§ [SECOND DAY'S DEBATE]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I hope that the level calm of yesterday's debate will be regarded as an example of our composure in times of danger and not as an instance of any failure on our part to realise its gravity. Perhaps the calm in all its aspects represents various characteristics in our national character. Certainly we are in danger, but the danger is not new. It was visible in all its terrible potential from the moment when the armies of democracy dispersed and melted away in the hour of victory while the armies of the Soviet oligarchy were maintained at an enormous strength and were re-equipped to a very high degree and when, on top of this, Russian imperialism, clothed in a new garb, advanced to carry the creed of Communism and the authority of the Kremlin forth in every direction until some solid obstacle was reached.
This danger became apparent to some of us before the war ended and was recognised widely throughout our confidential circles. It began to be realised by much larger numbers of people in Britain and the United States when the first conference of the Council of the United Nations took place at the beginning of 1946. Up till then for the great masses of the people all had been softened and shrouded in the Western democracies by the comradeship of the great struggle, by their relief in hard-won victory and by their admiration of the valour and sacrifices of the Russian armies.
However, I must remind the House that already at the beginning of 1946 the Foreign Secretary felt himself forced to describe, to his face and in public, Mr. Vyshinsky's statements as lies. I am not blaming the Foreign Secretary, but it showed how rapidly, in the course of a year, we had been disillusioned, or the outer world had been disillusioned. Since then, the increasing realisation by the Western democracies of the danger in which they stood and stand has been continuous.
1331 There were two major differences between the state of the world after the First and after the Second World Wars. The sour aftermath of triumph in arms, however complete, brought with it in both cases many troubles, but here are the two differences. After the First War, when the victors had disarmed the Germans and their allies, no powerful organised army remained upon the scene except the French Army. After this war the armed might of Russia has emerged steadily year by year, almost month by month, as a rock shows more and more above an ebbing tide.
The second difference, which arose out of the realisation of the first, was that the United States, instead of retiring into isolation, instead of demanding full and prompt repayment of debts and disinteresting herself in Europe and even in the League of Nations, of which she had been one of the founders, has come forward step by step as the knowledge of the situation has dawned upon her and has made the great counterpoise upon which the freedom and the future of our civilisation depends. This fundamental change in the policy of the United States constitutes, in my view, the best hope for the salvation of Christian civilisation and democracy from Communist and Russian conquest and control. I hope, therefore, that we shall regard it as our first objective not to separate ourselves in action or in understanding or in sympathy in any degree, however slight, that can be avoided from the United States.
But the favourable policy of the United States after this last war, which has been so helpful to us in so many ways, did not affect the military disparity caused by the maintenance of immense Russian armies year after year and the development of their armoured forces, their air power and their submarines. We did not come to terms with them at the moment of German surrender while we, too, had the weapons in our hands. The Western Allies abandoned the whole of Eastern Germany, including an immense area of which they stood in occupation, to Soviet control, and Russia remained the overwhelming armed power, towering up in Europe and in Asia, avid for the expansion of their creed and their rule.
The war had liberated Russia from her two pre-occupations—Germany and 1332 Japan. Both these warlike nations have inflicted terrible defeats and injuries upon Russia in this present twentieth century. Now both have ceased to be military factors and the years that have followed our victory have brought enormous increases of power and territory to Soviet Russia. In one form or another they have gained control of half Europe and all China without losing a single Russian soldier. They have every right to be encouraged by the progress they have made, but they show no signs of being in any way satiated or satisfied or even contented with it, and we can perceive no limits at present to their aims.
So much for the past. Let me now, in the very few minutes I shall detain the House, look to the present and the future. I hoped myself—and my view was shared by my colleagues at that time—that a lasting settlement might be reached with Russia before we evacuated our portion of central and eastern Germany, and before the United States' armies were demobilised and dispersed. Later, in 1948. I hoped that we might come to terms with them before they gained the secret of the atomic bomb. Now I hope that we may come to terms with them before they have so large a stockpile of these fearful agencies, in addition to vast superiority in other weapons, as to be able to terrorise the free world, if not, indeed, to destroy it.
Let us look at the time factor. In some aspects it is in our favour; in some it is adverse. The Soviets, under the restraint of the immense United States' superiority in the atomic sphere, and also by the consolation of the rapid and immense gains which they have made and are still making in many directions without incurring any direct risk—under these two opposite forces—have hitherto been under restraint and control.
They have repeatedly been assured that the United States would not fight what is called a "preventive" war. The United States have expressed the general opinion of the civilised world upon that aspect. On this basis the war, if ever it comes—which God forbid—will come at the moment of their choice. It. however, should be noted that the two restraining or consoling arguments which I have mentioned are both diminishing. The Soviet stockpile of atomic bombs is growing. How fast, I have no idea. I do not 1333 know whether the Government have knowledge. At any rate, we have none. And the Soviets must expect, while this stockpile is growing in their favour behind them, more resistance to their further expansion, and they will not find their progress so easy as it has been in the past.
It is impossible to prophesy what they will do, or when, or how they will do it. One can only judge these matters by estimating what is their interest. The great Duke of Marlborough quoted a saying in his day: "Interest never lies"; and there is no doubt that trying to put oneself in the position of the other party to see how things look to him is one way, and perhaps the best way, of being able to feel and peer dimly into the unknowable future. It is, at any rate, the only guide—and it does not include accident, passion, folly or madness, madness which may arise from some error, some blunder, or from the results of some internal convulsion. All that can be said is that it certainly does not seem to be in the Russian interest to begin a major struggle now.
We are told that it is provocative to organise an Atlantic army, with, as I see it, a European army inside of it and a German contingent, on honourable terms, inside that. We are told that that is provocative. It does not seem likely, however, that anything that we can do in the next two years in Europe will reverse the balance of military power. We may be stronger, but not strong enough in that time to deter, still less to prevail. There is plenty of room for us to get much stronger without altering the situation in Europe decisively.
Therefore, while it is right to build up our forces as fast as we can, nothing in this process, in the period I have mentioned, will deprive Russia of effective superiority in what are called now the conventional arms. All that it will do is to give us increasing unity in Europe and magnify the deterrents against aggression, and, perhaps, give us the means of gradually approaching the situation when relations between world Powers may express themselves in normal terms and not only be measured in the strange and novel methods of the atomic age.
Dangerous as it may be to make such a prediction—I make it in all good faith, and without official knowledge—I would 1334 venture to express the opinion that a major attack by Russia in Europe is unlikely in the near future, and that it will not be provoked or produced by the modest measures of defence now being so slowly, so tardily and ineffectively developed up to the present by the Atlantic and Western Powers. Even if our preparations developed more rapidly, a long period must elapse before they could offset the Russian superiority, even if the Russian strength itself were not increased meanwhile.
It is upon this that I found my hope that we still have time, that there is still a breathing space for us to pursue the policy of seeking an understanding, and for us to also pursue the essential counterpart and foundation of any such hope, namely, the building up of a more reasonable measure of defensive strength. This may be a vain hope. I may live, perhaps, to be mocked at if proved wrong by events. It is, at any rate, the working hypothesis of my thought in these anxious and agonising times.
Therefore I am in favour of efforts to reach a settlement with Soviet Russia as soon as a suitable opportunity presents itself, and of making those efforts while the immense and measureless superiority of the United States atomic bomb organisation offsets the Soviet predominance in every other military respect and gives us the means to talk together in a friendly and dignified manner and, at least as equals. I think that we are all agreed with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said yesterday about the kind of answer we should make to the Russian proposals for a Four-Power conference. I was very glad to hear the Foreign Secretary fully endorse the suggestion which he made for drawing up an agenda, which should no doubt be done in the first instance by competent officials.
I hope, however, that at the right and best time, especially after matters are stabilised in the Far East. a conference will arise which will not merely be like those of which we have had too many in the past, of two sides arguing against each other in the glare of publicity, but that the decisive conversations will take place in confidence, in privacy and even in secrecy, and will be conducted at the highest levels. It is what I asked for at Edinburgh six months ago.
1335 I agree that much has happened since then, particularly these great developments in the Far East and also the immense and active leadership now assumed by the United States, with whom we must march, or walk, hand in hand and to whom we must give all the help and good will which our power and experience allow. Much has happened since then but I do not think we should exclude from any of the discussions which may take place, perhaps after the present unhelpful crisis has passed away, the personal touch between those who have the right and the power to speak for the great States involved. That is only what I said at Edinburgh. I fully agree that time and the new circumstances which have come into view must influence, and even perhaps govern, our action.
This brings me to the crisis in Korea and China. We all find much that is disquieting in it, but I do not see that what is happening in the Far East should make the Soviets in a hurry to depart from their present policy of expansion by means of the cold war and of using others to advance their aims. The Foreign Secretary asked yesterday: Is this move of the Chinese into Korea part of a grand strategy for a definite purpose?Is there a Russo-Chinese conspiracy on a world-wide scale?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]They were very proper questions for the right hon. Gentleman to ask, and to ask himself out loud. He said that he did not know the answers. I do not know who does. If it were true, that certainly would not suggest that the Russians contemplated an immediate violent action in Europe. We can only use the facts as they are known to us and endeavour to deduce conclusions from them.
On the contrary, the plan would evidently be to get the United States and the United Nations, so far as they contribute, involved as deeply as possible in China, and thus prevent the reinforcement of Europe and the building up of our defensive strength there to a point where it would be an effectual deterrent. It is one of the most well-known—almost hackneyed—strategical and tactical methods, to draw your opponent's resources to one part of the field and then, at the right moment, to strike in another. Military 1336 history shows countless examples of this and of variants of it. Surely, however, the United Nations should avoid by every means in their power becoming entangled inextricably in a war with China.
For this reason I had hoped that General MacArthur's advance in Korea—and I paid my tribute to him the other day, and to the extraordinary skill with which the operations had been handled, up to the point which we had then reached—would stop at the neck or wasp waist of the peninsula and would leave the country between the neck and the Yalu River and the Chinese frontier as a kind of No-man's-land which Allied air power would dominate. Under this cover there might have been constructed an ever-stronger fortified line, across the neck, wherever it might be found suitable. Of course, to hold such a line it is essential that the approaches to it should also be commanded, and therefore such a line cannot be exactly along the imaginary lines which are drawn on the maps to indicate the parallels. To take a practical guide, the shortest space. might be chosen and the strongest defence made there, with a hinterland or neutral space before it—or if not neutral, a No-man's-land, a disputed No-man's-land—which would give the necessary facilities to the defence.
Whether this will be possible now depends upon the result of the great battle which is at this moment raging. I suppose we shall know in a few days what the results are. I am sure, however, that the whole House feels that the sooner the Far Eastern diversion—because, vast as it is, it is but a diversion—can be brought into something like a static condition and stabilised, the better it will be for all those hopes which the United Nations have in hand. For it is in Europe that the world cause will be decided. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington said yesterday, it is there that the mortal danger lies. I am sure that we all agree with that. Perhaps we are biased by the fact that we live there or thereabouts. But none the less, one cannot conceive that our natural bias has in any way distorted the actual facts.
There is another reason why we should be very careful not to indulge in criticisms of the United States or their commanders, or do anything which could weaken, even by gusts of opinion, the vital ties that bind our fates together.
1337 We fight in the name of the United Nations. That gives a great moral sanction to our action, but in Korea and the Far East the burden falls almost entirely on the United States. It is important to get the proportions right. The Minister for Defence read us out yesterday, or circulated, the British casualties before the recent fighting. I fear that they may have been increased since then. The killed were 51, wounded 175 and missing 5.
We have not been told what are the American casualties, but I have heard on good authority that they have lost at least 7,000 or 8,000 men killed and between 20,000 and 30,000 wounded. It may be accurate or inaccurate, but that was before this recent fighting. And therefore I say that we must realise the enormous weight of the burden that rests upon them and of the noble sacrifices they are making in the common cause.
Casualties are no doubt not the only measure of war effort, but they are the supreme and truest measure of the sacrifice and exertion of the brave troops made by any army. Our contribution and that of the other United Nations countries, however precious to us, cannot in any way he compared with that of the United States. Our thoughts are with our own gallant soldiers. We watch their fortunes with the deepest sympathy and confidence that they will do their duty with distinction. But their presence there must be taken as a symbol of our loyalty to the common cause and our main responsibility lies here at home in Europe.
I thought that it was a great pity when at the American suggestion and under American pressure the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee was allowed to lapse. Contacts have, I fear, been lost which cannot be wholly regained by larger bodies speaking different languages. The Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee was the keystone of our arch of victory. Formally or informally, in one way or another, it should, I am sure, be reconstituted at the earliest moment. It is quite true that when we have so few troops engaged in the existing theatre of war, we cannot expect to exert influence except by reasoned argument. But let us make sure we have full opportunity for that, especially taking place as it would between officers who have been through the great struggle together and who know 1338 each others' minds and have confidence in each others' characters.
I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend said yesterday that the strongest British representation possible should be available—I mean Ministerial representation—in Washington and if necessary at Lake Success. It should be there in these present anxious and formative weeks. No one must underrate the latent strength of our country or the contribution we are capable of making directly or indirectly to the common cause of the United Nations.
When your friend and ally is bearing almost the whole weight, it is natural that he will have the control. War is little more than a catalogue of mistakes and misfortunes. It is when misfortune comes, however, that allies must hold more firmly together than ever before. Here in Britain, and I doubt not throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations, we always follow a very simple rule, which has helped us in maintaining the safety of this country: "The worse things get, the more we stand together."
Let it also be seen that the English-speaking world follows the same plan. Nothing will be more helpful in rousing the nations of Europe to coherent measures of self-defence than the feeling that the unity of the English-speaking world and of the free nations of Western Europe is unbreakable, and that the stresses and perils of our position only weld us more solidly together and call forth whatever exertions are necessary for self-preservation.
This also applies in a smaller sphere to our party affairs at home. Had some of the Amendments, or one of the Amendments, on the Paper been moved, we should, of course, have voted with His Majesty's Government. But even if there is no Division—and I understand that a Division is unlikely—the House of Commons has here today, by its temper and its attitude, an opportunity of making our fundamental unities apparent to the world, and we may be sure that all this process gives the best hope of avoiding a third world war, not by appeasement of opponents from weakness, but by wise measures, fair play from strength and the proof of unconquerable resolve.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham. Aston)
I am sure the House will agree with me that the 1339 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), on this day, his 76th birthday, has made one of the greatest speeches of his career. I should like, as one who has often attacked the right hon. Gentleman in the past, to say how much I welcomed everything he has said today. I am sure that we shall see how helpful his speech has been in the near future. I thoroughly agree with him, that at this time of considerable difficulty it is very much our duty to support the Government in what they have done and are trying to do today.
I believe that our Government have been acting over the last four or five months with great wisdom and skill, and that their advice may well have saved the world from a third world war on several occasions during that time. I believe that the more the advice of the British Government is followed during these difficult times, the better it will be for all of us—which was the general tenor of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. There are, of course, some who felt and said that we should not have gone so far beyond the 38th Parallel. There were some of us who criticised General MacArthur in his capacity as a politician, rather than that of a general; but he has been left in command, and we have gone further over the 38th Parallel than many thought wise. Obviously, we cannot possibly pull out now. It is no good trying to disown our American friends because we may feel that some of them have been mistaken in their actions.
Our aim must be to do all we can to prevent a third world war, and to do that we should try, as the right hon. Gentleman did, to put ourselves in the minds of our potential opponents. I should like to consider what may be behind the Chinese behaviour in Korea at the moment, and what factors there may be that are influencing her attitude. First, I think that the Chinese are acting, in part, on the basis of their traditional xenophobia—their traditional hatred of the foreigner—and also their traditional expansionist attitude towards surrounding countries. It has long been the policy of China to expand into other countries in the South and South-East, even though it has not been followed previously by military conquest.
The second factor is their standard Communist belief that the entire world is 1340 against them. Thirdly, the new China, having just emerged, finds herself without an avowed friend in the world, except for Russia, and feels that she is obliged to base her policy very largely on Russia. I do not think that this necessarily makes China a satellite of Russia, although clearly her policy is closely interlinked with Russia at the present time.
Why did China go into Korea? The Foreign Secretary attempted some questions on this point yesterday, and I should also like to contribute to them. In the first place, she was partly actuated by fear. We must remember that, for China, America has to a large extent taken the place of Japan. It is America that China has been fighting for many years, and particularly since the end of the war. It is America that provided Chiang Kai-shek with arms. Therefore, they feel that their greatest potential enemy is America. I am not saying that they are correct in that, but I feel that that is a large part of the reason they have gone into Korea. They were afraid that in Korea a military and ideological base of the West, particularly of the Americans, was going to be set up, and they did not want it to be so close to them.
There is another factor in regard to their movement into Korea, and that is their enormous self-confidence. It has long been the habit of the Chinese to be extremely overweening, believing that they can do almost anything any other country may be able to do. This particularly applies to the new Government that has come into power without any help in their fight against Chiang Kai-shek. There is another important factor in regard to the Chinese attitude to the rest of the world, and that is that she does not fear invasion as much as many other countries do.
The Japanese found themselves almost bogged down in China, for many years. Therefore, the Chinese have been through all this before, I do not think they are as scared of being invaded, by America or the West, as many other countries might be in similar circumstances. The United States have not the two million troops available which the Japanese had.
If China and Russia have decided together on a third world war, there is not very much we can do to stop it. All we can do is to see that, when the war 1341 comes, we so arrange matters as to have world opinion behind us, and that we have as many allies as we can possibly get. But, I believe, as the right hon. Gentleman believes about Russia, that China does not want a third world war, or a major war, with America or the West. I cannot see, from the cogent argument the right hon. Gentleman advanced of self-interest, what possible gain China could have from a major war. The new China has only just come into being, and she has much to consolidate in her own territory. It is rather too early in 12 months to be thinking of expanding herself by conquest. Therefore, there seems to be nothing to be gained from a world war. It should be easy to avoid a war, provided one can get the good will which there must be on both sides.
I would go further than the right hon. Gentleman's statement about not advancing beyond the Korean isthmus, and say that we should now announce that if the Chinese withdraw their troops, we will withdraw to a defensive line in the isthmus beyond which we will not go, and that we will then discuss what should be done in the future about Korea. There should be many possible formula which could be worked out to produce a situation in which a settlement could be effected. There is the well-known buffer zone which has been much talked about, and the possibility of sending out a United Nations Commission to supervise the intervening territory while further arrangements are being made. We must make it clear to China that we have no aggressive intentions towards her, and the important point is that China must be convinced of that.
We should not support the American amendment in the United Nations which names China as an aggressor. The word "aggressor" carries for us far more legal consequences than it does when used by Russia and China against us, when it is merely meaningless verbiage. If we label a country as an aggressor, there are important consequences which must flow from that. At the same time, we should not contemplate leaving Korea, or abandoning, the action the United Nations have undertaken. We should stand firm, but be sensible about it and give China a chance to extricate herself. It must be remembered that the Chinese have carefully avoided committing themselves in any formal sense in regard to the invasion.
1342 We have to see, in everything we do, that we carry world opinion with us. On this particular issue, the greatest responsibility rests with the United States. They wanted, in the first place, to get United Nations support for their action in Korea, and quite rightly so but I do not think they have been as careful to get world opinion with them in everything they have done since. The United States, in their position of supreme responsibility must learn moderation.
This applies to rather more than Korea. It applies, for instance, to us. I have a telegram in my pocket—I dare say many other Members have a similar telegram—in which I am told that unless a further supply of zinc is immediately made available large numbers of people in my constituency will be thrown out of employment. Why is that? It is because, in the face of a threat of war, the United States have carried on what can only be described as a reckless stockpiling programme.
United States stockpiling for war purposes, unless we are very careful, is going to cripple British industry within six months. If British industry is crippled within six months, where goes our rearmament programme, which, after all, is a great integral part of the United States-British association for world peace? But it is not only happening in zinc supplies of sulphur have been running out because most of it has been cornered by the United States. They have been buying soft wood pulp in Scandinavia, supplies which normally come to this country, and the same is happening in regard to wool. All these raw materials are being bought immoderately without any consideration by the United States of America of her principal ally.
Above all, it must be remembered that the association between Britain and America is a great partnership, and in a great partnership both sides must be heard. Both voices are entitled to be equally heard and I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when he calls for the setting up again of some sort of a Joint Chiefs of Staff organisation similar to that which we had during the war.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
On the question of stockpiling, while I agree with the effect that it has 1343 from the point of view of industry in this country, will the hon. Gentleman be very careful to state that it is all countries, and not only the United States, which are rushing to stockpile? The figures for nearly every one of the vital raw materials show perfectly well that it is an ill-ordered rush, not by the United States alone, but by other countries, including Russia, which is causing the trouble.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I see the hon. Member's point, and I do not wish to infer that the Americans alone are doing it; but we must face the fact that they are the principal country in this affair. As they have the greatest buying power, their responsibility is the greatest, and it is up to them to use these responsibilities with moderation and in consultation with their principal ally. I know that all countries are doing this, but the burden of restraint principally falls upon the United States.
I have nothing more to say, other than to express the hope that the Government will continue to use their great influence in Washington—I believe this influence has been considerable—on the lines suggested by the Foreign Secretary yesterday in a very remarkable speech, which I think we all welcomed, and also by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition today. If we are to be realistic, we must recognise that the Anglo-Saxon countries stand or fall together. One cannot go down without bringing the other down, too. This is the greatest association for peace which the world has ever seen. We must see to it that the association stands, and our influence must ensure that in no way is an immoderate policy allowed to endanger and bring us to a third world war.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Hopkinson (Taunton)
I have listened to this debate with great attention, and I have been struck by two things—first, the very great and natural anxiety of the House in regard to the present crisis, and secondly, the deep sincerity which seemed to inspire the speeches in all quarters of the House, together with a genuine desire to find a just and peaceful solution. I should like to assure the House that in anything that I intend to say this afternoon. I am inspired by exactly that same desire. At the same time, I believe it is important to try to dispel any illusions or miscon- 1344 ceptions which may exist in our minds and in the minds of our own people, or, indeed, elsewhere, in regard to any possible eventuality.
It has often been contended that Stalin, unlike Hitler, does not want war. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) just now gave a number of cogent reasons why the Soviet Government should not want war at this time. It was certainly true in the past, and notably in the period immediately after the war, when the terrible losses in manpower and materials caused the Russians to take a breathing space. The question is whether it is, in fact, true today. I doubt whether the answer can be a complete affirmative or a complete negative. My right hon. Friend's argument was that, in spite of the overwhelming conventional military strength of the Soviet Union, her weakness in atomic weapons would make an immediate war unlikely. That may very well he so. It is certainly true that if Russia wanted war, she could have had it many times on terms more favourable to herself than is the case today.
On the other hand, it seems that, in spite of the atomic position, Russia is no longer afraid of a general war. She has already taken one chance when she encouraged the North Koreans to invade South Korea. I imagine that, in her judgment, that was not a very great chance, but it was taking a chance. She took another when she encouraged the Chinese Communists to intervene in Korea also. The risk of open war between China and the United Nations was taken into account presumably by the Chinese and Russian leaders. The possibility of it is still not altogether excluded. In that case Russia, under her treaty with Communist China, would be bound to go to the assistance of her ally if China required her to do so.
China herself, by her action not only in Korea but in Indo-China, has shown that she is prepared to contemplate—I do not say that she wants—a general war. As the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, we can only guess at her intentions. Her general aim seems to be to end all Western influence in Asia and herself to become the dominant power in that Continent. As the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) said yesterday, this eventually may bring her 1345 into a clash with Russia over Manchuria, but for the moment, I think she must be regarded as the instrument of Moscow.
On the short-term view, the numbers of the Chinese forces operating in Korea, or at present in Manchuria, are certainly of such a size as to suggest that the Chinese Government intend to throw the United Nations Forces into the sea. Here I should like to ask the Prime Minister, when he replies to the debate tonight, to give an assurance that our small contingent, which is fighting so gallantly in Korea, and which, according to Press reports, is to play a very vital part in stopping up the gap, has now got everything it requires in the way of reinforcements, equipment and supplies sufficient in fact to maintain it at full fighting efficiency. It is a question of deep concern to all in this House and in the country, and general anxiety has not been diminished altogether by recent answers to Questions in the House.
I should also like to refer to the gallant part which the Turkish Brigade, which has been thrown into the line in Korea, is now playing. It is not, after all, undramatic that this unit of an army, which has been fully mobilised for over 11 years to defend its own territories, should find itself first in action in a distant land fighting in the cause of the United Nations.
The Communist military offensive in the Far East has been matched by the Communist peace offensive in Europe. The so-called World Peace Congress at Warsaw, the Prague Declaration, the Soviet invitation to the Western Allies to open fresh negotiations with Germany must all be regarded as part of one operation. The presence of a Chinese Communist delegation at Lake Success, which we welcome, completes the picture. However, it is not there to answer charges of Chinese intervention, but to make accusations of aggression against America.
Two immediate questions confront the Western Allies. There is, first, the question whether to embark on these further negotiations with the Soviet Government, and if so, on what conditions; secondly, what attitude they and the United Nations as a whole should adopt towards the Chinese Communist intervention in North Korea. In my view, the problems of East and West must be dealt with as a whole. I believe that it would be utterly unrealistic to engage in conversations with 1346 Soviet Russia on Germany or European affairs while the United Nations are being openly flouted by the Chinese in Korea, with the possibilities even of a major military disaster.
In these circumstances, I suggest that any agreement to enter into negotiations should be made conditional upon three things. First, the negotiations must be worldwide in scope; and I understood from the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday that that is the intention of His Majesty's Government. Secondly, in my judgment it must provide for the prior withdrawal of all Chinese Communist forces from North Korea. In return I suggest that the United Nations forces should undertake to remain in their present positions. This is very much the same proposal as the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) has just made in a slightly different form. I suggest, further, that settlement of the question of the vacated territory should be left to the United Nations Korean Commission, to which should be added Russian and Chinese Communist representatives as the interested parties on that frontier.
It might be said that this suggestion, which is also a combination of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) suggested yesterday, does not depend on the Soviet Government alone. I believe, however, that the Russians can properly be expected to use their influence with Mao Tse-tung to ask him to carry out a proposal of this kind. After all, they are the signatories of this extremely close and binding Sino-Soviet treaty. I believe that that influence, if used, would be effective. At the same time, I think that the Chinese Communist Government might reasonably be asked to withhold any further supplies to Viet Nam in Indo-China, and also to hold up operations in Tibet. I think that it would be only reasonable to ask her to do those things.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I have followed the hon. Gentleman with interest, but does he really believe that if we are to enter a conference at this vital juncture we can ask for a conference on all the outstanding problems that now confront the world? Would he not agree that it would be better to take a specific area, Korea and the Chinese issue, and try to tidy up that, rather than have a world conference which, I believe, would collapse because of other issues?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
This seems to me to be a matter of balancing things out. It is a matter of concessions, to some extent, on both sides. My own view is that in a wider conference it would be easier to work these things out, first of all, as I shall try to show, in a four-Power conference, and then to bring in the Chinese at a later stage.
I would propose a third condition, which is that the Soviet Government should be asked to do what they have been in a position to do for years now, and that is to sign the Austrian Peace Treaty at once. They would thus give concrete proof of their good intentions, with all that that involves. The withdrawal of their forces from Roumania and Hungary, with the general détente that would undoubtedly follow in Central Europe, would for the first time be proof of a real intention, showing that they mean business.
I do not suggest that the Chinese Communists should be asked to take part in the negotiations to begin with, but I think that we ought to make it clear to them that these negotiations would include, not only such questions as their recognition by the United States and their admission to the United Nations, but the future of Formosa, the future of Korea, and the future of Tibet—and, indeed, a Japanese Treaty might also be dealt with. Of course, the negotiations would also include the important question of the future of Germany. I, personally, would like to see these same conversations extended to take into account further discussions on the control of atomic energy, on which I do not believe that the Western Powers and the Soviet Union are as far removed as is sometimes thought.
§ Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that a necessary prerequisite to achieving anything in the way of such a basis of agreement with the Chinese Communist Government would be admission of their claim to membership of the United Nations and the Security Council, and disowning any claim of Chiang Kai-shek to Chinese sovereignty or representation?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
As my right hon. Friend said yesterday, we could not accept the Chinese Communists in the United Nations when they are at present flouting the United Nations by their aggression in 1348 Korea. As I have suggested, a prior condition would be a settlement in Korea and the Chinese withdrawal from Korea, and we could then go on to these other practical questions.
§ Mr. Thomas
I agree on that point, but when we reach the stage of bargaining with the Chinese Communist Government, I think that what I have suggested would be essential prerequisites to any form of agreement.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I have tried to suggest that it would not only be a question of her admission to the United Nations, but that the question of Formosa, which is the main bone of contention in this connection, would also be discussed.
We must hope that some such conditions will form the subject of the agenda which is to be discussed in Paris next week, and that they will be accepted by the Soviet Government. I do not think it is asking too much of them, if they are really sincere in their desire for peace, to accept conditions in this way. I believe that if they accepted, they would produce an immediate change in the international climate, and that for once—possibly the first time since the war—there would be a chance of opening the way to a genuine peace.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Davies)
It was thought that it might be convenient if I intervened this afternoon to deal with some of the miscellaneous matters, as it were, which have been raised during the Debate, so that when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister replies he will be able to deal with the larger issues which have been discussed. I, therefore, do not propose to deal with the serious questions of Korea and the Far East, but I shall deal largely with other matters which have been mentioned.
I think that so far during the debate it has been clear that there is little division on the fundamental issues before us, but there is perhaps a difference of opinion between some hon. Members. On the one hand, there are those who think that we are arming today because we consider that war is inevitable, and, on the other hand, there are those who think that rearmament is necessary because by rearming we shall be able to prevent a third world war from coming about.
1349 Yesterday my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo), said that the division was not so much between East and West as between those who thought that war was inevitable and those who thought that it was not. It does not necessarily mean that those who do not think it is inevitable are opposed to the free world arming itself and becoming strong to resist aggression if it becomes necessary. His Majesty's Government belong to the latter group. Far from thinking that war is inevitable, their policy is based on preventing the present conflicts and international tension from extending into a world conflict.
His Majesty's Government take the view that armaments in themselves cannot possibly prevent war, but that in present circumstances to build up a position of strength is unfortunately unavoidable, At no point have His Majesty's Government departed from a belief in collective security as a means of preventing war and as a way of deterring potential aggressors We have never departed from our belief in collective security but we have, through force of circumstances, been driven to accept the necessity of re-arming at the present time. However, by so doing we do not underestimate the difficulties inherent in embarking upon such a huge rearmament programme as we have been compelled to do. After all, when two opposing groups of Powers are armed to the teeth, the danger is necessarily great.
To those who, like His Majesty's Government, regret the necessity today of spending money on arms which could so much more constructively be spent for social and economic purposes, and to those who spoke yesterday and were a little critical of this expenditure, I say that it was not this Government which started the re-armament race. From 1945, when we came into power, and onwards, we cut down expenditure rapidly. Yesterday when the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe), was attacking us for having cut down expenditure on arms so speedily in those early days, I recall that it was Members of the Opposition who were then demanding that we should de- mobilise quicker and reduce our expenditure in that respect faster.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that 1350 when suggestions were made after the war for a speed-up in demobilisation, nobody on this side of the House, least of all my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, suggested that the figure arrived at should be anything like as low as it became.
§ Mr. Davies
The fact remains that we were being pressed to speed up demobilisation at that time. But that now is history, and I do not wish to stir up that old controversy.
§ Mr. Davies
Because of the lack of co-operation in the United Nations, because of the successful expansion of the U.S.S.R. without going to war, because of the threat of further expansion, and because of her growing strength, we were driven to build up a system of collective security on a regional basis among the nations of the free world, and to back this alliance with force. As long as collective security is not universal, regional grouping is essential. It is essential in order to protect against aggression that section of the world which remains free, and to enable it to preserve its democratic way of life.
I think it can safely be said that the policy we have been following has been a deterrent recently to what one might almost call peaceful aggression—aggression without resort to war. No one can deny, for instance, that the Berlin air lift succeeded in halting the U.S.S.R.'s drive to oust the Western countries from Berlin and, ultimately, from Western Germany. Had this stand not been taken at that time, it is quite possible that, consecutively, Communism would have spread further westward to Germany, Italy and France.
Rearmament became necessary in order-that we should back up our collective security on a regional basis with force, and it is within this context that there have been some discussions concerning the question of German rearmament during, the debate of these last two days. We can all appreciate the reluctant acceptance of German rearmament with all its potential dangers. No one accepts the neces- 1351 sity for German rearmament without considerable regret and reluctance, but it is believed that the change in circumstances has made it necessary.
One reason is that we do not want to have to liberate the Continent again. We want to be on the Continent as protectors and to ensure, if the worst came to the worst and there was war, that there would be resistance against the enemy on the continent of Europe. After all, if enemy forces succeeded in reaching the Channel Ports again, the position of this country would clearly be untenable and the situation would be very different from what it was in 1940, which was bad enough.
The huge cost of modern defence in both men and materials requires now, in the view of His Majesty's Government, some German rearmament. Fears have been expressed that it will be extremely difficult to prevent the re-emergence of German militarism. The suggested integration of the German units inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation—the German units being organised up to a certain level, but without a German general staff—is thought to provide the answer.
This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) referred once more to the question of a European Army I would remind him that the Foreign Secretary yesterday did not rule out altogether the possibility of a European Army being fitted into the pattern of Atlantic defence, provided that there was no delay in building up Western defences and no danger of weakening the security of the Atlantic Powers. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, time may be short, and we cannot take any risk of there being a delay in building up the North Atlantic Treaty forces.
It has been suggested by hon. Friends behind me that, if German units are created, it will be impossible to prevent the emergence of a German national army and a recurrence of German militarism; that as a German military machine is again built up, there may be pressure to regain the Eastern countries, and that this would create a dangerous situation on the Continent. We understand these grave doubts which have been expressed. but, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign 1352 Secretary stated yesterday, the proposals now under consideration specifically avoid, and, indeed, prohibit, the recreation of the German general staff or, which is equally important, a German Army on the old Wehrnzacht model.
None the less, it can be, and is, argued that it will be impossible to enforce any limitation upon the Germans once the initial steps are taken. An hon. Friend behind me stated yesterday that these steps would be followed by the creation of Panzer divisions and that they would then roll across Europe again, and that the Luftwaffe would be flying again, and I believe that a distinguished German general who participated in the control over Germany after the 1914–18 War was quoted in support of this theory. [HON. MEMBERS: "A British general."] I am sorry—a British general. I suggest that those who adopt this line of thought are not only being unduly pessimistic, but are victims of the theory that history repeats itself.
There is a very great distinction, I think, between what happened in the 1920's and what is happening now. In those days Germany was treated by the Western Allies as the most dangerous potential enemy and as a sort of pariah among nations. If we were to adopt the same system again, I have no doubt that we would produce the same results. This time, however, we are acting in a different spirit. Together with the Allies, we have embarked upon a process of reintegrating Germany into the democratic framework of Western Europe.
This is a gradual process. Five years ago we allowed the Germans to have governments in the Laender, and 16 months ago we encouraged them to set up the Federal Government. Since then we have been engaged in bringing Germany once more into international relations and proposing her for membership of the various international clubs—for example, the Council of Europe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and so on.
It was inevitable that on this course of development Germany would one day take part in the duties of defending this western way of life, of which she forms an integral part. The process has been hurried by the rapid growth of the menace from the East, and we are combining appropriate safeguards with the principle 1353 of German participation. We think that these are genuine safeguards. The final safeguard, however, is that Germany should feel herself a partner in the Western comity of nations and should form the habit of acting within that framework. I suggest, therefore, that those who talk or think of the dangers of German militarism should try to think of Germany as emerging as a new Germany, and one which can be brought into the comity of nations in Europe and can assist Europe in defending its democratic way of life.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
Is the prosecution of German generals to continue? Are we to ask Germans to wear uniform and then to say that we are going to prosecute those who are still awaiting trial?
§ Mr. Davies
The prosecution of German generals stopped a long time ago. There was a Question in the House concerning this only last week, when I gave the information that this had stopped, as far as the British zone was concerned, two or three years ago—in 1947, I think.
As regards the suggested Four Power meeting, which has received considerable discussion during the debate and has received a very large measure of support, it appears from all that has been said that the House agrees that the constructive approach, outlined yesterday by my right hon. Friend, is the right approach. As for those interesting suggestions which have been put forward, and which were put forward both by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) yesterday and by the Leader of the Opposition today, I do not propose to comment on them in detail now. The points which have been made, however, will be taken into full consideration by my right hon. Friend when instructions are being prepared for our representatives at the Three-Power conversations in Paris.
Now I come to Austria. So far as Austria is concerned, it is quite correct to say that the Treaty, for all practical purposes, is complete; but as far as we are aware, there is no readiness on the part of the Soviet to sign it or to carry out its provisions. That readiness and willingness to carry out these provisions would not only be a great relief to Austria itself, but would contribute greatly towards easing the political situation in Eastern 1354 Europe. We hope, therefore, that if there is success in bringing about these Four-Power meetings, the question of Austria will finally be resolved.
Hon. Members will share the regret of the Government that this has not yet been possible, but it will have been seen that on 10th and 22nd November, we and the French and United States Governments protested to the Soviet Government against the action of the Soviet authorities during recent Communist-inspired disturbances in Austria. We have noted with admiration the cool and resolute manner in which the Austrian Government and people behaved during those disturbances.
It remains the policy of His Majesty's Government to alleviate, as far as possible in present circumstances, the burden of our occupation of Austria, and to this end we have just decided to build a block of 100 flats for our married troops in Austria, so that further accommodation may be released for the civilian population. Strong representation has been made to us over some months regarding the necessity for releasing requisitioned premises, and I think that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington was made well aware of this when he was recently in that country.
Building up our position of strength puts us in a far better position to negotiate—and negotiation, as has been pointed out frequently during the debate, is better from strength than from weakness. Even so, much more is required than just building up military strength. The free world must, I think all would agree, not only act responsibly, but must win respect from others and inspire emulation in others, that by our example and through the mutual help which we give to others the democracies may demonstrate that they have more to offer to the peoples of the world than have the totalitarian countries.
The democratic countries can offer economic and political development combined with the maintenance of liberty and freedom. This economic contribution which the democracies are striving to make is, as it were, the counterpart to this military preparedness and is, so to speak, the other side of the medal. Unfortunately, in the present state of international tension the constructive aspects, which depend unfortunately upon 1355 the existence of destructive elements to enable progress to continue, are somewhat lost sight of.
The hon. Member for Windsor said yesterday that the Colombo Plan must not be considered as a substitute for rearmament. It is equally important that military preparedness and military action are not considered as a substitute for political and economic development. Economic strength through co-operation is as important as, if not more important than, military strength, not only because there cannot be the latter without it, but because it enables communities to enjoy improving standards of life which assist social and political development. That is the best answer to the Communist appeal—the economic and social improvement of communities.
Further, the free world can, and must, satisfy the natural nationalistic aspirations for self-government of the less developed areas of the world. It is necessary, if we are to make our appeal and get the support of those countries which are still undeveloped in comparison with the West, that we should demonstrate that the free world can provide as satisfactory a way of life as that which The Russian-dominated Communist world promotes.
Indo-China has been referred to once or twice in the debate. In Indo-China the struggle for independence has been long and hard, but this week we did witness there, in spite of the difficult military situation which still prevails, an important contribution to the achievement of full independence of the Associated States of Indo-China. This was at the closing of the Pau Conference, and His Majesty's Government welcomed the declaration made by M. Letourneau, the Minister for the Associated States, at the close of the Conference on Monday this week. This, he said, carried the Associated States much further along the road to complete independence, which is the agreed objective, by their independence within the French Union. This policy, which the French National Assembly have approved, according to him, would be continued energetically, boldly and with elasticity and would only be retarded by any difficulties which the States themselves might meet. But the development towards full independence did not end 1356 with the ending of the Pau Conference. It has been carried on by according national armies and by establishing a measure of representation abroad which will rightly help to achieve full independence in those States.
Another matter which has been raised concerns the Middle East. Considerable debate took place yesterday concerning Egypt, and my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South, was concerned with the wider area of the Middle East. Much that was said from the benches opposite concerning Egypt would be shared by hon. Members on this side of the House, and the Foreign Secretary has made it quite clear how we stand in regard to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. There is no question whatsoever that it can be unilaterally abrogated. On that my right hon. Friend has made his position quite clear. It cannot be abrogated by one of the parties. But we do think that, if revision is called for, it can be agreed upon and can be reached, provided that the parties who go into the talks which are about to start do so in the spirit of looking, not at Egypt in isolation, but at the question of the defence of the whole of the Middle East. In that way we think some solution to the present difficulties could be found and that a revision of the Treaty, or its substitution by something else, is still possible.
My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South, suggested that His Majesty's Government were not doing all they could in the Middle East in an attempt to bring about a settlement between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. He suggested that if we were really determined about it, it could be achieved within a fortnight. I would remind my hon. Friend that Jordan is an independent State and that King Abdullah is a constitutional monarch, ruling through his Council of Ministers, and that while King Abdullah has been a most loyal friend of this country and there are obligations for collective defence which he has undertaken under the Treaty, it would be contrary to our interests, as well as to our practice, to endeavour, by cutting his subsidy, to force him into a course of action which he or his Council of Ministers were disinclined to adopt. I cannot understand why it is that, when we are giving assistance to other countries, we are sometimes asked to impose 1357 conditions upon that assistance, but when it is a question of assistance being given to us and when there is any suspicion that conditions may be attached, there is considerable objection. It seems to me that, although the size of the problem is entirely different, the principle applies in each case.
Another matter which was raised, and which I think can be briefly disposed of, is that of Chinese representation in the United Nations. In reply to the doubts expressed by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington about the desirability and wisdom of still supporting the admission of the representatives of the Chinese People's Government into the various organs of the United Nations, I think I can make our view clear by saying that the State of China is under the Charter of the United Nations, a Member of the United Nations and nothing can change that. China is a Member of the United Nations and what is in dispute is who should represent China at the present time.
In our view, and it is unquestionable, the People's Government of China is the effective Government of China and the Nationalist representatives there today do not represent anything but a small section of the Chinese people. If it were suggested that the representatives of the People's Government should not represent China in the United Nations, as long as that situation prevails it means that hundreds of millions of Chinese are going without true representation in the United Nations. When a country is legally a member of that body we cannot judge by its actions who shall represent it. The question is not who shall represent that country according to the way in which they behave. As long as China is a member under the Charter, she has to be represented by her true representatives on the organs of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
Is it the view of the Government that now, despite everything, China should be admitted at this moment? I want to know where we are.
§ Mr. Davies
Certainly. Our view is that the true representatives of China should be sitting in the Council of the United Nations because thereby it might be far easier to speak to, to discuss and negotiate with the true representatives of China 1358 within the United Nations than to have to bring them there, as we have succeeded in doing, to discuss simply one issue, the issue of Formosa.
§ Mr. Eden
The Minister of Health says, "They have not changed." I thought that while acts of aggression were going on, it was not proposed to press for their admission. It does require a vote and is not automatic. We have to vote and I would find it very difficult to vote for the admission of China while they are behaving in this way.
§ Mr. Davies
I fully appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's point of view on that issue. The stand I am taking on behalf of His Majesty's Government is that we consider it would be preferable if they were there now, but if the question comes up on the vote, that is a matter which has to be decided on its merits at the time. I am not committing—
§ Mr. Eden
I do not want to be unfair. I quite understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying about the past, and that if they had been there, it would have been better. What I want to be clear about is that the Government are not pressing at this instant at U.N.O. for a vote to put them in. If so, we are agreed.
§ Mr. Davies
It does not arise at the moment. There is no question of a vote at U.N.O. at present. If it comes up, obviously a decision will be taken at the time.
I have covered some of the points which have been raised so far during the debate. As I said at the outset, the larger issues can be dealt with in the winding-up speeches tonight. Our approach to all these problems, and our objectives, are those shared by all Members of this House—the prevention of any conflict or international tension at present, and the preservation of peace so that the democratic way of life in the free world can be preserved. This debate has shown that in that respect we are united, and to that extent the debate has certainly served a most useful purpose.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)
I do not intend to detain the House for very long, because I know there are so many other Members who wish to speak, and also because I always strive to observe the very wise maxim which we all can see carved over a door in this House:He that hath knowledge spareth his words:I sometimes think it is a pity that that motto is not more often acted upon by Members of this House.
We have had an interesting debate, which is now in its second and concluding day. It is perfectly clear that all of us in this House, to whatever party we may belong, are deeply conscious of the desperately dangerous situation that now exists, and are all anxious in one way or another to do nothing that makes it worse. I belong to a generation which can remember when Russia was always our great menace, when we were more nervous of a Russian attack upon India than we were of anything else. It was not until the German menace came near and closer to us all that we ceased to have that continual fear of a Russian war. Territorial expansion has been the policy of Russia ever since the days of Ivan the Great. We all know that the present Government in Russia have adopted that intensely nationalistic policy of the Czars, and have acted upon it ever since they have been in power. We always thought that Russia's policy was dictated by the acquisitive Czars, monarchs and despots, but unfortunately the Communist successors of the Czar have proved even more aggressive and ambitious in their foreign policy.
It is clear that our difficulties since the war, and the present lamentable state of affairs, are almost entirely due to the policy of Moscow. I share, with all Members of the House, a deep sympathy for the Foreign Secretary, who is having to cope with that state of affairs. My own view is that he has succeeded as well as any man could in the difficult position in which he has found himself. My only complaint against him is that he has weakened his own chances of success by allowing our own military weakness. I remember the attitude he took up when a member of the Coalition Government 1360 during the war, when, in the course of some debate it was asserted that the Tory Party were responsible for our state of unpreparedness before 1939. The Foreign Secretary was good enough to state that the Tories were not the only people to blame. He added that one thing about which he had made up his mind was that never again would we be found in a position of unpreparedness if he could help it.
I cannot feel that the position today bears out very effectively the Foreign Secretary's attitude in that respect. Our complaint against the Government, as has been said in this debate, is that we are so intensely weak militarily at a time when we ought to be strong, and that so much money has been spent on our defence organisation with so little effect. That is our grievance against the Government.
We now have to face the fact that at any moment the cold war may develop into a real war, and that we are not ready; and that until we can bring into existence a sufficiently well-equipped and large enough force to defend Western Europe, we are at the mercy of the Russians and any other pepoles who choose to associate themselves with them in a war on the Continent. I do not believe it to be too much of an exaggeration to say that, as things are, the enemy could be on the English Channel within a very short time of the start of his advance. If that is the case, we have every reason to try to re-arm ourselves as quickly as possible, and no one can possibly blame us for so doing. That is the best way to defend this country against possible aggression.
I did not quite gather from what the Under-Secretary of State has just said what is the position of Germany in the defence of Western Europe. We are apt to forget that Germany is now cut in two, and that, if we are to believe what we read in the Press, there is already in existence in the Eastern part of Germany a German Communist army which may march with the Russians should war begin. What is to happen then? Do we anticipate that we shall find the Germans fighting each other? Do we think that the Germans intend to have a civil war on top of everything else? Has any assurance been given by the Western German Government that they will take 1361 part in a European Army or whatever it may be called?
Our task is somehow or other to bring the Germans into the Western European Union. I have realised that and have advocated it in this House. It is indispensable. We cannot possibly defend Western Europe unless we have Germany on our side against the Russians. Therefore, I say it is the task of the Government to do what they can to influence the attitude of Western Germany in favour of taking part in Western European defence. So far as I know, nothing has been done in that matter. Only the Government can tell us whether there have been any definite negotiations with the Western German Government and what is the present situation.
There is also the question of the French reaction to the rearming of Germany. We see in the Press that the French Government have laid it down that there are to be no German formations in the European Army, and that, if there are to be Germans, they must be broken up in small groups. Will the Germans accept this? If so, well and good. But I do not suppose for a second that they will accept it. Why should they? They are not likely to come to any kind of terms on that question which will belittle them in any degree.
Then, what about the Americans? If the French do not agree to the Germans being in the Atlantic Army, and the Americans insist, again I ask, what will be the position? Time is running out. That is what I wish to point out. We cannot go on shilly-shallying. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the deputy-leader of the Opposition, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). Everything depends upon our setting up in Europe a system of defence as quickly as we can in conjunction with the Americans. The best way in which that can be done is for us to get in closer touch with Washington. I should like to see the Prime Minister start tomorrow, if he could get ready in time, and I should like him to take with him my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) or my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington. I should like to see set up once again that direct personal contact between the leading 1362 statesmen and leaders of the Services of our two countries which brought such successful results in the last war.
A gesture of that kind, the fact that our leading statesmen were going to Washington, would of itself make our opponents throughout the world realise that we were as determined as we were in the last war to stand up to any aggression, and that we would work together in the common interests of the two great nations to which we belong and in the interests of the world at large. We cannot depend upon affairs being run as they are being run now by the United Nations Assembly. It is obvious that a body of that kind cannot successfully control and carry out all the minutiæ of strategy entailed in the conduct of war.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell me whether he and his party are now saying that the United Nations organisation should not be the basis of our approach to these colossal problems? That is what I have gathered. What would take place if we accepted his proposals?
§ Sir C. Headlam
I can easily answer that question, and I am glad that the hon. Member asked it. The United Nations organisation serves a great and useful purpose. It should be the basis for the whole of the general policy of the world, but when we come to running a particular campaign or a state of affairs such as exists today in Korea, when there is a direct cleavage of opinion in the Assembly and in the Council itself, how can it act satisfactorily?
§ Mr. Davies
That makes idiotic our objections to Russia when we say that they ignore the United Nations.
§ Sir C. Headlam
I do not understand what the hon. Member means. I am merely explaining my point of view. We do not all think alike, and it is as well that everybody should express his opinion. My opinion is that, so long as the United Nations are an association of nations working together for a common cause, all should be well: but when the Assembly is split and aggression has been committed, it is not a suitable body to conduct a campaign. It is clear today that we have the Western nations, the democracies, on one side, and the other nations, the Communist nations, on the other, and the 1363 cleavage is so great that each must take its own line. Whether the peace of the world can be maintained depends upon the wisdom and good sense of the Governments of the Great Powers concerned.
Unless we are prepared to take the advice of the right hon. Member for Woodford and to get into close touch with the United States, to allow nothing to come between us to break that union, we are heading for a great deal of trouble, and the third world war which people talk about may become a reality.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
I have waited for almost 20 years before being called by the Chair to speak in a debate of this description. I have taken part in other debates. I have looked round this new Parliament and have seen budding aspirants for notoriety jumping up one after the other in an endeavour to speak, and I thought that I ought to say a few words. I will tell them that there is hope for those who do not catch Mr. Speaker's eye tonight. If they wait for 21 years, they have a chance. I may be asked what right I have to enter into this debate or to criticise in the House of Commons. I have a family of six, most of whom served in the last two wars, and I have 13 grandchildren. The people in my neighbourhood are mostly engaged in the service of the nation. I have lived among them for 70 years, and I think that I have the right to say that I am speaking on their behalf.
This is not an academic discussion. This is something more than a mere controversy between the different "isms" in the House of Commons. This is a realistic debate on a state of affairs which is very dangerous. There are times when it is necessary to call a spade a spade; there are times when silence is golden, and it is necessary not to speak too plainly about the evils which surround us. When I think of the tragedy of the last two wars, of the maimed and crippled and the destitution and the poverty caused in the industrial areas of the country, I view the approaching crisis with grave doubts.
I was very pleased yesterday when I heard the wonderfully tactful manner in which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) 1364 approached this subject. The corridors of this House are like a listening gallery, and those who are silent are able to learn many things. I have learned many things, and it would be much better if those who had spoken had learned their lesson also. At times I have wondered what country I was in, and whether we were defending this country or some other nation; and I have had my doubts. I should like to hear more patriotic expressions about the defence of our own land rather than the talk about other lands to which one has only been on a Cook's visit.
I have been up the Danube, in Budapest and in Germany, but I still long for the Merseyside and a breath of the Atlantic rather than for the Continent. There I feel that I am at home where we have a liberty which is denied in other parts of the world. When we talk about liberty in its fullest sense, it is necessary to know what it stands for. There is liberty of conscience here. There is religious liberty here. Jews and Gentiles have the opportunity of free expression and equality in this House. Whether one is the son of a peer or the son of a docker, this House of Commons offers an opportunity second to none of the Parliaments of the world. I am proud to belong to a Parliament such as this.
I feel I have a responsibility to those whom I represent, to my God and to my country, because I am not able to accept the ideology of the Karl Marx philosophy. I want it to be understood in this House that I believe in freedom of speech, and in the right of other people to be able to express their opinions freely and honestly in regard to the things which they believe. Therefore, I stand here today, without apology, to say how I feel in regard to the threatened war.
There may be war; indeed, everything points to war. There were rumblings in 1914 that were a definite indication of what was coming. In preparation, the Fleet went out long before the storm broke, which showed that, in the minds of the counsellors of the nation, there was a clear idea of what was happening. We have talked about Rasputin and the Czar and also about the knout in Russia. We talk about a dynasty disappearing. Why, all round about us in our time, we see dynasties disappearing and a new orientation coming into operation. 1365 Mussolini disappeared, "Mein Kampf" Hitler passed out, and Alsace-Lorraine is now almost forgotten by the French nation.
When it comes to the question of the unification of the forces of Europe for the protection of mankind, however, we still have French doubts. The fear of a Napoleon is no longer in existence, but the fact remains that there are still doubts in the minds of the French nation, and there will be, until we can get confidence into the nations of Europe. It is no use discussing political matters until we have got co-operation, and I am unable to understand why, when we have these common difficulties which beset all the nations of Europe, there is no unity among them and why they do not pull together. Whether they like it or not, the mighty avalanche of Russia is creeping along, slowly but surely, and it will wipe them out if they do not quickly make up their minds which way they want to go.
We are living in a new generation and a new epoch. History is marking a time the like of which has never been known before. It is no use talking about peace and security today. Why, 20, 30 or 40 years ago, we were in a dream, but we were playing Rip van Winkle, and we are not in a dream today. In nine hours one can be in America, and the position today is that we are moving along at the rate of 600 miles an hour. We have annihilated space and brought Asia closer and closer to the people of this country, but it is no use our text-book man coming along here and making a little distribution of tracts in regard to the enormity of one Minister or another. We think we are facing reality and understanding, but we are not.
Palestine became a nation and India passed away as a mighty Empire. Where are we today? What is the use of talking about friends? We require all the friends we can get, because we cannot beat millions of people, and we have got to have security and confidence. We have also got to have faith, the sort of faith which I can only find in the English-speaking races. Although some discreditable remarks have been passed about America. I am fully convinced that, unless we get the help of America, and unless America is well insured by receiving our help—let us make no mistake about it—both nations will go down and a new 1366 civilisation will come, just as, many years ago, the Eastern nations of the world were overrun by savage tribes.
We are in a new epoch and at a critical stage, when men will have to begin to think. People read history, and history repeats itself. Napoleons, Hitlers and Mussolinis come and go, but the question for this country is: where are our people going, and what are they going to do? If they have no proper organisation and proper protection, if bombs are again to fall regularly night by night, as they did in the last war, the people of this country will wonder what their representatives have been doing, and, because of that, I want to see proper preparation made in a properly organised fashion. I am convinced that we are in danger, and any man who thinks his home is in danger tries to protect himself. He insures and sees that his home and family are properly protected.
The protection that I want to see is such as will enable my wife and children and all that I possess, along with others who live round about me, to enjoy proper security, backed by complete unity amongst our people. When I look upon those benches and hear this talk about Russia, it sickens me; honestly, it does. It sickens me to hear so much being said about Russia, and hardly any question of the security of our own homes. I say that people who first study and understand properly the history of their own country might then be able to understand something of the problems of other peoples elsewhere.
I wanted to speak my mind and I wanted to be honest with this House. The time may come when we may not want to speak too much, when action will have to be taken, and I want to see, before then, the resuscitation of the unity of the English-speaking peoples to preserve the benefits which they have received from time immemorial. I am delighted today to have found the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in agreement. and, to the Leader of the Opposition, I would use an Irish phrase—"Céad Míle Faílte"—which means "A thousand blessings on your birthday," which is most appropriate for today. I hope that all in this House will realise that the unity of the free world is now our most important problem.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Brigadier Smyth (Norwood)
The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) spoke with obvious sincerity and great eloquence, and I think he has stated a great many fundamental truths, with which I am in entire agreement.
When the Foreign Secretary opened the debate yesterday, he told us that, in view of the gravity of the situation and the essentially national character of this debate, he would welcome constructive suggestions regarding the situation which faces us today. I propose, in the short time I am going to address the House, to try to make some constructive suggestions directly related to the problem facing us. We all realise that the situation is a very grave one, and that it has deteriorated considerably since our last debate on foreign affairs. Therefore, I think this is a very appropriate moment to overhaul our machinery generally and to see if anything with regard to our foreign affairs organisation that we are doing at the moment can be improved.
As the Foreign Secretary said, it is difficult to know at the present time whether the fact that we are actually at war with the Communists in two or three parts of the world is an accident or in accordance with the general trend of events, or whether it is the result of a definite plan on the part of Russia, and possibly China, to draw the forces of the Western nations into the Far East so that they may be enabled to strike a vital blow at us in Europe. No one can say which of those alternatives is true, but, whichever it is, I suggest that our course of action should be entirely the same.
We should at all costs re-affirm our determination to prevent another world war from starting. War starts either by intent or by accident. We cannot, perhaps, prevent a war which starts by intent, but let us be sure that we prevent another world war starting by accident. Let us be very certain that we know what we are doing, and that Russia is left in no doubt of what we are doing and what we mean.
If we are going to prevent another world war then we must make it absolutely clear to the whole world what we stand for and what our object is, and then, possibly, the danger that we fear may never happen. I am all for nego- 1368 tiation at the highest level on an agreed plan. I think we should never give up the possibility of settling these high matters by negotiation at the very highest level, and I suggest that any form of what one might call "cloak and dagger" diplomacy is utterly out of date at the present time. If we are going to prevent a war, we must make our object clear. Above all, as I have said, for Heaven's sake do not let us drift into war, as I believe we are in danger of doing at the present moment.
It is important, I think, that we should not remain on the defensive as we are at present and be continually plugging the next hole that Russia or China creates. Until we can get away from that situation we shall not make any great progress towards the preservation of peace. There is a great need at the present moment for vital and dynamic British leadership. Nobody is going to suffer more from another world war than the British and the nations of Western Europe. We cannot afford to sit back in this situation.
Failure to avert another world war would mean for America that life would become extremely uncomfortable in a very troubled world, but for us in Britain it would mean the road to dusty death and an end to all our hopes of progress and the improvement of our conditions and standard of life generally. Personally, I do not believe that another world war is inevitable, but I feel very convinced that whether another world war comes upon us or not is entirely in our own hands. We can prevent it or we can make it a probability.
I should like now to point to one or two danger spots to world peace and to make some constructive suggestions in regard to them. I will take Korea first of all because, obviously, that is the gravest situation of all facing us at the moment. One or two speakers opposite, I think, have been very ungenerous to our American Allies and to General MacArthur in particular. When things are going badly for them it is the last occasion on which we should be overcritical. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) pointed out in his speech, the Americans have made a very great sacrifice in blood and money in our cause, and had it not been for their prompt action in Korea 1369 the situation might have been very much worse than it is even today.
However, I say very definitely that it is extremely important that the soldier should be the servant of the politician, and not the other way round. That has always been our policy. It was our policy throughout the last war, and I am quite certain it should continue to be so whether our troops are serving directly under a British commander or under a United Nations commander. The Foreign Secretary told us that General MacArthur was operating within a United Nations plan. I was very glad to hear that because I am quite certain that that is right, but I must say that I should have liked to see that United Nations directive which General MacArthur was given. I wonder whether Russia or China were clear about what we were doing, because I think that in this particular situation it was important that they should both have been clear.
I am not excusing the Chinese for the action they took in Korea or in Tibet, but I should like to say this from my own experience with regard to the feeling of tension that always exists on a land frontier, particularly at a time when a war is in progress on one side of the frontier. I remember very well that I once had the temerity to go and examine a part of the Italian-Yugoslav frontier at a time of considerable tension between those two countries. It was entirely my own funeral—or very nearly was—and although I was welcomed with open arms by the Italians when I arrived and by the Yugoslavs when I went over to them, the trouble was that I had to get back home through Italy, and I was extremely lucky not to end up in an Italian fortress.
But I did realise very strongly, and I have never forgotten, what tension does exist on a land frontier of that sort. I can imagine nothing more trying to any nation than to have a force of some 200,000 men advancing on the frontier, particularly, as in this case, where there are valuable hydro-electric plants on the Yalu River, about which the Chinese feel sensitive. I have a slight fellow-feeling for the Chinese because, in our time of trial at the beginning of the Burma campaign, they came to our assistance and rendered us very valuable help. We should not write them right off as completely 1370 hostile without making a considerable effort to see if they cannot be the reverse.
General MacArthur said two days ago, when this army of 200,000 Chinese came upon his right flank, "This is the beginning of a new war." I urge that either the Prime Minister, or another very senior Minister from the Government, should go to Washington as early as may be to make certain that our point of view is put across that this must be the beginning of a new peace.
§ Mr. Baxter
I agree, as I think so many of us agree, that the point my hon. and gallant Friend has raised is absolutely right but, if the Prime Minister went, should he not be accompanied by someone like my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), for instance, with his vast experience? Is not this a time, without forming a Coalition, when we should act together in foreign affairs?
§ Brigadier Smyth
I would agree entirely with that point, but that is a matter for the Prime Minister to decide. The Americans have General Marshall back as their Secretary of State for Defence, and I think we do feel the lack in America at the moment of another Field-Marshal Sir John Dill. I urge the Prime Minister to try and re-create another Field-Marshal Dill who could represent this country with General Marshall as Field-Marshal Dill did so effectively.
I want to make one point about Malaya. I feel that there is a distinct danger of our allowing the war in Malaya to become a habit, of allowing it just to go drifting along and to become an accepted thing. I have seen that happen on the North-West Frontier of India where it was generally accepted that there always was a war, and the war went on and no one thought of devising any means of stopping it. I am certain that any form of ulcer or festering sore is bad for the body politic, and it is certainly bad for the United Nations. We must make a great effort to settle this war in Malaya and not let it go drifting on. I do not know what General Briggs advised when he came home the other day, but. I hope the Prime Minister can tell us something about Malaya which, as far as I have heard, has not been mentioned 1371 at all in this debate. It is a country which is important to us, and we ought to know what is happening there.
I want to turn now to India and Pakistan, which were mentioned most effectively yesterday from the other side of the House by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who made a most excellent and constructive speech about parts of the world of which, obviously, he had great experience. I feel that this area of South-East Asia, which was an area of strength, is now an area of very great weakness. It is an area of weakness because India and Pakistan have their eyes so rivetted on their quarrel over Kashmir that they simply cannot get away from that particular locality. As we all know, they have appealed to the United Nations in vain. Neither Mr. Nehru nor the Prime Minister of Pakistan is prepared to give way an inch. Here, again, I urge the Prime Minister that His Majesty's Government should try and take a hand, because I believe that we are the only people that could do so.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that the Prime Minister of Pakistan has invited the Prime Minister of India to go to meet him to discuss these matters, and that the Prime Minister of India has accepted that invitation? Should we not give all the encouragment possible to the solution of the problem between those two Prime Ministers?
§ Brigadier Smyth
I am grateful for that interruption, but I am also aware that that has happened three or four times before, and similar notes have been exchanged.
§ Brigadier Smyth
Well, nothing whatever comes of these exchanges of notes and meetings, and, just as I have said that Malaya has become a habit, I am afraid that, if we do not watch it, the difference of opinion over Kashmir will also become a habit. There is no doubt that if the Foreign Secretary could resolve that quarrel, which is a very lamentable one between parts of the Commonwealth, it would mean an immediate accession of strength to our cause of possibly four divisions.
1372 I am certain that, had there not been this difference of opinion between India and Pakistan today, the war in Korea would never have started. We should remember that, before the war, there would be always three or four divisions in India, ready to move at short notice to put out a small cinder, which was all the war in Korea appeared to be right at its very beginning. It is very important that we should pay attention to this particular area, because, if we do not, the Russians will; and we can see that it was as a direct result of the weakness in this area that the Communist invasion of Tibet and the trouble in Nepal came about.
On the subject of Egypt and Africa, we welcome the Foreign Secretary's very firm statement of policy. A great deal has been said about that, and I am not going to say any more. But I want to look further south and repeat words I have said several times in this House. When are we going to try and raise one or two colonial divisions, as we did in the war, to help out our British manpower? I am absolutely certain that, if a war came upon us, the first thing we should do would be to raise two East and West African divisions, as we did in the last war. But it is more important to do these things to save a war from ever happening than it is to do them to help us win a war when we have one.
Lastly, I come to Europe, about which so much has already been said. It is still the real powder magazine of this situation. It is regrettable that the Western Powers should be talking still about what they are going to do in Western Europe with, as far as I know, not a single division having started to form. I urge very strongly that the time is not on our side and that we should try and cut out the conferences and discussions and get started with the formation of an Atlantic Pact Defence force in Western Europe. I agree entirely with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington said with regard to a European Army. I do not think we should quibble too much about what form it should take. If the French and Germans want it to be a European Army within an Atlantic Army we should try and meet their wishes and not try to force them into an organisation they do not like. The great thing is to get started with it.
1373 As to the German contribution, I feel very strongly that we cannot keep Germany down for ever. There obviously must come a time when we shall bring Germany back and give her a certain amount of self-respect if we want her to contribute to our cause. I do not think we can do it by force. We can do it only by good will, and I think that so long as we do not allow Germany any general staff, an air force, weapons and munitions supply, we could exercise all the control that we want. If we do not enlist Germany to our aid, I am absolutely certain that we shall be unable to defend Western Europe effectively. The essence of European defence is speed, and I think our slogan might be taken from Macbeth:If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere wellIt were done quickly.I am certain that 20 divisions in Western Europe by the end of 1952 would he worth 30 divisions ready by 1953.
Finally, I believe that another world war is not inevitable, and I believe that there is a great danger of our drifting into war haphazard and of a war coming upon us by accident. I believe there is a greater danger of that happening at the moment than of a war by intent. I would urge upon the Prime Minister to be completely frank with the British people about the gravity of the danger which is facing the country today. If he will do this and do his utmost to bind tighter the ties of Empire, America and Western Europe within the framework of the United Nations—then I think we can face with equanimity and confidence whatever may befall.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
I think that all who have spoken in this debate so far have spoken with a full realisation of the gravity of the situation. The contribution by the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Brigadier Smyth) was especially welcome, chiefly because he has a distinguished Army record, and I think it will be agreed that he has done very little sabre rattling. I was a little afraid when he mentioned Macbeth, and when he left that point quickly he did so to my satisfaction.
The issue at stake is perhaps wider than one of foreign policy. If the decisions which have to be taken in the next few weeks are decisions of an irrevocable 1374 nature, then we are indeed discussing the whole future of humanity, and in this respect we must realise that the future of humanity is at stake. I know that the Chinese action in Korea has aggravated the situation which at one time gave rise to hopes that a settlement would be quickly made. To what extent there is justification in the Chinese fears of the possible violation of her frontier and the hydro-electric installations on the Yalu river, what justification there is in her fears of the United Nations enforcement of measures which might be detrimental to her national life, none of us at this stage can tell. But it has been realised on both sides of the House during the last two days that the position should have been stabilised at the "wasp line" and negotiations entered into and a possible agreement reached.
I do not take the view that the Chinese people as such are Communists, or, for that matter, that the Russian people as such are Communists. I think they have followed the first true lead that has been given to them to drag them out of their abject poverty. I believe that the matriarchal, patriarchal and ancestral systems which are inherent in all Chinese, are so ingrained that eventually they will not lend themselves to a political system of Communism. The decision which the Western democracies must take is a big one, and it is whether the present Chinese Communist policy is one of national sovereignty or a policy of internationalism. If, as I am led to believe, the Chinese are concerned only with building up their economy and their life within their own borders, there are great hopes that peace will be established throughout the whole of the world for decades.
I am convinced that Stalin will not attempt any adventures against the Western democracies unless he is absolutly sure of the might of China's 450 million people behind him. It is to this end that our efforts in the diplomatic field should be furthered. There is, I think, a great deal to be done in deciding whether China can be won permanently to the side of world peace by direct diplomatic negotiations. The Foreign Secretary in his speech asked for suggestions and said that he would give them favourable consideration. I believe that what is desired is a full-scale diplomatic intervention led chiefly by the British Foreign Office, in 1375 an effort—we must face this—to divide Communist China from Soviet Russia. I think it can be done if the job is tackled in the right way.
As far as I know, there are two conflicting leaders of China. One we know, Mao Tse-tung, is in the foreground, though it is difficult to find people who have had contact with this man or who know him personally. I am informed, however, from two sources that he is a man who is willing to listen to reason. The other personality is a man who keeps in the background and is, perhaps, more in line with Soviet policy than Mao Tse-tung; I refer to the Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Stalin cannot afford another Tito on his Eastern flank, and I am sure that whatever efforts we make in the diplomatic field, we should make them with a view to combating Stalin's grand strategy.
I am convinced that the decisions which were taken at Yalta, for instance, had a direct bearing on the position in which we are today. At the Yalta conference Stalin made strenuous efforts to exclude the French representatives. At that time, and later when the war had finished, there was a demand by the then French Government for ships to take French troops to the Far East. However, those ships were not sent, and in consequence, in Indo-China there was created a vacuum which the Communist Party in China are trying to fill at this moment. The foundation of Stalin's policy was laid there. We have to be sure that we are not driven to one side of the world, leaving the other side of the world unprotected.
The resources of the free world in materials and manpower can contain Stalin's strategy at any time provided that he has not unlimited manpower for cannon fodder. He does not possess one quarter of the resources of the free world. We have to marshal these forces and put them in strategic places as quickly as possible, and, on the broad plan of the whole world, we are not yet quite ready for that. Stalin is deficient in one commodity in particular—a commodity which is vital to war operations—and he is particularly vulnerable in this commodity within his own borders. I refer, of course, to oil, and, in spite of what was said by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), pointing to Europe 1376 and Germany as a possible danger spot, I think we must watch very carefully any adventures in connection with the Middle East oil fields. Such adventures have been tried once and have failed If they are tried again they must fail again.
We must use all the energy and power we have to reach a settlement but, if no settlement is possible, we must be prepared to face the alternative. I suggest that the alternative we have to face first, if we fail, is what kind of a front is to be established in the Far East. In this connection we cannot regard Korea as a front in itself; it must be linked with Indo-China and Malaya, because if we are forced out of those valuable strategic areas, which are important to us for trading purposes, the Western democracies will begin to feel the pinch in their standards of life.
It may be that some American political leaders have had a fuller realisation than we have had of some of these factors, but even now it is not too late to recoup the position if we set about it with energy. Whatever efforts can be made by the Foreign Office, the Diplomatic Corps and, should they fail, the united will of the free peoples, those efforts must be made.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Drayson (Skipton)
I want to speak tonight about Yugoslavia which, as far as I am aware, has not yet been mentioned in the debate. There was a time during the Foreign Secretary's speech when, referring to the position in the Middle East and Europe, he said there was still a piece to be fitted into the plan, and I thought he was referring to Yugoslavia. In fact, he was about to refer to Egypt. This afternoon the Under-Secretary of State, in dealing with Europe, mentioned regional groupings, and once more I hoped he would have something to say about what part he thought it might be possible for Yugoslavia to play in such a group, were she willing to do so.
Anybody who looks at the map of Europe cannot but be impressed by the important position which Yugoslavia occupies. If we consider a chain from Turkey and the Balkans, and if we look at a map, we must be somewhat discomforted to think there is a link missing in that chain—a link which has not yet been included. I should like to know 1377 from the Government what is their attitude towards Yugoslavia at present. Do they consider that she can play an important part in the present European set up?
The position in Yugoslavia is something like this. From 1945 to 1948 she was virtually occupied, for her national affairs were dictated by Moscow, but in June, 1948, through the Cominform resolution, Moscow expelled Marshal Tito and his country from the Cominform group. Since then, Yugoslavia has been trying in the economic field to put into operation a five-year plan. This has proved disastrous to the national economy, of course, and, although I do not know whether there is any substantial foundation for this, it seems to me that it can be said that this five-year plan was imposed on Marshal Tito's Government by the economic experts of Moscow and that the Yugoslavs may now suggest that that was done with a view to ruining the country completely, so that it could more easily be taken over at some later stage.
The plan has been published in great detail and anybody who looks at it must realise immediately how impossible it was ever to fulfil it. I believe the sympathy of the House would go to any government official who was to be responsible for producing 20,000 typewriters in a year or to the department whose duty it was to deal with the mass production of cinematograph apparatus. To expect a country like Yugoslavia, with very little industry at any time, to reach those targets after six years of war and occupation was ridiculous. The task was quite impossible of achievement. As a result of all this, the country finds herself in considerable economic difficulties. Yugoslavia is also beset by a drought resulting in an extremely poor harvest.
Looking at the natural resources of Yugoslavia, one realises that she could be one of the richest countries in Europe and, had development been intensified on proper lines since the war, the people of Yugoslavia could be enjoying a standard of living hitherto not experienced in the Balkans. Yugoslavia has always been a great food producer and yet the world has been in a period when food was particularly scarce. The Yugoslays have some of the finest base metal mineral mines and deposits in the whole of 1378 Europe and, possibly, in the world, and before the war the French, the British and other nationals played a great part in developing those natural resources for the benefit of Yugoslavia. They have considerable areas covered by timber—and this in a time when all the world has been calling for timber in order to rebuild what was damaged by the war. Here again, as we have done in the past, we could have helped them considerably in the development of their timber resources.
Yugoslavia is a vast agricultural country and there was a possibility of her supplying food to the rest of Europe, but the Government have disorganised their agriculture to a very considerable extent by insisting on such a measure of collectivisation. Here I should like to recall the advice given by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) to Marshal Tito at Naples in 1944, as recorded by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean). This is what the right hon. Gentleman said:My friend Marshal Stalin told me that his battle with the peasants had been a more perilous and formidable undertaking than the battle for Stalingrad. I hope that you, Marshal, will think twice before you join such a battle with your sturdy Serbian peasants.Well, unfortunately, that advice given in 1944 was not taken; but I believe that there are signs that the present action in regard to collectivisation is being modified.
If a government of a country tries to meddle with the traditional methods of agriculture in that country it is bound to lead to difficulties. Certainly there is room in Yugoslavia for adopting modern methods, but these have to be adopted gradually. There is certainly room for mechanisation, and the supply of tractors is an urgent need, but when one looks at some of the vast plains in that part of the world one must realise that there is the grave danger that mechanisation could lead to what I think is known as prairie farming, which leads to serious problems such as soil erosion unless very carefully managed.
I think that one thing. at least, about which we would all agree when considering Yugoslav action from June, 1948, onwards, is that Marshal Tito has shown considerable courage in breaking with the Cominform bloc. The promises made by 1379 Russia to Yugoslavia after the war as to the amount of aid she was going to give her obviously were not kept, and the Russians exploited the country to a considerable extent. Whatever we may think of individuals in that country at the present moment, one thing we cannot disguise is that they are, above all, patriots, and I always prefer to consider a country by its peoples rather than by members of its government. I think that that sometimes applies to countries nearer at home.
§ Mr. Drayson
I was just coming to that point. Some while ago, after I had visited Yugoslavia, on one or two occasions I allowed my name to be associated with an organisation for promoting friendship between the peoples of Great Britain and the peoples of Yugoslavia, and in doing that I wrote that my desire for friendship with the Yugoslavs was no less than my desire for friendship with the peoples of America, the U.S.S.R. France and Spain. I think the hon. Gentleman will understand what I mean when I say I like to dissociate countries from their governments, because they cannot be considered wholly responsible for them, especially when they have not had the opportunity of free and unfettered elections.
What has been noticeable in the last few months has been the gradual change in the attitude of the rulers of Yugoslavia. One of the first things we have to notice is Marshal Tito's speech attacking bureaucracy and centralisation and praising the Western world. Only two weeks ago the Marshal is reported to have said, when talking about trade relations with other countries:As regards our trade relations with the Western countries, they look upon us as an equal partner. The capitalist system in those countries does not bother us in our economic relations with them, and I must say that we often get better conditions from those countries for the purchase of various goods than we did from the eastern countries.They are putting into operation now, I believe, at the same time the denationalisation of many of the small undertakings which were taken over in 1945.
What is clear also, whatever the personal feelings of Members of this House may be, is that Yugoslavia at the 1380 present moment cannot stand alone. She has pointed out her economic plight to the Western countries, particularly her difficulties arising out of the food shortage and the drought this last summer. Only the other day it was announced that we in Great Britain were prepared to give her credits to the extent of £3,000,000 for the purpose of buying food. At the same time the United States made available to Yugoslavia the sum of 30 million dollars. I see in today's paper that President Truman yesterday asked Congress to vote a further 38 million dollars for economic aid to Yugoslavia. When I see in the paper today that President Truman is considering this problem and that he put it before Congress yesterday, I ask whether it is not time that our own Government should make some pronouncement as to what their attitude is towards Yugoslavia at the present time.
This money is largely, if not entirely, to be used for the purchase of food. The Yugoslav Government have indicated they would be quite happy to have observers see that this food is properly distributed. The American Ambassador in Belgrade, on the occasion of the arrival of the first consignment of food, said:The only condition is that your nation remains free and independent, strong enough to control your destinies and to prevent anybody from imposing conditions upon you.Again I should like to know whether our Government have any intention of helping Yugoslavia to maintain this independence which she herself is so anxious to maintain.
We are all thinking today very largely of military matters, but it is important, even with the war clouds that appear to be gathering, that we should devote a little time to the future economic development of Yugoslavia. She has indicated that she is anxious to arrive at new formulae whereby her natural resources can be developed with the assistance of the countries of the West. I wonder myself whether they have not left it a little too late, and whether, in fact, the countries of the West are in a position to co-operate substantially in the economic field, when they are themselves faced with a rearmament programme, because financial aid is of little advantage unless it results in the immediate delivery of the goods and machinery which are needed for economic development.
1381 The sources of financial aid up to now have been the World Bank, the Import Export Bank, and the E.C.A. funds, all of which have contributed over the last few months. I should like to see private concerns taking an interest in developments in Yugoslavia, but is is very difficult for them to do so, and certainly I myself should not like to risk shareholders' money in that part of the world. However, I should like to make this suggestion, that if those organisations that I have referred to are considering making advances for economic development they should say something like this, "For every dollar that we are prepared to give we should like to see private enterprise put in a dollar or a pound alongside."
If we do that, instead of channelling all the aid and financial assistance through one channel—may be the national bank or exchequer of the country—we shall put a number of different industrial concerns in touch with their opposite numbers in the country in question. The more that people talk to each other about their respective problems the more chances there are of definite understandings being reached, not only on commercial matters but on many others as well.
In asking the Government their attitude at the present moment, one cannot help remembering what they did when a seat became available upon the Security Council and had to be filled from Eastern Europe. On that occasion they voted for the inclusion of Czechoslovakia and disregarded the claims of Yugoslavia, although it was after that country had split from the Cominform. That is why I ask the Government what their policy is today.
When we turn to consider the position in the military field, we cannot help realising that Yugoslavia would be in a position, if she so wished, to provide at the present time the Western democracies in Europe with at least 10 divisions of good troops, even though they may lack equipment. I ask the House to consider whether we can completely disregard the possibility of having those men on our side in the near future. This is a time when the Government should be prepared to exert considerable effort to persuade that country to come to a definite decision about its future. I should like to see us, out of our slender resources, going some way to match the contribution that has 1382 been made to Yugoslavia in the last few weeks by the United States.
I do not want to sit down before I have said a word or two about the situation elsewhere. I should like the House to consider a point in connection with the present situation in Korea. I believe that when General MacArthur said that fighting would be over very soon and that the men would be back for Christmas, that was a real possibility, provided that the Chinese did not enter into the battle. He had no necessary reason at that time for supposing that they would perpetrate that act of aggression. The situation that now confronts the United Nations forces is a totally different one, and one that we are all having to consider at the present moment. It is in Europe, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said, that the mortal danger lies.
There are countries which have not been mentioned in the debate. I should like the House to consider the position of Norway and Denmark, which would undoubtedly be coveted as submarine bases for the Soviet fleet in the event of another war. I want to finish by endorsing what has been said from both sides of the House, that the future depends upon the co-operation and the mutual understanding between this country and the United States. I hope that nothing will be done to weaken those ties in the future.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
Grave events appear to be overtaking the relatively tranquil and conciliatory speeches that have been made in this debate, notably from both the Opposition and the Government Front Benches. I assume that most hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will already have seen, either on the tape or in the evening newspapers, reports of President Truman's Press conference today, in which he is reported to have said that the use of the atom bomb in Korea is under active consideration, and that, in certain circumstances, subject to the approval of the United Nations, General MacArthur would have complete freedom to extend hostilities into Manchuria.
It may be that there is some exaggeration or misinterpretation in the Press headlines of what was said. As a journalist. I can imagine so well how a reporter might have asked President 1383 Truman: "Are you considering the use of the atom bomb?" and that he may have replied: "Yes, it always has been under consideration"—which, of course, would have quite a different emphasis and would not imply any new policy or change of outlook. None the less, if there has been an exaggeration or misinterpretation, I hope that some explanation to that effect is being put out pretty quickly from the White House, and I hope that the Prime Minister tonight, when he replies, will have something to say about it, because a great deal of harm has already been done and a great deal of alarm caused. I hope that the voice of sanity and moderation, which has been raised, as I say, from both Front Benches in this House, will be heard in America.
I was extremely interested in both the speeches with which this debate opened yesterday. I welcomed particularly the strongly and unequivocally pacific tone of the Foreign Secretary's references to China. I also welcomed the reassurance and clarification—if it was a clarification—by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State this afternoon about the Government's present position: that we do want to see China in the Security Council now. Although I was greatly interested and impressed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), I rather differed from him when he argued that the conduct of China was a reason for not admitting her to the Security Council at present. After all, as the Foreign Secretary himself said yesterday, the action taken by the Chinese may be onlyto safeguard their own interests in the frontier area." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November. 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]Secondly, I noticed the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington nodding his head in emphatic assent last evening when my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) was defining the function and purpose of U.N.O. and was saying that it was notan instrument to spread democracybutan attempt of the nations to organise peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1280.]—in fact, to remove the clash of ideologies and interests from the battlefield to the conference table.
1384 I would suggest with respect that this, idea that if a nation is behaving badly it should not be in the Security Council, is based upon a false analogy with a club. "Why should people be allowed to join the club if they are breaking its rules?" As I see it, U.N.O. is not like a club. A club is an association of like-minded people. U.N.O. is deliberately an association of differently-minded people and nations. It is all the more urgent, therefore, that we should continue to press for the inclusion of China at the present time.
Another speculation by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was this He wondered whether China was suffering fromsome imaginary fear of an attack on Chinese territory."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]We may know and believe in this House that that fear is imaginary, but I am afraid that it will have been made to seem more real to the Chinese by the statements made at the presidential Press conference today. It is rather difficult for us, and still more difficult for the Americans, who have not had the experience of physical invasion of their country, to understand Chinese suspicions and apprehensions. After all, the Chinese have been knocked about a good deal in the last 20 years.
Only this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition sail that it is useful sometimes "to try to put oneself in the position of the other party." It is useful, but it is extremely difficult to do so in the case of China. One can surely, however, understand that such suspicions are aggravated by the action of the Supreme Commander himself—no doubt with the authority of the United Nations—in excluding China, and the Chinese Government which we recognise, from the island of Formosa. Friendly relations are still maintained with the discredited, defeated Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in that island of Formosa, which, in 1943 explicitly and in 1945 implicitly, we agreed was legitimately Chinese territory. We should not under-estimate the psychological effect of the Formosa situation on China at the present time. That, I think, is shown by the reports of what the Chinese delegates who have just arrived at Lake Success said on their first day there.
1385 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington also dealt with what may be called the Titoist approach to China, and I personally am inclined to agree with him that there is a good deal of wishful thinking in that approach. I think, quite frankly, that it is also rather an impertinence that we should suggest such a development to China. China will decide her own development, and—it seems an appropriate word—her own orientation in the light of her own needs and interests. However, one can, I think, say that any further delay in the admission of the new Chinese Government to the Security Council would only tend to have the opposite effect to that which the right hon. Gentleman himself desires to produce. It would tend to drive China even more firmly and closely into alliance and alignment with Moscow. It may well be that there are two views about this matter within the Chinese Government itself; or two different approaches.
I wonder also whether the right hon. Gentleman, when he was discussing this aspect of the problem, had considered the interesting speculation indulged in at Lake Success recently by the Minister of State: the obviously purely speculative theory that it might well be Russia which has egged on China to what seem to us to be excesses and aggressions in Tibet and Korea, precisely because, despite all the propaganda, Russia really does not want China in the Security Council; and that Russia would prefer to insulate China altogether from the Western Powers. It is at least an arguable theory.
It is certainly not possible—I agree with the right hon. Gentleman—to regard any Titoist trend as being immediate practical politics in China. On the other hand, I would like to quote an interesting contrast which was made to me a few months ago, before the Tibet incident, by Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India—a contrast between China and the Eastern European countries within the Soviet sphere of influence. Mr. Nehru pointed out that in almost every way they are completely different from China. They are mostly small: China is very big. They are, geographically, fairly near the Soviet Union: China is pretty far from Moscow. They are mostly Slav: China is most emphatically not Slavonic, but very Chinese. Finally, they have little or no sense of unity with Western 1386 Europe; whereas China, although it would be going too far to say that there is a real sense of Asiatic unity, at least shares certain common reactions with most of the other Asiatic nations—reactions which are largely based on their common experience of colonialism.
With all this in mind, it would be disastrous if we were to acquiesce in any action which would make more likely an extension of the war from Korea to China. If we start from the basis of "no war with China" we must then agree to negotiate; that is the only alternative. We can surely negotiate more persuasively and with more chance of success if China is within the Security Council, and if, meanwhile, we refrain from unnecessary provocation. There is an appalling danger that the hysteria prevalent in some Senatorial and Congressional quarters in America may have its effect on the American authorities and, therefore, on the United Nations. There is this pressure, for instance, for bombing the supply bases in Manchuria. I hope that the influence of His Majesty's Government will be used against that pressure. Obviously, as indeed President Truman made clear today, anything of that kind would be a high-level political and not a local military decision—one of those decisions in which the Supreme Commander would have what the Foreign Secretary yesterday called "appropriate consultation" with the United Nations.
I was a little surprised by my right hon. Friend's emphatic declaration that there had been such consultation in, one gathered, every case. I wonder whether the consultation has occasionally been retrospective? I wonder, for instance, whether there was any consultation—there could hardly have been—before the Supreme Commander issued his notorious statement on Formosa, which President Truman repudiated even before it was published. Was there any consultation before the ceremonious reinstallation of President Syngman Rhee at Seoul, which led to a good deal of subsequent embarrassment for the United Nations? Was there any consultation, finally, before the issue of General MacArthur's two recent communiqués about Chinese aggression, which were essentially political in tone rather than purely military?
Did His Majesty's Government, after assenting to the crossing of the 38th 1387 Parallel, agree also to the whole northward sweep—to, as it now seems, this mad rush to the frontier, accompanied as it was by perhaps the most hubristic Famous Last Words in modern history: "Tell the boys when they reach the Yalu River they can all come back; they will eat their Christmas dinners at home"?
§ Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)
The hon. Gentleman said that we should not bomb Chinese supply bases. Would he say that we should not bomb Chinese aerodromes from which bombers were actually bombing our own men?
§ Mr. Driberg
We should not have gone so far north. That is the answer. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, but what is to be done now? What is the answer now?] The answer now is the answer which, I was very glad to hear, was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington yesterday and, indeed, by the Leader of the Opposition today: that is to say, consolidation at what one called the "waist" and the other called the. "neck"; I think that it is usually called the "waist." Whether that now means withdrawal to the "waist," or whether we are back there already, I would not know, not having studied the latest news: but it may be that some withdrawal to that line will be necessary.
Since I have been saying these somewhat critical things, let me say that I agree with many of the tributes that have been paid to the generalship of General MacArthur. The Inchon landing was an audacious amphibious operation, executed most brilliantly. Under his leadership some of the American forces, notably the Marines, have fought with magnificent courage. But politics apart—and he is a political general: in Tokio one feels that enemy No. 1 is not the Communists but the Truman administration—I know that many hon. Members better equipped than I to criticise are questioning the wisdom of the strategy of the last few weeks.
I should like to read a sentence or two from a letter I received about a week ago from a British war correspondent in Korea. He is actually writing from Tokio; war correspondents commute, as it were, every few days or weeks, between Tokio, where G.H.Q. is situated, and Korea. The letter is dated 10th November, and this is what he says: 1388This last phase, since Pyongyang, has been a complete fiasco. As you know, General Almond has X Corps on the east coast, and Walker's VIII Army, with Milburn as I Corps commander, is on the central and west sectors. And"—if I may be pardoned from quoting the word, Mr. Speaker—there's a bloody great gap in between. I gather that co-ordination is a G.H.Q. affair, but when you ask exactly what Almond is continuing to advance for against nothing up the east coast, when what's obviously called for is a consolidation of the gap, you just get a shrug of the shoulders out of the spokesmen here. Private enterprise can he carried too far—especially with elements of four Communist Chinese armies (army corps), already in Korea.That was written three weeks ago. It was pretty evident, even then, that things were not going at all well with this particular phase of the campaign: it was evident, at least, to some British war correspondents. We have therefore some right to be a bit concerned about the military as well as the political progress of the war.
Surely the co-ordination in this northward sweep, as indicated in that letter, and also the Intelligence which should have been behind it, must have been lamentably defective. Syngman Rhee himself, incidentally, has estimated that there are as many as 40,000 Communist guerrillas still active, or potentially active, south of the 38th Parallel. That is going to be quite a job to take care of. Therefore, the only policy for us to press for—I hope that the Prime Minister, if he can, will give us some indication of his view about this—is for this withdrawal to the "waist": the holding of that strategically more practicable line and, simultaneously, negotiation for peace. There is no other way to convince the Chinese of our sincerity.
I heard with great interest last night the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, whose view was that we should have stopped at the 38th Parallel. I think that he made a very strong moral and juridical case, but I personally think that it would have been tactically impossible to stop at the 38th Parallel; the "waist" is a commonsense compromise between the 38th Parallel and the actual frontier. We should insist on this. We still have some right to insist, even though we only have small forces there. We should even go 1389 so far as to say that we are not prepared to allow British troops to be used in any extension of the war outside Korea arising from events on the blame and responsibility for which the Foreign Secretary himself has told the House he is still keeping an open mind.
Since our troops are in this dangerous situation in that appalling climate, fighting their way out of encirclement or to help others already cut off, since constituents of every hon. Member. National Service men of 19 as well as Regulars, are there, we have a right and a responsibility to speak up on their behalf, and to insist that their blood and sweat shall not be wasted through military incompetence or political ineptitude.
Furthermore, since they are supposed to be fighting for the establishment of the rule of law among the nations, we have a right to expect that the Supreme Commander himself shall be amenable, as my right hon. Friend says that he has always been in the past, to the directions of the United Nations, whose servant he is supposed to be, and that he will not, in this most dangerous crisis, initiate any further adventures likely to endanger peace.
We have a right also to say that prisoners and civilian suspects in South Korea shall not be treated in a way contrary to civilised conceptions of justice and humanity. I was glad to hear, on this issue, an assurance from the Foreign Office spokesman last week, that there have been representations to the South Korean Government and that in response assurances have been received. I sincerely hope that the mass shootings and all the rest of the things which have been described quite accurately in some newspapers—and which led, incidentally, to the dismissal of the editor of "Picture Post," because he wanted to publish a true report and photographs of them—have now been stopped.
As I think some hon. Members may be aware, I had the privilege recently of spending some little time in Korea. I brought back with me two abiding impressions, both very simple and, I fear, very trite. The first was of the superb courage and cheerfulness and efficiency of our own forces, the Argylls, the Middlesex, the Far East Flying Boat Wing of the R.A.F., and particularly perhaps the Royal Marine Commando, fighting now 1390 far inland, an American tribute to whom was quoted a few nights ago by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. It was in that particular unit that one saw Anglo-American cooperation functioning most satisfactorily, efficiently and harmoniously, at all levels.
My second impression is equally trite, but not so happy—an impression of the misery and poverty of the ordinary people of Korea, and of the terrible impact on them of the process which we call liberation. It is very difficult to communicate with them. Indeed, one great practical administrative difficulty, especially in North Korea now, is due to the fact that very few Americans or British people know the Korean language; this necessarily means, for purposes of administration, that we have to use possibly unsatisfactory Koreans. That is a very difficult dilemma.
It is difficult, as I say, to communicate with them. As one tears along the dusty or muddy roads, in a jeep or a truck, one sees the tragically familiar scene of little groups of peasant refugees by the roadside, staring mutely and uncomprehendingly at the great apparatus of modern war rolling past and over them, shelled or evacuated from their thatched hovels, or still working in the green paddy-fields while a 155 gun blasts away within a few yards of them. The Foreign Secretary's pre-occupation with the economic uplifting of backward peoples is well-known. It is also a well-known and accepted fact, whether one agrees with the policy or not, that one of the strongest appeals that the Communists make to millions of peasants in Asia, is their rapid and vigorous agrarian reforms and re-distribution of land. They have done it in China; they did it in North Korea. It is at least as important as the organisation of free elections that we should give the people of Korea some hope of economic security and social advancement, and assure them that they are not to be delivered back to the great money-lenders, for instance, whose continued domination has been one of the many unpleasant characteristics of the Syngman Rhee régime.
I apologise for taking up so much of the time of the House, but I wanted to get some of these things off my chest. I believe that unless the British people and their Government really take a firm stand 1391 about this business of spreading the war from Korea to China, even to the extent of risking a row between friends—and we are firm friends and allies of the Americans—all may well be lost, both for ourselves and for the Americans, in the ultimate calamity of mankind
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)
The hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) quoted a speech made last night in this debate by the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in support of his plea that the present de facto Chinese Government should be a member of the Security Council. In quoting the hon. Member's speech, the hon. Member for Maldon said that he had rightly reminded the House that: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 …I notice that the hon. Gentleman stopped there and did not continue to quote from his hon. Friend. I wish he had continued the quotation, because this is what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne went on to say:The test"—that is to say the test of the membership of the United Nations—was that whoever shoots is wrong, whoever advances over a frontier is wrong."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1280.]I feel that the hon. Member, who is not in his place, would not have said that the Chinese should be members of the Security Council after shooting in Korea and after advancing, as they have done, over the Tibetan frontier.
§ Mr. Driberg
I do not know if I need speak on behalf of my hon. Friend, but I presume that what he meant when he said that whoever shoots is wrong was that aggressive war is wrong. The quotation that I gave from yesterday's speech by the Foreign Secretary indicates that the actual reasons for the Chinese action are still obscure, and that we have got to keep an open mind on them.
§ Mr. Nutting
That does not answer the point which I also made and was also covered by the speech of the hon. Mem- 1392 ber for Nelson and Colne when he said that whoever advances over a frontier is wrong Can the hon. Gentleman deny, even as Mr. Patel has said, that they have advanced brutally and by naked aggression over the Tibetian frontier?
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham. Yardley)
is the hon. Gentleman inferring that any nation which is regarded as an aggressor, should automatically be thrown out of the United Nations?
§ Mr. Nutting
All that I am saying is that I do not believe that the Chinese, after their conduct both in Tibet and Korea, should be admitted to the Security Council of the United Nations since they are not prepared to obey the obligations of the Charter of the United Nations upon which the Security Council stands. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister, when he winds up this debate tonight, will tell us exactly where the British Government stand in this matter of China being a member of the Security Council.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in his speech yesterday, speaking upon this subject of China being in the Security Council said: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1185.]My right hon. Friend was clearly inviting some Government comment upon his statement. No member of the Government Front Bench got up to intervene, and I should have thought that we might have inferred from that that the Government's view was that China should not be a member.
§ Mr. Driberg rose—
§ Mr. Driberg
Did the hon. Gentleman not hear the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs this afternoon?
§ Mr. Nutting
I am coming to the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the hon. Gentleman will bide his time in patience. This afternoon the Under-Secretary said that all along it has been the view of His Majesty's Government that the 1393 de facto Chinese Government should be a member of the Security Council. He then went on to say something which I thought was a little strange after this most categorical statement. I think I am quoting the sense of his observation correctly when I say that when he was asked whether His Majesty's Government would vote for China being a member of the Security Council, he said that the question of voting did not arise at the present time.
What are we to infer from that statement, which, the hon. Gentleman must agree, seems rather contradictory to his earlier remark? Are we to assume that the Government have no view whatsoever in the matter? Are we to assume that the policy which will be followed by the British Government will be an undignified neutrality, rather like what was done at U.N.O. in regard to sending Ambassadors to Spain? What exactly is the view of His Majesty's Government? I hope we shall get a more satisfactory explanation from the Prime Minister than we have had from the Under-Secretary.
In common with every hon. Member of this House, I am deeply disturbed about the foreign situation. Wherever we look the outlook is bleak and threatening. I hope, therefore, that the House will bear with me if I have one or two critical but constructive remarks to make as to the way in which we are meeting and should meet the dangers in the international sphere. The Foreign Secretary in his speech said little to reassure me that His Majesty's Government are really seized of the urgency of the international crises. In his speech yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington defined the whole basis of British foreign policy as the maintenance and the extension of the unity and the sense of a common cause between the free nations of Europe, the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States of America.
On another occasion, at the Conservative Conference at Llandudno a few years ago, I remember my right hon. Friend saying that the aim of British foreign policy should be to forge and weld into one the three great unities amongst the freedom-loving nations—the unity between us and the United States, between us and the Commonwealth, and between us and Western Europe. The position of Great Britain at the intersecting point of 1394 these three circles, these three groupings of freedom-loving nations, must surely impose upon us, and upon us only, the duty to act as the leaders of these three groupings and to forge them into one.
My main criticism of the Foreign Secretary's policy over the last five years is that we have failed in our duty to lead these three great unities amongst the peace-loving nations. We have failed because—and I hope I do not give too much offence when I say this—the Foreign Secretary's superiority complex in face of criticism at home, both from his own party and from ours, is equalled only by his inferiority complex abroad when it comes to handling Anglo-American relations and his isolation complex in his approach to European affairs.
I should like to take our relationship with America first. Nothing is clearer than that in Far Eastern matters, in all too many cases where our policy has not been actively wrong, it has been either non-existent or far too timidly expressed to make any impression upon the United States Government and State Department. For the rest, it seems to me that confusion reigns as to exactly what British policy is. Now for some weeks there have been vague rumours, hints and suggestions in the Press that the British Government were not in favour of advancing beyond what has now, I think, become commonly called in this debate the "waist" of Korea. Then there were further rumours that we were in favour of drawing a line which would leave a margin of territory on the south side of the Manchurian border, and leave the power stations which feed Chinese industry in Manchuria outside United Nations-occupied territory.
Indeed, the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday confirmed that something of these views still remains in the minds of the Government. If these were our views—and my own personal opinion is that I hope they were—may I ask: Did we express them to the United States Government? If we did express them, did we seek the support of those nations who are members of the United Nations Interim Commission on Korea?
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that if such proposals had been made the Government should now say to the United 1395 States in this very delicate situation "We told you so"?
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Gentleman, having served in the Government, knows perfectly well that there are questions an hon. Member can ask which maybe a Government cannot answer. I leave the decision whether this question should be answered to the Prime Minister, who will I am sure, be able to decide correctly for himself.
Why is there a conspiracy of silence in all these matters? I do not claim that these questions should be answered now, after the event. But what I do claim is that the effect of this utter lack of official information about our attitude and the way in which we have made our attitude known to the United States and in the United Nations has been to make us seem at best ridiculous and ignored, and at worst seriously at variance with our United States Allies. At present it seems to me that we are getting the worst of every world in the Far East. In Malaya we fight alone, and in Korea we are committed without having any real say as to the ultimate extent of the commitment.
With regard to what the hon. Member for Maldon has just said about the presidential Press conference at which the President is alleged to have said, as I read the news tape, that the use of the atomic bomb was a matter for the military men in the field, I sincerely hope that we shall have some explanation from the Prime Minister as to whether the British Government are going to make their view known in these matters. Although I claim no knowledge of what went on at the time, I can hardly believe that the use of the atomic bomb at the end of the Second World War was left to the military men in the field. Knowing, as I do, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) I can hardly believe that he had not some hand in taking that momentous and vital decision.
All this goes to show, to my way of thinking more vividly than ever, the need for some kind of joint machinery of consultation at a military level between ourselves and the United States of America. I am not going into this matter very deeply because it was dealt with far more effectively than ever I could by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton 1396 (Brigadier Head). If needs be, let this organisation, this machinery, be nominally connected with the United Nations or with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but for Heaven's sake do not let us perpetuate this farce of "Let us pretend that the United Nations is running the war in Korea." War cannot be conducted through a committee of the United Nations consisting of Chile, the Philippines, Pakistan, and so on. As the Second World War most clearly showed, a world war of this size can be conducted, and indeed must be conducted, by joint machinery such as the Combined Chiefs-of-Staff organisation, in which we as a power deeply involved not only in the actual military hostilities, but also in the commercial field in the Far East, shall have a say—and I hope an equal say—as to what goes on.
In the past, several of my hon. Friends have suggested that we should have a Pacific Pact on the basis of the Atlantic Pact. Well, I do not see the practicability of this suggestion at this juncture, largely for the reason that the necessary basis of common political purpose does not yet exist amongst the nations who would obviously be involved and be members of such a Pacific Pact—largely, of course, because of the unhappy attitude of neutrality which India has so far deemed it advisable to strike. The only answer, therefore, seems to me to be some kind of joint operational machinery in which we and the Commonwealth countries involved have an equal say with the United States of America.
I want, in conclusion, to deal with our relations with Europe. I am deeply disturbed and distressed at the turn which our relations with France have taken in the last few months. Not merely have we put ourselves in the position where we are opposed to the French on the issue of German rearmament, but by ratting on the French, as we have done, we have embittered and antagonised them. In no other aspect of our foreign policy have we made ourselves appear more ridiculous or—may I say this also, and I measure the words—made ourselves appear more perfidious.
Time and again the Foreign Secretary has stood at the Despatch Box and expressed uncompromising opposition to the idea of rearming Germany—opposition 1397 far more uncompromising than the French attitude today or the French attitude six months ago. Surely in the light of that, in the light of the Foreign Secretary's speeches, the French were entitled to assume that we would support them against any premature American demand for German rearmament. Then what happened? When the Foreign Secretaries of the three Powers met in the United States in September the Government performed a complete volte face and supported the American view against the French, as the Foreign Secretary admitted in his speech yesterday. Even when the French came forward with a modified plan—maybe in part a little impracticable—we refused to support it because we refused to support the political principles involved, and we referred the matter to the Atlantic Pact deputies.
How could the British Government have failed to see that such action on our part would not only embitter the French but would put the Germans in the strongest possible bargaining position vis-à-vis the Schuman Plan, the revision of the Occupation Statute, the level of steel production, and so on? Indeed, not only would it put them in a bargaining position but, because of the pressure on the Chancellor of Germany from the opposition parties in that country, would drive them into bargaining and into raising their terms, which is precisely what they have done.
Perhaps it is not too improbable that this was a calculated move by the Government to wreck the Schuman Plan by forcing Germany to raise her demands. For the Government have shown beyond all imaginable doubt uncompromising hostility to the political conception of a United Europe. We know they pay lip service to the need for economic and military co-operation in Europe, but may I remind them of the words of Lord Montgomery quoted in this House only the other day in the debate on the Council of Europe:The task before the nations of the West is primarily political. Economic fusion and military strength will not be obtained until the political association between the group of nations concerned has first been defined."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1950: Vol. 480. c. 1432.]I would add that the political association can only be arrived at with the active 1398 leadership and participation of Britain. If the Government do not believe that, let them ask any West European. Let them study the speeches of French, Belgian, and even German statesmen today, and let them heed the answer. It really is not good enough for the Government to tell us, as they have done, that any dragging of their feet in the matter of European unity is because of the commitments they feel and the allegiance they must show to the British Commonwealth. The Commonwealth are only too anxious for us to promote European unity, for surely it is to their interest that we should make any arrangements which are possible to avoid a third world war and to save their sons from coming over once again to shed their blood upon the battlefields of Europe.
As for the argument which the Foreign Secretary advanced yesterday, that a European Army would in some way conflict with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, that was effectively dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington. He tried to explain to the Foreign Secretary that the whole purpose of a European Army is not to be in conflict with the North Atlantic Treaty, but to be supplementary to any organisation which may arise under that Treaty Organisation.
I must deal with one further point made by the Foreign Secretary when he said—and I believe thought he was being mangnanimous and generous in saying it—that the Government would not stand in the way of the French in examining the possibilities of a European Army. But that is not the point. What the French want, what they have a right to ask, and what it is surely only common sense we should do, is not merely for us to avoid standing in the way of the French and a European Army but that we should stand behind France and behind Western Europe.
The Under-Secretary himself said this afternoon, "We do not want to have to liberate the Continent again." May I tell him that the policy of the Government, of which he is a member, is going the right way about having to liberate the Continent of Europe again. The rigid nationalism of the 19th century is dying in Western Europe under the pressure of world events, for the simple reason that it has been tried and found wanting in 1399 the provision of security for nearly every nation from Norway to the Black Sea. In its place is growing an alternative belief in the unity of Europe.
The Government, their eyes inevitably upon so many world fronts, are much too slow to recognise this growth. They are slower still to recognise that an organic and a systematic union of Western Europe can only be achieved under British leadership. Without us Western Europe must in time be dominated by Germany. If and when that happens, all hope of European union as we want it will be destroyed. I do beg the Government to learn and to apply the lesson of two world wars, made possible mainly because we in this country allowed the balance of power to be held by the aggressor. I do beg the Government to reconsider their policy towards the European problem. Time is indeed short, but I believe that it is not too late to hope that Britain will revert once more to her traditional and historic rôle, to forge and lead again a grand alliance of freedom-loving peoples.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank McLeavy (Bradford, East)
The hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) has made some rather sweeping and unjustified attacks upon the policy pursued by the Government, especially the policy of the Foreign Secretary. The hon. Member asked the Government to answer the question whether they are prepared to vote at the present time for China to be admitted as a member of the Security Council. Wisely our Labour Government decided, seeing that the People's Government of China was dominating all that vast continent, that they should be admitted to the Security Council in the place of the discredited Government in Formosa.
I believe—and I think my belief is shared by responsible Members on the opposite side of the House, in addition to my hon. Friends—that the policy pursued by the Government and by the Foreign Secretary in supporting and voting for China to be a member of the Security Council was right under the circumstances. I firmly believe that had the majority of the Security Council agreed to China becoming a member of that Council, the present difficult situation in Korea might have been avoided. Surely 1400 the hon. Gentleman was asking a question which he knew perfectly well the Government could not be in a position to answer; indeed, one which it would not be wise to answer.
§ Mr. Nutting
All I asked was that the Prime Minister should tell us beyond any doubt, where the Government stood in the matter of China being a member of the Security Council. Since the Under-Secretary has already given us some kind of line, albeit contradictory, in this matter, we have a right to ask that the Prime Minister should clarify it.
§ Mr. McLeavy
I was trying to point out how inappropriate was the time for the hon. Member to ask the Prime Minister such a question. The Government were right in the first place. They would have to review their decision in the light of subsequent circumstances. I feel that the Prime Minister—or, indeed, any Prime Minister—would be unwilling to make a rash decision upon a matter so vitally important to the well-being of people throughout the world.
§ Mr. Nutting
I am not asking that the Prime Minister should say what decision he is about to make. I merely asked that he should tell us what decision had been made.
§ Mr. McLeavy
I do not know whether I ought to pursue this matter with the hon. Member, but I am trying to point out as clearly as I can that this is not the time for the Prime Minister to announce an alteration of policy so far as this matter is concerned.
§ Mr. McLeavy
It is not a question of evading the issue, but of common sense. The Prime Minister and the Government are carrying a grave responsibility. If they were to adopt the implication behind the hon. Member's proposition, the Leader of the Opposition would immediately trounce them for having, so hastily decided to alter a previous well-conceived decision.
The hon. Member referred also to our relationships with a United Europe. I do not think anyone doubts for a moment that Europe cannot stand alone. We must bring in America and all the English-speaking races in order to build up a defence which will be adequate to 1401 protect the way of life of freedom-loving peoples. The suggestion that the Foreign Secretary has not carried out his responsibility as far as the Continent of Europe is concerned cannot be borne out by the facts. I remember very well my right hon. Friend taking immediate action On the Marshall speech which resulted in the Marshall Plan. I remember how quickly he called together the European nations to try to devise a plan whereby they could receive Marshall Aid to develop their industries which had been shattered by the war. The Foreign Secretary has done more than any other statesman during the past five years to build up a real spirit of co-operation between the nations of Western Europe—he has done more than anyone else.
§ Mr. McLeavy
The Foreign Secretary has set an example of devoted service to the cause of freedom and peace and of giving to the workers throughout the world their proper share of the fruits of their labours. I remember the lead which was given by my right hon. Friend in connection with India, Burma, Ceylon and other countries. The Leader of the Opposition criticised our decision on India and said that we were "squandering the Empire." But who was right? The Foreign Secretary had vision. More than that, he had the courage, with his colleagues, to put that vision into practical application in the British Commonwealth of Nations. But for that masterly stroke of meeting the legitimate demand of India for self-determination, we should today be in a very difficult position in that part of the East.
I believe that my right hon. Friend's policy has consolidated in India, Ceylon and Burma a spirit of co-operation, respect and understanding for this nation which would never have been achieved in any other circumstances. My right hon. Friend's actions will bear abundant fruit for mankind, because he has shown clearly to the world that this new British conception of freedom is not merely a matter of rhetorical speeches and promises to be broken after the end of the war; this Socialist Government have carried out their pledge to give, as far as they could, self-determination and self-government to 1402 the whole of our peoples. I am proud also that even in those areas which have not demanded autonomy and the right of self-determination, we are trying to build up a system whereby they may be able to manage their own affairs and play their part more effectively in the policy of the great British Commonwealth of Nations. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Foreign Secretary for his vision and guidance during these difficult years.
Had the Tory Party been returned to power in 1945, the situation would be entirely different. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), on his own admission, would not have given freedom to India. He was not prepared to "squander" the British Empire. Had 1945 seen the misfortune of the election of the Leader of the Opposition with a majority in the House, the position in the Far East would now be completely changed.
In opening today's debate, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the position at the end of the war. One of the tragedies of that time is that after we had had unity of purpose and common sacrifice, to win the war, we were not able to maintain that spirit with Russia and go on to try to build up the shattered parts of the world. If the attitude of Russia was based upon a suspicion of the Western democracies, it was indeed wrong. Never was there a time when it was as easy as it was then to make a settlement of all our differences and to get an understanding between East and West—when we could have worked together, not in spending so much of our resources in building up vast armies, navies and air forces or in an armaments race for the atomic bomb or for anything else, but in using our great financial resources to give to all peoples a better share of the fruits of their labours. Russia could well have played her part in this great endeavour.
The right hon. Member for Woodford today referred to confining the line in Korea to the "waist." What he said may be perfectly true, but it is easy for Members of this House to be wise after the event. It is easy to say in this House, "I told you so" or "I thought so"; but I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman or any other hon. Member would have said very much about this had the position been different.
1403 Then the right hon. Gentleman, no doubt after full reflection, said that war was nothing but a catalogue of mistakes. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as anyone else that when war starts mistakes are inevitable, mistakes which cost serious loss of life and suffering among the people. That is why we all hope and pray that the present state of affairs will not develop into a world war. Naturally, the House and the country are gravely concerned about the dangerous international situation which has arisen from what can only be described as a Soviet grand-scale plan to gain the balance of power by methods of waging war by proxy. They care little about the suffering of the people.
While they pretend to be anxious for world peace, while they talk of world peace and organise their conferences, their armies of fifth columnists march on, giving the peace of death to those who oppose their domination. We must face that. It is a danger not of Russia fighting a war openly, but of Russia fighting a war through the satellite countries. We must do our best to try to meet that situation. I believe that the problem, serious though it may be, is one which can be solved by a spirit of good will and fellowship among all concerned. There never was a time when it was more essential that the English-speaking world should be united in action and purpose. I sincerely believe that if the English-speaking people of the world are united in thought and action we can save the world from the danger which besets it—the danger of self-destruction.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) will forgive me if I do not follow closely the arguments expressed in his interesting speech, with a good deal of which I fully agreed.
The Foreign Secretary yesterday appealed for restraint and moderation in the speeches to be made in this debate. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can complain at the tone or the temper of the speeches which we have heard so far. The Foreign Secretary's speech itself was a model of restraint and moderation. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is doing his best in the tre- 1404 mendous difficulties presented by a global East-to-West war threat. Let us be frank about this. The day for pin-pricking speeches has passed, and it is the duty of every hon. Member to support the Foreign Secretary and the Government in this difficult and serious international situation.
The Leader of the Opposition and the deputy-leader both appealed for a measure of unity not only among our Allies but in this country. Events are moving very quickly. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) used to say, decisions are probably being taken by the inexorable march of events. I should like to put some questions to which I hope that the Prime Minister will be able to reply. I ask these questions on behalf of my hon. Friends who sit on the Liberal bench. The hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) in a speech which, whether we agreed with him or not, we all enjoyed listening to, referred to the statement which has appeared upon the tape machines and in the papers late this evening and which has aroused a great deal of anxiety in all parts of the House. As a result of that statement, the speech which I meant to make upon foreign affairs will not be delivered.
Instead, I want to put some questions to the Prime Minister. I realise that this American version is only a report upon the tape machine and that certain words are used in the statement made by President Truman at his Press Conference in Washington today defining the responsibility of the United Nations. The report which I got from the text was that the President is reputed to have said, in reply to a question from one of the Pressmen present, that the used of the atomic bomb in Korea is under active consideration. Then, I think, there followed some words with regard to the United Nations and their responsibilities—and they may, of course, be a qualifying phrase. The report continues by saying that the choice of weapons was a matter for the military commander in the field. This is a serious statement.
If the Prime Minister cannot allay our feelings tonight, I suggest that a statement should be made by His Majesty's Government in this House tomorrow, if possible. I should like to know whether this is the first that the Government have heard of (Tommorrow) 1405 the matter. Was this statement made to the Press the first intimation that the Foreign Office, the Foreign Secretary and the Government had that the use of the atomic bomb in Korea is under active consideration? It may be that the qualifying words about the responsibilities of the United Nations are of the utmost importance. But let us have them in this House. Let us be told the full facts. This is important.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) suggested that a Minister of senior rank should be at Lake Success. I am one of those who was fully prepared to pair to enable a senior Minister to go there. It would be a good example of national unity if that could be done.
I should like to ask the Government whether it is their intention—and I think they ought to be able to inform the House—that a senior Minister should be present and take part in these discussions on the atomic bomb. I have no criticisms to offer of the very able Minister of State, who I believe is doing a first-class job there, but I think this matter has aroused a great deal of anxiety, and the sooner the Government can make a statement the better. I hope they will be able to tell us, either today or tomorrow. I feel that the Prime Minister should go there, either with the Foreign Secretary or even alone, in order to see that the views of the British Government are known in these councils which are making this very grim and serious decision on which our whole future may depend.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I am glad that I have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville), because I have been listening for some time to a debate which began in a mood of very great seriousness, and the tone of which was set by the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), but which, in the growing seriousness of the situation, according to what we read on the tape, seems to have lost itself in a considerable amount of irrelevancy. I find that in the last few hours we have diverged to the party line in regard to European Union and other matters of that kind.
Quite frankly, I think the most realistic speech in the last several hours has been 1406 the one which we have Just heard, because it is useless, at this stage and in the circumstances as they are, for us to be discussing what might very well have been useful considerations—the rearmament of Germany, European Union and matters of that kind—in view of what has been happening in the last 48 hours, which makes it incumbent upon this House to declare in very clear fashion precisely where we stand in this critical situation.
I want to pay my tribute to the tone of the speech of the Foreign Secretary in this debate. Incidentally, at no time since the end of the war have we heard a speech on foreign affairs to which all hon. Members in my party and all parties in the country could have given such unanimous support. I think that was also borne out by the tone of the speech of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington, and I do not remember ever having listened to a more unanimous debate in the House of Commons on any subject of first-class importance that I can recall. It is extremely significant that many of those things which I would have said normally in a foreign affairs debate, apart from the present grave situation, have already, within the last 24 hours, become commonplaces in the debate, are now commonly accepted in all parts of the House, and will no doubt make a certain impression upon the Government.
What we are faced with at the moment is the fact of first-class aggression by Communist China, and what we have to ask ourselves is why the Chinese have committed that aggression. I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the policy of His Majesty's Government in trying to get Communist China recognised by the Security Council, but I find myself inevitably in some agreement with those who ask whether it is possible to press that claim at this juncture, until the situation has been cleared up. Nevertheless, I think it is necessary to consider why China has taken this terrible step.
Is it the fact, as has been suggested by quite a number of hon. Members, that China is nothing more than a tool of Russia, and that China is voluntarily and consciously working for the Russian grand strategy? Or is it that China has been driven to seek what support she can for ending a situation from which she has suffered for many years, and finds that 1407 the only support she can get is that of Soviet Russia? Other countries have taken that attitude in the past and have changed their minds later. If China is in the position that she can find no support from any quarter except Russia, then it is difficult to blame Communist China for turning to Russia for some support at present, whatever may be her future purpose. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington—and this is one of the few points on which I found myself slightly in disagreement with him—suggested that China's action can be taken as evidence that there is no prospect of China producing another Tito. I hope he may be proved wrong by the event.
I am quite sure that China is wise enough to realise that she has a very clear choice before her. Having achieved her revolution, having received the support of some members of the United Nations for the establishment of her place in the council of the Nations, having been thus successful after a long struggle to achieve that position, and being faced with a tremendous job of reconstruction; and having before her the opportunity, if she is wise, to begin that reconstruction with a new U.N.R.R.A., which helped not only Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary but Byelo-Russia and the Ukraine is it really possible that China is prepared, not only to prejudice all these possibilities, but to plunge herself and the whole world into a new total world war, in which neither victor nor vanquished will be able to reconstruct anything like a civilised standard of life in a generation? I do not think that China has that purpose in view. I believe that she has a short-term purpose in view, and that it is possible for us, with the right approach, to get an understanding with China in regard to the position in Korea.
Then we come to the question of our own side. I do not want to enter into any recriminations. I pay full attention to what has been said by the Foreign Secretary and the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition, about the vital need for the unity of the Western Powers in this situation. But I think it is also necessary that we should speak frankly to our Allies, because one of the great advantages which we claim for our democratic alliances is that we can speak frankly to each other. 1408 Therefore, without criticising or levelling any charges at all, I should like to put on record that very many of us in this House are beginning to wonder who is conducting United States policy at the present time. Whatever may have been said by one or two hon. Members in the debate, there is one thing we can be proud of in this situation, and that is that the record of the British Government has been impeccable. Our attitude to the liberation of territories in Asia, in regard to the recognition of Communist China, and in regard to various other matters has been impeccable.
Proposals have been made in the Security Council to bring the current situation to an end, and it is important that the Government should tell the country and the world that we were ready to play our part. While our record has been impeccable, there is grave uneasiness pervading the country at the present time. That uneasiness arises from the doubt whether, in fact, our position is being put forcibly and persistently enough in Washington, not because of any inadequacy, but because it is quite clear that, if statements are to come off the tape and over the wires from Washington as to what the President of the United States says about the purpose of the Security Council or the purpose of the United Nations Forces in Korea, it is just not enough to have the Minister of State or any of his colleagues only being able to consult an Under-Secretary and only keep touch with a senior Minister by telegrams sent over here.
I want to suggest to the Prime Minister tonight that in order to create that confidence which is so necessary in this country, a confidence which will rally our people and which will be expressed in the decisions that may be taken at Washington, however grave they may be, we must be satisfied that in every decision taken at the top level, our own top level representative is there to participate in those decisions. That, I suggest, would give more confidence to the House of Commons, to the party I represent, and to all sections throughout the country.
Therefore, I join with the hon. Member for Eye tonight in appealing to the Prime Minister on this great occasion not to go to Moscow—we want no Munichs or Berchtesgadens—but to go immediately to Washington where our 1409 own decisions are being taken, in order that the people of this country can be satisfied that our affairs are being conducted by people in whom we have the completest confidence.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Bower (Harrow, West)
I was very interested in what the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) said on the subject of China and her motives for launching this attack, and I found myself in almost complete agreement with what he said about the possibility of arriving at a settlement with China provided the situation is well and wisely handled. I shall have a word or two more to say about that in a moment, but, first of all, I want to say one or two things which I think perhaps many hon. Members may regard as being somewhat platitudinous but which I feel are not as fully or widely appreciated in some quarters as they might be.
It seems to me that one of the most important things we have to do if we are to avoid war is not only to convince Russia by means of rapid and effective rearmament that if she did attack in the West she would have no hope at all of a quick and easy victory, but also to convince her that our rearmament—and by that, of course, I mean the rearmament of our Allies as well—is being undertaken purely for defensive purposes and not in any way with the object of launching any aggressive attack against her.
I know there are many people who scout the idea that fear of the West plays any part at all in determining Russia's present behaviour and policy, but I do not share that view. I think it quite likely that the men in the Kremlin are obsessed with the theory, which I understands from Marx, that capitalism—that is the name they give to the political and economic system practised in the West, irrespective of the degree of Socialism that may prevail in individual countries—is doomed to collapse, and that prior to its collapse it will, in order to prolong its own lease of life, launch an attack on Russia as the citadel of Communism, the system which they believe is destined to replace it.
I think we have to show them that they are utterly wrong on both those points, and that, first of all, capitalism—and hon. Members will appreciate that I use the word in Stalin's sense and not 1410 in their—so far from being doomed to collapse, is in fact becoming stronger and more virile every day, and that, inasmuch as it depends for its strength and virility on the maintenance of peace, it has no intention whatever of lauching any attack on Russia. If we can convince them of those two things, and in addition, of course, that the peoples of the democratic countries are both able and willing in time of peace to bear whatever burdens are necessary to enable them to defend their freedom and independence, then there will be good grounds for thinking that there will be no war in the foreseeable future.
It seems to me that there is a good deal of evidence to indicate that at the present moment Russia's policy and tactics are once again in the melting pot, and there may be in the near future an opportunity of giving them a new and more beneficial direction. Therefore, I believe, with most other hon. Members. that not only should the Government do all in their power by putting forward, in conjunction with our Allies, alternative proposals to enable the holding of the meeting of Foreign Ministers which Russia has suggested, but that they ought to do something more than that. I believe that the time has come when the Prime Minister ought to take the initiative in promoting a meeting—and here I do not agree with the hon. Member for Attercliffe—between President Truman. Mr. Stalin and himself.
Like my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I am also a great believer in the personal touch, and although I have never met Mr. Stalin—and I am quite prepared to believe that he is much more difficult to get on with than most of the people I normally come up against—yet I still feel that such a meeting, even if the agenda were not carefully prepared and even if no concrete results emerged immediately, might have a very beneficial effect in improving the atmosphere and in helping to convince Stalin on the points I have mentioned.
Our policy must be based on the twin pillars of conciliation and strength. Mere strength and rearmament without a readiness to conciliate and to negotiate to see that justice is done will certainly lead to war. Equally, a policy of conciliation and compromise without the strength to support and back it up will degenerate 1411 into mere appeasement, and that equally certainly will lead to war. Our policy must be compounded of both in equal measure.
Nor, I submit, must we allow our ideological prejudices against Communism to mislead us into thinking that Communism and aggression are necessarily the same thing. The way to fight aggression, as we all know, is by military force, as we have been trying to do in Korea but the way to fight Communism is by proving to people that we have something infinitely better to offer, both as regards the way of life and the standard of living, than anything Communism can possibly offer. Because we can do that, I believe we have very little indeed to fear from Communism in this country.
It seems to me that there are two lots of dangerous people abroad in the Western world at the present time, both of whom are well meaning, but both of whom, if they were to get their way, would lead us into serious trouble. The first lot of dangerous people to whom I refer—and they are only a very small minority and mainly, I think, confined to this country and other countries on the Continent of Europe—are those pacifists and like-minded people who are under the impression that it is possible to secure peace by conciliation alone, without rearmament. The second lot of dangerous people—and in my view they are the more dangerous because they are a much larger number and more powerful, and are mainly confined, I think, to the United States, although there are some also to be found in Europe—are those who seem intent on taking advantage of the ill-repute into which the word "appeasement" has fallen in order to call any act of conciliation, however just and reasonable it may be, by the name of appeasement.
As I understand it, if one does something which is wrong or unjust in order to buy off trouble, that is appeasement, but to do something which is right and just in order to relieve international tension and improve the situation is not appeasement but conciliation. It seems to me that the people who are intent on taking advantage of the ill-repute into which this word "appeasement" has fallen have shown their hand from the 1412 beginning by refusing, among other things, to face the facts and by opposing the admission of Communist China to the Security Council, which, in my view, is long overdue.
I am very sorry indeed to have to disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) about this, but I think that if it were done today it would lead to an immediate lessening of international tension. It is quite wrong, and truly farcical that the representative of Chiang Kaishek's administration, which no longer has any vestige of power or authority over any part of the mainland of China, should be able to continue to sit and vote in the Security Council, and to take over the Presidency, as he is going to do tomorrow, and, if necessary, even to exercise the power of veto. Therefore, I urge the Government to continue to press unremittingly for the entry of the Peking Government into the United Nations.
I share the opinion of many other hon. Members, although for a different reason, perhaps, that the statement made on that subject by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs this afternoon was unclear and unsatisfactory. It was quite impossible to gather from that statement what the policy of the Government is on this matter. I hope that when the Prime Minister speaks tonight he will make the Government's policy with regard to the admission of China completely and abundantly clear.
I know it is emotionally very distasteful to many hon. Members to advocate any kind of concession to a Communist Government, just as it was emotionally distasteful to many people to contemplate any concession to Franco Spain, but we have to be realists in all these matters. After all, China has a greater interest in the future status of Korea than any other country, and I am convinced that there will be small chance of settling this problem permanently and satisfactorily until China has been brought into the Security Council, where it will be possible to discuss the matter properly.
It is absolutely useless to call upon a Government which we refuse to admit to our counsels to send a representative to reply to some charge, very much as one would summon a man to come to the police court and defend himself. That sort of thing will get one nowhere, as I 1413 think has been proved to the hilt in the case of what is happening in Korea. If the Peking Government were admitted to the United Nations, they would be very much less prone to indulge in these adventures in Korea, Tibet and Indo-China. It might be found that there is a great difference between what a nation does when it is excluded from the United Nations and when it is included. Of course, if, after being admitted, it continued to override the authority of the United Nations, we should at least know where we were, and it might then be proper to consider the reconstitution of the United Nations on the basis of admitting only those nations which proved that they would cooperate in carrying out United Nations principles.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
Would my hon. Friend be in favour of admitting China without the necessity of the Chinese saying that they were prepared to accept the United Nations Charter itself?
§ Mr. Bower
As I understand it, any country which wants to be admitted to the United Nations must accept the Charter, and I understand the Peking Government has expressed a desire to be admitted. Therefore, presumably they would accept the Charter. Certainly no nation that would not accept the Charter could be a member.
Finally, I think it extremely likely that Russia, despite her protestations, does not want the Peking Government to be admitted at all, but is far more interested in being able to exploit the exclusion of that Government and keep alive that sense of grievance against the Western Powers because of that exclusion. It is extremely foolish, on the part of the Western Powers, to continue to give her the opportunity to do that. Therefore, I feel that if the Government will persevere in what I believe to be their praiseworthy efforts hitherto to solve the Chinese problem, and at the same time adopt a slightly less orthodox and more imaginative policy in their approach to Russia, this country may yet be instrumental in leading the world towards a secure and stable peace.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Erdington)
The speeches that we have heard so far, with very few exceptions, 1414 have been speeches toned in moderation, in general, without any trace of the bellicose, and showing a realisation of the serious danger which menaces us at the present moment. The speech we have just heard from the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Bower) is no exception.
The events which, it seems, are taking place on the other side of the Atlantic would seem to render almost out-of-date most of the notes which have been prepared for speeches today. The tide is moving rapidly, and events are overtaking our thoughts. I do not know what truth there is in Press reports which reach us from the other side of the Atlantic. Whether they are true or untrue, the fact that they are being circulated at the present time underlines the gravity of the situation and the need for moderation and statesmanship.
I do not know what President Truman has in mind about the atom bomb, but I would say this, not so much to President Truman or to Mr. Dean Acheson, but rather to the back-seat drivers in America who talk so much. I do not think that the civilised world would readily forgive the use of the atom bomb on the open cities of China, which are not in any sense a military objective. Such action would simply amount and lead to a competition in barbarism. I do not know of anything which would more greatly strain or imperil the friendship or understanding between our two great nations than would an action of that sort. Having said that; I hope that these Press reports are untrue.
None the less it is necessary to be frank with some of the people in America at the present time, and, again, I am speaking in the main of the back-seat drivers. I can understand, perhaps, that they are a little anxious that we should proceed more rapidly upon the road which leads to a complete clash, that we should be less compromising, and that we should be less moderate. But I want these people to bear in mind that, if there is a major war, this country, and not America, will bear the brunt of it. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was quite right when he said that, if the Americans have 500 atom bombs and the Russians have 50, then it will be the crowded and teeming industrial areas of this country that will get the 50.
1415 To illustrate what I mean I will tell them a story. An employer sent his servant to collect a debt from a tough gentleman. When the servant went to get the debt the man told him, "Go away. If you come back again I will black both your eyes and break every bone in your body." The servant went back to his employer and told him what the man had said to him. His employer said, "You go back and tell him that he cannot intimidate me." I hope our American friends will appreciate the point.
A lot has been said about China, and I want to make a few observations on that subject. We are not dealing with seats on the Security Council as a reward for good conduct. We really cannot adopt this attitude of sugar candy in one hand and a stick in the other towards great nations representing large numbers of people. The plaint fact is that the United Nations was created to reflect the real repositories of power, and the United Nations is incomplete and lacks authority while a quarter of the world's population is outside it.
It is impossible to make any decision whatsoever about the Far East without drawing China into our councils. The last few days have illustrated that beyond any doubt. It is not so much a question of giving China a reward for what she has done or punishing her for what she has done; the fact is that it is necessary for the very purpose of the United Nations that she should be in our councils. Indeed, I think, as many others think, that if that had happened some time ago the unfortunate events which are at present taking place might well have been avoided.
I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has told us that a new approach is to be made to the Soviet Union. All nations have a vested interest in peace. Atom bombs would destroy alike the commissar and the banker. I cannot see any reason to assume that these efforts should be unfruitful. It has been pointed out that any such approach should not be made upon the basis simply of concessions on one side. There will have to be concessions on both sides. As has already been said, there is the danger that the government which made those concessions might be accused of appeasement. But there can be no agreement on the basis of a one-sided surrender. I, like the right hon. 1416 Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), hope that the negotiations will not be used simply as a method of propaganda for both sides, with the statesmen of both nations appealing to their own people and making their speeches for the consumption of their own people.
I also hope that the whole question of armaments will be considered in these negotiations. There can be no lasting agreement if this great race in armaments is allowed to proceed. I hope that something can be agreed upon which will satisfy our security and at the same time prevent the further encroachment of the immense burden of armaments upon the lives of the ordinary people in this country. These are some of the things which I think must feature in any agreement.
At this late stage I do not propose to take the time of the House any longer. I believe that the present situation is one of great menace. I believe it is also an occasion of great opportunity. For one moment the nations of the world have seen the precipice. I think they now realise the horrible danger of proceeding as we have been proceeding and we may well be now in a position to reach an agreement which will consolidate and safeguard the peace of the world.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
This has been a grim debate because of the menace which hangs over us all, but it has also been an encouraging debate in another respect because, throughout the House, it has shown the closing of the ranks in a way which I have not known in a foreign affairs debate for a very long time. That is of tremendous importance and I hope it will be noted in the appropriate quarters abroad.
That does not mean, of course, that we have not seen some differences of opinion. We have had within the last few minutes a very courageous speech by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Bower) with which all hon. Members on this side did not agree. Personally, I agree that it is necessary for countries to accept the Charter before they can he admitted to the United Nations, but the acceptance of the Charter is not just a question of writing a signature. It is a question of deeds—of showing by your actions that you mean to comply with the terms of 1417 the Charter. That is something which we have not yet seen from China.
§ Mr. Paton (Norwich, North)
Is it not a fact that the United States opposed the entry of China, contrary to all promptings of common sense and of law, for nearly a year before China made any breach of the Charter?
§ Mr. Macpherson
That may well be so, but the fact is that at the moment the Chinese People's Government are showing that they are not in line with the Charter and, whatever may be the reason, until they are it seems extremely difficult for U.N.O. to admit them.
One of the great difficulties facing this House, and one with which I hope the Prime Minister will deal tonight, is this: supposing we withdraw our troops to what is now called the "waist" of Korea. With whom are we to negotiate? General Wu, the representative of the Chinese People's Government, who has gone to the United Nations, has disclaimed responsibility for the Chinese troops in North Korea. It is the usual technique of war by proxy. He says the troops are all volunteers fighting under the North Korean command. I hope the Prime Minister will deal with that problem, it is a very real one.
The difficulty in dealing with China at present is her utter remoteness. We know from our own diplomatic experience that it is not just a question of whether she is recognised or not. I hope, too, that the Prime Minister will clarify a remark which was made by the Foreign Secretary yesterday: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 he avoided."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November. 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]Will the Prime Minister say exactly what his right hon. Friend meant by that? It can be given several and some very stringent interpretations.
One of the things upon which the House has been agreed is that there should be representation of His Majesty's Government at the highest level in Washington at the present time. I hope that is one of the things with which the Prime Minister will agree and that he will also agree to the re-creation as early as possible of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. That is of supreme importance in the near future.
1418 I think the Foreign Secretary was quite right to stress his willingness to negotiate to remove causes of war conditions. I think he was no less right to stress our willingness to re-arm. Unless we build up our strength I do not think it will succeed. The hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo), whom I am sorry not to see in his place, said yesterday that the main division in the world was between those who believed that war was inevitable and those who did not. The trouble is to know who believes that war is inevitable and those who do not. We do know that Lenist and Stalinist teaching is that war is inevitable. Do they really believe this or not? If they do believe it, are they prepared to recoil from that belief on the basis of some kind of negotiation? Because if they do believe it and are not prepared to recoil from it, there really is very little possibility of negotiations succeeding in any permanent sense.
I agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that if the world is divided into two blocs of nations, as he said, each suspicious and fearful of the other, and each building up armaments, war then is inevitable. It may be that war is inevitable. There is a point at which war becomes inevitable. Up to then the wills of free men can operate. I do not believe that at the moment we have reached that point. I believe that there is a turning back.
The Under-Secretary of State has spoken of the acceptance of the "necessity" for German rearmament. One of the few things on which we have been agreed with Russia is on the demilitarisation of Germany. Russia's own actions in despoiling Germany of a vast slice of territory in the East have made it all the more important both to Poland and herself that Germany should not be remilitarised. We ought not to forget that we solemnly committed ourselves to the demilitarisation of Germany. Of course, we do not consider that Russia has carried out her part of the bargain, but in creating the Bereitschaften has Russia in fact rearmed Eastern Germany? I am told that the amount of armament is not heavy—that is, the amount of armaments possessed by the Bereitschaften in Eastern Germany—and that it is quite insufficient to enable her to make war in the modern sense.
I want to ask what are our intentions? What are those of France and the United 1419 States in regard to Western Germany? Will the German units that we intend to include in our European Army be more heavily armed than the Bereitschaften or not? If they are, who is to supply them in the reasonably near future with the tanks and other heavy armaments that would be required? France cannot supply her own troops. Can we, when we are so very short? Are the United States to supply their late enemies in preference to their late Allies?
I suggest that the worst service that could be rendered, in trying to establish a sense of community of interest between Germany and the other nations of the West, would be to hold out to Germany the prospect of contributing to an integrated European Force, and then not to allow her to contribute on equal terms or to have the same kind of arms as her comrades in arms. That would be greatly resented in Germany. For example, all the other countries have conscription. Ought Germany to have it also? If we are to ask Germany to supply a volunteer force, such as we had before the last war, are we going to starve it of heavy arms and at the same time prevent the Germans from providing arms for themselves? I do not think that we can pursue that policy with any kind of success.
Surely the right policy for us to pursue—even if it is only a question of propaganda which is such an important element in these days—is to say to the Russians, "You have provided in Eastern Germany Bereitschaften. We shall do the same on the same scale in Western Germany and in the same proportion to population." If we do that, we can come to any examination such as has been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington with clean hands. If we do not, we shall be putting into the hands of the Russians a real point of attack. I do not believe that from that time onwards it will be possible to negotiate with the Russians. That, to my mind, is the point of no return.
If we are to establish Bereitschaften in the West as is in the East, naturally we have to say to the Germans, "If you are attacked, whether from Eastern Germany or from anywhere else, we shall come to your assistance and we will include 1420 your Bereitschaften under our supreme command." It is wrong in my view—I put this to the Prime Minister in the hope that he will deal with the point—to take action which is not necessary in itself and which will be in conflict even with what Russia has done in Eastern Germany, until we have explored every other possibility.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. N. H. Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)
I shall only follow the line of argument of the non. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) thus far, that if I understood him correctly he is opposed to the ideas which are now popular for rearming the German people. I am not sure whether he was for or against it, but I rather fancy that he came down against it to the point of no return. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary once described the decision to rearm Germany as "a frightful one." I am one of those who still regard it as a frightful decision which should not in any circumstances he supported by Members of this House, and I regret to see signs that the Government are yielding on the point from the very strong stand they have taken in the past.
Statements have been made about dividing the world into two ideological camps, and as a division between those who regard war as inevitable and those who do not. The division I would make is between those who advocate policies which make war inevitable and those who advocate policies which will admit of efforts at association and accommodation among the great Powers of the world. There may be a few lunatics on both sides of this House, but apart from those I believe that nobody subjectively desires that war should arise out of the difficulties with which the world is faced. Unfortunately, many people who wish well in that respect advocate policies which would lead to war.
I think that German rearmament, on which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary took such a firm stand for a number of years, is one of those key points view with the deepest distrust either the sincerity or the clear-sightedness of those who tell me that they favour a negotiated peace with the Eastern European Powers, and who demand, at the 1421 same time, that before negotiations are commenced we should take powder kegs to the areas where the sparks are likely to fly most quickly.
We are told that at all costs we must preserve our unity with the U.S.A. Unless we are prepared to go blindfold into another adventure in the Far East, we have to know what unity is behind what policy. Is it unity behind the policy expressed by the Foreign Secretary yesterday, or unity behind the policies which have been pursued, contrary to our desires, by the United States in dealing with the Far East question? I have promised to be very brief in this debate, so I will narrow my attention to this small point.
The Foreign Secretary has given tangible evidence to this House that he is pursuing a course calculated to prevent the extension of the war in the Far East. He has done his best to bring the Chinese People's Government into the United Nations. I hope that he will continue with those efforts. As has been pointed out, the United Nations exist to reconcile conflicting interests without war. Those who wish to exclude the Chinese People's Government, representing some 400 million people and a huge area in the Far East, must have somewhere in their mind the absence of desire to settle the problems confronting that area without war.
America is deeply divided upon the subject. The American Government, it is known, has been continuously afflicted and lately very successfully afflicted by a lobby known as the China lobby in the U.S.A. The China lobby consists of what, I think, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would call a formidable conspiracy of vested interests who seek to replace the Chinese People's Government by the Chiang Kai-shek Government. Their original machinations were largely stopped by General Marshall, who reported his contempt of the Chiang Kai-shek Government to his own Government, as the result of which they abandoned support of it.
The China lobby so far has been strong enough to prevent a constructive policy being adopted by the United States towards the Chinese People's Government. The sad fact really is that the China lobby influence none other than the Supreme Commander of the United Nations Forces, 1422 General MacArthur. These are people whose aim in the world is to replace the People's Government of China by the Chiang Kai-shek regime. It is quite apparent that this can only be done by war in which Chiang Kai-shek is backed by American force. It is obviously their purpose to bring the American Government into an armed clash with the Chinese People's Government. I am bound to say that it causes me considerable alarm when I attempt to assess the enormous resources possessed by the China lobby. It causes considerable alarm when I see the policy advocated by His Majesty's Government in relation to Korea and China being ignored or overruled by the Supreme Commander himself.
I want to refer to one question which is current in what is known as informed quarters in London. There are hon. Members on both sides of the House who are sceptical of the suggestion that the Chinese Government have acted because they honestly fear for the safety of their country. The British Government wisely realised that the Chinese Government must have such apprehensions, and instructed the British representative in Peking to put to the Chinese Government as proof of our peaceful intentions a suggestion that there should be a neutral buffer zone in Korea between the Manchurian border and the United Nations Forces.
I want to ask the Prime Minister whether it is true that, within 48 hours of that suggestion having been put up to the Chinese Government, and while it was being considered by them, General MacArthur publicly announced that no such negotiations could be entertained and commenced his "Home for Christmas" offensive. If it is true, it is plain that it is yet another triumph for the China lobby in sabotaging the constructive policy being pursued by His Majesty's Government.
I should like to make reference to the declaration by President Truman which has appeared in the papers. I am not going to speculate with those professionals skilled in understanding these Press conferences of the American President. I am bound to say that the sum total effect on me of the interview reported on the tape of the President with his journalists in relation to the atomic bomb, was one 1423 of great shock at the levity with which he appears to treat what would be the most accursed act which yet—
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, Northfield)
On a point of order. Is it not a fact that the President of the United States, according to the Rules of the House, should not be attacked? [Interruption.] I am asking for your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I submit that I am entitled to silence in putting my point of order. I ask whether it is not an attack or reflection on the President of a friendly State for an hon. Member to say that his behaviour shocked him, and that he was shocked by the President's levity at his Press conference?
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
Perhaps I might be allowed to answer one point of order at a time. I do not think it is an attack to say that one is shocked by something that someone has said.
§ Mr. Lever
I am sure that I carry all right-thinking Members with me, and that I shall be serving the interests of Anglo-American friendship in the long run, if I make it clear, and if the House by its reaction makes it clear, or the Prime Minister in reply to the debate makes it plain, that it is utterly repugnant to the British public at the present time that any Government should seriously contemplate unloosing this abominable weapon on the sorely pressed, hard tried, and pitifully fed people of China.
I cannot conclude without commenting on and endorsing the speech made by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Bower). It was the most realistic speech I have heard in the debate. He showed a spirit of realism, and a willingness to see negotiations which can relieve the world from the threat of immediate war. I have every confidence that the Prime Minister will reinforce that and will say that the Government remain determined to pursue a peaceful policy in relation to China, and to prevent an extension of the war, a policy which they have already shown.
If there is any tragedy about the Foreign Secretary, it is that he has so 1424 often been right—more often than not—but that his obstinacy has seemed to be reserved for the occasions when he has been wrong, and his weakness has been in yielding on too many important questions when he has been right. I refer to the questions of the rearmament of Germany and international control of the heavy industries in the Ruhr, questions upon which the Foreign Secretary has taken a stand from which, unfortunately, he has retracted under American pressure. All that His Majesty's Government have done on the Chinese question has the backing of all the peace-loving people of this country. We hope the Foreign Secretary and the Government will stand firm this time no matter what pressure is exerted.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheetham (Mr. N. H. Lever) need have no anxiety about the nervous state in which he anticipated I should be. My "nervosity," or whatever word one likes to use, was confined simply to the question of whether another hon. Member would be able to intervene before the hour at which I thought it wise to rise to bring our debate to an end so far as this side of the House is concerned. I do not think we have lost anything by his having made his speech, despite the points of order raised.
The conduct of foreign affairs and of the relationship of our Government and country with other governments becomes involved with the question of national survival. We have had many debates on foreign affairs, in almost all of which I have had the honour to take part. We have today had an amiable and interesting debate, described in Foreign Office language as a tour d'horizon, and it has confined itself to matters which are non-controversial, resulting in the minimum of interest being taken in the subject. Tonight I do not think there is any doubt that the whole House and the country are deeply concerned and anxious about the situation which faces us. Most urgent and alarming issues come before us today, and only recently some fresh issues, to which I wish to refer later, have shown not only the deep anxiety of hon. Members, but also a very widespread and almost universal sense of responsibility 1425 for the fears and troubles which we are facing.
My business at this late hour is to sum up the point of view, which has already been put with far greater clarity than I could put it by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and by several other Members of this House, who have put their case with clarity and fairness. The trend of our national policy for some time past has been rightly moving towards closer and closer association and co-operation with the United States of America—about which I shall have something to say later—and with the British Commonwealth.
The first conclusion I wish to draw from this debate, through listening to the speeches made by the Foreign Secretary and by others in the House, is that the voice of Britain must be heard henceforth with far greater authority in the councils of the free democracies of the world, and in particular in the councils of the United States. We must urge that need with as much strength as we can command. I believe there is universal approval in this House and country for closer working with the United States, to whom we should be bound with hoops of steel.
I have tumbled, perhaps by chance, into a phrase of that wise old man Polonius, who with Dr. Johnson and a few others have become the wise and almost permanent counsellors of the human race in trouble. I am obliged to continue with Polonius, though it was accidentally that I quoted this wise and distinguished old man, but he said on one occasion:BewareOf entrance to a quarrel; hut, being in, Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.That seems to me to sum up admirably the attitude which this House should adopt towards the possibility of war with China at the present time. I should like to say quite firmly that we on this side of the House are determined, if possible, so to exert our influence, in the limited way we can exert it in debate and speeches of this sort, in order to avoid becoming embroiled in a war with China at the present time.
I was very much impressed by a statement made in the United States by Dr. 1426 Jessup, whom we all admire, reported in "The Times" of 28th November last. He used these words, which I quote in full because they so well represent the point of view upon which I feel strongly:It is easy to get into a war … it is always difficult to keep the peace… It is perfectly clear that nothing would give more satisfaction to those directing the strategy of Communist imperialism than to see the United States entangled in a full-scale war on the mainland of Asia.He goes on to say:There are thoughtless people in this countrythat is in America—who would have us fall into this trap.… The effort to maintain peace is always the first study of those in charge of the foreign policy of the United States.I do not think the feelings I have could be expressed better, and as far as I was able to understand the attitude of the Foreign Secretary, he agrees with those sentiments and would follow that policy. Thus we are in agreement, His Majesty's Government, His Majesty's Opposition and the opinion of the section represented by Dr. Jessup in the United States of America, that that should be our general approach to the problems of today.
If that be the case, I now want to come immediately to some circumstances which have arisen this evening, and which have caused many of us great concern and anxiety. I refer to the reports, at not very great length in the evening papers, and at rather greater length on what we call "the tape," of a Press conference and statement issued by the President of the United States of America. The hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), who spoke earlier in the debate, referred to these matters shortly, and I think fairly. I certainly do not wish in any way to exaggerate the importance of these statements. I understand that they were made at a Press conference, and those of us who have any experience of these matters, especially perhaps one right hon. Gentleman opposite, know what difficulty there is in circumstances when one may feel that one has not been properly represented.
But leaving that on one side, the first anxiety which arises in one's mind—and I think generally in the minds of hon. Members, as I have been able to ascertain them in the corridors and other places in this House this evening—is a statement 1427 that was made by the President in answer to a question, that the use of the atom bomb would be subject to the discretion of the commander in the field. If that be the case, I want to express, at any rate on my own behalf, and I believe on behalf of a great many other hon. Members, my very great disquiet at such a suggestion. The hon. Member for Cheetham stated as well as I can, the horror that many of us would feel at the use of this weapon in circumstances which were not such that our own moral conscience was satisfied that there was no alternative. I cannot put it more fairly than that.
I must not exaggerate this matter. I notice in the only information that we have had on this subject in this House this evening, and I have noticed in the short extracts I have been able to cull from the evening newspapers, that a note has been added that the use of the atom bomb must depend upon the decision of the President of the United States of America. That I believe to be the exact case.
I am also informed—and I ask the Prime Minister for confirmation, because he must have been as interested, if not shocked, by some of these statements as we have been—I ask the Prime Minister whether it is true that a statement has since been issued from the White House at Washington indicating the exact legal position under which the atom bomb can be sanctioned. I believe such a statement has been issued—I have only picked it up from hearsay—and if so, it may satisfy us that no great development of policy has taken place in this connection. If so, I think the House deserves to be reassured on this point, and I hope the Prime Minister will turn his attention to what I am saying.
A further statement made in this release which we have had so rapidly this evening in this country is that the President has stated that the Commander-in-Chief may use bombers in Manchuria on the Manchurian bases. In this case, in the reports that have come to my attention, there is the reservation that the use of such aircraft would be subject to the approval of the United Nations. That is, I think, an accurate account of what we have received as ordinary people in this country.
1428 All I can say about that is that the use of aircraft in Manchuria may indeed be necessary if we examine realistically the serious strategic position which has undoubtedly arisen in North Korea at the present time. For example, even if we were to hold the "waist" or "neck," or whatever thin part of the body we call that section of Korea, it might be the fact that the Chinese would not "let up." If they did not "let up" on our troops, it might be necessary to take action to safeguard the safety of our lines and the lives of our own troops of the United Nations. So we must not make any decisions tonight which would prejudice any future developments.
I can only say that this question of extending the war into Manchuria by the use of aircraft, subject to the approval of the United Nations, raises the whole question of whether this war with China can in any foreseeable future be brought to an end. Therefore, it is a matter of first-class political and strategic importance. I say this to the Prime Minister and to the Government: of one thing I am certain, and it is that the British people as a whole wish to be sure, before their fate is decided in this respect, that they are helping to decide their own fate. This leads me to say that there is a very heavy responsibility upon His Majesty's Government, and the Prime Minister this evening in closing this debate, to reassure our people that things are not running away from them in a direction which the British public does not want.
The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) asked earlier in the debate yesterday, in an intervention, how we knew that the British Government had not been consulted, or had exercised their influence and had been turned down? The hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo), introduced into his speech what Walter Savage Landor might have described as an imaginary conversation between himself and the President of the United States of America in which the President is alleged to have said:We agree with you; we should like to do that; but we are not sure how far we can carry our Republicans with us'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1265.]Both those hon. Members have raised questions of substance. They have raised the question of the extent of consultations existing between His Majesty's 1429 Government and the United States Administration at the present time. I cannot answer the points raised by the hon. Member for Davenport or by the hon. Member for Reading, South. I have no personal information of the consultations which have taken place, nor would it be proper if I had had, but I cannot believe—and I say this in favour of the Government—that the Foreign Secretary and the Government have not exerted to the full the influence which they ought to exert in the present difficult circumstances. We look to the Prime Minister for a reassurance on that point.
It is quite clear, I think, that our association with the United States of America must be knitted very much closer than it is at the present time. Very rarely in my career have I been delighted, and, indeed, satisfied, to quote from an article in "Tribune," particularly when it comes from one of the recent pamphlets in the first of which I was featured in a rather unfavourable light. The second "Tribune" pamphlet, entitled "Full Speed Ahead—A Socialist Foreign Policy," starts by giving the reasons why the Labour Government should associate with the United States and why this course is "right and unavoidable." I am not quite sure about the word "unavoidable," because I like that course myself. But that course, it says, is "unavoidable."
At the same time"—this article continues—we believe that a good case can he made for the view that Britain has tended to underplay her hand in this association.However much the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister may feel that they have played their hand, we feel, and I think there is a feeling in the country, that that hand has not been played strongly enough up to date.
This leads me to a proposal which was made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, that contact should be made in Washington or at Lake Success, New York, at a far higher level than it has been made hitherto. If the Prime Minister were to respond to this request by my right hon. Friends, if he were to consider that a senior Member of the Government, no less, perhaps, than himself, were to go to Washington or to New York at this 1430 time, he would, I am convinced carry with him the good will and good wishes of a great section of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I believe that if the Prime Minister, or the Foreign Secretary, or some senior Member of the Government were to charge himself with such a mission, he would help to restore confidence in the minds of the people of this country that, as I said earlier, they were helping to decide their own fate and their own future destiny. I feel convinced that this is a matter which requires personal handling at the highest level.
I have one or two points to add to what I have said about the situation in Korea, but I hope that the Prime Minister will answer some of the major anxieties which have been caused by this release of news this evening, which I have attempted to put in perspective without exaggerating, and which may well prove to be not so alarming as we thought at first sight.
I want to add simply on the position in Korea that we should be very much relieved if we had from the Prime Minister an assurance that our troops who are fighting there have their needs met at the present time. Our hearts are with them in their present struggle. They have been, as we have seen in the newspapers, sent "into the gap," and we all know what that may mean. We know what it may mean in casualties, and we know how many hearts in England—and, indeed, in Scotland—are thinking of them tonight. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Let us have an assurance from the Government that our men are being supported with the clothing, materials and supplies that they need.
I do not wish to raise any controversy on this subject, but let us be assured also that it is possible, under circumstances of difficulty which we have noticed in civil aviation at present, for proper air transportation of mail, supplies, Red Cross supplies and so forth, from this country. If the Prime Minister can give us this assurance, he will comfort many people tonight.
Now I want to pass to questions relating to policy at the United Nations. I have raised questions of policy as they affect strategy and the direct relationship between Governments which still remains, so to speak, the direct drive or belt on which policy is conducted. I now want to refer to policy at the United Nations, 1431 because it is from the United Nations that the moral authority for this campaign emanates. I must say that I agree with the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) that the statement of the Under-Secretary brought no clarity at all into the position about the recognition of China or her association with us on the Security Council or in the United Nations. I believe the legal position to be above doubt, namely, that, as a permanent member, once the Government of China are recognised, they can take part in the discussions in the United Nations.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross) indicated assent.
§ Mr. Butler
The Attorney-General nods his head and gives me that confidence which he can always impart to those who seek his legal advice. If that be the position, there is not very much argument about this matter; but I think that we should preserve a moral position vis-à-vis China at present. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington quoted some words of the Under-Secretary, who said, on 20th November:I think that the action taken by the Chinese is inexcusable and unforgivable."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 165.]When the hon. Member for Maldon asks us to avoid unnecessary provocation, I should like to ask our troops fighting in North Korea whether they have not had provocation enough from the troops of Red China. That does not mean that I want to exaggerate what the hon. Member said, because by provocation I believe that he meant the extension of the bombing into Manchuria and something rather over the present odds. If I can accept his words at that, there is more sense in them.
I should like to make it clear that we do not hasten to welcome China at present unless she can prove that her policy of aggression is not a permanent one. In particular, we should like to ask the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama, and those who are at present packing up their belongings to flee before the Chinese incursion, whether they regard themselves as having been unduly provoked. We must remember, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington 1432 said, quoting Mr. Patel, that China at present is drunk with power. Those who are drunk with power are not easily appeased.
I want also to avoid going to the other extreme and following up the language of Mr. Warren Austin at the United Nations and arraigning China as an aggressor before the United Nations. I think, putting it plainly, that it would be disastrous to use the machinery of the United Nations for the purpose of extending rather than curtailing the war. I hope that the influence of His Majesty's Government has been exercised in this connection to use the machinery of the United Nations to curtail the conflict and to bring it nearer to an end rather than, by sticking to legal formula, to extend it and make it more permanent.
There is a great deal of other material which I could use, but I want to leave an opportunity to the Prime Minister to reply to the points, which I think are of great importance to the country and which I made in the earlier part of my remarks. I shall confine myself to one or two further observations before I conclude. We feel that, besides defining our objectives in Korea, allaying anxieties about our objectives in extending or curtailing the war, besides making clear what our policy is at the United Nations, the Government must indicate that they have practical plans for handling the inter-governmental problems of the free democracies on a global or world plane.
We have previously mentioned the need for avoiding the overlapping of machinery. It was as early as November, 1945, that my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington pressed for some European integration of the nations. It was not until March, 1948, that the Brussels Pact was signed. The Fulton speech which presaged the whole Atlantic arrangements was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford in March, 1946. It was not until April, 1949, that the Atlantic Pact was signed. At other times, I and other speakers have pressed for specific pacts or arrangements whereby the problems in the Far East could be brought more into the picture. We have welcomed the progress made, but we have been astonished at the slowness of the operation, and we now want to be assured that the strategic, the economic and the political policies of the free 1433 democracies, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, are run on a world basis.
At the present moment, I am convinced that there is overlapping of the Atlantic Pact machinery and the Brussels Pact machinery, and I am certain that, when we want to move a unit from one part of the world, say, Canada, to the Far East or elsewhere, there is not the necessary machinery on the eastern side of the circuit to carry it through without overlapping and delay. It is, in fact, essential to make this machinery on a world basis. At present, we appear to be playing chess on our side and preparing to feel our way, while the great tactician at the Kremlin seems to have the central control of events. We have got somehow to put our machinery on such a basis that we can get decisions speedily and satisfactorily. In this connection, I was very glad to note the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), who always contributes to our debates in a most enlightened manner, and I also trust that the recommendations made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford on the subject of the Chiefs of Staff Committee will be followed up by the Government.
I had intended to refer to the need for bringing the whole of South-East Asia into this plan, and to make some observations about the Middle East, but time does not allow. I only beg that this race between independence and the growth of nationalism, on the one hand, and the free way of life and Communist exploitation of poverty in the nations of South-East Asia, on the other, will be won, thanks to this great new Commonwealth plan and in other ways, by those of us who favour the doctrine of independence and dealing with poverty in such a way as we can apply our economic resources to mitigating its worst effects. If we win that race in a vital part of the world, it must lead to a greater understanding of where we are tending in this great world situation.
Political statesmanship, or what is called diplomacy in its higher ranges, is lagging behind constructive economic thought. At the same time, the military art, however successful it may have been practised in recent operations, cannot be successful unless the framework in which it is to operate is decided by statesmen. We have to ask ourselves whether states- 1434 men can influence events or whether we are mere corks on the surface of the turbulent tidal waters. I refuse to think that, with the tradition of statesmanship of this country, shared by all sides and descended from our own traditions in the past, we cannot succeed in finding a way out. If we are to have negotiations, as suggested by my right hon. Friends, they must be from strength, but we must never compromise with our liberties or with the liberties of the free world. We must remember the words of the Inquisitor in Dostoievsky's "The Brothers Karamazov," in which he said:No science will give men bread as long as they remain free.… Men will become convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious.… We shall triumph, and then we shall plan the universal happiness of man. We shall persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom to us and submit to us. We shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like a child's game.We cannot live in circumstances like that, but we can save the world and ourselves if we keep our unity and increase our strength. Let this warning spur us forward in the gigantic constructive efforts which we must make together.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I am sure that the whole House was delighted with the speech of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler). I did not find anything really with which to disagree in the main propositions he put before us, and, indeed, it has been the note of this two-days' debate that there has been remarkable agreement on the broad lines of the policy we desire to see pursued and the ends we hope to achieve. I would apologise to the House for not having been in attendance as much as I could have wished during the debate, but events are passing very rapidly—the pressure is rather heavy—and I have to attend to them.
I thought that the debate, though on a serious subject, was calm. Although it recognised that we live in serious times there was no hysteria, and I thought that it was generally on a high level both as regards back benches and Front Benches. Might I say a word of particular welcome for the birthday speech of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill)?
1435 There were really three main themes running through the discussion. First of all, there was the obvious longing of everybody for the preservation of peace. I cannot believe that even anybody from behind the Iron Curtain could have failed to detect that note. We all desire to see the war in Korea brought to an end as speedily as possible with the assertion of the authority of the United Nations against aggression, and I should like to join in the tribute that has been paid to the troops of America, the British Commonwealth and others who are fighting this difficult battle. May I at this point assure the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden that all British troops in Korea are fully clothed and equipped for fighting in cold weather conditions. Adequate reinforcements are in Korea, and they have all the weapons and equipment which they need to enable the troops to carry out their tasks.
We want to bring the war in Korea to an end, but we want to get a settlement of the Korean problem, and that means that we also want to get a settlement of our relations and the relations of the rest of the world with China, because, after all, what we want to see is a real settlement in this part of the world. It is no good thinking that we can get something temporary which will relieve the unfortunate Koreans of the fear that what has happened to them once may happen again. Chinese and Koreans have got to live side by side, and therefore we want to get a settlement, not only of this immediate Korean problem, but also of the problem of China. I shall have a word to say a little later on some aspects of that.
I should like to say here that the second big problem which has emerged in this discussion, which was opened by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, was the question of how we can get on terms with Russia. It is our desire, reiterated over and over again, that we, in concert with our Allies, should be able to come to a settlement with Russia. There has been emphasis, over and over again, on all the difficulties, and we know them, but, as my right hon. Friend said, we would not reject any possibility of discussion, provided there is not going to be merely futile discussion We must deal with the realities of the situation and, as my right hon. Friend explained, we 1436 are now working out with our friends an agenda for such a meeting.
I think that the third point that emerged in the debate was that we all realise that an essential element for getting such discussion should be that we should have adequate strength in order that we might deal on reasonably level terms; and that is why we have been pressing so hard for the building up of Atlantic defence. I was glad to see the statement by the President of the United States with regard to a Supreme Commander. It has taken a long time, but do not let it be thought that it is always the fault of this Government. The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden contrasted the position of the democracies with that of a monolithic state like Russia. There always is that advantage on the side of autocracy, because we have to work by agreement, and it has taken a long time, far longer than we wished, to try and get agreement. On such a matter as the Atlantic Pact there has to be work for months and months before we can achieve anything of that kind and it eventually emerges into daylight.
It is a feature in all our debates, almost inevitably, that speakers in this House, or sometimes in another place, make very valuable suggestions that are widely welcomed, but it is not infrequent for those suggestions to be the very policies which my right hon. Friend has been advocating with our friends and Allies. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) knows, how often does one enter into discussions with one's friends—and the matter is naturally confidential at that stage when discussions go on—and then the idea which is being thrashed out comes to light in a speech. No doubt, the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington has sometimes said, "I wish I could have said something about that long ago and perhaps then they would not think that it had come from somebody else."
§ The Prime Minister
Exactly. Take, for instance, the very valuable suggestion the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington made with regard to the position in Korea, and the conception of holding a line somewhere and getting a kind of breathing space there so that we could 1437 have a discussion. We ourselves have put forward that kind of view, the idea of a demilitarised zone, of a halt so that one could get discussion. But should the Chinese prove ready—I hope they will—to act by peaceful means rather than by force, I think a suggestion of that kind is just one of the things that might form part of the negotiations, and I welcome suggestions of that kind.
I think we are all conscious today of the very great burden that the United States of America is bearing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] They are bearing the heaviest share in fighting for the principles and ideals of the United Nations, and I think we ought to have the very greatest sympathy with the American families who are bereaved. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is a very heavy loss. We have had losses ourselves which we deplore, but the American losses are very heavy. I am quite sure that the preservation of the free and democratic life of the peoples of the world depends on the closest cooperation between the Commonwealth and the United States of America. Let us not allow anyone to drive a wedge between us. There is a great responsibility on the British Commonwealth and the United States of America, acting of course with a great number of other States. We welcome the efforts of the others who are supporting U.N.O., but we all know that there is a big responsibility inevitably on the United States of America and Great Britain.
I do not think it is true to say that we do not use to the full the weight of influence which we can command. That again is, of course, a matter in which in the ordinary course of diplomacy one does not get up in the House of Commons and say, "Another State did this or that because they were influenced by what we said." One cannot obviously give any evidence of that. But I would say that there is close and constant daily consultation with our friends on all these matters. The right hon. Member for Woodford mentioned in particular the question of closer coordination of military planning between ourselves and the United States authorities. In particular he suggested that the Combined Chiefs of Staff should be reestablished That is a point well worth thinking of, but I should not like any- 1438 one to think that because the Combined Chiefs of Staff was formally abolished there was a cessation of all consultation and co-ordination. That has not been the case.
As the House knows, Lord Tedder, who enjoys the full confidence of His Majesty's Government and is one of our most experienced strategists, is resident in Washington. There are standing arrangements for the exchange of views with the United States Government and, indeed, with other friendly governments, but particularly closely with the United States Government on all levels; and the views of His Majesty's Government are always made known to the United States Government in regard to general strategy in Korea and, indeed, elsewhere.
That system of consultation can be and is supplemented as need arises by personal visits at all levels between our respective military and Service advisers. That system is flexible. Where adjustments are needed they will be made, but in all those matters we have to consider existing arrangements under the North Atlantic Treaty and the position of our partners in the Commonwealth. But the system does work because we have common purposes and common ideals. The right hon. Member for Saffron Waldon talked about overlapping, I think, as between the Atlantic Treaty and the Brussels Treaty. I agree there has been something of that kind, because the Brussels Treaty preceded the Atlantic Treaty and we are in the process of trying to smooth out those difficulties.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer—a comment by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington about progress in rearmament. It was suggested that it was going slowly. We authorised expenditure of £200 million as a first instalment. Considerably more than half that total sum has been converted into firm orders and the placing of the rest is well in hand. In addition, we have given authority for placing such further orders as are necessary to maintain and create adequate productive capacity to ensure the fulfilment of the planned programme over the next three years.
A further £250 million worth of orders has already been authorised. This covers the whole of the aircraft for delivery in the first two years of the programme and 1439 of such aircraft for delivery in the third year as it is necessary to order now to ensure the creation of new production lines. There have been advanced orders for machinery and, in the Admiralty programme, for new anti-submarine and mine-sweeping vessels; and action has been taken to ensure that our existing capacity of production for tanks shall be used to the full, and there is a special inquiry into the creation of new capacity. A meeting has been held with representatives of industry to give them preliminary indication of the scope of the programme, and that is being followed by the supply of further information. That matter is marching.
The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden referred to a statement which appeared on the tape as having been made by President Truman. He is reported to have said at his Press conference today that the use of the atomic bomb in Korea was under active consideration, although he hoped its use would not be necessary. He is further reported to have said that the choice of weapons was a matter for the military commander in the field. I understand from His Majesty's Ambassador in Washington that a correction has since been issued. I think it is now on the tape. It makes it clear that under the MacMahon Act the decision to use the bomb can only be taken by the United States executive after political consideration. There would therefore seem to be no question of a decision of this kind being taken solely by the military authorities. In any case, His Majesty's Government consider that a decision of such grave import could not be taken on behalf of the United Nations without the fullest prior consultation with those member States who are at present participating in international police action in Korea.
During these last few days events have moved very rapidly in Korea. The whole position has changed; indeed, it has been changing from hour to hour and the intervention of large Chinese forces has raised new problems. The Government have been giving very close consideration to all those issues raised. I should like to say than on all those matters our relationship with our American friends is very close and very cordial. The ambassadors, of 1440 course, on either side are very valuable links. The Foreign Secretary and the American Secretary of State have had meetings in the spring and meetings in October, and they have established very close and intimate relations. In the same way the Minister of Defence has recently visited the United States and talked with General Marshall.
We do believe that it is essential in these matters that the written word should always be reinforced as far as possible with personal contacts, and it has been present to our minds that a renewal of personal contact between the President of the United States of America and myself might at this stage be useful. I have, therefore, proposed to President Truman that I should visit him in order that we might, in an intimate way, take a wide survey of the problems which face us today. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I believe that such an interchange of views might be of advantage to both countries and to the cause of peace. We have not yet received any reply to these proposals, but I am hoping to get agreement, and if it is agreed I shall lose no time in going over to the United States of America. I last saw President Truman in 1945. I am quite sure that visits of this kind are useful, that we can understand each other's minds.
I believe it will be of enormous help to me to have had this debate in the House of Commons, because I think this House in the last two days has so very, very fully reflected the views, the hopes, the anxieties, and the resolution of the people of this country. I am sure that the people of this country are resolved on peace. They are also resolved in support of the United Nations and the prevention of aggression. They are resolved to do their utmost to see that war does not spread, and they are resolved, I believe, that no one should put asunder the brotherhood of the nations. They are seeking for peace, and trying to establish it, not only in the political and the military fields, but, as the right hon. Gentleman said so well, in the economic field, in order that we can deal with the causes of war as well as the actual dangers of war which we have to face.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.