§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I notice, Mr. Speaker, that you looked to the other side of the House, and I certainly fully comprehend the motives which led you to look in that direction. I am sorry that the Foreign Secretary was not willing to open this Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—by making a general statement on foreign affairs to the new House of Commons. I should have thought that when a new Parliament assembled, the chief representatives of His Majesty's Government, either the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister, would welcome the opportunity of laying before us a full statement of their policy and theme. Nor can I recall any situation in which such guidance was more imperatively demanded, not only by the Opposition, but still more by the movement of events.
However, our request has been rejected. The object, I suppose, was a manœuvre or tactics to draw whoever spoke for the Opposition into a statement of their views and then to pick out such odd points as emerged for debating purposes—and this on the subject of foreign affairs, which surely should be and can be lifted above the untimely and costly party struggles to which we are now condemned. In all the main issues of foreign policy the Opposition in the late Parliament supported, sustained and even pointed the course which the Foreign Secretary has pursued.
§ Mr. Churchill
Then we were weak; now we are equals—almost. But our intention is to give the same help to His Majesty's Government in foreign affairs as we did in the years when we were helplessly outnumbered. In fact, it will be stronger help numerically. The Foreign Secretary need not, therefore—I 190 trust that he is not in any way indisposed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—but it does seem to me that as he is going to reply to the Debate one would have had the opportunity of his attention at this moment.
The right hon. Gentleman need not be afraid—perhaps someone will tell him when they see him—that any decision which he makes in the national interest will be obstructed or baffled by the votes of those over whom he has a majority numbered only by digits. On the contrary, he may feel assured that so long as he marches forward on the broad lines of policy on which we have been agreed, he has overwhelming Parliamentary support. The fact that the Government have a precarious existence need in no way hamper him. The fact that we lie between General Elections need not induce him, or whoever is to take his place, to take weak courses or play for small party gains. We do not intend that the national interest at a time so anxious and critical as this shall suffer from the equipoise of political parties. But let us make sure where our national interest lies and how our part in shaping world affairs can best be played.
I do not intend this afternoon to occupy too much time in the Debate in which so many Members wish to take part. I shall, therefore, not refer to a great many topics and episodes which are in our minds or attempt to deal myself with the Far Eastern problems, which, although they may be touched upon in this Debate, are so urgent and serious as to require a separate Debate as soon as opportunity can be found.
I shall now only attempt to deal with the crucial and cardinal aspects of the Western scene. I select the key problems, namely, the relations between Britain and France, acting together, and Germany, and of the bearing of all this upon Western Europe, its life, its hopes, and its self-defence. The whole of this discussion, of course, and the whole of my argument are sustained by the decisive strength of the United States as expressed by the Atlantic Pact. Thereafter it is my duty to refer to the relations of the Western democratic world with Soviet Russia. I am most anxious that the tremendous issues with which we are now confronted should be presented in a simple form.
191 The Prime Minister accused me last week of "irresponsibility" in raising the question of Germany—by which I mean liberated Germany—taking any part in Western defence. My feeling is, and I hope, the Prime Minister will allow me to say so, that I am as good a judge of these matters as he is. Certainly I should not like to be responsible for not stating my true and faithful belief and counsel to the House, as I have done several times in the past when it was not particularly popular to do so. I remember that during the last Parliament, not to go too far back, I made a speech at Fulton which became the object of a Motion of Censure signed, I think, by more than 100 Members of the Socialist Party. But shortly afterwards, the policy I had advocated was adopted on both sides of the Atlantic and by all parties in this House. So I shall not feel myself utterly extinguished by the Prime Minister's censure.
The Prime Minister also complained that such a question as that of Germany aiding in Western defence should have been "injected"—that is the word he used, "injected"—into a Debate on defence, but that was surely its natural and obvious place in the first instance. Other hon. Members, notably the hon. Member for Coventry East (Mr. Crossman), whom I see in his place, misquoted what I said and then criticised the distorted version. I picked my words very carefully and I do not wish to modify them in any way today. I said nothing about the re-armament of Germany or about recreating the German Army, but I see no reason why the Germans should not aid in the defence of their own country and of Western Europe, or why British, American, French and German soldiers should not stand in the line together on honourable terms of comradeship as part of a combined system of defence.
I try to pursue, as it seems to me, a steady theme and my thought as far as I can grasp it, measure it, is all of one piece. It is the building up of effective forces of resistance to tyranny and aggression in any form, or from any quarter. The House of Commons is the foe of tyrants, whatever uniform they wear, whatever formulas they use. We must discern their character in good time and labour to resist their force with all 192 our strength. But I am not concerned today only, or even mainly, with the military aspect.
We are nearly all of us now agreed in seeking the unity and restoration of Europe as a great hope for the future. We cannot do this without the aid of the Germans. The strong German race, which, during the last 40 years, we and our Allies twice fought and defeated, have now the opportunity of rendering an immense service to mankind. Having submitted to internal tyranny and brought measureless suffering upon us all, and especially themselves, they now have a chance of redeeming the German name by helping to repair what has happened in the past and by playing their part—and it might be a great one—in lifting the civilisation of Europe to a level where its old glories may revive and where the various forms of tolerant freedom and resulting happiness and culture may be restored.
There can be no hope for a United Europe without Germany, and there is no hope for Germany except within a free and United Europe. How can these vital conditions be achieved? Here is a problem in which you may wander around all sorts of tangled labyrinths of thought, but you will come back to the overpowering fact that Europe cannot be restored without the active aid of Germany and that without a restored Europe world peace cannot be established on sure foundations.
When I spoke at Zürich nearly four years ago, I said it would be the proud duty of France to stretch forth her hand and lead Germany back into the European family. I said at the time that this statement would create astonishment, and it certainly did. But since then we have made great progress. The whole structure of Western Union has developed. We thank the Foreign Secretary for the part he has played in it. We are presently to have a meeting at Strasbourg of the Council of Europe and the Assembly where, we trust, in spite of all that has happened, French and German hands will be clasped in concord. I recommend to the House that we should do all in our power to encourage and promote Franco-German reconciliation as an approach to unity, or even perhaps some form, in some aspects, of union. Let anyone who can 193 take a point on this, beware how he mocks at such themes.
But France, after her tribulations and in her present disturbed condition, may not be strong enough to accomplish single-handed her mission. That is why the intimate and inseparable relationship between Britain and France and between the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations and France must be affirmed and asserted continually in the most effective manner. France and Britain, both sorely distressed, can combine together and, thus joined, have the superior power to raise Germany, even more shattered, to an equal rank and to lasting association with them.
Then these three countries, helping each other, conscious of their future united greatness, forgetting ancient feuds and the horrible deeds and tragedies of the past, can make the core or the nucleus upon which all the other civilised democracies of Europe, bond or free, can one day rally and combine. Woe be it to anyone in the free world, who, by lack of understanding, or by lack of goodwill, or by lack of world hope, or any more flagrant fault or blunder, obstructs or delays this essential combination.
There was a time when men thought that the conception of a United States of Europe would be resented by the United States of America, but now we have the American people, with their own heavy burdens to bear, sacrificing themselves and using all their power and authority to bring about this very system. In this lies the hope of the Western world and its power to promote beneficial solutions, perhaps, of what happens in Asia.
I do not wish to fall into vague generalities. Let me, therefore, express our policy as I see it in a single sentence. Britain and France united should stretch forth hands of friendship to Germany, and thus, if successful, enable Europe to live again. I am distressed when I read in the newspapers, for I have no other information on these matters except my own knowledge, about petty obstructive vexations which hamper this grand design. We read of the belated blowing up of the tail end of the German munition factories; and of the trial of aged and decrepit German field-marshals. We read on the other hand of an impudent Goebbels film improperly released in the 194 American zone at which Germans cheer anti-British propaganda. How easy it is to mar large unities, how hard to make them.
We in this House and in these islands must rise above these pettinesses. It may well be that our safety depends on our proving ourselves capable of doing so. Follies on one side lead to misbehaviour on the other. Europe, at this moment of resurgence, cannot afford to make silly mistakes, or, if they are made, allow them to darken her thought or divert her aim. We here have all been busy in a General Election, and over us hangs another with all its preoccupations for our divided and harassed land. But meanwhile many things are happening abroad which should not pass unnoticed or unmeasured.
Almost at the same time that I spoke in the defence Debate, a statement was being made by General de Gaulle on Franco-German relations. As the House knows, I have not always seen eye to eye with that patriotic Frenchman, who represented in the war more than any other man, the will to live of France. Certainly there is no one in France who could have opposed with more vigour and injurious effect the reconciliation between the French and German people. He represents the most powerful forces which could have been arrayed on the wrong side. But what did he say? He spoke of the proposal which Dr. Adenauer had just made for an economic union between France and Germany. I shall read his words. He said:I have followed for 30 years the ideas of the German Chancellor. In what this good German has said I have found the echo of the call of Europe.Relations between the two countries must be viewed against a European background. In short the grand design of Charlemagne must be re-adapted to modern conditions.Why should not the Rhine become a street where Europeans meet, rather than a ditch dividing hostile camps?I must say that when I read this statement in the newspapers I hoped that it might be received throughout Europe, as it has been here in the House, to quote the lines of Rupert Brooke,with the silence following great words of peace.It certainly was treated with the utmost 195 respect throughout the Continent. Some will call Dr. Adenauer's proposal for an economic union between Germany and France premature, unsure, only partly thought out. Surely, however, it lies near the root of the matter. What we want is far more than that, but these two speeches by General de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer together constitute a memorable event.
Here is the forward path along which we must march if the thousand-year feud between Gaul and Teuton is to pass from its fierce destructive life into the fading romance of history. Here are two men who have fought and struggled on opposite sides through the utmost stresses of our times and both see clearly the guidance they should give. Do not let all this be cast away for small thoughts and wasteful recriminations and memories which, if they are not to be buried, may ruin the lives of our children and our children's children. It may be that this year, 1950, on which we have entered in so much perplexity and dispute, can be made the occasion for launching Europe on its voyage to peace with honour. Let us make sure that we play our part in turning thought into action and action into fame.
I am very glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I can assure him that he has a great fund of good will among all parties. We know what a burden he has had to bear. Some of us had to bear that burden for five years; he has borne it at the same tenseness for ten. We speak of him always with great feelings of personal regard although it is our duty to criticise errors in the conduct of foreign policy rather than in its inspiration, which come to our notice.
I hope to hear from the Foreign Secretary tonight that no British party will fall behind in its duty in the European cause. People say that all these are visionary and sentimental ideas which ignore the practical realities. They say they blot out the lessons of the past and the difficulties of the present and thus will have no real application for the future. But it is a great mistake to suppose that nations are not led by sentiment. It takes too poor a view of man's mission here on earth to suppose that he is not capable of rising, to his material detriment, far above his 196 day to day surroundings. The dominant forces in human history have come from the perception of great truths and the faithful pursuance of great causes.
I have always held that the cause of united Europe would not be helped, and might well be injured, by attempts to draw up precise and rigid constitutions and agreements too soon or in a hurry. The first stage is to create a friendly atmosphere and feeling of mutual confidence and respect. Even a day's delay in working hard for this is a matter for regret. Once the foundation of common interest and solidarity of sentiment has been laid, it may well be that formal agreements would take the form, not of hard bargains or weak compromises, but of setting down on paper the living basic truths and thoughts which were in all minds. Then difficulties, at present insuperable, might well become irrelevant.
In this field it is a practical and immediate step that can be taken, namely, the arrival at Strasbourg this summer of a German delegation to the European Assembly of the Council of Europe. More than two years have passed since the Germans came to the Hague on the invitation of our unofficial European movement. I had an agreeable and, to me, a memorable interview with them. It was there I met Dr. Adenauer, little knowing how soon he would be the German Chancellor at the head of a German Government. Since then great forward steps have been taken. The Council of Europe and the European Assembly are institutions formally and permanently established; young, but august; sustained by many freely elected Parliaments. The presence of Germany in our midst will be an event from which nothing but good can come.
It would be a great pity if doubts and further delays were caused by boggling and haggling, or the drawing up of conditions. I was sorry to see that the Germans had written out a number of conditions on which they would be prepared to join the Council of Europe. That is falling below the level of events.
Many voices are raised of provocation and false counsel on every side. I sincerely hope that Dr. Adenauer will show that the new Germany can rise superior to such distractions, no matter how or whence they come. I am glad to see that there is better news about this today, but I would say to the Germans, "Let it 197 all happen naturally and easily, and you will find that very soon Germany will take her proper pace, and that all questions of legalistic status will cease to be of any importance."
I have one more observation to make about the European Assembly. Substantial results flowed from that Assembly at Strasbourg last year. But the contrast between the activities of the Assembly and the apparent inaction of the Committee of Ministers, has created the impression that the Ministers are not wholehearted in their intention to promote the Union of Europe. Whether this impression is correct or incorrect it is gaining ground, and I say to the right hon. Gentleman, who is off on a journey there tonight, that only some positive unequivocal pronouncement by the Committee of Ministers when it meets next week can undo it. The situation is especially serious because our own position is called in question. It is widely thought on the Continent and in America that the British Government are lacking in zeal for the whole plan—" dragging their feet "is, I believe, the American expression. It is said that on the Committee of Ministers the Foreign Secretary is always amongst those who wish to advance less far and less fast. This is what is widely believed and it tends to weaken our general influence in Europe. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will clear away these misgivings when he speaks this afternoon.
It would certainly be ungracious on my part if I left the subject without acknowledging the services rendered by the recent Colombo Conference in proclaiming that there is no incompatibility or inconsistency between Britain's part in a United Europe and her position as the centre and pivot of the British Empire.
Now I come to the last aspect of what I wish to say. I come to our relations with Soviet Russia. I will begin by stating the reason why I do not believe that another war is imminent or inevitable, and why I believe that we have more time, if we use it wisely, and more hope of warding off that frightful catastrophe from our struggling, ill-informed and almost helpless human race. Here is the reason. There never was a time when the deterrents against war were so strong. If penalties of the most drastic kind can prevent in our civil life crime or folly, 198 then we certainly have them here on a gigantic scale in the affairs of nations. It is extraordinary. The penalties have grown to an extent undreamed of; and at the same time, many of the old incentives which were the cause of the beginning of so many wars, or features in their beginning, have lost their significance. The desire for glory, booty, territory, dynastic or national aggrandisement; hopes of a speedy and splendid victory with all its excitement—and they are all temptations from which even those who only fight for righteous causes are not always exempt—are now superseded by a preliminary stage of measureless agony from which neither side could at present protect itself.
Another world war would begin by both sides suffering as the first step what they dread most. Western Europe would be overrun and Communised, with all that liquidation of the outstanding non-Communist personnel of all classes, of which, I understand, in respect of several countries, elaborate lists have already been prepared—which are, no doubt, kept up to date in those countries by the Communist groups and parties in their midst. That is one side. On the other hand, at the same time, Soviet cities, air fields, oil fields and railway junctions would be annihilated; with possible complete disruption of Kremlin control over the enormous populations who are ruled from Moscow. These fearful cataclysms would be simultaneous, and neither side could at present, or for several years to come, prevent them. Moralists may find it a melancholy thought that peace can find no nobler foundations than mutual terror. But for my part, I shall be content if these foundations are solid, because they will give us the extra time and the new breathing space for the supreme effort which has to be made for a world settlement.
No one need delude himself by underrating the difficulties which stand in the way of a settlement or by closing his eyes to the gulf which yawns between the two worlds, now facing each other, armed and arming, reaching out for agencies which might eventually destroy the human race. As I said at Boston last year, I think it probable that the Soviet Government fear the friendship of the West even more than they do our 199 hostility. The Soviet regime and the lives of its rulers might be imperilled by allowing free, easy and friendly inter-mingling with the outer world. An endless series of quarrels, a vehement and violent antagonism, the consciousness of an outside enemy in the minds of the masses, may be regarded by the Soviet as a necessary precautionary element in maintaining the existence of the Communist power. There indeed is a gloomy thought. There indeed is a reason for fear. But fear must never be allowed to cast out hope.
During the election I was most anxious that the return of a Conservative Government to power, which was a possibility, should not be taken as involving an exacerbation of the already tense situation that exists, and that we should make it clear, above all things, that we should strive faithfully for peace. I also felt, and feel, that we owe it to our consciences, all of us, that no door should be closed which may lead to better prospects. I do not, of course, take an over-sanguine view of the position whatever efforts are made, but it is our Christian duty to try our best. Moreover, the democracies of the West must be constantly convinced that those who lead them do not despair of peace if they are to take even the measures which self-preservation demands in case the worst should come to the worst.
Let me repeat what I said at Edinburgh—only a few lines:I cannot help coming back to this idea of another talk with Soviet Russia upon the highest level. The idea appeals to me of a supreme effort to bridge the gulf between the two worlds so that each can live their life, if not in friendship at least without the hatreds of the cold war.I was answered by the Foreign Secretary that all this was a "stunt." Whatever this American college slang, as I find it is described in the dictionary, may have implied, it did not seem to me completely to dispose of the subject which had been raised. He also said that through the United Nations must be found our only process and resource. But three days later, on 17th February at a Press conference at Lake Success, Mr. Trygve Lie, the Secretary General of U.N.O., said he was in favour of great Power negotiations: 200all the time and on all levels—top level, middle level, and lower level—inside and outside the United Nations. The world would be a lot better today if there had been more real negotiations among the great Powers during the past three years.He added, what we shall all agree:The only people who can rightly judge the timing and form of negotiations and meetings are those who are responsible for conducting the foreign affairs of the countries concerned.We are all agreed, but those who are responsible, as the right hon. Gentleman and his principal colleagues are, must not fail to seize any opportunities. We cannot go on with a policy of hesitation and drift. Every day is precious if the chance occurs.
I have explained this afternoon the arguments on which I base my belief that a further spell of time will be granted to us. Even at the risk of afterwards being reproached for being wrong, I have not hesitated to state my view that it may well be that several years may pass before a war breaks out. I will take the chance of making that remark although I have no special information at my disposal. Certainly we must seek to negotiate from strength and not from weakness. We all agree on that. Certainly we must move hand in hand with our Allies, and above all with the United States, as the right hon. Gentleman has so far done.
We should do well to study the recent and most important announcements on foreign policy by the American Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson, whose gifts and services are so widely recognised. And here let me say how warmly we welcome in this House the news that that great American statesman, Senator Vandenberg, has recovered from his grievous operation and is able to exert again his clarifying and elevating influence on world events. The American people are fortunate in finding so many outstanding figures at a time when they hold the leading place among the nations.
But if there is a breathing space, if there is more time, as I feel and do not hesitate to say, it would be a grave mistake of a different order, perhaps a fatal mistake, to suppose that, even if we have this interlude, it will last for ever, or even last more than a few years. Time and patience, those powerful though not infallible solvents of human difficulties, are not necessarily on our side. When the last Parliament met, I mentioned four years 201 as the period before any other Power but the United States would possess the atomic bomb. That period has already gone by, and our position is definitely worse than it was in this matter both as regards our own safety and as to the conditions which are, I believe, effectively preserving the peace of the world.
There is no doubt now that the passage of time will place these fearful agencies of destruction effectively in Soviet hands, that is to say, where there is no customary, traditional, moral or religious restraint. Of course, there is an interlude between the discovery of the secret and the effective large-scale production of the article, and that also has to be borne in mind. Of course, the United States have their "stock-pile," as it is called, and it will be only by a gradual process that anything similar can be built up in Soviet Russia. The atomic bomb, though preponderating, is only one of the factors in the military situation before us, but it is the dominant factor. If, for instance, the United States had a "stock-pile" of 1,000 atomic bombs—I take the figure as an illustration merely; I have no knowledge of any sort or kind of what they have—and Russia had 50, and we got those 50, fearful experiences, far beyond anything we have ever endured, would be our lot.
Therefore, while I believe there is time for a further effort for a lasting and peaceful settlement, I cannot feel that it is necessarily a long time or that its passage will progressively improve our own security. Above all things, we must not fritter it away. For every reason, therefore, I earnestly hope that we shall hear from the Foreign Secretary a clear exposition of the facts and policy of His Majesty's Government upon matters graver than anything which human history records.
Man in this moment of his history has emerged in greater supremacy over the forces of nature than has ever been dreamed of before. He has it in his power to solve quite easily the problems of material existence. He has conquered the wild beasts, and he has even conquered the insects and the microbes. There lies before him, if he wishes, a golden age of peace and progress. All is in his hand. He has only to conquer his last and worst enemy—himself. With vision, faith and courage, it may still be 202 within our power to win a crowning victory for all.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)
It is not an easy matter to follow the speech to which we have just listened, but I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree with me when I say that, of all the speeches which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has delivered, that which he has give us today was one of his greatest. I think I ought to say that, because I cannot remember any occasion when the right hon. Gentleman was more successful in carrying the House with him and in expressing our thoughts and desires. As he was speaking, my mind went back to the first Foreign Affairs Debate of the last Parliament in 1945. How different the situation was in those days; how we all thought that we might somehow build a peaceful world with all the Great Powers participating in that world. I still remember that one of the most significant features of that Debate was the acceptance by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and by the Foreign Secretary himself, of the idea that peace could not come in the long run unless each nation accepted the surrender of some part of its sovereignty.
Now, the deadlock between the Western world and the Soviet States baffles the statesmen and bewilders the common people all over the world. In spite of the armaments and in spite of the hostility which statesmen so often express, between the common people in every country there is only a deep yearning for peace. As I believe, whether they live in America, Britain, Europe or in the wide spaces of the Soviet Union, the common people everywhere want nothing so much as to live at peace with each other. Yet the sombre fact is, as was apparent from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman and is indeed known to us all, that the great nations of the world are devoting more of their energies and more of their resources to preparations for war than at any previous time in their history. They may call it defence, if they like, but, all the same, it amounts to preparation for war.
The Brussels Pact and the Atlantic Pact, though they may be necessary in the present state of the world, are the 203 measure of the failure of the statesmanship of the different countries of the world to build a world-wide peace. While we may take the view that war in the next few years is not imminent, it is an historical fact that never have there been great armament preparations in modern history, without their leading to war. Sometimes we hear in this House the view that we should make ourselves so strong that no nation will dare to attack us. The history of our times proves the fallacy of that view. The dilemma of Great Britain was stated by Professor Gilbert Murray when writing in "The Times" recently, and quoting a Russia diplomat as saying to him:If you do not re-arm, we shall overrun you with no trouble. If you do re-arm, you will fall into our hands through economic misery.This is the great dilemma in which this country finds itself. In order to break the deadlock of the world and to break out of her own dilemma, we must answer the question of what contribution Britain can make to world peace. What can Britain do? The final decisions are outside per power, but, nevertheless, Britain can make decisions which would safeguard the peace of the world.
I think the first cardinal point of British foreign policy must be to support to the full the United Nations organisation and not to lose faith in it. There are people in certain sections of the community, and even certain hon. Members of this House, who have said from time to time that the United Nations is no good and that the delegations are simply wrangling in the Security Council. I think there is still hope of peace while statesmen are gathered round the council table, even though they are spending their time quarrelling among themselves. It is when they stop quarrelling and stop the argument that war breaks out. The first positive step is to get the Security Council working again. At the moment, the Security Council is paralysed by the deadlock over China.
The British Government have recognised the new revolutionary Government in China, and I think they have acted rightly in doing so, because, after all, recognition of a Government is not and should not be a weapon of policy, but an action based on legal principles and a declaration of existing facts. China has 204 a seat on the Security Council, but it is by a representative of the former Nationalist Government of China that that country is represented, and though that Government is no longer in effective control of the national territory it has the power of the Veto in the Security Council. Though we may regret the fact of the new Government of China, I feel that it is better to press for its admission to the Security Council because the present situation only increases the deadlock on that body.
I come next to the question of the atomic bomb. I feel that the nations can unfortunately only pursue a limited objective. It does not seem at the present time that the surrender of atomic bombs is likely or that destruction of the stockpiles is likely, either. Nor does it seem likely that certain countries will consent to international inspection of their atomic manufacture. As the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has said, the possession of the atomic bomb by the United States is no longer a safeguard for the peace of the world, and it would be very unwise if we assumed that Russia is not manufacturing the atomic bomb. Like other hon. Members of this House, I have no special knowledge of that matter, but I think I can safely say, without any special knowledge, that we should be very unwise to make that assumption.
What can we do with regard to this atomic weapon? My hon. Friends and I placed a Motion on the Order Paper suggesting an international convention to ban the use of the atomic bomb and similar weapons. I know that the value of international conventions prohibiting the use of certain weapons has been doubted, and that there is a strong argument that it is only the fear of retaliation which prevents the use of such horror weapons as poison gas and the atomic bomb. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that, in the past, the mere existence of an international convention between the nations of the world has been a powerful factor in deterring the first use of such a weapon by an aggressor in the initial stage of his attack.
There is no doubt that the Geneva Protocol of 1935, which prohibited the use of gas, and which was ratified by over 30 States, including all the great European Powers, was a powerful de- 205 terrent against the use of gas in the first onrush of the last war. At the very least, such an agreement would, I think, be a positive step forward, and, if it could be reached, might be a basis for further advance. It might contribute—although perhaps only to a small extent—to some feeling of confidence among the great nations. At any rate, it seems to be the only positive step forward which can be achieved at the present time.
The Leader of the Opposition rightly said that never was there a time when the deterrents against war were so strong as at the present time. I think that is true, but I also think that that statement must be qualified by the recognition of the fact that at no time in modern history has the deterrent effect of the weapons of the day prevented an aggressor nation from rushing into war, because the nation which declares war first always thinks that it can overwhelm the other side before being overwhelmed in turn.
I will conclude my remarks by a reference to European unity. The energy that has gone into the movement for European unity and the positive results now being achieved are one of the most hopeful signs of the post-war era. The Leader of the Opposition referred to certain impressions regarding the Committee of Ministers. I think it is also true to say that there is an impression abroad that Great Britain has retarded rather than advanced the cause of European unity. I do not believe that that impression is completely correct. We have been concerned with practical aspects of European unity, and we have taken the leading part in many places for that unity—the Marshall Plan, the Brussels Treaty and the Italian Treaty. But the truth has recently been expressed by M. Spaak, the President of the Assembly, who said in an article in the "Daily Telegraph" that, somehow, Great Britain always seems to be on the side of those who raise objections, who advise prudence, and who damp down enthusiasm. I think it is very difficult to counter that criticism.
To what is that attitude due? It may be due in a very large measure to our relations with the Commonwealth, and it is high time that we honestly faced this question of the relation between a united Europe and the Commonwealth because 206 there is no doubt that it does raise difficulties. It is no use trying to hide that fact. All parties say that there is no conflict between the two allegiances of Britain and the right hon. Gentleman said it again today. That is true in an ultimate sense, but there are immediate difficulties, and merely to repeat that there are no difficulties only makes progress more difficult.
I will give an illustration. The Assembly which met at Strasbourg was agreed that the economic integration of Europe, though necessary, could not go far without the setting up of a political authority with limited functions but real powers. A Committee of the Assembly was set up to report on the changes necessary in Europe's political structure in order to promote closer unity. But that view about European unity and those changes in the political structure of Europe must imply an acceptance by this country of a tie closer to Europe than the loose tie—loose in a constitutional sense, so far as material bonds are concerned—which binds her to the Commonwealth.
There is no doubt that this problem of Great Britain's dual allegiance requires working out, and only this country can work it out. The Continental countries are passionately concerned that we should come into a closer unity in Europe, but their very concern makes them reluctant to put forward positive suggestions in regard to Britain. We should show our enthusiasm for a united Europe by putting forward concrete suggestions how we can reconcile our place in the Commonwealth with our place in Europe.
There is one other aspect of the European movement to which I wish to refer. The field of foreign affairs is so vast that one speaker can only pick out certain outstanding features. I wish to refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations Assembly. It was undoubtedly a landmark in the annals of human freedom, but there was a paradox in that declaration. On the one hand, there was practical unanimity among the members of the United Nations in stressing the importance of the declaration. On the other hand, most of the delegates repudiated the idea that the declaration imposed a binding legal obligation on the member States to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms which it proclaimed.
207 One of the big achievements of the European Assembly at Strasbourg was to draft a convention on Human Rights into which States could enter and thereby guarantee to their citizens certain legal rights. I hope that His Majesty's Government will push ahead with the adoption of this draft convention by all European States, and certainly by all the States of Western Europe. It is natural and proper that Europe should take the lead in thus implementing the Declaration of Human Rights. With all our faults, the rule of law is the most precious part of our European heritage, and in a world where the great struggle emerges more and more clearly as one between tyranny and freedom, the adoption in Europe of a Convention of Human Rights binding on all Governments would uplift the hearts of men and women everywhere.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Younger)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who opened this Debate, began by complaining about the fact that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was not opening the Debate in the first place. I do not think that is a dispute in which I need follow him. I would only say that the speech he subsequently made did not indicate that he felt any embarrassment from the position he was occupying.
I should like to follow the right hon. Gentleman in another respect—in attempting to limit myself to a small number of the numerous important problems which might well deserve the attention of the House. It is always one of the difficulties of any Debate on Foreign Affairs that one gets led into discussing problems in many parts of the world, and there is a temptation to simplify one's task by trying to deal with them in isolation, as if they were all quite separate matters. But today, as I think everyone in the House will recognise, international problems are so interlocked that they cannot be treated in that way. Nor can any international problem in any part of the world be solved without reconciliation of the views of a very considerable number of different Governments and States. It is for this reason that, in reviewing the international scene today, I shall find myself very largely involved in describing the development of a whole series of 208 international organisations and conferences.
I think the first of these should be the Commonwealth Conference at Colombo. Although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford said that he himself would not deal with the problem of the Far East, I think the House would wish to know how matters stand as a result of that Conference.
Then there is a whole series of organisations in the West. There is the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation—which, I hope, the House will allow me from now onwards to call O.E.E.C.—the Atlantic and Brussels Treaty organisations and the Council of Europe. The first thing I would ask the House to note about these bodies is that their work is wholly consistent with the United Nations Charter, although they themselves are not bodies which form part of the United Nations system. They have all been created, from 1947 onwards, to meet a situation in which the non-co-operation of the Soviet Union, both in the United Nations and in the Council of Foreign Ministers, had slowed down the progress of world recovery, and particularly of European recovery, to a complete standstill. Deadlock is most complete in relation to Germany and Austria. I want to say something about Germany a little later in my remarks.
As regards Austria, I only want to emphasise how much we regret that it has not yet been possible to conclude a treaty in respect of Austria, and to say that we will continue to work for Austrian independence in accordance with the Moscow Declaration. In the meantime, I am sure the House would wish to join with me in paying tribute to the patience and steadfastness of the Austrian people in their difficult circumstances, and to express our confidence in the future of a free Austria.
Since 1947, the non-co-operation of the Soviet Union has become more pronounced. It is now virtually world-wide. The countries bordering on the Soviet Union are more and more being withdrawn from general circulation as their domestic purges proceed. In countries outside immediate Soviet influence disruptive tactics are being followed, clearly designed to prevent any part of the world from settling down. All the while the Soviet Union is itself preserving sufficient 209 military potential to cause very natural concern about its intentions to its immediate neighbours and, indeed, to all of us. This tension between East and West is a fundamental fact of the present international situation. It forms an inescapable background to our thinking whether we are dealing with problems of the Far East, the Middle East or of Europe.
As our recent Debate on Defence showed, one consequence has been to impose an additional strain on our resources, which are already sufficiently stretched by the need to carry out domestic reconstruction and, in conjunction with other industrially developed countries, to assist in raising the living standards in more backward areas—a policy which has long been recognised as a condition of stable world peace.
It is no part of my purpose today to magnify, beyond its due significance, the Soviet withdrawal from co-operation and their scarcely veiled hostility to everything we are trying to do. I merely want to state this as a fact of the contemporary scene which, I am afraid, is not to be talked out of existence even by talks at the highest level.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford referred to his previous remarks about high level talks. But he also said that the timing of such talks must be left to those who have the responsibility. It will not have escaped his notice that of those who have that responsibility it is not only those who represent the United Kingdom who have felt that the moment is not now. He will also be aware that talks of that kind are only likely to be successful if there have been adequate preparations. We believe that we can only hope to modify the attitude of the Soviet Union on many of these great problems by the proved success of the efforts we are now making to build up strong communities of free people. Once such communities have faith in their own future then the mirage of a short cut to prosperity on the Communist model ceases to have its appealing power.
It would, however, be quite a mistake to imagine that international co-operation and development is required only as a bulwark against Communism. That would be just as false as to suggest that European recovery is only required to meet the dollar crisis. It is, of course, 210 true that Communist threats and dollar difficulties have served to convince many, who, otherwise, might have remained blind, that national isolationism is now out of date. In that sense they have provided a spur to action, but the basic work of reconstruction and development, whether in South-East Asia, the Middle East, Europe or Africa which is now going on, would be, in any case, an indispensable minimum for our foreign policy even if there were no Iron Curtain and even if the dollar problem were already behind us.
The newest and most striking development in international co-operation since our last Debate is the meeting of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at Colombo. The proposal for this Conference took shape in October, 1948, at a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London, and, but for a further special meeting held in the spring of last year, this Conference might well have been brought forward to an earlier date.
It is a happy augury that the first Commonwealth meeting on foreign affairs should have taken place in Asia, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Ceylon. I should like to quote these words from his opening statement:The particular advantage of holding a conference of this nature in one of the Asian countries of the Commonwealth is that it enables world problems to be examined from the Asian angle. The accession of India, Pakistan and Ceylon has strengthened the influence of the Commonwealth as an instrument for preserving world peace, because the Asian members of the Commonwealth can help their Western partners to see the world as a whole by bringing out in truer perspective those aspects of it which affect Asia most closely.Those words emphasise the fact that the British Commonwealth cuts across continents in a way which makes it a particularly valuable factor in building up world solidarity. The objective of the Conference was to exchange views on world problems, with particular reference to South-East Asia and the possibility of promoting economic development, raising living standards and ensuring political stability.
Agreement was reached on a number of points, and on those action is already under way. The first point was the basic requirements of a peace treaty with Japan. There was no disagreement that an early 211 peace treaty was desirable, or that it should not be a punitive settlement, though there must be guarantees against the revival of Japanese militarism. But the most difficult problem was, on the one hand, to ensure that Japan can stand on her own feet and offer a reasonable livelihood to her people, and, on the other hand, to allay the anxieties of other nations about the impact of unfair Japanese competition based upon low living standards. That is obviously a matter which requires very close study. A working party to carry out that study is being set up in London. The proposed first meeting of that working party will take place, I think—we hope, at any rate—in the latter part of April.
The second point on which agreement was reached was the joint Commonwealth loan to Burma, of which mention has already been made in Debates in this House. That was accepted by the Burma Government only a few days ago. The total of the loan is £6 million and the United Kingdom share of that is £3¾ million. The third point on which there was unanimous agreement was on the need for a concerted plan of economic and social development in South-East Asia. The conference accepted concrete proposals to this end which were sponsored by Mr. Spender on behalf of the Government of Australia.
As a result of those proposals, a Commonwealth consultative committee will meet on 15th May in Sydney. I hope the House will not under-estimate the scale and the complexity of any proposals designed to raise the living standards in so vast and heterogeneous an area as this. We are confident that there will be progress, but I think that it is as well to echo Mr. Spender's own warning thatit is not to be expected that it will achieve spectacular results in a short time.The raising of living standards must inevitably be a long-term project, and, in the short-term, all we can hope for is some alleviation of the worst distress and, in particular, the giving of some hope of future development.
The United Kingdom, of course, will play a full part at the Sydney Conference. There will be a need there both for ministerial guidance and for official work of the very highest quality. It is 212 proposed that the United Kingdom delegation should be led by the Paymaster-General, Lord Macdonald, who will be better known to a number of Members in this House as a former Member for Ince, and he will be supported by the Commissioner General for South-East Asia and by a strong group of officials. Preliminary work for the conference is already under way. It is too soon, of course, to forecast the type of organisation for development for South-East Asia which is likely to emerge from these consultations, but it is hoped that it may be possible for non-Commonwealth countries interested in the area to participate, and we are glad to note already expressions of interest on the part of the United States of America.
In Europe and in the Atlantic area co-operation is, of course, considerably more advanced than in South-East Asia. As the House knows, there are four main organisations which are involved and have become involved since the original speech of General Marshall, in 1947. There was the Brussels Treaty which was signed only just over two years ago. That was quickly followed by the setting up of O.E.E.C., and a year ago that was followed by the Atlantic Treaty. Lastly, comes the Council of Europe which met for the first time last autumn and has been very active in many of its committees since. I do not think the House will wish me to enlarge upon the origins of these bodies which should by now be quite familiar. The only thing I would say is that in judging of the measure of success to which they made claim one should note how very short a time most of them have been in existence. I think one can say that between them they cover every aspect—military, political and social—of the Western European problem.
Before attempting to put my finger upon certain specific results which I think they have already achieved, I would like to refer to one general result which seems to me to be important and full of promise. As a result of the interlocking of all these organisations, there is already growing up a very large body of experts, officials, Ministers and latterly also Parliamentarians, who are becoming accustomed from day to day and from week to week to think beyond their own frontiers who are getting to know their 213 colleagues of other countries, to deal with them with the same problems but seeing them dealt with in a different perspective; are exchanging opinions and, what is probably more important, exchanging information with a frankness and intimacy which would certainly have been unthinkable only a few years ago. The effect of this very widespread co-operation goes far beyond Western Europe itself and includes in particular the United States of America and Canada. The process is continuous and cumulative. I think one of the problems which now faces us in this field is to try to extend the sense of European comradeship into the domain of public opinion where so far the idea has had only a very limited impact.
It is the O.E.E.C. which has been laying the economic foundations for Western co-operation. Its achievement is already far more than the mere distribution of Marshall Aid. Since it was set up early in 1948 there has been a great increase in European production. The dollar deficit has fallen from 8 billion dollars to 41 billion dollars for 1949–50. I think it is reasonable to claim that the United States initiative which was followed up at the American end through the Economic Co-operation Administration, and O.E.E.C. in Europe, has already fulfilled the immediate short-term purpose of staving off collapse. Now we reach a second phase, and we have to look further ahead particularly with a view to creating conditions in which progress can go on after the end of Marshall Aid in 1952.
The emphasis in O.E.E.C. has, therefore, shifted to the liberalisation of European trade and to the creation of a system of European payments. I think Western Europe illustrates very well the impossibility of treating any area, even a considerable area, in isolation. Nearly all the leading members of this group of Western nations have overseas territories to consider, and all of them have old-established ties with the rest of the world. We, above all, as a member of a Commonwealth which spans the world and which includes dollar countries, as, at the same time the centre of the sterling area, and as, perhaps of all countries, the one with the most intimate ties with the United States of America, are compelled to look for a form of co-operation in 214 Europe which will have a genuinely liberating effect and which will not lead to the damming up of existing channels of trade in many parts of the world as the price of liberalisation within the more restricted area of Western Europe.
On defence, in the Five Power Treaty of Brussels the ideas have already broadened out beyond the Western European area itself. They have broadened out into the Atlantic Treaty in which the United States and Canada are both associated. The achievements here are not inconsiderable. I need not go into them in detail. They were mentioned at some length by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence in the recent Defence Debate. There are plans already agreed by the Brussels Powers for Western defence. Military supplies for the first time are now being considered from a European standpoint, and on the basis of the plans that have been agreed the President of the United States has already authorised military assistance to Europe under the United States Mutual Aid Assistance Act.
The financing of this joint defence effort is to be discussed at a meeting of the Consultative Council with the Ministers of Defence and Finance in Brussels in the middle of April.
Finally, of these organisations, there is the Council of Europe. My right hon. Friend is going to Strasbourg tomorrow to attend the Committee of Ministers and, therefore, at this stage of the Debate I propose to say very little about it. I will refer to it a little later, particularly in connection with its relation to Germany.
I hope I have now said enough to show that the foundation of Western unity is being steadily laid. In all the activities I have described the United Kingdom has played a leading part. Our experts have been second to none in the fertility of their ideas, particularly in the economic field. We are quite ready to accept further steps in this matter, but we do want to see our way at each step. We do not believe that the unity of Europe can be achieved by coining slogans or by formulating paper schemes before a practical basis of co-operation has been worked out.
I think the House might like to consider the programme of activity during the very immediate future, which is immense. In the next 10 days we have, first, a meeting 215 of the Anglo-French Joint Economic Committee in London. This was one of the earliest bodies to be set up in Western Europe—before O.E.E.C.—and in mentioning it I should like to express my agreement with what was said by the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition about Anglo-French co-operation being one of the main pillars, if not the main pillar, of co-operation in the whole of Western Europe. Then, still in the same week, we have the first Meeting of an Anglo-Scandinavian Economic Committee, a Committee which has been set up in response to requests from O.E.E.C. for regional associations to deal with liberalisation of payments and of trade. We have the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg, the Defence Ministers under the Atlantic Pact meeting at the Hague and, next week, we have the Council of the O.E.E.C. This is the programme for 10 days only and I think hon. Members in all parts of the House will realise that it is as full a programme of co-operation as could be practically carried out. That is where the work really gets done, and I can assure the House that in meetings of that kind the United Kingdom has at all stages played a leading part.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, a most important aspect of European co-operation is the part to be played by Germany. The basis of His Majesty's Government's present policy is the Petersberg Agreement signed between the three occupying Powers and the Federal German Government on 22nd November last year, just after—two or three days after—the last occasion on which we had a Foreign Affairs Debate in this House. I think I should quote just one or two of the statements made in that Agreement. First of all, it was agreed that:The primary objective is the incorporation of the Federal Republic as a peaceful member of the European community, and to this end German association with the countries of Western Europe in all fields should be diligently pursued by means of her entry into the appropriate international bodies and the exchange of commercial and consular representation with other countries.Again, it was said:The High Commission and the Federal Government are agreed to promote the participation of Germany in all those international organisations through which German experience 216 and support can contribute to the general welfare.That was the policy statement agreed by all at Petersberg. That does not imply that we have given up hope that one day all Germany will be treated as a single unit. What it implies is that for the time being Soviet policy has put that objective outside our power to implement and, therefore, we must immediately make such progress as we can in the West.
We should, I think, realise that the arbitrary division between East and West poses particularly intractable problems for the Federal German Government, more than it does for countries which are not actually divided by the Iron Curtain. There is, first of all, the question of traditional trade outlets which have to be switched from one channel to another. Then there is the vast influx of refugees, with all the consequential difficulties of unemployment and accommodation. There is also the maintenance of the western sectors of Berlin in which, of course, the Western German Government have the fullest support of the Allies but which inevitably places an additional burden upon their economy.
The economic policy to meet these difficulties is, in the main, a German responsibility, but the hard facts must, I believe, be faced in any discussion of the policy of the Western Powers towards Germany. I think the United Kingdom Government cannot be accused of having been unsympathetic to a reasonable restoration of Western German industry, but on this topic it is important that we should keep a level head and not swing from one extreme to another—from the extreme of severity, which was advocated in some quarters shortly after the war, to the other extreme of sentimentality. We and, even more, our friends in Europe are entitled to adequate guarantees against the revival of the German war potential, and until we can be satisfied that Germany is able and willing to take her place as a part of the Western community we do not intend to be stampeded into ill-considered action.
Germany is already participating in the O.E.E.C. Recently she has entered the International Wheat Agreement and we hope that co-operation on economic matters of that kind will steadily grow. Her admission to the Council of Europe, which was referred to by the right hon. 217 Gentleman, is an important question of topical interest, As a result of the decisions of the Committee of Ministers and of the Standing Committee of the Consultative Assembly last November, it has been open to the German Federal Republic as well as, of course, to the Saar, to apply for associate membership of the council. In reaching this decision the Standing Committee stated:It is essential that the German Federal Republic should state that it is willing to abide by the provision of the Statute of the Council and to give clear proof of this desire to do so.So far, no application has been made and the German Government has not felt able to put this matter before the Bundestag. Although we would be very happy to see them take their place in the Council of Europe, we have not sought to influence their decision. It is our view that Germany has very much to gain from association with the Western group of nations, but it is important that in joining the Council she should fully accept the terms of the Statute and all the consequent obligations. In so far as any hesitation on her side may be due to the recent agreements between France and the Saar, we have already stated our view that we consider this difficulty to be unreal.
I appreciate that in speaking as I have spoken today I have failed to cover many problems of high importance, but I have tried to pick out some of the most outstanding examples of the policy we are seeking to pursue throughout the world. The present unhappy division of the world was not of our seeking. We deeply regret it and we must never forget that it is our duty, as loyal members of the United Nations, to promote co-operation on the basis of one world, through United Nations machinery wherever there seems any possibility of progress by that method.
There are many problems which, even now, are being handled by those methods and a measure of success is being achieved. We have, however, been driven by the policies of some of our fellow members in the United Nations to combine with more limited groups of nations who are like-minded with ourselves in order to strengthen and defend the democratic way of life and to try and give a new coherence and vitality to the economic and social life of what we call the free world. That is the purpose of the 218 Atlantic Treaty and of all the constructive efforts which we are now making, both in Europe and in Asia. In our view only the success of this policy offers any hope of the eventual breakdown of the existing barriers and of the renewed application of the principles decided upon at San Francisco upon a world scale.
The community of nations with which we are working has very great resources. It includes some of the most experienced and skilled peoples in Europe, Asia, and America. There is, therefore, I think, no doubt that we can command all the elements needed for success. We need feel no surprise, let alone despondency, if the process of the changes we are trying to bring about sometimes seems laborious. Mr. Hoffman was recently quoted as having said:We want Europe to accomplish in 25 months what might, under less compelling circumstances, easily require 25 years.What is true of Europe is doubly true of many of the less developed areas. We are all trying to telescope history in this way. Indeed, the pace of progress in the technical field demands that we should attempt to move with corresponding speed in our political and social organisation. We have already moved far since the war, and we must keep moving if we are to fit our institutions, both national and international, to the changed needs of the peoples in the modern age.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
The natural diffidence which any man must feel who speaks in this House for the first time is heightened in my case by the apprehension that some of the things I want to say today may be thought more controversial than is becoming in a maiden speech. If so, I can only hope that the sense of deep and urgent conviction which alone leads me to speak today will justify the House in granting me that measure of indulgence which is traditionally accorded to a maiden speaker.
As I see it, the central fact of the international situation today is that we are at war with Communist Russia. It is still a cold war, thank God; but it is a war none the less; and unless we recognise it as such we are unlikely either to secure a satisfactory peace or to prevent it from deteriorating into a shooting war. In these circumstances it seems natural 219 that we on this side of the House should ask the Government to tell us what is their plan, what is their strategy, for the conduct of this cold war. The Minister of State has taken us on a round of interesting and important problems, but I was not myself able to disengage from his speech any coherent plan or strategy for confronting the dangers that loom on the international horizon.
I have heard the Government's policy sometimes described as one of containment—containment of Russia. I confess that it seems to me to be rather stretching the meaning of words to apply the term "containment" to a policy which has already permitted the Sovietisation of half of Europe and the whole of China. Was it containment when we allowed our warships to be mined in the Corfu Channel with impunity, and, four years later, are still awaiting compensation for the deaths of 40 British sailors? Was it containment when we permitted the murder of Petkov, the imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty, and the overthrow of democratic and constitutional life in Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary, in direct contradiction of the armistice terms to which we were a party? Was it containment when we allowed the Czechoslovakian democracy to be overthrown and our friend and ally Mikolajezyk to be driven into exile in direct contradiction of the Yalta Agreement? Was it containment when our Government stood by and did nothing when the Communist armies overran the whole of China, including British interests which, at the present rate of the pound, cannot be valued at much less than £400 million?
It seems to me that the term "containment" is not one which can be applied to the policy which the Government have pursued. At times, indeed, their policy has seemed suspiciously like one of scuttling away from our responsibilities behind a smoke screen of bluster. It may be that the Foreign Secretary has acted in the hope that, if only we could trade space for time and delay bringing matters to a head for long enough, unforeseen developments might divert the Soviet rulers from their aims of world domination. In the past, when we stood at the summit of the world and enjoyed an immense margin of power, there was much to be said for waiting upon events, but today, as the weakest of the three 220 great Powers, we must anticipate events if we are to survive them. By all means let us hope and pray that the Chinese dictator may turn out to be a second Tito, or that there will be a palace revolution in the Kremlin; but to base your policy on the hope that "something will turn up" is to degrade yourself to the level of Mr. Micawber.
Recrimination has its uses if it prevents the repetition of errors, but I do not want to dwell on the errors of the past. Instead, I should like to make one or two constructive proposals about our conduct of the cold war. The first point I wish to make concerns the general defence of Western Europe. I am one of those—and I believe we are a majority on both sides of the House—who believe in the conception of a United Europe, not merely as a means of defence against the Soviet Union but as an end in itself.
Much can be done—something is already being done—to secure European co-operation in the economic sphere; but it seems to me that in present circumstances, in the face of present dangers, there is an even greater opportunity to secure closer European relations, closer European co-operation, in the sphere of defence. For this reason it seems to me to be a matter for regret that the staff set up at Fontainebleau under Lord Montgomery has not yet developed into the supreme command of a genuine European army. No national differences or personal rivalries ought to be allowed to stand in the way of such a development.
The sooner a European army exists the easier it will be to raise those German contingents without which we cannot hope to defend Europe against attack. This whole question of Germany is so intimately bound up with that of the union of Europe, and this union of Europe depends, in turn, so much upon matters of defence that it seems to me a pity that the whole subject of defence should have been excluded from the purview of the Council of Europe. Here is a matter which might well be reconsidered.
The next point which I want to make is this: you cannot win wars, whether they are hot wars or cold wars, by remaining permanently on the defensive. At some point you have to go over to the attack. So far we have followed purely defensive tactics, and the results have not been very encouraging. Surely the time 221 has now come—indeed, is overdue—when we must carry our ideas beyond the Iron Curtain and seek to break the Communist monopoly of Eastern Europe and of China by encouraging opposition, and the setting up of resistance movements, on the other side of the Russian front.
This, after all, is only what the Soviets have been doing for four-and-a-half years in Western Europe and South-Eeast Asia. The Soviet Union has divided Europe and divided Asia by the cold war. We shall only re-unite them if we also take the initiative in the cold war. It will be objected, I know, that such a policy as I describe—one of taking the offensive in the cold war ourselves and building up resistance movements beyond the Iron Curtain—would lead to war. I do not believe it. If Stalin wants war, there will be war; but he is not going to be provoked into starting a war just because we give him a taste of his own medicine.
The truth is that if the Russians have not pressed matters even further than they have it is because they are afraid of a war, and they are afraid of a war because they still believe they would be defeated; and they fear defeat because of their temporary inferiority in atomic weapons. So long, indeed, as the United States had the monopoly of the atomic bomb there was no danger of war at all. The military superiority of the West was absolute. Now, however, that the Russians have also discovered the atomic bomb, that superiority has become merely relative. The Russians may never catch up with the American lead in this one weapon. Equally, it may not be long before their smaller stock of atom bombs matched to an otherwise superior military machine may give them an overall superiority. If that day comes, and please God it never will, it will mean a shooting war.
For some time, however—and, as the Leader of the Opposition indicated, it may be a long time—American atomic supremacy, reinforced by the discovery of the hydrogen bomb, will still stand between the Red Army and the conquest of Western Europe. So long as this situation exists, we can negotiate with the Russians from strength. It must be the task of statesmanship, therefore, to insist upon a settlement with the Soviet Union while there is still time.
222 What should be the conditions of such a settlement; what, in fact, should be our war aims in the cold war? The root of the trouble—the cause of the cold war—lies in the enormous expansion of Russian power. In the past five years, as Commissar Malenkov pointed out in a speech last October, the Soviet rulers have increased the population under their direct or indirect sway from 200 million to 800 million. They have secured the services of German and East European scientists, officers, technicians and skilled workmen. Their resources have been enriched by the addition of Silesian industry, the Skoda works, the Roumanian and Austrian oil wells, the mineral deposits of Poland and the Balkans, the uranium of Saxony and Czechoslovakia, and the coal and iron of Manchuria. If we add to this the strength of the Red Army and the Red Air Force and the subversive power of the Communist parties all over the world, the conclusion to be drawn is that the Soviet rulers already possess so great a strength that, but for their temporary deficiency in atomic power, their dream of world conquest might already be in sight.
In these circumstances, surely, the essential condition of peace must be to reduce the power of Russia within proper bounds. We do not wish, and we cannot want, to dismember the Soviet Union or even to smash her regime. What we do want is to see her power reduced within proper bounds. This means that the Red Army must get back behind the Curzon line and that the monopoly of the Communist parties of the countries of Eastern Europe must be broken. Of course, it is not enough merely to compel the withdrawal of the Russian Armies and to break the monopoly of the Communist parties; we have to fill the vacuum created by the destruction of Germany. We have got to build a Europe, not just the truncated Western Europe of today but a whole Europe which will embrace all the countries which by tradition, by history and by interest look to the West.
How are these aims to be fulfilled? Plainly, the first step must be to convince the Russians that we are determined to accept nothing less than the reunion of Eastern Europe to the body politic of Western Europe as it stands today. This calls for negotiations at the highest possible level. If such negotiations should 223 prosper, they will bring immense blessings to all mankind; if they should fail, then, at least, we should all know where we stood and could make our plans accordingly. Nothing but good, it seems to me, can come from such initiative, and that is why, along with many others, I must join in deploring the action of the Foreign Secretary in describing as a "stunt" the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech at Edinburgh.
The Prime Minister has told us that such negotiations should be conducted through the usual channels: that is the United Nations. But the negotiations with the United Nations have been going on for four-and-a-half years, and they have brought us to the brink of war. There is no more dangerous and perhaps no more fatal error in politics, and especially in foreign affairs, than for a Government or a Minister to remain tied to the carcass of a dead policy.
The Leader of the Opposition, in the first volume of his memoirs, described the Second World War as "the unnecessary war." The war into which the Socialist Government are slowly drifting might be called with equal justice the "inexcusable war." For four years the Foreign Secretary has known the nature of the Russian danger. In association with his American colleagues he has possessed the power to conjure that danger away. So far, he and they have lacked the will to act. Sooner or later—and the time may not be so far removed—he will also lack the power. Such persistence in error is termed by Christian moralists the sin against the Holy Ghost. In the whole catalogue of sins it is the hardest to excuse. All sins, of course, may be forgiven if repentance comes in time, but time is the essence of the situation. Last year, I was discussing these things one day with a friend while walking up and down a garden. We stopped for a moment to look at an old sun dial and on its edge I read this motto, and I commend it to the Foreign Secretary:It is later than you think.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, Northfield)
It gives me great pleasure to extend to the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery) my congratulations 224 on a very interesting maiden speech and one which was excellently delivered. He will not, of course, expect everyone on this side of the House to endorse every word that he said. It used to be a tradition, if I may say this to the hon. Gentleman with friendship, that maiden speeches where not controversial; but the hon. Member, coming into this House after such a controversial father, can hardly be expected to speak without arousing comment. May I say one other thing in relation to his father, and that is that he is greatly revered on these benches for the part he played in the Debate which led to the Labour Party joining the Coalition in 1940 and to the right hon. Gentleman opposite becoming Prime Minister.
I wish to say a few words today upon the main topic which was dealt with by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). It appears to me that time is not on our side. During the last three or four years we have too easily been led into the assumption that the months and years would go by and that during that process we would become stronger. That was a generally accepted assumption throughout the whole of last year, yet the two major events of last year were, first, the Soviet acquisition of China, and secondly, the Soviet development of the atomic bomb.
I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to recognise this fact: that if there were a plebiscite in this country—although we are not in favour of plebiscites—at least 90 per cent. of our people would be in favour of some new approach to this vital issue of the development of weapons of mass destruction. It really has seemed as if we were almost helpless spectators of the last act of a Greek tragedy, with modern industrial civilisation moving to its doom by methods of its own creation. We as human beings, have the opportunity to take an effective part ourselves. I suggest that we must be willing to take risks for peace just as we took risks for war. The greatest risk of all is to do nothing, and at this time we are faced with a situation where, for two years, we have done little or nothing before the United Nations. Some new approach is needed, as has been said by almost every independent expert on the subject, if we are to have any hope of averting what is a manifest drift—we hope not a drift 225 towards war, but nevertheless a manifest drift.
I want to put forward one or two practical considerations. The first is this. I think that we have been far too greatly overshadowed by the United States of America. Although it was vital for the Foreign Secretary to keep the United States of America with us, and although I personally have great admiration for the way he did it, I feel that our point of view is not sufficiently considered. The other day, the Prime Minister quoted a very important book by Dr. Vannevar Bush. In the first place, that book is already out of date because the Soviet Union developed the atomic bomb years before Dr. Vannevar Bush expected them to do so. I can give my right hon. Friend the specific quotations if he wants them; I have them with me. In the second place, the book was manifestly written from the point of view of the United States of America.
Let us at least remember this vital fact. We have at the moment in East Anglia squadrons of American bombers which, to everybody's knowledge, and to the knowledge of the Soviet Union, could carry atomic bombs to Moscow. In other words, we have been willing to accept the position of being the front line of defence in the whole concept of Western Union and American Western Union Defence. Now that is a tremendous contribution upon our part towards this whole cause, and I do not believe that in the defence sphere we have yet received adequate recompense for it from the United States.
I am not putting this forward in any defeatist spirit. While the British Isles are more vulnerable to atomic attack than any country in the world, it is nevertheless true, in my opinion, that the British Commonwealth and Empire as a whole will survive best out of the three major Powers in the event of the appalling catastrophe of an atomic war. We in the British Isles are the most vulnerable country, but the Commonwealth and Empire as a whole is the least vulnerable Power because it is the most widely dispersed. Therefore, we have every right to speak and to expect our views to be heard. The Prime Minister said the other day, when asked about this: "Well, observe what I have done 226 in the past. I was responsible for promoting the Atomic Energy Commission at the conference which I called with President Truman and Mr. Mackenzie King." I think we all agree; but the point is that nothing has been done since the deadlock; and, in fact, the deadlock took place in 1947.
A somewhat embarrassing fact is that the Soviet Union have gone much further in the direction of co-operation in the field of atomic energy than most people appear to realise. I speak as a very strongly anti-Soviet Member of this side of the House, as I think my hon. Friends will agree, but we must tell the truth about this matter because it seems to me vital that we should face it. I have here the exact proposals made on 11th June, 1947, by Mr. Gromyko, and they seem to me to go a very long way indeed. Let me read the first:The mining of raw materials and every stage of atomic production should be under strict international control.That seems a fairly reasonable proposal which could be considered, and which could be a basis for discussion anyway. I do not want to go through them all, but a very important proposal is the seventh:The inspectors"—these are international inspectors—should have the right of free access to all mining and production facilities, and should be allowed to weigh, measure and analyse atomic raw materials and finished products.There are also in the Soviet proposals provisions for what I might describe as snap inspections; that is to say, provided reasonable cause was shown by any Power, under the Soviet proposals it would be possible for the international inspectors to go and inspect factories without prior specific notice having been given to the Power in question.
In other words—it is a most embarrassing fact, but it is so—the main difference between the Soviet Union and ourselves in relation to the proposals of the Soviet Union and the Baruch proposals is this—and it is diverting: that the United States and ourselves insist on absolute internationalisation of all atomic production, and the Soviet Union takes its stand upon national sovereignty and says "We cannot accept anything quite so revolutionary as that." That, in fact, is the 227 main distinction between the United States on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other. I therefore appeal to the Foreign Secretary: Let us face this problem; let us face it with a full knowledge of the facts; and let us face it with less secrecy.
Again, another rather extraordinary fact is that this country, unwittingly, through certain atomic scientists, gave the whole of the secrets to the Soviet Union while we were refraining from giving those secrets to New Zealand, or France, or to our own natural allies. I therefore beg the Foreign Secretary to put the cards on the table face upwards in this matter. For instance, let us know where we stand in relation to the Soviet Union. As my information goes, there was an atomic explosion in the Soviet Union in August of last year, but since then, as I understand it, no atomic explosion has taken place. Now it is most important for us to know what the position is on that. Personally, I share the doubts of some people whether an atomic bomb was developed, and whether it was not a premature atomic explosion. But either way, it is most important for us to know what the facts are.
Surely the history of the pre-war period, to which the hon. Member for Preston North, referred, teaches us how important it was for the public to be properly informed upon vital issues. As it happens, the right hon. Member for Woodford constantly came down to this House, spoke from these benches, and gave facts to the Government, with my right hon. Friend present and sitting on the Opposition Front Bench. Those facts were correct, but they were denied by the Prime Minister of the day, whether it was Mr. Baldwin or Mr. Neville Chamberlain. Now this time, if there is a risk of another war—we all hope that the risk is very small—let us have the facts; and let the facts be brought to the House.
The two possible approaches on this subject are obviously either via the United Nations or the personal approach. I am in favour of the second, but I want to say just two or three words upon each. If the approach is to be made before the United Nations, it seems to me that there must be some basis for believing that it is a new approach. It is no good 228 merely throwing this matter once again to the very able men who have been considering it over the last three or four years, but who have been able to do nothing. It really is no good throwing this matter back to people who have already failed month after month and year after year. It must be brought forward at some dramatic level.
I appreciate that a preliminary to successful drama is extremely hard work, but 99 per cent. of this hard work has already been done. I should say that 80 per cent. of it was done three years ago. Most of the scientists who did it went back to their universities, where they are now working, but they would be willing to be called back for a great, dramatic, hard-working new approach to this subject. I do not know a single newspaper in this country that has argued against a new approach of one kind or another. Over and over again, "The Times," the "Manchester Guardian," the "Daily Herald" and the "News Chronicle" have spoken of an immediate new approach to this subject. I want to know what is being done, because as the right hon. Gentleman quite rightly said, when the Prime Minister was asked the question during the election he said that there was to be a vigorous effort at the United Nations, and when I asked the Foreign Secretary last Wednesday what was being done, his reply was: What is the use of entering into agreements with people when you have no reason to believe that they will keep them.
I accept the fact that the Soviet Union in the past have not shown themselves very anxious to keep agreements, but it is no good going to a conference with anyone on that basis. We have to go on the basis that there are some methods by which we can succeed in persuading the Soviet Union to do what they do not want to do. I was reading quite recently the book by Mr. Stettinius, the Secretary of State at the time of Yalta. It is an interesting book in defence of Yalta. Having read it, I came to the conclusion that although many mistakes were made at Yalta—and many of my hon. Friends, certainly the Minister of Health, took the view at the time that many mistakes were made—President Roosevelt and the right hon. Gentleman did persuade Stalin to agree to certain steps which he did not desire to be taken. I will give only one 229 instance, the proposals for free elections in Poland, which enabled Mikolajczyk, against the wishes of perhaps the majority of the Poles here, to go to Poland as Deputy Prime Minister. All that was part of these very difficult Yalta negotiations. I cannot believe for one moment that Stalin wanted him to go back to Poland, but he was prepared to negotiate. Unfortunately, the book shows that very soon after the end of Yalta he was sending telegrams to President Roosevelt alleging that General Eisenhower in Italy was "ratting" on the agreements which the right hon. Gentleman, President Roosevelt and Stalin had concluded.
It is vital at all times to ensure that our point of view gets home to Stalin himself and is not misrepresented by minions, as the attitude of this country was misrepresented to Hitler by Ribbentrap, and as the attitude of this country has been misrepresented by Soviet ambassadors since 1945. Therefore, surely the vital issue is that we should make a new approach. I am strongly in favour of a personal approach for these reasons. The effective rulers of the Soviet Union are, without any question, the members of the Politbureau. Vyshinsky is not even a member. He is a man of great importance because, as we all know, he developed the technique of the trials which produce confessions. I am not suggesting he is not important, but he is not even a member of the Politbureau.
Therefore, surely it is absolutely vital for us to get at the two or three men who actually control the Soviet Union. We do not get at these men even by conversations through the Russian ambassadors, nor by discussions at the United Nations, which have as their primary object a propaganda value, as the Foreign Secretary has so often said. I quite agree that the dangers are immense of entering into an agreement which the other side will not keep, but the stakes are so great that we must make our moral position unassailable. We must show that we have gone to every length, consistent with honour, to see that an agreement is reached which will help once again to give the world the hope of peace.
I feel most sincerely that the risks of a further drift are greater even than the right hon. Gentleman indicated in his speech. I am somewhat pessimistic about the way in which matters are drift- 230 ing at the moment. I think it is essential—and here I accept the formula—that we should negotiate from strength and not from weakness. I believe we possess that strength today. According to every conceivable scientific estimate, we are still overwhelmingly stronger in atomic and other respects than the Soviet Union; but, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, in another three or four years the Soviet Union will have enough atomic bombs to wipe out every port in this country in advance of the declaration of war. There will be no declaration of war, but the bombs will perhaps be introduced into neutral ships and put over with a time mechanism in our ports at night. It is vital that a settlement should be reached with the Soviet Union before it is too late. I believe that the time factor is against us. I beg my right hon. Friend, in the short time that is available to us all, to reconsider this matter and to make some new gesture, some new approach, which will once again give hope to us all.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
I should like to associate myself with the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Blackburn) in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery), on his admirable maiden speech. I do so rather more gladly because I am a very great admirer of his father, whom we all knew so well and respected so much as a Member of this House. I notice that the hon. Member for Northfield took a somewhat pessimistic view of the situation. He begged us to avail ourselves of the time that is left to us to come to terms with the Soviet Union. He suggested that he preferred it should be done in the way in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) proposed during the election, and that is by personal interviews on the highest level rather than through the United Nations.
I am inclined to think that that is the right way of advancing to some kind of agreement, if it can be arrived at, rather than by the methods that have been tried so far. What is disturbing me at the present time is what I found to be the case during the General Election. My experience was that the mass of our people are failing to appreciate or to take 231 any particular interest in the present state of world affairs. They do not seem to understand that there is the possibility of a happy outcome to the present deadlock. Still less do they visualise the appalling disaster which may lie ahead of us unless we can come to terms with the Russians before it is too late.
I think that the Government are largely to blame for having failed to make the public appreciate the full implications of the present international situation. There was scarcely a word about foreign affairs in their election manifesto, and they did nothing to explain to the people how the present cold war may soon develop into another kind of war.Russia is now,as Field-Marshal Smuts said as long ago as 1943,in a position which no country has ever occupied in the history of Europe.Whether the sweep of Communist expansion, so ominously like that of Hitler, for world domination can be peacefully checked depends primarily on the firmness, the wisdom and the far-sighted intelligence of the United States' foreign policy. It is all very well to say that we are being dragged along by the United States of America, but we must realise that in present conditions the United States are the leading country in the world, and we must more or less be guided by their foreign policy and shape it as far as we can in the way we think best.
More than a century ago the acute and far-seeing French historian de Tocqueville wrote:There are at the present time two great nations of the world … the Russians and the Americans …. The Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends and gives free scope to the unguided strength and commonsense of the people. The Russian centres all the authority of society in a single arm. The principal instrument of the former is freedom, of the latter servitude. Their starting point is different and their courses are not the same. Yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.That was over a hundred years ago, and the situation which de Tocqueville visualised then should be clear to all of us today. Not only is the Soviet Union embarked upon a gigantic project of expansion exceeding anything ever contemplated by the Czars, but it has also 232 initiated all over the world an ideological competition with Anglo-American ways of life. Russia today is a far more potent influence than when the Czars were ruling the country.
There are four main causes of this American-Soviet tension. The first is the belief of the Soviet ruling class that there is an implacable antagonism between the Soviet Union and the foreign capitalist world, and that war, therefore, is inevitable. Then the Americans are tired of the habitual bad faith of the Soviet Government, which has made it so notorious during recent years because of their absorption of other countries and the disregarding of treaties without scruple. Then again there is the employment by the Russians of the Communist Party as fifth columnists to ensure the penetration of their ideas into foreign countries. Lastly, of course, there is the conspicuous inequality which exists today between the amount of knowledge of the world the Soviet citizen has as compared with that of the American.
What are the logical possibilities as regard the situation today? There are three possible solutions of world affairs, any one of which might save us from another great war. First of these seems to be that the Russians may succeed in converting the whole of the rest of the world to their own political ideology. The second is that the Russians may revert from their own accord to capitalism and willingly co-operate with the rest of the world. The third is that each side may concede to the other a definite sphere of influence, so that the world may become divided as it was in the Middle Ages between Christianity and Islam. If, on the other hand, there should be another war there are three further possibilities which have to be considered. The first is that the United States and the Western democracies may be victorious and establish an American world empire and the second is that the U.S.S.R. may be victorious and establish a Communist world empire. Finally, the war may be a draw with neither side winning and merely retiring to lick its wounds until war breaks out again.
Let me take the first of these considerations, namely, that Russia may convert the capitalist world to its own way of thinking. I do not believe there is much chance of that, but it is highly probable 233 that the Soviet rulers may think they can do so and that is why they are waging the cold war. They believe they can achieve their ends without the trouble of fighting, and they are doing it by trying to push their way into every country and to work upon the masses of the population and win them to their own way of thinking. We must remember that the Russian economists are all convinced that sooner or later there must be a tremendous financial collapse in America and in the countries which depend upon American support. Such a collapse would give the Communists the chance to spread their Gospel successfully.
The Soviet Government also believe that by working through the trade unions they may succeed in converting them to Communism. I cannot see any great sign of that in this country at the present time, nor have the Russians been successful in Italy and in France to the extent which they anticipated. Nevertheless it may well be that they still think they can achieve their ends by peaceful methods. As to converting the Russians to capitalism, we need not consider such a thing, at any rate so long as the present set-up exists in Moscow.
The third possibility which, if adopted, might possibly save us from war for a long time, the conceding of a sphere of influence to the East and a sphere of influence to the West and keeping them separate and apart, might be the effective method. There are indeed some serious thinkers at the present time who believe that this is the only sane policy which can be adopted. I myself think that the shaping of the frontiers and other matters connected with trade, and the partitioning of Germany, China and Persia, would make it an impossible task to bring about that form of ending the present deadlock. It would certainly be a very arduous task for U.N.O.
What would happen if the Americans went to war? I understand that the general opinion in America is that there will be a war and that it will end in an American victory. But even if the war were won by the Americans it would probably entail the temporary occupation of the European continent by the Russians, which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said, would mean that the whole bourgeois population would be massacred or sent to 234 Siberia, and it would also entail vast dangers to the people of this country for, as the hon. Member for Northfield said, we are now in the front line of any war between America and the Russians.
If this proved to be the case, the Americans would presumably establish a military government of the world and dictate the terms of the treaty of peace. This might ensure a long period of peace. If, on the other hand, the Russians were to win the war, it would lead to the establishment of a Communist form of government throughout the world. The only hope for any of us then would be to die as soon as possible for it would mean the end of freedom for us all. If that great war ended in a draw, it would be the most terrible possibility of all. If the war came soon, it might not destroy our civilisation, but if it were long drawn out it might well be the end not only of civilisation but also of the world. If there were bacteriological warfare, no scientist would venture to prophesy what calamities it might not entail.
The only possible way of avoiding war between America and the Russians is to make it obvious to the Russians that they cannot be victorious. The Marshall Plan, combined with Western Union and the Atlantic Pact, give us the best hope of doing this, as well as of bringing victory to the West in the event of war. But it is a difficult task to make the Russians realise that they can be defeated in war. It may be that nothing can turn them from carrying on with their policy and yet to me one step seems to be advisable. It is for Great Britain and the United States of America jointly to inform the Russian Government as well as the Governments of the Balkan States, particularly those coterminous with Greece, that any further breach of treaty will be considered a casus belli, and so will any further political coup such as occurred in Czechoslovakia. It may be too late to save Finland, but it is not too late to save the other Scandinavian countries, Austria, and Western Germany.
The object of our policy, therefore, must be to make the Russians realise that we mean business. I am quite certain that it is no good drifting along as we are drifting today. I urge that the right policy is to face calmly the grim factors of the international situation and to prepare for the worst. The general 235 policy of forming a Western Union is right, but it should be pursued more speedily and wholeheartedly. If it is to be successful and restore a more balanced equilibrium in Europe it must include Western Germany. There must be complete military and economic co-operation among the various States in the Union. We and they must be made to realise that without such co-operation there is little or no hope of escape from the destruction of Europe if war should come.
Collective security must be a reality, and not merely a deceptive misnomer as it was before 1939. In declaring my hope and belief that what the Leader of the Opposition said may turn out to be true and that there is still time in which to prepare for all eventualities, I would add that I am glad to know that he, with his vast experience, is as optimistic as he has declared himself to be in his speech this afternoon.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkinson (Taunton)
This is the first time I have had the honour of addressing this House and I therefore ask hon. Members to accord to me the indulgence which they always so courteously grant to newcomers. I propose to address myself to one aspect, possibly the most important aspect, of the cold war. I refer to the struggle between the Western democracies on the one hand and Soviet Russia on the other, over the future of Germany. Whatever may be the dangers in South-East Asia and the Middle East, I think there is no doubt that the greatest threat to peace today lies in the existence of two German States incorporated in two hostile political systems. The danger, and if it were not so tragic the absurdity, of the situation can be seen in an extreme form in Berlin.
The United States Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson, put the point very clearly when, in his recent speech in California, he laid down seven principles for the relaxation of tension with Soviet Russia. He put forward the following proposition: that Germany should be unified under a government chosen in free elections under international observation. This, he suggested, would be followed by a treaty of peace. This theme was taken up a few days later by Dr. Adenauer, and it is one to which I think we can all subscribe in 236 principle. Whether it is to succeed or not will depend upon how it is applied.
The immediate reaction of the Government of the Eastern zone, presumably acting under the orders of Moscow, was one of hostility. This was perhaps natural, as the proposition, coming both from the United States Secretariat and Dr. Adenauer, removed one of the main weapons in the armoury of propaganda of the Communists in the Eastern zone. It does not mean that the proposal has been finally rejected. The Russians have for a long time toyed with the idea of a general withdrawal of occupation troops from Germany. They may decide that it would be worth their while to agree to the election of a government of a unified Germany, even if they did not like that Government or like the constitution under which it was set up. They would probably hope that the way would then be open for carrying out the so-called neutrality policy which many leading Germans on both sides of the Iron Curtain have favoured.
I venture to suggest to the House that if this policy were adopted we should get the worst of all worlds. Germany would be in a position to play one group off against another. She would become a happy hunting ground for Communist propagandists. Moreover, unless the Western German Government were first provided with strong and well-equipped police forces, she would become the prey of the well-armed Volkspolizei now existing in Eastern Germany. Finally, it would mean the end of any plan for admitting Germany into the Council of Europe. For those reasons, a united Germany could not be allowed to remain in a vacuum.
But if that is so, what is the alternative? In the first place, any proposal for unifying Germany must wait until after the admission of Germany to the Council of Europe. That must be the first step. I hope, as my right hon. Friend has said this afternoon, that it will be possible so to arrange matters that Germany is admitted as an associate member at the forthcoming meeting of the Committee of Ministers this week and can take her place at the Assembly at Strasbourg this summer. I hope also that Dr. Adenauer will not insist upon the conditions which he has announced as pre-requisite for German membership. The first two are 237 purely formal. The third, namely, that Germany's status as an associate member should be of short duration and that meanwhile she should be given an observer on the Committee of Ministers, seems to me a different matter.
Until Germany has full control of her own foreign relations, she certainly cannot be admitted as a full member. To change this would involve an alteration of the Occupation Statute or the conclusion of a peace treaty. As regards the question of an observer, this appears to me to be simply an attempt to get round the terms of the Statute. I see no reason either to yield to German political pressure in this respect or to run after her, and I think this proposal should be resisted.
Once the Federal German Republic is admitted to the European Assembly, the way will be open for discussions on the proposals which Mr. Acheson and Dr. Adenauer have put forward for the unification of the country. I will not attempt to go into this today, because it is a long and complicated problem. But if the prodigious difficulties which undoubtedly exist could be overcome, we should then be faced with the possibility of a peace treaty, and the moment we get a peace treaty the question of German defence automatically arises. We are then faced with the question either of leaving Germany as a neutral vacuum or of arranging some form of defence system for her. I believe that a vacuum would be wrong and dangerous, and I have no doubt whatever that the only way is to incorporate Germany in some form of global European defence system.
Whether we like it or not, the Statute of Europe will eventually have to be altered so as to include defence. Once Germany has a peace treaty, it is only by providing defence on a European basis that the burden of cost and manpower will fall fairly on all those who are benefiting from it. Any such proposal must, of course, depend on removing the fears and suspicions of France. I believe, with my right hon. Friend, that there is a real opportunity today to wipe out the bitterness that four German invasions of France have left behind them. I believe that, with the support of the United States and with the close alliance of this country, France can afford to contemplate and even to welcome the 238 presence of Germany playing her full part in the Council of Europe.
But the Council itself, it seems to me, cannot succeed unless there is unreserved British participation. It is not only a question of our endorsing or carrying out the recommendations made at the Assembly last year. A new attitude of mind towards the Council is wanted. The Council of Europe is a living force which must be accepted and supported by all its members not only in the letter but in the spirit.
The difficulties of European economic integration and co-operation are, of course, very great. The political problems are perhaps still greater. They have to be met and overcome. We have often been told that the bar to full British participation in the Council of Europe is the fact that we are an Imperial Power. I do not believe that this is the case. Dominions statesmen throughout the world have made it quite clear that they understand the importance of European unity. Just as the United States now realise that they cannot a second time divorce themselves from Europe, so our own kith and kin in the Commonwealth understand that it is the failure of Europe to resolve her own problems which has brought their sons over here to fight and die twice in a generation.
Therefore, anything that we can do to build up in Europe a system which will not only preserve peace but will extend the possibility of economic development for the Dominions themselves will be greeted by them with acclamation. It must be our task to associate our partners overseas in the work we are doing in Europe. It is the surest foundation of peace. I am convinced that the whole of Europe is waiting today for a lead from this country, as indeed they have been waiting for five years. We must not let this opportunity slip through our hands. I think it needs only imagination and courage for Britain, already the leader of a united Commonwealth, to become the leader of a united Europe and perhaps one day of a united world.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, North)
I am delighted to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Hopkinson) and of congratulating him on his eloquent and well-informed 239 speech. He has, as we know, for many years been at the heart of public affairs. Indeed, it was only last year that I saw him at Strasbourg acting in an advisory capacity to the Conservative representatives. It is because he has had that particular experience that I am sure he will be able in future to make the same kind of contribution to our Debates as he has so successfully made in his maiden speech today.
At Strasbourg last year I was one of those who at an early stage advocated the entry of Western Germany into the Council of Europe, and therefore I hope that I shall not be charged this afternoon with lack of sympathy with the idea of reconciliation between Germany, France and ourselves if I submit a few reservations about what was said earlier today by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I entirely agree with him that what we must have as soon as possible is a Germany working in peaceful co-operation with her neighbours in the interests both of herself and of Europe as a whole; but at the same time we must be careful that in making arrangements with Western Germany as it exists today, we are making arrangements which will be durable and of lasting benefit not only to ourselves and to Germany but to all those neighbours of Germany who in the past have had so much bitter experience of German aggression.
The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) quoted earlier what General de Gaulle said about the prospect of reconciliation and peace with Germany. I hope he has also read what M. Schumann said when he spoke to the executive committee of the M.R.P. only a couple of days ago. With reference to reconciliation with Germany, he said:Il ne faut pas brûler les étapes.If I may translate that freely, it means, as hon. Gentlemen will know, that we must not proceed too quickly. M. Schumann was very cautious in making his submissions about the question of the future relations of France and Germany. He was extremely reticent about Herr Adenauer's proposal for a German-French union because he wanted to know whether Herr Adenauer really spoke for any large section of German opinion when he advocated union between the 240 two countries. We, too, ought to be very careful when we consider the future relations of Britain, France and Germany to make sure that we have something which is a reality and not merely something which we would like to see but which has no basis at all in fact. After all, the time may come when future German Governments will be only too anxious to renounce those decisions which Herr Adenauer has made which may have brought Germany immediate benefit but which, for the sake of her future interests, she may be only too willing to deny subsequently.
I said originally that I would like to see Germany admitted as soon as possible into the Council of Europe, and admitted unconditionally; but I hope that the initiative in this matter will come from Western Germany and that Herr Adenauer will not insist on the condition, which he appears already to have laid down, that before Western Germany will enter into the Council of Europe she must have an invitation in writing.
The right hon. Member for Woodford has spoken of the need to allow Western Germany to put her military forces or her manpower at the disposal of Western Europe. It is true that in Western Germany today there is the deepest anxiety about security against Russian aggression. The Germans are anxious about their future, but that does not mean that they would be willing to act as the mercenaries of Western Europe even in resisting the forces from the East. Not only is it undignified from a national point of view that the members of a proud and ancient race should have to act as mercenaries for an authority over which they have no practical control but, even if we can assume that the Germans would be ready to serve the defence of Western Europe in this way, it is quite clear that if we encourage the building up of trained cadres of German troops, the time may well come when those troops will turn on those who have trained them. There is absolutely no guarantee that in building up the military strength of Western Germany we shall not be building up forces which ultimately may rend those who made them.
Indeed, if we look at the traditional strategic conception of German militarism, we find it has always been the belief in Germany that an alliance 241 of German manpower, of German military skill and courage and the economic resources of Russia would be sufficient to dominate the world. If we create that military force, of which the Leader of the Opposition has spoken before, there is no guarantee that such a force at some future date would not ally herself with Russia to the detriment of the rest of the world. That is something we have to bear in mind.
Further, we have also to consider the question of whether the Germans themselves are prepared at present to burden themselves with the responsibility and the cost of a military force. May I quote a letter addressed to a German magazine called "Der Spiegel" published only the other day? The writer of the letter, who, from its context, is certainly no Communist, says:Let us raise 30 divisions—but divisions which will serve the rebuilding of Germany. Let their Panzers be cranes, their infantry be builders, their generals be engineers and architects.That is the attitude of large numbers of Germans today who believe that, in view of all the economic difficulties from which Germany is suffering, she should not have to endure the further burden of a military force, and would much prefer that the resources which would be put at the disposal of a military force should be put at her disposal for the peaceful reconstruction of Germany.
I have said before that I am in favour of the adherence of Germany to the Council of Europe but we ought to be clear that the political adherence of Western Germany is not enough by any means to solve the problems of Western Europe. Those problems are today what they have been for many years, economic problems. The existing dispute between Western Germany and France about the Saar is essentially an economic dispute. Although France has insisted that the Saar should be admitted into the Council of Europe as a quid pro quo for the admission of Western Germany into the Council of Europe, and although that insistence has been intended primarily to soothe the susceptibilities of Frenchmen who are afraid of or who dislike the admission of Western Germany into an international organisation without some obvious corresponding benefit for 242 France—despite the fact that a bargain has been made, the real difference between France and Germany about the Saar is an economic one.
The French are anxious to obtain the whole of the Saar because they realise that unless they can marry the coal of the Saar with the ore of Lorraine, their steel industry will not have the means of production essential for its vitality. The Germans, for their part, resent intensely that in the Ruhr there should be an international authority while the other parts of the great nexus of industry—the Saar, Lorraine, the south-east basin of Belgium—remain under private control and are able to pursue their own policies.
I come to the point therefore that what is required in Europe if Western Europe is to be strong is the integration of the economy of Western Europe. "Integration" is a jargon word which has been much misapplied in the last year or two. Americans have been coming over—American officials in particular—urging Western Europe to integrate, but what many of them have been putting forward is the reverse of integration. Americans at international conferences, in defining what they meant by integration, have said that they meant the complete liberalisation of Western European economy. We all know that once there is complete liberalisation, once there is that completely free competition which the Americans would like to see in Europe, we would have not the integration of European economy but rather its fragmentation. If, instead of those great areas of productive industry, such as the Saar and the Ruhr, pursuing a common European policy, there is this so-called free competition, there will be both political and economic harm to Western Europe.
One of the main objectives of the Council of Europe at its next meeting must be to set up European institutions which will be not only the best functional means of producing the greatest economic benefit for Europe, but which will also have the effect of knitting together those countries of Western Europe which today are mutually hostile and, what is more, hostile because they are economic competitors.
For the last five years we have been in the dilemma that in order to build up and to raise Germany from the condition 243 of defeat, we have had simultaneously to build up against ourselves a most serious competitor. Now that the sellers' market is coming to an end, we are beginning to realise how, in building up German industry quite independently of our own and that of France and Belgium, we have ourselves raised up a competitor who, particularly in manufactured goods, is likely to do Britain and her Allies great harm in the coming months and years unless we do something really to integrate the economies of the countries of Western Europe. I do not want now to give numerous examples because this is not primarily an economic Debate, but everyone knows that in Germany the machine tool industry, the motor industry and the engineering industries, stimulated by capital from abroad, paying wages which are below the trade union rates in this country, are entering the markets of the world as most serious competitors of British industry.
I have always maintained in this House that I want to see Germany standing on her feet, prosperous, with her people enjoying a high standard of life. To me, however, it seems quite clear that if Western Germany is to be made viable by means of her export trade under the present dispensation, it can only be made viable, and a high standard of life for her people can only be achieved, at the expense of the standard of life of the people of Britain, France and Belgium now in competition with Western Germany.
The question remains, therefore—is there something which can be done in order to co-ordinate the economies of the countries of Western Europe? I submit that what can be done is something which has in the past been urged on all sides of the House, and notably by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), whom I see in his place. It is quite clear that one of the first things we must do is to plan the capital investment of Western Europe, and the only way in which that can be done effectively is by having it planned under a suitable European authority.
§ Mr. Edelman
So far the only authority, or at least the only body which exists, 244 which is potentially capable of preparing the plan of investment for Western Europe as a whole is the Council of Europe, which I hope in the very near future will be strengthened and fortified by an addition of power.
The second thing which the Council of Europe must seek to do is to try to achieve some division of labour as between the different countries of Europe. One of the greatest difficulties which we in Western Europe face today, particularly following the partition of Europe through Russian intransigence, is that we all are trying to make similar products and to sell them in identical markets. If we continue to pursue this course, the benefit of some can only be achieved to the detriment of others. Therefore the only way in which we really can use the total productive effort of Europe as a whole is if all the countries concerned, under the aegis of the Council of Europe, using their professional associations, whether of employers, trade unions or technicians, and preferably of all in combination, get together and work out a plan for the whole of Western Europe which will permit of specialisation, will encourage standardisation and will enable all of us to produce what we can and to sell our products in markets, not in competition with each other, but by agreement with each other.
I do not myself believe that it will be possible in the near future to attribute to any European authority any substantial part of our sovereign power. I believe that our planning in the West must be planning by consent. If we look at the picture of Eastern Europe, where an Eastern union has been effectively formed, we find there that the Soviet Union by its autocratic power has been able to co-ordinate the economies of the countries of Eastern Europe simply by telling them what they must do. We in the West neither want to, nor can we, follow that policy. Our planning can only come by means of an agreement.
I want therefore this afternoon to assert what the Labour representatives at Strasbourg asserted last year, an assertion for which, incidentally, they were much misrepresented. It is that while we believe in the co-ordination and the integration of Western Europe, we believe that that integration can only come about by agreement between the countries concerned. 245 We do not wish to attribute any of our national Sovereign Power, at this stage, at any rate, to any super-national European authority which will be able to dictate to us in this country what we should do.
It was for that reason that Britain, through her Labour representatives, was accused of dragging her feet and of not being enthusiastic about the conception of Western Europe, but it is precisely because we were then, and still are, enthusiastic about the idea of Western European integration that we want it to be effective. We do not, and did not at that time, want to deal with an ideal pattern for Western Europe which could not be realised. What we wanted to see was the steady building up by agreement of a system of planned economic co-operation which would, in fact, be effective.
Before I conclude I want to say one word about the relations of Britain with Europe and the Commonwealth. I do not for one moment believe that there is anything inconsistent between the idea of a United Europe and Britain's having strong relations with the Commonwealth. Britain and the Commonwealth together with France and the Union Française, form two great areas of power which guarantee the efficacy of Western Union. We are not complete in Western Europe in ourselves. We will always depend on our access to the markets of the world, and in particular to the markets of those territories associated with the major countries in the Council of Europe.
I emphasise again, therefore, that the conception of a United Europe is in no way inconsistent with the idea of Commonwealth or Empire. By our associations with Europe, the Commonwealth, and the territories overseas of our Allies, we have a great accretion of power. With that power we can confront the Soviet Union and thus not only preserve peace, but also build up the whole of Europe and the countries associated with us for our collective prosperity.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
As the first speaker on this side of the House after the admirable maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Hopkinson), may I add my con- 246 gratulations to him? The Minister of State earlier in the Debate said that in the free Parliaments of the world we have now Parliamentarians who can think beyond their own countries. Doubtless in the coming months, we shall have difficult situations discussed in this House, and therefore we shall be fortunate to have the presence of the hon. Member for Taunton, who can give us the benefit of much experience and much good advice.
The hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman), said that we should proceed slowly when we consider Germany. I imagine he conceived that Germany might follow the traditional policy of Bismarck of playing off the East against the West and the West against the East. But that is only likely to happen if Germany is left alone in the centre of Europe. If the economic interests of Germany are tied to the West, she is more likely to fit in the structure of Western Europe.
Popular opinion supports the idea of hon. Members delivering their maiden speeches, suffering excruciating tortures of nerves, but I submit that an old and battered "maiden "such as myself has lost none of his initial nervousness. I had armed myself in fact with a small bag of sugar, carefully accumulated over the week-end, to sustain my nervous energies. We are told that sugar transforms itself into energy within 20 minutes and I had been trying to make a careful calculation when to pop the last bit of sugar into my mouth in order to obtain the maximum nervous energy when I was fortunate enough to catch your eye. Mr. Speaker.
When we consider questions of foreign policy, we should first ask ourselves what is the objective of our foreign policy. Is it peace? Is it security? I believe the objective of our foreign policy today transcends both these. It is nothing less than the defence and maintenance of the democratic way of life. We believe that the democratic way of life provides the one and only political climate in which men and women can grow as individuals, develop their talents and thereby help the progress of the world. I believe that experience teaches us that the nations which have longest influenced the course of events and maintained their power have done so not merely by exercising 247 material power, but, above all, moral power.
If we look at the history of Rome, we see that the sea command of the Mediterranean fortresses along the frontiers were the material supports of Roman power, but Rome enjoyed the loyalty of her subjects for centuries, for she employed moral power in the rule of law which prevailed in her dominions. Was not the same fact likewise true of our own power in the 19th century—command of the seas, fortresses on the trade routes, and an army which was a mere police force in outlying areas? These were the slender supports which maintained the Pax Britannica, but at the same time we exercised moral power because our statesmen everywhere allied themselves with the rising forces of democracy in Greece, Italy and South America.
I believe that more than ever today, if we assume that our chief objective is the maintenance of the democratic way of life, that material and moral power must be mobilised as fully as possible. After all, we the democracies can offer the nations far more than the Communists. The Communists can only offer the peoples of the world the position of slavish satellites, but we can offer the nations of the world freedom and nationhood if they remain inside the democratic group. That is understood in Europe, but not so much in Asia, where the newly-emancipated peoples have often been all too glad to see the occupation troops disappear round the bend of the road; but unless defences are organised, that road will not long remain empty. Very soon those peoples may see tanks marked with the hammer and sickle, followed by the police vans of the secret police.
If we assume that our objective is the defence of the democratic way of life, we should once again make plain to the world, if necessary in the form of a solemn charter, that liberty and nationhood can only be achieved by the nations of the world if they combine in defence and freedom. It is all very well to talk of defence of freedom, but what about the defences which are to support freedom? May I make a suggestion? During the course of the last war two sovereign Powers, the United States and Great Britain, freely entered into an agreement for the lease of bases to protect the Eastern 248 seaboard of America and the approaches to the Panama Canal. Would it not be possible to persuade, say, the peoples of the East to lease bases, not to a former occupying Power, but to the free people of the world. Unless some form of defence is organised we shall see the Communists taking the rubber and tin of Malaya and the rice bowl of Burma, and not only will the economy of the West receive a mortal blow, but Asia can also be held to ransom by starvation?
Do not our interests in the Middle East also suggest that we should support Turkey? The Middle East is vital to the free democracies, because it is the area of oil, which drives our aeroplanes, ships and tractors. It will remain so until the time comes when in the atomic age, a small amount of energy can drive the "Flying Scotsman" from London to Edinburgh. I therefore trust that His Majesty's Government will at all times support Turkey to the fullness of their power.
Finally, I come to the West. It seems that one over-riding problem confronts us in the West—one over-riding weakness. It is lack of defence in depth. For centuries this weakness has haunted the imagination of French statesmen. General De Gaulle summed up the weakness in a most vivid passage when he said:A single reverse at the source of the Oise and the Louvre is within gun range. Had the Mediterranean been solid ground, instead of water, and had the French Armies, after the initial disaster, been able to retreat to Algiers, they might have been able to recover their fortunes as did the Russian Armies after the German attack.Unless we can assure the people of Europe that help will be speedy, they will lack the will to resist. If they feel that Europe can only be defended from the Channel and from the Pyrenees and only re-conquered after its main cities have been blasted by atomic explosions and its leading men murdered behind the barbed wire of concentration camps, resistance will not be great in the hard days when the Communists come. It is vital for us to assure Europe of quick help and of our intention to defend it on the line of the Rhine and the Elbe. I do not believe that France can maintain a defence in depth without the agreement of Germany. I know that hon. Members opposite for a time favoured a third group which would mediate between Russia and the United States of America, 249 but in that one thing would happen—Germany would certainly dominate such a group. The solution of the German problem can only be found by integrating Germany into Western Europe and allowing her an honourable living as a partner, where formerly she tried to be master.
I submit these few conclusions: that the objective of our foreign policy is first and foremost the defence and maintenance of the democratic way of life; that in order to do this effectively we must mobilise both moral and material power—that we can offer more than the Communists, namely, liberty and nationhood to the free peoples; that the free peoples must band together to defend themselves; that Turkey must be maintained in the Middle East; that Europe be given an assurance of speedy help and reinforcement; and that in the framework of the Atlantic Treaty alone shall we solve the feud of Gaul and Teuton which has harassed Europe for a thousand years.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Winterbottom (Nottingham, Central)
As is usual and very necessary when making a maiden speech, I ask the indulgence of the House for any shortcomings of mine in matter or delivery. I do so on this occasion in a particularly heartfelt manner because I am taking the opportunity given by this Debate on Foreign Affairs to speak on Germany. In doing so I know that I am entering difficult and dangerous territory. For that reason I thought carefully before I decided to speak. I asked myself what value any comments of mine might have. I decided, because whatever is said in this House affects public opinion to a greater or lesser degree according to the calibre of the speaker, and because I consider it desirable, having some direct personal knowledge of Germany, that some warning ought to be given of the problems which will be created by Germany's political and economic resurgence.
Germany's impact on the balance of power will shortly be positive rather than negative. She will soon pursue an active policy of her own rather than be the passive object of the policy of the Allies. The problems created by this change in the situation of Germany are of course manifold, but three of them strike me as being outstanding. The first of those problems is that of the German refugees 250 and their longing to return to their homeland. The second problem that faces us is that of uniting the 20 million Germans in the east with the 40 million in the west. Thirdly, there remains the whole problem of how Germany will feel herself once Marshall Aid has come to an end. All these may seem to be problems of German domestic policy, but according to whether or not they are successfully solved will depend the sincerity and duration of Germany's membership of any European organisation which she may enter.
The first problem, that of the refugees, is well known to us all. There are the 11 million who were expelled at the end of the war, after Potsdam, from Poland and Czechoslovakia, of whom six and a half million arrived in the Western zones, into bomb shattered territory, on foot, carrying only such of their belongings as they could bring with them personally. Of course, these people replaced in part the casualties of the war but to this day a large section of them are either unemployed or have not yet been absorbed into the community in which they have found themselves. To this dissatisfied and unabsorbed element are added day by day the thousands of true political refugees and of young men fleeing from the press gangs of the Eastern zone. We have just recently seen the arrival at the zonal frontier of the first members of the new wave of nearly a quarter of a million expellees who are expected to come from Poland. Altogether these people are reaching the frontier at the rate of about 25,000 a month.
The present total refugee population of Western Germany, according to the latest figures, is about nine million, which is more than the whole population of Belgium. As these refugees come into Germany they swell the large pool of unemployed which exists in Western Germany. Last year the responsibility for refugees passed into German hands, and a certain easing of the plight of these people should now be possible now that Germany can bring into effect a nation wide policy for their redistribution and the equalisation of the burdens which their maintenance puts on the State.
That, however, is not the point I wish to make. It is my opinion that while the resettlement and re-employment of the German refugees may be capable of a 251 purely technical solution, the problem that will plague us for the next three generations will be that of the damage inflicted to German national pride by the loss of territory beyond the Oder-Neisse line and the unceasing drive of the refugees to return to what they persist in regarding as their homeland. In his inaugural address to the new Federal Parliament at Bonn, Herr Adenauer last year declared that Germany could not accept the Oder-Neisse line as its eastern border. This declaration was cheered by all the German Deputies, with the exception, of course, of the Communists.
What to my mind is more significant still is that there are many honest hardworking men among the refugees, even those who have found a new job and adequate accommodation, who are still taking what steps they can to keep alive the hope of a return to their homeland. I know one simple East Prussian gardener who gathers his family round him every Saturday and tells his children tales of his abandoned homeland so that they will never forget the homeland from which they have been driven. The history of Europe is filled with records of the surgical shock which follows upon amputation of territory from a nation. To mention only two, I would remind the House of the cases of Alsace-Lorraine and in particular of South Schleswig, where even now, 84 years after its annexation by Prussia, and after a plebiscite in 1920 which came down definitely in Germany's favour, the matter has not been allowed to rest. Denmark has in the last few years been pressing for at least a plebiscite on the subject of the return of this province.
If this campaigning spirit can be kept alive for so long in Denmark, it will last at least as long in Germany, where its fuel will be not only national pride but the pressing needs of the refugee population. At the moment the political activities of the refugees are still Allied controlled. When that control is lifted the results are bound to be unsettling. Poverty breeds political ferment, and while because of their personal experience the great majority of these people will probably be immune to Communism, they will be only too ready to enter any organisation which will promise to them a return to their homeland and an 252 alleviation of their lot. They will therefore, remain a danger for many decades. These refugees are and will remain a danger to the young German Republic and to the peace of Europe probably for our lifetime.
The second main problem which I think we must discuss is the reunion of the Russian zone with the Western zones of Germany. This partition of Germany differs in nature from the separation of the Eastern territories beyond the Oder-Neisse line. Those territories, systematically emptied of their German population, are now being peopled with Polish families, but in the Russian zone no such exchange of population has taken place. The inter-zonal frontier is not a natural boundary, it is a purely artificial line on either side of which the same language is spoken and the same customs prevail; and although it is supposed by the Russians to separate two cultures, in fact it does nothing of the sort.
On the contrary, by focusing attention on its problems it accentuates the differences between East and West. In the long run, one of these cultures must attract the other to it; and our purpose must be to secure that our culture is the stronger and that it attracts the Eastern zone to us. This it will only do if we in the West produce a society which gives its citizens a greater degree of prosperity, security and social justice; and furthermore, if we ensure that the knowledge of the existence of this better society is sufficiently widespread to overcome all propaganda to the contrary.
If this is brought about, then I think we may almost leave it to the Germans to re-unite themselves; not by the force of arms but by the force of ideas. Herr Adenauer's recent feeler thrown out for a nation-wide election is, I think, the first sign of such a German initiative. Clearly, no such initiative would have any hope of success if the necessary political forces were absent. But these forces do in fact exist in the case of Eastern Germany for there, unlike Czechoslovakia, for instance, nothing but an artificial inter-zonal boundary divides Germans linked by friendship and by family bonds. Letters and even visits are exchanged freely, for the frontier can be crossed with ease unofficially and with fluctuating degrees of difficulty, officially.
253 In the Eastern zone and in Berlin the Germans can therefore compare the Russian picture of the West with its reality. If we in the West succeed in creating a just and prosperous economic system, we can turn the Eastern zone and the Russian sector of Berlin into a political ulcer that will infect the satellite States. It would prove untrue the Communist picture of the West and undermine belief in the system to such an extent that Russia might well be glad to permit the re-union of Germany on the best terms she can get. Such a development, however, is conditional upon our ability to create a healthy society in Western Germany. In this we have not so far succeeded. Political liberty does exist and that is something which is appreciated; but prosperity is a long way off, and social justice is conspicuous by its absence.
The third of the great problems which face us is that of Germany's food supply when Marshall Aid ends in 1952. The food position of Western Germany is, rightly, very similar to our own. Her population is a little smaller than here, but her area, cattle population and wheat acreage are similar. But whereas we in this country have managed to reduce considerably our dependence on dollar food, this is not the case in Germany. In 1949 no less than 70 per cent. of Germany's allocation of Marshall Aid was spent on food, and on the whole her balance of trade with the dollar area is equally precarious. If our position is difficult, then Germany's position is desperate. She is indeed a pensioner at the moment, yet in the near future she must become self-supporting.
What is more, she must earn the money wherewith to buy her food. This is where the problem arises. If Germany cannot earn the money to buy her food in the West she must turn to the East. But if she buys a material proportion of her food in the East, she at once gives hostages to fortune; since it is unlikely that she should succeed in obtaining her food from the East and yet remain immune to political pressure. Her political allegiance is bound to turn towards the group that feeds her.
When Marshall Aid ends, Germany will very likely start a high-powered export drive in the West. I have no doubt she will be able to do this. At the 254 moment she is quite content to be nursed back to economic health by the Americans and to spend her period of convalescence in recouping her industrial machinery. But in 1952 I am certain she will come out of her corner fighting; with a powerful and efficient economic machine, with wage rates among the lowest in Europe, with extremely limited social services and with an economy free from the burden of armed forces or of the national debt. Her competition will hit this country at that critical moment at which we ourselves are hoping to be balancing our own trade with the West.
If, at that critical juncture, we deny Germany the right to compete in the West, she will turn eastwards; and while it is right and proper that the larger proportion of her trading should take place in Eastern Europe, we cannot risk allowing her to increase her trade with the East to such an extent that it would be possible to blackmail her by a threat to her food supplies. Therefore, the hard fact is that the price of German membership of the Western society is German competition with ourselves in the West and in the dollar markets. It is essential that we should face this fact which is implicit in our effort to win Germany for the West.
Having stated these problems, it would be wrong if I offered no constructive policy for their solution. The problems with which I have dealt are far too vast to be solved on a small and purely national scale. The problem of the 9 million refugees and expellees is in a sense an international responsibility, and unless we are willing to help relieve their misery, despair will drive these people into some form of national front, with its aggressive object of re-uniting all Germany, including the lost territories beyond the Oder-Neisse Line. In part, this problem might be alleviated by a really generous emigration policy within the Commonwealth, which might benefit both these up-rooted people and the Commonwealth countries themselves. It would certainly free Germany from the terrible claustrophobia from which she is suffering at the moment.
Emigration, while giving some relief, cannot be more than a partial solution. It is therefore necessary that we should devise a policy which will raise the stan- 255 dard of living of the vast masses of the people who are bound to remain in Western Germany, and in all Germany. If successful this would have a dual effect. It would remove the causes of unrest which might well drive these people to revolutionary activity, and it would also lessen that element of Germany's power to compete which derives from the depressed living standard of her working people. We must, in fact, help forward the creation of a Welfare State in Western Germany. We can no longer do this by direct interference in Germany's affairs, but much can be done by friendly contacts with elements sympathetic to us, such as the German Trade Unions, the S.P.D. and others with whom we share many ideals.
Once the feelings of resentment at our actions in the field of demilitarisation and dismantling have died down, as I think they will when the German people find that no irreparable damage has been done to their machines, then I think that the psychological moment will have come to attempt to influence German thought through all the media at our disposal in favour of the great social experiment we are carrying through in this country; and by this means sow the seeds of a divine discontent which may well alter the political climate in Western Germany. After all, the position of the Social Democrats in Germany today is not very dissimilar to that of hon. Members opposite, and neither, I believe, are without hope of a change.
We must in principle accept competition as the price of German co-operation, but we should work where possible in co-operation with Germany in the field of foreign trade. We should try, wherever possible, to use her industrial capacity to help forward our major aims. While there must be competition in the West, I do not see any reason why everywhere there should be head-on competition. I think that it is possible for our two countries to follow parallel economic courses in a world where unsatisfied economic demands exist which we cannot ourselves fulfil at once or sufficiently fast.
I am thinking for the moment of India and Pakistan where there is a vast unsatisfied demand for capital goods which we are supplying to a very great degree through our unrequited exports to those 256 countries. If India and Pakistan were able to obtain certain capital equipment from us more quickly by exchange, I think that would benefit us both. The recent agreement between Pakistan and Western Germany will be of great value. Hon. Members will know that by that agreement an exchange, in the main of wheat against capital equipment, is taking place.
Further, Germany might be of great assistance in our long-term project for opening up Africa. The rate of development of that country depends upon communications, and Germany has very considerable resources of unused steel capacity and manpower which might help us in this aim. If we could develop Africa fairly quickly we might be able—also fairly quickly—to fill the European larder. Germany's co-operation should be sought to this end.
Lastly, I naturally hope to see an end to German isolation by her absorption into the various administrative and political organisations which are being created in Western Europe. As has been said on both sides of the House, this is obviously essential. I do not think that the mere presence of Germany within a Western European organisation is any guarantee of her co-operation with the West unless she is politically and economically healthy. Germany has entered the Ruhr Authority, for instance, with the obvious expectation that it will have an important part to play in the integration of Western Europe. The appointment of her Vice-Chancellor, Herr Blucher, and a responsible trade union deputy, indicates the interest which Germany feels in this organisation. I should like to see this body become a truly international force capable of integrating the capacity and output of the coal and steel industries of its member States.
I believe, with so many people in this House, that Germany must be brought into the Council of Europe as soon as possible. I hope that the Committee of Foreign Ministers, when it meets in the near future, will find means to overcome any of Germany's inhibitions which arises from the French policy in the Saar. I hope that this House will excuse me if I have dealt with one country only, 257 when the whole world is open for consideration. I have done this, because I consider that Germany's industrial power and strategic position are of such importance that, unless we succeed in winning her unconditional support of our cause, we shall lose the political struggle in the West.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
I have sat in this House now for 26 years, and I have never heard such a wonderful crop of maiden speeches in any Parliament as we have had in this one. They have been fearfully good, putting us old boys to shame. If I say to the hon. Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom) that he has worthily maintained the standard, I can pay him no higher praise. He spoke with great authority and assurance upon a subject of vital importance. He interested us all, and I know that we shall be very keen to hear him again at the earliest possible opportunity. I should like to congratulate him most sincerely.
I do not want to strike a depressing note in this Debate; but I must say that I found myself in complete agreement—or rather in substantial agreement—with my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery) who said, in his admirable maiden speech, that we are in fact now fighting the third world war. I think that we are in the middle of it. It is a war which, although not hot, is total. Our problem is, therefore, not so much one of preventing war as one of making peace. What we have to do is to try to bring this war to an end
There is no longer any doubt about the present object of Soviet policy. It is, to be quite brief and pointed, the conquest of the world. As a matter of fact, there has not been any doubt about it since 1945, except for those who have not wanted to believe it and have, therefore, refused to believe it. It has been constantly reiterated in theory and furthered in practice. For those who had any lingering doubts or hopes, the policy, and the theory on which it is based, was announced to the world in three comprehensive speeches of profound and far-reaching importance in the autumn of 1947—in the speech of Vyshinsky at U.N.O. on 18th September; in the speech 258 of Zhdanov to the conference of the Cominform in the same month; and in the speech of Molotov on 6th November at the anniversary of the Revoloution. Their proclaimed objective was the seizure of monopolistic power by the Communists, over as wide an area and as rapidly as possible; and the establishment of Communist régimes on "the only and best pattern"—to use their own phrase—that of the Soviet Union. Therefore, Tito is out.
The method is now familiar to us. It is the method of the Trojan horse. And it has, in practice, been enormously successful. I think that we should face up to that. I want to give one very short quotation to the House from a book by Mr. James Burnham, who himself had rather close associations with the Communists at one period in the past and therefore knows a good deal about them. The quotation is this:On the basis of the full evidence, Communism may be summarily defined as a worldwide conspiratorial movement for the conquest of a monopoly of power in the era of capitalist decline. Politically it is based upon terror and mass deception; economically it is, or at least tends to be, collectivist; socially it is totalitarian.On balance, we have been losing this cold war for the last five years. I think the main reason for this is that we have, to a very great extent, misconceived its character. We have been, genuinely and inevitably, concerned about this atom bomb, under whose shadow we live; but I think our preoccupation with atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs has given us a rather false sense of perspective. This struggle for world power, in which we are inextricably involved, may well be a very long-term business indeed. Violence has been used, is being used, and will be used; but I think it highly problematical that atomic violence will ever be used. I agree completely with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when he said that the existence of the atomic bomb is in fact a great deterrent to total hot war. I believe that to be profoundly true. Also, we must remember that the Soviets believe that time is on their side, I think, and hope, that they may be wrong; but they think it. They await with some confidence the collapse of the Western world. In the meantime they will continue the struggle by the methods that have already proved so successful.
259 I now want to examine for a few moments what I believe to be the causes of our failure, the causes of our losing this struggle, by and large, over the last five years. Here again, I find myself in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North. I think one of the main causes is that we have not been fighting. I really do believe that in this very rought world one has got to fight to live. If Benes had fought in 1938 or 1948, Czechoslovakia would not have been subjugated, first by Hitler and then by Stalin; and would be a free democracy today. He did not fight on either occasion.
We ourselves have only stood up to the Communists twice since the war—in Greece and in Berlin—and on both occasions we have beaten them at their own game. This is an interesting point, and I think it has a bearing on the morale of those who are today manning the outposts of Western democracy. We have a lot of chaps, some of them in the Services and some in the Civil Service, around the periphery of Western Europe and all over the place; and they are subjected to a barrage of propaganda and to pressures of every sort and kind. I do not think they get enough support from us. I do not think there is enough blast from the other side. I do not think they are given the confidence which they should be made to feel from the knowledge that not only are we just as strong as the Communists, but we are infinitely better in every kind of way. I think we have allowed too much to go by default. We ought to launch a propaganda offensive; we have been far too much on the defensive in these last years all over the world.
Secondly, I think our faith is still not strong enough. Our opponents are dedicated men. Their leaders understand what is at stake; and all their energies, resources and determination are fixed upon their goal, which is a monopoly of power. To this end all else is subordinated—the individual, law, freedom, ethics, the family, art, literature, science and religion. All. Within such a framework, and against this background, democracy, as we understand it in the West, becomes completely meaningless. As the Leader of the Opposition said, the gulf yawns between us. The Communists believe that ends justify any 260 means; and we believe, if we believe anything, that no ideal end justifies absolute power over the lives of individual human beings, or the infliction of one iota of avoidable suffering on human beings.
Until we achieve a decisive victory in this struggle for world power, I confess that I see little point in coming to formal agreements with these people, unless we are clear in our own minds that they will keep them only as long as it suits them to do so. In that respect they are not at present markedly dissimilar from Hitler. The much-abused Protocol of Yalta asserted the rights of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they would live. That was accepted by the Soviet Government; and, if they had honoured their pledge, either in the letter or the spirit, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Eastern Germany would not today be enslaved. I believe that the most decisive victory that we could win would be the achievement of a democratic Western Union of such strength that no potential aggressor would dare to attack it; and I think it can be done. I think we can only win this struggle by faith and works. It may take us five years; it may take a generation, or even longer. We have all got to brace ourselves for a long ordeal of cold, but total, war before we can make peace; and we must win that victory before we can have that peace.
On the subject of faith, I will only say that no creed which can effectively counter the Communist ideology can be based on the rational materialism of the 19th century, because that is the base from which Marxism itself stems. We must go deeper. I think that Koestler got to the root of the matter when he said that there is a whole realm which starts where logic ends; and that unaided reason is a defective compass which leads us on such a winding course that we end by losing the vision of our goal.
The subject of works brings me to the third cause of our failure. For five long years we have had no comprehensive foreign policy. In Soviet policy, nothing is unrelated; in Western policy, nothing nothing has been related for the past five years. It is all piecemeal. The relationship between the British Commonwealth and the United States remains undefined 261 and nebulous; and we spend much of our time in hot argument with each other. We are half in Europe, and half out. Germany is half in Western Union, and half out. Our defence commitments are vast, but vague; and our resources totally unknown, at any rate to Members of this House.
Where is our eastern frontier? Can anybody tell us? Sometimes, in the night watches, I hope that the Ministers who are responsible for our defence know the answer; and sometimes I wonder if even they know. Defence policy must be based on foreign policy, and foreign policy demands a theme. Where is our theme? I cannot find it. For five years we have lurched from one political crisis to another, and have lost half Europe and the whole of China in the process. How the Kremlin must rejoice in our uncertainties and indecisions, our divisions and futilities! It is just what the prophet Marx foretold; and, from their point of view just what the doctor ordered.
When, at last, a man of commanding ability appears on the scene of endeavours to formulate a constructive policy for the western world which is designed to save the sum of things before it is too late, an attempt is made to hound him out of public life. What is going on in Washington today is a horrifying spectacle; and somebody should say it, because we are not an unimportant part of the western world, and we are entitled, at least if we are back benchers to comment upon these lamentable events. What is Mr. Acheson's policy? It is a policy of total diplomacy to meet the requirements of total cold war—unity, strength and a stable and dynamic economic order for the western democratic world. Is it for this that he is to be driven from office? It is the only thing that can save the world from total hot war, and perhaps bring the cold war to an end.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, when he comes to speak this evening, is not going to take us on one of his melancholy perambulations round the world, which we have had on so many past occasions. They are not only rather boring, but also terribly depressing. The story he tells with such pathetic confidence is only too often a story of unrelieved failure. Even the right hon. Gentleman himself cannot be very pleased with what is going on in the 262 Far East at present; and, as for the Middle East, I think it is really kinder to draw a veil, because our prestige there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of zero. In Germany, about which country the hon. Gentleman opposite made such an interesting speech, the rumbling of his detonations constitutes a sinister obligato to the rumbling of his speeches. I am not going to ask him to allow Germany to re-arm at this stage. I have a much milder request to make. It is that, as a first step, he should stop blowing up their factories and shipyards. That, I think, would be very helpful. It does not achieve any useful purpose; and, with a maladroitness that is almost inconceivable, he has contrived to saddle this country with the sole responsibility. I do not know how he managed it, but he has managed it.
This brings me to my last point—the issue of Western Union. I say quite frankly that I would like to see a Pact of European Union; and the creation of a European Political Authority with limited competence but defined powers. If such a union is to have any reality, it must include both Great Britain and Germany. There is no doubt about that. Then, of course, if the thing works, the defence problem will solve itself. If it does not, nothing will be solved.
We have a considerable responsibility in this matter, because for 300 years we have fought to prevent the unification of the Continent of Europe by force. I am one of those who think we were right to stop it; but it imposes upon us a certain obligation not to prevent the unification of Europe in time of peace by consent; and a great many people think we are busy doing that at the present moment. Not a single European country, including this country, is a viable political or economic unit in the modern world. The net of isolating nationalism, with its welter of frontiers, barriers, tariffs, quotas, currencies, passports, restrictions and bureaucracies must be broken. Otherwise, we shall first of all stifle, and Western Europe will ultimately be absorbed into the suffocating totalitarian unity of the Communist Empire. That is really the issue that confronts us
What is the cause of the hold-up, because there is one at the present time? The high hopes engendered at Strasbourg 263 have not been realised; the thing is somehow sticking. Why? Quite frankly, I do not think it is just the intransigence of the right hon. Gentleman and the Foreign Office, although a lot of people on the Continent think so, and hold this Government to be mainly responsible. I think it is really to be found in the continuing disagreement between ourselves and the United States of America about the future economic organisation of the western world. It is a kind of hangover from the first American Loan and the Bretton Woods Agreement.
Any serious attempt at European economic integration—and here I agree with my colleague in the Council of Europe, the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) who spoke recently—presupposes some kind of currency clearing system, some co-ordination of monetary policies, reciprocal trade and payment agreements on a limited multilateral basis, and the development of the basic industries by means of planned international investment. We all concur in that view. I do not think it involves any hold-up of the liberalisation of trade, which can go on at the same time; but it is the antithesis not only of the kind of planned national Socialism which we have been having from the present Government, but also of what may be called laissez-faire. It requires an extension of the sterling area and of the preferential system; in one word, discrimination. This was clearly recognised by the Assembly of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg last summer.
We must face up to the fact that, until quite recently, the main objective of American economic policy has been to break up the sterling area; and to revert to a system of free multilateral trade, based on the free convertibility of currencies, non-discrimination, and a fixed parity between the pound sterling, the dollar, and gold. That has been the ideal. They have already begun to see the light, and are gradually giving it up; but the ideal still swings along at any rate in the State Department and in the Treasury. It is under American pressure that we have signed these agreements at Geneva, Annecy and Havana and have chiselled our system of Imperial Preference; and an extension of narrow bilateral agreements has been the inevitable result.
264 The time has come to tell the Americans quite frankly that we are not prepared either to sabotage the sterling area, or to return to the international economic anarchy which prevailed in the 19th century, and for a number of years between the two wars. The conditions which supported that system no longer exist. I am old enough to remember the days prior to 1931 when international trade became a ruthless pursuit of gold, when the main object of each separate country was to export its own unemployment to others, and when every ton of coal cut in Europe—in Germany, in Poland, in Belgium, and in this country—was subsequently sold at below production cost, although the wages of the miners throughout Europe were almost at starvation level.
§ Mr. Boothby
I am sorry I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I am just finishing.
Is that what we want to go back to? If so, it would be the end of Western Union, and of western civilisation. It is precisely what the Communists are praying for, and banking on. They know that there cannot be economic warfare and political friendship; and that if the Western World is now going back to cutthroat international competition, based on free non-discriminatory multilateral trade, the Western World will fall asunder.
The answer to the problem is to be found neither in a return to a policy of laissez-faire nor in a continuation of planned national Socialism. It is to be found in constructive co-operation and compromise. To quote from the Principles of European Policy put forward by the European Movement:It is not a question of choosing between liberty and authority, nor between a free and a collective economy, but of creating a synthesis of the two, which, far from being in opposition to one another, can be combined for constructive purposes.Here, in my opinion, is the real and immediate challenge to Western democracy. It must be met, first, by the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America, without whose effective co-operation both in the political and in the economic sphere nothing can be achieved.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. F. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
If hon. Members who sat in this House in 1944 and 1945 had been told that five years later the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would be advocating the rearming of Germans, they would not have believed it, but this remarkable political somersault has been achieved in the narrow space of five years, and it is important that we should consider this remarkable victory for Germany, which is not the only victory she has achieved since she lost the war. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), did not follow his right hon. Friend in this new development in Conservative foreign policy, but the reiteration of the views of the Leader of the Opposition on German rearmament by a number of hon. Members opposite, must now be taken by those of us on this side of the House to constitute official Conservative policy.
§ Mr. Jones
Let us see what it is going to lead to and let us try to consider these grave matters, not in the air of the hustings, but in the air of a more responsible place. The achievement of Germany since the war has not been confined to this conversion of the Leader of the Opposition to the re-militarisation of Germany. The first outstanding victory of Germany was the abandonment by the Allies of their programme of reparations. The amount of reparations which we have acquired from Germany has been infinitesimal in comparison with the damage inflicted by Germany and with the industrial wealth that was stolen by Germany from the countries she overran.
In addition to the abandonment of reparations, there has also been the substantial abandonment of dismantling, and I am astonished that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East, saw fit once more to raise that issue in this Debate. At Bonn, in November of last year, there was an agreement for the substantial ending of dismantling. The German authorities then agreed that certain industrial establishments, including part of the vast Hermann Goering factories and a few other installations whose sole object was 266 the re-creation of German military might should be demolished, and there are few demolitions still to be carried out. But, substantially, the Governments of this country, of the United States and of France have abandoned the policy of demolitions.
It is important to emphasise this, and I think much harm is now being done by hon. and right hon. Members opposite by their propagation of the idea of re-militarising Germany. For it was agreed by the German authorities at Bonn that the abandonment of demolition was conditional upon a declaration by the Bonn Government of itsearnest determination to maintain the demilitarisation of Western Germany, and to endeavour by all means in its power to prevent the re-creation of armed forces of any kind.That was the basis of allied abandonment of dismantling and that very basis is now being cut away by our own countrymen, sitting on the other side of the House. I find it a most remarkable situation. I understand the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) prefers this policy to be put as re-arming Germans rather than as the re-armament of Germany, though I confess I cannot understand the difference.
It is only right to say that this pressure for the re-armament of Germans comes at the moment in the main not from Germans, curiously enough, but from outside Germany. When I was in Germany—and I have been there a good deal since the war—I found on the part of most Germans to whom I spoke, a great unwillingness to re-arm and a considerable resistance against forming new German armed forces. So far as the Germans in Western Germany are concerned, they have no passionate desire once more to engage upon war with Soviet Russia. They had four years of it, and they did not like it very much. Nor do I think there is any great desire on the part of Eastern Germans to rush into war once more, for or against the West, or for or against the Soviet Union.
Our real allies within Germany, the German trade union movement and the Social Democratic movement, do not favour the re-arming of Germany. Those are the allies of the Western democracies, not the faded field-marshals, who are lurking in the shadows waiting once more to come back to power and influence. These trade unionists and 267 Social Democrats of Germany know very well the dangers that the reconstitution of German military forces would bring forth. The Social Democratic movement in Germany remembers very well the events that followed the 1914–18 war. Hon. Members will remember the formation in those days of the Reichswehr of 100,000 men. The democratic Government of Germany completely failed to democratise that limited force of 100,000. Most responsible German democrats today are opposed to this pressure, principally from outside, and principally from right-wing elements outside Germany, to recreate German military power. It is having the effect of encouraging the very forces within Germany who are a challenge and a continuing menace to all we understand by Western democracy.
However, it is argued that, as the Russians are re-arming Eastern Germany, we ought to re-arm the West, so that if it came to a show-down the East Germans and the West Germans would fight each other and we could look on happily. In my experience in Germany I have seen very little evidence of a desire on the part of Germans to fight a civil war, either on behalf of Western democracy or on behalf of Soviet Communism. We have the statements of General Halder, who was chief of the German General Staff, of Pastor Niemoeller and of President Heuss, President of Western Germany, all representatives of different trends of thought in Germany, that in no circumstances would Germans wage civil war upon each other. There is, indeed, little in the experience of Germany, within our memory at any rate, to point to their willingness to engage upon a civil war to the benefit of anyone outside their own frontiers.
Indeed, it is much more likely that they would use their re-arming to exploit to their own advantage the differences that exist between East and West. I have seen little evidence to indicate that the officer class of Germany are now willing to dedicate themselves to the service of Western democracy. If a German military force is strong it will be politically dangerous. If it is weak it will be militarily useless and a political embarrassment. I think it is this dilemma which accounts for the extreme vagueness of the suggestions of the Leader of the 268 Opposition as to what form the proposed German force is to take. There is a strange kind of wishful thinking in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition about this German force. It is to be strong enough to frighten the Russians, but not strong enough to alarm the French. Such a military force has not existed and never will exist.
If we look at the matter from a military point of view it seems to me that very little could be gained through the creation of a few German divisions, be they merged in a Western European force or not. The immediate problem for the defence of Western Europe is surely not the manpower problem. What is lacking in Western countries, like France and Italy, is not men, but arms and equipment. Even more important, there is lacking an economic basis strong enough to support a military establishment. Surely, it would increase rather than lessen these deficiencies in the West if we were to assume also the burden of equipping and maintaining German troops. Every gun we would press into the hands of a willing German infantry man would be a gun lost to the French, Italians and other members of the Western democracies. I fear it would be a gun which, in a crisis, might still be pointed against us rather than with us.
Therefore, I sincerely hope the Government will set its face firmly against this pressure from the Opposition for the rearming of Germans. It would have a most disastrous affect upon our influence and standing in Europe. It would not be understood by the French; it would arouse their alarm. It would arouse hate against the Western democracies along the whole periphery of the Soviet Union, among the peoples of the Baltic, Poland, the Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. All those countries do not approach this German problem as an interesting academic study. They see German military might through the boundary wire of a concentration camp.
The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr) spoke about Russian armies advancing on Europe with security police wagons in the background, but the peoples of Europe associate the German armed forces with the gas wagon following up behind. Their memories are bitter. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that 269 the bitterness continues, but the fact is that it exists. Really this haste to rearm Germany is indecent. Let us bide our time. Our true friends in Germany do not want it. I hope this pressure will be firmly resisted by my right hon. Friend from whatever source it may come.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Davies (Epping)
In craving the indulgence of the House on rising to address it for the first time I would ask hon. Members to forgive any errors or failings of which I may be guilty. I intervene with special diffidence in such a broad field as foreign affairs. I want to speak on matters that affect Eastern as well as Western Europe and I am bound to say that I do not see that anything we do in Europe will be of any avail unless we can stop the rot in the Far East. It is reasonable to say that if the successes of democracy in Europe were as striking as those of Communism have been in the Far East of late, then in Europe we should have nothing to worry about.
In spite of a stay of some 18 months behind the Iron Curtain, I think there is little that I could tell of the sufferings of the people of Eastern Europe and of their leaders and clergy that has not already been made known. I speak particularly of Roumania, Hungary and Bulgaria. First-hand experience heightens appreciation of the pathetic and desperate longing in those countries for contact with the Western World, however slight. It heightens appreciation of the deep discouragement created by any display of weakness among the free nations.
In considering our policy towards these Iron Curtain countries we would appear to have two alternatives. We can either regard them in terms of the old diplomacy, as countries coming within a sphere of influence that is not our own, as pawns and counters in the "cold war "; or we can regard them as nations that are an inherent part of the Continent of Europe and whose spirit we must at all costs seek to keep alive even if we cannot now restore their freedom.
I suggest that we cannot adopt the former course with a clear conscience. Russian domination may be a fact, but it would be a denial of all that we fought for if we ever gave formal or even implicit acknowledgment of that fact in any settlement that the Western World would seek to make with Soviet Russia. Indeed, 270 any settlement which acknowledged that fact would be worthless in that it would contain an admission that the Agreement of Yalta had been completely and successfully violated.
Surely it must always be our policy to seek to help and encourage by every means those down-trodden peoples and to preserve at least their national identity as they did during centuries of Turkish domination. I exclude, of course, the Czechs and Poles with their different masters. They will need every encouragement if they are to preserve their identity against this much more systematic attempt at permanent domination. Hon. Members might say, "What can we do about it?" Even such things as libraries and information centres of Britain and other countries are now banned; all contact is denied with these countries, save one alone, and that is the radio, which is therefore of absolutely paramount importance. Surely every penny spent—and it is not very much in relation to our defence expenditure—on broadcasting to these countries, particularly to the countries of Eastern Europe, must be very worth while.
I listened recently to Roumanian and Bulgarian broadcasts of the B.B.C., and I would readily acknowledge that efforts have been made to improve the service. But the scale of this whole campaign is still very small indeed when we remember that it is the only link between the free world and the nations behind the Iron Curtain. I hope that further efforts on a big scale will be made to extend the scope, quality and strength, and particularly the strength of transmission, of these broadcasts in view of the heavy jamming which they have to encounter. Surely we can regard them as a real offensive weapon in the "cold war." It is a task that demands the utmost imagination. Could not the Czechs who have just come out of Czechoslovakia by airliner have been put on the air to tell what fears and horrors beset them and made them leave their country? Instead of that, Czech listeners to the B.B.C. a few days ago heard a detailed account of an ice hockey match.
We must remember that people have to run a real risk to listen to these broadcasts, and they do listen. What they want to hear are facts about what is going on in the world and also what is going on in 271 their own countries, because that is entirely denied them through the medium of their own Press. There are many things going on in their own countries which are in no way publicised in those countries. What they need is factual information, and not, for instance, an account of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.
Turning to another point in this problem, I do not think it would be wise to withdraw our diplomatic representatives from Eastern European countries, however much they may be insulted or frustrated, because looking at it from the point of view of the people in those countries, the presence of these diplomatic representatives is at least a minor encouragement and a minor contact; this is also true from our point of view, too. People are cheered to see Western diplomats even if they dare not talk to them.
On the other hand, any softness to the governments of Iron Curtain countries will do us nothing but harm in the eyes of their peoples on whom they have been imposed. I would go so far as to say that even in our straitened circumstances of today it should be a matter of principle as well as of sound policy that we should not enter into trade agreements with governments that persecute our business men and insult our diplomatic representatives. I am glad that that principle has been put into effect in the case of Hungary. Surely, we shall gain nothing in respect in any part of the world if we accord their diplomats here any privilege or courtesy that is not accorded to ourselves in their countries.
I wish to mention one other important aspect of the problem. If we are to ask these people to resist in their own minds and wills, if not physically, the pressure which is being put upon them, we must see that the West offers a constructive alternative—not merely a return after an interval, however long, to their pre-war status, but admission to a united European community embodying not only political freedom but also economic prosperity, with perhaps even a minimum standard of social services such as the Balkan people did not enjoy before the war. We must recognise that Communism, however detestable, is bound to have an attraction in the long run unless our free system can offer hope of a fuller 272 life to the citizens of those countries than that which they enjoyed before the war.
I am aware that the subject of European unity has been debated considerably today and was also debated at length in the last Parliament, but the impression persists throughout the world, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition emphasised, that Great Britain is holding back and is hesitant. I have found it impossible to escape from such an impression in France and in Italy and it is unavoidable anywhere in the United States of America. Surely this feeling could not be so universal unless it had some basis. We all acknowledge the part which the Foreign Secretary has played in the initial stages both of Western Union and of the broader conception of a United Europe, but if we do not continue to lead, then either Europe will not unite at all or, worse still, she will unite without us.
Might I, in all deference, suggest that it can be a task of this Parliament, with its even political allegiance, that to co-operate with all Western European Governments without prejudice and whatever their political structure and thereby seek to remove the impression which exists throughout Europe and the world that we are holding back because of any doubt or hesitancy. The Minister of State emphasised that our experts were second to none in their anxiety to forward Western European unity. I hope he will also show that our Ministers are second to none in their eagerness to further this great cause. In particular, I hope that a reasonably generous view, as generous as possible, will be taken by the Government of the project for a European Payments Union and that we shall do all in our power to advance in every practical, way the transferability of European currencies with the maximum practicable sterling participation.
It is most necessary that we should now attain greater economic integration, particularly in view of the way the question of competition has arisen this afternoon. It seems particularly important that we should integrate on the question of steel with France, Germany and Belgium at a time when we are threatened not only with immense competition but probably, before long, with over-production. Surely further steps should now also be taken towards military integration in preparations, organisations and especially com- 273 mand, not only among the five countries of Western Union but among all the Western European countries. This question is coming to the fore in connection with German defence, which makes it particularly vital.
Lastly, if the year 1950 can be made to mark the resumption of the full leadership by Great Britain in Europe, to mark the formation of a European Payments Union with sterling participation, and to mark even perhaps the beginning of this suggested Franco-German Union, it will be a year which will have given strength to the West and some hope to the East of our divided Continent.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
It falls to my lot to congratulate the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Nigel Davies) on his excellent maiden speech. I particularly liked his reference to the listening habits of those who live in danger of their lives behind the Iron Curtain, and I was very glad to notice that he had already learned that the taste of the House of Commons in speeches is the same as the taste of listeners behind the Iron Curtain; they like factual speeches, speeches by people who know what they are talking about and who keep to their own subjects. In that way tastes are universal. We shall hope to hear the hon. Member often in the future.
I want to turn back from the speech of the hon. Member for Epping to that of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby). I have noticed in one or two speeches by hon. Members opposite a note of combined frustration and hysteria. Indeed, in one maiden speech—a very able speech—we had the solemn proposal that we should organise guerilla warfare throughout Eastern Europe. The hon. Member was apparently not aware that, after all, it is not much good organising guerillas unless one is prepared to go to their assistance with active military aid.
Then we had from the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East the extraordinary sentence that we could not begin to understand the mistakes of this side of the House until we realised that we had already begun fighting a third world war. This sort of melodramatic nonsense is very misleading. If we had already begun fighting the third world war then, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the 274 Opposition has already pointed out, it would mean that the Russians had swept through Western Europe and were on the Channel coast.
Let us not use melodramatic phrases. Indeed, the whole problem which faces us today is that the Russians conduct their peaceful diplomacy as though they were at war when we are actually not at war. That places the democracies in a terrible dilemma because a "phoney" war always finds the democracies at their worst and the totalitarians at their best. We have to face the fact that we would rather have this "phoney" war than have the "hot" war which is the only alternative, and we have to find a way, therefore, of doing better in this "phoney" war than we did in the "phoney" war of 1939.
I agree to some extent with hon. Members opposite that we have not been doing very well in this "phoney" war, but I am surprised that they should make this criticism after having heard the speech of the Leader of the Opposition who, throughout his speech, asserted that the whole policy on which we have been operating for the last four years was his invention. He said he invented it at Fulton. Thus, when we hear from hon. Members opposite—and I took down two quotations in particular—that during the last five years we have lost half Europe and also China, it is as well to remember that half Europe was lost in 1943 and 1944 as a result of the Teheran and Yalta Conferences in which Members of the Opposition played a leading part. What is the good of having this sort of thing thrown across the Floor of the House?
We agree that things have not been going very well under the Fulton policy. Under the policy of the round-the-world, global containment of Communism we have had some serious defeats. It is worth noticing that we have done very well in Europe, despite the disastrous situation created by Yalta. Since then we have done not too badly in resisting the offensive. The disasters have come outside Europe. Why is that? I should like to suggest an explanation to the House. In the case of Europe, Communism can be identified with Russian imperialism. There is not a single country of Europe today which would have a Stalinite Government if it were not for the presence or the proximity of the Red 275 Army. There is not one single Government in Eastern Europe which would not be overthrown by a popular uprising if the Russians were not near by to prevent it. The proof of the pudding is, of course, Marshal Tito in the one country with an indigenous Communist movement. He has challenged Stalinism because he was refused Dominion status in the Soviet Commonwealth of Nations. The rest of the Communist Governments in Eastern Europe are literally satellites of the Russians.
I suggest to the House that it is a very dangerous conclusion for us to draw that, because in Europe Communism is virtually identical with the expansion of Russia imperialism, the same is also true in the Far East. It is fantastic to hear speeches from the other side of the House suggesting that the Communist victory in China of Mao Tse-tung and of He Chi-Minh in Indo-China have anything to do with the Red Army. They are, of course, of great advantage to the Russians, but those Communist movements in the Far East are vast, indigenous movements of millions of people with very little connection with Moscow, except that they are led by a few well-trained men who have been to Moscow and gone back and applied in their own countries the lessons that they have learned there. It would be a most dangerous mistake to suppose that these movements deny those countries self-determination. The trouble is that in Asia there is self-determination on the side of the Communist idea.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Has the hon. Gentleman ever heard of the Far Eastern section of the Cominform?
§ Mr. Crossman
I have heard of it. I would suggest that anybody who thinks that the Communists' success in China is merely a piece of Russian expansion, under-estimates the danger in China today. Communism there is quite different from the Communism in Poland, or the Communism in Hungary, or the Communism anywhere in Europe. Here is something deeply popular. Here is a revolt of millions of coloured peoples against white ascendancy.
276 So I would suggest to the House that, if our policy in the Far East is to "contain" Communism, then we are simply deciding to do the impossible—to resist one of the great social revolutions of history. Europe which used to dominate the world is now merely just one part of the world, and the peoples in Africa and Asia are asserting the right of nationhood, and they have grasped Communism as the means of asserting it. Primarily Communism there means something to fill empty bellies and something to achieve self-determination. It is against white imperialism which has lasted 100 years, that they are now rising. So I suggest, when hon. Gentlemen opposite say that it is a perfectly simple thing we have to do, and that is to fight Communism, that it may be wiser to realise that the only chance we have of defeating the Russians is to split Communism—to split the Communists who believe in their own nationhood from the Communists who are merely satellites and serfs of the Russians.
What has happened in Yugoslavia may happen elsewhere in the world, if we split Communism, and if we enable the millions to feel that we are not against any and every form of social revolution, but that what we are against is the annexation by the Russians of any social revolution, the use by the Russians of any social revolution, and the perversion by the Russians of every social revolution for Russian imperialistic ends. We must show those peoples that if they will come along with us they will be allowed to go forward, allowed to have their social revolutions. That, at least, would be a foreign policy which would have some chance of driving the Russians back to their frontiers without a war.
It is for that reason that I wholly approve of the Government's determination to recognise the Communist Government in China, despite the opposition from the other side of the House. It is a decision which, in the long run, will help to make it possible for the Chinese Communists to remain Chinese and to fight the battle against the G.P.U. agents inside their party.
I want now to turn to the problems of Western Union and to raise an issue which has not been examined so far, and the omission of which in this Debate I find confusing. People talk about 277 "United Europe" and talk "Germany." Do they mean the whole of Germany or Western Germany? Do they mean the whole of Europe or the truncated portion of Europe which happens to be on our side of the Iron Curtain. It is well worth remembering that the ideological division of Europe is the result of the accident of where the armies of the East and West happened to be when the war ended. Western Europe is where the Anglo-American Armies got to, and Eastern Europe is where the Red Army got to, all in the quest of "liberation." It is the most artificial division in the world, and before we make up our minds that the aim and object of our policy is to consolidate existing Western Europe we must consider whether it is a workable union.
Is it really possible to consolidate Western Europe with Western Germany inside it, leaving Eastern Germany and Eastern Europe to the Russians? It will be impossible as long as Germany is divided. The Germans' whole policy will be to unite Eastern and Western Germany, and then get back Breslau and then get back Konigsberg and then think, "I am now big enough to start the war for world domination again." While Germany is artificially divided it is nonsense to talk about a united Europe.
There is also the question of the economic integration of Germany into Western Union. In the West there is an increased population of 10 million. Unless Western Germany can in some way trade eastwards Western Germany is going to capture British market after British market. Already Western Germany is competing with us in the world markets. There are only a limited number of markets in the Western World, and in Western Germany there are 65 million people desperately short of land and desperately short of markets, and yet we have told them that the one thing they must not do is to trade with the Eastern zone which, with Eastern Europe, is the only place their trade can flow without competing with our own.
We should consider these two problems before we say it is absolutely certain that the unity of the Western half of Europe is the be all and end all of our policy. To my mind Western Union is a completely unworkable unit in the long run. It is a makeshift unit, and we have to make the best of it for now, but do not 278 let us give up the long-term policy of a really united Europe.
This brings me to the question of the arming of Germany. The Leader of the Opposition said that I had misquoted him. If he will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see I quoted him precisely. Having quoted him, I said what he really meant, and I may, in his view, have mis-paraphrased him. However, let us take up what he said today. He said that he did not mean re-arm the Germans but that what he meant was, let the Germans be soldiers along with us in Western Europe. What does that mean? Soldiers? I suppose it means armies and divisions, and I suppose divisions imply quantities of arms.
Can it be that the right hon. Gentleman is so simple-minded that he thinks that Germans will accept a situation in which they are provided with arms by somebody else, and treated as second class European citizens? Is he not aware that the Germans are very sensitive on the subject of second class citizenship? They certainly will not fight our battles as mercenaries. They will probably fall back on the very proper argument that, as first-rate soldiers, they are probably better than all the rest of us put together, and I have no doubt that they will despise such a situation as five German divisions equipped by the Americans and British, and under the command of British, French, Belgium, and Dutch staff officers. If anyone in this House seriously tells them that that is an idea that would satisfy German honour they must have a distorted notion of what is German honour. German honour will say that if there is to be a French detachment and a British detachment there shall also be a German detachment on completely equal terms—or nothing at all.
So there will be discord about German rearmament and we shall see as the negotiations proceed, the division of the Western Powers becoming more and more deep if the right hon. Gentleman continues to assert the necessity of rearming the Germans. I would put one thing to this House on this subject: I was struck by the speech of the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery). I think that he was right and that we have to recognise that Russia has far exceeded her sociological frontiers. In capturing Poland, which is essentially 279 Western, she has gone far beyond her natural frontiers, and if we are ever to have a united Europe the Slav countries must come back to our European civilisation. I agree. But does he think that the Slavs, the Poles, etc., will ever come back to Western Europe that has re-armed Germany? Can he think of any more effective way of driving into the arms of Russia every Pole, every Czech, and every Yugoslav?
I was in Prague in February a few days after the revolution. The one thing that gave the Communists their power in Prague to put over the revolution there was the propaganda about Western democracy's determination to re-arm the Germans. Let us be quite clear that if we re-arm the Germans we are consolidating the Russian control of Eastern Europe because the patriots in Eastern Europe will fight the Germans every time, even if it means siding with Russia.
I put forward one other consideration to the House on this subject which has not yet been mentioned. In my view the major deterrent militarily to the Russians today is the presence of the American troops in Germany. For these American troops in Germany mean that if the Russians ever did move into the West they would immediately make contact with American forces, and there would not be any debate in Congress about the Atlantic Treaty, because the Russians would be at war with America. I say that two divisions of American troops badly armed are worth ten divisions of German troops for deterring the Russians because they are tokens of the whole might of America. I warn the House that if we end the occupation, and if we sign a treaty with the Germans and enable them to have their troops, the Americans will not stay in Germany, and we shall be that much weaker as a Western organised power. What a fantastic exchange, to exchange the presence of American troops for five German divisions which, for all we know, will change sides, as Germany changed sides in 1939, and fight on the other side.
I have not mentioned the internal German problem. It is true, of course, that if we talk about re-arming Germany and do anything to turn the Germans into soldiers again, German democracy is 280 killed at that moment. Every social democrat in Germany is begging us to stop this talk of re-arming the Germans. They say that there is no chance of democracy if we re-arm the Germans because back will come the people to power who really believe in German re-armament. I heard the Leader of the Opposition tell us that General de Gaulle was probably the greatest Frenchman today; but if there is a greater danger to French democracy than de Gaulle, I do not know what it is. We have to face the fact that to re-arm Germany, or even to talk of re-arming Germany, destroys the basis on which we can build any hope of German democracy, and French democracy too.
I want to conclude by suggesting this to the House—and I am very glad to see that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has returned. I believe that this country should keep to its long-term European policy. Its long-term European policy is to achieve unification of Germany and its neutralisation in a peace treaty with the Russians. It may take ten years or fifteen years, but it is the only sound policy. Unify Germany, disarm Germany, neutralise her and guarantee her against aggression from both sides, and then all of Eastern Europe and Western Europe are very likely to be happy and united. Arm her, and we make the unity of Europe impossible; the ultimate dream we always had of the Slavs coming back and the Russians withdrawing also becomes impossible, and we make war very much more likely than it is. For that reason I believe that whoever believes in European unity must stand up and say "No" to the idea that five German divisions are worth the withdrawal of American troops—[Interruption]. The Americans are not going to stay in occupation of Germany if Germany is an independent country with an army of her own.
§ Mr. Boothby
Is it the hon. Gentleman's proposal that the American Army should permanently occupy Germany—for ever and ever?
§ Mr. Crossman
No. Until the peace treaty is signed by East and West guaranteeing the neutrality of Germany, the occupation of Germany should continue.
§ Mr. Crossman
The hon. Gentleman says, "That is permanently," but he made a most moving speech in which he said that we must never forget the possibility of working for a settlement with the Russians. If we believe that there could be a settlement about atomic warfare, equally there could be a settlement about Germany.
§ Mr. Crossman
The hon. Gentleman's speech must have been the only one from the Opposition side which did not say, "Even at this late hour, let us try for a settlement." I am disappointed that he did not say so. It is common sense to say it.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Braine (Essex, Billericay)
In summoning up my courage to address the House for the first time, I trust that the fact that the gunpowder material designed to blow up this historic place came from my constituency in the year 1605, will not cause hon. Members to look upon me now or on future occasions with suspicion. I pray that, however imperfectly I may express myself, my speech will be received by hon. Members with that kindly tolerance which they normally accord on such an occasion.
If I intervene in this Debate at this late hour—a Debate in which there has been so much wisdom expressed on both sides of the House—I do so because nothing I have heard has removed the feeling which I have had for a number of years of being profoundly disturbed at the deterioration of our position in the world and at the lack of vigour and cohesion in the conduct of our foreign policy. In the lifetime of most of us, there come moments when the pressure of circumstances forces us to take stock of our position, to survey our resources, to stiffen against misfortune and to examine our conduct. As with individuals, so it is with nations. Such a moment, or so it seems to me, has come in the life of this nation.
It is clear from the Debate so far that everyone in the House is filled with apprehension about the international situation. We know that gone are the spacious days when Disraeli could speak of the streak of silver sea which separated us from the Continent and when we could snap our fingers with impunity at our 282 continental neighbours. We know that gone, too, are the days of splendid self-assurance when this country had a monopoly of the world's trade, commanded every sea and had a firm belief that she was destined to rule the world. We know these things. We know, too, that we are still the centre of a great imperial system with rich resources, but it is one of the tragedies of the post-war world that no attempt has been made to treat that system as a unit of power capable of developing a global policy of its own. We know that today we are near-bankrupt, rich in precious little but history, and that we are poised precariously between two world Powers and dependent—let us be quite frank about it—in part upon the kindness of one of them.
What disturbs me about our people is that since 1945, after a war in which they displayed all their ancient valour and qualities, they seem to have turned inward upon themselves. They have become so obsessed with their own domestic problems, with the clash of party and sectional interests, that they have grown unaware of the mounting insecurity of the world in which they live and the danger that that represents to their way of life. The point I am trying to make is that foreign affairs are every man's affairs, and yet there are millions of people in this country who do not understand that those who govern one-half of the globe seek by treachery and trickery, by violence at selected points and by sabotage and internal disruption almost everywhere else, to overcome and to enslave the other half. There are literally millions more who, while they are aware of these things, have no real sense of urgency about them. For this lack of awareness, which is one of the reasons why I submit that this country has followed a weak and ineffective foreign policy since the end of the war, right hon. Gentlemen opposite and their friends cannot escape full responsibility.
It may be that I am skating on thin ice in saying so in a maiden speech, but I must speak as I feel, and this is a matter of such grave seriousness to our country that I must say exactly what is in my mind. There seems to have been a kind of conspiracy—unwittingly, perhaps—to conceal from the people of this country the grim realities of the world in which they live. At no time was that more apparent than during the late General 283 Election when one might have expected full and frank discussion of the nation's problems. Yet right hon. Gentlemen opposite throughout the campaign studiously avoided any discussion of the subpect of foreign affairs. Indeed, when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition sought to break through the deadlock between East and West, he was accused of an election Stunt.
Why this strange reluctance to discuss foreign policy? Is it that right hon. Gentlemen opposite, for reasons they know best, believe that the British people must be spared uncomfortable truths, must be coddled and sheltered, or is it that they are painfully aware of the drift in our affairs—as indeed some of the speeches in this Debate have revealed—yet are frightened of the Communist tail which wags the Socialist dog? I do not know, and it is not for me to plumb their motives in this matter. One thing I do know, that all the lesser objectives of political parties, all the things upon which hon. Members have set their hearts, and rightly so—the Festival of Britain, the provision of council houses in the ratio of nine to one, the social services, even the provision of cattle grids—all these are quite incapable of achievement if, as a result of the pursuit of a flabby and ineffective foreign policy, the country is led to destruction.
It has been my fortune to travel about the world, and I have had the impression since 1945 that we in this country have ceased to mould events. Instead we are driven remorselessly by them. Foreign policy, it would seem, is no longer decided by the will of a British Government; we are the victims of world circumstances beyond our control and are no longer free agents; while the actions, indeed the purposes, of the British Government are decided by the actions and purposes of other governments or of the United Nations organisation.
I do not wish to be uncharitable. It is true that in some matters the Foreign Secretary has been quick to move, as in the case of his acceptance of Mr. Secretary Marshall's generous offer of assistance in 1947 and again in regard to the Brussels Treaty and the Atlantic Pact. Yet it is equally true that the initial thought and inspiration in these matters came, as Mr. Marshall has himself 284 attested, from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. It is a most painful experience to re-read the speeches made by my right hon. Friend at Fulton, Zurich and elsewhere and then to observe the gap in time between his pronouncements and their translation into some kind of action by the Government. In the conduct of foreign policy it is important not only to be right, and to be consistently right, but to be right at the right time. Moreover, it is necessary not only to take the right decisions but to be firm in implementing them. As has been pointed out in this Debate, it is true that a policy of firmness carries risks with it, but it is equally true that a policy of vacillation and timidity carries with it the certainty of ultimate defeat. After all, it is a fundamental law of life that one cannot breed strength out of weakness.
I want to ask a question. When are we going to assert ourselves? How much longer are British subjects to be maltreated, how much longer are British sailors to be murdered and British diplomats to be insulted without some retaliatory action on our part? The catalogue of injuries to our interests and affronts to our prestige since 1945 has been long and humiliating—too long and too humiliating. The difficulties which beset us, the existence of the United Nations organisation, do not rid any British Government of responsibility for safeguarding British interests. What British interests are served by maintaining, on the one hand, diplomatic relations with Governments which violate every human freedom whilst, on the other, rejecting with horror any suggestion of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Spain with the object of adding the strategic advantages of that country to the defence of Western Europe? I may be a simple soul, but to me such discrimination is hardly logical. It seems to me to be rather a case of applying in the field of diplomacy the old adage of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
While I am on this particular subject, may I also inquire what British interests are served by the recognition of the Mao Tse Tung régime in China at precisely the time when our own forces are locked in bitter and bloody conflict with Communist forces in Malaya? I was very interested to hear what the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) had to 285 say of the difference between one kind of Communism and another. Surely the hon. Member is aware that at this moment Communist agents from all over the world, and in particular from the countries bordering the Pacific, are in Peking receiving their marching orders. I cannot see the logic of recognising Communist China at this stage in advance of other Commonwealth countries.
Upon what principles—indeed, upon what short-term advantage—are such actions based? One cannot peer too far into the future, but does anyone in this House really believe that a sincere partnership with a Communist Government is possible, that one can clasp the hand of a Communist in true friendship, or that one can trust his word? If not, and I have heard no evidence in the Debate to suggest that anyone does believe that, then why at this critical stage of the "cold war" should the hand of Communism in Malaya be strengthened by this incomprehensible action?
There is, I suggest, ample evidence that a policy of firmness with the Soviet Union or her satellites would be repaid with handsome dividends. All experience in Eastern Europe has shown that a policy of friendship and collaboration with the Soviet Union emboldens that country to further aggression. But experience also has shown that, before a display of firmness and strength, as in the case of Northern Persia and Greece, the Soviet Union wilts and retreats.
What has so far stayed the hands of the men in the Kremlin? The armies and air fleets of Western Europe? The divisions of Americans in Germany, to which the hon. Member for Coventry, East, referred? The committees of Western Union? Or even the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of this House? The whole world knows that the sole restraining factor has been the possession by the United States of atomic weapons. Surely, there are two conclusions to be drawn from this: first, that the Soviet Union is unwilling to risk war with conventional weapons, in which, although we have no information, it is reasonable to suppose she has a superiority, for fear of the consequences of the use of unconventional weapons; and second, that she will continue to expand her interests in the world as long 286 as she feels that she can do so by exploiting weakness in the West. Yet the fact is that the West has the initiative, if only it would use it.
It may be asked how we, as distinct from our other partners in the grand alliance, are going to "get tough" when beset by economic difficulties at home which impair our recovery as a trading nation and our defence as an imperial Power? The strength or weakness of foreign policy is a reflection of the strength or weakness of domestic policy. The matter was perfectly expressed by the Foreign Secretary as long ago as 1947, when he told us that if he had 30 or 40 million tons of coal a year for export it would do more than anything else to strengthen his hand in getting the world back on its feet. But he did not get 30 or 40 million tons of coal at that time, nor have the Government succeeded yet in getting the full response from the people of this country, precisely because at no time in the last few years, either in domestic or foreign policy, have the people of this country been made aware of the danger in which they stand.
The art of statesmanship consists in making people aware that something needs to be done and then in persuading them to do it. Somehow we must find the means of arousing the nation from its lethargy and sense of false security, to an awareness of the very real danger in which it stands. As a beginning, I make a suggestion. It is not a new suggestion, but I advance it in the new circumstances of this Parliament.
I suggest that this House should be given very much more information on the subject of international affairs and given that information more frequently than in the past, so that future foreign affairs Debates become very much less of a Cook's tour round the world, very much less of an inquest upon the failure, disappointments and frustrations of the preceding six months, and more of a springboard for action. It should not be difficult for the Foreign Secretary to comply with this request. He has a reputation for sincerity and patriotism. He is not hampered in his difficult task in this Parliament by those hon. Gentlemen who sat in the last Parliament, for British constituencies, but who more truly represented lands east of the Iron Curtain. He should know, of course, 287 that in all that needs to be done to protect vital British interests, he has the wholehearted support of this side of the House and of all men and women of goodwill.
With the utmost respect to the Foreign Secretary, may I recall the words of a very distinguished Member of this House, speaking in not dissimilar circumstances after the loss of the American Colonies? I recommend hon. Members opposite to take note of the warning:If we make ourselves too little for the sphere of our duty, if on the contrary we do not stretch and expand our minds to the compass of their object, be well assured that everything about us will dwindle by degrees until at length our concerns are shrunk to the dimensions of our minds.We live in times of great peril, times which demand a great deal more courage and imagination in the conduct of our affairs than we have had in the past. In short, times which call for that greatness of which this country has so rich a fund.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
Following the tradition of this House, I congratulate the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) on a very forceful speech. I should also break away from the traditions of this House by congratulating him on his skill in avoiding every controversial subject possible, because, as is well known, as a part of our almost sacred traditions, we are not supposed, in a maiden speech, to introduce controversial matter. I therefore congratulate the hon. Member on having abided by the traditions of this House.
We have been discussing foreign affairs to a great extent today, and Russia has been one of the most important items raised in the Debate. We are, in fact, already treating Russia as an enemy at war, at the same time forgetting that Russia is actually still an ally of ours. Up to 1939 Russia and Communism were synonymous. Russia has been using Communism as a force of expansionism in the same way as in the past she used the Orthodox Church and, later, pan-Slavism. The expansionism of Russia has taken more effect since the defeat of Germany. The one tragedy of Europe is that the Germans are the only people who can contain Russia. But the moment 288 Germany is allowed to build herself up to the condition in which she can contain Russia, she becomes a menace to the rest of the world. That is and has been the tragedy of Europe for the last 500 years.
I should like to bring to the attention of the House in some degree the magnitude of the expansion of Communism, because that expansionism has not yet finished. It began by taking in certain Slav countries—Poland, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria—and at the same time other countries which were not Slav, such as Hungary and Roumania. These have come within the orbit of Russian domination. They are satellite countries. Russia has had her influence in Asia because the development of Communism there cannot be divorced from the influence of Russia in Asia. China has succumbed to Communism, and it may be that Communism will spread into Tibet, and there is no reason so far as we can see why it should not also pour over into Afghanistan. In this way, if there is to be trouble in India, between India and Pakistan, and if war breaks out between those two countries, there is every possibility of Communism spreading to the Indian peninsula and so engulfing the whole of South-Eastern Asia.
It is a magnitude that few of us envisage at present, but even that is not the end. There is nothing to prevent it from spreading to Africa as well. Some time ago, in one of the Debates in this House, I said that the battles of the next war might very well be fought not in Europe at all, but in Africa. Last year I spoke to Dr. Jansen, who is the Minister in charge of native affairs in the Union Government, at a time when they were having trouble with the Indians in Natal. I said that surely it would be no difficulty for India to absorb another quarter of a million people. He said, "No, they wanted to keep them there as a foothold." So that is the measure of how Communism may spread throughout the world.
It is not the sort of Communism which would be dominated by Moscow. This very Communism spreading throughout the world, may bring about the breaking of the whole power of Russia. There is an adage in Russian which says that Russia always breaks her own back. That is the magnitude of the possible expansion of Communism.
289 But let me reply to the hon. Member for Billericay who said that this country is a bankrupt country, a weak country. This country, which has spent £28,000 million fighting the last war, and has recovered from that, is by no means a bankrupt country; and is the centre of a great Commonwealth of Nations—
§ Mr. Braine
If I may interrupt the hon. Member, and if my recollection serves me right, I did not say that this was a bankrupt country; I said she was near bankruptcy.
§ Mr. Follick
Far from being a weak country, it is the centre of a Commonwealth without whom it would be impossible to make any effective resistance to Communism. The United States alone cannot possibly do it. The United States has to depend upon this island and Australia because those are the two strong points without the help of which, the United States cannot resist Communism.
Do the Russians themselves want war? That is the question. Knowing the dangers that are besetting them by this expansion of Communism in these other countries, do they want war? Russia knows more about Asia than any other country in the world, because more than half of Russia is in Asia. Russia knows that if there were another war, and she lost it, the consequences would be much more disastrous for her than the consequences of the last war were for Germany. Russia is the only great European Power which has fought three major wars this century; and each one has been more disastrous for her than the previous one.
It is true that after the last war she increased her territory, but that does not mean to say that she has not suffered a major disaster by having fought the last war. We ourselves have suffered disaster. We are no longer the powerful nation that we were. This same disaster has hit Russia. Russia knows that if another war were entered into by her and if she were defeated, whatever accretion of territory she has been able to achieve since the last war would 290 be lost, in the same way as Germany lost the territory which Hitler procured for her.
In the Debate on the Estimates, I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition speaking about the submarines which could do 20 knots and the jet planes which Russia was producing in tremendous quantities. I was in Moscow in 1933 when the first motorcar produced on an industrial scale was shown to the people. If Russia has been able to improve her industry, despite the years of war, until it has reached a scale where it can compete successfully with our own, and even produce better machines of war than our industry, then the whole of her system of education must be on a very much higher level than we imagine. In order to produce this class of goods industrially, not only are factories required. A whole basis of primary and secondary schools, universities, polytechnics, technical institutes, and professorships are needed to secure tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of technicians and scientists.
If the Russians have reached that stage in such a short time, surely they must be the first to understand the great future which awaits them in the development of Asia if they wish to continue living in peace. They must realise that war would smash the whole of that achievement. I cannot believe that the Russians want to lose all that they have gained when they are the first nation to know what are the disastrous effects of war. Not only have they seen the effects in their own house; they have also seen them in their neighbour's house. I have heard a lot about slave labour in Russia, about concentration camps and the forceful means that the Russians employ for keeping their people under control. One can keep ignorant people under by means of arms, but one cannot keep thinking people under—especially thinking people such as the Russians, because for the last century the Russians have been the most revolutionary people in Europe. Even while the Russians were ignorant, the Czarist armies and the Cossacks could not keep them down. They revolted in 1906, and in 1917 they blew the whole thing up sky high.
Will anyone tell me that that nation, with the educational basis which Russia 291 must have in order to produce this industrial output, would put up with the harsh treatment which is supposed to exist in that country? I do not know; I have been to Russia three times, but Russia will not let me in at present. I believe that it is this secrecy in which the Russians have enshrouded their country, that is making it difficult for us to understand Russia. If they would only open up their country by means similar to those of Intourist and other systems, such as have been used before for the encouragement of tourist traffic, I believe it would be better for all of us. If we could only get an understanding of the Russian Government and people, we would have a better understanding of their difficulties.
The real trouble with Russia, of course, is that she went from one system of absolute rule to the opposite extreme, from the absolute rule of the Czarist system to the dictatorship rule of Lenin. We do not know at present how far Russia has developed from the old system, but if we could only get into the country and find out, it would be better for the whole world. Indeed, I say that it would be better for the rest of the world if Russia would open her doors.
There is one spark of hope for us in what is happening in Yugoslavia. Just as Marshal Tito has resisted the dictates of Moscow, other satellite nations may follow Yugoslavia's example. Russia may prevent Poland or Czechoslovakia from doing it, but she could not prevent them all from doing it at one time, and if the satellite countries would follow the Yugoslav system and all insist upon their own national development, that alone would have its effect. If we are to depend upon Germany, we shall find that what has happened in the past will happen again. The moment that Germany has built up sufficient strength to contain Russia, she will become a menace to every other nation in the world. For that reason, I say that if we can only get a better understanding of Russia and of the problems of Russia, and if we realise, as Russia herself must realise, that the whole of her future would be destroyed in risking war, we might rid ourselves of this bugbear, this nightmare and this fear of Russia as an enemy, when she may not be an enemy at all.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. De Chair (Paddington, South)
This Debate has been marked by a number of remarkably good maiden speeches, and I have myself almost felt that, as I have been out of the House for four and a half years, I should ask the indulgence of the House this evening. As I made my maiden speech in this House 15 years ago, at the time of the Abyssinian war, it would not be appropriate of me to show too much maidenly modesty at this stage. It is a fact that foreign affairs were worrying and preoccupying the House at that time owing to the resignation of the then Foreign Secretary in the opening stages of the House of Commons which succeeded the election that had been fought on foreign affairs, although in those days we did not regard foreign affairs as an election stunt.
Since 1935, half the world has been laid in ruins and the fabric of Western Europe has been revolutionised, and one wonders from what pinnacles of fame or depths of disaster in 15 years time those who have been making their maiden speeches today may look back upon the international situation which confronts us at the present time. Will they laugh together and say, "All we had to worry about in 1950 was the hydrogen bomb and the presence of 300 or 400 Russian divisions ready to march in any direction"? It is difficult to visualise to what pass the world may come in the next 15 years unless some solution is found to the grave problems which we have been discussing today.
In this connection, I wish to take up the point dealt with by the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Blackburn) about the deadlock over the control of atomic power. I think he was right in pointing out that there is not much realisation in this country of the extent to which Russian delegates—for whatever their words may be worth—have gone at Lake Success in the matter of concessions over the question of inspection of atomic control.
The gulf that separates the majority and the minority plans over the control of atomic energy, that is to say, broadly speaking, the American and the Russian points of view, is simply that, whereas Mr. Vyshinsky did go so far as to agree to periodic inspection—not, as the hon. 293 Member said, at stated intervals, but at irregular intervals to be determined by the Control Commission working without the veto within its sphere—the American point of view, as embodied in the Baruch plan, was for ownership of all processes of atomic developments in all the countries concerned.
If we really want to make some new approach to Russia, whether it be the top level, the middle level or the lower level, inside or outside U.N.O., it is quite useless to do so expecting that Russia will ever agree to a system of atomic control which requires the ownership of the means of atomic production inside the U.S.S.R. She simply will not consider a system of control on that basis. Yet Mr. Acheson stated very recently, indeed on 8th February this year, that he considered the Baruch plan still valid and saw no reason why the U.S.A. should alter its approach or modify its proposal.
If that is so, there is no hope—and we should face it—of reaching agreement on atomic control with Russia, with her mania for secrecy and her desire to develop atomic energy for industrial purposes. She will never agree to a system of international ownership of production. Indeed, it is remarkable that she has come so far out of her shell as she has and that Mr. Vyshinsky should have agreed on behalf of his Government to periodic inspection at intervals to be determined whenever the Control Commission deems it necessary. I only put that forward because I think a good deal of our discussion about breaking the deadlock is merely academic if we are going to insist on the Baruch plan and what the Americans regard as an absolutely watertight system of control.
I now wish to pass to another aspect of our relationship with the United Nations organisation—the question of the future of Italy's former Colonies under the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations organisation. There is a good deal of anxiety in this House and in this country about a new form of power politics which is beginning to appear at Lake Success. Under it, for example, by being able to mobilise the Latin-American bloc and playing off East against West in Europe the Italians are able to secure concessions under the United Nations which were never the intention of the United Nations Charter or of the Trustee- 294 ship Council. We find that Italy has been granted the administration of Italian Somaliland for ten years. In the case of Tripolitania I do not think His Majesty's Government were guiltless, because, by the notorious Bevin-Sforza agreement, the Foreign Secretary agreed to hand over Tripolitania to Italian rule again.
No doubt obsessed by the desire to keep Italy out of the Communist bloc, he was anxious to give Italy this concession. But it must have been in defiance of expert advice in Tripolitania and of the military control there. I am glad to say that the United Nations Assembly turned down the proposal. But in its place they suggested that Libya is to have independence by 1st January, 1952—not merely Tripolitania but also Cyrenaica and the Fezzan. When he replies I should like to know from the Foreign Secretary what practical steps are being taken now by our military administration in Tripolitania to prepare for this transition of power, which is to come so very soon, and how it is to be achieved. While it is easy to see how independence can be given to Cyrenaica under Emir Idris el Senussi, the chief of the Senussi, it is difficult to see what sort of constitution is proposed, and is being prepared within two years, for the whole of Libya. Are the French agreeable to hand over the Fezzan to this independent administration?
At the moment there is a commission of the United Nations in Eritrea consulting the wishes of the inhabitants. I gather it is proving a very difficult task, because so many different points of view are being placed before them. It may be that the views of the Muslim League of the western province, who are beginning to favour partition, may find acceptance. Whatever happens I sincerely hope that once again we shall not be confronted with a system of power politics under which Italy, will be able once again, to secure control of Eritrea.
There is a further point with which I should like to deal with regard to this area. That is the question of the revision of the Egyptian Treaty of 1936, which is still in operation and lasts, in effect, for 20 years. There is a provision that after 10 years, that is after 1946, by agreement of the high contracting parties, the treaty can be revised. The present Government 295 of Nahas Pasha was the Government with which we concluded the treaty in 1936. Presumably, therefore, we should have a favourable reception from his Government for a revision of the treaty. It is worth noting that the revision Clause in Article 16 of the Egyptian Treaty provided that any future alliance shall maintain the principles contained in Articles 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the 1936 Treaty, which in effect embodied most of the strategic advantages of that treaty.
I hope that it will not be beyond the capacity of His Majesty's Government when they come to discuss these matters with the Egyptian Government, as they are bound to do shortly, to convince them of the fact that the Canal Zone upon which we have lavished so much money and where we have such a large establishment, is not an infringement of Egyptian sovereignty at all. It lies outside the Nile Delta in a barren area of desert which we have made to blossom—perhaps not very much like a rose, but at least we have made it habitable for soldiers. I spent some of the most uncomfortable periods of my life in that place, and I would not say that it was comfortable. The Egyptians need not feel that we have robbed them of any particularly fruitful area of desert.
At the same time, when we consider the menace to the world which has been the subject of discussion in this House today, and of which the Egyptians themselves are only too fully aware, I do not believe that it is impossible to convince them that this base is an adjunct to their national sovereignty. If we in this country are able to provide a bombing base for Americans in East Anglia without any sense of infringement of our national sovereignty, the Government should not find it difficult to persuade the Egyptians to regard the matter in the same light. The Foreign Secretary chose not to open this Debate but rather to leave it to hon. Members to make a tour d'horizon. I hope that when he winds up he will not complain if he finds that he has got too much horizon to tour.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
I crave the indulgence of this House. I have sat here very patiently today and have listened to so many brilliant 296 speeches that I am afraid my maiden speech has by now become an old maid. The circumstances which have made this speech possible are, perhaps, in these days of Parliamentary representation, becoming somewhat remote. By that I mean that I have come directly from the benches of a factory to the benches of the Commons, and I think it augurs well for our Parliamentary system that even in these days when these benches are full of legal, journalistic, scholastic and commercial talent, such a thing is still possible. I think it is a good thing for the Labour Party, too, whose strength and balance have always been derived from the essential and the productive members of the working class.
The subject of foreign affairs is, I know, a very difficult one for a maiden speech, but I think that all maiden speeches are difficult, and as one has to start somewhere one might as well start on the most difficult. I fought my own election campaign on this subject, and, as hon. Members know, the result was somewhat surprising. The Communists and the pro-Communist elements of the last Parliament have been scattered to the four winds and I am happy to say that I played no small part in this myself.
The difficult problems confronting the world, the United Nations organisation and this country in particular, are tremendous, but the greater the problems the greater must be the effort to overcome them. The difficulties of Great Britain are, in my opinion, greater than the difficulties of any other nation. We have always been the potential moral leaders of the world. We changed from potential to actual moral leaders with the advent of the Labour Government in 1945. But we inherited a situation which in every phase of our national life has no parallel in history, and it is to the everlasting credit of the Labour Government that we have made the progress that we have.
The disgraceful neglect by hon. Members of the Opposition, who had charge of British foreign policy in the bad years between 1931 and 1939, is something upon which historians will record their just and true verdict. I do not wish to dwell upon it tonight, but the situation confronting us today is in no small measure the result of that neglect. We can only hope to secure and expand 297 the fortunes and economic destiny of our people, both in this country and in the Commonwealth, if Great Britain is a respected power in foreign affairs, in concert with all freedom-loving democracies on equal terms under the authority of the United Nations.
Our greatest problem, in my opinion, is the Asiatic and Far East problem, and I believe the successful settlement of this problem will settle the destiny and the peace of the world for many generations to come—I hope for all time. Despite what has been said today about Germany, I believe India is the focal point upon which our policy and the policy of the United Nations should chiefly concentrate. Its great potential, its millions of population, and its proximity to China are matters of supreme importance. The similarities between their present systems, the religious institutions, the cultures and the abject poverty are at once an object lesson and a challenge to the Western democracies. Too long, far too long, Western civilisation and, in particular, Great Britain, neglected these millions. Our only concern, I think, was to exploit them. If we had lifted them to a higher social plane when we had the opportunity and the power, to a higher degree of social well-being, we should not today be in our present state in foreign affairs.
Time is short and time is not on our side in the world today. If we want to save the Far East and India from Communism, we must act boldly and we must act at once. The solution of these problems does not lie in the use of military force or in the atomic bomb or the hydrogen bomb. I say that for consumption in the Soviet Union, too. The solution lies in the immediate expansion to the rest of the world of the Socialism we are now enjoying in this country, and with all possible speed. We must give to these people the practical rewards and applications of democratic Socialism without delay, as an alternative to Communism. They must be offered something better than Communism.
The vast majority of them have for centuries been without standing, without hope and without goods in their own land. The United States of America have some very serious thinking to do in these matters. I am, of course, thank- 298 ful for the generous aid given by the United States through the agency of Marshall Aid, but it is not enough. What is wanted, even in the United States, is a change of political heart and purpose very quickly. I know they are now in a process of moving ever so slowly towards a welfare State. Their great industrial potential, along with our own, can quickly change the political face of the globe. We both need export markets for our economic survival, and the greater the consumer capacity of the rest of the world the greater our own social benefits.
Let us uplift these people to a full democracy, a full consumer democracy, and the threat of Communism will vanish for ever. I know this is a tremendous project. We have in this country a political and economic democracy which has been brought to us over a period of 800 years. If we want to secure the freedom of mankind from the tyranny of Communism all over the world, we must marshal all the forces of democracy in a great effort.
I find myself today in full agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) who laid great stress upon the problems of India and the importance of peace in that part of the world. I believe that in that part of the world lies the deciding of the world's peace—that it lies there more than in any other part of the world. It is becoming more patent every day in Western and Eastern Europe that the time will come when the European peoples ruled by Communists will, by their own volition, shake off the people who now dominate them. In Eastern Europe advantage was taken by the Cominform of the fact that physical fortunes and the will to resist after the war were very low indeed.
I believe that in years to come the peoples of Eastern Europe will settle this problem for themselves. The position in regard to China and India is, however, far different. We must pay our long outstanding debt to India, give all the help we can to Pakistan and to Pundit Nehru, lift up the peoples of India to full democratic and consumer status as quickly as possible, and let that advance radiate from India through the Far East as an example and alternative to Soviet Communism.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
It falls to my lot to congratulate very sincerely the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney). He need not have been diffident about making his maiden speech, and we hope we shall hear him on many other occasions. If I may say so to him, he has endeared himself particularly to me, because he put out of this House a former Member who used often to cross swords with me in foreign affairs Debates in a previous Parliament.
The reason why we asked for this Debate at this time was that we had a very strong impression that the Government, in this most important field of national policy, were marking time, and nothing that has been said from the other side of the House today has removed that impression. If I may quote two sentences used by the two right hon. Gentlemen most responsible for foreign affairs, I would quote the Foreign Secretary, who, after my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made his speech in Edinburgh in relation to the Russian deadlock, said, roughly speaking, "I have done my best." I would also quote the Prime Minister who, in the Debate on defence in this House only a week or so ago, in reference to implementing the findings of the Colombo Conference and the Atlantic Treaty, said that in these mattersOne cannot force the pace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March; Vol. 472, c. 1397.]However much the Foreign Secretary may have achieved—and he has much to his credit—we shall not gain security in this country by resting on the right hon. Gentleman's laurels. Nor can we possibly afford in this country at this present time to mark time in our foreign policy. We on these benches have a deep conviction that it is Great Britain's rôle in world affairs to take the lead, and unless we force the pace at this time many another country which finds itself within the Russian orbit will lose its freedom.
The first plea—and here I join with the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North—the first plea I would make to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House is this, that they should take positive action, and that they should begin by taking positive action in respect of what is called the "cold war." We have heard a good deal in the speeches today about the "cold war." Of 300 course, the "cold war" is relentless and menacing. Russia has perfected a technique in this matter of using the Communist party first to probe and then to soften the weak spots in any national resistance, and always behind the Communist spearhead are the armed forces of the Soviet Union ready to mobilise. That is perfectly true. Although the situation is grim, I believe that, as the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby) said in his speech, this is a situation which we have to face and which may last for a very long time. There are factors in it which are not without encouragement and may even be to our advantage. Communism, as it has spread over Europe, has created an opposite force, and that opposite force is based on the most potent and powerful of all things, and that is moral and religious conviction. We should be trying to turn that to our advantage.
It is now revealed beyond doubt in many countries that may have had doubts after the war, that Russian policy is no more than a ruthless exercise in power politics, and the recognition of this fact should give us the opportunity to bring into alliance many countries who, before this situation was revealed, were looking at each other with eyes of suspicion. Another fact which I would bring to the Minister's notice, and which I think has escaped attention generally, is this: That in no case has Russia either moved her own troops or ordered one of her satellites to move their troops where she has had a clear warning from the United States of America or from ourselves. In no case has that happened.
I make this suggestion: When we looked at Europe three or four years ago it was quite possible to believe that Communism would overrun France, Germany and Italy, but there has been a spontaneous natural reaction, and the tide of Communism has been pushed back in France, Germany and Italy, and even in Eastern Europe at the present time there are certain rocks beginning to appear in this Communist sea.
I believe that the intelligent use of political warfare, if we like to call it such, certainly of political propaganda intelligently directed, can, at this very moment, save two countries and bring them out of the Russian orbit. I am not going to name the countries, but I 301 think that if intelligent political propaganda were directed into them, they could be saved and are ripe for saving now. I know that we do direct a certain amount of political propaganda into Eastern Europe, but I do not believe that it is co-ordinated and that it is nearly as efficient and effective as it could be. There is a very large and effective broadcasting station in Turkey. I ask the Minister of State to think of this: Will he from Norway through Western Europe to Turkey see if he can organise a co-ordinated propaganda offensive into the satellite countries on Russia's borders.
I could not help thinking when I saw the obvious concern and terror with which Russia views any knowledge of the Western world being brought into satellite countries and behind the Iron Curtain that that is a measure of her fear. We ought to be all the more insistent to push a knowledge of the Western world into those countries and to help those people, the churches and others, who are fighting a valiant battle behind the Iron Curtain for freedom. It seems to me that for a comparatively small output in money and energy we might achieve a great success which would have very significant repercussions on the military planning which we must do should a war develop and start in that area.
I now turn in the short time remaining to me to the consideration of an overall security system. I think it is not unfair to say that Russia knows absolutely what she is doing in her own foreign policy. She has an over-all foreign policy, she has regional foreign policies, and she can switch from one to the other region whichever serves her best at the time. I believe it is not unfair to say that at the present time, after five years of foreign policy conducted by the right hon. Gentleman, His Majesty's Government have no over-all constructive foreign policy and are weak in every region which we ought to be in a position to defend.
I look round at these regions—India, the Middle East and Western Europe—and in none of them are we strong enough either to impress our enemies or to gain the confidence of our friends. An hon. Member who has just made his maiden speech said we must be bold and strong, but the gaps that I see do not enable us to be so. There are yawning gaps in the Far East, the Middle East 302 and in Europe in the diplomatic and the political fields.
I want to direct the attention of the Minister of State to the problem. Let us take the Far Eastern region. The Foreign Secretary and the party opposite cannot escape responsibility in this matter because it was they who created a vacuum of power in India. I am not criticising them for leaving India but I am criticising them for scuttling out in a hurry. All the way through history a vacuum of power has been—it always will be so—a temptation to an aggressor which cannot be resisted. We left India before India was able to defend herself and before India and Pakistan had had a chance to settle their dispute over Kashmir. I ask the Minister of State if the Foreign Secretary is, so to speak, knocking the heads of India and Pakistan together. Is he continuously keeping at India and Pakistan to settle this difficulty? Let him realise that unless that difficulty between India and Pakistan is settled there is no basis at all for the continental defence of India.
Let me turn for a moment to the Middle East and to Turkey. It is well known that Turkey has for many years now been sustaining a full armament programme and that that is putting a very severe strain on Turkish economy. Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that Turkey is in a position to meet any challenge that may come from Russia in that part of the world? The Socialist Government lends money fairly freely about the world and I would far rather lend money to Turkey than to Burma, because I am convinced that it would show a far higher dividend in security. The Turks would fight.
There is another problem which His Majesty's Government seem to me to be neglecting in the Middle East, the co-ordinated defence of those great regions inhabited by the Arabs. When this question is raised, I am told, "Oh, but His Majesty's Government think that Turkey ought to organise these regions into a great defence system." The Turks will fight but they have not the traditions or the diplomatic authority to organise those regions. Great Britain, and Great Britain alone, can do it and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to see to it now that conversations are started so that effective opposition can be organised in that area to 303 any advance that Russia may take in that direction.
Lastly I come to Europe. I shall not deal with the question of how far Germany should be re-armed, but I express the hope that if Germany is re-armed in any measure, it should be done with the absolute agreement of the French and the Americans. I want to draw the attention of the Government to one aspect of European defence to which far too little attention has been given, the Scandinavian Republic and their contribution to the Atlantic Pact. We may put our frontier in future on the Eastern frontier of Germany, or we may contemplate the possibility that Russia will advance across Europe. In the first case, if we have our frontier on the Eastern frontier of Germany, Scandinavia is an essential flank guard; in the other case, if we contemplate the possibility of Russia advancing across Germany, then the Scandinavian peninsula again is in a strategic position which might prevent the Russians ever undertaking that venture.
I understand that Norway under the Atlantic Pact has made certain reservations; that she is a member of the Atlantic Pact and subscribes to it but will not allow the Americans or ourselves to have bases in Norway. Could the Minister of State and the Foreign Secretary say to the Norwegians, who ought to be able to appreciate it by now, that it is no use taking these half measures. In modern warfare, unless one has a very advanced state of preparation, one is condemned before one starts. Every argument seems to me to point to the necessity for the Foreign Secretary reopening with the Norwegian Government the question of Norway allowing both air and naval bases to ourselves and to the United States of America.
Lately, Mr. Acheson has made a most helpful series of speeches and has talked of the necessity for total diplomacy. I agree with him that nothing short of total diplomacy is possible in the present situation if we are to survive. And 1 point once more to those great gaps at the diplomatic and political level and say to the Minister of State that, until these gaps are filled, our military preparations will not make any sense at all. I ask him to ask the Foreign Secretary, both in respect of India and of Turkey and of the 304 Scandinavian Peninsula—in particular, Norway—to start talks with a view to completing an over-all intelligible system of defence. Our prime objective in all these regions must be to make ourselves so strong that we are feared by the enemy and gain the confidence and respect of our friends; and we must aim in every region to make them into a coherent whole, so that in the event of war we can build up the Grand Alliance on which always the safety of this country has depended.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Pargiter (Southall)
It has been rather interesting to listen to hon. Gentlemen opposite attacking the Government for pursuing a weak and vacillating foreign policy, and at the same time to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition saying that there is nothing between him and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, since the policy which the Leader of the Opposition has been advocating has been pursued by my right hon. Friend. The Opposition should really make up their minds which of these two arguments is right: whether the policy which they have advocated was weak and vacillating, or whether the policy which is being followed is a strong one, as their leader claims it is. I do not agree that our foreign policy has been weak. It has been determined and single-minded in purpose with a view to maintaining world peace. I am not at all sure, however, that some of the speeches which we have heard today from the Opposition have been designed to that end.
In returning to the subject of Europe, I may not have many hon. Members with me when I say that I believe that not only should Western Germany not be re-armed; I believe also at this stage that Western Germany should not be admitted to the Council of Europe. If it were admitted, it would inevitably follow that Eastern Germany would be formally admitted to the Cominform and the gap between Eastern and Western Europe, instead of being narrowed, would become wider. It is vitally important that we should at all costs explore every possible avenue with a view to obtaining for Germany a peace treaty which will permit of a united Germany. That is of cardinal importance, and I do not believe it will be achieved by widening still 305 further the differences between Eastern and Western Germany.
Nor do I think that it is Russian policy to start a shooting war. Russia has been far too successful in the method which she has been pursuing to want to start a war. In any case, this happens to be rather a battle of ideas and ideologies, which will not be defeated by the orthodox methods. I think Russia also believes that if a very large proportion of the efforts and resources of Western Europe and the United States can be diverted to the maintenance of large armed forces and war production, to that extent will the standard of life of the people be reduced and thereby form the basic ground upon which Communism feeds.
I believe that we ought to endeavour to work, not for greater armaments, but, if at all possible, towards a progressive reduction of armaments. The proposition by the Leader of the Opposition that we should be talking to Russia from a position of strength does not appear to have worked out in practice. The fact remains that when the United States were, as far as we know, the sole possessor of the atom bomb, we obviously ought to have been in a far more powerful position to conduct negotiations; but that did not prove to be the case. Therefore, the basis of arms does not appear to be a ground upon which we are likely to achieve very much progress in our relationships with Eastern Europe.
Now that Russia, according to reports, has the atom bomb, this seems to be the time when we should say that we can begin exactly as equals in negotiations, and we should see whether it is possible to get round the table once again to find some means of controlling atomic energy and abolishing atomic weapons of all kinds. I do not subscribe to the view that we shall get peace through power, which was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, or that because terrible weapons are possessed on either side that is likely to prevent war. They have not prevented wars in the past; nor do I think they will in the future. The obvious thing is to endeavour to get round the table to see whether a way can be found out of the present impasse. That will not be easy, but an attempt should be made, and I hope the Foreign Secretary will use all his great influence, either through the United Nations or through the Great 306 Powers, to see that some attempt is made at the earliest opportunity
This is not an occasion when we should touch very much on affairs outside Europe, but I feel we ought to know before very long what is happening in the Far East, not only in China, but also in Japan. There is an extraordinary dearth of information about what is happening in that part of Japan which is controlled by the United States of America. We have heard that it is the policy of General MacArthur to create a full-blooded capitalist organisation in Japan. If that is so, among the things we should like to know about it is, who is to control that kind of organisation? Is it to be the old autocracy which was in charge of Japanese aggression before? How far is it financed by American private capital, and what is its object? How far is it likely to be in line with the policy of this country and how far is it likely to be inimical to our interests?
I believe there is grave disquiet in this country about the possibilities of Japanese aggression—commercial aggression at any rate—which is being fostered very largely by American capital, as is common in all capitalist countries where they have a cheap supply or a market. These things are not all separated, and they indicate that there is no concerted policy between Britain and America. Certainly there may be a concerted policy as far as Europe is concerned, but there appear to be some wide divergences of policy between Britain and America in the Far East. I hope, therefore, that in the near future we shall have some information from my right hon. Friend on the position in the Far East, particularly in Japan.
I come back to the question of Europe. I repeat that we ought to be working towards a progressive reduction of armaments at the present time. I believe that Western Union should be used, not as the basis for building larger armaments, but to see how far there can be an effective reduction. I believe peace will come through reduction of armaments throughout the world and not through building them up.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
The hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) complained in the early part of his speech of the criticisms which he 307 said had been uttered from this side of the House of the foreign policy, or lack of foreign policy, of His Majesty's Government. He then proceeded to deliver an indictment, far more severe than any speech we have yet heard, on the Foreign Secretary himself. The hon. Member's speech was based on two particular arguments the force of which I do not seek for the moment to controvert. One was that there was a complete lack of co-ordination between British and American policy in the Far East. That may be so, I do not know. If it is so, it is hardly a bouquet for the Foreign Secretary. The second was that it was wrong to try to bring Western Germany into the Council of Europe, but that we ought to wait until all Germany was united and bring the whole of Germany into the Council of Europe. That point of view—
§ Mr. Pargiter
I did not say that we should bring Western Germany into the Council of Europe because I believe that the time when we have a united Germany will also be the time when the Council of Europe will be unnecessary.
§ Mr. Eden
What I understood the hon. Member to say, and I listened very carefully, was that he did not wish Western Germany brought into the Council of Europe; he wanted either to wait until there was a united Germany or until I know not when. That is the exact reverse of the foreign policy which the Foreign Secretary is following, and I think rightly following in the present circumstances. The Foreign Secretary is rightly proposing that that part of Germany that is free should be admitted into the Council of Europe, and I do not myself see that he has any choice in the matter but to do that. In every point which the hon. Member made in the course of his short speech he was in direct opposition to the Foreign Secretary. If the hon. Member has not quite understood that he should read his speech tomorrow and then see where he stands.
We have had a Debate which has inevitably, on this topic, covered a wide range of ground, and we have had an attempt by Members in all parts of the House to try to make constructive contributions in an international situation which is causing all of us ever-increasing concern. I think that was fundamentally 308 the temper of the House. We have had some remarkable maiden speeches. I am not going to attempt to list them all, and it would be inviduous to try to do so, but I must say a word about that of my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Hopkinson), who, as the Foreign Secretary knows, has for many years given most valuable service in the Foreign Office. Party politics apart, we can all feel that his wisdom and experience will be of value in our foreign affairs Debates. I must also say a word of welcome in respect of the speech of the hon. Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom), who showed first hand knowledge of the German problems which he was discussing and also, I thought, added to our stock of information; he certainly added to mine. I cannot fail to refer also to my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery). Quite apart from the intrinsic merits of his speech, we were delighted to hear his father's son address us for the first time.
I now turn to the Debate, and would begin by saying that I wish to raise two topics which have not yet been mentioned before I make one or two observations about the European scene. I desire to say a word or two about the speech of the Minister of State. That was also in a sense a maiden speech, as this was the first time he has spoken for the Foreign Office from that Box. I offer him both my sympathy and understanding. I know it is a most unenviable task to make one's first speech for the Foreign Office from that Box. I do not wish to criticise his speech but there were in it quite a lot of those old cliches that come trotting out. I know, because I have in my day used them an awful lot myself. But we have had almost more than our share tonight. I beg the Minister of State, before he comes to that Box the next time, just to dust them over a bit and see if some of them cannot be put back on those Foreign Office shelves where they really belong.
I beg him also to try to avoid that catalogue of all the good deeds in which the Foreign Office is to be engaged in the next six weeks. Our Foreign Office people do work frightfully hard, but when he produced a list of the meetings that they are to attend I felt tempted to interrupt to ask him whether they were all home 309 fixtures or whether some were perhaps away fixtures. I think he should cut them out too next time and we shall listen with all the more pleasure to him discharging his difficult task.
I do not intend to attempt to follow the Minister of State through the fields he traversed or to deal with the topics that have been dealt with by my right hon. Friend and others, such as O.E.E.C. and United Europe. I wish to put one or two points to the Foreign Secretary before mentioning the European scene. The first is a relatively minor one, but not, I think, altogether unimportant. I should like him to tell us, if he can, something of what is to be the future of the organisation we used to know as the I.R.O.—the International Refugee Organisation. I think the position was that last October the General Council of the I.R.O. decided that the organisation would go on for six or nine months after 30th June this year. Then I think last December a resolution was passed by the General Assembly for closing down the I.R.O. by 1st January next year. As I understand it, the work is to be taken over by a High Commissioner and there is to be an office in Geneva to handle these matters. I feel a little uneasy about this and I want to be reassured by the Foreign Secretary, if he can do it.
There is possibly a greater need now for the work of an organisation like the I.R.O. than there was at the time of the cessation of hostilities. The problem is a human problem which is absolutely intractable by the ordinary Government means, and if the Foreign Secretary has any doubt as to whether this new organisation will adequately replace the excellent work being done by the I.R.O. now under Sir Arthur Rucker who is our chief representative, and others, I would suggest that he should not hesitate to go to U.N.O. and seek to extend the life of this organisation; if he thinks that the work would be better done in that way, than by some new organisation, the details of which are not known to us. At any rate, I would submit that for his consideration.
Now I turn to another topic which has not been mentioned today at all. At this late hour it is not easy to find new topics; but this is a new one to which I do attach importance, and I hope that the House will also. Can we be given by the Foreign 310 Secretary any information as to what is now going on in respect of the Haifa oil refineries? We have seen a number of reports in the Press, but we have not had any information in the House, except what the right hon. Gentleman told my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, South (Mr. De Chair) on 20th March last. I have here a cutting from the "Manchester Guardian" in a message from Cairo dated 12th February—while we were very vigorously occupied elsewhere. It quotes the Egyptian newspaper, "A1 Balagh" which published what it called the text of a conversation between the right hon. Gentleman and Nahas Pasha, the Egyptian Prime Minister.
I am not suggesting for a moment that that text is what passed between the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister of Egypt. I have had enough experience of quotations from various newspapers foreign and domestic, not to attempt to do that. But according to that report it is alleged that the Prime Minister of Egypt refused categorically to allow the passage of crude oil through the Suez Canal to Haifa, "either at present or in the future." I do not know whether that report is correct or not. I hope it is not; in fact I expect it is not. But I hope that the Foreign Secretary will be able to give us some information on the matter.
It must appear to any outside observer that the present position in respect of the Haifa refineries is unfortunate from every point of view, and from the standpoint of every single country interested in the matter at all. So far as we are concerned in this country, the fact that the refineries are not working is, I think I am right in saying, costing us about 50 million dollars a year, which is a great deal more than the £17 million sterling which is its strict equivalent. It must be costing Iraq a great deal too in royalties and revenue and it must also be costing Israel a great deal. It is a thoroughly unsatisfactory business all round.
I think I am right in saying that in the spring of last year armistices were signed between Israel and the Arab States, with one exception, which was Iraq. Cannot something be done to bring about an armistice between Iraq and Palestine? Cannot the right hon. Gentleman offer his good offices, with others if he wishes, though I think his own would be sufficient? He should try him- 311 self. What advantage can this situation be to anybody? It is just one where I should have thought that a quiet diplomatic effort might produce results.
After all, last August the United Nations lifted the embargo on the supply of arms to these Middle Eastern countries. At that time, His Majesty's Government expressed the hope that freedom of passage through the Suez Canal would be restored. I must say that I think that was a very modest hope. It was one that was fully entitled to be fulfilled, because freedom of passage through the Canal is certainly implicit in, and even guaranteed by, the Suez Canal Convention of 1888, of which I have a note here. The terms of Article IV of that Convention are quite clear. In fact, I think I must inflict them upon the House. It says:The Maritime Canal remaining open in time of war as a free passage, even to the ships of war of belligerents, according to the terms of Article I of the present Treaty, the High Contracting Parties agree that no right of war, no act of hostility, nor any act having for its object to obstruct the free navigation of the Canal, shall be committed in the Canal and its ports of access, as well as within a radius of three marine miles from those ports even though the Ottoman Empire …as it was then—… should be one of the belligerent Powers.I think I am right in saying that during the war, in 1940, neutral shipping did go through the Canal with lights on and unimpeded.
I mentioned to the right hon. Gentleman that I should raise this topic, because it seems to me that the Egyptian Government have not any justification in international law for denying to our ships, or indeed to any ships, passage through the Canal. There was under the Covenant of the League a proviso, I think under Article 20, by which the League could take a decision to override all other international agreements. There is a similar proviso in the Charter of the United Nations, as the Prime Minister will remember—he and I had something to do with that. I think it is Article 103. As far as I know, none of these provisos have been invoked in this case. Therefore, the existing instrument—the Article to which I have referred—stands.
312 I am sorry to deal with this matter at a little length, but it is of importance not only in this case but as a principle for the future of this international highway. The Egyptian case is, I think, that they are not interfering with the ships in the Canal itself, but they are exercising their rights of control in the territorial waters at either end of the Canal, at Port Said and Suez Bay. If so, I would point out that that is precisely what the Convention says they should not do. It says that they should not interfere with the ships at ports at either end of the Canal or within three miles of those ports. Therefore, in the light of the armistice signed between Israel and Egypt, this tension should be brought to an end. I suggest that this state of affairs should not continue.
Nahas Pasha, the present Prime Minister of Egypt, who is known personally to many of us in this House, has shown himself in the past to be a statesman of wise and sagacious views. It was my privilege to sign the Egyptian Treaty with him in 1936 and he was, let me add, a very loyal friend and ally in the darkest days of the war. I remember being severely criticised in this House for exchanging messages with him of a reasonably optimistic character when the war was going not very well, though what sort of messages it was thought that we should exchange with each other at that time, I am sure I do not know. I cannot help feeling that statesmanship here ought to be able to find ways and means of dealing with this situation.
There is no doubt at all about what is happening as a result of all this. All of us who are interested in one way or another—Britain, Iraq, Israel, the Canal for the dues they get, the United States for their share—all of us are financially and economically losing by the present state of affairs. We are all getting poorer as a result. We hear a good deal, I think rightly, of the need to build up the financial strength, the economic life, of these countries of the Middle East. I agree with all that. It is the only way in which they can withstand the Communist menace. Here, we have a situation which is impoverishing all these countries to the advantage of nobody at all, and I really think that it is a task which a determined effort of diplomacy should try to resolve. I hope the Foreign Secretary will see his way to making the 313 effort to do that, and I would add that if we can be of any assistance to him we shall be only too glad to help.
I want to turn from that to the European scene. I have been privileged, in the years during which I have been a Member of this House, to listen to a great many speeches by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and I must tell him that there has been none which has impressed me more than the one he delivered today. I would say that, by its scope and grandeur, its touch and temper, which kept it so closely attuned to the needs of the hour, it was world statesmanship at its very highest level.
We have had a great deal of discussion today about the German problem, and it is that subject on which I want to say something. I do so with some diffidence, because it is a topic about which I find it extremely difficult to be dogmatic. All my political life, and some of my life before that period, like that of the Prime Minister, was mixed up with this German business, and I suppose that I have had as much direct negotiation with German representatives as anybody in this House today. So I feel that I have a responsibility to try to contribute something, but I do not find it easy.
I have this conviction with which I start. It must always be wrong to found a foreign policy on the basis of prejudice, or of personal dislike or of past hatreds. That must be wrong. If we are to make our contribution to peace, as we are in honour bound to try to do, we must approach it objectively, putting aside all personal feelings. I am convinced that that is what the British people really want to do. In spite of all that has happened at least twice in our generation, in spite of all the suffering which was so widespread throughout this land and throughout other lands, I believe the people of Britain none the less ardently wish to live and let live. But how very difficult it is to achieve that. We have only to listen to this Debate today, to the variety of speeches and the difference of outlook, in order to understand that.
My earliest initiation into international politics came to me in Geneva very shortly after the Locarno Treaties had been signed. I suppose that was the heyday of the League of Nations, when Sir 314 Austen Chamberlain, M. Briand and Herr Stresemann were meeting in 1926 and 1927, not only in public sessions of the Council, but privately and frequently, in trying to resolve the problems of the day. They did resolve some of them but not all, and the feeling which I certainly had, and I know Sir Austen Chamberlain had it too, was that at last we had found international machinery for settling disputes which had hitherto baffled diplomacy, and, in the process, we had perhaps also found a way of solving the age-long problem of the quarrels between Teuton and Gaul.
Unhappily, those hopes were not fulfilled. Broadly, I have felt in all my dealings with German representatives through so many years, that there are two stubborn impediments which hamper and can prevent the smooth working of our relationship, and I think these ought to be stated. At least, I think I ought to state what I found. Neither of them is insuperable, but I do not think we shall get on any better by pretending that they are not there.
The first is that Germany has had very little experience of the working of the democratic machine as we in the British Commonwealth and our neighbours on the Continent understand it, and as the United States understand it. In that sense—and I say this with no desire to cause offence—the Germans as a people have not had the same active, direct political experience that our own people have had. We come up against that all the time in our discussions and negotiations. There is a passage somewhere—I tried to find it but could not—in Von Billow's Memoirs—I remember the passage, but I cannot find the quotation—in which he frankly admits this shortcoming among his own people, and talks of the British as the most politically conscious people in the world. I do not know whether we are that or not; we may or may not be, but at least our Parliamentary system and all that it stands for is an integral part of our lives. The growth of such a consciousness in the German people must take time. It is no good our expecting it to flourish overnight because we sincerely wish it to do so. Even sincere German democrats, of whom there are many, are wise enough to admit that the process must take time.
315 I remember discussing in Berlin shortly after the war—the right hon. Gentleman will probably remember the occasion—with a lot of young Germans their views about the future of Germany. They were intelligent and thoughtful young men, and at their request I tried to explain to them what we meant by the Parliamentary system, by political parties, and so forth. I do not flatter myself that I made much impact on their minds. They were still thinking in terms of a National Youth Movement and it was almost inevitable that they should have been doing so. After all, their thoughts and minds had been trained that way, and that is not going to change in a year or two. But we must change it, because there is really no other way in which to build the foundations of peace in Europe. Incidentally, I may say that apart from the pleasure of meeting those young Germans and talking with them, one thing came out of the conversation which rather pleased me. One of them said afterwards to a friend of mine, "Well, anyhow, Ribbentrop would never have come and met us like that." I thought, perhaps, there was a little hope in that observation.
There is another difficulty, which is an obstinate one, in assessing the German problem. I can never altogether escape the feeling that in the minds of many Germans there is a desire, or at any rate a tendency, to believe that the Germans have some special mission with regard to the rest of Europe, a mission which, in the minds of some at least, is coupled with leadership, which, in fact, means the domination of their neighbours. In the same way, while there was no doubt opposition to the Nazi régime, which profoundly shocked many Germans, the expansionist spirit which informed it did give expression to something in their character, and we should be wise to recognise that fact.
I say those things because I think we should have them in mind, but that does not mean that we ought not to go on trying for a reconciliation and for development of relations, as my right hon. Friend said, on the basis of the most intimate confidence between France and ourselves, and on that basis try to find a true friendship with Germany. But it is right that we should 316 recognise how formidable are the difficulties.
It seems to me that the lesson of this Debate is that we have to go on working steadily, trying to bring Western Germany more and more into association with her western neighbours. The more closely that we and Western Europe can be associated, the better is the chance that Germany will find her level with her neighbours. Of this at least I am certain: there can be no enduring settlement of European problems unless our country plays its part in guidance and in leadership. There is no future for the Continent of Europe without British leadership and participation.
It seems to me that in these post-war years the political leaders of France have more than once shown real statesmanship in their endeavours to improve relations with their German neighbours. France is convinced, and we think rightly convinced, that this can only be done successfully on the basis of her unity with us and our joint friendship with the United States of America. We agree. Her statesmen have certainly shown neither resentment nor bitterness for the years they endured. I read Mr. Schumann's speech, to which reference has been made in this Debate. I thought it was instinct with statesmanship and perhaps in contrast with some of the things we have read in years gone by from France. The mood of France today is that of a country trying to find logical arguments to sustain an instinctive wish to improve relations on either side of the Rhine. That is very remarkable and very encouraging.
I say to the Foreign Secretary that everybody has tried to make constructive contributions to this Debate, and I would conclude by simply putting to him briefly six short points which I suggest might be the main objectives of our foreign policy. The first is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said, that on the basis of deep and intimate friendship with France and our Western allies of the Atlantic Pact we should work for closer relationships with Germany.
The second is to accept that defence is the sphere in which integration of effort and organisation by the Atlantic Powers should afford the fewest obstacles and that every attempt, therefore, should be made, and made now, to press on so that, as early as possible, there may be a 317 Western European military force. Really, that should have been there long ago. It is absolutely indispensable that it should be created now because it is on that basis that further development must be considered.
Thirdly, I submit that the cold war can only be viewed as a world problem. It is impossible to deal with it in separate watertight compartments. If the threat must be met in Western Europe now, it must equally be met in South-East Asia; and it must be met by positive statements of our own views and way of life rather than by mere denial of Communist views. I am convinced there is room for effort and co-ordination with our allies here.
Fourthly, that the Spender Plan should form the basis of our action in the Continent of Asia. This means hard effort. It means an endeavour to promote stable Governments in those countries and not merely to pay millions of money which, without stable internal conditions, have very little effect at all. We are heartened by Mr. Acheson's offer of co-operation with the Spender proposals. That ought to be welcomed, and I hope the Government will send a strong delegation to Sydney. I know the difficulties of the Parliamentary situation. I do not know if my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford would agree that the usual channels might do something or not. I say nothing against the particular individual chosen, but I did note he belonged to another place. I thought that might not be entirely unconnected with the state of the parties in this House. We must not allow that effort to lag through lack of strong representation.
Fifthly, if release of any part of the sterling balances is to be regarded as part of this endeavour, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry, East (Mi. Crossman) said the other day, that ought to be clearly stated and agreed, and the contribution of all the nations towards economic stability in Asia ought to be appraised and measured accordingly.
Sixthly, and finally, the purpose of all this endeavour ought to be to strengthen the economic fabric and free way of life of all nations determined not to fall under the Communist rule. Once this his been achieved, it should be possible to negotiate with Moscow on a basis of strength, 318 and no method of negotiation ought to be excluded.
Here, at least, for what they are worth, are the outlines of a policy. I offer them constructively to the right hon. Gentleman in the same spirit and temper as my right hon. Friend did so much more eloquently in his own speech this afternoon. Whether they will be of any avail or not, I cannot tell; but of this I am sure—the time has come for a clear exposition of where this country stands in foreign policy. That is due not only to ourselves but to the world which waits so anxiously for our lead.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
Like the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), I am grateful to the House for the temper and tone of the contribution it has made to the great and perplexing problem of handling world affairs. In the closing phrase of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman said the time had come when we should declare—and I notice it was "we" should declare—our policy. I presume he meant "we" as a country. I hope to show that the day when we, as Great Britain, can declare a policy independently of our allies and colleagues has gone. In evolving the methods of dealing with these tremendous problems in this small world, small but dangerous, and in making declarations of policy, we must know to what extent we have the support of all those who have joined together with us and to what extent we all have a cohesive policy. The right hon. Gentleman set down six points, with which I have no quarrel. In fact, after I left the Foreign Office tonight, he must have been round working on the files, because he summarised very well what I have been trying to do in the last 4½ years. I have no quarrel with anyone who supports that policy.
I worked with the right hon. Gentleman very closely in the Coalition Government, I think he will agree, and together we evolved a good deal of the basis of the policy we have followed since. The whole course a country is taking in foreign policy cannot suddenly be altered by a General Election. Geography remains the same; the facts remain the same, stubborn as they are. In the discussions which took place before my right hon. 319 Friend the Prime Minister joined the delegates at San Francisco, many things were discussed, evolved and agreed. With the backing of the Government that had been elected and with which I have had the honour to be associated, I have tried, as an individual, to carry out that policy. Looking back, I think I was right to hang on to that policy to the last possible moment.
I did not despair despite all the frustrations and difficulties. I believe the peoples of the world would have been disappointed, would have misunderstood, and we might have had catastrophic happenings in the world, if we had not tried, to the best of our ability, and to the last possible moment, to work through the United Nations and the Council of Foreign Ministers. It was only when we were absolutely convinced that that was not going to work, that it was going to be frustrated at every meeting, that we had to turn to another course.
Turning to this other course has not been easy. In speeches to which I have listened, it is sometimes assumed that all that has to be done is for Great Britain to turn. I must be extremely careful in what I say, for the relations with our friend and allies have been good, yet at the same time Parliaments and Congresses enter into these discussions with such rapidity that even a wrong word or thought can cause trouble at this stage. This is particularly true of the United States. I am convinced that if we had attempted to construct the Atlantic Pact even weeks before we did, we should have failed. I believe that there would have been such alarm in the United States, where isolationism is still strong, if the situation that did develop with Russia had not been understood completely, that the excitement which would have followed would have been such that there might have been failure.
In handling this job—and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree—there is one thing which is important, and that is the matter of timing. It is the timing of an event that can result in its success or its failure. If there was a miscalculation, tremendous opposition might have been caused, which otherwise might 320 have been avoided. What we have done—and it is one of the six points which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, so I do not know why we have been asked to do it—is to attempt not only the unity of Western Europe but the unity of the Western world. I think I might have had a little tribute for the work I have done in this matter. I am sure that, wile there is talk of integration in Western Europe, Western Europe will not be strong enough in itself: it is the integration of the Western world that will give the strength and power necessary to defend ourselves. Europe has so torn itself to pieces with the catastrophic wars in which it has indulged in the last 30-odd years that it is going to take a long time to arm it again and pull it together, and to develop it economically. While His Majesty's Government promoted the unity of Western Europe which, as I said at the time, was the hard core which could be brought together to enable us to do something to create character, we had, at the same time, to try to develop this wider unity.
That brings me to the point about which I have been asked a great deal—the Assembly. I must answer some of the points about this, so I cannot follow the general discussion further at this moment, but I will try to make some reference to it later. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), I think, said the Ministers seemed to be acting so cautiously that they stand in the way of the Assembly. I have known Governments in this country, of which he has been a member, which have even had to stand up against the enthusiasm of the House of Commons. There may be resolutions carried in an Assembly without any details worked out, or without assessment of the responsibilities involved, which cannot be applied without very grave consideration.
For instance, I go to Strasbourg tomorrow. One of the proposals to be discussed is something which I am quite certain that this Parliament and this country could not accept—and, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman himself discarded it—but which has been put forward by other countries. It is that we virtually create an executive body in Europe which, though not elected by the people, not even elected by Parliament, can by a majority in a very small group 321 arrive at decisions which, by means of a simple majority, can be imposed upon a State. Supposing I agreed to a thing like that on behalf of the Government; this Parliament would not stand for it for one moment, but because I go there and say, "Really, gentlemen, this is not the way to do it," I am accused of dragging my feet.
What there has been in this European movement is a little bit too much of the oppositional complex, trying to translate into Europe the oppositional complex which we get in our own Parliaments. Does the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) want to interrupt?
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
I am unwilling to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but if he is relating his observations to the suggestions about the Executive Committee which were put forward by the General Affairs Committee, which met last week, I would point out that it was a unanimous agreement of that Committee and that the Minister of Town and Country Planning was one of the unanimous voters, with me.
§ Mr. Bevin
I will not enter into an argument now, but if a Minister happens to be a member of that body that does not commit the Government.—[HON. MEMBERS: "What?"]—People are going to that Assembly as individuals. Let us have an understanding. They are there to express their views, but they are not committing their Governments. That is the answer, and I cannot accept, whoever goes and expresses a unanimous opinion, that that, of itself, commits the Government. We have the responsibility of looking after the affairs of our country, and I was speaking in that sense. I am not criticising this decision at all. What I am pointing out, when the Ministers approach the problem, is that the Committee on General Affairs might approach the problem in a spirit of enthusiasm, but the Committee of Ministers must approach it in the spirit of the constitution, responsibility to Parliaments and of all other considerations. What we try to do is to bring a balanced judgment to bear on all these problems.
322 There has been a problem, so it is alleged, between the Ministers and the Assembly over the procedure. I am afraid I am not very good at procedure, but I do not believe myself that it is wise at this stage to begin writing a lengthy constitution. I say that we have to try to proceed in Europe by trial and error. My proposal has been—and I stand by it—that if there is difficulty between the Assembly and the Ministers, I am quite willing to see carried out the practice which has been general in all Assemblies of that character—that there should be general discussion between a Committee of both sections in order to adjust on its merits the matter which is in dispute, but not to try to write out a whole code of procedure to meet every possible thing that might happen. If we do that. I am sure that we shall not make any progress.
It has been suggested that we have been slow. Well, I am told that I must not say anything about the Foreign Office; but I must take the credit that the bulk of the constructive work was actually done in the Foreign Office here. We did work jolly hard to put forward the scheme, and, what is more important, we got the European countries to agree. That, at least, ought to be said to our credit. I get a good deal of talk from the United States, but, then, we are not integrating the United States with Europe. I wonder what sort of arguments I should get if the United States were in the Council of Europe and I was trying to put something over on their constitution. I am afraid there would be some very strong arguments that would develop.
The most important thing that has been raised is the accession to the Council of Europe of Germany. It is very difficult in a few moments to deal with a problem of this magnitude. I have no prejudice against Germany. I do not like what they have done in two wars, but does anyone? It is a little difficult sometimes to put this feeling on one side. On the other hand, we must not allow ourselves to forget the character of the people we are dealing with. That is vital. There has been trouble arising recently about the accession of Germany to the Council of Europe, and so far as we are concerned, we take this line. We are going to try to avoid what happened at the League of Nations, in which there 323 was a lot of courting of Germany to get them in. I am not complaining of that. People thought that it was a great thing to get Germany. Then afterwards there were the various attitudes adopted by Germany, which amounted to treatment of the League which, to put it at its best, was not courteous or decent to the rest of the people who were trying to work with them.
§ Mr. Bevin
That is what it did. It was latent there right from Bismarckian days. I had to deal with them as well as the right hon. Gentleman. I had to deal with them as employers and in shipping, and in many other things where I got into close contact with these gentlemen.
On the basis of the Occupation Statute, I do not think it is right for a nation like Germany to begin arguing with us about the terms on which she will come into the Council of Europe. What I do say is that if they come in and wholeheartedly accept, we on our part will accept them as an act of faith and not delay too long in getting to the next stage. What is the next stage? Under the Occupation Statute, one of the problems is dealing with their foreign policy. We shall have at some time, I presume, to take a decision, the occupying Powers I mean, as to whether we will hand the conduct of foreign policy back to Germany. It is only at that stage that she can act as an equal in the Committee of Ministers. I am not prepared, and I do not think the Cabinet would be prepared, to violate that by hybrid arrangements. We think it is too dangerous.
We have in the course of dealing with Germany made much greater progress, although she is divided due to Russian action, than was made at the end of the 1914–18 war, but on rather different lines. We have been trying to build up a sense of democratic responsibilities. I assure the House that it is frightfully difficult. I have to tell my Socialist colleagues 324 in Germany very often that they are a little bit too nationalist for me and that their nationalism breaks through their ideas of social democracy rather too frequently to make me feel comfortable in arriving at decisions in dealing with them All that means caution.
I was asked about the progress in dealing with human rights. This has been referred to the jurists. They have examined the question in the light of the United Nations draft charter. They have made their report. I have not yet received it, but as soon as His Majesty's Government receive it, we will try to come to a decision on the whole matter.
I have been asked to submit that the whole purpose of our policy should be the winning of Germany for the West. This raises the question of the arming of Germany. All of us are against it. I repeat, all of us are against it. It is a frightful decision to take. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, the situation he had in his mind was something like this. I hope I am not going to misrepresent him. It was that we should get Germany and France to come together, and that we should now begin discussing the arming of Germany. I can only suggest that if I went to Strasbourg or Paris with that proposal, I am afraid that the bringing of France and Germany together would be set back for a very long time.
Then we are to use this force when we have armed it, to defend ourselves against Russia. Well, there are such things as preventive wars. The Continent is in a very derelict state and as I understood the position of the Fulton speech, it was a preventive war which the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Preventive action, shall I say, before the war was developed. [Interruption.] I have listened all day, and now hon. Members must listen to me. We then go to Russia and we propose to discuss matters with them with Germany, armed by us, on our hands. I suggest that handling Europe in that way is not wise and not good, and will not produce the desired result. Therefore, I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that we have set our face—the United States, France and ourselves—against the re-arming of Germany, and that, I am afraid, we must adhere to. We have at the same time—
§ Mr. Churchill
What I suggested is that Germany should make a contribution to the aid of European defence. There should be Germans serving with us and the Americans and the French on honourable terms.
§ Mr. Bevin
I am sorry if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but that was what I understood him to say. I should be very sorry to misrepresent him in any way, but I think that I was interpreting him correctly.
If we want to bring France and Germany together, talking about arming Germany in any form is, I am satisfied, going to set the clock back for a considerable time. I talk with my French colleagues about the great problems with which we have to deal. Like the last speaker, I pay tribute to French statesmanship in the tremendous task which they have undertaken in trying to solve the various problems which now face us. But I am not going to take a step which is going to set the clock back—which would make things very bitter and very difficult to solve.
The other question put to me concerned the International Refugee Organisation. We, with others, have brought this costly operation to a close. It was costing 150 million dollars a year, and we were not the only Government which was feeling the burden. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington is quite right when he says that the main operation in connection with the refugees is to close on 30th June, but the shipping facilities are to be continued until March, 1951, for the benefit of all displaced persons who have the chance of going overseas. This country's contribution has been outstanding in regard both to the proportion contributed to the expenses of the International Refugee Organisation and to numbers, over 80,000 refugees having been accepted in this country, excluding Polish resettlers. I think that is a magnificent contribution to solving this problem. It may be possible still to bring a few more, but housing and other difficult- 326 ties have to be considered. The International Refugee Organisation has resettled nearly 800,000 people. There are about 150,000 people left to be settled.
We take the view that this is a problem to the settlement of which Germany must make a contribution. This is the hard core. Germany created the problem through the war and, according to the discussions which have gone on with the German Government, they think we are quite right in doing what we have done. Our High Commissioner has reserved powers for dealing with this matter. It is true that the United Nations are about to create a High Commissioner for Refugees to advise member Governments. But the decision which has been taken was, I think, perfectly justifiable, and was one to which we ought to adhere. I believe we will dispose of the remaining hard core in that way better than by trying to dispose of it by continuing the life of the International Refugee Organisation.
The other point which the right hon. Gentleman raised was with regard to Haifa. This matter was not quite so simple as the right hon. Gentleman suggested. This place was allocated to the Arabs under the United Nations resolution. Israel did not accept that point. She proceeded to take it, and Iraq then cut off the oil.* Since that time, we have used all the diplomatic pressure that we could to get Iraq to open this pipe-line and to allow the oil to flow. But Iraq is a sovereign and independent State. I suppose she has a right to come to her own conclusions on this matter as an independent State, and she absolutely declines to allow, in the face of her public opinion, this oil to flow.
That raises the question whether oil should come through the Suez Canal, While I was in Egypt, I was instructed to raise this question with Nahas Pasha. He argued cogently and legally, as did the right hon. Gentleman the other way today, in view of the state of war still existing between the Arabs and the Israelis, and he absolutely declined to yield on that point. The matter is still being pursued and will be pursued until we get a solution. But one handicap in dealing with the Israeli business is that practically none of the United Nations resolutions has been accepted by Israel.* See Column 870, lines 30 to 53.327 The difficulty that other countries find, not only us but the United States as well, is that when the problem of Israel has to be dealt with in relation to other States, then there is no basis upon which we can work. We have had a very striking illustration of that in connection with Jerusalem, where the decisions have created enormous prejudice and difficulty in the Middle East. The other thing associated with it is that, like the rest of us, I suppose, Iraq has her comrades in the Arab world and one of the difficulties is that none of them will be accused of letting down the other. That is not a bad trait. I grew up in a school that rather practised things like that, I am afraid, and therefore I can quite understand their feelings on this matter.
§ Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)
The right hon. Gentleman says that Iraq is a sovereign country, but as Iraq made a contract with a British company that it would allow that British company's oil to be exported, either through the British company's own pipe-line or by sea, is he not going to support the rights of that British company?
§ Mr. Bevin
It is just the very point that the right hon. Gentleman made that I have been trying to do—to get them to act together and give way together, so 328 that the thing can be settled. I am afraid that is an almost impossible task and it is not likely to be achieved. Therefore we are pursuing the matter, I can assure him, and will continue to do so.
The other point raised was the question of the hydrogen bomb. I have been asked both now and at Question Time before today to say something about the hydrogen bomb tonight, in reply to the Debate. The hydrogen bomb is an even more fearful prospect than the present atomic bomb, but in my view it does not change the essence of the problem at all. There can be no safety unless we can secure a rigorous system of international inspection and control. That is the real point upon which the difference of opinion exists and we have taken it to the United Nations.
The majority of the United Nations came to a decision that the Soviet Union has rejected. The proposals which were evolved by the United Nations Commission were unacceptable and Mr. Gromyko submitted counter-proposals, and they were considered by the United Nations. They came to this conclusion—that this would increase the danger rather than alleviate it. It might delude the people of the world into believing that atomic energy was controlled when, in fact, it was not. Therefore, we have pursued this business of trying to get the matter dealt with by reaching agreement with the United Nations.
There is a Committee of Six which has been instructed to continue with their work, but in fact the work was interrupted owing to the quarrel which arose over the recognition of China, which had nothing to do with the atomic bomb at all. Therefore, as soon as we can, we shall be willing to begin discussions and attempt to make agreements, but it is a very risky business when dealing with weapons like the atomic bomb to enter into commitments of any kind unless the daylight is let in and every nation is willing to show exactly what she is doing about the matter—otherwise any one country may be held to ransom at any moment. That is the great problem that has to be solved. The view of the majority, therefore, is that there must be a permanent control and that this can only be achieved by the operation and management by an international control agency 329 of all the processes leading up to the final process by which the nuclear fuel is produced.
It has been argued that because gas was outlawed—it was not used in the last war—that it was stopped by convention. I have very grave doubts about that. I remember the communication from Generalissimo Stalin to the right hon. Gentleman when Stalin was afraid that gas was going to be used against the Soviet Union. It was arranged that a statement on behalf of the British Government should be made on the radio, telling Hitler what he would get if he dared to use it.
I never felt, knowing that the gas was there, that the Convention itself was any security against its being used. It was only a strategic decision as to whether it paid one to use it. But really I think the last war determined the issue, and that experience had a great influence on my mind in coming to a decision in the case of atomic energy. I do not think the House would wish us to come to a conclusion which would leave any risk so far as this country and the Western world is concerned in regard to the control of atomic energy.
I hate, in conclusion, to refer to any more meetings because it may give the right hon. Gentleman another sleepless night, but these things have to be continuously discussed. The problem of Germany, the problem of Asia, the problem of the Middle East we all endure, and we cannot move alone. We must move together, and therefore I have taken steps within the last few days to suggest to Mr. Dean Acheson, whose speeches have been so well mentioned in this House today—which I am sure he will appreciate—and who has a tremendous task with great difficulties to overcome, that I thought the time had come when there should be another meeting of the Council of the Atlantic Pact, this time in London. He is summoning that meeting, which will be held here on 9th May, at which many problems affecting ourselves will be discussed. I had better put it as it has been agreed with the United States or I shall perhaps cause trouble.
330 The communiqué that has been issued is that we have invited Mr. Acheson to convene the North Atlantic Council, the highest organ of the North Atlantic Treaty, in the first half of May. Mr. Acheson has transmitted this invitation to the other Governments concerned, and they are now considering it. I have suggested to Mr. Acheson and to Mr. Schuman that we should take the opportunity of this meeting to hold discussions between ourselves, and they have both welcomed this proposal. We have moved along since our last meeting in Washington. We have had our meetings in Paris, at which we dealt with the German problem and we meet on 9th May to deal with the tremendous issues arising under the Atlantic Paot. Before that meeting takes place there will be meetings of the Finance Ministers, meetings of the Defence Ministers, and what is more important in connection with the Atlantic Pact there is a growing desire not merely to deal with the defence problem, but to operate Article II which involves economic and political problems as well. It encourages one to see that while the original concept was that of defence against aggression, now we are turning to a constructive concept dealing with economic development at the same time.
I hope and trust that before long, instead of aid from America in the way we have known and instead of pressure upon us to integrate, we shall evolve in such a way that the wider integration will take place. Western civilisation is worth saving. Western civilisation is a thing that must be saved, and the only way to do it in my view is to hold not merely the Western world which is the key to its salvation but the Eastern world as well, and to develop the great power and potentiality of the West. If that combination grows, I visualise a long peace. I beg of the House, and the country, not to despair because of present circumstances. I think the day is not far distant when the growth of this power, which has been divided and separated so much in the past, the growth of this unity, not so much union, unity of spirit, unity of action and the comradeship between us, will create a situation that will leave no alternative but to negotiate to settle once and for all this problem that has cursed the world for so long.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)
I apologise for keeping the House at this late hour, but not for focusing attention on a topic in the European circle which has been largely neglected in this Debate today. I do not intend to go through the long history of the affairs of Austria. After the First World War under the Treaty of St. Germain, Austria was left as a small nation of 6,500,000 people, of whom 2,000,000 lived in Vienna. The result of this was that Austria was left in a state of economic instability such as it had never known before. During the years between the wars Austria made efforts to try and revive itself. These unsuccessful efforts resulted in the anschluss of 1938. The same conditions which brought that event about can, and may, exist in the event of an evacuation by the occupation troops in Austria today.
At the Moscow Conference in 1943 a decision was taken, quite rightly, that Austria should be "re-established as a sovereign State." But Austria today still has, in fact, if not in theory, the status of an enemy-occupied territory. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman has been trying to negotiate with Russia and the other occupying Powers, and a peace treaty was held up a year ago by many grave and growing difficulties—such things as the German assets, and, of course, the claims of Yugoslavia. I think the right hon. Gentleman and the Minister of State would do well to consider, as they must have done, why the Russians today do not wish to conclude a peace treaty with Austria.
We have to consider in this context the use that the Russians have made of occupations wherever they have enforced them. They have used these occupations to bring into being strong Communist parties, which could take over the Ministries of the Interior and the police, so that when the Russian troops left the political position would not be materially altered. Last summer it appeared that the Russians were prepared to some extent to consider a peace treaty with Austria, as a result of a sense of political security in Hungary and other Eastern European countries and advances were made along that road. But, at the same time, something else happened—the situation which the Russians had considered in 332 Yugoslavia to be becoming increasingly favourable to the Cominform changed. The Russians felt that in Yugoslavia they would succeed in undermining the position of Marshal Tito, but that did not come off.
I believe that the reason why the Russians remain in Austria today is not any consideration of the security of the lines of communication through Hungary or any other Eastern European State but because Communist panties in those countries have assured that. Because of that failure in Yugoslavia the Russians are trying to do today what Hitler did when he invaded Austria. He invaded Austria for two purposes. There was the ethnological reason that he wanted to bring Austria "back into Germany," as he called it, and there was the strategic reason. I believe that to-day the Russians have that same strategic objective. Through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Hungary and Austria, they want to keep pressure on Tito as hard and as long as they can. They are reluctant to make it easier either for Yugoslavia or for ourselves. When they look around the world and see the success which Communism has had in the Far East, they are reluctant to make the position any easier for us either in Austria or anywhere else where the initiative is still in their hands.
What is the effect of this continued occupation of Austria? Austrian economy has been smothered for five years, on the one hand, and, on the other, propped up by gifts and loans from ourselves, from the United States and through U.N.R.R.A. and other agencies. There is also the psychological effect of five years' occupation. We find, in Austria today, that feeling of exasperation and apathy one might well expect to see after a long and burdensome occupation. I was interested in the expressive metaphor which Dr. Renner used when describing the occupation. He said that Austria hoped dearly that the four elephants would get out of the rowing boat. That is the feeling which Austrians have about the occupation. In saying that the four elephants should get out of the boat, it would be wrong to suggest that it would be right and proper for three elephants to leave the boat if the fourth were to remain at the tiller. Nobody outside a lunatic asylum, or outside the Communist Party, would 333 suggest that it would be right for the Western Powers to leave Austria and leave the Russians in sole occupation. The fourth effect of this occupation is one which I think Moscow would do well to note—the complete failure of the Communist Party in Austria wherever free elections have been held.
What is the position as we find it today? I think the Russians are not staying in Austria for Austria itself. Let the Austrians take encouragement from that. They will go when the other conditions I have mentioned are more to their liking. I think that the Austrians feel a little uncertainty as to the political situation which has arisen in this country. They are not quite certain whether they would receive the same consideration from a Government formed from this side of the House as they may have received in the last four years, and I think that I would be quite right to say that the Austrians would receive from a Conservative administration no less sympathy and consideration than they have received from the party opposite.
If this Debate is to be of any value at all it must be to make quite clear the Government's policy. Has the Foreign Secretary made up his mind clearly on this subject of Austria? The indications are that he has not. Has he decided whether Austria is to be allowed to go back into the condition it was in 1937 when an anschluss became possible, if not inevitable? Has he made up his mind whether Austria is to be part of a Danubian economic federation, or whether Austria, economically and politically, shall be integrated with Western Europe? It is our belief that the third course is the one which he should follow. We want Austria to join Western Europe willingly, and she can only do that willingly and effectively when the occupation has ceased and a peace treaty concluded.
While we wish to end that occupation at the earliest opportunity, and while we as a nation wish to conclude a peace treaty with Austria at the earliest possible moment, we do not for one moment consider an evacuation, either unilaterally or bilaterally, by ourselves or our Allies so long as the Russian occupation troops remain in Austria.