§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I think it will be agreed by the whole House that this debate, which we are to have in the next two days, is one of the most serious, and therefore, I assume, will be the most responsible that we have had on foreign affairs for some time. I say that because the difficulties that are existing in the world at the moment, and their effects upon so many parts of it, as well as the threats to certain areas, bring immediately to our minds the dangers that may arise unless this whole problem is handled with great care and responsibility by everybody.
Therefore, I want to proceed today—and I hope I shall be forgiven if I stick pretty closely to my notes, in view of the circumstances—to review certain areas where trouble exists, as well as the wider policy. If I may, I should like to deal with the problems of Asia first before I deal with the particular problem of Korea. Ever since we took office, and I think indeed before it, the British Government have been impressed by the great difficulties which confronted them in arriving at a stable settlement for this great continent of Asia. The tremendous problems to which the emergence of a new Asia gave rise were examined at the last meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in the autumn of 1948. This was followed by the discussions at Colombo in January of this year, which brought out clearly the significance of these international issues affecting the lives of men and women of Asia.
In the political field, there have been two great influences at work in Asia. One was the development of nationalist feeling, the desire for self-expression, and the other the drive to implant the doctrines of Communism. The Communists utilised for their purposes, to a very great extent, the emergence of the nationalist feeling and harnessed it to their cause. We felt that we must recognise the genuine nature and the practical possibilities of the nationalist concept. Accordingly, His Majesty's Government pro- 1162 ceeded in so far as they were directly involved, to transfer power in India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma. They also, in the light of these views, co-operated with our friends the Dutch in working for a solution of the Indonesian problem.
Underlying all the facets of Asian evolution, running right through the whole continent, is at least an Asian sympathy and community of spirit which has to be recognised. It takes different forms in different places, but it all springs from the desire to realise independence and it covers millions of people in this great area. For our part, we have tried throughout to look at Asia as a whole, and our policy has rested upon two main principles; first, bearing in mind the political urge to self-expression and self-government, we sought to guide, assist and meet the tide of political thought which has swept over Asia and transformed the whole political scene, and, secondly, we recognised that the problem was not purely a political one.
In addition, there were economic, and above all, social changes to meet. There were widespread distress and mass poverty among the peoples in Asia, low standards of living, lack of development in public health and education. The more developed countries were, indeed, confronted with a challenge which could not be ignored, and these ills could not be cured by political action alone. They needed stable government in fact, this was one of the essential factors if we were ultimately to find the right solution. Revolutionary unrest, civil war, war itself, communal strife—all these difficulties have set back our efforts to grapple with these economic problems and produced chaos that would be difficult for us or anyone else to control.
Our aim, therefore, has been to assist political stability, to get the support of the peoples concerned and to co-operate to the best of our ability in the economic field. I think we can point with pride to our own record in the Commonwealth in former British territories. I am glad, and I am sure the House is glad that leaders have emerged who are inspired with the determination to use political institutions to the right end. We have been encouraged by the way in which they have shouldered their responsibilities and also played their part in the great international effort of co-operation. We are 1163 also glad to think that the Civil Service we helped to train for them and the, people we left behind to assist in administration, have rendered such a contribution to their stability and continuity.
An example of this co-operation was provided by the Colombo Conference where agreement was reached on a plan, details of which were given to the House yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which, if it can be put into operation without delay, will we hope by the end of 1957 confer substantial benefits on the economies of the countries concerned in South and South-East Asia by increasing the area under cultivation, by increasing available supplies of foodstuffs, by improving social and health services and communications. At the same time, the power resources of the area will be vastly increased and the necessary technical aid, including, of course, the local training of local technicians, will be provided. The good thing about this plan is that it is not confined to countries in the Commonwealth, and we hope to associate with us like-minded countries in the area and elsewhere who share our ideals and are willing, like ourselves, to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure the success of these plans.
I want now to turn to the problem of Korea. First of all, I should like to examine the objectives of our present policy. These were, I think, effectively set out in the resolution which the British delegation submitted to the United Nations General Assembly last September, and which was adopted in October. Our first objective is peace, our second a unified democratically governed Korea, and our third the rehabilitation of the country. Unfortunately, the first essential, peace, is not yet in sight.
In this connection the House will recall that in October the Commander of the United Nations' Forces appealed to the North Koreans to lay down their arms. This appeal was ignored and the responsibility for the continued sufferings of the people of Korea and for the continuation of the operations rests with the North Korean authorities. There need have been no hostilities in North Korea if the North Korean authorities had responded to this surrender offer which had the support of the United Nations. When 1164 they did not respond, it became necessary, in order that the purposes of the United Nations might be achieved, for the United Nations' Forces to restore peace and order in all parts of Korea so that the great and pacific and humanitarian task of unifying the country and restoring its economy could be undertaken.
There has, I think, been some misunderstanding about the status of the Commander of the United Nations' Forces in Korea and about the nature of the instructions issued to him. I wish to assure the House that the objectives of General MacArthur are no more and no less than the objectives of the United Nations. I cannot, for obvious reasons—it would not be in the public interest to do so—disclose in detail the directives issued from time to time to the United Nations' Commander. Obviously, where a number of Governments are concerned, situated many thousands of miles from the scene of action, it is impossible to conduct a military campaign on the basis of instructions agreed in detail by all the Governments concerned. It has, therefore, been necessary to leave the control of the operations very much in the hands of the United Nations' Commander, provided always that where his plans might involve questions of general policy then there must be appropriate consultation on such matters. I can assure the House that this is in fact what has happened.
I should like to remind the House that this is the first real effort at collective security in resistance to aggression, which came very suddenly, and much had to be improvised. As the House is aware, the machinery by which the Security Council can conduct its own military operations is not yet fully in being owing to obstruction by the Russians during the past five years. When aggression occurred in Korea, the Security Council did not order any military action; it simply made recommendations. As a result, operations in Korea have been undertaken by member States in pursuance of those recommendations.
In these circumstances it became necessary for an effective system of command to be improvised, and on 7th July, the Council recommended that the United States, who were providing the vast majority of the forces, should provide this command and designate a 1165 commander. I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the way in which the United States is fulfilling the responsibilities laid upon it by the Security Council. I want also to pay my tribute to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Forces in Korea who have nobly upheld the great traditions of their respective services.
I do not wish to give the House the impression that the termination of the military campaign will leave no major problems to be solved in Korea. The scars of war take long to heal as we know from bitter experience in other parts of the world. A United Nations Commission has, accordingly, been appointed to undertake the great and pacific task of unifying Korea, restoring its economy and easing the sufferings of the people, and this Commission will receive the full support of His Majesty's Government.
In the political as well as in the economic field in Korea there are, of course, formidable difficulties in the way of the establishment of a Government of a unified Korea. The present position is that His Majesty's Government recognise the Government of the Republic of Korea—the Southern Korean Government under President Syngman Rhee—as the Government of that area of Korea in which elections were held under the supervision of a United Nations Commission. We do not, however, recognise the authority of that Government outside these limits, and in that part of the remainder of Korea now occupied by United Nations forces, authority for civil administration rests with the Unified Command who will be advised by the United Nations Commission.
One of the major tasks of the Commission will be the supervision of elections. The constitution of the Republic of Korea, that is to say South Korea, provides only for elections at fixed intervals. The question then arises, what sort of elections are to be held under the General Assembly resolution? [An HON. MEMBER: "We have got to win the war first."] I propose to deal with this problem in my own way. Are they to be only to fill the 100-odd seats reserved for North Koreans in the South Korean National Assembly, or are they to be new elections for the whole country? This is a matter which the United 1166 Nations Commission will have to consider. We have dealt with this problem on the basis that, in the end, victory will be for the United Nations.
The world has watched the Chinese attitude towards Korea with very great concern and anxiety. I do not pretend to know the Chinese motives or intentions. Why have they gone into Korea? Is it to safeguard their own interests in the frontier area? Is it due to some imaginary fear of an attack on Chinese territory? I would remind the House of what I said in a previous debate of the danger of a simultaneous movement of East and West. That is still very much in my mind. Is this move into Korea part of a grand strategy for a bigger purpose? Is there a Russian-Chinese conspiracy on a world-wide scale? I do not know the answer to those questions, but they cannot be absent from our minds in dealing with this great problem.
But I can say this, that if the Chinese want to avoid general war, if they show the slightest sign of willingness to co-operate in exploring solutions by peaceful means, then I am satisfied that solutions can be found. The first essential is to stabilise the military situation and then to explore a political settlement. In fact, I have been working on this for some weeks, and the military developments in the last few days have not altered my opinion one bit—that it is on political lines that, in the end, we must seek a solution.
I do not wish to go into detail at this stage. A number of ideas have been canvassed in various ways and in various places. There are many ways in which political solutions can be sought and found. As I said earlier, if the Chinese are in the mood to co-operate, then I am hopeful that an extension of these hostilities can be avoided. I am glad to tell the House that I have been in touch with the United States Government in the last 24 hours, and the United States Government have re-affirmed to us that their purposes in Korea remain the same as our own, namely, to resist aggression, to localise the hostilities, and to settle the Korean problem on a basis satisfactory to the United Nations.
The emergence of China in its present form is one of the most significant events of the last few years. For some time we 1167 had seen that the régime of Chiang Kai-shek could not survive and, after careful thought, we decided to recognise the People's Government of China. We considered it was right to accept the facts of the situation in which that Government was exercising effective control over practically the whole of Chinese territory and, for the better protection of our own interests, to try to establish relations on a normal and friendly footing. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in establishing full diplomatic relations, and to that extent our policy has not attained its objective. On the other hand, the fact that our representative in Peking has access to the Chinese authorities is, in my view, an asset. However difficult the situation, I want to do anything I can to remove all obstacles to a better understanding and ultimate peace.
Not long ago I said that it would be better for us to help to shepherd China into the United Nations rather than to oppose her entry and cause unnecessary frustration. I still think our judgment was right. Indeed, I believe that some of the difficulties with which we are now faced in the Far East would have been avoided if there had been those opportunities for mutual discussion of problems which membership of international bodies affords.
I turn now to the Middle East. The Middle East has been traditionally a scene of international disagreement and rivalry. But there are certain recent events which give grounds for satisfaction. In the first place, there is the Tripartite Declaration of last May by the Governments of France, the United States and the United Kingdom. The House will remember that Middle Eastern Governments gave assurances that they would not undertake any act of aggression against any other State. In return, the Tripartite Declaration said:The three Governments take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest in and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the area, and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the States in that area.The three Governments, should they find that any of these States was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.1168 It must, I think, be a matter of sober satisfaction that Britain, the United States and France, turning their back on any old-fashioned ideas of spheres of influence, have been able to join in a statement of common intent to assist in the preserving of peace and stability in the area. Within this framework many obstinate problems may still be settled. That is the spirit in which we shall continue to work.
Another important step was the decision that Turkey and Greece should be associated with the Defence Planning in the Mediterranean of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In addition to this, as the House knows, all Middle East countries who are members of the United Nations, including Israel and Egypt, have voted for the General Assembly resolution of 3rd November entitled "United Action for Peace." The resolution provides for action to be taken by States members of the United Nations in the event of a threat to peace or an aggression, and of the Security Council being prevented by the veto from taking action. It recommends, among other measures, that member States should maintain with their national armed forces, elements for possible service as a United Nations unit or units. It establishes a collective measures committee to recommend further measures on these lines. of which Turkey and Egypt are members. I think we may all join in welcoming this development.
Another problem which we hope is on the way to rapid solution is that of the former Italian colonies. The future of Eritrea has proved particularly difficult to settle. The ad hoc committee of the United Nations has, however, just approved by a two-thirds majority proposals for the federation of the territory with Ethiopia. Both Ethiopia and Italy had previously stated that they were prepared to accept these proposals, and I hope that if the General Assembly now approve them, a new chapter may be opened in relations between Italy and Ethiopia and in the future of North-East Africa.
I am happy to say that the Constituent Assembly for the future State of Libya met in Tripoli on 25th November, and has begun to discuss the future of Libya on lines with which His Majesty's Government have full sympathy. We are fully 1169 honouring our pledges to the A[...] of Cyrenaica and his people, and our relations with them and with the various peoples of Libya are close and friendly. In this connection I was associated with the declaration which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) gave during the war, and I have tried to live up to the pledge that he gave on that occasion to the people of Cyrenaica. In this connection also I should like to read to the House a telegram which I received from the Cyrenaican Prime Minister on the anniversary of El Alamein. The Prime Minister telegraphed:The eighth anniversary of the battle of Alamein recalis once more the glorious victory and sacrifice which gave us our freedom. The Amir, Government and people of Cyrenaica will always cherish, as nation to nation, this precious friendship, forged in the field and proved in peace.We look forward to a long period of close friendship and co-operation with the future State of Libya and I am sure the House will join with me in expressing good wishes to them in their endeavours. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
As I have said, this spirit of international collaboration in the Middle East has been most heartening, and gives us solid grounds for hope for the future. But the pattern of co-operation is not complete. There is a piece still to be fitted in. That piece is Egypt. This territory represents a centre of communications of tremendous importance to the rest of the world, and it is not Britain alone that is involved. We are anxious to solve this problem in good faith and in co-operation, and that has always been our policy. We are not pursuing a policy of occupation in the old sense. We are pursuing one of mutual defence. Just as in the Atlantic Pact, we are here also striving for a solution which will be a contribution to the peace of the world.
In this connection I may say that we shall adhere to the 1936 Treaty until and unless it can be amended or replaced by mutual agreement. We do not admit that it can be amended or abrogated by unilateral action, but I can assure the Egyptian Government that in any discussions which I may have with the Egyptian Foreign Minister he will be met in the friendliest possible spirit and with the feeling that both of us have a duty to perform not only to our two countries but 1170 to the rest of the world. I do not despair of reaching by friendly discussion an agreement which will take account of these factors on a basis of full respect for Egyptian independence and sovereignty.
I also ask for the support of the House in maintaining the pledges we have already given that the future of the Sudan should in due course be a matter for decision by the Sudanese themselves. At the same time, we fully recognise the vital importance of the Nile waters to Egypt. We are glad that the Sudanese people have been able to make good progress both in developing their standard of living and in the field of government. The Governor General's Executive Council has made a good start, and this summer the Sudanese members on the Council were given a majority. The Legislative Assembly has been developing on satisfactory lines. It would be a tragedy if the clock were to be set back and the progress of the Sudanese people, which in many ways, both in economic and other respects, is a model to others, should be halted.
In my statement to the House on 13th November I explained the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the recent Soviet proposal for a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the demilitarisation of Germany. I referred to the recent United Nations resolution calling upon permanent members of the Security Council to meet and discuss all problems likely to threaten world peace. I then explained that while the Soviet Government's own proposals for a Four-Power meeting on Germany were in themselves unacceptable, His Majesty's Government are at all times ready to make their contribution to a sincere attempt to achieve, through negotition, the removal of underlying causes of world tension. Thus the attitude of His Majesty's Government to a Four-Power meeting is far from being a blank negative.
I am sure that in adopting a constructive attitude towards such a meeting, His Majesty's Government are acting in conformity with the general feeling in the House and in this country. This feeling was recently expressed on the highest international level in the resolution of the United Nations Assembly which was supported and accepted by His Majesty's Government. His Majesty's Government are, therefore, ready to take part in any 1171 properly prepared Four-Power meeting which offers a genuine prospect of putting an end to the existing state of tension and of bringing about lasting friendship between the free world and the U.S.S.R. This does not mean that we accept the Soviet invitation as it stands.
There are two reasons why the proposals as put forward in the Soviet note are not acceptable. First, they are tied to the Prague communiqué, and I have already made it clear that His Majesty's Government cannot accept as a basis for negotiations a set of proposals which have repeatedly been declared unacceptable to the Western Occupying Powers and to the German people. The second reason why we do not like the terms of the Russian note is that it covers much too restricted a field. German problems, though they are important, are only a part of what would have to be discussed at any useful Four-Power meeting. The German problem results directly from Soviet policy during the last four years which, by its action, not only in Germany but throughout the world, has compelled the free peoples to take steps to strengthen their common defence.
Previous experience teaches us to look very carefully at any Soviet initiative of this kind before rushing into negotiations. Mere words, unsupported by deeds, must not be allowed to induce us to jeopardise the social, economic and defensive position which we are building up for the free world at the present moment. That is the background. I think I can define our attitude as no blind acceptance but a constructive approach to the problem. Ever since the Soviet proposal was received we have been in continuous consultation with the French and United States Governments, and I am glad to be able to announce that we have agreed upon the desirability of a meeting of officials of the Three Powers next week in Paris to consider our detailed replies to the Soviet Government's note and to examine all the possibilities for a fruitful discussion with the Soviet Government.
In view of the present world situation it is imperative that the free world should not allow itself to be diverted from its first task of strengthening its social, economic and military defences. For it is only on the basis of such a position of 1172 strength and stability that the long and arduous work of preserving peace and building a true and lasting settlement throughout the world can proceed with confidence and assurance of ultimate success. That is why we signed the North Atlantic Treaty. That is why we are building up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. That is why the Atlantic Foreign Ministers in New York decided to establish an integrated force under centralised command for the defence of Western Europe.
But there has been a lot of discussion about this latter matter of an integrated force and a German contribution to the defence of Western Europe. I want to make quite clear the position of His Majesty's Government in this matter. We believe that the defence of Western Europe can only be assured by the closest collaboration between all the North Atlantic countries. It was for this reason that His Majesty's Government gave their full support to the United States' proposal in New York for the immediate formation of an integrated Atlantic Force, under one supreme commander, for the defence of Europe. We thought this proposal was full of hope and promise for our future defence and security and we urged that it should be carried into effect without delay.
At the same time, the United States raised the question of a German contribution. On this point, too, His Majesty's Government were in agreement with the United States Government. If, unhappily, aggression were to take place in Europe, we are satisfied that its defence would have to take place as far East as possible, and that means that Western Germany must be involved; and if Western Germany is to be defended, it seems to us only fair and reasonable that the people of Western Germany should help in their own defence.
Many people are quite understandably worried at the prospect of rearming Germany so shortly after the end of the war. They fear that the spirit of Nazism will rise again and, with it, a German Army and General Staff on the old model. That is a point of great anxiety to all the Governments and to every one who has had to study this problem. But it is something which the rest of the Atlantic Powers could not tolerate. The present leaders of Germany are as strongly opnosed as the Atlantic Powers to a 1173 re-creation of the German General Staff and of a German Army on the old model. Nevertheless, we cannot risk such a danger. We therefore agreed with the Americans that any German contribution to the defence of Western Europe must be in the form of units in the integrated Atlantic Force. The French Government were unable to accept this proposal and the New York meeting had to break up without reaching any final agreement.
The French Government have now produced a proposal for a European Army with a European Minister of Defence, subject to a European Council of Ministers and a European Assembly. This European Army would contain German units as well as units from the other European countries. His Majesty's Government do not favour this proposal. To begin with, we fear that it will only delay the building up of Europe's defences. Our first and most urgent need is to set up the integrated Force under the Supreme Commander. The next step is to provide for a German contribution to that force. These are immediate matters of great urgency. We take the view that the proposal for a European Army is also too limited in scope. We cherish our special ties with our old European friends but, in our view, Europe is not enough; it is not big enough, it is not strong enough and it is not able to stand by itself.
I understand the urge towards European unity and sympathise with it and, indeed, I did much to help bring the Council of Europe into being. But I also understand the new paradox that European unity is no longer possible within Europe alone but only within the broader Atlantic community. It is this great conception of an Atlantic community that we want to build up. This union of 12 free, equal and independent nations, organised for the defence of peace and for the growth of prosperity, comprising most of the free nations of Europe and working in harmony with the aims and purposes of the United Nations, is a great new force in the world. It includes two Commonwealth countries, Canada and ourselves, who will always work in the closest association with the other members of the Commonwealth.
We have set our hopes on this conception. We want it to develop far beyond its immediate purpose of defence into a 1174 lasting association of like-minded nations. That is why, I am sorry to say, we cannot accept the French proposal. That is why His Majesty's Government, looking at the problem of the future security of the West, are in favour of the Atlantic conception. Nevertheless, if it is the wish of the French Government and of other Governments in Europe to proceed to examine the possibilities of forming a European Army as a part of the integrated force for the defence of Europe, His Majesty's Government would not stand in their way.
We are trying to reconcile the different approach caused by our geographical position, our international responsibilities, our Commonwealth connection and every other factor concerned, and we are not at loggerheads with the French. If the French, with their long tradition and their European view, take one line regarding Europe and if they will not try to force us into an awkward position, we certainly will put no pressure on them with regard to their desire for a European Army. But I repeat what I said, and I appeal to them to let us get on. We are anxious to avoid delay. The situation in the world is very dangerous. All peoples can combine on this problem of security and peace. It is in the interests of all of us in Western Europe that the solution should be found promptly, and security assured.
The only thing I can say in conclusion is, that whatever controversy may arise on the judgments that the Government have arrived at and which I have enumerated today, there is, outside this House, a grave anxiety about world peace. All of us feel it, to whatever party we belong. I hope that the result of this two-days' debate will be such that it will contribute to the solution of these grave problems. I shall keep an open mind, as anybody must who occupies the position of the Foreign Secretary of this country. I shall listen with great care to suggestions. I think it will be a pity if the debate devolves into sultry criticism. I think this House, this country—all of us—are at a point when the best constructive brains of this Parliament are needed in order to preserve peace, the most precious thing mankind is praying for.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I have certainly no desire at all to quarrel with the general sentiments which the 1175 right hon. Gentleman pronounced throughout his speech; and, indeed, with much of his survey I find myself in very general accord. But I must say I had hoped that the Foreign Secretary would have been able today to disclose to us a little more of the Government's mind and their intentions in relation to the most recent developments in Korea. It may be that the Prime Minister will do that tomorrow. After all—and I think I understand the pressure under which the Foreign Secretary has inevitably been working, in the last few hours in particular—after all, the Supreme Commander of the United Nations in that area has himself declared that decisions are now, at this stage of the conflict, in the hands of the chancelleries of the world. [Interruption.]
The right hon. Gentleman himself paid a great tribute to General MacArthur's observance of the United Nation's decisions, and I hope that we shall not sharp-shoot General MacArthur under our breaths. What I am dealing with is the situation that confronts us from General MacArthur's own statement—that he is looking for direction from the chancelleries of the world. I hope we shall have—and I think that we must have—before this debate closes, some indication of the Government's mind in that respect, and of what action they propose to take within the very next few days.
I agree with the Foreign Secretary that we meet in conditions of the utmost gravity. Of course, we do. The words of so poised and experienced a soldier as General Marshall will be challenged by no one in this House, and he said last night:We are in a very critical situation. The implications are not limited to Korea. They are world wide.That is why we must look to some more constructive guidance from this nation at this time. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is an occasion on which each of us who wishes to make his contribution will wish to do so, not on a party basis, but in an endeavour to do his duty by the nation. Whatever individual points any of us have to make in this debate, I hope that we shall all feel that in such a time of crisis—for it is a time of crisis—friends must stand together. And that goes for countries as well as parties. If we do have to criticise the 1176 past, it can only be to seek direction for the future.
In one of the dark hours of the last war my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was in Washington when Tobruk fell. The immediate American reaction was to take Sherman tanks from their own troops and send them to our aid in the Desert. There was no recrimination then, and I hope that something of this spirit will inform us as we take counsel together today.
What do we want to do? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us a little about this. Am I right in this? In the Far East our obvious aim is to prevent the Korean war from spreading or developing into a protracted campaign, which can be just as bad—or nearly as bad. But that must not obscure from us certain grim facts. What are these? I suggest that they are, first. that the original aggression by North Korea was only made possible through Soviet and Chinese encouragement. I think that that has got to be faced. I stand to be corrected [...]f the House disagrees on any of these points.
Secondly, that Chinese "volunteers" could always be reinforced almost indefinitely from Manchurian bases—that is what has now happened—and that those bases could equally provide an escape route for North Koreans, just of the same kind as Bulgaria and Albania were to the rebels in the Grecian conflict some time ago. Third, that even if the United Nations together by their actions and their assurances were able to allay China's suspicions of what they call American imperialism, may be by agreeing to a neutralised zone or some buffer state or strip, this diplomatic agreement could be set aside in a very short time if the Chinese-Soviet combination set out again, either by infiltration or by force, to Communise all Korea.
There it is, if the House agrees with me thus far. We can see, however wisely we try to handle these events, that the demands upon our resolution and our diplomacy are as formidable as we have ever known. What are we to do about it? In these surging events we must seek a calm and balanced judgment, and I think we must also beware of wishful thinking. I have read many opinions in the last few months that China's Communism may ultimately take on a Titoist 1177 complexion. Well, that may be so one day. I cannot tell. But I have never felt—and I have said so—that that was a basis on which we could found our immediate policy. The whole tone and temper of Mr. Wu's speech at Lake Success last night makes that clear enough. It might have been Vyshinsky speaking—except that it took almost a little longer.
When we look outside Korea how can we pretend that we see Communist China adopting essentially pacific courses? What about Tibet? And Indo-China? And Malaya? As to Tibet, we have only to read the formidable statement of Mr. Patel. This is what he said:Drunk with military strength and power, the Chinese Government does not think in terms of peace.Those are very harsh words, however much we can understand the fervour of Mr. Patel's feelings.
I suggest that in all these circumstances the United Nations cannot afford to waver. Not one of the Powers at present fighting in Korea can possibly want to see that conflict spread. Some of those not there might like very much indeed to see it spread—one at least. But in seeking to resolve this dangerous situation we must beware of tactical postponements.
Now, as it seems to me—and here I come to the proposals we have to offer—broadly, two courses have been open to the United Nations from the moment they crossed the 38th Parallel. Near the Chinese frontier in North Korea lie the hydro-electric installations which supply Manchuria and Siberia as well as Korea. A case can be made for some neutral zone in the area of these installations, but this would be possible only under a system of international supervision on the spot.
Alternatively, we could have held the narrow neck, the "wasp waist." Many now feel that this should have been our course from the first: some felt it at the time. But what is necessary now is a decision, clear and quick. In our judgment, we should fortify and hold the "waist" now. That would be the course we would advocate. But if that is to be the decision, then the United Nations must make it, stand upon it, and see it through—and the sooner the better. While this should be, I suggest, our immediate tactical purpose, in the wider 1178 sphere of world politics, the United Nations must agree a strategic directive and enforce it.
If we are to be realistic we must admit that it is upon the United States and the British Commonwealth that the main burden of this task must fall, and so let us, these two countries together, without further delay make this our direct purpose at this moment. I presume it is at Lake Success and in Washington that decisions are being taken. Should we not be represented there now, at this critical hour, at the very highest level? I say this in no spirit of criticism of those who are now bearing the daily burden. I think they have done it very well, but there is no dispute in this House as to the gravity of the decisions which now confront us. I should like those upon whom the main responsibility lies to be meeting them and sharing them now.
I wish to make one or two comments on some of the topics which have been before us in this dispute, and to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. There is the Soviet demand for Chinese membership of the Security Council. I of course agree that the fact that the present administration of China is Communist, would not, in my view at any rate, be any reason for refusing her admission. Certainly not. It is not the complexion of a government but its conduct which should influence our voting at the Security Council; and I am bound to say that, judged by that standard, that of conduct, I do not see how we can now, in the present situation—and as far as I understand this is the position of the Foreign Secretary too—now urge her admission to the Security Council while she fights aggressively in Korea and marches into Tibet.
§ Mr. Eden
If I have got it wrong from the point of view of the Foreign Office that would interest me more, and I would gladly give way to the hon. Gentleman. I really have tried to think out this matter 1179 to see which is the best course to take. I quite realise, as we all must, the desirability of a representative Chinese spokesman being there, but for the life of me I cannot see how we can press for their admission at this particular moment when they are breaking all the rules on which the United Nations is founded.
§ Mr. Silverman
I have so far resisted the right hon. Gentleman's invitation to interrupt. Perhaps I shall get credit for interrupting now. Whatever view may be formed about Chinese intervention, it is not in contravention of any obligation which the United Nations might have.
§ Mr. Eden
I do not know how the hon. Gentleman can really feel that because I have not the advantage of a legal training. I do not see how anybody can view the Chinese action in Korea, or indeed the Chinese invasion of Tibet—because it is nothing else—other than in the words of the Under-Secretary, who said in relation to Tibet:I think that the action taken by the Chinese is inexcusable and unforgivable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 165.]If the Government take that view—and I certainly cannot quarrel with it in view of what has happened—I cannot see how, despite unforgivable and inexcusable conduct in the international sphere, we can at this moment invite China to join us in maintaining peace and order in the world.
I wish I could find some way out of that dilemma, but I cannot. That being so, I think we must stand on what is surely the spirit of the United Nations Charter. At the same time, if a final solution can be found which includes a withdrawal of Chinese aggression in Korea and elsewhere, we shall be presented with another situation. Therefore, on this issue I say to the Government that our plain immediate duty is to agree our tactical plans and our world strategic concepts in the East and in the West, and to agree them soon.
Now I come to the European situation. I make no apology for doing so because, infinitely grave as is the outlook in the Far East, it is still in Europe that the mortal danger lies. The European situation is both anxious and confused, and this description applies even to the relations between the free nations of the 1180 West. The Foreign Secretary has done something to clarify that aspect of our problems this afternoon. May I try to analyse them, and very briefly to propound a policy which we would seek to pursue?
First, we all agree, as the right hon. Gentleman made clear this afternoon, that the Russian proposals for conversations should not just be rejected out of hand. Nobody wants to do that. However sceptical we may feel about the true meaning of the Soviet Note, however much the Foreign Secretary may point, and rightly so, to the fact that it is based on the Prague declaration, this cannot relieve us from the responsibility of taking every constructive step in our power to probe its motives, and, if we can, to make progress if such should in fact prove possible. Indeed, I must remind the House that the Four Powers, including the Soviet Union, quite recently at the United Nations accepted a resolution which binds them to meet and discuss outstanding problems. They cannot refuse.
At the same time, I must confess that I do not see what use there would be in having another meeting about Germany which led to further wrangles and vehement public disputes such as we have experienced on so many occasions in recent years. We have had quite enough of this over and over again. What then should we do? Our proposal would be—and I think it conforms with, and perhaps goes rather further, than what the right hon. Gentleman told us this afternoon—that in consultation with our Allies we should prepare a constructive reply to the Soviet Note, and that in our Note we should propose to the Soviet Government a joint agenda for a conference which would cover the major issues which are in dispute between us.
If the House approves of this suggestion, what are the topics which ought to be included in that agenda? I should like to name them. I would suggest that instead of beginning with the German problem, the complexity of which everybody admits, we should start with Austria, about which there is already a fair measure of agreement. I would put that at the top of the agenda. If we could agree a treaty about Austria, if the occupation forces could be withdrawn from that country, we should have made 1181 a start, and we could then address ourselves to other and larger matters.
A further topic which I should like to suggest might be considered for an early place on the agenda is the existing position in respect of German forces in both East and West Germany. The Russians continue all the time to proclaim that the Germans in the West have already been largely rearmed, and I believe that they are suggesting that large numbers have already been embodied into some kind of security formation in the West. We, on the other hand, maintain that the Russians in the East have long established in their Bereitschaften a force of 50,000 men or more, which is, in fact, an army, apart from their civil police forces. If we are really to attempt to promote confidence between us, I suggest that this is just the type of issue which might be investigated by a Four-Power Commission both in East and West Germany.
So far as we are concerned, there would be not the slightest objection to Russia knowing the modest steps we are taking in the creation of a German armed security force. Of course, if such an arrangement were arrived at for the West, it would have to be reciprocal, and we should have to have similar opportunities to see what was going on in the East. That would be all to the good. It may be that the activities of such a Commission would help to dispel suspicions on either side. At any rate, it seems to me to be worth attempting and putting down on the agenda.
Then the agenda would have to contain a number of other topics which are urgent and important for the peace of the world, and which affect the relations of the great powers in the East as well as in the West. I see no reason—I agree with the Foreign Secretary in this—why these should be limited to Germany. It is no doubt true that the preparation of an agenda like this would require a great deal of work on behalf of all the Powers concerned. It would probably be very difficult to reach an agreement upon it. On the other hand, if once the agenda were agreed, then the conference could enter upon its work with a greater measure of confidence than has been possible at any time in the post-war years.
I would urge as emphatically as I can in the present situation that this is the best manner in which to proceed. I hope 1182 that the House—I am sure that they will—will have noticed the dual purpose I have in mind. It is essential that we should miss no genuine opportunity to reduce in any way the international tension which oppresses all our minds. At the same time, there is nothing whatever to be gained, and perhaps something to be lost, by another series of abortive discussions such as we endured only too often in recent years.
§ Mr. Eden
I am greatly pleased. I rather wish that the right hon. Gentleman had taken us a little bit more into his confidence. If the idea is to prepare an agenda, then I think there is much to be gained, and I hope that the suggestions which I have offered for the agenda may be considered and, no doubt, other and better suggestions will come, and that they may be considered, too. I think that may be a step forward. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I think that we might be told a little more. I feel that it is like having to extract something from a bottle with a corkscrew to get the contents.
§ Mr. Eden
I was rather looking for some good wine. I think that it would be better for us all than spirits. If that procedure is accepted, so much the better, and I think it would give the free nations of the West an opportunity—whatever else comes out of it—to harmonise their own views, and there is clearly urgent need for that. It is no use pretending that they are agreed at the present time, because they are not.
Now as to rearmament. Whatever the outcome of the discussions on this agenda, preparations for defence in the West must, of course, proceed with the utmost vigour. That is very unwelcome to everyone, I have no doubt, but we have no choice at all, as I see it, in the matter. In the light of the present disparity of organised military power, no one can pretend that such measures of self-defence can be a threat to anybody. On the contrary, our 1183 anxiety is rather about the slow rate of progress of rearmament of the Atlantic Powers, and also, I must admit, about our own contribution, heavy as is its cost—and about the only thing that is heavy, as far as I can see. As I understand it, we still propose to send only one additional armoured division to Europe next year. If that is to be our total contribution, it seems to bear very little relation to our dangers.
Now we come to what the right hon. Gentleman examined, and I will try to examine it, too. It is the very troublesome question of the creation of Western armed forces. How shall they be embodied? What contributions shall there be, and what shall be Germany's place in them? So far as the European Army is concerned, I see considerable advantage in the creation of such a force, particularly if it results in close and true collaboration between France and Germany. Let us try to be clear what we are talking about in relation to this European Army. I will say what I am talking about, and everyone else can say what they are talking about.
As I understand the French conception, it is that the European Army should he a permanent force, to which the member nations should make a contribution, not all of them making their total contribution to it. If that is so, there seems to be a lot to be said for this. It may be at first a comparatively small army and rather in the nature of a security force, the beginnings perhaps of an international army for Europe. But under present conditions it would be supplementary to the Atlantic Army of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, which would include contributions from the United States and Canada as well as from ourselves.
I do not see where the clash comes in this conception—why there should not be this small nucleus European Army if it suits the French and Germans better that way, within the wider concept of the Atlantic Force. As to which grouping our forces should join—where our main contribution should lie—no doubt there is room for discussion and argument about that. It may well be that the Atlantic grouping will be the one in which our Forces will mainly lie. It does not exclude some contribution perhaps to the 1184 European Army, if my conception of it is the right one. The conception of this European Army within the Atlantic Organisation and under a Supreme Commander seems to me not one which should be rejected out of hand.
I would, myself, try very hard to meet the French anxieties in that respect if I could. Whatever the final arrangement, we must all stand together while the present danger lasts. I do not think it has ever been within the French intention that this European Army should be more than a strong deterrent to aggression: but, at any rate, it is a beginning of an effort by the French and the Germans to be there together, as a guarantee of comradeship, and, as such, I would not turn it down if that could be avoided by any means.
I must now say a word or two about Egypt. I heard what the right hon. Gentleman said today endorsing his statement of 20th November, that His Majesty's Government do not accept the Egyptian Government's threat to denounce the Treaty unilaterally, and that such action could not be taken legally under the Treaty. That is also our view on this side of the House. As regards our general relations with Egypt, we are prepared to await the outcome of the discussions with the Foreign Secretary and the Egyptian Foreign Minister, which I understand are to take place this week.
Meanwhile, our contention is that, with all this weighing in the balance, we should suspend the supply of arms to Egypt. I will say why, and I can say it with more freedom than a Minister of the Crown. It is because that country has itself challenged the Treaty, because it has not adhered to the United Nations Resolution in respect of Korea, and because it still stops our tankers going through the Suez Canal as they are legitimately entitled to do. The restrictions which the Egyptian Government have placed by their action in respect of the Canal on the working of the Haifa oil refineries has involved us, apart from our Western European neighbours, in a loss of petroleum products worth about 4 million dollars a month. That is quite a lot of money to have to pay for an action we cannot accept as having any legal validity whatever.
Why, then, should we, in our present difficulties, continue to supply arms, most 1185 of which we presumably need for ourselves and our Allies, who are signatories of the Atlantic Pact or are contributing to the Korean conflict? One has to relate this question and the supply of arms to Egypt to the general peace and security of the Middle East. That was made clear by a joint statement on the supply of arms to Israel and the Arab States, which was issued after the tripartite talks between the right hon. Gentleman, the French and the American Foreign Ministers in May of this year. I should like to read this sentence from that statement, which states that all applications for arms or war materials for these countries should be considered asfor the purpose of assuring their internal security and their legitimate self-defence, and to permit them to play their part in the defence of the area as a whole.I am bound to say, in view of Egypt's present attitude, that he would be a bold man indeed who asserted that Egypt requires these arms only for this particular purpose now, when she is not only challenging the Treaty, but failing to endorse the United Nations action in Korea. Nor can there be any question of this: that our pledge to the Sudan must stand inviolate.
I have tried to deal in detail with some of the extremely grave and complex problems which now confront the Foreign Secretary, but there are also some overriding considerations which should always dominate our thought. We are all, of course, entitled to express our individual points of view, but no irritation, however excusable, no detailed point of disagreement, even an important one, should allow us for one moment to forget that, whether we look East or West, the whole future peace of the world depends on maintaining and extending unity and the sense of a common cause between the free nations of Europe, the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States. If we stand together, there is our best hope. If we fall apart, where is there any hope?
We threaten no one. We exclude no one from joining our partnership for peace and freedom, but to break, by our own disputes, the solid ground upon which we all stand would be to plunge the whole world into measureless disaster. If Russia were to succeed in splitting the Anglo-American alliance, the whole of the free world would lie open to forcible subjection by Communism. That is the 1186 supreme consideration which must be ever present in our minds. Here, then, is an occasion for frank speech, whether through diplomatic channels or man to man in Washington or New York, with our American friends and other Allies, so that we may agree upon common action on these issues that are today challenging us and are a threat to peace in the Far East and in Europe. Having done that, we can go forward together with greater confidence. Believe me, there is no other way.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I am grateful to have this opportunity to speak in this debate, because it will be the second occasion on which I have spoken in a foreign affairs debate since I was elected in 1945. I have listened with great interest to the speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). The last time I spoke on foreign affairs, I referred to a visit I had made to Germany, and I put forward some suggestions that I thought worthy of consideration at that time. I know that Members opposite will not agree with me in this, but one of those suggestions was that if the coal and steel industries in Western Germany were nationalised, it would do a lot to unite the East and West.
Both my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman have referred to Germany today, but the most striking omission from their speeches was any reference to the German people and to what they are thinking. The right hon. Gentleman said that we must consider the anxieties of the French, and we have been told that Europe is in mortal danger. It is for this reason that I mention this particular aspect of the matter. I do not see how we can avoid a very great catastrophe arising in the centre of Europe unless we take into consideration the actual position of Germany, its people and the opinions they hold.
We are asked to reverse our opinions about Germany. I remember a booklet being published in 1941 by Lord Vansittart about the Germans past and present. As a matter of fact, I have here a copy of the pamphlet. It is by Sir Robert Vansittart, as he was then, and is called "Black Record." In that pamphlet he tried to make us believe that the Germans 1187 were butcher-birds. He argued that butcher-birds were destructive animals, and said:If you study the butcher-bird and his larder you will soon be convinced that you cannot possibly make honourable terms with a butcher-bird. It will always insist on eating you.I was interested to note that the noble Lord, in a letter to the "Manchester Guardian" the other day, is now trying to make us believe that that applies to Russia. He has apparently changed his view and is in favour of re-arming Germany.
In this pamphlet he wrote:I told you at the outset that the cure will have to be drastic and largely self-administered. Without a fundamental change of soul, no other cure, no mere administrative or technical tinkering can be permanent. I will only add that it must at best be slow. It will take at least a generation."At least a generation," and yet within five years of that being written the most important and vital matter for consideration in a foreign affairs discussion is Germany, about whom we are now expected to take an entirely different view.
I remember the Prime Minister speaking at the Labour Party Conference in 1945 before the General Election of that year. He more moderately expressed the view that it would take a very long time before the war guilt of the German people would be wiped out. The present Leader of the Opposition, in a broadcast speech on 27th April, 1941, said there were no fewer than 70 million malignant Huns, some of whom were curable and some killable. Today, they are talking differently, with a Germany disarmed, dismantled and demilitarised. When I was in Germany and saw some of the dismantling going on and the terrible frustration of the people, I realised what a terrible situation it was likely to bring forth.
I hope the Foreign Secretary will consider a few arguments in regard to this question of Germany. I am not a military man, and always in this House I have put arguments against the military point of view. But I was interested to read in the "Daily Telegraph" of 22nd November, 1950, an article by Brig.-General Morgan, formerly deputy Adjutant General and a British member of 1188 the Council of the Inter-Allied Commission of Armaments Control in Germany from 1919 to 1923. He said:I cannot but think that the American Government is somewhat handicapped in its approach to the subject"—that is the incorporation of the Germans in the European Army—by lack of past experience. There were no Americans on the Inter-Allied Commission of 1919 to 1926. There are, therefore, no American records of our complete failure to disarm and demilitarise Germany materially or mentally. Our reports are, presumably, not among the American archives; otherwise, I cannot imagine that President Truman's advisers would ever have committed themselves to such a fantastic proposal as the establishment in Western Germany of an army. It is no use pretending it will be an army limited to 10 divisions. The limitation will be quite impossible to enforce in practice.An opinion of that kind has to be considered with very great care.
I notice that Dr. Schumacher, leader of the German Socialist Party, asks us to beware of the military experts. In an article he wrote in "News from Germany" he said:To some extent discussion is carried on by military experts. From the German side it would be cleverer not to put the opinion of experts too much in the foreground, for after the developments of the last 18 years it could cast rather a shadow over the German point of view. … Sometimes one has got the impression that politicians of importance cannot get away from what was specifically military in their past. I am now thinking of the old officer of Hussars, Churchill, whose cavalry ride in Strasbourg is anything but a strengthening of the European position. If a cavalry officer is talented then he becomes a Churchill and if he is without talent a von Papen.What I am deeply concerned about is the fact mentioned by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, the danger of Communism—about which we are all agreed. I am also very much concerned about the situation in Germany which, if we are not careful, may push millions of people into the orbit of Communism. I have taken care to examine some of the recent figures, and I find that in Germany the unemployed for October totalled 1,300,000. Similar numbers of people are being dealt with through public assistance. In addition, we are told that there are three million disabled in Western Germany. I hope this condition of affairs will be considered when an attempt is made to get this nation to reverse the whole of the opinions which we have expressed over the last few years.
1189 What did Erich Ollenhauer, Deputy Chairman of the German Socialist Party, say recently? It was this:For the German people in its present position and its economic conditions an attempt at the purely military solution would begin at the point at which the totalitarian dictatorship of Hitler collapsed. A question on the number of German divisions sounds impressive but is unrealistic. Not only tank divisions count in a struggle against the Communist attack. If millions of unemployed, refugees and people driven by desperation are behind them, the divisions cannot fight. The safety of democracy must be procured from the free will of the people.I have had the opportunity of seeing some of the refugees in Schleswig-Holstein. It was pathetic to see those masses of people. It is natural that their views should be considered before we take an extremely dangerous step.
The situation in the East has been outlined to us. I am always in favour of a clear direction of affairs, so that the world may know precisely what are our objectives. The greatest danger is in Europe, and if we do not handle this situation with extreme care we shall precipitate a world crisis. It is necessary to let both Asia and Europe understand the peaceful desires that we have in this country. One of the great tragedies in Germany was the number of disabled people. When I was there last I felt that those who had lost legs and arms were among the most pitiful sections of the community. There was a very large number of them. Today, I understand, the greatest tragedy is represented not only by those who have lost a leg or an arm or who have lost their sight, but by those who are able to see and who are now realising that, for a country like Germany, war has been the greatest possible tragedy.
Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that a very large number of German people will not be anxious to see the opening of recruiting offices. We have refused to allow the Germans to put up war memorials to their dead because there must be no outward and visible sign of militarism. What are they to think if we now want to reverse that position, in order to do something which may not only be a tremendous danger to the world, but may also involve one section of Germans fighting against another section—in other words, civil war?
I am only a layman. I have listened in the House during the last few years 1190 to foreign affairs debates from the experts on both sides, and I think that some of them have led us up the garden. It is good that we should occasionally consider some of these problems from a more simple point of view, because we are all involved in them. We were very thankful this afternoon that the Foreign Secretary himself made it clear that he still believes in negotiation. I remember the speech he made at the Labour Party Conference in 1945, when he said that we could not conduct the affairs of this nation by telegram and long-distance communication. "Round the table we must go," he said.
That is just as important today; indeed, we should go a long way in corn-promise in order to avoid the greatest clash of civilisation, a third world war. I trust that the Foreign Secretary will feel that the people of this country generally, and this House, are behind him in every effort he makes in negotiations and that he will make clear our intention that there shall be a line drawn somewhere in the East, so that the interests of the West and of the East can be united together in peace.
I am glad to have had an opportunity of saying these few words on this question of peace and war. I hope—and this is the first time that I have spoken in the new Chamber—that my appeal for negotiation and peace will be so echoed time and again that the House will never be placed in the position of supporting war.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The Foreign Secretary rightly told us at the beginning of his speech that we were discussing foreign affairs under the shadow of very grave events. I felt that some portions of his speech had been written before the worst of the news had been received from Korea. I took down one phrase, in which the right hon. Gentleman said that he would not like to give the House the general impression that the termination of the military campaign in Korea would leave the other problems unsolved. Nobody will disagree with that. I only wish we could see a prospect of the termination of the military campaign in Korea in the immediate future. So far from the campaign being almost finished and the troops being home by Christmas, a new war seems to have broken out.
1191 Yesterday, while we were debating with considerable assiduity whether or not Festival Gardens Limited should be allowed to open the fun fair on Sunday, British troops were being moved up into the line in order to go into action against the troops of the Communist Chinese Government, which the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends are so anxious to recognise. In Malaya, the position is far from satisfactory. In Indo-China, the French are having a very rough time. Tibet has been invaded, and the Egyptians have announced their intention of denouncing unilaterally the terms of the 1936 Treaty. So far as Western European defence is concerned, we have had a great many speeches, conferences, plans and arguments, all of which have had very little physical effect. Wherever we look the situation is grave.
As regards Korea, I was very glad that the Foreign Secretary took this opportunity—I was sure that he would—of paying a tribute to the immense part which the United States forces and their gallant commander, General MacArthur, have played. To do less would be ungrateful. It ought to be said that if it had not been for the United States' initiative in the Security Council in the first instance and the fact that the United States were physically capable of providing the troops and were ready to suffer the, unhappily, large casualties, Korea would have suffered long ago precisely the same fate as Abyssinia, Manchuria and Czechoslovakia suffered before the war in the 'thirties, about which events hon. Gentlemen opposite made a great many speeches burning with righteous indignation, the logic of which was belied by their total opposition at that time to any measure of re-armament. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite should consider themselves fortunate that we who now sit in opposition have taken a very different attitude—a far more realistic and far more patriotic one—in pressing the urgent need for rearmament.
One thing is quite certain, namely, that nothing could suit the Kremlin's book better than that United States forces, or the United Nations forces, should become embroiled in a long-drawn-out conflict with Communist China. I entirely agree with what the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the 1192 Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said on that point. If we are to be forced to do so, we must, of course, certainly expect—if past history is any guide to the future—some other move from the Kremlin in either the Middle East or in Europe, or in both. This depends entirely upon the way in which the Soviet Union is playing her hand at the moment.
The Foreign Secretary spoke about the political directive which General MacArthur had received from the United Nations. I am not certain whether I heard him correctly, and I hope that we can be told later on exactly what form this directive takes. No one in his senses wishes to see a commander who is conducting operations in the field hampered by any unnecessary political interference from Washington, Lake Success, London or anywhere else. At the same time, it is clear that in any war political considerations have to be borne in mind.
I should like to know from the Under-Secretary whether the political directive under which General MacArthur is now operating on behalf of United Nations is the same as that given when the Korean War began or whether a fresh directive was issued during the last month, if the latter is the case, could we be given a broad outline of its contents? Or has a further directive emanated solely from Washington, because, by and large, it is American troops which are involved; and, if so, were His Majesty's Government consulted as to the nature of the directive? I do not want to ask any question of detail which it would not be in the public interest to disclose. I fully understand that point. At the same time, we want to know a little more about the nature of the political control, so to speak, under which General MacArthur is so gallantly conducting the war on behalf of the United Nations.
But it is no less important to win the hot war in Malaya and Indo-China than in Korea. If we do not win the hot war, we cannot make much progress with the cold war. We heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday about the six-year plan for the development of Asia, and the Foreign Secretary referred to it in his speech. I believe that about £2,000 million is involved, to be spread over six years. That is for the 1193 purpose of building up the economic life in those comparatively backward areas. We all support that plan. All hon. Members are anxious to build up the economic life of South-East Asia, but I have a suspicion that in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen opposite the six-year development plan for Asia represents a kind of substitute to any serious rearmament.
I beg them not to be under any illusion that the one is a substitute for the other. The truth is that without adequate rearmament the long-term plan for economic development in Asia cannot possibly succeed, because if we lose the hot war in Asia or South-East Asia we lose the sole basis upon which the standard of living of the people of those areas depends, namely, access to and the produce from the raw materials.
On the subject of Egypt, I have always felt that the absence of any effective Middle East policy is now making itself felt in an acute form. I have never taken the view that our relations with Egypt have been very happy since the 1946–47 negotiations by what I regard as the ill-fated and ill-starred Stansgate Mission. I think that they have been extraordinarily clumsily handled. Every political party leader in Egypt attempts to gain support by the simple process of claiming that he is more anti-British than any of his opponents. That simple process is well known to anyone who has had anything to do with Egyptian politics. Anglo-Egyptian relations blow hot and cold in inverse ratio to whether or not at a given moment the security of Egypt is threatened.
Egypt is not the only country in the word—and certainly not the only country in the Middle East—which despises weakness and respects strength. It does not appear to me to be a very good policy to continue to send tanks, which are badly needed here, to Egypt to be paid for out of sterling balances accumulated by Egypt during the war when British and Dominion troops were defending Egyptian territory with their lives, now that Egyptians have announced their intention unilaterally to denounce the 1936 Treaty. The argument that His Majesty's Government are bound to fulfil existing contracts, however greatly political conditions may have changed, would seem to be on all fours with the rather fultile attempt to justify the continued export of machine 1194 tools to certain countries behind the Iron Curtain which, thanks to certain hon. Members, has now been stopped.
We have sat by quietly while the Egyptians have openly violated the Suez Canal Convention by refusing to allow the transit of British tankers to the Haifa oil refineries—
§ Mr. Mikardo (Reading, South)
It is not quite true to say that we have sat by quietly while the Egyptians did that. Some hon. Members on this side of the House have been complaining about that for two years and it is only in the last week or two that they have received any support from the Opposition.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
When the hon. Gentleman says that he has been complaining about it for two years, I seem to remember considerable support coming from this side of the House. Indeed, I think the original question was put down from this side of the House. All I am saying is that nothing was done on the Government Front Bench. So far as the Egyptians were concerned, they were still allowed to deny a passage through the Suez Canal to British tankers proceeding to oil refineries at Haifa.
The right hon. Gentleman said on Monday that His Majesty's Government had no intention of agreeing to any measures which would weaken Middle Eastern defences. All quarters of the House would support that. The truth is that we cannot defend the Middle East unless we control the Suez Canal. The British Forces are there under the terms of the Treaty, but they are not there solely to defend British interests or even Egyptian interests; they are there to defend Middle East interests as a whole.
The idea that Egypt can become neutral in any future conflict is not practicable. I regard it equally as a totally illusory argument, although I know the Egyptians always put it forward, that if we were to withdraw from the Canal Zone now we would be allowed to go back and re-occupy that Zone in any future crisis. Who is to decide whether or not a crisis exists, and if so, who is to decide whether a crisis has reached such an acute stage as to warrant the return of British troops to the Canal Zone? If the Egyptians can recollect the attitude of Norway and Holland in 1940, they would have realised long before now that unless defensive positions are occupied 1195 physically before the crisis—that applies particularly to airfields—events move so quickly as to make it too late to take effective action after hostilities break out. And if there is not a crisis now, I think that word has long since ceased to have any meaning.
With regard to Germany, I agree with many hon. Members that it is quite useless to try to build up a democratic way of life in Germany if the Western powers collectively are not capable of defending Western German territory. If such an attempt is to be made, it is clear that Germany must herself make a contribution in some form or another. I agree that this is an extremely difficult pill to swallow, particularly for the French, because they live closer to the Germans than we do and they have been invaded three time by the German armies. Their psychology is very understandable.
If only the Western Powers had not allowed their defences to run down so completely after the war, the German contribution could have represented a brick in an existing structure of defence instead of, as is the case today, part of the initial foundations. And the longer we delay coming to any effective decision about Western European rearmament and to the part Germany must play in it, the greater will be the decline in the morale of those who live under the shadow of the Iron Curtain whose relatives from time to time disappear behind it never to reappear.
From the complete absence of any visible sign that we can defend Western Europe, no one benefits at all except the Kremlin. If only His Majesty's Government had not left everything in the sphere of defence until the eleventh hour; if only they had not wasted two years of the "honeymoon" period when hon. Members opposite thought Left could talk to Left, and a third year in the belief that we in Britain could constitute a third force holding the balance between the United States on the one side and Soviet Russia on the other; and now a fourth year of delay in which a great many hon. Gentlemen opposite think we can only co-operate with any country in Western Europe if that country has a Socialist Government—if only those four precious years had not been wasted, we should not have lost the initiative which it is essential now for us to regain.
1196 I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that the effective control of the destinies of the civilised world is vested, on the one hand, in Great Britain and the Commonwealth and, on the other, in the United States. Had Great Britain and the Commonwealth and the United States pursued a common policy during the last five years the civilised world would have followed. Unfortunately we have trodden different paths on many important issues. Over China, Palestine, East to West trade, and on many aspects of German rearmament, we have not followed the same path.
There is still at this late stage, in this acute crisis, no single combined Chiefs-of-Staff organisation in Washington vested with the authority for reviewing the war as a whole. By that I mean an assessment of the comparative priorities as between Korea and Malaya, Indo-China, the Middle East and Germany. Still the hot war and the cold war are being fought in water-tight compartments when time is the vital factor.
Earlier this week 21 Greek kidnapped children, after three or four years of captivity in Yugoslavia, were returned to their parents. According to a report in "The Times," when they were first taken to a service in a Greek church after crossing the frontier they were not able to make the sign of the cross. Should not that be a warning to us as to how important is the time factor? Should not that be a warning to us in the civilised world to close our ranks, to disentangle the unimportant from the important, the urgent from the less urgent, lest our own children suffer a similar fate?
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
Today we have listened to the clearest statement made by the Foreign Secretary since he assumed office. From the point of view of the British people, it is also sound politically. It is now 12 months since I last spoke on foreign affairs, and I want to state the case in support of a constructive peace policy which is contained in the Motion on the Order Paper under the heading "The International Situation."
[That this House records its appreciation, in a time of growing international tension and misunderstanding, of His Majesty's Government's efforts to 1197 strengthen the authority of the United Nations organisation. It urges that there should be an early meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the implementation of Resolution C, which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly, and calls upon His Majesty's Government in co-operation with other powers to prepare a policy for a lasting peace which shall include proposals for resolving the fundamental differences between those great powers which formed the war-time grand alliance, a world plan for mutual aid, particularly to the under-developed areas of the world, enhanced economic development, increased trade between all countries, and a scheme for gradual world disarmament.]
Our proposals are based upon the decisions, first, of the United Nations, secondly, of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, thirdly, of the Trades Union Congress, and fourthly, of the Labour and Co-operative Parties. The signatories to the Motion believe that the decisions of all these bodies should be implemented. The signatories of the Motion are supported by many more of my hon. Friends and by millions of people in this country and throughout the world. We believe the time has arrived when this great country with a great history, which is much admired throughout the world, should take the initiative in foreign affairs. I propose on behalf of many hon. Members to submit evidence of why we should do that.
In the "New York Times" of 4th November, 1950, we find a resolution which was passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations and part of it should go on record, so that everyone who reads HANSARD may see to what we and every other member of the United Nations are committed. The resolution says:Re-affirming the importance of unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council on all problems which are likely to threaten peace.Recalling its resolution entitled 'appeals to the great powers to renew their efforts to compose their differences and establish a lasting peace.'Recommends to the permanent members of the Security Council that:(A) they meet and discuss, collectively or otherwise, and, if necessary, with other states concerned, all problems which are likely to threaten international peace and hamper the 1198 activities of the United Nations, with a view to their resolving fundamental differences and reaching agreement in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Charter.At the Dublin conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and other right hon. and hon. Members of this House are committed, a statement was issued on September 13th, 1950, stating:Maintenance of peace. … Again expresses condemnation of wars of aggression and, more particularly, of so-called preventive wars which are always a crime against humanity. … Calls upon all peoples, parliaments,"—that is us, every one of us—and governments to work together to reestablish and preserve the peace and promote the welfare of all nations. …It has been my privilege to enjoy the friendship of the Foreign Secretary for many years. I remember that 15 years or more ago when he used to sit in his office in Transport House and, later, when he became Minister of Labour during the Coalition Government, I had many conversations with him. One of his main ideas, which was outstanding, was that it would be necessary to build a bridge in order that international affairs could be dealt with in that way. I believe that today's statement is the beginning of the building of that bridge. Now this House and all political parties are called upon to implement the decisions of the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to which they committed themselves. I quote from the annual conference of the Labour Party at Margate this year:Collective security through the United Nations is the keystone of the Labour Government's Foreign Policy. … Peace cannot be defended without arms—or by arms alone. We must make resources available for increasing the wealth of the world's undeveloped areas, as set out in our World Plan for Mutual Aid. We must support the aspirations of the peoples of those areas.Therefore, the Motion which appears on the Order Paper is in complete harmony and accord with the decisions to which I have drawn the attention of the House. Our first request is that there should be an early meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. Clause A of the United Nations resolution asks for that. Clause C of the United Nations General Assembly resolution stated:appeals to the Great Powers to renew their efforts to compose their differences and establish a lasting peace.1199 I want to appeal to all those Great Powers who are entitled to attend the Council of Foreign Ministers that for six months or 12 months we should have a propaganda truce in order that the atmosphere can be improved and that the chloroforming of the people shall cease for the time being, in order to prepare the atmosphere for a successful conference of the kind we suggest. We ask that the Council of Foreign Ministers should implement the decision to which they are all committed, and if the conference is held, I ask that the man who carried the confidence of the ordinary people more than other man because of the sincerity of purpose, because of his record and because of his refusal to play up to this or that—the Prime Minister—should attend the early meetings of the Council. On 8th November, 1939, the Prime Minister said something like what I am saying tonight, and, if it was true in 1939, it is equally true in November, 1950.
Our next constructive proposal is that the time has arrived when the differences, especially fundamental differences, should be resolved between Britain, representing the British Commonwealth, the U.S.S.R., France, the United States of America and China. Here again we are committed by the resolution carried at the United Nations to try to have this implemented. In addition, Mr. Cordell Hull, who carried the confidence of the greatest person the United States has yet thrown up, President Roosevelt, said:There is no hope of enduring peace unless the real interests of this country, the British Commonwealth, the Soviet Union and China are harmonised.We on this side of the House and millions of people in our country refuse to be discouraged. We have hope, vision and confidence. Some of us have had the privilege of working with Chinese and Russians, and we know that in the main, individually, if we play the game with Chinese and Russians they play the game with us. Those of us who have been engaged with scores of students from China, Russia and other countries in some of the largest establishments in this country, know that is true.
Many of us in this House differ fundamentally. I differ fundamentally, politically, from most hon. Members opposite, 1200 but we have learned to reason with one another, not as the result of what we have been granted, but of what our people have won from Peterloo. Tolpuddle and similar incidents. We have established the right to come here freely to speak for the people on the same equality as any hon. Member of this House. We do not begin to throw bricks or books at one another as some people used to do. If this method can be followed in the House, it can be followed equally in an international assembly. Therefore, what we have achieved here, must be achieved in an international assembly in order that world problems can be considered there in the same way that we here consider our national and international problems.
Our next constructive proposal is that the time has arrived when it is not only right to suggest a plan for world mutual aid at political conferences, but when the Government should take the initiative and put forward this constructive proposal at the United Nations. We must have a world plan to build a road towards peace, progress and prosperity; otherwise, we shall travel along the road to world chaos, suicide and devastation. In "Labour and the New Society" we say:Labour proposes that work should start now on the preparation of a new long-term programme, a world plan for mutual aid.We are supported by millions of people in the U.S.A., especially those organised in the C.I.O., who make similar suggestions. Therefore, from this, our new home of British democracy, we appeal to the trade union movement and to public opinion in the United States, more and more to assert themselves and to rally with the British Commonwealth and others who are prepared to co-operate with us in putting forward a proposal at the United Nations for a world plan for mutual aid. I emphasise that all world activity should be within the United Nations organisation.
We also put forward proposals, on which we hope that the Government will consider taking the initiative, that the time has arrived for the world to agree to a scheme for gradual world disarmament. One of the finest Foreign Secretaries, who commanded the confidence of all peace-loving people throughout the world, was a man who represented this party: namely, the late Arthur Henderson. The reason why he was held in such respect was that the same things which he said here, he 1201 said also behind closed doors; and what he said behind closed doors, he was prepared to say anywhere, at any time. As a result, Arthur Henderson built up such confidence that whenever he spoke at Geneva, his audience listened to him in complete silence. We believe that we can bring about that kind of position once more.
People may jeer and sneer, as they have jeered and sneered for 150 years, at the class to which I have belonged, but, in spite of that, the British people have continued to make progress until now the British democracy is the finest of its kind. We have not reached this stage easily. We have reached it because the people to whom we belong have been supported, in the main, by public-spirited people who have been associated with other political parties. As a result, we are now called upon to set an example to the world, so that we can use the international stage for bringing about safety, peace and security for people throughout the world. Therefore, we support the proposals that have been made at the United Nations Assembly for world disarmament.
Two fundamentally different systems of society can work together in the world, provided that the other people are no longer treated as we on this side used to be treated 150 years ago. We used to be victimised and persecuted. We have now got away from that. The people to whom we belong are highly organised in the trade union movement and are able to put forward their own spokesmen in the country and in this House. This is true also of other countries with whom there may be fundamental differences. Those countries can no longer be treated as they were at the time of the A.R.C.O.S. raid; they can no longer be treated as they were once treated at Geneva and other places. As a result of a change in the alignment of world forces, there now stands a mighty Power speaking for millions of peasants in China, Russia and other parts of the world, who have never had a chance in life but who are more and more asserting themselves. We ought to be prepared to co-operate with them in order that what we have achieved here, may be achieved throughout the world.
For those reasons, I should like to draw the attention of the House to an extract from page 421 of "The Grand 1202 Alliance," by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who had a good war record. The right hon. Gentleman says:My wife felt very deeply that our inability to give Russia any military help disturbed and distressed the nation. Mrs. Churchill issued an appeal for aid. She said: 'There is no one in this country whose heart has not been deeply stirred by the appalling drama now going on in Russia. We are amazed at the power of the Russian defence. Above all, perhaps, we have been shaken with horror and pity at [...]he vast scale of human suffering …'.By her work Mrs. Churchill proved that she meant what she said. She brought tears to the eyes of millions of our fellow countrymen. Those tears are dry, but the memory of that suffering remains. People are asking today that all that shall not happen again, and the people who act in representative positions, like every one of us, must accept their share of responsibility in order that we can use our collective influence to see that the Government take the initiative in world affairs in order to be worthy of the sacrifices to which Mrs. Churchill drew our attention.
I have another quotation from page 393 of the same volume, at which the right hon. Gentleman writes:They believe that all the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.When I heard my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister read that declaration on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, I was delighted, as were most hon. Members. During the war those words inspired and encouraged millions of us. Thousands of men gave their lives for that cause, and now we, in our day, are called upon to be worthy of it. If it was right to make that declaration in 1941, it is equally right to repeat it today. Therefore, the signatories of the Motion to which I have referred propose a constructive peace policy, on the following basis. We appeal for a 1951 propaganda truce, and we ask our Prime Minister to speak on behalf of this House, on behalf of the millions in this country whose confidence he retains, and on behalf of millions of men and women who do not agree with us politically.
It will soon be Christmas, which is a time of good will towards men, and we 1203 ask that Britain should send glad tidings, and really mean them, to all parts of the world. We used to feel sorry for the distressed areas in this country, and we went to their aid. There are now continents of distressed areas—China, India and Asia. They have suffered for generations from insecurity, wars and starvation. It is in the days of adversity that one finds one's real friends. We are called upon to go to the aid of those continents of distressed areas with a world plan for mutual aid.
Therefore, we say that the present conflict, which is causing us all concern, must be localised. We appeal to the Government to use their influence in order to localise it, and to use their influence in the United Nations so as to enable them to take the initiative. We say that it is time that the Russians and the Chinese responded, and we appeal to them from this House of Commons. The working class of Britain have no desire to work or march against the Chinese people, and there should be no desire amongst them to work or march against us.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Brigadier Head (Carshalton)
I am sure that the whole House respects the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), which, I know, were uttered with great sincerity. I feel that in approaching this question of foreign affairs what matters is not the opinion of one class or another, but the opinion of the whole nation, and that we should aim at ascertaining that. In this debate the dominating thought among many hon. Members has been, and will probably continue [...]o be, the present serious situation in Korea. But I believe that the very seriousness of that situation makes it more than ever important that we should in this debate attempt to view our foreign policy as a whole, and not be led too much into consideration of one particular area because of the present circumstances.
The Western Powers today are, it seems to me, fully committed to a policy of world wide containment of Communism. That is a commitment which far exceeds their present strength. It stretches from Hong Kong, through the Far East and Middle East, to Europe. I suggest that events in the Far East in particular have just as intimate a repercussion on 1204 the affairs and situation of countries in Western Europe which have no particular ties with the Far East as on any other countries. The whole of this question of containment is inter-dependent and closely connected, so that some heavy commitment in the Far East could have a disastrous effect on the fortunes of a European country which has no Colonies and no particular interest in that area.
For that reason, I deplore, and have in the past deplored, the fact that nowhere throughout the whole organisation of the Western Powers is there any body charged with the task of viewing the policy of world-wide containment of militant Communism as a whole.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
Would the hon. and gallant Member agree that E.C.A.F.E., the Asiatic Commission of the United Nations, has a job with that objective in view, and that it is not quite correct to say that this objective is not being considered? That is surely proved by the work of E.C.A.F.E. and by the Colombo Conference.
§ Brigadier Head
My point is that there is no single responsible executive body which can consider world strategy as a whole, weighing the claims of one area against another, a task which must take place in great secrecy.
My conception is that a body on the lines of what, in the last war, was the Combined Chiefs of Staff, presided over by the supreme executive authority, namely, Prime Ministers and Presidents, should be charged with the task of assessing the relative importance of each area in this world-wide problem and of ensuring that the limited strength available to the Western Powers is deployed in the way best calculated to fulfil our task of containing Communism.
I cannot help feeling that if some such inter-allied body—and we must face the fact that we are now in the middle of a grand alliance—had been considering this matter as a whole, and had, in particular, been considering the question of Korea—I am not trying to hedge and criticise—with the Chinese sitting quiescent on the river line, such a body would have decided that the best course of action was to wait in the waist of Korea and to discuss the whole question with the Chinese, with a view to minimising our commitments in Korea, so that we should not commit the fatal 1205 error of becoming heavily embroiled in the Far East, an area which is of secondary importance to Europe.
It is no use thinking of these things afterwards. It may be that there were reasons why this was done, and it may be that such consultations took place, but I deplore the fact that no body is specifically charged with that task.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth Devonport)
Does the hon. and gallant Member exclude the possibility that the British Government were in favour of such a plan and that the Americans objected, and what would he do about that situation?
§ Brigadier Head
The hon. Member will agree that that is a highly hypothetical question. I am not evading the question, but I cannot possibly know what was the Government's attitude about Korea. I am saying that if we view the problem as a whole, bearing in mind the supreme importance of Western Europe, our object in the Far East must be to avoid becoming unduly committed. I do not propose to make any further remarks about the Korean situation as I feel that it is difficult for anyone in the House to make any worth while suggestions or comments on such a distant campaign in a country of which little is known.
I wish now to make a few remarks on the question mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, which also forms the subject of a Motion on the Order Paper, namely, the question of the organisation of four-Power talks with Russia on the highest level with a view to securing some sort of improvement in the international situation, or, as the Foreign Secretary put it, a decrease in tension. At the outset I wish to say that I am in no way opposed to this suggestion, but I consider that it has to be approached in a most realistic manner. The Motion on the Order Paper, and, indeed, all such suggestions to date, have been animated by the same emotion which unites the whole House—an overwhelming desire for peace. But, as is the case historically, and I think it is equally true today, wholehearted attempts to come to a peaceful settlement can, unless they are accompanied by favourable circumstances and a position from which peace can be negotiated, paradoxically enough, if persisted in when the climate is unfavourable have exactly the opposite effect, and make war more likely.
1206 In considering the possibilities of the conversations and of the conference at a high level which had been suggested, it is surely important to consider most carefully and realistically the likely reaction of the other party to such talks. I believe that that can best be done by a brief consideration of Russia's foreign policy over the last five years, at present and in the future. I know that when anybody mentions Soviet Russia there is a section which talks about the inscrutable men in the Kremlin, and the absolute impossibility of forecasting or predicting how Russia will react. I do not subscribe to that view. It is my belief that since the war and up to today there has been discernible in Russia's foreign policy a thread of continuity and a perfectly logical application of her own interests, which has been reflected in her policy.
We must never forget that Russia is inspired by an almost fanatical belief in a sense of mission to spread Communism throughout the world. She feels that to be her task, and that is her ideology. No doubt that sense of mission is accentuated by fear, by a desire to make the world safe for Communism, and perhaps by a tinge of the old Russian imperialism. Be that as it may, wherever weakness has appeared, Russia by infiltration, intimidation, fear, propaganda, and so on, has softened and annexed her neighbours to make them Communist States.
Throughout this policy, there has been one overwhelming consideration. Russia will adopt all methods and all mischief short of war to gain her ends. I believe that at the moment Russia desires peace. I think that she wishes to gain her ends without being embroiled in a major conflict. That is partly because she has an empire which stretches from the Elbe to the Pacific which she would like to consolidate, and it is by no means solid at the moment; but even more so because, as I see Russia, she has been scrupulously careful that her foreign policy marches in step with her military and strategic situation. That, I am afraid, is more than one can say for the Western Powers.
Russia today has overwhelming conventional military strength. There is, however, a marked disparity in atomic and nuclear weapons. That alone makes it more important than ever that she should at present avoid total war. What is more logical, I suggest to the House, than that 1207 Russia should confine her forward foreign policy of annexation to the Far East, where the likelihood of a general conflagration is far less? I not only think that is a logical pursuit of her policy, but it was foreseeable and, indeed, was forecast by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington as much as 18 months ago. It seems to me logical that such a policy should have been pursued up to the present time.
In assessing the possible value of talks with Russia we must surely bear in mind Russia's future expectations of gaining her eventual aim. Let none of us lose sight of the fact that the eventual aim and object of Russia is the gradual annexation and domination of Europe for Communism without war. It is in relation to her expectation of being able to achieve that aim that she will decide whether to make any agreement worth the paper it is written on or not.
Let us put ourselves for one moment in Russia's position regarding her expectations in Europe. Both military and scientific opinion are agreed that in two, three, four, five or perhaps more years—but in the not very distant future—the disparity in nuclear and atomic weapons will have immensely decreased. I do not think that Russia will ever catch up with the lead of the West, but the disparity which causes almost unilateral atomic warfare to have been in our hands will gradually diminish. Russia's extreme fear of war, through having, practically no atomic weapons, will begin to diminish. We are forced to admit that she will continue to retain immense strength in conventional arms.
Russia's outlook in approaching the European problem must be influenced by her uncertainty about European strength within that period, whether it is three, four or five years. If the Western Powers become entangled and their strength, efforts and attention are drawn towards the Far East; if they fail to gain that unity of purpose and effort in creating their strength which they have certainly not yet achieved; if, for political and economic reasons, the countries of the West do not put a wholehearted effort into the creation of strength, then in that period, three or four years from now, the situation will arise wherein Russia will have decreased vulnerability 1208 in atomic weapons, great conventional strength and there will be no realistic conventional defence of Western Europe. There may be perhaps 20 or 30 divisions, but that is not enough.
That is the time, and this, I am sure, must be in Russia's mind, when she can implement a more forward foreign policy regarding Europe, which is the most dangerous area. Let us take a hypothetical situation in which Russia has annexed Vienna or perhaps Berlin. It will be apparent to the West that that action is the thin edge of the wedge in a Europe weakened by the knowledge that their defensive strength is not great enough to keep the Russians out. It may be that America and perhaps Britain will say, "This is where we must stand, or it means the end."
What will be the attitude of Europe in those circumstances, when every man, woman and child knows that there is no realistic defence for Europe and that, though it may be ideologically right to make war, it will be followed by Europe being overrun with, despite the possibility of eventual liberation, ghastly consequences to Europe itself? I suggest that those circumstances provide a climate well suited to appeasement. However tough America and Britain may be we cannot fight in Europe unless Europe is with us and prepared to fight.
That is what is in the back of Russia's mind today because, judged by the last five years, we have not made a great job of creating strength. If we fail in the next five years, the possibility of the gradual nibbling away of a weakened Europe is vastly increased. I suggest most seriously to hon. Gentlemen who all want the same thing, that with this possibility in Russia's mind, the hope now for achieving a lasting settlement through any agreement which will be worth the paper it is written on is a dangerous form of optimism.
The task before us today is the creation of unity and strength in Europe. It is when one reviews the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary over the past few years, in the light of that over-riding necessity, that some of the cracks begin to appear. As far as strength is concerned, I must confess that throughout the last two or three years I have felt that we have been terribly late in starting. There was no attempt 1209 by the Foreign Secretary, or the Government, before the Korea incident, to point out to the people of this country the dangers which confronted them. Surely the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, with their special knowledge, must have been aware of these dangers. Even then, I have felt that the efforts of the Foreign Secretary to match by adequate military strength the immense number of commitments which he was progressively building up were extremely inadequate. The commitments were built up but they were not reflected in the state of our own defences.
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is the first speaker to introduce a party note into this debate. Does not he think that it is unfair to make this accusation against the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary about Korea, when General MacArthur, the man on the spot, was as surprised as anybody when the invasion happened?
§ Brigadier Head
I am not trying to make a party point. If it had been my own party which had done this, I should have made exactly the same remarks. It is my habit to say what I think in these debates, and I think that it is wrong to keep out any criticism of the Foreign Secretary. I was talking of the period before Korea. During that period all the signs of danger were present without the actual lighting of the fire which brought the facts home to the people.
What I would also say is that, in regard to unity in Europe, it has seemed to me that some of the actions of the Foreign Secretary which may have followed his own personal convictions have not been calculated to foster unity in Europe. Although I am not suggesting that we should now be full participants in the Schuman Plan, the Foreign Secretary might have brought more benefit to the cause of unity if he had done something positive to assist this opportunity of healing the rift between France and Germany on the question of rearmament. Surely he could have gazed more favourably on the recommendations of the Council of Europe then, for these men were all pursuing the same objective—unity in Europe.
Again, in the case of Spain, although I would never suggest that she should 1210 be a full member of the Atlantic Pact, I suggest that, if we should blunder into war, at the worst Spain will be a benevolent neutral and quite probably an active ally, for nobody has a greater interest in keeping Communism from his front doorstep than General Franco. Surely we had no need to offer the gratuitous insult of withholding diplomatic relations with Spain, and then putting ourselves in the position of being extremely ungracious when we were finally forced into doing it.
Although I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman's intentions are of the best, on certain other questions we have been far from helpful or intimate in some of our relations with America. In Europe, America has made the great gesture of intervention by financial aid and the sending of troops. But the assistance of our leadership has been in some respects markedly lacking for the last two or three years. I do not want to press on party matters, but there is also the lamentable intimation of the Minister of Health in a matter about which everyone of us knows.
We all want the same thing, that is peace, and the only thing that I would like to put before the House is my absolute conviction that we cannot get peace the easy way. We would all like to see a satisfactory solution, under which it is no longer necessary to dissipate our manpower and all the effort which might be so much better used for exports and the recovery of our economy. I am convinced that we cannot get peace the easy way, and I am equally convinced that we have only one chance to get peace, and, indeed, one chance of survival, and that is that the whole of our foreign policy and the whole of our efforts from now on should be entirely concentrated on gaining the unity and strength of Europe. Let us, by our example in a wholehearted effort to build up our own defences—of which I am not at present convinced—and by the creation of unity, play our full part to preserve peace and the independence of our own country.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
In view of the deterioration in the international situation and the terrifying prospect which faces us at the moment, I think most of us would direct our attention towards any 1211 prospect there is of securing, without war, peace for the peoples of the world.
The two parties concerned in the present situation are the United Nations, on the one side, and the Russian Government, on the other. Of course, there are subsidiary parties, but these are the two protagonists. The Foreign Secretary has told us that he finds it very difficult, and almost impossible, to find out what is in the minds of the people behind the Iron Curtain, and that is perfectly true. In these conditions between these two great movements, we naturally want to find out what is in the minds of the people behind the Iron Curtain if we possibly can.
What they intend to do in the case of Korea or any other particular sphere I do not know, but I suggest that they have made quite clear to the world what is their general programme and their ideology. So many people nowadays talk about something that has happened and say, "It is fantastic" or "It is horrible," and do not go beyond that. For instance, when we were told that the Americans had scattered Colorado beetles over German potato fields, some people laughed and a few were indignant. When we were told that the British were responsible for murdering Gandhi, nobody paid very much attention. What we need to know is the ideas that produce these happenings.
The Russian Communist Party have made known their programme, their ideology and their religion, and we have to take account of that and try to understand it before we can realise the sort of people with whom we are dealing. Incidentally, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), spoke very feelingly about the Russian people, and I can say myself that all the Russians I have met have been very pleasant people. Here, however, we are not dealing with the Russian people; they have no voice in this matter. We are dealing with Communist imperialism, and we are, in fact, dealing with the Politburo of Moscow. As to what constitutes the religion or ideology of the Communist imperialists, I am going to quote some short extracts from "Problems of Leninism," millions of copies of which have been circulated all over Russia. This is what it says: 1212Our aim is the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country as a support for the overthrow of Imperialism in all countries. The revolution extends beyond the bounds of one country, and the epoch of world revolution has begun.That is what we must bear in mind in considering this matter, and we should remember that Lenin himself defines the word "imperialism" as "the highest form of capitalism." Turning to another Communist textbook called the "Short Course," which is read by millions of Russians and millions of other people outside Russia, we find this:To destroy the danger of capitalist intervention, the capitalist encirclement would have to be destroyed … by victorious proletarian revolution in at least several countries.The "Short Course" goes on to say:Russian Communism is in favour of just wars"—What are they? The book defines them—not wars of conquest, but wars of liberation, waged to defend the people from foreign attack and from attempts to enslave them, or to liberate the people from capitalist slavery, or lastly, to liberate colonies and dependent territories from the yoke of imperialism.These quotations have been acted upon ever since 1945 by the Communist parties in Russia and in other countries. These are not merely the stuff of propaganda; this is the creed to which the Russians attach so much importance and which they propagate every day of the week. This is what they teach their followers. This is what they act upon.
All students of Communism, and I claim to be one, realise that the ideas of Marx are carried on to this day by Communists, and that each class has its own morals, a mere superstructure on economics, and that each economic class preaches a code of morals and religion and everything else to suit themselves and their own interests. Therefore, for the Communist, there are no morals common to all. In the "Left Wing Communism." we read this:It is necessary to use any ruse, cunning, unlawful method, evasion or concealment of truth.That is Communist immoral teaching which is being acted on every day in the week in this country and in every other country. That is what we are up against; we are up against a system which is out for absolute power. In the Communist Manifesto of 1848, Marx told the proletariat that the bourgeoisie would 1213 tremble at the Communist revolution, that the proletariat should unite and conquer the world, and that they had nothing to lose but their chains. Therefore, we are up against a most formidable conspiracy and the people with whom we are dealing have no morals, no scruples and no compassion. In my opinion, never was mankind, in the whole course of history, in such dire peril as it is today.
I will now pass on to a few of the countries concerned, and I will take France first. I recently met some Frenchmen, and it seemed to me that they still regarded Germany as the enemy. In my opinion, the enemy of France is not Germany, but the Russian Politburo. I am glad to say that the French have now come round to the idea that Germany must help to defend herself. We must see that speedily we are all ready to defend Europe. This is not the time for new constitution making, and the proposal to set up a Federation of Europe is just an idle dream at the present time.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) spoke about the European Army. I usually find the right hon. Gentleman easy to follow, but I confess that I could not follow him today. He said that such an army would be part of the Atlantic Army, but he did not explain how. I cannot see any use in having a separate European Army. I think the proper thing is to have an Atlantic Army, or rather an Atlantic Air and Naval Force.
I now pass to Egypt, a country of which I have a considerable knowledge. I have had a lot to do with the countries of the East, and I do not think that any Arab would say that I am an enemy of the Arabs; but I would ask my Egyptian friends to remember that the 1936 Treaty was agreed to by the Egyptians under the very serious conditions of that time. Mussolini was rampant then, and the Egyptians were convinced of the danger from Italy, but I should like to tell my Egyptians friends that they are in far greater danger today than they were in then from Mussolini.
The Egyptians must realise that it is no use running away from the facts and what is likely to happen if the British troops are sent away to, say, Libya. Let the Egyptians remember what happened in the last war when the Low Countries said that they would be able to stem the 1214 German invasion until the French and British arrived. They were swept away. Armies and navies cannot be pushed about the world at five minutes' notice. When war occurs, it will be a blitzkrieg, and Egyptian forces will hardly have time to think. Therefore, I beg my Egyptian friends to be realists. The destiny of their 25 million people depends on what is done, and, whatever the difficulties, I suggest to the Egyptians that they should tell their people the facts and then, if their people wish to sack them, they should go.
Take Sudan, another country about which I know something. I know the Sudanese pretty well and I know the two great parties there—the Umma and the A[...]higga. The one stands for the independence of a Sudanese Sudan and the other wishes it to be under the Egyptian Crown. I would again suggest to my Egyptian friends that instead of trying to force the Sudanese to come under the Egyptian Crown at the present time, they should try to persuade them to do so. At present Egyptian politicians are only strengthening the cause they want to weaken, the cause of the Umma Party.
As regards the Arab States and Persia, we have to remember that they have most of the oil in the world. I would remind my Arab friends and the people of Iran that, although the oil of the world may belong to them, it also belongs to the world, because oil is one of the most important factors in potential warfare. I do not believe that the people of those territories are taking this matter seriously. I know from living in those territories that the people there believe that, whatever happens, the West will save them; but it may be that the West cannot save them. They must throw in their lot with the peoples of the West and endeavour to unite to defend their territories.
India is another country which I know very well. Mr. Nehru made a statement the other day to the effect that only Malayan nationalism can withstand Communism. I would point out, first of all, that there is no Malayan nationalism. There are three races in Malaya who are all divided, and it may take a century before they are united. But even if they were welded together today, Malayan nationalism could not resist Communism. One cannot stop bullets with words, and 1215 the Communists, of course, are using bullets and bombs. But Mr. Nehru made another statement with which I entirely agree. He said that only by working out a common defence policy can India and Pakistan survive. That is statesmanship: that is real sense.
It may be said that the quarrel between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is a matter for the two States concerned. It is not. As the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton said, the policy of Communist imperialism is to communise the world—in other words, to conquer the world. India is in a very important position, and therefore the struggle over Kashmir is of importance not only to India, but to the whole world. I know that the situation is full of difficulties, but we have often had quarrels like this with other countries—with the United States, for instance. I know that in one case we were very dissatisfied, but we accepted the award of arbitrators. I suggest to our friends in India and Pakistan that the best remedy is to employ two or three arbitrators of absolute integrity who are friendly to both countries, and to agree to accept their decision however unsatisfactory it may be to one side or the other.
This thing cannot go on. These two countries, whose destiny is tied up with ours, whose safety is our safety, are fiddling while Rome is burning. Force is on the border. It is now in Tibet, opening the eyes of everyone to the real intentions of the Communists. I beg them to agree to settle this unfortunate Kashmir incident and to accept the verdict of arbitrators, whether they like it or not.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Down, North)
Is it not a fact that Pakistan is ready to accept arbitration, but that India is not?
§ Mr. Reid
I am well aware of the facts of which the hon. and gallant Member speaks. I do not want to put the blame on one or the other. Things are past that stage. All I am anxious for is that the dispute should now be settled, and that India and Pakistan should take their proper place in the defence of liberty.
This is not a party debate, but before I leave the subject of India and Pakistan, I want to say that the Foreign Secretary mentioned today, I think with pride, our 1216 policy in giving independence to Burma, India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Some hon. Members may remember some of the debates we had on India and Burma. There was great opposition from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to our quitting India and Burma, and giving them independence.
I believe that if one wanted to pick out one piece of supreme statesmanship in our policy since 1945, it would be what we did for the people of India, Burma and Ceylon. I remember saying at the time that we should have to send out about 20 divisions to reconquer India and about 10 divisions to reconquer Burma, if we wanted to do so, and that if we did reconquer them, we should have to hand over to them in the end, as we did in South Africa, after the Boer War. To do that we should have divisions bogged down in India and Burma, instead of being at home. I said in the debates three or four years ago that we should not get bogged down in India, because we might need our Forces nearer home. I had studied Communism even then.
I come now to the subject of French Indo-China. I have spoken recently to representatives of Viet Nam. When one speaks to these people, one finds it incredible how they will not get away from the past. They speak as if the white man was the enemy. The enemy is not the white man, it is the Communist, whether his skin is white, yellow, brown or black. I beg of them to settle their differences with the French Government which, I understand, wishes to give them complete independence and a federal Government for Cambodia. La[...]s and Viet Nam. The French would give them as much independence as we gave to India, Burma and Ceylon.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
Is not the hon. Member aware that, as a result of a conference at Pau, it was announced on 27th November that exactly what he desires has taken place, and the greatest degree of autonomy, and financial autonomy, has been given by France in the last few days, to those three States of Indo-China?
§ Mr. Reid
That is perfectly true, and I am using that as an argument to ask the Viet Namese to settle their differences with the French and give up this idea of colour hatred, or whatever it is, and work 1217 with the French upon whom their very safety depends. I do not know what the relations are between Moscow and Mao Tse-tung, but I suggest that Communism is a very uncomfortable bed-fellow, and that if the Chinese obey the behest of Moscow, which wishes to use them in a war by proxy, they may find that, in the end, the bed-fellow has all the blankets and they are left out in the cold. I hope, sincerely, that the wisdom of China will prevail, and that, instead of being the catspaw of the Kremlin, they will make peace with the West, which has no designs on their independence, integrity or anything else.
In the last debate on foreign policy, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, whose speech was generally applauded on that occasion, said—no doubt he will correct me if I am wrong—that the first priority was defence. I am sure that that is still more true today. We must arm, and arm quickly, and then peace can be negotiated from strength. Communism has no respect for anything except strength and force.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
Every one of us can agree with the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, and indeed by every right hon. and hon. Member who has so far spoken in the House, that the passionate desire of everyone in this country and in all the free countries—and I will even make this concession to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), that I believe it to be the passionate desire of ordinary men behind the Iron Curtain, whether they are in Russia or in the countries of the satellites—is the desire for peace and to have the fear of war abolished from above their heads.
The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) has very rightly brought us to realities. Peace does not depend upon the wishes and desires of ordinary people at the present moment; it lies within the power of those men at Moscow that we should have peace in our time or that we may be face to face with another disaster.
§ Mr. Davies
Surely there is this great difference. Even if there were a 1218 desire anywhere, in any Government, that they should start a war, so long as a Government is dependent upon the votes of the people, freely expressed, I dare that Government to start an aggressive war; but if the Government are not responsible to the people but hold the people in the hollows of their hands, they can do as they wish and the people are mere pawns.
I think all of us were disappointed with the early part of the speech of the Foreign Secretary. We expected to have more information on the present situation in Korea. There is no doubt that we are face to face with one of the greatest perils that even this generation has faced, and we are full of anxiety. But I hope that the explanation I have given to myself is the one which really shows what is in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman in not giving us further information. We are not alone in this position, and the armies that are fighting are fighting under the orders of the United Nations, and it is difficult to keep in close touch with one another and keep decisions secret and not expose too much to the enemy. I suppose that is what compelled the right hon. Gentleman not to give us any more information at the moment.
The situation has undoubtedly worsened considerably during the last two days. Whether or not a mistake has been made strategically, I am not in a position to judge—I know nothing about those things—but of this I am certain, that there must be no quarrel amongst the members of the United Nations. We may be able to criticise one another, but to quarrel at this moment would be fatal. Furthermore, there would appear to be the great danger that if this advance by these new troops were to succeed, it might be said that the aggressor can succeed and that the efforts that have been made on behalf of the United Nations for the first time have been doomed to failure. Nothing could be worse for the free world; nothing could be worse for the freedom of all of us and for the peace of the world. It is necessary at this moment to remain firm and to have as much confidence as possible in one another.
One should remind oneself how this has all arisen. It started with an effort being made by the United Nations from 1946 onwards to get a united Korea under its own form of government, and every 1219 effort was made to bring about that situation in Korea, with a Government which they could all accept. But every effort that was made by the United Nations to bring about an agreement was stopped by the North Koreans beyond the 38th parallel. Although we did our very best to bring them into conferences with us, they would not even reply to any requests, but merely indulged in abuse which took the form of broadcasting to South Korea and to the East. Then, under the ægis of the United Nations, the Government of South Korea was formed. Whether it was good or bad, it is their own form of government which they chose. Whether they chose it well or not, I am not in a position to say; but that is not the point at all. It was a government of their own choosing.
Then on 25th June came a deliberate act of aggression. At once the Security Council acted, and we have all pledged ourselves—over 50 nations—to support the decision of the Security Council. The main burden has been undertaken by America, and we must all be deeply beholden to the American people and the American Government for what they have done. Our forces in Korea at the moment are not very great, but already over 50 of our young men have been killed, over 175 have been wounded and five are missing. Already there are homes here in Britain that have suffered once again from war and its horrors. What must be the suffering in America?
§ Mr. Davies
I agree—and in Korea. The people of South Korea would not have suffered but for the act of aggression coming from the North. They would still be alive.
§ Mr. Davies
Is that a fair question? Our own people are being killed out there. There are those towns being defended by the aggressors. Are we not to take what steps we can to defend ourselves? I do not understand the hon. Gentleman's attitude.
§ Mr. Davies
They are helping to defend those people and their freedom. Having 1220 succeeded in doing that, there comes a further aggression of 200,000 troops. From where have they come? Without doubt, the movement has been directed by Moscow; the centre of the direction is at Moscow.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman think it possible that the case of the United Nations in South Korea driving back an undoubted aggressor beyond the South Korean frontier is somewhat different from the case of the United Nations forces going beyond that point into what, for the purpose of this argument, is another country?
§ Mr. Davies
It is one country; everybody desires it to be one country governing itself. From a position north of the 38th parallel were prepared all those forces which have caused all the damage in the south.
§ Mr. Davies
Is the hon. Member forgetting that when we reached the 38th parallel the offer was made to the North Koreans, "Lay down your arms. We can now settle the whole matter"? That offer was rejected, and rejected pretty obviously under directions from somewhere else—from a place which had been supplying the guns, ammunition and aircraft which had done so much damage.
§ Mr. Silverman
Was any offer ever made other than one of unconditional surrender coupled with the non-recognition of any authority in North Korea at all?
§ Mr. Davies
The offer was a perfectly plain one, made on behalf of the United Nations, and it was refused by those who do not want the United Nations to succeed.
§ Mr. Davies
I have dealt with several interruptions by two hon. Members. They will get their opportunity to speak; they generally do.
May I now pass to what was the most impressive part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech? It was that His Majesty's Government, France and the United States have decided not to turn down completely the offer that has come from 1221 Russia and any of the resolutions based on the Prague Conference, and that we are now prepared to do our very best to bring about a meeting on the highest level so that we may once again see whether it is possible to remove the difficulties which confront us. That was the most impressive part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and it is one which I am sure will meet with everybody's approval.
We all listened to a very notable speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), but I disagreed with what he said. Apparently, what he wanted was to go on building up our strength for another five years in the fond hope that in the meantime these incidents would not occur, that war would not break out, and that we would then be in a very much better position to discuss these matters on what we might call equal terms with Russia. I am sure it is the desire of all of us that no effort should be spared to begin these discussions as early as possible in the hope that some solution can be found without our having to run the risk of war and without incurring unnecessary expense. I am sure that will be welcomed throughout the free world.
I agree also with what was said by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden)—and I understand it was accepted by the Foreign Secretary—that we should make full preparations and should have a full agenda, that we should then submit it to them and that we should be ready straight away to enter into these negotiations upon a fair basis.
The only other matter to which I want to refer concerns Egypt. Let it be remembered how much Egypt owes to this country, not only for her defence in the last war but for what we have done for her over something like 70 years. Let it also be remembered that the Canal is an international way upon which depends not only the trade of the Middle East and the Mediterranean but the means of quick communication by sea between East and West. It is essential that that way should be maintained and, as the hon. Member for Swindon reminded us, that way why the Agreement of 1936 was made—in order that the Canal might be protected.
The Foreign Secretary said a few days ago that, once having entered into an 1222 agreement with Egypt to sell them armaments—and that is part and parcel of the Agreement of 1936—we cannot very well refuse to carry out that part of the undertaking. But surely those subsidiary agreements for the sale of tanks or aero-planes or any other armaments to Egypt depend upon the main agreement being kept sacred and upon good will remaining between the two parties. If the main agreement goes, surely the subsidiary agreements go.
Already Egypt has declared her intention of denouncing the Treaty. Already Egypt has stopped the legitimate use of the Canal and has refused to stand by the United Nations. Is it right, therefore, that we should continue to arm her while she is in that mood? Would we have entered into these subsidiary agreements for the sale of tanks to Egypt if she had adopted that attitude throughout and if the main agreement of 1936 had not been made? Of course not.
I cannot say more at the moment, but I hope that, in the discussions which are to take place between him and the Egyptian Minister, the Foreign Secretary, while being ready quite rightly to consider all proper and reasonable arguments that may be put before him, will stand firm on the ground that the position of the Canal must be maintained, just as we all agree that the position in the Sudan must be maintained. The Foreign Secretary has a very difficult task to perform, and I am sure we must exercise great restraint in this moment of dire anxiety to us all.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Follick (Loughborough)
I was greatly interested in the statement made by the Foreign Secretary, which I thought was a straightforward and honest statement of the difficulties with which the world is faced. I listened, also, to the very fine speech of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), and to the proposals which he put forward. So far as the back benches are concerned, however, I have never heard a series of more defeatist, pessimistic speeches since I have been in the House.
Hon. Members do not seem to realise the danger besetting Russia. All they talk about is the preponderance of Russia in the world but, in fact, the preponderance of Russia ceased in 1947. Russia does not today enjoy the preponderance which she enjoyed three years 1223 ago. The position has altered. In 1947, Russia would have been able to bestride Europe right to the Channel and there would have been nothing to oppose her, but today all around Russia there are enemies and potential enemies.
I shall try to bring a little optimism before the House to show that the position is not so horrible as we have been led to believe by so many hon. Members on both sides of the House. One has to know a little about history and a little about geography to be able to talk on foreign policy. I know a little about both. Let us take the case of Korea first. It is quite possible that Russia is incriminated in the design which has been revealed in Korea and, if it had been successful, it might have been the pattern for Eastern Germany. So far as the action of the Chinese is concerned, that is real Chinese diplomacy; it always has been. I am not sure that it is not the Chinese way of obtaining diplomatic recognition from the United States and a seat at U.N.O.
I think we altogether underestimate the power of China. The new China—and it will be a new China; we might as well be prepared for it—will be one of the greatest Powers the world has ever known. There are nearly 500 million inhabitants in China. Let me remind the House—and I said I knew something about history—that in 1853, when Commodore Perry knocked at the gates of Japan, the Japanese had never seen a telegraph pole or a steam-engine. By 1903, 50 years later, Japan was able to face, and two years afterwards to defeat, one of the most powerful military nations in the world. Such was her progress that that was the precursor of the 1906 uprising in St. Petersburg which eventually sowed the seeds for the 1917 revolution.
Russia knows Asia; she is part of Asia; and Russia does not ignore the tremendous danger to her sovereignty which is growing up alongside her. In Asia we have an Alsace-Lorraine, just as we have in Europe. Manchuria is as much a bone of contention between Russia and China as Alsace-Lorraine has always been between Germany and France, and the reasons are the same—coal and iron.
§ Mr. Follick
The hon. and gallant Member says "very funny," but it is dangerously funny, and I am surprised that any hon. Member dares to say that a thing is very funny when the tragedy is in front of us. With a rising China in Asia, Russia will have perhaps not a subservient Communist follower, but a rival for anything which exists in the way of rivalry between China and Moscow.
Russia in Europe is no different from what Russia has always been in Europe when she has had the power to carry out the policy which she is carrying out at present. It is not Communism. It is not Sovietism. It is pan-Russianism. We have only to study post-Napoleonic history to see that Russia behaved in exactly the same way for over a quarter of a century after the Napoleonic wars had finished. She was behaving then just as she does today. Until she was faced up to in the Crimean War she remained the terror of Europe; but we found out in the Crimean War that a very badly organised Britain and a worse organised France were facing a still worse organised Russia, and from then onwards Russia ceased to be the trial to Europe she had been, and proceeded to her right place.
That can happen again. Russia even today, although we are all so afraid of her large number of soldiers—and she had them just the same then—may not be even a giant with feet of clay: she may be only a giant of clay. We must not bury ourselves in a shroud of pessimism, but prepare ourselves, and be prepared to challenge or to accept a challenge. One of the ways of preparing ourselves in the West is to build up our strength in such a way that Russia will no longer be able even to threaten us.
To do that we shall have to include Germany, whether we like it or not, because the only people throughout history who have been able to contain the Russians have been the German people. The tragedy has always been that when we have allowed or helped the Germans to build themselves up to a state of power so that they could contain the Russians they themselves became a danger to the rest of Europe. But the position now is different from what it was.
I know quite well the feelings of France in this matter. France will never forget that in the last 80 years she has been invaded three times by the Germans. She 1225 will never fail to remember that. But then, in those days Germany was preponderant in Europe. The strength of Germany was greater than the strength of any two nations in Europe. Indeed, what was called the Von Schlieffen Plan before the first world war—it was openly discussed by everbody—was a plan of how Germany alone could attack and overcome Russia and France in nine months. There was no secret about it. It was openly published. And that was the plan that Germany followed out.
Today, that is not the position. Germany is not now preponderant. Nor can she be, because we have Russia, in the East, who has arisen to a power to which she did not attain previously. From the Crimean War onwards the power of Russia receded. Today, Russia is much stronger than Germany, Germany is divided. The aspirations of the Germans will always be towards unity, and their only hope of achieving that is in association with the Western Powers. The salvation of Germany depends upon the Western Powers, and the salvation of the Western Powers depends upon Germany. So we must hold ourselves together in front of the greater danger.
If we build ourselves up without fearing Germany, it will encourage the satellite States. For the moment there is no encouragement to them, but if the satellite States know that behind them there stands a strong Western military power, then they also will be prepared to fight for their national integrity and their national independence, in the same way as Tito is doing, and showing how to do it. When we speak of Tito, do not let us speak of China as possibly showing signs of Titoism. In the one case we have a small nation of 15 million or 16 million, and in the other we have a huge people, approaching 500 million.
With a strongly built up Western Europe and a reviving new China the position of Russia is none too happy. Russia knows that; she does not have to be told. We have only to call her bluff in the same way as it was called at the time of the Crimean War and a strongly built up Western Europe can sit down round the conference table with Russia and talk sense to Russia and get sense talked back. After all is said and done, apart from that, apart from strength, apart from the rivalry of China, and 1226 apart from the atomic bomb—and I would not say that Russia can never catch up with us on that—Russia cannot catch up on the fact that of the 170 million tons of steel produced in the world annually the free nations produce 135 million tons, and that of the production of oil in the world of 8,000,000 barrels Russia produces only a million barrels, and that those one million barrels of oil are obtained from a very vulnerable part of Russia.
So, when we are talking here with so much defeatism and so much pessimism let us look at the true facts of the case. Those facts are that the danger is not so great so long as we are prepared to face up to the danger. Russia will be no longer a terrific problem, once we take the matter in hand, and are not prepared to climb down any more.
Let me say, in conclusion, how glad I am that diplomatic relations with Spain are to be resumed. The House knows my attitude in that respect. It knows that I, perhaps, was almost alone in the House in asking that the Spanish people should not be penalised because we did not like their Government. Before the First World War we had friendly diplomatic relations with Czarist Russia, yet everybody hated the Czarist system. We only penalise doubly the Spanish people by not according them diplomatic recognition; and by not according diplomatic recognition we only strengthen the position of Franco. Franco said to me, when I was in Spain, "If Britain will make a gesture I will make a gesture." I hope that Franco will try to bring Spain more into line with the Western democracies. He can do it. There is no reason now to carry on being the only dictator left in the Western world. If he does it he can do it graciously, and hand over sovereignty gradually to a democratic Spain. He has done a little, though not much.
There have been local elections in Spain this year. Perhaps hon. Members will laugh at local elections in Spain, because we know the ideas about local elections in all dictator countries. But there were never proper elections in Spain, as we understand them, even under the Monarchy. I well remember going there in, I think, 1920 when there was an election. I accompanied the Liberal candidate. The Conservative candidate came along and offered a bridge, which was the 1227 thing usually offered in a small village in Spain. The Liberal candidate said to me, "I have come too late. My opponent has already offered a bridge." I replied, "Offer them a river. They have not got one yet," and he got in by promising them a river. That was the sort of election one had in Spain before, and it is not very different from what Franco does today. I only hope that Franco will move his people into line with us. There is a great affinity between this country and Spain and their histories. In spite of our wars with Spain we have had parallel histories, and we have both been great adventurers in progress.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Somerset de Chair (Paddington, South)
I hope that the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) will not think it a discourtesy on my part if I revert to those parts of the Foreign Secretary's speech in which he dealt principally with the Middle East. I agree with the hon. Member for Loughborough that it is very difficult to analyse these subjects without having some knowledge of the historical background which has produced them. Perhaps I may be allowed a little later on to draw one or two analogies from the past in relation to the Middle East, which I think as appropriate as those which he has drawn in relation to the Far East.
I am very sensible of the fact that the Foreign Secretary is this week engaged in discussions with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on the possibility of negotiating a new Treaty. Nobody in this House would wish to make it more difficult for Britain and Egypt to come to a friendly understanding. While it is not the way of this country for the students of London University to march upon the Egyptian Embassy during the discussions, to throw stones through the windows and to shout "Up with the Sudan and down with Egypt," and that sort of thing, that would undoubtedly be the type of demonstration which would accompany any attempt in Cairo to discuss the revision of Anglo-Egyptian relations, I think it is equally undesirable that an Egyptian Foreign Minister negotiating in this country should be left unaware during a debate of this kind of the true feelings of the people of this country about the importance we attach to the strategic significance of the Canal Zone in the Middle East.
1228 I have on many occasions tried to study the Treaty with Egypt which was drawn up in 1936, and I sincerely ask any Egyptian politician to what feature of that Treaty he can possibly take exception. If they are now considering negotiating a new Treaty, one is bound to ask in what way any new Treaty can differ from the one signed in 1936 without departing to a degree to which we would never assent, from the essential clauses. It is perfectly clear that in this Treaty great attention was paid to the importance of Egyptian sovereignty and independence. Article I stated thatThe military occupation of Egypt by the forces of His Majesty the King and Emperor is terminated.That was put in to make it perfectly clear that from then onwards, any defence arrangements included in the Treaty would not be regarded as an occupation of Egypt, and would in no way infringe Egypt's national sovereignty. In discussing the actual provision for the Canal Zone base, the Treaty went on to say very specifically thatThe presence of these forces"—that is, the British Forces—shall not constitute in any manner an occupation and will in no way prejudice the sovereign rights of Egypt.There again, it was recognised by the leading Egyptian statesmen who signed this Treaty, including Nahas Pasha himself and Nokrashy Pasha and others, that our Forces in the Suez Canal in no way constituted an occupation of Egypt, and could not be regarded as a threat to the rights of Egypt.
What were to be the circumstances in which British troops were to go to the Canal zone? It was to beuntil such time as the High Contracting Parties agree that the Egyptian Army is in a position to ensure by its own resources the liberty and entire security of navigation of the Canal, authorises His Majesty the King and Emperor to station forces in Egyptian territory in the vicinity of the Canal, in the zone specified in the Annex to this Article, with a view to ensuring in co-operation with Egyptian forces the defence of the Canal.To put it bluntly, could we, as one of the High Contracting Parties, agree that Egypt was now in a position, in the present state of the world, to ensure the defence of the Canal zone? The answer must be clearly stated that we could not take that view at this stage. It may well be that, as the years go by and the inter- 1229 national situation improves, the Egyptian Army may be able to take over some of these responsibilities, but the war which has lately taken place between Egypt and the State of Israel was not conducted in the military sphere by the Egyptian forces in such a way as to give us any assurance that they could cope with a Russian invasion coming down through Turkey or the Caucasus. I put it no higher than that. The fact of the flatter is that under the terms of Article 8, we cannot possibly accept that the time has arrived when the Egyptian Army can take responsibility for this area.
It has been well pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that this is no longer a question merely of British defence of the Canal area. We are dealing here with an advanced position for the United Nations as a whole. When the invasion of Korea took place, we were very fortunate in the fact that the Americans had a base in Japan within striking distance of Korea, and were able to react violently and immediately to this sudden and unexpected threat. That is precisely the situation which would arise if a threat developed in the Middle East. The existence of a powerful British zone in the Canal area would be comparable with that which enabled General MacArthur to react vigorously to the threat from North Korea. Without such a base, it would be quite impossible to mobilise the forces of the Western world and hold a position in the Middle East long enough to be effective.
It is extraordinary, when discussing this problem with Egyptians, to discover their attitude. I have friends in Egypt. I have sat with Bedouins settled in the Delta and discussed with them, during long evening talks, the problem of the revision of the Treaty and their attitude to the Canal zone. They take the most extraordinary point of view that we can just dump our forces across the Canal in the Sinai desert. They say, "Why do you not put them in the Sinai desert for a change?" First of all, the hydrographers assure us that there are not sufficient water supplies in the Sinai desert to allow us to build a base there.
But, as "The Times" correspondent pointed out, to think that the British base in the Canal Zone is a sort of suitcase 1230 that can be picked up and put down at any convenient spot in the Middle East is a ridiculous misunderstanding of the importance of a base of that nature. This has been built up under the assurances we received in this Treaty, and it has become a secure base in the sense that it has its base workshops, its reconditioning plant, all the camp facilities and messes, and the various features which go with a large military establishment. It is quite inconceivable, with the threat from Russia being what it is now, to think that we can simply abandon all this and move it somewhere else.
I am bound to say that I think all that could have been made much clearer to the Egyptians three or four years ago. The Government are to a large extent to blame for the state of Anglo-Egyptian relations today. It was a statement made by Lord Stansgate, when he went to lead the delegation for the revision of the Treaty, that all British troops would be withdrawn from Egypt which has led to so much acrimony on the part of Egyptian statesmen in dealing with this issue.
It was the Bevin-Sidky agreement—which the House has never seen, but the terms of which are fairly well known, and which is said to have been initialled at the Foreign Office—under which a promise was made to withdraw troops from Egypt and to establish the joint defence of the Sudan. It is a fact that the Government never thought out the position in the Middle East sufficiently clearly when they made those announcements. They did not, apparently, realise then that they would have to evacuate Palestine. That was the time when the Foreign Secretary was staking his political reputation on the solution of the Palestine problem.
The history of the last four or five years in the Middle East has been one of gradual disintegration, and I am afraid that the Foreign Secretary has sacrificed his reputation as a statesman in handling Middle East affairs. Not only has he had to retract statements made about the withdrawal of British troops from Egypt, not only has he had to retract the Bevin-Sforza agreement about handing Tripolitania over to the Italians again, not only has he lost his way over the future of Eritrea, but he is now confronted with a complete impasse in Anglo-Egyptian relations. They have broken down because 1231 of the insistence on the part of Egypt that they should have the Sudan.
Many of us hoped that when Nahas Pasha and the Wafdi returned to power, this would lead to an era of better understanding, and that as he was the Prime Minister with whom we negotiated this Treaty, we might be able to revise the Treaty on some more practical footing. Our hopes were disappointed. That may be due to the fact that there is now a new strong man in Egypt. The Minister of Finance and of the Interior, Sirag el Din, is now the strong man behind the scenes, who is forcing the pace in relation to us.
What, first of all, is Egypt's claim to the Sudan? I do not wish to go into its long history, but it is essential to realise exactly how far Egypt's claim to the Sudan can be substantiated in history. It dates back to 1821, when Mehemet-Ali sent his son to conquer the Sudan, and the Sudan under Egyptian rule became so notorious for the slave trade that European opinion was inflamed on this subject and Ismail Pasha, who became Khedive in 1863, decided that something must be done to allay European anxiety about the slave trade under Egyptian rule in the Sudan.
He appointed General Gordon as Governor of the Equatorial Provinces of the Sudan in 1874. General Gordon spent two years trying to clear up the slave trade that existed, without much success. It was not until he was made Governor-General in 1877 and spent two years as Governor-General of the Sudan that some progress was made in suppressing the slave trade in the Sudan. After General Gordon's resignation in 1879, the Sudan quickly relapsed under the conditions of Khedival rule into a state of slave trading and the whole situation disintegrated after the rising of Arabi Pasha in Egypt in 1882.
The Mahdi set upon the Egyptian garrison in the Sudan and the rising of the Mahdi occurred. The House will be familiar with the circumstances in which Mr. Gladstone's Government sent General Gordon to the Sudan in an attempt to evacuate the Egyptian garrisons there. Gordon was not the best man to evacuate anything and we all know the tragic cir- 1232 cumstances in which he was assassinated two days before help arrived from Egypt.
I have mentioned these facts because I think that they are not known generally to the public and that Egypt's claim on the Sudan dates from a very short time ago. Her rule in the Sudan ended when the condominium was established in 1899 after Kitchener reconquered the Sudan. Her record of rule was exceptionally bad and since the condominium the Sudan has prospered particularly under the British influence in the rule.
I was delighted to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) which, I felt, showed a real understanding of the problems in Egypt and the Sudan. He pointed to the situation developing there where we have the rival parties of the Ashigga, who want union with Egypt, and the Umma who want independence for the Sudan eventually but are quite happy for this to work itself out under British protection. There is a religious element in this which it is important to note. There are rival religious sects in the Sudan. There is the religious sect headed by Sayed Sir Ali al Mirghani, head of the Miranist sect, and the sect led by Sayed Sir Rahman al Mahdi, a posthumous son of the Mahdi by a woman from the West, a Haussa woman. Mirghani says, "I am no politician": but he has been working in with the Egyptians. Sayed Sir Rahman al Mahdi is in favour of independence for the Sudan, under British guidance. I was very glad to hear that the authorities in the Sudan have undertaken the rebuilding of the tomb of the Mahdi which was destroyed and which Kitchener forbade to be rebuilt.
I hope that I have said enough to make it clear that we cannot in this House agree to the Sudan being handed over to Egypt. I think that it should be said quite unequivocally to the Foreign Secretary of Egypt that discussion on the Sudan is out, and that the terms of the 1936 Treaty, which were worded as carefully as possible to meet the other point of Egyptian nationalism which has been raised, must in substance be maintained. If they want another Treaty embodying precisely the same conditions, for the sake of having a new Treaty signed in 1950 as opposed to 1936, then I suppose that is permissible.
In conclusion, I should like to take up in this matter of the Middle East a point 1233 made by the Foreign Secretary. He rather poured cold water on what he described as old-fashioned ideas of spheres of influence. The Middle East has been predominantly for many years a sphere of British influence. In a world which still recognises the existence of Great Powers and the existence of great blocks of Powers within the framework of the United Nations organisation, it is important to realise that the solidarity of the United Nations can be maintained and resistance to Communist aggression effectively prosecuted only if these Great Powers within it are effective Great Powers. It is no use being a sham Great Power.
I know that there are these new forces of nationalism which resent any suggestion of the days of Cromer, when indeed we did great things for Egypt. I remember as a young Member coming into this House and hearing an elderly gentleman talking about the Assuan dam. I said to my neghbour "What does he know about it"? He replied "He built it, so he ought to know." We did things like that for Egypt, and improved the whole standard of life for the Egyptians. I think that we have nothing to be ashamed of in our record in Egypt.
We had our part to play in the world as a Great Power, and we could not have played that part without being a powerful State. We have only to consider what would have happened in 1940 if Britain had not been a Great Power, with bases built up through the centuries in Malta, Gibraltar, Egypt and elsewhere. What would have happened then? All the barriers were down—Austria had gone, Czechoslovakia had gone, Norway had gone, Poland had gone, Belgium had gone, Holland had gone, France had gone and nothing remained between Hitler and the domination of civilisation but the English Channel, with Britain on the far side as a citadel of a large overseas Empire built up throughout the centuries.
I do not say we have never abused our power. It is inevitable, where a nation is ruling a quarter of the races of the world, that there will be abuse in some spot by some individual, but I am confident that, by and large, we have used our power in the interest of humanity. I am certain that if we are to continue effectively to play our part, we must retain our sphere of influence in the Middle East. The Suez 1234 Canal is to us what the Panama Canal is to America. If I were in the position of Foreign Secretary, I should not hesitate to declare a Monroe doctrine for the Middle East, making it clear that we intend to maintain a position of strength in that area, without which we cannot make an effective contribution to world security.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
I hope that the hon. Member for Paddington, South (Mr. de Chair), will not think me discourteous if I do not follow him in his interesting discussion on Egypt and the Middle East affairs, a subject upon which he speaks with such expertness. I agree with all he has said about the Sudan. I should view with some apprehension the extension of the power of the present Egyptian Administration to any other part of the world than that which is at present subjected to it.
It has been clear that the trend of most of the speeches has been that we should concentrate in our discussion upon ways and means of restoring peace to the world. There are plenty of opportunities available to spread the war and to increase the sources of dispute that exist, but we shall do no service to peace by adding to them in the course of the debate. I should like to make some observations upon the extremely critical situation that exists in Korea, which calls for energic diplomatic intervention by His Majesty's Government. I hope very much that the great discretion shown by the Foreign Secretary in the few observations that he made upon the immediate situation in Korea is a cover for energetic diplomatic action by himself and the Foreign Office.
My view is that the present situation in Korea provides this country with a real opportunity to perform the role of honest broker. It is true that we are committed to and associated with America in most aspects of our foreign affairs. But we are a sovereign State and not a satellite State. We have our responsibilities to our troops in Korea; we have in no way abrogated them by placing our troops under the flag of the United Nations. I say, quite frankly, to our American friends that I and many people in this country have grave anxieties about the conduct of American diplomacy in the Far East and the exercise of American military power. The result of the way in which American diplomacy has been con- 1235 ducted in recent months has, unfortunately, been to cause the Far Eastern countries to view all we do, and particularly what the Americans do, with the gravest suspicion.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
The hon. Member can say it is "monstrous," but that is my sincere view, and I crave leave to say it. There is no point, in these matters, in saying these things privately. It is right that they should be said in the House, if I, as a responsible Member, believe them to be true. The hon. Member will have a chance, if he is fortunate enough to be called, to put forward a differing view.
We must face the fact that India has more than once warned us that in dealing with the people of Asia, we must show more appreciation of the situation that exists in Asia; that American policy towards Formosa, for instance, means support for a backward and corrupt régime, and an effort to re-establish such discredited and completely unrepresentative figures as Chiang Kai-shek. We should note the anxieties which have been expressed by Pandit Nehru. I hope that my right hon. Friends will pay due regard to what Pandit Nehru says, that in the Far East the Western diplomats "are extraordinarily lacking in any approach to mind and heart and, therefore, they fail."
The fact is that the people of Asia are watching, very carefully indeed, every move we make in Korea at this time. Unfortunately, the Americans have more than once made a false move in the Far East in the course of this year. There was the action in regard to Formosa, which was quite contrary to British policy and the ends we desire to promote. Again, the action of General MacArthur in going to Formosa to have milit[...]ry discussions with Chiang Kai-shek filled us with alarm. It was not part of British policy that Formosa should be drawn into the field of conflict. Our policy has been the neutralisation of Formosa. If the Americans really want 100 per cent. collaboration in the matter, then that collaboration must be two-sided.
Within the last day or two, the American Government have taken the 1236 appallingly grave step, in my view, of indicting China, at this stage, of being guilty of open and notorious aggression in Korea. I was very glad to find that my right hon. Friend was non-committal upon that matter today, and that he held out the real possibility, which, happily, still exists, that the intervention of China is for limited purposes and will be in a limited area. I earnestly hope that the view taken by the Americans about the character of Chinese intervention is wrong. I think it is extremely dangerous that it should have been uttered, and that America should have committed herself to that view at this stage. I should like to know whether the British Government were consulted by the Americans before they took this grave step. If we are to move and work together on these matters, there must be frankness between us. My fear is that this pronouncement was a unilateral action with which we were not associated or consulted, which is no way to conduct an alliance. It is right that we should remind the Americans of that fact.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
The hon. Member has characterised China's action as "intervention." In what capacity does he think China has entered Korea, or Tibet, other than that of aggressor?
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
My hope is that the attack of China upon North Korea was actuated by anxiety for the safety of her frontiers, and for the safety of her power installations on the Yalu River, which provides power for the basic industries and economic life of Manchuria, and not for purposes of aggression, and that it will be limited. I desperately hope that this is so, because if it is not—
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
Is the hon. Gentleman confirmed in that view by the Chinese action and attack in Indo-China and Tibet?
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I do not want to go into the whole field of the Far East at the moment. But His Majesty's Government must have thought that the Chinese authorities had reason to fear the motives for our action in Northern Korea for my right hon. Friend took the step of re-assuring Peking that we had no aggressive intentions against Chinese territory. That assurance was presumably given because he knew perfectly well that 1237 the Chinese feared and doubted our motives and that our actions could give cause for anxiety. Events, unfortunately, in the last few days have proved that the advance of the U.N. Forces beyond what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) described as the wasp waist line of Korea, has proved to be a military and political disaster. There was no need to advance beyond it. It involved us in a military situation of a completely untenable character. We substituted, for defending a strategic line of 150 miles, an impossible military task of policing a mountainous front of 450 miles.
A grave danger, as I see it, is that the American State Department has now become the prisoner of its propaganda. When the American people are constantly told that it is useless to negotiate with the Russians or with their associates until the military strength of the Western world approximates to theirs, the American State Department find it hard to initiate talks at all. Yet talks must begin. The plain military fact about Korea is that China is able to send unlimited reinforcements there, and if the Americans commit themselves fully then the war could go on indefinitely.
As I see it, there are two courses—and two courses only— open to us now with regard to Chinese intervention in Korea. The first is an ultimatum to China, the second is negotiation with China. There are no alternatives to those two courses. An ultimatum to China might well involve us in a world war. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson), contemplates that seriously, or that it is contemplated by other hon. Members of this House. The truth is that for negotiations to begin now is imperative. China must be brought into the deliberations upon the great questions of the Far East. Unless China is brought in there can be no stability and no settlement of any of the questions that trouble the world so much in those parts.
Happily, thanks to the intervention of His Majesty's Government, negotiations are now possible. We have got the whole of the vast apparatus of diplomacy in existence: let us use it. The Chinese delegation is now in America. They are authorised to speak for China and the Chinese Government and to discuss Korea 1238 and Formosa. In Heaven's name, let us get on to talking and discussing the possibilities with them. There is now a possibility of preventing the outbreak of a world war, which is imminent unless immediate diplomatic action is taken.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I think the hon. Gentleman said that the Chinese delegation which is in America is authorised to discuss Formosa and Korea. I understood that the Chinese delegation said that they were not ready to discuss Korea but only Formosa.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
So far as the proceedings before the Security Council and the Assembly are concerned, that is so. They are, however, delegates of their Government and they are people of responsible positions in the People's Government of China. They are people with whom contact and communications can be made. It is, I think, very unfortunate that the efforts of His Majesty's Government to bring China into the Security Council have failed. There would then have been opportunities for more contact and exchanges. But a possibility of discussions now exists. The die is not cast; the war between America and China and ourselves and China has not begun and, imperatively, we must prevent it, as I think it can be prevented.
I do not believe that the people of China want war. I believe the dangers that confront them, if the war is to be continued, are appallingly grave—and they have had decades of it. Surely they have had enough. I submit there is a real prospect of success if an approach is made to the Chinese authorities upon such lines as these—the withdrawal to the waist line in Korea; the holding of the waist line; the demilitarisation of the territory of North Korea north of that line; the bringing of China into the Security Council: and an invitation to China to join in supervision of the elections in North Korea. At any rate, the effort must be made.
The alternative is an inevitable drift to war. I hope there will be a firm refusal by His Majesty's Government to countenance suggestions coming from some American Senators and Congressmen that we should start, not only the bombing of bases in Manchuria, but atom bombing bases in Manchuria. I hope that this Government will not contemplate any such appalling suggestions.
1239 There is another aspect of contemporary world affairs to which I should like to turn for a short time—the question of the rearmament of the Germans. That, again, is a step of solemn gravity, which can have the most profound consequence upon international relations. It is imperative that we should not rush into it blindly. The American, General Telford Taylor, has said that too much of the discussion in America on German rearmament reflects "a reckless clutching for an immediate solution." That is a dangerous mood in which to approach a problem which is full of danger and complexity. I was glad to hear today that the concessions made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington to the clamour for rearming the Germans has been hedged around with a great many conditions and limitations.
Despite the conditions that they have suggested, there is a danger of clouding the difficult issues involved in the rearmament of Germany by talking of it in terms of a German contribution to a European army or German participation in an integrated force. The fact is that no European army at present exists, and we have not been told what kind of contribution the Germans are to make to these integrated forces. My own view is that the process of establishing a Western European army with unified command will be tricky enough without the additional complications of German participation.
We shall also avoid reality if we imagine that the restriction of the proposed German force to infantry divisions, as some who speak on this matter suggest, will protect Western Europe against a resurgence of German militarism. Once we allow German infantry divisions to re-form we shall have restored a tradition and revived a process which will advance under its own momentum. Once the German infantry starts to march and to goose-step once more, it will soon march with tanks and panzers. Once panzers start to move there will be a powerful and clamant demand for the Luftwaffe. We shall have the Luftwaffe once again—and the very mention of that prospect in this rebuilt Chamber seems to me to be near blasphemy. That is what the process of re-militarisation may involve, 1240 and those are the steps which may lie ahead if we take the fateful initial step. My fear is that we will no more be able to enforce a predetermined limitation of the number of German divisions, or prohibitions against tanks and planes, than we have been able to maintain the dismantling programme and the steel production quotas.
The object, as I see it, of our rearmament programme is to safeguard peace and to discourage any potential attack upon us. We, in this country, repudiate the whole conception of preventive war, but we also, on this side of the House at any rate, repudiate the view that war is inevitable and that now it is merely a question of building up forces as quickly as we can to meet a conflict that is unavoidable and is bound to occur. My anxiety with regard to the rearming of Germany is not only the possibility which, at the moment, is admittedly somewhat theoretical, that under reactionary leadership she might again become a threat to her neighbours, but the greater immediate danger that a rearmed Germany would use her power and influence to precipitate an armed struggle between East and West which it must be our solemn duty to avoid at all possible cost.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
Before the hon. Member leaves that point may I ask whether he is unable to differentiate between the rearmament of Germany and a German contribution in troops to a European army officered by European officers other than Germans?
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
I am obliged for that intervention. I thought that I had already dealt with that matter in an earlier part of my speech. The fact is that there is no such European army. We will deceive ourselves if we think that it will arise in the near future. It is much better to be frank and honest with ourselves and to face the question of German rearmament fairly and squarely. The German military leaders being what they are, that rearmament will not come in a piece-meal and limited way. They are making and laying down their condition—that they shall come in as a sovereign State and that the officers shall be German officers. Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman, really thinking that the German military chiefs are prepared to come in on our terms in this matter? They 1241 are not. They have made it abundantly clear in more ways than one that they would not come in as a foreign legion or as mercenaries.
Unfortunately, there is a danger that a Germany armed will add to the political dynamite that is already sufficiently powerful to blow up the world. For instance, there is the problem of the frontiers between East and West. Not all of us may agree with the Oder-Neisse line. Some may think that it was unfortunate that those frontiers were decided. But the fact remains that they cannot now be altered without war. They are no longer open to negotiation. No Pole will surrender an inch of that land, whether he be a Warsaw Pole or a Pole in exile in London. The Poles are united on that matter. If now we throw into an already overcharged political situation the whole problem of Western Germany's demand for Eastern territories, which demand she will be clamant in pressing, we will indeed add to the dynamite of the international situation.
I have seen some of those territories of Western Poland. I have travelled through them. The Poles have resettled five million people there. Farms have been cultivated, and industries are in full production. The Poles are there to stay, and the sooner our friends in Germany make up their minds that that is so the more chance there will be of avoiding a world conflagration in which, once more, Germany would suffer as much as anyone else.
In this matter of German rearmament we must make it abundantly clear to our American friends that we are not allies of America because we want war with Russia, but because we want peace and security against aggression. Some Americans, unfortunately, in their recent speeches in the Senate, seem to be losing sight of that fact. The final irrevocable decision on the rearmament of Germany has not yet been made. I liked the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington that a commission should be appointed in which Russia and ourselves could participate, to examine the extent of the German rearmament which has already taken place in East and West Germany. Nothing irrevocable has yet been done. It would be easy for Russia to disband the Bereitschaften. It would be easy for us to put 1242 an end to the process of creating a centralised, militarised police force in Western Germany which, in any event, conjures up in the minds of many Germans the possibility of the restoration of the S.S. force in Germany. There again, the die in Germany is not cast and the final fateful steps that might lead to war have not been taken.
I implore my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to start negotiating on these great problems now. Ultimately, negotiation with the East has to take place, Let it take place now. If we have a war, then, when the atom bombs have been dropped, and life has been burnt out of the children of China, and men have been maimed and women killed, we have still to get down to talking and negotiating how we can come to terms. War solves nothing. These are platitudes, but they need to be restated by us. In this grave situation I implore my right hon. Friend not to allow a drift to war to take place. No irrevocable steps have been taken yet. Peace can still be saved.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Donner (Basingstoke)
We are all entitled in this House to speak our minds, but considering that the United States are carrying the burden in Korea and suffering the bulk of the casualties, I am bound to say that I thought the repeated criticisms of United States policy in the Far East in the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones), were ill-timed, unwise and ungracious. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish."] The Foreign Secretary referred to the possibility of negotiating with the Russians at the present time. As we all desire peace, we naturally long for an accommodation with Russia, if it can be found. But I believe that negotiations are more likely to succeed if they are based upon actual and not merely upon potential Western military strength, and if, in addition, Soviet Russia were to realise that any attempt at world domination by force must fail. We are very far from that position today and it is that consideration which adds urgency to the rearmament programme.
§ Mr. Daines (East Ham, North) rose—
§ Mr. Donner
If the hon. Member will forgive me, I have promised not to take too much time and I cannot give way.
§ Mr. Donner
I think there should be general agreement in this House that the problem of coming to some accommodation with Russia is far more intractable than some people assume. We are confronted not only with a combination—and a dangerous combination—of the old Russian expansionism allied to the new Communist doctrine of world domination. There is much more in it than that, tough as that is by itself. Even on the assumption—and to my mind it is a colossal assumption—of Russian good faith, whatever agreements are made with Russia there are likely to be subsequent differences of interpretation. That is true whether Russia is governed by a Communist dictatorship or by some other form of government in the future. This is what happened after Yalta, this is what happened at San Francisco, this is what happened after Potsdam and in Berlin, and will continue to happen. It is a difficulty which need not baffle but must continue to test Western statesmanship and patience for years to come. Let me try to say why I believe this to be inevitable.
§ Mr. Donner
The truth is that the Russian mind is astronomically different from our mind. We have had experience in the Empire of the Oriental mind, but the Russian mind is a thing apart. We in the West think in terms of ideas and of principles, but the Russians think in terms of images. For centuries untold millions of Russians have been content to express themselves through the media of music, dancing and painting, and it is deeply significant that until Poushkin, who did not write until as late as 1820 to 1837, the Russians found little need to express themselves in any other way. It follows that in a matter of hours after the signing of any international treaty by a Russian Government the mental images, in terms of which they think, begin to cut across the Western principles enshrined in that agreement and, before you know where you are, there are differences of interpretation.
I believe that is an inescapable difficulty when dealing with Russia, and I believe that difficulty is enhanced by the imposition on the Russian mind of the 1244 Communist doctrine, for in that doctrine truth is of no importance. It is not even of any interest. It is essential for us to realise that if and when we do open negotiations with Russia success or failure may well depend upon the extent of our understanding of the Russian mind. If, despite every effort and all our prayers, Soviet Russia, or her cats-paws, plunge the world into another war, it will be no less important for all of us to understand the Russian mind on the battlefield. It is already weeks ago since the Press reported some Americans' surprise at Soviet-inspired North Korean tactics, which shows that in the military sphere, no less than in the diplomatic sphere, it is important to comprehend the workings of the Russian mind. The lesson and the moral have not been learned here, nor in Korea, nor, it is to be feared, at Fontainbleau either.
Nor should we under-rate the Soviet difficulty in understanding Western Christendom. It is possible—and I do not put it higher than that—that to this day the rulers of Russia have never understood the reasons for the American and United Nations intervention in Korea, because that intervention was based on ideas and principles utterly alien to Russian thinking. The Russians respect one thing only and that is military strength, and that is the reason why I welcomed the announcement of the Government that they intended to suspend the shipment of Centurion tanks to Egypt. But I contend that it is not enough for the Government to announce the suspension of the shipment of some of our latest tanks to Egypt until the Egyptian Government's attitude to the 1936 Treaty has been clarified. When the whole of the civilised world is beset by danger and could be plunged into war, not only through Communist design or intention, but through an unforeseen but fatal incident which could happen at any time in Persia, in Berlin, on the frontiers of Yugoslavia, or elsewhere, what in these conditions should be the principle which should govern our policy in this whole matter?
Surely it is that no jet aircraft, none of our latest tanks, no ships of war. none of our new military equipment should be exported to any foreign country until our own requirements have been fulfilled, and the requirements also of the Atlantic Powers. Of course, it is undesirable that 1245 contracts with a foreign Power should be broken, but the answer to that objection is that those contracts should not have been made in existing circumstances nor until we had, in the words of the Minister of Defence, on 26th July,put ourselves in a position where we can, with reasonable hope of success, resist aggression. …"[OFFICIAL REPCRT, 26th July, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 471.]How far we are today from that measure of security hon. Members can conjecture, but only the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to know. At Oxford, on 24th November, the Minister of Defence said:I repudiate emphatically any idea that we in the United Kingdom are not putting our backs into defence.I should like to ask the Government for an assurance that our own needs shall be put first, and all the time, and that the Government will not be content merely to continue their present policy of putting their backs into other people's defence; of putting their backs into the defence of Argentina—which has not hesitated to violate British territorial sovereignty—of putting our backs into the defence of Egypt and of putting our backs into the defence of Russia, the only country from which, in the words of the Minister of Defence, "an act of aggression might possibly come."
The essence of the charge I feel I must make against the Government tonight is that at the time when we are supposed to be rearming, this Government has been impoverishing and weakening our defences by selling to Egypt some of our latest tanks and some of our frigates on which we depend for the safety of the Merchant Navy, and that before rearmament got under way this Government sold machine tools and jet engines to a potential enemy, to a country which, on their own admission, they knew was hostile.
§ Mr. Harold Davies rose—
§ Mr. Donner
I am sorry, I cannot give way. In the case of the jet engine, the Government sold a British invention which revolutionised aerial warfare and they did so in a situation where possible and foreseeable circumstances were inimical either to peace or to British interests, or both. When challenged on this matter, they always give the same reply—that they will not do it again.
1246 I will take the Egyptian case first. On 14th November the Secretary of State for War assured me, in answer to a Question, that the production of Centurion tanks would be doubled. But surely the value of that assurance was vitiated when the Government admitted, on 22nd November, that they had contracted to export part of our very small production, part of our strictly limited production of Centurion tanks, to a foreign country. That fact alone makes nonsense of all professions on the part of the Government that they have any sense of urgency in relation to the rearmament programme. The Government actually proposed the export of Centurion tanks in circumstances in which Members on both sides of the House believe that they could constitute a threat to our own troops in the Canal Zone, or alternatively might endanger the defence of the Middle East.
On 22nd November, the same day, the Minister of Defence said in reply to a Question of mine:the object of increasing tank production is to ensure that our own and friendly forces are fully equipped."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 45.]If that is so, how do the Government justify the exporting of tanks to Egypt at the very time when there is doubt whether the Egyptian Government intend to fulfil the terms of the 1936 Treaty or not; and when, as a result of rabid anti-British propaganda, English people, including women, are spat on in the streets of Cairo?
The Government have sold frigates to Egypt. I wonder how many Members are aware that by doing that they have doubled the size of the Egyptian Navy. In the short space of one year, the Government have, I am informed, sold no fewer than seven frigates to Egypt, including H.M.S. "Whimbrel" of the same class as those which the Duke of Edinburgh commands, and H.M.S. "Nith," "Spey," "Usk," "Mallow," "Mendip" and "Cottesmore." These include two of our fastest frigates, capable of 27½ knots. The Government claim that they are putting their backs into defence. In fact, they have been selling our latest tanks and some of our fastest frigates. In the first six months of this year they sold 396 machine tools worth nearly £1 million to Russia. What else have they sold, what else are they selling and what else do they propose to sell that the public 1247 do not happen to have found out and have not yet discovered?
Hon. Members will recall that in September, 1939, we were gravely anxious about the security and safety of the Merchant Marine because Germany possessed at that time 30 submarines. It is believed that the Russians today have between 250 and 300 submarines. We cannot assume that these are incompetently manned, because, although it is true that the Russians have never been efficient at sea, those submarines may be manned by Germans from Eastern Germany. If we bear in mind the postwar developments which have increased the speed, the range and the effectiveness of submarines, how can the Government justify the sale of frigates and the weakening of the Royal Navy now, when it is on our destroyers and frigates that the safety of our essential imports depends, and upon which the life and survival of this country depend?
On 26th July, the Minister of Defence described the aims and hopes of the Labour Government from 1945 onwards, and said:it was not long before unmistakable trends proved that our expectations were to he falsified. Instead of a period of peace we were confronted with what is described as the 'cold war.' …As these unmistakable trends developed, situations claiming the Government's attention arose, and every one of those situations arose from Soviet action and from Soviet hostility. Yet the burden of the speech of the Minister of Defence was that the Government were not only conscious of that hostility but that the Government had to cope with the consequences of Russian hostility and the cold war.
All along it was claimed that the Government were aware of what they were up against. Yet what, in those circumstances, did they do? They sold the British invention of the Rolls Royce Nene jet engine to the only quarter from which, in the words of the Minister of Defence, "aggression might possibly come." On 26th July, the Minister of Defence said:it is our purpose to show here and now that aggression does not, and cannot, pay."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1950; Vol. 478. c. 470–473]Was that the policy in 1945 and after 1945? If so, how do the Government 1248 justify the inconsistency of selling the jet engine, which revolutionised aerial war-ware, to Russia, the only country "from which aggression might come?" In the same speech the Minister of Defence said that the introduction of jet engines into the R.A.F. involved what amounted to a complete revolution in operational training and maintenance. That is perfectly true. So the Government, who boast that they were cognisant all along of Russian hostility, decided to present as a gift to Russia the invaluable knowledge which only actual experience could provide of how to revolutionise operational training and maintenance.
Five times in the last Parliament I raised the matter of the sale of the Rolls Royce Nene jet engine—on 22nd November, 1948, and 6th December, 1948, and on 7th, 21st and 23rd February, 1949. I asked the Minister of Supply whether he could deny that by selling that jet engine to Soviet Russia he had saved the Soviet years of research. I received no answer. That was hardly surprising because officers in the R.A.F. and others in a position to know had assured me that that sale had saved the Russians 15 years of research.
I asked the Minister of Supply how he could justify that sale. He replied that the engine had been taken off the secret list and put on the open list, and that to have refused a licence would have been contrary to the export policy of that time. But these were Government decisions and the Government are and remain responsible for them. On 5th December, 1948, I asked the Minister of Supply why he thought it was his duty to facilitate Russian rearmament. I got no reply. On 15th February, 1949, I asked whether the Dominions had been consulted or whether the right hon. Gentleman had been in too great a hurry to facilitate Russian rearmament. Again, I got no reply. When I put down the Question yet again on the 23rd February, I was informed that the Dominions had never been consulted.
§ Mr. Donner
I am using notes to try to save the time of the House. [Laughter.]
I come to my last observations—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—if the man- 1249 ners, or should I say the "Party Manners," of the Labour Party will allow it.
For centuries the Channel has been a shelter, a protection and a shield for our people against many of the harder facts of life which people in other parts of the world have repeatedly had to suffer. In spite of the behaviour of hon. Members opposite tonight, I still believe that English people have, as a result, become kindlier, more liberal, more Christian and more civilised than many others. But the corollary is also true that in the sphere of international affairs our people lag in comprehension. There is, therefore, a very special obligation upon every Government in this country to secure the safety of our people, because our people are unique and can make a unique contribution to the world.
Yet, in those circumstances what is it that the Government did? They sold these jet engines to our only possible enemy. As a result, we now read that in Korea Russian jet fighters are as fast, if not faster, than British and American jet fighters. The point which I think should be emphasised is that, but for the sale of those engines by this Government to Russia, Russia today would not be in a position to contemplate war against anyone.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
The hon. Member has suggested that if Russia had not been provided with certain war equipment from this country, and probably from other countries, she would not have been in the position in which she is today. Would he agree that that applies mainly in regard to the equipment with which she was provided during the war from America and ourselves, but not by this Government?
§ Mr. Donner
No, not at all. The sales to which I referred were the sales which took place in September, 1946, and March, 1947. They were the sales of the Rolls Royce Nene jet engine and the Rolls Royce Derwent V jet engine—an invention which revolutionised aerial warfare. That was my point. [Interruption.] It is really no good the Secretary of State for War saying that that is completely untrue. Those are the facts.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Strachey)
I was commenting on the suggestion that these engines revolutionised the Russian position. Their sale took place after consultation with the Air Staff and because the Air Staff had taken them off 1250 the secret list and put them on the open list. It is a complete misrepresentation to say that the Russians did not possess jet engines which, in the opinion of our expert advisers, put them in a position where these engines could give them little information which they had not then got.
§ Mr. Donner
The right hon. Gentleman did not listen to what I said. The Government excuse at the time was precisely that. They said that they had taken them off the secret list in the normal way and put them on the open list. That was a Government decision for which the Government must bear responsibility. I said that all the officers in the Royal Air Force who were in a position to know—
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. Member should withdraw the statement that all the responsible officers in the Royal Air Force were against that decision.
§ Mr. Donner
I did not say that. The right hon. Gentleman intervened before I had time to finish my sentence. I was about to say that the officers in the R.A.F. who were in a position to know and whom I consulted on this matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "All the officers."]—all the ones I consulted; and they were in a position to know. I will not give names so that the people concerned can be victimised. All, including those connected with design, gave as their individual opinion, which tallied one with another, that Russia had been saved 15 years of research. That is why I say—and I will not withdraw—that if ever a day dawns or a night falls when this country is bombarded by Russian jet bombers, the people of this country will have this Government to thank for that.
I apologise to the House for introducing a controversial note into this debate, but my justification is that I believe that our lives and, more important, the lives of our children, depend upon speedy rearmament now. I do not believe, in view of the record of this Government, that they either intend or are capable of carrying out that process. That is why I believe that the deep and enduring interests of this country demand that this Government should resign and make way for one which will, before it is too late, step up both the pace and the scale of rearmament, in order not only to ensure our own safety but to augment our influence in the councils of the world, 1251 and to work in the closest harmony with the United States of America.
I believe that the follies, the errors and the mistakes which we have experienced during the life of this Government are due to lack of grip at the top, a lack of direction from the top, lack of co-ordination between Ministers and Ministers and between Departments and Departments. As a result, Ministers have, however inadvertently and however unintentionally, betrayed the interests and the safety of these islands.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Mikardo (Reading, South)
I do not propose to comment on the competently read observations of the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Donner), because it seems to me that an hon. Member who is so obviously reluctant to give way and be questioned on his views, and who makes dogmatic statements based on strictly anonymous sources, demonstrates by these actions that he has so little confidence in his own arguments that they are not worthy of comment by anyone else.
This debate began with a speech from the Foreign Secretary, which has justly been the subject of commendation from both sides of the House. Many hon. Members have held the view, and continue to hold the view, that it was perhaps the best and most heartening speech which we have heard my right hon. Friend make for a very long time. It would be disappointing if, in the rest of the country and throughout the world, that speech did not have the same heartening effect as it has had in this House today, because, of course, it was a speech, as all such speeches on all such occasions are, made not merely to the House, but to the whole country and to listening peoples all over the world. If it comes about that those peoples all over the world do not understand it as clearly as we have understood it today, and will not be heartened by it as vividly as we today have been heartened by it, that will possibly be because the people in other parts of the world find it a little difficult to understand how it comes about that, in the field of international relations, words and deeds so often do not march side by side. This is true, broadly speaking, of the words and the deeds of the statesmen of all the nations of the world.
1252 Considering the two opening speeches today, that of the Foreign Secretary and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), if we were to take everything they said at its face value I think it would be true to say that hon. Members on both sides would agree with more than 90 per cent. of the speeches both of their own leader and the leader on the other side of the House. But what we want to know is how much we can rely on the words of those leaders on the Front Benches. People outside do not always know that, and I am concerned about the confusion which we cause, and which every Government and every Parliamentary institution in the world causes, in the minds of the men and women in the street by this constant disparity between word and deed.
May I instance three fields of problems in contemporary international affairs about which this condition may well be said at this moment to apply? The first of them is this: I think that all of us were cheered by what the Foreign Secretary said about his approach, and the approach of our American and French friends, to the idea of a new four-Power conference. I think we were all encouraged and were all pleased by this statement that, while he was not able to accept the Russian proposals as a basis for negotiation, he was not going to return a blank negative answer, but, instead, was taking steps at Paris next week to see what sort of alternative constructive answer he could put forward.
There will be many people who will not be able to reconcile this constructive and hopeful attitude and action of the Foreign Secretary with what he said, and with what it is feared we are about to do, in respect of the rearming of Western Germany, because most people understand that whoever rearms Germany, whether on the one side or the other, indicates by that action that he has given up all hope of peace in Europe, and, instead, is proposing to devote himself to preparing himself, as best he can, for a war which he believes to be unavoidable. That really is so, because whoever rearms Germany is creating, right across the middle of Europe, a permanent armed frontier that, sooner or later, one side or the other is bound to violate. That is why the arming of Germany is in itself 1253 a gesture of hopelessness, a gesture of the abandonment of the hope of continuing peace.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
Why should not the creation of much larger armies behind the Iron Curtain also be an offensive declaration?
§ Mr. Mikardo
Because, so long as Germany is not armed, Germany is a space—goodness knows, a space is not much protection, but it is better than nothing—between the armies of the West and those of the East. If such armies are cheek by jowl across a frontier, the danger always exists that someone will violate that frontier. Moreover, why should two sides—and believe me I am quite impartial about this; I do not exonerate either of them in the very least, because neither is to be exonerated—take armies, consisting, inevitably of mercenary troops, right up to each other unless they really believe that one day those armies are going to fight?
§ Mr. Watkinson (Woking)
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I think he has answered the point I had in mind, but I should like to be quite certain. Is he referring equally to Eastern Germany?
§ Mr. Mikardo
Of course; how could anyone do otherwise?
I was delighted to hear the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington put forward his proposal, which seemed a sensible proposal, for a four-Power commission to examine all such rearmament.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
It it arguable, and personally I believe it to be so, that Eastern Germany has already been rearmed to a considerable extent. If that be so, would the hon. Gentleman tell us whether he believes that Western Germany should be left as a vacuum, or whether it should be armed as well?
§ Mr. Mikardo
Quite frankly, I prefer the observations of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington to those of the hon. and gallant Gentleman behind him. What he said was that we in the West say that the Russians have armed Eastern Germany to the teeth and that the Germans in the East say that we have armed the Germans in the West. 1254 Let us have a four-Power commission to see who is telling the truth and who is telling lies. I do not profess to know what has happened in Eastern Germany. I should not be surprised to find that the Russians have done a great deal by way of rearmament in Eastern Germany, but I do not know. I should like to have a commission, such as the right hon. Gentleman asks for today, to tell us the truth about what goes on in both East and West.
If I have spoken strongly on this point it is because I feel strongly about it. I feel that the real division of the world today is not one between Left and Right, between East and West, between Europe and Asia, between those who want war and those who do not—because, except for a few lunatics, there is no one in any country who wants war—but between those people who accept the fact that a third world war is inevitable and those who refuse to accept that fact.
If one believes in the inevitability of war, one unwittingly makes one's own forecast come true. What one does when one believes in the inevitability of war is to devote oneself. not to the nth degree to try and get discussions and negotiations, whatever the discouragements, but to defeating the other fellow in a cold war, militarily, politically, economically, and in the field of propaganda, and, by doing that, one creates the very situation which has, in itself, a pre-disposition to the war which one has forecast and believes to be inevitable.
The dangerous people in the world are not the warmongers, because they are fe[...] and are lunatic. The dangerous people in the world are those people—and they are many and often wellmeaning—who are busy making war inevitable by believing it to be inevitable. One can will things. At the time of Dunkirk, when all the odds looked incredibly against victory for this country, our people willed themselves to victory by a passionate belief in victory. I believe that they are now ready, if given the right leadership, to will themselves to permanent peace, by a passionate disbelief in the inevitability of war. It is that leadership we have to give them.
The second of the three fields I want to mention, in which sometimes our actions do not seem to tie up with the excellent things said from the Front 1255 Benches today, is in respect of the Near East. We welcome what the Foreign Secretary said about the Three-Power Declaration and other measures put forward for the pacification of the Middle East. But, as already pointed out in the debate today, that does not seem to be at all consistent with the way we have been supplying arms to some powers in the Middle East; nor does it seem to be consistent with our failure to use any influence over our satellite State of Jordan to get that country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
I believe peace in the Middle East could he guaranteed by adding to the Anglo-Jordan Treaty two other sides of the triangle, a Jordan-Israel treaty and an Anglo-Israel treaty. I believe that, if we did that, we should have a three-sided, firm foundation for peace in the Middle East. But, of course, that depends upon the concurrence of Jordan, and it is really nonsense to pretend that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary could not get that beginning of three-way treaty established in a fortnight, if he wanted it. The Kingdom of Jordan is entirely dependent for its existence upon the subvention it gets from the British Treasury. If we stop that subvention then, by a geographical miracle, we should have the Kingdom of Jordan in Carey-street in a few months. They depend entirely upon us, and, since they depend upon us, we should be able to use our influence to ensure the forming of this tripartite basis of peace in the Middle East. The fact that we do not, seems to the ordinary man very difficult to reconcile with the fine words the Foreign Secretary uttered today.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
With regard to the Israel-Jordan situation, if it is desirable, as the hon. Member argues, that His Majesty's Government should try to arrange a pact with Israel, the three-sided treaty he mentioned, would he not agree that one of the things which His Majesty's Government might also do is to try and persuade Israel to keep her troops on the frontier with Jordan a little more in control, and prevent them from committing some of the atrocities they have committed, even since the armistice was signed?
§ Mr. Mikardo
I just do not believe the atrocity stories which the hon. and gallant 1256 Member brings to the House from time to time. If he thinks that intervention is a contribution to the cause of peace in the Middle East, then I must ask him to think again.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
May I assure both the hon. Member and the House that I have brought forward no incidents without very carefully checking up the substantiating evidence? May I also assure the House that it is not my desire to antagonise Israel and Jordan? My desire is that there should be proper defence of the Middle East, and I believe that that can only be brought about by a proper alliance between Israel and Jordan.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am not sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has not abused the right of intervention with that last remark, which is the third one I have permitted him. I do not impugn his bona fides; I am sure he is sincere in what he says, but if there are violations or atrocities, there is a United Nations Commission to which they should have been referred. If they have not been so referred I do not think anybody can be very aggrieved about them, and I begin to wonder whether they ever happened at all.
I have been a little long on this point, because I have given way a large number of times. The third point to which I want to turn is in respect of the Chinese in Korea. We were warned earlier today that we ought to be careful about what we say about our relations with America, and, above all, in what we say that might be interpreted as a criticism of General MacArthur. But General MacArthur is the servant of the United Nations. His Majesty's Government is one of the United Nations. General MacArthur is responsible to the United Nations of which His Majesty's Government is a member, and His Majesty's Government is responsible to this House.
This House, which has refused to be silenced many times before on many grave issues, ought not to be asked to be silent in this matter. We all recognise the need for discretion, and we all recognise that Members are in a responsible position because they are privileged in what they say here, and should be careful of what they say. But that is not the same thing as saying that we have got to put upon ourselves a bridle of silence.
1257 I wonder what the Chinese really think about the disparity between words like those of the Foreign Secretary today and actions like those of the Foreign Secretary's agent—because the United Nations' agent is the Foreign Secretary's agent—in Korea itself. The Foreign Secretary gives an assurance, and so does the Secretary of State in America, that we have no aggressive intentions against the territory of China, and, of course, every one of us in this House knows those assurances to be true and valid. But what are the Chinese to think of those assurances when they see action in Korea which they find hard to reconcile with them? The Chinese are a people of an ancient wisdom, and they understand the inevitable truth that if you want to know what the conjuror is up to you have not got to listen to his patter but look at his hands. It is not what is said but what is done that matters.
What are the Chinese to think of this? A week or two back they pushed down south a bit until they got towards what the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington called the "wasp waist." Then they immediately fell back. For several days every morning we read in our newspapers about the great mystery: "Where are the Chinese? Advance patrols put out by the United Nations Forces have failed to make any contact with the enemy. The enemy has fallen right back"—not has been pushed back—"and deliberately left a wide no man's land between themselves and the United Nations Forces." Immediately they did that they proceeded to release some of their prisoners, including some American prisoners.
I am by no means an expert in foreign affairs; this is the first time I have ever spoken in a foreign affairs debate in the House, and it is the first time that I have sought to catch Mr. Speaker's eye in such a debate. I speak strictly as a non-expert and as a layman, but I should have thought, as a non-expert, that if the Chinese fell back a long way without being pushed, and deliberately left this great no man's land, and then proceeded to release some prisoners, they were ready to sit down and talk to somebody. Instead of anybody going along and sitting down and talking with them, General MacArthur chose that moment to launch an enormous attack bang in the middle of a first-class blizzard.
1258 I am not competent to pass an opinion upon whether that was militarily wise, and I do not think I should pass one even if I were competent. All I am saying is that it was not a military action—it was a political action. It was a political action to launch an attack at the very moment when the other chap had given some indication that he was prepared to sit down and talk.
We are now told that the number of Chinese troops who are mobilised in North Korea runs into some hundreds of thousands. Even I know enough to understand that one cannot collect several hundreds of thousands of troops together in five minutes and hide them under a match-box. They must have been moving up to that front and have been in evidence to air reconnaissance for quite a long time—I would not know how long, but certainly for quite a long time—and the United Nations Commander must have known at the moment that he launched his attack that that very large body of troops was there.
If he was forecasting—which well might have been the case—that, in spite of his attack, the Chinese would not commit those troops, then he was making a political judgment and not a military judgment and, having launched his attack—notwithstanding the Chinese falling back, creating a no man's land and releasing their prisoners—and having been the victim of a sharp counter-attack, having translated political decision into military action and having come unstuck in the process, he now passes the baby back to the United Nations Commission and is willing to spend more time listening to them than ever before.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington urged us to remember the importance of not straining Anglo-American relations. I think we all agree with him, as we all agree with almost the whole of his speech. I take it that what he had in mind was that we on this side of the Atlantic should not overstrain the patience of our American friends. But this cuts two ways. Our American friends should bear in mind that the Anglo-American connection is as valuable to them as it is to us and they should not overstrain Anglo-American relations by overstraining our patience.
1259 I do not say this out of first-hand knowledge, but I have a strong feeling that on more than one occasion when His Majesty's Government have made recommendations to the American President or the American Secretary of State, they have been met with the answer, "We agree with you; we should like to do that; but we are not sure how far we can carry our Republicans with us." If that is so—and I believe it is so—then I believe the British Prime Minister should be entitled to give himself the luxury sometimes of saying to President Truman, "Whatever I think about what you are doing at the present time, I am not sure that I can carry the whole of my people with me in this venture."
As one hon. and gallant Member pointed out in an intervention, it is quite true that the Americans are bearing the great brunt of the fighting, but we have some of our troops fighting there as well; we did not hesitate to commit what military, naval and air forces we had available and we did it in very good heart. Some of our sons, brothers, fathers and husbands are being committed to this as well, and it would be altogether monstrous if they were being committed to the military extension of political views which are hostile to the political views of His Majesty's Government and of the country as a whole.
One well knows that the United Nations Commander who, after all, has been Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Tokyo, has not been too ready to listen to British views. Even before this affair in Korea began we knew that that was the position, even in respect of Japan, where we have very great interests. Any hon. Member, on either side of the House, who sits for a Lancashire constituency will know how important it is that we should be able to talk to whoever is in charge at the moment in Japan; and yet, in spite of that, there was a period of several months when our representative in Tokyo could not even get an interview with General MacArthur. It became impossible to have a Briton at the court of MacArthur. That sort of thing seems to me unfortunate at the present time. I think we ought not to be mealy-mouthed about these things.
1260 This debate, today and tomorrow, is a solemn occasion. Much may depend upon it. Not only those who are not our friends but those, too, who are our friends should clearly understand what is the sentiment and opinion of this country. I do not pretend for a single moment that what I have said represents the sentiments of the whole of this country. But I do believe that it represents the sentiment of a significant sector of this country, and that it is a sector that the Government will do well to carry with them in the difficult times that lie ahead.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
I shall not follow the speech to which we have just listened, except to say to the hon. Member that I think that, whatever opinion he may hold about General MacArthur, it is a little unfair to accuse him of negligence—that is what the hon. Member's remarks amounted to—in not having photographed from his aeroplanes the Chinese concentrations, because in order to do that, obviously he would have had to have those aeroplanes flying over the Chinese frontier. It was an unfair accusation.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I do not know why some hon. Members are saying "Hear, hear," since they did not hear what I said, and were not here at the time. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to be unfair. The gravamen of my charge was not that General MacArthur did not photograph the Chinese troops and did not know they were there; the gravamen of my charge was that he did know they were there, and still launched his attack.
§ Lord John Hope
If I took the hon. Member up wrongly I am sorry, but I think he must have realised that one cannot know there are troops anywhere unless one sees them first. I think my point is valid and that he is mistaken.
The only thing I want to say by way of general introduction to a very brief speech is that I very much regret the tone of some of the speeches that have been made from the other side of the House. I think that they have repeated very neatly—and, I hope and believe, unintentionally—Russian propaganda, and that refers par- 1261 ticularly to the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones). His speech might have been made at the Warsaw bogus peace conference the other day. It was complete Russian propaganda of appeasement from beginning to end. [Interruption.] Oh, yes, it was including a complete absence from it of any reference whatever to Communist aggression and its plans.
What I wish to do is to try to set in their right background these talks with the Russians that have been discussed at some length in this debate. We listened to what I thought was an extremely helpful and interesting speech by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who went in great detail—and I think he was right to do so—into what in fact the Communist plan and design is. The whole thing, of course, can be summed up in one phrase, a phrase coined by the late Professor Laski, who defined Communism as "the organisation of catastrophe." That is what we are up against.
I need hardly remind the House of the classic progress towards that catastrophe as outlined in former days by Lenin. There again, one can sum it up in a phrase: the starting point is the ruining of your enemy's currency. We have only to look at the amount of production and of money devoted and diverted to self-protection in order to see a clear indication of how very successful the Communist attack has so far been. I should like to return to that briefly in a few minutes. I am quite certain that the Russians are on the road to what they believe to be conquest. I reject any and every theory that connects what they or their satellites are doing with a fear motive. We heard that ad nauseam from Hitler before the last war. It is all part of an aggressive plan, and it is not going too badly for them so far.
As for the Chinese attack in Korea, I do not believe for one moment that that was a sudden or an unrehearsed incident. I know quite well that if the Chinese had attacked early on, they could have pushed the United Nations forces into the sea. But they have waited until they have tied up 100,000 United Nations troops in Korea; and if they are playing the game which I suspect they are playing hand in hand with Russia, however far back we go, whether we go back to the "wasp 1262 waist" or somewhere else, they will try to keep those 100,000 United Nations troops in Korea.
This Russian tactic—because that, of course, is what it is—is calculated straight away, in my opinion, to encourage what I look upon as the open door to destruction, and that is the Third Force theory. There have been signs in this debate that the Third Force theory is rearing its head again. I hoped that it had been killed for good by events, but I am afraid that is not the ease. I am perfectly certain that at the moment the Russians are simply indulging in part of the softening-up process before what they believe and say openly is to be inevitable war.
I do not believe war to be inevitable, but let it be quite clear, and let the House be under no misapprehension, that the Russians have always considered war between their system and ours to be inevitable. Let me quote some words of Stalin in 1925:We cannot forget the saying of Lenin to the effect that a great deal in the matter of our construction depends on whether we succeed in delaying war with the capitalist countries, which is inevitable but which may he delayed either until proletarian revolution ripens in Europe or until the colonial revolutions come fully to a head, or, finally, until the capitalists fight among themselves over division of the colonies. Therefore, the maintenance of peaceful relations with capitalist countries is an obligatory task for us.The basis of our relations with capitalist countries consists in admitting the co-existence of two opposed systems.There is the story in all its brutal nakedness, and I hope it is not lost on any hon. Member opposite.
Against that background, what are we to say if and when we enter into talks with the Russians? Are we to say, "Stop the tactics which caused the United States of America to spend 300 million dollars in Greece, which cause the British to spend what has been calculated as £25,000 a day in Malaya, which cause the French to spend 500 million dollars a year in Indo-China, and which are causing all of us to spend goodness knows what in Korea"? Is that what we are to say? Are we to say to the Russians, "Please stop forcing the free world to take measures which must threaten the value of its currency, and therefore the rate of its recovery"? Is that the sort of thing we are to say? In other words are we to say, "Stop this or you will destroy us"?
1263 Or are we, rather, to be in a position to say, "Stop, or you will destroy yourselves"? That, I believe, is the only basis upon which we can enter upon these talks with the Russians. In my opinion, nothing else will do. I very much hope that there will be no talks unless the demands of the free nations include measures which, at the very least, are calculated to halt the pace of the Communist tactics. I think everyone agrees that these talks must be from strength, and there must be no yielding whatever from the position upon which the United Nations decide they are finally to stand.
For the future, the emphasis as between Europe and the United States is a matter of opinion. I admire profoundly what has been done to knit Europe together, but I feel deeply that it is mainly with the United States that our destinies lie, and I hope that we shall get very much closer together with the United States—so close that the Foreign Secretary will not be able to come down to the House and say to us, as he said this afternoon, "The House will be glad to hear that I have been in touch with the United States Government in the last 24 hours." We should not be out of touch with the United States Government for one hour of the day from now on. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have always felt uncomfortable about co-operation with the United States, to say the very least. One understands the reasons, much as one may regret them. The fact is that the presence of the United States in the world today has given the world its first real chance of averting a worldwide conflict. What is happening now might well have been deemed to be quite impossible as little as 10 years ago. In 1794, Washington said:If this country is preserved in tranquility 20 years longer, it may hid defiance in a just cause to any Power whatever, such in that time will he its population, wealth and resources.I believe that it is with the United States pre-eminently that our destiny is bound up. If any proof of that is wanted, let hon. Members reflect that it is from the United States pre-eminently that the Russians are determined to separate us. Let not the party opposite help them in that task.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
I shall follow very closely, in the speech that 1264 I am going to make, the theme of my noble Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Lord John Hope), but perhaps I may begin by saying a word about the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by appealing in these very critical days for unity in the House between parties. That appeal for unity from the right hon. Gentleman received an immediate and ready response from my right hon Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden)—a response which has been echoed from these benches.
I would say only one thing about the unity of the parties on this issue of foreign affairs. On this side of the House, we believe that the unity between one party and another in foreign affairs is the strength of this country. But should the party charged with the duty of government fail to give the country leadership and fail to give us the influence which is our due in the national council; should it fail in decisions on matters of great moment, then national unity would become an overwhelming weakness. I hope that that will not happen. I hope that the Government will give leadership and achieve for this country the influence which is our due and that they will take and will not be afraid to take, great decisions. I am sure that the Under-Secretary and no right hon. Gentleman on the other side will complain if we criticise and keep the Government up to the mark when we have some grounds to fear that the Government are always being overtaken by events.
It has always been possible that this war in Korea would be long and that it would expand. I remember, as long ago as last July, asking the Prime Minister, from these benches, whether he would not go to Washington to take a hand in the political direction of this war at the highest level. I remember at that time, too, that Lord Ismay—and nobody knows more than he does about Anglo-American relations on both a political and military level—pleaded with the Government in another place to send the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary or whoever was necessary to Washington so as to assist, on the highest political and military level, in setting up the machinery for the general strategy of what might well turn into a world war.
1265 It seems to me that the machinery, so far as the Atlantic Pact is concerned, has been created; but that is surely not so in the Pacific and for the overall picture. First of all, there was the indecision about whether General MacArthur's armies should stop at the 38th Parallel, and then the indecision whether there should be a no man's land between this side of the frontier of Manchuria. There is indecision also whether the frontier of Manchuria has to be crossed. There does not seem to be, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) said, any machinery to decide the relative merits of action in Korea, Indo-China or Yugoslavia. In other words, there is no overall machinery to review the whole picture, this deadly and dangerous situation which may well turn into a world war. Therefore, once more, though late in the day, I add my appeal to that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, that the Prime Minister should go to Washington and take a hand in the political direction of this war at the highest possible level.
Nor can we, or the United States, shed our responsibility too much on to the United Nations. We must remember that, so far as the decision to take action in Korea was concerned, it was lucky that Russia was absent, because Russia can now stultify action by the exercise of her veto in the Security Council. The United Nations is in its infancy, and it can only work if it has placed at its disposal American and British power. What is more, as it has no planning organisation of its own, not only does it have to have at its disposal American and British power, but static planning at the highest level by American and British politicians and military experts. I beg Members to remember that the United Nations cannot work without power, and that outside Asia today there are only two systems with effective power, the United States and Great Britain and the Commonwealth.
It is true to say that at this moment the United States and Great Britain are standing between civilisation and barbarism, and that should there be any split, should there be any political split in this alliance between America and Britain, the savages walk in. The security of the world and of all the free peoples literally depends on the unity of the 1266 English-speaking world. I do not want to be controversial, but I make the plea that Members opposite should not make the kind of speeches to which we have listened in the House, as well as in the country, saying that inevitably capitalist societies are degenerate. It is always foolish to play the Communist game, but when at this moment the life of every person in the free countries and of every Socialist on the benches opposite is preserved by American power, these speeches become positively indecent.
I want to come to the subject that was raised with the great earnestness we always expect from the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). I think it is the obligation of any Christian country to examine with the greatest care and attention the possibilities of conversations which may lead to peace with Russia, provided that Members do not delude themselves into believing that the Russian initiative, or even Russian acquiescence, in other people's proposals can be anything more, at this stage, than a tactical move in the long-term revolutionary plan. The tactical interpretation of peace is the only definition permitted in Communist dogma.
I do not want to go into long quotations, but this is so constantly stated in Russian official propaganda and so often repeated by Communists in this and other countries that I want to read to the House a quotation from a speech from perhaps the leading French Communist leader at the present time, M. Waldeck-Rochet, who, the other day, at Limoges, said:You will say, 'Why does not the Soviet Union intervene in Korea?' It is certain that if she did the war would soon [...]e over and the Americans thrown into the sea. That is true, but it would start a world war, which, for the time being, is contrary to the peace policy of the Soviet Union. We can he certain that a year of guaranteed peace is a year utilised to the utmost by the Soviet Union to reinforce its army and those of the popular democracies.It is to permit this rearmament, this development of the Soviet Union's strength as well as of the strength of the popular democracies, that we must actively continue our propaganda in favour of peace. It is this movement for peace that will undermine the imperialistic armies and delay the outbreak of war. Do you not see that this is the best means to assure the destruction of our enemies? The Soviet Union will choose the right moment and the imperialists will have no say in the matter. You will see, therefore, how important it is to develop our action in favour of peace.1267 I quote that for the reason that it seems to illustrate the fundamental if not the insuperable difficulty of negotiating with the Soviet Union. The Western world still thinks of peace in the traditional and Christian interpretation, while the Soviet use it as a weapon in the cold war, and as complementary to arms in the preparations that they make for the ultimate victory of the proletariat. It is a difficulty which we must face and try to overcome.
Does that mean that we must refuse to consider any Russian advances and that we must refrain from making any approaches ourselves? I could make a very strong case for doing nothing, but I believe that the attempt should be made and that it can safely be made subject to two absolute conditions—first, that the attempt should be made jointly with the United States of America and that we should keep step by step with them; second, that there shall be no question of disarming ourselves or of slackening our preparations.
I want to say no more about America than what I have already said except that the facts of Russia's strength which the Minister of Defence has given us, the catalogue of material gains to the Soviet Union since 1945 and their expansion programme, on which we know they are set, suggests that only power will talk, and power at the present time lies almost exclusively with the United States. One thing I would say about no question of disarmament entering into any peace talk is that I have an uneasy feeling that some people think we should approach these talks in this way—"If you will talk," we will sly to the Russians, "we will halt our armaments meanwhile." I most fervently believe that if negotiations are undertaken they should only be undertaken through growing strength. Munich, I have some reason to recollect it, was the result of negotiation through weakness. If, as hon. Members opposite are so fond of saying, we are to have no more Munichs then it is up to them to see there is no more weakness. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that we should make this attempt and that there has to be a concrete proposal. Before we talk about disarmament there is a fertile field on which we can get practical agreement, 1268 beginning with Austria. I therefore think that there is not only a reason for going in for this attempt to get agreement with Russia, but that there is a chance of success. First, Russia may enter into an agreement with every reservation that it is tactical and temporary, but it might become permanent. We must not neglect any opportunity of extending the area of co-operation.
Second, I pin my faith or my hopes on the deadly danger of atomic explosives. Western civilisation is based on the most complicated industrial structure and upon the concentration of population in great towns. All our social processes are mechanised. Let us think of one illustration. Let us suppose that all the factories making great tractors were destroyed by atom bombs. I doubt very much whether we could carry on without food production in this country. That is an illustration of the extent of our mechanisation and our vulnerability. It may be true that Asia is far less vulnerable, but let us remember that Russia has lately become comparatively highly industrialised and that the percentage of atom bombs at the disposal of the United States in proportion to those with Russia is about 100 to 5. Let us also remember the present navigational skill in bringing aircraft to their target, and we shall see that Russia is riot invulnerable and would suffer terribly. It would not be the end of Russia if there were an all-out atomic bomb attack upon the Continent, but it would be the end of the highly industrialised, mass-producing society upon which the Communists and the Soviet Government are building all their hopes.
§ Lord Dunglass
I have told the hon. Gentleman. Of course we are vulnerable. I am trying to suggest that the Russians are also sufficiently vulnerable to make it unprofitable for them to neglect this prospect of atomic war. It may be that they have blinded themselves with their own propaganda, which, I would remind hon. Gentlemen, is rather a characteristic of Left-Wingers, but they may yet see the red light in time.
I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton that Russia's policy is, on the whole, predictable. The Russian Communist Government proceeds 1269 upon an invariable rule—incitement to revolution in countries affected, backed by arms and money from the Kremlin, the centre of the Socialist revolution. It seems to me that there are three objectives which the Russians have before them. The first is to prevent the Western Powers from getting the benefit of minerals and other raw materials from South-East Asia. The second is the possession of Persian oil, the end of Turkish independence and a footing in and control of the Eastern Mediterranean. The third, above all, is the possession of Germany. Success in any one of these three ventures would tip the balance of power in Russia's favour.
I think that my hon. and gallant Friend is right in saying that they will try to get those objectives without war. As long as they pursue this ideological warfare and continue to push their way into other countries which are independent, as long as they try to deprive us of raw materials which we must have, as long as they try to get possession of Germany, which we could never tolerate we can have no option but to build up our power until it is on an equality with theirs.
It might be that Western civilisation could survive without Asia, it might be that Western civilisation could survive without Persian oil, or the control of the Eastern Mediterranean, but Western civilisation is finished if Russia should get control of Germany and, therefore, of the Continent of Europe. Therefore, I add my plea to the plea made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, that he should not allow, if he can possibly help it, the conception of the Atlantic Pact and the European Army to be antagonistic to one another. He will be doing a great work if, in the next few weeks, he can reconcile those difficulties.
Our function seems to be clear: to rearm ourselves as fast as we can, to cement and re-create a whole strategy with the United States of America, and to take the lead in Europe to achieve a practical measure of defence on that Continent. If we do these things we may then, on a basis of power, come to peace talks with Russia and, for the first time, we may see power used with discretion and for high purpose in international affairs.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I hope the noble Lord will forgive me if, out of the time I have, I do 1270 not devote more than a minute or two to following him in the very earnest, sincere and interesting speech he has made. I should like, however, to say one thing to him. I do not myself believe that Munich was the result, or the result only, of negotiating from weakness. I think both sides were weak and that we over-estimated Hitler's strength at the time. I would suggest to the noble Lord for his consideration—because, if he came to the conclusion that I might be right, it would affect his thinking on more urgent and pertinent problems—that the real thing which made Munich inevitable was the rejection of the principle of collective security if the principle of collective security required reliance on a Russian alliance.
If we had been content in 1938 to allow the Franco-Russian alliance with Czechoslovakia to work and if, although we had no treaty obligation to do so, we had backed it and if the United States of America at the same time, not being a member of the League of Nations and having no treaty obligations, but having the same obligations as any nation, great or small, has in regard to the preservation of peace in the world, had backed collective security also, there would have been no Munich and there would have been no war. I ask the noble Lord, knowing that he lived so closely with these things as he did at that time—being, if I remember rightly, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mr. Neville Chamberlain at the time—whether he does not think there may be something in what I am saying. If there is something in it, let him examine his own conscience to see whether it may not have some bearing upon the problems of the world in which we are living today.
The Foreign Secretary, in his speech, on which I shall have some comments to make in a few moments, invited us to be constructive, to offer, if we could, constructive suggestions and he promised that he would have an open mind and would consider them objectively, and in the constructive spirit in which he asked that they should be offered. I do not think that my right hon. Friend will have reason to complain of the course of the debate in that respect. If it has not been so in all cases, a number of constructive speeches have been made. I ask hon. Members to believe me when I say that one cannot make a constructive speech 1271 on matters of this kind without saying some things with which other hon. Members will disagree. I hope they will have the patience to listen to things with which they disagree and will not do what some of their friends are fond of doing—suppose that whenever anybody says anything that is outside the compass of fashionable political thinking, he is, necessarily and willingly, intending merely to defend the Communist cause.
We are in these days living through what I suppose is the most critical period in the history of the world. There is no doubt that if we go on as we have been since 1947, the end inevitably is war. There cannot be built up in the world two blocs of nations, each suspicious or fearful of the other, each building up its armaments in order not merely to match but to overtop the armaments of its opponent; we cannot abandon the old technique of diplomacy in favour of mere abuse, we cannot conduct a cold war all over the world on that basis and believe that some day or other the structure will not break down. Unless some dramatic new initiative can be taken, some change of direction in world affairs, it is certain that we shall, for the third time in a single generation, be faced with a world war, and this time with the most destructive of them all.
Let no one imagine that if war occurs the atom bomb will not be used or that bacteriological warfare will not be used. Let no one imagine that with our present weapons of mass destruction—I am now referring to the more conventional weapons—we can fight a war on the scale on which we have fought wars twice already in this generation without bringing to an end Western civilisation, which we should presumably be fighting to defend. There must, therefore, be some change of direction.
In any attempt that is made to produce a lessening of international tension, a discussion of outstanding issues in the hope of averting a third world war, it is obvious that we must have something to put into the pool ourselves. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo), said that the true division of the world was into those who believe a third world war to be inevitable and those who do not believe that. For those who believe that Russia, under the 1272 present régime, is the enemy of mankind, that we can make no peace with her, that it is impossible to make a bargain that would be kept, that it is impossible to have any truck or dealing with her at all for those who hold that belief, there is nothing in the idea of a four-Power conference, a five-Power conference or a conference of any kind. We should not go into it unless we believe that it can be a constructive affair.
Of course, I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend that we cannot go into it if it is to be tied only to the Prague declaration. Nor could we go into it if there is any important issue dividing the world today which is excluded from the area of discussion or negotiation. But it is not quite enough to say what we will not go in to discuss. We have to say what we will go in to discuss. We must make our own positive proposals and we must make them not merely positive but, somehow or other, measure up to the needs, or to the imagined needs, of those with whom we are negotiating.
If the Soviet Union and its allies and satellites are really inspired by some creed which makes hate, destruction and bloodshed the only things which appeal to them, then let us not negotiate at all. If it is not that and if we negotiate on the basis that, at any rate, it may not be that, then let us recognise that even Communist nations fight wars, if they fight them at all, for their national happiness, their national security and their national interests. We must see how they are involved and whether we have anything to contribute to ease the suspicions on which their conduct might be based.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
Would the hon. Member consider, in his proper anxiety to avoid a third world war, whether he would regard any settlement as satisfactory which gives Russia immunity from a shooting war but leaves her with the initiative in the cold war?
§ Mr. Silverman
I cannot follow that very well. I do not quite know what the hon. Gentleman means by the cold war as distinct from the shooting war. If it means the spread of Communism and the desire to spread Communism, I say to him in all sincerity that there is nothing really very blameworthy in a Communist wanting to spread Communism.
§ Mr. Silverman
I have not time to go into all the details, and I am dealing with the question of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith). What we wish to prevent is warfare, or the spread of ideas, or the attempt to spread them, by armed force, whether in Malaya or anywhere else. We on these benches know, if hon. Members opposite do not know, how to deal with the ideological war with Communism. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I think that we do, and I think that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think that they know as well. I do not think that they are any more afraid of the Communist arguments, as arguments, than we are. I do not think that they are any more afraid than we are that they have not got an ideological answer more convincing, more attractive and compelling to men's minds than Communism.
What I say to the hon. Gentleman is that, if by the cold war he means the conflict of ideas, I see nothing against it. I think civilisation depends on the continual conflict of ideas, and I hope there will always be a conflict of ideas and that we will always be able to maintain conditions in which that conflict can have full play. If the hon. Gentleman means more than that type of cold war, if he means an attempt to spread ideas or impose political systems by armed force, whether openly displayed or otherwise than by the free play of ideas, I say that is the thing we are trying to prevent and which we are all considering together.
I said that we ought to be prepared to examine our own records and see whether all the things that we do and say are as beyond reproach and as unassailable as we sometimes suggest. Let us take, for instance, what is the most critical question in the world today—the situation in Korea. We thought when the United Nations organisation was set up, not that it would be an organisation of what we call free democratic nations to be used as an instrument to prevent the spread of Communism. We invited the Communist [...]ations to come in, and we still invite them to come in.
Whether it is right or wrong at the moment to proceed with our advocacy of the admission of the People's Government 1274 of China, we still think that, in principle, although it is a Communist Government, it should be in. I do not know what may be thought in some quarters in America, but I am perfectly certain that everywhere in this House we would regard it as a considerable setback to the hopes of mankind and of civilisation if the Soviet Union were not to remain within the United Nations.
The United Nations Organisation is not, as some people seem almost subconsciously to think, a weapon in the cold war or an instrument to spread democracy. It is nothing of the kind. It is an attempt of the nations to organise peace, an attempt by nations to prevent by collective security the conflict of ideologies, the conflict of political ideas, the conflict of political systems and the conflict of national interests from wrecking the world and wrecking civilisation. The test was that whoever shoots is wrong, whoever advances over a frontier is wrong; and the action of the United Nations in Korea is justified and was accepted virtually unanimously by this House on that basis.
It was not that we thought that the Government of Syngman Rhee was really so admirable an affair or so democratic as all that. It was not that we felt that the South Korean Government had not been repeatedly guilty of provocation of the North Koreans and North Korea itself. Even with the considerable juridical difficulty arising partly out of the voluntary action of the Soviet Union within the Security Council, but arising also much more significantly out of the involuntary absence of the de facto Government of China—even then, the United Nations were entitled to take up the position that the house was on fire and that they had better put it out before examining the title deeds of the owner.
Nor was it an accepted thing that one side was 100 per cent, right and the other 100 per cent. wrong; hut, on the basis that there had been an invasion and that that invasion ought to be prevented by the armed forces of the United Nations, they acted on the idea of collective security. That endeavour succeeded. There were anxious moments, and at one time it looked as though we were going to be driven out of Korea altogether. Whatever may be thought of General MacArthur as a politician, no one will withhold admiration for the brilliance of 1275 the manoeuvres which ended the military difficulties in which we found ourselves.
But what has become of it now? What was a complete triumph and a complete vindication of the principle of collective security, as I define it, is itself in jeopardy and has brought the whole world to the very brink of ultimate catastrophe. Why? Because we did not know when to stop. Had we stopped on the 38th parallel—there may be other opinions—with the obvious power to go forward which we did not exercise, we should then, surely, have been morally and militarily in the strongest possible position, and we should have had an incontrovertible answer to all those who told the Koreans and the Chinese and the Asiatics generally, as well as the populations in the Soviet Union and in Central and Eastern Europe, that this was not an act of collective security at all, but merely an attempt by the Western bloc to provide itself with new bases in contemplation of an Asian war. We should have had a complete answer. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) ought not to say it is the Government—I do not know whether he knows any more about what the Government might have preferred—
§ Mr. Silverman
It may be so; I have not time to argue that with the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is capable of argument, but let us suppose that he is right. It has nothing whatever to do with the merits of my argument. I am not speaking here for anybody but myself; I am responding to the request of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for people to think objectively and to say what they think ought to be said. I am doing that.
I still say that, whoever was for it and whoever was against it, I think the United Nations would have been better advised when they had vindicated their right to intervene and vindicated their power to intervene by driving their aggressors right back, to have stopped then and to have said, "We certainly ought to have a united Korea, an independent Korea, and the proper way to get it is to begin discussions now. We know you would not discuss it before and we know it is not 1276 our fault but yours that we did not have a united Korea before. You stopped us going in, but that is no reason, now that we are on the 38th parallel, for applying all the folly of unconditional surrender to North Korea." It is no good saying, as was said this afternoon, that the bloodshed and destruction that followed are entirely the fault of a Government who were left by us with no option except to go on fighting in defence of their own institutions on their own soil or to lay down their arms without any conditions of any kind.
What was the result? The result was that we are now saying we are going to have a unified Korea on the basis of recognising Syngman Rhee's Government as the Government of Korea. What kind of unity is that? And we are advancing without any other reason than with the purpose, not of collective security any longer, but of imposing our ideas of unification of Korea by armed force on the North Koreans and thereby doing in North Korea, in the name of the United Nations, the very thing that we intervened in South Korea to prevent the North Koreans from doing.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster) rose—
§ Mr. Silverman
I cannot give way now. We advanced militarily, having sacrificed the moral basis of our intervention, as far as a line in Korea we could militarily defend, without having provoked any intervention, at that time, either from China or from the Soviet Union. Then we continued up to the border where there are sources of power on which the whole industrial life of the people depends. When they get very censorious about the actions of other people, I say to right hon. and hon. Members—and I know this sounds provocative, but I am afraid I must say it—that I think the Chinese Government, in what they have done in these last few days or the last week or two, have done nothing that we ourselves would not have done in the same circumstances.
I say it is sheer folly, a fantastic folly, to suppose that we could advance in that way right up to the Manchurian frontier without risking—and surely we must have known we were risking—any violent intervention by the Chinese in defence of the frontier and in defence of those power 1277 stations. I say this to the Foreign Secretary, who invited us to make constructive criticism. It would be extremely useful if he could, by diplomatic means, by discussions with China, the Soviet Union and any other nation concerned, organise cessation of hostilities in North Korea now. pending the investigation that is now proceeding in the General Assembly, and pending general discussions on Far Eastern problems which ought to proceed side by side with discussions of the problems of Europe, which are contemplated to be discussed in the four-Power or five-Power discussions to which both sides of the House are now committed.
It seems to me that we have to make this kind of approach. There is hope of saving the world from a war which, from the point of view of everything we in this House hold dear, I believe would be the final catastrophe. I think we can save the world from that. I think my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has now an opportunity unique in history. I think he has it in his own power, by his own hand, now to save the civilisation of the world. I am sure that if our present difficulties can be constructively overcome in this way, there is before the world a period of advancing prosperity and civilisation instead of the doom, blood and destruction which we otherwise face.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed. without Question put.