieved, was a closer understanding of the points of view of our two Governments.
When I arrived in Washington on Monday, 4th December, the President in person. accompanied by Mr. Acheson, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Harriman and other high officials, welcomed me; and throughout the talks, both in my meetings with the President and his advisers, and in other meetings that were held between officials at various levels, the attitude of the American Administration could not have been more cordial; they could not have shown themselves more anxious to be helpful. We discussed in a full, frank and friendly way the general background 1351 of our policy and our attitude to the main problems which confront us in international affairs.
I knew very well when I started on my journey that, like the people of this country, the people of America are profoundly concerned with the preservation of world peace. This was amply confirmed by all that I saw in that country. I should like to make it clear at the outset that my talks with President Truman were concerned with the relations of our two countries and the contribution which our two countries could make to the common cause. It was not for us, when military events were moving so rapidly in Korea, to try to take day to day decisions on the problems which confront the United Nations. It was not for us to prejudge the conclusions of our friends and Allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Nor, of course, was it for me, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to attempt to speak on behalf of our fellow members of the Commonwealth. But I have naturally been in close contact with the Governments of the other countries of the Commonwealth on these matters, and I conferred with their representatives both in this country and in Washington.
We felt, as we sat there in Washington, that our task was to contribute to building a just and lasting peace. That is the objective of both Governments. On the Tuesday, I was given a very full report on the military situation, and, subsequently, later developments were outlined to us. While I was away, the Minister of Defence made a statement in this House, I think on 7th December, which dealt with operations up to that date. I should like to give the House the latest available information.
There is no doubt that the United Nations Forces met with a very serious reverse. They suffered very heavily in both men and equipment. But the situation in the last few days has considerably improved, though, of course, there may be ups and downs. During the past week the United Nations have continued their orderly withdrawal in the west, with virtually no contact with the Chinese Communist Forces, and are in the process of stabilising their positions in the area of the 38th Parallel. It would appear that the reconstituted North Korean Army is now being infiltrated to the front line in 1352 order to probe our positions while the Chinese Armies regroup in the rear. A significant feature of the past few days has been the movement south from Pyongyang towards our lines of some 20,000 to 30,000 refugees. Many of these are probably soldiers trying to infiltrate into our positions.
By now the United Nations Forces which had been cut off in the Chosin Reservoir area, including our own 41st Independent Royal Marine Commandos, have safely reached the bridgehead of Hungnam and are being evacuated by sea. As already reported in the Press, United Nations Forces in this area have suffered heavy casualties. There is no doubt that the intense air support they received greatly assisted them to fight their way out in face of the tremendous odds against them. The 27th British Commonwealth Brigade and the British 29th Brigade, who played a prominent part in the rearguard action covering the withdrawal of the 8th Army, are now being withdrawn into reserve in our new defensive positions.
Though future Chinese intentions are not clear, they are continuing to move reinforcements of troops and supplies over the Yalu River. It is evident that on the Western front the southward movement of the large mass of Chinese forces has been greatly hampered by the lack of transport, limited road net and air bombardment of road and rail bridges and supply lines. For those reasons the Chinese Armies, while continuing to thrust forward with patrol elements, have not been capable of exploiting their initial success since the early days of their counter-offensive.
Chinese losses are reported to have been extremely heavy. In the Chosin Reservoir area alone, their casualties have been estimated at 25,000. The Chinese supply problem has been most acute for them in this area. Many captured Chinese are suffering from severe frostbite and have stated that they had had no food for five days. The feeling at General MacArthur's Headquarters is that they are confident that the United Nations' Forces can retain a firm hold in the peninsula. It will be realised that the military situation during the past ten days has been fluid, and that it was against this changing background that our talks took place.
Our first meetings were naturally concerned with the Far Eastern situation, 1353 and the communiqué brings out very clearly both the points of agreement and the points of difference between the two Governments. But it would be a mistake to over-emphasise those differences.
We are at one in our support of the action of the United Nations in resisting aggression. Both Governments are profoundly desirous of preventing the war from spreading. Both seek to reach a settlement in the Far East and indeed in the whole of Asia. We in this country have great interests in Asia, where there are peoples who, under our care, are marching on the road to full self-government. We are united in the British Commonwealth of Nations with India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and with the southern Dominions who border on the Far East. We have our friends in the Middle East. We have long and friendly relations with the peoples of Asia, not least the Chinese; and it has been our consistent policy to meet the just claims of the Asiatic nations to be dealt with on terms of full equality. We have taken a realist view.
When it became clear that the present rulers of China were in effective occupation of that country we gave them our recognition. We believe it is right that Chinese representation in the United Nations should belong to the present Government of China. We have been working for this, and I believe that but for the Korean episode this end would have been achieved.
I stated our position in the course of our meetings. Korea is essentially a United Nations problem. Its outcome will have an important effect on the authority and prestige of the United Nations. It is vital that that authority should be maintained, and it is, therefore, of supreme importance that any settlement should be arrived at under United Nations auspices. As we are all agreed that an extension of the conflict must be avoided, there must sooner or later be a settlement, and the sooner that settlement can be arrived at the better, to bring to an end the sufferings of the people of Korea and to avoid further casualties.
These matters are now being considered at the United Nations, and I should like to weigh my words very carefully. His Majesty's Government firmly believe that the first step in the solution of the Korean problem is to bring the 1354 fighting to a very early end. They have, therefore, given their support to a resolution put forward in the United Nations by a number of Asian and Middle Eastern countries which provides for a cease fire. That motion was carried by an overwhelming majority in the Political Committee. It might give food for thought to some of those innocents who are apt to be led astray to know that the only opposition to this attempt to bring the fighting to an end was by the Soviet and its satellites, who are talking of peace.
It is the hope of His Majesty's Government that the Chinese and North Koreans will respond to this initiative and thus bring the conflict to an end. I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the statesmanlike initiative of these Asiatic and Middle Eastern countries, and in particular to the special efforts made by the Government of India and their representative at the United Nations. I would deeply regret it if anything said here should in any way impede the success of this initiative. I should also like to pay tribute to the work of the Minister of State and Sir Gladwyn Jebb, who have taken a prominent part in all these discussions.
In our attitude towards the longer-term problem our objectives rest on the Cairo Declaration, which was agreed upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. We seek a free and independent Korea. Our ultimate aim is a Korea living on terms of peace and friendship with its neighbours and with the rest of the world. The Cairo Declaration, which was agreed on by all Korea's neighbours, expressed acceptance of two principles: non-aggression and no territorial ambitions. It is for the Chinese Government to make it clear that they accept these principles, for their recent actions have thrown doubt upon this.
The question of Formosa, which was also dealt with in the Cairo Declaration, is one of the most difficult of all the problems facing us in the Far East. There are mutual fears and suspicions to be got rid of before a solution can be found. It is right that everyone should try to understand the point of view both of the Chinese rulers and also of the United States of America. Until China shows by her action that she is not obstructing the fulfilment of the Cairo Declaration in respect of Korea and accepts the basic 1355 principle of the Cairo Declaration, it will be difficult to reach a satisfactory solution.
The President and I agree that consideration of this difficult problem by the United Nations would be helpful. In the Far East, as in other parts of the world, there are two courses which are open to us in dealing with disputes and difficulties which may arise. Either we must try to negotiate a settlement based on the acceptance of normal standards of international practice and on the principles and obligations of the Charter of the United Nations, or, on the other hand, we shall find ourselves drifting inevitably towards war. There is no middle course.
In applying this basic principle to the fact of Chinese intervention in Korea and to the facts of Chinese behaviour there and elsewhere in the last few months, His Majesty's Government believe that a solution must be sought by means of peaceful negotiations. We may seek a solution; we shall not find one unless, on the Chinese side, there is equal determination to use negotiation rather than force—to accept normal standards of international behaviour, to accept the obligations and principles of the United Nations' Charter. If there is such willingness on the Chinese side, His Majesty's Government are confident that solutions can be found compatible with the principles of the Charter. Nothing short of willingness on both sides to accept the principles of the Charter and to use peaceful means for the settlement of disputes can prevent perpetuation of international friction which, in turn, may lead to a breakdown of the United Nations and perhaps even to widespread hostilities.
I should like to say a word about the arrangements for liaison between the American administration and ourselves in Washington. I should like to pay tribute to the really admirable work which is being done by our representatives in Washington, both by Lord Tedder on the military side and by His Majesty's Ambassador, Sir Oliver Franks, on the political side. Many of their contacts are, of course, informal. They depend for their success very largely on the friendly relations these men and their colleagues can establish with their American opposite numbers. I have high hopes that these valuable interchanges will continue, and indeed, that the relationships which 1356 they have fostered will grow ever closer: but it would, to my mind, be a mistake to try to formalise these arrangements. Anything more formal might very well be misunderstood, and it would, I think, destroy some of the essential features on which their present success depends.
The regular day-to-day work of liaison which is carried on in this way is supplemented and reinforced by the visits which Members of the Government have been able to pay to the United States. The Foreign Secretary, as the House knows, attended the Tripartite Meeting of Foreign Ministers, and also the meeting of the Atlantic Council held in New York in September when the General Assembly of the United Nations was meeting. The Minister of Defence has taken part in meetings of the Defence Ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Powers in Washington, and, finally, there have been my own discussions with the President. Direct discussion across the table will always do more to clear up misunderstandings than the exchange of formal communications. The close working relationships which grow up in this way will do far more to harmonise our policy and actions than any written agreements about consultation.
I think that here perhaps lies the answer to some of the doubts and misgivings which have been expressed on two important topics: first of all, the control of military operations in Korea, and, secondly, the use of atomic weapons. On the first of these topics, the House will remember what was said by the Foreign Secretary in the debate on foreign affairs at the end of November. He made it clear that it is for the United States Government who provide the unified command in Korea to ensure that no military action which had political implications should be taken without appropriate consultations with other governments. The House will recall that the Foreign Secretary gave an assurance that there had in fact been such consultation. As a result of my talks with the President, I am completely satisfied that the fullest weight will be given to the views of His Majesty's Government before instructions are issued to the United Nations Commander which have political implications.
Questions have also been asked about the atomic weapon and the procedure by which the decision to use it will be reached if that ever became necessary. It is 1357 generally known that there was a wartime partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada in the development of the atomic weapon.
§ The Prime Minister
The nature of the arrangements which we made in war-time and the nature of the agreement between the Governments have never been revealed. It is also public knowledge that the co-operation between the countries continues for certain purposes in the atomic energy field. For example, the results of a Tripartite Conference on the declassification of secret material were recently made known.
The position of the United States Administration in many of these matters is now regulated by legislation enacted in the United States since the end of the war. But it was in the spirit and against the background of that partnership that I was able to raise the vital question of the use of the atomic weapon, and it was in the same spirit and against the same background that I received assurances which I consider to be perfectly satisfactory.
§ The Prime Minister
In our talks the President and I considered Far Eastern problems in the perspective of the world situation. We are concerned with the preservation of peace not only in the Far East but in South East Asia, in the Middle East and in Europe.
The Government of the United States despite their concern with Far Eastern events are fully conscious of the need for defence against possible aggression in other areas. They recognise how vital is the defence of Europe. We discussed and reached complete agreement on Atlantic defence. We agreed that integrated forces for the defence of the Atlantic community must be established in Europe and that a Supreme Commander should be appointed as soon as possible. We agreed also that it was urgently necessary to increase Western defence beyond its present level. These matters and the question of a German contribution to her own defence in common with the rest of Western Europe have all been under discussion in London, 1358 Washington, and Paris for the last three months.
The North Atlantic Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers are meeting at Brussels on Monday and Tuesday of next week, when the effect of the implementation of the principles agreed upon by us in Washington will be fully considered. In view of these meetings I would prefer not to go into details now, but I am confident that the decisions taken will reflect the sense of urgency which inspired my talks in Washington, and will bring us nearer to what we hope to attain—a Western world strong enough to resist aggression, and therefore to prevent aggression and to preserve peace. Meanwhile, we shall neglect no opportunity of possible action to remove, by agreement, the differences which are disturbing the international scene and threatening world peace.
In his statements in the House on 13th and 29th November, the Foreign Secretary explained the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the Soviet Government's proposal for a meeting of the Four Powers to discuss the demilitarisation of Germany. Since he last spoke, a meeting of Ambassadors of the three Western Powers has been held in Paris and agreement has been reached on the draft of a reply to the Soviet Government. This draft is now under consideration by the three Governments. It would not be right that I should enter into details about its contents at this stage. But I can say that it is in close accord with the views of His Majesty's Government, as explained by the Foreign Secretary in his earlier statements, and that it reflects the common desire of the three Governments to examine all the possibilities of a fruitful discussion with the Soviet Government such as would offer a real prospect of removing the underlying causes of the prevailing world tension. His Majesty's Government are much gratified by the identity of views between the three Western Powers which was revealed in the discussions in Paris on this very important matter.
To return to our talks. Having reached agreement on defence matters, the President and I turned to the consideration of the economic implications of the increased armaments on which we were agreed. It was clearly recognised that the needs of 1359 defence would call for very difficult economic adjustments in both our countries, and, indeed, in other countries as well. It was fully appreciated that a healthy civilian economy is a necessary basis for adequate defence. Failure to maintain a sound economy would, in fact, defeat our whole purpose of building up the strength of the democracies. An aspect of this matter to which we devoted much attention was the supply and utilisation of raw materials.
There is already heavy pressure on certain raw materials, and we have been feeling a great deal of anxiety about our supplies. But the demands for raw materials for defence must be considered in relation to essential civilian requirements. In the course of our discussions, we pointed out how vital this question was to the United Kingdom, whose economy is based on the import of raw materials and food and the export of finished goods to pay for them. Of course, this is well understood by the Administration in Washington, but it is quite difficult for people who live in a great continent with abundant supplies of raw materials, such as America, to realise just what is the economic position of Great Britain.
In our discussions, we were concerned both with the immediate situation and with the need for co-ordinated action for the future in order to avoid dislocation so far as possible, and to enable us to prepare for difficulties before they are encountered. On the immediate position, we stated that the United Kingdom was faced with certain critical shortages which were likely to interfere with our production almost at once, notably zinc and sulphur. We found that the United States were also facing similar difficulties, but they fully understood our position, and they undertook immediately to see what help could be given us to meet this emergency. I very much hope that, as a result, we shall avoid the worst dangers which were threatening us in this regard. But in this field we ourselves can help the United States, and we undertook to continue discussions with them on the problems that are causing them immediate concern.
Looking to the future, we found their thinking was proceeding on very much the same lines, and the result of our talks 1360 was most satisfactory. We both recognised that raw materials are just as vital to the life of all other free countries as they are to ourselves, and that these problems therefore cannot be solved by the United States and the United Kingdom acting alone. The first essential is obviously to increase supplies wherever, and as fast as, possible. We have agreed on a joint examination of this problem with a view to urgent action in cooperation with other countries, but we cannot expect that the shortages now confronting us can be quickly or easily overcome by expansion of supplies—that must take some time.
We have to face the fact that over a considerable period there will have to be an equitable sharing out of what is available. That sharing out should be in accordance with the two principles of giving priority to urgent defence requirements and of maintaining healthy civilian economies. That is a hard problem, but we have agreed to work together in the fullest co-operation towards its solution. Before the visit to Washington, there had been some discussions on this question, both in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. But the problem is a much wider one, since our partners in the Commonwealth and our friends in other parts of the world are all deeply concerned both as producers and consumers. We have, however, a great wealth of experience derived from the last war to help us to solve this problem, and I believe we shall solve it.
After the conclusion of my talks in Washington, I went to New York, and there I met the President of the Assembly of the United Nations, Mr. Entezam, and the Secretary General, Mr. Trygve Lie. I also had an opportunity of discussing matters with Sir Gladwyn Jebb and with my Ministerial colleagues, and of meeting the representatives there of the Commonwealth.
As the House knows, I went on from there to visit Canada, where I had the pleasure of meeting the Prime Minister, Mr. St. Laurent, and his Cabinet colleagues. I was able to discuss very fully with them the subject matter of my talks in Washington, and there was helpful discussion on the official level of particular matters, especially action on this problem of raw materials. As always, 1361 I found our Canadian friends most helpful and co-operative, and we found our views generally in complete harmony. It will be realised, of course, that the Canadian Government stands in a very special position in these matters because of her partnership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and her very close relations with the United States.
I was particularly glad to have had this talk with President Truman, in view of the fact that early in January we shall be welcoming the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at a meeting here in London. I shall therefore be able to enter into these discussions with the views of the United States Administration fresh in my mind. Throughout these difficult times we have kept in close touch with our fellow members of the Commonwealth. It is an enormous advantage to us that we are able to bring to bear on world problems the viewnoints of our fellow members of the Commonwealth. The knowledge thus gained is of the greatest help in enabling us to form right judgments on difficult problems with which we have to deal. Especially when we are dealing with the problems of Asia, it is very valuable to have the views of the Prime Ministers of India, Pakistan and Ceylon.
In talking of international affairs, I cannot forbear referring to the great loss sustained by New Zealand and the Commonwealth by the death of Mr. Peter Fraser. I recall his steadfastness during the war. He was a true representative of his country in his loyalty and readiness to give everything for the common cause. I recall his wise counsel in times of peace, when he met here his fellow Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth. I, too, have lost in him a very close personal friend. I am sure the House will join with me in sympathy with the people of New Zealand and his relatives in their loss.
In conclusion, may I once again say how vital to the preservation of world peace is close co-operation between this country and the United States. Nothing would please the enemies of democracy more than to see us estranged. There are mischief makers in both countries. Some people here constantly suggest that Britain is a subservient follower of the United States. There are people in America who suggest that the United States is misled 1362 by the clever diplomacy of Britain, They are both wrong. The United Kingdom and the United States are found acting in concert, because they are both nurtured in freedom and democracy. They draw their moral strength from the same sources. The people of both countries have the same profound desire for peace. If my visit has done anything to increase our mutual understanding it will not have been in vain.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I hasten to associate myself wholeheartedly with the tribute which the Prime Minister has paid to Mr. Peter Fraser. His part in the war was in every way worthy of the country he represented and of the magnificent New Zealand Divisions which served with honour in every field.
We are all very glad to see that the military situation for the time being in Korea has somewhat improved. I hope also that there is truth in the reports that a measure of censorship is being established over the despatches from the front or from Tokio by the war correspondents of all the United Nations. I should think most of us agree with General Robertson's protest upon this point. When one sees set forth day after day the exact position, numbers, condition and intentions of the United Nations troops, very often unit by unit, one cannot but feel that it is hardly fair to the soldiers who are fighting that the enemy should be presented with such complete intelligence, whereas so little seems to be known by us about the other side, and such a large measure of ignorance prevails, among the general public at least, about the enemy's disposition, strength and movements. Indeed, the wildest estimates are given on high authority only to be contradicted and reversed a few days later.
One instance, a small one, but not without significance, particularly struck me. A Centurion tank was damaged and left behind. This was immediately published and its importance emphasised. All the secrets were published of the latest British tank. Thus this vehicle, left behind among great numbers of no doubt other broken down vehicles, and in all the litter of retreat amid the snow, acquired instantly, in the enemy's eyes, an exceptional significance. I was very glad to read—I hope it is true—that it had been successfully destroyed from the air. That 1363 would have been a very good tale to tell if true, after it had happened, but why was it necessary to attract the enemy's attention to this vehicle beforehand. That seems to me a particular illustration. We really must have tighter control over what is published. We all seek to prevent and limit aggression, and one of the additional deterrents which we might impose upon the enemy's aggression would be to tell them that if it goes on much longer we shall cut them off from these invaluable supplies of information.
The Prime Minister's visit to Washington has done nothing but good. The question we all have to consider this afternoon in the House of Commons is, how much good. The Prime Minister spoke of the importance of renewing the series of meetings between the President and the Prime Minister which had taken place during the war and since the war. We all agree with that. We all agree with the advantages of direct discussion to which the Prime Minister has just referred.
I must say it seems to me that five years is rather a long interval, and the decision when it came, was very suddenly taken. My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) spoke on 29th November and urged that we should have stronger representation at Washington at the highest level. I endorsed this when I spoke the next day. I did not wish to appear to reflect any more than he did, in the slightest degree, upon our excellent Ambassador in Washington, and I used the particular phrase,Ministerial representation.That very evening we were told that the Prime Minister was going. During the afternoon there was some excitement caused in the House by the accounts of Mr. Truman's interview with the Press which appeared on the tape. But I understand that this was not the reason that led to the Prime Minister's decision to go and that this was taken earlier in the day. Certainly the decision was very hastily arrived at, after an interval of five years.
Many will think that earlier meetings might have been held. Several recent occasions occur to one. When the Soviet-inspired aggression by the North Korean Government across the 38th Parallel took place, and when the United States intervened vigorously and actively with the approval of the United Nations 1364 Assembly and we joined with them at the end of June, that was certainly an occasion which the Prime Minister might have considered for talking matters over with our great Ally and friend.
Again, after General MacArthur's brilliant counter-stroke, which gave us back Seoul and changed the whole aspect of the fighting up to that point in Korea, would have been, it seems to me, a good moment to talk over the next steps. At that moment many issues were open, which would have gained by having that direct discussion face to face between the heads of Government assisted by their military advisers. It is always easy to be wise after the event, but there were many people in this country who were wise before the event. I am by no means sure that His Majesty's Government and their expert advisers are excluded from that large number.
Those who had this view felt that it would be wiser to fortify a line, if not at the 38th Parallel, at the waist or at the best military position in advance of it, thus leaving a broad no-man's-land in which we could reconnoitre and into which we could go with mobile columns and, of course, with the all-powerful air forces available while building up all the time a strong fortified line which we could hold while, perhaps, conversations went on.
There is much to be said for strong fortified lines. If properly organised in depth, if protected in front by ever-expanding minefields and wire entanglements, and if developed week after week by concreted structures and excavations and firmly held with modern fire power, they would prove a terrific obstacle to the advance of infantry. All this becomes greater when both flanks rest upon the sea and the sea is in Allied command and when we have unquestioned mastery of the air. Such a position, once established, as it would have been possible to do, about 100 miles long, presents a very different obstacle to the advance and infiltration of masses of enemy infantry, from a moving front in hilly, rocky, scrub-covered country, then broadened to about 300 miles.
I am speaking only of what has happened in the past. I do not attempt to say anything about what may happen in the future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] It would be very unwise and 1365 unnecessary to do so in military operations. To pierce a properly fortified line not only would masses of artillery have to be accumulated, but there would also have to be very heavy concentrations of armour. These would present admirable targets to overwhelming air power. It certainly seems that the Chinese armies, if they had attacked such a line, might well have renewed on an even larger scale the painful experiences which we ourselves so often suffered on the Somme and at Passchendaele and in other bloody battlefields of the First World War. I cannot help feeling that it would have been well if all these matters had been talked over at the right moment and in good time in Washington by the highest authorities in both our countries.
We immediately approved the Prime Minister's decision to go when he did, and I feel sure that no one regrets it now. We welcome and wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister's statement about British and American unity and how their two flags will fly together however the winds may blow. That is, indeed, the foundation, as he said in his closing words, of our safety and the best hope for the peace of the world and for the survival of free civilisation. It is a great comfort in the darkening scene to feel that there are no party differences, or very limited party differences, in this country on this supreme issue, and that the task of trying to drive a wedge between us and the United States is left to the Communists and their fellow-travellers, aided perhaps, no doubt through folly rather than malice, by the usual Ministerial indiscretions.
Another advantage which has come from the Prime Minister's journey has been the renewed explicit declarations by the United States emphasising the priority of the defence of Europe. We are glad indeed that General Eisenhower is to be appointed to the Supreme Command of the army—however it may be denominated—which is being constituted there. We were led to believe that this appointment would be made many weeks ago. Progress in European defence, which was tardily begun, continues to be lamentably slow. It is more than nine months since I pointed out that no effective defence of Europe was possible without the armed strength of Germany. The movement of opinion in that direction has been continual, but nothing has been done. No 1366 agreement has been reached, and meanwhile Germany lies even more undefended than do other European countries under the menace of Communist and Russian aggression.
The months slip quickly away all the time. Several years have already been wasted, frittered away. The overwhelming Russian military power towers up against us, committees are multiplied, papers are written, words are outpoured and one declaration succeeds another, but nothing in the slightest degree in proportion to the scale of events or to their urgency has been done. When we return after our anxious Recess we shall require a full and prolonged debate upon defence, and we shall demand that a portion of it shall be in secret.
It was with the danger of Europe in my mind that I said some weeks ago that I hoped that we should not get entangled in China. In order to protect myself from the charge of being wise after the event, I venture to remind the House that on 16th November, before these recent reverses in Korea had taken place, I asked the Minister of Defence a supplementary question, which I do not think he resented in any way:… whether he and the Foreign Secretary will constantly bear in mind the great importance of our not becoming, and of our Allies so far as we can influence their actions not becoming, too much pinned down in China or in the approaches to China at a time when the danger in Europe is … occupying all our minds?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 1910.]I need scarcely say that I hold to that conviction still.
In view, however, of what has happened since then in Korea and in the United Nations Assembly, I feel it requires to be stated with more precision and refinement. We must not at any time be drawn into urging a policy which would inflict dishonour or humiliation upon the United States or upon the United Nations. Such a course would be at least as full of danger as any other now open to us. We learn from the newspapers that the proposals for a truce or cease fire which were proposed by the 13 Asiatic and Arab states, have been opposed by the Soviet delegation. They certainly seemed to be very far-reaching proposals from our point of view.
I will not say more about them, but, while the fullest priority should be given 1367 to the defence of Western Europe, it would be a great mistake to lose our sense of proportion and cast everything to the winds elsewhere. The only prudent course open to the United States and ourselves is to stabilise the local military position and, if the opportunity then occurs, to negotiate with the aggressors and at least make sure that we negotiate from strength and not from weakness.
We shall no doubt hear from the Foreign Secretary tonight how the question of further conversations with Soviet Russia stands. There was, I think, fairly complete agreement in the House that no abrupt negative or merely dilatory action would be appropriate to the Russian request, and from what we have read in the newspapers, it does not seem likely that there will be any serious disagreement between us upon the procedure eventually to be adopted.
I am strongly in favour of every effort being made by every means, to secure a fair and reasonable settlement with Russia. I should, however, be failing in frankness to the House, and to some of those who agree with me upon this matter, to whom I am much opposed in many ways, if I did not make it clear at this stage that we must not place undue hopes upon the success of any negotiations which may be undertaken. It is our duty—and a duty which we owe to the cause of peace and to our own consciences—to leave no effort unmade that wisdom and fair play can suggest, and that patience can bring forward. But on this side of the House we have never contemplated that if negotiations failed, we should abandon any of the great causes for which we have stood in the past, and for which the United Nations organisation stands today.
The declaration of the Prime Minister that there will be no appeasement also commands almost universal support. It is a good slogan for the country. It seems to me, however, that in this House it requires to be more precisely defined. What we really mean, I think, is no appeasement through weakness or fear. Appeasement in itself may be good or bad according to the circumstances. Appeasement from weakness and fear is alike futile and fatal. Appeasement from strength is magnanimous and noble and might be the surest and perhaps the only path to world peace.
1368 When nations or individuals get strong they are often truculent and bullying, but when they are weak they become better mannered. But this is the reverse of what is healthy and wise. I have always been astonished, having seen the end of these two wars, how difficult it is to make people understand the Roman wisdom, "Spare the conquered and confront the proud." I think I will go so far as to say it in the original:Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.The modern practice has too often been. "punish the defeated and grovel to the strong."
Unhappily, except as regards the atomic bomb—about which I shall have a word to say before I sit down—we are in a very weak position and likely to remain so for several years. As I have repeatedly said, it is only the vast superiority of the United States in this awful weapon that gives us any chance of survival. The argument is now put forward that we must never use the atomic bomb until, or unless, it has been used against us first. In other words, you must never fire until you have been shot dead. That seems to me undoubtedly a silly thing to say and a still more imprudent position to adopt.
Moreover, such a resolve would certainly bring war nearer. The deterrent effect of the atomic bomb is at the present time almost our sole defence. Its potential use is the only lever by which we can hope to obtain reasonable consideration in an attempt to make a peaceful settlement with Soviet Russia. If they had superiority, or even something like equality in this weapon with the United States, I cannot feel any assurance that they would be restrained by the conscientious scruples or moral inhibitions which are often so vocal in this country. It would certainly be a poor service to the cause of peace to free them from all cause of apprehension until they were in every respect ready to strike.
The Soviet power could not be confronted, or even placated, with any hope of success if we were in these years of tension through which we are passing to deprive ourselves of the atomic bomb, or to prevent its use by announcing gratuitously self-imposed restrictions. Of course, when we say "we," we must not forget that we have been unable to make the atomic bomb ourselves. Our failure during five years of peace has astonished me very much when I remember how far we 1369 were advanced, not only in knowledge but in initiative, in 1942 and 1943.
In the communiqué published last week by the President and the Prime Minister, President Truman stated that it was his "hope that world conditions would never call for the use of the atomic bomb," and he undertook to keep His Majesty's Government informed of developments "which might bring about a change in the situation." This assurance by the President contained in the joint communiqué is in very general terms. There is no guarantee in that assurance even of consultation. But in war-time we were on equal terms with the United States in the whole business of atomic research. Today the Prime Minister used a new phrase when he said that full weight will be given to any representations we may make. In 1943 I made an agreement with the President. Since then I understand other arrangements have been made. The Prime Minister tells us today that the same spirit and the same background are there in the present understanding, but he and one or two of my friends and former colleagues on both sides are the only ones in the House to know exactly what this means. I am sure that the Government would be wise to make a fuller statement upon this subject than we have yet heard.
§ Mr. Churchill
No, I would rather not, thank you very much. One can always take examples from what happens. The President of the United States the other day let himself be cross-examined freely during a Press conference on this very topic. In my opinion, one ought not to say anything upon the subject one has not very carefully considered beforehand. I certainly do not intend to be cross-examined by the hon. Gentleman, because I have considered carefully what I should say. I am strongly of opinion that the Government should make a fuller statement upon this subject, and that this would be beneficial both to our own position and to our relationship with the United States. After all, this matter has become one of very real and vital consequence to us since the decision of the Government to afford the United States the bomber base in East Anglia, which makes it all the more necessary that the 1370 position in which we stand should be clearly defined.
We are debating this afternoon matters of supreme importance to ourselves and to the whole Empire and Commonwealth of Nations. We do so at a time when, on domestic questions, parties are evenly balanced and deeply divided. A continuance of these conditions is harmful to our national strength. The responsibility lies in the first instance upon the Government and in a special degree, of course, upon the Prime Minister. They decide the movement of our affairs. We respond to the action which they take in these matters.
The Prime Minister has taken marked steps to increase the differences in home politics. I ask him, even now, if he will not reconsider—[interruption.] Hon. Members opposite can get ready to howl. They have not had much at which to cheer during the speech to which they listened earlier; now, perhaps, they will have their chance. I ask the Prime Minister, even now, whether he will not reconsider his decision to force the steel nationalisation Act upon us in the midst of all these storms and dangers. Not only should he consider that an abatement of domestic quarrels would be advantageous—
§ Mr. Churchill
—but he should also consider the injury that will be done to our rearmament programme by taking this industry from the competent hands in which it now rests and placing it under the imperfect and inexperienced State management by which it is threatened. It really is not a matter for mere hilarity for uneasy minds and unsettled consciences below the Gangway.
§ Mr. Churchill
The Prime Minister spoke about raw materials and the arrangements which were being made for them, but steel is the mainspring of all effective rearmament measures. We wished the right hon. Gentleman well upon his Transatlantic mission, and we have recognised the advantages which it has secured, but I will say now that if he persists in his present attitude on steel nationalisation, he will fail in his duties 1371 to the country as a whole. Although we approved of the visit of the Prime Minister to the United States, although we lent him full support on his mission, although the results have been helpful so far as they go, we cannot in these circumstances feel confidence in the loyalty of the Government to the people of this country. The Prime Minister is counting on our support, which will—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—which will not be withheld on issues of national importance abroad, while at the same time he is seeking to placate his political tail by acts of party faction at home.
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South) rose—
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones
Is it in order for the Leader of the Opposition to question the loyalty of His Majesty's Government?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is a matter for the right hon. Gentleman and not for me. That is not a point of order.
§ Mr. Churchill
As my voice was drowned by hon. Members opposite, I might repeat the sentence on which I closed—namely, that we think it is very doubtful whether—
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Churchill
If there is any one man in this House who should hang his head in shame—[Interruption]—it is the hon. Gentleman, who won cheers by abusing the United States as shabby moneylenders.
§ Mr. Silverman rose—1372
§ Mr. Silverman
I want to ask you, Sir, whether it is in order for the Leader of the Opposition to use his great opportunity on an historic occasion to accuse everybody in the world except himself of disloyalty.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. Hon. Members must not waste the time of the House by these mere party accusations.
§ Mr. Churchill
As the hon. Gentleman went out of his way to interrupt me in what I was hoping would be the closing sentence that I should have to utter, I thought it right to point out what he had said in the past and to draw his attention—
§ Mr. Churchill
—to draw his attention to the very different sentiments which have been put forward today. I regret very much that the Prime Minister—[Interruption.]—I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite not to interrupt any expression of their feelings which they may desire to make, because it does not trouble or worry me in the slightest. It only prevents my getting on with what I have to say.
§ Mr. Churchill
I am quite determined to utter my last sentence if I have to stand here half an hour. What I say is that I very much regret that the Prime Minister has not risen to the heights of his national responsibility, and I predict that he will encounter misfortunes and reproach on the discordant course to which he has devoted himself. [Interruption.]
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
For many years I have been not the least of the right hon. Gentleman's admirers, but I must say how sorry I am that, perhaps for the first time, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) has failed to live up to the level of a great and important occasion. We are standing at a very critical crossroad and I should have thought that if ever there were an occasion when we should all measure our words very carefully, it was today.
The right hon. Gentleman complained that the Atlantic journey had been too tardy in its arrival. I take it that it was always open to the right hon. Gentleman to make representations through the usual channels if he thought there was all that urgency. For myself, and I think for the nation, we are all profoundly grateful to the Prime Minister for his statesmanlike conduct of the nation's affairs at this very critical hour. I thought the visit was remarkably well timed. I am the more surprised at the right hon. Gentleman because, over these past few weeks, his leadership of the Opposition has been really statesmanlike and we have all felt profoundly grateful for that.
I will pass from today's events and hope that the House will take a more sober view of its responsibilities for the remainder of this Session. I agree with the Prime Minister about the importance of the Anglo-American alliance and I cannot understand those who draw no moral distinction between the liberal purposes of the United States as exemplified by Lease-Lend, U.N.R.R.A. and Marshall Aid and the savage, brutal vendettas of totalitarian Communism. It seems to me that to fail to make this moral distinction is intellectual and political dishonesty of a very high order. If ever this Anglo-American alliance fell apart, if the industrial power of Japan and Western Germany should ever be won for Soviet imperialism, liberty and toleration would have perished from the earth and a long night of totalitarian tyranny would have started. Those are my views and I state them.
But other considerations present themselves, and here I address my remarks in particular to a few of my hon. Friends and in special relation to China. Foreign policy cannot be con- 1374 sidered in a vacuum. Foreign policy is the external instrument of a nation's internal needs and in these circumstances to fail to condition our political prejudices by a modicum of economic reality is again grimly dishonest. We must be idealistic in our approach but we must also be pragmatic in our actions.
We are in the Far East for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it is from there that we are able to secure the income which enables us in turn to purchase dollar commodities without which the 50 million people who live in these islands could neither be fed, nor clothed, nor could their industries be furnished. If ever we were forced out of the Far East—and as for me, I say we are there, and there we are going to stay—if ever we were deprived of the dollar income that is derived from the Far East, then, inevitably, massive unemployment would follow in this country. Indeed, I do not think I exaggerate when I say that 20 million people would have to get out of Britain for the purpose of getting a living. This country would then be left as a super Stratford-on-Avon, a museum piece, like Vienna between the two wars.
British foreign policy has to reflect all these stark, naked economic considerations at all times. Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Formosa, Singapore, are all cards out of the same pack, and to scuttle from any of these places ahead of a comprehensive and binding agreement, would be the height of folly. I could not lend myself to any such tactic, because surely if there is one lesson we have learned over the past terrible years it is that appeasement only breeds more bellicosity. The Far East is living through a period of nationalist, social and economic ferment much the same as that which afflicted Europe about 1845. But, just as it died down in Europe, it will die down in the Far East. Meanwhile, we have to recognise certain fundamental and very important considerations.
Western civilisation, based on Christianity, is engaged in a contest for the ideological championship of the world which may well last 10 years. We have to recognise, and our friends have to recognise, that this contest cannot be won by a knockout; it can only be won on 1375 points. We have to consider very carefully what our tactics should be and to recognise certain facts, certain changes in the social set-up in the Far East. Having recognised those facts, we then have to ask ourselves some very difficult and searching questions. If we fail to ask ourselves those questions, we shall not arrive at the correct answers.
All who have a part to play at this very important juncture of human history must recognise that the people of Asia are now emerging from a centuries old stupor and that the ideological struggle can be waged successfully only by a combination of economic, political and military policies. We and our friends across the Atlantic must recognise that freedom for feudal landlords and price speculators means empty bellies for hungry people. Men denied the chance to work, and forced to watch their wives and children starve, will not fight to preserve decadent, incompetent corrupt régimes such as those of Syngman Rhee and Chiang Kai-shek. A resurrected Louis XV has no answer to the problems that now confront us in the Far East. It was for these reasons that all the best elements in China in desperation joined the anti-Chiang Kai-shek crusade.
It so happened that the Communists led the opposition, but had they called themselves atheists, bigamists or polygamists, it would have been just the same. China was absolutely desperate. Any change was better than none, and in all fairness I am bound to say that the present régime would appear to be the most efficient and the least corrupt that China has had for many years. I want to suggest that east of Suez the Western democracies' most powerful instrument is not the atom bomb but President Truman's fourth point.
I shall have something to say in a few minutes about our relationship with China. Meanwhile. I should like to say that two Tennessee Valley projects, one on the Ganges and the other on the Yangtze, would do more for Western ideas, ideals and interests than a dozen atom bombs; 50,000 ploughs more than 10 million bullets, and a handful of rice would do more good than a hand grenade.
It would be fatal to write off China as having passed finally into the Russian 1376 orbit. What are the instruments which the Soviet uses. The emotions appealed to by the Kremlin autocracy are hatred, envy, jealousy and a lust for power. But those are not characteristics of the Chinese people. The Chinese people have a strong tradition of the family and a philosophy based on the teachings of Confucius. The Chinese have much more in common with Western democracy than they have with totalitarian Communism. Russia requires China as an economic and military vassal—cannon fodder for the Kremlin. But what can Russia do for China? Russia, with a 25 million ton steel production, cannot meet her own requirements. Manchuria is of vital importance to China; but the Russians have a stranglehold on Manchuria.
These are the real politics of the present Chinese set-up. What we need more than anything else is not an aggravation of the difficulties with China. No appeasement, as I have said, but what would be fatal would be a closing of the door. The job of diplomacy is to keep the door open wide. Economics will take charge, before very long. Time is on our side, not on the side of the Russians.
I should like to say a few words about these Russians. For myself, I believe that they are staging the biggest bluff the world has ever known. Russia is a swollen octopus, not a coiled spring. Our job is to lop off a few of the tentacles. We made a start in Yugoslavia—a very good start. The recent development in Yugoslav-Anglo-American relations is a most heartening one. Much the same tactics should be applied to China. I take no pessimistic view of the present situation. For 90 per cent. of the people who march behind Communist banners in Prague, Budapest and Warsaw, the finest sight in all the world would be the white cliffs of Dover or the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour. If the Russians were foolish enough to precipitate a third world war, what a time they would have on their lines of communication.
But I am not at all sure that we are doing sufficient to give meaning and purpose to social democracy. I am not at all sure that we are doing enough to refute the tinsel half-truths of Russian propaganda. We must remember that social and moral progress needs constant 1377 attention, and this is a period of history in which the spiritual side of mankind is asking questions. That presents us with a great opportunity. What can totalitarian Communism offer to the world compared with social democracy? I do not believe that we are doing half enough to get our point of view over. Nor do I think that we are doing sufficient to "debunk" this Russian propaganda.
The great rallying cry of the French Revolution was, "Liberty, equality, fraternity." This self-perpetuating political caucus in Moscow symbolises liberty by keeping 10 million political prisoners in concentration camps. These are the topics we ought to be talking about in the Far East and behind the Iron Curtain. Soviet equality seems to mean 35s. a week for Moscow crossing sweepers and £250 a week for doctors and lawyers in private practice; country mansions, American cars and houseboats in the Crimea for commissars, and 2s. 5¾d. a week for Red Army privates. This seems to be a most peculiar set-up for what is supposed to be the classless Socialist Utopia. Those are the comments we ought to be making.
There is one other matter. The Kremlin propagandists are always saying to the workers that the capitalists will do everything except get off their backs. Since the war there have been three large loans floated in Russia, the last being for £2,000 million at 4 per cent. I should like to know who in this classless Socialist Utopia is able to get hold of a £2,000 million chunk of surplus value, and who will work to earn the 4 per cent. interest —1 per cent. more than the British bank rate. Part of Anglo-American strategy at this moment should be to revitalise our propaganda, and these are the sort of matters that we ought to be talking about.
There comes a time in every nation's struggles when the faint-hearted grow weary and say, "Why go on?" Throughout our history, we British have always resisted that temptation. I hope and believe that very few people are going to be deceived by this peace propaganda instigated by Kremlin apologists drawing large salaries from British educational institutions. I do not think many will be deceived; neither do I think many will be deceived by this anti-American propaganda. Taking it at the low level of 1378 expediency, when in history did two parties to an alliance see eye to eye with each other on everything? Never; of course, not.
I hope the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, to whom we owe a great deal for his conduct of foreign affairs over these last few years—more than some are prepared to recognise—will continue to do everything necessary to consolidate this present happy Anglo-American relationship.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I should like to begin, if I may, by joining with the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) in paying a short, but very sincere, tribute to Mr. Peter Fraser. Not only has New Zealand lost one of its leading statesmen, a great Prime Minister who had won the affection and admiration of all parties there, but the Commonwealth, and indeed free democracy, has lost a warm friend and wise counsellor. We mourn with New Zealand at his early passing.
Two days ago, I rose here not only to congratulate the Prime Minister but to express gratitude to him for undertaking his visit to America. It was essential that that visit should be paid, and the Prime Minister was quite right in saying that so much could be done—and better and more quickly done—by direct talks around a table than could ever be achieved by communications. However close these may be, they are not the same as personal contact. Like the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I wish the Prime Minister had gone earlier, and had renewed the contacts established during the war, but I would like to say at once to the Prime Minister that I do not recall that anyone of us tendered that advice before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) about a fortnight ago. All I can say is that I am glad the Prime Minister went.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman leaves that point, since he is joining with the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), may I ask him this question? Does he support the right hon. Member for Woodford in charging the 1379 Prime Minister with disloyalty to the people of this country?
§ Mr. Davies
I am sure that that was not said by the right hon. Gentleman. At any rate, this is much too serious for any of us, on the other side of the House or on this side—
§ Mr. Hector Hughes rose—
§ Mr. Davies
I expect that the hon. and learned Gentleman may get his opportunity to say what he has to say, but, today, we are discussing the serious gravity of the international situation.
§ Mr. Davies
It is good to know from the communiqué and from the Prime Minister today that there was complete accord between him and the President upon the real objects of the foreign policy of both countries—the maintenance of world peace, respect for the rights and interests of peoples, strengthening the defences of the free nations and eliminating the causes of fear, want and discontent, and to promote the democratic way of life. It is well that we should know that, on these main principles and main aims, there was complete accord between the two democratic Governments. It is unthinkable that two nations which fought side by side and made such tremendous sacrifices through two world wars should have any cause for disagreement at this grave moment, when the world is face to face with a possibility—to put it no higher than that—of another world war.
The situation in Korea, which had altered so much in the last three weeks, was one of such increasing and intense gravity that there was one question certainly in our minds, and I think it must have been in the minds of most hon. Members of this House; namely, what was now to be the action of the United Nations, and, in particular, the action of the United States of America and ourselves in the face of this increasing pressure? A new war could obviously have been started by the invasion of Korea by Chinese forces. The question was whether we would give way to the aggressors and seek a solution by way of appeasement.
1380 I welcome the firm declaration by both Governments that there could be no thought of appeasement or rewarding the aggressor, whether in the Far East or elsewhere. Had it been otherwise, then we would have had to acknowledge that the United Nations organisation had completely failed, and that it was no more effective than the League of Nations, which had already broken down. The United Nations organisation has not hitherto been very successful. It has had a stormy and tempestuous passage during these last five years, but if it had had to acknowledge that it cannot stand up to aggression, then, indeed, it would have become a complete wreck.
That at once brings us to the next question. Justice must be done, and, if I may suggest another addition to the suggestion put forward by the right hon. Member for Woodford with regard to appeasement, it would be that there can be no appeasement so long as injustice is done or injustice is allowed to remain. If I may put it in my own way, I think that justice must be done, that, if possible, peace must be preserved. It is quite certain that we all desire, if it is possible, to find a peaceful solution, and I am sure that that is the true desire of every hon. Member of this House, and not only of every hon. Member here, but of all the people throughout the country and throughout the Commonwealth. I will also add that it is my view that it is the desire of all ordinary people wherever they may be, even beyond the Iron Curtain.
While the main danger is Europe, the immediate problem is Korea. The Prime Minister today very rightly paid a tribute to the Indian Government. Might I add one word to that? I should like to pay a tribute to the Indian representative, Sir Benegal Rau, together with the other representatives for the persistent, gallant and optimistic efforts they have made to obtain some form of agreement which might stop further firing and further slaughter. We are glad to find that their efforts have met with the support not only of the Asiatic and Arab countries, but of this country and the United States.
It is significant that this very small though very necessary step towards a peaceful solution, has met with complete resistance by the Russians. The least they could have done was to stop fighting 1381 while the discussions were taking place. I hope that in spite of the action of Russia, China will agree to this "cease fire." If she does, then reason may prevail. If she does not, then there will be continued fighting, and nobody knows where that may end.
Let us assume for a moment that she will agree, what follows then? Surely, in that case China must be a party to any discussions that take place. Her armies are already in Korea, and by the time the discussions begin they may be not only on the 38th Parallel, but south of it. She cannot be expected to withdraw her troops from Korea unless she is a party to any agreement that is made. We all recognise the difficulties confronting not only the United States Government but the United States people in any pressure we might bring to bear upon them for a recognition of China. The sacrifices that the Americans have already made on behalf of the United Nations and on behalf of freedom, and the severe casualties they have suffered are matters we should bear in mind.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman one question? I am not quite clear about what he said. Presumably, he does not propose that Communist China should be admitted to the Security Council until her troops have been withdrawn?
§ Mr. Davies
I was just coming to that. If this cease fire is agreed to, and if then negotiations start, there will have to be some recognition of the Government responsible for sending the Chinese troops into Korea. That begins the recognition, but how far that can then be carried forward at this stage, I really do not know. It seems to me that once we have accorded that much recognition, it will be very difficult to refuse complete recognition.
I think we took the wise course, and that had that course been followed by all the other free nations, many of our difficulties to day would have been avoided. One recognises that the difficulties have been increased in these last few weeks by the invasion of Korea, the invasion of Tibet, the threat to Nepal, and the action that has been taken in Indo-China. These acts have all increased the difficulties, but, in spite of the difficulties, if I thought that without surrendering the cause of justice, and without giving away the real position 1382 of the United Nations, I could get peace, a true understanding and a better agreement by admitting China to the Security Council and the Assembly, I would be prepared to run that risk.
I cannot understand why there should be any real objection to the admission of China, even today, when Russia is already there, and when the acts of which we are complaining have all been founded in Moscow. Moscow has been behind everything that has happened in Korea, Indo-China, and elsewhere. There is not one of us who has not said that while not using her own troops, Russia is encouraging others to go to war on her behalf. If we recognise Russia as part of the Security Council and are prepared to sit down and discuss matters with her, it is difficult to understand the objection to China.
I think we are all agreed on one thing that nobody today would back up the possession of a seat by Chiang Kai-shek and his régime. What right have they to a seat? If one could only begin with these talks, then I think that the future of Korea and the very difficult question of Formosa might be dealt with in an amicable way. While making these statements, I still wish to emphasise that I recognise the difficulties and the sincerity of both the American people and the American Government, and that their desire, like our desire, is for peace throughout the world, that democracy should succeed, and that we should not give way to the aggressor.
I will now turn for a few moments to Europe. I welcome the news received last night and repeated by the Prime Minister today, that an agreement has been reached with regard to an integrated force. I assume that following the communiqué, this, whenever the final agreement is made, will lead to the appointment of a supreme commander. But I hope that the agreement will go further because that in itself will not be enough. It is all very well for us to have these broad general understandings and expressions of good will, but we have got to keep in step, and we are not in step all the time.
I am making no complaint about the speeches made by the Minister of Defence or by the Minister of Works. There is Cabinet responsibility, which is recognised, and there is a certain freedom of expression allowed in this country, and 1383 nobody knows that better than the right hon. Member for Woodford. I remember in the old days that Mr. Asquith had to stand at the Box and say that the right hon. Gentleman had given way to some poetic expressions which in no way involved Cabinet responsibility. I am only mentioning this matter for one reason. It just shows that we are not completely in step, although we may be from now on, thanks to the visit of the Prime Minister.
Then there is the question of the export of materials. America has completely stopped the export of materials to Russia and her satellites, but she is perfectly ready to part with them to us. I heard of a case the other day where 40 tons of valuable material came to one of the ports of this country and was then sent to Russia. That kind of thing will not only lead to misunderstanding but to irritation, and we cannot afford even that. That kind of thing has got to stop. I would ask whether, having gone so far and the position being so threatening, it is not possible now to appoint not only the Combined Chiefs of Staff we had during the war but a Joint Commodities Board as well, so that we should know exactly where we are. That is the only way we can carry out the joint policy that the President and the Prime Minister said they had in mind.
I agree, of course, and so does everybody else, with the premise that we all hope that world conditions will not call for the use of the atom bomb. But however much we may abhor its use, and while we are glad of this understanding that has been reached between the President and the Prime Minister, I believe all this recent talk about the bomb, its devastation and its use and non-use, has been playing straight into Russia's hands. Already the Russians are making use of it as part of their pseudo-peace propaganda. Only the other day there appeared in "Pravda" an article expressing joy that such a feeling had been roused against the use of the atom bomb amongst all people here and elsewhere in their desire for peace, that no government would now dare to sanction its use in any circumstances. That is real evidence, and the only evidence so far as I know, that hitherto the bomb had acted as a deterrent on the Russian Government. I prefer to leave the matter where it has been left by the Prime Minister, 1384 and I do not wish to press him to go any further than he has gone today.
There is one matter which I regret was omitted from the Prime Minister's speech. I want to refer to a step which I consider to be likely to lead to an understanding and an avoidance of war. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman—and all of us agree—that we do not want such commitments in the Far East as will endanger our position in Europe. But all really comes back to Moscow. If Moscow were not dominating the situation, all this fear would collapse. Therefore, there is only one thing we can do by which we may take a step towards arriving at a better understanding. That is the one suggested by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington when he spoke in the House a fortnight ago, by Lord Salisbury in another place, by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and, if I may add my small voice, by me in a suggestion I made in this House and in December, 1947, when I was a joint contributor to a letter in "The Times," asking for this very thing. This is a meeting between our Prime Minister, the Prime Minister of France, the President of the United States and Mr. Stalin.
If we could get that, we would avoid all these legalistic questions and objections which are being raised in United Nations discussions and calling one another names and things like that. We would brush all those things aside. I know the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington urged that there should be a careful agenda, and that was accepted by the Foreign Secretary. What steps are being taken to prepare that agenda? I suppose the Prime Minister was referring to that when he spoke of the document which is being drawn up in Paris by the Ambassadors. But do not let us waste too much time on detail. Russia has already made suggestions in Prague, we are all agreed that there should not be a blank refusal, and I am anxious that the leaders should be brought together as soon as possible.
There might be two conferences, one of which would relate to the Far East, and in which China would have to be a partner, and I imagine also India and Pakistan. We cannot pay too high a tribute to the part that is obviously being 1385 played in world affairs today by Mr. Nehru. The other conference should relate not only to Europe in particular but to the whole world. It is along those lines that I think we can best establish a firm basis for permanent peace, which is the desire of everyone.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Captain Hewitson (Hull, Central)
It was with some sorrow that I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) conclude his speech. During the war many people, like myself, looked upon him, and indeed we still do so today, as a great Britisher, yet today, when we are making a call to our Allies for a bond of unity similar to that which we had during the war, we had an outburst from him in concluding his speech that was not worthy of him and his glorious past.
I do not intend to make any statement on the torch that is burning in the Far East. In my opinion, our danger lies in our weakness in Europe. We have suspicion rampant in Europe. When I visit the various countries of Europe I do not meet the leaders of Governments, I meet the ordinary humble men and women working in the factories. During recent years I have been able to discuss with them their ideas about the countries behind the Iron Curtain and the policy set forth by the free democracies.
I must say, unfortunately, that this high rate of suspicion that is running through Western Europe comes from our own colleagues in the Social Democratic parties. There is suspicion in France. There is that great fear of another German rearmament and another German march. In Belgium, two weeks ago, I heard colleagues express that fear and suspicion at a conference. It is all very well to talk about rearming Germany, and it is all very well going to European conferences and saying, "Germany must be rearmed." The first essential is to get common consent within Germany to rearm.
Since the war, I have had the privilege and opportunity of visiting Germany many times and of assisting in the building up of their new trade union movement. I can say, without hesitation, that tae trade union movement in Germany today is against rearmament in Germany. On the political side, which I do not think is quite as honest as the trade union 1386 side—I have not been brought up as a politician but as a trade union leader—
§ Captain Hewitson
Quite. On the political side we had the spectacle of politicians playing at politics. I remember visiting Dr. Schumacher's home just before his election. He was putting forward the basis of his policy for the forthcoming election, and he was wavering very much on the question of German rearmament. He was wavering because he did not know the policy of Dr. Adenauer and what line he was going to take during the campaign. One has a grave suspicion that in Germany there has been a lot of playing at politics and not so much sincerity on the political side with respect to rearmament. It is essential that Germany should be rearmed. That is my personal opinion.
§ Captain Hewitson
No. We have to get her consent. But if we go into Germany on a recruiting campaign when the trade unions and some of the political parties in Germany are against rearmament, we shall get the Nazi class into the army and we shall form units of danger which could be fatal to democracy in the future. Who are more capable than our great trade union movement in this country to make the approach to the trade union movement in Germany and point out to them the need for establishing safety across Western Europe? As for the Social Democrats, who are more suitable than my own party to call a conference with the Social Democrats in Germany and point out the need for a great build-up to maintain our freedom across Western Europe?
These things will have to be done; otherwise there will be danger from the rising general staff in Germany who will take every opportunity to re-establish themselves. Recently at Rüdesheim the German youth were marching again, and it made one feel cold inside, because that youth is awaiting direction. If the German Junkers come back to power they will take that youth and build it for themselves, in order to secure, if possible, the re-birth of that Nazism which we hope is now dead in Europe.
1387 Those are problems we must face seriously. All the bickerings in this House and outside, and all the cross arguments at international conferences, will not solve that problem in Germany. It must be solved by a sensible approach and by appealing to reason based upon common sense. We must approach the problem in that way and allay the fears rampant in France and Belgium by bringing them into consultation and getting common agreement. But there are dangers of repercussions within our own frontiers. We talk in this House of unity. We have done so today and in a debate at the beginning of the week; we had two Divisions in that debate to show our unity.
There has also been an appeal for unity and more production outside this House. But the appeal will have to be made during the next year. As a trade union leader, I realise that the responsibility that we shall be placing upon the shoulders of the people in the country will have to be handled very carefully; otherwise we may find ourselves in a series of industrial upheavals which would be fatal. I ask hon. Members to visualise the picture confronting us at the beginning of the next year. The cost of living is rising; we are going to ask men and women in industry to agree to further restrictions; we are told that raw materials are going to be canalised and transferred from luxury industries to war potential industries. That will create pockets of unemployment, and that unemployment will have to be absorbed by war production industry.
In other words, we are going to cause some upheaval in the homes of our people. In addition to that, it may be urgently necessary to bring back into operation orders such as the Essential Work Order, to ring-fence jobs and keep men in essential jobs where they are needed—such as the mining, engineering, agricultural and similar industries. It may also be necessary—indeed, it is being discussed at the moment—to extend working hours in order to increase war production.
These problems will be facing us at the beginning of next year, and demonstrations of disunity in this House will not help the men and women who are attempting to secure that increased pro- 1388 duction. Also during the next year, when the first block releases are due under our National Service scheme, we may be asking for some extension of that service. That, again, will cause heartburning and some feeling in the country. If ever there was need for a demonstration of unity in this House, it is now. We should stop a lot of the shadow-boxing that goes on day by day in this Chamber.
We should tell the people—and when I say the people I mean our whole population—that we are giving in this House a demonstration of working for the well being of the nation as a whole. I would even go so far as to make this suggestion. We are rising to-morrow for a month, and it would be much better psychologically in the country if we were only to go away for a fortnight. We are going to ask people to work overtime; we are asking them to work harder and produce more, and yet we ourselves are not setting a shining example. These are all small things which may have no apparent meaning—
§ Mr. Paton (Norwich, North)
When my hon. and gallant Friend says that, does he mean that when he goes away, he does nothing at all?
§ Captain Hewitson
We are going away tomorrow on a four weeks' holiday, and I suggest that psychologically it will have a bad effect in the country. I suggest that my hon. Friend consults his constituents about it. We should show an example in this House.
§ Captain Hewitson
I would also appeal to hon. Members opposite to make some attempt to restrain themselves from making some of the silly statements which they utter in the country during the weekends. Members of the Opposition are fond of reading the speeches of some of my right hon. Friends and trying to make political capital out of them at public meetings. I suggest that those statements should be restrained in these times. If some restraint were not shown in industrial 1389 negotiations, we should be for ever having strikes, and if the right hon. Member for Woodford were an employer sitting on one side of the table, and adopted the methods which he adopted in the House this afternoon, he would have a strike on his hands every fortnight.
Those are the problems which we face in the country during the next year, and I repeat that the example should be given from this House; we should give the example of unity to the country.
§ Captain Hewitson
I must ask my hon. Friend not to put into my mouth words which I do not use. I am saying that we should give a demonstration of unity to the country which would be an example, psychologically, to help the people who will have to do this great work of increasing our production next year.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Norwich, South)
There were passages in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Hull, Central (Captain Hewitson), with which I think probably all on both sides of the House would agree. He spoke of the very great seriousness of the position in which we find ourselves. As regards the appeal for unity, I hope that the House will be unanimously with me when I say, by all means let us express unity where we are unanimous, but do not let us pretend unity in those cases where we are not.
I never remember a moment when I believed my country to stand in greater danger than it does today. That is the background against which this debate is being held. I believe that the hope of the survival of the civilisation in which the vast majority of us believe depends on our getting rid, now and forever, of the attitude of "Let's pretend." I think the time has long passed—indeed, I thought this from the beginning; I never regarded it as a wise attitude—when we should have any patience with the attitude of, "Let's pretend that we do not know what the Communists are after."
For some extraordinary reason those of us who for years have continually written and spoken on the nature of Communist aggression, using long ago some of the language used in documents of the T.U.C. 1390 much more recently, are often denounced as war-mongers. But the people who tell the truth about Communist aggression are not the war-mongers. Rather it is those who say, "Peace, peace; when there is no peace," I say that the pretence, sometimes a lazy pretence and sometimes a wicked pretence, that we do not know what the Communists are after has already immeasurably helped them to enslave half Europe and to cause untold misery in Asia. If that attitude is continued any longer it will inevitably result in the destruction of freedom everywhere, and nobody but a fool will think that this country can contract out.
There is no excuse for this pretended ignorance. As I have often reminded the House, we know precisely what the Communists are after from two independent sources, each of which gives us the same result. First of all, we know what they are after because we can read, and we ought to read, the sacred books of their dogmatic secular religion. The writings of Marx, Lenin and Stalin are available and should be read—and, as I am reminded by one of my hon. Friends, the writings of Molotov. But one work would be sufficient. As lately as 1947 Stalin has published in English, in Moscow, his book on "Problems of Leninism," and I have said before, and I warn the House again, that it is as dangerous to suppose that Stalin does not mean what he has written as it was to make that mistake about Hitler.
§ Mr. Paton rose—
§ Mr. Strauss
I cannot give way. There are so many hon. Members who want to speak that I do not think it would be fair if I yielded too much, and I do not think I have said anything very provocative so far, although I do not mind if I have. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about unity?"] I am not in the least seeking unity with the Communists. I know I shall not get it. I saw the Communist demonstration against my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and that was a sufficiently sickening sight to prevent my having the slightest desire for unity with the Communists.
I could prove by quotations from speeches made on the Steel Bill precisely the importance of the attitude of hon. Members opposite to the Communists' desires. I could prove by quotations precisely the importance the Communists 1391 attached to forcing that Bill through the House and to bringing it into operation at a time when steel is so vital for rearmament. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), recently, and I myself in a speech on 23rd March last year, have given several quotations from Stalin's work proving the main propositions; how the Communists were working, and according to their doctrine inevitably working, for world conquest, with Russia as the centre and basis of the revolution. I shall not weary the House by further quotations from that book, which I commend to their attention, but I would give one quotation from a letter from Lenin which I think expresses in a single sentence the difference between the attitude for which I hope the vast majority of us stand and the attitude of the Communists. This is the sentence of Lenin, and it is from a letter to Gorki:It would not matter a jot if three-quarters of the human race perished; the important thing was that the remaining quarter should he Communists.That gives some indication of the nature of the menace by which we are threatened.
But, of course, even if the Communists had never written a single word, we should still know what they were after simply by observing what they have been doing for years in every country in the world. We have then only to apply the commonsense and admirable doctrine of the English common law, that men are presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions. By applying that to what the Communists have been doing, which we can see before our eyes, we should know the nature of their intentions.
Most hon. Members who have taken an interest in these matters, as all of us should, are familiar with the common Communist technique by which country after country has been enslaved—the promise of free elections, then a short Coalition Government, followed by a Communist coup. I thought that when Czechoslovakia was finally enslaved, in March, 1948, those facts became clear even to hon. Members opposite, because the National Council of Labour published quite a formidable document which said that those who sought to condone that crime showed themselves false to all the principles of the party opposite and so forth. I am sorry to say that I have 1392 heard from hon. Members opposite, and seen in their speeches in the country, several attempts to condone that crime.
That brings me to the cold war.
§ Mr. Manuel (Central Ayshire) rose—
§ Mr. Strauss
I did not catch the hon. Member's contribution, but I hope very much that if he desires to make one he will get the opportunity.
I now come to the cold war. I repeat three facts about the cold war. They are the same that I have been urging for years, and I believe that every one of them is true and important, and that each of the three is much too frequently forgotten. The first fact is that it is war—definitely war. I could quote from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, if anyone wanted support for that proposition. The second proposition is this, that, as those who are being murdered in Malaya and elsewhere know, it is not a cold war. And the third proposition is this, that hitherto we have been steadily losing it. Now, the reason why we have been steadily losing it is that, on the whole, we have not been fighting it. The most certain of all methods of getting a third world-wide war is not to fight the cold war.
I have noticed a book—I have not yet read it but I believe that it contains many admirable things, and that it is a very able work in many ways—a book recently published by Chatham House, called "Defence in the Cold War." The worst thing about that book, to my mind, is the title. The title "Defence in the Cold War" shows a failure, it seems to me, to indicate the nature of the problem. As long as we are considering merely defence in the cold war I do not believe we shall win it, or avoid the war that everybody wishes to avoid.
§ Mr. Strauss
On the atom bomb, I thought, there was an admirable passage in the Prime Minister's speech. I do not propose to say a single thing about the atom bomb. I take the view that all this talk about the atom bomb is started by Russia for the purpose of benefiting Russia. Everybody knows that the petition that was presented to this House a day or two ago was in response to a 1393 Communist agitation which got the petition, at last, condemned even by the Labour Party, although after a member of their executive had already signed it.
§ Mr. Strauss
In spite of all temptations to be frivolous I propose to continue with what, I think, most members know is a serious speech. Now, I say that the attitude sometimes summed up in the words "containing Communism," as though that were the ideal, shows a complete misapprehension of the problem before us. I believe that it is as foolish, as it is immoral, to assume that there is any chance whatever of Russia and China—and let us take Russia first—standing on their present line. They will certainly either advance or retreat. I believe we are being unrealistic as well as immoral when we suggest that every advance hitherto made by Communism is permanent.
Let me come to Korea. When the United Nations first took action in Korea they did so, I thought, with the support of nearly the whole House. Certainly the leaders of all parties concurred in that action. But, apparently, some people concurred in that action because they believed the aggressor to be a small Power. Now that they believe the aggressor to be a great Power, many of them advance very far towards what they used to denounce as the policy of appeasing the aggressor.
I agree, I think, with everybody, even with those who differ from me on many of these propositions, in thinking that the immediate problems in Korea and the Far East are extremely difficult; but I suggest to the House that there are two problems which we ought to keep completely separate. The first problem is the nature of the Chinese action. Are they making war in close association with Russia against the United Nations, and are they conducting undisguised aggression? That is the first question. The second question is, If they are, what ought we to do about it? Do not let us suppose that the difficulty of answering the second question is any reason at all for not being honest with ourselves about the first.
1394 On the first question, I do not wish to quarrel with what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said some time ago about questions regarding Chinese action, on which he was endeavouring to keep an open mind. He may have been quite right; and I am sure that he was being honest in that endeavour. He may give us his further thoughts on that subject, perhaps, when he speaks tonight. But my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) gave formidable reasons for believing that the Chinese aggression was precisely what it appeared to be.
There are three facts, I suggest, that it is very difficult to explain away, and I do not think we are being quite honest with ourselves if we try to explain them away. The first is the numbers with which they have invaded Korea, and the signs of long preparation. Nobody who heard the statement given in this House by the Minister of Defence can, I think, doubt the formidable nature of their preparations. But what is more remarkable than that in indicating their mind, I think, is the shameless invasion of Tibet. How is that to be explained away? The Government, to give them credit, have not attempted to explain it away. I wish those who do attempt to explain away Chinese aggression would pay some regard to the evidence of Tibet. Thirdly, there is the point which the Prime Minister and, I think, the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) the Leader of the Liberals, mentioned—the close accord—the very close accord indeed—between Russia and China in the United Nations—so close that they both use the same fantastic language.
So much for the fact of Chinese aggression. What action should we take about it? Here I agree with what has been said from the Government Front Bench, and has been said for a long time with great force by the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that we must never forget that the Far East and Korea are not the only theatres. They are not even the theatres in which the mortal blow can be most readily struck. There is Western Europe, which has been mentioned by so many; and I believe, although I will not develop the point, that there is a third, which has scarcely been mentioned at all, which is, in my view, of great importance—the Middle East.
1395 It is no dishonour for the United Nations to recognise the fact that their powers are limited. How best to use the forces of civilisation against the forces of aggression is above all a military problem; it is not primarily an economic, political or moral problem. If we are being attacked by the aggressive forces of Communism throughout the world, as I believe can be demonstrated, we require the coolest possible heads to consider how that menace shall be met. I agree with what was said by the Leader of the Opposition on what a tremendous setback it would be if the United Nations were defeated in Korea. But he made it clear today, as he has done before, that that is not the only sphere.
What is our first duty here? I am glad to say that at all events we on these Benches find ourselves in agreement with the Prime Minister on one point, whatever some of the back benchers opposite may think. We believe it to be absolutely vital to maintain our unity with the United States. I agree, however, with the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) that, of course, no two great peoples can hope to think alike on everything; and I was glad that the communiqué that came at the end of this meeting in Washington very frankly confessed that on some matters there was not agreement.
I dare say that I shall not carry with me everybody, even on this side of the House, when I say that I have never been a critic of His Majesty's Government for the fact that they recognised Communist China. I have never regarded recognition as being primarily a matter of approving what a Government is doing. I have always thought that the important consideration was what power have they got, are they the real power in the country concerned? Therefore, I do not criticise the Government for having recognised Communist China. I did regret, however, as did many people, that they did not, or perhaps could not, secure more agreement among our friends so that more of us could have acted in unison.
I also agree with His Majesty's Government on what I believe to be the legal consequences under the Charter of the recognition of the Communist Government of China. I agree with what was 1396 said the other day by the Under-Secretary of State that the membership of the original Members of the United Nations did not in the least depend upon their behaviour. Therefore, I agree with the view taken on legal grounds by His Majesty's Government that China is, under the Charter, a Member of the United Nations. The question accordingly is which should be the Government that represents it?
Having said so much on that point, I am sure that hon. Members in all quarters see the force of the point put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington about the great difficulty in taking a vote on this subject at the very moment when the Government in question is engaged in defeating the purposes of the United Nations Charter itself. That is a genuine difficulty, and I can understand the perfectly honest difference of opinion between ourselves and America. But it is a subordinate difference compared with the overriding need that we should act unitedly. I welcome the statement in the communiqué of the Washington talks frankly admitting the disagreement.
We should all realise one great defect in the Charter. The natural thing to do in the case of China would have been to say, "Yes, you are a member, but because you are deliberately breaking the provisions of the Charter you ought to be expelled under Article 6, which provides for expulsion." But unfortunately, by the curious provisions of the Charter, a Power like China can be expelled only with its own consent, because to operate the provision for expulsion under Article 6 requires a two-thirds majority in the Assembly and the assent of all the great Powers in the Security Council—comically so-called. Having said that, I do not consider that it follows in the least that any particular action must be taken now in the case of Formosa, or indeed that the Chinese Communists necessarily have a claim to Formosa.
The second lesson we have to learn, apart from unity with America, concerns what I consider to be the incredible folly of strengthening Russia. I would only mention again one matter long since past because it is still defended by the Government on grounds that will not hold water. Let us consider the folly of the sale of jet engines in 1946. When we 1397 brought forward that example, the Minister of Defence said that that was in the honeymoon period of Anglo-Russian relations. But it was not, because the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his speech of 15th September, 1948, made it abundantly clear that he had known all along what the Russians were after, stirring up civil war in one country after another as an instrument of policy. He added, quite truly, that it was as old as Marxist-Leninism itself. Yet what did he do? Stirring up civil war in that way is a direct breach of an express term of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance; yet knowing of the breach, instead of complaining of it, the right hon. Gentleman offered to extend the life of the Treaty. That is not the way to secure serious attention from the Kremlin.
We are told, and indeed there is support for it in all quarters, that there is, in all probability, to be a meeting of the heads of the great Powers, including Russia. I believe it is extremely important that hon. and right hon. Members should be clear about what they hope to achieve by such a meeting. I believe that it is not only necessary to agree on the agenda but to have quite a clear idea on what we hope to get from it, what would be a tolerable result. It is absolutely useless to get a further agreement in words only from a Power that is breaking all the agreements that we have with it.
Russia is at present breaking the express provisions of the Charter of the United Nations to which she is a party, and the express provision of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance to which I have already alluded. I say, therefore, that no mere new agreement in words is of the slightest value. That does not mean that the meeting should not take place. It does mean that on that occasion we should require to be satisfied not by words only but by deeds.
I wish to quote a passage from a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition outside this House, and which is for that reason not on the records of the House. Speaking on 9th October, 1948, he said, in a great speech which I had the privilege of hearing:It is not only by verbal or written agreements that they—1398 the Russians—must reassure the world but by actions which speak louder than words. Let them release their grip upon the satellite States of Europe. Let them retire to their own country which is one-sixth of the land surface of the globe. Let them liberate by their departure the eleven ancient capitals of Eastern Europe which they now hold in their clutches … Let them set free the million or more German and Japanese prisoners they now hold as slaves. Let them cease to oppress, torment and exploit the immense part of Germany and Austria which is now in their hands …Then after a passage dealing with the blockade of Berlin at that time:Above all, let them throw open their vast regions on equal terms to the ordinary travel and traffic of mankind. Let them give others the chance to breathe freely, and let them breathe freely themselves. No one wants to take anything they have got and what belongs to them away from them. After all, we are asking them to do no more than what the other victorious States have done of their own free will.I commend those words and those principles to the House. I know that hon. Members may say, "If that is how you put your claim, will you get the conference?" I would get the conference if I could, but I would rather not get the conference than that anyone should be under an illusion that these were not our principles.
A couple of years ago, I had the honour to address a society on this subject of Communism. I concluded then, as I wish to conclude tonight. If we do our duty, our course will be neither easy nor safe. The path of honour seldom is. In the life of nations and of Empires, as in the lives of men, he who would save his life shall lose it.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
I listened with the greatest possible care to the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss), and I must confess that when he had finished I was not a great deal wiser on whether he was desirous of going to war or preserving peace. I suggest that that is the big issue which we have to face tonight. I agreed with him thoroughly when he stated that what ought to occupy our attention was the undoubted gravity of the world situation. I am sure that there, at least, we have no difference of thought or opinion. But it seemed to me that after making that plea he went on to confuse the situation and to confuse it very deeply indeed. He seemed to me to mix it up with difficulties which, however interesting they 1399 may be as a matter of argument, are not material to the position in which we are now placed.
He seemed to infer that there was a need to have unity with the Communists. I suggest that position does not arise tonight. The position which we have to face, and the one which the hon. and learned Gentleman did not face, was that we have to contrive a way of living in a world in which there are a great many Communists; and Communists who, so far as the backward nations are concerned, are making promises and in some cases fulfilling those promises of things which we in our day of power in the Far East might have seen accomplished.
When the Communist Powers promise to the backward peoples the abolition of the moneylender and the landlord, who are their two chief enemies, is it surprising that those nations succumb to those promises? When the Communist Powers promise that they will return to the peasants the land of which they have been dispossessed, is it surprising that once again those people succumb to that particular type of promise? Those are the methods of propaganda and in many cases the actual facts of accomplishment which have paved the way to the success of Communist propaganda in the Far East. They are issues which, I submit with all respect, the hon. and learned Gentleman did not face tonight.
He suggested that we had three duties. That we wanted to preserve unity with the United States of America. I do not suppose that there is anyone in any part of the House who will quarrel with that; but surely we want to extend that far beyond the scope of the United States. Our primary purpose ought to be to extend the power and influence of the United Nations organisation, and not merely to maintain, as he seemed to suggest, unity with the United States. Then he spoke of the folly of strengthening Russia, and went back once again to the sale of jet planes. He has had that matter adequately answered time and again in this House, and he has to bear in mind that that was a two-way traffic—that whatever was sent to Russia as a matter of trade, would return to this country in the form of necessary foodstuffs—
§ Mr. H. Strauss rose—1400
§ Mr. Rankin
I am sorry that I cannot give way, for I want to be as brief as possible. The hon. and learned Member referred to a matter of which I wholeheartedly approve and about which I shall say a word later—the need for a meeting of the heads of States. He said "How can we meet with a Power that breaks its agreements. What we want, first of all, is proof in the form of deeds and not words." He went on to point out that they ought to release their grip on the satellite countries. If we are going to achieve, what I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman is seeking to achieve—the spirit of peace within the world—then there is no use saying to any one Power, "You are the Power that ought to withdraw from particular parts of the world," because we ourselves can be met with a ready retort so far as that is concerned. We only need to recollect how often we have prided ourselves on the vastness of our own Empire to realise that we, too, could be asked to depart from those parts of the world in which we may have no particular claim to reside.
I wish to put forward certain suggestions which could be helpful in creating that peaceful atmosphere in world affairs that we want to see. We can feel some satisfaction, from the words of the Prime Minister, that the position in the Far East seems to be easing to some extent. If we wanted to be a little vicious, we might say that the MacArthur myth has now been finally exploded. But I hope that this softening of the position in the Far East will not mean a hardening in Europe. We know, from what has been said, that there is a determination to concentrate on the European front. That means intensifying the situation in Europe. It means that we are prepared to cut our losses in the Far East so that we may be able to build up in the West.
One suggestion made in this connection is that Germany should be rearmed. If that becomes a definite part of our policy, we are taking a step of the most grave and deadly nature. We are bringing Korea into Europe. Is it to be imagined for one minute that Russia will do nothing while Germany is being rearmed? If our object is to raise 20 divisions in Germany, will Russia merely wait until those divisions are ready? It seems to me that if we go ahead with that part of our programme, Russia will strike in Europe long before it is completed.
1401 The position in Europe—and I have seen something of it—is that there is not at this moment a nation that can withstand Russia for a single week—either Belgium, Denmark, Holland or France. We are doing our best to build up the fighting spirit of France, but I do not believe it is possible. I believe that France is finished with war. Because of that, we are looking to the Pyrenees as a barrier against Russia and reviving Franco Spain. That is why America is seeking to keep Spain on her feet. If it were not for the 100 million dollars recently poured into Spain, Franco would probably now be down and out. This is the position which can eventuate if this policy of rearming Germany is pursued. China gave us full warning of that in Korea. She gave full warning of what would happen if we went too near the Manchurian border. That warning was ignored, and we are now paying the price. Russia is giving the same warning now, and if we ignore that warning, we shall do so at our own peril.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. and gallant Member should try to apply his intelligence and not show his lack of it. I am trying to face the situation that can be created in Europe in the near future.
The result of Russia's striking power may be a Europe completely under Russian domination. Immediately this situation is reached, we have but one effective reply, the atom bomb. That means European devastation, and it also means that Britain will be equally devastated. I say that because we are proceeding on the assumption that Russia has no atom bombs, which I do not believe is justified. If we accept the statements that appeared in the Press last weekend, Russia has now a stockpile of 60 atom bombs. I do not profess to know how quickly this number is being increased. It means that the atom bomb is not in the hands of one side.
The position is one of the utmost gravity, and therefore I say that the time has come now—not next week, or next year, but now—for the Prime Minister, having met President Truman, to seek in some way or another, to meet not only 1402 Stalin, but Mao Tse-tung. I include China because, if we seek to isolate China, we shall make her more suspicious and more difficult to deal with. [Laugher.] It is no use hon. Members laughing. If China has the suspicion that she is being isolated, we shall not get the peace we hope to secure in the Far East.
To achieve world peace there are three things about which we must agree. Without exaggeration the world today is on the road to destruction. Armaments are piling up. Russia has a budget this year of £7,000 million, America over £4,000 million and this country nearly £1,000 million, in each case all for defence. These budgets are piling up and with them armaments. History has taught us in no uncertain fashion that the more we arm, the greater the danger and the more inevitable war becomes.
We must reverse that process. We must try to get these budgets and armaments down. The first point on which there ought to be discussion is the reversal of that procedure and the limitation instead of a continual building-up of armed forces I have suggested a limitation in armaments. I know there are some who suggest complete disarmament. I am not going that length, because I believe that the world is not ripe for it. [Laughter.] I must confess that I do not see that that is a subject for laughter. Disarmament is a real policy.
§ Mr. Rankin
Yes, a real policy. At the present moment I am suggesting limitation of armaments because it would command the greatest support among the nations of the world. That is one of the first points, and I am not suggesting whether it should be a percentage or not. I am putting it forward simply as a point, which I think ought to be discussed, and if we can get agreement, then there ought to flow from that a greater increase in trade among the nations, because materials which are needed at present for armaments would be released for trade.
My third point is the de-militarisation of strategic areas like Korea, Germany, Greece and Egypt. By a policy of limitation and a greater freeing of trade, we might secure agreement about the strategic importance of those places and 1403 of others, and so reduce their military significance. I know a great deal of stress has been laid by many of us on economic and political considerations. I do not deny their significance, but I am sure we recognise the importance of the moral aspect of the problem facing us.
I have seen something of Europe. When I saw the Ruhr, Berlin and Warsaw, I thought that what those areas needed was not only economic help and political rearrangement but a little more mercy in our own thought and action. The world wants peace. It needs pity too. There may be a good deal in our concrete arrangements which are open to the criticisms made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Norwich, South, but do not let us forget the abstract things. As we ask for mercy, pity, peace, let us give them, too.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Carlton)
I think the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) who has just addressed the House, and who now seems busy addressing someone else, is a symptom, and I hope that it may not be unreasonable to look at him a little in that light. He appeals for unity. We have had appeals for unity before; but there is one form of unity which I think clearly neither our country nor Parliamentary Government can survive much more of, and like my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I think a preposition is a very good word to end a sentence with. That is the kind of unity which enables any Government of the Left, or any party of the Left which get 48 per cent. of the votes of a country, to govern that country for all internal purposes except, of course, suppression of crime, without being able to insist on the support of its own followers, without being able to rely on the support of their own followers for international affairs, but always feeling safe enough when it comes to international matters because it relies upon support from those who ought to be their opponents and the alternative to them. That is a sort of silly, woolly-headed form of Fascism, that there is to be one party which is to have the fun of Government but not the responsibility of facing defence.
Some of these speeches, and a great deal of the cheering we have had from the 1404 other side for speakers on both sides of the House, and particularly the last speech to which we have listened, are extremely symptomatic of that sort of feeling. Does the hon. Member for Tradeston agree with the Prime Minister and with the Leader of the Opposition? The Prime Minister told us that action in Korea has been in support of the United Nations action in resisting aggression. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition spoke of Soviet-inspired aggression across the 38th Parallel. That is what we were asked to be united in resisting. Is that what the party opposite wishes to be united with us in resisting, because the whole tendency of the speech of the hon. Member for Tradeston was to deny that that is the situation? To deny that that is the situation and then to go on to do what is the worst of all things in considering international affairs, where some kind of war is already in existence and a worse kind of war is clearly threatening, by arguing that in any case we and any possible allies of ours are impotent—[Interruption.] He told us that it would be disastrous if Germany rearmed, and he also told us that France was never going to fight again.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
It will be within the recollection of the House that he said that the fighting age of France was over. He certainly told us that. I do not know what he meant to say, but I heard what he said quite clearly. He told us not to console ourselves with what has been held out to us so often as a consolation, the notion that our side is much superior if it comes to atomic warfare. He left us quite hopeless and defenceless. I thought that what we were supposed to be going to be united about was to stand up to aggression? I can understand the argument that if we do stand up to aggression, it will probably be the end of all of us. We ought to face the possibility of that. We ought not to assume that Providence will see that that is not so; but at any rate when we are told to stand up to aggression, we ought not at the same time to be told that we have nothing whatever to stand up to aggression with. For myself, I believe it not to be true.
1405 I want to return a little to the questions about China. I heard no doubts or denials when I suggested just now that what the United Nations are resisting in Asia is an aggression by China. I take it, therefore, that that is agreed and that that applies to Korea, and that it applies to Tibet, which, rather curiously, was not mentioned until quite late in today's debate. I want to say a word about the admission of China to the Security Council. I do not think that I can offer authoritative advice on this matter; but it seems to me that it is much more complicated than has yet been admitted, and, with respect, I do not think that the legal arguments of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss), even if they are entirely right, as for all I know they are, necessarily conclude the question. It is not people with prejudices like mine who have taught us all now to regard international relations as not what they used to be in the old simple days, relations between national states, but as relations between ideological entities. I did not want the world to get like that. I do not believe that the world has even now got so much like that as people often pretend. But right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite did want the world to get like that. They did proudly cast aside nationalist loyalties and so on.
I do not know how many of them pore over, in the stilly watches of the night, those nasty little yellow books which gave them their greatness. If any of them do they may remember that the silliest, and, oddly enough, therefore the least successful—that always seemed to me very odd—of these little yellow books was one with a somewhat imbecile title like "Ten Thousand Million Allies"; something of that sort, hon. Members may remember. The argument was that all foreigners were Leftish and that if therefore we in time of war went Left fast enough, they would all come on our side, and they would all then arise and kick and squeal and they would kick the Germans out of Europe. That was the argument of the book.
The relevance of it to the immediate situation is this, that if we are going to say that recognition is merely and purely a matter of who is actually in charge of a particular territory, then it is going to be difficult for us, in a political climate of opinion such as hon. Gentlemen opposite have created by books like that, and 1406 in a diplomatic system where the old concert of Europe has been replaced by the United Nations organisation, where that is so there is bound to be some kind of test of admissibility to be put to the governments before they are admitted. I should have thought that, quite clearly, these questions have to be faced about China. I dare say that the legal argument is right and that China must be in the United Nations; but that it must be in the Security Council seems to me to want considering on the lines which I have just indicated.
Then I want to go on from that to the bigger question. Everybody, almost, today has said "Europe is what matters most," and, of course, Europe is what matters most to us. I think it not altogether unreasonable that we should think that it is what matters most to the world. Certainly it is what matters most to us. I thought there were one or two things in the Prime Minister's speech today, and there have been in recent speeches on the matter, which are a little disquieting. We still continually get the assumption that there is something called "Asia." So far as I know Asia is a name invented by European map makers. I do not know whether there is a word for it in any Asian language. The notion that there is some Asian civilisation which has a common and homogeneous ethos, a positive and common ethos of its own, different from other people's, is a very misleading notion.
I think the second very misleading notion in approaching these problems is the commonplace of saying, "The best rampart against Communism is a high standard of living." There is really no evidence for it at all. I think that a high standard of living is a very good thing, and we may all desire it without thinking that that is the reason for wanting it. I think, further, that a rising standard of living may possibly be some slight guarantee against Communism, though I very much doubt that because, historically speaking—has the hon. Member for Tradeston gone?—
§ Mr. Rankin rose—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I always know when anybody says that "history teaches us" this or that, that a piece of unusual nonsense, something rather sillier than what has just preceded it, is about to come; and sure enough it did when the hon. 1407 Member for Tradeston told us what history had taught him. Therefore, I am a little shy of telling the House what history has taught me, but there are two or three safe generalisations, and one of them is that on the whole revolutions tend to come more often where there is a rising standard, on the whole more often where things have been intolerable and where they are just beginning to get better, but are not getting better quickly enough. I am sure that we prepare for ourselves unnecessary mistakes if we too easily assume that standards of living are the defence against Communism.
I want to pass, with these ideas at the back of my mind, to the general question of Europe. I was very glad indeed in our previous debates, when our Front Bench suggested that there ought not to be any going to a meeting with the Soviet authorities unless there were some previous agreement upon agenda. I was very glad indeed that that was accepted by a right hon. Gentleman opposite. I think it was the Foreign Secretary.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I have not got the hon. Gentleman's point. What I want to make sure of is this, that we do not in drawing up our agenda so draw it up as to exclude from consideration what our fathers and grandfathers called the constitution of Europe. The fact is that the last war and the sequelœ of the last war—the deadful little diseases which come after the great big blood-letting—produced a condition of affairs such as our ancestors never dreaded even in their dreams, one great Power, demonstrably lower in standards of conduct and civilisation than Europe in general, dominating more than half of Europe. That has happened. We all know it has happened.
Incidentally, it should remind us all not to say that the worst thing that can happen is war. It is a very foolish thing to say. Of famous last words it is almost the commonest. War is not the worst thing that can happen. History during the last 10 years has shown us that. Even those of us who have not seen war directly ought during the last 10 years to have learnt that more casualties, certainly more miseries, have been caused 1408 outside the war than inside the war. Take a numerically little thing—but it always seems to me it comes home to one's bosom sooner—the kidnapped Greek children. Nobody knows how many hundreds or thousands. How many Arabs were extruded from Palestine, pushed into holes in the mud?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The hon. Gentleman might conceivably have heard of a well down which some were literally pushed, and that perhaps warned some of the rest to go across the border. Who told them to go there indeed—who allowed the people to come in who did come in? Who now remembers when was it that the Albanians murdered how many British sailors? Who knows? Does the Prime Minister know? Would the right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up this debate be able to tell us, unless he looked it up, what was the year or how many there were?
I ask these questions for a very good reason: because it is perfectly certain that no new organisation of diplomacy, which is what U.N.O. sets out to be, can possibly survive unless by its fruits it looks worth preserving. And if the fact is that these methods of negotiation result in more such horrors—and I have only touched the fringe of them—than used to happen in the old days I believe actually far, far more such horrors, and that perhaps is not within the control of us, but what is within our control is, if it results in these horrors and nobody cares. It is difficult for the Table to know what questions can be asked. We are told "It is not a matter for His Majesty's Government. It is a matter for U.N.O. or G.A.T.T.O. or N.A.T.O. or somebody else, or it is a matter for the International Red Cross. We cannot answer that." And these things cause a deterioration of our character in both senses, both of the real qualities inside us and of our character in the sense of what people think of us. And these things are happening very fast indeed.
It seems to me quite necessary to be sure that any agenda is so drawn as not to make it possible afterwards to argue: "Oh, well, we thought you accepted the map of Europe as it now is, and we 1409 thought you had accepted the new international habits we have established during the last six years." If the result of going on with an agenda is that Russia—perhaps it is better to say the Soviets—could have that argument at their disposal afterwards, that in my judgment would be an immense loss to all of us, and would immensely diminish the hope that is left. And it is amazing how much hope is left in Europe, even on the other side of the Iron Curtain. It seems to me that as long as we are to have the Soviet starting cold wars and warm wars wherever they like, too far away from us to get to, or immensely expensive for us to get there whether Korea, Malaya, Indonesia or the day after tomorrow somewhere in Africa while that is so, while we are always fighting a distant and difficult war and at the same time we are always terrified—and a good many are obviously terrified—of what might happen much nearer at home; so long as that is so, it seems to me that all the time their money is going up and our money is going down. Not in the strict sense of money, but their assets must be going up and our assets must be going down.
I have been rather surprised that neither in the debate a week or so ago, nor in the debate today so far, has there been much in the way of insistence that we cannot balance the extreme West of Europe and the extreme east of Asia and think we can forget what happens in between. I hope that the Foreign Office and the Staffs are continually considering whether the best defence against the Soviets might not be a position from which the Soviets could be hit. There is only one place where that can be done and that is in the Black Sea region. And whether much the cheapest way for the Western Powers to make it certain that the Soviets will not invade Europe would not be to make it possible that in such case there will be a counter attack from the Eastern Mediterranean and from the Adriatic.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am sorry, I cannot give way, I have been too long. In that connection I should like to ask whoever is to wind up how much thought has been given to making dead certain that we are making at least as many conditions about 1410 any help we give, for instance to Yugoslavia, as the Americans are making, or as we are making to our old and trusted friends in Greece or Turkey, for instance, or as if not formally at least effectively, the Americans have done in helping us.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
And as hon. Gentlemen opposite are always saying should be done to Transjordan. We ought to be quite clear that, without trying to use the destitution in Yugoslavia in order to force a policy or a regime upon them—and I detest forcing policies or régimes, especially democratic ones—we ought to see what can be done by way of direction.
We are on the Adjournment, Mr. Speaker, so I suppose that what I am about to say is in order, and I am sure that it is relevant, although it may not at first seem quite so. It is this. It is quite impossible to think we shall resist or counter-attack our enemies, we with interests—as the Prime Minister rightly reminded us, and the American Government and people the other day—spread all over the world, because we had been told over and over again these seven years that we have great allies, in some respects greater than us, and it is true. And we are in some respects greater than them, and even in some respects more indispensable to them than they to us. And it is our world-wide constitution, the heritage which we have got from the fact that for 200 years the movement of men and goods about the world was much cheaper and freer and easier and safer than it had ever been before, because we made it so—from which we have inherited these positions all over the world.
I beg the House to believe that there is no hope they will have a defence policy, there is no hope they will find a financial policy, there is no hope they will find some way of using U.N.O., or even of making U.N.O. useful, which will protect that, without which these islands cannot be defended—there is no hope of those things being done on the basis of a disheartened colonialism; and colonial authority is being disheartened with extraordinary rapidity. I am amazed at the number of my pupils who come home to me from Africa, men of the utmost devotion to their flocks all the ones I know, and I do not suppose they are much better than 1411 the rest—men of an incredible and touching devotion to their flocks—they are so much more unselfish about the people they administer than you—not you, Mr. Speaker, but the rest of the House and I are about our constituents—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Those men are being discouraged to the point where, whether colonial authority can be carried on, becomes extremely doubtful. Neither are those the only key men who are being discouraged. I have here a letter from a Chinese, a man of great courage and great abilities. He was writing, not with politics in mind, though he began about the Socialist Government having done their best—[An HON. MEMBER: "Read it out"] I think he thought worse of the intellects of the hon. Gentlemen opposite than I do—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
He says:The memories of the Japanese occupation in the last war cannot be wiped out in a few years, and British prestige is something which only our generation can remember. Neither the Malays nor the Chinese, with the exception of the educated minorities, are politically conscious"—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not think that is worth a laugh. [Laughter.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite think it possible to laugh at, or even to think there is a laughable answer to, the fact that a highly educated, extremely friendly, very able Chinese in Malaya can say that only the older generation can remember British prestige—his word does not prove that it is so, but it is a strong and striking piece of evidence. However wholly right the colonial policy of the last six years may have been, that is the sort of piece of evidence which must be taken into account. Unless His Majesty's Government—this or any other—can find ways of restoring courage, both among the Englishmen who serve in Colonial territories and among those persons born and brought up in those parts, who have cherished the British connection, then there is no hope that any diplomacy or 1412 machinery can hold our world-wide position.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Pargiter (Southall)
I hope that the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his somewhat academic speech. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set the tone in a factual statement on the present position which we are debating and that to some extent that was followed by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), although the right hon. Gentleman fell away from it a little towards the end of his speech.
The right hon. Member for Woodford referred in part of his speech to being wise after the event and implied certain wisdom before the event so far as he was concerned, when he suggested that we should have fortified the "waist" or the 38th Parallel, or something like that, from which we should have sent out columns before proceeding any further. I have yet to learn that the right hon. Gentleman acquainted the House of those facts at the time the forces of General MacArthur were surging forward; and I have yet to learn that he associated himself with the views which were expressed on this side of the House that we ought to make it quite clear that we were not going to the Manchurian border. So far as I know, the right hon. Gentleman was conspicuously silent on those issues, and I can hardly imagine that he can claim to be so wise on matters concerning events in Korea.
No useful purpose is to be served by avoiding discussion on the points of disagreement with America. First of all, we might as well get the background quite clear. Following the statement made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we have at least got rid of one of the principal propaganda tales which Communists have been able to use against us, that strings were attached to Marshall Aid and that those strings are implied in British foreign policy. The Communist Party must now think of another line instead of that one.
Nevertheless, there are difficulties and it is important that we should recognise where we may go. We should recognise also the importance of the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to have a clear understanding with the American administration that Europe is 1413 still of vital importance so far as future strategy is concerned. It must be borne in mind that vast numbers of people in America will be much more concerned with the Pacific than with the Atlantic. They will have memories of Pearl Harbour, and in my view it is those memories which are dictating a good deal of the present policy of America so far as the Pacific is concerned.
We should adopt a more forceful policy towards the admission of China to the United Nations. We should make it clear, to begin with, that Chiang Kai-shek should no longer have representatives in the United Nations or on the Security Council and, following that the People's Government of China should be admitted. That would be a prerequisite towards any peaceful solution in the Far East, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will pursue this point and course when he replies to the debate.
I do not think that Formosa will be excluded from such discussions as we might be able to establish, and we should make it quite clear where we stand. We ought to be quite plain that we have not departed from the decision that Formosa should be handed back to China. When that decision was arrived at, it was not a decision to hand Formosa to Chiang Kai-shek—it was a decision that it should be returned to China. The fact that there has been a change of Government in China in no way invalidates the justice of the Chinese claim that Formosa should be returned to them. I agree that it would be highly undesirable to tell the Chinese people that they could walk into Formosa tomorrow, but a time limit could be fixed for the removal of Chiang Kai-shek and the disarming of the Nationalist troops there. If we clearly established the position in Formosa, there would be a real chance of getting co-operation with China.
As regards Europe, I do not believe that it is the intention of Russia to attack by the normal method of armed force. Her chances, she thinks, are quite good without that. Russia thinks that if the world can be kept in a sufficient state of turmoil, if there can be sufficient uncertainty, and if the nations of Europe—Western Europe, in particular—can be forced to devote, a large proportion of their economy to arms, so much will the people's standards suffer and, as a result, Communist parties will be successful.
1414 The technique of Russia has been fairly clearly established. It works not through force of arms, but through internal dissension. I still believe, in spite of what has been said by one or two hon. Members opposite, that it is in conditions of uncertainty and in conditions of depressing the people's standards, that Communism flourishes. The maintenance of a good standard of living is essential for the maintenance of any resistance to Communism in Western Europe.
Therefore, we ought to pursue the suggestion of the Four Power meeting of the Foreign Ministers with a view to discussing outstanding problems in Europe. No useful purpose is served by recrimination. An attempt should be made to make an agenda as quickly as possible to get the Foreign Secretaries of the four Powers together to settle the problems of Austria, and to follow that, if possible, with suggestions for settling the problem of German unification. I do not believe that there will be peace in Europe so long as there is a divided Germany, and it is essential that we should endeavour to come to terms with Russia upon the conditions on which Germany may be united.
§ Mr. Pargiter
Our present difficulties will continue until we can get a clearer understanding with Russia. I do not believe that any policy of containment will be sufficient to restrain Communism as an ideological force. We should get together and endeavour to obtain a mutual understanding so that peace may be preserved. The preservation of peace is of vital importance.
An hon. Member opposite suggested that a war was not the worst possible thing. I beg to differ. I think that the worst thing that can happen at any time is that nations should be plunged into war. I believe it is in conditions of war that democracy does not survive. In fact the two world wars have proved that democracy has lost as a result of war and certainly has not gained. It therefore seems to me that there is everything to be gained by the maintenance of peace. It also seems to me that there is a sign of hope at the moment inasmuch as the Chinese forces seem to be adopting some thing of the same tactics as they adopted 1415 earlier on, in their first intervention in Korea. We recollect that the Chinese forces compelled our men to retreat, and then went away. At present, after forcing a still further withdrawal, they do not appear to be following that up at the present juncture, and that might be a hopeful sign. At least it is one which ought to be pursued with all the force and power we can command in order to come to an understanding.
I believe it is vital that we should press for the admission of the People's Government of China to the United Nations Organisation and to the Security Council. I believe we should use every endeavour not to exacerbate feelings, either there or in Europe, and out of this may come a common understanding and peace may be preserved. Out of the present perhaps uncertain peace, a more certain future may be obtained.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
If one is going to make a controversial speech, it is perhaps not a bad thing to start by trying to find something on which most of us are in general agreement; but I must say that, after listening to some of the speeches we have heard from the other side of the House, I have some difficulty in finding any point on which I could be said to be in agreement with hon. Members opposite, and the last speech was not an exception.
I think that if there is anything upon which most hon. Members are agreed, it is that, in terms of world strategy, the defence of Europe is more important than the defence of the Far East and that we do not, if possible, want to get involved in a full-scale war with China at the present time. We are all agreed on that, and I think it is sound reasoning—sound reasoning as far as it goes, but the trouble is that it does not go very far. It does not face all the facts of the present situation.
First of all, the question whether the scope of the war in the Far East is to be extended or not—and I use the term "war" because it is a war; the Prime Minister called it an episode and that is rather reminiscent of the "China incident" about which we heard before the last war; but it is in fact a war—does mot depend entirely on us. After all, we did not want to fight the Chinese in the 1416 first place. We did not ask them to come into Korea, or into Tibet. They started it. They are the aggressors. But hon. Members opposite seem to forget that, and are always saying what we should do to put things right. It never occurs to them that the other side should make a move. To suggest that the United Nations provoked China by going into Korea to put a stop to aggression there, shows a complete refusal to face the facts.
In the same way, however anxious we may be to stop the war spreading, we have to remember that the Chinese, and the Russians who stand behind them, may have very different views on the subject. Even if we were to clear out of Korea altogether—and some hon. Members seem to think we should—we still might not achieve our object of limiting the conflict. Encouraged by their success, the Chinese might—in fact, they almost certainly would—turn their attentions elsewhere, to Indo-China, Malaya, Hong Kong, Burma and Siam. They are an expansionist Power; so are the Russians. What if they do that? Are we to let those countries fall one after another into Chinese or Russian hands? If that happens, it seems to me there is nothing to prevent the whole of Asia falling, India, Pakistan—the whole lot.
It is perfectly true that the defence of Europe is much more important than the defence of Asia, but can we keep the two so completely separate?The road to Paris"—Lenin once said—lies through Peking. Asia is the back door of the capitalist and imperialist Powers.It is no good barricading the front door if we leave the back door wide open. What we have to consider is; would we really stand much chance of defending Europe once the whole of Asia, with its immense resources of manpower and material, was in Communist hands?
There is another thing, quite apart from everything else, quite apart from our moral duties to uphold the principles of the United Nations—of which hon. Members opposite used to talk so much at meetings throughout the country when the organisation first started—and quite apart from the purely strategical aspect of the question; there is the psychological aspect to be considered. I have just come back from the Middle East. Everywhere I 1417 went, in Persia, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia—all countries which fringe the Iron Curtain, all countries living under constant threat of Soviet aggression—everywhere I found people watching Korea and following what was happening there from day to day. Their first reaction was one of relief that this latest act of Soviet aggression should not have been allowed to pass completely unchallenged. Now they are watching to see how it all ends.
If it ends with a setback for the United Nations and the triumph of aggression and is followed by other successful acts of aggression elsewhere, they will know what conclusion to draw. They will know what to expect when they are attacked. For them it is a test case. If they get into their heads the idea that we are not prepared to resist aggression and that we do not mean business, that U.N.O. is a "busted flush," then the whole edifice of collective security will crumble and we shall be faced with potential friends becoming enemies and capitulating to the Russians right and left. And who is to blame them?
Of course, if we can limit the war in the Far East and arrive at a valid settlement, so much the better, but there must be no appeasement—I do not mean appeasement, because one cannot have appeasement once war has started—there must be no capitulation. If we do reach an agreement it must be an agreement to protect our rights and the principles for which we are fighting. It must be an agreement which covers not only Korea but the whole of the Far East, and we must have some reason to suppose that the other side, the Chinese and the Russians, are going to keep their word. Let us hope that we shall be able to reach some such settlement.
But I think we ought to consider what we are going to do if that does not happen, if the Chinese continue to show themselves quite unreasonable and if it becomes clear that they have no wish to come to terms but that they have simply decided to push ahead. Certainly when one listens to the rantings of the much sought after Mr. Wu at Lake Success, one has very grave doubts how any settlement can be made with that people.
I have heard it said, and I have seen it written, by hon. Members opposite that we should at all costs avoid a conflict 1418 in the Far East. I wonder whether people who say that have really thought it out, and really mean what they say? Do they mean that we should, if necessary, let one country after another be overrun by the Chinese or the Russians, as Tibet is now being overrun, without stirring a finger, and that we should, if necessary, part company with the Americans on this issue? If so, the cost is going to be very high. Let us remember this. Once our enemies know that we will not fight, once they suspect that we and our allies are divided, they will take full advantage of that fact and exploit it to the utmost. That is one of the reasons why some of the speeches we have heard tonight are not really very helpful to the cause of peace.
No, quite clearly, however anxious we are to avoid the explosion of a conflict in the Far East, we have got to make a stand somewhere. I think that we should make a stand in Korea, and I am very much encouraged by what the Prime Minister said of our prospects of doing that. However that may be, somewhere we must set a limit to Soviet expansion in Asia, and that may mean that, whether we like it or not, the scope of the present conflict will be extended, if not on land, at any rate by sea and in the air. It may mean that. It may mean the extension of the war, but, on the other hand, it may not, because it seems to me that, if our attitude is sufficiently resolute and we show that we really mean business, if we show that we stand firmly beside our allies, the Chinese may think better of it.
I do not feel certain myself that either the Chinese or the Russians want a full-scale war at the present time. I do not think that, if they believe that their present policy of naked aggression, as it has been so well called, would lead inevitably to the devastation of their military bases, their ports and harbours and the centres of their industry and population, by the terrible weapons of destruction which the West possesses, they will be so keen to persist in that policy. Of course, if they think that they are up against people divided amongst themselves, who are not going to fight or who will fight with one hand tied behind their backs, I do not see what we can do about it.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Paton (Norwich)
I consider myself fortunate in being called immediately after the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Fitzroy Maclean) because, however we may differ on other matters, he and I have at least one object in common, or one interest in common, and that is the continued and sustained interest in Far Eastern matters which I share with him. I am unable, because I desire to speak as briefly as possible, to follow him in the arguments which he put forward, except for one, which has been put forward not only by him but by some other hon. Members on the Opposition benches several times during today's debate.
It was that they challenged us about the view which some of us hold, and have expressed, that we did, in fact, in Korea provoke Chinese action against us. The point has been made several times, and, earlier today, there was something like an explosion of cheers when some hon. Members on the other side challenged my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works on this point. I say, quite deliberately, that we did, in fact, and with knowledge of the very dangerous and dire consequences that might follow, provoke the Chinese into the action which they took. Nobody must assume, when I say that, that I am in any way condoning the Chinese action. They have no rights in Korea, except the ordinary rights of any Power which thinks that its interests and security are threatened. Korea has never been part of China. China has never had any control over it, and so, therefore, there is no doubt that there was no moral justification at all for the action she took.
But that should not blind us to the fact that, when that push was made to the Yalu River, it was known throughout the world, and had been discussed by publicists in every country, that the Chinese action might in fact be extremely violent and perilous. The Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chou En-Lai, has gone on record on a number of occasions in making the announcement to the whole world that, if these things were permitted to happen, the Chinese would be compelled to intervene. These are facts, and it seems to me to be the greatest folly for hon. Members of this House to try to blind themselves and the people of this country to these facts.
1420 The Chinese action in Korea was no better and no worse than the actions of any other great Power in history in similar circumstances. Why is it possible that hon. Members of this House can forget so easily the history of their own country? We have gone to war on more than one occasion to prevent hostile armies occupying the Low Countries or the Channel ports of France. Therefore, we have to realise that, after all, in this matter, there is a Chinese argument that we ought to understand, and we ought not to show ourselves too much in an attitude of self-complacency and high moral rectitude about the superiority of our own international policies.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark) rose—
§ Mr. Paton
I am sorry, but I cannot give way.
There is one thing that we are all agreed upon, I am very thankful to say, and that is the agreement that extends far beyond this House, and, I think, reaches to every part of this country and the whole of western Europe. That is the agreement that none of us wants war with China, and that all of us will do everything possible to try to avoid it. That is something that, to me, is extraordinarily heartening, and I want, therefore, to see the proposal that has been made in Washington for a "cease fire" being accepted, and a cessation of these hostilities in Korea that we are all watching with such great anxiety, in order that there might come—what must come eventually, in any case—the opportunity for opening negotiations with China with a view to trying to secure a negotiated settlement and the restoration of peace in that area.
I was extremely glad this afternoon to hear the Prime Minister say that in any contacts we might make in negotiating with the Chinese, we would be in the position of recognising them as full equals with us and the Western nations in the negotiations; that there would be no attempt whatever to try to talk to the Chinese as if they were, in some way, still in a subordinate position. I am very glad that my right hon. Friend made that statement, because it seems to me there is still far too great a, tendency by hon. Members in this House and by people outside to talk as if the Chinese were, in fact, still subordinate, and as if we 1421 were in a position of superiority, from which we could talk down to them.
That sort of attitude will not do. The Chinese are a great people; China is a great country. It is now a great Power, and we must, first of all, before we enter into any conference, if we hope that the conference will be successful, approach it in the right attitude of mind. I hope, therefore, there will be no attempt made by anybody on our side in the negotiations from the United Nations to think that they can possibly dictate to the Chinese either the conditions of the conference or the subjects that will be discussed.
Another thing the Prime Minister said was that we must all be careful in a debate of this kind not to say anything that would injure the unity that has been established between the Allies in the United Nations, and no hon. Member would deliberately say or do anything that might have that effect at this time. We are all agreed that in the dire peril in which we and the whole Western world find ourselves we must stand solidly together in defence of those things in which we believe. But I do not think that necessarily means that we in this House should be muzzled as to our utterances and should not be allowed to express criticism of some of the policies being followed by our Allies.
I do not believe that the United States is so sensitive that she is going to get into a violent state of the jitters because some hon. Member in this House gets up and expresses what he believes is a proper and critical view of some of the policies of that great country. I do not believe that for one moment. On the contrary, I believe that we have a duty to express our point of view, that we have a duty to push our point of view, and that we have a duty and a responsibility to try to get that point of view accepted by our allies if we think it is right.
I do not want to see any attempt at anything in the nature of horse-trading in this conference which I hope is going to come about; I want to see the Powers of the United Nations go into such a conference basing their case on right and justice, and not believing it necessary, knowing that something is right and just, that it should be held in the background because it might not be considered politic 1422 at this moment to put it forward. Chief among these issues, of course, are those of Formosa and of China's place on the Security Council. Many people are suggesting that we must keep all this in the background. As if we could!
Does anybody in this House still cherish the illusion that we can get China, that great Power, flushed now with military victory, to go into a conference with us for the sole purpose of arriving at a peaceful settlement in Korea and without discussing the necessity of the settlement of the Formosan issue and China's rightful place on the Security Council? Anybody who harbours that sort of illusion is not fit mentally to be a Member of this House or of any other. Of course these things are going to be raised at once; they are going, I have no doubt at all, to be part of the Chinese conditions for participating in such a conference.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to make up our minds where we stand on this issue. I said that in anything we put forward we should take our stand on right and justice, and I suggest that if we accept that test for the settlement of these problems there is no doubt at all that on both the Formosan issue and that of the admission of China as a full member to the United Nations and to a seat on the Security Council she is in every way legally and morally entitled to get the verdict.
After all, let us remember some of the facts of recent history. Until just before June of this year, when the Korean offensive began, there was no question in anybody's mind at all about the legal status of the territory of Formosa. It had been recognised and laid down at Cairo and Potsdam that this territory was Chinese territory, and must be considered part of the Chinese State. It was only when the invasion of Korea came about that there was a change of view, and let us remember why that change came about. It came because America believed it was necessary for the security of her forces engaged in the peninsula of Korea that she should neutralise Formosa by naval action in order that the movements of her troops and supplies could not be interfered with from the other side. That was the sole reason given by the United States for the unilateral action she then took, an action 1423 which was not assented to by any Power in the United Nations, but which most people recognised had some basis of justification in the security reasons advanced. But we must remember that they were purely security reasons while the Korean campaign continued.
With the cease fire and with the successful issue of a peace conference, which I hope we shall have, that particular case goes by the board, and there is no reason at all why it should not be agreed at once that Formosa is Chinese territory and why it should not be put under the control of the de facto and de jure Government of China, the Government which we ourselves have recognised. As we all know, this issue is complicated by the position of Chiang Kai-shek and by the fantastic position that has been allowed to grow up in the United Nations by which the legitimate and legal Government of China have been refused their proper place in that Assembly. It seems to me that that situation is largely the work of certain powerful influences in the United States—the China lobbying which everybody knows is notorious in the United States.
There is no doubt that operations of powerful pressure groups of that kind have led to this placing of hopes in that broken reed, Chiang Kai-shek, and his refugee army in Formosa. After all, none of us need waste any time on Chiang Kai-shek. The verdict on him and on the regime he heads, was given decisively by no less a person than General Marshall himself in his famous report which I think most of us have read. It was endorsed subsequently in a more devastating report by General Wedemeyer, so that there is no question at all as to the nature of Chiang Kai-shek himself and of the regime he heads. Nothing would be more fatuous than for anybody to try to put that Humpty-Dumpty back on the Chinese wall again. It cannot be done.
Therefore, it seems to me that when we get to the point of discussion at a conference, these matters will be beyond dispute. There can be no legal or moral justification whatever for the exclusion of Communist China from its proper place on the United Nations. I hope, therefore, that when this conference comes about—and I hope it comes about speedily, and I think everybody would agree on that— 1424 this Government, in conjunction with their Allies, will try to look at this matter—indeed, on this question I am pushing at an open door so far as our Government are concerned, but I hope they will try to get the United States and their friends and Allies in the United Nations to appreciate the necessity of taking a completely realistic view of these matters. Nobody will dispute the fact that however much we may differ on other things, in issues of this kind, on which the peace of the world and countless millions of lives depend, there will be no forgiveness for all time, if there is any failure by any party in the negotiations to exercise every possibility of a peaceful solution.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
I will come in a moment to the questions of Korea and the admission of China to the United Nations, which were discussed with customary emphasis and, if I may be allowed to say so, with customary dogmatism and assurance by the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. J. Paton). My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) this afternoon observed that no one could doubt that good had come of the Prime Minister's talks with the President, but the question was how much good. It seems to me that to arrive at the answer to that question the House must have regard to the' background against which these talks took place.
On a frank and objective analysis, I think it must be confessed that the background and prelude to these talks was a failure of policy on the part of the American and British Governments. The American policy had succeeded in making the Chinese Communists not only an enemy but, at any rate for the time being, a successful enemy. The Americans had neither recognised them nor prevented them from coming into power. The British Government were guilty of a failure in policy because they differed from the American Government just sufficiently to embarrass them, but not enough to persuade them. Therefore, to some extent, it was a case of having the worst of both worlds. At the outset of these talks the stage was badly set, either for effective resistance to the Chinese Communists or for fruitful negotiations with them.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton) rose—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I hate to refuse to give way, but there is not much time and there are many hon. Members who wish to speak. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) knows that it is not my habit to refuse to give way, but I am refusing in the interests of other hon. Members, and I hope he will have an opportunity of speaking.
It is right to measure the success of these talks by the contribution they have made to the specific and urgent problems which caused them to be held. They were not planned talks or routine talks; they were arranged at short notice because of the urgency of certain vital problems. As I see it, welcome progress has been made in general long-term matters, and in one or two specific matters; but there is an absence of definition and, indeed, a proclaimed difference of opinion on just those matters which are immediate and inescapable and which must arise in the very immediate future.
Those matters, of course, are the question of the admission of Communist China to the United Nations and the question of Formosa. As I understand it, at the talks and as a result of them, the British and American Governments substantially share the view that it will be a good thing to effect a ceasefire at the 38th Parallel, though that, of course, does place in jeopardy the proclaimed objective of the United Nations for a free and united Korea; and it may be that the fate of the Koreans on that basis of settlement may be worse than it was before the United Nations went to their rescue.
So far as I understand it, there is unanimity of view between the two Governments in seeking negotiations, but so far as the scope of the negotiations are concerned, there is of course, a substantial difference of opinion. The American aim was to confine negotiations to Korea and in the event of the Chinese not coming to a settlement with them on the basis of Korea alone, they contemplated the possibility of engaging in what I think is called a limited war by naval blockade and sanctions against the Chinese Communists, as a last resort. It is not difficult to find criticism of that policy, because although one can limit a commercial liability it is 1426 very difficult to limit liability in war, and, of course, it would be likely to give Russia an opportunity, especially if it is true that the Russians have so great a strength in submarines.
The British Government, while finding little difficulty in differing from that view, have not been able to define their own position very accurately. As I understand, the British point of view was to extend these negotiations to include also the questions of the recognition of China by the United States, her admission to the United Nations, and the future of Formosa. It is quite apparent that on the first two of these matters, whatever the British position may be, it is very difficult for the Americans to take those steps now, at a time when China has had certain military successes, as they were unwilling to take them as a matter of policy before. Indeed, it would be very difficult also, I should have thought, for the British to welcome Communist China to a seat on the United Nations when her conduct is still so out of keeping with the objects of the United Nations.
But those questions, however difficult, are still less difficult than the question of Formosa. We have not had a very accurate definition of the Government's point of view. The Prime Minister says it is a matter for talks at the United Nations; but even where one hopes to solve a question by talks at the United Nations, it is necessary to have some idea of what one is going to say when one takes part in those talks. A similar reticence has not been shown by hon. Members behind the Prime Minister. The hon. Member for Norwich, North and the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) have no doubt about the solution of the Formosa problem. It must be handed over to the Chinese Communists, in their view. I am not nearly so certain in my mind as either of those two hon. Members, because it seems to me that the question of the right attitude to the Formosa problem depends entirely on the question of what are the ultimate intentions of the Chinese Communists and how far they are committed to participation in the Kremlin plan for the domination of the world.
It seems to me unwise to take an unduly optimistic view about the intentions of the Chinese Communists. It is necessary, therefore, in spite of what the hon. Member for Norwich, North has said, to rank 1427 very high the security implications of this particular problem. If it turned out that Formosa were, as it were, traded in for verbal assurances from the Chinese Communists which hereafter proved to be bad, it would be a very sorry bargain indeed and a great betrayal of statesmanship on the part of the Government making it. The hon. Member for Norwich, North says that once there is a cease fire in Korea the strategic and security reasons for the United States being in Formosa will have gone. That is not so. He must have regard to what is happening in Indo-China and what may happen in Malaya.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
With respect, that brings us back to the main question of what are the ultimate Chinese intentions. The hon. Member shrugs his shoulders, but if their intentions are to reinforce the Kremlin's plan, they will not go to the conference to say so. Even the hon. Member is not so ingenuous as to imagine that. We have to make an appreciation of this situation for ourselves. It would be very unwise to hand over Formosa to the Chinese Communists if the effect were simply to be to uncover Indo-China and Malaya and to lay the Far East at the feet of Communism.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
How does the hon. Member propose to find out what the Chinese intentions are?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
It is very difficult to find out, especially for private citizens such as the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) and myself; but it does follow that we cannot take risks in a matter like this, and it is necessary—I know the hon. Member is a reader of the Scriptural—to walk like Agag, delicately, until one is assured of the position.
Nevertheless, it is right to say that unless the Chinese military position is weaker than it appears from the other side of the world, they will expect some consideration for their agreement to a settlement in Korea. It is no good blinding ourselves to that fact. There, again, it is very difficult for a private Member to make an appreciation of their military position. We do not know, for example, just how great a deterrent to a further conduct of war their 1428 undoubted casualties have been. We do not know in how great a difficulty they are placed by the undoubted administrative difficulties which are already coming upon them in their campaign in Korea. Those are matters on which it is very difficult for private Members to express a confident view.
But if we do negotiate with the Chinese, and if their military difficulties are not very great, or not so great that they will stop for that reason alone, what do the Government propose? I have sat here patiently all day, but I am still not clear what the Government would say to the Chinese Communists. What I would say is this: Whatever terms are proposed by them, having regard to the realities of the situation, we owe it not only to ourselves but to the future of peace and democracy in the world that the terms are not such as to create the impression in the Far East that aggression pays so long long as it is sufficiently large, ruthless, and formidable.
I want to say a few words about the position regarding the atom bomb. Here it seems to me that our policy must have regard to the balance of forces in the world today, and that balance is basically at present unfavourable to Western democracies. The Communist Powers have the advantage in mobilised and mobilisable forces. They have the advantage in accessibility to the main theatres of possible conflict; and they have the advantage of five years' steady success, diplomatic and territorial, in the cold war. As against that, the Western Powers can put a long-term economic superiority which, unfortunately, is irrelevant from the point of view of 1951; and, secondly, the atom bomb. Therefore, the only relevant circumstance of superiority at present and in the near future is the possession of the atom bomb, It is for that reason unrealistic for people to proclaim now that in no circumstances could it ever be used, because by making that proclamation they are discarding the one present point of Western superiority.
Having said that, I want to make it clear that in my view it is equally wrong to urge the use of the bomb in the Far East now in the doubtful hope of its improving a situation, which has arisen, at any rate, in part, owing to policy failures of the American and British Governments. It seems to me that one must take 1429 a middle course; that in the present circumstances the right to use the atom bomb must be reserved, but, of course, that right to be exercised only with the greatest reluctance and under compulsion of clear strategic necessity.
Who is to be the judge of that? When we consider this, it is right for the House to remember that the Americans and the British have somewhat different viewpoints about it. The Americans have borne the main brunt of the battle in Korea and have sustained the heaviest casualties. There is a view amongst the public in the United States that the use of the atom bomb might in certain circumstances be justified to save American lives and to spare the flower of their young manhood. We take a somewhat different view—not least, I suppose, when it comes down to bedrock, because whereas America would expect to be at the sending end, we would expect to be, in part at any rate, at the receiving end. Further the people of this country have, of course, a far greater experience of the effect on the civil population of air bombardment than they have in the United States of America.
Against that background we have to determine what should be the relationship between the two Allies with regard to policy in respect of the atom bomb. A good deal is said about consultation. In my view, the British have a right to consultation on the use of the atom bomb, but of course consultation could mean one of various things. There is, first of all, merely information—as it were, an indication of intention. Secondly, there is consultation, meaning the right of prior consultation with the United States having the power to disregard the advice given if they so wish; and thirdly, there is the right of prior consultation, and with it what amounts to the right of veto on the part of the country consulted.
The first of these, I think the House will agree, would be quite inadequate for this country. I think it is the second of those that the Americans have conceded by the communiqué. It is true that the communiqué uses the word "inform" only, but it is interpreted as meaning the right of consultation, though reserving to the United States the right to have the last word. I do not think that we shall move the United States from that position to the next position of giving to this 1430 country a right of veto, at any rate until they are more satisfied about the intentions of this Government.
On that I am bound to say that some hon. Members who support, or at any rate appear to support, the Government do an ill-service by some of the speeches they make. It is possible that we might get an even higher degree of consultation if hon. Members and supporters of the Government would refrain from some of the speeches and actions which excite apprehension on the other side of the Atlantic. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) must be fair. He and others are very fond of urging statesmanship on the United States. They have a duty in return to practice, as far as they are able, statesmanship on their own account.
I want to say a brief word about another aspect of the situation which has attracted a good deal of attention in this debate, and that is the question of the rearmament of Germany. As I see it, the questions there are two. First, should Germany be rearmed at all; and secondly, if so, what degree of nationalism should be permitted in her rearmament? It seems that the only argument which has been put today against the necessity of Germany being armed in her own defence was by one hon. Member opposite who suggested that we should refrain from that for fear of the Russian reaction to it; and I do not consider that to be a very valid reason.
If Germany is to be rearmed, it seems to me that it is very difficult to deny her the right to a reasonable degree of nationalism in the arrangements of her army. To do otherwise would be to treat the Germans on the basis of a sort of foreign legion or as mercenaries, which is a basis that can appeal only to the militarily adventurous few in any country. Of course, if we treat people as mercenaries we run the risk that they, in their turn, will react as mercenaries towards us.
After what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) about people who refer to history, I am a little diffident in doing so; but it seems to me that in regard to German rearmament we have to try to see the matter in a historical perspective. In saying that, may I give the House two very quick instances to show what I mean? One is from ancient history, from which it is 1431 well known that Sparta, Athens, and Thebes went on persevering in their own conflict long after, in the eye of history, it became clear that the real menace was Macedon. The other more recent and perhaps more obvious example is, that of our own relations with France. [Interruption.] I studied history side by side with the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine), but wild horses would not drag from me the quality of his performance in those days.
So far as our relations with France are concerned, we fought two major wars against her in the 17th and 18th centuries and, having defeated the French twice, after an interval we became firm allies. The point I want to make is this, however: long after the power of aggression and the intention of aggression had passed from France, the people of this country still feared the spirit of Bonapartism as being the main menace to world peace and to our national security. They continued to think so even after the Franco-Prussian War.
The question which I think we have to ask ourselves in regard to Germany is this: Have we now arrived at the same position? Dare we hope that we have arrived at the same position in regard to Germany as that which we reached then in regard to France? Dare we hope that the Germans, too, having been twice defeated, have learned from that and from other circumstances and have abandoned the intention of military aggrandisement? I do not pretend now to know the answer, but that is a question which I think we must ask ourselves in order to define our attitude to German rearmament.
It is true that if that is so, if we have arrived at that position, it has happened more quickly than in the case of France; but, then, events move very fast in this century. If the answer to that question is "Yes," it follows that there should be full co-operation with Germany in the matter of her rearmament. If the answer is "No," there must, of course, be safeguards. But even in prescribing those safeguards, we must have regard to the possibility that the fear of future German domination may give the opportunity for immediate Russian domination. I believe that the greatest threat of German domination 1432 would lie in a Communist Germany, and I believe that the withholding of confidence is the greatest sponsor of the growth of Communism in Germany.
There are no problems today which are easy problems. Clausewitz, in his classic sentence about war, said that in war everything is simple, but the simplest things are difficult. Today we are denied even that qualified easement of our position. Today everything is complex and everything is difficult. I believe that two things on the political plane could bring some relief to our present position. The first would be more liberal statesmanship behind the Iron Curtain, and the second would be more effective statesmanship amongst the Western Powers. Unfortunately, it does not look as if we can hope for the first yet awhile. We shall dispense with the second only at our peril.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
The House has followed with interest as it always does the arguments of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith). Before I turn, very briefly, to the main points of my argument I should like to deal with the question of Formosa, to which he referred. The hon. Member must see that the arguments of China about her position in Korea are exactly the same arguments as those of the United States, so far as strategy is concerned, about the position in Formosa. We are, therefore, reaching a position where we may be saying that neither Communism nor democracy is prepared to accept a defeat in Korea.
If neither democracy nor the Chinese Communist Government is prepared to accept a defeat in Korea, have we reached an impasse? I believe we shall have done so if we wipe out altogether the possibility of a completely new approach in regard to Formosa. I believe my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. J. Paton) summed up the argument about Formosa, and I do not want to develop it.
Turning next to Germany, I think Mr. Lippmann was right in an article which he wrote in New York on the 5th of this month. In an American paper he revealed what is American thought. Looking at this quietly, he told Americans that rearming Germany at the present time is something which would be looked upon by the Russians as a cause of war. 1433 Those were roughly his words. Secondly, to think of rearming Germany at the present time without defence in depth is impossible, for the Germans, looking upon the Eastern world and the Western world, know that it is their country which will be overrun. As a consequence, we are finding a very pacifist outlook inside the various German movements today. Where we do not find that, we find a most dangerous recrudescence of Nazism of the worst type. I am sorry that I cannot develop this argument, but I have not the time.
I want to deal with two or three points about the Far East and I should like, first, to take up points raised by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). With all sincerity, one must point out to the Conservative Party that each time they have been approached, in a national crisis, to give their support, they have always made demands upon the Government in power. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman and the Conservative Party that they have always imposed conditions for their support for the national effort, and we should bring home to the country the occasions upon which they have done so.
In 1914 they demanded the suppression of the Home Rule Bill. For Conservative support in 1916 they secured the removal of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who was then First Lord of the Admiralty. Today, at this critical period, they draw a red herring across national politics and say that for their support we should abandon the Steel Act, a subject which has been fought on the hustings of this country on two great occasions. We have said that we shall give effect to the Act exactly for the reason which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned—for the rearmament of Britain; because, when the steel barons were in power, they could not reach the production required in 1938 until the Government made greater efforts to urge them on.
Are we realistic about the influence of the European in Asia? The Asiatic man refuses any longer to stand on the sidelines of imperialism. For the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) to say to the House that the Government have not considered the colonial problem is untrue. The Colombo Plan was a constructive approach—[Interruption.] The hon. Member with his pompous intellect- 1434 tual snobbery objects to interruptions from this side of the House—
§ Mr. Davies
If he will sit on the frozen mountains of his intellectual snobbery and not interrupt, I shall be able to proceed more quickly, and so enable some more of his colleagues to take part in the debate. There is no longer any hope for Western European imperialism in Asia on the old lines. I would quote to the House some words in "Eastern World" in September, 1950:We have seen the retreat of the European nations under the impact of the nascent nationalisms of Asia. There has been a wholesale rejection of Western methods and Western ideals. When the West marched into South-East Asia it did so for commercial, strategic and tactical reasons. It used the area for replenishing its store of raw materials, the export of capital to those countries in the interests of the Imperial Powers, and as a means of maintaining the lines of communication between the home country and the overseas market. Western Imperialism distrusted the intellectualisation of Asia. It stood against the liberation of the Oriental mind from the rigid formalism of an anachronistic culture.That is quite true in India. One of the tragedies of India was that this House and business in this country refused to industrialise India. At the famous Delhi Conference of November, 1940, there was a refusal to allow India, despite the threat from Japan, to make internal combustion engines for fear that India would compete with the output of internal combustion engines by manufacturers in Britain, and those manufacturers in Britain, sought a monopoly of production of internal combustion engines and of that market, when we were threatened by the might of Japan in the Far East. These things are not forgotten by the people of the Far East as they desire to climb to equality with Western man.
Another point. Despite the crying out and the writing in newspapers that it is all the influence of Russia, I say it is all poppycock to say that the Asiatic revolutions and agrarian movements are caused by Russia. I am not gainsaying that U.S.S.R. Communism may make use of them, but for anybody to say that Russia could cause the Indonesian problem or the Malayan problem or the Filipino problem at the present moment is utter rubbish. It is really, indirectly, the other way round, handing on Russian propaganda, which is not helpful to the truth or to the peace of the world.
1435 Let me illustrate that. With the Colombo Plan we say we want to invest money in South-East Asia. But there is a lesson here that some of us have tried to bring out in the colonial debates. When we invest money in those backward areas we have to bring into them also consumer goods, lest in the transitional period we get inflation that in itself creates poverty and misery. We have the example par excellence in the Philippine Islands at the present moment. Hon. Members may see it from the Bell Report on the conditions in the Philippine Islands.
Thus we see that while the United States of America have poured into the islands 14 billion dollars, yet they have had 15,000 casualties, and the Hukbalahap are stronger than ever before in six of the nine provinces, and the revolutionary situation today, instead of being less than it was in 1945, is stronger and more fiery. Why is that? Because the United States of America made exactly the same mistake in backing puppets in the Philippines as it has made in backing puppets like Bao-Dai, Chiang Kai-shek and Synghman Rhee.
These are facts which we have to note, and, while we are friends of America, we may remember that friendship means frankness. One of the tragedies of the United States is that at the famous Conference at San Francisco, before the United Nations Organisation was set up, it was not Russia but the United States of America that said, "We will have bases in the Pacific, U.N.O. or no U.N.O." In these debates on the Far Eastern problems we seem to miss out our great cousins in Australia and New Zealand, and I want to know if the Government, in coping with these vital problems, are constantly in touch with Australian and New Zealand opinion about the present competition from Japan over which MacArthurism and the Americans are dominant without control. Could we not have moved to a peace treaty more quickly so far as the Pacific is concerned? I hope that our Government keep in constant touch with, and will let this House know more about, what Australia and New Zealand are thinking about these problems in the Pacific area.
Let me once again illustrate with statistics the tragedies of this area. If the 1436 Western nations and America warp the economy of Asia and South-East Asia like this, there is no hope for the Western social democratic way of life. The Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East has recently given figures telling us that the population of South-East Asia has increased 10 per cent., that rubber production has increased 43 per cent. while food production is 6 per cent. less than it was in 1938. That way lies ruin. That is why I welcome this Colombo Plan which emanated from the co-operation of the Australian and British Governments' in that area.
Time is not on the side of Western man in Asia, and if people talk loosely at the present moment of a bellicose approach to the problem of the U.S.S.R. it means that they have not thought about the loss that it would entail. The Pacific and the Far East would be cut off from us as never before were we thrown into a war with China. It is the duty of the Government, to the best of their human ability, to maintain peace with China.
Secondly, I believe that the time has come for a breathing space for statesmen. I have always been in favour of non-secret diplomacy, but if ever there was a time in the world when high-powered conferences should be away from the glare of kleig lights and the headlines for a moment, it is at this juncture in the critical history of man in his tortured search for truth. I believe that if these conferences come, they should be private or should be conferences about which communiqués would be issued after the discussions rather than places where America, Britain or Russia can come to the rostrum and use those discussions as a basis for propaganda.
Thirdly, we must get rid of the black market in words. One of the difficulties is the connotation of the word "Communism." If one takes its connotation in China, in South-East Asia, in Yugoslavia and in Moscow, one finds that it is a word meaning all sorts of different things and one about which people can quarrel, without really knowing what they are talking about. I would that we could somehow get rid of this black market in words and get a language of international diplomacy as scientific, for example, as the language of the hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Hill) in his professional work.
1437 That may be a long way off, but I believe it is highly necessary to achieve it.
I would sum up by saying that the United States of America must realise what its stock-piling is doing to Western democracies. The entire work of the O.E.E.C. may be destroyed by the very stock-piling which is now going on. Some of us have asked Questions in the House this week about the shortages of zinc and sulphur. I sincerely hope that when these talks take place our Government will press upon the United States and the other Powers concerned the necessity for as free a flow as possible of the nonferrous metals.
To understand Russia it is necessary to remember Pushkin's words. He said:If you want to understand Russia remember this: she turns her European face to Asia and her Asiatic face to Europe.Let us remember that if we fail, we cannot blame the Asiatic people for looking to the U.S.S.R. for leadership. Up to now we have failed, and it is necessary for us to put our house in order and try our utmost to lead the world to peace, international understanding and sanity.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) allowed himself to attack the Bao Dai and Syngman Rhee regimes and characterise them as puppets. It is perhaps unfortunate that the political leaders in the Far East seldom reproduce the characteristics and opinions which we usually associate, for example, with the leader of the Liberal Party. While the hon. Member is entirely within his rights in criticising those regimes, it would have been more generous as well as more statesmanlike if he had also referred to the fact that the soldiers of those regimes are fighting in the line in Indo-China and Korea side by side with our own, and their leaders are on our side and not on the other. I think that the hon. Member will also agree with me that the challenge to Western statesmanship today is to find a peaceful solution to the state of the war which exists between China and the United Nations.
So far as I have followed the debate, I think we would all agree that there are three issues on which a possible settlement could take place. One is the question of a seat on the Security Council for China. Another is the eventual solution 1438 of the question of Formosa. The third is an eventual solution of the question of Korea itself. I do not believe that we can admit China to the United Nations, as a concession given by itself, while she is carrying on aggression simultaneously in Korea, Tibet and, to the best of my knowledge, in Indo-China. Nor do I think there can be any question of handing over Formosa today under present circumstances. Quite apart from the very great moral issues at stake—and I shall have something to say about them in a few moments—Formosa, like Korea, is of immense strategic importance in relation to Japan, whose 80 or 90 million people will, one day, again play an important part in the development of the Far East.
As I see the situation, the granting of concessions to China, whether in the form of representation in the United Nations or in respect of Formosa, cannot seriously be considered except in the context of a worldwide settlement between the Communist and non-Communist world which would carry with it satisfactory guarantees that the cold war would be discontinued.
While I agree that we must always be ready to seek a settlement by negotiation, I do not believe that there is a prospect of such a settlement leading to a fruitful outcome until we are considerably stronger than is the case today. We have to be very careful that any policy of conciliation we may pursue should not be taken for weakness, that it should not awaken Chinese appetites to dominate South-East Asia. The insurrections in Malaya and Indo-China continue to increase in strength, and Chinese propaganda towards Indo-China has become increasingly menacing.
Now, just as in the last war, Indo-China is the key to the whole of South-East Asia. If it should fall to Communism, we should be witnessing the beginning of a landslide the repercussions of which might well extend to the Indian sub-continent and even to the Middle East. I believe it is the duty of the Government at this time to reaffirm that we shall come to the help of the French with all our available forces if her armies and those of the lawful government of Viet-Nam are attacked by the Chinese Communist armies, whether volunteer or otherwise.
1439 What are the intentions which inspire the Chinese Communists? Some of us still cherish hopes that they may prove not to be satellites of the Kremlin. Certainly those who, like myself, take a darker view, would be only too glad if events proved us wrong; but it would surely be the height of folly and irresponsibility to found a policy on the hope that the Chinese will not be satellites of Moscow when all the indications which we have so far received suggest the opposite? To quote a famous phrase:Why read the crystal when you can read the book?After the failure of the first Soviet attempt to subvert the Weimar Republic, Lenin wrote to Clara Zetkin—I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) has already used this quotation:The road from Moscow to Berlin, Paris and London passes through Pekin, Shanghai and Calcutta.Lenin may well have been right in thinking that the road to the conquest of Europe lay through the Far East. If he was, then we have, somehow or other, to bar that way. I do not believe it is beyond our power to do it. On the contrary, I agree that it is within our power, even with existing forces, to contain Communist China, and, if it should be necessary, to inflict damage upon her.
In advocating the building up of a situation of strength in the Far East, I shall be told no doubt that that would be to play into the hands of the Russians, that in committing troops in that part of the world we shall be denuding Europe of her strength. Let us look the facts in the face. Europe is without strength at present, and for long months to come only the atom bomb will protect her against invasion. The lesson we have to learn from the crisis in the Far East is that the breathing space which the atom bomb may still give us must be used for the raising of forces on a sufficient scale to enable us to meet the Communist power wherever it may threaten us.
There can be no question of choosing between Europe and the Far East. In the struggle for the world we have to be able to defend both. We have got the resources; we have got the manpower. Does anyone seriously believe that we 1440 have not got the will-power as well? Of course, it is going to mean sacrifices—greater sacrifices perhaps than the Government have yet envisaged. It is not for me to attempt to make any concrete proposals on the scale of effort that is required. I should have thought that it would not be prudent to do much less than we did during the last war. Sacrifices will be required, but, after all, there are almost no sacrifices which are not worth making if peace can be saved thereby.
I have heard it said, not by Ministers but by hon. Members opposite, that in this crisis we should not do more than out fair share in the common cause of the United Nations. I confess that I rather deprecate that attitude. I should have thought that in defence of the cause of freedom and of peace we would wish our country to put forth its utmost effort. To hang back at such a time would be consonant neither with prudence nor with honour. I urge the Government, therefore, not to be unduly perturbed by the many economic difficulties of rearmament, nor to make American financial support a pre-condition of going ahead with the fullest possible degree of rearmament.
I believe that if we raise the forces and show ourselves ready to make sacrifices, the United States will not let us down, and if, as the result of those sacrifices, we find ourselves faced with a critical economic situation, we shall get something like Lend-Lease coming again. The American people, like our own people, can be relied upon, as a rule, to do the right thing in a crisis even though they hesitate to commit themselves beforehand. One must not forget that British rearmament and British leadership in defence are the conditions of successful participation by the Continental Powers in the defence of Europe.
Most of us on this side of the House—and I suspect a good many on the other side as well—believe that the Labour Government missed a great opportunity after the war by not giving a more positive lead to Europe. There may never be "quiet confident morning again," but I believe that the Government have, in these last few days, been offered a second chance. Hon. Members who have followed the reactions of the Continental Press to the Prime Minister's visit to Washington, or 1441 who have been in touch with friends on the Continent, must have been struck, as I have been, by the wave of pro-British sentiment which it awakened. I am sorry that the Prime Minister did not say something about the conversation he had with the French Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister before he visited Washington.
I believe that as a result of that visit there is a great new chance today, resulting more from the growing crisis than from any efforts which the Government have made, for Britain to take in Europe the lead which we should have given in the last few months. But the success of such an attempt will, I think, depend upon one condition. I raise it with the greatest possible reluctance, and only because I believe it is a duty to say it.
I do not believe that the consolidation of Western Europe can be successfully undertaken by the present Foreign Secretary. I beg the House to believe that in saying this I am animated by no personal hostility of any kind. On the contrary, I share the great respect in which all of us hold the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that in some other office he may continue to serve his party and his country; but, rightly or wrongly, he has become identified in the minds not merely of the public on the Continent but of the political leaders of Europe with a policy hostile to the consolidation of Europe. It is for this reason, and this reason only, that I believe that a new departure in the Government's policy towards the Continent will require the appointment of a new Minister to guide it.
We have reached a turning point in our relations with the Continent. We have to make up our minds whether the Germans are to remain enemies or become allies; whether Germany is to be considered as occupied territory or friendly territory. I do not believe anyone can any longer regard the answer as being in doubt. The time has surely come to make peace with Germany, to bring her into the Atlantic Treaty and to treat her on a basis of full equality with all her neighbours. If we do this, we must also supply some compensating security to our friends in France. There can be no genuine Franco-German agreement or reconciliation without British participation. Assurances will not be enough.
What I believe is needed is the creation of a European Army, within the North 1442 Atlantic defence system, to which we shall contribute some of our best troops and some of our best commanders. Impatience has been expressed in some quarters, and, I believe, by the Minister of Defence, at the reluctance of the French to accept new developments in plans for European defence. I believe that the French have moved much faster than we had any right to expect, given their experiences over the last 80 years. They have already made great concessions. I do not see how they can be expected to do more unless they receive much more solid assurances from this side. For my part, I believe that it will be our duty, as I am confident it is our interest, to stand by them in Europe and in Indo-China and to show that we are still true to the spirit of the offer of indissoluble union which we made to them in the dark hour of 1940.
It is my belief that, if we build up sufficient strength, in the time that may yet be granted to us, to defend both Europe and the Far East, we shall be able to use that strength to negotiate a satisfactory and lasting peace. Until we are ready to negotiate such a large transaction, it is hard to see how we can make any concessions to the other side, either in Europe or in the Far East. Of course, if we despair of saving the peace, if we believe that war is inevitable, or that it has already begun, then it may be the right strategy to shorten our lines and cut our losses in the hope of winning a decisive struggle in the European theatre. For my part, I regard such an attitude as defeatist and wrong. I believe that the peace can still be saved; but to save the peace means upholding the rule of law, and resisting, indeed punishing, aggression from wherever it comes.
The invasion of South Korea by North Korea was as blatant an act of aggression as there has ever been. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria 20 years ago, or Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia, were attacks by one country on another, but the invasion of Korea is an act of aggression of a far graver order. It is an open defiance not merely of the rule of law, but of the United Nations. There is a great principle at stake here, a great issue of right and wrong—the issue of whether collective security and the rule of law are to be upheld.
In a democracy like our own, where nothing can be done without the active 1443 support of public opinion, to disregard the flouting of this principle, to minimise the moral issue at stake in the interest of diplomatic manoeuvres, may well be to undermine the morale here at home and in those many nations which still look to England, with fatal consequences to the whole of the free world.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Orbach (Willesden, East)
There was hardly a remark made by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery), with which I did not find myself in disagreement. Most of all, I deplored his reference to the Foreign Secretary, who, I suggest, has been making the most valuable efforts in the past few months to contain the war in Korea and to secure peace of the world.
I have refrained from intervening in debates on foreign affairs for some years, and I have felt a sense of frustration while listening to many speeches that have been made from the other side and also some from this side. Probably Members will disagree with a great deal that I have to say, but I think it is cant and humbug to refrain from saying something about the policy which has now collapsed and from which we now find we have to extricate ourselves.
The Prime Minister said that we were inextricably bound up with the United States in furtherance of the policy of the West, as against the policy that emanates from the Kremlin. If that is true, it is right and proper for the House to be critical of the United States and of the policies of politicians in the United States. Our foreign policy has been determined in these past few years by American theorists and by the domestic American political scene. I do not propose to participate in the current scapegoat hunt of a certain general. It is not for us to attack him, but simply to recognise that he is a political general who is not quite the architect of the house of cards which has collapsed. No one can do him more harm by word of mouth than he has done himself by the endless statements he has made.
But we have refrained from speaking out aloud in the last few months because we have not wished to embarrass our friends in the United States during the recent elections. Senator McCarthy has 1444 frightened not only the American people with his wild and irresponsible statements and charges of Communist infiltration in the State Department and the White House, but has subdued us. At the same time, he has created a menacing bogy that has resulted in the Liberals being defeated in the recent elections.
We have failed to understand the United States, and too many Members have equated their policy with our own and their people with our own. There are all sorts of ethnic groups in America, all of which have different ideas on how the national policy should be pursued, and we have been asked to accept the policy adumbrated by those who are most raucous. We have failed to understand that America has a frightening industrial potential, that she has the largest mercantile fleet, the major proportion of the world's gold and a wealth of raw materials, that she is a land untouched by the ravages of war, and that while she has a buoyant people, she has politicians who are adolescents and who refuse to work their apprenticeship.
Although everyone will accept that the majority of Americans are a good and kindly peope—[Laughter.] I speak with some authority, having lived in that country for four years. Although they are a great and kindly people, their voices are stilled by the soda-fountain oratory of the McCarthy's and the Wherries. In the development of our foreign policy, we have listened too readily to the speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill).
I have always believed, and I believed it at the time, that the Fulton speech was a disaster, and his recent recantation in following the more measured footsteps of the right hon. Gentleman for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) is insufficient recompense for the harm he has caused in the world during these past few years. We have erred in the acceptance of illwill and in a refusal patiently and earnestly to attempt the substitution of good will in the affairs of the world. In considering Russia we have too easily accepted the idea of American professors, who are now retired from the State Department, that we could squeeze this great land mass and by containing her, reduce her to impotence. But this squeeze has meant a finger in every pie—in Turkey, in Iraq, in Greece, in Iceland, in Greenland, in Indo-China, 1445 in the Philippines, in Japan, and in Korea. As a result we have been weakened throughout the world and our balance upset.
Even the Labour Party has been affected by this acceptance of the cold war. The clumsy encouragement of disavowed puppets, reinforced with dollars, is not the Socialist or the decent way to peace. The continuance of a policy of class domination and the partial acceptance of this policy by some members of my party, led to the query—is there methodism in our madness? We have come to the end of a chapter. We are dealing with the fate of the world, a world not only of free enterprise but of social democracy, and a world in which there is also Communism. We are dealing not only with a world of whites but where there are black, red and yellow people, a world where pigmentation may vary, but the need for security for food, for clothing, and for shelter is everywhere essentially the same.
The Chinese, who have attended British and American universities, have learned one lesson, which they are trying to teach the rest of the world. If the frontiers of Great Britain are at the Rhine, the Elbe, Gibraltar or the Nile, and if the Monroe doctrine is sacred to the Americas, China considers Asia as sacred to the Asiatics. We cannot have a genuine United Nations and at the same time refuse to accept the fact that different points of view can be expressed without acknowledging that those differences of opinion exist. The last thing we can accept is that we can determine these differences by resolution, and by imposing sanctions upon a nation which we refuse to admit as a nation in the councils of the world. We cannot expect China to accept the rules of the club when she has actually been blackballed by the club. This is sheer nonsense and humbug.
In conclusion, in the past few years in our foreign affairs we have only thought in terms of war, of averting war or of eventual war. I ask whether it is wrong to think of peace for a change. Cannot we get rid of this atmosphere of war, and in the next few days or weeks talk of peace in a sincere fashion. I can appreciate that this will be named appeasement. If it is appeasement to work for a peaceful settlement then I am for appeasement. The word has an ugly ring, because of Munich, 1446 where the small nations of the world were betrayed by the Opposition, who used it immorally to cover up their designs. Is it wrong for us to seek peace honestly? To our everlasting credit we appeased the peoples of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. By doing so we created a bastion of goodwill towards our own great nation. That was appeasement, but it was great statesmanship.
So I ask even at this eleventh hour that we should not be put aside by Russian intransigence, American foolhardiness or Chinese dignity, but, with our faith in humanity, go forward in an attempt to preserve the peace of the world. The basic world problems can be solved provided we are prepared to recognise other people's rights and they are prepared to recognise their duties towards the whole of the world community, and if at the same time we appreciate the great need for a sustained effort to raise the standard of life of the people in the old oppressed areas while maintaining our social gains at home.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
The hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Orbach), wound up his observations with a general appeal for peace. I did not quite think that the earlier part of his speech entirely fitted his later appeal because in nearly all the early part of his speech, as I understood it—it was not very easy to follow it—he did not seem to be satisfied with anybody's policy anyway. He was critical of the United States, which anybody is entitled to be, and he was critical of our foreign policy for having followed the United States. Everybody seemed to be absolutely wrong except the hon. Member. I was waiting to know what he wanted us to do, and when he got to his last sentence he said that he wanted us to make an effort for peace. So do we all.
There is nothing whatever wrong in criticising the policy of the United States, but I doubt though whether I should like to call their statesmen "adolescents." We can always use such words about ourselves, and they are better applied at home than abroad. There is no harm in the criticism provided that we remember what the Prime Minister told us earlier this afternoon—I took the words down—which seemed to me fundamentally what unites us with our American friends, and 1447 that is that they are concerned, as we are concerned, to preserve world peace. That I truly believe. Of course, there is any amount of room for criticism between friends, but if we do not believe that, the dangers of misunderstandings are real.
I found some of the metaphors of the hon. Member rather difficult to follow. No one on this side of the House has ever described the Foreign Secretary as "squeezing people by having fingers in every pie." That sounds to me an extremely uncomfortable physical position for anybody. I devoutly hope that the Foreign Secretary will be out of the pie before the night is over.
§ Mr. Eden
All right, but if we have a finger in every pie, I do not see how we can squeeze people at the same time.
I want to bring the House back to what I consider to be the very real issue of this discussion, which has been obscured in part by recent happenings and in part by events which we cannot control. There are certain facts in relation to the present situation which, I suggest, dominate it and which we must bear in mind. They are facts on which I hope I shall carry most of the House with me. The first thing we must remember is that the existing division between North and South Korea about which much has been heard, and no doubt will be heard, is an artificial one and is due entirely to Soviet action. It was the refusal of the Soviet Government to allow the United Nations Commission to work north of the 38th Parallel which resulted in this artificial division of the country and made all these later developments possible.
The second point we have to bear in mind is that the situation of last June arose because of an act of aggression by North Korea upon the South. Such was the finding of the United Nations Commission on the spot, such was the United Nations' verdict unanimously on 25th June. The third fact we have to bear in mind is that North Korea certainly never would nor could have carried out this act of aggression without Soviet armament of her forces and Soviet connivance at her action.
1448 I do not say these things in order to make difficulties, but in order that we may keep our perspective clear when we get into the later stage of events. Indeed, the moment the United Nations came to the help of the South Koreans both the Soviet and Chinese Press and propaganda organs showed their hand openly in support of the North Korean action. In this connection I must remind the House, as I did last July, of the Soviet doctrine as they have themselves laid it down in respect of such acts of aggression. Mr. Gromyko made it plain in connection with the North Korean invasion. He said that "for the sake of national unity and democratic rights," armed aggression should be regarded as a legitimate act, and assistance by external powers to the attacked should be regarded as "a hostile act against peace."
Now I submit to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that it would be difficult to explain more clearly our fundamental divergence of views on these matters. In the last few days Mr. Vyshinsky has underlined the point at issue. A few days ago he was arguing at Lake Success that there is no Chinese intervention in Korea. He used these words:There is a great, mighty Chinese volunteer movement seeking to save the Korean people from the yoke of foreign intervention"—Mark these last wordsin the interests of Chinese security"—Knowing they are fighting Korean people. The numbers of men involved, he argued, made no difference. He reminded the United States that under the Hague Convention the responsibility of a neutral power did not arise if private persons crossed its frontier to enter the service of one or other of the belligerents.
I submit that that is indeed to make a complete mockery of the whole conception of neutrality. It also violates the spirit of the United Nations Charter, where the obligation is to resist aggression, not to connive at it, nor to encourage it by so-called private armies. All this had been made very clear by the recent correction by the Pekin delegation at Lake Success of Sir Benegal Rau. He, the House will remember, gave an account of what he understood the Chinese Communist position to be, and in the "Manchester Guardian" today there is a report of the correction that was issued by the delegation at Lake Success. It is 1449 important because it reveals what is in their minds. They said this:Our position has always been, and still is, that from the very outset United States intervention in Korea has threatened China's security.No question of the last stages of advance into Manchuria—"from the very outset," from the moment the United Nations took action, that was the threat.
The Foreign Secretary no doubt will agree that United States action was taken on the invitation of the United Nations, with their unanimous approval.
§ Mr. Eden
No, no military step was taken without the prior endorsement of the United Nations. I think I am absolutely right in that but, if I am wrong, I have no doubt that the Foreign Secretary will correct me. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell me whether I am right or not in saying that at no stage has any action been taken by the United States except on the authority of the United Nations. It is important that the point should be cleared up, but that is the impression I have always had. That is the first point. Of course there could not have been any United States intervention in Korea if the North Koreans had not first attacked the South with Soviet equipment and assistance. That is the real point. That again, I think, is beyond dispute.
It is also worth recording—again, I think I am right—that United Nations forces did not cross the Parallel until a decision had been voted by the United Nations Assembly, although they were militarily in a position to do so. I want this to be corrected if I am wrong, because it is important that we should follow the sequence of events, but I understand that this decision was implicit in the resolution of 4th October. [An HON. MEMBER: "7th October."] No, I think it was the 4th. It was sponsored by His Majesty's Government and seven other delegations, and it clearly specified that the purpose of the United Nations was to establish a unified, independent and democratic Government of Korea and that all appropriate steps should be taken to ensure stability throughout Korea.
That resolution was interpreted, certainly by most of the delegates, as giving 1450 instructions to go ahead across the Parallel. I have looked up the speech of Sir Benegal Rau where he expresses his doubts about the resolution precisely because it means, in his view, going across the Parallel. I am very glad we are all agreed about that, because it is only just to the Commander that if the account I have given is correct, we should not, any of us—I do not say that any of us want to—blame him for decisions which were in fact taken by the United Nations themselves.
There is one other point in that connection which I want to leave in the minds of hon. Members. On 9th October, before he crossed the Parallel, General MacArthur called on the North Koreans for the last time to surrender. That proposal also was conveyed to the United Nations some days before, and this also was, I understand, approved by them. This shows, if my recital is correct, that the Foreign Secretary was right a fortnight ago when he said that all the action yet taken by General MacArthur was within the directives of the United Nations.
A fundamental point which we must surely try to keep in mind in this discussion, which it seemed to me, as I listened to the debate this afternoon, was often lost sight of, is that we—that is to say, the United Nations—took enforcement action in Korea with a limited, but also with a definite, objective, which was to repel aggression and to restore peace in a unified Korea.
Under Russian political pressure and under Chinese military action, we have to be more than ever on our guard against the danger that Anglo-American differences should be fostered and encouraged. It seems quite clear to me that from the very start that certainly has been the Soviet objective, and very likely the Chinese objective also. At any rate, they have managed to confront us now with simultaneous demands, which, whatever their individual merits—and some of them have individual merits—take on a very different complexion when the so-called Chinese volunteers are attacking United Nations troops who are only seeking to fulfil a United Nations resolution.
In this connection the Prime Minister said this afternoon—I do not quarrel with it—that but for Korea, China might now be in the United Nations. I think that that is true and, that it would have been 1451 desirable, but the Prime Minister will agree that it is a very big "but." After all, who started the whole Korean business? It was not South Korea. It was not the United Nations. It was not the United States. It was North Korea, armed by the Russians, and the Chinese are now making it quite plain, as my earlier quotation showed, that their quarrel is with the original action of the United Nations in coming to the help of South Korea at all. They are complaining of the beginning of that action, not its later development up to the frontier of Manchuria.
I make those points clear only because we want to see how well or ill our case is founded before we proceed to the next action we have to take. The communiqué which the Prime Minister signed with the President talked about a free and united Korea. That, I presume, means all Korea. That, I suppose, also means that we are not prepared to return to partition. That must surely be right, because to return to partition would merely mean to perpetuate the very dangers with which we have already been confronted, and all efforts so far made, would then have been in vain.
I want to say something else on the question of settlement. In my view, no settlement in the Far East can be satisfactory which does not cover that area as a whole. For instance, suppose a compromise could be arrived at merely covering Korea and Formosa for the time being, that might only shift the weight of anxiety further south. That would be disadvantageous to us, to put it mildly. But, apart from our own interests, on the broader grounds, I cannot think that it would make for peace. Someone made a reference to Munich just now. That, of course, would be much more like Munich than anything that has happened so far. To make a partial arrangement covering a limited area would be far nearer Munich than anything the hon. Member was suggesting. I agree that if there is to be an agreement it must be a comprehensive agreement, a real agreement covering all the territories in the Far East. Negotiations to that end would, we hope, meet with satisfactory results.
The House ought to understand something else which has not been much referred to in this debate, and that is how 1452 heavy is the strain of Indo-China on our French neighbours. It is not only a question of the numbers of forces engaged, but of the high proportion of skilled officers and experienced N.C.Os. serving in Indo-China. It is this which increases France's difficulties in building up a European army, and no doubt it is precisely intended that that should happen.
Then there are the questions of Malaya and Hong Kong, both vital to us, and I repeat that if there is to be a settlement, it should cover the whole of South East Asia. As the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) asked truly earlier today, without the resources of South-East Asia how could the economy of this country be maintained? Of course that is true. Therefore, if we are to face reality, an arrangement which both means peace and safeguards our own legitimate interests must cover much more than the local area at the present time.
There are two aspects of international collaboration on a wider scale on which I want to comment. One is collaboration by the United Nations and the other is collaboration by the Atlantic Powers. The Prime Minister spoke today about the means of communication between the United Nations and their Commander in the field. I am still not happy about the position. It seems to me that some machinery requires to be created—it maybe a Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee—so that there is some military filter for the political decisions of the United Nations.
The Prime Minister spoke about the excellent relations of Lord Tedder and our Ambassador in Washington. Having been there lately, I would like fully to endorse what the right hon. Gentleman said. They are both doing excellent work, but that, as I understand it, is not the problem. The Prime Minister said that Lord Tedder's relations were informal. That is all right as far as it goes, but how, as a result, does General MacArthur get his instructions now? Is a United Nations Resolution just telegraphed to him as it is and left to him to interpret it as he thinks fit, or does any further guidance go to him with the United Nations Resolution? If so, who sends that guidance? That is something we ought to know and if there is any interpretative machine, I think there should be one between the general United Nations Resolution, or whatever it may 1453 be, and the Commander who has to put it into force.
That is one aspect and there is another, which is much wider, about the need to co-ordinate allied effort on a world scale. We have an Atlantic organisation which deals with the defence of the Atlantic area. We have a United Nations effort in Korea itself. The statement of the President and the Prime Minister showed that the capital importance of Europe has not been overlooked. But we still have no means of agreeing what the priorities shall be on a world basis, and we ought to have it. If we do not have it, the results of the rearmament effort that each of these countries is being asked to make, and particularly the United States, Canada and ourselves, cannot be used to the best advantage.
The United Nations forces are battling in Korea, but so are the French in Indo-China and we ourselves in Malaya, while India and Pakistan have their own causes for apprehension in Tibet. There ought to be, as I am afraid I have wearied the House by saying many times, an overall strategic concept, which has now got to be wider even than the Atlantic zone of defence. Incidentally, I would not imagine that anyone could doubt that such an over-all strategic concept does exist throughout the Communist world, and it certainly looks to me as if it is a pretty wide one.
The Atlantic organisation is a different organisation because its sphere is limited, and I do not think that a body of 12 members is suitable for this kind of work. It is a very different argument upon which I am now entering, but I think the matter is important and that I should submit it to the House. What I think is required is a smaller body of control than the Atlantic Council, with its 12 members and limited area. This body might easily begin with three, four or perhaps five Powers in the first instance—ourselves, the United States, France and Canada—but this kind of work, or some of it, I suggest, might even be carried on by the United Nations Military Staff Committee of the Security Council. But we have not got that. The organisation that I now suggest should propose priorities on a world basis. Then, perhaps, we shall all move in step, because we are not doing so now. How- 1454 ever kindly the remarks we make about each other, we are not doing so.
I will give one example. The other day I read in a newspaper that Canada as well as the United States have stopped all trade with China. I think that is right; I mean that I think the information is right. That must be a pretty big decision for France and for us, as well as for those two countries. It may be right or it may be wrong—and I am not arguing at the moment that that step should be taken—but surely, if it had to be taken, it ought to have been as part of a general plan. How much better would it be if all these nations were trying to move together. I do not know at all whether any consultations took place before the United States and Canada took this step. I am not blaming them; I am only trying to see what the position is. If there was no consultation between us, I think there ought to be. Perhaps if there had been, the United States themselves would have taken one step and we another, but I would like to feel that there is machinery for that sort of consultation between the principal Powers on a world basis. I should like to see some of the existing committees disappear and see that kind of organisation created.
I turn for a moment specifically to Europe. The last time I spoke, a fortnight ago, the House may remember that I made a suggestion, in connection with the vexed question of German rearmament, and I suggested that we should propose a general investigation by the four Powers—that is, the United States, France, Soviet Russia and ourselves—on either side of the Iron Curtain, to see what is going on now. I still think that that would be a useful proposal, and hope it will be followed up. If it were accepted, it certainly would contribute to lowering the international temperature. It would also, perhaps, put an end to some of the wild charges now being bandied about, and, maybe, also allay some fears genuinely held. I do not consider that this suggestion need wait on a general reply to the Russian note which is now being prepared by the Allied Powers. I still ask that it should be pursued.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
The right hon. Gentleman should be aware, I think, that that has already been tried, but with the proviso that the four-Power Commission should not be allowed into the Soviet 1455 zone, and when the charges made by the Soviets were rejected by the investigating team, it did nothing at all to reduce the temperature.
§ Mr. Eden
I propose it at this moment in view of what is in our minds in respect of German rearmament and in view of our Allies' proposals regarding German rearmament, and that seems to me to be all the more reason why we should make this particular proposal at this particular time. Of course, the Soviets may reject it, but if so, we shall at least have done our best to get an examination on both sides of the frontier. I cannot see what harm could accrue. We have nothing to hide on our side as to what we are doing. I think that this particular juncture is a good time for this move.
Finally, I want to say how glad I am that the Government are preparing their agenda for the reply to the Soviet Government, and I endorse very much what my right hon. Friend said this afternoon about that negotiation. I do not complain that the Government are taking a little time about their answer, because the important thing is that before we go into discussion with the Russians, if discussion there is, we should have cleared our minds and reached agreement between ourselves on a number of possible hypotheses which may well arise in these discussions. I do not think it would be serving any useful purpose if I were to enumerate these possible hypotheses now, but they are probably in the minds of most hon. Members. We can all think of quite a number. But the essential thing is that this conference should be well prepared, not only in respect of an agenda, but in respect of the clarity of our own thought and the reality of the agreement with our friends.
Let me conclude. The times are very grave, both East and West. We must maintain our guard, and we must increase our defence. There are hostile alignments and a violent onslaught of propaganda which must be dangerous, to say the least, if it continues indefinitely. But there may also be, if I am not mistaken, a certain flexibility about the present situation. If that be so, this is just the time when diplomacy has its chance; if that be so, let us not fail to seize it.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I should like to thank the House for the constructive, businesslike way in which these great world problems have been approached in this debate and during the last few weeks when foreign relations have occupied more of our time. I quite agree with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that we are living in grim times, but I do not believe that they need lead us to war. I do not believe, despite the blackness of the situation in all its aspects, that there is not a chance of establishing peace.
Two factors have been operating since 1945, the close of the war. One has been the expansionism of Russia and of the Slays generally, and that has had its effect. The other has been their feeling out whether their object can be gained by their usual methods or whether it will involve war. If they come to the conclusion that pushing too far involves war I very much doubt whether they will take that plunge. It is for that reason that we have tried to pay great attention, both in the diplomatic and the defensive field, to making ourselves strong.
In the diplomatic world, there is no doubt, as far as we can gather, that the Chinese, however much they work up their usual antagonism to the foreigner, cannot work up any great hostility against Great Britain. All our indications are that Soviet propaganda has not been so effective in that field, which leads me to believe that there is a great field open for well-directed propaganda and for the dissemination of the facts, and the right treatment of the Chinese, to keep them from lining up permanently with Soviet Russia.
I also believe that the new part that India is playing in the world is a tremendous factor in the leadership of Asia which is not now exclusively Western. During this controversy, I assure the House that while relationships with the United States and the exchange of views that have gone on between the United States administration and ourselves have been most cordial, equally there have been the same kind of relationships, in a triangular fashion, between India, the United States and ourselves. There was some misunderstanding. There was some 1457 difficulty as there always is, and prejudice, but gradually those have been worked down.
I personally feel very happy that the attitude of Mr. Pandit Nehru, together with the assiduous efforts which have been made by his representative at the United Nations, have had a great effect in keeping things steady and in teaching the West what is so important, that is, to understand the East. It is extremely important that that should be maintained. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) will remember, in the Coalition days there were visitors from the United States to India and their visits were not very helpful in producing the relationships that were so essential at the end of the war. But all that has been disposed of, and the understanding is better now than it has ever been.
Mention has been made of the divergence between the United States and ourselves over the admission of China to the United Nations. I could not bring myself to believe it was the right policy to adopt a line such as I am afraid we adopted with Russia in 1917–18. I am not criticising, I am trying to examine the effect of what we then did. When the Russian revolution took place, I am afraid we acted for too long in a way which made Russia feel she was a nation at bay. We did not take advantage of the opportunity of establishing relations when the change took place and the new economic policy had to be introduced. We got in a bit too late.
One has to learn lessons from the past, and His Majesty's Government said that if we made a mistake then, we would not commit it again in this case, that we would try not to become obsessed with the Communist conception of China but rather bear in mind that the mass of Chinese scarcely understood what Communism means, and try, if we could, to bring them along and keep them in association with the other nations of the world. We believed that the effect of that would be to make them feel that they had more friends than merely one country. That has been the course that we have followed.
Of course, those in power for the moment may come to the United Nations and use abusive language and imitate Mr. Vyshinsky and some other people, but I am glad to say that the United Nations Assembly is rapidly developing a temper 1458 very much like that of the House of Commons. When gentlemen forget themselves they shout a bit, but no one really takes any notice.
Another feeling I have about the China-Russia position is that, although it may seem strange, I never believed that Russia wanted China in the United Nations. I think Russia kept putting her up in the belief that the Western nations would turn down the idea, so that Russia could use that fact to make more enemies for the Western nations. I never believed that the walking-out business was anything more than a set of stage supers playing a very poor part. We are sticking to that line. I realise the truth of what the right hon. Gentleman said just now, and that when the United Nations has been resisted and when His Majesty's Government have taken the line they have in Korea, we may be misunderstood if we cast our vote for the Chinese to enter the United Nations. I am going to exchange views with my colleagues in Brussels next week on this very difficult question of tactics.
I do not want to fall into the error of creating now a situation which I think we avoided in the early part of the year. If I am not in a position tonight to give a final decision on what His Majesty's Government will ultimately do, I can say that up till now events have been such that we have not altered our view. The incident to which attention has been called several times in the debate may have a great effect on China, and we know pretty well from all our information that China really wants to stop this fighting.
How tightly is she tied up with Russia, and to what extent does Russia want to continue the fighting? Is it Russia's strategy and policy that just as we do not want to be bogged down in China with a China war, so Stalin wants to use China to force us to fight? I think it is. I believe that those are the tactics which the Kremlin is following at the moment. It would suit them, by a policy of having not a single soldier in the battle themselves and by using Chinese manpower, to get the United States involved, thus committing the United States forces, and then keeping Europe clear for themselves.
This matter should be handled with extreme care and I am not going to be 1459 dogmatic about it. The Americans have their view; we have ours; and I think it is a good thing that, following the Prime Minister's visit we know that the Americans have been taking stock of things from their point of view, just as we have been taking stock of things here and hearing the suggestions and opinions which everybody has put up—it is a good thing that the American Secretary of State and I may be able to meet and talk things over soon in the light of all this.
With regard to Korea, the right hon. Gentleman was quite correct in the sequence of dates about when the fighting took place, about the decisions of the Security Council, and the sponsoring of the Resolution. I happened to be in New York at the time and I took a hand in it. I have always considered the Korean problem on the basis of the Cairo Declaration, and in particular on the paragraph which says:The aforesaid three great Powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.Now, there was no 38th Parallel in that Declaration at all. I offer no apology for that Resolution, to which I was a party at the United Nations, and which left out all reference to the 38th Parallel, which, of course, was artificial. I also visualised that if we perpetuated the 38th Parallel we should be in the difficulty, for a long time to come, of having two armies lined up, one each side of it.
I have sympathy with the argument in the war itself, about halting at the line of the waist in Korea and having a no-man's-land, and I do not think the United States will mind if I say that when the Prime Minister and I had the advice of our own Chiefs of Staff on the strategy in that case, we forwarded our advice to the United States and asked them to take it into account. We were also very gravely concerned at the time of the last offensive as to whether it was not a case of running one's head right into trouble—trouble which eventually occurred.
But I cannot say any more about that; although I am just giving an indication that prior to its being made public, our Chiefs of Staff, who had been following matters very carefully, made their repre- 1460 sentations. We do not complain that these views were not accepted and that the Chiefs of Staff in the United States, who had to give the directions, did not quite accept that particular view. All of us who have been involved in war cabinets know that different views are held at different times and that one view may be right and one may not. If this had not been mentioned publicly I should not have said anything about it, but there is a feeling which has been spread about that the Government had been asleep and did nothing at all.
§ Mr. Eden
This is very interesting, especially what the right hon. Gentleman has said about advice. I think my right hon. Friend indicated that he thought that that advice had gone from here, and there is no dispute about that. What troubles me still is this. What were the channels between the United Nations and General MacArthur? The right hon. Gentleman has spoken about the American Chiefs of Staff. I should have thought that our Chiefs of Staff and the American Chiefs of Staff would be together.
§ Mr. Bevin
Well, up to now the United States have found the Chief Commander. It was at the request of the United States that the communications are channelled to him through the United States Chiefs of Staff. That is the arrangement. In arriving at their conclusions the views of other countries and their representations are all taken into account. We have not formalised this arrangement in a Chiefs-of-Staff organisation as we did in the war, when, virtually, it was our two countries alone who constituted the principal military forces. Now with the United Nations it is not quite like that. The American Chiefs of Staff are the channel of communication, and the final decision is theirs. But representations are made in the ordinary way.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that in the relationships between the soldiers of the United States and ours there is not consultation of the sort where one makes representations and then walks out. It is a question of always attempting to agree. It is one of those unwritten things. It is pretty effective, and there are many incidents I could cite to show how courses which have been adopted have been those which we had advised. [Interruption.] We are not in the position 1461 in which we were in the war. I heard what the right hon. Gentleman said.
§ Mr. Bevin
I quite agree. Foreign Secretaries never are.
The next point was to get the Chinese to understand our position in the Korean conflict, and I took the step of sending His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Peking to see the Foreign Under-Secretary, as hon. Members no doubt saw in the papers, to make it quite clear to him that there was going to be no aggression against Manchuria. In my opinion, anybody who is fool enough to attack Manchuria is bound to produce a world war almost immediately. The history of the place, the conflict that went on there with Japan, the feelings of the new China, and of Russia—I believe that put together all these factors would almost certainly result in a great conflict if Manchuria were attacked, and there is no intention of attacking Manchuria. The propaganda that went on, however, reinforced by memories of the Japanese occupation, suggested that it was the United States policy—the Anglo-United States policy—again to carry out expansion in Manchuria and this was having a marked effect all over China. Therefore, we sought to correct it. I think that we have checked it. Little has been heard about it since.
We came to the conclusion that there must be a "cease fire" in Korea first, and then a settlement by negotiation, there being no interference with Chinese territory; but that, equally, there must be no interference by China with Korean territory—that both territories must be inviolate. We cannot depart from the principles which we set out to defend, which were those of the United Nations. We accept what, I believe, is the view of the whole House—that there must be no reward for aggression.
That brings me to this awful word "appeasement." If one compromises with somebody to get a settlement I do not regard that as appeasement. I suppose I have had to make compromises all my life, or else no one would ever have gone to work. A settlement has to be made by trying to understand one another's points of view and then arriving at proper conclusions which would enable people to work together.
1462 Then there is the vexed question about China being a party to the negotiations. I take the view strongly that she must be, because if a settlement is made which is merely a resolution of the United Nations, there will be no guarantee that it will last. If negotiations do take place, then we must, I think, have China there as a party to the settlement, and I hope it will be one by mutual consent.
Another matter—I do not know whether there is any need to reply to it—is the habit there seems to be in debates—I suppose it has always been done—of accusing the Government of having no initiative and of having done nothing since the war ended. I have heard that so many times. When I look back and think of all the conferences which I have attended and all the statesmen I have met, and the day to day grind in carrying out this job of recreating peace, I do not accept that statement.
Another question is that of Formosa. Part of the Declaration of Cairo concerns Formosa. I can see no reason for going back on the Cairo Declaration, but I am bound to recognise that this is not an appropriate moment to settle the matter. There is Chiang Kai-shek, there is the other party which is now in power in China, and there is the conflict with the United States. We have taken the line that it will be very helpful if there is a discussion of the whole problem in the United Nations, with an exchange of views by independent minds at the appropriate time. But it has to be said that there is a great strategic conflict. It is no use disguising that. There are great problems associated with Formosa, and I shall not come down in a dogmatic way and say that we will do this, that or the other.
I feel that if the parties concerned can be got together, and if, as was said just now, we can, as is intended by the Iraqi-Syrian resolution in the United Nations, really get back to the position of the five Powers surveying all these difficult questions, it may be possible to solve this one among others. It is said that we ought to push on with this at the moment, but I rather disagree with that view, because I am afraid that feelings are running too high. But I do not rule out the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman. In fact since he made it I have looked at it several times to see whether it would be the right moment to try it. But the 1463 right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do, that in foreign affairs, timing is one of the most important factors. If one goes wrong by putting out one's proposals at the wrong time, one might incite the world instead, especially when feelings are running high as they are at present.
On the question of Asia generally, I do not take a pessimistic view. There are there nearly 1,000 million people. It has been possible to deal with all those—possessions is probably the wrong word—territories associated with Britain almost without civil war. There has been one exception; in Kashmir there has been difficulty. But it is marvellous that we have been able to carry out that great transfer of power—
§ Mr. Bevin
Well, there was no war with us. There was no position similar to that in Korea. This transfer was made in an orderly manner, [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen can go on laughing at India—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] This ascendancy mentality! If ever hon. Members opposite return to power in the end and do not learn to treat correctly these people emerging now, this country will pay the price for it. A statement was made today about arrogance in the handling of power. One thing Labour has learned through her long fight for power is how to handle it now she has got it.
May I turn, in the few mintues at my disposal, to the question of the North Atlantic Treaty. It has been suggested that we have not given proper attention to defence. I make no boast, but I played as big a part as anybody in creating the North Atlantic Treaty. I did not accept the position of Europe standing alone. I could not; it was too weak. I thought that the resolution carried at Strasbourg was a great mistake, I think that it misled Europe. I thought that it was thoughtless in view of what was going on elsewhere. I felt that the right thing to 1464 do was to associate the United States and Canada with us and with Europe.
§ Mr. Bevin
Yes, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned them particularly, but he did not provide the organisation to include them. He told us that the United States would not work with the Labour Government and all the rest of it, and yet everybody in the last two days in this House has been congratulating us on our good relations with America.
Now the situation that has developed is a difficult one. It concerns German rearmament; it involves France in a break with her traditions, and there is a good deal of political difficulty to be overcome. But I believe that, while we have to watch Russia on the one side and we have to build up these great defences on the other, we are well on the way to a final solution of this problem. We had to launch out with almost nothing to support this great defence organisation at the beginning. That is what made me so grateful for Marshall Aid, which enabled us to keep the economy of Europe going, and without which we could not now have started on the great defence programme on which we are now working.
Europe, we agree, is our main concern, but I do not want to over-emphasise this great concern of ours for Europe and create the idea in the minds of the people of the Middle East and Far East that we are deserting them or weakening in our interest in their defence or their affairs. But there is a great difficulty. The change that has come over the scene in regard to manpower has created a problem which will take an enormous amount of solving if these great forces are to be produced, if equipment is to be provided, and if peace is to be developed.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed without Question put.