§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Whiteley.]
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
It is unfortunately not only in the matter of headgear during a Division that there is some confusion in the world at the present time. Most hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree that there is much confusion in the public mind about the international situation, as also about certain aspects of the Government's policy to deal with it. We can understand that the Government have been grieviously handicapped in recent weeks by the Foreign Secretary's illness. We all most deeply deplore this, and join in wishing the right hon. Gentleman a speedy and complete recovery.
At the same time, it would be idle to deny that his illness and the silence of his colleagues, whether voluntary or imposed, has left the country sorely lacking any guidance at a time when direction and explanation are both equally necessary. The result has been that there have been a multitude of unofficial counsellors from Bristol, West, to Coventry, East, and they interpret and put a gloss on whatever hitherto has been the declared policy of the Government, thereby creating a general impression of order, counter order and disorder.
It is quite true that at the weekend we had a momentary gleam of comfort. I learn on the authority of the political correspondent of the "Observer" that at a private meeting of the Labour Party, the Lord President of the Council surpassed himself. I read:Never had he made so brilliant a speech.I felt encouraged. I thought that in the concluding phases of this debate we, too, would be given the enjoyment of that glittering performance. Alas, I learn it 42 is not to be. Such treats are not for you, Mr. Speaker, nor for me. You and I are "the lesser breeds without the law." Only within the sacred precincts of the Labour Party conference is the foreign policy of the Labour Party described. That is just too bad, because there is nothing you and I, Mr. Speaker, can do about it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Join the Labour Party."] I thought that one hon. Member at least might suggest desperate measures, but let me assure him that we are not yet a suicide squad.
For myself I have neither the authority nor, I might add, the inclination to interpret the Government's policy. I shall try this afternoon to set out the main features of the international situation as they appear to us in the Opposition, and to lay down the courses which we would recommend. Since we last discussed foreign affairs two outstanding events have taken place in the international sphere—General Eisenhower's tour of Western Europe and his report to Congress; and the resolution passed by the United Nations condemning Chinese aggression in China, but setting up a Good Offices Committee for further negotiation should the opportunity arise.
This afternoon I propose to speak first of the West, and I think we cannot better open our proceedings than by paying a tribute, in which I feel the whole House or almost the whole House will wish to join, to General Eisenhower for the disinterested sense of duty which has led him once again to take so responsible a charge upon his broad shoulders. He has done much to invigorate these preparations for joint defence which are the declared policy of the Atlantic Powers. We have been equally glad to know of the visit of the French Prime Minister to Washington, which has clearly had good results for Franco-American relations. A closer understanding between our two friends must also be good news for us.
As we look at our problems in the West, Germany remains the dominant theme. I must confess that the answers of the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the House last week created in my mind, and I think in the minds of others abroad as well as at home, some uncertainty as to what the Government's policy really is. I hope I may be reassured, but, of course, this is not the first time that the party opposite have 43 appeared confused on this particular issue. The House will remember that in October last, Mr. Morgan Phillips, Secretary of the Labour Party, spoke at the International Socialist Conference in Paris, and he said then that neither the British Government nor the British Labour Party had yet made up their minds on the problem of German rearmament.
That immediately brought a correction in a form of a Foreign Office statement, of which I would remind the House. The Foreign Office statement was:The British Government's attitude was made clear to the other Governments concerned during the meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Council in New York and has not changed. They considered "—that is His Majesty's Government—that Germany should be able to make an appropriate contribution to building up the defence of Western Europe.I should like to know whether that correction is still the policy of His Majesty's Government or not, because whatever our views—and there is the possibility of holding varied views on this extremely difficult question—as to the policy to be pursued in this difficult German situation, to blow hot and cold is surely the most fatal of all.
Let us have a look to see what are our commitments, at least as I understand them, up to the present. If I am wrong in any particular, the Prime Minister will tell us. The first, most important of all, is that we have signed the Atlantic Pact. We stand by that agreement, and we have to build up the defence of the West to make it a reality. I do not think that that is disputed. The Foreign Secretary with his colleagues of the North Atlantic Council decided in New York on 26th September to invite a German contribution to Western defence. The Foreign Secretary gave us his reasons for this in the House last November. I think I should quote it to the House, because it is very important that we should know exactly where we are. This is what the Foreign Secretary said last NovemberAt the same time, the United States raised the question of a German contribution. On this point, too, His Majesty's Government were in agreement with the United States Government. If, unhappily, aggression were to take place in Europe, we are satisfied that its defence would have to take place as far 44 East as possible, and that means that Western Germany must be involved; and if Western Germany is to be defended, it seems to us only fair and reasonable that the people of Western Germany should help in their own defence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]I want to know are we still there. Is that still the Government's position?
It is true that immediately after that difficulties and differences arose. They did not arise about the principle of Germany making a contribution. They arose mainly over the French proposals for a European Army, and the Minister of Defence will remember this, because of the efforts he made at Washington during the conversations there last November. The Ministers of Defence did not, despite that, reach a conclusion on the form that the German contribution should take. Does our position remain the same? Do we still wish for German participation?
In December the Foreign Secretaries met again in Brussels and made a further attempt. According to the communiqué,unanimous agreement was reached on the question of a German contribution to Western defence, and that conversations should proceed between the High Commissioners and the German Federal Government.Those conversations are going on at Petersberg at this present time, to try to give effect to this agreement. I should like to be told whether the Government still adhere to their decision taken in Brussels last December, and whether it is their wish and their endeavour to try to bring about a successful conclusion to the agreement they have entered into. That is what we should like to be told now, because, frankly, the Under-Secretary's reply seemed to us to leave that point very much in doubt.
Parallel with all this development there is the question of conversations with Russia, in which Germany would certainly be a main theme. I have always believed that if the Soviets were prepared to take part in discussions which gave even modest hopes of relieving the tension, which is not confined to Germany alone, we ought to make the attempt. Admittedly, it is not the slightest use going back to the kind of slanging match as has taken place at previous Foreign Secretaries' Conferences. Therefore, it has always seemed to me—I put this point to the House last autumn—that we ought to try to draw up an 45 agenda for this meeting with the Soviets, which is wider than covering Germany alone. Although there is much which is obscure in the last Soviet answer, they have not refused to draw up an agenda, and I think we should try to proceed with this now.
There are some things we have to note while we are doing it. We have to note first of all that the Soviet satellite forces of the East are continuing to grow in strength while notes of protest are hurled at us for the relatively most modest defensive preparations that we are making. It is in this connection that I want to present certain facts, which I think will not be challenged anywhere, and which we ought to have in mind if we are going into these conversations. Soviet Russia has in Eastern Germany forces which are overwhelmingly superior to our own. I contend that it is Soviet Russia which has taken the initiative in German rearmament. Let that be remembered, although it is very seldom stated. She has armed the Germans in the organisation called the Bereitschaften, a force, I think, of some 50,000. Part of the force is said to be heavily armed.
Over and above that, the satellite countries are, we believe, extending their armaments very rapidly. That includes the defeated enemy Powers whose forces surpass by far the limits allowed by the peace treaties which were only recently signed by the Soviet Union, with us, the United States and France. Let us look at the figures. These were given by Marshal Tito, but if the Government have other figures I hope they will give them to us. Take Roumania. The treaty allowed a force of 138,000 men. I believe she now has 300,000 under arms. Take Bulgaria. The treaty laid down 65,000. I think she has about 195,000 under arms. For Hungary, the treaty limit is 70,000. She has 165,000 under arms. If there is to be a discussion among the four Powers—I have indicated that I hope we shall draw up this agenda—clearly one of the first requirements which we have a right and a duty to make is that the armaments of the ex-enemy satellites should be reduced to the level already agreed in the treaties recently signed and now departed from.
The Government also have a responsibility—I realise that this is a grave matter and I approach it with some hesitation— 46 to consider their position in respect of the increased threat which these forces constitute to Yugoslavia. I suggest that here is a subject for consultation with our French and United States Allies, and of course with our Commonwealth partners. I do not ask that the Government should reply on this topic if they find it embarrassing to do so, but I think that I should put to the House what I personally feel about it. If, as a result of the examination, we are agreed that we are not prepared to allow Yugoslavia to be made the victim of aggression by what I might describe as a Balkan-Korean process, we should do well, and we should make our best contribution to peace, if we expressed ourselves jointly and clearly on this topic soon. I believe that the whole course of international experience teaches us that we best serve peace by warning any would-be aggressors of the consequences of their acts before they make them.
To continue this examination of the possible items on the agenda of the Four-Power discussions, I think that we are also entitled to draw attention to the German forces already existing in the Eastern zone, such as the Bereitschaften which I have already mentioned. For the purpose of establishing this fact, and also of meeting the constant Soviet charges about alleged German forces already existing in the West, I have several times suggested that a Four-Power commission of investigation should be offered. I see no reason why this should not still take place. In all the miasma of propaganda that Moscow churns out there is this element of fact: Moscow knows very well the value of encouraging a fear of German re-armament as a means of binding these satellites, particularly in Prague and Warsaw, closer to it. That attempt is being made to persuade those countries to believe that German re-armament in the Western zone has already proceeded far. That could be examined.
Incidentally, if anyone doubts the determination of the Kremlin to maintain its hold on those countries, let him observe the wide arrests in Czechslovakia even while the Czech note supporting the Russian call for talks was being delivered to our Ambassador. Certainly, all is not well with the Communist Parties East of the Iron Curtain. It is rather a disturbing reflection that the slight modification, if we can call it "slight," in the Soviet attitude towards the meeting with the 47 Western Powers has taken place only since agreement was reached to invite German co-operation in the defence of the West.
Yet, long ago, the Soviet Government could easily have obtained agreement on a 40-year treaty with Britain, France and the United States, against any revival of German military power such as was offered by the Americans in 1946, with our own and French support. It was turned down, and ever since, the Soviets have maintained their own armaments, and they have built up their satellites' military strength in the East on an overwhelming scale.
What is the purpose of all this rearmament? It is alleged to be directed against Germany. That is not true, for we all know that Western Germany has no military power at all. The truth is that all the measures increasing international tension of which we—I mean the British Government—are constantly accused, including the increase of our own Forces, have long ago been taken by the Soviets themselves. The Soviets never disarmed. They have intensified their threats against anybody who did not agree with them, like Yugoslavia, and when the West takes modest steps to increase its limited strength they accuse the West of aggressive designs.
This brings me to the most difficult question which we have to consider this afternoon, that of Western defence and the part that Germany should play therein. How are we to deal with this matter? It is very difficult for anyone of my generation, I admit, to be impartial and dispassionate about Germany. It is true, I think, that Englishmen are not good haters, but we have some memories, and for those of us whose first adult experience was the First War and for whom the Second is still a fresh memory, it is not a very easy task to be unprejudiced. Yet, is it not true that if we are to build for the future it is on the future that we have to concentrate our efforts? Nobody can ask us to forget but we can be asked to base our judgment on a just appraisal of realities present and future.
It seems to me, therefore, that we must make up our minds whether we want to do everything in our power to make it possible for Germany, if Germany be 48 willing, to play her part in European affairs on fair and honourable terms. That is the decision of principle which we have to take. Re-armament is relatively secondary to it. Surely we must seek to do that, because unless Germany plays her part in all spheres of cooperation, not only the military, there can never be an enduring sense of security for Europe or for the German people either. This problem, it is interesting to recall, would have been there in some form even if our relations with Soviet Russia had been cordial. If this is our judgment, the sooner we take the necessary steps to give Germany a sense of equal status the better.
§ Mr. Eden
I am talking of the Germany that we can control. East Germany is under the control of another power. If anyone wishes to discover how far East Germany is under that control, they have only to look at recent statements about the acceptance of the Oder-Neisse frontier.
All the same, the final decision does not rest with us; it rests with Germany. If we and our former Allies are ready to play our part, Germany must play hers. It takes two to make a partnership, but it is partnership that we want and not hard bargaining over points which inevitably lose their value with the mere passage of time. It has always been difficult to interpret public opinion in a country like Germany where the tradition of Parliamentary discussion and political controversy, as we have it here in full measure these days, has never been strong or deep in the national character. But I was struck when I was recently in Germany by what appeared to be a strongly held view that, if Germany is to play her part in Western defence, that part should be played not by revival of a German National Army but within a European Army as a means of assuring the security and peace of Europe. That seems to me to be very important. Admittedly, it is very difficult to know how deep this feeling goes in Germany.
§ Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
In view of the discussion to follow, it would be very interesting if the right hon. Gentleman would elaborate what he learnt in 49 Germany about what the Germans and others mean when they speak of taking part in European forces.
§ Mr. Eden
I shall explain that as best I can if the right hon. Gentleman will be patient. I was saying that it is difficult to know how deep this feeling goes and how genuine it is. It is surely—I believe the whole House will agree—a remarkable factor that there are, anyhow, German leaders today who wish to see their country's effort integrated with that of the European neighbours and that there are French leaders who wish the same thing to happen. Perhaps that seems more important to me than it does to some other hon. Members. When I recall how Franco-German quarrels have overlain the whole international scene for generations, it seems to me that here is an opportunity that we should surely grasp if it is really there.
Let us have a look to see if it is there and consider what we mean by "European Army." The best definition of this that I know is one given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) some months ago. He said that what we want to bring about is:… an Atlantic army with … a European army inside of it and a German contingent, on honourable terms, inside that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1333.]To carry the argument a little further, this European Army would, of course, form part of General Eisenhower's Atlantic Force. French, Belgian and German units would be represented in it, and maybe others also. I should hope that we would be there.
I do not suggest that the whole of our defence effort on the Continent should be in the European Army, but to me it seems that there is here a unique opportunity for which we may never forgive ourselves if we miss it. It might be—I would ask hon. Members not to dismiss this derisorily—that this force would gradually grow in authority with the respect it enjoyed so that it was able to give Europe a new sense of unity and confidence. How invaluable that could be today and in the years that lie ahead.
I understand that the representatives of France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are meeting in Paris—I believe it will be in the next few days—to discuss this project. It has many technical problems, 50 which the right hon. Gentleman no doubt has in mind. We are to be represented there, I understand, by our Ambassador, but only as an observer. I would beg the Government, even at this late hour, to reconsider their decision and to send a delegate to this Conference who will make constructive suggestions and try to meet the technical difficulties in a spirit of a real desire to see a European Force established.
It seems to me that there are really, broadly, only two policies for Germany. One is to try gradually to bring Germany into closer co-operation with the West. That is surely our policy—that of both sides of the House—politically and economically. If that is to be followed, then it is bound sooner or later to find some expression in the sphere of defence. It is absolutely inescapable, as it was before. Would it not be immensely advantageous to peace if that German contribution could find expression in a European Army where French, Belgians, Dutch and British would serve side by side.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would the right hon. Gentleman make this clear? Is he arguing in favour of Germany having an air force again?
§ Mr. Eden
Not for this purpose at any rate. One does not need a navy to operate an army in Europe. All I am saying at this moment is that the House should consider this as a serious project which offers us a way out of our difficulties if we are seeking a way out and if our policy is still to bring Western Germany into our defensive system.
That is one policy. There is another. The only other that I can see appears to be the Soviet policy, which, so far as I understand it, would propose the demilitarisation and the neutralisation of 51 Germany. That does not seem to me to be practicable or desirable as a final solution, nor, I am pretty sure, is it intended to be a final solution by Soviet Russia either. In the Soviet mind I have not the least doubt that it is merely a phase preceding a Communist attempt to seize power in that country as it has done in others before. I am not in the least reassured when I am told, as I am frequently, that in a neutralised and demilitarised Germany, from which all the Allied Forces have been withdrawn, the majority of the population will be non-Communist. Of course they will. So they were in Czechoslovakia, and how much did that avail them there? The interesting thing is that there has never yet been an occasion anywhere in the world where a Communist Government has come into power under a free vote of the people. But they would not have to worry about that in Germany any more than they have done anywhere else.
Those are the only two policies it seems to me, and I prefer the one, in the difficult choice we have to make, which I understood the Government were pursuing—I hope they are pursuing it—in an endeavour to align ever more closely the people of Western Germany with the free democracies.
I must delay the House for a few moments more to make some observations on the Far East. I will not go over a lot of wearisome ground that has been covered before, but we might do well to remind ourselves this afternoon of that first debate we had on Korea last July—do hon. Members recall it?—and to refresh our memories about the spirit in which we then approached the act of aggression in that country. At that time virtually the whole House gave its overwhelming support to the Government's Motion. Do hon. Members remember the terms of that Motion?—That this House fully supports the action taken by His Majesty's Government in conformity with their obligations under the United Nations Charter in helping to resist the unprovoked aggression against the Republic of Korea.That is where we were then. Speaker after speaker rose from the benches opposite and endorsed the fundamental points: that North Korea had committed 52 an act of aggression; that the United Nations had a responsibility to assist the victim; and that the act of aggression would never have taken place unless Soviet Russia had made it possible. All that and much more was said. I will quote from only one speech out of the many from which I could quote, that of the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), who was full of praise that the United States went in so speedily to take the burden of the United Nations. He said:I honour America for going in speedily, because one of the great complaints in this country hitherto has been that America was too keen on keeping out and furnishing the weapons for other people to fight with. … The United States, this country and the United Nations cannot afford to fail in this situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1950; Vol 477, c. 487 and 536.]And there were many speeches by other hon. Members in the same vein.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) as an authority?
§ Mr. Eden
I think I prefer him to the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes), but I hope I shall not be faced with that embarrassing alternative.
The truth is that there would never have been a Korean partition at all if Soviet Russia had not consistently refused to allow the United Nations Commission to function in the whole of Korea. When I read some of the remarks about that Commission, I might almost think it was some sinister plot created by the United States Government. But so far from it being an American conspiracy, I have not been able to find that there was an American on the Commission. There was an Indian—that ought to be all right—there was a Syrian—that should not be wrong—there was an Australian and a Canadian—nobody could object to them. There was not an American.
It was this Commission which supervised the elections in South Korea—now so vehemently denounced in some weekly papers—that established the Government which was afterwards recognised by the majority of the United Nations. All I have to say about all that is that whether we like the political colour of that Government or not is completely irrelevant. What is a 53 fact is that it was freely elected by the South Koreans as their Government. We may deplore their judgment; but at least the North Koreans had no chance to make a decision.
A great deal of confusion also seems to exist about the events which led to the crossing of the 38th parallel. I thought that the Foreign Secretary was fair and frank on that point during the last debate. But still statements are made—one continually reads them—as though General MacArthur himself was to blame for going beyond the 38th parallel. That is not true, I submit. We dealt with it in our last debate, when the Foreign Secretary endorsed my submission that the decision to go beyond the parallel was taken by the United Nations. As we all know, General MacArthur held his troops on the parallel from 1st to 9th October. It was on 7th October that the Assembly passed the resolution which implicitly agreed that we had a right to go beyond the 38th parallel.
§ Mr. Silverman
Yes. What is there in the Charter which justified the Assembly in authorising not merely the resistance to and the defeat of the aggression that had taken place, but in going further than that, with the purely political object of unifying Korea?
§ Mr. Eden
The only argument that could be used, if it is an argument, against the United Nations proceeding with the action which it did proceed with is that a full membership was not present. But there is nothing whatever in the Charter, so far as my memory serves me, which prevents the rest of the United Nations from acting if certain members choose to stay away.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has missed my 54 point. I was not basing my argument, for the moment, on the constitution of the Security Council but on the difference between United Nations armed action to resist aggression when it takes place and United Nations armed action to carry out the purely political object of unifying a divided country. If that is really within the United Nations Charter, would there be anything to prevent them from unifying Ireland in the same way?
§ Mr. Eden
Yes, I think there would, because in this particular case, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well, it was only the unilateral action of Soviet Russia which divided Korea. The United Nations have never recognised the Parallel. In their eyes Korea is still one, as the Foreign Secretary said the other day; and as in our eyes it was one when we first approached this problem.
§ Mr. Silverman
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assist me, because I confess I have had considerable difficulty about it. I understand the argument that we are entitled to go beyond the frontier of the 38th parallel because it was never a juridical or political frontier. That is quite a clear argument. But if it is true, then North Korea was never a State and if North Korea was never a State, how could it be guilty of aggression?
§ Mr. Silverman
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that I was in favour of the United Nations going to the assistance of Korea. I am in favour of it still on the basis that there was an attack by North Korea, being a State, upon South Korea, being another. I think that was right. I am glad we did and I am glad we succeeded. But, having said that, we destroy any argument that the 38th parallel was not a frontier; and we were wrong to go beyond it.
§ Mr. Eden
I can only say how pleased I am to learn—I did not know it—that the hon. Gentleman was glad of the success of the action against the North Korean Government. I hope he will express it in a more convincing fashion in the speech he will make later today. I had always fallen under the impression that the difference between the hon. Gentleman and Mr. Cole was almost indistinguishable. I think I have been extremely patient here; these have been the most hair-splitting and logic-chopping arguments I have ever heard.
What about the present position in Korea, and what ought we to do there now? Evidently the military situation has much improved and the greatest credit is due to General Ridgeway, who has clearly inspired his command in a remarkable manner. Since the whole purpose of the United Nations intervention in Korea was to prove that aggression does not pay—we are all agreed about that, thank goodness—and to unify the country, there seems to me a better chance of doing both these things now than there was two or three months ago. Our duty, therefore, clearly is to hold on and to continue our military endeavour until such time as the aggressors are willing to negotiate on a basis which takes account of international obligations.
I will say a word about the problem of Formosa, for I do not wish to be accused of evading difficulties.
§ Mr. Eden
I have nothing to say about Japan, except that I am not personally sponsoring the re-armament of Japan, if that is any comfort to the hon. Gentleman. I am dealing with Formosa. It seems to me that the best contribution I have read to this difficult topic was in the form of a letter in "The Times" from Professor Gilbert Murray, a much more respected authority on these matters than I am. It appeared the other day and I will quote it. He says it is oversimplifyinga complicated problem in claiming that the new China, as soon as she agrees not to pursue aggression further, retains all the rights and privileges that 'China' possessed before the aggression? 'China,' for example, has a right to Formosa. But does that mean that the new mainland 'China' has an indefeasible right, irrespective of the wishes of the inhabitants, 56 to take possession of Formosa by force, and even to demand United Nations help in doing so? These are difficult problems.They are indeed. It seems clear to me that they are not capable of any swift and sudden solution; and here, surely, is an issue which must form part of the general peace settlement in the Far East. In the meanwhile, it is right to recall that the future of Formosa is, in fact, linked with the question of a treaty with Japan. Here I must ask the Prime Minister a question. Are the Government fully informed as to the conversations which Mr. Dulles has been having in Japan? I do not think we take exception to the conversations if, as I understand, they are exploratory in character. But I should like to know about them, and I am sure the House would. We are also happy to learn that Mr. Dulles is to proceed at once to Australia and New Zealand.
That brings me to my real concern about our future relations with Japan. In my view it is essential that, if a treaty is to be made with Japan, its terms should be agreed and jointly signed at least by those free nations of the British Commonwealth and our allies who fought the war against Japan from the beginning and who are today working together in the East as in the West. I hope there will not be any individual signatures amongst them of an individual treaty; they ought to be done together.
In Indo-China we have all noticed with encouragement the notable successes which have recently been won by the French Union Forces. General de Lattre de Tassigny has clearly renewed the confidence of the joint forces there in what is still a highly critical situation.
These are my final words. All these events emphasise the imperative need for political directives. Without these, military integration—and we are doing it now—can never have its full effect. This is particularly true when we are dealing, as we are now dealing, with a world front. It appears that quite good results have come from the Franco-American discussions in Washington. That is all to the good. But we still need some machinery at the highest level which will provide political co-ordination and guide the military effort.
I know how difficult that is. Two months ago the Prime Minister visited 57 the United States. We welcomed that visit. In fact, I think we played a part in suggesting it. Can the heads of States or Governments or the Foreign Secretaries meet at regular intervals for the express purpose of giving political directives for military preparations? It is difficult to escape an impression that, while the work of military co-ordination goes ahead reasonably well on a regional basis, that of central political direction is lagging. Germany is an example of that.
I described earlier what I called two alternative policies on Germany. There may be others. But clearly we and the other Powers who are principally concerned, especially France and the United States, must agree our line and hold to it here and elsewhere. Otherwise what are we going to see? We are going to see the contrast of a fixed aim pursued with relentless determination by central Communist direction as against our uncertain and indeterminate variations of policy, which too often appear to take the place of decisions unanimously reached and firmly applied.
I admit the difficulties and I tell the Prime Minister that I have no snap solution, but this at least is certain: political direction in a free democracy needs to be backed by an informed public opinion, and there cannot be that public opinion unless more continuous information and explanation is addressed to them by His Majesty's Ministers. All these elements are needed if the free nations are to build up an effective deterrent to aggression.
We in Europe have confirmed by the acid test of experience that the diplomacy of the peace-makers must have the backing of arms. I cannot see that there is any escape from it. The whole political strategy of the Soviet Union since the war has been governed by the knowledge of their overwhelmingly superior armed forces. Of course, Moscow has kept completely quiet about that, covering the maintenance of vast military preparations with a smokescreen of peace protestations. I do not think we shall get very far if we only protest our own lack of strength and hope thereby to stay Moscow's obviously expansionist spirit. I do not think that will work. Therefore, I feel that there is no escape from the stern necessity to increase our defensive strength. Only by such means in the 58 world as it is unhappily today can we enable diplomacy to perform its essential function which, let me remind the House, is to avert war, instead of merely permitting a few to survive it.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is not able to be here in the House today. He is getting over a serious illness; he is much better. He was getting stronger when, unhappily, this attack came upon him. I have, however, had the opportunity of discussing matters with him.
When we last had a Foreign Affairs discussion in the House in November I said, in concluding that two days' debate, that there had been revealed a very great measure of agreement. I hope we shall find that so today. The House is concerned, on all sides, with one major question—how to preserve peace and how to preserve our British way of life. The two go together, because peace without the kind of life we want would be no peace to us.
There is no break in the continuity of Government policy when my right hon. Friend is unhappily ill for two or three weeks, because we have been following a steady policy and a policy based on definite principles. Those principles were laid down five and a half years ago when we supported, under the leadership of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), at San Francisco, the principles of the United Nations and the basis of our policy was then, and is still now, support of the United Nations and acceptance of the obligations of membership. During these last five and a half years we have seen continued obstruction and lack of co-operation on the part of the U.S.S.R. and its satellites. Indeed, everything goes to show that the purpose of that Government has been not to promote peace, but to cause trouble everywhere in the world.
We have to face the grim facts of the situation. They maintain immense armaments, they carry on a hostile and subversive propaganda against all non-Communist States—indeed, against a Communist State such as Yugoslavia, if it does not take its orders exactly from the Kremlin. That is the reason why, in this country and other countries, we have 59 found it necessary to build up our armaments.
There is a great deal of sham peace propaganda going about which represents this re-armament as if all the nations had been disarmed and then suddenly one or two started re-arming. The real fact is that we are faced by the immense armaments of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc. The Soviet Union never disarmed after the last war. They have been increasing their armaments and they have been arming their satellites. The result has been that there is this grave anxiety in the world. To adopt a phrase from a Motion some of my hon. Friends have placed on the Order Paper, there is international tension, fear, and suspicion in the world today.
It surprises me that they did not put in this Motion the major cause, because it is the existence of those forces and it is the fact that those forces are controlled by a Government which carries out consistently a certain policy that causes this anxiety. Today those anxieties centre particularly, as the right hon. Gentleman said, in two particular problems, the problem of Europe and the problem of the Far East. He has devoted his speech mainly to those two topics and I think I could best serve the House by dealing with those points, rather than by attempting a kind of tour d'horizon, which I do not think would be very useful.
I should like to say, at the outset, that if I deal particularly with the Far East and the German problem in Europe it does not mean that we are not vitally concerned in other problems and other areas. In particular, there is the Middle East. The stability and defence of the Middle East is an essential part of our foreign policy. There is sometimes a tendency to say that if someone speaking on foreign affairs has not covered every point therefore he has forgotten and neglected some particular topic.
I would like to deal first, briefly, with the matters of the Far East. It was the event in Korea which changed the tempo of the world situation. It signalised the re-emergence of warlike aggression in the world. There had been aggression of various sorts—there had been the overturning of Governments—but there had not previously been this warlike aggression. Let us remember that this was a 60 direct challenge to the United Nations, a deliberate attack on a State set up under the authority of the United Nations.
It really is no good making little legal points about these matters. We have to face the facts. The United States, with the support of the vast majority of the States of the United Nations, took up that challenge and we have supported them. The other Commonwealth countries are also playing their part and in this action we had the support of all parties in the House, just as the vast majority of the peoples of the world, outside the Communist bloc, supported that action.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, it is right to recall what we said and what we did then. It is no good accepting principles, acting on those principles, and then running away from the results. The House has been kept informed of the course of events. I need not repeat them and the United Kingdom Government, while loyally supporting the United Nations—and supporting it, let me say, not only by votes at Lake Success, which is a fairly easy way of supporting it, but by naval, ground and air forces—has pursued a perfectly definite policy in this matter. We first wished to vindicate the principle of the authority of the United Nations. Secondly, we wanted to bring hostilities to an end as soon as possible and, thirdly, to confine the conflict as narrowly as possible to prevent it leading to a general conflagration, because what we wished to see was a settlement in the Far East.
As the House knows, at a critical stage in the progress of these events I visited the United States of America and, not long after that, I presided at the Conference of Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth. At that Conference we were able to bring to bear on the problem the experience and the outlook of Prime Ministers from Asia as well as from North America and Australasia, and a representative from Africa. It was our purpose, when we discussed this matter, to do our utmost to see what could be done to get a peaceful solution.
The representatives of the Commonwealth countries at Lake Success worked very hard to try to bring about conditions for a general settlement of the problem of the Far East. They all did, but 61 I would like specially to call attention to the efforts of our Indian and our Canadian friends. The proposals of the Cease Fire Committee offered a way to this settlement. We must deeply regret that the Central Government of China made so little response.
We in this country have had a very long and great experience in dealing with Asiatic affairs. We are also able to draw on the experience of our fellow members of the Commonwealth and we know a great deal about the rise of national movements in Asia. I think we understand something of the feelings which lie behind them. We know how social and economic discontents lend force to these movements. We understand the demands of the nations of Asia for equality with other nations. We are, therefore, without condoning in any way the action of the Chinese, able to follow some of their reasoning, however misguided it may appear.
Equally, we understand and sympathise with our friends in the United States who have borne the major burden in asserting the authority of the United Nations. But our actions have been directed to maintaining the authority of the United Nations and seeking to effect a settlement in the Far East. It was in this spirit that we supported the efforts of the Cease Fire Committee, and it was with this in our mind and with this background that we approached the question of what action should next be taken at Lake Success. We did not think that a motion condemning China as an aggressor and calling for sanctions was likely to promote the object we had in view. We believed, and we believe today, that the door for negotiations should be kept open. We did not believe that the Government of China had said the last word.
We considered that China had committed aggression—no doubt of that—but that there should be no question of applying sanctions until it had been made clear there was no further chance of achieving a peaceful settlement through the Good Offices Committee or in any other way. We sought, therefore, at Lake Success to get the original resolution amended, and in that we were successful. There is, therefore, a genuine offer for negotiations, and China has everything to gain by discussing a peaceful 62 settlement. The Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mr. Pearson, in the First Committee of the United Nations, put forward, on 26th January, a number of proposals which I think are a sound and fair basis of settlement. I hope they will be looked at very thoroughly by the Good Offices Committee, and I also hope that they will be well looked at by the Central Government of China.
On this matter, there is a great deal of propaganda in this country which tries to make out that the question in the Far East is an issue between the United States and China. There are even some vociferous people who try to make out that the United States is an aggressor, and some quite well-intentioned people fall for it. The issue is between the United Nations and North Korea backed by China in the field and by the Soviet Union at Lake Success. It is just stupid to suggest that China has done nothing amiss. It is equally stupid and dishonest to suggest that His Majesty's Government have no policy of their own. We have held that a basis for negotiation can be reached, but there has to be a firm basis for negotiation.
One of the difficulties in all these matters is that opinion has tended to sway backwards and forwards in accordance with military events in Korea. I think that today the position is much more stable. I think there is a good position for negotiations. I think the Chinese may be wise to negotiate. We have always discussed fully, with the United States and with the Commonwealth, policy in these matters. When the tide of battle was turning and the United Nations' Forces were advancing northwards, we approached the United States Government. We found the fullest comprehension on their side, of the political implications involved with regard to the 38th parallel.
We have put our view to the United States Government—it is a practical one. In our view the 38th parallel ought not to be crossed again until there have been full consultations with the United Nations, and, in particular, with those Member States who are contributing Forces towards the United Nations' Forces in Korea. We must remember, however, that this is in no sense a military line. There is no greater mistake than in thinking that a political line, or sometimes even a 63 physical line, whether it is the 38th parallel or the Yalu River, is a military line. The practical view, therefore, if we wish to halt at the 38th parallel, is to take into account tactical considerations and not merely an imaginary line on a map. There will, therefore, no doubt have to be minor adjustments.
As I say, we are hoping that we may get negotiations leading up to a settlement of the Far Eastern question. But the right hon. Gentleman quite rightly mentioned the Formosa problem. Until that is dealt with we shall not, I think, be able to settle the Far Eastern question, and we have always envisaged that that should be discussed. There is also, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the matter of Japan. I cannot say much about that. Mr. Dulles's visit was exploratory. We know something of their views, but I would emphatically agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that our Southern Dominions, Australia and New Zealand, who took such a big part in defeating Japan, should have the fullest say in any question of a peace treaty.
But we have also to look at the whole position in the East. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to Malaya and Indo-China; and there are other areas. If one wants to get a settlement it is, rather as it is in Europe, no use looking at just one little point of irritation: we must consider what is causing the irritation behind it. We hope that there may eventually be a settlement with China, a recognition of the position of China, which we have already given, and eventually the admission of China into the United Nations, the ending of aggression and a settlement in the Far East. That is what we must all work for.
The right hon. Gentleman also dealt with the question of Germany and the West. I should now like to come to that matter. There has been a good deal of progress in the last two or three months. There was the signing of the Treaty of Atlantic Defence, the appointment of General Eisenhower and the establishment of the integrated Force under his command. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman: I think that General Eisenhower was the best choice that could have been made, and we ought to pay a high tribute to his public spirit in taking on this very difficult task, because it is 64 an extremely difficult task to build up an integrated Force from the Forces of a number of nations. But General Eisenhower has, after all, had that great practical experience in the last war, and we all know how extraordinarily good he was at working with many nations.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the successful visit of the French Prime Minister, M. Pleven, to Washington. Again, we can welcome that. In the decisions of the Atlantic Council there was one to include in that integrated Force a contribution from Germany. We agreed on that and I shall deal with that at full length a little later. The first steps are being taken to build up the integrated Force, and explanatory discussions with the German Federal Government with regard to any German contribution are proceeding. There are, however, a great many things that will first have to be settled. Meanwhile, we are increasing our Forces in Germany; in the course of the next few months they will be built up.
The conference of the French Government on a European Army is to take place in a few days, and I would like to say a word or two about that. We all realise that one of the most difficult questions is how to integrate any German force into the Forces of the Atlantic Treaty nations. One proposal was for a European Army, and the conference is now to meet to consider it. I do not think it is quite clear now what is envisaged in those proposals. As originally put forward, there were a number of features of that plan which we could not accept. There was the linking of it with a political superstructure; a Minister of Defence for Europe, and even an Assembly. We also were not entirely agreed that this was a really possible plan.
Like the Governments of the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Portugal, we are being represented by observers at this conference, which is to show whether such a plan can be worked out within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; because it is, I think, quite clear that this must be within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. We shall watch to see what is to come out of that, but, as at present advised, I do not think we shall be wise at present to do more than send observers there.
65 I wish to deal with the question of German re-armament. This question, as the right hon. Gentleman said, gives us—
§ Mr. Eden
The right hon. Gentleman has said, in relation to this conference, that we and the United States are sending observers. Of course, the United States cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called part of Europe. He has also strongly endorsed that this European Army should, if possible, be created.
§ The Prime Minister
We have considered going forward with this plan. We have not yet approved it, but we have not thrown cold water on it. I agree that the United States are interested. They are part of the Atlantic Organisation, and the essential thing is to see how this fits in with the political organisation. It is natural for the United States and Canada to have observers, as we have because we are part of the Atlantic Organisation.
The right hon. Gentleman expressed his own anxieties about German re-armament. All who have been through two wars feel that this is a matter which causes great anxiety among people of quite different political points of view. It is not confined to any one party. We remember that German military might was destroyed in the First World War, but its basis, those limited forces allowed after the treaty of Versailles, remained. The nucleus of the German general staff remained; and with the advent of Hitler a new war machine was created and the world was again plunged into war. Since 1945 the German power to wage war has been far more drastically destroyed than after the First World War.
The purpose of the Allies in ensuring the removal of the menace of German militarisation has been achieved; and I think that a very great deal of the evidence shows that the mass of the German people, after the experiences they have gone through, are reluctant to engage in military service. We must not press that argument too far, but after 1945, after the demilitarisation, there was a way open for the removal of the tension which heavy armaments have caused in Europe for so many generations, provided all other nations were prepared to play their part.
Unfortunately, that has not happened. While Britain and the United States demobilised their Forces, at the end of the 66 war, Soviet Russia did not. By the existence of these immense forces she has been able to surround herself with a ring of satellites, dominated by Communist Governments obedient to the will of the Kremlin. In those satellites, as the right hon. Gentleman said, strong forces are being built up; and into this circle of satellite States the Soviet Government have sought in every way to include Eastern Germany. Like other countries in that orbit she has been organised on the Soviet pattern. Cliques of Communists are in control and a force of so-called police has been created which is being trained and equipped as a military force.
Therefore, in any examination of the problem of German re-armament, we must start at the place where it is actually happening—in the Soviet zone of Germany; just as when we wish to discuss the danger to the world of armaments it is better to consider those in existence, rather than to consider re-armament which is still only in the planning stage. It is the existence of those arms which have caused the world to re-arm, and the major question facing the world today is not the demilitarisation of Germany, but whether the Communist bloc can be brought to reduce their armed forces to reasonable proportions and abandon their imperialist policies.
It is in this context that the question of the re-armament of Western Germany has to be considered. If we can get real and genuine settlement with Soviet Russia the matter of German re-armament would become less important and fall into its natural place. But if we cannot get this agreement we have to consider the defence of the West, and that includes the defence of Western Germany. If the Western Germans are not to be allowed to defend themselves, then an obligation rests on the occupying Powers to defend them, and that has been accepted.
What does that mean for Britain, France, the United States and the rest of the Atlantic Powers? Are they to provide all the men and materials and money to defend Germany? I doubt if that is a practical proposition. Alternatively, the Occupying Powers might withdraw, leaving an unarmed Western Germany as the neighbour of an Eastern Germany with its para-military organisation, the armed satellites and Russia. That is not a practical proposition. The only other 67 course is to allow Germany to make her contribution to the integrated Forces for the defence of Western Europe and this can be done only with the full agreement and co-operation of the German people.
We have accepted the need for a contribution from Germany, but the time, method and conditions will require a great deal of working out. There is, first of all, the provision of arms. Obviously, the re-armament of the countries of the Atlantic Treaty must precede that of Germany. Second, I think the building up of Forces in the democratic States should precede the creation of German forces. Third, the arrangements must be such that German units are integrated in the defence Forces in a way which would preclude the emergence again of a German military menace. Fourth, there must be agreement with the Germans themselves.
German democracy must make sure that the armed forces will be its servants and not its masters. I agree that there is always that danger of an emergence again of the same kind of forces that made Germany a menace; but you do not get rid of that by leaving a vacuum. The answer is that there should be democratic forces democratically controlled in Germany.
I should like to interpolate, at this point, one matter that has caused a certain amount of anxiety, and that is the question of the review of the sentences of war criminals. There were some remarks made by our High Commissioner at a Press conference on 16th January. They became somewhat distorted. He certainly used one phrase which was unfortunate. He referred to hatred and revenge being bad counsellors, and in some quarters that has been held to imply a reflection on the courts which passed the original sentences. He did not intend to make any reflection of this kind, but he did say that any review would be dispassionate.
I should like to make it clear that the question of a review of these sentences has nothing whatever to do with German re-armament, because everything that is done is twisted by those who want to make trouble from the other side of the Iron Curtain. This review was undertaken long before there was any question of this kind. Our High Commissioner 68 had been appointed as the authority to review the sentences. A review of sentences does not necessarily mean an alteration of sentences.
§ The Prime Minister
Because reports come in every now and again, and there are complaints of this, that and the other. It is right that the sentences should be reviewed from time to time. It is done here. It is done in civilised States. But a review does not mean an automatic reduction.
§ Mr. Collick
Is it not the case that the High Commissioner's comments referred especially to the arch-Nazi criminals?
§ The Prime Minister
No, I think not. He was asked about them, but those can only be reviewed on a Four-Power basis. They were tried by the court set up by the Four Powers. Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick is concerned solely with the cases which came before British courts in the British zone. The public, I think, have rather tended to connect the remarks of the High Commissioner with the release of Alfred Krupp. I should like to make it perfectly clear that Alfred Krupp was sentenced by an American court in the American zone. The review of his sentence was entirely a matter for the American High Commissioner. Our High Commissioner was not consulted about his release or about the revocation of the confiscation of his property. There was no obligation on the United States High Commissioner to consult, any more than there would be on us to consult on cases arising in the British zone.
§ The Prime Minister
The only point on which Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick's advice was asked was about the legal effect of the disposition of Alfred Krupp's property in the British zone. There is a two-fold answer to that. There is no question of Krupps being allowed to resume ownership or control of the former Krupp industrial empire. That has already been taken under control and split up under Allied legislation. There is the question of a possible claim for compensation. That has to settled in accordance with 69 the existing legislation including the de-Nazification laws. The legal position of Krupp and other co-defendants whose confiscation of property had not been ordered by the court is very complicated. I cannot make any useful statement about that. The effect of his release as I understand it, does not make any difference to his position under the de-Nazification laws.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Would my right hon. Friend like to deal with two other statements made by the High Commissioner which may have been twisted? One was in relation to the release of war criminals, when he used the words, "Having regard to the changed circumstances"; and the other was in a speech made at the same time when he reminded the Germans that they had fought in the last generation twice on the losing side and asked whether they ought not now to consider whether they ought not to fight on the winning side?
§ The Prime Minister
I am not aware of that last statement. This was at a Press conference. I have tried to check up on it as much as possible. I have seen Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick. I am not aware of that last statement.
Obviously, reviews are taking place and they ought to have reference to any changes that there are in the circumstances. I do not think it is implied necessarily that the circumstances are so changed as to make any difference in the original conclusion to which the courts came; but there may be changed circumstances which bring about the desirability of a review. I do not think it is any good making a meticulous examination of a statement of this kind which was made in answer to various questions from the Press. Certain statements may have been unfortunate. I have told the House frankly what our view is. This is a matter of ordinary review which does not necessarily imply action. I would only add that I think there is a question here as to the exact position of the High Commissioner, which does need further consideration; and that consideration will be given. I only brought that in because I felt that there has been a good deal of prejudice set up connecting this matter of the release of Krupp with German re-armament, when it has nothing whatever to do with it.
70 To revert to the point with regard to German re-armament, as I say, we have agreed in principle. It is being considered as to how this should be done. I do not think that it is possible to take the line that Germany should remain a vacuum. Nor is it possible to take the line that we wish to see Germany back in the comity of nations and yet suggest that, somehow or other, she should be occupied and protected by other Powers. In due course occupation will end and the German people become entirely responsible for their own country.
If that is to be, sometime or other Germany will have to be on terms of complete equality and she will then have to take her share in the defence of democracy. It is so easy to get excited by a word on this matter. It is so easy to pass resolutions without thinking out exactly what they mean. I get a lot sent to me from various people protesting against German re-armament, yet if I asked those people, "Are you prepared to go and defend Germany while they do nothing?" they would do nothing themselves. In the same way, it is very easy to protest against re-armament in the abstract without considering what is the real position of armaments in the world today.
We have been forced to build up the defences of the West owing to the continued aggressiveness of the Soviet Union. Our Forces are entirely for defence. We have no aggressive designs on anybody, and we seek always to settle our problems by peaceful means. This resolve defines our attitude to the proposed Four-Power meeting. The original Soviet proposal was to discuss the de-militarisation of Germany on the basis of the Potsdam proposals. From what I have already said, I think it is clear what are the causes of world unrest. It is useless to discuss the question of German re-armament in isolation. It must be considered in the wider context of how the tension existing in the world can be reduced. We have to find some way by which the free world and the totalitarian world are able to live together.
We are seeking to bring about this Four-Power meeting, and we are seeking to ensure that the agenda shall correspond with the realities of the world situation. I have had complaints from people saying, "Why do you take so long over this?" It is quite useless to rush into a 71 matter like this with an ill-considered agenda, or an agenda in which we are tied down so that we cannot discuss the essential matters. It only results in renewed failure. We are, therefore, taking counsel with France and the United States, and we are considering the various points that might be raised in this agenda, but there must be careful preparation.
I would say a word here against the suggestion which one receives quite often that all these difficulties could be smoothed out if we suddenly had a meeting of three or four men. You cannot do it that way. I do not believe in these dramatic meetings, miraculously changing the whole situation. All four Powers have their own points of view, which have to be considered, but it is our earnest hope that this meeting will take place. We are most reluctant, as are other nations of the West, to increase our armaments. We do not want these burdens on our people. We would like to see the burden lifted from the Russian people as well.
Therefore, we welcome any opportunity to discuss these matters, and I am quite certain that the wish of the people all over the world, not excluding those behind the Iron Curtain, is for relief from this burden and for getting on with the real job of creating increased prosperity and happiness, instead of devoting this mass of treasure and work to armaments. The House can be assured that in this and other matters we will do our utmost to seek a meeting and to secure agreement.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
With the sentiments which the Prime Minister has just expressed there will be a great deal of agreement throughout the House. I think we must all express the hope that the Government's policy is going to be pursued with vigour and success. I must confess that, when he came to discuss the conversations now going on in Paris, it seemed to me that the Government might have taken a rather more positive line in accordance with the policy they had put forward.
On the subject of the re-armament of Germany, I find myself largely in agreement with the Prime Minister's approach; that is to say, the right hon. Gentleman accepts the principle, as I understood him, that Germany shall contribute to a 72 genuine international army, without in any way our being blind to the difficulties and dangers which might arise from that course. My only comment on that is that, while I am sure we all appreciate the delicacy of this matter, and while we all hope that the conversations with Russia may take place and may possibly put this question of German re-armament in a new context, nevertheless, I think we must consider this matter as being of the greatest urgency. If we are going to rearm Germany on the basis of a German contribution to an international force, we have not only to make up our minds to do so soon, but must set about it as quickly as possible, because we cannot afford any delay in this matter if our policy is to be effective. The crisis, we are agreed, is immediate.
I am sure also that there will be wide agreement with the Prime Minister and with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) about the need to be strong in the present world situation. Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition drew attention to the fact that it is not we who started re-arming. Re-armament was started long ago by Russia and her satellites in the East. This should not have taken us by surprise. We have been able to read and to listen to Communist statements for many years making it clear that force is in their view a legitimate means of enforcing their policy and attaining their ends. We know that the Communists' view is that the development of the world is a struggle, and that, if they do not consider war with the capitalist and democratic countries inevitable, they regard it as highly likely.
Incidentally, Communists do not appear to be the only people who believe in force as an instrument of policy. I think the statement by Mr. Cole, which has been referred to, in which he said that he would have been glad if the North Koreans had won, can only be interpreted as meaning that he believes that it is right to declare war on a neighbouring country if you do not like her government—a strange view for a democratic publicist in the 20th century.
I do not believe that the Russians are afraid. They have only to read the freely-expressed speeches and statements made throughout the democratic countries in order to know that there is not 73 the slightest chance of our Government here, or the Government of any of the allied countries, remaining in office one day if it plans an unprovoked attack upon Russia or upon any of her neighbours. On the contrary, they must know perfectly well, unless they deliberately shut their minds, that there is a great deal of sympathy in this country for the Russian people, and that we only seek friendship with a people so lately our Allies.
I think then that one leg of our policy must be strength, but that by itself is not enough. I have never believed that all we have to do in order to preserve peace is to prepare for war, which I believe is the sentiment originally expressed by the Romans, who were the most successful war-mongers of all time. In addition to strength, we must also pursue some positive peace aims. I think we should seek contact with the Russians, as we are doing now, on every occasion. I cannot agree with the Prime Minister that an attempt to obtain a high level meeting about a year ago, the time of the suggestion by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), might not have been successful. I think that no opportunity should be lost in trying to get in touch with the Russians and to find out what is in their rather obscure and tortuous minds, as well as to impress upon them that our own intentions are perfectly honest and peaceful.
I think we have done ourselves a great disservice by talking so much of their Iron Curtain. I would say three things. First of all, I do not think that the Communists will go to war in all circumstances, though they may take advantage of our weakness or disunity. If they can achieve their ends without war, they will do so. Secondly, in some of the satellite countries, there must be many people in the professional and governing classes whose minds are not completely held in the grip of Communism, and who know something of the progress of the West, and who, even if they are Communists for the time being, still have some chinks in their armour through which truth might penetrate. We ought not to cut off touch with such people.
Lastly, if we have any hope for the future of the world at all, any hope that we shall get back to real peace—not, at best, an armed truce, and, at worst, an 74 atomic war—we must believe that the nature of Communism itself may change. It has contributed to European thought over the last hundred years. We must believe in the possibility that in time it will merge into the main stream of world development purged of its cruder and bitterer elements. We have seen that happen to Mohammedism, which began as a militant crusade trying to impose itself upon the world, but has become a philosophic religion.
For these three reasons, I think we must maintain our contacts behind the Iron Curtain in order that we may have the chance of making a settlement, but this is not the only problem facing us today. There are many other problems which exist in the world beside that of Communism. There is the great problem of the increased populations in Asia and the East of Europe, which creates that sort of unbalance which when it has happened in the past, has been very often the concomitant of war. That seems to be a matter for which an international organisation should be set up. Then, there is the question of the whole future of Africa, which is of vital importance for the future of the whole world. That is not a private matter for the Colonial or Commonwealth Relations offices. I cannot help thinking that it is a pity that the Government are advised on this matter by someone whose solution for the native peoples seems to be segregation of the harshest kind.
Then there is the question of building up standards of life throughout the world. Some hon. Members may have read the letter in the "Manchester Guardian" from Mr. Victor Gollancz on that subject. I know it is said that all we can do in the matter is a very small amount, and that we cannot stop the march of Communism by self-government, or education, or by raising the standards of life. I dare say that the average man in Malaya is more concerned with protection against bandits than lie is with our views and philosophy. But I think that the leaders of Asia and Africa are watching very carefully to see if our friendship with them is sincere or is based simply on fear of our enemies. If we accept that, I think we must face up to its implications.
Do we really believe in a welfare world? If so, we must bear in mind that there will be some degree of fair shares, and that we on this occasion are one 75 of the richer countries in the world and have to accept the consequences of that. I must confess that one of the more sinister developments of the planned State is this tendency to export its troubles—this tendency to talk, as I must confess the Minister of Food talked, what I would call economic jingoism. That is not, I think, compatible with the sort of view put forward by Mr. Gollancz.
Therefore, when we come to discuss the problems which face us today, we must keep two objects in view—defence and a positive campaign for peace. I think that in Korea the Government have been quite right to try and form a bridge between the views of India, on the one hand, and those of the Commonwealth and the United States on the other. If they have failed, it is because they have not taken a sufficiently authoritative stand early enough and at a high enough level. There was a danger of giving the impression of some estrangement between us and the United States. The United States are absolutely essential to the defence of democracy and to any real chance of raising living standards throughout the world. I think it is our duty to try and give the utmost understanding to their point of view.
I have no doubt that many of the matters which arise in the Far East are better discussed in private than in public, and, of course, in private, we have the absolute right to put our own point of view and to impress it upon the United States, but in one or two matters I believe that we should give more publicity to their point of view. It has been urged that they should have agreed to accept Communist China into the United Nations. I personally agree. I think it is a pity that they blackballed them from the Security Council, but I do not think that excuses China's subsequent action any more than the fact that Russia has kept Ireland out of the United Nations would excuse an anti-Russian policy on the part of this country.
Again, I think it is a pity that the United States seemed to cast their cloak over Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa. I think that Formosa should be under an international authority, and that its future status should be decided according to the wishes of the Formosan people. But if Communist China is going to 76 pray in aid agreements already entered into by Chiang Kia-shek's Government, then the United States have the perfect right to ask that country, "Are you going to accept the obligations of that Government?"
There is also a school of opinion which says we ought not to become too involved in the Far East. Again, I agree. But we must be very careful that we do not ourselves get too involved with the point of view taken up by the American isolationists in the last war who said that they were ready to defend America, but would not fight in Europe. That sort of attitude is a very dangerous one to this country, and one which will have a boomerang effect on us if we press it too far. I still hope and believe that we should get together with China round a conference table, even if we have to make certain concessions to her, but I do not think we should enter into a conference with China with our hands tied by pronouncements.
We have great commitments throughout the Far East, in Malaya and Korea, and we have only limited resources. The whole doctrine of collective security depends for its validity on the possibility of real success. We now believe that had we intervened in the early stages, we might have stopped Mussolini or Hitler, thereby preventing the Second World War. But the situation today, when we have a battle line in the Near East and in the Far East, is very different, and we must look very carefully at our commitments and at our means for carrying out those commitments.
I am not sure that there is not a case here for diplomacy in private—under of course higher direction on the vital points. Let us see if those experienced in negotiating with these people cannot find a solution of the difficulties which would enable us to strengthen democracy, and, at the same time, to obtain peace while maintaining our original objective which I take to be the integrity and freedom of Korea.
I think, too, that we have to look at the situation of the United Nations. It seems to me that there is in it such a divergence of views which can be reflected in the Veto that we cannot expect an international viewpoint which is more than a compromise between the different national points of view. I think that the 77 United Nations still has a vital part to play. I believe that in these days when we have debased ordinary ambassadoral channels, it has a part to play as a meeting place—a place where temperatures may be lowered. I am by no means saying that we ought to turn our backs on that organisation, but I do not think we shall get from it a really international viewpoint. That being so, it makes it all the more necessary to build up the other organisations which have grown up in its shadow and which contain some of the European nations, the Empire and ourselves who have common ideas. I think that within these organisations we can break out from our national points of view.
I believe that has a bearing on the problem of the re-armament of Germany. We have heard it stressed that the problem of the re-armament of Germany must be looked at in a wider context. I agree; I think it should be looked at in an international context. If we give the Germans the impression that our new policy of re-armament is one born of selfish fear and bred in cynicism, we shall earn nothing but their contempt and shall alienate any possible support we may get from Eastern Europe. But if we give the impression that it is part of a collective endeavour for peace, then, I think, we shall get a much more satisfactory result, not only from the Germans, but from other European nations. That seems to me to be the attitude in which we must approach this problem.
Lastly, I think I must say this. There is a widespread disquiet in this country over the continued absence of the Foreign Minister. No one would want to say anything to cause him pain in his recovery from illness. He is a man for whom there is the greatest respect in this country, and he is a man who expresses the feeling of this country extremely well. Indeed, he might be said to feel for England, and even his failings we regard sympathetically. But some people wonder whether we have really made our views known in time over these great matters in the Far East. We are an Empire and Commonwealth with responsibilities to three Continents and we have a very great part to play in the world today. I do not think we can afford to abdicate that part even for a month.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetlands (Mr. Grimond) travelled well over the world in his speech, but in my speech I am going to concentrate if I can on the rearmament of Germany which, from his remarks both towards the end of his speech and earlier, I rather thought the hon. Member supported. He did, however, refer to the policy of German re-armament as the new policy of His Majesty's Government and suggested, I think rightly, that it would be rather unfortunate if the impression were given either to the Germans or to the Eastern satellites, that this change in our policy on German re-armament has been started by some sudden fear or possibly something connected with the Korean trouble.
In a sense, I am glad to note that the Government have changed their minds on this, because it gives me some hope that they will change their minds again. The Prime Minister said, and so did the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in rather simple phrases that we cannot leave a vacuum in Germany and asked, alternatively, whether, if we do not help them re-arm, we are going to allow our men to go and defend Western Germany against some Russian attack? I think that in three respects this question of German re-armament is a very much too serious and questionable policy to be put on that kind of basis.
In the first place I do not think it can be proved that Germany is going to be really of very great value to us, that is to the Western European and Atlantic Powers, in matters of manpower potential and in matters of iron and steel, coal, electricity, oil and fuel and so on. I do not think it has ever been established that German re-armament is really essential and will help us very much. Secondly, the men and women who fought or lost relatives in the last war, and possibly in the previous war, are very angry indeed that this kind of change or volte face should suddenly have been effected by the Government.
Two Saturdays ago the last batches of young men had to sign on for National Service. As I had spoken in my constituency and said I was opposed to German re-armament, I had a letter on the subject from 15 of the 20 boys in my constituency who had gone to the labour 79 exchange to sign on. The 15 who signed the memorandum to me said they represented the views of 15 of the 20. They also said they would be part of the electorate in 1955. I do not know why they said 1955. Perhaps they meant 1954, because they are 18 now and will have the vote in 1954. On the other hand, it may mean that they think there will not be an election for five years and they would be voters for the first time in 1955. In their memorandum they said they supported the view I had expressed.
I am emphasising that the Government's policy on German re-armament is causing a great deal of anger. After all, people do not forget that this has happened before. Everybody who can remember or who has read about what happened between 1919 and 1939 knows that perfectly well. In 1919 for instance, the President of the United States asked if, in fixing an Army of 100,000 the military experts had considered "the exterior danger from Russia." Early in 1920 the German Government asked whether they could not have 50,000. By April of the same year the demand had risen for an Army of 200,000 with equipment including heavy artillery and, "temporarily," military aircraft and permission to have police forces quartered in barracks and under centralised control. The Allies granted permission for the establishment of the para-military police force. Then the demand went on to asking for 60,000 in a security police force. Later, they had permission to increase the ordinary police force from 92,000 to 150,000 men armed with heavy machine guns and machine pistols. There were other demands which went right on to 1930 when Hitler really began to secure control and eventually marched into the Rhineland.
Now I am informed that there is an organisation called the Bruderschaft which, in a sense, is the same kind of body which the Nazis formed very soon after the last war. They are sending out the same kind of propaganda, denying that they were ever full-blooded Fascists. Their leader is a former leader of Nazis in Germany before and during the war. The second in command was formerly in the S.S. All these things are on record, and I am certain that the Foreign Office has more information about these details 80 than I have secured in the last few months.
The Germans have the ability and the facility for lying low for three, four or five years after they have been beaten and slowly, one way or another, ingratiating themselves with the Allies or the victors. They make the victors feel sorry for them and make something appear as a danger, such as the possible threat from Russia is now made to appear, so that we seriously consider today the question of German re-armament. So they go on and get re-armed. In fact we will find that our policy makes the Germans the arbiters of what happens in Europe. This is not the first time it has happened. Every time she is beaten Germany becomes, sooner or later, the powerful Central European country which decides in the end whether there shall be war or not.
It is an insult to the people throughout the world who fought Nazism and Fascism that we should be arming the kind of people who are the successors of the Nazis in the earlier days. In the third place, it is provocative. I went to Poland in 1947 and visited, among other places, Auschwitz Camp. There I was told that some 6 million or more Jews and Poles and others had been put to death. I see that a Polish woman who was in the camp is writing a book in which she puts the figure as high as 7 million. I know there is a big difference between 6 million and 7 million, but let us assume it is 6 million. There I saw every day charabancs full of young boys and girls of between 16 and 17 being taken from surrounding towns to see the concentration camp and to see what happened to their fathers and mothers. There were special models of the camp to show what happened.
I said to General Grosz, who was a public relations officer in the Foreign Office with Cabinet rank, "How is it that you can possibly take these young people every day of the week to see places where the Germans did their parents to death? How you can possibly keep alive their hatred passes my comprehension." He said, "It is too recent. We cannot let them forget how these people treated us so abominably. They are not to be allowed to forget in case this breaks out again." I said, "You are a Jew and a Communist. Supposing there was a German Communist Government, would you 81 still behave like this?" He said, "Yes, perhaps they will be Germans first and Communists afterwards."
I was asked by many people in Poland during that visit whether we would ever again, within possible foresight, support German re-armament, because if so they felt certain that the Germans would try to recapture their lost territories. It will be remembered that Poland gained a good deal of Germany's Eastern territories, including Silesia and Prussia, as compensation for the loss of some of her territories. It is true that I spoke to these people in 1947, before there was a Communist Government. It seems that at the head of one department there was a Communist Secretary, while in another department there was a Communist Under-Minister.
§ Mr. Bowles
The hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) put an important supplementary question last week, in which he asked whether the Government had agreed in principle to German re-armament and were now trying to muff the negotiations. I am certain, as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said, in a phrase which I took down, that the Russians are spreading rumours that the Western Germans are being re-armed, in order to consolidate under their wing Warsaw and Prague.
§ Mr. Nigel Davies (Epping)
Will the hon. Gentleman say if he asked the Minister what steps he was taking to keep the Polish people informed of Russian atrocities against them?
§ Mr. Bowles
The hon. Gentleman should know that the Poles have little time for the Russians. I think they hate the Russians, and they have a lot of words in their language which describe their feelings for the Germans, too. At that time the Poles were not completely dominated by the Russians. I feel certain, as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said in his speech, that the Russian Government is using stories about Western re-armament as a good method of keeping Warsaw and Prague safe and consolidated under the Kremlin. How much more so, a fortiori, will that be the case if, in fact, the Western Germans are re-armed? The 82 Russian stories will then be true. I did not go to Czechoslovakia, but I am told that there is a great dislike there for the Russians. I think that the best and cleverest thing, in an ironical sort of way, that we could do to consolidate Poland and Czechoslovakia in particular under the wing of the Soviet Union would be to follow this policy of re-arming Germany. I mean that seriously.
I hope my hon. Friend the Minister of State will realise that these fears are shared by a great number of other people. I do not feel that this is a party matter. I find that many people do not believe in the Government's present policy; indeed, the Government themselves did not believe in it a few weeks ago. I should like to know how long after the Foreign Secretary got off the boat in New York he was converted to this idea. I am certain that when he left the country he was not in favour of German rearmament. What are we promised? Have we been promised American troops to be stationed in Europe? According to the Prime Minister, we are agreeing in principle to German re-armament, but the American troops have gone to Korea.
I invite hon. Members to look at the figures of manpower and manpower potential in Russia and her satellites, omitting the figures for Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey who would probably be on our side. We had 17 million people in 1815 when we beat Napoleon, who had a 100 million population behind him. We are thinking in terms now of the populations of Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Roumania, Bulgaria and so on. I suggest that it is not enough merely to add up populations. We have to relate that to the industrial power and war potential and so on, and the number of men needed at home to keep a man in uniform at the front. If those figures to which I have referred are consulted it will be seen not only in the materials needed for war, such as iron, steel, coal, oil, electricity and so on, but also from the point of view of the position of the United States with the great advances which she has made, coupled with our advances, we have gone a long way ahead of the industrial progress of the Russians, whose industry suffered severely in the war.
There is a tendency to be a bit too frightened of Russia at the moment. I 83 am not convinced that she is anxious to start a fight. I still think that Stalin holds the view that before one starts a fight one must find out the war industrial power of the enemy. What is the national income per head of the population in Russia, in our country, United States and so on? I feel certain that before starting a fight, one should have a good chance of winning. I believe that Stalin is a wise enough man not to want to fight, and that we are playing largely into the hands of the Kremlin and consolidating the satellite States, particularly Poland and Czechoslovakia. If we do re-arm Germany, the rumours will be enough to help to consolidate those countries under the Kremlin, and surely the facts will be much more telling.
Although the Government may have changed their minds in favour of this policy in the last few months, I hope they will reconsider the whole matter from the point of view of whether it is really necessary, and from the point of view of the relative total strength of the Soviet and the Western democracies including the Atlantic Treaty Powers. Is it necessary from the point of view of the injury and hurt which it will do to a lot of people who have suffered in the fight against Fascism, to re-arm these people again? We should weigh carefully the provocative aspect of the proposal which the Government have in mind of re-arming a country which will consolidate under the Kremlin's wing those countries which have suffered so sadly in the various concentration camps and whose peoples are still keeping alive their hatred of Germany.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Duncan Sandys (Streatham)
Before I start to say what I have to say this evening, Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will allow me to explain that I have moved my seat not because of any difference with my colleagues but merely because I wish to be free from time to time to take part in these debates on foreign affairs and defence in which I have for a long time been interested. The Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) ranged over many subjects. I propose this evening to touch only on two: first. the so-called German 84 problem, and then the related problem of the proposed four-Power conference. I say the so-called German problem because it is not really a German problem at all. The problem of the relations between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers overshadows every single aspect of the German problem.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), raises in his Motion on the Order Paper, a very important issue—the question of German unity. It is an issue which is being exploited very extensively and unscrupulously in their propaganda by the Communists throughout Germany. They are trying to make political capital out of the natural desire of every German to see his country again reunited. It is no good raising the issue as though there were an immediate solution to it. Neither His Majesty's Government nor any Government on this side of the Iron Curtain can solve this problem. We can all agree that so long as Germany is cut in two, there is a danger for the peace of Europe. But what can we do to alter that situation in present circumstances? It is quite clear that so long as two-thirds of the German population live in conditions of freedom and democracy and the remaining one-third live under a totalitarian régime, unity is not possible. The Chancellor of Western Germany, Dr. Adenauer, was perfectly right when he insisted the other day that the first essential step towards the re-establishment of German unity was for the East German Government to restore conditions of democracy and political freedom in the Soviet zone. That would open the way for free elections throughout the whole of Germany, if possible under international supervision.
But what hope is there that the East German puppet Government could agree to establish conditions of political freedom in the Soviet zone? Is it conceivable that the Kremlin could allow democracy to be restored in Eastern Germany without shaking the very foundations of its satellite empire behind the Iron Curtain? And even if all those condition's were fulfilled, even if democracy were restored in Eastern Germany, even if free elections were held and a democratic Government for all Germany installed, German unity would still be quite meaningless so long as the country continued to be split along the 85 line of the Elbe into two opposing armed camps of military occupation.
In an article which he wrote the other day in the "Daily Herald," the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) faced this problem and advocated the complete withdrawal of the occupation forces on both sides, leaving Germany disarmed and neutralised. I think the Prime Minister adequately answered that proposal in his speech today. It is not conceivable for a great nation of 60 million people, with vast resources of manufacturing capacity and raw materials, to remain impartial and impassive, defenceless and neutral, while the Soviet armies mass behind the Oder-Neisse line and the Atlantic forces build up along the Rhine.
§ Mr. Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
The proposal which I advanced, and which has been advanced by others, is that there should be an army on the Oder, which would be the Russian Army, and an army on the Rhine. If it is advanced by the right hon. Gentleman that it is impossible to have a neutralised, demilitarised, unified Germany in the middle of Europe, why did he agree to it, and why did the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) agree to it at the Potsdam Conference?
§ Mr. Eden
If I might intervene, we did agree to that at Potsdam and I wish the Potsdam Agreement could have been carried out. If the Soviet Union had shown any kind of collaboration, it would have been carried out. It is not the fault of His Majesty's Government or of anybody else except Soviet Russia that the Potsdam Agreement was not implemented.
§ Mr. Sandys
Perhaps I may be allowed to intervene. I thought the Prime Minister summed up the argument very well today when he said that Germany cannot be left as a vacuum. Even if it were a feasible proposition to leave Germany as a vacuum, neutralised, defenceless and demilitarised, we could not, on strategic grounds, consider the withdrawal of our troops at a moment like this when relations are so strained between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Bowles
Neither the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington 86 (Mr. Eden) nor the Prime Minister gave the three alternatives. They spoke of either re-arming Germany or of leaving a vacuum. The third alternative—if there can be such a thing—is to leave our troops there.
§ Mr. Sandys
That is what I am saying; the third alternative is to leave our troops there, but there can be no neutralised and no unified Germany so long as we leave our troops there. The solution to the problem of German unity, unhappily like the solution to so many other problems, depends on our being able by some means or another to restore something like relations of normality between ourselves and the Soviet Union.
I see that the hon. Member for Coventry, East is back in his place. I very much regret the Motion which he has put on the Order Paper about German re-armament, and I think many other hon. Members regret it, too. There is no doubt that the Soviet Government will be very closely watching our proceedings during this week and in the weeks which lie ahead. They will watch our behaviour, our conduct and our actions, in order to gauge the strength of our determination. There is no doubt that, rightly or wrongly, they will interpret the Motion of the hon. Member for Coventry, East, and the Motion of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) on "Peace and Re-armament" as evidence that there is a section of opinion in the Labour Party, in the Government Party as they will look upon it, which favours a policy of appeasement.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
If by the word "appeasement" the right hon. Member means doing the wrong thing because you are afraid to do the right thing, then I am not in favour of it and nothing in this Motion would support the view that I am; but if it means trying to find out what are the real causes of dispute, of trying to reach an understanding, a settlement, on decent and honourable terms, then I am in favour of that.
I know it is no good pursuing an argument with the hon. Member. He has already had a pretty good innings tonight, and I am not going to encourage him any farther. The Motion of the hon. Member for Coventry, East, was against German re-armament, and I 87 should like to say something on that subject.
Of course, we all of us dislike the idea of having to re-arm the Germans so soon after the end of the war, and there is nobody who dislikes it more than the Germans themselves; but I think we have to recognise that, in the dangerous times in which we live, we need all the strength that we can muster, and if the Germans are willing to join with us in the defence of their freedom and ours, then I think we ought to be glad of their help. The Prime Minister has re-affirmed—not, I think, in a very definite way—the policy of German re-armament. He re-asserted the principle, but he dwelt at such length upon the uncertainty of the manner, the time and the method by which this rearmament would be carried through, that I am afraid it is likely to have an unsettling effect upon those who are in Germany responsible for working out a practical policy.
However, there is one thing which the Prime Minister said which was interesting to me, and that was that in creating a German force it was essential that it should be created in a manner which would avoid the re-creation and the encouragement of German militarism. That, of course, is precisely the argument which inspired the German Government's insistence that any military units, which they might contribute to the defence of Europe should serve in an integrated European army. That is precisely the argument which they used. The German Government and the German Parliament are, I believe, as keen as the Prime Minister, to avoid the revival of German militarism.
I should have thought that this plan for a European army which was put forward with the precise purpose of avoiding German militarism, and of avoiding the danger of a war in the future between France and Germany and other European nations, and which was inspired by this healthy, peaceful attitude, would have received a welcome on all sides. The French Government were quick to see its importance. They have supported the idea right through. The American Government, rather more remote from this problem, hesitated at first, but they have now satisfied themselves that there is no conflict or inconsistency between the idea 88 of a European army and the Atlantic Pact, and they have now publicly given their blessing to the scheme.
I do not wish to go back into the history of the attitude adopted by the Government towards this proposal, but I think it is fair to say that all the way through they have done what they could to discourage and to discredit the idea. They have tried to persuade the French Government to drop their objections to the formation of a German military force on purely national lines. They have not succeeded. The conference in Paris this week will, I believe, produce a scheme for a European army which will be accepted by a number of governments.
Now, the Prime Minister, replying to my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington, said that the reason why we could not ourselves participate fully in this European army, and why we were sending only an observer, was that we were part of the Atlantic organisation. Those, I think, were his words. This was the same argument as was used by the Foreign Secretary in an earlier debate, in which he said that the reason why we could not take part in the European army, and why the Government were opposed to it, was that European defence must be organised on the basis of the Atlantic Pact. Of course it must be. Nobody has ever questioned that.
I think that a great deal of the differences of opinion between us on the question of a European army may have been due to a genuine misunderstanding of what was intended. Now that the scheme is emerging, it is perfectly clear that the European army is going to be inside the Atlantic force and under the orders of the Supreme Atlantic Commander. The only difference is that instead of having 10 or 15 German divisions under a German commander and another big block of French troops under a French commander, we shall have a formation called a European army which will be composed of a number of army corps of mixed nationalities.
I agree with the Prime Minister's criticisms of the idea of a supra national parliamentary assembly to run the European army. That is something which is not acceptable anywhere in this country, and I do not even believe that it will materialise when they come to thresh out the details of it in the conference. 89 [Interruption.] What we spoke about at Strasbourg was democratic control, which is a quite different thing from setting up an irresponsible supra-national parliament subject to no democratic control at all.
The question is now, should we not send a full delegate to this conference? What is the disadvantage? Surely, if a new organisation is to be set up it is better that we should have some say in deciding what the scheme should be? Instead of having a silent gentleman attending at the conference table, we ought to help to work out the scheme, so as to make it one in which we could take part, and to ensure that it fits in, as far as possible, with our ideas of Western defence. There is danger that one European organisation after another is going to be set up with Britain always staying outside. The effect of this will be that we are gradually going to lose bit by bit our influence, and such leadership as we still have, on the Continent of Europe.
This Paris conference on the European army is the culmination of nearly five months' of discussion between governments as to the form which German rearmament should take. But it seems that we are now considering discussing with the Russians at a Four-Power conference the question of German demilitarisation—in other words, the question whether Germany should be re-armed at all. The Prime Minister confirmed the policy of German re-armament in principle, but how can his statement be reconciled—[Interruption.] I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Coventry, East, agrees with me.
How can the Prime Minister's statement be reconciled with discussions with the Russians on whether the Germans shall be allowed to re-arm at all? Having invited Germany to be our ally in the defence of the West against the possibility of Russian attack, we cannot now sit down with the Russians as though they were still our allies and discuss with them the demilitarisation of Germany as though she were still our enemy, and then expect the Germans to behave again as allies if our talks with the Russians break down.
§ The Prime Minister
I should like to understand this point. We have been invited by the Russians to discuss the problem of German re-armament, and we 90 have said that that must be discussed with a number of other things. I understood the general line was that we ought to go into a conference, but as I follow it, the right hon. Gentleman now wants us to turn down any idea of a conference.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am grateful to the Prime Minister for that intervention, because if I gave the impression that I am against the conference I should like now to say that I most certainly am not, and I propose to say something about it before I sit down. Perhaps there is no difference between the Prime Minister and myself on this point. If he says, "We are going to discuss German re-armament as part of the whole problem of arms in the Communist and non-Communist world," then I am in entire agreement with him. If, on the other hand, he says, "We are going to discuss German re-armament as a separate problem," in other words, we might possibly arrive at an agreement about the demilitarisation of Germany without any wider agreement about arms in general, then I feel that is inconsistent with the policy he has announced.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman cannot have heard what I said. I devoted a considerable time to saying that we were not prepared to discuss Germany in isolation without discussing the general principle of disarmament.
§ Mr. Sandys
What the Prime Minister says is most important I want to pursue this because it is as well that we should be clear about it. It is possible to say, "We are not going to discuss German demilitarisation without discussing the question of Austria, and all sorts of other questions." What I am asking—and perhaps the Prime Minister will give me an answer—is whether he would be prepared to say that there can be no question of going back on the decision that Germany shall be re-armed, and that there can be no question of coming to any agreement about the demilitarisation of Germany except as part of an agreement with the Russians on the whole question of the limitation of armaments.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman is really asking me to repeat my speech. Perhaps he will read my speech and see what I said. I think it covers all the points he is raising.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not think so. If that is the position, I should be very satisfied indeed because I feel that German rearmament can no longer now be treated as a separate problem. German re-armament has become part and parcel of the rearmament of the whole Atlantic alliance. Therefore, in my view there can be no question of discussing demilitarisation except as part of a general arms settlement covering the whole of the Soviet bloc and the Western world.
A general settlement to end the cold war, to end the race in arms, that is of course what the whole world is praying for. The question is: Can a four-Power conference bring it about? I think we have got to recognise that the outlook for this conference is not very bright. There are very grave difficulties. Nevertheless, if a fair and reasonable agenda can be agreed—and we must be prepared to make considerable concessions in trying to get an agreed agenda—it is clearly our duty to make the attempt, not only to go to the conference, but to go there with the will to try to find a basis for a settlement.
Whether it will succeed I cannot tell. But of one thing I am certain, and that is that the prospects of success for this conference will be greatly improved if by our actions in the interval, we can convince the Russians that we and our allies are in deadly earnest about our own re-armament, and that we mean to defend our freedom no matter what the danger and what the cost. That, I believe, is the best contribution we can make towards creating conditions favourable to the settlement which in all parts of the House we truly and sincerely desire.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I want to say a word or two, quite briefly, on German re-armament because I want in some measure to criticise the policy of the Government on that subject; but before coming to that I should like to make a few preliminary remarks.
In the first place, I am in full agreement with the Government's plans for the re-armament of this country as outlined in the White Paper, which I hope will have the full support of the House and of the country. Secondly, I am in full agreement with the analysis which the Prime Minister made in his speech recently at Forest Hill of the dangers of 92 the world situation, to which he again referred in his speech this afternoon. I do not think the Prime Minister exaggerated in any way the danger in which we stand and in which the world stands from the menace of Russian imperialism. Thirdly, I agree with the Prime Minister that of course we have got to make friendship and co-operation with the United States of America and the other Western democracies the sheet-anchor of our foreign policy.
Having said that, may I add that in my opinion the proposals for the rearmament of Western Germany are a profound mistake, that they are wrong in principle, and at this moment are a danger to the peace of the world. In the first place, it would be idle to ignore the very large body of opinion which exists in this country, and which is expressing itself in various ways, showing the greatest repugnance to the whole idea of German re-armament and the whole conception that we might participate in a joint European force with our former German enemies as comrades.
The fact that there is this aversion from fighting along with former Nazis is itself a factor. That fear is of tremendous psychological importance. I think the Government must realise that there are millions of people who cannot forget and forgive, and who are not prepared to forget the Nazi horrors of the last war—the horrors of Belsen, of Dauchau, of Buchenwald and other centres of torture. That is asking too much, even of those who are perfectly willing to support the necessity of making the immense sacrifices involved in preparation for our own re-armament.
Secondly, I would emphasise the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who referred to the effect which German rearmament would have on Russia's satellites. It is perfectly true that the people in Czechoslovakia, Poland and other Eastern satellites now under Russian domination are still, strange though it may seem to us, very fearful of Germany, and very fearful of the revival of Germany—and of a militarist Germany. The one thing, if we are going to have a war with Russia, that would drive the Czechs and the Poles wholeheartedly into supporting Soviet Russia would be if their chief enemy was a strongly re-armed Germany.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am hoping that in the course of the debate we shall have some more reliable information than we yet have on the extent to which the Eastern Germans have been re-armed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I think that we have had a great many exaggerated reports about it. I am not denying that there is an Eastern German police force and that they have some kind of arms. But have they got tanks, and what other equipment have they?
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Has my hon. Friend asked himself why we do not know anything about this, when we know a good deal about the conditions in the free countries?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I have not the information and I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington has. All I ask is that we should not get ourselves into the position of exaggerating the degree of German rearmament in Eastern Germany. Admittedly, there has been some, and on that subject I would always support the proposal made by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), in an earlier debate, that it would be perfectly logical for us to say that we would re-arm the police in Western Germany to the extent to which the Russians were rearming the police in Eastern Germany. The proposal now made in some quarters is whether we should go further than that. By going further than that, we are taking a step which is in itself provocative and which may be the spark to start the very conflagration we are trying to avoid.
I think that the whole House is agreed on one thing. We are all anxious to avoid a recrudescence of a Nazi or militarist Germany. One of the points that apparently divides opinion in various parts of the House is whether or not it is possible by incorporating combat forces up to a certain strength from Western Germany into a European force to avoid a recrudescence of Nazi and militarist elements in Germany. I think that a great many people, if not the majority of people in Western Germany, think that it is impossible to combine these two 94 objectives. One may well involve the other.
I do not think that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington really faced this problem. I am glad that he is in the Chamber. In his speech, he said that if we wished to build for peace we must take steps to enable Germany to play her full part, and the sooner we give Western Germany equal status with us, the better. The difficulty which we are getting into in these negotiations with the Germans is this: We started by asking them to make some contribution to Western European defence forces on a certain limited basis under very definite conditions—certain contributions limited in quantity and limited in equality. Having once said that, to some measure we have lost our bargaining position not only with the Russians, but with the Germans as well, for we find the Germans saying, "We do not want to make a contribution on these terms. We want equality first and our sovereignty recognised. We want equality before we are going in."
If we once get to that position—and I hope that we shall not—that because the Germans are being invited to make a contribution we are going to concede to them full sovereign status and equality—because I gather that is what the right hon. Gentleman suggested—if he and those who support him take that view, we cannot any longer effectively impose any conditions on the extent to which the Germans re-arm themselves. If they are once recognised as a sovereign State with equal status they will be entitled to have their own defence force and a German High Command, and, if I understood the right hon. Gentleman correctly, he said, in answer to an interruption, that they would be entitled to have their own Air Force. I assume that if they want to manufacture atomic bombs they will be entitled to do so, because all these matters follow logically and necessarily once we recognise their sovereign status.
I want to make my position perfectly clear. I think that we must admit that our attitude to this question depends on whether one thinks that a war is inevitable in the next year or two or not. I think that if we concede that a war is inevitable, it may well be worth while allowing all questions of principle to go 95 by the board and getting all the help that we can, from the Germans, even the Nazi Germans, from Spain, and by encouraging America to hold Formosa because of its strategic importance. I agree that when a country is in a war situation the paramount consideration is to win the war and that we want all the friends that we can get. If that is the position under which German re-armament is being proposed, I say that it is definitely premature, because if we take that view the urgent necessity is to equip the armies of Britain, America and France and the Benelux countries.
That is not the basis on which we and our Allies are proceeding. We are proceeding on the basis that war is not inevitable. We are re-arming and America is re-arming and we are building up an Atlantic force in order to preserve the peace of the world and building up a sufficient number of divisions in Western Europe to act as a deterrent against possible aggression by Soviet Russia. I urge on the Government this consideration, that that being our policy, it is important for them to remember that, apart from any other considerations at all, if we were to embark wholeheartedly upon a policy of building up a German Army and rearming the Germans, relying on their strength, it may be taking the one step provocative to the Russians which will produce the very calamity which we are trying to avoid.
I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that we were only going to send an observer to the discussions going on in Paris. I think that one is bound to admit that we are not an entirely free agent in this matter. We have to consider the American and French wishes, and the Government having once taken a decision in principle that they would explore this whole question, I must say to my hon. Friends who support certain Motions on the Order Paper that, that decision having been taken, there are certain obligations to go on exploring. I hope that we shall not for a very long time to come do very much more than explore, because I hope that the Government will stand by the statement made by the Under-Secretary last week that no irrevocable steps have been taken, and I was glad to hear the Prime Minister confirm that all questions 96 about time, methods, and conditions still want working out.
One of the conditions mentioned by the Prime Minister was that we must preclude the emergence of a militarist or Nazi Germany. I hope that we can do that. We all hope that in the process of time Western Germany will build itself up into a democratic and peace-loving nation. No one can tell at the present time what the future of Germany will be—whether in three or four years' time Germany will be democratic, Nazi or Communist. No one can guarantee, if Germany is armed and has her independence, whether she will fight on our side or against us. It will be remembered what happened at the battle of Leipzig; how in the middle of the battle the Germans changed over from one side to another. Germany will be a sovereign State entitled to do what she likes.
I hope that, on any footing, the view will commend itself to the Government and to Members that at this time any consideration of German re-armament is entirely premature. After all, we have a right to change our minds and to modify our opinions the same as other Governments. The Americans have changed their mind about this since a decision was taken in principle. It is a very odd result if we are to be tied to something we know to be wrong, because we have agreed in principle, while other nations have had second thoughts. General Eisenhower, after making his tour, had this to say in his report to Congress:I personally think that there has to be a political platform achieved, an understanding that will contemplate an eventual and an earned equality on the part of that nation before we should start to talk about including units of Germans in any kind of army.As the "Manchester Guardian" says in its leading article today:When Western Germany is fit to recover full sovereignty, when the Germans show themselves ready to become peaceful and friendly neighbours, then it will be time to think about arms.The truth of the matter is that this discussion about Western German rearmament is entirely premature. I hope that the result of this debate will at the very least induce the Government to go slow and encourage our Allies to go slow on this question for a long time to come.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Captain Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), in his general approach to this question. He has said that practically anything we do now is premature, and he has advised that we should go on exploring the position. Yet he started by saying that we are in a position of supreme peril, and it is from that point that I wish to start my speech.
I want to deal with the subject from a rather different angle. I start from the point that in my view the Kremlin does not want peace. The Kremlin wants Communism, and it does not care very much how it gets it—peace or war is absolutely the same to them. We are deluding ourselves if we think we can persuade Communist Russia to a peaceful solution. There is no room in the world for militant, aggressive Communism, such as we see today, and the civilised way of life we believe to be ours.
If that is so, we have to set our minds on finding a cure for Communism. What can we do to cure Communism? Can we find any means to prevent Communism from spreading? Can we drive it back within its original bounds, or can we perhaps destroy it altogether? Unless we can do this, it is absolutely certain that we shall have a war such as the world has never known before. During the last debate on this subject, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) had something to say which, unfortunately, he did not elaborate and which was not taken up. It is something of great value. He said:My conception is that a body on the lines of what, in the last war, was the Combined Chiefs of Staff, presided over by the supreme executive authority, namely, Prime Ministers and Presidents, should be charged with the task …"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1210.]My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) also had the same thought in his mind when he gave the impression at the end of his speech that something ought to be done outside the preparation of armaments to tackle Communism.
What is possible? Can we really do anything? Can we get anywhere in such a contest? I believe that we can do something in the matter. At any rate, I am certain that it is worth trying. I do 98 not myself fancy the idea of a joint staff presided over by Presidents and Prime Ministers. Perhaps we might have an overruling committee of that sort. I believe that the men to do this job must be a comparatively small group of people, people who are able, tough, ordinary individuals, people who know about propaganda, and are backed by limitless funds. After all, the Western nations are contemplating spending £5,000 million to £10,000 million a year in building up armaments. Surely it would be worth our while to spend £1,000 million a year to prevent the war against which we are arming.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington was not sure that everything was too happy behind the Iron Curtain. I am inclined to agree with him. I do not think the Balkans have ever been happy. I think that Poland and Czechoslovakia have always been countries where trouble could be raised. I think that if we got the right men going into Communist China with enough money behind them, it would not be many months before we saw some effects. I believe that something might come of it if this line were pursued with determination and from many angles. I do not mean the type we have in the British Council, the gentlemen with long hair and the ladies with short trousers. A different type of person is wanted.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, North)
Is the right hon. and gallant Member aware that what he has said about members of the British Council is not only quite unfounded but scurrilous?
§ Captain Waterhouse
I am aware that it is not unfounded. I am not speaking of all members of the British Council, many of whom do a fine job of work. But I know that there are some of this sort and that some have actually gone over to the enemy from their posts, which is something that should be pursued at a proper time, although I do not want to do so at this moment.
If we are in earnest, and if my right hon. Friend believes that this is a line which should be pursued, then we should pursue it with a vigour which has not yet been displayed. I do not propose to maintain quite the placatory spirit which has so far been shown in the debate towards right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I 99 am not really certain that the Prime Minister and his friends are in earnest in their fight against Communism. It is true that the Prime Minister and the Lord President of the Council have from time to time made some strong and inspiring speeches against Communism, but very often their actions seem to belie their words.
We may be watching the liberty of the world being destroyed in the name of freedom. It seems to me that in the Far East, far from uniting the world against Communism, we are in danger of dividing it. I think that the Government were wrong in recognising Communist China with such precipitancy. Suppose the revolution had been the other way round. Suppose it had not been a Communist war-lord who had conquered China but a Fascist war-lord. Do hon. Members opposite think that the Prime Minister would then have hurried to acknowledge him?
§ Mr. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
The right hon. and gallant Member spoke about His Majesty's Government dividing the world. Does he not agree that if it had not been for the action of His Majesty's Government in giving India self-government, India might have been Communist today?
§ Captain Waterhouse
We are not talking about ancient history at the moment. I am talking about matters which have happened in the last few weeks and months. I am saying that the Government were wrong in acknowledging Communist China so precipitately and that in so doing they acted against the will of the United States and I believe against the will of Australia and New Zealand. I give the Government great credit for two things—the airlift to Berlin and their prompt readiness to stand beside the United States against aggression in Korea. I can find few other things for which I can give them any credit at all.
Today they are actually backing China, as I understand it, for a seat on the United Nations and even on the Security Council. I am not quite sure about the attitude of His Majesty's Government on this point. In the last debate, the Minister, challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), who asked: 100Is it the view of the Government that now, despite everything, China should be admitted at this moment? I want to know where we are?repliedCertainly,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1365.]Naturally, the then Minister of Health chipped in and said, that it always had been their view and that it had not changed. On the other hand, the Prime Minister was invited to make a statement on it, and he did not. So far as we know, the authoritative view still stands, which was that they do, at this moment, intend to support China both for the United Nations and even for the Security Council. That is what he said about China, which has overrun Tibet, is aiding revolution in Indo-China, and is aiding banditry and revolution in Malaya. I do not believe that that is an attitude which will unite the world against Communism. Can people be asked to go out and fight people be asked to go out and fight against the soldiers of a nation when that nation is being invited by His Majesty's Government to come into the inner counsels of the world judicial system? It is rather like the Lord Chancellor inviting a man who has recently been convicted of assault to become a judge.
Let us turn to Formosa. On what is the Government's attitude based? I believe it is based upon the decision of the Cairo Conference. It is worth looking at what happened at that conference, in November, 1943, when three great Allies expressed their resolve to bring unrelenting pressure upon their enemies by sea, land and air. They stated:The three great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish aggression by Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion.The three great Allies were this country, represented by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), America, represented by President Roosevelt, and China. The boot is entirely on the other foot today. It is no longer Japan which is the aggressor, but China, and yet His Majesty's Government persist that we should hand over to them the key position of Formosa. If ever there was an island, a place in the world, which ought to be held in trusteeship by some nation which everyone knew had no aggresive ideas at all, such as ourselves, the United States, or Australia, it is Formosa 101 On no account should we hand it over to China in her present condition.
I take the view, which is not held, I know, by many people, that it is worth while for a nation to speak clearly and plainly sometimes. If one says definitely what one's attitude is, one ends by getting less antipathy than if one goes on saying: "Let's have a conference on it," when we really do not intend to meet the request that is being put to us. I suggest that the various things I have pointed out are dividing the forces which should be united against the curse of Communism. Everybody deplores the illness of the Foreign Secretary. I am sure that if he had been a fit man during the past month or two our policy might have been less stupid. I am certain the true point of view of this country would have been better put over.
I was out of the country during the first three weeks of the year and I could not get any English newspapers. I had to rely upon the B.B.C. I assure hon. Members that if they had listened to those B.B.C. broadcasts, they would have thought that Pandit Nehru was speaking for England. The B.B.C. seem to give half, their time to the declarations of this in many ways excellent man, but whatever his excellences are, I do not think that he is the perfect choice to speak against aggression. The Labour Party have always stood for open diplomacy, but if this is open diplomacy it is time we went back to decent secrecy, for it means that we quarrel openly with our friends and openly support our foes. I do not think that is the way to conduct this nation's affairs.
I started, and I am going to close, on the theme of the danger of dividing the nations who are standing against Communism. Hon. Members will have read Mr. Hoover's speech which was broadcast last Friday. It struck a note of warning which we would be foolish to disregard. Anybody who has contacts with America knows that in many directions voices are rising in favour of the old Isolationist policy. Nothing could give a greater impetus to such a movement than the attitude of His Majesty's Government. Mr. Hoover gave ten points. The first I wish to quote was that he wanted to emphasise air and naval support as against army support. The second was that he envisaged a second line of defence for America, defence by the 102 oceans, and that we are on the wrong side of that line. The third point was:Watchful waiting for more evidence of Europe's developing its military strength and unity, before committing more troops to the Continent of Europe.That is a most serious declaration, and one that is indicative of the present trend in America. Can it be wondered that they take that line? The Government, as we saw in the last debate, sold jet fighters to Russia, allowed our atomic secrets to be sold by our nationals to Russia, and during recent months they have put much more energy into the Festival of Britain than they have put into the defence of this nation. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh at that, but there are visible signs that something is being done for the Festival of Britain, but as far as one can find out, there has been very, very little done for rearmament.
The Government are kept in power—and here is something about which I am sure the Americans think—by a very narrow majority. Among their supporters is a group of hon. Members, who are at least as sympathetic to many of the ideas expressed by the Communists as they are to many of the ideas expressed against Communism. Can that give any confidence to anybody? I am perfectly certain that if those hon. Members had the courage of their convictions, they would vote against the Government when the time comes towards the end of the week.
§ Captain Waterhouse
No. Worst of all, there are as the chief Ministers in defence, three men who cannot inspire confidence either on their administrative ability or their will to defeat Communism. There is the Secretary of State for War, the Minister of Defence—
§ Captain Waterhouse
—and the Minister of Labour. I have a perfect right to attack Ministers on their political records, and I shall continue to do so. That is 103 what this House is for. I suggest that these are men who have failed in their administration, who have insulted their fellow-countrymen, and who have shown in many cases a marked leaning towards the evil which we are out to tackle.
§ Captain Waterhouse
Disraeli once said of a Government Front Bench that they reminded him of a row of extinct volcanoes. We cannot pay this Government any such compliment. The best that I can call them is a string of wet Chinese crackers. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the country is tired of them, the world despises them, and it is high time that they went.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mrs. Corbet (Camberwell, Peckham)
I was disappointed with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) to whom I was listening with the greatest attention, and for whose remarks I have a very great deal of sympathy, but I thought that he spoiled a very thoughtful speech by personal references to actions of members of His Majesty's Government, which I consider were quite uncalled for. The Opposition are always asking for unity in the country, and they are justified in doing so on this particular issue. But if hon. Members opposite go out of their way to make personal attacks upon Members of the Government about matters which are minor and were committed—if they were mistakes at all—before the present policy was called for, it appears to me to be the wrong road to unity. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman spoiled an otherwise interesting speech, which I think was a pity.
I was interested to hear him talk about Formosa. I have never considered myself an expert on foreign affairs, and this is the first time that I have ventured to address the House on that subject. For many years, however, I followed the fortunes of the League of Nations even to its demise, and then I looked for its resuscitation in a stronger and more efficient body. I am hoping that we have found it in the United Nations, because of one factor—the great contribution that the United States of America is prepared to play in 104 the United Nations and was not prepared to play in the old League of Nations. I draw a certain amount of comfort from the fact that America is in the United Nations, and is prepared to put all her spiritual and material resources at the disposal of the United Nations in a great world-wide effort to secure peace.
I sometimes wonder just how it will be possible to secure this peace. What are the bases which the United Nations will need to make sure that never at any time will an aggressive nation be able to break out from its confines and seize an adjacent neighbour? Naturally, I have looked at Formosa in that connection, and that is why I was interested in what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had to say. I would not be prepared, without a great deal of thought, to concede to the Chinese Republic as she is today, that island which, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, may well be a most precious base.
I have listened this afternoon with general approval to both the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Learning-ton (Mr. Eden). The Prime Minister, it will be remembered, said that the Government's policy is based on United Nations' principles, and he added that it was no good accepting principles and then running away from them. I should like to add to that, "especially when the aggressors happen to be great Powers," The Government's policy, in my view, clearly conforms to the principles and requirements of the United Nations, always taking into consideration the fact that the Government have been desirous of preserving peace.
I am sorry that that fact is not clearly understood by the people of this country, not only because of what is said by hon. Members opposite, but because of some of my hon. Friends. I think the Motions on the Order Paper are calculated to confuse the people even more. It is even more unfortunate because on Wednesday and Thursday we are to debate what are our defence requirements, and what we shall ask of the citizens of Great Britain. Are we not to ask them to sacrifice their comforts and their amenities for some years to come? Are we not to ask our young men and young women to go forth from their homes to enter upon periods of service, even overseas? Are we not to face up to the possibility ultimately 105 of some kind of warfare? I hope that that will not materialise.
One of the things with which I most vehemently disagreed was the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's statement that unless we could drive Russia back to within some confines or get rid of Communism altogether, there was bound to be a big world war. "Big" would not be the word for it. It would be a world war like that described this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington, when he said that it would be a question of what few would survive. I do not take that view. I believe that the sacrifices for which we shall call from our people during the next two years, for which America will call from her people and which the Western European nations will be called upon to make, will eventually achieve our aim, which is the creation of such a source of might in the hands of the peace-loving nations of the world that any aggressor will be restrained. It is with this aim in view that His Majesty's Government are pursuing their policy of defence. Our citizens are entitled to feel that the Government are following the line of policy which will ultimately secure them from the dangers of another world war. We ought all to say that, and to say it very determinedly.
I rose not to say those things, but because I am interested in the question of a German contribution to the defence force. We ought to be very careful what we call this. The proposition is a German contribution to the defence force. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington talked about our making a fair appraisal of the practicabilities. He took the view—and so do I—that when we are in desperate need of help we must strengthen ourselves as quickly as possible and look in every possible direction for that strength.
I also believe that the British public will take the very obvious view that if the German does not defend his own Fatherland, we shall have to defend it for him—and that will mean that our boys will be almost permanently stationed away from their homes. It also means that those boys will be stationed in Germany, facing the first risk of any war which may break out. Even though we could contain that war, it would be our boys who would be in the front line. I do not believe that our people would stand that for long.
106 My hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) spoke about our not needing the help of the Germans and, going back into history, told how 17 million Britishers stood against the French. It is a long time since I read history, but my memory of it is that we had a British Navy and that it was the British Navy and not the British Army which fought for many years until our Allies joined us. This is a different matter. It is one of sheer manpower. It is all very well to say that we do not know the numbers we shall be facing; we do know the potential numbers in Russia and her satellites. We also know the numbers on our side on which we can count, and we cannot afford to neglect the 40,000,000 Western Germans.
I was a little sorry that certain elements in Germany took exception to the proposal at first, but I am not surprised at it because it is rather a privilege for a nation to be allowed to disarm and to have someone else to fight for it. I said after the war that the two luckiest nations would be Italy and Germany, because they had not to find money and men for armed forces. We can understand that Germany would resent having to give up that privilege and to put her men into the fighting forces again. However, Herr Adenauer has now said that it is a reasonable proposition, and that he is prepared to look at it on certain terms.
I do not know what those terms will be. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), made great play about a future Luftwaffe and a future Gestapo, and I did not know the answer to it, but I am confident that His Majesty's Government, the United States, the United Nations and His Majesty's Opposition will see that there is no opportunity for a resurgence of the Germany we knew in the past. We are all anxious to see that Germany makes a fair and proper contribution to the defence Force provided by the peace-loving nations.
Something has also been said about neutralising Germany. It is very nice to be neutral and to know that one will be protected and that there will be no trouble, but when one is neutral one can never be sure of that. Belgium, Holland and Finland have all had their neutrality violated. With totalitarian States around one, one can never be sure that one's 107 neutrality will be respected. I am certain—Herr Adenauer is also certain—that the neutrality of a disarmed Germany would not long remain.
Some of my hon. Friends say that giving Germany an opportunity to contribute to the defence force will provoke Russia. Have we always to refrain from taking action that may provoke? Ought there not to be some "give and take"? When I recall the years since the war, which have dashed our hopes of peace and understanding with Russia, and think of the provocation offered to us, I wonder that anyone dare suggest that we provoke Russia until she gives us notice that we may do so. There have been bluffers and tyrants before. What Russia really fears is that we shall keep our word and that her bargaining powers will be lessened.
I do not want to put weapons into the hands of the Germans unless it is absolutely essential. If General Eisenhower advises that it is not essential, I shall be only too happy to agree that we should not do so. If the Paris Conference agrees that it is not necessary, I shall not be one of those who will demand that weapons shall be put into the hands of the Germans. If they are agreed, however, that this help is necessary for us, and that it can be achieved with safeguards, I shall be entirely behind the Government in the matter.
What are the prospects for the future? As I have said, I do not know a great deal about foreign affairs. But I was an alternate delegate to the United Nations once and I saw quite enough of Russia and her satellites then to understand how they proceed. I am not a military person and I am not a financier. I am just an ordinary woman in the home or in the House. As I look at it, if this neutralisation took place there would be a gradual infiltration into Germany and, after that, into the rest of Europe as and when circumstances permitted, perhaps on the line of Czechoslovakia, perhaps on other lines. Certainly we could bank upon that happening.
Then what? Can we resist absorption? With all the resources of the European continent in the grasp of Russia, should we expect America, on her own, to battle to free us from what we have been afraid to defend ourselves from? Besides, the price of liberation might in the future be 108 too great. It was fairly heavy in France and other countries. It was very heavy in Korea. What might not be the price of the liberation of Europe in years to come, in view of the devilish weapons that we know are being invented? I am anxious that we shall prevent a situation whereby Europe will have to be liberated. I am anxious that we shall get such help as will enable us to stave off the menace of the next two or three years. If, by German agreement and co-operation, we can get that help. I shall be only too glad to have it.
I take it that we may hope for some lightening of our burden in the not too distant future. I ask His Majesty's Government to give some assurance to our people, if it is possible, that in a few years this may be possible. I read yesterday that within 18 months America, for the first time in her history, will have greater power than all the rest of the world put together, Russia included. How far that is true I do not know, but if it is true, there does seem to dawn upon the horizon something more hopeful for us. If such should be the accumulated strength of the United States it seems to promise some assurance that we shall be able to keep the peace and deliver this world not only from the burden of the prospect of war, but also from the burden of too much armament.
I always thought that when we organised a system of collective security we should thereby be able to diminish the burden. Obviously, when each nation is seeking to defend itself to the hilt, it is a very expensive matter, but if we pool all our resources it seems reasonable to hope that, at some time, we shall have conquered this menace by our collective strength, and that it will be possible to lighten the burden until it is more suited to what our shoulders can really bear.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
I should like to congratulate the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) on her robust, courageous and sensible speech with which I am sure a great many hon. Members on both sides of the House agreed. The hon. Lady described herself, I think unjustly, as an ordinary, common woman. Her speech showed a great deal more than that. I should say she was typically representative of the commonsense women of this country 109 and that she represented adequately their point of view.
I have always thought it was necessary to make peace with Germany before we re-armed her. Only last week we were dismantling and blowing up her factories. It is important that we should receive Germany back into the community of nations before starting to talk about how many divisions she can supply for a European army. We ought to have done it long ago, but it is reaching a stage of fantasy when we try to re-arm an official enemy.
I want to deal with Anglo-American co-operation. It is not going well at the moment and I believe it to be more important than anything, because upon it our survival absolutely depends. We are often apt to forget, when we criticise the United States of America, that there is a strong element of genuine idealism in that country; a real puritanical idealism bequeathed to the Founding Fathers by us. It prevails today and governs much of their policy. We see it wherever we go, especially in the deep Middle West and in the country places. Not in New York particularly, but in the great spaces of the United States they are informed by a deep idealism and they have embraced the doctrine of collective security, after rejecting it for many years. And it is important to remember that we have sold it to them. It is a fine ideal but, as applied through the United Nations and the League of Nations, it does not work.
The trouble about collective security, as we try to enforce it through loose organisations of totally independent sovereign States, is that it has never yet stopped an aggressor, and it has never failed to lead to quarrels in the end between those who are trying to apply it. The reason is that, as it is now attempted, it imposes a theory upon the facts and is, in practice, neither collective nor does it bring security. In my belief, we must face the fact that we cannot rally 50 separate sovereign States of all sorts and kinds and sizes to a collective war to enforce universal peace, for the simple reason that the remedy itself is the disease and the policeman is asked to suffer just as much as the law-breaker. And they are not going to do it. They did not do it over Abyssinia and they have shown 110 considerable reluctance to do it, by and large, over Korea.
Nor can we fight limited wars, which is what sanctions imply. If we indulge once again in this fearful nonsense in the Far East, we shall find that Russia and China will decide how far the war is limited, to suit their convenience, just as Mussolini decided how far the Abyssinia sanctions were to lead to war to suit his convenience. Many Americans realise this. I read an article by Walter Lippmann a month ago. He is regarded as an oracle in the United States and he wrote:What happened in the Korean affair was that the President and his Secretary of State, intending to make a limited action in support of a general principle, lost control of the situation and were sucked into a big war that they did not know how to manage and do not know how to conclude.There could hardly be a stronger criticism than that. I quote it not because I agree with it completely—it is too harsh—but because that is the kind of thing they are saying in the United States. What I am afraid of is that should this experiment in collective security break down completely and end in failure, it may lead to a wave of disillusionment throughout the United States which will bring about another upsurge of isolationism which, in my view, would be an absolute catastrophe.
I believe that collective security can be achieved at this juncture in this modern world, but only by the method of armed alliance, and in no other way. I do not say that the United Nations organisation does not have a most important part to play in the field of diplomacy, but I think that the enforcement of collective security over the democratic part of the world depends on a firm alliance. History teaches us that what Burke called "the armed doctrine" is implicit in any revolution which is in the dynamic stage.
There is only one answer to that. The policy of re-armament to which we are now committed, is, in my judgment, absolutely right, but it depends for its success upon the deterrent effect of retaliatory power, as the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham pointed out. I believe that the deterrent effect may become overwhelming in the course of the next two or three years, but there is real need for speed if this policy is worth anything at all. It is essential that our power should not be dissipated aimlessly 111 all over the world, but should be concentrated at vital points in vital areas. We have in fact reached the stage when the coldest strategic consideration should govern our military policy.
In the last war the Allied High Command met the acid test of any human organisation in that it worked. It was a three-decker structure, and it was very well described by Alan Moorehead in his biography of Field Marshal Montgomery, as follows:On the first stage sat Roosevelt and Marshall in Washington and Churchill and Alan Brooke in London. Theirs was the world to play with … On the next stage sat Eisenhower and Alexander at their combined Anglo-American H.Q., and theirs was the responsibility of carrying out the strategy in Europe. Upon the third stage were the operational generals like Patton and Montgomery, whose duty was to fight the actual battles.We have nothing approaching that military organisation at present. In some ways it is really more important than the stuff. Behind that High Command were the joint Food, Shipping, Production and Purchasing Boards. We have not got one of them today. The result of that structure was that the underlying strength of the democratic world could be applied at a given point with overwhelming strength. That is why we won the last world war, and that is why, if we could do it, we may prevent the next world war.
I want to ask the Government an important question, and I hope that the Minister of State will reply to it. Is this on the whole, a joint re-armament policy, or is it a purely national re-armament policy? Some tentative, and so far pretty unsuccessful, steps have been taken to allocate raw materials on an international basis. Nothing effective at all has been done to co-ordinate war production on an international basis, but that is absolutely vital if we are to achieve in time the rearmament that we want. I ask for some assurance from the hon. Gentleman that this is not merely an un-co-ordinated national re-armament policy, nation by nation, but that it is a joint re-armament policy.
Four years ago, I wrote:The objective of any realistic democratic foreign policy based on an alignment of power must be to achieve a combination or combinations of democratic sovereign States, held together by a realisation of their common principles and interests, which can be depended upon, if challenged, to act together.112 We have not got that combination yet. We do not have a combination yet that can be absolutely depended upon, if challenged, to act together. We have it potentially in the Atlantic Union, of which the core is necessarily the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. We must realise that in any vague association between greater and lesser Powers, without any machinery for organic combination, it is the greater Powers that in an emergency will make the decisions; and it really is time that the Government and the House realised that we can retain a far greater control over our own destinies, for which so many people have so often pressed, if we can advance our views and claims in a council which finally decides policy, than we can by keeping up the pretence of total national independence and sovereignty.
This involves a common foreign policy which can be achieved only by the method of continuous organic consultation, for which at present no machinery exists. We must face the truth that the United States alone can give vitality and strength to any combination of democratic nations. That has already been demonstrated in Korea, but it was also implicit in the dilemma which confronted the Dominions and the United States themselves in 1914, 1917 and 1939, when they all had to decide at different stages, and sometimes in a hurry, whether or not they would be belligerent or neutral in wars resulting from policies which none of them had played any direct part in framing. We cannot remain as politically independent of one another as we are at present. Sometimes in a speech we hear a plea for greater co-ordination and towards the end of that same speech there comes a plea that we should act on our own, that we should bring all our influence to bear, and that we should take our own line and pursue an independent policy. We can only do that within a much more effective organisation than exists at present. The Prime Minister said, and said rightly, that Soviet Russia, China and the satellite States of the Communist Empire have a common foreign policy and that they pursue it. There is no doubt about that. The Cominform is an example of it. Have the Western democracies a common foreign policy? They have not, and the 113 hon. Gentleman who is to reply to the debate knows this.
I have only to list the problems which have been raised so often today. Take Germany. Have we a common policy for Germany? No. Then Japan, China, Yugoslavia—about which latter my right hon. Friend said some very pregnant things this afternoon and which is, perhaps, the most urgent and immediate threat at present. We should have not only a common policy with regard to Yugoslavia, but a common joint declaration with regard to it, because this country has more than once in its history stumbled into war by refusing to say what it was going to do and then suddenly doing something pretty violently when the other side thought it would not do anything at all. Twice we have got into war that way. We do not want to get into war that way a third time.
We have not really got a common foreign policy yet. We have committees—they are all very well up to a point—and at last we have a commander-in-chief in Europe. But that is not enough, and I submit that we require now, not only a combined staff organisation, but a supreme council of the Western democracies to direct the political policy, the military strategy and the economic coordination of Western Union as a whole throughout the world.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I am afraid that I cannot follow the Prime Minister down the road which he has paved with his good intentions, because I know where that road leads us. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby) has put his hand, as he very often does, on some of the vital points of foreign policy. In all that he said about the precious slogan of collective security, I am inclined to agree. These are times when we need to examine very carefully some of these deceptive phrases. There is no more collective security in our present policy than there was National Socialism in Hitler's political creed.
I certainly think that the Government are making a great mistake in going forward with this policy of the re-armament of Germany, especially at a time when, as the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East, truthfully said in the last debate, 114 Germany has become pacifist. Here we have the ironic situation of the Government of this country giving tentative support to making a pacifist nation undertake the great burden of re-armament. I do not know how we can possibly re-arm a nation in the face of the very strong and deep opposition that comes from the German people themselves.
Recently I spent a day roaming about the ruins of Eastern Berlin with a German student, who had been a leader in the Hitler Youth Movement. What impressed me was the reaction of that young student to the whole panoply of modern war. He said he was never going to be deluded into going into the army again, and I believe that is the opinion of a very great number of German people.
§ Mr. Thurtle (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is no intention of trying to coerce any Germans to fight in the defence of Western Europe? It has to be voluntary and, if the Germans are not willing to fight, as he suggests, he need not worry as there will be no question of re-armament at all.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am very much obliged for the interpolation of my hon. Friend. What I say is that if we have only a voluntary army in Germany we shall have no army at all. Further, if we rely on a voluntary army in this country, or in France, we would not get the contribution which General Eisenhower is asking for his Western Union Defence.
I believe this blueprint of the creation of a Western Defence Force on the lines suggested is a complete delusion and not worth the flimsy paper on which the blueprint is written. We talk about our rearming; cannot other people do the same? What is going to be the reaction in Russia, in Hungary, in Rumania, or in Yugoslavia? They will call up their Z men and pile up their armaments; they will organise their re-armament and the result, in another year or two years will be that we shall be faced with the same position, except that the arms race will have been intensified.
I do not for one moment accept the point of view that the Russians are blameless for this policy. I agree that one of the great contributions the Russians could make to world peace would be to take the great majority of their divisions home. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why do 115 they not?"] One reason they do not do it is because they are afraid of the West. After all, they have been invaded by the West twice in our generation. The last time they were invaded from the West was when Hitler and his German military machine got very near Leningrad, very near Moscow and right down to Stalingrad. As far as I can understand the Russian point of view—and after all it is necessary to try to understand the point of view of a potential enemy—it is dictated by fear of the re-emergence of Germany and by the possibility of attack from the West such as they have had before.
I believe that if we go forward with this re-armament programme all we shall achieve is a speeding up of the so-called defence programme on the other side. In a year or two years all we shall have achieved is a lower standard of life for the people in this country, and a lower standard of life for everyone; and by creating a lower standard of life we shall create the very conditions which will result in Communism here.
One of the contributions made by the spokesman for the Opposition in opening the debate this afternoon was an elaboration of the theory of the re-armament of Germany. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) is prepared not only for the re-organisation of the German Army, but for the reorganisation of a German Air Force as well. I wonder what sort of security that is likely to bring to the people of this country. Suppose there were a sudden change in the situation in Germany and Germany should go Communist?
I do not believe we shall get any extra security at all as a result of the enormous burden we are to put on the shoulders of the British people. It is the old story of the armaments race all over again. It has twice resulted in world war in our generation and I believe that if we do not put the brake on now, and if we do not have a new creative foreign policy in place of the policy that is now being offered us, we are going to inevitable destruction.
I believe it was the Prime Minister who spoke of the vacuum in Europe. He is quite right, there is a vacuum in Europe and the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire again put his finger on the point 116 when he said we have helped to create this vacuum by dismantling the industrial plant of Germany. I remember coming back from Germany a year ago after having had conversations with the German trade union leaders. I spoke for days with the people who live in the Ruhr. I remember bringing back a memorandum which the trade union leaders in Dusseldorf compiled for me in which they put a very strong case against the dismantling of some of the industrial plants of the Ruhr.
Now presumably, we are going to rearm Germany and try to put those same plants into production again. I appealed to the Foreign Secretary at that time that our policy should be to have for Germany a policy of re-organising the heavy industry of Germany and the wonderful technique and industrial experience of the Germans as part and parcel of a plan for Europe and for the world in which the industrial and technical resources of Germany could be used, not for armaments, but for building up what has been destroyed.
I remember putting forward the proposal, for example, that the iron and steel plants of the Ruhr should be used for manufacturing steel for bridges and steel houses. That was contemptuously brushed aside. I submit that the vacuum is still there and that we have not devoted our attention to the rebuilding of the economic structure of industry in which German energy could be used in a European plan which would be for the benefit of nations East and West of the Iron Curtain. I have no delusion at all that if we allow re-armament of Germany to go a certain step we are going to be able to stop at so many divisions. We shall get the whole paraphernalia of German militarism restored, if the German people allow it, and that does not only mean the Luftwaffe but the Gestapo and the restoration of the power of German capitalism.
All I can see is that we are going to be engaged, in the first process of the re-armament programme, in opposing the will of the German Socialists. I am sure that the German Socialist movement is absolutely dismayed at the kind of prospect that is now being offered to us. I remember going round schools in Berlin and talking to people who were looking over the German text books. For five years we have been re-educating the 117 German people against militarism. I suppose that we are now to de-educate the people whom we have re-educated. The immediate result will be despair in the ranks in the Socialists of Germany, the Socialists whom we should be supporting.
I do not see General Eisenhower's plans for France working out. I do not believe that the people of France will stand the economic strain which will be imposed upon them by this re-armament programme. In this country I foresee that in the next two years the standard of life of the people will be steadily lowered by increased taxation and by the burdens that will be imposed. The Prime Minister has told us that we must sacrifice. I believe that if one wished to summarise the re-armament programme one could so in this phrase, "Eat less for more strength." We shall have trouble in our coalmining industry and in every industry of this country because our workmen simply cannot be expected to keep on tightening their belts and submitting to the sacrifices which the Prime Minister is asking us to impose.
So I completely oppose this programme of re-armament, believing that it is not a policy which Socialists should adopt. I believe it to be a policy which will not lead to world peace, and I believe that in my attitude and in saying this I am expressing the point of view of a very large number of people in this country. I warn the Government that they are going on the wrong road and that, if they do not turn back from that road, the time will come when they will be leading the Socialist movement and this country to inevitable destruction.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. J. N. Browne (Glasgow, Govan)
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), has expressed a view which was also expressed by the hon. Members for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), and Islington. East (Mr. E. Fletcher), when he voiced concern about the re-armament of Germany. The hon. Member also said that the blueprint for Western European defence is a farce which is not worth the paper it is written on. That pacifist point of view is one which I know is widely held. I hope that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire will do me the honour of listening to perhaps a wider 118 view point than has so far been expressed today.
I wish to stand back and look at the present policies of Britain and the United States for a moment in the perspective of history, and to draw one or two conclusions from that. First, I am not pessimistic. All history is witness to one profound truth—that civilisation and Empires such as we have, exist only when they are threatened, they exist only when conditions are hard, and when they want to maintain their own tradition and their own power. They decline and fall—and this is the judgment of history—only when external pressure is withdrawn from them or when the spirit within decays.
So we can arrive at one conclusion, one summing up, namely, that if men and nations do not find life worth living, if they do not find what they have worth possessing, then without doubt nature will replace them by others who do. We in this country and in the Western world are threatened. We find life worth living, we find what we have worth possessing, and in the perspective of history the action of the Western world is the only correct action to keep our pride and our civilisation intact. We must co-ordinate action for our survival and for peace in our time. Earlier in this debate the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), said that to preserve peace we must not prepare for war. I believe that to preserve peace we must be prepared for war.
I should like to look for a moment, again in the perspective of history, at the strategy of defence which we are now employing. Throughout the whole course of history there has been a trend of population towards the West. The history of the world is full of examples of the movement of nations towards the West. This is a trend which should neither be ignored nor given too much weight. The Aryan peoples in 2,000 B.C., the Arabs, the Huns, the Chinese imperialists, the Danes and North men, the colonisation of the Americas, the move of the focus of interest from New York to California, all these were moves towards the West. If hon. Members on both sides of the House consider their own towns, it is quite likely they will find that the west end there is the best end.
119 Moves east are far less frequent, and have, on the whole, been far less successful. The wars of Alexander the Great, the two attempts by Hitler and Napoleon to conquer Russia—those moves east have not been successful. What is the conclusion to be drawn, if there is, in fact—it may be connected with the rotation of the earth—a move of peoples to the West? Is not the continued pressure of Germany on France natural and expected? And is not the continual pressure of Russia upon Europe also natural and to be expected? Is not the interest of this country in the Australasian continent to be expected? Is not the growing concern of America with the Pacific a natural tendency?
How do these two broad principles affect British and American policy? I believe that we should not in any way deviate from the policy we consider right because we are afraid that America may turn to isolationism. The only strategy of survival of the Western people is quite clear. In the Far East, whatever the solution in Korea may be, Formosa is not only a stepping stone to the Far East, it is also a stepping stone to the Philippines and to Australasia. If Indo-China falls—fortunately the danger there has been lessened in recent weeks—Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Indonesia, all these become easy conquests. That affects Ceylon, and with Ceylon affected, India, which is also threatened from the north-west, becomes an easy conquest. Then one comes to Afganistan, Arabia, Iran and the oilfields, oilfields which are already threatened from the north.
If the East is lost, there will be lost 42 per cent. of the world's oil reserves, nearly all the world's natural rubber and two-thirds of the world's tin. In the West, the loss of Western Europe would mean, to the United States, an irreparable loss of raw materials and manufacturing capacity. Whatever the Americans may feel about isolationism, I believe that it can never be the policy of America, because it would throw the balance of productive capacity against the Americas. Therefore, I do not agree with the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby).
So strategy in the Far East becomes quite clear. Neither Europe nor America 120 can afford to withdraw any further. In the Near East, about which not enough has been said today, there is a continuing threat from over the Caucasian Mountains and from the east of the Caspian Sea. In Western Europe, if one reflects on the movement to the West, there must be a permanent defence. Where that line is to be drawn I could not say, but the conception of the Maginot Line is the right one; it is the only possible conception, and it must be a permanent defence.
Where does Britain come in in all this grand background of history? I can see four policies. First, a third influence may well be a decisive factor in the maintenance of world peace, and only the British traditions and the British Commonwealth and Empire can provide such a world influence. There is a school of thought which says we must not offend Russia. There is another school of thought which says we must not offend America. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) raised a point with which I agree; what about a school of thought that says we must not offend Great Britain?
The loyalty and prosperity of Britain and the British Empire is the one factor which may be the decisive factor in the peace of the world. As a broad policy for Britain we should try to do everything we can to strengthen the sound links in this chain of justice, loyalty, freedom and greatness such as the world has never seen before. This is a first policy for Britain, to strengthen the Empire and our Commonwealth of Nations and become a third world force for restoring the balance and maintaining peace. And there should be an added accent on migration from this over-populated country.
The second point is, that in view of the world trend, and against the background of history, we should support all measures of co-operation for our mutual safeguard. But we must realise the strategic weakness and strength of this little island. It would be wrong not to appreciate that if there is another world war we may find ourselves in the same position as Malta in the last war. We should pursue a long-term policy of being able to defend and protect ourselves with our own resources. With the threat of atomic weapons, the Government should pursue a long-term policy of underground protection—[Interruption.] Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may not agree with me but 121 I believe that if our great cities, especially London which is built on the mud, were blown to pieces by atom bombs, we should have only ourselves to blame—[Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but we have to look to what our children may think.
§ Mr. Browne
The most immediate danger is the danger of Communism here at home. To my mind it is open to question whether the injection of Communism into the body of a nation is a wise policy from the Russian point of view. It is true that the nation may sicken; the whole body may become infected and the nation may die. It is equally true that a nation may have an injection and the injection become an inoculation. In the end the disease can be overcome and the nation left either with an increased resistance to or permanent immunity from the germ. I believe that everybody in this country, every man and woman has the right—
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
Is the hon. Member appealing for the extermination of the Conservative Party, because surely everyone knows that the virus that produces Communism is Toryism.
§ Mr. Browne
The hon. Member may have his point of view which no doubt he will have an opportunity of expressing in a short while.
All men and women in this country, or most of them, have the opportunity of exercising their vote and getting rid of the Communists by throwing them out of the offices in which they have now obtained power. The great majority of people in this country look to the Government for a lead. They are entitled to do so, but we know the lead which the Government have given them. The Prime Minister and his Government, in appointing to the Steel Board and to permanent positions men who, whatever has happened in the passage of time, have been known Communists, have given an example which has set this country on the wrong road. I only hope that very soon we in the Conservative and Unionist Party, will have the opportunity of setting a better example.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Cocks (Broxtowe)
The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Browne) said he was not a pessimist. I am not a pessimist either, but I must confess that certain parts of his speech filled me with deep gloom. His philosophy, drawn from his historical researches, of a move westwards of most of the peoples, means that in future Western Europe will be occupied by Russians and Chinese; and we, pursuing this inevitable westward course, will eventually wind up in Hollywood. That does not fill me with any optimism.
Everyone in this House will regret that owing to the present state of the world it is necessary to place upon our people the burden of increased armaments. At the same time, I would make it clear that we in the Labour Party have never stood for unilateral disarmament. That has never been our policy. We have always tried for, and we believe in trying to bring about, an all-round reduction of armaments by mutual consent. If that effort fails we have always felt that our country should be adequately defended. We must defend the Welfare State from enemies without as well as from enemies within. So long as there is any potential enemy armed to the teeth we have also to arm to preserve the peace of the world. That is the object of the present re-armament policy of the Government, and it is the object of the massive re-armament policy of the United States of America, about which we have heard something this evening.
We have been told that as a result of the re-armament policy of America, the Atlantic Powers will be in a very strong defensive position indeed by the summer of 1952. Apart from the possibilities of atomic warfare and bacterial warfare, we shall be in an unassailable position by the summer of 1953, two-and-a-half years ahead. The dangerous period is between then and now. It is during that period, as well as, of course, afterwards, that we must make exceptional efforts to preserve the peace of Europe and prevent the war spreading in the Far East.
The invasion of South Korea was a challenge to the United Nations. And the United Nations were perfectly right to resist that act of aggression. It does not follow that U.N.O. should engage in a wider conflict at the present time which might lead to 123 a world war. The main object of the United Nations organisation, as I understand it, is to prevent war from spreading and to settle disputes by peaceful means. As a matter of fact, the machinery of U.N.O., unlike the machinery of the League of Nations, was from the start never intended to be used against the four great permanent Powers, the United States, Russia, Great Britain or China. That was the real reason for the veto. The veto had no other reason, except to prevent united action against one of the four permanent Powers.
§ Mr. Poole (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
I think that my hon. Friend meant to say "France" instead of "China." China is not one of the Powers and she has no power of veto.
§ Mr. Cocks
She has. If my hon. Friend looks at the Charter of the United Nations he will find that I am correct. Whatever the circumstances, I think it will be agreed that this country, should the situation arise, would always veto the use of United Nations forces against the United States of America. That is absolutely obvious. General MacArthur has been blamed for crossing the 38th Parallel but, as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said, the decision was taken by the Assembly of the United Nations. Britain voted for it, and we are as responsible as anybody else. We are all responsible except India, Yugoslavia and five other nations which abstained from voting and, of course, the Soviet bloc which opposed it altogether.
But the mistake lay in not stopping at the defensible position, the so-called waistline of Korea. China had warned India that any approach to her Manchurian frontier would cause her intervention. When General MacArthur first proposed the advance to the Yalu River, British military authorities advised against it. But according to the "New York Herald Tribune" the United States of America joint chiefs of staff committee were also extremely uneasy at this proposal. They sent a message to General MacArthur pointing out that to involve us in a large-scale intervention by China would be a catastrophe. They asked him 124 whether it would not be more prudent to consolidate on the narrow neck until the position became more clear.
General MacArthur replied to the American chiefs of staff committee that he intended to fulfil the directive given him by the United Nations. That was a rather loosely worded directive which said:That all proper steps be taken to ensure conditions of stability throughout Korea.They are very wide terms indeed. Then he asked the committee, rather jauntily I think, whether they wished to alter the directive given to him. That put the joint chiefs of staff in a quandary. Naturally they disliked to interfere with the discretion of a general on the spot, especially a popular Republican general.
General Omar Bradley, the chairman of the committee, himself told President Truman that he could not fight MacArthur's wars for him from Washington. Therefore, they decided not to overrule General MacArthur and disaster followed. That points to the necessity of some form of closer joint control. This disaster was a great shock to the Americans. The flower of their Army and a popular general had been defeated, with heavy casualties amounting to over 40,000. All through America there was a demand that China should be branded as an aggressor. I can understand the feelings of the American people perfectly well. We all can understand them. In similar circumstances the British people would feel much the same.
But, after all, passion is a bad guide, and in such a situation cool heads are required. I think, looking at the matter calmly from here, a long way from the zone of battle, that it was a mistake to brand China as an aggressor. When the Chinese saw an army, largely American in composition, and commanded by a General who is a friend of Chiang Kai-shek, approaching their own frontier, one can hardly blame them for engaging in the conflict. That area of North Korea is one of special military interest to them. It forms the defensive glacis of their frontier. The United States of America would never allow a United Nations army largely composed of Russians to enter Mexico and approach the frontier of Texas. Nor should we allow a similar army, if such circumstances could be imagined, to occupy either Eire or 125 Antwerp. We have always said that no great Power should ever occupy Antwerp and point a pistol at the heart of England.
At the beginning of this year communications were passing between the United Nations, India and China. The Chinese, whether for military or political reasons I do not know, were not advancing in Korea, and they have not advanced since. But by branding China as an aggressor we closed the door to negotiations. I hope that the door will be opened again, though I am not too confident that it will be. I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that we hope there will not be an advance beyond the parallel again, or at least beyond the fortifiable waist which is only 100 miles from east to west. If we hold that line in strength we shall be able to maintain our prestige in the East, and if we refuse to take part in sanctions we shall enable India, Canada and the Good Offices Committee, to maintain their efforts for peace.
At all costs we must refuse to take part in a large-scale war with China. That would merely be playing the Soviet game. After all, Korea is not a vital area in the world, although it is one where fighting is in progress. There are danger points in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaya and the Middle East. The most dangerous area of all is Europe. This is the vital area. It is here, not in Korea, that Western civilisation must face its future and its fate.
We have been given alarming figures about the military strength of the Soviet Union and its allies. We are told that the Soviet has an army of 175 divisions and that it can be doubled on mobilisation. We are told that it has 25,000 tanks and 19,000 aircraft. Although I do not suppose that more than half this army could be moved against Western Europe with any speed, it certainly constitutes a formidable force capable of action in various directions. It is certainly more than a match for the 12 divisions which is all the Atlantic Powers can place in the field in Europe at present.
It has been suggested in many places that attacks may be made on Yugoslavia this spring, not perhaps from the Soviet Union directly but from one or more of the satellites. I should like to support the appeal of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington that we should consult with the United States and other 126 powers in the Atlantic Treaty with a view to making a joint declaration that any attack on Yugoslavia would be resisted by us. A declaration of that sort, made in time, would prevent an attack or the likelihood of such an attack. I did not expect my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to answer at once the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, which I support.
There are many factors which may be restraining the Kremlin from making an act of definite aggression in the West. There is of course the pacific character of the Russian people. Apart from their rulers, they are a pacific race. The people in the Kremlin may fear that their economic and political structure may not stand the stress and strain of war. They may fear that in face of war their satellites may prove unreliable, and weaknesses may appear somewhere behind the Iron Curtain. Certainly, they must fear the effects of the atomic bomb, the very existence of which is keeping the peace from afar, to some extent, much in the same way as our storm-beaten ships kept us free from invasion in the days of Napoleon.
The Russians have another fear, and with good reason, because they have already had experience of it. There is fear deep in the hearts of the people of the Ukraine and of Russia of a German invasion. They fear the re-armament of Germany. This is not merely a theoretical feeling held by people in the Kremlin, but a feeling by people who know exactly what it means. On 18th October, a note was sent to us by Russia which, as it was translated, contained words to the effect that they would not tolerate the re-militarisation of Germany.
I do not know whether those words represent a good translation, but that is the translation which has been given—that the Russians would not tolerate the re-militarisation of Germany. Perhaps, someone may be able to tell us whether that phrase is an accurate translation of the Russian Note. In view of that declaration, in the present weak state of our defences and the imperative need to keep the peace for another one and a half or two years, it would be rash and perhaps dangerous to re-arm Germany openly now. Such an act would be comparable with that of General MacArthur in marching to the Yalu River after a similar warning had been given.
127 Both this country and America are now having second thoughts upon this matter. One gathers that from General Eisenhower's statement, which has already been quoted in the debate, and also from the statement by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, who said that German re-armament had become a secondary consideration. We also rather gather it from what the Prime Minister said about this being a matter of timing. Although the principle had been settled, the question of putting it into practice was a question of time and method, which had not yet been settled. It seems to me to be rather absurd to make a definite decision on the re-armament of Germany before the four-Power conference has been held and the whole question of the arming of Germany, both East and West, has been discussed.
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington said that we must not blow hot and cold on this matter. It is not a question of blowing hot and cold. If I might use a homely metaphor, it is rather like filling a kettle with cold water and placing it on a gas ring which we have not yet lighted. It is a question of timing. The kettle may not be brought to the boil until 1953, if then, and indeed I hope that we may be able to do without this rather doubtful help altogether, except perhaps in the ranks of an European Army, which appears to involve certain economic and political arrangements between Germany and France which have not yet been made. In any case, the position in 1953 may be very different from the position today.
In a final word, let me say again that, although Europe is the vital area, Korea is already alight. I support the Government in its determination to avoid a large scale war with China, because, if we are dragged into such a war, it is almost inevitable that it would mean the start of a third world war, in which millions of people of all races would perish in an atomic blaze. From such a future, may cool heads—such as that of the Prime Minister—and wise counsel yet preserve the world.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
The Prime Minister, in opening the debate, expressed the hope that there would be general agreement in the House with his policy. There has been a considerable 128 measure of agreement on this side of the House, but it is a little disappointing that, so far as I know, no one on the other side has in fact agreed with his policy. I had some hopes of the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) during the beginning of his speech, but I thought he ran out on the policy towards the end. The hon. Member seems to have some strange ideas on what goes on behind the scenes in America. He made a point of reading General MacArthur's private secrets.
§ Mr. Birch
The hon. Member may take that as gospel, and, of course, he may be right. Where I think he was a little unfair was when he said that the only reason the Americans have called the Chinese aggressors was because they had been beaten. Surely, the logical conclusion of what the hon. Member says is that if the Chinese are not aggressors, the Americans are, and it seems to me to be inconsistent with what he previously said about the action taken in the United Nations.
Then the hon. Member got down to Germany, to which I shall refer later, and he said that we must not re-arm Germany because the Russians have warned us not to do so. The Russians have warned us not to take any measures of defence. They warned us against creating Western Union and Marshall Aid, and they will naturally always warn us against taking any step which is likely to be effective in stopping their desires. If we accept that, it seems to me that the hon. Member had no right to say that we should undertake a war if they marched into Yugoslavia. We cannot do that and defend Europe unless Germany is armed. Next, he gave us his homely metaphor about lighting the gas. If we never light the gas, we shall never boil the kettle, but the hon. Member is not going to light his gas until 1954, by which time probably we shall not have any tea.
What I would like to comment on for a few moments is the growing gap which has been shown up by this debate, by speeches in the country and by certain Motions on the Order Paper, between the official policy of His Majesty's Government and what their supporters seem to stand for. Socialists who do not think with the Prime Minister, or work or speak with him, are still determined always to vote with him. I believe that the Prime 129 Minister's policy, in its broad lines and with one or two reservations which I shall make, is right; I mean the policy which was announced today and that announced in a shorter and clearer form in his speech at Forest Hill.
Briefly summarised, that policy is that Russia is a menace, and that she has only returned refreshed after her revolution to the grasping policy of the Czars, and now has an ideology aiming at world mastery based on force and violence. The Russians are a people of that book believing in the doctrines of Leninism, just as Hitler's people believed in "Mein Kampf." The Prime Minister said that Russia was backing the North Koreans, and that meanwhile the main Russian effort is directed towards disintegrating alliances formed against them, and that, in trying to disintegrate the forces against them, they use, as Communists have always used, the disintegrating force of nationalism. Nationalism, in Communist jargon, has been called "constructively revolutionary." They are using it now.
The right hon. Gentleman said that after the war we disarmed, and the Russians did not, and he also said that there was only one answer, and that that was the Atlantic Pact and the grand alliance on the side of right formed within the framework of the United Nations organisation, and that that grand alliance must be adequately armed for its task. In his Forest Hill speech he did not talk about Germany, but today, I thought, he put up a vigorous defence—a very vigorous defence—for the principle of German re-armament; but when it came down to doing something, it was rather difficult to know what he meant, and I had the nasty impression that he was dragging his feet.
The Prime Minister's words are never incandescent; they never sting or burn; but, if I may say so with respect, I thought that his general thesis was wise and that his logic was inescapable about what we had to do about it. That is a matter for rejoicing, I would ask my hon. Friends to remember—I would ask them to look at the past for a moment. We see now the faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite folded in sorrow. At the mere mention of the 'thirties we see a thin, wintry smile form on their faces, for that is their favourite period of history. Let us look for a moment at the 'thirties, because there 130 is an interesting parallel between this debate and what happened on 11th March, 1935. The Prime Minister and the hon. Member for Broxtowe will remember it very well because they both spoke in the debate.
That debate was based on a Censure Motion moved by the present Prime Minister against the National Government for issuing a White Paper on re-armament. Already at that time Hitler was re-arming on a great scale and had left the League of Nations. The National Government pointed out that we were largely disarmed and that without arms we certainly could not follow a policy of national defence, and that even any idea of a grand alliance, or "collective security" as it was more popularly called in those days, was out of the question. It could not be done unless we were armed. What did the Prime Minister say when he was censuring the National Government?
He started off—and this is really very reminiscent of what is going on now—by regretting that the White Paper had been issued just at the time when the Foreign Secretary was about to go to Berlin to have a meeting with Hitler. Very like what is happening now. Then he said that national arms were quite useless, and that our own arms were already ample for collective security. "Already ample" were the words of Sir Herbert Samuel, as he then was; but the Prime Minister agreed with them. He said there was no defence against air attack of any sort whatever. Sir Austen Chamberlain rightly asked if London were bombed, what defence would he make?
In a forceful peroration—which is exactly typical of the Motions now on the Order Paper—he said that all we wanted was a new world. The present Minister of Labour also spoke in that debate, and he was a bit more specific about what a "new world" meant. He said it was very simple: it meant having a Socialist Government. He said that a Socialist Government in this country would be an event of first-class importance that would change the whole face of international affairs.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite were then, as the back-benchers opposite are now, begging the whole question. Pacifism and collective security run in double harness as a policy that is at once the most imbecile and most dangerous that could 131 possibly be pursued. And yet hon. Gentlemen opposite are proud of their record in the 'thirties. It may be that hon. Gentlemen opposite have said so often that they were in favour of re-armament that some of them may have come to believe it to be true. I do not know. However, the Prime Minister, has now repented. Let us hope that "between the stirrup and the ground" he has found mercy.
The general policy announced by him is right, and I am profoundly convinced that it can succeed, particularly because now we have America working in Europe and working upon our side, whereas then we had not got her. We have the balance on our side. But that policy can only succeed on one condition, and that is that we show single-mindedness and courage. To be half-hearted about it is dangerous as well as disgraceful.
I believe that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have got their hearts in the right place. But what of their supporters? What about Ministers? It is a very strange fact, as, I think, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) pointed out just now, that hardly any Ministers ever mention the foreign situation in any of their speeches, and yet, after all, it is the most important of the lot. What about the Minister of Labour in his party political broadcast? He brushed it on one side. Might it not have been some sort of seasoning for the musty resurrection pie which he always serves up? Not a word about it. I do not know where he stands, but the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), had a very interesting remark in the "Sunday Pictorial" on 21st January, when he discussed why the present Minister of Labour had accepted his office. He said:By joining the inner Cabinet at this moment he hopes to strengthen the forces in the Government who are prepared to face all the dangers involved in using our bargaining position vis-à-vis the Americans to the fullest possible extent.Well, I had always hoped that our relationship with the Americans was a partnership, not a sort of bargaining position like the Minister of Food and Senor Peron, but that is how he seems to think of it. I will not draw them, but there are some pretty sinister interpretations which can be read into that remark.
132 What about the Minister of Local Government and Planning? What help has he given? We on this side of the House have very often had cause to accuse his incapacity for silence, but he has been singularly silent on this issue. I wonder where he stands on German policy? I do not want to go at great length into the question of our German policy; I have often spoken on it in this House and my views are well known; I hope we shall soon have a full discussion on it, and I think that we need a whole day on Germany.
I have always believed our policy in Germany has been discreditable to our hearts, discreditable to our intelligence, and damaging to our interests. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say what a terrible thing it is to have any dealings with the Germans because of the concentration camps. God knows, the horrors of the German concentration camps were bad enough; but what about the Russian concentration camps? If you are prepared to shake by the hand people who now have concentration camps, might you not shake by the hand people who did at one past period have concentration camps? I do not want to go into that. All I want to lay stress on once again is the question whether any policy could be more impolitic than to accept the principle of German re-armament and then do as we are now doing, dragging our feet.
I believe that the anti-Americanism of so many hon. Gentlemen opposite and, as I believe, of so many Ministers, and this tendency and wish to go back on our word about Germany, are playing slap into Mr. Hoover's hands. That is the ghastly danger at the moment. In his broadcast last Friday Mr. Hoover talked about the disunity of Europe, and said what is, after all, a truism, that there can be no land defence of Europe without Germany being in it. He added:Two months ago detailed plans and great progress were announced. Now it is decided that German military participation is out, or can wait.That is one of the things that encourages him to put across his form of isolationism. If Mr. Hoover wins, Europe may not be defended at all; it may be overrun by the Communists or it may be destroyed by American bombs. The one thing absolutely certain is that if isola- 133 tionism in the Hoover form wins, Europe cannot be saved. That seems to me to be a certainty.
So much for the Ministers. What about the intellectuals of the party? What about the dons? They are generally made Ministers; that is the great reservoir the Prime Minister draws on. We have first Professor G. D. H. Cole: "I want North Korea to win—"North Korea against whom we are fighting! "China is in the right", and he supports the Communist Government imposed by Russia against the freely-elected one, which he thinks a very reactionary thing to have. Then there is our old friend A. J. P. Taylor, so much beloved by the B.B.C., who loses no chance to vilify the Americans. The only mitigation of his venom is that his charges are so absurd that no one would believe them.
Both these gentlemen, as do so many hon. Members opposite, hate America. They both hate Germany and are most anxious to divide Germany from Europe and prevent her from being part of Western Christian civilisation again. We read that we should forgive our enemies. It is a hard saying. The depressing thing about hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they are still less willing to forgive their friends. I must say about these dons that they are so foolish, so lacking in intellectual integrity and so obviously suffering from well-justified feelings of inferiority, that I am constantly surprised and grateful that they have not yet got into the Cabinet. They deny that they are fellow-travellers. Who ever admitted that he was a fellow traveller? They do all that they can to help the Communist cause; they want North Korea to win and only deny they are fellow travellers because they think it better not to talk about consequences such as concentration camps and other villainies which we get when Communism is in power.
The Prime Minister has some pretty damaging opponents in this House. They range from the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—the "shabby moneylender "school right through all the shades of anti-Germans. I think that the person who has made the most savage speeches about Germany in this House is the hon. Member for West Ham. South (Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones), who has not graced us today. If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne will 134 forgive me, I would say that the hon. Member for West Ham, South, was a far more effective fellow-traveller than he was.
What about party organisations? I believe that West Bristol is a portent. I am certain that the Prime Minister was innocent about this. Was it really an accident—
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
On a point of order. Is it not the custom, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that when an hon. Member makes an attack upon another hon. Member, such as the attack just made on the hon. Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones), by calling him a fellow-traveller, the hon. Member attacked should be given notice of the attack about to be made upon him? Did the hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) give notice to the hon, Member for West Ham, South?
I do not think that rule necessarily applies except in personal matters; not in political references.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
What could be more personal at this moment than to dub people Communists or fellow-travellers in this House without proof and without giving them notice and an opportunity of replying?
§ Mr. Birch
I was talking about the subject of the West Bristol by-election, and I said that I did not think that it was an accident that this fellow was adopted. Labour candidates at by-elections are pretty carefully chosen, and I believe that this fellow was put in to get the pacifist vote. What hon. Gentlemen opposite are saying is: "Don't bother what the Prime Minister says; we would not have nationalised steel if we wanted to re-arm. We would not have the present Defence Ministers if we were serious about re-armament. We are 135 what we have always been—Trust us you will not see us for dust if anything blows up."
That, I believe, is the reason. That is why the machine is still supporting this man. It is very nice to get a letter from the Prime Minister, but if I were the candidate I would far rather have the machine. That policy may pay in the short run, but I do not believe it will pay in the long run. I believe it to be immoral. Let us take what the candidate said:Whatever my own personal views, and however I may argue at party meetings, I am prepared, as a loyal party man, always to support the majority view. That is the way democracy works in the Labour Party.Is it? Vote straight and then try to knock down the policy. This is the greatest issue, perhaps even greater than before the last war. Professor Butterfield said the other day:We are in the midst of the same kind of catastrophic history which the Hebrew prophets and St. Augustine had to face.We want some clear thinking, and we want some honesty. I think it a pity that those bitterly opposed to the Foreign Secretary's policy on this vital issue act as they do. They keep him in, I suppose, because they know that that is the best way of frustrating the policy he advocates. I believe that to be moral and political bankruptcy, and I believe that when the people come to vote again they will remember that there is a difference between living for Socialism and living by it.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I think it a little odd that the hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) should talk about political honesty and then go back to the '30's. He started in March, 1935. What about November, 1935? What about the General Election that was fought on disarmament and support for the League of Nations and then, while the contest was on. the party opposite stabbing the League of Nations in the back?
I do not need to rely on the cheap wit of the hon. Member for my support. All I need do is to quote the Leader of the Opposition. There cannot be many Tories who can have read his books, because how they can still be Tories is quite beyond me if they have read his history of the last war and have any 136 claim to honesty and intelligence. They have only to read the preface to the first volume, in which we are told that President Roosevelt said to the Leader of the Opposition one night that he was thinking of asking the public for suggestions as to what the war should be called, and the Leader of the Opposition turned round and said, "There is no need for that. Just call it the'unnecessary war.'"
Had the party opposite been honest, had they put the interests of the country before their bank balances, there would have been no war. That is what the Leader of the Opposition said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] That is what appeared in the preface. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it out."] I have not a copy of the book with me. I am drawing on my memory, but if Members will read their leader's book they will find that he underlines the fact that we could have had American support for our policy in the Far East and in Germany, and expressed astonishment that Mr. Chamberlain, supported by Lord Simon, went out of his way to cast American support on one side. Now, once again we find the clock has gone almost full circle.
I believe that the issue of German rearmament is today an issue between the two parties, because the Conservative Party today, as they have done in the past, want at all costs not only to stand up to the Soviet Union—that is the stalking horse they are using at the moment—but they want to suppress social revolutions wherever they are to be found in the world. They want to start here at home. That is their main concern. Never in the past have we found them very active in support of great moral causes. If we study the history of international affairs between the two wars there is only one occasion when they took a strong line. That was in December, 1932, when they sent a couple of warships against the Persians. Never do we find them supporting social causes.
Today once again they want the old gang back in the Far East and in Germany. Speaking for myself and I am sure for the overwhelming majority of my hon. Friends and for our party throughout the country, I can say that they never—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Minister of Defence? "] I can also speak for my right hon. Friend on this point. 137 He has never been a Pacifist, a Communist or anything resembling one. [HON. MEMBERS: "We never said he was."] The innuendo is there. In any case he can speak for himself. If hon. Members want to attack my right hon. Friend let them do so when he is here and not when he is absent. Hon. Members opposite are doing what my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville) says is so common with the Tory Party, kicking somebody in the backside when they are not looking.
Let us stick to the issues which face the country now. We are called upon to pay an enormous bill for re-armament. That bill will not be met unless there is the maximum amount of unity in the country. I am also quite sure that any hope at all of standing up for democracy and the rights of this country or playing our part in the North Atlantic Pact will become as nothing unless there is support right throughout the country. Speeches and resolutions in the House of Commons do not provide the tanks, the guns or the material for the Armed Forces.
If hon. Members opposite want to see us successful in this matter they must play their part. We shall not get far on the road to unity if we have to listen to such speeches as that just delivered by the hon. Member for Flint, West. That speech was a dirty speech; it was the speech of a neo-Fascist; and it is the speech of a man who has no faith in democracy. One of the first things required by those who really believe in democracy is not only to pay it lip service, but to have respect for their fellows. The hon. Member for Flint, West, has contempt for hon. Members on this side of the House. He might hold that view—
§ Mr. Wigg
—but he not only damages his party here when he makes the kind of speech which he has delivered tonight, but he also damages the interests of this country. [Laughter.] Hon. Members can laugh, but I am used to alcoholic jeers. Hon. Gentlemen are sitting some yards away, and I cannot smell it.
It only needs a few more speeches like that which we have had from the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, not only in the House but in the country, to destroy for ever any hope of national unity. We are faced with the prospect in the 138 next few weeks or months of a General Election. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Gentlemen look forward to it. Let me remind them that they are telling us that the next three years are going to be vital for democracy and for this country. Suppose we get a General Election fought in the spirit of that speech. At the end of it, what hope would there be of national unity? What hope of getting the miner or the steel worker to roll his sleeves up?
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) quite rightly said that the past belongs to the past and that we had to face the present and the future. I have tried and I am trying to face in that spirit the issues with which we are confronted. We have had our differences in the past. The hon. Member for Flint, West, based his case on what has happened in 1930, but two of us can play that game. What would happen at the end of it? Who would suffer? Not the hon. Member for Flint, West, and myself, but the country. There would be growing up a rift between the industrial workers and the residential areas. If hon. Gentlemen opposite get a majority, they will have it in the areas around London; they will have their Bournemouths and their Southports, but we shall still hold the industrial areas. All right—hon. Gentlemen want their election and let us assume their party get 400 seats, which would mean a large majority. We may only get 200 seats, but we shall still hold the industrial areas. We shall still hold sufficient, as we held in 1939, of the industrial areas of the country to make it clear that the war could not be fought without the support of the workers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]
I am sorry, but if hon. Gentlemen opposite will only take the trouble to read the history from the outbreak of the war to the formation of the Coalition Government they will see that there is abundant proof that responsible members of their party were conscious that the war could not be fought without the support of the trade unions and of the industrial workers. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Army?"] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen want to throw up the fact that at the end of my service I served in the Royal Army Educational Corps. Please do. I started in the Hampshire Regiment and 139 I served in the Tank Corps. I do not throw my rank about. I get an N.C.O.'s pension. Let us forget it. I am pleading to hon. Gentlemen to live up to the words that come to their lips and to put their country first. Forget the cheap, smart stockbroker stuff that we had from the hon. Gentleman.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Law (Hull, Haltemprice)
The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) allowed himself to get unduly excited. I was very much surprised to hear him seek to apply—as I think he did without knowing it—a process of blackmail to the nation, having previously accused us on this side of the House of having been neo-Fascists—
§ Mr. Wigg
I was referring to one hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I was referring to the hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). I want to make it quite clear that there are other hon. Members opposite to whom I would apply it, but the majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite are as good democrats as I hope I am.
§ Mr. Law
I hope that the majority of hon. Members on this side of the House are very much better democrats than the hon. Gentleman is. In his speech the hon. Gentleman made it quite clear that he had no idea whatever of the ordinary processes of democracy, and he said that, if he was argued down or if people said things with which he disagreed, he would go out into the industrial areas of the country and see that we should lose the war. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, he did. I do not know what the purpose—
§ Mr. Wigg
I said nothing whatever of the kind. My meaning was exactly the opposite. May I try to remove any misunderstanding? The last thing in the world that I would do would be to suggest that. If a party is defeated at the polls, it should accept the decisions, put its own party interests on one side and put its shoulder to the wheel in the national interest.
§ Mr. Law
I did so before because I understood the hon. Gentleman to say what I then stated.
We have today had a very full, frank and, on the whole, dispiriting expression of what in a leading article this morning "The Times" called…the old sad hope that the mere show of pacific intentions may he enough to preserve the peace.Sometimes the pacifist outlook—I use the word not in any pejorative sense—of hon. Members opposite has expressed itself in terms of fear of German rearmament. I should like to make one or two comments on the speeches of the hon. Members for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) and Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher). Beneath their distrust of what the Government are doing—the distrust was obvious—it is quite clear there was running a vein of, I have no doubt, perfectly genuine and sincere pacifism.
The hon. Member for Nuneaton told us of a letter he had had from 25 boys saying that, after hearing him speak, they were determined to oppose the rearmament of Germany. He asked what he has to say to them. The best advice I can give him is to follow the advice given by his leader, the Prime Minister, this afternoon. Roughly speaking, the advice was that to people coming to us with that question we should say, quite frankly, that if there is no re-armament of Germany and Germany does not take any part in European defence, then we and the United States must defend Germany. The hon. Member should say to these 25 young men, "if you do not want to follow the advice of the Prime Minister, if you do not want to accept in principle the idea of German rearmament, then you must realise that you have an obligation of conscience to defend Germany and to defend the Eastern boundary of Europe yourselves."
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It surely is out of order in this House for any hon. Member to persist in attributing to other hon. Members views which they have never expressed and which they indignantly repudiate, as I do every word of this lying statement.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
It is of course quite out of order knowingly to misrepresent the views of another hon. Member. It is equally out of order to make any reflection such as I gathered the hon. Member made about the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Silverman
Mr. Deputy-Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]. I am very sorry, I am afraid I did lose my temper and I used a word which I ought not to have used. I withdraw it unreservedly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."]—but I still say that for the right hon. Gentleman to persist, in spite of my denial, in attributing to me views which I did not express and which I do not hold, and refusing to allow me to intervene to correct it, was as out of order as I was myself.
§ Mr. Law
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I very much regret it if I said anything to misrepresent the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. What in fact I was expressing was not the view of the hon. Member but that of the Prime Minister—[An HON. MEMBER: "Which is much more important."] If the Prime Minister dissents from what I say, then the right hon. Gentleman is here and no doubt he will get up and say so.
§ Mr. Silverman
The right hon. Gentleman is persisting in attributing to me views which I have repudiated. I think he is out of order in doing so, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I ask you to say that he is.
§ Mr. Law
I think the hon. Member exaggerates the interest which I take in him or any other hon. Member of this House takes in him.
The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), was very much afraid of provoking the patient Russians by indulging in the re-armament of the Germans. When he was asked, "But after all, who started German re-armament?" he said, "I do not know, nobody knows. I have heard a great deal about rearmament in the Eastern zone, about these peoples' police and so on, but I have never had any really convincing evidence that they exist; or, at any rate, that they exist in numbers anything like that." Listening to the Prime Minister this afternoon I thought he gave a fair indication that he believed there was very considerable re-armament in the Eastern zone. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) does not accept that, I do not know what he will accept.
In order that we may clear this up and in order that we may soothe the savage and outraged breast of the hon. Member for Attercliffe, I would ask what definite information the Minister of State can give us about the number of German military personnel in the Eastern zone. It may have escaped the notice of the 143 Minister of State, but Dr. Adenaeur, speaking at Bonn yesterday, said there were 100,000 People's Police and 50,000 so-called frontier personnel-150,000 armed men in military formations. I do not know whether Dr. Adenaeur had the facts available or not. Probably he had, because he also gave figures with regard to the satellite States and, although they were not the same figures as those given by the Prime Minister this afternoon, they were, in fact, smaller and were not an exaggeration.
I must ask these questions not on my own behalf, but on behalf of the hon. Member for Islington, East, who, I think, needs a good deal of information on this subject. I was much interested in his speech. I think I must read the same newspaper as that read by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden)—that which told us about the brilliant oration which the Lord President of the Council gave to a meeting of the Labour Party. I think it was the same Sunday paper which stated that one of the leaders of the rebellion was the hon. Member for Islington, East, but that the charm and eloquence of the Lord President of the Council had nobbled him so that he was prepared to toe the line. I suppose his speech this afternoon was his last little flicker of independence.
The Prime Minister very properly rejected the pacifest views which have been expressed in more than one quarter of the benches opposite. I am sure that the pacifist view is not representative of the view held generally by hon. Members opposite. I am quite certain that the heart of the Labour Party is more robust and its head far less soft than some of the speeches we have had this afternoon would indicate. I was fortified in that view by watching the faces of non. Members opposite when the hon. Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) was making her admirable speech. While some faces on the left were sour and disgruntled, it was clear that she had the support of the overwhelming majority of her colleagues.
I do not believe the pacifist element in the Labour Party is very numerous, but I am afraid it is far more harmful than its numbers would suggest. The effect of Motions of the kind we have had on the Paper in the last few days and of speeches 144 of the kind we have had supporting those Motions—amiable, well-intentioned and futile speeches though they were—must be to hamper the Government in the execution of their foreign policy.
The Prime Minister has determined on re-armament. He has determined on a policy of working with the Commonwealth and the United States of America to support the United Nations, and all the time he has to have one eye over his shoulder to see that these people, these hon. Members—these "Nenni-goats" as they were called in the last Parliament—have not strayed too far from the flock, or, at any rate, that they have not strayed so far that they cannot be whistled back in the crucial 10 or 15 minutes before a Division takes place at the end of a debate.
There is hardly a week that passes, according to reports in the Press, without the Prime Minister being summoned to a party meeting where, if rumour is to be believed, he has once again to explain to hon. Members opposite that two and two do not make three, but four. This is more than harassing to an already overburdened man. I think we all know that the leader of any political party must cultivate the capacity for suffering fools gladly; that is all part of the game.
The right hon. Gentleman has more than his fair share and there is a great difference between this Parliament and the last Parliament. In the last Parliament it did not matter if there were 20 or 30 hon. Members who were opposing the foreign policy of the Government all the time and who were expressing the kind of views we have heard tonight. They were flattened out, as better men than they were flattened out, by the vast Government majority. But today, when a handful of votes in a Division Lobby, five, 10 or 12, whatever it may be, are all that stands between the Government and extinction, then those 20 or 30 hon. Members assume an importance out of all proportion to their experience, their natural wisdom, or to any talent they have exposed to the House of Commons.
That is why I must declare to the House my own conviction, which I am sure is shared by my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House, that if the present political situation is bad from a purely domestic point of view, it is infinitely worse when we look at it 145 from the point of view of the international situation. In these matters any Government ought to be certain to be able to depend on the consistent support of its own followers It ought to feel that it is supported, not only by the House of Commons, but by a party which is united in purpose behind it. It is clearly not united today and, clearly, it cannot call on that degree of support.
I want to say a word or two about what seems to me and, I think, to most of us on this side of the House and to most hon. Members on both sides, the most dangerous aspect of the very dangerous world in which we are living. I do not believe that war is inevitable. I think that if we can keep our heads, if we can stick to our friends, if we do not let our enemies feel that we are too much afraid of them, we shall come through, but I think that a great majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree that if there were one thing that would make war nearly certain it would be a rift between this country and the British Commonwealth on the one hand and the United States on the other.
I think a great many hon. Members, again on both sides of the House, would agree that there is more evidence of a rift today than at any other time in the past ten years. I do not believe, nor do I think any hon. Member believes, that any fissures that may have appeared are as deep as they sometimes seem, but I think that any of us who knows anything of opinion in the United States and of opinion in this country admits that there is today a most dangerous degree of misunderstanding. It is certainly true that we have not been able to put our view effectively to the Americans, and like other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate I am sure that there is something lacking in the machinery of consultation.
It is also true that we ourselves have not given full credit to the American attitude on these matters. I think that we have been too much inclined in the past few weeks to feel, "Well, London is a more favourable target for the atom bomb than is New York City. The Americans are hotheaded, impulsive; if we do not watch out the Americans will drag us into war." I do not for one moment believe that. The whole history of the American people shows that they are not a people who are over fond of war. They have 146 always regarded war with the greatest hatred, they have always endured it with the greatest reluctance. I do not believe that over the past few weeks their characters have suddenly changed.
It is true, however, that the Americans have had a good deal to put up with in the last few weeks. They have seen themselves shouldering the main burden of United Nations effort in Korea. I do not mean that the over-all part we have played over Asia as a whole is not as great as theirs; perhaps proportionately it is even' greater. But an ordinary American citizen, looking at what has happened in Korea, is conscious for example of the fact that we in this country since the Korean War began have suffered 600 casualties; that is a lot: they have suffered 50,000 casualties; that is more. The Prime Minister today made ample amends for what I thought was the great mistake he made on 23rd January, when he made a long statement occupying four columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT without making more than the most perfunctory reference to his visit to Washington, devoting his remarks to the war in Korea without even a suggestion that the Americans were engaged in that war or had any interest in it.
Towards the end of his statement, he said that it was proper in such a situation that we should consult with our friends. He then went on to say that we must remember that this was an Asian problem and we must give all weight to the views of Asian countries. That may be right, and I am not disputing that it was a perfectly logical thing to say. It is undoubtedly the case, however, that it did immense harm in the United States and I think it gave the people of this country a very false idea of what the Americans were doing.
That is now past, and the Prime Minister made amends for it this afternoon. But when we remember the Americans' hotheadedness, their impulsiveness, we should also remember what they have endured in this war and that they have not always had, through our public utterances, all the sympathy and understanding to which they thought they might have been entitled. The American attitude towards the Korean war is something far above this kind of hurt feeling and injured pride. The American attitude towards the Korean war is based, above all else, on the fact that they be- 147 lieve it their duty and their obligation to assert the rule of law in international affairs and make effective the United Nations.
Whatever views any of us may have had about the reason for the collapse and the failure of the League of Nations—hon. Members opposite may have put the blame on us for our attitude towards collective security and we on them for their attitude towards re-armament—I think we all agree it was almost impossible for the League to succeed without the participation of the United States. Now in the United Nations organisation we have not only the participation of the United States, but we have them accepting the position of leadership morally as great as our own and materially even greater. I am certain it is only their determination to discharge the duties of that leadership, to defend the world from falling back into the ruin into which it fell in 1939 more than anything else which is animating not only the American statesmen, but the American people at this time; and not all of us have given full credit to the Americans for their attitude.
The Prime Minister said he hoped the House would show the unity in this debate which it showed in the last, and if I have strained hon. Members opposite too far I regret it. I too hope that we may have a high degree of national unity. In spite of sneers, I am sure that first and foremost we are Englishmen—[HON.MEMBERS: "And Scotsmen."]—I am a Scotsman. I think "Britisher" is such an odious word but I will use it if the House wishes. We are all "Britishers." We are living in a highly dangerous world. We all want peace. There is not one soul in this House who does not want peace. But we shall not get peace simply by wanting it. I am equally certain that there is no conjuring trick of diplomacy which, if only we could find it, would guarantee peace. We shall get peace only if we are determined to defend those things for which alone peace is valued. The Prime Minister today indicated that peace by itself was not worth having. It is the use to which we put it that matters and unless we can show we are prepared to defend the things for which peace is valued I am certain we shall not get it.
148 I listened with great interest to the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse). He said, and I agree with him, that this was a time of extreme peril. He said, too, that, while we had to re-arm, re-armament was not the only consideration. He made what seemed to me a most valuable suggestion that we should go into the business of propaganda in the same spirit in which we went into it in the war, quite regardless of expense and putting all the talent into it that we could. I hope very much that the Government will pay attention to what he said and will consider very seriously whether they should not, conjointly with their re-armament campaign, embark upon a campaign of political warfare comparable to that which was so successful during the war.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Younger)
This has been a serious and responsible debate. Frankly, I preferred the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) ended his remarks to that in which he began them. I was a little surprised that he took so long a time discussing matters in a partisan and somewhat frivolous tone. I hope he will forgive me if, in the time at my disposal, I do not attempt to follow him in that, but attempt rather to deal with the numerous points of a serious and substantial nature which have been put to me.
This foreign affairs debate inevitably takes place under the shadow of the debate to take place later in the week upon the enlarged defence programme. I do not think anybody who has listened to the debate will feel in doubt that the vast majority of hon. Members in all parts of the House are perfectly prepared to shoulder whatever burdens they may be called upon to bear, but they will do so on one condition, and that is that they are satisfied that the sacrifices called for are necessary and that we and our Allies, while we strengthen our arms, are missing no chance of a peaceful settlement and, perhaps above all, are not being panicked into overlooking the deeper long-term causes of war.
Several hon. Members have referred to those deeper causes of war, causes lying deep in some of the old Colonial relationships, in poverty, in economic and social 149 distress, and so on. There is a Motion on the Order Paper headed "Peace of the World" in the names of my hon. Friends the Members for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale) and Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks). I am afraid I was unable to hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe, but I have seen a note of many of his comments and I find myself in agreement with a lot of them. In that Motion, stress is laid upon the need to continue with the sort of programmes of economic and social development which all those who profess to subscribe to the United Nations Charter must believe are fundamental to a stable peace throughout the world.
It would be absurd to pretend that the sort of defence burdens which we are likely to be called upon to bear do not make those long-term programmes more difficult. Nevertheless, we propose to go on with them to the best of our ability. We are continuing with them in the dependent territories of our Colonial Empire. It is also worth calling the attention of the House to the fact that on this very day the Consultative Committee of the South-East Asia Plan is meeting in Colombo to pursue the important developments which have already been set on foot. On this occasion the United States of America are sending a delegation to the conference and there are also representatives of Burma, Siam, the Associated States of Indo-China, Indonesia and the Philippines, in addition to the Commonwealth countries who have taken part in the previous conferences. Therefore, I think I can assure the House that we are not losing sight of the need to continue with work of that kind merely because the defence and strategic aspect of the world situation has unfortunately become more forbidding.
I think that the main points of anxiety, both among the general public and as voiced in this debate today, are really three. There is, first, the situation in the Far East, with particular reference to recent events in Korea, and the intervention of Chinese troops there; secondly, the problem of European defence, and particularly the question of German re-armament; and thirdly, the anxiety that, if possible, something should be got from the prospect of the coming four-Power talks. In relation to all these problems, I think there has been an underlying note and desire that, in pursuing our 150 policy on these matters, we should show a sturdy independence, not only vis-à-vis those whom we must, for the time being at any rate, refer to as our opponents, but also vis-à-vis our closest friends and allies.
The Government, who have had very difficult decisions to take, as I am sure the House will realise, on all these main topics which I have mentioned, are the first to recognise the legitimate anxieties which have been expressed by many hon. Members. Indeed, the decisions which we have taken have all, I think I can honestly say, been taken with full awareness that no course in present circumstances can be free from risk, and that many of the anxieties of hon. Members, and particularly those of some of my hon. Friends, are very genuine. We have taken our decisions on the balance of risks, and I wish to try to explain and defend what we have done and are doing in relation to these important topics.
May I first say one word about our relationships with our principal allies? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice referred at some length to our relations with the United States. We all recognise, and we welcome, the fact that our alliance with the United States is very deep and very strong. It is based upon many common interests and I believe upon common purposes in almost all fields of our endeavour. It is accepted, not only by the vast majority of the people of this country, but by our other allies, and particularly by our French friends and members of the Commonwealth, as an absolutely vital keystone of the defence of the free world. However close we may be to our United States allies, I do not think that fact will be resented by any of our other friends.
I should point out that this alliance is vital, not only for defence but quite equally for those other purposes of which I have spoken. If we are to do anything substantial in raising living standards throughout the world, it is vital that we should carry the United States along with us as partners, as well as in the field of defence. That is not to say that our viewpoints on every matter must always be identical. Obviously, we are situated in different parts of the world, have different perspectives on certain world events, and our material situation is very different. Some people have been 151 accusing us recently of having a sort of satellite relationship to the United States. I would not accept that for a moment, and I would say that not only would such a relationship be unacceptable to us, but it is certainly not sought by them. What they want is a partnership. Nor do I believe that our alliance is so brittle that it cannot stand a certain amount of plain talk between us.
I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and also by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby) about the machinery of consultation at the higher political level. I think the right hon. Gentleman had in mind particularly the machinery for consultation with the United States, France, the members of the Commonwealth and our Atlantic allies. He suggested, as I understood him, that there should be a standing organisation to give political direction, above all to the military activities, but no doubt general political direction over the whole field of policy. It was referred to by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire as a "supreme council." Now, that idea has attractions, but, on the whole, the Government have not so far been convinced that it is practicable.
Let me just mention the manner in which our consultations are at the present time carried on. First of all, there is the obvious one of day-to-day contact at the diplomatic level. That is a permanent relationship, with our representatives in each other's capitals all the time. That has been fortified, so far as certain matters relating to the Atlantic Pact are concerned, by the Standing Group in Washington; but that relates, of course, only to matters of Atlantic defence. In addition to that, during 1950 the three Foreign Ministers met for more or less prolonged periods in London in May, in September both in New York and in Washington, and again in December in Brussels. On all those occasions, in addition to the meetings of the three Foreign Ministers, there were also meetings of the 12-Power Atlantic Council. In addition to that the Prime Minister, as the House knows, went to Washington in December, and he previously had seen the Prime Minister of France just before he went; and only last week the Prime 152 Minister of France himself was in Washington.
One does wonder whether it would be possible, in the present pressure of business, for leading statesmen to find time to spend more time than that in each other's capitals. It may be that what is envisaged is something at a much lower level, but I understood the right hon. Gentleman to be thinking in terms of a very high level body, and that is, quite frankly, a very difficult thing to achieve when we think of all the obligations that Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers have in their own countries.
On the question of a common defence programme, which was raised by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire, we were asked whether we were pursuing a common programme or only a series of national programmes, and reference was made particularly to co-ordination in defence production, in raw materials, and so on. Inevitably, it is difficult in peace-time to build up a really thorough and all-embracing organisation to coordinate such matters between 12 democratic States; but provision for most of these matters does exist under the Atlantic Pact machinery, and I think I can say that the organisation of that side of the work is growing, and is growing in efficiency.
§ Brigadier Head (Carshalton)
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt him for one moment? Do the Government consider that outside the Atlantic Pact it would be a good thing if there were joint consultation between us and the United States regarding strategic policy in the Middle and Far East, to link up with Western Europe?
§ Mr. Younger
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there is a good deal of consultation, not through a special body which is set up for the purpose, but through the standing representation which we have in each other's capitals. Continuous consultation on all those matters does go on.
Let me turn to the Far East. It was suggested by at least one hon. Member that we had not made our views and our policy on the Far East known to the United States early enough. I really do not think that that is a fair criticism. Long before the Korean aggression 153 occurred at the end of June, we had made known our views about various important problems relating, in particular, to China. We have given consistent support for over a year now to the proposition that the Peking Government ought to be recognised for what they are, namely, the effective Government of the mainland of China. We have recognised that, and we have always said that it would be impossible to get a settlement in the Far East unless we were prepared to recognise the fact that the Peking Government do control the resources of China.
We have made that quite clear from the very start, and quite frankly, but for the Korean aggression, I believe the legitimate aspirations of Communist China in the Far East might by now well have been realised. I think it is as well for those who are apt, perhaps, to criticise the Western Powers and the other members of the United Nations for the way they have handled the Korean problem to realise that, if these are indeed the legitimate aspirations of China, she could have had representation, as I believe, by the end of last year. It was my firm impression, even at the beginning of the United Nations Assembly, that she could have taken her place in the United Nations by the end of last year.
It was my impression, for instance, in September, when the United Nations General Assembly met—which was after the Korean aggression and, of course, before Chinese intervention—that there was a very good chance indeed that the majority of the United Nations would wish to see her sitting at the table of the United Nations. It is the aggression in Korea and not any conduct on our part which has made the solution of those problems so very much more difficult. Since June, equally, we have had a perfectly firm and clear policy. We have resisted aggression in Korea, and we intend to continue doing so; but equally we have maintained firmly that the problems of the Far East must be settled by negotiation, because we see no alternative to a negotiated peace in the Far East which would not be a disaster both for China and for ourselves.
At the end of last year I came back after spending three months at the United Nations in New York, and I believe that our policy, certainly there, was very well understood. What we did had the very 154 strong support of, I think I may say, the whole of the Commonwealth., both the Asian members and the members from other parts of the world. We gave strong support to the continuous Indian efforts to get a peaceful settlement, to get the fighting stopped and negotiations started. We gave support to the cease-fire proposal, and unfortunately it was the poor Chinese response which brought that to nothing at that time. But that response has not moved us from our aim to try to get a peaceful settlement.
In that regard, coming to the recent discussion about the resolution which was passed in the General Assembly, we believe that actions in this matter speak louder than words. It is actions rather than words which will determine whether negotiations are to occur. We believe, for instance, that the reason the cease-fire proposals failed in December and early January—at a time, I may say, when nobody had labelled the Chinese as aggressors—was because the facts of the situation in Korea were not very favourable to a negotiation. We believe that the situation is rather more favourable now, and we do not, frankly, believe that the wording of a particular clause of a resolution will close the door to negotiations if it is open on other grounds.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
Is it not much better to ask for a cease-fire when you are holding your own than to ask for a cease-fire when your troops have been forced into continuous retreat?
§ Mr. Younger
That was certainly what I intended to convey. Of course, it is perfectly true—and this may be what the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of—that when this cease-fire was first proposed, our troops were not in fact holding a line, but we did then hope that they would very shortly be able to do so. It took rather longer to do so than we hoped would be the case at first. They are now, to say the least, holding a line, and we therefore believe the situation is more favourable and more hopeful.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, talking of the United States' resolution, indicated, if I remember rightly, that we would have preferred that this recent resolution which named China as an aggressor had not been tabled at that particular time. We did not think it would be helpful to the negotiations. 155 Nevertheless, there was a very strong body of opinion within the United Nations which wished to go ahead, and, whatever we might have said one way or the other, it was quite clear that the resolution would go ahead and would be voted.
We objected to it principally because it seemed to us to put the plan for getting negotiations started in the second place and to subordinate it to an immediate study of further measures which might broadly be called sanctions. We thought, and we still think, that further measures of a punitive nature against China are, in the words which were used recently by our representative in New York, Sir Gladwyn Jebb, likely to be "dangerous, double-edged, or merely useless." It is very hard, the more one studies it, to escape from the conclusion that most measures which might be considered fall into those categories. We therefore exerted all our influence to see that that resolution should be altered to try to keep the door open for negotiations and in that, through the good will of the United States principally, we were successful.
I know that the present resolution is open to some criticism, but it puts the emphasis on settlement, and does postpone the question of any further sanctions until other attempts to negotiate have been made. Some people speak as though the alternative before us, in considering whether to support that amended resolution or not, was to have no resolution at all. They thought that that would have been better. There was no such alternative. If we had not supported the amended resolution, what would have happened would almost certainly have been that the original resolution, which we thought much more harmful to negotiations, would have been passed by a very large majority, and we would have been in a far less better position than we are in at the present time.
I must emphasise that if the present attempts are to result in a settlement, the Chinese must play their part. They have not so far shown any initiative in attempting to get a settlement. They have responded in various degrees, better to some other proposals recently than they did before to proposals made to them by the Indians, the Canadians and ourselves. We hope that they will now feel some 156 inclination to take the initiative and, in the interests of themselves as much as us, be prepared to discuss a general settlement in Korea and in that area as a whole.
I now turn to discuss briefly, within the time at my disposal, Europe and Germany. I do not want to repeat the words which my right hon. Friend has already used and the explanation which he has already given of our policy in this respect. I would like only to remind some hon. Members, who seem rather to have left this out of their speeches that it is the security of the whole of Western Europe which is at stake in this matter. German re-armament is only one part and not the predominant part of the defence plans for the whole of Western Europe upon which we are now engaged. If there is to be an effective defence, it is not only the Western Germans who feel that the defence line ought to be on their Eastern borders but some of our other Atlantic Treaty allies as well. The Dutch and the Danes cannot possibly view with equanimity a plan for a principal defence line on the Western border of Western Germany.
It is for these reason that we have agreed with our Atlantic partners upon the need in the present circumstances for a German contribution to defence. The Prime Minister explained the sort of conditions that would probably have to be fulfilled before that contribution could become effective, and I think that hon. Members who heard that statement and who read it in HANSARD will agree that it does not differ very widely from that which recently General Eisenhower described on his return home to the United States.
I will say one word about the European army which is one of the proposals for integrating German forces into a much larger Western European force. Frankly, I am not sure how this proposal for a European army as it at present stands actually differs from the conception of what is called an integrated force put forward by Mr. Spofford, and which has been accepted, I think, by all the members of the Atlantic Treaty. We all recognise that so far as command is concerned there must be a measure of integration of all our forces, but we did certainly understand that the conception of a European army went much further, 157 and that, initially at least, it included the political superstructure of a Minister of Defence and some kind of Parliamentary body.
Most hon. Members who have spoken today seem to regard that as no longer being a necessary part of it. All I wish to say about the rather less ambitious type of scheme is that it implies, as I suppose it must, the complete merging not only of the operational command and also training and perhaps recruitment but the actual allocation of particular men and particular units to a European army. This, I think the House will realise, raises difficult problems for a country which, so to speak, would then have to split its army into two—one system for the army which is not part of the European army, and another for that which is part of the European army.
§ Mr. Churchill
It has always been contemplated, surely, that formed military units should be dedicated by the different nations concerned and should, as formed units, take their part in the European army?
§ Mr. Younger
That may be so. The fact is that we do not really know. We are awaiting the information as to the basis on which this conference is to take place. It may be that there is very little difference in conception of a European army as it will emerge and the conception already accepted of integrating the command. We shall learn that by observing at this conference. If it turns out that the nations in Europe wish to accept something not practicable to us with our wider obligations—it may turn out to be so—[Interruption.] I said "if." If we are satisfied that this army can form an efficient part of the Atlantic Organisation, we shall gladly accept the decision.
§ Mr. Younger
I did not say that we must never join it even if it is a good one. I said that we do not know, as nothing has been announced or issued on the subject. We shall know as soon as anyone else knows, what the proposals are, and we shall consider them on their merits. I have indicated the sort of difficulties we thought we should find in joining something which goes far beyond the idea of integrating forces to which we have already subscribed.
I have only two or three minutes left, so I will say one word about the possible four-Power talks. We hope that this conference will take place. I think that everyone who spoke today was agreed that the agenda ought to be sufficiently wide to enable us to deal with the real cause of tension. Various suggestions were made connected with the Bereitschaften. According to our latest information, we know that they are no fewer than 52,000. Larger figures have been given, but I should prefer to stick to the one we believe absolutely to be firm. We know that they have some armament and are trained in tank warfare. Whether they are operationally supplied with tanks is another question. There is the further question of the satellites' heavily inflated armaments, not to mention the large forces the Soviet Union maintain in Eastern Germany. All these are possible subjects that can be considered.
It will be a test of the sincerity of the Soviet Union whether she is prepared to come to a conference and discuss matters which will really reduce the tension. Should she be prepared to do so, as we all hope she will, then many of our plans may be capable of modification. No one would be more pleased than we should be if there were such an increase in the general security of Europe and the world that we could all, not just Germany, but ourselves, the French, the Americans and everyone else, reconsider the very great burden of armaments which at present seem to us to be quite unavoidable.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.