§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Dalton (Bishop Auckland)
I rise to call attention to the supply of jet aircraft by Her Majesty's Government to certain countries in the Middle East and to urge that this should stop. The reasons for this argument I will develop briefly.
We hear talk of the need to provide for the collective defence of the Middle East. I presume that the Government will argue that the supply of jet aircraft to these Powers is promoting that end. But I submit that such a phrase as "collective defence of the Middle East" can have no real meaning so long as the present state of tension continues between Israel on the one hand and the Arab States on the other. Indeed, it is only too dangerously likely that aircraft supplied to any of these States at this time will be thought of—whatever may be said—primarily in terms of those neighbours of theirs with whom their relations are not good. Therefore, I submit that the supply of these weapons at this time is likely to increase rather than to diminish the tension.
It appears to me that our first duty in this field is to do all we can to reduce tension between Israel and the Arab States, and to seek to help in the solution of such problems as the resettlement of Arab refugees about which there was such a very interesting and well-informed article in "The Times" yesterday and to encourage, not the competitive armament of those States but rather their economic development and, through their own efforts and with our assistance, to raise the living standards which are now miserably low throughout all that area.
It is now more than four years since the present frontiers between Israel and her neighbours were provisionally fixed, at the end of a war. Her Majesty's Government are committed by the ThreePower declaration of May, 1950, along with the United States and France, to protect those frontiers against violations 1072 or aggressions from either side. The actual terms of the declaration by the United States, the French and ourselves are as follows:The three Governments take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest in, and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of, peace and stability in the area, and their unalterable opposition to the use of force between any of the States in that area. The three Governments, should they find that any of these States was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.That is very fair, very emphatic and very right, and it means that we have a very particular interest, so long as the present tension continues, in maintaining a low level of armament in all these States. The fewer weapons of war they have for the present the better, and it might, in some conditions, be the better for us.
Frontier incidents have been causing great concern to all who are interested in the area, and they have lately been growing. Tension has not been diminishing, but has been rising. We all deplore these frontier incidents. They are partly due to the drawing of a frontier which is no more than an armistice line when fighting ceased. Could we only get reasonable relations between these two nations, a number of comparatively small changes in both directions could be made in the existing lines which would diminish tension and the risk of incidents. That cannot be done so long as there is no effective relationship between Israel on the one hand and the Arab States on the other, which still refuse to recognise diplomatically the existence of the State of Israel at all.
The incidents have come from both sides. They have included the blowing up by Arabs of an Israeli railway line and a goods train, the bombardment by Israelis of two Arab villages, the infiltration, as the word is, by a number of Arabs both from the Gaza strip and from Jordan who have pillaged Israeli settlements, carried off pipes intended to irrigate the Negev and, in other ways, have done damage in Israeli territory. It is easy to multiply and extend the long list of these incidents, which Her Majesty's Government should be using all their influence to seek means to diminish. In 1073 particular, we should be trying to get better liaison on the Israel-Jordan frontier, through representatives police or military as the case may be—of the two Governments.
I shall not say any more about Egypt. We have had a few words about her just now. But Egypt is still regarded as the leading Power in the Arab League Therefore, upon Egypt, in that capacity of leadership, there falls an especially heavy responsibility for the continuance of this state of war, as the Egyptians still declare it is. We have considerable grievances ourselves in this matter, because for years the Egyptians have continued to interfere with shipping, including our shipping, passing through the Suez Canal.
I wish this afternoon to discuss this problem in terms of actualities of this moment and not unduly to pursue either long-range prophecies or backward looks into history, but the right hon. Gentleman did protest very strongly—and rightly I thought—against Egyptian action in regard to shipping passing through the Canal and the present Prime Minister spoke even more strongly on the subject. Anyone who cares to turn up the debate of 30th July, 1951, will find that the present Prime Minister spoke in terms of great warmth and indignation against Egyptian action:In breach of this armistice the Egyptians have closed the Suez Canal... In breach of the armistice the Suez Canal was closed to all passage of tankers to the Haifa refinery." — [OFFICIAL REPORT. 30th July. 1951: Vol. 491. c. 985.]The right hon. Gentleman went on to develop that. That blockade is still going on and I must say that in these conditions I do not think Egypt is a suitable recipient for further weapons of war from this country at this time, particularly as there still remain evident ambiguities in the arrangements which the right hon. Gentleman has been making with them in regard to the Sudan.
I now turn to speak of the Arab refugees. Here is an intensely human and very large problem affecting at least three quarters of a million people and perhaps nearly a million, living in most deplorable conditions, breeding in the midst of misery and without hope. Their number is steadily increasing by the excess of births over deaths. the deaths 1074 being diminished by United Nations medical agencies performing miracles in this environment. The United Nations have done a very fine job for which we should all be very grateful, but surely this cannot be continued without a serious effort being made to give these people new hope and a new life. Evidently, what is required is that there should be large-scale and persistent efforts at the resettlement of these unhappy people in some place they may call their own.
Spokesmen of certain of the Arab States still speak of repatriation as the solution of the refugee problem, but this is a cruel deception as applied to the great mass of refugees. It could only come about if the State of Israel were to be destroyed—if the Israelis were to be massacred, or driven into the sea. I assume that no hon. Member in any part of the House wishes to see that sort of solution. Therefore, we must exclude totally the solution of repatriation
except perhaps for a small minority for the great mass of these refugees.
I will come in a moment to positive proposals, but there is too much dangerous talk in the Arab States by leading statesmen of what they call a "second round" with Israel, in which they hope to reverse the military results of the war of 1948–49. Here I merely repeat that the United States, France and ourselves are pledged to prevent any such second round. We are committed by the Declaration I have read to resist egression from either side. Ibis is not a time to supply jet planes to this area. They might indeed be used not only by Arab States against Israel, but also against troops, or air or other forces, of our own and of the United States or France entering into that area in order to prevent aggression under the Declaration of 1950.
I now turn to the more positive side of what should be sought to be done for these refugees.
§ Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the point about the supply of aircraft, will he explain why two years ago, when the situation was far worse, his Government were supplying spares to keep such aircraft in the air?
§ Mr. Dalton
I was deliberately not wanting to hide under the skirts of history as so many people do when embarrassed on one side or the other in modern political discussion. I said I wished to consider this matter in terms of the actual situation existing today. I was not trying to score debating points from the past, although I have mentioned what the present Prime Minister once said. I do not wish to be side-tracked from a serious discussion by a lot of polemical reminiscences, the net result of which is usually unsatisfactory to all who participate in them. Let us talk about the resettlement of refugees.
I should like to quote with approval a statement made by a noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, who was once in this House. Speaking for the United Kingdom delegation at the United Nations on 4th December last, in the Political Committee, he said:the United Kingdom representative has already said that in his opinion a majority of the refugees would find a happier and more stable home amongst their Arab brethren. But so long as there had been no definitive settlement of the Palestine question those refugees would continue to live in a state of uncertainty. Would their future not be brighter if they were helped to settle in a country whose inhabitants were of the same race, the same culture and the same religions as they? Of course. they were entitled to fair and full compensation for the property they had left in Palestine.So spoke Lord Llewellin, and I wholly agree with him. It is on that plane, in my judgment, that this problem should be discussed. I very much regret that so far the rulers of the Arab States have not been willing thus to discuss it.
I much regret—and here I come to the interruption of the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey)—that, as recently as last December, the Arab States refused and resisted the proposal made by Her Majesty's Government and other Governments in the United Nations to enter into direct negotiations with Israel without commitments or conditions on either side. This proposal was supported by Her Majesty's Government here, by Her Majesty's Governments in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, by the United States, by France, by the Scandinavians and a number of other countries. This proposal had a majority but, unfortunately, not a twothirds majority, in the General Assembly.
1076 The reason for this was that massed against it were the Arab States, the Soviet bloc and certain Asian and South American countries. This failure to get direct negotiations started, and the state of mind it exposes among the rulers of the Arab States, is yet one more most topical argument—washing out much past history —against the supply of jet aircraft at this moment to the Arab States.
The continued tension between Israel and the Arab States is, of course, agreeable to the Soviet Union. Recently, in the breaking off of relations between the Soviet Union and Israel, the pretext was a bomb outrage at the Soviet Legation at Tel Aviv, which we must all deplore very much. But in my judgment that was only a pretext following a series of antiSemitic utterances and actions in Soviet Russia, and Czechoslovakia. Following the breaking off of relations in this way, the Soviet Union has come into line with the Arab States in refusing to recognise diplomatically the existence of the State of Israel. That, and any implications it may have, should be noted in passing.
Let me add that the Arab refugees, in their present condition, are the most fertile breeding ground for Communism that could well be imagined. Indeed, speaking broadly, it is the poverty of the massses in the Arab States which is one of the great encouragements to Communism in the Middle East, whereas, on the other hand, Communism in Israel, particularly lately, has become completely negligible, for obvious reasons.
§ Mr. W. Nally (Bilston)
If my right hon. Friend will forgive me for interrupting, will he bear in mind that the first great State to recognise the Government of Israel was the Soviet Union, and that the very Government that is now deploying the reverse argument deployed it the other way when the Soviet Union recognised the State of Israel? Will he also make it plain that it is hardly fair to blame the Arab States for the fact that three-quarters of a million refugees in Jordan are being denied access to their homes?
§ Mr. Dalton
My hon. Friend asked me to give way and I did so primarily because he challenged my statement that Communism in Israel is now negligible. That I reassert. I said that it would be surprising if it were otherwise. I am 1077 talking of the actual situation. With regard to the other point, my hon. Friend has no doubt been following attentively the course of my argument and will observe that I have taken account of the point he put to me. For the moment I am wishing to draw a few conclusions in the diplomatic field from the disruption of relations between Israel and the Soviet Union.
One word more about the May, 1950, Declaration. In that the three Powers said that they were strongly opposed to an arms race in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab States, but that is just what this policy of offering to sell planes to all of them will promote. As I understand, the offer that has been made to Israel and to each of the Arab States is that an equal number of jet planes may be supplied to each of them. If that is the proposal, it is bound not only to promote an arms race, but also to shift the balance of potential armed power heavily in favour of the Arab States as against Israel, because to each of the five Arab States will be offered the same number of jet planes as is being offered to Israel. That is how the matter has beer presented in the public Press, but no doubt the Minister of State will give precision to this point?
I submit that, far from encouraging this arms race at the present time, neither the Arab States nor Israel should be encouraged to spend their slender resources on this kind of weapon. I do not know what is the cost of a jet plane and I do not press for that to be told to us. If it could be thrown in as a piece of additional information it would be interesting, but it is at any rate a substantial sum, particularly for a poverty-stricken State. I submit that at this time we should be encouraging the Arab States and Israel to be spending their resources on raising the standards of living of their own people and resettling those who come into these countries, either because of persecution abroad or because they are refugees following on the events of the 1948–49 war.
I hope, therefore, that on further consideration the Government will not persist in their announced intention of supplying further jet planes to any of the States in this area. I repeat that I am speaking only of the present situation. It may well be that, if we should succeed in improving the relationship between Israel and the 1078 Arab States, a different attitude might be adopted and many of the present objections to this policy—not all, but a number of them—would fall away. As things are. I earnestly press upon the Government that at this time they should not supply jet aircraft to any of the Arab States or to the State of Israel, and I trust that the Government will be able to accede to this request.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) said at one stage of his speech that he did not intend to indulge in polemical reminiscences. I will try to meet him in the same spirit and to discuss this matter in the way in which he has discussed it.
It seems to me that there are a number of different factors to be considered when we are looking at the problem of selling arms to a certain part of the world. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned some of them, but he did not mention all of them by any means. The questions we should ask ourselves in looking at this matter are as follow: First, is this equipment required at home? Secondly, is the export worth while financially? Thirdly, will it strengthen the productive capacity at home? Fourthly, to what use will the purchasers put these arms? Fifthly, what will the consequences be if we do not supply them and, finally, will the transaction constitute a general increase in tension and the risk of war? Those are the questions which I shall seek to answer—
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
A question which interests me is this: if we do not supply them, can they get them from somebody else?
§ Mr. Lloyd
That was the fifth question I put forward: what would be the consequences if this country did not supply them?
Before I try to answer those questions —and I am not suggesting that any particular importance should be placed upon 1079 the order in which I try to answer them— there are two matters which I should make clear because they are matters of fact. What I am about to say will not be said in any spirit of reproach.
The numbers involved are extremely small. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwel1), former Minister of Defence, made perfectly clear, it is not the practice to reveal actual numbers with regard to these matters in this House. However, since this Government decided that we had some jets available for sale, we have sent to all the Middle East countries less than half the number sent by the previous Government to Egypt in 1950. That is a question of fact. There is this further consideration, that when the deliveries now contemplated are added to those already sent, the number sent to all the Arab States added together will still be less than the number supplied to Egypt in 1950.
The second consideration to which some hon. Members on the other side of the House will pay a certain amount of regard is that this is not a question of exports to the Arab States alone. Israel has also concluded a contract to purchase some of these aircraft. The right hon. Gentleman has asked me for an undertaking that no more shall be sent. I ask him, or at all events some of his friends, to have some regard to the consequences that would have upon the contract entered into with Israel.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North West)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman permit me to ask one question?
§ Mr. Lloyd
May I finish this point? It would mean that the Government of Israel would have no jet aircraft at all if we were to accede to the request of the right hon. Gentleman. Another effect of his request to the Government would mean a repudiation of our treaty obligation both to Iraq and Jordan.
§ Mr. Janner
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer a question which my right hon. Friend asked him? Would he tell us the proportion of aircraft which would be supplied to the whole of the Arab States as against Israel?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I will attempt to deal later with the question of parity. There are many considerations other than those of actual numbers. There are, for example, considerations of serviceability, technical skill, the capacity to keep the aircraft in the air, geography, and so on. It is not just a question of a mathematical formula.
I was pointing out the consequences if we were to accede to the right hon. Gentleman's request. First, there is the effect upon Israel. Secondly, a number of jets have gone to the Arab States and it would mean that the Israeli Air Force would not be able to make any acquaintance with this arm. It would also involve repudiating treaty obligations to at least two of the Arab States. It is impossible to generalise on our responsibilities to the Arab States, because we have very different relations with the various Arab States concerned.
Having made those few preliminary remarks—first of all as to numbers, which, as I say, I cannot reveal but I have given an indication of the problem; and secondly, the consequences upon Israel— I will now endeavour to answer the questions which I posed earlier. My first question was whether these aircraft were wanted at home. The answer is no; nor are they wanted for sale to any N.A.T.O. country. The House will recollect what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 4th December last year, when dealing with the consequences upon the defence programme of certain alterations:Some curtailment "—he was dealing with defence production—must therefore now be made. This will to some extent involve the cancellation or modification of contracts already placed. [Hon. Members: ' More unemployed.'] The firms concerned will be fully informed of these changes by the production Departments."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th December, 1952; Vol. 508. c. 1776.]The first matter is disposed of, in my submission. These aircraft are not required at home, nor are they required for other N.A.T.O. countries.
The second question is: are they a worthwhile export from our point of view? As the right hon. Gentleman has said, a modern jet fighter costs a great deal of money. It is not possible for me to give the exact figure, but I can tell him that it is a large sum of money. What 1081 is more, its conversion value is very high. The labour element in cost is very high indeed, and it is extremely important that we should get into these markets if we are to earn our living in the world. From the point of view of a worth-while export, it is very much to the economic advantage of this country to succeed in getting into these markets.
Thirdly, these sales will help to maintain our productive capacity at home. We all know that the real menace to the security of this country at present is the risk of Soviet aggression. That risk only recedes as we build up our strength to face it. That will not be a short business, and it does not need much imagination to realise that our potential enemies hope that we will tire of this process of building up our defences. To put them on an effective basis a very great demand has to be made upon our economy.
The only way to make that burden tolerable and, at the same time, to maintain productive capacity and a skilled labour force which will be adequate for an emergency if it comes is to sell part of our arms production abroad. That position has been made perfectly clear in defence debates in this House. A recent example of the consequences to which I am referring was given in the statement made to the Press by Sir Frank Spriggs on the sale of 70 aircraft to Brazil. He said that that would prevent 2,000 men being stood off for a period of six months. To keep our skilled labour force together for aircraft production is a very important factor indeed, and we cannot do that unless we sell a proportion of our arms production overseas.
On the three points which I have put so far, I submit that the case for continuing with these sales is overwhelming upon economic grounds, but I agree that there are political considerations and I want now to look at those considerations. The first question under this head—my fourth question in order—related to the use to which purchasers will put these weapons. Of course, it is possible that an attempt might be made to use these weapons against our own troops. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the contingency of us seeking to interfere and enforce a frontier peace between Israel and the Arab States. We do not believe that that is likely to happen, but the numbers involved are so small that the 1082 effect upon the security of our Forces would be negligible and I am advised that there is no real threat at all.
Those with knowledge of the balance of air power in the Middle East and of other relevant factors, which it would not be altogether wise of me to mention—I expect some hon. Members can guess what I am referring to—will know that the estimate to which I have given expression is a real one. I submit that that sort of consideration is quite different from the sale of something like a machine gun which can be conveniently used behind a hedge or from a window in a house. In my submission this weapon does not involve any real threat to our Forces.
Then I come to the next matter: will the weapons be used by the recipients for aggressive purposes against one another? Again, we do not believe that that will be the case. The right hon. Gentleman has already referred to the Tripartite Declaration of 25th May, 1950, and it is an extremely important document in this context. The right hon. Gentleman referred to paragraph 3. I will not re-read that paragraph because it makes quite clear the position of the Governments of the United States, France and this country. It also says that those three Governments recognise the need for these Middle East States to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purpose of ensuring their own security, their legitimate self-defence and to permit them to play their part in the defence of the area as a whole.
The three Governments put on record their determination to oppose the development of an arms race between the Arab States and Israel. Paragraph 2 deals with certain assurances which had been received, and I do not suggest that we should act on a basis that those assurances were not honestly given and will not be honestly kept. We have had assurances that none of these States intend to use these weapons for aggressive purposes against the other. But, again, the numbers involved in these transactions are such as really deprive that criticism of reality.
The truth of the matter is, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that we have pledged ourselves under Article 3 that there is any attempt to violate the frontiers or armistice lines, we will take 1083 vigorous steps to stop that happening. We have taken vigorous steps during the course of the past few days with regard to the incidents to which he referred. Her Majesty's Government have made strong representations to one side with regard to two incidents and we have done our very best to counsel moderation on the other side. We are doing our best to arrange a better liaison between the two parties. It is completely consistent with the declaration in the tripartite statement that we should seek to do that.
Then we come to the next question, relating to the consequences of our failure to supply these aircraft. What would happen if we did not supply them? I can assure the House that someone else certainly would, and it might be someone without our knowledge of the strains and stresses in the Middle East and less able to balance the factors. I am not making that a criticism of any particular country which might supply them. All I am saying is that it might be a country which knows a little less about the Middle East than we do and is less able to judge of these matters.
Furthermore, we are under treaty obligations with certain Middle East States. With Iraq, for instance, we have an old and firm friendship. We have a mission out there helping to train their Air Force, and a natural development which that Air Force is likely to expect is that ultimately they will change over to jet aircraft. We should have broken an explicit undertaking if, when they asked, we did not provide that Air Force with up-to-date equipment.
It is the same thing with Jordan. We have a long-standing friendship with that country. We have a Treaty of Alliance with them, negotiated by the former Government. We value our association with that country, and we propose to be loyal to our obligations. Quite apart from those treaty obligations, we have contractual obligations. We have made contracts and money has been paid on account. A breach of treaty obligations and a failure to fulfil contracts would, we believe, make it even more difficult to improve our relations with the countries of the Middle East, and—I emphasise this point—would make it even more difficult to solve the refugee 1084 problem. There can be no doubt that the solution of that problem involves a large measure of good will on the part of the Arab States, and to repudiate our treaty obligations or contractual obligations is not a good way to promote that good will.
There is another matter which is not unimportant. It is the future consideration of the defence of the Middle East. The real threat which menaces the Middle East is the threat of Communist aggression. We hope, and it was the principal purpose of the late Government, to get regional organisations in the Middle East capable of ensuring the collective defence of that area. I cannot believe that there is any better way to diminish enthusiasm for such a project than to refuse to supply up-to-date weapons and skill, and to give those air forces the opportunity of training with them. If we do not give these small quantities we shall hinder the achievement of what is our basic purpose in the Middle East.
Then we come to the final question: will this action add to the general tension in the Middle East between the Arab States and Israel? I think it is an extremely dangerous thing to suggest that tension between Israel and the Arab States is worse than in 1950. I do not believe that is true. It is dangerous to refer to it. The more people talk about tension mounting, the more they seek to simplify the matter and to dramatise it, the more chance there is of tension beginning to mount.
If the House will pardon a personal reference, I have a slight knowledge of this matter, because we spent many weeks during the Sixth Session of the United Nations, in Paris, and during the Seventh Session, in New York, trying to reconcile it. I think we were not unsuccessful in Paris, and not quite as unsuccessful as sometimes people may think with regard to the Seventh Session. The right hon. Gentleman did refer with approval to a certain passage in a speech of one of my colleagues. But if we try to over-simplify or over-dramatise this question of tension between Israel and the Arab States we are doing a great ill-service to that cause.
I welcome very much that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in which he deaIt with the problem of the 1085 Arab refugees. That is a problem which is casting a shadow over the whole of the Middle East at the present time. We are doing what we can about it and it is not an insignificant amount. Our contribution this year is the equivalent of 15 million dollars. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the article in yesterday's issue of "The Times" which described the varying methods of approach and the response, which the writer described as mixed, but not discouraging. He made a reference in the article to some tangible evidence of progress.
We are actively interested in that matter, and we are continually trying to help. But it is not something which may be solved by a stroke of the pen, or is capable of any easy solution. It is a question of long, steady, patient work, of doing a little here and a little there, and of dealing with something which is much more than a political question. It is not only our desire to promote friendship with the countries of the Middle East, and to resolve a problem which is full of danger, but, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it is also a very human problem of between 800,000 and 900,000 human beings overtaken by the dreadful catastrophe of losing their homes and all their worldly goods through no fault of their own.
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government will continue in the manner in which they have been proceeding to try to deal with this problem. We are contributing what we can, and other countries also are contributing. The United States have contributed a very large sum of money indeed. But relief by itself is not enough. We have to endeavour patiently to forward schemes of resettlement.
I submit that if one looks dispassionately at the six questions which I put at the beginning of my speech the case for continuing this line of action is made out. Economically, I consider it is extremely beneficial to ourselves. If we do not do it someone else will. I do not believe that we can repudiate our treaty obligations or disregard our contractual obligations. The number of aircraft involved is small, and I do not believe they will affect the balance of air power there at all. The only thing which might do that would be to yield to the request of the right hon. Gentleman and have an immediate ban.
1086 So far as the question of parity is concerned, that is not a matter of a mathematical formula, but the relative strength of the air forces is certainly one of the features to be taken into consideration. I cannot give any assurance such as the right hon. Gentleman has asked for, but I promise that we will be extremely vigilant in the matter and continue our consideration of all these various factors. We will continue to seek to diminish the tension in the Middle East, but I would add that we are convinced that the action we have already taken, so far from being condemned, should be approved and supported.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
The Minister of State has given a series of reasons which he says amount to an incontrovertible case for continuing with the policy which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) opened this debate in order to condemn. I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has satisfied many hon. Members that any of his reasons are more than completely trivial. In advancing those reasons, I am sure he was not ignoring the real nature of the problem. I am sure he would not ask the House to believe that the supply of these jets to the Middle East, described as very few in number, is really making any important contribution to the improvement of our own economic position. It would be nonsense to advance any such claim, and I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman intended seriously to advance it.
If there were nothing involved in this matter but the relief of our own economic situation, this policy would never have been embarked upon, or, if it had, it would have been abandoned tomorrow. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman talks about our contractual and treaty obligations, he knows perfectly well that the Government of which he is a distinguished member, like the previous Government of which my right hon. Friend was a distinguished member, have never regarded themselves as bound by contractual obligations, even when they had already received the money, if it seemed to them that to fulfil those obligations would result in added danger to world peace.
1087 One has, I think, to bear in mind two facts which completely establish that proposition. One is the refusal to deliver two oil tankers to Poland for which they had already paid and with which we had bound ourselves by our contract not to interfere. The other is the contract to supply machine tools to Czechoslovakia which we held up—even though we deprived ourselves of corresponding machine tools ordered from them— because it seemed to the Government of the day, whatever the claims of contractual or treaty obligations might be, that there were superior obligations where world peace was involved. There is no reason why, if the facts are made out, the same considerations should not apply to our treaties and contracts to supply arms to certain Arab States.
Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman said something about not exaggerating tension, because every reference to it, every dwelling upon it and every emphasis of it tended to increase it and that was not a good thing. With that I entirely agree. I would only say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that what is true of tension in the Middle East is true of tension in the Far East and of tension nearer home. I am glad to see that the Government recognise that we do not remove tension by always drawing attention to it and exaggerating it.
But it is a new proposition that one way of reducing tension between two people who are in conflict is to supply each of them with the most dangerous arms we can find. That is an entirely new proposition which I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman, if he intended us to accept it, ought to have developed rather more than he did. Nor indeed is it easy to see how by supplying arms—the most powerful arms we have—to nations which are geographically in a particular region but which are in conflict with another, in a state of war with one another, we make it easier to produce the collective defence of that region by these countries.
It must be plain that the first step is to bring about a state of peace in this region as between the various countries which make it up. Only after we have done that can we hope to begin to make progress with problems of collective defence or with problems of the resettle- 1088 ment of refugees. All these are bound up with the overriding question of the pacification of this area. To supply each side with this type of arms in these circumstances is not to make a contribution to lowering tension, but to make a contribution to increasing mutual tension and insecurity on the part of every country involved.
We shall not make the Arabs feel any more secure or any more friendly to Israel by supplying jet planes to Israel. And we shall not make Israel feel any more secure, or any more inclined to make concessions in those matters in which we all think that they might make concessions, by supplying jet planes to countries which still regard themselves and declare themselves to be in a state of war with Israel, which means that, whatever the right hon. and learned Gentleman's confidence may be, the weapons could be used at any time.
I want to make two other comments, and no more. They are comments which may transcend the immediate necessities of the case and perhaps not be irrelevant even though they do. I think that this is the first occasion on which the House of Commons has been invited to consider specifically an Israeli problem since the establishment of the State some four years ago. There were days before then when I made speeches in the House in support of the State of Israel which did not then exist. I do not want to waste time, or cause temper or discussion, by talking about matters of history—at any rate, not of recent history—but there were not many people in those days on either side of the House who regarded the State of Israel in the light they now regard it.
It came into existence. It has been in existence for four years—four years at the end of 2,000 years of anonymity. It did not come into existence with the good will of this country; it came into existence in spite of all this country's efforts. It is not well established yet. It is perhaps one of the ironies of history that the State should come into existence after some 20 centuries not into a world of peace, harmony and constructive and co-operative civilisation but into a world divided almost equally into two mighty Power blocs each maddened with fear and suspicion, if not hate, of the other. Coming into existence in a world of that kind, it comes into existence also in an area which 1089 each of those two Power blocs regard as of the most fundamental strategic importance.
It is inevitable that it should become to some extent the object first of support and then opposition, and then support again, first by this bloc and then by that bloc, each anxious not for its existence on its own merits but for the value that it might be in any eventual conflict between the two. No one complains of this. This arises inevitably out of history, geography and economics, and nothing that anyone can say about it will change it.
But in those circumstances this State has managed in four years to double its population and to clear the refugee camps of Europe of all the flotsam and jetsam left by the last world war and by an attack upon the Jewish people unparalleled in history. There was nowhere else for them to go. They were taken home there in spite of the fact that the Government of this country regarded the admission of a mere 100,000 refugees as something so economically unthinkable that they wrecked a very good chance of early settlement of the Palestine problem rather than agree to the admission of those refugees.
Neither economically nor strategically is this little State secure. Its life economically hangs on a thread. It is nowhere near self-supporting. It could not be in the circumstances. How can it afford jet planes? And, if the Government supply them to the Arab States, how can it not afford jet planes? What do the Government expect the State of Israel to pay them in return for their jet planes? Out of what economic resources, out of what raw materials, out of what finished products or out of what dollars? It is an impossible burden to put upon them at this moment to equip them with planes of this kind. They cannot pay for them, and, if we supply them to the Arab States, they must pay for them. They must find the money.
What are the Arab States to give us for them? What are we to get in return? What is this magnificent contribution to our economic difficulties that we are to get out of selling a handful of jet planes to one side or the other side of peoples who are almost at one another's throats'? There is nothing in this argument. This country will gain more economically out 1090 of the pacification of the Middle East than it can ever get out of arming one side or the other, and our efforts ought to be directed to that end.
Does anyone really believe that, if this country unitedly, with the support of both sides of this House, can agree on foreign affairs, there is any difficulty in agreeing about this one, and that, in using our moral influence, such as it is—there is not very much left—in not setting these countries again into a turmoil by arming both sides, but by bringing them together in some kind of understanding until a via media is found between them, we shall not add to our moral structure much more than by anything we could do in an idiotic attempt to arm both sides in a struggle that nobody wants?
It is true that this State is in a precarious condition. It is surrounded by declared enemies, and it is all very well for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to stand at the Dispatch Box in the House of Commons in London and tell the people in Tel Aviv that they need not worry about the fact that all the States round them are their declared enemies, because they do not mean it. They will think that they do mean it until they say that they do not. Surrounded in that way, by declared enemies, they have now lost the diplomatic support of, or diplomatic relations with, the countries which, for their own purposes, no doubt, supported them in the difficult years before the establishment of the State, and when we, no doubt for our contrary purposes, were opposing them, and so they will regard themselves as completely isolated, with a ring of enemies around them, with the Western bloc, represented by this country, supplying that ring of enemies with the most powerful weapons at their command, and with no other friends anywhere in the world.
This is not politics; this is not statesmanship; this is not being alive to the important events of our time, and making sure that something constructive survives and grows out of the difficulties of the times. This is to do just what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says was the wrong thing to do—to heighten the fear of insecurity, to heighten suspicions and fears, to make more precarious what is precarious already, and to increase tension. Nothing will be lost by abandoning this policy, at any rate until the time 1091 comes when a series of treaties in the Middle East could be made.
I would say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman: let the Government beware how far they think that this is aiding the purpose and objective of peace in the world, or the interests of this country, merely by inflaming and exaggerating and finding new causes for fear and insecurity in this part of the world. Let them stop it, and, instead, devote all their efforts to the pacification of this area as a beginning to the pacification of the rest of the world.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
I am sure that the whole House listened to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) with great interest. Undoubtedly, he made what I would call a very sincere speech, but I find it difficult to follow some of his arguments.
Ever since Israel came into being, that country has had an air force. Is the hon. Gentleman now suggesting that Israel should disband its air force completely? I do not think he is. It was not very long ago that Israel was supplied with 30 or 40 Spitfires from Czechoslovakia which shot down British aircraft and pilots. I do not want to go into the details, because it is only bringing back old history, but, if Israel can defend itself and become part of collective defence, then its air force must be kept modern and up to date.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am not suggesting that Israel should disband its air force, and, if it had not been for those Spitfires, there never would have been an air force at all. I am suggesting that it is nonsense to talk of collective security in that area until the different parts of that area are at peace with one another.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
We have been assured by the Minister of State that the position is not as bad as some people make it out to be, and I quite agree that, if we can lessen the tension, it may well improve, but with the world situation as it is today, particularly in the Middle East, this country and all the Western Powers are bound to do everything they can to see that those countries play their proper part in maintaining peace, and the only way to maintain peace, in my belief, is to be well armed.
1092 I came to this House today very unhappy about this debate, but I feel more reassured now by what my right hon. and learned Friend could not tell us how many aircraft were involved in this deal. It will only be a matter of a few weeks and we shall see photographs of these jet aircraft in the technical papers, and in Egyptian and other papers, so why cannot we be told how many there are? I remember that, in a debate on a similar matter regarding Centurion tanks in November, 1950, the figure was given quite freely as 16. I recall that there was no secret about it, and I would say to my right hon. and learned Friend that, if he cares to get into his motor car and drive past the airfield where the aircraft are assembled, he could see some of them with Egyptian markings and would be able to count them. I think the House is entitled to know, if not the actual price, how many aircraft are involved.
I want to say that, looking back over 20 or 30 years, Britain taught Egypt to fly, not only military but civil aircraft, and helped in establishing routes which have considerably assisted the economy not only of Egypt but of practically all countries in the Middle East, in the speeding up and improvement of public communications. We had an official mission there for many years under Air Vice-Marshal—now Sir Victor—Tait.
Do not let us sell the very latest equipment, because, if some of this equipment is later than the type of equipment in our squadrons today, I should not feel very happy about it, because even our auxiliary squadrons which are front line units should have the very latest equipment which is available to them. If any Middle East country is to be given later equipment than that of our own forces, I think that would be wrong. If it is a question merely of training the Israeli air force, surely that could be done with older aircraft, and not the latest types, which could follow on later.
I am quite certain that if we do not sell aircraft to Egypt or Israel, other countries will. For instance, let us consider the United States in regard to the question of Spain. I do not want to get involved in this matter, because I know there are very strong feelings on both sides of the House, but, however much we may criticise General Franco, there are 30 million proud people in Spain, and we 1093 have supplied them with very few arms. The United States has had a mission over 100 strong there for 12 or 18 months, in Madrid.. and they are about to sell equipment with which we could have supplied them. We really had an opportunity there, without condoning the actions of Franco in any way, but it may be lost forever; I do not know. When we think of our need to export in order to survive, we must bear in mind that those markets count in the struggle.
I should like to be told by my hon. Friend who is to reply to the debate how Egypt will pay for these aircraft. Will it be done out of sterling balances built up during the war, when we saved Egypt from destruction, or are we to be given cash or cotton? I think the House would like an assurance about the method of payment.
Sooner or later, I feel, with the improvements in relations with Egypt which are being made today——whether we agree with the method of the treaty of independence for the Sudan or not— there will be law and order in the Middle East, provided there is not world aggression from the Soviet Union. I believe that we are right to be patient and to help them economically. If they feel it right to build up their military forces, we should help them to do so. Allowing Britain, after all these decades, to fall out and other countries to take up the task would be a grave error.
The hon. Member for Enfield. East (Mr. Ernest Davies), then UnderSecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, said in the House on 22nd November, 1950,… nor do we look upon Egypt as a potential aggressor."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 457.]It was only a few months later that Egyptian troops and British troops were fighting in the Suez area. I do not want to go into that, but the position since then has changed considerably. The King of Egypt has gone. General Neguib. whether we agree with him in some respects or not, is an improvement. We have seen some law and order brought into the affairs of the Middle East.
I think the House must be broadminded on all these matters because, although these are matters of principle which are important, we must neverthe- 1094 less look at the broad picture. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will, as he said this afternoon, supply equipment to the countries concerned. provided that he is satisfied that the relations between Israel and Egypt are improving, provided that we shall be paid for the equipment in the proper way and not out of a debt built up during the war, when we saved Egypt.
I hope we shall be paid in cash or by means of barter and that we shall be allowed to send instructors and missions out there. It is far better to be in and to help than to be outside and not know what is going on. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will see this deal through, but will also satisfy himself that the type of equipment is not required by the Royal Air Force.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
If I may say so, the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) has raised some interesting points and, in particular, I hope he gets an answer to his question about how Egypt will pay for these planes.
I do not think anyone will disagree with him when he urges that we should approach the matter in a broad-minded spirit. For my part, I want to turn to the six rather quick questions which the right hon. and learned Gentleman said were particularly relevant. Like the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I cannot but feel that the economic points which he raised are trivial. Like the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), I looked up the very powerful speech which the Prime Minister made in July, 1951, in which he deployed most forceful arguments against supplying arms to Egypt. I found no sign in that speech that he was concerned about what would happen to British industry it we did not send a cruiser and various other arms.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman put three other questions which seemed to me to be of far greater importance. One was the point that if we did not supply these aircraft somebody else would do so. I appreciate that that is important, but I am by no means convinced that, if it is the wrong thing to do, we 1095 should nevertheless do it because otherwise somebody else would do it instead. Furthermore, I find the argument inconsistent with the other point which he made when he said that this is a small matter involving only one or two planes. If it is a very small matter and if only one or two planes are to be sent to Egypt, then presumably the Egyptians will not be satisfied with only one or two planes but, having learned to fly jet aircraft, will turn to other sources to get more.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that the type of planes sent was not an offensive type. Nowadays it is almost impossible to make a distinction between offensive and defensive weapons. Indeed, I believe that certain of the attacks made by Israel were made with fighter planes. The vital questions are; what use will be made of the planes? And will their delivery increase the tension; in fact, what will be the effect of this sale on opinion in the Near East, the Middle East, and, indeed, all over the world? We know that there is still war between Egypt and Israel, and surely any country which supplies arms in time of war to countries which consider themselves to be combatants runs a very serious risk. In the old days, objection was rightly taken to the unfettered private supply of arms, but I think that the position is even worse in some ways when arms are supplied with the express permission of Governments; that is even more dangerous because it involves an act of policy by the country which supplies them.
In a situation such as that which exists in the Middle East, the question is bound to be asked; against whom are these arms to be used? The right hon. and learned Gentleman appealed to us not to raise the tension by asking these awkward questions, but they are being asked already, and are bound to be asked, not least by Israel. We know that the United Nations have deplored the possibility of an arms race, and I should have thought that a very heavy responsibility would rest on this country, as a member of the United Nations, if we in any way even seemed to encourage it. The fact that we supplied arms to Israel as well as to the Arabs is certainly no argument on that point; it merely increases the tension on both sides.
1096 Like the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield, I cannot see why the number of aircraft is so secret. I believe the number is fairly well known and I do not think it is denied that, if we take the Arab League as a whole, they are receiving far more aircraft than are Israel. I must say that I, too, feel that the Government could have made one more really serious effort at least to relieve the tension in the Middle East if not to achieve a peace treaty. They should also have done something more to help over the problem of the Arab refugees which, quite apart from the human aspect, is serious enough as a continual potential source of explosion. Until such steps are taken, the present policy seems contrary to the declaration of May, 1950.
If we look beyond the question of Israel-Arab relations, the fact remains that when we sell arms abroad we are entitled to know how our own interests are affected. To my mind, our prime interests are quite clear. I do not think this sale of aircraft has any industrial importance to this country at all. We stand for peace. We have no unfulfilled ambitions in the Middle East or anywhere else. But we also stand for the defence of the free world. How does this transaction help in maintaining peace or in the defence of the free world?
Until quite recently I do not think anyone, particularly on the other side of the House, would have pretended that the Egyptians have been particularly friendly towards this country. Dr. Johnson, I think, once said that it was very rude to quote a man's words against him, and, therefore, I will not do so, but, of course, there are many statements not only in the previous debate by the present Prime Minister but in another debate, started, I think, by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), and in other places, in which the Conservative Party, rightly in my view, protested again and again against the sale of arms to Egypt, particularly at a time when Egypt had piled up these immense sterling balances against us. The Conservatives pleaded eloquently against allowing them to have unrequited exports from this country to which they had become entitled as a result of our efforts to save them in the war.
1097 I welcome the better relations which now appear to be growing between this country and General Neguib. Certainly, the Sudan Agreement is a success for Her Majesty's Foreign Minister. But it cannot be denied that the Egyptians share in the honours of the agreement and that they have not come out of it entirely empty handed. Are we on the verge of a wider agreement that, to my mind, alone would justify this sale? If Her Majesty's Government can really assure the House that we are going to have a release of tension throughout the Middle East and are to have a lasting agreement over the Canal—possibly on a Four-Power basis—then a strong argument could be made for not throwing sand into the wheels of negotiation by holding up this sale.
We have to remember that not only we in this country attach very great importance to the area and to the Canal Zone. People at the far end of the Canal have, in some ways, a greater interest in it than we have. I find that very great interest in the future of this whole area is expressed in Australia and New Zealand. They are vitally interested, not only because their main transport routes pass through the area, but for psychological reasons. They would indeed feel cut off if they thought that we were settling the fate of that region, and possibly abandoning it, without consultation with them.
Are the Government in touch with and in consultation with the rest of the Commonwealth over the Middle East? Are they in touch not only with Australia and New Zealand. but with India? I appreciate that this matter now before the House concerns comparatively few aircraft, but I cannot help thinking that it may be an indication of the way in which the mind of the Government is moving for it ranks as an act of policy. In that sense it may be of great importance not only to this country but for a great area the whole way from Cyprus to Korea and out to the Pacific.
If we are on the verge of a general settlement, I think that no one would dispute that it would be worth letting the Egyptians have these aircraft, but if we are not we may dismay Israel who is a most useful ally and a possible supplier of alternative bases if the need for such should be forced upon us. We may also 1098 raise doubts in Australia and New Zealand and jeopardise our position throughout the Far East.
As I say, this may be a small matter when reckoned in aircraft, but it may also be a straw in the wind, and such straws were not entirely unnoticed before the war when we were faced with a threat to peace similar to that which faces us today. It may possibly have a disturbing effect upon the confidence which our allies and the countries of the Middle East have in us and which it is in our interest to encourage and not upset.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester Blackley)
I feel a great deal of uneasiness about the Government's decision to continue this sale of jet aircraft to the nations of the Middle East. I feel that it is most unwise to put these dangerous weapons in the hands of nations in a very troubled part of the world, and I cannot help thinking that it is not the best way to preserve peace in that area. I also feel, with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), that the repeated statements by successive Egyptian Governments that they intend to force us out of the Canal Zone makes the possession of jet aircraft by Egypt even more undesirable.
However much we may dislike the methods by which the State of Israel was created and, set up, that State in fact exists and we recognise it. Furthermore, Egypt claims to be at war with the State of Israel. I feel that to supply aircraft to belligerents on either side will intensify the dangers of that situation and certainly will not make things any better. I would not set myself up as a judge of the merits of Israel and the Arab States, but I feel that it may well be that in the course of time a strong and stable Israel will he the greatest force for peace in the Middle East.
The Minister of State made a number of extremely interesting and powerful points. The first three questions which he posed related almost entirely to economic arguments. I cannot recognise their validity when we are deciding what seems to me a question of right or wrong; and I do not believe that the sale of these aircraft will make all that difference to our aircraft industry.
1099 My right hon. and learned Friend posed the question whether these aircraft would be used for aggressive purposes. I do not profess to know, but the fact remains that if nobody had these aircraft they could not be used for aggressive purposes. My right hon. and learned Friend also asked whether someone else would supply these aircraft if we did not. Here I am bound to agree with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that for us to do something wrong first for fear of somebody else doing it afterwards is not a very right attitude.
Then we are asked whether these aircraft would increase the tension in the Middle East. They cannot possibly decrease that tension, and I cannot accept the argument that they are needed for internal security. How jet aircraft arc used for internal security, I do not profess to know. It has been said that Israel would not receive any at all if this sale were stopped. That is true, but would not Israel feel more secure if nobody had these aircraft than if she received them and other nations, potential or actual enemies, each had them in equal number?
I am not swayed by the economic arguments. On the other hand, I must admit that I am very greatly influenced by the argument used that if we stop this sale we would be breaking our treaty and contractual agreements. That we must not do. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not profess to know the terms of the contract, but what disturbs me is that I doubt whether we can be paid for these aircraft by Israel or any other country in the Middle East which is acquiring them. I am sure that Israel cannot afford to buy them and I do not believe that the Arab States can afford to do so either. The money which they propose to spend in this way could be better spent on more peaceful and constructive programmes. Nevertheless, I suppose that the contract, having been made, must be fulfilled.
If we have to go through with this sale of jet aircraft, I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to be rather more lenient towards the new State in the matter of loans for constructive purposes. If the contract has to be fulfilled, so much the worse. I would not advocate the repudiation of contracts for one moment, but I hope that if this 1100 contract is carried out it will never be renewed.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I am sorry to take away from the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) the one cheer which he gathered when he said that we were under an obligation to observe our contractual agreement. I do not believe for a single moment that if it had suited the policy of the Government that these aircraft should not go to Egypt they would have gone there. In July, 1951, when the present Prime Minister protested in the House about the supply of the Hunt class destroyer "Cottesmore" there was no discussion about a contractual agreement.
I do not think that the contractual agreement is the reason. The hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) was not very near the target when he talked about the jets being supplied in order to build up the military security of the Middle East. Our interest there is in terms of a base. That is what we keep saying, and we do not strengthen our case if we allow it to be thought that we are interested in the Suez area as a base on one day and in the military strength of the Middle East Powers the next day.
The fact is that we are interested in the base. The Minister of State would have done far better to have told the House that the reason we have supplied these jet aircraft to Egypt, Israel and Syria is that we have a very weak Foreign Secretary who is in a very weak position not only in the Middle East but in his own party. He is under attack from all angles. The fact is that the Foreign Office had to give way to the blandishments and arguments put forward by the Minister of Supply last December.
Last autumn the Government decided to cut back the armaments programme. The result was that a number of our aircraft firms were in very great difficulties. and, as the production of the new types of aircraft was two years ahead, some way had to be found to take up the slack. The Gloster Aircraft Company which manufactured the Meteor had to stand off about 1,200 men. The Ministry of Supply then came along and said there was a long-term contract for Meteors. If 1101 the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not tell the House what is the figure, I will do it for him. I understand that an arrangement has been entered into with Israel whereby they are to get 14 Meteors —and the Syrians and Egyptians will also get 14 each. So the Gloster Company have been able to keep their production going until such time as they get their new production started.
The shocking thing is that any idea that there is any moral basis behind our action has been thrown out of the window. While it may be that the supply of 14 Meteors to three States in the Middle East does not upset the balance of military power, it means that the State of 1srael have to find about £1 million. That is my estimate. I arrive at it by assuming that a Meteor costs about £50,000 and that another £30,000 will be needed for spares. That makes a figure of over £1 million for 14 Meteors.
Israel cannot find £1 million unless they scrape the barrel. They will be spending £1 million for obsolescent aircraft which they pray to God they will never have to use. That money should be spent upon tractors. This sort of thing does not add to our strength in the Middle East or to the respect with which we are regarded by Egypt, Syria or Israel. Indeed, it adds to the loathing and contempt with which this country is regarded throughout that area. That is the basic fact which we have to recognise.
Hon. Members opposite first started to say these things. If they dispute what I say, let them read what the Prime Minister said about the submissiveness of the Labour Government when they supplied a Hunt class destroyer to Egypt. He talked about it then just as strongly as I am doing now. The fact that must be faced is that sooner or later Israel and the Arab countries have to come to some understanding. In the long run they are either going to beggar themselves or come to an agreement.
I should like to see this country take a lead in bringing them together. We might be able to do so if we would say to these people, "The last things on earth you want are Meteors, Centurion tanks or guns of any kind. You need food. penicillin, drugs, tractors, sanitation and education. Above all, you need to learn the ways of peace in order to form the 1102 foundation upon which a stable order in the Middle East can be built."
The supply of jet aircraft for the reasons which have prompted the Government to supply them has done nothing to add to the prestige of this country. In the past we have often heard the jibes of the party opposite, about wanting to scuttle and seeking to appease; but there is one thing that hon. Members on this side of the House can say, even if hon. Members opposite hold that we are wrong. We believed in what we were doing. But as far as the Government's Middle East policy is concerned, the truth is that the bulk of the party opposite— although they have not the guts to say so—do not believe in that policy—and the Egyptians know that they do not believe in it.
That is why General Neguib made his broadcast yesterday. He was seeking to exploit the weakness of the Government. The Government should either throw the Foreign Secretary out or back him up. They should not let it go abroad that he is speaking for the party opposite if he is not speaking for more than 30 per cent. of them. That plays right into the hands of our opponents not only in the Middle East but all over the world, because they know they have only to make a speech or a broadcast which the party opposite do not like for their point of view to be met following a Tory Party secret conclave. We also have our differences, but we would sooner have them composed in the light of day than behind closed doors.
The spectacle we have had today, of the Minister of State, speaking like his master's voice and not believing a word of it and not telling the House the elementary facts of the situation—is touching bottom as far as the foreign policy of this country is concerned, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
If there is one man who can be trusted to lower the tone of a debate and to cast party aspersions in every direction, it is the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). If there is one man who does not understand the rudiments of any subject he touches, it is the hon. Member for Dudley and if there is one 1103 man who, with unctuous hyprocrisy, lectures the House on the sins which he thinks the House are committing when all the time he is committing those sins himself, it is the hon. Member for Dudley.
He has attacked the Foreign Secretary in unmeasured terms. We repudiate altogether those attacks. He has said that the policy which has been brought forward had been instigated by the Minister of Supply and was not in any way supported by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. We repudiate that, and so does the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Supply. The spokesman of the Foreign Secretary has addressed the House and has commended the course of action which Her Majesty's Government are taking.
By what right does the hon. Member for Dudley venture to suggest that all this is said by somebody who does not believe it, and is in fact a betrayal of the Foreign Secretary himself? This is the sort of thing that brings debates in this House into justifiable ridicule from the country as a whole. Indeed, if anything could bring about the loathing and contempt for this country which the hon. Member has just suggested, it is the kind of speech he has just delivered, if it is taken seriously by a single person either inside or outside this House.
I speak as one who has always supported the case of Israel, even when it was not as popular as it is now. I speak as one who, at the time of Israel's troubles, actually visited that country. I was there before recognition de jure took place, and just after the remarkable series of battles by which Israel won their very existence—the series of battles in which they conquered much stronger forces on all sides and, more particularly, after the unfortunate series of aerial engagements in which Israeli airmen— as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will remember—had actually been in conflict with the R.A.F. and had shot down some of our planes.
There was certainly no exultation about that. There was sorrow, depression and gloom in Israel over that successful engagement, because they felt that they were somehow or other in conflict with 1104 those whom they greatly admired and, in many cases, personally loved. In spite of that, I say that what we are now discussing is the relatively minor problem of the delivery of a small number of aircraft under conditions in which that delivery is guaranteed both by contract and treaty. The question is whether we should break that contract and treaty.
Has a case been made for breaking them? I do not think so. It may well be that we shall find ourselves in a much more active opposition to certain Powers in the Middle East than we are today. If so, let it be on a great issue and an important point that we find ourselves at loggerheads.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The hon. Gentleman has listened to all the speeches and is well acquainted with the situation. I do not like to throw in his teeth the suggestion that it was his Government which armed them first, though I should be entitled to do so.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I know it would not matter to the hon. Gentleman, who adopts a mood of Olympian detachment in all these things. But there are only two Division Lobbies in this House the Ayes and the Noes—and the hon. Gentleman supported his Government while they were carrying out that action.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am sure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that, though lie says I am actuated by Olympian detachment, it is the duty of all hon. Members, if they conscientiously believe a thing to be wrong, to vote against it even if their own Government are doing it. I opposed this sort of thing when my own Government did it at least as strongly as I oppose it this afternoon.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I paid testimony to the hon. Member in the matter. I grant he did so; I only said that he extended his powerful general support to that Government.
He knows as well as I do that what a Government marks is not whether a Member kicks over the traces now and again, but whether he persistently pulls 1105 against the weight of the party all the time. The hon. Member is well known not only as a loyal member of his party, but as a powerful supporter of his administration. I do not wish to be led away by these side issues. This is not the first Government that armed the Power in question, and the present Government have every right to say that when they are accused, as they have just been accused by the hon. Member, of doing so.
The question raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) concerning the supply of arms by our nation to other countries is a very important question. I have always been very dubious about the argument brought forward by many right hon. and hon. Members against anything but nationalised arms industries because of this very problem. Eventually, if all arms were nationalised, every sale of any weapon to any country would he a national act, and we are now beginning to come to that difficult position. It will raise a large set of new problems of which we have not yet begun to see the end. But this is not the time or place to discuss that very important question.
We are discussing whether a running contract should be broken. Surely, there are enough difficulties in the world just now without bringing in this extra one of the immediate breaking of contracts. There are huge questions coming up for decision, questions which will be made none the easier by the questions and answers we have heard today. Many of the speeches seemed to me to leave out altogether the complication which has been brought to the situation by the questions and answers we have heard today.
Let us consider the only matters which it is worth-while definitely discussing in connection with such decisive steps as the breaking of existing contracts. These are steps which are well known in international diplomacy. They are steps of very great importance. Only the intention to proceed to further steps will justify the breaking off of a supply of weapons to a country. In some ways, they are just as important as, and in others more important than, the breaking off of diplomatic relations themselves. Let us hesitate once, twice and three times before we take such great steps on so small an issue.
1106 The House of Commons will have many problems to review in connection with this area, and that review may have to take place in the days immediately ahead. This is not a question to exalt into that enormously important position. No case has been made for breaking the contracts already made. Nobody has suggested that it will alter the balance of power in that area. Neither has anyone suggested that it could be taken as anything except as a symbolic act. Symbolic of what?
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North West)
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is being very unrealistic in this matter. I know him to be an old supporter of the Zionist and the Israel cause, and I am sure he would not wish to mislead the House. But is not he aware of the fact that in Article 103 of the Charter there is the following passage:In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.In view of the fact that Egypt and other Arab countries say that they are at war with one member of the United Nations, does not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think that his argument is not quite right?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
With respect to the hon. Gentleman—and we have often been on the same side of the argument before does not he see that that argument might have held before this policy had been entered into but only then? Does he suggest that the state of war has only arisen within the last few weeks or months? I was there when the state of war was actually in full blast, and it was still in active operation when these supplies were undertaken and when these contracts were entered into.
I do not think the hon. Gentleman can get out of it like that. No new factor has arisen to justify the invoking of the clause to which he referred. This would mean a new unilateral act undertaken for some specific purpose. At least, that is my reading of it. I say that such a unilateral act would carry with it implications far beyond any which this House would desire to attach to it at this time. Therefore I support the Government.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North- West)
I am sorry that for the first time in many years, going back, I believe, as far as 1931, I find myself on this particular subject at variance with the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), who has done much towards helping the small State of Israel first to create itself and then to preserve itself in its present form. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has really made a very big mistake in this matter of the contracts, and I should like to answer him and also the Minister of State on that point.
To begin with, the contracts to which reference is being made have not yet been specifically quoted in this House. The Minister is fully aware that we as loyal Members of the United Nations have no right to continue to supply arms under the present contracts. He knows very well that the question of the supply of arms has been under consideration before this and that such arms have not been supplied at times for the very reasons that have been given today.
This is an extremely important debate —perhaps one of the most important that we shall have in this Parliament. It does not merely rest upon the question of the supply of arms. This is a question of fundamental importance to the honour of this country and for the future of the Middle East, and, perhaps, of the world. It is not just a question of selling a few jet weapons. It is a question of whether, when a State has been created which depends entirely upon its merits, not in arms, but in having brought within its borders men and women who are prepared to use their sweat and toil in order to produce something out of the eroded soil, it is one we support and whether those people are people whom we should support or whether the supply of arms to destroy those people—because that is what it virtually amounts to—is something which should be encouraged.
What is the suggestion here? Cannot the House see? I asked a question of the Minister of State on what is really the material point. He is supplying to a number of Arab States—whether rightly or wrongly, so far as their views are concerned—sufficient planes to destroy in half an hour the whole of Israel.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I do not wish unduly to interrupt, but surely of all the forces which are useless in any kind of bombing attack, jet aircraft are the most useless?
§ Mr. Janner
I cannot give way to my hon. Friend for a moment. I cannot answer two people at once. Let me answer the right hon. and gallant Gentleman first. Israel itself has enough to do at the present moment to try to stop aggression from without. It has to spend a very considerable amount—it is common knowledge—of its very slender resources to provide forces which will prevent the marauders from coming in—marauders who come in quite frequently over the border, who kill, who thieve—[Interruption.]—oh, yes— from Jordan. I can give the figures for the last 12 months which will satisfy the House on that account. It has to spend a large sum of money for that purpose that ought to be spent on economic development.
It is vulnerable from the air. It is certainly vulnerable to jet planes. Jet planes are not merely going to fly over the country for the pleasure of seeing the country. I say that the provision of planes of this description, of the latest design—or almost the latest design—is an outrage. It is an outrage to allow those who openly declare themselves at war with another State to have an advantage which will place them in a position quite different from that in which they were before that supply. This small number of determined people in Israel, with much less arms, had to face enemies thought to be in a position to destroy that small State. That is precisely what we are talking about now.
The Minister of State talked about the economics of the position. I really think that was a bit steep. "After all," said the Minister, "it only concerns a few planes. What are we talking about? Just a few jet planes. They cannot do any damage, but they can produce such stability to our economic position that it is important that we should send those planes out." He cannot have it both ways. He has got to make up his mind. Are those planes of some importance financially? If so, are we not committing 1109 a criminal offence—yes, I say "criminal offence" deliberately—if we allow that consideration to be used against the moral question of supplying planes of this nature to injure a State which is a friendly State and not a belligerent one?
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I think it is right that he should appreciate as a matter of historical fact that the Israeli Government had already approached Her Majesty's Government with a view to buying jets before any decision was reached to release them to any of these Arab States.
§ Mr. Janner
I have no objection to that statement. None at all. The Minister knows why, because he knows very well that Israel is not in the position and has not the desire to start any aggressive action—nor could it possibly do so with the few jets the right hon. and learned Gentleman would supply to it. But that point is not at issue here. The point at issue here is that he is going to supply to each individual opponent of Israel which declares itself to be in a state of war with Israel an equal number
each of those States to that which he is supplying to Israel, and I say that that is a matter which has got to be taken into account.
§ Mr, Norman Smith
Will my hon. Friend please explain to the House whether he comes here in order to speak for the working men and women of Leicester who put him in, or for the Israeli State?
§ Mr. Janner
I speak for the working men and women of Leicester who put me here, because I am quite satisfied that Leicester, which knows the facts, would endorse what I have to say on this matter. It is important as much to Leicester as it is to any other constituency in this country, because it is a moral issue, and it is an issue important in so far as the continuance of our own status in the world is concerned, and I am just as much concerned with that as is my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith).
I think that one may perhaps be permitted to refer once again to the 1110 clauses of the Agreement, which have been referred to already by the Minister and by other Members. Clause 2 of that Agreement says:The three Governments declare that assurances have been received from all the States in question that the purchasing State does not infend to undertake any aggression against any other State. Similar assurances will be expected from any State in the area to which they permit arms to be supplied in the future.The Minister knows very well—yes, as well as I do—that no assurance which is given by those to whom he is going to supply those planes—the Arab States —can be acceptable in the circumstances because they have declared they are still at war with Israel.
With regard to the other clauses of the Tripartite Agreement, the right hon. and learned Gentleman also knows that they do not help him because he will remember that the Egyptian representative, Mr. Fawzi, for example, at a meeting of the Security Council, at which the right hon. and learned Gentleman was probably present, in September, 1951, said:
The Egyptian-Israeli Joint Armistice Agreement did not include any provision on the termination of the legal or technical state of war between the two States; nor did any international law in its principles or in its practice deny a country its belligerent rights, before any peace settlement is concluded.In Egypt's recent note to the West German Government, in November, 1952, there was a statement that the Federal Republic was rendering to a State with which Egypt was at war certain assistance.
The reply from the Government in this matter is not a satisfactory one—not from the point of view of Britain's interests and not from the point of view of our place in the United Nations. I beg the Minister to reconsider the position. He has been appealed to already. It is not a matter of material importance to us in this country, financially or economically, whether these planes are supplied. That, as he knows very well, is too small to count at all.
What is important is that he should use his utmost endeavours as, indeed, he commenced to do at the recent meeting of the Assembly—to see that peace shall be established between the Arab States and Israel. He knows that that is essential. When that has been done he can 1111 consider the question of supplying arms to those States, because at least he will know that they will not be used for warfare against each other. He should also remember that these arms are certainly not needed for internal defence by any of these countries. Nor are they needed for the purpoes of general Middle East defence, because, as he knows very well, every appeal made in that regard has been ignored.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) in great detail. I will only say that to suggest to the House that the supply of a dozen fighter aircraft to Egypt will lead to the complete destruction of Israel is, to my mind, quite fantastic.
I am impressed by the argument advanced this afternoon that if we do not supply jet aircraft to Egypt, somebody else will. After what has happened in the last few days in Israel, Egypt may be faced with the problem of getting an adequate supply of jet aircraft; and she would, of course, get them from that country to the east of Europe which is causing so much difficulty at the moment. We all know that she would be able to get them from that country, because at a critical moment in the development of jet aircraft in the world all our jet aircraft secrets were exposed to Russia so that she could get on with setting up her own industry for this purpose.
Discussing the supply of arms to another country is always difficult, but it is new to me that we should never supply arms to one country unless we are prepared to supply an equal number of the same arms to another country. We have certainly never done that in the past. When the Argentine Government was getting difficult in South America, we supplied her with aircraft, but we did not supply her opponents.
On every occasion upon which we are exporting arms, two considerations must he borne in mind. The first is: Are we certain that we have a better weapon in the hands of the men in our Forces than that of which we are disposing? There is no doubt whatever about that in the supplying of these jet aircraft. I understand that the Meteor aircraft which 1112 are being disposed of to Egypt have Derwent engines, which are completely out of date. That is a quite different situation from that obtaining when we disposed of certain engines to Russia during the 1945–50 Parliament. The engines we disposed of to Russia were Nene engines, which were in short supply to the Royal Air Force, and which even today are being used in that Service. The present situation bears no comparison with that state of affairs because we are disposing of aircraft engined by out-ofdate, obsolescent, if not obsolete, engines.
The second important consideration which I venture to suggest the House should always bear in mind when entering into transactions of this nature is this: Are we increasing their military potential, from a manufacturing point of view, in disposing of the particular weapon to another country? That is not so in the case of Egypt. There is no possibility whatever of Egypt setting up an industry to manufacture jet engines of the Derwent or Nene type. That, again, is quite a different situation from that when we disposed of Derwent and Nene engines to Russia four or five years ago. Then we were sellmg engines to a highly industrialised country capable of mass producing those engines. Indeed, all the evidence appears to point to the fact that those engines are now in mass production, and in use in the Korean theatre.
Those are the two points I wish to leave in the minds of hon. Members. I do not believe that we have done anything to help build up an industry in Egypt—that is quite out of the question— whereas, in the case of Russia, we certainly helped her. Indeed, I believe that we disclosed our manufacturing processes to her. Secondly, we are not disposing of aircraft with an engine as good as those used in the Royal Air Force today. With those two considerations in mind, I venture to suggest that the interests of this country have not been injured in any way by the sale of these aircraft to Egypt.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Smith (Nottingham, South)
I shall be very brief. I desire to say only this. I hope there will not be a Division after this debate. I think that the spectacle of the House of Commons dividing on this subject would be nauseating. If there is a Division, I am 1113 not taking part. Neither party has clean hands in this matter. When the Labour Government were in power, selling arms to that part of the world, I used to think there was an element of humbug about the Conservative criticism of that Government. I cannot escape the conclusion that today there is an element of hypocrisy about some of the speeches that have been made from this side of the House. That is all I want to say. I am saying no more.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith) for having given me a nice preface from which to start. I agree with a good deal of what he has said. I certainly think that today there has been a strange mixture of ideas in the minds of hon. Members about whether or not these are moral or materialistic issues. I should have said that trading in arms must be a materialistic issue.
The hon. Member for Leicester, NorthWest (Mr. Janner) tried to refer to the issue as a high moral one. We may all vary in our opinion about that, because there are varying opinions about whether or not the State of Israel was set up morally or immorally. My own view is that it was an immoral act to dispossess so many Arabs of their homes. Others think that the needs of the Jews outweighed that interest. I do not propose to argue the rights and wrongs of that today.
What I do say is that it is no use anyone here this afternoon supposing that this issue is a high moral one. I am afraid that this is a pretty filthy business. What has happened in the Middle East over the last few years is, I think, generally agreed to have been a most deplorable series of events, and I do not suppose that anything we say now will make them any less deplorable.
I am convinced that it is not possible on this issue to decide whether the Arab States are wholly in the right or whether Israel is wholly in the right. It is a question of a compromise, and a pretty uneasy one at that. Our experience of what has happened ever since we accepted the mandate for Palestine under the League of Nations has been that this is a question of an uneasy compromise. Even 1114 now there is an uneasy compromise about whether the, setting up of the State of Israel was a correct action or a wrong one. We may all have our opinions on that, but I suggest they have no real relevance to this debate today.
This debate is to decide whether a certain agreed number of aircraft should continue to be supplied to various Middle Eastern countries. All those hon. Members opposite who have argued against this process being continued seem to me to have overlooked what I thought was the most powerful point made by the Minister of State in his opening remarks, namely, no matter whether we think it right or wrong, the fact remains that the present Government have been supplying considerably fewer aircraft than the previous Administration arranged for. In fact, the process to my mind is the correct one—that the supply should be cut down.
I think that a great deal of the merits of supply depends on the answer to this question; Do we consider that at the present time the biggest issue is the solution of the refugee problem, as mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), or do we consider that it is the finding of a peaceful solution between Israel and the Arab States?
I believe myself that we in this country have tended to argue that if only we can solve the refugee problem everything else will flow from that. So far as the Arab countries are concerned, they say that the Arab refugee problem and the rehabilitation of those people cannot be decided until we have finally decided whether the State of Israel is to be permanently at war with them or not.
I should have thought that the real issue is whether the State of Israel is to be permanently at war—on perhaps a cold basis —with the Arab States or not. That is the predominant thing in the minds of the Arab States. Until that problem has been solved, the Arab refugee problem will never be solved so far as the rehabilitation of those people is concerned.
I think that the House knows very well that at the time when we were considering the setting up of the State of Israel, I was one of those of whom it might be possible to say I was entitled now to play the strange role of Pontius 1115 Pilate. I do not intend to do so, because as long as we remain Members of this House we all have an obligation to accept the decision of the majority. I have, however, always said that when the State of Israel was set up there would be an unpeaceful atmosphere in the Middle East, always with the possibility of it leading to war. I also showed that at the time of the setting up of that State Russia was taking a great interest in the future of Israel.
Hon. Members may wonder why it is, in view of the great interest that Russia showed in the State of Israel earlier, she now appears to be taking precisely the opposite view. I ask hon. Members to turn over this possibility in their minds, as to the reason why Russia is pursuing her present policy towards Israel. I believe that she supported Israel in the setting up of that State for one reason and one reason only. She wanted an alternative country with which to bargain with this country in the Middle East, and she deliberately helped to create the State of Israel in order to get that country there. Having got it, what does she do? She then turns the whole sympathy of the world on to that country by persecuting the Jews and comes to the Arab countries as a friend of the Arabs. I believe that lies at the kernel of the whole of this problem which we are discussing today.
What is the point of supplying arms to these countries? I do not believe that anyone can say that my right hon. Friend, or any on this side of the House, want to supply arms to countries in order that they should fight each other in the way visualised by some. What I believe we want—and what I certainly want— is to see the cause which I believe to be right protected as well as may be in the Middle East. Do we or do we not in this House consider that Russia is likely to be a menace in the Middle East? If we do consider that Russia may be a menace in the Middle East at any time, surely one way, judging by history, of making certain that Russia will eventually take advantage of the position is for us to denude all those countries of any arms at all. That really is the issue before us today.
Many believe that Russia is anxious to exert pressure on the Middle East 1116 either by a cold war method or by a hot war method. As long as we cannot answer "No." for certain to the possibility of Russia going on to hot war methods in the Middle East, then so long will it be necessary for us to arm these States, however unfit some of us may think they are to be armed. We must have strength in the Middle East. That is why I say, although I have some misgivings on a moral plane, that on the material plane we cannot avoid facing up to this issue.
Do we want a power vacuum in the Middle East or do we want more strength to stand up against aggression? All that I have said this afternoon, I say knowing full well just how much this has caused me to think on the moral issue, as it has obviously caused other hon. Members to think. I ask them to believe that it is not because I am trying to dodge the moral issue that I have said what I have said today. It is because I believe this to be a material problem which has to be faced up to that I have tried to show what some of these material factors are today.
I believe that the Government themselves have considerable misgiving about this, and I should like to say one word to the Government. I think that there is no surer way to unsettle the peace and security of the Middle East than by our evacuating the Suez Canal Zone. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) touched on this earlier in the debate, and I agree with much that he said. So far as the Suez Canal Zone is concerned, I believe that if we evacuate that area we are increasing the likelihood of the Arab States going into Israel again very markedly.
Of all the stupid ideas I have ever heard is the one which suggests that we should move the whole of our forces in the Suez Canal Zone into Cyprus. Cyprus has not only all the disadvantages which go with an island, but she is within fighter range of the mainland, and we do not yet know whether the mainland will be on our side or the other. I hope that the Government will at least face up to the realities and not play the tragic role which they played over the Sudan, and will face up to the issue of where our interests lie. That is what matters most to me and, I believe, matters most to British people wherever they live. I 1117 believe that we have tried to take everyone's point of view and as a result we have taken none. We have to face up to what we believe to be British interests, because if we believe this country is worth living in then, presumably, we believe it because we believe that the British way of life is worthy of emulation throughout the world.
It is for that reason that I say that in the British interest we should stay in the Canal Zone and that we should make sure that no power vacuum is allowed to arise in the Middle East, because someone else will fill it if we do not.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
I am not sure whether the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) was making a speech which he had prepared as a contribution to this debate or whether he was attempting to make the speech which he was denied the right to make at a recent private meeting of the Conservative Party, when the Sudan Agreement was revealed to other hon. Members of the House before it was revealed to the rest of the House of Commons. Certainly his speech today would have been more apposite on that occasion.
As to the main part of his remarks in relation to what we are discussing today, it seemed to me that they were answered in advance by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton). If it is true that the main consideration about this matter that we must bear in mind is the effect that it will have on policies being pursued by the Soviet Government, or policies which they would like to pursue, surely there is nothing that the Soviet Government would like to see more than an increase of tension in the Middle East.
The whole of the case put by many hon. Members on this side of the House and by many hon. Members on the other side during the debate is precisely that this action will increase tension in the Middle East. The action recently taken by the Soviet Government is a further reason why we should restrain the Government from continuing along this course. In the rest of his speech the hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to agree with the commendably brief speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith). I see 1118 the hon. and gallant Gentleman nodding his head.
We all know the views that both hon. Members have expressed in this House on Middle Eastern issues, and I am sure that they hold their views sincerely, but both the hon. and gallant Gentleman and my hon. Friend, throughout all our discussions on the Middle East, have been violently opposed to the State of Israel, violently opposed to the whole idea of a Jewish National Home and passionately in support of what they consider to be the Arab cause. It is interesting that, apart from the speech of the Minister of State, the only two speeches we have had openly in favour of the policy which is being pursued by the Government have been delivered by hon. Members who, throughout their careers in this House, have been passionately opposed to the State of Israel. That is a significant fact.
The Government cannot be very well pleased about the other speeches which have been delivered in their defence. Every speech from the Opposition has opposed the Government and there have also been three or four speeches from the Government side of the House opposing the Government's action. The only extensive defence of the Government was attempted by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). The right hon. and gallant Gentleman sometimes speaks in terms of paradoxes and the more paradoxical his speech becomes the more certain one is paradoxes, and the more paradoxical his that he has a bad case to defend.
If there is anything in what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, if the whole of his case is based on the belief that it is absolutely wrong to break contracts of this nature once they have been entered into and if he is so brave a Parliamentarian as he led us to believe in his speech, why did he not deliver that speech on a previous occasion when a Labour Government was sending arms to the Middle East? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not then say how monstrous it would be to break the contract. I do not think we need pay very much attention to his intervention. He was trying to do what he has probably been practising in some of the private meetings of the Conservative Party, to come to the rescue of the Foreign Secretary, and none of us will deny that the Foreign Secretary is in need of that.
1119 I turn now to what the Minister of State said in defence of this action. We are entitled to take his defence of what has been done rather than that given by other hon. Members. A number of other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), have already drawn attention to a strange remark made by the Minister of State, that if we did not supply these arms to the Middle East States, other countries would do so. The Minister of State made a most surprising additional comment. He suggested that if other countries would have come in and supplied the Middle Eastern States with these arms, instead of the matter being directed by Britain, it might be directed by countries who have not the same subtle, brilliant knowledge of the Middle East always shown by the Foreign Office. He commented that an appalling catastrophe would befall the Middle East if the matter were to be dealt with by some other country which had not our long tradition of matchless, triumphant diplomatic success.
I take a different view about the tradition of the Foreign Office in these matters. The Foreign Office ought to be modest about the Middle East. In the past six or seven years everything the Foreign Office has proposed about the Middle East has come unstuck. What has happened in the Middle East is entirely different from what successive Permanent Secretaries have, presumably, advised Foreign Ministers was likely to take place. This is a tall claim to make, but I should say that there is no subject on which the Foreign Office has been more consistently wrong than the affairs of the Middle East. They gave the wrong advice to the previous Government, and I am sorry to say that the previous Government took it. They are now giving the wrong advice to the present Government, and what some of us are trying to do is to bring this procedure to an end. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland said that he himself, or others—I was not quite sure of the distinction—were not going to embark upon polemical reminiscence.
§ Mr. Foot
My right hon. Friend employed a masterly restraint. He showed 1120 his usual wisdom. However, particularly when charges of hypocrisy are made from both sides of the House. some of us are entitled to say that we were opposed to the sending of arms to the Middle East when it was done by a previous Government.
It is not impressive to us for the Minister of State to say that we are now selling fewer arms to the Middle East than we did in 1950 when the Labour Government were in office. Some of us believed that the whole procedure of sending arms to the Middle East was wrong and in 1950 we brought it to a halt for a while. That is a further answer to the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove. This is restarting a process which was stopped. This action has not been going on all the time. This is restarting the procedure of selling arms to the Middle Eastern countries while many of them are still formally in a state of war and actually in a state of great tension. This is restarting the process in circumstances of great difficulty and confusion. Therefore, some of us are trying to do what many did when the Labour Government were sending arms to those countries; we are trying to bring it to a stop
I do not know whether all the representatives of the Foreign Office have now left the Chamber. At all events, I cannot see one there. Perhaps they have gone to look up what the policy of the Foreign Office was in these matters. Until they return, I will fill in the time by telling the House what it was, though we ought to have at least one representative of the Foreign Office here, especially as I referred earlier to matters relating particularly to the Foreign Office. If the Foreign Office representatives packed up altogether we should be very pleased. If we could only have a similar clearance of some of the Middle Eastern advisers to the Foreign Office we should be even more pleased. The Minister of State who made the speech is absent, the Foreign Secretary, who listened to it, has now cleared off, and the Joint UnderSecretary has now cleared off. Perhaps they are scuttling. I think that is the right word.
The arguments put forward by the Mimster of State were appallingly contradictory, and if they were not contradictory they were highly menacing. I believe they were both highly menacing 1121 and appallingly contradictory. It was first said that very few planes were being supplied. Next we were given the economic argument that the sale of planes could play an important part in solving our balance of payments problem. The statement was made that if we were to earn our living in the world we must sell arms abroad, and we were told that we were looking for markets in that area, and it was emphasised how difficult and dangerous it would be if we forfeited those markets. That was drawing a picture not of a small trickle of arms which was to be kept to a trickle, but of how we were going ahead to build up the markets and make a further contribution towards the solution of our balance of payments problem.
I am glad to see that the Joint UnderSecretary has returned to the Chamber. I am sure he would not want me to repeat everything I have said. He will be able to find out tomorrow what I have said.
The argument of the Minister of State was contradictory. All hon. Members who heard it will agree that no one could set any store by the economic arguments which were presented. The stronger one allowed the economic arguments to be, the weaker became the latter part of the Minister's case when he said that the number of planes was so small that they could not be used for any effective action against British troops or the Israelites or anyone else in the Middle East. At the beginning of his speech he spoke of very few planes, a trickle; in the middle of his speech it became a mighty flood to solve our balance of payments problem; and by the end of his speech it was a trickle again. This is the picture left by the six reasons which were given by the Minister of State. I am coming to the seventh which he did not mention at all.
He did not deal with the relevant point put by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner), although he said that he would deal with it. The Minister of State did not deal with the question of parity, nor did he touch upon the gross advantage allowed under these arrangements to the Arab States. Having failed to do that, it is quite useless for the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove to come 1122 along later and say it was just a symbolic act. It is something more than that.
While the Minister of State gave us quite inadequate reasons for what was done, he did not give us the real reason. My suggestion as to the real reason why this action was taken, particularly when we take into account the time when it was restarted, was that it was a decision by Her Majesty's Government or the Foreign Office—always the possessor of mysterious knowledge about the Arab States—to discover ways in which we could ease the agreement that we wanted to make with Egypt and other Arab States. In other words, it was an act of appeasement towards the Arab States in general, and towards Egypt in particular.
I am not saying that that might necessarily be a reason for a criticism of it. One of the disservices which Conservative Government policy before the war did not merely to this country but to the English language was to degrade the word "appeasement." Some acts of appeasement are right and justified, some are incorrect and immoral. Here the course adopted by the Foreign Office— it always thinks in terms of appeasements —was to argue in this fashion: "If we can sell these arms it may have some effect somehow—we are not quite sure how it will work out in easing the kind of agreement we want to make with Egypt later."
I believe —and I have as much right to talk of this as the Foreign Office; sometimes I have been right, whereas they have always been wrong—that the psychology of the Arab States works differently. I am entirely in favour of the Agreement made by the Foreign Secretary about the Sudan. I hope that he will stick to it, and I hope that he will go on to make a larger agreement with Egypt on the other outstanding issues. I wish him every success. I think that the attempt being made by Conservative back benchers in this House to destroy or undermine this Agreement is a dangerous thing.
I am in favour of making an agreement with Egypt, but I do not think we are helping things by selling them arms in this fashion, particularly when they are not entitled to them in view of their failure to try to make an effective and genuine peace with Israel. What we should give to the Egyptians is what they 1123 are entitled to. What we should not give them is what they are not entitled to have. What the Egyptians are entitled to have is control over their own country, and the removal of the armed forces of another Power from that country. I do not think that they are entitled to have arms which they might use against a country with whom they themselves still declare they are at war. The Egyptians would respect us very much more if we had said on this issue of supplying arms to Middle Eastern States, "We are not prepared to reopen discussions on the supply of arms in this fashion until you have reached a reasonable settlement with Israel and with other States."
The issue with which the Minister of State did not deal at all in his speech was how these countries are to pay for these arms. What an example we are giving to the world at this time. The whole of the Middle East, on the Government's own confession, is in the state of tension and flux, and we are seeking to get an agreement between the countries concerned to pacify them. Just at this point the Minister of State gets up in the House of Commons and says, "We have to sell arms abroad to maintain our balance of payments and assist our economic position. This is a most important aspect of our economic policy and we are not worrying very much "—I do not say this is actually what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, but it is the inference—" whether they are really able to pay for them."
In the matter of the economic position of the Middle East we have to remember that by our action in selling these aircraft to Egypt we are imposing on the State of Israel a further burden on top of all the other burdens which she has to carry, namely, the buying of similar aircraft. But not only has she to pay for arms, but we also have the ludicrous situation that pilots from Egypt and from Israel are being sent to this country to be trained. Each of them, I gather, costs the country concerned about £4,000 to train. That is a monstrous situation, and is due to a new departure in policy by the British Government, because they reopened an issue which we hoped had been closed.
In deciding her economic priorities, Israel has to divide her income into allocations for more rebuilding of her war 1124 stricken land; how much should be given to help refugees; how much should be given to starting new factories; and how much should be allocated to erecting new schools. Now, on top of all that, the British Government tells Israel, in effect, that she has to buy arms to defend herself, and in the House of Commons the Minister of State tells us that the reason for it is, "We want to sell arms to help settle our balance of payments problem."
§ Air Commodore Harvey
The hon. Gentleman has told us that Israel is sending pilots here to be trained to fly jet aircraft. The Government of which he was a supporter sent a supply of Vampire aircraft to Israel and pilots there are capable of flying them without being sent to this country to train.
§ Mr. Foot
If I am wrong I shall be very glad to be corrected. [Interruption.] I will not be corrected by the other hon. Gentleman who has just intervened, because he does not know what he is talking about. I believe it is true that pilots from some of these Arab States and I think from Egypt have been sent to this country to train and even if it is not so and they are not actually being sent to this country, some Israeli pilots have been sent. Therefore, the whole of my argument stands because they are being trained in other countries and this imposes an economic burden on them.
This is a monstrous thing not only for Israel, but for all the other countries. They should be deciding how much more they can devote to building up the economic life of their land. Instead, this extra burden has been imposed upon them with the added risks of contributing to the tension and further distress of the Middle East. I implore Her Majesty's Government to have the courage to carry out what they said they would when they were on this side of the House.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
I want to get the argument of the hon. Member clear. Is he implying that we are forcing Israel to buy these planes?
§ Mr. Foot
I am saying exactly that. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the State of Israel had to be fought for against all the other Arab States around it. If these Arab States are being supplied with jet aircraft then, of course, any Israel Government has to have jet 1125 aeroplanes and arms as well. The State of Israel will sacrifice anything to defend itself against its enemies, and I say that it is a monstrous thing to require it to make this additional sacrifice.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
This has been a useful debate, perhaps all the more useful by reason of the fact that it has to some extent cut across party lines. It might have been even more valuable if some hon. Members on both sides of the House had imported rather less prejudice into their speeches. I know that it is difficult not to do so. I confess frankly at the beginning of these remarks that I have a very strong emotional link with Israel and with the Jewish people. It is something that I share with hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House, and I know that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches feel just as strongly on this issue as I do myself.
I confess that I was disappointed with the remarks of the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), and I hope that the Prime Minister has a more consistent regard for the interests of the Middle East and of the State of Israel than has the right hon. and gallant Member. It was the Prime Minister who, in his speech to Congress a year ago, referred to the Israelis as the people who were transforming deserts into gardens. It was the Prime Minister in a debate in this House in 1951 who referred to the fighting superiority of the Israelis over the Egyptians. I have sometimes wondered whether he had in mind the passage in the second Book of Kings which the Government might ponder tonight:Behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, upon which if a man lean. it will go into his hand, and pierce itThat is one of the dangers to which the Government are laying themselves open. I still stand by the views of President Eisenhower who, in the course of his election campaign, described Israel as "Democracy's outpost in the Middle East."
An hon. Gentleman opposite said he was not sure whether the position of Israel was relevant to the debate. I think he was wrong. If we are facing the likelihood of Israel getting arms herself but 1126 being surrounded by five Arab States all of whom are getting the same kind of arms, it almost inevitably follows that the future of that country is to some extent in jeopardy. I believe two things about Israel. I believe, in the first instance, that the self-respect of the whole civilised world depends upon maintaining the independence and the integrity of that country. I believe, too, that the future and the prosperity of the Middle East largely depend upon the existence and the enterprise which Israel shows. That prosperity can be achieved in full measure only if we can guarantee the security of Israel and so conduce to the wellbeing not only of Israel itself but of the Middle East as a whole.
A very fair reference has been made to the record of my right hon. Friends in this matter. The hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) and a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite asked why it was all right for the Labour Government to do this, and why it is wrong for the Conservative Government at the present time. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) has disposed to a large extent of that somewhat specious point of view, but it is interesting to consider the psychology which that question reveals. It denotes a certain inferiority complex on the part of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
It implies an assumption that if the Labour Government did something it is perfectly all right for the party opposite to do exactly the same. There is another point, too. At the time that this mistake was committed hon. Gentlemen opposite pointed out to us the error of judgment. If it was a mistake to do it then, it is doubly culpable to do it in the circumstances of today when hon. Gentlemen on the Government side are only too well aware of the mistake that was made at that time.
What happened in 1950, and up to that time? There had been various types of aircraft supplied to the Middle East. A Hunt class destroyer, the "Cottesmore," had been re-equipped and delivered to the Egyptian Government. Centurion tanks were on their way. There was a debate in the House of Commons which I thought one of the most stimulating and exciting that I had been privileged to 1127 listen to in this House. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides protested then, as they have protested tonight, at what they regarded as the betrayal of the real interests of this country and at something which was not in the real interests of the Middle East as a whole.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite officially, on behalf of the then Opposition, put a Motion on the Order Paper. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), with some enterprise I thought, was successful in obtaining the Adjournment that very day to raise the issue which was causing such dismay throughout the House. At the end of the debate when hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as hon. Members of the Labour Party had protested against this action, my right hon. Friend from the Government Front Bench said that the Government would change their policy and would do what the House of Commons so clearly wished. That is exactly what we are asking the Government to do today.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
Surely the hon. Member will try to be fair and will admit that the orders were accepted and deliveries were about to take place, as opposed to the position today, and that the position has changed out of all knowledge. In spite of the Adjournment debate of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, the then Government did continue to supply the Egyptians with spares for the jet aircraft to keep the aircraft flying.
§ Mr. Greenwood
It is true that the Government continued to supply spares for the aircraft which had already been delivered. On the first point put by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, which is perfectly fair, a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite have talked of fulfilling contracts which have been made. It is one of the most important things in the national life of this country that contractual obligations should be honoured, not only in the spirit but in the letter. If a country or a commercial undertaking accepts contractual obligations it is then incumbent upon them to see that those obligations are honourably discharged. There have been occasions, of course, when contractual obligations have not been treated in that way.
1128 Let us apply that principle to the question that this House was facing in November, 1950, when there was a general upsurge of hon. Members in this House which brought about a change of policy on the part of His Majesty's Government. I referred a moment ago to the Motion which the Opposition tabled officially on that occasion. The hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield should listen to the terms of that Motion, because they are relevant to the interjection that he made. It was a very simple Motion. and it reads:That this House regrets that His Majesty's Government are unwilling to suspend the export of arms, including Centurion tanks, to Egypt, whether as a result of previous contracts or otherwise, while the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 is being challenged by the Egyptian Government.If ever there was a clear indication of the way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite regard contractual obligations, it is contained in that Motion.
It is a fairly nauseating spectacle—I am trying to keep heat out of this debate —to see hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches coming to this House in white sheets and pleading for the sanctity of contracts when the present Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and others put their names to that Motion in 1950. The hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield suggested that the situation had changed. Indeed when the Minister of State answered a Question put by my hon. Friends the Members for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) and Devonport, and myself the other day, he made a special point in his reply of the change in the international situation since the 1950 decision to suspend the export of arms to Egypt and the Middle East.
What change has there been in the attitude of the Arab States to our own country since 1950? We debated this matter in the House in November, 1950, and again in July, 1951. The present Foreign Secretary and the present Prime Minister made out much more clearly than I could the charge which they felt lay against the Egyptian Government. They said that Egypt had challenged the Treaty of 1936, had not adhered to the United Nations Resolution in respect of Korea, and had illegally stopped the Suez Canal. The present Prime Minister, with his typical picturesqueness of phrase. said 1129 that Egypt was insulting us more bitterly every day.
How have things changed since then? They still have not adhered to the United Nations resolution on Korea. They are still challenging the treaty of 1926. The Suez Canal is still blocked to British tankers, whatever the Egyptians allow the Italians to do. Surely hon. Gentlemen opposite are not suggesting that the language of the Egyptians about this country has moderated to any extent compared with the language they were using in 1950?
Since then we have had a deterioration of the position. We have had the attack on our own troops in the Canal Zone. We have had riots in Cairo and in other towns. We have had a determination on the part of the Arab countries to resist the attempts of the United Nations to bring peace to a warring Middle East. We have had General Neguib referring to us, who perhaps have done more for Egypt than any other country in the world, as "the enemy in their midst." And then there is this sorry, this contemptible story of the passage of the
Miriella "through the Suez Canal the other day. There was an Italian tanker taking oil which had been stolen from Persia a country in respect of which right hon. Gentlemen opposite were clamouring for firm action when they wanted to win an election—and to which they have not ceased to truckle ever since; an Italian tanker coming from one of our former enemies, with oil which had been stolen from us, going through a Suez Canal which was blocked to our own tankers and, indignity of indignities, escorted by an Egyptian warship through the canal, carrying oil for the enrichment of the family of Marshal Badoglio.
What a triumph of diplomacy right hon. Gentlemen have achieved when, so high is our prestige in the Middle East that Egypt treats us in this way, and what a wonderful change in the situation. The "Miriella" is now safely in dock in Venice and another tanker, the "Rocco" has left Genoa to sail to the Persian Gulf. All that is happening and the attitude of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite is that the situation today is so much better than it was at the time we did these things. The other day the Minister of State paid a special tribute to General Neguib and said that when the General became Prime Minister we decided to 1130 alter our policy and to ship arms to the Middle East. There again was a somewhat curious distortion of the facts.
§ Mr. Greenwood
What the right hon. and learned Gentleman said was this:After the advent to power of General Neguib last July, we decided in November, in response to Egyptian requests, to release a limited number of jet aircraft from among those still outstanding on the Egyptian order." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1953; Vol. 510, c. 1468.]Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not decide to honour our contract after the return to power of General Neguib because he thought that the General had made the situation worse? Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not going in for a programme and policy of appeasement? Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not realise what a menace General Neguib was to this country and decided to buy him off with a handful of these trifling jet aircraft—which was virtually the way he referred to them a few minutes ago?
Is General Neguib the friend of this country? Is he really the sort of person to whom we ought to supply these arms? I think there is a lot to be said for him. He has cleaned up Egyptian politics and. heaven knows, Egyptian politics needed cleaning up. I think he has the vestiges of an economic and agricultural programme which will probably be in the interests of the Egyptian people. He has probably given the Jews in Egypt the security which they have not had in years. On the debit side, it is no good hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite fooling themselves into believing that General Neguib is anything but the implacable enemy of this country and that he cherishes friendly feelings towards the Israelis.
Then there is this curious series of six questions which the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked and then himself answered. There was the really surprising point that it is in the financial interest of this country that we should be supplying these arms. It was in the financial interest of this country that the Labour Government should have supplied arms to any country that would have bought them, whether they were countries 1131 behind the Iron Curtain, whether they were countries in the Middle East or not. Yet we never heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman complaining, in those days when the Labour Government decided to stop the shipment of arms to the Middle East, that thereby we were damaging the financial and economic prospects of this country. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman adopts this attitude, surely we have then to sell them to any country in the world which wants to buy them, whether it is made difficult for us by the Battle Act or not—I think it would be wrong to do it but the right hon. and learned Gentleman must follow out the logical consequences of the policy which he has adopted.
It will not be any consolation to the wives of those working class men and women in Leicester. to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith) referred, if the jets that we are sending to the Middle East are used for helping to block the Suez Canal and are used in incidents against our Forces in the Canal Zone. And it will not be any alibi for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if any disaster of that kind happens, to say, "There was money in it and we jeopardised the interests of this country because there were economic and financial reasons for doing so." I beg hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to pause tonight and think before they let it go out from this House that this is the serious and considered policy of Her Majesty's Government.
Then again there is this curious attitude of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that if we did not do this. other people would do it. That has been the great excuse for crime and for wrongdoing throughout the centuries "If I do not do this-—If I do not steal—If I do not bully—If I do not attack somebody, somebody else will do it." Hon. Gentlemen opposite were perfectly right to say that this is a wrong moral attitude to adopt. I was particularly glad when the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson), whose speech I thought was a resolute and sincere contribution to this debate, was able to teach a lesson of that kind to his hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench.
1132 Why is it, as one hon. Member asked, that we are not allowed to know how many of these aircraft are involved'? We know from the Press how many Meteors have been sent to Brazil under the barter agreement which has been reached between this country and Brazil. Yet for some reason we cannot know how many are going to the countries of the Middle East in spite of the fact that newspaper after newspaper has speculated—and I believe speculated rightly about the numbers involved.
Now I pass to the curious point of the right hon. and learned Gentleman about what is to be done with the arms we send. Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not suggesting that these weapons are necessary for internal security; that, if there is trouble in the Mousski in Cairo, General Neguib will bring out his jet aircraft? The right hon. and learned Gentleman was getting a little more plausible when he talked about the real menace being the menace of Communist aggression, but does he really think that these obsolescent jet aircraft will be a very effective barrier against any advance of the Russian steam roller across the Middle East? I thought that the "Daily Telegraph" put that argument in its proper perspective when it said that the Russians would shoot down the Egyptian jets as though they were partridges. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that the arms we are supplying to the Middle East, although they could be most effective against other Middle East countries or against our troops in the Canal Zone. would be quite ineffective in stopping any advance of Russian armies across the Middle East.
It really brings us back to the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) in a speech at Halifax the other day when he said that we cannot resist the conclusion that the Arab countries, and particularly Egypt, want these aircraft in order that they can use them for a second round against Israel. General Neguib was reported in the New York Times "the other day as telling a delegation of majors at Gaza: "As soon as we rid ourselves of the enemy in our midst "— 1133 that is all of us in this House tonight—we shall work for the liberation of Palestine and hand it back to its inhabitants.It is true that a spokesman of the Egyptian Government later rather watered that down and said that they did not want a war with Israel, but it is a little unfortunate that the Egyptian Prime Minister should make a statement of that kind just at the time when hon. Members opposite are supplying the Egyptian Government with arms in order that they may make for the stability and security of the Middle East.
Colonel Shishekly, the dictator of Syria, or the Governor of Syria, told us the other day that Damascus was still "the watch tower of Saladin, the liberator of Palestine from usurping conquerors." The same gentleman also told us that "the Middle East is not large enough for both Arabs and Jews." "Al Misri," one of the most influential papers in Egypt, tells us that:The Arabs are determined not only to smash Israel but to exterminate Imperialism.They have started, with the able support of lion. Members opposite, to smash Imperialism. I would rather that hon. Members opposite paused a moment to consider whether it is in the interests of this country or of the Middle East that the Arab countries should be allowed to continue with their campaign for smashing Israel as well.
Supposing it is right, morally, to supply these arms to the Middle East. Can the Government really seriously contend that it is right to supply them to the Middle East at this particular juncture? It is a moment when the Arabs have acted with complete intransigeance in the United Nations. What an encouragement it is to the extremists in those countries if they can say, "It is no use talking to the British. Be rude, kick them around and they will give you jet aircraft." What an encouragement to them to behave even worse and perhaps get bombers or other more effective aircraft. Is that the way Her Majesty's Government are to conduct diplomacy for this country? That is carrying on the mistakes of generation after generation in the last 50 years when what we have refused to men of moderate ideas we have in the long run conceded to extremists at the point of the pistol or of the sword.
Is it really right for hon. Members opposite to be handing over these arms 1134 at a time when we have been involved in negotiations about the Sudan and when we are on the point of commencing negotiations over Suez? Is it right to do this at a time when there is an intensification of the tremendous barrage of Soviet propaganda against Israel? Is it right to impose a burden like this upon Israel at a time when Israel's financial difficulties, heaven knows, are almost incapable of solution?
In conclusion, I say this to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Government will be pressed fairly hard from the benches behind them during the next few weeks. It is reported, I notice—and I heard his intervention the other day— that the right hon. Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) feels strongly on some of these Middle East problems. Knowing him, I feel sure that he will press the Government strongly from the very considerable position he holds on the back benches. But the Government will have pressure from sources not quite so responsible as the right hon. Gentleman. There was, for example, an article by Lord Killearn in the "Sunday Express," which I thought was not a very responsible or sensible article.
We on these benches are prepared to give the Government the support they are entitled to have provided they conduct diplomatic negotiations in the sensible way which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) suggested this afternoon. It is no good behaving in the way in which the Government are behaving at the moment. We would say to them. "Do not yield to the clamour which will develop on the benches behind you but go ahead with clear aims, and without increasing the stresses and antagonisms of the Middle East. Do whatever you can to bring peace to those countries, to settle the Arab refugees and to make a real contribution to the progress and prosperity of the area."
If the Government are prepared to do that they will have the unqualified support of right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House. But if in the winding up speech tonight they can offer nothing more helpful and constructive than the Minister of State offered us earlier, we on these benches shall have no hesitation in dividing the House against the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
Perhaps I might do my best in the remaining quarter of an hour to answer some of the points which have been made and some of the questions which have been put in this debate. Before I do so. may I begin by endorsing the wish of the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Norman Smith) that at the end of this debate there shall be no Division, the more so because, as my right hon. and learned Friend showed in his speech, Her Majesty's present Government have done so very much less in this respect than did the late Government.
The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) spoke with deep sincerity and moderation on a topic very close to his heart the position of Israel. I am happy, of course, to be able to remind him that Her Majesty's Government are pledged under Article 3 of the Tripartite Declaration of May, 1950, to uphold inviolate the frontiers of Israel.
I think that everyone in the House has felt that this debate had a rather familiar ring about it. Without in any way wishing to indulge in polemical reminiscences —we had some sound advice from the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton)—I should like to cast a brief glance at history in order to set the matter in its proper perspective.
It is common knowledge in this House that jet aircraft were available to the States of the Middle East as early as 1949. Deliveries had started and were only stopped on the outbreak of the Korean war in the summer of 1950. Then, owing to the acceleration of the rearmament programme to meet the threatening international situation, it was impossible to supply aircraft to the Middle East or any other friendly nation other than our partners in the Commonwealth and in the North Atlantic Treaty. That state of affairs lasted two years and it was last year, as the Minister of State reminded the House, that the Prime Minister announced, on 30th July, that Her Majesty's Government intended to increase the export of armaments, including aeroplanes.
At the same time, owing to the increased production of our aircraft industry and to the development of newer types of jet fighters, aircraft became 1136 available for sale abroad to friendly countries outside the Commonwealth and N.A.T.O. for the first time for two years. Some of the speeches made in this debate have suggested that we were pouring in vast quantities of the most dangerous of modern weapons to countries in the Middle East. I do ask the House to realise that this is not so. The total number of jet aircraft delivered in the past few months—I pass over those delivered by the previous Government, of course— is less than a score.
I cannot give any further details. l have been pressed on all sides of the House to give further details of our sales and the number of aircraft which have gone and which are going, but I cannot do so. I rely for that refusal upon the doctrine laid down by the former Minister of Defence, the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who said on 18th April, 1951:It would be contrary to practice to disclose figures of cost or other details of contracts with foreign governments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April. 1951; Vol. 486. c. 1818.]Therefore, I cannot say more than I have said about the numbers that have gone, but I think, none the less, that I have said enough to show that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) is quite wrong in stating, as he did, that we were sending enough aircraft to Arab States for them to destroy the State of Israel within a matter of a few hours.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) said that the Opposition had in no way made out a case in this debate for stopping deliveries. I would go further than that and say that I consider that my right hon. and learned Friend made out an overwhelming case for continuing to send the existing supplies. I should like to make it quite plain that it is not just a question of sending jet aircraft to Egypt. It is a question of sending them to the Middle East, and I think that the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, who initiated the debate, will agree that the topic of the debate is the question of jets for the Middle East.
§ Mr. Nutting
Some States have had deliveries and have placed orders. Besides all that, there are two countries 1137 with whom we have treaty obligations, namely, Iraq and Jordan, who are entitled to modern military equipment if they ask for it.
Several hon. Members, notably the hon. Members for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), suggested that my right hon. and learned Friend's argument on economic grounds was a trivial argument. First, may I make it plain that this was not his main point. May I remind the House of what he said about the contract for aircraft that we have signed with Brazil. That contract, so I am advised, has enabled 2,000 men to remain in employment for six months when they would otherwise have been stood off for that period. I consider that to be a considerable economic advantage.
Quite apart from that, the markets in the Middle East are important to this country. I want the House to appreciate that they are important to this country and that if we do not sell in these countries it is not only a question of other countries who may not have the same concern for or the same understanding of these problems, but it is a question of our competitors selling in those markets, too.
Silverman: Does the hon. Gentleman really say that the Government are inviting the British House of Commons to sanction the supply of arms to two contending parties because we can sit in the background and make a profit out of it? If that is his argument, will he take it a step further and tell us how long the Government propose to keep this tension going so that we can continue to derive these economic benefits?
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that that is not my argument, and it was not the argument of my right hon. and learned Friend.
§ Mr. Nutting
I will come to the question of the contending parties and tension in a moment, if the hon. Gentleman will have patience.
I have been asked about payment for these aircraft. Payment will be on a normal cash basis, but it is open to purchasers to ask for credit terms and for the exporters to arrange for an export 1138 credit guarantee through the facilities of the Board of Trade. The sterling balances do not enter into these transactions at all. They will not be used in payment at all. Therefore, I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) may feel reassured upon that point.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland asked how this transaction can possibly help to defend the peace. I should have thought that it had surely been accepted by this time in this House that armed strength is a help to peace and that weakness is a temptation to aggressors. That certainly is the view of Her Majesty's Government and it is the consideration which we have had to take into account.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson) suggested that Israel would be happier if no one in the Middle East had any jets at all. That may be so. That may be my hon. Friend's opinion, but the fact remains— and nobody can escape from this—that other nations, including the Arab nations, have got jet aircraft as a result of previous deliveries arranged by the previous Government. Therefore, if we were to take the advice of the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, and put a stop to these deliveries now, it would mean that we were stopping Israel from getting any deliveries at all.
The hon. Members for Nelson and Caine and for Devonport (Mr. Foot) made great play with the argument that Israel was forced to buy these aircraft because the Arab States were already receiving jet aircraft from this country. The historical facts do not at all bear out these allegations that the Israelis were forced by our sales to the Arab States to buy jets themselves. In point of historical fact, the Israel Government had already approached Her Majesty's Government with a request to buy jets before Her Majesty's Government took the decision last August to release jets to the Middle East.
§ Mr. Nutting
To suggest, as the two hon. Members said, that by allowing 1139 more jets to go to the Middle East we were imposing a burden upon Israel is a completely false point. The historical facts which I have quoted prove the falsity of that point.
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Gentleman is asking me to disclose confidential discussions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] How can I disclose to the House of Commons confidential discussions between my right hon. Friend and members of the Foreign Office and foreign representatives? This really is a very strange doctrine.
There has been a lot of talk during the course of the debate about the danger of raising the temperature and the danger that these sales will start hostilities between the Arabs and Israel again. It has been pointed out that no peace treaty as such exists between Israel and her neighbour. Let me also point out that the state of war, which, I admit, exists and continues to exist, between Israel and her former Arab enemy, is a purely technical state of war. What is more, the countries to whom we have authorised the sale of jets have given us the assurances that were required of them by the Tripartite Declaration.
May I make another point on this Tripartite Declaration. The hon. Member for Devonport accused the Government of selling jets to appease the Arab States. Let me remind him of paragraph 1 of the Tripartite Declaration, which reads:The three Governments recognise that the Arab States and Israel all need to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purposes of assuring their internal security and their legitimate self-defence and to permit them to play their part in the defence of the area as a whole. All applications for arms or war material for these countries will be considered in the light of these principles.
§ That is precisely what we are doing; we are considering these applications from Arab States and Israel in the light of these principles—principles which were enunciated by the late Government. Therefore, I say to the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland and his hon. Friends that if they divide against the Government on this issue tonight they are, in fact, repudiating the terms of that Declaration.
§ This was not a lighthearted decision by Her Majesty's Government. It has been suggested that we have entered into these contracts and released these sales for one reason or another, none of which has borne any relation to the realities of the situation in the Middle East. I can assure the House that the Government have weighed the arguments very carefully, both for and against. My right hon. Friend said at Question time in the House the other day that there are arguments against, and we have heard arguments against from both sides of the House during the debate. But on the whole the Government have considered that the decision to release these sales is a correct and a right decision—
§ We do not think that these sales will increase tension in the Middle East. We think they will assist us economically and help to maintain both our exports and our armament production. We think they will be a contribution to the defence of the Middle Eastern countries and as such, a contribution to peace and stability in that vital strategic area.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. BuchanHepburn)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 238; Noes. 267.1143
|Division No. 95.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Balfour, A.||Boardman, H|
|Adams, Richard||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A G|
|Allen Scholefield (Crewe)||Bartley, P.||Bowden, H. W.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Bence, C. R.||Bowen, E R.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Bowles, F. G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Benson, G.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Awbery, S. S.||Beswick, F.||Brockway, A. F.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Blenkinsop, A.||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)|
|Baird, J.||Blyton, W. R.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Janner, B.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Carmichael, J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Ross, William|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Short, E. W.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Collick, P. H.||Keenan, W.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kenyon, C.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Cove, W. G.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||King, Dr. H. M.||Slater, J.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Kinley, J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Snow, J. W.|
|Daines, P.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lewis, Arthur||Sparks, J. A.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Steele, T.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||MacColl, J. E.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Deer, G.||McGhee, H. G.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Delargy, H. J.||McGovern, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McInnes, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McLeavy, F.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. H.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Edelman, M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mann. Mrs. Jean||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Manuel, A. C.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mayhew, C. P.||Thornton, E.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mellish, R. J.||Tomney, F,|
|Fernyhough, E.||Messer, F.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mikardo, Ian||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Finch, H. J.||Mitchison, G. R.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Monslow, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Follick, M.||Moody, A. S.||Wade, D. W.|
|Foot, M. M.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morley, R.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Weitzman, D.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mort, D. L.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moyle, A.||West, D. G.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mulley, F. W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Murray, J. D.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Nally, W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||O'Brien, T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Grimond, J.||Oliver, G. H.||Wigg, George|
|Hale, Leslie||Oswald, T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Padley, W. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Paget, R. T.||Willey, F. T.|
|Hannan, W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillerv)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Paton, J.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Pearson, A.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Hastings, S.||Peart, T. F.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Popplewell, E.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Porter, G.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Holman, P.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Proctor, W. T.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Pryde, D. J.||Yates, V. F.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Rankin, John|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Richards, R.||Mr. Holmes and Mr. Wallace.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Baldwin, A. E.||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Banks, Col. C.||Birch, Nigel|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Barber, Anthony||Bishop, F. P.|
|Amory, Heathceat (Tiverton)||Barlow, Sir John||Black, C. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Beach, Maj. Hicks||Boothby, R. J. G.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Bossom, A. C.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.|
|Assheton, Fit. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bennett, F M. (Reading, N.)||Boyle, Sir Edward|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Braine, B. R.|
|Baldock, Ll.-Cmdr. J. M||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H||Hollis, M C.||Peto, Brig C. H. M|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt Hon. P. G. T||Horobin, I. M||Pitman, I J|
|Bullard, D. G.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Bullock, Capt. M||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Rayner, Brig R|
|Carr, Robert||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Redmayne, M|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Channon, H.||Jennings, R.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Jones, A (Hall Green)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool S)|
|Colegate, W. A.||Johnson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Robson-Brown, W|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Kaberry, D.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Kerr, H. W.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lambton, Viscount||Russell, R. S|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Lancaster, Col C. G.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Salter, Rt. Hon Sir Arthur|
|Crouch, R. F.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Sandys, Rt. Hon D|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Savory, Prof Sir Douglas|
|Crowder, Petro (Ruislip—Northwood)||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Schofield, Lt.-Col W (Rochdale)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Scott, R Donald|
|Deedes, W. F.||Linstead, H. N.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr R.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Llewellyn, D. T.||Simon, J E S (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Smyth, Brig. J G. (Norwood)|
|Doughty, C. J. A||Longden, Gilbert||Snadden, W McN|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Low, A. R. W.||Soames, Cant C|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lucas, Sir Joce[...]yn (Portsmouth, S.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Drewe, C.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Speir, R. M.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lyttelton, Rt.Hon. O||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||McAdden, S. J.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Storey, S.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Fell, A.||McKibbin, A J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon James (Moray)|
|Finlay, Graeme||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Fort, R.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Foster, John||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Teeling, W.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Markham, Major S. F.||Tilney, John|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||Harpies, A. E.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Godber, J. B.||Maude, Angus||Turton, R. H.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Maudling, R.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Gower, H. B.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Mellor, Sir John||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nicholls, Harmar||Watkinson, H A.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Wellwood, W.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Nutting, Anthony||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Oakshott, H. D.||Williams, R Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hay, John||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Wills, G.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Orr, Capt. L. P S||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||York, C.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Osborne, C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Mr. Heath and Mr. Vosper.|
Question put, and agreed to.