HC Deb 02 May 1952 vol 499 cc1896-921

2.45 p.m.

Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)

I beg to move, That this House will support every effort to propagate a much wider knowledge among the British public of the social and economic as well as the purely defensive aims of the North Atlantic Treaty; and will use every endeavour to bring about a closer partnership, economically and politically, among the North Atlantic Treaty Powers and any other nation which practices the concepts and ideals of Western civilisation. I am grateful for the success in the Ballot which has given me the opportunity to call attention to a matter on which the fate of everybody here and of his constituents ultimately depends, namely, the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, more commonly known as N.A.T.O.

I believe that in what Mr. Benediktsson of Iceland called this free community of free nations, lies the greatest hope of those who believe in the practice and the ideals of Western civilisation. I believe in the comradeship of these people, who can keep their splendid individuality for their home affairs, yet defend themselves by knitting their strength together against the pressure of an insidious enemy. In N.A.T.O. must be found the faith both to lead and to inspire. To give up something for the common good is considered to be a Christian virtue. Does it cease to be so when it is applied to countries instead of individuals?

Let us realise that the world does not owe Britain a living, and let the world understand that with our knowledge, technique and broad imperial acres ripe for development, we have much to give to the common fund. In the words of Milton: Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live. In a world that is so shrunk in terms of transport that continents are today smaller than counties were a century or two ago, many might think that man has evolved to a stage when he is ready for another great welding together of until-recently sovereign States. But it has been fear that has brought together a group of countries twice this century when they were attacked by an imperialist tyranny, and are now threatened by another tyranny.

The House knows how the defence structure has been built up against a common enemy, of the aggressive Eastern moves followed by partial Western alliance; countered again by further aggression in the East; until, on 4th April, a little more than three years ago, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. The British public knows this, but does it know the details and the clauses of that Treaty or what they imply? Does it remember, as Dean Acheson said at the signing of that Treaty: The reality [of the Treaty] is unity of belief, of spirit, of interest, of the community of nations represented here. It is the product of many centuries of common thought and of the blood of many simple and brave men. … The reality lies not in the common pursuit of a material goal or of a power to dominate others. It lies in the affirmation of moral and spiritual values which govern the kind of life they propose to lead and which they propose to defend, by all possible means, should that necessity be thrust upon them. Does it remember Count Sforza saying: We must pray to God that this Pact will prove to be like the English Magna Carta; on one side intangible, on the other side a continuous creation."? Or Mr. Stikker of the Netherlands saying: We rejoice at the thought that at last the truth prevails that the North Atlantic is a highway that unites, not a barrier that divides."? The object of this Treaty is peace, but that has been the object of many an old alliance in history and this is not merely an old-style alliance. It is unique in for the first time creating an international force and in recognising a community of interests of the Western nations. It also realises albeit partially, that we cannot divorce defence from economics and from politics. Mr. Lester Pearson at the signing of the Treaty said: This treaty, though born of fear and frustration, must, however, lead to positive social, economic and political achievements if it is to live. What are the difficulties today in achieving these social, economic and political aims? Since the conference at Lisbon it has been more than ever realised that the common enemy can fight with other than military weapons. The Defence Board in London and the Financial and Economic Board in Paris have now been merged in a new international staff under the new Secretary-General, our own Lord Ismay.

By such means, despite the fact that the alliance is composed of 14 sovereign nations so different in size and power, it should be much easier to co-ordinate their decisions. Planning is moving forwards towards implementation, but as well as ministerial meetings three times a year, there are now permanent representatives of the North Atlantic Council in permanent session and one of their jobs is to formulate, in the words of a Press release on 4th April this year: Measures necessary for continuing reconciliation of requirements with politico-economic capabilities. Does this mean, in simpler English, a common budget? We are only at the moment half together, even for defence. Rifles and equipment are still a long way from being standardised. I often wonder whether any country in these days, with a population of less than 100 million and a modern industrial system to back up that country, can ever again achieve defensive weapons and weapons of destruction which are both up-to-date and in balance.

Is there any co-ordination today over the thrust of our ideas by radio or other means in or around the Iron Curtain? And what has been done about N.A.T.O. stockpiling on this side of the Atlantic, in the charge of N.A.T.O. rather than the United Kingdom or any specific country? Surely the food and raw materials which people want, and which factories must have to keep going, are wanted on this side of the Atlantic and not on the other?

It seems to me that for so long there has been no global policy on containment. To look at Europe only in this new kind of religious war is to think in terms of the First World War. The battle of civilisation may indeed be lost on the plains of Europe, but Indo-China and Malaya are theatres of operation just as important as the theatre of Korea. One cannot help speculating that many of the difficulties of the Western world in China, and our own in Persia and Egypt, might never have arisen if there, had been a common defence policy co-ordinated on a global basis and directed by a joint foreign policy.

Is there a N.A.T.O. foreign policy, and if so, what is its aim? The ordinary citizen of this country has only a hazy idea of N.A.T.O. He or she knows that its mechanism is complex and constantly needs adjustment. He or she feels that the cold or tepid war is likely to go on indefinitely. There appears to be no end to it and no end either to the high taxation here or in the United States of America; and with that goes compulsory military service as well. Both are accepted, not as good ends in themselves, but because there is apparently no alternative.

But there is an alternative. Have we ever thought it out? Naturally, we are keen to maintain our standard or quantity of living, but there is a quality of life which is equally important. Both have been recognised, albeit somewhat vaguely, by the far-sighted generous people of the United States of America whose great economic strength and fine ideals have shown themselves in action taken since the war in building up bodies such as O.E.E.C. and E.C.A. Yet those are ad hoc functional bodies to underpin European recovery and lack an overall co-ordination.

More lately, in the spring of 1951, to quote a publication issued recently by the Labour Party called "Problems of Foreign Policy": America for the first time put herself on the same basis as her European partners when, in the newly constituted Finance and Economic Board of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, she agreed to submit her domestic economic policies to collective review by all the members of N.A.T.O. We are, therefore, beginning to implement certain of the Articles of the North Atlantic Treaty. Yet how many of the British public know the details of Articles II and III? Article II says that the parties: will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic colaboration between any or all of them. Article III says: In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. Neither of those Articles will be implemented so long as food and raw materials are in surplus in one section of the partnership, whereas in another section there are unemployed bands or hungry people. In an election year it is easy for a politician in the United States of America to urge the raising of tariff walls. The "Economist" of last Monday said: Only two ways are open to the United States, if it does not want to maintain foreign aid as a permanent policy. It can either import more or export less—that is, force other countries to curtail their purchases of American goods. This incipient tariff tussle could have serious repercussions on the Western world. The American market has never been regarded as easy and British exporters were reluctant to enter it. They did so in response to exhortations from both the British and the American Governments. Now they are liable to punishment by the U.S. Tariff Commission. Such a policy could well drive some European purchasers straight into the arms of Soviet trade delegations. What about ourselves, who want coal and the miners which Italy is only too ready to offer? What about the move and counter-move of quota restrictions in the E.P.U. and the sterling area since this country entered this latest and worst financial crisis? Is it not time we asked ourselves where we want to get, and when, and how? For many years we have been talking about the three interlocking circles of our interest with the Commonwealth, with Europe, and with the United States of America, but it seems to me that trade and industry, finance and people have not moved all that freely in those areas. Is it not time we began to talk to the United States of America about making those three circles one? To quote the Labour Party pamphlet again: Apart from the other members of the Commonwealth and the small Scandinavian social democracies, America is closest to Britain in political outlook and cultural tradition. Indeed, the Commonwealth itself could not survive a break between Britain and America. Canada belongs to the dollar world and not to the sterling area. Australia and New Zealand depend more on America than Britain for their defence. Not only British security in the short run but also the Commonwealth plan for mutual aid in the long run depend on American support. The question for any British Government is, therefore, not whether to work with the United States, but how to work with her most effectively. What are the alternatives to such a policy for the United Kingdom and for Western Europe? There appear to be four. The first one is associated with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who would like to cut down our re-armament and turn us into a leader of a "Third Force," which, I submit, may well become a third-rate feebleness ready for the sickle. The second alternative is divided into three parts—those who want us to turn purely to our own Commonwealth, those who want us to turn only to Europe, and those who would like to combine both Europe and the Commonwealth in a "Third Force."

I submit that they, too, forget that Canada is a member of the dollar bloc, and that the surplus food and raw materials which we have to have this side of the Atlantic, to keep ourselves and our factories going, are on the other side of the Atlantic. If the Commonwealth did turn on itself and build itself up as a single, balanced, economic whole it would take decades of work and vast capital which only the United States of America possesses, and even if time were on our side, and even if we got aid in those interim years, what an unnecessary duplication of the food and raw materials which are already available to the Western world.

The third alternative is migration from this island populated, as it is, with 50 million people. However, migration in a hurry may be so much worse than the migration 100 years ago from the Irish famine; and migration that is planned requires a vast amount of capital. The fourth alternative is that we should jog along as best we can in this country with semi-austerity, either by controls, or by extra effort due to overtime, or by extra effort due to longer basic hours. It is the same picture seen from different angles, and some say that we should be lucky to have only semi-austerity.

There was an article written the other day in the "Liverpool Daily Post," which said: Unless masses of people are prepared to co-operate in the acceptance of some unpleasant measures, and to put forward greater and, in some cases, more honest effort at their work, widespread unemployment, acute shortages of essential supplies, and other evils will be unavoidable. What about the United States of America? What are the alternatives for her? Further Marshall Aid? Further loans which will be unrepayable? Or will she turn inwards on herself, use her vast resources for great schemes of capital development in the Missouri basin or elsewhere? The "Daily Express" last Monday reported Michael Hoffman, writing in the "New York Times," thus: If the United States continues to violate the terms of G.A.T T. … she must expect Britain and other countries to turn to trading on an independent basis protected by higher tariffs. Britain, Canada and others have made it equally plain that they will revert to a policy of every man for himself in international trade unless the United States faces the fact squarely that the world's largest creditor country cannot continue to conduct its commercial policy as if it were more important to save the blue cheese industry' than to prevent the spread of chaos and despair in the non-Communist world. Dean Acheson has recognised this. Such policy would mean less world trade and that, in spite of past generosity and the fine vision of the United States, a wedge would be pushed by the Russians between the two great English-speaking communities.

Much action has of recent years been taken the other side of the Atlantic to urge an Atlantic community. Two years ago the Canadian Senate, with only one dissentient vote, passed a resolution urging a convention to consider federal union. Senator Kefauver in the United States Senate, supported by one-third of the Senate and more than 100 members of Congress, tabled a similar resolution and General Marshall has added his name to those who urge an Atlantic Union. By Article X of the North Atlantic Treaty the parties may invite any other European State in a position to further the principle of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Already, one of the partners is geographically, if not culturally, more in Asia than in Europe and surely the door should be left wide open for Australia and New Zealand and for our friends in South Africa or, for that matter, any nation that achieves a Western standard of living and accepts the quality of the free way of life. In what is no more than a wink of history much has been done. Sovereignties have been merged in S.H.A.P.E. and other commands, but much remains to be achieved. Further powers will have to be delegated, the powers limited, I submit, to defence, foreign policy and broad economic policy.

Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)

Having heard the hon. Member with so much agreement as to a large part of his speech, may I ask if I understand him to be arguing in favour of a form of federation in which, if I understood him, India—in favour of other Commonwealth countries—was not envisaged as a possible member?

Mr. Tilney

The door must be left open to those who achieve the Western standard of living and would be an agreeable partner and India has to decide herself whether she wants to come in. I believe it can be done by mutual agreement but, above all, we want the Western standard of living and the quality of life. May I quote Queen Juliana in a great speech she made at our own Guildhall not so very long ago: London is a democratic federation of many boroughs. We can imagine her soon as herself also being a borough of Europe, comprising both sides of the North Sea. Alone we fail, together we win.

Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)

I also agree with a great part of what the hon. Member has been saying, but surely he does not really mean what he has just said twice, namely, that it is the standard of living of a country which should be the criterion of whether it is entitled to enter into this partnership. He said that twice. Surely he does not mean it.

Mr. Tilney

Surely if one takes on a partner it must be a partner whose community and standard of living is in reasonable balance, and if we can achieve the Atlantic community, as I hope to see very shortly, the help we can give to the undeveloped countries will be incomparably greater than any help we can give now. After all, London is a collection of boroughs. Just because the L.C.C. elections go one way, Chelsea and Westminster still retain their Tory councils. I suggest that we should endeavour to achieve a two-tier system of government between the nations.

There are also other questions to consider. Should there be regular meetings of the partners much more frequently than at present? What about the headquarters, which may ultimately well be the common capital? Should that be in one particular country or possibly mobile in a great fleet of ships? Should there be a common consultative assembly backed by the votes of the people. Should there be N.A.T.O. passports or a N.A.T.O. bank to carry out an expansionist monetary policy to develop the vast untapped resources of our lands?

Finally, pending a world government, which for many a decade is likely to be unobtainable, let us protect, strengthen and expand the quality of the western third of the world. Let the riches, which the coming together of that third will achieve—I think this may answer the question of the hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo)—spill over in a super Colombo Plan into the buffer States which will divide us from the Communist world. Thus, as in the reign of the first Elizabeth new worlds were opened up, so let the vigour of the Atlantic brotherhood be the greatest glory of the second Elizabethan age.

3.12 p.m.

Mr. Edwin Leather (Somerset, North)

I beg to second the Motion.

I shall endeavour to cover very much the same ground as was covered by my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) in the forceful speech with which he moved the Motion, but I hope to do so from a point of view that may present these problems to the House in yet another light. My hon. Friend has dealt with great clarity with the economic, social and political problems which arise out of the present conflict between nations. I do not necessarily mean the military conflict because there are conflicting interests even between the allies in N.A.T.O.

All these things hinge finally on the question of defence. Unless we can be peaceful, unless we can feel that we have security, all our planning, ideas and ideals are just so many ideas and nothing more. At this moment there are many social reforms and improvements which we in all parts of the House would like to carry out. The only reason we cannot do so is because security, the danger of war, must be a prior consideration, and on that we are almost entirely agreed. The same fact applies to all the Western nations.

I know that many hon. Members in the House are afraid of an idea which they interpret as being a sort of exclusive Anglo-American alliance, but surely no fact in history has ever been more clear than that the peace of the world depends on this country and the United States. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Dominions?"] The peace of every country, including all the Dominions of the Commonwealth, depends entirely on this country and the United States. Unless these two great nations can work together the outlook for France, Belgium, Holland, India or Canada is indeed black. Surely that fact is so clear that it does not need to be argued.

My hon. Friend dealt with various possible alternatives. I wish for a few moments to deal with one, the question of the Commonwealth. My Commonwealth connections and my devotion to the Commonwealth is, I hope, well known. But I am a disappointment to many of my strong Imperialist friends, because I refuse to say that the British Empire can stand by itself against the world. It just cannot, and everyone knows it cannot. I implore those people, particularly my hon. Friends, who are so keen on the Commonwealth, to face the fact that if we try to build up any kind of exclusive Commonwealth bloc we shall immediately drive Canada out of the Commonwealth tomorrow and I have the greatest suspicion that we should drive out India, Pakistan and Ceylon as well.

Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)

Those of us who are interested in the Empire, as is my hon. Friend, do not wish to make it an exclusive bloc, but we want to take all steps as quickly as possible to cement it much more closely before going on to a wider sphere.

Mr. Leather

If I thought there was the slightest possibility of that being practical in any of the Dominions I have mentioned I would support my hon. Friend, but my experience, having lived in the Dominions, leads me to believe that that possibility does not exist.

We have, therefore, turned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as the rock of our hope. That organisation is guided by Lord Ismay, in whom everyone in the House has reason to have the most tremendous faith and confidence. But the noble Lord cannot produce miracles, and neither can the organisation over which he has been called to preside.

I believe we have arrived at the position where everything practical under the present Administration has been done, and that progress has been held back over the last year or two—despite all the efforts, all the good will and all the work which has been put into it—largely because of a barrier which has dropped in the minds of people. Under a system or rigid national sovereignty, such as we have ben brought up to understand, I suggest that N.A.T.O. has gone about as far as it is possible to go. Immediately anyone wants to go a little further somebody uses the dreadful words, "This man is a Federalist."

Up to a year or two ago one scarcely dared to use the word "federation" in polite society in this country. It was looked upon as being something which was not talked about. I am not preaching federation or all that implies at the moment. What I am saying is that the fear of what is inside federation is so great in our minds that it is the principal stumbling block to further progress. I have stated that I believe that unless progress is made in the things which make up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, unless we can go further, we shall not achieve security.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree dealt with the threat to our standard of living, our vast Budget, and taxation and wastage of resources. But it still does not produce the result which we so passionately long to produce. We have many common economic organisations and arrangements. We have arrangements to share our financial burdens, plans to try to control the inflationary results of re-armament, and plans to allocate scarce raw materials. But it is fair to say, with great respect particularly to right hon. Members on both sides of this House who have devoted so many hours of labour to this in the last two years, that, so far, the results are most disappointing. We have more committees than a dog has fleas, but the results are very disappointing.

So my summary of my case thus far is this. Our peace—and the prosperity and happiness of all ordinary people depends on peace—depends on strength. Strength depends upon the unity of effort of the North Atlantic countries, and that unity of effort depends on common instruments for carrying out that effort. That, I submit, is the stage we have now reached. The moment we come to face up to any common instrument of policy the federation bogy comes up and we become bogged down in a mass of pious resolutions which we have been talking and arguing about from one international conference to another for the better part of two precious, vital years.

May I deal for one moment with what I call the great sovereignty argument? May I submit to the House, as a very young and inexperienced Member, a definition of sovereignty as I understand it? It is not the act of having a will of one's own, but in having the power to execute that will. That is the Victorian meaning of sovereignty, the conception we were all taught in school, and I say that by that definition there is no country in the world which has sovereignty today at all, certainly not, I regret to say, the United Kingdom.

It is so easy to stand up on a soap box and say, "In 1917, or whenever it was, we stood alone, and we will do it again," but such a thing does not make much sense. Every decision which our Government try to make, whether it be a Conservative Government or a Labour Government, is bound to be rigidly limited by the facts of life as they exist in other countries. The sovereign will of this House, in the sense in which it has been interpreted in the last century, does not exist. Every single decision we want to take, even in our own domestic affairs, is bounded by something which has happened in India, Persia, or Moscow or the United States.

Sovereignty in the sense we understood it, and in a sense which is still held in some quarters, does not, in my view exist any longer. Therefore, when someone says, "If you have a common budget or a common defence policy or a common foreign policy you will have to give up some of your sovereignty," that does not worry me in the slightest, because my understanding is that sovereignty in that sense has not existed for a great many years in any case. I am being asked to give up something which I do not value very highly because, in my view, it does not exist.

My hon. Friend referred to a lack of knowledge about N.A.T.O. in this country. Sovereignty is largely defended by politicians who say, "The people would not stand for a joint organisation. People would not stand for going into some kind of group in which one could be out-voted by the Americans or the French or somebody else." I do not think people have ever been asked whether they would stand for it or not, and I cannot, therefore, accept that argument. The subject has been very little discussed in this country.

In any event, if the views of the people, and that very important thing, public opinion, are out of line with the facts in this atomic age, then the duty of politicians is not to say, "We are sorry; we can do nothing." If we become honestly convinced that considerable changes, which are perhaps unpopular, must be made, surely it is our duty to speak out and say so. I recall frequently an aphorism of Lord Beveridge, who said, "When you are living in revolutionary times you must think in revolutionary terms."

We are living in revolutionary times. When I was up at Oxford during the war I studied under Lionel Curtis, who was the great prophet of so much that we are saying today. He was regarded as a wild visionary, but already much which he advocated has happened. Who, five years ago, would have suggested that we should have the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on its present basis? Who, five years ago, would have suggested that this House would have agreed to the signing of Article II of the North Atlantic Treaty?

We have had great changes in the last five years, and I believe it is not visionary or unrealistic to suggest that we must now grasp this nettle. We must say that we are not particularly worried whether it is called federal or functional or anything else. We must build up common instruments of policy among the North Atlantic countries if we are to preserve peace, on which the happiness and prosperity of all the peoples of this world depend.

3.25 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)

I am quite sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree with me when I say it is most regrettable that a vitally important subject such as we are discussing this afternoon should be confined to the small space of about one and a half hours. Therefore, knowing the interest of other hon. Members in this subject, I only propose to speak for three or four minutes.

I approach this subject from the particular point of view of those who are interested in, perhaps, the longer term concept of world federation. I support and welcome the terms of this Motion because it is based upon the concept of co-operation between nations, although only a limited number of nations. When we look round the world today and realise the fact, as we must do, that we are living in a welter of power politics and that most of the nations of the world are arming as fast as they can, we must realise that if our civilisation is to be saved we must, sooner or later, evolve an alternative to the present relationships between nations.

I suggest to the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather), that, apart from fine distinctions as to how far we have surrendered sovereignty, if the nations of the world are going to evolve to a situation based upon world law and justice, they must be ready to accept some abridgement of sovereignty, even to the extent of not reserving to themselves the right as to when they will take part in a war.

But what we are discussing in this Motion is something of a much more limited nature. The hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) carried me with him, as I think he did some of my colleagues, until he introduced the suggestion that there must be a dividing line based upon the achievement of Western standards of living. Let us consider the position. The economists have estimated that the average family income per year in the United States is £400, in the United Kingdom, £200, and in Asia as low as £20. Are we to wait until the people of India, Burma, Pakistan, China and the other countries in the Far East have evolved to higher economic standards before they qualify for membership of the partnership which the hon. Gentleman is proposing?

I am quite sure that would be fatal to the whole conception. It is something which could not possibly be accepted by hon. Members on this side, and, therefore, in so far as we welcome the Motion, it must be on the basis that those nations who qualify for membership should not be expected to have achieved the ideals of Western civilisation. The people of India are as proud of the ideals of their civilisation as we are of Western civilisation. The test should be freedom, the recognition of the rights of men, human rights, and a national society which encourages the fundamentals of a free life. It should not be based on a particular economic standard, and there must be no race, colour or religious qualification.

Mr. Tilney

Would the constituents of the right hon. and learned Gentleman welcome the competition of products of low paid labour?

Mr. Henderson

My constituents are already faced with that because the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that India and Pakistan are today members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I understood that what he was seeking to do was to include the United States of America and other members of N.A.T.O.

In conclusion, I want to enter the reservation that even if the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is turned into a North Atlantic Union, we shall still be faced with the fundamental problems of today. Instead of 64 separate nations, we may have 50 nations, plus the North Atlantic Union. It could be useful only on the basis of looking at it as a steppingstone towards the wider conception based upon union between all the nations of the world. It is on the basis that I, at any rate, regard it as a stepping-stone, not exclusive but open to any nation that can comply with the terms of membership, that I should like to extend my support to this proposal.

Mr. Leather

My hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) and I entirely agree with the last few words of the right hon. and learned Member's remarks. But if such an organisation as we envisage is built out of the North Atlantic Treaty, does the right hon. and learned Member believe for one moment that the Indians and Pakistanis will want to join? I do not think they will.

Mr. Henderson

Perhaps it would be well to leave it for them to decide.

Mr. Leather

That is entirely our view.

3.31 p.m.

Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)

I want to make just two short points. The first has reference to the sea of trouble into which my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) not unnaturally entered with his point with regard to the Asians, a point which was taken up, I think very rightly by hon. Members opposite. I think that from the point of view of this House there need not be any great difference of opinion about this at all, because it emphasises what I regard as the second important point—the means by which one can join together in the ultimate objective the Asian and the European.

On the first point the hon. Member for Reading South (Mr. Mikardo) has an extremely clear mind on these kind of problems, because they are organisational problems, and he will see the dilemma in which one necessarily is. Either one has to have a limited club, limited to "the haves," or an unlimited club in which there is perfect protection of "the haves" from the overwhelming voting possibilities of "the have nots." One cannot put the clock on 700 or 800 years in one night at any stage in history. In world government we must go through the same embryonic stages as we went through in the development of democracy in national government; and in world government we must recognise whether we are in the time of King John or King Charles I, or where precisely we are at the present moment.

But we are in this dilemma—and now I come back to my first point—of the good and the better being inevitably in conflict. I join with the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) in welcoming this Motion, because I think it is good. It is necessarily to a certain extent in conflict with the better, because I think all of us in this House—and I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree and my hon. Friend and good neighbour the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather) share this view—believe the long-term objective is the one for which we really wish.

3.35 p.m

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)

At this hour I want only to make a few very general, but I hope practical, comments on the subjects which have been raised. We all agree that today the supreme importance of N.A.T.O. as a factor in securing peace for our generation and in our troubled, war-torn world is in its function of defence—a collective, international defence against aggression. We have still very much to do to make it effective for that purpose.

But I think propaganda is very badly needed to make people understand that the North Atlantic Treaty is not a power bloc or a military alliance of the old kind. It is very dangerous to drift into the implicit acceptance of that view. The Russians are not so entitled to regard it. Is it conceivable that Canada, Denmark and Norway would have signed it and be members, if it had been signed with the intention of justifying or allowing an attack on Russia? It is not a power bloc. We do not want to settle anything by power. We only want to prevent aggressive power from settling things wrongly, from destroying the independence of nations and snuffling out their rights.

With that great purpose in view, it is right to put our full strength behind it at the present time; but I agree with the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who moved this Motion, that we cannot look at Europe only. We must not make the Locarno mistake again. Do not let us forget that, on the false doctrine that the Rhine was our frontier, we destroyed the Geneva Protocol and made Locarno; we refused a guarantee of the Eastern frontier of Germany and the Polish Frontier, which perhaps would have brought us disarmament and peace; and in 1939 we gave a guarantee to Poland in disastrous circumstances.

The lesson which I draw from that is this: That security is a world problem. We know it, of course, because of our interest in the Middle East, in the Far East and in South East Asia. While we are building up N.A.T.O., we must not give less support to the political and judicial institutions of the United Nations. We must not give them less ministerial time and effort. We must not compromise the law and sound practice of these institutions; and I say that, if I may, with a recent decision on Tunisia in mind.

I want to deal in one minute with some broader considerations about the economic questions raised by the hon. Member for Wavertree and his supporters. They were right in saying that the Atlantic Powers could do much to help each other and the world at the present time. Military strength is built on economic strength. The hon. Member for Wavertree was right to stress the gravity of what happens, if the United States of America takes wrong tariff action. Marshall Aid increased European production, with the major object of increasing Europe's dollar exports. Denmark builds up an export trade in cheese to the United States; then the United States puts on a quota to cut it down. That has disastrous results, both to Denmark and to themselves. That is directly undoing their own work of civil aid to Europe, and it is imperilling the effect of their military aid as well.

And, again, I say that while the members of N.A.T.O. can do much to help each other and to help the world, it is still time that our main economic problems—the development of the backward countries, the prevention of slumps, the increase of food supplies and the increase of raw materials on which we so specially depend, can only be dealt with by world policy and world action through a world system. Whatever we may do through N.A.T.O., we must also continue to give our full support—all our strength—to building up action through the economic system of the United Nations, through the International Bank, the Monetary Fund, I.L.O., the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the rest. Again, may I say, that Ministers have very much to do to see that these institutions work now as they really should.

3.39 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)

The House is indeed indebted to the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) for bringing forward this Motion which, I am happy to say, Her Majesty's Government fully accept.

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. With great respect to the hon. Gentleman whose speech I am interrupting, may I ask what protection you can offer to the House on Private Members' day when three Front Bench speakers have already intervened in a discussion of a little over an hour in length, upon a matter on which it is vitally important that the Government should hear back bench opinion.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order for me.

Mr. Nutting

I thought perhaps the House might wish to know what the views of Her Majesty's Government were upon the Motion, which we consider to be of the very greatest importance, but, in deference to hon. Gentlemen opposite, I will be as brief as I can to try to enable other hon. Members to join in this most important debate.

The second part of the Motion asks for: … every endeavour to bring about a closer partnership, economically and politically, among the North Atlantic Powers and any other nation which practises the concepts and ideals of Western civilisation. Two things strike me about this part of the Motion, first, that it calls for a closer partnership in the political and economic spheres, and, second, that it goes out of its way not to exclude any other nation whose policies and performance are based upon the concepts of Western civilisation.

On the first aspect, the House will recall that the North Atlantic Treaty Council declared at Lisbon that the N.A.T.O. partnership: … exists not for defence alone but for enduring progress. It went on to: … look forward to the time when the main energies of their association may be less concentrated on defence and more fully devoted to co-operation in other fields for the well-being of their peoples and the advance of human progress … so that N.A.T.O. may become a still more effective association of like-minded nations, determined to maintain in peace the unity of purpose and effort achieved in the face of present dangers and to express itself by continuous collaboration on common problems. My hon. Friend has reminded the House that Articles 2 and 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty bind the contracting parties to seek the elimination of economic conflicts and to encourage and foster mutual aid and economic collaboration. It is along these lines that we wish to see the North Atlantic community developed.

It is, of course, quite true, as several hon. Gentlemen have said, and as the North Atlantic Treaty Council in Lisbon recognised, that common dangers requiring common military measures brought the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation into being, and, of course, so long as the threat of aggression continues, mutual defence must be the paramount aim and purpose of N.A.T.O.

But defence cannot be isolated from other fields of activity, and I submit that defence against Communism, in particular, must be based on sound economic and social foundations. This need has led to the organisation within N.A.T.O. of the structure known as the Temporary Council Committee whose purpose has been to reconcile the military needs of N.A.T.O. as a whole with the economic capacities of its individual members. Thus, practical co-operation in defence has spread its tentacles in all directions, so that we see developing within the Atlantic community not just an alliance for specific military purposes, here today and maybe gone tomorrow should the threat of war recede, but, in the words of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary: … a permanent association … setting the pattern for the future of political life in the free world. It was in the spirit of this recognition by the N.A.T.O. countries of the need for co-operation in spheres wider than the purely military sphere that the Atlantic Community Committee for co-operation in non-defence matters was founded at Ottawa last year, in the days of the late Government.

This Committee has drawn up recommendations for study of several of the problems on which my hon. Friend touched. They include: first, more political co-ordination and consultation on foreign policy; second, the possibilities and problems of moving labour and eliminating manpower shortages within the N.A.T.O. area; third, social and cultural co-operation, educational exchanges, exchanges and travel of students and so on; and, fourth, the means of giving greater publicity to the aims and achievements of the Atlantic association, particularly in these non-military spheres.

Let me now turn to the other striking aspect of the Motion, that N.A.T.O. should not exclude other nations whose policies and purposes are based on concepts of Western civilisation. N.A.T.O. is not a closed society. This fact has been demonstrated only last February when Turkey and Greece were admitted as new members. More may come, though I think the House will agree with me that we do not want to rush the growth of this association, which must be regarded, in the words of my right hon. Friend in the House on 5th February, as intimate but not exclusive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th February, 1952; Vol. 495, C. 821.] At the same time we must, of course, have regard to the administrative and the military problems involved in new members, and we must beware of weakening the organisation by spreading its commitments too far and thereby causing it to become unwieldy. None of this—and I agree here with the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker)—makes N.A.T.O. inconsistent with the United Nations. The North Atlantic Treaty is based on the United Nations Charter, and I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation must not be regarded as solving any problem by power. It threatens no one. N.A.T.O. is in no way precluded from maintaining friendly relations with all States seeking freedom and peace and from welcoming the co-operation of all those whose aims are similar to ours.

Hence, I submit that we can safely feel that our membership of the Atlantic Association is in no way incompatible with our Commonwealth partnership, nor does it detract from our ability and desire to maintain the closest association with our friends and neighbours in Western Europe. On the contrary, it is surely through N.A.T.O. that we can best fulfil our duties towards those three great associations which history and geography have woven around us—the British Commonwealth and Empire, Western Europe and the Anglo-American association.

I said at the outset that N.A.T.O. has achieved much. Perhaps I may now say a word or two about those achievements. Since the Treaty was signed three years ago the progress which has followed it has been remarkable. Confidence is swiftly returning in Western Europe as its defences increase. Already the foundations have been laid for real cohesion and common action in the future. It would be hard to exaggerate how much of the credit for all this is due to General Eisenhower, a man of the highest international status, whose vision, foresight, energy and determination have given inspired leadership in defence of freedom in two critical periods in our history.

General Eisenhower has now been called to other duties, being succeeded by General Ridgway, a most distinguished officer and comrade in arms of British forces in the Second World War, whose appointment we warmly welcome, and in whose aptitude for the immense responsibilities of the high office which he is called upon to undertake we have the fullest confidence. But, as General Eisenhower has himself said, it would be disastrous if the favourable signs and developments in N.A.T.O.'s growth were to put any mind at ease or to create a sense of adequate security, because there is no real security yet achieved in Europe. There is only a beginning. The House I am sure will agree with this warning.

N.A.T.O. has but made a start in the long and arduous task of rebuilding its defensive strength and much remains to be done. That it can be done and that we can achieve real security in Europe is without doubt, provided the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation continues to uphold the high ideals which have animated its growth and development over the past three years and continues also to the utmost possible extent to devote its energy and resources to the fulfilment of the North Atlantic defence programme.

This is a unique and unprecedented effort in international co-operation. No previous alliance in peace or war has ever produced so imaginative and revolutionary an organisation. An Atlantic army with an integrated headquarters in Europe, composed of officers of all the North Atlantic Treaty countries and with British, American and Canadian forces stationed on the Continent in peace time; planning on an international basis in rearmament and defence, with production programmes worked out in common and all measures co-ordinated among the nations, in order to obtain the maximum security with the minimum of dislocation; at the political level, frequent exchanges of views on matters of common interest ranging over world-wide issues, obtained by regular meetings of Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers, and by the Council of Permanent Representatives now in session in Paris. At the base of this whole common effort lies the generous and far-sighted financial assistance of the United States Government and people.

What a revolution indeed, in international action and co-operation. I am convinced that if we keep faith with these great and imaginative purposes, we can achieve not only security against aggression but the more distant, yet fundamental aim of British policy, a peaceful and prosperous Atlantic community.

3.53 p.m.

Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Yardley)

We are all indebted to the Under-Secretary of State for having cut short—as I assume he did—his brief. I am reminded that almost exactly two years ago a debate just like this was initiated, that some of us spoke who have spoken today, and that an almost identical reply was given by the then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. On both occasions the speech welcomed what had been done and argued that great changes were being effected. Neither of those speeches noted that the change that we all want to effect is the abolition of foreign offices altogether. This is the time to end policies altogether.

The Under-Secretary of State said something which was extremely significant. He said that under N.A.T.O. we were seeking the maximum of security with the minimum of dislocation. I agree, but the people of the world require a great deal more security and are prepared for a good deal more political dislocation in order to get it. What kind of political dislocation do we require?

That question brings me to two points, which are all that I have time to make now. There is the question of partnership and the question of the partners. I am sure that we all agree with the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) that a form of international partnership has to be created which will be much more effective than that which obtains today. What he did not say was precisely how we are to get that partnership, what it means, to what extent it involves radical changes in what we enjoy today, and what price we have to pay.

His hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather) made a much more specific speech, and much more clearly indicated what was in his mind. He said that he was not a federalist, and went on to say that it was somewhat disreputable in these days to use that phrase. Why on earth it is disreputable, I cannot understand. I am an unashamed federalist. What I hope to see, and what I think is an urgent necessity, is the creation of a supranational legislature which can make the common policy which integrated nations require to be made.

Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)

Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that, for instance, the Birmingham City Council should come under the London County Council?

Mr. Usborne

No, but what it does mean in that analogy is that the Birmingham City Council gives up sovereignty in certain spheres to the Parliament at Westminster, and my constituents in Birmingham do not deny that that is a good thing. What I am now suggesting, continuing the analogy, is that the citizens of Birmingham who now have two Parliaments—the Birmingham Municipal Council and the national Parliament here at Westminster—would be wise to have a third, a supra-national Parliament, and to elect yet a third series, of international representatives, to make a common policy not only for the people in Birmingham and Great Britain but also for the people in many other countries.

In order to get that done, we had better admit that we want to create a federal legislature. There is nothing disreputable in that. By definition, a federal legislature is merely one that operates in a defined sphere and has only certain limited powers which probably have not been written in a constitution. That has to be done, and the sooner it is admitted, the sooner it will be done. Unless that is done, history will continue as it has done in the last decade or two. History shows that governments are prepared to enter into all sorts of agreements, and pride themselves on the complexity and the value of those agreements, provided that there is no way of making sure that they observe them.

We want to create some system by which policy, having been made, is en-forcible; by which laws for the common good of the peoples of the federated nations, having been made, are enforced. I believe that the hon. Member for Wavertree, although he did not say so specifically, realises that.

What are the nations and peoples who ought to be joined in this way? What are the groups of nations that need to have a common policy, that need to have a common system of security? I understand that the mover and seconder of this Motion feel that at present there is a limited number of nations which are fit for this kind of partnership and that it should be based first on the 14 nations of N.A.T.O. and then on one or two others who have practically the same standard of living and the same cultural background. The seconder argued that this was apparently a wise thing, because the alternative, to build up the Commonwealth, was inadequate since, if he tried to do so, we should probably lose Canada which is in the dollar area.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Bucks, South)

The hon. Gentleman speaks about losing the Commonwealth; how does he think we could retain the structure of the Empire if we entered into a federal Europe?

Mr. Usborne

I am not suggesting that we enter into a federal Europe. I am suggesting that we enter into a federal world, which is much more important, and I want to get as many nations into it from the start as I can. I do not think it is wise to assume that the thing should start merely with the N.A.T.O. countries. I do not think it can be done. It is much more important to get a system which combines as many nations as possible and ultimately is open to all nations on equal terms, which is designed to make world law enforcible and to provide security for the people who come into it.

It is absolutely essential that when that is created all the members of the British Commonwealth shall come in together. This means India, Ceylon and Pakistan if they can be persuaded to come in. Because to try to set up an exclusive union, leaving those out, would be to try to get an illusory strength and, in fact, to lose much more than we could gain.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House will support every effort to propagate a much wider knowledge among the British public of the social and economic as well as the purely defensive aims of the North Atlantic Treaty; and will use every endeavour to bring about a closer partnership, economically and politically, among the North Atlantic Treaty Powers and any other nation which practices the concepts and ideals of Western civilisation.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.]