HC Deb 06 March 1953 vol 512 cc788-98

3.26 p.m.

Mr. Ralph Morley (Southampton, Itchen)

I beg to move, That in the opinion of this House it should be a fundamental objective of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government to support and strengthen the United Nations and to seek its development into a federated world State open to all nations, with defined and limited powers adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression, through the enactment, interpretation and enforcement of world law. We have a very short time indeed in which to discuss this very important subject of world government. I have prepared matter for a 30 minutes' speech but I will endeavour so far as I can to compress my remarks within the compass of 10 minutes so that the seconder of the Motion may say a few words and the Minister may be able to give his reply.

For more than 50 years I have been a close observer and, to some extent, a very minor participant in the political scene. During those 50 years I have seen very great improvements indeed in the lot of ordinary men and women. In this country, at least, we have abolished abject poverty. The expectation of life is now about 22 years longer today than it was in 1900. We have extended our social services very considerably; and we are giving educational opportunities to our children which were undreamed of in 1900. In my boyhood days it would have been thought absurd to suppose that any working-class boys or girls would ever go to the two older and more expensive universities of Oxford and Cambridge: today there are large numbers of working-class boys and girls in both those universities.

When we take into account all those achievements one would think that the present age should be one of the most happy and the most contented in all the ages of history. To a very large extent, however, the great achievements of the last 50 years have been negatived by the dark cloud of fear regarding a future war which now hangs over men and women. That fear of war was not felt by our great-grandfathers. I well remember my father saying to me in the 1890's, when I was a boy, that there would never be any major war again. Most people in this country believed that right up to the end of the first decade of this century.

Since then we have experienced two great wars, which have inflicted great destruction and great suffering upon the human race; and we now live in fear of a third one. In the Second World War about 100 million soldiers, with the use of the weapons then at their disposal, killed or wounded 30 million men, women and children. But at Nagasaki and Hiroshima two atomic bombs killed or wounded about 300,000 men, women and children. We are now told that atomic bombs are being produced ten times at least as powerful as those that were used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It would be possible now for enemy agents to plant 30 atomic bombs in 30 cities of this country to be detonated at a suitable moment, which would kill and wound 30 million men, women and children at least and destroy those 30 cities.

It is evident that the chief aim of all statesmen today should be to seek peace and to ensue it. If we do not end war, war will end us. When we are considering the ending of war, we have to examine the causes of war. There was a time when I believed that ideological differences between countries led to war, but I believe that no longer.

I do not believe that the foreign policy of any country is guided by ideological motives. I think that the foreign policy of each country is determined by adequate motives relative to its security and to its interests. During the so-called religious wars of the seventeenth century France, which was then the main Catholic power of Europe, often allied itself, when it suited its national interests, with some Protestant power.

I believe that the foreign policy of Russia today is identically the same as the foreign policy of Russia under the Tsars. It is not mainly concerned with ideological motives. It is concerned with advancing the power and the influence of Russia. There was a time when I thought that wars were caused by the rivalry for markets among the capitalists of different nations. I do not think so now. There can surely be no capitalist class in any country so stupid today as to think that war would be to the advantage of capitalism. No one knows that would be the outcome of a third world war. But one thing is perfectly certain—that a third world war, whoever won it. would put an end to capitalism all over the world.

The First World War abolished capitalism in Russia. The Second World War abolished capitalism in China, and any nation engaged in a third world war, in order to wage that war successfully, would be bound to take all the activities of its citizens and all its industrial projects under centralised control if it were going to win the war. The result of a third world war, whoever won it, would be the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of some form of central control the world over.

I think that on examination the cause of war is the existence of independent sovereign national states, each one sovereign in its own rights, each one a judge in its own cause, each one jealous and apprehensive of its neighbours, each one arming if it sees its neighbours arming, and not until these independent sovereign national states are willing to give up some portion of their national sovereignty to a world government and come over under the rule of world law shall we be able to establish enduring peace.

Disarmament does not bring peace. Norway and Denmark were practically disarmed, but that did not save them from being involved in the Second World War. Re-armament such as we are engaging in now may, indeed, postpone war for a time—that would be a gain—but it certainly cannot prevent war occurring in the future. To expect rearmament to prevent war is a contradiction in terms. We cannot cast out Satan by the use of Satan.

All history shows that wars are abolished only when the separate Powers come under the rule of a common sovereignty and under a common law. The longest period of peace the human race has yet known was the first two and a half centuries of the Roman Empire when the whole known world was under the Roman Government and the Roman law. In the Middle Ages, especially in France, there were baronies in each of which the baron was, so to speak, a sovereign ruler in his own right. The barons were constantly at war with one another. Those wars ceased when the king established his central rule. The individual barons might then have been just as jealous of one another and just as great rivals as they had been, but they could not go to war with each other because they had to obey the king's peace. There was a time when England and Scotland were separate sovereignties and were constantly at war with one another, but from the time England and Scotland came under one monarch and one law, war between the two ceased.

Perhaps the most striking example is the United States. After the successful War of Independence, when the United States of America was founded, there were two schools of thought in the States. One school of thought wanted each separate state to be practically independent. The other school of thought held that each sovereign state should give up part of its sovereignty to a centralised federal authority. Thanks to the genius of Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists won the day, and the United States of America was constituted as a confederated Government. If it had not been so constituted, if the states had remained as had been wished by some at first, as national sovereign independent states, no doubt long before now Connecticut would have been at war with Massachusetts and Louisiana with Tennessee.

Sir Edward Boyle (Handsworth) rose——

Mr. Morley

I am afraid I have little time left and cannot give way. Let us contrast what has happened in North America with what has happened in South America. In South America when the various districts freed themselves from the rule of Spain, they constituted themselves not into a federated republic but into seperate independent sovereign republics and although all these republics speak the same language except for the Republic of Brazil, although they all have the same ideology, although they are all Catholic states, and although they have no capitalist rivalry to speak of between one another, because they are separate sovereign states they have been at one another's throats and have indulged in a number of wars during the past 100 years.

Those of us who believe in world government consider that history teaches us that the only road to peace is by the formation of a world government and that what my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) would call the "logistics" of the situation are favourable for the formation of a world government. It takes less time now to go from London to Australia than it took to travel from London to Edinburgh at the beginning of the 19th century. A speech made in this House on Monday evening can be reported in the newspapers which will be read at the breakfast tables next morning in New York, Sydney and San Francisco. The world now is a very much smaller place than it was 100 years ago. It is small enough for a world government to govern.

We have the United Nations organisation and to some extent that has been disappointing. It has been disappointing on account of its constitution and make up. In the Security Council one of the major Powers can veto the decision of all the other Powers put together. That means that if a major Power is going to commit aggression or is supporting a satellite which is going to commit aggression it can veto all action against the aggressor. The General Assembly is simply a debating assembly. It has become the arena for mutual vituperation.

The United Nations organisation has no international court to which offenders against the peace can be compelled to come in order to submit to justice. The United Nations organisation has no force under its own control which can be used to suppress the aggressor. We believe that it would be possible to change the constitution and the rules of the United Nations in order to make the United Nations a real world Government which could keep world peace. I came here this afternoon prepared to outline the various steps by which the United Nations organisation could be changed into a world government. I have not time to do that, but perhaps we shall have an opportunity of doing so on some future occasion.

Finally, I would plead in aid of my cause the words of a very great Englishman; the words of the present Prime Minister. The present Prime Minister has made many great speeches full of eloquence and inspiring phrases. Personally I think the speech he made in 1940, when he talked about us fighting on the beaches and never surrendering, will go down to posterity with the speech of Pericles to the Athenians and the speech of Lincoln at Gettysburg, but I think the Prime Minister never uttered a more noble passage nor a more inspiring passage than the one I shall now quote: So far as we know there are perhaps three or four years before the great progress of the United States can be overtaken. In these three years we must remould the relationships of the men of all nations in such a way that these men do not wish or dare to fall upon each other for the sake of vulgar, out-dated ambition and for passionate differences in ideologies, and that international bodies by supreme authority may give peace on earth and justice amongst men. From the least to the greatest all must strive to be worthy of these great opportunities. There is not an hour to be lost, not a day to be wasted. That is the finest plea I have heard for a world government, and I commend those thrice noble and eloquent words to the Joint Under-Secretary of State.

Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)

I beg to second the Motion.

I have great pleasure in seconding the Motion which my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) has moved in such interesting terms, but I am nonetheless pleased because the opportunity is a little unexpected. A little time ago I had the privilege of speaking in a debate on the problem of old people and it probably is not inappropriate that we go now to the other extreme and deal with a matter which is as embracing as possible—namely, the government of the whole world.

My hon. Friend spoke of the reasons why, after some 50 years of interest and experience in political work, he has come to the conclusion that world peace can never be established permanently upon this globe until the individual sovereign States surrender parts of that sovereignty to a world authority. He suggested that the elements of a world authority are to be found in the United Nations organisation.

The point I wish to make is that this is by no means an academic subject, because the Charter of the United Nations will come up for revision in a year or two. Article 109 of the present Charter states that unless there has previously been a conference for the revision of the Charter then, on the agenda of the Tenth General Assembly there shall be an item calling for a conference to consider the revision of the Charter. The Tenth General Assembly will be in 1955. I do not think, therefore, that it is too long a time ahead if we now begin to see in what direction we wish that Charter revised.

My hon. Friend gave his view, but it may also be said that, far from his being an isolated view, there are 80 hon. Members from all parties in this House who have joined with him in a Parliamentary group for world government, for the discussion of precisely this kind of problem. They believe that along the lines he has suggested rests the real hope of peace on our globe. In addition, there is already a similar group in the Parliaments of 27 other nations, so that the thinking of my hon. Friend is already shared by many men and women all over the world.

I think it right and proper that now, only two years before the General Assembly at which we shall have to state our policy in the United Nations organisation, Her Majesty's Government should give an indication of their thinking on this important matter.

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

I am sorry that we have such a short time in which to debate this extremely important and interesting topic, but in the few moments left may I sum up the views of the Government upon this Motion.

I listened with much sympathy to the two speeches in favour of a world Government. The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) developed an interesting and persuasive argument, based on many historical examples, but if he will forgive me for saying so I do not think he did full justice to the situation with which we are today confronted. I feel that he failed to answer the point which I once made in answer to a supplementary question addressed to me in the House on 21st July last. I said: My view is … that setting up a world Government can only follow and not precede such a degree of international understanding as, unhappily, does not exist today."— [OFFICIAL REPORT. 21st July, 1952; Vol. 504, c. 7.] It is for the reason that I feel that the hon. Gentleman has not answered that consideration that the Government cannot accept the last part of the Motion. The hard fact is that until the United Nations works better and works in an atmosphere of greater international understanding and co-operation any step such as the hon. Gentleman himself advocated for altering and making changes in the United Nations' Charter and making it into the constitution of a world Government or a world federation can be but merely patching over the cracks of the existing vast disagreements between the nations.

Before I go further I should like to answer the question put by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick). He asked what the views of the Government would be when this question of the future terms of the Charter comes up for debate in 1955. I can give no answer to that question at this stage. It is still some two years ahead and it would be too early to say what line Her Majesty's Government will take when that matter comes up for consideration.

In my view, the task of this and indeed of any Government in this country, given the present international tension and disagreement, must be to try and work first for greater international understanding. If we can achieve that, then will be the time, and then only, to devise machinery to maintain, harness and direct that understanding. It is no use setting up the machinery and then finding that there is nobody there to work it. But once that understanding has been achieved, I do not deny for one moment that the pooling of sovereignty in some form of world Government might well be a natural, practical and, indeed. a desirable development.

I think that all countries in the free world have already learned the bitter lesson that sovereignty is not enough. There, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it does not necessarily mean as a corollary that its total abandonment is enough equally to guarantee our security. Already all free nations have surrendered important degrees of the old conception of national sovereignty, and I think that much practical good, both in the economic sense and in the sense of military security, has already resulted. I need only mention O.E.E.C. and N.A.T.O. which, while preserving steadfastly the principle of inter-Governmental as opposed to federal co-operation, mean the pooling of resources and effort to a degree which I think was undreamed of 50 years ago.

But their success has been largely due to the fact that while all the countries have had the same aims none have felt chafed or cribbed by tightly drawn rules and over-rigid constitutions. Although that has been an important factor in some cases in these special circumstances, I agree that certain countries have preferred the federal approach. E.D.C. and the Coal and Steel Community are examples. But as a general principle it seems to me that the broader the range of countries involved the looser the framework governing their co-operation should be. This is certainly the case with regard to the United Nations.

The Government are, as the hon. Gentleman urges us to be, wholely committed to supporting the United Nations and to strengthening all those influences within it which genuinely desire and are working to fulfil the aspirations of its founders. We need no convincing that what is needed to make the United Nations work is not so much any extension of its Charter as more good will in the implementation of the existing Charter. Most of the limitations of the Charter—and no one denies that these exist—derive from the factual situation and not from internal constitutional weaknesses. It is this situation, and this problem, which have hamstrung the political work of the United Nations, but, fortunately, in other spheres, that of the specialised agencies, it has not been the case and they have been largely free of these handicaps.

Why have the specialised agencies been able to forge ahead and do useful work whereas the political organs of the United Nations have been hampered? I do not believe that it is because of any constitutional features or advantages in these specialised agencies. I believe that the real reason is that all the nations taking part in them had the same aim, which was to get on with the common job and do it properly and well, and that it is for this reason alone that progress has been made.

Fortified by these examples which I have given of successful international co-operation—and it is occasionally encouraging to look at the bright side of this matter—both inside and outside the United Nations, Her Majesty's Government will continue to strive for the broadest possible measure of understanding and agreement between the nations, knowing, as we do, that upon the success of our efforts will very largely depend our own peace and national security.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)

While agreeing that the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) has done a valuable service in bringing this question forward for discussion today, I am bound to say that I disagree with a great deal of what he said on this topic. I do so without any lack of sympathy in this matter, because I think that the proposal for world government which the hon. Gentleman and many of his colleagues support is one which is premature in a very wide sense.

I think that the hon. Gentleman's argument proceeded on a false analogy. It is true that political units have become larger as history has advanced—tribes have been combined together, small States have become federated—and it is true that, as that process has gone forward, the units concerned in it have ceased to fight internally. The individual States of the United States of America might well be fighting each other were it not that they are federated into a larger unit, and there is, to that extent, a valid argument underlying the proposal of the hon. Gentleman.

We can abolish conflicts by uniting in some federal or unitary form of Government the elements which might otherwise come into conflict, but, once we attempt to carry that process the next step forward and ask for world government, we find an entirely different situation. There is a difference not of degree, but of kind. As long as we have a plurality of units we may retain the virtues and all the abstract qualities, but, once we abolish that diversity and create world government, we shall establish the worst kind of monopoly, the most damaging and destructive kind of monopoly, that man could possibly devise for his own disadvantage.

It is essential that we should have a variety of separate national Governments, each putting forward different conceptions, and I would ask the House to listen to the very wise words spoken on this subject in a debate at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference at Berne, which I attended in August last, by Senator Tom Connolly, who, at that time, was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Congress: While I believe in collaboration between the Parliaments of the world, I do not believe in so-called world government. Each Parliament under our present system is a laboratory within which it generates, develops, and promotes ideas of government and democracy, and if we were to consolidate all this into one monopolist"——

It being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.