HC Deb 26 May 1950 vol 475 cc2403-19

12.2 p.m.

Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)

I have found a very excellent preamble to what I have to say this morning. First of all, we opened our proceedings in this House today by praying for peace and tranquillity; and the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey (Colonel Banks) has been good enough to carry the point further by saying that a good supply of food for the hungry would prevent civil wars and the growth of Communism. I doubt whether the supply of food by itself would settle the problem of wars between the nations, because I have found in my travels abroad that some nations which are very well-fed, are as bellicose as others which are on the point of starvation.

On 10th May, I placed a Motion on the Order Paper in which I was supported by 145 hon. Members of the party to which I belong; and I am very proud to have this opportunity of saying a word or two about that Motion, which reads as follows: That this House welcomes and supports the efforts now being made by the Secretary General on behalf of the United Nations Organisation to secure peace among the Powers and to prevent a third world war which would result in untold misery for mankind. The will to peace, therefore, is evident in this Parliament; and I am almost sure I am right in saying that no person in the whole of the British Isles would actually welcome another war. My task today, therefore, is to try to rouse that will to peace, to nurture and develop that will, as opposed to the hatred that is being engendered by provocative speeches on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

I regard the visit of Mr. Trygve Lie to Moscow particularly, and to the capitals of other countries, as momentous. Unfortunately, a great deal of suspicion has been aroused in some parts of the world, and especially in America, about his visit to Moscow. I am under the impression—and I do not want to offend the Americans—that we are in a special and much more favourable position to judge his mission. Geographically, we are half-way between the United States and Russia, and ideologically and politically we are also the same distance between them. Therefore, I think I am right in saying that the British people as a whole welcome this attempt of Mr. Trygve Lie to bring reason to bear where at the moment a great deal of suspicion prevails.

It is quite clear that the United Nations organisation is impotent to prevent the terrible race in armaments now proceeding among the Powers; and it is sad to note that that race is taken for granted by the great majority of people. Just imagine ourselves, for instance, spending nearly £800 million per annum in peacetime in preparing for the next war, in the hope, I suppose, that it will not occur; and maintaining 750,000 men and women in military uniform, most of them doing nothing. I suggest that the economy of this country is being weighted unduly by this cost of armaments, because the more a nation spends on armaments, the less it can afford on social services and the necessaries of life. As the United Nations organisation has failed to prevent the race in armaments, it was well that Mr. Trygve Lie should make an attempt to bring reason to bear among the statesmen and remove the deadlock which has been growing for some time, primarily between the United States and Soviet Russia.

It is no use telling me at my age that all this piling up of armaments is for defence. I do not believe it. I have no illusions as to the significance of Western Union, the Atlantic Pact, fleet manoeuvres, meetings of the Defence Ministers, and, above all, the regular gatherings of the military chiefs of the Powers on both sides of the iron curtain. I do not know how many hon. Members now present were here in 1938 and 1939, but the vocabulary and spirit of 1950 is very similar to that of 1939, when we gave a guarantee to defend Poland against the aggression of Germany, when, in fact, we could not send a single soldier to help Poland against aggression. In less than five years, after the end of the last war, the world is divided into two separate blocs. We talk glibly nowadays of two worlds and of the world being divided into two separate camps, and the human mind is being accustomed to that idea. But all this cannot proceed very much further without an explosion occurring somewhere. I think that history proves conclusively that, when Governments provide weapons of war, there are groups of people in every nation who are ready to experiment with them.

Let me make one point clear above all. Some people regard me as a crank on this problem of peace and war. I do not mind that because I have lived longer than most and have seen more than most, too. I can go back to our blatant aggression in South Africa and all that it meant at the time. Consequently, I have long ago come to the conclusion that, unless the nations can live in peace, nothing else will avail them. Therefore, my task this morning is to try, if I can, once again to arouse the will to peace.

Let me say this, in addition. During the last decade or so, nations have not declared war against each other. In the old days, it was customary with great formality to issue an official declaration of hostilities. Now, however, they do not declare war officially on each other; they just drift and slide into conflict, and, quite frankly, that is one of the reasons I get alarmed about the present position between America and Russia. Then, of course, the quarrel having started, all the nations blame each other. They fear each other; they provoke each other, and, at the moment they are inflamed over two points in particular. They quarrel continuously in the United Nations organisation, and it would be a great tragedy for mankind if this second attempt to bring about permanent peace in the world failed, as the League of Nations failed in the past.

The two points over which they are particularly inflamed at the moment are the control of the atom and hydrogen bombs, and the type of representation to be granted to China in the United Nations at Lake Success after the conquest of that country by the Communists. It would be popular here, of course, if I blamed the Russians for this impasse, and how delighted the Kremlin would be if I blamed the capitalist Powers for bringing about the deadlock. I am not going to do either. I ask now—as I asked once in a conference, when an hon. Member of this House was blaming our Foreign Secretary for all the trouble between us and Russia—is it not a fact that Vyshinsky can be right on occasion and wrong on occasion, too, and that our Foreign Minister can sometimes be wrong, and right some of the time? All the fault of any deadlock, therefore, cannot be attributed to one side or the other.

I would not be true to myself if I did not support Mr. Trygve Lie's submission by saying this. I sincerely believe that it is very much more difficult for a Government representing a democracy to be aggressive than it is for a dictatorship State to make war, because the power to do so is left in the hands of so few dictatorship country. In any event, one thing is certain; we have got to live with the Russians whether we fight them or not. At the end of the conflict, should it unfortunately come, we shall still have the Russians, the Yugoslavs, the Bulgarians, the Hungarians, and the Czechs in existence. They will still be there, and the human race had better learn that simple fact.

Let me say another word about Mr. Trygve Lie's mission. The world, we are told, is divided into two categories— Communists and anti-Communists. I wonder whether hon. Members have thought of the problem in another way. I have said this before, and I think it is well worth repeating. So far as I understand, there are over 60 sovereign countries in the world, and, so far as I can gather from history, no two countries have ever been governed alike, and my view is that they never will. Consequently, the Kremlin, Washington, London and Paris had better make up their minds that the whole human race will never knuckle down to one form of Government, or one ideology in politics and economics.

I now pass to the "cold" war. It is a very strange thing how that war has brought about a depressed feeling upon mankind. It has done more than that; strangely enough, it has brought about a "wage freeze" in the trade union movement in this country. Indeed, the "cold" war can freeze very much more than wages; it can freeze the human spirit as well. Therefore, I sometimes wish that our Chancellor of the Exchequer would do one thing in particular. I have heard him delivering speeches on the Budget on more than one occasion, and I wish that when hon. Members opposite complain about restrictions, heavy taxation, lack of petrol, and all the rest of it, he would retort by saying, "If you want all those amenities, and free this and that, then you must not spend so much of the nation's substance on war."

I imagine that if Britain could have avoided the two last great wars, surtax, instead of being 19s. 6d. in the £, might easily be only 6d. My complaint is that a few people at the top of society are able always to arrange all these military commitments and throw millions into war against each other, sometimes against their will. I have been a trade union official, I suppose, for longer than most here, and it may appear strange for me to say that I certainly do not like the clamour for more and still more production. It seems to me that every time we produce anything in larger quantities, the military machine has a nasty habit of swallowing it up. Nearly every invention designed to assist mankind is ultimately employed by the military caste, and, in the end, turned to war purposes. The blessings of peace ought, therefore, to be shouted from the house-tops. If we could have avoided the last two wars, every family, I suppose, could have been properly housed and probably could live rent free. If real peace came, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and clinics would blossom forth, and every young man and woman in the land would be able to have free education and their keep, right up to and through the university.

I wish to make one point absolutely clear in my propaganda for peace. I know I am called a pacifist, but that does-not matter in the least. In a hundred years or less, the world will hardly know that any of us here today will have lived at all. The job I want to do in passing through this life is to say what I think, and to mean what I say. There are some people, even in this country, who talk otherwise of peace. They want peace, but they want it on the Russian plan. There are others who would like peace, but who want the deadlock resolved on an American basis. Others, again, of course, want a British peace. For my part, I do not want a Russian, a British, or an American peace; I want a peace that will please the common folk throughout all lands, who have no desire to kill each other, and who only want to follow their occupations without terror or hindrance, or any of the restrictions imposed upon them by governments in their respective countries.

Communism, which is so much detested by the Western Powers, is not the real issue. It is the behaviour of Communists that creates the problem. I always draw a distinction between the "isms" and the "ists" who practise them. Conservatism, Liberalism, syndicalism, Socialism, anarchism, and Communism might be all right were it not for the people who interpret them. By the way, I do not like the interpretation of Socialism by some of my own colleagues. Why should I not say that? I have said it elsewhere. And I am sure that there are some Conservatives who do not agree with their own Leader's interpretation of Toryism, and that is saying much Communism emerged from war; it was the child of massacre. If the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey does not mind my saying so, I am not so sure even now that civil wars arise exclusively from poverty and lack of food. The civil war in Russia was more of a protest against the tyranny of the Tsar than it was a war about food.

Colonel Banks

I never said that poverty is solely the cause of the spread of Communism. I merely appealed for help for suffering and underfed people.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I am sure the hon. and gallant Member and I are on the same footing when I say that he will agree with me that food may prevent the spread of "isms" but that force, by way of dynamite and bombs, will never prevent the spread of any ideology. It will not be Communism that will come out of another war, should it unhappily occur. Out of that deluge may well emerge something worse, namely, anarchy. Empires will disintegrate, thrones will topple, trade unionism may disappear in its wake, and starvation will stalk over every land. My purpose is to speak on behalf of the millions who prefer peace to war, and who hope that war as an instrument of national policy will be abandoned once for all.

12.22 p.m.

Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)

I am sure that practically no one would disagree with the very eloquent speech delivered by my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies). I am also certain that a great deal of what was said in the previous Debate today, had the assent of everyone in this House. In the circumstances, it would almost seem as if we were pushing at an open door; and, in supporting the very eloquent plea of my hon. Friend, I may appear also to be stressing the obvious, to be so over-emphasising what all accept, as to convert it almost into a platitude.

The Motion mentioned by my hon. Friend was in general terms. I should like to see attached to that Motion not only the names of 140-odd hon. Members of my party but the names of hon. Members in other parts of the House as well. In the absence of those signatures, I am not going to assume that they are hostile to it; on the contrary, I assume that in other parts of the House the great majority, in spirit at least, endorse the excellent intention of my hon. Friend to give support to the efforts of Mr. Trygve Lie.

It is true that we all appreciate how widespread is the apprehension of an- other war, in spite of past wars that have devastated our earth. It is equally true that no one wants war, with very few exceptions. I say "with very few exceptions" deliberately because I think there are some pathological specimens, by no means confined to one country or to one class, who look upon war as not merely an opportunity for periodic blood letting, but as a stimulus to their virility or as an inevitable necessity in human evolution. They look back and see that countries and Empires have waged wars through countless ages, and they believe that on occasion wars have been used for good purposes. Their deduction from that—which I think is false—is that inevitably there must be a struggle between old ideas and new, between progress and reaction, and therefore war is less evil than, shall we say, the acceptance of human degradation.

Apart, however, from that very small minority who believe that war, if not desirable, must be acceptable, I think we all agree on both sides of the House—and I go further by saying the great majority of human beings in America and in Russia, certainly in the vast lands of China and in the stricken lands of Europe would agree—that the ordinary man does not want war and yet is now living in dread of its coming to pass. It would seem as if we are now doomed indefinitely to living in a state of tension, as if we had reached an equilibrium in which both assumed sides in this hypothetical conflict, are so frightened by the dreadful consequences that, whilst they might not plunge into war, they remain for an indefinite period in a position of armed preparation for a conflict.

In spite of what my hon. Friend said—and I agree with all that he did say—I do not think he expressed one other great difficulty as fully as is necessary. One great difficulty at present is undoubtedly what I would call the cement wall of Soviet ideology. This, in another sense, has occurred before in the history of the world. We know that from time to time in our Western world there have been occasions when men in power, with great multitudes of supporters, have been absolutely convinced that they had the truth. Because of their earnest and conscientious conviction, they have felt it obligatory upon them to try to eradicate all heresies or deviations. The Catholics and the Protestants have engaged in this cruel fallacy with great earnestness and sincerity.

Today our friends—and I call them deliberately our friends—our human friends in Soviet Russia have fallen into that same old fallacy. That being so, I can well appreciate some of my friends saying, "It is all very well to support the excellent intentions of Mr. Trygve Lie and to denounce war and warmongering. But," they are entitled to say, "what do you propose should be done. What, in the given circumstances, can you suggest that has not been earnestly considered by our own statesmen and others in this country?" They are entitled to ask any of us who are supporting my hon. Friend whether we have anything more to offer than merely echoing what they support, which is dread of another war.

However, I should like to stress once again that it is no good assuming that the great mass of Russian people, or, for that matter, the great majority of Russian leaders, are not utterly sincere. It is well for us to appreciate that to the full. They are absolutely as sincere as were the Catholics and Protestants in bygone days who harried, persecuted and, on occasion, destroyed their opponents. They really believe they have begun an earthly paradise and that they have established the foundation of proletarian emancipation. I think they are wrong, but we have to appreciate the depth of conviction that resides not merely in the Communists of Russia but in their prototypes in this country. It does not follow that they are right. I suppose the devil himself is sincere in trying to get people into hell. Without appreciation of that sincerity, we apply a self-righteous and superficial judgment.

Only last night, turning to Bernard Shaw, I came across again that very famous passage of Don Juan's in "Man and Superman": That is why battles are so useless. But men never really overcome fear until they imagine they are fighting to further a universal purpose—fighting for an idea, as they call it … The same character goes on: It is not death that matters but the fear of death. It is not killing and dying that degrades us, but base living and accepting the wages and profits of degradation. Whether we entirely endorse the characteristic utterance of Bernard Shaw through Don Juan in the latter part of my quotation or not, certainly we would endorse all he says through his character in the first part of the quotation.

That is why I am glad emphasis was laid this morning on the fact that the causes of war lie not simply in economic distress and deprivation. I entirely agree. These causes constitute a very powerful factor and a very ancient one. In the old days when one tribe found its subsistence rapidly dwindling and went from its own area to another area and found a tribe living there in plenty, that was often in itself a provocation to primitive strife. Similar factors obtain today, but they are not the only factors. There are many others precisely because man's mind today ranges far wider than the mind of primitive man.

This conflict over an idea is the preeminent problem, of present-day life. Here, for instance, are our Russian fellow human beings. Without doubt, in many respects they have remarkable achievements to their credit. The mass of the Russian people, so far as I can tell, have been given a sense of belonging to their country. They are no longer the same kind of degraded oafs that they were in Tsarist days. They have eliminated such evil things as racial antagonism, feminine subordination and the ill-treatment of the child.

Let us gladly and with grace give all credit to the Russians for their remarkable achievements in many directions. They also say that they have the one idea by which in the end the whole of the human race can be released from its poverty, destitution, ignorance and superstition. They believe it. We believe in a contrary idea. The Americans, too, in their own way believe in an idea which is very different from the Soviet idea. The American technocrats believe that by the development of the machine and of the mind of man applied to the problem of production as they have developed it in America, they are in sight of the possibility of permanently solving one kind of problem that has beset mankind for so long. Because, therefore, we have an idea in our own democratic Britain and they have an idea in their own form of democracy in America, and the Russians have another idea, that of Soviet Communism, we have this dreadful prospect of implacable hostility existing between these three and other Powers.

In the end, no doubt, it will develop into a pure antithesis between two parts of the world, and a mighty conflagration that might very well be the prelude to the end of the human race on this earth. It is not altogether impossible. Just as Babylon, Rome, Carthage, Greece and Egypt have passed away, having reached great heights of culture and civilisation, in this more closely integrated and contiguous world it is possible, both for reasons of external violent impact as well as for reasons of internal disintegration, for the whole human race to pass away, and for this little planet—this one speck on the great strand of planets—to be the mausoleum of man's hopes and aspirations.

I quite agree that in these circumstances it is quite possible for those with certain ideas to believe that they can advance those ideas so long as the other side is weak. For that reason I understand the argument that whilst we must explore the possibility of international peace and agreement, at the same time we must also build up our arms in this country. But I would point out that that is said by others as well.

Almost my final word is this. Although the appeal to strength has a certain validity within it, it has also a deception. Hitler had vast strength and he came to nothing. If we all believe in vast violent strength, it will only end in a consummation of destruction. I hope that both Mr. Trygve Lie and our own statesmen will issue a great moral challenge to the world. When I heard of the Schuman plan a few days ago, I felt that here was an imaginative challenge. It is fraught with difficulty and danger, but it is the beginning of the possibility of one way out. I want to go further and suggest that our statesmen and Mr. Trygve Lie will be able to penetrate through this cement wall and arouse from their deception many of those who today are obstructing the pathway of peace, if they can issue to the world not merely a platitudinous plea for peace between the nations but offer some constructive suggestions by which the energy of the nations can be absorbed into a common co-operative effort to meet our common need.

Why cannot we do more than we have done to adopt Lord Boyd Orr's food plan? Why cannot we propose the neutralisation not merely of Germany but of Africa and Asia also? Why cannot we say to America with her vast resources, "Give these great resources which you possess, in forms of capital investment, without strings, to the backward areas of the world so that they can develop economically and so remove one cause of envy, misery and, therefore, possible war"?

Much else one could say, but time is brief and others wish to speak I endorse entirely the pleas made by my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton. I hope all other hon. Members will do so as well. I trust that we shall all be prepared to make great sacrifices so that in the end our democratic idea, by its moral strength and example, shall triumph over dismal fear and wrong.

12.36 p.m.

Mrs. Ganley (Battersea, South)

I should like to add my voice in support of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), on this extremely important matter. We are asked today to accept and express our appreciation of the action taken by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in approaching the people whom most of us feel constitute the stumbling block to world progress towards international peace. Therefore, this is a very important question. The situation is bound up very closely with the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey (Colonel Banks).

The origin of the question of the distribution of food was the action taken by President Roosevelt when he called the Hot Springs Conference. The outstanding suggestion that was made there was that the whole of the information with regard to the production of food should be made public in a particular spot, as it were, and that the whole of the demand for food should also go to that same spot, so that the equalising of the production and distribution of food would be a very positive action in which all nations would necessarily have to take a part. That obviously would lead towards the establishment of peace, because the production effort would be directed towards the satisfaction of the needs of the whole world. The population of the world is very scattered, but that suggestion would bring together those people who are prepared to produce and those who need the food.

It is logical that we should now be debating a Motion calling for support of certain action taken in order that the peoples of the world may get together. If we do not get together, the fear held by many people who oppose scientific research is that there will be a war more devastating than anything known before. I was interested in the suggestion that scientific research is always directed toward destruction. That is not so. It is done in order to satisfy the person who is inquiring what will be the outcome of the next discovery. It is satisfaction of the human spirit which is at the basis of scientific research. The pity is that, unfortunately, war pays handsome profits. That is why the situation that we face today is so extremely important. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] War pays handsome profits to the people who produce the equipment used for war purposes.

We are trying to face the position of relinquishing some of the power, some of the opportunity, and even some of the domination that we have had in the world. This is most important. If the peoples of the world are to come together, we must sometimes say that we have made mistakes and that we are prepared to share the world with others. That is one of the problems and difficulties which must be overcome to establish peace. People must be big enough to say that they have made mistakes. When we are big enough to do that—and there have been peoples in the past who have been prepared to do it, and that is the reason for progress—it will be possible to come to a permanent agreement, accepting the fact that everybody has the same right to live.

I hope that the action taken by Mr. Trygve Lie, and the steps taken in other ways by the United Nations to get the different parts of the world together to understand each other, will succeed. I hope that the result will be greater cooperation. We can all appreciate the developments which take place in times of peace. There have been amazing achievements in scientific research and development. We must make every possible effort to avoid another cataclysm which would be much worse than anything experienced in the last war. It is something which might wipe out whole parts of the world physically and mentally, and in every other way. I hope that we shall endorse the step taken by my hon. Friend and say that we are glad to have efforts made to safeguard the people of the world, and that peace can be established through understanding and appreciation of our responsibility as an old and very great nation.

12.42 p.m.

The Minister of State (Mr. Younger)

I think that the House has long appreciated the deep sincerity with which my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies)——

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman will have to ask the leave of the House to speak again. He has already spoken once on the same Question.

Mr. Younger

I apologise: I must ask the leave of the House. I am afraid that I regarded this is a separate Debate. I had not appreciated that it was the same one. I am sure that the House has long appreciated the sincerity with which my hon. Friend speaks in the cause of peace. Sometimes his views on the way in which peace can best be secured are not always widely shared by hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House; but today I must say that the tone which inspired his speech would be acceptable to almost everybody here.

I was glad to find that he was not concerned to throw stones at anyone in particular and that he proved clearly that this is a world problem involving cooperation on all sides and not just unilateral action by us or by any other Power. I agree with him in many of the remarks he made. We must all share his anxiety at the tension which has undoubtedly been mounting in the last two or three years. We must all share his disappointment at the difficulties into which the United Nations has got and at the failure to achieve co-operation on a world scale.

We have appreciated very fully since the end of the war that world peace can be assured in future only by international co-operation which, to be fully successful, must be on a worldwide scale. That was, of course, the doctrine of San Francisco. But since about 1947 I suppose one might say that we have been compelled, with considerable reluctance, not to give up that idea of universality, but to adopt other measures which are less than universal because of the small progress that we may have been able to make upon the world scale.

Therefore, in the last two or three years we have been concentrating upon working with our friends, with those who are prepared to work with us. We hope that the circle of those who are prepared to work with us may be enlarged again. We are always ready to receive anybody who will work with us in co-operation. But we have to take things as they are. That is, in outline, the origin of such bodies as the Atlantic Pact organisation to which my hon. Friend referred. It is precisely because we were unable to achieve immediately universality that bodies like the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation, the Brussels Pact and the Atlantic Pact have been entered into.

I appreciate that my hon. Friend, because of his general views, feels very grave doubt whether any organisation which is largely directed to military defence—largely but not exclusively—can really have a pacific intention and really make a contribution to peace. He said at one stage in his speech that it was no use telling him that it was all for defence. We are well aware of the sort of dangers he has in mind. All of us have seen arms races in the past. We know the dangers which are involved and we know the larger danger, to which he referred, of growing military costs and the competition into which that inevitably gets with the standard of living of the people.

I ask him whether it is not correct that, historically, wars have just as often been caused because there was a preponderance of military strength on one side, and that side not the more pacific. Wars have just as often been caused by that as by the fact that two sides were frantically arming one against the other. My hon. Friend referred to 1939 and said—I think I have got his words right—"We could not send a single soldier to Poland." I think that has its moral. I think it is the case that circumstances arise in history from time to time when those whose pur- poses are genuinely pacific must be prepared to face the reality that there is a danger.

In that connection, I ask him to recall what it was that gave rise to the Brussels Pact and the Atlantic Pact. It was anxiety. It was not an aggressive spirit. It was fear of aggression from elsewhere. I believe that that fear was probably best expressed, certainly within my experience, on behalf of the nations of Western Europe by Mr. Spaak some two or three years ago in the United Nations, when he explained in the General Assembly the fear that was felt by nations like the one he represented. Nobody can seriously suggest that Belgium, for which Mr. Spaak was speaking, could be numbered among the nations which had any intention of starting, or any interest whatever in starting, another conflagration.

Mr. Rhys Davies

I hope my hon. Friend does not mind if I put this question to him. Suppose, as is not impossible, Russia makes aggression against Yugoslavia; would the Atlantic Powers take action in favour of Communist Yugoslavia against Communist Soviet Russia?

Mr. Younger

My hon. Friend has asked a somewhat leading and very hypothetical question. I think he will forgive me if I do not answer, but he may be answered in an indirect way by what I was about to say. If he looks at the most recent pronouncements of the Atlantic Council and in particular at the final communiqué, he will see that alongside the determination to provide the necessary defensive measures for the Atlantic area, there is a very solid requirement of loyalty to the United Nations Charter. It is, after all, enshrined in the Charter that collective defence and individual self-defence are both legitimate, and I think that it is within those principles that he will find the answer to the sort of question which he has put to me.

My hon. Friend has also referred to the visit of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Lie, to various capitals. There is not much I wish to say about that. As is well known, Mr. Lie has had a free exchange of views with statesmen wherever he has gone. His talks have been confidential, and we respect his confidence. My hon. Friend said that he had an impression that there was a certain suspicion in some quarters, I think he said in the United States, about Mr. Lie's visit. I cannot speak for the United States, but I can assure the House that there is no suspicion here. We recognise Mr. Lie's position as a very important international figure. He has a duty, as well as an opportunity perhaps, to resolve the difficulties which have been frustrating the United Nations and to find some basis of agreement. His position qualifies him better to accomplish that sort of task than perhaps any other single individual in the world. Therefore, we wish him well and welcome his efforts in that regard.

We have always maintained that the United Nations is the place in which the great problems arising between the nations of the world can best be discussed, including the problem of atomic energy, to which reference has been made. It is, after all, not we who have boycotted so many organs of the United Nations. It is not we who have sought to break off talks and negotiations there. It has been—I hesitate to call them the other side—principally the Soviet Union. If Mr. Lie's visit can in any way contribute to persuading them that their duty is to come back into those organs of the United Nations—and that seems to me the very least indication which they can give if their intention is what so many of their supporters claim it is—then we hope we can get on with the job.